Thankful Thursday: This, That and You

Thankful Thursday: This, That and You

Lara Schiffbauer, a note to Karen Elliott and Me 
I’m multi-tasking today. I share this picture of Lara Schiffbauer, our note to Karen Elliott and me at the recent Pikes Peaks Writers Conference for a reason. Karen didn’t make it to the conference. We missed her. 
Our connection? We met through a blog and Facebook group. You can find out the name of the blog  at Jennifer Young’s Castles in the Sky today. For her Let’s Ask series, she asked me to pick two blogs that helped me grow the most during my writer’s journey and answer why. 
Speaking of Wish You Were Here — and no I did not plan the sign and this —Robyn Campbell of Putting Pen to Paper won the drawing for a copy of Beth K. Vogt’s Christian Romance novel Wish You Were Here. I’ve sent Robin an email. 
I added some tag bling.
The conference was wonderful. I’m ready to dig into the memoir manuscript after several revision, synopsis and editing workshops. 
I found myself in a bit of social media trouble at the conference after a mangled tweet. I tweeted from a workshop. Someone retweeted, but modified it without noting they had modified my tweet. 
I wanted to meet agent Donald Maass. Instead of a “hey I appreciate all the things you do for writers” comment,  I said that plus — “If you see a tweet from me, I didn’t call your point bullshit.” Did I mention it was awkward? 
Two writer friends stood a foot away snickering, because they couldn’t believe I was explaining this to Donald Maass. Hey, I never know if these big guys read their tweets and at mentions or not. What could be worse than explaining this to his face? Well, if he saw the tweet, actually remembered me and thought, “She was nice to my face, but called my point bullshit.” I don’t think it mattered to him, but it mattered to me. He kindly listened to my explanation. 
Rember the Dooney & Bourke bag? Well, it met Mark Coker of Smashwords at the airport.
Another fun part of the conference was I volunteered to pick up a faculty member at the airport. I was assigned Mark Coker of Smashwords. While he texted a warning he’d be late, I left my house early to avoid being covered in snot and mashed potatoes. 
My instructions were to make a sign and provide a bottle of water. I stuffed the Dooney & Bourke bag with water, a Kindle, notebooks (I wrote my April 12×12 in 2012 manuscript while waiting for his flight), a few snacks just in case and a sign. I had a normal sign and one with a reference to a line in his Twitter bio: Battler of Squirrels. 
I wimped out on just holding up the Twitter bio sign, because last minute I had an Oh I’m representing the writers conference moment. He liked the Twitter bio sign. 
A key lesson I learned during this airport shuttle: I really need adult time before picking someone up at the airport. I babbled about lots of writerly things, plus my ability to attract police with my speeding.
I’m grateful you followed my memoir posts for the the A to Z Challenge. I can’t thank you enough. The challenge, the writer’s conference and some real life things left me feeling challenged most of the month. They also made me want to write more. 
So this week, I’m doing the National Picture Book Writing Week Challenge
What are you up to this month? I’d love to hear from you.
Z is for Zimbabwe

Z is for Zimbabwe

A view of Victoria Falls from a helicopter.

Z is for Zimbabwe

The guy read my paperwork. I filled it out on the plane like all the other passengers before we landed in Victoria Falls.

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I’m a journalist,” I said.

He left his desk and consulted with his co-worker, who had waved through the last of the plane’s passengers. I was the only person left.

“What do you do?” the second man asked.

I sensed this was a problem, but repeated my answer.

“You need special permission to come into the country,” the first man said. “We’re not supposed to let journalists in without a permit.”

All the “no one told me this” cries bubbled into my head. “I’m here to see Victoria Falls,” I said. “My whole trip revolves around this.”

The two men whispered for a moment. The first said, “She clearly looks like a tourist.”

I could see the safari company’s guide lurking through the open doorway.

“I’m sure the guide would tell you. I’m here on holiday,” I said pointing to the woman.

They looked back, read my paperwork once more and allowed me through.

I should have known about the political issues in Zimbabwe. I mean our bags were limited on one the plane due to fuel issues. Robert Mugabe liked tourists in his country, but didn’t want journalists to snoop around.

While missionaries and workers in Zimbabwe shared stories of the problems, others — market vendors, van drivers, hotel clerks and waiters — begged us to say it was a safe place to visit. They needed tourists to return, so they could keep their jobs.

During my years as a journalist — from high school to adulthood — I’ve seen and experienced plenty of adventure, triumph and tragedy. My ability to ask questions has helped me in a million and one ways.

My advice to journalists on holiday in Zimbabwe? Just say your occupation is a writer.

Thanks for following along during my A to Z Challenge this month. I’ve shared some silly and sad stories. I appreciate your friendship and look forward to returning to a normal schedule in May. I’ve felt a tiny bit “challenged” this month. — Stacy 

On another note: 
Don’t forget the Wish You Were Here Giveaway.

Y is for youth

Y is for youth

I had some funky boots in high school.

Y is for youth

I have a notebook of poems and essays I wrote as a teen. While many are the standard angst filled pieces, I found this one to share with the characters Dude and Babe.  

One Minute Play 
Dude:  What’s the fuss about?
Babe: The toilet seat.
Dude: Looks fine to me
Babe: It’s up.
Dude: So.
Babe: It was made to be down. You always put the seat down. 
Dude: Couldn’t it just stay up.
Babe: But I’d have to always put it down.
Dude: Well, I always have to put it up.
Babe: Who cares?
The End
This was written on Aug. 14, 1988. I also wrote some young adult novels in my spare time. I’m guessing my parents properly destroyed all the papers I left under my bed. 
Oh, I cringe at the thought of these stories, but had so much fun writing them. Did anyone else do that?
My 80s, high school style.
On another note: 
Don’t forget the Wish You Were Here Giveaway.

X is for X-ray

X is for X-ray

Thanks for following along my A to Z Challenge memoir posts. We’re almost to the end. — Stacy 
As close as I could get to an X.  Photo by Tracy S. Williams

X is for X-ray

I never saw the film. I didn’t have to. I could tell. 
Breathing labored. Mucus discolored, dark. They added up to pneumonia before the X-ray machine ever clicked.
The hospital ordered an X-ray almost once a week to see whether Jimmy’s lungs fell victim to another infection. Pneumonia was like a bully always there to harass him after his brainstem stroke. 
“You need to step outside,” the tech told me after I helped him pull Jimmy’s body forward to drop the X-ray plate behind his back. 
They always asked me to leave, so I didn’t soak up the harmful X-rays that Jimmy did.
“If it’s bad for me,”I asked one day, “what happens to him.” 
The tech shook his head. “Well, you don’t want to do it all the time.”  
Several times a month and sometimes several times a week, Jimmy had an X-ray taken. The portable machine always followed Jimmy’s reports of “trouble breathing” and heavy mucus being sucked from his lung, since he couldn’t do this for himself. 
His X-rays became so frequent during one month, I decided to quit my job. I grieved that decision, but knew I had to make it. We often learn we can’t have everything. I wish we could, but sometimes there is an X in the equation we just can’t fill.
On another note: 
Don’t forget the Wish You Were Here Giveaway.

Perfect Picture Books: A to Z

Perfect Picture Books: A to Z

Enzo likes the simple wors and the funny Boynton artwork.

With the A to Z Challenge almost over, I decided to feature A to Z by Sandra Boynton for Perfect Picture Book Fridays. I may have to utlize this style for the A to Z Challenge in 2013. I’m feeling a bit “challenged” this month.

A to Z
Written and Illustrated by Sandra Boynton 
Little Simon Books, 1995, newly revised edition

Suitable for: Ages one and up

Theme/Topic: Alphabet

Aardvard Admiring
Beavers Ballooning
Cats Cleaning

Brief Synopsis: A simple alphabet books featuring animals and a funny action. Like “Hippos Hiding.”

Link to Resources: Back in February when I was all bold about participating in the A to Z. I offered the book Alphabet for Perfect Picture Book Fridays. It features a lot of animals too. Here’s an alphabet printable. We discuss ways (sometimes it’s a one-way discussion) the animals in Boynton’s book are doing unusual things. Here are alphabet worksheets.

Why I chose this book: I have the alphabet on the brain this month with the A to Z Challenge.

To find more picture books and resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and look for the Perfect Picture Books page.

And, here’s what I was doing while typing this post:
Discount Starburst Jelly Beans. Yummy.

W is for Wish You Were Here giveaway

W is for Wish You Were Here giveaway

Cover from Amazon
W is for Wish You Were Here giveaway
Giddy. That’s how I would describe getting an advance reader copy of Author Beth K. Vogt’s Wish You Were Here earlier this month. 
I couldn’t wait to begin reading the Christian romance novel, but we had company for Easter weekend. So, I tweeted and Beth responded: 
Then, I remembered something I read from an interview (and/or blog post) from Susanna Hill Leonard. Light bulb moment — Laundry. I will do laundry!
Another round of tweets:
Turns out, I couldn’t fold laundry during the visit. We enjoyed the company. Then, there was real laundry. After the machines were spinning, I began reading Wish You Were Here. I loved the book and hated to put it down. 
Here’s a blurb about the book from the Howard Books/Simon & Schuster’s author page:

Kissing the wrong guy days before her scheduled wedding leads Allison to become a runaway bride. But can it also lead to happily ever after?

Beth’s writing had me hooked from the first time I met Allison in her wedding dress to the very last page. 
All this talk about travel during the A to Z challenge this month and reading Wish You Were Here has made me want to pack a bag for adventure. Since I couldn’t do that, I put the advance copy I received of Beth’s book and mailed it to a friend. The book is traveling. 
Don’t fret. If you want to win an ebook or paperback, leave a comment by midnight (Mountain Standard Time) on May 1, when the book releases. I’ll select a random winner.  
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advance reader copy of Wish You Were Here from Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster. The opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I wrote about Beth’s nonfiction book in December.