My NPR Car Donation

I love words.

Twist them. Splinter them and create new ones. A virtual DIY lover’s dream. My absolute favorite word is contribūnation. Emphasis added for pronunciation.

Contribute (give) and donation (gift) smashed into one.

Any time I can practice giving gifts, I do.

In June, when I recognized my car was unresuscitatable*, I knew I’d contribute it to my local NPR station. The entire seamless process proved I’d made the correct decision. And then the email tax donation receipt: it was worth $1600 to them!

WFAEIf your car is ready for the hereafter, please consider passing it on to your local public radio or TV station. Google the location near you, search their site for vehicle donation. Take 2 minutes to fill out an online form, and you’re done! They arrange pickup!

I have one recommendation. If you’re a receipt kinda gal, like me, and need tangible evidence when you hand over your title, here’s my suggestion: print out your email confirmation from NPR for said tow truck driver to sign. The guy who picked up my car cheerfully obliged.

A few weeks later, when the car sold at an auction, I received the dollar donation notice. It’s tucked in my accountant’s file because it’s the best kind of contribunation: taxductible*!:)

*Yeah, another splintered word. Shall we count them? Nahh…

What words do you twist or splinter?

Escape Writing Rejection the Gluten Free Way

The signs on food packages and menus tell all: gluten free, paleo, dairy free. Or do they? I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up a packaged food item and was disappointed because the label misled me.

Ever had that happen? Package writing needs to be clear, concise and complete. Ah, you see where I’m going with this?! As writers, we must be mindful of those three c’s: clear, concise and complete.

Writing is a craft. You’ve heard that.

Practice makes perfect. Yep, that one, too.

Unfortunately, rejection often comes before publication.

Recently on Twitter, I saw a literary post from Greyhaus Literary Agency, “Sometimes writing a rejection is tough. Authors try really hard and sometimes the writing is just not there!” @greyhausagency.

Assuming you’d like to avoid (another) rejection letter, how do you know when your writing is publish-ready?

Dare I mention it takes practice to become a polished writer? Read, write, research, revise, repeat! Today, tomorrow, sick days, snow days, ad infinitum.

Here are the dirty details:

Step 1: Read. During your writing process, read. Books, articles, and biographies. Everything that interests you. Plus things that don’t. You’ll gravitate toward well-written works as your eye discerns good verses great. Take the time to construct succinct sentences. From there, build beautiful paragraphs. Carve out chapters to engage and mesmerize readers. We don’t ever want our readers to toss aside one of our books, dissatisfied with the contents. If you would like assistance and ideas on enhancing writing senses, see these posts: I Spy and Scratch and Sniff for Writers.

roxiewriterWhichDoorFirst

Step 2: Investigate. Determine your expectations by investigating your publishing possibilities. Where you decide to send your manuscript is extremely important! Do you want a small publisher, who accepts manuscripts from writers? Do you want an agent, to represent you to large publishing houses? Or do you want to pursue self-publishing options? While you write, keep your publishing path in mind: adjust your work to accommodate their submission’s policy.

Step 3: Listen. As you prep your work – gulp – get feedback. Not from your mom. Nor from a spouse. But from readers, critique partners, social media connections, etc. Put yourself out there and listen, really pay attention to what others are saying about your work. In a previous post, “Hear No Evil…” I dive into the benefits of a critique group.

Step 4: Adjust. Develop a thick skin. You aren’t an expert, can’t possibly please everyone (you already know that!), so don’t be defensive about your writing – feedback isn’t personal. Separate yourself from your writing, by distance and emotional resistance. Even if you experienced what you’ve written, you may need to adjust the words for readers. Bears repeating: don’t be defensive.

Step 5: Edit. Once you’ve determined your publishing path, heard and adjusted your book based on feedback, find an editor. Someone who is knowledgeable in developmental (aka substantial/substantive) editing. For more details about editing and DIY steps, see my editing series, here.

By preparing, you create impeccable work, and you avoid a mislabeling mishap, vis á vis, rejection! Join the ranks of practicing writers, i.e. practicing lawyers, practicing physicians, lol!

Your reward will be visible: your chosen publication path and, yes, money!

Keep reading, writing, researching and revising!

*Disclaimer: I am a gluten free glutton – love trying the latest recipes, so in NO way should this be considered a slam on gluten free-ers.

Shake a Tree, Write a Book

 

So you want to write a book. And you have an idea for the plot, protagonist and even the antagonist. But, how well do you know those characters?

Why not shake your family tree? As a writer, you have the unique ability to reach into your bag of tricks, be they family close by, or ancestors.

I’ll offer an example: My grandfather, now deceased, was a first generation American. His parents came from Austria, and were industrious. Survivors, choosing to chase opportunities. Firmly planted in the northeast U.S., they had a son, and named him after the Archangel Michael, because he was their shining light.

At nineteen, Michael captured the heart of his teen Lenape neighbor. The two became one, and children dotted their hand-built home front. The family thrived under Michael’s boisterous spirit, while his work ethic steered them into upper middle class.

I skim Michael’s life’s surface to set a quick background reference point. He had many facets. One in particular that always struck me as odd: he would leave the room, whistling, during certain TV commercials or conversation topics. Can you say feminine hygiene?

Michael was modest, and as I observed his patterns, this towering, bear hugging man, would whistle up a tune when he was embarrassed. Mild and quiet. As I grew older, I never saw him loose his temper. But he did. My uncle and father saw explosive episodes, and if the middle son had survived, he would have witnessed it as well. More to him than meets the eye, particularly a granddaughter’s eye.

Here’s my advice: Find the complexity. Dig deep to uncover oppositional traits. It’s definitely necessary for character building, and absolutely spot-on in real life. If you need inspiration, shake, shake, shake; shake that family tree!

WriterShakeRLHanna@roxiewriter

Look at those branches, ask family and friends questions, and take copious notes. When you are ready to write your memoir, you’ll be ahead of the game, totally organized! But in the meantime, I hope you discover character aspects to drive you forward in your fiction writing.

Till next time,

Roxie

Writers, fire up your Time Machine!

 

 

As someone pointed out to me recently, I have become quite comfy as a couch cushion for my cats. A veritable sleeping perch that pleases them. (Why this therapeutic work microsphere? Tap, transfer, here.)

When I was a child, home recuperating from my numerous maladies, I would read. My teachers sent me missed schoolwork and library books. When I wasn’t sick, I biked daily after school to our one-story public library. I’d sprawl on the rust-colored carpet, book in hand, oblivious to the world.

During the summer of my eleventh year, I’d read every book in the children’s section of that small library. I recall a day in early August, choosing to reread a BOXCAR KIDS book by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Mrs. Miller, one of the librarians, tapped my shoulder, and commanded I follow her around until she finished her reshelving task. To my great surprise, she walked me over to the grown-ups side of the building.

Back then, the library had sections: for paperbacks, records, encyclopedias, and biographies. I was familiar with those, as they were on the checkout desk’s fringes. But nearby, enormous shelves opened, awaiting my inquisitive eyes, the ADULT SECTION.

In the adult section, I’d sit on the black and white linoleum floor, reading, until the library closed. To say no one in my family missed me during the day is an understatement. They sent me out of the house in the morning, and expected me at bedtime. Occasionally I might wander in during dinner hour, knowing I’d scavenge for something, if a host friend couldn’t be found.

Ooops, I digress. We’ll have to save all those stories about growing up in the 1970’s for another time.:-)

SirraReading@roxiewriter

Throughout that summer, I discovered a huge (Yuge as Bernie Sanders might say), realm of scientific, political, sociological, mythical, and magical realms. I silently studied, quoted, and even sang new words, imagined new worlds.

Reading was my refuge. I was in a dreamlike state, from morning until midnight. Bliss!

Anyone else experience that?

If you are a writer, are you first and foremost a great reader? Are you approaching your genre, be whatever it may, with youthful vigor and vim? I challenge you to mentally transport yourself to the years when you fell in love with reading. Tap into that energy anytime you need to jolt your creative juices.

In this fast-paced, social-centered world we find ourselves, use your time machine. Use it often.

Thoughts?

Roxie

Summer Contrast: Writing Prompt

 

Love the power of a photo. Add in a juxtaposing quote, and bam, brain muscles flex. I hope this pic from a recent outing summons your creative juices. You decide the W’s: where, why, when, etc.

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.” ─Russell Baker

summerpower@roxiewriter

Credits: Brainyquote, discover more here. 

We don’t get a practice round at life

 

I’m baaaack! So why not celebrate with a song? I prefer Alternative Rock, but for today, I have an oldie on my mind. A nostalgic appreciative tribute, for my friends.

“Let your love fly like a bird on a wing, And let your love bind you to all livin’ things, And let your love shine and you’ll know what I mean, That’s the reason.” ─ The Bellamy Brothers.

Love heals. Good friends sending healing vibes, prayers, and messages heal, too. You all have helped me heal. Thank you for your kind letters, email, and thoughts, these past months. Your encouragement has lifted me more than you will know.

Good, bad and ugly things have happened in the world during my eight month absence. Sigh…

I passed the time concentrating on one goal: healing. Selfish for sure. Not only did I stop working, I ended all my volunteer duties: literacy organizations, mentoring writers and small businesses. I even closed my Facebook account. : )

Today I’ll share some very personal highlights. Which may have notes similar to a country song. You know, like, “My dog ran away, my wife is cheating on me, and my best friend stole my car.” That kind of song.

No disrespect directed at the country music industry. They have a way of writing that stabs into the heart of an issue, wrenching our emotions hither and yon. Add twanging stringed instruments, there you are pulled into the immediacy of the setting.

That’s good writing. We writers want our readers touched, drawn into the world we create. See, I meant it as a serious compliment.

So, after a long dry spell, I am back. Not quite 100%, but moving in that direction.

Spoiler alert, exclamation point police, the following post uses more than my allotment.

Now to my country song, sans music and rhyme:

Verse One – I closed the business, yet numerous details end up taking months to complete. My grandbaby was rushed to the hospital for breathing problems, TWICE! He is okay… And because I’m taking a non-traditional approach to this third bout with endometrial cancer, my family questions my sanity.

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” ─ Kenny Rogers.

Verse Two – The New Year rang in quietly. Like a turtle, slow and steady, I created a routine, gaining strength of mind and body. Then, sad news: my grandmother passed away. Days later, a slight concussion and a rescue cat rabies scare kept me vigilant! Happy to report that neither had permanent penalties.

“Well, I woke up Sunday morning, with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt” ─ Johnny Cash.

Verse Three – I found my healing stride, YESS! As fate tends to deal equality, my heating and air unit quit, Reno, our long-haired tuxedo cat experienced two separate bladder blockages (emergency vet visits!), and my car retired, forever.

“There’s just a little old fashioned karma coming down. Just a little old fashioned justice going round. A little bit of sowing and a little bit of reaping, a little bit of laughing and a little bit of weeping. Just a little old fashioned karma coming down.” ─ Willie Nelson.

Verse Four – Same song, only more. Hawthorne, our tri-colored kitty quit eating, it may be this, or it may be that, still working with vet on what. Another emergency trip for my grandson, and tests, indicating allergies and asthma, for which he’s receiving meds. And then, less than two weeks ago, my mother passed away, after a difficult battle with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

JohnMichaelMontgomeryQuote@roxiewriter

“Life’s a dance you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry about what you don’t know. Life’s a dance you learn as you go.” ─ John Michael Montgomery.

We don’t get a practice round at life, but there is comfort along the way. When I started collecting my thoughts for this post, it was about a month ago. Since then, many people across the globe have experienced personal tragedies. But, as I push through pain, and focus forward, it is my hope to encourage others who are hurting. Let’s embrace each other and grow stronger, together.

And keep a song in our hearts…

Till next time,

Roxie

Top Twos-Day: Turtle Doves?

 

Ever made holiday stockings? Way back when I was a young mom, and our house was filled with kids and animals, visiting friends and family, we decorated stockings for each pet and guest.

The only pet we didn’t have was an indoor bird. Had doves, and turtles, lol.

Over the decades, I made hundreds of stockings, some quilted, pieced with felt, lace dressed, fur-lined, plain and plaid.

roxiewriter pet toe stockings

 

One year I saw this idea for a toe stocking and it stuck! Not only did we make them for ourselves, but I shared the pattern with the kids’ sewing class that I taught.

Ahhh, those were the good ‘ole days. Glad to have pics…um…well these are new pics because I kept the stockings. Oh yeah, I so did!

If you made holiday stockings, have you kept them?

If we miss each other over the next few weeks, I wish you a two-riffic holiday season!

Roxie signature pic insert

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