The Cracker Queen

This weekend I attended an excellent and entertaining workshop presented by the Atlanta Writer’s Club. I’ve been working on a couple of writing projects for awhile, now, and seem to have hit a wall.  Lauretta Hannon (The Cracker Queen) spoke on the importance of platform for writers. She kept us on our toes with crucial tips to getting ourselves “out-there.”  I totally love that Lauretta, like myself, is a “Whup-Ass Southern Woman”.  The “anti-Southern Belle”.  I am looking forward to reading her book “The Cracker Queen”.

2 hours into the workshop, our break was announced. Immediately,  100 women ran to get in line for the 2 stalls in the bathroom. Thankfully, I’m retaining water, (another symptom of Mental Pause,) so I wasn’t so desperate to pee just then.  So I took the opportunity to buy a book and get it signed. While in the book line, I had a brief conversation with a nice 70-something gent about the book he is writing.  Then I  got in the (now shorter) bathroom line.

As soon as I came out of the bathroom,  the man approached me.

“Would you like to go out with me sometime?” he asked.


“Well, I’m married,” I replied.

He looked at my hand.  “You are? I don’t guess that would sit too well with your husband,”  he replied.

I held up my naked ring finger. “Oh, well, see, I don’t have my wedding band on because I’ve gained so much weight, I don’t know if it’s water or age or what, I had to take it off and I just can’t get it back on and it cuts off my circulation and I’d hate to lose that finger and all, I tried to get it re-sized but it was too expensive so I probably should just lose weight but it’s really hard…

I have no idea the purpose of that aimless babble. We both stood there for an awkward moment before the lights flashed, marking the end of the break.

I dashed back to my seat and pretended to scrutinize my notes.

I felt bad for him, sort of. I mean, he put himself  “out there,” which, I bet, is really hard to do. Especially when you’re, um, old.  Then again, good for him. I admire his balls. You know what I mean.

After the conference, I ran into him in the doorway.

“Good Luck,” I smiled, not sure if I meant with his book or finding a date.

On the drive home, I thought about the day. The workshop. The man. The necessity to “put ourselves out there” in order to achieve what we want. I vowed to make more of an effort, even at the risk of rejection, to accomplish my goals. Yep, starting now, I’m gonna put myself out there. Thanks, Lauretta. Thanks, Mr. Man.

There’s nothing like a good picture book. Well, except oysters. And red boots. But other than that, I love sitting down and reading a few words and looking at great illustrations. I’m not sure if you know this, but I am working on several picture books right now. Mostly books about dogs, since that is my real passion.

On Wednesdays, I read at the local library for preschool kids. The child librarian, Madigan Mcgillicuddy (isn’t that the perfect name for a child librarian???) has set up a wonderful program with lots of cool things going on over at the Ponce Branch of Atlanta Fulton public Library.

Anyway, I was over at Madigan’s blog, and saw this post on “Where the Wild Things Are” narrated by Christopher Walken. Have a watch. Since it is mostly pictures, he describes them in his own words.  It’s funny.  Really funny.

This weekend in Atlanta, I attended my first Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference.  Dubbed “Spring Mingle”, it is the Southeast members yearly big whoop-dee-do. Since I’ve only recently decided to write children’s books, it was the perfect introduction into the world of the craft. There were so many amazing attendees present, writers, illustrators, presenters, and published authors.

My favorite part of the conference was a critique of my picture book (manuscript only, I’m not an illustrator) by an editor and writer that has published over 50 children’s books of her own.

The critique was optional. For $40, anyone could send in their work for a one on one, 15-minute critique.  I had done this in the past for a non-fiction book that I had been working on, and it did not go very well. This one was so markedly better. For one thing, I wasn’t nearly as nervous. My critiquer put me at ease, and we actually had a lot in common. She also gave me both written and verbal suggestions to strengthen my work, but overall had many positive things to say about it. YAY!

During the conference, there was a lot of buzz among participants about the growing popularity of kindle and e-readers.  This has been of growing concern to writers of all genres over the last couple of years. Will books, much like record albums, become a novelty item from the past?  Will all of our reading, from news to magazines to books be electronic in the near future?

I know of several friends already that get their news delivered online. I also have a few friends that utilize kindle. Like in most things hi-tech, I am a hold-out. I like my newspaper in the morning, along with my coffee and cereal. I don’t mind that black newsprint rubs off on my forearms and finger tips. There is something about the whoosht of getting the folds out of the opened paper that puts me at ease.

Books? I love the feel of the pages in my hands, the smell of an old favorite on my nightstand. And in the children’s book world, specifically picture books, I can’t imagine them being confined to a small electronic screen. I want to point to the pictures, so colorful and vivid, hearing the feedback from the children hearing them and looking at the pictures. I can’t imagine a mother sitting with her child in her lap learning to read on a tablet. It’s just not right.

Kindle and E-readers have their advantages, though. One that is important to me is the fact that they take no paper to add to pollution or the hacking of our trees. They take up less room in your purse, and you can load hundreds of books on them for a mere $10.00 a pop. All huge bonuses.

But what do you do when a newer, shinier version comes out? Electronic waste is a huge problem, and I don’t want to contribute to it. ( I resell or pass my books along to other readers).

Here is an older post I came across this week about the subject.  It’s an ongoing hot topic.

What are your thoughts about pulp-y books vs. e-books? Have you made the switch? Are you a resister? Add a comment and share your thoughts.