politics

Show your love

If you follow U.S. elections, you know that Democrat Doug Jones won the Senate seat in Alabama yesterday, largely due to the turnout of Black voters. CNN reported that 98% of Black women and more than 90% of Black men voted for Jones.

Kamala Harris (right) at a rally for the Affordable Care Act, June 2017.

So, why did college-educated white women (and men!) mostly vote for Republican candidate Roy Moore? Moore has been accused of sexual encounters with teenage girls and has romanticized the times before slavery was abolished.

If you are a women, know a woman, or have any female members of your family, it does not make sense to support Moore. If you are in favor of Black people having equal rights, it does not make sense to support Moore. What is the explanation for his popularity among the majority of white Alabama voters?

  1. Many educated white women and men still believe it is okay for men to sexually assault girls and women.
  2. Many educated white women and men still believe it is okay to discriminate against Black people.

As a friend on Twitter said last night, while the election results were being reported,  “Privilege is a powerful drug.”

If you are reading this and you are a white person, thinking, “But I’m not like that!” then take concrete steps to disprove the statistics. Support organizations, businesses, and political candidates who stand for values that support all people, regardless of race or gender.

Sign that reads, "Green jobs not jails."
Photo courtesy of Brooke Anderson at https://www.flickr.com/photos/brooke_anderson/773438823

Here’s a list to get you started:

 

 

 

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Embracing Creativity, Uncategorized

Unique gifts for Christmas (or whatever you celebrate)!

If you’re like me, buying gifts can be great or torturous. Great if it’s for my mum — she likes everything from earrings to bath salts to wacky dishtowels. Torturous if it’s for my husband — he likes expensive watches that I can’t afford! So, I decided to put together a list of unconventional gift ideas. Feel free to add your own in the comments section!

For parents of young children

  • membership to the local children’s museum, zoo, or science center (check to see if they have reciprocal agreements, where one membership can get you in for free or half price to other museums)
  • yoga classes to exercise and de-stress!
  • for new dads, a subscription to The Rad Dad Box (started about two years ago by my friend Michelle and her husband after they had a baby) RadDad
  • specialty magazine subscription about something they love but wouldn’t spend money on (exotic cars, cottage living, teapot collecting, dollhouse furniture, miniature railroads, model planes, book reviews…)

For all grown-ups

  • creative writing lessons (a very good online course for beginners is www.writingclasses.co.uk)  ourdogbluexmaswhite2017jpg
  • membership to a local museum, especially if membership includes free tickets to events at the museum (such as movies, music shows, and special exhibitions)
  • beer or wine or spirits made locally
  • concert tickets for a group they love but haven’t seen for years (one year, I got my dad tickets to The Moody Blues, one of his all-time favorite groups)
  • car wash/detailing coupons (okay, kind of boring, but my husband likes this)
  • gifts from stores that support good causes, such as Kiva’s store, Ten Thousand Villages, and more listed on this site
  • something handmade and unique on etsy.com

For kids

  • a tent for camping in the back yard or in the living room (I’ve heard that Ace Hardware has affordable, easy-to-put-up ones!)
  • magazine subscription (some good ones are Ranger Rick, Highlights, Muse, OWL, Dig, chickaDee, and Upfront)
  • subscription to pixton.com, where they can make their own comic strips

Gift suggestions from my kids  Barbie with hand-made clothes

  • unlimited amounts of toys and candy
  • a toy train
  • a “secret box with a password to get in”
  • a “kit to make Barbie doll clothes”
  • kits to make monster trucks and race cars
  • a science kit “to make potions” and “experiments” and volcanos
  • a pretend dentist kit for kids “to fix someone’s teeth”
Uncategorized

A Southern Writer’s Network

A quick update… I received a comment the other day on my old blog, A Southern Writer’s Network, which made me want to go back and update it! On that blog, I listed writing events in the South and wrote posts about Southern authors. I limited it to the Southeastern United States, mainly because it was easier for me to keep track of just one area! Anyway, stay posted for more updates…

FYI, I’ve also been listening to some great podcasts by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). Someone Knows Something is a series concerning cold cases. It’s really well done and worth a listen! Season 1 investigates the disappearance of 5-year-old Adrien McNaughton in 1972 (see his photo below and an artist’s rendering of what he might look like today).

Education

What history?

education-1959551_960_720What a difference a few sentences can make. I just finished listening to one of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcasts for his series “Revisionist History.” In this episode, “Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment,” Gladwell explores the fallout from the 1954 Supreme Court Case Brown v. Board of Education.

The Supreme Court found that “separate but equal” was unhealthy for Black children, that being segregated was fundamentally “bad” for their psyche and self-esteem. But that was not what the NAACP had been fighting for.

From the mouths of two Black parents who took part in the court case, Leola and Oliver Brown, they had no complaints with their daughter’s school (Monroe School, shown below). They loved the teachers, thought the education was “fantastic.” They just wanted all Black parents to have a choice of where to send their children to school.

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From Gladwell’s podcast:

So what does the US Supreme Court do in 1954 in the Brown decision? It buys into the southern way of thinking about race. Leola Brown and the other plaintiffs say, “We have a structural problem. We don’t have the power to send Linda to the school down the street.” The court says, “No, no, no, it’s a psychological problem. Little Linda has been damaged in her heart.” That may seem like a small distinction, believe me it’s not. We’re still dealing with the consequences.

Those few sentences by the Supreme Court made a huge difference to children across the segregated South. What do you think happens when Black schools and Black teachers are ruled to be inferior? What happens to teachers and students deemed “deficient”? The fallout is huge. Listen to Gladwell’s podcast, or you can find a transcript of it here.

The New York Times published an excellent, related article earlier this year: “Where Did All the Black Teachers Go?”

Book Reviews, Conferences, Fiction

Red Hot Carolinas!

I recently attended Red Hot Carolinas, the annual conference for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) — long story short, it was a lot of fun and I met so many talented writers and artists. But my favorite part was learning about all the brilliant Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction books out right now.

I trained as a creative writer in an MFA program that focused solely on literature for adults — I hadn’t realized what I’ve been missing out on all these years! I’ve just started reading two Middle Grade books, and I have to say that they are every bit as insightful (maybe more so) and beautifully written as “grown up” fiction.

Orphan Island is hauntingly lovely, reminding me a tiny bit of Lord of the Flies, but much less violent. It tells the story of 9 children who live on a strange but wonderful island, alone. Every few years, the oldest must leave and a new young child appears.y648

Call Me Sunflower takes me back to being the new kid in middle school! The description of the cafeteria — the smell of boiled cabbage, the tables full of kids who already know each other — made my stomach lurch. I’ve been there. The way the snooty kids act when an “outsider” sits at their table without being invited made me tense up. I’ve been there, too. 9781510711792-frontcover

Some more books that are now on my reading (and “to buy”) list:

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Goldie Blox series by Stacy McAnulty

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons

There are many more, but I’ll save those for later reviews!

 

Book Marketing, Bookstores

Advice from a bookshop owner…

I speak as a bookshop owner. Someone who loves books. Most of us that run bookshops do, so please bear in mind that if you want us to stock your book we theoretically, will lend a receptive ear. But here are a few tips to help make the whole submission process a bit easier. Running…

via Getting Your Book Into A Bookshop — Women Writers, Women’s Books

Fiction, The Rain Catcher

Maps, Scottish glossary essential!

YA novel, The Rain CatcherI’ve just (10 minutes ago!) updated my middle-grade novel The Rain Catcher with a catchy table of contents and have added two maps — one of the British Isles and one of Scotland. I’ve also added a glossary of Scottish slang for those difficult-to-understand words, like “drookit”! These were all additions I had planned earlier, but life intervened, and I am just now getting to it!

If you’re interested in reading a free sample of The Rain Catcher, please go to my Smashwords page, and you can download the text in just about any format you need! I’m also hoping to do a giveaway at some point in the not-too-distant future, so stay posted!