Friday, May 28, 2010

Again, this isn't the cover but a stand-in for now. I want to let you all know that Virginia Grenier from the Writing Mama blog interviewed me today.  Here's the link:

Have a wonderful, safe and happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Remembering those who have given their lives for our freedoms, now and always. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hi everyone, by now many of you have heard that my novel, Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon was accepted for publication by MuseItUp Publishing. I am so thrilled! This is not the cover it will eventually have. This is the one that Elizabeth made for me when we began NaNoWriMo last November. I think she did a great job, don't you?! Way to go, Bean!

For months I've been sitting in on the Author's Group at Muse fidgeting away wanting to get in on the promo fun and now I am! I submitted to Muse under a pen name because I wanted Primordial to go through the editorial fire. Of course, after I submitted it, I found a thousand mistakes, isn't it always like that? As an editor, I know I can't edit my own work; it's next to impossible. I'm so thankful to have the editorial team working on Primordial Sun!

I want to share a little about my writing process for a moment because I know I'm not alone here. Last November I started NaNoWriMo with the intention of writing a novel and no clue where to begin. I emailed all my friends asking for prayer, it's rare that I'm clueless when writing. I was mortified. I had a few stray thoughts from a dream and decided to write them down. From there came the entire plot that kept unfolding day by day.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is you aren't allowed to edit. I had to stuff my internal editor in the fridge, and just write. It proved to be the one thing that allowed me to write my heart out. By the time December rolled around, I had a decent story with some fun characters and a happy ending in mind if not down on paper yet. I put it away until January but got busy with other things so put it away again 'til March when I tremulously tried to edit...long story! I spruced it up and let it sit for a few weeks while I tried to come up with the ending.

By April I was restless in the Author's Group at Muse chiding myself for waiting till then to work. Now I had to coax my frost-bitten internal editor, out of the freezer with hot chocolate, of course, and beg her to fix my book. She obliged and we worked our fingers to the bone typing away on a marathon course while Paul fed the children Elio's, bless his heart.

Even with all that time immersed in the Amazon, there were still many details to research. Finally, finally it was almost ready by the end of the first week of May making me three weeks ahead of my self-imposed schedule. I took one more week to work through any more kinks, let the yeast rise, so to speak, and planned to submit on Monday, the 17th. One thing bothered me, I had no lead in to the second book but envisioned it clearly and even had a title. Monday morning a chapter came to me out of the blue, as they say, thank you God! I wrote it down, inserted it in the appropriate place and it became a decent bridge. Monday night I formatted, no small task, and submitted.

The rest of the week I sat on pins and needles waiting for the editors to look it over knowing the submission pool was full. One read it and accepted. Whew! I was elated but still quite nervous. Then another ante'd in and she accepted, too! In submissions we analyze for plot, characters, writing voice and market. I was sweating, people. I didn't think I could make it through the weekend and editors get busy, we can't always get to new subs right away. Then Friday morning I went through my email one by one instead of overviewing. I almost deleted the one from my boss by accident. Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon was accepted and the contract and paperwork was attached. I put my laptop on the coffee table and burst into tears dancing around the living room. I called Paul and Erica and woke the girls up with the news. Yeah! Then I shouted across the universe!

I don't know which is better, getting it fully written or having it accepted. Two dreams came true in one week. God is wonderful!

Just before submitting I went through a terrible time of doubt. Were my characters too whiney, who cares about these people anyway and what they're doing? Did I put enough location in, was the suspense paced well, should I kill off the main character, on and on. Maybe I shouldn't submit, maybe it wasn't ready. I called Paul who said three words before he hung up. Just do it. So I told myself and all those nagging thoughts, it's a fun read, a little romance, a little mystery and some supernatural stuff to boot, if nothing else, I'd read it.

Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon, book one, is releasing in April 2011 in ebook and sometime later in print. Here's the author page at Facebook so you can keep tabs on it and related happenings and also my author page at MuseItUp Publishing. A contest is underway for December I hear... but the rest, my lips are sealed until it hits the vitual bookstores, except of course for tiny teasers and character posts on the Muse blog!

If you like to write and need some fellowship or direction, send me a note. I write short stories as well and I'm always up for talking shop. I'm preparing a free download soon so check back from time to time. It will have some news about the book, some recipes and flash fiction.  If there's anything you'd personally like to see, let me know.

Photo credit: Unknown, taken from a copyright free website whose url is now lost. If this belongs to you, let us know and we'll take it down immediately. Photoshop by Elizabeth McGrath. This is not the official cover for Primordial Sun, the Heart of the Amazon. That will be posted soon by the amazing cover artists at MuseItUp Publishing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Parents of America on the Freedom Road

This week I visited a blog and read about the latest trends in homeschool. Some of the items were interesting and true. As a homeschool advocate and group leader, I’ve noticed a lot more fathers doing the majority of the teaching. I admire them greatly, especially when they get involved in the homeschool group. It can’t be easy hanging around mom’s all day. We like to compare notes on baby food and YA novels; baseball and cars, not so much. Sorry guys, but, hey, we’d love to learn more about those things.

One of the trends mentioned in this article was alarming on a number of levels. It says that state laws are changing and some states are requiring homeschooling parents to have college degrees. If that doesn’t beat all, was my first reaction. That just sort of fried me. I don’t think that’s true since it’s becoming much easier to homeschool these days, even in states that have been hostile.

But true or not, the mere mention of it is enough to intimidate some families. So let me address that right now.

You do not need a college degree to educate your children. The only requirement is that you are their parent.

If your school district requires that, please contact Home School Legal Defense Association Homeschool is a right protected by the Constitution. The only thing you need to teach your children is to be their mom or dad. The government cannot tell you what to teach or how to teach. They are allowed to ascertain that you are in fact teaching them in some states, but that’s as far as it goes.

People who are not familiar with freedom will immediately say things like “Don’t you need someone watching you?” or “How will anyone know if you’re doing your job?” which really means “How will anyone know you aren’t lying?” Someone is bound to say “Sure that’s great but aren’t you ruining their future?” My personal favorite is “How will you keep up with the public school?” My children’s test scores average 3 - 5 grades above their grade level. That didn’t happen until I got them home. Someone will then ask, “Well, do you do your own testing?” implying I cheat. You can’t intelligently converse with someone who is trying to control you, it’s impossible.

Freedom is a difficult concept for some people to grasp, I’m not sure many people really know what it is because they are still operating under the delusion that they have to answer to the principal at age 30, 40, and beyond, and that you should as well.

We don’t want to believe that we can be adults, it seems. Somehow we can trust our neighbors to get a job, pay their taxes, buy a car, select a mate and feed and clothe the children, but God forbid they don’t send their kids to school, they must be up to something, be one of those radical Christians or an isolationist. That article referenced on the blog said that in the 1990’s public perception of homeschoolers was just that, conservative Christians and isolationists. I was homeschooling then. That was not public perception then. The phrasing of that language is outrageous.

The government schools don't like people homeschooling. One time my local school district told me I couldn’t promote my students to the next grade without their permission. I politely told them they were not within their legal rights and asked my lawyer to give them a call. Once they told me I had to adhere to the hours of teaching per subject they outlined for their schools. I laughed; I was in their schools and there was no way they devoted that kind of time per subject. I politely told them I wasn’t on their payroll. I believe some of them are well meaning, it’s just people sometimes think the state schools and/or it’s private sector is an educational authority and are genuinely shocked that everyone does not carry their flag.

Another time they told me my daughter had to be enrolled in their school but she could study at home. That was rather insidious as they received 7K – 10K in federal funding for her to be in their school but I never saw a dime of it as her teacher. And they could fill her physical seat with another child and receive another 7K – 10K for that child. Again, I referred them to my lawyers.

Bottom line, if the state and private schools were wonderful, we wouldn’t have an estimated 2 million children in homeschool and that figure is from 2002, eight years old at this point. Granted they can’t count us all now, we’re growing too fast.

Before I removed my child from public school, I was given an incredible amount of intimidation, disrespect and false information by bureaucrats posing as educators. It’s sad really, they didn’t want to lose their federal funding for my daughter, nor did they want to lose her test scores which collapsed their overall test percentages at that particular grade school in Boston. It’s sad they didn’t want to lose her for who she is, not the numbers and funding she represented. They should have thought about that before discussing R rated movies with 9 year olds jeopardizing their emotional well being, some states constitute that as child abuse. It’s hideous what goes on in some of those Union-ized classrooms.

If you choose to homeschool, for whatever reason, be it your faith, a desire to protect your children from negative socialization, or just because you want to, there’s a lot of free info and assistance for you; email me with 'homeschool help' in the subject line, I’ve been doing this for well over 12 years. I’ll tell you my secret, I was homeschooling my daughter while she was in public school because the curriculum they had was inadequate. I had to teach her to read. Homeschooling was a no brainer as I’d been doing it already from K – 4 as it was. My daughter is in grad school now, working full time and running a business. She was welcomed by her college with open arms and no GED with my transcripts six years ago.

By the way, colleges should not be asking homeschool children for GED’s. Homeschool transcripts are legal and binding. In fact, if a college/university asks your child to get a GED, cross them off your list; that institution is exhibiting prejudice and ignorance. Put your hard-earned money in college that really wants them.

If you need a lawyer, membership in HSLDA is around $100. per year, legal services are free to members. If you can’t afford it, help is available.

Parents of America, get out from behind the eight ball. There’s a lot of open road on this Freedom stretch. I’d love some company.

Photo of Erica McGrath May 2009: credit Paul McGrath

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WOW! Women on Writing Fan of the Week and meet my boss, Lea Schizas

Hi everyone, WOW! honored me this week by making me their fan of the week. Wow! Women on Writing is a free ezine and blog that is chock full of writing advice and resources. It’s a place where writers and readers can connect. I’ve found many useful things through them and their quarterly writing contests are fun. If you have a moment please check out my bio and pics.

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When Lea Schizas mentioned she was looking for editors, I shot my hand up instantly. She is well known and doubly respected in Writing World as an author and mentor devoting her time and talent to helping writers. Lea's people-oriented attitude and her ethical business practices are refreshing. My colleagues are just as wonderful and our authors are superb. Please check out Lea’s interview with Rosanne Dowell.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Photo credits: Elizabeth McGrath

Friday, May 7, 2010

Boston Fire Department – Ladder 16 – God’s answer in time of need!

Last Friday, the girls and I were running frantically. They had to catch a bus in downtown Boston to go on their New York chorus tour with the Boston Children’s Chorus. We had all morning to get last minute things done, but time slipped through our fingers like water in a seive. Instead of our planned trip to Walmart about 40 miles away, we decided to run to Walgreen’s instead since it’s down the street, saving us at least an hour and a half. God forbid we were late, they’d be left behind and I’d win the Mother of the Year Award… not!

I parked and had my list ready. Elizabeth jumped out of the back seat chattering a mile a minute and asking me four questions in a row. I reminded myself to pay attention to what I was doing but I was losing fast! I heard the beeping, really I did, but I thought that was because the door was open.

I leaned over to lock the back door and still listening to her intently, made sure my door was locked and slammed the door shut at the same time Molly locked and shut her door. Elizabeth was quizzing me waiting for an answer but I couldn’t respond realizing the car keys were in the ignition. Not just my key but Paul’s as well! Oh my gosh! It was after noon, we had to be half an hour away by 1:30. The logistics were not working here, not by a long shot.

I told Elizabeth to check the back to see if it was locked and of course, it was. My first thought, call the Fire Department. My second thought, freak out. I stood there wondering if I should go into Walgreens to use their phone and thinking how silly because I had my cell. Should I call Paul? What could he do? Even if he could get there before 1:00, his key was in the car, too!

Just then like a dream, a fire truck drove through the parking lot, in slow motion. The only thing missing was the cool music in the back ground. I didn’t even think about it, I raised my hand for help. The driver waved back and I thought, oh no, he’s going to drive away! I ran through the lot waving him down and he pulled over grinning. I blurted our dilemma and a fireman jumped out to help, while the driver pulled the truck around. God supplied our knights in shining armor. Perhaps my first thought was really God telling me the fire department was on the way, he’d met our need before we knew we had one! Within minutes they had my keys in my hand while the girls and I watched in complete awe.

The whole saving thing is quite heady. The firemen were so cool and savvy, I contemplated inviting them over for tea to meet my marriageable daughter. We got to the bus in time and the girls buzzed about it to all of their friends. We’re still glowing from the miracle of it all.

Thank you, Ladder 16, thanks for the rescue and proving to my teens that firemen are heroes. The Boston Fire Department is the best! We’ll be planning that homeschool field trip soon!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Meet the Publisher, Authors and Staff; MuseItUp Publishing Tonight

Hey everyone!

This evening we are meeting at MuseItUp Publishing online for any questions you may have for anyone at Muse!  I am looking forward to it, that's for sure!

Here's the skinny:

Scroll down a post or two to find it. It has all the info you'll need.  Please note, it's a good idea to do this asap and try to enter the chat room before it starts at 9:00 tonight.  That way you'll work out any quirks before the event.

Hope to see you all there!