June 15, 2018

—Kentucky author Randi Lynn Mrvos tells all—
Dopey and Sleepy, but not Happy or Literally Letting the Cat out of the Bag 
Children's Writer's World, Putty sleeping

I never should have never tried to drug drugged a stray cat.

Putt-Putt is the black and white stray cat they were feed and care for.

Our family thought it would be a good idea to take him in for a check-up with our veterinarian.

The big question was, how do you catch a cat that doesn't want to be caught?  A friend suggested that I give him a sedative.  I thought that was brilliant.

I explained the situation to my vet and he approved a mild sedative.  The following morning, I crushed only a quarter of the tablet and put it in his food.

Within five minutes his eyes were glassy.  I gently slipped the cloth laundry bag over him and pulled the drawstring.

Well, that was easy.  Putt-Putt only had to sleep for a few hours until his appointment.

And then, Putt-Putt must have realized something was not quite right.  No ground beneath his paws. No blue skies overhead.  He went berserk.  Lord have mercy, this cat was on a mission to escape faster than Harry Houdini.

I called my husband's cell.

It was 6:00 am.

"Jim.  Hurry.  I need you to go get the pet carrier."

"What?  Where are you?"

"I'm on the deck with Putt-Putt.  He's trying to get out of the bag."

Putt-Putt was not trying to get out of the bag, he was DETERMINED to get out of the bag.

My loving and devoted husband knew ahead of time what I had hoped to accomplish.  He scrambled out of bed and dashed into the garage for the carrier and began to climb the steps to the deck where I had one unhappy supposedly-drugged cat.

He arrived just in time to see Putt-Putt slice the bag and tear it to shreds with his claws.

No problem, he'll probably calm down and sleep it off.  I mean, he's doped up.  Right?

Putt-Putt took off like a bcat out of hell.

I hadn't counted on him getting agitated and scared.  I expected him to take one long cat nap.

Then an enormous amount of guilt swallowed me up.  Here was this sedated cat that I love disappearing to who knows where and it was all because of me.

I had visions of my beloved stray being hit by a car.  Chased by a dog.  Carried away by a hawk.
If you've ever seen The Proposal with Kevin the dog (replace Kevin with Putty) you'll know what I mean.

I searched the neighborhood and called for him throughout the morning meanwhile swearing I would never ever try this stunt again.

By early afternoon, Putt-Putt returned to sleep on our deck. Unharmed.  When he awoke, I had a big dish of sedative-free cat food waiting for him.

As for getting him in to the vet and having his health checked out, I'm not sure that's going to happen.

All ideas sound good theoretically at first.  The same is true with writing or any other task.  Some ideas work, others don't.  You've got to try and see.

But if the idea sounds questionable from the very start and it includes a cat, it's probably best to scratch it.








June 6, 2018

—Kentucky author Randi Lynn Mrvos tells all—

And Then Came Velázquez

Velazquez menina

I'm a bit of a French Impressionist art snob.  Nothing can compare to Monet and Renoir, and my favorite, Van Gogh. 

Then came Velázquez. 

I didn't mean to fall in love with his work.  His work came to me.

When my husband and I arrived in Spain last April, we dropped off our luggage and began exploring the  neighborhoods of Madrid.  As we wandered around, we discovered vibrant statues placed all over the city in honor of Diego de Velázquez.

Velázquez (1599-1660) was the royal painter in the court of Philip II in Madrid.  He sought to capture the reality of things and people rather than follow the classical standard of ideal beauty.    

The Maids of Honour by Velázquez were placed in streets, squares and recognisable settings. According to Meninas Madrid Gallery - Turismo Madrid  the statues "express the vision of the city of their creators, diverse personalities from the world of art, film, sport and celebrities in general. 

The initiative reinterprets each of the Infant Margarita’s maids of honour in the famous painting 
Las Meninas (The Ladies in Waitingby Velázquez in the form of a sculpture. The aim is to portray the plural identity of the Spanish capital through a street museum made up of more than 80 Maids of Honour.  Two metres high, each one will carry an individual message and, together, they will help to reveal Velázquez’s 'infinite message.'”   

The painting of Las Meninas is enormous—10.5 ft x 9 ft.  Imagine the undertaking that fell on Velázquez's shoulders:  deciding the viewpoint, the colors, the composition, how to add symbolism and mystery, and even where and how to insert himself in the painting!

So these little maids got me thinking about writing.  And how writing is like art.


painted-smeared hand holding pen and paint brush
Writers paint with words.

We wrap our words in symbolism and mystery.   We consider viewpoint.  We color our work with alliteration, assonance, simile and metaphor.  We observe the world around us.  We notice details.  

Our styles are as different as the canvases of Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, and Velázquez.

Our voices are unique.

We are artists.

And sometimes whether we're in the throes of writely bliss or in the despair of writer's block, or on vacation, or doing whatever it is we do daily, the universe brings us something we don't expect.  Something significant is put in right in our path...

to notice, observe, admire, and inspire. 

http://mentalfloss.com/article/68209/14-things-know-about-velazquezs-las-meninas





May 30, 2018


—Kentucky author Randi Lynn Mrvos tells all—
Learn with the Manuscript Academy  
literary agents at the Manuscript Academy

My new manuscript was sh*t. (My husband tried to warn me the piece needed more work). 

Thinking it was good enough to submit, I had a 10-minute conversation with a literary agent, where I heard for a second time the story needed help.  

This short phone call with a member of the  Manuscript Academy saved me from submitting a poorly developed manuscript.  Without having this conversation, I would have submitted my work to agents and gotten rejections (and been in the dark about why it was rejected).   

I stumbled across this amazing online conference when I searched for agents.  I read that for a low price, you could have a consultation with an agent to discuss a manuscript and a query letter.  

I'm glad I did. 

The Manuscript Academy is a unique online instruction can be enjoyed from the comfort of your home.  All you need is a computer, a tablet, or even your smartphone to log in and you will receive advice and instruction from some of the best minds in the literary community.  

Here is what is available: 
  • Access to exclusive recorded classes and panels, designed to educate you about need-to-know topics such as how to submit your work, what agents and editors are looking for, how to craft amazing novels and books, the business of writing and promotion, and much more. You will have access to many high-quality recorded video presentations for 30+ full days—so you can pause, rewind, and notes at your own convenience. See the full schedule of classes here.
  • Opportunities to pitch agents and editors one-on-one online. Using just your computer, you can arrange one-on-one pitches with literary agents and publishing house editors who are actively seeking books and clients right now. (Pitches are optional. You can sign up for as many pitches as you like.)
  • Critique opportunities for your work. If you want a professional critique of your work, then Manuscript Academy has opportunities for you. Our awesome faculty of agents, editors, and published authors offer detailed critiques of manuscript pages, query letters, synopses, and nonfiction book proposals. This is an amazing opportunity to get expert feedback on your work. Plus, Manuscript Academy members also gain access to our Academy Forum, which allows writers to connect with each other and form online writing critique groups.
  • Live query and first page workshops and discussions (in groups of up to 10) on topics ranging from Publishing Law to How to Be A Trendsetter, Not Trendy. All of these are designed to be introvert friendly.
For under $50, I had a ten-minute consult with a well-known literary agent.  For me, it was a little nerve-wracking because she was late calling.  I was nervous to begin with and then...my computer went to sleep.  

I clicked and moved my mouse frantically.  

I got panicky.  I wanted it to wake up, wake up, WAKE UP!   

Luckily, I had jotted down my questions in advance so it was easy to continue.  Halfway through our short conversation, the agent told me that the middle of my manuscript was weak.  OMG, she suggested how to improve it!  

The Manuscript Academy was right for me.  And it may be right for you.  Poke around on the website and discover how the classes and consults work.  Read the testimonials.  Imagine talking about your manuscript with a professional and learning how she feels about it.  Find out if your work is ready to sent out agents. 

$49 + 10 minutes =  priceless knowledge




May 15, 2018


Where We Write

Ernest Hemingway wrote in a study surrounded by big game trophies mounted on light sea-green walls.  Samuel Clemens penned many of the stories we know today in a billiard room.  Robert Frost composed his poetry in two or three-room farmhouses that overlooked stone walls, apple orchards and sugar maples.  Oh, to have a fabulous writing place.  
    
I’ve yet to try writing in a café or coffeehouse, as suggested by Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones.  According to Goldberg the atmosphere of a café can improve concentration.  She states that writing in cafés keeps the sensory part of you busy and happy and enables the quieter part of you that creates and concentrates free to do so.  Though writing in a café has its benefits, she advocates using a writing room filled with your writing tools.  “Creating a writing space is another indication of your increased commitment,” says Goldberg.
  
My first writing place was the kitchen.  I wrote on a legal pad at the kitchen table, where it was warm and sunny.  But, it didn’t take long to see the advantages of using a computer and finding a quieter place.  I moved to the guest room which has an antique desk close to a sunny window.   

It would be enchanting to have a writing place like Virginia Woolf’s lodge at Monk’s house—a small cottage nestled next to a garden.  I’d personalize the interior with bookcases lined pictures of my family and all of my favorite reference books and novels.  Open windows would allow fragrant lilac and magnolia to perfume the room.  Curtain-less windows and French doors would let sunshine flood in.      

Oh, a fancy writing place with a beautiful view would be wonderful.  But, I’m happy writing where I write and feel blessed to have my own space and time to write.  Sometimes though, I gaze out the window and daydream.  I wonder what it would have been like to have been Chekhov composing his plays in his a country retreat by the Black Sea, where he could glance up from his page and look out over the rocky bay.  Outside my writing place is a dogwood, now in bloom with cream-colored blossoms. In the morning, sunlight glistens off the leaves and petals.  It's beautiful, stately and serene.    

Breath-taking views and lavish work spaces are not part of my writing life.  My little guest room suits my needs.  I'm happy and comfortable in my little den.  Because for me, writing is all that matters. 



April 22, 2018

Recharge Your Writing Battery: 
Pay Attention to the Squirrels 

Children's Writer's World warmly welcomes a post 

by children's writer Regina Montana

Believe it or not, squirrels can provide an introduction to your publisher and mentor.  I know because a poem about a squirrel helped me gain entrance to the wonderful world of Kids Imagination Train, our online magazine.  I owe my squirrel a debt of gratitude.  

Here is his story.  During a class picnic at Congress Park in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. about five ago, my husband and I decided to help our daughter with the school outing for her third-grade class. At one point, an unsuspecting boy decided to put his ice cream cone on the ground by a tree to join a baseball game that had just started up. All of a sudden, I noticed a squirrel scamper down the tree, grab the ice cream cone and high tail it back up the tree to enjoy the treat of his life. I quickly reached for my phone just in time to take a picture. 

Over time, I knew there had to be some kind of story, or even a poem about my squirrel.  And so “A Squirrel’s Lucky Day” was written and accepted.  I believe there are so many “squirrel” stories all around us if we remain open to them and pay attention.  Mother Nature is always ready and willing to provide ample material when we look and listen for what she has to offer. Just like our phones need charging, we writers must also recharge our batteries. 

In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends going on an artist’s date weekly in order to “replenish our inner well of images and inspiration.” Taking a solitary walk outdoors might provide the perfect opportunity to feed one’s soul and become inspired and who knows, you might even encounter a squirrel performing an amazing feat. 

Regina Montana is the Promotion Manager for Kid's Imagination Train ezine.   She has a Master of Education Degree and has tutored and taught privately.  Regina contributes pieces to KIT, is a member of SCBWI and subscribes to Children's Book Insider, where she enjoys taking webinars on writing picture books.  She has been on the journey of writing children's picture book stories for approximately eight years. 

You can visit Regina's website: www.reginamontana.wordpress.com

April 15, 2018

12 Ways to Have a Fabulous Career Day Presentation 



Last spring, I was invited to the School of Creative and Performing Arts in Lexington, Kentucky for a Career Day school visit.  My goal was to tell students what it's like to be a writer. 


As giggling students entered, I asked them to have a seat and scoot closer so that we could interact better. Then we discussed education paths, salaries, a daily routine, how to get published, and the pros and cons of being a writer. 

The session ended with a question and answer period.  The students had been prepared and asked thoughtful questions.  They really wanted to understand the writer's life. 

I had fun meeting these young writers. I hope you will consider doing a school visit, too.  Here are some ways to guarantee your Career Day presentation will be a hit.  
  • Communicate with the career day coordinator beforehand about when to arrive at school.  Find out how many students will be in each session.  Find out how long each session lasts.
  • During your presentation, keep an eye on the time.
  • Allow a few minutes for students to ask questions at the end of the presentation.
  • If students don’t have any questions, ask them questions.  For example, ask them what they like to write.
  • When students ask a question, tell them that’s a great question before you answer it.
  • Jazz up your table. Bring writing books, a fancy fountain pen, framed writing quotes, pictures of your writing space. Make your presentation inviting and interesting.
  • Invite students to scoot chairs close to your presentation table. 
  • If students prefer to sit to the side, be sure to address them as well as the students sitting in front.
  • Keep note cards of your presentation handy in case you need to glance at them.   
  • Be aware that the school intercom may interrupt.  (This happened two times during each session for me)
  • Have something on the desk that is interactive and will make students curious.  I had a box with a card on it that read: What’s the secret to getting published?  When they opened it, they found the answer: be unique and never give up. (Their faces lit up when they read that)
  • Thank the students for coming and give them your business card to contact you if they have more questions or hand them a bookmark. 



April 1, 2018

10 Tips on Handling Disgruntled Workshop Participant 

Last year, I gave a workshop at the Carnegie Center for Literacy in Lexington, Kentucky on publishing with a small press. The turnout was great and the group was attentive and eager to learn.  

Throughout the lecture, most people asked thoughtful questions—with the exception of one individual.  His comments were unnerving.  He put me on the spot.  He challenged and put down my ideas and recommendations.  

I had never experienced anything like this in other workshops I had given or at workshops I had attended.  It was shocking to me that anyone could be so bold.  Luckily, my thoughts were on the lecture, delivering important information and sticking to the schedule, so his rude behavior did not distract me too much. 

Most people who attend workshops are eager to learn.  But sometimes, there's an individual who is provocative.  Here are some tips in handling a disgruntled participant:

  • Be aware that not everyone is going to like you or your workshop.
  • Be aware that an argumentative participant may be present.
  • Take note that your expertise may be challenged.
  • Don't argue. 
  • Take a drink of water to calm your nerves and to gather your thoughts.
  • Listen and be polite.
  • Give a short reply and move on.
  • Defer comments to the end of the presentation.
  • Thank everyone for coming.
  • Take solace in knowing the majority are present to learn, not challenge. 

Don't let a bad experience keep you from giving workshops.  Presenting valuable information is a win-win situation because you can teach other writers and it allows them to get to know you and your work.  Consider presenting a workshop to build your writer's platform.

I'd ♥ to hear from you.  Be sure to leave a comment.