May 27, 2013

Little Glitches

Recently, I searched for a graduation card that I had squirreled away.  With graduation fast approaching, I wanted to wrap my daughter's gift and add the card.  But the card was nowhere to be found.  I searched the  basket where cards are always kept.  I rifled through the stack three times, but without any luck.  The card had disappeared.  I was crushed. No other one would do.  It was after all, the perfect card.

This little glitch was ruining my day.  I questioned why this had happened.  Finally, after realizing that complaining about it wasn't going to help me find it, I accepted the fact that losing the card was meant to be.  The solution:  to drive back to Target with the hope that an identical card would still be available.  Since I was hell-bent on finding the exact card, I dashed out that very day to buy one.  While I rushed out, I decided I would make the most of my time.  I'd run two errands: one to Target and the other to Macy’s, located just a few minutes away.
"Look out world. Here you come!"

Luckily I found the exact same graduation card.  Perfect!  Amazing!  Unbelievable!  Then I drove over to Macy’s to make a return.  On my way out, I noticed the shoe saleslady who frequently waits on me.  Over time we had gotten to know each other. On the occasions that she fitted me for shoes, she'd often talk about her son's health.  So before rushing back to my car, I stopped to ask about him. She shared with me that he would be needing major surgery soon.  I listened quietly as she described what would be involved.  Before leaving, I told her I’d keep him in my prayers and for this, she hugged and thanked me.

I firmly believe things happen for a reason.  When the graduation card was lost, it put me on the path to connect with an acquaintance who needed some support.  I adopt this belief to my writing as well.  When I get a rejection I try to remember this was meant to be.  I tell myself to consider editing my work or to start searching for another market.  Rejections are little glitches, that if I let them, can ruin my day.  But when I remember there’s probably a good reason for a rejection, then I can move on and focus on what is supposed to happen because of it.

May 20, 2013

DitzAbled Princess

The Children's Writer's World invites Jewel Kats to share the inspiration behind her new book.

Everything starts off as an idea.


Webcomics are no different.

There’s a tale behind the popular reality-series webcomic, “DitzAbled Princess,” and graphic novel that features the same “cast” of characters.  This story involves inspiration, needs, and wants.
Here’s the back story…

I’ve always been a comic strip junkie. I can’t run anymore, but I’ll grab the funny pages faster than you can blink. As a kid, I spent hours reading Archie comics as an in-patient at The Hospital for Sick Children. I reached for “Betty and Veronica Double Digests” during my bout with anorexia and depression. I turned to comics during my divorce. In short, comics have given me the will to live at times.

Now, the idea for “DitzAbled Princess” came during a happy time in my life. (Thankfully, this period has lasted!) I was engaged to my second husband, Alan, when the idea struck. Our conversation has almost become legendary.

It goes like this…
“You’re always reading ‘Betty and Veronica Double Digests’,” Alan once said. “You’re such a funny character in real life. Why don’t you try writing a comic strip?”

These three sentences changed my life.

I never told him this, but I immediately knew that I wanted to write about the present. Sadness hung over me for so long, and I wanted to finally record my joys. I also knew women like me—chicks with disabilities—failed to appear in the mainstream comic strip market. I wanted to change that. Pronto. 

Confession: I just never knew that “DitzAbled Princess” would take off this way.

I attribute the success of “DitzAbled Princess” to the lacking presence of a female comic character with physical disabilities. The fact that “DitzAbled Princess” is a reality-series webcomic based on real everyday people only heightens its appeal. (Who doesn’t want to be a guilt-free peeping Tom?)

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. It really boggles my mind why this has never been done before. C’mon it’s 2013! People with disabilities have existed since the beginning of humankind. It’s about time someone included a “DitzAbled Princess” strip in their lineup.

Our webcomic publisher,, has taken a lead. Our graphic novel publisher, Marvelous Spirit Press, is playing its vital part.  Now, it’s YOUR turn to be a pioneer, and take in the world of “DitzAbled Princess.”

Remember, everything starts off as an idea.


Webcomic and graphic novel reading is no different.   

May 13, 2013

Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon's Fury

The Children's Writer's World invites L.R.W. Lee to share the inspiration behind her new book.

From my earliest memory, I’ve always wanted to write a children’s novel that was multi-layered with a complex story line.  But I wanted to do more than this.  I wanted to leave my readers with a narrative that could improve their lives as well. 

I well remember the first time I read C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.  It was an almost magical experience for me.  I was fascinated by the land and all the characters and how they got into a strange, but wonderful world.  Narnia was more than that for me though.  Running through the story was another narrative, one of redemption.  Aslan was a depiction of Jesus.  The Stone Table that was rent in two when Alsan was slain on it was just like the veil of the Temple that was torn in two when Jesus died.  And there was so much more.  I loved the two levels of meaning…I was hooked! 

Since then, I have read J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and many other similarly styled narratives.  I love the complexity and multiple story layers; this general form fascinated me.  I assessed I was up for the challenge.  But, what message should be included to potentially improve my reader’s lives?

I puzzled with this question for many years.  Only while I was working with a mentor growing a company did I arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.  My mentor is a man of integrity and ethics.  I learned from him many lessons including overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and many more.  As I embodied these, my life became more peaceful and enjoyable.  I wanted to share.

Taking these elements and coupling them with my love of the mystery of castles with hidden tunnels and more, Andy Smithson was born.

May 3, 2013

How to Get Published in Highlights

Over the years, I’ve come close to being published in Highlights, having received personalized letters that read "keep writing" or "we have a similar piece on hand."  But I never received an acceptance letter—until this year.  This year!  It finally happened!  My article "How Penguins Pair Up" will be published this year in Highlights.
So, what made the difference?  I count five things:  performing outstanding research, finding a unique topic, researching and writing quickly (without sacrificing quality), finding great quotes, and adding drama.

Outstanding research means using primary sources.  That means avoiding encyclopedias or Wikipedia. Primary sources are first-hand accounts like newspapers, journals,  diaries, and interviews.  Reliable sources also include Internet website addresses that end in .org or .edu.

Unique topics can be found online in scientific news journals or even in local newspapers. Be persistent and check these sources daily.  Once you've found your topic, it's crucial to conduct your research as quickly as possible.  Once, I had researched and written about singing mice.  Unfortunately, this topic (as rare as it seemed to me) had been covered and had been already accepted by Highlights.  I was shocked.  Someone had beaten me to the punch.  
Besides working quickly, be sure to spice up a nonfiction article with amazing quotes.  The best way to do so that is to interview an expert.  First, become  familiar with the scientist's research so that you can ask thoughtful questions.  Also, when composing the questionnaire, think about the kinds of questions that kids would ask.  Then insert those quotes with balance throughout the article to clarify points or to liven up the piece. 
What's next?  Dramatic action!  You've got to hook kids right from the start.  So, start with a scene that paints the picture.  Write in present tense.  Use short sentences to create suspense.  For instance my article for Highlights begins in the ocean depths as a hungry leopard seal awaits to attack an unsuspecting penguin.  This dramatic action scene pulls the audience right smack into the article. 
It had taken me years to figure out the formula to getting published in one of the best loved children's magazines.  So, let's review.  Outstanding research + a unique topic + researching and writing quickly (without rushing quality)  + finding great quotes + adding drama = can you say, acceptance?  I thought you could.