Friday, February 1, 2013

Happy February!

Today is a great day for a checkup.

How did you do on those January goals?

Are your creative resolutions for 2013 still on track?

If not – no worries.

It’s a new day!

It’s a new month!

So, set a few goals for February.

And if you need a bit of inspiration to get you back on track, here are a couple of stories that should do the trick –

The first one comes straight from Katherine Applegate, this year’s Newbery Medal Winner (for her book, The One and Only Ivan).

In a Publishers Weekly interview, she discusses how tough it was to get that book written and finally published. Then she mentions how she recently ran across a scrap of paper containing words she had scratched out years ago. The words were – “Should I give up on Ivan or not?”

Hmmm… I think we all know the answer to that one. You can check out the entire article here.

And then there’s this YouTube bit. If you've got a story that’s in need of a hero – THIS is what a hero looks like.

“Never give up, 
for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

PROMPT: Get back on that pony and get ready to ride! YeeHAW!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Most Important Meal of the Day


Breakfast aisle circa 1970

I was raised on Red Dye No. 2 and white sugar.

You see, back in the early 70’s, before the granola people began to serve up twigs and gravel as part of a balanced breakfast, kids had morning motivators like…


I started every single day with a hefty bowl of KABOOM.

And I’m pretty sure it was 180% sugar.

Obviously, we didn't have the Food Pyramid or that fancy new Food Plate back then.

We had the “Four Food Groups”…

and each and every one of them was topped with about six inches of refined sugar.

It wasn't a big deal.

In fact, everybody was pretty frank about it.

Those “Pops” and “Smacks” you see in the breakfast aisle today once carried the honest labels of “Sugar Pops” and “Sugar Smacks,” and get this –

Moms actually bought them!

And we actually ate them!

Of course, we were bouncing off the walls by 8:05 AM, but our schools had something called “recess” to handle that.

The other 80% of our morning meal consisted of toxic dye.

So far, I have suffered no ill effects.

Sure, I can read by the glow of my intestines…

But really –

I’m fine.

PROMPT: What crazy era have you survived? Are you a part of the “no seat belts – no problem” crowd? Take some time out today to write about those years spent in the dark ages. For inspiration, pick up The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson – his hilarious take on being a child of the 50’s. Warning: to avoid embarrassment, do not read it while drinking milk (with or without KABOOM).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Missing Summer

"January, month of empty pockets! Let us endure this evil month, 
anxious as a theatrical producer's forehead."
~ Colette

Yep, I am a little tired of winter.

It happens about this time every year…

You know, when January seems to sneak in about 14 extra days.

Maybe you've noticed it, too.

But fear not!

Here at The Elbow, we are prepared.

We have our list

that enchanting and  inviting inventory of summers gone by.

So spend a little time in a summer state of mind today.

Write stories of sweet tea and beaches…

Poems of picking berries and catching fireflies…

Or shut down that laptop entirely, and simply paint something you miss.

© Barb Davis-Pyles

PROMPT: Summer will get here eventually! Until then, you know what to do.

And for those of you in the Pacific Northwest – Let this serve as a friendly reminder that you only have 6 months left for tracking down those sunglasses.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

And The Winners Are…

Yesterday was a BIG day in the world of kid lit!

The 2013 John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children's literature was awarded to The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate.

And the 2013 Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished American picture book went to This Is Not My Hat illustrated and written by Jon Klassen.

Congratulations to these two rock stars!

Is there a Newbery or Caldecott in your future?

I certainly hope so!

Well, if you want to write like a winner, then it’s a good idea to read like one, too.

Pick up a dozen award winners – okay, make it a baker’s dozen just for luck.

Read them the first time just for the thrill of the ride, then read each one again.

The second time around, dissect those metaphorical frogs like you’re back in 7th grade biology class. Poke around their innards, see what makes them tick… and enjoy the fact that you’re not getting all nauseated from the stench of formaldehyde.

What, in your opinion, makes these books The Great Ones?

PROMPT: Whatever your genre of choice, get to know some of the best voices in the business. While you should always write YOUR story and stay true to YOUR voice, you can certainly learn a lot from doing some hang time with the masters.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fun at Work?

A day without laughter is a day wasted.
~Charlie Chaplin

Some calendars say that this is officially National “Fun at Work” Day, while others report that it is only celebrated on the last Friday of January…

In other words, we may have missed it.

Well I say, “Why can’t EVERY day be Fun at Work day?”

I mean, why does a commute to the workplace always have to mean a trip into the bowels of Heck?

I remember working at a place in the early 90’s where I was constantly informed (not in a positive way, mind you) that my laughter was “audible in the hallway.”

Um, like that’s a bad thing?

I think not.

In fact, all the research is on my side.

For example, a group of kick-butt scientists at Cal State Long Beach have discovered that people who have fun on the job are more creative, more productive, better decision-makers, and get along better with co-workers. They also have fewer absentee, late, and sick days than people who aren't having fun.

These days I am my own boss, and you can bet that I never yell about laughter, giggles, or even…


And guess what –

the nap research is on my side, too.

So, enjoy this beautiful Monday.

Have fun!

After all…

Life is too dang short to worry about audible laughter.

PROMPT: You know, I've always wondered if the folks who work at the Prozac factory are giddy with happiness every single day...

Anyway, today is a great day to write about the best job you've ever had, or list all the ways you could make your current work more fun. Then go for the bonus round – create something marvelous about my old sourpuss boss who was only happy when everyone else was depressed. Hmmm… maybe he should get a job at the Prozac factory.