Monday-WIP, 2021

My Women in Publishing conference started today. It’s a little difficult to find your way around, as the majority of the presentations didn’t load properly earlier so I hope I can find them sometime today. Even is one of the four areas covered, Children’s Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Publishing isn’t exactly your forte, you can view it and learn something anyway. I hope I can watch the presentations to finish them all. Paying for the conference even at a discount is a motivator for sure.

While listening to the Children’s Books segment, I discovered somethings I hadn’t considered before. Natasha Carlow and Felicia Lee gave some beautiful presentations. One about Rainbow Babies and the subject of miscarriage, subsequent pregnancies, and the family point of view on this sad, painful topic. Culture played a part in why she wanted to tell the story. Often our stories and our pain serve others. They discover they are not alone, which is key. She pointed out there are very few books regarding this topic with a black family. I can see where this could be a problem.

A child must be able to relate to the pictures of characters in the books they read. And it is true, how can a black child or Hispanic child relate to all white families in stories? It would be hard. I never considered it before. Which brings me to Felicia’s topic, Diversity and Representation. I disliked the word diversity when I first heard it. There were still not a lot of women in the IT field where I worked from 1987 until 1999. All I wanted was to do my job and earn the pay I was qualified for. The place I worked did a great job with EEO and Affirmative Action. I didn’t see a need for diversity.

What I learned today, is diversity is not just about gender, race, religion, and what I associated with it. It is about those things AND things like family structure, jobs, gender roles (do Dad’s cook? Do Mom’s work construction?), and abilities. If an author includes those things while telling a child a story, they see the story reflecting their lives. They no longer feel as if they are looking in a window and viewing something they don’t participate in. We need both kinds of stories. It’s vital to a child’s sense of self.

Being intentional in forming characters in our stories helps both minorities and majorities. It strengthens our co-existence. We can feel things in common. In my book, “What ARE You Doing, Roxie? I’m telling a story about our grandson and our dog, Roxie. Gavin and Roxie loved each other a lot. They played and walked, and were two of a kind. Someone left our gate open after July 4th, and Roxie ran away. She was hit by a car. We were all as devastated as Gavin was. It would be hard for kids of other cultures to relate to the story, from what I heard this morning. It’s a point to ponder.

Back to the Conference now. I hope you have a beautiful day. Thanks for reading. I appreciate your support. See you tomorrow!

And Now, It’s All on Sale

I believe it’s safe to say Christmas was a success. We all got through it, didn’t we? For those who don’t have a glorious time, you got through. And from the other side of the holiday, you can be grateful. Our dinner group yesterday was grateful for each other. Family and friends are so important.

We are a group of friends and family who have known each other for a long time. The Babe met his brother-in-law Lou a very long time ago, Lou’s wife was the Babe’s sister-in-law. Lou’s wife and the Babe’s ex-wife both lost to lung cancer, within a year of each other. It’s been a long time. When the Babe’s kids were growing up, they spent a lot of time with Lou and his wife. They all celebrated Christmas together.

Since Lou lost his wife, niece Tracy (the Babe’s daughter) & TJ & kids are present for Christmas; Lou invited the Babe and me, since my siblings don’t gather, and my kids all stay home. So for several years, it was the seven of us. Lou is an incredible host. We enjoy his company a lot. His eldest daughter, retired from the Kennedy Center a couple years ago, is now part of our group, which now totals eight.

Lou does most of the work, the beef loin he presents every year is top shelf restaurant grade. He prides himself in his cooking, wine cellar, and the family he raised. As I looked around the table yesterday, I was so grateful for those people. We’ve kind of formed our own Christmas family, from all of us being parts of something that we may not have anymore, for whatever reason. It’s definitely by invitation, which is an honor to receive.

We all bring a dish or two, our beverage of choice, and the thoughts of gratitude to the table. Lou asked us to share those things as we went around the table. It feels so wonderful to be part of something that exists out of the kindness of someone’s heart. It allows us to be with the grandkids and Tracy & TJ separate from everyone else. And it’s good. TJ lost both of his parents in the last couple years, so our circle is closing in a way. We give freely of hugs and love and encouragement. We listen to each other’s stories. We laugh with and at them. Kidding is good-natured. The Babe and I are grateful to Lou for his kindness.

The Babe and Lou have known each other for over 40 years. Lou owned the company the Babe came to Omaha to work for. He has learned a lot from Lou and with him. They are closer than some brothers I know. It is a respect and love that is thicker than blood. It’s beautiful to be a part of that. If not for the Babe coming to Omaha, we likely would not have ever met. See how things work out like that? God sees the big picture. We are just parts of it.

After taking December off from writing my novel, I feel refreshed and eager to get back to writing. I’ve missed it, but needed a break. This morning, I donned my new sweatshirt to mark the occasion. It’s official now.

“I Make Stuff UP!”

So here we go again, boys and girls! We’re going to do some planning today and tomorrow, and Monday we will begin our writing journey again, to the end of the novel, “The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons.” It’s a story about overcoming. We have all done it, if we realize it or not. It’s about being braver than you ever thought possible; it’s about learning to be open; it’s about learning to be smart; it’s about learning to survive in life; and it’s also about learning to love.

Thanks for reading today. Let’s begin now to make 2021 the best year ever. We’re appreciative, resolute, and energized to get out and become. Become whatever you would like. It’s up to you. Be Kind. Be Enthused. You will love your life! See you tomorrow.