Inspiration & motivation

The Anti-Conformist Picture Book

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Mark Loewen is the author of an amazing new picture book, What Does a Princess Really Look Like?  In the book, he breaks gender stereotypes and features a family with two fathers. Please enjoy my Q & A with him:

-You hit a lot of powerful topics in this book. One take-away lesson is that princesses don’t simply “look pretty.” Being a princess also involves using your brain, as well as being courageous and strong. Do you think there is too much emphasis on appearance and playing up to feminine stereotypes in society?

Definitely. And it was always obvious to me. I think this was one of the male privilege aspects that I always saw, especially growing up in South America. But I really noticed how powerful this was when I observed how people related to my daughter. Strangers everywhere tell her how pretty she is – all the time. And I agree with them! But it makes me nervous that most people who talk to her when we are out say something about her looks. As she grows up, I want her to know that her looks are not the best or most important thing about her. It’s just one part of her.

I remember one time we went to the grocery store and she was wearing a superhero mask. A lady smiled at her and said, “I can see your beautiful eyes through that mask!” And I thought… even specifically dressing as someone strong and brave, people are commenting on her eyes. And this is all well-intentioned. But I don’t think boys get this message.

-What about in literature? 

Children’s literature plays into it because it sells. Even books or movies with strong females sometimes show that girls are “ditzy” or “clumsy.” I’m reminded of how Disney princesses like Anna and Moana both trip right at the end of a really big song. But I can’t think of male heroes portrayed in this way.

I’ve noticed that it’s becoming easier to find children’s books with strong female characters. Girl empowerment is big with publishers now, which is one reason why I found interest in my book so quick. What I do still notice is that books with strong female characters are still considered only for girls. But girls read books with strong male characters all the time. This needs to change.  Read the rest of this entry »

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#PBPitch: An Awesome Twitter Pitch Contest for Kidlit Writers!!

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Twitter pitch parties have been gaining in popularity in the last few years.

What is a Twitter pitch party, you may ask?

Well, if you’re a writer and are seeking a literary agent or a publisher, they are amazing opportunities. If you have finished and polished manuscripts, just make an engaging (and short) pitch via Twitter. Add the hashtag #PBPitch, and presto, your pitch will be seen by a select group of literary agents and editors! If the agent or editor in question likes your pitch, then you can send it to them and cross your fingers.

The guidelines can be found in the official website, posted below.

I recently sat down with author and #PBPitch co-founder Pj Mcllvaine for a chat. Hope you enjoy our Q & A: Read the rest of this entry »

How to Stop Procrastinating and Write More this Year!

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So you’re a freelance writer.

Hooray! That means you’re your own boss and you get to create your own schedule.

But, oh no- this can sometimes be more challenging that it appears. Distractions and social media interruptions can be tricky to navigate though as you try to carve out time to dedicate to your craft. It takes an incredible amount of organization and discipline.

What often ends up happening is:

PROCRASTINATION!

We writers are experts at procrastination. We’ve all been there. We have a deadline, but somehow, we can’t get the ball rolling. Next thing we know, we’re pulling an all-nighter to get the job done.

Luckily there are strategies to help. With effort and planning, you can stop your procrastination habits. Here are 5 tips to help you remain aligned with your goals:

Read the rest of this entry »

The Face of Perseverance

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The path of the author is notoriously difficult. It’s filled with heaps of rejection letters and long hours of constant editing, not to mention the “snail pace” rhythm of the publishing industry.

So how does one survive these challenges and still retain an earnest love for writing? I sat down with author Debra Shumaker to get her perspective. After submitting 187 submissions to both agents and editors with 11 different manuscripts since September of 2009, she achieved one of her dreams and landed a literary agent. Here is our Q & A:

How did you remain so perseverant throughout the process?

Sometimes I wonder, myself, why I persevered in all the rejection. But that is the name of the game in Children’s Lit. And I should clarify, though I started subbing in 2009, I probably started subbing too early. I was a beginner. I had three little kids at the time so I just wrote and submitted when I “had time.” My manuscripts probably weren’t ready and my querying was a bit undirected. But, as I worked on my craft, participating in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (now StoryStorm) and joining Julie Hedlund’s 12×12, my manuscripts grew stronger and my queries more directed. Then in 2014, I started to get some nibbles: some personal rejections and one agent asked for a revise/resubmit. Though that one didn’t pan out, it gave me a confidence booster. In 2015, I received an R&R from an editor and three agents asking for more of my work. Again, those didn’t lead to offers, but I knew I was getting close. I just kept plugging away at learning craft, studying mentor texts, writing new stuff, and submitting. I am so grateful for having signed with Natascha Morris from BookEnds Literary in July. Read the rest of this entry »

The Top 33 Ways to Nourish Your Soul

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Between work, family time and household duties, we may feel a pressure to “get it all done.” And in our rush to get it all done, we may forget about one important thing: time for ourselves! Self-care is a lot more that just eating well and exercising, it’s a more holistic approach of nourishing the soul.

You might wonder, okay, but how do I nourish the soul? The first essential ingredient is self-love, and that translates into a slew of things you can do to take care of your body, mind, heart and soul. In an effort to do a better job at nourishing myself, I came up with the top 33 tips, below.

Enjoy!!

 

  1. Practice gratitude (try saying or writing things you’re grateful for each day)
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others
  3. Learn how to forgive (including yourself)
  4. Listen to your intuition, and cultivate your relationship to it
  5. Respect yourself, and demand respect from others
  6. Be open to receiving and giving love every day, in various forms
  7. Eat a balanced diet with whole, fresh foods and drink a lot of water (about 8ounce glasses per day)
  8. Learn how to say NO and still feel like a good person
  9. Don’t dwell on anything, let it all go
  10. Breathe (sounds obvious, but practicing conscious deep breathing makes a difference)
  11. Slow down (and literally smell the roses)
  12. TRUST yourself, and trust life
  13. Meditate (if this sounds impossible, just start with 5 minutes)
  14. Connect with friends and talk it out
  15. Be gentle with yourself (and say adios to that negative voice inside you)
  16. Write! Keep a journal and find ways to express yourself
  17. Read! Get some tea going and snuggle up with some good books
  18. Go for frequent walks in nature
  19. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and feel what you need to feel
  20. Snuggle with or hug someone
  21. Keep moving– take a yoga class, or chi-gong, or dance, aerobics, you get the idea!
  22. Volunteer in a worthwhile organisation
  23. Set clear boundaries with others
  24. Stop apologizing or feeling guilty
  25. Book yourself a massage
  26. Visit a doctor regularly
  27. Put your ego aside and ask for help when you need it
  28. Get enough sleep (everybody’s different, but you should feel well rested)
  29. Share what you have with others
  30. Save up money and buy yourself something you’ve always wanted
  31. Set some time aside for yourself every single day, create your own ritual
  32. Practice moderation, don’t abuse any intoxicants
  33. Find a hobby you feel passionate about

 

 

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What’s on your Bucket List?

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As the saying goes, growth begins at the end of your comfort zone. I love my life, but one ingredient that’s missing lately is adventure. I’ve always been an extrovert and loved having fun, but I’ve never been a daredevil or particularly gutsy.

So I decided that I want to consciously infuse my life with adventure. The question is, where do I find it? Between parenting, household duties and work, I have no idea where to find it!

But then I had an amazing experience this summer that opened my eyes up and reminded me that adventure is everywhere! And bonus: it’s easier to come by than I originally thought. Adventure can pop at any time, in any situation. Plus you don’t need to jump out of a plane or sandboard on a live volcano to be adventurous (good thing!).

This summer, I went to Greece with my daughter Emerald. It was her birthday, and her grand-parents bought her some windsurfing lessons. I initially thought this was an insane idea for a 6 year, but she was eager.

As we made our way to the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and the class began, I was nervous and scared. But my daughter was not. She just calmly listened to the instructor and then fearlessly got up on the board, and sailed away all on her own. Just like that. Read the rest of this entry »

Ring in 2017 with Positive Intentions!

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5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

http-_mashable-com_wp-content_gallery_triumph_fairly-odd-parentsAs we celebrate moving into a new year, we can’t help but feel the tides of change. Some people obsess over making resolutions. Others despise resolutions, feeling they’re useless.

Here’s my view on it:

Don’t set yourself up to fail with a ridiculously long list of unrealistic resolutions!

I myself prefer the word “intention.” I suggest making a small list of intentions you want to set for your life. Energies you want to bring forth. Make them realistic. Make them specific. Instead of saying you want to be happy, say you intend on releasing one of your negative patterns. Instead of saying you want to lose weight, say you intend on eating a healthy diet or work out 3 times a week.

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