I just read a very thoughtful article by Jacob Sullum on the Reason Online website. The article is entitled, Latter-Day Taint: Who will rescue the children of Yearning for Zion Ranch from their rescuers? The author articulated some of the concerns I’ve felt ever since I heard the news of our government taking all the children away from the parents of this religious group. And it’s not because I like to watch Big Love on HBO. I was encouraged that so many lawyers perceived there was a problem and offered their services to the group for free. Regardless of whether one agrees with the group’s practices, polygamy does have a Biblical precedent. However, if you believe Big Brother Government can do no wrong or that the Church of Big Government has a right to determine societal mores, then you probably shouldn’t bother reading the article because you won’t like it. Here’s the link: http://www.reason.com/news/show/126240.html
Young Author’s Event:
In just a few minutes, I’ll be driving to Alexandria, Louisiana to speak and perform music for the winners of the Northeast Louisiana Young Authors’ Contest. Entries are judged at the school level in grades K-8 (regular ed. & special ed.) and in three categories – poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. This year the district is honoring 77 district winners at a reception. I want to encourage young authors of any age. That’s why part of my program always involve telling them how to write and submit and answering any questions they have about writing. Here is some advice I’d give any young author today.
A. You must write every day. The first rule of writing is to sit your butt down and write. The 2nd rule is edit your work. (This must be done constantly and ruthlessly)
B. Read voraciously. Good writers are good readers. You be the bookworm, the one who finds a corner during recess and reads or writes in your little notebook/journal.
C. Build your library and network. Develop your people skills. Read the biographies of writers you admire. You’ll get ideas and inspiration.
D. Enter every contest you can. The right contest can be a good break for your career. There are hundreds of contests that award money, prizes and publication. You have a much better chance of publication by entering contests than you would by blindly sending it into the slush pile of a publishing company or agent.
I’m going to start collecting place names with “Pittman.” Here is the first one that a friend just sent me.
Sometimes, in this brutal mad-house writer’s life I’ve chosen, I need motivation. I happened upon some motivating notes today, notes I took during a phone call with my best male friend, Michael Senn, who is one of the most creative and driven people I know. He has successfully created and initiated at least three businesses. Yes, I take notes when I’m on the phone, and in this case I’m glad I did. The phone call took place about a year ago just as I was thinking of cutting loose from teaching and plunging into the writing business I’m in now. Here are a few of the thoughts and words of my friend that I wrote down. I think he found these ideas in a book by Jim Britt, entitled, Do This, Get Rich. My friend’s words are in italics:
1. Do a road map of your life, a money biography, looking especially at your last 12 years as a teacher. What has it done for you and what is it likely to do? Trying harder, working more is not the answer. You only have so much time and energy. This was a jolt. All teaching had done was get me more in debt and NOTHING would change if I stayed the way I was. I learned that nothing changed unless I did.
2. Get ready for a wild ride. If it’s not scary, it’s not a challenge. Boy, has this proved true!
3. Conventional methods don’t work. It’s time to take massive action to change. However, know your mission of you will be spending time on what doesn’t matter.
4. Don’t be discouraged. Everything looks like a failure in the middle of it.
5. Imagine you had plenty of money. How would your day be different?
6. The person you become determines what you are handed next. Shape the plan of your life and create order out of the chaos.
You can see an interview of me taken at the Texas Library Association Conference in Dallas at this address: www.youtube.com/pelicanpublishing
In the interview I talk of my published books and of my upcoming Scottish Alphabet Book (children’s picture book) coming out next August or September. Here is the book’s cover:
If you’d like to pre-order this book, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the details.
I finished up my two days at Prairie Vista Middle School with my Civil War Program. I’ve started a scrapbook on my school programs, and the comments of the students who signed it are so funny and so encouraging. I actually feel like I’m doing something good with these programs. The school Librarian, Tanya Plocica, is really a first rate librarian who is doing so much for the school there. As soon as she gets me the photos of our event, I’ll post them.
After I packed up there, I went on to the Grapevine Public Library for the children’s program there. These were little ones, so I did a story time using my Jim Limber Book and played several kid’s songs. The parents were there with them and were very pleased. It was encouraging for me to see parents spending so much time with their little ones at the library, taking them home with their arms full of books.
Tomorrow, I’ll be at the Sundance Barnes & Noble in Downtown Fort Worth. I’ve also got some projects I’ve got to wrap up for my sponsors. Saturday, I’ll be at the Hasting’s Bookstore in Mount Pleasant in the morning, then Paris, Texas Hastings Bookstore in the afternoon. From there I’ll drive to Oklahoma.
I’m learning so much from my book-signing and program adventures.
I just finished Atonement (2001) by Ian McEwan. I had read Cement Garden earlier and enjoyed it (must also see that movie), and now I must see the widely touted movie based on the novel. Wickpedia has a very good article on the novel if you’d like quick information. Here’s the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atonement_(novel)
In addition to the metafiction and psychological realism techniques the novel incorporates, I found the novel mesmerizing, the themes deeply touching. Like Kite Runner, Atonement deals with a character haunted by personal failure. There are several points of view presented, but the most interesting is that of Briony’s.
To learn more of McEwan and his writings, go to http://www.ianmcewan.com/
Once again, I have a busy week ahead of me. This afternoon I’m off to Lafayette, for L.J. Alleman Middle School’s Parent Night. From there, I’ll drive (long night ahead) to the Forth Worth area for two days at Prarie Vista Middle School, then a signing Friday at the downtown Barnes & Noble, then Hastings Bookstores Saturday in Mount Pleasant and Paris. I’ll spend Sat. night with my parents in Kemp, Oklahoma and return to Monroe sometime Monday. I’ll make posts as I can with the exception of Sunday as my parents do not have Internet.
Some TLA Photos: Here are just a few of the librarians and folks I met in Dallas at TLA. I had a grand time there.
Here are Amy and Courtney. They both attend Texas Woman’s University and Courtney is an assistant librarian in Dublin, Texas. They are both part of the part of the PELSC Cohort program.
Here are two Little Elm, Texas librarians, Leslie & Deanna
Here are Marti & David Chrisp. Marti is a writer herself with a children’s book that is sure to soon find a publisher!
Jimmy Dale Pittman
(April 21, 1954-June 30, 2007)
To Jimmy: Nearly a Year Later
Today is your birthday,
It’s been nearly a year
Since you left us,
I still weep when I think of you.
I always called you on your birthday,
But now I can only call
On your memory with my poems.
Rest now, my brother,
I hope you’ve found peace
And a place where you
Won’t have to work so hard,
A place with green fields and cool breezes,
Like your plot of land in Haslet,
Or an Elysium or Paradise or Valhalla.
Valhalla would so suit your personality
And your Viking blood,
Odin may need wild scrappers like you,
Maybe pretty valkyries greeted you last June,
I imagine them sitting at your table now,
Singing and serving mead as you flirt,
Perhaps they’ll give you this poem,
Or at least tell you that I miss you,
That I promise to stand in the gap
And take care of our parents.
You were loved and will be missed, brother,
Much more than you know.
TLA Report: I’ll soon post photos and a full report of my Texas Library Association experience in Dallas. You can learn about the conference and the organization here: http://www.txla.org/conference/conf.html
Say It Ain’t So . . .
Just when you think there’s hope for the human race, you read or see something that makes you slap your head. Like these stories for example, as told by a local political pundit.
Obama’s Pastor: I verified this report through a number of sites. Evidently Obama’s pastor is getting a 1.6 million dollar mansion [Ain’t America terrible!] from his church for retirement in a white neighborhood. Think about the irony. Here’s one of many good articles on this: http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/03/27/obamas-former-pastor-builds-a-multimillion-dollar-retirement-home/
He’s lucky he lives in this age because after his speech Lincoln would have gladly sent him to Liberia to retire there. Lincoln, like many abolitionists, wanted an all white America, so they developed what has been called the Liberian Plan. There are many good sites to read about Lincoln’s ideas on black “colonization” but here is a good one to start with: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v13/v13n5p-4_Morgan.html
Church of the Big Government Is Hard at Work: I haven’t used tobacco in six months now. Quitting has been good for me. However, I am against organized efforts to force people to quit. For example, take the Kick Butts Day conducted in schools across America where kids walked around painted as dead, marked with “Killed by Tobacco.” There were also some crime scene chalk outlines of bodies marked “Murdered by Big Tobacco.” I wonder about the efficacy of efforts like this in an educational setting. It seems like another government agenda and another sign of intolerance and an effort to weaken the rights of the individual. What do we really want to teach children in public schools? I’m just thinking out loud here, but does Big Government view public schools as a means of social control?
If you are a writer who uses a POD publisher, according to Booklocker, “here is a developing situation you need to be aware of.
Amazon.com is Telling POD Publishers – Let BookSurge Print Your Books, or Else…
Some Print on Demand (POD) publishers are privately screaming “Monopoly!” while others are seething with rage over startling phone conversations they’re having with Amazon/BookSurge representatives. Why isn’t anybody talking about it openly? Because they’re afraid – very, very afraid…
Read the details here
Myths of American Slavery by Walter Donald Kennedy: A Review
There’s a saying, “The victors of a war write the history,” and perhaps there’s no clearer example of that than the misinformation and inaccuracies spread regarding the War Between the States. However, once a student of history delves into real the facts and past the propaganda of those (often in government) with agendas and past the fiction of the saint-makers and mythmakers, one can find many surprising and iconoclastic truths. Sacred cows do not die easily or quietly usually, for their devotees (in this case the winners of America’s Civil War) are usually numerous and powerful. I would like to devote some articles to reviews of books related to or about the War Between the States that are sure to challenge our thinking
Myths of American Slavery by Walter Donald Kennedy is a fine example of how commonly accepted beliefs can be challenged. Kennedy is the author of The South Was Right! (Pelican Publishing), a book that is in the best-seller category, having sold over 100,000 copies. The Foreword is written by Bob Harrison, a black Southern writer. The book’s introduction begins with an epigraph of Jefferson Davis that says, “No subject [slavery] has been more generally misunderstood or more persistently misrepresented.” The text is well-researched and documented with an impressive bibliography and index.
The book is a balanced, but challenging study of the institution of slavery in the 19th century, is full of surprises and is organized in this fashion:
Chapter 1 Slavery: A Worldwide Phenomenon
Chapter 2 Slavery Comes to the New World
Chapter 3 Abolitionism Versus Christianity
Chapter 4 African-Americans, Free Born and Slave
Chapter 5 Slavery Versus Secession
Chapter 6 Lincoln: The Un-Emancipator
Chapter 7 Slavery and the Confederate States of America
Chapter 8 The Flag of Slavery
Chapter 9 On the State of Slavery in Virginia
Chapter 10 On Jordan’s Stormy Banks
Addendum I Abstract: On the State of Slavery in Virginia
Addendum II Early Anti-Slavery Tract
Addendum III Recommended Reading List
Do yourself a favor and visit Walter Kennedy’s website and take a look at this book and some of his other writings. http://www.kennedytwins.com/
Wow . . . I’ve been incredibly busy. I’ve met so many people and have so many people, programs, sites, and books to recommend in future posts. For today’s post, I wanted to leave you with some favorite writing quotes of mine:
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” (Richard Bach)
“Hype springs eternal in every publisher’s breast.” (Colin Haycroft)
When asked by Esquire what he would have done if it hadn’t been for writing, novelist Richard Ford replied, “Make more money.” (Source Jay Conrad Levinson)