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brittleighbooks.com

It's my books I'm published in.

It's my thoughts on books.

It's my thoughts on creating books.

It's my thoughts unrelated to books.

It's writing prompts for you and your kids.

It's my attempt at a future.

It will be my books I publish all myself.

I'll still be here, dear LJ friends, for more personal reflections and communication with you all, who have been so wonderful.

Today, use your library, call Governor Charlie Crist of Florida and tell him to Veto SB 6 (or you can be sure the legislation will be taken nationally by Arne Duncan's southern cronies),  or do anything else to try to save the world.

When the Pain Dies Down





*Note: I don't own the music, nor did I create the video. I hope that Chris knows I post this video out of pure love for his music and lyrics and desire to share it with y'all.*


I've posted on here about my dreams. How I wanted a job. How when I wanted to cry, I wanted it to mean joy. Last Friday, I cried. It meant despair and fear weariness. A job I'd hoped for, prayed for, set my heart and future to,  was offered to someone else.

Like many rejections in life, you can never fully learn what went wrong. And if you can, maybe you don't want to. The simple truth is that before, you had hope. Then in one moment involving a letter in the mailbox, you don't.

With good things: birthdays, weddings, I've heard it said "You get a day." With bad things, you should get a day. A day where everyone is on your side against those who "hurt" you. A day where the loss of hope is recognized for what is: soul-depleting. Meaningless platitudes are zipped up in their throats, but hugs are wide open. I had my day. I had my tears.

But like Chris says, the pain dies down.

I have no idea what I'll do next now that the Brittany-perfect job of editing Catholic children's books is no longer attainable, but I do realize that "there is a life awaiting." Even if I don't like where I'm at right now, "the past is there behind [me] and nothing is forever."

Those are the "dream[s] that comfort me in the middle of the night." Hope is a phoenix, rising again from its own ashes.

What is the World Coming To?

First, read this by Sarah, who is a friend and pre-published YA fantasy writer. Think Graceling and Tamora Pierce. Great female main characters.

http://sarahnfisk.blogspot.com/2010/03/orlando-public-librarys-policy-on-ya.html

Then read this:

http://sarahnfisk.blogspot.com/2010/03/orlando-public-library-part-ii.html
Here is the posted policy online. Now, I think there is some law somewhere that says you must post such policies in clear sight.

http://www.ocls.info/About/BOT/PDFs/Policies/AgeRequirementPolicy.pdf

Some notes:
1) The Boston Children's Museum allows adults unaccompanied by children to roam free, but you must surrender your license at the door and leave by a stipulated time. You are told this before you PAY. Ergo, a reasonable policy, especially since there is a dearth of employees to check on you. But the library is a free, public space and this one had no such signage to let you take your "business" elsewhere. Why this library chooses to allow adults to go in and out to at least check out materials unsupervised in the children's room (makes sense since you'd have to get books for your kids and classroom) it changes the policy for the YA section where the children are older and according to most reports on the "dangerous situations" the library tries to prevent, are not primary victims. The little tykes in the kids' room are. I volunteered at a library for the better part of a decade and staffed the children's section of a large bookstore. Do you know how many children under the age of ten were left by themselves or with a tween sibling while the parents browsed elsewhere? LOTS. God forbid this backward policy results in a creep going in there to check out his materials. It only takes a second...

2) Did the teens have ANY say in creating the policy? If they were complaining about adults checking out their Twilight DVDs or giving them the you're-a-good-for-nothing-teen-why-aren't-you-in-school old person eye, I can understand a little why the Board of Trustees would consider such a policy. But as Sarah notes, put the books OUTSIDE the social area or the librarian's desk inside it, much the way it's done at the BPL main branch and the Newton Free library up here.  Some teenagers aren't, um, nice. Some take liberties with the racy graphic novels (don't ask).

3) According to this policy, a teacher, parent, any individual with a CORI and background check is not allowed in without a librarian nanny. REALLY?

4) We are innocent until proven guilty and such policies assume guilt first. Thanks for thinking so highly of our humanity, Orlando Public Library. We're sorry we're not super-special like you and qualified to retrieve materials without endangering the teenagers. Who are bigger than me most of the time!

The Portraits of Two Artists

The first artist has lived a life. She tried the art of consoling and trained to be a chaplain. Then she tried the art of video production. Her small experimental film never aired. She moved across the country to pursue yet another artistic passion - sculpture. Exposure to this medium and then exposure to the program led her to change course and try the art of painting. No matter what art she tried, she was never told she was any good. She faced years of self-doubt, the lingering bits weigh down the dark circles that perpetually hang under her eyes. She gave so much to her art this past year, she is seeking out a chance to escape and try a new art - paper making. Though her travels seem more the thing of wanderlust and not plotted-out trekker, she takes to each new path with incredible zeal. And no matter what art she constructs, she revises. She spends hours in the studio perfecting one painting. She devotes hours to her craft. Even on the worst days, she puts one foot in front of the other and goes to the studio, picks up her brush, and paints.

The second artist has barely started her life. She's only ever tried one art -writing. She was perpetually told she was good at it. Rather than take flight every now and then with a new form, she narrowed and narrowed flight zone before finally nesting in one genre. She chose a program that would help her stretch her wings. She's, of course, doing well. She faces no self doubt, but rather a paralyzing fear. She won't send her little chicks out into the wild blue. She keeps them close to herself. She rarely revises. And when she does, she preens and preens. And then she starts a new project. No one project is close to perfect, just the idea of it is. She only occasionally devotes hours to her craft. And on the worst days, she puts one foot up on the futon after the other, flips on the TV, picks up her laptop, and facebooks.

These two artists share a hallway, the bathroom, their date stories, their fears, their ambitions, and even their goal of Making It one day. But one clearly has a different intensity of passion. Does that mean the first artist is anymore of a creator than the second?

I hope not. I haven't been very good at honing my craft and loving my projects for what they are - words and sentences that need to link together - but more for what the kernel of the idea they represent. For my final writing class, I had to revise the workshop pieces that I submitted from two projects. One, I deleted some conversation and added another baby section. For its companion chapter, I barely touched it. I think it's perfect. For the other project I went through it again and again, unsure of how to link all the voices and sections. Unsure of how to retain the incredible strength of the character's voices. I have it unified, but I'm still unsure of the device I used. If I pushed myself like my artist flatmate does, in ten hours, maybe I could have the start of something truly wonderful. But that's the problem with revising. I don't wanna. I feel more like a baby chick ready to fly before I even have wings than I do the mother bird whose job it is to guide the young one.

And after this thoughtful post, what am I going to do? Live my life like my teenage characters would.

My question to you, Internet: rather than how do I push myself to act like a writer and use my time productively (and I am blessed to have this time and no kids and no responsibilities other than to run a puzzle store register for four hours), but WHY don't I want to push myself right now?
These are the words of Laurie Halse Anderson. So are these: "We've been given sacred gifts..."
And more: "Give yourself the gift of art so you can create art."

Tonight, I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to listen to a fellow Catholic, a museum docent, describe objects of devotion. Seeing this museum, if ever so briefly, fed my soul. From seeing the sacred gifts of my faith to the sacred gifts of others, from hearing the special docent way of enunciating "collection", from stopping still to let the powerful magic of the paintings and sculpture wash around me, I have been satiated.

In all my cynicism of late, I had forgotten we are all artists. We all have the power to create magic with words. The artists at the MFA have been endowed the gift to show a scene or characters. We've been endowed the gift to tell those stories. Laurie said, "If we have the desire in our souls to create our art, then we have the seeds of talent, too. Though I get frustrated sometimes, I hope nevermore to let this journal's words to imply my seeds are better than anyone else's. Just like each plant or fruit of the earth is different, so are we writers. I am a young something, so young, I don't know what I will be when I fully sprout. The wonderful people I met or heard or saw at the conference have seeds that have lead to something more fully developed: the magazine maples, the nonfiction nectarines...I don't want to begrudge them because they are more ripe. Instead, I want to sit under their shade and learn a little, take a little taste.

Laurie said many amazing, wonderful things that Saturday morning, which I now realize I should appreciate more. But looking to the past helps little. Instead, I want to take another thing she said (so, one more juicy morsel for now) and apply it to the future. She said to refine our craft, we should go on writing dates.

To my Boston-based writers: Come sit with me in the Museum and write. We don't have to share the same room or even the same wing. We just may have to share the same biscotti ;). Let's soak up the shade of Renoir or Greco. Let's nurture our seeds. Let's see what stories we can tell.

Ow...head and hands hurt

Whew! Back from Nashua! It was great. Emily, Shoshanna, and I played pass the story on the train (almost as fun as pass the drink), and they didn't think I was too crazy regarding my new idea for a novel. Sandy came and got us, but we were at the tail end of the Friday night workshops, so we just wandered around, browsed in the book store and got tons and tons of freebies. We went to dinner nearby and had lovely writerish conversation.

Saturday. The big day. Laurie was incredible. She really made me excited to be a writer and what I was doing. I couldn't believe a major publisher had rejected Speak! That would be comfort later. First workshop was on plotting. And it was great. But I realized two things: my plots are character driven and they're too much like Lost: flashbacks that serve a purpose, but slow the plot down a lot. It's not like I don't like my novels, but they're just so unlike anything I've ever read before that I feel like my weird style won't be able to sell. And it made me consider even more changing the perspective of Guardians and even some of the plot. What's the goal? Um...nothing tangible...

Second workshop was on magazine writing. And instead of getting a primer on writing for different themed mags, the difference between fic and nonfic markets and even the kind of research needed (live sources? from Bhutan? really?), we just came up with a bunch of topics for the May '09 issue of one specific mag. And we were encouraged to send queries to write for them. That part was awesome. For certain people. So, woman whose son was intrigued by the bathrooms of said country, woman who just goes to fabulous tropical island several times (seriously, and u're a writer? how do you afford it? it's really far and exclusive), and woman who knew the weird Asian word, I'll be reading your stories in '09, I guess. Luckily, the presenter has an in with sister publications, so I'll just use his name for the less research-intensive queries.

Third and fourth workshops were nonfiction. I went because I was curious to see if I could apply my journalistic skills. I could, but it would take a long, long time to finish a project. I mainly have trade picture book ideas right now, so I'll stick to those. Unfortunately, the presentation didn't address them all that much.

Critique. Hoo boy. I sent the first two chapters of a sweet Southern middle grade. FIrst mistake was sending the second draft. In the waiting area, some girl from Vermont sent in her fourth draft. That was smart, given another woman had heard these stories of getting offers by editors to send more stuff or perhaps even buy the ms! Second mistake was assuming everyone likes the voice that I developed and wanted to carry through. My editor...I could be her in three years, basically. She did have good praise and some constructive criticism. But I'm sorry, instead of just giving me your personal opinion on not even knowing the Southern voice, tell me if I did a good job carrying it through and saying while she isn't sure, others may like it (cuz she's just one person). And give me encouragement to finish it! I suppose what bugged me most was I had just submitted this ms to be the focus of my mentorship. What if my editor doesn't like it either. Worse, what if the mentorship selector doesn't?!?

So, the rest of the afternoon, my girls were lovely enough to bolster my spirits, and they did. I just felt like this weekend could have been so much more. Yes, I learned stuff. Yes, I have folders of submission guidelines and "open" reading opportunities info. But what of the filodex of all my polished writings? What of the agents two women in the bathroom were discussing about trying to find?

I know, I know, I'm a student. I'm just getting started. But I just have really high expectations for myself. And I hated being reminded how not serious a writer I am. I haven't even tried submitting anything. Sunday, I just watched tv and played computer games . I was supposed to do the BPL grant entry, but I found out that I needed 3 letters of recommendation post-marked by tomorrow. Um. Can't. So that idea is shelved.

This morning I was all gung-ho to revise the Guardians chapter. But at work, I entered over a 100 products into the computer. Can you say carpal tunnel? And wasted writing time? Please make my job worthwhile and go to eurekapuzzles.com if you've got a kid or a gift-giving occaision coming up.

Tonight I go to a new YA writers' group. I'll tell them about my issues with my two uniquely styled novels that may or may not have strong enough plots.

Thanks for reading my rant!

when it rains...

I know...cliche: bad. But, the past few days have been a downpour of preparation for a picture book "republishing" (including shopping for an illustrator) that turned out not even being collected, a book proposal for class (10 pages basically, 5 heavily revised from earlier and 5 new, and 10 new pages for a 20-30 page writing sample), and preparation for a teaching session. I love the teaching preparation the most. I would LOVE to do it more regularly.

True story: When I was little I wanted to be a teacher just like my mom. Then I realized with No Child Left Behind, and standing from 7am to 3pm teaching math...no no no. In high school and college I considered briefly being a professor. But tenure is not for me. So now, doing projects like the 1.5 hour lesson with Jenna in Crit and this .5 hr lesson on perspective (how fitting given I work with like 4 in each novel - it makes sense, I swear!) makes me like the idea of adjuncting to supplement writing income in the big scary looming future. You know, easier than waitressing for a kultz, Sometimerz patient like me.

I'll be on pins and needles until June(ish) to find out about my professional, grown-up editor mentorship next fall for SoS. This weekend, another will take a first look at it at NESCBWI.

I have so many things to juggle. I've been working on Guardians and TR, and it's my goal to finish them this summer. But I've been reading The Book Thief and I am really starting to like the one central narrator that makes what he tells seem like third person. It's very cool and tricky and I may consider trying to pull it off, but that ruins the conceit of the book as it stands. And as if I didn't have enough to do, I've been working on a project to submit to a first-time novelist contest (of sorts). Luckily, I just need one chapter and an outline. I really love my idea and the plotline and characters and titles are pouring down. Deadline: April 15. EEk! I know I won't win or place. But I think it's a good experience and it's a neat, modern way of telling the story. Since I've a bit of a writer's crush on it now, I'll make it my Spring Mentorship project.

I'll report back after NESCBWI!

Procrastination!

Name MeMe


1. Your rock star name (first pet, current car): Hercules Acura Legend [that name will go Platinum]

2. Your gangsta name (fave ice cream flavour, favourite type of shoe): Amaretto Stilleto [very kick ass]

3. Your Native American name (favourite color, favorite animal): Purple Penguin [alliterative!]

4. Your soap opera name (middle name, city where you were born): Leigh Plantation [how very Southern]

5. Your Star Wars name (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 of your first name): Sch-Br [almost sounds like sherbert]

6. Superhero name (2nd favourite colour, favourite drink): Navy Sangria [that would be gross]

7. NASCAR name (the first names of your grandfathers): Robert Lloyd

8. Stripper name (the name of your favourite perfume/cologne/scent, favourite candy): Lebanese Mint Snowcap

10. TV weather anchor name (your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): Davis Dunberry [ ;) ]

11. Spy name (your favourite season/holiday, flower): Christmas Orchid

12. Cartoon name: (favourite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Tangelo Pajama

13. Hippie name (What you ate for breakfast, your favourite tree): Cinnamon Swirl Willow

14. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (Mother and Father's middle name): Marie William

15. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 3 letters of your last name): Br-Sch

Post Spring Break

I sort of got back into the swing of things after break. It was Holy Week, so on Thursday and Friday, I was at church a lot and loved every minute of it. And on Saturday, I cleaned the house, ran some errands, and worked until 10. I had been invited to a movie night in Cambridge, but of course, the one night work has no one available to close is the first night I get a proper social life.

I went to the BU's grad group Easter orphan dinner and had a great time and felt really welcomed. I just wish my Tuesday night class wasn't on Tuesdays. I would love to go see them more then twice a month.

I got busy with schoolwork and freaking out about getting behind. But after having nothing to do again, I got my mentorship application done, sent off resumes and cover letters to three places to intern at this summer. Need two more to be set.

Yesterday I shopped for illustrators for my publishing project. We have to break up a text and then pick an illustrator and explain why we did what we did. I love projects like this because it makes me feel like a real live editor, and not just a grad poser who writes letters to my fellow workshoppers. Next month we get to write a letter to a real author (but never ever send it) telling them how they can improve an already published book. I have one in mind, thanks to the cart reading at HB. I haven't chosen an illustrator yet, though. It's harder than I imagined. There's just so many, and I have to pick the style and overall tone of the text (humorous, sentimental, a mix?) before I can decide. Now I realize why they don't want writers to pick their illustrators. We'd all just go in for the easy names, the big ones who probably won't illustrate unless it's their own text. Or are too expensive. And then we could flip-flop and delay our own projects!

Then later I started planning for my lesson in writing class on April. I got so absorbed and so happy in searching for essays and picking books and coming up with activities. Last semester, I did the same thing with J. for critical theory class. I love my plans and hope they'll work. I just wish I had more than 30 minutes! I started thinking that I could see myself as an adjunct professor, like Jo or Anna. Anna did say having an MFA will help in getting these entry-level course instructing positions. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher, just like my mom. But over the years, I realized that standing on my feet for 8 hours starting at 7 am and being forced to teach math or according to some strict curriculum, that anything below college wasn't for me. In college, I naively thought I could totally become a professor of Seuss or something. To be a full-fledged professor requires a lot more research and formal writing and schooling I frankly just don't want to do. I have to write.

WIPs: TR will get more done, now that I've decided to alternate workshopping those sections with work on Guardians. Later this spring, I'm going to use ME's contacts to revise my ST picture book text. My mentorship proposal will get looked at by professional editorial eyes in two weeks at Nashua, and I need to work on a brand new piece to submit to BPL. I'm really excited about this last one; I just need the answers to come to me. :)