Friday, June 25, 2010

Connecting to That One Child

Last week I had the opportunity to visit a 4th grade class to talk about my poetry, artwork, endangered species and getting published. I noticed, as I surveyed the room while I was doing my presentation, one child that I just couldn't connect with. He stared in the opposite direction of me.

Usually there is at least one child like this when I visit a class. I really like the challenge of grabbing their attention, and try different things in my presentation to draw that child in.

My paintings wouldn't turn his head. My animal questions didn't turn his head. Reading poems in my book didn't turn his head. I didn't realize that while I was doing all these things, I was trying to reach that child, until after.

Finally, when I started using volunteers to show the size of a Mekong Giant Catfish, the wingspan of a Comoro Black Flying Fox and California Condor, and how far a Snow Leopard can leap, the boy connected. He got excited. I started asking how many feet were in XX number of inches and this little boy answered. He couldn't wait to volunteer. I had him hooked.

It was a neat feeling for me.

Oh, and he had been listening, I knew this by the wonderful questions he asked at the end of my presentation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Accidently

Renna (14 yrs old) is home from the hospital after survivng the lion attack that gives her lion-like abilities. She is starting to discover her new abilities.

“Dad, should I be worried about anything?” She could see every wrinkle in his face increase.

Leaving the lights off, he sighed and sat back down in the chair next to her, He reached out and took her hand. “I think everything’s going to be fine. Your eyesight isn’t affected, so I think our analysis is accurate.”

He squeezed her hand. “Now, go to sleep, and continue to heal.”

“Night, Dad. I love you,” she said returning his gentle squeeze.

Her dad yelped, tearing his hand away.

“Daddy, what’s wrong?” Renna sat up, and turned on the light. She stared in horror at her dad’s hand which looked contorted. “Did I do that?”

“Yes,” he said through clenched teeth. He braced himself against the wall, holding his wrist upright, trying to breathe deeply.

“It was an accident. You didn’t mean to hurt me.” He tried to reassure her as he examined his hand and tried to move a finger. Renna saw fear in her father’s eyes as his face twisted in pain. He’s scared of me, she thought.

“It looks broken. You should go to the hospital,” she said.

He nodded.

“How is this possible? I don’t understand. How could I do that to you? Daddy, what’s happening to me?” Renna began to shake.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense. Your strength doesn’t make sense.” He hesitated for a moment. “Don’t worry, I’ll be home as soon as possible and we’ll figure this out.” He quickly left the room.

Moments later the engine of the truck roared and wheels skidded in gravel.

“I’m so sorry,” she repeated between sobs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Teaser Tuesday - Renna's eyes

14 year old Renna, is in a small rural hospital in Africa after the lion attack. She is talking with her best friend, Sean, who was with her when she was attacked. Sean is 16 years old. Both Renna and Sean's fathers are doctors without borders.

This is the first time Sean and Renna have seen each other after the accident. Sean is crying.

“I’m a bloody mess,” Sean said laughing at himself, and then abruptly stopped. “What’s wrong with your eyes?”

Renna's heart fluttered remembering the bright light of her dad’s flashlight. She looked around the room to see if her sight had changed at all, everything looked crystal clear. In fact, she couldn’t believe the details she could see of objects hidden in the dark.

Sean leaned closer, “Your eyes were brown, right?”

“Yes.” Renna looked puzzled. “Did you say-- were?”

“Your irises are like an icy lime color. I’ve never seen anything like them.” Sean said.

“Can you find a mirror or something? I want to look.”

Sean walked quietly out of the room. He returned a couple minutes later with a small cracked hand mirror.

Renna lifted the mirror and gasped. Her eyes sparkled a funky green color you’d find in a crayon box. Her dark long wavy hair, olive skin, and thick black eyelashes made the contrast in color that much greater.

She put down the mirror and looked at Sean. “They’re the same color as that lion’s.”

“You’re right, I should have remembered that. Can you see okay?” Sean said.

Renna nodded, distracted by concern. “There was something very wrong with that lion, like he had rabies or something.”

“Sean,” his father whispered from the hall. “We need to go, son. Say, goodnight.”

Sean rolled his eyes and squeezed her hand. “I’ll come back in the morning, if my mum will let me. Don’t worry about your eyes. If nothing is blurry I’m sure it’s not a problem.”

“I hope so. I just want to go home,” Renna said, and yawned. “I’m so glad you’re okay. I’ll see you tomorrow. By the way, I think the cub is safe.”

“I had forgotten about the cub. How do you know it’s safe? Never mind, we’ll talk about it tomorrow,” Sean said.

Sean turned in the doorway, “Ren, I don’t blame you for anything. I’d follow you anywhere.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Renna has just survived a lion attack...

Renna heard voices. Her eyelids felt too heavy to open as she lay next to something soft and warm. Her leg ached and pain shot throughout her body, making her twitch involuntarily.

“I found my baby. She was barely alive under a bush,” said a voice. “The humans are close. We should leave quickly. Is the girl going to survive?”

“Yes. I think she will be okay. I’ve cleaned the wound,” said a deep melodic voice. “I am glad your cub continues, thanks to this girl. Did our pride chase the male away?”

“It took ours and the neighboring one to do so. We ran him far past our outlying territories. He is a freak of nature,” said the first voice. “Do you think his bite will shift her?”

“She is making the change. She’s healing very fast, a sign described to me a long time ago,” said the deep voice. “I’m just glad we were able to steal her away from the dark male. He deserves death for destroying our young. We will need to recruit other prides to eliminate him for good or he will continue his mindless killing.”

“We need to go. The humans are anxious,” said the first voice.

“Move the pride out. I’ll wait another moment before following,” the deep voice agreed.

Voices became urgent all around Renna, and then faded away. Warm breath kissed her cheek. Renna saw a faint glow of golden browns and whites above her, making her wonder if an angel was taking her to another place.

“You are a part of us now,” the deep voice crooned in her ear. “Thank you for risking your life to save one of ours. Take care little one, and be strong.”

The warmth disappeared, there was a brief silence, and then a wave of new voices rushed in.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pin-up Advice from a Writer

I have been reading more and more what other writers have to say about writing. Wow, look at that sentence with no commas;) I found this quote on Nathan Bransford's site.

“Take risks. Think deeply. Care about what you write. Have the ego and non-gendered balls to think that your work is important. Write what moves you, what entertains you and sometimes, what pains you. Dig into the places in yourself that hurt the most and see what you find. Sometimes that’s where your book is hiding.”
Lisa Brackmann on the Writing Process and ROCK PAPER TIGER

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Teaser Tuesday Tee Hee

"The Lion Inside"
Young Adult Contemporary/Fantasy

Continuation from last week... Teenagers Renna and Sean, find a lion cub and decide to return it to the pride. They are living in Africa. I took into consideration the comments some people made last week about how dangerous this quest was, and shifted some of the dialouge to get the reader to agree more with Renna's decision to help the cub.

A series of loud crunches stopped them in their tracks.

Sean put his arm protectively across Renna’s slight frame. The grass shifted in one section and then another.

A moment later, a small antelope leaped out from behind the brush. Renna and Sean jumped back to avoid getting hit by the leggy animal.

“Wow, that got my heart pumping,” Renna said. She looked at him sheepishly and then frowned. “Wait…don’t antelope move in herds?”

As if on cue, fifty antelope dove through the foliage.

Sean got pushed sideways and Renna was knocked face down in the dirt by the shoulder of a large buck. She used her body as a shield to protect the cub. She tried to get to her feet, but was knocked down again. Sean stood over her yelling and waving his arms frantically. The antelope moved like water around a rock, avoiding the tall boy.

“Are you okay?” Sean shouted over the drumming beat of hooves. He reached down and helped her off the ground. She nodded and stood behind him watching the backend of the last antelope disappear into a cloud of dust.

“Wow, that was something,” Renna coughed checking to make sure the cub was unharmed. “I wonder what set them off.” She began to pat the dirt from her pants, when she heard a low growl.

Sean was silent.

Renna peered around him and spotted an enormous male lion with an antelope hanging from his mouth. The beast stared at them with unnatural lime-green eyes, and then dropped his prey. His lips curled up, exposing his canines. Sean slowly walked backwards pushing Renna away from the predator.

“There’s nowhere to hide,” she said under her breath.

The lion hissed. His huge body quivered, vibrating his jet black mane. The top of his shoulder had to be at least five feet tall, much larger than the average male lion. The green of his eyes made him look possessed by something other than a successful hunt.

“Maybe if we get far enough away from him we can run to the village,” Sean said in a whisper.

The lion took a step towards them and roared. They covered their ears to block the deafening sound. Sean tripped on a rock, and fell bringing Renna with him. The lion shifted to a hunting position with his shoulders down and his haunches raised.

Sean frantically grabbed a large rock and threw it at the lion.

“Run, Renna! Get outta here!”

Renna turned and sprinted towards the village, screaming. She glanced back at Sean. He had gotten up and was throwing another rock at the beast. The lion swiped at him, knocking him to the ground.

“No!” Renna shrieked and halted.

The crazed lion shifted his attention and began to run in her direction.