Happy B-day to Me & to Our Critique Group

flowers and computer

This is my birthday week, and I’m tempted, of course, to reflect on fond memories and post a few vintage pictures. I’m sure to do that in the future, but I’ve decided to look forward on this anniversary of my birth. Personal goals in the coming year are to form even firmer bonds with those individuals who matter to me AND to pursue further publication of my work with renewed structure and vigor.

I’m happy to say that I belong to several national and regional organizations that help to support writing and publication goals. I took advantage of local offerings and joined a writing critique group at the library soon after my move to Texas. Its members write in various genres and come from many different walks of life. We present our works for group feedback, share pertinent writers’ questions or information, and celebrate our successes.

Sometimes that meeting just once a month wasn’t quite enough to keep me motivated. About a year ago, I pursued the concept of a critique group for writers and illustrators of children’s literature, and “Write 4 Kids” was born! We also meet once a month at the library to present our works-in-progress, including books, stories, illustrations and query letters for potential publishers and agents.

In addition to providing feedback, we also share questions, information, disappointments and successes. Our numbers have grown steadily, and attendance continues to motivate and enlighten a group of local authors and illustrators. The input, friendship and support of both groups have been invaluable to me.

Another personal goal for the upcoming year is for my continued growth as an effective critique group member. Sometimes it’s too easy for one to offer a possible “fix” for a piece. The first order of business should be a focus on the positives and “what works.” I have to admit that my work as a freelance editor sometimes causes me to look for small surface errors instead of focusing on the “broad picture.”  I must remember to practice what I preach!

As always, soon after my birthday comes the first day of spring. I hope that your own season of renewal, wherever you’re located, will bring beauty, hope, and happiness.

Becky

 

 

Advertisements

A Canine Christmas Carol

house for blog final 001“Are you there?” muttered the man into his pillow.

The sound wakened New Dog, who had been snoozing downstairs in his own resting place. Is he talkin’ to me?

Others had lived there with the man before New Dog’s time, but he didn’t know very much about them. He caught a whiff of First Dog on the carpet, every so often, and was sometimes tempted to chase his elusive shadow that dodged throughout the plants in the garden.

On occasion, New Dog sensed the essence of a woman moving through the house. She was always just beyond his reach when he tried to follow. These Others occasionally came up in conversation when his person talked and the dog’s ears stood at attention. The man referred to them as ‘Mr. Boo’ and ‘Sweetie Pie,’ but didn’t offer much detail. What was their story?

New Dog slept in a large crate that afforded a clear view of the eating and sitting areas. He had a comfy stuffed animal and stayed safe and warm, even as the cold winds dumped frosty white beyond the door.

A tree with little, sparkling lights had recently shown up in the sitting room, and his man had held up a stocking, stuffed almost to popping, that very night. “Tomorrow,” he had promised, with a smile.

Circling several times, New Dog rediscovered just the right spot and soon settled back into a steady pattern of breathing. The line between wakefulness and sleep turned to a blur.

What’s that?  His head jerked up, and he watched another canine pass his crate on furry paws that didn’t seem to quite touch the floor.  New Dog then realized that his own coat was almost the same dark shade as that of his predecessor.

First Dog kept moving, and he joined a hazy figure that appeared in the food room. He let out a quiet little “yip,” and the shadow of a woman threw him a treat. She smelled of flowers, and her smooth, dark hair was flecked with silver that shimmered in the slice of streetlight shining through a window.

Sweetie Pie?  The woman’s voice was soothing and escaped into the air like music that had been silent for too long.

New Dog blinked and swiped at both eyes with his right paw. Are they really here?  The misty figures still remained when his gaze returned.  Maybe they’ll stay if I keep quiet. Dream or reality, he peeked at them, unmoving, from his prone position. The visitors continued their reunion of nuzzles and hugs.

After a while, his man walked down the stairs to join them, as the dancing snowflakes accelerated outside the window. Content, sleepy and cozy, New Dog had a front row seat to the movie of their used-to-be life. The couple loved and laughed. Bulbs twinkled merrily on the tree. First Dog barked and pranced. Lights on the tree became dim. The people began to argue and then cried. Their dog grew weary and still.

No… New Dog blocked out the sounds by covering his ears with front paws. Darkness overtook him.

When morning sunlight appeared, so did the solitary man, with promises of goodies from the stocking.

As soon as his crate door was opened, New Dog ran from one room to the next sniffing the floors. Not there. His man looked on in puzzlement. The dog returned to each room for another pass and searched in every corner. Gone !

He considered his options and strutted past the man holding the stocking. With no concern for lost treat potential, New Dog sidled up to the tree and peed on the trunk.