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I’m sporadically participating in the Clear Fork Publishing challenge where my publisher Callie Metler-Smith offers prompts to the Clear Fork Authors and Illustrators. Today’s challenge is Throwback Thursday – “Post a throwback picture that has something to do with you personally.”

Since, I live on an RV, my old photos are in storage. However, I did come across a scanned photo that seemed to relate to the challenge. The photo directed me to a photo journal that I started back in 2004. We were purging our home of fifteen years in preparation for a move from Chicago to North Carolina. I struggled emotionally with letting go of “memories.” I decided to take photos of the “memories” and write about them. Today, I share my Throwback Thursday photo and memories. As I was uploading my photo, I realized that it isn’t my photo. It is one I found somewhere (can’t remember where). But it is very much like my old skate box.

!cid_000a01c746f6$98b29cd0$f300000a@Jen

MY OLD ROLLER SKATES
by Alayne Kay Christian

I’ve clung to them for thirty-five years
Through every move, every closet cleaning, every job, love, birth and death
Each time I run across my old roller skates
I return to my youth
The days when I was wild and free
Unafraid
Willing enough and daring enough to exploreskate
Have fun
Just be

I was happy – not a care in the world
Learning about myself and life
Being myself
My authentic self
The skates were magic
As long as they were with me, all was good
And once I put them on my feet
They empowered me
To be confident and free

I can still feel myself in the golden glow of dim lighting
Gliding across that old wood floor to the rhythm of Motown
Moving effortlessly, leisurely, and happily
The world around me slowly drifts away
Leaving me to fly like a bird
Alone with my heart
Feeling the peace, the oneness, and the joy

Today, I release my old skates into the Universe
Perhaps they will work their magic on someone else
I realize I have done my skates, and the Universe, a disservice
By keeping them prisoner all these years
So, I send them out into the Universe with love
And preserve the magic of my roller skates with this picture
I keep my memories with me as a reminder of who I am
Now, my old roller skates are free

I AM FREE
1/4/04

I shared the above for a couple reasons.

  1. To participate in the challenge.
  2. To share something personal about myself.
  3. And to suggest to anyone who struggles to let go of “memories” represented by stuff that a photo journal is a great way to let go. In addition, any kind of journal writing can be a really good friend during times of letting go.

I hope my sharing has either brought back some memories or inspired you to let go in a different way.

 

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Today, I am sharing a presentation that I made showing how a picture book is made. It shows what the picture book looks like when first printed on an offset printer, it shows how signatures are made. It shows fold and gather, cutting, and stitching. It shows how the cover is attached. And more.

I plan to one day make a video so that the folding process will be easier to see. But I need to enlist the hubs as a photographer. He is sometimes harder to corral than a herd of cats 😉 So, for now, I hope you enjoy this video. Click here if you need a larger view of the video.

 

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About Freedom

by Alayne Kay Christian

This week people, trucks, boats on trailers, and RVs swarmed into the peaceful quiet RV resort were we are staying. Today, the lake is a abuzz, too. A steady stream of boats rock the sailboats docked nearby. The beginning of summer. Fun in the sun. And I think, Memorial Day weekend is a little like Christmas. We sometimes forget what it is really all about.

DSC_0258

Arlington National Cemetery

Memorial Day – A day set aside for remembering and honoring the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. I am grateful, everyday, for those who have given their lives, those who have been severely injured, and those who have left their families, friends and homes — all to protect us from harm and to uphold freedom. The following is a modified and abbreviated version of an essay I wrote many years ago. Today, seems like a good day to share it.

Years back, I watched a documentary that followed the life events of several inmates on a prison farm. An elderly man spoke about how freedom comes from within. He made a comparison to all the people out there in the ‘free’ world who are not as free as he who spends his life locked away in prison. He was talking about how we are often prisoners of ourselves. Here we are as free as birds, yet shackled to choices made based on belief systems we have learned from others. We can find freedom from within. We have a choice. Our thoughts and beliefs can imprison us or they can free us.

When the man mentioned the free world, I thought about some of the freest people on earth . . . Americans. We have the freedom to exercise free will. We are free to think for ourselves, question things, and voice our opinions.

I am writing this on Memorial Day weekend. The Indianapolis 500 blares from our television as I write. A woman’s rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner rings in my heart. Next, a twenty-one gun solute honors the memory of our fallen soldiers. The cheering crowd grows silent when a young man steps forward and blows Taps on his trumpet. In honor and gratefulness to all our soldiers, I stop typing. Through a teary haze, I watch thousands of Americans, and some visitors from abroad, gathered in one place for a day of competition, patriotism, and fun. The crowd looks like a sea of red, white, and blue swaying dots. I imagine that they are as free as a flock of colorful birds that have come together through free will.

“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.” – Jeff Miller

“These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor – and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror.” Michael N. Castle

“As America celebrates Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nations wars.” John M. McHugh

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Can you write a children’s story in 50 words? Would you like to try? Are you up for the challenge? If so, check out Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words challenge. The deadline is March 6, so get moving! Great prizes! Twenty-one winners – 21 prizes! Includes 50% off coupons for Art of Arc or for Art of Arc alumni 50% off coupons for a critique.

Here is my entry.

WINTER WALK

by Alayne Kay Christian  winter-walk-night-2

Cold air – warm sun
Feet crunch
in snow.

Fragrant pines.
Icy river groans.

Sun slips
behind pines.
Nightfall flaunts black-velvet skies
Evening star
Soft moon glow

Feet crunch
in snow.
Up steps
Through the door
Boots fall
to the floor.

Toasty fire – cozy quilt
Puffy pillow
Muscles hush

Pleasant dreams

 

 

 

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WHERE IS THE LOVE?

heartWHERE IS THE LOVE?

by Alayne Kay Christian

“Until you have learned to be tolerant with those who do not always agree with you: until you have cultivated the habit of saying some kind word of those whom you do not admire: until you have formed the habit of looking for the good instead of the bad there is in others, you will be neither successful nor happy.”  – NAPOLEON HILL

If you haven’t heard, I’m very excited to share that I have signed a multi-book deal with Clear Fork publishing. SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY: TRYING TO MAKE IT RAIN will be the first chapter book in the series, which is expected to be released in April 2017. More information to follow. I had an outpouring of love and cheers from the writing community, and I am overwhelmingly grateful.

Speaking of love, I spend a great deal of time sharing “the love” by trying to help fellow writers for free outside of my paid services. Why? Because that’s the kind of community I want to be a part of. A community that lifts others up not puts others down. I’ve always been proud to be a part of our loving, kind, and giving writing community. But I’ve noticed that sometimes people get caught up in negativity on social media. Writers talk a lot about diversity. We write about tolerance and acceptance of others. But sometimes we forget to apply them ourselves.

This is a close-knit community where many of us belong to the same groups. This means there is potential that most everybody sees a popular thread. Remember people, publishing houses, agencies, and people’s books that are called out by name in a negative way will likely be read by those being harmed by that discussion. Just for a moment, I will deem myself Grandmother of the kid lit world and ask that everyone, regardless of your personal agenda, please, please, please be respectful and considerate of the feelings of those who have chosen a different path than you or have taken a different path than you think you might choose in the future. For the dreams, goals, hearts, dedication, blood, sweat, and tears that they put into their work make them the same as you. Remember, you are talking about human beings and their projects that are near and dear to their hearts. Before you make a negative comment, consider who might read it, and try putting yourself in their shoes. How would you feel?

Don’t judge. Celebrate. Show some tolerance, acceptance, and compassion to your fellow writers. Bring back the love.

  • If you’re experience makes you concerned that a fellow writer might be making a bad career choice, reach out to them privately.
  • If your experience makes you want to warn new writers about contracts and signing with certain types of publishers or certain agents. Consider doing it in general terms and not by focusing on any one publisher or agent. Or again, do it privately.
  • Lastly, condemning people or their work publically is not cool.

My goal here is to stop negative, hurtful, and harmful discussions. I always welcome comments, but please in the words of Thumper, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Much appreciated.

 

 

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SIMPLE ENCOURAGEMENT

“Potential vanishes into nothing without effort.” I’m not sure, who to attribute this quote to, so I’ll tell you where it came from and let you decide. During her RNC speech, Ivanka Trump quoted her father, Donald Trump, as saying this to her as a child. Please don’t let your political views stop you from receiving those words of wisdom. When I heard them, I heard them with the ears of an author. An author who sometimes gets discouraged. And I was inspired.

 

In my critiques, I often tell the author of the manuscript, in a variety of ways, something like “This story has potential.” I believe that a portion of writers receive my critiques as inspiration to take their story to the next level. And I fear that a portion of them become discouraged and put their story aside. So, I offer this simple blog post as encouragement and inspiration.

 

KEEP ON.png

 

How do you react to critiques? How do you react to rejections? If you give up, your story’s potential vanishes. If you stand strong and keep on keeping on, that effort may nurture your story until it blooms into the beautiful flower it is meant to be.

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announcementsWhile I was off pondering future blog posts, taking a break from critiques, and editing picture book manuscripts, I discovered a great picture book writing course. To be fair, I wrote a picture book writing course! Today’s post will share some exciting news about my critique partners and friends. But I’m also EXCITED TO ANNOUNCE the launch of ART OF ARC: How to Analyze Your Picture Book Manuscript – An independent study writing course. My Mama brought me up to be polite, so I’ll share the news about my friends first. We have had so much good news in the writing community this year that I can’t share it all in one post. My apologies to my friends who are not in this round of announcements.

olivers grumbles

My critique partner Yvonne Mes has two newly released picture books.

Oliver’s Grumbles – illustrated by Giuseppe Poli

Meet Sydney Nolan – illustrated by Sandra Eterovic

meet sydney

My critique partner Renee LaTulippe  authored poems in the recently released

National Geographic Book of Nature Poetry: More than 200 Poems With Photographs That Float, Zoom, and Bloom!

nature poetry

snappsyMy critique partner Julie Falatko’s debut picture book Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book)  will be released in February 2016. It is illustrated by Tim Miller.

My critique partner Dev Petty’s debut picture book I Dont’ Want to be a Frog was released this year. The illustrator is Mike Boldt. I don't want to be a frog

My friend and Sub Six member

Penny Parker Klostermann’s debut picture book There was an old dragon

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight was released in August. It’s illustrated by Ben Mantle.

I just registered for my fifth round of Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) Since I am sharing friend’s books, Tara has been on fire! She had two books released this year and has several coming out next year. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS!

Piboidmo banner 2015Bear Book final cover 

AND NOW FOR MY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!

art of arc extra

I’m happy to announce the launch of ART OF ARC: How to Analyze Your Picture Book Manuscript. This is a self-study course that will deepen your understanding of picture books written with a classic arc and introduce you to other picture book structures. Understanding story and character arcs will help give your stories order and the tension that will energize them from the beginning to the end. This energy will not only drive your protagonist forward – it will also drive readers to turn pages and keep reading. The course offers worksheets that will improve existing manuscripts and make future writing stronger. You will gain the knowledge and receive the tools to assist you in analyzing your own work prior to investing in professional critiques. It guides you through a manuscript-self-assessment process that may help prevent submitting manuscripts prematurely. It also shows how to avoid common writing errors and apply writing elements that will enhance your stories in a way that will take them to a higher level. The tools provided are perfect for analyzing mentor texts, too! All the above and much, much more for less than the cost of one professional critique! Detailed information about the course, the very low introductory price, and my qualifications to teach this course can be found on my website.  You can find a few testimonials below.

TESTIMONIALS

ART OF ARC is one of the most comprehensive writing classes I’ve ever taken. It breaks down complex aspects of story structure in a clear manner that helped me to understand every element of picture books, from hook to satisfying ending. The worksheets helped me to dissect my stories and see what they were missing and how they needed to be rearranged, making the revision process a lot less painful. If you want to learn how to develop a great story arc with a hook, page-turners, tension, dark moment, climax, and satisfying ending – this class is for you! Alayne even includes links for writing resources.

– Donna C.

Children’s Book Writer

Alayne has outdone herself with this course; I don’t know HOW she does it. Things I thought I understood about writing picture books are now crystal clear!! Alayne somehow manages to make it simple and easy to understand yet delves deeper into the workings of a picture book than I ever have before, and I’ve studied picture book writing quite a bit!  Great information, wonderfully laid out to lead you systematically through analyzing and improving your manuscript. Almost every lesson gives really helpful examples. I loved this course! I’ll continue using it to polish my manuscripts in the future.

– Meg M.

Children’s Book Writer

Fresh. Straight forward. Thought provoking. Idea generating. WOW! It clarified and enhanced my understanding of things I’ve learned prior to the course. You’ve explained things I’ve heard before in a way that is clicking better now. I feel I have a better eye for story arcs, extraneous information that bogs stories down, lack of forward movement, how authors keep or do not keep tension in their books, etc.

– ART OF ARC Beta Students

Detailed information about the course, the very low introductory price, and my qualifications to teach this course can be found on my website.

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