Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Conversation with Obama

OK, since I imagine many of my writer friends coming to this blog I might want to keep it a little less personal and more professional. That works for a while. But life always seems to show up and mine, these days, is so very pro Barack Obama. We are in a hell of a pickle and we weren't in 1999. We are now. We have lost the respect of the world community. We've invaded a country without real provokation, we've had our own civil and individual rights suspended, our government gives breaks to big corporations while ignoring the needs of working people. I have to drive half as much as I used to and oil companies are pocketing record profits. For a while this confused me. And then I learned to follow the money. I am a Christian, although I don't agree with most "Christian" right wing political goals. I see people being duped into believing the Republicans are pro family and pro morality. I believe they are pro money - their own. I am proud to be an American and long for my country to act the way it ought to - protecting the rights of common people the world over and working for equality, justice, and the ability to earn an honorable living here at home. I wasn't seeing a lot of that since the arrival of George W. Bush.

Then here comes Barack Obama. He's smart, thoughtful, practical. And he's following his conscience, not the dollar. I was thrilled and honored to be invited to a conversation with him in Reno last Sunday. I was not disappointed. He spoke of his plan for the economy (cut taxes to all earning less than $150,000), health care (make health care available to all Americans who care to participate through a plan as good as what he receives in Congress), renewable energy (wow this one blew me away - convert unused factories to produce wind turbines and solar panels using the skilled laborers who are now working low pay service jobs. Then send those solar and wind units out to rural America where they can supplement incomes and produce clean energy!), veterans (take care of them - screen all returning middle east vets for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental difficulties) and so on. I was blown away.

The Obamacampaign depends on volunteers and donations (however small) from regular people like you and me. Click on the photo - taken by Patrick at www.imajinimages.com for more information. Or stop by an Obama headquarters. Remember what YOUR life was like in 1999. Our nations life. How is it better? Worse? Now imagine it with Obama as President. If you are a supporter already, please volunteer. If you are undecided, ask hard questions. Then ask more questions. But find out about this man. Together we can change our nation.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Vets and Horses

No, not doctor vets, but veterans. It's been a very interesting weekend. Rather than write a tome, I'll say that I met three veterans this weekend and all were moved by the premise of Bull Rider - a kid coping with his brother's serious war injury sustained in Iraq and the way that effects the whole family. I think vets will make an audience for my book. I would be honored if they'd share it with their younger family members. I also watched a lot of horse girls, young and old, interact with Terri Farley about her Phantom Stalliion series. Has she got some FANS. People long to connect - whether with their own stories or with their dreams. On either level, they are thrilled when someone out there "gets it" and writes a book that touches them. Then they want to know that person.

It occurred to me that my favorite books when I was between nine and twelve were horse books. I read many by Margarite Henry, Mary O'Hara, Black Beauty, etc. I think we need a list of horse books we've loved - old and new. This one will be long. Waiting to see Vaquerogirl and Terri F.'s list. Let's try to include some contemporary ones too. More later about this weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Those Aha Moments

I'm speaking on Friday to Washoe County School teachers who are on their way back to work after the summer. The event is called "Fresh Start" and I'm starting them off! I'm more than a little nervous about filling an hour with my thoughts on starting fresh, teaching eager and not so eager students. I do remember the nightmares I had before every year that I taught. They always centered around being totally unprepared - missing the school bus, wearing entirely the wrong thing, having no lesson plans, not remembering how to speak. And then there was the stomach ache that did not stop until I met my class. Then it all went away and I was teaching again.

With no particular topic to speak to but "inspire and share something fun - we love authors" I wracked my brain for what to say. I've not taught everyday for many years, so although I still spend a lot of time with kids and teachers, I wouldn't want to take "teaching" as my topic. So I'm talking about Those Aha Moments, about stories, changing lives, connecting with kids. That's what I do and that's what they do. In preparing for this talk, I've had the great joy of remembering teachers, books, and moments that changed me, and of recalling a few looks on children's faces when I knew something had changed for them.

We have an ongoing list of books that changed you. What about teachers? Is there a teacher who changed your life? Your year? Share the story before Friday and it may make it into my speech. (credited of course.) Share it anyway. It's good to remember the people who shaped our lives. Cheers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Into Every Life

A little whipped cream must fall. Honestly, if I'm ordering a mocha or a frappachino, then I think the whipped cream is a given. I'm already WAY past thinking about calories or cardiac health. Now that I can't eat wheat, which is another story, whipped cream is high on my list of treats. And it doubles as a nice metaphor too. What little extra can you add to your day that just makes you smile, maybe a little guiltily? Go ahead, do it.

I just went to the SCBWI Conference in LA. That whole event is like a banana split with all the toppings - one friend after another, one interesting speaker after another, and lots and lots of people who like to talk about books. Aahhh. Here's a challenge for you - what's the best advice you have gotten about writing (or life, or whipped cream) - that can be shared in one or two sentences. Try it. (And attribute it if possible.) We'll make a new list.