Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Holidays from the Dominican Republic!

Since it's Christmas week, here's a little video card from me in the Dominincan Republic, to you! As you can see, Christmas in the Dominican Republic is not all that different from Christmas in the States - but here's are a few photos of my non-writing life here (working for Health Horizons International), to give you at least a little Dominican flavor this December! If the music doesn't play, please click the photo and "unmute" the sound. : ) Happy Holidays to all!
- Janelle

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Gift that Gives in Two Directions

As the holiday season jumps into full swing this December many of us are considering sharing gifts with needy children and families. This is a wonderful opportunity to share books with kids and teens, and I highly recommend it!
Also, as authors/illustrators, and friends of authors/illustrators, we should consider that when we share books with kids at Christmas (which is the most important part of the giving - getting the books into the hands of kids,) that in addition to giving copies of the most popular books of the year like "Across the Universe" - Congrats to SCBWI Carolinas' own Beth Revis!," and The Hunger Games Trilogy, and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Cabin Fever," we can also help get books by authors we know into the hands of kids as well! When one child reads a book and loves it, that child generally talks about the book to other children, and word about the book spreads. More kids get their hands on the book - a book that may not yet have made the New York Times Best Seller list, but that may show that child or teen a beautiful fantasy world that they can escape to, or a wonderful `true to life' story that they can see themselves in, or a picture book that gets their imagination soaring. Not all of the great books published over the past few years have yet made the New York Times Best Seller list. So giving books by authors you know is both a gift to the kids and a gift to that author.
So I'd strongly encourage all the authors and illustrators out there to share a currently popular book from 2011 with kids and teens in need, and also to wrap that book up in red ribbon with a wonderfully written, possibly not-yet-as-famous book by an author or illustrator you know, as well!
Let's spread the best-selling YA/MG/Children's books, and also the wonderful other books that we all know exist out there, to kids and teens in need! If you know of a great book you've read, by an author you know, that you'd like to recommend this Christmas, please post a comment with the name of the book, author, and a brief plot summary, below : ).
Here are some great nonprofits and government agencies that desperately need your book donations for kids in the U.S. this holiday season:
1.) Toys for Tots: (Click the link to find a drop box near you.)
2.) Your local children's hospital: (Check the phone book. Many kids' hospital units have a bookshelf and would love new books for teens and younger kids this year.)
3.) Your local Department of Social Services Foster Care Department: (Check the government listings in your phone book. Many Foster Care programs have Angel Trees with specific toys and clothes requested by the kids in foster care each year, but many of these kids only get 1 or 2 gifts. So often these programs also accept extra donations, like books, to suppliment those gifts. Change the world a little bit by putting books into the hands of kids who are not able to live with their parents this year!
4.) Your local Domestic Violence Shelter or Women and Children's Homeless Shelter: Domestic Violence Shelters and Family Homeless Shelters offer temporary housing to kids, teens, and parents in distressing life situations. Most of these programs have a bookshelf sparsely populated with old, falling-apart books. They need more! They need new ones! Check out your local phone listings to contact the shelter near you.
I hope we'll all share at least two books with kids and teens in need this year. Share one that's famous. Share one that's not - yet. And wrap them up together with a big red ribbon.
Happy Holidays to all the writers, illustrators, kids, and teen readers out there. May it be a wonderful December for everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Writing in the Time of Cholera

The lights in my little apartment in the Dominican Republic went off with a click. Black night from the street outside flooded the house and I scrambled for candles and matches like I always do. The power had gone out again, leaving my entire section of the city in darkness -- except for the pale blue light radiating from my tiny laptop screen where I had been working on the second revision of my current YA manuscript.

"Thank God!" I thought, as I lit the candles and set them next to the outline for my manuscript on the darkened table. "Thank God I had the good sense to charge the computer before the power went off! Now I can pump out another chapter here in the candle light before the battery dies. Then I'll charge the computer again when the power comes back on tomorrow. A lack of electricity can't get in my way, not today!"
It's a true tale, and the beginning of my answer to the question many fellow YA writers have been asking me since I let this blog go inexplicably quiet in September of last year. (Sorry about that.) I'm here now, to restart the blog. But here's the story that many of you know and many of you don't know: I took a brief hiaitus from blogging to start a two year stint of humanitarian work on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic. That's where I am currently living and writing.

In September, 2010, right after attending the wonderful, annual, 2010 SCBWI Carolinas Fall
Conference, I began a transition from my (day) job in the United States to my current 2 year
committment doing health care work in the countryside of the Dominican Republic.
Realizing that I didn't have time to make this transition, and write my manuscript, and blog all
at the same time, I put the blog on a break. For several months, in Spring 2011, I also had to put my fiction and non-fiction writing on a break, so I could move here in June 2011, learn a new language, get used to a new culture, and orient to a new job. I got a writer-friend to cover my column in the SCBWI Pen and Palette for the summer, (thanks Jenny Murray,) stuck my computer in my suitcase and brought it to theD.R. with me, and put some things in my writing life very temporarily on hold.

But I'm now back with my `butt in the chair,' noveling -- in a different country temporarily, surrounded by a different culture and language - but still attending my critique group meetings in Raleigh via skype, (God bless the Goalies,) writing my SCBWI column and other non-fiction work, and now back to blogging as well. I'm thrilled to be living the good life - doing humanitarian work, which has always been dear to my heart, while working seriously on my writing at the same time!

All of that to say,while I spend my days riding up and down a mountain on a motorcycle,
checking blood pressures, hugging children, and going house to house educating people
on how to stop a minor cholera outbreak that is causing problems here on
the North Coast of the Dominican Republic, I'm also re-awakening writermorphosis.

Stop by here for tips on how to keep your writing career going, no matter where you're living,
as well as various ruminations and tips on YA fiction and nonfiction writing and publishing; details and interviews with fellow SCBWIers who have new agents, new adventures, and new books coming out; and info. on YA events and contests --- all the usual Writermorphosis stuff!

Thanks to all my many writer friends who've kept in touch and kept me on task with
my noveling during this transition. I've missed you guys too! I'm glad to be back on-line with
the blog, and I hope to see many of you at the SCBWI Conference in Charlotte in September!
I'll be here on Writermorphosis, posting at least every 2 weeks -- whenever the electricity is on! : )