Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Driven by Fear: Review of RJ Palacio's Wonder

Click here to go to RJ Palacio's Web Site

Fear. It drives us all one way or another . . .
Into our shells. Running. Screaming. Avoiding.
Or standing tall, conquering what ignites our nervous system.

The thing is, you don’t really know how you’re going to react to a situation until you’re in the midst of it.

Auggie Pullman, a facially deformed fifth grade character, endures stares, jeers, and taunts on a regular basis. Walking out the door into the world takes a large dose of brave. But he keeps going. One foot in front of the other. With kindness.

In the story, not all the characters react to their fears the same way as Auggie. From their reactions, negative consequences erupt, including anger, hate, and hurtful acts. Add the element of peer pressure, the fear of not being accepted, of being ostracized, and situations deteriorate at an even faster rate. 

The book contrasts obvious physical deformities to those that are more transparent. In handling any type of deformity or difference, we need to be more compassionate all around to make this world a better place. Education through stories is a great way to accomplish that.

Wonder is one of those stories.  The book makes it clear that through all challenges, kindness matters. And Wonder speaks to our vulnerabilities, our humanness.  

A quote on page 392, from a grandmother, “One mistake does not define you . . .” Which means realizing that a bad decision does not make you a bad person. But this section of the story also speaks of making things right, and forgiving oneself. Huge lessons.

Yes, we should all –young, old, and everyone in between— read this book to learn important lessons. But Wonder is also an enjoyable read. It’s well written and entertaining. A keeper of a book.

It’s simply wonder-full. 

#Wonder #GetBrave #RJPalacio  #Author #Review #Fear #Bullying #Family

Thursday, April 23, 2015

7 Cures for Dragging Feet, Deep Sighs, and Blank Brains

Not on this cure list . . .

I started writing this post about finding cures for writer's block, but then I realized that these remedies could apply to lifer's block, too! 

Lifer’s block is when you get stuck in a rut. Symptoms include dragging your feet both literally and figuratively, emitting deep sighs, and complaining about everything.

Writer’s block includes sitting in front of a blank screen or blank piece of paper, with a mind that is just as blank.

The cures:

1.       Take a break. Meditate. Walk around the block. Take a dip in a pool. Commune with nature. Do something you enjoy. Or try something new. Maybe attend a community event, try a new restaurant or new recipe. But take a breather. Might be ten minutes, ten hours, ten days . . . 

2.       Read. Okay, so this cure could fall under #1. Take a break, but I wanted to give “Read” its own section since it’s so important. Reading enables you to learn something new. Peruse articles online or in a magazine. Pick up a book. You never know which morsel of newfound knowledge may be the perfect antidote.

3.       Grateful list. Sometimes we just need a new perspective on things. Keeping a daily list of what we’re grateful for can get us out of any kind of rut. And help our brains move to a happier place, ready to solve problems instead of wallowing in them. 

4.       Ask someone. Talk it out with members of your critique group, your mom, a friend, your hair dresser. The more brains, the more ideas, and the better off you will be. Someone else may have a quick solution to your dilemma, inspire you with a new way of thinking, or may even add a twist to your plot in your life or in your book. 

5.      Workshops, classes, & conferences. When you’re around other people, there’s something powerfully and magically healing about that. Just rubbing elbows, sharing your journey, knowing there are others out there that are just like you, helps. And never think that you know everything there is to know. Expanding your knowledge can be just the remedy you need.  
Note: I joined the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators. This professional organization offers workshops, conferences, and other services like finding critique groups in your area. I can't say enough good things about this group and its members!
ahhhh. Nature. 

6.       Ask the characters what they would do. Sound a little crazy? Well, maybe. But my characters, Corey, Nick, and Fern from Brave, have nursed me back from writer’s block on several occasions. If you’ve created solid characters, or at least ones with a bit of sympathy, they become real, equipped with minds of their own. Why not pick their brains once in a while? Especially if yours is on empty. If you’re experiencing lifer’s block, characters can help you, too. Think about the books you’ve read. Think about the characters and the choices they made. Or find books that mimic your situation and discover what those characters do.

7.       Start over. Ouch! Yes, I know this is like ripping off an adhesive bandage, but sometimes extreme measures is what the doctor orders. Could be the route your writing or life is taking needs a detour. Head in a different direction and see where that leads you. Maybe it’s just a paragraph that needs to be altered, or a chapter, but sometimes the whole story may need to undergo surgery. Or maybe it’s buying a new wardrobe, going on a new adventure, or finding a new circle of friends. Maybe a career change or move to a different region of the world is in order. Assess your situation. Make plans. And get your brave on. You’re never too young or too old to start anew.

I have swallowed each and every one of these 7 pills. And all have worked for me. But these recommended medicines and doses vary per person. Swallow at your own risk . . .

And if you’ve got some different remedies, please share them below in the comment section!!! 
With thanks, Jeanne

#Writers #SCBWI  #Life #Cures #Happiness #GetBrave #WritersBlock #LifersBlock #Author