Weathered

Years can be kind, weeks can be rough. Days may vary from hour to hour, minute to minute. The one constant is that time marches on. Sometimes it feels like we’re under its boots and other moments like we’re riding a wave.

Yesterday I was sorting through coins and noticed two 2015 pennies that looked like they came out of different decades: one is bright and the other has long since lost his sparkle.

pennies

What did that dull one ever do to deserve the disgrace of non-shininess? Did one of these pennies get put through the wash or dropped on the ground more than normal? Or maybe the luster was rubbed off because it was someone’s lucky penny—constantly handled and cherished. There’s no way to tell one story from the other just by looking at them and they are both worth the same, no matter what.

P.S. This is my 200th post. Many thanks for following my journey.
A contest is coming soon, so be on the lookout.

Next Month

2015 has been an exciting year for me and it’s becoming more so by the week. First, after waiting over two decades, I experienced my favorite band in concert (front row, center!) in the spring.
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Then I visited the largest home in America late summer. https://carriedalby.com/2015/09/01/adventure-ahead/

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But the year isn’t done with me yet. 2015 will afford the experience of my third bucket list item: the publishing of my first book.

Yes, the release date for Fortitude (Surge imprint, Anaiah Press) has been moved from January 2016 to December 8, 2015. Thirty-four days to go! I’ll be posting more about this historical novel in the days ahead.

Also, last month Europe (favorite band, as linked above) announced the second half of their U.S.A. tour to promote their newest album “War of Kings” and they are coming to one of my favorite venues on the Gulf Coast. I bought my tickets and will be seeing them for the second time in less than a year in 93 days!

One of the best years ever! How are things looking from your perspective?

Repeats

2015 has been a year of edits. Multiple rounds of edits on my first novel, Fortitude, carried me through winter and spring. In between those, I reworked my second novel, Corroded, to be submission ready for my publisher. (I signed the contract for it in April.) Over the summer, I worked on my messy work-in-progress, as well as line edits on Fortitude.

And Fortitude is finally done! The manuscript is with the designer and cover artist. WooHoo!

Teen me.

Teen me.

Now I’m back to edits on Corroded. I’m spending my early morning hours going through life with Mary and Ben, revisiting the angst and thrill of high school. Would I go back in time if I could?

No!

But I’ll take the safe distance of fiction to reassess those emotions, whether through my own storytelling or the art of others. After all, I think we are all still “coming-of-age.” Even if you are happy where you are in life, there is always something you can do to stretch yourself to the next level.

If you could redo a section of your life, would you?

Knowledge is Kindness

Over the past few months, I’ve come to an understanding. It’s nothing earth shattering, and I’m sure these things have been said before, but I needed the time to mull things over for myself.

Now I can share: I’m less likely to take offense to things people say if I know the individual.

Why is this? I’m empathetic to where they come from and realize that they have a valid reason for thinking the way they do, even if I don’t agree with it. The better I know the person, the more leeway I give their opinions.

Take the same words, said by someone I don’t know, and my first reaction is to be offended. For example, a friend says something that I disagree with. I’ll usually stay out of the conversation, and maybe even think “bless your heart” (a slight assimilation to southern living). But if one of their other friends steps in to agree or expand on the topic toward their angle, I get defensive about my ideals and think “how can she listen to people like that?” Or “I can’t believe there are people in the world that buy in to that propaganda!” And, well, you know… I’m sure you’ve thought similar things.

But don’t worry, I get over it.

And now, more than ever, it doesn’t bother me beyond that initial gut reaction.

It rolls off—the natural man is conquered, at least on this front.

After all, I don’t want to give other people’s words power to corrode my mood for the day.
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With all the contention in the world right now—even in our own communities—I think the best way to peace is to get to know each other. That’s the easiest way to combat judgmental behavior. After all, the majority of people want the same thing (peace, helping those less fortunate, etc.), we just have different ideas on what we think is the best route to get there.

Knowledge can equal kindness. Who do you need to understand more?

Inspired by Setting

While visiting with family a few weeks ago, I was blessed to experience several days of spring in the Midwest. I’ve been to central Illinois in the summer and winter, but this was our first trip this time of year. Many of the trees that were in full-bloom in the deep-south over a month ago were in their glory up north.
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Farmers and gardeners down south have their crops in the ground, but the Amish farmers were beginning to plow their fields—with horse power, of course.
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Trees that are fully green at home are just coming into their foliage there.
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Beauty can be found wherever you look.
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And so can corrosion.
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When possible, take time to visit new places. If that’s not an option, try viewing your regular piece of the world through new eyes. What details have you never noticed before?

Corroded

Last week, on April Fool’s Day (no joke), I signed my second book contract with Anaiah Press. Fortunately, there is no video footage of my happy dance. That would be awkward, almost as uncomfortable as admitting it happened in the first place.

The “new book” is Corroded, a young adult, contemporary novel. Corroded has been a labor of love for nearly a decade (and will continue to be worked upon this year, as I go through professional edits with the publishing company). The story has seen numerous critiques, several dozen drafts, and much support from friends and family through the years. It’s fitting that it will be released during Autism Awareness Month because the dual point-of-view is shared between main characters Mary and Ben, who has high functioning autism.
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For those paying attention, that’s Fortitude on January 12 and Corroded on April 12, 2016. Both novels will be available in e-book and paper formats on their respected days.
In other words, “Don’t let your fortitude get corroded.” Everything happens in the proper time, in the right season (sometimes after years of labor).

P.S. Ever in tune with my literary life, Fernando is flourishing.
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Nurturing Talent

Last Saturday, I participated in the Metro Mobile Reading Council’s Young Authors’ Conference and Teen Writing Fair. Besides it giving me a chance to hang out in the library for seven hours, I had the pleasure of working alongside some fabulous book lovers as we inspired the next generation of creative talent. Teachers, librarians, as well as local authors and illustrators pulled their resources together to present an informative and motivational day.

Photo by Candice Conner

Photo by Candice Conner

The morning began with the Young Authors’ Conference for third through sixth grade students. After a keynote speech from guest illustrator R. Gregory Christie (all the way from Georgia), the students split into groups for one of thirteen mini-workshops.
I was blessed to be able to run a “Visual Inspiration” workshop with fellow author and friend, Joyce Scarbrough. After sharing my own collection of maps, locations, and characters for my soon-to-be published novel and work-in-progress, I showed examples of visuals that make it into middle grade novels—using a few books as examples. 100_7046
Then, our plucky group of students set to work scouring magazines and catalogs for their own story prompts. They clipped and glued gardens, building, pets, and people. 100_7053Some even started character worksheets complete with backstories. It was awesome to be a part of, and better still, to see their excitement when they shared their work with other nearby workshop groups. (Yes, one lucky group had a crime scene as a story prompt. So cool!) 100_7055

After a brief lunch break and room reset, we went back to work with the Teen Writing Fair. I acted as MC for the event, and started the meeting by announcing the winners of the Fourth Annual Tracy Hurley Memorial Writing Contest, which was hosted by Mobile Writers’ Guild. As the Young Author Committee Chair for MWG, I worked alongside Joyce Scarbrough and Candice Marley Conner to read and score the middle and high school entries. The finalists received cash prizes, journals/pens, and a hand written critique of their short stories.

Joyce TWF 2015

Photo by Candice Conner

The seventh through twelve graders were then graced with fun and inspiring keynote addresses by Ms. Scarbrough and Mr. Christie. Following that, they students were free to meet and mingle among all ten guests at their tables, including authors, illustrators, poets, and biographers. The activity concluded with an open mic for the teens to share their stories and poems—a great way to close the event.

Whatever you do, be sure to take time to give of your talents to others. The experience has the ability to enrich all aspects of your life.