The first thing is to get rid of this Do-It-Yourself drowning kit

The first thing is to get rid of this Do-It-Yourself drowning kit

I faced a moment of despair when my wife casually asked me how my book was coming along during the throes of mid-term projects for my grad school classes. “It’s not,” I said, words I’d held inside me for the previous two months. And I wondered if I’d ever get back to my finished novel, the one rewritten twice and revised three times. The finished 450 page sack of birdshot hanging around my neck–how would I ever get back into it?

I read a wonderful article in Writer’s Digest a couple days ago that addressed this problem. (What problems aren’t addressed by Writer’s Digest?) The article, Important Writing Lessons From First-Time Novelists did what the title promised–the article allowed novice novelists to share their experience for those aspiring to be novice novelists. The ones in my shoes, wondering if they’d ever finish the rat bastard, wondering if the mound of words would ever be strong enough to present to potential agents.

Read More

5 ways to reach out to high school students in need

5 ways to reach out to high school students in need

Famous motivational speaker and author Mawi Asgedom recently visited Senn High School, and his story closely paralleled the many challenges J has had in her life. Mawi spoke of his family’s struggles assimilating to the United States, including his mother’s struggle to acquire a driver’s license despite her inability to speak English. Despite his father’s near-blindness and the language barrier, Mawi’s family reinforced the power of education to the point that he was able to graduate with top honors from Harvard. Presently, he works with teachers in helping them recognize the “invisible children” that give up on themselves–they type of teenager I’m hoping J doesn’t become.

Read More