Time for Self-Care

The Anita Factor has been meeting for about five years now. And a cohesive family of friends we have become. Connections extend far beyond our circle of chairs at McNally Robinson booksellers, where we meet. We not only discuss writing, but often know what’s happening in each other’s personal lives as well. We are all a support system for each other in all ways. I don’t know what I would do without the connections of my fine Anitas, and Larry – our Anito! 🙂

Spinning Inward cover

At our last meeting, I was really struggling with finding something original to bring to the group for our teachable. And I personally, am having a fairly rough start to 2016, so was also having a bit of trouble getting my head in the right place to share any articles of sound writerly advice.

I considered what  to do and realized I need to breathe. And then it struck me. At this meeting I wasn’t going to focus on writing. I would focus on self-care and we’d take some time to breathe.

I have a wonderful book of meditations that are written for children to adults — Spinning Inward by Maureen Murdock.

Everyone enjoyed the first one, “Waterfall of White Light,” so much that we actually did a second. I have used these meditations with children and adults alike. They are beautiful and I highly recommend checking out this book if you are in need of some self-care time. Get your circle of friends together and take turns reading to each other in an inspiring quiet space.

Suzanne’s first novel, Empty Cup, is an edgy contemporary young adult story about a seventeen year old girl who lives through life’s ultimate betrayal. Suzanne lives in Winnipeg, MB.

Seasons Greetings!

Christmas cheers

Suzanne’s first novel, Empty Cup, is an edgy contemporary young adult story about a seventeen year old girl who lives through life’s ultimate betrayal. Suzanne lives in Winnipeg, MB.

Writing in an Authentic Voice

During a session at a recent conference, I was asked how I write authentically from the point of view of a teenager? My novel, Empty Cup, is told in EC cover onlinefirst person from the point of view of a seventeen-year-old girl.

“I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday,” I responded, and then expanded by mentioning that I easily tap into the emotions of that time in my life. When writing Raven’s story, the main character from Empty Cup, I had to really think about how a teenager makes decisions, remember that her life experiences aren’t as vast as those of an adult, and although the story is not autobiographical, I had to relate to feelings of fear and unknowing, remember the exhilaration and terror of taking a risk, feelings of anger, betrayal, and broken trust had to come to the forefront in order to relate to Raven’s experiences to assure authenticity.

In the July 2015 issue of The Writer magazine, a reprinted an article from the July 1987 issue called Lowry’s guide to memory, Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, writes, “For me it is all there, and I can call it back. If that were not so, I could not write for children.”

At our recent meeting, I asked my fellow Anitas if they too could recall their childhood and teen years. A unanimous yes, but with exception. The conversation turned to writing from the point of view of the opposite sex. My current work in progress is from the view point of a sixteen year old boy. So how do I write accurately in that situation?

Great question!

face-73401_640I think emotions are emotions. Boys and girls both have similar emotions during similar situations, be it fear, humour, sadness. The differences are how they respond to those emotions. While I write my new story, I often think about how my seventeen-year-old son would respond. I’ve also based my character’s best friend off of a character from a TV show, he was a class clown type of personality, so I ask myself how he would respond. Sometimes I think of what the boys in my school did in response to different situations.

The other Anitas agreed and commented that having access to children of various ages is certainly helpful. And not just a little bit of contact, really getting in and around them, listening to how they talk, what they talk about… obviously do not stalk them! 🙂 I’m suggesting that if don’t have access to children in the age range that you’re writing about, then perhaps you have friends or family with children and you could arrange to spend some time with them.

Submersing yourself in your own memories of childhood is imperative for authenticity, but keeping in contact with kids of today will help to keep you current.

How do you keep your voice accurate for your characters?

Suzanne’s first novel, Empty Cup, is an edgy contemporary young adult story about a seventeen year old girl who lives through life’s ultimate betrayal. Suzanne lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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