Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Going Back to the Basics

When I started this blog in 2010, it was a way for me to get myself back into writing after having my daughter and closing Stories for Children Magazine after a successful run. I did a lot of different type of blog posts and then I got busy with other things and didn't keep up with blogging the way I had when I first started out.

Fast forward to six years later and I'm coming back to the basics of what this blog is about with a few new twists.  Frist, I'm a mom. I love being a mom and I love doing things (even crazy things) with my kids. My two girls are starting to get into YouTube and are making videos, which I produce for them. So you may catch one of their videos on my blog from time to time.

Second, I'm an author. I love to write books for kids and teens. I may one day try my hand at adult novels, but for now, I'm writing what makes me happy. I'm working on a few different stories and it is tough to find the time to write, but I'm making that time. Because writing takes time and a lot of hard work and tears, I plan on sharing those trials right here with all of you through posts like this one or through a Vlog post. (For those wondering what a Vlog post is, it's a YouTube video of me talking instead of writing my thoughts.)

Third, I love to read and I love helping other authors reach their dreams, too. So I will from time to time share a review, interview or post about another author and their book. After all, if it wasn't for all those awesome authors out there, I woudn't be writing myself.

Fourth, I'm a World of Ink Radio Personality. So yeah, I'm gonna share about the shows I'm hosting and other hosts are doing at BTR's World of Ink Network.

Lastly, I love sharing about life and things I love outside of my awesome hubby, kids and writing life. So don't be surprised when I share something totally unrelated to all that. Hey, it's my blog, I can do what I like with it, and hopefully, you'll take something away with you, too.

Until next time!
VS Grenier

My honey bunny, Justin and I enjoying a movie at the park.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

“Intuitive” Reading

Serious readers routinely look up any words they do not know. But there are also “intuitive” readers, who figure out a word just by reading the context in which the word is used and look up its meaning to fully grasp the writer’s meaning. I've heard some call this wishful thinking and the GrammarBook.com recently posted on this exact topic. Here is what they shared.

The three examples below are sentences you might find in print or online. Each contains a possibly unfamiliar word which, if misinterpreted, sabotages the meaning of the sentence.

On a blistering August morning we came upon a 1960 Buick coruscating in the sun.

Understanding coruscating is the key to understanding the sentence. The Intuitive Reader ponders the word, with its echoes of corrosion and rust, and concludes that the car was falling apart. A reader’s first impressions matter, and this reader now is picturing a broken-down old wreck. But coruscating means “sparkling.” In fact, the car in the tale has been lovingly maintained by its owner. The reader now has a distorted view of the author’s main character, and may well go on to misread the intent of the story.

What we heard on the demo sounded like a bashful lad with a limpid voice.

The Intuitive Reader doesn’t have to look up limpid to know that the kid on the demo can forget about a singing career. You can’t make it in the music business with a “limpid” singing voice, for what else could limpid mean but “weak” or “lifeless”? But the reader has it wrong: a limpid voice is pure and crystal clear. The kid’s future looks bright. If he can sing in tune, and his material is strong, he could go places.

The man was in a parlous condition, and a lot of his friends headed for the exit.

Intuitive Readers know what parlez-vous fran├žais means, and they know that parlance is a style or manner of speaking. So to them, this sentence might appear to tell a cautionary tale about a “parlous” fellow who gets a proper comeuppance for hogging the conversation one time too many. But in reality the situation is far darker: parlous means “dire” or “precarious.” This man is in trouble. He deserves our compassion, and his fair-weather friends deserve our scorn.

Thanks to the internet, it has never been easier or less time-consuming to look words up. Those who refuse to do so are in constant danger of missing the point. 

What are you thoughts on looking words up or just using context to figure a word out? Do you think we need to teach this type of reading style to our children so they become better readers? 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why I REALLY Love Writing and Reading Books

As an author, I'm asked a lot in interviews or when I meet someone, "Why did you start writing?" I've given a few different answers to this question over the years. The most common answer really is how I began my writing career, which is this: I used to work full-time in the fashion industry as a buyer. I moved from California to Utah as my husband, and I decided this gave us the opportunity for me to be home with our children, instead of gone, traveling or working long hours in an office while private schools and daycare became our kids lives. However, going from working to not working as a stay-at-home mom just isn't me, and so I took a writing course, loved it and so my writing career began. 

Yes, this is the how I started writing, but what really made me fall in love with writing and for that matter reading books, too, I have to get a little bit more personal for the first time ever.

As a kid, I was never a big reader. Sure I read the books assigned to me in classes over the years by my teachers, but I never had a bookcase in my bedroom loaded with books. I didn't travel to the library every week with my family to check books out either. My parents did read. My dad mostly read his flight manuals as he was an airline pilot and my mom loved romance novels by Daniel Steel and Dana Fuller Ross. At least this is my strongest memory of my parents and the books they read. I do remember my mom, not my dad so much (sorry dad) reading me a few kid's books like "The Monster at the End of the Page" (one of my all time favs), many of the Golden Books and A Little Critter Books, and of course, Dr. Seuss books. 

However, it wasn't until high school and college where I really found my love of books and a certain type of book. Realize I said type of book, not genre. See, I love a few different genres, as most readers do, but there is a running theme in the books that stick out in my mind as my favorites, and this is something I never really gave much thought to until last night when I found myself having a hard time sleeping after something that happened during the earlier part of the day.

See in my first year of high school, my English teacher assigned us to read a book called, "Lord of the Flies." The book blurb is this: Lord of the Flies is a dystopian novel by Nobel Prize-winning English author William Golding about a group of British boys stuck on an uninhabited island who try to govern themselves with disastrous results.

After reading "Lord of the Flies" I was more than happy to see what my teacher would assign next in class for us to read. She had us read, "Great Expectations." The book blurb is this: Great Expectations is Charles Dickens's thirteenth novel. It is his second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. Great Expectations is a bildungsroman, or a coming-of-age novel, and it is a classic work of Victorian literature. It depicts the growth and personal development of an orphan named Pip. The novel contains some of Dickens most memorable scenes, including its opening, in a graveyard, when the young orphan Pip is accosted by the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is a graphic book, full of extreme imagery, poverty, prison ships ("the hulks"), barriers and chains, and fights to the death.

I loved these two books, and I still remember how I felt reading them. I'm sure my teacher assigned others, but these are the two I remember most clearly from that first year of high school and still love to this day. The following year of high school, my English class was assigned to read a few books, but the two that stand out in my mind still today are, "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men," both written by John Steinbeck and amazing books. 

The Grapes of Wrath is set during the Great Depression, the novel focuses on the Joads, a poor family of tenant farmers driven from their Oklahoma home by drought, economic hardship, agricultural industry changes and bank foreclosures forcing tenant farmers out of work. Due to their nearly hopeless situation, and in part because they are trapped in the Dust Bowl, the Joads set out for California. Along with thousands of other "Okies", they seek jobs, land, dignity, and a future. (blurb from Wikipedia)

Of Mice and Men is a controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression. They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

There were many other books throughout high school and college, and later in my 20's I feel in love with the Harry Potter series and a few others since. I can go on and on about the books that have stayed with me for years and are considered my most treasured reads, but if you noticed the type of books I love have themes about diversity, the human spirit and humanity as a whole, along with other things too, of course. Why do I love books that touch on diversity, the human spirit and humanity? I can personally relate to them and each of the books I consider a favorite, rings with truth about some very sensitive subjects we all face every day: Prejudice, Racism and Closed-mindedness.

I say we all face these every day because everyone does at some time and on some level. Yesterday was first-time my 12-year-old was faced with prejudice. Before I share what happened, I first want to share the definition of prejudice is:
preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
As I mentioned before, I moved to Utah from California to have a family and be a stay-at-home mom. But like most families, we like to go on vacation, and of course, visit family back in our home state of California, where we just happen to be vacationing when this happened:
On a trip to the store to buy a few things so my girls could enjoy an afternoon of baking chocolate chip cookies with their Grandma Twinkie, my 12-year-old daughter was faced, along with me, with a group of young adults who have a very negative opinion of Latter-Day Saints or what many know as Mormons. Yep, they saw our Utah license plate (as they were parked next to us) and couldn't keep from making a few very rude comments about Mormons. My daughter first asked how did they know. I first had to explain how many people from other states, including California, assume everyone who lives in Utah is Mormon. Not true by the way and here is a fact: there are less Latter-day Saints in Utah than the State of Nevada the last time I checked. 

She then asked me why would someone hate us because of our religion. Now that was something I thought I would never have to explain to my own kids. Nieve? Yes! Why? Because I hadn't run into this in a very, very, very long time. Actually, I hadn't had anyone give me a hard time for my religion since I was in high school back in the earlier 90's. The thing is, my daughter, not understanding didn't have anything to do with her being born and growing up in Utah. It really didn't have anything to do with me not preparing her for something like this happening one day to her. She didn't understand because most, and I do mean about 50% of her family, isn't Mormon. We have Mormons, Catholics, Church of Christ, and I'm sure many other religions, in our family tree from grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and so on. She also has friends of many faiths back home in Utah, and it has never been an issue before. But, here I am, seeing this look on my daughter's face of complete sadness and hurt. It broke my heart.

Now, I didn't say anything to the young adults, and it would have been pointless anyway. I'm not 100% positive, but most likely from my own experiences they would have been closed-minded to what I would have said anyway or it would have just given them cause to continue to believe in what they did about Utah and Mormons. (Definition of closed-minded: having or showing rigid opinions or a narrow outlook.) Hopefully, one day they will be more open-minded and less prejudiced towards others.

Now, some reading this may think I am being a certain why, but remember, prejudice means having a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. I've experienced this kind of thing more than once in my life. I've even experienced racism throughout my life so I'm not writing this light-heartedly, and I really hate being so open and personal, but I felt the need and drive to be in this post. 

Okay, so I'm sure some are now wondering how could a blonde, white girl, from a middle-class family (most likely) know about racism. Guess what? That was racist. Just because I'm blonde and white doesn't mean I don't understand racism or that someone or a group of people can put me into a stereotype. The definition of racism doesn't say if you are only in a minority class/race this can only happen to you. The actual definition of racism is:
the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. (Keyword: ALL, this means all groups, races, etc. can be racist towards another race, group, etc. no matter if they are the majority or minority.)

I've been stereotyped because of my hair color and skin color for years. What many don't know is this. I didn't always live in the nicest of neighborhoods. At one time in my life, I even lived in low-income housing for some years in Los Angeles County because my mom was single (my parents were divorced) and she was the only one supporting us (myself and her) on a bank teller's wages. One year, she couldn’t afford to buy a Christmas tree or presents. (Sorry dad to paint you in any way. Please know I love you no matter what the past is.) I know what it is like to have people judge me because my skin was different and I didn't fit into the neighborhood I was living in as I was one of the few white girls in my school and apartment complex. I also have seen my friends of color and sexual orientation be treated with cruelty and lack of respect as well by others. I've cried because no one wanted to be my friend because I wasn't like them. I've had kids wanting to beat me up because I was white and not of their race. I've had people hate me because I didn't date white boys, was Mormon or I didn't want to hang with the popular white girls, and so on. But this is what I faced growing up. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me

Fun fact: my family was surprised I even married Justin, a blonde, white guy. Seriously! My son's biological father is mostly Phillipino and Italian, with some other races mixed in. My family (I’m totally guessing so I could be wrong) most likely thought I would marry someone from a different country because I tended to lean that way all my life growing in friends and boyfriends.

The fact is, you don't know me, and I don't know you. By judging you or you judging me by what you see or think you see is just wrong. The experiences I had as a kid, young adult, as a single mother (before my awesome husband) and the one I just had with my daughter yesterday make me who I am. Experiences make us all who we are, to be honest. 

These experiences are also why I love to read the books I do and why I fell in love with writing after I took my writing class back when my daughter was just a small baby in my womb. Reading and writing keeps me from being closed-minded. It keeps me honest, and it keeps me from judging others. Reading and writing helps me to fall in love with the world I live in, it helps me understand others who are different from me and it allows me to see things from a different perspective than my own. It also allows me to challenge my thoughts, views and experiences and gives me a broader range of life. 

This is why literacy is important and why I love doing what I do now. My life is enriched because of the books I read and through the stories and articles I write, which I couldn't do if I didn't surround myself with the world in which we all live in.

So the next time you find yourself thinking or saying something about another, stop and think for just a moment about being in that person's shoes. You may learn something new and different, instead of just being prejudiced, closed-minded and racist.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

WOI Speical - Global Diplomacy Through Student Exchange

Join Virginia S Grenier and World of Ink Network for a special show on Global Diplomacy on June 30, 2016 at 1pm EST - 12 noon CST - 11am MST - 10am PST.

Listen live or on demand at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork/2016/06/30/woi-speical--global-diplomacy-through-student-exchange

Today's Show:
FLAG is a Not-for-Profit Tax Exempt Organization, established in 1989. FLAG is Granted as an Official Sponsor Designated by the United States Department of State since 1990. Accepted for Listing in C.S.I.E.T.'s Advisory List.

FLAG's vision is to promote global understanding and world peace by providing families and youngsters from across the globe with the best intercultural experience friendship can buy.

Our Guests Will Be:
Mazi Cunha, FLAG's founder and a former Brazilian exchange student, he founded FlAG along with his American host mother (since retired). Mazi, along with current Executive Director Marc Moralez, has a dedication and passion for student exchange that is evident in FLAG's ongoing evolution of programs, services and charitable missions.

Molly Wieber, National Director of Outreach & Placement, FLAGship and Sponsored Programs will also be joining the show.

You can learn more about FLAG at their website https://flag-intl.org/

Follow the World of Ink Network at http://worldofinknetwork.com, or on our blog http://worldofinknetwork.blogspot.com, and you can find us on Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter.

As always you can listen to any of our shows live or on demand, at any time you'd like here on Blog Talk Radio, Facebook or iTunes. If you would like to chat with the host or our guests today, you can call in, the phone number is (714) 242-5259 or post your questions and comments in our live chatroom or on Facebook or Twitter using #WorldofInk.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Weekly Writing Prompts

I know I haven't been the best lately with sharing about my writing course with James Patterson and also my reading challenge for 2016. Life just seemed to get in the way, and I found myself off track and not writing like I've wanted to. So here I am trying to get myself back on a schedule of some kind and making time to write not only on my blog but also my books.

I am happy to say that I have completed one of my novel outlines. I'm in the final stages and ready to begin the writing process. I'm really happy with how the outline turned out and I feel it was a great way to begin as there were things I didn't even think about putting in the book and things I just didn't see or notice until I went back through the outline and saw how they did or didn't work.
Outlining is key I think for any writer and something all traditional publishers and agents ask to see before taking on a new author or when working with a new author after signing them.
Hopefully, the manuscript will turn out better than the outline, and the book will get published. One can only hope.

Okay, something I'm going to start doing is posting weekly writing prompts to help those who are struggling with writing. I use these myself, so I hope they help you as they have helped me.

Here are 5 prompts to try out this week. They're from Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ' book, WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss!, which contains over 365 writing activities, prompts and ideas to fill up your journal.

1. List at least 5 situations you hope you never have to find yourself in. Then write the courses of action you would take if you do find yourself in those situations. (Week 14 - Indecision)

2. What are some of the things you expect from yourself? List ten to fifteen of these expectations, pick one and then write about it for ten minutes. (Week 40 - Expectations)

3. Build a story from this weird or absurd news: "In an attempt to get a date, a man in Turin, Italy arranges at least 500 bump-and-stop car accidents with young female drivers." (Week 22 - Absurdities)

4. Create a superstitious society. Invent omens and superstitions and make these the driving forces behind the actions of the people in your society. (Week 38 - Warnings)

5. Someone you have never gotten along with for years suddenly steps up and says hello to you while you are walking in the park, shopping or having coffee. She strikes up a conversation as if the two of you are the best of friends. How would you react? (Week 15 - Reactions)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Guest Post: Listen to Begin Writing

Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write, said, "Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. When people really listen to each other in a quiet, fascinated attention, the creative fountain inside each of us begins to spring and cast up new thoughts and unexpected wisdom."

The most meaningful works -- books, paintings, sculptures, songs, crafts, a garden, anything -- are created by those who have learned the art of listening: listening to their hearts and to the hearts of others.

It is when we listen that the most extraordinary seeds grow and become tangible. They become a motivating book, an awe-inspiring painting, a formidable sculpture, a most melodious song, a bouquet of breathtaking blooms.

It is when we listen that we create tangible expressions of our compassion, understanding, love. It is when we listen that stories, poems or books begin percolating inside us.

And it is when we listen that the unexpected wisdom and insights joyously leap in front of us, giving meaning in all that we do, spotlighting on what we do and can do for others.

Below are 5 sparks inviting you to *listen* closely within yourself:

1. Think of a song that holds great meaning to you. Who or what makes that song meaningful?

2. Describe the sound that dominates your surrounding at the moment.

3. Recall one of your conversations with a close friend and write about one of the things he/she said that made you sit up, take notice and become enlightened.

4. When was the last time you listened to someone with your heart?

5. Who is that person you can always rely on to listen to you? Write about how important it is that you have him/her ready to listen to you at all times.

Copyright 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ

Shery created WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite for fr*e - http://writesparks.com