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Monday, December 18, 2017

Crawl. Stand. Walk. Run.

Many of my clients must have been told by previous writing teachers that their characters were flat.

I say they must have, because what I read, especially from my young writers, is adult characters who absolutely can't make up their minds.

And I know the students want to push back when I tell them to make decisions about their characters.

Because they're characters.

Totally made up.

Their motivations don't matter.

Like when an adult tells a child to clean a room. What is the point other than exerting authority?

From the young person's perspective, I get it. Honestly.

Writers are creating characters. Writers have the challenge of creating arbitrary characters to move their plots forward. Those plots, and the characters that drive those plots, are as varied as infinite numbers. But those reasons must exist in relation to the plot of the story.

And (MOST) writers must learn to create and develop characters the same way they learned to run.

Readers may not want flat characters, but writers need to create simple characters consistently before they can build complex characters that still make sense to readers. And if readers are reading the work of new writers, I hope they will understand and encourage writers at each step of the way. This includes encouraging young people to read LOTS, reading young writers' work and providing constructive criticism (emphasis on the constructive, not so much the criticism). And if those things aren't in a reader's wheelhouse, help connect the young writer with someone who will read their work and help them be better. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Illustrator Shout Out: Krissy Whiski

The FABULOUS surreal Bohemian artist Krissy Whiski is going to collaborate with me on a children's book I wrote the text for in October. I will share that story with you later. But today, I want to plug the artist who is bound and determine to make me cry, balter, and laugh all at the same time.

So this is some of my favorite Whiski art, and I hope you will love it, share it, and support her. Buy some art she's already created so she has room for more art and money for more canvas and paint!!

This one is StarChild. The version I prefer has puzzle pieces painted into the corner, which reminds me of Josephine Wall. I told Krissy I want this print as a puzzle. 

This is Sherbert Unicorn. I love how the ice cream cone makes the horn. It's so effortless.

 I love the ice cream cone babies. I have the limited edition stickers on my fridge (and you don't). But you can get the chocolate ice cream baby on a Tshirt. I love baby TRex, and will probably buy it when it is wearable. Krissy understands inclusivity, and carries sizes up to 3XL!

And I know a lot of people love David Bowie, but the way Krissy captures him is just fantastic.
To my knowledge, these aren't for sale yet, but they will be. 

Whisky also made a special commission "Angry Birds" for me. If I haven't already shared it, I will in another post. You can't buy it -- it belongs to me!  So no use making you all jealous.

OK. That's it!!  That's my plug!!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hello Turkey Trot Participants!!!

If you participated in the annual Turkey Trot, then you are so much braver, more resilient, more energetic (etc) than me. 

I saw you on Facebook and your energy wore me out. 

But I am so proud of you for doing something that you enjoyed.

Event organizers said there would be 5,000 of you out there on Thanksgiving day. I said "NAH."

I was wrong. I really think there were 5,000 of you out there!!

In 1,000 of the participant treat bags, there was information about my classes and workshops on a small full color flyer (1/3 a full size sheet of printer paper). 

Which means 4,000 of you did not get that flyer. 

And, as sometimes happens, some information on that flyer is missing or out of date. In our digital age, some things DO change fast!!

So let me just say -- YES!!  I help young people (and age is relative) to write their own books, publish them, and even sell them on Amazon.

What I do is more about teaching students to finish what they start, to see things through, to create goals and achieve them, and to have something to show for all that hard work. I am not the judge or gatekeeper of creative vision (there are a few things that fall under the "bullying/abuse" category that I won't help get published. If at all possible, I will steer authors in a better creative direction).  Instead, I remove the magic curtain and show how it gets done.

Also you may have heard that I sometimes use writing classes to teach and promote literacy. All true!!  Students know the story they want to tell, and recognize their own words and speech patterns in print. This allows them to pick up reading skills faster than reading something that doesn't interest them. So don't think that struggles with reading would prevent your child from being successful. I'm not about selling your young person short!

One of the ways I keep my classes affordable is by borrowing space whenever possible. So I like to cluster a group of students around a specific day and time, and then find a venue that will accommodate us. So maybe you're in Lancaster or Hanover and want a class there instead of York? Or you have a group of Girl Scouts that meets on Wednesday nights? Let me know and I will do my best to accommodate you!

I prefer to teach each class one day a week for four to six weeks rather than cram years of effort and research into a single class or a single week. Think about it -- would you expect your child to master a piano concerto or a roundoff back handspring in a day? But writers are often at different stages. Some know how to craft a story and are only interested in technical stuff. Others only write for themselves and have no interest in sharing their work with the world. So I offer both experiences whenever possible.

Whether or not one of my flyers was in your bag, stay up-to-date on the latest class information by LIKING the Creative Writing and Publishing Workshop Page on Facebook. To find out about specific classes, send me a Private Message or email me. You can even PM/email your name and number and I will call you on the phone to talk about what you want or need and how I can help. If cost is a problem, let me know that, too. I have a few very generous anonymous donors who will sponsor a young person's creative outlet. 

If you are interested in sponsoring a student now or in the future, please reach out to me as well. Authors who came to my public school when I was a child inspired me to write and inspire others. I want that legacy to carry on!!

Schedule your child for a month of creative writing (8 hours, 4 sessions, 2 hours per session)!  

Or take it one class at a time. 90 minute classes are $20 each, and include all supplies.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

True Economic Reform Comes From ... Wait for it...

Political Post -- sort of.

I saw the GOP tax plan. I've been seeing it. It's terrible for the economy. Vote them out. Flip the House (and Senate). Past damn time!!
In the meantime, we need to gather enough people of means who haven't lost compassion and good common sense to pay fair wages to all in their employ and to pressure those around them to do the same.
If every person making it big in the entertainment industry insisted on paying top dollar for every stitch of clothing they wore, every hotel they stayed at, every meal they ate, every bodyguard that protected them, every engineer that gave them great light and sound (etc), how many more people could afford $200 show tickets on a monthly basis?
When we put pressure on WalMart (and I know the work there is not done), Target and other retailers followed suit (or pointed out that they were ahead of the game) in employee treatment. The more we can extend this conversation to anyone getting rich on the backs of others, the less we have to worry about poor people being further crippled by those in power, the more leverage people down the ladder have to walk out on unfair working conditions, and overall the better for our economy.

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Monday, October 23, 2017

NANO is coming!! NANO is coming!!

I am amazed each year by the number of would- be and up-and-coming writers who still don't know about NANO (NaNoWriMo) or National Novel Writing Month.  With all the writers of certain experience either moaning its approach or being excited, how can anyone else miss it? It's something like all writerly posts were replaced with cat pictures on some people's social media accounts. Or some people just live under a rock.

But who am I to judge?

My challenge for you writers this week is to shoot a short video of yourselves (FB live or YouTube upload or FB upload). Promote yourself and your books, and tell your fans and fellow writers whether you are participating in NANO, participating as a REBEL, or NOT participating. And I'd love it if you said why, but I suppose I'll understand if you don't share your reason.

I've done two videos so far, but my laptop ate them. So I'll go FB LIVE later to complete my own challenge. (I'm a REBEL ALL THE WAY, my friends!!)

So whether you're writing or procrastinating, thanks for reading, and have a great end to October. Enjoy Halloween, if you do, and we'll talk again soon!

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Reading Out Loud

I am an emcee for one open mic and a "regular" for another open mic, both in York.

I enjoy seeing the talents of many different individuals.

I also know that some of my prose readers get nervous joining the poets, magicians, comedians, and musicians on the stage.

But there is an audience for you, my prose readers.

And reading out loud as a prose author is so very important to author promotion. Even if you don't have a book for sale now, if you are looking at public sharing of your work, you are self-promoting. So here are some pointers to putting best pieces (and self) forward.

#know your time limit.
Do speakers get 2 minutes? 7? 20? Be familiar with the material you intend to share. You don't have to have it memorized, but have the sections selected in advance.

#you don't have to start at page one.
And it's better if you don't. Unless you are going to read the entire book, pick 2-3 compelling sections (depending on time limit) and practice them until you can look up from the page.

#look up
Do not hide behind your prose. Know your piece well enough that you can look up and connect with the listener. People WILL put their phones down and listen to you if you make and keep eye contact with them. The payoff is worth it.

#showcase dialogue
Of course I am going to say this. I prefer dialogue to monologue to descriptions of settings. But the only monologuing that I find people listening to is comedic. If your prose is not comedic, go for the drama.

#be selective
Some things read well and some things are spoken well. While some people could read us the phone book, other people are better off with more dynamic material. When giving a reading, you don't have to read every dialogue tag (especially if you differentiate voices and use dynamics). You don't have to say anything that you can reflect in your tone. While there is a difference between reading a story and telling a story, people would rather be told a story than read to.

#your best is not for everyone
And your best today may not be your best tomorrow. Keep getting out there, keep practicing out loud and keep writing. Sometimes the words you intend to share will miss their mark. But if you quit there, you won't find the words that you need to satisfy your desire to have written in the first place.

There is an exception to every rule, even (if not especially) when I am giving advice.

Join me at the next Open Mic:
  • November 9, 7-9 p.m. – GUSA by Victoria at 252 W Philadelphia St, York, PA (2nd Thursday each month), for walk-in spoken word and music performances
  • November (Saturday TBA), 12-4 p.m. – Rustic Cup Coffee Shop at 50 W. Maple Street, East Prospect, PA, for walk-in comedy, music, spoken word and magic performances, and more
I, Phyl Campbell, am a creative writing instructor and author in my own write (I mean right!) I am  creator and coordinator of the Make-a-Book classes for young authors held at GUSA by Victoria and Rustic Cup. Author of books such as A Muse Meant and I’m Not Writing a Book Today, available on and at i-ron-ic coffee shop (upstairs) in York City, or on Facebook to learn more about my writing – and how you can create a children’s book or chapter book yourself!
you can find me at

Friday, September 29, 2017

Writing, Publishing, Marketing -- Oh My!

How do I get started writing?

You can read this book on my website -- navigate to Phyl's Books/Children's Books/Weird Pie.

I get this question (about getting started) at least once a week, so I decided to make a blog post I can refer people to. Then, if I get ambitious, I might create new blogs that talk about the next steps based on answers to these questions and link them here. Comment on my FB page if there's a specific answer you'd like me to create for you!

Round one:
What are you going to write? Fiction? How To? Memoir? Poetry?

Round two: Do you keep a journal or have you created blog posts on this topic? Are you someone that writes an outline first, or do you write things as you think about them? What's the longest thing you have ever written before? What is your motivation for writing a book (money, sharing history/something to pass down, book is a bucket list thing, urge to write, sheer boredom, example for kids)? Will your family be supportive of your writing? Will you be able to write without their support? Are you a goal-setter? Do you have a time-frame for writing a book? If you're planning to make $1M selling your first book, know that you CAN, but few do this without a major investment of TIME and MONEY -- one professional did an informal study that showed that people making a thousand dollars or more a month in book sales invested $1500.00 per title in marketing, freebies, and other promotions in the book's first three months. And most of them spent six months before that setting up other marketing events and plans before the book was available. (I linked to her Amazon page. When she posted about her study, it was part of a FB group that is no more. But you should be able to learn more from her via her books or blog.) I am not looking to discourage anyone. But like running a marathon, joining a gym, going back to college -- knowing why you are going to do something plays a big part in how to make yourself successful at it.

Round three: Around what central idea are you going to organize the book? Do you have one, two, or three books (or more) in the works? (If you think you have more than one, write or heavily prepare three before launching the first one)
What are your credentials (for non-fiction book)? Who makes up your SUPER-SPECIFIC audience?

Answering these questions should make you excited to write and get your book out there. If this questionnaire makes you more anxious than excited, stick to blogging or writing in your journal for now. You're free to change your mind later, but having material to draw from is always better than thinking about filling 200 blank pages! Ultimately, know that you are perfectly valid in whatever decision you make!!

Happy Writing!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Don’t Eat Ice Packs (and ten other things Darwin doesn’t want me to tell you)

I often smile when I read warning labels. I can't help it. Perhaps I am perverse. I’m really not sure. But in light of some recent events, there are people who could use a smile, and I am nothing if not accommodating. So here is my list of eleven (number 2 counts as two) warnings that Darwin doesn’t want me to tell you. In the comments, feel free to add additional warnings.  And be safe out there!!

  1. Don’t eat ice packs.

  2. Don’t put sunscreen in your eyes to look at the sun. And don’t  look at the sun.

  3. Don’t blow dry your hair during your bath or shower. It really won’t save you time.

  4. Don’t eat toothpaste. Yes, toothpaste and space food both come in tubes. I’m fairly certain the similarities end there.

  5. Don’t eat cleaning products, full stop.

  6. Don’t run with scissors or sharp objects.

  7. Don’t leave an open flame unattended.

  8. Don’t drink hot coffee or sip hot soup until it has cooled enough not to burn your mouth.

  9. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet (or anywhere).

10. For the love of all things Darwin, don’t share this post with someone who actually needs this advice! 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Action is not the same thing as Plot

As someone who teaches writing, I see a lot of things. One recently is that the young people I work with try to add things that happen without those things adding to the plot. The result of this is somewhat comedic -- how much STUFF can a character go through in a day?

Plot should be action. You probably don't want characters who just sit around talking. You want them to get up and kick ass -- at least every once in a while. But that action needs a focus point. While there are things (like weather-related disasters) that happen for no good reason, the plot should center around the question: "What does this character WANT?" and then describe the path and the obstacles to get that character to that place -- or help the character deal with NOT reaching that goal.

Authors CAN beat the crap out of their characters. Life does this, too. Some of the most dramatic stories involve wondering how much more a person can take. But the story is not the events. The story is how the person dealt with the challenges.

A character's drive doesn't have to be flashy, either. Fault in Our Stars and Perks of Being a Wallflower were both incredibly well conceived stories about people not looking to be much more than ordinary. A character does not have to be a superhero to be a hero.

Elementary school students have led me on perfectly ordinary adventures about nighttime rituals involving getting that last drink of water before bed. Middle school students have led me on bizarre quests in search of the perfect golden Ticonderoga. School and home plots have plenty tension and drive without murder and mayhem of the macabre caliber.

So plot with purpose (I'm certain someone has trademarked that, I mean no infringement). Focus on what drives your character to get up in the morning and stumble through the day. Or why your character is so overwhelmed that the bed is a sanctuary. You can do a lot with plot, and actions do drive that plot home. But actions for the sake of filling pages will cause your reader to be confused, put down YOUR book, and reach for something else.

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Find Your Voice to Fight Discrimination

Last month, two of my young friends were stopped and searched for "shopping while black." And that's not OK. Even worse, the store employee knew my friends' mother, who is a rising star in our community. So how many other people, especially young people, have been trying to enjoy their summers only to be accosted in this way? Maybe not by this employee. Maybe not at this store. But in esteem-damaging, unjust, and just awful ways, all the same.

As a parent, as a teacher, as an adult, as a white person -- I want to fix things. And that isn't always practical. I can't always be where my young friends are. And sometimes adults try to fix things for young people when they should (we should) be helping young people fix problems for themselves. Even if it isn't the way we (adults) would do it.

As a writing coach for young people, I (like to think I) understand that better than most. And after talking to my friends' mom, realized how I thought I could help.

Find Your Voice (to fight discrimination) is a twice-monthly workshop where young people age 12-20 can gather in a safe space and talk and write about their feelings and reactions to discrimination they have experienced. Racial discrimination sparked this, but all forms of discrimination may be addressed by young people who need a safe space to do so. I can never know what it means to be black or brown, but I still experience discrimination as a woman and as a fat person. We have an administration that has come out strongly against anyone with a minority label - color, nationality, gender, orientation. It isn't right, and we need to resist it. I also remember being watched more carefully as a teen -- people didn't trust me because I wasn't an adult. It wasn't right, and it wasn't fair. Now I can help others work to change it.

I'm going to sponsor the group and help in any way I can, but students are going to be in charge and tell me what they need instead of the other way around. If they want to learn how to write OpEds for the paper, I will help them from the writing to figuring out how to submit to an editor. If they want to be on TV or the radio, I will help them navigate that process. If they want to start a literary magazine at their school, I will help them do that. And if all they want is a safe space to talk and write, I will respect that, too.

Find Your Voice will be held the FIRST and FOURTH Thursdays of the month at GUSA by Victoria in downtown York, WECO district (252 W Philadelphia Street), starting August 24th. In addition, FYV members (as well as the general public) are invited to open mic 2nd Thursdays, also at GUSA, emceed by yours truly!

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers, and a number of other books in various genres (available on Amazon). Books she has published for young authors can be found on her website. They are also available on Amazon under their own authors and titles. Campbell lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Publishing Pathways

In a FB group where I am a member, lots of questions get asked about whether to self-publish, spend time on an agent, obtain an MFA, or what is the best Return on Investment for a writer with stories to share.

I speak a lot about the importance of privilege and various meanings of success in any career or lifestyle. And when I wrote a reply to one person in particular, I knew I had a blog post I wanted to share with MY audience.

So here it goes:

Privilege is definitely an issue, and a lot depends on how much you can bring to the table. If you can get the funding for an MFA -- and there are some scholarships and awards for older women, POC, single-parent (if that applies to your situation). I don't know if enough of them can be stacked to get your MFA for free or at an affordable rate, but an MFA might be cheaper than the full price of a number of writer conferences. And if you approach the MFA like an extended conference -- getting the work done, but really using the time back in school to network, network, network -- you might be able to create the platform(s) and do the other things that will help you publish successfully, whether through the University Press, with an agent-in-training, or some other connection any professor you have might be willing to help you establish.

These are the reasons to do the MFA. I still haven't done it. I went the self-pub on a SHOESTRING route.

Unlike other self pubs who pay (who afford) editors, publicists, cover artists, formatters, and Lightning Source ISBNs, I belong to a few writing groups and have some BETA readers. I use free ISBNs and modify Create Space templates. I don't market the way I should or the way I hope I would if my bills depended on it. I'm a teacher by trade and used my published works as a portfolio to show I know what I'm doing and can teach others through camps and workshops. Nearly all my students outsell me.

Other writers self-pub and make more money. Many spend more money to publish. If they have the money to spend, and they are happy with the result, more power to them.

If you are able to market your own books, if you have friends and family who sell 31 and jamberry nails and all those other products, then you might find it in your best interest to publish for yourself, market yourself, or partner with someone who sells their widgets well.

In this business, like any other, it takes money to make money, so to make money, you will have to be making an investment of some kind beyond writing the manuscript. Then you have to decide what your budget (time, effort, money) is and what you can afford, what ROI you want and the path you are going to take to get there.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can hope that you find all the success you seek. What does success mean to you? What advice would you give someone in your field?

Phyl Campbell is the author of I'm Not Writing a Book Today, the so-called procrastination guide for writers and other dreamers. Her books are available on Amazon. She lives and teaches in York County, PA.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

NYC, NY and Lessons on Life

Sunday my family and I went to NYC, NY to meet some friends.

Like a lot of best made plans, the HOPE was that we would meet them, and for more than five minutes between subways. Unlike many of those plans, we actually DID manage to meet and even share a meal together.

Before we met our friends, my family toured NYC via ferry. If you want to see a lot of the city while ignoring people, do it by boat. I liked our tour guide, but wished I could have turned down his volume. And I definitely felt like the video and the audio did not match, because I could never see the things he was pointing out to us (except for the bridges).

The big deal for me on this ferry tour was seeing the Brooklyn Bridge, which for nearly twenty years had been my symbol of all things big city and fashion over function. Things I was over. Things I was not. And even though I saw it from behind the windows of a ferry, and maybe it would have felt different if I had been walking across it, I don't know, but it was right there and I still wasn't impressed.

The piece I wrote about it as an undergrad,  Lecture Notes: the Brooklyn Bridge is not something I have published or that has been widely read, even among my peers and BETA readers. Despite that, it is the essay that has meant the most to me, defined me, and been my mission statement (of sorts) over all this time. A little over a year ago, when my husband's job opportunities might have landed him in the five boroughs instead of Athens, Georgia, I had a massive panic attack. In Pennsylvania, three short hours from NYC, I have not recovered. There are too many things from Lecture Notes that I don't feel I have lived up to. And I hate disappointing anyone.

So I was having this experience that was not easy for me to explain or understand. The lack of awe-struck experience with an old bridge was almost as breath-stealing as a profound experience might have been. I can't help but think of the bridge architect as someone who built a casino for you-know-who and thought he was going to get paid without being screwed. He knew better. I might have warned him, had I known him. But he thought his outcome would be different.

What would move me, on the other hand, would be stories of all the workers who died because their literal choices were between working to death or starving to death. Still I wonder why they collectively could not have picked up the blasted architect and tossed him over his damn bridge. People would get to that point. Labor unions and better working conditions and women's suffrage -- all hard fought battles people lived and died to obtain. And I sit in the AC -- breathless, helpless -- thinking about how far we have and have not been able to come.

I had always believed that a college degree would assure my comfortable life. I don't know why. My parents both had college degrees and were both overworked, underpaid individuals. Their lack of financial success in no small way provided the complete funding of my undergraduate degree. So to look from my parent's experience to that of my college professors who gave the class from which Lecture Notes was born, I just figured it had to be something my parents did wrong. How could a student who wasn't even 20 recognize the boatloads of privilege that separated her professors from her parents? I would learn a lot that year about privilege. Nothing compared to what I know now, which will be nothing compared to what I will know in the next five, ten, or twenty years down the road.

Since I left Arkansas, I have really been thinking about privilege. How one side has used it. How one side can't group together to overcome it. How easy it is to get stuck in one place, unsure whether that place is a safe landing or merely a ledge gripped with sweaty fingers.

New York has many things going for it. Tons of tourism opportunities. Lots of museums. Plenty of offices and skyscrapers. But for my money, I want to do one of two things upon my return. One, I have more friends in Brooklyn and Queens. They know the lay of the land and I would learn a lot from them about their experiences as city dwellers. Two, I would just hop from taxi to taxi, going wherever the drivers took me, learning their histories and making sure they got their daily quota of fares.

Where have your travels taken you? Or where has lack of privilege prevented you from visiting?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Writing and Publishing Class for Kids at Creative York

This summer, I am offering two weeks of my 

writing and publishing workshop at Creative York.

Students will create their own stories with an experienced teacher and published author as their editor, coach, and guide. Then, students will learn how to format their creative writing into books they can publish with all the technical details and awesome covers. Each student may have their final story published and even made available on Amazon. Students may bring stories they have written or that are in progress. All writing materials and iPads provided.

Instructor: Phyl Campbell
Location: Creative York, 10 N Beaver St, York

June 19-23 • 1-4pm • $90 • Ages 8-14
July 24-28 • 1-4pm • $90 • Ages 8-14

Follow the sign up links here: June 19-23 or July 24-28

I am also offering a culture and crafting camp each week with Victoria Kageni-Woodard of GUSA by Victoria.
For more information on the

Mwembeni-Safari Cultural Camp

 experience, view MORE or call 717-324-3725

Friday, May 12, 2017

Obligatory Mother's Day Post

Planning to perform this piece tomorrow night at GUSA by Victoria, along with a Mother's Day excerpt from #25Reasons.

Chicken Soup for the Transcendentalist Soul

My mom said
"Eat your vegetables -- And
"Get a good night's sleep.
"Don't forget to say your prayers
"Close your eyes, count some sheep," But

Momma never told me -- How
To achieve perfection -- And
Now I guess I understand -- That
It was something she didn't know.

So I -- Ate my vegetables. And
Said my good night prayers. But
Lay awake in my bed
Too concerned with all my cares. Like

What would I be when I grow up
And who would I marry
Would my kids eat their vegetables
Believe the things that I believe in?

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I was fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep

My mom said
"Do your homework now. And
"That's enough TV
"Are you ready for the science fair?
"Did you study for the Spelling Bee?"

And it got so aggravating
Seemed like she was so caught up
There's so much more to life at school
Than Science Fairs and empty cups.

But I turned off the television
Cracked a book
(or sometimes three). And tried my best to do my best
I wanted her to be proud of me.

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I'd been fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep.

My mom said
"Don't you fall too hard. When
"That first boy looks at you
"You must be kind to everyone. But
"Don't let them walk all over you."

Then came the most disgusting part. She
Wanted to kiss me goodbye. At school
In front of all my friends
I couldn't Hide. Or disappear. Or di

So I let her kiss me then. And
She waved as she drove away.
I'm glad I know she cares for me
Even though I'll never say it (oops!).

What would I be when I grow up
And who would I marry
Would I embarrass my own kids
The way that mom embarrassed me?

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I was fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep.

And now that I'm a mom myself. I'm
Glad she doesn't laugh at me
'Cuz my kid won't eat vegetables. And
Dodges responsibilities.

My soul
Could use some chicken soup. And
My son's hug could fill a bowl. Though
I would like to keep him small
Growing up is his main goal.

What will he be when he grows up
Will he ever marry
And if he questions all I say
Will I be wise enough to hear him?

Woke up next morning
Never knowing I'd been fast asleep
But knowing God was there for me
Prayed the Lord my soul to keep.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Just Sew Stories with GUSA by Victoria

I am putting together a short story collection for an African fashion designer for a series of sewing and crafting camps this summer. Victoria has been in business in York for about a year, and this camp is a brand new thing we are trying. In addition to her marvelous fashions, her shop includes art from local artists. She has also been teaching Swahili and sewing classes, which I think is awesome! I think we are going to have tons of fun this summer.

If you are in York, certainly pay her a visit at GUSA by Victoria.

Anyway, in keeping with her theme of African design for these summer camp experiences, I am writing a book of short stories where sewing or crafting is relevant to the story in some way. I know I am rewriting a Kenyan Cinderella story (no prince, no glass slipper, but a talking flamingo) and a Kenyan version of the Miller's Daughter/Rumpelstiltskin (no baby, no talking animals, but a smart young woman having to find a way out of a bad situation with a tricky suitor).

I also wanted to include some modern stories, and I definitely wanted a few stories were boys were sewing, too. I hope you'll enjoy this first one I want to share with you.

Boys Sew, Too

“Drat! The button came off my sweater and I can’t get this thread through my needle!” Evie complained to her friend Nairobi. Classes had been dismissed early, so students were on the playgorund outside the building. Parents would be arriving soon, but not immediately.
“Can I help?” Evan, a boy from their class, asked.
“You?” Evie scoffed. “Boys can’t sew!”
She and Nairobi laughed at the idea.
“We do, too!” Evan insisted. “When I was very young, I watched my grandfather repair fishing nets. Later, he showed me how. Then, my mother said if I fix any holes I rip in my clothes while playing, I won’t get in trouble for them. So I’m pretty good now.” Evan puffed out his chest with pride, and twisted his leg to show some stitches that were not created by the original designer. “See? Lots of practice.”

Image Created by Phyl Campbell using StoryBoard That!

Evie looked at Evan. Then she looked at Nairobi. Both girls shrugged their shoulders. It was worth a try.
“All right. I guess I trust you.” Evie said finally.
“Gee. Thanks. Thanks a lot.” Evan said with a frown.
“Besides,” Evie added, “buttons are easy. I just can’t get my thread through the eye of my needle, and I left my threader at home.”
“Why don’t you just wait until you get home?” Nairobi wanted to know.
“I don’t get home until late tonight. I have a music lesson, and then soccer practice,” Evie replied.
Evan cleared his throat. “Are you going to let me help? Can I see your needle?”
“I don’t know. CAN you?” Nairobi teased.
“Do you want my help or not?” Evan held out his hand impatiently.
Evie handed him the needle. “You MAY have it,” she said.
Evan held the needle with one hand. The eye of the needle was small, but his plan would still work. He slid his backpack off his shoulder and with his free hand fished out a notebook. He tore a small corner of a piece of paper out of the notebook. He folded the small piece in half and held it to the eye of the needle. Unsatisfied, he tore the piece even smaller, folded it in half again, and held it to the eye of the needle once more.
Evie and Nairobi watched, fascinated.
“What are you doing?” Nairobi asked.
“You’ll see. Evie, hand me the thread, please.”
Evie handed Evan the thread. Evan placed the edge of the thread inside the fold of the small piece of paper. Then, he pushed the paper with the thread inside through the eye of the needle.
When he finished, he pulled the paper off the thread and stuffed it in his pocket. The needle was threaded.

Image Created by Phyl Campbell using MS Paint.

“Whoah! That was cool!” Nairobi said.
Evan grinned. “I know.” He handed the threaded needle back to Evie. “You CAN have that back now,” he teased. He put his notebook back in his backpack and started to walk away.
“Wait, Evan.”
“Yeah?” Evan turned back toward the girls.
“That was really cool, Evan,” Evie said. “Thanks for showing us that trick.” She set to work re-attaching the button to her sweater.
“You’re welcome. Glad I could help.” Evan said.
“All done!” Evie said. She snipped the last thread and put her tiny sewing kit away.
“Great! Now you can help me with something,” Evan said.
“Sure. What is it?”
“See, well, I was playing tag over there and I was IT.” He reached over and tagged Evie. “But now you are!”
“Hey! Wait a minute! Evan!”
“No tagbacks!”
Evie quickly reached over and tagged Nairobi. “No tagbacks.”
Both girls got up to join their friends in the game.

I'd love to hear your comments!