Happy Easter! I have been thinking today of gardens. The Garden of Eden where it all began. The Garden of Gethsemane, and this morning, the Garden Tomb.
This song is from one of my favorite musicals, The Secret Garden. It's not about Easter, nor is it even religious--but it works very well and has some lovely meaning if one wants to think about in the context of such things. Anyway, it's a showtune by one of my favorite groups. So I can't resist.
Got a very nice package of wonderful swag from the 6th graders at Art City Elementary! Thanks, guys!
I always feel rather contemplative and sober on Good Friday. A song for the occasion:
My friend, Carole Thayne Warburton, has published another book! Carole is a talented writer, and I'm happy to be part of her blog tour. I've always enjoyed Carole's books in the past. I've been too busy to read lately, so I haven't been able to open this yet, but I'm looking forward to it. To celebrate the release, she's having a contest--see below for details. Carole is also a talented potter and does lovely work. You can enter for a chance to win something from her shop. Here's the cover blurb:
Who is Trying to Silence Penny?
Penny Thorton's dreams of being a park ranger start to unravel her first
week on the job when she finds a dead bear in Yellowstone's backcountry.
Shots are fired as she runs away, but once she tells the authorities, all
evidence evaporates. Penny's aunt Iris, who is bent on eradicating an
invasive species of daisy from the park, puts that mission on hold when
more bears are killed and she becomes entangled in the mystery. After
several attempts on Penny's life, she and Iris learn to trust no one not
even their friends.
Carole was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and her writing.
Q: How many novels have you published? Poaching Daisies is my fifth novel.
A: How is this book similar and how is it different than your others? This book is similar in that it has elements of mystery, suspense, and romance. Like my others, it is set in a small town. It has strong female characters that have strong opinions. (I wonder why this keeps happening.) This one has a young woman in her 20’s and a woman in her 50’s. The book is different though in that this is my first novel that doesn’t have any LDS elements. Since this book takes place outside of Utah, it was easy to not bring religion into the story. My other books took place in Grouse Creek and in Paradise, Utah. Mormonism was a natural fit for part of the storyline.
Q: What was your inspiration for this book? We’ve been going to Yellowstone and the area of Montana that the book is set in since I was only three years old. The landscape is always in the back of my mind. One year when we were there, they had a town meeting about eradicating the oxeye daisy since it could take over. I was intrigued by the passion of the woman giving the presentation and thought she might make an interesting character. Then I heard about the poaching of bears for their parts that are lucrative on the black market. What a great combination for a story. It took some research to get going and I re-wrote it several times trying to get the details right.
A: Iris MacAfee your fictional character is passionate about the environment. What are you passionate about besides writing? I admire Iris for her confidence and her courage to fight her fight in spite of opposition. In the realm of politics, I find myself defeated before I even get started, so my passions are distractions from the struggles I feel. I love to hike, ride bikes, ski, walk, read, and eat lunch with friends. I’m crazy about my husband and feel so lucky to have him in my life. I’m insanely thrilled with my children, daughter-in-law and grandkids. Life has been good to me. Besides writing, I love to make pottery. I sell my work at local art festivals, markets, and galleries. It’s such a wonderful balance to play with the written word and then get my hands in clay and make three-dimensional pieces.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? I could get in trouble with this question since I have so many writer friends. My writing friends are awesome for sure, but other than those I love Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Tyler, and Tony Hillerman. I’ve never been disappointed by any of their books. Besides these authors, some of my favorite books are The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Growing up, I absolutely loved all the Oz books and Frances Hodgsen Burnett’s books. I read constantly as a child.
A. What are some rewards you’ve gotten from writing that you didn’t expect? The number one reward has been a whole slew of new friends, some whom I’ve gotten very close to. I’ve been very lucky to have friends who have rooted for me and support me (like by doing interviews and blogs) among lots of other ways. Another reward is to have learned the process of publishing. I’ve loved hearing from some how they’ve enjoyed my books or people who have invited me to speak to their book clubs. I’ve also loved the feeling of accomplishment. I’m also thrilled to give my mother something to brag to her friends about.
To celebrate the release of Poaching Daisies, the talented Carole Thayne Warburton is giving away a $50 gift certificate to her ETSY shop--Paradise Pottery. Her pottery is beautiful, so this is a giveaway you don't want to miss. Want to win? Follow the easy instructions below.
How to Enter
1. Leave a comment telling us what you liked about the review and why you are excited to read Poaching Daisies. For each review you comment on, you'll receive a separate entry. Don't forget to include your email address.
March 24: Janet Jensen
March 25: Julie Coulter Bellon
March 26: Liz Adair
March 27: Braden Bell
March 28: Shirley Balhmann
March 29: Stephanie Worlton
2. Tweeting about the review, or posting to your blog or Facebook will earn you additional entries. Just leave us a link in the comments section to your post.
Contest ends April 3, 2013.
So, last night I had a dream. It started out as an amazing, very exciting dream. The Kindling was being made into a movie. I think most authors secretly hope (or not very secretly) that their book will end up as a movie. I'm no different. I'm not holding my breath or quitting my day job or anything, but of course, that would be very exciting. So, the dream caused a state of high euphoria. Best dream ever.
And then, I saw a newspaper announcement about who the actors were. And my euphoria turned to ashes in my dreaming mouth. Seriously. It became a nightmare and I woke up shortly after. You see, they had cast Kristen Stewart in the role of Lexa.
Now, I'm not a hater of Kristen Stewart. But she's not right for the role. For one, she's too old. And for another, well, she just doesn't fit. That's all.
I woke up immediately after, feeling very disappointed.
I mentioned it on Facebook, and a friend asked who I would want to play the roles. This reminded me of something. When The Kindling came out last summer, one of the bloggers that reviewed it actually had me put together my ideal fantasy cast for a hypothetical movie--if I could have anyone playing the characters, who would they be?
That blog has since been removed, so I thought it might be fun to put it here. So, I am happy to present my fantasy cast for a hypothetical film version of The Kindling.
Dr. Timberi is a refined, formal music and theatre teacher with a sad past. Many people have mistakenly thought he is based on me, but he's not. He is more elegant and formal, and much more distant and, frankly, way cooler. He speaks with careful, clipped cadences and has a deep baritone voice. He would be well-played by Hugh Bonneville. Since Dr. Timberi is a huge fan of Downton Abbey, this would be even more appropriate.
Madame Cumberland is a warm, gentle French teacher with an enormous heart and soul. She has a voice that is frequently described as being like peach pie or warm towels. Judi Dench would be wonderful. She'd need a long, silvery wig.
Mrs. Grant is a fussy Southern English teacher in sensible shoes, or at least that is her facade. There is a great deal more to her than meets the eye. She would be brilliantly played by Glenn Close. Sadly, Maggie Smith is a bit too old. But we could change that if she were willing.
As far as the kids go, well, honestly, in my mind they look like the kids in the trailers. I have a hard time imagining anyone else in those roles.
Plus, to be age appropriate, they'd have to be played by relative unknowns.
Conner Dell, however, insists that he would best be played by Will Smith or maybe a young Tom Welling). Lexa thinks Keira Knightley or Angelina Jolie are the obvious choices. Melanie says her dream would be to be played by Grace Kelly or Audrey Hepburn. Younger. And with red wigs.
So, what do you think? Who would you cast?
I just spent some time via Skype with the wonderful 6th grade students from Art City Elementary. It's pretty cool that the internet allows us to connect from Nashville TN to Springville UT. I had a blast. The kids were very well-behaved and had some great questions. It was my first time Skyping with a large group. Lots of fun! Thanks, you guys!
My friend Marlene has written a book that sounds very interesting. I have not had time to read it yet, but Marlene is a wonderful writer and this premise sounds interesting. This book is written from a Mormon perspective, informed by LDS beliefs about life after death, but I suspect it might be of interest to anyone interested in this topic.
From the cover blurb:
"Gaze Into Heaven is a carefully compiled collection of more than 50 near-death experiences that occurred during the early years of the Church. These documented accounts give fascinating glimpses into the Spirit World by those who have actually been there. Besides being filled with stories of insight and inspiration, Gaze Into Heaven has pertinent quotes from latter-day Prophets and other leaders, scriptures, and perceptive commentary. After reading this book, you will never think of life—or death—in the same way."
You can find out more about Marlene and her writing at: www.marlenebateman.info
The book is available at:
Deseret Book: http://deseretbook.com/Gaze-Into-Heaven-Marlene-Bateman-Sullivan/i/5105020
Seagull Book: http://www.seagullbook.com/lds-products-770255.html
I have a mantra I frequently repeat with my theatre students. Several times a year, I have them repeat the words, "It's not about you." (For added measure, I have them point at themselves on the word "you"). I have found this to be beneficial medicine, quite effective for treating various adolescent maladies.
I have also found that it is helpful for me to remember this as a parent and teacher. Let me tell you a story of which I'm not very proud.
I began directing plays when I was 15 years old. Because I was still young and developing myself, I regret to say that I approached some of my early productions with a major ego. It was, sadly, about me. Not entirely, I sincerely tried to do a good job and make a good experience for the kids in the play, but if I am honest, I must admit that in my mind, it was largely about me.
This was a problem because it meant that I reacted to various stresses and problems in less-than-helpful ways. I remember once really chewing out some poor stage crew kid who had made a mistake. Instead of shaking it off, I felt he had made me look bad and I was furious and really let him have it. I regret that now, more than I can say.
In the years since, I am happy to say my outlook has changed. I no longer feel that plays or concerts are about me. Yes, I want them to go well and I want my students good work, and I am certainly still human. I still might get upset at something, stressed, etc.
However, I no longer feel that my value as a person is threatened by some poor kid making a mistake. My identity and well-being are informed by other factors and not dependent on what my students do. I can honestly say that I am much more focused on the students than I am on my own ego. (Note to students: I still will get mad at sloppy mistakes and laziness--but that's because I love you, not because I feel personally embarrassed).
In fact, I'm to the point now where I can feel satisfaction in seeing a student grow--even if the audience doesn't know it. That is, if a student performs and shows some personal growth or makes a big improvement, I can be satisfied and happy even if the performance itself might seem sub-par to the audience. This makes me a better teacher because I'm willing to take risks that allow for growth, even if the final product might not be as polished or perfect as I might wish. When you are worried about your own identity and ego, you can't take any leaps of faith.
Admittedly, it is more difficult to do this as a parent. I will admit that I still often feel tempted to judge myself (or allow myself to feel judged by others) based on my children. That is, if one of my children get a less-than-positive comment on their report card, my first response might be one of embarrassment. "Oh no, what must that teacher think I'm teaching my kids..." etc.
It's very easy for the focus to be about me and not on my child.
Of course it should not be. The problem is that when we make parenting about ourselves, we fall into bad habits and actions because we start to worry so much about short-term appearances as opposed to long-term growth and development. We confuse means with ends and may easily lose a sense of proportion. We may not value or recognize progress because it doesn't seem to be coming quickly enough. We may push them to achieve more than is needed, prudent, or wise--the list can go and on.
But the bottom line is this: as a parent, it's not about us.
Happy St. Patrick's Day from all of us at bradenbell.com! A few seasonal songs to celebrate:
Put this trailer together. We'll be shooting new stuff in two weeks, and I'm excited! Until then....
My latest releases:
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Thoughts about raising and teaching adolescents. You can read the complete series here. (What in the world are Middle School Mondays?) Click here.
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