Long time no blog

Lest you think I’ve been sitting around eating bonbons instead of writing, I’m here to say “nope.”  There has been a lot going on at the desk in the photo on your right.  I received the critique of my midgrade historical novel from Stacy DeKeyser (www.thejustifiedline.com and www.stacydekeyser.com). She identified areas I can tighten and rework and I’ve been busy doing just that.  I continue to enjoy and learn from my interactions with people in the Pedro Pan community and hope to have a final draft for their review in 4 weeks.  Wish me luck.   

Don’t Miss This!

A television documentary, Escape From Havana:  An American Story, premieres Thursday, May 27 at 9PM ET on CNBC.   This one-hour show is narrated by Meredith Vieira, co-anchor of NBC News TODAY and highlights the success stories of four members of Operation Pedro Pan.  Pass the word.  And the popcorn…

Moving forward one tiny baby step at a time…

Just wanted to share I’ve sent my completed draft of Exile (chapter book) to Stacy Dekeyser for a professional critique (check her out at http://stacydekeyser.com/ and http://www.thejustifiedline.com/).  After I complete her suggested revisions, I’ll ask my new friends in the Pedro Pan community to read the manuscript and comment from their perspective.  I’m really looking forward to their insights.  Special thanks today to Alberto Magin Martinez Sanchez for sharing his collection of photographs and memories.  Every time I see a face that belongs to a name I’ve read, I understand more clearly and connect more deeply.  
 
For my writer friends:
“Do not wait for inspiration to strike.  Inspiration is only ever granted to those who work hard.”  
                                                                  — Zoe Heller, author    

My good fortune

The research for my article (for a history magazine about the role of the Holy Family Orphans’ Home in Operation Pedro Pan) has been so interesting.  I’ve been to the Catholic Diocese of Marquette archives, I’m a regular in the historical files at the Peter White Public Library, and I’ve searched every piece of information I can find online.  (I’ll use this research for my chapter book, too.)  But the very best part of doing this article is connecting with the Cubans who lived here.  The “Marquette boys” have been generous with their time and have shared openly about their experiences at the Home.  I am really enjoying meeting them.  

Everytime I see a photo of the Home during its’ time as a shelter for children and compare it to the way it looks today, I realize it is a travesty that the building, and all the voices it holds, may be lost forever. 

Yakity Yak

Not much blogging because I’ve been busy talking on the telephone…

Do you remember that quaint way of communicating in which the receiver can actually hear inflection, gasping, snorting, and real live air moving in and out of a voice box?  When “LOL” had a noise attached to it  — and I don’t mean a clicking sound on a keyboard?  

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with two gentlemen (in the real sense of the word) who were Pedro Panes and lived in the Holy Family Orphans’ Home.  I appreciate how openly they shared their memories.  Their experiences were different and similiar in many ways, but both highlighted the warmth and connectedness they still feel from the Marquette community.  According to a database shared by one of the gentlemen I mentioned, 53 Pedro Panes lived here throughout the course of the mission. 

I’m working on an article for a regional historical magazine about the role the Holy Family Orphans’ Home played in Operation Pedro Pan.  (This research is strengthening the chapter book, too.) And, while secondary research is quick and easy, it never beats a good old-fashioned noise-filled conversation. 

  

  

Fear, Schmear…

“There is no writer’s block; what stops us is fear of rejection.”

 
                                                 author Jacqueline Woodson

Commitment Trumps Beauty

A small but curious group attended the SCBWI Networking Day gathering on Saturday, March 6 — despite a postcard-perfect day in Marquette.  UP here in the land of six months of snow and cold, we live for a heady 59 degrees in March.  Coming inside on this day was a testament to passion.  I’m sending a special shout out to Boni Ashburn, the traditionally published author in our midst, who answered hundreds of questions with grace and good humor.  Additional attendees included Meredith Ammons Ollila, Larry Buege and Phyllis Pokela.        
Picture

left to right back row: Boni Ashburn, Carrie Pearson, Meredith Ammons Ollila. Front row: Phyllis Pokela, Larry Buege

Ta-Da!

I’m excited to share that I’ve finished a first draft of my upper middle grade chapter book, Exile.  Normally I’m sort of a quiet person, so those who know me will be surprised I had 15,500+ words in me.  I’m happy to tell this story — it’s about time…

The plot synopsis follows:

This historical fiction, upper middle grade chapter book is for readers aged 12-14.  The main characters in the story are based upon the lives of real people.  However, this book is not a complete representation of their lives or the events that occurred. 

Set in an orphanage in 1962 just before the Cuban Missile Crisis, this is the story of how friendship saves two culturally dissimilar 12-year-old boys who are tragically disconnected from their families.  This is the first story written for children readers with a main character who was part of the Pedro Pan mission, the largest political exodus of children ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere.  
                                               ###

Danny suddenly finds himself a half-orphan after his mother dies, his father succumbs to alcoholism, and he is handed over to an abusive family friend.  Danny runs away and lands in the Holy Family Orphan’s Home in Marquette, MI.  This orphanage is the foster home for 30 boys who are part of the Pedro Pan mission, which brought over 14,000 children as exiles from Cuba during the first tumultuous years of Fidel Castro’s communist regime.    

Danny and Emilio, a Cuban exile, come together through Father Timothy, the monsignor in charge of the orphanage.  Because Cubans primarily live at the orphanage, their food, music, and emotions permeate the environment.  Danny enters a milieu very different from his experience in a small Midwestern town. Outside the orphanage, Emilio faces discrimination, language barriers, and living conditions vastly different from his former life experience.

The boys find common ground through their mutual desire to return to their old lives and their interest in baseball.  However, when an older Cuban boy bullies Danny, Emilio must choose his alliance and the clash between cultures becomes clear.   

Outside influences and abandonment wounds threaten their tentative friendship.  But, when they accept that their old lives are gone forever and recognize the value of their friendship, they forge an unbreakable bond — and find hope in their future.

 

SCBWI Networking Day

Click on “News” above and you’ll find out more information about Networking Day in our area.  I’m hosting and bringing something chocolate, something caffeinated, and something interesting.  You’ll have to come to find out what.  RSVP required to cpwpear@aol.com or 906-228-4465 (so I know how much of the stuff to bring.) 

This is a great opportunity to share, get new ideas, and move forward on your dream of writing and/or illustrating and publishing children’s books.