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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Writers Conferences

Here is a link to a website where you can find information about upcoming writers conferences for 2011:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Does This Genre Make My Writing Look Phat?

Prior to this year whenever I sat down to compose a new story I never thought about the category in which it would fall.  More importantly, I never considered whether I was even qualified to be writing in a certain genre.  Whenever I talk to writers about a story, they have written or are in the process of writing they always at one point convey that the story just came to them in some way.  At the writers conference I attended in September one of the authors stated how she was in the bathtub when the idea for her tale popped in to her head.  She relayed how she felt compelled to write that particular story.  Well that makes for a great water cooler moment but does it really chalk up to a good enough argument as to why she should write that tale?  Sadly, it does not.

With a new year fast approaching, I feel this is a great time for reflection.  Whenever I tell people, "I have written a science fiction novel."  A perplexed expression comes over their face.  I had always brushed off such doubts even when it came from those that know me well: ) until now.

With the school year in full swing, I now see the kids in my neighborhood with library books.  One day one of the girls proudly exclaimed that she was on chapter seven of the book she was reading.  I asked to see it and before I knew it, I was telling her about a story I was working on just for fun.  Her eyes got big and she wanted to know if she could borrow the book.  I had to try to explain to her about me being a writer and that it was not a “real” book yet.  She was confused but I think she got it. Anyway, talk about your light bulb moment. 

It was not until then that I even considered taking what I write when I need a break from my serious writing and try to build a career around that.  Duh, I tested the waters by mentioning the premise of the story to those who know me well.  I waited for the familiar perplexed looks to emerge but they never did, instead I was greeted with happy head nods.  Moreover, such phrases as, “I can picture that, yeah.  Can see you writing something like that.”

Yeah it was a duh moment for me yet think about it, how many of you took the time to even consider your qualifications for writing the story you are working on?  I did not.  Luckily, for us it is all about growing, getting better at this crafting fiction thing and all that other stuff.  No matter what stage you are in, please take the time to do a checklist about you and research the various major fiction genres as well as their sub-genres.  The whole point is to answer this question: Does this genre make my writing look phat In this case you want the answer to be yes:) 
Chick Lit
Crime Fiction
Historical Fiction
Science fiction



Saturday, November 27, 2010

This Was National Novel Writing Month?

For those of you who make it a habit to be informed I apologize in advance for this blog post.  Oh my word I am sooooo late on this.  Oh well better late than never.  Anyway here we go.  This morning I found out that November has been declared National Novel Writing Month.  There is a whole website, dedicated to this cause and everything.  Who knew?  Maybe you.  Definitely not me.

You start writing on November 1st and hopefully by November the 30th you will have spewed out some 50,000 words onto all those awful blank pages.   I know, I know what about the mistakes that will undoubtedly be made?  30 days is not enough time to construct an okay story not to mention a good one.  Well no worries because the object of National Novel Writing Month is not to produce something query worthy it is to motivate you to write and write and write.  I wish I knew about this 27 days ago because this month I have done everything other than writing:)  Oh well there is always next year right:?
Happy reading, writing or whatever:)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What About Word Count?

I remember a time when I actually believed all that advice about how not to dwell on word count.  Wonderful sounding advice like, "Just focus on telling the story and when it is done, it is done."  Well such advice is nice to accept when you just want to write a story.  Yet when you try to go and sell that story you will soon find out that word count IS important.  Remember your book is your baby but it is their product.  And that product must fit inside the standards set by the industry.  Of course, there are those who ignored such guidelines and still managed to obtain some sort of success but such folks are a rarity.  Moreover, with the rejection rate for new submissions being high do you really want to take such a risk?  After some digging, I found the rejection rate to be over 90%.  Here are some general guidelines and links to help you with the word count dilemma: 
Adult Fiction:  around 80,000 but stay away from the 100,000 word count
Science Fiction/Fantasy: around 100,000 is ideal and 80,000 is considered short
Middle Grade: anywhere from 20,000 to 45,000 is good
Young Adult: around 50,000 to around 70,000+
Young Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy: can be longer than 70,000
The Swivet
Fiction Factor
Guide to Literary Agents
  And as always happy reading, writing or whatever:) 

Monday, October 25, 2010

What is Your Story's "What If" Factor?

I began writing “Alien Line” in 2007 now as year 2010 comes to a close it is complete.  Since declaring the manuscript done some months ago I have started this blog, done extensive research on how to write a query letter, on how to acquire an agent, on why writing conferences are important, on how to deal with rejection and read through numerous content posted on other writing blogs.  Great right?  In a way yes.  I must admit that this journey has helped me to hone my craft, something that is essential for a serious writer.  But still there are moments when I wish I could slip on a pair of glittering heels that would enable me to go back in time.  Back to year 2007 when I was staring at the dreadful blank page poised ready to type that first line.  I would tap that slightly younger me on the shoulder and relay as much of what I have learned about BANKABLE fiction as I could before those glittering heels pulled me back to the present.
And I would tell her to consider if the story idea is of the HIGH CONCEPT kind.  Meaning is this an interesting, simply understood idea that can be explained in a mere sentence or two?  I would even be so kind as to give her, me, whatever an example.
Resting after a long labor Sylvia wakes anxious to see her twin girls only to have her husband and doctor insist that she had been pregnant with only one baby. 
Easy to follow right?  And such a concept or pitch leads to a what if or why did type of question.  What if there was another baby?  Why did the husband and doctor lie to Sylvia?  As the glittering heels lit up, signaling that it was time for me to go, I would offer one last bit of wisdom: this is your baby but it will be someone else's product.  Write the story you have intended to write yet when the time comes know how to pitch this story.  Know your story’s what if factor.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Women in Science Fiction

I came across this intriguing post:  A look at the “all-new” science fiction reading list by Laurie Penny.  In her blog post Penny points out that a post by John Gray failed to include any female or minority authors.  She also touches on why the genre should be taken more seriously, that females are capable of writing noteworthy science fiction and want to read it too.  Happy reading, writing or whatever:)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just Not That Into You

For about a month now I have been searching for an agent.  You know that moment in your life when you look around and declare you want to be single no more?  Maybe a change in hairstyle, hang out spot or the type of person dated soon followed.  Essentially putting a polish on the situation in hopes of attracting someone good to then lead toward a relationship.  And eventually someone comes along.  You go out and have what you think is a nice time only to never get a call for that all important second date.  Do you give up?  No.  You go on dating until you find that right someone.
Well that is what hunting for an agent is like.  You have this manuscript that you've spent a large chunk of time polishing in hopes that someone will one day want to make some sort of commitment to it.  When you get a rejection instead of that “second date” it’s easy to get sad and go back to what you were originally doing.  Yet, just like with dating, if you did that you would never find Ms. or Mr. Right Agent.  So with each rejection received just think of it as one step closer to finding that something right.
Query letter advice: Agent Query
                              Writer's Digest      

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Here is What Happened in New York

As my little family of three drew near the city the landscape transformed from one covered with tall trees to one covered with towering buildings.  An absence of foliage, numerous man made structures, constant honking of horns, multiple lanes of bumper to bumper traffic and the throngs of pedestrians communicated to me that I was not in a city but riding along on the back of an unique beast.  Everything about New York City gave me the sense that it was indeed the place where mere dreams go to become a reality.  It is weird how quickly the city claims you.  By day two I was apart of one of the many moving throngs of people on the streets.  Okay, I will push my wide eyed aw for the city aside now.
The Algonkian Writers Conference I attended was held at the Ripley-Grier studios.  I was in Michael Neff’s group.  Day one was reading of the pitches.  All of us (except for J.P. :-) needed to rework them.  The pitch is basically your hook.  Over the next few days we continued to tweak our hooks and met with editors.  One was flat out not interested in my story but a couple seemed intrigued.  I mean they asked a lot of questions about the plot, characters and themes.  One even wrote down my blog url (Hi).  Right now it is a waiting game to see if anything materializes from the conference.  I learned a lot and was reminded that though this is an art form for me it is a business for them.  They want to know if you will make them money.  Right now I and many others are standing before the locked gate hoping someone will deem our work worthy enough for entry.  I have started looking for an agent and have at least begun thinking about book two.  I met some incredible writers at the conference and wish I could attend one every month.  It was such a kick in the ass:!)  Happy reading, writing or whatever.  And be nice about the pictures please.  I was caught up in the whole New York fashion thing…



Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Where are the Outcries for Gary?

    I have been asked repeatedly to write this post.  And after watching last night’s episode of Teen Mom how could I not?  I remember how when on season one of the Jersey Shore cast member Snooki was punched in the face and person after person wagged their finger at MTV for showing the footage.  While that incident was unpleasant to watch what is happening to Gary is down right vile.  Not only because he is being abused, verbally and physically, but because of the lack of outcry about it.

Last night Amber got in Gary’s face several times while hurling insults at him.  At one point she went up to him and made a gesture with her fist threatening to hit him.  Later in the episode she made good on that threat when she smacked him repeatedly in the face, as he tried to collect his belongings that she had set outside of her apartment.  Where are the domestic abuse advocates?  Where is Child Protective Services?  If the roles in the above account were switched every morning show would have led off with a piece about the episode.  Abuse is abuse.  Is does not matter that the abuser in this case is female.  Not addressing the topic is the same as condoning it.                

Monday, September 20, 2010

NYC Pitch and Shop Conference

Hello All.  This week I am off to New York for the NYC Pitch and Shop writers conference.  I am both nervous and excited:)  Full details, the good and bad, will be posted next week.            

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Won't Make any Money

Last week while waiting for my daughter’s preschool orientation to begin another mother sat down next to me and soon after a conversation ensued.  It started out kind of boring with her seizing the moment to brag about her eldest son.  How he also had went through this particular YMCA’s preschool  program and was now reading on a much higher grade level than his classmates.  Some more chatter along these lines when, just as I am deciding whether to suppress an impending yawn or boldly let it out highlighting my boredom, she steered the conversation away from her little genius, briefly on to herself and then to me.  She wanted to know what I do.  I gave her my spiel about being a stay-at-home mom and writer.  After which this stranger said to me, “You won’t make any money.”  I was shocked and amused that this woman who does not even know me, has not read one sentence I have written could so matter-of-factly make such an assessment.  Needless to write but the conversation came to an abrupt end as I wanted to put some distance between me and that negativity.  Yet maybe she is right.  Perhaps I won’t make any money threading words together.  Whatever.  

What that woman and others like her fail to understand is that an artist (first-rate writing is an art form) practices their craft not only because they want to but also because they have to.  If Mariah Carey was not  Mariah Carey  she would still sing and write songs.  Instead of belting out high notes in front of huge audiences she would probably do so while getting ready to go to that regular, bill paying job.  Today I am just Tanya Yvonne maybe in some tomorrow I will be Tanya Yvonne, but whatever.  Because no matter what I will still write.  So to all my fellow artists the writer, singer, songwriters, painters, photographers, chefs and so on keep focusing on doing what you do well:-) 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Revising, Nothing but a Bag of Bones

For me the real writing of a story does not take place until the first revision begins.  I liken the first draft to a bag of bones. This is where you would focus mainly on getting the plot down on paper, on computer, or whatever.  Imagine someone handing you a bag of bones.  And the only instruction given was to use the bones to create the skeletal shape of a dinosaur.  You would lay the bones out, then you would start to put this bone with that bone and so on until all of the bones have been pieced together.  Yet when you step back to admire your lovely work you realize that the head bones are where the tail bones should be.  So naturally you remove those bones and rearrange them until you have the desired form.  Right?  Right:-)  Same type of situation should occur when constructing your story.

During that first draft you should focus mainly on getting the basic story completed.  Just like you had to step back to get a better view of the completed dinosaur skeleton, you now have to “step back” from your completed first draft.  You do this by sticking the printed rough draft in a drawer or make a vow not to open the file for at least a week, though I really recommend two.  You do this so when you go back to do that all important first read you will easily spot any errors that were made.  Like with the incorrect placement of the dinosaur’s head and tail bones.  You repeat the steps until your dinosaur shape, meaning your story, looks as it should.  Oh, and VIOLET EYES has gone through four revisions: ) 
Happy reading, writing or whatever:-)          


Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I just want to thank those that have taken time out of their day to sign up to follow my blog:)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Real Racism Problem

I am a writer so I guess it is my nature to be intrigued by language.  I don’t just hear what people say to me, I also “hear” what they don’t plainly come out and say.  You see, the way in which someone has articulated something can at times be more telling than what they have actually said.  As you probably know by now Dr. Laura Schlessinger used the N-word 11 times on her nationally syndicated radio show.  As a result the familiar debate about whether or not the N-word should be stricken from our vocabulary has again sprung up.  When people use such an emotionally charged word it is easy to pounce on them for doing so, and I get that.  Believe me I get that.  But what really bothers me about the exchange Schlessinger had with the caller is something I have labeled the real racism problem, rhetoric.  Everyone gets so caught up in the N-word, to the point that the real racism problem gets ignored.

So what Schlessinger used the N-word 11 times.  We all, well most of us anyway, agree that using it is wrong on some level.  What doesn’t get discussed, because of all the furor over a single word, are all those other insensitive words.  Used to form generalizing, offensive statements that are more harmful than the single N-word.

What Schlessinger Said:   
a lot of blacks voted for Obama simply 'cause he was half-black.  Didn't matter what he was gonna do in office
What I (Tanya Yvonne) heard:
Blacks do not know or care about the issues.  They operate like children where girls seek out other girls and boys seek out other boys simply because they are a like.  Meaning blacks looked at then candidate Obama and deduced, he looks like me so must vote for him.    
What Schlessinger Said:  It was a black thing.
What I heard:  Blacks are not individuals.

What Schlessinger Said:  You gotta know that. That's not a surprise
What I heard:  I know how you people are.

What Schlessinger Said:  I don't get it. If anybody without enough melanin says it, it's a horrible thing; but when black people say it, it's affectionate. It's very confusing.
What I heard:  I really don’t understand why you are feeling this way.

What Schlessinger Said:  Yeah. We've got a black man as president, and we have more complaining about racism than ever. I mean, I think that's hilarious.
What I heard:  We have a black president so I feel we no longer have a race problem.  I don’t care about how you are feeling.

Language is very powerful.  The Dr. Lauras of the world are masters of this rhetoric game.  Because it is never what they come out and plainly say that creates divides.  Only the residue.  That nasty stickiness that you can’t really see but somehow feel.  The N-word 11 times -clearly heard.  All those others words -kind of heard, but definitely felt.  Time to focus on the real racism problem.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hook Me

Okay, so you have written a story that you want me to read.  I’ll give you one paragraph to convince me to read the whole story.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  No worries right?  Because I know somewhere in that first paragraph of your story there will be a hook.  Delicious morsels constructed of words that will leave me and other readers with burning questions.  Questions that can only be answered by reading your story.  A hook.

The rain pounded hard against the window.  But I could still hear them.  The light footsteps of a child.  Alone in the darkness of my bedroom I thought about hiding, or even jumping out the window.  Yet I couldn’t move.  I was paralyzed by fear.  I thought back to what had brought me to that moment. 

Is the narrator male or female?
Why be afraid of a kid?
Is this one of the parents?
Why consider jumping out a window?
Is someone crazy?
I have to find out. 

Now I want you to set your story aside for a few days.  Once you have done this go back and read your opening paragraph.  Ask yourself, does it leave me wanting more?  Be honest:)    


Friday, August 13, 2010

"Alien Line" Poster

What will happen to Teah when she discovers the truth?

Here is the poster (NOT the book cover)
for "Alien Line" created by n*Vision Designs.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

What's Driving Your Story?

Are your stories driven by plot or character?  This question reminds me of this guy who was in my fiction workshop.  When his short stories were read aloud I was often left feeling as if I had been taken on a wild ride.  His stories were action packed.  Passage after passage of skirmishes or small feats, all memorable.  Even though what happened stuck with me who it happened to escaped my thoughts as soon as the story had ended.   The type of stories Workshop Guy was writing would fall under the heading, plot driven.  Meaning that how fast the car was going, how the vehicle flipped over a curb, or the extent of damage done to the car was narrated at length.  Whereas few words were used detailing what the character(s) was feeling or thinking at the time of that crash.  If the situation was reversed and Workshop Guy had taken several paragraphs to chronicle the character's feelings and thoughts instead, then the story could be categorized as character driven

It does not matter to me if a story is driven by plot or character.  My belief is that producing a captivating tale is what really matters.   My stories tend to be more character driven.  Yours may not.  But it is important to be aware of the kinds of stories you do tend to write.  That way you will be more likely to spend extra time on that action scene or give the reader some insight about a character’s motivation.       

Saturday, July 31, 2010

When Describing a Character it’s Best to Leave a lot to the Reader’s Imagination

Relationship experts are always stating how men find it more attractive when a woman does not show everything.  That they find it more appealing when women wear something like a low cut blouse paired with a long skirt.  It peaks their interest because it leaves them something to fantasize about.  Instead of them seeing the legs as they really are the guys instead get to drum up an ideal image of those hidden limbs.  Okay, so what is my point?  That the same idea applies when describing a fictional character.  No matter how detailed a description you give the image among readers will vary and none of them will come close to that picture you have in your head. 
Take for instance this photo of JaeLynn and I:
The wall was pink.  A brown and pink, art deco like flower print hung on the wall behind the African- American mother and daughter.  Beside the art on the wall there was a rack with seven shelves that contained numerous bottles of nail polish in shades of blue, green, pink, purple, yellow, orange and white.  Are you ready to skip to the end of this description yet?  The three-year-old black girl sat at a white table in a blue chair.  On the table sat a large bottle with a green label.  The girl's hair was done up in a ponytail that hung over to one side.  She was wearing a multicolored striped, orange jumper.  Her nails were painted pink.  Okay, enough already.  Now the correct way.
The coffee colored skin of the mother and daughter glowed against a backdrop of pink.  I focused my gaze on their smiles which seemed to be genuine.  A normal looking family doing ordinary things, like visiting a nail salon.  I absently ran my fingers through my dark, long hair.  Hair that looked very much like the young mother's.  I described the characters while being mindful of the whole story.

Now you go give it a try.  Use the picture above or seek out one that better fits the type of character(s) you wish to create.  

Thursday, July 29, 2010

NYC Pitch and Shop Conference

I will be attending the NYC Pitch and Shop conference that will be taking place September 23rd-26th.  I am very excited and a bit nervous.  I have never been to New York and although I should be focusing on the writing, I can't stop thinking about what I should wear:-)  I know it's terrible.  But while conducting the final read of my manuscript I can not keep my mind from wandering.  Visions of me strolling down the New York streets all Sex and the City like just keeps popping up.  Anyway, I will chronicle every detail right here on this Tanya Yvonne blog of mine.  Wish me luck!             

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Be Choosy When Choosing a Point of View

Before you initially begin your story you must first choose a point of view.  Meaning, who would make the best storyteller?   If you only want the reader to get the perspective of a single character than first person point of view should be used.  Readers will have to rely on accounts given by a single character.  Explanations and descriptions that might be marred by the character’s  motivation.  For instance, let’s imagine that a story about a robbery is being told from the first person point of view.  The narrator is the robber.  Throughout the course of the story  the reader would have to question whether or not the robber is being impartial.  A type of question that could never be answered because the reader does not have any other character’s point of view to compare the robber’s account against.  Also when using the first person point of view a beginner writer has to be mindful that the use of I and we could get monotonous.  Try to find other ways for the single narrator to refer to themselves.  Instead of I sat it could be my bulk rested on the torn chair.  

Next we have my favorite, third person point of view.  I like third person point of view because I feel it gives the whole story.  And it makes for a more complex tale.  Lets go back to the robber premise.  Only this time when using the third person point of view we now get to see how it happens from the clerks perspective too.  Instead of using I or we, you will be using she, he or it

Lastly you must decide if omniscient, the narrator knows and recounts all actions and feelings of more than one character, or limited omniscient, only knows the feelings of a single character, would work best for your story. 

Friday, July 23, 2010

If It Doesn't Move the Story Along, Get Rid of It

When Makeup Girl (I’ll use nicknames to protect the identities of any friends and family members used in such scenarios to avoid any Jerry Springer moments:-) first asked for my help with a creative writing class assignment, she had no idea that I would be “so mean.”  Yup, Makeup Girl actually called me mean.  All because I pointed to large sections of her narrative and admitted that I didn’t care about the information given.  What Makeup Girl soon learned was one of the most important rules in regards to writing.  According to Tanya Yvonne anyway, omit anything that will have that voice in your reader’s head screaming: I don’t care.  I can’t tell you how many stories I have read where the author has taken several pages just to describe a room, a dress, a character’s appearance or how she/he walked in a room.  Boring!  Unless it is key to the plot, meaning that it will somehow move the story along , GET RID OF IT.  I know, I know you spent hours maybe even weeks crafting that scene.  I DON’T CARE.  GET RID OF IT.  You know how you watch a movie and there is some random scene where the lead hot actor is partially naked? And once the next scene starts you think to yourself what was the point of that?  Finally, when the movie has ended you realize that the nudity had nothing to do with what was going on, the producers just thought that it would look good.  Annoying.  Same thing with writing.  Don't just put a passage in to show how you can do a great description.  Because if that looong, overly detailed description does not end up moving the story along it should not be there so GET RID OF IT: )              

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Taking a Closer Look at Catelynn of MTV's "Teen Mom"

by Tanya Yvonne

Recently I got the chance to sit down and have a phone conversation with MTV’s “Teen Mom” cast member Catelynn.  After an awkward start, I accidentally called her Carly instead of Catelynn, the 18-year-old put me at ease with her girly laughter.  There was so much I wanted to know about her.  After all she was the only one of the girls who chose to give her baby up for adoption.  A decision that her family disagreed with.  I wanted to know how old Carly is now and what type of emotional attachment did she have towards the soon-to-be toddler.  In a delightfully, young, teenage sounding voice she explained to me that Carly was now a one-year-old.  And the feelings she has for the little cutie would fall more under the heading of aunt like.  In a way that hints that what she has gone through has made her wise beyond her years, she tells me that Carly has a mother.  And that person is the woman who is raising her.  I then wanted to know about the level of contact.  She explained that she regularly receives e-mails and gets pics on a monthly basis.  Of course I had to make some inquires regarding her relationship with Tyler:)  Birth father of little Carly.
The tone of her voice shifts slightly as she tells me how in every relationship there are bumps but also that things were improving.  During the first episode of this season Tyler and his mother ask her to move out, indicating that perhaps some space was needed between the two teens.  I asked how things were with her mother.  No surprise to those of us who watched the first season that things are still strained between the mother and daughter.  I wrapped up the interview with questions regarding her future. 
I wanted to know what was next for her.  If she was ready to close that chapter of her life.  Catelynn explained to me that while she was ready to look ahead, when it comes to Carly that is a chapter in her life that will never be closed.  Why do the show at all?  “I want people to know that there are different ways to love a child.  Adoption is not a huge, horrible thing.  It has wonderful rewards.”  This year she is looking forward to graduating from high school and going to college.  Just like any other 18-year-old.  Catch “Teen Mom” Tuesdays on MTV.            

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Plot, This Took Place Because That First Took Place

Plot is what occurs during a story.  In the best of tales it is done in such a way that it’s clear to the reader when, this took place because that first took place.  Allow me to clarify.  I am writing a romantic type of story where I have a male character going on a first date.  Throughout this date he demands that the woman pay half of everything.  Movie tickets, popcorn, drink and even dinner.  At the end of the date before leaving the restaurant he hints at a second date.  The woman flatly turns him down.  Not wanting to waste more gas, for he was the one who drove, he gets angry and tells her to take a cab home.  The story ends with his date taking a cab that just happens to be driven by a guy who had a crush on her in high school.  When he pulls up to her home she reaches in her purse preparing to pay him but he indicates that the ride is on him.  She gives him her phone number and they soon fall in love.  The end:)

See how it is clear how the female character went from being on a date with one guy to riding in the back of a cab be driven by another guy whom she quickly falls for?  This took place because that first took place.  While revising your story if you can not pinpoint the moment that this took place because that first took place, the section(s) then needs to be reworked so that is does.  


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Well Since This is What I Do

Recently I have had a few people express to me their confusion over the lack of posts regarding writing.  I  surprised myself when I could not offer up a good enough excuse as to why I have avoided the topic.  As a result of these conversations I plan to make frequent posts about writing fiction.  Here is the first of such posts:
When people find out that I am a writer as well as stay-at-home-mom the next phrase is almost always about how they too have wanted to write, but could never find the time to get started.  I can totally relate to this because when I started, "Alien Line" I was a full-time college student as well as full-time mom.  After sometimes going weeks without working on the manuscript I committed myself to, at the very least, reading it over for a minimum of twenty minutes a day.  Now think about this.  How many of you find time in each day to watch a thirty minute program?  Replace that television time with writing.  If you don't have twenty or thirty minutes find at least ten.  There is nothing wrong with scheduling short burst of times for your passion(s).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

MTV's "Teen Mom," Why This Momma Loooves That Show

by Tanya Yvonne author of the forthcoming book “Violet Eyes”
Sure “16 and Pregnant,” is good but it is the “Teen Mom” spinoff that I make sure to never miss. It reminds me of a time when shows like “The Real World” were real. When the lives of its cast members sparked discussion about topics that many teens grapple with, yet were reluctant or unsure how to start a discourse regarding them. Like cast member Pedro Zamora’s battle with AIDS. And Tami Roman’s difficult decision to have an abortion. Though only a teen when the seasons in which Pedro and Tami were featured, I vividly recall their stories. But it is only since becoming a mother that I think back to how I then reacted to the episodes that dealt with such difficult subject matters.   

By talking with my mother. I don’t remember why my mother started watching the show with my sister and I, but I do recall the chats we had about key episodes. I felt comfortable asking questions about the possible effects an abortion procedure would have on Tami’s body. Mainly because I didn’t have to worry about my mom asking me a bunch of questions about why I wanted to know or thinking I was “in trouble.”

Being a teen at the time I had taken sex education classes that covered the risks that came with sexual activity.  Risks that included the possibly of an unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV.  Yet it wasn’t the sex ed classes, nor the awkward, formal safe sex talks with my mother that made any of those consequences real for me.  It was the many snapshots of a stranger’s life that had made all of those warnings real to the teenage me.  Which explains why I looove the show, “Teen Mom.”

Nowadays there are countless ways that our offspring can avoid talking with us parents or simply go about tuning us out.  Thanks to such wonderful things as text messaging, Facebook, You Tube, email and similar technologies.  “Teen Mom” presents a rare opportunity for parents of teenagers, especially teenage girls, to have an informal discussion about sex.  So the next time you catch your teen(s) watching the show why not just end viewing the program with them?  That is what my mother did and it worked.  She got the chance to give me the information that she felt I needed, and the teenage me got her moment to ask all those embarrassing questions:)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Betty White Factor

In our youth obsessed culture an 88-year-old Betty White is showing that along with wisdom, age can also bring out one’s it-factor. The Betty White factor, the idea that we get better as we age, could not have come at a better time for me. While most people think of July as the month in which we celebrate our nation’s independence, I think of it as the time when I edge closer to the other side of that proverbial hill. Yes July is my birthday month. And lately I find myself pausing in the mirror searching for new wrinkles. It is not like I can avoid thinking about such things. Online, the television, newspapers, magazines, standing in a store checkout line, no matter where I happen to be there are screaming words and images that convey that the older version of me is something to be feared. Not according to the Betty White factor. 
Thinking back to the 18-year-old Tanya and I can’t help but to shudder just recalling the former hairstyles not to mention some life choices. Sure the skin was tighter and wrinkle free but the lack of knowledge. If I could go back and chat with the 18-year-old me I assure you the phrases: just don’t, bad idea, ignore his call, and stupid move would come up often.  Age has given me skin that is not as firm or smooth as it once was, but it has also given me something else. Experience and a confidence that only women of a certain age can understand:) A combo that helped to push me to aggressively pursue my writing when everyone else was shouting, GO TEACH. I hope the Betty White factor is not just another trend for she has truly inspired me.
I will no longer dread the fast approaching birthday or the following ones for that matter. Instead of counting wrinkles I will look forward to the day when I will look in the mirror and see that older version of myself. A smarter, it-factor version of a bygone girl that was once quite shy. And it appears that I am not alone in my thinking. I believe Hollywood has discovered something that we women have known all along.  That we can still be leading ladies even after we hit 25. Meryl Streep in, “It’s Complicated,” Betty White and her cast mates are all over the age of 45 as well as the cast of the recent “Sex and the City 2" movie. Sure heads will always turn whenever a new Megan Fox type (supposed younger version of Angelina Jolie) bursts on to the scene, but it is the post 30 it-factor version of that type that will have figured out how to keep those heads from turning away.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Would Never Want to "Tame" My Daughter

When I sometimes look at my daughter I see a bygone version of myself. Like me she has a deep affection for music.  When a pleasing beat hits her ear she can’t help but to sway her young hips.  When I see this I smile and see her, truly see her for the individual that she is.  Others may think it inappropriate but why would I want to chide her for doing something that comes naturally?  I don't want to “tame” my girl.  I merely want to be able to guide her.  Hoping that when I do nudge her from my nest she will be well equipped to choose a proper path of flight.  But at what age will my girl stop being thought of as a mere girl by the world and be shifted to being thought of as a young woman?  I have a nephew who is only eight and already people refer to him as, little man.  I am a woman, a mother and yet there are times when I am still referred to as a girl.  Take the recent “Sex and the City 2” movie where when talking about the movie many have started a statement with, “the girls.”  Which brings me to Miley Cyrus who recently made some waves with her new video for the song, “Can’t be Tamed.”  Miley who is now 17 has been accused of  going from being a good role model to now being a bad one, due to her new supposed sexed up image.  As a girl I was a Madonna fanatic.  I remember how my fascination with the then rising pop star had bothered my mother.  At the time I did not get what the problem was.  While my mother was seeing a raunchy, pelvic thrusting woman, I saw an empowered woman.  I guess my path had been laid out long before I realized it, for it was Madonna’s lyrics that had me captivated not her skimpy outfits.  While the world was gawking at and talking about  her pointy bra  costumes I was hearing her words, “Express yourself, but respect yourself.  Hey, Hey.”  The problem was not Madonna it was my mother and other mothers like her, all who could not believe that it was them that had the biggest influence over their daughters.  Just because I liked an artist who had a sexed up image did not mean that I would suddenly turn promiscuous.  And for the record I did not:)  I read the lyrics of Miley’s “Can’t be Tamed” song several times and viewed the video as well before writing this entry.  The problem is not that the artist’s image has changed.  The problem is with the parents of her core audience who still see her as a girl instead of the young woman she has become. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our Trek Through Maymont Park

This past weekend we visited Maymont Park located in Richmond, Virginia.  If you happen to visit the state this summer or already reside there and are looking for a great staycation idea, this would make for an ideal stop.  Just pack a lunch, a few dollars for the donation and a few quarters for the feed machines.  I take JaeLynn there at least once a year.  Click on the link for more information.     
Maymont Park Website