Meet Debbie Dadey. She’s the other founding member of the Tennessee critique group. She’s written and published over 170 books. Correction: Debbie said it’s actually 166, but that’s almost 170. I had 30 of them in my classroom collection. I couldn’t believe I met her at the 2016 Midsouth SCBWI conference. That was amazing, but it got even better! She invited me to visit her writing group and eventually to join them. I was on Cloud 9. Truly!
As a prepublished writer, it’s incredible to have someone with Debbie’s experience looking at my work! Rick’s the catcher, and Debbie’s the slasher. Really! She sees words, sentences, paragraphs, even chapters, that can be cut. In stories every word counts. Debbie has a great sense of what needs to be on the page, and what should be deleted.
I found all these pictures on Debbie’s website. It’s a fantastic resource for parents, teachers, and kids. Click on over! The link: https://www.debbiedadey.com/
This is Debbie’s childhood room. There are 2 things to notice. First it’s blue. That’s Debbie’s favorite color. Mine too! Second she’s standing by shelves full of books. Debbie ‘s always been a book lover. Me too!
In this picture Debbie’s a little older, and she’s got a job. Do you recognize the uniform? Here’s a clue…lots of people get their first job at this fast food restaurant. This is what they wore in the 70’s and 80’s.
Did you guess McDonalds? Back in the day if you worked at McDonalds, you’d look just like Debbie.
Debbie is talented! And not just at writing. This is her, standing on someone’s shoulders, water skiing. Evidently back in the day, she did shows every summer. Wow! Is there anything she can’t do?
If you’ve ever met Debbie in person, you know she’s a lot of fun. She’ll try anything! Take a look at the first picture. That’s Debbie in action during a school visit. She is a lot of fun.
Debbie started writing because she wanted to make reading fun for kids who struggle. She’d do anything to help them, including appearing in mermaid gear, 2nd picture. Debbie’s newest series is Mermaid Tales. She’s on book #18. I wonder if this series will do as well as The Bailey School. There are more than 80 books in the series.
One of the best things about being a writer is meeting other writers. Debbie is in both pictures, and she’s meeting 2 famous writers. Do you recognize either of them? The first is Bernard Waber. I had all of his Lyle Lyle Crocodile books in my classroom collection. My 2nd graders loved them! The author in the 2nd picture is R.L. Stein. I didn’t buy many of his books, but my own 2 boys loved him. They were too scary for me, and too scary for 2nd graders, but I’d love to meet anyone who can get boys into reading!
Can you guess what Debbie’s doing in the 1st picture? She’s jumping out of a plane. Really! She screamed all the way down…till her parachute opened. Wow! Debbie takes fun seriously!
This picture is from Debbie’s cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Nothing scary here! The bear is wooden. I picked this picture because Debbie and her husband want to retire here, after a lifetime of moving…Kentucky to Illinois to Colorado to Pennsylvania. Now home is Sevierville, Tennessee. I hope this is their last move.
North, south, east, west, home’s always best! Debbie moved a lot but took home with her. She brought her family quilts. The first picture is one that’s been so well loved its edges are wearing away, kind of like Velveteen Rabbit.
The 2nd quilt Debbie cross stitched herself. When you cross stitch, you make a design using hundreds of x’s. No o’s!
Debbie didn’t do the actual quilting. That’s’the lines of stitches that run diagonally across the bedspread. She took a class and quit. Quilting can be as scary as skydiving. It’s hard, complicated work so Debbie found a professional to do the work. Sometimes it’s wise to let someone else do the job.
Here are some great links Debbie made. They were probaby easier than quilting. I hope you’ll check them out!
Kids talk to Debbie: https://www.debbiedadey.com/KidsTalk/index.php
Debbie talks back: https://www.debbiedadey.com/DebbieTalks/index.php
Writing Tips: https://www.debbiedadey.com/Writing/Writing.php
Kids’ Clubs: https://www.debbiedadey.com/Swamp/index.php
Book report cheat sheet: https://www.debbiedadey.com/Swamp/BookReport.php
Last week I wrote about a day in my life as a writer. Today I’m starting a 3 part post about the members of my Tennessee writing group. I’ve been with them for almost 2 years. Having a place to get good feedback is a blessing.
Meet Rick Starkey! Rick's a founding member of the Tennessee group. He graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature. He’s sold a few pieces to Highlights Magazine and had his 1st book published.
I love working with Rick! He’s the catcher. He sees the small things that that don’t quite work. They’re close, but slightly off. Catching and changing them helps my story flow.
Rick has one book in print, Blues Bones. It’s this week’s feature on My Reads. Click on over!
On October 27th you can meet Rick and get an autographed book. He’ll be in Sevierville, Tennessee at the Book Market in Tanger Outlets.
Rick does 2 presentations.
Taming Technology: Using technology to help you write.
Rick is our resident techie. He believes technology isn’t scary, and I’m not scared, if I can ask Rick.
Working With a Small Publisher: Is a small publisher a good fit for me?
If you have a book that’s ready for a publisher, Rick can give you the pros and cons of a small house. His web site has a free handout. Click in the presentation section to find those tips.
His web address: https://rickstarkey.wordpress.com/
His trailer for BLUES BONES:
Rick is a busy guy! Not only does he write, but he carves too. With a chainsaw. Really! Look him up on Facebook under ‘The Stump Brothers Chainsaw Carving.’
Use this link to watch Rick carve:
Rick is magic too! He has the shop in Gatlinburg to prove it, Make it Magic. He sells mesmerizing tricks, and maybe a bear or two. It is the Smokies!
Rick also performs magic with his wife, Betty. It’s a family business. That’s Betty with the bunny. Rick’s best magic tip— if you ever make a rabbit disappear in front of kids, make it reappear. Otherwise the kids won’t stop worrying about the poor bunny. Rick is a magic man, I think he should conjure up a tale about a magic bunny. Really!
PS- Betty is more than Rick’s wife and a magician’s assistant. Her stage name is Twinkles, and she knows how to clown around. Really! I wonder, if you visit the shop, would you meet Betty or Twinkles? Hmmm…
new ones, both for a book that I want to self-publish by spring. I need information about how to set up the pages and the illustrations.
I love Facebook. It helps me in 2 ways. It connects me to old/new friends and to the writing community. Commenting is a great way to learn write short, 1 sentence if possible. With writing, shorter is always better.
rearrange them, whatever it takes. Sometimes the next day I switch them back. Writing is tricky!
I like to spend 3 days on a chapter, and this is my 3rd day for chapter 5, but I’m still making changes. I’ll start with it tomorrow and hope the changes are few enough to leave it behind. Fingers crossed!
As I read my chapters, an email came across the screen from my Tennessee critique group. Later when I needed a break, I answered it. Then I wrote another, a reminder email for blog answers I need.
I’m blessed that I can make my own schedule. I’m retired. If I have appointments, I work writing around them. If the day is my own, I do as I please. After emailing I was hungry, so I took a lunch/reading beak. I love having the freedom to make my own schedule, but days like Wednesday, August 8th are the best! I get to write all day.
make changes, it’s like throwing a stone into a pond. You get ripples. The bigger the change, the bigger the ripple, and the more rereading/editing I must do to patch the story back together, without any stitches showing.
This week I have 2 chapters to prep for the next critique group. I worked on 14 yesterday, so today I reread it 3 times, then moved onto 15. I hadn’t touched it so I divided the chapter into scenes first. Then I read each scene 3 times, each time pushing to increase the tension and sensory images. After that, I was done, for today!
After slogging through the toughest part, I paused. I took a short nap and felt better. Good enough to check my email and Facebook. Good enough to finish a book review for my website.
By this time my husband wanted to put dinner together so I stopped. We cooked, ate, and cleaned up. Would you believe afterwards I wrote some more? I did!
I pulled up the newsletter template on my computer. It includes My Blog and My Reads from the website. I made several small changes to so they were email/paper ready. I saved the changes to my ‘Old Newsletter’ file so I can pull up my old newsletters anytime. Then I emailed this one to my newsletter group. If you’d like a copy, click on the link below. It will take you to my contact information. That's where you can request a newsletter, or send me an email. I’m glad to answer either, or both!
This was my last newsletter...
Your Newsletter from rindabeach.com
Goodbye Gomer 8/6/18 This post was about the demolition of my first school. Sad to write, but lovely to preserve memories.
I wasn’t ready to shut down so I checked my email. I wound up sending out 3 new ones about the manuscript I want to self-publish.
You’d think I’d had enough for the day…emails, working on 6 chapters of a chapter book, finishing up the review for My Reads, publishing a newsletter…Nope! I started looking for images for a new blog post, this one. That’s why the image to the left is a wall of blank frames.
I’ve had the idea for this post for a month. On Wednesday, August 8, I decided to pick pictures to show what I do during 1 day, as a writer. It took me 11 days to write this post, so tonight, Sunday, August 19, it’s finally done! Woo-Hoo!
PS- Most days are not this productive. I didn’t have another day this good until Friday, the 17th. That’s why a whole day of writing is heaven!
This was Gomer Elementary. Back in May of 1983 I was hired to teach kindergarten half day, title 1 reading the other half. By the time school started, I was doing reading all day with 1st and 2nd graders. It was my first full time job, and I was the youngest teacher in the building. For years! The primary teachers, K-3, became my mentors, my friends, my school family. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to begin my career, to grow into adulthood.
When I got an interview at Gomer, I was single. I’d never heard of Gomer Elementary. Really! But I learned where it was! I drove there 183 days a year from 1983-1999. That’s 2880 round trips…I did the math! Gomer is in Allen County, northwest of Lima, Ohio, southwest of Toledo It’s on old 30, Old Lincoln Highway. Back in 1914 when it was built, it was the main east/west highway across the USA.
This picture shows the oldest part of Gomer. In 1914 the building was brand-new, and it was named the Sugar Creek Township High School. That’s when seven tiny schools came together to make a new, larger one. As time passed the name changed to Gomer. The last superintendent was Ed Sandy. In 1969 Gomer became part of Elida Schools, and Ed became Elida's new assistant superintendent. When I arrived in 1983, he was still there, still involved with Gomer.
Find the power lines in the picture and follow them to the tallest tree. My first classroom was behind that tree, on the top floor. The room felt like it was carved out of an attic, just big enough for me, 5 students, a table, and a few cupboards. That was my school home till 1986. Every half hour, I would lead my group from the 3rd floor, down the stairs, through a long hallway, from the oldest part of the building to the newest section that was built in 1981. I’d drop off my group, pick a new one, and repeat. I worked with 5 students at a time for 30 minutes. It was a great job, but I wanted my own classroom. I wanted to teach more than just reading.
Do you see the section of the building that’s 3 stories high? The bottom set of windows was mine. I moved in and into second grade in 1986. By that time, I was married and was expecting my first baby. It was quite a year!
The best part of my room was the view, the parking lot. My students were never distracted, all they could see were tires.
Look at the picture again. Do you see the main doors? To the right was the office. That’s where I had my interview back in 1983.
The picture above was another view of the parking lot. The section sticking out was the library. It’s where I ate lunch with my school family for 16 years, 2880 days. Gomer was home!
The picture beside it was the playground and the middle section of the building. I’m not sure when it was built, but long after 1914. Do you see the last set of windows? I moved in across the hall from them, but I’m not sure when. I had my 2nd son in 1989, my daughter in 1992. I wasn’t pregnant, so 1990 is a good guess. In the late 80’s and 90’s I measured time by my kids. In 1990 my boys were 3 and 1. They kept me busy!
I spent 9 years in that classroom. It was my favorite because it was HUGE! Perfect for teaching, and for indoor recess! The rooms down the hall were new, but tiny. I'll take big and old every time.
This was the Gomer Gym where my kids went for PE, assemblies, and programs. Every year for 13 years I brought my kids here for Christmas program practice and performances. It was the most wonderful time of year!
In May 1999 I left Gomer. Elida consolidated buildings and sent grades K-3, and me, into Elida. Grades 4-5 stayed out at Gomer. I heard Gomer was heaven. It made me wonder where I'd gone, no LOL! When the intermediate grades returned to Elida 2 years later, I heard that 4th/5th graders were sobbing. OK, they were girls, but they were crying, about leaving. That's when Kindergarten was sent to Gomer, and once more I heard Gomer was heaven. It was!
Gomer almost hit the century mark. It closed 2 years early, in May of 2012, at 98 years old. So sad.
This was my last trip to Gomer. I was there for a staff reunion in 2013 or 2014. I don’t remember when, but I remember empty rooms and hallways where there once was so much life, my life. It was so sad, and so happy. I saw many of the people who helped me grow from single to married to mother of 3. They mentored me, became my family. A few became new Facebook friends. There’s no place like home!
I drove out through the alley that ran beside the playground one last time. Gomer was beautiful, with old trees and a perfectly groomed baseball diamond, Ed Sandy Field. Ed loved that diamond so much that kids had to ask permission to chase down their recess balls. Really!
In my memory I can see my 2nd graders jogging down that alley singing a marine chant that Gomer kids who were as good as gold. They loved our gym teacher, a former Marine and avid bodybuilder. There really was no place like Gomer!
This is what my playground looked like before demolition. It's where I did recess duty for 16 years, but the equipment was already gone. The picture beside it is the beginning of the end. The trees are down, and so is the building behind it.
Demolition on Gomer Elementary started July 25, 2018. This is what it looked like that day. A day later I took some German kids on a tour of Wapak’s Courthouse, but it was renovated, even though it’s over 100, That’s young compared to buildings in Germany. It’s sad that it’s cheaper to tear down old buildings and build new ones, than it is to renovate them, but…it’s the American way.
So Goodbye Gomer. Thank you for 16 great years, for the friends I made, the kids I taught, and for being a place my own children loved to visit. There was no place like Gomer. I'll buy a brick or two to help me remember my Gomer family and friends.
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!