Letter From The Editor (April 2012)

Letter From The Editor
Lessons Learned, Lost, and Re-Learned 

From A Childhood Safe haven

While some things in life aren’t as fun the second time around, whether’s it’s changing tastes in food, clothes, etc, some things seem bring comfort and joy like nothing else does. Like a good book, movie or song, there are television shows that have that magic quality that can’t be easily defined and rarely can explain in words.

One such show for me: The Busy World of Richard Scarry.

This show was often what gave me the strength to face another day, and after I left home for preschool and first grade, I’d often try to program the VCR to record while I was away, often it never worked, which is more a commentary on how tech illiterate I was then compared to now. Which is why I was ecstatic when we got our first DVR cable box, no tapes, and setting up recordings was WAY easier, and unlike VHS tapes, they never wear out.
Later, you could even record shows with the television off. 

I used to wear out VHS tapes I had of this show (Don’t know what VHS is? Feel free to look it  up or call Mom, I’ll wait…) which I recorded or rented back when Blockbuster still had “Video” in their name, in the pre-Netflix era, when HDTV was still a pipe dream, at least for the non-millionaires.

Anyway (Sorry for going This Old Tech on you)Fast forward to last year, when the series started releasing on DVD, after being off the air (In the U.S. anyway) for over a decade, and I bought one, and happily, it’s as enchanting as I remembered it, but the reason this is a focus in my letter is not what you might think if you’ve followed T.A.A. for some time. 

We read books, not just to inform entertain, or both, but also to escape from the craziness that cane overwhelm our lives, and make us lose touch with others and ourselves. As I touched on in the start of this letter, gave me the opportunity to see a world I wished I could live in, a world where I had the freedom my grandmother and mother had when they were children. To best illustrate this, I will use a familiar song to prove my point-

Hey! It’s time to laugh and play (So have a happy day!)

If you think only baby boomers are stuck in the past, think again.

Those of you raised on 21st century luxuries may not understand where I come from, but there was a time when the happiest things in life didn’t come from the internet, or the latest Apple whatever.

I was a late 20th century kid (Later an Early 21st century teen) who longed for the past. Back to a time when you could have adventures in your backyard, a tree house with secret handshakes and candy bars where even the strictest of parents would never find them. To hang out with my posse of friends without it needed triple strength parental supervision, and needing a ride wasn’t a way of life.

Even today, what small towns lack in trendy malls and gourmet food stores (Which I would miss, being a foodie) it more than makes up for in freedom and exploration that many kids, especially in cities or strict parental eyes, rarely experience outside books, or movies, and even video games.

Lots of things to do and see (It’s so much fun to be…!)

Part of a world where you don’t need a carpool to explore your neighborhood.

Nowadays, it seems the time to enjoy being a kid grows shorter and shorter, and the pressure to grow up gets more and more intense, and if strict parental upbringing wasn’t hard enough, pressure from teachers and society doesn’t help, and while some students need that extra help, we shouldn’t force it in a way that makes an already trying stage of life a living nightmare, and I hope there are parents, teachers, and other caregivers or education insiders who get the real  dangers of pushing academics, however valid, to the extreme.  

Cracking the whip on academics doesn’t mean parents or teachers have to “Crack a kid’s resolve in half!” it should never mean that. We’re trying to inspire and raise future generations of responsible and respectful adults, not turn them into neurotic, bottom line, money- grubbing megalomaniacs, am I right?

I’m not a parent, and I am definitely not a teacher, and as much I as I don’t want to unfairly tread on toes of those who are, as someone who didn’t get the benefits of having two sane parents, a home that was welcoming and comforting, however small, and siblings you lucked out in liking to be with, you come at this from a different (No LESS valid) perspective.

As much as I hated living the opposite of so many around me, it made me the writer I am today, because I can see what folks thrice my age really don’t get, or even care to get, which is really distressing for the kids they’re trying to teach.

Since many of the mom writers I know are the opposite extreme to my mom, and they know who they are, I have hope that my greatest fear mentioned above will not be the epidemic that seems to be more common with each passing year in this century thus far.

We’ll keep your spirits soaring (While we’re exploring—our busy world…)

During my teen years, when the whole “dark” aspects to life seemed to be glorified to the 11th degree, in the books and movies aimed at my demographic, I was still watching the kids shows on PBS and early Nick Jr. stuff (Pre-1999-2000, just before Dora exploded on the scene). I also became more interested in pleasure reading at that time, but instead of classic Judy Blume or some ambitious “adult” novel, I was reading middle grade fiction, and the occasional picture book, and my own original fiction writing began some time later.

You can make a lot of friends (The good times never end!)

Sadly, I made few real offline friends, and those I did either moved away or grew apart, or whose parents hated me and forbade me to play with them (But that’s another story for a different Letter from the Editor), and often I have to be my own friend, not always easy, and not the same, but it can be done. This often results in feeling awkward at social events, the few I’ve outside school, so the less invasive nature of the internet made it easier to connect, and while people sometimes misread me, at least a lisp or talking faster than a chipmunk auctioneer helped.

Each adventure and surprise (Will open up your eyes…!)

While I continue my struggle to embrace this concept in real life, in my imagination it’s second nature.

One (Arguably, ONLY!) advantage to being a loner is you get to know yourself in a way some extremist extroverts may not be in tune with, and while no one likes a self-obsessed prick (Or selfish grump, to be more kid-centric) there are time when focusing on you does others as much good as it will you.

I had to live in my head a lot growing up. Before I was a reader, it meant throwing myself into the television shows and movies I loved. I was also into gaming, especially RPGs, whether that was an early sign I’d be a storyteller later on I’ve yet to figure out, but I didn’t become the reader I am today until my teen years.

While I knew I wasn’t the only odd one out, it wasn’t until I began my writer’s journey this started to sink in.

I (virtually) met my support team of writers who remind me that I didn’t suffer alone, for they also weathered their storms of family troubles, crushed dreams, and constant identity reinvention.

While many of them weren’t trapped in their homes as I was, and in some ways still am, they persisted and earned whatever flexibility and successes they have, whether that’s a book deal, getting an agent, or just moving out of the house, none of which I can say yet. I can only hope to be half as helpful to someone else one day.

Every day there’s something new (And you’re invited too!)

No matter if your 2 or 22, 10 going on 30, 25 going on 50, or whatever’s in-between or beyond, for most people, life got better later, so maybe that’s the path I’m on now. 

I haven’t arrived at my major destinations yet, and despite what some timeless sayings preach, the journey to get there’s simply is FAR from a joy in itself in my case, so I cling to what little optimism I can most days, however illogical. We’re not robots, you know.

Still, there are days when I wish I could upload a “Anger Free” program into myself, and would anything to turn off my “Envy-Inferiority to other writers” switch.

Many great poets often say something to the effect of “No one lives without suffering.”

Here’s what I say, “Suffering may be part of life, but we’re not given life to only know suffering, for that’s a life I wish on no one.”

So, in closing, say it with me-

IT’S TIME TO START THE SHOW! (The Show of Life, that is.)

Best Wishes and Cheesecake,
From your busy editor and literary rat,

How a Scarry World Gave Me Courage

I’ve got a confession to make. When I was a kid, I wasn’t the book-crazed fanatic I am today, and like most kids who was a devotee of television,

The real problem for me not finding the joys of reading earlier in life was simply this-

I never found books I would read without teachers forcing me to. With few exceptions, I think all writers truly blossom when they finally find those books, and discover the writers who wrote them.

While they were parts of my childhood that I never want to relive, it was in some ways the best parts of my life. My grandma worked longer hours than she does now, and her past jobs were no where near as stressful as her current gig as a state social worker, and while we certainly bumped heads in that uniquely parent vs. child kind of way, it was much easier to forigve the times when we got too fed up with each other.

Recently I bought the DVD that released last fall, around the same time I was first getting things rolling with T.A.A.

It’s been well over a decade since I last watched this show, and like with all blasts from the past, there’s always that fear it won’t stand the test of time, since what may have moved me and gave me a chance to laugh, when my own life brought only anger or tears, no longer gave me that hopeful feeling I lost from age 12 to today.

 off things that otherwise would only create anger and bitter-not-so-sweet moments.

After a few minutes in, I was relieved, it was just like I remembered it, and it still makes me smile in all the right ways.


For those of writers who don’t also illustrate their own books, I think we learn to appreciate even moreso the true art, craft, and dedication professional illustrators have to giving visuals to all the dreams, nightmares, and everything in between in life.

I drew more as kid than when I got older, and wasn’t all that good at it, but I loved working with colors, and next to English class, I loved taking art in school, it was one of the few times in my early years where I wasn’t bound to a severely strict way of looking at things. It saddens me that so many art programs get cut, and I think it does kids a serious disservice.

Especially because my school experience wasn’t all that hopeful, even taking bully troubles out of the picture, I’m a firm believer that kids need these kind of creative outlets, because for better or worse, adults control so much in their lives now, they have a right to have something, ANYTHING, that brings them joy, and learn something worthwhile about themselves, regardless if it can go on a college resume or not, and while many parents/teachers/writers tell me kids don’t think about that stuff in grade school and junior high, in my opinion, they’re kidding themselves.

When we talk education these days, we treat it like a job we force on kids or teens, and that those who can’t excel in school will never make it in the “Real World.”

But here’s the thing, I’m not now, nor have I ever been against the pursuing the best possible education you can give yourself, and what I’m sure all parents want for their kids, that’s a noble and shameless thing.


Those who tell me this maybe find that’s true for their students, but it’s not fair to

We need to give kids and teens, especially those whose early education was like living the life of a solider in war that’s gone on since before even their grandparents were born, and shows no signs of ending until one or both sides are completely dead, whichever comes first, since any chance of either sides surrendering or mutally agree to a ceasefire are slim, if not impossible, and while real soilders will complain that Hollywood always getis it wrong for the sake of not putting movie goers to sleep, there’s one thing I know has to be clear, War is Hell, and no matter who’s right or wrong in whatever got people to this point, loss and traegdy is the same no matter what side you’re on.

There many kids and teens today who may not be acedemically inclined, but are still as far from being brain dead and dumb as you can get. Th

I try not to get on my soapbox too often, but I hope that one day, someone will come across this on the net, and feel understood, because the only thing worse than the pain we all bear but can’t always fix, is feeling you’re totally alone.

While people often associate this is a female-centric thing, boys need to hear this too, and if not from their own fathers, for some male figure in their life who while may not always understand exactly how it feels, especially in the days when gender sterotypes were a way of life, especially for women,

The first step to healing from any kind of heartbreak, whether it’s a friendship marriage, parent to child or sibling to sibling, is acknowledging the pain is real. Yes, we can’t let it shut us down forever, but we make it harder on ourselves and others when we deny there’s a problem at all, that actually makes it harder to “Move on” than just saying plain and simple, “I’m overwhelmed and I’m in REAL pain.”

While a lot of us who know we have certain mental shortcomings, we too often treat it like a joke, and while that helps many people cope and avoid too much self-criticism, we need to be careful of how we express that understanding to others.

1. Beatrix Potter
2. Richard Scarry

I know many of my favorite writers had a lifelong bond with books I only started to have when the teen years were in full swing.
When I