JANUARY
CELEBRATING CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE – WOMEN’S FICTION


01-19-19 – Judith Ashley – My Sanctuaries and Safe Havens: Writing and Spiritual Practices

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Yippee. 2018 is coming to a close

Hi everyone! 

I am Young Adult and Middle Grade author Barbara Binns, writer of contemporary and realistic fiction for adolescents and teens. As my tagline says, I write Stories of Real Boys Growing Into Real Men - and the people who love them.  My debut MG novel, Courage, was recently published by Harper Collins. It's a great read for this, or any season. 

Check my books out at http://babinns.com


It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. 

That line is true, not only for the French Revolution as depicted in Charles Dickens' novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, but also for me and the entire year of 2018.

Best of Times:

2018 saw the long-delayed publication of my middle grade novel, Courage - https://www.amazon.com/Courage-Barbara-Binns/dp/0062561650.  Kirkus not only gave Courage a favorable review, they also printed an interview with me - https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/barbara-binns/.

I had numerous opportunities to share my knowledge with others.
  1. At the Illinois Library Association conference in Peoria, Il, I spoke with librarians on ways they can perform outreach to various diverse populations. Afterward, the public library in Matteson, Il invited me to reprise that topic for their staff who could not attend the conference. 
  2. The Sauk Valley school in Illinois invited me in to speak to parents and teachers about helping reluctant readers. And I already have an engagement for next March at the University of Illinois.
  3. I gave a Webinar for KidLitNation http://kidlitnation.com/home/resources/webinars/ about my journey to publication.
  4. I hosted a presentation at the Spring Fling Writer’s romance writer's conference in Schaumburg on the subject of diverse writing. Plus, I got a new agent. Thank you Spring Fling!
  5. I also spoke at the Romance Slam Jam conference for readers and authors of black romance, about the art of crafting Heroes & Heroines. Being there felt a lot like coming home.
  6. I helped youth, by judging at Chicago's annual Louder Than A Bomb  poetry slam in January, and at the City of Chicago Annual Science Fair in March.

I also had chances to learn from others.


While attending the Joint Conference of Librarians of Color , (JCLC) I had an opportunity to be part of a half-day seminar called Beyond the Racial Stalemate, which was facilitated by  people trained at the W. K. Kellogg Foundation - https://www.wkkf.org/.   For more information on this intense experience on communication and racial healing look at a blog post I wrote for JCLC at: http://www.jclcinc.org/conference/2018/beyond-the-racial-stalemate/ 

Last, but certainly not least, my daughter had her thirtieth birthday this year (talk about feeling old).

Worst of times:

Did I mention I got a new agent this year? She really liked the two manuscripts I sent her, saying, “Nice start.” AKA, let me see what you can really do because these need to be changed.

Fortunately, she and I talked and she gave me a good idea of where her thoughts were. She felt they were too old for a middle grade market, something I was shooting for.

I have finally re-written one of them two. I'm calling it Duets, and it's a story about some cello playing middle graders living in a south suburb of Chicago and daring to dream big. So big, that by the time I finished the rewrite I looked up to see it was almost Christmas. There's really no point in sending it to my agent until next year. I just fear that by then I will probably see more problems on the pages and want to rewrite from scratch all over again.

One of the things that made the re-write so slow was recent cataract surgery. That killed my ability to see, and to write, for awhile. Ditto for some intense pains in my knees caused by worsening arthritis. The pains grew so bad, I agreed to an experimental treatment that Medicare did NOT pay for. Even the sticker shock beat the idea of knee replacement surgery. I am now back to walking and even climbing stairs again, with no pains strong enough to keep me from writing.

JCLC marked my second time being part of a Beyond The Racial Stalemate seminars, I also attended one in 2017 at the American Library Association conference. In spite of that, and the seminar's intense focus on communication issues, I still fell into a “failure to communicate” trap with some Facebook friends on diversity initiatives. I'm still not sure that friendship can be salvaged. Facebook is a poor communication device. Not even emojis help or replace real face-to-face content, which

And, as much as I loved being part of the JCLC, my heart had a reaction to the altitude in Albuquerque. The slightest exertion (and I mean just walking across the street from the hotel to the convention center) had me completely out of breath. My cardiologist recently ordered an echo cardiogram to see what might be happening inside me.  (I'm still waiting for the results)

My session at Spring Fling went okay. EXCEPT for technology issues that made me unable to show my presentation on the screen! All that time spent on preparing visual effects, only to be undone by a machine I didn't understand.  I had wing the talk without visuals.  I still have nightmares.

2018 was the last year the Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Science Fair will be together.  Although the event has been hosted by the Museum of Science and Industry for almost 70 years, the museum announced it would not continue doing so after 2018.  I'm not sure of the new location, or how that will effect my ability to continue volunteering.

And now, at year's end, the stock market appears to be struggling to reduce me to poverty. Plus, I've heard several Indie Authors reporting unexpected declines in revenue.

At least it's almost the End of Times

It’s now time to sit down to my annual viewing of Die Hard, my favorite Christmas Movie of all time. The season doesn’t really start until I watch Hans Gruber plunge from the Nakatomi Building.

It also doesn’t start until I wish you all a very happy holiday season. And Great Expectations for 2019!

3 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

An eventful year for sure, BA!

Sending positive energy your way for a healthy 2019, seeing your name "in lights" as you do more workshops, presentation, etc. And, may you continue to write amazing books that draw those reluctant readers into the world of books.

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great post, B.A.! Your 2018 definitely had ups and downs. I hope you'll get good news on your health, and have more ups in the coming year.

Maggie Lynch said...

Wow! You have had to deal with lots of mountains and valleys this past year. I think in many ways that is a reflection of the larger public as well. Sorry to hear about your health challenges. All those things, cataracts, joints, and breathing are so important to life. I think as we age, and I'm right there with you, these are little reminders that we've paid a lot of dues. Whenever I have a health scare I remind myself I am so happy I'm alive today when we have so much more options for getting better. I hope your heart situation is something that proves to be easily fixed.

I hear you on the stock market trying to reduce you to poverty. It is true that many indies have seen reductions in their sales. But I think a part of that are the changes in software and reporting at many vendors that are still getting ironed out. And once they are, people will rebound. However, it is also the increased competition and market swings.

I'm truly sorry to hear that "I'm still not sure that friendship can be salvaged. Facebook is a poor communication device." I've seen that happening all over the web this year. When communication is only through technology I think it is easy to forget that there is a human on the other side of those posts or emails. Some people feel free to express their emotions--anger, sadness, happiness--without filters because they can't see you or have to face you and your reaction.

I have taken to hiding or not reading certain family members and friends during this time of great anger because they are unable to consider anything but annihilation of the other side at this point. I don't believe that is their true nature, but rather that binary thinking is encouraged and rewarded on the internet as opposed to considering multiple options or any sort of compromise. My hope is that they will come around at a later date when the world isn't so directed by binary thinking leaders.

You are a smart and caring person. I hope your 2019 is shaping up to be wonderful for you. You work hard, have put lots of things in place, and now it is a matter of executing your plan. I'm pulling for you to have an amazing year.