All posts by lrwlee

The Inspiring Parents of Seahawks’ Derrick Coleman Jr.

SeattleI live in Texas, so you will understand when I say I do not follow the Seattle Seahawks. I’ve never been to Washington State. In fact, the closest I’ve come to anything related to Seattle is watching umpteen “Fraiser” episodes.

So it may surprise you when I say I’ve fallen in love with the parents of fullback Derrick Coleman, but it’s true.

You may recall a moving Duracell commercial that aired a year ago when Seattle was preparing for last year’s Super Bowl. It featured the first-ever, legally deaf NFL player, Derrick Coleman Jr. and advocated trusting the power within to overcome obstacles. As I dried my tears, my curiosity sparked. This success required support and powerful narratives. I had to know more about his parents.

DColeman
Photo courtesy of handsandvoices.org

Derrick Coleman Sr. is a writer and a quieter soul. May Hamlin, Derrick Jr.’s mom, is more vocal, calling herself “very opinionated.” I found her to be warm, articulate and a passionate advocate.

When they received the diagnosis of Derrick’s deafness at age three, May admits, “I was heartbroken.” Derrick Sr. said, “We went through thoughts, ‘How do we deal with this? What kind of life will he have?’ Our heads were spinning.”1 Pushing aside their grief, they tapped into their courage and set out to help their son. May went to work on Derrick’s lagging verbal skills by engaging him in lots of conversation. They resolved that, despite his challenge, not to treat Derrick differently. And they adopted a “no excuses” policy where hearing could never be made the culprit.

Life in elementary school added more heart-wrenching challenges for the couple. May shared that some of the toughest moments were watching Derrick walk with his head down because no one wanted to play with him or eat with him because of his hearing aids.3 She added, “You try to be calm and hold it together for your child, but inside its tearing you up. But you don’t want to show that…You want to tell them it’s gonna be okay. You can get through this.”5 May equipped her son with a powerful response: Derrick remembers, “My mom always said people who make fun of you and try to bring you down…They’re trying to bring you down to their level.”4

FootballIn the midst of these trials, Derrick took a liking to football and wanted to try out for his local Pop Warner team. Afraid he might further damage his hearing, Derrick Sr. did not immediately agree, but Derrick Jr persisted until his dad finally gave in. May knew if her son was going to succeed, she would need to “put my all into it.”

And she did, innovating ways to keep his hearing aids in and more.

And what happened? At first seeing Derrick play, his father recalls, “I was like, ‘Wow this kid can play football’. I would be running up and down the field right alongside with him…and started to feel…‘Hey, he has something.” 2 Yet critics filled the bleachers. May revealed, “I couldn’t sit around people in fear that they would say something negative about his hearing. [Derrick] knew exactly where I sat, all the way at the top, all alone by myself.”2

Derrick excelled at UCLA and hoped to be drafted in 2012. But coaches could not see past his hearing challenges. “It still hurts, as a mom.” But things changed when the Seahawks gave him a chance in 2013 and he went on to help them win the Super Bowl.

May and Derrick Sr. set out to help their child realize his dream—it’s what parents do. What they did not anticipate is the legacy they have created: Derrick’s story has inspired hundreds of physically and mentally challenged children to dream. Looking at the hope in the eyes of these kids and hearing the narratives they have borrowed from Derrick to combat bullies and spur themselves on with No Excuses, nearly brings me to tears. It’s beautiful.

I doubt I will ever have the privilege of meeting Derrick or May, but if I ever do, I would ask them where they learned their narratives, for like those that I weave throughout my books, they are empowering, but rare, and don’t just pop out of thin air.

(Post originally published on L. R. W. Lee’s blog at bit.ly/1uSZfvD)

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Linda3L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson fantasy, adventure series of which three of the seven total books have been released to date. Book four in the series, Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace, is expected in Spring 2015.

She writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband, daughter and son.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

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Sources:

View the Duracell commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzQFA2hxyRQ

http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/17/sports/sp-coleman17
http://abled.com/2014/01/18/abledpeople-derrick-coleman-the-seattle-seahawks-fullback-who-s-inspiring-a-generation-of-deaf-fans/
http://www.adayinmotherhood.com/derrick-coleman/
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/deaf-nfl-player-derrick-coleman-inspires-on-and-off-the-field/
http://www.examiner.com/article/interview-derrick-coleman-s-mom-may-hamlin-on-parenting-bullying-power-within

New Release by Emblazon Author L. R. W. Lee

Andy_Smithson_CoverBk3_205x308

The wait is over! Book Three of this highly-rated fantasy series is now available in Kindle eBook and paperback at Amazon.

Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor is the third offering in L. R. W. Lee’s well-received Andy Smithson allegorical, fantasy, adventure series for middle graders – a planned seven-book series.

In Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor, Andy discovers more than he bargained for when his parents reveal his mom’s past and he realizes she will die when he breaks the curse unless he intervenes.

Now twelve, Andy returns to Oomaldee to find its citizens on edge after many have been turned into vulture-people. Against this background, Andy and his company embark upon the next quest, to retrieve the horn of a unicorn. But not long into it, a seductive voice calls to Andy, tempting him to surrender the next ingredient in exchange for a promise to preserve his mom. Will he be able to stop the transformation of Oomaldee’s citizens? Will he jeopardize his ability to end the curse to save Mom?

Available in Kindle and Paperback

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eBook 1, Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury is now FREE. Pick up a copy at Smashwords, Kobo, Google, B&N. You can also listen to the FREE podcast of Book 1 on iTunes. Book one is also available in paperback.


VoSC_Cover200x300

Book 2, Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning is available in Kindle and Paperback.

 

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Linda1L. R. W. Lee writes to teach her readers principles that can transform their lives – overcoming frustration, impatience, fear and more. She also shows why responsibility, diligence and dignity are the keys to true success in life. L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband, daughter and son.

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

 

Creating an Audio Book

pugMany authors seek to understand how to create an audio version of their book(s) to attract more followers. At face value, the process can seem complex and daunting. In the next few minutes, I hope to give you a one hundred-foot perspective to remove the scariness and get you on your way achieving your objective.

First and foremost, design a marketing plan for your audio book even before you create it. Without a plan to get others to notice, it will not matter how good it is. Set yourself up for success to realize profit on the time and effort you spend creating your audio book.

Next, you need to choose whether you will record the story yourself or have a professional narrator record it for you–cost is usually the primary concern, but allow me to expand your considerations. I have done both, so allow me to share insights I gleaned from creating a podcast of my first book, Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury on my own, versus my experience using ACX with a professional narrator for the audio book of my second book, Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning.

With Amazon’s acquisition of ACX, there are a host of professional narrators available to bring your story to life in ways the page cannot. With ACX, you can choose to either pay the narrator on an hourly basis leaving you the full profit after ACX fees, or you can do a revenue share to split the risk and reward. I recorded my audio book at ACX with a revenue share agreement because I had no history to go on to judge fan interest.

Things to consider when using a professional narrator:

  • Narrators are in this for the money, just like you. As such, interested narrators will want to know how you plan to market the audio book so they can gauge potential sales. Have a compelling marketing narrative at hand so prospective narrators will view you as a positive opportunity.
  • Do a gut check. An audio book is not the solution to slow book sales, but an additional distribution channel. If your books have not sold well, understand that you need to take care of your narrator’s income if you want him/her to be available to record more than one audio book, particularly if you have a series.
  • If you choose to pursue a narrator on ACX, your next step is to spec out your project and find qualified candidates. To do so, create an account on ACX.com and go to https://www.acx.com/help/authors/200484540 for specific next steps.

micIf you choose to record your book yourself, steps for success include:

  • Download free audio editing software from Audacity at http://bit.ly/1kKiX7q. I found this software very easy to use as a novice. It’s forgiving and will give you a quality product.
  • Purchase a condenser microphone. There are many inexpensive mics on the market, but if they are less than $75, they will not give you the clear sound you seek. I purchased the Audio-Technica AT2020 USB condenser microphone. This website (http://bit.ly/1t938Xd) has it for $99.
  • I also purchased Podcasting for Dummies and found it to be immensely helpful for all the specifics related to the Audacity software.
  • Use YouTube videos to learn specific tips about recording. There are a host of these videos at http://bit.ly/1kKl4In that give suggestions, among which include: have a glass of water handy, wear casual clothes so the fabric will not make noise when you move, and more.
  • If you want to make your book sound even more professional, consider adding some royalty free music. There are a host of selections for not a lot of money at musicbakery.com.
  • FYI: You can still distribute your book through ACX so you can leverage the power of Amazon.

Believe it or not, that’s it. This is the landscape for creating an audio book. I think you will agree it is not unreasonably complicated, even if you choose to do it yourself. To listen to my works:
Podcast of Book 1: Andy Smithson: Blast of the Dragon’s Fury – FREE on my website at http://bit.ly/1t9genw that I produced myself.
Sample of Book 2: Andy Smithson: Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning – at Amazon  http://amzn.to/1sMc4oU in which I used a professional narrator via ACX.

What questions can I answer about creating an audio book?

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Linda2L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson MG/YA coming of age fantasy adventure series. A planned 7-book series, the following are currently available:
Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Book One
Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book Two.
Book Three, Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor is coming October 13th!

She is a wife, mom and reader of the same kinds of books she writes. From age 8 she had a passion to write books that not only entertain, but also teach uncommon life principles. Learn more about her books, read sample chapters, watch trailers, see reviews and much more!

Connect with L. R. W. at: Twitter   Website   Facebook

 

Book Review: House of Secrets by Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus

MMGM is a weekly feature hosted each Monday on Shannon Messenger’s blog. Some of our authors participate on their individuals blogs. On occasion we’ll post one here.

HoS

I read the book “House of Secrets” by Ned Vizzini and Chris Columbus, director of the first and second Harry Potter films. With that as a resume for entertainment value with a description that sounded appealing, I had high hopes for this book.

The online description of the book reads, “Siblings Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything they could ever want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job. Now the family must relocate to an old Victorian house, formerly the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff—a house that simultaneously feels creepy and too good to be true. By the time the Walkers realize that one of their neighbors has sinister plans for them, they’re banished to a primeval forest way off the grid. Bloodthirsty medieval warriors patrol the woods around them, supernatural pirates roam the neighboring seas, and a power-hungry queen rules the land. To survive, the siblings will have to be braver than they ever thought possible—and to fight against their darkest impulses. The key may lie in their own connection to the secret Kristoff legacy. But as they unravel that legacy, they’ll discover that it’s not just their family that’s in danger . . . it’s the entire world.”

What I thought: This book had lots and lots and lots and lots of action and adventure to keep the reader’s interest. If you’re a middle grader, the target audience, the action will keep you engrossed without a doubt and you might even learn a bit about WWII, mythical creatures and more. A word of warning, some parts get a bit gory.

That said, the plot line is not clear and it feels like the book is crammed with action for action’s sake, not for building to a climax with a satisfying resolution after one’s investement of time and energy. Perhaps this is because some parts seemed overly repetitive. One example, the bad guys kept reappearing. I remember thinking, “Kill ‘em already!” This continual reappearance of the villians made the book overly long. The story could have been concluded as effectively in probably 3-4 fewer chapters.

As an author, I seek to create characters the reader can relate to. This in turn has us care deeply about how the conflict resolves. Unfortunately, the characters of the Walker children, their parents and the storybook folks lacked depth and it felt as though the main characters did not develop through their ordeal. I hate to say it but I was left not caring enough about the Walkers to read the following two books in the series.

The end was also disappointing as the situation resolves overly quickly making everyone suddenly live happily ever after. It reminded me of the joke about playing a country song backwards – the characters got their parents back, their house back in one piece and more, all within the last chapter.

This is Chris Columbus’ first middle grade novel so I’ll cut him some slack, and while it has action and adventure galore, it lacks in plot and character development. That said, if you are looking for a mindless, action-packed diversion, this is the book for you, for it dispenses that in abundance. Overall, I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Linda1L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson MG/YA coming of age fantasy adventure series. A planned 7-book series, the following are currently available:
Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Book One
Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book Two.
Book Three, Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor is coming Fall 2014
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She is a wife, mom and reader of the same kinds of books she writes. From age 8 she had a passion to write books that not only entertain, but also teach uncommon life principles. Learn more about her books, read sample chapters, watch trailers, see reviews and much more!
Twitter   Website   Facebook

 

Scriptores Scandalum

scientist1Today, I want to explore a creature most of us have experienced, but may not have realized the true nature of. I refer to Scriptores Scandalum, an invertebrate species. Similar to the jellyfish in its transparency, this being takes invisibility a step further and can become like the wind, should conditions merit. Unlike aquatic life, however, this animal is primarily land dwelling, able to adapt to virtually any climate and temperature on the planet. Scriptores Scandalum bears its young live, without the assistance of external incubation. The young are amazing, able to move with great agility and even forage independently immediately upon entry into the world.

Their diet consists primarily of the soft, fatty tissues of their prey; they do not eat bone. Scientists have observed a fascinating phenomenon, namely, these animals are attracted to blank paper and new Word documents, but can also be drawn to unfinished works.

scientistResearch reveals a single juvenile can significantly stymie, while a mature adult can completely staunch, the flow of the creative juices of its victim. After arduous study, officials recently identified a substance, similar to pheromones, that heightens the feeding urge of Scriptores Scandalum, namely frustration before a blank document. Scientists report that frustration at a level of object throwing can send this creature into a feeding frenzy while milder forms of discontent can produce a more benign sting. They have yet to unravel the connection between the strength of a bite and the length of frustration-induced time a writer is away from their work, but speculation abounds that stomping incites more aggressive behavior.

Some might call them cute with their poof-y faces and plethora of translucent, slender tentacles, but similar to bear cubs, one would be well advised not to get too close for doing so can result in anything from a mild sting to an all out attack by the full pod. It is to these unfortunate souls I wish to devote the remainder of this post, sharing my personal findings re: the most effective treatment of an attack.

After the initial sting, immediately, remove yourself from the work space. Take a long walk and calm down. As one releases frustration, the attractant declines. Sometimes this is the only step needed to gain a complete cure from a juvenile. If you find you have been stung by an adult, however, more intense action becomes necessary to restore the flow of your creative juices. Said steps are as follows:

1)      Accept that things should be exactly as they are. Repeat this phrase aloud until you believe it, in the depth of your being.

2)      Think back to the choices you made in your story line that produced your current situation and modify as necessary. Many times exploring new paths can produce possibilities you had not before considered for filling the empty document in a satisfactory manner.

Ideas3)      Brainstorm new elements or conflicts you can add to the plot to deepen the narrative and force the characters to confront inner flaws, external villains or the indifference of nature.

4)      Under NO circumstance utter or even think, “I have writer’s block”. There is no such thing, just as there is no such thing as Scriptores Scandalum (Latin for writer’s block). Have you ever seen a writer’s block? Let that notion go, for it serves only to feed ones frustration and prolong an attack. Recognize the problem for what it is: that you have yet to invent a narrative, nothing more. There’s no block. To many this may seem like semantics. Trust me when I say it is not. To hold a narrative you are being blocked only serves to deepen your stuck-ness. Understanding you have only to invent a narrative, something you do all the time as a writer, produces a very different possibility for creativity.

5)      Give yourself time for inspiration to strike. On some occasions, it has taken me a week or two to invent just the right scene to make a chapter ‘work’, but an idea always comes.

6)      For more severe cases of missing narratives, use an online creative writing prompt to get your creative juices flowing again. A few I like include:
Writing Forward – bit.ly/1iBT1mF
Creative Writing Prompts – bit.ly/1jdN9QG
Hogwarts Is Here – hogwartsishere.com

What are effective solutions you’ve found for inventing new narratives?

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Linda3L. R. W. Lee is the author of the Andy Smithson MG/YA coming of age fantasy adventure series. A planned 7-book series, the following are currently available:
Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, Book One
Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning, Book Two.
Book Three, Disgrace of the Unicorn’s Honor is coming Fall 2014
.

She is a wife, mom and reader of the same kinds of books she writes. From age 8 she had a passion to write books that not only entertain, but also teach uncommon life principles. Learn more about her books, read sample chapters, watch trailers, see reviews and much more!
Twitter   Website   Facebook