Nellie Bly

I don’t remember the first time I heard of Nellie Bly. I may have been around the same age as my character Kit in The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan, or I may have been a couple of years younger.

I’m pretty sure I discovered her in the biography section of my school library, a place a spent an inordinate amount of time reading books about a wide range of women – all of whom seemed like women who did things I might want to do when I grew up or had characteristics I wanted to grow in myself. I spent a lot of time with Amelia Earhart (bold), Carol Burnett (savvy and funny), Rosa Parks (brave) and Laura Ingalls Wilder (who at some point decided her own regular life was worth turning into a story). I’m guessing somewhere in there I read about Nellie Bly, and her spunk, determination, and down-right gutsy nature stuck with me.

I didn’t consciously or purposely put Nellie Bly in my novel. She just showed up – right at the perfect time – and gave my character the exact thing she needed to complete her story arc. Writing – when it’s working – is often part magic. Sometimes things come to you in a flash of insight and luck, and sometimes your subconscious hands you the key you didn’t even know you needed. Either way, it’s a sort of alchemy – time travel coupled with story structure sprinkled with fairy dust from the muse. And it’s awesome. 🙂

I’m working on a new book now, so my thoughts are scattered in a thousand directions and far away from the early 1900’s and news rooms. Maybe that’s why coming across this Brain Pickings article about Nellie Bly felt a little like running into an old friend. It took me back – to writing The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan and to that younger version of me reading book after book about interesting and  inspirational women.

The article is fun, plus it contains an animated documentary. Check it out. Maybe she’ll become one of your inspirations too.

 “As the most famous woman journalist of her day, as an early woman industrialist, as a humanitarian… Bly kept the same formula for success: Determine Right. Decide Fast. Apply Energy. Act with Conviction. Fight to the Finish. Accept the Consequences. Move on.”

Nellie Bly Makes the News: An Animated Documentary About the Investigative Journalism Pioneer Who Paved the Way for Women in Media

 

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Middle Grade Books About Friendship

Middle Grade Books About Friendship | Children | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI was over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Novels blog last month talking about friendship. In the post, I featured some of my favorite middle grade books about friendship.

Head over to the blog to check out the post and maybe grab one of these middle grade books about friendship to take back to school with you and share with a new friend.

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Changing Seasons

Changing Seasons | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI was hiking with my husband the other evening, taking pictures of the sunset and listening to the coyotes call to one another across the sagebrush, when I notice the change in light, the shift in the particular shade of blue that defines the summer sky in this part of the country. It’s turned darker, deeper. A color that signifies the change in seasons here on the high desert. A color that, to my eye, means means the beginning of the the end of summer.

The next morning I woke to Eric Nixon’s fine poem, “Peak Summer”,  in my inbox. A little reminder to grab all the summer you can get, before it’s gone.

Peak Summer
by Eric Nixon

We’re steeped deep in summer
And everything around me
Seems to indicate it’ll never end
But still I’m spending time
Looking for the subtle signs
Trying to figure out when
We’ve reached peak summer
When the billion green trees
Start to dull ever so slightly
When the bounty of vegetables
Found at all the local farm stands
Start thinning in quantity and quality
When the Halloween candy
Appears in the supermarkets
And the Back To School! signs
Show up in the big box stores
When the sun sets a little earlier
And gets a little more noticeable
Each night, night after night
Until you start thinking about
How much daylight you’ve lost
All of the signs and all of the things
I’ve been noticing are telling me
That we’re right in the midst of
Peak summer and if I’m not careful
It’ll be completely over
And I’ll have missed it entirely
As the season folds into fall

“Peak Summer” by Eric Nixon from Equidistant. © Double Yolk Press, 2019

How do you know summer’s on the way out in your neck of the woods? Let me know in the comments section.

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Friendship

Laura | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com
My beautiful friend Laura is in the process of leaving this life. The news is both not completely unexpected, and, still, surprisingly sudden. Laura’s  been my writing buddy, my cheerleader, and my regular Wednesday coffee date for years now, and I’m going to miss her wit, her energy, her smile, and her writing more than I can pretend to know.

We took this picture last summer as part of a project she was doing. She photographed a day in her life – a day that consisted of breakfast and writing talk with me, a quiet memoir writing session on her beautiful deck, meditation group, and a glass of wine before dinner. Her days were the kind you dream about. A perfect mix of friends and family, of extroversion and introversion, of good wine, and good books, and deep conversation. The kind of day that comes from a lifetime of figuring yourself out and knowing what matters.

That’s Laura. Funny and smart. And forever herself. She has been my believing mirror – the person Julie Cameron says help us see ourselves and our dreams in the most positive light. The person who cheers us on when we are most doubtful of our abilities.

I only hope I have been that for her, too.

<3

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Middle Grade New Releases for July

Middle Grade New Releases |fourth-of-july-2458716_1920 | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comI’m over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Novels blog this week talking about all the wonderful books hitting the shelves this month. In between fireworks, backyard barbecues, and summer hikes through wild flower fields, grab one of these new books and settle in for a some fun reading.

And have a safe, happy, and fire-free Fourth of July!

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An Update and a Link to A Revision Resource

I’ve been a little MIA here at the blog the last two months. Between work, revising my novel, and dealing with an illness it’s been a little chaotic in my world. But things are finally moving out of stuck mode, which means, I should be back to blogging – and writing – regularly again.

Fingers crossed 🙂

I have managed to keep up with my posing duties over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors, so check out my last post over there – Writing Books: A Revision Resource Round-Up.

I also came across some fun mentions of Kit on other blogs and books lists – including the always amazing A Mighty Girl site. You can find links to them here.

Thanks for sticking around.

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Camp NanoWriMo

CampNanoWriMo | campnanowrimo-badge | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s April – long past time for me to put pen to paper and fingers to keyboard and get serious about revising my work in progress. I’ve let it sit. I’ve had a friend read a good chunk of it and offer feedback. I’ve studied story and plot, opening scenes and endings. I’ve taken a ton of notes. And I’ve had a few hopeful moments where it has seemed that there is a story in there worth resurrecting.

And I’m not one to discount hopeful moments.
All of this is to say that I should be ready. Ready to rework and tighten, toss and rewrite.

Maybe I am.

April first is the start of Camp Nanowrimo, a 30 day writing challenge from the folks who bring us writers Nanowrimo – only this time with more flexibility. Do what you want for 30 days and track it by word count, time, lines, pages – whatever works for you.

The point is to the use the community energy and the public accountability to get you moving. To get you writing. Or, as in my case, revising.

And it works. I know it works because I’ve written two full novels (one of which became my debut) by participating in Nanowrimo’s 30 day challenge.

Still, I’m not sure if I want to do this. I used to be really great at sticking to things under all kinds of circumstances. I used to be great at finishing what I’ve started. But lately, I’ve been really bad at it. So bad that the thought of trying and failing feels scary. Way scary. You’ll never ever be able to do this scary.

I really don’t want one more example of how my normally great ability to persevere has waned in the last year or so. But I also kind of want to test it. To challenge it. To see if I can build it back up – like a misused and injured muscle.

Which is a drawn-out way to say that I guess I’m going to try it. Why not? April is all about resurrection and rebirth after all. And maybe Camp Nanowrimo will be just the thing to bring this novel to life. I fully intend to give it my best try.

Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it went at the end of the month.

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Renewal

Renewal | Crocus | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

“That is one good thing about this world…there are always sure to be more springs.”
L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Some years, L.M. Montgomery’s truth is hard to believe. Some years, it feels like winter will never end, the sun will never shine, and the books will never be finished.

I started every day this month standing on my front porch, searching my flower bed for the promise of Spring – the purple crocus I planted that never fails to bring me my first glimmer of hope that the winter will end, the sun will shine, and life will be renewed.

This year that search took on a different quality – a desperate quality – as if not just Spring, but everything – me, my writing, my career, all of it – depended on a glimpse of purple blossoms in a muddy, snow-lined patch of dirt.

I checked every day, and every day, the flower bed was empty.

Until yesterday. Yesterday, I stopped looking in the usual place, right next to the porch, and let my eyes wander the entire length of the front flower bed. And there it was. Not the one tiny crocus I was expecting, but two big plants – one lavender, one purple, both full and open and smiling in the sun.

Renewal | Crocus 2 | www.patriciabaileyauthor.com

Spring had arrived – just not in the exact place I had expected.

I’m hoping I will be able to say the same for myself – and for my writing.

Today, I launch into revising a novel that has taken me too long to write. A novel that has struggled to live underground as I wandered through a two-year long winter of my own. I know it won’t be the same book I expected it to be when I jotted the baby beginnings of the idea on an index card, but that’s okay.

It will be something different. Something fresh. Something new – springing out of all that those two years have taught.

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March New Releases

krokus - March New Releases - www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s been an interesting 2019 so far – and a fast-moving one. I cannot believe it’s already time to usher in March! Did I mention March is one of my favorite months of the year? It carries with it the promise of Spring, bushels of tulips, and the birthdays of some of my very favorite people (plus my own).

And it’s bringing in a whirlwind of new Middle Grade books.

This week, I’m over at the From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors with a list of March New Releases designed to fill all of your reading needs on the blustery and the sunshiney days March is sure to be full of. Check the post out, then head back over here and let me know what you think of this year’s March New Releases.

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Presidents Day

presidents-day | american-flag | www.patriciabaileyauthor.comIt’s Presidents Day, and I’m over at the From The Mixed-Up Files of Middle-Grade Authors blog talking with my writing friends about middle grade characters who would make great presidents. One of them even suggested Kit for president!

I was too shy to put it on the list over there, but I’ll share it with you all here.

 

Kit Donovan (From The Tragically True Adventures of Kit Donovan by Patricia Bailey). Kit is fearless! She stands up to bullies, she fights for justice, and she doesn’t quit. Kit would be an amazing president!

Janet Sumner Johnson, Author of THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE THE PB and J SOCIETY.

Read the rest of my post – Charlotte For President!! – over at From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors and nominate your favorite Middle Grade Character!

And, Happy Presidents Day!

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