Monday, November 25, 2013

What was my inspiration for writing Dread the FRED?

Paperback Press CEO
Sharon Kizziah Holmes

Ashley DiFonzo, Conway high school student reporter for the Conway Chronicles posed a series of questions for me, the author of DREAD THE FRED YA nonfiction book. Her first question is the most important.

Q/A with Dr. Joyce Ragland, author of DREAD THE FRED nonfiction book:

1.    What was your inspiration in writing this book?

The short answer is to recognize the accomplishments of those involved in CHS’ Robotics Club. An academic event win at a national competition is huge for any high school and quadruple times so for a rural, poor school! 

book launch
The answer continued: As I interviewed more and more people, my inspiration included a broader goal of telling the back story as well as the immediate story. That is, I learned that the team of male drivers of the robot could not have entered the BEST competitions without the mock corporation and that was mostly done by the girls in the club. Students in the Robotics Club developed required t-shirts, the web site, the notebook, the table display, did fund-raising, and made up the Spirit Team –all important to the story – about thirty students. Moreover, they did the activities after school and on weekends. The book tells more than just building and competing with the robot, it includes the problems of raising the money needed all during the year, some gender differences in Club roles, competition for resources with other activities the community traditionally supports, dominance of robotics events by wealthy private and large public schools, a love story – and more.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Challenges, Successes, Transitions

My three-year term as the RA (Regional Advisor) for the SCBWI-Missouri chapter ends, I'm relieved, elated, and wistful. The appointment opportunity came at a time when I was fighting for dignity during a divorce where my now-ex tried to batter my sense of self, my personhood, and my emotions. He tried, but did not succeed. Being the SCBWI-MO RA gave me the opportunity to focus my energy into something positive. I now have three successful conferences behind me, many new friends, many new acquaintances, and a greater support system than I'd envisioned.

I am relieved to have the difficult parts of the position over, but glad that I succeeded despite obstacles.

I am elated to now have my creative nonfiction YA book, DREAD THE FRED in publication and thank SCBWI for the opportunity to learn from the best authors and editors in publishing.

I am wistful that the RA gig is ending, just as I've kinda sorta figured out the thing.  But my hand-picked Assistant is going to carry the torch to new heights and will probably invent a new torch while she's at it. Carry on Kimberly Ann Piddington, with my blessings and support - if needed.

We laughed, sniffled, got books autographed, learned from the best of the best, ate St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake, dined on great Italian (as only St. Louis can do) food and left the conference as friends, colleagues, inspired writers and illustrators.
SCBWI-MO collage by Peggy Archer

Joyce, in final SCBWI-MO conference RA mode

A new year resolution as of 19 November, 2013

All of a sudden the year is almost over and I've not prioritized time for my blog. My bad. This will change. I am making my new year resolution to precede my DREAD THE FRED book launch scheduled for 23 November, 2013.  Blame for lack of posting:

  • fear of blogging:  Yes, I fear that my posts will not be as interesting as the competition so I've been the shy one.  
  • priority given to others: As the RA for SCBWI-Missouri, I've spent more time attending to others' concerns than my own
  • throes of editing DREAD THE FRED:  That has caused brain lockup on many occasions, and the un-lock is thanks to Sharon Kizziah Holmes and her hybrid publishing company, Paperback Press
  • my NFP work:  Sadly, I'm blaming my Ella Art Company charity, altho it hasn't received as much quality time as needed to raise funds for my local Alzheimer's projects.  But I've affiliated with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, set up a GoFundMe campaign, and have a fund-raiser going this month in Lebanon, MO. Guilt over for that.
  • knee surgery in May: the effects of painkillers are nasty; can't imagine why some get addicted to that stuff so I got off asap and that made me a poster child for knee surgery in Springfield, MO. At least within Dr. Mahnken's office.
  • laziness:  or situational depression, which loops back to throes of book manuscript editing ...but that is over so happy face here.
And on with the show, otherwise knows as The Book Launch for DREAD THE FRED!