Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Local media misses the big story...

This past weekend, I threw a book signing party that even J.K. Rowling would have been impressed with. Almost 800 people filled an overheated gymnasium in Monroe, WI (where I grew up) to celebrate the release of my first book, "Why Does Grandma Have a Wibble?" Long lines waiting for autographs, hundreds of children running here and there, and books flying off the was the perfect day. And to show my appreciation to the "little authors" who contributed to my book, I asked each of them to join me in signing books. With pens in hand and name badge stickers announcing their success, they wandered around signing books and collecting their own autographs. For a couple short hours, these students (more than 175 of them) were enjoying a moment that might not ever come again.

Sounds like a great news story, right? Wouldn't this be a nice ending to the nightly television news that only covered the war, two traffic deaths, a campus drug bust and a missing plane full of skydivers? One would think so. And what about local newspaper coverage? Maybe that's the easier one. Just how busy does a local newspaper with a pretty average circulation need to be to miss covering this event? Let me tell you.

It was a busy day in Monroe...I understand that...but it's sad that an annual chili cook-off was the big news. What's even sadder is the photo that made the front page of the newspaper from this chili cook-off. It wasn't a photo of a pot of chili....heck, it wasn't even of the chili-maker himself. It was a photo of a little girl throwing darts at a life-size photo of Michael Vick. I guess there are other smaller fund raisers at this "chili party", and the Humane Society thought it would be fun to raise some money by using Michael Vick's recent run-in with dogs and the law as the basis for claiming a little cash. First, it was in poor taste...but that's another day's worth of ramblings. Second, and more importantly, it was the feature photo on the front page. A kid...throwing a photo of a person. And where were the kids who had actually done something successful? They were stuffed in a 90-degree gymnasium waiting for a photographer to show up to give them a little publicity.

Oh, she did show up...and she did take the photos....but that was it. And the kids...well, one of a photo in the paper....on the back page. No write-up. No interviews. Nothing.

The reporter tells me they ran out of room and that it was the editor's decision to bury the 175 kids who were doing something worthwhile on the back page. Shame on you, Mr. Editor. You didn't get this one right. In a time where schools are struggling to make reading and writing an important part of our children's curriculum, you thought that dart-throwing was the bigger news story. SHAME ON YOU!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

There's a reason I'm a writer...

I’m not a morning person. Let’s just get that out of the way right now. I hate the thought of getting up before I need to, and I’m not even that good at obeying the alarm clock once it finally chimes in the early hours of the day. So today was one of those days that I dread.

The email came yesterday morning. Channel 3’s Morning Producer wrote to see if I’d be interested in bragging up my book on live television. Of course, I replied “Yes!”, but before I hit the send button, I scrolled back up the page to find the key word that I had missed at first glance. Morning producer! He was the morning producer! Obviously that meant he wasn’t in charge of the nightly news. Darn it!

Well, I never pass up an opportunity to plug a book in front of an audience of thousands, so I happily left the “Yes!” in my reply. Send.

Joyously I reclined in my chair, relishing the thought of the publicity. And then it hit me! I had to get up before the birds! I had to set an alarm that would go off before the sun had even peeked its crown over the eastern horizon. I had to go to bed early. I had to find something to wear. Oh yeah…did I mention that I had to get up early!

I called my husband, Jeff, to tell him the good news – that I would have a live segment on Channel 3’s Morning Show. I anticipated some sort of congratulations, but all I heard on the other end was laughter. “Yeah right, like you’re going to get out of bed that early. You have to be there before 6 o’clock?” And again – laughter!

At 4:30 a.m., I rolled (literally) out of bed. Groggily I made it through the hair and makeup routine – over and over again. First the hair is this way – then the hair is that way. First a shade of Estee Lauder’s beige #112 – then a change of heart and it’s an application of Lancome’s tea rose something or other. A little blush. Then a little more. And then the hair again. Jeff, still trying to get some rest, was getting worn out watching my routine and practically kicked me out of the bathroom so I’d make my early appointment.

As I entered the studio, I found News Anchor Charlotte Deleste sitting behind the news desk. Her makeup and hair were perfectly in place as they are every morning when I watch her – from my bed!!!! Her smile seemed genuine, and if she was tired, it didn’t show. I wondered how she did this every day. Was she as tired as I was? Did she detest the thought of an alarm clock that goes off in the dark? Did she feel as good as she looked?

And then I remembered what the cameraman told me when I asked him how the morning crew managed to get up so early every day. “I tell people that we really haven’t gotten used to getting up early, but we have gotten used to feeling like crap every day.”

Thanks for those words, Mr. Channel 3 cameraman.

That’s why I’m a WRITER!

Monday, October 1, 2007

How I ended up here...

So I forgot that I'm on "deadline" today. Credo magazine needs a Leeland interview from me in about....oh, three hours ago! I remembered this when I was sitting at work, knowing there was nothing I could do until I got home. I kept reminding myself that it's only 1,200 words. I can whip that up in less than an hour -- not counting the interuptions from a number of screaming neighborhood kids outside on my swingset, a noisy train in the backyard, constant reminders by my five-year-old that we have fruit snacks in the cupboard (that are not for consumption now!), wet socks, naughty cats...and the distraction of dinner dishes, baskets of unfolded laundry, paperwork for my book signing, accounting records, and "The Bachelor" coming on any minute.

And as I take a break for just a minute to collect my thoughts and look around, I see Payton (5) walking in the room with a stack of books. "Let's read, Mom!" And at that very second, I was taken back to when I was five -- carrying around stacks of Dr. Seuss books with a smile on my face. Without a second thought, I pushed the computer aside and snuggled up next to him, listening to each word that he read. He was reading!!!...reading every word! And then it hit me again that that's how it all began for me. My love of books is what even got me to this state of panic tonight. That love of books is what has inspired me to write.

So write, I will...all 1,200 words of an amazing interview with one of Christian music's hottest new bands, Leeland. And I'll get it all done before "The Bachelor". Thanks, Payton, for reminding me how I ended up here tonight!