Dianne Bright's Blog

April 9, 2019

The "Write" Words Sound Right

When editing your manuscript, it's funny how you can reread the same paragraph over and over again to no avail. Then, one day--not sure why exactly--it's like the stars have aligned. And with a few tweaks, the "write" words click.

I'll give an example from my young adult manuscript that's currently #onquery with publishers. Here's the old text:

"Run-off soaked into the soles of my shoes. Taxis were lined at the curb like hyenas waiting for a kill. The soft lighting from the creperie laughed at me. And I was now holding a girl's hand. Her strawberry blond curls were somehow familiar--but tighter than I'd remembered--like the moisture was clinging to them for hope."

By removing a few unnecessary connectors and adding one decisive adjective, the flow improves. Check out the revised text below.

"Run-off soaked the soles of my shoes. Taxis lined the Parisian curb like hyenas waiting for a kill. The soft lighting from the creperie laughed at me, and I was now holding a girl’s hand. Her strawberry blond curls were somehow familiar—but tighter than I’d remembered—the moisture clinging to them for hope."

Maybe the aha moment is just mine alone, but it feels better now--which matters--because it motivated me to take on another round of edits, and that's a good thing.

After recently devouring Stephen King's ON WRITING, my take-away is two-fold. First, write for one person--the ideal reader--not your grandma or your first grade teacher. Second, move the pages along like a screenplay, because readers have to stay hooked.

If you haven't read his book yet, add it to your TBR pile. And no matter what happens, keep writing, keep editing, and NEVER give up!

--Dianne :)

Dianne Bright has written for a variety of magazines including Scholastic. She is currently finishing book #2 of her #ya duology that is on query with her agent, Hope Bolinger. She recently outlined for an #mg series set in New Zealand as well.
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Published on April 09, 2019 12:06 Tags: authors, drafts, editing, edits, manuscripts, revisions, writers, writing

January 7, 2019

New Year's Resolutions?

To set New Year's resolutions or not to set New Year's resolutions, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against MAKING NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS? Reading more of Shakespeare should be one of them if you're setting resolutions because he's timeless and dramatic in a good way.

But the point is, it's a new year so everyone says it's a new you too. I mean, when you glance in the mirror, don't you pretty much look and feel the same as last week? But it's as if an angelic cloud should lift us up into eternal bliss simply because the calendar upgraded by one digit.

I realize this sounds a bit cynical, but I decided a few years ago to stop writing New Year's resolutions. Not because I'm unmotivated or against being positive. Mostly because they just make me feel pressured instead of encouraged. Like a weight of doom instead of a pedestal of glory.

I'll give an example. I went against my gut last week and set one stupid resolution for 2019: to jog at least one mile per day for the whole year (a no-brainer because I love running). Three days in, I blew my knee out on the treadmill (I swear I wasn't drinking, but it was 11 pm). Anyway, I totally jinxed myself.

Now being balanced and healthy means letting go of my one idiotic resolution for 2019 so my knee can heal. Instead of running, I'll focus on gentle yoga and arm weights (plus a little more drinking--just kidding, kind of). :)

And because I'm magnetically drawn to three points, here are a few easy health hacks for a "NOT SO NEW YOU" (not resolutions, just little goals).

1) Drink more water (buy a fun, new tumbler because why not?).
2) *Load your smoothies up with veggies/fruits AND protein (vanilla whey powder is so yummy--see recipe below).
3) Try to fit in some kind of exercise most days (yoga totally counts and so does gardening; a walk does wonders too). I love the gym but not everyone does, and that's okay!

Brain Smoothie:
1 c almond milk, 1/2 c frozen cherries, 1/4 cup frozen spinach, 1/4 cup meyer lemon (including peel), 3 banana slices, 1/4 c celery, 2 basil leaves, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 2 Tbsp vanilla whey protein powder, + 2 shakes of cinnamon.

Comment below with your fave health hacks; I'd love to hear from you.

Dianne has published two novels, plus a digital parenting book. She has also written for a variety of magazines including Scholastic. Her young adult fantasy duology is on query with publishers via her agent: Hope Bolinger. For more updates, go to DianneBright.com.
Mommy's Hiding in the Treehouse--- With a Glass of Merlot
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Published on January 07, 2019 10:59 Tags: family, foodie, health, life-hacks, parenting, resolutions, smoothies, writers

September 28, 2018

Yes to Hope!

After 200+ queries and ten requests for my full manuscript for consideration, I finally have a literary agent. Her name is Hope, and she gives me hope for the next chapter of my career. Writing isn't for the faint of heart. Anyone who can't take loads of rejection should consider a different job. In some ways, I'd say tenacity is my best character trait, though I'm pretty patient too. Mainly, it's just something in my blood that won't let me give up.

Along the way, it might have made more sense to simply call it quits. My background is in teaching, so it would have been easier to stop putting so much energy into my writing and jump back into that industry. My specific background is in Spanish American Literature and Linguistics (which I do love; don't get me wrong). It's not that I didn't enjoy teaching college students, but I LOVE writing.

It's all been used for the big picture. In my opinion, the pieces of our lives connect together as building blocks preparing us for the next step along the way. That said, I've learned so much from my literary background. Without my previous training, I wouldn't be the writer I am today. Laura Esquivel, Isabel Allende, and Carmen Boullosa gave me a strong foundation for writing fantasy. Magical realism is the equivalent of fantasy in Spanish literature in many ways, with a slightly different shape and voice. I'm currently finishing up the third book in my first series, in which Gabriel Garcia Marquez's over-sized butterflies played a huge role.

If you too have experienced more rejection than you thought possible, just keep hanging on. The voices I listened to, studied, and observed-- like in James Patterson's Master class and throughout Stephen King's ON WRITING kept telling me to press on. So I'm saying the same thing to you. I believe in you even if no one else does. And as a person with great faith (not explicitly a Christian author), I have found hope in two Bible verses along the way.

1) Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength."

2) Philippians 1: 6, "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Some of you don't believe in God or in the Bible, so these verses may not offer equal encouragement. So, I'll add a few secular quotes to the list that sit next to me at my desk.

3) "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars, to change the world," Harriet Tubman.

4) "Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game," Babe Ruth.

5) "Life is trying things to see if they work," Ray Bradbury.

When you get your next rejection letter, just remember, you're one step closer to the right fit. It's coming for you, so don't give up. Eventually the math works itself out.

DianneBright has written for a variety of magazines and professional blogs, including Scholastic's Parent & Child. She has also written SOUL READER and SOUL JUMPER. Her young adult fantasy duology is on query with her agent, Hope Bolinger.
Soul Reader (Soul Reader Trilogy Book 1) by Dianne Bright
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Published on September 28, 2018 17:39 Tags: agents, literary, moms, publishing, writers, writing

June 27, 2018

Healthy Writing

To become a writer, you simply have to write, but it's easier said than done. Having readers is great too. But, there's more to it than just sitting down at the computer and tapping the keyboard.

The goal is to be a good writer, but that's pretty subjective, right? Is it possible good writing could be connected with healthy habits? Assuming my theory has some wisdom to it, here are three easy tips to get started.

FIRST, make sure you are eating well. This might sound weird, but food fuels the body and the brain. That means, if you put in good stuff, then you are more likely to produce good writing as well.

Go for leafy greens and fresh fruits and veggies. Combine these with lean meats and other protein rich foods, like low-salt nuts and beans. Cheese slices dipped in hummus is a favorite go-to.

Also, when possible, buy/pick organic to avoid harsh chemicals that can cause lots of weird side effects. Let's not harm those beautiful neurons making their way down to the keyboard.

SECOND, try to fit in some form of exercise every day! This could be a twenty minute walk around the block or some easy twisting on your FitBoard in front of the TV.

Doing sit-ups and push-ups during commercials can get you on the right track as well. You're like, "But I DVR my shows." Fine, fit some in between Netflix binge-watching episodes of Stranger Things and The Hand Maid's Tale. For a feel-cool bonus, add five to ten minutes of free weights after your morning coffee or before climbing into bed at night to stay toned.

For any middle-aged writers/reviewers out there (mentioning this for a friend)--extra muscle mass actually helps to increase bone density and improves joint health too.

THIRD, reduce screen time. I'm the guiltiest of all on this one. But wow, social media eats up way too much of my time. It's great to build our network marketing platforms, especially when it comes to promoting our books/WIPs/blog posts.

But let's take a daily break to rest our eyes by fitting in some afternoon yoga/meditation or a nap. As a reviewer as well as a writer, I love to grab an actual paperback book most days before snuggling into the couch with my afternoon cup of joe (man, I'm starting to sound like my Grandma now).

Hope these tips help! I'd love to hear what works for you. So please, comment below.

*Dianne Bright has written for Scholastic's Parent & Child magazine and blog, along with Today's Christian Woman and Thriving Family. She is the author of SOUL READER and SOUL JUMPER, and her new young adult duology is currently being considered for publication.

Soul Reader
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Published on June 27, 2018 13:53 Tags: bloggers, book-clubs, family, health-tips, healthy-eating, moms, reviewers, writers, writing-tips

October 20, 2017

Never Give Up!

Most people haven't heard of me as a mainstream author yet, and I'm okay with being an indie gal. But sometimes, it's just nice to feel noticed.

This happened after one of my Barnes & Noble book signing events for my first novel, SOUL READER. A lady came up to me in the bathroom asking, "Aren't you the lady from that book signing event?" I almost died from shock, giving a shy, "Yeah, that was me."

Occasionally someone who isn't from my extended family or my local friend-base will bump into me, sharing, "I really liked your book," which is cool too. But, the truth is, for the most part, I'm just that gal who blends in with the crowd.

Are you connecting with me now? Do you ever feel small and insignificant, like "What big accomplishment can I even do/make before I die?"

But hold on, what was the title again? Oh yeah... my point for fellow readers and authors: NEVER GIVE UP! Whatever you're doing in life. Regardless of what you earn. No matter where you live. Or what you look like. Or how smart you feel. Or what you believe other people think about you.

This especially applies to moms--EXCLAMATION MARK! I love to remind us that our lives matter too. Just for bringing little people into this world and raising them with a smile most days.

Sometimes, amidst the piles of laundry and dishes, our dreams get set on the back-burner. We get behind on our to-do lists and our reading piles as well.

As a line from my upcoming young adult novel says, "Dreams fuel the world." The mom tells her son those words to remind him she believes in him. So, don't let your dreams fade too far away. Sure, it's okay to put them off for a while. But if you wait too long, they might never resurface.

What if they could have been possible, if you simply hadn't given up? It's a message we need to pass along to our kids as well. But, is ANYTHING actually possible, or is that an unrealistic message to pass on to the little ones we love? "Here, kids-- drink the Kool Aid," even as chaos and destruction seem the only constants in our world.

Well, even if some things may not feel possible, I'd rather teach them to reach for the stars, instead of doing nothing to make it a better place. Seeking the impossible could be the very thing each one of us needs to get started on the right path.

We can even shoot for the stars by starting off small; then, we can reach for the next one; then the one after that. All of a sudden, we might just see a sky full of wishes, lighting our way.

"But, writing a whole book?" you might ask. "That's so many words." My upcoming young adult novel is 68,470 words, but it never felt too overwhelming, because I simply wrote one word at a time.

One more thing--NEVER GIVE UP! Oh wait, I think I said that already. :0)

*Dianne Bright is the author of SOUL READER and SOUL JUMPER. She has written for a variety of magazines, including Scholastic's Parent and Child. For similar essays, check out her digital parenting book: MOMMY'S HIDING IN THE TREEHOUSE (With a Glass of Merlot).
Soul Reader
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Published on October 20, 2017 13:01 Tags: authors, dads, dreamers, moms, parenting, parents, publishing

April 22, 2017

SOUL JUMPER

Author Update:
SOUL JUMPER, book #2 in my SOUL READER Trilogy is now available from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Even without reading book #1 (to be re-released in early June), this one does well as a stand-alone, since the preface provides a summary.

If you're interested in writing a review, please message me on goodreads or Twitter (@dibright).

BACK COVER:
She's been playing with bad blood. After discovering a world full of angels and demons, Jennifer Mills explains to her husband, Hunter, that Jadan is her guardian angel.

She is a human: A rescue mission to save her dad and Jadan from the Dark Realm causes Jennifer to question her earthly identity. She tries to stay focused on her everyday tasks, but feels pulled toward her spiritual role even more.

She is a half-angel: Jadan adds two mystical gems to Jennifer's growing collection from the Realm Beyond and helps her navigate the flying part of her training. He also reveals an intimate part of her past, creating an even stronger connection between them. Will she make the right choice?

She is a trap: When Jadan is forced to leave the earthly realm, Zalia is sent to guard over Jennifer. A host of angels arrives on the beach, before a mysterious navy blue gem finds its way into Jennifer's house. Will she be able to let this one go, before it leads to her demise?

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/soul-...

*Dianne Bright has written for a variety of magazines and professional blogs, including Scholastic's Parent & Child. She is also a reviewer for James Patterson books, via his assistant, Sean Comstock. Her second edition of book #1, SOUL READER, came out in the spring of 2017. She has a new young adult fantasy duology coming out soon.
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Published on April 22, 2017 13:44 Tags: christian, fantasy, kindle, paranormal, sandiego, scifi, suspense

April 15, 2017

Marvel, DC, or Jesus?

So many great movies are coming out this summer/fall (Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5th, Wonder Woman on June 2nd, Spider-Man: Homecoming on July 7th, Thor: Ragnarok on Nov 3rd, and Justic League on Nov 17th). I can hardly wait.

Often times, the question for fantasy/sci-fi fans is, "Which is better, Marvel or DC?" which is basically impossible to answer, though Chris Hemsworth is pretty dreamy. But, I'll take my chances and throw in a third option. A better option: Jesus!

Too offensive? Definitely. Jesus offends, for sure.

For starters, He defends prostitutes, like the one at that awkward dinner with the Pharisee, where she washes Jesus' feet with her tears, massaging them with expensive perfume (used to seduce men), and dries them with her own hair (that was probably covered in sweat from a scandalous affair just hours before). The Pharisee gets upset at Jesus for letting her hang out there, so Jesus shares a story about two people owing money.

Let's say one owes five grand and another owes fifty grand. Neither has money to pay the guy back, but both debts are cancelled. Which will love him more? Clearly the one who owes more money. Jesus tells the prostitute, not the Pharisee, "Your sins are forgiven" (Luke 7:48).

Jesus may not wear a super hero suit, but he's into cool tech, aka, miracles and supernatural stuff. Here are some examples from the book of John.

ONE: Jesus, the WORD, becomes flesh (John 1:1).

TWO: Jesus turns water into wine at a wedding--such an amazing party trick--using six stone water jars, each holding 20-30 gallons (John 2).

THREE: Jesus heals a father's son, who is basically left for dead (John 4:43).

FOUR: Jesus heals a paralyzed guy by a pool, just by saying "Get up!" (John 5:8).

FIVE: Jesus feeds five thousand people using five small loaves of bread and two small fish. After everyone had eaten, the disciples "filled 12 baskets with the pieces of the 5 barley loaves left over..." (John 6:13).

SIX: Jesus walks on water (John 6:16).

SEVEN: Jesus heals a blind man (John 9).

EIGHT: Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead, saying, "Lazarus, come out!" (John 11:43).

NINE: He helps the disciples catch 153 fish after a long night of empty nets and no cool Marvel or DC trailers (John 21:10+11).

TEN: He even talks to demons. Remember when he comes upon the two demon possessed men walking by the tombs? No one can go near them, because they're so violent. The demons know they are screwed and beg Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs. "Jesus said 'Go!' and the demons came out and went into the pigs" (from Matthew 8:31-32).

For those who doubt the Bible, just look for His fingerprint by studying the complexity of the human eye, the depth of a black hole, or the amazing transformation a caterpillar undergoes on its way to becoming a butterfly. There's just too much proof not to investigate HIS claims.

Revelations 3:20 says, "I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."

As you break from the new DC and Marvel trailers, take a minute to check your heart. Make sure you're right with JESUS, the one who participated in making the whole universe and everything in it.

1John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

The coolest superhero in all of history offers you eternal life, freely, so take the gift.

*Dianne Bright has written for a variety of magazines and professional blogs including Scholastic's Parent & Child. Her first novel, SOUL READER, is being re-released this spring. Book #2, SOUL JUMPER, comes out in late April. Look for BLOOD TOWERS this summer, her young adult fantasy novel about core temperaments and the pharmaceutical industry.
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Published on April 15, 2017 08:47 Tags: chris-hemsworth, dc, fantasy, jesus, marvel, scifi, spring, thor

January 11, 2017

Almost...

Some days, the condition of "almost" can pull us down to the depths of the sea. Not by actual iron shackles, of course.

But metaphorically speaking, as writers trying to make it in the world of publishing and marketing, it gets tough. A numbers game, where the odds are never in our favor.

If you've been at the game for a while, you get what I mean. After questioning my purpose as a writer recently, I asked myself, "Should I just go back to teaching?" But, I've come to realize I'm okay with a pocketful of "almost" adventures compared to never having tried in the first place.

Here are a plethora of "almost" moments you might relate to:

1) I almost drowned during that killer set of waves surfing in San Diego before a dolphin saved me;
2) I almost died falling down that boulder face upside down while repelling out at Joshua Tree;
3) I almost died of thirst climbing the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico City;
4) I almost got attacked by a host of wild monkeys in the southern part of Japan while trying to get my camera to work;
5) I almost got eaten by a thresher shark in Puerto Rico out scuba diving off St. Thomas;
6) I almost crashed into my husband while parasailing off the coast of Maui (we were actually just trying to make out in the clouds);
7) I almost lost a limb after a jellyfish stung me in Oahu (kidding--just my dignity after a surfer told my husband to pee on my leg);
8) I almost crashed in the Atlantic Ocean on my way home from the Ukraine;
9) I almost lost my return ticket looking at all the cool artwork in Paris (I could seriously move there tomorrow);
10) and last but not least-- I almost gave up on my writing dreams after interminable rejection emails/letters.

But if I hadn't endured the trek to the bottom of the sea, I wouldn't be writing this now or formatting book #2 of my Soul Reader Trilogy, or pitching my #ya fantasy/novel: Blood Towers to a gazillion agents and publishers.

The point of this somewhat exaggerated post (though I did actually visit all those places) is to NEVER EVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS!

Keep writing!

--Dianne :)
Soul Reader
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Published on January 11, 2017 18:54 Tags: dreamers, faith, family, fantasy, moms, publishing, writers

September 11, 2016

There's Always Time for One More Kiss

Parenting/Marriage Tip: Never turn down a hug or kiss from a loved one.

As I raced off to my step class, already ten minutes late, my husband allowed the kids to run out to my car for one more kiss. I begrudgingly puckered up my lips as each one of my three kids excitedly craned their necks up to my window (this was back when they were little; now my son is taller than I am). My youngest could hardly reach my lips, as I giraffed my neck out to meet hers.

After driving off one minute later, I realized how silly my attitude had been. I was ashamed that I'd felt too busy to accept enthusiastic kisses from my kids. Life is way too short to postpone hugs or kisses from anyone important to us. There's always time for one more kiss.

If your spouse wants to snuggle for ten more minutes, the other stuff can wait. If your kids want to kick the soccer ball out in the backyard for five more minutes, it's worth holding off on dinner for a little while. Even if your dog just wants to extend playing fetch in the morning before you head off to work, try to indulge her with the meaningful attention.

Love. Family. Laughter. These are the things we need to invest in—and what better way than through a hug or a kiss? They sort of just happen during serendipitous moments throughout the day. So if we don't slow down long enough to capture them, they disappear like time itself.

Some moments are priceless. When a butterfly floats by and we're too focused on the red light in front of us, we miss seeing the miracle that the caterpillar underwent. Or if we can’t make time for five-second kisses and one-minute hugs, especially with plump and expressive two-year-old lips, we miss out. The moment is gone!

As moms, we juggle so much that it's impossible to embrace every single special moment. Otherwise, tons of stuff wouldn't get done.

However, it's important to make time for one more kiss or one more special hug because someday, we may not get as many unsolicited offers. Let’s capture them now, so we can store them up in our treasure trove of memories.

*This essay is from Bright's book of parenting essays: Mommy's Hiding in the Treehouse (With a Glass of Merlot). She wrote for Scholastic for 2 years and published her first novel, SOUL READER, in 2015. She recently finished writing her second novel, BLOOD TOWERS (coming soon), and enjoys reviewing James Patterson books, via his assistant, Sean.

Mommy's Hiding in the Treehouse--- With a Glass of Merlot
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Published on September 11, 2016 16:15 Tags: dads, faith, family, kissing, marriage, moms, parents

May 13, 2016

To Caff or Not to Caff?

Parenting Tip: Do what it takes to get the job done. Coffee helps.

"To be, or not to be, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles..." and yadda-yadda-yadda. Shakespeare was going somewhere deep with his existentialist quandary in Hamlet.

But my question as a mom of three school-aged kids is way more simplistic: "To caff or not to caff?" I've gone back and forth you know, switching between caffeinated coffee and decaf.

And I've concluded that I really do need at least one big mug of strong caffeinated coffee to make it through the morning. By the afternoon, I'm pretty good with a tall glass of ice-filled Coke (which my dentist dissuades me from drinking) or unsweetened iced tea.

Let's face it Moms and Dads, how else are we supposed to get through the day without the caffeine? When I try to switch back to decaf, I feel like my brain goes on vacay to some tropical island, which sounds pretty pleasant except for the fact that I actually have to stay awake to do laundry, taxi-cab, create snacks, and help my kiddos with homework.

Oddly, my husband noticed a personality change when I stopped drinking so much coffee between graduate programs. I think he liked the decaf-me better, but like I said, it's pretty much a non-negotiable.

My doctor encourages me to limit my caffeine intake as well, since too much caffeine adds a lot of stress to our bodies, as evidenced by the low that hits around eleven o'clock when the body and brain cry out for a refill.

Plus caffeine can of course make you a bit jittery too, which has personality changing implications. Then again, if it makes you more animated and enthusiastic, that could be a good thing, right?

For some of the active thinkers out there, also known as "worriers," also known as “moms” (dads are off the hook on this one and could stand to worry a little bit more), caffeine can keep you awake at night, if you drink coffee too late in the day. But, if you're like most parents of younger kids, you're so tired that you can hardly even keep your eyes open by the time you collapse into bed around midnight.

The real question is whether or not caffeine makes you happy. For me, it's not possible to quit drinking caffeinated coffee at this point in my life. I'm happier when I drink it because I feel more normal. For example, it helps me to keep my checkbook up to date and keeps my mind going so I can actually finish editing a plethora of current writing projects.

Coffee's bold aroma makes me sing a joyful tune as I hear the drum beat of my coffee maker in the morning. Those first few sips of hot brew are gentle reminders that each new day starts with a clean slate, so I can let go of yesterday’s shortcomings.

Just like most things in life, you have to weigh the pros and cons. For me the pros for drinking caffeinated coffee outweigh the cons, so I'm going to keep on brewing the caff. “To caff or not to caff?” is up to you, but for me, it's a no-brainer.

Dianne Bright spent two years writing for Scholastic's Parent & Child mag and blog and published SOUL READER in April, 2015. For more essays like this one, check out
Mommy's Hiding in the Treehouse--- With a Glass of Merlot
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Published on May 13, 2016 08:57 Tags: coffee, dads, family, moms, motherhood, parenting, parents