Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Transforming Power of Art and Nature

As an author, mother and lawyer, I am interested in how children and teenagers develop their identities within family, community and the world at large.  In my books, my characters hail from Caribbean islands, or NYC Caribbean and African-American communities. They overcome obstacles imposed upon them by poverty, censorship, government takeover of their lands, immigration issues, and crime.  They do so by developing their individual creative talents and being exposed to art and nature.
It is a widely accepted view that Art and Nature provide positive avenues for people dealing with pain and feelings of loss and loneliness.  My personal interest is how it all affects children and teens. Developing creative intelligence and exposure to beauty, whether in nature or in art, are some of the greatest gifts we can give our children to help them feel connected to something greater than their immediate surroundings. I found this great site with articles for parents and teachers on these exact topics.

In Flowers in the Sky, Nina is transported from her isolation in Washington Heights, a perplexing world to her, when she sees the gorgeous paintings of Vincent Van Gogh at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Wheat Field with Cypresses.  She grows beautiful flowers on her fire escape to bring beauty into her stark living conditions. 
In The Colors of My Words, Ana Rosa learns that writing down stories and poetry sets her free even in a country where censorship may reign and governmental oppression inflicts upon her family a great tragedy.  The beach is Ana Rosa's refuge from all the sadness and confusion around her. 
With my books, I hope to empower and inspire children and teenagers to develop their own creative/artistic/personal talents as the best antidote to a confusing, complex and sometimes tragic world.  To use the words of the eminent mythologist Joseph Campbell, my ultimate goal is “to learn to live joyfully in the sorrows of the world.” If I can show our children how to do that, too, then my life’s purpose is accomplished. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Teenagers: A Mindset for Life!

Betty White says, "I'm a teenager trapped in an old (90-yr) body." Psychology Today magazine calls this mind set an "anti-aging" formula.  The psychology of perpetual youth, according to Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, stems from maintaining an outlook of innocence, wonder, and awe. View things with a fresh perspective, be curious about everything, lighthearted and fun, fostering a sense of adventure. View challenges as a game to play with options and choices, bets and risks.  To many, this may seem foolish and Dr. Seltzer anticipates as much in his article. But the fact is this is exactly my life. It's not foolish, it's possible. I'm not my chronological age, I'm 17.  Gavin Enright should know--he's 17 and he says I act just like a teenager. I'm more excited planning a road trip with 5 teens for a fab birthday weekend in Montreal than I am about going to a literary festival with adults in Jamaica! It's not the place or the event--I can't wait to see Treasure Beach, Jamaica, and I love books, but ultimately, it's that I feel more comfortable with teens. I love them. I understand them. I fit in.  When my sons and their friends hang out at the house talking about who's dating whom, where the party is gonna be and why certain folks should not attend, I know everyone's names, all the characters, the gfs and bfs and BFFs. I know about the drinking, the drama queens, the fights, the mean girls, shy girls, liars, loners, rockstars and the wanna be delinquents. I give advice because I'm the so-called adult, and what I can truly offer them is reflections on my own experiences, the good and the bad, the journeys and the destinations I've reached, because after all, I've had many more than they have. But in the end, I still view the world through the eyes of a teenager.  First love, possibilities, dancing until your clothes are sticking to your back, talking until the sun comes up, and yes, even feeling left out. And no, I'm not dancing in the dark here. I see and acknowledge the bad stuff, too, like the online bullying, the teasing, and the meanness that teens can master in a heartbeat. And I call them out on it. I try to show them the loss of their own humanity when they engage in it. Put them in the other person's shoes. There's a No Bashing rule set in stone in my house! Yes, I'm a teen but I run things! What a great positon to be in--I have the best of both worlds, forever young, but fully loaded with experiences, knowledge, hard-earned wisdom and a little cash! Who better to share all that with than a house full of teenagers? And Montreal better watch out. The Wombatz are Coming! 

Monday, January 16, 2012

The First Year of My Writing Life!

This year 2012 is my year to celebrate being a writer and to turn my attention to the one constant passion in my life. I've been writing since I was 8 years old and despite having published 8 books and having a new one coming out called Flowers in the Sky, to be published by HarperCollins next Winter, I have yet to devote the time and energy to my craft that I long to.  Well enough! I finally asked myself, "When will you take control of your dreams and 'pursue them as if your head is on fire.'" (Joseph Campbell).  Thanks to all those who have helped me make 2012 my year of being a writer--thanks to Dion James, Christine Joseph, Eva Martinez, Peggy Kern, Baz Dreisinger and Brandt and Jared Scott. Thanks to all the friends and relatives who believe in me, Laurence and Caroline, Mom and Dad, my brother Gerard and his wife, Ria. Thanks to Christopher Vecchio at for creating a lovely web site for me to start my professional writing life. And special thanks to my dear sis Christine for providing artistic funding. Love you all. I'll do you proud! Check me out at launching Tuesday January 17, 2012.