Guide by listening, not hovering

We’re a world of One Percenters. As a society and world swimming in information, we reward people who are expert at the right things. And we all want to position our children to be in that One Percent. It’s what we stress about in raising our kids to succeed: if you haven’t chosen a sport you can excel in by the age of 6, forget about playing Division I water polo at Yale. If you don’t take up the French horn in Kindergarten, don’t bother to apply to Julliard. Getting your three-your-old into the right preschool may mean the difference between turning out a Rhodes scholar and a high school dropout.

The stress over future success has CIMG0266created a class of anxious Super Parents who aim to do right by their kids. Among the educated classes, these are memes for our time: everyone knows the helicopter parents—or is one. We all want our kids to win in the game of life.

But I believe we have been hovering needlessly, that our kids are the best guides in what we need to do to ensure their success. If we can tune in and hear them.

Writing Out of Time, I was worried that my own children would not have the time, space, and encouragement to play and explore. To find safe outlets to express their passions. To become who they are meant to be.

Out of Time grew up organically out of listening in on backseat carpool conversations where the kids think the driver isn’t listening. What did I learn by listening in? Who did what to whom. Who the mean teachers are. How unfair the coach is. The dork in gym class. The brainiacs.

And along the way, I got to hear their dreams and fears, ambitions and boredom. It was an honor to be the carpool mom and capture the tween-teen ethos.

As a social marketing guru, I have capitalized on this interest—learning and writing about the new science of adolescent and what neuroscience is confirming about teen brains (teens=11-25). I learned what resonates with them and what turns them off. I read all the experts’ findings. And what I’ve figured out is this: our children themselves may be the best experts on what they need to grow up healthy, smart, resilient and successful.

If we just listen to them.

I’m passionate about the idea that there is genius in all of us that needs to be cultivated and tended—just as much as encouraging a toddler to walk we should be encouraging preteens—whose brains are undergoing much the same branching and pruning process as babies’ and toddlers’ brains are—to explore, branch out, play and discover their world and the world around them in whatever way they are most likely to get started.

In many ways, writing the story Out of Time has been a lesson in what matters in raising kids: balancing security and independence, when to listen and when to intervene, when to stress over how to best “prepare” them for life, and when to let them prepare themselves. It’s a balancing act, for sure. And not without its own anxieties.

Now, in advising clients how to market to preteens and teens, I tell them:

  • Take a step out of the scene to get some perspective.
  • Breathe before you reprimand, yell or punish. What’s really at stake?
  • Don’t be afraid to show your own vulnerabilities: share your fears and failures as well as your successes.
  • Empathize. You were 13 once.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, tune in to what your kids care about. They may be your best guides to growing their own genius. At least in my experience.

What do you think?

Tyranny or Freedom: the Choice is Ours

It is fitting on this holiday of American Independence, to look at what legacy the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) might want to bestow today.

Jefferson MemorialWe are stuck in a paradigm of me versus you. Factionalism is on the increase because we haven’t yet recognized on a practical level how interdependent we are in this world.

America, that great shining experiment in Freedom and Democracy for all, has not proven to be a replicable model for the rest of the world still suffering under the “tyranny over the mind of man,” against which Thomas Jefferson swore eternal hostility to Dr. Benjamin Rush in 1800.

In 2014, America seems to have been diverted in its hostilities on that front and, instead, is equipping a tyrannical world to persevere in petty battles—not against tyranny, but against each other.

Instead of arming Iraqis with F15 fighter jets they don’t know how to fly, why aren’t we offering the leaders of the Sunni and Shiite factions weapons of diplomacy, economic support and reconciliation to unite these factions into prosperous and peaceful powers-for-good?

Much like the Allies accomplished with the Marshall Plan for Germany after WWII.

Where is America’s drive to end tyranny in the conflicts in the greater Middle East? Instead of feeding the cycles of terrorism and retribution that fuel the Israeli-Palestinian conflict year-after-year, why not teach their children lessons of acceptance, tolerance, empathy and compassion that could have a chance to end the endless hatred between these peoples?

Something approximating the resolution of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Worse, we stand by while Putin encroaches on the sovereignty of surrounding nations; while Assad massacres his own people; while Nigerian girls are kidnapped and enslaved by those proclaiming to be on the side of ignorance. We even encroach on our own citizens by giving corporations the power to bestow or deny workers benefits such as health care based on the conscience of the owners.

Shame and humiliation have only fueled the fires of conflict. It is grooved deep within the archives of many cultures: think Japanese, Afghan and, yes, even those disaffected young Americans whose solution to personal humiliation and disaffection from society is to blow up those who they think are responsible. As Dr. Brené Brown has found in her research into what keeps people from experiencing wholehearted living on the personal level, shame and blame lead us to armor up—and harden our hatreds. It is no different with nations.

Can we shift from a shame and blame mindset to one of personal responsibility? I contend it is not only possible, but imperative, if we are to bridge divisions in today’s world. A growing body of research is showing how techniques like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, play and creativity—even expressive arts like music, dance, theater and books—can be the antidotes, the cures to open our hardened minds. These are not theoretical constructs. But they are not yet widespread enough to reach the tipping point of wide acceptance.

Why aren’t we exporting these simple-yet profound tools to wage the peace, instead of bombers and drones to continue to wage war?

Beyond individuals, beyond nations, there is a unity to our cause as peoples of the world: mending the wounds of the past, forging common cause for the betterment of ourselves and others in a drive to consciously create a place where our children can grow and prosper without violence, conflict or suffering.

After all, we are all people struggling for a better existence on the same small, fragile planet. We are inherently vulnerable to things beyond our control. And, at heart, what most people want is love and acceptance. It is within each of us to create that condition. Cooperation, not conflict, can only serve to strengthen our continued existence—as individuals and as nations—united in our outlook to conserve humanity and preserve this blue-green marble we call home.

But it takes a shift in perspective. I would like to call on my fellow humans—leaders, gatekeepers in the news media, men and women—to look at these as new weapons in the arsenal of humanity. It will require a new way of looking at the world.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” What if we were to spread the word: we can expand our consciousness to solve the problems of our world?

There is nothing metaphysical about this. It simply involves stepping out of the habit of shame and blame to see our lives, our problems with a little more objectivity. If it wasn’t “my” problem, how would I counsel a friend in overcoming a difficulty? Can I apply that level of care and counsel to our own situations?

Similarly, if we were to look at the concerns of our neighbors not as “their” problem, but our own, could we apply a little more care and concern to overcoming it? After all, “their” problem ultimately has ripple effects that touch my own life.

What if we were to begin that process today? We are all connected. The actions of each of us impact all of us. What if the power for freedom, prosperity, health and well-being really rests in our own hands—if we were only to take into consideration the bigger picture?

How would you look at the world—and your part in it—differently?

Pitch Week Coda: Finding Inspiration for Rebirth

LiveFuller_webRI am in rustic Rochester, Vermont, a contestant in Pitch Week II. I am deep in the throes of this midsummer nights competition–in the running for the publishing trifecta of a book deal, agent and publicist.

As part of the contest, I am presenting my vision for a rebirth of learning based on the resonance of my story Out of Time–a plan for every child to achieve his fullest potential. A renewal in modern society of transdicisplinary learning has the potential to spawn the same impulse towards innovation, illumination and flowering of genius that characterized the Renaissance: Live Fuller.

The gist: a revival of Renaissance/Humanist learning and discovery based on modern science of how children learn, grow and thrive offers a chance for every child to discover, nurture and be supported in finding her own source of genius.

I contend that stories have the power to evoke such potential for self-discovery and inspire children to find and explore their unique talents and potential to contribute to the world. And Out of Time, in all its forms–novel, screenplay, interactive storytelling, and digital learning tool–can be the portal.

During the course of the week-long publishing competition, I have the great good fortune of staying in the Ralph Ellison room at the When Words Count Retreat. Of course, Ellison work was influential during the Harlem Renaissance—a 20th century flowering of thoughts and ideas for a particular community long oppressed. Not a coincidence, as far as I’m concerned.

As I scan the works of the author of The Invisible Man, I read the back book jacket of his collected stories, Flying Home.

I find his words evocative:

“Back in the thirties, when I was a music student in the South, I was moved to great agonies of empathy by three novels. One of these was Wuthering Heights, another was Jude the Obscure and the other was Crime and Punishment. While I was reading these works I felt such a compelling identification with their respective heroes that I literally suffered through their every trial and exalted in their every triumph. . . . I missed none of the bolder actions and there are still memory traces of them in my throat which were put there by the poignant and tragic developments of these fictions. . . . And the fact that they could so take me out of myself and transport me to a more intense world of feeling and acting, yes, and thinking, intrigued me more than I realized at the time.”

At its best, reading—and fiction in particular—has this magical power to move us to “great agonies of empathy.” And what better to teach our children—in our world of widening divisions and fissions on a global scale—than the pleasurable agony of knowing we all share the same dreams and fears, the same flesh and blood, and the same capacity to draw together through our shared experiences?

Can story create resonance that allows children to jump into learning and find that same source of inspiration? Once that seed is planted, can we, as a society, water it, nurture it into full flower, and then let it grow?

It is to this idea that I dedicate Out of Time: that we all embrace the goal to “live fuller”, to wake up to a world in dire need of revival. More than any time in recent memory, today’s complex and interconnected world requires a Renaissance of ideas, inspiration, creativity and problem solving.

And it is the coming generations that will be charged with undertaking that renewal–or witness our demise.

Now is the moment to plant the seeds of empathy, watch them take root, and strengthen our capacity to draw together in mutual understanding and compassion for ourselves and others with all our strengths and foibles.

Can a story Out of Time spark a movement?

The Story, the Competition, and Bringing It All to Life

This is cross-posted from the EdTechWomen Blog — http://edtechwomen.com/blog/2014/6/12/outoftime

Out of Time – The Story, The Competition, And Bringing It All To Life

 

 

 

By Margaret Roth

There are many roads that can be taken on the the journey to inspiration and creation. For Robin Stevens Payes, her journey began literally on road. As a mother of three children and science interpreter, she spent a lot of time on the road, listening to stories and tales of drama unfold from the driver’s seat as her children explored their school-age years. This experience was not only treasured time with her children, but for a writer immersed in contemporary science, this was a complete study in teenage psychology.

With this inspiration, and not to mention set of first-hand observations, Robin began crafting Out of Time, the story of Charley Morton, a teenage girl whisked back in time, by a science fair project gone-all-too-well, to the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci on the journey of a lifetime. As Charley explores the world of Florence with Leonardo, her idol and mentor, she must find a way home, all while finding herself.

Over the last 15 years, this story has transformed itself. First written as a screenplay, Charley’s story is now a transmedia science fiction, time travel, adventure novel, and is a finalist in the When Words Count Retreat Pitch Week, a juried competition for authors of promise. As a finalist, Robin is competing for a book deal, national publicity campaign, and all the support necessary to make Out of Time the next breakout book for teens.

As Robin is eagerly preparing for her journey to Vermont next week for the competition, EdTechWomen checked in via e-mail to see how things were shaping up for the next stage of her adventure.

MR: Out of Time, both the novel and your journey, is absolutely fascinating. Tell us about your plans and where you see this all going.

RSP: From the scientific, technological, and historical scope needed to tell the story, and the breadth of Leonardo’s genius, emerged the idea to create Out of Time Media, an online learning platform, to turn the process of reading Out of Time into an immersive, multimedia, multimodal, learning experience.

Using the story as the foundation, coupled with Leonardo’s curious and wide-ranging intellect and Charley’s inventiveness, brains and grit, educators will be able to create a dynamic transdisciplinary and blended learning program through the Out of Time Media experience. There are so many possible points of student engagement on a vast array of topics, from the physics of time to geo-history to military engineering to Renaissance cuisine.

While the online learning platform is still in the works, pending funding, and the right STEAM-Ed visionaries, partners, and investors, the plans for this transdisciplinary learning through story project continue!

MR: As a former middle school teacher myself, there are so many ways I can see this being used in the classroom. Tell us some more about the kind of learning experiences you see Out of Time allowing educators to create for their students?

RSP: There are a number of classroom activities and projects that I can see emerging from a reading of the novel, and a myriad of ways Out of Time Media can support teaching and learning in the classroom. Out of Time creates a world, Renaissance Italy. Instead of memorizing straight facts for a just another novel unit, the story allows students to reconstruct the way people lived, the conditions that encouraged the flowering of a rich intellectual, social, and artistic ferment that allowed for the emergence of so many great geniuses, whose work still impact our lives today. They can study the role of the Roman Catholic Church in that period and how the Pope and the di Medici rulers of Florence were often in a struggle—not just for power, but for a way of life.

MR: You are obviously extremely passionate about story. How has that impacted Charley and how do you see her story impacting classrooms?

RSP: Learning is made more resonant through story when lived and imagined by readers through the eyes of strong and compelling characters. Out of Time Media brings them together in one online place, where flipped learning, social learning and storytelling invites learning beyond STEM, and STEAM to a new level of broad MASTERY.

Davinci_formula

My commitment to the importance of MASTERY is the reason why as part of the online learning platform, I plan to break out experiences and resources into Learning Departments.

These Learning Departments will include transdisciplinary learning opportunities, that combine areas of inquiry that Leonardo himself pursued in his large and compelling body of work, and that might engage someone interested in mathematics to pursue musical theory and composition, or an artist to study anatomy. This will allow students to explore their interests using the narrative of the novel as a roadmap.

MR: Out of Time is a huge project, with so many different aspects, and so many amazing ideas. What was the greatest challenge you faced over the last two years as an entrepreneur and what did you do to overcome this challenge?

RSP: As a writer, creative, and solopreneur, it has sometimes been lonely to hold onto the vision for Out of Time and bootstrap it into being. I have been fortunate to get feedback, support and encouragement along the way from groups like EdTechWomen. ETW’s invitation to participate on the “At the Helm :: Women’s Impact in EdTech” series at SXSWedu in Austin this year was an honor and an amazing experience!

I value these interactions, and the connections that have enabled me to keep Out of Time moving—and suggest improvements along the way.

MR: What is the number one piece of advice would give to others to aid their journey to success in our field?

RSP: Persistence, patience and unwavering belief in your idea, product or project are important as the educational technology field matures. Technology offers the potential to revolutionize teaching—and provoke resistance and lagging adoption based on lack of training, cost, and waiting for “the next big thing” to emerge. This has been true since the days of the mimeograph and the overhead projector (here I date myself!), and promises to get more challenging as new players, some with deeper pockets, enter the field.

MR: As I know that the competition is coming up fast, what can others do to get involved with Out of Time and to show their support?

RSP: I need your support to show the judges the power and potential of Out of Time and Out of Time Media as learning tools. The more I can show that others support my work and this story, the better chance I will have during the competition!

Show—and spread—the love:

  • Follow the Out of Time Blog
  • Tweet your support to @OutofTimeMovie
  • Use the hashtag #FriendsofOOT
  • “Like” Out of Time Media on Facebook
  • Share the Out of Time website and videos
  • Spread the word to friends and family
  • If you are an educator, or know one, who might like to get their class engaged in “making history” in a Twitter chat with Charley M and Friends @OutofTimeMovie, let me know that in comments as well!

I’m also inviting all readers of the EdTechWomen community to vote in the comments for which of two cover designs (pictured above) we’ve created they’d prefer for the book. And by the way, major kudos to my designer Melissa Brandstatter for her artistic vision and grace in accepting multiple challenges along the way to make Out of Time compelling visually, as well as wordily (Can I say that? I think I just made that up!)!

Please help me share the power this experience will be for students and help get Charley and her friends out into the world! They can not wait to share their story!

MR: This competition is coming up so fast! How are you feeling?

RSP: I am excited and nervous! I will be competing against five other very talented authors—none of whom I have met yet. It feels a little like I imagine competitors in American Idol or any of those talent competitions feel when they’ve gotten into the finals—the stakes are high and the eyes of the world are on them.

But I am keeping my eyes on winning as a way to get Charley’s story out to readers and dreamers everywhere who fancy themselves mastering worlds—real or imaginary—and making a difference in the lives of their family, their community and their world.

And then the real work begins—helping create an environment for learning that is consistent with the way things work in the real world. Because in life, one doesn’t do Biology for an hour, then Spanish, then History, then PE — all those things cross over, informing not just our brains but our lives. And we’re learning all the time! So why not make it relevant?

And because I believe every young person has their own form of genius to grow into, having the right inspiration to do it can make all the difference between learning to live and living to learn.


RobinScreen Shot 2014-03-08 at 11.30.41 AM Stevens Payes, author and creator of the young adult time travel adventure Out of Time, writes often about health, research, science and psychology for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) award-winning Sara Bellum Blog and other NIDA and NIH publications on the neuroscience of addiction. She was founding editor-in-chief of LearnNow, the Web portal introducing parents and educators to the science of learning. She most recently wrote about empathy for the neuroscience research Dana Foundation Web site and for the Dana blog about teen learning about drug abuse via social media based on a case study about the Sara Bellum Blog published in February, 2013, in The Journal of Social Marketing. Payes is founder and principal of WordsWork Communications, a social marketing firm applying cutting-edge communications to bring research to life.


EdTechWomen has previously recognized Robin Steven Payes for her excellent work in edtech through our SXSWedu Session “At the Helm :: Women’s Role in Edtech” and we are proud to continue to support her. Please show your support for this amazing woman by actively sharing her story and helping her novel Out of Time become the engaging, STEM-infused, multimedia, and cross-disciplinary teaching resource that it is destined to be for our students!

Robin Stevens Payes, author and creator of the young adult time travel adventure Out of Time, writes often about health, research, science and psychology for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) award-winning Sara Bellum Blog and other NIDA and NIH publications on the neuroscience of addiction. She was founding editor-in-chief of LearnNow, the Web portal introducing parents and educators to the science of learning. She most recently wrote about empathy for the neuroscience research Dana Foundation Web site and for the Dana blog about teen learning about drug abuse via social media based on a case study about the Sara Bellum Blog published in February, 2013, in The Journal of Social Marketing.Payes is founder and principal of WordsWork Communications, a social marketing firm applying cutting-edge communications to bring research to life.

Out of Time Competes for Publishing Trifecta

cropped-subpage_mast.jpgWhen Words Count Retreat Pitch Week II Competition, June 16-21

Robin Stevens Payes, author and creator of transmedia time travel storytelling novel, Out of Time, is among six finalists competing in the coming Pitch Week competition sponsored by When Words Count Retreat, June 16-21.

Out of Time tells the story of Charley, a thirteen-year-old science smart girl whose ambition is to meet Leonardo da Vinci, her Renaissance idol. But first, she must unravel the physics of time travel and build a transport to withstand the pressures of time. She builds what she thinks are Leonardo’s plans for a time machine and finds herself rocked by a world not her own. Her problems: being pursued for witchcraft and heresy and getting back in time to win the Da Vinci Middle School Science Fair.

Help Charley hack time travel!

Follow, Like and engage with Charley and her friends on social media. You can advance the interactive story and get involved in the adventure—and help build an audience that will bring Charley’s adventures to life.

Beyond the novel, help us build excitement for the interactive story through social media:

·       Follow @OutofTimeMovie on Twitter (https://twitter.com/OutofTimeMovie)

·       Like Out of Time Media on Facebook (www.facebook.com/outoftimemedia)

·       Check the Out of Time Media Web site (www.outoftimemedia.com)

As a writer and parent, author Robin Stevens Payes created the story after years of driving carpools and listening in on the conversations of her three children and their friends as they discussed their dreams, their worries, and the latest iteration of who did what to whom. This is the realization of that listening tour in story: a universal spin on growing up where time is still relative and dreams can turn into reality.

If you know a thirteen year old—or have ever been one—this story is your story! So engage Out of Time, and learn along with Charley and friends.

Remember: you make the future possible!

 

When Time Is Unevenly Distributed

“The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.” ~William Gibson

Smithsonian Future Is Here

Last weekend, I had the gorgeous, splendiferous, mind-bending opportunity to attend Smithsonian magazine’s “The Future is Here” Festival. Listening to the newest news on scientific discovery, exploration and art by some of today’s Superheroes of History (that is, if time were “evenly” distributed – since I’m safely writing this a week past the event, we can safely say that future is now history by today’s standards of time-keeping), we 300+ participants were regaled with the imperative to record human stories to be sent into deep-space messages; exoplanet exploration and the development of a “star shield” to better “see” via the Kepler telescope the presence and distinctive energetic signatures of potential Earth-like orbs in galaxies far-far away; Antarctic cosmologists’ detection of the earliest signature of the Big Bang; and even some of the ethics of re-birthing extinct species that once graced our own home planet. There were writers who have regaled the earth with science fiction that has been the inspiration for many a scientist who used the fiction as a jumping-off point for her own explorations of the universe. Mind blowing, or as my very creative, Argentine-artist friend Rosana Azar would say, “Blow-minding!”

Tweeting the event, Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 8.40.11 AMalong with a cadre of avid live conference bloggers, both Charley and I (Robin) were honored to have our tweets quoted in Smithsonian’s live reporting of the event:

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 8.39.29 AM

Loved this “capture” by fellow microblogger Summer Ash, quoting science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, on the one stunning photograph from space that could conceivably justify any investment our little exurban planet might put into exploring the multiverse:

Perhaps the most “blow-minding” exhibition of the day was the jet-powered Rocket Man flight: 58 seconds of a young man flying under jet-pack propulsion wearing a suitably superhero-like red-and-white suit and protected by nothing more than a helmet.

Wonder what Leonardo da Vinci would make of this–or wait, did he anticipate it 500 years ago?

2014-04-22 11.24.32

Time Travel: Not for the Faint of Heart

Florence. Just like I pictured it.

Ponte Vecchio Florence

Florence, Italy

It’s a timeless scene. Or so we imagine. What if you were traveling there from Washington, D.C. in 2014 — but your vacation destination was 1492?

Anyone serious about travel knows there’s preparation involved. Google Maps, Trip Advisor recommendations, knowing where there are ATMs compatible with your bank’s….maybe even a finding a good Groupon.

But what if the travel you were about to embark on had none of the conveniences of modern life. In fact, what if it was not modern at all?

time travelers guide to survival

Credit: Topatoco

For the time traveler, this poses added challenges. After all, one can hardly Google Leonardo da Vinci’s atelier in Florence–when no one in this century knows where it was. It’s difficult to plan how much money to carry with you when you couldn’t even find that currency anymore — florins? ducats? Try getting that out of the ATM before you go! And then the question: what not to wear? Think of the scandal of showing up in the court of the Duke of Florence wearing short-shorts, flip-flops, and a tube top!

Charley Morton, the protagonist in Out of Time and time-traveler to-be, has been doing her homework. After exhaustive research on the life and the times of Leonardo da Vinci, pouring over his notebooks, and studying everything she can get her hands  on about Renaissance Italy, she feels prepared.

Still, reading about 15th century Florence and the early Renaissance is not quite the same as experiencing it. Charley’s ideas about society are rooted in modern society’s notions of equal opportunity, gender equality, formal education, and careers. In our world, literacy is a given. For the people of the late 1400s–not so much.

Ideas about the world can change radically in 500 years. So the smart time traveler — if she is able to choose the exact time and destination — needs to be resilient and conscious of her surroundings. And grapple with some serious questions to determine how — or whether — to try to fit into the norms of the society she aims to experience. Or suffer the consequences.

Imagine then, a young woman who shows up with the entire history of the future digitally recorded in a tablet. And who can read, write, and produce her own video games. Who sees photographic evidence in the news about undiscovered oceans in the moons of Saturn. Where drones wage war, not people.

In a world where the printing press has barely been invented and Columbus hasn’t set foot in the New World, what kind of reception might she expect? And what does she need to know to survive?

These are questions I’ve been grappling with as Charley begins to navigate a time and place far distant from her own. Manners, mores, even what and how (and when!) to eat become challenges.

To explore them, we’re launching two new sections of the Web site: What’s Cookin’  for the Renaissance foodie, where it’s not a question of which fork to use at a Florentine banquet, but why aren’t there forks?  Morton’s Manners offers timeless teen-to-teen advice about the trials and tribulations of growing up sane, smart, and successful in this world.

As always, we want to hear from you. What’s on the “must-know/must-have” list for your time travel adventure? Tell us in comments below.

Out of Time Makes Finals!

Pitch Week III is coming, the writing competition sponsored by the When Words Count Retreat in Vermont. And our entry for Out of Time was selected as a finalist. Okay, so we’re an alternate. But no matter how you phrase it, we’re in!

Looking forward to meeting my fellow contestants at a “Meet the Judges” week in July, wherein we get feedback and support, then put through our paces to prepare for the competition in September.

When Words Count Retreat

Emily Dickinson Room

And with perhaps a different vista outside than the low-visibility February landscape.

When Words Count Retreat

Baby, there’s snow outside!

While Out of Time will only get to pitch before the judges at this event if two other contestants drop out, fear not, friends and fans! We will automatically be finalists for the next round, Pitch Week IV, coming up in June 2015. Grand prize? A writer’s dream: publisher, agent and publicist.

Better get writing–the novel in its final format, all tied up with a bow and cover to show, is due by July 15, come rain, sleet or snow. And who knows–this year, anything could happen!

Feelin’ the love…

Off to the Past

For those of you who have been brave enough to watch videos Out of Time, thank you. I realize it’s been some time since we first chatted about this young adult time travel adventure, and perhaps you have been wondering what Charley and her friends have been doing since that autumn introduction.

Or maybe not.

But if you’ve tuned in at all, you may have noticed that our modern-day Renaissance genius is a very ambitious teenager. Where some teens dream of becoming tech-geek gazillionaires before the age of 25 (back in the day, when I was growing up, we used to think 40 and a cool million was aggressive!), Charley’s goal is to learn a good chunk of something about, well, everything, by the time she applies to college.

Davinci_formulaBecoming a Renaissance genius back in Leonardo da Vinci’s day would seem to have been a lot simpler. It’s simply a matter of degree.

Anyway, though I’d catch you up on what’s been going on.

LegolandIntroducing Charley: self-proclaimed teen genius. Finds Leonardo’s plans for a time machine in one of his notebooks and decides to build it for the school science fair with her smartest-geek-in-the-class pal Billy Vincenzo. Teacher says, sure, why not. BFF Beth Jacobs says, ha-ha-ha, Charley. You do too much. Besides, I’ve got my heart set on being a normal, fashionista teen with a huge crush on school hot-jock Lex Campbell. So go build your stupid time machine.

Build up: Charley convinces Billy the time machine is doable. Billy knows the science: Higgs-Boson may make faster-than-light travel possible in the quantum field, but in the physical world…fugheddaboutit.

But Charley goes to Take Your Child to Work Day at her dad’s Homeland Security-agency contracting company and learns that, amid the spook agencies of government, there’s something quantum afoot in the physical world. Logging on to Dad’s Top Secret-secured computer while he’s in a meeting, she gets the download for a mysterious formula that seems to tap into a reality-as-hologram science with the Qualia Rosetta. Part of mysterious Operation Firenze.

The messenger is the equally mysterious Kairos, a teen just a bit older than Charley who gives her two keys to time travel, the formula that unravels the Qualia Rosetta with coordinates set to 1492 Florence, and a mini-sculpture—the model for Leonardo’s Man-and-Horse. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (LOL), Charley takes the key and runs with it!

Billy’s done more research, now he meets with Charley in her garage to assemble Leo’s version of the time machine. Still skeptical, even after Charley shows him the evidence, Billy knows their science grade—and winning the Da Vinci Middle School Science Fair depends on creating a model that would work if it could.

Meanwhile, aforementioned Lex, clueless to Beth’s crush on him, decides Charley’s time machine is key to his finding out when he’ll be drafted into the Major Leagues…and by what team. He’s holding out for the Nats, when he’ll beat out Bryce Harper for youngest player to join the pros.

Billy goes home and Lex corners Charley thinking she can send him into the future. An awkward embrace and an accidental triggering of the time machine and—poof! Fire, smoke, an inside tornado breaks out. Coughing and teary-eyed, Lex lets the smoke settle before he gets brave enough to set out and warn the kids: Charley’s disappeared!

And the rest is history! Charley whirls through the eye of time into a wild and weird alternate universe, or so she hypothesizes, until she crashes into a rocky outcropping on a field in the black of midnight amid a hail of cannon fire. The first-person shooter: none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself.

When the smoke clears, Charley is astonished to find herself in a close encounter with her Renaissance idol, and a badly banged up foot.

Charley’s been busy getting herself into some interesting new adventures with Bethy II and now involving a pig named—of course—Wilbur, and Billy’s beginning to get into the act. And Gwen may be ill!

No spoiler here… Not wanting to give up the ghost but there is a specter that hangs overCharley in this time and her own.

Pen and ink

Working now on what’s next: suffice it to say that there are Machiavellian manipulations that have Charley worried about her mother and keep her own future—and that of history—in doubt.

Keep your compass turned in this direction for more adventures through time and all around the globe. And join in tweet storytelling @OutofTimeMovie!