Wednesday, May 3, 2017

IWSG: May

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Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
Co-Hosts:
Michelle Wallace
Nancy Gideon
Tamara Narayan
Liesbet @ Roaming About

Feather Stone

Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for your story?

Short Answer: Everything! ;-)

Long Answer:  Since I write contemporary Women's Fiction, the adjectives "weirdest" and "coolest" doesn't mean the same as I think it would to a writer of SF or Fantasy. My research is grounded in the reality of families. The saddest, most unforgettable, and important thing I've researched so far is the foster care system--both nationwide and in Georgia in particular. My stats are for back in 2006-2010, but there were 854 case workers over fourteen thousand children in foster care and under the watch of the Department of Family and Children Services.

As one of my characters says:
“When home becomes a war zone, the first casualties are the children.”

And: “Consider just one form of abuse—sexual. One in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused during their childhood, and only one in ten will tell someone about it."

There you have it. The sad state of our abused children and the families that need help. It's one of the reasons for my first WIP--MOTHER'S DAY--to show the need and the scope of the problem. It's a huge topic, but when you get to the nitty-gritty, it's about the children in the cracks.

So, you can see what research means to me. I'm a retired teacher, and I was a trained mandated reporter. I taught the children of the foster care system and the abused. I still worry about the ones in the system today.

It's research that makes that come alive in my story, and research that causes others to get involved in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), as foster parents, or working to offer respite for the caregivers.

Next Post: A special return of my essay, "My Momma Had Words With Me." On Saturday, April 29, I was honored to be included in a cast of eleven marvelous women in the Atlanta Listen to Your Mother 2017 show. Check out my cast spotlight. We share essays of and about motherhood. It was a fabulous show!

18 comments:

  1. The stats really are depressing. I write contemporary thrillers, so I tend to research some pretty depressing stuff as well. But it all needs to be aired in as many mediums as possible, doesn't it? http://www.raimeygallant.com

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    1. Of course it does! That's one of the reasons for writing--to hold a mirror up to ourselves to see the truth of life--no matter the genre.

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  2. The foster care system... Such a tough subject. I have two siblings and cousin who have adopted kids from the system, and although the kids are better off in their homes, there were many feelings involved in the process. Even when parents are incapable of taking care of their children, it's painful to see them relinquish their rights. Of course, I'm talking about best case scenario in the system because my family comprises the best of the best in foster homes, but I know there are awful circumstances out there, and my heart breaks for those kids/families.

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    1. You know then that the problems are true, but the best of the best are the ones we all hope will volunteer.

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  3. Your page is always encouraging. It so important to bring the Foster care system out to light so people are aware. Oregon has quite a load here. Overwhelmed. We have a 'Welcome Box' group that provide small boxes of things for the children who are taken out of homes usually with nothing and often have to sit in the offices or a hotel room with nothing. :(

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    1. A beautiful idea, Renea! We all need to help if it's only prayers.

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  4. Hi Zan Marie: Oh, you are so brave to dive into the reports of abused children. I don't think I could go there. I hear of it in the news and I feel so sad. And angry! It appears that much of the information is covered up and kept from the public. Not good at all! Thanks for being so brave.

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    1. Feather, I taught the teens who are survivors. Sometimes we were able to give them the tools to move on, sometimes not. I think that's one reason I'm writing about it.

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  5. Those are grim statistics indeed!

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    1. I know. It's so sad to know what's going on.

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  6. They are only the forgotten children if we allow them to be. Thank you for writing about them. Every light shone helps.

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  7. I'm a retired teacher too, Zan Marie, and your words really spoke to me. Throughout my career I saw how understaffed social services and mental health services for children were. It's just criminal. Some of the saddest cases among my students will haunt me always. But we can't give up. We have to keep advocating for these children. Kudos to you for writing about them.

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    1. You understand the pain I still carry within my heart for the teens I knew and loved. Thank you. When the story found me, I knew I had to write it.

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  8. Another Atlanta person here, so I was particularly interested in your stats. I can hardly believe those numbers and feel so lucky to have grown up in a stable home without having to deal with abuse of any kind. A lot of kids, particularly in foster care, aren't so lucky. my mom was telling me just the other day how she heard on the radio about some man who adopted a child, then somehow managed to scald the kid's feed ad drown him in the bathtub. :( On the one hand, I wish it were easier and cheaper to adopt or foster, but when I hear stories like that, I can understand why it is so difficult and why there are so many children without homes.

    Thank you for increasing awareness about the foster system and childhood abuse. Both are incredibly important. :)

    With Love,
    Mandy

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    1. Mandy, I heard that latest story, too. It's too sad to contemplate, but we have to face this head on in order to combat the results. I thank teachers who are on the front lines for reporting they know.

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  9. That's sad and hard research, but I'm so glad you're doing it and I hope your book will make more people aware of the problem, or spur them on to become foster parents.

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    1. Thank you, Sara! And thank you for helping me with research.

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