Monthly Archives: June 2010

Masterpiece Monday: Wacky Wonders and Quirky Adventures Never Felt Better

Altoona Baboona left the library  for a ride in my car-a.
Found her way into the hands of my children and lounged in my living room-a,
Until I picked her up, and read her through and through-a.
Happily delighted she shared her afternoon-a.
Then off we went to stare at the moon-a.
To see what the hoot was all about, with Altoona Baboona.

See how fun that was!

Thanks Janie Bynum for this happy reading!

Haven’t you ever wanted to float? Be a princess? Well in this tale where the two come colliding together you can imagine both adventures at once! The Illustrations are just divine–detail aplenty! Lane Smith and Florence Parry Heide team up to make this princess soar to the sky. Princess Hyacinth is one I’m sure to buy!

Bruna, a story about a girl who is beyond cold and her adventure to warmth is one book I thought was quite clever. I never expected it to end the way it did and the illustrations are adorable–exactly as they should be for a story like this one.

Suzanne Marie Sabine Chicot Thibodeaux ain’t no ordinary girl, so upon reading her tale, I couldn’t help but love this Louisiana swamp story filled with unlikely adventure and an unexpected reptilian family that is sure to win your heart over. I can’t get over how playful the narration is. Now you won’t mind if I skip on over and join their swamp party now will ya? I have to thank Sharon Arms Doucet for arranging this little meet and greet I won’t soon forget–a frolicky swamp adventure packed with blazing Louisiana punch. Pick up Alligator Sue today!

The Sandwich Swap is a lovely story about two forever friends who encounter quite an unusual yuck versus yum situation. With their differences come courage and a journey to understand. Besides who wouldn’t want to read a story written by Queen Rania of Jordan (with Kelly DiPucchio) anyway? We can each be “a little ambassador of hope,” says Queen Rania.

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Bloomability Thursday

Below is a paragraph that needs to bloom. I’ve been agonizing over it for days now. It’s starting to fester. A teen type of angst is moving in on me. I want that one and only opening line to really hook onto the reader pulling them along to the finish. The commas are really torturing me! What kind of an author would I be if I didn’t agonize over it, lose sleep over it? After all I’m still up, am I not? Last night I smoothly cruised into 2 am without denting it. Finally, self preservation kicked in and I appropriately dived into bed. Regret entered my bones just as morning crept its way past the covers onward toward the head of the bed. As if opening a curtain, it peeled my eyes wide open. Sunshine and all that. Okay not really. Let’s just say a repeat of last night will not be happening again, I assure you. Bloomability does not come without rest. So why am I up again? Have a look. Plan a party around it, but I beg of you, this paragraph needs a bestie today, someone to hold its hand and cry with it until little me figures out how to whip it up and turn it into the delectable definition of fabuloso! But for now, I take five.  So here it is, double spaced, ready for your reading pleasure and  wonderfully easy on the eyes.

*Cough. Cough*

  Love and death never take much effort when you’ve invested in them, but then go right on ahead, toss in a few unlikely variables of proportionate size, and if you’re lucky, they surface as loose ends—jittery little things—enough to make anyone go mad. Loose ends always result in a train wreck, with a noose at the end of them and a one way ticket to death—of the soul, of the body, of the mind. Tie them up and you solve the whole problem. As luck would have it, Tristan knew this better than anyone. Of course he was never sure it would kick him directly in the gut, but it did.   
What first lines are you agonizing over? Don’t be afraid. We don’t bite. 

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Masterpiece Monday: Soccer Mania

With the World Cup unfolding how can I not divulge my findings? So dig in. Find that book that you love or that special surprise for the kid in your life who just can’t live without soccer! 


“Take your victories, whatever they may be, cherish them, use them, but don’t settle for them.”–Mia Hamm


George Graham on the goal keeper “The goakeeper is the jewel in the crown and getting at him should be almost impossible. It’s the biggest sin in football [i.e. soccer] to make him do any work.” 


Sergio Saves the Game


Dino Soccer


Pelé King of Soccer


K is for Kick


Shawn Sheep the Soccer Star


Winners Never Quit! Mia Hamm


So you Think You Know the World Cup?


The Game and the Glory: Michelle Akers


Suspended


Bend it Like Beckham


The Girls of Summer


Zombies Don’t Play Soccer


Soccer Duel


Goal!

There are so many more. This is just to get you started! What are your favorite soccer moments?

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Splendiferously Superb Saturday

Baking a cake. What kind? Who cares! It’s CAKE! Pay attention!

Mother: “Ok we need….and 3 eggs.”
Saturday: “Okay mommy, I will HATCH the eggs!”

Mother says secretly to self: “LMBO…this is too cute. Obviously he meant “crack.” I love that kid!”

Thanks Saturday for the inspiration.

So today is Daddy Day Prep Day, all day. Yes! Okay, prep and writing. Repeat. We are going to attempt to bake a Father’s Day “so moist chocolate cake” for the “Daddy” of the house. The mess  is going to be catastrophic, I think. I’m going to try to remember that a mess is just an introduction/invitation to more fun….see my outlook here. I’m picturing messy fingers and chocolate faces. I’m picturing sticky hair and batter on our noses. Anyone else with me here? Ready to help your DH conspire like this on the one day he can get away with it? Go! We here take the profession of cake monger seriously. For those of you less than ready for tomorrow, here are some books that will be sure to inspire and pump ideas to the brain. 

What are your Daddy Day prep plans? Any  catastrophes (the kind labeled all over with love) headed your way? 


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Blooming Thursday: Fans Everywhere. Okay, Maybe Not Everywhere

     This blog makes me very dizzy at times, but that is nothing compared to the feeling I experienced when my niece told me that she was “honored to meet” me,  “an author.” The first thoughts in my head were, “Oh no, I’m blushing. I can’t blush.” Then it hit me. What happens when I actually get published? How will I answer a child’s/teen’s questions about writing, and not say the wrong thing? How will I encourage them? Right then I knew that I had to start thinking about it, because I don’t want to be caught off guard with nothing to say, a speechless phenomenon. I want to be sure they know I am passionate about what I do. How can they know I am passionate about it if I have no response for them when they ask for advice? You can only imagine the thoughts going through my head when my niece shared with me that she is uber excited about writing, that she loves it! Wow! It felt great and if she is reading this I want her to know that she is already on one wild adventure sure to be full of surprises.
     Then it occurred to me that I have no publishing credits to my name, other than a poem in an anthology, something I never take credit for because it was, I am embarrassed to say, it was probably a scam.  Nonetheless it made me feel like I could do better than that. It made me seek out real resources and this was ages ago it seems. It is a rough road, but I’m still on it. So don’t be afraid of your mistakes, they breed success, but only if you don’t give in to fear first. In order to move forward I had to tell myself, you’re not a writer, you are an author, you may be unpublished today, but tomorrow has possibilities. So this is what I would tell any young budding author now that I’ve simmered down with the possibilities of what to say:

1. Read, a lot, especially the genre you want to write. It should be a meal of delicious batter and icing with a few extra licks of the spoon and nothing left to pop into the oven. Not one chocolate morsel should be left lying around.
2. “Impossible only means I’m possible”– Can’t remember who’s blog that came from but it’s anonymous anyhow.
3. Atonement is important to the writing process if you ever want to be published. You have to forgive yourself for your mistakes.
4. All that matters is that it is FUN! If it is not fun, you are kidding yourself. Your reader will see the red flag and run!
5. You can have your cake and eat it too, just not at the same time so write when you can, LIVE life when you need to. Never let the writing that needs to get done get in the way of someone you love–make time for both or you are not really living. Indulge in life, invest in it, because it is a delicacy you should savor; you should partake every chance you get. “HOW VAIN IT IS TO SIT DOWN TO WRITE WHEN YOU HAVE NOT YET STOOD UP TO LIVE.” ~HENRY DAVID THOREAU
6. Make time for research even if it is your least favorite thing to do. Muster enthusiasm for it! Feast on it. Pretend to like it and eventually you will. Read the boring stuff too, but make it fun. Explore life by testing it out. Have a food fight once in a while, but with permission from mom or dad first. Do silly things and write about them.
7. Invite others to get to know you, you are your own wonder emporium and your life is a story  in itself– share it, and you will meet others with the same lofty aspirations as yourself; only then can you encourage each other.  Include your teachers, your parents, your leaders/role models/counselors, and your friends in your writing plans. Network until you run on empty. Refuel. Repeat. You will need a support group. Join a critique group when you are ready, but find a good, reliable one.
8. Imagination is paramount. It is the glue that keeps your ideas in place. Never abandon it. Feed it. Care for it, Tuck it in, especially at night just before you dream.
9. Keep a pen and notebook with you at all times and in each room in the house. You never know when an idea will pop into your head.
10. Eavesdrop, a lot. Try not to be rude about it or you’ll never pull it off. People watch. Write down your observations. Do a “sit in” on the location of your book or some similar setting to that of your book, (that is unless it is such a dreadful or faraway place you can only, or should only imagine it) until you have no more questions about it and it feels like home.
11. Your characters will become your BFF’s so don’t put them off or ignore them. Words will become your enemy if you do not get to know them. Learn as many as you can. One a day is an admirable goal but more is always better.
12. WRITE, A LOT. Type until your fingers burn. Stop before they fall off. You need your fingers, trust me.
13. Read your own writing. OUT LOUD. Read it with enthusiasm, in an accent, or any other way you can think of. Role play with your characters. It’s fun really! The whole family can join in.
14. REVISE! A good book is a horribly written thing. A great book goes through a marathon of revisions. Be open to change. It is one of the few constant things in this world.
15. Still Hungry? Here’s some more advice and know how.

What’s your fan phobia? What would you tell them if they asked for your advice? 

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Woeful Workshop Wednesday: Expert Addiction

Below is something silly I wrote about research, knowing it all, and what happens to your eyes after all of it…

And if you can’t figure it out, Googly Eyes is an author. Strange One and Stranger Two are Informants/Sources of research and the like, and Saturday–some mystery kid that goes by the name of Saturday who claims to be a know-it-all– well, she/he was simply  thrown in for good measure. 🙂

This sounds much better if you give us all  foreign accents:

Googly Eyes: Who goes there?

Stranger One: “Who?”

Stranger Two: “Lady Knows A Lot.”

Saturday (our anonymous mystery kid of the week: “Knows a lot about what?” Can’t be having competition on my corner of the block!”

Googly Eyes: “Says who?”

Saturday: “Says I!”

Googly Eyes: “Oh stuff it! Expertness is excellence in a royal robe–the stuff authors need oodles of.”

Saturday: Oh, jibbity ibbity! Pirates and Plato! Socrates is laughing now. Nonsense. Anybody can look it up in a book  nowadays. What else do we have dictionaries and reference books for? Googling?

Googly Eyes: “Oh that’s just to pass the time and procrastinate.” We authors have oodles of that too–time, all of it relative. Ask Einstein. Another expert!

Saturday: “Oh cuttlefish!” Spit it out already. We’re all waiting for another fabulous list of yours–lots of time and all!”

Googly Eyes: Oh all right, since you won’t be Googling it. Fancy a list? Okay, really only just number one, for now.”

Numero Uno!

Just kidding….there’s more than one item here:

Oodles of medical mania. Take a number. Get in line. No really, she’s kind!

Body Language…75% of what we say. Yup! Something like that.

Archtype

Coroner Stories: Real Crime Science

A Human Face

FBI for Writers

Measuring Money of the Past

Experts Desk. They are Everywhere!

Pop back later for numero nueve!

Or…beat me to numero nueve, by adding to the list with your comments.

Does too much Googling lead to googly eyes? Let’s find out.

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Masterpiece Monday

Just too cool to pass up:
Bats at the Library

Tumble me Tumbily

Help your child share their feelings about fathers with a PB that tells it all!

A Wild Fathers Day

What Dad’s Can’t Do

Me and My Dad

The 10 Best Things About My Dad

My Daddy and Me

Because Your Daddy Loves You

My Daddy Snores

Daddy Kisses

My Dad

Daddy’s Girl

A Father’s Day Thank You

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It’s that time of year again. If you are ready to submit, go on ahead. The author of the Spiderwick Chronicles is the judge this year! Show everyone what you are made of!

Hunger Mountain Katherine Paterson Prize For Young Adult and Children’s Writing

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Bloomability: Swords, Daggers and Such

    
Almost every adventure–and not just in children’s literature–has them: Peter Pan, The Sword in the Stone, Tolkiens well known “sting”, Sasha–a story about a young woman warrior. Arrrrrr! Yes, pirates have swords, so any wiry pirate adventure will do. Yes, that includes The Princess Bride. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is full of them. Then there is Don Juan, Ryann Watter’s and the Kings Sword, Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone, King Arthur, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Percy Jackson and the Olympian series, The Sunflower Sword, The Perfect Sword, Aladdin, Sinbad…the list is never ending! 

     Let us examine why swords are so wonderfully enchanting and dangerous. Is it the sharp pointy tip? No. Is it the arm of the wielder that makes it so powerful? Partly, I’d say. Really though, what is the strongest part of the sword? You will laugh when you learn this because it is a bit ironic. Forte! 


1: the part of a sword or foil blade that is between the middle and the hilt and that is the strongest part of the blade
2: one’s strong point


En Garde! 


I always thought fencing was this super hot sport….tight butts and all. Okay, but my point is….hee hee, see the irony? MY POINT is that swords are powerful. Swords wield power. They symbolize something of greatness. Anyone, anywhere who holds a sword is a force to be reckoned with, they should be feared. The sword is the gun of the wild west, the light saber of the Jedi….pure power in ones hand. So my next thought was, “Okay as a writer, what is my strong point, my forte?” How is my pen mightier than the sword? Does my pen have a forte so to speak? Tough questions? Yes. Easy answers? No. 






There is no science to it. It is in the words on the page, and the anticipation to turn the page. It is in the laughter and the tears of the reader. It is the image of a child staying up late past bedtime under the covers with a flashlight trying to storm to the end before mom or dad tell them “Lights out!”. Yes, a sword, like any pen is a mighty adventure and force to be reckoned with. When done well, it is like honey dripping from tip of pen to tip of page which becomes a flood never to be encountered but by the reader who has no idea their head is only just above the water.



What is your forte? Picture books, character-driven/plot-driven stories, boy adventures/girl adventures, poetry/rhyme, quirky books, dystopian, historical fiction, research, sci-fi, graphic novel, comic, coming of age story, fairytale/folklore? 












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Woeful Workshop Wednesday: Hats and Madness

20 Questions and a Teacup

I have something delicious for you today. I was strolling about Neverland (naturally so) and came upon a wicked-cool hat. As soon as I picked it up, I found another. You can only imagine this made me feel a bit like Hansel and Gretel–I assure you, looking for crumbs is NOT fun. At fist I thought, “Which of the lost boys and girls would litter in Neverland?” but then it occurred to me that maybe someone was reenacting a scene from Caps for Sale–very probable you know in these parts of Neverland (Oh why did Wendy have to read it to everyone? It started a campaign you know). Being dreadfully wrong on both accounts, I came across a tall fellow, a colorful suit, and two crazed eyes. “Must be Hook” I thought. Wrong again. He didn’t seem his usual self. In fact he looked quite glum. When I ventured towards him to investigate he didn’t budge, nope, nothing quirky sprung from this man of tricks, this clever loon of Wonderland. Finally he turned.

Me: “Well, I’ll be! ”
Hatter: “Yes, is it so strange I’m in town? Maybe I’m just a bit lost you see, but come to think of it…”
Me: *still jumping up and down with excitement* “So glad you’re here. How about twenty?”
Hatter: “Twenty what you insufferable woman?”
Me:  “Questions.” (I actually thought about sniffling (for dramatic effect of course and to draw him in), but thought better of it).
Hatter: Ah yes, another Alice. Different world. Same Alice.”
Me: “No, no, no!”
Hatter: Yes, only Alice would venture to do the impossible, but 20, thats a record now. Alice was set at six. She has thought of upping the stakes in rabbits favor.You know he’s terrible for time. Can’t be wasting any of it! Such a clock. By now his eyes were glowing and I took this as a sign to begin.
Me: “Speaking of impossible things Hatter, what brings you here?”
Hatter: “The hats of course. It seems they’ve sprung a doozy on me and why wouldn’t they, they must be growing tired of their old man. Half the time I wonder what is up this noggin of mine”
Me: “Old?”
Hatter: “Yes, can’t you see I’m running out of tricks. But I’ll always have the teacup.”
Me: “The teacup?”
Hatter: “Yes, the bane of my existence, TEA, and a clump of sugar!”
Me:  “Very well then. Carry on.”

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?

I see now, you’re reeking havoc and mayhem in Neverland and dashing it with clever Hatter’s quirks. I totally understand. Has Alice kicked you out? Very clever indeed. Is she enjoying the separation? Yes? I’m so sorry for your loss but please…eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow Hatter returns. I’m sure you just left your dashing hat behind in Wonderland Recovering your muchness is close at hand.

Moral of the story: Don’t argue with a mad man, your creation or not. Don’t lose your hat in a foreign world. Don’t lose yourself or your teacup, you might need them to make you feel whole. Don’t kid around with yourself or your writing. Talent is forever. Wit is golden. Never ask twenty questions when a few will do. No matter the twenty questions, we who write, “We’re all mad here”. Focus on the important things, the rest comes later, even if it is just tea and a lump of sugar.

What are your important things, i.e. your tea and lump of sugar?

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