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On Critiques – Bitter or Better?

3 Apr

You’ve got a story you really love.  Someone else thinks it needs more work.  What do you do?

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Picture Books are like Potato Chips

30 Mar

Picture Books are like Potato Chips

No one can read just one!

Picture Book Hybrids

17 Mar

Jeopardy had a category tonight of hybrid musical groups.  That got me thinking of creating my own list of hybrid picture books.  Combine two picture books with one or more of the same words in the titles to create one new title.  Example:  The Napping House and The House on Pooh Corner  (which I realize isn’t considered a picture book on it’s own, but it’s my favorite children’s book)…

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The Napping House on Pooh Corner

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Pretty easy, huh?  And fun too!

  Here is what I’ve come up with so far.  Add your own in the comments!

The Ugly Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

Harold and The Day the Purple Crayon Quit

The Pigeon Wants a Poky Little Puppy

The Very Grouchy Ladybug Girl

Miss Spider’s Tea Party Rules

The Gingerbread Boy + Bot

The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck, Duck, Moose!

This is Not My Cat in the Hat

Z is for This Moose Belongs to Me

Mr. Tiger Goes Where the Wild Things Are

A Troop is a Group of Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Goodnight Owl Moon

The Butter Battle Bunny Book

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Snowy Day

Procrastination

28 Feb

 Who was procrastinating this morning?  “Not I,” said the fly.  Okay, maybe just a little. It’s the last day of February and I want to get a jump start on March.  I have three stories that need revision and I want to write an application for a grant this month.  Plenty of time!  Let me just grab a cup of coffee and watch a little news.  Nothing exciting there… how about some children’s television to inspire me?  Hmmmm, Spongebob Squarepants?  Oh well, what could a few minutes hurt?  No way!  Walt Dohrn, Paul Tibbitt, and Mr. Lawrence are geniuses!  Why haven’t I ever watched this before?

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Let me recap the episode for you.                                                                     Spongebob gets an 800 word writing assignment. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it picture book writers?).  He’s super excited. (You bet!).  He prepares his work space. (Smart.)  He dashes out the title. (Okay, good start.) “Funny,” he says to his pencil. “As my ideas roll, you shrink.” (This is great stuff!) Then…<cue the melodramatic music>…NOTHING!  (Uh, oh.) He finds other things to do in the house. (Feeds Gary, cleans the kitchen…this is my life.)  He finally sits down and works furiously for several hours.  (Ta-da!)  One word, only 799 words to go! (Tension! Suspense! Drama!)  Procrastination sets in. (Marco Polo phone calls in the middle of the night, choking on eraser shavings… really, how is one supposed to write with all this other activity going on?) He awakes from a nightmare. (Really… Walt, Paul and Mr. Lawrence, get out of my head!) He has an epiphany. (What all great writers experience.) He writes everything down at the last minute. (First draft is perfect of course.) He races to school and delivers it just in time, only to be told by his teacher that she has changed her plans for the assignment.   (Rejection! Take note authors… through no fault of his own, Spongebob’s piece was rejected simply because she changed her mind!)

New Old-Fashioned Card

22 Dec

Here we are at our first Christmas as friends, bloggers, and mutual-followers, and I don’t have a thing to give you!  You have all inspired me, just by believing in me enough to follow my quest to authorship, and I thank you.  I have found enjoyment, education, the encouragement at your blogs.

I would like to extend a holiday wish for peace, joy, and love for all of you.

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You’ll have to open the link below to watch the card come to life.

http://www.americangreetings.com/ecards/christmas/crossing-the-miles/pn/3360588?source=agpinterest

Walk a Mile in His Shoes

17 Nov

In looking for writing inspiration, I was browsing my pinterest boards and found this gem I had forgotten about.  It is definitely worth sharing. Barbara Gruener writes a blog called Corner on Character.  She has loads of great teaching ideas to help kids learn character education values.  This one is called Empathy in a Shoe.  Basically, you have several different types of shoes in shoe boxes for children to look at.  Inside each one, she has written a situation that the person wearing those shoes might be in.  Then she asks students to answer the questions posed as that person.

(Note to self:  Change the wording in the box from ‘the person that’ to ‘the person who’.)

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http://wwww.corneroncharacter.blogspot.com

 I can still get to the blog posting from my pinterest account, but when I added it here, it would not open.  Hopefully you have better luck with it than I did.  

It’s a great technique for teaching empathy, but as I was browsing I realized it’s also a great technique for writing as well.  Once you know a little bit about your character, take a few minutes to walk in his shoes.  There’s so much more to learn.  I decided to try it out with one of my new story ideas and I was amazed at how much better my character sounded on the page!

Have fun working with this technique.  Leave me a comment, I’d love to know what you’re up to!

My Corner

15 Nov

A. A. Milne had a House at Pooh Corner.  Loggins and Messina sang about it.

I have my corner.  I think I prefer Pooh’s Corner.  I know I prefer Pooh’s Corner.  But for now, I’m satisfied with my own little corner of the world.  My own corner is for reading, writing, and thinking.  (And like Pooh, there are many times I think I’m a bear of very little brain.)

Leaving 30 years of teaching and accumulated paraphernalia behind was no small task, ask my husband!  I left much of what I had amassed in the hands of other young teachers, some just starting out.  My fiction and non-fiction collections of children’s books (minus some of my absolute favorites and duplicates which I kept for myself) went to two very special teachers and a host of young people they will work with over the next several years.  Assorted rugs, lamps, shelves, chairs, and bookcases were donated as needed to different classrooms.  Boxes and baskets of markers, crayons, highlighters, tape, staples, paint, post-it notes, memo books, spiral notebooks, bulletin board trim, paper bags, paper plates, baggies, stickers, stamp pads, Mailbox magazines, cleaning wipes, and glitter disappeared faster than free cookies!

But, that’s not to say that I cleansed myself of everything.  In the trunk of my car I carried mementos, reference books, stuffed animals/book characters, science and math tools I thought I could use with my grandchildren, and some things I knew I couldn’t live without!  Over the summer, I set up some bookshelves in my husband’s basement office and organized my treasures.  And I use the term ‘organized’ loosely!

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This month in my PiBoIdMo group, we’ve been talking a lot about our writing spaces.  Are you organized/disorganized, quiet/noisy, pen&paper/computer?  Below is a photo of my current work space.  It’s not a fancy office, but I like it.  It’s always quiet.  I keep the TV off and I don’t listen to music, I find noise too distracting for me.  I like to read books, newsletters, online articles… and I like to research there also.  I usually have a drink and my reading glasses within reach.  I use my laptop for everything.  If I lost or broke that I would be lost!  I keep all my files, story ideas, drafts, and finished pieces on my desktop.  The chair is large and comfy and I can put my feet up on the ottoman while I work!

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This is where I work, where I find that I love what I do!

So, I’ll leave you, dear reader, with a wish that you find your own special corner of the world where you can be yourself and find happiness.  As for me, like Loggins and Messina wrote, “I’ve got to get back to the house at Pooh Corner by one.”

First Snow

12 Nov

We had our first snow dusting today.  It didn’t warrant school closures or delays, but I understand there were still traffic tie-ups this morning.  It was only enough to frost the leaves on the ground and layer the rooftops.  The roses that were still hanging on received a fluffy coating too.  By mid-morning the sun had stolen away most of what had fallen during the night.  Only the areas still shaded retained their wintery look.

Regardless of the amount, the dogs were ecstatic!  They bounded, rolled, and shook in the magical stuff.  They were so exhausted from the constant in and out to enjoy the newfound wonder and their obsession with collecting firewood, they immediately dropped off in a highly irregular noonday nap.

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This quiet afforded me the time I needed to work on a short story today.   It’s something different for me, but I’m going to give it a whirl. It’s actually something I started this summer as a children’s story, but I can’t seem to fit it into the confines of a picture book.  For one thing, my protagonist is older than the picture book audience.  So I’m revising it into … I don’t know yet, but something else!

My second project of the day… baking.  There’s something about snow that brings out the baker in me.  Looking around the house, I realized I need to shop for my winter baking needs.  Luckily, I had a few browning bananas and the essentials for bread.  Substituting orange zest for lemon zest didn’t seem to be too outrageous, so with my firewood collectors underfoot I whipped up a warm nutty loaf.

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So, please enjoy a piece with me and tell me your First Snow story!

Me and Mom

8 Oct

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This is a picture of me with my mother taken last May on Mother’s Day.  Many people have said that I look a lot like her.  I never really saw that, but in recent years I can see more and more of the similarity.  Sometimes I look in the mirror and am startled to see my mother looking back at me!

Notice how we’re both squinting into the camera?  That’s a bad habit we both have when we’re smiling.  Since this picture was taken, my mother’s vision had begun to deteriorate.  Although she didn’t know it at the time, she’d been developing cataracts in both eyes.  She found out this summer when she went to renew her driver’s license.  So we spent the better part of the summer having them removed.  I’d like to say that I was a perfect daughter throughout the whole process, but I must admit it was more than a little frustrating.  First of all, what genius decided that eye drops for cataracts should come in little tiny bottles with even tinier written instructions???  For goodness sake, the woman can’t see!  And to make matters worse, there was not one but three different eye drops to take in differing amounts and for differing lengths of time.  There was a full page sheet of ovals for her to fill in each time she took one of these drops.  So I did what any good teacher would do, I made the necessary accommodations and labeled three large ziplock baggies with the name of the drop and when is should be taken.  Then I cut her sheet into strips so that she only had to deal with one week at a time, because of course the directions for each drop changed each of the four weeks that it was administered!  And then we repeated the whole process for the second surgery.   Throughout all this process, she can’t drive…. so who gets to do all the shopping, library runs, post office delivery, banking, etc…. you guessed it!

Ah well, the good news is that now mom has almost perfect vision in both eyes and her driver’s license.   I still have my sanity and my mother… life’s good!

So here’s to all you children out there who are doing your best to help their parents, friends, and neighbors…. Keep up the good work, they appreciate it!

Gladys at the Cincinnati Zoo

26 Sep

1377263_10151877094755479_1638701262_nThis is a new photo of Gladys playing at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1379407_10151877094870479_1114669144_n Here she is again, playing with her big sister, Mara.

Gladys and the good people at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden who rescued her and found a home for her here in Cincinnati were the inspiration for a story I’m working on. It’s a story of adoption, finding a home, and acceptance.

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