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Saturday, November 18, 2017

November 2017 --- Golden Shovels and Thankfulness


 
I recently came across an intriguing picture book written by Nikki Grimes called “The Watcher.” It is written in a poetic form known as the golden shovel. This form was created by Terrance Hayes who wrote his poem “The Golden Shovel” as a tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks’s “We Real Cool.” Grimes’s poem, a 2-voice dialogue about classroom bullying, was inspired by Psalm 121. You can learn more here: Nikki Grimes

 
Here’s how a golden shovel poem works:

·         Take a poem you admire (1 line, several, all)

·         Each word in the lines you’ve chosen becomes the end word in the lines of your poem.

·         The end words must be kept in order.

·         Be sure to credit the original poem and poet of your inspiration

·         Your new poem and it’s inspiration don’t have to be about the same subject

 
Always up for a challenge, I decided to try creating my own golden shovel poem. And since we are fast approaching Thanksgiving, I chose as my inspiration an old childhood prayer familiar to many. Enjoy.

 

SAYING THANK YOU
 
It shouldn’t be hard to Thank
All those who love you
To speak up and say thanks for
The very many ways that the
Love that they give makes this whole world
And your place in it so
Amazing, so sweet.
 
It shouldn’t be hard to Thank
Those who care for you
To speak up and say thanks for
The things they provide—not just the
Necessities like clothing and food
But all those extra things we
Want to wear or eat.
 
It shouldn’t be hard to Thank
Those who challenge you
Or to say thanks for
The pushes and the prodding, the
Call to fly higher than the birds
And do all the things that
Cause your heart to sing.
 
So why not pick now to Thank
Those who surround you
They’re your gift from God
Why not say “Thank you for
Everything!”
 
 
 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A HALLOWEEN EXPERIMENT



ONE HALLOWEEN
 

SCRAPE . . . SCRAPE . . . SCRAPE, CLANG

BURBLE-GLUB, BURBLE-GLUB, BURBLE-GLUB

PLIP, PLOP, SPLISH

PLINK, PLONK, SPLASH

UMMM . . . GROAN

GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE, GRUMBLE

SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK

GRUNT, CLOP, GRUNT, CLOP

AAH-HA

SCRITCH

CLOP, GRUNT, CLOP, SIGH

SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK

CLICK, RUSTLE

CACKLE, SNORT, CACKLE

AH-HEM . . . AB-RA-KA-DAB-RA!

SWIIIIIISSSH

ZAP! SIZZLE! POP!

MURMUR, HUM, RATTLE!

GURGLE . . . RUMBLE . . . BUZZZZZ

BOOM!

YOWL, HISS, YOWL

FLAP, FLAP, FLAP, SWOOSH

HOW-HOW-HOW-OOL

WHOOSH, WAIL, WHOOSH, SHRIEK

RATTLE, CLANK, RATTLE, CLINK

MUMBLE, MOAN, MUMBLE, MOAN

HEE HEE HEE, WHOOPEE!

DING-DONG, DING-DONG

SHHHH!

SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK, SQUEAK

CRREEAAKK

TRICK-OR . . . SCREECH!

THUD, THUD, WHIST

THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP-THUMP . . . .

HUH!

RUSTLE, RUSTLE

OOHH. . . .

LAP-LAP, SLURP-SLURP, CRUNCH-CRUNCH

GUZZLE-GUZZLE, CHOMP-CHOMP, MUNCH-MUNCH

YUM! HEE-HEE, SNORT
 
 
[Yep, this was a story told in sounds. Were you able to visualize the action? I would love to hear your reaction.]

 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A LOOK AT THE INLAND NW's 2017 SCBWI CONFERENCE


September 16th I attended the Inland NW SCBWI Conference: Plotting Your Course. This makes the ninth time I’ve attended this regional conference in Spokane, Washington and I’ve never regretted a single trip. Why? It’s a combination of things, I think.
The INW region has a great core group who put on this conference. Most may live in or close to Spokane, naturally, but they have never made those of us from further away feel like shirttail relatives. They are a welcoming group, a sharing group. A group who are always looking to give participants the best possible opportunities to learn and grow as writers.  

This conference is smaller, more intimate than many others. With fewer people, it’s easier to catchup with old friends while still leaving time to make new ones. Finding an opportunity to briefly chat with one or more of the faculty is also more likely. And there’s something to be said for the lower stress of a one-day schedule that takes place in one room. Sometimes it’s nice not to have to remember what topic you picked for which of multiple breakout sessions or not worry about finding the right rooms.
Yet even a one-day schedule can be packed. There were four main presentations, two table-talk sessions (each with a choice of 4 topics), two panel discussions, and even a short first pages critique session filling our day. The topics were industry current, highly informative, and had something for both the newbies and the more seasoned crowd. To give you an idea, here’s a glimpse at the main faculty presentations.  

Jennifer Mattson, agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, opened her talk by assuring us that despite the gloom mongers, juvenile sales are up. She then gave us an overview of the five big categories in juveniles, defining their characteristics (as well as noting some current changes in those), and then touching on the “ever-green” types of stories that sell best in each.
Agent John Rudolph, from Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret, shared his insights into how to hook a children’s book agent. His Big Three: Exciting Plot, Original Characters, and Unique Voice. He elaborated on those in reference to the three categories he represents (Young Adult, Middle Grade, and Picture Books) and closed with tips on query letters and elevator pitches. John admitted up front that his talk would be based on his personal likes and dislikes, but as the “seasoned crowd” could affirm, there was ample universal truth in those.

Miriam Newman, Associate Editor with Candlewick Press, gave us an insider’s look at the revision process once a book gains an editor’s attention. From the back and forth of “Big Picture” structural revisions down to the final rounds of copy editing, it can be a very long voyage, but the destination is always to make the resulting book the very best it can be. Miriam also shared an important caveat, one that might be hard to follow when offered your first book deal. Be honest, if the feedback you get doesn’t meet your ultimate vision for the work, thank them and say you feel your visions differ, and then move on.
Author Amber Keyer (The Way Back from Broken; Pointe, Claw) spoke from a naked heart in her key-note address: Staying the Course in All Kinds of Weather. Pulling from her own life journey as it became her publication journey, Amber’s story was both gut-wrenching and up-lifting. The emotions in the room were palpable as we relived the events she shared. Nevertheless there were at least two very positive things I took away from this talk. Why write? Because there are stories that demand to be written, even those that come from our pain. And how do we keep on writing? By surrounding ourselves with a supportive family and the caring friendship of other writers.

Okay, now you’ve seen what a smaller conference can offer. What’s that? You’re still not sure it will suit you? No worries. That merely insures it will stay just the right size for the rest of us.
 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

AUGUST 2017 -- Eclipse Haiku

Almost to Totality - Eclipse 2017 L. Rizzuti

If you saw any part of this spectacular event, you will understand that I couldn't let August go by without some tribute. Thus the following haiku:


Thirsty shadow feeds
 
Gnawing daylight from the sky
 
Holding sun captive.
 
 
 
Shadow swallows sun
 
A cold, dark veil flows eastward
 
Speckled with day stars.
 
 
 
If Moon's shadow drinks
 
All the sunlight from the sky
 
Is Earth's refill free?
 
 
 
Note: Photo taken with the camera on my Kindle Fire aimed through 10-power binoculars with a solar filter mounted on a camera tripod--a job that took 4 hands. 👍👍 👍👍


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

July 2017 -- My Muse Is On Vacation


 
 
When the weather’s hot
My muse is not
In the mood
For motivating. 
So until it cools
My muse refuels
By mentor
Investigating.
 
 


Monday, July 17, 2017

INLAND NW SCBWI CONFERENCE


 
 
       The Fall Conference for the Inland NW SCBWI region is coming Saturday, September 16, 2017. I hope to see some of you there for a fun and fabulous day of talks, networking, and recharging our writing batteries. Follow this link for more information: Plotting Your Course




Wednesday, June 14, 2017

JUNE 2017 Writing Prompt -- Curiosity: A Drabble

Telling a story in exactly 100 words? That would be a drabble. I was first introduced to these little nuggets years ago in the fan-fiction world. I liked the challenge of brevity, of trimming the fat. Of making one word do the work of many. Perhaps that's why nowadays I challenge myself by writing children's picture books.

The Pinterest pin that inspired this post can be found here: Curiosity


CURIOSITY

     “Angels in heaven! It’s ginormous!”
     “Precisely why we are here.”
     “It’s gotta be as big as a cook stove!”
     “A shade bigger, I think.”
     “How long do you think it took?”
     “To reach those dimensions? Several years.”
     “But why?”
     “Does it matter?’
     “You? Not curious?”
     “The curiosity of cats is over-rated. However, there is one trait that is not.”
     “Hey, where are you going?”
     “To do what any cat must do.”
     “But it’s ginormous.”
     “We’ve covered that.”
     “Just be careful.”
     “I have nine lives.”
     “Yeah, well that big old ball of yarn you’re aiming to play with probably has ten!”
 
 
 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MAY 2017 Writing Prompt - Recharging


Truth be told, I wrote this pair of haiku and then found a picture I felt matched—well, perhaps lightened is a better word—their mood.

That picture prompt can be found here: Recharging



 
THE NEED
Some days my soul sits,
A pool of stagnant water
Tainted by life’s noise.
 
 
THE FIX
Eyes closed, mind static.
My spirit is recharging
On peaceful silence.
 
 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

April 2017 -- Another Spring Haiku



Rain coaxes, sun charms.

Tiny sprouts rise, seeking sky,

Unfurling their green.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

MARCH 2017 -- A SPRING HAIKU

 
 
 
              With lion’s claws sheathed,                               
             Gentle lamb frolics and plays
                   Amid spring’s magic.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

LAUGH AT THE WEATHER - ATTEND A WEBINAR SERIES


In regions where winter travel weather rates far from optimal, attending any kind of event for writers and illustrators during those months can be a challenge. Or should I say it would be unless, like the Inland NW SCBWI region, you bypass the snow and ice by offering a 4-part webinar series.
On four consecutive Saturdays mornings between January 21 and Feb 11, participants in FROM BRIGHT IDEAS TO THE FINAL PAGE TURN lounged in their pajamas, sipped their tea, coffee, or cocoa, and left their cars in the driveway. For me, it also meant no worries about sharing my nasty winter cold. The nicest part, however, was that these live presentations were also recorded. No angst over scheduling conflicts. No problems if the kids interrupted. No regrets that you missed a golden nugget of inspiration while frantically jotting down another. Next to being there in person, what more could you ask for?
This particular series was on picture books and featured three authors and one author-illustrator. And what a line-up! That first Saturday, Tara Lazar’s (Little Red Gliding Hood, Normal Norman) effervescent personality and wacky humor shone through as she shared strategies from her years as the founder and moderator of Storystorm—formerly PiBoIdMo—to spark us into “Brainstorming Better Ideas.” My favorite takeaway: Think about your story idea next to current popular titles on a bookstore shelf. Will kids pick it up? Will parents?

The Northwest’s own Jessixa Bagley (Boats for Papa, Laundry Day) spoke to both illustrators and authors the following Saturday as she connected her journey to publication with thoughts on how each of us could “Polish Your Personal Style and Voice.” For Jessixa, the key is finding and mining your personal connection to the content—what inspires you, moves you, draws you in? My favorite takeaway: An exercise Jessixa has always remembered from a conference - visualize yourself at your favorite age as a child and write for that child.
You gotta love a guy who can turn breakfast foods into picture books characters. And tell their story in rhyme. Josh Funk (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast, Dear Dragon) made known his views on the “To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme” debate while sharing several pithy tips on doing rhyme right. My favorite takeaway from Josh: Remember, rhythm and rhyme is not about whether it works for you, but whether it works for everyone else who will be reading it cold.

The series final presenter definitely does rhyme right. However, after twenty-one years of writing and 37 published books, “Strong Beginnings, Satisfying Endings—And Navigating from One to the Other” is also something Linda Ashman (Hey, Coach!, All We Know, The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books) does right. Linda’s hour was jam-packed with information, making me doubly glad I could view the recording again later. My favorite takeaways: the reading list Linda shared of mentor texts for further study of the story structures she spoke on and her motto (borrowed from a fellow writer?)—There are many ways to tell story. Just try stuff.
Following the series, a survey asked if we felt we came away with a) lots of new information, b) a little new information, or if c) we felt we heard it all before. I always find that a hard question to answer. I mean, let’s face it, after attending conferences, workshops, etc., for a number of years, chances are you’ve heard these topics before. However, what I see as the key that keeps me coming back is more about the presenter than the topic. Every writer or illustrator brings their own life experiences, their own unique viewpoint, and their own style of dissecting and imparting information to their presentation. Which is great because we all have our own unique way of learning. What I lose in the info-dump of one speaker, another will make so clear it literally pops like a light bulb. The writing exercise one shares leaves me uninspired while that of another is a genuine “ah-ha!” moment. Add in the marvelous variety of resource books, mentor texts, and inspirational anecdotes and quotes each presenter shares and hopefully you are starting to understand. Even if I feel I may not have come away with new information, I do come away re-inspired by even the most well-worn topic.

So would I participate in a series like this again? In a heartbeat!!
 
 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

February 2017 Writing Prompt -- Little Boxes and Friendship




  LITTLE BOXES

Dear Friend,
You are safe with me.
I will not unfriend you
Because your beliefs and opinions
 May differ from my own.
 I do not seek the conformity
Of “little boxes just the same.”
I choose to embrace
The diversity of ideologies
 To which friendship exposes me.
 If this makes things challenging—
When the best we can agree to
Is to respect our disagreement—
Know you are worth it.
My growth as a person depends on it.
You are safe with me.
 
 
If you aren't familiar with the "little boxes" reference, this link will take you to a Pete Seeger  recording of this song written by Malvina Reynolds in 1962: Little Boxes
 
 
 

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 2017 Writing Prompt -- Snow Melts






Snow melts, drip-dropping,
Finding my bare neck, snaking
Shivers down my spine.
 
 
 
 

Monday, January 9, 2017

A Month of Story Ideas



In November 2015, I participated in PiBoIdMo--thirty days of jotting down story ideas, characters, plots, or even word lists in the hopes that these bits and pieces might inspire a picture book manuscript. I faithfully jotted down my 30 plus ideas and eventually found at least three I knew I could develop further. With those works in progress added to my repertoire, participating in this event was a success as far as I was concerned and I eagerly awaited November of 2016. 

Then in the fall of 2016, PiBoIdMo founder, Tara Lazar, announced she was revamping the event. The idea was to give it a name more associated with brainstorming motivation. And one much easier to say. Furthermore, it was moving to a new month.  Moving the dates, did away with any conflicts with the popular NaNoWrMo event that many children's writers also like to participate in. I bit back my impatience and looked at these changes as a win-win scenario. As soon as registration opened, I signed on.

STORYSTORM  debuted January 1, 2017. There may be a new name and new art work, but at heart it's still all about chasing those elusive story ideas. Once again, Tara has enlisted some wonderfully creative writers and illustrators to provide daily posts that will sizzle synapses like lightning, blast in a blizzard of bright ideas, and leave participants over the rainbow with a pot of golden nuggets. I don't know about you, but like Pecos Bill, I'm going to jump on this twister and chase me down some stories.