Sunday, March 25, 2012

What's The Weather Got To Do With Things?

      I hate that we have to place blame anytime something doesn't go right, but today as I post, I must say that all the blame goes on Mother Nature for the not so good and the good
      It's maple syrup Sunday here in Maine and the not so good is that there wasn't one sugar shack open for business in our county. Why???? Because we've had a week of this kind of weather. It's still March and this is Maine. (shhhh..I've been kind of loving it!)

 The sap runs when the days are warm and the nights are below freezing so my neighbors didn't get much of nature's gold. This is the little house last year.

But this year,  no sap, no syrup, no crowds in our neighborhood. And the bottom line,  no $$$$ for those that depend on making a good part of their living in winter and spring.
   On another twist of Mother Nature's mood we got these-
      And it was the "Mother" that helped me get over the wall and out of my writing slump. Today it's been rainy for real, but my story got heavy showers the other day and my juices started flowing again.  It's really affecting my poor main character though. I know that if he were a real live kid, he'd probably pop me and run away. But he can't put himself in another setting. I'm keeping him in my neighborhood and watching his every move. He can blame me for the recent messes he's gotten into but I am going to say it's Mother Nature. She gave me rain. It was right here in front of me all the time. I know...simple. And this is simple and just a reminder for my writer friends. Look around you-what do you feel, what do you see, what do you hear, what do you smell, what do you taste? All right so try closing your eyes and asking the same questions. Use your senses...use common sense.
    Have a great week. I've got to visit with my "boy" and see where we'll take each other.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Beginnings, Endings and the In Between!

   This has been a week of all over agains...the first of the lasts or lasts of firsts! Here are a few firsts.
First time I've made play dough in a forever.  
First sign of geese flying back to their summer home.

First spotting of Mr and Mrs Mallard looking for a nesting spot.

First laundry hung out on the line-April 18th! - 74 degrees, a first for sure!

I had another first. One that I didn't take a picture of. It's that manuscript that's been giving me the headache. The one that's had me stuck in muck for a few weeks.  It's right in the middle of things!

The other night, I started from the beginning. I sat and read every word-out loud. (I had a pen in hand too and scratched and added along the way) TaDa! A new "beginning" for the troublesome chapter just started to flowwwwwww. Then it was time for zumba. I'd been sitting alone in the lobby of the school while my friends suffered through core exercises. Wanted to see if I minded sitting out. I'll tell the core isn't going to be conditioned anytime soon, but my middle grade manuscript has finally gotten back on track!
And then this came across my inbox from the lovely Alison K Hertz. It reinforces everything I needed- outline. In defense of myself, I do have a rough outline, but this is a  look at the whole picture, even if it's only a few hundred words.

I'm back on track. I may not have my chapters ready to present to my girls again this week, but I'm out of the rut, over that stone wall. I'm in the middle with a new beginning for the old chapter. Yeehaw!!!!!

As far as the end is concerned-not there yet! I think I know where I'm going. At least know where I think I'm headed. For now I'm happy with beginnings and middles and a new outline for a picture book I've been thinking about.

Have a great week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stone Walls

I've been running into stone walls all week. Yep, around here, it's stone walls instead of those made of brick. This is how they look on our property. This could be a great story starter-how do you suppose the 'old timers' (probably young guys) moved those boulders and placed them in a line?
Locals think they hauled them up from the pasture with the oxen they yoked.
I've tried yoking my oxen and say "gee" and "haw" but nothing is moving left or right. I've sat with  printed pages and pencil in hand and tried writing the next two chapters on my mid grade. I know where it's going, where I'm taking my boy, but I don't know how to get him there. I'm hitting the rocks and he's not paying attention to me. You know what kid, I'm going to take those chapters out of your life and grow you up too quick if you don't smarten up!
     It's over 50 degrees here in Maine. Kind of hot for a March day. The girlfriends and I met up and walked a few miles. Our little 'ville is singing spring.
The maple sap is dripping but the forecast doesn't sound like it's going to be a real sugary season. The nights are cold but not cold enough.  

The wild things are out in full force - robins, squirrels, geese are back. It's early and glorious. The domesticated animals are out too. 'tis the season. I took this photo the other day, and today when we walked past, she had a boyfriend visiting.
Life is good even though my head hurts from all the banging(come out come out wherever you are, boy!)...
 I'll tell you a few things that are extremely good and I'm thankful for. 
     My latest picture book manuscript is on rewrite #7!  Only five hundred words to write, rewrite, tweak and consider the critiques from you, my online friends.  Yes, I am thankful for all of you. Thank you for what you "see" and "hear" in my stories. Okay, so I'm in love with the internet too!
      I love the  girls I walk with My friends. They help keep me fit physically and mentally. Good friends make good blessings-sort of like good fences (or stone walls) make good neighbors.
       Just finished a year of Zumba classes twice a week, (and have sneaked in a Sat or two too!) and I'm not the least bit tired of it. Our instructor, Korinn, mixes up the music and the dances, so when we think we're getting good at one or two...there she goes again, changing things!
    There's much much family always goes on top, even though it's not written here.
    I guess you know I carry my camera in my pocket or I'll end with this sign I took in town on Saturday. Friends here have seen it a bunch of times-I laugh every time I do. Can't help myself. How about this for another story starter?!?!?! 

Have a great week!


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Books! Books! Books!

     Our mail lady brought me a package the other day, another prize I won for just entering my name over at Donna Martin's blog   Thanks Donna-it's still on the table so I can pick it up anytime and read on of the novelists stories. Speaking of the table, it's not a book, but a freebie that my friend and I found at our "dump" one day...It's an oldie but goodie!
Back to the books-I read for the Read Around on Friday. I got paired with a first grade class and was a bit worried because I think first graders are the smartest kids around...and they were. I brought my bag of books and showed them each one. They got to choose,
    First one they wanted to hear was The Little Fisherman by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Maine's own, Dahlov Ipcar.  I love this book and the kids did too. I read over at Islandport Press   that it was originally published in 1945. We discussed the illustrations along the way.
    The next one they chose was this:

  10 Turkeys in the Road by Brenda Reeves Sturgis. A Maine author and my friend. It's illustrated by David Slonim. The kids were quick to find the hidden numbers on each page and to tell me the next number by counting backward.  We had fun with this one.

Then I read another friend's book-These Bees Count by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sara Snow
   I told you about Alison's book last week. The kids liked this because it was like they were on the field trip with the class in the book. I mentioned Alison's other book, This Tree Counts and asked if they could guess what her next book was going to be....rhymes with Tree and Bee. I was so right about these kids being smart. They guessed Seas!
    Then they wanted to hear another friends "chapter book". Cork and Fuzz, Short and Tall by Dori Chacanos, illustrated by Lisa McCue
I don't have a picture of this book to show you, I left it for the classroom library. The kids were so proud to read,"Chapter 1, Chapter 2-they wanted me to know that they know!
   Then if that wasn't enough, we discussed the Dr Seuss book on the teacher's desk, The Lorax. The teacher had read it but they asked if I'd read it to them again. I hadn't read it before (I know!!!!) so had lots of fun with it. The Dr. used a few naughty expressions, but the message is strong. 
    I think the discussions we had were much better than my reading (over an hour!). Living here in Maine, the kids have a connection to each of these books.  Their parents work on lobster boats, have bees, see turkeys in the road, and have friends that are different than they are. There are also some that harvest trees so after the Lorax we had to discuss keeping the woods replenished.
    So that's it with a book week for me. Did you have as much fun reading as I did? I hope so.