Monday, November 18, 2013

Happenings!

     One week I say I’m not going to write anymore blog journals, and I stick to it for a while, as you can see. Well, it's been since August 19th...Yikes!!! Facebook is a blabber tool and I get to post and see others photos, so what more do I want to do, except when my friend Gail says she misses my blog postings. So, here I go again!
     
     Shrek the Musical was on my “social” schedule for the last 2 week-ends: opening night and closing. Yes, there is a difference. Personalities are much more developed by the end. They just don’t care!!! My friend Val introduced me to Shrek, a few years ago, in NYC.
 The kids, staff and techies took me back, at Camden Hills Regional High School, Camden, Maine. I can’t tell you how funny and professional that show was. The 2 grandkids were involved. Tori defined herself as “vermin”, having been a tap dancing rat, and one of the 3 Blind Mice...she was a Townsperson and Duloc dancer too.
        
      #1 Grandson worked the lights-left spot to be exact. He jokingly said, during the week, that the performers get flowers but the techies get nothing. So I picked him up flowers on the way. Ummmmm, except I substituted for beef jerky!!! It’s the boy thing, the girl is a vegetarian!

     Ms Zumba Queen here has taken a different road. When our class was moved to a different venue further away, my friend and I shopped around a bit. We ended up trying one of the local Ys- Waldo County in Belfast. When I say local, you know I mean about twenty miles from here. One of my daughters told me to commit to one class so I wouldn’t give up. So, that started out being Zumba, but that didn’t last so long because I was dropping Marissa off in one town and going in a different direction to the Y. So, decided to mix up the days. Now I get to do a water exercise class before going to Dynamic Definition! Doesn’t that sound impressive?!?!?!? Believe me, it is, even though the impression might not always be positive! Now friends, when you see me, I’m not sure that you’ll notice the new dynamically defined me. I’ll tell you though, I always feel defined the day after. Youch! Kathy, Sherry and I take turns driving, and gas is going down, so it’s all a good thing
     
      My writing brain has come out of the slag it had been in. I’ve had a few different things going on there. I won a critique from Joan Y Edwards who writes an encouraging blog, Never Give Up. Of course being the person that I am, I lost her e-mail address for a bit! 
    
     I also had the privilege to read and review an up and coming middle grade historical novel written by Nancy I Sanders, titled THE REDCOATS ARE COMING. It’s a Focus on the Family, Imagination Station book to be released in about January. Can’t wait to get my copy so I can read it to “my” school kids I volunteer with. I only go to South Liberty Christian Academy once every three weeks to read and do crafts, but the kids seem to love it. I’m still reading Tamra Wight’s, Cooper and Packrat-MYSTERY ON PINE LAKE. They always beg me to squeeze in “one more chapter” because Tami has a way of keeping them hanging, wanting to know what’s going to happen next. We’ve been talking about being thankful as we do the crafts. I’m thankful that I can read and craft with them. Can’t wait to get over there this week and share my flower design skills so they can create in the containers they made last time....and continue reading. This is Tamra at her own campground.
      
     A funny writing related thing happened at Shrek. I was sitting next to a little boy, maybe seven years old. He held his program to the kids in the row in front of him (cousins I guessed) and said, “That ‘paragraph’ doesn’t make much sense.”  They didn’t seem to care so I asked what he could read. The usual answer, “Chapter books!” Sometimes when I ask my next question, “What have you read?” they have no answer. This little guy said, “Juni B” (ironically was sorry to read, just today, that the creator, Barbara Park, died).
     Then I asked, “Can you read this?”
He laughed his little head off at the ad my daughter put in the program- Break a leg, Tori! That caught the attention of the kids in the row in front too!!! Anyway, should we be writing funny chapter books for those, oh so sweet, first and second grade sponges, that are so eager?

     It’s BiPoIdMo month and I’m on a roll with that. It means write a picture book idea every day for a month. Thank you Tara Lazar for starting this and for keeping us going with all your guest bloggers and quotes. It really is amazing how we all think so differently but how those ideas sometimes act as prompts for our own stories. 
        
      I have written a new picture book to be sent off to my critique partners and have gotten well into a new middle grade. Poor, almost finished, Amethyst sits patiently waiting for me to get back to her story that is near end. She may not be that patient, because, all of a sudden, I hear her  ... “I’m right here.” 
           “Wait your turn, Amethyst.”
            “But I was first,” she cries out!
             "Okay, okay, okay....just a little longer!
             “Right!” she says. “Promises, promises.”
     I’ll try to ignore for now though Amethyst knows I’m a procrastinator.
    
     As usual, the sky, especially the moon, has me under its spell. Loving life and the surprises each day brings. 



     Until next time...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Book Launch, Cooper and Packrat

pre PS (huh!)  -Teachers, Librarians, Caregivers, Parents, Authors, Friends of children, have to let you know that Cooper and Packrat-Mystery on Pine Lake, has already been chosen as a Junior Library Guild selection!  Now on to the blog entry-


Oops! It's been a bit over a month since I've posted here. It seems quicker to post  notes and photos on FaceBook, as events occur. Not this time though. I've got my cheerleading pom poms in hand and need to shout out and share exciting writing news.

Yesterday was my friend, Tamra Wight's book launch. And what an event it turned out to be! It was held at her Poland Spring Campground where I go for writing schmoozes. Here are random photos and commentary...Ta Da!

Dave Wight celebrating his lovely's book with editor Melissa Kim.
Cooper and Packrat's crew- Carl DiRocco, illustrator, Tamra Wight author, and Melissa Kim, editor at Islandport Press, right here in Maine.
Must read my new book!
Tammy reads to the crowd.

Carl interacts with the kids and shares his way of coming up with the right illustrations for the book.
Ben Wight, who has been able to 'experience' first hand, the many jobs of Cooper's, lets the kids choose the lucky tickets for door prizes.
The kids create book illustrations, the way they see and hear the story
.
 Campfire with s'mores, of course.
Editor lady enjoys hers!
Oh, there's the real Big Joe reading about himself!

I'm here with our schmoozers.



...and my signed copy.
The biggest surprise for me was seeing my name amongst the acknowledgements!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Planting Time

      It's been over a month again, since my last post. I am such a procrastinator and besides that, Facebook is so simple to quickly jot a day's happening. Those of you that read the postings know that I've enjoyed my winter and spring being a volunteer reader/crafter at our library story hour and at a local Christian School. I'm a bit sad that school's over though I helped a friend at her day care the other morning, and of course did some reading there.
     
      Planted the little garden a week or so ago, and I swear, it's as much work and takes as long to plant this one as when I used to plant the half acre plot! (a bit of exaggeration, maybe).  The hoe is the same one I've used all through the years. You can see the orange markings that have measurements written on each one. They were to keep the proper spacing so the rototiller could fit between rows(hub's way)...now, I do it my way...everything hugs!






 (love working the soil with bare feet!)
    So now the garden grows, foundation fluffed, seeds planted, sun and rain nurture. (no photos now though it's growing)
And that my friends brings me to my writing venture. I'm dry, in a drought! I thought the reading would plant seeds, nurture the buds, but I've had a few months of dry spell. I've never thought of this as writer's block-just drought, but some droughts just last longer than others. So what to do, what to do? Keep writing. Nurture the "old" seeds- tweak, revise, critique, and read other writer's ideas until one hits with a bang!
    I've always been able to look at the BIG of things and divide into little plots to tackle in comfortable pieces. Here's a blog that hit home this week...
 Donna L Martin    with Carol Munro.  Thanks.
 So ready, set, go!!! Make a plan, take it in smaller steps...I'm on, are you?
    Now, time for a bit of cheerleading and a big announcement...TaDa...
    For Sale-Monsters!!! And Tara Lazar's new book is the place to shop.
I have it on my to 'order' list. I'll admit (I hate to admit) that I buy many books for my kindle, but Monstore is going to be a book with paper pages to crinkle and turn and read and talk between the lines to "my" library and school kids. One of the things kids love best, when I read are the things that I share about the authors or illustrators I know or have met. They think I'm famous because I know so many of you famous authors! Check this one out-and congratulations, Tara!



I'll end by telling you about a few sweet surprises we received this week. One was a call from an "old" classmate to meet up with a few others that were in town-what a fun breakfast we had this morning. We don't see each other often, but when we do, it's kind of like we're still in our teen years...(right!)
  The other surprise was when "painter man" Chris Knight, stopped by the other night and gave us pure maple syrup that he and his wife Lorraine boiled down this spring. Thanks so much.
   Have a great week and don't hold your breath waiting for my next post. Hopefully it will be sooner than this one....mmmmmmmmm!

   

Monday, May 6, 2013

"My"/Our NESCBWI Conference

I had to drive to Springfield (alone) this year. I've never driven it, and I was a nervous Nellie! But, thanks to Google maps and my Gertie Garmon, I made the 5 hour trip without incident, 
except.... (page turn here!)
    Gertie said, "arrived at destination." I was at a red light and was delighted to look up and see, Sheraton straight on, in front of me. When the light turned green, I crossed the street to go to the hotel but found myself going the wrong way on a one way...horns blew, 3 lines of cars started toward me. The guy in the lane closest to me waved me around a U-ie and thank you Lord and thank you guy in the other car, I was back on the right track. Yeah!
    Arrived on Thursday to meet up with my lovely, beautiful roommates Val Giogas, and Denise, and later on our dear friend Heidi Davis. Thank you so much for the wonderful fun and sharing all week-end. I'm glad to be home but sorry I had to leave. 

I didn't take as many people photos as I usually do, but have a few to show you...


Sharon Creech! What a way to open a conference. Conference goers intent on listening.
 Pegi Deitz Shea presenting her workshop: Poetic Words for Prose-Beyond Adjectives and Advers for fiction. 

This is a photo of a photo of keynoter, Grace Lin, another keynote speaker. I took the photo to show to the kids I read to. I planned to purchase her Ugly Vegetables book but it was sold out at the library. I will get it. The kids love that I show them photos of the authors or illustrators or a signed book. They think I'm famous!
 Beautiful friends, Jeannine Atkins with  Jo Knowles speaking and thanking for her well deserved Golden Kite Award. Congratulations again, Jo.
   I don't have photos of the wonderful presenters of the workshops I took, but I'll tell you, if I had to choose a favorite, you'd have to kill me, because I can't. So much energy and enthusiasm. So much sharing. So much....
Truth.
I love this photo of my dear friend Brenda Reeves Sturgis, her honest to pete, editorial advisor, Emma Dryden, and her amazing, everyone wants her,  agent Karen Grencik .
I know Brenda's story, personal and writing journey. I know that she's a most talented rhyming writer. I know some of the truths about Brenda's journey that Emma so honestly shared with the audience, I know that they all have a wonderful bond. But, I was teary eyed with everyone else after this heartfelt panel discussion. Thank you. Thank you.
    2013 NESCBWI = Perfect!
     How lucky am I to have been there.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Word for today - Camera

I carry my camera in my purse so I'm ready to "shoot" most of the time. Here's what I saw yesterday, when I was driving home from Zumba class. I'm glad I was alone. My poor husband would have hung on for dear life when I pulled over and jammed on the breaks!




Only once in awhile I wish I had a camera like my friends Tami and Christine have-One that has changeable lenses though I wouldn't have it handy all the time, so mine is good.  Or a smart phone. I love that people can take good quality shots and immediately post them to emails or Facebook. I've been sent some great ones of kids sports events. But I pluck away with my trac phone and point and shoot camera.
  I shoot, shoot, shoot and here are a few other photos from this week...
Flowers from a friend. Thanks Kathy-and Irene and Marsha too for your lovely surprise!
One of the luscious steak salads I prepared for lunch the other day. I had never had a cold salad with warm meat on it until Tami Wight introduced me to them at the NESCBWI conference last spring. Now I fix them all the time. The bonus topping is a fine balsamic vinegar from Fiore in Rockland, ME. This one is topped with drops of two different flavors: Maple aged balsamic and Raspberry balsamic. Just to make everyone hungry!
...and Mr. Cardinal who hangs out here and watches out for the Mrs.
    So those are just a few shots from this week that are stored on my computer, which brings me to the photos of years past.  I have boxes and totes and bags and boxes full of pictures taken with the old film cameras: neighbors, friends, relatives, nature and tons of zoo pictures. I shared many and am trying to bag more to share now. I've always gotten sucked in-do you remember the time that Clarks and some of the others offered develop with me and you get a set or two free?!?!?!? I did! As for the zoo pictures, they're the animal shots like zebras, elephants, big birds. Where were they taken? I don't know.
     This has been a week of tragedies and triumphs, smiles, tears, and prayers. I found out this morning that one of our lovely neighbors died. My husband and I have been smiling and reminiscing about her all morning. Ariel wasn't judgmental at all because she never thought good or bad, she truly only knew good.
   Molly sent me a poem that I wrote about Ariel a few years ago. I will have to dig out my copy and edit, I think. I've always been a rambler with my words.  Am I a poet? I'm not sure about that. So even though this has no true form (besides Mona's ramblings) and is really rough, I will share this:

A wife,mother,neighbor,hero
living life by the word of the Book
giving offerings each day of her life
reaching out with the gentleness of 
a deer crossing her lawn on the dew of early morn
or with soft words that delicately touch like
lavender poppies,a welcome to her door
sharing shovels full with wanting neighbors
Her wisdom sharp and clear
Fine as the stitches sewn on a patchwork quilt
sweet smile on her face while she outlines
the one on a doll  in her lap, teaching
a granddaughter tricks of the craft or 
to be a heartfelt community volunteer
knowing when encouragement is needed
offering strength and comfort to those in need
considerate of each one's strength or weakness
consoling as we mourn the passing of her life.

In loving memory of Ariel Linscott.


         
 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Happy Spring!!!



     I live in Maine where we have four distinct seasons, and today is the first day of spring! We read and write about buds and daffodils, pussy willows and sprigs of green peeking through the brown earth. But this morning, we looked out to see this.


Can you believe?!?!?  We were expecting it. Our weather experts are pretty smart and warned us in advance. I was excited. Many of my friends sighed or ranted and expressed their anger at poor Punxatawny Phil. Me, I whined  too, before I went to bed, because I didn't see the inches of snow promised. So, I was happy with the overnight accumulation. (all right, I know my friends will try to catch me and put me in a hole with Phil!) There was plowing and shoveling, but too light and dry for snow people.
    My niece loved it too. The private roads weren't plowed so she had to spend a few hours with me before going to "auntie Kendra's". For her, this snow wasn't lemons it was fun and lemonade (or, in this case, hot chocolate).

   So, the season is mixing up our lives a bit, and personally, I've been mixing up my own a bit too. I've set the favorite non fiction picture books aside and am trying again to create fun and funny stories. It's been all about the verbs! We shall see. Besides mixing up the writing ,I'm mixing other things too. My friend Kathy and I have taken a different route for our 4 mile walk, the almost idle sewing machine is buzzing again (cute baby items, I think), the oven is warming and there's been lots of chicken soup simmering for neighbors who've had the flu. And hemming my GW finds while listening to a monotone kindle voice. And speaking of voice, I've really just "heard" what Cynthia Lord asked me last winter about my MG story character and until now. I couldn't come up with the answer to her question until yesterday! The  "all of a sudden" her question came to mind along with the answer. Yay! Oh thanks Cindy.
   Life just keep getting better and better. How can that be? With the exceptions of the rejections of course! Hey maybe just maybe one of those editors/agents will mix it up a bit and include me in their juggling!
     Happy day. Happy spring. 
     
    
  







Monday, March 4, 2013

Celebrating Dr. Seuss


Had a great day reading at Jefferson Village School on Friday. When I get to select schools, this is my first choice-could be because my nephew's the principal. But, I'm greeted by such great staff, eager to have me pull my 'tricks' out of the bag and read.  I started out with second grade, then ventured to kindergarten, lunch with the principal and a select group of honored students, and lastly over to fourth grade. I'm lucky to have a pretty big collection of books, many written by my friends, but I went to the library and picked a few extras this year because I wasn't sure about reading to the second graders. This is the stash I pulled out of my bag. We talked about authors and how the illustrators work with the author's words to create pictures for a book. They were quiet while I read Little Horse on His Own then got excited looking for the hidden numbers in Jen Ward's books. (2nd grade)
   Kindergarteners enjoyed the hidden numbers too. We talked about and wondered why David Slonim chose to feature the grumpy farmer instead of 10 turkeys in Brenda Reeves Sturgis' 10 Turkey's in the Road. 



 There was conversation about animals, and giggles when I read Spider Storch. When I finished These Bees Count, written by one of my critique partners, Alison Formento, there was lots of discussion. The teacher had lots to offer in this one because her family had an apple orchard when she was young and they 'employed' the bees.  It was all good!
          A not so great note was the rejection letter awaiting in the mail. Oh my, a lovely, complimentary note about my fun and well written manuscripts - yep there were two that I really thought fit the particular book publisher-oh well, the compliments surely beat the form letters, but it's still the 'almost'! But, on a brighter note, a really, really, really great new idea popped into my head and I've got the rough draft on paper. All my ideas are really, really, really great!!!!! So I keep writing. Ya never know. One day the well written won't have the "but" included in the letter!

      If you happened to see my Face Book page in the last week, you may have seen this.
While she was napping, I ran upstairs and whipped up a "dancing" skirt. Writer's are creative and this was from
     hazel and company
Erin Shakespeare is an amazing online writer friend who manages to do it all! Her Hazel blog is full of crafty ideas and this circular skirt is just one of them. I think this week, Erin's turned on to writing mode-but stay tuned!
        I've got to leave here and write on that super duper fantastic picture book story! Have a great week  or two. Enjoy every second of every day.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

MIA but Lot's to say!

     It's been a bit quiet around here lately for me. Some of you know what happened, but for those of you who don't, here's the scoop. Cute kitty, wild boy in the morning kitty, took a leap from the back of the love seat to my coffee cup one morning a few weeks ago, and full coffee cup took a leap onto my computer!
I didn't worry 'cause things were going just fine. I read the papers, my Yahoo Mail, and a few Facebook entries. Then, when I went to play my game, words with friends, asdfghjkl didn't work! Yikes-Rushed it to computer wizards who kept it for a few days, collected their ransom, only to tell me that I needed a new logic board and top case-aka, motherboard and keyboard and pieces of gold to fix it!!!  I wee wee weed all the way home. And I wee weed a bit online too 'cause Hazel Mitchell told me to take it to her very own Wizard, because if it could be fixed, he could. More days, more waiting with good news-Mike Mitchell, fixed my computer for only a few pieces of gold and I got it back just a few hours before the NESCBWI conference opened for registration.
   I'm register for spring conference...Yay!!! But back to the cute kitty. He was free and he's cute, but I'm thinking I could have bought a Maine Coon Cat for all he's costing me...but look, how can I even think that. Yup, that's him in the bag, being dragged around. I got him for the niece, and he's doing his job!
So without a computer, you read, you write-but not on works in progress, you make decisions about submitting your writing, and how important your NF stories are for the Common Core programs, sign up to read on Dr Seuss Day, and you take lots more pictures.
        A beautiful ghostly moon.
              and a duct tape pic.....only in Maine
            Kathy fooling around-actually climbing a few steps- on the exercise ball. We've added a core class to our Zumba regime. The first night I did 'ball', I thought my core was wrecked for life. Maybe I'd have to borrow that duct tape to repair it. Now though, I like it. Managed to plank on that big ball and stand on toes (only 2 times so far!) amongst other things as well as bouncing or rather plopping to the floor!
                          Daughter surprised me with sunshiny tulips
and then the blizzard struck. Hub and I got outside this morning and tackled the drifts...He on his Johnny and me with my big red (shovel) and my brother-in-law joined with his pick-up.


                                I shoveled this path
                                Here comes the brother-in-law. Don't worry, I fed him blueberry muffins and  
                               coffee. Thank heavens I had the muffins frozen from the last time I baked.
                                    There's the hub and his ever loving, Johnny.
    This was a beautiful day after. So so much shoveling and cleaning out. So much to be thankful for though. We kept the home fires burning, didn't lose power, had lots to eat and drink. Had plenty of everything in reserve, just in case. And for those of you who know me well, I'm kind of lacksidasical (sp???) when it comes to having the surplus pans of water...but this time, I listened to Mr and Ms weather people.
   I had bitter sweet feelings about getting out in all this snow. There was tons of light fluffy stuff to shovel. I took it layer by layer and it wasn't so bad after a few hours. If it had been wet heavy, I'd have broken the camel's back trying to throw it out of the way...but being so fluffy made it so I couldn't build any funny snow people.
           However, I couldn't be satisfied without playing a bit, so here it is.
    Enjoy your week. Make lemonade or cream puffs or silly snow scenes. Dance and sing and don't forget your Valentine on Thursday. I'll be working at Shelley's Flowers to help make your sweetheart day the sweetest!