Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

I need your help

MomCafe and Please Mum announced their second annual summer writing contest. And you know me, if it’s about writing a story, especially one based on my limited mom experiences, I’m all ears (or fingers). So I thought and wrote and thought and rewrote and it’s done and submitted. That should be the end of it, but it’s not.

See writing the story is only the first part of this competition. The second part is voting. Readers vote for the story they like best and that is what determines the winner. I’m not a big fan of ‘vote to win’ competitions, mainly because I don’t really know a lot of people. And it doesn’t help that my story didn’t get posted until 5 days after the contest started (so I’m a little behind)

And that’s where you come in. I’m swallowing my pride and asking you, my friends, to pop over and take a read. And hopefully if you like it, you’ll also vote.

http://www.pleasemum.com/essay_vote.php?essay_contest_id=96&story_anchor=all_96

Also please visit and vote for my friend and fellow writer of all things mom, Shanon

http://www.pleasemum.com/essay_vote.php?essay_contest_id=102&story_anchor=all_102

And thank you.

(Note: this is a sticky post. You can scroll down to see more recent posts)

Next Steps – July 27/09

Another week has passed since my last Next Steps list for working on my writing. But first, how did I do on last weeks next steps:

  • Submit my magazine story – Yup, I licked the envelop and sent it off. Now I sit and wait and pace and check the mailbox. Fingers crossed for the next six or so weeks. But it’s done.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I wrote a brief synopsis of my story, as well as a chapter outline. I also started to write descriptions of the main characters in the story. I was so excited I started to write the first chapter too.
  • Reading research – I haven’t done a very good job of this. I’ve been taking out picture books for my kids to read as part of the library’s Summer Reading Club. There are so many chapter books, but I think because my story idea deals with death I need to find books with a similar feel. So no Captain Underpants.
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – And this I haven’t done at all. I have found someone, an author, who’s offered to read it, but it’s based on her availability so this might have to wait a bit.

So moving forward into the next week:

  • Work on Chapter Book material – When I write, I like to write by hand so I want to set a goal of writing one to two pages a day for my story. Also I need to avoid editing any work I do write (that’s one way I knock myself off track, editing before I’m done)
  • Reading research – I think I need to find some chapter books that deal with serious topics and read them as a reference (not sure how I’ll find this list yet)
  • Review additional magazine story – I have another story I’ve written for a children’s magazine. I’m not sure if it works, but I need to revisit it and see if I can make it work or if it should just be scraped

A shorter list this week, but perhaps more writing will be involved.

Next Steps – July 20/09

It’s been a week since I first outlined my Next Steps for working on my writing. So let’s see, how did I do with last weeks tasks:

  • Renew my library card – Done. I reserved a few writing books too (Hopefully I can pick them up this week)
  • Finalize magazine stories – I’ve revised one story, ready to send out. The second story, after reviewing it, I’m not sure if it works still and I’m not sure if I can make it work.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript – Done, now I need to run it by a second pair of eyes for feedback.
  • Research the difference between Easy Reader/Chapter Book and Middle Grade Book – I’ve been reading and thinking about my story idea and I think I’ve settled on the EA/CB route.

So I’m feeling pretty good having completed the tasks I set-out for my first week. I’ll also admit they weren’t the hardest. Now we’re starting a new week and with that a new set of Next Steps:

  • Submit my magazine story –  Write a cover letter and submit the story to the children’s magazine for consideration.
  • Write an outline for my Chapter Book idea – I have a synopsis and now that I’ve decided to go the Chapter Book route, I want to develop an outline for each chapter.
  • Reading research – I need to take out and read a whole collection of Chapter Books
  • Picture book manuscript feedback – I’ve revised my picture book manuscript which needs a new set of eyes on it. I should also investigate critique groups too (I’m a member of SCBWI but have never really taken advantage of my membership).

So another week and another set of tasks. I’m always good at starting something, let’s see how good I am at continuing it.

Write a Review Wednesday: A Wizard in Love

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on Clare Beaton’s counting concept book One Moose, Twenty Mice. I love all sorts of picture books, but I especially love entertaining picture books from Canadian publishers, seeing as I’m from Canada. Well recently I was fortunate enough to receive some amazing picture books from the fine folks at Tundra Books to review.

@@@@@@@@@@

wizardcover I don’t think my kids are alone with their interest in anything about wizards. There’s something mysterious and magical about them. So it comes as no surprise that my kids were drawn to the book A Wizard in Love (age 4+), by Mireille Levert and Marie Lafrance and published by Tundra Books.

Hector, a retired wizard, has traded in his spells and potions for a quieter life in front of the TV eating cookies with his cat, Poisin. He doesn’t mind the crumbs on the couch or that his house is falling apart. Life is perfect. That is until he’s awakened by a dreadful noise outside.

On further investigation, Hector and Poison discover Isobel, the woman responsible for creating the ghastly sound. But even Hector’s old book of spells can”t save him from the charm of Isobel’s voice.

My kids were enthralled by the journey Hector makes from a messy recluse to a charming neighbour. My son especially loved the scene of Hector mixing a bubbling, nasty blue smoke concoction in his cauldron. The illustrations start dark, like Hector’s dilapidated house, but when Isobel is introduced and Hector is transformed by her beautiful voice and good nature, the illustrations become bright and airy. Hector’s physical appearance also changes, like the beast to the prince. My daughter enjoyed Hector’s cat Poison and the mischief he gets into in the background illustrations.

The story and illustrations work together, telling a wonderful tale about the power of love, about love conquering all, about the good buried within everyone. You can add a copy of A Wizard in Love to your personal library by purchasing from Amazon.ca

Even Hector's spells can't save him from Isobel

Even Hector's spells can't save him from Isobel

What’s your favourite family book? Some other Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Next Steps – July 13/09

So I’ve had some time to think about my writing/blogging dilemma (and I’ve received some great feedback and advice from people too). Instead of pitting one against the other, trying to sort out what’s more important, I’ve been thinking of ways to better use them to support each other.

One of my problems with my story writing, I think, is I don’t have any sort of deadline. It’s one of those things that gets done when it has to but if something else comes up (with a deadline) then that writing gets put aside. And the more I put it aside, the easier it gets to not pick it up. So, starting now, I’m going to set myself deadlines for my writing. And to make sure I follow through, I’m going to post them here, on my blog, every Monday. See. See how I’m using my blog to help my writing? Clever? Okay, maybe not. And this might not work, but I’m going to give it a try.

So here’s this weeks Next Steps:

  • Renew my library card. I can’t believe my library card has expired. I spend so much time there and seem to take out a lot of books (so my library fines indicate) but I’ve been using the kids library cards. I tried to reserve some writing books, which you can’t reserve with a child’s library card, and was told I couldn’t until I came in to renew my card. So that’s first on my list, renew my card.
  • Finalize magazine stories. I’ve written two stories for two different children’s magazines and have done nothing with them. I need to review them and finalized them and send them out.
  • Revise my picture book manuscript. I need to revise and get some comments on a picture book story I’ve been working on.
  • Research the differences between easy reader/chapter books and middle grade books. I have another story idea that I really like, but I’m not sure if the material is too much for an EA book. Need to get a better handle on determining which route to go.

Okay, there it is, spelled out for me (and anyone else who’s reading). Hopefully by next Monday I will have accomplished these and be ready to set a new list of Next Steps. Wish me luck.

Blogging is Killing my Writing

I love to write, especially fiction stories for children. I use to write regularly, full of new ideas. Then demands of work and my family started taking over and my writing slowly got left behind.

Recently decided to try blogging, thinking that would be a great way to get myself back into writing again. And it has, sort of. I do write on my blog fairly regularly. But now I seem to spend all my writing time working on my blogs (this one and the one at Everythingmom.com). And when I’m not writing on my blogs, I’m writing articles.

Beyond just sapping my writing time away, blogging also seems to have decreased my attention span. My mind seems to now be conditioned to write short concise pieces. I think that’s why I’ve moved into writing articles too.

Blogging also has a deadline I need to work towards. It’s sort of an unwritten deadline but if I want to keep my blog readers coming back or grow my readership from just my mom then I know I have to keep writing regularly.

I think the other reason I’m drawn to blogging over my writing is because blogging is easier. I blog based on an idea or thought. It’s just about me. Writing, even a short story or children’s picture book takes so much more work. First there’s the idea and you need characters as in more than one (most stories I’ve read don’t rely on just one character). Then you need your storyline with conflict and resolution, peeks and valleys.

And maybe I’m just tired. Maybe I’m feeling really tired lately and frustrated because I’m not spending more time on my writing. Maybe I can’t do both or maybe I need to have more discipline for both my blogging and my writing.

I’m curious what other writer/bloggers do. How do you manage your blogging time versus your writing time?

Online and Offline Worlds Collide

I’m not what you would call an extrovert, at least not in person. That’s probably one reason I’m drawn to the Internet and writing.  Online, through my blog or on social networks like twitter, things are different. It’s not that I’m hiding, but there is some sort of barrier, some sort of separation or comfort zone for me. Behind my computer screen people don’t know how uncool I am and believe me, I’m pretty uncool.

I can tell a joke or share a link with some amazing people online. I can have conversations and these amazing people will converse back. It’s kind of cool, which makes me feel kind of cool.

But what happens when the online world crosses into the offline world. That’s what happened to me today when Erica Ehm, founder of the Yummy Mummy Club (@yummymummyclub) wanted to talk to me about my writing, on the phone. I read the e-mail twenty times and each time I felt my pulse quicken. I mean we’re talking Erica Ehm, from Much Music fame.

I remember watching her on TV, talking to musicians like they were her best friends (some may have been). I mean, she’s like a celebrity to me. And now she wanted to talk to me. No wonder I was a little anxious.

I paced back and forth thinking about the email. Then I thought about a post Caroline from ParentClub (@parentclub) made about stepping outside your comfort zone and taking risks. And really, what’s the worse thing that could happen over the phone. Erica Ehm might discover my dark secret; she might discover how uncool I really am.

But I did it, I called. And you know what she’s really nice. I didn’t expect her to be nasty but somehow I just envisioned her being different, more celebrity like. She was personable and casual and cool. It was a great call and I think I kept my secret intact. That is until the moment comes where I get to meet her in person. Then the pacing and hyperventilating will probably start over again.

Write a Review Wednesday: One Moose, Twenty Mice

Welcome to another ‘Write a Review Wednesday‘, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on  Carin Berger‘s book OK GO. And looking back, most of the books I’ve talked about have been picture books. So this week I thought I’d shine some light on books for the baby crowd.

@@@@@@@@@@

Clare Beaton’s One Moose, Twenty Mice (published by Barefoot Books) offers a delightful twist to common concept board books. Starting with one moose and ending with twenty mice, children will delight in counting the colourful felt animals found on single and double page spreads. Along with the delightful horses and ducks, each page includes large numbers making for a fun way to reinforce number recognition.

For added fun, a repetitive phrase entices children to look for and find the orange cat hiding within the illustration. Not to worry, the cat isn’t hard to find, usually peeking out from behind the number or reaching in from just off the page.

This book has been a favourite for my kids for various stages in their young lives. As infants, the sturdy board book pages and colourful pictures delighted them as an introduction to reading. As toddlers and preschoolers they enjoyed counting the animals over and over again. We’ve read this book so many times that the words out of my kids mouths after counting the animals: ‘but where’s the cat?‘  Then squeals of joy when the find the cat’s eyes peeking or his paw reaching or his tail swishing on the page.

But where's the cat?

But where's the cat?

You can add One Moose, Twenty Mice to your own personal libary by buying it on Amazon.ca. You can also follow Barefoot Books on twitter (@liveBarefoot)

So, what’s your kids favourite book?

Write a Review Wednesday: OK GO

Aspiring writer of children fiction and blogger Tara Lazar started a meme entitled ‘Write a Review Wednesday‘ as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week I wrote a review on Elephant and Pig: I’m Invited to a Party, a new family favourite, specifically for my youngest daughter. This week I’m excited because we finally received Carin Berger‘s book (from Tara Lazar’s Going Green art contest).

@@@@@@@@@@

okgoMy kids have a great fascination, determination to take care of and protect the Earth. Not because they’re thinking about their future, but just because it’s the right thing to do. Then we came across Carin Berger’s latest picture book OK GO, published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers (age 2-5 ).

In a world of GO! GO! GO! It’s time to STOP and find a new way.

The text may be simple but the story it tells is a powerful tale of making greener choices. Carin’s whimsical collages are made from recycled paper, illustrating further the stories message.

The repetitive text makes it easy for even the youngest readers to enjoy. And the story in OK GO doesn’t just stop at telling us we need to make a change. It goes a step further offering suggestions in clever rhyme like ‘Waste less, Jess’ or ‘Take a hike, Spike’. It demonstrates that change isn’t just for adults, but everyone can play their part. I know the message sticks because my kids recite the lines while walking to school. My kids know OK GO and it’s message by heart and you will too because it’s a delight to read.

Collage artwork constructed out of recycled paper

Collage artwork constructed out of recycled paper

Want to add this to your own home library? You can buy it from Amazon.ca

And let me know what book your children like to read or you enjoy reading to them?

Just five more minutes

Oh, I don't have this one!

Oh, I don't have this one!

Yes, it’s true, I’m a selfless mom who puts her needs and desires behind that of her loving and caring family. What? You don’t believe me? It’s true, well when it comes to shopping that is. You can stop rolling your eyes now. The truth is, I hate buying for myself. I’m not sure why. It will probably come out in one of my therapy sessions later in life, some tragic prepubescent training bra shopping experience. I’m really bad with the whole shopping for me thing. If it wasn’t for my loving husband, I probably wouldn’t even have new underwear (thanks honey).

Okay, maybe my issue isn’t shopping but what I’m shopping for. I don’t seem to have this problem when it comes to bookstores, just  make sure I don’t have cash, debit or credit cards on me. Even without money I can spend an entire day there. And it doesn’t matter what the material is: books for kids, travel guides, new releases, cooking books, parenting guides, even magazines. I start in one end of the store and work my way around. Then throw one of those shiny SALE stickers on and all of a sudden I absolutely  need that copy of ‘Learn to Sing Your Multiplication Tables in Spanish’.

So it really comes as no surprise that I ended up buying gift cards for the bookstore as gifts for the kids teachers this year. I know, gift cards are so impersonal, but they gave me the justifiable excuse to buy $100 of other reading material just for me (shh). Makes me wonder what came first: my interest in writing instilled my love of books or the other way around.