Category Archives: #amwriting

ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD

With Middle Grade Author, Sandy Brehl 

Friday, December 15, 2017

The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. 

My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will 2-200x300share their ‘top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!

Today, children’s fiction author of the middle grade historical trilogy about the first year of German occupation of Norway in WWII as seen through the eyes of a young girl, is Sandy Brehl!!!

odins promise BjornsGiftFrontCoverFinal2.indd mari's hope

Below is Sandy’s category list from A – Z and her answers off the top of her head. 

[Message From Sandy: An advance warning: a knowledgeable professional once said I was a wildly divergent thinker, and I interpreted that as having too many favorites in life…]

APPLIANCE:  heavy duty mixer

BAND INSTRUMENT:  (hard to march with a piano- I was drill team!)

COLOR:  denim

DAY OF WEEK:  Thursday

EVERY CHILD: is gifted, challenged, and could be yours. Treat them all that way.

FUNNY WORD:  strumpet

GAME:  Jeopardy, especially kid-made versions

HISTORICAL FIGURE:  Martin Luther King, Jr.

INSECT: cricket

JAMMING SONG:  Most 60’s music

KNOW HOW TO:  feed an injured hummingbird

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):  Kids and word play

MOST LIKELY TO:  be ambivalent (I tend toward “yes, but”)

NON-FICTION BOOK:   Adult/ EVICTED: POVERTY AND PROFIT IN THE AMERICAN CITY; Kids/ FLOODWATERS AND FLAMES: THE 1913 DISASTER IN DAYTON, OHIO 

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY:  Gardening

PLAY:  Soccer with my dog

‘Q’ WORD:  Quisling

RHYMING WORDS:  cerise and chemise

SYNONYM FOR GREAT:  bodacious

TRANSPORTATION:  walking

UNUSUAL ANIMAL:  platypus        

VILLAIN:  Goatman

WISH:  Superpower:  ability to control time

X WORD:   Xerox

YELLOW (SOMETHING):  sundrops (common name for evening primrose)

ZANIEST THING YOU’VE DONE:  zero- I don’t do zany well (see M above)

ME:  Sandy, you have bodacious timing with your word choices. Meaning, while reading your category followed by each answer, the process that went through your mind as you answered, is shown (of course your advance warning played a part). Speaking of time, your wish for a superpower is fantastic! What would be your first order of operation if you could control time and why?

SB:  My students loved exploring potential “superpowers” and this was always my choice. It was especially true as education became so time-and-testing accountable. I wanted to “stop the clock” so we could pursue creative and curious questions, but then resume the “required” work with time reset for us all. I especially would have used the power to provide more recess time, more often. Play is a superpower in itself.

Currently, my time superpower would relate to writing. It would work like this: when doing something engaging, I could continue until choosing to stop, then reset time back to the point I need it to be. I have no doubt that writing, researching, and anything I enjoy would be even more satisfying and fun if I didn‘t have a nagging voice in the back of my head reminding me of other things I should be doing or when I’ll have to stop. 

Alternately, when anything miserable or stressful is happening, I’d fast-forward the experience. I’m not so concerned with eliminating negatives in life, but I’d love to be able to “get through” hard times, especially for those I love, as quickly as possible and move on with life.

At the time I’m writing these answers, I’d launch my annual holiday cookie-baking project and then reset time to the present, with everything baked, packed, and ready to deliver! (See pix) 

ME:  Those cookies look delicious. I think you need Hermione Granger’s time turner!

I have to ask, what was your drill team like? Was it military, high school, college? And, true, carrying a piano while marching would be difficult so I am trying to figure out if you played the piano at the end of the field, for the drill team. Can you give us some insight?

SB: It was a precision-formations team, and our coach was a former marine drill sergeant. I participated three years in high school and one year at Marquette when they were trying to get a unit started. 

ME:   Gotcha! And now, Marquette’s drill team is still going strong.

Do you have a photo of you and your dog playing soccer? Does your dog use his nose to push the soccer ball to you or his paws? kaffefootball.3. copy (1)

SB:  My twelve year old Sheltie has been slowed by arthritis, but he still wants to play several times each day. He uses paws, body blocking and nose. He’s got great moves, even now. He’s best in goalie position, guarding that ball for all he’s worth, which doesn’t require as much running. 

ME:   He is adorable! Bless his heart for not giving into age. We can learn a lot from him. 😊 I bet he loves being by your gardens as well! It’s apparent you enjoy gardening. Sundrops are beautiful! And hummingbirds love to visit them in wee hours of sundropsmorning before the flowers close for the day. Was it near the sundrops that you found an injured hummingbird that you nursed back to health? Please tell us about that experience.

SB: Good hypothesis, Traci, but the two don’t really connect. Sundrops are great at spreading, so I have expanses of them in various parts of the yard. Their resilience and indomitable cheeriness feels like I’m surrounded by happy face emojis when they are in season.

The hummingbird story comes from the years (long ago) when I was state and federally licensed to rescue and rehabilitate Wisconsin and migratory birds and mammals. 

I got a call about an injured hummingbird and hurried to retrieve it, (not very optimistic). It was crouched on the sidewalk during a summer storm, not even able to stand. That meant it was likely a back or brain injury, although it could have hummerbeen the result of pesticide poisoning.  

Recovery for hummers is challenging, requiring hand-feeding, special feather care, bathing, and perching arrangements, with long periods of exercise. Here in the Midwest, rehabbers are less likely to work with hummers, although California and SW states encounter hummers in danger much more often than we do here.  [This photo of a juvenile female Anna’s hummer is similar to how Sandy handled the ruby-throated hummingbird she found and rehabbed. Photo credit: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2011/aug/04/hg_paul_mary_meredith_080511_147536/%5D 

The happy ending to my summer-long story is that Hummer eventually regained full strength and health, rehabilitating throughout August in a large outdoor enclosure. After releasing to the wild, he continued to feed in my yard with other hummers for a few weeks before they gradually migrated in September. 

Anyone who is intrigued by this little anecdote should read FASTEST THINGS ON WINGS: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, by Terry Manear. I reviewed it on Goodreads, here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22749877-fastest-things-on-wings?from_search=true

I could have listed it as a favorite nonfiction in the alphabet above.

ME:   Wow! I didn’t know you were a wildlife rescuer and rehabilitator. I am in awe of you. And yes, the book, you mention is fantastic! Thank you for recommending it to me. Hummingbirds are my favorites.

Going from sweet little beings to naughty ones. You wrote Goatman as your villain answer. Goatman was the main villain in your trilogy. What can you tell us about him?

SB: Goatman was a necessary evil, actually.

The overwhelming enemy in my trilogy is the threat to Mari and her family, village, and country, a threat posed by Hitler and World War II. But in a great story the antagonist needs to be more personal, more immediate, and more able to be directly confronted than a broad concept can provide. 

In Odin’s Promise, Mari is threatened by the sudden invasion of her previously safe homeland. In that first year, when she is only eleven, she faces the greatest danger from a pair of patrolling soldiers, nicknamed The Rat and Scarecrow. In that book and onward I was intentional about portraying soldiers as individuals, as having separate identities and motivations. Part of Mari’s journey in that first book is her growing awareness of that truth. She learned to guard her words, her trust, and her actions, even among presumed friends. 

In the second book, Bjorn’s Gift, Mari interacts with one of those lifelong friends on a daily basis, one who not only poses a danger to her but also becomes a puzzle to be solved. 

In the final book, Mari’s Hope, three long years of war remain, much of it an endurance test with increasing hardships. My challenge in that book was to find ways to turn a long slog into a dramatic story, one with an immediate threat to Mari and her village. One with an personal and ever-present antagonist.

That is the German soldier, Goatman. 

Among the many ways locals resisted the Germans and their propaganda campaign of friendship was to mock the occupiers behind their backs, including assigning derogatory nicknames. Even so, I was determined to portray this necessary threat as an individual. He is despicable, but is also flawed. It’s giving nothing away to say that he is an alcoholic, which accounts for many of his actions. I wanted to be sure that young readers could sort out the all-encompassing evil of German policies and actions from the additional threats of an individual soldier living right next door to Mari. 

ME:   Mari is a wonderful role model. I fell right into the trilogy from the start of Odin’s Promise and…I learned a lot! I also learn quite a bit from the game show JEOPARDY which is your game answer. If you were asked to be on the game show, JEOPARDY and could choose between the adult version or kids version, which would you choose? For me, it would be the kids’ version, which I would still stink at.

SB: Oh, easy-peasy. The kids’ version, of course. As I watch the televised version I’m often astounded at how many of the questions could be answered by my elementary students. jeopardyI maintained an open door policy in my classrooms, inviting volunteers and encouraging special support staff to work in the room with us rather than remove individuals to a hallway. I couldn’t begin to count how often the adults would comment on learning things they never knew before.

Kids loved hearing that, and also quizzing the adults! It was fun to see how well kids eventually developed those descriptive statements, ones that included critical information and could have only one correct response- in the form of a question, of course..

That’s not as easy as you might think.

ME:   That format does not sound easy to me at all. It is learned skill. Your students are lucky to have a teacher like you!

The 60’s were a turbulent time in our history. Since you wrote Mari’s trilogy, are you by chance working on more historical fiction? And, just for fun, if you were to write a synopsis using answers from your category sheet, what would the story be about?

SB: I have story ideas from the 60’s, and from other earlier eras. Some come from personal experience, from stories I hear, or from great books I read. For those interested in stories set in the sixties, I recommend Gayle Rosengren’s COLD WAR ON MAPLEWOOD STREET (Cuban Missile Crisis).

I didn’t intend to write more about Norway. And yet… I have several works in progress with that setting, including picture books and a novel in verse. 

I didn’t set out to write historical novels, but I did want to share stories (and some amazing research) about the courageous people in a corner of Norway. The personal stories I heard while there were completely surprising to me.  Even so, I expected to tell those stories in that debut book, ODIN’S PROMISE, which involves only the first year of the German occupation.

But readers insisted on a sequel. That led to more research, to collecting more anecdotes, and eventually I wrote a two-part sequel. The second book involves the next eighteen months in which the German claim of protective friendship falls away, replaced by threats and severe new laws. It was during that time period when all but a few lucky escapees of the small Jewish population in Norway were deported to the concentration camps in Germany, from which few returned. 

Using that background and what I’ve indicated earlier, here’s the best I can do for an ABC synopsis of Mari’s Hope: (only 8 words from the list) 

In the final years of World War II, Mari walks a treacherous line as a doctor’s helper and participant in local resistance activities, putting her in heavy-duty jeopardy. She travels beyond the district borders, meets a young girl in need of friendship and advice, and survives a disaster in Bergen, Instead of playing soccer or romping with her dog, Mari must face a friend’s betrayal as well as the snooping and threats of German soldier, Goatman. Even when her hopes waver, Mari has no ambivalence about standing up for her family and for Norway.

ME:   That is an excellent synopsis Sandy! I actually find that I have learned more from reading historical fiction than I do reading straight up non-fiction history. You still have to base your fictional stories on fact to lend credibility to the story. And you have a wonderful knack for it.

Thank you, Sandy, for being a contestant today!

Readers, thank you for stopping by! You can learn more about Sandy and her books here:

https://www.sandybrehl.com/

And you can follow her on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/sandy.brehl

https://twitter.com/PBWorkshop

https://twitter.com/sandybrehl

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7831795.Sandy_Brehl

Have a fantastic weekend everyone! Cheers to making it count. 🙂 

Traci

 

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FLUFFY

[Word of the day stories are prompted by a Word of the Day selection by any of the online dictionaries. Once a word is chosen, I set my timer to write and edit a story in one hour, no more time than that. The idea behind this is to promote just getting the ideas written as that is the biggest hurdle for most writers.]

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

sustain – verb

suh-stayn

  1.   to provide with nourishment
  2.   keep up, prolong
  3.   to support the weight of; prop; to carry or withstand
  4.   to buoy up
  5.   suffer, undergo
  6.   to support as true, legal, or just
  7.   to allow or admit as valid

 

Archie gathered the white fluffy stuff into a mound. The more he tried shaping it into a ball, the more the white fluffy stuff spread out. It was no use. No snowman today.

The next morning, fresh new fluffy stuff piled on top of the old. Archie called his friends.

“New snow! Come over and help me make the biggest snowman ever. With this much snow, we can build a whole family!”

Archie’s friends, Barb and Gloria, rushed right over, decked out in winter attire.

“This is his bottom half.” Archie pointed to a low mound of snow.

“Where?” Barb asked.

“Did he melt?” Gloria asked.

Archie squinted his eyes. Only one thing to do, try again.

“Good point. Let’s build a new bottom.”

Together they rolled, they patted, they pushed, and they smooshed.

They shoved and their big ball of snow fell apart.

Huh.

Gloria was the first to say it. “It’s too fluffy.”

Then Barb, “Won’t stick.”

Finally Archie, “We need to nourish the snow with more moisture.”

“Huh?” said Gloria.

“We need water,” Barb said.

“Oh.”

Out of the shed, they each grabbed a bucket, filled it with water, and doused the snow pile.

Quickly they patted and smooshed but the snow turned into ice. They heaped fluffy snow on top and tried to form a ball but no use. The ice was not sticky, just hard.

They gave up and made snow angels.

The sun peeked out, warmed the tree branches and sent droplets of water on top of the kids.

“That’s it! The sun will melt the snow and then we will have enough moisture for the snow to stick together,” said Archie.

Barb and Gloria agreed. They waited, then rolled.

Not sticky enough.

They waited some more, then rolled.

Still not sticky enough.

They waited until dusk, then rolled and rolled and rolled.

Finally, they had a big ball of snow.

“Tomorrow we can finish the rest,” Archie said.

The temperature dropped overnight.

Barb and Gloria arrived the next morning, holding a bag of accessories for their snowman, ready to work. Archie met them outside.

“This won’t take as long. Let’s roll.”

Barb gathered the snow but it had become fluffy again. She formed and the ball fell apart.

Gloria tried. She rolled a ball, patted it, added more snow and it fell apart.

Archie tried with the same results as Gloria.

They gave up and made snow angel after snow angel all over the yard. Tired, they flopped onto untouched snow under the tree and rested.

The sun was out and warmed the trees, sending more droplets of water to the kids below. They laughed as they caught droplets in their mouth.

“I think it’s ready for us to make the tummy of the snowman,” Archie said.

Together, they rolled, pushed and patted a smaller ball into shape.

They lifted the ball onto the bottom of their snowman.

Ooooof!

The smaller ball plopped right through the bigger one, creating a doughnut.

“What happened?” Gloria asked.

“The bottom ball did not have enough weight to sustain the weight of the smaller ball,” Barb explained.

“You sound like our teacher,” Gloria said.

“We need more water but in little bits.” said Barb.

That gave Archie an idea. He ran into his house and came back with a spray bottle.

“I’ll spray the bottom ball while you two shape it.”

“What about the snowman’s tummy?” Barb said.

“It can stay where it is. We’ll make a new one.” Archie answered.

Archie sprayed. Barb and Gloria shaped.

“I’ll test it,” Gloria said, plopping her behind right on top of the partial snowman. She didn’t sink in. “Now the tummy.”

Archie sprayed, Barb and Gloria rolled. Gloria sprayed, Archie and Barb rolled.

“Perfect!” they said in unison.

They lifted the snowman’s tummy into place. Time to make the head.

Barb sprayed, Gloria and Archie rolled.

“Perfect!”

They placed the head on top. It stayed put.

“Time to give him a face,” Barb said. Gloria took the accessories out of the bag.

Barb dug out holes for the charcoal eyes.

Gloria pushed the carrot in for the nose.

Archie smoothed a black shoelace across for a mouth.

“Perfect!” they said.

Until the carrot fell off.

Huh.

“The carrot is too long for the hole you made Gloria,” Archie said. “The hole can’t sustain the length of the carrot.”

Gloria smiled. She bit off the fat end of the carrot. And took another bite. Then just one more. She stuffed the carrot into the hole.

“Perfect!” she said. And it was.

“What should we name him?” Archie asked.

“Fluffy.”

“Perfect!” And Fluffy was.

 

Until a squirrel climbed up three days later and stole the carrot nose.

 

Thank you reader for stopping by today! I hope you enjoyed this short story. If you have written a short story in a 60 minute time frame, using this Word of the Day word, please feel free to share it in the comments. 

 

 

 

GORTOK GETS HIS WISH

furious – adjective 

[fyoo r-ee-uh s]

1 : very angry

2 a : very powerful or violent

   b : very active or fast
Long ago, the landfill in Titustown had filled up. The town agreed that they needed to do something better with the garbage than to fill up land with it because it would fill up too fast. The solution was to build a large incinerator that would burn the garbage that could not be recycled in one way or another. But the only land large enough to hold it, belonged to Gortok the Greedy, as the townspeople nicknamed him, and he refused to have that ugly incinerator on his property.
The only solution left for the town,  was pile all of the garbage on the only open lot in town that still belonged to it. Which was right next to Gortok the Greedy’s house.
Gortok wanted more than anything, for the mountain of garbage behind his house to disappear. He hated the sight of it and the smell was atrocious. The town had been using the lot as the dump for too long.
The mountain just grew…
and grew.
and grew.
And now, the smell was coming into his home.
So Gortok made a wish.
“Mother Nature,  please make the garbage go away.”
A few days later, Mother Nature granted his wish.
Whip!
Whoosh!
Whip!
The wind came from the outskirts of town and blew in with a fury.
Garbage from all over town rose up from the streets, the gutters, the lawns, everywhere, and landed on top of the mountain.
The town was clean. But Gortok the Greedy’s property smelled worse than before.
In a huff, Gortok walked to work. On the way, he unwrapped his granola bar, ate it then tossed his wrapper to the ground. He then he popped open his juice box.
Mother Nature was not happy. She sent the wind out once again.
Whip,
whish!
The wind picked up the tossed wrapper and whipped it at Gortok.
The wrapper hit him square in the face.
“Who threw that?” Gortok asked, expecting to find kids near. He grabbed the wrapper and whipped it to the ground again. He finished his juice and threw the plastic bottle as well.
Furious at Bartok’s behavior, Mother Nature once again sent wind out to do her bidding.
Whip,
whish,
whip!
This time the wind blew the bottle at Gortok, hitting his leg, and the wrapper hit his arm as he walked.
Gortok kicked the bottle and flung the wrapper.
“Enough!” he shouted, though no one was near to hear.
At the factory, a newspaper flew through the air, landing against the door Gortok was opening.  He threw it onto the walkway and went inside.
Mother Nature decided she had had enough herself. She told wind what to do and wind got right to it.
Whip!
Whoosh!
Whish!
It was quite late when Gortok left work. He was half asleep as he walked home and fell exhausted into his open doorway.
In the morning, a cool breeze woke Gortok up. He noticed the sweet smell coming in from the open doorway.
“This is unusual.”  He shuffled around his property. His jaw dropped open at the sight of the lot behind his house. The mountain had disappeared! Mother Nature had granted his wish. He did his happy dance, jigging and jagging around his lawn.
That day, Gortok whistled as he walked to work, saying hello to his factory workers as they walked past, plugging their nose. [He should have been more concerned as to why they were not on the job.] 
Around the corner, he found out why.
The mountain of garbage now covered his entire factory.
He was bewildered until he remembered his wish.
Gortok made his way through the garbage, into the factory and got right on the phone.
The headline on the next newspaper read,
‘GORTOK FACTORY BEGINS INCINERATOR PROJECT NEXT WEEK.’
The opening sentence of the article said,
‘Gortok Industries to start making incinerators for home use after finishing a large scale incinerator for the town’s garbage which will be built right on Gortok property.’
Mother Nature did not help Gortok with the garbage this time.
Gortok cleaned up the mess himself.

ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD

With Author/Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton

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The ABC song is one of the first fun songs we teach our children to sing. Why? Because the alphabet is the backbone for learning to read and write. For some people, reading and writing is not fun at all. Which is why I came up with my ABC game. My new series, ABC’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD offers a new way to have fun with the alphabet. Every week, a children’s author, illustrator, literary agent or editor will share their ‘Top of the head’ answers to the ABC category list they were given, A to Z. Following their answers, I ask a few questions to gain a little insight into their world.

Feel free to play along, maybe your answer off the top of your head will match theirs. Enjoy!

Our ABC game contestant today is Vanessa Brantley-Newton, author and illustrator of dont let auntie mabel and let freedom sing and also illustrator of numerous picture books and chapter books  the youngest marcherone lovethanksgiving for emily annthink bigthe hula-hoopin queenmagic trash  ruby 1

mary had a little glam

ready to read    to show a few.

Below is Vanessa’s list of categories from A – Z along with her answers.

ANTONYM FOR AWFUL:  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

BEST SONG EVER:  Feeling Good

CARTOON CHARACTER:  Bugs Bunny

DAY OF WEEK:  Friday

ENDANGERED SPECIES:  Tiger

FRUIT:  Grapes

GOD OR GODDESS (NAME A):  Venus

HAPPINESS IS:  being loved

ICE CREAM FLAVOR:  Chocolate

JEWEL:  Ethiopian Opal

KINDNESS…:  Is a must

LAUGH (WHAT MAKES YOU):  Stories told by my favorite Comedian Arnez J

MUSICAL:  Daddy Long Legs

NAME THAT STARTS WITH ’N’:  Natasha

ONOMATOPOEIA WORD:  Hooty Hoot

PIRATE NAME:   Black Jack Shellac

QUIET PLACE:   Old country house

ROCK:   River

SEASON:  Fall

TREE:  Cedar

UNUSUAL COLOR:   Magenta  

VERB (ACTIVE):   Leap

WALRUSES…:   Rock

X NAME:  Xena

YOUNG ADULT BOOK:  Solo

ZODIAC SIGN:  Libra

ME: Welcome Vanessa! Wow! As I read your Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious category sheet, I answered them off the top of my head too and we had three in common: Friday (I love Fridays!), Venus, and cedar. I am envious I did not think of Bugs Bunny though. Is he one of your favorites and if so, why?

VBN:  Oh my gosh is one of the very first cartoon characters that I would fall in love with! I love the antics and the comedy of him. 

ME:  Bugs is the coolest! Speaking of cool, I’ve heard you sing; you have a beautiful voice. It’s uplifting and soulful. Makes sense you chose FEELING GOOD as the best song ever. But there are a few songs with that same title. Which one is the song for your answer? When did it become the best song ever for you?

VBN: Feeling Good by Nina Simone! I first heard this song many years ago. It was something about the way Nina sang it. It was a song of course, but poetry at the same time and even after that is was a story for me. It created word pictures for me. It speaks to my soul as an artist. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXqKswtX_KU

ME:   I understand why! That song resonates loving life. Makes sense why that’s the best song ever for you since your love for life shines through you and your illustrations as well as your love for uplifting music too. I’ve heard you sing…you are wonderful! You fill your audience with joy. 

I cannot place the musical DADDY LONG LEGS, but the title suggests it could be about a dancer, a basketball player, a musician, or an arachnid…will you tell us about it?

VBN: I am a big fan of musicals and this one has two of my favorite actor/ dancers in it. Fred Astaire and Leslie Caron.

Daddy Long Legs is a stage musical based on the novel of the same name by Jean Webster. It was written by John Caird, with music and lyrics by Paul Gordon. Set in turn-of-the-century New England, the musical tells the story of orphan Jerusha Abbott of the John Grier Home and her mysterious benefactor who agrees to send her to college, who she dubs “Daddy Long Legs” after seeing his elongated shadow. Under the conditions of her benefactor, Jerusha sends him a letter once a month, describing her new-found experiences with life outside the orphanage.

ME:  I cannot believe I did not recognize that musical classic! Leslie and Fred were incredible! Like your ‘G’ and ‘H’ answers, that story is filled with love. I’ve read numerous picture books you have illustrated and in each one, love shines through your illustrations and you also infuse humor. I’m not sure you can share any of Arnez J’s stories, but maybe you can share one of your favorite stories with us that makes you laugh.

VBN: I come from a very religious background and so much stuff went down at church. First of all it was like going back into the 50’s when you walked in. It was filled with characters that I still remember! My mom use to make the most delicious Pineapple Upside-down cake this side of heaven! Oh my goodness, it was truly to fight and die for!! Okay, so the Pastors wife was a very spiritual woman and pious. I never saw her ever come out of her face at anyone, but this Sunday my mom had made her cake and brought it to the church social. Well, other members had brought their cakes too, but there was something magical, spiritual, almost life altering about this cake. Now, my moms’ cake was famous at our church and everyone always wanted seconds and third of this cake. The Pastor’s wife didn’t treat my mom the best and was a little smug when it came to my mom, but something would come over this poor woman when it came to my mother’s Pineapple Upside-down Cake!! The Pastor’s wife would sneak downstairs to the kitchen and tell the other women to hide my mother’s cake. It was my mom’s joy to see people eating that delicious cake! So mom comes down stairs to the church kitchen and see’s everyone else’s cake except hers and of course she went to investigating where the cake might have gone. These where church women mind you, so they didn’t want to lie, so no one answered. She asked again because there were people asking about it? “Where is Sister Shirley’s Pineapple Upside-Down? We’ve been waiting the whole service for it.” So my very bold mom rushes into the church kitchen to find her cake hide in the back of the fridge in somebody ‘s cake carrier with the Pastor’s wife’s name on it! I guess we all have weaknesses! LOL!

ME:  Wow! The poor Pastor’s wife was sick with jealousy over your mom’s delicious  cake. She must not have known the secret behind your mom’s cake was that it was made with love just like Mother Nature makes things. Such as the Ethiopian Opal. Is there a tidbit or story behind this answer? Could this tidbit or story have anything to do with Captain Jack Shellac? 😉

VBN: LOL!!! I just love Ethiopian Opal. The pinks and blues and greens are just beautiful. All the colors that I love all mixed into one beautiful opal. That is all I know. Nothing deep! Tee hee~! 

ME:   They have an ethereal quality. Somehow I think maybe someday, one will appear in one of your beautiful books. 😊 I am adding to my mustread list of books, and need to know if the SOLO book you named is the one written by Kwame Alexender?

VBN: YASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! Magnificent Book!! Get it and read it. 

ME:   Yay, I was correct! I just added it to my list.

When I read ‘Walruses:… rock’, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious images floated through my mind. Like your newest books this year that I have not read yet… jada jones 1  a night out with mamaearly sunday morningsasha savvy loves to code I am leaping into the future here…what can you tell us about your current or upcoming projects? (am hoping a walrus appears in one of them soon.) Feel free to use art here to show us or text to tell us.

VBN: So, I really love relationship stories. Grandma and granddaughter situations because I spent a lot of summers with all of my grandparents and they were totally interesting to me!!! So I wrote a story about a little girl who is interested in what is in her Grandma’s Purse and so goes the name LOL!! I love all things retro, but as a child I didn’t see myself in children’s books in the 60’s, Not until Ezra Jack Keats came out with The Snowy Day. I also loved Madeline, but she never had a black friend and this saddened me deeply because I always thought that she and I could have been great friends. So, with the help of Nancy Paulsen and Random House Books I will be doing a book about the black Madeline so to speak. LOL! Her name is Jewels. I am very excited about this book! It will be done in pen and ink and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I haven’t worked on it yet, but I can share some images from Grandma’s Purse due out in Jan 2018! grandma's purse

gp1

Clone of Grand...B2B_tmp002

ME:   So glad you gave us a sneak peek into GRANDMA’S PURSE and your new black Madeline book! 

Thank you Vanessa for playing ABC’s OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD! This was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious fun! We can’t wait to enjoy your new books. 😊

To learn more about Vanessa and her or her books, you can find her at:

https://www.vanessabrantleynewton.com/

http://oohlaladesignstudio.blogspot.com/

 

Thank you Readers for stopping today. If you enjoyed this edition of ABC’’S OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD, please share it and leave a comment for Vanessa or me.

#justkeepcreating #justkeepcreating

Traci

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ort: A Perfect Mouseful

[dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster Learner’s Word of the Day selections; photo credit-Merriam-Webster Learner’s Word of the Day]

ort – noun

[awrt]

  1.   Usually, orts. a scrap or morsel of food left at a meal.

 

mischievous – adjective

[mis-chuh-vuh s]

  1.   causing or tending to cause annoyance or minor harm or damage

2.   showing a playful desire to cause trouble

      3.   intended to harm someone or someone’s reputation

 

Cat was angry at Mouse. Mouse was laughing at Cat because Mouse had just won his third game against Cat. Cat slunk off to figure out how to beat Mouse at Mouse’s games.

I have to slow down Mouse or trip him up somehow, Cat thought. Visions of glue, tape and food danced in his head. With the glue, Mouse was begging for help reaching out to be pulled from the glob of glue gumming up his paws. Cat shuddered at the thought. No glue.

Tape took over, tacking Mouse to it who was desperately trying to escape. Tape won’t work either. I don’t want to hurt my friend. 

While Cat was contemplating his next move, Mouse was mulling over how to help Cat win a game. A mischievous idea formed quickly.

Mouse made a maze in the middle of the yard. To help Cat win, he made Cat smiley faces on each turn leading the way out. Whoever got to the end of the maze first would win.

Tap, tap, tap.

Cat whirled around, surprised to see Mouse.

“I don’t want to play anymore of your games. I think we should play one of mine,” Cat said.

“Sure, but can we play one of yours after this last game of mine? I worked really hard at creating it,” Mouse said.

Cat’s whiskers twitched. “What’s the game?”

“I built a maze in the yard. Whoever gets to the end first wins and can choose the next three games to play.”

Cat shook his head. “Since you made the maze, you know how to go through it. That’s not fair.”

Mouse sighed. “You have a point, Cat. I will wear a blindfold to even us out.”

Cat thought about this. “We should each choose a winning treat for the other to place at the end of the maze. Whoever makes it through the maze and finishes their treat first, wins.”

“Deal.”

Together they scoured the house for the perfect treat.

Mouse found part of a tuna sandwich and carried it out.

Cat scoured the kitchen but there were no orts about, not even one crumb. All he could find was a small pink glob under the table. It was a little big for Mouse to eat but Cat planned on winning.

Treats in place, Cat and Mouse took their spots at the beginning of the maze. Cat was haunched in start position while Mouse was blindfolded and ready to go.

“Go!” Cat shouted.

Cat darted away turning this way that, into a dead end. “Drat!” He looked for Mouse. No Mouse around. He listened for Mouse. He could hear scurrying ahead of him.

Mouse twitched his nose letting him guide him to the end. He bumped into wall after wall but the strawberry smell was getting stronger.

Cat turned right, then followed straight. He turned left and left again into another dead end. He sat down and pouted. Doggone Mouse! He’s going to win. As a tear rolled into his whiskers, he noticed a smiley cat picture on the opposite wall. Oh sure, rub it in Mouse! 

Cat ran to the picture and scratched it out. He sulked through the maze scratching out each Cat Smiley he found. He was so busy looking for these smiling Cats, he didn’t realize what he had done.

I. Smell. Tuna! Cat’s nose twitched and his tail swished. He followed his nose right to the end of the maze. Mouse was already there, chewing and chewing.

Cat’s ears drooped. Mouse had won again.

“You won Mouse. But I’m going to enjoy this sandwich anyways.” He took a bite, then another.

Mouse said nothing but kept chewing away.

Cat finished his sandwich. “This was a great treat Mouse. Thank you.” Cat licked his paws.

Mouse just chewed.

“I said, ‘Thank you’ Mouse.” Cat stared at Mouse.

Mouse inhaled deeply.

As he breathed out, a bubble formed and grew and grew. Then…

POP!

Cat jumped straight into the air.

Mouse’s mouth still full he muttered, “Clever cat, giving me this ort. Not supposed to swallow gum. I lost.”

Cat blushed. “Mischievous mouse. Drawing those Smiley Cat faces to tease me. If I had seen those sooner I would have…Hey!”

“Won sooner,” Mouse said still chewing.

“You said a mouseful.” Cat laughed.

The next three games were Cat’s choice and he lost all but one.

 

THE END

If you enjoyed this story, take the challenge and write your own story in 60 minutes and edit it. The idea is to #justkeepwriting #justkeepwriting.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rex’s Big Words

Wow! I have not done a Word of the Day story on here in months.

To you the reader, if you are not familiar with my Word of the Day posts, I take the word of the day entries from dictionary.com, Learners Dictionary or Merriam Webster  (I may use all or just one or two) and create a story for children which have to include the words I post below. I give myself one hour to write and edit the story before posting it. The reason behind only the one hour is to give writers the incentive to just write, as the hardest part of writing is getting started. My story will never be perfect when it is finished in this time frame, but it is not supposed to be and in this case, I went over by nine minutes to finish editing. Feel free to leave comments at the end. I hope you share this story with your child and spark a conversation or a writing project. Enjoy!

scapegrace – noun

[skeyp-greys]

  1.   a complete rogue or rascal; a habitually unscrupulous person; scamp.

 

kudos – noun

[koo-dohz, -dohs, -dos, kyoo-]
      1.   fame and renown resulting from an act or achievement : prestige
      2.   praise given for achievement
REX’S BIG WORDS

This story can be summed up with it’s end…

Kudos to Rex for keeping the light burning in Olympus Theatre. Her ongoing crusade to raise enough money to restore it and get it declared as a Historical Landmark will keep theatre alive and thriving for many years to come. To Rex! May you someday be on that stage, but not in a boxing ring on it!”

But if you always read the end first, you miss the fun and excitement of the beginning and the middle and end up wondering what happened. Like, why would Rex be in a boxing ring? This is how it all started

“We are finished for the day. Thank you for coming in to help us set up the fundraiser. That scapegrace, Pinche, has a fight on her hands,” said Mr. Torres, owner of the Olympus Theater which was in danger of being condemned and torn down by the city.

Lottie, Rob, Arnold, and I packed up our flyers, loaded our backpacks and met outside.

“We did good today,” I said.

“We did well,” Lottie corrected.

“We done did good,” Arnold snickered.

“Yup,” was all Rob said.

“Hey Rex, we need to divide up the town between us to hand out the flyers. Which section do you want?” Arnold asked.

“Makes the most sense to cover the areas around each of our schools, right? Grab as many people as you can to help distribute them.”

Lottie, Arnold, and Rob nodded in agreement.

“If you need more flyers, Mr. Torres said he would be at the Olympus tomorrow evening.”

Again, everyone nodded.

Rob hopped on his bike, Arnold took off walking and Lottie and I waited for our rides.

“See you all on Saturday,” I said.

Lottie waited until Rob and Arnold were out of sight.

“What happens if Mrs. Pinche gets her way?”

“We need to make sure that doesn’t happen,” I told her.

Our rides pulled up next to the curb.

“That scapegrace has no chance against us!” I said fist in the air.

“You and your big words Rex,” Lottie said rolling her eyes, playfully.

 

“Rebecca, your dinner is in the oven,” my Mom said the minute I walked in the door. She’s the only person I know who won’t use my nickname. Even my grandparents call me Rex.

“Thanks Mom. I have homework to do so I’ll eat it in my room,” I told her as she followed me into the kitchen.

“Good try Rebecca, you can eat at the counter or at the table but not in your room. What kind of homework?”

I fumbled with the hot pad and the plate of food in the oven.

“I have to write a one page paper about a local historical landmark or a place that should be saved and considered as one. I chose the Olympus Theatre.”

“That should be easy since you’ve been volunteering there for months now.”

“Hope so,” I said, mouth full of food.

 

Upstairs in my room, I gathered my resources. In my notebook, I wrote notes and points of interest. Next, I wrote my paper. I read it over twice, crossed out words and added words like my teacher told us to do and rewrote it neatly. Something was missing. My older brother Mike, is in ninth grade and in his paper for English, he had to write a closing statement. That’s what my paper was missing. I raced to his room.

“Hey Mike, what’s a closing statement for a paper?” I asked him.

He stared at me like I was an alien. “Since when do fifth grade papers need closing statements?”

I rolled my eyes, but not playfully. “Since right now,” I shot back.

Mike raised his eyebrows but told me anyway.

 

At school, I was the first to read my paper in class.

“In closing, the Olympus Theater has been a part of Pepper Grove for over a hundred years. Letting the Olympus get torn down is like letting your grandparents home get torn down with them in it. It is a historical landmark and needs your help. You can help me by handing out these fliers today after school.” I waved a handful of flyers around.

“Nicely done Rex. A little dramatic but nice,” Mr. Buckley said.

A hand shot up in the back of the class. Stephanie Pinche. Bully extraordinaire and only child of Mrs. Pinche.

“Go ahead Stephanie,” Mr. Buckley said.

“Who cares about that smelly old place. My mom says it’s a dump and unsafe and theater is dead. Everybody watches Netflix now or rents movies. Tear it down, a gas station will be a gold mine there.”

The room erupted in noise.

My face burned hot.

“Stephanie, Rex made a nice case for the Olympus and why it should be a historical landmark. You can read your paper next.” Mr. Buckley said.

I walked down the opposite row of Stephanie to avoid her.

 

After school five kids met up with me and we walked the neighborhood around school and handed out all flyers that I had. They agreed to tell their parents about how important the Olympus is and I promised them cookies if they brought their parents to the fundraiser on Saturday.

I stopped by the Olympus on my way home and picked up more.

“Yours are gone already Rex?” Mr. Torrres asked when he saw me.

“Yup. I need more. I recruited friends from school to help me hand them out.” I told him a big smile on my face.

“Well done. You are an activist already,” he said, his toothy grin hidden partially by his mustache.

 

The next day after school Stephanie chased me to my house.

“T-Rex, would you stop running so I can tell you something?” she hollered behind me.

I stopped and turned around. “What do you want?”

Out of breath, she huffed, “I can hand out some of your flyers if you need help.”

My eyes popped right out of my head. (not really)

When I popped them back in, I narrowed them at her. “I thought you said the Olympus should be torn down.”

“My mom wants to share them at the Historical Society committee meeting tomorrow night. She said it would be good to know more about it since you researched it and all.”

I didn’t quite buy her story but I gave her a few flyers.

“Thanks,” she said and left.

 

Thursday, Lottie, Rob, Arnold, and I met Mr. Torres at the Olympus and helped him clean the lobby. We scrubbed the counters, swept the floors, scrubbed the floors, cleaned the glass and shined up the staircase until the entire lobby sparkled. When we finished, we took the last of the flyers and headed home.

 

Friday morning, Stephanie grabbed my arm. “My mom loved the flyers. Said they helped her make her point at the meeting so you can have them back.” She handed them to and sneered. “Good luck saving that dump.”

When I opened a flyer, everything looked good.

 

On Saturday, people from all over Pepper Grove turned out at the Olympus Theater. Mr. Torres was strutting around, handing out cookies and coffee to the adults, while Rob, Arnold, Lottie, and me handed out cookies to the kids. The five kids from school were there along with their parents so I gave them extra cookies as I promised.

Mr. Torres walked onto the platform to give his speech. He glanced around then smiled and started. He answered questions and when no one had any more to ask, he held up his hand and shouted, “Can the Olympus be saved?”

The crowd replied, “Yes!” and waved their flyers.

Mrs. Pinche and Stephanie shouted, “NO! TEAR IT DOWN! IT’S UNSAFE FOR OUR CHILDREN AND THIS COMMUNITY.”

Mr. Torres dropped his hand.

Mrs. Pinche rushed onto the platform. She held up a flyer.

“Mr. Torres stated in the flyer, ‘Olympus Theater has served its community and in its current state of disrepair, I recommend it be torn down and the lot sold. To remember it in its glory days, I will donate photos and memorabilia of the Olympus to the library for all to enjoy.’”

People held up their flyers.

Mr. Torres grabbed the flyer from Mrs. Pinche’s hand. He scanned it and his face turned beet red.

The crowd started booing.

Lottie nudged me. “Do something Rex!”

Without thinking I ran up to the platform and shoved Mrs. Pinche away.

“The Olympus Theatre was home to the first performance…” I read from the flyer in my hand.

The crowd quieted. I read some more.

“We already heard this speech by Torres,” came a snotty voice from the front.

Stephanie sneered up at me. She started chanting, “Tear it down. Tear it down.”

Some older kids in the front joined her.

I watched Mr. Torres slump his shoulders forward.

Now adults joined in the chant.

“HEY! NO SCAPEGRACE IS GOING TO TEAR DOWN THIS HISTORICAL LANDMARK!” I shouted into the microphone, creating an ear-splitting ring.

The crowd covered their ears but stopped.

I recited my paper and ended with this, “Olympus Theater is a historical landmark and needs your help. Pepper Grove will lose its fame if the Olympus gets torn down. Instead, help us bring it back to its former glory. How many of your grandparents came to shows here when stars of their day took to the stage? How many of you performed here when you were in school? Does Pepper Grove need a gas station right in the heart of downtown?”

A buzz started in the crowd. People looked at each other.

“Open your flyers.”

People opened them.

“Does your flyer have a quote from Mr. Torres on the bottom of it?”

People checked and rechecked the flyers in their hands.

“No!”

“That’s because you have the original flyers, not the ones Mrs. Pinche copied and remade with her added fake quote.” I went on to explain about her and her gas station idea.

Finally, Mr. Torres, Mike, my parents, Rob, Lottie, and Arnold flooded the platform next to me. We held hands and raised them.

“Are we going to save the Olympus?” I asked fist pumping in the air.

A few people mumbled yes.

“ARE WE GOING TO SAVE THE OLYMPUS?” we shouted together.

“YES!!!”

“Is Mrs. Pinche going to build a gas station here instead?” I shouted.

“No!” the crowd replied.

“Save the Olympus, save the Olympus!” I chanted.

Soon everyone was chanting it.

Mr. Torres grabbed the donation box and held it over the side of the platform. People lined up and dropped money and checks into the box. Our town mayor pushed through the crowd, held up a fistful of fifty dollar bills and dropped them in.

The crowd cheered.

When the event was over, Rob, Lottie, Arnold, and I along with our families, sat in the lobby while Mr. Torres and his staff counted the money.

“We have enough money to start renovations.”

“Yay!” we cheered.

“And this was in the bottom of the donation box.” Mr. Torres held up a sealed envelope. He tore it open, read it and sucked in his breath.

He read it out loud,

‘Dear Mr. Torres,

Your request for consideration of the Olympus Theater to be a recognized Pepper Grove historical landmark has been approved. Attached is the documentation form for you to fill out and to mail to the state Historical Society. You will receive official paperwork from the state upon receipt of the completed form.

To help ensure the Olympus is ready for a public announcement of its inclusion into the Historical Society, we have set aside money to help offset restoration costs.

Congratulations.

Sincerely,

Pepper Grove Historical Society’

 

We cheered and whooped and hollered.

Mr. Torres gave each of us kids a big hug, and thanked us for our help.

Lottie whispered in my ear, “big words.” Then she held up my hand like a champion and said, “Kudos to Rex for keeping the light burning in Olympus Theatre. Her ongoing crusade to raise enough money to restore it and get it declared as a Historical Landmark will keep theatre alive and thriving for many years to come. To Rex! May you someday be on that stage, but not in a boxing ring on it!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CREATE THE PERFECT BOOKENDS

Bookends are not just for adults. Many children have book shelves in their rooms and a designated book case is not available, maybe create one using unique bookends. The best part is children can make their own as can adults and they will be unique to the creator.

From the photo above, you see just the black bottoms of standard metal bookends like seen in a library. But photos can be deceiving.

In my quest to find the perfect bookends to use in my office space, I came to the conclusion that I needed to make my own. The beautiful marble horse head beauties that I inherited, just did not hold up the books. They consistently toppled over, sending books to the floor in a riotous mess.

bookends-marble

For months, my husband and I scoured consignment shops, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores and flea markets to find the perfect bookends. We did find some unique ones but when we tested them out with a stress test none passed.

The inspiration hit me at our public library. I was a volunteer shelf reader for years and was in awe at how much strength metal bookends like these had, so I bought a pair.bookends-start

However, I didn’t want to leave them plain. How to bling them up? I have an arsenal of craft supplies and these ones were at the top of my list for jazzing up effect. bookend-craft-arsenal

I did a trial run of using the bookends as is to see how I liked them. The problem was that one end would not show at all except for the bottom which would show anyways. The exposed end would show a little more but only if I was away from my desk to look at it. An idea hit! Find used hardcover books to glue over them and hide the black ends! This was the first book I found at Goodwill. I loved the color of the binding and when thumbing through it found scribbles like this throughout. bookend-green-start-showing-scribble

Using the next photos, I will explain my process of creating the perfect bookends. Find two thin hardcover books large enough to cover the upright part of the metal book end. I found  this book as well and I loved the colors. It too had scribbling all over in the book making it an inexpensive find when I showed the cashier. $1.56 total for both books. bookend-yellow-start

I found the middle of each book, slid the bookend in between, making sure it was even and glued the bookend and pages together in the middle.

bookend-glue-bookend-in

Then glue the covers to the pages next to them…

bookend-green-cover-glue

and secure with rubber bands and clamps.

bookends-clamped

Once they have been clamped for at least two hours, remove the rubber bands and clamps to brush glue onto the page edges, then secure again with rubber bands and clamps.

bookends-gluing-pages

Repeat this process in one hour. Keep secured overnight.

Voilá! Two new perfect bookends! And here they are in use in their finished state.

bookend-at-an-angle-2

bookends-finished

Creating these perfect bookends for my desk also was another win-win for me as it forced me to clean up my desk area. clean-desk

If you or your child are ever in need of a gift for a book lover or a writer, or you just want some for your self, consider making a set of bookends. (Idea: A pair of unique bookends and a couple of books and you have the perfect book lovers gift!)

The possibilities are endless and the joy of using your own creativity to make them is priceless.

The metal bookends can be found at office supply stores and possibly discount department stores as well. Mine were bought at Office Max for under $6 total.

Here’s to you for reading this blog and hopefully being inspired to get creative.

Happy crafting!

For me it’s back to #justkeepwriting #justkeepwriting.

 

Save Me From the Words

[This is a short story using both Word of the Day selections from http://www.dictionary.com and http://www.learnersdictionary.com. My goal for these stories is to get the story out by writing and editing it in one hour] 

galore – adjective, adverb

[guhlawr, –lohr]

always used after a noun informal

: in large numbers or amounts

pumpkins-galore

logophobia – noun

[law-guhfoh-bee-uh, log-uh-]

an obsessive fear of words

logophobia

 

Words shouted at Lucy.

“Please.”

“Understand.”

Lucy wanted no part of them. Every time she misspelled a word, she was made fun of which was every day. Her wings were torn forcing her legs to carry her to the forest edge before the words had a chance to catch up.

“Whew! I think I lost them,” she said to the owl perched in the tree.

“Whooo?” was the owl’s reply.

“The words,” Lucy said. She trembled and shook. She peeked around the tree edge and was off again.

The words were relentless. They chased her through the woods.

“We”

“Can”

“Help.”

Leaves crackled, twigs snapped. Lucy raced on, her legs burning. For a meadow fairy, she was quick and agile.

“Wait.”

“For.”

“Us.”

Lucy ignored the words. Her heart thumped against her chest bursting to get out.

Above, the owl followed along, cruising over the treetops always aware of the action below.

A tree root rose up out of the ground. Lucy’s foot snagged it sending her face first into the soft earth.

The owl swooped down, extended her wing which Lucy happily took. She swung up on the owl’s back. Together they flew out of the forest and headed towards town. Below them, the words gave up the chase.

“You suffer from logophobia,” Owl said.

Lucy scrunched her eyes.

“You are afraid of words; they terrify you.” Owl explained.

Lucy nodded.

“Only a few words were chasing you and they said they wanted to help. They seemed genuine.”

“I don’t think so. At school there were words galore. I’m not a good speller. The words became angry when I spelled most of them wrong.” Lucy’s bottom lip quivered.

“And so they chased you?” Owl asked.

“Not then. They threw the chalkboard eraser at me and made me write each word until I got it correct.”

“That’s not very nice.”

“You’re telling me. Fairy school is not all it’s cracked up to be. Every fairy culture is gifted in different forms. Meadow fairies are not good spellers. We don’t have to be because we are of the meadow and talk to the meadow creatures and care for them. We use no spells so we don’t write words, just speak them. Other fairies have to learn words to communicate to the other worlds, this is their job.”

“I see,” said Owl.

“When the last eraser hit my wing, tearing it, I stomped out of school, swearing I was never going back. Then one word apologized and then another, but it was too late for me. Once outside, I could not fly so I took off running.”

They glided through the air until Owl perched a top of a tall boxy building.

“We’re here,” Owl said.

Lucy stared at the sky. Stars twinkled. Meteors flew across it. She wished she could fly like them.

Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong!

“Tis four o’clock. I shall take you down now,” said Owl.

Lucy  held on tight, her wings tucked in neatly.

“Off you go. What you need is in here. Every culture and every law can be found here. You just have to look hard and research and you will find your answers.”

Lucy stepped toward the large building with the wise owl statues lining the stairway to it.

“Do not be alarmed when you enter. Words abound in every corner. These words are here to help you. Though you may be terrified of them, give them a chance. If it becomes too overwhelming, ask a librarian for help as help is always available in this magical place.”

Lucy was skeptical.  She stepped back toward Owl.

Owl nudged her forward. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly.

“Thank you Owl for rescuing me. I shall take your advice.”

“Remember dear fairy, overcoming obstacles is not easy and takes time.”

Lucy nodded and waved goodbye.

Inside, the words waited patiently.

They had their work cut out for them.

As did Lucy. This was just the beginning.

 

 

 

 

 

SHOW DON’T TELL Isn’t Just for Writers

[photo credit: firstcovers.com]
Are you confident in your abilities at work or in your personal life or do you need to tell the world what you are great at? Then this little blurb may explain what’s behind the SHOW DON’T TELL rule for life in general and well, if you are a writer, you may want to read this too.
Telling something can always be a lie but showing it proves the truth. Such as someone like Bob who tells the world ” I am always on time.” Is Bob really or just saying that to make others believe it. What do Bob’s actions show? Bob actually is often late to work rushing in fifteen to thirty minutes after the shift starts.running-late
However, what if Bob was actually quite punctual? Bob could say, “I punch in at 7:58 every morning, two minutes before the shift starts,” to show it and be truthful or he could say nothing and continue to be prompt for everything, confident in his ability to be punctual which people notice and remember.punctual
[photo credit: hodgesherald.blogspot.com]
Telling shows a weakness in both proclamation and in writing. In both proclamations above, Bob feels the need to let everyone know he is punctual whether it is true or not. Only Bob knows why he has to broadcast this.
This works both ways. In this instance Mary tells everyone in the neighboring office, “I am the responsible one who plans everything and keeps everything flowing nice.” Mary is partially telling and partially showing, which is better. But…Mary is not responsible but relies on her co-workers to carry the weight of the work and follow through with orders. Her direct peers know this.
However, a different Mary tells the neighboring office this, “Bob has to carry the weight in our office. I’m not much help.” Mary is telling not showing. She is angry with Bob for being so lack in his skills and work ethics that she proclaims it is her hoping someone will disagree with her and tell her she is indeed a great help. By telling people she is not, it is contradictory to what her actions show.
When push comes to shove in work environments, for the most part, your actions speak volumes. But sometimes you do have to state your case to save your job, etc. and then you are best to show them with your words and not just tell. Showing your case with details gives the best choice for proving the truth. Telling offers nothing concrete.
pigeon-dont-tell-me-show-me
[photo credit: flickr.com]
In writing this is an example of weak writing versus strong writing or known as telling vs. showing:
The sun is shining.‘ or ‘Beams of sunlight lit up the field.
If I wrote, ‘The sun is shining,’ and later in the paragraph or scene I described a dreary day, the original sentence is a lie or a contradiction, thus showing weak plotting.
Point is, if you have to tell everyone how great you are something, it means you are trying to get others to believe something you yourself do not believe or feel inadequate about. Therefore, instead of touting to the world you are this or that, show them with your actions and let your actions speak for themselves; your actions are what everyone remembers.
‘SHOW DON’T TELL’ is a good rule to follow. Even if you are not a writer, you can apply the same rule to your life in both work and personal.
a-persons-actions
[photo credit: pinterest.com]
Want to know more about SHOW DON’T TELL? Check out these links:

GOODBYE SUMMER: No More Hide and Seek

Caption for the Learner’s Word of the Day Photo above: This dog is sorely in need of a bath.

[It’s been too long since I have written a ‘Word of the Day’ story. Therefore here is a reminder: for these stories, I give my self 60 minutes to write it and edit it before I post it, that’s it. These are lessons in getting the story out so they are not perfect but done as eloquently as possible in a short amount of time.]

overweening – adjective

[oh-ver-wee-ning]

  1.   presumptuously conceited, overconfident, or proud
  2.   exaggerated, excessive, or arrogant

 

sorely – adverb

[sawr-lee, sohr-]

  1.   very much
  2.   in a painful manner

 

Barkin paused in the garden, his paws scratching the dirt unearthing an earthworm. He sniffed the air and closed his eyes.

“Whatcha doing Barkin? Want to play hide and seek?” Digger asked his furry friend.

Barkin plopped onto the dirt, late summer flowers surrounding him. “I’m sorely going to miss you Digger,” he said to the earthworm.

Digger arched his slender body. “Where am I going?”

“Winter’s coming and we won’t be able to play anymore. You and the rest of the diggers will be frozen in the ground.” Barkin hangs his head.

Miner pokes her head out. “Aww Barkin, autumn is just starting. We have plenty of time to play before winter.”

Barkin perks up. “Really?”

“Really,” says Miner.

“But what about Robin? She’s leaving soon. There will be no more tug o’ war games to watch.”

“Thank goodness for that,” Digger says. “We lose too many team members when Robin brings her friends.”

“True.” Barkin nudges Miner and Digger. They giggle.

“You’re nose is cold and wet, like we are” they say.

Barkin licks his nose and licks their head. “I’m not slimy though.”

Digger and Miner burrow down in the dirt. Barkin watches them disappear and waits, watching where they reappear. This is his favorite game: hide and seek.

Someone is tickling his tummy. Barkin jumps up and looks down. “Hey, you got me that time.” Digger smiles and burrows back down again. Barkin creeps over to the Asters whose overweening bushiness  rules over the corner of the garden giving Cottontail and Chip the best hiding place.

He noses around under the Asters. Cottontail and Chip jump out. “Found us!” Barkin wags but just once.

Digger pokes his head up near the Mums. “No one found me!”

“Look for Miner,” he tells Cottontail and Chip. “We don’t have many times left to play hide and seek with them before winter comes.” Barkin sniffles.

“Can’t find me,” says a familiar voice. Barkin sniffs the dirt. Tickle, tickle on his nose.

“Achoo! Found you Miner,” Barkin says sniffling some more.

“Why are you sad Barkin?” Miner asks.

“Chip’s going to hibernate and you diggers are going to freeze to death when winter comes. Cottontail and I are going to be lonely all winter.”

“We don’t die when the earth freezes, we burrow down deep and curl up waiting for spring. In a sense we freeze but as the earth warms, we revive slowly. Then the snow melts and when the moisture reaches us, we dig our way to the topsoil.” Digger explains.

Barkin looks at Cottontail, grinning. “In that case,” he said nudging Cottontail, “you’re it!” and bounds away.

The friends play hide and seek until Barkin is called inside for dinner.

“Let’s play again tomorrow!” and they agree to do so.

 

How Do Earthworms Survive Winter?

http://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/Soil/worms.htm