Category Archives: PG rated

Oh, Susanna! What Verbs Should I Avoid And Why?

A fantastic blog about verb usage for picture book writers by Susanna Hill!

Susanna Leonard Hill

Hey, Everyone!

What an exciting day it is!

It’s time for . . .

(cue dramatic soap opera theme music 🙂 )

. . . the long-awaited return of Oh, Susanna! (your picture book questions answered!)

Today’s question comes to us from BoldWriter who wonders:

In writing picture books strong verbs are a must. My question is this,
‘What are the most common verbs to avoid using, if possible, and why?’

BoldWriter, I’m so glad you asked!

As writers, it is our goal to express ourselves with the strongest, most articulate, most evocative language we can muster.  We use our words to bring stories to life for our readers.  In addition, as writers of picture books, our word count is extremely limited and we never want to use two or three words where one will do… and do a better job!

We’ve probably all seen those blog posts or articles…

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HOW TO HIDE ACORNS JUST RIGHT

[photo credit: Ebay.com]

This is my 50 words or less children’s story in honor of Dr. Seuss’s Birthday and for Vivian Kirfield’s #50PreciousWords contest. 50 Precious words Enjoy! Thank you Vivian for this opportunity. You rock!

HOW TO HIDE ACORNS JUST RIGHT

(50 words)

By Traci Bold

Winter is coming!

Squirrel must bury his food.

In a place…

Just right.

Or I’ll forget.

Let me help. Near a shrub.

Which one?

Under the fir.

Not my fur!

By the house.

Humans will find them.

Among the garden.

Maybe…

Below the trellis.

Good spot…

Perfectly center.

Just right.

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.

 

SNUCK UP

Today is January 17, 2017. There I said it and now realize that TODAY IS JANUARY 17, 2017. Today my sweet girl Brittie would have been 17! If she were here on earth, we would have celebrated today as her Golden Birthday with special salmon and sweet potato cookies and Beef Stew. Brittie, if you are listening as I write this, know that we wouldn’t have your favorites without you. 

Brit and me 3 9 2015
Brittie’s selfie (a rarity)

Back to today’s date. The date snuck up on me and tapped me in my heart when I opened Facebook and saw my memories page. Naturally, they were of Brittie and previous birthdays and her first birthday without her (2016). The flood gates opened as did my picture folder of her. The tears are for missing her and for laughing at the memories as I scroll through my photos of her. 10-375083E5-24963-960 She was a curious dog and this bug really had her intrigued.

Every animal has a personality all their own just like humans. In fact, by watching animals in varied situations, we humans could learn a lot. Such as do dogs feel guilt?

Guilty Brittie

I doubt it from looking at this photo of her holding evidence of a recent sock theft. Do dogs care about how they look to humans? fb_img_1453044074165

Nope, I do not believe so. Dogs do what they can to be comfortable. Brittie was just annoyed that I had the camera out. (Maybe she does care a little?)

Dogs care about the important stuff such as playing, snuggling, sleeping and being sassy (well Brittie was sassy).

Brittie in crock

snuggly-brittie-with-girls

sleepy-brit

i-want-to-eat-now-brittie-2

When memories of loved ones sneak up on you, embrace them. Cry, laugh, chortle, or gasp; whatever comes naturally for each memory. Your loved one will know at those moments that they are not forgotten and who knows, they may have had a sneaky hand in sending those memories to you. At least, this is what I believe.

HAPPY 17TH BIRTHDAY BRITTIE! We love and miss you. Thank you for the wonderful memories. pheasant-brittie

 

Storystorm Day 1: “The Calm Before the Storm” by Deb Lund

Day One of StoryStorm starts today, January 1, 2017 so what new picture book idea have you thought of today? Maybe Deb Lund’s analogy will spark one for you.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Deb Lund

I’ve been restless lately. Uncertain. Wondering what to work on next, but not taking action. Growing up in northern Minnesota, the outward version of that was an approaching storm—a blizzard, a tornado, torrential rains… It starts out in stillness and quickly gets dark.

storm-clouds

There’s something in the air that you can’t quite identify, and then it whooshes in…

storystorm

Energy builds. Everything whirls around you. There’s nothing to hang on to. It all feels impossible and there’s nothing you can do about it—except face it. Be brave! Lean into the wind! You got this!

Creativity needs chaos. It needs a storm. Once in a while we need to be shaken out of our pitiful patterns and hideous habits. You know what I mean. Those crazy excuses—I’m too old/young/busy/whatever. Or… just another game of Solitaire, or another snack. Yeah! That’s what I need!

storm-dance

When the storm hits, don’t hide…

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GOODBYE 2016

[title photo credit: happynewyear2017s.com]

2016 had its highs and lows and was both fast fleeting and slow going depending on the day. What I remember most about this year is it was iconic and quickly became capricious.

It is iconic for the most lost lives of more than noteworthy people in the world in one single year; people who made a difference in politics, arts and entertainment, community, health, environment, sports and so much more. {May the major networks at least come up with a looooong special in January about all of these amazing people and what the world lost when they left earth}.

2016 is also capricious with all of the erratic and unpredictable change that occurred throughout the year.

For me, I struggled to keep my head above water and concentrate on the good that was going on in the shadows of the lies and horribleness that reared its ugly head this year. My heart broke as each angel left earth and entered their new journey onward, which started in January with Pat Harrington Jr. of ‘One Day at a Time’ fame. Followed quickly by
David Bowie and Alan Rickman, two artists who I admired for their uniqueness. Celine Dion’s husband, René Angélil died the same day as Rickman sending the music world into another grieving moment. Then my Grizzly Adams died (Dan Haggerty) the day after, followed by one of my favorite Eagles, Glenn Frey and finishing off the sad month was ‘Fish’, Abe Vigoda from Barney Miller and Paul Kantner, founding member of Jefferson Airplane. My heart ached that month and it seemed like the deaths would not end.

alan-rickman-snape

{photo credit: mashable.com}

But February brought about more deaths inside and outside of the music and movie industry. Inside we lost Joe Alaskey, Maurice White, Vanity, George Gaynes, Sonny James, Angela Raiola, Tony Burton and George Kennedy. But outside of these industries we lost, BMX racing legend; Dave Mirra, astronaut Edgar Mitchell; US Supreme court Member, Anthony Scalia; two authors- Harper Lee and Umberto Eco.

george-gaynes

{photo credit: hngn.com}

March rolled on with fifteen more deaths that rocked the world: Lee Reherman, Joey Feek, Pat Conroy, Nancy Reagan, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr., Bob Ebeling, Phife Dawg, Rob Ford, Joe Garagiola, Garry Shandling, Jim Harrison, Mother Mary Angelica, and Patty Duke.

patty-duke-hail-to-the-chief

{photo credit: imgarcade.com}

In April we lost Erik Bauersfeld, Merle Haggard, David Gest, Doris Roberts, Les Waas, Chyna, Prince, Michelle McNamara, Isabelle Dinoire, Papa Wemba and Billy Paul.

purple-rain

{photo credit: printmatic.net}

How would we cope with all this loss? We learned that instead of simply mourning their loss, we needed to remember what each of these people brought to us and what can take away from them being on earth as long as they were. We will all die sometime so what will we each leave behind for the living to remember? May gave us chance to ponder.

Seven extraordinary lives succumbed in May. Afeni Shakur Davis, Jane Little, Emilio Navaira, Guy Clark, Morley Safer, Alan Young and Nick Menza.

tupacs-mother

{photo credit: stylemagazine.com}

But June pounded us back into reality with the deaths of Muhammad Ali, Kimbo Slice, Theresa Saldana, Gordie Howe, Christina Grimmie, Ron Lester, Anton Yelchin, Ralph Stanley, Bernie Worrell, Bill Cunningham, Alvin Toffler, Buddy Ryan, Scotty Moore and Pat Summitt.

muhammad-ali

{photo credit: blog.richmond.edu}

July slowed us down again with the deaths of Elie Wiesel, Michael Cimino, Noel Neill, Abbas Kiarostami, Garry Marshall, Mark Takai, Rev. Tim LaHaye and Miss Cleo.

noel-neill-645x370

{photo credit: 411mania.com}

August gave us a running for unlucky with thirteen noteable deaths…David Huddleston, Pete Fountain, Berry Jenner, Kenny Baker, Fyvush Finkel, John McLaughlin, Lou Pearlman, Matt Roberts, Toots Thielemans, Steven Hill, Sonia Rykiel, Juan Gabriel and Gene Wilder.

gene-wilder-willy-wonka

{photo credit: twistmagazine.com}

September did not want to be outdone by August so it beat it. Joe Polito, picture book author-Anna Dewdney, Jerry Heller, Phyllis Schlafly, Lady Chablis, Greta Zimmer Friedman, Alexis Arquette, Edward Albee, WP Kinsella, Curtis Hanson, Shawty Lo, Bill Nunn, José Fernández, Arnold Palmer and Shimon Peres.

anna_and_llama {photo credit: alchetron.com}

With the US Presidential campaigning in full progress in October, the world watched with squinted eyes. The following people almost slipped through unnoticed but we did mourn: Tommy Ford, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Steve Dillon.

Onto the most capricious month of 2016 where a vast majority are now wishing 2016 to end. November trumped up the shock value not only with who won the US Presidential election (not my choice) with these incredible losses: Janet Reno, Leonard Cohen, Robert Vaughn, Leon Russell, Gwen Ifill, Holly Dunn, Sharon Jones, Florence Henderson, Ron Glass and Grant Tinker.

senectitude

As we come to the very last senectitude of 2016, I hope there are no more capricious moments before 11:59 p.m. December 31. Not only did the group Emerson, Lake and Palmer lose Emerson earlier this year, the first WOW fatality of December was Greg Lake, another member. We took ourselves back in history to celebrate the life of astronaut John Glenn who died December 8. Longtime soap stars, Joseph Mascolo and Barbara Tarbuck passed on as well as author E R Braithwaite; actor Alan Thicke; sports broadcaster, Craig Sager; model and fashion editor, China Machado; actress Zsa Zsa Gabor; pop star George Michael; comedian Ricky Harris; Children’s author, Richard Adams; Princess Leia- Carrie Fisher followed immediately one day later by her mother and also famous actress, Debbie Reynolds.

My advice for the coming year which is already in motion for surprises: every person who dies in the world is noteworthy and left behind some kind of legacy that can be learned from in some capacity; so take time to learn about the people who have left you whether in your own family, your community or the world and put their life into perspective. Love and enjoy those around you and live every moment as if it’s your last because it could be. What legacy do you want to leave behind for the world? The significance will be great no matter how small you think it may be.

As for me, I have set myself some lofty goals for 2017 that I plan to attain. I will experience failures along the way but these failures will lead to my eventual success. Therefore…

2016, I bid you adieu. Bring on 2017!

Happy New Year all and may your highs be more abundant than your lows which is also my wish for the world in the new year!

Sincerely,

Traci

 

 

 

 

 

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: