Living with a children's author isn't as easy as it looks!

Archive for the ‘picture book writing’ Category

Inspirational Quote of the Week

 

I’m glad our quote this week isn’t, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Mom has been teaching me a new trick for a few days now. I’d hate to think she’s just banging her head against the wall with it.

Wait. What?

She wants me to learn to stand on a little bench so when we visit the VA, my wheelchair friends will be able to reach me better. (Also, Mom won’t have to pick me up 859 times because apparently I am a fat, overgrown meatloaf, and I’m breaking her back.)

So I study.

Just like I studied my IQ treat hider.

And I practice.

Just like I practiced bowling.

And I’m learning.

Just like I learned to fly a plane.*

*Not an actual plane. And I’m not actually flying.

Next week, Mom will also be learning. She will be attending a webinar called The Heart of Picture Books where she will learn a new trick.

She will learn to have more heart in her writing. #olddognewtrickforsure Stories with heart are more likely to connect with readers and agents and editors. Heart is good in stories. Also in real life. Heart is good everywhere.

Learning is good everywhere, too. Even old dogs can learn new tricks.

 

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Five Word Friday

 

Today, I picked out 5 words from one of Mom’s old stories that she’s working on again. She’s making it new. And better. And shorter. And better…

6. Pets – Mom has always had pets – even before me. (What a shocker that life didn’t begin with me, #amiright ) She grew up with a Myna bird that talked, a couple of other birds off and on, tropical fish, baby turtles, and of course doggies always.

Sandy

Smoki

92. Basement – Mom got a score back from a story she had rated. She said her score was “in the basement” which is confusing because our house doesn’t have a basement – unless you count where Mom parks the car. It’s just as well. I am already afraid of the parking garage, the fire extinguisher, the elevator, the trash room, and the hallway. I do NOT need a basement to worry about on top of all that.

Yikes! A mirror dog on the ceiling! I’m pretty sure he’s trying to kill me….

14. Grass – When I am not taking a street nap or a sidewalk nap,

I will sometimes lie in the grass for a change of pace.

That said, if the grass is damp for any reason – rain, dew, sprinklers – I will not step in it. Mom says, “Come on, weirdo.” and “I don’t like it either.” and “You can’t walk the tightrope forever.” But yes I can…

#curbwalker

27. Crab – When she was a 3rd grade teacher, Mom had hermit crabs, fiddler crabs, newts, goldfish, mealworms, a turtle, sea monkeys. hamsters, tadpoles, butterflies, frogs, ants, and a parakeet in her classroom at one time or another. Once when I was sleepy, Mom called me the name of Crabby, so in a way, she STILL has a crab.

#sideeye

8. Sweat – Whenever Mom is working on a new story or waiting to hear about something she submitted, she says she is “sweating it out.” I don’t think she knows from sweating while she’s typing and talking to herself in the nice cool house. I know sweating better than she does. I do it through my paws and my mouth. I do it when I’m hot and I do it when I’m nervous. And sometimes, I do it for no reason at all….

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

“Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.”

~Samuel Beckett~

Of course, Mom wants me to say I try and fail all the time. But that’s not true. I don’t really try at all. I’m usually phoning it in. So when I fail, that’s the reason.

And when I fail better, it’s random luck.

Mom on the other hand tries. Lately, she’s been working on old and new stories and submitting them to Rate Your Story

Could be better (1), but could be worse (10).

and to her critique group named LindaVijiJenConnieandOtherJen. When they write to her about her work, they always say what’s not clear, what to cut, what to tighten, what to add, and what to change. Then Mom is able to fail better. But only until she succeeds.

Meanwhile she has small successes along the way like seeing her new stories get more focused on their themes. And she gets to see her old stories go off in new directions.

My progress goes in many different directions. I’ve recently changed my street nap technique when the street burned my butt. #fail

I moved to the sidewalk. Mom said, “This isn’t much better.” and “Still embarrassing.” and “Why can’t you be normal?”

When she takes me out to eat, I’ve stopped hiding under her chair, tripping the waitress, and sitting in the water bowl. #fail

Now I just beg for food because sharing is caring. And Mom shares!


At the park, I still hide under the bench, but sometimes, I come partway out to catch some sunshine and say hi to some park people.

Mom said, “What are you afraid of?” and “Want to play?” and “I feel like I’m being watched.”

 

 

 

Five Word Friday

Today’s 5 words were taken from Mom’s newest story. The story is finished, but not finished. It’s resting until she opens it again to change things – especially the ending. Mom likes when her stories end with a laugh or a gasp or a smile

or an unexpected pop. When she tucked this one away, the ending was more of a fizzle. Not cool.

Z-z-z-z-z-z…..

16. Wiggle – Stories usually wiggle around from place to place to keep the reader guessing. I usually wiggle around soaking up the street heat and getting dirt into my furs.

42. Giggle – Ending a story with a giggle is always a goal for Mom. Sometimes it takes a few tries or a little advice from her critique partners. I don’t giggle, but I am pretty good at making people smile.

9. Color – Stories should have color: colorful characters, colorful language, colorful pictures, and a long colorful life in the hands of children. Since we have lots of color in our home

and our lives,

Mom hopes to transfer that color to her work every day.

82. Sun – I love sunshine. It makes me feel like taking a street nap,

hitting the park,

or just basking.

5. Broom and dustpan – Because of my white furs, and apparently my spitting, drooling, sneezing, and floor-licking, Mom uses her broom and dustpan a lot. Also her microfiber mop, Swiffer Sweeper, big vacuum, small vacuum, Swiffer Duster, sponge mop, dustcloths, and Mr.Clean Magic Eraser.

Filthy??? Who? Me?

She thinks I have a problem. I think she has a problem.

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.

~Ray Bradbury~

Thinking is SO overrated. I avoid it at all costs. Mom asks me “What were you thinking?” all the time. I try to tell her, “Nuthin'” but I’m not sure she understands. What is she thinking I’m thinking? She needs to stop thinking.

Captured under a walker?

Nuthin’…

Head caught in a shopping bag?

Nuthin’…

Squished under a chair?

Nuthin’…

Too close to the edge?

Nuthin’…

It’s really pretty simple, actually. Don’t think. Just do.

Mom is doing things these days, too. Just doing. Not thinking. She’s partway through a new story and partway through a new poem. And she submitted a couple of things last week, too. She found them in the computer, fixed them up all shiny and new and sent them on their way out into the world for people to judge. She will do the same when she gets to the end of her latest story and poem. First she will make sure there’s enough conflict and a surprise ending twist. Then off they go. Not thinking is fun.

Except when you head face first into the sticker bush by the lake….

Ouch. Not fun…

 

 

 

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Mom has been looking up at the stars a lot lately.

She imagines getting her next acceptance letter/email/phone call/telepathic message. She visualizes how it will play out and exactly how it will feel.

When a rejection comes instead, she visualizes the acceptance even harder.

Meanwhile, she reads, writes, revises, edits, critiques, and submits. She has to. That’s what writers do.

…in between playing with the peppermint ball…

I look up at the stars, too. I don’t imagine anything or visualize anything – or read or write or edit or critique or submit anything. I just look at the stars or stare at the air. Mom says, “Are you daydreaming?” and “Are you sightseeing?” and “Enough, weirdo! We’re going home!”

She is long on patience waiting for Book #2 to be accepted, but short on patience waiting for me. When she gets publisher mail, she says, “This is it!” When I am star gazing, she says, “That is it!” They are really very different…

Mom and I agree on one thing. Stephen Hawking was a pretty smart guy. Keeping your head up and your eye on the prize matters. Aiming for the stars is never a bad idea. And when you can’t take time to smell the flowers

because the flowers are sleeping under the snow, keep your head up. Stare at the air. Or look up at the stars!

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Mom and I are connected. Wherever she is, that’s where I am. Our connection is strong. Sometimes she leaves me behind and goes out without me. In that case, I am just sad and waiting for her to come back to me. …But I still feel connected.

Mom has been working with some of her new story ideas. She is trying to get some of them to connect to each other. Putting a random character into a random setting is always fun, so Mom does that a lot. Walking them into a problem and then getting them to struggle their way to a creative solution is also fun, but more difficult.

I have been stuck in some situations now and then, myself. Sometimes, I can get myself out, but sometimes, I straight-up need help.

Strange doggie staring at me. Stay strong.

Opening the treat drawer – Wait for Mom to help.

Hat falling off…

Run!

Stuck under the bed…

Settle in for the long haul.

Lost a shoe – cross your paws that it’s never found…

FYI – It’s ALWAYS found…

Caught in the soccer net – “MOM!”