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

Posts tagged ‘character’

Inspirational Quote of the Week

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

–Fred Rogers–

We think of helpers a lot during the Labor Day season. I mean, they’re around 24/7/365, but they are especially honored at this time of year. Plus lots of them have the day off to relax and recharge. And eat burgers.

Mom and I met a lot of the helpers Mr. Rogers talked about when our car floated away in the storm a couple of months ago. A nearby family invited us into their house to dry off and warm up, some teenagers pushed our soggy car out of the water, the police called for the tow truck to take the car to a safe place, our Uber driver took us home through the storm, and the insurance lady helped us figure out how to get a rental and then a new car. We appreciated all of them and lots more helpers in between.

I’m sure the Hurricane Dorian people down south will be finding the helpers today and for a bunch more days in the future. We are all, always ever-grateful for the helpers.

As a doggie, I appreciate helpers a lot. The vet

and people at Petco keep me happy and healthy with medicines, treats, toys, and neat nails on my paws.

The park and highway workers help me have fun adventures with Mom. And of course, Mom is a helper by holding the end of my leash to keep me safe from cars, big dogs, scary statues, and delicious poisons on the ground which I really want to eat.

Wait. What? Is that Teddy Roosevelt?? Please don’t make me walk near him.

As a writer, Mom appreciates helpers a lot, too. Everywhere she goes she hears, sees, and meets people and pets who give her ideas just by being their own original selves. Her critique group named LindaVijiLauriConnieKellyJenandOtherJen help her see what’s good and what needs work in her stories.

And of course, I am a helper by staring at her and giving my full support. She calls it “creeping her out.” That’s good… Right..?

 

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

Mom’s mom would’ve been my Grammy if I had every met her. I never did.

I know her through Mom, though. My Grammy worked hard at a sewing factory, but was a teacher at heart. AND she was a storyteller. Like Mom, she would never say 5 words if she could say 50. Every story was a loooong story. She always had something to say and always said it with joy and excitement and gusto and loved the whole process of weaving a tale and watching her audience react to it. They really are a lot alike.

Sometimes, people say, “To make a long story short….” Mom never says that. And she never does that. She is more likely to make a long story longer!

Mom is a writer because she writes her stories down while she’s weaving them. Grammy never had that luxury, although she did tell stories in the letters she wrote. So Mom has heard and read many, many stories since she was a little girl. Storytelling is in her blood and her skin and her bones. And in her fingers, because that’s where the stories come from as far as I can see.

I don’t have fingers, but once I made a “story” when I fell asleep on Mom’s iPad and typed QQQQQ with my ear.

Storytelling also came from Mom’s mom and her mom’s story and the tapestry of how they came together and grew and flourished and continued and will continue forever. Meanwhile, long after my Grammy and Mom jig-sawed their stories together, my own doggy mama taught me to survive as a stray

puppies

Me at the shelter with my puppies.

on the mean streets till I could be rescued, fostered, and then FINALLY adopted by Mom. My doggy mama’s lessons are where my story began.

First day at my forever home.

tiara

Queen of the world. My story continues…

 

Five Word Friday

5

Today’s five words come from one of Mom’s new stories.

16. Gum – I love gum. Yes, it’s true that I have never had gum and Mom says I never will, but I’m pretty sure I love it. Gum hides in Mom’s purse sometimes and once in a while it’s in the grocery bag, or in drawers that I can’t reach.

can't reach

8. Crashing – I crash land a lot. It happens when I run and slide and when I try to fly across the room or leap onto something I can’t reach. Mom crashes when a story or poem she wrote gets rejected. After her crashes she rallies by making revisions and trying again. After my crashes,  I run to Mom and beg for a treat to make me feel better.

cookie

720. Eggs – Once Mom wrote a poem about an egg that wasn’t an egg. It was really just a rock. So yeah. She wrote a poem about a rock. That’s how rejection happens… I’m just sayin’. I like to collect toys and things (like Mom’s glasses) and tuck them under my tummy on the couch. I try to hatch them like eggs. So far, nothing has hatched.

hatching

47. Tricks – I know lots of tricks. I can roll, bowl,

bowling pins

high five, sniff out a hidden treat, knock down a pile of paper cups,

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and of course, dance.

Mom uses tricks a lot in her writing. She tries to make interesting characters have unusual goals, encounter a bunch of obstacles, and in a tricky ending, she surprises the reader.

cups down

knock em down

5. Sleep – I sleep in Mom’s bed. She says, “Move over, chubby.” and “How can such a tiny dog take up so much space?” and sometimes, “This is my worst story ever. It will put editors to sleep!”

Seriously. A whole poem about a rock?

Seriously, though. A whole poem about a rock?   Z-z-z-z-z…

 

 

 

Inspirational Quote of the Week

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Leonardo DaVinci

I would love to be a doggie who “happened to things.” But unfortunately, most of the time, things happen to me. I blame this on my leash. One of Mom’s friends pointed out that in every single picture of me – there’s the leash. How can I make things happen when I’m tethered to Mom all the time?

Posed in front of the flowers.

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Plopped on a bench.

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Placed on a chair.

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Pulled from a street nap.

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Propped on a rock.

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Plunked on an examining table.

vet table

This is an issue in some of Mom’s stories, too. Her characters are sometimes called “slight” because they aren’t doing enough. Things are happening to them, instead of them happening to things like Leonardo said. Mom has to look for this slightness every single time she works on a story. When she spots it, she has to fix it up to make the story more meaty and less slight.

Did somebody say "meaty?"

Did somebody say “meaty?”

Mom says, “It’s easy enough to spot this problem.”

ladybug (2)

and “It’s tougher to fix it.”

confused

and “Do NOT dig a hole in that garden!”

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Leash! GAH!

Taking Your Time

Mom has to take her time when she makes a story. It’s OK to write it quickly, but then comes the hard work, which is revising, and that part is slow. Fixing the word choices in poems or stories makes the right mood and the right voice and the right feel. In her Lyrical Language Lab Class, Mom learned to look again at every word in a story to make it sound better and flow better without slowing the story down or going off on a tangent.

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Sometimes I get off on a tangent when I’m checking my pee-mail.

sniffing

When I’m sniffing out a message, I will say, “This is from my friend, Mocha.” and “I wish I could jump on his head right now.” and “His mom always says the furs on my head are soft.” and “My squirrel toy is really soft.”

squirrel

and “I wonder if that laughing monkey toy is out of the toy box waiting for me.”

monkey

and “Squirrels look like monkeys running around in the trees.” and “Trees are…..”

monkey cuddle

And then Mom says, “Let’s go.” and “Let’s GO!” and “LET’S GO!!” Apparently, sniffing the same blade of grass all day is not an option for me.

still sniffing

I am learning to take my time when I eat my dinner. I didn’t learn it in Lyrical Language Lab – it’s because of my new slow-feeder bowl!

Summer Learning

There has been some learning going on around here lately. Mom taught me the word, “Roll over.” It’s something like, “Down.” But more squiggly and flippy and thumpy and spinny. At first, Mom grabbed as many of my little legs as she could and twisted them like spaghetti till she got me upside down. Then I learned to tuck my back legs under and make myself turn to stone, so she couldn’t roll me. tucked under Eventually, she learned to show me a treat which made me melt into submission. That is called Learning. Plus Bribery. Mom said, “Whatever works.” and “By the time you learn this, you’ll be too fat to do it.” and “I need a break.” Then she made a s’more and didn’t share it with me. smore Mom will be learning around here, too. She joined Summer School! badge She’ll be studying online with two amazing teachers, a talented group of guest teachers, and a Facebook group filled with classmates. In Summer School, she’ll think up new characters. Then, she’ll grab their little legs and twist them like spaghetti till they squiggle, flip, thump, and spin. squiggle Then she’ll make a story about them. The bribery won’t work, so she’ll have to read a lot of posts, talk to herself, pay attention to her teachers, and be inspired. After that, she’ll probably make a s’more and not share it with me.

Seriously??!

Seriously??!

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Here I am – at the beach!

sand

There’s sand and sun and sand and sand and sun….

sand field

And fences and bases and benches and grass. Wait! What? This isn’t the beach. It’s the baseball field at the park.

sand fence

It sure seemed like the beach, though…. I guess I should’ve asked more questions before I got into the car.

car

Mom asks her characters questions when she’s writing. I know because she asks them out loud. She needs to know their strengths and weaknesses, favorite things and pet peeves, best friends and secret thoughts. Sometimes characters seem perfect for Mom’s story, but then, when she gets to know them better, she cuts them because they just plain don’t work. Sometimes, they fit better in a different story, so Mom moves them. Or saves them for the future. Once in a while, they change the course of the story they’re in, by not behaving the way Mom thought they would. Characters can be tricky like that.

Things are not always what they seem. When I lived in a cage, Mom thought I was too small, too old, too nervous, and just all wrong for her. Turns out, I’m perfect.

perfect

Countdown Wednesday

Today, Mom and I are counting down about advice.

Advice I Get

3. Be Quiet – Mom says this word when the mailman comes. Ditto the FedEx and UPS guys. She clearly does not know these people are here to kill me. I must sound the alarm.

2. Don’t pull – Mom tells me this word when I am smelling delicious things outside, and checking my pee-mail. She clearly does not know that if I don’t quickly eat the goose candies in the grass, one of my dog friends might get them and I will miss out.

muddy

1. Fetch it – It took me a long time to understand this advice. I finally learned what it means. For any of my friends struggling with fetching, the secret to it is the bring-back. Do not get the ball, bring it on the couch, and try to hatch it like an egg.

fetch

Nailed it. Wait. What??

That is apparently not fetching. Bring it back to Mom and GET A TREAT. That’s fetching.

Advice Mom Gets

3. Add Conflict – People don’t like conflict. Especially Mom. But in a story, conflict is good. So are suspense, action, problems, unexpected obstacles, surprises, and other kinds of trouble. I like trouble.

broken barrel

I don’t think the monkey will pop out of the barrel and laugh at me anymore…. RIP laughing monkey.

2. Find Your Voice – Each time she starts a new story (at least once a month), Mom has to find her picture book voice. Voice helps the book sound unique and different from other books. Voice shows Mom’s characters looking at the world in their own special way.

shadow

1. Focus on Character – Mom usually writes stories that are plot, plot, plot. Lately, she is trying to take the advice she’s received about developing character, character, character. Susanna Hill’s Picture Book Magic class helped her a lot with that. Now Mom can get to know her characters before they start living in her story.

sunshine-award

 

Speaking of living, two of my bloggy friends gave me the Sunshine Award, recently. I think it’s the perfect time of year for this award, since the snow is finally gone, and any minute now, the sun will shine and I will take a street nap.

street nap

A big, sunny thank you to Collies of the Meadow and The Squeak Life for sharing this prize with me. If you feel like you need a smile, visit them. They’re a guaranteed giggle. And if you want to celebrate the sunshine, take this award and post it to your own blog.

Hidden

Spring is finally coming. Things that have been hidden under the snow are coming back. Look! It’s a coffee cup!

dd cup

Mom’s new story was hidden under the snow in her brain. Every single day, when she started working on it, she gave it a new title, made a list of new characters, decided on a new theme, and gave them new goals to accomplish, new problems to solve, and different obstacles to overcome.

confusion

It’s a good thing spring is coming. Mom’s hidden story is coming back. It’s her third day working with the same title, the same theme, the same characters, and they have the same goals, problems, and obstacles as they had yesterday.

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I think spring has sprung….

Look! It’s a banana!

peel

I wonder if the black bananas taste better than the yellow ones….

And a ginger ale bottle.

gingerale

And my beehive is back from under the snow!!

hive

Hello, old friend…

Countdown Wednesday

Today, we’re counting down my latest awards.

dragon loyalty award

My friends at Dog Daz Zoo sent me the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. I won it once before right here.  Thanks, girls!

versatile-blogger-award-from-radmaverix-11-3-13

Nikitaland sent me the Versa-tail Blogger Award or something like that. Yay! Thanks. I have never had that one before. I think it means my tail is pretty, and not a freaky monkey-tail, like Mom says.

Whether you have a tail or not, feel free to add some bling to your blog and share either one of my awards.

Both awards want me to tell seven things about myself. I’m not much with the math, but I’ll try, and maybe I’ll even let Mom tell one or two things about herself, too.

Seven Things

1. I love sleeping under the covers on Mom’s bed.

cyclops

2. My birthday was in September. I’m seven.

bday

3. Sometimes, I try to hatch my toys like eggs.

hatching

4. When my feet touch sand, I run in circles like I am a deranged lunatic.

sand

5. One day, while Mom was driving to the VA, there was a devil in her rearview mirror.

devil mirror

6. I like lollipops.

lollipop

7. Mom read a book that had a dog named Cupcake in it. It wasn’t me.

daily coyote

92. Mom is falling behind in her reading challenge. She planned to read 200 picture books this year. She is not on target, but plans to catch up. We’ll see.

46. Speaking of falling behind, she also missed the month of June in the 12×12 challenge, so she’s hoping to do her June manuscript in December. We’ll see.

21. Mom promised to take me to the park today. I’m really tired from working at Read to a Pet Night at the library last night.

read to a pet

Being a good girl, listening to a story…

Plus it’s really cold outside. I’m not sure I want to go to the park. ….We’ll see….

cuddly jeans