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In Remembrance of Mr. Penguin

When I was little, I had a fantastic friend. The story about why I called him Mr. Penguin is a long one, but suffice to say, he was tall, dapper, and a true gentleman. He was also about 50 years older than I was. I used to run up to him and hug him, knowing I would be loved and accepted. He made everyone feel that way.

Three days ago, my friend died. I hadn’t seen him for years, as life has a way of moving on, and old friends become older still. He moved to a different state, and I did too. But there’s that sore spot that aches when I think of him. I’m full of love and gratitude, but sadness too. With the end of his life comes the end of an era. Childhood is long gone, but it slips yet further away, and with it, the people in the older generation, that slowly pass the baton to the ones still fighting the good fight. It takes bravery to stay here. To know that the words they spoke are the last ones they will ever say. I wrote this poem to music a few lines at a time, over a few months, but I feel it’s only right to dedicate it to him, my cherished friend. I’m thankful he had the hope of eternity.

When I Go Away

I will go where no man knows
No man but the Son of God
And He’ll await me and embrace me
When I go away

Leaves that line the trees with gold
On the path to paradise
Changing Autumn into Summer
When I go away

Wings alight me through the clouds
Into starlight I arise
Heaven takes me and awakes me
When I go away

October 22, 2019

sky

News

Star Gazing

Twinkle Twinkle Little StarI guess it’s time for an update! The sound of crickets has permeated this website for far too long. Sorry, crickets, but you’ll have to stop singing for a few minutes while I explain myself.

Here’s how I’ve been tackling picture book writing:

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Engaging in the great wide world of Twitter. Twitter writers of all genres have proved surprisingly supportive, often following just because I’m a writer. I started out with 0 followers and now, after several months of engaging, talking, laughing, and being generously added to writing threads, I have over 1,600 followers (update: over 2,000). My new-found secret to Twitter is this: be nice, have fun, and enjoy people. Writer hashtags are #writingcommunity #writerscommunity #writercommunity #writerslife and #kidlit. I also love checking in on #kidlitart.

Joining an SCBWI critique group. These people are gold. Contributing to and learning from this group has me excited every month. I’m finding that critiques helpful no matter what kind of feedback I receive. The advice I agree with helps me revise my manuscripts, and the advice I disagree with helps me firm up my goals.

 

Submitting three stories to my first ever contest.  I entered the “Kindergarten rocks” contest put on by the Institute of Children’s Literature. Finishing and submitting my manuscripts was a bit intimidating, but I left feeling more accomplished. Even if I don’t win, I’ve gained valuable experience. The webinar announcing and critiquing the winners is free for writers who entered and $7 for anyone who didn’t submit an entry.

 

Joining the 12×12 Picture Book Challenge by Julie Hedlund. The challenge is to write twelve picture books in twelve months, but the community is what keeps people signing up year after year. Writers of all experience levels encourage each other in the art of picture books via a forum, a monthly webinar, and a Facebook group. Thinking I couldn’t afford it this year, I applied for a scholarship, which I didn’t win (another great learning experience, and possibly cringe-worthy). Then I received a surprise Christmas check and I was back in business!

12x12Forum

Asking boatloads of questions. The biggest one I have in mind right now is: Where do I fit as a children’s writer? What are my goals? Do I want to stick with one style or vary? How quickly should I pursue publication? Do I want to pursue agents? What kind of agent do I want to pursue?

Writing. This one seems obvious, but honestly, it can be a challenge. I’m full of all kinds of ideas, but fleshing them out feels intimidating sometimes, especially when the standard word-count for picture books is 500 words or less.

Star-gazing. Lately I’ve felt like I’m staring into the ocean at night, just staring, and wondering what on earth I’ve gotten myself into. I know there’s an island out there, somewhere, but the path feels dark and threatening and this menacing pile of wood sits here next to me, telling me to build it into a boat. My answer to this? I look up. “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.” (Isaiah 40:26) I know an endlessly powerful Creator who knows and cares about the answers to my small questions. I only need to follow Him, one faithful step at a time.

Fun List Mondays

What Are Three Reasons You Like Learning (And One Reason You Don’t)?

Fun List Monday, August 27

I love the sense of freedom I get after learning something new. After learning to ride a bike, suddenly I could ride to school and to my grandmother’s house. Learning academically has been the same way for me. Suddenly I’m excited about books and articles that didn’t make sense before! How about you? What do you like about learning?

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Write a list with me! Every Monday I will post a fun list. Fill out your list and enjoy it by yourself, share it on my Facebook page, in the comments or on Twitter (with the hashtag #FunListMondays). Not convinced? Read about how lists encourage better writing here.

Like this activity? See other Fun List Mondays here.

Furry Thursday

Furry Thursday, No. 9

Can you guess the animal based on the clues?
Smash up science and English parts of speech together with this guessing game!

adjectives: odd, furry, aquatic, poisonous, shy, perplexing, fascinating, sonic
verbs: waddle, swim, dive
nouns: burrow, bill, beaver tail, hodgepodge
biomes: aquatic

Think you know which animal?
Click here for the answer!

Simplified definitions:
Adjective: a describing word, placed before a noun (or pronoun)
Noun: 
a person, place, thing, or idea
Verb: 
an action word
Biome:
the type of environment where living things make their homes, a habitat (ex: desert, rainforest, tundra)
herbivore:
plant-eater
carnivore:
meat-eater
omnivore:
eats both plants and meat

Furry Thursday chipmunk

Freewrite Wednesday

Freewrite Wednesday: President or Dessert?

Ready to free your writing? Let’s do a freewrite together!

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Would you rather be the president of The United States of America (and choose your cabinet) but never eat dessert, or not be the president and eat as much dessert as you want?

Help to get you started:
Why did you make your choice? If you chose to be president, what would you do with your new position? How would life change for you? If you chose dessert, why did you choose to not be president?  Which desserts would you eat?

Set your timer for 10 minutes and write, write, write!
Have an especially meaningful freewrite? Share it in the comments or on my Facebook page.

About Freewrites: A freewrite is exactly what it sounds like: free! Use a freewrite to practice channeling thoughts from your mind to the paper. Never done a freewrite? Learn more in my Guide to Freewriting 

Poetry Tuesday

Poetry Tuesday! August 21

Hello! Welcome to Poetry Tuesday: the day we dip (or dive) into the lovely world of poetry!

Each Tuesday from June 19 to August 21, 2018, I’ll share a Poetry Activity, a Poem Study, plus an Advanced Poetry Lesson. Feel free to enjoy one, two, or all three of these fun resources! (Click on the title links)

Poetry Activity (for kids, adults, and everyone in between): Concrete (Shape) Poem

Poem Study Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Sonnets, Week 2

Poetry Tuesday

Poetry Tuesday

Poetry Activity: Concrete Poetry

Hello! Welcome to Poetry Tuesday: the day we dip (or dive) into the lovely world of poetry!

Interested in poetry?
Write a concrete (shape) poem in this activity for kids, adults, and everyone in-between.

concrete mouse poem 2

A. Introduction to Concrete Poems

Concrete poems are a special kind of poetry in which the words themselves make a shape! It’s fun, it looks neat, and most importantly, it makes the poem come alive to the reader in a unique way.

Here’s an old example of a concrete poem. It was written by George Herbert, who lived from 1593 to 1633 in Europe. If you turn it sideways, it looks like two sets of Angel Wings! 

Angel Wings

Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
      Though foolishly he lost the same,
            Decaying more and more,
                  Till he became
                        Most poore:
                        With thee
                  O let me rise
            As larks, harmoniously,
      And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

My tender age in sorrow did beginne
      And still with sicknesses and shame.
            Thou didst so punish sinne,
                  That I became
                        Most thinne.
                        With thee
                  Let me combine,
            And feel thy victorie:
         For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me.

At the top of the page is a poem that I wrote when I was putting together this activity. It was inspired by a recent mouse incident we had in our basement!

See how it looks like a mouse? Sometimes you have to turn the paper to read all the way around a concrete poem!

B. Writing a concrete poem
Your turn!

1. Pick a simple shape. You can pick your own shape or print out one of these templates:
ball
star
butterfly (advanced)
paw print (advanced)

2. Write a poem about your shape on a separate piece of paper. Even though my poem rhymed, yours absolutely doesn’t need to. Just write words to describe your shape. 

3. Write your poem around the shape!

4. Would you like your concrete poem to be only words and no drawing marks? Here’s a mini-tutorial to help:
a. Trace your shape with a dark marker
b. Place a clean piece of white paper on top of your shape so the shape shows through
c. Write your poem on the white paper, using the shape underneath as a guide

Pleased with your poem? Snap a picture of it and share it in the comments or post it on my

Facebook page so we can all read and enjoy them!

Hungry for more? Check out this week’s…

Poem Study Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Sonnets, Week 2