Monthly Archives: March 2013

Does Predictability Equal Boring?

The other day, Youngest says, “I can’t wait for Easter.”

To which I had several thoughts:

  • He has a strong faith and is excited about the resurrection of Jesus.
  • He needs to replenish his sugar levels.
  • Yay, another few days off of school.

It turned out to be none of these. “I can’t wait for my new pair of baseball pants.”

Yep, that rascally rabbit always deposits a pair of baseball pants in the little boys’ Easter baskets. He must know they love baseball and need a nice, clean, new pair each year.

This pattern of predictability got me thinking about writing–picture books in particular. For parents, rereading the same sentence or phrase or idea can be BORING. It might make us want to bury the book in the nearest dumpster. However, kids actually like this  predictability.

The repetition builds anticipation. It helps the youngest listeners stay involved. It creates a sense of connection because they can better understand the rhythm of the story and guess what will happen next.

One of my kids’ favorite books was Cookie’s Week. Okay, one of my faves, too.

  • On Monday, Cookie did something naughty and made a mess.
  • On Tuesday, Cookie did something naughty…
  • On Wednesday…

Yeah, Cookie got into all sorts of mischief throughout the week. The kids delighted in knowing that as each day passed, Cookie would be in trouble once again, whether for scattering pots and pans, knocking over trash cans, falling in the toilet or pulling down the curtains. By Sunday, they were sure more calamity would befall this curious kitten.

Yet Sunday suggests that maybe today, Cookie will rest. Except that the curled up ball of fluff has one eye open on the last page.

Predictability isn’t necessarily a bad thing in picture books. Or in Easter baskets.

Traditions can be powerful tools both in books and in life.

What are your Easter Traditions? Do they feel tired and worn-out or comforting? How can  you keep them alive and exciting for generations to come?

Curious minds want to know.

 

Name A Rump: Win A Prize!

This baby’s got back and s/he needs a name!

My publisher, Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, is hosting a contest to name its mascot.

A Few Rules of Note:

*Head over to EBP’s website and leave your suggested name in the comments.

*All Entries must be received by April 15th. Yeah, tax day. But naming our pachyderm friend is a lot more fun than paying Uncle Sam.

*The top ten names will be listed over at EBP on April 30th where you will have the opportunity to Rate The Rump–er, vote on which name you like.

*So, what are you waiting for?

Prizes you say? Okay, the individual who suggests the winning name will receive one of three prizes depending on age and/or desires. S/he can pick from the following:

So, no matter what your reading preference, you should find one story that will tickle your tweeter and make suggesting a name worth your time.

And a reminder: EBP is still selecting short stories for the upcoming summer anthology. The theme deals with endings and whatever that may mean to you. If you’re interested in penning a new piece or dusting off something from the trunk, head over to Elephant’s Bookshelf Press for submission details.

Please spread the word about the contest and the call for submissions. The more names to pick from, the more fun it will be.

Already I can think of half a dozen: Mirabelle, Preston…

How about you?

And Down the Rabbit Hole We Go.

And Down the Rabbit Hole We Go..

Just got word that my most anticipated book of the season has shipped. UPS better hurry or I might just explode

Kudos to R.K. Lewis on his gritty debut novel UNTOLD DAMAGE.

Writers are to Readers as Cats are to Dogs

The other day, my Dear Daughter played a funny video on YouTube. One segment showed a baby kitty slipping down a slide, desperately mewing for its mommy to come save it.

Our labrador pup totally freaked out. With every cry, she would tilt her head nearly sideways and peer around the room in search of the kitten. DD then slipped her kindle under the couch and pushed play. Said lab dug furiously at the tiny space between the furniture and the floor in an attempt to get to the feline in distress.

I’m not sure what she would have done with a baby kitty if she’d gotten a hold of one, but she was one interested pup.

That should be the relationship writers strive for with their audiences–an all-consuming interest that nearly drives readers wild.

Dear writer friends, what do you do to make your readers’ ears perk up? How do you snag your readers’ attention so they don’t wander away from your book on the shelf to another title further down? What makes your stories as appealing as a kitten mew to a hunting dog?

Curious minds want to know.

Why I Write

My grandfather passed away on Saturday. He turned eighty-eight at midnight and left this world thirty minutes later. He was ready to go, which always makes things easier.

Over the years, I’ve been honored with penning poems for funeral programs. I’ve also had the joy of nudging marriages along with a handful of words. Each time, I write with the individuals in mind. Each poem or piece a testament to a specific person. A specific purpose.

My grandfather was a quiet man. Midwestern stoic. A hard worker. A provider. A practical man. He was the kind to show his care for others through actions, not words. And  yet, deep within this practical exterior was a soul of whimsy.

A welder by trade, he pieced together bits and scraps in his free time. Nails. Pop bottle tops. Cast iron skillets. In his work-worn hands, these every day items came together as miniature works of art.

The refrigerator magnets of my childhood were pop top skillets with two painted eggs frying inside. A beautiful nail rocking chair adorned my mom’s bookshelf, while tiny windmills captured the attention of guests. Just yesterday, a skillet clock passed hands from my mom to my little sister. All these and more were gifts from a quiet, unassuming man.

He took his business motto seriously: “We weld everything but broken hearts and the crack of dawn.”

In life, he created. In honor of his life, I write.

 

WELDED BY LOVE

Love is not a parade of roses.

It’s a rocking chair,

thoughtfully presented

to relieve your weary load.

 

Love is not fancy dinners

celebrated on commercial holidays

rich with chocolate, wine and flawless diamonds.

It’s breakfast—two eggs, over easy—in a beat up frying pan.

 

Love is the breath of the wind,

spinning through windmill blades,

full of energy, passion and power.

 

It’s raw and untainted,

a hodgepodge of little things

not meant to woo,

but to comfort the soul

 

It’s a rough beard

and rougher hands

work-worn

and blackened.

 

Love is not fixing what is broken;

It’s never breaking it in the first place.

 

We weld everything

but broken hearts

and the crack of dawn.

 

Father,

Grandfather,

Grandpa,

Pops.

 

You welded more than you will ever know.

I write to give breath to that which may be forgotten. I write to teach, not preach. To soothe the soul with a balm of words made of hope and compassion. I write to give voice to those who cannot.

Why do you write?

Curious minds want to know.