Thank You Mr. Bill — Wrap It Up

Thank You Mr. Bill — Wrap It Up

I learned about the Wrap It Up – Blogfest through Leigh Covington. She planned to celebrate her birthday (Happy Birthday Leigh!) with a blog hop, but decided to join the one by David Powers King and J.A. Bennett — both are reaching 500 followers and wanted to celebrate.

Here’s my entry:

Dear Mr. Bill, 

Thank you. Thank you. I don’t know how Santa knew. My new toy wasn’t in my letter and I never asked for it. I never dreamed of asking for such a cool thing.

I rolled my cars over and under it. I cooked food in my plastic pots and pans on it. I built a wall with my blocks around it. 

I pushed my baby sister around the floor in it. I stuffed my Blue Bear, Cow Bunny and dog in it. Mom searched for 10 minutes calling my name — downstairs, upstairs and across the living room — as I hid in it. 

I kicked my balls — one, two and three — into it. I grabbed my blanket, prairie dog and lovey and took a nap in it. Dad shook his head and said something about my toy kitchen, when he joined me inside it. Santa has great taste, because I use it all the time. I will play with it every day.

I love my box! 



P.S. Dad doesn’t believe an elf would be named Bill. He said your name would be Jingles. I showed him the paper you left in my box, which had your name Bill printed on it. Well, it had Receipt on there, too, but I told my dad Elf Receipt would be a silly name. Elf Bill makes more sense. Please tell Santa I said thank you, thank you. I loved my surprise. My box is my favorite Christmas present. See you next year.

About my entry: I’ll let you decide whether the note is to a fictional or real person. It’s in the form of a 253-word Thank You note. I didn’t value Thank You notes in my late teens/early 20s. Once I embraced them, well, it changed everything. I love writing Thank You notes. They are handwritten hugs. 

There is still time to enter the contest today. Have a great weekend!

The rules:
Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) for someone you know (real or imaginary). It may be in any genre, but it must have a holiday theme (real or fictional). Post it on your blog anytime between now and when the linky closes. You will then give it to that someone, sometime before the new year.

Give it in the form of an email, on fancy stationary, or laser-etched onto a solid gold plate. Your choice. Telling us who you’re giving it to is optional. 

Every eligible entry will qualify for a chance to win one of a few special gifts. The linky will close at 11:59 PM, Friday the 16th (MST). J.A., Leigh, and David will then read, debate, and decide on five winners for the following:

1st: An Amazon Gift Card for $15
2nd: “Champaginer Challenges 2011” and “Totally Clichéd” E-books
3rd: A 5-page critique from David Powers King
4th: A 5-page critique from J. A. Bennett
5th: A 5-page critique from Leigh Covington

Judging will be based on the effectiveness and quality of your writing. There is no point system, no popularity votes, and you do not have to follow (the organizers) to participate.

Perfect Picture Books: Time for Bed

Perfect Picture Books: Time for Bed

Here’s another entry into Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. 

We eat. I mean read this one a lot at our house.
Written by Mem Fox and Illustrated by Jane Dyer
Red Wagon Books Harcourt Inc., 1993
Suitable for:  Ages 1 to 3
Theme/Topic: Bedtime, Rhyme
Opening: It’s time for bed, little mouse, little mouse, 
Darkness is falling all over the house.
For writers, read how Mem Fox developed the idea for this book. She was preparing a workshop and came up with the first lines — then completed a first draft in one evening. 
Brief Synopsis: (from back cover) Day is done. Darkness is falling everywhere, and little ones are getting sleepy. This gentle book, with its rhythmic verse and peaceful, loving illustrations, will lull toddlers whether it’s bedtime, nap time, or simply time for a snuggle. 
Link to resources: Here is a lesson plan for grades pre-K-5. A few quick tips include having children list rhyming words and have children rewrite the story using other animals and their babies. 
This site offers different ways to discuss the book through the vocabulary used in the book to the things the children do to get ready for bed. Here is an author study unit plan about Mem Fox.
Why I chose this book: I enjoy Mem Fox’s wonderful rhyme in this book. Sometimes the “rhythmic verse and peaceful, loving illustrations” soothe me more than my son at the end of a long day. I don’t like the snakes in the book, so I sometimes skip over those pages.
Please visit Susanna Leonard Hill to see the books and resources recommended by other writers.
Are you easy?

Are you easy?

The sign says one thing. The trail says another. 

I look at this blog sometimes and wonder: Am I easy? You know easy to follow.

After participating in the Picture Book Idea Month Challenge, I found myself introduced to a number of new writers. I also found myself frustrated when I couldn’t easily subscribe to a blog.

Here are a few observations:

  • While I prefer to subscribe to posts via email, not everyone does. I struggle with a cluttered inbox, but it’s the easiest way for me to subscribe. Offer several options. In Blogger, I know you can offer email, RSS feeds and Google Friend Connect options. You can also connect through Facebook with networked blogs. I haven’t figured out how to add this. I also haven’t figured out how to streamline my subscription options with little buttons despite great tips from writer Lynda R. Young. Sounds like another goal for 2012.
  • Let me know when you post, because it might determine how I subscribe to your posts. If you post daily, I may choose the weekly email option from WordPress or use the Google Reader to follow along on my Kindle Fire app. 
  • What time do you publish your posts? It may seem silly, but think about it — when do you read blog posts in the morning or afternoon. I tend to read in the morning, so I schedule posts to publish at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time. So, I’m two hours behind my East Coast friends. I think it’s early enough, because I often wake up to several comments on posting days.
  • If you have a WordPress blog, but maintain a Blogger profile — make sure it is up to date. I click through Blogger profiles and sometimes I can’t find your blog. Two recent scenarios: Your author website doesn’t have a blog tab that I can easily find or your Blogger profile has your old Blogger blog, but doesn’t offer a link to your WordPress site. Blogger allows you to add a website in your profile. Add your WordPress site and hide the Blogger blogs no longer in use. 
  • Sign in and comment with the correct profile. Nina Badzin recently asked me why I used my Twitter account when commenting on blogs. I don’t have an active WordPress blog, so I took a shortcut and signed in with my Twitter profile. Nina’s question made me think. I even quizzed Laura Barnes on the topic. I “social media” searched — is that what you call it instead of soul searching? With Laura’s help, I figured out a way to comment on a WordPress blog with my email, name and Blog URL — so with one click people are at my blog. 
  • Is there a way to unsubscribe to your posts? With the email feed from my Blogger account, there is an unsubscribe option at the bottom of the email. I subscribed to one blog months ago and cannot figure out how to unsubscribe. It’s a WordPress blog and doesn’t match any of my passwords. 
  • Is there a way to contact you through your website? I like it when I can email someone. If you don’t want to post your email address, why not make it clear you respond to comments or via Twitter. Hey, you never know who might be trying to reach you. 
Do you have a tip or strategy to share about following blogs or a pet peeve? Maybe a tip for me to improve my blog’s accessibility — I don’t want to be like that sign I found at Mount Rushmore. I’m all ears.

Blog Tour for Julie’s A Troop is a Group of Monkeys:
If you haven’t voted for Julie Hedlund’s A Troop is a Group of Monkeys story in the MeeGenius Author Challenge please consider stopping by and giving it a Facebook like. Here’s her post on the story: The Story Behind the Story: My MeeGenius Entry.

Julie is running a contest to help round up more likes for her story. Please spread the word. Julie works very hard on her stories and provides a wonderful blog Write Up My Life.

Perfect Picture Books: Cowboy Bunnies

Perfect Picture Books: Cowboy Bunnies

I’m joining in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Cowboy Bunnies — 
Written by Christine Loomis and Illustrated by Ora Eitan,
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 1997

Suitable for: Ages 2 and up

Theme/Topics: Rhyme, Southwestern

Cowboy bunnies
Wake up early
Ride their ponies
Hurly burly

Brief Synopsis:  The cowboy bunnies do their chores around the ranch from sunup to until they have some fun before bedtime.

Link to resources: While trying to find resources for this book, I found everything from preschool with classes named “cowboy bunnies” to materials about the Easter bunny to cowboys.  Here’s a variety of activities for different age levels involving cowboys. This Utah Education Network has a page of materials on What Does a Cowboy Do? I found lots of coloring pages too for cowboys, cowgirls and bunnies.

Why I chose this book:  I love books with a ranch southwestern theme. This one is perfect. It’s fun for me to read and Enzo enjoys it too. The illustrations are unique. I even read the fine print — “The art was done in gouache on plywood panels.” 

Enzo held the book for me to take a picture.

Perfect Picture Books: Goodnight Moon

Perfect Picture Books: Goodnight Moon

I’m joining in Susanna Leonard Hill’Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

You can see how Enzo likes to snack on his board book.

Goodnight Moon
Written by Margaret Wise Brown and Illustrated by Clement Hurd, Harper & Row Publishers, Inc. 1947

Suitable for: Ages newborn and up

Theme/Topics: Bedtime

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of —

Brief Synopsis: A little bunny says goodnight to his room and his world before drifting off to sleep.

Link to Resources: Along with the Harper Collins one page activity sheet this link offers additional worksheets including matching games, rhyming words, coloring sheets and a “goodnight” activity with your child’s room. At our house, we play the “hello” world game in the morning by naming objects in Enzo’s room.

Why I chose this book: It’s the first book I purchased for my son before he was born. I read it was a must for any child, so I purchased a copy. The genius of the book didn’t strike me when I first picked it up during my pregnancy. After Enzo’s arrival and multiple readings, I appreciate the simplicity of the words. I think it’s a brilliant story. Oh, and “rookie parent tip:” Buy the board book version. The paperback version is no match for little, grabby hands or emerging teeth. Enzo received the board book version as a gift.

P.S. I don’t know why I’m having some formatting issues with the blog this week. It looks fine. I hit publish and things change. I’ll put on my technical hat and see if I can tinker with it over the weekend … now how do I raise the lid on this thing to check the engine. 
Thankful Thursday: Picture Book Idea Month

Thankful Thursday: Picture Book Idea Month

I survived the Picture Book Idea Month challenge in November. 

Last week, I used this post to give a shout out to PiBoIdMo mama Tara Lazar.

Today, I wanted to share what I did over the 30-day challenge.

My stats: 
  • On index cards, I scribbled 55 ideas.
  • On my iPhone, I tapped out 153 ideas onto the yellow-looking notepad app.
  • In a random spiral notebook, four ideas are outlined.

Before anyone freaks out, let me explain. I wrote down every idea. 

  • If it popped into my head, I wrote down my thoughts. 
  • If I began writing and thought it could be a repeat idea, I ignored the thought. 
  • If I continued to write, I added a new angle or details. 

My love of six-word stories shows through in a few ideas as that’s all I have. For others, I wrote until no more words fit on my index card. 

Some common themes involve dogs, family and rules — well, a child breaking rules mostly. The presence of several flag ideas indicates that November was a windy month. 

While I managed to meet my idea goal, I failed to finish reading and work my way through Ann Whitford Paul’s book Writing Picture Books:  A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to PublicationA few excuses are involved with this one — the baby ate my homework. Well not exactly, but I’m sure Enzo would eat the book if given the opportunity. Several nonfiction titles I had on hold at the library arrived and I needed to read them, so I could pass them on to the next reader.

I also:

  • dabbled in some goal setting for 2012
  • wrote a first draft of a personal essay 
  • wrote a devotional for my church’s Advent devotion book (My first one! Yikes!)

I was honored to have these wonderful ladies share their time and talent here. I’m grateful they wrote guest posts on picture books:

I still have a lot of work to do with my ideas — sorting, deleting, writing, thinking, deleting again, etc. I have to stay focused, because Julie Hedlund at Write Up My Life has a 12 x 12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge  — an effort to spur us on to write those ideas (or at least 12) into manuscripts. 

See I really need to read Ann Whitford Paul’s book! 

Thanks again to Tara Lazar for organizing the challenge. If you missed a post during the challenge or need another dose of inspiration, visit her blog Writing for Kids (While Raising Them). I’m so thankful I participated in the challenge this year. 

So, how did your November writing challenge go or just with your writing in general?