Summer Morning Drive

Happy Friday!

I’m not really posting today.

It seems that most of blogging world is on blogcation – partially or completely.  I can’t quite bring myself to go on total blogcation… I would miss you guys too much 🙂  But I am going to take some random days off between now and the end of summer.  Never Wednesdays – Would You Read It will appear as scheduled every Wednesday – but the occasional Monday and/or Friday.  I feel quite sure you guys can use a break from me 🙂

So today, all I have to share is this:

Isn’t he cute?  He was trotting down the road near my house.  (And no!  I was certainly not driving and taking pictures at the same time!  I drove.  My daughter took the picture.  Which you would have realized if you’d thought about it for a second… it would have been way more crooked and blurry if I was multitasking :))

Maybe he will inspire a story for someone.  Or, if you guys would like to share something unusual you saw while driving, maybe one of your sightings will inspire a story for someone!  Remember the giant picnic basket I saw in Ohio?

Please share unusual sightings!  I love stuff like that 🙂

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!

A Special Short And Sweet With Ryan Sias!

Good Morning, Everyone!

I’m sure you’ll all be glad to know that despite my advanced age I’m still able to type 🙂

Thank you so much for all the lovely birthday wishes and cards and special pictures and banners… ooh, in case you didn’t see the banner I’ll put it here!

isn’t this awesome? it even has Phyllis! with chocolate!
banner created by the amazing and talented Julie Rowan-Zoch

Oh!  And a coffee mug warmer from one very astute and thoughtful blog reader (thank you Caroline! :))  I am so lucky to have so many wonderful friends.  You are all so incredibly nice, and you made my birthday very special! 🙂

And now, I have something special for you!

Fun creativity projects for kids!  Click HERE

Ryan Sias

Rian Sias, who has worked in animation for 20 years and is the talented author/illustrator of Go Greenie! Are You Eating Something Red?, Balloon Toons: Zoe And Robot, Let’s Pretend, and Go Greenie! Are You Eating Something Green? (36 Color-And-Learn Placemats) has started a new venture for kids which I think parents and teachers will enjoy knowing about!

Ryan says, “I wanted to let you know about a fun, art education email program I have created called Siasstudios.com.

I love drawing with kids and letting them finish my drawings.  They come up with wild and crazy ideas which make me laugh.  So I started this for all my nieces and nephews who live in other cities, and now have opened it up to the world!

Here’s an example of one of Ryan’s free art projects

My goal with Sias Studios is to foster creative development in children by giving them 100% free weekly art projects that engage their creativity.  The projects have imaginative coloring pages, zany story prompts, unique drawing lessons, and wacky characters.  All of my material is silly and fun, which I believe creates positive art experiences.”

And here is how one child finished it!

You can subscribe to this free, weekly creativity prompt by going HERE.  Sign up and then sit back and let the fun projects roll in!  Sias Studios activities are recommended for ages 4-11, or anyone who wants to have fun 🙂  Here are a few more examples:

Here is another project…

And here is one child’s interpretation 🙂

Here’s a link to a whole page of waffle fun CLICK HERE!
And here is a fun drawing lesson:)
I hope you’ll all take a moment to check out Ryan’s offerings and pass the word along to friends, family, your children’s teachers… anyone you think might be interested!  Ryan has a great sense of what appeals to young artists and his drawings and activities are always fun!
And now, for today’s Short & Sweet, one of Ryan’s prompts!
badge created by the lovely and talented Loni Edwards

Take a look at that fierce viking aboard his dragon boat and write the first sentence (or 3 :)) of a story in the comment section below!
Here’s my example:) 
“Faster! Faster!” cried Shigvid, doing a small jig of rage on his ship’s bow.  “Brunhilda cannot get away with this!”
I hope you’ll all get a chance to hop over to Ryan’s place, and I hope you’ll enjoy the prompt!  I look forward to reading your story openings!  And thank you all again for all the lovely birthday presents and wishes – you are the best! 🙂

Monday Short & Sweet AND The In Just Spring Contest Announcement!

Happy Monday of the last week of February, everyone!

I admit it.  With March only days away, I’ve got spring on the brain… even though it’s currently snowing 🙂  I know it’s a little nuts because around here we don’t really get anything like spring ’til about the third week of April, but March is so hopeful, teasing you into thinking that spring is just around the corner, that I can’t seem to help myself 🙂

And in the spirit of turning the house upside down with spring cleaning… or something… I’m going to do everything backwards today.  I’m going to announce the contest first and put the Short & Sweet second.  I know.  The mind reels at this crazy rule-bending rearranging of the norm.  I’m such a rebel 🙂

First, as inspiration for both the contest and today’s Short & Sweet, I will share one of my favorite poems.

in Just-
by: e.e. cummings (1894-1962)

N Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
 
whistles far and wee
 
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring
 
when the world is puddle-wonderful
 
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
 
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
 
it’s
spring
and
the
 
goat-footed
 
balloonMan whistles
far
and
wee


“in just” was originally published in The Dial Volume LXVIII, Number 5 (May 1920). New York: The Dial Publishing Company, Inc.


Isn’t that wonderful?  I love the idea of “eddieandbill… running from marbles and piracies”, “bettyandisabel…dancing from hopscotch and jump-rope” and who can resist words like “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful”?

So now that you’re in the mood…

 Announcing The In Just Spring Contest!

The Contest:  Write a children’s story, in poetry or prosemaximum 350 words (see how nice I’m being giving you two long word counts in a row for contests?! :))


The story must be about something that really says “SPRING” to you – something that really makes you feel that spring is here!  It can be nature oriented – the robins or geese returning, eggs hatching, flowers blooming, baby animals being born, bears waking up, sunshine or rain, etc.  It can be holiday oriented – St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, April Fools’ Day etc.  It can be school oriented – the spring pageant, spring vacation, the spring talent show.  It can be activity oriented – picnics, bike riding, baseball – anything at all that makes you think spring.

The only other requirement is that the last line must be “[Character Name] knew Spring was really here!” or “[Character Name] knew Spring was here at last!”  (You can also write in first person if you want – e.g. I knew Spring was really here…. and present tense is fine too.)  I’ve given the rhymers amongst you a choice… but if you can’t make either option work with your rhyme scheme you have permission to tweak it slightly as long as the essential meaning stays the same.

Post:  Your entry should be posted on your blog between Friday March 15 at 12:01 AM EST and Monday March 18 at 11:59 PM EST, and your post-specific link should be added to the link list on the official In Just Spring Contest post which will go up on my blog on Friday March 15 (no PPBF that day!) and remain up through Tuesday March 19 (no new post on Monday March 18).  If you don’t have a blog but would like to enter, please copy and paste your entry into the comments on my March 15th post.  (If anyone has trouble commenting, which unfortunately happens, please email me and I’ll post your entry for you!)

The Judge:  My lovely assistant and I will narrow down the entrants to five (or possibly a couple more :)) finalists which will be posted here on Wednesday March 20 (no WYRI that day) for you to vote on for a winner.  The vote will be closed at midnight March 23 and the winner will be announced on Monday March 25.

The Prizes!:  I’m still working on the prize(s).  I’m hoping to have something knock-your-socks-off great to offer… but we’ll see.  Stay tuned 🙂
badge created by the talented Loni Edwards

Now, after all that excitement, for our Short & Sweet today, let’s close our eyes and roll back the years until we’re 5 (or 3 or 7 or 9 – anything under 10 :)).

Now let’s remember that feeling, that first inkling, that Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter has arrived.  What are the tiny details, the little moments, you think of?  The things that are representative of that season to you?
Now, let’s turn those tiny details and little moments into lines – things kids can do – in the style of “eddieandbill come running from marbles and piracies”.  You can share just one for the season of your choosing, or you can share for 2, 3, or all of the seasons if you really want to stretch those writing muscles!  (Or if you’re in a spring-obsessed mood, you can post 4 or 12 or 20 all about spring :))
Here are my examples:
Spring:  annieandjane come soaring, hair streaming, higher and higher into the greengold air
Summer: maddieandmike run laughing from the white-foamed waves that tickle their bare feet
Autumn: harryandgrant come creeping under skeleton trees toward the warm jack-o-lantern light
Winter: johnnyandjade come stomping in snowy boots and wooly mittens for a carrot nose and a licorice smile
This exercise may actually help you get started on your contest story idea!  Who knows?! 🙂
Have a great day, everyone, writing, reading, parenting, teaching, and otherwise! 🙂

Monday Short & Sweet – Winter Is (Not) Coming :)

Happy Monday, Everyone!

badge created by Loni Edwards

I’m not going to beat around the bush.

I’m just going to come right out and say it.

Okay?

Okay.

Here it is:

I saw a completely black woolly bear.

I am not kidding.

Now, I know all about woolly bear folklore… the whole 13 segments, one for each week of winter (OK, well, that’s just hogwash – around here we definitely have more than 13 weeks of winter!), and how a lot of black at the front means early winter will be harsh, and a lot of black toward the hindquarters means the end of winter will be harsh (and if you don’t know which end is which, well, you’re just going to have to figure that one out on your own :)), and generally you want a nice wide band of brown because the brown means mild.
Pyrrharctia isabella 001So I’m thinking an all black woolly bear is either a true pessimist, or is having a Halloween trick on us a bit late (or just hasn’t changed out of his Dementor costume yet), or really likes dark chocolate and is campaigning for world wide recognition of a National Dark Chocolate Rules Day.

I think I’d like to vote for number 3 🙂

But I do not think it is a harbinger of a serious, cold, snow-filled winter, because unlike our friend the black woolly bear, I am not a pessimist 🙂

(I also really like the word harbinger… it’s fun to say!  But I digress…)

Now that I’ve come up with a very clever way to sneak in a picture of a woolly bear because I think they’re really cute AND we’re all on the same page about how we will most certainly not be having a Little House In The Big Woods type of winter, let’s warm up with something Short & Sweet, shall we?

Remember (because it’s been a couple weeks and you might have forgotten) – Short & Sweets are meant to be fun and quick.  No agonizing!  Just write!

Okay, ready?

First…

Pick a holiday, any holiday.

Of course Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, National Deviled Eggs Day (no I did NOT make that up – it’s November 2 – you can check!), Kwanzaa, Make Your Own Head Day (November 28th if you’ve never celebrated before) etc. are clearly foremost in our minds right now, but I hope some of you free spirits will dance to your own tune and pick National Gum Drop Day (February 15) or Easter or Look Up At The Sky Day (April 14), or maybe Sidewalk Egg Frying Day (the lesser know July 4th holiday) or Ear Muff Day (March 13) 🙂

Okay.

Got your holiday?

Write down the name of your holiday.

Now, write down
 – something you see on that holiday
 – something you smell on that holiday
 – something you hear on that holiday
 – something you taste on that holiday
 – something you touch on that holiday

Then write down the name of the holiday one last time.

Guess what?

You just wrote a holiday poem!

And maybe it will be even more than that and give you a great idea for a story!  (Or at least your PiBoIdMo idea for the day if you’re participating in that festival of inspiration and frivolity as I most certainly am!)

I’ll give you an example.  Remember… short… sweet… off the top of our heads here (because let’s be honest – I used up most of my available time rambling on about woolly bears :))

Christmas
Delicate ribbons of tinsel shimmering silver and gold
Spicy pine breathing the outside in
Joy To The World singing clear to a starry sky
Bright peppermint, cool and sweet, and
Peace On Earth warming every heart
Christmas

So, are you ready?  Get set…  WRITE!!!

Please share your holiday poem in the comments so we can all admire them and become inspired for a whole week of great writing!

Also, if you have a word you love to say (like harbinger, or maybe Terpsichore or multitudinous, please share that as well! :))

I can’t wait to read your Holiday poems!  I hope someone picks Race Your Mouse Day (May 28th)!

(P.S. I will announce the winner of the October Pitch Pick on Wednesday during Would You Read It!)

Monday Short & Sweet

I feel like a flibbertygibbet.

I don’t know exactly what that is (or how to spell it :)) – something the nuns called Maria in The Sound Of Music 🙂 – but that’s what I feel like!

So today’s Short & Sweet is going to be very short and sweet because I have a school visit and 47 million things to get done before I go (no, I am not exaggerating! :))

badge created by Loni Edwards

Pick one (or all if you’re feeling ambitious :)) of the following actual openings of actual books (well, I changed some names) and write  3-5 sentences of your own story starting with that opening, AND/OR a brief synopsis of what your story would be about.  (I’m not telling you what books they’re from because if you knew that might bias the direction of your story or, worse, limit you!)

1. “Ouch!” said Princes Amelia as she stabbed herself with the needle.

2. One day four big chickens peeked out the coop window and saw a wolf sneak into the farmyard.

3. Violet was a little white cat with bright green eyes.

4. “There she is!” Mandy whispered excitedly.  “She’s coming back!”

5. Rocky and Blossom lived in a meadow on the mountain.

6. In the moon of the raspberries in a long time ago a baby sleeps, dreaming.

7. Cyrus Squirrel stood at the edge of the forest and cried.

Example: first 3-5 sentences starting with #7:

Cyrus Squirrel stood at the edge of the forest and cried.
His fur was wet.
His paws were cold.
He was hungry.
He was lost.
But worst of all, his brother Stewie and tricked him again!

Example: synopsis starting with #1:

“Ouch!” said Princess Amelia as she stabbed herself with the needle.
Synopsis: Princess Emmeline from the neighboring kingdom is coming to visit and Princess Amelia wants to impress her.  But Princess Amelia is not good at sewing.  She is not good at dancing.  Her table manners make the dogs look like royalty.  And no matter how hard she tries, her hair always seems to be messy and her gown always seems to have dirt on it.  How will she get Princess Emmeline to like her?

I hope you’ll have fun with this!  Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Happy writing 🙂