Monthly Archives: July 2013

An Honest Little Croc, the Marley Mambo and a Quadruple Win

The children were enthralled. Would Little Croc, in his determination to act with integrity, make it past mean Murdock? The cad wanted to steal the purse that Little Croc was turning in to the police station! And how about those lovely red boots–on special no less–and a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day? Surely he could borrow from the rightful owner . . . or could he? Then there was the panhandler . . . .

I loved reading this book to the children age five and up at our local day care. And perhaps they were as moved as I was near the end of the story when Little Croc gave Murdock his first present ever.

This story lends itself to dramatic reading, and the illustrations are a wonder. With just a few strokes, Lizzie Finlay portrays curiosity, pleasure, menace, effort–and the joy of a well made choice.

And then there was Bad Dog, Marley!, another story that kept the five and overs glued to their seats. Who but they could enjoy a dog drinking from the toilet, doing the Marley Mambo and creating an indoor snowstorm in the living room (think sofa cushions)?

As I explained to the director, I was volunteering to read at the day care to familiarize myself with children’s stories. The more I read published books and watched where the children lit up and where they began to fidget, I reasoned, the more my own writing would improve.

Good thinking. And about 20 seconds into volunteering, I realized the second benefit–pure pleasure.

And now the third benefit–I also hope to build my online presence by blogging about the books and by discussing them on my google+ profile.

Win-win-win-win! (The fourth one is for the kids, who really seem to enjoy the stories.)

“If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”
Rudyard Kipling

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Not the Royal Baby, But . . .

How cute is this?

Weebly sent me a message congratulating me on my new website:

“ . . . born at 8:50pm UTC on Wednesday, July 17, 2013. It weighs a healthy 2 pages and 16 elements. You must be very proud! We’re happy and excited for you.”

A review at promised “no learning curve,” and Weebly said I could build a site in the time it would take to make a pancake breakfast.

That would be a very special breakfast.

I worked at the site over several days, making phone calls to my son, Steven, and e-mailing the ever prompt, helpful and cheery Weebly support people. In fact, their last missile suggested ever so gently that I read and follow the directions. They even provided a link to the subject page—and it worked! I now have a website that I’m very happy with. Best of all, it’s online. (That’s where the read and follow the directions part came in.) And it’s free, except that I paid for the domain name and hosting.

So please—come for a visit! See how Steven laid out the pages, and read a couple of testimonials. I’m really pleased with them.

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Really? A Book for 47-year-olds?

Ah, yes, the Farmers’ Market . . .

Let me begin at the beginning, with a lovely e-mail from the manager inviting me to rent a table on July 6. Which I did, along with my husband, who was promoting his dried foods business, and our daughter, who sells fragrances and candles.

Things started out rather slowly, with the bulk of the traffic going to food (go figure!) and craft tables. I thought of starting this post with a quote from Thomas Edison:
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Instead, I started going around to other people’s tables. I chatted with them about their offerings, and if they indicated they had little ones in their lives, gave them a business card and sometimes showed them the little book dummy. (Just the first few pages and a couple of color pictures.)

That went well—I even got some free food from an ESL student who had been in our program way back when.

Various luminaries visited our table. The World’s Cutest Baby Girl and her entourage, for example. Said entourage not only signed up for Scissortown info, but also for my free e-book on early learning.
Shameless e-book plugs:
#1 (get attention with a question)—How much TV does the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend for the under-two set?
#2 I hope to have the e-book online soon. Watch this space.

And there was Nicole, a former student who had helped with the français for Scissortown. (And not just the written part. I called her and practiced reading “C’est un arbre” and “J’ai un chaton” before making the video. Yes, yes, I’ll remember not to whisper next time I make a video.)

A long-time businesswoman, and a lady whose granddaughter was intrigued with Katie Kat on the cover, as well as others helped to make it a good day . . .

Including the young woman selling spices whose face clouded over, as have so many other faces, when I’ve said, “a book for four- to seven-year-olds.”

“For 47-year-olds,” the owners of the dazed faces have mused. “So it’s for adults.”

Okay. Lesson learned. I will now say, “A book for children from four to seven years old.”

Shameless plug #3—We hope to be back at the Christmas market with books to sell.

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Igniting Interest with a Question

2013-05-22 ST Cover with blue text_1
Cover with Title with scissors no italics

Back to the garden party in the rain . . . I saw a poster in a grocery store about a garden party for artists and craftspeople. As I am neither, I e-mailed the host and asked if it would be a good venue to promote my book.

She answered with an enthusiastic yes, so I bought a plastic table and prepared a display of my published writing (magazine articles, and a business magazine I’d edited).

I also brought a little dummy of Scissortown, mostly with rough sketches (only two finished color pix).

I used the two proposed covers you see above as conversation starters.

Most of us like to give our opinion, and the friendly people at the garden party were no exception. After explaining the color scheme (Tina’s dress a pretty red, the kitty in orange and white, etc.), I asked folks which cover they preferred.

The results were fascinating. Most people had very little trouble making up their minds. Cover A is the one on top, with most of the tree showing, and Cover B is the close-up.

Here are some of the comments:
Cover A: “The whole picture is there.” (grandma of a three-year-old)
Cover B: “It looks more put together.” (photographer, young mother)
A: “It’s really compelling for a kids’ book.” (young dad)
B: “A takes the mystery out.” (mom of a young teen)
A: “It just grabs me better.” (grandpa)
B: “The cat in the tree is bigger.” (aunt of little kids)
A: “More detail.” (local artist, mural painter)
B: “My granddaughters like cats.” (grandma, great-grandma)
A: “I love the hair effect and the cat and the bigger tree.” (mom)
B: “Because there’s not so much clutter. Kids see straightforward.” (woodworker, shepherd)

Cover A won, just as it did in the Words in 3 Dimensions Conference in Edmonton in May. But the artist types at the garden party were more evenly divided than the writer/editor types in Edmonton. Most of the people at the conference voted for A.

So that was the lesson from both the conference and the garden party: ask for people’s opinion with an honest desire to know what they think, document the reasons for their choice, and then ask them if they’d like to be notified when the book is published.

The garden party led to the Farmers’ Market invite, which I’ll tell you about in my next post.

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The people of Scissortown were neat and tidy. In fact, they were the neatest and tidiest people to be found anywhere.

“What are we doing today?” asked the barber.

“Take three centimetres off, please,” answered Tommy.

The children of Scissortown cut out neat pictures of trees, birds and animals and pasted them into their notebooks.

Then they wrote sentences under the pictures with their nice sharp pencils. “C’est un arbre,” wrote Tommy under the tree, because he was learning French.

“J’ai un chaton,” wrote Tina under the kitten, because she was learning French too.

“What do you think?” asked the dressmaker. “Is Tina going to like this?”

“Mew!” answered Katie Kat politely. She was MUCH too busy playing to look up.

“This one’s for Tina,” said Tommy’s mom as she snipped the first bow on a dragonfly kite.

“Hold still!” laughed the gardener as he trimmed the baby giraffe’s ears.

Everyone in Scissortown was happy cutting and chopping until one day  . . .


 ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Welcome to Scissortown, my first book for children, and my blog.

The dream of writing for children started in earnest sometime last year. I’ve had magazine articles published and edited a couple of non-fiction books, but there was something about my grandchildren’s request for stories that got me thinking.

Tina’s mom used to work nights, and although Tina enjoyed the bedtime stories I read to her, what she really wanted were “fake stories” that we made up together.

And not just at night—there was the morning her school bus came and went while she and I sat in the warm car, weaving a story about a bug hotel!

Even as a very little boy Tommy could listen for an hour while I read to him—but now he calls me and wants a made-up story on the spot.

And so my grandchildren have stretched my imagination . . . and I hope to share the results with many more children.

I hope to learn from other writers and aspiring writers about both crafting stories and marketing them. And I trust that I’ll have something useful to share with you as well.

Tomorrow, for example, I’m off to the Farmers’ Market to promote Scissortown. The invitation to the Market came as a result of a neighbourhood garden party in the rain . . . but that’s for another post.

Please come along—join me in the journey!

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