Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

 ~Sylvia Plath

The Magic of Writing for Children

  I just signed up for my second writing class with the wonderful Peggy King Anderson, The Magic of Writing for Children (Intermediate/Advanced)!  Taking this class last spring was the single greatest step forward I took with my writing.  Before Peggy's class I hadn't let a single soul read my stories- it was such a solitary process and I was terrified to share something so personal and close to my heart.  The first time someone else reads your story aloud to a class full of critiquing students is beyond nerve-racking. Let's be honest, everytime is nerve-racking!  Even as my heart beats overtime and I find myself holding my breath listening as another voice recites the words I know by heart, when it is all over I experience such an amazing sense of liberation.  Writing is so much better when it is a shared, communal adventure embarked upon together with those who support, encourage and inspire you and your work.  Peggy's class truly is a joy and her warm, enthusiastic, nurturing demeanor makes writing for children absolutely magical!
Check out her blog http://soundfrommyheart.blogspot.com/and website www.peggyking.com
  We had such a fantastic group of students last time around, I hope to see you and all your stories again this fall!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

  "You become.  It takes a long time.  That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.  But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand." 
~The Velveteen Rabbit

Beloved Books

  Thinking back on the books of my childhood, I remember this particular one, The Teddy Bears' Picnic, as my absolute favorite picture book.  I remember being completely spellbound by the idea of children dressing up in bear costumes and frolicking in the forest for a day.  I loved every detail of each illustration, I loved the text that was also a song, I loved the wonderfully whimsical, magical tone of the story.  
  I'm curious to know which picture books were favorites for others growing up, which ones evoke distinct memories, which ones still touch your heart...?

p.s. Anyone else remember Jenny Linsky?  She was another favorite of mine..   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

  Me and my roommate, Kahly, who encouraged me to start blogging!  It is her dog Lexie, (well she adopted/dognapped sweet Lexie from her sister) who was the inspiration for my story Pixie: The Min Pin Pillow Princess.  More on that story coming soon... :)

"Happiness is
a climbing tree."

~Charles M. Schulz

Armchair Memories

  When my sister, cousins and I were very young, before bedtime at Grandma's house, my Grandpa, who we call Papa, would sit us on his lap in his big, cozy armchair and read stories to us from this old book.  The book was so loved by us and our parents before us that the pages were clearly worn and falling out from so many readings.  I have the fondest memories of those times in Papa's chair, and I can still hear his rich, deep voice bringing the stories to life. 
  Our favorite story was one called "Quack!" Said Jerusha which tells the tale of a little duck's charming adventures as she grows up and soon has ducklings of her own.  Seeing those illustrations again reminds me of how vividly the images captivated me as a child.  I am beginning to realize now that some of my most favorite memories from childhood are those in which the people I loved read to me.  It truly is the best way to instill a beautiful sense of wonder and imagination, spark creativity, open hearts and minds, and broaden horizons to the vast possibilities around us.  Thanks to all the storytellers!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sing a Song of Washington

  An excerpt from my prose poem of Washington's designated state symbols, such as our state bird...

This is the state, the Evergreen State.
Where the rhythm of the rain beats steady and pure.
Wild wonders abound, from mountains to Sound,
Come along, Washington awaits!

This is the goldfinch, the Willow Goldfinch.
How sweet is his song as he warbles with joy.
Bright yellow in summer, like a lemon with wings,
Feathers aflutter in a waterfall bath. 

This is the frog, the Pacific Chorus Frog.
His throat bubble swells with each croaking love spell.
A small speckled body and blackened eye stripe,
Create a frog in camouflage on damp forest floor.
This is the dragonfly, the Green Darner Dragonfly.
Glistening emerald in soft sunlight streams.
With darts and flits, quick, quick, slow,
She dances a waltz with petaled partners aplenty.
This is the marmot, the Olympic Marmot.
Calling to friends with a whistling trill.
On hind legs he keeps watch, senses always alert,
Til it's time to burrow down for a long winter's sleep.
This is the trout, the Steelhead Trout.
Born to the river, flowing fast and fresh.
The great open ocean summons him onward,
A silvery silhouette in the sea.
This is the whale, the Orca Whale.
Mighty and majestic she breaches the waves.
Her pod rolls along with the rhythm of the deep,
Black dorsal fins setting sail on the horizon.
This is our state, Washington state.
Our motto is "Alki," a symbol of hope for tomorrow by and by.
Hope for our forests and fields, our meadows and mountains,
To be an evergreen home evermore.


Monday, August 16, 2010

"Be glad of life because it gives you a chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars." 
~Henry van Dyke

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A year ago at this time I was here, Villefranche, France on the cote d'azur of the French Riviera..

I rented a flat in a tiny medieval hilltop village called Haut de Cagnes, in between Nice and Antibes, and stayed for three weeks, often visiting this lovely seaside town of Villefranche. I meant to go and spend time writing stories, and I did fill an entire journal, only it was all about my everyday experiences and not once did I work on my children's stories! That's how writing goes sometimes, even with the best of intentions you can get sidetracked.  Sometimes, though, it turns out the sidetrack is the right track- who knows, maybe that journal will be a novel one day!

Every Time I Share My Love

Here is a little story I wrote for children about examples of love in our everyday lives...

Every Time I Share My Love
  Every time I share my love, my heart grows bigger. And when my heart grows bigger, I am filled with happiness from the top of my head way down to my toes. It tickles and tingles and delights my soul.
I share my love with my mommy and daddy by giving snuggles, and hugs, and plenty of kisses. I share my love with my brother and sister when we play and laugh and cooperate cheerfully together. Every time I help out around the house, even when no one asks me to, I am sharing my love with my family.

When I gently pet my doggy and scratch his belly, I am showing him how much I love him. When I share my favorite toys or crayons or books at school, I am spreading love around for my friends and classmates to enjoy.

Every time I recycle, or plant a tree, or turn off the water when I’m brushing my teeth, I am sharing my love for Mother Earth. Whenever I lend a helping hand to someone in need, I am sharing my love with humankind. Even when I share just a friendly smile or give my compassion, my respect and my kindness to others, big and small, I am giving love to the world.

Love is the greatest gift one can give and receive. It is more precious than gold or silver or even diamonds. The most amazing thing is that when you share your love, you get more love back in return. The more love you give away, the more love will grow and grow, until one day it just might envelope the whole world!

Every time I share my love, my heart grows bigger. And when my heart grows bigger, I am filled with happiness from the top of my head way down to my toes. It tickles and tingles and delights my soul. Share your love everyday in every way you can and see for yourself!
“Hope is the thing with feathers That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,”
~Emily Dickinson

Treasured Tales

  Reading Peter Rabbit with Nellie this morning made me remember how much I loved the world of Beatrix Potter as a child.  I adored Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, Mr Jeremy Fisher, Jemima Puddle Duck, Squirrel Nutkin (such wonderful animal names :) and of course Peter, but for some reason it was the little mouse Hunca Munca that captivated me the most.  In The Tale of Two Bad Mice Tom Thumb and Hunca Munca discover a doll's house and cause quite a ruckus attempting to eat the food and steal the furniture, not realizing that it's all made of plastic.  I remember being so delighted by this story as a child, probably because I had a doll house of my own and thought how funny it would be to have such visitors.  I love how great characters are ageless and can be appreciated and beloved by new generations.

My Victorian dollhouse, built by my Dad and Papa, decorated by Mom and Grandma, enjoyed endlessly by me throughout my childhood 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

“Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve.” 
~J. K. Rowling

Nellie P. Bean

Here is Penelope Jane, (also known as Nellie, Nellie P., Bean, Bugadoodle, etc) the wonderful 3 year old girl I have been lucky enough to nanny for since she was 5 months old!  She is absolutely the reason I rediscovered my passion and love of writing and has provided endless inspiration throughout my time with her.  Love u Beanaloo!

This is a bedtime poem I wrote when Nellie was a baby...

Lullaby Bunny

Goodnight little bunny, goodnight little one.

Rest your head and your eyes, the long day is done.

The blanket of night has spread over the sky,

And now mama will sing you a soft lullaby.

Off to dreamland we’ll drift, in a boat built for two,

Where winds whisper your wishes, so all can come true.

Goodnight little bunny, goodnight little one.

Hush-a-by my sweet love, the long day is done.

Lay your head close to mine and your dreams I will keep,

And tend to them lovingly like flocks of sheep.

Feel our hearts beat as one, as I sing you this song,

Swaddled up in my arms where you’ll always belong.

Come in close and we’ll cuddle and snuggle together,

And mama will love you forever and ever.
  With summer winding down I began feeling a little nostalgic today, and thought about what summer read I really remember enjoying as a kid.  I grew up loving the entire American Girl doll collection (Samantha was always my favorite), but the hands-down best story for me was totally Molly Saves the Day.  Something about the combination of girl power, competition and summer camp made me wish that I could have been Molly for a day!  Maybe I'll go to my parents house, dig that book out of my old closet and remember the greatest of all feelings as a kid~ sweet summer freedom...

make a wish...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Open your eyes to the beauty around you, open your mind to the wonders of life, open your heart to those who love you, and always be true to yourself." 
~Donna Davis
Villa Cimbrone
visited in Gatto's Song
Here is the sweeping view from the Ravello restaurant, Il Ristorante Garden, where I found Gatto.

Buon giorno Gatto!

I came across this cat in a restaurant in Ravello, Italy on a family vacation in 2006.  His bright blue eyes mirrored the Mediterranean sea in such a mesmerizing way that the idea of this beautiful Italian cat stayed with me long after the trip.  He is the inspiration for my picture book (I am hoping to one day publish :) entitled Gatto's Song.  Here is the opening teaser...

  Faraway across the sea, up the winding green hills and past the lemon trees, perched high atop the Amalfi coast, is the town of Ravello. And in the town of Ravello, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea is the windowsill where Gatto sings each night.
  Gatto is one of the only singing cats in Italy. He sings for the morsels of fresh fish, the flowers, and the warm applause that adoring guests shower him with after each performance. Most of all, though, he sings for his mother.
  Gatto does not remember much of his mother because they were separated when he was just a young kitten. Italian streets and back alleyways can be cruel at times to stray cats. But, he has never forgotten the lullabies and beautiful opera songs she used to sing to him before bedtime. She would tell him enchanting stories about her time performing with a traveling circus. She could make anything seem glamorous, especially when she sang.
  He sings each night with the hope that somewhere, somehow his mother is listening and one day she will find him.
“To Live would be an awfully big adventure.”  
~Peter Pan


  Remember that warm feeling you had as a child whenever your parents read to you? How the pictures of your favorite book fascinated you everytime you saw them? Or the way the pages smelled, well-worn with loving, tender fingers?  I remember being captivated by the sweet magic of The Teddy Bear's Picnic, the intricate illustrations of Graeme Base's Animalia, and the gentle loveliness of Elsa Beskow's Children of the Forest and Margaret Wise Brown's Little Fur Family.  Even as a young child my mother would read chapter books to me and my sister.  We'd curl up all together and unfold the mysteries of The Secret Garden, or have wild adventures on the prairie with Laura Ingalls Wilder in On the Banks of Plum Creek. All of these stories instilled in me a lasting sense of wonder and a love of writing for children. My blog is dedicated to sharing stories, imagination, inspiration, and always keeping a pocketful of sweet dreams near to your heart, so warm childlike wonder can always be reawakened.

“If you want to remain always happy, always perfect and always fulfilled, then always keep inside your heart a pocketful of sweet dreams.” 
~Sri Chinmoy