Put a Wocket in Your Pocket This Week!

Put a Wocket in Your Pocket This Week!

in Honor of Dr. Seuss

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Wow! Talk about words to live by!

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Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904-1991)

Theodor Seuss Geisel was quite a man who lived quite a life. He was born on March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts. It was later suspected that many of his characters and book settings were based upon people and places in his childhood hometown.

Ted attended Dartmouth College then later Oxford University. He quickly found that academic studies were not for him and left school to pursue a career as a cartoonist, mainly in advertising.

His big break came when he was asked to write and illustrate AND TO THINK THAT I SAW IT ON MULBERRY STREET. He enjoyed the writing and illustrating process but the publishing world was not as kind. His first picture book was rejected 27 times before being published by Vanguard Press in 1937.

It seems that even the famous Dr. Seuss traveled the familiar path of many writers. Thankfully, he never gave up. He persevered and went on to publish over 44 children’s books, was the source for 11 television specials, a Broadway musical and feature length motion picture with

apparently more to come!

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Dr. Seuss has been part of my life since I was very young. We didn’t have much money for toys and games but I do remember lots of Dr. Seuss books strewn about, looking dog-eared and well loved.

I specifically remember my mom reading ONE FISH TWO FISH RED FISH BLUE FISH to my brother and I.

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http://www.seussville.com/books/book_detail.php?isbn=9780394800134

It was a book that brought joy and laughter to our house. My favorite Seuss book was MY BOOK ABOUT ME. It is a book that you can write in and fill in the blanks about personal details about you and your life. If you look at my Bio Page, you will find my actual BOOK ABOUT ME with my answers circled, filled in and drawn. Fortunately, this book is still available at:

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http://www.seussville.com/books/book_detail.php?isbn=9780394800936

As a mom of four kids, Dr. Seuss books were the first set of books I bought from one of those book clubs, when I found out I was pregnant with our oldest daughter. I still have them and they will have another life with my grandchildren someday.

We made and ate Green Eggs and Ham, we counted apples up on top, we made Cat in the Hat hats…I am a former kindergarten teacher so the projects I had done with my kiddos when I was teaching became part of our routine…one big craft project!

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http://www.seussville.com/books/book_detail.php?isbn=9780679805274

When my oldest daughter graduated from high school last fall, I gave her OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! and asked everyone at her graduation party to sign it. She loved it!

Dr. Seuss passed away in 1991 but his legacy lives on through his brilliant works for children. To celebrate his memory, across the nation…

Next Sunday, March 2, 2014 is declared as Dr. Seuss Day.

In honor of this wonderful writer, poet and cartoonist let’s celebrate in style!

I am going to pull out all my Dr. Seuss books and read them out loud to myself.

I am going to make green eggs and ham for my teenagers because I can!

I am going to PUT A WOCKET IN MY POCKET and walk around with it there all week.

I challenge you!

What are you going to do to celebrate Dr. Seuss Day?

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Thank you Dr. Seuss!!!

I highly recommend this biography written by Tanya Dean titled THEODOR GEISEL (DR. SEUSS)

image http://www.alibris.com/Theodor-Geisel-Dr-Seuss-Tanya-Dean/book/12091200

Resources:

http://www.seussville.com/#/home

http://www.catinthehat.org/history.htm

Don’t Stick Your Head in the Snow!

Don't Stick Your Head in the Snow!

Don’t Stick Your Head in the Snow!

We are 30 days and 18 hours away from Spring.  I sit here

with my hot, Chai tea and fuzzy socks on my toes, trying to

find something positive to say about the weather.  I live in

Southern Indiana and we

have been very fortunate

imagecompared to some areas of the

country, with the snow and ice. 

None-the-less, I am ready for the

spring thaw! 

My hand is up! Is yours?

Okay… I figure we can embrace the next 30 days

or we can slip and slide along, kicking and screaming as we

fall on our  blankety-blanks. I recommend the less

painful path of embracing winter and all it has to offer!

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    So…slip on your big boy boots, pull on your

   most dashing sock hat, fling that scarf and let’s 

   go write about the snow!

As a writer, I am always looking for motivation, inspiration and sometimes in desperation, I find revelation!

Let’s think of all the positive effects that winter can have on our writing:

Sit by a fire and write heartwarming poems.

Snuggle down and hibernate with your thoughts.

Find more time to read on a quiet, snow day.

Take a leisurely walk on a snowy morning for inspiration.

Watch how birds and squirrels scramble and hustle for food.

Spend time with your kids…that is always an opportunity for humor and precious moments.

Brainstorm all the “winter words” that could be used in a title for your next book.

Imagine all the silly ways the snow could be melted.

Write about “What if the snow never stops?”

Imagine what snowmen say to each other.

Write about how snow women feel left out of the fun.

Make pink-lemonade snow ice cream!

Here’s the link:

http://themamamama.com/pink-lemonade-snow-ice-cream/

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So…Don’t stick your head in the snow and give up! Make

pink lemonade snow ice cream out of the next blizzard

coming your way.  Remember to embrace your surroundings

and wear fleece…spring is only 30 days away.

Don't Stick Your Head in the Snow!

Don’t Stick Your Head in the Snow!

Happy Writing!

The Writer Olympics

The Writer Olympics

Writers~Agents~Editors~Illustrators~Readers


torch and olympic rings

While watching today’s Olympic events I found it heartwarming that many Olympians express sincere happiness when athletes from other countries win medals. The spirit of good will and sportsmanship is thriving as competitors cheer on those of other nationalities, ethnicities and cultures. Thus, the Olympic Spirit lives on in Sochi.

I began researching the symbolism of the Olympic rings and the significance of them intertwining on a flag of white.

Designed in 1912 by Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, each ring represents a different continent and the rings are interlocking to symbolize the intention for all nations to come together and compete in unity.

I fondly thought of the writers, illustrators, agents, editors and readers that have helped me along the way…cheered me on through my journey of becoming an author.

 Olympic Rings

 

Thus, in honor of the Olympic spirit…

I liken the Olympic rings to five interlocking stages of creating a children’s book and the white flag to the blank page, open to the possibilities.

 

Writers~Agents~Editors~Illustrators~Readers

 

 

Writers  AKA Auth-letes

As writers, we began our journey because we are drawn to this sport. We have a passion for it…it is our bliss…it is our life. That may sound dramatic but it is why we do what we do or we would certainly do something less challenging. I suppose that is the way it is for Olympic athletes.

Our Training:

We study our craft, take classes, go to conferences, attend workshops, watch webinars, join critique groups and seek out other writers to network and share good news and bad.

On an average of 12 years later…we might get published.

That’s a lot of training for no guarantee of success. Years of manuscripts written, critiqued, edited, submitted, rejected and filed.  It’s the same for an Olympic athlete.

Yet, we continue to pound it out. We continue to train for our Olympic experience. Fortunately, unlike the athletes, aging of mind and body is not as much of a defining factor to our success. We can begin training at age 40 and compete for many years to follow…

Once the finished product is polished and glowing, the writer passes the torch on to the agent.

 

Agents

An agent is like the trainer for a writer.  Once you are accepted as an Olympian, you are paired with a trainer who guides you through the process of becoming a successful athlete. As a writer, our agent is the person who looks out for our best interest, opens doors that are locked to others and tells us what we need to hear. The agent is the person who helps to match our skills and talents with a coach/editor who can take our gift and mold it into brilliance. The agent has keys to doors that are locked to those unrepresented and has relationships with editors that allow a manuscript to be read and adored. Once this match is made the agent passes the torch on to the editor.

 

 

Editors

The editor is the coach who can make dreams come true. You have been chosen based on performance, skills, creativity and your writing ability. The editor has seen something shine in your work that qualifies you to the next round of Olympic competition. He or she knows what is required to create an outstanding product with an outstanding team of writer, agent, editor and illustrator. The editor is the cheerleader for your book at the publishing house where there are many others involved in the process of deciding the fate of a shining book. When the text is perfect, the editor passes the torch on to the illustrator.

 

 

Illustrators

The illustrator is the choreographer of sorts.  The words on the page are brought to life by the colors, characters and storytelling of the illustrations. The story becomes visual, a work of art in a book for children to enjoy. The collaboration between the editor and the illustrator are vital to the success of the project. As the choreographer, the entire project relies on the planning, uniqueness and surprises that await the reader. While time consuming, this part of the Olympic experience is what gives the moment of reward it’s face…the book is now recognizable. With that comes fame, excitement and also public scrutiny. The illustrator polishes the torch and together with the editor, agent and writer, the torch is jointly passed on to the reader for the next leg of the journey.

 

 

The Reader

The reader is the final ring of the Olympic symbol. The book may be well written, promoted, edited and illustrated but if the reader is not a fan…failure will soon follow. For Olympic athletes, the judges are the ultimate critique. Their entire career relies on an outstanding performance and great scores from the judges.  So this is based on ability and also subjective opinion by professionals in that sport. Not unlike readers who are the ultimate judges of the success of a book. A reader will immediately know if the book is worthy of Olympic fanfare and if it was written by someone dedicated to being the best possible authlete!  A reader will fall in love with a gold medal book and will select it for reading over and over again.

 

The Awards Ceremony

The National Anthem of your country is playing in the background.

You are standing on the podium, handed a bouquet of flowers and a medal is placed around your neck…

And finally you are handed a copy of your book with your very own name on the cover…tears, cheering, autographs…

The rewards that follow: a paycheck, royalties, book signings, blog hops, public speaking engagements, conference faculty opportunities, school appearances and many, many awards given to the Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists in our field.  We celebrate the years of dedication and sacrifice and professional experience.  

Yet, a children’s writer finds the ultimate reward in the joy that his or her book brings to a child. That is why we do what we do.

 

The Olympics Closing Ceremonies for Writers

Writers are able to attend and participate in the “Writing Olympics Closing Ceremonies” twice a year. The SCBWI Winter and Summer Conferences allow writers from all over the world to join together and celebrate what we do. There is camaraderie, education, social time and awards given to the best and the brightest in children’s books. 

 

Winter Logo 

 

The Annual Winter Conference, February 21-23 in New York, NY

The Annual Summer Conference, August 1-4 in Los Angeles, CA

 

Here is the link for more information.

https://www.scbwi.org/events/15th-annual-scbwi-winter-conference-in-new-york/

If you are not a member of SCBWI you should join today! This professional organization supports and promotes children’s authors and illustrators all over the world. 

http://www.scbwi.org/

 

Olympic Rings

 

Who is Willy S.?

Who is Willy S.?

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When I think about William Shakespeare I fondly remember attending a rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream when I was in high school. I remember dreading the performance but left the theater with a surprising respect for the famous playwright.  Honestly, I can say that I didn’t understand everything that was said, as the language was so foreign to me, but I do remember the humor and it was very funny.

There were four Athenians: Hermia, Lysander, Helena and Demetrius. It was quite a love fest that left Hermia with two suitors and Helena with none. What a hook! It involved magic potions, fairies, lies and deceit. The play was quite the makings of a modern day “Housewives” show.

I’m fortunate to live in Evansville, Indiana, a college town with two Universities who support the arts in education and community. The University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville are both known and respected for their drama departments.

USI is affiliated with several theaters in New Harmony, Indiana where I later saw Romeo and Juliet with my husband.  New Harmony is a quaint, little, “artsy” town on the Wabash River and must be visited if you are ever in the Southern Indiana area! (http://www.newharmony-in.gov/about_new_harmony.php)

I remember as an adult, when watching Romeo and Juliet, I was invested in the underlying meanings of the language, the humor and the tragedy.  It was equally as entertaining but much more meaningful.  I was so excited that I got it!

That being said, there are many things about Shakespeare that I don’t get.

Blog 2 quote

The poetry is remarkably complicated. It makes me feel somewhat inferior as I try to keep up. The English language of his day was so luscious and tenaciously relevant to that time period, it doesn’t translate well today.

Possibly another problem with the language in his works is that he created thousands of his own words. Only Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss can get away with that! For example, he is the creator of arch-villain, birthplace, bloodsucking, courtship, dewdrop, downstairs, fanged, hunchbacked, leapfrog, misquote, pageantry, radiance, schoolboy, stillborn, watchdog, and zany, just to name a few.

Most of his sonnets involve the decaying of time, fleeting beauty and love.  This can be dark and dreary yet also alluring.  I suppose he drew from his past but was fairly young when he became a successful author and playwright. He was only 25 when he wrote his first play and was a successful actor by the age of thirty. There is much controversy about the details of his life as the records are sketchy but he was definitely brilliant in writing, entertaining and a successful business man.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, he died a wealthy man. Known for writing comedies, I doubt his wife Anne was amused when he only left her their “second best” bed in his will.

William Shakespeare is definitely an intriguing writer that managed to find his niche without any formal education or literary background.  So…does that give you hope as an inexperienced writer? If I were you, I wouldn’t quit your day job! Remember, he was well-respected in his day but the true glory and fame came hundreds of years after his death.

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I challenge you to pull out an old copy of Macbeth or one of the many other cherished works of Willy Shakespeare and start reading. There is much to learn from this brilliant poet. The playfulness of his words, his humor, hyperbole, symbolism and his darkness…all useful things for writers to have in their pockets.

Here is a list of a few favorites: Henry VI, The Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Cymbeline, A Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest.

See more at: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/122#sthash.jKuUeocd.dpuf

20 Interesting Facts about Willy S.

Born on April 23, 1564

( My Husband’s Birthday…a coincidence? I thinketh not!)

Died on April 23, 1616

In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway

He was 18 when married and Anne was 26

Had eight children (One son died at age 11)

He was a successful entrepreneur

Wrote 37 plays ( this number varies from article to article)

He was good friends with Elizabeth I, queen during his life

Was affiliated with a theatre group known as the Lord Chamberlains Men

Used the word dog or dogs over 200 times in his works

Was rumored to have created over 1,700 words for the English language

Invented the word assassination

Never attended a University

Did not die in poverty, unlike many of his fellow authors of the time

Had an earring in his left ear

He was known as “honey-tongued.”

Performed in many of his own plays

First job was holding horses outside the theatres

Rumored to copy many of his famous plays from other writers

Made over 600 references to birds

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You may say that his style and content is too deep for children’s authors. I will agree that we shouldn’t use his style or content for a picture book, but we must study the greats to have a deeper understanding of what it is that we do. I have dedicated 2014 to learning the craft of writing poetry and rhyming picture books.  Along the way, I hope to find courage and inspiration.

Please join me!

 

“The rhyme’s the thing wherein I’ll speak

the words and let them sing.”

Resources:

Bluebook Style William Shakespeare, http://www.biography.com/people/william-shakespeare-9480323 (last visited Feb 02, 2014).

Absolute Shakespeare  http://absoluteshakespeare.tripod.com/homepage/id1.html

Poets.org  http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/122