Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thankful Thursday: 12 x 12 in '12 Blog Party

Blog badge by Linda Silvestri

I can't believe we're at the halfway point for the 12 x 12 in '12 Challenge. When the topic of a party bubbled up on the Facebook group, I offered a treat. 

A Peppermit Patty Brownie Cup
If you visit the link, you'll notice my brownie cup looks very much like the professional's brownie cup. They were yummy. The second time I made the recipe wasn't so photo worthy. 

Some of my 12 x 12 in '12 picture book drafts have had a similar fate. One month my draft turned out great (at least in my head). The next month, I'm not feeling it. 

Either way, I'm writing and on track with the challenge. I've written one or more drafts each month — eight in May as I participated in the National Picture Book Writing Week.  Thank you Julie Hedlund for organizing the 12 x 12 in '12 challenge.

My goal for the next half of the year is to not only write a monthly draft, but also revise one manuscript.  It's not a lofty goal, but it's a big one for me. I feel out of the submission loop, but I've also been busy with other things. 

My 2012 goals did not include being elected to my neighborhood's metro district board or enrolling in web and graphic design classes at the community college. Both have taken away some of my writing time, but also offer a bit of rejuvenation and challenge. As I learn new software programs and figure out how to survive a watercolor landscape drawing, I want to stay on track with class assignments, writing challenges and life in general. 

Many of you know I live in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last Saturday, a fire began in Waldo Canyon. My family is safe. My neighborhood is on the east side of town more than 15 miles away. Here's a view as I mistakenly walked the dog on Monday. The air quality is horrible.
The fire's smoke cloud. 
Tuesday afternoon we were engulfed in a smoke cloud as thousands were evacuated as the wildfire — well, got wild. No injuries have been reported, which is a miracle, but more than 100 homes (some say up to 300) have been destroyed. Some area writers lost their homes or have been evacuated. 

Author Beth Vogt mentions her evacuation and so does Debbie Maxwell Allen. These two ladies (and many others) have occupied many of my thoughts in recent days. Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote about the fire. Her husband is one of the hundreds of firefighters working in difficult conditions to contain the blaze.

As writers, we are supposed to have words, but this fire has left me speechless. 

Words are slowly coming back to the city and its residents. 

We'll rebuild.

Let us help.

We'll return.

We're safe.

Thank you.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Perfect Picture Book Fridays

Super awesome badge by Loni Edwards
Have you read all the picture books on the Perfect Picture Book Fridays list? No.

Don't worry. The list is on hiatus until Sept. 7. So this means we all have the summer to catch up, check out and read many great titles before new additions are added to the list.

I love the list as a mom and a writer.

Enzo and I haven't made a dent in the list, but we keep trying. Each week, I've added books to my library list. It gets longer and longer. The hiatus will give us a moment to catch up, read and enjoy the great selections.

As a writer, I've enjoyed participating in the weekly feature created by children's author Susanna Leonard Hill. The posts give me an opportunity to focus on themes, opening lines and synopsis.

PPBF posts also make me think beyond the last line of the story. How can one enhance the reading experience? Is there a game or activity to play? Is there an educational resource to help a parent or teacher continue teaching about the book's topic? How can you add to the reader's experience? (Hmm. Perfect Picture Book Fridays almost sounds like an ebook app. Funny isn't it?)

The posts allow me to explore author and illustrator websites, study educational resources from authors and in general, go through those rabbit holes I enjoy on the Internet. You don't have to fall in any rabbit holes during your search for a good picture book, because Perfect Picture Book Fridays contributors did it for you.

If you are looking for a picture book, consider looking at the list on Susanna's site. It's a great way to fill up your summer reading program time or an afternoon with your children or grandchildren.

My "to be read pile" keeps growing this summer. So, why not add one more to my list. What do you recommend?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: How to Make a Night

Here's this week's Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

How to Make a Night
Written by Linda Ashman
Illustrated by Tricia Tusa
Harper Collins Publishers, 2004

Suitable for: Ages preschool to 3

Theme/Topic: Bedtime, Night, Day, Rhyme

Opening: Bike blew a tire.
Boat sprang a leak.
Scooter's in the gutter.
Sneaker's in the creek.

Brief Synopsis: I tried to sum this up then re-read part inside cover. Why reinvent the wheel? Here it is: "In this fantastic bedtime tale, a hectic day is put to bed, and a peaceful starry night fills the sky so everyone can rest. Linda Ashman and Tricia Tusa have created a magical world in which the sun and the moon cooperate with a resourceful young girl who is ready to put her busy day behind her and settle down to a good night's sleep — so she can wake up to another exciting day tomorrow!"

Link to Resources: The Under the Golden Apple Tree blog has a post on how to Make a Bedtime Lessons Book for Your Preschooler. I'm making one of these. I shared some bedtime resources in this PPBF for Time for Bed.

Why I chose this book: I signed Enzo up this week for the summer reading program at the library. He ran around like a crazy person or toddler — whatever term you prefer — as I grabbed books off the shelf. I enjoy Linda Ashman's books. Since I was limited to the A and B author shelves, I grabbed a couple of Ashman's books. We're going through a phase where a certain Mr. No doesn't really enjoy going to bed. So, I really liked this story, because I wish he wanted to go to bed and rest.

The Perfect Picture Book Fridays series will take a break from June 22 to Aug. 31. I will take a break on Fridays too. I'll still be lurking around the Internet, revising the memoir, working on class assignments, writing my picture book manuscripts and living.

So, I'm down to Thankful Thursdays for the summer. You can fill up your child's summer reading list by looking at the list of great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thankful Thursday: TED

Do you know TED? My color and design teacher likes TED talks, so I've been introduced to TED. My experience pre-class mostly involved a friend saying "I saw a TED talk about that." I tend to avoid videos, because I can't scan them like I can a blog post. TED is different.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. I was surprised to see it began in 1984 as a conference. The talks focus on three areas:  Technology, Entertainment, Design. You can learn more about the nuts and bolts of TED here or jump into the 1100 plus talks here.

In class, we've watched a few TED talks. I really liked this one: The happy secret to better work by Shawn Achor.  I found it valuable for class, as a writer and as an individual. If you have time (or need a boost of positive energy for your work or day), please watch it. We can all use a Happiness Advantage plus the unicorn story made me happy (and sparked a picture book idea).

If you can't watch it, he mentions how gratitude (noting 3 gratitudes a day) is key to creating lasting positive change.

On the day I watched the video, I was grateful I survived my packed week — Vacation Bible School, classes and jury duty. I ended up being on standby for jury duty and did not have to show up for service.

Do you watch TED talks? What's making you happy this week? Are you grateful for three things today?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: Big Red Barn

Here's this week's choice for Perfect Picture Book Fridays —
Big Red Barn
Written by Margaret Wise Brown
Pictures by Felicia Bond
Harper Collins Publishers, 1956, this version 1989

Suitable for: Ages 2 to 6

Theme/Topic: Animals, Farm, Rhyme

Opening: By the big red barn
In the great green field,

There was a pink pig
Who was learning to squeal.

Brief Synopsis: From the cover — There were horses and sheep and goats and geese — and a jaunty old scarecrow leaning on his hoe. And they all lived together by the big red barn. In joyous and exuberant pictures, Felicia Bong lovingly evokes Margaret Wise Brown's simple, rhythmic text about the cycle of a day on a farm, where a family of animals peacefully plays and sleeps.

Link to resources: Margaret Wise Brown's website doesn't have a working link for items for children. There is a PDF of "Writing for 5 year olds." Here's a five-day theme unit on farms.

Why I chose this book:

Fun art on the hardcover hidden under the cover.
The artwork makes me smile. I love the pig and corn stalk found on the cover under the dust jacket.

Margaret Wise Brown lived an interesting life, according to her bio. Death was no different — "... Margaret died of an embolism after kicking up her leg can-can style to show her doctor how good she was feeling." Wow.

Check out more Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Favorite Thing and MOPS

The "thing" I shared
A couple weeks ago, my Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group gathered for its final meeting of the year. Moms shared their favorite thing during the meeting.

Lots of fun things were shared at the meeting. I heard it was exciting, but wasn't able to attend due to a meeting in connection with my graphic design classes. Instead, I received a goody bag later filled with items from my table mates.

I fretted over the favorite thing to share. Just one item? My choices were narrowed down to a sweet treat, a picture book or office supplies. Due to time and delivery methods, I created the above item. A bag filled with Post-it notepads, postage stamps, blank note cards, a pencil and a note in each bag.

I received fun favorites from the ladies at my table — popcorn and a Redbox code, a joy jar (decorated jar with blank slips of paper for notes of joy), a photo card, a caramel square, tea, pretzels and a lip balm. I admit — I loved the Nivea lip balm the moment it touched my lips.

I'm thankful I was able to participate in MOPS this year. The leadership offered an assortment of speakers and activities (crafts!) throughout the year. By providing childcare for the meetings, it allowed moms a few hours to rejuvenate. I learned a lot from the speakers, the ladies in the group and the lovely ladies at my Table 3.

What favorite thing would you share?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Perfect Picture Book: Dog Food

Our library's summer reading program begins today. Enzo will be signed up soon. Not today as it's my first day of class. I've filled our library hold list with all types of books from Perfect Picture Book Fridays.
Dog Food
Written and Illustrated by Saxton Freymann (The cover also lists Joost Elffers)
Book design by Elizabeth B. Parisi
Photography by Nimkin/Parrinello
Arthur A. Levine Books
An Imprint of Scholastic Press/New York, 2002

Suitable for: Ages newborn and up

Theme/Topic: Dogs, Food, Art

Opening: Good dog!

Brief Synopsis: Fruits and vegetables become dogs in this book — all shapes and sizes. With each page, these food shaped dogs demonstrate "top dog," "underdog," "dog fight" and so on.

Link to resources: Try to create a dog in the book. One of my favorite animals is a poodle made from broccoli. The dogs made from banana peels are very appealing. I searched for tips on how to sculpt bananas. I don't recommend this. Some links didn't appear normal or suitable. A local blogger Shannon has this site. The ideas on this site make me want to pack my lunch every day.

Why I chose this book: My son recently figured out how to get into the stash of books in his closet. This book was among the piles. "This," he said handing it to me. That's Enzo speak for "read it." He giggled at some of the dog food creations. Dog Food is also one of the books I have watched him study the pictures as he turns the pages — all while he is supposed to be napping.

Availability may be a problem for this title. There are several books using food sculpted into neat characters such as Fast Food, Food For Thought, Food Play and How Are you Peeling? Your library may have one of these titles to investigate.

I goofed on the posting time for my Thankful Thursday post. If you have time, I mentioned a group blog Hugs and Chocolate and shared a picture book blogger Mike Allegra.

I'll be in my design and color class most of Friday, but will read through the Perfect Picture Book over the weekend. My teacher says there should be no Facebooking or texting in class. So, I won't be checking blog posts! I can't afford to lose participation points, since the class involves drawing and painting supplies. Did I mention I don't draw? Have a wonderful weekend.

Check out more Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.