Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Embracing Kitchen Creativity

     I would like to say that every day is an explosion of new ideas at the keyboard.
     I would like to say that, but I can't. Some days it feels like the right ideas, or the words to express those ideas, are written in an ancient language that scholars have yet to translate. I know myself, and I know that sitting BIC isn't going to help. I need to do something else that will shift my mind into a different gear.
     Today, the "something else" was making cookies. The oven kept the kitchen toasty on a dreary almost- winter day. I am ready to go back to work. And my neighbors will have yummy holiday treats! I'd say this is a winning solution for everyone.

Wishing you all the best as 2013 draws to a close. I hope you can follow your own creative impulses wherever they take you.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Susanna Leonard Hill's 350-word holiday story challenge

     Story ideas are always popping into my head. I try to write them down, but sometimes the slips of paper get lost, put through the washer, buried under the papers on the embarrassment I call my desk. You get the idea.
     Still, I was surprised to realize that I hadn't written down a single idea that would fit the requirements for Susanna Hill's holiday story contest--a story under 350 words featuring a holiday mishap.
     When I saw down to brainstorm, I ended up with multiple ideas. Way too many ideas. Maybe this is the result of the creative juices generated during the month of November in Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo? The problem was choosing which idea to run with.
     I hope you enjoy the story below. I'll be second guessing myself (maybe it should have been the
extremely short funny one about the mixed up deliveries!) It's all good. I know it got me in the holiday spirit! If you were expecting a Perfect Picture Book Friday post, Susanna has put that on hold until the New Year. Hope to see you then!

Joe's Merry Techmas   by Wendy Greenley 

      Joe dodged the busy workers. Sweeping up scraps of paper and ribbon wasn’t very exciting, but he was just a first-year elf in Santa’s workshop. With luck, someday he might be part of Santa’s toy-making team.
     “Ho, ho, ho!” Santa strode to his new computer control center. He had posted the gift list and wanted to make sure the elves checked it twice before they wrapped and labeled each present.
     By lunchtime on Christmas Eve the sleigh was halfway packed—ahead of schedule for once!
     Then with one clap of thunder-snow—Santa’s computer screen went blank. 

     No one knew which of the remaining gifts went to which child.
     “We can guess,” one elf suggested.
     “Ho, ho, whoa!” said Santa. “They’re all great gifts. But an easel won’t do if you want a catcher’s mitt.”
     “We still have their letters,” another elf pointed to the overflowing mail bags. 

     "Ho, ho, too slow!” There’s no time to read them again,” said Santa. “We need the list.”
     Santa called repairman after repairman. No one was at work on Christmas Eve.
     The toy-making elves tried to restart the computer. The screen flickered—then went blank again.
     “Can we postpone Christmas?” one elf asked.
     “Ho, Ho, NO!” said Santa. “Help me find a solution!”
     “Maybe I can help,” Joe piped up.
     “How could a first year-elf help?” the oldest elf asked.
     Joe shrugged. “The computer system went haywire while Rudolph and I were playing Candy Cane Crunch. I fooled around with it, and got it to work again.”
     “Ho, ho, give it a go!” said Santa.
     Joe’s fingers flew over the keys. The screen flickered again, and again—and finally came back on.
     “If I was you, I’d print a copy of that list,” said Joe.
     And so they did. Then they finished all the wrapping, labeling and packing.
     Christmas was back on schedule.
     “If I teach you about the computer, would you teach me toy-making?” said Joe.
     “Deal!” everyone chorused.
     “Ho, ho, ho, three cheers for Joe! Welcome to the team!” Santa shouted as he headed skyward.

THE END (343 words!)

     Everyone's stories for the contest will be linked to Susanna's blog (or posted in the comments). I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm sure I'll find some gems to enjoy!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thank you, Tara Lazar

     If you write picture books and you don't know about Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo, check it out here.
Open source image courtesy of PippaDust
       PiBoIdMo is just one example of the amazing kindness and generosity of the writing community. Tara could be holed up at home, working on her own manuscripts and enjoying the holiday season. Instead, Tara chooses to spend the month of November bringing inspiration and craft tips to other writers. By sharing daily posts from published picture book writers and illustrators on her blog, her followers get a glimpse into a variety of working methods. And the enthusiasm for the work is palpable and infectious.
        This was my second year participating in PiBoIdMo. I think I got even more out of it the second time around. And just a disclaimer: I didn't win any of the agent/editor/critique prizes last year, and Tara hasn't announced winners this year, so I'm not feeling any love that wasn't given to the whole group. It's all that good.
     I have been fortunate to meet Tara in person and share a "real" hug. This post, while a virtual hug, is no less heartfelt.
     Kidlit writers are a wonderful, welcoming group. And Tara is a gem among them.