Beginning

Welcome to my blog, thank you for stopping by. If this is your first time to my blog, it's nice to meet you. If you've been here before, welcome back.

My writing journey has begun. The road will have some bumps and detours. I only hope that the first hill is not too high, and the journey is long.














Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blog Winner!!


The Winner of the Christmas Stocking Blog Contest is:

Cynthia Chapman Willis


*claps hands* *happy cheers*

For Cynthia - I will be in touch with you to find out where to send the package. 

For Everyone - Thank you all for stopping by, the happy birthday wishes and sticking with me during my busy time at work.  Sorry I have been slightly absent.  Thanks for your patience.  I hope you all will stop by and say hello and congratulations to Cynthia.  Have a pleasant weekend. - Just, Maeve

Friday, December 9, 2011

Books With Cookies And Milk (47)

The Case of the Missing Snowman
(A Jigsaw Jones Mystery)
The Case of the Christmas Snowman (Jigsaw Jones Series #2)

Written by:  James Preller
Illustrated by:  R. W. Alley
     Theodore Jones a/k/a Jigsaw Jones likes to do jigsaw puzzles and solve mysteries. Almost everyone calls him Jigsaw Jones. Jigsaw owns a detective agency with the help of his partner Mila.

     In this book Lucy Hiller, a girl in Jigsaw's class, gets to take her dad's rare coin to school (without actually asking). She lets a guy named Bigs Malone hold it, but then it disappears Bigs says that he cannot find it. Bigs is now the prime suspect. But, is he really the one who took the coin? If you like mysteries you would like this book because Jigsaw is a great detective. Read how Jigsaw and Mila ruin Bigs' snowman and find the rare coin.

     Overall, this was another fun mystery book to read from the series and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read a good children's mystery.


Chocolate Snowball Cookies

Ingredients:

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® sugar cookie mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
60 Hershey's® Kisses® Brand milk chocolates, unwrapped
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

1.Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, egg, flour, cocoa, almonds and extract until soft dough forms.


2.Shape dough into sixty 3/4-inch balls; wrap each around 1 milk chocolate candy. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.


3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly, about 5 minutes.


4.Roll cookies in powered sugar. Cool completely, about 15 minutes. Re-roll cookies in powdered sugar. Store tightly covered.


Makes About 5 dozen cookies
 
Don't Forget The Milk!
Enjoy!
 
Don't forget to stop by and check out my blog give-a-way:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blog Give-A-Way

     Since today is my birthday I am hosting a Blog Give-A-Way!  It is open to U.S. and International.  To enter please comment and share one of your favorite Holiday Children's Books (picture book, middle grade or young adult) along with a link to your blog so we can stop by and say hello.  The book can be an old favorite or a new one.  One of my all time favorites (and it isn't just a Christmas Story) is "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott. 
Little Women (Little Women, #1)


I would have to list that as my all time favorite. 

Now for the Give-A-Way


Large Old Time Christmas Stocking, click for larger view

     A handmade stocking (12" high) filled with goodies, perfect for the writer.  This contest is open from today, December 6, 2011 through December 16, 2011.  The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on December 17, 2011 and the prize will be shipped to the winner.  So, please leave a comment along with a link so that we can visit your blogs and so that I can contact the winner.  Have a great day everyone!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quotations for Inspiration

Happy Monday Everyone!  It is so hard to believe that it is December.  Here are a few more quotations to start your week:

You have to keep plugging away. We are all growing. There is no shortcut. You have to put time into it to build an audience.
- John Gruber

For now you know one of the greatest principles of success, if you persist long enough you will win.
- Og Mandino

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
 - Confucious

If one dream should fall and break into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.
- Flavia Weedn

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
- Eleanor Roosevelt.

Hope you all have a great start to your week! 

Tomorrow is my birthday and because I love the holidays, I am going to host another blog give-away tomorrow.  If you have a chance be sure to stop by and check it out.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Lovely Weekend In Maine

     Hi Everyone - My husband and I travelled for a weekend get-away with friends. We had the greatest fortune of staying at the Scotch Hill Inn in Ogunquit, Maine. The Scotch Hill Inn is wonderfully charming, the hosts, Michael and Michael are outstanding in their roles as hosts and Anthony is the perfect gourmet chef. So much attention to detail is given, not only with the clean, comfortable and cozy Inn, but also to your own sights, senses and needs. Each time we returned from one of our excursions the coffee, tea and fresh cookies awaited us; the fireplace was lit and the dining/sitting area was waiting for us for wine and conversation.

     On arrival at the Inn you are personally greeted, there is an array of coffees, teas and freshly baked cookies, elegantly displayed and waiting for you. Instantly, you know that you are in for a wonderful treat having chosen here to stay. The two course breakfast creations are positively delectable and will fill you for the entire day, holding you until dinner. Michael and Michael are engaging and informative and make you feel like you have arrived at “your home away from home.” Michael, Michael, Anthony and The Scotch Hill Inn are just the right combination of charm, warmth, style and grace.

     If you are looking for the perfect place, to rejuvenate, recapture or just relax, this is the “Perfect Inn” for you. I hope you have the opportunity to stay and see just how wonderful everything and everyone is.

     Here is a picture of the Inn and the link to check it out for yourselves. 

Scotch Hill Inn, Bed and Breakfast


         I hope you all had a pleasant and happy weekend!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Joy Rides

Do you like to ride roller coasters?


     I don't really like "real" roller coasters, but I like the idea of being on a rollercoaster when I am reading.  Not every reader actually likes to ride a roller coaster, but they sure enjoy the building of emotion, the rise and the descent and the rise again of their stories.  It is a joy ride.  There are twists and turns, the tease, the delay, the anticipation, then snap all hell breaks loose.  This is what we create in our stories.  Mixing up feelings.  We use humor, anger and/or joy to change tension for both our character and our readers. 

     As we write our stories, we want to move the story along, adjusting the pace.  We want to keep the reader unsuspecting, allowing them the unexpected at the turn of the page.  So, we play with our scenes, adding color, scents, emotions and tensions.  The elements in our stories influence our readers.  So, I have my ticket for my rollercoaster.  Now, I am looking forward to standing in line to buy a ticket to yours. 

    

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quotations for Inspiration

Happy Monday Everyone!

     I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  As the week begins and the busiest time of the year is upon us, here are some quotations to start your week:

"Only the heart knows how to find what is precious."
- Tyodor Dostoyersky

"A little rebellion now and then is a good thing."
- President Thomas Jefferson

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."
- Judy Garland

"Luxury need not have a price - comfort itself is a luxury."
- Geoffrey Beane

"If a home doesn't make sense, nothing does."
- Henrietta Ripperger

---
Here is a little angel saying to tuck in your pocket:

Sometimes you know an Angel only by the miracles he leaves blossoming in his path after he is gone. -

     Have a great start to your week!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Books With Cookies And Milk (46)

Making a Friend

Making a Friend jacket cover

Written by:  Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal

     This is such a heartwarming story, wonderfully told with beautiful illustrations.  A little boy builds a snowman after the first snowstorm of the season.  He dresses his new creation in his favorite hat, and grows to love the snowman.  But, as we all know, snow doesn't last forever.  The weather warms and soon, the snowman is gone.  But, where does the snowman go? 

     The boy learns that the snowman will always be with him, in spring, summer, fall and when winter returns.  He realizes that the snowman will always be in his heart.  Just like the ones that we have loved and now have past or are far away.  We are reminded that, "What you love will always be with you." 

     I hope you will enjoy this story as much as I did. 

Recipe:

Melted Snowman Cookies


Ingredients:

1 package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix

10 large marshmallows
Betty Crocker Cookie Icing (white and orange)
Decorating Icing Tubes in Black, Red, Green, Blue and Pink


Directions:

     Mix cookie mix according to directions, or prepare your favorite cut out sugar cookie recipe, then just grab a golf ball sized chunk and squish it down until it's about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Do not worry about the shape or how lumpy it is, the more misshapen the better! Bake according to recipe directions.


     Once the cookies are cool, load them up with the cookie icing and spread it around with the back of a spoon, let some dribble over the edge for a "puddle" look.



     Spray a microwave safe plate with cooking spray, and place marshmallows on the plate. Set the microwave for 30 seconds, but watch the marshmallows as they cook. Stop the microwave as soon as the marshmallows start to get puffy, do not let them double in size.



  Spray your fingers with cooking spray or grease them up with shortening, and carefully pull the marshmallows off, by the base, and set them on top of the frosted cookies.



     Then just decorate as you'd like with the frosting, or your own homemade frosting! 

Don't Forget The Milk!
Enjoy!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quotations For Inspiration

Happy Monday Everyone!

     Here are a few more quotations to start your week:

   "Laughter is one of the best medicines around for relieving stress and for creating a more healthy spirit. And, one of the greatest aspects is that it is totally free and can be done by anyone."
- Byron Pulsifer

"Anybody can do just about anything with himself that he really wants to and makes up his mind to do. We are capable of greater things than we realize."
- Norman Vincent Peale

"Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish."
- John Quincy Adams

"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us."
- Albert Schweitzer

"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough."
- Meister Eckhardt

     Have a wonderful start to your week!




Sunday, November 20, 2011

Books With Cookies And Milk (45)

The Adventures of Titch & Mitch
The King of the Castle

Written by:  Garth Edwards
Illustrated by Max Stasyuk

     Two pixies, a magical bike, an albatross and a King of the Castle who wants to make pixie soup cause Titch and Mitch to be in trouble again. Yet they still find time to free cuckoos from cuckoo clocks, save the crab queen's crown and solve the mystery of Echo Quarry - all with a little help from their friends! This is the third wonderful 'Titch and Mitch' story from author Garth Edwards.


Latasha and Little Red Tornado

Latasha and the Little Red Tornado

Written by:  Michael Scotto
Illustrated by:  Evette Gabriel

     LATASHA AND THE LITTLE RED TORNADO is the story of Latasha, an eight year old girl who lives with her mother and her dog. Latasha is a great new character for middle grade readers.  Now that she is 8, Latasha is starting to feel grown up.  Latasha's mother gets a new job as a nurse's assistant but her hours are long and Latasha has to be "looked after by their elderly landlady, Mrs. Okocho.  Latasha is not happy about this, especially since she is now 8.


     Latasha's dog (Ella, named after Ella Fitzgerald) is two years old and still gets into trouble. Wait till you read how she gets her nickname, the little red tornado!  Latasha is worried about this and works hard to help Ella learn to behave.  Latasha's relationship with her dog is great. You can't help but fall in love with Ella and feel Latasha's anguish when Ella gets lost.  



Turkey Monster Thanksgiving

Turkey Monster Thanksgiving

Written by:  Anne Warren Smith

     Since her mother left home, Katie could understand this year that they were going to have a different Thanksgiving this year.  She was okay at first with the plans for pizza for dinner instead of turkey. They would be albe to wear pajamas till noon, eat popcorn and watch football. Everything would be fine even if they did not celebrate that national holiday like another family.

     Now, it was two weeks before Thanksgiving and her best friend, Claire, told her about her family's Thanksgiving plans.  Claire was beginning to think that they should also have to celebrate Thanksgiving, the way everyone else does.  Things were changing and not for the best.  Things were beginning to go horibbly wrong.


The Sweetest Thing

The Sweetest Thing

Written by:  Christina Mandelski

      A little after her seventh birthday, her mom walked out on her family. Each year Sheridan got a birthday card full of empty promises, but Sheridan still believed that her mom was coming back.  Sheridan also lets her relationship with her father drift apart, while he is working hard to get his own television show on a food-related television show.

     Sheridan is known as “Cake Girl,” because she makes the most incredibly decorated cakes at a bakery owned by her grandmother. Everyone wants a cake made and decorated by Sheridan.  She soon finds out that her dad is going to get the show, but that means they need to move to New York. She doesn’t want to leave – what if her mom comes back?  Things come to a head and Sheridan must make some really difficult decisions about who is important to her,  and where she should be going with her life.

Irena's Jars of Secrets

Irena's Jars of Secrets
Written by:  Marcia Vaughan
Illustrated by:  Ron Mazellan

     Irena remembers as a young girl, her father's wordds - If she ever saw someone drowning, she must jump in and try to save that person, even if she could not swim.  When Irena grew up in 1940 Warsaw, she became a social worker.  She saw that the Jewish people were "drowning".  Irena joned Zegota, a secret organization that was helping Jewish people, in Poland to survive and find places of safety.

     In October 1945, Irena was betrayed to the Germans and she was arrested.  Irena was secretly let go from her capture and went into hiding, continuing her efforts to help those in need.  She kept lists in glass jars and buried them near an apple tree in a friend's garden across from the german soldier's barracks. 

     Note:  As with any book I post about on my blog, I highly recommend them either for reading yourself or as a gift to another.  I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did. 

     Now for the cookie recipe:

Caramel Apple Cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. caramel flavoring
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 medium Granny Smith apple, diced {about 1 cup}
1 c. almond and pecan pieces
1 tbs. dark brown sugar
1/2 can Dulce de Leche, or about 7 ounces caramel sauce
3 sections each of dark and white almond bark

Directions:

     Cream together butter and sugars. Add the egg and flavorings and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside. Use one tablespoon of the flour mixture and toss with the diced apples until they are well coated. Mix in the flour until it is well incorporated, then add the apples. The dough will be sticky but firm.


     Next combine the mixed nuts with a tablespoon of brown sugar. Drop dough into the nut mixture by the tablespoon and roll until well coated with nuts.


     Bake the cookies at 325 degrees for 15-17 minutes. When you remove them from the oven use a cookie scoop or spoon to make an impression in the middle of the warm cookies.


     After cooling, use a piping bag to fill the cookies with caramel. Drizzle the cookies with white and dark chocolate.


     Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It's All About The Magic!

Flipendo2.jpg

     As writers, we realize that writing really isn't magic; it is hard work.  We want our readers to feel that it may seem like a magical and mysterious process.  In fiction writing we make the implausible, plausible.  We create a freshly imagined world that is both exhilarating and exhausting for us in its process. 

     Writers have an individual voice in their writing, they are writing from their own heart and soul.  Writing causes a change in the consciousness in the writer and an opening in the consciousness of the reader.  Both the writer and the reader relish in the anticipation of what will come in the story. 

     Set your pencils to paper and begin writing.  Discover the magic in your writing.  If done right the end result will be magical.  It is all about the magic!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Quotations For Inspiration

" 'Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again.  If at first you don't succeed.  Try, try again."
- W. E. Hickson

"The reward of a thing well done, is to have done it."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The easy, gentle, and sloping path...is not the path of true virtue.  It demands a rough and thorny road."
- Michel de Montaigne

" 'Hope' is the thing with feathers - that perches in the soul..."
- Emily Dickinson

"When I look into the future it is so bright it burns my eyes."
- Oprah Winfrey

Irish Proverb:
     It's a bad thing not to have a story on the tip of your tongue.


     Every moment is filled with endless possibilities.  Let the moments of the day inspire you.  Take a moment to enjoy your day.  Here is where you will find your inspiration and creativity.  Let the wonder of you unfold. 

Have a wonderful start to your week!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Creativity

     As writers we are constantly creating. Whether we are writing, planning our day or daydreaming, we’re constantly creating. I just want to share a couple of ideas with you to keep or get those creative juices flowing.

1.    We spend a lot of time doing what we really don’t want to be doing. Before doing the usual laundry, errands, cooking etc., if you don’t already, try putting your writing first. Put it at the beginning of your list of things to do. When you are inspired to do something, you love every minute of it. It will make the other things you have to do for the day easier.

2.    When you feel stuck in the moment, or in your thoughts, take a breath, breathe deeply, then come back to this moment. Just breathe! It may sound simple, but most of us don’t take the much needed long, relaxing breaths. Our days are busy, often frenzied. Make that effort to take 10 deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Relax your body and your mind. You will feel re-energized! 

3.    If you find yourself getting frustrated, locked in your thoughts, unable to move forward in your writing process, write a letter to yourself. Tell yourself what you are feeling, it may help you to understand why you are stuck and alleviate the frustration. At least, with even writing a letter to yourself, you are still writing. You are still creating.

     Remember, there is no desire in the future, no action in the past, but there is desire, action and promise with today!

     Hope you are having a Creative Day!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Quotations for Inspiration

     Hi Everyone - Sorry for the lack of much posting last week, I had a crazy week!  Hopefully, things are settling down.  Here it is Monday, ALREADY!  It is time for some Quotations.  I'd like to share some with you from some other bloggers:

From Abby Fowers:  http://abbyfowers.blogspot.com/

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

From Lynda R. Young: http://lyndaryoung.blogspot.com/


"Be open, curious, present, and engaged.” – Author Unknown


From Stacy S. Jensen: http://stacysjensen.blogspot.com/


"The author should die once he has finished writing. So as not to trouble the path of the text." - Umberto Eco

     When you have a chance please stop by their blogs and say hello.

     Here is a poem I found that I will share with you.  Unfortunately, it is listed as Author Unknown.  I hope you find some inspiration in it to start your week.

Treasures In Life

There are treasures in life,
but owners are few
Of money and power to buy things
brand new.

Yet you can be wealthy and
feel regal too,
If you will just look for the
treasures in you.

These treasures in life are not
hard to find
When you look in your heart,
your soul, and your mind.

For when you are willing to
share what's within,
Your fervent search for riches
will end.

The joy and the laughter, the
smile that you bring;
The heart unafraid to love
and to sing;

The hand always willing
to help those in need;
Ones quick to reach out, to
labor and feed.

So thank you for sharing
these great gifts inside;
The caring, the cheering,
the hug when one cried.

Thanks for the energy,
encouragement too,
And thank you for sharing
the treasures in you.
- Author Unknown

     Have a wonderful start to your week!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I've Been Memed!

     Joanna, from http://joannamarple.com has memed me. Since I have been memed before, I answered them a little differently this time, hope you enjoy my answers.
     If you could go back in time and relive one moment, what would it be?

     I keep scrapbooks, memory boxes and many photo albums. I guess I would have to say that I do go back in time and relive many moments. I treasure my memories and gather them to preserve and share them.

     If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?

     I made this change years ago. I never let a day go by without letting my husband, children and grandchild know how much I love them.

     What movie/TV character do you most resemble in personality?

     Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz! I love looking over rainbows, but I really know that there is no place like home.

     If you could push one person off a cliff and get away with it, who would you choose?

     Hmm, I wouldn’t say a particular person, but I would say someone who doesn’t believe in you.


     Name one habit you want to change in yourself.

     My nervousness of speaking in public. I’m working on it!


     Why do you blog? (Answer in one sentence)


     I blog because it is a way of speaking without actually having to stand in front of a crowd, to let others know what you are thinking.


     Name at least 3 people to send this to:

     I am going to name three bloggers I have been getting to know:


     Anne – http://www.cassam-isanyonethere.blogspot.com/

     TracyJo - http://www.evolvingsoul11.com/

     Susan - http://notesfrominnisfree.blogspot.com/

     I hope you’ll stop by their blogs and say hello!


Monday, October 31, 2011

Quotations, Happy Halloween and Encore 2011

Happy Halloween Everyone!


     Today, I have some quotations that were posted at Encore 2011 (SCBWI Writer's Workshop) and some helpful tips given at the conference.  Here are the quotations:

1)  "Take chances.  You will succeed if you are fearless of failure." - Natalie Goldberg

2)  "A blank piece of paper is God's way of letting us know how hard it is to be God." - Sidney Sheldon.

3)  Writing is so difficult that I feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter." - Jessamyn West

4)  I'm a rewriter that's the part I like best... once I have a pile of paper to work with, it's like having the pieces of a puzzle.  I just have to put the pieces together to make a picture." - Judy Blume

Now, for some helpful tips shared at the conference and their presenters:

1st Presenter:
J. L. Bell is a writer and reader of fantasy literature for children. He is an Assistant Regional Advisor in the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators, and was the editor of Oziana, creative magazine of the International Wizard of Oz Club, from 2004 to 2010.

Words from J.L. Bell:

     Milestones in an Exciting Plot

     Every story is different, fueld by characters' individual desires, but every story needs to keep readers eager to find out what's coming next.  Between a compelling opening and a satisfying resolution, an exciting plot needs twists and complications that keep raising the protagonist's physical and emotional stakes.

     We tend to value the serious over the silly.  Books that are selling - do have depressing situations.  Even though the setting is depressing, the story doesn't have to be, there can be triump for the protagonist.

     If you have a character that is constantly successful, they can be very boring.

     Readers expect more from a book:
     - Fascinate them.
     - Draw them in.
     - Put them in a mild trance.
     - Surrender them in to it.
     - They'll thank you for it.

     You can read more about J.L. Bell at either of his websites, please take time to stop by:



2nd Presenter:
Erin Dionne is a writer and a teacher. 

Words from Erin Dionne:

Frankenstein's Dog:  Bringing Minor Characters to Life

     Have you heard about Frankenstein's dog?  Sadly, no, because main characters get all of their author's attention.  Well, no more"

     Minor Characters need love, too!
     - What role do you give your minor character?
     - How much attention?
     - When do you address their needs?

     Avoid stock characters.
     - evil henchman
     - long suffering best friend
     - one function characters:
        - advice
        - cheerleader
        - complainer

     The goal is to create a minor character that has his/her own life.  When they are not with your main character, they are off doing their own thing.  Acknowledge the fact that everyone is the star of their own story.

     Use the slow reveal:
     - space events related to minor characters throughout the story arc.
     - balance in plot; intense scene followed by a comedic one with lesser character.
     - think of other ways you can position your minor character.

     Everyone loves sprinkles:
     - Sprinkle information throughout your story to keep your readers engaged.
     - Reveal and reinforce, and sprinkle throughout.

You can read more about Erin Dionne at her website:


3rd Presenter:
Mary Lee Donovan, Executive Editor at Candlewick Press

     The Dissection of Small Things:  A Microscopic Examination of the Picture Book Form.

     Using book maps and published models, you will learn how to plot, pace, and polish a picture book text.

     1)  Plot:
          - Cause & effect (if you give a mouse a cookie)
          - Status Quo (ex: Once Upon a time - something happens)
          - Give enough hints for the illustrator

     2)  Any underlying themes or messages:
          - Pacing is so important
          - Pattern and predictability
          - Action and movement
          - Emotion and tension
          - Dialogue

     3)  Polishing:
          - genteel manipulation of your reader
          - think about audible and inaudible
          - symbolisim and metaphor
          - selection and disposal
          - enhancing and pruning

     Take your inventory.  Go back, rewrite and rewrite again. 

     We were then given the opportunity to submit one manuscript that will actually have the opportunity to be viewed.

     You can visit Candlewick Press' website at:


4th Presenter:
Karen Day, Author of fiction for middle grade and young adult readers.

     So, You've Written A Novel!  Now What?

     Developing a dependable revision process is one of the most important things a writer should do.  Use strategies to discover new ways of looking at your manuscript.

     When once asked how she got published, Karen said.  "I figured out how to revise!  That's how I got publshed."

     Revising - The ability to fall madly in love with your character or plot, killing them off if it doesn't work.  You as a writer must do what feels like it works.  The more you write - the more your writing will change and grow.

     Advice:
     -  Should be and need to be in a critique group.  It will help you to discover your internal editor.
     - You've submitted  your novel.  Now, stop working on it.  Work on something else.  That way you will be fresh for revisions when needed.
     - Don't ever dismiss an editor's comments.  Read them carefully.  Look at them as a gift.
     - Practice writing a synopsis.  Pretend you're writing a Jacket Cover.
     - Real writing comes in the revision.

     List Threads in your story:
     - Make a list of all the major threads in the story.
     - Keep a journal beside you - list pages as reference.
     - Read from beginning to end for each thread

     List Major themes:
     - Resisting change
     - What are memories/history
     - Fear of water/intrigue of water
     - How things are there even if you can't see them.

     Beefing up characters:
     - Middle grade kids feel everthing
     - What's conscious/What's unconscious

     Focus on Setting:
     - Thematic Penetration
     - Creating a visual furthering the theme
     - Several scens imbedded in a theme

     You can read more about Karen at her Blog/Website at:


5th Presenter:
Mark Peter Hughes - Author and Faculty member of Rhode Island College ASTAL Writing Institute.

 Words from Mark Peter Huges:

     "Help! Help" I'm Stuck!" A Workshop About Sparking the Imagination and Solving Story Problems

     Do you have an idea but no idea how to make it work?  Have you come to a fork in the road but feel like you need a spoon?  As writers, we've all been there!

     Finding motivation:
     - Ask yourself:  Why do I write?  What do I hope to get out of reating?  If writing is truly important to me, what do I need to do to make it more a part of my life.
    
     Understanding your characters:
     - Write a diary from your character's point of view.

     Finding your story's focus:
     - Who are your characters and what do they want?  What is getting in the way of them getting it?   What is the central conflict of your story?  How will it be resolved in the end? 

     To add tension to your story, remember that every chapter, every scene, every moment of your story should hold a central question that will get your readers wondering and therefore make them want to keep turning pages.

     You can read more about Mark Peter Huges at his website at:


     Here, I have just touched on the topics heard that day.  The Workshop was a wonderful experience to learn more about writing and meet other writers, both published and unpublished.  Please find out more about these workshops at:


     While at the workshop, I met and sat with some wonderful writers, Karen Day, Evelyn Wolfson, Nancy Poydar and many more.  I also had the opportunity to meet Charlotte DeVoe who is an illustrator.  It was a wonderful day all around.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Books With Cookies And Milk (44)

     Here are a few books for the season.  I like to keep my revies short and sweet, not giving too much away with the story, but my recommendations are huge!

Fall Pumpkins
Orange and Plump
Fall Pumpkins: Orange and Plump (Cloverleaf Books: Fall's Here!)
Written by:  Martha E. H. Rustad
Illustrated by:  Amanda Enright

     This is a wonderful little book with colorful pages that carry a child through the story.  There are bulle notes in the form of a leaf added on the pages throughout the book.  There is a little bit of everything from planting pumpkins, a recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds and making Pumpkin Pie!  A great feature of this book are the illustrations on planting and caring for pumpkins.  


Franklin's Halloween

    

Written by:  Paulette Bourgeous
Illustrated by:  Brenda Clark

     Here is another tale involving Franklin.  Franklin and his friends are excited that Halloween is coming and they are making their plans.  They are getting ready for a party, painting and decorating, bobbing for apples and other games.  They are a little sppked when the visit a make believe haunted house that turns out to be fun, with a mystery to solve.  The illustrations are brightly colored and detailed.


A Full Moon Is Rising


Poems by:  Marilyn Singer
Pictures by:  Julia Cairns

     A Full Moon Is Rising is not really a Fall book, but the title fits so nicely.  This is a book with a collection of poems and unique illustrations.  Marilyn Singer invites young readers to come along on a whirlwind tour of the world, with celebrations, customs, beliefs, facts and natural phenomena.  Here is a chance to wonder at the magic of the full moon.


Trick or Treat


Written by:  Richie Tankersley Cusick

     Martha knew there was something evil about the house she was moving into. If was so cold...and creepy. And it wasn't just the house that was giving her a weird feeling. Martha was sure someone was following her... watching her every move.  Someone would be coming home this year with more than just a bag of treats, and was Martha!

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients:

Cookie:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg

Icing:
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.


2.In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly.


3.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.


4.To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.
Don't Forget The Milk!
Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Each Have Our Own Gift

     Do you ever think about what special gift you have, as a writer that you bring to the table. We each have our own uniqueness. No matter what genre you write for, your individuality and style comes through in what you write. The thing that will set you apart from the crowd is YOU!

     What unique thing do YOU bring to the table?

     My office had a workshop once, where you had to circle on a chart, from 1-5, in the process of a project, could you see the whole picture. In other words, 1 would show that you can only see the beginnings of the picture or story, three would mean that you can see the picture and visualize all that is there, five would mean that you are able to see the whole picture and add a little something to it.

     So, on the chart I didn’t circle anyone of these, I put an arrow after the five and extended it to the edge of the page. I had no idea at the time that they were collecting these pages and when the time came I had no choice but to turn mine in. We had a short break and when we all returned to the conference room, the presenter asked. “Where is Maeve?” I had a bad feeling when all eyes turned towards me and I raised my hand. The presenter asked me what I meant by my addition to the chart.


     Here is what my response was:


     “Well, I can see a picture or a project, and see beyond what is there. I can envision what the process might have been to create the picture or project, I can see all that is there, I can envision what could possibly come from it, whether it be something wonderful or what a “butt” ache it is going to be.” (in all honesty I didn’t use the word “butt”, but I think you can figure it out.) :)


     The presenter told me that this is what I bring to the table, I bring my own individuality, insightfulness and a sense of humor with it. That is what I try to apply in my writing, my own individual style with a little sarcasm, a lot of hard work and a sense of humor. Once you figure out what your unique gift is, that is what will set you apart from the crowd.


     So what is your gift?


     Feel free to share when you leave a comment.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Some Inspiration For The Week Ahead

The imagination exercises a powerful influence over every act of sense, thought, reason,
-- over every idea.
Latin Proverb

Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
Louisa May Alcott

Imagination is more important than knowledge.
Albert Einstein

We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day.
Thornton Wilder

Life is like a cup of tea, it’s all in how you make it!
Irish Proverb

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Books With Cookies And Milk (43)

The Keeping Quilt

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco

By:  Patricia Polacco

     Patricia Polacco's classic tale "The Keeping Quilt" manages to blend, family, love, tradition, the cycle of life, and the events in one family which are anchored by just one thing: the family quilt.


     “The Keeping Quilt” is made by the immigrant great-grandmother and her quilting bee friends, the quilt is compiled of scraps of fabric from little girls' dresses, the aprons of aunts, and so on. All come together to form a beautiful quilt which features dancing animals, swaying trees, and all manner of beautiful ornamentation. “The Keeping Quilt” is used as a quilt, a tent, a huppah at a wedding and a tablecloth.


     This is such a touching story about family and culture and change in the form of a Russian quilt that is passed down through several generations. The art is lovely, black and white with only the quilt colored.

Cinnamon Hot And Orange Quilt Cookies

Ingredients:

2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup cornstarch
1½ cups unsalted butter, cool room temperature (3 sticks)
1 cup sugar
finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cinnamon oil 
Finishing:
red food coloring (gel or liquid)
super-fine sugar 

Directions:

1.In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and cornstarch. Reserve.

2.In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, orange zest, and salt. Add vanilla and cinnamon oil, and incorporate.

3.Add the flour mixture and mix on very slow speed very briefly, just until a dough forms.

4.Remove the dough and weigh it. Add half the dough (by weight) back to the mixer and incorporate a few drops of red food coloring.

5.Form each portion of dough into a 12-inch long by 2¼-inch wide by 1-inch deep log. Wrap in plastic wrap and frig for at least 2 hours. (Yes, I had the help of custom made metal forms.)

6.When the dough is very firm, remove from the frig. Using a long thin knife, cut each log exactly the same into several lengthwise sections. Reassemble each log to its original size by swapping alternate sections with opposite colored dough strips. Press the strips tightly together without distorting the shape of the log. 

7.Rewrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill again for at least 2 hours, or as long as a couple of days.

8.When you are ready to bake, remove one log at a time from the frig and slice cookies widthwise into ¼-inch thick slices.

9.Arrange cookies, ½-inch apart, on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. If desired, sprinkle with super-fine.

10.Bake at 325° for about 20-22 minutes, rotating pans at the halfway point to ensure even browning.

11.Remove from the oven, immediately loosen each cookie with a thin spatula, and set on a wire rack to cool.

12.Store airtight in layers, each layer separated by wax paper, in a cookie tin, in a cool, dry place. These cookies improve with age. They keep for 3-4 weeks.

Makes about 8 dozen, 2½-inch by 1½-inch cookies.

Don't Forget The Milk!
Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Come Sit By My Fire and A Story I Will Tell

Rachel Harrie's Third Campainer Challenge:

Write a blog post in 300 words or less, excluding the title. The post can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should show:


that it’s morning,
that a man or a woman (or both) is at the beach
that the MC (main character) is bored
that something stinks behind where he/she is sitting
that something surprising happens.
Just for fun, see if you can involve all five senses AND include these random words: "synbatec," "wastopaneer," and "tacise." (NB. these words are completely made up and are not intended to have any meaning other than the one you give them).


Once you’ve posted your Challenge post on your blog, pop back here and link directly to it in the Linky List below (please make sure you include the direct link to your post, not just the link to your blog!).

Here is my entry:

Come Sit By My Fire and A Story I Will Tell

     Devouring darkness overtook this part of the beach in the early morning hours past midnight. Niamh yawned, more out of boredom, than being tired. From where she sat, Niamh shifted her eyesight backwards, the synbatic stench from the deserted house permeated her nostrils. Out of morbid curiosity, Niamh, arose, turned and walked toward the air of decay that hung in the air like a shroud.

      Rumors were rife about the house. She knew that when she bought hers right next door. Many nights she awakened from dreamful sleep, dreams so vivid, they seemed real. Dreams full of sounds and muffled screams, coming from this dreary house.  “No Wastopaneer Allowed” signs, hammered all around the tall fence, hid it from view. Bending she peered at a loose board in the fence. As quietly as she could, Niamh pulled away the loose board, enough to allow herself to the other side.


     In the clear twilight, she allowed her eyes to tacise. She could see a man and woman, sitting at a table set for two. The hole ridden cloth covered the table, ragged, aged and dirty. Her body tensed, as she took a few tentative steps forward. At the sounds of her footsteps, rats began leaping off the table. Horrified confusion, then realization she saw that the two people were skeletons, cobweb-shrouded corpses, with insects crawling out of the eye sockets. To the left was a large sizzling pot, dripping with blood.


     For a moment she saw nothing, but swirling darkness. Her screams were stifled by a hand covering her mouth, the roar of her own heartbeat thundering in her ears. She used the last of her remaining consciousness, to spot another table, laid set for one. On it a sign read. “Bone Appetit!” She slipped into the arms of fathomless darkness.


So that is my entry. 
Happy Halloween!

If you like my entry you can "like" it at: 

http://rachaelharrie.blogspot.com/2011/10/third-campaigner-challenge-show-not.html

My entry is No.: 63

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quotations For Inspiration

Happy Monday!  Here are a few Quotations to start your week:

The chief beauty about time
is that you cannot waste it in advance.
The next year, the next day, the next hour
are lying ready for you,
as perfect, as unspoiled,
as if you had never wasted or misapplied
a single moment in all your life.
You can turn over a new leaf every hour
if you choose.
- Arnold Bennett

It is our choices ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.
- J. K. Rowling

Those who believe they can do something and those who believe they can't are both right.
- Henry Ford

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Every thought we think is creating our future.
- Louise L. Hay

Gaelic Proverb:
Tús maith, leath na hoibre.
Meaning: A good start is half the work.

Have a Great start to your week, everyone!  Treasure awaits!