Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tuesday Tip #12: Raising Book-lovers

The "plan" for today's Tuesday Tip was to write something clever and inspiring for all you aspiring rhyme writers out there. It would only be fair for me to share a little bit of my knowledge of rhyme, meter and poetic expression in general.

Unfortunately, a post like that just takes too much advance planning, so it will have to wait.

But all is not lost, because my son inspired my next Tuesday Tip last night when I was tucking him into bed. He pulled The Monster at the End of this Book off the shelf, to read before bed. That book has been read and read and read more than any other book in our house. Even more than Bear Snores On!

When my girls were tiny, I would read that book with as much expression and enthusiasm as I could muster. With my girls, they just loved books, but that one was their favorite.

When my little guy was tiny, the love of books didn't come as naturally. He wouldn't sit through more than a couple pages of any book I tried to read to him. But I was determined. So, one day when he was 2, I sat him on my lap and forced him (yeah, I'm a mean mommy) to listen as I read The Monster at the End of this Book. It was like witnessing a miracle right there on my lap. "Read it again!" he said. So I did. And then I read it again. I must have read it four or five times in a row before finally telling him my voice had had enough.

My point is that if you want to get your kids to love books (or at least learn to love a good story), you need to do these few simple things:

1. Start as young as possible

2. Read with gusto! No monotonous reading allowed. Use expression when you read to your kids (I know you can sound like an ogre if you try). They'll enjoy the experience so much more and they'll want to relive it!

3. Pick age-appropriate books that are action-packed, with lots of repetition and fun language (and short, as a general rule). I say age-appropriate, but that doesn't mean a toddler or preschooler won't enjoy listening as you read a middle-grade novel to your older kids. But especially for the little guys and gals, here are a few of the books that my kids got into when they were little:

Hop! Plop! (not just because it's Corey's book, my son really loved it)
The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss
The Monster at the End of this Book
David Goes to School, by David Shannon
Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson
Tiki Tiki Tembo
Click, Clack, Moo, by Doreen Cronin
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Picture Windows

Here is a view of some of the mayhem that goes on in my house. Can you see the little foam "bullet" striking the loveseat?

Sometimes, ya just gotta go crazy and have fun!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday Tip #11: Taking a Brain Vacation

At times when I'm frustrated and stuck on a story, or my mind's been runnin' a hundred miles an hour for days on end, I know that I need give my mind a break. This is not the time to do a puzzle, read a mystery, or try to sort through the filing cabinet. No, it's a time to do something that will let my brain rest, let it meander naturally rather than force it down a path ridden with roadblocks. A time to do something that doesn't require the use of a million worn-out brain cells.

I pick something with a lot of mindless repetition, such as vacuuming or picking up a crochet project. Once I set into the rhythm of what I'm doing, my mind is free to roam, unharnessed. As a writer, this works beautifully for me because solutions to long stressed-over problems in stories will often just mosey on into my brain.

Here are some activities that I use as mini-vacations for my brain:

Crocheting, but only an existing project. Starting a new one uses too many brain cells.

Walking on the treadmill.

Soaking in the tub. No rhythm here, but somehow it still works. Go figure.

Doodling aimlessly.

Vacuuming. For some reason, other types of cleaning don't do it for me.

Folding laundry.

Pulling weeds or trimming the roses.

Walking around my favorite store.

I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting, and possibly even more yet to be discovered. How do you give your brain a vacation?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Check it out!

Okay, guys and gals, head on over to Tara's blog and check out the interview with Corey Rosen Schwartz (a.k.a. my PB-writing partner and author of Hop! Plop! ). It's educational. It's amusing! It's a must-read!

Tuesday Tip # 10: Your Story Your Way

There are a lot of rules out there about writing. Lots and lots of guidelines to follow. Plenty of best-seller lists and writing trends that may (or may not) give you an idea of what types of stories SELL. But, if you want to enjoy the writing process, my advice is to forget about writing something that will sell. Just write!

Every story wants to be told. Why else would they creep up on us in the shower or whisper tantalizingly into our ears at night? But it's not enough to tell a story--you need to tell it the way it demands to be told.

You could try to lead your story, to force it down roads that it's inclined to avoid. What good will that do you? You may reach your destination, but will you have enjoyed getting there? Will your story be as great as it could be?

Let your story lead you where it wants to go. Who knows what adventures await!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Inside of an Envelope

This drawing was done by my son (except for the dragon--he asked me to draw that for him). Do you see the plane crashing into the spewing lava? The mountain with flowers? The spiky tower?

What better use for the inside of a once rejection-filled return envelope?