Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Fabulous First Visit

I had a great visit with a kindergarten class last Friday. Thanks Mrs Nichols and Mrs Kamachi! We read Let’s Go! We pretended to walk, canoe, gallop, sail, chug-chug-choo-choo, fly fast, and blast into space. We found the dog Scot Ritchie hid in his illustrations.

Here’s me. There are kids there, honestly. I’m checking on permission about showing pics of the kids but for now here it is cropped in tightly to show only me.


This was my first reading for Let’s Go! It’s been several years since I last did presentations to classes. I love four and five year olds! But I was struck once more by the realization that it’s not to my best advantage to ask open-ended questions to this age group. Unless, that is, I wanted to hear about last night’s dinner or the time when that dad’s car got stuck and they had to call in the tow truck and....

They were an excellent audience. The best moment was when, after I read the line "Iron steam ships chewed the miles of sea," one boy at the front looked pensive and said “Chewed?” That prompted a great talk about why I chose that word as opposed to another (sailed, crossed, traveled, etc.) and about the feeling I had hoped to invoke in readers when they came across that word. We all chewed on that for awhile. (Cool, it worked!!)

I hope they enjoyed our time together as much as I did. Thank you!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Tag, I'm It! Oh no!

Thanks to Rebecca for tagging me. I had no clue what this was until now. But I'm having fun reading blogs I've never read before. So now that I'm IT (ooh, don't I wish that actually made me as Fly as it sounds!!) I'm supposed to write five random things about myself. Hmmmm... here goes:

1. I absolutely love barbecue Fritos corn chips But don't even bother looking at that annoying nutritional analysis thing. It's just depressing.

2. I confess to liking The Bratz music CDs, especially "Forever Diamonds". But don't get me started about the rest of their merchandise.

3. I have not read a novel written for adults in over two years. There are too many good YA and MG novels waiting for me to read them.

4. I am terrified of writing a first draft. I will avoid a first draft for as long as possible. I am so in love with the story in my head that fear of the drek that will appear once I write it down keeps me performing mental gymnastics to trick myself into writing.

5. Once I stop the madness and get some semblance of drek down, once I have a first draft done, I actually like revising.

And now I get to tag up to five other bloggers by naming them here and by leaving a comment on their blog to tell them they're tagged. Um, well, I don't know five others...or at least not well enough to tag. But here are three terrific ladies who also blog and also write, and since I know them a little may they forgive me if this annoys them (:>). I'm going to tag Fiona Bayrock, Mary Bowman-Kruhm, and Deborah Jackson. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You Scream, so I Scream, and I’m Not Talking for Ice Cream

Here's something I’ve got to get off my chest because it’s been there awhile. I’ve read a lot of stories both published and unpublished (the “un” variety as a writing instructor for the Institute of Children's Literature for the past ten years, and as a children’s magazine editor in my previous life). From all that reading I have come to realize that I have some language usage pet peeves. One of those is screaming. Yes, screaming.

How, you might well ask, could I be peeved about screaming? It's like this: When a story character starts screaming in complete sentences I go off into a peevey little fit (warning: it’s not pretty).

Who screams in complete sentences? The technical dictionary definition might disagree but to me a scream is an inarticulate and high volume expression of complete terror or pain. How do you even spell that?

Aarrgghgh!!!!!?

Nah, too tame. Only works in comics with a visual for the facial expression to get the right feel. To be honest I can’t even come up with a spelling for a scream. I’m a big fan of the obvious:

He screamed.

There you go. That’s all you need. Brief. Powerful. I think it conveys all you need to know.

So when I see something like this I want to scream:

“Get in here and put on some shoes or your socks are gonna turn black!” she screamed.

Okay, confession time. If you’ve ever procreated you’ve surely uttered a phrase similar to that at some point in your child-rearing career. But surely a better dialog tag would be:
hollered,
yelled, or
shouted.

Disagree? Think it has to be ‘scream’ because it needs to be a really forceful sentence and the woman is really, really mad? Imagine, then, that sentence uttered in a state of terror or pain or as a desperate last-ditch plea for salvation. Go on, imagine it. Here it is again:

“Get in here and put on some shoes or your socks are gonna turn black!” she screamed.

Now if in your story the effect you were going for really is some crazed and insane laundry-obsessed woman with spittle flying out of her mouth and maybe the suggestion of rabies about her, okay then. I concede. Go for it.

But if not may I humbly suggest:
hollered,
yelled, or
shouted.

I’m sure my man Roget could suggest a few dozen others. But then again that’s probably where the prolific use of scream in this way comes from in the first place, isn’t it? Thesaurus abuse! Thesaurus abuse!

So please, I beg you, save what little sanity I’ve got left. Save me from my peevey fits. If you’ve got to scream, scream with careful consideration, okay?

The English language...what a scream!


(What are your writing related pet peeves?)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Is Halloween Over Yet?



Perhaps I should finally face the fact that it's time to take down my Halloween decorations.

(He looks sort of festive with his cap of snow, though, don't you think?)




Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Word of the Week

Since last Thursday I have been unable to get one particular noun out of my head. That word, that noun, is:


Snow.


Thursday I woke up to:


Snow. Serious Snow. Check this out:


video


Because of this Snow the kids had a Snow Day.

Friday we got more Snow.

Saturday I hid from the Snow inside a hockey arena. Sunday more hockey and--oh, get this--more Snow!

Monday, guess what? Snow. And another Snow Day for the kids. Got them to shovel some Snow.

Note abandoned Snow shovel above perched precariously on top of the Snow on top of the table. Note too that not much of the Snow was actually shovelled.

Today? Uh-huh, Snow.

It's all whitish in the background. Trust me. This is Snow. It is snowing in this picture.

What's in the forecast for tomorrow? Give you three guesses but you know you'd be right if you said SNOW!!!!