Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weinachts Season

What a busy time here in Germany. The Christmas markets are open, the Gluehwein is flowing (and flowing), the Sekt is chilled and the parties are nightly.

I have a little something extra to celebrate this year, an early gift from Stories For Children Magazine. A non-fiction story accepted for their March edition. Their site is very professional and I am happy to be a part of their community. Thanks SFCM!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A New Thought

I had been working on a post when the news from another writer interrupted me. Mine was a "complaining" post. Having just spent two days at seminars revolving around communication with the common themes of bitterness, fear and anger, I found myself in a negative mindset.

However, reading about the breakthrough for a fellow writer has uplifted my spirit and re-inspired me.

It’s time to get back to work despite general surrounding chaos. It was a difficult week, a rejection on a PB that left me winded, as if I had been kicked in the gut--I was so sure this time it would be the one. Some difficult news on the teaching front, albeit not unexpected. And a houseful of sick kids.

No more excuses! It’s time to finish the MG and brainstorm some more PBs. It is difficult to embrace persistence when the timeline seems to be eternity, but it is the only way.

I hate regrets.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Remember

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. No one has forgotten.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some weeks it's better just to stay in bed. If only.

We got through Halloween with some pretty fancy scheduling and juggling, but it left us weakened for the week after.

What could go wrong, did.
Funny how it all happens at once. Or not.
Almost everything is back on track.

It’s always minor stuff, but man, when it's a bombardment of annoyances hanging on you like a heavy fog, it gets you down.

Always glad to see the back of one of those periods.

Goodbye, last week.

Hello, new week.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Reliquaries - My Secret Collection

A little secret -- I collect relics. It's a little unusual, but even as a kid I collected different things. Everyone else had a stamp collection and I collected and sorted sugar bags. Yes, those little paper envelopes you get in a diner.

Anyway, now I collect relics and the reliquaries they are presented in. Well, I don't actually take them home, they are tad more valuable than the sugar bags, but I do tick them off, categorize them and collect as many photos as possible.

On a recent trip, I was thrilled to add a few more to my collection. In Aix la Chapelle, a golden, jewel-encrusted reliquary held the beheading cloth of St. John the Baptist, the cloak of Mary, the swaddling clothes of baby Jesus and the loincloth of Jesus. These are pretty high up on the hit list. They fill out my collection of relics of Jesus which includes the Crown of Thorns, the crib, a drop of blood and piece of the True Cross.

At Amiens, a breathtaking High Gothic cathedral, I added the Head of St. John the Baptist, on the platter. Unfortunately, he didn't warrant a reliquary, but it meant a good close up of the relic.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


I love the fall! It's my favourite time of year. In Canada it's the time for country fairs, crisp breezes and in every direction, vivid bands of red, gold and orange. The endless shades of orange give me the most visual pleasure. I'm also partial to the glowing reds with a vibrance that you just can't find in a set of paints.

In Berlin, fall is often time for heavy rain. Actually, better described as solid rain. I also love the rain so this does not detract from my love of the season. However, this year we have been given an extra gift, the creeping colouring of the leaves.

My husband noticed it first. I convinced him that after 7 years he had forgotten how brilliant the Canadian fall really is. The odd redish tree amongst the sea of yellowish-brown is not unusual here, I said. It happens. Then I went for a drive.

My goodness! The reds, pinks and oranges are brushed down every street, they kiss the sides of apartments and fill the gardens. How unusual to find such a range and quantity of pigment here? It seems to be mainly oaks, which they say have been suffering from a destructive beetle. Perhaps, free of their parasite, they are once again able to shine. Perhaps, it is only serendipitous conditions encouraging the change.

I read once that the average person will consciously experience this natural art only 50 times in a lifetime. Attaching a finite number to the experience was sobering. I now appreciate each fall that passes and always point out the leaves to my children in hopes that they will exceed the magic 50 in their lifetime.

I hope Berliners appreciate this rare treat and add it to their lifetime count.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Working, Writing and Whining -- The Three W's - W is the new R

Don't get me wrong, I like to work. I love working with kids. I feel right at home in a school. And thinking up a new way to teach the same stuff keeps me up at night, adrenalin flowing, synapses-a-cracklin'. I'm energized.

I do miss my writing. I miss getting lost for 3 or 4 hours in a story, playing with words and reading out loud to find just the right texture of prose slipping off the tongue.

I still write. I find time between classes to jot down new story ideas. I spend Saturday and Sunday mornings on the couch, laptop open, kids immersed in cartoons. It's productive. But it's different. It isn't all consuming.

Maybe this is just the change I need to find my way to publication.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Revising, revising, revising

Sorry, got confused, not revising a picture book.

I'm feeling a teeny bit proud and whole lot scared. I'm within 3000 words of my 20,000 word goal. A goal I set for hashing out the chapters and plot of my first MG before I begin revising and polishing. Well, I should reach that goal by the end of the weekend and the revising can begin Monday. It coincides nicely with the first day back to school for the kids.
The question is, can I do it? Can I make it a page turning, intricately-woven mystery with characters everyone wants to follow? Gosh, I hope so. I’m sure going to try, but it scares the bejeebers out of me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Boar Sighting!

For my loyal readers (that's just me), I had to alert y'all. I had another boar sighting. This time just a mother and baby, in the middle of the day, crossing the street.


They waited. Even the animals follow the rules here.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Writing Excitement

I love a new idea. I love a new story. I love how a fresh idea builds in my head. It pokes and pulls in my mind until I actually get a physical rush as the story lines and plot come together. Sometimes, the idea never quite manifests itself on paper--never quite comes together in PB form. Those stories I have to drop, bury, so I can get on with other ones. Then I tried something new. I started to write down a new idea in chapter form—and it’s pouring out of me.

Tentatively entitled, ‘Lukas of the Lake’ it’s an environmental mystery of a fantastical nature. I’m so excited that I have no trouble sticking to my 1000 words a day and often surpass them.

It’s nice to wake up every morning with an adrenalin rush and bang out a chapter. I know I’m in for months of revising. And I’m sure I’ll hate every word as I wrestle with my critique group’s advice, but at the moment, I’m cruising on the natural high of a story coming together.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Easy-Bake Dreams

We're deep enough into summer holidays that it's necessary to add some distractions to the day. We've already seen the TWO children's movies at the theatre, paddled in the backyard pool (spicing things up periodically with a variety of sprinklers) and hiked through all the nearby parks, woods and hills. Did I forget the blueberry picking? Despite this schedule, there are still a few more weeks of relaxation left.

Time for some ingenuity. The Easy-Bake oven is a surefire winner. With 3 boys, I own the Queasy-Bake oven, complete with spooky light-up skull face. It's green, not pink, as it should be. Instead of fluffy tea cakes with creamy icing, we make moldy, oldy cake and crunchy bone cookies.
I used to have one; avocado green range. Mine never worked. Not knowing much about electronics at the time, I never noticed it was a 2-bulb jobby. One was out. It didn't matter. I ate half-cooked, sloppy cakes and thought I was the belle of the party.

The dream remains the same. Half-cooked, fingerprinted, runny cakes are devoured with pride. Self-baked and gourmet decorated. Great summer fun! Heck, the cleaning-up fills half a day at least!

Friday, July 25, 2008


It was a beautiful night! The cloudless sky a rare treat, the crowds jubliant and the beer tents busy. To Americans back home the party air in the Tiergarten surrounding Obama's speech may have seemed disrespectful or perhaps, shallow.
But beer is the norm here, even at a pre-school gathering (although, just the parents are served). And Germans know how to keep a crowd in order. The police are calm, the rules implicit and the weapons at the ready. The crowd was there to hear Obama.
The stage was set, but would Obama mesmorize? Obama in Berlin
I'm not a political analysist or even a journalist. But in the words of my 8-year-old, "I liked to listen to him even though he used some big words."
That is Obama's charm. His voice is soothing, his words intelligent, at times fiery, but his posture and tone never arrogant or combative.
He is a politician people will listen to. They may not agree with him, they may not like him, but they will listen. This is the most we can ask for in a world leader and certainly much better than we have now.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


We'll be celebrating with a BBQ and Canadian Beaver cupcakes. Why are we all proud Canadians? United, not only by beer and mosquitoes, but an attitude....Canadian Living Magazine.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Germany's in the finals

I have a house full of happy/miserable boys. Miserable because they stayed up well past their bedtime. And happy because Germany will go on to the finals.

I'm all for Germany winning. I'm all for the boys watching soccer. I'm not as convinced my boys should watch the final game on Sunday night. Can I put up with the aftermath of bickering, sniping and tears once again?

Oh, come on, Mom. It's almost summer. Hmmmm.

Okay. One more night.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Picture Books

I'm not sure I get them.

I thought I did. I've been receiving personals, invitations to send more and I had been feeling increasingly confident that I understood the format. Then a critique came in. Full of questions. I thought we weren't to describe things. I thought things should be left for the illustrator. I must have thought wrong. Now I don't know. I think I'm back to square one.

Maybe, like everyone else, I need to think about longer works.

Maybe, it's time to move on.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Special Visitor!

I had the honor of hosting a real, live picture book author. Carole Boston Weatherford is spending some weeks touring about Europe and made a stop near me.

Unfortunately, she had to endure the roofers starting work the day before her arrival, a hectic 3-game baseball week and the normal chaos of my 3 sons. I'm not sure she was well rested or calm after leaving our home, but she certainly was gracious.

Most exciting was the chance to tour Olympic Stadium with her and discuss her new book, Jesse Owens: Fastest Man Alive. Can't wait to read it with my kids!

I wish her well with the rest of her visits.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Tanning the old fashioned way?

I have to confess, since getting precariously close to 40, I have been taking more time and care with my appearance. I’ve been believing more adverts, trying more products and spending more money. I try not to be gullible. I try to choose fixes that seem logical and simple to use. That being said, I was disconcerted to discover that the learning curve for self-tanning cream is much steeper than I anticipated.

The first question that comes to mind is, why? I’ve never before felt the need to look tanned. I’m going to go with the best answer I have, why not? It seemed so easy. Slap it on and in 3 days, voila, a sunless glow. Everyone else can do it. It’s easily purchased and affordable. Yeah, why not?

So, I slapped it on. Everyday for 3 days. Perhaps because I’m new to this cure-in-a-bottle thing, I didn’t take into consideration some vital points.

1. How you slap it on. I might have had more success if I applied it evenly. The big white patch on my right thigh stands out a bit more than I'm comfortable with.

2. Colour match. I neglected to account for the colour difference between my legs and my naturally sun-kissed arms. I suppose wearing some widely patterned shirt may make this less noticeable.

3. Where you slap it on. I stopped at the bottom of my legs, as you would. I look like I went wading in a yellowish pond and forgot to take off my white ankle socks.

In my favour, I knew enough not to experiment on my face. Live and learn. Guess I had better go back and read the instructions and find out how to remove my tan-in-a-bottle.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Parents have a lot to worry about these days. I worry about my kids crossing the road safely, the possibility of bullies, strangers, broken limbs, not eating enough, eating too much, etc. etc. Okay, maybe I worry too much. However, last week I was confronted with a new worry, a worry that had never occurred to me even in my darkest nightmares.


We live in a large city, full of cars and trucks, and factories and buildings. One doesn't expect feral beasts to be a common concern.

The weird part is (if you don't already think herds of wild boar are weird), is that they're actually quite dangerous. Not that I'm saying they are violent, attack boar, but that if startled, and with young, they can gore you. There are several cases of boar injury in the city each year.

So, with our family lessons on how to cross the road, wear a bicycle helmet and don't talk to strangers, I now offer some sage advice on how not to be gored by a roving herd of wild pigs!

And I'm going to have to rethink my capacity for worry.

I couldn't make this stuff up, LA Times

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Do I need some kind of intervention?

Ooops! I apologize. It appears my draft posted. It was a WIP and will reappear another day.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Well, it is been a week full of laundry. The discovery of lice last Friday, followed by a week of vomiting as a virus went from son-to-son, has meant endless loads.

Not much writing, but a fair amount of contemplation. It's time for something good to happen. Hard to keep plugging along without a little glimmer of hope.

However, the long nights and bleach fumes brought forth a new spark. Not sure if I can pull it off, but I'm up for the attempt. To change music to words. Hmmmmm. Now a plot.

Friday, April 25, 2008


I was going to post about a very lame class trip to riding camp where, in 5 days, the kids only got to ride once around a corral (this probably illustrates the point sufficiently), but the discovery of lice on my middle son has preempted those complaints.

How can lice spread through a classroom and remain there so long? A chronic question when one 'googles' head lice.
I suspect the answer lies in the amount of work it requires to remove said lice from a child and from the house the child is in. Parents hardly have time to pack a proper lunch, let alone strip and wash the bedding every 2 days as they recommend.

But here in Germany, with everyone hanging their laundry to dry, I'm sure the little buggers never get properly killed off before they get tucked back in for a cozy sleep with the host. The use of herbal remedies and ancient, chemical-free treatments also play a part.

Little do they know I'm not German. I'll get the critters by the end of the weekend -every last one. I have no qualms about using insecticide and a hot dryer. And the kids will all wear a bathing cap under their batting helmet at baseball tomorrow.

Aghhhh! My head is itchy!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

No water, no butterflies

In my absence, no one spritzed the butterflies. Now they're carefully pinned in my son's insect collection. A fate better than dinner?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I've been TAGGED!

The rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to Candy's Blog (she tagged me) once you've posted your three sentences.

Okay. Now the book. Hmmm. Should I admit to the one that I'm contemplating taking to riding camp? Perhaps, the other. A more acceptable read, The Bookseller of Kabul. But it's in the other room and my junky novel is packed. The nearest book is here on the shelf. Let's see Jasper Fforde or E. Annie Proulx. Close my's The Big Over Easy by Fforde.

" It was worth over a grand then!
"You did?" asked Jack, suddenly feeling a bit stupid.
"Yes. "

The most difficult part, 5 people.

Claira Jo

Friday, April 18, 2008

Enoch the Butterfly

We were all pleased to have our butterfly habitat work so well. But now I have two butterflies that continue to live, long past their average lifespan (10 days to 2 weeks). They are over a month old and still going strong. It must be a horrible existence, sitting there, day after day, waiting for your daily sugar-water spritz.
We can't release them because the evening temeratures often hit the freezing mark, not to mention, a story from the kita teacher:

The pre-school raised butterflies last spring. When Metamorphosis was complete, they had a grand release ceremony in the back garden. All the little children cheered as the butterflies headed for the sky. (Can't you picture it?)

The first got a meter upward before,


Snatch! A bird gobbled it up.

Cheers turned to tears. The teachers were then too busy to monitor the fate of the other butterflies, but it couldn't have ended well.

Maybe life in a tent is better than freedom?

I still feel guilty.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bologna revisited

How can I sum up the Bologna experience? The chicken way out is to only recount what I learned from the weekend. I think I’m going to take it.

From Paul Zelinsky, I finally understand why I’m not an illustrator. The intense, almost compulsive (no offence), attention to detail needed to create a final product (in just the right shade) is not something I even imagined, let alone could reproduce. I’m thrilled that there are such talented, devoted individuals out there to illustrate my future books. His excitement was contagious.

Candy Gourlay, as I said below, was incredibly funny and very convincing. Everyone, at the very least, should be on Facebook! And I’m taking those pictures now, before makeup no longer helps me.

Jana Novotny Hunter left me with a feeling of satisfaction. I understood the beauty she was talking about, the way the pictures and words worked flawlessly together. I hope I’m able to create words that an illustrator can bring to life. I really wish I had the art in me.

Susan Fletcher was very helpful. She had terrific writing exercises and more importantly, some reminders about how to add detail and historic facts to manuscripts. Very good tip about grounding your fantasy in reality. Should have already known that one, but it was new to me.

David Saylor likes comic books. Good enough for me!

Kathleen Duey was nothing short of inspirational! Fabulous reviewing tips – for your own work and others. She made me believe that with hard work, I will eventually find success. Don’t worry, I’ll keep on writing while I dream.

Babette Cole was passionate about children and understands them like I do. They love the truth and her books bring them that truth so beautifully. By the end, I was all fired up to save the picture book, the written word and the WORLD!

First Pages was perhaps the most useful session. I guess I never thought one word could make or break you. But, there you go. Big reality check.

Why I loved this book? This was eye opening. Clearly, each editor loved their book for their own reasons. Some for the story, some for the illustrations, some for the combination and some for the concept. It was depressing. It may not be about the quality of my work, but whether I can find a match for it. That may never happen.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck

A quick nod to David Saylor at Scholastic. Finally, another individual who understands my passion.

Everything I learned about life, I learned from Uncle Scrooge comic books.
My history, mythology and geography may have a ducky flavour, but it was all correct!

I will yell it from the mountain tops and speak it calmly in the staff rooms, "It is okay to read comic books." In fact, it's enlightening!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bologna: Book Fair and SCBWI Conference

I’ve left it too late. I fear the buzz of Bologna and the sparks of inspiration have worn off. And after only 3 days back in my mundane world! Let’s see if I can pull myself back to the weekend.

In that little cafĂ© off the main square, it was a perfect afternoon of coffee and conversation. It was truly wonderful to put names and avatars, to actual faces. I loved meeting the women from the Blueboards and eCritique. They were all engaging, hilarious and tons of fun. I think that was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. I’m afraid that I talked too much (as usual) and shared WAY too many anecdotes, but I do hope I was not too annoying.

The conference was well worth the trip. Although, much of the information, techniques and insights were about longer works, much of it can be applied to picture books.

Candy Gourlay was even funnier than she is on her blog, HERE and her insight into current technological trends was a good kick-in-the-pants. I was secretly relieved to have already begun my exploration of the web. I was reluctant to start, but now I feel confident it’s a worthwhile expenditure of time. Now, back to some other writing. I’ll return to Bologna a bit later.

BLAST! Technological difficulty. Can't find the correct USB cable. Picture to follow.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spiderwick Chronicles

Awesome afternoon with 3 young men today -- ate a fastfood picnic on the subway down to the theatre where we saw Spiderwick Chronicles. First, I was delighted to be in the company of such interesting and courteous youth. Happier still that 2 out of the 3 were mine -- bodes well for the years to come. And the movie was a treat. None of us had read the books so the entire storyline was a surprise. I know, where have we been? Well...Germany. We're a little behind on a few things here, less advertising, less commercialism and therefore we're a little slower to get on the newest trend. However, I digress.

Had a fabulous experience that is difficult to adequately put into words. When I was six, maybe seven, I wrote my first story. I remember having this need to record, in a permanent form, this fantasy I was thinking through. So I penciled it into an old journal. I still have it, somewhere. It was about the little people that live on the seeds of a dandelion and are in charge of making sure the wish comes true. You know, that bit about making a wish and then blowing all of the dandelion seeds into the air. Imagine my wonder when my little people were brought to life in that movie.

It was such a mind blowing feeling that I have revived my drive to see my characters 'come to life.' It is one thing to describe what is in your head, it is another to find out that your description brings the same image into someone else’s mind. Cool!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lovely Life

About a month ago, we became the proud owners of 6 wee larvae. They arrived in a tiny plastic case filled with leaves. We fed them organic cabbage (sadly, the amount of pesticide on normal cabbage is said to exterminate them--as it should, I guess). And fed them and fed them and fed them. They were "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" times 6.

Wowza! What excitement to see them grow and expand. Unfortunately, one didn't make it through the first week. Another, always much smaller, died just before metamorphosis to pupa. But 4 attached themselves, made a chrysalis and spent 10 days transforming.

3 out of 4 have turned into butterflies and the boys couldn't be happier if it were the birth of a baby. Four of us stood around cheering each shift and wiggle as the first butterfly emerged.

Now the real test of our habitat, will they lay eggs and repeat the cycle? The boys have friends that are willing to take extra larvae off our hands. Hmmm, maybe I should give up writing and farm cabbage butterflies.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Lost Teeth

Yesterday, my middle son lost a tooth. He put it under his pillow and this morning was happy to inform us that the tooth fairy remembered to visit.

I took it as a good omen and I mailed off the full. No regrets and many hopes invested in that envelope. If only I had my own star to wish on.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy.

Wow! Crumpled Paper has had a very busy week. Two grant proposals, one S.O.S. crit (from me) and our weekly submission. Everyone has been writing and critiquing their little eyes out. Good luck to everyone with their projects!

In the last few months a transition has occurred in our group, a subtle slide to longer works. Weekly crits are now chapters instead of complete stories. Learning to write and critique a longer work means we have all had to do our homework. Brushing up on punctuation and learning to write in a consistent voice has meant that all of our writing has become stronger.

I’m just a little worried that I've lost a terrific PB group and found a beginning CB group.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Life is Strange.

Life tosses such unexpected curves. Modern communication means we instantly know the good and the bad. From afar, it's easy to rejoice, but giving comfort and help is a different matter. We're often left with a feeling of helplessness. There isn't much one can do, except think good thoughts and share them. And so that's what we're doing.

My heart goes out to H and John, and I hope they both have a speedy return to full health.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bologna Book Fair -- Here I come!

We have reached the countdown. At the end of the month I will be heading to my first SCBWI conference; in Bologna, no less. I'm really excited.

First, I think it will be a personal challenge to experience an in-face critique. I mostly operate with the anonymity of the internet. When my critique group doesn't like it, I can take a few minutes, or hours, before replying.

Second, it will be nice to meet some people who understand the entire process of becoming a writer. I won't have to tell any of them that I don't need to send the illustrations with my manuscript since I don't illustrate. I won't have to explain the length of time a submission sits in the slush before their 'no response unless interested' can be applied.

It will be refreshing to talk technique and structure. It is my belief (perhaps mistaken) that I'm not just striving to make the perfect story, but also to make it in the perfect picture book format. And let's not forget, the perfect cover letter to go with it. I hope to pick up some handy tidbits to apply to my manuscripts, past and future.

And selfishly, I'm really looking forward to travelling by myself and having some quiet moments to ponder life. My life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Arrr, Matey! Another party behind us.

20 birthday celebrations have come and gone under our roof. And, if I do say so myself, we are getting pretty good at them.

We have filled the neighbours' yards with exploding alka-seltzer rockets, offered Potions Class while transforming the house into Hogwarts, taught spies-in-training how to break through laser-driven burglar alarms and this past Saturday, held a cannon ball battle between pirate galleons in our living room.

I guess it's another form of creative expression. It's just like writing a story. You need a good hook (the invitation), a believable plot (belief is in the details) and an entertaining, well-paced storyline (the games need to connect to the theme and to each other). If you have all of that, then you have a birthday party that comes alive for the kids. More importantly, it leaves a lasting memory long after the presents have gone.

Only 21 more to go!!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Aw, Shucks!

Well, I didn't win the query contest, but I did get two, count 'em, two, great critiques from The Write Marbles.

It was a great idea for a contest, very helpful, lots of fun and extremely uplifting. Nice to have some positive feedback and encouragement.

Now to polish a few more query letters and get a couple of manuscripts circulating.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A good start to 2008!

I entered a query writing contest with, The Write Marbles, and was thrilled to find out I placed as one of the finalists. What a nice way to start the year. They have a great site, full of lots of writing tidbits. Check them out at:

Today, Crumpled Paper is ahead. I just found out that one of our members made the cut and is sending her PB manuscript to Blooming Tree Press. She is one of 20 in the running for their single slot. Way to go, Abby. May R&G go all the way!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Preschool Field Trips

It’s that time of year again. The Kitas (nursery school) have begun planning for the big 3-day trip to the country. Overnight trip in preschool you ask? Really? Yes, it’s true. Two teachers take their class of 15, three and four-year-olds, to a lovely retreat in the country. Always near a body of water and usually on a farm. They take them by train and public transportation. Is my 3-year-old going? Not a chance!

However, it’s always a difficult time for me. My calm, negative response stirs up trouble. I don't buckle under blackmail, nasty phone calls or guilt. Nor am I swayed by attempts to convince my children that they will be friendless if they don’t take part. I have been through this already--twice.

No, I say. Over and over again. There is no need for a toddler to take an overnight trip, far from home, away from their parents. Security and dependability are what a toddler needs. Not fear, uncertainty or worry. There will be many years to come when a school trip, away from parents, is important for self-esteem, independence and pride. Now is not that time.

Many parents see it as a child-free weekend. A few see it as a time to toughen up their toddlers. One or two just don’t like to make waves.

And then there is me.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Not that I really have the time. I mean, I should be writing. That chapter book is not getting finished by itself.

However, I had to take a peek at Facebook and was surprised to find myself sucked in.
It's a strange concept. You make friends with people you already know and then, do nothing. It's a collecting hobby. How many "friends" do you have? I reacquainted myself with some high school associates and a few others that I’ve lost contact with, but once they have agreed to become friends, that's it.

I kinda like it. No guilt. Your profile tells the tale. No need to write lengthy correspondences. Just a quick nod and get on with your life --the electronic version of tipping your hat. I could get into it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


It has been a very productive last 2 weeks. Finished two stories for the Highlights contest. Crumpled Paper was very helpful in honing my direction and had some very inspiring ideas! A critique group is a vital part of the process. I'm really enjoying the feedback.

I'm part of another crit group with the SCBWI in the UK. I've been doing and reading quite a few critiques, but have not got much feedback for mine yet. I'm learning more about the UK market through reading the posts and comments. All good!

Also joined Facebook. Nice to see so many high school friends are doing well. Lots with families and exciting jobs.

Getting my stories polished for the Bologna conference. I'm getting nervous about the in-face critique. YIKES! Hope I don't take it personally when someone is sitting right across from me.

I've set up my accommodation, my tickets and even have business cards for my new contacts. Should be fun and hopefully, furthers my career. One can only hope.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A New Year

I waved the white flag. I did. The final rejection letter came on Christmas Eve and I gave it all up; the writing, the subbing, the hope.

The new year rang in here like WWIII, as it does every year. Nothing like it anywhere. Over 2 hours of city-wide fireworks. The noise is unbelievable; the smoke that hangs over the sky, choking; the mess that lines the streets and gardens the next day, very un-German. As I listened to the pounding and whistling of relentless rockets and volcanoes, I knew I had another story in mind. I knew I would creep back to my computer and check the Blue Boards. I knew the next day would find me sneaking off to my laptop to revise. I would find myself back at, off to check out .

I’ve begun submitting, creating and polishing again. And I think I am doing it with a vigor that has been missing for some months. The Bologna conference is just a few short months away, there is the Highlights contest to think about, Crumpled Paper has great stories for me to critique and most importantly, I am weeks away from receiving another rejection letter. Thank goodness the industry is so slow!

To a successful 2008 for all!!

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