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.

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