So here we are, November 21st.    Day #21 of PiBoIdMo.

It's PiBoIdMo 2015- have you signed up??
It's PiBoIdMo 2015- have you signed up??

I'm really glad I decided to change my goals this year, because there is no way I would have met last year's goals this month.  It took me until Friday night to read any of the PiBoIdMo posts on Tara Lazar's Blog.    This week was a whirlwind of errands, tasks, and diversions from getting anything done, let a lone writing!

So-  I read the posts and I actually DID get a few ideas jotted down as well- but still at only 17 ideas....I need 21 to be at the PiBoIdMo goal....

hmmmm..... what to do?

Well- this week's posts have helped.  I've got some general notes on a post-it to help me focus:

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The one I think I'm spending the most time considering right now is:  Don't limit your genre.

With all the time I've been considering twaddle vs. living books, the more I am actually drawn to a non-fiction genre. This is not the genre  I was really drawn to before, other than the manuscript I wrote about my saint about a year ago.  That manuscript was not accepted by the editor and has collected dust at the side of my desk for some time.  However, I have spent a bit of time as of late thinking over two possible alternatives to revising my original vision of that manuscript.  And I've thought about some other possible ideas for that genre (yes, some of them are among the 17 PiBoIdMo ideas for this month).  So among the other posts from this week, Nancy Tupper's post today at PiBoIdMo has gotten my wheels turning again.

But alas, it's Saturday and time to catch up on all that didn't get done through the week.  Hopefully I'll find a way to make a bit of time doing some more writing later today but for now, it's back to real life!

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It's PiBoIdMo 2015-  have you signed up??

So here I am at Day#7.  I was already feeling overwhelmed this morning with so much to do but was determined I was not going to fail my goals in the first week!  So while I'm surrounded by house clutter (my computer barely fits on the kitchen counter as I sit here with my now cold coffee attempting to write this post)and house clutter really drives me crazy, I was determined to finish reading and taking notes on this week's posts!  If you are new to the concept of PiBoIdMo, be sure to click on my posts (see the tag) about it and also hop on over to Tara Lazar's website where all of this is happening!

Honestly, I have really mixed feelings about PiBoIdMo this year for so many different reasons.  I guess the biggest reason is that I just know I don't have the time in my life right now to really dedicate to my writing time the way I dream of and feel is necessary to really put my words on the page and edify them enough to make them publishable let alone take the time to find the right editor/publishing house that would be interested in it!  But I don't want to completely give up on it (my dream) either.

I also have an issue with today's market.  You see, I've spent so much time learning about Charlotte Mason and the difference between living books and twaddle, that I'm realizing that the stories I want to write, don't necessarily fit into today's market.  And the more I look at the books that are selling like hotcakes in today's picture book market, the more I kind of want to cringe.   Today's stories are funny, creative and highly entertaining, and for that they have value. I love the imagination, dedication, and work by the authors and illustrators to put these creative ideas into book form and into the hands and minds of children.  But I now wonder if they really ignite the mind to learn and hunger for more like the Living Books I'm reading to my young son or are most of them truly twaddle?  I think there is a need for books that are entertaining- they have merit- but as I go through the library now and look for quality books that will edify my child's mind, I realize just how much twaddle there is out there.  While I think books that are just for entertainment and a few laughs are fun and not necessarily bad, I'm realizing the majority of today's market is that....   they are not full of rich vocabulary,  high literary quality, or truly leaving an impact on my child's mind that leads him to learn more about a subject, person or time in history.  And that's frustrating to me.

I  think now of my personal favorite manuscript that I have submitted to critique groups....  the biggest common factor they tell me is they love the language of my story but I need to cut it out as it doesn't fit for today's market. Really? We're not allowed to have rich vocabulary that entices the child and challenges their thinking and , gosh,  shame on us for trying to actually teach them some new words???

Sigh.

So I'm torn.  Maybe I'm not cut out for the picture book world of today.

Or maybe I need to stick with non-fiction?

I don't know.

But I do know that when I finally  finished reading the posts for the week this morning (I started earlier in the week while sitting in the ER....but we won't go there...lol...don't worry- all is completely fine), I really enjoyed listening to what most of the authors had to say...  though I did have that word 'twaddle' in the back of my mind for some of the ideas discussed....  and I really LOVED the post for today by Jessixa Bagley! Jessixa wrote about making lists...and I am a HUGE list maker.  Though often poked fun of by my daughter and her friend for all of my lists, they keep me on track and my mind a little more focused and organized and a good habit I refuse to give up- so poke all you want- I love my lists!

So now I breathe a sigh of relief that no matter my mixed feelings, I have at least accomplished my goals for the week for PiBoIdMo (I'm saying that even though I only have 3 ideas listed rather than 7-  it's my prerogative to do so)...  and now I'll go off and try to do some housework....and work on making up for those 4 missing ideas.

Thanks for taking time to listen to me ramble on about PiBoIdMo 2015...

What do YOU think of the books in today's children's market?

 

 

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Doodle photo by Nemo/Pixabay
Doodle photo by Nemo/Pixabay

 

I haven't posted a writing exercise in quite some time, and being that I'm doing lots and lots of writing during this grand month of "National Picture Book Month", an idea struck me. During November, I am participating in PiBoIdMo over at Tara Lazar's website.  Among authors and editors who are contributing posts to Tara's blog during the month, there are also illustrators.  It's through those posts and others that I have formed this idea.

DOODLE.

Yep, that's right.  Doodle.

What exactly is doodling, you may ask?  Perhaps you've never been bored in class?  According to Wikipedia, a doodle is  "an unfocused or unconscious drawing made while a person's attention is otherwise occupied. Doodles are simple drawings that can have concrete representational meaning or may just be abstract shapes."

Allow yourself or your child to just doodle away....maybe five minutes, maybe twenty. Or maybe just doodle all day amidst doing other activities.  Just pick up a pencil and a nice clean sheet of paper and doodle, doodle, DOODLE.  Draw a cat, a dog, a purple hippopotamus.  Draw a tree, a mountain, a brown chair broken to pieces.  Just doodle whatever comes to mind. And don't worry about whether it LOOKS like a cat or dog or purple hippopotamus or whatever it is that you are 'drawing'....because this doodle is just for YOU.  It's not for art class, it's not for your family, it's not for anyone but you and your imagination.

Now....sit back and look.

What did you draw?  Shhh!  Don't tell....it's just for you, remember?

Is it a person?  An animal?  An object?  Take some time to look it over.  You may not have completed the doodle.  Where is this person, animal or object?  In the woods?  The kitchen? Africa?  No, you don't HAVE to doodle that, but hey -  if the mood strikes, go for it!  But think:   ask yourself questions about it, or-  ohhh....wait!  Ask the picture!

What?

Yes, I said, "Ask the picture".  You do know that writing takes imagination, right?  Not 'crazy' - just imagination.

Photo by Nemo/Pixabay
Photo by Nemo/Pixabay

If that picture could talk, what would it say?  Ask it.  "What are you doing today?  How are you?  Why are you laughing?  Why is your leg all twisted?  How did you get those spots?"  I can't help you too much with those questions because I can't see what you doodled....  but go ahead, have a conversation with your doodle.  It's okay, I won't tell anyone.... go ahead, I'll wait.

Okay?  Now write your story.  And don't hesitate to go back and ask your doodle some more questions when you get stuck. It may want you to add some more details.  It may want you to doodle another scene in the story. That's okay- whatever works to create that great story.

One more thing!  DON'T hesitate to STOP.  Yeah, it's okay.  You don't have to crank out a doodle and a great story all in the same sitting, or even two sittings.  Think about it for a while.  Some of the greatest stories are created not at a desk, but on walks, drives, or in the shower.  Take some time to think about your characters, your setting and most of all - what's the story ABOUT?  Without really thinking about those things, you'll get stuck.  So it's okay to pause or even completely stop for  awhile and really think things through before committing to pen and paper.

Enjoy the process.  It's fun!

And do come back and tell me later of your success!

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hand-325321_1280Writing is a passion.

It keeps me calm.  It allows me to express myself.  It makes me come alive.

So November is like a little drop of heaven.

 PiBoIdMo  is an AMAZING experience. And it's not just about reading one post and writing down one idea. It's about feeding a need and being a part of a feeding frenzy with hundreds, no thousands, others like me or all feel that same need.

I've done well this week with my goals.  I wrote them in my notebook.

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I have read the posts every day this week.  There hasn't been many exercises but certainly there's been many ways to change our train of thought and open more pathways to creativity - and that I HAVE DONE!  Thank you dear contributors to those wonderful posts on Tara's blog! They have been a great inspiration.  I have definitely written down my minimum of one idea per day.  Today, Day #15 of PiBoIdMo, I have a total of 22 ideas already!  YAY! I actually used one already for a full rough draft! And, yes, this week I did MUCH better at obtaining the minimum of writing for 20 minutes per day (on a picture book manuscript - not just the blog).

If you haven't signed up but still want to be a part of PiBoIdMo, head over to Tara's blog (see link above) and read the posts. Registration is over, so you'll have missed out on opportunity for prizes, but NOT on gaining some insightful help and aides for your creativity!

So how are YOU doing with YOUR writing goals?  And if you're not a writer, what ARE YOUR GOALS?

 

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Do you see those exclamation points in the title?  I've been 'accused' of using too many.  I can't help it... I get passionate when I write.  It's true, in my picture book manuscripts, I do need to cut back on them - but here? Hey, I'm excited!

I LOVE to WRITE!!!  (I guess you already knew that, right? After all, you're reading my blog - thanks by the way!)

But seriously - I've been doing this since grade school, so yeah, I guess it's totally natural that I have a blog.  And I've been really excited (and overwhelmed) by all the changes I've made here.  I moved from WordPress.com to a self-hosted blog on wordpress.org.  That transition went somewhat smoothly....somehow three followers got lost in the shuffle - but 231 remained strong (thank you!) and I was able to message the ones who did not get transferred to give them the news.

In addition, I've put the blog on a Facebook page to encourage more followers, make it easier for some to stumble upon me and to make it easier for some who would rather follow blogs thru Facebook than get sometimes daily emails in their inbox.  Don't forget there's also the Bloglovin' button too for the same reason! So part of the reason I'm writing this post is for those new followers - to get what it is that I'm doing here - and partly because - well, that's the idea I came up with and so here it is:

WHY DO I WRITE???

Writing, for me, takes me away into another land much like reading a book does.  Only this time, it's MY LAND.  It's whatever land, real or make-believe, I want to be in at that moment.  Whether it's remembering (on paper - or well, a computer screen but yes, I do often use paper for the first rough draft!) something from this morning, yesterday, last week or thirty some years ago (yes, or MORE...) or whether it's writing about something I'm doing or learning about... it's putting my mind in a place I want to be.  And to me that is magical like the places I read about - a  'little house in the big woods', the Hundred Acre Wood or River Heights.

It's an escape in a way - because when I'm deep into writing, much like when I have my nose in a book - there's a lot that can go on around me without notice.  My oldest son has finally learned to actually have me look AT him, before speaking...because he knows if  my eyes are in a book or looking at the computer or writing pad, chances are I'll have no clue he's even speaking to me, let alone actually know what he's saying.  When I'm writing I become ALIVE inside - passion overcomes me as I delve into whatever land I escape into at that precise moment and can forget all else...  If you're not a reader or writer and don't get that - my apologies  but I'm pretty sure you MUST have a passion - a way of escape that does the exact same thing!

My true passion for writing began in 5th grade when the lovely Mrs. Allred ( I can still picture her in that all RED outfit she wore on the first day of school) actually read MY story to the entire class and encouraged me to continue writing...she was a much bigger inspiration than she ever realized, I'm sure.

While I never devoted full time to writing, it stayed a passion in secret....always keeping journals and always writing fiction stories on the side.... I did enter a contest once with the Institute of Children's Literature - I was in 9th grade at the time... they sent me details on courses.  Yeah, that wasn't going to happen on my grandparent's budget.  Oh well... I kept writing. I seem to recall  making a middle school teacher chuckle quite often with the ridiculous fictional stories I would conjure up with my spelling words weekly as a sort of extra credit for English class.  Speaking of English class - I also managed to pull an A on a descriptive paper from the professor on my college campus known to be, um.... well TOUGH.  And he told us, for this particular assignment, if ANY of the details in this descriptive paper were made up, HE WOULD KNOW... uh, yeah, well, all but the real incident in my paper was 100% fictional...every single detail was made up....  I'm rather proud of that paper.  LOL

Move forward quite a few years....  I retired early (VERY early) from teaching and decided to stay home with the kids (we had two then) and suddenly my urge for writing deepened.... and I finally decided to take that course from The Institute of Children's Literature. In fact, I took two.  (and I'd like to take more....though with someone else this time - any suggestions?  Something geared for picture books?)  And then I learned about SCBWI!  WOW!!! (yeah, there's those exclamation points again)!!!

So I wrote and I wrote and I.....ooops!  got pregnant!  Yeah, right when I was in the beginnings of taking a shot at a YA manuscript (that's young adult in case you weren't sure), God decided he had other plans for me.  Between the nausea, the exhaustion and the utter shock (my oldest was 15, my youngest 11)....I stopped writing.  🙁

It took me several years to get back into it.  I started with my blog.  I had no idea what to write about... well, I had ideas...but getting started wasn't necessarily easy.  I really only started it as a journal, and also the possibility to tell others about Our Food Story.  Our Food Story is sort of personal, yet people constantly tell me I need to tell it.  So I wrote a very abbreviated version of that back in October of 2013 - just a year ago.  I am glad to get it out there, but I know more needs said.  I'll say it...in time.

Which brings me to this:

WHAT DO I WRITE ABOUT ON THIS BLOG?  How do I decide what to write?

I write about my PASSIONS in life.  And I have quite a few, I guess.  A lot of bloggers say that we bloggers should pick just one niche..... one topic we are passionate about and stick to that especially if you (I) want a lot of followers.  I've thought about it - a lot really - just narrowing down the blog to a few of the topics I cover - but there's so much more to me than JUST one or two of these topics!!!  I thought about separating the topics into two blogs....but can't figure out how to balance them and not leave anything out.  The bottom line is, I write about what I am PASSIONATE about.  And yes, I'm PROFOUNDLY PASSIONATE about my Orthodox faith, my marriage, my children, homeschooling, cooking natural whole foods - mostly Paleo now -, books, WRITING, and gaining balance in my life.....so that's what I write about.  I think I'm finally crawling out of my shell here - finally finding my voice.  So I'm sure I'll write more about that food story at some point - but for now I have SOOOOO many topics I want to write about - it's hard to just pick one some days!  Furthermore, there's other writing to be done besides the blog!

I'm ESTATIC over the start of PiBoIdMo TODAY!!!!!!!

I signed up on the 24th and have been reading the Pre-PiBoIdMo posts on Tara's blog ever since, notebook and pencils in hand!  I even took my son to the library the other day to specifically look for books by the authors that are being highlighted this month!  It's good to be familiar with someone's work when you read their post, but certainly not necessary to still get lots of inspiration and further insight into the writing process of picture books. (p.s. It's NOT too late to join - registration ends on November 7th.)

So here I am with my notebook, my pencils, pens and highlighters, my coffee mug filled with delicious Lonely Monks Coffee, (and no, fellow PiBoIdMo companions, I did NOT piboidmo2014officialparticipantsteal that list from Laurie Meyers - it REALLY is my own list! LOL) my chocolate, my laptop and YES!  I'm headed directly over to Tara's first official post for PiBoIdMo 2014!!!   Woot!!

 

p.s.   Did you know that November is Picture Book Month???  PBMBADGE-AMBASSADOR

I've kept a close eye on the calendar.....   TODAY is the first day for signing up to PiBoIdMo2014!

piboidmo2014officialparticipant

I found out about PiBoIdMo last year. I joined and it was a really good experience.  I stumbled upon it just as I was really getting serious about getting back to writing on a daily basis.  This year I find myself needing to get back on track again.  While I've done better with the blog, I find I still haven't gotten back into a good solid routine when it comes to my manuscript writing. Registration starts today and will close at the end of the day November 4th. So today I've signed up for PiBoIdMo over at Tara Lazar's website!

Tara created PiBoIdMo for picture book writers to coincide with writers participating in NaNoWriMo so that we, too, would have a 30 day challenge! The challenge is to come up with at least 30 picture book ideas in the 30 days of November.  The idea can be a title, great leading character,  or an idea for the basis of a book - you do NOT have to write the whole book to be considered fully participating!

The object of PiBoIdMo is to increase and enhance your creative ideas for picture book writing.  The long list of ideas and concepts you have at the end of the month may form together later to make one or possibly a multitude of  great exciting picture book manuscripts!

Writers who register and complete the challenge are actually eligible for a variety of prizes including feedback from literary agents, critiques from published authors and editors, signed book, original art from book illustrators and much more!  It's fun and exciting.  I didn't win anything last year but that didn't take away the excitement of it.  It was still thrilling to read the daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators and editors that filled our minds with their stories and suggestions on writing exercises to get those creative juices flowing!week of November. After the event concludes, in early December, participants who completed the challenge are asked to take the PiBoIdMo Winner’s Pledge stating they ended the month with 30 or more ideas. (It’s on the honor system. Participants do not have to post their ideas. In fact, I urge them not to!

If you want to read more about it or register for PiBoIdMo,  check out Tara's blog at:

http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/

Then, after signing up for the challenge,  I ordered the PiBoIdMo 2014 notebook.  I wasn't going to - it's sort of a lot of money for a notebook and I didn't actually fill it up last year.  It did, however, help me organize my ideas, etc. and was a visual reminder to do what I set out to do with PiBoIdMo.  I considered just using the old one but then decided I was short-changing myself in believing I wasn't going to have enough THIS year to completely fill it up.  So I took a deep breath and went with it.  You can order the notebooks or other fun items here.  And yeah, I succumbed this year and ordered a mug too.  Like I really need another mug! But I thought it would be worth it for the extra visual reminder on my kitchen counter to keep thinking of ideas!!!

So who is in PiBoIdMo with me?

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I knew about Nano (National Novel Writing Month) which is held in November each year and challenges to write a novel in one month, or 50,000 words which, according to the website, is doable even for an active person.  Do they know what I do in a day??  (laughing incredulously).  Well, I tried Nano once.  I don't recall how many words I accomplished that year, but it certainly wasn't close to 50,ooo and I wasn't as busy then as I am now!Someday, maybe, I'll bring out that YA I started years ago, and attempt Nano with it again.  Or maybe just be content with adding a paragraph a week. That may be more like it.

But this year I am doing PiBoIdMo!  PiBoIdMo is Picture Book Idea Month. This is the fifth year for PiBoIdMo. That's obviously why I haven't heard of it before.  I haven't really written in over 4 years or more.  How I didn't know about it the first year, I'm not sure.  But I am glad to know it now.

Immediately, upon finding out about PiBoIdMo, I got very excited, registered, and pulled out my( still blank) Ideas and Images journal I obtained from a SCBWI conference many years ago. It was perfect for the newly inspired me!  And I wrote in the numbers 1-30 over two of its pages......  So the idea is that through the course of the month, which is November which has 30 days, the picture book writer comes up with at least 30 different ideas for a picture book (I already have 5 listed besides the one I've actually spent a little bit of time starting this past week).  In addition, Tara Lazar (founder of PiBoIdMo) will be putting up daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other professionals from the kidlit world!  I am so inspired by this.  It was really perfect timing.

So I have opened the cupboard in my sitting room that has been closed since the cupboards were built.  Inside, I found very dusty folders and notebooks I've not looked at in quite sometime.  It was really sort of humorous (and maybe a little sad) as I glanced through folders with started manuscript titles not remembering half of them!  I mean, sure memories came back after reading through a few lines, but I honestly hadn't remembered starting half of them!  So it will be interesting, I'm sure, taking more time to sort through and read through them all again.  I'm sure, this many years later, I will have a totally different perspective on many of them if not all of them!

I also found my notes from SCBWI conferences and other related sources.  Right now, sitting at the top of the pile on my desk, a notebook lies open displaying the notes from the Katherine Patterson talk.  Here are some of the things I wrote that Katherine said:  "I can never be Jane Austin or Tolstoy, but neither can they be me." (So true!) "I am the only person that can tell my stories." (Yep!) "We must bring out what we fear and what we care mostly about." (I must remember this).  Katherine ended her talk that day by exclaiming, "Go Home and Dare!"

So I'm daring.  I'm not sure what will become of all this but I am grateful to you, my followers, for making me feel that maybe, by following me or reading this blog from time to time, that you must think I have something to say, something worth reading.  I appreciate that.  I don't give myself enough credit, or so I'm told.  You help me do that.  So thank you, dear reader, for giving me encouragement to go out and dare!  And now it's time to do a little more looking into those past manuscripts and notes... maybe a new idea for a picture book will emerge and I can add more to my list!  They come up in the most unusual places....like sitting and watching a little old man filling his car up with gas at Sam's Club 😉