Giveaway: Sprang Cleanin’ Course

(This week’s post is two days early, because I want to give people a chance to enter the contest.)

Those of you who know me well know that I am a lifelong learner. I am always taking some sort of course or other, and I am always really happy when I am doing that.

This year I decided at the beginning of the year that I would not take any more writing courses. I took a bunch last year, and I decided that I want to absorb what I have learned. As well, I have so many writing books that I need to catch up on. So far I have kept my promise except…well except for the fact that I learned that my library is offering free courses…So yes, I am actually taking a writing for children course right now through Gale Courses, which is kindly being paid for by my local library. Who knows if this will ever be offered again, I say, justifying my actions…

But what I didn’t say was that I wouldn’t take other courses. Ha! So I decided to finally take one of Amy Bower’s courses. I have been a member of her Facebook group for some time now, but I have never taken a course of hers. Her Facebook group has such a fabulous group of women in it, and so I decided to finally take the plunge. Her Dream Lab was fantastic! I highly recommend it for those of you who want to explore your dreams.

One of the students taking Dream Lab at the same time as me was Merrick Weaver. Amy’s course convinced Merrick that she should start her own courses. And so she has a brand spanking new offering: Sprang Cleanin’. I am excited about this course, and I hope that you are too, because I am offering a chance for someone to win a spot in her course.

What is Sprang Cleanin’, you say? It is a “three-week online workshop to clear out space & design the life you want. This class runs from May 6th to May 25th. Now’s the time. Get ready for summer & lighten your load!”

To read more about the course, click here. Registration is until May 5th.

Why do I want to take this course? Because I definitely want to clear out some space from my home for something else in my life. For example, I wasted a lot of time doing my taxes this past weekend, because of my inefficient organizational system. I want to clear out the masses of paper I have and find a new organizational system, so I can use more time for writing…

All you have to do for a chance to win is leave me a comment below, and let me know what you want to create more space for.

The contest ends Saturday (May 2, 2015) at noon. My lovely assistant will draw a name out of a hat, and I will announce the winner Saturday afternoon.

Good luck!

<Contest is now closed.>

RhyPiBoMo Favourite Rhyming Picture Book Choices

Normally I post my blog on Wednesday, but this week I wanted to post it on Friday in order to participate in “Friday favourites”.

One of my favourite parts of RhyPiBoMo is Friday favourites. That is the day that we share our favourite rhyming picture book of the week. I learn about so many rhyming picture books that I have never heard of, and I am really enjoying reading the suggestions.

So far this is what I have nominated for my Friday Favourites:

Week 1
“Once Upon a Memory” by Nina Laden, illustrated by Renate Liwska

This is a book that I found out about during ReFoReMo.

Week 2
“Won Ton and Chopstick” by Lee Wardlaw

Week 3
“Mable Murple” by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Sydney Smith

My Friday Favourite for week 4 is another book by Sheree Fitch.

“Night Sky Wheel Ride”
by Sheree Fitch
illustrations by Yayo

The premise: Two children wonder if they are brave enough for the ferris wheel. When they discover they are, they take a joyous journey on it.

These are some of the reasons why I like it:

Effective use of white space
I love how the words “up up up” lift up and “down down down” tumble down the page

There is plenty of repetition and a refrain.
As the kids become braver, the refrain changes.

Unique rhyming pairs

Plenty of use of the power of threes
Example: we wait wait wait

Lots of Alliteration
swinging swaying staying
“See out to sea, Sister.”

Plenty of fun and interesting words
whopdeedeedoo; swiggle sway

Vivid Imagery
Example: “Dizzy-dazed we gazed up
feel the moon’s breath on our faces”

Use of big words
Example: phosphorescent

Great Metaphors
“The people waaaaaaaaaaaaay down there are dancing jelly beans.”

Use of rhyme within a rhyme
fizzy with the dizzy reeling

Fabulous pictures
The ferris wheel is drawn as a squealing pig, a washer, and a dandelion among other things.


If you have read this book, what do you think about it? And what’s your Friday favourite? Leave me a comment below.

Stay tuned next week for my giveaway!

Local Little Free Libraries

Inspired by Nicole Popel’s beautiful blog about little free libraries, I decided to do a blog post about our local little free libraries.
Nicole has her own little free library. So far my favourite blog post of Nicole’s has been the one about the little free library that doubles as a geocache site! Besides wanting a little free library of my own, I have always wanted to try geocaching. Right now, due to location, I cannot put in my own little free library. But I certainly can try geocaching, and it is on my list of things to do and soon! And perhaps when I finally do get my own little free library, I’ll also use it as a geocache site.
There is a map of little free libraries around the world. Unfortunately, our local ones are not on this map. Word of mouth seems to be the best way to locating them. Although, if you are on Facebook, there is a group about the little free libraries in KW.
There is an upcoming workshop for building your own little free library at the Preston library. Hmmm, maybe I should go anyway.
So what exactly is a little free library? They are gathering places for neighbours to share their literature and books. The basic philosophy is this: “take a book, return a book”.
To read about the history of little free libraries, click here.
There are two little free libraries that are close to me.

September 1
The first one is within walking distance. It’s always exciting to see how the selection has changed since the last time I was there.

photo 1
This was yesterday’s selection of books, a mix of adult and children’s books.

photo 2
The second one is close to my daughter’s school, and it’s the first time I have been there.

photo 3
This was yesterday’s selection of books, also a mix of adult and children’s books.
I took a book from each of them, and in return I left a book.
What about you? Do you have any little free libraries that you love in your area?

Update: April 17

So I went geocaching this morning for the first time. I didn’t find the site, but I did discover a new little free library in the area. Awesome!


Author visit: Dave Atkinson


I love attending author visits! It’s one of my favorite ways to do some research.
In this case, I lucked out by having Dave Atkinson visit my local used book store, Millpond Records and Books.
Now I had never actually heard of Dave Atkinson before. No matter, all published authors have some insight to give into the publishing process.
To prepare, I bought his first middle grade (8-12 years old) novel called “Wereduck” to read before his visit.
Luckily, I really enjoyed reading “Wereduck”. The book is about a girl who is supposed to become a werewolf on her 13th birthday, but she does not want to become one. She would rather be a duck. A duck you say? Yes, that’s right. So when the moon calls to her, instead of howling in response, she quacks in response, and so her dream becomes true. It’s a great exploration of what many children experience: the expectations of adults are placed upon them, but they don’t necessarily want to live up to those expectations. They have their own ideas. And it’s explored in a fun way.
Dave Atkinson was charming and engaging and open to questions from the audience. It took him 5 years to write “Wereduck”, but only 11 months to write the sequel (due out in 2016). When I told him what my favourite part was, he said that the character that I was referring to would have a much larger part in the sequel. Yay! I don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you do read the book, then I’ll let you know more…
Dave Atkinson first sent out “Wereduck” to Nimbus, who spent 6 months looking at it, but then sent him a rejection unless…unless he was to make the changes they suggested. So he did, including making it longer. That is a rarity, for a publisher to ask for a longer text, but Dave Atkinson said that he is used to writing for radio, which means he writes short and succinct. He desires to write a picture book, which would be perfect for him, if he can already write short and succinct.
Probably my biggest takeaway about his writing process was his statement that “red ink means love”. That is if someone takes the time to mark up your manuscript with corrections, it means they care enough to do so. It is something us writers should keep in mind.
What about you? Have you been to some recent author visits? Have you read “Wereduck”? Leave me a comment below.

From ReFoReMo to RhyPiBoMo



I did it! I finished the ReFoReMo challenge! I read and analyzed 100 picture books this month! Wow. That’s over 3 picture books per day.

I originally set my goal for 90 books, but when I told my daughter that goal, she informed me that I should be able to reach 100. I thought, well why not, what’s 10 extra books?
At the height of the challenge, I actually had 180 books out of the library. Now, not all of them were for ReFoReMo–some were early readers for my Word by Word book club–but still, I have never had so many books out of the library at once. I asked one librarian what the limit was, and she said that she did not know, but she would give a guess at 100. Not possible, I said, I have well over 100. I wonder how people who have a limit of something like 6 do it? I guess I would be at the library every single day.
I discovered that there were three types of books that were my favorites:
1. Non fiction

I especially love the latest picture book biographies. To see what I mean, click on one or more of these links:
Kristen Remenar’s post

Mira Reisberg’s post

Miranda Paul’s post

Suzy Leopold’s post

Pat Miller’s post

Melissa Stewart’s post

2. Lyrical
Mmmm, the language of these books is to be savoured.
Pat Zietlow Miller’s post

Renee M. Latulippe’s post

3. Loosely plotted
Maybe because I have been accused many times of not having strong enough plot arcs…
Josh Funk’s post

Even though I reached my goal of 100 books, I plan to continue. For example, I need to study how the plot clock works. And now that I have spent so much time analyzing books, it will become more of a habit for me.

And now on to the next challenge!

I participated in the very first RhyPiBoMo challenge last year, and I am looking forward to this year’s challenge. Even though I discovered that writing in rhyme is extremely challenging for me, and I am not sure I will ever accomplish it, I believe that my writing has been enhanced by the techniques used by poets.

The first post started out with a challenge to write a haiku. I love haikus. They are my favourite form of poetry, though I rarely dabble in writing them.

The challenge was to write a haiku titled “A Rainbow in the Cloud”. This was based on Maya Angelou’s quote:
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
– Maya Angelou
I wrote several haikus and decided that I liked this one, #6 out of 7, best:
The rainbow colours
Drift into your angry cloud
Swirl your lonely heart

(I had to look up if the word “swirl” is one syllable or not, because some people pronounce it with two. The dictionary said it was one syllable.)
I could have written for much longer, but life called me back from my scribblings. I doubt my daughter would have been impressed if I had told her that instead of making her a lunch, I decided to write more haikus…But I really wanted to play around with some alliteration. Hopefully I will have some time to do so.
What about you? Did you finish ReFoReMo? Did you write a haiku? Let me know in the comment section.