Days Ten, Eleven, Twelve: Share, Declutter and Provoke

Day Ten Jeff Goins told us to share others’ work, and fellow 15 Habits of Great Writers participant Marcie Colleen invites us to do so with a blink: blog about a writer we admire, and to post the link on her’s. I have chosen to put a spotlight on the work of Jon Agee (pronounced ay-gee).

Listen to Jon Agee read from Terrific

He has been making picture books for 30 years now, but I only just ‘met’ him this past year. When I  felt like I had read most of the picture books on the NEW! shelf (and thought it was about time to give the other kids a better chance at the suggested reading section) I decided to attack the library’s collection more efficiently and rummage through shelves for titles I haven’t read, starting with Section A. One per author was a good way to tackle it, and that’s when I found The Retired Kid (Hyperion,2008). How could I go wrong with a title like that!

Since then I have read all the other Agee titles my library district owns, and some from other connected libraries.

Now I’ll tell you why: it’s simple – they are funny. Lough-out-loud funny. Seriously funny. And his art is wonderful: simple, straightforward and delightful. Agee is a master of pure-form cartoon and composition. I hope you enjoy discovering these books as much as I still do.

Day Eleven: Goins reminds us to declutter, first our workspace, then our writing. “Eliminate weak, lazy words like “that” and “things” and anything you don’t absolutely need. Then say what you have to say and be done with it.” But this holds no dread for me as I love to put things in order, straighten and tidy (some friends might whisper OCD). I pick up on a hung picture askew like a dog notes eau de fox. A-hunting I will go!

And provoke: here I will link you to an interview with Laura Smith on the which captures the essence of Goins’ advice on why we need art.

Day Eight: Advice Off the Butcher’s Block

Eight days in and Jeff Goins challenges us to finish something:Anything, really. Just pick a project — an essay, a blog post, maybe even a book — and finish it. Not tomorrow. Today.

I immediately thought of a manuscript, and Frances, the main character. But there is just no way anyone could complete the dummy sketches in one day!

It should never take longer than 30 minutes to finish anything. If it does, you’re not breaking the project up into enough chunks. Which will lead to stalling, your worst enemy.

Aha! Chunks! That’s my problem, I need to chop, maybe even dice!

Find something and move it across the finish line. Then do the same thing tomorrow. And the day after that. And so on.”

Okay Jeff. Knife in hand, cutting board ready. Watch out Julia, mine can take an edge! But when things don’t go as expected, there is always the blowtorch

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”- Julie Childs

Today’s Secret Tidbit: I am a professionally trained Fleischereifachverkaeuferin!

Day Seven: Beauty in the Beast

Where did Day Six go? It was stolen. Jeff Goins, aka Fagin, sent fellow 15HoGW challenge participants out to pick a pocket or two. Nothing new to me as a visual artist: learned by copying, at first unconsciously, then as my skills grew from the crayon stages I looked for great work to emulate. Finally in college a fellow student had copied my work, and it allowed me to believe I had arrived: I had skills and ideas worth emulating!

On to Day Seven: Goin’s advice is to make it ugly first because beauty comes from chaos. I get it. I had recently read the writing advice from Maureen Johnson: “Let me let you in on a little secret. When you are learning to write, you are going to suck. You are going to suck a lot. You’re just going to keep sucking for a while, and feel like you’re sucking, and actually that’s a sign that you’re completely on the right path. (…)” Read more (worth it).

Because of the raging local fire I witness beauty in the beast daily, and was inspired to create.

Day Five: Ship, Tweak and Bon Voyage

The break Jeff Goins gave us at the weekend really was a break.

So I messed up. Means I’m an eager participant right! Got my coffee, got writer’s ‘mojo’ and Eurocup eurythmia – no wonder I tripped!

Back from the break we are asked not to procrastinate but to prepare: ship and tweak. Send work out into the world, let the critique wash over and tweak and revise. Then ship it out again!

I’m there, I send out work to my online crtique group, just started a face-to-face crit-group in town (by the way ladies, the lightning we witnessed at the close last week may have caused the High Park fire, now covering 20,000 acres with one confirmed missing (more later)), and I also send work to Rate Your Story, for a free manuscript rating.

And I’ve been lucky with the opportunity to have published authors read a few pieces and share their advice. Recently I made an exchange:  a logo design for a manuscript read-through by author Natasha Wing: her ‘on-the-side’ business venture: bumcicles

Then I tweak, revise and throw it out into the world again. Goins is right – I should ship it out next time – it has a more respectful ring to it! And without a real ship the bottle of champagne is mine!

Day Five: Tor!

I’m feeling kinda lucky!

Jeff Goins has told us to take a break from the 15 Habits of Great Writer’s Challenge, a nap specifically, and today he posted a beautiful piece about the new joy he is finding in fatherhood.

But I did not take a nap. How could I?  Germany was playing their first game in Eurocup 2012 against Portugal! To see it on a big screen I headed to  Pappy’s, a local ports bar. There I met up with my fellow football fans, some still in elementary school but not to be underestimated: when Boateng walked off with an injury and I hoped (out loud) that Klose might be sent in, the youngest reminded me, “Klose is not a defender.” In spite of my ignorance the Germans won, 1-0! Much to the shame of my husband, I don’t really care who wins and certainly don’t enjoy watching one team cream another, but I am always interested in a good game, where both teams show fire in their bellies!

I also won today! A signed print from illustrator and former animation artist specializing in the children’s book market, Maria Bogade of Germany. She also worked on award-winning projects like ”The Gruffalo.” I chose this piece from her site‘s portfolio:

Ben’s Flying Flowers is her most recent collaboration with Inger Maier:

AND… today I received a prize I won while participating in Paula Yoo‘s NaPiBoWriWee Challenge.

I ‘ll be busy again tomorrow though…hoping for another good game: Spain vs. Italy, and  Republic of Ireland vs. Croatia!

PPBF: Animal Masquerade

Author/Illustrator: Marianne Dubuc
Publisher:Kids Can Press, 2012 (Originally under Au carnaval des animaux, 2011)
Genre: fiction
Themes: animals, disguises, masquerade
Age Level: 3-7, but my teens loved this too!
Opening: Come one, come all to the animal masquerade. Disguises are a must!
Synopsis: from Kids Can Press: The lion is going as an elephant, the elephant as a parrot, and the parrot as a turtle! Each costume gives way to another, yielding new surprises on every page, and revealing a menagerie of familiar and unusual animals. Young children will delight in the absurd and amusing images (who wouldn’t love a ladybug dressed as a hippopotamus?) and will also appreciate the gags (a fish costumed as a cat is dubbed a “catfish”) and other bits of silly sweetness. Recapping this reading adventure: a detailed panorama at book’s end, showing all the party guests in their fanciful finery.
Why I like this book: I don’t like this book, I LOVE IT! You can read it, over and over right away! If anyone out there ever makes a costume of an animal ‘in costume’ send me a photo!
Resource/Activity: make your own costumes: ; Blog: My Disguises great photos and ideas for kids of ALL ages
For more links to posts on Perfect Picture Books and resources, visit Susanna Hill’s blog every Friday.
PS: It is Day Four of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge and we have been prompted to ‘practice’ publicly. Well, I did that last night when I read a MS to my shiny and new kid-lit crit-group. It was scary but fun and helpful, and I appreciate my fellow members soooo much!

Day Three: Initiative

Day three into the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge Jeff Goins tells us to take the initiative and form good writing habits so we can become “who we are through the things we do (or don’t do).” (For more info click on the icon in the sidebar)

I like to write everyday, but I have other ‘writing’ habits. I read articles and books on writing, everyday. And I read picture books, everyday (ten or more!). I review picture books to learn more about their structure, for my own records, and I participate in Perfect Picture Book Friday hosted on Susanna Hill’s blog. I also listen to the spoken word, through conversation of course, but also through  special poetry videos like Renée LaTulippe’s on her blog No Water River. Or through films, like this gem from Temujin Doran. This short film is based on an archival sound recording taken from the 1945 Linguaphone series ‘English Pronunciation – A practical handbook for the foreign learner.’ Sit back and savor sights and sounds.

WIX, IF and Day Two

The IF (Illustration Friday) word this week is : hurry, but I find myself making haste…slowly. It being Wednesday I thought I’d see how to catch up with something other than get a move on, hurry up…shake a leg!

Mach’ hin, komm schon…beeile Dich! Make finished, come already…hurry yourself! Dépêche toi, vite, vite…allez! Hurry yourself, quick, quick…go! Jahela! in Zulu, Opskud! in Afrikaans, or  in Dutch schiet op…haast je! , shoot up… make haste!

Nice, but no spark yet. So what about shake a leg? Did that sweep in off the dance floor where we hear it now? I found something a bit more macabre:

During the American Civil War after a battle to sort the dead from the wounded a soldier learned to move or wave one of his arms or legs by himself to indicate to the stretcher-bearer that he was alive. After a time, the stretcher-bearers would first yell to the piles of bodies “shake a leg or arm” as they approached. After a time, the shortened “shake a leg” began to be used in any situation where one wanted to rouse someone to action. click here for more

Of course the Brits are having none of that: it was the order given to sailors to put a foot from their hammocks and get up. Check out more nautical terms and sayings from a document to be found at Under Navy Jobs, Navy Terms.

I can’t decide what to believe, but I haven’t got all day! Which brings me to Day Two of the 15 Habits of Great Writers Challenge because great writers believe in themselves. Jeff Goins insists you need to believe deeply that you are a writer, so we (all 958 participants) are challenged today to marinate in the thought – then we get to wake up two hours earlier tomorrow morning and grill our tasty morsels with uninterrupted writing! Well, no one else in the house will be up with me at 5, but the dog may have to be let out…in a hurry!