Sunday Post: Reflections…Do You Love Yours?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is REFLECTIONS.

Look in the mirror.  Do you see your reflection?

The picture that you have in your mind’s eye may be quite different.

This reflection or self-image…who we are and how we look…forms in early childhood and is influenced in large part by how our parents act and react with us.

I’ve been taking part in a creative writing exercise for the past eight weeks.  Children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill organized “Summer Short & Sweets” and each week she provided writing prompts.  Last week she posted this beautiful illustration by gifted artist and picture book illustrator, Heather Newman, and asked us to think about a children’s story based on that picture.

Illustration copyright Heather Newman 2012 – Used by Permission

AND NOW THERE IS A CONTEST!

THE INSTRUCTIONS: WRITE A STORY OF 250 WORDS OR LESS BASED ON THIS PICTURE.  SOMEWHERE IN THE STORY, SOMEONE HAS TO SAY, “DID YOU SEE THAT?”  AND SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE STORY, SOMEONE HAS TO SAY, “GOODBYE OR FAREWELL”.

I’m going to share the story I wrote for the contest…and it ties in with the Sunday Post theme of Reflections…how we see ourselves and what happens when a person doesn’t have a positive self-image.

I hope you all enjoy it…I’d love to have your feedback and comments.

Working Title: Boot Camp at Old Dragons-Lair

Genre: Picture Book

Word Count: 240

BOOT CAMP AT OLD DRAGONS-LAIR by Vivian Kirkfield

The first day of boot camp at Old Dragons-Lair

The white witch decided to darken her hair.

So tired was she of her colorless locks

She lifted the red from the tail of the fox.

 

“Did you see that?” all the campers cried out.

“I’ll do as I please!” the witch said with a shout.

“I don’t like how I look…I’ll take what I wish

The tail of the dragon…the eyes of a fish.

 

“You can’t take from others”, the raven explained.

Your magical powers should be more restrained.

You’re leader of boot camp at Old Dragons-lair

You can’t create havoc and cause such a scare.

 

The black bird continued, “It’s what people do

That shows their real beauty…believe me, it’s true!”

And nodding her head, the witch waved her thin wand

Her hair began changing from red back to blonde.

 

The campers all gathered around the white witch

And loudly applauded the spell-binding switch.

She’d learned to treat others with love and with care

You don’t bully people at Old Dragons-lair!

 

The last day of boot camp at Old Dragons-lair

The campers took part in a Renaissance Fair

The white witch placed first in the costume parade

And raven won gold in the gaming arcade.

 

The campers were packed and excited to go

The sky was alight with a fiery glow

Each clambered to mount his own flying gazelle,

And said to the raven and witch,”Fond farewell!”

That’s it…what do you think?

We have one more month to get nominations to give 12 free copies of Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cookingto schools or other childcare facilities.  Nominate your child’s school in the Show Me How School Initiative by leaving a comment and telling us why you’d like them to have this book.  If you don’t have young children, but know people who do, please tell them about the free book their child’s school can receive!  Please tweet this or spread the word across any of your social media networks.  At the beginning of October we will use Random.org to choose 12 lucky schools.

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/

Are You Like An Ant?

Photo by Roy Toft

 I’m taking part in Susanna Leonard Hill’s Summer Short and Sweets, a creative writing exercise that would be fun for elementary students as well.  Click on her link and get all of the details.

Today’s challenge was to pick an adjective and then an animal that adjective might be associated with…here’s my entry:

 Tenacious
Is a steadfast ant
Tirelessly laboring with strong jaws excavating
In the subterranean tunnels under my feet
Creating a new home for his queen.

 I’ve always been fascinated with ants…such tireless goal-setting creatures!

Tireless and goal-setting can also define the firefighters who battled the Waldo Canyon Fire last month here in Colorado Springs.

Fortunately, many of the homes were insured.

What about the forests?

The trees had no insurance policies.

Fortunately, there are some individuals who are trying to help.

 

One of these is a neighbor of mine who has put together a photo-journal.

The pictures show the impact of the fire on the forest.

Visit www.WaldoCanyonRehab.org to find out how you can purchase it.

Proceeds will go to the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar Rehabilitation Project.

I’ve also been liked to an ant and have been called tenacious by those who know me.

If I believe in something, I am tireless and never give up.

One thing I believe in is the importance of building self-esteem in children.

That’s why I started the Show Me How! School Initiative.

Please don’t forget to leave a comment, nominating a deserving school.

A dozen copies of Show Me How! will be awarded at the end of September.

Would you like your favorite school to get a copy?  Just leave a comment!

Sunday Post: Road: Which One Will You Follow?

Jake at Time after Time has a Sunday Post Challenge and every week he provides a theme…this week’s theme is ROAD.

 

  The Road Not Taken  (1916) 
by Robert Frost
 
 

“The Road Not Taken Robert Frost

1916

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Children need a parent’s guidance as they embark on the road of life.

As parents, we also need to make a choice as to which road or parenting approach we will take as we raise our children.  Here are five simple tips:

  • Be consistent with your children…set guidelines and stick to them.
  • Be compassionate with your children…show them love and respect.
  • Teach consequences…children need to learn that for every action there is a reaction.
  • Communicate with your children…a two-way street of talking AND listening.
  • Connect with your children…participate together in all types of activities.

Speaking about participating in activities, have you ever tried creative writing with your children?  It’s lots of fun and will help strengthen their literacy skills and exercise their creativity.  I’m taking part in a little creative writing over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.  It’s called Summer Short and Sweets.

This is week four of Susanna’s challenge…if you click on the link above, you’ll see that this challenge was to take a letter of the alphabet, possibly the first letter of your name, and think of as many words (nouns, adjectives, adverbs, etc.) that begin with that letter and then write a 50 – 100 word story.  You are not supposed to peek at the detailed instructions until you choose your letter.  I picked “V” since that is the first letter of my name (had I peeked, I might have chosen an easier letter)…and here is my submission:

Viscountess Vanessa Versailles, a virginal Venezuelan virtuoso with varicose veins, vigilantly clutched the valuable Venetian violin in the velvet valise and vaulted over vipers and violent voles, her out-of-gas veneered van parked in the valley behind her. Her view blurred by a veil of venomous vapors, Vanessa valiantly raced onward, vowing to validate her promise to the vacationers who were even now vacating their seats for the violinist’s Valentine’s Day performance. Is she racing in vain?

Why not give it a try…just visit Susanna’s blog and hop aboard the Summer Short and Sweets train…it will be a fun ride.  Then you can adjust the challenges for your children, depending on their ages.  Young kids can draw pictures to tell their story and have a parent or older sibling write the words.

What else can you do with your kids this summer?  For the price of a large pizza, some breadsticks and a liter of soda (that will only last a few minutes), you can have quick and easy activities that will keep kids busy and happy and learning till school starts…and beyond!  Show Me How! Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem Through Reading, Crafting and Cooking is the book I wish I had when my kids were growing up.  Suzanne Williams, author of over 27 children’s books says, “I wish Show Me How! had existed when my own children were young.”  Clinical psychologist, Jodi Harap adds, “Ms. Kirkfield presents concrete examples and helpful recommendations that are sure to give parents a newfound sense of competence and confidence in their own abilities as well.”

I want to remind everyone that the book is now available for shipment to Canadian residents…please visit my website and click on the special PayPal buttons for Canadian shipment!  I’ve already mailed out two copies of the book to Canada last week…one to Bowmanville, Ontario and one to Regina, Saskatchewan.

Want more information about Jake’s Sunday Post?

 http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ 

And here are some other bloggers who are doing Jake’s Sunday Post:

http://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/gps-or-maps-depends-on-the-trip/

http://imexcited.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/sunday-post-road/

http://inspirationimport.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/sunday-post-road-wisdom/

http://shaanthz.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/sunday-post-road/

http://p0nky.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/sunday-post-road/

http://carolloethen.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/sunday-post-road/

http://northernnarratives.wordpress.com/2012/07/28/sunday-post-road/

http://tacts21.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/sunday-post-road/

http://francineinretirement.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/sunday-post-road/

http://jullianeford.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/sunday-post-road/

Show Me How is in the News!

THE SUMMER IS MORE THAN HALFWAY OVER!

IT’S HARD TO BELIEVE…KIDS ARE OUT BUYING NEW SCHOOL SUPPLIES….AND TEACHERS ARE GEARING UP FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR.

This post is a summary of some of the projects I have underway and some of the events that have been taking place recently, here in Colorado.

WE’VE BEEN POUNDED BY TRAGEDY…FIRST THE WALDO CANYON FIRES RIGHT HERE IN COLORADO SPRINGS (AND VARIOUS OTHER WILDFIRES IN THE REST OF THE STATE) AND JUST LAST WEEK, THE AURORA THEATER MASSACRE, WHERE TWELVE PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES AND DOZENS OF OTHERS WERE SERIOUSLY INJURED.

MANY ASK…HOW CAN WE STOP THIS TYPE OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE?

UNFORTUNATELY, I DON’T THINK THERE IS AN ANSWER…NOT UNTIL EVERY PERSON’S HEART IS FILLED WITH LOVE FOR OTHERS.

WHAT WE CAN DO IS PRAY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN IMPACTED.  WE ARE ALL ONE FAMILY.  WE CAN REACH OUT TO EACH OTHER WITH LOVE AND COMPASSION BECAUSE, IN THE FACE OF TRAGEDY, LOVE IS WHAT HEALS.

WE CAN ALSO TRY TO MAKE OUR OWN LITTLE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.

SOMEONE WHO DOES THAT VERY WELL IS picture book author, SUSANNA LEONARD HILL.

DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR, SHE HOSTS A PERFECT PICTURE BOOK FRIDAY  WHERE SHE INVITES OTHERS TO LINK UP WITH A PICTURE BOOK REVIEW AND RELATED ACTIVITIES AND RESOURCES.

FOR THE SUMMER, SHE HAS COME UP WITH A WHOLE NEW CHALLENGE: SUMMER SHORT AND SWEETS.

DO YOU LIKE TO WRITE?  ARE YOU AN ASPIRING AUTHOR?

JOIN SUSANNA AND FRIENDS FOR THIS CREATIVE WRITING EXERCISE.

I hope you will check out this fun-filled writing exercise!  Here is my entry for week #3:

I am Castle.
Gray as weathered stone in a cloud-filled twilight.
With tall turreted towers.
Decaying.
Crumbling.
Adjacent to an ancient herb garden where quartz paving stones glisten in the moonlight.
Guarding a hidden secret.
Protecting a forgotten treasure.
Waiting for eventual discovery.
Like a tightrope walker holding his breath.
I am Castle.

Another project for me this summer was to submit a picture book to Rate Your Story.  This amazing website is hosted by several children’s authors, illustrators and editors.  They provide professional manuscript critiques and other services…but will look over your story for FREE and rate it from “1”…great story, you should consider submitting…to “10”…consider this story as practice and write another one.  In addition, some of the judges may even give your story some constructive suggestions to help make it better.

A couple of weeks ago, I submitted, “The Boots of Dylan McGee”.  This is a rhyming picture book that tells the story of a little boy who wants to be a cowboy and loves his boots so much that he never wants to take them off. 

Here’s the first verse:

Dylan McGee was a cowboy-in-training.

Boots were his garb, whether sunshine or raining.

“It’s time to go nighty-night”, Momma would say.

But take off his boots?  Nada, nix, no and nay!

 When his boots begin to hurt his feet because they are too small, “he tried to remove them but couldn’t succeed…those boots wouldn’t budge ‘cause he’d grown like a weed.”

Early this week, I got the reply back…”The Boots of Dylan McGee” scored a “3”… which means: good story, get a critique or two and polish before submitting.  I was really excited because the judge gave me three awesome suggestions which I am working on implementing to make the story better and ready to put out there in publishing-land.

I’m also continuing in Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 in 2012 Picture Book Writing Challenge.

I’ve been having so much fun since January…writing a picture book draft each month.  Thanks to Julie and the encouraging group of more than FOUR HUNDRED participants, I now have seven picture book drafts waiting to be revised and polished and revised and polished and revised and polished some more.  July’s picture book draft is completed!

Another project for me is to de-clutter my garage. 

 

As the comic strip character, Cathy, would say, “AACK!!!!!!”

I know that clutter is a problem for many of us.  Objectively, I understand that clutter creates stress.  Subjectively, it is difficult to decide what to keep and what to toss.

But I have done a little work on this and plan to do more every weekend until I am done.

As Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way would say, “Aaaah, that’s better.

And now I’d like to share some lovely news.

Lovely news #1: Last week, I got an email from WordPress notifying me that I had reached a milepost in “likes”…1000 of them.

For that I have to thank all of you, my readers!  Sometimes it’s difficult to find the time to write, especially because I love to read and comment on everyone else’s posts.  I’m thrilled to have connected with so many people all over the world…what an exciting journey this has been!

Lovely news #2: I just got word from TaRhonda Thomas, Emmy-winning anchor for the 9News Morning Show in Denver.  She will be interviewing me on August 27th and we will be discussing an extremely timely topic for the opening of the new school year…how parents can detect the subtle signs of bullying.  I’ll share more details in future posts.

Lovely news #3: Diane Kress Hower over at bookwisdombydiane did an amazing review of Show Me How! and also one of Cindy Moo.  She has a spot on the local NBC affiliate KKCO TV 11 News morning show where she spotlights children’s books.  On Tuesday morning, she talked about the importance of self-esteem and how those two books were wonderful resources for parents and teachers.  Diane is offering a copy of each of the books as a giveaway on her website…you just need to leave her a comment.

Lovely news #4:  My daughter and her family will definitely be moving to Colorado Springs within the year…I can’t wait to be able to spend more time with my grandson!

Animal A to Z Picture Book Recommendations for Great Summer Reading

Summertime gives us a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors.  Kids love hiking in the park, going down the slide and playing ball at the playground, building sandcastles at the beach…sometimes it seems as if they have a boundless well of energy.   But even kids need to sit down in a cool spot to relax…that’s the perfect time to get out the books!

If you have young children, what will you are reading with them?  Studies show that reading to kids on a daily basis helps children succeed in school as it helps develop their literacy skills, build self-esteem and strengthen the parent-child connection.  What’s even better is that it is SO MUCH FUN for the kids and the adults!

Here’s a list of wonderful picture books…all about animals (a favorite subject for most kids) from A to Z.  Most can be found for FREE at your local library…I hope every parent is taking advantage of the amazing summer programs available at many libraries.

I’ve added a link if I found a review and activities for that particular book…many of the reviews are mine and a few of the links will take you to a review done by one of the contributors to Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday posts.  If you need any other picture books for summer reading and beyond, please check out her Perfect Picture Book page.  

  1. ARMADILLO: Milo Armadillo by Jane Fearnley
  2. BEAR: Gift-Bear for the King by Carl Memling
  3. CAT: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
  4. DINOSAUR: Dinosaur vs. The Library by Bob Shea
  5. ELEPHANT: Babar by Jean de Brunhoff
  6. GOLDFISH: Gilbert Goldfish Wants a Pet by Kelly DiPucchio
  7. HORSE: Indian Two Feet and His Horse by Margaret Friskey
  8. IGUANA: I Wanna Iguana by T.E.Watson
  9. JELLYFISH: Joy the Jellyfish by Kristen Collier

10. KANGEROO: Yes We Can! by Sam McBratney

11. LLAMA: Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

12. MOUSE: Frederick by Leo Lionni

13. NEWT: Newt by Matt Novak

14. OWL: Owl Moon

15. PIG: Sloppy Kisses by Elizabeth Winthrop

16. QUAIL: Looking After Me by Denise Leroy

17. RACOON: The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

18. SHEEP: Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill

19. TIGER: Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus

20. UNICORN: Unicorn! Unicorn! By Geraldine McCaughean

21. VOLE: The Vole Brothers  by Roslyn Schwartz

22. WHALE: Pipaluk and the Whales by John Himmelman

23. XIPHIAS (SWORDFISH): Swimmy by Leo Lionni

24. YAK: Kami and the Yak by Andrea Stenn Stryer

25. ZEBRA: How the Zebra Got Its Stripes by Justine Fontes

Badge created by the talented Loni Edwards

I also wanted to add a note about a great creative writing activity going on right now…Susanna Leonard Hill has organized Summer Short and Sweetsif you have been thinking about writing for children and want to get your feet wet, this is the perfect opportunity.  The kid lit community that gathers there is generous, helpful, caring and inspiring.