Monthly Archives: August 2014

If I Only Had a Dream Vault

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         I wish I had a Dream Vault where I could store all my dreams. It would be jammed full of pink gorillas, orange tabby cats who rode adult-sized bicycles, and many other oddities. If I only had a Dream Vault, I’d be a famous author of the most bizarre picture books ever written. Or at least comparable.

     Unfortunately, I don’t. Unfortunately, I don’t even keep a Dream Journal, though I’ve tried. I kept a notebook next to my bed for quite some time. I was able to save a few dreams, but not many.

     The best time to write down a dream is right after you have it. You sit up in bed and turn on your light, reach for your journal and pen, and start writing, right? Well… it’s not that easy, at least not for me. I lay comfortably on my side and think about turning on the light. My pillow feels so soft, my sheets and blankets are so warm and snuggly. I close my eyes to rest them only for a moment before switching on the blinding light. Too late. I’m back asleep. And the dream is either lost, or scattered bits and pieces already fading away into Forgetfulville.

     Earlier this morning, I remember dreaming about something and I also recall thinking in my sleep, “This would make a good children’s picture book!” But do you think I can remember it now? I’m left with only shards, unable to piece my best-seller back together.

     So far, I have a crow eating a lettuce sandwich, a hungry me asking the crow for a bite, and the crow saying no, but he gives me lettuce seeds to plant so I can grow my own lettuce. Supposedly, the lettuce will grow right away and be ready to eat in three days. I know there was more to it, but where did it escape to? Whatever it was, I do remember it made the story much more interesting. If only I had a Dream Vault!

     Stuart Little by E.B. White was created from a dream about a tiny boy with a face rather like a mouse. The author, however, only wrote a few episodes about him and that-was-that till two decades later after he’d gathered his stories together and published  Stuart Little , E.B. White’s first children’s book.

     The Twilight Series, written by Stephenie Meyer, was inspired by a dream she had of a sparkly vampire laying in a field next to a human teen-aged girl.

     The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde was inspired by a dream Robert Louis Stevenson had of a doctor with split personalities.

     Will I write a book based on my dreams? Will you?

     If only I had a Dream Vault…

Too Many Directions!

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   Sometimes I feel like I’m going in too many directions at once!

     I have a problem saying no to people, for one thing. And at the time, I really wanted to say yes because I like to be involved and be helpful. Then, after a while, I begin to feel overwhelmed and I freeze up.

  • I’m no longer creative.

  • I’m no longer inspired.

  • I’m not writing.

  • All I can think about are my commitments and I have to follow through.

     Do you make promises and then later wish you hadn’t?

     I’ve discovered, however, the best way to tackle too many commitments is to write them down by priority. Then check each one off as they are completed.

     Next time someone asks me for help, I’ll try to remember it’s okay to say no. But knowing me, I’ll most likely say… Sure, I’ll be glad to help out!

 

 

Simultaneous vs. Multiple — Oops!

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     I sent a picture book manuscript out over a week ago, to three different publishers. That is called a simultaneous submission, though I may have put multiple submission by mistake!!! Hopefully, that will be overlooked. I used to think they were the same thing, but they aren’t. Simultaneous means you sent the same manuscript to more than one publisher at the same time. Multiple means you are sending other manuscripts to the same publisher, too. This can be confusing.

     So why did I type This is a multiple submission? How could I have made that error? I spent days coming up with the perfect cover letter and felt very satisfied by the time I’d perfected it to my liking. And the thing is, the publishing house that gets back with me the quickest, takes 6 – 8 weeks from when they receive it. The others I sent are a three month wait and a six month wait. And it’s one of my best pieces I’ve ever written.

     I’m so disappointed in myself for overlooking this. What I should have done was stepped away for a day or two before sending it off, then reread the cover letter. I was in such a hurry to send it off because the sooner it’s out there, the sooner I’ll hear back, right? Slow down, Vicki! A few extra days wouldn’t have hurt.

     Well, now I must be patient. Perhaps it won’t matter either way. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

     Lesson learned.

Catchy Titles for Children

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     Last night, after I turned off the light, titles lurked in the dark, sparking my mind with ideas! For some reason,  Captain Kangaroo came to mind, followed by Captain Underpants. (Do other children’s writers think this way while snuggled into bed, sleepy from a fun day filled with small grandchildren?)

     Captain Kangaroo is not a book title, that I know of. The television series ran for over 30 years with characters such as Captain Kangaroo (named because of the big pockets on his jacket), Mr. Moose, Mr. Green Jeans, Mr. Bunny Rabbit, Dancing Bear, and Grandfather Clock. There were others, too, but back to what I was getting at…the title–though it was a TV series–is catchy. Captain Underpants is also catchy, especially to kids, I might add.

     Sometimes, when I can’t think of one thing to write about, I start jotting down catchy titles in one of my many notebooks I randomly keep around the house. Not titles that are already actual titles (that I’m aware of), but my own creations. At least I’m writing, right? And if I’m lucky, one of those titles might trigger a story or poem!

     After working in public and school libraries for about twenty years, and ordering hundreds of books, it was usually the titles which attracted me first, and inspired me to read the summary and reviews. The book covers don’t hurt either, but since I’m a writer, I’m into titles.

     Titles with alliteration, such as Mr. Popper’s Penguins are fun to say and easy to remember.

     Rhyming titles are catchy, too, such as Cat in the Hat.

     Titles that semi-shock parents but cause children to practically roll on the floor laughing, like Walter the Farting Dog are also… unforgettable.

     Depending on the age group, titles vary. But keep one question in mind before titling a book: What book titles stand out in your childhood, or your children’s?

     Titles don’t have to include alliteration or rhyme or raise your eyebrows to be memorable. Intriguing titles lure children (and adults!) into reading, also. The Secret Garden swept me away into the life of a spoiled little orphaned girl named Mary who discovers a walled-up, overgrown garden her uncle has kept locked up for ten years. And isn’t that a cry she hears in the large, old house? Or the wind, as the maids insist? Very intriguing, indeed.

     I would love to hear about your favorite children’s title(s) and/or book(s) and what it is about them that keeps them unforgettable.

Kids Are a Treasure Trove of Ideas!

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     Our grand-kids spent the night last night, along with the grand-dog, Maizy.

     The first thing my four year-old granddaughter, Lily, said to us this morning was, “I had a bad dream about witches in my pony movie. They were pretty but they were mean.” Hmmm… (a story idea begins…)

     Later on, she asked if she could have some milk in the snowman cup. It’s a plastic, wide-based cup that won’t tip over easily. I usually give it to her so there are no spilling accidents. She loves that cup and wants to drink from it year-round. (another idea…)

     Seven year-old Eli wants to put a motor on an old boat we have floating around in our pond today. Hmmm… (can you imagine all the story ideas swimming through my head by now?)

     And eight year-old Grace told me she ate 12 sugar cubes at her friends house the other day! (WOW! Chaos in the form of a poem?)

     And the dog? Maizy loves finding small rocks in our pond and hauls them out with her mouth. It’s funny to watch her submerge her head under water and bring up a rock. She thinks it’s her job, I’m sure, and she takes her job seriously. (so much to think about up this point!)

     Kids (and animals!) are a treasure trove of ideas! And the great thing about writing fiction, is you can alter whatever you want to. Next time you’re around children or animals, make some observations. Listen to their conversations. Consider their actions.

     There are no excuses for me to have Writer’s Block.  Maybe the dog will eat 12 sugar cubes, or perhaps the mean, pretty witches will end up in a boat looking for rocks. Who knows?