Monday, December 31, 2012

Still going....

Next week  My Twelve Maine Christmas Days will be on its way to at least one publisher for consideration. I continue to search for other regional publishers that may be open to new submissions. The funny thing is - the school visits are all ready to go, but there is no book, yet! Cross fingers and toes, please:)

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Directions

Although my attempts to get another manuscript under contract have failed lately, I find new opportunities arising. Last winter as I sat at LL Beans during a holiday book signing event, I began playing with the idea of writing a Maine version of the 12 Days of Christmas. The result, My Twelve Maine Christmas Days,celebrationg many of the gifts of Maine. As luck would have it, I mentioned it to a music teacher colleague who happened to be looking for another song for her 4th graders to sing in their December concert! I am very excited to hear my piece performed and hope it will help move it toward book form.

I am currently spending several hours a week in two libraries researching for a three day workshop I will be presenting at the Lura Libby School in Thomaston next spring. I am over the moon excited about this project, but can't give away any of the fun just yet :) But rest assure, its success is written in the stars.

Today I met with a teacher from the Bowdoin Central School. They are currently applying for a grant to build a permanent story walk on the school grounds. Students move to different kiosks in various ways - skipping, hopping, etc.- and read the next page of the book at each station. Literacy and health combined!
Fingers crossed that the grant is approved and A Isn't for Fox becomes the initial book on the walk.

I have been contacted about being part of the Young Authors Day at a school in Auburn. This, too, sounds very interesting and I hope I will be asked to be a part of that celebration. So, although the publishing door seems to be closed right now, there is a definite draft from the open windows!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Being creative

I am excited to be offered the chance to be involved in two creative and new school experiences. I am beginning research today for a project with the Lura Libby School in Thomaston. I had a great visit there last winter and have been invited back for a multi day workshop. This year's visit will involve all the grades, with a unifying theme. My head is spinning with ideas, so the brainstorming will come first and then some organization and then the details.

The second exciting opportunity is with the Bowdoin school. They are working on a grant for a Story Walk and have asked for my input and ideas. I love this project and can't wait to see where it leads - on a story walk, I hope!

Big thanks to the Dike Newell School and the Patten Free Library for their generous offers of time and resources.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Living in two worlds

This summer I found myself writing more - not stories, but quilt patterns! Little did I know how much I would enjoy designing new quilts or that quilters would actually buy the patterns. So as I have busily designed on graph paper, learned a computer program and did photography for pattern covers, I  neglected my story side for a while. But with an invitation to "perform" at the first assembly in a local school, the writing gene kicked back in:)  I successfully wrote, memorized and performed a new piece to 200 students and staff and it felt good.

So I have now submitted a piece for consideration and am waiting to hear from an agent about representing me and my unpublished math books. As the fall progresses, and I have already been contacted about school events, I will have to learn how to survive living in both worlds - I can't imagine giving up either one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thanks to Winslow

No, I am not giving credit to Winslow Homer for inspiration, although I do want to visit the current exhibit in Portland. I am thanking Winslow Elementary School for hosting my fourth visit to their school - three in this school year! 

I did a birthday visit last year in one of the first grade classrooms. We had a great time and the teacher was very happy with the visit. This past December I was contacted to return to Winslow to present to 100 students and their parents. An interactive presentation was requested! In January I arrived with 100 "faux" balloons and in a breathless half hour had the kids and parents making body percussion music, counting with their balloons and adding movements to The Number Dance. I was pleased with the day and surprised at how well it went. I guess I wasn't the only one pleased, as I received a call from the principal asking me to return and once again lead a reading and counting session - with the entire school of 500 students! My first thought - do I have to make 500 balloons? I didn't, the parent group did - bless their souls:)

I arrived for the big event, which was the kickoff for their March Madness Math-a thon to raise money for their playground. An inflatable screen was set up and the principal, who had scanned Zero, ran a powerpoint as I read the book. What fun to see all those balloons going up and coming down. I am happy to report that the kids raised $5000 in two weeks gathering pledges to support a 30 minute all school math session. After the assembly, the  first grade teacher from the year before asked me to her room. Would I come back in April and spend a day with PreK, K and Grade 1?

Yesterday was packed full of double and triple class sessions with the youngest students. We focused on A Isn't for Fox, writing a group poem together based on rhythm and learning about Cowboy Billy. We had a wonderful day together - again.

We all know how nice it feels to be wanted, but Winslow has opened its arms to me in a way I never expected. Thank you, Winslow Elementary - but those words don't come close to expressing my appreciation for your interest and support of me and my writing.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

No one way

Today I attended the first of two sessions with an award winning journalist. I look forward to the next eight weeks of working on a manuscript, having access to the journalist's ear and in June sitting down with fellow participants for constructive criticism and input. Beyond her work as a journalist, our mentor has published an adult memoir and a children's book.

I was surprised how parts of her children's book were similar to Cowboy Billy, especially the ending. But even more interesting was the incredibly different path we took in getting that first book published. Both books were based on a true family story. Cowboy Billy was picked off the slush pile - the pile of unsolicited manuscripts that arrive at every publishing house and linger there for months waiting for an intern to read them and maybe send it upstairs to an editor for further review. She wrote her book (we both had various people critique and offer suggestions), and then approached a famous artisit to do the art work. We both were rejected several times in our first attempts to find a publisher. When she had her agent shop it around, she landed a contract, despite breaking the cardinal rule of not acquiring your own illustrator. But who is going to turn down a famous artist who has already agreed to do the book? I don't have an agent - an ongoing question in my mind! I saw one or two sketches from Cowboy Billy, but never saw the real artwork until the finished book arrived. No input allowed. She worked hand in hand with both the illustrator and the editor in developing the book.

I don't begrudge her any of the success she has found. Her life as a journalist has allowed her to meet many people and she has developed the self confidence to make the most of her talent and abilities and to put herself out there when it counts. I just hope I can develop some of that over the next eight weeks as I work with her on my writing. I don't want to be her when I grow up, but I do need to be me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Leaving My Comfort Zone

Let it be known that I am a shy introvert, TIME magazine recently affirmed that I am not alone and that it is not a bad thing. That being said, shy introverts still need to function in a rather extroverted world. I have spent the better part of my life trying to do just that - fit in. Now, when I finally realize I can just be who I am and not worry about fitting in, along comes an opportunity to leave the comfort of my 'one class at a time' school visits and go big. Well, bigger than I was going.

One at a time classroom visits are an easy step from regular teaching. The one exception is that every 30 minutes I have a brand new class with the bright eager ones, the bored ones, the you can't teach me anything ones and the sweet one who just wants a hug. You just don't know who is who. By the end of the thirty minutes you do know, but then they are gone and the next mystery class appears. The challenge, however, is invigorating and for every less than successful class presentation there are a dozen great experiences.

So I was not prepared for the phone call from the Title 1 director from Winslow Elementary School asking if I would do a presentation for 100 Title 1 students and their parents. I admit, I stumbled through an initial response as that voice in my head was screaming Don't Do It! I tried to explain that I had never done presentations on that scale and then I heard myself asking, "What did you have in mind?" The answer : A 30 minute presentation that is interactive.

Gulp. I thought back to directing 120 high school students in various successful concerts, forgetting momentarily the sheer fright I endured , and agreed to do it.

Long story short - it was a fabulous experience. The principal, staff and students were amazing and we had a great time together. So great, in fact, that this past week I read Zero, Zilch, Nada to over 500 students and staff at Winslow to help kick off their first March Maddness Mathathon. It too, was a fun time, with PTO made paper balloons, a power point of the book shown on an inflatable screen by the principal, and a gym full 0f kids chanting Harry's balloon song together. So this shy introvert expanded her comfort zone a bit, but only temporarily. I am returning to Winslow to spend a day with K-1 classes doing those single classroom visits.
Thanks, WES!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I'm Baaack!

So in my last post in July, I said I hadn't fallen off the face of the earth or broken my arm, etc. What I did do was have surgery on my right shoulder in September and it totally knocked the wheels off my wagon, so to speak. I thought my brother-in-law was being funny when he said it took a year to return to a sense of normalcy - he wasn't. But I am now able to work at the computer for a longer period of time, as well as try to catch up on everything that I let slide...... Of course, when your wagon doesn't have all its wheels working right, you have the most deliveries to make - check out my calendar of upcoming events and you will know what I mean. Most certainly not complaining, just a bit overwhelmed:)

I had a wonderful signing at LL Bean's on December 10th with a photo appearing in the Maine Sunday Telegram. Thanks to the photographer and I hope his little one is enjoying A Isn't for Fox. I continue to volunteer in the second grade and have written several math related pieces that I am hoping to begin submitting to publishers soon. I am still trying to figure out the everchanging market place and what publishers are wanting. The E revolution continues to muddy the waters.

My other creative endeavor in the past year has been designing quilt patterns. Two of my designs were picked up by Timeless Treasures Fabrics in New York City. These patterns - Askew and A Wee Bit Askew - are available for download at Look under projects on the menu bar. My goal in the next few weeks is to change one page on my web site to showcase my quilt patterns and provide information on where they can be purchased.

It's a beautiful day - enjoy it!