"Everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book." - Stéphane Mallarmé
Writing time as been limited this year, though I can’t really complain. My time has been spent being fully present with my family—savoring sweet baby laughs, navigating tumultuous preschooler emotions paired with tremendous growth (hers and mine), finding stolen moments with the hubby between increasing work commitments, and taking our first vacation with kids.
Instead of beating myself up for not writing, I have adapted my mindset. Jess Keating tweeted it perfectly:
One thing that has changed my creative practice? Learning to love the gap.
The gap between where you are and where you want to be.
The gap between writing and written.
The gap between current status and future success.
All of it. Be happy in the gap and keep working.
I am learning to love the gap between where I want to be and where I am, between what I want to write and what hasn’t been written. Loving the gap means I am able to be present with my family rather than stress over what I have not written and my unmet goals.
In addition to inspirational author tweets, I have stayed connected to the KidLit community through challenges and blogs. And at just the right times, when I needed them most, I got three reminders that I am on the right path.
In March, I completed ReFoReMo and won Jen Betton’s TWILIGHT CHANT. Her beautiful illustrations are the perfect complement to Holly Thompson’s lyrical text—and the perfect reminder of being present! The book follows a family’s walk as they take in their natural surroundings and the animals that stir at twilight. An author’s note provides additional information about twilight and crepuscular animals.
In April, after a week of bedtime battles, I commented on Tara Lazar’s blog post featuring Cate Berry’s debut picture book PENGUIN AND TINY SHRIMP DON’T DO BEDTIME. I won, and this lighthearted look at the bedtime struggle reminded me I am not alone. Hilarious text and illustrations made bedtime a hit at our house (along with dropping naptime)!
In May, I was reminded to embrace the gap “before” success. I won SOMETIMES YOU FLY and a gorgeous art print from illustrator Jennifer Black Reinhardt at PictureBookBuilders. Beautiful illustrations and text reveal the importance of hard work and the failed attempts necessary to learn, grow, and succeed at various milestones of adolescence. Don’t forget to peek under the dust jacket!
Winning these books was a sign I am right where I need to be, even if I am taking another lap around the gap! A big thank you to Jess, Carrie & Kirsti, Jen, Tara, Cate, and Jennifer for the inspiration and support you each provide to the KidLit community and the encouragement your gifts have given me!
I set the goal this year to review one book each week to support fellow KidLit writers. I am one week ahead with 18 posted on Amazon. I have not, however, been as productive with sharing those reviews here. In fact, I have not been particularly productive with my writing this month.
What have I been doing?
Falling in love with my new baby!
Love Is (2017) by Diane Adams, art by Claire Keane
This book is about the love that grows as a girl learns to care for a duckling. With text like “holding something fragile” and “noisy midnight feedings,” it was easy to draw a connection to my new little guy. I fell in love with the poetic text and tender illustrations. It is also a great book to teach my daughter about caring for and loving her baby brother!
Raising an imaginative preschooler!
I Have a Balloon (2017) by Ariel Bernstein, art by Scott Magoon
My 3-year old’s favorite game is called “What do you like to do?” in which toys ask one another this very question to kick off some imaginative play. My daughter always selects a few toys and asks which I would like to be. Just like the characters in Bernstein's clever, debut book, my daughter always wants whichever toy I choose. After hearing my selection, she says, “that’s my favorite” and gives me a different toy! We also relate to the book’s disclaimer that it is not about sharing as my daughter reclaims all her old baby toys brought out for the new little one. In addition to being relatable on multiple levels, I love the strong character voices that are developed through dialogue only and the illustrations that are perfect for this humorous book.
Troubleshooting bedtime drama!
Go Sleep in Your Own Bed! (2017)
by Candace Fleming, art by Lori Nichols
If only our bedtime woes were as easily solved as those in Fleming’s book! I love the illustrations (those end pages!), onomatopoeia, repetition, energy, and read-aloudability of this guessing game book.
Things To Do (2017) by Elaine Magliaro, art by Catia Chien
Beautiful, concrete imagery explores unique perspectives of various objects a girl encounters throughout her day. This wonderful collection of poetry begs readers to personify everyday objects and consider what things they might do, which is a great activity to spark any writer’s imagination! With very little time to get BIC (butt in chair) these days, I’m grasping on to any form of “writing” I can – including collecting ideas from everyday experiences and studying the craft by reading as many picture books as I can with my little ones.
It’s time for Vivian Kirkfield’s #50PreciousWords writing challenge inspired by the birthday of Theodore Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Check out the guidelines and my entries below. Head over to Vivian's blog Picture Books Help Kids Soar to read more. Visit my entry from last year here.
The challenge: "Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, using only 50 words…they can all be different words, or you can use some of them over and over…just as long as the total word count of the story is 50 or less."
MARY HAD A LITTLE JAM
Mary had a little jam,
a secret recipe from Gram.
Mary entered the Grand Jam Slam.
Judges Pam and Sam tasted it with yam and ham.
The hot pepper flavor hit with a…BAM!
The judges could’ve drank up a dam.
The winner was NOT Mary’s Wham Jam.
Sheila was sure she’d never been sleepier.
Her body sunk into bed.
Her head nestled the pillow.
But, instead of a snore, she let out an…
Sheila wiped her nose and nestled deeper.
But, instead of a snore, she heard a…
Sheila snuggled her kitty pillow and…
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