2020, amwriting, back to school, book birthday, books, children's books, children's writing, coping, Covid-10, early chapter books, eifrig publishing, flattening the curve, hope, Jennifer Ball

A Book Birthday!

It’s a day to celebrate. Cleo’s Big Ideas: Onward and Upward! has its book birthday today! This is the second book I’ve written about Cleopatra W. Darby and the second book about Cleo that Jennifer Ball has illustrated.

This has been a much anticipated sequel as it was finished prior to the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, and due to shut downs etc. it ‘s had to wait, wait, wait. But as of today, the waiting is over.


In this Cleo’s second book, it’s a start of the new school term at Humble Elementary. Cleo’s main worries are how, to get,Winston, her pet tortoise to go to school with her, and how she and Ms. Mason will get along. Ms. Mason, never a fan of Cleo’s ideas or inventions, has been assigned as Cleo’s teacher.

The term begins with excitement over the class mascot contest and the happenings on NASA TV, which the whole school is following. And just when Cleo thinks Winston might sweep the mascot contest, space junk is spotted heading straight for Humble Elementary.

Cleo wants to save the day, but she’s going to need a little help from Sara and Albert, her two best friends.

Will Cleo’s ideas be big enough to stop space junk? Winston knows but he’s not telling, not unless you speak tortoise.

If you would like to check out more about Cleo then click on the link for Cleo’s Big Ideas: Flattening the Curve!, a free ebook created by myself and put out by Eifrig Publishing.

This year has been a challenging time for children, so much of what they know has been upended and the level of stress they find themselves dealing with has increased. Through Cleo’s Big Ideas: Flattening the Curve!, its my hope children can be encouraged to come up with their own ideas, no matter the size, to help make a positive change in the world around. them.

Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.     

Dalai Lama

Read more: https://www.wiseoldsayings.com/ripple-quotes/#ixzz6TFm5ezj0

adjusting, coping, Friendship, hope, kindness, love, mental health, quarantine

A Friend in Need

This is a beginning thread of texts shared by a group of my friends and I thought it was something that ought to be extended to a wider audience.

“Good morning . . . soooooo I have been feeling major changes over the last few days and am once again feeling so down and so alone I was going to ask you all to send me some good vibes … and then I thought, we are all probably feeling this absolute hopelessness, anxiety, fear, anger, loneliness . . . and I thought how awesome it would be if we collectively just sent positive loving vibes to each other . . . these vibes would then not only uplift us, but there would be a ripple effect of sending it out to there . . . to everyone.”

That text lead to responses from each member of the group that validated the original author’s feelings and offered support. In the end I think we all benefited from our friend in need who bravely reached out to be heard.

Anyone who’s reading this blog post and feels as my friend did this morning reach out if you can, but if you can’t know that there are positive loving vibes being sent out for you. We all need something uplifting right now.

So here’s an idea that I thought could also create a ripple effect. What if during the more frequent walks we’re all taking, we each take a picture of some sign of hope, or joy or beauty that we notice and send it to a friend or a family member? It might help us feel more connected in this disconnected though always online world.

Here’s a pic I took on my walk with my husband and son, the soon to be class of 2020 HS graduate. Talk about positive loving vibes.

Stay well, Jan

coping, kindness, kindness, pandemic, quarantine

When Words Fail

My brother-in-law has died as a result of Covid-19. My sister is heartbroken, my nieces are too as well as their children.

When before a touch or hug could take the place of words now we are left only with words. Words which, the right ones, are difficult to find, and any are difficult to utter.

Why is it that memories of a person don’t come quickly once that person has died?

Why do our thoughts feel empty though we have so many of them?

Why does it takes months and months before we can relieve and be comforted by our memories?

I have no answers. I can only offer images that speak of hope and beauty.

2020, adjusting, coping, mental health, pandemic, quarantine

I Have A Few Questions. Do You Have Any Answers?

Each day bleeds into the next, only differentiated by the weather or what’s for dinner. And with the unknown, of when, what day, or month, things will go back to some semblance of what we knew, now being the only known . . . how are you coping?

What have you found that’s helped? What hasn’t?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I never would have thought comfortable seating and good lighting were hard to come by in my house, but apparently they are. Is it the same with you?

With everyone in the house looking for the same kind of comfortable space to work in its been quite the give and take.

My goal for this week is to find a way not to have a back ache by the end of the day. Its a small goal and I hope Monday afternoon and a straighter back shows me I’ve achieved it. I’ll let you know.

Do you have any goals for this week?

Photo by icon0.com on Pexels.com

My suggestion-keep them small, really really small, go easy on yourself.

I wish you a good week, comfortable seating, good lighting.

Take care, stay well, Jan

amwriting, character interview, children's writing, picture book author, picture book illustrators, picture book manuscripts, work in progress

Character Interview

Why do it? What is it?

A character interview is an exercise that allows you to get to know your character through and through. Using questions you can learn how your character would react in any situation that comes their way.

As story tellers we place our characters in a setting and situation of our own devising, which is all well and good, but can be limiting. To create a character that lives on in the mind of the reader, that character has to be relatable, flawed, and has to affect the reader. One way of getting to know your character is by having your character answer a bunch of interview questions you’ve posed to them. It’s a great way to step outside your own thoughts about your character and get inside the head of your character so they can provide their own answers.

I often will write paragraphs about my character defining who they are all while thinking how they would react in a variety of situations. It helps me to keep my character’s consistency throughout the entire story. Presently, I’m lucky enough to have a picture book manuscript, Neveah’s Wonders, in consideration for publication. It’s a story about the concept of the seasons, as told from the perspective of a pre-school age little girl who is blind. When I came up with the idea for the story, I came up with the concept first, then the character. I thought about how my character, Neveah ,would react to the world around her. Here are a list of some simple questions I asked.

What’s your favorite sound? “My mommy’s singing. What’s yours?” asked Neveah.

Do you like the feeling of things that are hard? squishy? sticky? or soft? “I like things that are hard and smooth. Squishy soft things are yucky.” said Neveah.

What don’t you like? “I don’t like tags. Mommy cuts them off from my clothes. Do you have a tag in your shirt?” asked Neveah.

What’s your favorite thing to do? “Go on my swing when its sunny outside. Do you like the sun? I like how it feels on my eyelids. I like to play with my toy phones too. I have five of them. One plays music, one records, one has big buttons, one buzzes and one beeps. Do you have a phone? What sounds does it make? Can I hear it?” said Neveah.

Where is your favorite place to be? “I like to sleepover at my Nana’s. Do you sleep over at your Nana’s?” asked Neveah.

Do you have a favorite food? “Rice Krispies. I like it when they pop when you pour milk on them. Do you like Rice Krispies?” asked Neveah.

Just from the way she answered the questions I knew my character would be consistently curious. She would question everything she came across as she experienced the world and she’d be interested in all that she sensed.

My manuscript is a concept book and so my character Neveah shares her perspectives on what each of the seasons means to her, but my interview allowed me to experience her more fully and it helped me to create a character that readers can better relate to.

If you’re creating a picture book with the classic story structure of a character who has a want as well as a need and has to work through obstacles to achieve that want and or need Pixar has some great online lessons they offer. I came across a video, 4 Things Pixar Always Does to Create Memorable Characters, when I was thinking about this post. PIxar and Storybinder put it together. Check it out. It’s short and to the point. I think you’ll like it. https://nofilmschool.com/2017/06/watch-4-things-pixar-always-does-make-memorable-characters