Archive for October, 2009


October 14, 2009

Ever notice when you’re the busiest, your life becomes fragmented in your thoughts, words and actions like never before?

Sometimes fragments aren’t good things, because they make you forgetful, jump from project to project without enough care and thought, or cause you to run right into things without realizing it. Maybe it’s with your sentences or perhaps you stub your toe into your bookshelf. (Second time this week.)

Then again, there are the times fragments are a good thing. The first time I learned this was when I freelanced humor and opinion for the San Francisco Examiner.

I wrote a piece on my sensitivity to perfume, and created a scene about what would happen if we tried to regulate it in church. In the original version, I wrote the last line as a complete sentence. I don’t recall it now, but the editor called to tell me he was cutting it to two words.

Would they hire specially trained personnel to handle the problem?
Sniff bouncers.

“Two words?” I said. “That’s a fragment. Can we do this?”

“Of course,” the editor said. “We do it for emphasis.”

This is true in writing for humor, suspense, or depth of meaning.

As you sleep, if you have a long-drawn-out dream, it may not have important meaning for you, as if you have one stark image or line of dialogue that stays with you all day.

Write down the image or sentence of your dream. Describe it or how it made you feel. How does it relate to your life now?

Ever have a fragment of thought at an odd time and you wonder where it came from? If you think about it, you’ll realize it’s a key to something else. Could be a solution to a problem you’ve been pondering. An idea for a project. But when you’re NOT thinking about it, that’s when you relax and the mysteries of your soul and the universe can work.

Reading exercise: As you read, find fragments that are there for emphasis.
Writing exercise: In your project, try your hand at a fragment for humor, suspense, or meaning.
Life exercise: Pay attention to the fragments in your life. If they aren’t good fragments, slow down and take care. If they are interesting thought fragments, write them down and see where they lead you.

More Fragments: Recent books I’ve enjoyed: The Evolution of Calpurina Tate by Jacqueline Kelly, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and Dear Big V by Ellen Leroe.

Calling All Poets! Any Age . . . Haiku You . . .

October 12, 2009

Got a yen to haiku?

As the weather chills, thoughts turn to the holidays. So the Contra Costa Times is going cold turkey for their next poetry contest. Pen a haiku, inspired by any aspect of Thanksgiving Day — the food, the pilgrims, the football or parade. Send your haiku — three lines in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern — to by noon Oct. 26.
Read more reader-written haiku at ContraCosta or In

Art Contest for Kids in Grades K – 8

October 9, 2009

2010 Contest Guidelines
Postmark Deadline for Receiving Entries is
December 11, 2009

Calling all kids! (Teachers and librarians too!) Do you like to create with oil pastels? Cray-Pas is offering a contest for you. The majority of this art work must be done in oil pastels. Entries may also use combinations of pen and ink, pencil, and/or watercolors with oil pastels.

Required size: No larger than 12″ X 18″ and no smaller than 8″ X 10″.

Mulitple Entries: One age category per envelope – K-2, 3-5, or 6-8. Label each envelope with the age category and the number of entires iside. You may send all age category envelopes in one package.

Mail flat – – not rolled.

Prizes: Finalists – 150 total! 50 in each age category. Each receive a t-shirt imprinted with their artwork, award certificate, and Cray-Pas Expressionist 25 piece set.
Honorable Mentions – 24 entries selected among finalists receive an award certificate, wining artwork imprinted on t-shirt, and a Cray-Pas Expressionist 36 piece set.
Winners – 9 total – 3 winners from each age category of finalists receive a US Savings Bond: 1st Place: $200 2nd Place: $100 3rd Place: $50, an award certificate, Gelly Roll writing instruments, and art material from Sakura, sponsor prizes, winning artwork imprinted on a t-shirt, recognition in national publications and the contest gallery at

Teacher Awards – Teachers of the 9 students winners receive: A t-shirt imprinted with the winning artwork, Sakura art materials for classroom use, sponsor prizes, various types of Gelly Roll writing instruments, recognition in national publications and the contest gallery at
Finalist teachers receive a special thank you gift.

Random Teacher Award: One teacher will be randomly chosen from all entries to receive an assortment of Sakura products. Submittal of a student’s artwork qualifies the teacher for the drawing. Teachers of the top 9 winners are excluded.

School Awards
Schools whose studetns placed among the 9 winners will receive: a generous supply of Sakura art materials and writing instruments, and recognition in national art publications.

2010 CrayPas Entry Form
Student Certificate of Participation

Download The Official Certificate of Participation and fill one out for every participating student.

15th Annual Cray-Pas® Wonderful, Colorful, World Contest 2010

Grades K-1-2, 3-4-5, 6-7-8
2010 Entry Check List
– teachers please read carefully!

Teacher’s responsibilities are:
1) Use transparent tape to attach a completed entry form to the back of the student’s artwork; the student entry form and student’s artwork must match.

2) Ensure the student gives proper “credit” to that artist when the student’s artwork is “inspired by” another artist’s image. Space is provided on the contest entry form. Write in the artist’s name and publication that inspired the student.

3) EACH entry must be the work of one student only.

4) One entry per student.

Entry Image Criteria

Entries are judged based upon: image originality, creativity, emotional content, oil pastel skills, & age appropriateness. When an entry is “inspired” by a photograph or another artist’s image, credit must be given on the entry form to the artist. Art work must not be copied. An entry will be rejected when the image is a copy of an artist’s work, book illustration, magazine or newspaper content, or similar to a previous contest winner. See contest rules and regulations on entry form for further details.

• Entry Form Attached?

Entry forms should be completed by the TEACHER, and signed by both the student’s parent/guardian and art teacher. Only use transparent tape to attach one entry form to the back of the artwork, (no staples or paper clips). Teachers/parents are responsible for placing the correct student’s entry form on the back of the entry. If any of the above conditions are not met, or the writing on the form is illegible, the artwork will be disqualified.

• Original artwork vs. color copies?
Teachers may submit color copies that truly represent the quality and color in the work. The original MUST be available if the student’s piece is selected as a possible finalist. When the original is requested, overnight or second-day shipping is required; otherwise the piece may be disqualified.

• All artwork submitted to this contest cannot be returned.

Contest Deadline:
All entries must be mailed or shipped to Sakura with a postmark no later than December 11, 2009

2010 Contest Rules and Regulations :
• No purchase necessary. Contest open to legal residents of the 50 United States, District of Columbia, and Canada (except Quebec), grades K – 8 as of August 1, 2009 to December 11, 2009. Entries must be postmarked by December 11, 2009 and received by December 28, 2009.

Mail all entries to: Sakura Cray-Pas 2010 Wonderful Colorful Word Art Contest, 30780 San Clemente Street, Hayward, CA 94544. Void in Quebec where prohibited by law.

Finalists will be notified by mail by March, 2010.


Questions? Go to their website for more information.

The Owls in My Life – – The Universe Speaks

October 7, 2009

Many years ago, my mother gave me a stuffed owl for Christmas. He is perched on my bookshelf in the living room. She knew how much I loved Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon. Soon afterwards, I found a tiny stuffed owl for her.

At that point, we began noticing them everywhere. Although unfortunately I never saw them living, other than in a wild animal museum, I’d see figurines, insignia, stickers, or toy versions here and there.

The live owls in my backyard seemed to know when I’d need comfort, for they’d choose those nights to hoot a personal greeting to me. Like the day my mother passed away.

Last week my walking friend and neighbor, Hilde, and I discussed this and how sad we were about it.

The next day, a Great Horned Owl sat serenely on a tree stump in the open space behind our houses. His gray and white striped feathers blended in perfectly with his surroundings. He seemed unpreturbed that we stared at him with binoculars and then even my husband’s telescope.


And then it hit me.

“The universe was listening!” I said to Hilde.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“We were just talking yesterday about how we have never seen one in person and now here he has come for us.”

A favor granted; a blessing bestowed. The universe is listening. All you have to do is ask.

Exercise: 1. Are there moments of serendipity in your life? What is your special animal, symbol or blessing you find comfort in receiving? Remember to send it into the universe.
2. Play the Universe Library Game. Go to your library. Close your eyes. Randomly let your hands search for ANY book. Pull it off the shelves and open it to a page and point. What is the universe’s message for you today? Feel free to share here!

Mine: Mary Poppins Comes Back
“And all the time she felt astonished at the way she was behaving. It was as if there was another person inside her – – somebody with a very bad temper and an ugly face — who was making her feel cross.”

*I have to write a scene with some internalized emotion today. AND I felt this way just the other day. Two messages in one.

Museum of Children’s Art in Oakland (MOCHA)

October 2, 2009

Calling all kids! Tomorrow I’ll be reading Jackson and Bud’s Bumpy Ride at Oakland’s Museum of Children’s Art. Please come and participate in the story and the activities that follow.

Question about Tween Site and Contests

October 2, 2009

Is/How is this a contest? What age group is this for?
Thank You . Mary.

Good questions Mary! Thanks for asking. Not everyone who submits will get their work published or will win prizes. (A contest is when someone wins a prize or wins publication.) Each and every opportunity is slightly different. Guidelines are posted for each one. I asked the editor and she defined Tweens as ages 8 – 12. But she also mentioned that she had found an exceptional teen who she was actually hiring, and the editor intends to have possibilities for teen writers too!

I always encourage all young writers to submit their best work to a number of various publishers. Just like adult writers! If one editor doesn’t have room for it in their magazine/anthology/web site, etc., another one may snap it up and have just the place for it.

As always, read the guidelines very carefully. Good luck and let us know of any success or encouragement you encounter.

Writing, Recipe, Art, Photography and Music Talent from Kids Needed!

October 1, 2009

An editor from Tween contacted me with her fabulous website for tweens. There are numerous ways kids ages 8 – 12 can become involved with their creative passions.

**They can become TweenWorld reporters or photographers
**Write book reviews on featured works
**Submit recipe ideas for “Top Tween Chefs”
** Show their writing, art, music talents in the “Got Talent” dept, which is part of our “American Tween Dreams” promotion
** Show talent in multiple categories on a regular page called “XTreme Tweens.”

This site’s goal is to get tweens engaged and involved as contributors!
Here are a few quick links for examples:

So if you are a teacher, make sure your students know of this fantastic opportunity. If you are a kid – – check it out! The more experience you get creating and publishing will help you perfect your craft and allow you to get a nice list of credits on your publishing resume.

She also said they will be looking for enlarging their site to include teen writers in the future, too. So check their site and this blog for more information.

Don’t forget to let us know when you get published. It’s always fun to rejoice in each other’s successes!