Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Might Find These Interesting Too

Here are two links to other blogs I have been reading. I particularly like these two posts: interesting, informative and entertaining.

Jill Corcoran Books - Live. Love. Write.

Editorial Anonymous - a blog of a children's book editor
The Subtle Art of Form Rejections

Sunday, December 6, 2009

PiboIdMo, 30 Ideas, A Draw, and Me the Winner!

In November I participated in the PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) Challenge hosted by Tara Lazar. The concept is to come up with 30 picture book in 30 days. What a wonderful brain storming exercise for getting those ideas out of your head without over thinking them. Sometimes we dismiss a story idea before giving it a chance. There was also a random draw for those who completed the challenge and had 30 ideas at the end of the month. There were 3 grand prizes of a kidlit agent reviewing your best five ideas and suggest which picture book concepts were worth pursuing.

Luck was on my side that day because my name was drawn! My prize is that Jill Corcoran of Herman Agency Inc. will review my top 5 picture book ideas. I'm very excite and can't wait to hear what Jill Corcoran has to say.

Well, I better get to work and flesh out my ideas. As the magician in Frosty the Snowman said, "I've got to get busy writing. Busy, busy, busy!|

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Letter To Santa Template

It's less than one month before the Big Guy comes sliding down the chimney to leave presents for good boys and girls. Have your children written their letter to Santa yet?

To help move the process along I have designed a cute and fun template for children to help them write their letter to Santa. The template is available in the Fun Stuff section on my home site at http://madelinebarr.blogspot.com/p/funstuff.html
Just click on Letter to Santa Template at the top of the list.

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mahna Mahna

This made me laugh as a kid and it still does so I am going to share it with you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fun Challenges For November

November is a busy time for an author. Well it's busy for an author who is up for a challenge. As many authors know, November is the time for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Other than learning how to properly say the acronym, the object of the challenge is to crank out 50,000 words of a novel by the end of the month. No reviewing. No editing. Just write. More information about NaNoWriMo can me found here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/

But what about those authors who don't write novels? What challenges are available for picture book authors or poets?

Two challenges I am participating in this November are the November PAD Challenge run by Robert Lee Brewer and PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) run by Tara Lazar. It's not too late to join in on the fun!

November Poem-A-Day Challenge - Every day in November Robert Lee Brewer posts a prompt and a poem. Join in by writing your own poem inspired by the prompt. At the end of November you will have a collection on 30 poems. Use December to edit, revise and organize the poems into a manuscript to be submitted to Robert and his wife in January. A winner will be selected by February 2nd. There may or may not be prizes but who cares? You'll have a manuscript at the end. Isn't that a great prize? Robert also leads a Poet Tuesday chat on Twitter on, well, Tuesday. I have found this chat very useful during this challenge.

PiBoIdMo(Picture Book Idea Month) - The goal of this challenge is to have 30 picture book ideas by the end of November. With the help from some wonder guest bloggers Tara Lazar has a blog entry every day in November to help inspire that perfect picture book idea. Plus if you participate you get to put a cool badge on your website or blog. PiBoIdMo is a perfect preparation for NaPiBoWriWee the first week of May.


NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week)
- It's crazy! It's fun! It's NaPiBoWriWee! 7 picture book drafts in 7 days. That's right, seven! NaPiBoWriWee is run by Paula Yoo and is the first week of May. I participated in the first one in May 2009 and had a great time. I was amazed what I accomplished by the end of the week. I know it's not done in November but I thought it was important to mention here.

The month is still young so join in the fun. Don't be afraid. The only way you can fail is if you don't try.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Name In Print

It's November which means a new issue of Scifaikuest and this one has my scifi tanka in it!
I do not have my contributor's copy yet but there is a picture of the cover of the new issue from their website.

Take a close look at the bottom of the cover. See all those names? The last one is mine! I like seeing my name in print...or at least a picture of the print in this case. Can't wait to get my copy to see my poem in print as well. Issues can be ordered at http://www.genremall.com/zinesr.htm#scifaikuest

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I Love Halloween - Some Pictures

I would like to share a few Halloween pictures with you.

I was at the grocery store yesterday (30th) and all the Halloween items were on sale. I fell in love with this welcome mat and just HAD to buy it.

I also picked up 2 pumpkins yesterday. One for me and one for my son. They were the last 2 'good' pumpkins left. I knew there was a pumpkin shortage because of all the rain but I didn't think it was THAT bad. I'm glad I didn't wait until today to pick them up. Anyway I carved mine last night and I designed it for my (almost) 1 year old daughter.

I made the template myself and carved it myself.

I wish I could find pictures of my jack-o-lanterns from previous years. I did a really awesome Tigger one year and another year I did Dora and Boots.

I Love Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Geeky/Halloween Pumpkin Template

I've entered a geeky pumpkin template design at ThinkGeek.com I am not an artist but I thought I would take a crack at it and here is the result. This brain is both geeky and Halloweeny.

Click on the image for a full page view.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Sister and Take Pride in Pickering Day (Environment)

Once again my sister, Margo, is in the news. She led a group of volunteers in planting over 600 trees and other vegetation as part of Take Pride in Pickering Day. She is an employee of Ontario Power Generation.

For the news article see:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Laughing at Lemmings

This literally made me laugh out loud. Too funny. Thanks Debbie!

Lemming writers

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Halloween Poem - JACK-O-LANTERNS


Jagged tooth grin
And nothing to say.
Candy he guards,
Keeping ghouls away.

Orange, cool armor he wears. His

Life, an internal light.
Armed with an eerie glow and the
Natural darkness of night.
Triangular, flashing eyes
Examine the area for miles.
Relentlessly protecting the sweet treats but
Never forgetting to

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Website Redesigned

I have redesigned my website. Have you seen it?


Next thing I need to do is get a domain name. There is a hidden page on the site but good luck finding it. :)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fun Halloween Last Year

I love Halloween. I guess it is the fantasy of it all. Dressing up, pretending you are someone else, decorating the house and creatively carving the pumpkin. Hmm, I'll have to see if I can find some picture of the pumpkin carvings I have done in previous years and post them. I've carved Dora and Tigger without a template. But that's not what I want to share with you today.

Last year, when Halloween came around, I was 18 days from having my 2nd child, however that didn't stop me from joining in on the festivities. My day job workplace had a Halloween costume contest.

I look fat...

... Oh wait, I'm 8 1/2 months pregnant.

There were quite a few chuckles and laughs that day. I tied for 2nd place and was beat out by a girl who dressed up like one of the Trailer Park Boys. She deserved it though because you had to take a double look before you realized she was a girl.

Again, this year, I have plans to dress up but you'll have to return to blog to find out what I/we dressed up as and for pictures of carved pumpkins.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Met Claudia Osmond author of Smudge's Mark

Here are the pictures taken by my 6 year old son (LOL) I'll update the text tomorrow.

Claudia is signing my book:

Claudia and me. Remember this is taken by a 6 year old so the picture is taken upwards. Claudia is not short, I'm tall (5'11")

We both bend down so my son can take a better picture. We look good.

Claudia, very friendly and very happy. Who can blame her? She has a wonderful YA book published.

Claudia and my little photographer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Creepy Crawlies Don't Creep Me Out Except For...

I don't get creeped out very easily by bugs and crawly thing.

I have a 6 (almost 7) year old son who is constantly showing me insects and other creatures he has found. I bait hooks and unhook fish. They don't creep me out. (This picture was from summer last year when I was pregnant)

I have a lizard that eats live crickets and wax worms. I can hold him and pat his little head. He doesn't creep me out.

A spider web full of little bugs and the spider, currently not in the picture, doesn't creep me out.
I have even touched hissing cockroaches. (Psst. It doesn't creep me out)

Centipede. CREEPS ME OUT!

All those little synchronized legs moving as it travels across the ceiling at lightning speed. Just looking at the picture makes my shoulders go up around my ears and my spine tingle as if this freaky insect is crawling down my back. Every time I walked under it I thought it was going to jump on my head. I'm so glad my camera has a good zoom feature.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Update - Please let Amigo be okay.

Good news - Amigo, the leopard gecko, is ok. He must have been too cold to move. I just checked on him and he has moved and is now in s different position. Whew! When I spoke to him he looked up at me as if to say, "What? Quit bothering me Crazy Lady I'm trying to sleep."

Please let Amigo be okay.

I noticed this morning Amigo's light was burnt out. For those of you who don't know Amigo is my very loved leopard gecko.

The light was on yesterday and it's not unusual for the light to burn out and not be change for a day (I'm not sitting watching him 24/7). At this point it's been less than 24 hours the light has been burt out. I changed the bulb but Amigo didn't move. I called him, blew on him through the hole in the rock he lived in and shook the terrarium lightly. He didn't move. I didn't open the terrarium or touch him for two reasons.

1) I didn't want to frighten him and
2) I want to believe he is okay.

I think he wasn't moving because he was too cold and he sleeps during the day anyway. I'll let the bulb warm him up and check on him later. I feel slightly sick in my stomach. I'll update the blog when I figure out his status.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Thought It Was Just Me

I thought it was just me. I thought I was the only author who had a little sort of mascot sitting by her computer to help her write.

Often, when I am at a stand still in my writing, I turn to Marge and think about my next step or ask her where I should go from here. Beside my computer I have a small figure of Marge Simpson I got from inside a Kellog's cereal box. Why Marge? Despite being a mother of 3 to a trouble maker, a genius and a baby, and the wife to an oaf of a husband, Marge always keeps it together. She always has the answer. I have two lovely children and a wonderful husband and if Marge can keep it together when things get a little rough, I can too. Am I crazy? Probably but despite that, talking about the writing issue with Marge helps me move forward and sort my thoughts. She helps keep me focused and keeps me in the world of imagination while I'm writing. Some of the best things about Marge are she won't talk back, she doesn't tells me my ideas are stupid and she never laughs at me.

I've discovered I am not the only author who has an inanimate writing buddy. Paula Yoo, author of SHINING STAR: THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY and GOOD ENOUGH, has a little writing friend named Bartlett Bear.

Which gives me comfort because either a) I'm not crazy to be talking to an inanimate object for answers or b) if I am crazy I'm not alone.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

No News Is Good News

I always say, "No news is good news." However, yesterday's "No news is good news." I received an email from Teri Santitoro of Scifaikuest accepting my sci-fi tanka for the November 2009 print edition of the magazine. This is wonderful because, not only do I get paid but, I get to see my poem in print in the contributor's copy I will receive. Though this is not a children's market it is still a publishing credit and I'm very pleased to post it here. :)

When it is published I will post the cover here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Modeling Clay Play

My son was playing with some modeling clay the other day and, of course, I had to jump in and play as well. Here is my creation:

What else did you expect?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Face In The Clouds

Yesterday we had a thunderstorm.......again.
On twitter Inkyelbows made a good point - Rain is a good reason to stay inside and write more.

I took some pictures of the clouds before it poured.

This one looks like a giant face. Can you see it?

Another wonderful thing about the rain is it makes the flowers grow. I am an expert at making flowers crunchy brown by planting them and forgetting them. The rain has made me look like a seasoned gardener.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

McDonalds' Misprint?

McDonalds' Misprint? Probably not but here's the story.

Yesterday, I decided to treat my son to McDonalds for dinner. When we visit McDonalds get Happy Meals together and compare toys and, of course, when we're done I usually let him have my toy. As you may already know, McDonalds is celebrating the 30th birthday of the Happy Meal.

Now, here's the strange thing that maybe someone can explain to me. On both the Happy Meal boxes and the Teenie Ty toys we got in the Happy Meal have a logo that reads “15 YEARS OF HAPPINESS.” There are 15 toys in all and you have to find 15 hidden gifts in their puzzle on the box. Obviously the Happy Meal is older than 15 because I remember having one as a child and lets just say not in my I'm 20s anymore.

I've searched the interenet and cannot find anything about McDonalds and 15 years. I've searched ebay where some people are already selling the toys and all of their toys have the same birthday logo but their's reads 30 years. Also, someone had the full collection of all 30 toys on ebay.

The Happy Meal Box. Note the logo on the left side.

The frog still in the package. Note the logo in the upper left corner.

The hamster toy. Note the logo on the tag. You might have to click on the picture to see a larger picture.

What is celebrating 15 years? Why isn't it 30? Is this a drastic misprint? Any thoughts?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Creative Children Book Trailers

I've been looking for examples of good children book trailers. In my opinion I have only seen two. They are both interesting colourful and the sound is clear.

The first one I have seen is the trailer for Pond Scum by Alan Silberberg. I love the animation and the lizard's speach. The trailer gives a magical feel which is prefect because that is what the book is about. ;) The trailer can be found here: http://silberbook-blog.blogspot.com/2007/04/pond-scum-book-trailer-part-deux.html

The second one I just came across today. The trailer for The Clever Stick by John Lechner is bright and colourful with soft gentle music. I'm now curious to see what the stick is up to. You can view this trailer here: >http://johnlechner.com/cleverstick_trailer.html

The ones I don't like are the ones with a scratchy recording of the author reading their book in a monotone voice while the odd, fuzzy still shot of the book appears on the screen.

Is there any children's book trailers that you love?

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Poem: Boys And Girls

Time for a quick poem.

by Auntie Flamingo

Boys make noise. Drums they smash.
Play with cars and make them crash.

Girls love curls and frilly things.
Squeals of joy for diamond rings.

Parents groan with heads that ache
From all the racket children make.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Would You Like Dessert, Um Desert, I mean Dessert?

No, I'm not MIA. Just been a little busy. With the kids home and their summer events, doctor appointments for my daughter (you have to follow me on twitter to find out what is going on there,) and family wanting to see the kids (and us wanting to see them too,) I've been a little busy and tired but loving every minute of it. Oh AND I have completed and new picture book manuscript and currently working the cover letter. Yes, I didn't forget about writing.

Today I want to talk about something I love....desserts.
I used to have trouble remembering how many S in the word. I don't enjoy eating deserts, the sand is too crunchy in my teeth. But if I was eating deSSerts I would want to have 2 and that's how many S are in the word. I know it is I little cheesy but it works and it's fun.

What words do you have a problem remember how to spell?
What do you do to remember how to spell certain words?

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hail, Hail The Teeth Are Here

Here are 2 pictures I took yesterday I thought you might be interested in.

First, here is the "lovely" weather we have been having this week. Yes, that is hail.

Second, and most important, here is a picture of my 7 month old daughter's first teeth.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Orange Lily

Originally uploaded by MadelineB2009
This is one of many photos I took of a beautiful orange lily I bought. I just thought is was so lovely. Click on the picture for a larger view and to see some of the other photos I took.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hero Man 1

My brother has put a cute video he made up on YouTube. It's best with the volume up.
Hero Man 1. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Don't Need Sleep To Make a Short Movie

Since I have been sleep deprived I have not been able to focus on my writing so I decided to focus on ways to spiffy up my website and blog. I have a computer background so, believe it or not, I do not find it too difficult to do when I am tired.

The laptop I received for Christmas has Windows Vista and I have been taking advantage of movie making program that comes with it, Windows Movie Maker. Using WMM and a photo editing program I created this short but cute video:

What I would really like to do is create a video with the blue/green screen effect also known as chroma keying. This is the same technique the weather person on the news uses when standing in from of a digital map. I'll be sure to let you know when I have completed something using chroma keying.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Great Online Bibliography Tool

It's been a long time since I had to do a bibliography. In school I learned how to do them for books and magazine but how do you do a bibliography citation for a web site or an interview?

While seaching the Internet for some answers I found this fantastic tool that will create a bibliography for you. EasyBib (http://www.easybib.com/) is a free, online, automatic bibliography & citation maker. You simply select the source for the citation (book, magazine, newspaper, website, interview, e-mail etc.) and the relavent information. When using a book you can simply enter the books ISBN number and it fills the information for you. After clicking the "Create citation" button the it creates the citation in the proper format.

I was doing an article on leopard geckos and was using a book with the ISBN of 0-7938-0258-X (note: the X is a capitle not lower case.) I entered the number and clicked on the "Autocite!" button. It then automatically entered all the information related to the book. Then I clicked the "Create citation" and receieve the result:
Hunziker, Ray. The Guide to Owning a Leopard Gecko. Minneapolis: TFH Publications, 1994.
From there I could add another citation or, if I was finished, I could email it, save it as a Word document or view it online.

Great tool! Try it for yourself at http://www.easybib.com/

Monday, June 8, 2009

Friendly Writer's Forum

Looking for a 'safe' place to ask a writing question? Want to talk about a new book you just read? A publication question?

Paula Yoo, author and screenwriter, has created a friendly forum on her website at
http://paulayoo.com/forum The forum headings include Announcements, Writing 101, Reading 101, Publishing 101, Author / Illustrator News and, of course, Procrastination, anyone?

In this forum there is no such thing as a stupid question and I have found everyone to be kind and helpful.

So grab a cup of coffee and I'll meet you over there.

Friday, June 5, 2009

World Environment Day Today

Today is World Environment Day. So it is only fitting to have a blog about the environment and I was lucky enough to have my sister point out the following.

Betty Zyvatkauskas writes about Pickering’s Alex Robertson Park in her blog Explore Durham. While hiking through the park she speaks with some experts including my sister, Margo, who works as an Assistant Scientist in the Environmental Programs Department at Ontario Power Generation.

Read Betty's Blog at:
Art meets nature in Alex Robertson Park

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Today I am going to share with you one of my other artsy-fartsy outlets. Besides writing I also play the clarinet.


It was my mom who introduced me to music. When my brother and I were young she enrolled us in organ lessons. We did it for many years.


I remember one year we were part of a concert. We had to go on stage play our song on the organ and then leave the stage for the next performer. I was so nervous I wanted to cry. I went out on the stage, sat down and played the first note. The wrong note. I stopped, looked at the keyboard and, again, played the wrong note. I couldn't remember where to start my song. I was paralyzed for a moment not knowing what to do. Then I thought I would ask the teacher who was off stage. I got up to go and get her and the audience started to clap because they thought I was done my song! How embarrassing! I didn't tell anyone but I didn't want to go back on that stage but I did. The teacher came back on stage with me, showed me the starting note and from there I was able to play my song. Boy, was I glad when that was over.


Though I hated practicing the organ, I now realize it was a great foundation for future music exploration. In grade 5 I started to play the violin. I was not very good at it and that only lasted a year. At the end of grade 6 we got to try out several instruments in music class to help us decide what instrument we would take in grades 7 & 8. I remember trying the flute, baritone (which I happen to be quite good at) and the clarinet. It was then I fell in love.

Grade 7 & 8 music class came easily to me because I could already read music. I continued to play the clarinet from grade 7 all the way through high school. I joined the band (yes I was a band geek) and played in the pit band for two musicals. I LOVED the musicals. I loved the clarinet so much I decided to buy one. (I actually have 2 now)


After high school I didn't play with a group for a couple of years. Then I ran into a high school friend on a bus and she said she was playing in the Burlington Top Hat Marching Orchestra (THMO) and I should come on out. Now the THMO is not your normal band. We never marched. We danced, walked, crawled, whatever got us through a parade. We would visit the crowd and sit down with them on the curb. Pose for pictures. If they offered us a drink we would take it. The audience got to know us in each parade and would wait for use each year, some having trays of food or drinks ready for us when we passed. Another thing we would do is interact with the children. When we stopped we would let them wear our hat, have them join us in the parade for a bit (of course returning them to their parents before we got to far) or let them play a drum. To read more about the Top Hat Marching Orchestra see their website at http://www.tophats.org/ I played with them for about 6 or 7 years.

This picture was taken at the Jell-O Festival in Le Roy, N.Y. by Robert Hoffman. That's me in the middle.


I am on a break. After I had my son I found it difficult to go to practices and parades though I did do a few. And now that I have 2 children and live in another city I find it really difficult. I'm a little busy changing poopy diapers and wiping up spit up. I guess I am thinking about it because I have the urge to get my clarinet out to play a little (which I might do) The nice thing about this band is I can go back whenever I am ready. And I plan to....some day.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Child's Honesty

I love how flat-out honest children are. My 6 year old son makes comments like "Mom you're still fat like when you were pregnant."
[in my defense - 9 months up, 9 months down. I still have 3 months left to get to my pre-pregnacy weight ;) ]

Sometimes I read my children picture book manuscripts to my son. His response is usually "ya, it's ok" or "I like it, I guess" as I view the back of his head as he runs off to play. A couple of days ago I decided to share with him my new picture book manuscript, "Elephant In the Cupboard." I read about 10% of the story and looked up to see my son smiling. I started to look behind me wondering what was so funny. Then I realized he was looking at me! I starting running my hand over my face looking for that crumb or pen mark on my face.

"What are you smiling at?"
He giggled, "The story, it's funny." Do my ears deceive me? He likes my story? Oh my, I have his full attention.
"Should I keep going then?" He frantically nodded his head.

I got to then end of the story and he was still sitting there and smiling at me.
"Read it again."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I've Been Thinking About My Best Friend

He always listened, he never talked back and he loved me unconditionally. His name was Simon and he was my best friend. I talked to him when I had a problem and he comforted me, he helped me when I had homework and stayed with me when I was sick. We used to play for hours on end; Hide-and-Seek, Tag, house. We were united when I was 9 and he died of old age a couple of years after I got married. Though he lived with the family he knew in his heart that I was his, he was very protective of me and really didn't like my husband (or any other guy for that matter.) After dating my husband for many months Simon finally decided to sit on his lap but only if he could sit in his lap and reach one paw out and touch me. I think he was saying, "I'll tolerate you because she likes you but she's still MY person."

He's trying to blend in. "If I sit really still..."

I miss his and often think about him. "Go ahead. Rub my belly. I dare you."

A young Simon waiting for the popcorn to come flying out of the old air popper.