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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Easy Letter To Santa Template

Looking for a simple template for you child to use to write his/her letter to Santa?
I have one here: http://home.cogeco.ca/~madelinebarr/letter_to_santa.pdf

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some YA Books Dontated! Yippy!

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of meeting fellow writer Joanne Levy at a local coffee shop. We had meet through twitter and have been corresponding ever since.

When I sent out a tweet about the book drive my work was doing for Habitat for Humanity, Joanne was one of the first people to pipe up. She wanted to donate some books. Fantastic! When we met we talked for a bit and I expected her to hand me a book or two. I was shocked when she hoisted up onto the table a bag FULL of YA books. Ten in all. Yes, TEN.

After picking my jaw up off the floor, we went through the books - some even signed. I cannot believe how generous people can be for people they have never met.

Below is a photo and a list of the books Joanne has donated.


  • Radiance by Alyson Noel (x2)
  • Trance by Linda Gerber (x2 - 1 which is signed)
  • Wake by Lisa McMann (x2 - both signed)
  • Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (signed by Margaret Stohl)
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King (signed)
  • What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook


Joanne, thank you so much for the wonderful books. You're so generous. They look like fabulous books and I think I am going to have to go buy some of them for myself. I'm sure the families going into these HFH new homes will love them.

Interested in donating a book to the book drive? Please email me at auntieflamingo@gmail.com or visit me on twitter @auntieflamingo for more information.

Your help is needed. We need books for children of all ages.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'm So Excited And I Just Can't Hide It!

Today, I received a package filled with children's books for our Book Drive for Habitat For Humanity Hamilton Robert Land Project (Phase 1) and the Eva Rothwell Resource Centre library.

And what is more exciting is I'm in Canada and these books were sent to me from Australia! I would like to send a huge, heart felt thanks to writer BELINDA J of Australia for sending me the following books:
  • And Kangaroo Played His Didgeridoo - by Nigel Gray - illustrated by Glen Singleton
  • When Henery Caught Imaginitis - by Nick Bland
  • Henry and Amy (Right-way-round and upside down) - by Stephen Michael King
  • Mutt Dog - by Stephen Michael King
  • The Pocket Dogs - by Margaret Wild - illustrated by Stephen Michael King
  • Za-za's Baby Brother - by Lucy Cousins
  • Let's Read DVD and posters

Belinda and I only know each other through twitter.

Belinda, I was over joyed when I received the package and overwhelmed by your generosity. One of the conditions to be met for these families to qualify for these homes is they must be prepared to contribute hundreds of hours of Sweat Equity (work on the home.) Children of the families can contribute to these Sweat Equity hours by keeping their grades up. Books, such as these, and reading will help them achieve this goal and more in life.

Interested in donating a book to the book drive? Please email me at auntieflamingo@gmail.com or visit me on twitter @auntieflamingo for more information.

Your help is needed. We need books for children of all ages.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Book Drive is ON

There is so much I want to tell you I'm not sure which point to start with first. If you want to jump directly to the book drive information just scroll down to the title BOOK DRIVE.

I'll start with this: I do not like to donate money to charity!

It's true. The reason I don't like donating money is because I don't know where my money is going. Is it going to administration fees? Is it going to someone who is abusing the charity? Is someone else pocketing it before it gets where it needs to go? Is the charity actually a scam?

I know it's a terrible thought but these things happen.

I do want to donate and I like to volunteer so I jumped at the opportunity, through my day job, at a chance to volunteer with Habitat For Humanity on a building project in my community. There are two reasons why I wanted to help with this organization.

1) I'm donating my time and as much or as little as I want. I know exactly where my time is going and I am doing good.

2) The families who require the organization assistance is getting a "hand up" not a "hand out." These families have to put in “sweat equity” into their home - meaning they help build it and are taught how to maintain it.

Ok so what does this have to do with a book drive?

The build I'm participating in a Phase 1 consisting of 4 town home units. So far the families that had have been accepted for these home are single mothers of 3 or more children. I am a married, working mother of 2 children and I know how difficult that is financially, physically and emotionally. These mother's are raising 3 or more children on their own while working 2 or 3 jobs. I can't imagine how they do it.


BOOK DRIVE
We have decided to hold a book drive for these families and I need your help. I am looking for children's books from infant to Young Adult. If you are interested in donating you can email me at auntieflamingo@gmail.com and I can give you more information and where to send your books.

AUTHORS! I have extra information for you. If you would like to donate a signed copy of your book just email me at auntieflamingo@gmail.com and let me know. I will send you information on where to send your book. When I receive your book I will post your donation on both my blogs, http://madelinebarr.blogspot.com/ & http://auntieflamingo.blogspot.com/ PLUS I have been given permission to post your donation on our HFH blog at http://cawlocal555socialjustice.blogspot.com/

So, a book for us, exposure for you and another child reading. You can't argue the importance of a child reading....can you?

How much exposure will you get? Not sure exactly but let's put it this way:

- Your book posted on 3 blogs
- I'll tweet your donation @auntieflamingo
- There are more than 7,800 staff at my work. More than 2000 are in the union supporting this build.
- The build has barely started and has been in the newspaper 3 times 4 times as of October 5, 2010.
- The populations on my city is roughly 504,559
- You will get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing you were part of something special

I hope to get enough signed book donations to put into a special package (like a large basket or something.) I plan on handing over the signed books separately from the other books.

One more note: I believe in Habitat For Humaity so much (now that I know more about the organization) I plan to participate in future builds after this one with my work.

More information:
Habitat For Humanity Hamilton: http://www.habitathamilton.ca
CAW Loca 555 HFH Build Blog: http://cawlocal555socialjustice.blogspot.com/
Habitat For Humanity Canada: http://habitat.ca

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Quick Update

I have bad news and I have good news.

The bad news I received a rejection letter from my latest submission/inquery. I was so excited about it but hey, that's the way it goes.

The good news is I took that same manuscript and posted it to my new critique group and have received some great suggestions. I'm making changes and I will post it with the group again later. Once I'm happy with all the changes I think I am going to try to get an agent.

So that's where I'm at. I haven't posted much because I've been busy editing my manuscript.

Friday, July 9, 2010

3 Weeks

Today marks 3 weeks since I sent my status inquiry letter to the publisher. I haven't received a response yet and that's ok. I haven't been to the mailbox today though, so there could be a response today.
Follow me on twitter @auntieflamingo where I will tweet #WhatsInTheMailToday.

I didn't expect to have a response by now but I was hoping...dreaming.

The 1st week I didn't expect anything since the post office told me it would take a week for my letter to get to the publisher.

I wasn't really expecting anything the 2nd week since publishing houses are very busy and need time to respond to the mass of mail they get. However, the publisher's website states "Letters clearly marked Status Inquiry will be given immediate attention." - Which I did. I also assume it will take a week for their letter to get back to me in the SASE I provided in my letter (yes, I did include a SASE in my original submission as well) I guess I had a glimmer of hope for a response in week 2 since I'm also available by other means - like email.

Today is the end of week 3. I think expecting something today is a little....ok - overly optimistic. Publishers are very busy and I can understand and appreciate that it takes some time to responding to all the postal mail they receive.

I have been asked by several people - What are you going to do if you don't hear anything back? How long will you wait?

I still believe 'No News Is Good News.' I'm very please the manuscript I sent in January did not get rejected right away. This tells me my writing is getting better and, when scouting out the right home for my manuscripts, I'm not so far off the mark. I'm certain the publisher will get back to me when they're ready to get back to me. If I had a choice of receiving a rejection letter now or a possible acceptance 3-6 months from now, of course, I would choose the acceptance. I'm in love with the story I submitted and I feel the publisher I sent it to is a great fit. There is nothing more I would like to see then to have this story in print. I will re-evaluate the situation at a later day and figure out what to do from there. For now, I'll patiently wait for a reply, work on other manuscripts and keep dreaming.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Status Inquiry Letter

Today, I sent a status inquiry letter to one of the publishers who currently have my picture book manuscript. I only send status inquiry letters if the publisher's website indicates it's okay to do so after a certain amount of time.

At the post office I asked how long it would take for the letter to get to its destination. The answer was "About a week." I don't know if I can wait that long, I'm too excited. I'm guessing I shouldn't expect a response for at least 2 weeks. *sigh*

The last time I sent a status inquiry letter to a publisher my manuscipt had made it to the final round for publishing. Unfortunatly, it was not chosen. I'm hoping this time the results are different.

I'll keep you posted. :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NaPiBoWriWee Is Kicking My Butt!!

Today is Day 6 of NaPiBoWriWee. Don't even ask me where Day 3,4 & 5 went. Up until I started typing this I thought we were on Day 5.

Today, I have only 2 and a half picture book manuscripts written. NaPiBoWriWee is kicking my butt. But that's ok because I still have two manuscripts to work on if nothing else.

What happened? Well, my excuse is lack of sleep. I had a sick baby for 2 weeks prior to NaPiBoWriWee starting and I didn't get much sleep. I can't do much writing until the kids go to bed and this week I have been going to bed right after them. I just can't stay awake.

I'm going to continue to try to write more manuscripts this week and see where it takes me. If I don't get all 7 done this week I might extend NaPiBoWriWee and change the name to NaPiBoWri2Wee for myself (I can do that right?)

I'm sure you're all feeling the pressure, too. Let me know how you're doing. Are you having better luck or are we in the same boat?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

NaPiBoWriWee Day 2

Good Morning

It's day 2 of NaPiBoWriWee. Some how I finished my first picture book manuscript last night. Not sure how I squeezed it in. I probably stayed up later than I should have. I'm feeling sluggish this morning. I guess staying up late and getting up at 5 AM to tend to a sick baby 3 days in a row will do that to ya. Here I am Sunday morning, no makeup, drinking my first cup of coffee to try to get myself going. Can you tell what's on my mind?


(Be nice, I'm half asleep here)

While drinking my coffee Jim Hill and I had a little twitter conversation about being distracted today by children's shows on TV. There are some great shows and we both admitted we liked watching them. Sometimes I find some great story ideas from them. (Without copying them. You don't want to do that!) Here is a great writing exercise: Watch the beginning of a children's show and then write the ending using the characters from the show. I often watch the ending of the show afterwards and compare the endings. This helps me get my creative juices flowing for writing my picture book ideas. (Just so I'm clear: I am not suggesting you steal ideas from TV to write your books. Come up with your own ideas.)

So today I am unsure which story I will tackle next. I have one rhyming idea which I might work on that little by little throughout the week, one story idea that doesn't have an ending and several more I have to go lookup because I'm too tired to remember. :) I'm looking forward to writing today and now that I have had my coffee I feel ready to go.

How are you doing today? Did you need your coffee? How do you get your creative juices flowing? Let me know what you're thinking or send a comment just to say Hi.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

NaPiBoWriWee Day 1

All right! Here we go.

It's Day 1 of National Picture Book Writing Week (NaPiBoWriWee) - writing 7 picture books in 7 days.

If you haven't already, there's still time to let Paula Yoo (the hostess of NaPiBoWriWee) know you are participating in the challenge and get entered into a draw.

How are you doing so far?

In typical Auntie Flamingo style, I'm already behind! I have the pen and paper out but I have written nothing. Zip. Nada. Ziltch! But the idea is boucing around in my head and once the kids are in bed I'm hoping I have the energy to let it all pour out. It's not unusual for me to start off slow. By the end of the week I will be flying and perhaps write 2 manuscripts in one day. It also doesn't help to have a sick 17 month old clinging to me. Hhmm, is that a 'reason' or an 'excuse?' It donesn't matter because I plan to have something written by the end of the day.

If you're behind like me then Paula's Day 1 b;og entry will comfort you. Read it here. http://paulayoo.com/content/napibowriwee-2010-day-one-sat-may-1-2010#comment-1026

Having problems registering on Paula's site? Read http://paulayoo.com/content/napibowriwee-2010-day-one-part-2-sat-may-1-2010

Be sure to leave your comments and good luck!

Friday, April 30, 2010

NaPiBoWriWee Is Almost Here

May 1, 2010 marks the beginning of the 2nd annual NaPiBoWriWee Challenge.

I'm ready, I think. How about you?

Be sure to read Paula Yoo's inspirational blog: http://paulayoo.com/content/napibowriwee-2010-final-inspirational-blog-30-fri-43010

Feel free to drop me a comnment and let me know how things are going.

Have fun and good luck!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Non-fiction Picture Book. Yikes!

This year for NaPiBoWriWee I am going to attempt to do something I have never done before - Write a non-fiction picture book. Yikes!

Just saying it out loud makes me want to run the other way. I don't know where to begin.

Well, I guess first I need to decided what the non-fiction picture book is going to be about. In this case it is who it is going to be about. I have two personalities I would like to write about who I have a connection to.

Next, I need to search the Internet and see if it's 'been done.' Even if it has 'been done' I need to decide if I can put a different spin on the book or if I should abandon the idea altogether. Fortunately, before I got too far into this I did a quick search on Amazon and discover one of my ideas has 'been done' and maybe even 'over done.' There appears to be at least 72 children's books about Buffalo Bill Cody (I wanted to write about him because I'm somehow related to him.) My other idea seems to be fresh. And, while searching, I came up with another personality I could write about so I'm jotting it down for later.

Ok, now, I will need to do a little research to get the facts. I hope this week I can find time to get the facts because NaPiBoWriWee starts next week!!

I also plan to search the site of my author friend Paula Yoo http://paulayoo.com/ (founder of NaPiBoWriWee) She has written two non-fiction picture books: SHINING STAR: THE ANNA MAY WONG STORY and Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds - The Sammy Lee Story. Her site has a forum area where she (and other authors) will answer your questions.

As I learn more about writing a non-fiction picture book I will share it with you here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Video You and Your Kids Will Love

This video was made by my friend, Joe, and his two girls, Serra (7) and Amara (4). I should also mention the music is by DnR a band my friend, Joe, is a member of.




I think the Ollie the Otter was the funniest part. (Sorry I called you a gopher before, Ollie)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's coming. Are You Ready?

I participated last year, enjoyed it and plan to take the challenge again. It's the 2nd annual NaPiBoWriWee hosted by Paula Yoo. (National Picture Book Writing Week) May 1, 2010 - May 7, 2010



The goal: Try to write 7 picture book manuscripts (rough drafts) in 7 days!

Insane? I know!

The concept is to get those ideas out of your head and on paper and to write every day. The story must have a beginning, a middle and an end. I know what you're thinking, "There's no way I can do that!" or "I don't have time." I thought that too last year but somehow I managed. There were days when I barely got a sentence out and then on another day I would complete 2 manuscripts.

Even if you only got one manuscript done as long as your try and write every day for that week. Do that and, congratulations, you won!

Last year I was on a maternity leave from my full time job but I was busy and sleep deprived. This year I'm still busy with my family (they're always first), still sleep deprived AND I'm back at my full time job. So, this should be interesting on how I fit it in and try to blog about it along the way.

Ok, full NaPiBoWriWee details can be found on Paula's site at http://www.paulayoo.com/content/natl-picture-book-writing-week-napibowriwee-2010-may-1-7-2010

Check back here to follow along with me on my NaPiBoWriWee progress.

Paula is also writing Inspirational NaPiBoWriWee Blog posts from now until May 1st.

Paula Yoo is author of Good Enough (HarperCollins), Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds: The Sammy Lee Story (illustrated by Dom Lee, published by Lee & Low Books in 2003) and Shooting Star: The Anna May Wong Story (illustrated by Lin Wang, published by Lee & Low Books.) Read more about Paula at http://paulayoo.com/bio

Monday, March 29, 2010

$$ = Eco Savvy = Coolness

I don't mind helping my son with a fund raiser if the product is a good one and is not too expensive. Chocolate is usually one of those items that sell quickly in my workplace, with me buying the first box or two (or three.) You can imagine my disappointment when last fall he brought home a fund raiser for some exspensive environmental items. Now, don't get me wrong, I want to help the environment just as much as the next person, and I do, but exspensive items are difficult to sell plus it's not chocolate. :( I didn't take the order form to work and now I am regretting it. Why? I didn't want my son to feel bad so I bought something from him that I could use that wasn't too exspensive and now my coworkers ask me about it all the time.

For $20 I puchased the Plantable Eco Calendar. It was a 2010 desktop calendar infused with wildflower seeds and made with 100% post cosumer waste content.


I didn't realize how cool this was until I actually planted some of the pages.

I guess I was doubting if it was going to work but about 2 days after planting and watering the pages in soil I spotted the 1st little sprout.

Now, in my office, three pots(January, February and the title page) hold many little sprouts reaching for the light.



People come into the office and ask about the calendar and the plants, usually reacting with a "Cool!" I can't wait until the plants actually flower.

If my son has this fund raiser again I will be sure to bring the form into work.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Trailer: SCARS by Cheryl Rainfield



Available March 24, 2010. http://cherylrainfield.com

A portion of the sales of SCARS will go to RAINN and the Toronto Rape Crisis Center.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More Than One Way To Make A Difference

I'm very pleased with myself. Yesterday, I submitted forms to participate in a Habitat For Humanity project.


Photo by Suat Eman

I would have liked to participate in the actual build/construction part of the project but there are a few things preventing from doing that this year. What I didn't realize is there are so many other areas where help is needed to make a build successful and fortunetly I have skills in some of these areas. I have volunteered to participate in the newsletter, project website and the project promotion. I have done a lot of work on newsletters (Duh, I'm a writer and I was the editor of the Perspectives Newsletter) and websites, so I am hoping I will be called upon to help develop these areas. I'm not too sure what will be involved with the project promotion but I'm interested in learning.

I'm very excited to help make a difference and can't wait to get started. If/when I get contacted to participate I will be posting here and add the label "Habitat For Humanity."

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Met Lesley Livingston, Author Of DARKLIGHT

Today I got the privilege of meeting Lesley Livingston, author of WONDROUS STRANGE, at a local Chapters promoting her new book DARKLIGHT.



I recently bought both of her books and after hearing the excerpt she read today, I cannot wait to read them.



If her books are half as good as she is friendly, then I'm sure I am really going to enjoy them.



For now, I will leave you with some pictures from today's event and report back once I've read her books.



*Thanks to my 7 year old son for taking these pictures. Great job!*

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Great Sudoku Puzzle books

I love puzzles and games. If you are like me and looking for a good Sudoku puzzle book here are my recommendations.


Pocket Size Sudoku Volume 1 (Paperback)
(Oct 25, 2009) by D. R. Sloan


Over 200 multilevel Sudoku puzzles. Perfect size to take anywhere.








Sudoku Volume 1 - Paperback - Large Print (Oct 12, 2009) by D. R. Sloan

Over 200 large-print, multi-level Sudoku puzzles.












Both books are available on amazon.com. Just click on the titles above for direct links to the books on Amazon.

Happy Solving!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Must Read

Read it. Loved it. Waiting for the next one.

SMUDGE'S MARK by Claudia Osmond.



I can totally see this becoming a movie.

Friday, January 1, 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Happy New Year and welcome to 2010!

2009 was good to me. I was so close to getting my first picture book published. My manuscript was one of six manuscripts to make it to the final round in selections at a small publishing house. Unfortunetly, they only publish one children's book title a year and regretably the couldn't take mine. What a rush to be so close!
I participated in 3 writing challenges: NaPiBoWriWee (May 1-7) where I met some wonderful writers, PiBoIdMo (November) where I won a draw and had 5 of my ideas reviewed by an agent (more on that in another post), and NovPAD (November) which I completed but did not polish my poems for the final Chapbook submission (though there is still time.) And though I did not submit my writing to many magazines or publishers this year I did have a sci-fi poem published in the printed issue of Scifikuest (I hope to receive my November contributor's copy soon.)


This year, though I am back at my full time job after being on a 1 year maternity leave, I plan to participate in all of those challenges again. I'm editing the manuscript that was so close to being published and plan to submit it as much as possible to those publishers that are a good fit for the book. I'm very pleased with the changes I have made to it and I'm more confident than ever. I have my ideas from PiBoIdMo ready for NaPiBoWriWee which will be the only time I write new picture book manuscripts this year. The rest of the year I will polish the manuscripts I already have and write articles for children magazines. I will maintain my blog on my thoughts, progress and general happenings in my day to day life.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year and you will come back to visit me here to see my progress and share your comments with me.

All The Best. CHEERS!