Category Archives: Authors

FUN HAPPENS! CHANGES URL

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ATTENTION ALL FUN HAPPENS! FOLLOWERS 

I am in process of moving my blog to a new site: http://www.marylaudien.com

I value your visits to my  WordPress Blog and the comments you leave.  I am hopeful that you will subscribe to my new site:

HUMOROUS KIDLIT & Tender, Sassy Posts

You will expect to find two types of posts:

  • TENDER TUESDAYS 

  • FUN KIDLIT FRIDAYS

I’m looking forward to meeting up with you on my new site.  Please copy the URL now, so that we can continue to share fun stories with one another. (http://www.marylaudien.com)- easy to remember if you know my name…

 

I Am What I Read: 5 Ways to Nurture Reading Identity by Paula Bourque — Nerdy Book Club

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Over the past few years as a K-8 literacy coach I’ve worked with students to help them create and connect with their writing identities. I wanted them to live “writerly” lives and explore what it meant to be a writer. I wrote a book about that exploration (Close Writing). I know, as writers we […]

via I Am What I Read: 5 Ways to Nurture Reading Identity by Paula Bourque — Nerdy Book Club

TENDER TUESDAYS

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I know, I know… it’s back to Wacky Wednesdays.  So hard to keep on a schedule while traveling and working on one’s book!

YOU WANT PRAIRIE GIRL TO DO WHAT?

-A SAILING GET-AWAY? ARE YOU CRAZY?

My boyfriend (now husband) had enthusiastically sailed in his earlier years, and when he suggested that we should charter a boat for a weekend and give it a try, I somewhat reluctantly agreed. After all, I was PRAIRIE GIRL, what did I know about sailing the Pacific Northwest? Absolutely nothing! He, on the other hand, had apparently moved to Vancouver Island for a stint in his early 30’s and immediately notified the Royal Victoria Yacht Club that he was ready to join their membership. (Incredible as it seems, that didn’t work out so well for him! Could it have been that he didn’t even own a sailboat at the time?)

Nevertheless, one bright and early Saturday morning, sleeping bags and pillows were loaded, in preparation of leaving the Vancouver dock in our rented vessel. Boyfriend (now husband) feeling excited to be on the water, in contrast with Prairie Girl feeling uncertain, noting how run down and grubby the tired sailboat looked. Where was the gleaming yacht with the relaxed couple sipping freshly brewed coffee, like in the Lotto Max ads? Well, they certainly hadn’t used this old tub for their ad campaign! Somehow this sea adventure felt like déjà vu. It was only a few months prior to this that boyfriend (now husband) had taken her up to the top of Blackcomb in Whistler and suggested she ski down. Prairie Girl was starting to have those same unnerving feelings as he manoeuvred his way out of the slip on Granville Island.

The selling feature of the weekend was to get away from the stress and strain of career and single parenting to RELAX! Right, that keyword RELAXED, never actually happened that entire weekend for PRAIRIE GIRL. Once out in the strait, heading towards Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast, the sails were hoisted and we were instantaneously heeled over. (Of course, she had noted that it was brisk and windy that morning, but she had no idea!) A simultaneous EXHILIARATING / FREAKY EXPERIENCE! Novice PRAIRIE GIRL had never even heard of a tiller or known anyone who knew how to use one. Her prairie roots were showing big time! She held on for dear life, trying to brace herself so that she wouldn’t fall over the edge. Can you picture her white knuckles and look of terror?

 

Did she let herself enjoy the absence of the motor sounds and the smell of the lovely sea air? Well maybe… eventually. Was her boyfriend (now husband) enjoying himself and his Prairie Girl’s reaction to the big event? Oh yes! He knew it would only get more chaotic as they entered Gibson’s overcrowded marina to be instructed to dock as far in as possible. Obviously her boyfriend (now husband) hadn’t remembered the necessity of making reservations well in advance!

 

Miraculously, the boat was docked, and the marina’s bathroom was found immediately. (That’s right, holding one’s bladder for the entire crossing was mandatory, as Prairie Girl couldn’t let go of her grip to use the somewhat stinky head below…)

 

Of course, once docked and relaxed, Prairie Girl announced that she might be more of an “après-sail” sailor. The evening was lovely, sitting out on the back of the boat gazing up at the stars that night. All was perfect until it was time to prepare for bed. Of course, boyfriend (now husband) hit his berth and was unconscious immediately. Prairie Girl… not so! She tried concentrating on the mellow rocking of the boat, but could hear some creature moving above her head on the cabin roof. It made scratching noises… RATS!!! She kept still as long as she could, but eventually had to awaken her boyfriend (now husband) to save her from the RATS invading their boat! According to him, it’s common for seagulls to perch on one’s boat and walk about. Boyfriend (now husband) wasn’t concerned and simply rolled over and resumed sawing logs, while she kept a fearful vigil waiting for the RATS to descend upon them in the cabin.

 

The deceptive weekend focus was later divulged to Prairie Girl, once safely back on the mainland. Boyfriend (now husband) was seeking a suitable partner for a future of sailboat ownership and adventure. Well, was she it? Is it possible she actually passed boyfriend’s test? (Probably some of her saner readers are questioning why she would even want to?)

 

Some of you reading this can relate to Prairie Girl’s virgin sailing experience; I know you can!  It would be such fun to read your memorable FIRST SAIL. Please leave your story in the LEAVE A COMMENT section below this post. (Just click on it and a window opens for you to write in.)

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SAILING FASHIONISTA! BOATING & SHOPPING… OH YES!

 

You may find this hard to believe, but this same Prairie Girl is just about to launch a humorous picture book, illustrated by Dave Alavoine (Pacific Yachting Magazine’s cartoonist for COCKPIT CONFESSIONS) about family sailing vacations. Can you imagine?! (WHO’S the CAPTAIN? – End of September)

Mel at Helm

PRAIRIE GIRL?!?

TENDER TUESDAYS

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WARNING: RACE TO BUOYS AT YOUR OWN RISK!

We can be spontaneous! Can’t we? Plans changed, our expected company cancelled, and guess what? A long weekend out on our Catalina 28 stretched before us (the first one all season, where the gods had aligned us with a free weekend and a perfect wind and sunshine prediction). At least, that’s what we envisioned…

With 4 free days ahead of us, we toyed with destination possibilities and settled on the nearest – Mark Bay (between Newcastle Island and Nanaimo on Vancouver Island) – a mere 2.5 hour sail away from home! My working senior husband was exhausted from attending corporate meetings in Vancouver and his retired author wanna-be wife was due for a break herself. GREAT TIMING!

We hoped to arrive in time to tie up to a mooring buoy, and actually “vedge” for a couple of nights before a final sailing day home. The Captain visualized himself taking the dinghy over to the Nanaimo Harbour and casually making his way up to his favorite marine store, Harbour Chandler. His crew thought they’d walk the Nanaimo Sea Wall and indulge themselves on French toast and lattés at Mon Petit Choux. Obviously hikes around Newcastle and Protection Islands were also on her list.

Naturally, we didn’t get away until work was put away for the weekend and the boat was provisioned for our relaxing water retreat. Not planning ahead, we hadn’t expected the entire Island to have the same last minute plan as us! Obviously they weren’t working on summer Fridays, as every single mooring buoy was reserved by the time we arrived mid-afternoon. DUH! Oblivious us forgot this was Nanaimo’s BATHTUB RACE weekend! Remember?

NO PROBLEM! We’re old hands at anchoring, I mean, really, who needs to be tied up to a buoy?

Evidently, the Captain did! We no sooner dropped the anchor, that he spied a familiar sailboat motor by us. We had just encountered this boat tied up to a buoy while searching through the marine park. Snap decisions were made! The race to the vacant buoy was on! We’d be tied up for the weekend, yet!  (Much more relaxing when one can never rely on accurate weather forecasts!)

The anchor was pulled up and the throttle aimed forward at top speed. As we bee-lined it for the targeted buoy, imagine our surprise when we found the sailboat’s dinghy tied up to it. He was returning to the coveted buoy!

How deflated we felt as the Captain veered away in search of open water (which was getting less easy to find) in which to drop the anchor, once again. The crew casually questioned the Captain about the depth we were in, as it was obvious that we were experiencing low tide (very, very low tide!). His calm response was, ” 3.5 feet, but remember, I’ve calibrated it to always calculate another 8 feet for keel displacement.”

No sooner were the words out of his mouth, KABOOM! CRUNCH! (Oops! Maybe there was a tad of mis-calculation on that calibration!) You can feel it, can’t you? Yep, we were hung up on some flat rocks about 3.5 feet under us!

 You know the saying, Some days you watch the show and other days you are the show!

Indeed! The tide was coming in, but the Captain was anxious to free us from our stony captor- the sooner, the better. (We really didn’t want to prolong the show, now did we?) Reversing just made us KLUNK into some other stony underwater grip. Once we stopped trying to dislodge ourselves, it took maybe 2 minutes tops and the incoming tide freed us and we motored out of the bay with our caps pulled down low and our collars pulled up high. (The crew half expected to hear cheers as we motored our way out of the bay…)

KeelDamage1

Sitting on the TwoCan beside the haul out dock, waiting for morning to come to assess our damage, we couldn’t bring ourselves to call or message anyone about our embarrassing little calamity. But wouldn’t you know it? Our dear SCYC friends were on their way to rendezvous with the club’s Summer Cruise and caught the Captain’s request for assistance. They followed the entire radio exchange; of course they did! Words out and something tells me a nomination for the annual “MEMA AWARD”(Most Embarrassing Moment Award) will be forthcoming at the Commodore’s Ball this year…

The Captain is still shaking his head in disbelief. “S_ _ _ HAPPENS!@!” … Oops, forgive me, I meant to say “ACCIDENTS HAPPEN!” (Of course I did!)

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And the woman writing about this little teensy mishap on the water, is in the process of publishing, “WHO’S the CAPTAIN?” Perhaps when you read the AUTHOR PAGE of her nautical picture book, you might understand why this “hiccup” definitely could be possible!

I love cruising with MY CAPTAIN, how about you?  Maybe you’re the CAPTAIN yourself and have some interesting tales to share.  Remember, “misery loves company”! Share some of your stories by clicking on the LEAVE A REPLY (Enter your comment here) below the post. ( We really would feel better if you could top our MEMA moment!!)

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION #2

I’m finally getting back on track after a chilly Spring Cruise with SCYC (our yacht club), an overhaul landscaping job of our front yard, a trip to Portland, setting up publishing files for my picture book, WHO’S the CAPTAIN? … just to name a few distractions from TENDER TUESDAYS!

On FREAKY FRIDAY, I explained how meeting Dave Alavoine (the cartoonist for COCKPIT CONFESSIONS in PACIFIC YACHTING MAGAZINE) and starting our collaborative process together was inspired. I had already written this repetitive language picture book with a sassy nautical glossary, and had prepared notes for what the action in the cartoons would look like and the dialogue that the sailing family on vacation would be sharing. Dave took my notes home with him to his studio in North Vancouver, and he’d sketch out a draft in black and white, one at a time, once we’d agreed on how the characters should look… and that a took a few tries! Dave wanted a more mature, full-bodied woman figure for the mom. (He continued to stick her into the cartoons every once in awhile, just to keep me on my toes!)

It was inspirational, over the many months, going back and forth with details to fine tune the cartoons to appeal to both children and adults alike (on different levels, of course). Each time I’d open up a final colored painting of one of the images, it was like opening a birthday gift! We were creating something together, that was entertaining, educationally challenging , and most of all- humorous and relatable! Exactly what I had initially visualized when writing the book. Dave’s finely crafted vignettes always had a little surprise something inserted to enhance the humor- whether it was through adding his signature seagull’s cheekiness or his use of nautical terms to challenge the reader.

Just writing about the process that we have collaborated on, makes me want to share this collectable book with you. Dave is a true gentleman and always positive and willing to meet the next deadline, without any hesitation. The publishing process is long and there has been a lot of waiting time, with attempts to publish traditionally by sending out numerous queries. His patience has been much better than mine, waiting for replies.

I  can’t wait any longer and thus have found, TellWell, a Canadian self-publishing firm in Victoria. Their design team have met with me and were equally impressed with the quality of Dave’s cartoons. We are on our way!

Dave’s a man with a wealth of experience as a British Merchant Mariner and a 3rd Officer of freighter ships, but also as a nautical painter, a political cartoonist, and of course, a nautical cartoonist for PACIFIC YACHTING Magazine. He has also recently illustrated a new book (published by Evergreen), entitled, LEARN to SAIL the HARD WAY. If you’re looking for a humorous adult book regarding novice sailors, this is a great read!

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Now that you’ve met my inspiration, tell us about your inspiration. What or who inspires you to stretch yourself and take risks? Click on LEAVE A COMMENT below. We’re all anxious for you to share your stories! JUST DO IT! (PLEASE!)

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION

AN APOLOGY TO MY FOLLOWERS: I know this isn’t Tender Tuesday or Wacky Wednesday, and not even Theatrical Thursday… Please accept my apology for publishing this on Freaky Friday! (I’ve been a little busy….)

Many of you may not be aware that I’m in process of publishing my first Picture Book! I waited for months to have the carefully chosen publishers respond to my query and tell me how anxious they were to get the project to print. I dreamt of bidding wars over my manuscripts- seriously! You’re shaking your head right now, thinking another disillusioned novice gets a dose of reality. Not exactly! I have had some experience with publishing in a former segment of my life and after retiring from my full-on career as an IB principal- threw myself into writing 3 humorous Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). (I’m being cheeky here and pointing out that they’re listed in the blog roll to the right of this post with links to Amazon and Red Tuque Books- just in case you’d like to check them out… ha!)

I was in a BIG rush to break into the book publishing world at that point and just couldn’t wait around for publishers to acknowledge receipt of my manuscript (MEANING: those that would even consider glancing at an unsolicited manuscript). That’s right, I never looked too hard for a literary agent. I figured I had researched enough and through my amazing educational career with literacy, knew which publishers would be ideal for my books. Well, wasn’t that a bit of a shock when they didn’t immediately call, upon receipt of my query packets, to offer a contract?

At that point, I thought I could make it work on my own, so I published with CreateSpace (self-publishers associated with Amazon). Let’s just say, I’m not sure anyone actually found my novels, even though they promised great distribution, if authors did all the right things. I totally worked diligently, booking readings, setting up a website, blog , twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. I put my ebooks out on Smashwords, as well as Kindle, so that it would be available on all e-reader platforms. I found a Canadian Distributor (Red Tuque Books) and purchased ads for catalogues and literary newspapers, etc. I set up tables at X’mas and summer markets, and the list goes on…

What was the lesson learned from all that effort? THE BOOK BUSINESS is a difficult one to break into (near impossible, in fact, no matter how many webinars you watch, How To books you buy, subscriptions you have to Writers Digest, Book Baby, Canadian Children’s Book Center, etc.). However, in spite of all that, I still had to listen to my inner voice that was saying, “Hey Mary, do you think you’re a writer?” The answer is YES! And I had one particular story going through my mind, ever since I started sailing the Pacific North-West in my late 40’s on our TwoCan Catalina sailboat. I knew I had to publish it, and as I wrote this picture book, at the core of the inspiration were the delightful cartoons that were created and published monthly by Pacific Yachting Magazine’s COCKPIT CONFESSIONS’ cartoonist. Each vignette for this repetitive language picture book, had to have an amusing twist that would engage children, as well as parents and grandparents, and the entire boating community. The day I set up a meeting with Dave Alavoine in Starbucks in North Vancouver, was a day I’ll never forget.

Dave and I gave each other hints for how we’d recognize one another. (I had already been on the web looking at his past shows of his political cartoons, so I assumed I had a bit of an advantage.) But no, he was the one who figured out it was me- could it have been the meeting agendas laid out or the stack of my Frenchie novels, that gave me away? I chuckle to myself when I reminisce about that first meeting. I left it feeling like I was walking on air. He was such a lovely man and could visualize what I was looking for in the cartoons as we went through the text (which laid the context) and the action and dialogue I envisioned for each of the 23 images. Although, he was already committed to another book deal (Learn to Sail the Hard Way) and, of course, had monthly commitments with Pacific Yachting Magazine, he agreed to collaborate with me on OUR project, WHO’S the CAPTAIN?

This is the image that will be used on the cover of our book (I thought you might just like to have a sneak preview …)

Cover_004In my next installment I’ll explore more of the “tender moments” that transpired between Dave and Mary in their collaboration process of this awesome picture book that is on its way to becoming a reality! The core element to the success of this project has been INSPIRATION!

I know many of you who read my TENDER TUESDAYS have inspirational stories of you own. I would be so grateful if you would click on LEAVE a COMMENT below this post and leave your story. I promise to respond to all comments that are left. It enriches our experience, when one shares their thoughts with us. Please do!

 

 

AUTHOR VOICE

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(Catalogue Article Submission to Red Tuque Books)

 WRITING with VOICE

by Mary Laudien

During my career as an educator/principal, I was innovative in structuring and implementing Writers’ Workshop in West Vancouver schools. The success that the students experienced by taking risks and realizing their potential as writers was brought home years later, when one of my earlier Grade One classes held a Grade 12 graduation party with their parents, and invited my former teaching partner and I to attend. The families wanted to acknowledge that they recognized how their confident children/learners had been so successfully launched in their school careers and were all anticipating exciting post secondary plans for their future. Writers’ Workshop was a powerful tool to bring parent involvement into the classroom as the students were immersed with excellent models through published authors and illustrators, and even their teacher! That’s right! I first started writing stories for my students (and parents), just to model that I loved writing, as well, and was excited to be a risk-taker!

What became a self-knowledge piece for these young writers was VOICE. Through examining the styles of  writers/illustrators, they recognized the patterns that authors use in structuring picture books (eg., cumulative, problem-solving, rhyme and rhythm, chronological, etc.). As well, after studying published picture books through Author Studies, a new story could be introduced and the students were able to identify who wrote the book, based on the VOICE of the writer. This became something that the students strove to develop in their own early writing attempts. When sharing their own published books on Author Podium days, they took pride when a peer acknowledged their success in writing with VOICE.

Now that I publish my own middle grade novels (The Frenchie Series), picture books (Who’s the Captain?), and blog posts, I feel gratified when a reader comments that my writing has a distinct VOICE. This is when I know that my personal style is coming through my work. Authors all have it. And you can find your VOICE, as well!

As just one final tip, if you want to hear your personal VOICE in your writing, you need to constantly do the Author Mumble. This means read your writing aloud, so that you can hear it. You’ll discover a lot about your style and voice through the dialogue flow that you’ve created and the personality traits of your characters.

You might care to know what words I’d use to describe my personal voice. They include: tender, cheeky, amusing with a bit of attitude, and personal.

As you check out my site: FUN HAPPENS-KIDLIT & BLOGS with ATTITUDE, I’d appreciate it if you left me a comment or two pertaining to VOICE.  Don’t hesitate to go back into the  archives (on side panel) as there are numerous examples of cheekiness- I promise!!  Thanks for dropping in.