Category Archives: Books

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…

 

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TENDER TUESDAYS

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YOU MEAN WE HAVE TO TAKE IT OUT ON THE WATER!

Sailboat ownership was new territory for Prairie Girl. She was so busy getting the new school year launched, that she barely had time to perseverate on the fact that they now owned their very own Catalina. Warm, fuzzy feelings descended upon her whenever she’d mention to her colleagues and parents at her school that they were now proud sailboat owners! (Oh yeah, she was still locked into her rosy vision of the beautiful people sailing in white, flowing nautical clothing, sipping champagne in the evening under the stars.) Obviously not grounded in reality! DUH! Instead of seeing a Catalina 27 that had had better days, she was transporting herself down the coastline on an imaginary 50 foot yacht. Something had to burst that bubble!

Reality hit the day husband announced they’d be moving their boat from Granville Is. over to a marina in North Vancouver, just a couple of blocks from their apartment.   He wanted it close by so that he could check it often and work on the boat projects that were needed. (By then, husband had quite a list, as being a German, he has a thing about all his possessions being kept like new.) Of course, Prairie Girl had no idea what moving the boat entailed, so she innocently invited her youngest son and his friend (who did know something about boating) along for the crossing.

They no sooner got out into English Bay with the current running against them, that husband experienced abrupt motor failure. It was an outboard motor that had to be hand started (you know, like a gas lawn mower), and then it appeared that he had flooded the thing from too many pulls. It took a few minutes to realize that the towing rope for the dinghy was not a floating rope, and as husband had slowed down, it had tangled in the prop. Within seconds (not minutes), it was apparent that the current was pushing us toward shore. And to make matters worse, husband was preoccupied with trying to steer a boat without power and holding up the outboard motor with his other hand so that Prairie Girl’s son’s friend could hang over the stern, trying to get the rope untangled. (Imagine her sudden realization that there was more to sailboat ownership than interior design and popping champagne corks!) Her son was equally traumatized, having had no experience whatsoever on a sailboat, either! Safety had never crossed her mind, as husband was always so calm and controlled. Thankfully, they somehow got the motor prop free, once again, and the engine miraculously started!

By then the winds were whipping them around, the motor was revving against the incoming current, making it difficult to make any headway, whatsoever. They’d missed the slack water opportunity and were forced to cross under the Lion’s Gate Bridge at less than an optimum time. In fact, they shot under the bridge like an out of control rolling log! What Prairie Girl envisioned (a calm, lovely picnic in the bay) and the reality of getting the boat into its resting place, were completely polarized.

Approaching the new marina was tense for the crew struggling to find the entrance, let alone the slip they’d been assigned. Of course, this marina had boathouses in it where people actually lived! Prairie Girl could see the crowd gathering as the motley crew attempted to dock and half expected a cheer to go up that they had made the perilous journey safely. (Actually, they were just concerned boaters realizing that novices were docking that could cause damage to their vessels.)

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Husband and Prairie Girl sent the boys on their way and locked up their boat. They trudged home in silence, prepared for bed, and fell fast asleep from exhaustion. It was only 6:00 pm.!

Could Prairie Girl be having second thoughts about sailboat ownership? Blimey, they hadn’t even hoisted the sails yet!

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The SHOW is over! Everyone’s back in their boathouses.

Do you remember your first boat? Did you have second thoughts about your purchase? Were you so traumatized that you NEVER SET FOOT ON ANOTHER SAILBOAT FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? Please, leave your stories for us. We want to hear all about those infamous maiden voyages. Just click below where it asks you to LEAVE A COMMENT and enter your adventure in the box. Also, leave your email address for notification, as the most humorous, entertaining story received will have a copy of WHO’S the CAPTAIN? mailed out to them upon printing. (You will want this collection of Dave Alavoine’s family sailing vacation cartoons, as the celebrated cartoonist of Cockpit Confessions in Pacific Yachting Magazine.) If you know any boaters that might have a story to tell, please send them this link, so that they can also share their story. http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com

 Thanks for visiting and sharing TENDER TUESDAYS!

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)

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PRAIRIE GIRL?!?

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!

 

 

TENDER TUESDAYS

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POST CRUISE SHIP BRIDGE LESSONS

                                               -Anyone Playing?

Welcome back to the Post Script of Cruise Ship Bridge Lessons.  I wonder if I’ve totally put you off enrolling in bridge lessons aboard after reading about our instructor, Christine, last week. I certainly hope not!  Believe me, she’s still in my head when I deal a game!  This memorable character left quite an impression on all of us!  My husband says I shouldn’t have been so polite when I mentioned one of the male passengers had declared, “Christine, you scare the ” s_ _t ” out of me!”

All teasing aside, our cruise did come to an end after 58 short days! My husband and I experienced a bit of emotional reluctance when expected to descend the gangplank for the final time. Who were we going to play BRIDGE with? How were we going to keep improving?  When would we have time to play BRIDGE, once we returned to reality?  Oh such deep, disturbing questions (and all mine)!

We had good reason to wonder.  Reality hits hard when one has been away from home for a couple of months.  Although we’d prepared “our people” at home with HUGE hints that we’d be dying to play BRIDGE with them upon our return… the invites never quite materialized.

There are several BRIDGE CLUBS available in our neighborhood, but Christine’s words of caution kept ringing in my ears.  She convinced me that we’d be decimated if we joined a group too soon, without further lessons.  Husband Ryan was too busy to indulge me with practice games (using our Joan Butts’ cards), knowing that it’s near impossible to play with 2! So what was a girl to do?  I kept reading my BRIDGE books, studying my notes and I joined lessons and practice sessions online at http://www.joanbuttsbridge.com  I highly recommend this site for anyone who is out there and wants to retain the skills you’ve gained. However, I should caution you…

BEWARE of  ONLINE BRIDGE ADDICTION!

Seriously, you start off thinking, I’ll just play 3 hands and 10 hands later, your husband is begging you to shut down, as the glare off the screen light is causing him sleeplessness…

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