Category Archives: Inspiration



MEET INSPIRATION – Instalment #3

I know… I know…. it isn’t Tender Tuesday-it’s Marathon Monday.  That’s the point, I had to write my Tuesday post today…

I want to share how easily it is for me to relate to Dave Alavoine’s cartoons, as well as being inspired. In the PACIFIC YACHTING MAGAZINE (JUNE 2016 edition of COCKPIT CONFESSIONS), his cartoon illustrated a submitted story, entitled, SHORT WHITE WATER. The minute I read it, I was compelled to write about one of our early sailing experiences going through a pass in the Gulf Islands. (I’d love to scan this published cartoon here for you, but don’t want to break copyright.Please look it up!)

Several years ago, when my husband and I had just started sailing a 27foot Catalina, we docked for the night at Maple Bay Marina on Vancouver Island. Rather than start preparing dinner, after a long day on the water, we chose to go up to the pub restaurant. While enjoying our meal, we met a personable couple that were also sailing to Silva Bay (on Gabriola Island) the next day. We hit it off with these novice sailors, who were just like us! They had just bought a 24foot sailboat for some new adventures. He was an engineer and she was a judge and they lived on an acreage on Vancouver Island with their horses. Both couples were excited about being on the  water and we had some fun (and scary) tales to share with one another that evening. As we left the restaurant that night, we agreed to hook up with one another the next day at our new destination.

I’m not sure what they did after dinner that night, but my cautious husband had his charts and tide tables out, figuring out precisely when we’d be going through the Gabriola Pass. Apparently, it’s important to time it right so that you go through during slack water, as the tide starts to change directions.   So we followed our plan, and motored doughnuts at the mouth of the pass, waiting for the exact time that it would be safe to proceed.  I decided to sit up front and watch how my capable husband would manoeuvre the ON EDGE (The naming of our first boat is another story…!) through the pass. Well, didn’t I get a surprise, as we went through the middle of those tidal whirlpools at 7 knots when all 110 pounds of me took on air? Yep, I could have flown right off the deck onto the rocks, but luckily had held onto a halyard, as we approached. Being somewhat inexperienced, once we passed through and hit calmer seas, we both felt simultaneously relieved and exhilarated that we’d made it to the other side unscathed … (Okay, I admit I had a bruised bottom!) We couldn’t wait to meet up with our newfound friends to swap stories!

When we finally arrived at dock in Silva Bay, we spotted our new acquaintances sitting on the back of their small sailboat, sipping wine. They waved and shouted us over. We were shocked to see them docked and settled in before us!  How had that happened? When we inquired how they had managed to arrive before us, when one had to wait to go through the pass in slack water;  our question sent them into convulsions of laughter! Replying between gasps, “We didn’t know about all that, so we just went through when we got there. We shut our eyes and held on when it started to look dangerous and didn’t open them up again until we were spit out on the other end!” OMG! They cracked up over our incredulous expressions- I mean, really, who reads charts and tide tables? DUH! Obviously not this intelligent, professional couple!

I’m sure you’ve been inspired by experiences or artists, as well! I’m posting a print of a painting that Dave gifted me with during a visit to his home and studio (Polaris Design). It is not a cartoon, but a historical painting of the R.C.M.P.’s “St.Roch” – the first West to East transit of the N.W. Passage. This just gives you an indication of the depth of Dave’s artistic abilities. Tell us about an artist that has inspired you to react to their work in some creative manner. (Leave your story in the Leave a Comment section below.)  I hope you’ll look up the cartoon in PACTIFIC YACHTING’S MAGAZINE (June, 2016) to see Dave’s cartoon and understand why it was such a great prompt (and inspiration) for my story.






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!

Learn_to_Sail_ Image

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!)




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!



MEET the AUTHOR: Mary Laudien


photoFrenchie X2 Author PhotoMary's visit

After reading the article entitled Meet the Agent- Barbara Lowenstein in Writer’s Digest (Feb., 2013), it occurred to me it might be helpful for my blog readers to know more about Mary Laudien, the Middle Grade Author. I decided to follow Kara Gebhart’s simplified format to provide this info to my blog followers (All 3 of you, but I know there are many more of you who were just waiting for an invite to subscribe!). If you seek more detailed information, you can always go to my website:

Who is Mary Laudien? 

  • a retired innovative educator  (Known for successfully transforming the public schools she was principal of into International Baccalaureate World Schools)
  • a newly appointed International Baccalaureate Recognition Ambassador  (The IB program provides a world class education with its best educational practices.)
  • an author with two books in her Frenchie Series published and a third written and ready for publication

Why Does She Write?

  • to share her love of Kidlit and promote strong reading and writing skills in schools (her passion)
  • to have a blast writing humorous, entertaining Middle Grade books for “tweens” (that even reluctant readers will want to pick up and read)
  • to share her novels with kids in schools and libraries as a way to inspire experimentation with powerful blog writing
  • to use her knowledge of “tweens” and create contemporary novels that acknowledge this age group (ages 9-13) as fun, interesting, dynamic and developing.  It gives kids, parents and grandparents  a chance to laugh at themselves and not take family change and themselves quite so seriously (single families, extended families, career moms, latchkey kids, new pets, responsibilities, technology issues, etc.).

Books Published

book front coverFrenchie X2 Cover

Why Write Blog Posts?

  • modeling blog writing for Middle Grade Readers. The Frenchie Series have blogs written nightly by Ethan (the 13 year old main character) to all of his Frenchie followers-Frenchie’s Best Friend
  • using life experiences and interests and writing entertaining, powerful blogs for others to critique
  • helping middle grade readers, educators, parents, librarians and pet lovers to find me
  • seeking readers who can enjoy the humor in contemporary life and adore their pets
  • helping other writers (students included) in their journey to publication


  • readers
  • followers
  • reviewers
  • other writers
  • publishers
  • agents


  • creating “shabby chic” furniture pieces
  • voracious reader
  • decorating and fashion
  • volunteer work: International Baccalaureate Recognition Ambassador
  • Zumba dancing and fitness
  • hiking
  • sailing
  • speaking French
  • dog sitting my sons’ French Bulldogs – Bert and Cecile
  • traveling
  • entertaining friends and family


  • living author: Jodi Picoult (provocative examination of social issues that make you think from all perspectives)
  • dead authors: Maeve Binchy (humor and strong character voices) and Roald Dahl (humor and imagination)
  • city:  Paris, France
  • TV Shows: The Good Wife, Gray’s Anatomy, Parenthood, HBO’s NewsRoom
  • Foods: citric (lime) salad dressings, seafood, Lindt chocolate, nuts, avocados

Fun Facts

  • hosted a children’s radio show in Lahr, Germany for the children of the Canadian Armed Forces (CFN)
  • seconded to the University of Regina to teach in a model demonstration school on campus
  • opened the smallest German import store in a Freight Elevator in Regina, Saskatchewan (wooden toys, X’mas decorations and nutcrackers)
  • re-opened 2 primary schools in West Vancouver (Eagle Harbor and Cypress Park)
  • led West Bay Elementary’s (West Van, B.C.) transformation  as principal of the first public school in Western Canada to become an authorized IB World School
  • have grand dogs:  French Bulldogs (Bert and Cecile) named after Mary’s sons’ French grandparents (Her inspiration for writing the Frenchie series!)

Pet Peeves

  • keeping up technologically with an author platform. One learns so much (which is awesome), but there is always more that can be done.  It’s important to make educated choices about what the most effective ways are to reach one’s readers.

If you thought this was interesting or helpful, please don’t hesitate to pass it on to others, leave a comment, subscribe to my blog posts…whatever.  I love to write and share some of the wonderful things that I am learning through other books, blogs, tweets, webinars, authors and conferences. Your feedback is valuable to me.

A Five Star Amazon Review for Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars “A Great Story” Jan 20 2013

By NancyofUtah – Published on

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase

This second book of the Frenchie Series written by Mary Laudien is another fun-packed story. One can only imagine the chaos in the home when two puppies take up residence. From puppy surprises to training classes and other events involving Ethan and his mom, this is another hilarious read. It’s not only a humorous story of family and dogs, it’s all about kids growing up, learning about responsibility, and learning about charity. This story is packed with values for parents and young adults. I enjoyed this well-written story.

Pudsey YouTube Video Hilarious!


Authors find inspiration for their writing from all sorts of places.  It just so happens, as I finish revising my third Middle Grade novel of the humorous Frenchie Series, that watching the Ashleigh and Pudsey YouTube video from Britain’s Got Talent, helped me create the best ending ever.  Each time I re-read those final three chapters, I end up laughing hysterically.  This amuses my husband to hear the belly laughs coming from my office upstairs. I don’t want to give anything away, yet, but give yourself a treat and watch this humorous video.  It will make your day.  Share it with others who would enjoy some pet humor and love.

If you enjoy Ashleigh and Pudsey, why not leave me comment?  And if this appeals to you, you might want to check out my Frenchie series, as well.

Apparently, you will have to go to the link on YouTube, it will not allow you open it from my website.  One more step, unfortunately! Go to and search for Ashleigh and Pudsey HD-Britain’s Got Talent (auditions) Sorry about the inconvenience.

Maeve Binchy’s Writing Advice


Maeve Binchy, an entertaining Irish author, passed away recently and I wondered how many people around the world were touched by this woman through her books. Whenever I was on holidays and had a chance to pick up a book for an extended time, Maeve Binchy novels were always my first choice.  One could count on the story being set in Ireland, memorable  characters, and it would be an enjoyable, light read.

Before starting my second career as an author of Middle Years novels, I purchased Maeve Binchy’s ‘how to’ book, entitled, The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club.  This book is a collaborative effort (like guest blogging) with contributions from authors, poets, editors and publishers.  It served as a road map for a first time author.

Five key messages from Maeve Binchy and her contributors, include:

  1. be interested in the hero or heroine. This means giving them  a strong and memorable personality.
  2. think of the story as a journey. The characters must progress and be different people for better or worse at the end of the book.
  3. pace the story. Chart or outline your book chapter by chapter so that the story keeps moving forward.
  4. being a novelist requires effort and in Marian Keyes’ words, “Writing really is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.  Writing is work!
  5. refuse to take rejections personally.  Keep learning from feedback.

Maeve Binchy’s writing will be missed around the world.   What advice can one take away from her ambitious career? DO IT  and keep doing it for the fun and satisfaction experienced at the end of a project.  Keep writing everyone!



Winner of Blog Comment Contest


What a great time we had together last week at the  Nanaimo Wellington Branch!  It was great fun sharing the first two books of the Frenchie Series with the participants of the Summer Reading Club. Nothing is more enjoyable for an author of juvenile fiction to have the participants laughing during the readings and commenting on how they can personally relate to the novels.

Thank you to all of you who took the time to leave a comment about your experience with me or your recommendations to others to read Frenchie’s Best Friend-Follow the Blog and Frenchie X2-Follow the Blog. It made my day to hear that some of you are inspired to start your own blogs about your summer adventures.  I knew there were writers in the audience!

I have taken all of your names and put them in a very “scientific draw machine” (a ball cap) and I’d like to congratulate Gracie as the winner of the Frenchie Tee-Shirt and an autographed copy of Frenchie X2!  Gracie will be contacted by email to arrange drop off or mailing of her prizes.

Thanks everyone for your participation and HAPPY SUMMER READING! I sure hope my first two novels of the Frenchie series is on your reading list!