Tag Archives: Books




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:



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…






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.)

YKNOT'S_New_ Home_copy

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!


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


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




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!



Say Your Name


Say Your Name

Mel at Helm

MEL at the HELM

One is constantly barraged with requests to “SAY YOUR NAME”. The problem is that some of us have had a few name changes over the years, and on a distracted day, one could inadvertently blurt out one of those previous names… I’m saving those stories for another post!

My first “change of name” experience happened on the first day of school.  The teacher was confronted with 2 MARY LYNNE students.  She made an on the spot judgement call, announcing that I would be MARY from that day forth, and the other little girl would be LYNNE.  It stuck.  I lost my dual name that day and never looked back. Albeit, my mom continued to refer to me as MARY LYNNE, but no one else paid a lick of attention to the fact that my identity had been altered that day.

The second occurrence occurred on my first wedding day.  I mistakenly (just kidding) married a French Canadian man and my first name was constantly being assimilated with my new French last name.  Let’s just say, the French side of the family preferred to refer to me as MARIE, NOT MARY, and certainly NOT MARY LYNNE! My English side of the family were not amused by the new “Frenchisized” version!

Many, many years later, after the divorce, I was ready to escape my French last name- desperate is more like it! However, having sons with the French last name, it seemed somewhat wrong for me to revert back to my original maiden name. (And anyways, I wasn’t too keen about that one, either!)

And many, many, many years later, after just becoming a principal for the first time and having my new school community adjust to my French last name, I eloped at Spring Break and returned to school with yet another last name.  Of course, everyone kept making mistakes and continued to require prompting to use the new one. Unfortunately, the new last name (pronounced Lawdeen) actually is German, but people continued to pronounce it as a French name (Leau-di-en).  For some reason, everyone persisted in their belief that somehow I was FRENCH, married to another FRENCH man! Talk about confusion! Let’s just say, Mr. Laudien wasn’t amused!

And now, many, many, many, many years later, I have grown weary of my first name, MARY.  I feel that this name doesn’t fit the person of whom I’ve evolved.  My dissatisfaction came to the forefront as I created my three Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). MEL, (divorced with a 13 year old son and striving to become a principal in the novels) made me realize that I perceive myself as a MEL; not a MARY.  MEL actually suits me and my husband grabbed onto the name and ran with it.  He confuses all of our family members and friends by referring to me as, MEL. (No one else gets it, but him!) You might want to read the FRENCHIE series to figure out why I’m more of a MEL than a MARY….

Mel with French bulldogs


When I’m asked to introduce myself these days, like on a Cruise Ship, I do all the right things… after all, I know all the techniques for remembering names – I had 350 students with families each year, didn’t I? And did you know that the Cruise Lines actually offer expert refresher courses to passengers to develop the skill of introducing yourself and remembering the names of the people you meet? It’s hilarious to watch in action, as everyone tries to make their name unique. So when someone meets me, I remind them to think of the song, “Proud Mary” and if they really want to get fancy and know my last name, I tell them to think of the “dean of law”.  You’re going to remember my name out in cyber land, aren’t you?  It works, I know it does!

You have stories to tell associated with “SAY YOUR NAME“; I know you do!  My readers and I would love you to share some of your’s with us.  Please leave a comment.  And if you want to read about why I think MEL should be my actual name… you’ll have to click on my books in the sidebar…




Free Holiday Book Package Contest


The Holiday Season is upon us and I wanted to thank my readers by offering Books 1 and 2 of my Frenchie Series as a Contest Give-Away.  Frenchie’s Best Friend-Follow the Blog is a Middle Grade novel that connects to Christmas in a humorous way.  Families are enjoying the series as  contemporary novels about family relationships,’tweens’, and French Bulldogs (and many other breeds…).  The novels appeal to anyone who has ever owned a pet or is a ‘pet-owner wannabe’.  You will “crack-up” when you meet Ethan’s Grandma Sis.  This 13 year old main character describes this quirky, eccentric woman as “not your typical let’s make cookies kind of Grandma”…  Ethan tends to take after his Grandma Sis’ somewhat devious personality when it comes to scheming puppy ownership without his overwhelmed, single mother’s knowledge.  The novels will make you laugh aloud and yet, will hit a chord with you regarding modern family dynamics and being a “tween”.  If you are at all pet crazy, the novels will have you wanting more.  And lucky for you, the third book in the series is just at the revision stage and will be published in the new year.

How do you enter the BLOG CONTEST?  All you have to do, is leave a comment on my blog (twocandobooks.wordpress.com).  Make sure you include your email so that a winner can be drawn on Dec. 31st at noon.  (This contest is open to anyone in Canada and the USA.)  I look forward to reading your comments.  You may want to peruse my website, as well, for more information about the Frenchie Series and the author (that would be me…).  http://www.twocandobooks.com

As a special thank you to eBook readers (any type- iPad, Nook, Kobo, Kindle, etc.),  I have a X’mas special for Frenchie’s Best Friend-Follow the Blog.  If you purchase it from Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/b/96726 ) and use the COUPON CODE: AS79W, you can download this first book in the series for FREE until Jan. 11, 2013.  Please enjoy this free gift on your new eReaders that perhaps you’ll receive as a X’mas Present, if you don’t yet have one.

Happy Holiday Reading Everyone and I certainly hope that you will enter the blog contest to own paperback copies of : 

Frenchie’s Best Friend-Follow the Blog        &        Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog

Enjoy the fun, chaos, deceptions and humor!

This photo is taken at the Nanoose Library during the Holiday Season. (Check out the pkg. of Frenchie books….that’s the prize!)

Enter to win by leaving a comment and an email address on twocandobooks.wordpress.com

If you like this contest or enjoy visiting my blog or website, please re-tweet or forward my blog to others.