Monthly Archives: October 2014

Illustrator contributes his talent for children with cancer!

There’s always something, isn’t there? 🙂  I finally finished the book I was reading and was going to get a review ready when I discovered I’d lost my internet connection. Repairs were being done on the tower after something went wrong following the weekend’s stormy weather, I was told. When all was restored I didn’t get back to my computer at a decent time to prepare the review.

I am scheduling this post for Thursday morning. Since on that day I am going to be participating in a Dementia Strategy in the city (an hour away) I’m not staying up late tonight (Wednesday) to work on my review. I’m very tired, trying to stay ahead of depression and not doing very well at it, and making myself go to some things so I don’t crawl under a rock to hide. (I’d really rather hide.) Besides that, October 30 is my husband’s and my anniversary, so we are meeting after the strategy and his work day to go out to dinner somewhere before coming back home.

What I decided to do instead of working on a book review is share a post the wonderful Tara Lazar has on her blog. (She wants it shared; I don’t just copy other people’s posts.) Tara is the creator of PiBoIdMo which I’m happy to be participating in again –  with the hope it helps me keep going and thinking creative thoughts.

The post is about an illustrator who is contributing his talent to help children with cancer. Please go HERE to read about it. It’s really inspiring. There’s even opportunity for you to help if you are so moved.

While you’re on Tara’s blog, take a look at the PiBoIdMo page. Sign up if you want, there’s still time to get in on the fun if you’re reading this before November 8th. If you don’t want to register you can still benefit from the posts but you can’t participate in draws to win neat writers’ stuff or join the FaceBook group — if you’re on FB — which I’m not — so I miss out. (I seem to miss lots of stuff because of that. *sigh*)

As I was saying, check out Tara’s guest – Illustrator Steve Barr. You’ll be impressed, and you get a drawing lesson, too! 

Do you draw or want to learn? (I want to learn!)  Are you taking part in Picture Book Idea Month in November? (You are? Me too! 🙂 )

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂




Glen Campbell’s Alzheimer’s song: I’m Not Gonna Miss You

As a caregiver of a family member with Alzheimer’s disease, when I heard this song by Glen Campbell it really moved me. (Well, okay, I cried a little.) This talented singer songwriter has had the terrible disease for several years and is in the last stage of it now. While he was still able to function well enough he wrote and recorded this ballad called I’m Not Gonna Miss You.  It could be considered funny, but – if you really listen to the words – the irony of it is so real, so painful. Glen Campbell expressed in the words of his song something most people may not even consider about Alzheimer’s – that it does not just make one’s brain forget, it destroys the brain so that memories are completely removed as if they never existed in the first place, as if there’s nothing to remember. The patient eventually gets to the place where there is no loss, there is simply a ‘not knowing,’ of anything.

I want you to hear this beautiful ballad. Please listen and tell me what your thoughts are about it. I hope you can take the time to play it a couple of times.   I’m Not Gonna Miss You – by Glen Campbell

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


PiBoIdMo 2014 Logo Revealed!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

Who can believe it’s almost November? I know, it was just November last year, right? And we had a whole buncha fun creating new picture book story concepts! (Need a recap? Look here.)

I’m still firming up the festivities for 2014 and will post the guest blogger line-up soon. But while you wait for that and for registration to begin (on October 25th, right here), here’s a peek at this year’s logo, created by the talented Vin Vogel, whose new picture book MADDI’S FRIDGE is out now from Flashlight Press, with author Lois Brandt.

Each year  I ask the logo illustrator to include an important detail—a lightbulb, to represent ideas being created. This year, Vin had a delicious idea! (Was it from the FRIDGE? Sure seems like it. Well, maybe it was from the FREEZER.)


Registration for the November PiBoIdMo online event will commence October 25th. Individuals AND classes are invited to…

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Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension” – part 21: the Dreaded Pace Plague

Welcome back! Over the next several more months we invite you to return here, specifically on the fourth Thursday of each month for the newest installment of Sue Harrison‘s teaching: Writing The Third Dimension. You can read all the segments by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on the drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month twenty-one:


“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 21: The Dreaded Pace Plague

Last month we talked about decreasing the tension at certain points in your novel or your story (See # 20. Down, Down, Down) We included the unavoidable tension-easers like page breaks and the ends of chapters, and the scripted, necessary tension-easers that keep the readers “in” the story by varying the pace of the action.

IMG_1426Photograph Copyright 2002, Neil Harrison.

Today, we’ll discuss those tension easers that are NOT wanted. Most of these are self-explanatory and easily corrected if the writer is watchful. Here’s my list:

1. A difficult word or name.

If you’ve read my Alaska novels, you know that I’m incredibly guilty in this area. Most of the names of my main characters in these novels are Native words. I was aware of the negative aspect of this choice, but I decided the authenticity was worth it. Maybe I was right or maybe I was wrong, but if you elect to use difficult names or words be sure you weigh the consequences. They do slow the reader down.

2. A poorly constructed sentence.

One of the best ways to catch these in your writing — besides having a good editor — is to be sure one of your rewrites is verbal. When you stumble over your own sentence, you know it needs tweaking.

3. The author tells the story instead of showing it through the character’s eyes.

I could write a book about this one, so to shorten things up, I’ll just refer you to post #6 in this series, “20/20.”

4. Typos and grammatical errors.

A last careful rewrite, which I’ll discuss in a future post, is essential to eliminate this problem. Nonetheless, a few mistakes will still creep in. Most readers will tolerate those few.

5. Long passages of description.

Today’s readers prefer to have description offered in small doses. Cut, cut, cut! You’ll be able to give the same information via the more pace-friendly method of using a sentence on one page and two sentences on another, a phrase here and there.

6. Blatant preaching, even if the main character is the preacher.

Readers pick up a novel because they want a story. Let the story carry your theme and play out any convictions you are trying to address. Your reader will find it more convincing and you’re more likely to win a following for your second novel!

7. Non-visual writing.

If you can’t see it when you write it, close your eyes and visualize until you can. Then, write the scene.

8. Lack of sensory description.

Your readers want to know not only what your characters do but what they hear, taste, feel, see, and smell!

9. Long internal monologues by your characters.

What I said about preaching? Ditto.

10. Stilted and unrealistic dialogue.

Read your dialogue out loud. Everyone uses a different vocabulary for speaking than they do for writing. For your dialogue, use a speaking vocabulary. If you’re having trouble with a dialect or just everyday language in your dialogues, watch and LISTEN to a television show or a movie. Then write.

11. Factual errors in research.

Some readers care desperately about this and some don’t. I’m one of those desperate ones. Although I understand that mistakes happen, and the most carefully researched novels can have errors, a poorly researched novel can make me livid, especially if the errors are manufactured to support the author’s agenda. Do your research. If readers know you’ve done your best, they’ll forgive you for an occasional mistake, and author’s notes are a great place to ask for this forgiveness!

Well, that’s my list. Please add to it! I’d love your input.

Strength to your pen!


 *Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy, and a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. We invite you to come back November 27, 2014, for part 22.

Skipping rocks – a fun video

I was talking with a friend about how sometimes similar things happen close together in unusually high numbers. What we were discussing was deaths of people we know. In my circle of family and friends there have been several since my aunt’s passing (age 75) in February — one in June (in his 80’s), one in August (age 97), one in September (in his 80’s) the same day my dad had his heart attack, and three deaths this month – a cousin in his 80’s, a former neighbour age 66, and a cousin age 65. Dad has recovered well from the heart attack, by the way, and attended five of those funerals, the last being three in ten days!

I am glad for the wedding I mentioned in my last post; it was a lovely lift after so many losses. It was a sweet, touching, meaningful event, emotional for the bride and groom … and, of course, for sappy me, and a few others. The bonus was the weather. Friday we got a lot of rain, Sunday we got cool wind and some rain showers, but Saturday … Saturday was so warm and beautiful for an October outdoor wedding at an inn by the bay. It was a day much like my husband’s and my wedding day in late October many years ago, even a little warmer. Often by the end of the month it is cold, maybe even snow flurries, but there are the occasional Autumns that have remarkable weather. Since the wedding on Saturday the temperature has turned and rain is expected for much of this week, so that day was such a blessing – in many ways.

Now on to other things. Today in place of a book review I want to share something I found that is so cool and enjoyable. Have you ever skipped rocks on a lake or pond? Have you really listened? How about when the water was frozen? Check out this video; it’s remarkable and amusing.

I have tried to skip rocks, but I can’t say I’m very good at it, not like my husband. It takes several tries for me to get it right. How about you? Have you skipped rocks? What’s been your best rock skipping record?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

a funny ad about dads and family values

It’s been a busy, stressful week and month – for me. I haven’t been able to even think about writing a decent post and haven’t finished a book review.  Today we are going to a special intimate wedding in a beautiful little town on the ocean. 

I will be back as soon as things settle down a little. In the meantime, here is a very funny ad which you may have already seen, but I think it’s worth sharing.  It is promoting family values in a funny way.  Enjoy!

Blessings to you all.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂





A baby elephant falls on his back; look at what his mother does!

When I saw this video I had to share it with you.  This elephant calf falls on his back in the mud. Look HERE at what happened next!  It will make you go awwwww!!!  or Wowwww!   🙂

Elephants are the most amazing and wonderful animals. They are tenderhearted, intelligent, and family focused. It’s painful to even think about what happens to a baby or the mother when they are separated by people who take them into captivity far from where they would learn life skills from their family and have a natural life. Elephants need protection. They need understanding. They are NOT big dumb animals.

What do you think about all this?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂