Monthly Archives: November 2015

This little piggy …

I like to be spontaneous once in awhile. For me it’s freeing and empowering to break out of routine and schedules – within reason, of  course – and do something I don’t get the chance to do very much.

One day in late summer one of my daughters and I got together for an outing. We drove to a few local communities and shopped at second-hand clothing stores for the variety and low prices, and the fun of digging through bins to find that ‘just right’ item. We also discovered a few yard sales along the way so had to stop! That’s always fun. At most of our stops we purchased a few things.

I enjoy the zoo. It’s interesting, funny, noisy, entertaining, smelly, and that’s just the people!  😉  haha     Ever wonder what the animals think of us gawking at them through the bars and fences?

As we were in a moment of ‘where should we go now?’ I suddenly had this idea: “I’d like to go to the zoo, I haven’t been there for so long … let’s go to the zoo!” Here in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia is Oaklawn Farm Zoo, and we weren’t far from it. Of course we went there! Today I will give you this link, and this one, then maybe another time I’ll direct you to another which has a lovely write-up about it.

Below are some photos I took while there with my daughter that day.

These are four new little baby pigs born in one of the barns. On the left there are three, see the tiny white/pink one half hidden? On the right is momma with one of her babies running around. So cute and comical.

baby pigsPigs at Oaklawn Farm Zoo







This next one is the photo I’ve longed to capture. It’s not perfect but it is one of those awwww shots. Two black swans, their lovely long necks shaping a heart.

black swans

What do you enjoy doing to change things up a bit and get out of the house?

PS: It’s day 25 in PiBoIdMo, and while writing this post I came up with idea #49!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂








Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 34: A Fairy Tale for Writers

Welcome back! For the rest of this year 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 and learn from all the fabulous segments from 2013-2015 by clicking on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. Now for the topic for month thirty-four:


“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 34: A Fairy Tale for Writers

Once upon a time in a deep dark woods, lived a girl named Write-arella. More than anything in the world, Write-arella wanted to write novels, but publishers told her that her books were too long, or they were too short. They were too silly, or they were too serious. And by the way, why was every book set in a deep dark woods?


Finally after writing and writing and writing some more, Write-arella finished a book that publishers liked, and they published it. Then Write-arella and her handsome prince lived happily ever, eating chocolate-covered strawberries and going on book tours.

The End

Yeah right. The truth is…

The deep dark woods are real. The book tours are real, and sometimes even the chocolate-covered strawberries are real. Write-arella did marry a prince of a guy, but he told her that if she really wanted success as an author, she couldn’t just sit around eating chocolate-covered strawberries and watching football games. (Actually, the Prince was the one who watched the football games.)

The prince said Write-arella needed to do more than write a book and get it published. She had to work for her success.

So after Write-arella’s book was published, she begged libraries, churches, and schools for speaking opportunities. She asked friends and family members to set up book signings in their local bookstores. She judged chili contests, hawked books at boat shows, and attended blueberry festivals. She spoke at writers’ conferences.  She gave commencement addresses at high schools and colleges.  She dropped in for reading week at local elementary schools.

The Prince decided they should also travel all over the country and visit every little bookstore they could find.  At each store, they introduced themselves, talked to the manager, signed stock, chatted with customers, and then went on to the next town and the next bookstore.

After they arrived back home at the castle, Write-arella mailed notes to the bookstores they’d visited and added them to her Christmas card list.

She and the Prince bought copies of her books from her publishers, and they sold them at craft fairs and community gatherings and at local gas stations and restaurants and curio stores. She started her own blog and her own Facebook page. She met a wonderful writer who allowed Write-arella to post how-to columns on the writer’s blog, Polilla Writes.

And every day — or almost every day — Write-arella wrote.

The moral of the story? A writer’s work is not finished just because the book is. If you self-publish or if you sign a contract with a publisher, you need to be ready to celebrate – not only with chocolate-covered strawberries, but also with a lot of hard (and fun!) work.

What out-of-the-box ideas do you use (or plan to use) to sell your books?  What out-of-the-box ideas have enticed you to buy a book?

Strength to your Pen!


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

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote 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 December 24, 2015, for part 35, which is the FINAL installment of this fabulous series.


Fun Quiz: how long would you survive an alien invasion?

Hello, Everyone!

Today I thought you might enjoy another fun quiz. This one helps you find out if you would survive an extraterrestrial alien invasion. Of course, it is very important to know this. One must be ready at all times!  (snicker)

alien-spaceshipI have much to do on my week home, starting later this morning, which means my blogging could remain scanty for awhile. There are things I am trying to complete, change, and redirect in my life, and it all takes time when setting a new course. (nautical term)  I will be checking here every day, though, hoping for new comments from you. 🙂  Or you can always send me an email if you prefer. Go to contact page for that if you don’t know my email address.

I already wished a Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends and readers; what are your plans? That day I should have another installment of Writing the Third Dimension to share with you. I expect you’re all very busy getting ready to cook, travel to connect with others, eat a lot, and then shop a lot the next day. Be careful out there!

Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? I only had a few things, then this week I managed to get out to a Christmas shopping party at which I found some nice items for all my daughters. It’s alarming how little time remains until December 25!

Enough chatter, did I hear you say? Okay, now for …

alien-spaceshipthe QUIZ  (click here)

Would you survive an extraterrestrial alien invasion? Do tell!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂





Cover Reveal! Kissed by an Angel Anthology

Erik revealed this anthology on his blog yesterday, and I thought you might want to know about it. Keep your eyes open for this book!

PiBoIdMo; writing through caregiving, loss & other things

November seems to be quickly disappearing; I’m having trouble keeping up!

I want to tell you about a few things, late, but here it is anyway.

Past years I’ve told you about PiBoIdMo. That’s Picture Book Idea Month created and super-efficiently managed by Tara Lazar every November 1-30 since she made it public in 2009. Check out her website HEREI participated for my first time when I learned of it in 2010, and every year since except for 2012. How many ideas have I come up with for picture book stories during those Novembers? Around 170. They aren’t all complete stories, of course. Some are names, some are titles, some are vague ideas, but a few … a few are almost the full story. (Gotta love when that happens.) Perhaps I will be able to combine some of the others to come up with interesting picture books.

This year I have taken on the PiBoIdMo challenge again. It’s fun and stimulates creativity. So far, by day 18, I’ve thought up 31 ideas. There’s one I like in particular having to do with Remembrance Day, known to many as Veterans Day.

As you may recall,  my word for 2015 is POSITIVITY

  • definition: noun: the state or quality of being positive; a quality or state characterized by certainty or acceptance or affirmation

– a tough one to maintain, I’ve discovered. For me, I see it as not giving up my dream … in whatever way that plays out with my writing aspirations. Although I seem to have made very little progress, I haven’t quit yet. I guess that’s worth something. I’m finding that, as we continue on with caregiving of our Dad who’s changing a little more each month, it’s getting harder to focus well on my writing and to do what I really want to do with it. This week I’ve made an effort to sign up for online courses that should give me a boost to learn more of what I need to know. PLUS, two months ago I received the blessing of a private writing coach! I am so excited about that! So although 2015 hasn’t been a productive year in writing, it perhaps has been beneficial in laying groundwork for 2016. What does it seem like to you?

Sad news: The lovely white-faced grey cockatiel my husband got me almost 21 years ago died this month.

PreciousPrecious was 21 years of age this month. In captivity cockatiels can live up to 25 years, so I think she did well. Even with my little Schnoodle, the house seems strangely empty without my exotic pet chirping and whistling to me when I come in the door. She used to answer my microwave and wall oven when I’d set them. 🙂 Precious also mimicked my beautiful old deaf cat, Scamper, several years ago when she’d go yowling around the house. Recently she’d begun mimicking my Meyya’s yip and whine. Yes, it’s sadly strange without her in our house anymore.

This evening I took special snacks to the Alzheimer’s Caregivers support group I’ve been attending for four years … (or is it a little longer? I’m not sure) … to celebrate with them. You see, Monday was my birthday – yes, I made it to another one. We caregivers have developed into a fun group as we support and encourage and inform one another while we make our way through difficult and emotionally painful situations. It’s fun because we all get along, we laugh a lot, and allow the tears that are necessary at times. Alzheimer’s is not fun but funny things happen, and we do have to keep our sense of humour. It’s a rough road. 

It’s been a busy time of late, with appointments, meetings, and trying to keep everything in order here at Dad’s. My writing? Well, there’s still hope! I’m not done yet. 🙂

How do you keep on writing midst the positive or negative stresses of life?

Do you have dreams or goals that keep you pressing onward?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends and readers!

As you may know, in Canada we celebrated ours in October. There were twelve of us at Dad’s dining-room table this year. 

I hope you all have a fun, amazing wonderful get-together, free of angst and strife. Enjoy your family and friends.

This post is brief. A much longer one is coming right after it.

Blessings to all!

Romans 8:28 : And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

The 50 best children’s books of 2015, says PW

I like lists.

When it comes to books, I’m always interested in reading lists of what other people think are the best or worst, or the most highly acclaimed, and so on. Sometimes I make purchase decisions from those lists, usually after I’ve read reviews. (I’ve created a list for you HERE of the books I’ve reviewed.)

This week I read the lists compiled by Publishers Weekly of their opinion of the best children’s books of 2015. They selected fifty books: 17 Picture Books, 15 Middle Grade, and 18 Young Adult. I received permission from them to share those lists with you here, then if you want to read up on any of them yourself you can go THERE and read the full review of each book. Some even have Q & A with the author, or other interesting information.


  1. The Princess and the Pony – by Kate Beaton (Scholastic/Levine)
  2. The Day the Crayons Came Home – by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
  3. Last Stop on Market Street – by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam)
  4. This Bridge Will Not Be Gray – by Dave Eggers, illus. by Tucker Nichols (McSweeney’s)
  5. Home – by Carson Ellis (Candlewick)
  6. The Night World – by Mordicai Gerstein (Little, Brown)
  7. The Only Child – by Guojing (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
  8. Waiting – by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)
  9. The King and the Sea – by Heinz Janisch, illus. by Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press USA)
  10. Toys Meet Snow – by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
  11. Sidewalk Flowers – by JonArno Lawson, illus. by Sydney Smith (Groundwood)
  12. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear – by Lindsay Mattick, illus. by Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown)
  13. Thank You and Good Night – by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown)
  14. Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems/Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales – by Julie Paschkis (Holt)
  15. Lenny & Lucy – by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter)
  16. The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have – by Edward van de Vendel, illus. by Anton Van Hertbruggen (Eerdmans)
  17. Leo: A Ghost Story – by Mac Barnett, illus. by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)


  1. My Diary from the Edge of the World – by Jodi Lynn Anderson (S&S/Aladdin)
  2. The Thing About Jellyfish – by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown)
  3. The War That Saved My Life – by Kim Brubaker Bradley (Dial)
  4. George – by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press)
  5. Lost in the Sun – by Lisa Graff (Philomel)
  6. Roller Girl – by Victoria Jamieson (Dial)
  7. Listen, Slowly – by Thanhhà Lai (Harper)
  8. Friends for Life – by Andrew Norriss (Scholastic/Fickling)
  9. The Nest – by Kenneth Oppel, illus. by Jon Klassen (Simon & Schuster)
  10. Echo – by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press)
  11. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War – by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook)
  12. Orbiting Jupiter – by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
  13. The Marvels – by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press)
  14. Goodbye Stranger – by Rebecca Stead (Random/Lamb)
  15. Harriet the Invincible – by Ursula Vernon (Dial)


  1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – by Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  2. Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  3. A Song for Ella Grey- by David Almond (Delacorte)
  4. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad -byM.T. Anderson (Candlewick)
  5. The Game of Love and Death – by Martha Brockenbrough (Scholastic/Levine)
  6. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans – by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  7. Saint Anything – by Sarah Dessen (Viking)
  8. Magonia – by Maria Dahvana Headley (Harper)
  9. All the Bright Places – by Jennifer Niven (Knopf)
  10. Shadowshaper – by Daniel José Older (Scholastic/Levine)
  11. The Shepherd’s Crown – by Terry Pratchett (Harper)
  12. All American Boys – by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (S&S/Atheneum/Dlouhy)
  13. Bone Gap – by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  14. The Hired Girl – by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
  15. X: A Novel – by Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon (Candlewick)
  16. Challenger Deep – by Neal Shusterman (HarperTeen)
  17. Nimona – by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
  18. Trouble Is a Friend of Mine – by Stephanie Tromly (Penguin/Dawson)
  19. MARTians – by Blythe Woolston (Candlewick)

I hope these lists help make your book buying a little easier … or, if you’re anything like me, they’ll just make you aware of even more books you simply must have!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for permission to share their lists for you to see.

I almost am embarrassed to admit I’ve not read any of the above books yet. How about you? Which ones have you read? Which ones do you now want to read, or gift to someone?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂