Tag Archives: Tara Lazar

Book Review: I Thought This was a Bear Book – by Tara Lazar

 

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Thought This Was a Bear Book
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Publisher: Aladdin
Date: August 2015
Genre: children's; picture book; pre-school - 2; age 4-7 yrs
Pages: 32; hardcover
Price: $17.99 (varies)
My rating: a fun, creative change-up of a familiar fairytale

Tara Lazar is a prolific children’s author with an imagination that is intriguing and humorous. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is her second of five books so far, with another one coming out this spring and one in 2018.

In I Thought This Was a Bear Book we meet the bear family – Papa, Mama, and Baby – out berry-picking. Overhead there is an alien spacecraft obviously in trouble and coming in for a landing. Only Baby seems to notice at first.

On those first two pages of the story the words are “Once upon a time there were three bears.” From then on those words are the only ones that are not conversation between the characters in the story, aside from onomatopoeia, such as WHOOSH and THUNK! Also, those two pages are illustrated by Benji Davies to look like the pages of an open book.

Look at what I mean; this is one page, not several.

i-thought-this-was-a-bear-book-page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that neat? 🙂

Apparently, the alien somehow fell out of his book and landed in theirs! Such a conundrum. He was quite bewildered and when face-to-face with the bear family he was indignant at being called a martian. “I am Prince Zilch from Planet Zero!” he informed them. They set out to try to find a way to send him back to his own book in time for him to save the planet from giant planet-eating numbers.  See what I mean about Tara’s amazing imagination? I would never have come up with an idea like that. 

This story is quite funny with the prince saying zark, zoot, zinder when he is feeling overwhelmed. A tour bus stops for tourists to take pictures of the bears and the alien, while Prince Zilch and the bears are trying to find a way to get him back to page 27 in his book. Goldilocks even makes her appearance, much to the bears’ dismay. 

There are many ideas they come up with, all the while Baby Bear is trying to get their attention so he can share his idea on how to help. Benji Davies‘ illustrations add so much to the story, some being really funny, and all bright and interesting. As you read you must pay attention to the extra activities going on in the story through the illustrations – just because it’s so much fun.

Tara even includes the reader in helping to solve the prince’s problem, making it an interactive book in that way. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is an entertaining read for which you might want to have a little extra time to enjoy and share with a young reader or pre-reader. There is so much entertainment in the story.

You can find I Thought This Was a Bear Book by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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HAPPY NEW YEAR! What are your goals for 2017?

happy-new-year-stars

It is already day three of 2017! I must still be recovering from the busyness of Christmas to make me so late writing here. (Unfortunately, we all know that doesn’t have to be the case.)

christmas-bells

Briefly … we got all our shopping, mailing of ‘away’ gifts, baking, and preparations finished on time – Yay! – minus mail-out cards that I didn’t do. On Christmas Eve we had six family members come by, then on Christmas day seventeen of us met around Dad’s dining-room tables (two tables end-t0-end) and enjoyed a delicious dinner to which all eight households had contributed. Gifts, desserts, and clean-up followed that. Afterward, my sister and family went home to enjoy their own time together, and my daughters and families and my dad all came to our house where my husband and I hosted another round of gift exchanges, snacks and an enjoyable evening get-together. It was a busy family day. Dad and I then went back to his house for sleep and the start of my week there. On New Year’s Eve nine of us got together at Dad’s for games, snacks, and fireworks. Now this week I’m home where I have so much to do!

new_year_icon_55464The rest of this post is about my goals for 2017, decluttering what remains of past creative interests being one major project. I love to sew but rarely get to do that anymore, so I will pack up the huge collection of beautiful fabric to sell – what I know I’ll not use myself. Most was part of the online retail business I had for a while that had to be set aside. Now I need to sell off the greater part of it to reclaim my space. Know that feeling? 

lots-of-fabric

Along with that I have lovely sewing embellishments and crafting supplies to liquidate. Life circumstances can change one’s plans a great deal. I had hoped to sell most things through my business; now I’ll let them go at even lower prices. 

craft-suppliesAs yet I have not managed to repurpose the room I had for my publishing. That room is planned to be my writing room; however, there is much to pack up and get rid of first, including the antiquated duplicating machine I used. It will be set out by the road during Spring cleanup and hauled away if I can’t sell it cheap. 

writer

I have started 2017 with several goals involving decluttering and selling off things, thereby reclaiming and repurposing space for writing and living. It means I have to get busy! There is so much to do here it can overwhelm me in short order, so I have to focus really hard on one little thing at a time. I don’t want to be paralyzed by the hugeness of my goal to free myself from things I no longer need or use. It’s going to take serious effort as I can become exhausted simply by the enormity of the project. Months ago my daughter introduced me to a minimalist website to help me simplify my life, which I’ve yet to take on because it seems like even more to do. 🙂 I think minimalizing is a great idea, though; who of us needs to have all the things we accumulate! Here’s the link if you are interested in looking at what is offered. http://my.becomingminimalist.com/  

My underlying goal for which all the aforementioned is aimed is to write, write, write. I’ve signed up for Storystorm (the new name for Picture Book Idea Month) hosted by Tara Lazar for the whole month of January. It’s no longer only for picture book writers. Next week I will be renewing my membership in the year long 12×12, hosted by Julie Hedlund. I still have manuscripts to bring as close to perfection as I can, and then start the process of submitting them. The one I sent out late in 2016 has not seemed to hit the mark (the publisher will contact me by the end of January if interested), so after January I will have to revisit that manuscript and find other places to send it. (I could do it now but, obviously I have other things to do.) I’d love to have an agent, so in order to be ready for that search I have to prepare several other of my stories to completed as-good-as-they-can-be manuscripts. 

Another of my goals is to set up much better records of submissions, rejections and all that fun stuff. Oh, and I must not forget the many books I want to read!

So, my goals are:

  1.  declutter and reclaim space through selling and getting rid of things
  2.  set up a writing room – through decluttering and getting rid of things
  3.  write, write, write – which includes submissions, and well-written manuscripts to prepare me for an agent
  4.  set up organized records for my writing
  5. read, read, read

Yikes! Although that seems like a short list, for me it’s a HUGE undertaking. Can I do it this year? I can try. There are twelve months in which to make my best effort. I didn’t even mention that I have specific plans for my blog this year, and I still want to learn to draw much better. Whew! (now I need a nap)

pooh-nap

It’s your turn. Tell me … what are YOUR goals for 2017?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Baby steps toward CHANGE

2016, my year of change.

I’ve stated it publicly. I am determined to achieve it. I am committed to accepting it.  (Thanks, Darlene, for that last point.)

For me, change means stepping beyond myself, my comfort zone, my place of safety.  Even if that step is only a baby step, it is a step forward to my goal.

I am not saying I want to change everything about myself, or that I want to make drastic changes in my life. What I mean is I am working on my attitude and beliefs about my God-given abilities, talents, gifts, creativity. And fear – I am making baby steps away from the fear and toward the reality of who I am as a creative and what I am capable of doing.

“The key to change … is to let go of fear.”  – Rosanne Cash

 

My goal, which I’m sure you all know by now, is to write children’s books for publication. The changes have begun for me to achieve this:

  1. I have my own writing coach as of September 2015;
  2. I’m ending my publishing of a newsletter I (very sadly) haven’t had the focus and leading to do anymore; after many years it’s hard to let go. I have the final issue to complete and loose ends to tidy up;
  3. my publishing room will become my writing room, my creative space, which I’m excited to prepare;
  4. I’ve continued with Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo each November, keeping the ideas coming. To take those ideas further, Friday I signed on for a year of *12×12, making that huge (for me) leap in commitment when I’m not sure how I’m going to manage the challenge. Having said that, I signed on because I need what is being offered through it in order to reach my goal. (I did 12×12 in 2012, Julie Hedlund’s first year offering 12×12; now it’s much advanced from those beginnings.)

The biggest change for me is my private outlook, my self-talk, what I believe about myself. Change in those will bring about the most change in me and how I approach my writing.

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” – Steve Maraboli

Yes, 2016 is my year of CHANGE, the follow-up to and continuation of POSITIVITY – my word in 2015.

I am determined.     I will need reminders. And energy. And focus and refocus. (That’s not a negative already, I know how it’s been and I’m needing to not go there.)

My life as caregiver will continue as it has been, with the change being in me, in how I use my other time. There’s no progress in wishing things were different.

“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” – Thegoodvibe.co

This could be an exciting year, a challenging year, a surprising year.

2016.

My year of change.

* If YOU are interested in writing children’s books, it is not too late to sign up for 12×12. Just follow the link I provided above in my point #4.

Can you relate to the struggle of staying the course? What are your goals and determinations that you know will make a remarkable change for you? (Or put that in past tense, what were your goals … and how did you manage to meet them?)

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

PiBoIdMo — I won the challenge!

It’s December 1 already –

twenty-four days to Christmas.

December 1 –

the day after PiBoIdMo ended, and …

the first day of Post-PiBo.

Post-PiBo is the week after the inspirational Picture Book Idea Month (brain child of Tara Lazar), the week when daily guests post encouraging and helpful advice on how to proceed with all our ideas gleaned in thirty days.

Yesterday, November 30, was the last day of the 30-day challenge to write a picture book idea each day – any idea that could be used in creating a picture book. This was my fifth year of taking on PiBoIdMo and it is my most creative to date. I’ve completed (won) in the other four years I’ve done this, but this year? This year I surprised myself. On day 17 I already had 30 ideas! By the end of day 30, the final day of the challenge, I completed with 65 – yes! 65! – ideas. 

Here’s my badge to prove it.

piboidmo2015winner

Yessiree … I’m doing my happy dance! 

the-seinfeld-happy-dance

Not quite like that but you get my point.

Actually, if when even one of my ideas is developed into a picture book and makes it to being published, the above will be even less of the happy dance I’ll be doing. You can be sure of that.  🙂  Perhaps you will join me? 

One year I won one of the prizes given out at the end. It was a cute caricature of me, based on the illustrator’s insect characters. I may show you sometime what he sent me. I think it’s meant to be a combination of a firefly and a mosquito – or a misinterpretation of a firefly.

Tara Lazar does an amazing job of putting together six weeks of inspiration for writers of all skill levels and experience. She is a published picture book author herself, having written The Monstore which I reviewed hereLittle Red Gliding Hood, I Thought This Was a Bear Book, and Normal Norman.  She has two more picture books coming out in 2016. I urge you to buy, borrow, and for sure .. read and share .. her books.

Right now I am happy and feeling a little proud of myself for managing to go beyond what I’ve done before. This time I will complete manuscripts.

What or who inspires you? What challenges helped you to go beyond what you thought you could do?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

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!  🙂

 

PiBoIdMo has ended – my update

Today is the first day of December … already!! Where did the time go? Yikes! And I love that it’s snowing on my blog. 🙂  (Thanks, Word Press!)

Soon it will be Christmas Day; I have a lot to do at home and at Dad’s to even feel ready for this special time of year, but I have begun – with help. I appreciate the beauty of this season (not the intense cold that comes with it) and especially the true meaning of Christmas.

The writerly news is …

PiBoIdMo ended at midnight November 30 …

piboidmo2014wordpressbanner

Just at the last moment I came up with the cutest title which has me thinking of a story to go with it. The great news is I completed PiBoIdMo with a win. The goal was to have 30 ideas, be they ever so small or detailed, and I got almost 50. YAY!

vinvogel_piboldmo_winnerPicture Book Idea Month is truly helpful when one is pursuing creative writing goals. Now Tara Lazar has begun a week of Post-PiBo posts which are a fantastic way to end this month-long event. She is genius in her contribution to the world of writing for children, and I’ve been very encouraged along the way – thanks to her.

The next fun part is after all this ends Tara has the task of giving out prizes to those of us who completed the challenge. Of course, with so many of us signed on not everyone will win a prize, but we are all winners if we participated in this event and took in what all the authors, illustrators and agents shared with us. It’s been an especially good PiBoIdMo for me at a time when I really needed to put my mind on creative things.

Did you take part in PiBoIdMo; if so how did you do? OR … Do you have any other successes to share, or goals you wish to achieve?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 

Picture Book Idea Month (aka PiBoIdMo) began today!

Today is a great day for picture book authors and illustrators.

Today is the first day of Picture Book Idea Month 2014, also known as PiBoIdMo. (Learn more HERE.) Thanks to Tara Lazar who is the creator of this inspiring challenge, November 1-30 is brainstorming month for those of us who appreciate the push, nudge, encouragement to capture our ideas. (Read my interview with Tara HERE.) This morning before I was out of bed I was thinking about this being Day One of PiBoIdMo and how I just didn’t want to get out of my bed yet … and an idea came to me for a picture book! Yay! I still haven’t written it down but that’s next on my to-do list. Maybe in the next couple of brainstorming days I can add to that story by coming up with my character’s name and a great title for the book. Or maybe I will settle on those today – now the imagination wheels have begun to turn again. Either way, I will try to keep track on my blog as I progress with this year’s PiBoIdMo challenge.

piboidmo2014wordpressbannerIt is not too late if you are interested take part in Picture Book Idea Month; you have until midnight of November 7 to read about it and register HERE.

Each November since 2010 I have worked on a YA fiction novel, last year being the least I added to it. With a little regret, this year I decided to not participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This means I may not even finish my novel, but I surely want to! My problems are tiredness, trying to beat back depression, too much going on in my brain as it is – including all I feel I have to do or should be doing but not wanting to overextend myself further. I care about my own health, and if I get sick I am of little help to anyone else. My dad needs me, my sister needs my contributed half in caring for Dad, my husband and daughters even need me sometimes. And, of course, little Meyya needs me.  Okay, there. Does that sound convincing enough?

Even though this month I’m not officially adding to my novel through NaNoWriMo, my fiction story stays on the back burner of my mind. I’m not sure how to bring it to its natural end yet, but the characters won’t go away. It seems they’re telling me this is a novel that needs to be completed, which I plan to do. In fact, I’m kind of excited to see how it turns out!

What it comes down to is I believe my biggest problem may be lack of adequate organization of my time. Well, that and I get distracted easily. And I’m tired. And I have so many ideas and things I want to do.  hmm  Yeah, I’ll go back to the first point – lack of adequate organization of my time.  (Can anybody relate to this?)

Share with me your thoughts on this.

What do you find to be the main thing that prevents you from moving forward, and how do you conquer it? Any tips for me on how to better divide and manage my time?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂