Tag Archives: Tara Lazar

About books and writing them

It’s the first day of February and I am happy to say that I am now a student of Susanna Leonard Hill’s picture book class called Making Picture Book Magic! Susanna teaches small personalized classes that run for a month each. I chose to sign up for February to follow immediately after Storystorm which was the whole month of January. 

Storystorm, run by Tara Lazar, was very inspirational, as usual, and yet it seemed a little different this year but I can’t say just how. All I know is that the ideas I got this time around seem to be improved over previous years in that there were a greater number of possibilities among them. I had more clear ideas for stories whereas in past years they were more vague with many as simply titles and character names. My total this year, after the month of brainstorming, is 41 ideas for stories.

So, back to Making Picture Book Magic … Susanna gave us a list of books she suggests we read if we can, so, of course, I made my requests at the library. I have a few of those books now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also had already been going book crazy – about which my librarians are very happy – and I have “a few” others out now. You can see for yourself.

 

 

They’re three views of the same box of 90 books, most of which are picture books. Another 60+ are on hold for me and will arrive as they’re available.

So, yes, you can guess I’ve been doing a lot of reading; over 100 books in January as recorded on my Books I read in 2018 page. I’ve immersed myself in picture books with the occasional chapter book or novel tossed into the mix. Maybe that’s why my Storystorming was improved this year.  hmm

My only regret is that my book reviews here on my blog have been lessened, and the books that are in my queue to review are still … in queue. I apologize to those authors waiting to see theirs highlighted here. I have yet to figure out how to make progress in my own writing while keeping up everything else, too. Even on Goodreads I write mostly short blurbs after reading a book, but that’s something.

Now I have to get back to my notes for the writing class.

Will you share with me what you have found works for you when you want to learn something? Do you take classes? Do you immerse yourself in trial and error? Do you shadow someone who has the experience? What do you do?

Happy February everyone!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

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My Successes in 2017

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2017.

Since setting goals instead of making resolutions has been my way for many years now, sharing what I see as my successes feels much more positive. So, in 2017 I have surprised myself because I:

1. settled on my word for the year – PROGRESS – and set out to make it happen in my writing as much as I could manage, and grew in confidence as a writer;

2. celebrated my 7th year of blogging here on WordPress on January 9;

3. wrote 144 blog posts, including this one and one scheduled for Dec 31;

4. wrote reviews of 67 books on my blog, 42 of which were written by 12 x 12 members – past and present;

5. interviewed 3 authors here on my blog, and 2 illustrators – my first time to interview illustrators;

6. participated in Tara Lazar’s Storystorm challenge and came up with 30 ideas for stories;

7. entered Susanna Hill’s Valentiny writing contest  (my entry);

8. entered Vivian Kirkfield’s #50 Precious Words challenge (my entry);

9. participated in ReFoReMo (Reading For Research Month) and read over 100 recommended picture books to learn more about writing picture books – and the reading continues;

10. read over 600 books during the year, all but about 60 were picture books;

11. wrote a 500-word story for a writing challenge through InScribe;

12. attended an information session with other local writers, put on by the writers federation of which I’m a member;

13. attended 15 (or more) webinars about different aspects of writing, mostly regarding picture books;

14. attended a full day online Picture Book Summit & won the big prize;

15. participated in all the 12×12 webinars – except for maybe one;

16. gained a picture book writer friend through 12×12 & we share about our writing life nearly every day;

17. earned a place on the 12×12 winners wall because of writing 25 new story drafts, 18 more than in 2016, (12 are required for the win);

18. wrote 6 revisions of stories;

19. got one story polished and submission-ready;

20. submitted story (point #19) to an agent – my first time to approach an agent;

21. received a reply from agent (point #20) with positive comments and helpful advice – a champagne rejection;

22. posted one of my stories in the 12×12 critique forum and received wonderful comments and helpful critiques, one by a critique ninja;

23. was gifted a helpful critique by author Marcie Colleen to further improve my story (point #19);

24. prepared, arranged, and published my dear mother’s children’s story as a photo flip book and had 8 copies printed for family in her honour;

25. believe more deeply I AM A WRITER!

 

 

 

What are YOUR 2017 successes? No matter how small or insignificant they might seem, they add up and fit together somehow. Please share with us in the comments.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂 

 

 

Book Review: 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story – by Tara Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Book: 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Ross MacDonald
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: children's picture book; humour
Pages: 32
Price: $18.99
My rating: Entertaining story filled with puns and humour

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story is a very entertaining story. And how can it not be, having been written by Tara Lazar?

Private I is asked by the number 6 to help him. He has heard that 7 Ate 9, and he is scared 7 would soon be after him. Private I pointed out that 7 is always after him – as in 5, 6, 7. That fact doesn’t console 6 and he fears his days are numbered as both 7 and 9 seem to be missing!

Private I goes to the café for a slice of pi.  (No, I didn’t mean to type pie.) The waitress, whose name is B, has the scoop. She’d heard that 7 ate 9, and she drops a scoop of ice-cream onto Private I’s pie that’s shaped like the number π – which is the mathematical pi.

As you can easily figure out from what little I have said – not wanting to give away the whole story – there are many puns and word plays in this funny picture book 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story. The bold, creative illustrations by Ross MacDonald (a Canadian now living in the US) are perfectly suited to the story and visually add to the puns. The reader must pay attention to the illustrations to not miss the added humour.

In a surprising and funny conclusion, Private I cleverly solves the mystery of missing 9 and 7, reminding the adult reader a little of Sherlock Holmes.  🙂

Tara Lazar has cleverly written a book for children that is full of puns, plays on words, and humour. Young readers are sure to enjoy 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story.

You can find 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK pageI also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Little Red Gliding Hood – by Tara Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Little Red Gliding Hood
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Troy Cummings
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: October 27, 2015
Genre: Children's picture book; 2 - 10 yrs;  Preschool - 4
Pages: 40; hardcover
Price: $16.99
My rating: a skating contest like no other; funny

Little Red Gliding Hood is a fractured fairy tale written by Tara Lazar. It begins with the introduction before the title page, and we’re taken immediately into the story by Troy Cummings‘ clever illustrations.

A fractured fairy tale is a mix-up of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, bringing in characters from different ones to fit in the new story. Tara has the sense of humour to pull this off easily.

Little Red Gliding Hood loved to skate and she was very good at it. She would skate to her grandmother’s every Sunday for a visit. The problem was that her old skates were in bad shape and getting to be too snug a fit. She soon wouldn’t be able to skate to Grandma’s.

Conveniently, a pairs skating competition was announced with the prize being a pair of new skates! Little Red Gliding Hood had to win! Inconveniently, she didn’t have a skating partner. Little Red’s grandmother suggested asking the Gingerbread Man. Little Red said he’s too fast and she can’t catch him. Grandma suggested Baby Bear would be a good partner, but Little Red said Goldilocks thought so first. When Little Red went to ask the Three Little Pigs, the Big Bad Wolf showed up. Little Red skated away, frightened, with Wolf skating after her.

The day of the competition Little Red showed up to skate. When the Big Bad Wolf showed up, too, he scared Little Miss Muffet away and Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. It was chaos. The illustrations by Troy Cummings are funny and enjoyable.

The end of the story of Little Red Gliding Hood is fun and very cleverly done, making it a book that’s delightful to read over and over.

You can find Little Red Gliding Hood by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and on Chapters.Indigo if available there.

Please encourage an author and illustrator by leaving a comment. Thank you.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Normal Norman – by Tara Lazar

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Normal Norman
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: S.britt
Publisher: Sterling Children's Books
Genre: children's picture book; age 4 & up; Preschool & up 
Date: March 1, 2016
Pages: 40
Price: $14.95
My rating: Funny with lots of encouragement to love 
your differences 

Normal Norman by Tara Lazar is a book about defining the word normal, and in a very funny way.

The narrator of this story is a junior scientist who is narrating for the first time. She wants it to go well, so she introduces Norman. Norman is an orangutan, an average, ordinary, common creature – or so she thinks.

The junior scientist measures him and finds he is normal in size. Then she discovers Norman eating a snack, but he doesn’t eat bananas, he’s eating pizza. When she peels a banana for him he freaks out! He thinks it’s cruel! It gets more and more abnormal from there.

This is a funny story. Children will love that Norman is a purple orangutan who wears eyeglasses, which should have been the first clues to the narrator that Norman is far from being a normal orangutan. Norman also doesn’t want to sleep in a pile of leaves and branches like orangutans do, and he has a favourite stuffed toy.

The junior scientist narrator is distraught. Nothing is going as planned. Then Norman has an idea.

Children will love Tara Lazar‘s ending for Normal Norman. It’s funny and unexpected. The illustrations by S. Britt are fun and fabulous, making Norman a memorable character.

You can find Normal Norman by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Would you like to leave a comment for me, or for the author and/or illustrator?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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!  🙂

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!  🙂