Friday, February 12, 2016

The Three Billy Goats Valentine's Gamble

Sweet Susanna Hill has a new contest for us! 
The Contest:  Write a Valentines story appropriate for children (children here defined as ages 12 and under) maximum 214 words in which someone is grumpy!  Your story can be poetry or prose, sweet, funny, surprising or anything in between, but it will only count for the contest if it includes someone grumpy (can be the main character but doesn’t have to be) and is 214 words max (get it? 2/14 for Valentines Day) You can go under the word count but not over! Title is not included in the word count.  No illustration notes please!

Here's my entry coming in at exactly 214 words. Happy Valentine's Day! 

The Three Billy Goats Valentine's Gamble
By Lauri C. Meyers
Billy Goat, Baby Goat, and Mama Goat have valentines to deliver in the sweet green valley, but a hungry troll guards the bridge.
“I have an idea,” Baby Goat says. The goats huddle to hear the plan.  
Baby Goat & Billy Goat
(img; Loretta Humble, freeimages)
Baby Goat scrambles up the bridge.
“Who’s trip-trapping over my bridge?” Grumpy Troll growls. “I’ll eat you right up!”


“Don’t eat me! My meatier brother is coming soon.” Baby Goat skips to the valley.

Billy Goat hoofs up the bridge.
“Who’s trip-trapping over my bridge?” Grumpy Troll roars. “I’ll eat you right up!”
“Don’t eat me! My sweet mama is coming soon.” Billy Goat gallops over the bridge.

Mama Goat climbs the bridge.  
“Who’s click-clacking over my bridge?” Grumpy Troll asks. “I’ll eat you right up!”
“Hi, I have a valentine for you,” Mama Goat says with a wink.
“What a glittery heart,” Grumpy Troll says. “It sparkles like your pretty shoes.”
“Would you like to deliver valentines with me, Mr. Troll?” Mama Goat asks.
“I’m busy guarding this bridge,” Grumpy Troll says. “Would you join me for a snack on your way back?”
“Of course!” Mama squeals. “Happy Valentine’s Day!” She click-clacks down the bridge. 

Grumpy Troll jumps under the bridge and starts cutting hearts for a valentine and whispers, “I could eat her right up.”
She is a beauty!

(img; Colin Bamford, freeimages)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Squirrel's Famous Winter Feast - Susanna Hill Holiday Contest

I have pine sap on my fingers, flour on my shirt, and strings of popcorn everywhere...it must be time for Susanna Leonard Hill's Annual Holiday Contest!

The Contest:  Write a children's story beginning with any version of "Rocking around the Christmas tree at the Christmas party hop."  Your story may be poetry or prose, silly or serious or sweet, religious or not, based on Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you celebrate, but is not to exceed 350 words No illustration notes please. Your entry should be posted on your blog between right now this very second and Friday December 11 at 11:59 PM EST. 

I must have been feeling stressed about entertaining when this idea developed, but I *think* my parties have a better track record than poor Squirrel's. (Though I did make a dreadful crunchy hummus once.)

Happy Holidays everyone and may all your entertaining go well!  See all the other rocking entries at Susanna's site.


Squirrel’s Famous Winter Feast


By Lauri Meyers

(Freepik)
Rocking around the Old Pine Tree at my famous winter feast,” Squirrel sang as he hung decorations on every branch.

“My dear friend, Deer, you’re the first guest of course. Here put on these reindeer antlers!”
“Thanks, I guess,” Deer said putting the reindeer antlers on top of his deer antlers. “So, about tonight, some of the guys might go scavenging at the campground.”
“Oh, I couldn’t. Everyone loves my famous party!” Squirrel said. “Here’s some partygoers now. Hey, Skunk and Fox!”
“Who’s ready to find some marshmallows!” Fox said.
“Fox, you’re hilarious! Forget marshmallows.” Squirrel sang, “Later we’ll have some pinecone punch-
Crunch. Fox said, “Ugh. Have you tried this punch?” 
“Look, it’s the Quail family ready to party down,” Squirrel said. “Happy Winter Mama Q, Sally, Sara, Samuel, Siena, Salina, and Little Joe.” 
(freepik)

“We’re on our way to warbling lessons,” Mama Q replied.
Squirrel sang on, “And we’ll do some caroling! But first anyone for a slice of minnow pie?”
“Mama Q,” Little Joe whispered, “the pie is staring at me.”
“Hello, Big Bear,” Squirrel said. “Be careful, you’re under the mistletoe!”
“Your decorations stink,” said Big Bear.
“I spent all morning stringing those brown berries,” Squirrel said.
“I don’t think those are berries, Squirrel,” Deer whispered.
“Um, I should really be hibernating,” Big Bear said.
“We should be warbling,” Mama Q said.
“Pfffffft,” Skunk added.
“Now your party really STINKS!” Fox snickered.
“But I burnt my tail roasting pinecones. I pricked my finger stringing decorations. This song is stuck in my head. And I love spending tonight with all of you!” Squirrel scurried up the Old Pine Tree.
The friends looked around uncomfortably.
(Freepik)
Let’s be jolly,” Little Joe warbled slowly. “Deck the halls with boughs of holly.”
“Can I wear your antlers?” Fox asked.

“Sure! Just let me grab some pinecone punch,” Deer said.
“Ooh, minnow pie is my favorite,” Big Bear said.
“Stinky berries so nice,” Skunk added.
“Rocking around the Old Pine Tree at my famous winter feast!” Squirrel boogied down the branch and jumped on Deer’s antlers. “Have a happy holiday everyone!”

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Bully Spell - Halloweensie

After my 5-year-old showed me up earlier with her writing efficiency and mastery of tension building, I finally finished my entry in Susanna Hill's 5th annual Halloweensie contest.

The rules: 100 words, which must include creak, pumpkin and broomstick. (NO NO NO - seriously, I'm glad I realized I was using last year's words before midnight, but there's nothing as fun as changing rhymes! ACK!) dark, costume and haunt.

It went a little wicked, and then it tended toward gross with my word changes... But it is Halloween after all. Why resist a good scare or giggle?


The Bully Spell

@alekksall via freepik
By Lauri Meyers

Great Great Grandma Thistle
Would cast a wicked curse
To cover children’s bums
With boils, cysts, or worse.


Great Grandma Narcissus
Enriched with darker rhymes
To pluck the eyes from kids
For cauldron stealing crimes.

Grandma Oleander
Enhanced the evil spell
With rotten skunk patoot
To make the youngsters smell.

My Mama Mistletoe
With costume, wand, and hat
Declared, “Annoying boys
Shall eat my spider’s scat!”

I threw in haunted bones
And jangly teeth for spite.
So, say you’re sorry now

For teasing me tonight.



That's right all you Halloween bullies out there better behave, because this spell keeps getting better and better with each generation:) Happy Halloween!

Kelsey's Scary Story

Hi! I'm struggling here with my Halloweensie revisions for Susanna Hill's annual contest, so I asked my 5 year old to help. I gave her the rules: 100 words, use pumpkin, broomstick and creak.

Well, she really showed me up writing and illustrating a fabulously scary story in about 20 minutes.

It all started with this:
(OMG! The door just creaked. What is going to be behind that door!! p.s. Note the strategically placed pumpkin and broomstick, um, because they disappear...)





(Oh the tension!!)

(AGH!!! It's a ghost!)

 "Are you nice?"
"Well, my name is Friendy, so yeah." 
"What are you doing here?"
"I'm getting ready to play with my new best friend!"   
 "Who?"
"You!"


THE END

Wow! Look how easy that is! Tension! Complex emotion! Fully fleshed characters! All in 38 words. And I thought this was hard:)  Happy Halloween!

PS. OH NO! I am a failure of a mother. I gave the dear LAST YEAR'S CONTEST WORDS!! Mulligan.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Can Kids Write Books?

Whatever your views are about the Common Core, I have to say there is definitely a lot of focus on writing! My daughter’s first grade class had Writers Workshop and even had a special event for parents to hear their opinion pieces. (I learned A LOT about why Minecraft is awesome and how beautiful cardinals are.)

This focus sparked some questions from a pal of mine.

“Miss Lauri, can kids write books?”

“Anyone can write a book.”

“Yeah, but can 7-year-olds write books?”
My illustrations when I was a kid are
not as good as Josie's!

“I happen to know some very cool kids who write. Like Erik Weibel, who is 13 now, but used to be 9 when he started blogging and well, I’m sure he was 7 before then. His sister Josie is an illustrator and his friend Felicia wrote a book, or well her pets did.  

“We had an author visit the school which was so cool!”

“Yeah, that was totally cool. Erik and Felicia interview real authors in videos at The Write Chat. Sometimes they are ridiculously silly. Isn’t that so cool??”

“So cool, but how do I become a writer?”

“You write.”

“Miss Lauri, I mean really.”

“First, you need an idea. There is a cool Kids are Writers Summer Camp which will have daily prompts. Prompts are like little idea starters.” 

“I’ve got a million ideas!”

“Okay, okay, just start with one. Then figure out what happens. My friend Carrie has a worksheet to help you figure out what happens. She calls it her Plot Connector. It’s really easy to fill it in with ideas.” 

“Done!”

“Let me read it. The dog wants more than anything to see his friend Chipper the chipmunk but his owner won’t let him out. So he tries to sneak out, break the door, and bark really loud, but it doesn’t work. Then…he says please and the owner lets him out! Oh, this is quite good.”

“I know. Thank you. It was pretty easy.”

“Would you like to read this story again and again?”

“Well, I dunno. I already kind of know what happens.”

“Hmm. Well, then this is called a first draft. I have some ideas to help you edit. Would you like to hear them?”

“Oh yes, and give me a huge stack of paper please. And sharpen this pencil. And are there any goldfish to eat?”

“Yes, yes, of course. *scurries around house for a few minutes* Okay, the first tip is to find the right word and be specific. So instead of dog, you might say Woofers the dog. Or Woofers the Great Dane. Or Tiny the Great Dane.”

“No, no, no. His name is Charming the Chihuahua!”

“Oh, yes that’s very good. Chihuahuas are always funny. That brings me to the next tip. When you want to think of something really good, write down seven ideas. By the time you get to the seventh it will be the best one. Do you know why I picked seven?”

“Because I’m seven!!”
 
“No, because it’s my lucky number. Now, go practice those tips until that Chihuahua really comes to life.”

“Okay, Miss Lauri. Can I bring my goldfish?”

“Yep, just get out of here, I’ve got a million ideas I need to write down.”



Happy Summer and Happy Writing everyone!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Metamorphosis Procrastination


We got 10 visitors for my daughter's birthday – caterpillars! Just like in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, these critters start out tiny as a pin head and are huge (in a small sense) within a week.

Then the calls from down the stairs begin, “Mom, one is in j-formation! J-formation!” So you watch and you think you will catch it spinning its chrysalis, but you get distracted and when you come back it’s all tucked inside its new apartment.
"J-FORMATION!!"


We observed all of the caterpillars do this. Well, not all. Not George. He just kept climbing around, maybe wondering why no one would answer his request to play croquet. Maybe he just wanted to be a little fatter. Maybe he was the shy one and enjoyed having a little space to explore without his sister giving him caterpillar wedgies. Maybe.

Or maybe George had a case of Metamorphosis Procrastination.

He would worry about not knowing how to make a chrysalis. “What if I accidentally do it upside down and then I can only fly with my head down for the rest of my life?”

He would shiver with the thought of being a pupa. “Pupa? Like I turn into Poop? Ack!”

George would declare, “I never wanted to be a butterfly anyway. No thanks. You guys fly around for a few days until a blue jay snaps you up for lunch.”

He would question nature. “But I’m perfect just the way I am. Lady Gaga told me so.”
 

George is in the left container,
crawling around the top. 
This continued for two days in the quiet solitude of the caterpillar enclosure. I can’t imagine how creepy it would be to crawl in and out of the stoic, hanging forms of all his friends frozen in time. Alone. Surrounded by other caterpillars poo balls.

But this morning the calls rang out again, “George is in j-formation! He did it!!”

And I said, “But George, I thought we were going to hold out on this! Tell nature to shove it. We were going to explore the world together, me on my two feet and you on your, um 32 or something. Baby, you were born this way!”

George just said, well, he couldn’t say anything because he was all j’d up. Plus, he’s a caterpillar, and you know they can’t actually talk. But I think he would have said, “I was pretty good at being a caterpillar, but I will be excellent at being a butterfly.”


So what have you been procrastinating? Well, take George’s lead and get on it with it! (For me it’s writing my pitch for this weekend’s NJ SCBWI Conference…yay!)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tom Boys and Character Biases

I have been lax on my blog this year, but I’ve never gone a whole month without posting…and it’s May 31st! A true procrastinator like me just can’t resist the challenge of a deadline.

I was considering the other day why I always gravitate towards boy characters. After all, they say write what you know, and I don’t have a Y chromosome. I don't even have boy kids. I have girlie-girls. I mean, seriously, my dryer lint looks like glittery hot pink Peeps.

I was, however, a bit of a tomboy growing up. Perhaps it was my duty in life as the second girl child born in the family to somehow fill the void of the hoped for boy.

So I helped my dad build things. I got muddy, and my knees were always skinned. I could belch the alphabet. I formed excellent attack formations playing He-man. My favorite summertime activity was lining up all my cars at the top of the little hill on my driveway and conducting races. (Though in a nerdiness wholly my own, I also charted the results and statistically analyzed future race winners.)  

But what really made me a tomboy?

I think it was the way I spit-shined my hair. My hair was in a ponytail a lot, which probably caused the little fly-aways that surrounded my head like I was producing my own static electricity.


This was quite unsightly. I knew girls should look tidy, but the thought of having to take a break from setting the world record of times rolled down a hill in row to brush my hair was ludicrous. So, I would spit on my hands and wipe them across my head. Voila! Nice smooth hair.

Last weekend I was working with a friend putting in a butterfly garden at the elementary school. It was hard work and after a couple hours I looked just like my 5-year-old self wearing a halo of crazy hair. But I’m mature now, and I wouldn’t think of licking my hair. So I just poured some water on my hair. Voila! Nice smooth hair.


Do you have a character gender preference? I’m curious if other writers have subconscious biases too.  
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