Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

Today’s post is part of a blog-hop to encourage Renn, a five year old with rennsevere epilepsy.  He will be in the hospital this week to undergo many tests.  Renn has already had many tests and major surgery for his epilepsy.  You can read more of his story here.

Renn – I spent a lot of time in hospitals when I was your age.  I had a bad appendix – but it wasn’t where it’s supposed to be – so they had to do sooooo many tests.  I understand how tough it is.  My dad always brought me a comic book and my mom brought coloring books and crayons to cheer me up.

Orig 3

We must find a way to encourage Renn!

Renn is a HUGE Star Wars fan so  Knowing that laughter is a good way to battle ‘the dark side’  I thought a few chuckles would help:

Knock, Knock                                 Who’s There?

Maida                                                  Maida Who?

Maida force be with YOU!!


Knock, knock                                   Who’s There?

Art                                                        Art Who?


Why does Princess Leia keep her hair in buns?    Because she doesn’t like bagels!

And here are a few ‘mind’ games you can play while sitting in waiting rooms….r2d2

I spy with my Jedi eye…..  (similar to ‘I spy’ and a combination of 20 questions)    The person may ask questions like….Is it bigger/smaller than Yoda?   Is it shiny like  C-3PO.  Is it fuzzy like an ewok?  Does it roll like R2D2?

Who am I?  Think of a Star Wars character or prop.   Then the other person has to guess by asking questions like:    Are you a human?  Are you an alien?  Are you on the Dark side?   Can you use the Force?   Can you fly a starship?  Do you use a lightsaber?   Are you made of metal?   Do you have fur?  Do you glow?

And here are a few mazes I found online.  Click on the maze  below to go to the actual page.  If mom can’t print them out you can trace the way with your finger on the screen.

Maze yoda face


Maze yoda

Renn, I am amazed at the talents and thoughtfulness of my friends in the cyber world.  You are blessed to have so many wonderful people thinking of you (and your mom and family).   My family is praying for you, too.

epilepsy Susanna Hill is the ‘producer’ of this blog-hop effort.  You can go here to see all the other links and best wishes for Renn.  And don’t miss Erik’s (an 11 year old) video salute to Renn —it is AMAZING!

God keep you strong!   “. . .and the power of the Lord [be] present to heal [you]. Luke 5:17

Laura (Grandmamiller)

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This is a new chapter in my effort to be a better blogger.  I have made a pledge to myself to  1)do regular  posts of my art [a.k.a.  stop being so timid] 2)support my writer and illustrator colleagues w/posts about them  3)participate more in promoting our field and my craft-not just sit on the sidelines  4) work with a positive attitude 5]lose weight   6]throw out junk food   …er…pretend you didn’t see those last two.

Anyway – as I’ve begun my trek into the children’s book writing and illustrating field I have met some lovely, wonderful, creative, inspiring people.  One of those delightful writers is Susanna Leonard Hill, a children’s author.  She is always encouraging other aspiring writers and has several regular features on her own blog to promote  creativity and improve our skills.  She even conceived and  executed a world tour  for one of her book characters.  Aside from having a weakness for chocolate Susanna seems practically perfect as a children’s author role model.   In fact, one of the things she created was Perfect Picture Book Fridays (PPBF).   

PPBF allows participants to recommend and review  children’s books.  WOW – you mean I now have another legitimate  reason to go the library? ( I may need something signed by you, Susanna, to show to my husband.)  However,  I decided my first PPB recommendation had to come off my own shelf.  This book is one of my favorites as well as a favorite re-read for my grandchildren.

Title: That Cat Can’t Stay

Author:   Thad Krasnesky

Illustrator:   David Parkins

Publisher: New York, Flashlight Press © 2010

 Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 2-8 years  (altho’ this 58 yr old loves it)

Themes/Topics: Cats, Compassion, Family, Tolerance

Opening Sentences: When Mom brought home a stray one day, Dad said, “That creature cannot stay.  There’s no use begging. Don’t say please. I don’t like cats.  They scratch my knees.  And I don’t want to have to shout, so kindly put that cat-thing out.”

Synopsis: This humorous story is told by a little girl whose mother keeps rescuing stray cats, much to the lament of her father.  Dad does not like cats because they do everything from making him sneeze and wheeze, to carrying fleas and getting stuck in trees.  Yet – cat #1 stays, as well as #2, 3, 4 and…more.  Dad’s protests become longer and sillier as he becomes surrounded by cats, until the surprise ending.

Why I like it:  That Cat Can’t Stay has a  funny, rhyming text with repetition in dad’s angst-filled complaints.   The story is great for building reading and listening skills as well as being just plain fun to read .  My  2 and 3 year old granddaughters love the story and can finish some of the lines as well as even quote sections.   The illustrations are whimsical and detailed even adding to the story as the cats become part of the family photo gallery.  Part of the fun we have is spotting all the catly details in the art.

Awards: This book has received about a dozen awards, some of which are

  • Smithsonian Notable Books for Children 2010
  •  Storytelling World Award Honor Title 2011
  • Society of School Librarians International Honor Book 2010

Activities/Resources:  Flashlight Press offers some cat poetry and acrostic activities on their website http://www.flashlightpress.com/That_Cat_Cant_Stay_Activity_Guide.html

also Illinois School Library Assoc. has a wonderful PDF with discussion questions and crossover curricular activity suggestions http://www.islma.org/pdf/monarch/That%20cat%20can’t%20stay%20web.pdf

Availability: This is readily available in both hard and soft cover.

Enjoy the Read & Blessings on your day,

Laura (grandmamiller)

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12x12 blog party

12×12 1/2 Way There Party

Is the cup half empty or half full?   Definitely 1/2 FULL!!!!  YAY!!!!  Thanks to Julie Hedlund and the awesome 12x12x12 writer’s group I have 10 picture book drafts in six months!!  Gang you are awesome!! The amount of creativity, spunk, encouragement, news, incentives and cheers just keeps rolling in.

Back in January as I was in my third month of having committed to become a children’s picture book writer/illustrator at age 58, I discovered the little blog that could.  A challenge to commit to doing 12 manuscripts in 12 months in 2012.   H-m-m-m-m…intriguing……with prizes and incentives…..super guest posts….but me???  I’m only a fledgling writer…I don’t know if I could be considered a ‘real’ writer.  Wait a minute….what’s this about pre-published writers…(does that mean the originator of 12x12x12 is not published yet?)  *Gasp* But, then,  I’m a ‘pre-published’ author  too!   What a great, positive way of looking at things!

Click here to visit other 12×12 blog parties

I’ll try this on for size!  So I signed up.  And now we’re 1/2 way there!!   Enter marching band, light the sky rockets, cue the cheerleaders!

I now actually have 10 manuscripts, including one book dummy, 2 storyboards and a list of about a dozen ideas.  In my previous three months I only had a pocket full of self doubt and not a single ‘real’ story.

12x12er’s you have touched the depths of my heart and left inkprints on my soul.  The energy of this group is a beacon to keep us on course and a light to give us hope.  Shine on and congratulations and blessings to you all for the next six months!

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Distractions or interruptions to writing or art can often be inspiration……

Today, just as I was going in to my den to work, I received a frantic call from my daughter.  Their beagle, Monk, had escaped out of the house after she had carried in groceries (the door had not closed all the way).  She has 3 children 3 and under.  They live on a very busy street.  The beagle will not come when called.  Retrieving him was not going to be easy.    I told her I would be right over (they only live 3 miles away).  I scribbled a note for my husband, Tom, grabbed my car keys, and ran out the door just as Tom came home.  He jumped in the car with me and away we went on a rescue mission.

Long story short- the beagle’s fine.  Our daughter threw the kids (well, not literally) back in the car and drove down a side road where she thought he might have run–and there he was.  She parked, jumped out and managed to grab him.  She called us on our cell phone, but we were almost there anyway–so we went on.  We were able to help cart all the kids back inside.  Felicity had peanut butter all over her face (she was eating when Monk escaped), the baby was in just a shirt and diaper (he was getting changed when the dog ran), and the oldest, Ivy, was just excited about the whole adventure.

And Monk…..he tried to escape twice more while we were there.  He’s a good dog with the kids – but if he gets loose he’s off on a scent. Funny thing, part of the shopping trip included purchase of a new leash and stake out for the dog.   They have a fenced yard – but he can still wiggle under in places.  He also has to wear 2 collars when leashed because he usually squirms out of one.  The double collar system seems to work.

So what’s my point?   Another work day interruption turned into enjoying smiles and giggles from the grandkids.  And when I returned back to my art table – all I had in my mind’s eye was a picture of a very care free beagle bounding through a field – not a care or worry plaguing him.   It wasn’t my planned work for the day but it was too vivid to resist painting.  It was the quickest and easiest rendering I’ve done in a while.

So – I say put your nose to the ground and follow the scent, er….the inspiration where it takes you.  Distractions can be refreshing.

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As a newly dedicated full time writer/illustrator there is so much I  need to do and so much I want to do there are days I feel so overwhelmed I want to pull inside a turtle’s shell.

I’m taking an art course, so there is reading and homefun.  I want to build my blogs, set up an etsy shop, I’m writing some children’s books (about 5 WIPs), I also teach classes for my church, I want to follow other CB writer/illustrator blogs, do research for my books, play w/ my grandchildren, help out my 9 mo+ pregnant daughter, visit my folks (my mom is housebound), edit my hubby’s doctoral thesis and YIKES….here I go into my shell.

My oldest daughter amazes me at all she accomplishes.  She has her own blog (lessonsfromivy.com), administrates another blog, teaches music one day a week AND she has three children ranging in age from 3 mo. to 3 1/2 yr.  And she has e-pubbed one book, has another almost ready, and is co-writing another w/her husband.

Then it dawned on me – instead of reacting like a turtle, I just need to perform like a turtle.  I don’t think that turtles go out in the morning and say, ‘I’m going to run 5 miles today, ‘  get out the sweats, the MP3, the running shoes and zip along (altho’ the picture makes me smile).  Rather, they slowly and methodically get through the day by managing small goals.

So I’ve started putting only one or two things on my desk each morning. Well, actually I just began yesterday – but so far it’s worked! 🙂   If you have any tips or ideas for organizing a busy work day – I’d love to hear from you. (Especially about managing the blogging and following of same.) I’ll be sure to give you a turtle update!

By the way, I did the turtle picture above for my youngest daughter’s baby shower invitation.  She loves turtles.

Oh- also, I finally figured out how to do a blogroll and would love to include your blog, especially if you’d like to reciprocate.  Let me know!

Blessings, Laura

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