Sand or Snow? I Don’t Know

Here’s a picture book I worked on this past February during Picture Book Marathon Month. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sand or Snow? I Don’t Know

     I hold my little pail and the shovel that goes with it. 

     I’m looking out the window, now, and watching all the rain come down.

     If I could, I wonder what I’d wish for.

     Sand or Snow?

     I don’t know.

To wish for sand, the sun is out.

     It’d be shorts and swimsuit warm. 

     “Ooh! Ahh!”  I’d cry, tip-toe running across the fiery sand.

     Bare feet would wobbly slide as I pick my spot on shifting sand to sit. 

    Then, scoop and pour, scoop and pour, I’d fill my pail in time with clapping waves. 

     Dry sand sweetly sifts through fingers slightly spread, but disappears in tightened fist.

     Dry sand is not so good for throwing. The wind spits its teeny bits back in my eyes and hair.

     Wet sand goes splat, unless molded into a colossal castle defended by a  watery moat. 

     From crumbling castle towers my flags of flapping grass would proudly fly. 

     Sand is good for burying things, like toes, and twigs, and shells and things.

     When fun is done, sand hates to see me go.

     It clings with tiny, gritty bits. 

     It tries to hide between my toes and sneak away with me.

     I’ll miss it, too. 

     I promise, with my good-bye, to come and see it soon.

     To wish for snow the sun may shine, but shivery temperatures blow. 

     I’d wrap in winter wear. My mouth and nose and eyes are all that meet the air.

     Boot stomping and snow crunching, powerfully I march forward.

     Shovel and pank, shovel and pank, my pail is filled with white. My castles and their towers, now, are frosty, dazzling bright.

     I lay and flap in crystal white, my shadow, now a sparkling angel. 

     If I throw dry snow, and in my face it blows, it disappears against my cheek with a teensy, wet, cold kiss.

     Floating flakes alight on lashes, hat, and scarf. Or tickle tongue with speck of icy melting lace. 

     Snow is best for making balls and forts filled with frozen laughs of battles bold.

     Or roll a ball to build a single friend, tall or small, or build a crowd to play around.

     Snow, my mittens sog and tumbles over boot tops to numb my toes below.

     Snow clings in creases between scarf and neck, diving in white and turning out wet.

     Cold forces me to go where snow can’t follow.

     Separated by a pane of glass, I whisper my promise to return. 

     Sometimes snow must go before I come. 

     To miss it less, it leaves a good-bye gift, of puddles to splash or mud for some squishy, squashy fun.

     What is my wish?

     Sand or snow?     I don’t know.

Crossing the Picture Book Finish Line!

February 2020 comes to a close, with an extra day to finish the Picture Book Marathon. Once again, creating 26 picture books in a month was a rewarding exercise. More than half of my books were fiction, three were versions of ABC books, four played with numbers or counting, three were nonfiction embedded in fiction, and the others played with repetitive phrasing or putting a new twist to an old nursery rhyme.

Are they all prize winners? Of course not! But there might be a seed for a successful rewrite.

Was it easy?

Absolutely not! Some days I spent hours researching animals that I wanted to incorporate into my story. That’s one of the things I love about writing, I am continually learning and then try to pass that on to children in a fun and imaginative way.

Some of my favorite stories this month are those that are ridiculously fun. The impossible happens, the ridiculous runs to extremes, and by the end laughter has lifted child and adult reader beyond this ordinary world.

Another favorite of mine, was a counting to ten book I imagined my 18 month old granddaughter might compose. It was filled with all her favorites, such as ten wild blueberries on her purple plate, which she couldn’t resist eating, and replacing, again and again. When it came to her five favorite colors, they started out all different, but let’s be honest, her favorite color is orange. So she substituted orange for four of the five colors, allowing only yellow to remain in the group.

So you see, the Picture Book Marathon for me was a month to stretch my creativity within a set deadline while underlining my belief, that all learning can and should be fun.

You’re always a winner when you try.

The Year I Went Off Course

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I have run the Picture Book Marathon since 2010. But after 9 years of successfully completing the race, in 2018 I went off course for a very exciting reason.

November 2017, I had participated in my ninth Nannowrimo, (National Novel Writing Month). The fantasy middle grade novel that I wrote that month was one I knew I wanted to spend time and effort to revise and rewrite in the coming year.

The holiday season was a time to put aside the novel and enjoy family and friends. In January an opportunity arose to test the level of interest my novel would gather. Hurriedly, I rewrote and prepared the first six chapters to apply for the opportunity to appear on Kindle Scout for one month. 

Four days into February 2018, with 4 picture books completed, I learned that Kindle Scout accepted my submission. Starting February 5, 2018, the first six chapters of my book were available for people to read. 

 I was overjoyed! 

For the rest of February, people were reading my book! It was even called  “hot and trending” several days. There’s not a better feeling to a writer than to have his work read and enjoyed.

The rest of February was spent sharing this event with friends and family. That’s how I went off course in Picture Book Marathon of February 2018.

The positive feedback from that month supplied the energy to work on the novel to its completion. That’s the year I went off course from the Picture Book Marathon.

And that’s the year a whole new adventure began.

The Halfway Mark

Day thirteen of February is halfway to completing the 26 picture books in the Picture Book Marathon.

Hooray!

Thursday, February 13, is the official halfway point in the Picture Book Marathon. It’s always good to celebrate your accomplishments. If you actually ran thirteen miles, you would celebrate! So, too, writing thirteen picture books, or creating thirteen ideas for stories, is reason for celebration.

Celebrate your accomplishments!

You need thirteen more ideas to finish the Picture Book Marathon. Allow me to offer a few suggestions to help you finish the race.

Ideas are all around.

A photo, a saying or phrase, a memory from childhood, pets, fears, joys, foods, disappointments, overheard conversations, new twists on nursery rhymes, or fairy tales, ridiculous impossibilities, nature, friends, family, failures, successes, concept books, such as ABC’s, counting, opposites, or shapes.

The best advice I can give is to relax. Have fun. Try writing things you’ve never written before, like a new version of Hickory, Dickory, Dock. Make it wild. Make it touching. Try nonfiction, fantasy, or rhyming.

Make this Picture Book Marathon a race of exploration and fun. Remember, this is just the beginning of your creative projects that could turn into a wonderful picture book!

See you at the finish line!

Keep writing!

Picture Book Marathon

Yay! February has arrived! Today I begin writing for my traditional Picture Book Marathon.

In 2010 I stumbled upon a website that challenged picture book writers to create one picture book story, or at least the idea for one, for each of twenty-six days through February. I was looking for a new writing challenge since finishing my first NaNoWriMo novel in November 2009. That challenge was to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.

Writing a picture book a day seemed like it would be a walk in the park, after the demanding quota of 1,667 words per day of the Nano novel challenge. Writing 500 to 800 words or less seemed like a cinch

A piece of cake, I thought. And, as icing on the cake, you only needed 26 stories to match the 26 miles of a marathon, leaving 2 whole days in February to relax! (Unless it was leap year, like this year, then you had 3 whole days off!)

But the Picture Book Marathon had its own tests of endurance, in store for me, unique to writing for young children.

Though sometimes gasping for air, or clutching cramped writing muscles, I have managed to cross the finish line for 9 of these last 10 years.

More, later, about that one year I went off course. Right now, the starter gun has fired and I’m off to start my second decade of picture book marathons!