K9 Splash

Dogs galore raced to our local public pool today for their chance to enjoy the water and each other’s company. My dog Holly (the cute white one, of course) is not too much of a water sport, but she does like to hang out with her canine friends. Although Holly was one of the smaller pooches at the pool, she mingled with the big and furry guys pretty well. After an initial period of scoping out the entire area–including the marked off kiddie playground whose barricades were much too high to keep out a short schnoodle, Holly ran circles around some of the large dogs. You can see how fast she is. I couldn’t keep her in my camera shots.
What a great way to close down the pool for the summer! Going to the dogs isn’t always such a bad thing.
If you’d like to share in another doggie adventure, you can find Bubba–from DOGGIE DAY CAMP–and me this Saturday at Fenton, Missouri for Founders Day. I will be joining other local authors at the Fenton Historical Society and Museum from 2-3:30 (#1 Church Street). I’m sure it will be a splashing fun day too.


St. Louis Writers Guild and Build-a-Bear Workshop Foundation are sponsoring THE BIG WRITE, a writing contest for both elementary and middle school students. This contest will be a part of THE BIG READ literary festival in Clayton, Missouri on October 11, 2008.
Six winners–three in each of two grade levels for 4th & 5th and 6th through 8th. Student should enter the contest as the grade they will be in for the fall of 2008. Prizes for the contest include: cash, award certificates, and Build-a-Bear merchandise. Winners will be announced at the festival, and the winning stories will be published on The Big Read website. There is no limit on the number of entries. For more information: Contest Guidelines. The deadline is September 12.

Peachy Weekend

I (and a group of local children’s authors) spent a great time last weekend in historic Hermann, Missouri–a scenic wine town along the Missouri River. http://www.hermannmissouri.com/ We stayed at Captain Wohlt’s Inn where innkeeper, Mat Wilkins took special care of all us. http://www.captainwohltinn.com/
Senior Editor, Lisa Mathews, joined our company and provided us with many interesting insights into children’s literature. http://www.peachtree-online.com/info.aspx

Here’s her explanation of STORY STRUCTURE:

1. Act I: Setup—here is the mood/tone, hook, catalyst, antagonist (which can be a situation as well as a person), the intro to the MC/personality, the issue which will lead to the turning point—conflict must come right away. There does not have to be a great deal of setting and character analysis right at first. It’s more important to have action with a purpose which propels the story
2. By the end of Act I, there should be a problem/turning point (a challenge revealed)
3. Act II—problem intensifies/ a barrier/ complication
4. Character has a temporary triumph
5. New info (a reversal) leads to more problems/ and perhaps a deadline looms
6. Dark Moment—the MC fails (or seems to) and the goal seems even farther away
7. Another turning point—the MC has to make a decision
8. Act III—the final obstacle (MC is pushed to her limit)
9. Climax—she faces the obstacle
10. Resolution

Lisa also spoke of a STEP OUTLINE for help in writing a story.
In this type of outline, a phrase/sentence for each chapter provides a very brief outline of the story and shows the story arc. I was encouraged to hear her explain this concept because it is basically what I do when developing a story. It provides a very loose framework that allows me to know where I’m going—which helps eliminates writer’s block—but it is so basic that it also encourages me to be creative with each new scene. I usually don’t know exactly how the scene will play out or what the characters will say or do. I think it helps keep the story fresh.

The two Peachtree books at the top are by my writer friends, Kristen Nitz and Jeanie Ransom, who also attended the weekend retreat. Here are their websites where you can find out more about them: http://www.kwnitz.com/ http://www.jeanieransom.com/