What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: RANDOM WRITING, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 634
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
I'm a children's book writer, a campground owner and a special education teacher's assistant. It makes for a very busy year with lots of writing inspiration.
Statistics for RANDOM WRITING

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 9
1. Hummingbird Fever

IMG_3746

I swear, I’ve taken over 800 pictures of Hummingbirds this summer.

IMG_3772

There isn’t a lot of days off, when you run a campground, but I do find an hour here and there.  Not usually enough time to head out in the kayak to see the loons, eagles or heron. But time to sit in my little corner of the front yard.

IMG_3789

From there, I have a front row seat to the Honeysuckle bush. And Hummingbirds love Honeysuckle.

IMG_3824 IMG_3830

It’s fascinating to watch them flit here and there, to and fro.  Not a sound is made, but the branches of the bush dance below them from the sheer force of their flapping wings.

IMG_3840

Sometimes, sitting quiet on the front lawn yields the best photos of all.

Add a Comment
2. Cooper and Packrat News

I just received exciting news! The paperback edition of Mystery on Pine Lake, will be released September 18th!!

Cooper and Packrat cover

Just in time for back to school!!

I’m going to have a contest for teachers and librarians surrounding the release date. Check back in September for the details.

Also in time for back to school, I’ve added a Teaching Guide for Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest.   Developed by Shannon Shanning, Maine’s 2013 Teacher Of The Year, it was tested in the classroom on her students.  We warned them they’d be guinea pigs . . . so they were honest with us about the lessons.  It was a great collaborative effort!

Shannon and I love to receive feedback, so please let us know if you use the guide.  You’ll find additional projects and ideas on my Pintrest Page, as well as on Twitter.

Have a great 2015-2016 School Year!!

Add a Comment
3. Mother and Chick

Sometimes, when I go out in the kayak, I’m intent on finding photo opportunities.  Sometimes, I’m looking for time to to let my mind wander in the quiet around me.

Sometimes I need to “be” one with nature, to clear my head and fill my soul. No thinking allowed – only observing all the marvelous sights and sounds around us. How green the leaves are, the sound the water makes as it laps at the shoreline, the  shapes of the clouds as they float past, the beads of water on a spider web built between two Water Bulrush.

It was on one of those days that I decided to snuggle my kayak up to the shoreline, and just be. I put my paddle down, raised my camera and waited. I saw little bugs dance across the water. A fish jumped up out to catch one, as birds flitted over to get one, too. And then I heard a commotion in the bushes a short way away.  I turned my camera on it and saw a female red-winged blackbird rise from between the leaves, a dragonfly in her mouth.

IMG_0067

She hovered there, and at first I wasn’t sure why.

IMG_0068

But I understood as soon as a chick rose up to follow her.

IMG_0069

She led it on a merry chase to a nearby branch.

IMG_0070

The chick hollered and hollered. But Mama bird didn’t go any closer.

IMG_0071

Instead she showed off that dragonfly, then turned her head, almost as if to say, “How badly do you want it?”

IMG_0075 IMG_0077 IMG_0078 IMG_0079

The little one wouldn’t budge, so she eventually scooted down the branch to give it the dragonfly, it so desperately craved.

IMG_0080 IMG_0081

I know, that with its mother’s patient teaching, it won’t be long before the little one is grabbing dragonflies of its own.

IMG_0085

And perhaps on my next moment of “being”, the bird I see snatching dragonflies from the air, will be this little one.

Add a Comment
4. Me! Me! Me!

While kayaking last week, I was amused to watch these baby Tree Swallows fight over supper . . .  IMG_8965 IMG_8973 IMG_8974 IMG_8975 IMG_8976 IMG_8977 IMG_8978 IMG_8982

Add a Comment
5. Eagles On the Run!

 

 

I’ve often seen birds harass the eagles, driving them from trees and even away from their own eaglets.

But on Friday, I managed to catch a series of photos of it!

I was watching the eaglets , and talking with one of our campers when the eagle swooped into view.  It was being chased by small birds who were screaming their frustration.

By the time I’d unpacked my camera, the eagle landed with its eaglets. I’m not sure if it had something for them to eat or not. Regardless, the little, tenacious birds kept swooping and pecking like pesky mosquitoes until the eagle took to the skies again, its tiny bullies in hot pursuit.

IMG_9744a

I was quite a ways from all the action, but when I zoom in on my photos, it almost looks as if the smaller bird has landed on the poor eagle’s head!

IMG_9745a

 

And then pecks at it!

IMG_9746b

 

A second bird took to the chase and this one, I’m pretty sure, is a Downy or Hairy Woodpecker.

IMG_9749a

 

That poor eagle!  It swooped.  It dove.  It did every move it could to shake the pesky, determined pair.

IMG_9750

 

This is the last shot I caught, before the three of them went around the corner and out of sight.  I’m sure that eagle ended up with quite a headache!

IMG_9751

Add a Comment
6. The Little Loon Chick Update

I only kayaked out to to see the loon chick three times in two weeks.  This was on purpose, because I didn’t want to disturb the family too many times.  But I DID want to check on them to see how the chick was doing, since we hadn’t had a chick in two years.

IMG_7710

I have an advantage with my 500mm lens.  Since I can be further away and still get great photos, the adults aren’t forced or frightened into hiding the chick from my watchful gaze. I was able to witness the parents bring tiny minnows to their little one, dunking the fish several times until the chick took notice and accepted it.

IMG_7712

One adult always stayed close by, even when they made quick dives for more food. If they resurfaced more than a few feet from the chick, they’d hoot softly until their little one was close by again.

IMG_7799

My very favorite moments, the ones that brought tears to my eyes, were when the chick climbed up on the back of an adult and hid under a wing.   One time, I didn’t even know the chick was there, until the second adult surfaced nearby and softly hooted, coaxing it out.

IMG_7800

I’m so sad to report, that sometime between my Wednesday night visit (last week) and my Sunday visit, the chick disappeared.

IMG_7846

The adult loons were still diving together, hooting softly to each other.  But the distances they traveled between dives told me there was no chick in tow.

One of the adults seemed to hang out quite a bit by the original nesting site. Perhaps they will re-nest, but in my experience, it’s late in the season, as the chicks need a lot of time to grow and to learn to fly.

IMG_7933

I feel very fortunate to have witnessed this chick’s short, but adorable life. I learned a lot about the interactions between chicks and adult loons. I also grew attached. Very attached. I wish I could have documented this chick through several weeks, until it flew to the coast for the winter months. But alas, it’s not meant to be.

I can always hope for next year.

 

 

Add a Comment
7. Loon Chick!

For the last two years, the loons on our lake have lost their eggs after sitting on them for weeks.  This year, they picked an amazing nesting spot, in the shadows and under a fallen branch.

IMG_5780

I’ve had my fingers crossed for weeks now!  Four to be exact.  And this weekend I got to witness the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  A loon chick!

 

IMG_6700

One of my lake neighbors told me the loons were off the nest, and had one chick in tow.  I  think I was afraid to believe it until I saw it with my own eyes.

IMG_6739

 

IMG_6766

Now I’m crossing my fingers again for this little one to grow up.  Chicks can be prey to pike, snapping turtles, foxes and eagles.

IMG_6773

 

IMG_6787

This pair was very protective, as they should be.  Whenever a boater came too close, they called out loud and long.  They do the same when the eagle flies overhead, too.  Giving them plenty of room, ensures they won’t panic and swim too far from their little one, leaving it unprotected.

The adult loons have only twelve weeks to teach the chicks all they know, before heading to the coast ahead of their little ones.   Chicks from the surrounding area will gather together before following a few weeks later.

IMG_6803

The chicks  blackish-brownish coloring really make them blend into the colors of the water. Boaters should take caution on the lakes, giving loons a wide berth in case they have a chick in tow.

I have tons more photos to go through, I’ll post some more very soon! I’m hopeful my shots of them feeding are crisp and clear enough to catch the chick gobbling tiny fish.

Add a Comment
8. A Visit To Lake Region Book Club

Lake Region Book  Club (1)

Paula Boyce and I

Back on June 3rd, I visited Lake Region’s After School book club. Paula had contacted me to say they’d just finished reading Mystery of Pine Lake, and could I share the inspiration behind the series?

Could I?  It’s my favorite presentation to give!

The students were so excited to see my loon and eagle photos.  But I was more excited to hear their wildlife stories . . . the foxes, loons and eagles they’d seen. We all had great connections and stories to tell.  The time flew by so quickly!!

Lake Region Book  Club (2)

I signed all their hardcover books . . . as we nibbled on a special s’more trail mix made with a graham cracker cereal, chocolate chips, and mini-marshmallows. It was quite yummy!  I’ll have to remember that recipe for our Sunday Morning Storytime at the campground. I’m sure Maxwell Moose would love it.

Lake Region Book  Club (3)

I forgot to ask how many books they read in a year, but I do know they finished the graphic novel “Lies In the Dust” before starting Pine Lake.   Paula had heard about it through Shannon and I, as we taught it in our classroom.

Lake Region Book  Club (4)

 

Lake Region Book  Club (5)

 

Lake Region Book  Club (6)

One of the readers mentioned how Mystery of Pine Lake  was outside they’re normal reading comfort zone.  “I was a little worried when we started it.. But I really, really enjoyed it!”   That praise, and the student’s honesty, filled my heart.

Lake Region Book  Club (7) Lake Region Book  Club (8)

I shared my writing process with them too, mentioning how Book 3, Mystery of the Missing Fox, was with my editor at that very moment and I was waiting for my editorial notes.  “You still have to make changes and stuff? Even though it’s your third one?”

“Oh yes, yes I do.” I replied.  “It always takes a ton of rewrites to make a story better.”

He nodded solemnly, nibbling on the s’more trail mix. I swear I saw wheels turning in his head.

 

Lake Region Book  Club (9) Lake Region Book  Club (10) Lake Region Book  Club (11)

Many in the group were writers themselves, and I was able to hear about their current projects.  I really enjoyed spending time with this group of readers!

Lake Region Book  Club (12)

Thanks for having me Lake Region!

Add a Comment
9. The Eagles Have Been Busy

The adult eagles are on and off the nest, bringing food to their two eaglets.  They’re never very far away, keeping watch, keeping their little ones safe.

IMG_4753

Look at the difference in the talons in these next two pictures. Aren’t they amazing?

IMG_4783

So how do they manage to keep from harming their own chicks.  By curling them, when they walk on the nest themselves.

IMG_4785

Feeding the eaglets is a full time job right now!

IMG_4944

Every time I go lakeside, I can hear them crying for attention.

IMG_4958

I bet the poor parents are tired!

The view from the back side of the nest isn’t as clear as from the front.

IMG_5216

Especially since the eagles have done some rearranging and seem to be moving large sticks to that side as the eaglets get bigger.

IMG_5232

IMG_5194

Even after all these years, I still manage to record a new-to-me behavior!  They’re amazing creatures!  Graceful in flight. Great parents. Strong builders.

IMG_5260 IMG_5281

I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to study them year round, and to use that research in Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest, as well as sharing my nature adventures with campers and readers all over New England.

IMG_5285

I can’t wait to see what eagle adventures I witness this coming summer!

Add a Comment
10. 2015 Nesting Loons

Today, after teaching, and after starting a large order for the campground store, I grabbed my camera and headed to the lake.  No sooner had I pushed off shore, I spied a loon fishing halfway across the lake.

I drifted toward it, as I fiddled with my camera to get just the right settings for a slightly cloudy, slightly sunny day.  Suddenly, it popped up beside the kayak.

IMG_4683

It stretched, and dove and stretched again.

 

IMG_4684

 

And I must say, this is how I feel to finally feel the sun on my shoulders and the warm breezes on my face.

IMG_4685

IMG_4686

It took quite awhile, but I spied the nest, too.  Our loons have chosen a new nesting spot, and I must admit to being a bit relieved.

IMG_4715

They haven’t had chicks in two years, and my fingers are crossed that this new nesting site will be a good one for them.

Only time will tell.

Add a Comment
11. Fox Kit Research

The manuscript for Mystery of the Missing Fox might be in my editors hands for review, bu that doesn’t mean the research stops.  Especially when it involves fox kits.

There are five in all, from what I can tell.  I sit in the woods, 100 feet from the den.  And at first, they stare at me, trying to figure if I’m friend or foe.

IMG_3265

When I don’t move closer or make any noise, they relax a bit.  But they always know exactly where I am.

IMG_3528

Once they feel safe again, the research and fun starts, and I raise my camera.

At first, the kits approach their brothers and sisters very innocently.

IMG_3494

They might even give a friendly hey-you-sleeping tap of the paw.

IMG_3495

And the next thing you know, they’re nibbling each others ears!  Or feet. Or tail.

IMG_3496

 

 

They roll around on the ground, no noise, no squeaks or growls that I can hear.  Which is good, since their mother isn’t in the area to protect them from predators.  (She was either out hunting, or watching me, watch her kits)

IMG_3497

IMG_3505

IMG_3508

Just when one kit seems to be getting the best of their sibling, a third comes to the rescue!

IMG_3509

IMG_3516

IMG_3519

When the play has wound down, the kits curl up together. No hard feelings on either side. That’s my cue to go.

IMG_3552

I hope the best for this year’s litter.

Stay safe little ones.

 

Add a Comment
12. Hummingbird Obsession

Photographing Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds has become a bit of an obsession.  I sit on the front lawn by my honeysuckle bush for an hour here, and an hour there, hoping for the chance to snap a photo or two.

But they’re so darn quick!

At first I could only get photos of them sitting on a branch.

IMG_4156

IMG_4157

But then I graduated to some flight photos.  They still aren’t as clear as I’d like, but I’m hoping to learn as I go.

 

IMG_4111 IMG_4112

Did you know these delicate creatures weigh less than a penny??

IMG_4113 IMG_4115

Their hearts beat 600+ times per minute!  The normal beat for an average bird is 200!  For a human it’s 72.

And they need to feed every ten minutes or so to keep their energy level stabilized.

The way they feed, is by licking nectar three times per second. Try that with your next ice cream cone!

IMG_4136

They’re fascinating in so many ways!

 

Add a Comment
13. Eaglet Update

 

 

I thought you might want an eaglet update.  They’re growing very quickly!

IMG_3021

And holler?  Oh my, can they holler when they’re hungry!

IMG_3026

The eagle parents are sticking closely to the nest these days. For some reason, the geese make them crazy; flapping their wings, throwing their heads back and giving the danger call until the geese move out of the area.

IMG_3027

When the adult eagles move from side to side in the nest, the eaglets pull themselves across the nest after them, by using their wings and beak.

IMG_3050 IMG_3052 IMG_3066

These two little ones are big and strong. We’re going to have fun watching them grow this summer!

Add a Comment
14. Contest Winners!

Sorry it took so long to post the winners, but the campground store was hopping busy today!  After the long, long winter, it felt awesome to have so many campers and readers in the building.

First, I’d like to say how much I loved reading all the camping memories you posted.  Each one was unique and from the heart. Thank you for posting and playing.

I took all the names, wrote them on scraps of paper and tucked them randomly into the pockets of my coat. It doesn’t have as many pockets as Packrat’s, but there were eight to choose from.

IMG_1981

Then I waited for just the right contest pickers to come into the office. Eventually, two young men arrived, one of them telling me how much he loved both my books, and how he’d bought one yesterday. “You did?” I exclaimed.  “I can sign it for you, if you do me a favor.”  I winked at him.

“Sure!” he said.

I explained the rules of the contest, and what I’d done with the names.  “I need you each to chose one,” I said.

IMG_1983

The first young man chose a pocket from the right side of my  coat.

IMG_1984

IMG_1987

The second young man, chose one from the left side.

IMG_1985

IMG_1986

IMG_1988

Linda Gray and Kim Campbell, you’ve each one a set of Cooper and Packrat books!  I’ll need to get your addresses to mail them. My e-mail address is on the contact page.

Congratulations!!

Add a Comment
15. COOPER AND PACKRAT~ Teacher & Librarian Appreciation Giveaway!

So very many reasons to celebrate this week ~

First off, it’s Teacher Appreciation week!    I’ve met many amazing educators the last few years.  I’m blessed to work in RSU16, a district in which the staff is not only knowledgeable, but welcoming and inspiring, too.  They’re cheerleaders in and out of the brick and mortar buildings we work in. As a teacher, and a parent, I’ve seen first-hand how they go above and beyond to make sure students get the education, time and attention they need.

I’ve also been privileged to meet incredible teachers and librarians outside my district while promoting and teaching Cooper and Packrat.   They have so many creative ideas when it comes to teaching literacy, and I’ve learned so much through my visits to their schools and literacy events, from their tweets and Facebook posts.  Thank you all!

This also happens to be  Children’s Book Week; the annual celebration of children’s books and reading. I was a little surprised to see Children’s Book Week was instituted in 1919, and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. That’s 96 years, people! 96 years!!  BRAVO!

And, last but not least, my campground opened this week, too!

Clean Up  (10) IMG_1917

 

Clean Up  (12)

We had a happy, energetic group of campers who raked our sites and roads in exchange for donuts and camping!  We couldn’t have had better weather for it, either. We’re off to a great start to the 2015 Season!!

For these reasons and more, I’ve decided it’s time for another Cooper and Packrat giveaway for teachers and librarians, in appreciation for all they do.

Cooper and Packrat cover MysteryoftheEaglesNestFinal

I have two sets of Cooper and Packrat, Books 1 and 2, to give away.  Teachers and librarians, all you have to do is leave your name, school and favorite summer memory from your childhood in the comments below by midnight, Friday, May 8th. If it’s a camping memory, your name will be entered twice! (Please don’t post on FB or Twitter, even though I’ll promote it there, as I’m afraid of missing someone’s entry)

IMG_1999

And this Saturday, I’ll have my camp readers pull two names as winners.

Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a Comment
16. Uninvited Guest

As I walked to the lake yesterday (without boots!) I could hear the unmistakeable cry of an eagle.  I hurried, hoping to see the adults switch places on the nest.  Or maybe get a glimpse of them bringing food back.

IMG_1400

But when I got there, the nesting eagle was alone.  Every couple of minutes, it threw back its head to give the squeaky, danger-in-the-area call.

IMG_1413 IMG_1415 IMG_1416 IMG_1417

I kept waiting for the mate to fly in, as they usually do, to holler in duet against the danger.  For twenty minutes, I waited, with one eye on the sky.

20150427_180004

The eagle continued to cry, even though I couldn’t see what had upset it so. The loons weren’t in the area.  Nor crows or seagulls.  The osprey didn’t appear to be hunting either.

IMG_1421

Suddenly, I heard the flapping of a large wingspan.  Looking straight up, I realized a juvenile eaglet had been over my head, hidden in the branches of a big pine the whole time!  It flew down the shoreline, only to circle around and come back again.

IMG_1441

I never did get a good picture of the juvenile, as he soared over the trees I was standing under. I would have kept camera-hunting him, but the black clouds had arrived to let loose a steady stream of big, fat raindrops.

IMG_1452

I still have no proof of the eggs hatching, but this eagle did seem to be sitting a little higher on the nest.  I’ll check again tomorrow to see what I can see!

Add a Comment
17. A Walk on the Eastern Prom

Today, my husband and I walked from the Eastern Prom (ME), to the Old Port along a bike/walk path.  Casco Bay was on one side of us, the Narrow Gauge Railway on the other. The sun shone down, the birds were singing, kids rode bikes, joggers passed by and the seagulls called out.

It was a glorious day!

Portland Bay Walk  (12)

Mockingbird singing a happy song from a low branch as people passed by.

Portland Bay Walk  (26)

Sailing school is in session!

Portland Bay Walk  (27)

The Narrow Gauge Railway had quite a few passengers.

My husband geo-cached, but I could hear the call of the osprey.  So I searched high and low. Finally, I found them. They were quite a ways away, but I had my camera on me.

Check out this nest!  All the rope mixed in with the sticks.

Portland Bay Walk  (44)

The one on the nest was hollering like crazy, and I soon figured out why.  Another osprey wanted the nest.

Portland Bay Walk  (48)

They dove and danced in the air.

Portland Bay Walk  (49)

Portland Bay Walk  (59)

Portland Bay Walk  (51)

Portland Bay Walk  (53)

Until one of them claimed the platform for themselves.

Portland Bay Walk  (54)

Even so, the osprey who’d been kicked out, circled overhead for quite awhile, crying out to anyone who would listen.

 

Portland Bay Walk  (70)

Lucky for me, it was almost over my head

Portland Bay Walk  (72)

Portland Bay Walk  (73)

It looked to me, like he still wasn’t too happy about it.

Portland Bay Walk  (95)

Add a Comment
18. First Loon Sighting for 2015

 

Yesterday, as I walked the red-blazed trail through the campground and along the shoreline of Lower Range Pond, I looked out over the water and gasped!

My loons were back!

IMG_0798

The ice had only been out for a day!  Somehow, they always manage to time it perfectly.

 

IMG_0799

The pair called back and forth, location calls.  My eyes got teary hearing them, I hadn’t realized just how much I’d missed it.

IMG_0801

Whenever their call rings out, people stop what they’re doing to turn toward the sound.

IMG_0819

Hopefully, we’ll have a successful nesting season this year, as the last two years did not yield chicks. ( If you click on the Random Loon Tag on the right of this post, you’ll find the blog posts describing why.)

IMG_0846

I should be revising, channeling fox kits for book three, as the Mystery of the Missing Fox  is due to my editor next month.  But the sun has just poked its way through the clouds and I cannot resist going down to the lake to find these gorgeous birds and to hear their call again.

The manuscript will be there when I get back.

Add a Comment
19. Photography and Revising

These are the months where I have the most time to play with my camera, but the subject matter is limited.  My loons have gone to the coast.  The eagles roam, not yet tied to a nest full of chicks, the heron has migrated, turtles are buried deep and the fox kits are just a gleam in their parent’s eyes  . . .

So I turn to my backyard chicks.  If they were my children, they’d roll their eyes at the number of times I stand in my little front yard with my biggest lens trained on their feeders.  You can almost hear them say, “Really?  Really?  Isn’t that a little bit of overkill there? Go find a snowy owl for goodness sake!”

But it’s more challenging than one would think.  Over the last couple of days, whenever I was stuck in my manuscript, I’d take the camera outside for a few minutes.  Then at night I’d pour through the photos to see what I’d caught.  From the five hundred I took over the last couple of days, perhaps twenty to twenty-five were salvaged.  Ten of those are sharp and crisp.  Some I wish I had do-overs for . . .

IMG_6130

Grand Central Station

Right before a storm is best.  The feeders are a hub-bub of activity, the birds almost don’t pay me any mind at all as they choose their seeds.

IMG_6197a

Finches devour the seed, leaving a chickadee waiting in the wings

 

Emotions are high on these days . . . . everyone wants their turn at the feeder.

 

IMG_6211

Wait your turn!

IMG_6236

Downy Woodpecker

IMG_5778

Mourning Dove with snow for a hat

Focusing and shooting birds who are perched and chowing down is fun, but I longed for a bigger challenge.  Incredible photos.

Flight photos.

So I turned my camera on my newest feeder, a shiny glass ball, where the flight in and out was constant.

Well, almost constant.

Red Feeder  (3)

With a little guidance from my husband, the photos became sharper and more interesting.

red feeder take2  (56) red feeder take2  (44) red feeder take2  (30) red feeder take2  (24)

But there were still a lot of photos I had to cut, interesting photos, but not clear enough, crisp enough to save.  I had to take comfort in the knowledge that I could try again another day.

Last night it hit me, for me, revising a manuscript is a lot like revising my photos. For every 1,000 strings of words, perhaps two hundred make the cut. Some need a little sharpening and re-focusing from a editor.  Some are put aside as a maybe.  Some you never need to touch, perfect in their rawness, from the minute you first wrote the words. Some are junk and just have to go.

Add color and substance here.  Move a chapter there.  Try to find the very perfect combination of contrast, exposure and depth . . . .

And cheekiness . . . .

red feeder take2  (41)

 

Add a Comment
20. Fisher Mitchell’s One Book, One School Program

Cooper and Packrat  had the distinct honor of being the book chosen for Fisher Mitchell’s One Book, One School Project 2015.  Two hundred and sixty hardcover copies of Mystery of Pine Lake was distributed through the school, thanks to a generous grant from the Tabitha and Stephen King Foundation, and support from the Bath Elementary Schools PTA.

DSC04738

260 copies!  Whoa!

Joan Newkirk (my contact at Fisher Mitchell), and the rest of the teachers and librarians, had many wonderful activities planned to go along with the event.  Dress like a loon day, dress like your favorite character day, two breakfasts with read-alouds from the book, my two-day visit and a Pot Luck evening event, just to name a few.

And look at this bulletin board!

DSC04729

A poem by Mary Oliver – The Loon on Oak-Head Pond

 

I was very disappointed when after waiting months, my first day to visit was snowed out – but the second day was still a go!

2015-01-29 09.07.34

When I arrived, I was given a fabulous space in the library and told to “make it my own for the day”.  Heaven!

As I waited patiently for students to arrive, several students and teachers poked their heads in the library to ask, “Are you Tamra Wight?” When I said yes, they’d grin and continue on their way.  A few brought their books in to have me sign.

There were four sessions in all, spanning grades 3 and 4. We talked about ideas, the inspiration behind Cooper and Packrat, and how my photography is my way of researching and documenting wildlife notes.  But mostly we talked about descriptive language and how important it is.

Playing What's in Packrat's Coat?: Descriptive Language Game

Playing What’s in Packrat’s Coat?: Descriptive Language Game

The students had wonderful comments, connections and questions.  One young lady, when asked where ideas come from, responded, “Your heart.”

She stole mine, with that answer.

Next Thursday, I’ll return to meet the fifth graders.  The snow better stay away!

We managed to squeeze in the Pot Luck Dinner and Author Presentation that same evening before the big Friday storm. Rather than go home between the classroom presentations and the Pot Luck, Cindy Lord and Mona Pease agreed to meet me for latte’s and chai at Cafe Creme.

20150129_155401

The drinks were warm, and the conversation light.  I just love these two ladies and their readiness to keep me company, in spite of my last minute wanna-meet-up, shout out . Not only did they brave the cold to come see me, they returned to the school to watch my little presentation and take a few photos of it.

The line for the pot luck was long!  So many wonderful families came!  One young man told me it was “an amazing turn out. You never know how these things will go.”

IMG_0880

While everyone ate, it was time for me to read from Cooper and Packrat.  Since many of the students had already begun the book, I chose Chapter 10:  a chapter about meeting and greeting around the campfire, old friends and new, coming together.  It felt appropriate, considering the meeting and greeting that was happening at the Pot Luck.

IMG_0886

Being introduced by Principal Berkowitz

IMG_0893

My little thank you speech

IMG_0888

Reading Chapter 10

My favorite part, of course, was talking to parents, teachers, PTA members and of course the students themselves.

IMG_0881

I signed many books, and I will get the rest next Thursday for sure.

DSC04747

Some students snuck a peek at Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest, while they had a chance.

DSC04749

This young lady, had a hard time giving it back to me.  She left happy though, when I told her the library had gained an extra copy for loaning that day.

And the frosting on the cake, in an already amazing day, was having this cool cake presented for desert.

20150129_170255

None of the students would allow the servers to cut into Cooper and Packrat’s faces . . . so one Mom took Cooper home, and I took Packrat.

So glad those two are well loved!

Add a Comment
21. Escaping the Cold

Last week, I was fortunate enough to escape to Florida for a few days.  Some of that time, was spent taking my son on college campus tours.

But the rest of the time was spent walking Sanibel beaches and paths with my camera.

Soaking up sunshine.

In my bare feet.

Pelicans were the bird of the week for me.  Every time I turned around, they were there.

IMG_8867 IMG_8826 IMG_8832 IMG_8833 IMG_8845

IMG_8885

But I also saw an Anhinga, drying its wings by the side of the road.  They dive like a cormorant, but their markings are more stunning.

IMG_7784

IMG_7781 IMG_7770

Quite to my surprise, I caught a great photo of a Pileated Woodpecker, who was skirting the woods near the beach.

IMG_8862

I took sunrise photos

IMG_8371

And sunset photos, all in the same day.

IMG_8716 IMG_8800

But I think my very favorite photos, were those of a little Western Sandpiper, taking a salt water bath . . .

IMG_7943

Because he looked like he was enjoying it so . . .

IMG_7949

IMG_7952 IMG_7962 IMG_7964 IMG_7980 IMG_7982

I haven’t even begun to wade through the hundreds of photos I’d taken while on Sanibel.  Stop back again, because I’m sure to have another batch to share . . .

Add a Comment
22. The Eagles Are Twitterpated!

Walk Dec 26  (32)

December 2014

IMG_8944

March 2015

Can you see the diffference?  And today, there were even more branches on the nest!  Ice fisherman told me the eagles had added to it all morning long.

The eagles are getting ready to lay their eggs!

I’ve snowshoed down every day, hoping to see the tell-tale sign, of one eagle, nestled in the nest.  When she does, we’ll only see the very top of her white head. Last year, she was sitting on eggs March 8th.

Until then, the eagles continue to visit the nest and add to it.

IMG_9050 IMG_9051 IMG_9052 IMG_9053

 

Add a Comment
23. Where Have I Been? Here, There and Everywhere!

I’ve been fortunate to visit a few schools full of readers and writers over the last couple months.  And every visit was so special!

In February, I was able to meet Librarian Lynn Howker and the 4th, 5th and 6th grade students of Monmouth Middle School.

monmouth 8

We talked about descriptive language, and how fun it can be to build a boring, short sentence into a long, interesting one.  And we practiced how to find those descriptive words with Packrat’s Pocket Game.

Monmouth 3

One student wears a coat/vest like Packrat’s, and they choose one of the many pockets it holds. While they look away, I show their peers the item in the pocket.  The challenge is for the peers to describe the item without staying its name, and for the student to guess what it is. It’s harder than it sounds!

Monmouth 2

Monmouth 1

On March 4th, I Skyped with two third grade classes in Buxton for World Read Aloud Day.

Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest was the book they chose.  One classroom asked for Chapter 1, as they were just about to start it.  The other had finished, and asked me to pick a favorite.  So of course, I had to choose a bathroom scene.  Afterward, I answered questions from the students. Always my favorite part!  And what fabulous questions they had!  I especially liked showing them the campground office, through my laptop, from my house office window.

I wish I had a photos, but alas, it’s hard to read, Skype and take a pic too.

Just last week, I visited with the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders from Mast Landing in Freeport.

Mast Landing School (4)

Mast Landing has such a pretty, two story library.  I could have spent a whole afternoon, lost in the stacks.

Mast Landing School (2) Mast Landing School (3)

My presentations were held under great art, of Maine treasures.

Mast Landing School (1)

It was such a special treat to have lunch with the Library Pages, a group of volunteer students who give their free time to help with the numerous Library tasks. They asked wonderful questions about writing, reading and what it felt like to be on the Maine Student Book Award list.

And there was ice cream!

Thank you to all the schools I’ve visited!  I hope you’re enjoying Cooper and Packrat’s adventures!

 

Add a Comment
24. Nesting Eagles 2015

 

Somewhere around March 24th, the eagle pair settled in on their eggs.

IMG_0140

Look at that smile!

Each egg was laid three days apart and thirty-five days from then, chicks will be born.  Both adults take turns sitting on the nest, and they’ll turn the eggs approximately every two hours.

After the eggs are laid and the eagles start their long sit-in, or as I like to call it, a snuggle-in, I will always see one on the nest. They won’t leave those eggs alone. They’ll keep them warm and dry and safe to predators in the air, such as ravens. Or predators from down below, like raccoons.

Nesting Eagles 3-25-15  (27)

When I trudge to the lake now, through the 6 inches of snow which lays over most of the campground, I can count on seeing the one on the beautiful nest they built.

Nesting eagles 3-24-15  (40)

Eyes to the sky though, I’m looking for the mate not on the nest. And if I’m lucky, I’ll witness something amazing like this . . .

Nesting Eagles 3-25-15  (46) Nesting Eagles 3-25-15  (45)

One eagle bringing sticks to the nest, adding on to the castle, so to speak.

Or a juvenile, soaring overhead, but not daring to come near.

A hawk looking for its next meal.

But what I’m most anxious for, is eaglets.

It won’t be long now.

 

Add a Comment
25. Switching Places

Yesterday, the weather turned glorious! Warm breezes blew over the still frozen lake, as birds chirped from every corner of the forest.

I took a long walk along the shoreline, camera slung around my neck, ready to shoot.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

I was just in time to watch the eagles switch places sitting on the eggs.

IMG_0377

 

 

 

IMG_0394 IMG_0408

And this time, the departing eagle flew right over my head!

IMG_0414 IMG_0415

Only two or three minutes passed before the eagle left on the nest hunkered down for their watch over the little ones.

IMG_0426 IMG_0445

Lately, there’s been a pair of seagulls who soar high overhead the small patch of open water on the lake.  The eagles don’t like this, not at all!  The one on the nest will call out, and the mate flies in to help protect the family.

Such good parents!

April vacation arrives soon. And with it, my walks will increase.  My notes from 2014 tell me that the eaglets were born right around April 18th, so you can bet I’ll be down at the lake as often as I can!

And I’ll keep you posted too.

 

Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts