I’ve always been a pantser. That’s a writer who creates stories by the seat of her pants, just jumping off the cliff and writing whatever happens next. This is a very exciting way to write. You never know what is going to happen next. Because. Well. You haven’t planned anything.
In November and December, I suddenly found myself desiring to plot new stories. I wanted to try being a plotter, a writer who makes a plan before writing. This of course helps with story arc, characters, setting, and all of that stuff. Well, it’s not like I said, “I want to be a plotter,” but one day I noticed my Debbie Ridpath Ohi picture book thumbnails template and thought it would be fun to try.
And wow! Two picture books written by actual plotting. For these two stories, the plotting plan worked perfectly. (Heh-heh, I love alliteration.)
I’m sure I will continue to be mostly a pantser because I love running with a story idea that begins with a title (which happens quite often) or a phrase or a character. But on occasion, I might just dig out that template and put on my plotting pants.
Who’s with me?
Thank you, Debbie Ridpath Ohi! You can find her picture book templates (and tons of other great info) on her website: debbieohi.com
Writing Tip: Always add kitties to help you write. Works for plotters OR pantsers. (Or snugglers.)
What do furry kitties and people noses have in common?
Both sometimes need de-furring (or de-zitting). I doubt that last is an actual word. But you know what I mean.
I’ve personally used the Bioré strips on multiple occasions, to some success. But after a week of so of poofs of kitty fur falling from Monet (our hunting monster girl cat) and floating around the RV, I was getting pretty tired of wearing gray itchy hair.
After one snuggle session, I accidentally wiped my fur-covered hands on my navy shorts. Oops. So off I went to get the lint strips, which quickly took care of the problem.
. . .
And then. Could it be that easy? Let’s try and find out. (With Monet, this is risky business, trying stuff like sticky lint strips on her body. I could be putting myself in the way of scratches, bites, or hisses. Such is the personality of Her Highness.)
. . .
But it worked! For a few times. And then she was done. But oh, the wonder and delight of cat-ching that much fur before it was displayed around the RV.
Go ahead. Try some kitty Bioré strips this shedding season. Let me know how it goes.
Oh, such adorable characters! I’m a cat fan, but cute little Clover takes kitties to a new level. I truly enjoyed reading Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, to myself and my grands (even the soon-to-be 6th grader was secretly listening). If you have a kitty, I mean child, beginning kittygarten this fall, however that looks in your town, reading this picture book will be the perfect activity to begin exploring and discussing all of the changes and anxieties of a new school experience.
I’m pleased to welcome Laura Purdie Salas, author of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten. After reading her new book, I reached out to Laura and invited her to visit my blog. Thank you for stopping by Laura! Happy book birthday!
Welcome, Laura! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a former English teacher and copyeditor who’s been writing book for kids for (gulp) 20 years. Poetry and nonfiction mostly, but I have lots of stories inside, too. CLOVER’s my first pure fiction picture book! I’m also a game player, donut lover, and eager learner, and I love to walk and work at my treadmill desk.
What was your inspiration for Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten?
What was the writing journey you took as you wrote Clover Kitty?
I had to justify a character being afraid of puppies or kitties. Over the course of a year and a dozen or so drafts, I tried out many different conflicts and character traits for Clover. Was she anxious? Just used to doing things her own way? Strongly introverted? I learned a bit more about Clover with each draft, and eventually this evolved into a back-to-school story, and Clover became a kitty who experiences sensory overwhelm. So Clover sees a bunch of kitties on the playground at recess, for instance, as “a squealing tornado of fangs and fur.” As someone who is not great at making friends myself, and who also finds crowds overwhelming, I definitely see a bit of myself in Clover.
Donavyn and Autumn ready to read about Clover!
How have you celebrated the release (August 1, 2020) of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten?
Oh, boy. It’s a rough year to release a book, isn’t it? In-person events were all canceled, of course. I did a virtual readaloud to some lovely kids through Gigi’s Playhouse (https://gigisplayhouse.org/gigisathome/), but that’s about it in real time. I devoted a bit of extra energy to making some printables to help teachers and families during this nerve-wracking back-to-school time. I’ve got puppets and activity sheets and a school countdown calendar—lots of things to celebrate friends and help kids think about what tools THEY need to make their back-to-school experience a great one! Or at least one with more ups than downs! And there’s been a super blog tour, which I’ve been so grateful for. I have links and excerpts on my site, along with all those printables, at https://laurasalas.com/clover/.
Surprise us. What else would you like to share?
I’m learning that anxiety is something that can strike anytime. I’m usually upbeat and very practical. With the state of the world right now, however, author visits, book sales, book acquisitions—they are all taking a hard hit. Honestly, I’m worried about my writing career. So I’m gathering my own survival gear. I may not need earmuffs or sunglasses like Clover, but I’m digging deep to find the tools I can use to keep moving forward and making picture books—my favorite thing in the whole world.
Thank so much, Laura, for sharing your journey and your imagination in the form of Clover Kitty!
Here’s how to get in touch with Laura. Check it out – a Clover Kitty page with fun stuff!
Our daughter ended up in the hospital due to cellulitis from a bug bite. As a result, we juggled child care, transportation, hospital runs, and assorted other duties while she received aggressive IV treatment to stop the infection (previous antibiotics did nothing to stop the infection from spreading).
Every week is busy and we tend to go full speed. Writing, working, cooking, cleaning. But add one off-kilter event, such as a parent (our adult child) being hospitalized, and chaos rules the day.
Good thing for me, I had a weekend away tucked in my hip pocket. Of course, I would have cancelled had my daughter not been released from her expensive spa treatment (that’s what we called her stay). Hooray, her bite improved, the high powered antibiotics did their job, and she went home in plenty of time for my retreat.
After handing off care of 3 grands to my daughter-in-love, I loaded the car with the important things (rubber stamps, food, clothes) and headed to Seattle to stay and play with my crafting partner. And boy did we pack in the fun.
I was amazed at all we managed to fit into our weekend. We
~rubber stamped cards (36 total for me)
~took a ferry ride to Hood Canal
~relaxed at a cabin where we sipped hot tea, read a magazine, read the newspaper, and attempted a crossword puzzle
~completed a four-mile walk through the state park where we saw one spawning salmon and several done spawning and deceased fish, bald eagles, a seal, seagulls, gorgeous fall colors, and sparkling streams leading to Hood Canal
~stopped at a craft market AND a thrift shop
~enjoyed a new apple crisp (with cheese!) recipe
~tasted creative and delicious meals
~talked much and solved world problems
~watched the Seattle Sounders win the national championship game
~walked to the University Village
~listened to a mystery on cassette
~kicked off the Christmas season with traditional music selections
~planned Christmas gifts and adventures
~traveled to Southcenter (a shopping area in Renton) where we perused Impress for more rubber stamping ideas and supplies, braved crowds and long lines at IKEA (plus I had coupons for a free birthday meal and stuff), and used coupons at JoAnn’s
~slept in and snuggled kitties
I’m sure that’s not all we did, but the change of scenery and responsibilities refreshed my body and energy. I was sad when my weekend away came to an end and I had to reload the car and drive home.
What a wonderful way to recharge! Should you find yourself needing stress relief and relaxation, consider a weekend getaway. Choose a new or favorite destination, pack your bags, and hit the road. It will be worth all of your time and efforts.
How do you relax? Where do you go to get away? What was your favorite weekend away?
One can’t be all work and no play, especially on a writing retreat.
First, there is the cat. Cosmo is quite happy to give me as many breaks a day as I can handle (and then some). Plus he delivers wrap-his-paws-around-my-neck loves, a warm kitty neck warmer, and blankets of kitty fur.
Then there are the windows. Such delightful windows, with a garden full of butterflies, hummingbirds, blue jays, finches, bees, bumblebees, squirrels, other cats, flowers, trees. Not to mention passers-by of uncounted numbers.
Meals and snacks come in handy. As do walks in the historic neighborhood and nearby downtown Snohomish.
And if you know me, rubber stamping provides mental breaks and opportunities for creativity.
This mermaid card was made with rubber cling stamps, watercolor paints, patterned paper, and a bit of glitter glue. She’s pretty cute, isn’t she?
From me to you. You are MER-MAZING! And don’t forget it.
Just before Christmas, our family was devastated to discover neighborhood dogs had destroyed our precious love-love (my nickname for her) Mabel. It was pretty awful. We still miss our little gray girl every day.
No more “Which one is this?” from the grands (and everyone else). No more help working on my writing projects. No more kitty tracks on my printed papers. No more head butts and lap cuddles.
Monet, her twin sister, was lost for quite a few weeks and is now just finally starting to come into her own as an ONLY cat. There are times she quite enjoys the attention. The rest of the time she’d rather be out mousing or birding. She was always the more independent wild thing.
To combat future attacks, we put up a gate on our driveway to discourage any other dogs from wandering in to check out what trouble they could get into. As Papa and Hayden finished up the gate, they decided it should be named after Mabel, a tribute to her short, cuddly, furry life.
Perfect! In honor of our Mabes, Mabel, love-love, gray girl, kitty baby. The MABEL gate. Ta-da!