The other day, it occured to me that since Lights! Curtains! Cows!, has an old-time prairie legend at its heart, a theme song with a folksy, country style is just what this book needed! I composed some lyrics, and then contacted my brother, Paul Shrofel, who is a professional musician and music producer. Paul and I have been collaborating on songs, musicals, plays and amateur radio shows since we were kids. So, in a few days of bouncing ideas back and forth, we came up with the upbeat song “The Legend of Cow Valley”. The song retells the story of Lights! Curtains! Cows! in a fun, folksy style with a rousing chorus of “Moos” that kids can sing along with. I love how it turned out and I hope you take a listen! You can find it on the Fun Stuff page of my site.
I’m thrilled to be able to finally say that Lights! Curtains! Cows!, my very first novel for young people, is finally here! It seems like a long time from the moment I began to imagine the story, to it being accepted by James Lorimer & Company for publication, to its release date – part of that though is just being so excited (like the night before Christmas, but for months on end!). I hope you will enjoy the story, and that it will make you laugh. It was fun to write, and I hope you find it fun to read!
To read more about the book itself, please click here.
I hope you’ll come back to my site to check out the latest news about this book, and upcoming books, too. I have another book for James Lorimer & Company’s Streetlights series in the works – it comes out in Spring 2010. I’ll be posting more about it here as we get closer to the release date, so stop by again soon!
And book lovers – don’t forget to download and print the free bookmarks I made just for you! (They come in a sheet of 5 – I don’t know about you, but between having several books on the go at once, and the uncanny ability to misplace little things like bookmarks, I thought 5 was a good number!)
I find inspiration for stories in my childhood memories. I don’t mean that I sit down, remember a specific event from when I was young, and use that to write a book. In fact, so far, none of the situations in my books have actually happened to me– the plots are developed in my imagination. However, I do have vivid memories of how I felt about things as a young person, and what was important to me and my friends.
Not only can these “thought” and “feeling” memories suggest specific things to write about, they help bring characters to life. I try to reconnect with how it felt to be a young person, so that I can remember what the world looked like to me. That helps me to give my characters authentic feelings and reactions, and put words in their mouths that sound like they come from the heart– their hearts– it helps my characters to ring true.
It’s funny, I find that because I spend so much time trying to create characters that are real, I really feel as though I know them! Becky, Greg and Mike from Lights! Curtains! Cows! and Chloe, Mark and Mr. Z from No TV? No Fair! are like old friends (or new friends, depending on how you look at it!).
Writing a book to share with others is lots of fun for the author, not only because others get to read your story, but because you get to live in a world that you create while you write (and you get to visit each time you pick up your book!)
What inspires you? Do you turn to your memories for inspiration? Or do you use your imagination to step completely outside of yourself, like trying on an exciting costume, so that you can understand the world in a whole different way?
Remember to Laugh, Feel, Think and Dream!
Do you love to write stories? If you do, how wonderful! You’ve chosen a very special, very exciting way to express yourself. With words, you can create pictures, share feelings, make people laugh, wonder and think.
If you’ve been writing stories, you probably know that it’s not always easy to get those great ideas that are in your head onto paper. It takes time and effort to turn an idea into something that others can understand and appreciate.
There are lots of tips out there for making your writing even better. (I’m always on the look out for advice myself as I grow as a writer!)
Here are my three most favourite tips (so far!) for making good writing great writing:
– Read your writing out loud. I find that this is the best way to edit my own work, to make sure that the words I’ve chosen properly express my ideas. It’s also a handy way to catch words and sentences that just aren’t working. If it doesn’t sound right out loud, it probably won’t make sense to your readers. Reading your writing out loud gives you a chance to fix what might not be working…and also to hear what sounds just right!
– Read books by other authors, especially those who are writing the kind of stories you are working on. When you study how your favourite authors tell a story, it helps you to understand techniques that will make your writing even better. I’m not saying that you should read other authors in order to copy them exactly – you need to find your own voice to tell your own story, of course! And it’s not just a matter of taking notes on how one author writes dialogue, or how another author describes a setting. There’s something magical that happens when you immerse yourself in a great book. The rhythm, pace, and feel for your kind of story gets in your bones and helps your stories to take shape. So get out your library card, and flex its muscles!
– Keep on writing! The desire to write stories is very special, and it’s important that you keep at it so that your ideas keep flowing. Sometimes, I wake up feeling that I’m out of ideas, or that my ideas may not be good enough for a story. The best thing that I can do when I’m in that kind of mood is to start writing, even if the first few sentences are nonsense. For me putting an idea–any idea–into words has a way of stirring up other ideas. Before I know it, I might have the seed for a character, the elements of a funny scene, or even the outline for a whole new book. If you love to write, keep at it! Once you start, who knows where your imagination will lead you!