Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Writing Wishes

Okay, it is almost New Year's Day.
Have you met your goals for this year?
Do you have goals set for next year?

There is a New Year's superstition about work.

Make sure to do - and be successful at - something related to your work on the first day of the year. But limit your activity to a token amount, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is unlucky.

So get most of your writing and editing done today :o) Do a few touches to your story tomorrow, then rest and enjoy the day!

If you are interested in other New Year's superstitions, visit my other blog and read all about it.

What have you been up to lately?

I have been working very, very hard on my MG manuscript.

I so, so hope I will get somewhere with this story. But I have to do more than hope. It takes a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance. And I have to be willing to listen to comments and suggestions to improve my work.  I am trying to do that, but sometimes it is hard to see your words as other people see them.

Some people believe you write something once and that is it. Believe me, there is always room for improvement no matter how good you think it is. Let other eyes see it and get other people's opinions. But, others may not always be right. Unless more than one critiquer agrees that something is wrong, and you feel it is right, then I say stick to your guns and go with your gut.

Do not think that it is not your story if other people give you input?

Wrong. It will still be your idea, your words and your work! 

Do not let your pride get in the way of accepting help from others. And do not just get input from your friends and family. They may sometimes not want to hurt your feelings.

I do not know why I got on this little bandwagon about writing. I just wish and want the best for all of us in our writing endeavors. Sometimes only one word, one paragraph, one rhyme or one thought can make the difference in a story or poem.

Have you made any writing goals for this year?

Here is wishing you . . . and me a very Happy, and fullfilling, 'writing' New Year!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch


Monday, December 24, 2012

Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Thought I'd post my column I wrote for Two-Lane Livin' magazine's December issue.

Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas 
 by: Janet F. Smart

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents? Silent Night!
Celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas with all its sights, sounds and smells.
Add some old-fashioned Christmas sights to your house by popping popcorn and making strands to string on your Christmas tree. Hang cookie cutters on your tree, string them across your mantle or use them as napkin rings. Sprinkle powdered sugar on large pinecones and make a small grouping of ‘snow covered pinecone trees’ to set on a placemat and put it in the middle of your kitchen table.
Add some old-fashioned Christmas sounds to your house by hanging jingle bells on your front door and playing Christmas music on your radio or CD player. Light your fireplace and listen to the crackling of the warm fire on a frosty morning.
Add some old-fashioned Christmas smells to your house by baking sugar cookies, lighting cinnamon scented candles, making cinnamon dough ornaments to hang on your tree and, of course, putting up a piney smelling Christmas tree.
Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, said, “Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone.”
You can visit a neighbor and present them with a plate of cookies or read a Christmas story to a younger family member or friend. Some good holiday books are:
Berenstain Bears Old Fashioned Christmas, The Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas, The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving, God Gave us Christmas, A Christmas Carol, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, Olivia Helps With Christmas, Snowmen at Christmas and Bear Stays up for Christmas.
The spirit of Christmas lives in your heart. Give the gift of love and friendship. Make homemade gifts; share your voice by going caroling in your neighborhood. Have a family fun night each week. Pop some popcorn and watch a Christmas movie.
But, most of all, remember what Dr. Seuss said in The Grinch That Stole Christmas. He puzzled three hours till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, “Maybe Christmas,” he thought…“doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps …means a little bit more!”
And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day!
Merry Christmas!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Mickey's Christmas Carol

Day Twenty Four
Mickey's Christmas Carol

Disney's Mickey's Christmas Carol (Little Golden Book)

 We all know the story of Dicken's Christmas Carol. This is Mickey Mouse's version. I love Mickey Mouse!

Mickey is Bob Cratchit, Minnie is Mrs. Cratchit, Scrooge McDuck is Mr. Scrooge and Goofy is Marley.

 Poor Bob Cratchit! Scrooge worked him so hard, even on Christmas Eve. But when Mickey was glad to go home and be with his family, Scrooge stayed late in the office to count his money.

At home, Scrooge sank into his favorite chair. He was just dozing off when - CLANK! CLANK! CLANK!

He was visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Scrooge became a new man when he woke up on Christmas.
"It's Christmas morning!" he cried as he rushed outside.

He gave to the poor, he visited his nephew for dinner and he visited Bob Cratchit and his family.
And, in the end. . . Tiny Tim hugs Scrooge and says, "And God bless us every one!"

From all of us here at the Blackberry Patch, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

The First Christmas

Day Twenty Three
The First Christmas - A Christmas Pop-up

This is a beautifully illustrated book that tells of the birth of Jesus, the shepherds and the wise men.

I love pop-up books! There are five pop-up pages in this one, each one bright and cheerful!

And now every Christmas, we sing like the angels, give gifts like the wise men, and celebrate the good news. 

This is my next to last post about Christmas Picture Books.
Come back tomorrow for one more!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Polly's Christmas Present

Day Twenty Two
Polly's Christmas Present
Stories and pictures by Irma Wilde

Polly's Christmas Present (The Christmas Puppy) 

This one is an oldie! In fact, it is older than I am.

Santa had a problem. He had just made ten little toy dogs, and ten children wanted ten little toy dogs.
But, he just received a letter from a little girl named Polly and she wanted a toy dog, too. It was Christmas Eve and Santa didn't have time to make another one. Oh dear, oh dear me!

Santa felt very sad as he put on his warm coat. He had never disappointed anyone before. He looked at his dog, Jingle, and came up with an idea. He would give Polly one of Jingle's little puppies

The little puppy he picked gave a tiny bark and wagged his little tail. Off into the sky went Santa Claus and his reindeer and the little puppy!

On Christmas morning, Polly found the little dog in her stocking!
"Oh," cried Polly. "Why, you're a real live puppy dog! You're warm and cuddly and I love you!"

She named him Inky.

This is a really cute story and you can still find copies of it on Amazon and Ebay. But, I am sure I found mine at either a yard sale or thrift store. I grab up old books whenever I can find them.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Big Bird Meets Santa Claus

Day Twenty One
Big Bird Meets Santa Claus
by Liza Alexander
Illustrated by Tom Brannon

Big Bird Meets Santa Claus (Little Golden Books) 

I have another Big Bird Christmas Picture Book to tell you about!

In this book, Big Bird imagines going to the North Pole and meeting Santa.
He imagines Santa's workshop. It is downstairs, way below the ground.
He watches the elves as they make the toys. And in the wrapping room, he sees the most beautiful trash. Oscar would love it.
After a while, he gets homesick and wants to go back home to Sesame Street.
How does he get there?
Why he rides with Santa in his sleigh, of course.

Do you have a favorite Christmas Picture Book?
Feel free to tell  us about it in your comments.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Nutcracker

Day Twenty
The Nutcracker
retold by Rita Balducci
Illustrated by Barbara Lanza

The Nutcracker (Little Golden Book 460-15) 

I have a confession. I had never read The Nutcracker until today. And . . . I have never seen The Nutcracker ballet. Anyone else?

The illustrations in this book are beautiful!

This is a story about a little girl named Clara and her adventurous Christmas Eve. Her godfather, Herr Drosselmeyer gave her a large wooden nutcracker for Christmas. But her little brother, Fritz, grabbed it and ran away. He dropped it and the nutcracker broke. She was heartbroken.

She fell asleep hugging it. When she awoke, the nutcracker had turned into a handsome prince. She saved him from large mice and he took her to the Land of Sweets.
The people there performed beautiful dances for Clara and the prince.
There was a Sugar Plum Fairy, a Dew Drop Fairy and Clara's favorite, Mother Ginger.

They left in a sleigh drawn by two reindeer. But he promised they would come back to the Land of Sweets on Christmas Eve every year.

I am so glad I finally read this book. If you haven't, maybe you can read it too, and enjoy the dances in the Land of Sweets.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Christmas Goodnight

Day Nineteen
A Christmas Goodnight
By Nola Buck
Illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright


This is the newest book to my collection of Christmas Picture Books. I received it from the illustrator, Sarah Jane Wright. And, I must say it is a beautifully illustrated book!
You can go here to see her blog.  There is a fascinating post here about the process of illustrating this book.

Goodnight is said to everyone in the nativity from the baby, the sleepy mother and Joseph, all the way down to the smallest sparrow.

Then the little boy looks outside at the cold, cold night and says goodnight to the things outside.

He gets so sleepy, he falls asleep and tomorrow is Christmas day!

The little ones will love this sweet book with the poetic words and beautiful illustrations.

Hope you are enjoying my posts about Christmas Picture Books.
Less than one week until Christmas!
If you have not finished shopping yet, a book would be a great present for a child.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I Can't Wait Until Christmas

Day Eighteen
I Can't Wait Until Christmas
by Linda Lee Maifair
Illustrated by Joe Ewers

I Can't Wait Until Christmas (Little Golden Book) 

Okay, I just love this book! Do you have any children having a hard time waiting until Christmas. Read to them this book, they will love it, too.

Big Bird is so anxious for Christmas, he's already asking Granny Bird how long until Christmas and he has just finished Thanksgiving dinner.

Each week he calls and asks her "how long?" Each week Granny Bird gives him something to do to help pass the time away.

The first week he made a surprise gift for Granny Bird.
The second week he made cards for everyone and visited Santa and sat on his lap.
The third week he and his friends picked out a Christmas tree and decorated it.
The fourth week Big Bird and Cookie monster made Christmas cookies.

Finally, the big day arrived and Granny Bird came to see Big Bird for Christmas.
They opened their presents and Big Bird said, "This has been the best Christmas ever."
"Next year we can do it all over again," said Granny.
"Next year? A whole year until Christmas!" said Big Bird. "I can't wait!"

As I said, this is a wonderful book to read to your kids or grandkids. Hope you enjoyed your little sneak peek at it.

Posted by Janet F. Smart at Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.



Monday, December 17, 2012

"Ho, Ho, Ho! Ho, Ho, Ho!" (a contest)

I am adding another post today, in addition to my Christmas Picture Book a Day postings, in order to enter my entry to Susanna Leonard Hill's 2nd Annual Holiday Contest!
We have to write a Christmas story (limit 350 words). Mine is 220 words.

Go over to her site and check out all the entries and the rules. She's offering great prizes to the winners.
Hope you like mine.

Sing this to the tune of Jingle Bells!

"Ho, Ho, Ho! Ho, Ho, Ho!"

Trudging up the hill,
Through the cold and snow
I hear a loud voice yell,
"ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!"

What is that I hear?
Could it be St.  Nick?
I look up in the sky
Quick, quick, quick, quick, quick!

"Ho, ho, ho! Ho, ho, ho!
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!"
I see Santa in his sleigh
Flying through the snow.

He swerves and he sways
Through the snowy skies
Up and up he goes
Right before my eyes.

Rudolph guides the way
With a nose so bright
They soar through the sky
In the snowy night.

"Ho, ho, ho! Ho, ho, ho!
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!"
I see Santa in his sleigh
Flying through the snow.

I must hurry home
And beat dear ol' St. Nick.
I must jump in bed
Quick, quick, quick, quick, quick!

My feet trudge up and down
Through the frosty snow
My house is just ahead
As Santa shouts, “whoa!”

"Ho, ho, ho! Ho, ho, ho!
Ho, ho, ho, ho, ho!"
I see Santa in his sleigh
Flying through the snow.

I slip on the ice
Through the door I scoot
Hanging in the chimney
I see Santa’s boot.

I jump in my bed
And close my eyes tight
Merry Christmas to all
And to all a good night!

 I had fun writing this, hope you had fun reading it.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

The Cat That Climbed the Christmas Tree

Day Seventeen
The Cat That Climbed the Christmas Tree
by Susanne Santoro Whayne
Illustrated by Christopher Santoro

It was Benny the cat's first Christmas. He was fascinated with the Christmas tree.

"Now, Benny, behave yourself!" Emily laughed and swooped him away. "Christmas trees are not for cats!"

Well, I bet you can guess what Benny, the cat did. Yep! He climbed the tree.

Up Benny climbed, past silver flutes and tiny drums, miniature skaters, old-fashioned clothespin ladies and a velvet mouse in a red stocking. But he wanted to get to the tip top where the angel was, so up and up he climbed.

Cats like to climb up, but they don't like to climb down, so he was in a predicament. But the angel helped him and he landed on the carpet.

"That was the best climb ever," he purred as he stretched and headed for his basket.

A tidbit of info about the writer and illustrator - they are brother and sister.

Any of you ever have a cat climb your Christmas tree? I hope not.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Christmas Donkey

Day Sixteen
The Christmas Donkey
by T. William Taylor
Illustrated by Andrea Brooks

The Christmas Donkey (A Little Golden Book) 

This beautifully illustrated book is about the donkey that carried Mary to Bethlehem.

He belonged to a Hebrew farmer who lived in Egypt. The farmer loved all his animals, but he loved this small, shaggy donkey best. He called him Madrikh, which means 'pathfinder.'

A  gruff man, named Rorka came to the farm one day buying animals. The farmer didn't want to sell Madrikh, so he asked a very high price for him. To his dismay, Rorka paid in full.

Rorka did not treat him well. When he was in Nazareth, a carpenter saw how he mistreated the donkey and asked to buy him from Rorka.

The carpenter took him home to show his wife. They took care of him. In a few weeks he was fat and happy and healthy again.

They had to journey to Bethlehem to pay taxes. The journey was long and when they reached Bethlehem, there was no place to stay. But, one innkeeper took pity on them.

Later that night, Madrikh woke up to see Mary holding a new baby boy. People came to visit the baby, but one night Joseph awoke suddenly and told Mary they had to flee. They hurried along the road out of Bethlehem. They didn't know which way to go, but Madrikh knew the way and took them to safety.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pooh - The Sweetest Christmas

Day Fifteen
Pooh - The Sweetest Christmas
by Ann Braybrooks
Illustrated by Josie Yee

Another Pooh Bear Picture Book! I love Pooh Bear.

One Christmas Eve,  Pooh stood at the window, staring out at the falling snow.
"Oh, brother!" he muttered. "Now I can't go outside to find presents for my friends."

He searched his house for something to give to his friends.
But he had eight friends and he couldn't find eight of anything. That is, until he opened his cabinet and found eight pots of honey.

Pooh thought and thought. Finally he declared, "I do want to give my friends something wonderful. So honey it must be."

He loaded the pots of honey onto his sled and headed for his friends' houses.
They each gave him a present in return.

On the way he ran into Christopher Robin. "I'm delivering Christmas presents to my friends," Pooh told him, "but I had to use up all of my honey."

Christopher Robin had an idea. When Pooh was making his last delivery, Christopher Robin hurried in with a large box.

Pooh's surprise grew as he unwrapped one pot of honey after another.

"Merry Christmas, Pooh!" said Christopher Robin. "You've been such a generous bear, such a kind bear, that you deserve pots and pots of honey!"

This story teaches us that giving is the generous thing to do, even if you want to keep the gifts for yourself.

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Mice!

Day Fourteen
Christmas Mice!
by Bethany Roberts
Illustrated by Doug Cushman


Christmas mice deck the house, trim the tree and bake yummy goodies!

They go outside and sing.
Yikes! Paw prints in the snow. The cat!

They go back inside and find a gift.
"From Cat to Mice."

The cat has caught our Christmas cheer!
They wrap cat a gift and tie it with a big red bow

Merry Christmas - "ho, ho, ho!"

This is a sweet story and the illustrations are so cute.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Christmas Cub

Day Thirteen
The Christmas Cub
by Justine Korman Fontes
Illustrated by Lucinda McQueen

Schol Rdr Lvl 2: The Christmas Cub (Enriched EBK) 

This is the book I read today. 

It is about a curious little cub named Pip who climbed out of his den during the winter to see what he was missing!

He had quite an adventure. He met up with a fir tree named Evergreen. 
He saw people for the first time. They were celebrating Christmas.
He saw the decorations, heard the singing and ate the cookies!
Evergreen and Pip shared presents and got to feel Christmas happy.

Pip turned out to be a most beautiful tree and when Santa appeared, he said, "I believe you are a Christmas tree."

From  then on, all evergreens have been Christmas trees - and cuddly teddy bears have been Santa's favorite gift to give.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Annabelle's Wish

Day Twelve
Annabelle's Wish
adapted by Susan Korman
Illustrated by Alan Nowell & Assoc

Annabelle, a calf, was born on a Christmas Eve. Santa arrived that night and gave the animals the gift of speech. Annabelle was enchanted by the reindeer and decided one day she wanted to fly, too.

Billy lived on the farm with his grandpa. A fire had scared Billy a few years ago and he hadn't spoken a word since. He and Annabelle were great friends. In fact, Annabelle loved him so much that when she was older she gave up her gift of speech on Christmas Eve to Billy, so he could talk.

Annabelle never spoke again, but read the book to see if she ever flew.

Have you ever read Annabell's Wish?

We are temporarily without internet, so my postings might be interrupted until we get back on. I think it has something to do with the gas pipeline explosion that was in Sissonville yesterday. Hope it fixes itself soon. 

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas

Day Eleven
The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas
By Justine Korman
Illustrations by Jean Chandler


Don't you just love Poky Little Puppy? 

This is a book about his first Christmas with his siblings, Polly, Penny, Pickles and Pat.

As usual, he is poky when the family goes out to chop down a Christmas tree. 

Poor Poky tumble-stumbled, slipped, and slid down a deep, dark hole! "Help! Help!" he cried. Wouldn't someone come to help him out of the slippery, slidy hole? 

A skunk named Herman helps him and they have an adventurous day. On the way home, he finds an old red boot, but his mother won't let him take the dirty boot into the house.
The family and puppies prepare for Christmas and then go to bed. On Christmas morning they raced to the tree to find their presents. Poky finds the old red boot, all clean and shiny!
When playing outside, he finds his friend, Herman. Herman doesn't have anywhere to sleep, since his log home was destroyed by the falling fir tree. He sleeps with Poky in the doghouse that night. The next morning, Poky rises before anyone else and runs to the edge of the woods.

Poky saw his family and called, "Come and look! Look at Herman's new home!"
"Why, it's your boot!" Poky's mother exclaimed.

Poky learned that the best gifts are the ones you give.

A wonderful, cute story to read to your children or grandchildren.

I just won a Christmas picture book titled, A Christmas Goodnight, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright. It will be signed by Sarah. I will blog about this book after I receive it. I am so excited!

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Story

Day Ten
The Christmas Story
by Jane Werner
Pictures by Eloise Wilkin


This is another story illustrated by Eloise Wilkin.

This book tells the Christmas story, the reason for the season. It starts with Mary, a girl of Galilee. 
She lived long years ago,  but such a wonderful thing happened to her that we remember and love her still.

It tells of their trip to Bethlehem and their trouble finding a place to stay.
It tells of the angels and the country shepherds in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
It tells of the three wise men.

The child was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was born. And the child grew and became strong in spirit and full of wisdom. And the grace of God was upon him.

Have you been reading any books about Christmas this month?

 Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Baby's Christmas

Day Nine
Baby's Christmas
by Esther Wilkin
Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin

I have to admit, my favorite thing about this book is the illustrations! This book was first printed in 1959 and it shows through the illustrations. The little baby is adorable!

What did Santa leave for Baby?
Let's go in and see.

Baby has a Christmas tree decorated with gingerbread boys, candy canes, twinkly lights and colored balls. Santa left lots of  toys for Baby under the tree . . . teddy bear, a dog with floppy ears, a rocking horse, a rubber duck  and  a milk truck.  Plus lots more!

But,  best of all Santa left a toy box! And that's where Baby puts the toys,  at the end of every day!

I did a little research about Eloise and Esther Wilkins. They were sisters and worked on over 20 books together. In 1944, Eloise signed an exclusive contract with the original Little Golden Books publisher Simon and Schuster which required her to illustrate three books each year. It is her work for Golden Books that she is best known. She often used her children, grandchildren and their friends as models. She is one of the most collectible Golden Book illustrators. . . and I can see why.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Biggest, Most Beautiful Christmas Tree

Day Eight
The Biggest, Most Beautiful Christmas Tree
Story and pictures by Amye Rosenberg
Copyright 1985

Nestled deep in a thick forest there was a great fir tree. Mr. and Mrs. Fieldmouse, Old Gray Acorn, the squirrel, and the Chipmunk family-Mom, Dad, Little Nina and Nutley lived snug inside the tree.

 Life in the fir tree was happy all year round, except at Christmas time. The animals were sad because Santa never came.

This year the children were sadder than ever, so Mom and Dad Chipmunk invited their favorite aunt, Mim. She arrived with a big sack and a big smile, but the children were not cheerful.

"Why are you so glum?"
Little Nina sadly explained. "Every year we bake cookies," she said. "We hang our stockings. We wait for Santa. But he never comes." 
"We think he doesn't like us," sniffled Nutley.
"Nonsense!" declared Aunt Mim, who was very wise. "He probably doesn't even know you are here, tucked away in this huge tree.

So,  what did they do? Aunt Mim emptied her big bag that was full of red ribbon, gold foil, balloons, berries and bells that jingled. They decorated the tree and Dad's gold star was placed on top.  

It glowed in the moonlight.
"Santa will surely find you now!" Aunt Mim said with a laugh.

And he did. 
Thanks to her.  Santa would always find the animal's tiny homes in the biggest, most beautiful Christmas tree in the world.

This is a sweet story with beautiful illustrations. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into it.

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Friday, December 7, 2012

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad

Day Seven
Merry Christmas Mom and Dad
by Mercer Mayer

I love Mercer Mayer books! I promise this one will bring a smile to your face.

Each beautifully illustrated page adds so much to the story. Here are a few excerpts:

I wanted to decorate some Christmas cookies just for you, but I couldn't stop tasting them.

I wanted to carry the Christmas balls just for you, but the box was upside down.

On Christmas Eve I tried to go right to sleep just for you, but I was too excited.

I didn't want to make you get up too early on Christmas I brought my toys upstairs to show you.

Have fun reading this one to your child. Picture Books aren't just for kids.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Tom and Jerry's Merry Christmas

Day Six
Tom and Jerry's Merry Christmas
Copyright 1954
Ninth Printing, 1973

This starts out the way all Tom  and Jerry escapades start, they are trying to outsmart each other.
Jerry wanted to get some goodies from the kitchen and the Christmas tree for Christmas morning.
But, Tom was standing guard outside the mousehole. Jerry had his little friend, Tuffy, create a distraction while he filled a pillowcase with candy, nuts and stuffed dates. Crash-splash! Jerry knocked a bowl filled with cranberry sauce to the floor. Tom came running, but Jerry escaped into the mousehole with his goodies.
During the night, Tuffy tiptoed to the Christmas tree and got a little drum for Jerry. Then, Jerry tiptoed out and got a little horn from the tree for Tuffy.

Before he returned to his mousehole, he saw Tom sneak and shove a beautiful mouse-sized tree, all trimmed with bits of popcorn and tasty cheese, and tiny candy beads, into the mousehole. He heard Tom murmur, "oh well, Christmas comes but once a year - "

Later, Jerry tied a red ribbon around a can of sardines and propped it against Tom's bowl, it made a most wonderful present!

The book ends with Tom Cat, Jerry and Tuffy grinning from ear to ear, playing and singing in harmony:
"A very merry Christmas to ALL!"

The story tells us all that if Tom and Jerry can be friends, anyone can.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Animals' Christmas Eve

Day Five
The Animals' Christmas Eve
by Gale Wiersum
Illustrated by Jim Robison

This is a cute rhyming book about the animals in the barn on Christmas Eve.

And. . . it is a counting book, which I didn't notice right away when I read it.

The animals, in voices low,
Remember Christmas long ago.

The book starts with . . .
One small  hen, upon her nest,
Softly clucks to all the rest:


Five gray donkeys speak with pride,
Remembering one who gave a ride:


Twelve chimes ring out from far away -
the lovely bells of Christmas Day.
And every beast bows  low its head
For one small  babe in a manger bed.

It is a sweet story about animals and the birth of Jesus long ago.
Have you ever heard about the miracle of the barn animals speaking at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve?

I hope you are enjoying my posts about Christmas picture books! 

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pooh The Merry Christmas Mystery

Day Four

Pooh the Merry Christmas Mystery
by Betty Birney
Illustrated by Nancy Stevenson
copyright MCMXCVII

When Pooh went to sleep the night before Christmas, he was so excited. When he finally drifted off, Pooh dreamed of all the wonderful honey treats he was sure that Santa would bring him.

But, the next morning Pooh found thistles in his stocking! Thistles made Pooh sneeze. "A smackerel of honey will cure my sneezing," Pooh decided.  But he had no honey!

All his friends in the Hundred-Acre forest received puzzling presents that morning from Santa.
Piglet received a very large furry coat
Eeyore received a rake with a big red bow on it
Rabbit received a tiny pair of earmuffs
Tigger received a Tiggerific jar of honey
Roo received a jar of crunchy cookies made from birdseed and
Owl received a small pair of mittens

What a mystery! How could Santa make such mistakes?
All's well that ends well, though. Owl figured out the mystery and the friends swapped their gifts!
"Yes, it's nice to have a mystery for Christmas," Pooh explained. "As long as there's honey to go with it."
Christopher Robin chuckled and said, "Silly old bear."
Then he bent down and gave Pooh a special Christmas hug.

I hope you enjoyed today's post. Do you like Pooh Bear?

Go over to Rena Jones' blog and look at her collection of Little Golden Christmas Picture Books. She loves them as much as I do.

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Littlest Christmas Elf

Day Three
The Littlest Christmas Elf
by Nancy Buss
Illustrated by Terri Super
copyright 1987

I loved this one! 

Read this book and find out about a merry elf that was being sent to the North Pole to join Santa's workshop. His name was Allister. But, when he arrived he didn't feel special at all. He was the littlest elf. He was so tiny that the head elf couldn't find a job for him.

He was too small to hammer.
He tried to paint a dollhouse, but couldn't reach the roof.
He tried to stuff bears, but that didn't work either. "He's buried beneath them!" said the elf in charge of bears.
He couldn't sweep, the broom was too big for him.

The other elves made fun of him and Allister blinked his eyes quickly so he wouldn't cry.
Allister ran away and hid - down by the woodpile, in back of the reindeer pen. There he found a friend, an old elf named Nicholas. He helped him feed the reindeer.
He was so happy. He fed the reindeer apples, he polished harness bells, he told Nicholas stories and they sang.
But one morning Nicholas was gone. Allister was told he had went to the 'big house.'
Allister couldn't sleep. He was worried about Nicholas and he missed him so much. He decided to go see Nicholas at the big house. The closer he got, the louder his heart beat. The door opened and he dived beneath a pine tree. 
Someone jiggled his foot.
He peeked. . . IT WAS NICHOLAS!
He gave his friend a hug and his friend hoisted him to his shoulders and walked toward the house.
"No, no!" Allister cried."I can't go in there. Put me down!"
He was afraid Santa wouldn't like him because he was little and couldn't do anything right. He thought Santa would send him home.
Nicholas told him that was nonsense and that he had a special job for him.
Well, I figure you've guessed it my now, the old elf was Santa.
Allister got to keep Santa company on his sleigh on Christmas Eve and it was the best Christmas Eve ever!

Did you like my synopsis of The Littlest Christmas Elf? I was never very good at writing a synopsis, I am sure you would like the entire story much better. I love the illustrations, the illustrator did a wonderful job. Maybe you have this in your stash of books. If so, get it out and read it. I bet you will love it too. You do not have to be a child to enjoy picture books.

Remember, if you want to post about one on your blog, let me know and I'll link to you on my post.

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Donald Duck's Christmas Tree

Day Two!
 Donald Duck's Christmas Tree!

If Donald is in it, it has to be fun. Don't you agree. I love Donald Duck!

It is the day before Christmas and it is time to get the Christmas tree. Donald puts on his coat and cap and mittens. Off he goes with Pluto to find their tree.

Little do they know that Chip and Dale are in their tree. When they put the tree up inside the house, Chip and Dale are up to mischief and Pluto gets blamed for it. Chip and Dale hide when Donald shows up and Poor Pluto can  not explain. That is until Donald finds out who the real mischief-makers are.

Instead of kicking Chip and Dale out into the snow and cold, Donald says, "Oh,  Pluto!" cried Donald. "It's Christmas Eve. We must be kind to everyone, even pesky chipmunks. The spirit of Christmas is love, you know."

My book is dated 1991, but the original date of this book is 1954.

Hope you enjoyed Day two of A Christmas Picture Book a Day until December 24th!

Posted by Janet F.  Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


This is my first day of posting about Christmas Picture Books.

Noel is about a Christmas ornament filled with Happiness.

On the day that he was made, the glassblower's tear of happiness fell with a tinkling sound inside.

He lived through many Christmas seasons hanging on the Christmas tree. But as the years passed, the children-things grew up and the Mother-and Father-things grew old. And one day the Father-thing said, "Aw, let's not bother with a tree this year."

But nothing is truly over when one has a Happiness. And so one happy day, years later...a new family moved in.

But Noel had grown weak. His once-sturdy hook could no longer support him...Noel fell to the floor and was smashed.

But then a Miracle happened. His body was gone, but his Happiness was released. Little Noel had become the pure joy of Christmas.

I hope you enjoyed my first day of Christmas Picture Books.

Come back tomorrow for day two!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Picture Books

November is coming to an end. I reached the goal of coming up with 30 picture book ideas! Yeah!

Starting Saturday, December 1st, I am going to be reading a Christmas picture book each day until December 24th.

I love Christmas picture books!

I looked around and found these at the house. I have enough to read one each day!

My only problem is figuring out which one to read first.

Come back Saturday and find out. I will be posting each day about the one I read.
Visit me and enjoy a Christmas picture book each day.
It will be fun!

If you want to post about one, too, let me know the day before you post about it and I will  put a link to your blog on my post that day. Just send me the link to your post.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wishbones, Food and Helping Hands

Here is wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow.
I have so much to be thankful for and I am sure you do, too.
I have posted below my Two-Lane Livin' November column for kids. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to share it with your kids or grand kids.

What do you get when you cross a turkey with a banjo?
A turkey that can pluck himself!

Did you know that making a wish on a wishbone might date back to 320 B.C.?” However, the Etruscans, who supposedly started the practice, did not break the wishbone; they merely rubbed it to make their wishes come true.
Every turkey has a wishbone. Pulling a wishbone takes two people. Each person makes a wish, takes hold of one end of the wishbone and pulls. They say if you get the longest end, your wish comes true. This is also the origin of the expression “lucky break.”
The only foods mentioned in records of the 1621 Thanksgiving feast were venison and fowl. However, other items the settlers would have probably had were lobster and cod, pumpkins, turnips, peas, onions, squash, beans, nuts, plums, grapes, spices and seasonings. They never had pies, because they lacked sugar needed to make them. The Thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days.
You can be a part of the Thanksgiving dinner at your house by helping with the menu and the grocery list. You can also make a pretty decoration or place cards for your table. You can wash fruits and vegetables, mix the pie ingredients, mash the potatoes, help stir the stuffing, add marshmallows to the sweet potatoes, roll out the pie crusts or prepare a special treat. Food tastes better if you help make it.
You can help set the table and then help clean up after the meal. After this is done, bring out the dessert!


© Janet F. Smart
Five plump turkeys
Strutted down the road
One flew away
Then there were four.

Four plump turkeys
Strutted down the road
One stopped to eat
Then there were three.

Three plump turkeys
Strutted down the road
One lost his way
Then there were two.

Two plump turkeys
Strutted down the road
One stopped to rest
Then there was one.

One plump turkey
Strutted down the road
Gobble, gobble, chomp
Then there was none.

Are you serving this poor little plump turkey for dinner tomorrow?
Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Posted by Janet F. Smart at Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, November 12, 2012

PiBoIdMo Update and Story Starter

It is almost the middle of the month. Already! Can you believe it?

Time flies when you're having fun. Right?

I was behind on my picture book ideas, until this morning when I woke up with four new ideas. Now on November 12th, I have 13 picture book ideas!
Whew, I am caught up and one day ahead of the game.

How are you doing this month?

Just a reminder, be sure to keep popping in over at Tara's blog and read her posts. They give you inspiration and great ideas. And remember, to be eligible for some of the prizes, you have to comment on the posts.

I know, I know some people don't like to comment. But just like with writing, you have to put forth effort to get the results you want.

This month we are only having to come up with titles or ideas for future picture books.
But if anything is to come of our ideas, we will later have to put forth a little effort and polish those ideas into magnificent manuscripts.

What do the four crows have to do with this post? They are a story starter.

Can anyone come up with a story idea using the crows as an inspiration?

How about - a non fiction book about farm animals or Four Hungry Crows, which one will get up the courage to face the scarecrow and get supper for the family.

You know I think I just might use that last idea and add it to my list for November. Now I have 14 ideas. See, you never know when an idea will swoop down and land on your shoulder. Always be ready to grab hold of them and write them down before they fly away.

Any ideas to share? Comment and share your ideas or just give a little inspiration to fellow writers.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


We all need a little encouragement now and then.
Writing can sometimes be lonely.
We write and write and then sometimes we think about quitting.
You think and think and then you always write again.
It is in your blood.

I entered a local contest put on by our library.
The instructions said to enter your best Appalachian story,  memoir or poem.
They called me this week and said I was one of the winners.
The reception was Saturday and I found out I got first place in the adult division.

What did I get?
Along with a prize package consisting of three books and a gift card, I got the most important thing of all . . . I got encouragement.

The judge wrote at the end of my entry . . .

Lovely story, beautifully told. Keep writing!

I think I will keep writing. How about you?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day Two - PiBoIdMo 2012

It is day two of Picture Book Idea Month!

Do I have two ideas yet?

Yes. I came up with one idea last night and three today! Yah!

How do you come up with ideas?

Be aware of everything around you. Don't let anything pass by unnoticed.
Watch television. Watch the channels geared towards kids and watch channels such as Discover, History and National Geographic. Take a walk, go to the park or playground, go into the woods.

Make a list of the different kinds of picture books, such as . . .
board books
lift the flap books, novelty books
counting books, abc books, books about colors, books about shapes
animal books
bedtime books
biography picture books for older children
non-fiction picture books (they say these are sometimes easier to sell)
fairy tales
folk tales

What interests you? What are you familiar with? What do you want to know more about?

Ask what if?

Do you think everything has been written about?

Yes I think everything has been written about, so you have to put a new spin on a old topic and make it unique.

Anyone have any ideas to share?

Good luck!

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Treasure in Books

I like quotes!

This is a good one!

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on Treasure Island....Walt Disney

What book are you currently reading . . . or writing?

I just finished Shades of Truth, a MG by Naomi Kinsman.

Now, I have until Wednesday to finish my column for Two-Lane Livin'.
I have titled it, Celebrate an Old-Fashioned Christmas.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

PiBoIdMo 2012!

Okay, who wants to join in on the fun?

Go to Tara Lazar's site and sign in before November 4th! and take the pledge.
See the cute little link on the top right side of my blog?
Don't you think Ward Jenkins did a great job on their logo?

I did this last year and was able to come up with 30 ideas in 30 days.

Those who register and take the pledge will be eligible for great prizes, such as:

Feedback from literary agents
Original sketches by picture book illustrators
Picture Book critiques from published authors
Signed picture books
Other cool stuff

Over at Tara's site there will be blog posts EVERY DAY  by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals to help inspire us to success at completing the challenge.

So join in on the fun!
If you are a writer, I hope you get inspired and join one of the special events taking place in November.

Novelists have NaNoWriMo
Picture Book Writers have PiBoIdMo!

Want to give it a try? Click on the logo and sign up. Who knows you might come up with a winning idea that turns into a spectacular picture book!

Leave a comment and wish me luck and I'll send good luck wishes right back at you.

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn't we?  ~Terri Guillemets

How about you? Do you have any words of wisdom to share with my blogging friends?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I've been nominated by Deb over at the Bumpy Road to Writing to participate in this WIP Blog Hop.

Rule number one: Answer all ten questions about you work - in - progress. Rule number two: Nominate five other writer friends who you know that have blogs or websites so they can join in the fun!

Okay, I am not known for following rules. I hate telling people what to do :o)

But, if you read this post and would like to do this little self-interview on your blog, then, I invite you, I would love for you to do this. 
Let me know, and I will link to your site

What is the title of your work - in - progress?
Presently, it is called Duck and Cover, but that may change.

Where did the idea for your book come from?  
I have no idea, it just came to me one day out of the blue. But it does take place in a time period when I was very young. I have this habit of writing stories that take place during the early or mid sixties.

What genre does your book fall under?
Middle Grade

What actors would you choose to play the characters in the movie rendition?
Oh my, I have no idea. I don't know that many child actors. I think a 12 year old Ronnie Howard would have been a good choice for one of the boy characters. But, (sigh), like us he is no longer 12 years old.

What is the synopsis of your book in one sentence?
A young boy, who has always been a loner, finds friends during the scarey fall of 1962.

What other book would you compare this work - in - progress to in your genre?
Sorry, I don't have an answer to this question.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I believe I finished it in a couple of months.

  Will this book be self - published or represented by an agency?
I hope to have it published the regular way.

  What inspired you to write this book?
All of my stories just come to me. Out of the sky, inspiration hits.

  What else about your book might pique your readers interest?
If you like historical fiction, grew up in the 1960s or like MG, I think you will like it. My main characters are three boys and a girl, so I think boys will be interested in the story.
Do you have a WIP? What genre does it fit in?  I'd love to hear about it in your comments.

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Finds

I have come across some neat books lately at the local thrift store and yard sales. . . and my mailbox!

My house is beginning to look  like a  library, without the shelves. I need shelves! Lots of them. The floor is getting a  little  crowded.

I got a package in the mail a few days ago. Wow! Four MG books written by Naomi Kinsman.
I think I am going to be reading for a while.

I like a quote of hers I found on her blog:
Dip your hands into life, scoop up memories, dreams, questions and ideas and weave them into stories - Naomi Kinsman

That is what I try to do with my writing.

 I found these poetry books at our local thrift store. 25 cents each. You can't hardly beat that price

 Here is a neat Curious George Book. This counting book doesn't just go up to 10, but to 100!

And last, but not least, a book by West Virginian, Gretchen Moran Laskas. 
I had been wanting to read this book.

I am anxious to get started! 
Decisions, decisions.
Which one do you think you would read first?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writing Picture Books

First off, a Big Happy Birthday to Rate Your Story! They are a great site for writers. They give out free critiques and this month they are celebrating and giving away weekly prizes. If you write for children, check them out. You won't be sorry.

Now, on to my post.
This is a test!

Writing a picture book is easy.   True or False
Writing a picture book can be done in a day. True or False
Anyone can write a picture book.  True or False

Okay, how did you answer?
Here are my answers:
I answer a definite False on the first question.
Writing a good picture book is just as hard as writing a good novel.

On the second question, I say True . . . but only the first draft.
But, your first draft is a long ways from being a finished manuscript.

On the third question, I say True. . . but not everyone can write a good picture book.

I have quite a few picture book manuscripts that I have written over the past few years.
I recently started working on one of them again. I thought this is a 'nice' bedtime story with counting thrown in to make it more interesting. But, it needed something else, I wasn't satisfied with it.

It needs to be a lot more than 'nice' to have a chance at getting published. There are, I am sure, lots of nice picture book manuscripts out there.

Yours has to shine, it has to be different, it has to pop!

I got feedback from critique partners and from a published children's writer.
The published children's writer kept pushing me to make it better and to make it more unique.
She mentioned other published picture books for me to look at and get ideas from.

I did and I changed it a little and I thought to myself, this is better.

She pushed me again and again, she said the ending is not right. I thought to myself, I like the ending, I don't know what else to do.
I thought about it some more, brought a newer version of it to my writing group, got more ideas, made more changes and thought, this is better, I really like this!

But, something was still missing. I still had to do something with the ending.
It came to me. . . the ending now has a twist! A small twist, but a twist.

Since I first wrote this manuscript over two years ago, it has went through three different titles and has been drastically changed. . . and it is much better!

I really, really like it now!

In order to write a good picture book, unless your first draft is fantastic, you can't be satisfied with a nice manuscript. You can't be satisfied with your first edit. You have to edit until it shines.

Keep pushing yourself until it is a great manuscript.

Now who wants to write a picture book?

Posted by Janet F. Smart on Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Believe in Yourself

I saw on Facebook where one of my friends (and cousins) pasted a picture which said. . . .

She Believed
She Could, 
So She Did

I guess you might say this is my motto in writing.
I believe I can do it. If I keep at it long enough, I will succeed.

We have to believe. If we do not believe in ourselves, who will?

We can't be a quitter. Quitters do not succeed.

Lately, I have been working hard on a few of my picture books. I am trying to take them from Okay to . . .
unique -  different -  and hey, that's pretty good.

Our manuscripts have to stand out and say, "Look at me!"

Sometimes writers get impatient and send out their work before it is ready. I know I have did it.

Before self publishing and before sending out to publishers we need to edit, edit and edit again. We need to get other writer's opinions and we need our manuscript to be as polished as it can be.

Believe in yourself and you will succeed.

What advice do you have? Do you believe in yourself? Let us help each other and we will succeed.

Posted by Janet F. Smart at Creative Writing in the Blackberry Patch