Working Title: Margie Surprises Doc
This Book Is In Development
"Virginia has combined entertainment with facts. The skunk kits entertain the reader with their charging games and skunk soccer while teaching us about the development of young skunks. I loved the ending!" —Margie Smith, music educator, Denton, Nebraska
"I loved the addition of Olivia to Doc's yard family! The kits are very entertaining, but where will they go next? I loved the facts, entertainment, and possibilities of future adventures." —Staci Day, elementary educator, Aurora, Colorado
Can an opossum become a member of Doc's yard family?
Olivia the opossum has poor vision and hearing, is a fighter, but has a good heart. Margie the myopic skunk and the rest of Doc's yard family is wary, but willing to get to know the new animal. When Doc's birthday rolls around, his yard family wants to gift him something great! Olivia and her rambunctious group of kits ponders what they want to contribute. What will Olivia gift him?
I was completely stuck! My GLASSES FOR MARGIE readers wanted a sequel and I could not figure out what to do with Doc, his yard family, and particularly the additional four skunks. I kept seeing posting about opossums in the paper and on Facebook. I discovered they are actually very good for the environment and are Nature's vacuum. Why not? I could add this critter to the yard family and see what happens. I also did some more research on kits. How fun to have them try to figure out how to be in the big leagues. Babies of any species try to figure that out. So, I had some fun with it. In this excerpt Margie meets Olivia and the friendship begins--but Olivia is introduced to the skunk special for the first time. Olivia and the yard family led me on another adventure.
What could a polydactyl cat add to the Swinging Tails band? Bongos, of course! Jack moves from Key West to Little Honker’s neighborhood and discovers his love of music can continue when the Tails invite him to join their band. The band gives a paw-some dream performance during the Independence Day celebration and then an unusual flare makes this celebration a day never to be forgotten.
About a year ago this book was launched. I couldn't believe I finally finished it. This story sat uncomfortably in a folder for a long time because I could not figure out what to do. Then I remembered Frontier Days, the free breakfasts, the parades, and concerts, and BINGO. I had a bit of a plan, but needed more. Jack, the polydactyl cat who loved to hang out on our deck and front porch was purrfect! I decided he could play the bongos and needed a hat appropriate for the occasion and another BINGO. I was off and running. After about 10 attempts at a title over the time I worked on this story, I finally and another BINGO. Little Honker's Patriotic Paws was purrfect for the occasion.
It is Craft Fair Season and I am getting ready to set out for a three month journey that I didn't ever think would happen. I discovered in preparation for this journey that I needed to order more copies of Patriotic Paws. What has made this book so popular I asked myself. I think part of it has to do with the idea of inclusion and the fellowship the characters develop as they take their journey to prove to themselves and others that they can follow their dream and prove to all that if you want something bad enough, it can happen. I think I am doing the same thing. Enjoy the short excerpt and think about your own dream and journey to get where you are now or where you want to be.
Those words have always been important to me. I taught World Humanities for several years and differences always came up in discussions. One day a student said, "I get it. In history we figure out why. In literature we figure out the emotional impact." Yes indeed. Different beliefs in different cultures were topics of discussion throughout the year. I always suggested to the students that listening and trying to understand others might bring about more peace. In my own family, I've said, "You might disagree with each other or get angry with each other, but try to understand the positions of each other. Understanding and inclusion can teach us so much. We have more in common with each other than most of us realize. In all of my books, I attempt to show this very thing. It is my hope that young readers will get that. Be kind. Understand.
Loving my characters shows the reader something about me The words I use to describe my characters let the reader know not only what the characters are like and what they value, but it also lets them know what I am like and what I value. My characters, through my words, send the reader on adventures, some of which are educational. Little Honker can't meow but honks. Jack is a polydactyl cat, and Weezie is a myopic skunk. Inclusiveness is important to me and I think the various band members illustrate this. They learn from each other and support each other. Plus, readers will always find a little humor in my stories.I pass my love of humor on to my characters. I love Jack and all he adds to the band. Here Weezie invites him to listen to the Tails and the next thing you discover is that Jack is a little bit famous and can play the bongos! A new band member joins Tails and we have inclusiveness and education.
Sometimes characters give you the purr-fect words to describe them. Jack is based on a real Jack, "a chillin 'dude," who used to hang out on our deck. I just knew I wanted to put him in my story. He's a polydactyl cat and I thought I could provide a little interesting history for my young readers. The six toes help balance and sailors felt the cats brought them luck. My favorite lesson was letting the readers know that Ernest Hemingway had over 50 of them and that President Theordore Roosevelt had one named Slippers. I wanted Jack to be part of the band. He's a cool dude, so I decided he moved to Greenwood from Key West and played the bongos. I wanted him to stand out in the band, so I searched for the purr-fect hat. Gaspar even created several illustrations until I decided the Sombrero. His "chillin" personality lead him, with my help, to step in and help Weezie more than once. I love it when characters help me find the right language to tell my story.
How does ANY author stand out when 70,000 books are published each month? Hard stuff and overwhelming. I've learned some techniques from Barbara Parks, author of the famous Junie b. Jones series, and Bublish that I need to brand my books. What can readers expect from the 7 second look at my cover and the story inside? My covers, thanks to Bublish, are eye-catching colors with a framed illustration that tells a story. Before I send my story to Bublish, I send it to a variety of beta readers. For this book, I asked readers at the elementary school level to the college professor level and a variety of professionals interested in kids and animals. From all ages, I received comments regarding the love of inclusiveness, sticking up for each other, educational, entertaining, humor, fun with words, and learning to work together. It's rewarding for an author to know that readers discover and enjoy the ideas and word choices. Authors hope that their product will stand out amongst the 70,000 books flooding the shelves each month
Like many writers I try to follow a tense scene with something calming or humorous. Usually those scenes seem to come naturally. After over 50 years of living with cats, I understand the dispositions, actions, and reactions when something causes a disruption in their lives. So, I thought about feline looks and behaviors in creating this scene. I also wanted to show the way this behavior can be changed. Weezie was kind to Jack and he returns the favor. I hint at his previous life and cat fights. He wants no part of that now. So, he returns the favor and Weezie is thankful. The mood shifts and the band continues the jam session. Understanding behavior leads to word choice pretty easily. You feel it. Then you can write it.
Setting is a character. It interacts with other characters in a story and determines what others can and cannot do. I actually revisited my Wyoming days as part of the setting in this book. Celebrating Frontier Days was a magical event and included in a little different way in Patriotic Paws. I used many of the events from Frontier Days and put them into the Independence Day celebration. In the latter part of the story, the fireworks display during the July 4th celebration causes the band members to react in various ways. Most are scared and run. Weezie is frozen on stage. We all react differently to settings and each other. Sometimes it takes time to process our reactions and move forward. This is what I added at the end of the story.
Communities of any kind are important. They provide support and encouragement in a variety of ways. In all of my books, I want to show the importance of support within a community. In Glasses for Margie, Doc's yard family is a strong support system and solves a mystery while assisting each other. In Patriotic Paws, both Weezie and Jack are welcomed by the Swinging Tails band. New instruments and new sounds eventually earn them the winning slot in the Independence Day celebration. We learn from each other!
Writing is something I've done for as long as I can remember. Sharing it with others, not a chance for a very long time. That is until Bill Kloefkorn, my favorite college professor, said I should submit my short story to the literary magazine. What? He read it. He liked it enough to want other people to read it. Wow! I couldn't believe it. Maybe I actually had a bit of talent after all. Just as he encouraged me, I made it my mission to encourage my students. Every kid has a story. I continued to write with my students and after I retired, I was able to follow my life-long dream. Always, I remember the faith Bill Kloefkorn had in me. He believed in me. When someone has faith in you, amazing things can be created. In this passage, the Independence Day committee had faith in Little Honker and the Swinging Tails! Amazing things did happen. .
I'm a reader! I've learned to write by reading a variety of genres. Word choices, character development, setting, and figurative language come to life. I not only appreciate each author I read, but it makes me want to increase my writing strengths. Although I currently write children's books, I've learned much about all of these elements from extensive reading. My job as a writer is to figure out if I can develop my skill in this field. Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Zora Neale Hurston, and Shakespeare ( I know this is five and four was the goal, but I had to do it!) all increased my awareness of language and setting and character development. Dickens (character), Twain (humor and significance of setting), Lee (time period and character), Hurston (the beauty of language) and Shakespeare (all of the above). Later in life I discovered Barbara Park with my granddaughter. She captures so many feelings and frustrations of growing up in a humorous way. Little Honker and his band have won the music contest and achieved their dream. Avenues to our dreams are different, but we can all achieve.
Sometimes you need a friend to boost your confidence. In this passage, Weezie is nervous about the recording they are making for the Independence Day contest. She is part of the band, but new things scare her and this is new. Jack is there to give her confidence and that is just what she needs. I look back to the many times in my life when I faced something new and questioned my ability to move forward. I was nervous too. But, with the encouragement from my husband, I developed a "Skunk-a-tude" sort of attitude of my own. Success!
Shakespeare thought his words words should be heard and brought to life by actors. Regardless of the age group, reading out loud to an audience brings the words to life. My high school kids asked to sit in a circle to listen when I read to them. Listening to the words while reading them creates a new understanding. In each book I try to present something new for kids. I hope adults will read the book with a child and discuss some of the unfamiliar information. After reading this book, Margie Smith said, "This book is not only an interesting read, it is also an educational one as well. Using words like myopic for Weezie the skunk who has blurred vision if things are too far away and polydactyl for Jack the six-toed cat, enhances learning in a fun way. It would enlighten the learning or a child reading it alone or provide a great conversation for an adult and child to have while reading it together.
I lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for 12 years. It's the home of the famous Frontier Days. This was not only anticipated for months before the July event, but celebrated in a fashion like I'd never experienced. Free pancake breakfasts, the parades, crafts, midway rides, and rodeo events completely new to me, as well as night shows featuring both Country Western and Rock and Roll entertainers. The hope and anticipation for the next Frontier Days soon became something I embraced along with the rest of Wyoming. Fun for all. Always there was a surprise not anticipated. I looked back at those days and decided I wanted to put that anticipation, fun, and surprise into Patriotic Paws.
This excerpt is about the love of music. I love it when I find out that my books have touched all ages in some way. I recently found out that my sister-in-law's mother-in-law said she loves all of my books and wants to share them. Before I sent this to press, I asked several people of various ages to read my book and make comments. An elementary student wrote "I love Little Honker. I like that he's smart and started his own band. And, he is funny." A retired college professor read the book and said, "I love this! It is lively, entertaining, and engaging. What really draws me are the life lessons that run through the story. they don't dominate like in some children's books, but are subtle and would make a child think." Thanks to all for your support and kind words!
A Giant Ginger Garbula likes globe-trotting, gondola riding, gargoyle searching and gem gathering. They even like to gallivant, gallop, guffaw and guzzle! Read this fun tongue-twister and laugh as a Giant Ginger Garbula shows you colorful places and tries different things.
New book. New ideas. New words. Working from home has given me time to ponder a suggestion given to me by several adults who are familiar with my books because they have read them with their children, grandchildren, or are elementary school teachers. Ideas have been flying through my mind. I've started companion activities with my Little Honker series as well as Glasses for Margie. But, what could I do with my critter book? Color pages? Yes. Create your own critter and story? Yes, I have a brief form kids can use. But, what about learning new words? My goal in all of my books is to teach new words using the content of the story and illustrations. So, I'm working on an activity to do that with my critter books. This is my newest book and has lots of fun G words in it because it is all written in alliteration. The illustrations assist the young readers with understanding new words and I am eager to assist them with learning!
A Whiskered Wogler likes water skiing, washboard-playing, wagon rides, and water polo. They even like wreath-making, woodwind playing, worm digging, and wool weaving. Read along as a Whiskered Wogler tries many things and shows you what they like and don’t like in this story filled with fun and hilarious alliteration!
I love creativity. I love seeing what creativity produces. While I was teaching, I always provided a creative outlet for my students and was thrilled with their finished products that tied to what we were studying. From music to art to videos to written pieces, my students amazed me. My critter books came about because I came up with an idea for my Creative Writing students to invent a critter and tell the story using alliteration. I always did the assignments with my students and when I retired, I expanded the exercise. I'm pleased to say that this exercise has been used in the art room of one of my former students. These elementary school students had fun inventing and the finished products took the form in paper, clay, and a variety of other forms. Today my critter books have entertained readers of all ages.
I'm sitting in a local book store, my creature alphabet books on the table in front of me, a line of buyers waiting for my autograph when a customer says, "When will you have more of these alphabet books? This is a such a fun way to teach kids new words." I have just read excerpts from Schrinkler, Wogler, and Garbula and say, "Thank you so much. That is my goal in writing these books. I am not sure how soon I will have more books in print, but my illustrator and I are currently working on the letter C." "I love the illustrations. The colors are so inviting for young readers and the illustrations really help young readers learn new words," someone in line says. My vision for 2020 is a hope of my creature letter books catching on. Schrinkler has been extremely popular and customers have eagerly asked for more.
"a fun, educational and whimsical book...Virginia K. White did an excellent job of writing a book for the young reader who does not know how to read or who is just learning how." — Readers' Favorite
A Scarlet Striped Schinkler likes swimming, sailing, swinging, and sliding—but they never like seesawing. Read along as a Scarlet Striped Schinkler figures out things they like and dislike with fun-sounding “s” words! The wacky and colorful illustrations will keep kids engaged as they learn new words, alliteration, and that it’s okay to like what they like!
2019 presented me with numerous bumps and roadblocks, most of which came when I wanted to publish Schrinkler. I was proud of my story but getting it to print seemed like an impossible task. But, I always try to figure out a way to make things happen. Nearly two years later, Schrinkler was in print and has been a huge success. Frustration bothers me. When a story does not click like I'd hoped, it drives me a little bit crazy. It seemed like I hit another roadblock time and time again when I started writing Patriotic Paws. This story began several years ago, experienced at least five different titles, ended up in several folders (many drafts) until Jack, the polydactyl cat, appeared on our deck sunning himself in the summer and politely asking for a snack throughout the year. What a cool dude! I decided Jack had to play the bongos and be part of Little Honker's band, and away I went with Jack leading the way. Sharing my stories with young readers, having Glasses for Margie become a finalist in the CAL book contest, and getting my idea for her sequel have been highlights this year. A few bumps along one road can guide you to the right road.
Just a picture. This is the first of a series I have created where all of the text is written in alliteration and all of the pictures help to teach kids new words. This book started out as an exercise I did with my creative writing students and then decided to expand it after I retired. I went through all kinds of hoops to finally see this character in print. Thus far it has been a big success and people want me to do the other letters of the alphabet. Easier said than done. But, it is also lots fun for me as well as for early readers.
"Never give up!" This was a message my parents stressed over and over again while I was growing up. It's hard when things don't go the way you planned or hoped they would. I have never accepted the idea of failing at anything I've tried. My early reading experience was a struggle. I pushed on. Math has always been a challenge. I pushed on. So, when Schrinkler seemed like it was never going to be in print, I would not give up. I was grateful that my parents stressed "find a way to make it happen." One failed illustrator attempt, loss of money, major feeling of discouragement, and then Bingo! I found an amazing illustrator and Schrinkler is not only in print but has increased in popularity in the short time it has been out! I am so grateful for the lesson and encouragement along the way.
Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the leaves changing color and the crisp air. A trip to the beautiful Rocky Mountains to observe the wildlife in their natural habitat fills me with appreciate for nature. It is also a time for me to reflect on the summer. Although this summer was a challenging time for me, I also had some enjoyable times. Probably the highlight was spending time with my husband and grandson in Hawaii. I had not been there since my husband was on R&R while in Vietnam. This time we were able to share the experience with our grandson. Pearl Harbor, a Luau, snorkeling, and shopping for gifts made the experience something we will always remember. So, I welcome fall but embrace fond memories of summer.
Snakes have never been a favorite of mine! I wish I could get over that. Some people like them. But when one of those little fellows decides to help me garden, I let him have the yard and I finish up later. How do you feel about snakes?
When I was growing up, I hated my brown hair. Boring! So, I started trying different colors. Blondes are popular. Let me try that? How about a darker shade of brown? Still kind of drab. I have two red-headed daughters. Let's go for red. It wasn't until I retired and decided to let my hair become its natural color that I stopped coloring. My hair dresser kept telling me to let the color go and embrace my natural gray. So I did and I have had students tell me that they would LOVE to have my color of hair but it costs too much. My response: "It took me a lot of years to get my hair this color!"
What do you need in your life? I need cats. Yes, cats. For over 50 years cats have been an inspiration. I read about cats. I write about cats. Cats have owned me. And, most importantly, cats have entertained, comforted, and inspired me. Check out the feline inspiration on my website to see my cats in action. https://www.virginiakwhite.com. I do talk to my cats all of the time, And, they talk back. They help me write by sitting on my lap, walking across the keyboard, lounging on a needed draft, or do some special feline filing of my papers. They make me laugh and the ideas begin to flow. What inspires you? What do you need in your life? I'd love to hear about it.
As a kid I loved swimming and going to the park to swing and going down the slide. How high could you go? How fast would the slide take you? How deep could you dive? But, one of my favorite activities was playing JAX with Judy Larson inside her screened in porch. We played with a golf ball because it had the best bounce! I can still see her sitting crossed legged and concentrating on getting all of the jax in one bounce. Just the two of us. We caught lighting bugs and put them in a jar, and joined the neighbor kids in hide and seek. Unfortunately I have lost track of her over the years, but we were best buddies from first grade to our senior year. Yearbook, journalism, pep club, and more. She taught me how to deal with death when she lost her dad early in life. Simple times are precious times never to be forgotten.
I thought I would never see this book in print! I used a short version of this in my Creative Writing class to teach the kids about alliteration in a fun way. After retirement, I decided to expand it and find an illustrator. Easier said than done. I was afraid it was dead in the draft room, but I was determined to see if I could see this book in print! Thank you Gaspar for putting life into my Schrinkler and thank you Bublish for guiding me along the way. It is my hope that this book teaches not only alliteration, but new words for beginning readers in a fun way. Never give up! My little Schrinkler will be out soon.
Can a cat really start his own band? Warren the Honking Cat decides to do just that, and Little Honker and the Swinging Tails is born...but not without some surprises.
How many drafts does it take before you are ready to say, "This is it. Let's see this in print." I usually print out each draft and then edit it before I head to the computer for the next round. In addition, I send my stories out to various readers to get feedback. Another set of eyes guides me along the improvement road. Recently I weeded through my paper drafts and decided I didn't really need to keep them all. I had several thick folders for Swinging Tails because this was a difficult "birth" so to speak. What started as a picture book ended up as an early chapter book when the company I was with closed its doors. I needed a new illustrator and new audience. I was feeling my way in a completely new area. It was a struggle, but I was determined to make it work. I sought professional guidance and with that and my perseverance, it paid off. Swinging Tails led my Little Honker series on entertaining adventures.
Every year about this time, we set off to Big Red Country to see a NE football game and spend time with family. The sea of red in Memorial Stadium is amazing and the enthusiasm of the fans is contagious. Regardless of the outcome of the game, the fans remain fans. They love NE. Each year we leave the stadium filled with our own renewal of enthusiasm. We both lived nearly 35 years in Big Red Country and our yearly homecoming now is shared with grandchildren. We look forward to it and embrace all that it gives us. The shot of enthusiasm energizes us until our next return. Fans and family. It doesn't get much better than that. In this excerpt Weezie returns to Little Honker's backyard and asks to be part of the band. The band's enthusiasm energizes Weezie and she is welcomed home.
Bold is something I've had to work on all my life. I admired people who were able to "just do it" and see what happens. My first speech in college, the play I directed, my first teaching job in all five schools, my first job as an English coordinator in two schools all petrified me beyond belief. I would say I'm more determined than bold. When we moved to Cheyenne, WY because my husband took a job working for the governor, I faced a far different culture than I had ever known. I was out of my comfort zone and scared. The students I faced looked nothing like those I faced in NE. Was I really in the Wild West? Yet, I told myself "they are kids. I can do this!" I put on my big girl pants and boldly (for me) faced those students who were waiting to see what this new teacher was like. In five rooms with four preps,we worked together to read, write, and start White Tales, a class creative writing book. End result, I found I could do it then and now. Determination and a shade of boldness led me write and publish Swinging Tails and continue my dream.
Weezie was booted out by Little Honker in Saves the Day. I was booted out in a sense by Tate Publishing when they closed their doors and left me, my two published books and my soon-to-be-published book inside. I owned he text but not the illustrations. Weezie and I did not give up. She returns with a desire and request to join Little Honker and the Swinging Tails band. She can play the milk jog and promises not to stink. I did not give up and returned to publishing with a desire continue writing with the hope of improving my craft. Weezie hopes for improving her sounds on the milk jug in the continued series. Weezie and I are moving on to more adventures.
Tate Publishing closed its doors and I was left out in the cold with the picture book version of this resting warmly inside the building. At least that is what I thought. It was nearly ready for press and the only thing that was mine was the text. Somebody else owned the pictures. I searched for answers. I tried to find a new illustrator. For more than I year my search left me in the cold. This book was inspired by a third grade student and I wanted to see it published. Finally I found a local illustrator and Bublish. Help was on the way! At the suggestion of Kathy Meis, I rewrote the Little Honker book to make it an early reader, Now I was wrapped in a warmth of enthusiasm. I saw this book to publication and rewrote my first two picture books. They were all now early reader books and I had a Little Honker series! Yea. Since the cold shut out, I have created five Little Honker books. The newest one, Little Honker's Patriotic Paws will be launched on Memorial Day. Sometimes a cold shut out is a good thing.
My dad loved polkas and 1940s music. I played the piano and clarinet. I loved everything from Rock and Roll to Classical music. My daughters played the piano, saxophone, and flute and loved the popular 1980s music. Our two Siamese cats sat on the piano bench and assisted in practice time-- paws and tails following the rhythm. So I thought "Why not?" and I let Little Honker start his own band. All creatures respond to music in some way. Read to find out how Little Honker and the Swinging Tails became a band!
I am always interested in kid reviews of my books. I need to know what works. So, I decided to include this excerpt because it embodies much of what this young reader thought was good about Swinging Tails. "I loved the skunk in the book and giving Weezie a second chance. I liked the way they made up the band with pots and pans and had to improvise. I especially liked that Little Honker had a dream about a band and it becomes real. And, I liked the teamwork of the girls and Little Honker and his buddies. This was a fun book. I can hardly wait to read more Little Honker stories."
As a kid, I remember trying to figure out what I could do if I didn't have something. Playing teacher without students? No problem. I had stuffed animals, a box and pieces of paper to use as a chalkboard, and a variety of old pencils and coloring tools. At an early age I had a dream of becoming a teacher, so I started to practice that role in our unfinished basement when I was about 7. Instruction also meant reading stories to my stuffies and asking those quiet students what they thought? I had a dream and I was trying to figure out how to make it work. I used the dream idea with Little Honker. He wants a band but doesn't have the usual instruments used in a band. So, with team work and improvising, he is able to achieve his dream. This skill is so important. Everyone needs to learn how to make it work if you won't have the necessary tools at hand. Playing around with what you have can lead to amazing creations.
I have always believed in second chances! So, I decided to put the skunk from Little Honker Saves the Day back into Little Honker and the Swinging Tails. Honker and his band agree that Weezie should have an opportunity to play in the band IF she doesn't give them the famous Skunk Perfume. She keeps her promise and it turns out she plays a mean milk jug!
The idea for my Little Honker to start his own band came from a third grader at Indian Ridge Elementary. Each time I read my previous two books in schools, the kids always asked, “What’s he going to do next?” I turned the question to them and received many great suggestions. I loved Zoey’s suggestion that Little Honker start his own band and ran with it. The original story was never published because my company closed its doors. Bublish helped me get my feet on the ground again and opened a new door for me. I’ve rewritten my third book in the series, taken a good look at my audience, and discovered early chapter books with enthusiasm. I’m pleased with my new beginning and hope my readers will be as well. In this scene, Little Honker wants to convince his human girls to help him get his band going. In my second book, he discovered that music flows through his body and mind and now he wants more and more music. He can’t do it alone, so he asks for help and gets it.
Learning to improvise is an important thing for everyone to learn to do. If we don’t have the necessary tools to complete a task, how can we figure out a way to overcome the problem? In order to create his band, Little Honker needs to improvise because he doesn’t have all of the necessary instruments. I wanted to show my Little Honker’s musical talent, determination, and ability to improvise, so I thought he could play the keyboard and bells. With the help of his human girls, they improvise and create the rest of the instruments. Determination is so important if you want your dream to become a reality. The triangle and drums were not difficult to visualize, but I struggled a bit with getting the guitar idea to work for the band. It was my oldest daughter who said, “Put it on the floor and let the cat strum with his or her claws.” Thank goodness for insights from others.
Warren’s meow is a honk. He doesn’t sound like his Seal Point Siamese family or look like them. His brothers and sisters will not play kitty games with him. And, then, on a backyard adventure things change. He saves his family from an unwanted visitor and his honking is important after all.
Like most people, the "What Ifs" in my life changed the path I took and the person I became.. There were numerous "What Ifs" in my life that have headed me down unknown paths and made all the difference in the person I have become. What IF we had not decided to move to a new house four years ago? What IF I had not decided to go through boxes of saves? What IF my publishing company had not closed its doors? Little Honker was born when I sorted through boxes of saves in our old house. I discovered a story my youngest daughter wrote in third grade called "The Cat Who Went Honk.." In her story various cats attempted teaching Warren the proper meow. It did not work. I asked Kari if it was OK with her for me to play around with the story and make it mine. My Little Honker was finally born and went from a picture book to an early chapter book. This Little Honker and I have created many adventures. My "What IF" turned into a creative outlet for me and adventures for early readers. Talents are all different. Inclusion is important. Purrfect for all.
This except is not about books but about family love. Family love is shown in many ways. Family loves for me was much about books. My mother encouraged us to read and always had several library books she was reading. My youngest brother always HAD to have a book to read. Sometimes I have several books going at one time depending on my mood. I love all kinds of books and am constantly reading. I read in a favorite chair or read in bed. But, I can't travel without a book. My first question when packing is "What book will I take?" Books ask me to listen and observe characters, travel with them on adventures, and share. I write to read and read to write. The treasure of learning never stops! I am most certainly "Hooked on the Love of Books."
We all seek comfort. Not just humans, but animals as well. There is something healing about wrapping yourself in comfort. It can come in numerous ways -- a warm drink or warm soup, a warm fire or warm blanket, a hug from someone special, or just knowing you got it! Success. I planned a bed of comfort for my first pregnant Siamese cat to birth her kittens in. Rather, she felt comfort to birth them on our bed because that was where she slept. She wanted her babies to be where she felt safe. So, I used that when I wrote Little Honker Saves the Day. His mom wanted her babies to be born where she knew they would be safe and comfortable. My first version of this book is now out of print and I felt very uncomfortable when the company closed its doors. But, rewriting this story generated comfort in me and I felt success and pleasure when I completed it. Happy reading. .
"Turn out your light," Mom says. I do and then snuggle under the covers--flash light in one hand and book in the other. This was a nightly routine when I was growing up. Later, my reading and then writing was still on the bed or in a comfortable chair, coffee at my side and a cat close beside me. I've loved reading and writing for as long as I can remember. Most books wrapped me in suspense and wonder. I loved word choices and awesome ideas. So, I worked at it for years between reading essays and planning lessons. Retirement sent me in a direction where I could focus more on the writing.. I'm still rarely without a book and I'm rarely without pen and paper. One routine changes into another and this is what I wanted to show in this chapter.
Scared could have been my middle name. What if I can't do it? What if people laugh at me? What if I don't fit in? Those questions became a black cloud hanging over my head and often found a way of digging deep into my mind. I wanted to be a teacher but that meant I'd have to be on stage and instruct students. I wanted to write but that meant I would have to let people read what I wrote. Then I took an Introduction to Speech class the summer before my freshman year in college. One of the students was a woman in her late 40s who decided to go back to school. She was a nervous wreck when she gave her first speech. But, she did it! I thought, "If she can do it, I can do it!" She saved me from much apprehension and Little Honker saved his family from the famous Skunk Special. We can all do it when a little confidence kicks in!
I knew I wanted to write books for kids. I knew it should be about cats because I'd had cats all of my married life. Four years ago I wrote a picture book called Warren the Honking Cat Saves the Day. I soon followed it with Warren the Honking Cat and the Exciting Winter Recital. Although the books were well received and I had a third one ready to go to press, my company closed it doors and left me in search of a new way to get my Little Honker stories out to kids. Lots of attempts at finding an illustrator lead me to a gal in Denver and eventually to my current illustrator in Argentina. I went from writing picture books to early readers thanks to Kathy Meis at Bublish! So, Warren the Honking Cat Saves the Day became Little Honker Saves the Day with much more detail and fun. I was able to include much loved information about my dear father-in-law, a vet who offered more than he ever knew! Thanks to Kathy and Doc, Little Honker and I are on the way!
He did it. Sometimes it just takes a while for creatures to figure out their strengths. Facing a challenge can do that. Those around you finally realize it. I, for one, often try to figure out how I fit into a situation. So, I wanted to show Little Honker finally figuring out something about himself. Instinct kicked in and he was able to scare danger away. He is paws-a-tively pawsome and the entire family appreciates it at the end.
Sometimes scary. Sometimes exciting. Always a new adventure. In each of my Little Honker books, I have tried to encourage young readers to think about changes in a positive way and move forward. It might be scary at first, but a little team work is all you need. I've faced many transitions in my life and with each one, I felt some apprehension. My head was filled with questions regarding this next chapter in my life. With a little encouragement from those around me, I've been able to go from apprehension to comfort. I want my young readers to feel the same way because it is PAWSOME!
My husband is 6'3" and loves music and kids and cats! When our girls were little, he would love to pick them up, turn them over, and let them walk on the ceiling. A little music meant dancing on the ceiling. More fun and giggles. Never the typical guy, I wanted to use this idea to show how memories influence selecting a name. I also wanted to give a hint that differences are often surprising and prove to be fun and important. In all my Little Honker books I show unique qualities are important. Little Honker proves that is several ways throughout the series.
Help is there just when you need it! When Loai, our first Siamese cat, gave birth to six kittens on our bed, I was surprised when Cass, our male, stepped up and assisted at the birth. He cleaned up the babies and even babysat them when Loai went to eat or use the litter box. Sometimes we are surprised when the necessary parenting skills kick in. Normally male cats don't have much to do with their babies. I thought it was a great example for kids to see. Regardless of the gender, the instinct of taking care of the young can kick in. Throughout my book, I wanted to show support of family regardless of differences discovered in the family. Four-legged families have differences just as two-legged families. Support, step up, and stick together.
Figuring out just what I wanted to do with this scene was a struggle for me. Our first cat, Loai, delivered her kittens on our bed even though I fixed a comfortable basket for her. I wanted to include this but was not sure just how to do it. I was completely new to this pet mom role and clearly did not understand nature's rule with baby delivery. I wanted to teach young readers that new moms, and in our case a new dad, delivered where they felt safe. So, I added Doc, my veteirnarian father-in-law, to the scene to give the words of wisdom needed. My young readers have asked many questions about this scene. Since our male cat assisted at the birth of his babies, what do you think comes next?
I was thinking back to the wedding gift my husband gave me -- a female Siamese kitten -- and later a male Siamese kitten. Totally new to me. Loai had six kittens on our bed and my husband was on a college field trip. Let the fun begin! I was a bit clueless. I wanted to put some of that and the adventures we had into the story. Then I decided to put my own kids and my father-in-law into the picture. Doc was amazing and gentle with so many creatures and I wanted that to shine through too. He gives them some advice and they are excited for the fun to begin. I show the usual routine these four have and hint at the change that will occur.
Can a cat play music at a school concert? Little Honker can and did. First he plays a duet and then the bells with the rest of the band. When the bells get loose, the kitty inside him takes over and the excitement begins as Little Honker chases them around the auditorium. Did Little Honker ruin the concert or make it the most memorable one ever?
1979. Cheyenne, Wyoming. Soon to be Thanksgiving break and Mother Nature hinted and then promised to make it one to be remembered. Mother Nature's whirlwind of snow moved in with a vengeance. We got an extra day for our break and I was prepared for.Thanksgiving. We watched the snow pile higher and deeper around our north facing house. It filled in our driveway which was set between two retaining-wall planters. It filled the steps from our front door to the drive of a nearly 5' drift. By the time it finally stopped and the sun was shinning, our 8 year old daughter decided she wanted to play with her friend Natalie. "I'm going to Natalie's," she said. We warned her that the snow was too deep. Oblivious to the warning, she got into her snow pants, warm coat, mittens, and stocking hat. "I can do it.," she said. Out the door and down the snow-filled steps she went until she was stuck up to her arm pits in a huge drift. "Lesson learned?" my husband asked as he got on boots, a coat, and headed to pull her out of the snow. Our neighbor, whose house faced south, was shoveling and plodded across the snow to assist.
My daughters were musicians. They begged for a piano and we found a way to get one for them. They loved it. My oldest was a natural musician and could pick up almost any instrument and play it. She played the alto and tenor sax but also tried out several other instruments. My youngest was a serious student of music and also played the flute and piccolo. We always went to their winter and spring concerts and when I wrote Winter Concert, I thought of how fun it would have been for them to insist that one of our cats should come along. Both of our Siamese cats loved "practicing" with the girls. I let the fun begin!
My mother was a baker! During the Christmas season, she started to bake every kind of cookie imaginable. Sugar cookies and anything chocolate were my favorites. My brother was all about the sugar cookies. When we were kids, we lived in an old house with a walk-up attic. It was cold in the winter, so it was an excellent place for Mom to store cookies for gifting. It was also an excellent place for my brother and me to find a snack before bed or when we took a break from studying. When we moved to a new house and had a freezer in the basement, the stealing didn't stop. My brother and I had bedrooms in the basement.. Although Mom knew what happened to the cookies, we did not get in trouble. She continued baking. I have Mom's recipe for sugar cookies. It is a huge project to mix, roll out, cut, bake, and decorate. Sadly I have not carried on her baking tradition, but my oldest daughter has. Her son has invited some buddies over this weekend to bake and decorate cookies. Teenage boys and cookies. No question about disappearing cookies.
Closed doors can lead to new avenues. Looking through my rear view mirror, I'm thankful that my first publishing company closed its doors and left me out in the cold. Although I was initially angry and felt lost for months, with the encouragement from my husband, relatives, and friends, I found Gaspar Sabater and Bublish to assist me in my mission to provide young readers with stories that are entertaining and educational. I'm so thankful for all of my beta readers who have given me invaluable suggestions that made all of my Little Honker stories, Margie, and Schrinkler books that young readers embrace. My appreciation for everyone has made my heart full! Thank you all so much.
My mother-in-law loved a gathering. The more the better. Party at the last minute, no problem. She always managed to "pull it together" and I admired that. I am not wired that way, but I do love having people gather around. I guess in that way, I am programed more like my mom--with always the hope that I will learn to change my wiring in some way. I use gatherings of some sort in all of my books because it says so much about people. Most of these gatherings have to do with music. In Winter Concert, Little Honker joins his girls at the school concert. As is true with many gatherings, there are fun times and some unexpected events. Suarprises can often be entertaining.
I love the way my illustrator, Gaspar Sabater, brings my words to life! In this book I wanted to show the love of music my daughter and one of our cats had for music as well as each other. I think Gaspar did a great job of showing this to the reader. When we finish a book, I always ask him what he thinks. I want to share his review. "My daughter and I loved this book. It teaches us that animals are much more than mere pets. Warren shows us an amazing bond shared with the girls through their love for music, a way of communicating feelings and emotions. Just as my daughter immediately fell in love with Little Honker, I think all kids will be fascinated by the lovely characters that are part of this story." The other cool thing about this is that Gaspar is teaching his daughter English through my books! Hugs across the miles to Gasppar and Pilar.
Little Honker is really a combination of two Siamese cats we had who loved to help our daughters practice the piano, flute, and sax. We discovered early on that they loved the sounds coming out of the instruments and even tried to create a duet on the piano. I just had to use that in this book. Using those kitties in Winter Concert caused me to remember all the fun we all had when the girls sat down to practice. Sometimes those songs had a few extra notes and we smiled and laughed at the fun these kitties created in our lives. Once I got moving on this story, I imagined what would happen if Little Honker played at a concert. He IS a cat after all, so anything could happen. And the kitty traits took over in certain places.
Most school winter concerts are pretty standard. Holiday songs are played and vocalists sing. Sometimes there are variations on the traditional songs. I have such fond memories of going to my daughters' concerts. But, what I also have fond memories of is our two Siamese cats helping the girls play the piano. On the bench and paws on the keys from time to time, the cats were adding a variation of their own. So, I thought it would be fun to have a cat go to the Winter Concert. The girls are able to convince their parents and band teacher that Honker would be great. Honker is, indeed, musical, but he is a cat first and a musician second. What happens when the bells get loose? Kitty instinct kicks in and the fun begins.
Cats always create fun surprises for the pet parents! Our Siamese cats loved to create their own tunes if the keyboard was available. Our oldest daughter played the sax and I thought it would be fun to have Little Honker's brothers put cat toys into the bell. Kris thinks it is amusing but Little Honker thinks they have ruined the music. After Kris explains to him that all creatures are not the same and have individual talents, he seems to appreciate the idea of differences. He is, after all, unique in his own way.
Our Siamese cats loved the piano. When the keys were available, they often played their own tunes by walking across the keyboard. I wanted to show the fun of that but also that all animals are different. Little Honker certainly is. And, it is all good. Animals, like humans. have different talents. Our oldest daughter played the sax. If you have cats, you never know where you will find things. So, I thought it would be fun to show the male cats putting their toys into the bell of the sax and Kris not aware of it. Cats can make you laugh with their hidden surprises. Kris thinks the burst of toys rather funny but Honker doesn't agree until she talks to him about appreciating differences.
We had two Siamese kittens who loved to help our girls practice the piano. They would sit on the piano bench and assist with the practice. They even enjoyed pushing on the keys when alone and we used to say they created their own tune. I wanted to use that in this book because I thought it was so different than any of the other cats we lived with. All creatures have their own personalities and talents and I wanted to show that in Winter Concert. Animals and humans can share many things and music is one of those things. Little Honker is different than his siblings and his uniqueness turns out to be a great thing. His parents and his girls believe in his talents and encourage him to embrace his honking in all the right places,his kitty dancing to the music, and in trying new things. Encouraging others is a trait I believe we should all embrace.
Doc is a veterinarian whose backyard is filled with animal friends, including Margie the myopic, sniffing skunk. One day, a mysterious visitor makes a mess and the animals must find the intruder. Will their adventures lead to more trouble or love at first smell?
Since writing Glasses for Margie, my readers have asked for a sequel. Surprised? Yes. Desire to deliver? A challenge. I always want my young readers to be entertained and to learn something. In this book my readers learned about the benefits of having a skunk around as well as the challenges myopic skunks face. I searched and attempted a sequel several times. I asked my readers what they thought it might be like. Some suggestions came to me and I tried again. Because I always want to introduce something new to my readers, I decided to introduce an opossum. What are they really like? Why have they survived since dinosaurs? I am compelled to find new information and to share it. So when I decided to use this character in the sequel, it all started to come together. Plus, I had so much fun with the kits! This book is out to beta readers and I hope to have it in the hands of readers soon.
This award winning book is the perfect stocking stuffer! Fun animals, a mystery, and a little skunk romance in the vegetable garden. What more can you ask for a fun filled holiday read. Meet these fun characters and get ready for the Margie sequel which introduces a new animal character and fun times with the kits! The long awaited sequel will be coming soon!
I decided that this award winning book needed to be noticed on this day especially. I dedicated it to my dear father-in-law who had his own Animal Clinic. For years the payment he often received was in chickens, eggs, or maybe some beef or pork. He did it any way because he loved his work and cared about animals and people. I learned so much from him and decided his yard would be the setting for this book. The world of veterinary medicine has changed drastically since my father-in-law was in practice, but there are still small animal clinics around as well as many other small businesses. Since I am a small business, I try to support as many small businesses as I can.. Working as a team is what it should be about. Care for each other and the pay off is amazing.
All parts of nature rule my emotions and writing. From a tornado to a blizzard, to a soft breeze to a beautiful sunrise or sunset, weather grabs my emotions. In my recent visit to Hawaii, Mother Nature presented me with an outstanding sunset over the ocean. My grandson was able to capture it in a time lapse to be treasured. All animals in nature grab me too. Sometimes Mother Nature's rules work with me and I'm fond of the outcome. I've written countless poems expressing my thoughts and emotions spirited by HER. She is strong and we continue to attempt understanding all she offers. In this excerpt I use the mystery of darkness and a mysterious noise. A few of Doc's yard family members are trying to figure it all out. It was a failed attempt at this point in the story but solved later.
What do the final days of summer mean to you? When I was teaching, it meant getting a little last minute travel adventure in and then hunkering down to get myself ready for the next school year adventure. For kids, it usually means packing in as much fun into a day before a new routine begins. Entertaining physical adventures are fun, but so are taking adventures with your mind. Pick up a book and let that story take you on a ride packed with a different kind of adventure. Books can take you places you would probably never have imagined. Let the fun begin!
Sometimes you have to try several times before you get a situation right. I searched and searched for the right type of glasses for Margie. Not only did I have to figure out the correct style, but the words to describe it so kiddos and my illustrator could understand. Finally my husband suggested the basketball net and things fell into place. All of my searching and word smithing paid off. Thank you Colorado Authors' League for believing in Margie and me.
Since retirement I have been able to follow two dreams. I have been able to write for children and travel. My first great travel adventure was going to the Czech Republic to visit the small town where my grandfather was born. Writing about my Czech relatives is something that I have been working on. I've loved learning more about Germany, France, Russia, and more. But, if I could travel back in time, I would go to my father-in-law's acreage and animal clinic. My love of animals grew because I was around him. What a guy! What an inspiration. So, Glasses for Margie is my tribute to Doc.
You will notice that all of my book covers are similar in appearance. In their own way, they say "written by Virginia K. White." Look inside and you will also notice similarities. Unusual characters such as a honking cat or one with magical powers or even a skunk wearing glasses. There will be subtle life lessons, historical information, adventures, mysteries, and always inclusiveness. I love to play with words, so you will find a series of purr and paw words, words like catatude and skunkatude, as well as new words for young readers such as myopic and polydactyl. That's my brand. That's my promise to my readers. I continue to hone my craft in order to present stories that are educational as well as entertaining. It's my hope that I am successful. Feedback is always important to me, so if you have comments, send them my way. It would be purr-fect!
As I sit here this morning with a cup of coffee, pen, and paper (yes, I always start writing my books this way), I think of what my Margie sequel will be like. I've done more research on the kits and Doc's last comment in Glasses for Margie, "Six skunks? Whatever will I do?" creates various scenarios in my mind. Doc's yard family is, indeed, a family. They look out for each other. They help each other. But now, there are four kits. The kits are like any new toddler. They are full of curiosity and adventure. What games and adventures do you think those kits have? How do you think the yard family will deal with this new activity? I am open to suggestions. Send them my way.
Love can be found at unexpected times and in unexpected places. Margie and this new skunk actually meet in the vegetable garden. The new skunk, Kit, is immediately smitten with this beauty and immediately decides flowers are in order. I had fun writing this part of the book. The real Margie is my dear sister-in-law. She's just as crafty as the skunk Margie. The new skunk is Kit. The real Kit was Margie's husband. They didn't meet in a vegetable garden but in high school. Both Kits were immediately smitten with the Margies. I do believe there were flowers involved with the real Margie and Kit. I had fun thinking about the relationship when I wrote this. The real Margie loved this part. Sadly, the real Kit is no longer with us, but his memory is strong. Love!
Margie keeps falling into Doc's pond because she's myopic like all skunks. Doc makes glasses for her and Margie's entire world opens up and changes. She's extremely creative and let's us see this. She helps solve a mystery. Did her glasses help her with that? Then there is a little romance in the vegetable garden. Nature's rules take place and Doc is presented with a bit of a problem. I've had numerous requests for a sequel, one of which is to have Margie and the yard family have a surprise birthday party for Doc. After all, he does take great care of them. Send me your thoughts! I think Margie wants another story.
My mother-in-law could put a party together in no time and did so frequently. She didn't worry if the house was not in perfect order. What she wanted was a party. She invited family, friends, friends of friends, and served unbelievable food and drinks.I admired her ability so much and enjoyed many of those parties. People had a great time and many made new friends. Kathy's suggestion this week gave me an idea for the sequel to GLASSES FOR MARGIE. People have been asking since the book came out when I would have a sequel. I had not found an avenue for it until today. I looked at the team effort of Doc's yard family and thought, "Wouldn't it be fun for them to throw a party? Margie would, of course, be in charge of the decorations!" I think I can run with this. This excerpt shows the power of the yard family. I think this will work well in a sequel..
Night sometimes makes the imagination come alive more than any other time. Noises are heard. Vision is weak. What is creating all those unusual sounds? Do you want to investigate or snuggle safely in a protected area? Duchess and Jack are curious and feel the need to investigate. Margie wants to stay safe in her den. I think that is so true with people. Severe weather brings out the curiosity in some people. They feel drawn to the action. Others, like Margie, want to huddle up safe at home and hope for the best. I feel like I am a bit like all three of these creatures. When we experienced flood conditions in Cheyenne, I desperately wanted to stay at home and tend to our unfortunate situation. On the other hand, I was drawn to the outside to see how this storm had hit others. Animals, like people, have the same feelings.
Did you know that skunks are myopic? Do you know why we sometimes get that Skunk Perfume Special? I really didn't know the answer to these questions until I started to research skunks after I put Weezie in Little Honker and the Swinging Tails. Skunks only see things clearly if they are up close. So, if they can't identify an object and become frightened, they will hiss, stamp their feet, and then raise their tails in order to warn off predators. If that doesn't work, it is time for the Skunk Perfume. In this book Margie provides much service to Doc's backyard, but her vision problems often get in the way of that service. She often ends up in Doc's pond while searching for some of her favorite treats. I thought it would be fun to figure out how Margie would react if she had better vision. So, I designed special glasses for her.
Skunks spray their famous perfume when they are scared or want to give a warning. In this scene, Margie is giving a warning to the intruder and she wins the day. The yard family is there to support. The glasses have given her perfect aim! I had so much fun writing about Margie. Many of her creative traits are based on my dear sister-in-law. I wanted to show my young readers that we can all come into our own and most often, we have a support team. Margie does just that in this story.
While my husband was in Vietnam, I lived on Doc's acreage. We had a mobile home close to my in-laws' home and yet I was far enough away that it felt very much like I was alone with nature. I heard noises I couldn't identify and at times became a little alarmed. Nature became a mystery in a different way for me. There was an instance when I woke up to find trash sprinkled over the yard and I was clueless as to how it happened. So, I decided to use that experience in my Margie story. It used to be that animals like raccoons did not venture into the city as much. Surely that is not true now, but I went back in time and decided to put this mysterious creature into the story and then see how the yard family as a team solved the mystery.
Not being able to see well is a problem for many. Lack of good vision creates all kinds of problems for everyone. For Margie, her myopic vision caused her to constantly end up in Doc's pond. So, I wanted to figure out how Doc could make glasses for Margie to prevent this from happening so often. Her vision also caused frequent unwanted Skunk Perfume Specials. Nobody wanted that either. Enter the basketball net and flowers made into bonnet glasses for Doc's ecological yard wonder. Once Margie could see, the world of creation in addition to yummy yard treats was wide open! I based Margie the skunk on my dear sister-in-law who creates the most amazing things! Enter Skunk Margie and a world of necklaces, wreaths, and more. A little bit of magic begins to happen. Sight does that for all of us.
When I started to date my husband, I started to learn so many things about all kinds of animals. Doc White had a yard and clinic full of animals. He was the teacher. I was the student. He did not have a skunk living in his yard, but I did witness a "descenting" of a few skunks wanted as pets. Not Doc's favorite thing to do, but in the process, I learned something about the characteristics of skunks and decided to apply that knowledge to Glasses for Margie. Doc did have a German Shepherd named Duchess and a cat named King Tut. There were also various other animals who visited his yard and often found a home living there. I fell in love with the idea of all animals living together. I fell in love with my new knowledge of animals and carried that with me for years. After retirement, I was able to use that information to teach young readers.
Can a cat have magical powers? Are cats able to predict a future event? From Egyptian times to the present, cats in many cultures are considered both lucky and magical. Is Little Honker one of those magical cats? Little Honker seems to have some magical powers and predicts an upcoming event.
Like my mother and youngest brother, I always want a book to read. My favorite time to read is early morning. I get comfortable in the Lazy Boy, have a cup of coffee at my side,, and jump into the current adventure. Lately I've been reading books about pioneer adventures because I'm doing research on my great grandmother's pioneer adventures throughout Kansas and Nebraska. I've read several Sandra Dallas books, various fiction and nonfiction NE books, and Giants in the Earth which is placed in the Dakota Territory. Why am I reading these books? Because I want to write about my great grandmother's adventures. In Backyard Adventures, the cats, ferret, and humans all have adventures. I included the allusion to Frankenstein and Houdini to provide still a different type of escape adventure if readers were interested.
"Grandma! Come quick." I rushed into the bathroom as Fanta, our new rescue all black cat, was jumping out of Kaycee's bubble bath. Bubbles decorated her fur from head to foot. I grabbed a towel and the chase began! After the chase around the bedroom, I was able to wrap her in the towel and dry off the bubbles. We all had a good laugh over that. It was Fanta's dive into the bubble bath that finally gave me the idea of how to get my Little Honker out of the pond. We soon discovered that Fanta loved water, but not bubble bath water. So, I decided I had to work this story and Fanta into Backyard Adventures. This crazy kitty has continued to amuse us with her exercise wheel, also included in this book, her jumps to extremely high places, another bit I included in the book, and her left paw drinking. Thanks Fanta!
Spring is a favorite time of year for me. It's the birth of new life. The purple crocus peek their heads through melting snow and the tulips soon follow with a burst of colors nodding their heads to the yellow daffodils. The trees start putting on their dress greens and give the hint to the dormant grass. I'm eager to plant more color for the eye in the yard--something my father grandfather always said after his fields were in. But, in Colorado we have to wait until after Mother's Day to finish dressing up our yards because we usually get a spring snow. In the meantime, I let Mother Nature give me signals as I fill the bird feeder and enjoy the eagerness of those in flight nibbling at the menu. The crumbs are gobbled up by squirrels and bunnies. My current isolation has given me pause to think and enjoy as much as I can. I have tried, in this excerpt, to give a similar sense of spring. Like Little Honker, I am ready to seek a new adventure.
The beginning of this book rested in a file for a few years! I could not get Little Honker out of the pond. I made several attempts and nothing seemed to work. Enter three rescue cats and my granddaughter. When Fanta jumped into the bubble bath with Kaycee, I found the answer to my problem! Fanta loves water and Little Honker can't swim. There it was. The book almost wrote itself. Such fun. Rescue cats. Egyptian cat beliefs. Magical Powers. A surprise ending.
Kids and books! It doesn't get any better than that and now Amazon is promoting this book for $3.94. Get it while you can for that price. Recently a former colleague asked me if I always wanted to write. YES! And, I knew I wanted to write books for kids. I always wrote with my students as well as for myself. A milestone for me was actually seeing my work in print! I'm proud of all my Little Honker books and feel honored that Glasses for Margie was a finalist in the CO Authors' League contest. When Would You Like a Scarlet Striped Schrinkler? finally appeared in print, I was thrilled. It was a rough road. But, I'm most pleased celebrating with my grandkids who continue to inspire me. My youngest granddaughter was with me all the way for Backyard and recently called and said, "Grandma, I have an idea for a book you should write." It is on the way because it was a great idea. Knowing my stories engage kids pleases me every day.
This book was in a file folder for a long time. I could not figure out how to get my Little Honker out of the pond. It was adopting our rescue cats and having my granddaughter with us that got me going in a direction I liked. I want to share a comment from one of my readers that I think fits the book and growing up. "Warren's latest adventure with the newest residents and neighbors of his backyard will resonate with anyone still searching for his or her 'tribe.' Finding the people that you share things with is a challenge, but Warren takes that challenge and makes it look easy. You don't have to be just like your friends, but if you have one thing in common with each other, you have the seed to make a friendship grow. Find that one thing!" (Staci Day)
From Egyptian times to the present day, cats are believed to have magical powers and bring luck and safety to those who care for them. Many cultures hold that believe today. From the time my husband gave me a Siamese cat as a wedding gift to now, I ave felt our cats could sense certain things and in their own way predict a future event. When my husband was in Vietnam, the cat he gave me watched, sensed, and could tell if something was amiss outside. In their own way, all of our cats have been like that. So, I decided that Little Honker could have some magical powers. He predicts the move in of the new family and their cats before Kari and Kris know. Little Honker has also brought good fortune and safety to the backyard.
Lynn, a former office mate, bought all of my books to put into the Little Free Library her husband built and she said they disappeared immediately. After reading them, she said, "Even though I don't have the viewpoint of a nine-year-old, I enjoyed reading them. Warren's family is beautifully accepting of him; unconditional love is like that. The problems you lay out for Warren to solve are just the right size. One thing you absolutely nailed is kids' acceptance of differences given the least bit of explanation." Later in this chapter Willy asks Warren why he honks and he says, "I tried to meow like my family, but honking seems to be my meow. We all got used to it. Some people call me Little Honker," Warren responded. Willy accepts the honking and Little Honker accepts Willy's almost missing tail.
A long time lover of cats, it was not until I dove into teaching world literature that I realized cats in many cultures are considered sacred, having magical powers, and capable of bringing luck to those who housed them.! No wondered I have always loved them. In this book I decided Little Honker should show his magical powers. A shock to Kari and Kris and fun for all. The suspense builds and the girls finally realize that their Little Honker is truly amazing.
I have been told by many readers that I teach life lessons but they don't dominate like in many children's books. They are more subtle and would make a child think. In this chapter I talk about inclusiveness and tolerance for new things. Little Honker honks and can't meow. Willy only has a sub of a tail and was a feral cat. Sprite ad six kittens in a rescue facility. Honker learns much. He didn't know about a rescue facility because he had always lived in the same house. Willy, Sprite, and Fanta learn that all cats don't meow. They accept each other and as Honker says at the end, "Welcome to our neighborhood.
I have always loved cats! Soft, cuddly, surprising, and predicting. Yes, they can sense things and predict what is going to happen. I discovered that early in our marriage when the cat my husband gave me for a wedding present seemed to sense something going on outside that she thought I needed to know about. I heard nothing. I saw nothing. Then, sometimes as late as the next day, I discovered the problem When my husband was in Vietnam, she sensed when something uneasy was about to happen and cuddled me. When I taught World Humanities, I discovered cats in various cultures were considered not only lucky but were able to predict future events. So, I decided to use that information. After all, Little Honker does have unusual talents and why not let him have magical powers like Egyptian cats. I liked it. I think he liked it! Kari and Kris liked it.
Those were the thoughts that floated through my head off and on for about four years. I loved my Little Honker. I loved that he was unique and found out that his honking was a good thing. I loved that he discovers his musical talent and starts his own bad. But, when I got him in the pond, I couldn't figure out what he would do next. He was in a floater because swimming was not one of his talents. The mallards honked with him. Dead end? I didn't really want to scrap the entire idea, but I needed some new building tools. New tools came with four new paws. My non-swimming Honker rested in his file folder waiting for a new adventure and our new rescue cat, Fanta, provided that. She jumped into a bubble bath with my granddaughter. The tools were in my mind and my hands were ready to build. Warren the Honking Cat Meets the Mallards turned into Little Honker's Backyard Adventures. He loved his new neighbors, adventures,and discovering his magical powers. I know I did.
I love writing. I love creating something new. I want to entertain my young readers and teach them something new. My young readers tell me I've done that. I've had fun writing Glasses for Margie and Little Honker's backyard Adventures. I was able to use some events from my personal life, spin these events, and create a fun read with both stories. My inspiration for Backyard Adventures came from our rescue cats and my grandchildren. This story started four years ago and then sat in a folder because it was not going any place. Boring! Enter Sprite, Fanta, Willy, and Kaycee. I was off and running. Kaycee and Fanta were fantastic helpers. My challenge continued, however. Marketing! I've learned to tweet and post on Facebook, but still require help. I love to visit schools, but it is easier said than done. So, 2019 will be another huge learning curve for me. I'm eager for new ideas to improve my weakness here. Most importantly, I want to improve my craft! I think I've come a long way, but I still have work to do.
I started Backyard Adventures about four years ago and it didn't have that name. I could not figure out what I was going to do with Little Honker At that time, he was just Warren the honker cat. He made his way to the pond and stopped.. I was stumped and so was he. We both walked away from the story and waited. My dear friend Marinell suggested the floater, but Honker and I were still stumped. Then my husband and I adopted three rescue cats and my youngest granddaughter spent the summer with us. Our rescue cats started to take center stage along with my granddaughter. Suddenly Honker had a new role. I recalled the role of cats from Egyptian times and decided Honker had some magical powers. We learn about cats magical powers and rescue animals in this book. Honker was not the usual musical cat in this books and he and I are both thrilled with the outcome. He's come a long way!
Family and home is where you feel welcome and at ease. You are comfortable in your surroundings. We have had cats for over 50 years and when we lost our last kitty, our house was empty. It was not the home we felt comfortable in. We needed a cat. My high school classmate posted a picture of two rescue cats who needed a home. We saw them, met them, and fell in love with them. But, those kitties had joined another rescue cat at the facility and had become a family. We could not separate them, so we adopted all three cats. Our home was right once again and this family became part of our family. I gave a little background and factual information in this excerpt. Little Honker has always lived in his current home, so this was a lesson for him. As he learns, I hope my young readers learn about what makes a family and a home.
We are in the gratitude season. It comes to us in unusual ways and sometimes when we least expect it and sometimes when we need it the most. Coming when I needed it the most recently happened to me. As I looked back at the books I have written, I discovered that gratitude is up front and center in all of my books. Because that trait has always been important to me, I wanted young readers to realize how important it is to them as well as those around them. In this scene, Little Honker is saved by the ducklings because he can't swim. He is filled with gratitude for saving him. Gratitude. Embrace it. Wrap yourself in it. Such a precious quality to have in your life. Enjoy.
This is one season where many decisions seem to be at the forefront. From stocking stuffers to what's on the menu and more, decisions are waiting to be made. Some are easier than others. With decisions, that is usually the case. Little honker is often faced with decisions. In this chapter he makes the decision to escape from the house to join his new duck friends. Before he knows it, they invite him to take a swim. He decides to take the plunge! See what happens in my new book, Little Honker's Backyard Adventures, available on Amazon and book sellers of your choice. It is available in print or ebook -- another decision. Take the plunge and have fun!
When you love someone, you want to protect them. So, I think we live with a fear that something bad might happen to what we love. I lived with that fear when my husband was in Vietnam, and nearly every time my girls walked out of the door. When they started to drive, I felt out of control! Fear and protection are natural feelings when there is love. In this excerpt, Little Honker is trying to convince his girls to let him go to the backyard more frequently. Earlier he dashed out unnoticed and took an unwanted swim in the pond. The girls are afraid something will happen to him and want to protect him. Much like you would do with a child. He convinces them that he will be careful, but the pet door option is out of the question for the girls. Keeping Little Honker safe is a top priority.
From the time I was a college student, I wanted to write stories for young readers. I have loved children's literature for as long as I can remember. I wanted to write stories that would provide some teaching moments as well as present fun experiences. Using cats seemed the avenue to do just that because I have known many cats well over the 50 years of living with them. I could not accomplish my dream alone! My dream finally came true after retirement and receiving much needed support from my husband and friends. Little Honker has a dream of starting his own band and does it with the help of his girls in Swinging Tails. In Backyard Adventures, he dreams of being able to swim in a floater but needs help from the ducklings. Most of us can not accomplish a dream without a little assistance.
Sometimes we all need a little rescue. After our sweet little Gabby crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we were left with an empty feeling. After over 50 years of having cats in the house, we were lost. Then, my high school classmate passed on a link to FUR the Love of Paws and I fell in love with two rescue cats. I needed rescued and so did they. Sprite and Fanta were mom and daughter and became a family with Willy. They were a family and we needed a kitty family. So, we rescued them and they rescued us. Much of what is in this book comes from the new stars in our lives.
Just as Fanta helps Honker in this chapter, I found just the help I needed from my college classmate and the wonderful woman to helped us find Fanta, Sprite, and Willy who are featured in this book. When I first started writing this book, I stopped with the Mallards and could not figure out where to go next. My unfinished book sat for about three years. Then Marinell suggested the floater and later I met Jenn and our three new felines and the story came together quickly. They both helped me immensely and our friendship has grown. Put your paws and hands together for friendships and teamwork!
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