Tag Archives: berry

My first novel, The Awesomely Amazing Adventures of Cherry: Butterfly Buddies, is here

I’m not one for making yearly resolutions. Not the formal sort, anyway. And not at New Year’s.

I made a great list when I was 12 and realized those pretty much set me up for life. I review them every so often. Basically they are: Don’t be a jerk, to yourself or others, reiterated in a variety of ways (believe in yourself, be kind, be true to yourself, follow the Golden Rule, love yourself, etc.).

But this past January (when I also celebrate my birthday), I realized that, while I wasn’t likely to be nominated for one of those Under 40 awards in the next year, I could make another long-time dream reality. I could be a published author by 40.

And now I am.

children's book on grief divorce and stepfamiliesThe Awesomely Amazing Adventures of Cherry: Butterfly Buddies is my first published novel.

I started writing it in March 2015, during Camp NaNoWriMo (same as regular NaNoWriMo in November, essentially). I’d had the idea of writing a children’s book based around my family life, told from the point-of-view of my youngest daughter. She can illustrate the book, I thought. I can tell a heartwarming story about an nine-year-old girl dealing with the challenges of friendship, divorce, remarriage and step-siblings and the loss of loved ones.

And so I did, blatantly using my family as inspiration for and the form upon which the story hangs.

I quickly ran into troubles.

While we have the usual sibling squabbles, all my kids are far too nice, caring and kind to each other to create the tension and conflict a story needs. So my apologies to “Lynn,” who’s truly a great sister in real life, as you’ll see in an accompanying series, The Awesomely Amazing Adventures of Elliot, told from the perspective of Cherry’s brother.

The illustrator at work.

Berry, fortunately as she’s the main character, loved the idea. She read my first drafts and nodded her head in approval. When she claimed stomach aches prevented her from going to school, I handed her sheets of paper and said, “OK, you have to stay in bed and illustrate the book, then.” She did.She also let me tell the harder parts of her story – how she feels about losing my mum and our cat, Hobbes, as well as the changes that have happened to her family due to my divorce and remarriage. I’m grateful for her bravery and honesty.

The illustrator reviews the proof copy and gives her approval.
The illustrator reviews the proof copy and gives her approval.

There’s a lot in the story that’s drawn from our lives. And a lot that’s fiction. The splendid part of writing fiction is that you can change reality to make it work better for your story. That’s much harder in real life (though perhaps not impossible).

I won’t give the story away to tell you what’s true and what’s invented. Some of it you can figure out for yourself. Some you may never know.

But I do want to make sure you know about one thing. When you get to the part about the pancakes, mystery pancakes were really my idea. 🙂

The Awesomely Amazing Adventures of Cherry: Butterfly Buddies is an early middle grade novel for readers age 6-9 (grades 1-3).

The Weekend at Camp Mummy/Poppy

We like to keep things interesting on the weekends at Campy Mummy/Poppy (Poppy is the additional camp counselor available on weekends and the odd weekday).

This weekend was the Black Sheep Gathering at our local fairgrounds. With free admission! So we headed there on Saturday morning and wandered around for a bit.

Yep, here are the stinky sheep!

It was easy to find the live animals…they carry quite a fragrance.

The kids enjoyed looking at the sheep in pens and watching a sheep be groomed for showing (Duncan and Adam pointed out that it was a boy sheep) and briefly looking at — and touching — all the fiber-related wares on sale. As I told one stall owner, it’s like they’re related to me or something, with their obsession with touching everything. Fortunately at a fiber gathering, people expect you to touch stuff.

I cruelly didn’t allow them to buy anything. Only Berry wanted to. Buy everything she saw, as soon as she saw it, particularly a purple goat marionette that we let her play with briefly before dragging her on.

And then Adam took them off to the library to acquire numerous books while I wandered around, in bliss, alone. Well, alone with the sheep and hundreds of other people.

I pondered for a while whether or not I’d get on better with animals than people. That perhaps I’ve missed my calling. It felt so peaceful with just the sheep and I, compared with the buzzing of all the people milling around the stalls.

I joined them, anyway, bringing home only 2.5 oz of raw alpaca fiber from an alpaca named Pedro and about 8 oz of a really pretty green/blue/white mohair and sheep blend. I was seriously pondering some angora rabbit to turn into a cowl (sheep wool makes me itch) when Adam pulled up in the minivan with the kids.

20140621_172805In the afternoon, inspired by all that fiber, I hauled out the dye and wool roving Adam and the kids got me for my birthday and began dyeing experiments in the kitchen. Having little idea what I was doing, I had a bit of fun and dyed a pound of roving (I thought it was only 8 oz, oops!) and a few skeins of cream cotton yarn I had in my stash.

The wool came out lovely, bright and vibrant, although I think I felted it just a little bit (not enough to stop me spinning it, but now I know better for next time). The cotton, however, came out really faded and pale. I’m telling myself I’ll post a full write up about it on Irrepressible Spirit sometime but, given how behind I am on posting about my latest knitting projects, we’ll see if that ever happens.

Today (Sunday) we mostly hung out. Duncan and I went to the Spiritual Center I go to and then home for playing. As soon as we pulled in the driveway our neighbor friend across the street absconded with Duncan for some playtime.

I ate lunch and read my book while Berry and Emma had some TV downtime. Then I harvested some of the garlic while the girls set small things on fire on the patio with magnifying glasses (that’s science, right?).

Berry says this one is her favorite.

And then Berry and I hung out in the chair swing, making silly faces and taking selfies while Duncan snuck in some computer time (I thought he was reading, silly me).

What did we eat for dinner, you ask? (I know, no one is asking). Baked chicken with oven waffle fries, green beans the last of the garlic whistles. Unless I drag the kids to the farmer’s market on Tuesday to get some more…I bet I could bribe them with the promise of fresh raspberries.

Gearing up

There’s just one full week of school left, plus 1.5 days. Then it’s over until after Labor Day.

It’s always an adjustment on both ends of summer — getting into the new, more laid-back routine of vacation and then going back to school in the fall.

We have a long list of possible summer activities in a Google doc, and I’ve been trying to break them down into attainable goals and doable projects. What are the things I want the kids to do? Go outside, read, be active, learn stuff, have fun, play.

So here’s what I’ve got so far for goals. More on each one later:

  • Visit every park in Eugene
  • Learn to ride bikes
  • Spend 60 minutes outside every day
  • Learn – reading, science, math, art, cooking, crafting
  • Make 1 new recipe every week
  • Keep a summer journal (could be this blog)
  • Read our way through the OBOB book list
  • Swim at least once a week