Learn with Meena Mouse: The Meaning of Christmas

Merry Christmas Meena

A mouse in the house is a good thing!

Merry Christmas, Meena Mouse

Christmas is coming.
It’s not far away.
I have to wrap presents.
I should start today.

I made Papa a drawing
of Mama and me
so he won’t forget us
because we’re family.

Mama gets yarn
to knit as she pleases.
A scarf will keep her
warm in cold breezes.

An apple for teacher
who’s patient and nice
and teaches us all
how to read and to write.

The school crossing guard
who is next on the list
gets a piece of red cloth.
Now, who has been missed?

Grouchy mouse bus driver
who never does smile
gets a red juicy apple –
a bite every mile.

Squirrels get acorns
and birds will have crumbs.
I hope it will feed them
when deep winter comes.

I’ll sweep off the step
for old Mrs. Grump
so she can get out
of her home in the stump.

Something for neighbors,
relations and friends.
So many presents.
Will wrapping not end?

I will take care of mouselings
while parents are out,
and do it for nothing –
of that, there’s no doubt.

One last, great gift
that gets everyone clapping
the presents so big
it doesn’t need wrapping.

You can’t really see it,
but it never ends:
it’s being surrounded
by family and friends.

The best gift of all
is friendship and caring.
And always remember that
Christmas is sharing.

I’ve been tagged by the MY WRITING PROCESS Blog Tour

I thought this would be easy. The Writing Process Blog Tour asks us to post answers to four simple questions about how we write. Simple but surprisingly complex questions.

Thanks to Barbara Evers for tagging me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Barbara is an author, public speaker, and corporate trainer. Her first interest listed on her blog is giraffes, and she says she knows how to communicate with animals. aneclecticmuse.blogspot.com/  I met Barbara through the South Carolina Writers’ Workshop. The SCWW is a fine organization for writers of all abilities and genres. I’ve found much satisfaction in being part of this group and found a supportive network of kindred spirits.

What am I working on?

I’ve gravitated from novels to children’s books. A few years ago I resurrected a story I had written decades ago along with its crayon pictures. It was about a frog who lived in a pond. The end. Not much of a plot and certainly no conflict. I applied what I learned from writer friends and at SCWW Writers’ Conferences and came up with a plausible story: A brave frog faces the danger in the pond to get medicine for his mother. Then I Photoshopped the old drawings, combined them with some of my digital backgrounds and self-published Hubert Little’s Great Adventure.

I loved a story from my mom’s trove of family history. It begged for pictures. You can read the true story on my website. At least my mother said it happened. https://trilbyplants.com/welcome/lost-and-found/

Quite by accident I discovered a wonderful digital artist (she is Blackberry Ink Photography on Facebook) who agreed to do illustrations for Meena Mouse’s Perfect Raspberry. It’s a picture book for children up to five that teaches responsibility. Meena Mouse eats the last raspberry without permission, then disobeys the rules and treks into the dark, dangerous forest to find a raspberry. She has a magical encounter, but must find her own way home. Carrie A. Pearson carriepearsonbooks.com/ said the story is sweet, and the illustrations are luminous.

We’re now working on the next Meena Mouse book: Meena Mouse’s Perfectly Awful Day. Meena goes to school and learns to share. The title is a twist on the word awe-ful. The manuscript is ready to go to the illustrator.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I want this story and the ones to come to invite children into Meena’s world. She is a small creature in a big world, just as children are. She is sweet and innocent and the makes mistakes all children make. But she learns the lesson of responsibility without actually using the word. I hope children identify with Meena and learn along with her.
Activities and tips for parents and teachers are available on my website.

Why do I write what I do?

Writing for children is not easy. It’s as difficult and almost as time-consuming as writing a novel. But the reward of seeing youngsters enthralled by the story and captivated by the illustrations is beyond measure.

Young children like stories. They don’t listen or read them to learn some profound idea, or discover some inner truth. But they do learn subtle lessons from stories.

Since picture books have so few words, every one counts. The text hints at plot and character development, while the illustrations illuminate the finer nuances. Deborah Gagnon’s illustrations bring Meena to life and show her place in a far bigger world. Meena learns to be responsible for her actions, just as children must.

How does your writing process work:

I write every day on my laptop. I truly believe if I stare at a blank screen long enough, some muse will take pity on me. The Muses must like me because I always have too many ideas. Ideas are everywhere and constant. I once told someone I wish they’d stop. Not really.

My mind always looks for the story in an incident. My granddaughter started school in London, UK. She was hesitant about making friends and finding her place in a school in a different country. Until a little girl said she would teach her to hang upside-down on the bars. Friendship was born, and school wasn’t frightening at all. That incident will be in the next Meena book.

I’ve never been a morning person. I work best in the afternoon. Wherever I go, I carry a little notebook in which I take notes. Mornings I answer emails, run errands or read. When I play golf I find magical places in the trees, or a fairy home in a mushroom. Ideas come easier when I’m not focused and trying to make them gel. Evenings I watch TV and knit. I don’t usually watch the commercials, so when they come on, I knit on automatic and chase story ideas.

It was from this I got two ideas: Meena goes to school and learns to share, and knitting Meena Mouse. I found a Meena look-a-like pattern which I purchased and adapted. I thought the first one I knit was too small, so I made another, larger one. My six-year-old granddaughter has dibs on the little one. I’m using the other for promotions.

Follow the tour next week, June 29, with the following authors:

Click Photo for Dave Griffin’s Facebook Page

David Griffin is a storyteller and essayist. He is retired from a career in corporate education and communications, and lives near the ocean in South Carolina with his wife and her dog.  Dave writes the popular blog Monk In The Cellar, now a novel by the same name.  He publishes a book of stories and essays each year that are well received by those who like to think a little deeper … but not too deep … about life.



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Click Photo for Alan Thompson’s Website

Alan Thompson practiced law for the past forty years, primarily in Atlanta, Georgia. His civil trial work extended to dozens of jurisdictions throughout the United States, Australia and England, and he contributed to several professional journals and treatises dealing with his particular area of expertise, construction law.

He began writing seriously in 2008, and his first novel, A Hollow Cup, was published in 2011.  The Black Owls was released in September, 2013, followed by The Kingfishers, and his latest book, Gods and Lesser Men,is now available. He and his wife Barbie have two sons, one a lawyer in Salt Lake City, the other a Navy helicopter pilot currently stationed in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Now retired to Georgetown, South Carolina, Alan plays an occasional round of bad golf, and he and his bride can sometimes be found having a late-afternoon cocktail or glass of wine at the beach.

Goodreads page: Alan Thompson

SCWW Writers’ Conference – Discover the Depth in your Writing

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Click image for more information

As the president of South Carolina Writers’ Workshop, I’m in the process of gearing up for a couple of big events: editing and publishing The Petigru Review and our fall conference. Besides being a great conference, it’s a wonderful excuse for writers to come to the beach.

The Petigru Review is the annual anthology of the SCWW. In its pages you’ll find members’ prose and poetry. We also publish the first and second place winners of the Carrie McCray Memorial Literary Awards. Some fine authors began with publication on our pages.

Registration opens June 20 with early bird specials. Intensives, critiques, pitch sessions, real time queries, breakout sessions, comaraderie, networking and plain old fun!

Playwright contest.

Check out myscww.org for details. To ask questions email: scwwplaywrightcontest@gmail.com.

More later.

Lost and Found

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Amedee and Matilda Dalbec

My mother told me this story about an aunt of hers.

In the 1870s northern Michigan was forested wilderness. My mother’s maternal grandfather, a French Canadian, logged old growth trees, cashing in on the bountiful harvest of lumber that build the Midwest.

One of Mom’s aunts, about three years old, wandered away from the camp. Everybody, even the lumberjacks searched until long after dark, but did not find her. As is usual in northern Michigan in the early summer, there was a frost that night. The parents gave up hope and thought they would never see their child again.

Flora Dalbec, Minnie Dalbec (My great-grandmother) and Emma Dalbec (who was helped in the forest by the “gray lady”)

Next morning, the little girl ran from the forest, alive and well. When asked how she kept warm, she told everybody a gray lady helped her by giving her berries to eat and covering her with leaves and pine needles to keep warm.

Nobody  that fit the description lived in the area. All who heard the story attributed it to the child’s imagination.

That became Meena Mouse’s Perfect Raspberry. It’s a children’s story for ages three to eight that teaches the importance of responsibility.


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