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When I was a child I devoured the series of animal stories by Thornton W. Burgess. Some I received as gifts. Others I bought with saved coins and I borrowed some from the library. I have one left.

Someday I would write stories about animals too. I noted that Mr. Burgess did not write about exotic animals such as elephants and giraffes but about animals that he observed around his local area. One charming attribute of his stories is that though he focused on one animal’s story, the other animals have small parts in it which brings about a charming cohesiveness.

Now I have my series underway. So far, I have written about a squirrel, a bear (3 stories), a crow, a rabbit, and a skunk. I am hoping to include an owl, a raccoon, a coyote, a deer, a seagull, and perhaps a hummingbird. So I am about halfway.

Each animal is partly inspired by newspaper articles, and anecdotes but I also research the animals in order to achieve an authentic ‘tail’!

One of these stories I have published – Abigail Skunk’s Lessons for her Kits.

Imagine that!

Meg

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Write a children’s story if you have the imagination, but submit it only if you have courage and tenacity.

The children’s book market is so competitive today that if you investigate the situation you can’t help but be intimidated. A book for children is short compared to an adult novel. The plot is simpler. The descriptions are conveyed by pictures. So how hard can it be to write a children’s story? It’s not hard; it’s dead easy especially if you have a fertile imagination. Writing stories is not the problem. It’s getting them published that pulverizes your soul.

Just read “It’s a Bunny-Eat-Bunny World”, by Olga Litowinsky, to understand the problem. Her book would reduce the thousands of would-be children’s authors to a mere trickle if they all had the courage to read the whole book. I read it when it first appeared and then dropped it into my slush pile fast. However I kept writing because I just couldn’t quit.

Now I’ve read it again. I recommend it to any writer who wants to know the true picture of the publishing business. Now it’s made me determined. Now I have people urging me to get my work published. Now I must try again. Yes, I’ll make mistakes. So what? I only need one publisher. Wish me luck—-NOW.

From the moment I embraced the skill of talking I became a teacher. My first pupils were ideal. Because they were dolls, they didn’t fidget or squirm, chew gum, throw spitballs or talk back. Occasionally one fell off a chair but I didn’t send them to the nurse I just replaced them on the chair and kept teaching.

In grade school, Grade Three, I became a tutor teaching boys to learn to read. In high school I tutored again teaching grammar.

Eventually I became a real teacher with my degree in education, but then family came along, so I taught my own.

And finally I found writing to be a perfect vehicle for teaching children one of the hardest subjects (and one I hated in school) – History!

Thus the Alexander Catts’ I and II came into being. They and their ‘meowmoirs’ help me show children “what it was like when” and the most famous people were just human beings who dealt with life like we do.

Alex (Alexander Catt I) met Ramses, Leonardo da Vinci, Columbus, Queen Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sam Steele, Queen Victoria, Eisenhower and Emily Carr, to name a few.

So far Lexi (Alexander Catt II) has met Ramses, Hippocrates and now Sir J. Lister. The goal is to make some of the highlights of the history of medicine not only understandable but interesting and hopefully entertaining.

The challenge is to make the gruesome palatable because the subject matter is often gross and we don’t want children to cry, or worse, throw up or develop fears about going to the doctor.

Even the study of health in Grade Four did that to me as a child and I write at the Grade Four level so I understand.

Looking back at the nineteenth century the chances of surviving childbirth, a broken leg, or simple operations were slim. Lister changed that by keeping his head and persevering against popular opinion by providing proof. He was a cool hero.

And my job is to depict all that – Fun!

Two new “purrsonalities” in  the world of children’s literature are Alex (Alexander Catt) and Lexi (Alexander Catt II). Alex, a black and white short-haired cat was born in a temple in ancient Egypt during Ramses II reign as pharaoh. He was a polite and dignified cat who lived each of his past eight lives to the fullest that his stomach could manage. Ever hungry, he sought out the best chefs of the day who usually cooked for discriminating people and thus Alex met and stayed with royalty, artists, inventors, explorers and the like.

Sometimes, his appetite for food led him into adventures and misadventures. He tried his best to avoid trouble, which meant avoiding dogs, water and the conflict of war, all of which he hated. His ‘meowmoirs’ cover ancient Egypt, ancient China, medieval times, the Renaissance, the Elizabethan Era, the revolutionary times, the Victorian Era, and the World War days of the twentieth century.  

Lexi, Alex’s son, was also a short-haired black and white cat but there the similarity ends because Lexi loves trouble and attracts it. As a safeguard, he usually lives with doctors, but relies on the twitch in his tail to warn him of trouble brewing. Pompous and a little abrasive Lexi irritates his adversaries, but usually he finishes his adventures by acquiring new and unlikely friends. Like his father, Lexi tries to take credit for inventions and new ideas that he witnesses by claiming that he inspired them. This kitty quirk is forgivable because he tells such a p(L)awsible “tail” and he’s such a lovable rascal.

Follow the ‘tails’ of both cats as they recall their historical adventures in their ‘meowmoirs’ for children of all ages.

I haven’t grown up yet, so I guess I never will. The neat thing is that everyone thinks I have, because I run a household, a burgeoning family, and have done my share of volunteering while holding my place in society in a dignified manner. No one guesses that I have an incongruous and irreverent sense of humor and a wild and playful imagination.

How do I preserve the external impression? By expressing my internal quirks of personality writing stories for children. Only  kids can appreciate a good fart when it’s essential.

And where do I collect my ideas? From all of you and you and maybe even YOU! So watch out when you tell your tales of woe; there might be an author with a sense of humor and a retentive memory listening.

This activity eases stress, too! It works for me!

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