Archive | June 2012

Monday Muse – Reading the Pictures

A child with an illustrated book of Three Bill...

A child with an illustrated book of Three Billy Goats Gruff (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hi Everyone,

I know I’m a little late with the Monday Muse and I’d like to say it’s because I was visited by my very own muse and have spent the day writing…but…I have been doing the next best thing.  Reading!

I went to the library this morning and enjoyed flicking through the picture books looking at all the amazing illustrations. I read a couple of books aloud to the kids and then I picked some to bring home – based on either the cover picture, recognising a favourite author’s name (Julia Donaldson) or if it was a book about monsters. (and one on how to draw……I can at least improve my doodles….)

Then after filling both book bags and my arms with books, I came home to read them.  I have been on Safari, to the playground, up in a a hot air balloon, chased by wolves, and found treasure – all without leaving my house and staying warm and comfortable. That is the magic of good writing. My to-do list has been completely neglected, or to be more accurate – completely ignored and ‘accidently’ used to start the fire.

What has this got to do with the elusive Muse?

To write we need to read, and read, and read some more.

Read to be inspired, to learn, to escape, to marvel…

To write well we need to read. Reading other’s work will help us develop our voice and improve the quality of our own writing. Of course we need to write too. If we only ever read and never put any of what we learn or think into action we will be only readers rather than writers.

Todays Monday Muse

So, today take a picture book or a magazine and choose one picture.  Alternatively you can choose a painting or a photo.

Use this picture as your prompt. ‘Read the picture’ then start to write.  Remember to write for at least 10 minutes before you stop.

Hint:  Do not read the picture book or article first.  (I know that contradicts my previous comment about reading, but for this exercise it is easier if you do not have preconceived ideas about the picture.)

If you can’t decide on a picture then use one of the images below.

Michele Pannonio - The Muse Thalia (detail) - ...

Michele Pannonio – The Muse Thalia (detail) – WGA15588 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




On safari in Phinda

On safari in Phinda (Photo credit: Wikipedia)













Happy Writing






Monday Muse – Space and Supermoons

Welcome to another Monday Muse.

Today’s blog is going to be short and sweet. Words cannot describe or define the awesomeness or magnitude of space. I consider myself lucky that on a clear night I can step outside, look up at the sky and immediately be awed by the sheer number of stars that fill the sky.  There are more pinpricks of light than there is the blue-black of sky.

Space fascinates us.  Stars, planets, the moon, other galaxies, alien life….  Who knows for sure what is out there?
So, coupled with our imaginations, the sheer vastness of space is an excellent starting point for todays muse.

Todays Starter

Use the word ‘supermoon’ as your starter
the image of a lunar eclipse below.

If you’re interested in seeing more images from the recent lunar eclipse check out the links below.
Happy creating everyone,

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos

What is it? A jellyfish or a ??? A leaf or a ???

How often do you take a really close look at things?  What do you think this image is?  Think of three things you think it is likely to be before you continue reading.  No cheating!!  Consider it a bit of mental exercise.

What about this one.  It’s a leaf right?

Take another look.  Are you sure?

You must choose ONLY one answer for this one before you keep reading.

Practicing the art of observation and taking a closer look at everyday things and the world around us requires us to step beyond ourselves and really take the time to notice the details. This exercise helps us in many aspects of both our creative and everyday  lives.

Enhanced Awareness

When you begin to practice close observation you will become more aware of details and you will find yourself living more fully in the moment.  Time will slow down as you watch the butterfly hatch, the path of the bird across the sky.  You will see beauty in everyday objects, like the curve of the candlestick, the intricate details on a drawer handle.

This heightened sense of awareness will increase your sense of enjoyment and wonder in your daily life and the world around you.

Art and Writing

Close observation will also lead to more ideas for your art and writing and improve your work itself.

The more you observe people and and the world, the more information you will receive. This will in turn lead to more ideas for your creative outlets.

Another way noticing details will help is in your writing itself. We all know the show don’t tell principle. Being aware of details will make it easier to do this. Instead of saying; ‘James was angry. He glared at me and…’  You will be able to show this based on your observations of real life situations; ‘The tic at the corner of James’ eye started to twitch. I could see the vein in his neck pulsing as he ground his teeth.  He narrowed his eyes and…’

Activity 1

Take a walk around the block or down the street. (Or go into your garden and look at the world from the height of a 5 year old). Take note of the details you see. When you get home look at your details and come up with 3 story ideas based on one of the details you noticed.

Activity 2

Take your camera and take photos of 3 things you can see in your garden or in your house.  Put them on the computer and zoom them in on one section. Choose one of your zoomed images and use it as a starter for a piece of writing.

Activity 3

Go somewhere where there are lots of people – library, bus station, supermarket, playground and observe just one person.  Write down as many details as you can. At home create a short story based around the character you have observed. Use your details to bring the piece alive.
With all of these activities the most important thing is to have fun…and make sure you be subtle when observing in public otherwise you might get some funny looks or be asked to move on.
And finally to reveal what the pictures are…

Photo 1:

 taken by me.


Photo 2:

taken by my daughter


Have fun everyone,




Monday Muse – Haunted Houses and Escaping Goldfish

I hope everyone has had a fantastic, enjoyable and creative weekend.  I spent my time revising some manuscripts and designing a new enclosure for my rabbits. I also mulched my garden with autumn leaves. Now it looks rather colourful with green plants sticking up in patterns amidst a red, yellow, orange and brown backdrop.

Today is a somewhat windy, showery day here but the huge plus is….I have seen 3 different rainbows already!!  Of course the other advantage is that I have no excuses about going out or doing the gardening because it is far too cold.  The best place to be is at my desk, writing.

A note about using starters and prompts…

When you are using a starter or a prompt it is important to keep writing for at least 10 minutes.  If you start and then give up before this time is up you are not giving the creative side of your brain a chance to relax and start coming up with ideas and scenarios.  Mull it over a little first if you must but then start writing and don’t stop!!

This week I have included two starters to choose from – better yet – do them both.


Now, with no further ado, I present this mornings muse….


Find a way to combine the following in a work of art.  It can be a painting, a story, poem, song, music, collage…

A stamp collector

A haunted house

and red jelly



Use the image below as a starting point.



For more ideas and other writing titbits follow this blog by using the follow button on the sidebar, and click to like my facebook page.


Happy Creating




Monday Muse – The Royal Muse

Today is the day that we, way down under – here in NZ, are observing the Queen’s birthday.  Happy Birthday to the Queen of England!


……..I thought it only fitting that our muse today should relate to royalty.  If you’re a children’s writer like me, then kings and queens, princes and especially princesses are loved by little girls the world over and there are so many angles and story ideas that you can write about.

Some of my favourite published books that star a princess as the main character are:

The Paperbag Princess by Robert N. Munsch

Princess Smartypants by Babette Cole

Princess Pigsty by Cornelia Funke

What’s your favourite prince or princess story?  Leave a comment below so we can add interesting titles to our must read list.


Todays Monday Muse

Write a poem, song, story or paint a picture that depicts a prince or princess trying to get their wish fulfilled.  You must include:

a chicken (or other magic animal – no frogs)

a magic teacup (or other object)

and an overly helpful, but clumsy giant.


Happy writing.
May all your wishes come true,




Photo courtesy of