Sunday, October 14, 2012

There have been lots of great developments and goings-on lately.

I've taken over as the director/leader/coordinator (what is the title, anyway?) of the Young Willamette Writers. I'm very excited about this position. The Willamette Writers is the largest writers' organizaton in Oregon, and one of the largest in the United States. Its purpose is to provide support and encouragement for current and aspiring writers. Young writers are not overlooked!

The Young Willamette Writers meets at the same time as the adults (7pm on the first Tuesday of every month) to hear from professional writers about topics related to craft and the industry. Upcoming guests are Tom Hallman, Jr. of the Oregonian, Lisa Nowak (Running Wide Open) on outlining, Amber Keyser (Angel Punk) on transmedia, Anne Osterlund (Exile) with a topic yet to be decided. What a great year we're going to have!

I'm in the middle of teaching a workshop at the Lake Oswego Library for 4th-6th graders. We've had lots of fun with my And then... stories as well as Chris Van Allsburg's book The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. I'll be doing a one-time workshop at the Albina Library in December.

SCBWI is hosting the 4th annual authors and illustrators gala, "Flap Flap!" on November 3. At this event, 15 authors and illustrators (including yours truly) will have four minutes to tell about their books. Come hear backstories and good tidbits from the authors themselves. This is a great time to get some Christmas shopping done as well.

Finally, I was honored to have my book discussed on Dan Patterson's blog after he used it subbing in a 5th grade class. Thanks, Dan! Glad you had fun with it!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Time For Tadpoles!

This week our theme in Preschool Storytime is "Frogs." Every year I go out to a pond near our house and scoop up some tadpoles. I keep them in a little plastic fish/frog/lizard tank and tote them back and forth to Storytime for a few weeks. The kids have a blast watching them grow back legs. Then, (I just realized this last year) their front legs pop right out of their heads. I always thought they developed slowly, just like their back legs. But actually they form under their skin, then just pop out all at once. I was privileged to watch it happen one time. One minute the frog had back legs, the next it had one front leg, then a few minutes later it had all four. Amazing!

A few years ago I found a cluster of eggs and brought them in. We got to watch them hatch and grow all the way into adults, but it took SOOOO long, I got kind of tired of carrying the tank back and forth from home. This time I found some nice fat tadpoles almost ready to sprout back legs, so it should just take a few weeks.  I let them go back into the pond once they need to eat bugs. For now, I feed them plants from their pond and supplement with lettuce and spinach.

I think there are seven of them. Should I name them Sneezy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Doc, Happy, Bashful and Dopey?

Monday, May 21, 2012


WIP: Work In Progress

A little over a year ago I got an idea for a middle grade novel. I started writing, thinking I'd have it finished and ready for a critique at the SCBWI writers' retreat in October. Months of lazy summer days ahead with hours to write, right? Well, you know how summers go - WHOOSH! Wait a minute! It's the middle of August already? So it wasn't finished in time, got set aside over the holidays, and finally reared its head in my consciousness the last few weeks. I put some serious time in on it, and I'm happy to say the first draft is finished!

This feels particularly satisfying to me as it is my first story longer than about 400 words that isn't a picture book. My Cliffhanger Writing Prompts book is 30 stories, almost all of which are 250 words or less. This novel for 8-12 year olds is 18,000 words. I reread what I had so far a couple of months ago and spotted quite a few things that need revising, which I expected. Now the real work begins of tying up loose ends, filling in gaps, and fleshing out some characters. I'm looking forward to it, but a little nervous, too, that I might get bogged down or stuck.

Right now I'm getting ready to print the whole thing out and get into it with color coded markers. Should be fun!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Opportunities

I'm very excited that my Creative Writing Workshops are starting to get some traction. I'll be at Veritas School in Newberg in May, the Young Willamette Writers in June, and at Middleton Elementary in the Fall. I've made contact at the Tualatin Library for the fall, and am talking to the Lake Oswego, Newberg and Multnomah libraries about doing a workshop series at each of them. If you visit any of those libraries, or another branch in the metro area, please put in a plug for me. I would love to have a workshop going somewhere all the time. I get such a kick out working with the kids and hearing their outrageously imaginative stories, and I love seeing them get excited about writing and sharing their work.

Sometimes I think the drudgery of writing "lessons" can squelch the fun of it. My workshops are not about fixing spelling and punctuation, or even trying to find the perfect way to say something. They are about setting the imagination loose and having FUN by following wherever it may lead - even if it's to a planet made of chocolate pudding or a cannibalistic peanut butter sandwich. (Funny how many kids' stories are about food!)

Pass my name along to any teacher or librarian who might be interested. They can find my email on this blog, or my Facebook page.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Facebook Page

I'm introducing my new Facebook page "Teresa Klepinger, Author and Storylady." I'll be using this page to let people know about Storytime news and author visits and Creative Writing Workshops I'm doing in the area. I'll post on this blog occasionally when I have longer things to talk about, but newsy stuff will be on Facebook. Come on over and check it out!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Workshop Fun!

I had 15 third to sixth graders yesterday for a workshop using my "And then..." stories. I had a blast, and I guess they did too, because almost all of them signed up for next week. Personalities ran the gamut from blank-face-never-say-a-word, to pick-me-pick-me! and the self-described class clown. I had four kids add on to "Disappearing Act," and the dog turned into a tiny puppy, then a pony, then a pony with a dog's head. Following that, there were adventures with marshmallow martians. Then they took turns around their own tables adding on to "Better Run Fast," and I was surprised that at one table, the dinosaur actually didn't eat anyone. Finally, they got to write their own endings to "Going Up." One child's story involved time travel - each floor was a different time,which I thought was a novel idea. Another story had the 29th floor identical to Daniel's own floor, only it was his fantasy dream world - with every gadget he could want, and the refrigerator stocked with all his favorite foods. Another fun idea, except his favorite drink was a caffeine free diet Coke. Hmmm, I'd work on that.

I'm definitely looking forward to next week!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A First For Me!

Before I tell my little story, THANK YOU to Karen Wagner for being a superb oboist and presenter at Symphony Storytime. She had a wonderfully easy and personal way of communicating with the kids. I loved it!

My "first" happened that day. There was a very long line of kids waiting their turn to attempt to get a squawk from the instrument, so I decided to visit with the kids who were trying so hard to be patient. I had noticed one boy who had played with his very loose tooth while he listened to the stories, so I went up to him to ask him to show me his tooth. (He has been a faithful Storytime goer for the last three years.) He showed me how he could flop his front tooth around with his tongue. "That's ready to come out!" I said. "Go ahead and grab it and give it a little tug." He grabbed it, tugged, and it popped right out. The look of shock on his face was priceless! I was so excited to have been the one to witness it, right there at Storytime! Like I said, a first for me!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Superior Parents?

I recently ran across this article titled "Why French Parents Are Superior." Well, I thought, who says? Offended as I was, I decided to read it. I was amazed! I think the title is purposely provocative to grab people like me and get me hooked. It worked.

I love the idea of teaching our children to wait and be patient. I love the idea of meaning what you say. I love the idea of giving your children firm boundaries, but allowing freedom within them.

Please read "Why French Parents Are Superior," and leave a comment telling me what you think.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

So Much Fun!

Many many thanks to Ted Botsford for bringing TWO double basses to Storytime on Wednesday. He played his own beautiful instrument while I read Mole Music by David McPhail, and Rain Talk by Mary Serfozo. These two books are perfect for a stringed instrument. In the first, a mole gets a violin and spends years practicing until he can play beautiful music. In the illustrations, we see that above his underground home, his music is having wonderful, positive influences on the world, but he is unaware. There's a staff of musical notes from real compositions coming out of the tree above his tunnels, and Ted played them - everything from "Twinkle Twinkle" to "Ode to Joy" to "Brahm's Lullaby." In Rain Talk, Ted made rain noises by bouncing his bow on the strings, sliding his fingers up and down the fret board and tapping on the body. Very cool.  He also played a wonderful short piece about a shepherd with his flock. He asked the kids to listen for the part where the shepherd dances, and several kids were excited that they heard it.

All this took only 15 minutes, and I was torn between reading another book and going straight to our "petting zoo" where the kids get to come up and play the half-size bass he brought for them. The group had gotten very squirrely (lots of rug-rolling), so I opted for the petting zoo. I felt a little bad that the story portion was so short, but because the group was so big, and so young, it seemed the best thing to do. We had handed out all 150 tickets to the audience, and I think there had to have been about 75 kids. It took the rest of the hour to give every child a chance to play the bass. Ted (and Monica Hayes, the program director) were wonderfully patient with them.

I hope to see you all next week for Karen Wagner and her oboe!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Symphony Storytimes Start Feb. 1

Please join us Wednesday, February 1 and the next three Wednesdays after that at 1:00pm in the Community Room at the Sherwood Library for some very special Storytimes. First we have the Oregon Symphony's Ted Botsford joining us with his double bass, then Karen Wagner on the oboe, John Cox on the french horn, and Matt McKay on percussion. I promise these will be amazing experiences! Your child probably has very few opportunities to see and hear instruments like these, and even fewer where they get to actually touch and play them. I heard the symphony's principal bassoonist tell how she heard a bassoon played at a program similar to ours when she was 8 years old. That's when she fell in love with the instrument, nagged until she got lessons, then went on to play it professionally. You never know! Our Storytimes could be the start of something big for your child!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Visit From Kaaren Pixton

I discovered Kaaren Pixton's wonderful "Indestructible" books at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators retreat last fall. I knew immediately that they'd be wonderful for Baby Time. I asked the library to get sets for me, and we now have "Mama and Baby" and "Wiggle! March!" Kaaren wanted to visit a Baby Time when she could see her books in the hands (and mouths) of the babies, her "actual customers" as she put it.

We had about 14 babies today, and those books were a definite hit! The babies held them, mouthed them, crumpled them and yes, looked at them for longer than any book I've ever given them. The best part is, all that handling is perfectly okay because these books are tear-proof, chew-proof, sog-proof, non-toxic and completely washable. Can't beat that!

Indestructibles Wiggle! March!

Several of the moms already had a few of the books and couldn't say enough good things about them. I bought a couple to give as welcome gifts to a couple of friends I know who are expecting babies. I think $4.95 is a very good price!

Thanks, Kaaren for the visit, and for your great talent!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Stories

I've posted some stories sent to me by a substitute teacher. See the "And then..." page. Very fun!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Symphony Storytimes Ahead!

Symphony Storytimes will return in February! They were a huge hit last year with parents, kids and me! Each Wednesday in February at the 1:00pm Preschool Storytime we will host a musician from the Oregon Symphony who will tell us about his/her instrument and accompany our stories for the day. After that, each child will have the opportunity to try out the instrument.

Our first week we'll have Ted Botsford on the double bass, followed by Karen Wagner on oboe, John Cox on french horn, then Matt McKay on percussion.

The events are free, but you need to pick up a ticket at the front desk. It's possible we'll have more attendees than we have room for, hence the need to limit the crowd with the tickets.

I hope to see you there!