Friday, October 12, 2012

Golden Moment

Still Pokey, but not so “Puppy”
(P.L.P.: The Senior Years)

Do you remember those Little Golden Books?

Do you wax nostalgic when I mention The Pokey Little Puppy, Scuffy the Tugboat, or The Happy Man and His Dump Truck?

If you have NO IDEA what I’m talking about, then go ask your parents to tell you about that rock you were raised under.

This month, while many are making merry about Vegetarian Awareness, the folks at Little Golden Books are celebrating 70 years of publishing for the preschool set.

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a talk given by Diane Muldrow, the Golden Books Editorial Director. So I put on my reporter hat and brought back some news you can use.

If writing a Golden Book is on your bucket list, Ms. Muldrow says to focus on 2 to 5 year-olds and what is going on in their lives. Write about the construction site down the street or the new baby in the family. In fact, she says she would really like a new baby story (picture book writers – are you listening?).

Also, she highlighted a couple of new Christmas books, so they do not shy away from holiday stories.

Ms. Muldrow suggests that you try your hand at comforting, charming writing – the kind that offers that Golden feeling.

Further, she loves to publish first-time authors, so Golden Books is a great place for rookies.

By the way, here’s a bonus tip – when Ms. Muldrow was a child, her FAVORITE Little Golden Book was Goodbye, Tonsils.

I don’t know about you, but I think I Lost My Appendix in the Great Recession might be right up her alley.

PROMPT: If you’d like to write a Golden Book, then get out this weekend and read 50 of those little wonders. By the time you’re finished, that Golden feeling will be oozing from your pores. Then you’ll be ready to create a read-aloud classic that your great-great grandchildren will one day be clamoring for – those golden puppies stay in print for a long, long time (Cha-CHING!).

By the way, get ready for the fun and funny 2013 release of Diane Muldrow’s own golden adventure – Everything I Need to Know, I learned from a Little Golden Book.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Great Day to Get Happy


If you’re using The Mind’s Elbow to jump-start something creative today, then you’re celebrating World Mental Health Day in just the right way.

Our friends in the world of science have found that expressive writing, poetry, painting, and playing music all help to keep folks sunny and stress-free.

As a former psychologist, I would really, REALLY love for you to be sunny and stress-free EVERY day…

That said, please take note that I DO NOT recommend that you give up your quirky craziness in order to become “normal.”

After all…

If you are always trying to be normal,
you’ll never know how amazing you can be.

~Maya Angelou

But if you sometimes worry that you’re a bit on the nutty side of the food pyramid…

Trust me, you're in good company –

A question that sometimes drives me hazy:

am I or are the others crazy?

~Albert Einstein


And I’ll bet your poetry’s a lot better, too.

PROMPT: Celebrate World Mental Health Day by taking a “health” day just to play! Seriously, this one should be a mandatory international holiday full of Frisbee, Simon says, Twister, Tag, Hide and Seek, Duck Duck Goose…

Meanwhile, here’s a great book that I’m sure would get Maya Angelou’s stamp of approval – Better than Normal: How What Makes you Different Can Make You Exceptional by Dr. Dale Archer.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chocolate Satisfaction

Okay, yesterday I mentioned that 2 out of 3 great discoveries involve chocolate and BAM!

The next thing I know there’s breaking news from the International Culinary Olympics –

Apparently, the gold medal in the single exhibitor category was awarded to a sculpture… made of chocolate.


I think not.

Sure, it may have helped that the figures depicted the Rolling Stones (see it for yourself here), but still –

The chocolaty goodness of that creative connection was not lost on me.

And yet, there’s more –

Did you know that it was NOT a French chef, but the French Painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, who created that little dab of heaven on earth – Mousse au Chocolat?

And writers – get your noggins around these best-sellers:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

and Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel


Chocolate –

It's obviously not just for breakfast anymore.


Sculptors – You know what to do.

Painters – I see mousse in your future.

Writers – Warm up today with a cup of cocoa and a Rolling Stones rewrite – Ain’t too Proud to Beg (for Chocolate), (I Can’t Get No Chocolate) Satisfaction, Get Off of my (Chocolate Mousse) Cloud, Start Me Up (with Chocolate), and, of course, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, but if you try sometime you just might find some Chocolate… and a whole lot of creativity!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Calling All Discoverers!

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny...”

~Isaac Asimov

Ever since Christopher Columbus set off for India and arrived in the Americas instead, folks have been discovering great things by mistake.

Most of you probably know the story of Ruth Wakefield’s cookie revelation of the 1930’s. After finding herself fresh out of baker’s chocolate in the middle of mixing a batch of Butter Drop Do, Ruth chopped up a bar of semi-sweet and tossed it in. The rest is history – I mean, who even bakes a Butter Drop Do these days? Chocolate chips are where it’s at!

Then in 1945, engineer Percy Spencer was messing around with a magnetron when he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted faster than he could say “radar love.” Goodness knows what the beam did to his liver – but no matter, the microwave oven was soon to be one hot item.

Fast-forward to 1992 when the men of a small Welsh village were asked to test a new drug for angina. It was a total failure. However, even though the men still complained of wicked chest pain, they refused to part with their new meds. The researchers suspected that something was up.


Today those angina duds are called Viagra.

PROMPT: Discover some new stories this week the indirect and surprising way – use a free writing technique. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write nonstop. Put down whatever comes into your mind without censoring or editing.

For more information about free writing, check out The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.

AND, since it appears that 2 out of 3 discoveries involve chocolate, make sure you have plenty on hand!