April 03, 2021

Hi all,

Though not back in business fully quite yet, there's a lovely contest called Spring Fling that I love to participate in. Here's where you can read more about it: 

https://ciaraoneal.weebly.com/spring-fling-kidlit-contest  

Last year, my entry made the winners' list! The idea is to find a gif that I can write a 150 word story about. Needless to say, that is a challenge for a wordy gal like me. 😁So, without further ado, here's my submission for the 2021 Spring Fling.





Carlisle and the Butterflies



Carlisle lived on the edge of a river and loved to lay in the cool mud watching for food. 


He is a Spectacled Caiman and like all alligators, Carlisle snap-snap-snapped up any meal that wandered by. There’s a lot to eat in the Amazon, if you’re a Caiman and this Caiman was always hungry. 


But when Carlisle hissed and snapped his pointy white teeth at tasty morsels, his eyes swam with tears and his vision blurred. Many times he jumped at a log instead of the silvery fish that had just been there. Carlisle was pretty hungry.


One sunny afternoon a big butterfly and her friends fluttered around Carlisle’s head. When they saw the shiny pools of water around his eyes, the butterflies sip-sip-sipped. Suddenly Carlisle could see clearly, and just then he caught sight of lunch. Fluttery butterflies became Carlisle’s spectacles and thirsty butterflies loved him.




(Author’s Note: Butterflies and bees really do drink the tears of Caimans! The vibration of alligators' sinuses when they snap their jaws and hiss causes their eyes to water a lot. Butterflies and bees need salt and minerals to live, and alligator tears are much closer than the ocean that is far far away from the Amazon. If you ever taste your own tears, they will taste a little bit salty. It is called “symbiosis” when creatures help each other naturally.)


June 14, 2020

PLEASE WEAR HARD HATS & PROTECTIVE GEAR - UNDER CONSTRUCTION



Welcome to all you new visitors, and welcome back to all of you that have visited before! The Cottage has been quite lonesome for some time now, but we are breathing new life into it. Life got a bit busy with managing teens, wrangling the usual mob of squirrels, weathering the pandemic and the unemployment that added some strain, but we are home again, thank goodness. The View From Toad Cottage was created when my daughters came home, and began as a sort of journal type blog about my/our journey. Since then I have gotten serious about my career as an author, and The Cottage must reflect that. So, out with the old furniture and in with the new! The color palette at The Cottage has changed and fresh new paint is being applied to all the rooms. Windows have been thrown open and fresh air abounds. Excitement reigns here at Toad Cottage. Can't wait to invite you all in officially!

Toad Cottage as it was initially built:
Serviceable, cozy and picturesque.

Toad Cottage after the renovation:
Much more room, still cozy and picturesque, but with lots more possibilities!
Here are some of the improvements we're making to the property...

The serialized Tales Of Hank The Hedgehog
Writers' Challenges
Bimonthly Writers' Soirees
Kidlit Book Reviews
Author interviews
Posts on  topics that I find fascinating...
and much more to tickle your fancy whether you are young or not, a writer and/or reader, a lover of children's literature, or just passing the time.

*** I am hoping that the renovations will be complete soon. Since I obviously have been a crow in a former life and am always attracted to the next shiny thing, there may be  more renovations in store for Toad Cottage. Keep watching and visiting for news on when we'll be having a house warming party. 😉 (Sssshhh... don't tell anyone, but we just might even be moving to our very own website!)


The Future Toad Cottage?


April 09, 2020

UNDER RENOVATION

This Blog is currently under renovation with new and exciting content to come! Join us soon for new contests, writing challenges for all ages, book reviews, interviews and a series of stories for children.

Meanwhile, please enjoy this rainbow. 😊




October 31, 2019

Halloweensie Contest 2019

Image result for photos of halloween moon

Here we are again! Time has completely flown by since last year's Halloweensie and I'm barely making the deadline. The rules are that the entry must be no more than 100 words and include trick, cobweb and potion.

You can find out all the deets at https://susannahill.com/category/halloweensie-contest/

So, without further ado........ drumroll please........., here is my 2019 entry!
Happy Halloween(sie)!


The Magic of Glynnis McDoo

A Halloween Story of 93 words


Gather round, little goblins, and I'll tell you
about the midnight ride of Glynnis McDoo.
You'll guess, of course
that she rode on a horse,
a theory that I will undo.

That inky night when the moon was high,
bats circled above in the velvety sky.
She rubbed on some lotion,
It turned out to be potion
dropped by a witch swooping by.

Cobwebs covered the lights on the street,
Glynnis wondered, trick or a treat?
She hopped on a broom,
flew right out of the room,
and her Halloween night was complete!


Image result for pictures of a jack o'lantern

July 13, 2019

Image result for under construction sign
So, FINALLY after what turns out to be several years - I am redoing the blog! Contain your applause and cheers..... ;)

The first of September will bring a new and exciting phase for Toad Cottage. I'll be offering stories, interesting snippets about life in these tenuous times, instruction on writing/querying/publishing, parenting and specifically parenting children of color, and other fascinating content. Hope you'll come back then. I'm planning quite a soiree for the kickoff!

November 15, 2018

You Are Enough

Well, hello readers and long time no see! Here at Toad Cottage, the view was obstructed for a bit but the windows have been cleaned and the view is once again spectacular.

Today I’m participating in the writing contest: You Are Enough, hosted by Positive Writer. You can get the 411 here - Contest

                                  YOU ARE ENOUGH

     Decide who you want to be and be that. I adapted that motto from my favorite quote from one of my favorite movies “Dead Again”. Of course, that’s my motto now and I try to hold on to it even in the face of discouragement and self doubt. Have you ever felt like you’re an impostor? Like you’re not quite good enough? Like you can’t possibly be good enough at what you love to do? Okay, don’t look away and pretend that you don’t ever think those things. I know I do and I'm guessing that every other creative person does too.

     Elizabeth George, best selling author, wrote in her journal after publishing TWELVE BEST SELLERS: “I’m reading John Le Carre’s The Constant Gardener right now. Frankly, it’s making me feel more inadequate than I’ve felt in a long time.” So you see, even the really good ones suffer from self doubt.

     Those of us who write know that we are driven by that inner electric spark of creativity. We love being able to access that universal fountain of expression, and to translate it onto paper is like breathing. But we are all products of our history and every experience - good OR bad - helps to form our art. Every time a parent tells us that we are far too dramatic, each time a teacher told us that we weren't living up to our potential, every time a story or joke we told our friends fell flat... every single moment that something negative happened builds a part of us just as the wonderful sparkling moments do. It's a journey, and we have to embrace those times equally. Sounds easy, right? HAH! Nope, in fact it's really really really challenging to overcome what others try to tell you that you are or should be.

     "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?" - Marianne Williamson

     It's true that writing and publishing are two of the most challenging paths, and both are fraught with all kinds of negatives, hurdles, disappointments and downright torture! If we choose these paths, we must speak kindly to ourselves; as kindly as we would to someone else needing our support. If we don't nurture ourselves, our confidence wavers and 90% of creative success is self confidence!

     "Argue for your limitations and, sure enough, they're yours." - Richard Bach

     As you can probably see, I firmly believe that the antidote for wavering confidence is reading quotes from those who have gone before us. It's through their words that our spirit is strengthened. So, when that little person inside you that remembers all the times you didn't feel good enough pipes up and asks you why you should be able to finish that manuscript, or publish that book, or earn a great living through your writing - ask it instead 'Why shouldn't you?' And then.....

*  Each morning when you get up, tell yourself that yesterday does not define you. Every morning is the first day of your new life.

*  Learn all you can about writing, researching, writing query letters, and even pitching your ideas. Go to conferences, take classes and workshops, chat with other writers. There are many online workshops and webinars that don't cost a thing and are fabulously inspiring/informative so take them. Knowledge is power.

*  Make sure you look often at your successes whether it's a winning story, an award, an article you may have had published, or even just a darned good letter. Concentrate on the sunny side.

*  Practice every day. Some say that a writer has to write every day, but I don't subscribe to that. If you write, you're a writer. So write, whether it's hourly, daily, weekly or biweekly. Write, write, and write some more. If there's a day when you can't get started, write your name. Then write a sentence. Then a paragraph. I tell my writing students that everyone can write. If you can talk, you can tell a story. If you can tell a story, you can write a story. So, just write.

*  Stay connected to a community. I am constantly buoyed by my writing "peeps". When I'm down, they lift me up and when one of them is down, I am blessed to lift them up. Loneliness is a downward spiral, so take comfort in commiserating with your Village. Also share your work with other writers. While this part is pretty hard, it can be quite confidence building. The support and encouragement of other creative minds is very inspiring.

*  Read. Read anything and everything, but read everything you can in the genre and style you want to write. Libraries are magical places.

*  Write something. Start a project and finish it. It doesn't have to be great because nothing is ever perfect, but finishing something is very satisfying.

      And finally, be your own cheerleader. Let no one define you but you. Now, go write. ❤❤❤


September 03, 2017

You've Got To Be Carefully Taught

In the turmoil left by the recent murders of people of color in the United States, hate crimes and racially/culturally motivated violence, the lyrics for a song from the movie South Pacific really ring true.

You've Go To Be Carefully Taught

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!