Saturday 27 April 2013

Fan Mail: Um, About Your Dragon.

As a writer of dragon books for children, I understand that a dragon character can become as real to the reader as he is to me.  When this happen, the dragon character seems to get a life of his own, and strange things can happen.

Snarl is a dragon. He is a secondary character in my children book series, The Pen Pieyu Adventures. I quite love Snarls and he is usually a well behaved and lovable dragon.

Apparently, Snarls gets into his own mischief outside of the books he is in.

The readers of this blog will already be familiar with Snarls and some of the antics he has been up to. The only way I know of these instances is by the fan mail (or maybe in this case it's called non-fan mail) I receives from someone called "Anonymous".

Snarls visits "Anonymous" on occasion, and "Anonymous" writes me to tell me about the newest, um . . . adventure.

Snarls on his way to visit Anonymous? Not sure.
Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird

Here is the latest letter from Anonymous:

Dear author person,

I do not remember much, but the smoke is finally beginning to clear out of the building and hopefully soon out of my apartment. No one in my building has been talking to me. 

Snarls bragged about his fire-making capabilities and that he was a friend of mine. Now they blame me for the smoke-filled apartments they currently reside in. Management is looking the other way. They do not want to explain on television, or even in the local paper no one reads, how a dragon got into one of their apartments or that dragons still exist.

Tell Snarls to stop picking his nose. It is quite disturbing when fires shoot out. He's trying to gross me out while burning me down.

Sending your dragon back home. He is too much trouble!


Well gosh, Anonymous, I am truly sorry for the troubles my dragon causes you. He does not do these kinds of nasty things at home. I think this may just be the rebellion of his youth--he is only three, you know.

I hope you will not want monetary compensation for the damages he has done. You see, I am a struggling writer and cannot pay you with money.

I can, although, order him to go back and clean up the mess. Should he bring his pajamas? Will it take more than a day? Can he stay at your place while he cleans up the mess? Do you have kitties? He likes to lick kitties!

As soon as he arrives home, I will send my dragon back over there A.S.A.P.

The Author
This is Snarls when he is at home. Seems innocent enough, right?
Illustration by Samantha Kickingbird

For more information about Snarls and the other characters of book one, Sir Princess Petra - The Pen Pieyu Adventures, visit:

Book two, Sir Princess Petra's Talent - The Pen Pieyu Adventures, forthcoming soon.

Saturday 20 April 2013

Yes, You Can Create That!

Too often the voice within us says, "No, I couldn't possibly do that."

 All of us are capable of creating wonderful magic in the arts, whether it be in painting, literature, music or dance.

And to prove the point.

I was asked to give a watercolor art lesson to twenty, eight-year-old children in one of our local schools. When I showed the students what our project would be about, creating Yupo art and then making a giant bouquet of flowers for a display, most of the children replied; "We can't do that."

Yupo art demo by Diane M. Robinson

I assured them they can do it, and with some                    practice and learning the techniques, we will achieve
this goal today. The first part of the project was to learn about mixing colors to make new colors, then to make twenty 8 x 10 Yupo pictures in bright colors like this. These will be cut out to resemble flowers.

Yupo art demo by Diane M. Robinson

The second part of the project was to create twenty Yupo picutres (8 x 10) in browns and greens like this. These will be cut out to resemble stems and leaves.

Art project with artist, Diane M. Robinson,
with lots of help from grade 2 teacher, Mrs Larochelle,
and student teacher, Dezi Warholik.
St. Paul Elementary School
April 19, 2013

I think the project turned out fantastic. I am so proud of these kids for their willingness to learn, following directions, and realizing that, "Yes, we can do that!"
I'm proud of you, children!

My mission in life, with teaching art and with my writing, is to inspire children so that they see their potential to create and do wonderful things. I hope I've convinced them with this project.

Visit my author's website at:

As we worked on the project, the children realized they could create this wonderful art. This is their final project for the Earth Day display.

Saturday 13 April 2013

The Woes Of Being An Author.

Writing children's books can be a frustrating business. Not only because of all the competition in getting a contract in the first place, and the intense marketing efforts the author must be willing to work on with a new book, but also because of the delays that can come with publishing the book. Don't get me wrong, I love being an author, it's just all the frustrating stuff I don't care for.

Book two, Sir Princess Petra's Talent - The Pen Pieyu Adventures, coming soon and three months behind schedule, and here's why.

Sir Princess Petra's Talent by Diane Mae Robinson.
Illustrations and cover art by Samantha Kickingbird.

The production of a children's chapter book takes many months, even up to a year or more. Signing the contract is by far the easiest part.

Once the book get to the editing phase (two to three months after signing the contract), the editor and writer work at fine tuning the text.  The editor cannot tell the writer what to write, only suggest what has to be clarified or re-vamped. With both of my books, this phase took over two months; a lot of re-writing, much more conversing with the editor, and more re-writing. I am a big fan of editing as it does make the final story so much better. But really, it is a hair-pulling-out event on the writer's part.

The next step is the illustration phase. This stage may take the illustrator a month or more to create the illustrations.The writer doesn't have much of an idea what the illustrations will be as the illustrator is the professional that works for the publishing company and knows what scenes to illustrate and where the art will  be placed in the book so that each illustration enhances the text.  So when the author finally gets the illustrations, it is an amazing moment.

Next is the layout stage. The book is made into a "book dummy" in the form of a pdf. The author's job is to go over everything in the pdf with a fine-tuned comb: illustration placement, page breaks, front and back matter, and one final chance to check for grammar or punctuation mistakes. This phase should take a month or so.

So, at the pdf layout stage is where all the snags of book two production get chaotic. First of all, there was a new layout guy working for the publisher. For some reason, he didn't get the notice that this was a series and the book size and font should be the same as book one. Back to a new layout.

One month later, at the second layout, the fonts and size of the book are corrected, but because of the font size change, some of the illustrations and text don't match, and a couple other small corrections with the text need correction. Back to a new layout.

One month later, at the third layout and proof, (when the book actual gets printed for the author's approval only) the text is corrected, but not the illustration placement. Back to new layout.

This last stage has been troublesome, and it will have put the book behind schedule by at least three months. 

I have talked with other authors who have suffered the woes of publishing mishaps. It doesn't happen often but it does happen, and there's not much the writer can do about it. I understand that publishers are busy people with hundreds if not thousands of books to deal with, but, like I said, it can be a frustrating business.

Visit my author's website at:

Saturday 6 April 2013

The Ridiculous World of 'Whom'?

Personally, I think the word whom should be demoted just like the planet Pluto. But since whom is a word we have to deal with, I will try to simply explain its correct use.


The difference between whom and who:  Both whom and who are pronouns. 'Who is used as the subject of a sentence or phrase to indicate who is doing something. 'Whom' is used as the object of a verb to indicate who has something done to it.

                 Who = Subject = He/She
                 Whom = Object = Him/Her

Often a preposition (by, for, in, with, at, etc.) comes before 'whom', but not always. So in deciding which, 'who' or 'whom, is correct, ask the question: 

Who is doing what to whom?

The following examples should make this easier to follow.

1.  Who do you consider the best dragon-book character?
                     Should it be who or whom?

Figure it out by turning the sentence around and replacing the who or whom with he or him. If he is wrong, so is who. If him is wrong, so is whom.

      Do you consider him the best dragon-book character?
      Do you consider he the best dragon-book character? 

Since him is correct, whom is also correct.
      Whom do you consider the best dragon-book character? 

2.  It was Snarls, the dragon, who starred in that book.
                     Should it be who or whom?

Figure it out by turning the sentence around and replacing the who or whom with he or him. If he is wrong, so is who. If him is wrong, so is whom.

                          He starred in that book.
                          Him starred in that book.

Since he is correct, who is also correct.
        It was Snarls, the dragon, who starred in that book. 

Here are some sentences for you to test your new who/who knowledge. Answers at the bottom of the post.

1.   Nobody knows who/whom will get the staring role.

2.   Nobody knows who/whom we will choose for the staring role.

3.   Please point out the actor who/whom you met today.

4.   Snarls, who/whom, was the original dragon character in that  series, now lives at Longstride Castle.

5.  Send the invitational scrolls to whoever/whomever know Snarls.

1. who
2. whom
3. whom
4. who
5. whoever

Just remember the simple little rule of he/she vs. him/her, and the problematic who/whom should become easier to solve.

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copyright, Diane Mae Robinson, 2013