Hazel Intermews “Super Happy Party Bears” Author Marcie Colleen!

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Hello, Everypawdy!

Hope you are having a great week! I met Marcie at her talk on how to write chapter books. Marcie wrote a bunch of chapter books about bears who are super happy and love to party!

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I am super happy to share our intermew!

Hazel Intermews Marcie Colleen!

Hazel: Hi Marcie! Thanks so much for being here! What advice do you have for bright young kitties interested in a writing career?

Marcie: “If you can dream it, you can be it.” Read a lot. Write a lot. Take classes. Attend book events and conferences when you can. And never give up on your dream. It will be hard work. It might take a while. But any dream of yours is truly worth it.

Hazel: Do you have any kitties or sock monkeys in your life?

Marcie: I do not have any kitties, but I do have a sock monkey. His name is Bloois. He is quite mischievous and therefore inspires lots of my stories.

Hazel: What’s your favorite sock monkey story?

Marcie: Bloois loves ceiling fans. He calls them “whirl-a-birds.” And although he is often content sitting on the bed, watching the “whirl-a-bird” spin around and around, one time he decided he wanted to ride it.

He climbed up (sock monkeys are very good at climbing) and hung from one of the fan’s blades. He then signaled one of his other stuffy buddies (Bloois is not an only child) to flick the switch. The fan started up and Bloois flew around and around, holding on tight to the blade of the “whirl-a-bird.” Until…he couldn’t hold on any longer and was flung off like a torpedo.

Luckily a vase of flowers broke his fall. But as he laid there, sopping wet and covered in petals, he was grinning from ear to ear.

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Hazel: What do the Super Happy Party Bears do when they aren’t partying?

Marcie: One might say, they are always partying. They have breakfast parties and lunch parties and snack-time parties and dinner parties. And doughnut preparation parties and “get ready for bed” parties and slumber parties. Every second of the day is reason to party, according to the Super Happy Party Bears. In fact, they even have “party planning” parties to make sure that each party goes off without a hitch!

Hazel: How did you learn to write for kids?

Marcie: Honestly, I read a lot of kids books. I think the best way to learn about writing a certain kind of book is to read widely in that format or genre. When I wanted to learn how to write picture books, I spent years reading every picture book that I could get my hands on. And I did the same to learn how to write chapter books. Read, read, read!

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Hazel: What do you think a character needs in order to resonate with young readers?

Marcie: I try and write characters that are relatable and child-like so that my young readers can see themselves in my characters—even a grumpy porcupine mayor. I mean, who isn’t a little cranky and prickly once in a while? Add a few dashes of humor, a dollop or two of heart, and a whole lot of wacky adventures and readers will be turning pages well into the night (by flashlight, of course) to find out what the character will do next.

Hazel: Why do you think characters are so important to get right in chapter books?

Marcie: Chapter books are often a reader’s first step into independent reading. Therefore, characters in chapter books are like reading ambassadors. They welcome kids into their world to make them laugh, expand their horizons, and take them on exciting adventures. The more engaging a character, the more willing a reader will be to join them on the journey through a book, which leads to another book, and another book, building lifelong readers page by page.

Hazel: What’s the most efficient way you’ve found to take a chapter book from concept to completion?

Marcie: I imagine that the story I am telling is an episode of a cartoon. I outline the story from start to finish, placing chapter breaks where the commercial breaks would be. And then when I write, I visualize the cartoon playing out in my mind. It helps to keep the writing action and dialogue focused, and not rely too much on voiceover-like narration.

Hazel: Wow, what a pawtastic intermew! Thanks again, Marcie!

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You can find the first “Super Happy Party Bears” book here, and pre-order her debut picture book, “Love, Triangle,” here.

Thanks for reading!!

Hazel

About Marcie Colleen

In previous chapters Marcie Colleen has been a teacher, an actress, and a nanny, but now she spends her days writing children’s books! She is the author of THE SUPER HAPPY PARTY BEARS chapter book series with Macmillan/Imprint, as well as LOVE, TRIANGLE, her picture book debut, illustrated by Bob Shea, which will be released October 3, 2017 with Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. She lives with her husband and their mischievous sock monkey in San Diego, California. Visit her at www.thisismarciecolleen.com or on Twitter: @MarcieColleen1.

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The Case of the Missing Cat Food

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After my post-breakfast nap this morning, I returned to my eating place to have some lunch.

And that’s when I discovered that my bowl was empty!

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Completely, utterly empty!

I put my paw in the bowl just to be sure.

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Yep. My food was gone, and so were my hopes of lunch.

Where did it go?

My first suspect was obvious:

Simon! The other cat I live with who sometimes sneaks food from my bowl.

“Did you partake of my sustenance?” I asked.

He swore on his whiskers that it wasn’t him. He was going to have a bite or two during my nap, sure, but by the time he got there, there wasn’t any left.

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Hmm…maybe I was thinking about it all wrong.

I meowed for my hooman and said “hooman! You forgot to feed me today!”

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And he took one look at my bowl and said “I’m not falling for that again!”

I tried to persuade him, but it was no use.

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Then I sat by the window to think.

Where did my food go?

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And then I saw a car parked outside…

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It was the Chipmobile!

That’s right, today was the 22nd! I had invited Blue Chip over today to celebrate his birthday and the autumnal equinox!

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Photo Credit: Blue Chip

He brought me a plate of his own food from home, and I remembered that we had planned on trading cat food at my place before we went shopping at the catnip megamall with all our kitty friends!

We had a great time and got some good deals.

Happy Birthday Blue Chip!!

Hazel’s Book Club: “The True Tails of Baker and Taylor” by Jan Louch, with Lisa Rogak

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Books and cats: that’s a winning combination!

What a sweet joy it is to curl up with a snuggly kitty (or if you are a kitty, like me, to curl up with a warm hooman) and read, connecting with thoughtful writers across space and time from the comfort of your favorite reading spot.

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If you love books, kitties, or both (and especially together), you will adore The True Tails of Baker and Taylor, the now-retired Jan Louch’s memoir about her life as an assistant librarian in a library with the famous eponymous kitty cats.

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In 1983, at the new Douglas County Library in Minden, Nevada, Jan and a co-worker solved the facility’s rodent problem by hiring a pair of Scottish Folds, named for each of the names in the book distribution company, Baker & Taylor.

The cats not only ate lots of nummy mice, but they were also kitties! Visitors loved coming to pet the kitties and watch them do funny cat things, like catching Taylor in his Buddha pose, presumably meditating.

When the cats were photographed as the literal poster children for Baker & Taylor, the library turned into a popular tourist destination, and the Folds became pre-internet feline superstars!

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A lovely tail in a cozy setting, the book also captures the fascinating ability of cats to facilitate hooman communities, a phenomenon not originated, but certainly amplified by 21st century technology such as blogging about your cat or blogging about being a cat.

The story represents a nostalgic slice of offline life. However, even though the internet has considerably changed the way communities form around information and cat appreciation, readers can still recognize the innovation of combining the two in a physical space in an era before they could be combined digitally.

Such spaces can and do still exist today, combining not only books and cats, but cats and other things cat fanciers might like. Cat Cafes, for example, are starting to pop up all over the world. They’re a great way to provide cats a home while also offering an opportunity for hoomans to prepare for the financial and emotional commitment of finding a cat to adopt you.

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So enjoy this book as you would enjoy listening to anyone talk about cats, but I’d also encourage you to think about the timeless power of cats as a CATalyst (pun intended) for inter-specific community.

 

Caturday Intermew with Renegade Parenting Expert, Heather Shumaker!

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Happy Caturday!!

Today I’m so purry to share my intermew with Heather Shumaker, Renegade Parenting Expert, about her book, It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids.

While the book is full of great tips for raising mini-hoomans, you can also learn a lot about raising confident and creative kitties!

Enjoy!

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Hazel: Meows, Heather! Thanks for chatting with me today! What got you interested in writing?

Heather: I’ve been writing and wanting to be a writer since I was four. It’s a lifelong love.

Hazel: What is renegade parenting?

Heather: Renegade parenting means looking at things differently, and questioning standard parenting “truths” we take for granted. For example, “don’t talk to strangers” “share your toys” and “do your homework.” It’s renegade because it goes against the commonly accepted culture, but really renegade parenting is all about “Good, Basic, Universal Child Development Principles That Work.” It’s all backed up in research and is based on a foundation of respect for young children.  Kids have very different needs from adults, and adults don’t always understand that.

Hazel: Where did you get the idea to write about renegade parenting?

Heather: The inspiration came from an unorthodox preschool I attended as a child. My mother also taught there for 40 years. The school helps kids cope with their big feelings and welcomes their play – even rough-and-tumble play like giving kids boxing gloves and letting them get physical. This school, the School for Young Children, is a place where kids feel respected and learn skills that are essential to life: conflict mediation and expressing feelings appropriately.

Hazel: How might renegade parenting be applied to kitties? (If you have kitties or pets this would be a good place to chat about them!)

Heather: I think kitties would like my chapters on rough-and-tumble play.  Some people call it puppy play, but you might prefer “kitty play.”

Hazel: I do!

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Heather: All social and intelligent mammals do it when they’re young – playful wrestling and rolling around.  The more social and intelligent the species, the more they do it. It’s very good for the brain and great for social relationships – developing trust, impulse control, flexibility in thinking, and friendships. Unfortunately, many adult humans forget that and try to stop physical play between kids: “get your hands off each other!”

Hazel: Right! Or paws! What in your eyes is the biggest problem parents don’t know they have?

Heather: Parents don’t realize how afraid they are. This fear causes them to stunt children’s healthy development in so many ways. Fear drives homework assignments in kindergarten. Fear drives loss of recess. Fear keeps kids from playing outside and interacting with the world, taking healthy risks, even experiencing basic emotions like sadness, anger and jealousy. Kids have a lot to learn in the early years, and they learn life best through play and experience.

Hazel: How do you strike a balance between having kids learn on their own and giving them a structure to learn from others?

Heather: For young kids (up to age 8) most learning is done through play. True play has to be child-led and child-initiated. That’s how children process the world. Very little structured learning is needed in these early years, since young children learn through modeling (how to use a fork, say hello, hold a book). In fact, many lessons we try to teach kids don’t work at young ages. For example, we drill the calendar in preschool classrooms despite the fact that human development typically doesn’t develop the capacity to understand long periods of time until age 7. It’s a waste of their time. Kids are desperate for unstructured time when they can think their own thoughts and follow their own play ideas.

Hazel: What are you working on next?

Heather: I’m working on something different.  A ghost story adventure for 8-12 year-olds!

Hazel: Sounds pawesome! Can’t wait to read it! Thanks, Heather!!

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And thank YOU reader for reading!!

Headbonks!

Hazel

Flaky the Snow Cat!!

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Happy Holidays!!

I had a great year, and I’d like to give you something.

The best story I pawed out in 2015: Flaky the Snow Cat!!

You prolly heard me meowing on about it for a while, well that’s because I started last Catmas and then finished in January, because it took me about eleventy mugs of catnip tea to finish, but by that point, I was super caffeinated and it wasn’t Catmas anymore, so I’ve waited all year to share it with you!

I got the idea when I first saw Frosty the Snowman and wondered if you could make snow cats, which it turns out you can (as long as you bring warm Mittens).

Then I thought of Nugget, a lonely black cat who runs away from home to ask Santa for a friend. Along the way, he makes a snow cat, and the snow cat comes to life, and they go all the way to the North Pole, but a bunch of terrible things keep happening to them and then at the end, Nugget dies.

Just kidding! But let me know if the ending makes you cry. I get a kitty treat every time someone tells me that!

Hope you like it!!

1 Cover3 Part 11234567891011121314151617181920212223242526274 Part 21234567891011121314151617181920212223242526272829303132

5 Part 312345678910111213141516171819202122232425262728293031326 Part 41234567891011121314151617181920212223242526272829303132Well, did you like it??

I had so many great tuna cookies making this one. Don’t worry if I’m fat though, I burned them all off and then some chasing my cousin Simon down the stairs and tackling him, which I do every night at 8:00pm.

But the café by my house says they might no longer accept kitty litter as currency… 😦 Do you think you could help meowt?

I’d like to keep making more and better stories for you to read here, where you can just donate whatever you want using the PayPal button below, but if you no has munny, you can still read it and enjoy it anyway. Does that sound good?

Beyond the obvious pounds of catnip I need to stay alert during marathon writing sessions, my main costs are printing, conferences, and art supplies. I’m also saving up for a drawing tablet so I can produce higher-quality purrtoons faster and more frequently.

Any amount of scratch is appreciated!!

For printed work, you can also Shop Hazel at the Hazel Store on Etsy.

Thank mew so much!

A warm holiday headbutt,

Hazel

Christmas Hazel

So…What’s in the Ultimate Hazel?

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Happy Caturday, Everypawdy!!

Whoops, it’s Sunday! Well, it feels like a Caturday. Either way, I hope you’re getting a good chance to catch up on your beauty sleep.

It’s almost my naptime, but first I thought you’d like to know a little bit more about the Ultimate Hazel, now available on Etsy!

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So…What’s in the Ultimate Hazel?

Let me tell you how I got the idea, and why I decided to make them.

After being born in 2014, I started my blog and Facebook page and did a bunch of intermews, which led me to meeting Lynda Barry! She’s a masterful cartoonist and superstar professor at UW-Madison, and getting to meow questions at her has been one of my greatest honors. You can read our excellent chat here.

We hit it off over some catnip tea and tuna cookies, and over the holidays, she helped me finish my first-ever story, Flaky the Snow Cat! I got the idea after seeing Frosty the Snowman and wondering if there were snow cats.

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Flaky the Snow Cat tells the story of Nugget, a lonely black cat who runs away from home to ask Santa for a friend. I was struggling to get the words on paper, since English is my second language (after Cat), so Professor Barry taught me to tell the story with pictures.

The final product includes over 127 images in four separate zines (zines = handmade comic books). You can get the entire Flaky the Snow Cat in your Ultimate Hazel!

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Last spring, I took her Advanced Comics class, where I made Hydrated Tourist Penguin Goes to Paris! (which was purrblished by a local newspaper!) and “Fluffy:” The Cat Who’s Clearly a Snake and No One Notices, both also included in the Ultimate Hazel!

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In March, I was invited to share my work at a local writing conference. When I told my furriend Mary about it, she wrote me a check to help cover the cost of printing. I couldn’t stop purring! For the first time, I felt like a Professional Writer Kitty! To thank her, I printed off every presentable story I had written.

It made for a nice little gift bag! I started printing more of my work and selling them at more conferences throughout the year.

Since it’s the holiday season once again, it feels like a good time to share Flaky the Snow Cat and the Ultimate Hazel (sounds like a band name!) with you, my beloved, kitty-loving furriends.

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Flaky the Snow Cat is pretty expensive to print in color, so that is why it costs $20. I just use my own printer, and color ink is so ‘spensive!! If you do happen to know of a cheaper way to print in color, let me know and I will send you an Ultimate Hazel for free! All of the professional printing services in my area ask for around 60 cents per page, which means I would have to charge almost 30 bucks JUST for Flaky the Snow Cat, and that’s just too much.

The Ultimate Hazel represents both a look back towards all the great work I learned how to make in 2015 while raising funds to produce more and even better work in 2016. Any proceeds that do not cover printing will help cover the cost of art supplies, table fees for conferences, and catnip and kitty snacks!

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You can also make a donation through PayPal now!

Thank you for supporting my kitty art and keeping me well-snacked! They make me feel better after the vacuum.

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However, if you’d like to read some Hazel Comics, but aren’t sure if you can afford the printed versions, just send me an e-mail at hazelfluffypants@gmail.com and I’d be happy to send you a digital version for free.

Happy Holidays!!

Love,

Hazel Fluffypants

Writer Kitty

Caturday Intermew with Homer the Freelance Cat!

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Happy Caturday!

I am so purry to share an intermew today with my new friend Homer! Isn’t he a cutie?? You can follow his pawtastic freelance resources at The Freelancer Society’s website.

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Hazel: Meows, Homer! Thanks for stopping by! How did you meet your human?

Homer: I met my human a few years ago in Lethbridge – that’s in Canada. I had been wandering around getting in fights and going hungry, so a nice lady brought me to my person so she could take care of me. At first she said she would help me get back on my feet and then find me a new home, but eventually I charmed her into letting me stay full time!

Hazel: Oh, that’s so cute! What advice do you have for any bright young kittens considering freelance work?

Homer: For kittens looking to get into the freelance writing business, I say this: don’t lose sight of your goals. If you want to be a feature writer but all you can find right now is work doing website copy, then do the work you have but don’t forget what you really want! Keep trying and it will happen.

Hazel: What kind of writing do you do, and how did you get started?

Homer: I do lots of different types of writing, from magazine articles to short stories to brochures. I got started a few years ago when I knew I just couldn’t deal with getting up early every morning and working for someone else, doing something boring. I answered a few Craigslist ads, posted a few of my own, and was into sales and technical writing in a few months.

Hazel: What’s your favorite freelance work?

Homer: My favorite freelance work is writing about food. I used to be kind of a chubby guy because of my keen interest in gravy, but these days I’ve slimmed down and learned to enjoy my lunch, dinner, breakfast and snacks without overeating. Still, when I delve into a juicy article about food history, I start to salivate…

Hazel: Ooh, I like food 😮 What are you currently working on?

Homer: I am currently working on a few things, but my special project is a short fiction series for Kindle – I’d give you links but it’s just a little bit too naughty 😉

Hazel: What is your most favorite thing you’ve written?

Homer: Most of my favourite pieces are somewhat controversial – I’m not the kind of cat to shy away from topics that people don’t agree on. One that sticks out to me is “Vaccinate Not Exterminate: UK Badger Cull Protest.” The story involved animal welfare, of which, of course, I am a huge advocate, and it was a story that affected a lot of my friends in the UK who were out on the streets and in the fields protecting badgers against the cull. I think they appreciated being given a voice!

Hazel: Good for you! If you could say only one thing to a new or existing follower, what would you like them to know?

Homer: To my followers: This industry takes a lot of courage, but we aren’t all born with it. If you are a scared and sensitive furrball like I used to be, then “fake it ’til you make it.” Pretend you are strong, and that criticism doesn’t hurt, and eventually it will be true!

Hazel: “Eventually it will be true,” I like that! Thanks, Homer! What a great intermew.

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And thank YOU reader for reading!

A cordial purr,

Hazel