Saturday, 9 December 2017

Christmas Cards, Anyone?

A few years ago, Mom started a new tradition of making Christmas cards for the entire family—even for the cousins we haven't seen in years. I get it, the personal touch is so much better than just sending an email (even though we call most of the family on Christmas morning too) but I'm beginning to think she's overestimated our craft skills.

One year, we made these Rudolph cards using our fingerprints.

They were fun—and easy!

Next up were these cards, which aren't quite as easy as you think. Mom dug out the ruler to make sure the ribbon was in THE EXACT MIDDLE of the card.

But, we got through it, and even Grandma said we made perfect little bows.  (She has to say that though—she's Grandma!)

I tried to convince my parents that we should just have our family photo taken—better yet, I would set up the camera and take the shot myself. But no...Mom isn't having it. She has a "thing" for penguins this year, so we're making these...

Cute, right? And also very very hard. I mean, we have to make TWO DOZEN of these Mom has already dug out the craft supplies. Which means I need to start cutting and gluing and painting, oh my!

If you want to join my "pain" for the day, here's the tutorial on how to make the cards. Time to get crafting.

Gotta jet! See you next week.

~ Chase Superman Duffy 

Friday, 1 December 2017

Tis The Season

For kindness.

Sometimes it's easy to forget that when you're jostling for position in a long line, trudging through snow or slipping across ice, or when you're scrounging for nickels to pay for that last Christmas present. The season of holiday lights, hot chocolate, and family gathered around the table can also be very stressful.

So this year—like last—I'm making a list...of ways I can spread a little kindness this season. Little things *I* can do to make it easier on someone else—my family, my friends, even strangers. The world needs kindness. And this year, I'm going to do my part.

Here are a few ideas I had:

  • Bake cookies (with Grandma) and drop a batch off at the local senior's home—or maybe the police station, fire station, or hospital. Retailers aren't the only ones working extra hard over the holiday season. 
  • Shovel the neighbour's walk—or for someone else on my street. The weather man says we're in for heavy snowfall this month. That's definitely one way I can help. 
  • Buy hot chocolate for the person behind me in the coffee shop line. 
  • Take my sister ice skating.
  • Help my neighbour put up his Christmas lights. Obviously I won't be climbing on the roof or any ladders, but I can arrange the light-up snowmen and deer on the lawn!
  • Smile! It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised what a genuine smile can do during this stressful time of year. 
  • Volunteer to wrap presents for local seniors or maybe the children's wing at the hospital. 
  • Leave a Christmas card for the mailman in the mail box. 
  • Pick up trash at a park and throw it in the garbage.
  • Donate some of extra toys, books, or clothes. 

That's not a bad list. Have things to add? Great—we can all brainstorm together and come up with the BEST list. Share your Random Acts of Holiday Kindness in the comments so we can keep the ideas coming.

Gotta Jet! I’m going to start on this list this weekend. See you next Friday!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 30 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 30 ~ The End!

I did it.

I. Did. It!

5,000 words in 30 days—my first ever successful NaNoWriMo challenge. My story about a friendly ghost and a young boy he makes friends with has a beginning, a middle, and an END. The end.

Oh I know that NaNoWriMo is technically about completing 50,000 words in 30 days (and when I get older, I'm totally going to try that), but 5,000 words is a BIG deal. You can look back at my journey this month starting here, but what really matters is that I finished.

And now, the real work begins.

I'm going to take a few days to celebrate my personal victory. I'll buy those books and a new notebook. And then, I'm going to start revisions on my story. It's not official, but I'm making December MY month to make this story shine...because in the New Year, I plan to publish. Somehow.

Even if you didn't hit your word count goal, congratulations—every word you wrote is more than you had before you started. Don't stop now. I don't plan to, and you shouldn't either. The only way to get better at writing—or anything—is to keep practicing.

I'll be back to my regular weekly blogs starting tomorrow....but today? Today I'm going celebrate.

Gotta jet! May the words be with you today...and always.

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 29 ~ The End (Almost)

Eeep! I am 100 words from THE END of my story.

One hundred words from successfully completing my NaNoWriMo challenge. For the first time in the four years I've tried it.

It's not a perfect story. It has flaws. It will need a lot—a lot!—of work. But I am so excited about the finish line that I got up EXTRA early to carve out another 50 words so that I could focus on those last 100. Well, 98, because I fully intend to use THE END as my last two words.

Which means, it will be the final milestone celebration for this part of the challenge.

Throughout the month, I've celebrated each major accomplishment. I bought myself a new Spiderman comic. I spent an entire day reading when I should have been writing or running. And when I hit the 4,000-word mark, I indulged in a pumpkin spice hot chocolate.

So what will I do tomorrow?

GO TO THE BOOK STORE, of course! As a way of congratulating myself for completing my very first NaNoWriMo challenge, I am going to buy myself a new novel. Maybe two. And, I'm getting a new notebook.

And as if that wasn't enough, my mom says Grandma is making me my own chocolate zucchini loaf. Obviously I'll share (even though she makes the best chocolate zucchini loaf in the world), but it's just really cool that she thought of it!

What will you do to celebrate? Hey, if you want to share your story with me, I'll enter you in a draw to win a classroom (or personal) set of the Superman Duffy books.

Gotta jet! Good luck with those final words...

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,900

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 28 ~ Publishing Your Work

Hello, fellow scribers!

We are on the REAL homestretch now—just two days until NaNoWriMo officially ends, and I am feeling very optimistic that I can hit my target goal of 5,000 words in 30 days. But...then what?

Of course I know my story will need to go through revisions. Probably a few of them, and not just for spelling and grammar mistakes. I'll be looking for character development, and whether the story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. I'll check my description and sentence structure. A major overhaul is probably required.

But once I do ALL OF THAT...then what?

I've been doing some research on publishing options for young people, and I came up with a few ideas I thought I'd share to keep you motivated. It's impressive—amazing!—even to finish a story, whether it's 5,000 or 50,000 words—but how cool would it be to publish that story? (Check out this list of published books that were written during NaNoWriMo—you've probably seen some of them at the book store or library!)

If you're entering this contest from CBC books, you won't have much time for editing—though, you only have to worry about the first page for now. There are probably other contests you can enter too. Try doing a Google search and see what comes up. Often, these contests have cash prizes, and who couldn't do with a little extra money?

Self publishing is also an option. For me, that might mean publishing my story on this blog. (Hey! If you want to publish YOUR short story on the blog, send it to me via email and I might run it here...maybe your whole class wrote a story together? That would be cool!)

You could also Google "publishing options for young people" or something similar. When I did, I found this list of magazines that take short stories from kids. There are probably many more.

I know, it's a little too soon to start thinking about publishing when your first draft isn't even finished. But for me, the idea that I could get published is what's powering me through the last 300 words. What is motivating you?

Gotta jet! May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,700

Monday, 27 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 27 ~ Monday Motivation

Three days.

That's it. We are literally on the final countdown of NaNoWriMo, and as of this morning, I have exactly 4,500 words. I'm on track to finish—but I'm looking at a very busy week in school.

So how will I—and maybe you—cross the finish line?

You just do.

I know that sounds too simple, but the truth is, I can't possibly come THIS far and give up. Not with 500 words to go. Not with an ending that's begging to be written. Milestones to be celebrated. A NaNoWriMo "I finished" badge to collect.

You can't give up either.

I love this quote from author William Faulkner.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a writer—but throughout November, I have been writing. In three more days, I'll have a finished short story. I will have written.

That might just be the motivation I need to carry me through to the end. What about you?

Gotta jet! May the words be with you!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Sunday, 26 November 2017

NaNoWriMo: Day 26 ~ Thick Skin

Art is subjective.

Whether someone likes a painting, a poem, or even a sculpture is based on their personal opinion — and the most important thing I’ve learned is that you’re never going to make everyone happy. Take my short story, for example.

I read it to my sister last night, and she gripped the side of the couch at the scary parts, gasped when I thought she would, and even cried—and I'm not even done yet. But then I read the same story to my friend Sophie, and she wasn't as responsive. She said it wasn't scary enough, and when I teared up reading it aloud, she said I was "too soft."

At first, I was kind of upset. I've been working on this story for 25 days—which is a record for me—and of course I want everyone to love it. Not everyone will. In fact, I remember what one author once told me when she came to our school for a talk—when you start sharing your work with the public, you need to develop a thick skin.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to have people read and edit your writing if you want to get better, but as long as the criticism is constructive (and not mean), then take advantage of the feedback to learn how you can improve.

Still, I know it’s hard seeing all of those “red edits” all over your writing. When I’m asked to give feedback on some writing, I use a green pen — green for growth. It looks a lot less harsh! Maybe give that a try?

Gotta jet! May the words be in your favour!

~ Chase Superman Duffy

Word Count: 4,400