Tag Archives: limericks

halloween limerick

I’ve always enjoyed pumpkin carving – I used to do it as a child and loved that moment when the candles were lit, the lights went out and your artwork came to life!

My sons now love making them too. The first year we tried them we cut the classic grinning faces but then a couple of years ago I bought a pumpkin carving kit from the supermarket (it came with special little tools and a booklet of designs) and we’ve never looked back.

halloween pumpkins

I have to admit I love these ones and they look much more complicated than they actually were to make- the kits are so easy to use! My 8-year-old carved the witch one mostly by himself with only a little help, my 6-year-old made the grinning bat one (although he mostly did some rather over-zealous scraping out of innards rather than the actual cut out) and my toddler carved the spider himself. I didn’t help at all *ahem*. We had great fun doing it and we even made a rather tasty pumpkin soup afterwards, so I felt super-halloween-smug.

Limerick addict that I am, I then felt compelled to write a little something:

Pumpkins look great on a ledge
But ensure they’re away from the edge
Lest a nudge from a breeze
A cough or a sneeze
Turns your art into – SPLAT – roasted veg.

Happy Halloween!

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#NationalPoetryDay

It’s #NationalPoetryDay! As a lover of poetry and a huge fan of limericks I didn’t feel I could let this day pass without posting something.
live like a poet

I think limericks are an often-overlooked form of poetry and I’m currently working on a collection of my own which I plan to self-publish sometime next year. It’s going to be for kids so right now I’m researching illustrators – very exciting!

Anyway, I’m keeping lots of my limericks to myself at the moment (rather than posting them on the blog) but I thought I’d share a couple that are completely unrelated to the theme of the collection (and indeed each other). The first is one I wrote for the Limerick Nation anthology published by Iron Press last year. Four of my limericks were included in the anthology – this wasn’t one of them but I’ve always rather liked it nonetheless.

A pianist from Northumberland
Refused to perform in a cummerbund;
He said he felt funny
With a sash round his tummy
And looks-wise the thing made his bum rotund.

I also recently wrote this limerick for my Harry Potter obsessed son (for the uninitiated, the ‘Hogwarts Express’ is the train that runs from platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry):

One day on the Hogwarts Express
Harry said to his friends, “I confess
These trousers are itchy
They scratch and restrict me
From now on… I’m wearing a dress!”

Good for Harry, I say.

And now I’m off to live like a poet… which involves picking kids up and making tea.

Prose for Thought

about time – #WhatImWriting

I was hoping to have something exciting or proactive to report for #WhatImWriting this week and also to have written a post full of useful advice gleaned from the Writers Festival two weeks ago. But neither of those things have come about.

Why?

station clock

Time – or not having of nearly enough of it. Towards the end of the summer I was excited about the boys going back to school because I’ve always had more time to write during term time. I somehow forgot though, that this was almost entirely during my toddler’s nap time and that he’d dropped his nap just before the holidays began. So, since early September the house may have been quieter during the day but I’ve still had a small person to entertain! My golden two hours of writing time has gone.

So my plan to submit my picture books to agents has yet to materialise, I’m still not quite ready to send my limericks to beta readers, I’ve not been able to research self-publishing much and the blog has been mostly tumbleweed.

Still, as is always the case with writers, my brain has been whirring and I’ve had a few exciting ideas that could move things forward a bit faster with my limerick book. Only a teeny bit faster, but it still counts, right?

I’ve also been looking at picture books on my kindle just to see what’s out there. I’d previously written off the idea of any kindle sales at all in the kids book market but now I’m not so sure it’s completely impossible. It wouldn’t work as the only place to sell my limericks (by any stretch of the imagination), but as a way of bringing exposure to the actual, physical book I think there’s a chance it could help. I’m keen to research more.

I’ve also – kind of on the back of a blog post in which I shared my limerick and story out-takes – been wondering about putting together a collection of limericks for grownups too. That way I can write about drugs and scrotums to my hearts content!

All these lines of thought may make you realise I’m also feeling more positive again about the idea of self-publishing. I was feeling a little overwhelmed after the Writing Festival but now I figure I’ve got nothing at all to lose from submitting to Matador (who’ve already said they’d be happy to work with me) and getting quotes for various services they can offer. Getting a ball-park figure from an illustrator would certainly be useful, as would finding out more about all the potential costs involved in producing and distributing a book.

So I’m going to do that. And I’m also going to submit my first picture book to agents and continue with my research in all areas. I can’t promise I’ll have done it by next week but it will get done soon. I’ll get there.

Just as long as I can find the time. ;)

Writing Bubble

catch up – #WhatImWriting

September is here, the kids have gone back to school and – woo hoo! – #WhatImWriting is back!

After a summer without any of these sorts of writing posts I think a good catch-up post is in order… the problem is, my head is all over the place at the moment. Not in a bad way, but the summer was really full-on with all three boys at home, then the older two went back to school in the middle of last week and before I’d really had time to breathe I was off to York for a (fabulous) weekend at the Festival of Writing. I’m freshly returned from that and my head feels like it’s full to bursting with everything I’ve heard and learnt and with all the conversations I had with so many lovely people. I feel like I haven’t had proper time to think since July!

book spiral

So. This post is likely to be less of a perfectly-honed, shiny gem of a post and more of a roughly-hewn, chunk-out-of-a-limestone-cliff, sort of a thing. But maybe if I write it it will get me closer to working out where I am with my writing and what is next.

Right.

Um.

Ok, I’ll start with my limericks… in fact, wait a sec…. I’ll do this in an organised manner:

1) Limericks

I’ve been writing limericks for my blog for a couple of years, and have been wondering for a while now about publishing some in a book of some sort. I did have some published by Iron Press last year but I’m itching to do something a bit more substantial. Over the last few months a plan has started to take shape and I’ve been working on creating a limerick anthology for kids which I intend to have illustrated and then self-publish.

This summer I’ve been working towards this goal and have snatched every chance I can to write and edit limericks. I’m pleased to say I’ve nearly completed the collection. My plan is (or was) to request some beta readers this autumn and then start seriously looking for an illustrator and hopefully edit and hone and create a book that I can publish next year.

But then I went to the Festival of Writing which, although wonderful and inspiring, was also a bit of a reality check. Because I found myself in a room (multiple rooms in fact) surrounded by clever, talented people who share the same dream I do. Well, not exactly the same dream – I don’t think they’re all avid limerick-writers – but we were all there hoping to get published at some point and not only that, to ensure sales of those future books. I suddenly felt really aware of how stiff the competition was.

This very fact was also made very clear to us by the agents and publishers there. As the very funny (and sweary) David Maybury from Scholastic books said in a seminar (forgive the paraphrasing):

“All you lovely writers sitting there: you’re NOT going to get published. Oh f**k, I had that written down here and then ‘DO NOT SAY THIS’ written above it and now I’ve said it. It’s not true. Honestly. BUT it is really, really hard to get published.”

And he then went on to tell us about how, even if you did get published you might not sell many books and how it was all a gamble and people can get dropped by their publishers for not selling enough and… well… the reality of the marketplace did hit home.

But I then had a very positive one to one meeting with Jennifer Parker from Matador books (a huge boon of the festival is that you get one-on-ones with agents and publishers). Matador are a self-publishing company who I’ve heard good things about. They offer marketing and distribution along side other services and have various freelance illustrators they work with so lots to offer someone like me. They don’t automatically agree to you self-publishing with them so I was pleased to hear they’d be happy to work with me. Jennifer also had an illustrator she thought would fit with my limericks and encouraged me to submit my full set of limericks to them for a quote. If I choose to run with my self-publishing plan, this option clearly has potential.

But… I don’t know. It’s going to be expensive. Hiring an illustrator costs a lot. And the whole ‘crowded marketplace’ thing is really living with me. Do I want to do it this way? Do I want to do it at all? And most of all, do I have it in me to properly promote and market myself? Is it worth the risk and the pressure? I’m suddenly feeling completely unsure.

2) Picture books

I’ve been working on all three of my manuscripts over the summer. Millie Tweed (my first book) is now at a point where I plan on submitting her (her? definitely time to let go of that manuscript – she’s become real!), and Pete and the Aliens (my third book) is very nearly there too. Mr Magic (book no. two) however, has taken a turn for the worse and now needs to be ignored for a few weeks/months before being re-built.

Before the Writing Festival I was planning on submitting to publishers and agents but now I’m thinking I’ll try agents as a first port of call. Having heard more about how the publishing industry works, I understand far more now about how incredibly useful an agent could be. The right agent can help you shape your writing career, edit and hone your work and point you in the right direction for future endeavours. Of course they can’t guarantee publication but they make it a lot more likely and a smoother process too. So my aim is to send Millie and maybe Pete out to them soon and see where we go from there. Having spoken to other writers I expect this to be a lengthy process but I have to start somewhere.

3) Novel no. 1

Remember that middle-grade manuscript I was writing? No? Well I hardly do either but I’d love to get back to it! I have 7000 words written and masses of notes. It’s calling to me.

4) Novel no. 2

I wrote 55,000 words of a psychological thriller last year. I’d love to finish it although having been to the festival I’m now even more aware of how crap what I’ve written is!

5) This blog

I love blogging but it takes up a lot of valuable writing time. My toddler has just dropped his nap so that time is now even more limited. Obviously I’m not going to stop blogging completely but I feel like I need to re-think things.
So that’s me now. Not remotely clear headed and, as I warned, this was a bit of a roughly-hewn post! I will attempt to write something clearer for next week. Hopefully a proper post about the Writing Festival – I learnt a lot and would love to share it.

I’m looking forward to reading about how your summers have gone!

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the truth about writing for kids

Over the last year the vast majority of what I’ve written has been for children. I’ve been working on three picture book manuscripts which I recently had appraised and have now re-written and tweaked to be ready to submit to agents/publishers this autumn. I’ve also been writing limericks for an illustrated poetry book for kids that I’m in the process of compiling.

B is for books

B is for… Books

And it’s been fun – I love writing for kids. But it does have its downsides. Quite apart from the fact that picture books and poems require endless hours of re-working, there’s a lot I write that I just can’t use because, well, it’s simply not appropriate. Maybe it’s just me with my wicked brain but sometimes the words take me down an entirely unsuitable path.

A case in point – one of my picture books is about a magic biscuit baker. I was writing a scene where the main character watches her fellow villagers going to his bakery and the affect it has on them:

 

But as the weeks went past she saw the others popping in

they went in with a frown but always came out with a grin

and everybody said how yummy all his biscuits tasted

‘Is he baking them with weed?’ She thought, ‘they really all look wasted!’

 

Needless to say, this didn’t make the cut!

Sometimes it’s not that the subject matter is risqué, it’s just not very child friendly:

 

There once was a fun-loving antelope

Who went to a dance on a party-boat

But while bustin’ some moves

She slipped on her hooves

Right into the path of a motorboat

 

Poor old antelope eh?  Such a grim ending doesn’t feel very kid-friendly (and to be honest the rhymes were awful anyway). Still, grizzly endings are probably better than inappropriate imagery:

 

There once was a lazy giraffe

Who’d spend hour upon hour in the bath

Till her skin would all shrivel

Top bottom and middle

“I look like a scrotum!” She’d laugh.

 

(no offence meant to scrotums of the world, I was just looking for a more interesting alternative to ‘raisin’)

So you see, in writing for kids I do lose an awful lot in editing. Maybe my next limericks (and picture books?!) will have to be for grownups?

And then the fun began...

Prose for Thought

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the remorseless horse – limerick challenge #28

I’m in the process – the S-L-O-W process – of putting together a book of limericks for kids. This means I pretty much always have silly rhymes churning around in my head and am constantly on the look out for inspiration. Usually it comes from my sons who like to throw animals at me (not literally) to write about. This week I combined their request for a horse limerick with The Prompt over at Mum Turned Mom which was ‘lazy’.

I’m keeping all my best limericks for my book, especially the ones I think kids will like, so this isn’t one of my, or my sons, favourite ones. I think it has too much of an adult theme. Still, they both illustrated it for me as you can see below and their pictures are much happier than my words I think!

A lazy, unpleasant old horse
To his wife showed no thought or remorse
When he yelled “Make my tea!
I’m watching T.V!”
Don’t worry – she left him (of course).

 

horse watching tv 2

By my 5yo – horses watching (car) racing on T.V. I think.

 

horse watching TV

By my 8yo – a horse watching special ‘horse news’ – a much happier scene than my limerick suggests! :) (and can you spot his Harry Potter obsession sneaking into the picture?)

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quidditch limerick – limerick challenge #26

My oldest son has been obsessed with Harry Potter since last Christmas when we gave him the first book in the series. Since then he’s taken every opportunity to give whatever he does a Harry Potter theme. He writes stories about  him, draws pictures, makes potions, he’s built a whole Harry Potter world on Minecraft… he even has an uncanny ability to make all his homework about Harry Potter!

He asked me to write a Harry Potter limerick for him a while back – which I did – but, of course, one wasn’t enough. More recently he set me the challenge of writing one about quidditch – the sport that is played in all the HP books. Don’t ask me why, but somehow it felt like cheating not to have that word at the end of the first line and thus part of the rhyme.

Quidditch match  - by my seven-year-old

Quidditch match – by my seven-year-old

But what rhymes with ‘quidditch’? You might be thinking.

What indeed:

The secret to winning at quidditch

Is eating a lot of fresh spinach

It will give you great speed

And the skills that you need

To administer major ass-kickage.

 

Ok, I didn’t exactly nail it. Try reading it out loud after a few glasses of wine though and the rhymes start to sound almost reasonable. Promise.

My son drew the picture – I think it’s his best yet! He wasn’t so convinced by the limerick – he liked the spinach rhyme but I had to explain what ‘ass-kickage’ was, which took away from the impact. He did award me marks for ‘trying really hard’ though. :)

***

Since first publishing this post I ended up writing another quidditch limerick while engaged in a sort of ‘limerick-off’ (like a dance-off only involving emailed limericks rather than dancing!) with my uncle. I thought I’d share it here since it is even sillier than the first:

 

I once played the great sport of quidditch

With sea-creatures hailing from Redditch

The seals were sensational

The lobsters… crustaceanal

But all the fresh air made the squid itch.

 

Mini Creations

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Prose for Thought

limerick challenge #25 – tiger

At the weekend my sons asked me to write a limerick about a tiger. I foolishly thought it would be quite a straight-forward one to write but somehow, despite all the rhymes for ‘tiger’ I thought up, it was tough to make it into a limerick. The one I ended up with had several endings all of which my older son objected to as ‘too grisly’. This one might strike a chord for the modern-day mountaineer though…

 

There once was a plucky young tiger

Who scaled the north face of the Eiger

But her ‘look at me!’ tweet

To show off this feat

Wouldn’t send – drat! No service provider!

 

Tiger on the Eiger holding a smart phone. Helicopters are hovering above (I'd worried him with grizzly ending  you see so he was making sure the tiger got home safely.

Tiger on the Eiger holding a smart phone. Helicopters are hovering above (I’d worried him with grisly ending you see, so he was making sure the tiger got home safely).

And if you’re wondering about my alternative versions, I’ll throw this one in for free:

 

There once was a plucky young tiger

Who scaled the north face of the Eiger

Where she fell from the top

Landed SPLAT on her bot

And splattered her guts far and wide(er).

 

There was another one where she got eaten by vultures too!

The picture was drawn by my seven-year-old using some new pastels he’s got that are water-soluble, hence it looking a bit like a painting. He found it tough to get any detail with them but they were pretty fun to use – I had a go too!

I wonder if you can send a tweet from the top of the Eiger?
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Prose for Thought

Harry Potter limerick (limerick challenge #24)

Since we gave him the first Harry Potter book for Christmas, my seven-year-old son has been obsessed with all things ‘Harry’. He’s read the first three books repeatedly (he wants to read the fourth but I keep putting him off because lovely characters are murdered in it!) and seen the first two films, his bedroom wall is covered with the pictures he’s drawn of the characters and synopses he’s written of the books, and he also writes his own Harry Potter stories.

His love of the books has even rubbed off on his five-year-old brother who now also draws masses of Harry Potter pictures too and is valiantly wading through ‘The Philosophers Stone’ himself despite it being at the extreme outer limits of his reading ability.

Harry Potter and Dumbledore

By my five year old – On the left: Harry Potter dancing (above Hogwarts and the Hogwarts Express) and simultaneously kicking Voldemort while dementors fly above. On the right: Dumbledore.

Given all this, it was clear that my ‘Limerick Challenge‘ – where my sons choose a theme, I write a limerick and they illustrate it – was going to venture into Harry Potter territory at some point. This week it has. Here goes:

 

Harry Potter, a famous young wizard

Cast a spell to make light in a blizzard

But distracted by flakes

He made some mistakes

And turned himself into a lizard!

 

Harry Potter Lizard

By my 7-year-old: Harry Potter in a blizzard, accidentally transforming himself into a lizard.

In case you’re not acquainted with Harry Potter, a ‘spell to make light’ would be a ‘lumos’ spell. My seven-year-old decided that a lizard spell would be ‘liliros’ so hopefully you can see how, if caught in a swirling snowstorm, Harry might make this mistake.

As usual it’s silly, although it’s not one of my favourites I have to admit – I prefer writing weird ones about animals that talk and fart and try to get jobs on aeroplanes and, y’know, stuff like that- but there you have it. My boys were very pleased with it anyway!

Prose for Thought

limerick challenge #23

It’s been a while since my last limerick challenge… nearly two months (I just checked)! The boys have been requesting I write another one for weeks but my brain has been far too taken up with editing my picture books. My manuscripts are out of my hands for the moment though, so I’m free for a bit of silly poetry.

This time my boys asked me to write a limerick about a ‘bird’ but I took the liberty of making it a swift because I’d already noticed that this week’s prompt was ‘gift’ and a rhyme leapt to mind! The illustration is courtesy of my seven-year old.

One day I encountered a swift

Who made me decidedly miffed

When from up in the sky

He aimed at my eye

And sent me a splattery gift!

 

Swift Gift

Prose for Thought
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Nikki Young Writes