Whether I’m writing, reading or sharing stories, I sooooo hope it never ends!

Hi again, I’m back. It has been a while since …. OK, it’s been a very long while since I wrote anything.
I have been frustratingly engaged in delving into the world that is me – and by that I mean I have been putting together an updated resume, time mapping my working history plus past and current working life.
I thought this would be a good exercise to put everything into some kind of order – according to my husband, order is good! I have written lengthy lists ( again I hear these are good things ) of tasks and activities, toyed with professional and some less professional and definitely more funny names for those tasks and activities and even categorized them alphabetically – I am a librarian after all.
It’s actually been quite interesting and an eye opener into the bargain.
First, I am suitably impressed by how much I know! OK it takes until lunchtime to kick in but once it does, I rock apparently!
Second, I love it. I do story-times with babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. I give guided tours around a workplace that I enjoy being in with primary school kids and generally find that each and every session is a blast. I meet and work with a huge variety of people from a range of backgrounds, age groups and fields of interest.
Third, I love it. I know that I said that already but I feel it needs to be said again.
The exercise definitely gave me some perspective as well with regards to my writing. I knew that I enjoyed it but I now have a better understanding of the need to do it. I have so many stories in my head that I can ‘see’ so clearly. I can easily picture how they should be presented to a group or cozily shared by two. I wake up at odd hours, write outlines or even whole stories and then flesh them out at a later date when the pictures start to appear in my mind as well. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t see or try to see specific pictures if I don’t illustrate myself but I can’t help it, it’s an integral part of the process for me, the level of intimacy that I have with the story and the characters.
It’s also why I wrote practical guides for newbies starting out in the field ( what can I say, I share ) but I love it all so much that I want to share that with others. I remember how scary it all was at first and how far I have come since. I remember when a group of two scared me yet now a group of 50 makes me feel like an extra for the Wiggles! And still loving it.
I recently performed the 3 Little Pigs for a large group of combined kinder’s and Year 1’s. We built imaginary houses, stamped our feet and howled our pain as our tails were burned. It was amazing!
Whether I’m writing, reading or sharing stories, I sooooo hope it never ends!

Writing Contest in Honour of Grandparent’s Day

Writing Contest in Honour of Grandparent’s Day
Posted by Alayne Kay Christian
Children’s Author & Life Coach – Writer’s Whole Life Perspective

Please see her blog for further details : http://alaynekaychristian.wordpress.com/


This year, in the US, National Grandparent’s Day falls on Sunday, September 8. Because I am a long-distance grandparent, and my picture book “Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa” is about a little girl with long-distance grandparents. I have decided to make the long-distance grandchild/grandparent relationship the focus of this writing contest. I know, could I repeat “long-distance” one more time

Note from Helen : I like short, snappy picture books that can be read to a variety of age groups in both large and small groups. This is what I was aiming to achieve from my story, so….This is my humble effort for the competition:

I HATE Grandparent’s Day!

I HATE Grandparent’s Day!
My grandparents live so far away,
That they can never come,
I think Grandparent’s Day is DUMB!

I HATE Grandparent’s Day!
Because they’re so far away,
They can’t come just to play,
Who wants them on Grandparent’s Day, anyway?

I HATE Grandparent’s Day!
To travel here takes a whole day,
So that’s why they stay at home,
And why I have Grandparent’s Day all alone

I HATE Grandparent’s Day!
But wait! Who’s that? Shouting HOORAY!
It’s Grandma and Grandpa, they’re at school today,
I LOVE Grandparent’s Day!

Helen Velikans

Help! I’m a Writer Not a Marketer!

I keep crying out to anyone who might be interested in listening that I am a writer, not a marketer! It is, of course,  a total untruth these days with so much competition and a fiction that I use to hide from the world when it gets too scary. To use the very apt children’s taunt, I am a ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’! I have discovered to both my dismay and my horror that if I wish to actually sell my books, stand a chance of promoting my services and talents or even if I just want people to know I exist, I have to master the art of marketing.

In my last blog, I was moaning about social media – I’m also sensing an emotional theme that needs to be fixed immediately – maybe after this post!

I really need to get a handle on this stuff, I need to get out ‘there’ – wherever there is – and market myself. Great! Except that I still really haven’t figured out how. I have joined a heap of social media and online groups, blogs, websites … the list goes on. Now I spend hours each day going through the responses and answering, thanking and responding to posts that others have sent. Hmmm… still not known yet but busier – not writing of course, because I’m now a marketer.  Actually, it still feels pretty cool having so many friends with the same issues that I’m having but don’t tell anyone I said so!

I was silly enough to complain to my husband about my situation who immediately fired off a page full of ideas just off the top of his head. Really, no one like a smarty pants! All the things I could do to market myself in my immediate physical environment, that would lead to bigger and better things in the future. Wow! It seems so easy. When I suggested that he take over as my marketer-come-manager, he hasn’t the time. He works full time and ‘I should  be doing it myself anyway because I have to learn and he’s too busy’! Hey, I work full time too and I am at the disadvantage that I don’t what to do!! Did he not get that part? He’s a teacher and he’s focused on the whole ‘teach them and they can do it themselves rather than do it for them and then they can’t’ thing, which doesn’t help me much because he really would be better at it.

So, after a month I have joined many groups, I write a heap of emails and posts everyday – even my blog which is fun but doesn’t seem to help with the original problem – I understand a little more of what is required so I know that there’s no way I can do it -I promise this is the last one of those – and I still haven’t written anything towards the next book.

So, am I a marketer or a writer? The answer has to be… BOTH. Perhaps the real issue is time management? Arrrh, no more issues!

I’m Going Mad but I love It!

As the title suggests, I’m rapidly going mad! Trying desperately to get a handle on all this social media stuff, trying to make sure that my blog, my website, my social media thingies are all up and running, flowing along, saying ( and doing ) what they are supposed to. I’m reading stuff on how to improve my blogging, my twittering, my linking in and my website – most of which is too technical so I can’t understand a word of it.

The upside is that I am making heaps of friends – such a lovely idea and I feel like a guru with all my followers! This is very cool, if very confusing but I am happily stumbling through it all in a daze of fuzzy feel good vibes on a sea of support and good wishes.

Thanks everyone, you have each made a difference to my world 🙂 

Stories for Babies? Absolutely!

‘ You can’t read stories to babies, they don’t do anything’!  I ask you, are you as shocked and saddened by this question as I am – I really hope so.

I love telling stories to babies ( and by babies, I mean 0-12 months  – or ‘non walkers’). I enjoy sharing books, songs, rhymes, puppets and toys with them. Storytelling allows babies to explore, develop and extend new skills in the areas of gross and fine motor skills, social emotional skills plus being able to experiment with a variety of sounds through the use of a variety of musical styles and instruments. I use puppets and toys to enhance interactivity and sing songs and rhymes over and over again to allow for familiarity. Babies are far more ‘switched on’ than they are given credit for! They remember cues, specific songs and tunes, items that require a particular reaction and are able to act accordingly.

For book stories, I prefer large, brightly coloured picture books – preferably pop up or lift the flap books as they work so well to focus their attention. Babies readily respond to familiar sounds and verbal cues. When telling book stories, I use a specific phrase in order to gain attention. My phrase is simply ‘ are you ready’? I say this slowly, fairly loudly in order to gain their attention and then immediately open the flap or pop up section as they are in the act of turning in my direction. Babies are then presented with a picture to look at as they look at me. Since I use the phrase every time we have a session with books, babies become accustomed to it and will actively participate in the action of the story. Over time, storytelling becomes a familiar activity, their focus and attention spans improve and it’s amazing how much interaction they are able to achieve. I have seen many wonderful, talented storytellers in action who all utilise different cues, including : ‘look now’, ‘here it is’ ‘ open your eyes’ and ‘WOW’! Whatever phrase is chosen ( or dreamed of ), the important thing is to say it every time a book is used – familiarity is the key.

Babies happily accept and react to familiar songs and rhymes, don’t forget that many mums sing them at home, and these may be further extended with the use of musical instruments, soft toys and puppets.Babies are very tactile, they learn through all their senses. Sight, sound, touch, smell and taste are all vitally important for babies as they learn and grow. These interactive  and tactile tools allow them to explore familiar activities through all their senses ( so don’t worry if they suck on the toys and puppets, they can be washed ). If a soft toy is gently rubbed across their cheek as you all sing ‘soft kitty’ it highlights the song and allows babies to explore it in a different way. Music  ( I use bells )allows them to ‘hear’ the ‘Twinkle, twinkle little stars’. There are so many, many, ways to expand experiences through storytelling with babies.

Another aspect of storytelling with babies is the experience and social gains that parents and caregivers are able to achieve. Networking opportunities, asking questions of other parents in a safe and easy setting, the chance to get out of the house on a regular basis or, in my case, the chance to use words over one syllable! Don’t under estimate the importance to mums of storytime sessions – after all, their happiness and well being directly impacts their baby’s happiness and well being.

As a true believer of the concept of sharing, I am always happy to answer questions, provide suggestions and generally assist where I can. Remember, its  all supposed to be …. just good fun!   

Stories, Stories Everywhere!

I was 20 when I was literally thrust into the world of storytelling. The incumbent was leaving and since no-one else was volunteering, my boss went for the ‘last in, you’re it’ delegation method!

Where do I start? This was my instant, panic stricken thought, at the idea of having to present pre-school storytelling sessions twice a week in a library setting. I had no resources, no experience with small children and no chance of getting out of it!

What I discovered was a passion for storytelling, theatrics and really loud ( and bad ) singing. I love watching little faces captivated by puppets, laughing at limericks and books, helping to put feltboard pieces up and then chasing them when they blow away.

Since that first frightening time, I have collected and collated many resource folders ranging from rhymes, songs, feltboards, craft templates and storytelling themes that have supported me, my colleagues, university students and community groups over the last twenty years.

Over the years, I have perfected storytimes for babies 0-12 months, toddlers 1-3 and groups with a variety of ages. I have told stories to 1 child, 30 children and family groups over 100 ( always fun ).   

I am a firm believer in sharing, particularly with those just starting out – I remember the fear of having nothing to fall back on and wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Every storyteller should be comfortable, unafraid and ready to have as much fun as they hope the children will.