The progression of a book cover.

I believed, stupidly, that once I had the main story written that the other bits and bobs would fall into place in a matter of weeks.

How silly of me. (Naive I think is the word.)

Editing took a long time mainly down to me. But the evolution of the cover was the work of Sara. She asked for an outline of the book. I sent it on, along with a draft copy. Then there were a few telephone calls and much to my delight I received the first idea. Here it is:

school-house-cover-idea

The debate began. A few suggestions were made and this was the next idea,

sample-cover-for-emer

which we liked but the problem was Harry the seagull had been cut from the story.

So back to the drawing board and then with Harry cut, deleted, the next debate was the title and the type face (font) colours etc.

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Finally this was the final  image.

runaway_schoolhouse_cover_Latest_151031

Did we get it right or wrong? Everyone’s opinion is appreciated.

 

 

Lolita gets clever

With  five hundred and fifty five  sacks of nectar  collected, I only have six more to go. Then I will be  collector of the week, Horace thought as he paused for a break.

It was humid and hot, not two of his favourite words but work was work and families had mouths and they needed to be fed.

He paused and with a neat flick his strawlike tongue zipped outwards and got …nada… zilch…nothing.

Again, it can’t be happening again. Oh gosh, that’s the third time today. I’m overworked, I’m finished I won’t make the top of the pollen charts today or tomorrow. I must be ill. As he ranted and raved, a strange noise caught his attention. He paused and looked about him. The other insects around were mostly bees or the odd horsefly, but he could have sworn he heard a giggle. He didn’t see anyone watching him.

“Oh god, its worse than I thought, I’m going cuckoo, mad, batty.” He shuddered – he hated bats.

Horace considered his options. To return home now would be to admit total and utter defeat.  “I’m not a quitter, ” he muttered. “I’ll move on to the next plant and try once more.”

Horace waited for the wind to lift and like the other butterflies about him he had a knack of taking off just at the right moment. However, today when he stretched his wings for take off, he noticed that something was not quite right. I feel as though I am gaining weight. Must go back to  Moving and Meditating Classes, they did me good the last time. He decided as he flew on to the next plant.

butterfly-collecting-pollen-10898768

He landed with a thump and gave himself a minute. He closed his eyes and pictured a calm scene. Night time and his bed.

Meanwhile Lolita ladybug had unattached herself from him and was busy collecting nectar. Horace is exceptionally stupid, he closes his eyes for a minute each time he lands. She hummed as she worked.

Butterflies were famous for being less than clever but today she had hit the jackpot, so far she had robbed Horace of six sacks of nectar and if she played her cards right he would even give her a ride back home.

The sun was dropping to its bed, the level of noise was dropping as most animals were settling down for the night.  Horace was almost home. He was exhausted and flying low to the ground. As he flew over a discarded bicycle he noticed a strange reflection. It can’t be me, I am never that shape, he thought and circled for a better look.

Lolita, I will fix her. But saying it and doing it are two very different things. Horace didn’t want to hurt her merely give her a fright. Suddenly he saw the perfect place to do it.  It was a steep climb but he made it. He dropped very low over the basin and with a huge effort gave his wings a shake. The sleepy ladybird slid off the end of his wing, the sacks of pollen followed her dropping through the air. As Lolita woke with a fright she began to scream.  Feeling the sudden rush of air, she began to flick her wings to stop her fall.  It was enough for Horace to turn around dive between her and the sacks and collect them with his outspread wings.

“Don’t mess with me again. I am not stupid.” Horace said as he turned for home.

ladybird

With a shrug Lolita vowed she would have better luck tomorrow as she too made her way home.

 

 

The Tree – Breeze’s Link to his tree.

breeze tree 2

 

Tulip sat beside Breeze. Her legs were swinging back and forth as she sat on a wide smooth branch.

“What is it with you and trees?” She scrunched up her nose against the strong sunlight as she stared up at him.

“I like trees. That is it.” he said with a dreamy smile.

“But…why?” She asked him.

He considered his answer for a while. “I suppose all of my family liked trees. My grandfather grew his own apple trees, the orchard is over there.” Breeze waved his right arm in the direction of Treacle Wood, many miles away.

“My dad loved to weave baskets from willow and he adored willow trees because he could sit in the shade and work all day long.”

Tulip said, “so trees have been a thing in your family for years.”

“Yes.” Breeze said. “Have you any more questions before I take a nap.”

“Just one. Why this tree?” She looked about them, there were many other giant trees in the wood but Breeze always went to this one.

“Because I grew it.”

His answer surprised her. “You grew it?” She looked at him closely.  She could not imagine him planting anything. She tried to picture it.

“You can’t be that old.”

“For an ogre I am not. But I am still many years older than this tree.” He smiled then said,  “I remember the day I planted it. I was mad at Mrs. Groundsel. She called me a lazy young ogre who couldn’t be bothered to do anything.” Breeze yawned. “So I decided to show her I could do something. I planted the seed. I  came back every day to water and talk to it. Trees like company. It became like a …” He tapped his head with his fingers searching for a word.

“Hobby?” Tulip suggested.

“Pet.” Breeze said. “I grew fond of it and that was that.”

“That was that.” Tulip repeated. “Did you plant many more?”

Breeze nodded his head. “Loads, there was only five trees here when I started, now look.”

Tulip looked at the many hundreds of trees.

“You really are a s ..” she began.

“Strange ogre?” Breeze said.

“Surprising ogre. I think you deserve a blueberry muffin after all that work. I will bring it by later.” She flew away and left Breeze to have a nap.

 

 

Elegant to the rescue.

The yearly event  for witches is the “Broomstick Dive and Duck Ball”. It is a night of feasting, music, competitions and games.

Lovisma loves the competition called, “Whackiest disguise for a broomstick.” Last year she disguised her broom stick as a sausage roll. A giant warlock tried to eat it and broke a tooth. Lovisma didn’t hang around to collect her prize.

Elegant loves the “Design a witches hat” competition. Last year her hat looked like a giant board game complete with rolling dice and moving figures.

ElegantThis year the two witches began their preparations early. On the night of the ball, they took great care with their appearance. Elegant ‘s gown  was midnight blue sprinkled with tiny glittering stars, her shoes and hat matched.

Lovisma spent ages planning her outfit. When she appeared beside Elegant, she looked like a giant swirling lollypop.  They called their broomsticks and got ready to leave for Warlock Twittchets house. lovisma 3

Suddenly a loud scream was heard followed by a dog howling in pain. “What is that?” Elegant asked.

“I don’t know. Lets go.” Lovisma sped off into thenight sky.

Elegant looked towards the wood. The howling was dreadful. “Oh, dear.” She mumbled and flew after Lovisma. When she caught up with her sister she said, “I need to help it.”

“But you will miss the fun. Remember last years popping cheesecake. It was fantastic.” Lovisma said.

“I will catch up later.” Elegant said and went into the wood.

She found Tulip and Hamish trying to get close to a huge dog.  He was standing on three legs, the third one was bent and blood poured from it.

“My magic isn’t strong enough. He is in great pain.” Tulip whispered to Elegant.

“We will work together and fix this.” Elegant said.

Even with magic it took them a long time.  When his paw was mended and bandaged. Hamish  said, “We have to get him home.”

Tulip agreed, “yes he can’t stay here he will frighten everyone but where is his home?”

Elegant thought about the problem and declared, “there is only one way to do this.  We need a potion from the bubbling cauldron. Hamish, we will be back in a jiffy.”

The bubbling cauldron was asleep. It didn’t like being wakened and asked to work. Eventually Elegant persuaded it to allow her to make one potion.

When they returned they added the potion to water. When the husky drank it he told them his story.

Elegant was happy to return the animal to his home but she felt a little sad she had missed the fun at the ball. The next day when everyone in Mudpile Wood  heard of Elegants kind act, they decided to hold a party in her honor to thank her.

 

Breeze shows us a picture of the nicest witch in the world.

Many people believe witches are nasty and love to be nasty.  Well….here in Mudpile Wood we have one of the nicest witches on any planet.

Why do I think this?

Because… nope I think I will simply show you a picture of Elegant and let you see for yourself. I will leave a story about Elegant Witch for another day.

Elegant

Lovisma plays a birthday trick on Breeze

Birthday’s were special to Breeze but he kept his birthdays a secret. He always treated himself on his birthday. Last year it had been an extra 6 fairy cakes.

A few days before his birthday he woke to find Tulip staring at him.

-balloons-and-streamers“You were talking in your sleep.” She said.

“Well I hope I was polite.” Breeze watched a very large bumble bee fly overhead. It reminded him of Lovisma. He decided it was his imagination.

“You were muttering something about a birthday. Whose birthday is it?”

Breeze scratched his head. “I have no idea.”

******************************************************lovisma 3

On the morning of his birthday Breeze woke to discover Spike his pet frog was missing. Most mornings he woke to the sound of Spike darting around collecting his breakfast of flies and insects. This morning there was no happy “ribbit” sounds. He walked to the entrance of the cave and stubbed his toe off a chunky sized box. On top of the box was a bow and a card.

He read the card:  “Happy birthday, Mr. Breeze.”

Breeze looked at the box. He nudged it with his toe. It jumped three inches into the air and landed on the same spot. He bent down and carefully lifted the lid. There was a loud angry “Ribbit…ribbit” and a frog jumped out. The frog looked sad and odd.

It jumped onto Breezes knee and jumped once more landing on his hand. Breeze raised the frog close to his face.

The frog said “ribbbiiiiitt..”  He looked ill to Breeze.

“Oh Spike, what happened? Are you ill? Why are you yellow with smarties on your skin?” Breeze suspected it was a trick played by one of the goblins.

To cheer Spike up, Breeze took him to the Hiccuping pond close to Mudpile Wood. Within minutes of arriving Spike was happily catching flies.  Breeze however wasn’t happy because he made another discovery. Each time Spike hopped his skin color changed. One moment he was a smarty covered frog and the next he looked like a pair of pajama’s all stripes. The flashing colorful frog was attracting a lot of attention. Spike hid in Breeze’s pocket.

small picBreeze concentrated on solving the problem of poor Spikes skin of many moving colors. Tulip was not impressed either. “Why would someone do such a thing?” She demanded with red poofs of angry smoke shooting from her wand.

Breeze moved away from the wand and showed her the card. “It’s your birthday!” She shook her head. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Because I celebrate it quietly in the way I want to.”

Tulip put her hands on her hips. “That sounds like a load of rubbish to me, but it is your day. However I will bake you a special cake. ” She looked at Spike. ” First we will ask Elegant to fix this.”

“But don’t tell her about my birthday.” Breeze hissed.

“You are very peculiar for an Ogre. Most stand on the mountain tops and shout it out. But don’t worry I won’t.”

They found Elegant hanging out her washing.

“I thought Witches just zap things and they get done.” Breeze said.

“That is the lazy Lovisma way of doing it.” Elegant said. She looked at Breeze. “What has my little sister done now.”

“Why would you think she has done anything?” Tulip asked.

“Because she was so happy today and she was up before the sun, which is most odd for her.”

Breeze whispered, “Please Elegant. It’s poor Spike, please fix him.”

When the kind hearted witch saw Spike she took him in her hands and whispered to him, “Oh Spike you poor fella. Don’t worry, close your eyes I will have you back to normal.”

Spike and Breeze closed their eyes. When they opened them Spike was back to green. He was so happy he did a happy frog dance tumbling and hopping around Breeze.

Breeze looked at Elegant. “What about Lovisma? Who will punish her?”

Elegant tapped the side of her nose and said, “already done, you won’t see her for a day or two.”

Suddenly they heard a terrible screech. Breeze hid behind a bed sheet on the clothes line.

Lovisma appeared before them.”Who did this to me? I look like Goldilocks. Help me Elegant…” Her hair was golden, her skin like milk and her lips a soft cherry red. She was dressed in a pale pink dress. Her hat and shoes matched perfectly.

When she spotted Tulip, Lovisma screamed and vanished.

Tulip said, “Come to tea Elegant, about five o clock, I am baking a special cake for Breeze.”

“Will it have cherries?” Elegant asked.

“It will.”

Though Breeze felt sad for Spike he was delighted to hear about his special cake and decided that next year he might remind Tulip about his birthday and leave creating the surprise up to her.

 

 

Breeze: Introducing the tiniest witch, Lovisma

We have many different beings in Mudpile wood but the one who creates the most trouble is a witch called Lovisma.

 

She is like no other witch I have ever met. It doesn’t matter what she is doing she creates mischief wherever she goes. Lovisma hates to walk and is often seen flying about on her dashing purple and pink broomstick.

I often think she has fallen into the wrong wood.

Take a look at this picture Doris drew of her and you will see what I mean.

lovisma 3

 

Doesn’t she look like trouble?

I will be back to tell you more about her.

The Cloud Who Learnt to Hug. 280 words.

(Inspired by a dream from Breeze)

 

Tiny cloud was small and thin.

At first he didn’t notice how small he was.  He dived and soared. When he tired of this he stopped and looked around him.

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High above him large clouds rolled in an elegant and smooth fashion. They flowed through the sky.

He wished he  could dance like they could.

A cloud ducked low over the earth and  sat on a mountain.  He must be tired, Tiny cloud thought.

Then as tiny cloud watched the giant cloud hugged the mountain.

He felt sad.

“I want to learn to hug.” He sang as he whizzed past his bigger friends.

“Slow down, enjoy” they whispered. “It will happen when it happens.”

But he was gone.  “I want to be big and great” he sang.

Birds didn’t notice him or hear him. He was moving too fast.

He dived around the earth, wishing and hoping.

“I want to be big and great,” he shouted in his tiny voice.  No one heard  him.

He moved around the sky looking for clues.

He wanted to be bigger.  He was busy watching everyone else.

One day he realised he no longer soared and dived. He didn’t feel like playing.

“I like rolling,” he grumbled. “But I feel heavy.”

The cloud began to sink, slowly at first towards the earth.  He stopped over a mountain. He saw the stones and earth getting closer.

He wondered if he might swallow the mountain.  He stopped grumbling and rolling.

He smiled. “I’m hugging a mountain.” He cried as the rain spilled from him.

Then he was light once more and flew high into the sky to tell the other clouds.

All the time he was singing, “I like hugging.”

A Smoke Filled Mystery (Part 1) 500 words

Breeze saw a cloud of black rising from the edge of the forest. “Fire,” he bellowed.

His voice set the ground shaking. Trees were wobbling like jellies shaking the birds and squirrels out of their resting places. Birds flew away, squirrels bounced along the ground.

Breeze  slid down the trunk of the tree. He ran to the centre of the wood and roared, “Fire.  Get to the river.”

Everyone heard and obeyed. Fire was not a thing to play with or wait to admire. Breeze ran towards the strange cloud.

Mrs. Groundsel dashed past him, she had a child under each arm and a wooden spoon tucked into her hair. She stopped. “Breeze where are you going?”

“To check on Tulip and make sure everyone is out of the wood.”

“Okay, be careful.” She picked up a tiny frog who was hopping on the spot but not moving forward. “I’ll take care of the rest, ” she said, tucking the frog into the pocket in her apron. She raced away.

“She is one Super granny ogre.” Breeze said and ran towards Tulips house.

He was almost at her house when he stopped and smelt the air around him. “Funny but it should smell smoky and horrid by now. This is a strange fire.”

Close to Tulips house he saw some rabbits nibbling on fresh grass. He looked at them and wondered if they were deaf or did they not know fire was dangerous. He was too worried about Tulip to stop and talk to them.  “I’ll come back for you,” he said.

They ignored him and kept eating.

Breeze got to the house and looked about him. Tulips house was on the edge of the forest.  He looked about him. Where is the fire? He wondered.

Tulip came out to him. “Why was the wood and the ground shaking?”

Breeze shook his head, he didn’t want to say he made a mistake. “Fire drill, yes we were practicing in case there is ever a fire. We need to know how to  get out fast.”

small pic

Tulip looked closely at him. “Really?”

Breeze smiled.

“And who was the fastest?” Tulip began to sweep her front step.

“Mrs Groundsel. ” Breeze muttered.

Tulip was sweeping very fast. She made the air about her was turn thick and black with dust. His eyes followed the rising dust. It rose in a hurry high above her house, as though it were trying to escape.

“It’s a cloud of dust.” Breeze said and sat on the ground with a thump. He gave himself a minutes rest then he trotted off to explain to everyone why he thought it was a fire. As he ran he wondered why Tulip was cleaning with so much energy. She usually did that when she was mad at someone or something.

There is a mystery to be solved back there. I will have to return and find out why Tulip is cleaning like a crazy fairy. Breeze thought as he hurried along.  But first he had to do a lot of apologizing to all the scared beings who were sitting on the bank of the river wondering if they would have a bed to sleep in tonight.

 

How the Ogre Breeze and Mudpile were discovered.

Maria’s  side of the story:

Chance and opportunity seldom knock at my door.

However, this one arrived through WordPress and I have grasped it with both hands.

While reading a post on “The Terrain of Symmetry” site, I was mesmerized by a picture of a tree. 

today 2013

(Click on the photo to go to the post)

This was an unusual occurrence in itself because the daughter of an Irish botanist, I have stared at many trees. But this one caught my eye because the angle of a branch reminded me of the best piece of equipment in the playground, a slide. That was it, a story was born.

My imagination was off at a running pace. An Ogre was created and his best friend sort of slid into place.  When I asked permission from Doris to use the picture to illustrate the story, she went one better and sent me an illustration of the characters, Breeze and Tulip.

From that moment on we were both hooked, stories and ideas fly out of my mind some land on paper and others are merely whisked away by being too mad or crazy. The result is I am jumping in at the deep end and we will publish our result in the form of a book.

I hope everyone enjoys and takes these stories for what they are a  childish venture into a world of make believe.

If there is anything you find beyond the realms of belief please let us know.