Words on a Limb Interviews Maureen Fergus

543233The air is crisp and chilly in Winnipeg as fall descends on us. We had a unique opportunity to sit and talk to one of our favourite picture book authors, accomplished writer and mom, Maureen Fergus.

Born in Regina, Saskatchewan and raised in Winnipeg, she has lived quite a journey to arrive at her dream of creating multiple picture books, several young adult novels, including a wildly popular fantasy trilogy. She admits, that in spite of all her achievements, the one thing she values is most is the recognition of her many readers and fans.

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Maureen spoke to us over the phone from her beautiful home, apparently full of treasures (more on that below), in Winnipeg where she lives with her husband, three children, a hedgehog and the family dog Buddy, affectionately known as Sir Barksalot – handsome fella, no?

Here is her story. If you are a young writer, there is plenty of gold in this river.


Welcome Maureen, it’s a privilege to speak with you today. What kind of kid were you , how much of it has stayed with you?
Maureen at 4I’ve never been asked that, that is an interesting question. I was very studious, I liked school, I was a perfectionist. I loved a good laugh, I thought I was hilarious, that certainly hasn’t changed. The perfectionist thing mellowed a lot once I had kids. You sort of have 2 choices when you have 3 kids in 3.5 years. You can continue to try to be a perfectionist and go off the deep end, or you just relax a little and except that not everything can be in its place all the time.

But in terms of the way I think and I approach situations I think a big part of that has stayed with me. In fact, I can go back and have a very clear memory of who I was at 4, how it felt to be 4, how I saw the world at 4. I can see that vividly, even at the ages of 7 or 11. This really helps me as a writer because, when writing picture books or books for middle grades or for older teens, I’m not thinking from the outside looking in, I’m thinking what a kid would do or think. I really try to put myself back in that place to write.

Do you have any creations from when you were a child?
I actually have one story that I wrote when I was 10 or 11. It was about a super pickle that goes to Ottawa and becomes a member of parliament. I was just a rambling sort of story. As a young girl, I never really wanted to be a writer, it was never my objective. I was always much more interested in science and math. I did love reading – I would keep a journal, keep up with out-of-town friends through snail mail.

I remember one other story from grade 7. I had a perfectionist teacher. Every week we had to write a story and my goal was write one that would get a 10/10. So, I wrote a story making fun of how strict she was. I wrote about me turning over the table, kicking the garbage can and how Miss Shanks got really upset. Funny enough it was a piece of writing that most closely resembles what I’m writing 20 years after. I got 10/10 for that one – the only 10/10 she gave out that year, it appealed to the perfectionist in me. Fortunately, she pushed me to get in touch with the voice of the writer I was going to become. It wasn’t a moment where I suddenly recognized I was going to be a writer, but looking back now, I realized it was the first moment when I really tapped into what that voice was going to be. I would like to go back and let her know that, even though I did not know it at the time, she had a pretty profound impact on my 20 years down the road. Continue reading

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Artists on a Limb – Mi Amante

GravatarWelcome back to Words on Art, where we invite artists and writers to collaborate and creatively blend brush strokes with words. We would like to thank Steven H. for his successful writing submission, chosen to complement Jasmine’s untitled art sketch. Let us know what you think by sharing your thoughts in the Reply box below. Thank you Steven and Jasmine.

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Mi Amante

The sound of waves crashing stirs my sleepy thoughts. Is it my phone’s ocean sound alarm at home, or perhaps the real thing in a far way continent?

In the deep recesses of my mind, a little process begins;  deciphering the randomness of the water crashing, the deep timber roar of the ocean, the lush feel of the fabric that makes the pillow case under my head at this moment. Then there is the salty smell of the sea in the air, something you can definitely not duplicate. Little sub-routines in my brain begin processing the information and the result makes me smile wide inside my dreamy mind.

Memories start pouring in, you getting dressed for our trip, your big brown eyes wide with excitement, your long hair resplendent. The luxurious plane ride, the stylish car sent to pick us up from the Barcelona airport, and finally the arrival at the villa. 

Your smile fills my half-waking dreams, when you opened the curtains and saw the Mediterranean Sea stretching out as far as the eye could see, the way you turned and kissed me with excitement.  These are all cup-overflowing feelings of bliss that greet me this morning.


Our next Artist on a Limb submission comes from Jana.  The name of the art piece is Peach and Bear.  Writers, please submit your poems, captions, short stories and other words to capture the essence of the art.

Send your work to wordsonalimb@bell.net, with Words on Art in the subject line.

Janet

If you have an art piece you would like us to consider for Artists on a Limb, please email us with Art Submission in the subject line. Please note, the art must be your original work.

Thanks everyone – looking forward, as always.

Lora

 

Happy Thanksgiving

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Thank-You Lucky Star

I thank my lucky star

For the light that guides my way.

For the beauty that surrounds me

New beginnings every day.

 

I thank my lucky star

For the ocean’s calming lull.

For the stars that shine above me

The gentle sparrows call.

 

But most of all I’m thankful

For my family, near and far.

For their love surrounds me daily

Thank-you lucky star.

                                       – Lora Rozler

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone!  

To download a copy of the poem for your personal use in the classroom, click on the star image below (follow-up writing templates also included).

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Lora
Creative Commons License
Thank-You Lucky Star by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Apples Big and Apples Small, Apples, Apples, One and All

appleMy first inquiry-based unit this year started off with a simple school snack – apples. I walked into the classroom just after Snack Break, and to my surprise, found a bin full of Golden Delicious apples.  Apparently, my three, four and five year-old students already had some pre-conceived ideas about apples – green ones specifically.

“I don’t like green apples,” the explaining began.

“Green apples are sour,” chimed in a few others.

Well, with that said, I walked over to the snack table, curiously staring at the batch of rejected apples. I grabbed one, inspected it for good measure and then took a big bite (good thing I always enjoyed Drama class in school – it sure comes in handy teaching Kindergarten).

“Hmmm, yummy,” I teased. “It doesn’t taste sour to me.” I shrug my shoulders and continued promenading around the tables, crunching along, making my usual small talk.  I then finally sat down to enjoy the rest of my juicy apple.

Across the room, I noticed one student get up and grab an apple from the bin.

“This is sweet,” she announced (thank goodness for those unknowing volunteers). Soon, another green apple landed in the hands of an unsuspecting child, and before long, nearly all of the apples had been gone.

Continue reading