Wednesday, January 27, 2010

26 Books in 28 Days: What Did I Get Myself Into?

The "reminder" e-mail jolted me awake this morning as I sat blinking at my inbox before breakfast.

Oh yeah, that did sound like an absolutely wonderful idea when I first visited the Picture Book Marathon official website and signed up a couple of weeks ago...

At the current moment, the challenge of writing 26 picture books in the month of February (read:  that's two days off in the entire month) seems daunting.  But those who know me know that I am a committed, hard-working writer and I am certainly determined to pull it off.  Besides, this is going to make for a GREAT March for all of the other writers in my critique groups (not to mention I'll have a full arsenal to get ready for submission).

So, follow my adventure in writing 26 picture books over the next month, right here on my blog!  These will be aimed for an audience of children and written to be illustrated.  Or, if you're daring enough....sign yourself up before January 29th at PictureBookMarathon.org and get ready...get set...WRITE!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Winning 3rd Place Feels...Great, Actually!

For those who do not know:  I am competitive.  Over the last four years as a mother, though, I've slowly let myself realize that doing my best is far more satisfying than playing a game I know I'll win.

With that in mind, I entered my first writing contest, the 2010 Transitions Abroad Narrative Essay contest without any expectation of winning. Rather, I felt the satisfaction of knowing I poured my heart into the essay and had the professional courage to let two seasoned editors give a truthful critique before sending it in (thank you Tracy and Melissa).

Fourteen days later, I had the results: My essay, "A Return to the Smallest Country in Africa," had taken third place (and I was getting some cash, too!).

Now, if I were playing trivia, I would brood over a 3rd place finish for a long time.  My writing career, however, is nothing but trivial to me, and I see it this way:  I've added another notch to my writing portfolio, been paid to do it, and the story I tell in the essay will be read by a target readership that is likely to be inspired to action.  Mission accomplished, 3rd place is great.  (Although I can always aspire to take first place next time around...)

If you're interested in reading "A Return to the Smallest Country in Africa," visit Transitions Abroad in February 2010, when the winners will be published. AND - if you're a writer, make sure to check out their contest page: they have another contest deadline in February!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reading Multicultural Books to Kids: Want to try?


Over the years, my favorite kinds of stories to read to young children have been multicultural or global in nature. Why? To see the excitement in their eyes as they travel to a distant place, learn a new word, or realize something meaningful about their own history.

Again in February, I will read Seven Spools of Thread to a group of local elementary students during their Multicultural month. The story, by Angela Shelf Medearis, is a tale about seven quarrelsome brothers and their father's ultimatum: to make gold from seven colored spools of thread or be left without an inheritance. As I read, kids will learn how the brothers employ the "Nguzo Saba," (the seven principles of Kwanzaa) as they come together and create the first Kente cloth, now one of the most well-known and prosperous traditional icons of West Africa.  I first read this story as part of my bi-weekly Multicultural Kids Program at A Better Footprint.

Reading multicultural books to kids is often most rewarding far AFTER the story ends though. My own daughter (age 3), for example, said something amazing yesterday: we were clearing a path through the pile of toys on the floor when she looked up and said "Mom, we're making a 'Show Way!'" And I grabbed her and her baby brother and shouted, "And I'm gonna to love those babies on up 'so, yes I'm gonna love those babies on up."

If you live in the Green Bay area and want a chance to read your own or someone else's multicultural or globally themed book to a classroom of eager ears, read this post from Principal Theresa Williams:
Prince of Peace Catholic School (3542 Finger Road) is having a Multicultural Ready, Set, Read on Monday, February 1, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. We are looking for 4-5 people from different cultures to read a story to our Kindergarten through grade 5 students (such as Native American, Mexican, Hmong, Italian, Irish, German, etc.). We would have the students rotate in groups among the 4-5 storytellers (12-15 minutes each). If extra time permits after reading the story they could tell the students more about that culture, show them clothing, artifacts, pictures, maps, etc. if they have them. To sign up today email:  theresamarywilliams@yahoo.com

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Writing Fun: Turning the Ho-Hum into Humdingers

Recently, I was awarded a freelance writing job (out of 20 other writers bidding on the project) which turned out to be extraordinarily fun (and quite a challenge)!

Generous parents donated everyday run-of-the-mill items for their school auction, and the school was looking for a creative copywriter to rewrite the descriptions to entice bidders and jazz up their auction booklet!

With a smashing proposal letter, my bid was chosen!  But when the descriptions came, some were a bit scarce (note:  I didn't have photographs of any of the items).  With my clever background in catalog writing, however, I put a spin on each item and cranked out some awesome descriptions!

For example, I was given:  black nylon ruched prada evening bag

And turned it into:
My Mommy Wears Prada: Black Prada Ruched Evening Bag
Is it hot in here or is it just...you?  Italian-made, New York Chic.  For all that you do, treat yourself to an authentic designer nylon purse in black that goes great with everything.  Justified with an auction-style bargain and a charitable cause, even hubby won't have any reason to protest your impulse buy.  Go for it, girl!

And I was given: $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma

And turned it into:
Extreme Home Makeover:  Williams-Sonoma $100 Shopping Spree
Uncle Joe's Christmas gift didn't quite make the grade?  Head to Williams-Sonoma with this $100 gift card and pick up the special home or kitchen gadgets you really wanted over the holidays.  Stretch your dollar even further - gift cards are good on sale and clearance merchandise too!  As for Uncle Joe's present, we smell a "re-gift."

Anyway, it was a very fun job and I enjoyed the atypical writing challenge (it beats SEO keyword articles anyday!).  Want to know how to snag jobs like this...?  Compete with a world full of writers at Elance and who knows...you might just be getting paid to do some awesome creative writing! Click this link to get started!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Publications / Writing Portfolio for Miranda Paul

Non-Fiction Articles

Seasonal Spending Crucial for Fair Trade, Handmade Products (Nature's Pathways, December 2008)

Coffee's New World Reputation (Nature's Pathways, June 2009)

Eco-Tourism Offers a Healthier Kind of Vacation (Nature's Pathways, July 2009)

The Many Benefits of Unrefined Shea Butter (Nature's Pathways, August 2009)






Study Up:  Education Linked to Longer Life Expectancy (Nature's Pathways, September 2009)

Can Chocolate Really Make the World Happier? (Nature's Pathways, October 2009)



Health Care & Health Care System Are Two Different Subjects (Nature's Pathways, December 2009)



Turmeric:  Nature's Healer (Nature's Pathways, January 2010)



Creative Non-Fiction

"A Return to the Smallest Country in Africa" (3rd Place Winner, Transitions Abroad, February 2010)



Fiction, Poetry and Children's Literature

"Entropy" (Avatar, 2003)

Women in Poetry (Selected Speaker, 2003)

Other titles forthcoming in 2010



Marketing and Sales Copywriting (List of Clients)


GOAL Eyecare Software

I-Love Africa.com

Prince of Peace School

Boutique Secrets

Makes Sense Candle Company

The Auction Partner

A Better Footprint






Editing, Proofreading and Layout

The Point News (Sports Editor, Editor in Chief 2001-2003)


"Tutu and Little Bird" (by Eucabeth Odhiambo, forthcoming children's picture book)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Introduction: A Short Biography of Miranda "Sibo" Paul

Miranda Paul is a native of Green Bay, WI.  The daughter of a teacher and an entrepreneur, she quickly excelled at all things academic.  At the age of 15 she discovered her passion for adventure and exploration and became the first of her family to obtain a passport and live abroad. 

Miranda obtained a degree in English from Saint Mary's College of Maryland, and founded a Gambian Teacher internship before completing her degree from the institution.  During her original service in The Gambia, the smallest country in Africa, Miranda was honored with a Gambian namesake and was given her own naming ceremony (hence the name "Sibo").  In 2004, the President of Gambia himself invited Miranda and several others to return to the country for a cultural festival.

Miranda was fortunate enough to find her soul mate at the age of 23 and married her Creole-speaking husband in a stunning island wedding that integrated their two cultures.

Eager to dedicate more of their time and talents toward providing opportunities for the impoverished, Miranda and her husband founded A Better Footprint in 2007.   The non-profit Fair Trade organization now markets and sells products from over 25 nations and helps preserve authentic, handmade crafts and traditions for many indigenous peoples.  Over 400 families have benefited directly from their efforts.

In 2009, Miranda and her husband welcomed their son Amani Harris into the world.

To date, she has traveled to ten countries on three continents and lives locally when traveling.

Welcome to Miranda Paul Books!

Thank you for visiting my writing blog.  Unlike my other blogs, this one is will be dedicated to my freelance and creative writing projects.  The structure and topics will be as random as the inspiration behind them.

Obviously, there's not much here yet.  It's still in my head or published elsewhere.  Suggestions and comments welcome.

In the meantime, feel free to read my biography.  For a young mother of two, my life has been incredible.  I feel blessed for the many gifts and talents bestowed upon me, the discipline and values instilled in me by my mother and grandmother to use my gifts for good and for the many people who continue to support my work.
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