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A Minute of Time with Larry Verstraete

0af604035b5121092813cda8ad865055_sThis time around I asked fellow Anita Factor writing group member, Larry, the following two questions:

What inspired you to write your first book?

I was enrolled in a correspondence writing course at the time.  For our third assignment, we were asked to write an article for a children’s magazine.  I figured lightning would be a fascinating subject for kids.  While doing research on the topic, I encountered a story about a weird demonstration conducted by Benjamin Franklin in 1750 that involved zapping a turkey with a powerful jolt of electricity.  Things didn’t go as planned.  Franklin accidentally touched one of the connections and was sent flying.  The loud bang and flash of light produced by the discharge reminded him of lightning. The experience led him to his most famous and dangerous experiment two years later – launching a kite in a thunderstorm to test the properties of lightning.

Image result for accidental discoveries verstraeteRight off, I realized that I’d found writer’s gold – a true story so odd and fascinating that properly told, it practically guaranteed the reader’s attention. I abandoned my earlier subject –  lightning – and wrote about Franklin and the turkey instead. Then, as I worked on my course assignments, I wrote other science stories with similar mixes where mishaps, mistakes, and unusual circumstances ultimately led to major breakthroughs. By the end of the course, I had a sizeable collection – enough for a decent book. Scholastic published the manuscript under the title The Serendipity Effect. Years later, it was revised and reissued under its present title: Accidental Discoveries: From Laughing Gas to Dynamite.

What are you reading now?

Image result for The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings that Sell by Paula MunierRight now, I am reading a reference book called The Writer’s Guide to Beginnings: How to Craft Story Openings that Sell by Paula Munier, a top literary agent.  The book covers much more than just the first chapter, but also what should happen after the beginning.  Munier writes with clarity and wit, and she includes numerous examples drawn from a swath of genres.  On every page, I find insider tips and valuable information.  I’d recommend this book to everyone who writes fiction whether they be novices or seasoned veterans.

Please connect with Larry:

Website/Blog: The Footloose Writer
Facebook: @larry.verstraete.author
Twitter: @VerstraeteLarry
Instagram: @larryvrstraete
Pinterest: @Larryverstraete
LinkedIn: Larry Verstraete
Goodreads: Larry Verstraete

Bio:
Larry Verstraete began writing for youngsters while he was still teaching.  He is the award-winning author of 16 non-fiction books for young people and one middle grade novel.  His most recent release is ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016), a book about the Western Interior Seaway and its exotic creatures. Larry is a frequent visitor to schools where he shares his enthusiasm for reading and writing with students, teachers and parents.

A Minute of Time with Larry Verstraete

Larry and I actually met as members of a writing group. Prior to the Anita Factor, we were both involved with Vast Imaginations. After a few years, the two groups amalgamated.

0af604035b5121092813cda8ad865055_sWhen Larry and I first met, he was already an award-winning, established writer of several non-fiction books for children. He joined our writing group as he was writing his first middle grade novel. A few years later, Missing in Paradise, was published, with recognition to boot.

We often joke within the Anita Factor that in amongst a bunch of “Anitas,” Larry is our one “Anito!” As a retired teacher, Larry is observant, patient and thoughtful. He cares about his friends and will always lend a listening ear. He was a supportive sounding board for me during  my ridiculously stressful 2016. I treasure his friendship.

In my attempts to get to know my fellow writers a little better, I asked Larry the following:

What was the last book you finished? Would you recommend it?

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  Highly recommended.  Insightful, humorous, intriguing plot line, and, for something different, it also features a philosopher-dog as a protagonist.

 

What was your favourite book as a child/teen? Do you remember what it was about the book that made it your favourite?

(tough question, so many…)

The Source by James A. Mitchener

I read this 900 page book when I was 15. Mitchener sweeps through time, blending historical fact with a fictional plot and characters.  I was blown away by the way he tied so many elements about religion together.  It was my first ‘heavy’ read, and once I finished Michener’s book I went on to read other equally weighty ones with that mix of history, fiction, and challenging ideas.

(Side note: As a young lad, I don’t have many memories of books.  We didn’t have many books kicking around our house.  But as a teenager, I made regular trips to our local library so most of my favourite books come from that era.)

Please connect with Larry:

Website/Blog: The Footloose Writer
Facebook: @larry.verstraete.author
Twitter: @VerstraeteLarry
Instagram: @larryvrstraete
Pinterest: @Larryverstraete
LinkedIn: Larry Verstraete
Goodreads: Larry Verstraete

Bio:
Larry Verstraete began writing for youngsters while he was still teaching.  He is the award-winning author of 16 non-fiction books for young people and one middle grade novel.  His most recent release is ‘Dinosaurs’ of the Deep: Discover Prehistoric Marine Life (Turnstone Press, 2016), a book about the Western Interior Seaway and its exotic creatures. Larry is a frequent visitor to schools where he shares his enthusiasm for reading and writing with students, teachers and parents.

 

A Rare Sighting – Blue Jay

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I love blue jays, they are beautiful birds. I rarely see them though. They are common here in Manitoba where I live, but they seem to rarely appear. I was ecstatic to get these shots!

Town Mascots

In July 2016, my family drove from Winnipeg to Bakers Narrows, Manitoba. Bakers Narrows is a small town north of The Pas and somewhere south of Flin Flon.

Along the way, I captured some images of town mascots.

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The white horse at St. Francois Xavier. Created by Winnipeg sculptor George Barone, the statue commemorates an Aboriginal legend.

happy-rock
Happy Rock for the town of Gladstone. You get it, right?!

swan-lake
Swan River has an elegant… well, swan. Of course!

flin-flon  flin-flon-sign
And the town of Flin Flon has the fictional character, Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin from the novel, The Sunless City by Preston Muddock.

Flitting Wings

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butterfly 3 butterfly 4

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The flitting wings of butterflies.

Assiniboine Park Zoo, butterfly house.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
This was my first time testing my new macro lens. 100mm.

Photography 101 – Plant Sheep

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A plant sheep at Nature’s Playground in Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Photography 101 – Golden Boy

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The Golden Boy atop our Manitoba Legislative Building.
A sunset reflecting turns the tower a redish colour.

Oh so Teeny Bunny

James (see About James) was going to clean up what we thought was a dead baby animal, typical TJ gifts.

TJ USETJ loves to leave us gifts!

However, when James went to pick it up it moved. He came to me and said he thought it was alive and held the little body in his hand.

teeny bunny 1 teeny bunny 2

A teeny bunny. As it warmed from the heat of James’ hands, it became more mobile. Although it’s eyes weren’t open yet, it did root against his fingers and at one point roll over. We rushed it to Wildlife Haven, in Ile Des Chenes, Manitoba, only about 15 minutes from our home. Wildlife Haven gives veterinary care to abandoned and injured wildlife. I’m so thankful that we had a place to bring the little guy.