Month: September 2015

"Hiccup For Me." The inspiration behind a story.


Most of the children’s stories I write, although fiction, come from a childhood memory or develop from some random remark my daughter makes. However, one of my favorite stories came about when our dog got a near-clinical case of hiccups.

drawn by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

drawn by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

Hiccups…. I pondered over a cup of minty tea. A dog with hiccups! That could be embarrassing. Hmmm… Do I know what it’s like to get the hiccups at an inopportune time? YES! My mind zipped back to my 6th grade history class. 6th grade—an awkward enough time in a kid’s life, but paired with Mr. McNab, my history teacher, 6th grade was intolerable. You see, Mr. McNab LOVED when a student in his class hiccupped.

He’d be droning on and on about the details of the Boston Tea Party when from some remote corner of the universe that was our classroom…


Pausing his lecture to place his piece of chalk on the wood ledge, Mr. McNab rotated like a lighthouse beacon and faced his students. His eyes deliberately panned the rows, searching and waiting for the perpetrator to reveal him or herself. Ears cocked and alert, he waited.


With the keen moves of a hawk, Mr. McNab sought out his prey.  Swooping in on his helpless victim, his large hands securely gripped the sides of the defenseless kid’s desk. Lowering his head to achieve direct eye contact, he demanded, “Hiccup for me.” Keeping his eyes locked on the poor kid’s quivering face, he waited for another hiccup.

drawn by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

drawn by Leslie Leibhardt Goodman

“Come on…hiccup for me.”

Damn if that didn’t work every time! Pure humiliation is an awesome cure for hiccups. When the kid (whose name I’ll not reveal…) couldn’t hiccup, Mr. McNab resumed class with a smirk on his face as if he knew he’d won.

So, having that personal memory to fall back on, (woops…did I say personal?)  I had what I needed to write a fictional story about a dog who got the hiccups. Sink the hairy fellow in a totally embarrassing situation, and voila! I am sooooo ready to write.

Sometimes the most embarrassing moments in our childhood make for the funniest stories.

More of the stories that inspire my stories to come!

I'm Back!


nature-3I know I have been rather quiet on my blog, and to tell you that I’ve been busy is an understatement. Summer vacation came sooner than I expected, and with my daughter home from school, getting the same number of hours of writing each day didn’t happen. (no surprise for any of you who have children.) That said, I did enjoy the many extra hours I got to spend with her, baking cookies, taking walks at the park, seeking out anything wabi-sabi, playing board games, losing to her at mini golf (seriously? High score doesn’t mean I won?), going out for ice cream, playing dress-up, and having fancy tea parties in her room where we pretend we are the oldest and dearest of friends.

Still, the writer in me craved a few hours of time on my laptop. And when I claimed those precious hours, the sweet voice of my daughter asked…

“Aren’t you done working yet?

I let you write in peace for a whole half hour. Isn’t that enough?

Geez, Mommy, you seriously look like you could use a break!

While you’re waiting for your characters to talk to you, could I sing?

If you name one of your characters after me I’ll let you have 15 more minutes of quiet.

CRASH in the kitchen followed by, “Everything is nearly OK in here. Don’t bother interrupting your work to check…

The dog told me he wants you to take him for a walk. Can I come along? We could stop at the playground for a couple of hours. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

I managed to squeeze in two hours of writing time each day and happily gave the rest of day to my little girl. “Focus,” I told myself. “Make a list of your goals and stick to it.

I gave myself the gift of the Kidlit Summer School classes. Weeks of daily lessons on the ins and outs of plotting from a cornucopia of talented writers. I read each lesson twice, highlighted the points I wanted to work into my writing, and then spent my precious two hours a day at my laptop—fingers flying on hot keys.

After the sad, last day of Kidlit Summer School, I flew with my family to California for the wedding of my sister-in-law, followed by the daunting task of emptying my childhood house. With the passing of my father, this task took precedence. If you are picturing a typical family home filled with typical household furniture and array of knickknacks–stop the vision.

The house I grew up in was far from typical. (Something I never realized until my first play date when I was seven.) My father was an astrophysicist by day and a master violin maker by night. Around the holidays, he lived in his printmaking shop, printing 20 color block prints on vintage presses. My mother, a scientific illustrator, drew the color separation images on wood blocks that my father later engraved. Dad had other interests and hobbies which filled bookshelf after bookshelf in our home – two layers thick per shelf. Bookshelves were my parents’ answer to wallpaper (mine, too). Dad worked beneath our home – that is to say, in place of a standard basement one might use for a TV room, recreation room, storage space, laundry room, Dad designed our home with two levels of basements. (I thought that was normal, too.)

icebergThe basements, like the underside of an iceberg, was where Dad kept his scientific machinery for his work along with a metal machine shop and wood shop.

So, for the last three years, my sister and I have been working to find homes for everything, not to mention hiring an industrial auction house to identify the equipment for sale. As of last week, the house is empty and nearly ready to go on the market. Somewhere in the experience of rummaging through my mother’s and father’s lifetime of possessions, lives a book I need to write, maybe several books.

The jist of this blog post: I’m back and will try to connect with you more frequently. I’ve missed our chats.

Happy writing.

Leslie Leibhardt Goodman