Monday, December 22, 2014


Today when I asked my son to please help me clean up a mess, he repeatedly ignored me. Then, when I asked my manuscript to please help me come up with the perfect ending, it repeatedly ignored me. Good thing I'm persistent.

Friday, November 21, 2014

You're Ugly, First Draft

First drafts are ugly. Good thing there is revision to make them beautiful. Just repeat until pretty.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

You Never Know

The other day my husband was going to go to the driving range. I sweetly suggested that he take our 4-year-old son. He looked at me and said, “I don’t know how that’s going to go.”

“Well I don’t know how the grocery store with three kids is going to go half the time,” I said to him, “but I still do it.”

Needless to say, he took our son to the driving range, and our son loved it. Now my husband takes him as often as he can.

I share this example, because to me it is like writing. One never knows exactly how a story is going to go, but that is ok. Sometimes the story will practically write itself. Sometimes it won’t. Sometimes the ending is easy and the beginning is difficult. Sometimes the title is causing all of the problems. Sometimes you don’t even want to try. But you have to try—even if you don’t know how it is going to go. Because your story, like my son, might just surprise you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Catching Fireflies

Ideas are like fireflies. They fly around in a magical glow, just waiting to be caught. And we, as writers, have the job of searching for and catching these fireflies.

This may seem easy enough, but often times it isn’t. It can be a tricky thing to capture a firefly. Sometimes they fly so close, but we can’t quite reach them. Sometimes they are too quick and fleeting, and we don’t have enough time to grab them. And sometimes we are not paying close enough attention to find them.

That is why there is PiBoIdMo. For the entire month of November, we get the chance to catch 30 fireflies. PiBoIdMo gives us the jar (notebook) and motivation (daily posts) that we need in order to catch our fireflies. PiBoIdMo gets us moving. It gets us thinking. And it gets us searching.

This will be my third year participating in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo, and I am excited. Every year that I have participated, I have come out with more than 30 ideas (or fireflies if you will).

There is something about participating that really puts your mind into firefly-catching mode. From the daily posts, to the Facebook page, PiBoIdMo is the perfect place to seek out and find ideas.

So come join me for this year’s PiBoIdMo, and see how many fireflies you can catch.

Artwork is courtesy of my eight-year-old daughter.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just Listen

Sometimes my characters, like my children, won’t listen to me. I try to make them listen. I tell them. I beg them. And sometimes I force them. But more times than not, it doesn’t work.

That is when I usually feel like screaming and pulling my hair out. But we all know how that turns out. So instead, I turn things around and listen to them. And more times than not, that is when I have my best writing and parenting moments.

So take the time to listen to your characters and your children. You never know what they might have to say.

Monday, September 15, 2014


I think I am doomed to always have an overdue library book. Not because I can’t remember when the book is due. Not because I don’t get to the library often enough. And not because I can’t find the book. The reason I seem to always have a library book overdue is: I have a hard time parting with a really good book.

I check out the book for as long as the library will let me, but it never seems long enough. I buy as many of my favorite books as I can, but I can’t buy them all. It is hard to say goodbye to a really good book. Even my children have a hard time saying goodbye. Just the other day, my son was helping me put our library books in the book slot, and he said, “What? We have to give these back?” I knew exactly how he felt.

And so, I think I will just come to terms with the fact that I will always have an overdue library book. There are worse things. Right?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing

Do sit and write

Don’t procrastinate

Do study your craft

Don’t assume you know everything

Do join an unbiased critique group

Don’t think your mom, dad, sister, brother, spouse, grandparents, or children will give you honest and helpful feedback

Do read books in the genre you wish to write

Don’t stop reading

Do write for yourself

Don’t write for trends

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Dos & Don’ts of a Query Letter

Do research each agent you send a manuscript to.

Don’t send out a mass email to as many agents as you can.

Do spell the agent's name correctly.

Don’t address your query with the heading, To Whom It May Concern or Dear Agent.

Do check your query for grammar mistakes.

Don’t send out an unedited letter.

Do follow submission guidelines.

Don’t use any crazy gimmicks.

Do tell the agent why you are sending your manuscript to them.

Don’t tell them that it is the next best seller.

Do study other successful query letters.

Don’t be arrogant.

Do put some personality into your letter.

Don’t be unprofessional.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Not Every Idea is a Good Idea—Unfortunately

When it comes to picture books, there are lots of story ideas. But as picture book writers, it is important to learn to discern between a good idea and a not so good idea. But how does one do this? Here are 5 authors and their tips on how to do just that.

1)Kate Messner says to write more. “Write something else. Something new. Write more. Because if you’re anything like me, you may have to skip a lot of stones before you get it just right.” Read more of her blog post here. I highly recommend it.

2)Josh Funk says that some ideas don’t work, and that’s ok. “Just grab your notebook and find another one.” Read his blog post here.

3)Tammi Sauer says to start with the title. “For me, the absolute hardest part about the picture book creating process is coming up with a good idea. A wow idea. An irresistible-to-editors idea. One approach that has worked for me is to brainstorm a list of potential titles before I even know a single word of a manuscript.” Read the entire article here.

4)Kelly DiPucchio says to relax. “One thing I have learned is that you can’t force inspiration. You need to relax, go about life, and trust that new ideas will emerge when the time is right.” Read her entire answer here.

5)Tom Litchenheld uses photographs of kids. “For inspiration, I have a bunch of photos of kids on my wall. Whenever I'm stuck for an idea, I look at one of those photographs and think to myself, ‘What would make THAT kid laugh?’” Read more here.

Looks like there are many different ways to find that good idea.

Imagination and Words

These are two things every writer needs … in abundance

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Treasure Trove of Words

The library is a treasure trove of words. My kids and I frequent this place as we try to find as many treasures as we can. Sometimes we get lucky and find so many treasures that we can hardly carry them in our arms (that is when we use the baby’s car seat). And on those occasions, we come home and enjoy our loot. We sit on the couch and neglect everything else. Toys are not played with, bikes are not ridden, TV is not watched, and dinner is not made. But we don’t care. We have found amazing, wonderful, beautiful books, and that truly is something to treasure.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Ideas for picture books really do come from all different places.  I just got an idea from the design on my daughter's blanket.  Who knew? 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Where Do Authors get their ideas?

Ever wonder where authors get some of their spectacular ideas for picture books? I do. So I have compiled a list of authors and where they got those winning ideas.

Kelly DiPucchio, author of Zombie in Love, said she got her idea from her editor who “had the title Zombie Valentines stuck in her head.” Read the full interview here.

Tammi Sauer said finding good ideas is hard. “Crazy hard.” She even said it took her over a year to come up with the idea for Me Want Pet! She finally got her ah-ha moment in the PetSmart parking lot. I guess one never knows when the best ideas will strike. Read the full interview here.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal came up with the idea for the book, Exclamation Mark, when a thought flashed through her mind: “my son is an exclamation mark.” Wow. Read the full interview here.

Bob Shea came up with the idea for his book, Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, when he was on his way to his son’s soccer practice. He saw some goats in a yard. It was unusual, and got him thinking. Read the full interview here.

Zachariah OHora got the idea for his book, No Fits Nilson, from his son who was in the middle of his terrible twos and threes. He said it was “like wrestling a gorilla out of the supermarket, that lead to the creation of Nilson the gorilla.” Read the full interview here.

Looks like winning ideas for picture books come from all different places.

Why the Bathtub is My Writing Friend

As a mother of young children, finding time to write can often be a difficult and impossible task. That is why one must be creative in order to get creative. I have found that the bathtub is just the thing for me. My son loves the bath. So much so, that he will often stay in there for over an hour. Now you might think that I would use this time to clean the pile of dishes in the sink. Nope. Or maybe I would tackle that pile of wrinkled laundry that has been sitting in the basket for a week. Nope. Or maybe I would take the time to actually mop the floors. Wrong again. I use that time to write. The dishes can wait. The laundry can acquire more wrinkles. And clean floors are overrated. But time by myself to write, that is precious; and I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Writing is like a Roller Coaster

To me, writing is very much like being on a roller coaster. Sometimes you’re up. Sometimes you’re down. Sometimes you’re thrown for a loop. And don’t get me started on waiting in that long line. (It is a long, tiring wait).

Just like a roller coaster, one never knows which way the “ride” of writing is going to go. It could be left, right or upside down. And just when you think you have it all figured out, you’re thrown for another loop.

As hard as this may seem, it is all part of the process. Writing is not easy. It is not predictable. It is not something you can plan out in a neat and orderly to-do list. It is something that takes time, effort, and a lot of hard work. It is something that one must love in order to wait in that line day after day after day.

I, for one, wait in this line everyday. And when I do get on the ride, I never know where it is going to take me. But I enjoy it anyway. I love to write. I want to write. I have to write. And if the only way to achieve my goals is to be up, down and all around, then so be it. This is what I love.

So bring on the roller coaster. I’m ready for another ride.