Tuesday, January 2, 2018

New Year, New Inspiration

I'm not a fan of New Year's resolutions, probably because I know I will just feel worse when I set about breaking them. However, I do like the idea of fresh starts, and as a children's librarian, the idea of themes per month and a set number of days in a month and....well just all that good stuff!

Soooo, having never tried PiBoIdMo before, I am on my second day of Tara Lazar's STORYSTORM (previously PiBoIdMo - thank you Tara for changing the name!) and can't wait to see how long I can stick with it!
(You probably know all about it since I am late to the party, but if not, go here):

Basically, you are spending the month of January coming up with at least 30 story ideas in 30 days. Why is that revolutionary? Because apparently I had 4.5 stories just sitting around inside my head and they would have not materialized at this point (maybe never) but for STORYSTORM. 

I also like the idea from some guest bloggers on Tara's site that changing location is good for inspiration. Again, something you KNOW, but don't DO. So since I'm in the arctic freeze, I relocated to our newish craft room/dance/yoga basement and found some inspiration as I played with the latest products from my 11-yr-old's slime studio.

I read 15 picture books I'd been meaning to read (and also because I'm on a book award committee and had to), re-wrote 2 picture book texts I really like the rhythm of, typed up a pb draft I'd written out on paper and came up with 2 new ideas! (I also did 4 loads of laundry but that doesn't seem to count).

So at least for this month, this will be the year where I focus on new ideas and lots of writing. Maybe less querying and less re-working of the same old stories. I'll check back in in February and see how it went...

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The Halloweensie Spirit (Pt. 2)

Ok, I am SOOO in the spirit that I wrote ANOTHER entry for Susanna Leonard Hill's



I am not usually a writer of rhyme, but this seemed like the perfect place to give it a try (and Halloween seems to call for scary atmosphere or silly rhymes!) A huge THANK YOU to my writer friend and rhyme-guru Nancy Tandon https://nancytandon.com/ for helping me in record time! I still can't believe I got it down to 88 contest words - just goes to show that you can ALWAYS cut more...


Treat bag in hand, this monster was dressed,

Trick-or-treating was finally in sight.

But my tummy rumbled, my monster guts grumbled,

I asked mom “what’s for dinner tonight?”  

She said, “Candy for dinner!” What could be better?

I danced down the shadowy streets.

I ate sour things, gooey things, candy corn chewy things,

My insides filled up with sweets.

When we got home, I counted my loot,

With a belly that rumbled and hurt.

I shed monster fur, pulled off my mask

And asked Mom, “Hey, what’s for dessert?” 

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Halloweensie Spirit!

I had such fun with Susanna Leonard Hill's holiday writing contest last year that I wanted to try this one:


~ for children’s writers ~

Check out her blog at https://susannahill.com/blog/

  So the rules are that you have to use 100 words or less, and include the words MONSTER, CANDY CORN (1 word), and SHADOW in a Halloween story. Here goes! I can't wait to read all the fun entries this weekend!


Curious George got the last chewy fruities.
The purple monster nearly bumped me off the step when she grabbed the giant chocolate bar.
Mint patty? Candy corn?
My costume itched.
“Trick-or-treat!” I heard behind me.
I had to think fast – mint patty or candy corn?
Grabbing the candy I jumped off the step, not sure I chose right.
I saw a shadow of big ears by the bushes.
“I dropped all my chewy fruities,” said the sad monkey.
I pulled out the mint candy.
“Want it?”
“Yuck,” said George.
“I know,” I said. “Want to hunt for more chewy fruities?”
George smiled.



Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Did Not Write This Summer

Now that the kids are back to school, I'm reflecting on all the writing I did this summer, which was basically NONE. Nothing. But I've decided I'm not going to feel bad about it. I talked with a writer friend this morning, and she confirmed that she too, sat at her desk today and couldn't quite remember where things were.
I know kids are not an excuse (look at what J.K. did! blah blah...) so I'm just going to skip the excuses and not feel bad about it. Obviously had any fabulous agents or editors requested something on deadline, I would have gotten to work. But they didn't, so neither did I.
So here's my "Writer's Ode to This Summer", and you can guess whether I was ever a good rhymer or if my summer-slide has caused irreparable harm.

I did not write at the lake,
I did not write at a clambake (nor did I get invited to one).

I did not write at the beach,
I did not write eating a peach.

I did not write in a car,
I did not write with a jar (of blueberry preserves).

I did not write in the sun,
I did not write with a hamburger bun (I'm a vegetarian).

I did not write under a starry sky,
I did not give it the college-try.

I did not write on my kayak,
I did not write on anything that rhymes with kayak.

I did not write on my neighbor's cool boat,
I did not write on a unicorn float.

I did not write with a beer and a lime,
I did not write - for I had no time.

And in the future, I'll write on my own you see, 
For I did not get into Rutgers University (One-on-One+ Conference).

But today, today I will write and you too should write and not feel bad about all the time wasted this summer. For in the immortal words of the Keith Urban song,

"Ain't it funny how the best days of my life, was all that wasted time?"

Monday, May 8, 2017

When the librarian/children's writer goes on vacation...

Last month I went on a short trip to Canada with friends and family. No writing, no emails - just lots of good food, history, and sights. But of course, I could not truly leave the children's book world behind.

I found myself wandering into the cutest store, pulled in by their adorable clothing designs. Not long after, I made the connection from this:

to these:

Turns out the store, HATLEY, is the parent company of Little Blue House, which was started by author/illustrator Nicholas Oldland's parents! He went on to publish 4 more picture books starring those adorable woodland creatures who are out to hug trees and be friends and all that good stuff! Check out their story on the website for more charm and adorableness.

So not only did I buy the pajama pants, but I bought notepads and other things I had to have. And I promise I am not being paid when I say that the pajama pants are SOOOOO comfy! My kids are completely jealous that they bought lame t-shirts somewhere else.

Lesson #1 - you cannot escape from adorable picture books once you are hooked, even if you leave the country.
Lesson #2 - not only does Canada have Justin Trudeau, they also have amazing pajamas.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

When Manuscripts Haunt You

I am finally putting away the folder for a middle-grade manuscript I started in 2003. Without going into boring detail, it was the first manuscript I ever wrote, and what spurred me on to write children's fiction. In the past 14 years I revised it here and there (the first chapter maybe 546 times but who's counting), sent it out a few times, and literally and figuratively stashed it in the drawer for years on end.

But it haunted me.

When I saw that a new book had come out with similar themes, it haunted me.

When I sat down to write something else, it called to me like a drunken teenager at a frat party - "Write me, you know you want to. Everyone else is doing it."

I almost totally avoided writing anything in 2014 because I couldn't bear to SIT in the chair by the desk where it hid.

But slowly over that year, I made the decision to REALLY work at writing. I joined a great, new critique group and a few online writing communities. And once the real writing happened, it was only a matter of time before I would have to tackle this manuscript. Mind you, it wasn't haunting me nearly as much when it knew I was doing all these awesome writerly things. I think it knew I was coming for it.

So I am now done revising it on my own. Not another word shall be changed in that manuscript unless requested so by an agent or editor. It was really fun to crack open the second half of the manuscript (which needed it the most) and just go for it. But now, it has been exorcised.

I  went to a writer's workshop this weekend where I got to hear an amazing keynote address by writer Alice Mattison. Even though she writes adult manuscripts and short stories, her words rang true for everyone.

"Protect your writing time - other people are not going to
 protect it for you."

But what I loved most was this quote about revision and reading your own work:

"If you can get your book not to recognize you..." (she suggests reading in a different part of the house or possibly wearing a hat) "...what it will do is, what you want to do is, read it as if you didn't know what was coming."

I guess my disguise was more pounds and wrinkles than I had 14 years ago. Maybe after all this time I managed to sneak up on IT and read and revise a totally new manuscript. After 14 years, maybe it was.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I HEARD A ROAR - #50 Precious Words Challenge

I'm finding that writing contests are a great way to get inspired! So here's my entry in Vivian Kirkfield's


In honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday, Vivian is having us write a story using only 50 words, unlike Dr. Seuss who used limited words over and over again. Get it? Two different approaches to a fun writing prompt that I suggest you try!

So here's mine, inspired by what I do a my job all the time - try to entice young readers! Whether it's getting the shy one to come to storytime, or getting new readers to challenge themselves in a new genre, I spend a lot of time connecting kids with books. It's my passion! Thanks for reading!

I Heard a Roar

Mama said, story time?


It’ll be fun.


You’re friends are going in-

I watched them run to the door.  I stayed near Mama.

 She might read one you’ll like?


Maybe dinosaurs, boats?

You read.

I’ll be right here.

I walked to the door. I heard a roar.