Writing and Drawing

I’m in the middle of revising one of my fantasy novels. This one involves fairy tale characters, so there has to be at least one castle, right? And a giant and…yeah, lots of fun characters and settings.

When one of Rich Davis‘ drawing posts came into my mailbox last week, it reminded me how fun the illustrations will be for this story I’m working on. Too bad I’m not a super illustrator like Rich. But with his step-by-step instructions, most anyone can become an artist.

Here’s the link to his “Draw a Castle.”  I hope you’ll give this picture a try–or try one of the other drawing lessons on Rich’s site.

As you can see below, I truly do have a CASTLE in my very own backyard. And a friendly GIANT lives there. He loves to go sledding with the children who drop by. 🙂

Saying Goodbye to 2013

It’s fun to take a look at my 2013 through photos. Come along with me, if you’d like to take a peak.

The year had some big stuff–like circus elephants

and a winter wedding

Plus more fun– visits from the Easter Bunny

and puddle splashing

There were zebras …

and chocolate birthday cupcakes

There were New Mexico hummingbirds and ….

California “Hummers”–signing with Mira Reisberg at Hummingbird Literary

There were Cardinal Playoff Games

and new books...

and book signings

and my writer buddies
As you can see, it was a wonderful year. 
Lots of new adventures
And lots of writing…
Here’s wishing you and yours A Wonderful 2014!

Holiday Poetry

A fun way to celebrate the holiday season for children of all ages is to create poetry. The poetry could be part of a Christmas card greeting, or a decoration to hang on the tree, or just a celebration of the winter season.

For young children, the poem can be a simple free verse phrase or two.
For older children, rhyme and rhythm can be incorporated.
For all, the choice of subjects abounds from wintery scenes, to well-known Christmas themes, or  even end of year reminiscing.

A simple poem exploring a winter scene is Winter Treats, found on my website. Use this poem to encourage children to look outside and describe a scene they see. Can they bring the scene to life with their words?

An example of a Santa poem at Essential Learning Products is Hip! Hip! Hooray! by Beverly McLoughland. This poem could be used with children to jump start their poetry writing. It also could be used as a geography lesson, traveling the globe with Santa.

For a more spiritual poem, read Christmas Day, also found on my website. Have the child find a Christmas card picture or perhaps an ornament that he likes. Then have the child use this image to create a poem in rhyme, free verse, or haiku.

Poetry should be a fun and creative process. There are no rights or wrongs–only writes!

Webster Groves Library Author Event

I hope you can join me this Friday evening at the first annual Missouri Author Expo at the Webster Groves Public Library. This event is designed for readers of all ages with authors of both adult and children’s works. Numerous authors will be doing readings from their books, as well as selling copies. What a fun way to meet some local authors and perhaps start your holiday shopping.
Here are the details:

Fri, November 8, 6pm – 9pm
Webster Groves Public Library – Adult and Teen Events
Come meet local authors! Enjoy readings from their books! Get a head start on holiday shopping! Fiction, non-fiction and children’s books! Refreshments!

October Reading Fun

Here it is October already and, of course, Halloween is just around the corner. But if you are looking for some fun reads besides ghosts and goblins, then Guardian Angel Kids new online magazine is waiting for you!

In the DOWN ON THE FARM issue, you’ll find chicks, and pigs, and even alpacas. There are stories, poems, and articles about farming and farm animals. Plus, a recipe for making your own butter–no churn required! You’ll find lots of other activities included as well–games, videos, and coloring pages to download.

An Alligator at Story Time

A very courageous librarian in Whitestone, New York–Susan Scatena at the Queens Library–promised eager summer readers that if they read at least 4,000 books she would read to a real life alligator. Well, close to 350 students signed up and read nearly 5,000 books, so Ms. Scatena did what she promised.

She read “There’s An Alligator Under My Bed” to five-foot Wally, a female alligator–and to hundreds of amazed children. Wally made no comment about the Mercer Mayer picture book, but she seemed mesmerized during the story time. A good book will do that to a reader.

I must admit that I’m much braver reading or writing a story ABOUT an alligator than actually reading TO one. But my hat is off to brave Ms. Scatena. She proved just how important children’s literacy is to her. Hopefully, you’ll be just as committed in helping the children you know–or yourself–be the best reader(s) possible.
The library–at your school or at the public library–is always a great place to start. There are so many choices of interesting, exciting, funny books that you can choose from. And I bet you can find a helpful librarian there as well.
Here’s to COURAGEOUS reading!

Jonathan Stroud Interview

Last week, I had the opportunity to spend an evening listening to Patricia Polacco–the incredible children’s picture book author and illustrator. And this week, I was quite excited to have the opportunity for a live presentation with British children’s author, Jonathan Stroud–the creator of the Bartemaeus Sequence. I’d read the books some time ago and loved their rich storytelling, adventures, and humor. I thought it would be quite a treat to meet Mr. Stroud in person, as well as learn of his new series–LOCKWOOD & CO: The Screaming Staircase.

But alas, this author event was forced to be cancelled due to some misfortune with Mr. Stroud. It seemed rather like one of the blocked avenues in his tales when the protagonist’s best laid plans goes awry. Lucky for me, however, I stumbled upon an online interview with Mr. Stroud, via PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. In fact, they have a number of interviews with various children’s authors available for a listen.

So while the online interview couldn’t take the place of a live author sighting, it was great to hear Mr. Stroud. I enjoyed his enthusiasm for his books and characters and felt privileged that he shared some of his writing insights.

I hope to listen to more of these online interviews–hope you can too!
But I plan to keep all the lights on 🙂

National Novel Writing Month

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve checked in here. November was a busy month. I signed up for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and finished the rough draft of a middle grade historical fiction story. So I was quite busy.

I’ve been asked, “Now what do you do?” Well, a rough draft is just that–rough. It still needs lots of work. I’ve already started to analyze the plot for weak spots, as well as the characters. Since this is historical fiction, I also need to do much more research to insure the accuracy of the time period.

But the initial readings of the story by some of my writer colleagues has been favorable. In the next few months, I hope to get feedback from a few industry professionals at Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators events I’ll be attending.

Darcy Pattison has a great website offering writerly advice. She sent out updates throughout the month of November with plot tips. They were wonderful. You can sign up to receive her weekly updates. Plus, she has a great book on revising a story, Novel Metamorphosis: Uncommon Ways to Revise. I’ll be referring to that for help with improving my new story.

Now back to my writing…

Book Giveaway & National Family Literacy Day

K. Dawn Byrd is featuring GIFTS FROM GOD at her blog this week. Stop by and leave a comment. You’ll have a chance to win a copy of the book. What a great way to celebrate NATIONAL FAMILY LITERACY DAY! The official day was last Tuesday, but everyday should be a family literacy event. Check out the website for lots of information on helping your child become a better reader and writer.

Reluctant Reader Tips and An Art Contest

You know I love to encourage young readers–especially reluctant ones.
Here is a great post with six tips for reluctant boy readers.

And for any young local artists, the St. Louis County Library is sponsoring a YOUNG @ ART CONTEST for students in grades K-12. This is a chance to have your artwork on display. The contest starts November 1. Visit www.slcl.org for more information.