Monday, November 4, 2013

Enough Said...

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives." ―Clay P. Bedford

Early Storytellers

We were lucky enough to spend some time in Arizona recently. These petroglyphs are about 1000 years old. What stories were the artists trying to tell us? Was it a time of sadness? A full moon? Was the stork part of a creation story or merely a heron eating a frog? How amazing that the desire to tell a story was so strong then and still is now!

PiBoIdMo is Off and Running

Picture Book Idea Month is off to a roaring start. I have read inspirational blogs, educational posts on Facebook and even a few pins on Pinterest. People have suggested all kinds of places to find those elusive ideas- everywhere from classic fairy tales, to childhood memories and walks in the woods.

 It sounds like I have spent far too much time on my computer, but not so! I have come up with a few ideas worth playing with.

I also want to share a few links that I found helpful.
Vikk Simmons on her blog Down the Writer's Path had some wonderful suggestions for where ideas might be hiding.

A question was asked about how to write in rhyme if it doesn't come naturally. I might suggest sticking with what does come naturally, it will seem the most honest and will show in the quality of the end result. Several good on-line resources were suggested for writing in rhyme. These included:
Lane Fredrickson's
Harold Underdown's link to Margot Finke
And finally The Meter Maids

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Getting Excited About PiBoIdMo

Picture book idea month is coming in November. I participated last year and diligently (and sometimes painfully) came up with a PB idea each and every day. Well, it's coming again...

The information about registration and logos (by author-illustrator Joyce Wan) by just arrived from Tara Lazar at I'm looking forward to having 30 fresh ideas by Dec. 1!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Websites for Writers

Writer's Digest published a list of the 101 Best Websites for Writers. Though they were not primarily focused on writing for children, there were several that I thought were helpful:
Winning Writers includes some poetry contests,
Cheryl Klein gives her perspective as a senior editor at Scholastic's Arthur A. Levine books,
Cynsations is Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog
WOW! Women on Writing includes market info and contests
 Wordsmith is just plain fun for word lovers.

Hapless Heron

I spent some time admiring this heron today. Story starter- How did he get that wound on his wing? What will happen next?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Do's and Don'ts for Writers

I have come across several lists with some suggested characteristics shared by successful writers. I found this one by Robin Gardner to be particularly helpful. The 9 Signs of an Amateur Artist at Skinny Artist also struck a chord. As I have had some quiet time to actually focus on a writing schedule, I realize how much I usually let other things get in the much can be accomplished with undivided attention!

A cautionary tale-- I am now on Facebook so these lists were found during time I spent distracted by my computer!

Friday, August 2, 2013

And Now for Something Completely Different... NATURE NOOK: Invaders of the Landscape

I wear several hats; wife, mom, aspiring children's author, master wildlife conservationist. Every now and then, I am going to switch hats and share some of the nature news I have learned. Welcome to the first edition of the Nature Nook. 

I spent some time waging war on some invasive plants. Invasives were imported to the US and spread abundantly after planting. They displace the native plants and decrease the diversity of the environment. Some of the invasive plants we were battling included:



 Multiflora Rose


Burning Bush

Why are native plants so important? There are species that have developed to survive on very specific native plants. For example, this spice bush swallowtail caterpillar will only feed on spice bush or sassafras. If the invasive plants had crowded out this sassafras bush, we would have also lost this caterpillar and the butterfly it will become.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Summertime is all about quiet reflection...and reading! My summer reading list is coming soon, if I can put my book down long enough to write it!

The View From the Adirondacks

The wild blueberries were SO abundant this year!

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Congrats to Natasha, a member of my critique group, for being a finalist in the picture book category for the Tassy Walden New Voices in Children's Literature award. And thanks to the Shoreline Arts Alliance for encouraging new writers. Well done!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting Out There

Two of the workshops I attended at the spring NESCBWI conference focused on goals I have set for myself...setting up a Facebook author's page and getting comfortable with the idea of doing school visits one day. Michelle Fontaine had some great tips for those of us that are really new to the world of social media. Her web-site is also packed with information. Kellie Celia from Walden Pond Press led us through the "whys" of school visits to the "hows" in an organized way that covered loads of material. She even included a Skype visit with a school librarian which showed how easily it could all be managed.

Learning Curve

At the NESCBWI conference in May, I attended a wonderful workshop about writing curriculum guides. The presenter,  Natalie Dias Lorenzi, was full of reasons why curriculum guides can be so important. She also reminded us of Bloom's taxonomy of learning domains...a flashback to college. These domains are helpful in choosing the types of questions asked:

Knowledge/Remembering- for example, yes/no questions, tell, list, describe
Comprehension/understanding- explain
Application- problem solving, choose, use
Analysis- organize, compare/contrast
Synthesis/evaluating- judge, determine
Evaluation/creating- plan, predict, design

Native or Invasive Species?

We saw this creature by the side of a quiet lakeside road in the Adirondacks of New York. Each time we drove past, some new item had been added...the latest being his potato pal. They were quite alarming when we came upon them one moonless night. There must be a story in there somewhere.

A Quick Grammar Lesson

My daughter has introduced me to author John Green...including his Youtube blogs--The Vlog Brothers and Mental Floss. I enjoy his quick wit.  He manages to concisely explain some common spelling and grammar mistakes in the following video.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rhyme Time @ The NE-SCBWI Conference

Rhyme, that enslaved queen, that supreme charm of our poetry, that creator of our meter. --Victor Hugo

This year's conference was fantastic. All the workshops were wonderful and I met some really talented people. Two of the classes that I attended related to my favorite form...rhyme. Janet Lawler spoke about The Sublime Rhyme and much of the expertise she shared is available on her web-site. Later in the weekend, I learned more of the essentials of the poetic form from Leslie Bulion. Both workshops were meaty and inspiring!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Writer's Conference Checklist

I just spent an hour or two getting ready for the up-coming NESCBWI conference for children's writers and illustrators. It's a weekend event that i have attended for the past several years. Here is a list of the things I did to prepare:

1. Volunteer! I feel so much more involved when I am helping out, and I have met some wonderful people. This conference, and many like it, depend on volunteers.

2. Know the faculty. Here is a fun excuse to hang out in the children's library. See what books the presenters of your workshops have written. Do they write books in the same style you do or is it something new and different?

3. Read the assignment. Some workshops request that you bring a work in progress in a certain genre. Make sure you do.  The time you spend on it during the workshop, whether it is looking at character, plot, rhyme, pacing, first time well spent.

4. Muster your courage. As someone who enjoys the crowd, but not being at the center of it, I sometimes need to remind myself that there are many out there with the same apprehension about jumping in and meeting new people. Set a goal for yourself, even if it is small. Meet one writer who works in the same genre you do. Ask for one person's card. Remember, most people like to talk about themselves and what they love, so be a good listener.

The items on this list may seem obvious, but it took me a conference or two before I was doing them all consistently.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Wood Frogs Were Calling

We were out for a walk today and heard what sounded like ducks quacking off in the woods. The wood frogs were calling us. We wandered down the path and saw a vernal pool off in the distance. Rather than bush-wacking, we stayed on the path because it lead to the graphite mine. How's this for a spooky entrance!?

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Ice is Talking

Sitting by a water this morning, I am enjoying the spring sunshine. I am also listening to the lake as is struggles to shrug off the ice or perhaps it is the ice fighting for a few more days. The ice groans and grumbles. With each sound, the water along the shoreline ripples. It sounds like whale songs echoing across the surface. Almost mystical...and lovely.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A New Adventure

I am so thrilled to have been accepted in to the Master Wildlife Conservationist program through the CT DEEP. The department is working to develop a volunteer corps to provide education and outreach for groups including libraries, schools, and the general public. In March I will start my 40 hours of training. Then I will give back with 40 hours of volunteer work. So many of my writing ideas focus on the wonders of nature, hoping to inspire a lifelong passion in children. I am eager to learn more....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


I have promised myself that I will write every day. Today I need to go to the library to research..but it's about 10 degrees out so I will wait until later. I have to revise a story line and add some meat to it..but I only have some very vague ideas about where I want to go with it. I have to put some finishing touches on a couple of magazine articles so I can send them off..but the cover letters, envelopes, SASE's are my least favorite thing to do. So..I am writing here instead and dreaming about warm summer places. This barn was one of my favorite spots. It was a short walk from the entrance to the Santanoni Preserve in Newcomb, NY. It was like walking back in time. This farm provided some of the food for the family that stayed in the Great Camp several miles down the road. It is a lesson in well as a bit of an American "Downton Abbey". I would have loved to know what the dynamics were like between the staff in the cabins that overlook this barn and the family in the lodge.

I Can't Wait!!