Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Contest

Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her 5th annual holiday contest.
Below is my entry. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.



Dancing around the Christmas gnome

At Santa’s North Pole home.

Ten lively little elves

Go running to and fro

While stacking games and toys

Out in the falling snow.

Eight reindeer prance and paw

So anxious to take flight

On their trip around the world

Under the bright moonlight.

But, where is old St. Nick?

He’s nowhere to be found.

The sleigh needs a driver

If it’s to leave the ground.

He’s not in the kitchen.

He’s not in the stalls.

He’s under the mistletoe

Kissing Mrs. Claus!

His chubby cheeks turn red

As Rudolph’s big red nose.

He grabs his hat and boots

And out the door he goes.

He jumps into his sleigh

And grips the reigns real tight.

He waves to all the elves

And flies off at midnight.

Little kids lie in bed

But cannot sleep that night.

They wait up for Santa

With eyes so big and bright.

While sneaking down the stairs

They hear a “ho, ho, ho!”

And spy Mom and Santa

Under the mistletoe!

Monday, November 30, 2015

I Did It!

November has come to an end.
I have 30 new ideas for picture books.
How about you? How many ideas do you have?

Now that we have our ideas -  we write.

We should try to:

Pick the perfect words - the perfect character - the perfect place.
But, keep it under 500 words and don't be preachy.

Be original. Put a new twist on an old story.
Show and don't tell, please.

And, do not write in rhyme - unless you are very, very good at it.
   (I must admit that I don't always follow my own advice.)

Revise, revise and revise.

But, most of all, write the story that will have kids saying, "Read it again! Read it again!"

It is not easy. But, nobody said it was going to be. Except for those people who think anyone can write for children, because the stories are so short and the readers are so young.

But, we know better.

So, let's get to work. I know we can do it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Editing a Picture Book

How do you edit a picture book?

Here are a few of my suggestions.

Read it and see if it fits into the age group you are shooting for.

Ask yourself ---

Does it have a plot?

Does it have a satisfying ending?
(I just read a middle grade novel. I was anxious to see how it ended, but when I turned and read the last page. I thought, What? Is this the end? I was very unsatisfied with the ending.) Don't let your readers down - have a good ending.

Does it use good word choices for a picture book?

Do you use repetition and alliteration to your advantage?

Does it pass the read aloud test? Word, rhythm and sound are important.

Can you visualize the illustrations?

Did you use the senses in your story?

Does each sentence move the story along?

Does it past the so what test?

I've been editing one of my picture books - again. This book has changed many, many times. I like the story and I really want it to go somewhere. So, lately I have been looking at it under a magnifying glass. I recently said to myself, so what. So what that this happened in the text, so what the character did this or that. I decided my story needed more substance. The character needed more incentive. The story just needed something else.  

 So, I went back and looked at it with a more critical eye. I changed it again. In this process I also took out some of my favorite lines, (my babies that I loved), because I realized the story didn't need them. And, you know what, removing those lines didn't hurt me or the story like I thought it would.

I also took it to my writing group again.  Among other minor changes, there was one word that they just did not like. They said they could not associate the verb with the noun I was using it with. One spoke up and said, "Now, Janet, listen to what we are saying. We all agree it doesn't fit. You need to change it."

So, after a little brainstorming we came up with the perfect word. And the best way to reword the two sentences.

So, my last suggestion is to put on your tough skin and get to work!

I end this blog post with this thought, all the above is easier said than done. It may be easy to see what is wrong with other manuscripts, but not easy to see what is wrong with 'your' manuscript. You are too close to it. So let other eyes see it, too.

But, if you love writing for children, don't give up. Be optimistic. Keep writing and improving and some day your dream of being published will come true.

Monday, October 26, 2015


It is that time of year again.

The time of year when we brainstorm and come up with a month of picture book ideas.

The time of year when we let our minds go back to being a child. It is when we sit at our writing desk and let our inner child flow onto the paper and come up with ideas! Some may be great ideas, some may be terrible ideas, but ideas they are. And we must have ideas before we can write the manuscripts. Having ideas is where it all starts.

Are you ready to take the challenge, too? If so click on the PiBoIdMo badge on my sidebar and sign up.

Becoming a successful writer for children is more than I have a memory or an idea and I want to write it down. 

It is making changes to make your ideas and memories into a story that is good enough to be published. It is being persistent and determined and dedicated.

Sometimes this means changing details that you might want to keep in the story. Sometimes this means thinking outside of the block. Sometimes this means working day and night until your story is just right, or as close to just right as you can get it.

But, it always means being dedicated to making it the best story you can write. It means getting other eyes to look at it. It means being open to suggestions. It means growing and learning each and every day of your writing life.

 But, most of all, it means not giving up. Because if you give up, it will never happen.

Writing for children is different than writing for adults. Everyone doesn't have the knack for writing for children. Writing less words, does not mean it is easier, as some people think.  But, writing fewer words means each word is very important. You must brainstorm to come up with the perfect words and the best words for your story.

Happy writing.

This November, during PiBoIdMo, I hope you come up with that one special idea that makes a great manuscript!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Writer's Block

Writer's block - do you ever get it?


I have had it a couple of times - at least!

I have been working on a new middle grade novel, a sequel to one of my other ones I have written. I started on it a couple years ago - at least!

I let it set for a long time, and then recently brought it out, dusted it off and started writing again.

It is moving along at a slow pace. I took it to my writer's group and we put our heads together and came up with ideas on what, when and where.

I write a monthly column for kids. I usually come up with ideas pretty easy. I like to have the subject matter have something to do with the month or time of year.

This gives me more leeway than you think.

One of my April topics was the Pony Express (established in April 1860). Did you know February was National Blah Buster month? You would if you read my February 2011 Column. And, I love giving kids fun crafts and easy recipes to try.

But, for some reason, I was coming up blank for November's column. I have already written about turkeys, how the pilgrims celebrated, that November is National Peanut Butter Lover's Month, the history of pulling on the wishbone, food ate by the Pilgrims and how you (children) can help with the meal, National Novel Writing Month and PiBoIdMo (writing for picture book writers), and how writing letters helped establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday (the many letters that Sarah Hale wrote to presidents) and presidential pets and Tad Lincoln's beloved turkey named Jack.

I thought and thought and thought.
I came up with different ideas and started to write - but nothing clicked. Nothing clicked.

One night when we were walking, I asked my neighbor for ideas. She came up with some good and some not so good ideas. One of her ideas had merit, so I gave the topic a try. It didn't click.

Then an idea popped into my head. I did a little research and found out some interesting fun facts that I turned into a column I thought my readers would enjoy.

What is the topic?
You will have to wait until November to find out. But, like I told my neighbor, it is very different from her suggestion -- very, very different.

Mark Twain's suggestion:

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

My suggestions:

Brainstorm, just write and see what comes, write on paper, try a new place to write,  have an idea book - write down ideas whenever they come to you - go to them when you are stumped as to what to write about and googling is always an option. But, my most important suggestion is never give up.

What are your suggestions?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rejection - But, with a personal note

In November of last year, I sent a PB manuscript to a publishing company. I had submitted to them before and knew I would get notified in a timely manner, (usually before 3 months), if they wanted my manuscript or not. I had also researched what they published and my manuscript fit them to a T!

Since then I have been waiting patiently (if that is what you call crossing my fingers when the phone rang and constantly watching my emails). I was that sure my manuscript had a chance.

I even did a no-no. I did a follow-up email after waiting around four months. But, it wasn't so bad. They promptly got back with me and said it had been sent to the owners for a decision. So, I continued to wait.

One day, during the course of my waiting, I checked out my stats on my author blog, I saw where someone from the publishing company had visited my site. (My heart and hopes soared) They are checking me out, I thought.

Saturday, after arriving back from our family reunion, I checked the mailbox. There was my SASE waiting for me. That was not what I had hoped to see.

But, on the bright side, it was a personal rejection signed by the Editor in Chief.

She thanked me for my patience during their evaluation (9 1/2 months), they had given it their thorough consideration, but were afraid they decided to pass due to limited publishing slots available each year. Again, saying she was sorry and apologizing for their delays.


Oh, well. I'll do more research and send it off to another publisher.

 Also, I have another PB manuscript out there that I sent to another publisher after careful research. This one also fits them to a T.

 Keeping my fingers crossed.

What is new with your writing and submitting?


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Back to Writing

I've taken a needed, but much too long, break from writing this summer. Aside from writing my monthly articles for Two-Lane Livin' Magazine, I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to write something new again.

This morning I decided I needed to send out at least one of my  manuscripts. So, I planned to work on my cover letter and zip it out to the world.

The picture book I chose is one of my very favorites that I have written. It has went through many, many changes over the years (yes, I said years). It has been critiqued many times (by my critique groups, a professional critiquer and Rate Your Story).

This past June, it placed second in the annual West Virginia Writers writing contest. I can't complain about coming in second, because one of my middle grade novels placed first!

I thought this would be a piece of cake. It has been edited many times and placed in a contest, so it should be ready to submit. But, I decided to look at it one last time. I opened up the manuscript from my computer and took a look.

Was it ready?

No! I found many small changes I felt I needed to make - and, a couple of big changes.

Hopefully, these changes made it an even better manuscript than it already was.

My advice - never give up on your stories, never think they cannot be improved, always keep an open mind and let suggestions simmer and consider them all.

And - do not get in a hurry. Leave your stories for a while and then come back. I bet changes will pop out at you.

When you have did all you can do and you believe in your story - cross your fingers and zip it out to the world.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer Writing

I have really been neglecting my blog lately - I apologize.
It seems that summer is a very busy time for us here at The Blackberry Patch.

But - I promise you, I am still writing.  And, I am still surfing the web and reading helpful, wonderful blog posts of my friends.

To go out of July with a bang - below is my Two-Lane Livin' July column for kids.


     What would you get if you crossed George Washington with cattle feed?
     The Fodder of Our Country!

    WHOOOOOOOOSH! BOOM! HISS! CRACK! On July 4, 1777 fireworks lit up the sky celebrating the country’s first anniversary.  Many towns still have celebrations and fireworks on Independence Day.  Our town of Ripley, West Virginia boasts of having the largest small town celebration in the nation. After parading, eating, and celebrating all day, the fire department puts on a dazzling display at night. Fireworks flash across the sky in a sparkling array of color and sound, creating big booms and bright lights.
     Did you know that fireworks are also called pyrotechnic devices and the experts that handle the explosives are pyro technicians?  And, since fireworks are explosives, they should only be handled by experts
     They have been around for a long time and are as American as apple pie, but fireworks originated in China. The Chinese roasted bamboo, which explodes with a bang when heated due to the hollow air pockets.  Later in history they began stuffing saltpeter, charcoal, sulfur and other ingredients into bamboo shoots that were then thrown into the fire to produce a loud blast.
     BANG! The first fireworks were born.
     The colorful displays we know today began in the 1830s, when Italians added trace amounts of metals that burn at high temperatures, creating beautiful colors. Calcium produces orange and is the easiest color to create. The hardest color to create is blue. It is done with copper compounds and the temperature has to be just right. Sodium makes yellow and barium makes green. Lithium salts and strontium salt create red. Aluminum makes white and is a common ingredient of sparklers. Just like you produce different colors by mixing primary colors, pyro technicians mix copper (blue) and strontium (red) to create purple fireworks.
     Iron flakes create sizzling sparkles. Titanium powder creates crackling sounds and sparks.  The whistling sounds are created by using cylindrical tubes with an open end.  When the oxidizer and salts burn a layer at a time, the pulses of escaping gas produces the whistling sound.  Zinc creates smoke clouds.
     Not everyone likes fireworks. Dogs whimper, cats hide under the bed, birds may become startled and fly into things and even some people shake with fear.
     With my poem, Freedom Song, I wish everyone a fun, safe and sparkling Fourth of July.

WHOOSH! Fireworks
streak across the sky.
POP! Fireworks
dazzle way up high.
BOOM! Fireworks
sparkle in the night.
CRACK! Fireworks
whistle and take flight.
BANG! Fireworks
bellow loud and strong.
ZING! Fireworks
sing our freedom song!

I hope you enjoyed it. My column is titled, Fun Facts for Kids, so I always like to include fun information for kids. I've been told by many adults, that they also love my column and learn something new when reading it.

My book, Fun Through the Seasons, is filled with these type of articles, fun recipes,crafts and stories for kids and adults to enjoy.

I hope you are enjoying your summer. I'll start blogging more soon - I promise.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Writing Tips on Prose

I attended a workshop by Cat Pleska about putting poetry in your prose.

How do you do that?

To make your narrative flowing and beautiful you can add metaphors and similes and figurative language.

As always, with your writing, choose your best words. Revise and move parts around. And, my favorite, use rhythm and sound. Make the words sing when read aloud.

So, when writing, create a mood, entertain and play with your words and phrases. Using elements of poetry can make your story memorable and a pleasure to read.

Here are a couple of links to elements of poetry.

Elements of Poetry: Examples and Techniques

Poetic Devices - Judi Moreillon


 I love putting poetry in my prose, whether it be a middle grade novel or a picture book. 


One of my favorite picture books, Owl Moon, is written beautifully using some of these techniques.

With passages such as:


we reached the line of pine trees, black and pointy against the sky

the moon made his face into a silver mask

the trees stood still as giant statues


I have also written a picture book (unpublished at this time) where I have used lines such as:


We walked past the cattails near the pond, standing tall like toy soldiers all in a row

The ground rose before us like a giant stretching his arms tall and touching the sky. 


So, give it a try, whether you are writing a picture book or a novel. Add a little magic to your writing to make it memorable and fun to read.


 Do you put poetry elements in your prose?

Happy Writing! 


Monday, June 22, 2015

Writing Tips on Beginnings

While at the WVWriter's Conference last week I went to a workshop on ----- beginnings.

This was a long workshop that came in two parts. Edie Hemingway was the teacher.

Some of the things I gleamed from the workshop were:

The importance of the first page.

Your opening page should be powerful, giving a glimpse of your voice.
If writing for a young audience, try to incorporate the POV character's name, age, something about their physical appearance, and time/place within the first three pages or better yet, the first page.

That's quite a list for you to include in the first or second page of your manuscript.

In the second half of the workshop, we got the chance to read our first page for her. She, and members of the audience, critiqued it. Before reading my first page, I quickly skimmed through it, realizing that I had not incorporated some of those things listed above. I found out (through a little quick editing) that most of these bits of info can be easily incorporated into your manuscript -- and it does make it better.

Very helpful is all I can say about this part of the workshop. I would love to attend other workshops that incorporate this into their presentation.

A few other first line tips are: draw your reader in with emotion, set up conflict, set up a question for the reader, set the mood or tone of the story and jump right into voice. If starting with description, add something extraordinary (no hum-drum, overused or ordinary descriptions)!

Open with a powerful image, dialogue with tension and/or emotion to pull your reader in.

Give your manuscripts a glance and spiffy up those first pages!

Go to the library, or your bookshelves, and check out the first pages of your favorite books, to see how they did it.

Do your first pages make the grade?

Happy Writing!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Writer's Conference - I'm Still Smiling

The WVWriter's Conference is over until another year rolls by.

It was a wonderful weekend. I enjoyed meeting old friends and making new friends.

And, I very much enjoyed attending the Saturday night banquet where they announced the winners of their annual writing contest.

The presenter was speaking about no matter how the entries are mixed up and shuffled before sending them out to the judges - the cream rises to the top.

I am so happy that the judge chose mine as first and second place winners!

I entered six manuscripts into the children's category and four of them placed. (I also received 1st HM and 3rd HM)

Duck and Cover and Amazing Miss Maizie are near and dear to my heart. My heart skipped a beat when they were announced as winners.

Amazing Miss Maizie was the second PB I ever wrote, and it has been changed many, many times. I am a BIG advocate of revising to get it right.

Duck and Cover is a more recent product of my imagination. It takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The manuscript started out as a small memory from my childhood. A small memory that I never really understood. I remembered us going to my aunt's house and being scared. One of my other aunts kept saying that the world was coming to an end. But, I finally figured out that it must have been a memory from the time period of the Cuban Missile Crisis. So, I put on my writing cap and a story came to life from that one small memory.

For now I want to say to never give up and to keep revising until you are happy with your manuscript. Don't send your work out before it is ready. (Unfortunately, I have did this many times)

I think when you submit a story in which you have put your heart and soul into and have revised it over and over again --- that manuscript will have a much better chance to rise to the top and stand out in the slush pile.

I am very thankful to my writing group. They have put up with listening to my stories over and over again until I am sure they were sick of hearing them.

 Happy writing! I will be posting later about some of the things I learned from the workshops at the convention.

At the conference with WV Poet Laureate Marc Harshman.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writer's Conference

Cedar Lakes, WV

It is once again time for:

What:West Virginia Writer's Conference
Where: Cedar Lakes, WV
When: June 12, 13, 14

Every year writers from West Virginia and beyond gather at Cedar Lakes to attend writing workshops and the banquet on Saturday night to see if they placed in their annual writing contest.

Among the workshop presenters this year are, Marc Harshman poet laureate of West Virginia and author of 11 children's books! And,
Edie Hemingway co-author of two Civil War novels, both licensed by Scholastic Book Fairs and optioned for films.

I enjoy attending writing workshops.
You get to mix and mingle with other writers and learn more about writing.

I'm going. Are you?

If not, have you ever been to one? What is your favorite part about writing conferences?

photos from prevous WVWriter Conferences:
local geese

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I love books!

Today I went to our local library's book sale. I came back with quite a few. As you can see, I head toward the children's section and books about history. I also picked out one cookbook and a book about squirrels titled,  Squirrels Love 'Em Hate 'Em which might come in handy for the non fiction children's book on squirrels I have been working on.

I am also looking forward to browsing through the very large West Virginia Encyclopedia, Clementine's Letter, Scaredy Squirrel, Ruby Holler and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

I have also won a few books from my fellow bloggers in the last couple of months. I am currently reading Navigating Early.  I have already read the other three books. I enjoyed Like a River, but wasn't that crazy about the ending. The same goes for Rain Reign, I think the ending could have been better. I think a good ending in a book is just as important as a good beginning.

I wish I could collect time. Seems I never have enough time to do all the reading and writing I like to do.

How about you? Are you a collector of books, too?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Library Week

This is National Library Week!

What do you do at your local library?

Our writer's group meets every week in one of their rooms that are free to use.

I do research on writing my picture books and middle grade novels.

I research genealogy and learn all about my family's past.

I participate in their activities and events.

I submitted my hickory nut pie into their Pie Competition on National Pi Day on March 14th. I won first place.

I enter their annual writing contest.

And, with the help of our library, we now have little libraries all over our county where you can . . . take a book - return a book.

What do you do at your library?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Rhyming Picture Books

I've been reading rhyming picture books this week.
Here are some of my Friday favorites.

Tadpole Rex 
by Kurt Cyrus

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the descriptive words used:

goop, whopping big,
bloop, bloop, bloop
soup, mud, wallow,
floop, fleep, gulp
bone crunching chompers

The Voyage of Turtle Rex
by Kurt Cyrus

Some fun word phrases in this book are:

a tumble of specks
sploosh went the waves
fizz went the foam
swish went the flippers
swung like a compass

I also read:
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Strickland and
How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

What makes a fun picture book?
Rhymes, of course.
But, also, the rhythm has to be right on.
And, you should think a lot about your choice of words and phrases. Make the words sing on the page. If you notice, the author used really fun words and phrases in the above books.

When reading a good rhyming book, the words should flow off your tongue with ease.

And last, but not least, you have to have a good story.

Want to write a rhyming book?
Practice, practice, practice!
It takes a lot of work and rewriting to make it appear as if it was easy to write.

But most of all, have fun doing it!

We are having fun at RhyPiBoMo this month. Go check it out if you like writing and reading picture books.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Author Interview - Marcia Berneger - author of Buster, The Little Garbage Truck

My friend, Marcia Berneger has a picture book being released today! Don't you just love the cover.  Buster is such a cute garbage truck!

I'm almost as proud as she is. I was one of her critique partners and I was there when Buster was 'being born.' 
It is available at most on-line retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, even Walmart.

How did Buster come to be?
It took me a few days to write Buster, and over a year to “perfect” it. I have both an online critique group and a face-to-face one and they both saw Buster many times, helping me get to that “ready” stage. I needed to get to the point where, when I read it, nothing zinged out at me as “hmm, that could be worded better.” I also read Buster to several kindergarten and first grade classes, watching their reactions as they listened.

How do you come up with ideas to write about? 

Many of my ideas are loosely based around student and/or experiences I’ve had throughout my teaching career. Buster is a great example of that. I was tutoring a young boy who was terrified to go into first grade. He happened to be extremely bright, so I was trying to boost his confidence. He also happened to be obsessed with garbage trucks. I couldn’t find a book about a child-garbage truck, so I wrote the story for him.

Tell us about your desk or workspace.

I often hand-write my stories into one of my many journals (many times I’ll get an idea at a writing conference or class—so I’ll start the story right there on note paper), then transfer it onto my computer. Sometimes I do type one directly—if I’m at home when inspiration hits. My edits are almost always done on the computer. I have a small desk crammed with everything I need.

How long did it take to get an agent/editor? Can you tell us about the process of finding and signing with an agent? 

My agent story is a bit unique. I’d attended that big LA SCBWI conference one summer and saw an agency I thought would be a good fit for my work. I’d just started on Buster, so I wasn’t near ready to submit. By the time I was, a year later, I’d lost my notes and couldn’t remember which agent I’d seen. I remembered the agency, though, and took a guess. I referenced the conference in my subject line. Well, the agent loved Buster, but did ask why I’d put that conference in there—since she hadn’t attended it! (Oops!)

Do you have a current WIP or next project you’re working on? 

I have many works in progress from picture books to young chapter books, and even a middle-grade novel. But I’m actively working on a second Buster book, Buster and the Bullies. I really like this one. It’s been getting very positive reviews from the students I’ve read it to—and isn’t that what this is all about?

Favorite quote – favorite children’s books –
When I was little, I loved The Pokey Little Puppy. But my favorite book is The Abandoned, by Paul Galico. It’s about a boy who becomes a cat, and has to learn how to “be a cat.” My favorite quote comes from that book. When the boy complains to his very patient teacher (another cat), she tells him: “Can’t catches no mice!” That became my watchword for anything that seemed too hard to do. Even now!

What words of wisdom or advice do you have for “writers under construction?”

READ!! (I know, everyone says that.) But read in your genre, and read specifically for craft (how the writer achieved what s/he was going for). Go to an SCBWI meeting (they’re all over—great organization for support and guidance). Find a critique group and see what others have to say about your work, then choose only what you want to use. Stay true to yourself and listen to your heart first. It’s YOUR story!
And don’t be afraid to submit!!
Like Buster says: Be brave! HONK your horn!

Where can readers find out more about you?

Twitter: @MarciaBerneger
Amazon Author Page:

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Marcia. 
I know you will enjoy her book. 
And, like Marcia says, read and don't be afraid to submit!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

picture books, picture books, picture books!

I've been reading a lot of picture books lately. . .

on line,
from my bookshelves,
and from the library bookshelves.

Why? To help me in writing picture books!

Here is a list of a few. I have put my comments in italics out from some of them.

Froggy Plays in the Band - Froggy's Sleepover - Froggy's Day with Dad - Froggy's Baby Sister
In the Froggy series of books I noticed the repeated phrase - more red in the face than green
Root Beer and Banana

Passing the Music Down - biographical - loved the language used in this one

 Bats at the Library - rhyming

Martha Doesn't Say Sorry - good

Oh, Daddy - very short 

Little Hoot - fun! Little owl wants to go to bed.

It's Not Fair - cute

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site - rhyming - good one! 

What's Under the Bed? - simple rhyme

This Place in the Snow - loved the language and use of words!

A Silly Snowy Day - a ridiculously cute story about a young tortoise who wants to enjoy winter

the dot - a simple, but lovely picture book about a girl who thought she couldn't draw
Duck at the Door - very cute. About a household and how a little duck disrupts it - but they loved him anyways 

The Bumpy Little Pumpkin - a cute story about Little Nell, BIG Mama, BIG Sarah, BIG Lizzie and a bumpy little pumpkin her forest friends helped her carve. Like people, Jack-o-lanterns come in all shapes and sizes!

My Working Mom - Love it. The story, as written by the author, could have been about any working mom, but the illustrator did her magic. Have you read this? Do you know what her mom's job was?

I Took my Frog to the Library - cute. It is not just about a frog, but many other animals the girl brings to the library. They all wreck havoc, except for the elephant. But the elephant is so very, very big! So, she leaves her animals at home and the elephant reads to them.

The Lonely Scarecrow - I love books about scarecrows and have even written my own, which I hope some day will be published!

Owl Moon - One of my very favorites! I love the language in this one.

These are just a few of the many I have read in the last couple of weeks.
Are picture books just for kids?
Of course not, they are for the kid in all of us!

What are some of your favorites?


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What Do You Write?

As most of my followers know, I write picture books, middle grade books and children's articles.

I also write poems and I write about Appalachia.

Recently, I have tried something new. I have written something I never thought I would write.

I woke up one morning with a song in my mind. It was only a few sentences - a start of a chorus. But, I went to my computer and typed it down before it flew from my mind.

Before the day was over, those few sentences evolved into an entire song! A few days later, after tweaking it a little, I emailed it to my cousin, who sings and plays the piano, to see if she thought it had any merit. She liked it - and we are still working on it.

 my little hand made Teddy (made from a family quilt that had seen better days) holding an old song book

And, I am considering giving greeting cards a try.

What do you write?

Have you ever wandered into a different writing territory than you are used to?

If not, maybe you should give it a try.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday - and Interview!

First - the winner of CHOMP is DMS. You can click here to go to her website - The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow.
Congratulations to Jess!

This week I've read Just Juice by Karen Hesse.

 Image result for just juice images
Juice lives with her mom and dad and four sisters. She doesn't like school and letters and numbers don't make any sense to her. She has to do third grade all over again.
She usually skips school and spends time with her dad. Her dad has a secret - he can't read, either. So when he gets warning letters about not paying taxes on his house, he ignores them. But, he can't ignore the last one he gets telling him that his house has been sold for back taxes.
Juice and her dad work together to try to figure out a way to fix the problem.

Just Juice has 19,422 words and worth 3 AR points.

What are you reading?

AND . . . drum roll, please!

I would like to invite all of you to click here and go over to the Grog Blog to read an interview with me!
Learn a little about me, see pics and, if you like, I'd love for you to leave a comment.

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday - and a giveaway!

What I'm Reading Wednesday

I just finished reading, Katie and the Cupcake War by Coco Simon.

Katie and Callie used to be best friends. Then Callie dumped Katie and joined the Popular Girls Club. Katie has new friends now, but still feels resentment toward Callie.

Katie's school holds a fundraiser each year. Students sell things in groups and the group that sells the most wins. Katie's Cupcake Club won last year selling cupcakes. They are selling cupcakes again, but Callie and her group, renamed The Best Friends Club, are also selling cupcakes. Katie is upset that they are copying them so they can win.

Let the cupcake wars begin!

This is book #9 in the Cupcake Diaries series.
It is a fun, quick read and I liked it.
This book comes in at 24, 718 words.

Last week I posted about reading CHOMP by Carl Hiaasen.
I finished reading it and although it is a good book, I am having a giveaway.

Be a follower of my blog and comment for a chance to win CHOMP. I will announce the winner next Wednesday.
Post, Tweet or tell about the giveaway on Facebook and earn extra chances to win. Just let me know in your comment if you have did any of the above.

What are you reading?