I’ve got some very busy writer friends! They’ve been writing and getting published and having book signings and I’ve been…hmmmm.

I wish I had something scathingly brilliant or outrageously adventurous here as a reason for not writing as much as I’d like to write, and not getting myself published (and therefore, not having book signings). But I think we all know what happens to me in the summer. And oh! I am planning Juniorette’s wedding that’s coming up next month, so there’s a good excuse.

Okay, I’m not really planning the wedding; Juniorette’s done most of the work. But I’ve had to think about wedding stuff  a lot and I think that counts for something. Anyway, the point today is picture books and all my friends who have books on the shelves in bookstores and libraries (or books you can order):

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Lisa Lowe Stauffer’s Two By Two is a board book adventure about a couple of mischievous monkeys on Noah’s Ark. And oh my goodness, I love the wordplay in this book and I know your little mischievous ones will, too! Lisa’s been busy with book signings, and she’ll be in my neck of the woods in October for a workshop!



indexTina M. Cho is celebrating a book birthday with her picture book, Rice From Heaven. I could say more about this book (and Tina) but she says it so much better here, at Tina’s Tidbits. Please go give it a read and then give her book a read, too! I can’t wait to get back to my hometown library and get this one. (Yep, Tina, your book is in the Gwinnett County Library system!) It really is a small world, after all!


And then there’s Heather L. Montgomery, whose two books are coming out in October, I think. But they’re available now: Bugs Don’t Hug AND Something Rotten, A Fresh Look At Roadkill. And every time I read these titles, I’m conflicted. I feel a little like “Come on, Heather! Ick!” but I also feel a little like “Oooh! I can’t wait to read about stinky roadkill and bugs!”

Yep, Heather knows how to make anything compelling! And I’m not the only one who thinks so–Heather is super busy right now on school visits and book expos and I don’t know what all. (But you can find out when you visit her website. You might even be able to get her for your school because seriously, Heather Montgomery can rock a school visit!)

Didn’t I tell you I had some busy friends? And I have some more friends who have been busy writing novels so stay tuned! Meanwhile, I’ve got a porch swing and salty breeze waiting for me to get busy with a wee bit of a nap because I’ve worked kinda hard on this blog post. Plus, I thought up something that Juniorette needs to do, wedding-wise. (She’ll thank me later, I’m sure.)






Time To Rhyme (See What I Did There?)

writing-in-rhyme-to-wow-class-logo-e1457424491540This month–or at least after all the SCBWI doings–I caught up with a Writing in Rhyme class I won from Angie Karcher. Goodness, Angie really knows her stuff!

I, on the other hand, am not exactly a whiz at writing rhyme (though I like to try). I only have one picture book that’s in rhyme but I learned a whole bunch of stuff to make it better and my project for next month is to take that manuscript and polish it till it shines like a…a…well, see? I need a little work on imagery and such.

And maybe you’re interested in spiffing up a rhyming picture book. Or maybe you’re just interested in rhyming poetry. Boy, have I got a deal for you!

Technically, it’s not my deal. It’s Angie Karcher’s. Every April, she hosts RhyPiBoMo which is short for Rhyming Picture Book Month and holy moly (see what I did there?), you are not going to believe all the wonderful guest bloggers she’s scheduled!

Plus, she has all kinds of fun events and doings over there. And it’s ALL free! But mostly, I guarantee that you’ll learn a TON about rhyming picture books. So run like a Tasmanian Devil (see? I’m getting smarter already!) and register for RhyPiBoMo! (See you there!)

Why I Can’T Do RhyPiBoMo (But That Doesn’t Mean YOU Can’t)

rhypibomo-2015-calender2-e1426397801516Last summer, I had the most delightful time in North Georgia, spending a week with a most delightful bunch of picture book writers. I wrote all about it here and when all was said and done, I decided that I had to be done with picture books and get back to my heart. Because I had the beginning of a middle grade story on my heart that was begging to be written.

So this year, I’ve been writing, writing, writing that middle grade story. And I am this close to being done with it. But that, my friends, is just the first draft I’ll be finishing. I’ll need to go back and weave in some good stuff, take out some of the stinky stuff. And that revision has been penciled in for…yep, April.

It just so happens that RhyPiBoMo (that’s Rhyming Picture Book Month, in case you wondered) begins in April (and you can register now!). And I’m just not talented enough to revise a 35,000 word middle grade manuscript and follow along with Angie Karcher’s great posts and read all those great picture books, too. And okay, I know I’m prone to hyperbole, but not this time.

Oh, no, people, not this time. Angie (did I tell you I met her? Up in North Georgia at that weeklong writing workshop?) works so hard to bring such a lot of great writing information your way. I mean, she is committed. And I guarantee that you will be a better picture book writer if you commit to RhyPiBoMo. You can’t be half-a…er…baked about it. You have to be all in.

Kind of like I’m all in on my middle grade story. So best of luck to all of us, wherever our heart is leading us (but dang, I’ll miss all those fun picture book writers)!

Walking Through the 12 x 12 in ’12!


Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

At my desk, my forehead’s glistening–

A not-so-pretty sight

I’m struggling tonight

Thinking of the 12 x 12 in ’12.

Gone away is the bluebird,

Here to stay is the fail word

It sticks in my head,

Flashing in red,

Thinking of the 12 x 12 in ’12.

But I can go and read what’s up at Julie’s blog–

And pretend that I’m an author, too.

They’ll say don’t give up, go back and try again.

the 12 x 12 in ’12 is fun to do!

So I’ll sit and conspire

Now my thoughts are on fire–

To face unafraid,

the books that I’ve made

Walking through the 12 x 12 in ’12!

Thanks again to Julie Hedlund and all the writers, authors and illustrators who shared their picture book journeys and expertise! I’ve had a blast, walking through the 12 x 12 in ’12!

Smiling On The WOW! Book Tour: The Smiley Book of Colors

What happens when an imaginative mind meets a good idea? For Ruth Kaiser, the answer is smiles. Or to be more exact, Smileys. Two eyes, a nose and smile. You know, Smileys. Turns out they’re everywhere. And so Ruth started taking pictures of Smileys,  and sharing Smileys, and…well, it wasn’t long before she became known as The Smiley Lady. And after she’d collected a whole bunch of Smileys, she thought she had a swell idea for a book. And Random House agreed and published her book, The Smiley Book of Colors.

Now Ruth’s on tour with her book, sharing her Smileys across the blog world, and giving you a chance to win her book. You can comment here to win a copy of this super adorable picture book. And you can snap a picture of a Smiley and upload it to Spontaneous Smiley, using WOW in your Smiley title for another opportunity to win. If you upload your Smiley photo, a dollar will be donated to Operation Smile, a nonprofit organization that helps children with facial deformities get the surgery they need. And that’s really something to smile about!

I asked Ruth to share some of that contagious optimism of hers, and here’s what she had to say:

Be a Rock Star in Everything You Do

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.”

~John Albert Michener.

Note: If this were my quote I might have said eighth or ninth. L.O.L.

The surgeon who only operates on easily removable tumors has a great track record but will never be the rock star. Are you living your life safely to insure the best track record or are you challenging yourself to be a rock star in every endeavor?

Letting ourselves be ruled by fear of embarrassment is folly. Are you giving up too quickly or behaving too cautiously in some vain attempt to present a glowing track record? The rock star is out there in spandex and false eyelashes. Nothing timid about their attempt to be the best! Their in-your-face-I-will-not-go-unnoticed assault on life holds a valuable lesson for all of us.

You won’t be seeing me in spandex (Sheesh, I have 3 kids who’d be mortified!). But don’t be surprised if you see me walking the walk and talking the talk to get my project in front of the eyes that will help further my goals. Will my heart be pounding to beat the band? You bet. Is that a reason to stop? No way!

Here’s a truth it took me years to realize: No one, but me, is tracking my failures. Honestly no one else is paying attention. They are busy starring in the movie that is their life just as you are busy starring in your own. We are merely in supporting roles or even just one of the many “extras” in their movie.

Our missteps are hardly noticed by anyone but ourselves. What does get noticed and applauded are our confident attempts! Being the rock star in everything you do takes determination and patience. It takes being focused on your goal. The rock star never gets there by being cautious. To be the rock star you must leap off the cliff and go for your dream full tilt. Success doesn’t come because of luck or without a ton of work.

AND that ton of work includes putting yourself in vulnerable spots, riding out the consequences and learning as much from the flops as from the successes.

Optimism has taught me to give it a try. Guess what? Hearing, “No” isn’t going to kill you. I also know that you’ll never hear, “Yes” unless you put yourself out there! Embrace this idea and feel the freedom of your ego not getting in the way of your actions.

Smile. Be happy.


Opportunity is missed by most people because it comes dressed in overalls & looks like work.

~Thomas Edison

See? I told you she was unstoppably optimistic. She’s also absolutely right! If you’re that writer that never puts herself (or himself) out there, read what Ruth Kaiser has to say again. Heck, read The Smiley Book of Colors, while you’re at it. Then give it to your kiddo or your grandkids. I’m positive they’ll love it!

A couple details before you zip happily along…Go to Ruth’s website to find her blog, and look for her on Twitter (@Spontanesmiley) and on Facebook (Ruth Kaiser).  Leave a comment here for a chance to win the book, and on April 1st I’ll draw a random winner. (Make sure to leave your contact info!) And of course, don’t forget to look for those Smileys and upload a photo. I’ve got a couple of ’em, right here on my desk! (Um…I ate one of my Smileys, but I’m sure they’re plenty more.)