I haven’t posted in a long time. It isn’t Monday. I’m not planning to follow my own poll-and-discuss format. There are exactly thirty-eight bazillion other things I should be doing right now (I counted). But yet, here I am. Maybe it’s because when I struggle with something, I have a need to write it out. Maybe it’s because I think other people might struggle with this too, and reading this post might help. Maybe it’s just to avoid the thirty-eight bazillion other things. Whatever the reason, I’m here. Thanks for being here too.

My writing is in a weird place. After years of working on what I thought was a middle grade series (and still might be, just not how I originally saw it), I have been reworking it. I’m combining the first two books in the series into one book. I’m almost to the point that I’ll be able to tell whether or not it works. Chapter 17. I have most of the plot together, the characters are fleshed out,  but I have a few holes. Most of the holes are scenes of introspection. Apparently, getting inside the head of a character who resides in my head is a little too much for my brain to handle. As a result, those pivotal, essential, entirely necessary scenes are weak. Recently, I even skipped over writing one all together, leaving “insert what character is thinking” in parentheses in its place (I really like parentheses).

So, I’m wondering, do you have trouble writing the scenes that get in your characters’ heads? Have you read a book with really strong introspection? Do you have a trick you use when approaching these scenes? Please share in the comments.

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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Character



Book-Themed Birthday says, “Birthday party themes can take a lot of work out of planning a birthday party. Choosing a theme makes decorating, games, and even the food much easier to pull together.”

I agree. And if the theme is special to the birthday boy or girl, it makes it even more fun! Just ask Mister.

So, where to start? Well, I look at what Mister likes. Right now it’s eating, playing outside, listening to music, playing games, doing art, reading books, learning how and why things work and watching his favorite monkey on TV. Based on that, I come up with a list of choices. This year it was an art party, a camping themed party (because we call him Bear), a science themed party, and a Curious George Party. Now that I’ve done a party with a book (okay, okay, and it’s a TV show too) theme, there will be a lot more book titles in my future ideas lists.

It seems book-themed parties are pretty popular for baby showers right now, but books are great inspiration for party ideas when our little ones can celebrate with us, too! The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Dr. Seuss already have a lot of ideas out there. Here are some other book ideas:

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds, Press Here (and/or Mix It Up) by Herve Tullet:

Color(s): red, yellow, blue, orange, green, purple in lots of dots

Activities: painting on a canvas, dot scavenger hunt

Food: cupcakes on a palette with different colors of icing and toppings

Favors: watercolor set, Dots candy

Splat the Cat:

Color(s): black, white, pink

Activities: pin the tail on Splat, decorate your own duck (Splat books always have lots of ducks in the illustrations), find Seymour scavenger hunt

Food: cupcakes decorated with candy or icing fish bones

Favors: Swedish Fish or Goldfish

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle:

Color(s): blue

Activities: Don’t get stuck in the mud musical chairs, find the animals scavenger hunt

Favors: Little, blue trucks, big, green toads

Curious George by Margaret and H.A. Rey:

Color(s): red, yellow, light blue

Activities: Pin the banana on George, Monkey See, Monkey Doodle craft, character scavenger hunt

Food: Chef Pisghetti’s pizza pie, Jumpy Squirrel’s mixed nuts, The Quint’s fish crackers, Renkins’ farm fresh veggies

What I like most about choosing a book for a children’s party theme is that you can really go bananas with the little details that make a party special. And go bananas we did. Here are some pictures from Mister’s big day:

IMG_20141101_145842230[1]IMG_20141101_145657601[1]IMG_20141101_173710136[1]IMG_20141101_145811536[1] IMG_20141101_145747096[1]IMG_20141101_145818982[1] IMG_20141101_145830750[1]   IMG_20141101_145732945[2]

It would be the ultimate joy to have childrens’ birthday parties planned around one of my books. Maybe some day…

Helpful Links:

Choosing a Party Theme

My Party Ideas Pinterest Board

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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Other Stuff


The Question

“One for the money,” I pulled back on Mister’s swing and held him in the air. “Two for the show. Three to get ready,” I lifted him higher, “and four to go!”

Now that I had him swinging, it was time to ask the question I’d been waiting to ask for days.

“So, Buddy, I was thinking…” I start. I’m already a little afraid of his answer. “I mean, I was wondering…if you know what you’d like for your birthday party this year.”

I’m a planner. I plan my plots, my meals, my days, and especially my son’s birthday parties. Although his birthday was months away, I was itching to start planning. Right away.

“We could do a bear party since we call you ‘Bear.'” I suggested. No answer. “We could do an art party.” Nothing. “We could do a party based on one of your favorite books. Like Curious George.”

“Yeah!” he says. “Curious George! I want a Curious George birthday party!”

I sighed with relief. Last year’s Mister-chosen theme of “a star party” was vague, and, while it was fun to plan with such freedom, I was hoping for something a little easier this year. Curious George gave me characters to use, a color palette to stick to, activities for the kids, and, of course, at least one food item: bananas.

“Okay. A Curious George party sounds great,” I say. “We’ll go bananas.”

“Ha, get it?” Mister says. “Go bananas. ‘Cause he’s a monkey.”

“Yeah, buddy, I get it,” I laugh. “I can’t wait.”

The question for this week is to get your creativity flowing as you think about books. What book-themed party can you think of? What would be the colors, activities, foods, etc?


Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Other Stuff



“No, Mom!” Mister yells.

I remove my hand from the bathtub drain lever.

“My toys are still in here. And please don’t let the water go down now. That will scare me.”

I nod, even though we’ve talked about him not being able to fit down the drain a gazillion times. I make a mental note to drain the tub after he’s asleep and to read I’m Not Afraid of Anything to him again.

I’m Not Afraid of Anything is the picture ebook I wrote a few years ago that was published by MeeGenius. It was recently featured on the MeeGenius blog as a book to help kids conquer their fears, especially the fear of the doctor.

It’s recent feature got me thinking about Mister and his fears. I find it funny that, even though I wrote it inspired by my own childhood fear of the vacuum, and even though Mister wasn’t even close to being born yet at the time I wrote it, the book still nails one of Mister’s fears. So, this week’s question is:

What book(s) do you find to be a reflection of your life? What about the book is familiar?

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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Reading


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One for the Murphys

I’ve read three more pieces of fiction for older readers (young adults and adults) and countless picture books (thanks to Mister) in the weeks since I read One for the Murphys. But I was still thinking about that book as I sat down to write Monday’s post.That’s probably because the book made me feel. It made me so thankful that I get to watch Mister grow up. It made me realize how lucky I am to have a husband who wants our family to work as much as I do. It made me remember my own childhood and how bits of that have shaped the person I am today. All that from a book. A work of fiction.

As I said, I’ve read a lot of books since One for the Murphys. Here are some of them and the influence they had on me:

The Day the Crayons Quit– makes me want to ask more “what if” questions throughout the day to find more creative stories

Reason to Breathe, Barely Breathing, Out of Breath– all three books in this series made me want to renew the romance Husband and I had when we were young

Tough Chicks– made me realize that what makes Mister difficult to deal with some days is exactly what will make him successful as he grows

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo– in a weird way made me want to give a voice to those who are underrepresented in fiction

Notice that the list isn’t very long. Not every book I read makes me want to make a lasting change, but some do. Those are the books I need to read again. To study. To absorb into my being. Because those are the books I want to write.

Related Links:

One for the Murphys on Goodreads:

How writing affects the brain:

A study that shows we are what we read:

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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Emotion


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Foster Care

My eyes are puffy and won’t stop tearing. The hives cover my chest, arms, and, I see as I climb into the shower, back. I curl up on the floor of the shower and let the hot water try to wash it all away.

But hurt like this doesn’t go down easy.

After a lengthy hospital stay to recover from injuries inflicted by her mother’s new husband, 12-year-old Carley was placed in foster care. Her new family is loving, kind, and, most of all, cohesive. Everything her “family” isn’t. Knowing she’ll never fit in, Carley keeps her distance.

Before long, they family’s little boy blasts away the walls she’s put up with his super hero powers and tied-towel cape. She becomes Super High Tops Girl and rescues him right back, hanging a bully in a tree by his overall straps. Through their little superhero’s hole, the rest of the family squeezes into Carley’s heart. She becomes the funny, strong, caring, and open young lady she was always meant to be.

But news from her mother threatens Carley’s new self. Her mother, who was never expected to walk again, is about to be released from the hospital and move back to Las Vegas. And she wants her daughter to go with her. Carley has a choice to make: stay with her foster family where she knows she’s safe and loved or return to an uncertain life with her mother, the only blood relative she’s ever known.

I towel off and snuggle into my pajamas. I curl up on the couch and heave a heavy sigh. Then I crack open the book one last time. Despite the tears, I just have to know how it ends.

Carley is the main character in One for the Murphys. An absolutely recommended read.

What book has touched you emotionally? What, if any, lasting effect/affect did it have?


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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Reading


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So to finish the Mister story, Husband called the doctor right away and the doctor told us to go get x-rays. The x-rays showed that Mister did, indeed, swallow a penny. And it was already in his stomach. That was a big relief for us since a Google search told us they can sometimes get lodged sideways on the way down. We were told to sift through his poop until we found the penny, and sent home.

The next day, 29 hours from when it went in, the penny came out without issue. I joke that it took Mister as long to birth the penny as it took for me to birth him.

After I told Mister the penny was out, he yelled “I’m free!” I didn’t know if he meant he was free because he had $0.00 in him now, or because he was free of the worry, but it was pretty funny either way.

As funny as this story is, it is probably something in Mister’s backstory that I won’t often reveal. Sure, I may tell it to a girlfriend later in his life to try to embarrass him. But, otherwise, that story is just going to quietly become a part of what makes Mister, Mister.

Just like our characters have stories that make them, them.

And all of those stories don’t need to be told either.

Discovering those stories can be almost as much work, and as much fun, as writing the story.

On expert advice, I started digging deeper into the past of my own character. She’s an eight year old tomboy, named Mabel, who loves baseball. This same expert asked why she loved baseball so much and who was her favorite player. I knew she wouldn’t have just any favorite player. It had to be a woman. And not just any woman. She had to be as good as the boys.

Well, after not too much searching, I found her. Jackie Mitchell.


The daughter of a doctor, Jackie seemed to be born to play ball. Her father introduced her to the game at a young age and Dazzy Vance, her next door neighbor taught her how to pitch. Vance went on to pitch in the majors while Jackie played in a women’s league. That is, until she became the second woman in history to sign a minor league deal.


Jackie was on the Class AA Junior Lookouts Roster when the new York Yankees came in to town to play an exhibition game. She took the mound against the greats: Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. And she struck them out. Perfect hero for a tomboy.


And I admit that I’m tempted to squeeze Jackie into the story. She has a great story all her own. But I know that if I’m going to use it, the timing has to be perfectly right, or it will feel forced. And if I don’t use it, then it will just be part of what makes Mabel, Mabel.


Related Links: an article researching whether the strike outs of Ruth and Gehrig are a myth The story behind the children’s book Love You Forever what you can learn about writing from children’s books (including that no one wants backstory in place of plot)

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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Character


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