Monday, October 22, 2018

12 Easy-Peasy Writing Secrets, or How to Find Ideas

I get to talk with 4th graders this week about writing. 

As they especially want to know where writers get their ideas, 
I thought I should make a list. 
I decided to share it with you, too. 

This isn't the quantitative, end-all list of idea-catchers, mind you
because, as all writers know, ideas can be found....
  • 1. At the bottom of the dryer
  • 2. In snatches of conversation 
  • 3. In the waiting room at the doctor's office 
  • 4. Under the couch, next to the monster's eyeball
  • 5. Inside a pair of Seven League Boots
  • 6. Buried under the witch's bones in the graveyard
  • 7. In a fistful of stolen pirate gold
  • 8. In the pocket of the Wrong Coat at the Lost & Found
  • 9. Behind a secret staircase in the old castle
  • 10. In the next chapter after the final chapter of the last book you read

Of course, this list goes on 
and on
and on...

Writer friends, where do you find your ideas?

Any special plants or potions or special tricks
 that keep your ears and eyes 
ready for your next idea?

Teachers, you are welcome to use this freebie printable as a teaching resource.  Feel free to share links to this page. 

To use this resource, just drag the image to your desktop and print. 

Thank you for keeping this original content credited to its creator.  Cheers!

Let Sleeping Bears Lie, and Sneak Peeks

It's not exactly sleeping bears, -not much sleeping at all, really, 
but I am discovering that the road to illustrating picture books  
involves much burrowing away in caves.
A bit like hibernating. 
The good news is that sometimes 
when writers and illustrators hibernate, 
they have magical news to share.
I am a sucker for fairy tales. 
In 7th grade, I won a poetry contest. 
With my prize - a gift certificate to a local bookstore -
I bought two of the largest collections of fairy tales I could find. 
I devoured those books. I breathed in those stories
and longed to make my own. 
And now my life has come full circle. 

I'm thrilled to tell you that I get to illustrate Lynn Parrish Sutton's story
with Kane Miller books. 
What magic!

A huge thanks to Molly O'Neill and Root Literary for helping make this happen. 

Thanks to all of my friends and mentors who have encouraged me along the way.

And thank you to the bookstore, the poetry contest, the teachers 
who coaxed me to read and write and make art... 

Where would we be without the very special magic of having someone believe in us?

Here are a few sneak peeks...

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Happy dance!

Sometimes dreams draw close enough to touch.
This is mine. 
Making books. 
I think I've whispered that dream to you, my friends. 
Maybe a few times. 
Over the past two years, I've been working as a paraeducator at an elementary school
while feverishly pursuing illustration and writing in all the extra corners, 
loving on my wildebeests,
and sometimes catching up on dishes.
I've put in late nights and early mornings, 
repeatedly fallen asleep 
with pencil in hand, 
and enjoyed a tumult of emotions 
while scrabbling between jobs and family, 
art and laundry. 

 And here it is. 
This wisp-ish dream has come close enough to touch. 
To folks who don't know me, it might seem like it all happened in a flash. 
Like I said, 
"Guess what? I want to make books!" 
"I got an agent!"
"I am going to have a book!"

But you know. 
It's been years. 
Fruitful in so many ways. 
Fruitful in some really hard things! 
And fruitful in thankfulness
and learning to savor the small beauties in life. 
Fruitful in trying to spread love like seeds. 

Fruitful in hunting for the sacred in the dirt.  
In being thankful for each day 
my family and I get to be healthy and alive. 

But still, years. 
It has been so long 
I started to think my dream would stay wishy, 
and that would have been okay, too.

But here it is! It's real!
I'm reveling in this strange and unfamiliar thrill
of having my bright dream come near. 

I am going to be a picture book author and illustrator. 

 I have so many thanks to all of you who have helped me reach for the stars.
Thanks to my teachers, my friends, my crew of writers and illustrators, my family.

And thank you to Molly O'Neill and Root Literary for believing in me. 
To Maria Modugno at Random House for believing in this story. 

Here's to dreams, my friends!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Spring Break!

Book heaps. 

 Signs of Spring Break.


Happy Spring, my friends!
Here's to finding our wings
in every wind and weather. 

My books this week:

Big Cat, Little Cat - Elisha Cooper
The Stray Dog - Marc Simont
Happy In Our Skin - Frann Manushkin, Lauren Tobia
The Journey - Francesca Sanna
Colette's Lost Pet - Isabelle Arsenault
Girl with a Brave Heart - Rita Jahanforuz, Vali Mintzi
Orange Pear Apple Bear - Emily Gravett
Deep in the Forest - Brinton Turkle
Sam and Jump - Jennifer K. Mann
Red Wagon - Renata Liwska
Flashlight - Lizi Boyd
The Sea Serpent and Me - Dashka Slater, Catia Chien
Doll Bones - Holly Black
Switch- Ingrid Law

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
Dear Genius: the Letters of Ursula Nordstrom - by Ursula Nordstrom & Leonard S. Marcus

Thursday, March 29, 2018


It's my stroke anniversary. 

Five years!

Because I had trouble finding my writing words 
after the stroke, 
I started making art in earnest. 

Isn't it beautiful 
that troubles can become the soil 
for new gardens? 

Friday, March 2, 2018

new news

I'm so thrilled to share my news with you:
I'm now represented by Molly O'Neill at Root Literary.
Here's to all the words ahead -
The scribbles, sketches, 
 fresh pages,
new chapters,
Here's to exuberance -
all those story seeds wishing their way into the world 
- and to hope.

If you're interested, I'd love to show you my new website:

I'll still tend this blog when I can, 
still share my lovely finds
 of life and books and story-making, 
wildebeest-wrangling, life-learning, and looking for joy in the daily dirt.
Thank you for supporting and encouraging and connecting with me
through the past eight years. 
Thank you.

Here's to our adventures ahead!  

Saturday, January 27, 2018

reading with Halmoni

Halmoni and her twins

She doesn't talk much about herself, and it is a rare treat
when my mother-in-law shares stories of her childhood in Korea. 
I love when she laughs.  
I love that she sparkles when she dresses up,
that she doses our ills with great pots of spicy soup,  
that she is delightedly happy when surrounded by grandchildren. 

Multicultural Children's Book Day is an international event created by children's reading and play advocates Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen to celebrate diversity in children's books, 
and to help get diverse books into classrooms and libraries. 
The theme this year is #ReadYourWorld.

Here's to our one world and the many people and stories that make it beautiful.   



The Twins' Blanket - Hyewon Yum
Wave - Suzy Lee
The Name Jar - Yangsook Choi
Bee-Bim-Bop! - Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Ho Baek Lee
This is Our House - Hyewon Yum
Marisol McDonald Doesn't Match - Monica Brown, illustrated by Sara Palacios
Happy in Our Skin - Fran Manushkin, illustrated by Lauren Tobia
The Sandwich Swap - Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Kelly DiPucchio, ill. by Tricia Tusa
Thunder Boy, Jr. - Sherman Alexie, ill. by Yuyi Morales


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