Sunday, March 29, 2020

Stroke-versary : Lights in the Darkness

 Seven years ago I had a stroke.

I struggled to find myself as a writer again.
I couldn't string my words together the way I used to.
Couldn't focus.
Afraid of what might be coming next.
Worried it would happen again.

It's okay to acknowledge that darkness is scary.

To look fear in the face,
and then, look for light.

Because even in darkness, there is still light to be found,
maybe not blazing the way out, but still.
Look around!
We are surrounded by lights!

Health care workers and restaurant owners,
grocery clerks and custodians,
cleaning and feeding
and risking their lives to serve and heal and care for all of us.
Teachers and school staff setting up homework and food drop-offs,
authors sharing virtual story times,
museums, symphonies, theaters giving their art,
fashion designers sewing masks.

In a way, my book THE STARKEEPER was born out of my post-stroke darkness.
THE STARKEEPER is about a girl who wants to change the dark world around her,
and a lost star who needs the girl to help it shine.
And the way to shine it?
It's this.

Even in the darkest times, friends,
we still have one light to give.

And that light is whatever brave gifts that come out of each one of us.

Whatever your gifts are,
thank you for giving them,
thank you for lighting up the darkness.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Creative Learning, Part 2: Family Story Journal

Friends with kids at home, I thought I’d share our latest creative learning project. 

It’s a Found Story Journal for the whole family. 

The rules are: 

  • The journal gets left on the table along with pens and story aids. (More on those in a minute.) 
  • The writing has to be done in secret. 
  • We have to be sneaky! We can only write in it when no one else is watching. 
  • Only 1 celebrity /pop star cameo per story. 
  • Each entry continues from the previous one.     
  • Each entry keeps to one page or less.

Our story aids:

These help if anyone gets stuck and needs an idea boost. 

*STORY CARDS: They’re made by Eeboo, & illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, (author-illustrator of LITTLE FOX IN THE FOREST and FERN AND OTTO (publishing later this year).

*STORY CUBES are a fun and tactile way to provoke ideas. They're called Rory's Story Cubes.  

If you don’t have something like the cards or the dice, not to worry! 

*STORY IDEA JARS are a longtime favorite.

The WORD JAR keeps scraps of paper with random words on them. 
The STORY SPARKS JAR holds phrases like “locked in a cage,” “a door to nowhere,” “the boat with a hole in the bottom,” “a mermaid with wings.” 
It took like five minutes to write a list, cut it up and stick in jars.

Times are rough, kids have homework, but creativity and writing can always bring some joy.

Wish us luck! 
My entire life is about sneaking in art and stories into all the rest of life. 
If I could illustrate my taxes, I SO would. 

Anyway, I hope this idea will be a fun one for my family - and for yours! 

If you try it, will you share how it went with me? 

Tag me in your photos so I can share, too.  

Peace, friends! 
Here’s to all the good stories that await! 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Fresh Page

If there’s one thing I know about creating, it’s that each fresh page has hope in it. 

I like to think that each day on this planet is a fresh page, 
and every day we get to make our own mark on it. 

The more bright, beautiful marks we make, 
the more we inspire others to do the same.

Yes, times are scary. 
Those of us with small incomes, small makers, small businesses, 
(anxiously awaiting the publication of our first books, etc), 
these times will affect us in big ways.
But here we are. 
And today is waiting. 
A fresh page. 
With hope in it.  
Waiting to see what we’re going to do with it. 
Let’s do it, friends. 
Let’s paint up every single page we get 
with our best, most unique, most generous work. 

I can’t promise it won’t be hard or scary. 
But we can hold on to Light and Love 
and everything that’s good. 
And send our own expressions of it into the world. 

Monday, March 16, 2020


Hello lovelies. 

Many of you are home with kids due to the current world health pandemic. {That is a sentence I never thought I'd write. }

But here we are, facing fear with courage and creativity. And in that light, I would like to offer some ideas. 

I got to homeschool my kids for four sweet years. 
During that time, we enjoyed heaps of knee-deep creative learning. 

In case it helps anyone who suddenly has a houseful, 
I thought I'd share some favorite creative learning projects with you over the next few days.


One of our favorites was when we tried to write 100 letters to children's book authors & illustrators. Life jumped in and we only managed about 35 or 40 letters, but many authors wrote back & won fans for life! 

Some authors sent bookmarks and "swag." 
Some drew the kids beautiful pictures. 

Thank you Nina Laden!Thank you, Dana Sullivan!

Our very dear Kim Baker sent my girl Winnie a PICKLE t-shirt. Swoon!
 Rayna received a package from author-illustrator Evan Turk that had two of his books in it!


  This project incorporates:

  • LITERACY (read an author's book)
  • CRITICAL THINKING (What questions do you have for the author or illustrator after reading it? What do you wonder about? What connections do you have with the author or book that you can share?)
  • RESEARCH (google author & hunt down a mailing address - or mail to the author c/o the publisher address)
  • WRITING (How to write a letter is a helpful thing to learn! We always did a rough draft, edits, final draft)
  • ART (I always had the kids add an illustration inspired by the author's book)

Stay tuned for more homebound learning ideas over the next few days!


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