Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free Kindle Children's E-Books

My hubby got me a Kindle Fire for Christmas! I am loving it.  I've also been anxious to read more children's books on e-readers in full color.  I get to do research while enjoying beautiful covers and illustrations.

There are some great FREE kindle children's books. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • Snowed in Together by Ann Herrick - YA, (free for a limited time.) 
  • Garbage! Monster! Burp! by Tom Watson - Picture Book. A fun story with environmentally friendly theme. It is told in verse and very charming. There's a few words and phrases that might be over the head of its audience, but they can be explained easily enough!
  • Easy Gingerbread Tiki Hut by Lisa Turner Anderson - Craft Book. Teaches kids and parents how to build a no-bake gingerbread tiki-hut.  
  • Girls to the Rescue: The Royal Joust by Bruce Lansky

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Susanna Hill's Holiday Writing Contest

Author Susanna Leonard Hill is having a Holiday writing contest where you could win prizes!
Be creative and write a post with your own version (350 words or less) of The Night Before Christmas (it can be about any winter holiday).  Please visit Ms. Hill’s website for all the details HERE.
My entry is posted below.  I have been interested in writing a picture book about the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal for quite some time, but have not done it yet.  So, for my entry today the monk seal takes center stage, as I play around with the idea of what a monk seal might want for Christmas. Enjoy!!

A Monk Seal’s Christmas Wish
Christine Marie Alemshah

Twas the day before Christmas, when on the small isle,
A monk seal landed ashore, on a sand pile.
The hotel staff prepared yellow tape, 
As onlookers all stared, gasped, and gaped.

The monk seal stayed all day and all night.
He was even there at the first Christmas light.
“What could a monk seal want for Christmas?” asked a small girl.
“Some fish, or shave ice, or maybe a pearl?”

She pondered and pondered, but then soon forgot, 
As she went to her room to see want Santa brought.
A stocking full of treats and trimmings,
A teddy bear, and new fins for swimming.

She busied her day with family and good cheer.
And sang her very best, “Rudolph the Reindeer.”
At dinner, she ate til her tummy might burst,
And then was filled with a very great thirst.

She walked on the beach sipping hot cider,
When she noticed the monk seal right there beside her.
The little girl still had no clue.
“Mr. Monk Seal, what can I do for you?”

Finally, at day’s end, something came from the sea.
A big wiggly shape plopped near a palm tree.
Can it be -- another monk seal?
The little girl thought she might squeal.

She was happy to see the seal got his wish,
And hoped that the two could share yummy fish.
She snuck away quietly, til she was out of sight,
and whispered, “Merry Christmas Monk Seals! Have a Good-night!”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

PiBoIdMo: I'm a Winner!

From Tara Lazar's PiBoIdMo site:
I do solemnly swear that I have faithfully executed the PiBoIdMo 30-ideas-in-30-days challenge, and will, to the best of my ability, parlay my ideas into picture book manuscripts.

Signed: Christine Marie Alemshah

Phew!! I can't believe I made it through! In 30 Days I have managed to come up with 32 picture book ideas. It was much harder than I thought it would be.  The first two weeks were smooth sailing.  Then, thanksgiving week came and it was like my ideas were separated from my brain by a brick wall.  (It probably didn't help my mushy brain spending the week in Kauai.  My whole body felt like jello!)  Luckily some days I had multiple ideas, which helped make up for my idea-free days.  I also came up with some fun Hawaii inspired ideas.

I am in love with exactly 1 of my 32 ideas.  I am hoping that will change at some point, but for now I'm going to focus on that story.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


For two days in a row my picture book ideas have been about dinosaurs. Bah! There are so many picture books about dinosaurs already. Good ones too! How will my little ideas ever compete?  Oh well, I will think about that later...

It's just, well -- let's face it, children are fascinated by dinosaurs.  In the past week, I don't think a day went that I did not hear a mention of them by one or more of the children I work with.  No wonder I had a PB idea about dinosaurs!! I will keep my ideas tucked away for a rainy day.  In the mean time, check out the following awesome picture books about dinosaurs.

1) Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea
2) Dino-Basketball by Lisa Wheeler
3) How do Dinosaurs say I Love You? by Jane Yolen

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


It's officially here! Picture Book Idea Month!

What is it? 
The premise is quite simple. In November 2011 you vow to come up with 30 picture ideas in 30 ideas.

October was such a busy month for me, I'm excited to take the plunge and come up with 30 new picture book ideas this month.  I'm ready for the challenge, and yet also nervous about keeping up!

How am I doing so far?  
I had one idea "sneak" up on me Mon Oct. 31, so not sure if I can count it.  Yesterday, I had two ideas.  Yay! Let's hope I can keep it up!

Fellow Picture Book Writers (and any Writers interested in writing picture books.):  
You can find the official sign ups for PiBoIdMo at Tara Lazar's blog by clicking here. You will also find guest author posts, a chance at prizes, and support from other writers. Check it out!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Author Event: Meet Rick Riordan!

A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe in Irvine, CA is hosting an awesome author event to meet Rick Riordan. He is the author of the Percy Jackson Series and the new spin off series The Lost Hero. I literally devoured each and every book in the series and am eager to get my hands on The Son of Neptune.  The event takes place Saturday, Oct. 8th, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. at Oso Viejo Park in Mission Viejo. Visit the Whale of Tale Bookshoppe website for tickets.  The ticket price includes a copy of his latest release, Son of Neptune

With more and more booksellers going digital, it can be quite easy to go about our daily lives without remembering local independent booksellers still exist.  I know I've been guilty of this myself.  A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe not only sells books but frequently hosts author and book events for children and adults alike.  In the coming weeks their events will feature many prominent authors and illustrators including Robin Preiss Glasser, Hillary Duff, Molly Shannon, Wendy Mass and more.  I encourage you to check it out and support your local bookseller!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

My First contract

I'm over the moon! I received my first contract this week.  It is for for a short story entitled, Max and Digby's Big Day.  It is about a young man, Max, who trained his miniature bull terrier, Digby, in agility and is taking him to his first match.  What happens when Digby seemingly forgets his training? The story will appear in the November 2011 issue of Stories for Children Magazine. (Updated: The November issue is now available for purchase HERE.)

I have more good news to announce soon.  I hope my mailbox continues to buzz with exciting news this month...

Happy September everyone! I hope you are having as bountiful a month as I am thankful to be having!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

So Long Summer...Hello September!

So long Summer! This will go down in my books as the first summer I spent seriously devoted to writing! If I were an apple farmer I would say I had an abundant harvest this summer.  Here is just a partial list of things I accomplished.

❦ I attended my first SCBWI Summer Conference.
❦ I joined a Peer Critique Group!
❦ I connected with another Children's Writer in my neighborhood!
❦ I read 30+ picture books.
❦ I took 2 online writing courses.
❦ I wrote 4 new short stories and made progress on my Middle Grade WIP.
❦ I learned how to use a "twitter hashtag."
❦ I received my first acceptance...more news to come soon on that front!

It was a beautiful summer.  It felt so right to surround myself with writing, reading, and learning about children's literature.

Hello September! I'm back to work. I'm ready!  Just like a great harvest leads to delicious apple pie, I'm hoping my summer will lead to a fruitful fall!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Did you miss WriteOnCon?

What is WriteOnCon?
WriteOnCon is a free online conference designed to give Writers many of the features of a live, in person conference in an online setting.  WriteOnCon is the brainchild of seven writers who wanted to "pay it forward" and give something back to the writing community. The curriculum is focused on Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Writers, however the information is relevant for all writers.

Sounds fabulous! How do I attend?
Well, here's the thing. WriteOnCon 2011 has just finished. This year it was August 16-18. Not to worry though! The schedule is archived and still available for viewing. You will need to sign up to use the forums but you can view a link to the schedule of events here.

The sessions with publishing professionals are full of amazing information.  I attended as much of the live events as I could this year and am still not caught up!  I hope you take a look! You won't regret it.

My favorite sessions: (so far)
Puzzled by Picture Books with Author Sarah Frances Hardy - Ms. Hardy gives a thorough talk about writing character driven stories from conception to storyboard.  Her talk is designed for both Authors and Illustrators.
Your novel isn't ready for submission because... by Author Tom Leveen - Mr. Leveen speaks openly to authors about the many reasons why your novel (or picture book) is not ready for submission and in turn provides ideas that help you become ready to submit in the future.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Super SCBWI Summer Conference 2011

I gotta admit. This is a weird feeling.
Why doesn't the CVS cashier know I'm a Children's Writer?
How come the people in the fresh juice line don't want to talk to me...about writing...and illustrating...and publishing children's books?
Oh yea...I'm not at the SCBWI Summer Conference anymore, that's why!

This year I attended the summer conference for the first time. On my first day I quietly sat in the lobby, trying to muster up courage to talk to people. That's when I saw them...sunflowers! In the lobby of the hotel! As I have mentioned in a previous post, sunflowers tend to show up during significant times in my life. I think this experience certainly qualified as significant.

I don't know yet what will come of my conference experience. What I do know is that at times I felt inspired, moved, excited, anxious, nervous, and encouraged. I met postive, like-minded, quirky people. I witnessed the diversity in writing, speaking, and art.  I was also reminded to believe in myself, my voice, and my vision.  I am so excited to write this week!

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the conference:

"Everything we do moves outward, like ripples in a pond."  - Bruce Coville

"I write what I need to write."   - Donna Jo Napoli.

"Writing not only changed my life, it saved my life."  -Judy Blume

Monday, July 25, 2011

Library Days: The charming Katie Wheeler Library

As I mentioned in my previous post, Library Picture Book Round Up: Week One, I've been visiting libraries at least once a week this summer.   This week I decided to visit the Katie Wheeler library in Irvine. Isn't the building charming and quaint? As I strolled up the rose lined walk leading up to the front doors, I found myself thinking of a few literary classics of my youth.  I could picture myself being transported to Prince Edward Island and seeing Anne of Green Gables, with her fiery red standing on the balcony above. It was refreshing.  It was delightful place to spend an afternoon filled with nostalgia and researching picture books!

❖Visit Katie Wheeler Irvine Library blog to learn more about the rich history of Katie Wheeler, the Irvine Company, and the Original Irvine Ranch House.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Storytelling with Pictures

 Hello Blogging World! I have missed you. I have been busy writing, revising, reading, doing homework, catching up on life....and writing some more. Phew!

Needless to say I've been busy. Today I took a break and did a little video-editing. Thanks to a helpful training session at the apple store, I am using iMovie to make a video of our family trip to Tahiti last year.

Other than the blog writing I'm doing right now I did not do any writing for this project. I did however "tell a story through pictures," which felt equally fulfilling.  I tried uploading a video short of what I've been working on, but it seems I need to do a little more techie research before I will be proficient at that.  For now please enjoy some still photos of the majestically beautiful Tahiti!

Bora Bora
Moorea - Cook's Bay
Moorea - As seen from a hilltop

Friday, July 1, 2011

Library Picture Book Round-up: Week One

I have made it my mission this summer to visit the public library at least once a week.  My goal is to read and study picture books to better understand their construction, find out what kids like, and improve my writing.

This week I read:
Press Here by Hervé Tullet
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
Epossumondas plays Possum by Coleen Sally
Father's Day by Anne Rockwell
Herbert, the True Story of a Brave Sea Dog by Robyn Belton
and Calvin Can't Fly by Jennifer Berne

What I saw with my writer eyes...
I was delighted to see the similarities in the structure of these books. I was able to identify right away which books followed a traditional "picture book" paradigm and which were "concept" books. I took notes on when the books were published, by what publisher, and their word counts -- all useful, valuable information for me.

This week's standouts were:
1) Press Here by Hervé Tullet
 I thought this book was wonderfully imaginative and interactive (the phrase "why didn't I think of that?" comes to mind.) I know I will be sharing this book with my kindergarten group in the Fall.

Rhyming Dust Bunnies
2) Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas
I was in awe of this book. It made me laugh. It had lovable, relatable characters. And it had an awesome story. It hooked you in right away through the words and illustrations, all in approx. 100 words. That is not an easy feat! If you are looking for a fun, quick read, with the added bonus of teaching a bit of rhyme, I highly recommend this book.

I also quietly observed to see what kinds of books children, parents, and teens were drawn to.  The buzz this week: Princess Books, Star Wars, and Halo.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

My 5 Year Old Reading Self

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a Free Writing Workshop, The Seven Deadly Sins of Writing led by Author Amy Goldman Koss and hosted by SCBWI (have I mentioned how much I love them?)

Ms. Koss was very candid, funny, and realistic in her discussion with us. I will be adding her list of seven deadly writing sins to my "post-its" from now on whenever I write. (I have been guilty of at least three!)

Ms. Koss also led us in several writing exercises, one of which was to think about the age group you are writing for, write to yourself when you were that age and tell yourself where you read when you were that age.  I wanted to share a bit of what I wrote below:

When I was five my family my moved all the time.  I had very little books of my own.  Most of my reading I did at school or daycare.  I remember reading and memorizing my first poem, "The Swing" at my preschool in Hawaii just before moving to San Francisco. I would recite that poem over and over in the car -- from the airport, to the car, to our new naval housing tract.  I loved that poem and I loved reading.  It was still be a few more years before I read consistently at home with my own books... that happened when I was seven.

Isn't it amazing the things we recall about ourselves during free-writing?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Writing Workshops

Hello everyone!
So I have every intention to keep blogging throughout the summer, but at the moment I can't make any promises.

And why is that you ask? Well, I have signed up to take two online writing workshops simultaneously. I have my summer off from work so it should be no biggie right? Seeing as how the last class I took was two years ago when I took a Wilton Cake Decorating class, I'm actually a bit anxious about it. I know it will be a fun, exhilirating experience. But I can't help but feel like an incoming college student all over again. Wish me luck and if all goes well, which I'm hoping it will, I will be back to blogging in no time!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fairies on the brain: A book review and book trailer

How to Ditch Your FairyIt's no secret that I'm a little obsessed with fantasy books. One of my favorite types of fantasy characters to read about are fairies. Give me evil fairies, quirky fairies, invisible fairies, or MC's that are part fairy (like Sookie Stackhouse) and I am instantly intrigued. My latest read was Justine Larbelstier's How to Ditch Your Fairy.

This book fulfilled my fairy craving and thensome! It is a quick read, centered around a teen girl who is trying to ditch her parking fairy in lieu of something better -- like the clothes-shopping fairy her best friend has. I love how Larbelstier's pulls you into a world where fairies exist (or are atleast acknowledged to.) I also love the lingo she has created for her characters. It's a unique, fun read!     My rating: ☆☆☆☆

Speaking of fairies, I am delighted to share the book trailer for Anna Staniszweski's upcoming novel, My Very UnFairy Tale Life, to be released in November 2011.  I am looking forward to reading this book!

Monday, June 20, 2011

RemembeRed: A Real Meal, Finally!

I gazed up at the menu with excitement. This was it, the first real food I would have in two weeks. This was the third restaurant in the food court I’d been to already, staring up at the menu deciding whether or not I could eat here. My husband didn’t say so but I could tell he just wanted me to pick something already.  

Would any of this food be ok and not get caught in the four gaping holes I had in the back of my mouth? I’d waited until I was almost thirty to get my wisdom teeth pulled out. Now I realized why this would have been much easier to do four years ago...
“Ok honey, this place is fine. I’ll have some hummus, pita and a bowl of soup.”
I found a place to sit and waited for my first real meal. Ok, it was really more mush, but atleast I was eating at a real restaurant -- and I loved Daphne’s pita bread! It’s so soft and pillowy.
I tested the bread for softness. Good good, I can chew this. I’m enjoying this. I’m enjoying food.
I relaxed and let myself enjoy lunch.
“Wanna try a green bean? it’s pretty soft?” my husband asked.
“Sure,” I replied.
He fed the green bean to me. When I bit down my jaw ached and I knew right away it was too hard. To add insult to injury the back of the green bean poked the raw gaping hole in the back of my mouth causing it to throb.
“Ouch,” I said, spitting the green bean back into my husband’s hand. He giggled.
“What? Why did you do that?” he asked puzzled.
“It was too hard!” 
Well that ended all the pleasantness of my first dining out experience since having my wisdom teeth out.  Maybe a few more days?

RemembeRed is a Memoir Meme.  
This week's prompt: Fill in the blanks, first time I ____ after ____.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

5 Things to do while playing The Waiting Game

I have to confess, I have become a little preoccupied with checking my e-mail and mailbox for the past few weeks...wishing and hoping to receive news about recent manuscript submissions. Of course, it can take many months to hear anything however, I've been told one of my stories is currently under consideration. (Squeal!) It is so hard to contain that shred of hope I have in my heart without getting carried away. I have desperately been trying to find other things to keep those pushy little -- "today's the day, go check the mail!" monsters at bay.

If you are playing the waiting game like me, here are five things you can try to get your mind off the waiting. Now if only there were a permanent solution...

1) Redesign your blog (I did this one this morning!)
Ok, ok -- I have been told that redesigning your blog can be confusing to the reader. For me though, I think of it like revising a story. My blog didn't quite have the look and feel I was going for. So I took a hard look at it, thought about my vision and revised. I am actually quite happy with the outcome. What do you think?

2) Do some yoga.
So I haven't done this yet, but I intend to. Yoga calms me and reminds me to take deep breaths. It also helps to clear your mind and strengthen your body.

3) Network with other writers.
Have you ever visited Verla Kay's Message Boards for Children's Writers and Illustrators? I joined recently. It is a wonderful community of writers and illustrators. They share good news, bad news, and even no news! I also enjoy being able to relate and commiserate to people who know exactly how I feel and have been where I've been.

4)  Engage in an extracurricular activity or plan a vacation.
Love the beach or eating fondue? Maybe you paint or like dancing? I love to sing. Karaoke is like therapy for me and I have been wanting to visit British Columbia for quite some time...

5) Write something new or revise old writing projects.
Sometimes when you're waiting for news it's hard to focus on current works in progress. You can feel bogged down or blocked.  Maybe you can revitalize yourself by trying to write something new? Or take out something old and look at it again with "fresh eyes?" Sure, these stories will need some revision but it can be fun to reconnect to an old story.

Best of luck everyone!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Adventures in Rhyme

If you're an aspiring children's writer like me, I'm sure you have heard the following plenty of times: Stay away from rhyme. It no longer sells and new writers rarely get it right.

Truth be told I never have had a gift for rhyme or poetry. But, I have a silly story idea, which I have written in prose. The magic and silliness is just not working the way it is currently written.  Every time I stare at the letters on the page, I think to myself, "how can I fix this?" Each time I do this the story starts trying to make a rhyme or song in my head.

So, I'm going to give it try. I have only written one other story in rhyme, because the whole story idea came to me that way, so this will certainly be an adventure.

This time I plan on doing a little research. Margot Finke has a fabulous article with resources on writing for children using meter and rhyme.

So long, good night.
I'm off to write!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Picture Book word counts in Current Children's Book Market

It was June 2010 when I finally had an idea for a picture book and I had to get it down on paper. Before that time I stared at my computer screen for years trying to come up with stories and characters that just didn't work. I was so eager to get my idea in story form that I "winged it". I figured hey, I had taken a course in Writing Books for children and I tell stories to kids all the time. I can do this. No problem.

Well guess what? My story had promising structure but the word count was way off.  In the current picture book marker most publishers are looking for pictures books with word counts of 1000 words or less. Many of those prefer them even shorter with a target range of 500 words or less.

The first draft of my picture book was 1275 words!! I was in trouble.

Now that I have fully immeresed myself in the world of children's writing I can look back and realize a little more prep work would have been helpful. Studying 2011 Children's Writer's And Illustrator's Market helped me to get a better idea of what publishers wanted as far as word counts for picture books. Networking with other writers and attending writing classes and workshops also helped me to focus.

My initial first picture book draft is now in it's 6th revision. The word count is still high at 917 words, but is under 1000 words now. The story remained intact and it's actually a better read. Now when I write I consciously try to keep the writing tight in all my picture books. My two latest stories are 650 words and 472 words respectively. It is definitely something you have to "write, write, and write more" in order to get better at.

What are your experiences in writing children's picture books? What are their word counts?

Update 6/30: The above mentioned picture book is on it's 7th revision now and is approx. 800 words. While it upset me to cut it (oh no! That part is vital!) the story is actually a much tighter, better read now. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Sunflower Scribe

I hope everyone is having a bright, sunshiney week! I have been trying to think of the perfect blog title for my children's writing blog for quite some time now. So far nothing had stuck. It's like having a nickname. I couldn't just use any old name -- it had to stick. And more importantly, I had to like it. Unlike a nickname, I actually got to choose this name.

I have finally decided upon, "The Sunflower Scribe." I have always loved sunflowers and they hold a special significance for me and my family. My grandmother-in-law loved them and they always seem to be around on special family occasions. For instance, at a family party in 2008 my husband surprised me and proposed that day! I had made sunflower cupcakes to celebrate and placed a sunflower centerpiece on the table. I had no idea I would be getting engaged that day!! But it seems my grandmother-in-law was smiling at us from heaven that day! My mom and sisters happy-go-lucky english bull terriers have even been photographed with sunflowers.  Whenever I look at a sunflower I feel warm, happy, loved, and encouraged. All things that have helped shape me into the writer I am today. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger GamesI have recently finished The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I've seen these books on bestseller lists for quite some time, but whenever I read the synopsis for the first book I couldn't envision myself getting into it. In my younger days I loved horror and had no problem with watching or reading about gory situations or war. But I  have to confess -- I've grown to be a bit squeamish. One particular quote from School Library Journal made me hesitatant to read it:

"Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch."

I finally had a change of heart at Writer's Day in L.A. Several of the speakers spoke very highly of the book. Rachel Cohn, in fact read a passage from the first few pages of The Hunger Games, during the conference. I was intrigued! So I finally decided to sample it on my kindle -- what could it hurt?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Last week I got the chance to visit a Scholatic Book Sale Event. All the books for sale were 50% off their cover price!

You know that feeling you get when kids are playing with a toy? Maybe with a barbie doll for example -- my personal favorite? Sometimes they ask you, "will you play with me?" Secretly on the inside you're ecstatic, even if all you out say out loud is, "sure." It's fun to get the opportunity to let loose and be a kid again. That's how I felt at the book sale. I enjoyed picking my books out lovingly. I will also be able to use them as "research" for my writing. I am looking forward to sitting and enjoying them from the comfort of my own home.

One of my purchases was Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, which is actually referenced in Eve Bine Stock's How to Write a Children's Picture Book: Learning from The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Corduroy, Where the Wild Things Are, The Carrot Seed, Good Night, Gorilla, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, and Other Favorite Stories. Stock's book is the first in a series of three that teaches aspiring picture book writers how to structure their books.  I am delighted to have a copy of Goodnight, Gorilla that I can go back to again and again.

Another of my finds was the The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. This is a story that I always hear children talking about, mainly boys but some girls as well. At the end of the book you can find instructions on how to make your own origami yoda. I was definitely intrigued and am curious to read this story.

I also found a picture book that had two stories in one ~ What Sisters Do Best/What Brothers Do Best.

One of the golden rules for any writer is to "read, read, read" in your genre, which I highly agree with. I now have several new books to study, analyze, and enjoy!

I love this kind of research! Don't you?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Linky Love

Hello everyone!
Get ready for some Writers linky love. I have added a new page to my blog called Links for Writers. It is a list full of links I have found useful as a writer. From conferences and classes to submission guidelines and guides to literary agents.  It's a small list so far but I plan to keep on building it up and adding more information as I grow as a writer. If you have any links you think I should add please feel free to contact me. Please enjoy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Magic of Story Time

Imagine the following scene...

A room full of children varying in ages from 5-11 playing with toys. Two children are throwing toys, two others rolling around on the floor, and still two more are playing very loudly and not following directions. The adults in the room have tried redirecting to new activities, attention getters, giving warnings, separating children, etc. And yet the room does not get any calmer.

Enter the storybook...

The group has been gathered together for story time. Amongst the moans and groans comments can be heard such as "picture books are for babies" or "I don't want to read a story...it's boring." And yet the storyteller ignores the comments and begins reading the story. She is animated and uses voices to tell her tale. You can feel that she really believes in the power of the story and within minutes ~ actually more like seconds the group of children that had just been so wired up is mesmerized and fully engaged in the story.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Writer's Day in L.A.

Yesterday I attended the SCBWI-LA's 30th Annual Writer's Day. It was my second official writing conference since taking up writing seriously again.

I was a little anxious about attending at first. I kinda felt like that little five year old girl I once was. I was always nervous about having to move for the 3rd time in two years and then go to a new school and make new friends all over again.  Well I've come a long way since then and I am happy to report - I loved every minute of it!
The camaraderie with fellow writers was excellent. I also felt very inspired by the speakers of the day which included: Susan Patron- Author, Margaret Miller-Editor at Bloomsbury, Toni Johnston-Author, Bruce Coville- Author, and Rachel Cohn- Author.

The conference took place at Clairbourn School in San Gabriel ~ a truly beautiful campus with white picket fences, pristine playhouses and equipment, quaint buildings and bright green lawns.  I kept trying to envision children on this campus ~ and inadvertently may have created a character for a new story.

The day was jam-packed full of precious, eye-opening information for any aspiring children's writer. I walked away with a bag full of freebies, a page full of notes, and a head full of ideas. If you have a chance to attend this event next year- you are in for a treat!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I've joined SCBWI!

At the recommendation of several fellow writing friends and Children's book author Merrily Kutner I joined the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in October 2010. As I am not yet a Published Author I am currently an Associate Member.

Here is a link to my profile page if you'd like to take a peek!

I cannot express to you how invaluable this organization has been for me thus far.  The bulletins are jam-packed with information ~ inspirational stories, online resources, contests, workshops, and much more.  When I read the March/April 2011 issue I was more inspired to write that I had been in some time. Ideas that had been stagnant seemed to come alive. SCWBI is a nationwide organization, but also has local chapters with local events. In my area I've signed up for several events coming up soon such as Writers Day in L.A. and Agents Day at Newport Seabase.

I know I have not yet tapped into all the potential benefits of SCBWI (for instance I'm still working up the courage to join a critique group.) To all aspiring children's writers, if you haven't looked into SCBWI I highly recommend it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A story reborn...

Out of the ashes rose a phoenix...wait scratch that, a raven.

When I was thirteen years old I began my love affair with dark, paranormal fiction (back then I think the whole section of the bookstore I was drawn to was simply called "Horror." One of my favorites was Of Saints and Shadows by Christopher Golden. Some of the vampires in the story could transform into animals. This inspired me to write a novel about a young shape-shifter on a quest. I called it Ravyn's Quest. I began typing the story on my tiny Mac Classic. I actually made 3/4 of the way through the manuscript before I realized I didn't know how the story would end. I sent my character on this treacherous journey only to realize I didn't know what she was going to do when she got to where she was going. I always thought in the back of my mind, some day I'll finish it.

It has taken me seventeen years but I have finally resurrected my story. The original version is still trapped on that little mac, but I didn't need it anymore ~ I started from scratch. The story comes to me in waves, and I feel I have a solid idea for the whole novel. So far I have completed a preface, and 2 chapters. I am very excited about this project. Wish me luck as I dive into writing my first full length young adult novel.