Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Happy New Year

Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year! As this new year and new decade dawn, may you find all the success and happiness you deserve. Write, revise, submit and repeat, my writer friends!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Happy Holidays

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and wonderful time spent with friends and family! May all the joys of the holidays be yours. For those of you missing special loved ones who've passed, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving, time spent with family and friends and safety in travel should you be on the move this holiday.

I am thankful for many things, but the love and presence of family is, by far, the most important. I hope you all have the opportunity to share time with those most important to you. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 14, 2019


Do you like leftovers? I am not so much a fan typically. Lately, however, my life seems to involve a lot of leftovers; at least, my writing life seems to be getting a lot of the leftovers--of time, energy, etc.

I've often spoken previously of my need for an organized life and work zone in order to be functional and productive.  I do frequently feel the need to complete all I want/need to accomplish in a day before moving on to fit writing into the leftover time--and energy which is often nil.  So, how does one cultivate the mindset to do the opposite, especially as the chaos of the holidays is quickly approaching?

Good question, you might say! For me, I am going to:

1) Prioritize what MUST get completed during a given day and tackle that quickly.
2) Keep my to-do list reasonable and move things that are not essential to a later time or get rid of them altogether.
3) Make time to write and to hell with the clutter, laundry and dirty dishes during that time.
4) Enjoy my reading time and don't feel guilty about it. After all, it is important for writers to read.
5) Try to get enough sleep and eat well.
6) Make time to exercise and say my daily prayers as both keep my mind sane.
7) Spend quality time with my family as this is, ultimately, the most important part of life.

And, finally...

8) Save some time and eat the dang leftovers rather than cooking a new meal on occasion!

How about you? Care to share some of your best time management strategies in the face of a crazy holiday season?

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

St. Thérèse said...

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us."

I love this! It hangs on my living room wall and speaks to me on so many levels, both personal and professional. However, I've not really before thought of it in terms of my writing life and don't know why. Every sentence and thought applies extremely well. Struggles and rejection require peace within. Every now and again, one needs affirmation that he/she is where he/she is meant to be. We, as writers, definitely must believe in the possibilities and gifts we have and certainly should celebrate those gifts afforded us. I just realized how very applicable it is to all walks of my life as I was reading my sign. If you haven't read this before, I hope you love it as well.

Are there specific quotes that speak to you and help govern your life, writing or otherwise? I'd love to read them!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


Image Credits
Copyright:(c) Ellende | Dreamstime.com

Here in Southeastern South Dakota, we've had large amounts of rain throughout the Spring and Summer months and, most recently, 10-14 inches of rain in two nights (10 of which came in a few hour span one night at my house resulting in a flooded basement).

The countryside is flooded, roads and bridges are washed out and many people are suffering damaged homes and ruined fields in the heart of the farming communities. The overwhelming devastation is rampant and gut wrenching, and it is difficult to know what to do to help, especially when one is dealing with one's own issues.

As water ebbs and flows, so, too, does much in life. While the impacts are far reaching and more important than my personal problems and writing time/efforts, it has all recently led me to think of it in terms of my writing as well. Ideas ebb and flow; words ebb and flow, stories ebb and flow; edits ebb and flow, etc. As of late, I've ebbed far more than flowed in my writing life given I've been dealing with things on the home front; however, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, so I'm ready for the words and stories to begin to flow once again.

For all of you dealing with floods, tornadoes and/or other natural disasters, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Keep plugging along, one step at a time, one day at a time. Wishing you more flows and ebbs.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Never Forget

Today, we remember the day our world changed 18 years ago with the worst terrorist attack in the history of our country.  My heart aches for all those who lost lives or loved ones, those who experienced that day first hand in any capacity as well as all those who continue to experience the affects of that day.  May God Bless you all!

Monday, August 26, 2019

So, my last post was about lack of time versus lack of direction. Clearly, I've suffered both lack of time and direction as of late as it has been a month since my last post. I could make all the normal excuses...family vacations, getting ready for the return to school and work, taking my daughter to school for the start of her freshman year in college, preparing to send my oldest off for her senior year in college, etc. And all are true. And all have impacted my writing time. Or shall I say I have allowed all to impact my writing time. I have very much enjoyed my family focused time this summer and feel somewhat renewed but know it is high time to kick it into gear and get busy again.

Most imminent are finalizing edits on my current WIPs and preparing for our regional SCBWI conference in September as well as getting back to regularly reading and blogging. 

How about you? Did you find yourself veering off course this summer? If so, I hope you enjoyed the diversions and also feel a sense of renewal; however, I would love to hear your strategies for re-grouping and getting back on course for better productivity and writing focus. Please, if you are so inclined, do share what works for you.

Happy writing all!

Monday, July 22, 2019

Time Vs. Direction

I read a Zig Ziglar quote on Twitter the other day which said...

"People often complain about lack of time when lack of direction is the real problem."

Now, don't get me wrong, I do really believe lack of time can be an issue, particularly for those working many hours and/or multiple jobs while raising a family, etc.  Getting spread too thin with little time for anything but sleep can be a big issue.  For the rest of us, however, it isn't always about the lack of time as much as it is the efficient use of what time one does have or make. It is also said that life is a balance, and, for me, lack of direction can definitely be a factor in my balancing skills.

I often find myself going in circles doing a little of this, a little of that and then back for a little more of this...fiddle farting around is what my husband likes to call it.  I would definitely have more focus and better use of time with improved direction. But how does one find the best use of time and direction when life often feels like a cluster of chaotic moments? 

Prioritizing the most important and starting there? Letting the unnecessary things go to carve out more time for what is truly important? But who determines what is and is not "truly important" when everything seems that way? Get up early or stay up late to get some writing time in? But what if one is already operating on a slim number of hours of sleep to begin with? Health and well-being do need to be a consideration or all will come crashing down eventually.

So, do you see my point? How are we to decide what direction is best in the time we have and where to most effectively focus our time and direction to achieve the best/hoped for results? Sometimes I feel like I have a good handle on making a smart plan of action and other times I just fiddle fart my way about never accomplishing much of anything.  Oh, how it pains me to agree with his view of my actions at times!!!

Having said that, I have actually had a pretty productive last couple months with two manuscripts revised and submitted and another two rough (very rough!)  drafts completed and in the works. I think this is because I am trying to focus on starting my day being productive with my writing before moving on to other things (whether important or not) which helps; however, I am also getting better at letting it go when life gets in the way as it often does and not letting set backs derail me.  As the old saying goes, "this too shall pass."

I would love to hear how direction, or lack thereof, impacts your time and production level if you are so inclined to share. Perhaps we can all learn from one another!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Terrific SCBWI Conference Opportunity

Calling all writers and illustrators.  Registration is open and time is winding down for the early bird registration price for the upcoming SCBWI Dakotas conference which looks amazing! 

Complete information about The 2019 Dakotas Regional Conference: Harvesting Our Stories is now online. There are limited spaces for Intensives, Critiques, and Pages, so sign up early.

The conference will be held in Fargo, North Dakota, on September 13-14. The Early-Bird price (good until July 31) is $125 for the conference with additional charges for optional intensives and critiques. 
From August 1 onward, the cost increases to $150.00 and critiques will no longer be available. 

We have a great line-up of speakers:
  • Sara Sargent, Senior Executive Editor at Random House Books for Young Readers
  • Alexa Pastor, Editor with Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Timothy Travaglini, a literary agent with Transatlantic Agency
  • Claudia Mills, an award-winning author
We'll also have critique and consultation opportunities and the chance to connect with other writers and illustrators throughout the region. 

Click here for speaker bios and conference schedule.

One of this year's highlights is the Jimmy Jet Award for Excellence in Children's LIterature, a prize of $350 for the best manuscript submitted for critique. We will also feature a Bookstore of our member's books. During lunch, you may choose to read the first two minutes of your work in progress and receive dozens of written responses if you sign up for Pages. We will have Intensives on Friday afternoon: Anatomy of a Picture Book and The Cult of Personality: Writing Character-Driven Fiction. Don't miss out on this great opportunity.

Invite friends to join us. Members of SCBWI as well as nonmembers are welcome.  
Questions? Email dakotas@scbwi.org

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Celebrate Our Great Nation

As we have fun and go about our holiday to celebrate this great land of ours, let us not forget all those who have, and continue to, fight for our freedom and ability to do so.  Honor our home of the free because of the brave. We owe you!

Happy 4th of July. Celebrate this great nation and be safe!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Build Your Best Self

"Fear and dread are great cripplers of the spirit."


As I have continued to explore and be enlightened by this book, I've grown to see how "stuck" one can become in all facets of life. Stuck in writing, yes, but also stuck in mindset (hence why my next book exploration will be MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.), stuck in routine (I am guilty as charged), stuck in thought or belief (positive or negative) and so forth. So how then does one become "unstuck" in order to move forward?

I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and am often arguing the merit of the proverbial glass half full, not empty, to those naysayers out there. Clearly, I don't live wearing rose-colored glasses but do believe one can set the tone and mindset for the day by choosing to focus on and see the positive rather than assuming the worst.

The prayer at the end of one of the chapter reads...

"How much more positive my life would be if I just assumed that things will go well. Give me that kind of vision."

Oh boy, yes! In fact, this has been an ongoing discussion in my household as of late for various reasons. I have lectured some on not assuming something will happen a certain and expected way but to, rather, wait and let things unfold before jumping to conclusions. This has stemmed from a negative place of assumption however. Perhaps I should now lecture the benefits of assuming from a place of positivity...rather than expecting it to be another crappy, cloudy day, see the sun peeking from behind the cool cloud; rather than expecting to fail a test, assume you will know more than you think given the effort put forth in studying; rather than expecting another rejection, assume the editor or agent may love your manuscript and, if not, surely another will...see my point?

Much of this negativity, it seems to (and for) me, stems from a place of fear. Fear of being ridiculed, fear of losing or not being good enough, fear of failure...even fear of success depending on what that success entails. Fear can drive, or stunt, so many of our thoughts, beliefs and abilities. We must overcome this fear.

Wright says, "So put away fear today. And build upon hope...when you finally face the thing you fear or dread, it automatically becomes a smaller monster."

And, I would argue, frees the ties that bind our minds.  Step by step, task by task, hour by hour, day by day...the piles get tackled, the projects get accomplished and the mind and negativity get quieted.

Let's build our best selves and not be crippled by anything negative!

Given I have often posted about this book, I'm sure you can guess I highly recommend it. I have enjoyed it immensely and found it very beneficial thus far. I bet you would too!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

A Terrific Read of Adventure and Imagination for Kids

I'm back from my family fun, and I have a wonderful book for you.  Below find my review of BEVERLEE BEAZ THE BROWN BURMESE, written by Regan H.W. Macaulay and illustrated by Alex Zgud.

Author: Regan W.H. Macaulay 
Illustrator: Alex Zgud 
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing 
Published: 2019 
ISBN:  978-1-987976-52-6

Beverlee Beaz is an adventurous Burmese cat with an active imagination. Beverlee’s story taps the imagination of children everywhere as she greets the day and romps through meadows, around hills, along the edge of the woods to the bank of a river. Beverlee follows fun creatures kids everywhere will love on her caper such as a monarch butterfly as it morphs into a parrot from the rainforest, a rabbit into a kangaroo from the Australian Outback, a frog becomes a Komodo dragon from Indonesia. Bees turn into pterodactyls who give chase…but what is real and what is the product of Beverlee Beaz’s beautiful imagination?  Follow Beverlee’s story of adventure and excitement until the sun sets on her escapades and find out.

Ms. Zgud’s whimsical illustrations are vivid and colorful and bring Beverlee Beaz and her beautiful story to life.

This book is highly recommended for young readers of all ages.

** Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.  This review consists of my truthful opinions, not influenced in any way by the author or publisher.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Well, given the period of time it has been since my last post, I imagine it is quite obvious I've been MIA as of late. This is just a quick check in to say that in the chaos of a winding down tennis season for my son, my daughter's high school graduation and festivities, wrapping up work and school and preparing for a family vacation, I've let my blogging slip considerably.

The break will continue a bit longer, but I will be back mid-June following much needed family time. I thank you for your understanding.

Until then, happy reading and writing!

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Blessings

Happy Easter! Wishing you all a blessed holiday as you celebrate the true meaning of Easter with friends and family.  Alleluia, Alleluia!

Friday, April 19, 2019

Go Vote!

Congratulations to all of the finalists on the short list for the Crystal Kite Awards!

Round 2 voting has begun and will close on April 30 at 5pm PDT.

Check out the finalists in your division at www.scbwi.org. Once you are on your Member Home page, go to the left navigation bar, scroll to the bottom, and click on Vote in the Crystal Kite Awards to cast your vote.

I was pleased and excited to see my top choice is still in the running.  Good luck to all!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Picture Books of the Heart

Some books don't just tug at the heart strings, they yank at them good and hard. Recently, I have found myself purchasing several which made me feel that tug when I read the reviews.  Then I got them to read, and wham...pure on emotion! My picture book library seems to be ever expanding, the shelves starting to cave under the pressure...or so my husband says:)  Some of my recent favorites which foster hope and insight include THE REMEMBER BALLOONS, A GIRL NAMED OCTOBER, IMAGINE, AND MY HEART.

THE REMEMBER BALLOONS, written by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, is a truly amazing book. It serves as a wonderful way to help children try to understand and cope with a loved one suffering from dementia and brings hope in the face of struggle and pain. The art spoke to my heart as much as the text. Simply perfect!

A GIRL NAMED OCTOBER, written by Zakieh A. Mohammed and illustrated by Andrea Tripke, has such a profound and insightful message on the view of life it will impact children and adults alike.

IMAGINE, written by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, made me think and feel as a child again...oh the possibilities!

MY HEART, written and illustrated by Corinna Luyken, celebrates the importance of letting one's heart be the guide and the ability to decide where it will lead.

All of the above books spoke to my heart in numerous ways, big and small. I highly recommend all if you haven't had the opportunity to read them yet. 

I would also love to hear what books have spoken to you recently as I am always looking to add to my collection...and maybe bend the shelves a bit more!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Failure is Not the End

It has been some time since I've picked up my copy of SIMPLE ACTS OF MOVING FORWARD, but I read several chapters last night and was reminded why I enjoyed it so much previously.  I highly recommend this book by Vinita Hampton Wright regardless of which part of your life you may need some suggestions for getting unstuck.

In the section entitled Acts of Daring, Wright quotes Gregg Levoy in CALLINGS as saying,

"I was once told that if I am not failing regularly, I'm living so far below my potential that I'm failing anyway."

This really spoke to me. I suppose it seems a bit harsh to consider the possibility that one is failing if not "failing," but I think the idea involves taking some risks in life. If one doesn't try, and inevitably fail some, one cannot achieve his/her potential as it is only in putting oneself out there and being vulnerable, and sometimes failing miserably, that one can reach greatness.

I recall often hearing my mom say, "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again." It wasn't, "If at first you don't succeed, give up."

Much in our lives, both personally and professionally, is learned the hard way with great effort and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears, so why should writing be any different?

Whether in the comments received from critique partners or the rejections received from agents or publishers (even those nice champagne rejections), authors must have a thick skin and press on.  Perhaps we need to adjust how we perceive those "failures" and consider them fuel for the proverbial fire within rather than a reason to give up on something. I am a firm believer in persistence pays and perseverance is as, if not more, important than anything else. It has certainly been the case for me anyway in many aspects of my life.

So, my friends, if at first you don't succeed, continue to work hard and press on regardless of the struggles encountered. I will be doing the same. For any road worth traveling has a few bumps along the way.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Celebrate Read Across America Day

Today, March 2, is widely celebrated as Read Across America Day. This day serves as motivation and awareness in calling every child to celebrate reading in honor of the birthday of Dr. Seuss.  Who better to celebrate than Dr. Seuss who made reading and enjoying books so much fun for kids, and who continues to enchant and entertain children and adults today.

Motivating children to read, which, in turn, improves student achievement and performance in school, is so very important.  As a children's author, my goal is to write books that make kids (and the parents reading to their kids) want to read them time and time again.  I want to instill a love of reading and books in kids and make them want to pick up a book and read. 

Losing oneself in the pages of a book and the life created therein is what made me want to be an author in the first place.  To do this for children is the greatest honor and privilege, and I salute Dr. Seuss for helping the world see the fun words and stories can be for children.

So, today, grab your favorite book, Dr. Seuss or otherwise, and settle in to read. I know I will be doing the same.

Should you feel so inclined, please share your favorite Dr. Seuss book below.  It is hard to beat THE CAT IN THE HAT, but OH! THE PLACES YOU'LL GO is one of my favs! How about you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Made in Oklahoma Event

If you are in or near Oklahoma City on Sunday, March 3, stop by the Made in Oklahoma event from 11 AM-5 PM and visit the 4RV Publishing booth on the 2nd floor of the Public Farmers Market Building. I cannot be there; however, BEDTIME KISSES will be as will some staff members and authors of many terrific books published by 4RV Publishing.

Thank you, Vivian Zabel, President of 4RV Publishing, for your dedication to 4RV and your authors. I wish I could be there in person. Thank you, too, to those authors and staff members able to participate in this great event. Much appreciated!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Reading for Research Month

I am excited to be participating in ReFoReMo again this year.  What a wonderful month of inspiration and information.  Join in the fun and dive into the reading-writing connection with wonderful posts and mentor texts.  Registration is accepted through Monday, March 4.

Learn more at http://www.reforemo.com.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Technology: Past Vs. Present

I am back...yippee!  I owe my daughter a huge THANK YOU!  I've been struggling for weeks unable to sign in or comment on my blog or reply to the comments others posted.  My daughter determined it was an issue with Safari after I updated my system to Mojave.  She downloaded Firefox to try that and...viola! I am back in business...or so it seems thus far, at least.

All of this started me thinking about the extent and degree to which technology drives and impacts our lives today.  I clearly see the merits and am frustrated by the negative issues; however, there are parts of me that would love to throw it all out the window.  Technology and social media have become such an intrinsic and important part of our world today, and there are certainly plenty of pros.  But there are also some cons.  Clearly, I have been struggling with one such issue these last weeks.

By nature, I am a paper and pencil person.  I write on yellow legal pads most often and then type and save on my computer.  I never used the computer lab in college (this was before taking a computer to college was as common as it is these days) and always typed papers on my typewriter.  I would probably still do so today were it not for the huge amount of submissions being accepted via email (and the greater difficulty erasing mistakes on a typewriter).  Don't get me wrong, it is a very big time saver to use computers and do so much electronically.  The biggest thing I struggle with is the fact that I am fairly (this is putting it very mildly) technologically inept and often have issues I cannot solve as well as the fact that social media and all it offers, albeit positive in large part, is a huge time suck and can often take away from time spent writing, butt in chair.  It is such a catch-22...the ease with which we can make connections and the speed with which we can accomplish so much of what we do is wonderful; however, the ease with which we can waste time on all that is offered online requires serious time management skills and strict self-control.

Which takes me back to my original point...how were marketing and promotion done in the days before social media and all these outlets that allow us to create a platform and sell ourselves today?  How did authors help sell books? How did they make themselves known to others, especially those who were not published by the big houses?  And is there ever a way to scale back to more of that type of approach to focus more on the writing and less on the rest of what marketing entails?  Oh boy, it sounds like I want to have my cake and eat it too, doesn't it???  Therein lies the need for balance and a happy medium.

Okay, maybe not quite this far back (and mine was far newer and more functional than this model), but you get my drift.

I would welcome any input or comments anyone is willing to share.

Friday, February 1, 2019

StoryStorm Complete

Mission accomplished!  30 ideas in 30 days in the month of January...some of which I am very excited to pursue.  Thank you, Tara Lazar, for the month of focus and inspiration.

Thursday, January 24, 2019


HELP! I have a major issue.  Is there anyone out there reading this that uses a Mac and has updated the operating system to Mojave? I have a MacBook Air and updated to Mojave a week or two ago--don't ask me why as I am REALLY kicking myself right now!

Since that time, I have been unable to fully log into my blog and, therefore, cannot reply to any comments others have posted on my blog nor comment on other blogs that use Blogger.  I am unsure if this is an issue with Blogger or Google.

As you can see, I can post a new entry.  When I sign in using my google account, it shows I am logged into Blogger and can go to my reading list and read those I am following though cannot comment on any of those entries.  I can type a comment, but it will not post and, when I select comment via my google account (which is my only option), my picture is not there and it will not post the comment.  It is on this screen I can use the New Post button to post a new entry; however, when I go to the View Blog button, it takes me back to the main screen but I'm no longer logged in.  Grrrrr!!!!

I have noticed a difference in what I typically see when posting as my picture used to be there coinciding with my google account but is not any longer.  Also, the one time I was able to comment on someone's post, it gave me the option to manually do so with my name or anonymously and worked when I used my name though then did not work the next time I tried it.  I haven't seen that option again.  I have been able to comment on blogs hosted by Wordpress though it has been sketchy.

How is that for clear as mud???

I have researched issues with Mojave and sent Help requests--all to no avail.  Clearly, technology and I do not get along:(  Is there anyone with knowledge of this issue able to provide some insight regarding how I might rectify it before I lose my marbles?

I apologize to all those I typically comment on as I have been repeatedly trying with no success.  I thank you in advance for any help you can provide.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today, let us recognize and appreciate his bravery and quest for freedom and equality...and always have a dream!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Angel's Forever Home Book Review

I am pleased to share my most recent book review. 

Authors: Rita Gigante, Bobbie Sterchele-Gigante & Donna McDine
Illustrator: Renie DeMase
Publisher: Mascot Books
Published: 2019

ANGEL’S FOREVER HOME is a heart-warming tale of hope, courage, love and comfort as a rescue dog named Angel waits patiently to find his home after an earthquake in Chile leaves him injured.  The authors of this sweet story beautifully capture Angel’s voice and make him so relatable one can’t help but root for him and hope he finds a home as special as he.  The kindness shown to Angel tugs at one’s heartstrings, especially in appreciation of rescue animals everywhere and those giving them their “forever homes.” Ms. DeMase’s beautifully detailed and soft illustrations really bring Angel and his story to life.  A must read for children and adults alike! 

To purchase your copy, please see one of the following:

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

StoryStorm Begins

Here we go...the best way I know to kick off the start of a new writing year is with Tara Lazar's StoryStorm.

It's not too late for you to join the fun.  Sign up by January 7 and add 30+ fresh writing ideas to kick off the new year.

Learn more at https://taralazar.com.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2019! Wishing you all a healthy, happy and prosperous new year, wherever and whatever your path may be.  May you receive all life's blessings and enjoy the best year yet!