Thursday, June 21, 2012


I just received notice that the KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD has been given to me by Laura Sassi, children’s writer and poet.  Laura's blog,, includes writing tips and guest blogs from other children's writers.  Thanks for the nomination, Laura!  I'm delighted to receive this award and to pass it along to others.

The rules for the KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD are simple. First, thank the person who nominated you. Second, write 7 things about yourself that no one knows. Third, nominate several creative bloggers for this award.


1. I love peanut butter in all shapes and forms.  Crunchy?  Yep.  Smooth?  Of course.  Inside Reese's cups?  Definitely.  On apple slices?  You bet.  In sandwiches?  Duh.  I lurve me some mashed up peanuts.

2. I usually begin new writing projects in a spiral notebook. Then when I know where they're going, I transfer my notes to the computer. I have LOTS of spiral notebooks.

3. I love nature.  Bugs, animals, trees, dirt, wind, birds...I love it all.  (Which is probably why I also love science.)  I have to confess, however, that I'm not that crazy about bodies of water, unless they're fishing ponds where the bass are biting or our local pool.  Guess I'm a landlubber at heart.

4. I adore reading aloud to my kids.  There's nothing like the shared experience of a great book.  When we take driving trips, we stock up on books on CD from the library and let someone else read to all of us!  We've read lots of great books that way.  In fact, I associate many of our vacations with the book/books we listened to on the way there or back.  Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky=The Hound of the Baskervilles.  Salida, Colorado=The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.  Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota=The Bunnicula books.

5. I walk a lot.  I try to get in five fast miles every day, either outside with my dog or on my treadmill.  I do a lot of pre-writing when I walk.  If I'm afraid I'll forget an idea by the time I get home, I call my house and leave a message on the answering machine.

6. Dogs like me.  The feeling is mutual.

7. I visit my local library at least once a week and usually more than that.  Libraries rock!

TERRIFIC WRITING BLOGS I wholeheartedly nominate for the KREATIV BLOGGER AWARD: (Please check them out.)

Nancy I Sanders' blog: Blogzone--Practical Tips to Help Your Writing Dreams Come True

Nancy Kelly Allen's blog:  Writing Workshop

Rachel Hamby's blog: Writing and Reading a Picture Book

Vijaya Bodach's blog: Reading, Writing, & Ruminating

Angela Ackerman's blog:  The Bookshelf Muse

Monday, June 11, 2012

How To Write A Rebus

Earlier this year, the SCBWI Regional Advisor for Missouri, Sue Bradford Edwards, asked if I'd write an article for the region's newsletter on how to write a rebus.  I'd recently had three accepted for publication by Clubhouse Jr..  I was happy to. 

Don't know what a rebus is?  Then this is the perfect time to learn!  Here's a link to the region's website and newsletter.


Saturday, June 9, 2012


Today I am hosting Nancy I Sanders as she celebrates the June 1 release of FREDERICK DOUGLASS FOR KIDS: HIS LIFE AND TIMES, WITH 21 ACTIVITIES (Chicago Review Press).

About the book:
Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.

Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.

About Nancy:
Nancy I. Sanders is the bestselling and award-winning author of over 80 books including the picture book D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. She teaches other writers how to launch their career to the next level based on material found in her groundbreaking book for writers, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career. Nancy and her husband, Jeff, live in southern California. They have two adult sons, Dan and Ben.

You photographed many of the images in your book.  Tell us how you did it.

I knew that this publisher accepts photographs as part of the finished book, so the first thing I did was send a couple of samples to my editor to see if my digital camera took shots that were of the quality needed to publish in the book. Some were and some weren’t, so I got out my instruction guide to my camera and learned more about how to use the settings on my camera. I knew I’d be working inside museums with low lighting so I especially wanted to see if that would work. This time around, my editor said that the photographs were a much better quality.

Then I contacted museum and historic sites to get permission to take photographs and publish them in my book. Some sites required a payment fee and also a permission form to fill out. Others didn’t require anything and gave me permission. Still others don’t give permission to photograph their collections.

My publisher requires written permission from every place that shows I have permission to publish photographs from their museum or historic site. For some of these places, an e-mail from them stating they gave me permission was enough. For other places, my publisher had a form for them to fill out.

Then, during my trip I took tons of photographs of each thing. I used a tripod a lot, too. This was because I had no way of checking the quality of my photographs until I checked them out on my computer when I got home. I’m not a professional photographer, so I knew I’d have lots of fuzzy images to deal with. In the end, I had lots of clear shots I was able to use for the book. Plus, I use lots of my extras that didn’t make it into the book for posts on my blog and other marketing events.

How did you acquire the pictures that you didn't photograph?

The Internet is such an amazing resource for authors today! When I’d search for a name or topic for my book, lots of images would come up. I always looked for free images since I’m paying for these myself, and also for images in the public domain. The Library of Congress had a lot of these types of images.

Another source that had numerous images for a very low cost was Documenting the American South. They own a lot of historic books that are in the public domain. They have scanned many of the images from their books and now offer them for use in projects like mine for a very low cost. I used a lot of images from them, too. They had a permission form I filled out and then sent me the images to use.

Another resource I used was I’d search for a public historic site such as Frederick Douglass’s gravesite in Rochester, and up would come a bunch of photographs people have taken who have visited the site. Then I contacted several of these people and asked for permission to publish their images in my book. I acquired a couple of images this way.

What are you doing to celebrate the release of your book, Frederick Douglass for Kids?

I’m hosting a two-week virtual Book Launch Party! There are prizes to win, fun facts to learn, and lots of inside peeks and helpful tips about how a book is born. Stop by my site today to join in the party. You can join the fun on my blog today at:

Thanks, Nancy!  And good luck with your book. 
Readers, you can learn more about Nancy and Frederick at these sites:


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My STARS OF TODAY Book Covers!

I'm super excited to show you my new book covers for...

Stars of Today: Taylor Lautner

Stars of Today: Taylor Swift

Stars of Today: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson

Stars of Today: Lea Michele

These biographies for 7-10 year olds are available for preorder now, with an official release date of 8.28.2012 from The Child's World.  Thanks for letting me share!