Archive for December 2014

Happy Holidays

December 25, 2014


Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas!


Pet Peeve

December 18, 2014

As a writer, I’ve learned every word counts. Unnecessary words can throw off your plot and pacing. Richard Peck, an award-winning author, provided excellent advice when he said, “You can cut 20 words from the tightest page your ever wrote.”

I have a pet peeve when it comes to extra words. As I see it, phrases such as gone missing and switch out each have an unnecessary word in them.

If a person has gone missing, they’re either gone or missing. They’ve disappeared. Got it?

Why switch out something? Just switch it with something else. Cut out the out!

And then there’s the word changeup, also spelled change-up. Changeup is a baseball term, but I’ve heard it used when someone wants to change-up something like their wardrobe. Really? If you can change-up something, can you change it down?

I know these are commonly used phrases, but they befuddle me. As this year comes to an end, I can’t help but wonder what new expressions will creep into our vocabularies in 2015?

Maybe in future posts, I’ll change-up my technique and switch out some of the vocabulary I’ve become accustomed to using. So take a close look at upcoming posts and see if you notice any phrases that have gone missing.

Do you have any words or phrases that are your pet peeves?

A Book Lover

December 11, 2014

Have I told you about my good friend, Mary Petersen? She’s the ultimate book lover. As a former elementary school teacher and a school librarian, she’s a pro at book talks and continues to inspire and promote reading at all levels.

Visiting Mary’s home is delight. It’s like walking into a cozy library. Books! Books! Books! They’re everywhere.



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Charming knickknacks, pictures, and pillows related to reading adorn shelves, walls, and tables.


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Although Mary enjoys a wide variety of genres, picture books make up most of her collection. If you walk into Mary’s yard, you’ll find a Little Free Library filled with books and a bench nearby to relax and read.

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Mary’s home is a place where you want to curl up on one of her comfy chairs and read to your heart’s content.

I asked Mary to share a bit more about herself and her book choices.

What made you such a book lover?

Public libraries and particularly the librarians in the children’s rooms. No matter where my family moved there were always friendly librarians with great books to recommend.

Your family is very lucky that you’ve made books such a priority in their lives. Why do you think books are so important?

Books introduce one to new ideas, new cultures, new ways of thinking, and new relationships.

What types of illustrations speak to you?

Woodcuts, collage, and realistic paintings

Favorite woodcut illustrators are Mary Azarian, Betsy Bowen, Michael McCurdy, and Ashley Wolff.

Favorite collage artists are Eric Carle, Leo Lionni, Lois Ehlert, Melissa Sweet, and Carin Berger.

Favorite realistic paintings artists are Jerry and Brian Pinkney, Wendy Halperin, and Jane Dyer.

I notice your shelves are filled with picture books. Why do you choose them over middle-grade or young adult?

The artwork! It’s like having a personal art gallery in my home. I like being surrounded by fine art. I like introducing children to the art as well.

Other favorite artists:

Leo & Diane Dillon

Floyd Copper

Steven Kellogg

Cynthia Rylant

Wendell Minor

Steve Jenkins

Kevin Henkes

Douglas Wood

Donald Crews



Robert Sabuda

Helen Oxenbury

Ernest Shepard

Keiko Kasza

If you’re looking for a great picture book experience, you can’t go wrong with any of Mary’s suggestions!


December 4, 2014

Procrastination is a terrifying word. It can suck you into a dark hole and leave you grappling to get out. It robs you of quality time and prevents you from achieving your goals.

I’m stuck in the State of Procrastination. I’m ready to finish writing the last chapter of my book. I know exactly how it will end, but my fingers won’t type the words. To give me a kick-start, I turned to quotes by well-known authors for inspiration. (another excellent way to procrastinate)

Neil Gaiman said, “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

I’ve got it. Don’t drag my feet or fingers. Get to it. Put one word after another. It’s Neil Gaiman’s last sentence that puts me in a panic.

Writing is HARD. So here I sit, thinking of all the things I could do besides type that first word. The dead spider in the honeycomb blind should be removed. That crooked picture on the wall is driving me crazy. I wonder who’s on Facebook. Maybe I should tweet something.

Snap out of it. I tell myself. No more procrastinating.

Louis L’Amour said, “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”

Right. Turn on the faucet.

But Bill Watterson said, “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”

Don’t confuse me! My mood is growing dark, and I’m already in a panic. I need to finish my last chapter. I’m going to turn on all the faucets in the house and let them flow. Maybe something will trickle into my brain and my fingers will begin to type one word after another – or maybe the house will flood.

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