Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Story Giveaways!

Fellow EMLA author Maria Gianferrari is giving a free copy of her book, OFFICER KATZ AND HOUNDINI: A TALE OF TWO TAILS on Goodreads. Check it out here!

And check-out Trick or Reaters' terrific alternative to candy giveaways at Halloween---free STORIES!

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Wow, the writing business can be full of happy surprises. I am so fortunate to have two books coming out in the spring 2017. 

MY BUSY GREEN GARDEN (illustrated by Carol Schwartz, published by Tilbury House) is a rhyming cumulative picture book about insects you'd find in a garden. It has a release date of January 31, 2017. 

MAMA LOVES YOU SO (illustrated by Simone Shin, published by Little Simon) is a rhyming board book that celebrates a mother’s love trumping even majestic mother nature. If you know me, you know I'm a huge nature-lover so I used nature metaphors to illustrate the power of a mother's love. Little Simon is releasing this book on March 14, 2017.

Two books with release-dates about six weeks apart. But this week, I saw where both covers appeared online. WOW! Just look at these...


I am so lucky to have two amazing illustrators create the art for my words. Thank you, Carol and Simone! If you'd like some more eye candy, please visit their websites:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Great News...Times Two!

I think I need to go on vacation more often. Why? Because good things seem to happen when I'm away from my desk. What's new, you might ask? Well...

Upon returning from the annual Erin Murphy Literary Agency Retreat in June, I received a contract from Tilbury House for my picture book manuscript, MOTHER EARTH'S LULLABY. Woohoo! This story was part of my creative thesis at VCFA and is close to my heart so I'm thrilled that I'll see it in print (and more importantly, that young children will get to see it in book form). I've loved working with Tilbury House on my other picture book, MY BUSY GREEN GARDEN (illustrated by the amazing Carol Schwartz, Spring 2017) so I can't wait to roll up my sleeves and start on this project.

The other terrific thing that happened two days ago is that my upcoming board book, MAMA LOVES YOU SO, was listed in Publisher's Weekly "Spring 2017 Sneak Previews." I'm so excited to have this story published by Little Simon and illustrated by the fabulous Simone Shin. As soon as I receive permission to share the cover, I will! (it's gorgeous so you won't want to miss it). Though I wrote this story as a picture book (and my agent pitched it as a picture book), Little Simon wanted to produce it as a board book to include in their new line, Stories to Start (books for parents to share with their babies).

There you have it! With great news like this, I'm not sure I should ever go back to my office! But when I do, I'll probably be moving like this...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Great News!

I'm thrilled to announce that Tilbury House has acquired my picture book, MY BUSY GREEN GARDEN. Woohoooo! This rollicking cumulative rhyming story has a tentative publication date of Spring 2017.  I'm so excited to have the chance to plant the seeds of reading in young people's minds with this story.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Concept Books: What are they and how do I know if I’ve written one?

The first picture book manuscript I ever wrote was about ocean animals. I hadn’t done any research about children’s writing, much less the specifics of picture books. I just wrote—and in rhyme too! (yikes!)  I then attended a children’s writing conference and found myself utterly confused because so many editors kept saying that they wanted character-driven stories, not plot-driven. Hmm…my story didn’t have either of those things! But then, after doing some research at home (studying the craft—which I should have done first), I discovered there was a type of picture book called “concept books.”

Like my story, concept books often lack characters and their problems. They also lack a plot (e.g., rising story arc), instead structured by other frameworks, such as the alphabet, numbers, time, categories or a host of other structures. I was thrilled to discover this wonderful type of picture book! My story “fit” in somewhere. Through the years, I’ve learned more about concept books, which is why I wanted to write this—to help others understand more about these wonderful treasures in the picture book world.

What they are…
Concept books (either fiction or nonfiction) introduce children to an idea, concept or theme such as (but not limited to) the alphabet, counting, colors or shapes. Sometimes they tell a story using a character or they focus on a concept using some other form of structure (such as the alphabet). A classic example of a straightforward concept book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. My own Blackberry Banquet is a rhyming concept book with a cumulative structure that features forest animals. An example of a concept book that uses a character to drive the story is Kelly Bingham’s Z is for Moose. The best way to learn more about concept books is to read them. Click here for a terrific list of books. 

So how do you know if you’ve written a concept book? The first thing I tell my writing students is to think about what drives the reader to turn the page. Does he seek information? Is his curiosity driven by the need to learn something? If the answer is yes; then the book is a concept book. Concept books are read by children whose curiosity is information-based. Structures such as a sequence, a journey, a cumulative build-up, a definition, or question and answer (to name a few) will provide the framework for a concept book.

What they are not…
Now, if the answer to the above question is no (the reader is not seeking information); then you must dig deeper and ask yourself again what drives the reader to turn the page. Does your story have a main character with some sort of problem or goal? If so, then the book is a character-driven story. The reader will turn the page because he cares about the main character and wants to see how he solves his problem. Character-driven stories are read by children whose curiosity is emotion-based. These stories use a traditional rising story arc with a beginning, middle and end to frame the story and show how the character resolves his/her problem. Examples are Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak or Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller.

So there you have it! Easy as pie, right? Well, probably not. As the picture book market continues to expand with amazing creativity, the variations of stories will grow and more hybrid versions will likely appear. But for now, I hope this helps you to determine if you’ve written a concept book.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Save That Date!

The Ridgecrest branch of the Kern County Library System is hosting an author panel, showcasing local authors. I'm happy to say I'll be one of the panelists! If you're in the area on Saturday, October 17, please stop by--I'd love to see you!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

New Book Release!

Schoolwide, Inc. has released my latest picture book, WHERE IN THE WORLD ARE YOU?

This concept picture book is rich in photographs and is meant to teach basics of geography and cosmology. It explores the universal truth that that we are all part of the same place in space. In cumulative fashion, the story takes the reader from the outer reaches of the universe to our galaxy to our solar system to our planet, continuing to the reader's own room.

Way out in space, there is a universe--
an ever-growing universe--
where all of us are living.

Schoolwide, Inc. is the largest producer of educational e-books. Because reading and writing are critical for success in the school, the community, and the workplace, Schoolwide, Inc. has a central mission to improve students' reading, writing, and learning by increasing the tools teachers can use to teach effectively. 

Teachers from schools with site licenses  can access my book through their account.