Up-Coming Author Visits

Troy-Buchannan HS Writers Week
March 5, 2015
7:30 am to 8:50 am

Spoede Elementary School
Family Book Night

March 5, 2015
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

WHEELS GO 'ROUND by Peggy Archer, Board Book for Highlight's Let's Grow series

Please contact me if you would like me to autograph copies of my picture book, NAME THAT DOG, at your school's Scholastic Book Fair.






Recent Author Visits


Scholastic Book Fair, St. Charles, Missouri December 16th

Scholastic Book Fair, Fenton, Missouri December 13th

Scholastic Book Fair, Columbia, Missouri December 1st

Saturday Writers presentation on writing and marketing a picture book, June 2014, St. Peters MO

Lakeview Elementary School, O'Fallon, MO in April 2014

With Kim Piddington, Missouri SCBWI Regional Advisor, at the Missouri Association of School Librarians convention in St. Louis, April

Indiana SCBWI Spring conference April 2014

Chesterfield, MO children's writers group at Christmas 2013

scholastic Warehouse Book Signing December 7, 2013

At Main Street Books with owner, Vickie Erwin November 30th

B&N with authors Mike Force, Chris DiGiuseppi, and Valerie Battle Kienzle November 22nd

Local Author Open House at MK Library in O'Fallon, November 21st

Carlin Park Elementary School Angola, IN

Sherwood School Scholastic Book Fair in Arnold, MO

ICD Scholastic Book Fair with students--Immaculate Conception Dardenne Prairie, MO


Peggy with children's author Karen Guccione-Englert at the MK Library Local Authors Open House in O'Fallon, MO

Book signing at Indianapolis Fairgrounds, with Mary Igras

Author Visit to Immaculate Conception School (ICD) April 2012

ICD library staff

Edison Elementary School Hammond IN

Lincoln Elementary School Hammond IN

Beta Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, Hammond IN

Keynote Speakers
MO SCBWI Fall Conference


Heather Alexander, editor at Dial Books for Young Readers

Quinlan Lee, agent, Adams Literary Agency

Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of BULL RIDER

Author Visits
Spring 2011


Kids Ink Independent Children's Bookstore, downtown Indianapolis

Shirley Mullin, bookstore owner, with children's authors Janna Mathies, Peggy, and Nathan Clement

Thank You cards from Holy Family School in South Bend

Fieler Elementary students

Ms Hanneman's class at Northview Elementary

In the classroom at Northview Elementary School

Talking to students at Northview Elementary

Working together to create a poem in Starke County

Talking with students at Starke County

Author Judy Roth and students at the Starke County Young Artists Day

Indiana SCBWI PAL Luncheon and Bookfair at B&N Bookstore


Booksigning at B&N Bookfair

Anderson's Bookshop Children's Literature Breakfast


Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast, with author and keynote speaker Tim Green

December Booksigning at The Bookstore in Michigan City


friendly staff at The Bookstore

Holiday Author Fair
Hosted by the Indiana Historical Society


Author Book Signing

Butler University Chorus entertains with Christmas Carols

Bellaboo's Play and Activity Center


Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Stuffee and the author

Stuffe's lunch!

November: Picture Book Idea Month

October Author Events


Author Panel: the Road to Publishing--Kathryn Page Camp moderating

Kate Collins: adult trade publishing, mysteries

Peggy Archer: children's trade publishing, picture books

Katherine Flotz: self-publishing, memoir

Michael Poore: adult trade publishing, fiction

Cynthia Echterling: e-publishing & small press, science fiction

Author visit to Portage Public Library, October 23rd


IN SCBWI presents Esther Hershenhorn:
Getting Your Stories Right
October 9, 2010


Esther Hershenhorn talks about the Reader's story and the Writer's story

Esther shares resources, experience, and opportunities

Trish Batey, Indiana RA

Yellow paper on your back gave a hint of 'What author are you?' for the day

Smiling faces

Peggy Archer gives an overview of the 2010 SCBWI conference in LA

Karen Kulinski gives an update on Indiana's HoosierLinks

Janna Mathies at the piano sings "Why It Matters" by Sara Groves

door prizes

IN SCBWI steering committee with Trish: (L to R) Karen Kulinski, HoosierLinks, Kristi Valiant, Website Coordinator, Alina Klein, Listserv Coordinator, Peggy, ARA (not pictured: Sharon Vargo, Illustrator Coordinator)

New Regional Advisor, Kristi Valiant, talks about plans for 2011

Indiana SCBWI: Outgoing RA Trish Batey, ARA Peggy Archer, Incoming RA Kristi Valiant

Author visits at Citizen's Financial Bank and ROAR's (Reach Out and Read) Evening With the Authors


Visiting with author/illustrator Nathan Clement and son Theo at the ROAR author event

Autographing for a young reader

Story Time at ROAR's (Reach Out and Read) Evening With the Authors Event in Indianapolis

Reading to young bankers at Citizens Financial Bank in Valparaiso

2010 SCBWI Conference for Children's Writers and Illustrators in Los Angeles, CA


Some of the crowd at the SCBWI conference in LA

Ashley Bryan, Golden Kite winner for Nonfiction

with Keynote speaker and Golden Kite winner, Marion Dane Bauer

Illustrator and Keynote speaker, Loren Long

E.B. Lewis, Keynote speaker

with Keynote speaker, Gennifer Choldenke

Keynote speaker, Gordon Korman

Chris Cheng, Australia RA and SCBWI Member of the Year

Kris Vreeland, Independent Bookstore manager, Vroman's Bookstore

Eva Mitnick, LA librarian and reviewer for SLJ

Greg Pinkus and Alice Pope on networking

Bruce Hale--Skyping

with Lin Oliver, co-founder of SCBWI

Steve Mooser, co-founder of SCBWI, with Sally Crock RAE

Indiana SCBWI members Mary Jo, Shannon, and Peggy celebrate in LA with Heart and Soul.

East and Midwest members celebrate at the Golden Kite Luncheon in LA--Peggy, Courtney, Julia and Mary Jo.

Peggy with Alice and Lisa, co-RAs from IL--friends and roommates

Linda V., formerly of Indiana, with her 'dog-in-training,' Dusty.

IWC Writers' Picnic


Anyone for Literary Bingo?

Children's Corner



Knee-high by the 4th of July!


This is the cornfield just down the street from my house on July 13th. That's me with the boot on my foot again!

Springtime Author Visits


Local Authors Day, Valparaiso B&N

Welcome to the Young Artists Fair in Plainfield, IN

Signing books at Van Buren Elementary School in Plainfield, IN

Book Launch Party for NAME THAT DOG!, Valparaiso Public Library


Happy Birthday, Name That Dog!

Little reader loving that dog book!

Celebrating the Book Launch!

Doggy treats at the book launch party

More springtime author visits


With Jocelyn at the Porter County Expo Center for the Be Kind to Animals Celebration

Speaking to readers and writers at the LaPorte County Public Library in April

Our new grandpuppy, Dudley!

Chad & Sara's Wedding Day


The new Mr. and Mrs. Biggs!

Focus on the Novel:
Indiana SCBWI Spring Conference


Trish Batey, Indiana SCBWI RA, Stephen Roxburg, Lisa Graff, Helen Frost, Peggy Archer, Indiana SCBWI ARA

Stephen Roxburg, Publisher of namelos, talked about writing the YA novel, the current state of publishing, and his new company, namelos

Lisa Graff, Middle Grade author, talks about writing the middle grade novel and the Slush Pile

Lisa autographs books with a smile

Introducing Helen Frost, YA author and poet

Question and Answer panel--Lisa, Stephen, and Helen

Registration, getting to know you

Schmoozing with other writers

Trish with author, Valiska Gregory

Books for sale--writers can never have too many!

Taking it all in.

School visits
Chesterton, IN








Mitchell, IN
Library Event


Afternoon Tea with the author in Mitchell

Alexis talks about storytime for the very young

Starke County Young Artists Day
North Judson, IN


My little corner--I love when students come up to talk.

HOW many dogs do you have?!

Authors of the day

Keynote address: Growing an Author with Peggy Archer

Making a book with Katie Mitschelen

Research--detective work, with Peggy Miller

Crafting a poem with Mary Ann Moore

Becoming an artist with Edwin Shelton

Music with the Band

One small hand holding onto another

Sharing the Christmas holiday with writer friends


Name That Dog! Sharing F&G's and write-up in Dial's catalog with group.

Writers Christmas lunch and meeting in Michigan City

Meeting up with Esther and Karen in Chicago

F&G's for Name That Dog!


Name That Dog! ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322-0

Christmas Writing Celebrations


Writing friends from the beginning!

November Author Visits


Drawing a turkey at Hussey-Mayfield Public Library-- Zionsville, IN

Autographs at Hussey-Mayfield Library, Zionsville

"Who likes to eat turkey at Thanksgiving?" --Morton Elementary School, Hammond, IN

Thank you cards from Morton Elementary students

Reading to my grandson's pre-school class at Zion Lutheran School-- Bethalto, IL


Ladies Tea
St. Mary's Church


Family Book Basket


Indiana SCBWI Fall Picture Book Conference


Courtney Bongiolatti, Editor S&S

Laurent Linn, Art Director S&S

Terry Harshman, Editor CBHI

Author-Illustrators, Kristi Valiant and Sharon Vargo

Kristi Valiant, IN-SCBWI logo winner

Our volunteer crew (minus a few)

author Katie Mitschelen and Peggy enjoying the conference

...Pawprints on the heart.


Snickers 2009

Snickers 1998


IWC Dinner Event
The Business of Writing


Janine Harrison, opening remarks

Sharon Palmeri, President IWC and speaker

Kathryn Page Camp speaks on Taxes for Writers

Kate Collins, mystery book author and Keynote speaker

Gordon Stamper, secretary IWC

Peggy, Sally, and Karen--writing friends enjoying the dinner event together

Autographs with a smile :)

Smokies in the morning


Writing the Picture Book
Rensellaer, IN


Smile and say 'author'!

Ready to start!

"Ghostwriting" with Sara Grant, Editor,
Working Partners


Sara Grant, Editor, Working Partners

One on one with Sara

Author and Editor...

Getting to know you...

Sharing thoughts... connecting

Schmoozing...

Smiling faces...

Our Kentucky friends...

Trish, RA, Peggy, ARA, Christi and Alina, steering committee members

Writing the non-fiction picture book


Picture book author, April Pulley Sayre, speaking in South Bend.

Writers and Friends


Surprise!

Esther and Heidi

Esther with Steve and Sally from National SCBWI

Heidi and Peggy, friends and poets

We came from Indiana...

...from California and Iowa

and enjoyed the friendships.

Peggy, Karen & Esther--connecting once again.

Summer Critique Meeting


Critique group gathering at Peggy Miller's house. Karen, Fred, Mary Ann, Katie, Judy, & the two Peggy's in front.

Songwriters in the Family


Our daughter, Sarah & our son, Dan both sang original songs at the Porter County Fair in the Colgate Country Showdown.

Indiana SCBWI Summer Schmooze


From Fort Wayne to Whiting, we gathered to talk & gain some bit of insight into the world of creating children's books.

Enjoying the company of other children's writers & illustrators.

Schmoozing.

Meeting other children's writers.

Sharing thoughts.

Smiles were free.

Peggy Archer talks about trade publishers.

Judy Roth talks about working with a small publisher.

Karen Kulinski talks about working with an agent.

Karen fielding questions.

ALA 2009 Chicago


Peggy with the Cat in the Hat

Katie and the Cat in the Hat

I won a collection of autographed books from the IL SCBWI (Society of Children's Writers & llustrators) booth at ALA for the Valparaiso Public Library. An awesome prize! Thank you IL SCBWI!

Peggy, presenting books won at ALA to Connie Sullivan, Branch Manager and Leslie Cefali, Youth Services Assistant, Valparaiso Public Library.

Find Authors

Caldecott and Other Great Picture Books

February 23, 2015

Tags: 2015 Caldecott winners, ALA, God's Quiet Things, Mole Music

Caldecott Medal

On February 2nd the American Library Association announced the 2015 Youth Media Award winners. Among those awards is the Caldecott Medal, awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Congratulations to the 2015 Caldecott Award winner, The Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated and written by Dan Santat! I’m not an artist or an illustrator, so the awards for illustrations made me stop to look at picture books from a different angle—illustrations.

I borrowed The Adventures of Beekle from the library. The illustrations are very colorful and imaginative, and, I think, match the feelings of Beekle. There are illustrations of children with their imaginary friends on the inside covers, done in black and white over blue background, which adds to the picture book experience, and also adds to the story. As a reader, I always like when there are illustrated end pages rather than blank pages. Much of the story experience in this book is told through the illustrations.

In addition to the Caldecott Medal winner, this year Caldecott Honor Awards were given to five picture books for young readers, and one graphic novel for young adults. I wasn’t able to find all of these books at the library, but I did take a look on line at the ones that I couldn’t find. Here are a couple of the Honor Books that I did get to look at.

Nana in the City written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo
The illustrations of the city in the beginning of the book lack as much brightness—when the young boy thinks the city is busy, loud and scary. Later, as Nana shows him how the city is a wonderful place, the illustrations become brighter and more colorful—I like the contrast. I like the textures shown in the illustrations, too.

Sam & Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett.
I read this book last year, and at the time I thought that the illustrations carried the story. I still feel that way. Sam and Dave are digging a hole, hoping to find ‘something spectacular.’ Through the illustrations we see that as they dig, they change directions, just missing their ‘something spectacular.’ What most impressed me in the illustrations was that the story seemed to begin and end in the same place, but subtle details in the illustrations show that it’s indeed not the same place. For example, what was an apple tree in the beginning of the book, is a pear tree at the end. You’ll have to check out the book to find the rest.

Of the winners that I didn’t get to look at (yet), there were two books that I definitely want to read.

The Noisy Paintbox by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre, written by Barb Rosenstock
I checked this book out on line. From what I saw, I loved the colors and the art style. The story line also sounded interesting to me, and I hope to be able to read this one soon.

The Right Word by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant
This is another book that intrigued me when I looked it up on line. I’m a list-maker, and this is a story about Roget, of Roget’s thesaurus—a list-maker. The illustrations seemed to be very ‘busy,’ which matches Roget’s list-making personality. I’m interested in seeing more.

I love when the words and the illustrations work together in a picture book to create a beautiful work of art. There are a couple of picture books in my own library which are not Caldecott winners or honor books, but books where (in my opinion) the illustrations worked with the text to create a ‘winning’ picture book.

One is God’s Quiet Things, illustrated by Rick Stevens, written by Nancy Sweetland. I love the soft pastel illustrations. They seem to take me to a new dimension where I can feel as well as see the quiet things in nature that God created. The writing is also very soft and lyrical, which I enjoyed.

Another book, which combines text and illustration to create the story, is Mole Music, written and illustrated by David McPhail. Mole’s story is told in the words, but the effects of what he does is shown in the illustrations. It leaves a very powerful impression on the reader.

For those of us who write for children but don’t illustrate their work, I hope this inspires you to take a ‘different’ look at picture books.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

Book Love—A Blog Hop!

February 11, 2015

Tags: book reviews, children's books, blog hop, book love, Story Patch

I love sharing good books with other readers, in person and online. But I don’t do it often enough. Thanks to Carrie Finison for the push to blog about books that I love this month!

I read about the Book Love Blog Hop on Carrie’s blog, Story Patch. I hope you’ll join me in blogging about books that you love this month.

BOOK LOVE Blog Hop Instructions:

1. Pick some books you love (any genre) that you think deserve more attention than they are getting.

2. Post reviews for the books you chose on Goodreads, or any social media. The reviews can be brief - even posting a short review helps. Posting on Amazon or Shelfari is great, too, or Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. The more places you can publicly proclaim your love, the better!

3. If you want, you can also post the reviews on your own blog, or link your blog back to your reviews on social media.

4. Feel free to display the BOOK LOVE badge on your blog - and if you want, link it back to this post so your visitors know what it's all about.

5. Tag some friends to do the same! Tag friends through their blogs, or on Facebook. That's it! If you don't want to wait to be tagged, you can jump right in and start reviewing and tagging yourself.

Here are some of the most recent books that I’ve read and loved.

THE THREE BILLY GOATS FLUFF, by Rachael Mortimer, illustrated by Liz Pichon (picture book)
Opening line: “Trip-trap. Trip-trap. How was he supposed to sleep?” The story plays on the well-know tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. The problem: Mr. Troll can’t sleep with the goat children trip-trapping across his bridge all the time. Kids will love how the goats end up solving the problem and make a friend in the process. Illustrations are big and colorful, adding to the experience. Scholastic 2010

DOUG UNPLUGS ON THE FARM, by Dan Yaccarino (picture book)
Opening line: “This is Doug. He’s a robot.” On the way to visit a farm, Doug’s parents plug him in so he can learn all about farm things. But when Doug gets un-plugged, he learns about a farm first hand, and picks up some things that you just can’t get any other way. Alfred A. Knopf 2014

BIG BAD WOLVES AT SCHOOL, by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Brad Sneed (picture book)
Opening line: “Rufus was a young wolf who spent his days turning over rocks, rolling in the grass, and running like the wind.” Rufus’ parents send him to the Big Bad Wolf Academy to learn more about being wolf-like. He is not exactly the best student. In the end he saves the day just by being himself. Simon & Schuster 2007

ONE THOUSAND TRACINGS, HEALING THE WOUNDS OF WORLD WAR II, by Lita Judge (picture book)
Opening lines: “When I was three, Papa left home to join the war. When I was six, the war was over.” Written in a lovely poetic voice, this follows the true story of how one family helped to ease the suffering of many Europeans following World War II. Double spreads are captioned with titles and dates. This story is a picture of how seemingly small efforts make big differences. Hyperion Books for Children 2007

TOP SECRET FILES: THE CIVIL WAR, by Stephanie Bearce (middle grade)
Opening line, chapter 1: “Railroad baron Samuel Felton knew a terrible secret—one that could change the course of history.” If you think you don’t like history, this book will change your mind! No computers in the 1800’s? No phones? No problem! Find out how men, women, slaves and even young boys worked together for a cause that they believed in. Readers will be caught up by these true stories about people, and events that happened in the Civil War. Then they can try out their own spy skills with the activities provided throughout the book. Prufrock Press 2014

Tag, you’re it, Sue B. Edwards!

Tag, you're it, Margo Dill!

Tag, you're it, Joyce Ragland!

Ok, blog friends. I tag you! February is Valentine’s Day, but the love doesn’t have to stop there. So hop on, and share some of your favorite books!

Poetry: Puns and Plans

January 28, 2015

Tags: writing poetry collections for children, poetry collections


There are so many ways to procrastinate! My brother sent me an internet post on Punography yesterday. I pulled out a few that might be related to reading or writing.

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down.

Broken pencils are pointless.

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary?
A thesaurus

I love these, but I can’t let it keep me from writing, and being creative myself. I’ve been working on a Halloween poetry collection. I started it ages ago, and really want to get it to the place where I would be happy seeing my name on the book’s cover. That means that I’m happy with each and every poem in the book. Here’s my present day plan.

Plan: Have a theme that connects the poems in my book to each other.
Pulling it off: Identify my theme—does it work? Will readers ‘get’ it? Or do my poems seem random? How would I identify my theme on paper, in one or two sentences?

I look at the list of poems that I have so far and try to see how it will flow, from beginning to end. I want to make it start on Halloween, just before trick-or-treating begins, and end when it’s all over at the end of the night. I think I’ve got that, but I’ll be running it past my critique groups to see if they see the same way that I do.

Plan: Have a consistent tone in all of the poems in my collection.
Pulling it off: Re-read my collection, from beginning to end. Do the poems all have the same tone? Are they light or serious? I want them to be lively and fun—not too spooky, or dark.

After doing this I found that a few of my poems were longer, and seemed ‘older’, or not as much fun as the others. So I took those out. That meant that I would have to replace those with others! More work! But definitely worth the effort.

Plan: I want to have three more poems finished before sending this manuscript out again. (Yes, I did send it out a few times already, thinking it was ready. After the rejections, and with some feedback, I can see that I was wrong about that).
Pulling it off: I’m a list person. So I made lists. (I even made a list of my lists!)

List 1: I made a list of things related to Halloween, including characters and anything about trick-or-treating or spooky things. This is my Idea List.

List 2: I listed my finished poems, putting the character or topic of each poem along side of it. This way I know what I’ve already touched on, and can eliminate things from my first list.

I chose a topic for my new poem (using my lists) and thought about what kind of rhythm would work best for that topic. I get so many songs and poems running through my head when I’m doing this! I’ll be glad when I’m finished so I can sleep at night.

Doing the writing—this is the hardest part, of course, because I want the rhyme and rhythm to work so well that you won’t really think about it when reading the poem. So I make lists—of rhyming words, of words that mean the same thing but are more fun to say, of different ways to end my poem—I want the last line or two to have a ‘punch’ so that you’ll remember it.

So I have been busily writing Halloween poems, in January. Some are good, some not so good. The puns in Punography inspire me, because I love the play on words. I hope they made you smile—and inspired you, too! Now go and write!

Looking Ahead in 2015!

January 2, 2015

Tags: new year's resolutions, how to keep your resolutions


Here it is, already the 2nd day of the new year! I have my my never-ending list of things-to-do in front of me. Mostly it’s a continuation from 2014. I made some mental new year’s resolutions, but now I really need to get them down on paper! It’s always more permanent when you write it down. So, here goes.

Resolution—Read more for pleasure: one adult book and one children’s book each month. I get so caught up in ‘getting things done’ sometimes that I don’t take the time to read just because I love to read! And also as a writer, this is so important. I’m on top of that one already. I finished one of my new books last night, a mystery/suspense. And I have the next ones on the lamp table, ready to pick up and start reading.

Resolution—Write one hour a day (on manuscripts), five days a week. Ok, this doesn’t sound like much, but it gets me into the chair. And I know that once I sit down to write I’ll be there much longer than one hour. Plus, on those days when my schedule is determined by things other than myself, I’ll figure out a way to take at least an hour to work on my writing—eg: take it with me, or stay up an hour later.

Resolution—Revise current manuscripts: complete one every 2 months. Complete! Finished! Ready to send out.

Resolution—Work on new manuscripts: one completed draft every 2 months. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Resolution—Follow up on manuscripts that are out to editors and agents more consistently. The newest trend at publishing houses seems to be ‘if you don’t hear from us in three months, assume we are not interested.’ However, if I’ve met someone at a conference who accepts submissions from attendees, I would expect to hear from them. I have two submissions from conferences that I need to follow up on, now. My resolution is to do that within the next week. As for other submissions, my plan is to follow up with a letter after 3 to 4 months.

Resolution—Be a more consistent blogger: twice a month, and more often if I can. I‘d love to do this every week, but I really think I can do it 2 times a month. Anything over that will be a bonus.

Resolution—Learn how to tweet! I signed up for an account on twitter long ago, but never learned how to tweet, re-tweet, or what a hashtag is! If I don’t get it before then, I’ve signed up for a program through Missouri SCBWI on Marketing and Social Media in March.

This is my plan, for my writing, in 2015. I made a separate plan, on how to keep my resolutions.
1—I try to make resolutions that I really think I can keep.
2—I try to make my resolutions specific. For example, read two books a month, instead of read every month. Revise ‘one manuscript every two months,’ instead of just ‘revise my manuscripts.’
3—I plan to re-evaluate my resolutions from time to time, probably every three months. Have I set them high enough? Too high?

Ok, my new year’s resolutions are ‘on paper’ so there’s no backing down now! Take the plunge, and get yours written down, too, before January slips away!

Looking Back at 2014

December 31, 2014

Tags: Highlights Let's Grow series

A DAY AT THE ZOO Board Book
Looking Back…

Today is the last day of the year—2014. Looking back, it was a pretty good year as far as writing goes.

Early in the year I had two board books accepted by Highlights for their new Let’s Grow series! The Let’s Grow series is developed by the creators of Highlights High Five magazine for preschoolers and Highlights Hello magazine for babies and toddlers. My books, A DAY AT THE ZOO and WHEELS GO ‘ROUND are board books written in verse for the 0 to 2 age group. You can click the link here to find out more about the Highlights Let’s Grow subscription.

This was another ‘first’ for me as a children’s writer. A DAY AT THE ZOO and WHEELS GO ‘ROUND will be my first board books published, and also my first books written in verse. It was also my first work-for-hire. I worked with a consulting editor for Highlights, who had contacted me late the year before after reading my poems for babies in my picture book FROM DAWN TO DREAMS, POEMS FOR BUSY BABIES, published by Candlewick.

Working on these books was pretty much my main writing focus the first four months of the year. It reinforced my belief that, Yes! I can write a story for young ‘readers’ in 28 lines or less! And Yes! I can re-write to make my rhyme perfect, no matter how impossible that seems!

Writing poetry with good rhyme and rhythm takes a lot of effort. And children deserve that effort. There were times that I wondered if I would ever come up with just the right word! When that happens, you can do one of three things—

You can give up and quit.

You can ‘settle’ for less than perfect.

Or you can keep trying until you get it just right. Because you believe you can do it, and maybe because someone else believes in you, too.

In March I had another writing first. The education editor at Scholastic Canada wrote to me asking permission to use one of my poems in a poetry collection for grade 3 students. My poem Bandit, from NAME THAT DOG, will be included in that collection, my first poem to be included in an anthology!

That month I also attended a local Missouri SCBWI program on the Common Core and School Visits.

In April I attended the Indiana SCBWI Spring conference and met an editor from FSG who requested that I submit my non-fiction/poetry manuscript, WHAT GREAT TEETH YOU HAVE. Still waiting…

My favorite thing to do as an author is to talk to kids about books and writing, and to talk with the kids who read my books! I spoke to second grade students at Lakeview Elementary school in April, and visited my granddaughter’s Kindergarten class at Providence Christian Academy to read and talk about books. I also joined other Missouri SCBWI children’s authors and illustrators at the MASL (Missouri Association of School Librarians) convention to sign copies of our books.

In May I did a workshop on writing poetry for students in grades 5 to 8 at the Ozark Writing Project (OWP) Youth Conference in Springfield, MO. I saw so much talent in those students!

In June I gave a workshop on writing picture books for the Saturday Writers in St. Peters, MO, and met more great writers.

In September I attended the Missouri SCBWI Fall conference where I helped wherever I was needed. It was a great conference, perfect especially for those of us who write picture books. I was thrilled to present the certificates to those Missouri PAL (published and listed) authors who had books published in 2014. And led a great critique group with picture book writers and illustrators, and learned from them as well.

I submitted TOAD IN THE ROAD, a picture book in verse, to an agent that I met at the conference who was interested in my work. Still waiting…

In October I met author Mac Barnett and illustrator Jon Klassen at the Spencer Library branch in St. Charles where they gave a presentation to patrons.

November brought the Local Author Night to the Middendorf-Kredell (MK) Library here in O’Fallon where I met up with a friend, and schmoozed with friends who were signing their books. I met some other authors there as well.

December was a big month for Scholastic Book Fair sales. I met teachers, librarians, parents and young readers at book fairs in Columbia, Fenton and St. Charles in Missouri and autographed copies of my picture book, NAME THAT DOG, which is carried by the Scholastic Book Club and Book Fairs.

Writing for children is a lot of things. It’s writing, learning as we go, and sharing what we’ve learned along the way. It takes a lot of patience, and perseverance.

Yes, 2014 was a good year for ‘writing.’ Now it’s time to look ahead to 2015. Happy New Year, Happy Reading and Writing, to all of you!

Christmas Carols--"Thank God for Kids"

December 22, 2014

Tags: Christmas, Christmas carols


I've got my Christmas cd's out and even some old Christmas tapes, and the radio station in our car is tuned in to the Christmas channel. I stopped to think when I heard Kenny Chesney sing “Thank God for Kids,” which was originally done by the Oak Ridge Boys. There are many Christmas songs that wouldn’t have been written if it weren’t for kids.

See if you can guess the names of the following Christmas songs.

1—a song that might inspire a child to be good before Christmas.
2—a song about a chilly winter creation who magically comes to life
3—a song about a child who asks for something that will help him wish everyone a Merry Christmas
4—a song about a child who was naughty all year
5—a song about a baby born in an unusual crib in a barn
6—a song about a boy who gives the Baby Jesus the gift of music
7—a song about the leader of Santa’s team
8—a song about someone who took over when the leader of Santa’s team was sick (think country music)
9—a song about a magical place filled with what children hope to get on Christmas morning
10—a song about a child whispering to Santa what he and his friends want for Christmas

There are Christmas stories all around us at this time of year. If you celebrate the season in a different way, similar inspiration is sure to surround you.

Ok, here are the answers to the songs listed above:

1—Santa Claus is Coming to Town
2—Frosty the Snowman
3—All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth
4—I’m Getting Nothin’ For Christmas
5—Away in a Manger
6—Little Drummer Boy
7—Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
8—Leroy the Redneck Reindeer
9—Toyland
10—Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Happy Holidays to all who celebrate the season!

And a very Merry Christmas to all, from my blog to your home!

Scholastic Book Signings

December 21, 2014

Tags: Scholastic Book Fairs, Name That Dog



A big Thank You goes out to Scholastic Book Fair coordinators Lisa Clouse, Holly Phillips and Jessica Kunderman for inviting me to autograph copies of NAME THAT DOG! at their Scholastic Book Fair sales in Fenton, St. Charles, and Columbia in Missouri this month! I loved meeting and talking to all those who came in to browse and purchase books. Thank you for all the planning and for showcasing my picture book, NAME THAT DOG! NAME THAT DOG! is originally published by Dial Books for Young Readers, and is also sold by Scholastic Book Clubs and Book Fairs.

Little Lamb Finds Christmas—Interview with children's author Cathy Gilmore

December 15, 2014

Tags: Christmas picture books, Little Lamb's Christmas, Cathy Gilmore, Ligouri Publications


I love discovering new holiday picture books, and Little Lamb Finds Christmas is a wonderful choice for young children this Christmas.

Today I’d like to welcome my friend and children’s author, Cathy Gilmore to my blog. Cathy’s first picture book, Easter Bunny's Amazing Day, was co-authored with her sister, Carol Benoit and was self-published. It was later picked up and published by Ligouri Publications. Her newest picture book, Little Lamb Finds Christmas, was released by Ligouri Publications this year, just in time for Christmas!

Thank you so much for joining us here today, Cathy.

Can you tell us where you got the idea for Little Lamb Finds Christmas?

Little Lamb Finds Christmas was born out of a desire I have to communicate rich spiritual truths to young children and to the child in the heart of readers of any age. This grew from my experience as a catechist with the Montessori based children's faith formation program called, Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. In CGS, children discover the essence of Christian faith in a very personal way. Ideas like: God loves what is little and the Good Shepherd knows my name and I belong to Him, are shared in CGS through hands-on materials and deep reflection.

Setting up a CGS program is a large labor of love and typically only 12-15 children are in a class at a time. I wanted so many more children to know Jesus in that kind of way and wondered, "Could a picture book be the hands-on material that a child could reflect with at home?" In Little Lamb Finds Christmas, I had an opportunity to weave the love of the Good Shepherd, the drama of the Peaceable Kingdom and the joy of Christmas together in a wonderful holiday parable.

In Little Lamb Finds Christmas, Lemi, the lamb who always gets lost, makes his way to the Bethlehem stable on Christmas Eve and finds more than the Christ Child there. A lion comes to bow at the manger and Lemi discovers that with the special little child, even a lion and lamb can be friends. Lemi's story teaches children that Jesus is our forever shepherd and king who brings peace in our hearts and among us all.

The illustrations are so lovely! Did you work with the illustrator at all?

When my publisher, Liguori Publications, entered into a contract with me for the project, I asked if I could help seek out artist possibilities through my connections with SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) and they actually said, "Yes!" It’s very unusual for publishers to do that. I researched several SCBWI illustrators whose style I thought might be a good fit, and after further consideration (and a bit of cheer leading from me), Liguori chose Missouri artist, Kim Wilson. She has given the book an extraordinary blend of near photo realism within painterly warmth and beauty.

What is your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you revise a lot?

When I get an idea, I flesh it out, revise it numerous times and then I think it's wonderful and done. I take what I consider a completed manuscript to my writing critique group (that I affectionately call the "shredder") and they rip it to pieces...in a very nice way. They use nice words and speak gently but the result sends me back to the drawing board for what is one of the best parts of the process. I sift though the critiques and determine what are the most valuable edits to make. Their input is supremely valuable and I believe keeps me humble and grounded.

What inspires you to write for children? What books inspired you as a child or as a writer?

As a child, my favorite book was, A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was inspired by, and found hope, pretending to be the little girl who found joy in the midst of suffering. Later, when I was a young mom, I hunted for the most beautiful and engaging stories to read to my daughters.

The one that seems to have influenced me the most as an author is the book, The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry and the BIG HUNGRY BEAR, by Don And Audrey Wood. The way the story is a conversation with the reader captivates me, and the humor inherent in it makes me smile even thinking about it. Now I see both of these earlier writers influencing my stories as my main characters engage the reader directly, while also helping the child pretend to be the little animal who has a special encounter with Jesus.

What encouragement did you get along the way to being published?

When I graduated from college over 25 years ago, I wanted to be a children's author—‘when I grew up’! But I was totally intimidated by the publishing process. Years later, when my husband changed careers and took a tremendous drop in salary, I was doing any job possible to earn extra money. My sister wanted to help me out, and she knew about my dream to be a published author. She had a story idea and asked me to help develop it into a book that we could publish as co-authors, together. So, Easter Bunny's Amazing Day, the story how a little bunny became the first Easter Bunny because of a loving encounter with Jesus on the first Easter, was published. Together we navigated the publishing process which was just as convoluted as I always feared. With the help and support on my sister, we not only released a successful story that sold about 10,000 copies in just 4 Easter selling cycles, but I began a career that I had dreamed of for decades.

Do you have an agent? How did you get your manuscript seen by an editor?

I do not have an agent. I was fortunate to do some networking at an educator convention and had an opportunity for an acquisitions editor to see Easter Bunny's Amazing Day. That opened the door for Little Lamb Finds Christmas at Ligouri.

However, having successful titles does not guarantee a permanent home with a publisher. Liguori has since changed their publishing emphasis and so my other titles are now "not a good fit" there. So I am submitting my other animal stories about Jesus, that I hope will be published as a series, to other Christian publishers.

What are you working on now, Cathy?

My other picture book projects include a dove that learns to fly on Pentecost, a Sardine named Sal who talks to Jesus as he walks on the water, a caterpillar who befriends Jesus as a child, and more. I also have a series of young adult novels that are percolating in my head but they have a while yet to cook.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers who want to write for the children's religious market?

Don't be afraid to use your spiritual imagination! So much of the children's religious market is populated by re-tellings of Bible and saint stories. Our spiritual life is far richer and deeper. Our world desperately needs to know the love of a God to whom we matter deeply and personally. Have the courage to tell imaginative stories that connect children with HIM! And then be patient and persistent as the publishers get the courage to go beyond standard paradigms too.

Also, realize that publishers in the religious market typically have a limited ability to provide marketing support. It is up to you to engage in the marketing process and to apply as much creativity to the promotion of your book as you put into the writing of it. For example, you can take a look at my website. Everything that is presented there I created myself. I learned how to create the website, how to produce blogs, how to create each classroom/family extension activity and how to upload audio and video. Even with the wonderful advertising and promotional staff at Liguori working very hard, I made the arrangements for many of the interviews and events posted there myself. Creating the story and selling it to a publisher is only the start of the author's work. And as an inspirational author, I'm happy to do it. I feel honored to be part of the process of feeding souls, old and young, with the love of God in the pages of a picture book.

My greatest JOY this Christmas is being able to share my lamb, whose story of Christmas Peace seems so timely this year, with children in Ferguson, MO. Letting them know that as we come closer to Jesus, His love brings us closer to each other, and that with baby Jesus even lions and lambs can be friends. This is why I'm an author, and why I thank God for the privilege of being one.

Thank you for taking the time to give us some insight into your writing life and your books, Cathy!

Born and raised in St Louis, Cathy currently lives in Ellisville MO. She and her husband have three children.

You can find out more about Cathy and her books on her author website.

Or visit the Ligouri website to find her books.

Little Lamb Finds Christmas, illustrated by Kim Wilson
ISBN: 9780764824890

Easter Bunny's Amazing Day, co-authored with Carol Benoist, illustrated by Jonathan Sundy
ISBN: 9780764823534

Margo Dill, Picture Book Author Extraordinaire!

December 5, 2014

Tags: Margo Dill, author interview, Maggie Mae Detective Extraordinaire, picture books


I’d like to welcome my friend and children’s author, Margo Dill, to my blog today. She is the author of picture books (pb) as well as books for middle grade readers (MG) and young adults (YA). Her picture book—MAGGIE MAE, DETECTIVE EXTRAORDINAIRE—The Case of the Missing Cookies, was released earlier this year by Guardian Angel Publishing. Inc

Besides writing for children, Margo is a mother, and a columnist, contributing editor, and instructor for WOW! Women On Writing. She writes weekly book reviews and articles for a local newspaper, teaches an on-line class about writing for children, has her own freelance editing business at Editor 911, is an editor of MG and YA books at High Hill Press, maintains an author blog, and is the webmaster for Missouri SCBWI—Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators.

I’m so glad to have you here on my blog today, Margo!

MAGGIE MAE, DETECTIVE EXTRAORDINAIRE, is your first picture book. Can you tell us a little bit about your book, and how you came to write it?

Margo: It’s based on a true story about my grandma baking cookies one day, and some disappeared. She blamed my grandpa, but he claimed he didn’t do it. So there was a real life mystery there. It turns out that her beagle, Toby, was to blame. I wanted to write a book about this story because I thought it was really cute. I also loved mysteries (Trixie Belden books) when I was younger and wanted to be a detective—loved to play Charlie’s Angels with my friends. So, I combined my love of my grandma’s story with my love for mysteries and wrote Maggie Mae.

What can you tell us about your path to being published in children’s books? What encouragement helped you along your way?

I listened to the industry experts about my manuscripts when I got feedback from them. For example, with my first book, Finding My Place, I went to a conference, and I volunteered to be a speaker shepherd. I was able to pick up a literary agent from the airport and take her to dinner. When the weekend was over, she invited me to send in my manuscript, which I did, and she offered me written feedback—a whole letter’s worth. She said my history was in the way of my characterization, and she was right. So I went back and revised. Now it’s a published book. I think going to conferences and meeting professionals really helps your career along and gives you opportunities you would not have from your living room.

You write picture books as well as books for MG and YA readers. Is there one genre that you enjoy writing best?

Margo: NO! That’s why I’m all over the place. I currently have a middle-grade and picture book that are almost done, and I’ve been working on a young adult for NaNoWriMo, which is not done, but I have a big chunk of it down on paper finally.

When you have an idea for a book, how do you go about writing it? Do you use an outline? Is there any research involved? Is your process different with different genres?

Margo: I always have an idea and some notes—they are not an outline or a full character sketch, but some ideas that I want to put in the novel or picture book and some details about the character. Then I start writing. I try to get a draft down without editing myself too much. Then I go back and revise, revise, revise. This seems to be the part I get stuck on—when is it done and ready to send out? My critique group is currently using the Snowflake Method (Google it and you’ll find it) quite a bit for planning a novel. We are hoping by planning more than we ever have before that when it comes to the revision process, it won’t be quite so time-consuming.

What draws you to write for children?

Margo: I think it was my love for teaching kids—I used to teach elementary school and preschool. I also loved to read when I was a kid and would follow certain authors, like Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, until I read all of their books. Now I have a daughter and stepson, so I am around a lot of children’s books and reading picture books every day. I just think that’s what I’m into right now, and it’s what comes out when I sit down and write.

What other books or authors do you feel have influenced your writing?

Besides the ones I’ve already mentioned here, I tend to like funny picture books and ones that have a twist at the end. So, I love Mo Willems’s pigeon books, Officer Buckle and Gloria or Amelia Bedelia books. As for novels in the historical fiction area, I love Little House on the Prairie, and for young adult, I recently read The Fault in our Stars, and think John Green is an amazing author.

What kind of networking do you do as an author, and how much time to you devote to that?

Too much! No, just kidding. I love networking, especially on social media, but you can really get sucked in. The same is true if you wind up going to too many conferences or serving on too many writing group boards. When I’m asked to volunteer or go to an event, I look at my goals as a writer to see if this request fits in the goals. If it does and I can manage it along with being a parent, then I do it. If not, then I turn it down. As for social media, I try to do it mostly on my phone, like while in waiting rooms, in bed at night when putting my daughter to sleep, etc. Multitasking is the key!

How does your work as an editor help you in your own writing?

I think instead of my work as an editor helping me, it’s more being a member of my critique group. When I am writing something, I can hear their voices saying, “No, you need to do this. . .” I do think that being an editor helps because you get an eye for mistakes and also you read a lot of different writing and genres. So you develop a sense for voice that you might not have if you didn’t read so much.

Can you tell us a little bit about your editing service, Editor 911?

I mostly edit people’s novels or memoirs for content consistency, such as characterization, tension, plot points, setting details, etc. I also do some proofreading work for people who want to self-publish and need a proofreader before they send it to the publisher.

You must be a very organized person, Margo! How do you balance writing, editing, teaching, volunteering for SCBWI and family life?

I don’t sleep much! I prioritize what needs to be done, and I schedule my writing time, like I would schedule anything else. I ask for help. If I have a deadline or project, I ask my parents to babysit. I tell my husband, and we work out when I can go and work at Starbucks to get more done.

What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given about writing?

Don’t give up. Continue to improve your craft and to learn about publishing, and you will be successful!

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

The same as above. It’s not an easy profession, but it is rewarding. So, don’t give up!

Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your writing life today, Margo. You can find out more about Margo and her books on her website

Margo is currently having a holiday sale on all three books! She includes some goodies, gift wraps her books, and will personalize them for the kiddos in your life. Check that out here! Any purchase of one of her books enters you into a drawing to win a $10 Amazon gift card. Drawing on December 18, 2014.

MAGGIE MAE, DETECTIVE EXTRAORDINAIRE, ISBN: 9 781616 335267 51095
Amazon link

Local Author Night at the Library

December 3, 2014

Tags: St. Charles County public library, Local Author Night, Middendorf-Kredell branch library

Local Author, Margo Dill and Sharon

The St. Charles Library system sponsors ‘Meet the Author’ events with individual authors throughout the year. They may be authors from out of the area, or authors from around St. Louis. But every November our local library, the Middendorf-Kredell branch in O’Fallon, Missouri, hosts a Local Author Night where patrons can meet the authors from their own neighborhood.

This year 60 authors of books of all genres, from children’s books to books for adults, gathered throughout the library to showcase and autograph their books. It was a wonderful opportunity for both authors and library patrons.

This time I attended as a patron rather than as an author. I came with my friend Sharon, who writes and also illustrates books for children. Some of the authors signing books were new to me, and others were friends. I met the author of a series of mystery novels with a medical background, which caught my interest since my background is in nursing. I also met a couple authors of picture books.

I connected with an old friend that I hadn’t seen for many years. I had met Louis Launer long ago at a writers’ retreat in Illinois, when I still lived in Indiana. He was signing copies of his new Young Adult mystery novel, Rurals and Townies.

I also spent some time talking with children’s author, Margo Dill, whose picture book Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire and the Case of the Missing Cookies was recently released by Guardian Angel Publishing. Margo and I met just after I moved here from Indiana to Missouri.

Whether you came to browse, to purchase an autographed book for yourself or as a gift, or just to schmmoze with the authors, it was a good way to spend an evening. I hope to see you there next year!