Please contact me if you would like me to speak at your school, or autograph books at your Scholastic Book Fair.

Recent Author Visits


With Nancy Polette, Writing for Children instructor, October 1, 2015

Picture Book Intensive, SCBWI conference September 2015, Soaring to New Heights

Author visit, with Author and Instructor (Writing for Children), Nancy Polette May 2015

Author visit at Troy Buchannan HS March 2015

Scholastic Book Fair, St. Charles, Missouri December 2014

Scholastic Book Fair, Fenton, Missouri December 2014

Scholastic Book Fair, Columbia, Missouri December 2014

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

More on Best Picture Books of 2015

January 31, 2016

Tags: best picture books 2015

Here are my thoughts on just a few more of the picture books published in 2015 that I read and loved—and a couple from other years that were new to me. I hope you enjoy them as well!

TWO IS ENOUGH by Janna Matthies, illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Running Press Kids, 2015

Written in rhyme, TWO IS ENOUGH is a wonderful tribute to single parents. Illustrations show different types of families of two doing everyday things together. I like the variety of things that these families do together, and I like that the types of families shown are varied as well.

MOTHER BRUCE by Ryan T. Higgins, author and illustrator
Hyperion, 2015

Bruce is a grumpy old bear who doesn’t like anything—except eggs. He has lots of fancy recipes that he uses to cook the eggs that he takes from the birds in the forest. Then one day four goose eggs and a fizzled out fire change everything. What’s a bear with mistaken identity to do? Fun twist at the end, but you’ll have to read it yourself! Wonderful illustrations that add to the story and the fun.

LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD by Tara Lazar, illustrated by Troy Cummings
Random House, 2015

Little Red loves to ice skate. She swizzles and twizzles across the ice. She wants to enter the skating competition to win a pair of brand-new skates, but she needs a partner. She goes to the house of the three little pigs and ends up with the most unlikely partner ever! Read the story to see if Little Red and the Big Bad Wolf will finish the race and win the shiny new skates. Great story with a nursery rhyme theme and fun illustrations (especially if you’ve ever loved to ice skate!).

SWEEP UP THE SUN by Helen Frost, photos by illustrator/photographer Rick Lieder
Candlewick, 2015

SWEEP UP THE SUN invites readers to spread their wings and 'soar.' Author Helen Frost, well known for her award-winning YA books of poetry, shows her versatility with this poem for young readers. Beautiful photographs add to the reader's experience, and added back matter gives information about the birds in the book.

HOW TO BECOME A PERFECT PRINCESS IN FIVE DAYS by Pierrette Dube, illustrated by Luc Melanson
Windmill Books, 2010

It was not in Princess Stringbean’s nature to walk with dainty steps or keep her hair and her dresses looking neat and perfect. The moment her feet hit the dirt, she's off and running! What else can a royal mother do but send her daughter to Perfect Princess Academy. When the class is over, Princess Stringbean receives a full refund from the academy instead of a diploma, but she manages to bring home a trophy that make her mother proud. A nice twist on a ‘princess’ story that shows that everyone, even a princess, has their own special talents.

NEW OLD SHOES by Charlotte Blessing, illustrated by Gary R. Phillips
Pleasant St. Press, 2009

Follow the story to see how a pair of sneakers goes from new shoes to old shoes, and where they travel along the way. They’ve ‘walked, kicked and played,’ but where will they end up next? I like how the story shows that things can still be something of value to another person, even when they are no longer new. Beautiful, colorful illustrations add to the story.

I'm looking forward to all of the new picture books to come in 2016!

Thoughts on Some of the 2016 Award-Winning Picture Books

January 27, 2016

Tags: 2016 Caledcott and Newberry books


A Shout-Out to all of the 2016 award-winning children’s books! Congratulations to the authors and illustrators of those books as well as the picture books that appear on lists of best children’s books for 2015. Click here for a more complete list of awards for children’s books.

What exciting news that this year a picture book text won the Newberry Award. I believe it was well deserved. I rode the city bus quite often as a child, and can relate to some parts of the story myself.

Below are my thoughts on just a few of the award-winning picture books—I’m still reading! I hope it will make you run out to the library or local bookstore to read them for yourselves!

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET by Matt De La Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin, 2015

Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal
A 2016 Caldecott Honor Book
A 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book
A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2015
A Wall Street Journal Best Children's Book of 2015

I once heard Matt De La Pena speak at a conference, and I was inspired by his story. Now I’m equally inspired by his picture book, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET.

When CJ and his nana leave church on Sunday morning they take the bus to the last stop on Market Street. CJ is feeling sorry for himself, and sees only what he doesn’t have. But when he begins to ‘see’ with more than just his eyes, he finds the real beauty in the people around him. I love how the illustrations add detail which adds to the overall experience.

Told with beautiful, poetic language, this is a wonderful story that shows that you don’t have to have a lot yourself to be able to help others, and that if you look around, you can find ‘beautiful where you never even thought to look.’

FINDING WINNIE, The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Balckall
Little, Brown and Company, 2015

#1 New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the 2016 Caldecott Medal

Maybe it was the long title, eleven words in all, but for some reason I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading the text of this book. So I put it at the bottom of my pile. All of that changed when I started reading. I discovered that I’d saved one of the best for last.

FINDING WINNIE begins with the story of Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian who purchases a bear cub from a trapper on his way to England during World War I. Winnipeg, or Winnie as she was called, traveled to England with the soldiers and was put in a zoo when they left to fight in the war. The story of Harry and Winnie stops here, but as the narrator says to her young son, “Sometimes you have to let one story end so the next one can begin.”

The second part of the story begins with a real boy named Christopher Robin. The friendship between Christopher Robin and Winnie was the inspiration for the books about Winnie the Pooh, written by Christopher Robin’s father, Alan Alexander Milne.

What makes this book even more special is that the story is told to Harry Colebourn’s great-great-grandson by his mother. Wonderful illustrations add detail to the story, and include a family tree and an album with photos of Winnie with Harry and the soldiers. This is a wonderful read for all.

DON’T THROW IT TO MO! by David A. Adler, illustrated by Sam Ricks
Penguin Young Readers, 2015

Winner of the 2016 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Mo is the youngest player on the Robins football team. He’s not the biggest or the fastest player on the team, but his passion for the game is an inspiration. Coach has a plan, but will it work? This is a great book for beginning readers with a good story, colorful illustrations and a great ‘take-away’ for readers at the end.

TROMBONE SHORTY by Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2015

2016 Caldecott Honor Book
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Award

TROMBONE SHORTY is the story of Troy Andrews, noted musician and trombone player from the Treme neighborhood in New Orleans. The language and use of dialect, along with the rhythm of the text and beautiful illustrations, puts you into the story. As you read you can ‘feel’ the influence of music in the main character’s life as you follow him from a young boy with the broken trombone twice his size, to Grammy nominated musician and inspiration to all young musicians. In the author’s words, “I’m living proof that as long as you work hard, you can make your dreams take flight.”

I want to linger just a bit on the last quote from Trombone Shorty, in particular the part that says “…as long as you work hard, you can make your dreams take flight.”

Success is sweet, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Anything that is done well takes time, and hard work. Like musicians, authors and illustrators spend many years learning the basics of their craft. And it's definitely worth the journey. Authors put in many hours finding just the right words that will connect with the reader and their emotions. Illustrators do the same, making their artwork a perfect fit for the text, then adding their own 'layer.' Having one of your picture books published and knowing that kids enjoy it is its own reward! Having your work recognized as one of the best is the icing on the cake.

Once again, my sincere congratulations to all!

Happy New Year’s Resolutions!

January 2, 2016

Tags: New Year's Resolutions


Happy New Year—2016! Once again I’m thinking of resolutions that will improve my writing life, and my life in general. It’s nice when your resolutions actually push you to do better, and when you see the difference it makes when you follow them. It’s very encouraging, and validating.

Every year I find myself repeating past resolutions. Write more, read more, eat less…. When you think about it, some things can always be improved upon. No matter how much effort I put into my writing last year, I can always improve on that somehow this year. The same goes with other areas of my life.

I read friend and author Margo Dill’s blog post last week. She talked about focusing on ‘one-word for 2016’ in place of making New Year’s resolutions. The idea came from the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Jimmy Page, and Dan Britton. The way that it works is that you choose ONE WORD as a theme for your life for ONE YEAR and live your life focused on that one word.

If I were to choose one word, it might be the same as Margo’s—Organization. But I am a list-maker! So under ‘organization’ I would probably list things like—

Organize my day to include reading (sub-headings: for pleasure, for learning), writing, social media, family, friends, prayer, meals, walking, etc.

Organize my files so that I can find what I’m looking for!

Organize my calendar—so I know what I’m doing!

Organize my website, so other people know what I’m doing.
And so on, and so on…

Whichever way works best for you, I hope that you find more time for those things in your life that are important to you, and that you love to do. I hope that you discover what is important to you in your life, and that you find ways to fit those things into your days. And I wish you many blessings this year!

I’ve seen 2016 referred to as ‘Sweet 16.’ Wishing you all 'Sweet Success' in this new year!

You can find information and resources about creating your own one word on this website: http://getoneword.com

Creating Memorable Christmas Characters

December 17, 2015

Tags: Christmas characters


December has been a great beginning to the Christmas season for us. Seeing the Christmas lights in Branson, a couple of familiar holiday stories, then dinner and a Christmas show kicked it off. Following that were two wonderful holiday meetings with writers. And seeing the grandkids in their school Christmas programs topped it all off!

There’s nothing like Christmas lights and the singing of carols to get you in a happy holiday spirit. Top that with the smell of cookies from the oven, the taste of hot chocolate, a cozy blanket throw and a holiday movie and you’ve got all the five senses covered! Ok, I’m back to thinking like a writer again.

I’m writing in between all of these Christmas ‘sens-ations’ because I know that if I stop for very long, it will be so much harder when I come back to it. (And because I’ve got the edits for some revisions of TOAD that I want to keep up with, too).

There are so many Christmas stories that we love to read or watch on video or TV year after year! I think it’s the characters that really make the stories so memorable. Here are a few to think about.

A song that the junior high school band played reminded me of this one. You might recognize the following words, taken randomly, from a well known Christmas song—

…you’re as cuddly as a cactus
…your brain is full of spiders
…you’re a nasty, wasty skunk
…your heart is full of unwashed socks
and so on, from “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”

Wow, what a guy! What great similes and metaphors.

Then there’s the familiar story of someone who’s left out because they’re different, and ends up saving the day—
who else, but “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer!”

Character drives the story. Rudolph is rather quiet, and it takes Santa to recognize his importance. But when you change your character, the story changes, too! When Rudolph is sick on Christmas Eve, he calls on his cousin Leroy to cover for him. Leroy shows up driving his pick-up truck and wearing a John Deere tractor hat.

Leroy is a more confident character. It’s his actions and appearance that show us his character. At the start, the other reindeer aren’t too sure about a reindeer who goes ‘two-stepping across the sky,’ and makes ‘jingle bells with a rebel yell.’ But he soon has them all ‘scootin’ a hoof on every single roof, by the light of a neon moon.’ It’s “Leroy the Red-Neck Reindeer!”

Think about “The Night Before Christmas,” and its many variations. Or “Snowmen at Night” and “Snowmen at Christmas.” Put the characters in a different setting and you have a new story.

Narrow in on a specific Christmas character and you might have come up with “Drummer Boy” (by Loren Long). Or focus on the animals in the barn instead of people on the first Christmas night and you might have written “The Animals’ Christmas Eve,” the Little Golden Book, by Gale Wiersum.

In “It’s a Wonderful Life” it’s the main character, George, who changes at the end of the story when Clarence, his guardian angel, helps him to see the impact that he made on many lives. The movie was based on the short story, “The Greatest Gift,” written by Philip VanDoren Stern in 1939. Unable to find a publisher, Stern sent his 21-page booklet to friends at Christmas in 1943. It was published in Readers’ Digest and Good Housekeeping magazines, and Stern privately published the story in 1945, when it came to the attention of producer David Hempstead. The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” came out in 1946 and became one of the 100 best American films ever made.

Wishing you all wonderful Christmas characters, and a wonderful season of celebrating the holidays!

Thanksgiving Blessings—On Family, Friends and Writing

November 25, 2015

Tags: Schwartz & Wade, Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency, SCBWI, Highlights Let's Grow book club


This year, as always, I’m most thankful for my family—my husband, my kids and extended family, too. I’m also thankful for friends—friends through the years of growing up (past and present), friends I’ve met through writing and through church. Some years I have other special things to be thankful for, and this is one of them.

Here are some special moments in my writing journey to be thankful for this year.

I’m very excited today to share my news that my picture book TOAD IN THE ROAD will be published by Schwartz & Wade (a division of Random House)! I’ve been sitting on this news for awhile, just waiting to be sure that it wasn’t going to ‘go away!’ You won’t see the book in bookstores for a couple of years yet, but it’s definitely coming! So I’m thankful for Anne Schwartz and for Anne Kelly at Schwartz & Wade who share my excitement and my vision for TOAD.

Last month I signed with agent Kirsten Hall of Catbird Agency! Kirsten is a children’s author, former editor of children’s books, as well as a picture book agent. We met at the Missouri SCBWI Fall conference at the end of September. After talking with her at the conference and later on the phone, I knew she would be a great agent for me, and we’re off to a good start! So I’m thankful for SCBWI, and for Kirsten, who has already been a blessing.

In October I talked about the SCBWI Work-in-Progress awards, and how TOAD IN THE ROAD won the award for picture book text—another thankful moment this year for my writing!

This year I have two board books that were published by Highlights for Children’s Let’s Grow book club for toddlers age 0 to 2 years. They are WHEELS GO ‘ROUND and A DAY AT THE ZOO. I’m thankful for editor Susan Hood who worked with me, and for Highlights for publishing my books—my first board books for children.

I’m also thankful for the author visits that I’ve had this year, visiting schools and events for children’s writers.

I want to add that these things did not happen without quite a bit of work and study over many years. In this year, I attended two small writing events and one major conference for children’s writers, one online conference and four webinars, and five local author events. I chose events that were for or by children’s writers, some where I would be able to submit my work to editors or agents following the event.

I participate in two critique groups every month with other children’s writers (unless I’m out of town). At these meetings we read each other’s manuscripts and give and receive valuable input on our writing and story. I also keep in touch with a group of writing friends from Indiana, and we sometimes critique each other’s manuscripts—and receive more valuable input. I also do volunteer work for Missouri SCBWI. So it’s very exciting when things come together and we have those great moments in writing!

And I’m thankful for those of you here, who read and share my thoughts on writing for children, and who share my good news. Thank you for visiting, and coming back! I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving Day, but mostly I hope you have lots to be thankful for.

Rhyming Picture Book Revolution!

November 15, 2015

Tags: Rhyming Picture Book Revolution, Angie Karcher, KidLitTV, Picture Book Month


Join the Rhyming Picture Book Revolution! If you’ve ever been told (or read) ‘Don’t write in rhyme,’ ‘Editors won’t look at rhyme,’ or ‘Rhyme doesn’t sell,’ read on!

My friend, Angie Karcher, started the rhyming picture book revolution in 2014 when she initiated RhyPiBoMo—Rhyming Picture Book Month in (of course!) April! RhyPiBoMo is a month long celebration of children’s poetry during poetry month with blog posts by well known children’s poets and others in the field of children’s poetry, poetry lessons and poetry-writing exercises.

This year is the debut of the Rhyming Picture Book Revolution conference, which will be held in New York City on December 4th through the 6th. On the evening of Friday, December 4th, the award for the Best Rhyming Picture Book of 2015 will be announced!

If you’re not able to attend the conference, you can opt to view a live recording of the conference, which includes the following sessions:

Session 1: Reject ~ What’s NOT working in RPB manuscripts.
Session 2: Revolt ~ The story and meter MUST be perfection!
Session 3: Rules ~ Poetic techniques and lyrical language
Session 4: Rewards ~ The heart of the story brings them back!

As a perk, following the conference, you will be invited to submit your own manuscripts to Editor Justin Chanda, Editor Rebecca Davis, Agent Kendra Marcus and Agent Jodell Sadler. don't miss the RPB Revolution auction page with links to autographed books and items donated by authors, illustrators, agents and editors, including autographed books, a critique or a phone session with an agent!

Check out the KidLitTV website for a list of the top rhyming picture books of 2015. One of my new favorites, and just in time for Thanksgiving, is Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Schwartz & Wade/September 2015).

While you’re there look around a bit and click to find Kidlit Radio, book trailers and more.

Don’t miss the daily blogposts about Why Picture Books Are Important on the Picture Book Month blog.

And remember, good rhyme does sell! It takes a lot of hard work to get your rhyme there, but what a joy it will be to read when you’ve finally got it just right!

Think Poetry in Picture Books—Poetic Tools to Try

November 7, 2015

Tags: picture books, picture book month, poetic tools, poetry in picture books


Think ‘Poetry’ and add that extra dimension to your picture book.
All picture books are poetic in some way. That doesn’t mean that they need to be written in rhyme. Think—
language
rhythm
emotion
detail

In my earlier blog I listed some tools that you can use to ‘show’ and not ‘tell’ when writing a picture book. These included—

Dialogue
“Wow!” said Mr. Slinger. (from Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Kevin Henkes)

Action
"...he roared very loud. RAAAHHRRRR!" (from Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen)

Body language
"Mr. McBee frowned as he walked away." (from Library Lion, by Michelle Knudsen)

Your 5 senses
"The wind it shrieks like bobcats do..." (from THAT BOOK WOMAN by Heather Henson)

Detail (language)
“If they see me, they’ll pluck out all my feathers, stuff me with bread crumbs, and cook me for Thanksgiving dinner.” (from Turkey Surprise, by Peggy Archer)

When you think about the poetic side of a picture book, you find even more tools that can help you ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’—

Onomatopoeia –Thump, thump! Squawk!

Hard and soft letter sounds
Soft sounding consonants are: R, J, M, N, S, V, W (C and G)
—use for a quiet or sentimental mood.
Hard sounding consonants are K, D, Q, T, B, P (C and G)
—use if you want a more active or upbeat mood.

Similes –"...as pleasing as ticks in a taco." (from Ginny Louise and the School Showdown, by Helen Lester)

Metaphors –It’s a piece of cake.

Alliteration and Repetition –"Click, Clack, Moo!" (from Click, Clack, Moo! by Doreen Cronin)

Short and long sentences (or words)
Using short words or sentences is more active, more tense; it speeds things up
Using longer words or sentences creates a pause; it slows things down

Look at the books listed above and others at your local library.

Thinking in terms of poetry when writing a picture book adds another dimension to your story. So think like a poet, and give your writing that extra oomph using some of the ‘poetic tools’ listed above! /

Picture Book Idea Month—PiBoIdMo!

November 1, 2015

Tags: Picture Book Month, PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month


On her blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), Tara Lazar has created another way for authors to celebrate Picture Book Month. She created PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) as a 30-day challenge for picture book writers.

PiBoIdMo is not a challenge to create 30 first drafts, or 30 completed manuscripts. Just 30 story ideas that might eventually be developed into a picture book. As Tara explains it, “The object is to heighten your picture-book-idea-generating senses.”

And to help you, during November there will be daily blog posts by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals will help inspire you. And prizes (did I say prizes!?). You have until November 5th, that’s Thursday of this week, to sign up! Just visit Tara’s blogsite to sign up!

While you’re there, check out today’s post by Joan Holub on fresh ways to get picture book ideas, and sign up to win a prize!

When you’re finished there, go to the Picture Book Month.com website to read today’s first post of the month by Trisha Speed Shaskan on Why Picture Books Are Important!

Then find links to author/illustrator blogs, picture book resources, literacy organizations and more ways to celebrate Picture Book Month there!

Coming Soon—Picture Book Month! November 2015

October 31, 2015

Tags: picture book month 2015


Read * Share * Celebrate!
November is Picture Book Month!


Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November. Every day in November, there is a new post on the Picture Book Month website from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.

In last year’s celebration, Debbie Ridpath Ohi shared her insight on why picture books are important:

“Picture books are important because childhood is important. Picture books help inspire today’s young people into becoming tomorrow’s thought leaders.”

The 2015 Picture Book Month Champions are:

Sudipta Bardan-Quallen
David Biedrzycki
Paulette Bogan,
Mike Curato
Matthew Gollub
Julie Gribble
Julie Hedlund
Carter Highins
Molly Idle
Joe Kulka
Jennifer Gray Olson
Kathryn Otoshi
Anne Marie Pace
Rukhsana Khan
Robin Newma,
Penny Parker Klostermann
Eric Litwin
Loren Long
Deb Lund
LeUyen Phan
Matt Phelan
Stephen Shaskan
Trisha Speed Shaskan
TJ Shay
Whitney Stewart
Holly Stone-Barker
Mo Willems
Natasha Win
Matthew Winner
and Paula Yoo

Join the celebration and party with a picture book!

Thanks to the following who put together their worldwide connections to make Picture Book Month happen—

Founder: Dianne de Las Casas (author & storyteller)
Co-Founders:
Katie Davis (author/illustrator)
Elizabeth O. Dulemba (author/illustrator)
Tara Lazar (author)
Wendy Martin (author/illustrator)

Thanks also to Joyce Wan for the beautiful logo and to Marcie Colleen for the Teacher’s Guide and Curriculum Connections in each post.

from: http://picturebookmonth.com/

Soaring to New Heights!

October 24, 2015

Tags: SCBWI Missouri, Soaring to New Heights, fall conference

On September 26th Missouri SCBWI held its fall conference for children’s writers and illustrators, Soaring to New Heights. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in fall, with something to offer for children’s writers of all genres. Here’s the Wrap-Up!

EB Lewis, award-winning author/illustrator of children’s picture books, was the keynote speaker. Others representing picture books were Connie Hsu, editor at Roaring Brook Press and Kirsten Hall, agent and owner of Catbird Agency. I also did my part for picture book writers in the picture book intensive along with Connie and Kirsten. Representing middle grade and young adult were Brianne Johnson, agent at Writer’s House, Kate Sullivan, editor at Delacorte Press, and author Jennifer Brown. Behind the scenes, not present that day but doing written critiques, was Melissa Edwards, agent at Aaron Priest Literary Agency.

I didn’t attend all of the breakout sessions, but attended the ones that focused on writing picture books.

The day started off with artistrator, EB Lewis, who talked about Art and Picture Books.
He said that the illustrator creates a ‘visual’ language in which you read images like words. Each image moves a story forward. Something that, as a writer, I had not thought about before. Keeping that in mind helps me as a picture book writer.

Agent, Brianne Johnson talked about Character Driven Picture Books.
She said that character influences plot and voice. You want your character to ‘want’ something deeply and not be shy about it! When developing your character, you should look at your character’s values, behavior (including virtues and flaws or weaknesses), and Traits (they should be unique, and have heart). You can put your character in any situation and you know what is going to happen.

Picture book agent, Kirsten Hall, talked about Pitching Your Work.
Your pitch to an agent or an editor should be short and sweet, and include a short summary, a small amount of interesting relevant biographical info about yourself, and be visual. Include comparable titles that are successful and refer to books that the editor has previously edited.

Kirsten’s advice—
1—Pitch to the right editor at the right house
2—Be confident
3—Stand out, be different
4—Remain optimistic
5—Be happy!

The Picture Book Intensive started off with editor, Connie Hsu.
Three things that Connie looks for in a picture book are character, voice and arc. She said to avoid stereotypes when developing characters. Ask yourself ‘why’ your main character is a child or an animal, and how that moves the story along. Regarding voice, ask: who is the narrator and who is the audience? At the end of the story the main character should learn something, and change somehow. There should be a satisfying ending with an emotional resonance, or ‘take-away,’ for the reader.

Agent Kirsten Hall talked about picture book basics. Picture books are written for children ages 4-8. A picture book is structured with a combination of text plus art. The format is a book with 32 to 40 pages—the pages are divisible by 8—although some newer picture books are 90-100 pages!

She gave us 20 tips for writing picture books from editors. Among those were—
Begin at the library or bookstore—ask for their 10 best-selling picture books and read them.
Think visually.
Know your characters and their world.
Know the parts of your story
PUSH the emotion.

‘Cheesy Tip’—Be Nice and Be Professional (also echoed by Connie Hsu)

Also stressed by both Kirsten and Connie, and among ‘Editors’ Tips’ was—
Check your story’s ‘Readability’ by reading your picture book text out loud—over and over! Twenty times or more in one sitting!

My own author part of the picture book intensive focused on 'Show, Don’t Tell.' Why 'show?' We ‘show’ to keep the reader’s attention by making the story more active, putting images in the readers’ minds, and drawing them into the story. We want the reader to ‘feel’ what the main character feels.

What do we want to show? We show characters, emotions, story, setting and time.

How so we 'show'? Some ‘tools’ that help ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’ are—
Dialogue
Action
Body language
Use your 5 senses
Detail (Language)

And, since all picture books have a poetic quality, there are also ‘poetic tools,’ which I’ll talk a little bit about in my next blog post. See you there!