Scholastic Book Fairs Author signing

Monday December 1st, 2014
Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center
2601 S. Providence Road
Columbia, MO 65203
3:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Saturday December 13, 2014
Scholastic Book Fair Warehouse sale
2089 Corporate 44 Drive
Fenton, MO 63026
9:30 am to 12:00 noon
1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Tuesday December 16, 2014
Scholastic Book Fair sale
Stegton Regency Banquet Center
1450 Wall Street
St. Charles, MO 63303
2:30 pm to 7:00 pm

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


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

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!

Local Author Night

December 2, 2014

Louis Launer YA author
Local Author Night at MK Library in O'Fallon, Missouri

One Lovely Blog!

December 1, 2014

Tags: One lovely blog award, children's author blogs, children's illustrator blogs

I received the One Lovely Blog Award!

Thank you, Diana Jenkins, for selecting my blog for the One Lovely Blog Award. You are so sweet, and a blessing to me also!

Here are 7 things that people might not know about me:

1. I play yahtzee with my husband when we take a lunch break.
2. I do Sudoku while I’m watching TV (which is probably why I never know what’s going on!)
3. The TV show, The Middle, is based on my family—ok, not really, but some of the things in that show could be!
4. I do not like the cold weather in winter but my favorite winter thing to do when I was a kid was to go ice skating!
5. I once had so many tomatoes in my garden that I made catsup—it tasted good! But it took so long to make that I never did it again.
6. My favorite vacations are going places where we can get outside and walk or hike and enjoy nature.
7. My favorite nursing job was working as a school nurse—I still remember those kids!

I am passing on the One Lovely Blog Award to the following bloggers. Please check out their ‘lovely’ blogs!

Karen Kulinski
Katie Mitschelen
Peggy Reiff Miller
Kristi Valiant
Kim Piddington
Angie Karcher
Judith L. Roth
Kate Collins
Joyce Ragland
Stephanie Bearce
Sharon Biggs Waller

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
• Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
• Add the One Lovely Blog logo to your post.
• Share 7 things about yourself.
• Nominate up to 15 bloggers you admire and inform the nominees by commenting on their blog.

Shop at Your Local Indie Bookstores on Small Business Saturday!

November 28, 2014

Tags: small business Saturday, Independent bookstores, Indie bookstores, Main Street Books, St. Louis independent bookstore alliance


This coming Saturday, November 29th, is Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, encouraging people to shop at small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. It was first observed in 2010 when it was conceived by American Express. In 2013 it was also observed in the UK.

When my husband and I moved from Indiana to the St. Louis area 3½ years ago, one of my first contacts in the writing community was Vicki Erwin at Main Street Books. There is nothing that compares to the atmosphere of an indie (independent) bookstore! I have warm memories of this cozy bookstore with friendly faces who welcomed many local authors. I was lucky to be invited to sign copies of my books there as well. In February of this year Main Street Books switched hands to new owners, Emily, Ellen and Andy Hall, who keep that same friendly atmosphere, hosting book events and local authors. Click the link above to see who will be there this Saturday.

We’re fortunate to have several Independent Bookstores in the St. Louis area. For information on these indie bookstores and events, visit the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance website.

Stop in and say hello, and shop your local indie bookstore this year on Small Business Saturday! (Tell them I sent you).

Thanks for Thanksgiving—and for Thanksgiving Picture Books!

November 27, 2014

Tags: Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving picture books, GoodReads


Thanksgiving is a time to stop and count our blessings. I’m thankful for many things, but mostly for the people in my life—my husband, my children and grandchildren, family and friends. In my writing community I’m thankful for my critique groups, friends in SCBWI, my editors, professionals who share their gift of writing for children, for those of you who read and enjoy my books, and for readers who visit with me here on my blog. Thank you all.

The GoodReads website has a list of
Best Children’s Thanksgiving Books
. Some of those are on my bookshelves here at home, and others on the list are among my favorites. A few others that I like, but that are not on the list, are—

The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving from A to Z by Laura Crawford,
Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes, and
Bless This Mouse by Dianna Hutts Aston.
And what Thanksgiving Day would not be complete without Turkey Riddles by Katy Hall and Lisa Eisenberg.

My picture book Turkey Surprise is on Goodreads’ at number 8. I’ve always had such fun sharing Turkey Surprise with others, especially with children. A friend recently wrote to me to tell me that her daughter is ‘adamant that she won’t eat turkey at Thanksgiving this year because she is going to set it free like the pilgrims’ in my book! She promised her mother that she would get a pumpkin pie to eat instead. I apologized to my friend. But I’d love to be the mouse in the corner and observe what will happen at their Thanksgiving dinner table!

Another woman sent me a video of her four year-old son singing the pilgrims’ song from the book—I love it! I remember the little girl from a reading that I did who covered her ears every time I sang the pilgrims’ song. Turkey Surprise is out of print right now, but you can find it at your library. I’m hoping that it will be back in print one day, or perhaps be released as an ebook.

If you click on ‘My Works’ here on my website at the top of the page, then click on ‘Turkey Surprise,’ there is a link on the left to print a coloring page of the cover of Turkey Surprise. There are also some links to a crossword puzzle for kids and some Thanksgiving crafts.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers here!

I’ll leave you with a riddle from the book Holiday Ha-Ha’s, Thanksgiving Jokes + Riddles:
What did the Pilgrims tell at the first Thanksgiving?
Corn-y jokes!

PiBoIdMo--Picture Book Idea Month

November 26, 2014

Tags: PiBoIdMo, Picture Book Idea Month, Tara Lazar


I’m often asked where my ideas come from when it comes to writing picture books. I am never at a loss for ideas! I get ideas from what other people say, from what I see around me, from music, trivia and other books. And especially from being around children.

I love being around kids. And they give me lots of food for thought! Two of our grandsons play soccer. Have you ever watched four year-olds play soccer? It’s a hoot! Here’s one scenario.

Four year-old is on the field and casually walks over to sit on the bench. His coach patiently coaxes him back onto the field.
A couple of minutes later the same player comes back to the sideline. “I’m tired of playing,” he says.
Coach again coaxes him back onto the field, only to have him come back to the sideline, face his coach with hands on his hips, and say in a loud voice, “BUT I DON'T WANT TO PLAY ANYMORE!”
I’m not sure how his coach did it, but the player ended up back on the field and he suddenly seemed to be having fun.

By the time the kids get to second grade they’re more into the game. I went to one of our older grandson’s games and my friend’s son was playing on the opposing team.
“He thinks you’re here to watch him play,” Susan said.
“That’s ok,” I told her. “I am watching him.”
I cheered for our grandson, and I also cheered for my friend’s son.
A couple of weeks later I saw them at church and he asked me, “So—did you come to the game to see me or someone else?”
Groan! He must have figured it out! I thought fast and said, “I came to watch my grandson and you, too! And I had so much fun I cheered for both of you!”

There’s got to be at least one picture book and one early reader book in there someplace!

PiBoIdMo stands for Picture Book Idea Month. Every November, on her website, Tara Lazar hosts PiBoIdMo. The challenge is to come up with 30 picture book ideas in 30 days. You don’t have to write 30 picture books, only come up with the ideas. Every day in November there is a new guest blogger who talks about writing picture books. And there are some great prizes to win. I’ve participated in years past, and I loved it! This year I just wasn’t able to manage it, but I hope to meet the challenge again in 2015.

What PiBoIdMO did for me was get the creative juices flowing! It got thinking, and made me more aware of the things I saw and heard each day. I used a large calendar page to write them down. Each time I participated I came up with at least 20 new picture book ideas, and sometimes more than the 30 that I needed.

Even if you didn’t sign up as a participant this year, you can still go to the PiBoIdMo website and read the daily blogs posted by picture book authors, illustrators, editors and other kidlit professionals.

It’s more fun to do with other writers to share the challenge and cheer you on, but if you missed out on signing up this year, you can still start you own personal challenge any time. Write down your ideas for a week, or ten days. The following PiBoIdMo posts are only a few of the ones that I liked about how to get those picture book ideas.

Day 7—Jennifer Arena, author and editor, shares The George Stanley Idea Generator chart to help you come up with ideas for books with hooks.

Day 11—Tammi Sauer talks about the ‘How To’ structure. Fill in the blanks to come up with more picture book ideas.

Day 13—Corey Rosen Schwartz talks about how to get your 30 ideas, beginning with ‘Write down everything!’

Day 20—Henry Herz says “Everything I know about writing picture books, I learned from animals.” His post offers readers the nine B’s of inspiration for creating picture books.

Day 24—Read what agents have to say about why they love picture books.

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the PiBoIdMo challenge in November 2015!

Celebrating Picture Book Month!

November 24, 2014

Tags: picture book month, Dianne de Las Casas, Alexis O'Neill, Librarian's Quest, picture book activities


The other day I asked my 4 year-old grandson what he wanted for Christmas. A lover of trains, he said, “Colored train tracks.”
“Oh,” I said. “I’ve never seen colored train tracks before. I didn’t know they made them in colors.”
“They don’t,” he answered, giving me a sideways look. “But Santa can.”

Oh, to have the mind of a child! Where anything can exist and anything can happen! It’s trusting, hopeful, and believing. And what better place is there to explore that concept than in a picture book!

Is there anyone who doesn’t have a favorite childhood book? Mine were “Nurse Nancy” and “Little Red Riding Hood.” I grew up and became a nurse, and although I don’t particularly have a fondness for talking with wolves, I do love nature and the outdoors.

November is International Picture Book Month. It was founded in November 2011 by author and storyteller Dianne de Las Casas in response to a New York Times article in October of 2010 that declared “Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children.” Picture Book Month is a literacy initiative that celebrates the picture book in print. Click here to read more about the story behind Picture Book Month.

On each day of November on the Picture Book Month website you’ll find a commentary about the importance of picture books by a different author or illustrator. Click the link above and scroll down to read all of the posts by these picture book champions. One of my favorites is the post by Alexis O’Neill, award-winning children’s author, which was posted on November 15th.

More on Picture Book Month tomorrow. In the meantime here are some links to check out.

Librarian’s Quest website

Activities related to picture books

Picture Book Month page on facebook

Ten Twisted Tongue Twisters for Writers

November 7, 2014

Tags: What writers do, Tongue Twisters, writing for children


If children’s writers only wrote books and stories it still would not be an easy job. But we do that and so much more!

We read—we read children’s books and magazines, books and newsletters about writing for children, author websites, blogs for children’s writers, children’s editor, agent and librarian blogs, and material for research on that picture book we’re writing.

We do market research—we search to find out who publishes books in the genre that we write (and we read those books), we search to find out what publisher is looking for the specific kind of book or story that we’ve written, we search to find out where and how to submit our manuscript to that publisher, we search to find out how to write a good cover letter or query letter, we search to find out what topics are wanted most by editors, teachers and librarians.

We attend meetings with our critique groups, because writing is a solitary job and we need feedback, and encouragement and direction—and understanding. We share each other’s rejections and we rejoice in their acceptances. We keep in touch with other children’s writers by email for the same reason.

We attend programs and events featuring other authors, to learn from their advice and experience, and just because we love children’s books. Sometimes we are the ones sharing our writing experiences. And sometimes we talk to children in schools and libraries about books and writing.

We volunteer at events and conferences with organizations for children’s writers like SCBWI.

We maintain an author website, and have a presence on the web on facebook, twitter and other sites. And we blog.

We also have families, other jobs and other commitments. As much as we love what we do as a writer, sometimes other things take priority for a while. The past month or so has slowed me down just a bit, so I’ve decided to re-post one of my past blogs today. I hope you have fun with it.

Ten Twisted Tongue Twisters for writers

Do you have a problem overcoming overuse of alliteration in your children’s stories? Do character names trip off your tongue like “Tiny Tommy Turtle?” Do your titles rock to the rhythm of “Rita Raccoon and the Rattletrap Rattlesnake”?

Well, here’s your chance to change all that! Take some time out and try these ten twisted tongue twisters and see how fast you reform.

One weary writer whiting out his writing.

Two choosy teachers choose children’s chapter books.

Three free critiques.

Four cool quick facts.

Five fine poets refuse to pursue prose.

Six short stories on a short shelf.

Seven spelling checkers checking spelling errors.

Eight easy-reader writers writing easy-readers.

Nine nice novelists notice no mistakes.

Ten tongue-tied typists typing in italics.

by Peggy Archer, originally published in OUAT magazine