Upcoming Author Sightings


Thursday, June 14, 2018
Writing Workshop
St. Louis Life

O'Fallon, MO

Tuesday, June 19, 2018
10:00 to 11:00 am
Toad-Themed Storytime
Kirkwood Public Library

140 East Jefferson Avenue
Kirkwood, MO 63122

Saturday, July 28, 2018
10:30 am
Celebrity Storytime &
Book signing
Left Bank Books

399 North Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63108

Saturday, August 4, 2018
10:30 am to 12:30 pm
A Hippy-Hoppy Storytime
& Book Signing
Barnes & Noble Bookstore

Valparaiso, IN
https:/​/​stores.barnesandnoble.com/​store/​2138

Archives


Recent Author Visits


Book Launch at Main St. Books

With some hippy-hoppy readers at
Main Street Books in St. Charles.
March 24, 2018

With Kim Vernon (R) and Rhonda Roberts (L), wonderful coordinators of the White County Creative Writers' conference in Searcy, AR! 9.2.17

White County Creative Writers conference in Searcy, AR on 9.2.17

Reading from NAME THAT DOG at the St. Charles Arts & Literary Festival on 8.26.17--with help from Author, Stephanie Bearce.

Even Batman and Superman stopped to read at the Arts and Literary Festival in St. Charles! 8.26.17

Making paper-cup puppies at the St. Charles Arts & Literary Festival on 8.26.17

Providence Classical Christian Academy May 2017

Guest author at Nancy Polette's children's writing class April 2017

South Central Elementary School, Kinmundy, IL April 14, 2016

ICD School visit March 1, 2016

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.

Happy Book Birthday, Hippy-Hoppy Toad!

March 20, 2018

Tags: A Hippy-Hoppy Toad, picture books, Anne Wilsdorf, Schwartz & Wade


It's Spring! Happy Book Birthday to A Hippy-Hoppy Toad!

In the spring of 2013, five years ago, I had the first ‘toad sighting’ that would lead to the debut of my newest picture book, A HIPPY-HOPPY TOAD. Who knew then what a journey that little toad would take me on!

Journey #1 was the walk that my husband and I took through the park that day. After an early morning rain we decided it was a perfect day for a walk, and headed out to Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville, Missouri. The sun was out and the air felt good. The path winds past fields and trees, around playgrounds and picnic areas. At a shady area on the path was a big wet spot, what was left of a puddle that had not yet dried in the sun. And in the middle sat a teeny, tiny toad. For the rest of the walk my mind was on that ‘teeny, tiny toad’ sitting in the ‘middle of a puddle in the middle of the road!’

Journey #2 came the following year on another warm spring morning, when we walked the same path with our grandson—listening to the sounds of new toads, stopping at the playgrounds, and reading the storybook posted around the lake. This time we ventured off onto a dirt path by the lake and discovered hundreds of tiny, hippy, hoppy toads that had been camouflaged by the dirt and leaves! Later, after convincing our grandson that it was not a good idea to take a wild toad home for a pet, Toad’s own journey began.

Journey #3 was the story of a “Toad in the Road,” which later became A HIPPY-HOPPY TOAD. From the ‘middle of a puddle in the middle of a road’ the little toad flew to a ‘raggy-shaggy tree’ to a flower and other places in the park, meeting new characters along the way. As the story grew, my own journey as an author grew as well.

Journey #4 is the journey that I took as an author with ‘Toad.’. A journey that still continues! Here are a few of the highlights.

It took about a year and a half for me to finish the first draft of “Toad in the Road.” After multiple revisions and getting feedback from my critique groups, it was finally ready to send out into the publishing world.

I submitted it for a critique at the Missouri SCBWI fall conference in 2014 and it got the attention of an agent there. Eventually it was rejected because they ‘weren’t taking on many poetry or picture book texts.’

I continued to revise and play with the language and the rhythm in the story, and to get feedback from my friends who write for children.

In 2015 I submitted “Toad in the Road” for the SCBWI Work-in-Progress (WIP) grant. I’d submitted other manuscripts for the WIP grant before, and knew it was a long shot. But I thought it couldn’t hurt to try again, with a new manuscript. At the same time, I signed up for the KS/MO SCBWI fall conference, and a critique with agent Kirsten Hall. I decided to send TOAD for my critique. And that’s when things started to ‘hop’ forward.

In September I received an email from Steve Mooser, one of the founders of SCBWI, that “Toad in the Road” had won the WIP grant for picture book text! I was stunned. And thrilled! Now what!? I would have to wait a bit and they would create a secure website where they would post the winning manuscripts and invite editors to read them.

The next month at the SCBWI conference I met Kirsten Hall of Catbird Productions. She critiqued “Toad in the Road” and asked about my other manuscripts. We seemed to hit it off, and I enjoyed getting to know her over those couple of days.

Later that month SCBWI posted the winning WIP manuscripts on their new website, and on our way to vacation in Tennessee I received an email from Anne Schwartz (yes, Anne Schwartz!) at Schwartz & Wade saying that they wanted to publish my manuscript!

Kirsten and I had been in touch after the conference, and over the next three days I had an agent and an acceptance for my book from Schwartz & Wade! A few months later I found out that the illustrator would be the amazing Anne Wilsdorf.

I was looking forward to working with my new publisher, and was assigned to an absolutely wonderful editor at Schwartz & Wade—another Ann. I knew that she would have ideas and suggestions for edits in the manuscript that would make it even better, and I was right. Many of her suggestions were small things that would make a big difference. I have absolutely loved working with her!

In the spring of 2017 I finally had a publication date—March 20, 2018!

Since then many exciting things have come Toad’s way which I’ve shared on the book page for A HIPPY-HOPPY TOAD here on my website. I hope you’ll follow along!

If you live near St. Louis or near Crown Point or Valparaiso in Indiana, check out my author appearances on the left of this page. I’d love to meet you if you have time to stop by to say hello!

Happy Book Birthday, A HIPPY-HOPPY TOAD!
And Happy Book Birthday to all the SCBWI members with books coming out this month!



Success—How Do You Measure Up?

January 30, 2018

Tags: Success, writing for children


What does ‘success’ mean to you? For some, success might be measured by the number of manuscripts that they finish in a month, by how many words they write a day, or how many rejections they get each year. Or it might be measured by how many manuscripts they sell or how much money they make. And for others it may be more personal.

Whatever means you use to measure your success, it needs to help you move forward in some way. And different things work for different people. Let’s look at a few ways used to measure success.

Amount of time spent writing each week. Whether you count the number of hours spent writing, or the number of words you write, you need to write to be a writer! The more you write, the better you get at it. Success comes with time spent writing.

Tip: Combine your time spent writing with time spent reading books in the genre that you write. You will increase your understanding of children’s books and writing them, and increase your success level.

Tip: Do what works best for you. Someone once said, “If you don’t write every day, you will never succeed as a writer.” Every piece of advice that I read said that you need to write every day. I rebelled! My family came first, and I would write when I could—and succeed!

Then I read something in a writing magazine that validated me as a writer. It said to compare how important your writing is to something else that you love to do. Then spend the same amount of time writing as you spend doing that other thing. I loved my job as a nurse. I was working two days a week. I knew that I could spend two days a week writing if I put it on the calendar. Once I started, I usually exceeded that. And if ‘life happened’ and I didn’t get those two days in, I didn’t let it get to me.

Number of manuscripts completed. A finished manuscript is a huge success! You’ve stuck with it! You’ve written a story with a beginning that catches the reader’s attention, an exciting middle, and you’ve tied everything up at the end. Success comes with following through, all the way to the end.

Tip: All manuscripts start with a first draft. Finish your first draft, all the way to the end, resisting the urge to go back and edit before you’re finished. Then pick the one(s) that you just can’t stop thinking about to polish and revise!

Tip: If you don’t already belong to a critique group, join one now! Having another pair of eyes and ears is invaluable, and you can learn from other’s experiences.

Number of rejections received. Some writers count success by the number of rejections they’ve received. Some even set a goal of getting so many rejections per year! Rejections mean that you’re sending your work out. They mean that you’ve been finishing what you’ve started!

Tip: Make a list of places to send your manuscript, so that when you receive a rejection, your manuscript won’t sit in the drawer until you decide where to send it next.

Tip: After a manuscript receives three to four rejections, take another look at it with fresh eyes. Is there some place where you can revise and make it better?

Manuscripts sold and money made. Some writers measure their success by the number of manuscripts they’ve sold or how much money they’ve made. It’s good to celebrate those accomplishments! But instead of celebrating each small success, some writers may feel disappointed that their success is not bigger. Having your work accepted by a magazine or a publisher is a huge success, no matter how big or small the sale! It validates what you do and encourages you to keep on!

Tip: Celebrate each success, big or small! Enjoy a day off with your family or friends. Or just have a piece of chocolate!

More Tips for Success:

*Set realistic goals. Start with something small. Starting with small, attainable goals will give you a sense of accomplishment, and keep you from getting discouraged.

*Don’t get discouraged if you fail to meet your goals. Do the best you can. Life happens. Just pick yourself up and start again!

* Celebrate! Once you’ve accomplished your goal, reward yourself with a small treat—a piece of candy, an outing with friends or family, or some time to yourself.

*Re-evaluate your goals and set the bar a little higher. Re-evaluating and setting higher goals along the way will give you a push to work toward that higher goal, and one day you’ll be celebrating that book acceptance!

Decide what ‘success’ means to you.
Some things that make me feel successful as an author are these:
When I see a child enjoying a book that I’ve written.
When I ‘connect’ with students at an author visit.
If another writer is encouraged by something that I said.

My favorite quote, and one that I truly believe in, is this:
Many years from now it will not matter what my worldly possessions had been. What will really matter is that I was important... in the life of a child.


Some definitions:
Success:
favorable or desired outcome
Success: achieving whatever in this life will bring you joy, satisfaction and meaning
Success: (insert your own definition here)

Meet Sue Gallion, Picture Book Author!

September 19, 2017

Tags: Pug & Pig, Sue Gallion, picture books


I met Sue Gallion last year when the Missouri and Kansas chapters of SCBWI (the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators) were talking about merging into one chapter. At that time, Sue was the Regional Advisor for Kansas SCBWI, and her first picture book, PUG MEETS PIG was just coming out. Her delightful characters in the Pug & Pig books have taken her on an exciting journey. In 2013, PUG MEETS PIG received the Most Promising Picture Book Manuscript award from SCBWI. And both books have received starred reviews. PUG & PIG TRICK-OR-TREAT was just released this summer.

Congratulations, Sue! Tell us a little bit about your Pug & Pig books. What was your inspiration? Why a pig and a dog!?

Hi, Peggy! Thanks for the invitation! Both Pug and Pig books were sparked by events in real life. A friend of mine’s daughter owned a pug, named Charlotte. The family then adopted a rescue pig, and named him, of course, Wilbur. I heard lots of stories about Charlotte and Wilbur from my friend during our water aerobics class, and I liked the way the words “pug” and “pig” sounded together. When the family had to find a new home for Wilbur because Charlotte never warmed up to him, the story came together!

Pug’s personality is very similar to my black lab mix, Tucker. The Halloween story idea came from Tucker’s reaction to the dog next door dressed in a glow-in-the-dark skeleton costume.

How did you find your editor? What can you tell us about your ‘road to publication’?

I am one of the many SCBWI success stories! When I signed up for a manuscript critique of Pug Meets Pig at the LA SCBWI conference in 2013, Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster critiqued it and was interested in a revision, which sold about a month later. But my “road” to writing for kids began in 2006 when I took a children’s literature class at a local community college.

How did you acquire your agent?

Liza Voges of Eden Street Literary is my agent. That agent search is one of the most challenging parts of this business to me. In my experience, there are no shortcuts. You need to all the research you can to query agents who you think would be a good fit for your work. I do think it’s important for picture book authors to have several manuscripts that haven’t been submitted to editors to share with potential agents.

What made you want to become a children’s author?

I clearly remember my older sister reading Little House in the Big Woods to herself, which made me determined to learn to read that book, too. My dreams as a child included being Jo March in my garret. Then I majored in journalism and worked for corporations and non-profits as a writer and in public relations. When my kids were born, I loved reading to them and was always happy to read “just one more.” And now I get to read (and buy!) books for two little grandsons!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I am a great procrastinator and will do anything else except write. But then there’s that feeling -- when you’re working on something and it seems to click, it is such a thrill.

What encouragement helped you along the way?

The encouragement of other writers and illustrators has been invaluable. This is such a crazy business, and most of us need advice, affirmation, and honesty (even when it hurts) from other creative people. The joy has to come from seeing your own work improve and turning an idea into a manuscript. It’s also a thrill to see other people’s work become books!

Where do you turn for instruction and inspiration?

I am in a three-person critique group with Ann Ingalls and Jody Jensen Shaffer. I continue to learn so much from Ann and Jody as well as many other authors and illustrators in our region and elsewhere, and I’ve been lucky to go to a number of SCBWI conferences and workshops. Some of the online resources I find most helpful are Picture Book Builders, ReFoReMo, and Tara Lazar’s blog. I check out stacks of current picture books, too.

Do you have any advice for beginning children’s writers?

Read, read, read current books (published within the last three to five years) in the genre you are working in. When you find an author whose work you particularly like, read all their books. Read books featured in the journals such as Horn Book and Publishers Weekly, and read the American Library Association and SCBWI award winners.

Can you share some tips on marketing a picture book?

Sometimes the wildest ideas actually work! I researched social media celebrity pugs and pigs and sent packages with a copy of Pug Meets Pig and a personal letter. Several of them then featured the book in an Instagram or Twitter post. The Pug Diary, a blogger in Australia, did a giveaway and a great feature. Here’s an Instagram post from Priscilla and Poppleton from Ponte Vedra, FL. The post got 10,500 likes and surely sold some books. I’m sending the Halloween book out to a variety of places now.

Building my teacher and librarian contacts on Twitter and doing Twitter giveaways of books or swag is another specific goal of mine. Those groups are terrific book supporters. Twitter is a great networking tool within the children’s literature community and a way to support each other, along with rating other people’s books and doing brief reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. You don’t have to buy someone’s book to do a review, just check it out from the library or read it in a bookstore. Those reviews really help the author and illustrator.

Marketing your own work is challenging if you were raised, like me, not to “toot your own horn.” But it’s an important part of the author’s role, and I’ve actually had a lot of fun with it.

Sue, thank you so much for sharing your Pug and Pig adventure here on my blog!

Sue lives with her family and her black lab mix, Tucker, in the Kansas City area. Sue’s stories, poems, and activity rhymes have also been published in children’s magazines including Highlights and High Five.

You can find out more about Sue and her books on her website.
Sue tweets @SueLGallion. And she frequently adds to her lists of favorites on Goodreads.

PUG MEETS PIG, illustrated by Joyce Wan, Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster 2016. ISBN: 9781481420662

PUG & PIG TRICK OR TREAT, illustrated by Joyce Wan, Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster 2017.
ISBN: 9781481449779

Starred reviews for Pug & Pig books!

Read the PW starred review here.

Read the Kirkus starred review here.

Read the PW starred review for PUG MEETS PIG here.

Getting it Right in a Fast-Paced World!

September 12, 2017

It’s September, and a hint of fall is in the air. I’m looking forward to the new season, which brings a change of pace that includes different activities going on with the grandkids, nicer weather for walking, and the colors of fall. And I’m looking forward to writing time.

When 2017 arrived, I had no idea what was ahead! There was lots of time spent doing research, preparing new author presentations, and lots of wonderful family time. I thought, certainly, I’d have a complete rough draft of my fox manuscript finished by now!

The world has a much faster pace than it did when I was growing up. There’s fast food, computers that give us fast facts, and smart phones that quickly connect us to everyone and everything. We have a goal to reach. No taking your time! We want it now!

But if you’re a writer, with a book in your head begging to be written, there is often no quick solution. Characters sit in your head until they’re ready to come out. They’re the reason you can’t fall asleep at night, the reason why you sit at the light when it turns green, or that dinner is late. They’re the ones who decide how the story will unfold. And why 'real' writing is re-writing. Sometimes it’s changing your vision, your rhythm, or sometimes it’s changing just a word. Because you want every word to be just right. And there’s no getting it done ‘right now,’ without the work.

I’m excited for the coming of fall, and glad that it’s mixed in with a little bit of the end of summer. I’m excited to find out where the little fox is taking me, and for finding the right words to show readers his story. So, bring it on, Fall! I’m ready!

Lost and Found— When electronic devices make decisions for you and how to work around it

May 18, 2017

Tags: making time to write, email, facebook, organization


Does your computer make decisions for you? Decisions like which messages come into your primary box, your social box or promotion box? Does facebook want to tell you who your best friends are? Does it suggest who you should friend, and what memories you should post?

At first glance, I was happy that my email account sorted my messages into boxes. I could look at the promos later, keep up with the social media emails when I had more time, and get right to the ‘primary,’ or more important emails. Then days, weeks or even months went by and I finally took a look at those ‘less important’ messages in the other boxes. Here’s what I found today:

Personal messages from friends in both social and promotions boxes

Important messages from KS/MO SCBWI (Society of Children’s Writers & Illustrators) in my promo box

Newsletters in my social box

A free webinar for children’s writers that I missed out on

Contests with deadlines that I wish I’d seen sooner

My main problem is that I don’t check all of my email ‘boxes’ often enough.

Facebook has its pros and cons, but I still find it the easiest social media site to use online. I love to share author events and new books written by other children’s authors who I know—it’s easy to ‘click’ and ‘share.’ And there are some great groups for children’s writers on facebook.

I always thought that I was a very organized person. I still think that, but sometimes I need to step back and re-evaluate my time. Excuse me for brainstorming here on my blog! Here are some things that (I think) (might) will work for me—

Check my email Social box daily—if I do this every day I can see at a glance who is posting on twitter or facebook and what I might want to share on those sites. It probably wouldn’t take very long if I keep up, and if I use a timer I could keep it reasonable.

Check my email Promo box weekly—I’d catch any ‘misplaced’ messages, and I might find some deals!

Check the children’s writing pages on facebook every other day—if I check one or two each time I should be able to keep up. Some of the pages for children’s writers that I follow are:

ICL—The Institute of Children’s Literature

KidLIt411

KidLit TV

TeachingAuthors

The C.I. Guide to Publishing Children’s Books

Children’s Book Insider

Fans of SCBWI

Kansas/Missouri SCBWI

St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance

There are many more facebook pages related to children’s books and writing, including author, publisher and agent pages. Do a search to check out your favorite authors and books!

One hour a week—become more familiar with twitter and Instagram.

And schedule time to write every day! If I put it on my calendar I will do it!

Children’s Poetry—Love it! Study it, Write it!

April 21, 2017

Tags: children's poetry, poetry month, National library week, picture books in verse


I missed posting about National Library Week last week. I meant to, but I was busy reading all those picture books that I brought home to study!

Read what you write is great advice for children’s writers. So, what does reading children’s poetry have to do with writing it?

I read first for pleasure. I know quickly if I’m going to love the book I’m reading. I like it when the rhythm flows and doesn’t trip me up, when the rhyme doesn’t slow me down, and when there’s an ending that makes me feel something, or ‘think’ about something.

Once I’ve read the book for pleasure, I go back and try to figure out why I love the book (or didn’t). What was it that got me caught up in it?

Did the rhythm fit the topic being written about?

Sandra Boynton’s BARNYARD DANCE is a barnyard dance! The rhythm makes you want to stomp your feet and clap your hands with the rest of them.

In NINJA, NINJA, NEVER STOP! by Todd Tuell you might ‘feel’ like a sneaky ninja, just like the big brother in this book for young readers.

Did the language bring you into the story?

In HOW DO DINOSAURS GET WELL SOON, Jane Yolen uses language that makes you feel a part of the story, watching it unfold in front of you. Active verbs like fling, dump, wail. Alliteration like whimper and whine, and with tooth and with tail. I dare you to count the adjectives in this book!

In TEN LITTLE LAMBS by Alice McGinty, words like ‘tackel and tumble’ and ‘wrestle and rumble’ make you want to stay up all night and have fun instead of going to sleep!

Is there a good story, with developed characters, a plot, and ‘heart’?

In MONSTER TROUBLE by Lane Fredrickson we wonder, will Winifred Schnitzel, who was never afraid of anything, ever get rid of those monsters who try to scare her every night?

And in COWPOKE CLYDE RIDES THE RANGE by Lori Mortensen, will Clyde ever learn to ride that bicycle?

Finally, I try to imitate the qualities that I see in those books that made me love them. How can I make my own writing do that for readers out there? I write and revise, many times, until I get it just right. Then I hope it gets my readers caught up in the verse the way those books did for me.

One final picture book in verse that impressed me was FREEDOM IN CONGO SQUARE by Carole Boston Weatherford. This 2017 Caldecott Honor Book is a story of slaves, who worked relentlessly, day by day throughout the week. Though it shows the hardships that they endured, it is told in a lively rhythm of anticipation for the one day of the week when they get a taste of freedom in Congo Square. An introduction by historian Freddi Williams Evans, and an author’s note at the end, round it all out.

I would be lost without my local library, and all the people who work there. They help me find the books that I’m looking for, and make suggestions. I love that I can reserve books online and they will get them together for me—all I need to do is go in and pick them up! Not to mention the displays, programs and events that they put together for readers. My heartfelt gratitude to all of you!

Links for Celebrating Poetry Month and Tips From the Experts on Writing Poetry for Children

April 3, 2017

Tags: poetry month, children's poetry



It’s that time of year to celebrate children’s poetry!

I loved nursery rhymes as a child--
Mary had a little lamb.
Its fleece was white as snow.
And everywhere that Mary went
the lamb was sure to go.

Jump Rope jingles were another form of poetry that we all loved--
Johnny and Mary sitting in a tree,
K-i-s-s-i-n-g!

Our kids and I all loved the Frances books, with Frances’ short rhymes popping up in the stories--
S is for sailboat,
T is for tiger,
U is for underwear, down in the drier…
Frances stopped because ‘drier’ did not sound like ‘tiger.’
(BEDTIME FOR FRANCES by Russell Hoban)

Frances was right. Because ‘drier’ and ‘tiger’ do not rhyme. They both have the same letter ‘i’ sound, but the endings are not the same. Are you looking for advice about rhyme and children's poetry? Check out the internet on children's poetry this month!

During April many bloggers offer insights into writing poetry for children. Posts by guest bloggers include advice from successful children’s poets, editors looking for good rhyme for children, and agents of children’s poetry books. If you’ve ever tried writing poetry for children or picture books in verse, this is the month to explore the web!

To get you started, here are some websites and blog sites celebrating children’s poetry this month!

National Poetry Month—learn all about National Poetry month and find out how you can join in the celebration!

RhyPiBoMO: Rhyming Picture Book Month—a month long celebration of rhyming picture books. You might just win some prizes along the way!
Join the RhyPiBoMO facebook group here.

Poem in Your Pocket Day—April 27, 2017. Carry a poem in your pocket to share today.

Dear Poet—poetry project for students; deadline April 30, 2017

Poetry Friday—bloggers contribute favorite poems or chat about something poetical on Fridays throughout the year.

The Poem Farm blog—growing poetry and lessons. More prizes!

Reading Rockets—find children’s poetry booklists, video interviews with children’s poets, and more.

Poetry for Children blogspot--about finding and sharing poetry with young people.

No Water River blogspot—the picture book and poetry place (by children's poet Renee LaTulippe)

If you live in or around Chicago, check out Children's Poetry Day: Poetry and Adventure at the Chicago Art Museum on Saturday, April 26th! https://www.poetryfoundation.org/programs/events/detail/73409

Think you don't like poetry? Jump in and test the waters! What better way to start than with children's poetry.

Introducing! Kansas/Missouri SCBWI

February 19, 2017

If you’ve not yet had a chance to look at the website of the NEW! Kansas/Missouri SCBWI chapter, here’s your invitation! And if you’re looking for a children’s author or illustrator in Kansas or Missouri to speak at your school, library or conference, this is the place to look.

The first thing you’ll notice are the wonderful illustrations that roll throughout the middle of the page—all by our talented Kansas / Missouri illustrators. Below that is the ‘Events Calendar,’ highlighting important dates with something going on for aspiring and published authors and illustrators alike.

One of our upcoming events is a Picture Book / Poetry Workshop, on March 11th in Florissant, MO. I was very excited to be asked to lead this workshop! (Click here to find out more about me and my books). The focus is on rhyming poetry and picture books in verse. We’ll take a look at what makes poetry and rhyme something that editors will love. Click on the link above to find out more. Registration is open now, for both members and non-members.

Introducing our KS/MO board members! Click on any of the names on the left side of the page to view their SCBWI profile, and follow the links to their author websites, or to send a message.

At the top left is a picture of our Co-Regional Advisors (RA), Kim Piddington and Sue Gallion. They are our fearless leaders, who plan conferences and events for our members, and keep us motivated!

Before Kansas and Missouri merged into one chapter, Kim Piddington was the RA for the Missouri chapter. She is a former educator, and an author of middle grade and young adult fiction. She is represented by Lori Kilkelly of Rodeen Literary Management.

Sue Gallion is the former RA for the Kansas chapter before our two chapters merged. She has worked in public relations, and is passionate about reading to kids of all ages. Sue met the editor for her first picture book at an SCBWI conference.

Jess Townes is our Assistant Regional Advisor (ARA), and a huge asset to the Regional Advisors. Jess is a writer for All The Wonders, a digital home for readers to discover and experience new books. She writes picture books and middle grade novels, and is represented by Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary.

Amy Kenney is our Regional Illustrator Coordinator. She helps create networking and other opportunities for both published and un-published illustrators. Amy is an illustrator and writer.

Andi Osiek volunteers as our webmaster and website designer. She is an illustrator and writer, and a graphic designer.

The Kansas / Missouri SCBWI region provides support to members through networking opportunities, workshops and much more, including an annual conference for all levels of children’s writers and illustrators. Our conferences provide attendees with opportunities for critiques by editors, agents and published authors. And it’s a great way to meet and talk with editors and agents. Click on the words ‘Learn More!’ to find out what SCBWI has to offer you.

To the right on the home page, highlighted in purple, are links highlighting events and opportunities for members and non-members. They include ‘an inside look’ at Stephanie Bearce, Missouri author and winner of the 2016 Crystal Kite award, PAL members with books published in the past year, an illustrator gallery, an interview with our featured author of the month, and a speaker’s bureau where you can find authors in Missouri and Kansas who speak at schools, libraries and conferences.

Watch for more changes and additions to the SCBWI KS/MO chapter, coming soon!

Whether you’re already a member of SCBWI, or new to the organization, check us out for a look at what KS / MO SCBWI chapter has to offer you!

WRAD--World Read Aloud Day!

February 16, 2017

Tags: World Read Aloud Day

Pick up a book and read out loud! Today is World Read Aloud Day,.

On World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), which is celebrated every year across the world, readers of all ages celebrate literacy and the “pure joy and power of reading aloud.” It's a day that calls attention to the importance of reading out loud and sharing stories. And what better books to read out loud are there than picture books and poetry!

In my Valentine's Day post I listed some of my favorite picture books, books with 'heart.' I might have added--

FROGGY EATS OUT by Jonathan London, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
In this book Froggy wants to to do the right thing. His heart is in the right place. But he keeps messing up. His parents want Froggy to have good manners. but they see that he really tries, and sometimes that's all they need.

This book is full of onomatopoeia, and is very rhythmic. It makes good use of poetic tools, though it's not written in rhyme.

I think all picture books are poetry. The best picture books have rhythm that carries you along. Many include the power, or magic, of 'threes'--three strikes and you're out, three good things the main character does, and so forth. It makes for good rhythm.

Many picture books include 'sound' words (onomatopoeia), comparisons (simile and metaphor), internal rhyme, repetition of letter sounds (assonance and consonance).

Pick up a favorite or a new book this Thursday, and join others across the globe to read aloud. And if you want to have even more fun, share a picture book with a child--out loud, of course!

Valentine’s Day—Getting to the Heart of the Story

February 13, 2017

Tags: heart of the story, Valentine's day

What is the Heart of your Story?

Authors, editors and agents talk about picture books having ‘heart.’ What exactly is ‘heart? And how do you know if your story has it? I think heart is what makes me ‘feel’ something when I read the story, and makes me feel connected to the story somehow.

Last spring I attended the SCBWI Wild, Wild Midwest conference for children’s writers and illustrators.

Author Lisa Cron said: Story is internal, not external. “Story forces (the characters) to go after what they want.” The internal journey and change is what moves the story forward.

Agent Brianne Johnson said, “You want your character to ‘want’ something deeply.” She used the book BEARD IN A BOX as an example. “At first it was funny and clever,” she said, “but it had no ‘heart’ until author added ‘like his dad.’

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I would explore what the ‘heart’ is in some of my favorite picture books. My list of favorite picture books continues to get longer! And these are just a few.

MAMA, WHY? Karma Wilson, illustrated by Simon Mendez
Margaret K. McElderry Books 2011
Nighttime comes and the moon sails high in the arctic sky—and Polar Cub asks, “Mama, why?” Each time Polar Cub asks why, Mama Polar Bear answers his questions. In the end she says “let’s rest our heads.… I’ll dream of my dearest the whole night through.” Polar Cub asks “Mama, who?” And she answers “You.”

Heart of the Story: Love—between a mama and her cub. The end of the story becomes more personal, and reassures the little polar bear cub of his mama’s love.

MORTIMER’S FIRST GARDEN Karma Wilson, illustrated by Dan Andreasen
Margaret K McElderry Books 2009
Winter is here, and little Mortimer Mouse longs to see something green, as he nibbles on sunflower seeds that he had saved. When he overhears talk about a garden, Mortimer isn’t sure he believes it, but decides to plant a sunflower seed, just in case.

Heart of the Story: A story of hope, trying new things, and believing in miracles.

LIBRARY LION Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes 2006
Candlewick Press
When a lion comes to the library one day, no one is sure what to do. There aren’t any rules about lions in the library, and he isn’t breaking any library rules. But when something terrible happens, the lion quickly comes to the rescue in the only way he knows how.

Heart of the Story: Friendship and Rules—celebrates reading and books.

BEDTIME FOR FRANCES Russell Hoban, illustrated by Garth Williams
HarperCollins Publishers 1960
Frances is a badger with a big imagination. She is far from asleep at bedtime, and every few minutes she gets up to tell her parents about all of the things she ‘sees’ and ‘hears.’ “Everyone has a job,” her father tells her. “And yours is to go to sleep.” She decides that the moth bumping against her window is just doing his job, and closes her eyes and goes to sleep.

Heart of the Story: Family—children who do not want to go to sleep at bedtime can relate to Frances in this story, wanting attention from their moms and dads, and thinking about all the noises they hear when things get quiet.

MOLE MUSIC David McPhail
Henry Holt & Company 1999
Mole lives alone underground. He feels something is missing in his life, and after hearing a violinist on TV he decides to learn to play the violin. Music makes a difference in his life and he continues to get better at playing the violin. Not realizing how much the music he makes affects the people listening to it above the ground, he imagines playing for others and how it might affect them and the difference it might make in the world.

Heart of the Story: A message of peace, how one person can make a difference, and how music can make a difference in people’s lives.

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET Matt De La Pena, illustrated by Christian Robinson
GP Putnam’s Sons (Penguin) 2015, Newberry Award winner
A young boy rides the bus every day with his nana and asks why they don’t have a car and things that other people have. Along the way and sees things to be grateful for—the bus driver who always has a trick for him, the man with the guitar, and more. He learns how “Some people watch the world with their ears” when they can’t see. By the end of the story he sees that he has much more than many other people have.

Heart of the Story: Finding joy in what you have rather than feeling sad at what you don’t have, and helping others. “Sometimes when you’re surrounded by dirt… you’re a better witness for what’s beautiful.”

SITTING DUCK Jackie Urbanovic HarperCollins 2010
“Babysitting is easy!” Brody and Max think. “How much trouble could a puppy get into, anyway?” They find out when they babysit puppy Anabele. When Brody falls asleep, it’s up to Max to take over on his own. After an adventurous afternoon, they are all asleep when Anabelle’s owner comes back to take Anabele home.

Heart of the Story: Family and friends—by the end of the day, Max and Brody find that babysitting can be more fun than trouble.

THE FOX IN THE LIBRARY Lorenz Pauli and Kathrin Scharer
NorthSouth Books 2011
Fox chases Mouse into the library where Mouse tells him “You can only borrow things here…. This isn’t the forest, it’s the library.” Fox finds a book about chickens, which gives him a new idea. Because he can’t read, he takes the book and the CD home with him. He runs into a problem, and comes back the next day with the chicken for more information. He makes a deal with the chicken that will save both their lives if she teaches him to read.

Heart of the Story: Getting along peacefully with others, working together to help each other, combined with a of love of reading.

My idea of what the heart is in each of these picture books may differ from what others think, but it’s what makes me love them so much. Overall, I think I love a book if I love the characters. And ‘heart’ is what makes the characters who they are. And if I can relate to their joys, hopes, dreams and fears, that's the 'heart' of the story.

Happy Valentine's Day! Feel free to share your favorite book, and what the heart of the story is to you.