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

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


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

Christmas Day--Relax and Enjoy!

December 25, 2011

It's Christmas Day and the countdown is over. I'm on my way to the kitchen for leftovers and some of that homemade nut roll!

I wish you good times with family and friends, time to relax, and good books to read.

I'll be back here next week with thoughts on New Year's Resolutions.

Day 1, December 24th: Christmas Traditions

December 23, 2011

Tags: traditions, Christmas countdown, writing for children


Day 1: December 24th—Christmas Traditions
There are many Christmas traditions that people enjoy every year at this time. Today our family celebrated by getting together for Christmas Eve dinner. It was a fun time. Later we'll go to Midnight Mass. Here are some other traditions that people keep.

Decorating the tree and putting up lights
Stringing popcorn garland
Baking Christmas cookies
Sharing treats with the neighbors
Caroling
Lighting the Advent wreath
Making your own Advent calendar with things to do each day for Baby Jesus’ birthday
A Las Posadas celebration
Doing things for a secret friend during Advent
Making your own Christmas cards
Making Christmas crafts
Going to a Christmas concert
Going to a Christmas play
Driving around town to see the Christmas lights and decorations
Getting together with friends
Reading Christmas stories
Writing a children’s Christmas story or poem

I’d love to hear more from readers. Traditions make this time of year even more special. They bring us closer to family and friends. They make us think outside of ourselves. And they make us feel good inside.

You might take a tradition that you love and write about it. Or write a story centered around a tradition. It could be a Christmas tradition, or one for any time of the year.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas!
For those of you who celebrate in a different way, I wish you blessings for the season!

Day 2, December 23rd: Christmas Lights

December 23, 2011

Tags: Christmas countdown, Christmas lights, writing for children, children's books


Day 2: December 23rd—Christmas Lights
Christmas lights are so beautiful! In the evening the tree inside the house gives you a warm, cozy feeling. But I also love to see all the outdoor decorations that people display. They’re like greeting cards to the neighbors and those passing by.

Our books might be like those twinkling lights at Christmas. It feels warm and cozy to have finished writing a book and be able to share it with others. But there are so many other books to look at! So many there for us to enjoy.

One new book that I discovered this Christmas is A CHRISTMAS GOODNIGHT by Nola Buck, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright, Katherine Tegen Books 2011. A child says goodnight to the people and the animals at the first Christmas, then to the things in nature. Later illustrations show the child in his own home with his own nativity, again saying goodnight to the baby Jesus. The illustrations are colorful and simple, with smiling faces and sometimes sleepy eyes. This is a beautiful addition to my collection of children’s Christmas books.

Do you have a favorite children’s book of the season? Perhaps you’d like to share it here.

Day 3, December 22nd: Gift Wrapping

December 22, 2011

Tags: Christmas presents, gift wrapping, writing for children, Christmas countdown


Day 3: December 22nd –Gift Wrapping
My husband and I wrapped Christmas presents this morning. We decided to go all out and put on ribbons and bows this year. They look so beautiful sitting under the tree! What’s inside each package isn’t elaborate or expensive. But they’re all chosen with the person receiving them in mind.

Kind of like our stories. We wrap them up with care, typed with no mistakes and with great cover letters, and send them off. But editors look beyond the wrapping to what’s inside. Is the story original, or more like the tie or cuff links that dads got too many of back in the 50’s? Is it well written, with words chosen especially to fit the age of the child who will be read to? Is the word count appropriate, or could we have told the same story with less?

Good writing is in the re-writing. Get out a manuscript that you’ve written recently, or an older one, and give it another look. Does the “wrapping” look better than what’s inside?

Day 4, December 21st: Creative Gift Giving

December 21, 2011

Tags: writers groups, critique groups, gift giving, writing for children

My critique group in Indiana exchaqnges gifts in December. But not just any kind of gift! Our gifts relate in some way to writing, or to the writer. They come with a note or poem. And they cost $1 or less!

It's fun to see all of the ways we can be creative from year to year. I've received bookmarks with quotations, ornaments related to writing for children, a prayer stone, a small piggy bank for rewarding writing efforts and many other things. I've kept every one. This year I made corn bags that you heat and wrap around your neck. I enclosed this poem, which goes to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It":

When your neck is feeling achy
Read a book.
With a corn bag wrapped around it
Read a book.
When you feel a little dozy
And your corn bag's warm and cozy
Wrap it up and snuggle up and
Read a book!

When it's cold out and it's snowing
Read a book.
When the winter winds are blowing
Read a book.
When it's gloomy and you're tired
Read a book and get inspired.
Get a pen and paper out and
Write a book!

Ok--here's the challenge: Think of an original gift for a writer, costing no more than $1, and write a note or poem to go with it. Good luck!

Day 5, December 20th: Christmas Cookies

December 20, 2011

Tags: Christmas countdown, Christmas cookies, writing for children, Hanukkah

Day 5: December 20th
Happy Hanukkah to all of my Jewish friends!

Today I made Christmas cookies with two of my grandkids. Sugar cookies never looked (or tasted) so great! And I probably wouldn’t have made them if it hadn’t been for my grandchildren being here.

Doing things with other people can give you a lift sometimes. It can be more fun. And the results are usually better. With the cookies, you can take a look at what someone else did and get ideas. The tiny brown chocolate chips in the gingerbread boy’s icing eyes were really cute. We put some on the buttons, too. I had cutters for bells and stars and trees, but the kids brought some for stockings and candy canes.

Writing can be better as a team effort, too. Some writers collaborate on a project. I’ve never done that, but I do have a wonderful critique group. Getting another person’s eyes and ears on something that you’re working on is a great help. A picture book is a kind of team work. It’s the combination of text and pictures that make a picture book. And even though the author and illustrator don’t work together, the end result comes from two different creative minds.

The text for a picture book comes before the illustrations. But a picture can inspire a story, too. Has a picture on a Christmas card ever really moved you? What if you took that picture and wrote a story or a poem to go with it? Maybe you could even write words to go with that picture for an original Christmas card.

Countdown to Christmas, Day 6: Christmas Cards

December 20, 2011

Tags: countdown to Christmas, Christmas cards, holiday cards, holiday letters


Day 6: December 19th
Today I was getting the last of my Christmas cards ready to mail. I know, it’s only six days away! These last few are the ones that I put a personal letter into, so they wait until the end.

There are so many different kinds of cards. There are religious cards, the strictly ‘happy holiday’ cards. Cards with Jesus and the holy family, snowmen, and cozy homes pictured surrounded by snow. My middle daughter makes her cards with little cut-outs that she pastes onto the card! They’re beautiful. There are cards with photos of families or the kids (I love to get those). And there are the cards with letters enclosed that tell what’s happened during the past year.

My daughter showed me a card that they had received one year that was a ‘family letter’ but it was hilarious. Not the typical letter of how everyone is doing and what they did that year. My sister-in-law asked for funny stories from family to put together for their card this year. I hope she got a good response, and I can’t wait to get it.

If you were to write a Christmas letter to put into a card, and wanted it to be ‘original,’ how would you write it? Would it be funny? A collection of riddles? A game of some kind? Or maybe a re-make of a Christmas carol? It’s never too early to get started for next year!

Countdown to Christmas, Day 7: People Watching

December 18, 2011

Tags: Christmas countdown, writing for children


Day 7: December 18th
Are you a people-watcher? If you’re a writer, you probably are. At this time of the year it can be especially interesting.

There was the little girl in the store who kept asking to use the hand sanitizer that the store supplied for customers. “I want to use the hand sanitizer! Why can’t I use the hand sanitizer? But I want to use the hand sanitizer! Why won’t you let me?” You could hear her insisting all the way down the aisle. Her parents were very patient. I couldn’t help smiling.

Then there were the three angels at the end of the line in the chorus who were swaying to the Christmas carols as they were singing. They were certainly enjoying themselves. Another angel at the other end had halo problems. It kept falling off. She just picked it up and put it back on and kept on singing.

Parents take their kids to the mall for the yearly Santa photo. Will they sit on Santa’s lap? Will they talk to him? Will they look at him? If they talk to him, what will they say?

Working with kids, having your own kids, or just watching kids in action is good preparation for writing for kids and developing characters. “Know your audience,” editors say. What age are you writing for? Spend some time with kids in that age group.

The next time you’re out shopping, slow down just a little and be a people-watcher. Pick out someone who especially catches your eye. When you get home, sit down and write a short story around that character. You never know where it might take you!

Countdown to Christmas, Day 8: Familiar or Original?

December 17, 2011

Tags: Christmas countdown, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Snowmen at Christmas, writing for children


Day 8: December 17th
Editors are always looking for original stories. We sometimes see familiar stories written with a new spin on them that gives them ‘originality.’ For example, “The Night Before Christmas,” and “The Night Before Thanksgiving,” or “Snowmen at Night” and “Snowmen at Christmas.” How about “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,” and “Leroy the Red Neck Reindeer?”

So how do you make a familiar story sound new and original? Try changing the situation, or changing the main character.

In “The Night Before Thanksgiving,” the holiday changes, giving the reader a different situation. There are similarities, but enough differences to give it a new spin. In “Snowmen at Christmas,” an ordinary night becomes something special.

Character drives the story. When you change your character, the story will change because of the way your character handles the situation, or reacts to it. When Rudolph is sick on Christmas Eve, he calls on his cousin Leroy to cover for him. Leroy shows up driving a pick-up truck and wearing a John Deere tractor hat. At the start, the other reindeer aren’t too sure about a reindeer who goes ‘two-stepping across the sky,’ and makes ‘jingle bells with a rebel yell.’ But he soon has them all ‘scootin’ a hoof on every single roof, by the light of a neon moon.’

When I talk to students about my picture book TURKEY SURPRISE, I sometimes ask them how they think the story might change if the little pilgrim brother refused to hunt for a turkey at the beginning. Or what might happen if the turkey was caught? How might he get away?

Just for fun, try re-writing a picture book with a different type of character, or by changing the situation.

Countdown Continued, Day 9: 'Show' Us a Character

December 16, 2011

Tags: Grinch, Christmas, countdown to Christmas, writing for children


Day 9: December 16th
Thinking back to songs of the season, and yesterday’s blog, you might just recognize the following words, taken randomly, from another well known song.

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

Wow, what a guy! What great similes and metaphors. Ok, so here’s the challenge—create a vibrant character for a children’s book, and SHOW us that character without telling us anything about him or her!

Countdown to Christmas—Ten Days of Inspiration Day 10

December 15, 2011


What would Christmas be without kids?! Their joy and excitement is catchy. Kids believe in the magic of Christmas, and wonder at the tiny baby whose birth we celebrate. They probably behave their best at Christmas than any other time of the year. Well, at least we can hope!

For children’s writers it’s also a magical time. With only ten days to go, I thought that I’d countdown to Christmas with ten days of inspiration for children’s writers.

Day 10: December 15th
My husband and I spent a good part of today in the car listening to Christmas songs. I stopped to think when I heard Kenny Chesney sing “Thank God for Kids,” which was originally done by the Oak Ridge Boys. There are many Christmas songs that wouldn’t have been written if it weren’t for kids. See if you can guess the names of the following Christmas songs.

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

There are Christmas stories all around us at this time of year. If you celebrate the season in a different way, similar inspiration is sure to surround you. Inspiration can come from a change in the weather, family or community traditions, words from the mouths of little ones, and maybe even from songs about the season. For example, what if, instead of the 12 Days of Christmas, it became the 12 Days of Groundhog Day? or Fathers’ Day?

When my critique group has our holiday meeting in December, we sometimes bring a manuscript to fit the season. I have at least 4 or 5 Christmas stories in my files. It’s not the easiest type of story to market, but one of these is something that I feel would make a great picture book for young children. Hopefully someday you’ll see it in bookstores.

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