September 22-24, 2017
Author book signing
Friday, September 22nd
12:00 noon to 3:00 pm
Saturday, September 23rd
2:30 to 4:30 pm
ICD Catholic School Book Fair
Dardenne Prairie, MO
Listen to a past Author Interview
with Brenda Fraser of
Butterfly & Moon
November 11, 2016
Click to listen to the recording
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
Heather Alexander, editor at Dial Books for Young Readers
Quinlan Lee, agent, Adams Literary Agency
Suzanne Morgan Williams, author of BULL RIDER
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
Booksigning at B&N Bookfair
Anderson's Children's Literature Breakfast, with author and keynote speaker Tim Green
friendly staff at The Bookstore
Author Book Signing
Butler University Chorus entertains with Christmas Carols
Turkey for Thanksgiving?
Stuffee and the author
November: Picture Book Idea Month
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Anyone for Literary Bingo?
This is the cornfield just down the street from my house on July 13th. That's me with the boot on my foot again!
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
Happy Birthday, Name That Dog!
Little reader loving that dog book!
Celebrating the Book Launch!
Doggy treats at the book launch party
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!
The new Mr. and Mrs. Biggs!
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.
Afternoon Tea with the author in Mitchell
Alexis talks about storytime for the very young
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
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
Name That Dog! ISBN: 978-0-8037-3322-0
Writing friends from the beginning!
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
Family Book Basket
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
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
Smile and say 'author'!
Ready to start!
Sara Grant, Editor, Working Partners
One on one with Sara
Author and Editor...
Getting to know you...
Sharing thoughts... connecting
Our Kentucky friends...
Trish, RA, Peggy, ARA, Christi and Alina, steering committee members
Picture book author, April Pulley Sayre, speaking in South Bend.
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.
Critique group gathering at Peggy Miller's house. Karen, Fred, Mary Ann, Katie, Judy, & the two Peggy's in front.
Our daughter, Sarah & our son, Dan both sang original songs at the Porter County Fair in the Colgate Country Showdown.
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.
Meeting other children's writers.
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.
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.
October 31, 2015
Read * Share * Celebrate!
November is Picture Book Month!
Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November. Every day in November, there is a new post on the Picture Book Month website
from a picture book champion explaining why he/she thinks picture books are important.
In last year’s celebration, Debbie Ridpath Ohi
shared her insight on why picture books are important:
“Picture books are important because childhood is important. Picture books help inspire today’s young people into becoming tomorrow’s thought leaders.”
The 2015 Picture Book Month Champions
Jennifer Gray Olson
Anne Marie Pace
Penny Parker Klostermann
Trisha Speed Shaskan
and Paula Yoo
Join the celebration and party with a picture book!
Thanks to the following who put together their worldwide connections to make Picture Book Month happen—
Founder: Dianne de Las Casas
(author & storyteller)
Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Thanks also to Joyce Wan
for the beautiful logo and to Marcie Colleen
for the Teacher’s Guide and Curriculum Connections in each post.
October 24, 2015
On September 26th Missouri SCBWI
held its fall conference for children’s writers and illustrators, Soaring to New Heights
. It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in fall, with something to offer for children’s writers of all genres. Here’s the Wrap-Up!
, award-winning author/illustrator of children’s picture books, was the keynote speaker. Others representing picture books were Connie Hsu
, editor at Roaring Brook Press
and Kirsten Hall
, agent and owner of Catbird Agency
. I also did my part for picture book writers in the picture book intensive along with Connie and Kirsten. Representing middle grade and young adult were Brianne Johnson
, agent at Writer’s House
, Kate Sullivan
, editor at Delacorte Press
, and author Jennifer Brown
. Behind the scenes, not present that day but doing written critiques, was Melissa Edwards
, agent at Aaron Priest Literary Agency
I didn’t attend all of the breakout sessions, but attended the ones that focused on writing picture books.
The day started off with artistrator, EB Lewis
, who talked about Art and Picture Books
He said that the illustrator creates a ‘visual’ language in which you read images like words. Each image moves a story forward. Something that, as a writer, I had not thought about before. Keeping that in mind helps me as a picture book writer.
Agent, Brianne Johnson
talked about Character Driven Picture Books
She said that character influences plot and voice. You want your character to ‘want’ something deeply and not be shy about it! When developing your character, you should look at your character’s values, behavior (including virtues and flaws or weaknesses), and Traits (they should be unique, and have heart). You can put your character in any situation and you know what is going to happen.
Picture book agent, Kirsten Hall
, talked about Pitching Your Work
Your pitch to an agent or an editor should be short and sweet, and include a short summary, a small amount of interesting relevant biographical info about yourself, and be visual. Include comparable titles that are successful and refer to books that the editor has previously edited.
1—Pitch to the right editor at the right house
3—Stand out, be different
The Picture Book Intensive
started off with editor, Connie Hsu
Three things that Connie looks for in a picture book are character, voice and arc. She said to avoid stereotypes when developing characters. Ask yourself ‘why’ your main character is a child or an animal, and how that moves the story along. Regarding voice, ask: who is the narrator and who is the audience? At the end of the story the main character should learn something, and change somehow. There should be a satisfying ending with an emotional resonance, or ‘take-away,’ for the reader.
Agent Kirsten Hall
talked about picture book basics. Picture books are written for children ages 4-8. A picture book is structured with a combination of text plus art. The format is a book with 32 to 40 pages—the pages are divisible by 8—although some newer picture books are 90-100 pages!
She gave us 20 tips for writing picture books from editors. Among those were—
Begin at the library or bookstore—ask for their 10 best-selling picture books and read them.
Know your characters and their world.
Know the parts of your story
PUSH the emotion.
—Be Nice and Be Professional (also echoed by Connie Hsu)
Also stressed by both Kirsten and Connie, and among ‘Editors’ Tips’ was—
Check your story’s ‘Readability’
by reading your picture book text out loud—over and over! Twenty times or more in one sitting!
My own author part of the picture book intensive focused on 'Show, Don’t Tell
.' Why 'show?'
We ‘show’ to keep the reader’s attention by making the story more active, putting images in the readers’ minds, and drawing them into the story. We want the reader to ‘feel’ what the main character feels.
What do we want to show?
We show characters, emotions, story, setting and time.
How so we 'show'?
Some ‘tools’ that help ‘show’ instead of ‘tell’ are—
Use your 5 senses
And, since all picture books have a poetic quality, there are also ‘poetic tools,’ which I’ll talk a little bit about in my next blog post. See you there!
October 11, 2015
A teeny-tiny toad in my 8-year old grandson's hand
The Work-in-Progress awards
are given by the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) to assist children’s book writers and illustrators in the publication of a specific project currently not under contract, and they are awarded in several categories. SCBWI recently announced this year’s winners. They are—
Young Adult Fiction
by Erin Stewart
: Tomboy: The Daring Life of Blanche Stuart Scott
by Donna Janell Bowman
Multicultural Fiction or Nonfiction
: Walking on a Tightrope
by Suma Subramaniam
Picture Book Text
: Toad in the Road
by Peggy Archer
Middle Grade Fiction
: Chasing Gold
by Beth Cahn
Chapter Books/Early Fiction
: Haunted Key Mystery: Help! I’m Haunted
by Lorrie-Ann Melnick
The Don Freeman Illustration Grant
: Jacob Grant
: Corinna Luyken
I’m on top of the world because my picture book, TOAD IN THE ROAD, won the award for picture book text. I’m more used to rejections and close calls, than winning, and I was completely caught off guard! So I’m super excited.
The award helps by putting the winning manuscripts in front of editors, thus eliminating the agony of submissions and finding that so many publishers of children’s books are closed to unsolicited manuscripts. No guarantees of acceptance, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
My journey with TOAD began when my husband and I were walking one morning at Quail Ridge Park. It was a quiet morning, and it had rained the night before. As we walked past a wooded area, a little toad sat in the middle of our path. Like many writers, my mind goes off on tangents sometimes, and I started thinking, ‘in the middle of a puddle in the middle of the path….’
As the day went on I started playing with the words in my head until I had to stop and write it down. It came to me in rhyme, and the verse wasn’t coming together very well yet. I was also working on something else at the time. So I put my ‘toad story’ aside. For about a year...
That’s when were walking again at Quail Ridge Park, this time with our 8 year old grandson. He wanted to go off the paved path onto a dirt trail and, of course, we did. It wasn’t long before we discovered hundreds of tiny toads on the trail! My story of the ‘toad in the road’ came rushing back to me, and later that day I got it out from my files and worked with renewed inspiration.
I enjoy writing poetry, and I have two poetry collections published, but TOAD IN THE ROAD is the first picture book that I’ve written in verse. I had lots of fun with the words and toad’s journey, but writing really good verse with really good rhythm is not easy! It took lots of revision, and writing some of the verses over and over. Then making sure it flowed—from beginning and middle to the end. My critique groups liked it, and they offered some very helpful comments.
Finally I finished writing the story, and topped it off with some ‘toad facts’ at the end. Researching the facts about small toads was interesting and fun. I hope that somewhere an editor will connect with my story and want to publish it.
You Can’t Win if You Don’t Try!
Just so you know, this wasn’t the first time that I submitted a manuscript for the WIP grants. I’ve sent a manuscript in several times, and didn’t win. But it was good practice. And I found that there are other perks of submitting besides winning.
The year that I submitted “The Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving Day Feast,” I received an email from one of the judges following the contest, who just happened to be an editor. She invited me to submit my manuscript to her at her publishing house! That editor eventually rejected it, but it boosted my confidence, and TURKEY SURPRISE was later accepted by an editor at Dial.
I submitted FROM DAWN TO DREAMS another year. It didn’t win, but it received a Letter of Merit from SCBWI, and my poetry collection was later published by Candlewick.
So if you’re a member of SCBWI and working on a manuscript that you’re passionate about, start getting it ready to submit in 2016! Write your story, take it to your critique group for their input, and revise your heart away until it’s as good as you can make it! Submissions for 2016 will be accepted starting March 1st. Check the SCBWI website
for more information.
You can read more about the awards and the winning entries by clicking here
or below the SCBWI logo on the left.
October 5, 2015
In May I signed on to “KidLit 411 “Rhyme and Meter”
with Renee’ LaTulippe
. Renee used poems submitted by participants and talked about what worked and what didn’t, and why. She started off with some basic vocabulary.
Meter = stressed and unstressed syllables + metrical feet + metrical lines
A metrical foot = a unit of measurement made up of stressed and unstressed syllables which are repeated in a line of poetry
A metrical line = the number of metrical feet in a single line of poetry
iamb = u/s da Dum
trochee = s/u Dum da
anapest = uu/s da da Dum
dactyl = s/uu Dum da da
spondee = s/s Dum Dum
pyrrhic = u/u da da
truncated foot = leaves off a beat at the end of a line
enjambment = when the end of one line flows into the next—it carries the reader and the story forward
Renee stressed that when writing poetry, you should count stressed feet—NOT syllables.
Rising meters—create an upbeat or happy mood
ends on a stressed beat (iamb and anapest)
Falling meters—create a heavier mood
ends on un-stressed beat (trochee and dactyl)
Types of Rhyme
—also called exact rhyme, full rhyme or true rhyme
1—the last stressed vowel is the same in both words
2—all subsequent sounds are the same
3—consonants preceding the last stressed vowel are different
As In—light/sight groovy/movie crispy/wispy flamingo/bingo
Perfect rhyme is the most common type used in children’s poetry and rhyming picture books.
(also called near rhyme, half rhyme, approximate rhyme, partial rhyme, off rhyme, or oblique rhyme)
1—the sounds are close, but not identical
2—the words often (but not always) contain a repetition of the final consonant or vowel sound
As In—bug/rag slant/vent who/through tougher/suffer
Slant rhyme can be used to good effect in free verse and prose.
It’s best avoided in rhyming children’s poetry and picture books.
Some tips for writing poetry
Rhyme shouldn’t drive the story
1—stick to plot—write it out in prose to test it
2—write a 1-sentence summary of each stanza, in the right order; then read it in order —is it vague or general?
3—use words that move the story forward
4—every word counts and is there for a reason
Ways to Vary Meter
—Tools for Varying your verse
1—enjambment—keeping thoughts flowing from one line into the next
2—Caesura—a pause in the middle of a line so the reader takes a breath
3—Really Specific imagery—to take us into the world of the story
4—Really Specific diction—to give us concrete people and places and events to hold onto
5—Sound devices—to delight the ear—don’t overdo it—don’t create tongue twisters
6—Refrain—use a refrain with a slightly different meter or rhyme scheme (careful!)
7—Variations in meter—subtracting or adding an unstressed beat now and then (careful!)
8—Mixed meter—Do Not Try This At Home unless you know the 4 main meters inside and out, and how they do and do not work together!
The biggest obstacles to publication of rhyming picture books
meter—when the reader stumbles reading it
Renee is a children’s author and poet, and freelance editor. She teaches an online writing course, The Lyrical Language Lab
. You can find details at http://www.nowaterriver.com/the-lyrical-language-lab/. Read more about Renee on her blog, No Water River