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Peggy's Pages Blog 

Picture Book Walk at Quail Ridge Park

My husband and I like to walk. One of our favorite places to go walking is at Quail Ridge Park in Wentzville, Missouri. It sports a beautiful paved walking trail which is about three miles long if you go from the parking lot to the end of the loop. You can make it longer or shorter depending on how you do it.

Our walks take us through sunny and shady areas, past several playgrounds (one featuring a sculpture of two children and a rabbit), a dog park, and one fairly challenging uphill climb. But one of the most beautiful and serene areas is over a bridge and around a small lake. We’ve seen turtles, ducks and squirrels, a snake, fish, and once a deer that crossed our path. It’s peaceful and inspiring, and good exercise.

But there was an added dimension this summer with the posting of the pages from Peter Brown’s picture book, The Curious Garden. On the first board was the title page from the book, along with the following message:

Welcome to the Picture Book Walk at Quail Ridge Park, a partnership between the St. Charles county Parks Department and the St. Charles City-County Library District. You’re about to read The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and author of books for children. While you walk around the trail, enjoy the story of Liam, a young boy who turns a dreary industrial area into a beautiful garden. Savor the story and its lovely illustrations as you enjoy being in the beauty of nature.”

For a children’s author, what could be better than combining a picture book about a garden with nature itself!

"The picture book walk begins at the paved trail below the Quail Ridge Lodge and wraps around the picturesque lake. The nearly one-mile-long walk features 17 numbered signs which encompass all 32 colorful pages of Brown's popular children's book. The walk was designed for families with young children in mind, and is convenient for strollers and bicycles to easily maneuver around the lakeside path." --from the St. Charles County Parks department website

"The picture book walk promotes the love of reading with the enjoyment of the outdoors," says Parks Director Bettie Yahn-Kramer. "It's a free, festive, educational program that appeals to all ages."

If you live in the Wentzville area, west of St. Louis, you can still enjoy this outdoor experience which will be in place at the park through August 31. Quail Ridge Park opens daily at 7 a.m. and closes a half hour after dusk.

The Curious Garden, written and illustrated by Peter Brown, is a NY Times bestseller, an ALA Notable Children’s Book (2010), and received the E.B. White Read-Aloud Picture Book Award (2010) and the Children’s Choice Illustrator of the Year Award (2010). Visit Peter Brown’s website for more information about the author/illustrator and his books.

The Curious Garden by Peter Brown, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 2009,
ISBN 9780316015479  Read More 
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Frozen Tag—freezing parts of your book to take a better look

Do you remember playing frozen tag when you were a kid? If you were ‘IT’ anyone that you tagged would have to stand ‘frozen' in the position that they were in when you tagged them until someone else tagged them again.

Sometimes I play ‘frozen tag’ in my writing. I ‘freeze’ words or sentences, or even whole paragraphs. I do this by changing the color of those words or sentences to white or a light gray. It essentially removes them from my view, so that I can see how the story would read without them.

Then I ask myself: “Do I really need those extra words? Will the story make sense without them, or are they absolutely necessary? Do they add something to the story, like humor, emotion, or some detail that helps the reader see the character, setting, or something else, in his mind?

Or do those extra words take the reader away from the story, even for a moment?

Remember, I write picture books! If you’re a novel writer, your frozen sections will probably be much longer!

Picture book authors usually have a ‘picture’ in their minds of what the scenes in their book will look like, which can make it hard to leave those details out. But we need to remember to leave space for the illustrator’s creativity as well. If we do that, we’re often delightfully surprised!

If you’re sure that the ‘frozen’ words in your manuscript need to be left in the story, then you can un-freeze them by changing the color back to black. You might also want to consider if there’s a way to ‘show’ the same thing in fewer words.

But if you’re satisfied that your story holds up without those frozen sections, just highlight them and hit the ‘delete’ key!  Read More 
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ALA Convention—Benefits of Attending as an Author

Authors, Karen Kulinski and Cynthea Liu with Peep (& Wobby), from WOBBY & PEEP
At the end of June I was excited to be able to attend the American Library Association (ALA) convention in Chicago. I was not a featured author, and I didn’t attend any of the ticketed events. But $35 will get you a one-day floor pass to the exhibits with 692 exhibitors, and 487 Meet the Author opportunities!

ALA is geared mostly to librarians and teachers, but if you’re in any way connected to children’s books, there are other perks to being there. So with ‘Author’ on our identification badges, my friend Karen and I walked the halls of McCormick’s Place on Saturday, June 29th. Here are some things that an author can get from the ALA experience, even if you’re not one of the many authors there signing books.

Connecting with your publishers. Top on my list was to stop at Candlewick’s booth, and Penguin and Dial Books for Young Readers. At Candlewick’s booth I enjoyed re-connecting and talking with Anne, who encouraged me to submit one of my manuscripts to my editor there. (It’s on its way, Anne!). Although I wasn’t able to find a familiar face at Dial this time, I stopped by to say hello.

Connecting with other publishers. I made stops at a number of other booths that publish different kinds of materials for children and picked up some flyers and websites to look at later. Some were children’s magazines, which had sample magazines to take home and read to see what types of material that they publish. Another was the name and e-mail of an editor at a publishing company that publishes non-fiction.

Free books and samplers. Some publishers have advanced reading copies (ARCs) or uncorrected proofs to hand out to visitors. Some are autographed by the authors. There are also audio and dvd samplers. I had to keep reminding myself to be selective, and not to take more than I could carry! Among the several that I did bring home were an uncorrected sampler of IF YOU WERE A CHOCOLATE MUSTACHE by J. Patrick Lewis, and a chapter sampler from the book, STUBBY THE WAR DOG, autographed by the author Ann Bausum. Publishers Weekly and Book Links also had free copies of their publications to hand out.

Books to purchase and have personally autographed by the authors. This is something that’s hard for me to pass up, and I did get a couple books for my collection—WOOBY & PEEP BY Cynthea Liu, and STEAM TRAIN, DREAM TRAIN by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld, a follow up to GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT, CONSTRUCTION SITE.

Connecting and re-connecting with other authors. Though I live in Missouri now, I keep the ties to good friends from Indiana and Illinois. Karen Kulinski and I have been writing buddies for many years, and it was great to spend the day together traveling through the aisles. We met up with another member of our Indiana skype critique group, Sharon Waller Biggs, and had lunch with two wonderful authors from Illinois, Esther Hershenhorn and Carmella Martino. I got a peek at Esther’s new book coming out soon, TXTNG MAMA, TXTNG BABY at the Sleeping Bear booth. I was sorry to have missed Rebecca Kai Dotlich’s book signing later in the day, but did see Tracy Richardson from Indiana and got a signed copy of the ARC for her new book, THE FIELD.

…and more. Getting a taste of what’s coming in children’s books by browsing the books showcased by different publishers. Making new friends by asking questions at the booths, and standing in lines to have books autographed. New ideas that come from being around children’s books. Drawings for books and more. And always, bookmarks, catalogs, and promotional items like train whistles, and stress balls that look like apples, available for taking. And books for sale.

And I learned that Book Expo America (BEA) is schedule to return to Chicago in 2016. See you then, Chicago!  Read More 
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Happy Birthday, USA!

Happy Independence Day to everyone! May we continue to enjoy the freedoms that God granted us.

Check out the Blog Hop interviews this week!

July 3rd -- Lori Galaske

July 5thSue Bradford Edwards: One Writer's Journey
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Blog Hop Interview—Tag! You’re It!

I was invited by my friend, Cynthia Reeg, to participate in a “blog hop interview.” Cynthia sent me some interview questions, which I answer here on my blog. Following my answers, I tag 3 other writers who will, in turn, answer questions on their blogs next week. It’s been fun checking out the Blog Hops to see what other children’s authors have posted!

Cynthia posted her answers to the questions at her blog, What’s New With Cynthia Reeg on June 26th. If you like, you can leave a comment on her blog and tell her that you connected to her through my link here!

Here are my answers to the questions that I chose from the list:

1. What are you working on right now?
I have several projects going on that I switch between when I need to put one down for awhile. One is a picture book with ogres in it, another is a non-fiction picture book about animals with some unusual things about their teeth.

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
Most picture books that I have seen about ogres show them turning out to be cuddly and friendly. In my book, humor keeps the ogres from being too scary, and the child in the story uses his wits to save the day. My animal teeth book is a combination of poems and facts—and the teeth facts are such fun!

3. Why do you write what you do?
I love being a part of a young child’s world. Maybe I just don’t want to grow up! I’ve always worked with kids, as a nurse and now as a writer. It seems the perfect place to be.

I love interesting facts, rhyming poetry, and humor. I try to make my readers smile. Things don’t usually come out of my mouth as funny, but I love it when something I write comes out that way.

4. How does your writing process work?
When I started writing, I had five (then six) young children who kept me on my toes. For lack of time, I did a lot of thinking about the characters and the plot in my head before putting anything down on paper. I still do that. I kind of need to have that first line or two in my head before I can move forward, even though it may change later. I don’t outline, but I do have an idea of where the story is going before I start. I also re-write a lot, and listen to suggestions from other children’s writers in my critique groups.

Finding time to write can still be a challenge. My kids are grown, but now I have grandkids who are fun to be around. My day includes time to write, no excuses! Although some days I have more time than others.

Thank you for the blog-tag, Cindy! Please check out Cindy’s answers to her questions at What’s New With Cynthia Reeg .

In addition, I am tagging the following three children's authors. Make sure to check out their blog posts on the following dates:

Posting Monday, July 8th—Jeanie Franz Ransom

Posting Monday, July 8th—Diana Jenkins: DJ’s Thoughts

Posting Wednesday, July 10th—Margo Dill's Read These Books and Use Them!

Tag! You’re It! I can’t wait to see who’s next!  Read More 
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