SCBWI – Crystal Kite Award – I voted!

Are you a member of SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)?

If yes, did you receive a message to VOTE for the Crystal Kite Award (#SCBWI20CK).


What is the Crystal Kite Award?

The Crystal Kite Award is a peer-given award sponsored by SCBWI to recognize great books from regional divisions around the world.

View the 2019 Crystal Kite Award winners here.

GOOD LUCK to all the authors entered. So many wonderful children’s books!


Join STORYSTORM – Create 30 ideas for children’s books in the month of January

StorystormTara Lazar, children’s book author, came up with a great way to start every new year. It’s called, “STORYSTORM.” The concept is simple, it’s free and all that is required is that anyone who signs up for “STORYSTORM” comes up with 30 book ideas in 31 days.

Good news, this is stress free, because you are not held accountable for showing anyone your 30 ideas. You are the only one that knows if you did it or not. However, by signing up, you can join the discussions on Facebook, read posts by other authors, agents, editors, etc.

Lazar only does this in January. Last January, I found out about it, but it was at the end of the month, so I missed the boat. This year though, I am right on time.

Let the story ideas BEGIN…

Writing: Is your brain on overload?

Some days, we are write (I mean right.) on target with our writing goals and other days, it seems we will never find the last piece to the puzzle.

Brain is confusedI’m writing my children’s book and my brain is on overload. Too many wires out there and they are not connecting. If you are a writer or a student working on a term paper or thesis, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

We’re trying to focus, so that our writing path is clear, but our mind cannot quiet down and concentrate!

I know this is when we are told to “meditate.” I’ve tried that. My brain does quiet down for 5 minutes, then it is back to brain chaos.

This made me think of inventors. Can you imagine the patience they have to have when they keep reaching a dead end! I’m sure Thomas Edison banged his fist on the table many times when he was inventing the light bulb!

The key is visualizing the end result. Keeping our mind on the prize!

So, TODAY is about finding a break through!

Seattle -> London, a Librarian sets up an Elementray School Library (books for children)


As I am writing a children’s picture book, I have to do research. While my degree is in Elementary Education, I went into business after College. I know, you’re thinking, WHY did you do that. Good question.

Just kidding, it was not lack of effort. Life happens — I moved to California to get married, it was February, I sent out 200 applications for teaching positions, took the CBEST test for licensing, but could not find a job. Nothing! Teaching was not my destiny at the time.

So, I found a job as a Technical Writer. I know, again, you’re thinking, “HOW did that happen?” A twist of fate. I was terrified on my first day. I knew nothing about technical writing. Turns out, I did not need to be technical. I needed to be “smart” and ask the engineers a lot of questions, so I could turn their scribbles into a User Manual. I enjoyed working with the engineers. My biggest question was, “What did you mean by this?

Fast forward to 2015, my heart was “still” with elementary education. I was getting closer to following my passion of writing a children’s book, I had made it to the “research stage.”

One day, clicking here and there, I came across a wonderful Blog called, “LibrarianArika.” I needed to better understand the children’s picture book market AND every week Ms Arika was sharing books she had read, giving her review and sharing lesson plan ideas too.


My heart sunk. Did that mean Ms Arika was going to quit writing?

No, she’s back stronger than ever!

Always wanting to teach, she decided to Skype with her old classroom in Seattle, so they could see London (virtual field trip). She wrote a detailed post on that called, “Bringing Literature to Life with Skype.” She used the Harry Potter books for this.

Ms Arika found a Librarian job in her children’s International school in London. In this post, she shares how she was setting up the Library for the start of school, “Week 1 in a new Library: the behind-the-scenes work.” You’ll be amazed at how much she had to do, I was.

I’m excited that she is back! She’s an excellent Librarian and I know her students will one day say, “Remember when Ms Arika read (insert book name) !” What a great feeling that will be!

I still remember my 4th grade teacher, Mrs Landrum, reading “Charlotte’s Web.” Teachers/Librarians have a big impact on our lives! A big thank you to ALL of them!

Singapore: The Runaway Palate publishes children’s book: “The House on Palmer Road”


Photo courtesy of “The Runaway Palate.”

Join me in Congratulating a fellow Blogger, Ms. Sim Ee Waun from Singapore, of “The Runaway Palate,” on publishing a children’s book with her mother, Madam Si-Hoe S.S..

Her mother, who is 83 years old, is a first time author. This is fantastic news, very inspiring! Proof that age does not hinder us from pursuing new and exciting goals in life.

The mother/daughter team wrote, “The House on Palmer Road,” which is a true story based on the mother’s life growing up with her 9 brothers and sisters on Palmer Road in colonial Singapore, late 1930s, before WWII and the Japanese Occupation.

The book is geared toward children ages 7-11 years old. It’s a chapter book consisting of 15 stories, where 8 year old Sing brings us on her adventures around Palmer Road and Chinatown with her siblings, allowing us to share in the fun and learn some history along the way. I love these types of historical books. The illustrator, Lim An-ling, has done a wonderful job si-hoe-ss-and-sim-ee-wauncreating illustrations in black/white that capture Sing’s adventures.

Right now, the book is being sold in Singapore. There is a website where the book can be purchased, I’m hoping to find this book very soon in America. This will be a great addition to any teacher’s classroom!

Please help me in spreading the word about this new and exciting book.

Great job Madam Si Hoe-S.S. & Ms. Sim Ee Waun!

Learning the Chinese Characters in a FUN way…

learning-chinese-charactersAre you trying to learn Chinese and you are overwhelmed with how many characters you would need to learn? While there are 50,000 characters, a Chinese friend told me that for basic reading I would only need to learn about 3,000 of them. My head was swimming in a sea of characters, only need to learn 3,000?  I had a thought that training to climb Mt. Everest might be easier.

As destiny would have it, I finally had my first introduction to Chinese characters this weekend. I stopped off at the Amazon bookstore. As I am writing a children’s picture book, I decided to do some research. I sauntered over to the children’s book section. I looked at ALL sorts of books, not many caught my attention even though some had been on the “best sellers” list. For me, the illustrations for many of the books were way too busy. What happened to simplicity, I thought?

THEN, I took a few steps to right, looked up to the top shelf and a beautifully illustrated book caught my eye called, “The Pet Dragon,” by Christoph Niemann. It was very sweet and innocent looking and who doesn’t love a story with a dragon! As I opened the book the author/illustrator wrote a message that he had been in China and learned his first Chinese characters there. Excited with what he learned, he wanted to share this with us, his result is this picture book.


learning-chinese-characters-page-3He cleverly writes his story teaching us Chinese characters by adding them into the illustrations, so we can visually remember the Chinese characters in a humorous way. Here I show you a few pages from the book, so you can better understand what I mean.

This is lovely book. I would highly recommend buying it as a gift. I could see children wanting to read it over and over as they practice writing Chinese characters. Well done, Mr. Niemann!

Coyote versus the Fox

imageMy brother took this photo of a coyote in his backyard. Beautiful picture!

When I saw the photo, it made me think of a few children’s stories, i.e Little Red Riding Hood, Aesop’s Fables: The Fox and the Grapes and Pinocchio. However, I realized those stories use a “fox” as a character and not a “coyote,” but I thought how similar these animals look. So, I found a photo of a fox to compare to the coyote, you can see as well.

I am in the process of writing a children’s book and it seems that the animals most used are mice, bears, foxes and frogs.. not a coyote very often and if it is used it seems to be in a story related to the Southwest. Although, now the coyote has ventured to normal neighborhoods like our small town in Indiana.

imageAs the Universe would have it, I was reading the WSJ the other day and there was an article about coyotes by David Roberts called, “The Original Bolshevik.” It did not paint a pretty picture of the coyote. I enjoyed the article as it gave a little history lesson on who the coyote is and where he has come today.

I smiled when Roberts said in the past, the settlers would “fear” the howl, whine and chatter of the coyote and now when we hear the howling on a camping trip, we are not afraid, but more interested in catching a glimpse of this animal with the vision of the moon behind him, which is the picture etched in our minds. I guess it would be like catching a glimpse of a bat or a vampire… we want to see “what they are up to” in the dark of the night, from a distance, of course, so we can write about it!

In my Google search I read that coyotes/foxes do not normally hurt or eat humans, but they have been venturing toward neighborhoods in search of food. Many people leave cat/dog food out and they like it. They also eat squirrels, rabbits, mice, rats, insects, fish, frogs, berries and different fruits.

The howling is a group exercise I read and a form of communication between them, but nothing more and they are sneaky and smart with a keen sense of smell. I think this is why we find them intriguing, we just don’t know what they are “up to.”

For example, when I lived in Chicago the media was in uproar when a “coyote” walked into a Quizno’s sandwich shop during the day and went to lie down in the cooler where they had the cold drinks. That caught everyone by surprise.

I told you… they are sneaky!