Dolphin for a Day – Guest Posting at A Penny and her Jots

Today I am excited to be guest-posting over at Penny Parker Klostermann’s blog – A Penny and Her Jots. Penny has been collaborating with her great-nephew, Landon, on poetry and artwork for a while now, and when she extended an invitation to me and my kids to participate, I knew just what I wanted to write about – dolphins! We’ve had a dolphin craze going on in our house for the better part of a year now. Please stop by Penny’s blog and read!

And the Winner Is…

Wee Lassie coverThank you to everyone who stopped by to comment on my interview with Rebecca Colby about her new picture book, THERE WAS A WEE LASSIE WHO SWALLOWED A MIDGIE. Rebecca so kindly offered to give a copy of the book to one lucky commenter, and the winner is…

Michelle Heindenrich Barnes!!

Congratulations, Michelle! I hope you enjoy the book and the sweet illustrations as much as I did. And thank you so much, Rebecca, for being such a lovely interviewee. I’ll be watching for the release of your second book in 2015!


Callie’s Prize-Winning Potion – A Halloweensie Story

It’s Halloween! And what better way to celebrate this holiday of bite-size treats than by writing a bite-size story. In fact, Susanna Leonard Hill has an entire bagful of these little tidbits over on her blog for her Halloweensie contest. The rules – write a story for children in 100 words or less, using the words cackle, spooky, and black cat. Yes – it’s spine-chilling. But I conquered my fear and brewed up a story. And I was quite honored to have an up-and-coming illustrator working with me. In between school, soccer practice, and pumpkin carving, he provided me with some drawings to bring this story to life.

So grab a bag of your favorite fun-size treats and enjoy the rest of the contest entries with me.

Callie’s Prize-Winning Potion witch1

By Carrie Finison (91 words)

Callie was a witch,

an unaccomplished witch,

who was never any good at being spooky.

When she cast a spell

she’d choke on smoke and smell…

If she tried a curse

the results would be reversed…

Her black cat thought her batty,

and moved to Cincinnati…

and the other witches called her Callie Kooky.

So Callie made a potion,

a green and gloppy lotion,

and she cackled at the notion she’d be scary.

And much to her surprise

she won the Spooky Prize

when that potion made her very, VERY hairy!


Being Busy

It’s nice to be busy. I’ve been busy with life, writing, and reading in the last few months.

Summer was busy with vacations, stay-cations, and explorations. I chased lots of story ideas and even caught some in my butterfly net. A few of them flew away by the time I went to write them down. I’m hoping some will come fluttering back during Picture Book Idea Month in November.

We’ve been busy reading. Old faves like Mike Mulligan by Virginia Lee Burton. New faves like Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger. As my 4-year-old said, we laughed our guts out over that one.

In September, I went to New York and stopped by the Brooklyn Book Festival. My husband came cheerfully along on this little side-excursion to our anniversary trip. It was so much fun to see some of the authors my kids and I have enjoyed so much. Jeff Smith (author of the Bone series) signed a book for my 8-year-old. We met Liniers at the Toon Books booth and he whipped off a little illustration for my 4-year-old. We saw Lois Lowry and Katherine Applegate speak. And Jasper Fforde! And Jarrett Krosoczka!

Now, I’m busy on a work-for-hire contract. I love it when I can get paid to write.

And I’m trying to write something for the Children’s Writer seasonal poetry contest.

And Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest.

And the Highlights Fiction contest.

And revise some picture book stories that have been sitting for way too long now.

What’s keeping you busy these days?

Poetry Friday: At the Beach

This year our family beach vacation included the usual sun, sand, boogie boarding, drippy ice cream cones, games of Uno and Boggle, and something new — poetry night. I loved how seriously our youngest writers took this event.

My 4-year-old daughter and I worked together on her poem — she dictating and I dutifully recording. Now, suddenly shy, she does not want me to post her poem here. I respect the author’s copyright.

My newly-minted 8-year-old, independent in everything, vanished to another room to do his writing and illustrating:

poem_illustrationsI love to bungle in the jungle.
Every day the monkeys play,
but they look for danger in a special way.
Snakes and birds, they love to hide,
lions, jaguars in a pride.
Hippo and crocodile, they live together
by the Nile.
And that is what I have to say,
in the jungle, every day.

Here’s my entry. I had no title, but fortunately one of the 8-year-olds rescued me and suggested “On the Beach with Dad”


Picture Book U. and Other Summer Endeavors

Summer’s here. How do I know? Because I’ve had it on my list to write this blog post for the past 3 weeks, and haven’t gotten to it until now. Oh yeah, and it has been about 95 degrees for a week straight.

Besides hydrating frequently, here are a few summer writing activities I’m up to.

PBU participantThe first is Pam Calvert’s Picture Book University. This is a great (free!) mini-workshop on picture books by the author of Princess Peepers. We’re three posts in, and already it’s clear she has so much knowledge to share, and the pace and assignments are do-able on my “relaxed” summer schedule. The latest post, on character-driven picture books, came at a great time as it is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately.

I’m also trying to catch up on some reading. Two books on my craft shelf this summer are Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston, and The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry. And of course, with every library visit I make my raid on the ‘new books’ shelf to keep up with new picture book releases. Summer offers plenty of time for read-alouds.

In June, I attended two free seminars given at Lesley University as part of their MFA in Creative Writing program. For anyone in the Boston area who is interested, they’ll be offering two more in January.

Mostly, though, as I spend time hanging out with my family, I try to look at summer as a productive ‘idea generation’ time. I just have to remember to bring along my notebook!

Giveaway Winner & Sunshine Awards

ATCGW coverHow did we get to the middle of May? May has been full of promises (mine included) and seemingly lacking in time. So before any more time slips away from me, I want to take care of a few housekeeping details here on my blog.

FIRST – thank you so much to everyone who commented and shared your ideas for celebrating poetry month. In honor of the month, I am giving away a copy of the poetry anthology AND THE CROWD GOES WILD: A GLOBAL GATHERING OF SPORTS POEMS – signed by me and several others whose work appears in the anthology. And the winner (selected by is…


Damon is a fellow member of 12×12 and blogs at SevenAcreSky. Congratulations, Damon! Email me your address and I’ll send you the book.

sunshineawardSECOND – a while ago (OK, in January) not one but TWO kind people awarded my blog the Sunshine Award. Thank you so much to Tina Cho and Laura Sassi for highlighting my blog. Here are the award details:

This prize is given to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.”  As an award winner, here are some suggestions to follow for this Award.

1.  Thank the person who gave this award in the beginning part of a post about it.
2.  Answer the questions below about your favorite things.
3.  Pass the award on to fabulous bloggers who bring sunshine into your life, link their blogs, and let them know you have awarded them in your post

These are some of my favorite things:
Favorite Color – do I have to choose? I’m partial to plummy purples, rusty oranges, blue-greens.
Favorite Animal – recovering horse-lover, but with my cat sitting on my lap right now, I have to say ‘cats.’
Favorite Number – 17
Favorite Drink – limeade
Facebook or Twitter – Facebook; don’t have the mental bandwidth for Twitter although (factoid) the founder of Twitter went to my high school
Your Passions – writing, reading, cooking
Giving or getting presents – both
Favorite Day – Sundays – I love how they stretch on and on
Favorite Flowers – lilacs

I’m passing the award along to two bloggers whom I feel fortunate to have gotten to know over the last year. They are both quietly doing fascinating things on their blogs and I am drawn in every time they post.

Lightbulb Books by Hannah Holt. You have to check out her recent “Newton’s Laws of Cake” posts.

bildebok by Cathy Ballou Mealey. I started following her when she wrote a poem series based on sculptures at the Decordova museum, an outdoor sculpture park near my house. Every poem she posts is a little gem.