Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere./
I want it more than I can tell./"

~Belle from the Beauty & the Beast song Belle

Hoping this is what 2012 holds!

Monday, December 12, 2011

December 12th~ Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.
And have yourself
A merry little Christmas now!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 11th~ The Christmas Song

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way;
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
Merry Christmas
 to you!"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 10th~ Oh What a Merry Christmas Day!

Here's a little known favorite of mine from the opening of Mickey's A Christmas Carol, which I loved as a kid and still adore today!

"Oh, what a merry christmas day
Hear the joyous music play
Bells are ringing choirs singing

Oh, what a merry christmas day
sharing the season of good cheer
with the ones we hold so dear
friendly faces, warm embraces
Oh, what a merry christmas day

snowflakes covered country lanes
Jack Frost painted window panes
twinkling stars on christmas trees
oh, what happy memories

gathered 'round a fireplace
fam'lies filled with love and grace
from peaceful ember's glow
blessed Yuletide spirits grow
grow and grow grow and grow

Joy to the children far and near
what a won'drous time of year
isn't is just grand to say
merry, merry christmas
merry, merry christmas
Oh, what a merry christmas day!"

Friday, December 9, 2011

December 9th~ All I Want for Christmas is You

"I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 8th~ Jingle Bell Rock

"Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells swing and jingle bells ring
Snowing and blowing up bushels of fun
Now the jingle hop has begun

Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock
Jingle bells chime in jingle bell time
Dancing and prancing in Jingle Bell Square
In the frosty air.

What a bright time, it's the right time
To rock the night away
Jingle bell time is a swell time
To go gliding in a one-horse sleigh

Giddy-up jingle horse, pick up your feet
Jingle around the clock
Mix and a-mingle in the jingling feet
That's the jingle bell,
That's the jingle bell,
That's the jingle bell rock!"

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December 7th~ I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm

"The snow is snowing and the wind is blowing
But I can weather the storm!
What do I care how much it may storm?
For I've got my love to keep me warm

I can't remember a worse december
Just watch those icicles form!
Oh, what do I care if icicles form?
Oh, I've got my love to keep me warm

Off with my overcoat, off with my glove
I need no overcoat, I'm burning with love!
My heart's on fire, the flame grows higher
So I will weather the storm!
What do I care how much it may storm?
Oh, I've got my love to keep me warm!"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

December 6th~ White Christmas

"I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
Just like the ones I used to know
Where the treetops glisten,
and children listen
To hear sleigh bells in the snow

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white!"

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 5th~ That's what Christmas Means to Me

"Candles burnin low, lots of mistletoe
Lots of snow and ice, everywhere we go
Choirs singing carols, right outside my door

All these things and more
(all these things and more)
That's what Christmas means to me, my love
Christmas means to me my love
Christmas means to me my love
Christmas means to me, my love
Christmas means to meeee, my love (oh!)"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 4th~ Silver Bells

"City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear

Silver bells, silver bells
It's Christmastime in the city
Ring a ling, hear them sing
Soon it will be Christmas day!"

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3rd~ Winter Wonderland

"Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight
Walking in a winter wonderland!"

Friday, December 2, 2011

December 2nd~ Sleigh Ride

"Just hear those sleigh bells jingle-ing
Ring ting tingle-ing too
Come on, it's lovely weather
For a sleigh ride together with you!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holiday Cheer in December~ Holly, Jolly Christmas!

Happy December! The Christmas Season is officially upon us, and I could not be more excited! Yes, I am a crazy Christmas lover, and to celebrate I will be posting some lyrics from my favorite holiday songs for the first twelve days of December.  Enjoy!

"Have a holly, jolly Christmas, and in case you didn't hear, Oh by golly have a holly, jolly Christmas this year!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fabien Flies (kinda) High

  Forgot to mention a little piece of good news I received a couple of months ago.  I entered my story, Fabien the Circus Flyer, in SCBWI's Barbara Karlin Picture Book Grant Contest for unpublished authors.  And while, unfortunately I didn't win, they did send me a very special Letter of Merit, as the judges "felt my proposal deserved extra recognition for its promise and creativity"! My name was even printed in the SCBWI's monthly magazine, so that was a bit exciting.  It's not a huge deal, but sometimes even the smallest victories bring much needed motivation and encouragement.

"Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself."

~William Faulkner

Library of the Early Mind

  If you're looking to be inspired to really step up your craft, then find this movie!  This month's SCBWI meeting showed a screening of the documentary Library of the Early Mind and I love, love, loved it.  Listening to your favorite authors who you've idolized since childhood talk about their work, is just the best medicine for the ails of writer's block (procrastination) that I know of.  The deeper meaning that lies beneath some of the most endearing, fascinating, and spellbinding children's books throughout history will make you want to push your own writing that much further, to reach for heights you didn't think possible, to dive for depths you didn't know existed, to make your work truly great. 
Interviews include the amazing and magical likes of:

- Chris Van Allsburg (“Polar Express”)
- Daniel Handler (aka "Lemony Snicket")
- Gregory Maguire ("Wicked")
- Lois Lowry (“The Giver”)
- Jarrett J. Krosoczka (author, “Lunch Lady”)
- R. L. Stine (“Goosebumps”)
- Natalie Babbitt (“Tuck Everlasting”)
- Roger Sutton (Editor, The Horn Book)
- Jeff Kinney (“Diary of a Wimpy Kid”)
- Jane Yolen (author of more than 300 books)
- Norton Juster (“The Phantom Tollbooth”)
- David Small (“Stitches”)
- Lane Smith (illustrator, “Stinky Cheese Man”)
- Sarah Stewart (author, “The Money Tree”)
- Leslèa Newman (author, “Heather Has Two Mommies”)
- Brian Selznick (“Hugo Cabret”)
- Arthur A. Levine (editor, “Harry Potter”)
- Adam Gopnik (essayist, The New Yorker)
- Jack Gantos (author, “Rotten Ralph” series)
- Richard Michelson (author, “Across The Alley”)
- Mo Willems (author and illustrator)
- Françoise Mouly, (RAW and Toons Books)
- Peter H. Reynolds (author and illustrator)
- Mary Jane Begin (author and illustrator)
- Grace Lin (author and illustrator)
- Brian Pinkney (author and illustrator)
- M. T. Anderson (“Octavian Nothing”)
- Nancy Garden (author “Annie On My Mind”)
- Padma Venkatraman (author, “Climbing The Stairs”)
- Mary Downing Hahn (author, “Deep and Dark and Dangerous”)
- Leonard Marcus (children’s book historian and critic)
- Jerry Pinkney (author and illustrator, “The Lion and the Mouse”)
- Carolyn Coman (author, “What Jamie Saw”)
- Stephen Roxburgh (publisher, namelos)
- Anita Silvey (author, “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children's Book”)
- Mary Ann Hoberman (Children’s Poet Laureate)

To learn more, please visit the website:

Where does the time go?

I know I haven't written in FOREVER!!
I have no excuses, the time just slips away. Plus I started another blog for my wedding, so yes, I have been cheating on this one. I am so sorry! I'm back now and will try my best to remain faithful.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"It's better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe.  Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life."

~Sophia Loren

Friday, July 8, 2011

 “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

St. Augustine

viva Espana!

I'm off to Spain July 9th- Aug 6th, backpacking with my fiance all over the country, even into Morocco and Mallorca! I'm so excited I don't know how I'll get any sleep tonight :)  It's been a slow writing summer, so I'm bringing a brand new travel journal to fill.  Hope to post whenever I can...


Monday, June 27, 2011

Nellie's a big sis!

Welcome to the world sweet Faucett girl!

Margaret Mae Faucett born June 26th 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Best things about summer:

Lemonade stands
smell of fresh cut grass
outdoor concerts
the popsicle man
the beach
the Blue Angels
outdoor movies
bike rides
tire swings
berry picking

add to the list!

waterfront adirondack chairs at sunset
shooting stars
flag cake
slip n' slide

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Other Award winners...

  Local author Bonny Becker and her book A Bedtime for Bear has been awarded the inaugural SCBWI 2011 Crystal Kite Member Choice Award for our Western Washington division.  The Crystal Kite Awards recognize great books from the 70 SCBWI regions around the world.  The awards are chosen by other children's book writers and illustrators, which makes them the only peer-given awards in publishing for young readers!
  Congratulations Bonny and her ever-lovable Bear (and Mouse, too of course)!

The Best Books for Kids Award Winners

  Last night at Library Bistro Page Ahead held their 2nd Annual Best Books for Kids Awards celebration.  The judges included Rene Kirkpatrick from Third Place Books, Cecelia McGowan of the King County Library System, Marilyn Carpenter who came over from Eastern Washington University where she was a Professor of Literacy, Stefanie Malone from KCTS, and Jacki Crowther the Book Program Manager from Page Ahead.

  And the awards go to...

Best Read Aloud
*We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
Mo Willems so funny, as always! 

Best Non Fiction
*How to Clean a Hippopotamus:  A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Great look into animal relationships in nature

Best Multicultural
*Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier
A beautiful tribute

Best Book
*The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester by Barbara O'Connor
Fun summer read

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

“In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.”
Albert Camus

Words to encourage us Seattleites, especially on this rainy June day

Page Ahead's Best Books for Kids Awards Tonight!

Best Books for Kids Awards
On Wednesday June 15, 2011, Page Ahead will announce the winners of the 2011 Best Books for Kids Awards. The awards celebration will take place at the Library Bistro, in downtown Seattle, from 6pm to 8pm.
You will meet the judges and hear their observations firsthand when you join us at this fun event. Hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served. There is no charge to attend the event.

The Best Books for Kids awards celebrate the talent of the authors and illustrators without whom Page Ahead could not fulfill its mission of giving quality new books to children in need. We hope the Best Books for Kids Awards will serve as a guide to teachers, librarians and parents in making quality literature accessible to children.

This year's nominees are:

Read Aloud:
LMNO Peas, by local author Keith Baker; We are in a Book! by Mo Willems; Bink and Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; A Sick day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead; and The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester, by Barbara O'Connor.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships, by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page; Yucky Worms, by Vivian French; The Bat Scientists, by Mary Kay Carson; Growing Patterns: Fibonacci Numbers in Nature, by Sarah C. Campbell and Lizards by Nic Bishop

Dear Primo, a Letter to My Cousin, by Duncan Tonatiuh; Chalk, by Bill Thomson; Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, by Laban Carrick Hill; Of Thee I Sing, by Barak Obama; Big Red Lollipop, by Rukhsana Khan

Our judges for this year's awards are experts in children's literature, drawn fro across Washington State: Rene Kirkpatrick of Third Place Books, Seattle; Cecilia McGowan, children's services coordinator of King County Library System; Marilyn Carpenter, professor of literacy, Eastern Washington University and author of The Children's Book Compass Blog; and Stefanie Malone, community outreach manager at KCTS television, Seattle.

For more information please visit http://www.pageahead.org/news.php

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

“Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you.  And all you can do is go where they can find you.”

~Winnie the Pooh

arrrrrgggghhhhh I have not been writing or blogging lately at all! I am in need of some major motivation...


Monday, April 25, 2011

other big news...

My boyfriend of nearly 5 years proposed on Friday at Golden Gardens at sunset.

I said yes :)


It's been a while...

  I haven't posted in a while and I feel so guilty! Especially because a lot has been happening! The other weekend I attended my very first writer's conference. For two full days at the SCBWI Western WA 20th Annual writing conference I attended breakout sessions, listened to keynote speakers, mingled with fellow writers and illustrators, and even met a published author or two.  It was an awesome experience and I am so glad that I went and did it on my own. 
  Here are some of my favorite pieces of advice/ helpful reminders that I took away:
Story comes from what you know, what you feel and from what you can imagine
Ignore any prohibitive thing
Let kids embrace their weirdness
Your work should melt the editor's face off they love it so much
Write from your heart, not to a trend
Take the time to make your work Great
Work harder
Enter contests! Win awards! Get your work out there
Revise, make your work better, always be evolving and learning and improving
Write because you love it, surround yourself with what you love and draw inspiration from it
Make your work meaningful
Leave your mark on the world

  I can't wait to one day attend the national SCBWI conferences in NY and LA. The inspiration and motivation I drew from this one conference makes it all worth while.
Now, I gotta get to work!

Me with the awesome author/illustrator Jesse Joshua Watson and his inspring book Hope for Haiti

Me and the wonderful Peggy King Anderson, SCBWI WWA's first ever recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.  I have taken her class, The Magic of Writing for Children three times and hope to enroll again soon. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Earth Day, Everyday

  Let's honor upcoming Earth Day, April 22, and try to honor our Earth everyday!  I can't wait to check out Patrick McDonnell's picture book about the young Jane Goodall, Me...Jane.  Goodall reminds us that even young people can help to create "a better place for people, animals, and the environment." 

  What are some of your favorite environmentally friendly children's books?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Poem of the Day...

Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy National Poetry Month
Happy Birthday Dr. Maya Angelou!

Quite possibly my favorite sentence ever comes from the title of Maya Angelou's biography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.  The image evoked by these simple words strung together is so hauntingly beautiful, so wonderfully moving, so incredibly uplifting even in its sorrow, that ever since I first heard it, I have been captivated by it.  Something about birds in song, gets me every time. Which probably explains why one of my alltime favorite songs is "Songbird" as sung by Eva Cassidy.  And why birds often appear in my writng...

Here is part of the poem that inspired the title of Maya Angelou's book:

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some favorite memories...

Me and my sister, Jennifer playing dress-up

                                                                 Messy Jessie

Ahhh the 80's

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"'Upside-down is good for ideas,' Mabel says to Jack."
~Mabel of Mabel One and Only

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Inspiration Wednesday...

  Lupe Fiasco's song Superstar has a line in it that always gets me motivated to keep pushing myself in my writing:

"The world brought me to my knees
What have you brung you?
Did you improve on the design?
Did you do something new?"

Doing something new can sometimes feel impossible when it comes to writing picture books.  I mean, how can there possibly be anything new to say about bears??  But still authors find a way. This year's SCBWI Crystal Kite Award finalists for WWA alone include 3 picture books about yes, bears!
Ingenuity in writing is all about twisting the boundaries of creativity, testing the limits of your imagination and trying to see your world upside-down, topsy-turvey, from innovative new perspectives.    What can you bring to the writing world that is uniquely yours?
Your voice, your art, your vision.
So bring it!

If you need some creative inspiration I say revert back to your favorite childhood activities~

try finger painting, the messier the better; or mold something out of clay; jump on a trampoline; ride a bike; skip; sing out loud; DANCE; build a fort; go fly a kite; just do something FUN and unexpected, get yourself out of your comfort zone and let the creative juices flow...

Monday, March 21, 2011


"And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was greater than the risk it took to bloom."
 ~Anais Nin

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inspiration Wednesday...

  This poem was forwarded to me from the wonderful Tina Hoggatt (http://tinahoggatt.wordpress.com/, and twitter @tinahoggatt), and in honor of her Inspiration Wednesdays I wanted to re-post it here.  It was written by a survivor of the disaster in Japan.  Our hearts go out to the country that has suffered so much recently.

Carry on Living
Facing overwhelming power of nature, we lost ourselves.
Then, do not go against it.
Stay Lost.
You crossed the boundary to the place where you can’t find any single word.
But there you will find “something” which you couldn’t find if you were not
It’s not just nice words.
It’s not just a despair.
Everything has returned to sea and dust.
Stay feeling lost, grieving.
This may be the good reason for something to
We have lost so many, but something will come into the world from Here.
Stay in this moment.
Do not overstrain yourself.
so that you will catch the sign.

Wake up in the morning and get a breath of fresh air.
You will strongly realize that you are given your life today.
At the end of the day, take a breath.
You feel safe returning home.
Carry on living.
Live in Now.
(Translated by Gin)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


 p.s. you can now follow me on Twitter @jessmareedudik
guess I'll actually have to start tweeting!

  Exciting news!  For my manuscript consultation during the SCBWI Western WA conference I will be meeting with author Rosanne Parry.  When I came across her website, I was delighted to learn that her dream as a child was to be a circus flyer- what a perfect fit for the story I submitted, Fabien the Circus Flyer! It just felt like such a good sign that our meeting was meant to be.  She is the author of Heart of a Shepherd, Daddy's Home, and the upcoming Second Fiddle.  Check out her website http://www.rosanneparry.com/  and you can follow her on Twitter @RosanneParry

One of my favorite photos of Nellie and me reading together

Inspiration Wednesday...

  In honor of Inspiration Wednesday (thank you Tina Hoggatt! http://tinahoggatt.wordpress.com/) and a wonderfully rejuvenating SCBWI meeting last night led by Janet Lee Carey and Grace Wong, I'm posting an old Disney favorite to brighten your day...

"When there's a smile in your heart
There's no better time to start
Think of all the joy you'll find when you leave the world behind
And bid your cares good bye-
You can fly! You can fly!
You can fly! You can fly!"

  In your creative process remember to let yourself breathe.  Get back in touch with your inner artist/ storyteller/ creative center, she needs to be continually embraced, nurtured, and Loved  :)
  Wishing you peace in your process, whatever form it may take

"Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway."

~Emory Austin

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Toddler Story Time

  Ever since Nellie was a baby we have been attending the NE Library's toddler story time in Seattle.  It is one of the best (and most crowded!) around, and we just love the children's librarian, Erica.  She brings fun and enthusiasm to every story and song, and can keep a roomful of kids entertained.  Its a great way to introduce reading as a fun, special time for you and your child. 

Interested? Story time takes place most Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10:15.  Check out the website for exact times and other branches near you

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

  I just mailed in my submission for the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Works-In-Progress Grant for unpublished picture book authors.  Send all your positive thoughts and goodluck wishes towards Cali on those Santa Ana winds, and bring me back a win! Here's hoping!

  Also mailed in my First Pages (Session A Picture Books) for the SCBWI Western WA Conference in April.  As well as my picture book for my  personal manuscript consultation.  Feels good to get things done and off in snail mail. Makin progress on the way to achieving my goals!

Happy Birthday to You, Dr. Suess

Today is Dr. Suess' birthday! Celebrate Read Across America Day :)

"So we'll go to the top of the toppest blue space,
The Official Katroo Birthday Sounding-Off Place!
Come on! Open your mouth and sound off at the sky!
Shout loud at the top of your voice, 'I AM I!
And I may not know why
But I know that I like it.
Three cheers! I AM I!'"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

"We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Planet Happy

  As a nanny I am always looking for fun indoor places to play in the winter.  Today, Nellie and I discovered Planet Happy (2914 Northeast 55th Street Seattle, WA 98105 (206) 729-0154 Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm; Sun 10am-5pm) and I'm so glad we did!  It is a store filled with toys, books, arts and crafts, and even animals.  Buttercup, the resident pygmy hedgehog lives right by the front door.  Usually she is curled up in her log sleeping the day away, but we got a rare glimpse of her today in all her spiky glory. We were also greeted by the chirps and coos of lots of tiny birds from within their aviary, which happens to be an old-fashioned turquoise "coolerator" refrigerator.  Placed right next to the avaiary is the crafts table where buttons, magnets and mirrors can all be created for just a dollar or two, while enjoying the peaceful fluttering of the birds.  Nellie chose to make a small button today, before playing with the train set and trying out the swinging hammock. It was a great way to spend the morning being creative and supporting a local business, whose mission is admirable. For every $10 spent at Planet Happy, a tree is planted!  And better still is their strict Product Criteria, every toy is labeled for its ability to meet specific standards- Fairly traded, Organic, Socially Responsible, Recycled, Mom-owned, Green, and Natural.  Love it! 
  Planet Happy sure made us happy today, we will definitely be going back.  Hopefully we'll see you there!
Nellie holding up her Planet Happy button she made

Monday, February 14, 2011

                          "A loving heart is the truest wisdom."
 ~ Charles Dickens
  Happy Valentine's Day!  I know this isn't everyone's favorite "holiday" but I find that having one day a year set adside to celebrate love and those in your life, be it friends, family, or companions, who are special, really is a sweet sentiment.  Hope that you all have a perfectly LOVE-ly day!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

My Favorite Book this Week...

  My favorite book this week is one I came across at last week's SCBWI Western WA meeting.  It is by  local author/illustrator, Paul Schmid who was at the meeting and did a signing afterward.  The picture book is called A Pet for Petunia and it is perfectly silly and sweet!  As Maurice Sendak quotes on the front, it is "A simple, beguiling story. Bravo!"  Petunia wants a pet, but not just any pet, she wants a skunk!  Paul perfectly captures the humor and naivete of a young girl who wants what she wants and she wants it now, and will do anything to get it.  Until she finally meets a skunk and his awful, horrible, humongous stink!  This book is sure to please young kids with its adorable illustrations and hilarious premise.  I can't wait to read it aloud at my next story time.  A Pet for Petunia is filled with childhood wonder and optimism, and is a joy to read.  Looking forward to more adventures with Petunia.


Dreams. No, goals!

  I've decided to put in writing some more concrete goals that I would love to accomplish this year, or maybe we'll just say soon, so that I can look at them daily, be reminded to work towards them, and put it out there for the universe to be aware of! Ok, here goes, mind you, some of these are pretty lofty, but I say why not?  As my Blanchet high school class of 2002 motto stated: "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you'll land among the stars,"  cheesy and applicable!

* Win the SCBWI Barbara Karlin Work-In-Progress Grant for unpublished picture book writers
*Use that money to finally attend one of the SCBWI's international summer/ or winter conferences in LA/ NY
*Where I will sign with an agent
*Who will get my book published with a major, reputed publishing house 
*Who then attaches an illustrator whose work perfectly captures the vision of my book
*Get to stand up at the "Good News" portion of my local SCBWI Western WA meeting and announce that my picture book has come out and is ready for purchase, as I hold my very own book in my own two hands
*See my picture book on the local author's shelf at Mockingbird Books
*See my picture book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble 
*Receive starred Kirkus and Booklist reviews for my book
*Do book readings and signings in classrooms, libraries and book shops around the state, around the nation, around the world!!
*Publish my next book

Page Ahead

  Last Friday I did my monthly story time at the Jennie Reed Elementary School in Tacoma.  I am a Story Time Volunteer with Page Ahead, a children's literacy program based here in Seattle, whose motto is Giving Kids in Need the Chance to Read, how great is that?!  I love this program and I absolutely love doing story time.  My classrooms include Kindergarten and Head Start, which means that the kids are enthusiastic, excited, and definitely energized!  Our theme last week was dogs, so we read two or three picture books about dogs (i.e. Dogs by Emily Gravett, which the kids LOVED, its such a simple story with fantastic illustrations and the kids just ate it up), interspersed singing a few songs about dogs (i.e. Bingo, How much is that doggy in the window..), did some fingerplays and stretches to shake the sillies out, and ended with a craft (i.e. folding paper into the shape of a dog's head and coloring a face on it) and that's it!  The kids love this whole program so much, and their positive reaction, engagement and excitement for reading is just so uplifting to witness, I recommend getting out in your community and reading to kids any chance you get!  The benefits of instilling a lifelong love of reading in a child are immense, just look at Page Ahead's stats-
"Literacy can make the difference between the poverty of one generation and the promise of the next. Page Ahead helps children realize their potential by providing them with the inspiration to read.
Page Ahead operates on one simple and astounding fact: being read to as a youngster is the foremost predictor of academic success in childhood. If a child can read at grade level by 3rd grade, she will continue to read at grade level throughout her academic career. A child who succeeds in school will remain there, earning a chance at a better job and a better life in the years ahead. A child who lacks early exposure to reading often suffers from low self-esteem, struggles academically, and is at higher risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and delinquency. Succeeding begins with reading."
Thankfully, since 1990 Page Ahead has worked to place 2 million! new books into the hands of 550,000 at-risk children through collaborations with schools, social service agencies, preschools, and early childhood centers across Washington State. 

If you want to learn more about Page Ahead's mission or you are interested in volunteering, please visit their website http://www.pageahead.org/index.php

Being read to as a child fosters boundless imagination and creativity, it opens up a world of unlimited possibilities, it creates better readers and future writers, it builds a bond between between parent and child that lets the child know just how much they are valued, appreciated and LOVED- and that is an amazing truth.  Read, read, read, it can truly change the world.
  I finally did see 127 Hours, and yes it was as viscerally uncomfortable as I had anticipated!  His hand is literally stuck between that rock and a hard place for so long, that eventually I was actually rooting for him to cut it off already!  Still, I was not prepared for how much it grossed me out! But then I am a pretty big baby when it comes to gory bodily details.  I thought it was a moving portrayal of a survivor's harrowing story (I was even moved to tears when he finally makes it out and finds people to help him. I mean, complete strangers came to his rescue, no questions asked, and it was just so reassuring to witness the generosity of the human spirit for once!)  But still, a best picture of the year? I'm not so convinced.  I thought The Ghost Writer was a better film- superbly acted, even Hitchcockian in its quietly thrilling tone.  If you haven't seen it, or even heard of it, check it out on dvd. Oooh, I also thought that The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo should have gotten some Oscar love.  Those Swedes did a fantastic job with the first of Steig Larson's incredibly engrossing Millenium Trilogy, and Noomi Rapace is beyond compare as Lisbeth Salander. 
  Ok, enough movie talk?

Yes, back to writing...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

And the nominations go to...

The only one I haven't seen is 127 Hours.  Guess I'll have to see that guy cut his own arm off after all..
: Annette Bening, "The Kids Are
All Right"; Nicole
, "Rabbit Hole"; Jennifer
, "Winter's Bone"; Natalie Portman, "Black
Swan"; Michelle
, "Blue
: Javier
, "Biutiful"; Jeff Bridges, "True
Grit"; Jesse
, "The Social Network"; Colin Firth, "The King's Speech";
James Franco, "127
Best Supporting Actress: Amy
Adams, "The Fighter"; Helena Bonham Carter, "The King's Speech"; Melissa Leo,
"The Fighter"; Hailee Steinfeld, "True Grit"; Jacki Weaver, "Animal Kingdom"
Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale, "The Fighter"; John Hawkes, "Winter's Bone"; Jeremy Renner, "The
Town"; Mark Ruffalo, "The Kids Are All Right"; Geoffrey Rush, "The King's
Best Director: Darren
Aronofsky, "Black Swan"; David O. Russell, "The Fighter"; Tom Hooper, "The
King's Speech"; David Fincher, "The Social Network"; Ethan Coen and Joel Coen,
"True Grit"
Best Animated Feature: "How
to Train Your Dragon," "The Illusionist," "Toy Story 3"
Best Screenplay: "Another
Year," "The Fighter," "Inception," "The Kids Are All Right," "The King's Speech"
Best Adapted Screenplay:
"127 Hours," "The Social Network," "Toy Story 3," "True Grit," "Winter's Bone"
Best Foreign Film:
"Biutiful," "Dogtooth," "In a Better World," "Incendies," "Outside the Law"
Art Direction: "Alice in
Wonderland," Robert Stromberg (Production Design), Karen O'Hara (Set
Decoration); "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," Stuart Craig
(Production Design), Stephenie McMillan (Set Decoration); "Inception," Guy
Hendrix Dyas (Production Design), Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (Set Decoration);
"The King's Speech," Eve Stewart (Production Design), Judy Farr (Set
Decoration); "True Grit," Jess Gonchor (Production Design), Nancy Haigh (Set
Achievement in
: "Black Swan," Matthew Libatique; "Inception," Wally
Pfister; "The King's Speech," Danny Cohen; "The Social Network," Jeff
Cronenweth; "True Grit," Roger Deakins
Achievement in Costume
: "Alice in Wonderland," Colleen Atwood; "I Am Love," Antonella
Cannarozzi; "The King's Speech," Jenny Beavan; "The Tempest," Sandy Powell;
"True Grit," Mary Zophres
Best Documentary Feature:
"Exit Through the Gift Shop," "Gasland," "Inside Job," "Restrepo," "Waste Land"
Best Documentary Short
: "Killing in the Name," "Poster Girl," "Strangers No More,"
"Sun Come Up," "The Warriors of Quigang"
Achievement in Film Editing:
"Black Swan," Andrew Weisblum; "The Fighter," Pamela Martin; "The King's
Speech," Tariq Anwar; "127 Hours," Jon Harris; "The Social Network," Angus Wall
and Kirk Baxter
Achievement in Music Written for
Motion Picture (Original Score)
: "How to Train Your Dragon," John
Powell; "Inception," Hans Zimmer; "The King's Speech," Alexandre Desplat; "127
Hours," A. R. Rahman; "The Social Network," Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
Achievement in Music Written for
Motion Picture (Original Song)
: "Coming Home" from "Country Strong;" "I
See the Light" from "Tangled;" "If I Rise" from "127 Hours;" "We Belong
Together" from "Toy Story 3"
Best Animated Short Film:
"Day and Night," Teddy Newton; "The Gruffalo," Jakob Schuh and Max Lang; "Let's
Pollute," Feefwee Boedoe; "The Lost Thing," Shaun Tan and Andrwe Ruhemann;
"Madagascar, A Journey Diary," Bastien Dubois
Best Live Action Short: "The
Confession," Tanel Toom; "The Crush," Michael Creagh; "God of Love," Luke
Matheny; "Na Wewe," Ivan Goldschmidt; "Wish 143," Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite
Achievement in Sound
: "Inception," Richard King; "Toy Story 3," Tom Myers and
Michael Silvers; "Tron: Legacy" Gwndolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague; "True
Grit," Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey; "Unstoppable," Mark P. Stoeckinger
Achievement in Sound Mixing:
"Inception," Lra Hirschberg, Gary A. Rizzo and Ed Novick; "The King's Speech,"
Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley; "Salt," Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg
P. Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin; "The Social Network," Ren Klyce,
David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten; "True Grit," Skip Lievsay,
Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
Achievement in Visual
: "Alice in Wonderland," Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey
Villegas and Sean Phillips; "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1," Tim
Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi; "Hereafter," Michael
Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell; "Inception," Paul
Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb; "Iron Man 2," Janek
Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick

Monday, January 24, 2011

Toasting Tinseltown!

  Tomorrow the Academy Award nominations will be announced and I couldn't be more excited! Awards season is one of my favorite times of the year, and no dance is bigger than the Oscars.  The grandeur, the gowns, the speeches, the spectacle- I love it all! Best Picture front runners and some of my absolute favorite films this year, all of which feature phenomenal acting include Inception, The Social Network, The King's Speech, The Fighter, Black Swan, True Grit and The Kids are All Right.  See any and all if you have the chance!  Can't wait for the February 27th ceremony to see who the Oscars go to. 
p.s. Forgot to mention one of my other favorite movies of the year- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. I found it sad and moving and so beautifully executed.  It definitely had a more somber, grown up tone compared to the earlier films. I really will hate to see this wonderful, magical story come to an end.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

  Just signed up for SCBWI Western WA's 20th Annual Writing & Illustrating for Children Conference! This will be my first conference and I am feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. After the Great Critique I realized that my Kiwi & Chirp story still needs a lot of revision and reworking until I feel satisfied that it is conference ready. So, I have also signed up again for Peggy King Anderson's Magic of Writing for Children class. It was an expensive morning! But well worth it. I need the help, guidance and support of my fellow Peggy King followers to get this work where I want it before Feb 26th when I have to send a draft in if I want to have a personal manuscript consultation (which I desperately do) and a conference ready draft no later than Mar 26th. So big goals and lots to do. I really can't wait to tackle this and make it a work I am truly proud of. 2011 is the year for writing and the pursuit of success!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Great Critique

  I attended SCBWI Western Washington's Great Critique last night, and I'm so glad I went!  Lately I've been feeling really discouraged about my seemingly hopeless pursuit of publishing a children's picture book in a dying market.  I broke down in tears last weekend feeling so overwhelmed by the unlikely odds that some nobody like me can ever get published.  With only a few rejections under my belt, I know I need to get a thicker skin if I want to make it in this business. But its the breaking in that seems the most insurmountable to me at this point. If I want to get published I need an agent to get my work into the right and tightly guarded hands, and if I want an agent I need to be published first.  I feel like I'm banging my head against wall after wall.  Thus the weekend breakdown. When I set out on this journey I didn't fully realize just how much of an emotional roller coaster the creative process can be. For me and my boyfriend who has to deal with the unexpected bouts of depression (sorry Tim!).
  That is why I am so thankful for the SCBWI community.  Being around fellow writers who are struggling and succeeding and can commiserate and enlighten, is just the greatest joy. Every time I go to a meeting or spend time with a critique group or attend a class, I am reenergized and I remember the passion that got me excited to write for children in the first place. 
  Last night I turned in one of my versions of Kiwi & Chirp (I have probably 10 different ones now!) for critique. And again my face burns hot and my heart beats fast any time my work is read aloud.  But all the enthusiasm and support and guidance is so welcome and so appreciated. Sometimes you just need fresh eyes to go over a work that has become blurred to you. It allows you to breathe a little, and take some of the burden off of you making your work so perfect, while someone else takes a stab at it.  So while a peaceful snow fell outside our classroom window, I finally made (some) peace with my own work by letting others in. It was a beautiful thing and I feel grateful for having seized the opportunity, even if it would have been easier to stay at home and wallow away in misery and doubt.  Attending the Great Critique was much more fun! So I'll keep writing, keep pushing forward, and keep finding inspiration and positivity wherever I can get it.
Next stop: SCBWI Western WA Conference in April

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Welcome 2011!  It is a beautiful, clear day in Seattle, what a perfect way to start the new year!

"Life has got to be lived — that’s all there is to it."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt