Writing quote

Sure, it's simple writing for kids...Just as simple as raising them.
— Ursula K. LeGuin

Sunday, September 21, 2014


  Thanks to Jeanne Jusaitis of the Redwood Writer's Club, I participated in Reading Day at Mary Collins at Cherry Valley Charter School in Petaluma on Sept. 3. I presented Sacajawea of the Shoshone in Mrs. Pellkofer's and Mr. Ruddell's 4th & 5th grade classes and Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas in Mrs. Damico's K/1 class. 
   I love connecting with kids at school visits and inspiring their love of reading and stories, and they always have such great questions. Thank you, Mrs. Pellkofer for your amazing testimonial: 

"Natasha Yim was amazing!  She visited our 4th and 5th grade students at Mary Collins Cherry Valley Charter School and wowed us with an in-depth, super interesting digital presentation about her book, Sacajawea of the Shoshone, her writing process, her personal story and more.  It was like watching a personal "TED" talk of the importance of Sacajawea in our North American history, while still being completely age-appropriate and totally engaging!  I had to purchase the book for my class as I wanted to learn more!"

and Thank You to Mrs. Damico's students for the adorable, colorful and very large Thank You card you sent me:

   Blankets were laid out on the green grass under the canopy of trees where parents and kids shared books together. Authors were also invited to a lovely lunch of pesto pasta and a delicious salad made from vegetables from the school garden. 
   It always warms my heart to see a school devote a day to encourage literacy, reading, and to acknowledge authors as an important part of that process. All in all, it was well worth the drive to Petaluma.

Monday, August 18, 2014


   Today, I'd like to welcome author and publisher, Shirin Yim Bridges, to the KidLit Rambles blog. Shirin is an award-winning children's author (Ruby's Wish, Chronicle Books, 2002; The Umbrella Queen, Greenwillow Books, 2008; Mary Wrightly, So Politely, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013) publisher of Goosebottom Books, and one of the judges of the 2014 Redwood Writers Club's Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction contest. In this interview, Shirin shares the pros and cons of being a small, independent press, the motivation behind her leap of faith from author to publisher, common manuscript submission mistakes to avoid, and her tips for marketing and promotion.

You began your publishing career as an author. How did you decide to take on the challenges of becoming a publisher?

It all began with my nieces, who’d disappeared into a pink fog of Disney princesses. I wanted them to know that there were real princesses who didn’t sit around waiting for a prince. So I started to write a series of nonfiction books—which I ended up calling The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses—and I sent the first manuscript in to Samantha McFerrin, who was the editorial assistant on Ruby’s Wish, and at that time my
editor on Mary Wrightly So Politely over at Harcourt, and who is now, ironically, the Executive Editor of Disney. But the more I thought about it, the more control I wanted over these books. You normally get next to zero control over design and art direction as a picture book writer, and I was used to controlling the last detail as a creative director. Plus, I was looking for a career change. The tipping point came when I spoke to Amy Novesky, my editor on Ruby’s Wish, who had left Chronicle and gone to set up on her own. I said, “I’m thinking of becoming a publisher,” and instead of saying “you’re crazy,” she said, “I’ll help.”

Tell us a little bit about Goosebottom Books.

Goosebottom Books is dedicated to fun nonfiction—or with our latest series, fiction that has a nonfiction soul. We started with the Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses, which won an IPPY medal, and then brought out the Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames, which was named a Top 10 Nonfiction Series for Youth by Booklist and the American Library Association. We also published the first book in the U.S. to use mobile augmented reality, Horrible Hauntings. Basically, you download a free app and when you look at the illustrations in our book, you see 3D ghosts appear. The amazing thing is that they’re interactive. You really have to see it to believe it. That book picked up a few awards and made the coveted Children’s Choices list.

All those books are solidly nonfiction. But this fall, we’re launching A Treasury of Glorious Goddesses which are written as faux autobiographies. So that’s definitely fiction. However, the books, Call Me Isis, Call Me Athena, and Call Me Ixchel, all have nonfiction hearts, because they are based on established mythology. We also provide a nonfiction back section, to furnish cultural, geographical, and historical context. 

What inspired you to start your new fiction imprint, Gosling Press?

Over the last few years I’ve been seeing too much great fiction to not want to publish some of it. So, I’ve set up a new imprint, Gosling Press, to handle fiction without diluting Goosebottom Books’ clarity of purpose. Gosling will be launching its first title in Spring 2015, a very special book called Beautiful Hands by Kathryn Otoshi of One and Zero fame, and co-author Bret Baumgarten. We’ve already received our first backorder!

What is the hardest thing and the most rewarding about being a small, independent press?

The most difficult thing, quite frankly, is to make any money. In addition to writing and publishing, I teach. Whenever I show my students where the money in the price of a book goes, everybody descends into a stunned and depressed silence. Nearly none of the sales price comes to the author or publisher. It’s a very tough game. 

For me, the most rewarding thing about being a publisher is how creative it is. I brought these books into the world—they were conceived and executed to my vision. To pull it off, I had to wear a hundred hats, including the janitor’s hat, and the sheltered workshop hat, licking envelopes and assembling hundreds of mailing packages. I love that! I love the variety, and the challenge, and the hard work. I love the very fuzzy boundary between my job and my life. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a job. It just feels like who I am.

When you receive manuscript submissions from other writers, do you tend to read them with your author eye or your publisher eye?

I read them with a publisher’s eye—which is an editor’s eye plus a marketing eye at once. The annoying thing is that when I read for pleasure now, I seem not to be able to turn off that filter. I’m forever being distracted by typos.

What are some of the common mistakes you see writers make in their submissions?

They don’t know whom they’re submitting to. They send me manuscripts that are so far from what we publish—I got a memoir about pole dancing once! One glance at our website should have told you that pole dancing wouldn’t work for us.

The other mistake is that some authors get rude and impatient for an answer. This despite us sending receipt confirmations for all submissions we get, saying that their submission will be filed and we will be in touch if an opportunity arises. This means, in the nicest way, don’t call us; we’ll call you. But I still get angry emails from writers saying I submitted a month ago and it would only take you ten minutes to respond. Those writers, a) can’t do math and figure out that ten minutes per submission would sink my day; b) don’t understand independent publishing and how many other things I could put those ten minutes to better use for—weeding negative people out of my writers files, for example.

What advice would you give writers on making their submissions stand out?

Be professional. Be someone who understands my business, who understands what I might want that you can provide. As they used to say in advertising, identify the need, the pain point. Become the solution. 

And then, write well. Independent publishers are all in this because we love books and writing. We are easily seduced by great words.

Nowadays, authors have to do a lot of promotion and marketing themselves. What
marketing/promotion tips can you give authors?

My advice is going to sound awfully zen. Everything there is to say about building an author’s platform, etc., etc., has already been said. You can find how-to tips galore on the internet. My advice is whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy it. Don’t turn the privilege of being an author into a marketing chore. 

For example, I know authors who pack their calendars with school events and then don’t enjoy them because they’re over-stressed and over-tired. All that time spent not enjoying something? That’s life slipping away.

You also teach creative writing. Tell us about your current or upcoming writing classes.

I am leading a middle grade workshop through summer, and teaching a five-week picture book writing course for the Writing Salon that starts this Sunday, Aug. 24.  On September 27, I’m giving a one-day intensive on Digital First, a new phenomenon in publishing, at Stanford University. Then in October, I’ll start a 9-week middle grade and young adult course, again at the Writing Salon.

Where can people find out more about the classes you offer?
Follow my blog! It’s goosetracks.me. I regularly post musings on the writing and publishing life, and an updated list of my teaching and speaking engagements.

Thank you, Shirin, for your helpful insights into the writing and publishing life from an author's and a publisher's perspective.

If you live in Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Marin, Humboldt, Solano, and Napa Counties, you can enter the Redwood Writers Club's Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction contest here.

What are your experiences and tips for submitting to publishers?

Sunday, August 3, 2014


   Interesting documentary on JK Rowling that covers her final touches on the Deathly Hallows, the crazy frenzy the launch of the book created, and a bit about her life and childhood before she became famous. I've always thought she has had such an amazing writing journey.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


  If you're in and around Willits this weekend, stop on by the library for a reading of Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and a fun panda craft! Saturday, Aug. 2, 11:00 am. Also, come check out Scripted: An Evening of Short Plays at the Willits Community Theatre. My ten-minute play, "Offing the Witness" is receiving its Mendocino County premiere! Performances are Friday, Aug. 1, 8 pm., Saturday, Aug. 2, 8 pm., and Sunday, Aug. 3, 2 pm.

Monday, July 21, 2014


   For the second year, the Redwood Writers Club has collaborated with Copperfield's Books in Montgomery Village Santa Rosa, to host an evening of readings by local authors through the month of July. This Tuesday, July 22, 6:30 pm. will be Hot Summer Nights — Children's and Young Adult Authors. Redwood Writers Club members Charles Markee will read from his middle grade novel, Otherworld Tales 2: Demon Invasion, Jeanne Jusaitis will present Lilah Dill and the Magic Kit, Sandy Baker unveils Howie's Hungabird Dilemmaand I, of course, will read Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas. Readings will be followed by a Q and A with the authors, so come on down to Copperfield's Books, enjoy some story time and refreshments, and participate in a lively discussion on what it takes to publish a children's book!
   I'm also offering a "Bring a Friend, Tell a Friend" special: bring a friend to the event or tell a friend who comes to the event, and get a 10% discount off Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas! See the coupon below. If you want to print it and bring it to the event, right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac) and select "Save to Downloads", then print from there.
   Hope to see you at Copperfield's Books!

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Mira Reisberg, Literary Agent
Hummingbird Literary
     Do you have a Young Adult (ages 13 - 18) or Middle Grade Story (ages 9 - 12) in progress? Want to get it in front of a literary agent? I am once again chairing the Redwood Writers' Club Writing Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction Contest this year, and boy, do we have some fabulous prizes for you, including a chance to win the Grand Prize of a 10-page manuscript critique by agent Mira Reisberg of Hummingbird Literary. And cash ain't bad either. The 1st place winner gets $100, 2nd place receives $50, and 3rd place gets $25. Look for more information in the next Redwood Writers newsletter and the upcoming contest flyer (which will be posted soon). 

   In the meantime, here are the contest guidelines:
  • The contest is open to residents of Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Solano, Lake and Mendocino counties.
  • Submit up to 10 pages of a Young Adult or Middle Grade story. Anything after 10 pages will not be read. It can be a short story or chapter excerpts from a novel in progress. If submitting chapters from a novel, send in only the first 10 pages of the novel (not 10 pages of Chapter 3 or the middle of the novel). This is important, because a reader must be hooked within the first 10 pages in order to be enticed to read on.
  • Work must be previously unpublished. 
  • Only one submission per person.
  • Format: 12 point font, Times New Roman, double spaced. First page —  please note your category: Young Adult or Middle Grade. Center your title half way down, then begin story. Please number your pages.
  • DO NOT put the author’s name or contact information on the manuscript.
  • Contest fees: $8 for members, $12 for non-members.
  • Submit payment and upload manuscript (Word doc. or docx only) on the Redwood Writer's website. 
  • Follow submission guidelines carefully. Manuscripts will be disregarded if the guidelines are not followed.
  • Contest Deadline: Oct. 15, 9 pm.
  • Awards will be handed out at the Redwood Writers' Club meeting on Dec. 14.
If you have any further questions about submission guidelines or the contest, please email me. We are looking forward to reading your best work. So, submit, submit, submit!

And now, for our wonderful judges:

Shirin Yim Bridges has made the successful transition from author (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, HarperCollins, Chronicle Books) to award-winning editor and publisher. In addition to being the Head Goose of Goosebottom Books, Shirin is currently editing four middle grade novels, and consulting on the development of another two. She recently spoke to the Australian Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators in July, and has given workshops and seminars on writing and publishing for the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, the Book Passage Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference, the Asian Festival of Children’s Content, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, Illinois State University, Dominican University, and the College of San Mateo.

Laura Atkins is an independent children’s book editor with twenty years of editorial experience. She worked at Children’s Book Press, Orchard Books, and Lee and Low Books, helping to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, amongst others. More recently, she was a lecturer at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature in London. She currently edits for Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria, provides editorial services to self-publishers and aspiring and published writers and illustrators, and offers writing workshops. She is based in Berkeley, California, where she lives with her seven-year-old daughter.

Independent book editor and writing coach Susan Lyn McCombs has an MFA in Creative Writing and edits books for children and adults. She began working with middle-grade and young-adult manuscripts over eight years ago at Tricycle Speed Press. Currently, she works with individual writers to develop and tighten their manuscripts and edits for KO Kids Productions, Goosebottom Books, Andrews McMeel, Zoozil, and Callisto Media.  As a writing coach, Susan motivates authors, helping them to tap into their excitement for writing, find the meaning within their stories, and uncover their best storytelling/writing skills.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


   Sunday, July 13, is Redwood Writers' Club's annual Author Launch. 20 authors will have 5 mins. to read excerpts from their new books. It's a wonderful way to celebrate the new releases and writing successes of the club's members. Author launches, in general, can be exciting, yet nerve racking events. Will enough people show up? Will you have enough food? Will the venue have ordered enough books? The great thing about an author launch in a club like Redwood Writers is that you have other people you can share the launch with, a very supportive crowd, and a built in audience. Plus, all the planning is done for you. All you have to do is show up! All the more reason members should relish and appreciate this opportunity Redwood Writers offers their members.

   If you don't belong to a writing club and are preparing for an upcoming Author Launch, here are 5 tips for a successful Author Launch:

  1. Good communication—make sure both you and the event organizer confirm important details such as time and date, length of event, decorations (are there any limitations?), food and drinks (what does the venue supply, what do you need to bring?), number of books to order (are they ordering through their distributor or are you bringing books and selling them on consignment?)
  2. Think in themes—for decorations and food. Is your book about space? Maybe you can have posters, photographs and decorations of outer space, planets, or aliens (if your story involves one.) I attended a book launch for a children's ghost book, Horrible Hauntings (Goosebottom Books, 2012), and food items included sandwiches made to look like cut-off fingers, a punch of eyeballs (lychees and I can't remember what they used for the pupil, but it was really fun). At one book event for Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, I brought turnip cakes (featured in the book) and fortune cookies. For Sacajawea of the Shoshone, I served buffalo sausage. Themed food can be a lot of fun preparing and serving, but if it stresses you out even more, just keep it simple: cookies and lemonade and juice are always a great hit, especially with kids.
  3. Presentation—will you read from your book? Show a power point? Have activities? A lot of it depends on the kind of book you have, who your audience is, time constraints, and your comfort level. I've done straight readings, a combination of excerpt reading and discussion of the writing process, power point presentations. I've given out raffle tickets for a chance to win a free book, taught a craft related to the book. The launch program varies with each book. But one thing that is consistent is the Q and A which is a great way to connect with your audience and for them to find out what went into writing and publishing your book.
  4. Have copies of your books on hand. If you're lucky, the bookstore or event venue will sell out of your books and you'll need extras. However, I've heard of events where the organizer had forgotten to order the writer's books. So, it's always better to be safe than sorry. Don't forget to offer to sign a few unsold copies. It's a great marketing tool for bookstores to display books signed by the author, but they're also books that can't be returned, giving you a few more sales.
  5. Have fun! You've toiled for what seems like eons on your book, and now you're sending your baby out into the world. That, in itself, is a tremendous feat! So, celebrate and allow yourself to be acknowledged for a job well done.

I'll be reading Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, at the Redwood Writers' Author Launch. For this meeting only, all meeting fees are waived, so if you're interested in checking out the club, come join us at the Flamingo Resort and Spa in Santa Rosa, Empire Room, this Sunday, July 13. See you there!

Thursday, July 3, 2014


     I'm unveiling a whole new design — and a new title — for my blog! If you've visited my blog before, let me know what you think of the new look.
     Last weekend, I was one of two featured readers at the Redwood Writers' Club's Open Mic Reading at Gaia's Garden in Santa Rosa. I read Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas and shared excerpts from Cixi, The Dragon Empress and Sacajawea of the Shoshone. After the featured readings, those who wanted to read at open mic. could sign up and readings were conducted in order. I decided to read from the opening chapter of my middle grade novel in progress which I have never shared publicly before, so I was a little nervous. But it was a great way to gauge the audience's reaction, and hear how the language sounds when read out loud.
     I have never been to this open mic. reading before and I was delighted by the variety of the stories (many works in progress) and the bravery of the readers. Speaking, or reading, in public is the greatest fear of most writers, yet it is expected of those of us who have books to promote. Now, writing isn't all about selling and promoting your books, but if you've put several years of toil, sweat, and tears into your project, you can't let it die on the vines. 
     There is no other way to get used to public reading than to read in public, and open mic events are a good way to get some practice. I won't pretend it's not scary to put yourself out there at first, so start small. Here are 5 ways to prepare yourself for a positive public speaking experience.
  1. Start with more intimate settings. Invite a small group of friends and family to gather in your living room, then slowly branch out (when you're more comfortable) to reading at larger, more public venues. To gain confidence, I began reading my children's books at my kids' play date groups, then Kids' Club at the local health club,  then my daughter's pre-school class, gradually moving up to library visits, author visits in individual classrooms, and finally to auditorium-style school visits.
  2. Do a few dry runs in front of the mirror or in front of family. Practice slowing down your reading. We all tend to read too fast when we're nervous. You want your audience to hear you loud and clear, especially if they're kids. 
  3. If you're reading longer works, like novels, and you're reading excerpts from different parts of the book, mark them clearly so you can find the passages quickly. Alternately, you can type your reading passages on sheets of paper in LARGE font for easier reading and read from there instead of from the book.
  4. Don't just look straight at the book or paper when you're reading. Take the time to make eye contact with your audience once in awhile. This one takes a little practice, but the purpose of doing a reading is to connect with that audience.
  5. After your reading, open it up to Q & A -- this is another great chance to connect with your audience.
I promise you, public reading does get easier and less nerve-racking the more you do it. So, Happy Reading and Connecting!

Garden, Santa Rosa, CA., June 28, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014


     I was on the faculty of the Book Passage Children's Writer's Conference last weekend and was reminded (after not having been there in 7 years or so) what a truly fabulous conference this is! The organizers, Kathryn Petrocelli and Kathryn Otoshi, were terrific — warm, inviting, extremely helpful. The faculty had great camaraderie and the faculty dinners were delicious and a forum for animated, energetic discussions on writing, publishing, and everything in between. Many of the attendees I met were eager to learn, thoroughly immersed themselves in all the conference had to offer, and asked thoughtful questions. 
     I had fun moderating The Compelling & Authentic Protagonist: Making Your Hero(ine) Jump Off the Page author panel with Young Adult author Lewis Buzbee (Steinbeck's Ghost, The Haunting of Charles Dickens, Bridge of Time) and independent editor Laura Atkins (former editor at Lee and Low Books and Scholastic). They addressed some of the main elements of creating great character: Voice, Point of View, Dialogue.   
    One huge perk of being on the faculty is that I could attend any of the other sessions free of charge. So, I sat in on Amanda Conran's and Susan Lyn McComb's sessions on writing the middle-grade novel, and Lewis Buzbee's Writing for Young Adults. My work in progress is a middle grade, and I learned a lot about structure, voice, and craft tips about writing for this audience.
    During lunches and breaks, Susan McCombs and I reminisced about our first meeting here when she was an editor for Tricycle Press and I was seeking her out to find out what happened to my manuscript which had been submitted over a year ago. She gave me such helpful feedback on my manuscript, "Goldy Luck and the Three Chans", which later became the published Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas, albeit by Charlesbridge Publishing, not Tricycle.
    In the evenings, we were entertained by the likes of Mac Barnett and Jon Agee, both fantastic speakers who both impressed and inspired us with their quirky senses of humor, creative writing processes and their hard work and perseverance.
   When I attended this conference 7 years ago, I sat in the audience, and a thought came to mind: "If I ever got invited to be on the faculty of the Book Passage Children's Writer's Conference, I know I will have arrived as an author!" Now that I am back at Book Passage as a member of the faculty, I am humbled by one pervasive thought, I have not arrived. Nor will we, as writers, ever arrive. 
    Someone once wisely said, "Writing is not a destination, it's a journey." And so it is. It's a journey that never ends because there's always so much to learn in writing. The publishing landscape keeps changing. The industry (thankfully) is never constant. There's always more you can learn about being a better writer, a better marketer, a better speaker. Writers don't just sit and write anymore. You have to learn to send your book out into the world. Which is why, four published books later, I'm still attending conferences, still learning, still trying to figure out what editors want (sigh...will that ever get any easier?). My yardstick for success keeps shifting. Hallelujah for that! Because writing will be a lot less fun if there is nothing to strive for.

Some of the 2014 Book Passage Children's Writers and Illustrators
Conference  faculty
Back row from left: Gretchen Maurer, Amanda Conran, Kristin Elizabeth
Clark, Lissa Rovetch, Jim Averbeck.
Front row from left: Shirin Bridges, Natasha Yim (moi) , Summer Dawn Laurie,
Kathryn Otoshi, Laura Atkins, Andy Ross.

Gretchen Maurer and I at the
Writing Creative Nonfiction session

Monday, May 26, 2014


Hello, Everyone! I can't believe half the year has just about gone already and my last post was back in January. Yikes! I'm so glad my SCBWI friend Erin Dealey (Deck the Walls, Goldilocks has Chicken Pox) asked me to join the Writing Blog Tour because, obviously, I needed someone to light the fire under my butt to get me to my blog again. Not that I don't LOVE blogging. It's just that when life gets busy, it's one of those things that gets shoved to the bottom of my to-do list. 

I was just at a play performance yesterday where my play "Playing with Knives" was part of a short plays festival. It was a co-winner for audience favorite! I was on the playwright Q & A panel where we talked about the process of coming up with the idea and writing the plays - an always fascinating inside look at each writer's creative process and how ideas are formed and come to fruition.

So, welcome to:


Check out Erin Dealey's writing process here.

What Am I Working On?

Currently, I'm working on a humorous, multicultural contemporary middle-grade novel with supernatural elements, ie. a guardian angel. I also have a young adult project that's sitting on the back burner, and another middle-grade idea that's threatening to distract me from the project I'm working on, so I'm trying very hard to not look at those notes until I'm done with my book. I'm a bit of an Attention Deficit writer so keeping to one project at a time is a real challenge for me. I also have a completed picture book manuscript that my agent is sending around. So, keep your fingers crossed for me that it'll find a home!

How Does My Work Differ From Others of it's Genre?

This is a difficult one to answer. As a writer, you'd like to think that your work is truly original, but then I've heard it said that there are very few truly original ideas out there. Oftentimes, it's how a writer handles the idea/plot/twists that makes it original. The bad news for writers: you really have to find that twist or angle that will turn your story from run-of-the-mill to sparklingly brilliant. The good news: there are TONS of ideas to steal from—Shakespeare (apparently, his ideas weren't original either), Grimm's fairy tales, Mother Goose, and even more contemporary writers (Stephanie Meyers, JK Rowling), although the market is over-saturated with vampire romances so you might want to give that a break for a little while. 

My last three books (and ALL my works/ideas in progress) are multicultural.

According to the Cooperative Childrens' Book Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (CCBC), out of the approximately 5,000 books that were published in 2013 and 3,200 books that came into the CCBC, only 90 were written by Asian Pacific Americans and only 69 were about Asian Pacific Americans. That's about 2.8% of the books at the CCBC written by Asian authors and 2.16% about Asian characters. So, hopefully my current multicultural works will fill a significant void in children's literature.

Why Do I Write the Types of Books I Write?

I've always loved kids. And I've always loved creating stories (ever since I was about 11). Writing for children was one way to combine these two. At one point, I thought I might try my hand at writing an adult novel, but I have since discovered that I have absolutely NO interest in writing for adults. When adults read a book, they might recommend it to a friend or family member if they really enjoyed it. When children connect with a book or story they read, you can see it in their entire being: the wonder and awe and joy they feel is so apparent in the way they touch the book, or ask for the story to be read over and over again, or ask questions I had never even considered, or want to talk endlessly about the details of the book or the characters. As a writer, this is when I really get the sense my book has touched someone. And when I can connect with those kids in person at a school visit, that's when being a children's author is really special!

How Does My Writing Process Work?

It tends to vary project by project. Sometimes, it starts with a vague idea of a plot, sometimes with character, sometimes with a situation. For picture books, I usually dive right into the writing after I get the idea and somewhere along the way, it'll assume a fuzzy shape. But this shape is far from perfect, so after I have a very messy first draft, I'll try to sharpen the focus by storyboarding it or dummying it to make sure there is enough illustrative potential on each page, tension, character development and all the necessary story elements. Then it goes to my writer's group and sometimes a few select beta readers. The revision process takes a long time because I tend to be a perfectionist so even picture books can take 10 - 15 drafts before I have something I'm comfortable sending out. I haven't had a novel published yet, but I find it helpful with my current longer projects to have a general outline to go by. A chapter-by-chapter outline is a good road map. I don't always stick to it and I change things around constantly, but if I forget where I'm going, I can always have it to look at and help me get back on track.

I was supposed to tag three other writers for this blog tour, but out of all the writers I asked, only one could participate.

So, I'd like you to meet...

Terena Scott:

Terena and I met when our ten minute plays were both part of a ten minute play festival. We later collaborated on a play together for the Ukiah Player's Theatre 24-hour play festival. Terena and I are now members of the Underground Writer's Guild of Ukiah. She is also the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at Medusa's Muse Press, an indy publishing company specializing in non-fiction and memoir. She is a playwright, essayist, and she writes books for young readers. Terena also teaches workshops on publishing books. Her book, Be A Pro: The Start up Guide for Publishers, will be available in E-book June, 2014.  

Terena will be posting on the Writing Process Blog Tour next Monday, June 2. Check out her blog here!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


   A couple of posts ago, I talked about creating a digital vision board. So, here's mine for 2014. I'm going to have it blown up poster-size and tacked on the bulletin board in my office. I'll review my progress mid-year and at the end of the year to see if making my goals visual will better keep me focused and on track. What are your writing resolutions or goals for the year? Do you have a vision board to share?

Saturday, January 4, 2014


Arriving in bookstores Jan. 7
Click here to pre-order the book
   Three more days till Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas' official release! My guest post on Jan. 3 on Charlesbridge Publishing's blog, UnAbridged, kicks off the January Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas blog tour! The post, "Goldy Luck's Arduous Path from Vision to Reality" talks about this picture book's nine year journey to publication and all the hands it passed through — hands that have helped mold the story into the book that will be released to the world on Jan. 7.

Writing may be a solitary endeavor, but publishing is not

   Here's the rest of the blog tour schedule:

Jan. 7 - Smart Books for Smart Kids blog, http://www.smartbooksforsmartkids.com -  
Jan. 8 - Smart Books for Smart Kids blog, http://www.smartbooksforsmartkids.com - Book
Jan. 14 - The Write Chris blog, http://thewritechris.blogspot.com - Guest post
Jan. 20 - Word Spelunking blog, http://wordspelunking.blogspot.com - Book review and
Jan. 22 - Wrapped in Foil blog, http://blog.wrappedinfoil.com - Book review
Jan. 27 - Susanna Hill blog, http://susannahill.blogspot.com - TBA

Stop on by for a chat. I would love to hear from you at each of these blog stops.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A Vision Board

    Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. We were late, late, late this year—didn't finish wrapping our presents till…Christmas morning. Well, that's one more thing on my New Year resolution list: 1) Don't put Christmas off till the last minute, along with 2) Don't wait three months between blog posts…
   Speaking of which, I just heard of something called a digital vision board. Basically, it's a visual version of a New Years' resolution list. Like the latter, you make a list of goals you want to achieve for the next year — or the next five years, if you wish. Using Photoshop or Power Point, you can create a digital board of images, photographs, artwork, musings, quotes, anything that inspires you towards those goals. You can print out your board and make it into a poster that you can put up on your wall. You can also go low tech and use a poster board and old fashioned glue or tape or just pin images to a bulletin board.
   Want to know how to create a digital vision board? Click here. And check out these samples of Vision Boards on Pinterest. Once I have mine done, I'll post it. 
   Do you have a Vision Board, visual or otherwise? Let us see it. It might inspire us to create our own.