Friday, December 9, 2016

Writing Prompt - December 2016 - Christmas Acrostic

Come, celebrate the promised One,
Heralded by a shining star,
Revealed to all this Holy Night.
Innocent babe born in a stable,
Sought by shepherds and kings alike--
Truth has taken human form.
Make haste, rejoice, sing alleluia . . .
Announce to all the joyous news:
Son of God, Christ our savior, has been born this Christmas Day.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

November 2016 - Writing Prompt - TURKEY SURPRISE

Wednesday saw flocks,
Strutting by without a care,
In for a surprise.
Yet Thursday morning,
Not a single feather stirred,
Not a gobble heard.
Drumsticks, thighs, or breast?
Vanished like our dinner plans.
We got the surprise.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October 2016 Writing Prompt -- Scarecrow Dance

I just read a beautiful picture book, Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin and illustrated by Rob Dunleavy and was inspired to try the reverso poem format in which it was written. Since it's October, the rest of my inspiration came from here: Scarecrow Gallery


Wednesday, September 14, 2016



With fall comes that rush of back-to-school energy. A new year, a new beginning. New things to be learned, new friends to be made. A mood that has me thinking this is the perfect time to take my writing “back to the basics.” Which is a rather humbling thought—after all these years, shouldn’t I have the basics down?

Well, yes. And no. I think over time I’ve learned what the basics of story structure, of creating characters, of rhythm and pacing, of voice entail. But when one of my stories hits the desk of an agent or editor, have I applied those basics to the very best of my ability? Have I given my work the edge it needs to be the Waldo that stands out from the crowd? Judging by the ratio of rejections to nibbles . . .

No, it’s time to dig deeper. Time to take a step back. Several steps back, in fact. It’s time to go back to school. To pull those favorite books on writing for children off that dusty shelf and crack them open again. To go back through the scores of picture books I’ve read recently, pick my favorites, and dissect them as mentor texts. To boot up that online course I spent money on, put my bottom in my chair, and become a student again.

Will it pay off?

I’ll let you know.


My favorite books on writing for children:

Writing Picture Books by Ann Whitford Paul

The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books by Linda Ashman

Writing with Pictures by Uri Shulevitz

Second Sight by Cheryl Klein


The online course I’m using:

Picture Book BluePrint – Laura Backes, Children’s Book Insider

Monday, August 15, 2016

August 2016 Writing Prompts -- Star Gazing and Long Distance

We just returned from the Oregon Star Party, a week of star gazing in the Ochoco National Forest in Central Oregon, so a prompt with stars felt appropriate. I ended up with two prompts and two poems.
You will find the first pin here: Star Gazing         The second, here: Long Distance

Stars blanket dark skies . . .
If we listen they’ll whisper
Their stories to us.
I raise my eyes
Seeking answers
From a universe
So vast and deep
It may take a lifetime
For my questions
To be heard.

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 2016 Writing Prompt - Look Deeply

A bit of free verse inspired by the photo pin found here: Look Deeply 
I'm not crazy about the title so if you have a better suggestion, feel free to send it to me for consideration.

Look deeply.
See my brethren?
Nostrils flared, ears flattened,
Thundering hooves under heaving flanks,
Manes and tails unfurled like banners,
Racing their shadows across an untamed land.

Friday, June 17, 2016

June 2016 Writing Prompt - Goodbye Song

The inspiration for this month's prompt response can be found here:
Goodbye Song
Feldstone. Mr. and Mrs. Feldstone. That’s what Matron called them. It’s a nice name. But are they? None of the last people were. I can’t tell you their names—those are gone. Just like them. But not the meanness. That won’t go away. They liked being mean.
But these new people? I’m going to hope for niceness. There are nice people. Mama told me that. And Mama wouldn’t lie. Liars go to the other place. Mama went to heaven.
A man and woman just arrived. Are they the Feldstones?
Yes, Matron’s talking to them and they’re all looking at me. I like their smiles. The last people didn’t smile much. At least not at me. Yes, I’m going to hope for niceness this time. And that I won’t have to use my goodbye song.
But I will if I have to.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May 2016 Writing Prompt -- Eskimo Pie


It probably had something to do with Mother's Day, but I was thinking about mothers and mothers teaching their children as I browsed my "Write It" board on Pinterest for inspiration. Yes, the result might be seem a shade dark, but where else could my brain go when faced with this pic: Eskimo Pie Link - Photo #21

Come out, come out,
Don’t look so green.
I only want to show my cubs
How to make our favorite treat.
Fish crust, seal sauce,
You tucked between . . .
For tasty, home-made Arctic fare,
Eskimo Pie is hard to beat.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Secrets to Writing a Great Picture Book - Followup

When I was asked to deliver not just myself but our presenter, Bonny Becker, to this workshop in a safe and timely fashion, I was a bit nervous. Spokane roadways are not my home turf.  But armed with Google Maps and Bonny’s vote of confidence*, I was up for the challenge, right?
(*She may have just been resigned to her fate.)
Okay, so my confidence wavered when we took a slight detour through a business park, but with a right instead of a left, success was ours. Almost. Bonny and I now faced the ultimate challenge of our trip: the dreaded parking pay-n in the backside station. Luckily, we were in good company. If it took more writers than we’d care to admit to unravel the mysteries of the machine, that teamwork readied us for our next challenge: “The Secrets of Writing a Great Picture Book.” Happily, that trip came with not just a map, but a guided tour as well.
Our tour started with the seed of all good books—the idea, the problem needing to be solved. Using several mentor texts (including The Last Puppy by Frank Asch and her own A Visitor for Bear), Bonny guided us through a series of questions that explored the core idea behind each. Was the problem to be solved simple but profound? Was it approached in a way that was fresh but familiar? Did it reflect an activity or emotion children experience in their own lives? Was the main character(s) someone children could relate to and cheer on? Bonny emphasized that these were the same questions we needed to ask of our own story ideas.

 Next, Bonny led us through the basics of story structure: a beginning that sets up a problem; a middle where the MC works through this problem, and an ending where the problem is resolved and the MC has changed somehow. With “Millions of Cats” as our guide book, we explored how author Wanda Gag not only started her story close to the problem, but immediately created empathy for the MCs by using core traits that children relate to. We saw how Gag’s story middle progressed in a logical sequence of cause and effect, paying particular attention to how that sequence escalated in both action and emotion. Bonny pointed out that a good middle propels a story forward to its end, the key touchstone of the story. In “Millions of Cats,” the very old couple get their cat, though Gag cleverly twists how that cat is finally chosen. Whether we choose to end our story with a twist or a straightforward conclusion, Bonny told us our aim should be an emotional kicker that resonates long after the last page is turned.
The tour portion of the workshop completed, we spent the rest of our day behind the wheel, putting our new roadmap into practice. Again, we started with ideas, then took time to start expanding one of our ideas into a story, and finished the day creating a book dummy of that story. During each segment, participants had an opportunity to share their work and Bonny’s guidance throughout was generous, informative, and honest. Her feedback, and that of our peers, had some of us bogged in traffic, needing to rethink our original idea. For others, it was the hazards farther down the road that they needed to keep an eye on. We all, however, came away better prepared to tackle those problems and road trip on to our own great picture book. Thank you, Bonny.

Bonny's website can be found here:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Quicky for April's Writing Prompt - Elephant as Bird


Nothing wildly impressive here, but a test to see what I could come up with in 30 minutes or less. The photo that inspired this weird little ramble can be found here: Elephant Bird

Elephant as Bird
I wonder . . .
If an elephant could be a bird, would he ride the thermals?
Roost in the top of the baobab tree?
Entertain the waterhole with a song?
Let wide-eyed tourists snap his pic?
Or would this giant ele-bird buzz a pride of hunting lions?
Mob a cheetah from its perch?
Take a croc for an aerial spin?
And poop on nasty poachers’ heads?
I wonder . . .

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Upcoming Event--Inland NW SCBWI

I've attended workshops with Bonny in the past at the now defunct PNW Children's Book Conference. I always came away with tons of useable information and a true appreciation for just how talented this lady is. Whether you are a beginning picture book writer or someone looking to hone skills, this is the place to be Saturday, April 23.  For more information, follow this link: Secret to Writing Picture Books  I hope to see you there.
A follow-up will be posted after the event.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 2016 Writing Prompt - Mud Puppies

This month’s writing prompt can be found here: Mud Puppies Inspiration


It sits there,
Just waiting,
This puddle of mud.
Keep away?
Are you kidding?
We’ve gotta jump in.
We splash
And we wallow.
We smear
And we spread.
We dig
And we shape it.
We’ve built a town.
We add tiny people,
Some cars
And a bus.
Then stomp it,
And smoosh it,
Before starting again.
This stuff is
Please don’t
Make us leave.
Just call us
Mud puppies
In our puddle of fun.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Writing Prompt January 2016 - The Sound of the Sea

A free verse poem inspired by the photograph found here:  The Sound of the Sea

There is something about the sound of the sea.
It calls me,
It pulls me,
Until my dreams are riding the waves,
Floating through a coral jungle,
Or diving down into the deep.
There is something about the sound of the sea.
Come, listen . . .
And follow.
If this same photograph inspires you, please post your short piece or a link to it in the comment section below.