Friday, August 30, 2013

Looking Forward

We all have things that we look forward to that get us through the week. Maybe it’s the weekend, maybe it’s a weekly date, maybe it’s that Starbucks frapp, maybe it’s that reality TV show. For me it’s Sunday afternoons.

Sunday afternoon is my writing time. Michael has graciously encouraged me to go to Starbucks and write every Sunday afternoon. So if I have a crazy week and don’t get to my writing, I can bank on Sunday. After church and lunch, I leave. Michael puts West down for his nap. I go to Starbucks, order my frapp (special treat of the week), and write for 3-4 hours. It is absolutely wonderful.

And it’s getting me through the week.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Chatter Box

Westly has become a chatter box!

I am so thankful his verbal development has kicked in. He has gone from saying singular words to stringing full sentences just over this summer. And now that he’s started, he won’t stop! He talks about everything constantly. I love it!

But I think that’s also the reason I’ve been a little more tired at the end of the day. I am having to adjust to a little voice constantly chatting in my ear, and a little person constantly needing me to respond and comment to him. And now that his voice is in my ear, there’s no room for those other voices in my head.
I no longer have the luxury of inner dialogue between my characters, or imaginative play with my story. My story is no longer festering in my head. Which means I have to be more purposeful about carving out time for that.

But it’s so worth it, especially when West says sweet things like, “Mama’s pretty.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

They're Here!

New books are here! 
Only 2 weeks till their release!
Sat. Sep. 7 at Toy Zoo from 10am-12pm
Raffles, prizes, activities, book signing.
For more info on event and prizes, go to

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Visit from Grammy

This week I've been a little out of touch cuz my mom has been here visiting.
I'll be back soon!

Monday, August 19, 2013


So in order to make the changes I want to in my life in response to the writers conference I attended, I have a TO DO list.
1.      Start following other authors’ blogs (suggestions?)
2.      Read more! (suggestions?)
3.      Register for Writers Day in Oct. and submit 10 pages to be critiqued by an editor
4.      Write those 10 pages to be critiqued by an editor
5.      Keep in touch with fellow writers I met at the conference

I also want to make some changes in my parenting this fall. Westly is pre-preschool, but he loves to learn and is super smart (my unbiased opinion, of course!) Michael and I are also considering homeschooling in the future, which means I better start practicing now.
1.      Make time for at least one art project a week with Westly
2.      Practice numbers, counting, and the alphabet
3.      Let Westly help in the kitchen more
4.      Make our house more creatively stimulating (for one, create more play area, etc.)

5.      Read more about parenting toddlers

Friday, August 16, 2013

Summer's End

Michael is back to work, which means technically summer is over for us. But we had a wonderful summer together, the best in a long time. We hope you have had a great one too and continue to enjoy it until at Labor Day! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


This here is Toby the basset hound, and he's looking for a loving home. He comes with plenty of detective gadgets: Sherlock Academy Book 1, detective kit, secret boxes, Holmes hat, disguise glasses, Crayola crayons, and jar of Starburst candies. 
You have a chance to win him for free!
Make a purchase at Toy Zoo in Santa Maria before 9/7/13 and enter your name in the raffle for Toby.
Raffle drawing will be at the FINAL Book Release Event for the LAST book in the Sherlock Academy series titled Moriarty's Final Threat by FC Shaw.
Saturday, September 7 from 10am-12pm at Toy Zoo
Raffle drawing will be at 11am and you must be present to win!

For more chances to win more prizes, check out
See you in September!

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Crux of the Matter

One of the key ways the SCBWI conference changed me was in helping me define myself as a writer. I have loved to write since I was a kid. I knew I was meant to write and HAD to write. I had a vague idea of WHY I wrote, but the past couple years I’ve been struggling with answering the WHY with a concrete answer that I believed in. Sure, I write because I love kids, I love stories, and I love expressing my creativity in this way. But there had to be a deeper reason. I knew there was one, but I hadn’t found it, mainly because I had not been challenged to.

One of the keynote speakers, YA author Matt de la Pena, challenged us with two poignant questions:
Where am I coming from as a writer? What’s my point of view as a writer?

Essentially, WHY do I write?

I spent the rest of the weekend pondering this. By the time I was leaving the conference, I knew the answers to these questions, and it lit a fire in my heart. The funny thing is I was able to answer the second question (what’s my point of view) through the answer of the first question (where do I come from?)
I had a magical childhood. My childhood was safe, nurturing, imaginative, and downright fun. I was given time and encouragement to make-believe, play, explore, and create. I grew up going to Disneyland. I spent lots of time with my grandma at her house where imagination thrived. I read a ton. And I didn’t want to grow up.

This is all reflected in my writing. I love writing stories of whimsy, imagination, and childhood.

But I realized something both sobering and heart wrenching.

I was lucky—I was not the norm. Not every kid experiences a safe, happy, and creative childhood. In fact, a lot of kids don’t even have a childhood. Their childhood is robbed from them by unfortunate events, cruel grown-ups, and na├»ve choices. This is a tragedy. Every kid deserves a childhood.
That’s where I can help. I can give every child who reads my books a bit of childhood magic. So that no matter what their life is like, no matter how they’re growing up, they are guaranteed a bit of childhood that they are owed.

That’s why I write. That’s why I HAVE to write.

Friday, August 9, 2013

A Breath of Inspiration

Every speaker at the SCBWI writers conference had words of wisdom, wit, and inspiration for us. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from them:

Books are proof that humans can do magic! –Anonymous

Be the antidote to disappointing grown-ups—defend, protect, and celebrate childhood. –Laurie Halse Anderson, author

Don’t expect your success to look like anyone else’s success. –Melisssa Manlove, editor

To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong. –Joseph Chilton Pearce

Don’t avoid problems and weaknesses; address them front on and make them strengths. –Allyn Johnston, editor

Be bold and experimental. Childhood by definition is experimental. –Mac Bartnett, author

The hardest definition to break and defy is self-definition. –Matt de la Pena, author

There will never be another one of You. This is it! Your one life! –Carolyn Mackler, author

Writing should come first! –Jenny Bent, agent

You have to know the rules in order to break them to do something powerful. –Anonymous

Writers help people become humans. –Namrata Tripathi, editor

All stories are about survivors. – Richard Peck, author

Make magic, preserve wonder. –Jarrett Krosoczka, author

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Top Ten

I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to share my experience at the SCBWI writers conference I just got back from. Like I mentioned earlier, it has changed my life. And I’m not even sure how to convey the scope of it all. So I made a list.
Top 10 Things I Learned:
1.      The writing community is made of the most generous, friendly, and funny people out there.
2.      Authors, agents, and even editors are not only super creative and passionate about children’s books, but are authentic, warm people
3.      Editors are not cold, heartless people who love rejecting your work—they are smart, creative experts who have a passion for books and children
4.      Every author, no matter how successful he/she is, has been rejected multiple times and still struggles with his/her craft
5.      To succeed as a writer, you have to view it as more than a hobby—it’s a career and should be taken seriously as one by yourself
6.      Be unique and be yourself because that’s what editors and readers want from you
7.      To be a great writer you must be brave and unafraid to be wrong
8.      Know who you are, where you come from, and why you write
9.      Never give up

10.  The writing comes first! Write!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Highlights from the SCBWI Conference

I'm back. The conference was educational, inspirational, and I will never be the same for it. I have much to share, but until I can finish processing it all, some photo highlights will have to do!

 My new friend Roni who I carpooled with and was my conference buddy

 This is just half of the Ballroom where we gathered for key note speakers of celebrity status in the world of children's literature

 A few snaps of the lux Hyatt Regency where we roomed and learned

 Author Jay Asher (best known for the YA "13 Reasons Why") who actually lives in San Luis! He is quite a celeb in YA fiction and the nicest guy ever

Another big celeb Arthur Levine. Founder of a big publishing house and one of the editors responsible for bringing Harry Potter to the shelves! He read us poetry and made us weep.