Friday, September 28, 2012

Friendspiration Friday: Pauletta Brooks

Let the jealousy continue as I introduce yet another amazing member of my Critique Group.

Pauletta Brooks is a class act.  She is a creative soul with a light playful spirit and a sophisticated, wise disposition.  Her stories are a blend of emotional weight and whimsy.  It doesn't surprise me that she sits upon her fire escape, a la Holly Golightly, and writes. 

Please welcome Pauletta Brooks...
What do you do in real life?     
"REAL LIFE", as in making a living?? I have a jewelry design business. It keeps me always a bit frantic and on the edge of insanity, but also keeps me in touch with a creative side of my brain and keeps my hands out of trouble!

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?  
When I realized something other than transcendental meditation was needed to get my mind to relax. I never actually call myself a 'writer' by the way. When I was a kid I'd write poetry, plays or funny ad campaigns for TV commercials, but I also struggled with writing in school. It never came easy to me. Writing picture books has been a great joy for me primarily because I don't consider myself a 'writer' in the formal sense and can therefore enjoy the process without the worry of having to get published.

How often do you write? Where? What time of day?     
I find my brain is most relaxed in the late afternoon, when many of the To Do items have been tackled and I can grab a few moments to sit out on my fire escape and work on some of the ideas that have been floating around my head.  It's sporadic, for sure. I keep a notebook filled with ideas for stories. A lot of 'starts' waiting to be worked on. When the mood strikes, I grab that notebook and will write and edit. I generally have to remove myself from all other distractions. But it becomes "my time" and I always feel rewarded. 

What was your favorite story/book as a child? and why?        
I read and reread The Phantom Tollbooth so many times. As well, Edith Hamilton's Greek Mythology. Both are books that take you on a journey to a fantasy place but not in a sci-fi way.

What kind of stories do you like to write? Where do you get your inspiration?             
I don't look for inspiration, somehow it finds me. Today for example, as I was walking along 14th St there were two elderly people speaking to each other. Clearly, hard of hearing, they both spoke in a volume that allowed me to hear their conversation halfway down the block. The woman, about 4' 2", well over 80 and overly saturated with rouge on her cheeks, asked the man "So, what-a-ya' gonna go eat?'  His response was, "Well, because I am a cannibal, I will have to eat you first, then maybe a BLT". This was an odd and unexpected thing to hear and could easily inspire a story. I think I'm more suited to concept books though as I fancy myself an 'idea' person more than a 'word' person.

What did you want to be when you grew up?       
Always an artist of some sort. I had a fascination for making things: dances, puppets, doll clothes, stories or plays with costumes, mud cakes…. I never wanted to be anything other than just a kid in a kid world.

If you could go back in time and tell your 8 year old self one thing, what would it be?             
Don't let others hold you back. You don't have to be the best, you just have to be.

What is the greatest piece of writing advice you have ever received?                      Lately, 2 things have hit home:   1.Stop writing and start listening;  2.ECONOMY of words. It only takes 6 words to tell a whole story. 

Do YOU have a Friendspiration that you would like to introduce us to on a future Friday?  Email me at and we will set that up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Writers Weigh In: Why?

Has anyone ever asked you "why?"

Well, just last week, while discussing a manuscript with someone, I was asked.  "Why do you want to write Picture Books and be published?"

Of course, many of us could answer with "I have stories that need to be told", "I want to make kids happy", "I wanna make people laugh", etc  But have you ever TRULY thought about why being published means something to you?

Let's face it, even if we wanted it to, this is not about becoming rich and famous.  :)

It got me thinking.  What is it about life after first publication that excites me? 

Before I even knew what kind of books I wanted to write, I have had the fantasy of opening "the box" and seeing several copies of a book with my name on it.  I have also had a recurring fantasy about having a book launch and signing at Books of Wonder here in NYC.  But both of those are just moments and don't quite answer the question.

What is it about the life of the author that I want to lead? 

Here are just a few of my "author fantasies":
  • School and Library visits
    • As a former teacher I would LOVE to be able to go back into the classroom as the Guest Speaker and spend time with the kids.
  • Special Events
    • I am a people person, so manning a table full of my books to sell and be signed sounds divine!  Princeton Book Festival here I come...some day...
  • Workshop Presenter at conferences.
  • Writing Instructor
    • Again, I miss my teaching days and would LOVE to be able to teach writing at Gotham Writers Workshop or the equivalent.  In fact, Gotham does not have a class that is solely Picture Book.  They lump all Children's Writing (PB, MG, YA) into one class.  But I would love to change that once I am published.
What is it about the "published author" life that excites you?  How do you see yourself after publication?

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Heart Picture Book Academy!

I have been quiet about the online class I have been taking for the past 3 weeks, but I can't hold it in any longer.  I am absolutely LOVING Dr. Mira Reisberg's Picture Book Academy and I want everyone to know it!!

Last autumn I took my very first writing class at Gotham Writers Workshop in NYC.  I had the option of participating in either an online version of the class or a once a week class in Greenwich Village.  I chose to take the "live" class thinking that online classes just weren't for me.  In fact, I had a long list of reasons why I was against online classes. 

Fast forward one year.  I have had two Gotham classes under my belt, along with various workshops and presentations at two conferences.  I am really progressing in my writing...yet life is much much busier!  Although I desired to take another writing class before the end of 2012, I could not seem to find one that fit my schedule.  And truth is, I do not have a consistent day or evening to commit.

Enter Dr. Mira Reisberg and The Picture Book Academy's new e-course "The Craft and Business of Writing Children's Picture Books."  Now at first glance, this looks like just another introduction to  of picture book writing classes.  And I wasn't quite sure that I wanted to spend money on a class that was going to just focus on the basics. 

And then I read further...

The cost for this 5 week adventure includes:
-- a one-hour one-on-one Skype or email consultation with me, Dr. Mira Reisberg (a $95 value)
-- access to all course materials for the 5 weeks plus an additional 3 weeks of access
-- your inclusion in a small private online critique group that you get to keep if you like
-- our own private Facebook group
-- a keep-forever searchable pdf of course content (value $80)
-- super handy templates
-- and infinitely more materials than could ever be shared in a geographically in-person class. 

Not to mention, Mira states that "At the end of the course, you’ll have a completed manuscript and targeted cover letter ready to send to your ideal editor or agent!"

Wow!  I was sold!  And for only $249!

PictureNow I know that this sounds like an advertisement, and I apologize for that.  But I can tell you, this is perhaps the BEST deal I have ever encountered as far as classes are concerned.  Why?  Because of Mira.

Mira is so accessible and answers any questions quickly always willing to go above and beyond for her students.  In fact, my one-on-one critique was at her house in Sacramento, CA when I was on vacation!  She took such care with my work and line by line helped me polish my manuscript until it was shining!  I left her house feeling like a real writer on the brink of something big.  Her warmth and support have helped me grow so much in the last 3 weeks.

And now, I am working on a cover letter and researching agents/editors to send my manuscript onto.  Under Mira's guidance I will have a full package ready to submit before the class is over.

I could go on and on about this class, but most importantly I want to convince many of you to take advantage of this opportunity and enroll.  The next class starts on October 29th.  Don't you deserve to take this step in your career?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Friendspiration Friday: Kathy Berman

Kathy Berman is both a member of my Critique Group AND a participant in many of the online forums I belong to (12x12in12, PiBoIdMo). 
I truly enjoy sharing a real-life and online relationship with her.  We can even chat about our online friends and it makes it all the more real. 
As a writer, Kathy's work is playful and insightful.  There is no doubt in my mind that her dedication to her craft will pay off BIG TIME! 
It is with pride that I introduce another stellar member of my Critique Group, Kathy Berman...
What do you do in real life?

I recently retired from teaching in NYC elementary schools. In between I worked in the NYC garment district as a textile designer. I am now living happily ever after doing what I love to do-- writing children's picture books and creating assemblages and sculptures using found objects.

 When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

 When I was a kid, I wrote plays with my friends. I became obsessed with incorporating the story with the musical hits of the time.  So I guess you could say we put on musicals in the garage that no one wanted to watch, except for the little kids that we bribed. As a teacher, one of my favorite times of the day was teaching writing to my students.  It was then that I realized I had stories to tell as well.

 How often do you write? Where? What time of day?

 I write at least 5 days a week, at any time, even in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.

I try to alternate my writing time with my art, but lately I've been doing more writing, thanks to the motivation I get from the fabulous 12 X 12 group. I usually write on my laptop in every room of the house.That is the one drawback of being a writer, you have to sit a lot, so I move from chair to chair throughout my house. I also write on little pieces of paper that I keep in my purse when I am not home. I should carry a notebook.

 What was your favorite story/book as a child? And why?

 I have to admit I didn't read much when I was a kid. We didn't have books in the house and no one read  stories to us. I came from a family with five kids, so my mom was busy. But my friend had the Walt Disney version of Alice in Wonderland, which totally enchanted my senses. Later on I read the “real” version. I love everything about this imaginative adventure; the illustrations, the characters, the intrigue, language,  and drama.

 What kind of stories do you like to write? Where do you get your inspiration?

 I like to write humorous stories with quirky characters that surprise the reader. I absolutely loved reading aloud to my own children as well as to kids as a teacher. Their reactions are always priceless. Kids, nature and every day life inspire me. 

 What did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher. I used to practice being a teacher in my neighbor's garage.  We had it set-up with fake black boards and make-shift desks. And now I plan to be a published author (because I'm still growing).

 If you could go back in time and tell your eight year old self one thing, what would it be?

 Read, read, read.

 What was the greatest piece of writing advice you have ever received?

 I have to say, “write what you know” is probably on the top of the list. But reading the current picture book titles as well as the classic is crucial for understanding pacing, structure and voice. I spend many hours reading picture books in the library and at Barnes and Noble. It has given me a sense of what works and what doesn't. SO many great books out there, and so many others, you wonder why they ever got published. My third piece of advice I was given was to join a critique group. I am fortunate to be in Marcie's group. Constructive feedback from my group has been essential to my journey to getting published. Sorry I gave more than one piece of advice, but they have all had an impact on my writing.
Do YOU have a Friendspiration that you would like to introduce us to?  If so, email me at and I'll make it happen!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Writers Weigh In: What will YOU Do Today?

It is often said "Write Everyday."  However, those of us pursuing this crazy career will often admit that living up to that mantra is sometimes difficult. 

I urge you to make a plan.  Do not get overwhelmed.  I agree that the WIPs folder can seem daunting, that plot hole you have been working on for months seems hopeless, the deadline for that writing contest is looming.  But the best way to tackle all of these projects is one day at a time. 

Remember...the climb might be great, but there is beauty at every step.

Sit down today.  Put fingers to keys.  Or pen to paper.  Do SOMETHING.  Even if it is even for 10 minutes.

And then at the end of the day PROUDLY remind yourself, "I AM  A WRITER!"

For example, today I will:
  • Blog
  • Finish critiquing manuscripts for my Crit Group tonight.
  • Work on a curriculum guide I am writing
Writers Weigh In!  What will you do today for your writing career?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Redwoods by Jason Chin: Blending Non-fiction and Fiction through Words and Illustrations

When on vacation last week in the San Francisco Bay Area, we ventured to Muir Woods in Marin County.  It happens to be one of my most favorite places, not only because of the majestic beauty of the trees but the amazing scent.  I wish I could buy a bottle of that scent to fill my Brooklyn apartment with.  It can't even be described.

So, with a hope and a prayer of finding such a bottle of scented heaven, I wandered into the Gift Shop.  I didn't find a way to bring home the aroma, but what I did find was quite a treat.

Sitting on the shelf with other books was a picture book called "Redwoods" by a fellow Brooklynite, Jason Chin.  I opened it up and immediately fell in love.

What struck me is that this book is non-fiction, yet totally fiction at the same time.  The words tell a very dry, fact-filled non-fiction account of the trees.  Yet, the illustrations take the reader on the most magnificent journey.

A small boy finds a book about redwood trees on the platform of the NYC Subway.  He picks it up, hops on the F Train and starts reading.  With each page turn he literally becomes more and more involved with the words until he exits the station and finds himself in a redwood forest. 

Taken alone, the words are very textbook.  But adding the illustrations makes this non-fiction book sing! 

I have never attempted a non-fiction picture book, however, I urge anyone who has or might someday want to, to take a look at "Redwoods" by Jason Chin.

“The story in the illustrations shows in lovely metaphor how a tiny seed of information can take root in a fertile mind and grow into a strong, fire- and disease-resistant, redwood-sized understanding.” —Los Angeles Times

“Chin’s watercolor illustrations capture both the majesty of the redwoods and the young boy’s inquisitive personality, and while the idea of a storybook so vivid that it comes to life is not new, what sets this one apart is that Chin has paired his fantastical visual narrative with a straightforward nonfiction text.” —Starred,Horn Book

“The straightforward narrative is given enormous energy by the inventive format and realistic watercolor illustrations—their soft edges and muted hues suit the mist-shrouded giants. Chin adeptly captures the singular and spectacular nature of redwoods in this smartly layered book.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

Sunday, September 16, 2012

International Dot Day: Make Your Mark, Life Lesson Learned

"The Dot" by Peter Reynolds is a simple little picture book that packs a HUGE lesson..."Make your mark, and see where it takes you."  In every aspect of life I cannot think of a greater lesson.

In the spirit of this amazing book, people all over are celebrating International Dot Day!  It was just too much for this kidlit blogger to resist.

However, the experience was more than I expected.

A little backstory...earlier in the day I had run with my team, training for the NYC Marathon which is only a short 7 weeks away.  We ran through the Palisades in New Jersey.  It was so scenic and breath-takeningly beautiful...although I am sure that it was the intense hills that were taking my breath more.  But, I felt strong, I felt good...until I got done and realized that I was running at a really really slow pace.  My bubble was burst!  I felt totally deflated.  I had only run 11.5 miles and I was hoping for more. 

So...I headed home feeling a little discouraged about the upcoming marathon and wondering just how dark it will be outside when I finally hit that finish line.  Ugh.

After a bite to eat and a hot shower, I dusted off some old art supplies to complete my dot for International Dot Day.   I decided on watercolor...not because it is the medium used in the book, but because it is my absolute favorite...AND I feel totally UNABLE to use it. What a perfect place to start. 

I sat with my aching legs raised and frozen Brussels sprouts on each sore shin, and I slowly dipped my brush into the water and then into the brilliant yellow watercolor. 

I began. 

I made a dot.  I let it dry.  I added more color.  And repeated.  And repeated.  Each time the dot became more and more beautiful than before.  My pride grew.  I was creating something one step at a time.  It was a slow process, but I was an artist.

Remember, I am a picture book WRITER who is always incredibly quick to let others know that I AM NOT artistic and I DO NOT illustrate! 

I am also a runner who does not call herself a runner. 

But step by step.  Dot by dot we create.  We make our own unique mark.

Lesson learned...

My dot does not look like anyone else's because it is mine.  My body does not look like anyone else's is mine.  My marathon will also look like no one else's.  And I will cross that finish line in my own way.

 I will make my mark...however, slowly it may go.  Because great accomplishments take time and patience.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friendspiration Friday: Jackie Kramer

It is my pleasure to introduce yet another extremely talented member of my Critique Group as part of Friendspiration Friday.

Jackie Kramer is one of the most resourceful, "go get 'em" kind of writer that I have ever met.  I admire that about her and always know that I can get great info and critiques from her because of the passion she holds for this genre.  Plus, not only is Jackie incredibly saavy about writing, she is also one of the published authors in our group.  You can check out her wonderful work at

Please welcome the fabulous Jackie Kramer!

What do you do in real life?

 What time is it? No kidding…I need to check my watch first. Here’s an edited version of my CV: actor, director, guidance counselor, singer, sales rep, waitress, arts administrator, voice over/narrator, receptionist. Funny, looking back, I got something out of each and every one of those jobs. Now I’d like to answer this differently, if you will. I, personally, never ask or care what a person does. At one time, it may have mattered, but I’m more interested in “who” you are, than what you do. To me there is no difference between work hard and play hard. That being said, who am I? I’m a mom and wife. I have an artistic soul with a globe trekking spirit. I try to live my life in the moment, present, open with compassion and in search of purpose and meaning. In addition, I write.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

True story…when I was 4 years old, my mother, who’s from Puerto Rico and spoke little English, mentioned to my nursery school teacher how impressed she was because I was already reading. My teacher (sorry to say I don’t remember her name) responded that that was impossible and handed me a picture book to prove her point. Without pause, I happily and convincingly “read” the pages of the story I was making up. She whispered in my mother’s ear, that indeed, I wasn’t reading. My mother replied, “But it’s such a good story.”

How often to do you write? Where? What time of day?

I’ll look for ANY excuse not to write. I’ll read a book, watch an old movie, do anything outdoors, get yummy food, hang with my kids or friends. So, inspiration ends up being everywhere and there for the taking. When the idea hits me there’s no stopping me from writing. When I write, it’s like being in love. I’m excited and I can’t stop doing it, day or night. I want to dive in completely and yet, I feel vulnerable and a little scared of the result. It’s all or nothing for me.

What was your favorite story/book as a child? and why?

The picture book version of King Arthur - Sword in the Stone. I was about 7 or 8 years old and my parents took my three siblings and me out of school for a month to live in Montego Bay, Jamaica. There, in a pile of books, I found Sword in the Stone, and it was glorious. Before that moment, I was horseback riding everyday and pretending I was a mermaid in the bluest, warmest water. I was hooked to this book. What’s not to love about a story of an orphan, destined to be King, if only he can pull the sword from the stone? A quest filled with humor, magic, Merlin and Mad Madam Mim!

What kind of stories do you like to write? Where do you get your inspiration? 

Oh boy, hmmm, I’m going to share big time here. This may require psychoanalysis to get at the core. But, I believe all the stories I’ve written, am writing and maybe, will ever write, are in someway or another, about me. No matter whom the protagonist, like Paolo, in Oinkers Aweigh, a pig who dreams to be in the Navy or spunky Eva the Diva, fashion designer or loving sister, Bella, who’ll do anything to make her baby brother, Miles Smile, I feel it’s me. I believe, it’s called Transference.
For those of you who know me, you may want to test my theory. Take a peek at these and my other eBooks, published on Shameless plug, but I’d love to hear your thoughts:)

What did you want to be when you grew up?

Assuming I’ve grown up…I wanted to be a singer with the coolest back up band EVER! Still do.

If you could go back in time and tell your 8 year old self one thing, what would it be?

Easy! You’re an amazing human being, a complete miracle. The future is yours. Be BRAVE! Listen to you’re inner voice…there’s no one-way or right way and you can start again. Be kinder to yourself. While on this crazy journey…love, love and laugh a lot.

What is the greatest piece of writing advice you have ever received?

Honestly, I don’t feel I’ve been given one piece of amazing advice. Rather, I’ve listened and shared wonderful nuggets from various mentors in the kidlit community. Including the two supportive crit groups I belong to, their insights are invaluable. In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve gathered…be inspired and write with complete abandon, but then be prepared to revise, revise and revise some more.

Do YOU have a Friendspiration you would like to introduce us to on a future Friday? Please send an email to and we will make that happen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Writers Weigh In: Onomatopoeia adds OOMPH!


I grew up watching reruns of the 1960s Adam West Batman television where comic book style onomatopoeias such as wham!, pow!, "biff!", crunch and "zounds" appear onscreen during fight scenes. So much fun!

Onomatopoeia pulls the reader in, makes the story come to life and is a blast to read aloud.  It is a perfect addition to many picture books.

But I neglect to add such fun whimsy into my own stories and often find myself adding it later on when reminded.

Writers Weigh In!  What is your favorite onomatopoeia word?  What onomatopoeia words have you used in your own writing? 

Monday, September 10, 2012

GUTGAA: Pitch Polish

I am participating in Deana Barnhart's "Gearing Up to Get an Agent" and today I am posting one of my pitches for the Pitch Polish Blog Hop. 

Having a solid, concise pitch of your book is so important.  And I have to say it is something that I always fret over.  I never feel like I sound very confident when sharing what any of my stories are about. 

According to Cynthia Liu at Writing for Children & Teens,
  • The pitch is the most important part of your letter. If you haven't messed up the intro, this is where the editor or agent will really tune in. You'll want to write something that...
  1. Entices (leaves the reader wanting more)
  2. Encapsulates the book
  3. Matches the tone of your book if possible
  • The pitch is usually written in third person, present tense, no matter what person or tense the book is written in.
  • Example:
  1. When X-year-old MAIN CHARACTER does X, she had no idea Y WOULD HAPPEN. Now ANOTHER CHARACTER is out to Z. MAIN CHARACTER must find a way to thwart Z but her ADJECTIVE ANOTHER CHARACTER and ADJECTIVE ANOTHER CHARACTER aren't going to make it easy for her. MAIN CHARACTER will have to learn X to find a way to Y and that might take some real Z.
  • Hahaha! Easy to understand, right? The best way to define a pitch is to study them and draw your own conclusions. Where can you find pitches? Your bookstore and library. Every book jacket is a pitch. Jackets have the same function as query letters-to sell the work, to entice...etc., If you read a lot of jackets, you can begin to boil it all down to a certain structure. A certain rhythm. Look at published books out there now. Find a jacket you think reads well and see if you can use it as a guide for creating your own pitch.
So, without further adieu, here is a pitch for one of my current manuscripts...


Edgar LOVES vegetables.  He can't get enough of them.  But when everyone, including the President of the United States, starts sending their unwanted veggies to Edgar, he realizes that too much of a good thing can be, well, too much.  Edgar tries to put an end to the vegetable deliveries, finally burying them deep in some very fertile soil.  Add some moonlight, a little dew and the creepiest of gardens grows.  NIGHT OF THE LIVING ZOM-PEAS is The Twilight Zone meets your dinner plate!  Don't be surprised, parents, if your kids want to eat more vegetables by the last page.

First 150 Words:

Edgar loved vegetables.  He couldn’t get enough of them. 
He was crazy about the crunch, frantic for the freshness, and swooned over the snap!
Whenever someone did not want to eat their vegetables,
peas snuck,broccoli crept and lima beans wandered onto Edgar’s plate.
It started with his sister.  Then his parents. 
But soon veggies came from everywhere.  Teachers, neighbors,
school crossing guards, the mailman
doctors,astronauts, zookeepers,
Even the President of the United States!
One day,upon delivery of some string beans from the Queen of England, Edgar had more vegetables than he could eat! 
He tried to send the vegetables back.
He hid under his bed,
He wore a disguise.
He went on vacation.
But the vegetables always found him.
He asked his pets for help, but rabbits can only eat so many veggies. 
The goldfish only stared at them
and the dog quit after an unsavory batch of Brussels sprouts gave him the burps.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friendspiration Friday: Heather Newman on Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

If today's Friendspiration post seems like a love letter its no surprise! 
The 12x12in12 community online is one of the most supportive and encouraging communities.  And that very community is where Heather Newman met her Friendspiration, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor. Its a match made in 12x12in12 heaven.  A true coast-to-coast collaboration!
Please join me in welcoming Heather...

Elizabeth Stevens Omlor joined the 12X12 Challenge in a blaze of banana peelin' glory. I met her when she was looking for an artist to create a badge for her blog series Banana Peel Thursday and she was such fun to work with, I jumped at the chance to be in her critique group. Our group formed in February and by her own admission, Elizabeth was fairly new to writing with no experience in formal critiques. It was a bit of a rocky start. She shared her emotions about the first round of critiques openly on her blog and ended up touching on the side of writing that is rarely talked about. What to do when you feel like you've been walloped upside the head by literary feedback. Well, she crawled out from under the laundry pile, found her voice and kept on writing. Thank goodness she did!
I am in awe of Elizabeth's talent and passion. Over the past seven months she has honed her craft to the point of attracting ninja agents at an online conference with her humor and skill. She has written stories that have me laughing out loud as I read them, earning many odd looks from my kids. You'll understand when you have the opportunity to meet her macho men on the bookshelf of your local store because I know that excellent manuscript is going to find the perfect publishing house someday. Her blog offers a witty look at the process of writing for children and her Banana Peel series tames the publishing experience by featuring published authors who share their oops moments from their own writing journeys.
Elizabeth is genuinely excited when a fellow 12X12 member receives good news and she is the biggest cheerleader when someone is feeling down about their work. Her critiques have helped me to improve my own writing and I am very grateful that she's willing to share her hard earned knowledge.
So, thank you, Elizabeth, for your humor, support, enthusiasm and especially your stories.
However, you don't have to take my word for it. Here's what some other 12X12 members had to say about the lovely Elizabeth Stevens Omlor.
I love Elizabeth! She has a terrific sense of humor and her posts are always a bright spot in my day. I love the Banana Peelin' series because it humanizes the writing experience so well - we all make mistakes and have embarrassing moments and it's nice to know we're not alone.”
-Susanna Leonard Hill
Elizabeth is the most hilarious, humble, genuine person I've ever, EVER met! And, yes, I have totally met her IN PERSON! She has this ability to write stories that are bold enough and smart enough to make you sit back and say, "Woah." I'm astonished at her talent, and so grateful for her friendship. She inspires me to write from my heart and she has no idea how amazing she truly is. Love that gal...”-Bethany Telles
I admire Elizabeth's sarcastic optimism. She is able to laugh at herself and the absurdity of life, while also smiling and letting you know that it will all be ok.” - Marcie Colleen
"How do I like Elizabeth? I'd count the ways...but there are too many! I glommed onto Elizabeth right away because I like that girl's style and humor. She's simpatica, capite? She makes me snicker. She makes me not feel so weird. She shows me that it's okay to embrace -- nay, to CELEBRATE -- one's quirks, and to capitalize on them. She writes stories involving chest hair. She's not afraid to laugh at herself, or to invite everyone else to laugh at her, too. She's fearless. She's got my respect. I would buy her many beers. And if she ever gets to Italy, we are going to have one heckuva hootenanny!" - Renee LaTulippe

Heather Newman is an extremely talented illustrator living in Porter, Maine.  You can check her out at and  Her work has ranged from murals to pencil portraits to books, but her favorite projects have always involved artwork for children.

Do YOU have a Friendspiration you would like to introduce us to on a future Friday? Please send an email to and we will make that happen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Writers Weigh In: Random Acts of Publicity 2012

This week Darcy Pattison is hosting The Random Acts of Publicity 2012 focusing on Conversations about Books. The basic idea of the Random Acts of Publicity is to take the focus off yourself and your own work for a week and instead focus on a friend’s book or a favorite book. 

So today, I would love to blog about a book I have talked about before.

Marathon Mouse, by Amy Dixon will be released on October 16, 2012.  It is her debut picture book and is published by Sky Pony Press.

I am so excited about this book and would love to generate some real buzz in the community about its release.

Marathon Mouse is a delightful story of an ambitious little mouse named Preston who lives under the Verrazano Bridge in NYC.  Although most mice detest Marathon Day, Preston dreams of joining the race.  Despite his family's teasing and disbelief, Preston runs the marathon.  But will this little mouse avoid getting trampled on and make it to the finishline?  For all of those out there who long to be extraordinary and accomplish the un-thinkable, Preston is a wonderful role model.

You can learn more about Amy and Preston at please put this adorable, inspiring title on your list of purchases this fall! 

So, now its your turn, Writers!  Join The Random Acts of Publicity 2012 and weigh in!

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA: Meet n Greet

Time to kick off the second year of The Write Routine, and I am going to do it in a BIG way!  I am participating in a challenge on Deana Barnhart's site.  Its called "Gearing Up to get an Agent" and will be running for 6 weeks.  This challenge gives participants the chance to polish their pitches and possibly be noticed by agents!  Count me in!
To begin, we have been asked to provide a Meet and Greet on our blogs.  So, today I bring you a little look into Marcie Colleen.  :)  Read and enjoy!  And head over to Deana's site if you want in on this fabulous opportunity!

Questions for the Meet and Greet
Bio  Marcie Colleen is an aspiring Picture Book writer.  In former chapters of her life she was a high school teacher, an actress, a director, a freelance teacher/director, went skydiving, worked for the legendary Tony Randall, partied with Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi, and worked on various Broadway and Off Broadway shows.  She loves documentary movies (geek!), baseball, cooking and coffee. She longs to dabble more in photography, play a little guitar/ukulele and write songs.   
This November Marcie will be running her first marathon, the ING NYC Marathon on November 4th.   She lives in Brooklyn, NYC with her boyfriend, Jonathan and her sock monkey, Bloois.
Where do you write?  I wish I could say that I ALWAYS write in a cute little writer's nook in my house.  But the truth is that I need to write when I can and where I can.  Therefore, I own a little laptop that I carry with me to work and other places that inspiration might hit me.  Currently I am sitting in my local coffee shop so that I can utilize their free wi-fi and delicious Pumpkin Bread.

I often write at work.  I am a nanny so I have a built in "nap time" in my day which can sometimes last up to 3-4 hours.  Then I can be found either sitting legs-crossed on the couch writing or sitting at the dining toom table.

I also have a little desk area in my apartment, however, I do not use it as much for writing as I would like.  I often write during the my weekends are for time spent with friends and my boyfriend.

I also sometimes write at my boyfriend's art studio while he works.  That's always nice.  And of course, like any writer, I am constantly writing something in my head!

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?  Well, as I sit here in the coffee shop I see a man in plaid shorts and flip flops who is also working.  Its a busy Sunday here.  I love the energy of a bunch of others working in a laid-back neighborhood environment.

Favorite time to write?  Nap time, which is usually between 12-3pm Mondays through Fridays.  If I can accomplish a lot of writing during those hours I feel I can truly enjoy my time in the evenings doing something else.

Drink of choice while writing?  Sitting at this coffee shop I had to purchase something to wash down the Pumpkin Bread (did I mention it was delicious?).  I am, therefore, drinking a hot chamomile tea.  However, usually I stick to ice water.  I am currently training for the NYC Marathon this November, so constant hydration is key.

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?  In normal circumstances I don't listen to music.  But some girls were at the table next to me talking about last night's drama and I needed to tune it out.  So I am listening to my iPod.  I have my friend Karen Ramos' album on..."Moonlight and Theremin".  She's amazing!  Check her out! 

However, when I start working creatively on some revisions of a manuscript in a bit I am going to have to turn Karen off and perhaps find somewhere quieter to write if these girls have more drama to hash out.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?  The latest manuscript, NIGHT OF THE LIVING ZOM-PEAS, that I wrote was inspired by my latest obsession with roasted brussels sprouts.  I was slicing them one night and realized that I could eat them all day long every day.  And then I got to thinking about how too much of a good thing can be bad.  So, in my story, Edgar loves vegetables and everyone around the world sends their unwanted veggies to him.  Suddenly he is drowning in the very thing he loves and something has to be done about it. 

What's your most valuable writing tip?  Share your writing.  Become part of a community.  Whether it is in a classroom setting, a critique group or an online community.  It is very important to share what you have written and learn to take criticism.  Even when it is scary...share.  What you learn will be invaluable.  If anything, it builds pride in yourself as a writer and helps you own that title.