A future illustrator - Jody Labauve from Walker, LA

The other night I attended a very special Book Festival at our local Walker Elementary School in Walker, LA. I read my children's picture book The Pea in Peanut Butter to four different groups of kids. They were amazing! While the kids waited for my reading, they colored some coloring pages from my book.

Below are some that a little girl named Jody Labauve and (I think) her sister Mady Labauve colored for me!! It meant so much to me that I promised Jody I'd post them on my blog. She is an excellent colorer and so is her sister! I think we may have our next illustrator in the works. Look how she highlighted the hair and the hands in all the right spots and even textured the walls! I am truly impressed. Thank you Jody & Mady, I will treasure these forever!

What do you think?


Can you believe it? The Holidays are almost here! Don’t run and hide, it won’t do you any good.

They will be here before we know it. I actually love this time of year not only because the weather finally starts to cool down, but I love all the excitement of what the holidays bring. I love the smells, the colors, and the fluttery feeling in my stomach I get knowing that it’s fall and soon I can put on my sweats!
So, now that the holidays are coming up, have you thought of writing a holiday story? I’ve often wondered if there was an advantage to writing a holiday story or a disadvantage? Holiday stories are somewhat rare so if a publisher is particularly looking for one, you might have a great chance of getting it published. However, if they aren’t, then how good are your chances? Plus most publishers ask that when you send in a holiday story, you do so at least 12 months in advance. So that means waiting forever to actually get it published. But that really should be no hindrance since most of us writers have to wait forever to get a story published anyway!

I ran across an interesting article with tips on how to write an effective holiday story so I thought I’d share. I couldn’t find an author's name but it did say it was edited by Lucas Halbert and 7 others.
Here is the article:
When we write stories  with the purpose of sharing them with others, we enter into an agreement where we allow our reader to see a glimpse of our heart, our souls and our memories. If we truly want them to be immersed in the tale, we actively immerse ourselves in those memories so that a glimmer of what we saw, heard and felt comes through.
This is especially true with holiday tales. The best way to convey a holiday scene is to take a trip back in time through the wonderful world of our unconscious. Here are some great ways to delve back into your childhood memories and incorporate them into your holiday tales.
Sit in a darkened room and close your eyes.
Allow yourself to go back in time to the very first Christmas that you can remember. Take a deep breath and relax. What are the scents, sounds and feelings that come up? What is the first picture that pops into your mind? Is it the sound of children racing down the stairs that comes to you first? The feel of your heart pounding when you awoke and found that Christmas was really here? The sweet sugary smell of Christmas cookies baking in the oven? The warmth of your parents’ blankets as you bounced on them, anxious to wake them up?

Recreate the scene
1. If a scent triggers your memories, you can either bake the cake or cookie or brew the eggnog. Or you can get one of those scented candles and simply light it.

 2. If the feel of sweaters immediately transports you back to your snow throwing days, slip one on. If you are like me and live in Florida, turn the air way up first. Close your eyes and hear the sound of children shouting as they try to nail each other with snowballs. Picture their fresh flushed faces.

3. If there is a particular holiday character that sparks your memories, rent holiday movies. Some of my favorites are Frosty the Snowman and Miracle on Thirty fourth street. Watch one for a while, until you get the holiday feeling, then turn the sound off. Watch the pictures and let your mind go. 

Put yourself back in that period time

If you are writing about a little girl in a big family, think back to what holiday dinners were like for you. Did everyone talk at once? Does your character like this or does she feel overwhelmed? What is it like to be the smallest one in a room full of adults? Is there a cousin or neighbor that is constantly picking on her? Do the children get bored and decide to explore the forbidden attic? Once you have a scene in mind, write down all of these questions. Don’t worry about answering them until you have run out of questions. Then think back to the picture, sound or feeling that you associate with and answer the questions.

Myself, I've actually only written one holiday story and it was Halloween. I didn’t want to scare the little ones so I picked a pumpkin as my protagonist. I have yet to get it published, but have to admit it was one of the funnest stories for me to write so far! I guess I need to revise it again and start resubmitting.
How about you? What holiday stories have you written?

Back to life!!

Well darn! I'm back from vacation and life is back to normal. Why is it that vacations are so short and go by so quickly but real life seems to drag on forever before another vacation comes along.

Although my vacation wasn't very relaxing, it was fun. Our trip home to Ohio went really well, we saw lots of old friends and all of my husbands family. I even got to have dinner with my best friend and she brought some surprise friends with her. What fun that was!

Our stop in Tennessee to check out possible retirement homes was also a lot of fun. Although we didn't really find our perfect house, we did narrow down the area we will probably retire at. It's a lake and golfing community called Tellico Village and is about 20-30 miles south of Knoxville depending on what section of the village you live in.

But houses can be so deceiving from the online photo's!! Either we saw houses with gorgeous views but the inside was a gut job and really outdated, or we saw gorgeous houses inside but no view. And a view of the water, golf course or woods is a must have on my list. I tried to download some pictures for you to see but my computer has decided to take forever and I don't have that much patience today. So no pictures this time.

As far as my writing, I did absolutely nothing towards it for those 2 weeks. It felt good but strange. Not sure I liked it at all! But now it's time to get back into the swing of things. I'm working on 4 or 5 new picture books to submit so guess I better get cracking! Goodbye vacation... hello life!!