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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Endings and Beginnings

Summer is winding down here.

Usually I don't like August. There is just something about it. (And I'm not a fan of February, either.) But this year, I didn't seem to mind August so much.

August is a time of endings and beginnings. Transitions. And the creature of habit that I am does not like transitions. The creature prefers schedules.

But transitions are important. They are how we move from one thing to the next. Always during transitions I have to make time to reflect or I will lose my mind. I need to see what I'm leaving. I need to envision where I am going. As a teacher, August is the perfect time for this.

So, in my writing life, this past year has been busy.

NO, NO, KITTEN came out in March. Such a fun and silly book, and the first one I ever dedicated to someone other than my family. (This one went to the kids of Jefferson Elementary, my school). Working with the folks at Boyds Mills was awesome. And you should see what is coming from them (and me) in 2016!  It's about dragons, except that there are none in the book. None at all. That's why the book is called THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT DRAGONS. I've seen a little art for it and guys, it is so funny.

I wrote another picture book (or two) but I will have to tell you about those later.  Spring was a very picturebook write-y time for me.

SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY came out in July. I haven't ever had two books come out in a single year before. It makes things a little crazy. It's kind of like having twins or two very young toddlers while you are carrying a third child, (or in this case, book). They both needed lots of my attention. (But I kind of pretended that SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY didn't come out yet, at least to myself. I am planning a launch in September (more info soon) and will be releasing the trailer soon, so.....I know. Weird.)

But during all of this, I was busy writing. I finished a very difficult revision on a sci-fi book I've been working on for a bit. I really love it, but it needed a lot of patching together. As a matter of fact, I saved it in a file I called FRANKENSTEIN because I felt like I was always stitching it back together, trying to jolt it into life. I've got a little more I still want to do to it, but it is coming along.

I revised a chapter book that I love. Chapter books are a hard sell, but that didn't stop me from writing it and loving it, so that's all I can say about that. We shall see about the rest.

And because I am a crazy writer, and it was summer, I started a new project. I had been toying with an idea that had a little of this:

and maybe something like this:

And, I dunno, lots of other things. And I told myself I could make anything happen in the story that I wanted to. Anything at all. I could put in everything I've always wanted to in a story (which I have---sort of) and I could also put in things that I absolutely hate (which I have--definitely). And I told myself the only rule was that I had to write 1k words a day.

Which I have.

I have no idea what the final shape of this story will be. It is...strange. It is already 32k, which is not too bad. I would like to finish it before August 31, but it might need a few more words after that.

When I finish, I will set it aside for a bit and tweak the sci-fi a little more.

Hmmm. This is a weird reflection. I thought I'd be focusing more on endings and beginnings, but everything seems to be running together in a much more fluid manner. I finish one thing, only to go back to another. Very circular. Much like the hare coin above.

But I do have a few Fall goals:

Finish sci-fi re-revision.

Revise fun proposal involving picture book(s)

Write 3 picture books

And of course finish (and revise) weirdo novel that does not even have a name (or genre!!) yet. Well, actually it does have a genre, but if I say too much, it will disappear into the mist.

It might seem like a lot, but I am looking forward to it!!



Sunday, August 2, 2015

Selkie Talk

Here are what some bloggers are saying about SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY--That awesome new book I just wrote--

It looks like this when it is relaxing on the beach, in case you were wondering:

This picture was taken for the trailer, which I am getting some feedback on but should be out soon!

If your blog reviewed Secrets of Selkie Bay and I didn't include it, let me know and I'll link it!  (I know there are a few more out there...I just couldn't find the links...?) And if you wanted to review Secrets of Selkie Bay but didn't get a review copy, email me at and I'll see what I can do.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank the people that read books and take the time to write reviews of them. It is truly a labor of love--as much as it is to write a book in the first place. (Except that authors usually get paid and book bloggers do not. So yes, writing about a book is truly a work of the heart.)



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Story School #6

Hi guys!

Sorry again for missing last week!  I was teaching kids In Real Life, so....

Anyway, today's Story School prompt is PICNIC.  I was inspired to choose this by a questionnaire I am currently filling out which asked me what famous people I would invite to a dinner party. Immediately, I changed the setting (writers can do that, you know) to a picnic because I always have a hard time when it comes to serving the food at the same time--I must work on my timing--because something is always too hot or too cold. (Hmm..maybe I should ask Goldilocks to my dinner party. She'd have a problem with the food anyway so it would be no big surprise.)

Anyway, in my mind, I changed the question from dinner party to picnic, because who doesn't love a picnic?

Image result for picnic
I think I should invite these guys to eat at my picnic, except that they are already stuffed!  Get it?

Then I started thinking about all of the cool kinds of picnics a person could have, and all of the great food....yum.   You could have a traditional picnic with a basket and a checkerboard blanket:

Or you could have a fairytale picnic in hidden woods:

Or a scary picnic:

Yikes! I can't even think about this one!!

Anyway, have fun writing about a picnic this week. You can send it to me if you want at 

Or even better, you could just GO on a picnic, which is what I think I am going to do...


Monday, July 27, 2015

Last Week

Last week I taught a writing workshop for kids. It was pretty remarkable and pretty intense. I mean, I even forgot to post Story School on Wednesday. (Thank you Kevin and Alexa for reminding me!)

Anyway, whenever I am teaching writing, I always end up re-learning some very important truths:

Just like the wand chooses the wizard in Harry Potter, sometimes the story chooses us.

Inspiration can be found in the strangest of places.

Expect the unexpected.

Being part of a writing community is better than not being part of a writing community.

Other people have amazing ideas.

Kids are the best.

Go deep.

Writing is for everyone.

Stories bring us together.

Have a great week!


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Story School #5

Story School is back!  Sorry I am a little late in posting today. Had to make an IKEA run this morning--and there is not such thing as a fast IKEA run.

In case you are new here and are wondering what Story School is--let me tell you.  Every Wednesday this summer, I'll post a story starter of sorts.  It might be an idea or a prompt.  It might be just a single word.  Who knows!  Story School started as a way for me to continue to connect with the students from my school (about writing) over the summer. But really, Story School is for everyone, young or old.  Writing exercises often get my writing juices flowing so I thought it would be good to share some of the stuff that works for me!

This week's prompt is: PLUTO!!

Isn't he adorable?
I am just so excited about New Horizon's flyby. I mean--there it is!!  This is what it looked like before New Horizon when the best pic we had was from the Hubble:

It should be called Pixel instead of Pluto.
And before that, it looked like this:

Just a pretty little dot.
Anyway, so maybe you can write an Ode to Pluto, or a space adventure where you travel to Pluto, or maybe even an alien invasion story (I am writing one of those right now!)

Whatever you do, have fun with writing!!  And you can send me your story and I'll write back to you!



Tuesday, July 14, 2015



So it's been a busy week for SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY. A couple of Comic Con sessions:
So, R2, what did you think?

And Spidey!!  You read it, too!

I know this past week has been all about Selkies, BUT No, No, Kitten!  had a cool moment this week, too. Here she is at a birthday party with her new friend, Skyy:

Happy Birthday, Skyy!  So glad I could be a part of your big day!

I'm off to go make some swag for the Secrets of Selkie Bay launch.  More details at it approaches!



Saturday, July 11, 2015

Why Selkies? (The Story Behind the Story)


It is Saturday!
Today I will answer the question, "Why Selkies?"
There is just something about them. They hypnotize. Their playfulness intoxicates.

To begin with, I have always been fascinated by seals. Growing up in the desert, the only place I saw them for real was the Rio Grande Zoo.  I could watch them for hours. I can remember sitting on the bench in front of their habitat with my two young daughters in their double stroller, the three of us completely mesmerized. I was researching Celtic Folklore at the time (On my own, not part of any particular program. I just liked the 398.2 section of the library with a passion) and read several selkie tales. I was always searching to expand my storytelling repertoire. One story in particular listed “Connelly” as a family name particularly associated with the strange, shape-shifting creatures who could change from human to seal with the use of a magic sealskin. Connelly is my grandmother’s maiden name, and eventually the middle name of my third daughter. Years later she, too, was captivated by seals, so much so that she was left behind (accidentally) at Sea World on a school field trip. She couldn’t seem to tear herself away from the seals, and the class left without her.

When I finished The Seven Tales of Trinket, I knew I was not done with the selkie legend. I started a few pieces, but they came out too stilted, as if I were trying too hard. But then, Cordie and her sisters, Ione and Neevy, showed up on the page, all modern (ish) and I knew I had my way into the story. At first, SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY was high fantasy…but it didn’t quite ring true. My editor suggested I make the story more realistic and I balked. “I can’t write the story you want me to write,” I said. And so I didn’t. My agent prepared to put my selkie book on submission to sell  it elsewhere.

Then I wrote a few sentences, just three, really. 

I sent my agent an email and asked her to please not submit the book anywhere. I felt I couldn’t write the book my editor seemed to want, but in three sentences, I had found the book that I wanted to write—that I needed to write--and I didn’t want to sell the wrong book.

So, it took me a while. I drafted up a proposal, but while I was tinkering around with it, I couldn’t help but try and finish writing the whole book. I knew where I wanted to go with the ending, but I was uncertain if I would be able to get there. I’d not written magical realism before, and my only advice for writing it is this: You must totally, completely, with your whole heart, believe in the realness of your story. You must believe that not only COULD it happen this way, but that it MUST happen this way.

I believed in this story. It made me cry a lot. I read-and re-read it over and over until I hoped I’d gotten it right. I had my agent send it to my editor, who bought it shortly there after. 

And so, that is the story behind the story.

I hope you enjoy SECRETS OF SELKIE BAY. You can click to the book cover at the top right for purchasing information.