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.



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Story School #4: The Selkie Edition

 Welcome back to Story School!  As you know, Story School is a place to play with ideas, to draft quick writes, and to just have fun. Last week's BIRTHDAY post had me writing a draft of a little (possible) book called I WANT CAKE. The rhythm is not quite right, but I will tinker with it more this summer and see if I can make it work.

Since it's Selkie Week, ( in honor of Secrets of Selkie Bay--see yesterday's post about all of that craziness!) I thought I'd use the whole theme of SHAPE-SHIFTING for inspiration.

Selkies, if you didn't know, are magical seals that can turn into people if they take their sealskin coats off. And if they put the coats back on, then they turn back into seals. However, if you take a seal's coat while they are in their human form, they cannot change back until they get the coat back!  

But selkies are not the only mythological shape-shifters. 

There are legends of werewolves:

Leshies (creatures that change from people into plants...think of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy)

Kitsune (a Japanese fox with many tails that can shift into human form)

Pooka ( a horse/human shapeshifter--I wrote about one of these in The Seven Tales of Trinket)

Encantado (from Brazil--can change from a dolphin to a human)

You get the idea. Or you can create your own shape-shifter. Maybe your character shifts from human to broccoli form. (Gross, I know). Or maybe a shape-shifting mouse--that would be fun and cute. I have a story about a dog that shapeshifts into an otter that I really love. I will probably work on that story this week.

Anyway, Have fun. Write what you want. And if you want to share it with me, you can at

Happy writing!


PS I loved the poems and stories this week!  Thanks for sending. And J, I would totally read a book called, CAKE DANCE!  Great idea!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015



Finally, the little book that almost broke my heart is here!

Let me tell you a little about it. Here is the official blurb:

In their present-day tourist trap of an Irish seaside town, famed for its supposed involvement with selkies in the past, three sisters are faced with the sudden disappearance of their mother. Crushed by the loss, their father is struggling to carry on. To make matters worse, there are rumors afloat in the village that their mother herself is a selkie who has now shed her human form and gone back to sea. As Cordie Sullivan, the oldest daughter, tries to learn more about her mother's vanishing, she must find the strength to help her family move ahead, even as she discovers an increasing number of clues that point to a hidden island off the coast-a mythical kingdom of the selkies.

I have also read some incredibly lovely descriptions and reviews of the book online that I'll share with you this week.  

Often, an author gets asked to tell about her books. Confession:  This is hard for me. Usually, I say something stupid like:  It is about do stuff....  Sheesh. Well, this is because the easiest, most natural way for me to tell a story is through words on the page. I give everything I have to say about that book to the blank page and hope that it all works. 

So, while I was writing SOSB, I was taking notes, reminding myself what was at the heart of this book. Here is a glimpse:

Some things about Selkie Bay:

Secrets of Selkie Bay is about hope and determination. 

It is about loss and redemption.

 It’s about that line between what’s real and what isn’t and how we spend most of our lives dancing between the two.

It’s about trying to make sense of what doesn’t make sense.

It’s about sisters and loyalty and doing what you have to do. It’s about seriously bad choices and the feel of soft, seal fur underneath your fingertips.

It’s about voyages fraught with adventure, mushy bananas and a dark secret held for years in a dark cave on a dark island.

It’s about how mist can obscure your vision…or make it so you see things clearly for the first time.

It’s about what it means to lose something. 

And what it takes to get it back.

I am going to be celebrating selkies all week here on the blog!  Come back tomorrow for a StorySchool with a selkie theme. Then pop on by later in the week to find out the inspiration for the story, learn some selkie crafts, and maybe get a sneak peak at some selkie-trailer footage.

And special thanks to all of you who have been with me on this journey. I am so excited for Secrets of Selkie Bay to get into the hands of kids!  

If you are interested, you can click the link over on the side to purchase.  Ah heck. I'll put a link right here. This will take you to the Secrets of Selkie Bay page where you can click on the vendor of your choice.

Thanks for dropping by and celebrating with me!!



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Story School #3

Hello again!! Welcome to Story School #3

What is Story School, you ask--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! 

Thanks for last week's stories!  I am still working on my Escape Chapter myself, so I am not quite ready to move on yet. Hoping to finish it today.

But I will not leave you hanging without a prompt. In honor of my husband's* birthday, the prompt is, in fact, BIRTHDAY. 

Maybe it will be one of your characters' birthdays. Maybe he or she will make a wish. Wishes are tricky things, you know how they say to be careful what you wish for.

Maybe you will write about a big party that is incredibly wild. Or a small party, with only a mouse, a snail, and a cricket.

Maybe you will write about cake.  

Cake is awesome. Here are a few inspirational cakes:

I usually like a lot of frosting on a cake, but this one looks like the frosting is all soaked in, which is probably darn tasty.
This one is pretty, but I dunno. Maybe something is hiding inside. 

Seriously, if someone dared me to eat all of the buttercream roses, I would. Seriously. #sugaroverload
Noel made this one (I decorated it with flowers) for Cali's birthday. It was Soooooooo Yummmy!!

So enjoy your birthday writing! And remember, you can leave some of your writing in the comments section, or share with me at


PS. Happy Birthday, Sean. You make all things seem possible.