Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Cutting of the Slack

Things to remember in 2017:

1. You are important. Even when you feel like you have nothing to say, even when you feel like all the words have already been said. you are important. Your thoughts are your own, and if you choose to share them, that's great. But if you choose silence sometimes, that's okay too. Some of us need the quiet to gather our own thoughts and understand our own feelings.

2.Be kind. This doesn't mean just being kind to others. It means be kind to yourself. Cut yourself slack when you need to. It is okay not to do it all. Actually, it is kind of impossible to do everything.

3. Live the life you dream of living. Today. Start today. It's the little things that make a difference. Take time to sip your tea and read those books you want to read. Give yourself the gift of boredom from time to time. Without boredom, there would be no creativity. Without boredom, there would be no art. Make 2017 your most creative year yet.

Um...goodbye 2016. Don't let the door hit you and all that....

Happy New Year!


Saturday, November 12, 2016

This Week in Dragons

I will be at the Carlsbad Library (Cole Branch) on Tuesday, November 15, at 3:30 to celebrate Children's Picture Book Month. I'll have some of my dragon friends with me (You can expect Baby Dragon and Tri for certain, and I heard somewhere that Baby Dragon just might bring his dragon puppet, too--Babier Dragon!)  

But don't expect me to be reading any books about dragons. I mean, dragons can breathe fire and stuff like that. They can be dangerous!!

Actual picture of my brain this week. Seriously. 

Which is why I am  going to drop this quote here for you, in case you need it. (Because I find myself needing to hear words such as these...)

“Fairy tales are more than true – not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

~ Neil Gaiman, Coraline 
(source,  G.K. Chesterton)

Holding all of you in my heart,


Saturday, October 15, 2016

DragonFest Part 5

It's been a crazy few weeks, so I'll recap a bit.

My new book baby has been in the world for about a month now. I absolutely love reading it to kids. Such fun!

On September 28 Barnes and Noble held a book event for me. It was awesome. Lots of kids and families came to celebrate dragons and books. I gave away some of these little guys:

And signed lots of copies of TBINAD.

Oh, some kids at my school asked me what it was like to write a book "without dragons"  so I decided to show them my process. I made a little film.....

Yes. I know. Too ridiculous. My pack of hounds were the total stars! Henry played the part of the green dragon. He did NOT love wearing the costume. (Watch him extract himself. Quite classy.) Jimmy played the part of the red dragon. Jimmy LOVED the costume. He didn't want to take it off. Daisy s not featured (except for her tail) because she was NOT HAVING IT. She did not want the costume on for even a second. (And Daisy is a Belgian Malinois so if she doesn't want to do something, you cannot make her. Period.)

Anyway, Dragon Fest continues!  More soon!!


PS.  I will be celebrating dragons again at the Cole Library in Carlsbad on Tuesday, November 15 at 3:30 pm in honor of Children's Picture Book Month. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

DragonFest (Part 4)

You didn't think I was done, did you?

Nope. There are always more dragons!  (Even when there aren't any in a specific book, if you get my meaning.)>
No dragons in this, you know.
Today, we are going to look at a couple of my favorite middle grade dragons:

A new favorite!!
I adore this book, THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON by Kelly Barnhill. There is a Perfectly Tiny Dragon named Fyrian who stole my heart. Highly recommend--just an incredibly readable book.! It does not lend itself well to being put down for a moment, though. It really likes it best when you just keep reading it for HOURS and HOURS. The language is lush and gorgeous. (Yes, it made me feel like a hack when I read it, but I couldn't even be angry at it because DRAGON!)

Also, I love this one:
I heart you, Grace Lin
Dragon in WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON is one of my favorite middle grade characters of all time. (He is up there with Ivan, in case you were wondering!) He's kind and brave...just the kind of dragon I'd like to meet someday.

So, if you are in the mood for a novel with a dragon sitting right there in the front seat of the story, please take a look at THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON and WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON.

(But if you are looking for dragons, don't look in here>
because you won't find one.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

DragonFest (Part 3)

Oh, it's not over yet! DragonFest Part 3!!!!

Today is a very special day because THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT DRAGONS is finally out in the world.

Here is a picture of some dragons that are not in the book:
yeah, I know, they are upside down and backwards. I meant to do that.
Nope. Not in the book at all. And if they were in the book, they would be going the right way--and they most certainly wouldn't be upside down!

I am so excited that my book is finally here. It's been a long time coming. Big thanks to Fred Koehler for his amazing art, and to Boyds Mills for bringing us together and for never losing faith in a book that absolutely has no dragons.

Happy Birthday!!

I've got events planned for the end of the month to celebrate its arrival. I'll keep you posted. But if you think there are going to be dragons at the book launch, well, there won't be.

Don't even think it! 


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DragonFest 2016 (Part 2)

Image result for dear dragon

Today's literary dragon is Blaise from DEAR DRAGON by Josh Funk. 

This is such a great book. As a teacher, I can't wait to read it with my class when we are learning about multiple perspectives and point of view. It's such an creative premise!  Josh Funk must have had a blast writing it. AND today is its Book Birthday!! So you can sing Happy Birthday to it if you want, but be careful when you blow out the candles--don't breathe fire and barbeque the cake. 


Monday, September 5, 2016

DragonFest 2016 (part 1)

Okay, folks, so we are about a week away from THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT DRAGONS entering the world. Yay!!!  (Here is what it looks like in case you forgot):
Image result for this book is not about dragons
Pretty little thing!
 I thought I'd spend a little time celebrating literary dragons with a little thing I like to call DRAGONFEST 2016. Basically I'll be highlighting some of my favorite dragons in books. Sounds like fun, yes?

 Let's start out with a new kid on the block, (and a very terrible dragon, I might add,) the feisty dragon in DRAGON WAS TERRIBLE  by Kelly DiPucchio and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli.  This is such an incredibly fun read aloud. Actually, I dare you to read it aloud to some kids and not totally crack up yourself. Go ahead. Try it now.  I'll wait.

Image result for dragon was terrible
It's the toilet paper part that gets me every time!

So if you are sitting around waiting for THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT DRAGONS to come out (which doesn't even HAVE dragons in it, so....) I highly recommend picking up DRAGON WAS TERRIBLE. You'll be glad you did!

(And if you are a teacher of K-2, you will end up reading this aloud about a billion times. Kids LOVE it!)


Thursday, August 25, 2016


Getting the big box of book babies is always one of the best things in the world!  It is only a few weeks until THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT DRAGONS is out in the world and I am so excited. The writing of the books was one of the easy ones, to be honest. I had been playing around with the idea of writing a book about a moose (don't ask me why--I think there is something about a moose that is just inherently funny. Maybe it is the word, Moose. Moose. Yeah, it's a little funny.) Well, I was getting nowhere with the moose book. (FYI this was right before a BUNCH of books featuring moose(s) came out. I think many authors got bit by the moose bug at about the same time, but some of us are slower to make stuff happen.) ANYWAY, there I was, trying to write about a moose (who obviously didn't want any part of my story) and I thought, "Well, at least you're trying something new, Shelley. At least there are no dragons in this book."

And that became the working title of my next book:  THERE ARE NO DRAGONS IN THIS BOOK.
The silliness of writing a book about something I was trying NOT to write about must have unclogged a valve in my brain because the writing just flowed. I sent it to my agent and she loved it. She sent it to my editor and she loved it. (Eventually, my editor and I changed the title around a little to THIS BOOK IS NOT ABOUT DRAGONS.) 

And that's the story of the book that I wasn't even trying to write! (But am so glad that I did!!!)

Soon, I am going to introduce you to some of the dragons that are not in the book. That's right, NOT in the book. But until then, here's a little guy I call Fred (I named him for the illustrator, Fred Koehler.) Yes, I know it's a little strange that I am naming all of the dragons, (especially since I didn't draw them) but seeing as they didn't get to be in the book, I thought the least they deserved was a name. 

More soon!


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Preview of Coming Attractions

Coming September, 2016
I cannot wait for you to read this book! (Illustrations by Fred Koehler)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Coolness of This Spring

 I've had some super cool experiences this Spring:

I spoke at the COMMERCE LOVES READING Day. What an awesome library!

I gave a keynote speech (Aaron Hartzler gave the other!!!) for YSIG in Ontario.

And I got to see the first hard copy of my new book. Yay!!!

As the semester draws to a close, things are gearing up wildly. Here's hoping for some upcoming uninterrupted writing time. I've got some ideas that are just dying to be written.


Monday, March 28, 2016


Reading:  I've been reading a lot lately since my self-imposed rule that I must read for one half hour first thing every day when I come home from work. I finished reading both Pax by Sara Pennypacker and Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson.   

They were both very different from what I expected. (I don't really know what I expected, but I did love both so very much!)  I think it was that they both surprised me.  I love it when a story does that!

Writing:  I've been writing some animal stories.  I am not sure why I am drawn to this right now, but I am. One story contains a rabbit who is really a girl who lives on a sinking island. Another is about a scrawny one-eyed cat who walks the secret road between the living and the dead. There's graveyards in it, and 1915 London.

And I am still struggling with a picture book about a hippo astronaut.

Eating:  These are so delicious!!:

They are my new favorite snack.

So, that's what is going on around here. Some reading. Some writing. Some eating.



Thursday, February 25, 2016


Okay, I know it's February.

Yeah, and I know it's the END of February.

So it seems a little late to be writing about resolutions. And I wasn't going to. Really I wasn't. But then I thought about how much I really like my resolution for this year (notice, resolutioN, no "s") and thought that maybe other people might like it a little bit, too.

So here goes.

For 2016, I resolved to be less wasteful.

That's it.

But it covers a bunch of stuff!!

 I am trying to be less wasteful of food. And money. And especially time.


That's a biggie. And guess how I am doing it?  By taking on something else, of course!

No, that's not possible. You can't take something else on and then end up saving time!  Impossible!!

But it is possible.

What I have done is promised myself to read everyday--and not right before bedtime. The fact is that I am already so tired by the time that I pull up the covers that I last maybe 2 minutes reading. That's it!!!  Then the book hits me in the face and I am like, "what?"

So now, everyday when I come home from work, BEFORE I open the laptop, I make myself a cuppa tea and I read a book for 1/2 hour.

I cannot tell you how much more wonderful my life is. It was such an easy, simple change. But filling my life with stories is every evening is so much better than letting them hit me in the head at 11 pm.

How does this prevent waste, you might be asking yourself.  Well, I consider it a better use of my time. Thus, better use of time is always less wasteful, true?

So join me!  Put on the kettle and pull up a chair. Pull out a book and let the magic begin.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

On 20 Years as a Children's Author

I just realized the other day that my first book, PUTTING THE WORLD TO SLEEP, came out in November of 1995. Wow. 20 years ago.

Feeling a little old here.

But with age comes wisdom, right? So I decided to reflect on what I have learned about being a writer and being an author (because they are not always one in the same).

1. Writing life ebbs and flows. There are times when I am on fire with new ideas--I can't write them down fast enough. And then there are times when I slog through a piece of writing, questioning where it is going, wondering if it is even worth it because it is so sloggy.

And then there are times when it is hard to even write at all. :(. I hate when that happens, but the truth is that is does indeed happen. I have learned to trust the process. I have made my peace with the cyclic nature of my muse. Hopefully, when she decides to appear, she will find me sitting at the desk, ready.

2. Author life ebbs and flows, but not in the same way.
This is even harder to accept. But just like your mom always said, you can't be the best at everything all the time. (Okay, maybe your mom didn't say that to you, but it is a pretty good lesson.) There are times as an author when I am a hot commodity. There are times when I cannot visit all of the schools that ask because I am too busy visiting other places. There are times when my twitter pings with congratulations, private messages, and all sorts of authorly banter. There are times when I am in talks with my agent and various editors constantly about author stuff. There are days when the mail brings something wonderful and cool almost every day.

And then there are times when it is quiet. So very quiet. So quiet it is hard not to feel like chopped liver. However, it is difficult for me to create when there is too much bustling about, thus the quiet times, when not a lot is going on for me as an author, are the very best times for me as a writer. Those are the times when I feel like I have nothing to lose--because there is nothing really "happening". And when I can let myself write with that sort of freedom, I am always more pleased with what I produce.

3. There are books that I tried to get published but did not--and I am glad they did not get published.
I don't quite know what else to say about this except that some books stand the test of time, and some do not. There are a couple of manuscripts I have written that, well, upon reading later about the best thing I can say is "meh". I don't want to publish books that make me go "meh." This forces me to make my peace with the fact that not everything I write, not everything I spend a lot of time on, is "good." (However, each piece makes me grow somehow, so there is that.)

4. There are books that I have written that I adore and did not get published.
Who knows? Maybe they will someday. I still love them every time I read them and can't seem to let them go.  Ahead of their time, maybe.  But again, the reality hits that not everybody sees things the same way I do, which brings me to----

5. Not everyone sees things the same way I do.
There are books out there that everyone loves and I just kind of like. And there are books out there that everyone loves and I really do not care for at all. And there are books out there that no one else seems to notice that have changed my life tremendously.

6. Writing does not seem to get easier.
Each book makes me feel like I am starting over again--because I am. Perhaps that is what I love about writing so much--the fresh start with each blank page. The hope that come from the seed of a story as it plants itself in your heart and you don't even know quite what it is yet, but you can feel it start to unfold and take root in your soul. However, just like in real life, a person doesn't really get to go back to high school with the knowledge of a 40 year old and the body of a 17 year old. Every time I face the blank page, it is new. And new is not the same thing as easy.

I'll probably reflect more on this's quite something to have survived this industry for 20 years and still be standing.