My first picture book ever written

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Yesterday I visited my Mom in Pinon Hills, CA. We ate delicious organic plums from her local co-op and celebrated her soon-to-be born baby bull terrier puppies. We also rummaged around in old boxes and shared old memories. That’s when we found the picture book that started it all “Kimberly’s Time Machine”, written by 10 year old yours truly. This book single-handedly stirred up the creative-writing bug in me for years to come!

 

I did all the writing and illustrations. I even went through revisions with my editor (teacher). The story was about a young girl who built a time machine to visit the future, and all the mishaps that ensued.

IMG_1992I was a little obsessed with the name Kimberly. At least four of my stuffed animals and barbies shared that name. Oh and did you know that candy and money grow on trees in the future?

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Kimberly met a friend in the future who gave her a walkman that played CD’s. Little did I realize the disc man would actually be released a few years later.

I did dabble in other genres of creative writing throughout the years including poetry, songwriting, and a few young adult novels. (Well as a teenager I thought they were novel length). But for me, my heart’s passion still remains in creating fabulous, fun, and poignant picture books, and always has.

Hats, hats, and more hats…

Today I spent a relaxing Sunday in Del Mar, CA with my sister and her fiance. We had brunch at The beautiful Brigantine situated adjacent to the Del Mar Race Tracks. They are preparing for the first horse race of the season. I spent much of my youth in San Diego and not once have I headed out to the races. That is going on my bucket list for sure!

After brunch, we made our way to the Cedros District. And we could not help but try on all the gorgeous hats! We can’t show up to the races without fabulous hats after all.

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IMG_1988Several wonderful picture books featuring hats have been published in recent years, such as This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen and If You Have a Hat by Gerald Hawksley. Even so, after today I may just be inspired to pen one of my own!

Library Days: Mission Viejo Library

The return of summer means the return of library days for me. I always find them to be bustling with excitement.

On my way inside I observed this beautiful mosaic butterfly. The tiles reminded me of tiny replicas of the delicious books that awaited me inside.

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Of course, I always make a beeline for the children’s section, specifically the picture book wall. I like to start by looking at the return cart. This way I can see what books fancy young readers. Today I picked five books from this cart to study.

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Ah … I just love devouring new picture books. It helps me improve my craft and reminds me why I write in the first place. I hope to play a small part in passing my love of reading down to the next generation. I still get that ‘Christmas morning’ feeling every time I crack open a new picture book. And the likely reason is that I was exposed to them at a young age. They are that powerful. And I’m so happy to be writing them now!

Distance

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I have this tendency to listen to my favorite songs over and over and over again until they’re worn out like an old pair of holey socks. So I put them away for awhile. Maybe for a week, maybe for a month, or maybe even indefinitely. If I happen to hear them on the radio by accident I cringe, and must change the station immediately. I don’t want any contact. Soon I forget about them and go about my daily life. I might find some new songs to listen to and enjoy. One day the radio will spring to life playing an old favorite. I’ll wonder, how could I not love this song? The beautiful chords, the lilting melody, the starbursts of emotions it invokes in me… It feels like a brand new song. Sometimes distance can be good.

These thoughts reminded me that these feelings are not so dissimilar to how I feel about my manuscripts during the revision process. Sometimes a manuscript I so loved in the beginning suddenly feels like the worst thing I’ve ever written. But if I put it away for awhile, get a little distance then perhaps one day I’ll be able to look again with fresh eyes as if it were shiny and new, and fall in love with it again.

Yes there are words in my Wordless Wednesday post…

Hello everyone. What can I say, I cheated. There are words in my Wordless Wednesday post. I am a writer after all! So with the encouragement of my friend Nicki Moisant Rabbat, I am now participating in Haiku Wednesdays instead. I think this is a wonderful idea because: 1) It gets me writing. Anything that can help maintain a consistent writing habit is a good thing. 2) I have to be concise and creative, which will build up my picture book writing skills.

So here goes, my first haiku since the poetry classes of my youth…

That first peek of blue,

And my heart starts to flutter;

Ocean, I’ve come home.

Quiet Thoughts in the Night … A Touch of Sea Glass

There were many presentations from the SCBWI Summer Conference this year that resonated with me, but last night when I couldn’t sleep, the one that stood out in my mind was Deborah Underwood’s keynote on the “Power of Quiet.” After I set aside all the thoughts rummaging around keeping me awake in the first place, I settled into the quiet. (Ok, it’s true, I also chanted, ‘please let me sleep’ several times.) 


My reflection time led me to an idea for a new pb that I am hoping will be my October 12×12 manuscript, in addition to the following thoughts…

Imagine you’re on a beach searching for that perfect piece of sea glass. You pick up a jagged piece. It pricks your hand making you bleed, but you try to polish it anyway. After a long, long time, you give up and throw it back in the sand and try again. Maybe one day that piece will be sea glass. You brush your palm against the sand trying to avoid the plentiful spiked pieces sticking out all over, but you can’t avoid them; you can only go through them. You dig deeper and only then do you stumble across a smooth stone that feels right in your palm. Sure, it needs some refining, yet it it feels right somehow.

Sometimes, this is what my writing process feels like. Can anyone relate?  

Library Days: Laguna Beach Library

Today, the hubby and I spent the day in Laguna Beach. A cozy breakfast at Heidelburg Cafe followed by a casual stroll and a breezy ride on the free shuttle. I took many deep breaths of salty, fresh-sea air. And then do you know where I wanted to go? The library, of course!

We both brought our laptops and found comfy chairs to lounge in. We had a lovely ocean view. The sunscreeny smell throughout constantly reminded me that the beach was only yards away. We stayed for hours.

I explored the children’s book section and found so many amazing picture books to read.

Like these ones.
All the new picture books were displayed here.

There was even a vacant orange couch for me to relax and savor each page. I love exploring libraries in different communities. 1 part research + 1 part writing + 1 part relaxation = One very happy writer.

Ripples…One Year Later

Last year I heard the amazing, Bruce Coville speak at my very first SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference. Here are a few quotes from his keynote “Ripples in the Pond: Why What We Do Matters…and Matters…and Continues to Matter”:

“Start ripples throughout the world” and “You cannot know how you’ve affected the world; make ripples anyway.”

Powerful words, right? Every time I hear them, I my heart melts.

I threw my tiny rock in the pond in 2010. That’s when I attended my first ever writing conference, the Central Coast Writing Conference at Cuesta College. I met Children’s Book Author, Merrily Kutner, who told our class that the best thing we could do for our career was to join SCBWI. So I did…

Fast forward to July 2011. My little pebble sat in the pond, stagnant. I longed to make a connection. I gathered up some courage and emailed another local SCBWIer I’d found online and invited her to coffee. I was nervous to meet someone this way, but I took the plunge anyway. We connected instantly. We attended the summer conference as buddies and enjoyed every breathtaking keynote together. One ripple.

A few weeks after the conference, feeling more inspired than ever, I stalked the SCBWI Critique Connections board, anxious to find a critique group in my area. As luck would have it, a new one was forming. One more ripple and then after a SCBWI Schmooze — two more.

This summer I attended the Summer Conference again. This time I had made a few connections. But it didn’t stop there. This year I found my courage. My courage to write. My courage to look inside my heart and will my true self out, the one I’d suppressed for many years.  I spoke with agents and authors who inspired me, hugged me, and nodded my way with eyes filled with a ‘way-to-go’ like shine. It was magical. I met other writers from across the nation. This time, I can’t even count the ripples, and as Bruce said, I can’t even imagine what kind of affect they will have on the world. I felt blessed to have attended this year. My true writing voice is ready to ooze out of my fingertips onto the page. I hope to continue sending ripples outward, that all started with a tiny, stationary pebble.

Update on the journey

Here is a blurb from my first ever Sunflower Scribe Blog Post:


In June 2010, inspiration struck. My first children’s book main character, Iris the Colorful Spider was born. The manuscript is written and now I am learning more about the editing and publishing process. The journey has just begun and I have finally found my focus. I want to be a Writer. I have come to terms with the fact that this may be a process that is years in the making but, I am up for it! Carpe Diem! I hope you enjoy the ride! I know I will.

So how am I doing in my journey now you ask?

Well, let’s see…

I’ve written 12 new picture book manuscripts, several short stories, and 1 1/2 chapter book manuscripts.  
I’ve submitted and received many rejections (heartbreaking!) as well as a handful of acceptances!  My acceptance rate right now is 9.5% (I’ve always liked thinking in percentages!)

But really that’s not the point….  
Do I still love writing? Yes! 
Have I improved at it? Yes! 
Do I still have a whole lot to learn? Yes, and I always will.
Have I met wonderfully awesome fellow writers who share the same dreams of publishing their stories?  Yes!

Each year my life experiences help to shape who I become as a Writer and where I turn to for inspiration.  It’s as much a part of me now as drinking water daily.  That is what the journey is all about.  Where are you in your writing journey? Or perhaps another type of journey altogether?

Bullies!

No — not the mean kind that pull your hair and call you names, rather English Bull Terriers, of course!  My family has owned and loved them for the past fifteen years.  Some people refer to them as ‘lovable dogs in clown suits’.  It’s no wonder that bullies spark so many of my children’s story ideas.

Stories for Children Ezine Nov. 2011

My first magazine story, Max and Digby’s Big Day (cover featured at left) was loosely based on my sister’s Miniature Bull Terrier, Elmo.

Here’s Elmo posing for a photo op after winning several agility medals.  He is an excellent agility dog with many titles, but Elmo’s ever the comedian, and sometimes liked to cause mischief in the ring!

And this is Delby, who lived with me for two years in my very first apartment.  He was always up to something!  He’s the inspiration behind my WIP Picture Book manuscript, ‘Tank’s Tinkle Trick.”

Here’s another image that shows the absolutely unique, endearing personality a bully can have.

bully crayon

bully crayon

*not my photo*
Got this in an email forward and haven’t seen it before. Thought I should share. 🙂
“Please read!
If you are an owner of a dog, especially one that is considered a “dangerous-breed”, and small children visit your home, please take this as a warning. Don’t ever leave your dog with the child unattended under any circumstances.
Only a little moment was enough for the following to happen.
See the photo:”