Three baby puppies

I love English Bull Terriers! I have a post that’s been in the works about how much they touch the lives of their owners, but it’s not ready yet. In the meantime, I wanted to post pictures of these cuties. My mom breeds English Bull Terriers, and she recently had a litter of three baby boy puppies. They are the cutest pups ever (well that I’ve seen in a long time … I may be slightly biased.)

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Django and Cim
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Raisin

Two of my published children’s stories feature bull terriers. They are true characters! I think these little guys just may show up in a new manuscript soon!

How to make Grandparent’s Day Special through children’s books

happy-grandma-mdGrandparent’s day is coming up on Sept. 8th. National Grandparent’s Day originated with Marian McQuade and was decreed a National holiday by President Jimmy Carter in 1978.

Grandparents play such an important in family life. They are our heritage, and they have so much to share and to teach. Even when they pass away, they are not forgotten. They are still alive in the hearts of those that live on. I have lost two grandparents in the past year, and yet, myself and family members still feel their love, and include them in many aspects of our lives.

I wanted to share a several of my favorite and recommended children’s book reads featuring Grandparents.

How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan

Book type: Picture Book

A fun twist on a typical Grandparent/grandchild story

Little Bear’s Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik 

Book type: Early Reader

A true classic filled with short chapters detail Little Bear’s Visit to his Grandparent’s house.

What Grandmas Do Best by Laura Numeroff

Lyrical, with lovely representations of Grandparent/grandchild relationships. When you flip the book over you will find ‘What Grandpas do Best

The Magic Brush by Kat Yeh

Book Type: Picture Book

This book is beautifully written, telling the story of Jasmine and her Agong or Grandfather. They pen magical stories  using an enchanted Chinese calligraphy brush. But when Grandpa passes on, Jasmine must cope with her sadness, and figure out how keep the memories and magic alive.

And last but not least my own e-book, RIGHT THIS INSTANT from MeeGenius.

My E-Book

Book type: Picture Book

In this story, Eli teaches Grandpa all about new, fast technologies while Grandpa teaches Eli about the art of waiting.

How will you celebrate Grandparent’s Day this year?

Stitch Fix Review #1- For a Hopeless Matchy-matchy Writer

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When I stumbled upon Stitch Fix, I was instantly intrigued. I’ve wanted to try a personal stylist for years, but never gotten around to doing it. Now, with Stitch Fix I get the benefits of a personal stylist from the comfort of my own home!

You may be wondering why I’m doing a review of clothing on my writing blog. Well, here’s the thing. I’ve had this dream of becoming a successful, carefree, AND eclectically styled writer. I could really use some help as I’m practically hopeless when it comes to creating outfits. So here’s another chapter in my writing journey, where I revise … my wardrobe.

Here’s what a typical shopping outing looks like for me. I go into a store with a list (ex. sweater, capris, tops, etc.) I come out of the store with a scarf, an ill-fitting yet cute top, and a pair of shoes (my weakness). And does anything go with anything else in my closet? No, not really.

I can put outfits together, but more often than not they’re too matchy-matchy. I want to master the art of choosing a patterned top, statement necklace, and skinny jeans that ‘turns heads’ or even becomes ‘pinworthy’. That’s why I’m super excited that every item I receive today includes a style card. A fabulous place to start!

I’d post photos of some of my fashion faux-pas over the years (matching floral leggings and tops, wild/busy, nauseating prints, etc.), but it seems I can’t find any photographic evidence. Go figure! But here’s a sneak peek at my first box…

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Here’s how Stitch Fix works:

  • Sign up and fill out your style profile. TIP: Link to your pinterest style board so your stylist can get visual ideas of what you like. 
  • Schedule your first “Fix”
  • Pay a $20 styling fee and wait for beautifully packaged items to arrive.
  • Receive a box full of items hand-picked by  your personal stylist, just for you, based on your profile
  • Try everything on, keep what you want, send back what you don’t. (The $20 styling fee comes off the price of anything you choose to keep and if you buy all 5 items, you get a 25% discount!)
  • Stitch Fix also offers $25.00 referral credits. If you decide to use stitch fix and use this link I will get get credit. (And once you sign up, you’ll get a link too so you can tell all your friends about it.)

Without further adieu, here are the contents of my first box!

Item 1: Aiden Flutter Sleeve Blouse, $48.00

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What I loved: Liked the High-low style.

What I didn’t love: The color. This royal blue color has always seemed an odd one for me. I have a hard time pairing it with bottoms, and I don’t think it looks great on me. Sizing was off. The arm holes were too big.

Status:  Sent back.

Item : Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button Up Cardigan, $38.00

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What I loved: This sweater was so soft. It did fit nicely.

What I didn’t love: Too plain, not adventurous enough. Looked like many other pieces in my existing wardrobe. I’m starting to sense a blue theme going on with this fix…

Status:  Sent back.

Item 1: Dixen Mixed Stripe Button-Up Blouse, $48.00

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What I loved: Teal is fun (really stretching on positive comments for this one…)

What I didn’t love: I was swimming in this. It did nothing for my curves. And the view was even worse from the back. (I’m refusing to post that picture.) Once again with the blue …

Status: Sent back.

Item 1: Double Layer Circle Bubble Necklace, $28.00

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What I loved: Ivory and gold look great together. Seems like a versatile piece.

What I didn’t love: I was SO hoping this necklace would be mint colored like a similar one I’d seen online.

Status:  Kept!

Item 1: Sterling Belted Striped MiniDress, $48.00

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What I loved: This dress is adorable. My favorite piece of the day. I loved the cut — high in the front, low in the back. I can dress it up for evening, and pair with a cardigan for work. A hit!

What I didn’t love: Stripes aren’t my personal favorite pattern, but for this dress it worked.

Status: Kept!

Overall, I loved my experience. I’m hoping my fixes will only get better as I personalize my profile and give feedback to my stylist. (Like including some pieces in mint since I asked for it specifically!) In the coming months, I’m hoping my stylist can help me build a New York writer, headshot worthy wardrobe.

Please note: I purchased my own box. Stitch Fix is not paying me to advertise for them, though they do offer an incentive for referrals. If you’d like to try Stitch Fix click here to use my referral link, which will give me credit towards my next fix.

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Back to School Picture Book Reads

Back to school time is here! I like to start off the school year with a healthy mixture of themed picture books. “Starting school” is the obvious choice, and I always include a few books on the topic in the bunch. I also like to share picture books with other important themes such as friendship, self-esteem, manners, and also books that are just pure fun. Here are five of my favorites.

I love sharing Clifford the Big Red Dog with children, especially when he is a not-so-big puppy, just like them.

Jane Yolen’s ‘How Do Dinosaurs’ books are always delightful reads that deal with relevant concepts for 3-6 year old children. Readers will enjoy the silly dinosaur illustrations and the sing-songy refrain.

Press Here by Herve Toullet is pure, interactive fun. I love sharing this book with a new group of children, so September is the perfect time to introduce this book. Changes happen to the story based on how they interact with it. Clap and the dots get bigger. Rub and the dot changes color.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems is another highly interactive story. Readers will love trying to convince the pigeon to listen to the bus driver when he tells him not to drive the bus! A bonus with this book, an idea shared by a fellow children’s author, is that children will feel empowered after reading this book because they will be able to draw the pigeon. Satifsying, wouldn’t you say?

The Story of Fish & Snail is a beautifully illustrated friendship story. It is told mostly in dialogue and deals with the emotional ups and downs involved with friendship. Themes of resilience, trying new things, and friendship are plentiful and promote discussion.

What are your favorite back to school reads?

 

Library Days: Rancho Santa Margarita Library

My latest library visit led my to Rancho Santa Margarita Library in you guessed it — Rancho Santa Margarita, CA. This visit happened shortly after the LA13SCBWI Summer Conference, so I was really in need of a decompression day.

I started my day with a manicure at the Luxe Organic Nail & Spa and had my nails painted with my latest color obsession — mint! I love that they use organic products and natural cleaning products. Not all of their polish is organic but they do have some options that are.

PolishThen I headed for a sushi lunch at Sake Sushi. Can you see the steam rising from my lightly salted edamame?

IMG_2075Finally, I made my way to the library. Naturally, I looked at the return cart first, curious to see what the children were reading. The books were arranged in such a haphazard way it made me believe that the picture book section was being thoroughly enjoyed that day. A storyteller was there as well reading aloud several picture books to a handful of cheerful and inquisitive children.

IMG_2060I also grabbed several books to study that were recommended by Deborah Halverson at the Summer Conference as excellent examples of picture book rhythm. Her suggestions were spot on and included:

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean

Ella Sarah Gets Dressed By Margaret Chodos-Irvine

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont

An excerpt from my favorite, Pete The Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, a fantastic example of picture book rhythm that I could read over and over any day.

Did Pete cry? Goodness, no. Buttons come and buttons go.

 He kept on singing his song:

My buttons, my buttons, my two groovy buttons. My buttons, my buttons, my two groovy buttons.

Overall, I had a glorious outing. I have two more weeks of summer, and hopefully a few more trips to the library left. I love my summer library days.

SCBWI 2013 Summer Conference Recap

I met Jon Sciescka at the 2013 Summer SCBWI Sonference.
I met Jon Sciescka!

Every year I have the intention to write a recap shortly after attending the LA SCBWI Summer Conference so I can share about my wonderful, life-changing experiences, and never seem to find the time to do so. I always leave feeling so ready to write that I think that’s what gets me. I go out and write, and write, and write — and neglect my blog in the process.

I’m still writing up a storm in the aftermath this year — journal entries, revising current works, reworking a current picture book into something quirky and new, and dabbling in a historical piece. But this year is different in one way — I’m actually posting about my experiences because I really feel this oozy-amazingness needs to be passed on.

Laurie Halse Anderson commenced the conference with an inspiring keynote. I felt as if she could see into the brain of every writer in the room. Some of my favorite quotes:

All you have to do is be brave today. -Laurie Halse Anderson

There’s a reason you dream a different reality. – Laurie Halse Anderson

Jon Sciescka followed up with an equally inspiring keynote. And this was just within the first few hours of the three day conference. The stage was set for an amazing weekend. (By the way, … did I mention that I met Jon Sciescka?)

[Because his daughters favorite book was the Gingerbread Man and he was sick of it, he thought:] What if the Gingerbread Man was made of cheese? That changes everything. – Jon Sciescka

The days that followed were filled with breakout sessions, editors and agents panels, meet-n-greets galore, the black and white gala, and more deep-yoga-breath inducing keynotes. The weekend was truly jam-packed.

IMG_2057Towards the end of the last day we were treated to a keynote from the illustrious Richard Peck:

Because nobody, but a reader ever became a writer. -Richard Peck

 

I walked away with a notebook full of valuable knowledge, a heart filled up with stories bursting to be told, and friendships to last a lifetime. I can’t wait till next year!

 

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SCBWI Summer Conference 2013 – What I’ve gained and why you should go.

-Resources-Image-scbwi-logoH66W170A1The SCBWI LA Summer Conference is only one week away! I’m so excited. I’ve been packing for a week already. Next step — meal planning! I have food allergies. Eating away from home can be difficult. And on top of that, hotel food can get pricey.

There are a few spots still open for this life-changing conference extravaganza. Don’t delay! Register today.  (Sorry for the rhyme. Couldn’t help it.)

What have I gained from this event? One word describes it. As was featured in keynote speaker, Bruce Coville’s talk in 2011 — ripples.

Rewind to 2011 … my first summer conference. I didn’t know anyone. I went online seeking an SCBWI buddy in my area. I found one immediately. We started out as coffee buddies, and then conference buddies; now we are close friends.

Fast forward to 2012 … my second summer conference. I knew a small classroom full of people. And I built even more connections. This is the year that my big take away was “dig deeper.” They were several moments of bawling at this conference, but it was breakthrough bawling, which is totally ok.

And now it’s 2013 … I’m actually attending a Pre-Conference party on Thursday, and dressing up with a group for the gala (which I’ve always wanted to do.) Me — shy, little me!

This event helped further my writing career, feed my soul, and shed my introverted skin so I could interact with some of the most amazing people I have ever known. I hope you will think about attending. And if do, and you happen to see me, don’t be afraid to say hello! I love making new friends, and will be happy to help out if you are new!

I also wanted to share the following comics below created by Debbie Ohi who has a great SCBWI Success Story!! Her comics capture the pre-conference newbie jitters perfectly!

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Virtual Book Launch Party for Right This Instant

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 8.02.48 PMI am hosting a Facebook Virtual Book Launch Party for my recently released MeeGenius picture e-book tomorrow from 4-8pm.  If you’d like to attend please click here. I will be buzzing around sharing tid-bits about the book, activity ideas, and more. Stop by on the hour for Q&A and a chance to win a $10.00 itunes gift card. The winner will be announced at the end of the launch.

You can purchase RIGHT THIS INSTANT online at http://tinyurl.com/righthisinstant on your computer or on the MeeGenius App for iphone, ipad, or android. It is currently listed under the ‘New and Noteworthy’ section. You have to scroll down quite a ways to find it listed alphabetically. MeeGenius offers a ‘Read to me’ feature for younger children and read by ‘myself’ feature for older children.

I hope to see you there!!

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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.