My first picture book ever written


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?



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.

Sunflower Scribe Spotlight: Tiffany Laurencio, Illustrator

625507_518103440475_307001398_nToday’s guest taking center stage is none other than talented illustrator, Tiffany Laurencio! Our e-book RIGHT THIS INSTANT was recently released at the MeeGenius Bookstore. When I learned I was being paired with Tiffany I was thrilled! She truly helps the words and characters come alive with her vibrant, whimsical illustrations. I was especially delighted at how Eli and Grandpa’s personalities are captured. I am honored to be sharing her interview with you today.

sunflowericonHello Tiffany! Let’s start things off by having you share  your favorite flower?

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PM

I have 2 favorite flowers! Is that okay? I love the combination of Hydrangeas and Sunflowers!

sunflowericonTell us a little about yourself? How did you get your start as an illustrator?

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PM I’ve always wanted to be an illustrator and I knew I wanted to go to college for it. At Montserrat College of Art I majored in illustration and had some amazing teachers who were children’s book illustrators and authors. Although I took the usual painting, drawing, and liberal arts courses; I was also offered a lot of classes on business and self promotion. That gave me the confidence to pursue freelance illustration while still in school.

sunflowericonYour style is so whimsical and beautiful. Can you tell us a little bit about what inspires your work?TiffanyLaurencio
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PMThank you! Inspiration for my work comes mostly from the New England area whare I live and grew up. When Iwas little my family lived in New Hampshire where there were a lot of woods and farms. It was very secluded. Our house was on a dirt road in the middle of the woods. We also spent a lot of time on or by the ocean in Gloucester, Massachusetts. I had the mysterious woods and the dramatic ocean to daydream about all through my childhood. My Mother’s family all come from Lowell, Massachusetts which is an ethnic melting pot. Diversity is celebrated there through lots of festivals and so I also love to make illustrations with cultural themes.
sunflowericonWhat medium do use to create your illustrations?
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PM I use a few different mediums in my illustrations. It’s a technique that I learned and worked on with a few of my teachers at Montserrat (specifically Kelly Murphy and Lee Wolf). The paintings is mostly acrylic; but over and under the acrylic are washes of watercolor paint layered with gel medium. Sometimes I also use a layer of collaged paper, oil paint, or transfers.
sunflowericonYou seem to wear many hats as an illustrator and a designer. What is your favorite part of what you do?
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PMCreating characters is my favorite thing to do! Especially when they are in an environment.
sunflowericonWhat are working on right now?
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PMRight now I’m halfway through my second book for MeeGenius. It’s called ‘The Queens Game’. I also do a lot of product designs for a pet product company and so I’ve been doing a lot of characters for toys in the last couple months. Product testing with the dogs is always a blast!
sunflowericonWhat is your favorite animal?
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PMUnicorns are my favorite animal. They totally count, right?
sunflowericonWhat piece of advice can you offer young artists and designers to help advance their careers?
Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 5.50.37 PMDraw, doodle and sketch as much as possible.

Thanks for joining us today, Tiffany! You can view more of Tiffany’s work at her website and in the e-book RIGHT THIS INSTANT from MeeGenius. You can also check out the Activities page to download fabulous coloring sheets designed by Tiffany that pair with the book.

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.



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.


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.


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!

Giveaway Winner for Away We Go by Chieu Urban

It was such a delight interviewing Chieu Urban last week. She is such an amazing and creative women. Can you believe she designed this diaper cake?diapercake (1)

The colors a vibrant, bright, and bold. A wonderful reflection of the colorful that awaits AWAY WE GO readers. I can just imagine mom-to-be’s face when she saw this display. Today’s winner is in for a delightful treat.Away We Go! cover

So without further adieu, I’d like to announce today’s giveaway recipient is …

Romelle Broas

Congratulations Romelle! Enjoy!


Sunflower Scribe Spotlight: Chieu Urban, Children’s Book Author + Book Giveaway

gettingready (1)Today I am honored to shine the spotlight on Children’s Book Author, Chieu Urban. She is an amazingly creative author, mother, baker, designer, and so much more. Stick around and find out more about Chieu and her latest book, AWAY WE GO. Chieu has also generously offered to give away a signed copy of her book! You won’t want to miss out on this opportunity. If you’d like to enter please a comment on this post below. You can also earn one additional entry for following Chieu’s blog here, where you can find links to awesome activities for young readers. Winners will be posted Wed. July 10th.

sunflowericonHello Chieu! Let’s start things off by having you share  your favorite flower?

ChieuI love tulips. They are simple in beauty and color, and there is something about tulips that make me very happy.

sunflowericonHow did you get your start in writing and why specifically did you choose to write for children?
ChieuWhen my girls were in preschool, I decided to design a hands-on book to teach them about colors.  I didn’t want a book that simply tells how primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) blend to make secondary ones (purple, orange, and green); I wanted to demonstrate this visually, with a novelty book, which was published six years later.
sunflowericonYour name is so beautiful. How is it pronounced and what is its meaning?
ChieuThank you, that’s very kind.  I’m Vietnamese, and the best spelling I can think of for pronouncing my name is “jeeeeew”, but everyone calls me “chew”.  My name means “the light of the moon”.  My father is a writer and poet, and came up with this name. I haven’t met another Vietnamese woman with my name.
sunflowericonCan you tell us a little more about your new book, Away We Go?
Chieu Away We Go! A Shape and Seek Book is a novelty board book published by Scholastic, Cartwheel.  This concept book Away We Go! coverintroduces basic shapes.  Triangles become sailboats and hearts become airplanes as each spread reveals a different mode of transportation made from bright colors and geometric shapes. Die-cuts of shapes are layered throughout each page, for a fun shape-and seek-game.  The challenge is to find the vehicles in the shapes and the shapes in the vehicles.
sunflowericonHow did you come up with the idea for your Away We Go?
ChieuI have a background in graphic design, and enjoy creating innovative formats that are clever in design.  I thought it would be a fun idea to layer die-cut shapes throughout a book, transitioning from one transportation mode to the next.  I love developing concepts that are playful and educational.
sunflowericonYour bio states that you bake, design, craft, entertain, and are a mom to three awesome girls. Wow! How do ensure that you dessert8have special time each day to write?
ChieuThat’s a great question. My family is my main priority. When they are home, I’m pretty busy spending time with them.  My creative time is when they are in school.  I have a lot less time during the summer, and try to work in the evenings, or sketch at the pool.
sunflowericonWhere can readers find your book for purchase?
ChieuAway We Go! is in Barnes and Nobles, and online with Target, Walmart, and Amazon.

Thanks for joining us today, Chieu. Don’t forget to comment below for your chance to win a copy of Chieu’s book, AWAY WE GO!

Picture Book University

sharebutton_zps63322c77Pam Calvert, author of the brilliantly adorable picture books, Princess Peepers and Princess Peepers Picks a Pet, and blog writer at Woven with Pixie Dust is hosting a new series called Picture Book University. Each Monday she will post an article on picture book writing and a correlating assignment. Her goal is to offer a mini-workshop for picture book writers.

Pam is a talented writer and thorough analyzer of picture books. I think she is offering a wonderful opportunity for children’s writers. I can’t wait to dive in and brush up on my skills. I hope you will check it out too. Click here to find out more about Picture Book University.


Sunflower Scribe Spotlight: Kirsti Call, Children’s Book Author

The Raindrop Who Couldn't FallHello and welcome to my new blog series, ‘Sunflower Scribe Spotlight’. My goal with this series is to shine the spotlight on children’s authors and illustrators. Today I’d like to welcome our first participant, Children’s Author Kirsti Call.

sunflowericonHello Kirsti! As will be customary with all featured authors and illustrators at the ‘Sunflower Scribe Spotlight’, can you start by telling us your favorite flower?

PansyiconMy favorite flower is the purple pansy because I love purple and I hate how “pansy” is sometimes used as an insult.  Come on people, pansies are beautiful!

sunflowericonI just love your welcome video. Can you tell us a little more about how your created it?  
PansyiconI took Katie Davis’s Video Idiot Bootcamp course!  This helped me learn how to make a video, and then I spent many hours with imovie and screenflow.  My 9 year old daughter actually took all the pictures for the video and my 11 year old son recorded me for the talking portions of the movie.  It was a fun family project!  Now, I just need to make a book trailer!Raindrop.Cover-FINAL.FRONT
sunflowericonI can’t wait to read your picture book, THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL. What inspired you to write this book?  
PansyiconI was at Home Depot with my five kids, for 4 hours as we tried to order cabinets for our kitchen.  My middle child, Sydney was desperately bored, so I told her the story that became “The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall.”
sunflowericonHow did you get your start in the writing world? 
PansyiconI’ve always written.  In fact, I have 40 filled journals starting from when I was 5.  But I really started writing again about 2 and 1/2 years ago when I decided to join my local critique group.
sunflowericonDo you have any new writing projects in the works? 
PansyiconI’ve got 15 picture book manuscripts in various states of revisions and I’m slowly working on a MG novel.
sunflowericonI hear your have plans for a book club? Can you tell us a little more about that?
PansyiconThis September I’m starting a book club for kids where they are invited to answer questions about specific picture books.  They can submit their thoughts and pictures and vote for their favorite book.
sunflowericonWould you rather have every day be sunny and always wear rain boots or have every day be rainy and always wear flip flops?
PansyiconI love rain, rainboots and sun, so this is a tough questions.  I guess I don’t really care what the weather is as long as I don’t have to wear flip flops!
sunflowericonWhere can readers find your book for purchase?
PansyiconYou can actually pre-order my book here. When it comes out this fall, it will also be available at Amazon.

Thanks for joining us today, Kirsti. I look forward to sharing your picture book, THE RAINDROP WHO COULDN’T FALL with young readers and adding it to my own collection.



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.

Moving Day

moving dayIt’s been a long time coming. The day is finally here! It was Children’s Author, Katie Davis of Brain Burps on one of her awesome podcasts that finally convinced the little voice in my head to take action and combine my website and blog. Only thing was, that day happened about three months ago. When I actually sat down to do it, I was stumped beyond belief. Every time I’d try to put things all together it was like one tiny gear in a watch was missing and boom — nothing. Until today! Hooray!

The Sunflower Scribe Blog has officially moved over to my main web site. Things are a little rough, and I could really use some followers and feedback too! Let me know what you think!

PS. It was also moving day for my turtle, Houdini. She’s graduating from a 30 gallon tank to an 80 gallon penthouse. She is one lucky turtle!