#50 Precious Words | Flash!

Have your children ever run around snapping photos of you and your family giggling up a storm at the pictures they’ve captured? It feels a bit like being followed around by the toddler paparazzi catching you in less than your best moments. My four-year-old calls these snapshots her treasures. Her precious memories are priceless moments frozen in time, viewed through her lens of the world. Her treasures inspired my piece for Vivian Kirkfkield’s #50 Precious Words Writing Contest.

What is 50 Precious Words?

#50preciouswords is one of my favorite writing contests of the year! Last year there were so many entries and comments it about broke the internet with the outpouring of positivity and creativity!

Did I mention there are prizes? Fabulous prizes! The challenge — write a children’s story for ages 12 and younger in 50 words or less with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Please find details about the contest and its fabulous host, Vivian Kirkfield, by clicking this link  [HERE] The contest is open March 4th-6th. Do you have an entry in mind? Head on over and submit those 50 precious words!

Without further ado, here is my entry, followed by a few treasured “photos” from my daughter’s album.



Christine Alemshah

[WC: 48 words]

FLASH — Mommy’s face…

Baba’s fingers…

Sissy’s elbow…


“But, I love them.”

A closer look reveals…

a secret smile,

interlocked hands,

a warm embrace.

FLASH — “Our family, see?”

A mind wrapped in a riddle,

Sleepy eyes captured in a dream,

When imagination soars, 

photographs sing.


12 Days for Writers: Day 3

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2021.

My writing successes in 2021! 

First and foremost… I’m showing up! Whether thinking of ideas while homeschooling my children or taking them to the park, or writing during my 3 am magic writing hour.

1- I rejoined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 challenge for the first time since 2013!

2- I wrote 21 picture book drafts in 2021 and “won” the 12×12 challenge.

3- Pitch event success progression. The first pitch event I participated in in Feb. 2021 resulted in 1 like. I continued revising my projects and pitches throughout the year, and by the Sept. 2021 pitmad event, my pitches received over 20 likes!

4- I enrolled in Children’s Book Academy’s Illustration and Children’s Book Course in Spring 2021. I had an eye-opening experience learning more about the illustration process of picture book writing.

5- I became a Storyteller Academy Member and as a result, enjoyed fantastic content!

6- After years of digging deep and self-reflection I’ve opened up enough to allow stories highlighting my mixed-heritage and childhood experiences to shine through. I’m look forward to finding the joy in sharing more of my own stories.

7- I’ve been accepted for a  3 Month ONLINE Picture Book Mentorship: Creating a Body of Work for Publication with Rosie J. Pova. I’m over the moon excited! What an excellent way to ring in the new year in 2022!

12 x 12 in 2021 – Back after a long break!

It’s official! I’ve signed up for the 12 x 12 Challenge hosted by Julie Hedlund! My first time doing so since 2013. I had started participating the previous year, in fact here is my original badge from 2012. I can hardly believe it’s been that long! So far I have 1 full draft, 2 partials & 2 revisions under my belt for 2021. 12×12 will be the extra boost needed to stay motivated this year! There’s still time to sign up if you’d like to join in on this fun picture book writing journey. Now-Feb. 28, 2021.

My original badge from 2012!

What is this challenge all about?
The premise is simple. Write 12 full picture books (with a beginning, middle, and end) in 2021. It’s ok if they’re not submission-ready. The idea is just to put pen to page, while motivating yourself and other writers in the process.  You can even earn prizes!! How about that?

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?


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!

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!

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.