Thursday, November 18, 2010

What is a Storybird?

Recently, I blogged about 'Using Art as Inspiration for Writing' on the LDS Writer's Blogck. I have just become aware of a great website where some very talented people are implementing that idea. Storybird,, was created as a place for collaborative storytelling. In their words, 'Storybird reverses the process of visual storytelling by starting with the image and "unlocking" the story inside.
Artist's are invited to go there and submit their artwork. There are no fees. You retain all copyrights and control of your work, and you get the satisfaction of watching kids write stories inspired by your artwork. Booyah!
Storybird has no specific age range, but the designers suggest that is is most appropriate for ages 3-13. With Storybird, families and friends can build stories together, whether they are sitting together at the same computer, or across an ocean from one another. The idea is that one person starts with an image, adds some words and passes the story on to be completed.
When the story is complete you can print it, or share it with your network.
I'm excited about this great new resource. It looks like a lot of fun for both artists and kids who want to be inspired to write.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11th. What does it mean?

What is the significance of November 11th and why are all those Canadians wearing poppies? Americans call it Veterans Day. Canadians call it Remembrance Day, but it all adds up to a day to remember the amazing men who fight for the freedom of our countries.

During World War 1, after losing a friend in the second battle of Ypres, Dr. John McCrae, a Canadian military doctor, wrote this poem.

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I can’t think of November 11th without associating it with poppies and this poem. In Elementary School we all memorized it and recited it each Remembrance Day. I hope it will mean as much to you as it does to me. It still makes me stop and think.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To eBook or Not to eBook

I have recently discovered the decedant world of eBooks. Electronic books at the tips of your fingers. So many to choose from and it's so easy, you can download with the click of a button. You hardly feel the cash slipping effortlessly out of your account.
Apps like ibooks, amazon kindle and borders ebooks make it easy to download oodles of books. In the mood for a classic? There are apps loaded with classics, some of them are free. 'Classics' by Andrew Kazmierski has the best rating and comes recommended by Apple. It has realistic page turning visuals and sounds. Of course most of the book apps like amazon and borders offer free classics as part of their package.
I have found that reading on my i-phone is a little frustrating because the screen is so tiny. A kindle would probably be better. The advantage is that I can hold it in one hand. I can read in a restaurant and not have to balance the book. Finding the page is fast too, but where do I put my cute bookmarks?
So, when you publish that book of yours, will you go the ebook route? I think I would. I always check to see if a book has that option now. I'm not saying that my regular books are history, I'm just looking to the future.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Worms in the Fridge

There are worms in my fridge. I find it disturbing. It's not because of bad hygiene and rotting food or anything uber-disgusting like that. It's just that my husband has become all consumed with a passion for fishing. Thus we have worms.
In the past month we have eaten walleye, perch, bass, bluegill and carp. When will the madness end. Frankly, I don't think there's much hope. I may start a fish based recipe site. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Have You Won The Versitile Blogger Award?

I opened my email this morning and found an e-mail from author/editor Virginia Grenier giving me the Versatile Blogger award. I have to admit, it made my day.
Viriginia is currently in the process of getting Stories for Children Magazine up and on it's feet again. It's a great place to take your stories or articles if you write for kids. Virginia is a writer on She is a busy mom of three kids and a published author as well.
As with most of these awards, the way it works is that you pass it on. I would now like to give this coveted, prestigious award to these people.
Cindy Beck- Rashelle Workman-, Rebecca Talley-, Wendy Swore-, Elizabeth Mueller-, Lori Nawyn-, Ali Cross-, Connie Hall-, Tina Scott-, Karen Dupaix-, Carolyn Frank-, Weston Elliot-, Sarah Southerland-, Jaime Theler- and Shawna Tenney-
The next part of the award is totally up to the recipients time and enthusiasm level. If you wish you may participate. If not, sit back and enjoy knowing that you are loved in a bloggy way.
1. Thank the person who passed the award on to you.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3.Present this honor to 15 other bloggers.
4.Let them know why they have recieved this honor.
You may have noticed that I included blogsites. Check them out. They are awesome.
Here come my seven things:
1. This year is my 25 wedding anniversary.
2. I am a certified dental assistant (does that make me certifiable?)
3. I am addicted to Wendy's frostys.
4. We didn't have indoor plumbing till I was four.
5. I really like to paint cows.
6. I live with a kids who are 13, 15, 17 and 18. Certifiable probably fits.
7. I almost always wear socks.
Again, thanks to Virginia for this award, and Kudos to those to whom I passed it on. You rock.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Colorful Cow

Now that's a lot of color. What you see is the computer version (from photoshop). I'm still working on the actual painting in acrylic. After playing on the computer I think I am going to simplify what I attempted with the wheat. I like just a few stalks front and center. In the painting I'm working on I tried to fill in with background stalks and leaves and it got way too busy. I like acrylic. You can paint over your mistakes. It's like a giant eraser. Yay for erasers.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cows Are Us

Good art doesn't go with your couch, but does it go with your bedspread? I just put a new bedspread on my son's bed that has a border edged in wheat. It is this big bold, out there kind of wheat. I just had to paint a cow to go with it. Will it give the cow indigestion? Will my 15 year old complain? Not sure, but it was one of those things that just had to be done.
More to follow as color hits the canvas.

Things That Make You Go Hmmm.

At Cedar Breaks National Park, I saw a guy with this saying on his T-shirt, "The opposite of poverty isn't wealth." It's one of those things that make you go hmmm.
I discussed this with my 17-year old. You have to decide what wealth is. Is it happiness, knowledge, an abundance of friends and family.
Conversely, what is poverty. Can you live in a palace and still be poor. I'm sure there are people who are struggling in this economic depression who would beg to differ.
What do you think?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Paint What You Know

I know, it's supposed to be write what you know. But when I go home to the farm and I'm surrounded by views of things that I know and love, my fingers itch to paint what I know. Maybe that's why half of what I end up drawing seems to be cows. What inspires you?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Personal History

I have been writing my personal history and both of my parents personal histories to prepare for their 50th anniversary celebration. It has been illuminating. I found that as I wrote I gained a new level of appreciation for my parents. They are stellar individuals. The choices that they made even before I was born have made a profound difference to my life. Both of them are such good people with clear values, goals and aspirations. Writing about their lives made me want to redefine my own goals and strive for better things.
Writing my own personal history has also been an interesting journey. I kept thinking of things to add and thinking of things that maybe I didn't want to add. Do I really want my kids to know about the weird things I did in high school? Maybe some things are better left unsaid. What do you think. Do you air all those skeletons for future generations, or do you let them gather dust and hope they quietly crumble away?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Who Invented the 'Senior Trip' ?

I just got back from taking my daughter and a couple of her friends on her 'Senior Trip'. We did the road trip to California thing with days at the beach and a couple of amusement parks. The girls had fun and I played chaperone/photographer. What I really want to know is, who invented this 'Senior Trip' scam anyway?
When I graduated from High School the attitude was, congratulations kid. Here's your diploma. Now go get a job.
Today I hear kids saying "What did you get for graduation? Where are you going on your Senior Trip? A sense of entitlement maybe?
So why did we give in and let her go to California? 'Cause we didn't want her to go to Mexico.
What's your take on the whole 'Senior Trip' thing. Did you go? What will you do when your kids come to you asking about where they get to go?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

SFC Newsletter for Writers

Stories for Children Magazine may have taken a hiatus, but Stories for Children Newsletter is alive and well. It has been voted one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer's Digest. This newsletter is not only for children's writers, it's for anyone who loves to write. If you sign up, you will get a free monthly e-mail in PDF form with tips on writing, how other writers started down the road to success through trial and error, success stories on being published, contests, writing markets, and much more.
To subscribe to this newsletter, simply go to this site:
Here is what one reader said about the newsletter:
"I read the first two newsletters and you offer a nice selection of articles for writers of children's stories, as well as a great source of markets, contests, etc." --Marcia Berneger
Great information coming to you monthly for free. You can't beat that.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Great Way to Self Critique

Do you ever have times when you look at your writing and think, what now? It seems to flow when I read it. I don't see any grammatical errors. I'm sure there is something I could do to improve this piece, I'm just not sure what it is. I have a friend who is the diva of critiquing (you are dying to know who it is aren't you, it's Karen Mittan). She gave me a gem of a critiquing tool the other day and since I'm feeling generous, I'm going to share it with you.
For each of your paragraphs get a three by five card and write down the questions who, what, where, when, why and how. Ask questions relevant to your paragraph. For example: Who is affected in this paragraph? How did I show what my character was feeling. Where was he in this scene? What was he wearing? Was I descriptive, did I need to be? Why did my character say what he did? When did my character suddenly sit down?
Each set of questions will be different for each paragraph, and they will help you dig a little deeper into what makes each paragraph work, or not work. They may even help you to make your paragraph work better.
Thanks Karen.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

SCBWI Illustrator's Gallery

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has a great new venue, an illustrator's gallery. That's right, you can put your work on display. You don't even have to be a member of SCBWI to look at it. Just scroll down to their link (under links for illustrators). When you bring up the site, click on the box that says 'for illustrators'. Next click on 'The SCBWI Illustrator's Gallery'. How easy is that. To look up an illustrator there is an option to either put the name in a search bar, or look them up alphabetically. I just added my name this morning, but you have to be a member to add a portfolio.

When you are looking at a portfolio, you can click on an image to enlarge it, thus seeing more of the incredible detail.
Putting your work on display like this is a great way to share your work with other illustrators.

On an SCBWI Illustrator's blog, I found the following quote by Patrick Collins, the Creative Director at Henry Holt Books,“A portfolio should include about 10 pieces of your best work. Be selective. Don’t include more than 20 pieces. At least 3 of the works should show characters, people or animals, in scenes or poses that tell a story. The characters’ faces and body language should express emotion and attitudes in such a way that the image establishes a mood and tells the story. Portraits, landscapes and florals don’t do the job in this business.”

So here is the challenge to all you artsy types. Get out there, join SCBWI and get your work up where people can see it. I did.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Naked Writer

Driving in my van (Vanessa), this afternoon, I dug around in my purse for a notebook, in case I had any ideas I needed to write down. Alas, I couldn't find even a scrap of paper. "I'm naked!" I screamed. And that's actually how I felt. It's a good thing I didn't have any kids in the car. Although at this point, they probably would have taken it in stride.
How would you feel as a writer without a pen or a pencil and something, anything to write on. Writing is darn well addictive. You have to do it. And when the urge strikes, what ever is available will do.
What have you written with or on that wasn't conventional?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mrs. Fix It

Here's my list for today.1- Put up a new light fixture outside our kitchen door. 2- fix the kitchen drawer that fell in on itself. 3- Drill a hole for a knob on the cabinet door I replaced a few weeks ago. 4- Put a new screw in the little decorative shelf that fell off the wall. 5- Sew buttons on several skirts and pants. 6- Hem the bed skirt that is about an inch too long for our bed. 7- Finish the laundry because the boys have run out of socks.
Where the heck do I fit writing in there. Life is full of so many demands on our time.
What do you do to balance 'The list' with your writing time?

Monday, April 5, 2010


Easter weekend and my kistka was flying. A kistka is the tool that you use to make pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). Yes, I know it’s not exactly illustration, but it actually is a form of story telling. Did you know that the work pysanky comes from the latin word pysaty – to write. So these eggs are in fact written eggs. They are eggs with a message. The colors and symbols on the eggs have different meanings to them.
Some basic color meanings are: White – Purity, Yellow – Kindness, Orange – Endurance, Green – Spring, Blue – Truth, Red- Eternity.
Symbols are divided up into animals, plants, geometric patterns and religious symbols. A few of their meanings are: Spider – Patience, Grapes – Fellowship, Horse – Prosperity, Fish net – Bringing men to Christ.
The eggs are made with a wax resist process. The kistka which is a brass funnel on the end of a stick, is heated over a candle flame. When it is hot, you fill it with bees wax. I love the smell of bees wax in the morning. You use the kistka to draw thin lines of bees wax on your egg where ever you want to leave white lines. Then you dip it in a light color of dye. You go from the lightest color to the darkest, adding more wax and then dipping progressively in darker colors. At the end, you melt off the wax, varnish the egg and blow it out.
Be careful, this is an addictive craft. Once you start you will find that you want to try more and more patterns.
The best place to find supplies is They have an extensive supply of what you will need and they ship it in a timely fashion with very reasonable prices.
If you have any questions there is a superb website It has lots of great information, even places in Utah where you can take classes. You will find me listed as an instructor.
So next Easter try something new. Or better yet, don't wait. I make pysanky all year round.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blogs Dedicated To Writing

Did you know that there are some stellar blogs out there that are specifically about writing? I am aware of a few of them. Here are the ones that I know of.
Nathan Bransford is a literary agent who gives all sorts of information about writing and publishing on his blog.
Cynthia Leitych Smith is a writer who has an agent. She shares a wealth of knowledge with readers who check out her blog called Cynsations.
Scott Rhodes has a blog called Scott Rhodes Writing Tools. He shares a bunch of free writing tools for your computer to aid with your writing.
Stacy Whitman's Grimoire is a blog done by a gal from Utah whose new imprint, Tu publishing was just purchased by Lee and Low books. Cool, eh. She has oodles of advice on things like writing, publishing and finding an agent.
Another great source for writing inspiration is The Utah Children's Writer's Blog. It is constantly updated with great information about writing topics by talented writers.
You will find these blogs listed under Links for Children's Writer's in the right hand column of my blog if you want to check them out or copy them to your own blog.
Well, I shared mine. Do you have any writing blogs that you enjoy. I'd love to hear about them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where do they get this stuff?

This morning I took a look at my twelve-year-old and told him I thought it was time for a hair cut. He turned to me and said, "A really good hair cut can change your DNA and make you truly sexy fine."
How do you respond to that. The kid is twelve. And where did he come up with that line.
As to what to do with it, I say, write it down. Save it for a writing reference. Use it as an idea to start a story or build a character. It's too precious to let fizzle.
Kids say stuff all the time that you can work with. When one of my kids was about three he was eating his breakfast and he looked up and said, "Mom, who invented fried eggs." I made up a story about a caveman accidentally dropping a pterodactyl egg on a hot rock and he was happy.
Are you taking advantage of your kids when you take their lines or questions and use them to further your writing? According to my husband, it doesn't matter. We only had them so we would have some one else around to do the dishes.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What do you do with words that inspire you?

So what do you do when you are reading along and you find a passage that just sings to you. In the past, I would have just thought, wow, I want to write like that. After talking to a friend of mine, I know what I would do now.
When Karen finds a line or a scene that touches her that way, she writes it down. She doesn't ignore it, she dedicates a little time to it. She told me if the writing was that good, she wanted to remember how it was written. In writing it down, she does two things. She keeps a copy of writing that inspires her, and she studies how the words were written.
Smart girl.
Thanks for the tip, Karen. If your goal is to write as well as some of the authors whose books you simply breathe in, could be a notebook of words that inspire you might be the way to go.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Where do I go from here?

This is it. Stories for Children Magazine has officially printed its last issue. Ouch. I feel so lost. These guys were my life-line. I was getting an art assignment a month from them and now I feel set adrift.
My last assignment was an illustration of a girl playing volleyball for a youth poem. You can see it posted on my blog.
I will miss the challenge of having a new story, article or poem to inspire me.
So what do I do, now that I no longer have SFC? I do have an illustrated picture book that has been on the back burner waiting to be finished. Perhaps now is the time to dust it off and see what I can do with it. I have posted a sketch from one of the pages on my blog above the volleyball picture. What do you think? Watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil? What medium would you use, and would you make any changes?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mormon Mishaps and Mischief Blog Tour and Contest

Here is What USA Today had to say about Mormon Mishaps and Mischief:In chronicling various true, humorous anecdotes, "Mormon Mishaps and Mischief" exposes Mormonism for what it truly is: a religion made up of normal people. From ecclesiastical foot-in-mouth moments to tender yet humorous moments of youthful innocence, Giles and Beck have compiled an easy-reading treasure trove of humorous vignettes.
I would have to agree. This book is full of witty anecdotes that give you a boost of laughing juice. Just what is needed in todays hectic lifestyle. It's a great gift for Valentines Day, an anniversary, birthday, or just if you are in need of a chuckle. It's great for stress relief or joy-uptake.
This incredible book can be purchased at these fine locations - Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, The BYU Bookstore or Deseret Book.

If you would like to have your book signed by one of it's awesome authors, you can attend a book signing at one of these events,

Feb 11, Thurs., 11:45a-1:00p.
Wilkinson Center
BYU, Provo, UT

Mar 9, Tues., 3:00-7:00p.
Santaquin Library Fundraiser
20 W 100 S
Santaquin, UT
A portion of all sales will go to help the library!

And now, what you have all been waiting for...THE CONTEST!
From now, until February 19th, you can enter to win a $20 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. Here's how. C.L. Beck and D.N. Giles will draw a random winner from all of the stops on the blog tour. For more chances to win, visit the LDS Humor Blog to see the other blogs participating or go to the list at the bottom of this page. Winner to be announced Monday, February 22nd.

Leave a comment on my blog each time you enter the contest. Here are the steps:
1. Become a follower on my blog. I'm so lonely.
2. Write a wonderful review of the book on one or all of these sites: Amazon, Deseret Book, Goodreads, Shelfari, or other review sites. Leave a comment for each and a link to your review on my blog so I can read your inspiring words.
3. Blog about the book and the contest. Link back to the LDS Humor Blog and the Mishaps Website.
4. Tweet or FB this review.

Blog Tour as follows
Feb 5th ~Rachelle Christensen: Rachelle Writes
Feb 6th ~Ronda Hinrichsen: The Write Blocks
Feb 9th ~Connie Hall: C.LaRene Hall
Feb 10th ~Cathy Witbeck: Story Painter
Feb 11th ~Dan Olsen: Dan Olsen's Weblog
Feb 12th ~Danyelle Ferguson: Queen of the Clan

You can click on these blog links and the link to LDS Humor Blog and the Mishaps Website under blogs I like to visit.

Friday, February 5, 2010

True Story

Sometimes the best stories are the ones that you find right in your own family history. In this month's issue of Stories for Children Magazine there is a true story about my father-in-law's experience with a young Dutch boy during the second world war. I had to call his brother to get details for the story, because my father-in-law passed away last year. Luckily, his brother was there with him in the same unit and knew the story well. It was one of the stories that Dad actually liked to tell the grandchildren because it showed a positive side of the war, and there wasn't much of that.
The story is called 'The Mess Tin' and it is written from the point of view of the little boy. I hope I got most of what happened right. I think the emotions are pretty well summed up.
The illustration is on my blog. It was fun to do. I had my sixteen year old pose for it. The toughest part was that stinkin' fence. Later someone pointed out to me that there probably wasn't chain link in WWII era, it was most likely chicken wire. My land, try to illustrate that.
If you are interested in checking the story out, go to and take a look at February's issue. I also have a thrilling article on keeping your teeth clean. Booyah.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Where Do You Go To Find Good Children's Books?

There is an awesome blog which has recently changed it's name. It used to be 'Deliciously Clean Reads',now it is called 'Homespun Light'. The purpose of this blog is to recommend and review books that are free of sex, profanity and graphic violence. Homespun Emily, the creator of the blog, welcomes reviews as long as the book fits the criteria mentioned.
In a column on the left hand side of Emily's blog, there is a list of categories that you can refer to. Those that would be of interest for children or teens would include - Adventure, Christian, Classic, Coming of Age, Family, Fantasy, High School, Historical Fiction, Humor, Non-fiction, Mystery, Picture Books,Pre-Tween, Read-Aloud, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Teen and Tween. Click on any of these and you get a list of reviews of books in that category.
What a great place to go and find a book. If you are concerned about the content of what your child is reading, check out 'Homespun Light' at