Book Reviews and More

Hi! This blog is for my classes at Texas Woman's University.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Reading Year in Review

Hello everyone!

A belated Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to everyone. I hope that you are excited about the upcoming New Year. I have been looking forward to this post for quite a while - a chance to total up all of the reading I did in 2014. I tried to remember to post all of my books, although I may have missed a few, I think it's a pretty good list of the books I've read this year.

Drumroll please...

245 books read this year!

I'm feeling pretty good about that number. A lot of different types of books and genres including: 128 picture books, 97 chapter books (easy readers, elementary, middle grade, and young adult), and 21 grown-up books. Also, of the 245 books, 27 were audiobooks. I love audiobooks for squeezing in reading time!

I've never kept track of the books I've read before, and I have to say I love it. I can look back at the list and think about different times of the year and what was going on in our lives. It helps my rusty memory! I'm already looking forward to starting next year's list tomorrow.

Happy reading everyone and Happy New Year's! Looking forward to lots of literary moments in 2015! Also thanks so much for reading my blog this year - I really appreciate it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Reading recommendations for 3rd and 4th graders

Hi everyone,

One of our assignments in Youth Programs this year was to come up with a Booktalk Bookmark for 3rd and 4th graders recommending books in a certain genre. My choice was CSI Files (mystery, detective stories). Of our ten selections, eight had to be from the past two years, and only two could be older titles.

I think it's a pretty good list so I wanted to share, especially if you are shopping for someone in this age range. I think you'd find something for every reading level with this group. First I list the titles, as they would appear on a bookmark, and then you'll see a description and the reasons I selected the particular titles.


Booktalk Bookmark

Theme: CSI Files for 3rd and 4th graders

Bookmark titles:

Agatha, Girl of Mystery: The Curse of the Pharaoh written by Steven Stevenson, illustrated by Stefano Turconi

Ballpark Mysteries: The Astro Outlaw written by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science, written by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure, written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, written by Donald J. Sobol

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, written by Chris Grabenstein

Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth, written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives on the Job by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent


Agatha, Girl of Mystery #1: The Curse of the Pharaoh written by Steven Stevenson, illustrated by Stefano Turconi, Grosset & Dunlap, 2013, ISBN 9780448462172

- A young Agatha Christie is on the case in this series of mysteries. In this book, 12-year-old Agatha is an international detective, investigating a stolen Egyptian artifact. I picked this title because of the appeal of series to this age group. I also liked having a girl detective role model. This series is a good choice for kids who enjoyed Cam Jansen. Perhaps it will inspire kids to read the real Agatha Christie novels when they get older.

Ballpark Mysteries #4: The Astro Outlaw written by David A. Kelly, illustrated by Mark Meyers, Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012, ISBN 9780375868832

- In this series, baseball and mystery are combined to guarantee a hit among fans of both genres. Each book in the series is set in a different ballpark across the country, and gives history and facts about the stadiums. In this book, two cousins try and solve a mystery at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. I picked this particular title in the series since it is set in Texas. Also, sports are a big part of a lot of kids’ lives and I thought it would appeal to sports fans. I also liked having a more “boy-friendly” title to balance out the Agatha and Nancy Clancy selections, although this series has a boy and girl main characters, so hopefully it will appeal to both boys and girls.

Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
Scholastic Press, 2012, ISBN 9780545395397
- This fast-paced mystery combines adventure with history. A group of three kids are on a race to save the famous flag that inspired the “Star-Spangled Banner”. I think fans of the National Treasure movies should jump into this story. It is selected on many recommended reading lists, as well as winning the Crystal Kite award for New York. It includes a diverse cast of characters. There are also two sequels, so if the kids enjoy it they can continue in the series.

Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science, written by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Michael Wandelmaier, Kids Can Press, 2010, ISBN 9781554533626
- This nonfiction selection uses science to try and find an answer to some of history’s unsolved mysteries. There are nine mysteries, including disappearing cities, leaders, and explorers. This title is especially appealing for inquisitive kids and is a great combination of science and history.

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure, written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Kevin Cornell, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014, ISBN 9781442496767
- The chicks from the popular J.J. Tully mystery series are heading out on their own to solve mysteries and fight crime. I chose this book because this series is an easy introduction into the mystery genre for independent chapter readers.  I was also trying to have a nice range of reading levels on the bookmark, since 3rd and 4th graders can vary quite a bit in their reading ability.

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective, written by Donald J. Sobol
Puffin, 2007 (reprint), ISBN 9780142408889
- The classic neighborhood detective Encyclopedia Brown never fails to solve a case, and the kids get to try and solve it along with him. Answers to how Encyclopedia solves the crimes are given at the back of the book. I picked this book because it remains a popular series, especially for kids who like to try and figure out puzzles. Whether the kids solve it themselves, or just flip to the back and are amazed by Encyclopedia’s power of deduction, it’s a fun and interesting read. Plus, there are a lot of books in the series, so it lends itself to further reading for those who enjoy it.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, written by Chris Grabenstein
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2013, ISBN 978-0375870897
- The eccentric Mr. Lemoncello challenges a group of kids to solve the mystery of the town’s newly designed state-of-the-art library. Investigative puzzle clues pave the way to discovering the library’s hidden secrets. It’s an especially good choice for avid readers, who may appreciate all the references to books within the mystery. It is listed on many recommended reading lists, an ALSC notable book, Kirkus and Booklist starred reviews, and a New York Times bestseller.

Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth, written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, Harper Collins, 2012, ISBN 9780062082930
- Fancy Nancy is growing up and solving mysteries, inspired by Nancy Drew. I included this title to especially appeal to kids who liked the colorful Fancy Nancy picture books, but are ready to move onto longer chapter books. The Fancy Nancy series also includes vocabulary as part of the stories, and the pattern of introducing new words continues with this chapter book series.

Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka,
Walden Pond Press, 2013, ISBN 9780062071644
- The Platypus Police Squad is on the case. In this nod to classic police buddy tales, the newbie and the old timer team up to try and figure out who is behind the disappearance of a favorite teacher. This book is the first in a new series written by the author of the popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, which should increase the appeal factor. It is also on the Bluebonnet list, which I hoped would create some crossover interest between the two lists.

Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives on the Job by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Bloomsbury USA Children, 2014 ISBN 978-0802736185
- In this nonfiction title, kids can learn about how dogs play the role of detective. The colorful pictures and engaging stories are sure to entice animal lovers. I picked this title because it was such an interesting topic for kids to learn about. Plus, animal books are very popular for this age group and will appeal to both boys and girls.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

App Review for Youth Programs class - Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!

Greetings everyone!

Many writers and publishers are investigating the potential that Apps have to tell stories with digital media. Some supplement a book, some are digital versions of the book, and publishers are continuing to try and find new ways to catch the attention of young digital natives and their parents (along with their many, many media devices).

While I'm definitely not looking for more time in front of a screen for my kids, it is part of the world we live in today. So, I do like when I find a particularly good app for the kids to enjoy. For my Youth Programs class, we had to review an educational/literature-based app. Here's my review for Don't Let the Pigeon Run this App! based on the books by Mo Willems:

“Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!” By Mo Willems (and you!)

This app is based on the character of Pigeon from Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, created by three-time Caldecott honoree Mo Willems. The app is sold by Disney Publishing Worldwide Applications and is compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app currently requires iOS 5.1 or later to run, and is 263 MB. It is rated for ages 4 and up. The app is $5.99.

The “Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!” is designed for both entertainment and to encourage storytelling and imagination. In the app, children can create their own version of the Pigeon story along with the help of the character of the Bus Driver. For the Create Your Own Story option, there are three developmental levels: Egg, Chick, and Big Pigeon. In the Egg level, the stories are already created and the kids listen to them. In the Chick level, the child is given a choice of responses to choose from to create the story. There is also a Read button, which will let kids read along with the stories in the Egg and Little Chick levels. In the Big Pigeon level, the children are allowed to give their own range of responses to questions by speaking answers into the device’s microphone. Kids can save up to six of the Big Pigeon stories to listen to at a later time.

In addition to the Create Your own Story game, there is also a Draw the Pigeon game. In this portion, kids use their finger to draw a pigeon (or whatever they want). If they want to learn how to draw the Pigeon himself, there is a very easy-to-follow tutorial hosted by Mo Willems. Once finished with their drawings, kids have the option to save the picture to the device’s photo library.

There is also a “Boring Stuff” section. This section includes directions to the apps games, as well as copyright and publisher information, and information on Mo Willem’s Pigeon books. This section is the only one that includes any sort of advertising, and it does offer the option to share an email address to receive information about new mobile apps and offers from Disney books. It does require entering your birth date, as a precaution to keep people under the age of 18 from signing up, but as in many apps, this information could be easily falsified. Tie-ins to Willem’s other characters, such as the Duckling or Elephant and Piggie are also mentioned in some of the games.

This app is very kid-friendly, of professional quality, and easy to use. It fits in nicely with lessons on ways to develop and write stories, and encourages kids to have fun using their imagination and creativity. It receives high reviews from app review sources such as Curious Little Apps, Little eLit, Common Sense Media, and the Apple app store. The graphics are simple, appealing, and done in the style of the Pigeon books, so children familiar with the books will recognize Willem’s drawing style. For those kids who haven’t read the books, this app will most likely compel them to seek out Pigeon’s print stories as well.

The app is interactive in that it encourages kids to come up with their own new versions of the Pigeon story. It requires the kids to shake the device and speak into the microphone, as well as tap the screen. Most of the technical issues seem to stem from customers having trouble getting the microphone to work, but that question is addressed on the app store page.

This app could be easily enjoyed at library storytime, from Toddler to Elementary age, in place of or in addition to any of the Pigeon/Mo Willems storybooks. Depending on the technology available (is there a microphone that works?) and the age of the audience, any of the three levels of the app could be used in a group setting. It can also be used in a classroom or school library. This app could be used on in-house library iPad devices. Although that does bring up a concern in my mind because of the create your own story feature. I am guessing that saved versions would need to be checked from time to time to make sure that no inappropriate or vulgar phrases were recorded and saved on the device. I know this can be an issue with some publicly used apps/games from time to time. So while it could work in a general computer setting, I would think it would be more advantageous in a storytime or small group setting.  

Personal anecdote: Our family discovered this app when my son was four, and he still absolutely loves it at the age of six. I would have thought the novelty of it would have worn out, but the ability to continually create new and original stories keeps the appeal alive. Even my teenagers love to get on this app. It is an especially fun one for multi-age levels to play together and come up with silly stories, so I like that aspect as well.


"Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!" App Store. Apple Inc., updated 1 May 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <!/id459749670?mt=8>.

Healy, Christopher. "Don't Let The Pigeon Run This App! - App Review." Don't Let The Pigeon Run This App! App Review. Common Sense Media, 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

Jones, Bradley. "IPads in Storytime: Skokie Public Library Primary Time." Little ELit. Little ELit, 10 Feb. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

Stewart, Libby. "Curious Little Apps: Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App." Curious Little Apps: Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App. Curious Little Apps, 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2014. <>.

Friday, December 5, 2014

December SCBWI Houston Book Report

Hi everyone!

We got into the Holiday spirit at the Houston SCBWI meeting this month. I hope that everyone enjoyed the games we played. It was lots of fun coming up with them for y'all.

Here's the book report titles from this month's meeting:

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (YA)
Viking Juvenile ISBN 9780670012091

Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives on the Job by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent (NF)

Bloomsbury USA Children ISBN 9780802736185 

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (PB)
Candlewick ISBN 9780763662295

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello everyone,

  Just a quick wish for a Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope that you were able to enjoy time with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday. I am thankful for those of you that check into my blog from time to time. I appreciate it!

  If you are a SCBWI Houston member, don't forget to join us for our holiday party on Monday, December 1st. Details are at I'm coming up with some bookish games for the party, and there will be yummy food and member book sales. Join us to celebrate another successful and inspiring year with the Houston chapter.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New lists to increase our To Be Read (TBR) pile

Hi everyone!

Here in Texas, it's an exciting time because the new Bluebonnet list for 2015-2016 is out. The list is recommended reading targeted toward 3-6th graders and put together by the Texas Library Association (TLA). To be honest, the timing of the lists always confuses me a bit, because at most schools, kids are still trying to read the 2014-2015 selections. While I understand that the lists come out in November for the following year, since most Bluebonnet programs are done at schools, I've always thought a list that coincides with the school year would be a little less confusing. Regardless of all of that, on with the list!

First, let me give a big hooray(!) because one of my favorite books I read this year is on the list: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. In fact, I enjoyed the book so much that I chose it for my latest book trailer project. This time for it's for my Youth Programs class. Here's the link to the trailer: or hopefully it will play here:

To my surprise, that is the only book on the list I've read so far. Although, quite a few have been on my bed stand for a while - so now I will have the motivation to move them up the pile.

Here's the selections this year:

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
The Great American Dust Bowl by Don Brown
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Book One: Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso
Always, Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh
Emily's Blue Period by Cathleen Daly
Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman
The Vanishing Coin by Kate Egan and magician Mike Lane
The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert
Mountain Dog by Margarita Engle
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill
Zane and the Hurricane: A Story of Katrina by Rodman Philbrick
Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen
The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles
Rutherford B., Who Was He?: Poems About Our Presidents by Marilyn Singer
Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage

Here is the link to the official Texas Bluebonnet list:

What do you think of the list? I'm seeing a few more historical-based titles, which should make great tie-ins with other classroom subjects, especially social studies, art, and music. Some repeat performers as well, The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is the follow-up to Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage. Marilyn Singer was also on the list for her creative poetry book Mirror Mirror, so I look forward to seeing her poetic take on the Presidents.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Bonjour everyone!

I just returned from Paris and had a lovely time. This trip was for training for Girl Scouts, and I was lucky to meet so many nice ladies who are working hard to make sure their troops have great international experiences.

Since Veteran's Day was approaching, there was quite a bit of focus on the trip about World War II and the Nazi occupation of France. I was so grateful that I had recently read Code Name Verity (which is about spies during WWII). There were so many references that I understood (even French words that I knew the meaning!) because I had read that historical novel. Places, dates, and events had much more meaning to me because I remembered them from the book. And that was a fiction book! It helped emphasize to me the ways that fiction can be used to help bring history to life, as well as nonfiction or textbooks.

My parents listened to the book Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand on a car trip a few weeks back. When we went to the air show recently, my mom commented that seeing the historical fighter planes and re-enactments was especially meaningful since they had just listened to that novel.

The first time I went to Paris, a friend recommended a collection of short stories, Paris in Mind, edited by Jennifer Lee. It was great to experience Paris through many different eyes, as well as my own. In fact, at one point on the trip, I sat on a blanket in the grassy area below the Eiffel Tower and read the book and people watched. What a wonderful memory!

I just love examples of how reading and literature can enhance our experiences. While reading is generally a solitary activity (although can easily be shared with audiobooks), it can open us up to the world in so many different ways.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

November SCBWI Houston Book Reports (and I'm in the newspaper!)

Hi everyone,

First, let me give a big thanks to Melissa Buron for using some of our Blog Hop tour from this summer for an article in one of the local Houston area newspapers.

Here's the link if you want to check it out:

Thanks Melissa for my 15 minutes of fame!

Here are my book report titles from this month's SCBWI meeting. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (YA)
Disney-Hyperion ISBN 9781423152194

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff (MG/Upper Elementary)
Philomel ISBN 9780399164057

Dog Days of School by Kelly Dipucchio, Illustrated by Brian Biggs
Disney-Hyperion ISBN 9780786854936

Pig and Small by Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers ISBN 9781561457977

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween! Any Nanowrimo or PiBoIdMo participants out there?

Just a quick note to say Happy Halloween to everyone! We really enjoy Halloween in our family and are looking forward to trick-or-treating tonight. We get A LOT of kids in our neighborhood so it always makes for a busy night.

I'm rethinking my blog post schedule. I'd like to keep it up on a regular basis, discussing either book, writing or library-related issues. So my goal is to blog at least once a week, with Wednesday being my target day to put up a new post.

Speaking of goals, tomorrow is November 1st, which means the kick-off of such writing challenges as Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). I'm signing up for both! Graduate school and extracurricular activities have kept me so busy that I haven't taken much time to focus on my writing, so I'm hoping these challenges will do the trick. If you're on the fence about participating, give it a try! Last year I did a modified Nano challenge, where I just focused on a certain word count a day. This year I'm going to try and actually hit the 50,000 words, but we will see how that goes.

I appreciate those of y'all who are still checking in every once in a while to see what is going on here on my blog.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Benefits of Uninterrupted Reading Time and Silent Reading Parties

Hi all,

For my Library Information Sources and Services class, we have to comment about current events relating to the library world. I found this article about the benefits of slow reading and the advent of Silent Reading Parties.  I thought the effect of technology on our brain and reading patterns was really interesting, and the silent reading events sounded like so much fun and something that libraries could easily host. So I wanted to share my post with y'all as well. Maybe you'll find a Silent Reading Party somewhere near you and take part - or at least use this as an excuse not to feel guilty about time spent curled up with a good book!

Here's my post:

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out the benefits of a sustained, silent reading time - not just for kids in Elementary school - but for adults as well. The article goes into detail about how the advent of technology, texts, twitter, and screen reading has changed the way our brains focus and read text. "Screens have changed our reading patterns from the linear, left-to-right sequence of years past to a wild skimming and skipping pattern as we hunt for important words and information. One 2006 study of the eye movements of 232 people looking at Web pages found they read in an "F" pattern, scanning all the way across the top line of the text but only halfway across the next few lines, eventually sliding their eyes down the left side of the page in a vertical movement toward the bottom. None of this is good for our ability to comprehend deeply, scientists say" (Whalen "Read Slowly to Benefit Your Brain and Cut Stress"). Over time, researchers fear that this type of reading may impact our ability to comprehend complicated texts or contemplate new concepts. In addition, fewer people are scheduling uninterrupted reading time - without the distraction of incoming texts, pausing to check emails or other modern-day distractions. 
In reaction to this lack of reading time, some groups around the world have starting hosting Silent Reading Parties. At these events, often hosted at a bar or coffee shop, people bring a book (or e-book, as long as its internet connectivity is turned off) and sit around and read uninterrupted, but together. After about an hour or more, the readers then spend some time socializing with each other (Whalen "No Devices, No Talking"). 
So how does this relate to libraries? My first thought, when I saw a video interview with the Wall Street Journal reporter who wrote the article, was "Libraries could do this!" Libraries seem like a natural choice to host Silent Reading Events - we can even supply the books. Some modern libraries even have coffee shops connected to them, which could enhance the social gathering aspect of the event. I particularly like the idea of hosting one of these types of events at college libraries. As academic reference librarians, we could provide the information to the students about the benefits of uninterrupted reading time - and then offer them an opportunity to try it out. Even when helping them with their research, reference librarians can point out the difference between skimming material to find out if it is pertinent to their subject,  and the next step: slowly, silently reading the material to comprehend and apply what is being explained. It seems an important skill to point out, especially with today's millenial generation which has grown up with much shorter bursts of information bombarding them all the time.
I personally think one of these silent reading parties sounds like a refreshing break from the hustle and bustle of every day life. To relax uninterrupted with a book sounds like a true luxury. How nice to learn that it is also beneficial for our brains!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October SCBWI Houston Book Reports

Hello everyone!

I hope that y'all are doing well. We had an informative and hands-on meeting with speaker Elizabeth White-Olsen from Writespace Houston. They offer a range of writing classes at affordable prices. I've taken two so far and enjoyed them both. Check out their website for more details.

Here are this month's recommended reading titles from our Houston SCBWI meeting.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca. (PB)
Schwartz & Wade ISBN 9780375858888

The 14th Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm (MG)
Random House Books for Young Readers ISBN 9780375870644

Screaming at the Ump by Audrey Vernick (MG)
Clarion Books ISBN 9780544252080


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Hello everyone!

I'm honored that the lovely and talented Melissa Buron asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Melissa was one of wonderful writers who participated in the Summer Reading and Writing challenge. She is a busy lady! You can check out her writing process blog hop post at Now - onto my answers:

What am I working on?
I am currently focusing on a middle grade novel. I also have several picture books that are works-in-progress that I revisit frequently (usually when I’m stuck on the middle grade novel!).

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I really, really love dialogue. That’s my favorite thing to write. So a lot of my manuscripts, even my picture books, are dialogue-driven. I especially love books with dialogue directly aimed at the reader. It’s something that I’m working on currently with one of my picture books. It’s so much fun!

Why do I write what I do?
I like to challenge myself with different formats. Sometimes I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing - because it’s definitely challenging! So a project often comes to mind because I enjoy books with a certain style of writing, and wonder if I can pull it off. For example, my current middle grade novel has five first person points of view. I decided to write it that way because I personally like books with several points of view. Have I succeeded with it? I’m not sure. I’ll let you know when I finish! It’s entirely possibly that I’ll end up rewriting the whole thing in third person or from just one character’s point of view, but I wanted to give it a try. Another love of mine is epistolary novels (novels written as letters, or these days, even e-mails back and forth). So I’m thinking my next project will be in an epistolary format - I just have to figure out what the story will be!

For my picture books projects, I may focus on different things - like I want to write a book under 200 words, or with an unreliable narrator, or in rhyme, etc. For me, experimenting with styles is part of the fun of the writing process.

How does my writing process work?

It varies depending on whether it is summer or the school year, but overall the processes are generally the same. I do my best writing if I can get the main chunk of it in as soon as I get the kids off to school or before they wake up in the summer. I try to get in 500 words in that first session. Then, during the day, I’ve really been working on taking advantage of shorter spurts of time as well. I’ve started carrying my laptop and/or a notebook with me all the time to try and squeeze in writing whenever I get a chance. This year I have kids in four different levels of school: college, high school, middle school, and elementary school. As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time at a variety of different activities. So while I’m waiting at cross country, gymnastics, baseball, track, swimming, carpool line, etc. I try to write. Sometimes I feel a little anti-social if there are other parents around who would like to chat, so I try to balance my times of being social with times of hiding in my car to write. I’ve found that I can usually get a surprising amount of progress even in those stolen moments of time.

I usually write at home, but I’m also a big fan of writing at the library. It helps me sometimes to get out, so I don’t feel guilty about the never-ending list of things that need to be done around the house. When I first started writing and the kids didn’t have as many evening activities, I used to go to the library every Monday night to write while my husband took care of the kids. That’s where I really started on my writing journey and wrote my very first picture book manuscripts. I loved that uninterrupted writing time, and was so grateful that my whole family supported my writing efforts. I’d love to add that evening writing time once a week back to my schedule - but we’ll have to see how this school year’s activities and my graduate school classes pan out. I think I’ll probably still be typing away in my car for years to come!

Thanks for joining me! Next on the list is the creative and crafty author Rebecca Nolen. I met Rebecca through SCBWI and really enjoy her company. Here's a little more about her: 

Rebecca Nolen was born and raised in Houston, TX, back when it felt like a small town and Foley's had an animated display windows at Christmas. In childhood, she rode her bike up and down trails and caught horney toads and snakes with her brothers. She developed a love for reading. After reading the Nancy Drew series, she would sneak read Alfred Hitchcock magazine, and horror comics until she discovered Author Conan Doyle and Egdar Allen Poe. In tenth grade she read all of Charles Dickens and Robert B. Costain. Now she usually reads British Murder/Mysteries and suspense and children's books. That love of books naturally created a desire to write. She has two published novels, Deadly Thyme a psychological suspense set in Britain, and The Dry a middle-grade dark historical fantasy.

You can find Rebecca at She should have her Blog Hop post up within the next week, so check back often!