Cover Reveal! A BEAR’S YEAR

I’m so happy to be able to show you the beautiful cover for my upcoming book, A BEAR’S YEAR, which will be published by Schwartz & Wade in October.


Gerry Turley’s illustrations are perfect for this story of a mother bear and her cubs’ adventures through the seasons.

Here is the publisher’s description:

Deep in her den under a snowflake blanket, Mama snuggles her newborn babies. When spring arrives, the bears awaken and emerge from their lair, and as the weather warms to summer, Mama teaches her young ones to fish, gather berries, and dig for roots. Then, in fall, the leaves turn gold, food grows scarce, and the family prepares for hibernation and the coming winter.

With spare, accessible text and charming illustrations, here is a sweet, gentle introduction to how bears experience the changing seasons, perfect for the youngest readers and listeners

I can’t wait to hold this book in my hands and share it with you!

Happy 2015!

My 2015 is getting off to an exciting start!  I hope yours is off to a great start, too.

First some good news: I’ve received the long anticipated final art for A BEAR’S YEAR. The illustrations by Gerry Turley are perfect for this story of the seasons in the life of a bear family. The soft palette captures the feel of  changing seasons beautifully, and the scenes alternate between vast landscapes and intimate scenes of mama and her cubs. Thanks, Gerry! I can’t wait to hold this book in my hands.

I also want to thank my editor, Lee Wade at Schwartz and Wade for masterfully pulling all the pieces together for this beautiful book. And of course, many thanks to my super agent Erin Murphy, for making it happen.

Now comes the preparation for this book’s launch in October— the perfect time for a story that starts in the dead of winter.

On April 18-19, I will be at Houston’s SCBWI Conference. Guest speakers will include author-illustrator Kelly Light; art director Isabel Warren-Lynch executive editor at Random House Children’s Books; agents Susan Hawk at the Bent Agency, Molly Jaffa at Folio Literary Management, and John M Cusick with Greenhouse Literary; and editors Wendy Loggia, Executive Editor at Delacorte Press, and Annie Berger at Simon & Schuster. They will offer critiques and portfolio reviews.

Local author Kimberly Morris, Sherry Garland, Crystal Allen, Joy Preble, Anna Maria Rodriguez,and myself will also offer critiques.

Check here for more information about submission guidelines.

I will also be giving another picture book workshop at Writespace Houston on April 25.  Make It Shine is hands-on— we  will focus on revision of completed picture book drafts to ready them for submission. Writespace is heading into 2015 with a great line-up of workshops for writers of children’s and adult lit. Click here for more information.

All this and some upcoming Skype visits are in my future. Last year I started delving into doing Skype visits and found I love them! I do 15-20 minute free Q&A visits for classes or groups that have read at least one of my books. Kid ask me questions.  I can do this from my home. It’s great. I do get out of my pjs and wear regular clothes, however.

I’m looking forward to this year. May it be good to us all!




Writespace Fall Workshops

I’m excited to be teaching another picture book revision workshop at Houston’s Writespace on November 1. For more information about this class and the other classes being offered this fall check out Writespace’s website here There is a great selection of topics to help you polish your craft.

Writespace’s director, Elizabeth White, has recently been interviewed by NPR and Front Porch journal Writespace is also collaborating with other literary organizations including Houston Writers Guild, the Writers League of Texas, Nanowrimo, and Blue Willow Books.

These are exciting times for Houston’s new writing center!

I hope you are enjoying this beautiful fall weather! Happy reading and writing!




WriteSpace Comes to Houston!



I’m very excited to be part of WriteSpace a brand new organization in Houston to nourish and support writers and their work. Summer workshops are getting underway soon! Over 15 workshops are being offered this summer for novelists, poets, children’s writers, and teen writers. Writing space is also available for those who’d like a place to work in away from the distractions of home. You can find a spot to work on your own, or in the company of other writers.

What else could you want? Maybe editorial services and consulting? That’s available, too.

If picture books are your thing, I’ll be offering “Make It Shine: Polishing Your Picture Book Manuscript to It’s Full Potential” on July 19. If you have a picture book manuscript to revise before submitting, we’ll spend the day getting it ready.

WriteSpace is located in the Silver Street Studios in the Houston warehouse district at 2000A Edwards Street, Houston, 77007. A place surrounded by artists studios, WriteSpace is an inspirational place for working and hanging out with other writers.

Here are maps of the location and more pictures of this lovely space.

WriteSpace promises to be a great resource for Houston writers!

Let’s Skype!

I LOVE Skyping with schools! What a great way to for authors and readers to connect.

For classes and groups that have read my books, I do free twenty-minute question and answer sessions. I can go anywhere, anytime! It’s so much fun to visit a classroom clear across the country in the blink of an eye. I’m intrigued and enlightened by the questions students ask about my books and the writing process.

Please contact me if you’d like a visit.

Why not have several authors visit your class? Here’s a list of other authors who are Skyping.

Hope to see you soon! 🙂

Icing On The Cake

I love visiting schools!

I’ve had great visits these last two weeks to Duchesne Academy and Bunker Hill Elementary in Houston.

I’ve been showing students this picture of myself taken on my recent vacation which included this stop in the Kasbah in Tangiers. I’m terrified of snakes and discussed this as an example of trying something you think you might not like. (Within reason, of course. The guy with me is a snake charmer and that snake is pretty tame.)


I related this to how I became a writer. As art teacher, I’d always identified myself an artist and never had any idea that I’d become a writer, until I took a course in writing at a university near my home. You say you don’t like broccoli? How can you know, if you never try it? Who knows, it might turn out to be one of your favorite foods.

it was certainly a joy to discover writing when I did, and sharing my writing in schools is icing on the cake!





Another wonderful thing about being an author is the opportunity to meet librarians, who love books and instilling that love in their students. It was a delight meeting Tammy Holley, librarian at Bunker Hill Elementary, as well as Rebecca Howard the PTA volunteer who helped her put this event together. Yay, PTA!

I also enjoyed meeting Katie Turner and Megan Woods, hard-working lower school librarians at Duchesne. The Duchesne Book Fair the next day was hosted by Georgette Radford at Barnes and Noble in Town and Country, who also served as judge for the tin foil hat contest.


Yes, we children’s writers definitely are able to have our cake and eat it, too!



Great support makes all the difference!

When I did a story time to read TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ at the BookPeople in Austin in August, I was fortunate to have the support of my husband and some wonderful writers from Austin, including Cynthia Leitich Smith.

I’m honored that Cynthia has posted a blog on Cynsations using my story time as a case study for a successful story time:

For me, the most important thing that makes an event successful, is the support from other writers, family, and friends. That’s definitely what makes it fun!

I want to thank again all the Austin writers who showed up to hear TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ, and thank you Cynthia for getting the word out!




Hurrah for Bookstores and Libraries!

What do you think about the idea that libraries and bookstores are becoming obsolete?

This week I witnessed first hand a bit of what the world would lose if we didn’t have them. I was out and about doing story times at the Hillendahl Library and Katy Budget Books in Houston, and meeting some great kids, parents, grandparents, librarians, and booksellers. As I read TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ, kids offered opinions about what was coming down on Willie’s farm, why it was coming, and whether a cowboy boot would taste good with bbq sauce. Their enthusiasm was contagious. I got downright giddy hearing kids holler yippie ki yo and sing the TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ song. Where else on earth is a thing like that going to happen?

These kids come together every week to hear stories, sing, dance, do art, and play musical instruments together. They are learning to love books in places where they can share their thoughts about stories with other kids, as well as choose books they want to read that they can see, touch, and smell. What better groundwork  for learning about books?

These are experiences you can’t buy with one click, so support your libraries and bookstores so that we won’t lose the community we experience there.

Check out these beautiful 16 Libraries to See Before You Die:

Here are some of the kids I saw this week that now realize the importance of having aluminum foil hats:

Last Import - 4

Last Import - 3It’s never to soon to start loving books! (Even though you might not want to wear hats yet)

Last Import - 5 In spite of all our hat  making, one sneaky alien did manage to crash the party!

Storytime Rocks!

One of the perks of being a children’s author is having the opportunity to read to kids.

I just got back from the Austin/San Antonio area where I did story times at two wonderful independent bookstores. First I visited The Twig in San Antonio whose talented story teller, Anastasia McKenna, draws in dozens of kids each week.

I waited for the crowd. Was anyone going to come?


_MG_4006Someone else waited, too.

_MG_4007Here’s Miss Anastasia showing me the ropes.

They came. In droves. Kids love Miss Anastasia’s story times.

After I read TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ, I couldn’t let the kids leave without protection from the aliens. Soon the place was awash in tin foil and out of this world hats!


Here is a sampling of the amazing hats:





The next day I headed over to the BookPeople in Austin which has an knock-your-socks-off children’s section and wonderful Saturday story times.



_MG_4043Afterwards even some grown-ups made hats!

Austin has an incredible writing community. So much talent concentrated in one place. Is it the water, or what? (I drank a lot of it, just in case.) I was delighted that some of these talented writers and friends came to my story time!

_MG_4035Greg Leitich Smith, Cynthia Levinson, Susan Holt Kralovansky, Cynthia Leitich Smith, and me


_MG_4044Susan Holt Kralovansky, Cynthia Levinson, me, Donna Bratton, Carmen Oliver, Lindsey Lane

(Cory Oakes Putnam was off somewhere making foil hats for her two adorable children.)

After the kids departed, the tin foil was cleaned up, and we all said goodbye. Glen (my husband and photographer) and I enjoyed the warm Texas afternoon on South Congress.







Summer Fun

This has been a busy summer so far. My husband and I have visited  a friend in Austin several times who is recovering from a serious case of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I’m taking ticks a lot more seriously now. We all should.

I’m trying to “beef up” my BBQ repetoire, so on one visit we ate at Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood for the first time. It’s found a place at the top of my favorite BBQ places. I love the indoor BBQ pit!

In June, I attended my agent’s annual retreat for her clients, this year at Big Sky Montana. It was wonderful seeing so many good friends I only see once a year. I thought I’d win the Ugly Sweater Contest, but I underestimated how ugly a sweater can be.

IMG_1255                                          Donna Bratton had one B—Ugly Sweater.Horrendous!  And Kari Anne Holt’s was a sweater only a cat could love. (Those Austin writers really “get” ugly).

IMG_1262                                        Here I am in my Betty Boop sweater – way too cute for ugly – and Pat Zietlow Miller in her “interesting” sweater. If we look exceedingly happy, it’s because Pat learned that her upcoming picture book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH received it’s third starred review!



Hands down, this guy’s sweater was the ugliest I saw the whole time. (I don’t like the way he’s looking at me . Did I get a little too close to take this picture?)

The world can be a crazy place. One day I was out walking in snow flurries at Big Sky, then a few days later I was sweltering in 108 degrees in Austin.

The summer’s only half over, and several TAKE ME TO YOUR BBQ events are coming up.

On July 6, I’ll be at the Brazos Bookstore in Houston  at 11:30 am for a special story time. Can’t wait to see those kids yippee-ki-yo’in in tin foil hats!

On July 19, I’ll be in San Antonio at the Twig Bookshop at 10:30 for more knee-slappin’ fun.

Then on July 20, I’ll be at the BookPeople in Austin at 11:30. Yippie-ki-YAY

After that, I’ll probably need to replenish my stock of aluminum foil.