Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Autumn!
Long time, no post.

Why? Busy with life and a new book, too. You can see more about what I'm doing at my new-and-much-improved website

Welcome to the world, TWIGS!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Splashing about new picture books: Two by Nancy Viau and a book giveaway just for you!

Let's celebrate springtime with a book giveaway and personalized signed copy of STORM SONG by Nancy Viau.  
(see adorable book cover in the following blog post)

What do you have to do for a chance to win Nancy's new picture book? It's simple—respond to this blog post by Friday, May 3rd with one word or one sentence describing something you love about spring.  

Example: I love blossoming cherry trees!


It's been a thrill to share my nature picture books at schools as an Author for Earth Day where I met lots of enthusiastic students eager to raise funds to help care for our environment.

I finally have a little reading time and I'm excited to splash about two wonderful new picture books by friend and fellow KidLit Author, Nancy Viau.

Nancy is the author of three nature-inspired books: LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!, STORM SONG, and SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD. She considers the ocean to be one of her best friends.

Here's the splash with author Nancy Viau...

Can you share a favorite beach memory?
I started going to the beach when I was a week old, and so I've saved up decades worth of great memories. I remember one carefree day with a summer friend when she and I rented a canvas raft and decided we would ride every wave together, holding hands. We were tossed about quite a bit, but never once let go until both our feet hit hard sand. Other unforgettable memories involve a favorite beach in Jersey where I not only introduced my babies to the waves, but scattered the ashes of my parents who did the same for me.

If you were an ocean creature, what would you be and why?
I'd be an octopus because octopi are super intelligent and can logically figure out different ways to solve problems. Check out this link from Orion Magazine.

Are seas or oceans part of your new books in any way?
Sadly, no. In LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! there are streams and those streams run into rivers that run into oceans (none of which you see in the book, so ok, that's a stretch). Ladybug published a sweet poem of mine titled "Sea Story," and I'd like to turn that into a picture book at some point. Ask me this question again in ten years?

Would your main characters be adventurous enough to do a deep sea dive?
Nope, but I might.

Taking care of our seas is important to me and the students in my new picture book, THESE SEAS COUNT! What causes are important to you besides writing for children and or young adults?
I am a strong supporter of our national parks. I believe that kids are becoming increasingly unaware of the beauty that surrounds them, and should get out there to hike up a quiet mountain, view a crystal blue lake, or taste the kind of clean snow only available from the highest peaks. The National Park Foundation works to protect these gifts for future generations.

If you could create a spectacular sand sculpture on a beach, what would you build?
I'd build a really elaborate ship by the water's edge. I'd sit on it, wait for the incoming tide, then pretend to "sail" away on the ebb tide.

Share your favorite ocean character from books, film or T.V.
I grew up on Flipper and he made me want to become a marine biologist. But now I'd have to say my favorite is Mr. Krabs from Sponge Bob. He's crusty and driven, but there's a big heart under that old shell.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Splashing about books...Fairy tales, scuba diving, and swimming rats! Oh, my!

The new book splash today is all about a new young adult novel: RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER (Noble Romance) by Gayle C. Krause

Gayle writes across genres from poetry to short stories and picture books to young adult novels, too. Her best-selling picture book, ROCK STAR SANTA, is available from Scholastic Book Clubs, and has sold over 139,000 copies.

Here's the book splash on Gayle C. Krause and her new novel, Ratgirl: Song of the Viper

Can you share a favorite beach memory?
When I was a child, my family visited cousins at Cape Cod. They lived close to the beach and when the parents gathered to reminisce, or do whatever adults do when kids get into something they shouldn’t, I led my sister and my cousins out to sea. Not in a boat or on a boogie board. Oh, no, we walked for what seemed like forever. The blue horizon was ocean and sky, and we kept walking.
Little did we know the tide was out, which made walking the sandbars easy. But, it would eventually come back in. Need I say more? My cousin’s grandmother came searching for us, with her dress hiked above her knees, yelling for us to get back to shore. We weren’t allowed to go to the beach unsupervised after that, but it was a great experience, exploring the fish, shells and life in the tide pools. Almost sounds like it should be a picture book, doesn’t it? J

If you were an ocean creature, what would you be and why?
I’d like to be a bioluminescent creature because they look like diamond dust on a human’s skin at night, and because they live only in tropical waters, so I’d be warm all the time. Some of them are pretty unique and I’d like to think I am, too.

Are seas or oceans part of your new book in any way?
Actually, no. The only body of water mentioned in RATGIRL: Song of the Viper is a toxic river, where Jax, my main character, leads the rats of Metro City to their death, with her hypnotic singing voice. The only problem is rats are good swimmers, and she must risk her life in a boat to lead them across the deadly waters. Halfway across the river, the boat springs a leak. Jax and her companion must think quick, or die like the rats she was commissioned to kill.

Does your main character enjoy, live near, or visit the ocean? 
No, Jax lives in Metro City, a once beautiful, bustling city. Now, with advanced global warming and a tyrant Mayor, who has hoarded all the electricity for himself, it’s a dying city. Jax and the other homeless are forced to live underground, surfacing only at night to barter their goods and services for food.

Would Jax be adventurous enough to do a deep-sea dive?
Jax is a streetwise warrior. She’d do anything to save her friends or her little brother, Andy. This is clearly demonstrated in her story. So, if her brother was held captive under the sea somewhere, I’m sure she’d gather the courage to do a deep-sea dive to rescue him, even if she didn’t know how to swim.
What, you say? Sounds impossible. I told you I was unique. I went scuba diving in the Virgin Islands many years ago, but I didn’t know how to swim. J

Taking care of our seas is important to me and the students in my book, THESE SEAS COUNT! What causes are important to you besides writing for children and young adults?
Insuring that today’s children are aware of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. When I was a teacher I was the first to introduce my high school students to BMI and healthy food choices. I even carried my “healthy choices” mantra to my preschoolers, when I checked their snacks from home. They told their parents I said, “No sugar water and no chips.” Believe it or not, snacks changed after that, to fruit slices, cheese sticks and natural juice or water.

If you could create a spectacular sand sculpture on a beach, what would you build?
A life-sized sandcastle, complete with Rapunzel in one turret and Aurora in the other, bramble covered one. Can you tell I’m a fairy tale enthusiast?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Splashing about books: Vampires and Light

It's easy to find photos of new books to share. It's easy to find photos of authors, too. But it's not often that you find a photo of an author, their new book, reading fans, and VAMPIRE TEETH!

 VAMPIRES and LIGHT (Capstone Stone) is written by one of my lovely and talented critique partners, Jody Jensen Shaffer. Jody has written about a lot of fun subjects, including books about bread and jeans, not to mention books on several celebrities such as Taylor Swift, Lea Michele, Dwayne Johnson, and Hunger Games actors Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (Lerner). Take a look at her fun blog Just Kidding. You'll enjoy Jody's books. No kidding.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Splashing about new books...The Ballad of Jessie Pearl

Happy March! Spring is on the least, we all hope so.
I've been splashing about my new picture book THESE SEAS COUNT! I'll be at a school Read Across America party tonight and at the Picture Book Palooza at WORDS Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ tomorrow.

A lot of new books to splash about in March and I'm starting today with The Ballad of Jessie Pearl by Shannon Hitchcock.

The Ballad of Jessie Pearl

It’s 1922 and Jessie has big plans for her future, but that’s before tuberculosis strikes. Though she has no talent for cooking, cleaning, or nursing, she puts her dreams on hold to help her family. She falls in love for the first time ever, and suddenly what she wants is not so simple anymore.

Here's the splash on Shannon and her new book...

Share a favorite beach memory. 
My big extended family vacationed at Carolina Beach every year when I was growing up. I played in the water all day with my cousins, ate lots of fried seafood, and hit the amusement park every night. It was magical!

If you were an ocean creature what would you be and why? 
A dolphin because they’re social creatures, and have been known to protect human beings from sharks. Sharks creep me out!

Are seas or oceans a part of your new book in any way? 
Yes, my character has never seen the ocean, but she longs to. In one scene, she traces a map of North Carolina with her finger, and wonders about the ocean.

Would Jessie be adventurous enough to do a deep sea dive? Yes, Jessie is an adventurer, but I’m not sure deep sea dives were an option in 1922. I’ll have to look that up!

What causes are important to you besides writing for children and young adults? 
Literacy. I’ve volunteered as a reading tutor for underprivileged children for the past five years.

If you could create a spectacular sand sculpture on a beach what would you build? 
I’m going to cheat on this one. I wouldn’t build anything spectacular. Instead I’d hit the rewind button and spend the day digging a moat and making a regular old castle with my son. He’s nineteen now, and I didn’t appreciate those simple times nearly enough.

Share your favorite ocean character from books, film, or T.V. – Madison, Darryl Hannah’s character from the movie, “Splash.” The young man who took me to see that movie later became my husband. I have fond memories of that night.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


If you've every gone whale watching, you know the thrill of seeing a whale leap from the ocean. Everyone on the boat points and shouts. "Oooh! Aaaah!" You frantically try to capture the photo before it's too late. Most of the time you are just that. I went whale watching while doing research for my book THESE SEAS COUNT! It was a wonderful time on the ocean, but I didn't get an photo of a whale that day.

This stunning three minute video puts you in the water with a humpback whale who swims and spins with the lovely grace and style of a prima ballerina.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Splashing about new books...BLAZE (or love in the time of supervillians)

What's better than getting a new novel you've been excited to read? It's finding your name in the acknowledgements! I'm honored to be mentioned as a writing friend by Laurie Boyle Crompton in her debut novel BLAZE (or love in the time of supervillians) published by Sourcebooks Fire. Laurie's author journey is an inspiration to all aspiring writers—she survived the years of waiting, rejections, and tears to finally sell not one, not two, but three new books in a matter of months. BLAZE has made quite a splash since it launched this month, with good reason. It's a compelling and fun page turner and will make you want to learn more about Laurie Boyle Crompton and her upcoming novels, too.

When she was 17, Laurie Boyle Crompton painted her first car hot pink using 40 cans of spray paint. It dried really drippy but looked great when she was flying down the back roads of Butler, PA where she grew up. She now lives near NYC in Queens, but maintains a secret identity in New Paltz, NY where she and her family can often be found tromping through the forest. 
Here's the splash on Laurie and her new book BLAZE (or love in the time of supervillians)...
When comic-obsessed Blaze stands up to her evil ex he posts a racy picture of her online and a battle of epic proportions ensues. Before she knows it, Zap! Thwack! Pow! Blaze becomes the target of intense bullying. She must learn to channel her inner-superhero if she hopes to gain the ultimate victory; rescuing herself.  

Laurie, can you share a favorite beach memory?

When I was a kid growing up in Pennsylvania, we’d visit family on Long Island every summer and always made it a point to go to Jones Beach. Living so far away from the ocean made it that much more exotic and special. I loved body surfing on the waves as well as adding to my collection of beach glass. Of course my memories of sweltering in the car as we sat for hours in ‘Beach Traffic’ on the Meadowbrook Parkway are just as strong!
 If you were an ocean creature, what would you be and why?  
An octopus. I like to think all those tentacles would make me really good at multi-tasking.
 Are seas or oceans part of your new book in any way?
Only the deep ocean of misery my main character, Blaze, finds herself swimming in. 
 Would Blaze be adventurous enough to do a deep sea dive?
 I think that by the end of the book she absolutely would. In fact, I like to think of her having all sorts of fun adventures after novel ends.

Taking care of our seas is important to me and the students in my new book, THESE SEAS COUNT! What causes are important to you besides writing for children and or young adults?

I am very invested in helping young women build their self esteem. There are so many ways that our culture sends the message to girls that we need to look a certain way in order to be lovable. Advertisements with impossibly skinny models who have been airbrushed beyond recognition. Actors getting plastic surgery in order to adhere to some artificial ‘ideal.’ We need to share the news that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes! Here is a great link to a story about choosing to be a Whale vs. a Mermaid. Actually, I'd like to change my ocean creature answer to Whale please!  

If you could create a spectacular sand sculpture on a beach, what would you build?
Since we’re wishing here I’ll say a life-sized sand castle decorated with shells and seaweed. It might not be lasting, but doesn’t that sound like a lovely place to spend an afternoon reading? The temporary nature of such a structure would only add to the precious time spent inside. 
 Share your favorite ocean character from books, film or T.V. 
Since my main character, Blaze, is obsessed with comics, I’m going to cheat and say Sub-Mariner from the Marvel comics! A good friend of mine just recently pointed out that Sub-Mariner could kick Aquaman’s butt. I heartily agree, but then you weren’t really looking for this to turn into a nerdy comic book character discussion, were you?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peter Brown

Great illustrators inspire authors like me. I'm lucky enough to have Sarah Snow illustrating my books.

Peter Brown's wonderful CREEPY CARROTS! just won a Caldecott Honor yesterday! I'm happy to be a big fan of Peter's books. I love carrots, too, even the creepy ones.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Imagine a world where everyone can read...

World Read Aloud Day: March 6, 2013

Visit to learn more about how you can help words change worlds.

Worldwide at least 793 million people remain illiterate.
Imagine a world where everyone can read...

Monday, January 21, 2013

Never stop dreaming. Thank you, Martin Luther King.

Never stop dreaming...
and doing what you can to help make them come true.
Thank you, Martin Luther King.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Splashing about new books...

Bees love flowers, and I love books! In 2012, I buzzed about new books and authors to celebrate my picture book THESE BEES COUNT! This year my new picture book out in March is all about caring for our seas and oceans: THESE SEAS COUNT! illustrated by Sarah Snow and published by Albert Whitman & Company.

It's January and it may be cold where you live, but it's always nice to spend time at the beach. And it's always time for a great new book, or two, or three... 

Today's splash is all about author Anna Staniszewski and her humorous middle grade fantasy series. Her new book is My Epic Fairy Tale Fail (Book 2 in the My Very Unfairy Tale Life series). Such a fun cover!

The first book in the series is one you don't want to skip. It you haven't read it yet, check out MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.

The splash on the author...Anna Staniszewski was born in Poland and raised in the United States and grew up loving stories in both Polish and English. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a winner of the 2009 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. Currently, Anna lives outside of Boston, Mass. with her husband and their adopted black Labrador, Emma. When she's not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. 

The splash on Anna and her new book, 

Can you share a favorite beach memory?
Last year, my husband and I went on a cruise that stopped in Cozumel, Mexico for a day. We did a tour that brought us to a gorgeous beach where we donned flippers and snorkels and swam right out to a reef. It was amazing to swim through the warmest ocean water I'd ever been in (while our tour guide complained about how cold it was--he'd clearly never been to New England!) and be surrounded by such breathtaking marine life. The afternoon was relaxing and just perfect.

If you were an ocean creature, what would you be and why?
I think I'd like to be a sea anemone, partly because they look like underwater flowers, and partly because "anemone" is such a fun word to say.

Are seas or oceans part of your new book in any way?
Yes! The opening scene of My Epic Fairy Tale Fail takes place on a tiny island, right in the middle of a mermaid battle. The main character, Jenny, finds herself surrounded by angry mermaids who catapult sea sponges and starfish at each other. Here's a tip for you: Stay upwind of mermaids. They smell like a bucket of old fish.

Does your main character enjoy, live near, or visit the ocean? 
I must say that after her encounter with the mermaids, Jenny isn't a huge fan of hanging out near the ocean anymore. 

Would Jenny be adventurous enough to do a deep sea dive?
Absolutely. Jenny is an adventurer which means she goes off on daring missions all the time. If there was a magical crisis deep in the ocean, she'd sigh, make a snarky comment, and dive right in.

Taking care of our seas is important to me and the students in my book, THESE SEAS COUNT! What causes are important to you besides writing for children and or young adults?
I'm kind of a nut when it comes to animals. My family adopted a retired racing greyhound when I was in high school (he was the sweetest creature) and now my husband and I have an adopted black Lab. I know puppies and kittens are adorable, but I wish more people adopted adult animals. They are fantastic pets and really need homes.

If you could create a spectacular sand sculpture on a beach, what would you build?
Well, I'm a total Star Wars nerd, so probably a star destroyer. Maybe a life-sized one. :-)

Time to catch a wave...
Thanks, Anna!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Mumuration of Starlings

I'm not sure how to link to tumblr, but if you love words, you'll enjoy this link and video posted by NPR/Fresh Air.

A murmuration of starlings