Living with a children's author isn't as easy as it looks!

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Work in Progress

Around my neighborhood, there are a few works in progress. This vine is definitely a work in progress – trying to grow something. Mom says, “Maybe pumpkins.” I hope not. *shiver* Either way, the flowers are there, but it looks like it needs another year (or ten) before anything will pop out to scare the daylights out of me.


This pile of …. I don’t know what – is another work in progress. Sometimes it seems like road salt, but sometimes, it looks like mulch. I guess it’ll make up its mind eventually.


When Mom was a teacher, she used to stamp her kids’ first drafts with a rubber stamp that read, “Under Construction.”

under construction

The kids thought it was fun. Plus that stamp told them to work on revising and proofreading their stories for a little while longer so they would be ready to hang on the bulletin board.

This month, Mom is studying in Susanna Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic class.

pb magic

Her new story is a work in progress and is under construction in a big way. Every morning, Susanna teaches Mom what to do next in order to have a finished story by the end of the month. Mom does each step and then posts it to their Facebook page so her classmates can see it and talk about it with her. She thinks it’s fun to have a work in progress that moves closer to completion every day.

Something else is a work in progress at our house. A whole box of orange snowball cakes.


Mom is trying hard to eat them all herself. I offered to help, but she said, “No thanks.” and “Dogs can’t eat chocolate.”


and “Your behavior is DEFINITELY under construction.”



Inspirational Quote of the Week

There is no dishonor in losing the race. There is only dishonor in not racing because you are afraid to lose.

~Garth Stein~

Writers cannot be afraid to lose. Rejection is part of the game plan. Rejections happen so that a writer’s work can improve. Rejections are also the path to finding the right home for a piece of writing. Rejection = wrong home. Acceptance = right home. (That goes for shelter dogs too! Just sayin’.)

My first day at my forever home.

My first day at my forever home.

Mom is not afraid. I mean, yes – she’s afraid of bugs. And spiders. And the dark. And germs. And Chinese restaurants (long story). And earthworms (don’t ask). But when it comes to being an author, NOTHING scares her.

Last week, she did a different kind of author visit. She was a guest at Disability Awareness Day. She talked to over 200 kids – a group at a time – at her table.


They also touched the pages of Mom’s book in Braille, typed their names into the iPad to see how they look in Braille, solved puzzles, tested their sense of touch with the objects in Mom’s Touch Box , and walked with their eyes closed using the cane to feel their way around.

Type your name at Braillebug.

Type your name at BrailleBug.

Mom signed books for a bunch of kids, teachers, and parents.


It was a LOT of fun. Plus a LOT of talking, so Mom needed some tea with honey and a few gingersnaps when she got home. And yes – she shared a gingersnap with me!


Last month, Mom tried to take me hiking. Talk about a losing proposition. The trail we tried was icy, muddy, overgrown, and STEEP. But did that scare us away? ….Yes!


…But not for long. Today we tried again – on a different trail.

log dog

It was sunny, well-marked, flat, clear, and wide. We didn’t win any races, but we are in the game. And not afraid to lose.

Hitchhiker butterfly - also in the game....

GAH! Hitchhiker butterfly – also in the game….

Old and New

Mom bought me something new.


It’s an IQ toy that helps me be smart. I learned all my old IQ toys…

…so now I am studying my new one. It has blocks, a spinning layer, and TREATS hidden inside. Sometimes new things are better than old things.

Sometimes they’re not! My old snowman used to look like this.

Awesome snowman!

Awesome snowman!

Then he looked like this.

Less awesome snowman.

Less awesome snowman.

And now he looks like this.

Wait. What?

Worst. Snowman. Ever.

The new snowman has no rock buttons (that looked like cookies), no stick arms with twig hands, and no carrot nose. He’s barely a snowman at all.

These days, Mom is working on some old stories…



.. and some new stories.



She writes her new story for a while, then she yanks out an old story and punches it. I mean punches it up. She adds in some new things, takes out some old things, and moves some things around.


That’s called punching. ….Up. It makes old things new and new things old – till they get punched up too.

Mom says, “What was I thinking?” and “This sounds SO much better.” and “GAH! Toy squirrels are everywhere!”



Inspirational Quote of the Week

Start before you’re ready.

~Steven Pressfield~

When you’re an author, getting started can be tough. Blank screen. Blank mind. Blank look in your eyes.

Wait. What?

Wait. What?

Blankness happens to me a lot. It also happens to Mom when she’s starting a new story. She’s never REALLY ready to write. So she has to take Steven Pressfield’s advice and start anyway. She doesn’t start at the computer, though. She starts in her head. Mom always lets ideas sit up there inside her brain for a while before she starts something new. Mind-writing.


She mind-writes while we’re walking,


while we’re cuddling,


while we’re decorating,


and she even did some mind-writing while we visited Santa.

cupcake with santa 2014

Mom says, “It’s not about how you start.” and “It’s not about when you start.” and “All that matters is that you start….and finish.”

the end

And I say, “Maybe we can just mind-write a little more…”

bed (2)


Mom went to a school visit last week to share her book with some 5th graders.

book cover w border2

They were a wonderful audience and asked lots of fun questions. They are also writers and are working on writing their very own pictures books! Mom wasn’t too surprised by this because their teacher used to be one of Mom’s students, way back when Mom was a teacher. She was a smart little girl and lots of fun. Now she is a smart 5th grade teacher and still lots of fun. Here she is when she was little – she’s the one in the pink dress standing right next to Mom.


In fact – when that 5th grade teacher was in Mom’s class, she brought a praying mantis egg case to school for show and tell and it opened up and released tons of praying mantis babies all over Mom’s classroom! And THAT’S what Mom wrote about in Humpty Dumpty Magazine this month in her story called Show and Tell Surprise.


She shared that story with the 5th graders and gave them a copy of the magazine to keep in their classroom.

Joan and me

Mom loves sharing. Sometimes she shares with me. We share the big chair in the living room,


we share the bed,


she shares her coffee,


and her car.


And if I beg hard enough, sometimes she shares her food with me.


On Monday, Mom will share ME with the 5th graders! Yes, it’s true. They invited me to come along for the ride when Mom goes back to visit them and deliver some books. Road trip!


Five Word Friday

Today’s five words are about the dark.

1. Fall. Now that it’s fall, it stays dark for a long time in the morning. That means it’s slow-starting around here. The longer it takes to get showered and dressed and get finished with “writing time” the longer I’m waiting around to do something fun.

2. Fall. Now that it’s fall, it gets dark really early. That means when we go outside after dinner, we only stay for 2 minutes. That’s absolutely NO fun.

3. Monsters. There could be monsters out there in the dark. Mom is not afraid of monsters, but I am! She writes about them sometimes, so she can make them nice or mean or scary or friendly. I guess if I could dream up my own monsters like she does, I would not be so afraid.

4. Dark thinking. Sometimes a writer might have some dark thinking. Dark thinking is: “I’m completely out of good ideas.” and “I can never cut an extra 300 words from this story.” and “Book Number Two will never happen.” Dark thinking is bad. If Mom starts to do it, I will always cheer her up.

5. Light! We are lit up over some awards we received lately. Thanks to our friends at Bumpy Road to Bubba for the Addictive Blog Award, to Collies of the Meadow for the One Lovely Blog, and Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, and to AngelsWhisper  and Come Wag Along for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. 

You can see our Addictive Blog reasons for blogging here

To be a Wonderful Team Member, I must complete this sentence: A great reader is…

I think a great reader is someone who laughs at the right times, says, “Awwww,” at the right times, and thinks I’m cute. 

Now I will take the lazy way out, and list a few of the new, fun blogs that I’ve been visiting, and invite ALL of my blog friends to feel free to take any badge/award that you don’t already have and share it.


iPhone Photoblogging


What I Meant to Say


Our Furever Family

Inspirational Quote of the Week

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

—G. K. Chesterton 

Dragons are scary. I wish I had a stuffed dragon, so I could destroy him. That would teach scary things (like soccer players and  ladders) not to mess with me. 

Mom has never written a story about a dragon. She has written fairy tales and stories and poems with monsters, but no dragons.  Whew. 

In most of Mom’s stories, there’s a problem. Her characters try to solve the problem, and after trying a few times, they do! Mom says, “It’s good to solve problems.” and “Kids should know that problems have solutions.” and “Did you rip the tail off your stuffed bunny?” 

Mom’s characters always solve their own problems. That’s how it has to be. Parents and teachers are not allowed to help. I can NEVER solve my own problems. Once I got stuck behind the big chair, and I just stayed there till Mom noticed. She moved the chair and got me out.

Here I am being a problem solver, with a LITTLE help from Mom. Problem Solver Video 

Countdown Wednesday

Is it Wednesday, already? Nope. But I’m counting down anyway.  Here goes!

 My 3 favorite toys.

3. My new two-face toy. It’s a cow on one side and a pig on the other. Two faces to bite, shake, and love.

2. A stuffed, cloth stick. I’m not allowed to pick up real branches (or goose poop or chicken bones) outside , so the stuffed stick is the next best thing.

1. The hard ball I found in the baseball field. Mom bleached it, scrubbed it with Brillo, and soaked it in hot water. It doesn’t LOOK clean, but trust me – it is. Sometimes I think I can still taste the Brillo.

I don’t want to leave Mom out, so she will count down for Countdown Wednesday, too. 

Mom’s 3 favorite books

3. Trumpet of the Swan. Mom read it to her class every year for a looong time. It’s full of surprises and there’s a lot to learn in there, too.

2. All About Sam. Mom read this to her classes, too.  She loved making funny baby voices when Sam talked.

1. Keep Your Ear on the Ball. MOM WROTE IT! It was her first book ever to be published. She loves reading it and talking about it whenever she visits a school.

Fairy Tale

It’s the royal wedding today.  Mom has been glued to the TV all morning.  When we went for our walk, she said, “Hurry up — I’m missing it.” and “We’re not out here sightseeing.”  Really?  Because usually I AM out there sightseeing! 

The wedding is like a fairy tale dream come true.  Princes, princesses, palaces, parades, and parties.  Personally, I prefer treats, toys, tummy tickling, and taking a walk.  That’s a dream come true for me.

Mom wrote a fairy tale once.  It’s called The Monster and Princess Kaitlyn.  She hopes it gets published someday soon. Here’s how it starts…

           Once upon a time, there was a princess named Kaitlyn.  She lived in a palace with 500 rooms; 200 servants; her mom, the queen; her dad, the king; a cat named Butterbean; and a monster that lived under her bed.

            Sometimes, late at night, the monster crawled out and got into mischief.  One night, the monster ate coconut cookies from the royal cookie jar, she pulled Butterbean’s royal tail, and she played with Kaitlyn’s toys and didn’t even put them back into the royal toy box.  The king and queen awoke to find coconut cookie crumbs all over the kitchen, blocks, dolls, trucks, and teddy bears all over the playroom, and a freaked-out cat on top of the royal refrigerator. 

Mom says when her fairy tale gets published, she will go to schools for author visits and wear a tiara.  I guess she thinks that will be fun.  Newsflash — It’s NOT fun for me!


I know — Today is not Tuesday.  It’s Wednesday.  But Mom took my picture on Tuesday, so that should count for something!  I think I look adorable by the tulips at the park.  Mom said it was lucky we took the picture BEFORE I walked around in the mud. All the tulips in the world wouldn’t make me look cute after that!

I thought it was lucky that we went to the park at all.  Mom has been busy working hard on one of her stories.  She went to a writing conference and then met with her critique partner, so she has a lot to think about.   Sometimes she ignores me because of too much thinking.  Then, I get bored.  I can make her stop thinking when I bark out the window at the dog across the street, and she has to stop thinking when I fall asleep on the remote control and TV channels start changing themselves.  She says, “Can’t you be good?” and “I’m trying to revise, here.”

When she says that, I run to the cookie jar and wait for a treat.  I don’t know what revising means, but in case it means a MilkBone, I want to be ready.