Storystorm 2020 Day 25: Bonnie Adamson Shares Pearls of Wisdom

If you want to write and illustrate picture books, read this post!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Bonnie Adamson

Hello, Storystormers! Care to jump into the Way-Back Machine with me? As someone who has participated in every Storystorm/PiBoIdMo challenge since the very first one in 2009, I thought it might be fun to share some Pearls of Wisdom gathered along the way.

In 2009, I had just signed an illustration contract for my fifth book with Raven Tree Press, I was exploring a new(ish) social media platform called “Twitter” where I met the wonderful Tara Lazar, who was already busy making the world a happier place for picture book writer and illustrators. Author/poet Greg Pincus and I had founded #kidlitchat on Twitter over the summer, and I was soooo ready for this picture book idea thing. At the close of the 2009 challenge, I went through each day’s ideas, expanding them into two or three sentence synopses, and developed four of what I judged the best…

View original post 931 more words

Storystorm 2020 Day 21: Joana Pastro’s Senses Search for Prompts

Good advice here for writers, and an interesting answer to the first question non-writers ask.

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Joana Pastro

A few months ago, I was summoned for jury duty. When lawyers went around the room asking questions as part of the selection process, one of them surprised me by asking where I get ideas for my stories. About fifty pairs of eyes stared at me, so I gave my go-to one-word answer: everywhere. I wasn’t lying—I was under oath after all—but when I noticed that all eyes were still on me, I realized they expected more. So I expanded my response with a series of examples that I’m pretty sure sounded like a bunch of mumbo jumbo.

At the end of the day I wasn’t selected for the jury, but I left determined to have a better answer for next time.

So…where do I find ideas for my stories?

Everywhere. Allow me to expand.

All day long we are exposed to an enormous amount of information…

View original post 582 more words

Storystorm 2020 Day 14: Lauren Kerstein Writes What She Would’ve Loved as a Child

So much fun remembering the first books I loved. What were yours?

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Lauren Kerstein

As we ponder new ideas this month, I thought it might be helpful to think about the books we loved as children, as well as imagine the books we wished we’d had. Ideas are lurking in those musings. I just know it!

What books did you love most as a child?

  • Think about the books that changed your life.
  • The stories that resonated with you.
  • The characters who still live in your mind and heart.

Whether you were an avid reader or not, I bet you can remember a book that really mattered to you.

I vividly remember a few books that enriched my childhood life. I remember my third-grade teacher reading The Giving Tree (by Shel Silverstein) and crying. I realized in that moment that books have power.

I also remember the impact Pippi Longstocking had on me as a child. Pippi lived life on her…

View original post 634 more words

Storystorm 2020 Day 12: Kate Garchinsky Plays “I Wonder”

This is a great idea!

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Kate Garchinsky

When Tara asked me to write a blog post for Storystorm, my inner critic threw an immediate tantrum. She, Princess Poopynannyhead, is between six and eleven years old, has the voice of my troublemaking younger sister, and sticks her tongue out a lot. She is prettier than me, always wears the right shoes for her outfit, and she knows and remembers absolutely every criticism I have ever received. Especially those about my writing.

“Advice for writers? Who do you think you are? All you do is draw and color pictures.”

That’s right. I do. I am an illustrator.

I’ve always been a very visual person. I’m learning to write, but images always come easier to me than words. My brainstorms come to life in my sketchbooks. Piles and piles of partially-filled sketchbooks. Would you like to try a little drawing exercise with me?

“But I can’t draw!…

View original post 699 more words

Storystorm 2020 Day 6: Ashley Franklin Takes Inspiration from Rejection

Some great advice here. I’m off to revisit old manuscripts. Are there any in your drawer?

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Ashley Franklin

Rejection is an unavoidable part of a writer’s life. In fact, the more diligently we pursue our writing dreams, the more we increase our chances of being rejected. (Hey, I don’t make the rules.)

Receiving a “no” from your dream agent or editor stings. I want to tell you that it gets easier with time, but I ravenously ate a chocolate bar after receiving a couple of rejections just a few months ago. Once that passed, I had to do something that was actually useful. I took a break. It doesn’t help to think about a rejection while still emotional about it.

What I did next is something that helps me to think of a “no” as a necessary pitstop towards my final destination of a “yes”. Instead of feeling defeated from a “no”, I started looking to it for inspiration to make my manuscript even better.

View original post 393 more words

Storystorm 2020 Day 2: Shutta Crum’s Two Faces of Intention

Writing for Kids (While Raising Them)

by Shutta Crum

Intention: that’s an important word—especially now as we celebrate the month of Janus (the god of beginnings) and when we make our resolutions, or we begin Storystorm month. But, like Janus, intention is a two-faced concept. It makes all the difference in the world—and, ultimately, none. Let me explain . . .

It’s a necessary word when I ask myself, what do I intend to get accomplished today—in addition to my picture book idea for Storystorm? When I write, intention is critical. Crafting characters, I need to know what each one’s intentions are so I can intertwine them and build the overall structure of the story, scene by scene. But how do you get a grasp on fictional character intentions? Well . . . first, you start off simply assigning what seems like the obvious intention for that character based on the his/her background and a…

View original post 758 more words

New Lives in Familiar Waters: Releasing Razorback Chubs at James M. Robb Fruita State Park

Getting ready for a morning walk last week, I reached for my camera. Changed my mind. Same old route. I already had too many shots of the river, lakes, and cliffs.


Okay, you’re ahead of me.

As usual, my husband and I drove out  James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. We headed to the boat launch ramp. It’s fun to watch rafters inflate their craft, then load them with coolers, tents, kids, and dogs for a canyon float down to Loma or farther to Westwater, Utah.

Today there were no rafters. Instead, as we watched, a white truck carrying a rectangular tank backed toward the murky water. One of three men in wildlife management uniforms attached a large pipe to the back of the tank.


“Are they putting fish into the RIVER?” That was my husband saying aloud what I was thinking. We’d seen similar crews stock lakes before, never the Colorado River. It didn’t seem to make sense.


That was just what the guys were doing though. In no time, a stream of fish-speckled water arched out the tank into the river.


Through a shouted conversation, I learned this was a restoration effort. The fish were razorback chubs (suckers). Native to the Colorado, these once-common critters measure up to three feet long. They can live for decades.


This batch had been raised at a hatchery near Horsethief Canyon on the other side of the river. The “little guys” were about a year and a half old. Though several studies are underway to find out how many chubs make it to adulthood, nobody’s sure yet.

Luckily, my husband had his camera. I learned a lesson. Nothing is common or usual. You never know what you’ll see.

For us, it was a batch of now-rare native fish starting new lives in familiar waters.

(Photos by Alden A. Armstrong copyright September 23, 2019,  Used by permission.)


A Shaky Reading

On Sunday afternoon I went to a poetry reading. When I stood up to do my thing, Both my voice and knees began to shake.

What was going on? I performed as a storyteller every day in the school library for seven years. Then I remembered. That was thirty years, almost a lifetime, ago.

We all live so many lives. (I know if I walked up to my younger self, I’d scare the pants off her.)

The poem I botched on Sunday was from a sequence of dramatic monologues I wrote when we were living in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Yes, LA does have distinct neighborhoods. I’ll tell you more about them another time.)

I composed the piece in the late eighties or early nineties for a group of actors who teamed up with the Arroyo Arts Collective to do cold readings of local authors’ poems, short stories, and novel excerpts. The title was “The Marriage Bed.”

Mostly invented, the sequence drew on things that happened even earlier in my life, in the mid-sixties.

I was nineteen. I’d just run away and married my husband, a guy I’d dated a month.

On our first morning together the phone rang. One of my husband’s friends, Jim Ashley, lived in Ouray, a tiny nineteenth-century mining town in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. He worked for the Idorado Mine, the village’s economic engine.

The afternoon before, Jim had stepped on a rotten board just inside the mine entrance and plummeted down through a dark vertical tunnel all the way from the Red Mountain entrance to the Telluride entrance, hundreds of feet.

I didn’t know Jim, but that secondhand experience drilled itself into my mind. Every so often I fall into it, just as I did on Sunday.

There was one more layer to my shaky reading. After its first, last, and only cold performance by the Arroyo Arts Collective players, “The Marriage Bed” disappeared into my files. I made a few half-hearted attempts to send it out, but knew it was destined to be one of those things I did just for myself. (There are a LOT of those.)

Then I saw a call for an anthology in Coda (which later became Poets and Writers.) It was for ghost poems. The voice in one of the monologues in The Marriage Bed, “Frank,” was a ghost, the long-dead father of the husband in the story.   I sent it.

It was accepted. I’d forgotten about the book, Ghost of a Chance,  until Sunday. Looking at it, I was amazed. There I was, hired-gun ed writer, with Rita Dove, Billy Collins, and others famous for their poetry.

Then I remembered, huddling in the back seat of my dad’s ’41 Chevy, playing with the sounds of words. I must have been two or three.

We live so many lives. So many layered lives. Sharing them with others can be a shaky experience, but we only have the stage for a few minutes, so why not?




July 2017 Contest Roundup — Sub It Club

It’s summer, at least in my neck of the woods. Summer is always so busy it seems. My kids are all home (and two of them have full-time summer jobs!) The Summer Reading Program is in full swing at the library where I work and there are tons of programs happening which I get to participate […]

via July 2017 Contest Roundup — Sub It Club

The Pig Poet: David Lee and his Poetry

I met Mr. Lee at a Desert Writers Workshop held at the Pack Creek Ranch in Moab, Utah. His seminar was amazing, and I gave him one of my paintings (an early primitive figurative, of cyclists, I think).  If you get a chance to hear one of his readings, don’t miss it.

Source: The Pig Poet: David Lee and his Poetry