The Boy Who Loved Maps

My debut picture book was announced yesterday! It feels like a dream typing this out. When they say publishing is full of secrets and waiting, they aren’t kidding! I’ve waited almost a year to be able to shout this from every rooftop and mountain peak.

I am beyond grateful to my editor Anne Schwartz and agent Erszi Deak for making this happen.

There is going to be a book in a bookstore someday with my words in it.

There’s so much I could share, but I’ll save it for a different post. I am feeling enormous amounts of gratitude towards everyone in the kidlit community and to my family and friends. I am in the best most surreal dream right now!

 

 

 

 

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The Publisher’s Weekly announcement. 

 

 

Eek! That’s my picture up there!

Eek! That’s my picture up there!

NESCBWI 2019

When the snow has finally melted and the boots have been put away and the snow pants have been washed and stored, it’s time for one of my favorite weekends of the year. 

 

It means it’s time to pack my suitcase and my extra bag for books and drive the 2 hours south. 

 

It’s time to sit and listen and learn. It’s time to tear up when someone touches my heart with a message about writing or books or this journey. 

 

It’s time to learn from others, to connect with other writers and creators. It’s time to remember what it was like when all of this was new and I had so many many many questions. 

 

It’s time to connect to the writer side of me. The side that thinks in picture book design and double page spreads. It’s time to sit in a room where more than 500 other people want to make books like I do. That want to put stories in the hands of kids. The time won’t pass quickly enough between now and then. I can’t wait. 

 

 

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Writing Photos-Caption Version

I had my students write captions for photos the other day and wanted to try to do the same with this bunch of photos. What captions could you write? Can they spark a story idea? 

swimming with sea turtles is as magical as it sounds. 

swimming with sea turtles is as magical as it sounds. 

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“how close is too close?” wondered the paddle boarders as the whale leapt out of the water. 

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at dusk, the palm trees caught a glimpse of themselves in the mirror.  

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silhouetted against the sunrise, people tried to capture an uncaptureable moment. 

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the rooster eyed the surfboard, waiting for his moment to catch a wave.  

 

As always, let me know if you use my photos in some way to help with your writing or inspiration! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel

I love being home, surrounded by my books and family and the familiar. But I also love going new places, exploring new places and just being somewhere else. Travel helps us see the world through different eyes, helps us see the beauty in food and people and scenery. The more I think about it, traveling is like reading. We use books to help us connect to other places. I read to go places, places I can’t go by plane or bus. Where do books take you?

 

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Better Late Than Never—A Word for 2019

It’s still January so I think I can post this and still have it count!

Last year my word for the year was “believe”. And that was the word I needed and used for the last two years. This year, while I need to continue to believe (don’t stop…) I think a new word is needed as I step into 2019.  Building off the idea of believing, this year, I need to be more proactive. This year I need to create. Create stories, create time, create organization and possibilities. Therefore, I am heading into the new year focusing on the idea of creation. Do you pick a word for your year? A word to focus on? What’s yours?

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Early Winter Photos

Here is another set of photos to help jumpstart your creativity in the new year! As always would love to hear if any of these help you! 

 

 

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Looking down from its perch.  

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Glowing candle. 

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I love seeing how things are named, trails, crayon colors, nail polishes...

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Wagon ride.  

 

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Light squiggles.  

 

Happy writing!  

Fall Photos

Fall photos has a nice alliterative ring to it. Fall in New England is one of my favorite times of year! Here is a set of fallish photos for you to use as writing prompts or inspiration. Enjoy! 

 

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There is something about the fall sky.  

 

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Monarch caterpillars get nice and fat here in the fall.  

 

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Fall hikes are the best!  

 

Slight rainbow in the sky.  

Slight rainbow in the sky.  

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No caption needed. 

 

 

 

#pb10for10

I’ve been away from daily classroom life for awhile now. But in the fall, all that changes as I slowly dip my toes back into teaching through a maternity leave sub position. I can’t tell you how excited I am. Every time I entered into a bookstore and browse, I thought about how I could use these books in a classroom with kids. I have bought many a title with the disclaimer “when I go back, I’ll use this.” So without further ado, my picture book ten for ten are the 10 books I am bringing into the classroom with me to use the first week of school! My first ten read alouds! 

 

#1

 

 

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I want to use this book by Stacy Mcanulty to have students start to write about themselves! 

 

#2

 

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This book, aside from being funny and delightful, will be used to start thinking about what kind of classroom community we want to create. 

#3

 

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Piggybacking off of my number 2 book, this title will help continue the conversation about community and empathy.  

 

#4

I love this quiet simple book, it will help us to learn about each other and our names and where they come from with this story. 

I love this quiet simple book, it will help us to learn about each other and our names and where they come from with this story. 

 #5

 

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I believe in reading out loud every day. I also believe in writing every day. This mentor text will help supper both of those beliefs!  

#6

 

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I like students to think about themselves and all the different roles they take on during the school day, scientists being an important one!

#7

 

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So much we could do with this book. Inflection, punctuation, how to read pictures, how pictures affect how we read a book. I read this to my pre-reading son over vacation and immediately he took it and started to read it out loud on his own, trying out different ways to read the word DUDE!

#8

 

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We all need quiet sometimes. I was able to pick this up early at our local art museum as they have a display of dePaola’s work. It won’t be released until October!! 

#9

 

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I love this book to start exploring other places besides the one we live in. Books connect us to others and this one is an excellent example of how to do that. 

#10

 

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I read this one to the class already when they had a Move Up day in the spring. They’ve already heard it. But the power of rereading is magical. I can’t wait to see what they notice about this text this time around.  

 

 

Thanks for checking out my first ten read alouds! Counting down to the first day of school.  

Lazy Hazy Days

It’s been a awhile since I’ve done one of these! Here is some summer photo inspiration for you! Maybe it will help kickstart your WIP. 

 

 

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Something to keep you afloat.  

 

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Ancient animal with stories to tell. 

 

Potential.  

Potential.  

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Ocean vibes.  

 

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Washed ashore.  

 

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Mournful calls. 

 

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Magical wings. 

 

 

As always, happy writing! And if you use any of these photos to help your writing process let me know!  

Early Summer Photos

The weather here has finally turned and is starting to make this past winter fade into a pleasant memory so that when snow falls again in November we will be excited.  

 

As summer rolls in, it’s important for me to stay focused on my writing. Here are some picture prompts to get you going if you need a kickstart! 

 

 

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No Diving!

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Busy working. 

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Possibly my favorite picture I’ve taken recently. So many caption options... 

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Farmers’ Market. 

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Beached canoe.  

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Capturing sunlight.  

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Peck. Peck. Peck. 

 

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Balloons!

 

Happy writing!!!  

Spring Photo Prompts

A little bit of spring for you to use as writing prompts or inspiration! On our spring break I was finally able to enjoy a little sunshine and warm weather, something we’ve been lacking here in New Hampshire. 

 

 

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Cherry tree flowers #1

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Cherry tree flowers #2

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And #3...I had to edit down the number of white flower tree pictures I shared...they were just so beautiful! 

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Creeping vines with potential. 

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Window and sky.  

 

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Fence openings. 

 

As always, if you use any of these, let me know in the comments! Sometimes when I am stuck, using images can help me jumpstart my writing. 

 

 

 

 

Packing

I’m in the process of getting ready and packing for NESCBWI. I always stress out about make sure I have the right clothes in my suitcase, my writing stuff and my business cards all ready to go. 

 

The New England weather does not seem to be cooperating at all this year as we are on  what seems like our 45th snow day of the year even though it’s the middle of April.  

 

As I pack and repack my suitcase to make sure I have the stuff to navigate the weekend, I think about my first conference and my second conference and my third conference and how with each one, I brought more and more with me. Not just scarves and layers to deal with the ever changing hotel climate, but knowledge and confidence and experience and a community.  I am packing my bags with a lot more than just clothes and shoes. 

 

I can’t wait to learn and connect with other writers and creators this weekend, people who understand this journey.  People who know what it’s like to pack for a conference and know all the other baggage that comes with it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Time

There comes a time in every New England winter where I decide I’m done with winter and don’t care anymore if it’s 30 degrees out. I will Spring to arrive by not wearing my boots and forgoing my coat even if it’s needed. I hunt for signs of spring, piles of snow that seem just a little smaller, listen to birds that appeared overnight and the smell of possibility that seems to permeate the air.

 

Spring in New Hampshire is such a time of newness and beginnings. It reminds me of the blank page. And this idea of starting something new even if the snow hasn’t melted yet and the thermometer is still saying it’s coat weather. Sometimes you just have to pull the ideas out even if they are still hiding in bulky sweaters and snow boots. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Patterns

I am drawn to patterns and repetition whether visually or in text. No wonder I like picture books so much. The subtle (or not so subtle) repeating of a phrase or an image that harkens an earlier use makes me excited every time I see it. Here is a photo prompt set made of repeating things or lots of the same thing in one space...you’ll get the idea!  As always, if any of my photos jumpstart your writing, let me know! 

 

 

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Bells.

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Farmers' Markets are a great place to take photos or to gather inspiration. 

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Carts for days. 

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Giant cookie tray. 

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Warmer Days

Today is one of those yucky days of winter when everything is coated in ice and slush and rain and yuck. It's a snow day, but not the kind where we can go sledding or build a snowman or go exploring in the woods. It's a day for hunkering in under blankets with coffee and tea and dreams of warmer days. Here are some photos that will help you start to dream of sunnier days. What stories do these photos inspire for you?

 

Love this flower.  

Love this flower.  

Driftwood

Driftwood

Tree meets ocean.  

Tree meets ocean.  

Rocky beach.  

Rocky beach.  

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Potential.  

Potential.  

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Summer nights.  

When I'm Not Writing...

I feel guilty when I'm not writing or haven't written in a few days, when life's to-do list gets really long and my notebook sits unopened. I'd love to be one of the people who sits down and writes every day for an hour, but I know that somedays it simply can't happen. I have come to realize though, that even when I'm not writing, I am. Let me explain...

I write in my head constantly, trying out new first lines and ways to phrase things. When I think I have it, I'll scribble it down or more often, open up a new note on my phone.  Oftentimes it hits me when I'm driving that I finally got something the way I want it and I can use the voice commands in the car to keep track of my ideas. Right now, I'm laughing to myself if someone else ever looks at the notes in my phone as they might seem to be the ramblings of a crazy person. 

I listen to writing podcasts while driving or folding laundry or cooking dinner. If you're not already check out, Fuse 8 n' Kate's podcast or Matthew Winner's All the Wonders or Jennifer Laughran's Literaticast or the Yarn with Colby Sharp and Travis Jonker. Hearing authors and illustrators breakdown their process makes me better writer (and teacher). I can multitask and check the things off my to do list and make myself a better writer by learning from the experts. 

I observe. I watch my own children. I pay attention to kids when I'm out and about. When I get the chance to work in classrooms, I notice how kids process and explore. What are they doing? How are they interacting with their world? What phrases did they use that I can steal or that might inspire an idea or character or title? 

I read. I read out loud to my children, letting the words of other writers fill up my soul. I marvel at how others have found the perfect word, the perfect phrase, the perfect image for the emotion they are trying convey. While I focus on writing picture books and early readers, I read books that don't fit into that genre too. I always tell teachers and students that good writing is good writing, it doesn't matter where it's coming from. Reading helps me be a better writer.

I research. If there is a children's section or children's books in a store, I find them. And pause, even if it's just for a moment to see what's out there. I touch the covers of favorites and smile. I flip through a new title I've heard buzz about. I open up books I normally wouldn't be drawn to see what they've done and how they are pushing the boundaries of children's literature. What books is a place like Target carrying? What does my local bookstore have on display? 

I connect. I follow writers and illustrators on Twitter and Instagram. I follow their process and their little insights that are dropped like breadcrumbs through the digital woods. If I'm killing time on the Internet for a few minutes, there are the authors and illustrators in my feeds, subtly giving me things to chew on. 

So even though, when I am not actively writing, I am. And you are too. 

What ways have you found to write when you are not writing? 

 

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Word

A lot of writers and people are posting their words for 2018. I’ve been wearing a word around my wrist for the better part of a year, I also have it as a necklace. It was my word for 2017 and I think I still need it in 2018. Is it okay to have the same word for two years running? I’m going to say it is. Without further ado, here is my mantra as it applies to so many things.  

 

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Believe. Believe in the process. Believe in myself.  Believe in magic and light and love. Belive in words and stories. Believe that the impossible is possible.  

 

Here’s to believing in 2018. (And yes, I am a Journey fan...😊) 

Winter Writing Photos

If you need a jumpstart in the new year, here’s a set of winter photos to use as writing inspiration! As you can see, I’m enamored by snow and how it changes my surroundings. Talk to me in April though when it’s still here, I start to feel a little differently by then.  

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Snow and sunlight.  

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Well on a snowy hill.  

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Snow in the woods. 

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I love perfect flakes.  

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Tracks. 

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White on green.  

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First flakes of the year.  

 

Happy writing in 2018!  

I think in picture books...

I think in picture books, in page turns, thirty-two pages and around fifteen beats. I think in  rules of three and repetition. I pull snippets of dialogue from the air around me to save and hoard for a day when it will fit in just right into a place where I need it. I think in picture books, in wordless double page spreads and endpapers. I think in pacing and predictions and how everything sounds when read aloud.  I think in that final twist, that wink to the reader. I think in bedtime-under-the-cover, surrounded-by-stacks books kind of reading. I think in picture books.  

 

What about you? What do you think in?  

 

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