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. 




Something to keep you afloat.  



Ancient animal with stories to tell. 





Ocean vibes.  



Washed ashore.  



Mournful calls. 



Magical wings. 



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


I went for a hike (and when I say hike, others might consider it a stroll...) behind my house with my son yesterday. He had to pack a backpack full of snacks and water for our excursion. We had to be prepared. When we started, he kept asking for challenges to do and I made up little things, like skipping to the next pole on the path or trying to not step on any of the sunlight that filtered in through the trees.  

We reached the destination I had originally planned on and had our snack. Side note: he had packed an entire box of crackers that only had two crackers left and 1,000 crumbs (next time I should check the snack choices).

"Do you want to go farther?" I ask. "To the very top?"

"No," he emphatically answers.

"What if we we just try a little bit more and then we can turn around if we want?"

"Okay," he agrees.

And we continues into the woods. We noticed the trees and the pinecones and the rocks and the mushrooms. He collected a leaf because it was pink and he told me he had never seen a pink leaf before. We crossed a little bridge and I asked if he thought a troll might be underneath and then realized I had never told him the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. So I told it to him as we walked up the hill.

"Who's that tromping on my bridge?" I growl.

He started to predict the pattern of the story and joined in as I told it. 

"It's the biggest Billy Goat," He says.

We rounded the bend and he looked at me and says,

"I think this hike is too big for me."

"Buddy, you made it," I say. "We are at the top."

We came around the corner and there was the bench overlooking the forest. At that very moment, he fell, tripping over a tree root.

"It's okay," I assure him. We all fall sometimes when hiking. Tears dried we sit on the bench, eat some cracker crumbs and look at the view. 

"It's beautiful Mama," he tells me. "I want to live up here forever."

"Me too," I say.

And then we headed back down the way we came, which seemed shorter and easier and familiar.

All this to say, sometimes when I am writing I don't want to keep going. I want to stop at the first spot because I worked hard to get that first spot and it's good spot. But if you keep going, you might just get to the top and that beautiful view and the way back will be a piece of cake.  

At the top.

At the top.

Syrup Season

I am always looking for ways that real life mirrors the writing process for me. I came across one the other day that is sticking (pun intended) with me. My son is doing a project for school on trees and as part of that project we attempted to make our own maple syrup. Throughout the process, I was reminded of writing over and over again.  


Before you even start you have to identify the right trees. It’s way easier to do this if you identified the trees when it’s summer or fall when you can go by the leaves. Then you tap the trees when the weather starts to shift, when the nights stay cold and the days get warmer so the sap starts to flow. You drill into the tree, deep enough to access the sap but not too deep to damage the tree. After the trees are tapped, you wait as the bucket fills, drip by drip by drip.  Once you’ve collected enough sap, you filter it to get out any large impurities, bugs, dirt etc..


And then you boil. It takes hours. You have to watch it make sure it’s not boiling over. You have to watch it to make sure it doesn’t evaporate completely away. You have to watch it to know when to combine 3 pots down to 2 and then finally down to one. As it boils, the sap changes to become darker, until it’s finally a deep amber. It thickens from the consistency of water to syrup. You have to watch it check the temperature to know the exact moment it changes from sap to syrup. When we were almost done boiling, we kept asking each other. Do you think it’s ready? How do we know it’s ready? Could it be ready? And ultimately, we had to take the risk that it was ready, filter one last time and put it into jars.


When I write, I have to pick the right idea off my list. I can’t just choose any idea, it’s got to be something special. Then I have to let the idea sit until it’s just the right time to start writing, if I start before the idea is formed it won’t work on the page.  My ideas have to be ready so the words can start dripping. Timing is everything.


And then I write word by word by word. It’s slow going. 


It takes a lot of patience.


Writing takes a lot of patience. Revising takes even more patience.  When writing picture books, you have to take a giant idea and distill it down to its essence. Boil down that story to the 400 sweetest most important words.

When I write, I have to filter and boil and boil and filter until I find my story.  My story changes from one big loose fragment of an idea to something where every word matters, it changes into something that has flavor and sweetness and warmth and color.

What was once 5 gallons of sap became a little less than 20 ounces of syrup. It may not look like much, but I bet it’s going to taste awesome on some waffles. 

Filtering and funneling one last time. 

Filtering and funneling one last time. 

5 gallons of sap turned into these 4 tiny jars of syrup. But they look so pretty! 

5 gallons of sap turned into these 4 tiny jars of syrup. But they look so pretty! 

Choosing the tree and drilling the hole just deep enough.... 

Choosing the tree and drilling the hole just deep enough.... 

Placing the smile to collect the sap. 

Placing the smile to collect the sap. 

Collecting the drips and drops. 

Collecting the drips and drops. 

Boiling and waiting. Waiting for the water to evaporate off....waiting for the sap to change. 

Boiling and waiting. Waiting for the water to evaporate off....waiting for the sap to change. 

Getting closer.

Getting closer.