Welcome to THE WRITER'S WHIMSY - My online journal!


Cover Art for Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse!

The cover art for Gone Camping: A Novel in Verse, illustrated by Matthew Cordell, is here! That means the book is one step closer to being in the hands of young readers. Gone Camping arrives March 28, 2017 from HMH.


Gone Fishing and The Bluestem Award

I'm happy to share that GONE FISHING has been nominated by the Illinois School Library Media Association for The Bluestem Award 2017: Illinois' Grades 3-5 Readers' Choice Award. It's particularly thrilling to think that Gone Fishing will be read by many students in Illinois since for many years Illinois was my home. I still love the state and the people who live there.


If you click on the Bluestem logo you can see a full list of selected books...it's an excellent list - I've read many of these books and look forward to reading the rest of the list soon. Thank you ISLMA!




Sifting Through the Colorful Mess of a Brainstorm

This is a post that I wrote for Smack Dab in the Middle blog's April 2016 theme on brainstorming:

Brainstorming is messy. Here is a small example of what mine look like:

This was a brainstorm for a picture book that I was working on a while back. By the time I come to this stage, I know the basic concept that I’m after, but I need to figure out how to make it come together. For me that includes doodling, using colorful pens, making a mess on paper to get all of the ideas out of my brain, and to generate new ideas and connections that I hadn’t been considering. Then it’s a process of sifting through the mess to find something cohesive that will stick together. Something that might someday become a book. That’s what happened with this brainstorm. After a long wait and many versions, those messy brainstorm notes became a picture book that released earlier this year called THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO GOBBLED A SKINK. It’s from Sky Pony Press and illustrated by Ana Bermejo.

I know this isn’t the right process for everyone, but it’s the one that works for me whether I’m brainstorming a picture book, a single poem, or a middle grade novel. I’d love to know your brainstorming process. What works for you?



Celebrating the release of THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO GOBBLED A SKINK!






Welcome! I'm happy to be celebrating the release of my second picture book, THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO GOBBLED A SKINK.

This is my waterfront version of the classic folktale. In this story the old lady is a wacky fisherwoman who gobbles a skink, a worm, a bobber, her fishing line...oh, the list goes on!  

Like the original, if you know the tune you can sing along:

"There was an old lady who gobbled a skink.

Why would she think to gobble a skink?

Perhaps she’ll sink." 

This hungry old lady arrived unexpectedly one day when I was tinkering with poetry and story ideas. I love docks and being near water, so those elements found their way into my musings and this book. There were so many fun images and rhymes that came together I needed to see how the story would end. And speaking of the ending, during some of my school visits when I'm sharing with students what I'm working on next, I’ve been asking:

Do YOU think

the old lady will sink?

Their answers vary from those who strongly think she will NOT sink, to those who strongly believe (maybe hope) that she will. I've been telling students they'll be able to find out on February 2, 2016. I would love to tell you what happens, too, but what fun will it be if I spoil the ending?

I'm heading to the Vero Beach Book Center today to celebrate with a group of young readers. What a fun way to welcome my new book! Also, I’m working with exceptional first grade teacher Ed Spicer on a teacher guide – it will be available soon.

In celebration of the release I'm giving away one copy. I welcome you to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. There are no restrictions and the contest is open to everyone.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

THERE WAS AN OLD LADY WHO GOBBLED A SKINK is published by Sky Pony Press and the adorable illustrations are by Ana Bermejo. It's now available wherever books are sold. If you’d like a signed or personalized copy of this or any of my books, you can contact the VERO BEACH BOOK CENTER at 1-888-732-3226 – just indicate the names you’d like me to include in the inscription. 


Thanks for stopping by and celebrating with me!



Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr.!

I'm pleased to share the good news that GONE FISHING: A Novel in Verse is included on the first ever Sunshine State Young Readers Award Junior list! That means that k-2nd grade readers in the state of Florida will be reading Gone FIshing and other wonderful books this fall and next spring and will then vote for their favorite. This is particularly fun for me since Florida is my adopted home state.

If you're interested in the full list, click on the logo below. Thank you Florida Association for Media in Education! I'm honored that GONE FISHING was chosen for this young readers list.