Saturday, October 26, 2019

Along a Burning River

"Many of the stories I write never become books...but then there are some stories that just keep popping back into my head and want to become books."

I said this at almost every school visit.

This has been my experience.

Most of the stories I have written at-length or ideas I have sketched or scribbled down on paper are forgotten. Only to be rediscovered when I page through my journals to reminisce. Then they fade away again.

Some stories are different. They have their own way of being persistent. It is like they are alive. Fighting to be read by eyes other than mine.

Over the Moon is a fighter.

Five years ago I saw a boy in an astronaut's costume walking with his mom through the lobby of a hotel. I drew that boy in my journal and later invented a story. It was a story of a boy who turns his suitcase into a rocket ship and blasts off the top of the hotel.

On school visits, to hundreds of students, I told the story of this boy and how he found a secret button in the elevator to get to the top of the hotel. The perfect place to blast off. The students at the school hung on every word I said. I knew the story was unique. Over the Moon knew it was good.

But, I said..."Like many of my stories, this story will probably not become a book...but that is OK because sometimes you just write stories to write stories."

I stopped sharing the story at school visits because I had more of own finished books to talk about, but it kept popping into my head. The story begged to be written down.

So, I did. I wrote it in the only format I knew. As a picture book. I revised and revised and revised. I loved the story. I thought it was ready to share again. I pitched it on Twitter to agents during a few open pitch parties. I got no response. Then, I had the story critiqued. I received a response this time, but it was a response that left me liking the no response from the agents better. The story went back in the drawer.

Then, last March I was asked to submit a story for a comic book story anthology. I had a week to put something together.  I couldn't write something new in a week. So, I looked through my drawer and found a story I really liked about a squirrel on Halloween. I rewrote it as a comic book. But, I didn't think it was strong enough to submit.

I knew this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up.  Nobody had ever asked me to submit to an anthology. Nobody had ever offered to pair my writing with an artist. Then, I thought of Over the Moon. The story was fighting one last time. I reworked it as a comic book story, but then hesitated to hit the button to submit. Over the Moon begged me to be brave.

I submitted it.

I look back now and wonder why I was so scared.

Over the Moon was accepted and an amazing illustrator agreed to spend his precious time drawing the illustration-dependent story.

For me the fight is over. Eyes other than mine read my story and liked it.

However, Over the Moon isn't satisfied. It wants to be read by you.

Right now a Kickstarter campaign is only partially funded and Over the Moon wants to become a book. Click on the link below to contribute or click here.

Cover Art by Matt Horak
Art from Over the Moon by Nicholas J. Marcellus

Sunday, June 2, 2019

1st Grade Favorite!

My DODO book was somebody's favorite of first grade. OK, so it was my daughter's favorite book, but I'll take it!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Five Little Potties - Wax and Tissue Paper Craft

I participated in BabyFest 2019 at the Akron Art Museum. 
Every year I come home inspired. 
It is one of my favorite events of the year! 

I was asked to bring a craft or activity to share with the little ones.
This year I provided a wax paper/tissue paper craft based on my Five Little Potties book.

In the book, there is a lot of confetti! (There is a big potty party at the end!)
I cut white, blue, orange, and red tissue paper into squares.
You can do this craft at home too!
To start, tear a piece of wax paper and fold it in half. The wax paper should be about double the size of a standard piece of paper, so when it is folded it is about the size a piece of paper.
Next, add a little water to some white glue.
Then, use a brush to paint the glue on half the wax paper.
Place the tissue paper confetti all over the wax paper. 
Add as many pieces of tissue paper as you want!
Paint glue on the other half of the wax paper.
Fold the halves together. This will seal the tissue paper between the wax paper.
Trace the potty on the wax paper. Click here for the template.
Almost done! Cut out your confetti potty.
Add eyes and a mouth and you have one of the Five Little Potties!


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Gnome Story Time!

So far, this was my favorite story time of the year!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Kid Inventor Day - Ravenna Integrated Preschool

It is quite a challenge to come up with a unique storytelling experience. But, I love a good challenge!

Ravenna Integrated Preschool invited me to perform two storytelling events with the theme, KID INVENTOR DAY. After much thought and reading piles of books I decided that I would focus on Ohio Inventors. I chose the inventors; Harry Stevens (hot dog), Garrett Morgan (traffic signal), and Thomas Edison (light bulb) -- three Ohio inventors whose inventions would unlock my storytelling creativity.

The best hot dog book I found was Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems. I have a friend who made a pigeon costume for Halloween last year. I decided I needed to make a costume of my own.

The costume was rather simple to make. I purchased a blue surf towel from Amazon. Then, I sewed on some eyes, wore a baseball cap with a yellow bill, attached a piece of foam to a belt, and viola!

I was ready to eat the hot dog, but the duckling kept interrupting.
I think I have their attention. Weird guys in pigeon costumes will do that!

Mo Willems' books are great for paired reading. Two copies of the book is a must!
The best traffic signal book I found was Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen. The text is simple with rhyme. It was just what I was looking for.

I made a few traffic light props. I had student volunteers hold them up during our movement activity.
Stop the light is red! Now...the light is green, march, march, march. Now the light is yellow, march, slooooooow.
The best lightbulb book I found was Night Lights by Susan Gal. There is probably under 20 words in this book but it was the perfect book to introduce a shadow guessing game.

This is a simple but fun idea. I used a large light, a white sheet, and a bag full of items to create a shadow guessing game. A student volunteer held up the items for the others in the audience to guess. The first bag was full of kitchen utensils.
The second bag was full of winter clothing items. 
The third bag was full of stuffed animals.
This was the end of my prepared story time, but they wanted me to keep going...So, I said, "Wait...I am an Ohio inventor too, right? I invented a book."

They loved DODO!

I found this astronaut hat at a garage sale many years ago. It has come in handy when reading DODO!

I love wearing a clown wig!

I am so thankful Ravenna Integrated Preschool invited me to come read to them. It allowed me to try many new things and for that I very grateful!