StoryWorldCon: Find Your Cabin!

It’s orientation at StoryWorldCon! Which cabin do you belong in?



I’m still working on curriculum for the StoryWorldCon courses, but in the meantime, check out the campsite, meet and mingle with other campers, and start asking your questions about the courses in the free forum!

If you’ve ever wanted to go to a writing conference but didn’t have it in your budget, this is for you. If you’re a conference junkie, this is for you. If you want to meet other writers and find critique partners, this is for you.

The campsite is only as good as its campers, so tell your friends to join! The forum is going to be year-round, but workshops will happen based on interest and enrollment.

Find out more about StoryWorldCon here. To receive updates on the conference and when the workshops will be available, make sure you subscribe to this blog!


I received an ARC of The Baseball Player and the Walrus and am excited to share this picture book with all of you!

Image links to Amazon Smile. With Amazon Smile, every purchase helps the charity of your choice!

Short Version

A sweet, surprisingly deep*, story about balancing responsibilities with pursuing dreams. Children will empathize with the characters, and adults will enjoy the details and theme.

*This isn’t to say I’m surprised that any picture book would be deep, since most have a lesson or takeaway element (that, and the illustrations, are why I love picture books!)—I just expected this to be a fun, silly story, and I was pleasantly surprised that it was much more than that.


Alex Latimer’s illustrations are packed with amusing details that demand encore reads. My favorite are the suitcases overflowing with bills and fish, and the trophies scattered haphazardly on the bedroom floor.


Ben Loory has written a crafty tale about the unfortunate choice between work and passion. While the recommended age for this book is 5-8 year olds, I (mother, writer, artist) read it to my four-year-old son. He enjoyed it and was emotionally attached to both the baseball player and the walrus. I don’t want to give spoilers, but when I asked him what he didn’t like and what he liked about the book, his answers were dependent on the emotional state of the characters, rather than, like, a dragon or explosion or something “cool.” I can’t recall him empathizing with a picture book character before now, so that’s something I’m really pleased about. That’s why I advocate all people read—reading makes us empathetic humans. Every online troll should read picture books with empathetic characters. Maybe they’d learn something.

Oh, the preschooler also said he liked the walrus’ tusks. So there’s that.

Recommended for

Besides trolls who need a lesson, I’d recommend this book to elementary teachers during read-aloud time, since some of the words might be difficult for early readers. But I’d also recommend it to high school seniors and adults. The subtext and some of the humor will be appreciated by adults who live the dilemma posed in the book, asking themselves whether it’s more important to have “lots and lots and lots of money” and a job they succeed at, like the baseball player, or to invest time and energy into something more fulfilling.

On our first read through, the theme spoke to me as a mom trying to decide between working full time and staying at home. But on the second read, it spoke more to me as a creative, one who is constantly deciding between good paying jobs and really exciting ones.

Have you ever heard the quote “You can never step into the same book twice, because you are different each time you read it”? It’s attributed to John Barton. I think it only applies to books with relatable, human experiences. With theme and subtext.

It applies to this book.

Buy Links

Benefit a local, independent bookstore by preordering via IndieBound.

Benefit a charity by pre-ordering online via Amazon Smile.

The Baseball Player and the Walrus will be available for purchase on February 24, 2015.

Writing Exercise

Write a 15-blinker about a choice between passion and responsibility.

Voice: Talk Like a Pirate

The best way to learn how to write well is to read, read, read. Read the good stuff and pick them apart to find out why they work. Read the crap to figure out why it’s terrible.

The problem is, many of us just don’t have time to read as much as we’d like. So I could give you list of novels that do things well, but I don’t expect you’d read them. But you know what you DO have time to read? Picture books.

The time commitment is only one reason why children’s literature is so freaking awesome. William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well, once said there are four “basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.” What exemplifies these better than a picture book?

My son and I have increased our time at the library of late. Whenever I come across a good picture book that demonstrates a key literary premise, I’ll share it with you. Today’s book concerns VOICE.

Voice: Talk Like a Pirate

Voice is the way a character sounds when talking. Each of your characters needs to have his or her own distinct voice. An uppity Manhattan banker isn’t going to parrot a plumber from Hooverville. You, the writer, need to have your own voice, too.

The best way to see if your writing has some legitimate voice to it is to read it aloud. And that’s exactly what you need to do with this book:


(Click the link to be taken to an Amazon page. If you order from the Amazon page using this link, I’ll receive about $0.000001 from Amazon. Rolling in the dough over here, don’t you know.)

Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate is a tale about a pirate trying to gather for himself a crew of scallywags. The condition for the job, however, is that each candidate needs to talk like a pirate:

“Ye gots to be stubborn and mighty cranky,
Ye gots to be dirty and awfully stanky!
Ye gots to load a cannon and know how to fire it,
But most of all, ye gots to talk like a pirate!”

Read this book aloud, and you’ll see the difference between Pirate Pete’s voice and that of each of the potential crew. I read the first candidate aloud with a mamby-pamby French accent, because that’s what it sounded like in my head.

I’m tagging this under “Writing Resources.” Give me some time to be creative, and I’ll come up with “Writing Exercises” for you to practice on. Until then, start talking like a pirate.