A Metaphor

Metaphors regarding the writing experience pop into my head at odd moments. I came upon this one while on vacation in my home state of Oregon. 

The writing life?

Life in general?

You decide. 

Summer Reading Bingo

I highly recommend Summer Reading Bingo, sponsored by the Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts and Lectures.


It’s my first time participating and the challenge has been great for getting me out of my reading comfort zone. I’ve been busy shuttling kids and writing (children’s novel and a picture book), but I’m managing to fit in interesting books in the nooks and crannies of the day. I’ve won at bingo with one row completed, but am going for blackout by end of summer. Give it a go!


And on another note, I’m heading out with family to witness first hand the Pig ‘N Ford Races at the Tillamook County Fair. My mom grew up there and I’ve been looking forward to seeing this race live and in person.


Seward Park Reading Favorites

1. A tiny curly-haired little guy and his parents came because Ticket to the Pennant is his favorite book. They sat in front. 

2. A Rainier Valley little league buddy of my son’s happened upon the reading by chance and he and his whole family stayed to listen. 

3. A woman bought a signed book for her grand niece in Florida because the girl goes to baseball games with her dad. Great Aunt also wants to teach her about Seattle. 

4. Most excellent Third Place booksellers were excited to share local historical baseball article with teacher friends. 

Great, inspiring time. 

Posts on Kirby Larson blog and The Winged Pen

I’ve been busy on my middle grade novel as well as working on some new picture book ideas, but between shuttling my kids for summer tutoring (dyslexia!), I’ve been able to sneak in some guest blog posts.

The first is one for author Kirby Larson. She hosted me for “Friend Friday” on her blog. I met her a few years ago when she visited my school as a visiting author, where she did an excellent presentation despite not feeling all that great. More recently, was fortunate to chat with her over a group dinner at our local WWA SCBWI Inside Story event, this time as a fellow children’s book author.

Her blog is wonderful and supportive. She continually contributes to the world of children’s literature like so many children’s authors and illustrators. The link is below. Check out her other work as well:


I also wrote a post for my critique group blog. It was well received, I think because many people think about taking more time for creative pursuits at some point in their lives.


The third is a post on the Sasquatch Publishing blog about my writing desk. At many readings and events, attendees want to know where authors work (I always want to know, too). This is a peek at my workspace.


Jim Harrison Poem from Writer’s Almanac

by Jim Harrison

This year we have two gorgeous
yellow warblers nesting in the honeysuckle bush.
The other day I stuck my head in the bush.
The nestlings weigh one-twentieth of an ounce,
about the size of a honeybee. We stared at
each other, startled by our existence.
In a month or so, when they reach the size
of bumblebees they’ll fly to Costa Rica without a map.

“Warbler” by Jim Harrison from Dead Man’s Float.
© Copper Canyon Press, 2016.


Sign up, donate or listen to Writer’s Almanac. There is something worthwhile to connect to in there daily.

The BFG and Revision

I sent the latest draft of my current project to a few critique partners. It was good timing as I was getting tired of thinking about it. (Family was getting tired of me thinking about it, too.) Since it’s been mostly in my own head for months and months, it’s time to hear from others what holes need to be filled and what characters don’t ring true. There is always – always – a part of me that has hope for a perfect novel at this early stage. “It’s just perfect, Mark. I don’t see the need to change anything.” That’s the sentence I’d love to hear. It never, ever happens.


I’m nervous for what changes I’ll have to make, but rational Mark knows the changes are inevitable. I’ll go through the feedback grief process (see a post here by my Winged Pen cohorts – we all go through it) and then get back to work eventually.

We listened to the BFG in the car on a recent family trip. Roald Dahl was such a strong storyteller and the BFG (read by amazing voice talent) had us all engaged, laughing and worrying along with the characters. I caught myself listening as a writer. When the BFG and Sophie have to sneak through downtown London as a large, potentially loud duo, I could hear Dahl’s early readers (maybe his children) saying “that’s not possible, Daddy… how would a giant sneak through a busy city with no one noticing?” Then I pictured Dahl scratching his head, asking himself the same question, and skulking off to think and experiment.

That’s what I’ll have to do soon enough. I’ll have to hear the problems, face them and deal with them. It stinks to hear bad news that makes for more work, but there’s nothing to do but try to figure out solutions. Also, to get ready for lots of dead ends along the way.

I always return to words from a book entitled, Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland:

“Uncertainty is a virtue…”

Feeling quite virtuous at this point in the process.


One Reason to Read Children’s Books

I’m reading A Wrinkle in Time to my son (Beverly Cleary to my daughter) and came across this passage:

“In your language you have a form of poetry called the sonnet… ..It’s a very strict form of poetry, is it not? There are fourteen lines, I believe, all in iambic pentameter. That’s a very strict rhythm or meter, yes?”

“Yes,” Calvin nodded.

“And each line has to end with a rigid rhyme pattern, And if the poet does not do it exactly this way, it is not a sonnet, is it?”

“But within this strict form the poet has complete freedom to say whatever he wants, doesn’t he?”

“Yes.” Calvin nodded again.

“So,” Mrs. Whatsit said.

“So what?”

“Oh, do not be stupid boy,” Mrs. Whatsit scolded. “You know perfectly well what I am driving at!”

“You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?”

“Yes,” Mrs. Whatsit said. “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”

If you haven’t read any children’s literature lately – and I mean the quality stuff – (there’s plenty of contemporary, too) I encourage you to do so. Don’t have time? They’re shorter so will take less time. And the right one can pack a punch.