Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Life Before.com 
and Seven Women, Seven Lives

At a Christmas Eve Party, hosted by my friends
Diane and Jim Bold, I met Mary Lou Greisen,
a lively octogenarian who took a memoir writing class
taught by Cecilia Dejoy at Nazareth College.  Along
with her classmates, their essays were compiled into 
two books which are now published.  They have had 
book signings around town and the books are available
on Amazon and the Red Bird Cafe.  Here are links to 
info about the books:  Life Before.com and

Mary Lou Greisen

Mary Lou raised seven children! Two of her sons that 
I talked to should be on Comedy Central.  Below is a 
pic of Mark giving tummy kisses to the family dog, 
Leilani.  The dog"s deadpan expression is priceless.


Mark's wife, Kathleen made the most beautiful, artistic
Christmas cookies I have ever seen.  They should be 
framed and put on walls!

Mark and Kathleen

That evening was the first time I saw Diane and Jim's
first grandchild,Colton. What a cherub!  Mama Kristen is in 
heaven!  Below are some photos of the evening.

Husband, Gary, and I

Diane, Kristen and Colton and below Jim with
his Christmas chef hat.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays 
to all my Friends and Family!
May next year bring joy and creative energy.
Do the work you love to do!  Believe and
wonder as a child.

Me at 3 years old.  I do believe in Santa Claus
and always will.  The world can be a magical place.

Monday, December 21, 2009

September-November Activities

Very busy months for me.  Time to catch up on posting.
I started substitute teaching in the Palmyra Macedon 
School District--every subject K-12.  The students
have inspired many ideas for my writing.  I have 
discovered and read many picture books and mid-
grade novels that have escaped my attention.  Love
Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant.  Read it on this site.
Also read her mid-grade Missing May.  Hatchet by
Gary Paulsen was a good read--it's also a Newbery 
Honor Book.  At the Poughkeepsie conference in June,
I met editor, Lisa Graff, and finally this Fall I read her
three novels:  Umbrella Summer, The Thing About 
Georgie, and The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower.

My brother, Bob, and sister-in-law, Jessie, flew in from 
Nebraska for a visit.  How great to see them!  It's been
too long.  We have many interests in common, 
particularly enjoying the beauty of nature.  So we went 
to the Adirondacks to see the fall foliage.  I had a miserable
cold, but plucked along in the rain on one of our walks.
Somehow the sky dripping from the clouds and my dripping 
from my nose make the experience more memorable and
humorous.   Doesn't my brother look like Walt Whitman? 

I once again did a illustrator presentation for the Penn Yan
high school art students.  My friend, Sherry Blanco Lutzen,
is the art teacher there.  Here I am sharing an illustration for
my upcoming book, the Adventures of Marco Flamingo
in the Jungle to be released in Spring 2011, Raven Tree Press.  
The cover art is below.

The RCBF on Nov. 7 was a huge success. It was 
good to see some author/illustrators not there last year.
I sat next to Elizabeth Bluemle and bought her book,
How Do you Wokka-Wokka.  I also sat next to 
Linda Sue Park and bought her book Tap Dancing on 
the Roof.  I need a new bookcase!

Family Time

Gary and I spent Nov. 8-30 in Atlanta and Las Vegas visiting
family.  It was great to see the grandkids again and Erik and 
Emily.  It won't be long till the new baby arrives---May!  
It's a boy.  So, we had fun throwing out names at the dinner 
table.  For a literary character how about Icabod Jarkins or 
Rochester Jarkins?  I'm sure we'll be surprised as we were with 
"Anna" and "Taylor."  

Along with Emily's mom, Susan, we went to see the Rockettes 
Christmas Spectacular.  Below see the girls all dressed up for 
the event. 

It was wonderful being in Atlanta for Thanksgiving and 
Erik's b'day.  I also visited the girl's schools.  That was a treat.
Saw Taylor's Thanksgiving program and did a author 
presentation for Taylor's preschool.  Here is a pic of me
with Taylor and her teachers. 

I'm so glad that the girls love books and reading.  Grandpa is a 
favorite reader.  Even though Anna can read very well now,  
she still loves to be read to.

We took five days out of that month from Atlanta to fly to 
Las Vegas to visit my brothers.  Hadn't seen them for years.
Greg took us to the Hoover Dam with it's impressive Art Deco 
design and scenery.  

We met my brother, Norm, at his condo.  He then took us to the 
Piute Indian Reservation's resort. The mountains are beautiful in 
Vegas. What a peaceful setting! 

We drove back home in the most stressful and congested 
drivingwe have ever experienced.  Warning to everyone. 
Don't drive on the Sunday after Thanksgiving from Atlanta to 
NYS ever!

Once home, I was thrown back into substitute teaching, 
working on my writing and illustrating, reading, and exercising 
(Gary and I decided to take advantage of our Go-Getters free 
gym membership--sorry no pics here, especially of our 

I also did an author visit for the Holiday Open House at 
Village Book Market in Palmyra. Authors, Eileen Loveman, 
Sharon SanAngelo, and I were invited by the owner, Marsha, 
to do a short video introducing our books.  Without preparation 
we did "our spot" on the spot....wheeeew.........
we all did pretty well.  Except what's with my mouth?  
I'm usually more animated than this.  Looks like I'm trying
to push the words out of clenched lips. Well, it was the first time.  
I should get better and more comfortable with more practice.  
This business is all about risk taking!  Here is my spot--

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Marco's Back!

My new book in the Marco Flamingo series has just 
been released.  It is available in bookstores, on-line, 
and at www.raventreepress.com.  Send me an email 
with any questions or for signed copies. I am available 
for school visits.  I'll be at the Rochester Children's 
Book Festival on Nov. 7, 2009.  More info on the 
Festival to come. 
My cat, Hunter, likes me to read to him.  Or does
he just like the movement of the pages turning?
Here, he is just too interested in the stick to care!
Palmyra Pirate Weekend

I spent a few hours on Sat. and Sun. Aug 8, 9 at the 
booth shared by Books, ETC.(Macedon) and Village 
Book Market (Palmyra) promoting Marco Flamingo 
and talking with all the little pirates. What a hoot 
watching the Pirate Puppy Parade!

I met two authors---always a treat.  

Michael Pealo wrote August Storm, a journey of 
an abused woman.  Michael is a licensed practical 
nurse in Marion, NY.  

JoAnn Meaker is a retired teacher in the gifted program
in Fairport.  Her book, Ontario, published by Arcadia, 
is an historical review of Ontario County. 

Michael and Me

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Illustrator's Group
We started the illustrator's group a few years ago
with a mission to support and encourage each 
other in our goals.  Donna Farrell created the

Each of us created an illustration for the site.  
From this site there are links to individual 
websites/blogs.  Postcards will be created to 
send to publishing houses, editors and art directors.  
We made great progress this summer!

We meet once a month.  Below is a photo taken at 
our last meeting at Lori's house.  One of our members, 
McNevin, moved out of state last month and will be 
missed.  He will still stay in contact and be part of 
the group.

Donna, Karen, Roxane, Stephanie, Lori, and Me


It is so important to network and be around other
illustrators.  I love seeing their work, risk taking,
and growth--great motivation for me.  Being with a 
group keeps one on task--eager to show and share 
something new at the next meeting.  Our members 
both write and illustrate, but the focus is promotion 
of our art for children's books.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Best Place to Work and Relax!

I love to write and sketch at our cabin on Keuka Lake.  
We have friends who love to veg out there with us.  
The sound of the waves, wildflowers, swallows, 
mallards, and pines all contribute to renewal,  
reflection and peace.

Cricket and Max

The owl caught the most fish!

Look at Max with his toy-adorable-he's patiently 
waiting for me to play with him.

As I worked on the edit for Marco III, Cricket read
and played with her dog, Max.  My husband and 
Rick fished (catch and release).  No one wants to
clean fish.  There's little planning and no shopping for 
these get-aways.  The night before, Cricket and I decide 
what we have on hand to bring and don't even care if it 
will rain.  Any day is great at the lake!
Book, ETC. of Macedon, NY
I just discovered a book store in my neighborhood.  
It's been there two years!  Wonderful place--sells used
and out-of-print books and new books from local authors.
My book is on sale there; I'll also do a reading/presentation
on Oct.18.

John and "Books" the bookstore cat

John Cielinski, the owner, is a retired English teacher.
The book store has a cozy back room for small group
meetings and events.  Coffee and snacks are available.
Some of the events:  Meditation Thursday with Claire
Eirmann, Readers Theater, Sudoku, Chess and other 
games, Wayne Writers Guild sessions, Spanish night.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lily in China

Wow, Lily awesome trip!

Patrick, Lily and Kathryn

I taught Lily's children, Kathryn and Patrick (now grown)
when I was an art teacher at Ganada.  Lily has remained 
a dear friend. Lily just got back from a month in China with
her children and other family members.  Her husband Paul
had to work.  I would have quit my job! 

Even though Lily was born in Taiwan, this was her first trip 
to China.  As a fiber artist (she makes beautiful quilts) 
I'm sure she was inspired by the gorgeous colors and patterns
of Chinese textiles.  Lily also loves pottery. She threw pots
before working over a potter's wheel threw out her back!

Here is the link to view the photos of their trip.

Home Garden Tour
My friend, Trish and I, toured ten private home gardens 
in Webster yesterday.  It was a perfect day to walk 
and enjoy the richness of nature.  Color, texture and 
sweet smells everywhere.  I took many pics to use as 
reference for Marco in the jungle. So many flowers can
look tropical, exotic or "jungle-like" with a little exaggeration.

Trish (with coral bag)

Me (love yellow and purple together)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Adventures of Marco Flamingo 
in the Jungle
I just signed the contract for the third book in the 
Marco series.  The next step is working with my editor 
to finalize the text and start the cover art.  I have already
submitted the initial sketches for the interior illustrations.
There aren't too many hippos and warthogs in my back
yard even though it looks like a jungle from all the rain!
So, I will work from photos in my files, and photos I will 
take at the Seneca Park Zoo. When I am working on a 
book I am zoomed into anything I can use for reference.
And lo and behold my friend, Karen came to our pool 
get together in a safari hat.  I had her pose and got the hat 
from different angles.  It was a rare, sunny, warm day and
Jennifer and her three kids and Karen and her two girls
swam, read and played independently while Karen, 
Jennifer and I discussed our summer reading.  We did
carefully watch the kids in the water and  provided pretzels,
raspberries (from my patch), and cheese and crackers for 

I also took breaks from my writing to enjoy the Canandaigua
festival.  My friend Cricket and I also spent that day browsing 
garage sales.  I picked up a lot of mid grade readers.  The 
Salvation Army had books for 39 cents.  Got some Newbery 
books there.  I also discovered "The Unique Toy Shop"
in Canandaigua, 120 South Main Street.  I showed the owner
my book---she loved it and will be ordering Marco books.

I have been pouring over books this summer. 
Some suggested reading:
The Horse Boy (adult book) a father's quest to heal his autistic 
son of some disturbing elements of his condition. They go on 
a trek through Mongolia.
Still Alice (adult book) A highly accomplished woman is
diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers.
I Love You, Miss Huddleston (adult book) Philip Gulley's
memoir of his coming-of-age in small town, Danville,Indiana
at a time when childhood was less monitored.
Losing Everything (adult book) autobiography of author's
reclaiming his hope, authenticity and spirit.
Savvy by Ingrid Law (mid grade) wonderful blend of
realism and the fantastic.
The Midwife's Apprentice (mid grade) a 1996 book I hadn't read.
Now, one of my favorites!
Wing Nut by MJ Auch (young adult) loved learning about
purple martins.
Tarra and Bella will be out soon.  Unlikely friendship between
an elephant and a dog.  Reviews out and a clip on you tube.
Elephants are my favorite animals and I am familiar with the 
elephant preserve in Tennessee.