Friday, May 27, 2016

Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range Picture Book Trailer

Yee-haw! Cowpoke Clyde is off on another adventure--this time taming his new-fangled bicycle that he ordered from a cat-y-logue. Turns out learning to ride a bike is just a tad harder than he thought.

If you've got a moment, please add yer "like" to it at YouTube. If you'd like to hear about the wild ride of makin' this book trailer, click HERE to sign up for the latest issue of my newsletter and I'll send it right out. Thanks! (Much obliged!)

Monday, April 11, 2016

New Website and Newsletter

Hi everyone! Thanks for signing up to receive updates from my blog "Random Acts of Writing." After several years, I've created a new website and switched from a blog to a newsletter. If you'd like to receive my newsletter, please visit this link and sign up.!mailing-list/c2wg and I'll send you the latest issue.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Say "Ahhhhh . . . " by Lori Mortensen

When I think of my favorite picture books, they almost always involve a unique, memorable character. Whether it's a dawdling duck, a snoozing bear, or dancing chickens, I want to know what happens to them. What's their problem? What will they do? Would I do the same things? How will things turn out in the end? Most importantly--after I've clamored through the thirty-two pages--what will I feel in the end? Achieving a goal is not enough. Cleverness is not enough, although it goes a long way. Successful, character-driven picture books nearly always end with a satisfying feeling. 

Ahhhhh! To read the rest of this Blogateer post at the Children's Book Academy follow the link. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Have you Ever Thought of Writing a Picture Book?

If you're ever thought of writing a picture book, sign up for my class through Sacramento's Learning Exchange, called, "Writing Children's Picture Books." It's a one-time, two-hour class on Wednesday night, October 8, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. where I'll discuss my writing journey, how I wrote several of my latest titles, and the components of successful picture books. Visit The Learning Exchange for more information and to sign up.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Please Release Me!

The writing world moves slowly. Most books take about two years to from sale to shelf. In the case of my latest release, Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg, it took four years, although it seemed like forever. After it sold, the economy fell into a slump. Publishing companies closed and shifted. Editors were let go. The manuscript sat in limbo for two years. Then, to my dance-on-the-ceiling delight, it was brought back to life. I was especially thrilled when my editor selected Michael Allen Austin to illustrate it. He did a fantastic job.

After Cowpoke Clyde’s initial four-year journey--a sequel is on its way--Cowpoke Clyde Rides the Range. Yee-haw!! No date has been set, but it will be awesome to see Michael Allen Austin’s illustrations once again.

Because literary world moves so slowly, it’s always a thrill when a book finally lands on the bookshelf. To celebrate, I’m plum tickled to share the recent releases of some of my writing friends who have shared this crazy, side-winding, writing roller coaster journey with me:

Balloon Trees by Danna Smith
Published by Sylvan Dell

If you've ever wondered how balloons are made, this fun-to-read story is bursting with information that will lift readers to new heights.

Visit Danna's website at to find out more about Danna and her upcoming titles.

Snow Dog, Sand Dog
Albert Whitman & Co.

What pet can you get when you can't have a pet?
Linda's fun story will have readers howling with delight.  

To find out more about Linda's excellent YA titles and her upcoming books, visit her webpage at:  

A Gift for Mama
Gullane Children's Books

Oskar has a problem. He doesn't know what to give to his mother. He just may find out that the perfect gift was right under his nose.

To learn more about Linda and her upcoming books, visit her website at:

Monday, December 23, 2013

Good Times

So how did 2013 rank as far as writing goes?

It was good!  

This year, I began working with a terrific agent, Liza Voges, and we’ve got great hopes for a variety of fiction and nonfiction manuscripts in the New Year. I was thrilled when we finalized some details with Bloomsbury for my picture book, Mousequerade Ball that will be illustrated by wonderful Betsy Lewin of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type fame.  Release date? 2016!

I was thrilled with the sale of Chicken Lily to Henry Holt—my first title with them! No word yet on the illustrator, but I’m eager to find out. Discovering who the illustrator will be is like opening a glorious package. Although my words are in place, it’s not complete until the illustrator brings their half of the story to the page. I’m looking forward to its 2015 release date.

In addition to my trade projects, I’ve also been blogging for Mira Reisberg’s Picture Book Academy the second Wednesday of each month. Check for my blogs there about tips and reflections on the craft of writing picture books.

Sometimes, it’s fun to let loose in other writing arenas—such as putting together a Christmas card.  Loads of fun with my cat, Max, and my son who donated his Photoshop skills for the cause. (Much obliged, son!)

This year also saw the release of Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg with Clarion--a four-year journey--so it was particularly exciting, not only to hold it in my hand, but to watch sales climb right out of the gate. Click here to see the book trailer created by the awesome illustrator, Michael Allen Austin. Our book was not only reviewed by the New York Times in September, it often hits #1 Best Seller on Amazon for children’s American historical, western fiction.


Here's to rip snortin' 2014! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hop, Skip and a Blog!

Ideas are a lot like opportunities. You never know when one is going to pop up right under your nose. So when my writing friend and awesome author of Deck the Halls, Erin Dealey, tagged me for the Children’s Blog Hop, I was delighted to run with it—with a hop, skip, and a blog!   

So here goes!

What are you working on right now?

In addition to book signing events for my latest release Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg (Clarion 2013), I’ve been wrangling with a new picture book manuscript about a princess. I know! There are lots of picture books about princesses out there already, but I like princesses (who doesn’t?) and I always have fun figuring out where I’m going and seeing where an idea will take me.   

How does this differ from other works in the genre?

Good question—especially since there are a lot of princess books out there. Right now, I’m including an unexpected character that will take the book in a new, and hopefully unexpected direction.

Why do you write what you write?

When I choose to work on a project, it’s because I’m excited about telling the story whether it’s a nonfiction subject, or a fun, rambunctious picture book story. When I’m writing nonfiction, such as my books about the French scientist who proved the earth turned, or exploring the lives of honey bees, I’m excited to find those fascinating bits of information and share them with young readers. When I’m writing fiction, it’s fun to jump into the thick of a story and see what will happen. I particularly enjoyed writing my latest picture book release Cowpoke Clyde & Dirty Dawg about a cowpoke, who completed his chores, but found one thing he’d plum forgot—his dirty dawg. When I started writing it, I had no idea how it would end.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing is also the best thing about writing—grabbing onto a wisp of an idea, facing a blank screen, and breathing life into an idea word by word. As my fingers tap, tap, tap across the keyboard I’m alternately thrilled by my discoveries and stricken with the thought that maybe this time, I won’t get over the assorted roadblocks and finally find my way. But I keep at it, day after day. Then, to my delight, after latching onto a goal like a dog on a rope, I get through to the other side.  Amazing!

And now without further hops, skips, or jumps, it’s my pleasure to introduce the next three Children’s Blog Hoppers:

Gayle Kraus My wonderful writing friend, Gayle C. Krause is a member of SCBWI, The Poets’ Garage and The Cliffhouse Wonderwriters. She writes across the genres including poetry, picture books and MG/YA novels. She has been published in various children’s magazines (Highlights, Boy’s Quest, Hopscotch for Girls etc…) and poetry anthologies – And the Crowd Goes Wild (Friesen Press 2012) and Meanderings: A Collection of Poetic Verse (Diversion Press (2009). Her first picture book, a seasonal rhymer, Rock Star Santa was a Scholastic Book Club original in 2008, and is featured in the Firefly and See Saw flyers every November and December. Look for it in an elementary classroom flyer near you this year. Her YA novel, RATGIRL: Song of the Viper was published in February 2013 (Noble Young Adult) and the book trailer can be viewed at: During the course of her writing career Ms. Krause has served as assistant editor for Underneath the Juniper Tree, a dark fantasy online magazine developed for young teens and a children’s book reviewer for Children’s You can learn more about Gayle at (

Linda Joy Singleton – This terrific writing friend is the author of over 35 books for kids, including YALSA honored THE SEER series (my favorite!) and DEAD GIRL WALKING trilogy. She submitted short stories to magazines when she was fourteen and finished her first book during a two-week holiday. She kept stories she wrote as a kid, and loves to share them at school presentations. I love her books and can’t wait for more in THE SEER series and to see her upcoming picture book release. To learn more about Linda and her wonderful titles, visit her website at:

Brenda Reeves Sturgis is the author of the popular 10 Turkeys in the Road, Amazon/and Scholastic, 2011. Booklist praised it saying, “Colorful cartoonlike acrylic illustrations—contrasting happy-faced, googly-eyed turkeys with the increasingly exasperated farmer—capture the chaos with liveliness and humor. Kids will enjoy counting turkeys and finding corresponding numerals incorporated within the pictures. Not just for Thanksgiving. She has two forthcoming books, No Fun in the Sun for Santa, First Ideas Corp (2013), and upcoming The Lake Where Loon Lives, (2014) with Islandport Press. To learn more about Brenda and her  books, visit her website at: