Thursday, December 26, 2019

Free eBook on Amazon...Today Only!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Free ebook alert! Dealing with Blue is available on Amazon today only. Last deal of the year, expiring at midnight tonight. Grab a copy and enjoy a young adult romance while ringing in the New Year.


Dealing with Blue, a love story for the young and the young at heart is about good girl Suzy Blue. She keeps her embarrassing home life a secret, but the charming neighbor boy, J.J. Radborne, keeps coming around, bringing along a wave of complications.


Dealing with Blue hits #1 in two categories on Amazon!
Thank you so much and happy reading!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Free eBook on Amazon...Today Only!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Free ebook alert! Dealing with Blue is available on Amazon today only, deal expiring at midnight. Here's to wishing my dog a happy 5th birthday and a Merry Christmas and happy holidaze to all.

Terrier hair...don't care!

Dealing with Blue, a young adult romance, is a love story for the young and the young at heart. Good girl Suzy Blue keeps her embarrassing home life a secret, but the charming neighbor boy keeps coming around, bringing along a wave of complications.

Grab a copy for some light-hearted holiday reading, and please consider leaving a review. It's much needed and always appreciated. 


Dealing with Blue hits #1 on an Amazon "Best Sellers" list!
Thank you so much and happy reading!

Sunday, December 01, 2019

December 2019 Reading Challenge: Christmas Book Binge Reading

'Tis the season to avoid snowy roads, cold weather, and pushy holiday shoppers with their big coats and oversized purses. My advice: Stay indoors. Grab a couch, a cozy blanket, and get snuggly by the fireplace. Read about being snowed in for the holidays...


"...except interesting."

But say there's no place to have a fire and you're looking for a little heat, then check out Isabel EatsMexican hot chocolate recipe, sure to put a little spice in your life. In between sips is a good time to start binging on the holiday reads.

The Holiday Pile

And don't forget to have a holiday bookmark on hand, Christmas spirit and all that. I made a fresh batch of corner bookmarks last week, and if you're interested in such things, head on over to my Etsy shop: ESPIALdesign for a look-see.

Corner Bookmarks: A Fresh Batch 

Corner Bookmarks: Front and Back

What's left? Snap! That's right, Christmas carols...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

Now, back to the reading business. Below is a mix of genres including children picture books, middle grade, young adult, and romance. If they passed my good-read meter--meaning I'd recommend them--then I made it bold and inserted a link. I'll be updating this list throughout December, so stay tuned while I hunt down the diamonds in the rough for ya.

Here's the list, up to date:


1.) When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey & Genevieve Godbout
2.) The Twelve Days of Christmas by Alison Jay
3.) Tough Cookie by Edward Hemingway
4.) Merry Christmas, Little Elliot by Mike Curato
5.) How Winston Delivered Christmas by Alex T. Smith
6.) The Little Reindeer by Nicola Killen
7.) Santa Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
8.) The Tree That's Meant to Be by Yuval Zommer
9.) Silent Night by Lara Hawthorne
10.) Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen
11.) Mouse's First Christmas by Lauren Thompson
12.) The Wish Tree by Kyo Maclear
13.) Snow Sisters: Two Sisters, One Snowy Day by Kerri Kokias and Teagan White
14.) Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey
15.) Santa's Countdown to Christmas: 24 Days of Stories by Kim Thompson
16.) Santa's Story by Will Hillenbrand
17.) Dasher by Matt Tavares

18.) The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

19.) Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne
20.) Icing on the Lake by Catherine Clark
21.) 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
22.) My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Christmas Stories by Stephanie Perkins et al. - A few cute stories in this anthology, like Rowell and De Le Pena, to name two.

23.) It Started with Christmas by Jenny Hale
24.) Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan
25.) Snowbound by C.J. Martin
26.) We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
27.) A Christmas Wish by Leeanna Morgan

28.) Keep Calm at Christmas by Ebury Press

29.) The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

2019 Christmas good-read meter = 3 book(s) to recommend, so far.


Check out the 3 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2022 here!
Check out the 3 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2018 here!
Check out the 8 recommended Christmas/winter reads for 2017 here!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sharing Books with Little Free Libraries: Port Townsend

The 2019 Western Washington Scrapbook Retreat finally came and unfortunately went, all in a quick blink. Too soon, we were saying, "See you next year."

The time went by so fast, however, creativity came on slow. Even though I'd brought vintage patterns and a sewing stamp set by Lawn Fawn, I struggled for two days over a simple design for the card swap. Apparently, I'm still in my creative funk...not only with writing and illustrating, but with card-making, too. It's a process only solved by doing the thing you claim you can't do! Argh! Make it stop.

After Two Days in the Crop Room!

"Thanks Sew Much"
Card Swap

After two frustrating days of card-making angst, I opted to breathe in some fresh ocean air to clear my head. I ventured out of the retreat, away from Fort Worden, and into the cute little town of Port Townsend to go on my own Little Free Library book crawl.

Calhoun Street

U Street

Tyler Street

Madison Street

Lincoln Street

Lincoln Street

Woodland Avenue

Au Revoir my paper-hound friends. Another year is behind us with more to look forward to. WWSR 2020 or bust! 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Sharing Books with Little Free Libraries: Phinney Ridge in Seattle

One of the summer camps my kid attends is located in the north part of Seattle, and instead of navigating back and forth across I90, dropping off and picking up during rush hour traffic, we have ourselves a staycation. This time we rented a dog-friendly house, and I came prepared with books for a Little Free Library hunt. Hello, Phinney Ridge!

Palatine Ave

Most of the houses I find by using the Little Free Library map, which a lot of times shows a picture of the library and/or a brief description if it's in a difficult-to-find spot or off-street, like the inside a hotel lobby or in a filing cabinet in a small town grocery store. Normally, the book houses show their placards proudly, "Take a book. Share a book."

Free Little Library Map

Evanston Ave

Dayton Ave

78th Street

Creepy Cute Details

81st Street

83rd Street

74th Street

Sometimes though, I stumble across a library, like the one on 73rd Street, which seems to be run by a rogue kind of librarian. Off the beaten path, no placard, not in the system, running their own show.

Independent Library on 73rd Street

Even though my "Share a book" stash of eight ran dry, we were still stumbling across miniature book houses. Phinney Ridgers love to read and each library had some interesting inventory. The adventure continued, until over the past three days, we'd accumulated a pile of books for next month's reading challenge!

Tiny and Cute
Another Independent Free Library

 So first we shared books and then we took books. Our treasures included:

1.) Writer's Inc: A Guide to Writing, Thinking & Learning by Sebranek, Meyer, and Kemper - Writing
2.) The Work-Play Book Dictionary by Gates and Huber - Vintage Childrens
3.) Lunch Money and Other Poems About School by Carol Diggory Shields - Childrens Picture Book
4.) Henry IV Part One by William Shakespeare - Classic
5.) The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen - Young Adult
6.) Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus - Middle Grade
7.) Archie's Campfire Stories by Archie Comics - Middle Grade

Took Books
...with Tilly and Tango

8.) Paper Cut in China by Unknown - Childrens Nonfiction, Art
9.) The World of Richard Stine by Richard Stine - Art
10.) The Emerald Ring by Dorine White - Middle Grade

"Have your whole heart bent on a single purpose." ~ The Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Northern Oregon Coast: Sharing Books with Little Free Libraries

While camping at the Cannon Beach RV Resort with full hookup--which meant worry-free twinkle lights and unlimited country music on the radio--I set aside a day to map out Little Free Libraries in the area. First stop involved a coastal walk to downtown Cannon Beach.

An Early Morning on Cannon Beach
Tilly and Tango run amok.

Baby Seal Sighting

Haystack Rock

Cannon Beach Community Church

The next leg involved a car ride north on highway 101 alongside the beautiful Ecola Beach. Lots of traffic, pedestrians in flip-flops, saltwater taffy, and ocean air. Let me tell you, touring and hunting the streets for these cute doll-houses filled with books is a really fun way to spend an afternoon. 

Seaside, Oregon

 My friend drove while I read the map and described what I thought we were looking for...Do you see it? The picture shows it's painted white with a shingle roof. Is that it? That's it! Pull over! Then I'd tuck in a book--sometimes with a handcrafted bookmark inside--and snap a picture for the blog.

Gearhart, Oregon

Gearhart, Oregon

I love the sense of achievement. Check, check, and check. When my list was completed, we headed back to our site to kick up our own flip-flops, relax around the campfire, and roast a few marshmallows. Camping life resumed.

"The camp fell quiet." ~ from Burnout by Stacia Leigh

Thursday, August 01, 2019

August 2019 Reading Challenge: Self Reflection

August Reading Challenge: Self Reflection

My August reading challenge is about self-reflection since I've been feeling a bit lost as an author, my motivation and inspiration as arid and dusty as Central Oregon's high desert. It's a place where I've spent a lot of my summer, camping and being with family.

The High Desert of Central Oregon

Lake Billy Chinook
Culver, Oregon

I'm not complaining one bit, though, because it's a beautiful area. It lead me to see that even when the creative well may seem dry, there is still something beautiful to discover. So while I had many questions for myself--Why do I write? Who am I writing for? Should I give up? Do something different? Try again?--the high desert gave me my answer: look inside, restart, finish the book in a month, go all in, and treat myself with love and gelato!


Here's the Self-Reflection line up:

"That frown wasn't coming along." ~ ESPIALdesign

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Teaching Blackout Poetry to Kids

How awesome was today? Very awesome. I was invited to teach a fifth grade class about blackout poetry, and somewhat warily, I agreed. I used to be an art docent, but after a year off I felt out of practice with getting organized and engaging twenty plus kids. It's always a crap-shoot.

However, once I got the ball rolling, the kids listened! They seemed interested and attentive and that right there is more than half the battle. Not to mention, I had the help of Michael Nyers (@fade.into.a.blackout). He sent me an outline to get started, which I modified for the age of the audience and the time allotted for the lesson. I also gleaned some "how-to's" from Spark Creativity's blog: The Easy Guide to Blackout Poetry.

I had one hour, so I needed to keep the up-front talking to a minimum. Here are my notes:

A 1-Hour Blackout Poetry Lesson 

- Book pages
- Scratch paper to protect work space and to make notes
- #2 Pencil
- Staedtler Mars plastic white erasure
- Markers, colored pencils, crayons...
- Blackout Poetry Books for examples 

Robert Lee Brewer from Writer’s Digest says:“A blackout poem is when a poet takes a marker (usually a black marker) to already established text–like in a newspaper–and starts redacting words until a poem is formed. The key thing with a blackout poem is that the text, AND redacted text, form a sort of visual poem.” 
The process can also be called found poetry,redacted poetry, and even erasure poetry. 
It has a history that can date back to 1760, when Benjamin Franklin’s neighbor would make funny word associations between the two columns of text in the newspaper, calling them “Cross-readings.” 
Austin Kleon, author of Newspaper Blackout (copyright 2010), says:“Blackout poetry’s history looks less like a straight line and more like blips on a radar screen.” 
I wanted to recycle the proof copies of my YA books and was inspired by a community of blackout poets on Instagram, like Michael Nyers and Collette Love Hilliard. 
I carry a "blackout" travel bag and can create poems anytime I have to wait, like in an airport, riding the bus, a museum, the dentist's name it. I'm never bored. My bag contains:
- Proof book pages from Dealing with Blue and Burnout.
- A Mead Pencil Pouch with Prismacolor pencils, #2 pencils, a pencil sharpener that holds shavings, a hi-lighter, a black ultra-fine-tipped marker, and a Staedtler eraser.
- A compass.

- First skim the words on the page without reading for content. The idea is find words that catch your attention or inspire you in some way.
- Very lightly circle the words directly on the page. OR if preferred, write the words you find in order on another sheet of paper to keep track of them. 
- Go back and reread the chosen words to find a theme and fine tune your poem. Need connecting words like a, an, the, in, on, and…etcetera? Try to find them as letters within words.
- Boldly outline the words you do want with a marker and erase the pencil lines you don't want.
- Then, with a pencil, lightly sketch a picture, add shapes, or draw symbols that relate to the theme of your poem. Outline the lines you want to keep with marker. Maybe add arrows or flow lines to help reader follow the words of the poem (typically a reader reads from left to right, top to bottom).
- Last step, blackout the words you don’t want--and if you have a sketch, color it in-- using marker, colored pencils, paint, paper and glue, or other.  

Take fifteen minutes or less discussing notes and showing samples from the books. Allow forty-five minutes to work.

Other links on the topic:
John DePasquale of Scholastics - Blackout Poetry
Teachers Pay Teachers - Blackout Poetry: Make poetry fun!
Emily H. Vogel - A Middle Grade Lesson on Blackout Poetry (Grades 6-8)