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Why are Author-Illustrator School Visits So Important

Scholl visit

Children feel empowered in a world where they usually have no influence. By meeting an author/illustrator or relating to a character in a book, they see possibilities in themselves. When kids meet an author or illustrator, they are inspired that they too might be able to write or illustrate their own story. They feel empowered to make a difference and they are more inclined to WRITE and READ!

Statistics from

Alexas O’Neal is an author who created This statistic comes from a nationwide survey of over 600 teachers, librarians, administrators and parents.

Top Benefits of an author visit:

1 - Motivates students to read more (91%)

2 – Inspires creativity and expression (75%)

3 – Motivates students to write more (70%)

How to have an author/illustrator visit

•Who do I invite?
•How do I raise funds?
•How do I set up the visit and make it successful so that the children are influence to read and write even after the visit?
Things to think about before looking for an author.

Who is your Audience – are they children who read picture books, middle grade or are they adult readers?

What is your Budget – How much can you do to achieve your goal for the visit? Kids can get involved here too! This may determine if it will be an in-person visit or virtual. Local or out of state.

Who is your Support Team -  will you be doing set up yourself or do you have a team of people who can help? PTO? Other librarians and or teachers?

Links to find speakers

Author listings by state -

SCBWI Hawaii – “find a speaker” tab -

The Booking Biz Author list -

YA Authors list

Authors who do 15-20 minute free Skype visits

Penguin Authors who do skype visits

Skype an author network

How do I raise funds?

•In school Field Trip - Instead of a field trip you could have an author visit. For the low cost of a couple dollars from each student you could have a half day to full day of live entertainment and expose them to literature and art!

•Parent or Community Organization - You can request the PTO or FOL to raise funds for an author visit.

•Pledge Drive - Students could have a read-a-thon or write-a-thon pledge drive.

•Sponsorship from Local businesses - Banks and other businesses often have funds set aside for supporting the community.

•Share the cost – Share the expense of the author visit with with other libraries or schools in the area.

•Book sales - Work with a bookstore that would give you a discount and sell books at regular price. You can use the money you make to off set the cost of the author visit.

•Penny Drive - Children could run a penny drive. Children take pride in being able raise money for a visit!

•Creative Ideas - Other Ideas might include the kids making and selling Recipe books and or Calendars. You could use the author/illustrators book as your theme.

•Pizza night or Movie night - A paid fun night at the library or school.

Title 1 Funds- If your school qualifies you may be eligible to apply and put your funding toward an author/illustrator visit.

U.S. Department of Education:

Grant Opportunities https: //

•SCBWI Amber Brown Grant Any school may apply.
Submit Nov 1-April 15th, 2020

•Follett Challenge Deadline December 12th, 2019

•Target Grants- https: //
•Dollar General Literacy Foundation - - youth-literacy-grants

How do I make a successful author/Illustrator visit?

•Check with the author to find out what kind of program they will be presenting.
•Have the kids read the authors books ahead of time, kids are more enthused when they know the books ahead of time.
•Some authors have curriculum guides for their books. These usually have exercises and games that help the children get into their book’s world.
•Advanced book sales are a great way for kids to be able to see the author up close and get a book signed.
•If books can’t be signed ask for the author to bring bookplates for kids that order the book after the visit.
•Reserve a parking spot for the author.
•Have water available for the author
•Ask about dietary restrictions if you are providing snacks or lunch.
•Make sure teachers are also modeling good listening skills during the presentation.


Guinness Stout Cupcakes with Peppermint Macaroons

I just wanted to share the recipe that I found for the Guinness Stout Cupcakes that I made for St. Patricks day. They were so scrumptious and delicious. I was so pleased at the rise that I got out of the recipe and the chocolate ganache centers made them so full of chocolate deliciousness! 

I created these for kid friendly folks, by taking out the liquor in the ganache and buttercream. The Guinness in the cupcakes are baked so there is no alcohol left after it has been cooked. 

I made a half recipe and got the perfect dozen cupcakes. I used the left over ganache to make my fillings for the mint chocolate macaroons. 

The cupcake recipe is adapted from the Brown Eyed Baker. Her site is well worth looking at. There are many yummy recipes there.

Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes


For the Cupcakes:
1 cup Guinness stout
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoons salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Whiskey Ganache Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Irish whiskey

For the Baileys Frosting:
2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons Bailey’s Irish Cream


1. To Make the Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 cupcake cups with liners. Bring the Guinness and butter to a simmer in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Then cool slightly.

2. Whisk in the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sour cream on medium speed until combined. Add the Guinness-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat just to combine. Reduce the speed to low, add the flour mixture and beat briefly. Using a rubber spatula, fold the batter together until completely combined. Divide the batter among the cupcake liners using an ice-cream scoop. I find that I can get a more equal amount by using this method. Bake until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a rack.

3. To Make the Whiskey Ganache Filling: Put chocolate chips into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in microwave for a minute, then for 30 second intervals until warm. Pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a couple minutes and then, using a rubber spatula, stir it from the center outward until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey (or vanilla) and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped.

4. To Fill the Cupcakes: Using a 1-inch round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a large decorating tip), cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes, going about two-thirds of the way down. Transfer the ganache to a piping back with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

5. To Make the Baileys Frosting: Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until all of it is incorporated. Add the Baileys, (or vanilla) and increase the speed to medium-high and whip for another 2 to 3 minutes, until it is light and fluffy.

6. Using your favorite decorating tip, or an offset spatula, frost the cupcakes and decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Top with the chocolate mint macaroon. Store the cupcakes in an airtight container.

The chocolate mint macaroons recipe was inspired from “macaroons” by Paragon Books.

I also bought a macaron silicone mat to help keep a consistent size with the macaroons

Peppermint Macaroons


3/4 cup ground almonds

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 extra large egg whites (room temperature)

1/4 cup superfine sugar

1 tsp pepperment extract

green food dye


Place the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a food processor and process for 15 seconds. Sift the mixture into a bowl. Line a cookie sheet with your silicone mat or use parchment paper.

Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whip until holding soft peaks. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar to make a firm, glossy meringue. Beat in the peppermint extract and enough green food  coloring for your desired color.

Using a spatula, fold in the almond mixture into the meringue  one-third at a time. When all the dry ingredients are thoroughly in corporate, continue to cut and fold the mixture until it forms a shiny batter with a thick, ribbon like consistency.

Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip. Pipe 32-36 small circles onto the prepared baking sheet or the silicone mat. Tap the baking sheets firmly onto a work surface to remove air bubbles. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. This helps the meringue form a crust that will keep it’s shape when baked and give it it’s pretty legs. Preheat oven to 325 F./160 C.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and carefully peel the macaroons off the parchment or silicon mat, let cool completely before filling.


Chicken Squawk!

Just squawking around the chicken coop today!

I’m loving this wafer paper as wings and feathers. So fun!

Squawk squawk! Trouble at the hen house! ?

Here’s one of the chicken’s in all it’s painted glory! I also played with some Photoshop brushes. I’m trying to figure out how to make my imagery more flat for publication purposes.

Thanks for viewing the hen house!

Gluten Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies


Recipe is below if you want to skip my long drawn out explanation of why I chose to make a gluten free vegan cookie. 
I don’t talk about my health often, but I’ve seen some differences and have experienced some positive change from just eliminating certain things from my diet. I would be lying to say that it has been easy. Try being a baker and not being able to indulge in all the things that you bake!!! I’m hoping that I will be able to reintroduce these items back into my diet someday, but for now, I’m testing out all kinds of recipes, to see which ones I can alter to replace the crunchy, decadent buttery flavors that I am craving!!! 
For those of you who have known me for awhile, you know how much trouble I have had with excema. It started about 15 years ago when I decided to stop taking allergy shots that I had been taken for over a year. It was getting more and more difficult to go to the allergy specialist office regularly, and I really had not seen much results. Little did I know that it had actually been helping all along. 

My excema had gotten so bad that I couldn’t wear shorts or even short sleeve shirts and I would wake up in the middle of the night itching like a dog. It was and sometimes still can be so unpleasant! I’m still in the healing stages. Just last night I introduced orange juice and I had a   reaction. 🙁

So after many years of feeling the itch, seeing allergy specialist, and several dermatologist, I decided to try an elimination diet. I cut out everything except turkey, lamb, veggies (except tomatoes and potatoes), fruit (except citrus), herbal teas and honey. 
I had also been suffering from tightness in my shoulders and upper body and both my hands were completely numb when I woke up in the morning. In just a few days of being on the elimination diet I noticed that these things disappeared. I think that cutting out sugar had a huge part in this and maybe by eliminating things that I was sensitive too made the inflammation in my body disappear. I’m not a doctor, but I feel like food can really play a big part in how you feel! 
So after figuring out the things that I was sensitive to, I decided to leave them out of my diet for awhile. At least until my skin heals. (I used the app mySymtoms to keep my diary) 
Sorry for the long post to get to the recipe. I felt I should share as to why I’ve chosen to make a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie. Maybe some of you have had a similar experience, I would love to know that I am not the only one that has had to figure these things out. Modern medicine has its place, but figuring out what your own body needs and doesn’t need is something we should all do. 
I think it’s very tasty cookie and turned out much better than I had expected! Even my very picky 10 year old likes it! 
So here it is…
GF Vegan Chocolate Chip Recipe
Preheat oven to 375 F.
1 1/4 cups of oat flour
1 cup brown rice flour 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. potato starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
4 oz. organic coconut oil (melted)
4 oz. organic shortening (melted) 
3/4 cup sugar 
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tb flaxseed soaked in 5 Tb. water 
( I also added 2 Tb flaxseed chai and Cocoa mixture with the flax seed water mixture, but it’s not nessasary)
2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
Soak flax seed with water.
Combine the flours, potato starch, salt, baking soda, and xanthan gum in a bowl and mix with a whisk. 
In the kitchen aid or large bowl mix melted shortening, coconut oil, sugars and vanilla. Whisk in flaxseed and water mixture.  Stir in the flour mixture until combined. ( the more you mix the flour mixture in the chewers do less crunchy your cookie will be. This is from activating the xanthan gum, I personally like crunchy cookies, so I didn’t mix it too much.) 
If possible let dough sit an hour or two or refrigerate overnight. I couldn’t wait than long, so I went ahead and started baking immediately! 
I used an ice cream scoop to scoop out the cookies and I rolled them into a ball shape then flattened the into 2 1/2 to 3 inch cookies and placed about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 12-14 minutes. Cookies will be delicate straight out of the oven, so let them cool on the cookie sheet a couple minutes then transfer to a rack to cool. They may be kept in airtight containers for several days. 
This recipe was inspired from Alice Medrich’s chocolate chip cookies recipe. 

My Recent Submissions

My submission of a full colored handcrafted dummy booklet, 
SASE, a postcard with check boxes, and the manuscript. 
I recently submitted a finished picture book to several publishers. At the moment I do not have an agent, so I am responsible for all inquiries. It is not an easy task nor is it inexpensive. I spent a lot of time and energy researching, printing, and constructing my book dummy. I sent out 9 packages in the mail to various publishers. (9 doesn’t seem like a lot but when each package cost about $20 each, it starts to adds up!) I have received 4 of my packages back, 1 never reached the publisher, 2 with form letters, and one that I was very pleased with. It wasn’t a contract but it was a form letter with a personal note attached to it. I want to thank Al Krysan from Finney Company for taking the time to actually write something positive and constructive. Just a few personal notes from an editor or art director gives me a little hope that maybe someday I will be able to share my stories and illustrations. 
Personal note from Al Krysan, Finney Company.
And the form letters…
Boyds Mill Press enclosed the 2013 Highlights Children’s Writers and Illustrators workshop calendar. It was a nice addition to the form letter but, I’m not sure if it was for my enrichment or that my writing was so bad they thought I could use some help! I’ll assume it is for perfecting my craft of writing and illustrating. 🙂

The Adventures of Emery the Candy Man

The Adventures of Emery The Candy Man is available to purchase! This is a book that I produced with a professor,  Eileen E. Morrison from the School of Health Administration at Texas State University. 

Candy Man is a story that Eileen used to tell her little sister, Beth. When Beth grew up, she still remembered Candy Man and his many adventures. Eileen grew up too and now she teaches grown up children. She hopes you like her story.
Eileen has other text books that she has produced. Click here to purchase Eileen’s text books off of
I hope you will like The Adventures of the Candy Man. It will be available on Amazon in 5-7 days and on various other store online soon. 
I will try to get some fun free things to go along with the Candy Man story. Look for them in the future.

Elf Buddy’s Gingerbread Cookies

This was so much fun to create. I wanted to share where Buddy got the recipe for the cookies. They are called gingerbread cupids from the Martha Stewart cookbook. Recipe below if you would like my version of the “elf size gingerbread cookies recipe”. Martha has a similar recipe online. It is found here at Martha Stewarts gingerbread recipe. This one has ground pepper in it.
Amazon carries the micro mini cookie cutters  that I used for the itty bitty cookie shapes. And for the icing I used Wilton’s royal icing recipe.  The cookies only took about 3 minutes to cook. I iced the cookies first with what ever color I wanted then I dipped them in crystalized sugar. All the sprinkles should be found out your local grocery store, hobby lobby, Michael’s or any other craft shop.
Have fun baking! It’s not only cute but delicious!
Elf size Gingerbread Cookies:

2 sticks of butter

3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs

4 1/2 cups sifted flour
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 ground cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups molasses ( I use grandma’s molasses)
Cream butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until mixture is smooth. Sift together dry ingredients and gradually add them to the butter mixture, beating until well combined. Stir in the molasses and beat well. (The dough will be very gooey at this point) You may add extra flour if it is too sticky. Divide the dough into quarters and wrap in parchment paper that has been well floured. Chill the dough for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 375º
Make sure you only work with one of the dough quarters at a time. The dough does best when it is chilled. On a well floured surface, roll one dough quarter into 1/8th inch thickness. ( I will roll mine out onto a parchment paper and remove excess dough so that I don’t have to move the cookies before I bake them)
Using cookie cutters, cut the dough into desired shapes. Carefully place them on parchment-lined baking sheets. (you may need a thin metal spatula for this). Bake 8-10 minutes, until the edges just begin to color. (For Elf cookies bake for 3 minutes) Let cool on racks.
Parchment lined cookie sheets may be reused. Or look at purchasing silpats for baking on. They last through multiple use. I love mine.
Ice cookies with Royal icing made from Wilton Meringue powder.
Happy Baking! 🙂

I have been preoccupied with little goatlings lately, but I wanted to thank Helen Juhasz for nominating me a liebster blog award. She is a fellow illustrator. Check out her blog.

“The Liebster Award is given to loveable blogs with less than 200 followers to recognize worthiness and drive more readers to them…. and hopefully generate higher follower numbers.

I am super-grateful for this nomination and for anyone who appreciates my work! I met Helen through the 21-day Comment Challenge this past January, which was put on by Lee Wind, MotherReader and SCBWI. It has been exciting to communicate with other writers and illustrators.

As a recipient I need to share 5 “things” about myself. Hmm…
1. I live each day to the fullest and try to remind others to do the same!
2. I love drawing, painting and writing
3. Observing my children is a daily occupation…who knows a book may come out of it!
4. I milk Goats.
5. I’m a half Japanese/half German American with a Texas accent.

So here’s how it works:

“Liebster means “dearest” in German, and the award is intended to help up-and-coming blogs get the attention they deserve. As with any award, there is a bit of ceremony involved. In order to accept the award, we must do the following:

*  Copy and paste the award on our blog.
*  Link back to the blogger who gave us the award.
*  Pick our five favorite blogs with less than 200 followers, and leave a comment on their blog to let them know they have received the award.
*  Hope that the five blogs chosen will keep spreading the love and pass it on to five more blogs.”

Now, the fun part! I get to pass on this honor to the following 5 nominees:

1. Medea – Check out her blog! She is a Canadian mom raising bilingual children in Japan! She has some great information on literature. She also reviews kit lit that is related to Canada and Japan.

2. Diandra Mae – Is a friend, the IC for Houston SCBWI , and a wonderful Illustrator, blogger and busy mom! She shares and amazing amount of children lit information!

3. Lisa Medway – A fellow professor, friend and writer. Lisa and I met at the SCBWI Conference in LA 2011. She is such a delight!

4. Jerry Bennett – is a friend, the IC for Oklahoma SCBWI and amazing graphic novelist/illustrator. We met through the SCBWI conference in LA 2011. He is so fun to be around. Jerry recently won an award for Oklahoma Comic Creators event.

5. Larry Felder – is a fellow artist and friend who recently moved to Costa Rica. Larry shares how he paints any thing related to the beautiful surroundings he is living in. He also has Felder Gallery in Port Aransas, Texas where you can purchase his original artwork.

Thanks Ya’ll! Have a great Day!