New Year.

Updating Live Journal since Blogger refuses to let me comment under my google account. Go Figure! I do my posting on Facebook or on Pen and Ink Second Chances has been retitled Time and Forever.I wrote it as Susan B. James. It's due out January 29th, but if I don't hurry with the edits it may be later. My Facebook Author page is I'd better get to work.

Added Live journal to my amazon Authors page

Added Live journal to my amazon Authors page.  I hope this works, 

I am currently working on a mid grade chapter book called "Tasha the Magnificent" and an adult novel. Second Chances is the story of two women in their sixties – one widowed , one divorced, - who time travel from Los Angeles in 2012 to London in 1969. One finds an old love. One finds a new love.

Does your child enjoy writing? How can we link reading and writing in ways that will motivate kids?

How I got my kids to write.

       My sons did not enjoy writing.  They loved being read to. Once they could read on their own, Jim headed for comics. Chris preferred scary stories.
But they saw no point in writing.
       I wanted to change this. When they were little, they would tell me their stories and I would write them down. I wanted MORE stories. So I motivated them.
I told them I would pay them a penny for  every word they wrote in a story.  If they went back and reread and edited the story, they would be pad two cents a word instead of a peny.
.       Before I made this offer, Chris used to write in his school journal "We played a game. We ran." After I made this offer, He started writing longer and longer stories.  He got us to thirty five pages.  I owed him a lot of money. And I paid it gladly.  It was so much fun reading what he wrote.  When he was nine, he became my writing partner and we wrote Jamie's Dream which was finally published when he was twenty five.
         Jim's stories also became much longer and funnier. He grew into a wonderful natural sounding writer.  I love to read his posts on Facebook and his movie reviews.
I am so grateful to both of they for every word they ahave written.  It was worth every penny.

Marla Frazee Allyn Johnston discuss the process of Picture Books

Last night I went to a lecture and book signing at Once Upon a Time bookstore in Montrose.  Kris Kahrs (my fellow critique group member), and I were eager to hear Marla Frazee and her editor Allyn Johnston of Beach Lane Books discuss the process of creating a picture book.

Now I have heard MANY TIMES “Do not use much description in your picture book manuscript.”  When I saw them take turns explaining how “A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever” and “All The World” were created, I gained a far clearer understanding of the process. 

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever” had it’s origins in a thank you note Marla wrote Allyn’s parents, after Allyn’s and Marla’s sons spent the weekend with them.

If you close your eyes and have someone read the text to you, there is a cute little ‘thank you’ story – not particularly memorable, but cute.   The pictures tell an entirely different story.  When you put the two stories together, you have a funny, delightful read. In this case, Marla was both author and illustrator. (With a lot of input from Allyn)

The visual that came to me while they spoke was two hands woven together finger to finger.   The words were a perfect story. The pictures were a perfect story.  Neither repeated the other. 

The other book the spoke of was “All The World” written by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee and edited by Allyn Johnston.  This book is a poem: sparse rich and beautiful.    There are no words of description in the poem. It would be a beautiful read, just as a poem.  Marla made a world and a journey from the words.  The pictures also tell a complete story.  Again hands clasped and the resulting creation is amazing.  Both of these books are Caldecott Honor Books.

So I am now going back to my picture book manuscripts and scrutinizing every word of description. I feel I will contribute to a stronger picture book if I do not do the illustrator’s job. I will believe that if the words are good, the editor will find it worthy of illustration.

I will be using several picture book first lines in my next first lines blog.  The blog I just posted contains first lines from books suitable for boys.

Please stop by if you have time.


When I was young (dinosaur days), we used to make May Baskets on May 1st.
We would take and old shoe box, decorate it with crepe paper and ribbons, make a handle, fill it with flowers and then hang it on a neighbor;s door. We would ring the bell and run away. I have no idea why we did this, but it was fun


I went to Unity Church of Hawaii this morning with my sister Kelly. Lovely servgice. My favorite part was when they sang the "Let there be peace on earth" song.  The song is usually sung "may this be my solemn vow/" I never liked that. It was too much like asking for a testing situation. Back in 1992, I subsitiuted 'joyous' for 'solemn'. This was the first time I heard a congregation sing 'joyous vow'. It made me so happy.

We are staying in Kailua. Not only is it the most beautiful beach in the world, it has shade trees! My idea of lying on the beach is is to watch the ocean from the shade. I found a lovely beachfront property for sale. only3.3 million......