Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Camp Story Time

Such a cute barnyard theme at Creations Childcare - Acton / Granbury
On June 20 & 27, I was invited to read to the Summer Camp Kids at Creations Childcare, Granbury! Thank you Brooke Reimer & owner Stephen Reinke for inviting me to your centers! The children were awesome - I love when they all start singing and joining in! After the kids and I sang our hearts out to both Muffin books, I was able to take some time and talk to the school-age kids about the writing process and answer many questions they had about being an author .... it was loads of fun! And .... I got to see one of my Texas friends -- BROOKE!

Showing them some illustrations

Asking the school-aged kids which book they liked the best ...
I think What's In the Corner? won!

Answering questions about Muffin

Me & Miss Brooke!!!
It was great to see her!!!!!

Just a reminder ...

The Read for Rancho Event will be held July 17 in Granbury
I took a little drive to see where the Fundraiser will be held
and here is the Boys & Girls Club - Decker Gym
600 West Bridge Street
Granbury, TX
For more information, please visit the Read for Rancho Facebook page

If you would like me to come to your School, Childcare Facility, or Learning Center,
please contact me here or at

If you would like to donate to the Read for Rancho Fundraising Event please contact me at the above email address.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Read for Rancho ....

Children's Book Benefit / Fundraiser

On May 16, I was sitting in my living room while the skies around Fort Worth grew ominous ... a spring storm was upon us. But this time was a little different, the TV weatherman was on continuously warning us of impending tornadoes to the west, south, and east of Fort Worth! In Fort Worth, we had a pretty good soaking of rain and some lightening, thunder, small hail and wind, but nothing like the surrounding cities were enduring. We later found out that that one of the tornados was an EF-4 and six people perished. Many tornadoes touched down that day ... many lives were changed ...

When Brandy Herr emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I'd be interested in participating in a Fundraiser for the devastated Rancho Brazos community in Granbury, I immediately said YES! And the next thing was ... WHAT CAN I DO!? I'm going to be reading one of my books along with a few other children's authors (including Brandy) at the event and I'm also working hard on getting things donated for a raffle for the event!

Here is the link to the Facebook Page ... please take a moment to come like the page and show your support:

I'd like to take this opportunity to personally INVITE all my friends in the Fort Worth area to come on out to the Read for Rancho event! It'd be awesome to have your support!

The Fundraiser will be
 Wednesday, July 17, from 5 - 6pm 
 Boys and Girls Club
600 West Bridge Street, Granbury, TX  76048
If you are in the area and would like to donate new or gently used children's books for the Community Center please email me at and we'll figure out how you can get the books to me.

If you are an author and would like to donate an autographed copy of your works for the raffle, you can also contact me at and we'll discuss how best to get the donation to me.

Finally, if you are a business and would like to donate a gift card or an item for the raffle -- once again, contact me at

Please pass this information along to anyone you feel may be interested in participating.  I'd also like to thank 96.7 fm WBAP for interviewing Brandy live on the air on Thursday!

Trees damaged by the tornado on May 16, 2013
Taken Thursday, June 20 -- Granbury, TX

Thanks for stopping by and please consider a donation to this devastated community!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


"I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because sometimes I type so fast, I don't even make sense to myself!"

Lake George
How did we become the people we are today? Do you remember the things that shaped your childhood? Every time I go back to my hometown, Whiting, IN, I'm surrounded by those things that bring back wonderful memories. On my last visit, a few weeks ago, I once again visited and took pictures of a place that truly was special to me and to many of my friends ... we'd skip rocks, cut cattails, pick flowers, catch bugs, watch frogs, and ice skate there in the winter ...  Sometimes, when I needed a quiet spot to write or think, I'd go to this special place and sit on the train tracks and watch the sun sparkle on the water, or the tall grasses dancing in the breeze. Were the times simpler? Maybe ... but nature is still around us everyday - the sky, the trees, the flowers, bugs ... sometimes you just walk on by it - but it's there. I was lucky when I was little, there were things right outside my door, but a truly wonderful place was really close, all I had to do was walk down to the end of my block and there it was ...

In my first two books, The Life of Bud & A Simpler Time, I share with children and parents my love of nature ... I'd like to share with you where that love began.

Where It All Began ...
This is the house where I grew up
on Atchison Avenue.
It was built by my grandfather
Paul Demkovich who was a bricklayer.
When I was really little, my dad would tell us
we could only ride our bikes to the
pole & back!  I couldn't wait to go
past the pole!

My hometown is surrounded by three lakes -- Wolf Lake, Lake Michigan (yes, I lived less than 10 blocks from one of the Great Lakes!) and right at the end or our street is Lake George. I am really grateful for having grown up in a small town, built by industry, but also surrounded by very peaceful, beautiful places. It gave me balance; and gave me many entries in the journal I kept as a child; and, to this day, many wonderful memories. I believe the lake is even a more beautiful place today than when I was a child!

This is what I discovered once I got to go PAST the pole! This super cool wonderland at the end of my street.  It was nature in all it's glory. I would bring home leaves and different plants and press them in waxed paper and place them between encyclopedias in our basement! We'd collect rocks, make mud pies, catch tadpoles and grasshoppers ... it was heaven to me!
We'd bring shovels in the winter and clear away snow on the ice and pretend we were Olympic Ice Skaters! It was really beautiful, fun & cold skating on the lake!

The swans off in the distance! 
For some years now, there is a mating pair of swans on the lake!
LOVE THEM! There were many ducks and geese there when I was little.
This path used to be where the train tracks were and trains would be pulling into the Federated Metals Plant! It was cool to put coins on the tracks and have them get squished by the train. The plant is no more and I'm glad that this path is there now, it connects to miles of bike paths in the area and it is just gorgeous to walk along! The trees and all the birds singing just make me smile! It was such a pretty day that taking a walk on this path just brought back MANY great childhood memories ...
This is just a glimpse of my childhood that I wanted to share with you! Growing up next to a place that was full of new things blooming all the time definitely had a huge influence on me and I hope that that love of nature does shine through in my books and my writing!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a small piece of  MY ROOTS!

If you would like me to come to your school to read one of my books, The Life of Bud or A Simpler Time, and assist your students in setting up a Science Journal -- please contact me at for more details.

Please click the link above or below to find out more information about Grammarly
"I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because sometimes I type so fast, I don't even make sense to myself!"

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Camp Fun ...

On my way to Little Elm
Across Lake Dallas
Welcome CAMPERS!!!

Robin's Nest Montessori School
 Little Elm, TX
  June 13, 2013
   Summer Camp
I met Robin Whitt at a Vendor Fair in Little Elm, TX about a year ago ... she was thoroughly excited to be opening up her very own Montessori School ... a dream she always had! Miss Robin contacted me in April of this year, and invited me to be a part of her Summer Camp Program, I was thrilled! Her Montessori School is gorgeous and the kids were really warm and welcoming!  This week, the theme just happened to be Music and Movement ... so the MUFFIN books were a BIG HIT!  Thanks kids for singing along! Thanks Robin for having me! And, YES ... I have that great chair behind me and I'm sitting on the floor ... where reading a book is the MOST FUN for me!
What's In the Corner? What could it be?
I hope it's nothing very scaaaarrry!
What's In the Corner?  hmmmmmmmm ...

Could it be sock monkey?
You'll just have to read it ... to find out!

Robin Whitt (owner) and ME!
If you are in the Little Elm area and looking for a great school,
check out her Montessori School!

Following is the link to Robin's Nest Montessori School's FB page!

If you would like me to come to your school,
feel free to email me at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


A few months back, I was asked to send my bio information to George Rogers Clark High School, my alma mater to be considered to speak at the 2013 Commencement. I was chosen to deliver the Commencement Address, and it could not have been more fun and rewarding! My "words of wisdom" to the Class of 2013 were .... Never Give Up, Always Challenge Yourself, and Always Try Your Best. I used real - life stories and some humor to address the Class of 2013.
"I had speaker's block ... which could be worse
than writer's block, because if I stood up here
and said nothing - it might be awkward"
AND yes ... they laughed!
 I was glad to see some familiar faces from my high school days .... Mr. Montalbano, Mrs. Pariso, and Mrs. Mckinley (aka Weiss) -- was 1982 really 30 years ago -- standing next to these 3 made it feel like it was only yesterday!
Mrs. McKinley, Mr. Montalbano, ME, Mrs. Pariso
Clark Pioneers Gymnasium
The new principal, Mr. Wilson, who is really very cool, gave us a tour of the school and not much changed -- except the Cafeteria looks like a restaurant! (but missing those STELLAR FRENCH FRIES which are banned now!) and the Library and many classrooms are FULL of computers (instead of manual typewriters and notebook paper!) ... and they are even getting Smartboards installed over the Summer! The pool is still there and I remember all of us trying to come up with reasons why we couldn't swim that day--who schedules SWIMMING as the first period class when you're in high school! And the gymnasium used to have this rubbery floor substance, that if you fell on it, you would get the nastiest BURN on your skin! It now has a beautiful wooden floor and looked as good as it did 30 years ago when I was keeping stats for the boys basketball team and twirling my baton for the basketball half-time shows! Here are a few pictures from my journey back home ... I would not be where I am today without the skills and encouragement from some super special High School Teachers!
The Band Room .... spent many hours here
listening to the band and getting ready for
Football games for twirling!

My mom & her friend Helen Furto-they've
                                                                     been friends since 1st grade! So glad they
                     were there!

Laine Kaminsky giving
                                                                                              us last minute

"I hope you see and experience many amazing things in your life --
never give up, always challenge yourself, always try your best, and
you WILL find your passion!"

My empty chair while I spoke!
Thought this was an interesting picture that was taken!                                                        

Finished ....
Congrats Class of 2013! and Good Luck!

The school gave us plaques from the Class of 2013 - very special!

Congratulations ...
 or as we did on stage ...
          we started coming up with a word from every
          letter of the alphabet ... Awesome, Beautiful, Congrats, Dandy, Excellent, etc!

ME and Principal Wilson!

I gave GRC a copy of my books! Was very special to be
able to give them What's In the Corner? Since it released
June 4, 2013!

 I enjoyed my time in Indiana. I will share more pictures of Whiting and my adventure back home soon.
I have not figured out how to post the audio of my speech; I may put the transcript out here another time.

Thank you again--George Rogers Clark High School and the class of 2013--it was great to speak to you and your kind words after graduation were very much appreciated!

GO YOU PIONEERS!!!  Let's See You Fight, Fight, FIGHT!

If you would like me to speak to your classroom about writing, please contact me at

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Career Day

Do you remember when you were in Kindergarten? Many people would ask you what you wanted to be when you grew up! The kids at M.G. Ellis Primary School in Fort Worth were asked that question on Thursday, May 30th for their career day .... Pre-schoolers and Kindergarteners donned hats showing the occupations they dream about becoming as adults. I was there with an EMT, nurse, police officer, and many other speakers talking to the kids about future careers. The kids were awesome and I had a wonderful time telling them about being an author and also about illustrating books. I spoke to about 400 kids in about 3 hours! Thank you Carrie Kinzer for inviting me and Mrs. Cordray for allowing me to speak in your beautiful library!

Explaining about illustrations and writing about their
Summer experiences

Every school librarian's DREAM library ....
one that is large and has a stage!
Simply a beautiful space!!!!!

Story time ....

One of the classes! They are so cute!

Their librarian, Mrs. Cordray, gave me her squirrel!!

 Teachers, if you'd like me to come to your school for story time, career day, or a workshop
please contact me at