I Appreciate My Fans

It is unlikely that my fans will ever come together in an event like a soccer game or a concert. The private nature of being a writer means that I have to do more to earn and keep your loyalty.  I pledge to do everything in my power to make you feel great about being one of my fans, and if you’re not a fan yet, I invite you to become one.

Rewards for My Fans

I’ve earned loyal fans by writing books that address children’s needs in unique ways. I created a special Creative Edition of The Monster on Top of the Bed. It empowers children to write their stories directly on the Italian-ice-cream-parlor-delicious artwork of Manuela Pentangelo.

I give away digital downloads of some of my work for children and adults, including the Creative Edition of The Monster on Top of the Bed.  A printable .pdf file lets parents and teachers help children practice before the child writes in the printed book.  The CD/small booklet version of the book reads the story in several languages. I make the soundtrack of this CD available for free to any of my fans when they have purchased a book or CD.

I’ll do whatever I can to convince my publishers to provide resources that fans will enjoy.  Just let me know what would make you feel cherished.

My Five-Year Goals

My five-year goals include having two-to-five New York Times best-selling picture books. I appreciate your spreading the word about my writing and anything you can do to help motivate publishers to print large runs.

Help Me Help Children

If these strategies resonate with you, I’d appreciate your help.  If they don’t feel right to you, please use my contact page to express your thoughts and feelings.

  1. If you happen to know of a publisher that you feel would want to publish one of my books, please let me know. I need to recruit publishers for the books that you see listed under Polished Manuscripts.
  2.  If you have a favorite manuscript that you would like to see published first, please let me know. I need to polish the books that you see itemized on this website under Beta Manuscripts and submit them to publishers.
  3. If you happen to know someone who might like a visit, please let me know. I will visit schools and other organizations to teach students and adults writing techniques.  These may be (1) In-person visits; (2) Virtual Visits (webinars); or (3) telephone conferences.
  4. If you are a social media type person and are interested in helping me get the word out, please let me know. I need to use social media more.
  5. If you someone who might be interested in doing a story about me or any of my current or forthcoming books, please ask them to contact me. You will help me to reach out to bloggers, radio shows, TV shows and other media.

To reach out to me, please use my contact page.

To Buy The Monster on Top of the Bed

Useful web sites for authors

These are websites that I have found helpful. I will add more from time-to-time.


Adding Fun & Interest

The Onomatopoeia Dictionary at WrittenSound.com – Great for finding how to express a sound in written American English.

http://adjectivesstarting.com/ – When I need an adjective that starts with a specific letter, but I can’t think of the right one, I use this site. Perhaps you’ll also find it useful.

Power Thesaurus – This is my favorite site for finding just the right word.  Recently, I used to find “yearned.”

Behind the Name.com – Provides meanings of names plus lots of other useful tools for writing, such as anagrams.

Nameberry.com – Provides meanings of names plus forums for discussion.  When you click the Search Name or Phrase, the search box includes a field that allows search by the meaning of a name.

www.ourbabynamer.com – Interesting insights into names including numerology.  For examples follow these two links to learn about the name Cactus and the name Jade.

http://www.enchantedlearning.com – Many useful resources including discussions about the solar system and a section on the colors of objects.  e.g. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/colors/blue.shtml


OneLook.com – An aggregator of dictionaries that I use to locate the exact definition I’m seeking.

Grammar Notes and Games – An interesting site, with many helpful graphics.

FollowThatPage.com –  https://followthatpage.com/ – A superb (and mostly free) resource for alerting you when a web page has changed. Use it follow the pages of an editor or agent. When they say they are open or closed for queries, you’ll be advised.  Also, you may use it to follow pages on this website.

Zamzar.com – Allows you to upload a file and produce a high-quality .pdf that will not reduce the resolution of images like Microsoft Word does when you use Word 2016’s “Save As .pdf” feature. (The site also has many other conversion options.) This site may be helpful to you if you’re not concerned that placing the file on another server will result in plagiarism.


Rhymezone.com – A useful resource for finding rhyming words.

Rhymes.net – Another useful resource for finding rhyming words.

HowManySyllables.com – If you’re not sure how many syllables are in a word, or which syllable is stressed, check your dictionary or this site.  Here you can enter a sentence or phrase too.



Grammarly.com – I use this regularly. It unintrusively helps me to find mistakes, including those that I habitually make such as misspellings, forgetting to add a comma, and passive writing.

Paperrater.com – This is a free service.  I’m still working on how to use it, but my first impressions are excellent. If you use it extensively, I suggest donating to them.

Ginger.com – This is a useful, affordable, somewhat limited tool.  I have a problem using it with systems that have Outlook.com implemented in Windows 7.  The add-in sometimes causes an attachment to be deleted. I also find it tedious to use as it makes me wait as it scans a document. On subsequent scans, it may not remember to ignore items that I have told it to ignore.  Sometimes, particularly with poetry, it suggests changes that I do not want.

The Business of Writing


If you’re interested in selling more books to libraries, check out these sites:


Query writing

Picture Books

I have come to the conclusion that query for a children’s picture book should be the equivalent what I would say to an agent or publisher at a cocktail party or a pitch session. Short, and interesting enough to make the editor or agent feel compelled to read it. If my current strategy works well, I will write out a checklist and link to it here.



Query Letter Check List – Per Janet Reid.  This is a useful checklist for a novel.

Query Shark – This collection of critiqued queries by Literary Agent Janet Reid lends quite a bit of insight into how to construct a query for a novel. I like this resource so much, I’d love to submit to Janet. Unfortunately, at this point in my career, I’m not interested in writing the material she is excited about representing.

Other ways to make a digital dummy

One reason for making a dummy is to determine if you have a viable concept.  Creating a dummy can help you to visualize when you have too many or two few pages. It can help you to communicate your concept to a publisher. It can help you to decide if you want to self publish.

Depending upon your experience with software like Word, InDesign and Microsoft Publisher and the amount of control that you want to have, one of these options may be the best say to create a dummy.

Create a booklet in Word.

Create a booklet in Microsoft Publisher.

Create a booklet in InDesign – From the 12×12 forum – this option assumes that you have already created all of your artwork.

Download a Word Document to Make a Picture Book Dummy

I have found many wonderful resources for creating picture book dummies, but I have never found a Word document.  I built one.  It’s a complicated process that involves using overlaying objects, but once it is made it is easy to use.

You can easily make an attractive cover by dropping in your own illustration.

You may easily make an attractive cover by dropping in your own illustration.


Simply copy your text and replace my text.

Simply copy your text and replace my text.


You may easily change pictures and text if you follow the directions.

You may easily change pictures and text if you follow the directions.

It’s my pleasure to post my Word document, which you may use and modify for your own use.

You may distribute freely, but do not make any changes to it and distribute the changed file.

You may not charge a fee for distributing this file.

If you want to modify this for your own use, that’s okay.

If you do make modifications, please send me a copy, and explain the changes that you’ve made.

If I incorporate those changes, I will give you credit for making them.

To download the Word document, click here.

Marketing Resources for Writers

This website is a searchable database that collects Tweets from editors and agents with the #MSWL hashtag. http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/

For obtaining feedback:

For Twitter Parties like #PBPitch:  Finding Favorites:

Here are some tips that were posted on Facebook:  “You may also get a list of anyone’s tweets, including your own, in any given contest by going to the top right-hand corner of the Twitter page and searching the contest hashtag and the person’s Twitter handle (e.g., #ContestName @JaneDoe). This is really helpful in keeping track of your tweets during and after the contest (you have them all in one place/page and can see how each did). Retweets won’t show up (unless the Twitter handle and contest name are both in the body of the email, which is usually not the case when retweeting pitches). Anyone can do this, including agents.”

Another great one is looking at the agent’s Twitter page and then clicking on their “favorites”. For example, my agent Jessica Sinsheimer, if you click on her “favorites” and scroll down to 6/24, you’ll see all the PB’s that she liked.  If you do this for all the agents who participated, you can get a good feel for what kind of stories appealed to them.

Source: http://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=76313.msg959869#msg959869