Friday, September 12, 2014


Sometimes, when you're least expecting it, the world delivers an opportunity.



The best way to predict the future is to create it.

I'm in,

All in

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SCBWI - Drink the Kool Aid

I recently attended the SCBWI National Conference in Los Angeles.  From the moment you hit the ground in L.A. it's go time.  You're almost guaranteed to meet up with other conference goers on the Supershuttle ride from the airport to the hotel. Without even looking through the van's window you know you're not in Kansas anymore.

Creative people, for the most part, work alone in isolated studios or writing spaces.  It's a rare opportunity that we're given a chance to socialize with others unabashedly about what's in our heads.  Now in the presence of an audience who gets us, unlike our family and friends who may feign that they're interested in how we get into the space to write a specific character, we're with our tribe.

If you're a writer or illustrator, who's not familiar with SCBWI, my recomendation is join.  Drink the Kool-Aid and become part of this community that nourishes the creative soul.

Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser started a not of profit organization known as The Society for Childrens Book Writers and Illustrators in 1971. When they walk onto the stage on the morning of day one (with an audience of 1200+) so many feelings are bouncing around the room; respect, admiration, gratitude and appreciation all making the air in the ballroom electric.

The rock star line up of the faculty reels us in even further, as we chug more SCBWI Kool Aid. We're anticipating what our favorite authors and illustrators are going to share with us over the next three days.  It's too much, my head is about to explode, which is all timed perfectly to the music and marching of the faculty across the stage. (holds lighter up over my head)

You know you've made the "write" decision to invest in yourself.

Meg Rosoff raised the bar of the conference from the start.  She told us when you write for children you have the power to change lives.  She continued in showing us how faults are powerful. Meg may have dubbed herself the queen of weird, but after her speech I could have gone home completely and utterly satisfied.

Everyone comes to this conference with different agendas and needs.  SCBWI offers agents, editors, industry news, workshops, critiques, speakers and networking opportunities that allows you to customize your conference experience.

Judy Schachner shared her experience where she had to "Run for your life she's got the rabies."  Luckily, Skippy Jon Jones didn't get the rabies. I fell in love with Judy Schachner's collages and plan to invite friends over to work on our own colleges or vision boards sharing coffee and conferrence notes when we get home. 

I fangirled Stephen Chbosky (Perks of being a Wallflower) and Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) during the first breakout session with no other intention but to be inspired by greatness.  They didn't let me down.  I took away techniques in screenplay writing that I've been using this week revising scenes of my WIP. 

Justin Chanda is smart, really smart.  I feel good about the world knowing he's one of the experts bringing books to kids.

I sat in on Amy Nichol's panel.  Amy is a writer from Arizona that I met last year at the L.A. conference.  She was selected to be part of the class 2K14, which is made up of debut authors. Amy's book, Now That You're Here comes out in December.  The sequel,  While You Were Gone is out in 2015.  The panel was very informative about group marketing techniques.
Class of 2K14

Sharon Flake was my surprise discovery at this conference.  Her heartfelt story spilled across the stage as she shared her honest journey as a writer.  I can't wait to read her work, starting with The Skin I'm In.

Aaron Becker rocks as a storyteller, maybe not so much as a singer.

Maggie Stiefvater is a writer, thief and artist. Not to mention fellow equestrian.  She incorporates her childhood horse stories into her novel, The Scorpio Races. Write what you know.
Maggie Stiefvater

I don't think you can say the conference was winding down when the last speaker was JUDY "FREAKING' BLUME!

The faculty, scheduled speakers and events are amazing no doubt.  But SCBWI brings together people in this industry in ways that are equally as important as the inspiration, industry and craft.

Deb Peters, my roomie who I met at an LA conference years ago, brought her new book cover and we celebrated her success!

Deb Peter's creates a multi path young reader version of the classic Three Musketeers

Deb working on her next novel.

I got to jump up and down in the lobby full of joy with Ingrid Sundberg in honor of her first book, All We Left Behind/ Fall 2015.  Once we settled down from all the jumping and squealing, it started all over again for her second set of big news this year, her engagment !

Ingrid Sundberg is also part of the Fearless Fifteeners

SCBWI provides so many levels to help me achieve my goals as a writer and illustrator.

Arizona represented at Old Italy Party

The journey I'm on as a writer/illustrator is richer due to SCBWI. 

And these crazy kids from Minnesota 
My friendships I've met through SCBWI nourish my soul.

Drink the Kool Aid

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Show Don't Tell

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

A favorite deli at the Scottsdale Quarter serves Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars.  I saw them in the display case and the feeling of home and my mom took over.  Before my diet or friends knew any better we were shaing one before our salads were even delivered.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Sometime in the 80's I'm pretty sure my mom invented chocolate chip cookie bars as a way to keep us from eating all the cookie dough before she had time to bake them.  That or to save on the amount of time she had to run the oven during the summer. 

My mom's Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars are used in my current Work in Progess to demonstrate the feeling I felt while standing in line at that deli. 

***I'll understand if you think your mom invented Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars too.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Artwork Inspired by Children's Literature

It's tough to hold a Child,
But it's a Lovely Thing to do.


Pigeon Books by Mo Willems 



Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Strega Nona by Tommie DePaola


Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

My daughter related to the love she has for her dogs


Judy Moody official club member.

Writing for children is a no brainer.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Finding your Story

My journey as a writer continues to open up in front of me like a kalidescope.  Just when I think I'm seeing the most beautiful display of color, I turn the dial a smidge and an entirely different reality is before me.

My writing is the same, in the sense that I've studied my craft, revised my work and I feel it's the most wonderful story.  Then I have a new lesson that changes what I've written.  Making the dialog real, characters more fully developed, and the plot stronger.

In workshops, books about writing, SCBWI conferences, and critique groups certain catch phrases are thrown around. 

Show Don't Tell




Tell Your Story


There is something very frustrating about the way I learn.  I can't just see these words and make the changes.  I have to live the words for them to actually take root in my brain.  (Sorry mom, it's always been like this for me.) 
You would think that working on a novel for a few years would be enough to know that you're telling your story? (duh.)   I'm from the thick headed school of learning, so it takes more than this for me to get these messages. 
My YA contemporary fiction piece began as a series of short stories that I pieced together.  It became a character driven story about friendship.  I continued to revise and work on the plot line of the story.  It needed something more to make it work.  I added the perfect event and the story fell in line on my white board.
I received critiques at conferences.  Loving my characters, voice, humor but questioned the plot.  I would go home and cross reference my plot line. Making adjustments.


My "Ahhhh Haaa Moment" was Coming


At the SCBWI Summer Conference 2013, I was looking forward to my critique with a well known agent.  When I left the critique, I felt sick.  She told me my story was not focused on the correct plot point.  It wasn't working.  In the back of my head I knew she was right.  But, I couldn't hear it over the praise I had been recieving.
I submitted the same piece at the AZ regional conference, three months later.  This time the agent who critiqued it, was the same that I was assigned to "shadow" all day, and she repeated exactly what the one in LA said.  I was fortunate to be sitting with this agent all day, and she was kind enough to share her expertise with me.  (I should say, this agent isn't exactly known for sugar coating things- making for a very tough day)  I was so thankful for this opportunity- it was without a doubt a turning point for me.
My funny, character driven story of friendship was simply my time to get to know my characters.  Everything that I had written up to this point was simply an exercise in character development.

Character Driven, each one has their own story.
The light-hearted, comedic, totally commercial writer that I thought I was, no longer existed.  I was introduced to my story that day.
What I forgot to mention above was what the event was that I added to my story.  It is personal. It is reality based.  When I was in high school two students, athletes, popular boys walked out onto the ice of Lake Michigan and drown.  They were caught under the ice until spring.  This changed everything at our school, in our small town, and the lives of everyone at my school was touched by this tragic accident.

Huffington Post published amazing pictures of the ice on Lake Michigan, like the scene that attracted the two boys to explore many years ago.
All these years later, I hadn't given too much thought about the actual event.  When I was creating teenage characters and events for my book it seemed like a good climax.  However, I added this accident without actually revisiting those feelings from so many years ago.

I'm writing fiction, not non-fiction so exact details weren't necessary. (Right?)
When both agents told me my story was based on these boys and how it affected the characters around them.  My story was born.  This story has been in me all along.
It hasn't been an easy process for me.  Somedays I sit with memories and I don't write a single word. On days like this,  I'm at best able to record an emotion or feeling.  Other days I create the story for my characters. The next day, I might change it all.  But, EVERYDAY I feel the weight of this story in my heart and in the pit of my stomach.

The writing isn't easy


The writing isn't fun


The writing is important, like breathing.

When it's all said and done, I hope my story makes it into the hands of a teen who's feeling the loss of a classmate, boyfriend or best friend. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Desert Picks you

In 1981 my mom was transferred to Phoenix Arizona.

It took some time for desert vegetation to grow on me.
Outdoor lockers, walking to school in 100+ degree heat, and every house had a swimming pool.  This was my first glimpse of desert life.                                 I quickly scampered back to Michigan, to my old school, the one with my friends and indoor lockers, where I could continue to hide my lack of swimming abilities, disguised during the months of snow.

Fast Forward.  I have been living in Arizona since 1985.  It wasn't love at first sight.  I think, at best it's a love-hate relationship. 

The mountains that surround the Valley of the Sun change colors and shape based on the time of day and season, providing some of the most amazing, burning sunsets you'll ever encounter.  You should know, to drive anywhere, you have to go through those shape shifting mountains.  For people like me who are faint of heart, and worry about falling off the edge of a twisty mountain road to their fiery death, this is a problem.  I'm essentially trapped in the Valley of the Sun, which sounds like paradise, poor girl.

Sunsets san Snow....keeps me happy

Snakes, lizards, scorpians, tarantulas, giant poisenous frogs, gila monsters, owls, vultures, bobcats, javelinas, coyotes and mountain lions.  Yes, mountain lions.  All are alive and well in Arizona.  I would love to take a naturalist's view on this wildlife, they were here first, and we can all live together in peace.  VETO, I've had personal experience with ALL the creatures listed.  Yes, three encounters with mountain lions.  I will tell you, a lion that is not behind a zoo wall is never a comforting experience.

Gila  Monster, appropriately named.  I've had the "lucky" opportunity to meet one.

Three up close and personal experiences with a mountain lion.

The vegetation takes time to get used to.  Quickly replace lush green lawns with desertscape, that is the environmentally correct choice in the desert.  Rocks of all colors are available to adorn your yard.  Cacti is the shrub of choice. If you are ever lucky enough to have over 15 mature mesquite trees in your yard, you will understand the pain of "many seasons of crap," that fall from these trees.  Not to mention, the pods will attract small animals, which attract larger animals and you too can witness the circle of life- JOY

A whole new skill set needed for yardwork.  How to weed?

These Prickly Pear paddles are sold in the produce section at the grocery store.

Back to school in August.  This means inside recess for over the first month as temperatures max out at 120 degrees. Parents melt outside in the pick-up line waiting for their children to be released at the hottest part of the day.  Plus, the irony of summer colds due to the confined children.

True, you can bake cookies on your dashboard in your car.

It's also important to illustrate something I learned while in college.  Anyone who has/had a parking pass to lot 59 at ASU will appreciate this piece of information.  Your Keds will melt straight through and the bottoms of your feet will blister as you walk across this enormous parking lot of bubbling, molten tar.

Living in the Mohave desert has been a challenge. Somewhat different than those who experience months of shoveling snow to get to your car.  We too, have learned to co-exist with our extreme temperatures. 

I now know to seek shade in parking lots.  How important air conditioning is.  Sunscreen is not a suggestion.  Taking a cooler with you to the grocery store (five minutes from your house,) is necessary if you're buying ice cream.  Never pull off the road during a flash flood or a haboob.  Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. Don't buy chocolate from May-September.  All outdoor activities in warm month's happen before 8:00a.m. or after 6:00p.m.

Swimming pools are a must have (even if you don't swim.)  Bringing your body temperature down, during the summer, is serious business. To do so, requires a quick dip into the water a number of times each day.  Bugging out to SoCal each summer is what Zonies do.

With the above information, it's clear that no one would choose to live here.  Where temperatures can melt the shoes you wear, crazy prehistoric looking animals wait to eat you, and no one is native here. (Correction... MY daughter is native)  It becomes clear that the desert picks you. 
Arizona Indigenous Creature, quite adaptive to her environment.

I have built a beautiful life in Arizona, one that competes with the majesty of the Grand Canyon.  Laughter filled days with friends and family at spring training, hiking amazing trails, southwest culture, sporting events, vineyards, museums, and every imaginal activity.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Creative Spaces in the Work Place

What goes into a creative space?  How do you decide what to surround yourself with while you work?  I love spending time looking and listening to what my colleagues have in their studios and writing areas.  I'm very rarely surprised when friends or favorite authors/illustrators post pictures of their creative spaces.  They always seem to match the person.  I love that.

Vision Boards, Daughter's Artwork and Odds & Ends

This is not the case with other professionals.  My husband for one, asked me to find artwork for his office featuring lighthouses or the ocean.  I found beautiful pieces, the kind you can hear the waves crashing into the rocks, but not at all what he was looking for.  Then he showed me exactly what he wanted.  The basic human resources poster that reads INITIATIVE, GROWTH,and SPIRIT followed by a less than poignant message.

My husband is not alone.  Having our taxes completed I couldn't help but look around the office at what this beautiful, young accountant selected to surround herself with all day.  Crooked pictures that were too small for the wall, too far away to tell what the subject was.  Diplomas displayed, Chamber of Commerce Certificates framed, and more of the same posters my husband has.
You've Got A Friend in Me

It hit me that creative people gain their inspiration from the world around us.  We need to tap into those feelings on days when the juices are not running freely.  Compared to my accountant who will be able to calculate, tabulate, compute and amortize on anyday with or without creativity.

Bits and Pieces of my life

Writers love paper stores, journals, books and you can bet we have our favorite pens that we prefer to use.  My husband thinks I'm nuts and reminds me of the drawer full of pens he has brought home from various seminars and conferences.  Yellow lined paper is what he supplies me with.  I'm thankful for freebies!  I have a business side to me and recognize good value. ( These savings affords me a trip to the bookstore or Papyrus.)

My space includes: great light, books, inspirartional art, candles, photos, essential oils, music, fun toys, and an endless-changing list of items that evoke emotions.

Books, Books, Books and more Books!
Bring on more Happiness!

I have an entire wall covered with dry erase boards.  This was brought about by demand.  Endless plotting with pages scattered across my floor wasn't the most convenient method.  Not to mention,  two furry assistants who like to lay, roll and scamper literally in the middle of my plotline.

To follow plot, subplots and to organize my chapters into a story.

My work space is not much different than the rest of my life.  I try to surround myself with beauty and inspiration.  The material items that I place in my studio or my home are second to what I hold most dear: my family and friends.  The experiences and memories that unfold each day I respect and give thanks to.  Without them, there are no Lorri's Stories to tell.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

To be part of a Masterpiece

Life moves fast and I never manage to accomplish all of the tasks that are on my 'to do' lists.  Over the years I have become more proficient, thoughtful and skilled in the areas that I volunteer.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my time.

I'm involved with our elementary school's Art Masterpiece program.  Each year I look at the schedule and what's coming up for these sweet children,  I can barely stand it.

Water color with Vincent VanGogh

There is something to be said about introducing the Great Masters to children and teaching them about the art surrounding them.  Hearing them say, "I know that painting,"  or "We have that one at home,"  begins the connection to the artist, their life and the piece we are discussing.

First Grade Water Lillies
More than once I've started the class asking, "Is this Art?"  From calligraphy, architecture, printmaking to painting we find beauty.  The different media's range from pastels, watercolors, soap, ink and aluminum foil. 

Mistakes happen, and are sometimes important.  They can change the piece you're working on or they can teach you what not to do next time.
Winged Victory Sculptures (Batman Style)

African Masks

Doing Art with Kids is Awesome 

Tiny lights fill up the room.  Our art project correlates to the specific piece the children are learning, which leads to possibilites that come uninhibited at this age.  Watching, teaching, stretching and shaping these children fills me up.  If I were to have a drug of choice I would take this one.

Clothespin Kachina Dolls

We have created Sistine Chapel Pieces-Michelangelo style, Carved our own Wings of Victory from a bar of Ivory Soap, Print Making The Great Wave of Kanagawa, Twisting and Shaping aluminum foil into our own Thinkers and even created a blueprint to rival Frank Lloyd Wrights' Guggenheim.  What a journey and oh the possibilities!

Great Thinkers

This is my fifth year involved with Art Masterpiece at my daughters school.  While most of the kids in her grade affectionately know me as The Art Masterpiece lady, I suspect the memories will last a lifetime.