My Garden Orb Spider



Spiders give me the creeps!

As a small child, I sat on a spider that was hanging over the toilet seat. Eeeek!!!!!!!

The past few weeks I have been working on a story about a orb spider. So why did I choose to write about something that scares me? If I can make one child not afraid, I’ve done my job. My research has shown me that spiders are fascinating, and I have also become good friends with an orb spider in my garden(note: it is outside, not inside.) Here are a few interesting spider facts I read on the National Geographic website:
1. Sometimes a spider’s brain is so big it can spill over into its legs.
2. Only about one-half of all spider species use their silk to spin webs.
3. Spider silk is stronger than steel for its size and can stretch 200 times its length.

What is my next story about? SNAKES!

CLAM Critiques

I was pleased to receive both the first level and finalist judges’ comments from the Tassy Walden Awards regarding my winning picture book, CLAMCapture5

From the first level judge who decides which submissions are forwarded to the finalist judge came;
“I liked the humor in the writing, as well as the change in character from beginning to end. (My nine-year-old son particularly liked this story.)”

The fact that a nine-year-old liked a picture book thrilled me. The humor is silly.

The finalist judge commented extensively;
“Charlice’s cover was instantly arresting: The curious seagull’s head popping into the composition upside down at close range is a brilliant way to create tension (you immediately know there’s a food chain involved here!) and draw in the reader’s curiosity as well. The simplicity and clarity of the cover shows a sensitivity to how design impacts emotive response, and I saw that sensitivity play out throughout the dummy…. I also thought she did a wonderful job of making the animals feel as if they had human/relatable emotions and conversation through the use of gesture, without overly anthropomorphizing the animals. She remains so true to nature, and I found the book’s light educational angles appealing as well. The book’s storyline coming “full circle” at the end showed her understanding of the picture book reading experience as one that should drive the reader to want to start all over again as soon as you finish.”

Thank you judges for being part of the Tassy Walden Awards.

Whispering Pines

This is going to sound like a sales pitch, but if you have the opportunity, go to Whispering Pines Retreat. Different than a convention, you get to spend quality time getting to know other writers, publishers and agents in an informal setting. The presenters at session two this year were; Rachel Orr of Prospect Agency, Voices Carry-Discovering and Developing Your Authorial Voice; Tricia Lin of Simon and Schuster, Building a World that Bolsters Your Story; Natascha Morris of Bookends Literary Agency, Writing Characters That Leap Off the Page; Tara Sullivan, author, The Editing Toolbox; and Charlotte Wenger of Page Street Publishing, Pacing Out Your Picture Book.
The presenters mingle with you throughout the weekend at meals and activities. An in depth 25 minute critique by one of the presenters is also part of the retreat. The setting is beautiful and peaceful, the rooms are comfortable and the food is absolutely delicious!




I love clams; harvesting them and eating them. Dan, my neighbor and friend, taught me all I know about this delectable morsel. My most recent book, CLAM, is dedicated to him.


Clams are yummy, but Ebb, the Ring-billed Gull, has had no luck finding them.  Not wanting to eat garbage like Sandy, the Herring Gull, he enlists the help of Doc, the Great Black-backed Gull. Setbacks and confrontations are encounter on his journey for the delicious bivalve. Join these three gulls as they squabble and work together to get what they need. Along the way, the reader will learn how to identify these 3 types of gulls.

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The Journey Continues

PictureForWebOfTable2When I first started this journey into writing and illustrating children’s picture books, all I wanted to do was draw. Now I find myself writing all the time. Why the switch? Ideas appear to me around every corner and I feel the need to capture them when I can.
Some text just jumps onto the page while others require excruciating revisions. But it is all worth the effort.
My first attempt illustrating ended with me discarding hours and hours of artwork because the text changed. I learned quickly that simple sketches are the way to go. This also helps me to explore varied ideas.
We all need to find the system that works for us. The key is to stay on task and be productive. If you love the process as much as I do, you will be able to achieve your goal.

Three Starred Reviews

Leslie Connor, one of our critique group members, has received three starred reviews for her new book, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle. Leslie is a generous and thoughtful critique group member. It is a honor and pleasure to have her in our group. She recently suggested a title for one of my books that I plan on using. Thank you and congratulations!

From Harper Collins Publishers:
“From the critically acclaimed author of Waiting for Normal and All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook, Leslie Connor, comes a deeply poignant and beautifully crafted story about self-reliance, redemption, and hope.”
For more information about the book go to: https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062491497/the-truth-as-told-by-mason-buttle

A book signing is scheduled for January 27, 2018 at 7PM at R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, CT.

Where is Nancy?

Nancy did not show up for critique group at Kay’s house for two weeks. We were concerned. She is 94 years old. But there was no need to worry. Nancy was out promoting the 75th anniversary of her mother’s book, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She is amazing. The New York Daily News reported on the event.

NancyPfeiffer in Brooklyn tree26n-1-web
Nancy Smith Pfeiffer, 94, daughter of author Betty Smith, takes a photo with 10th-graders Ashley Gonzalez, 15, left, and Aaliyah Holloway,15, right, at Leonard Public Library on Wednesday.  (Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News)


Nancy worked as a journalist in New York and is currently working on a book about a sculptor.


Several members of Once Upon a Shoreline SCBWI critique group have recently received recognition.

Three of the members were nominated in the Young Reader category in the 2017 Connecticut Book Awards; Karen Fortunati for The Weight of Zero, Leslie Connor for All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook and Susan Hood for Ada’s Violin. The Weight of Zero won the category. Congratulations, Karen!


Deborah Freedman (This House, Once) and Frank Dormer (Firefighter Duckies) have had their illustrations selected for The Original Art 2017 Exhibit at the Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd St. in New York. The exhibit will run Nov. 1 – Dec. 30 with an Opening Reception and Awards Ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m.

Marcela Staudenmaier has been selected as Artist-in Residence at the Ely Center for Contemporary Art at 51 Trumbull St, New Haven.

Congratulations everyone!