Writer on a Horse
And a Dog

The world looks better from the back of a horse and the roads of life are easier with a good dog beside you.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Bad Blogger... I'm going to try to do better

back about ten years ago I wrote a monthly question and answer article for an online critique group.  I've decided I'm going to share these articles with you on my blog.  I'm going to do one a week for the next several weeks.  Here is the first one.

 Picture This

I’m going to address questions about writing picture books. Picture books are the hardest genre to write because you have to paint a story using words and pictures.

For example, Josie is your main character. Her classmates make fun of her freckles. Readers need to read how this makes Josie unhappy. They don’t need to read that she has red hair, blue eyes and fair complexion. All of these details can be shown through pictures. The freckles are the main theme, not her other features.

Now to the questions!

1. How long should a picture book be and should I indicate page breaks?

The standard rule for a picture book length is 32 pages. Picture books for younger children can be 24 pages and ones for older children can be 48 pages, but these fall in the story picture book genre. These numbers include front page introductions and the blank back page.  A picture book needs to have a word count of 800 words or less.

Never put page breaks in a picture book manuscript. Quoting from the book How to Write and Sell Children’s Picture Books by Jean E. Karl, “You should not indicate pages as you see them or indicate what you think the pictures should be. A text that offers no possibility for picture variety is nothing but abstract talk and will not work as a picture book.”

2. I’m not an artist, but I have pencil illustrations for my picture book. Should I include them with my manuscript?

This is a hard question to answer. I can only tell you what the Children's Writer's Market says about submitting your own illustrations. If you are not a professional artist do not submit illustrations with the manuscript. In the cover letter you can tell the publisher that you have illustrations sketched and would be willing to send them in for consideration.

I would like to share an eye opening experience I had this spring at the SCBWI Mid-South chapter writing conference. I paid the fee for a professional critique of my best picture book manuscript. After reading it, the editor stated it was a beautifully written magazine article but not a picture book. Seeing my crushed look, she pointed out the details in my story that could have been related to the reader in the pictures instead of the text.

Go to your library, local book store, or get on the Internet and find some comprehensive books on picture book writing, then follow their professional advice. It could save you a lot of time and wasted effort.

Remember that like all manuscripts, picture books need a beginning, middle and end.  The main character needs a problem and they need to solve it by the end of the story.  

just a few sites that will help you write a picture book


Friday, September 12, 2014


Yesterday my friend Irene learned that I'm a word creator.  I used the word wobblecotted and she looked at me and said, "What?"

Do you know what wobblecotted means?

You can't look it up

                                        but use your head...

okay I will give you a hint.

The Leaning tower of Pisa is wobblecotted

Houses and windows can be wobblecotted

Stairs can be

Even trees

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Starred Review for Dear Wandering Wildebeest YEA for Irene

Kirkus Star



A poetic celebration of animal life found in the African grasslands.
Inspired by wildlife photographer Greg du Toit, who submerged himself in a Kenyan water hole to capture glimpses of the creatures gathering there, Latham and illustrator Wadham showcase the splendors of that world in this riveting picture-book tribute. Through spare lyric poems and brief but illuminating prose descriptions set within warm, subdued-toned spreads, the duo invite young readers to explore the importance of the water hole for no fewer than 15 species who congregate at this vital life source. Unusual beasts with sonorous names like impala, oxpecker, nightjar and wildebeest all come to drink, sometimes risking life and limb when met by dangerous snakes—“Puff adder / hisses— / rarely misses”—who also frequent the water hole to survive. In an effort to ward off other would-be predators, including the unrelenting African sun, a “rugby tangle” of frolicking zebras or a herd of elephants luxuriating in a “dust bath at dusk” may be spotted, all hoping to evade the services of the “mean-eyed marabou,” the bald-headed carrion-eating stork. Latham’s finely crafted verse, at once humorous and serious, dazzlingly opens the imagination to the wilds of the world.
Enlightening and engaging, a thrilling panorama of the diversity to be found throughout the animal kingdom.

School Library Journal

Starred Review on JULY 1, 2014  |  Preschool to Grade 4

Gr 2–5—This will be a much-sought-after book for teaching reading and inquiry skills. Each animal (which include the wildebeest, impala, meerkat, black mamba, puff adder, and more) features a poem on the left side of the spread and an informational text box on the right. Latham's knowledge of these creatures enhances both the well-crafted poems and the informational texts, the two working in tandem

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bad Gardener

Here is what my pot looked like before the bad gardener

Here is after

Which one do you think is the bad gardener??

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Want y'all to meet Loretta... a real sweet heart

Loretta was born the day after Mother's day on May 12th  She has one sister Georgia and six brothers... Archie, Luke. Arrow, Bear, and two that the new owners didn't let me know what they named them.  Loretta wasn't the prettiest pup but what she lacks in beauty she makes up in charisma and she has tons of that.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July

In the month of July I'm going to blog about things that make happy I live in a free country
First thing:
Have you ever noticed that athletes from other countries look like they don't enjoy the sport.  Like it's a job instead of a passion.  I'm so happy we can have sporting events for pleasure not work... and with that

 Roll Tide Roll

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Makes me want to put a fountain in my front yard

To me this picture says it all... make your life beautiful, graceful, and motion....Run with no cares and live... okay I know this horses are not real but I can see the image as if they were running... can't you feel the pounding of their hoofs and hear their calls to each other... my Indian blood is pumping

Friday, June 20, 2014

Happy Birthday to my baby

40 years ago today my son was born... I'm so proud of the man he has become and would like to share some pic of him though the years

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stormy Nights and Cloudy Days

rain rain go away
come back a hot dry day
my puppies want to play

wind wind stop the blow
the tomatoes are so low
I want red to flow

Everything is growing in North Alabama... flowers, puppies, chicks, weeds and green beans

I should have veggies in a few weeks. Yeah

I just hope I can plow my garden this week or I will have to wade a weed sea.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Graduation where do you keep the diploma chiseled in stone

Second graduation class at Bradshaw, 1969 Wow that was 45 years ago.... were did the time go.


June was a busy month for me back in 1969, graduate first week then get married last week of the month.

Life was at my feet on the day I graduated... I could almost hear it saying...take me, mold me, you can go anywhere.  Some people might think I didn't listen to life on that day, but I did.  I picked the life I wanted and never looked back.  Grouchy might be my outer demeanor but happy is my inner.  As my oldest granddaughter told a friend, Granny marches to her own beat.  Thank you Jase.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maw Maw Norred... still miss you

My husband's sister, Lucy, asked me to write a short piece about Maw Maw's apron for her to read at a ladies meeting.  Here is what I came up with.  For those of you who didn't know, Maw Maw lived with Ronnie and me the last few years of her life.  How sad that you lose you husband, children, sisters.... that your closest kin is your grandchildren.  She was a character and my only regret is that I didn't record her stories while she was alive.... she could tell a good story.

Maw Maw’s Apron

Maw Maw wore sack dresses and aprons with pockets.  A sack dress was worn more than one day but each morning she put on a clean apron.  That apron was a tool used to get her work done just like Paw Paw’s carpenter tools helped him.  Made from scrape material, its purpose was more than just a cover to keep her dress clean.
When her marriage was young it held clothes pins for easy access, eggs from the hen house, tomatoes from the garden and blackberries.  Tucked in its pockets was a handkerchief to wipe noses, the house key when she walked to visit family or friends, her sweet gum toothbrush, a small tin of snuff, and the obituaries clipped from the newspaper to show Paw Paw when he got home from work.
When she was older her apron pockets held treats for the grandbabies, the pass Sunday church bulletin and a pencil so she could do her puzzle books. 
Her aprons played many roles.  They were a basket to carry things, a pot holder for hot pans, a mask to hide tears from children, and a monster to chickens in the garden. 

Most important they were a symbol of a hard working woman who loved her family. 


Friday, May 2, 2014

A Memoir... published in the Birmingham Arts Journal

I have a story in the newest issue of the Birmingham Arts Journal.  Last story, "Snow Fell on Alabama."  Check it out.   http://www.birminghamartsjournal.com/pdf/baj11-1.pdf

While you're at the website, look at the contest they're having. http://www.birminghamartsjournal.com/ElectraAward/index.html
The Electra Awards
Established by Birmingham Arts Journal in conjunction with Alabama Power Company
Celebrating the Power of Art to Ignite, Delight & Unite
First, second and third prizes will be awarded
in each of three categories: art, poetry and prose
1st Place $500
2nd Place $300
3rd Place $100

  • The competition does not require a theme for submitted works. 
  • All entries must be original. No previously published work or pieces awarded cash prizes in other contests.
  • Each online entry must be accompanied by a submission fee (U.S. Funds only). Please use our secure online checkout to submit entry fee with your uploaded entry. Unpaid submissions will not be considered. *If you are unable to enter or pay online, you may mail a printed copy or a disc containing your work accompanied by your submission fee. Make checks payable to Birmingham Arts Journal, Inc. Mail to 1410 17th Street South - Birmingham, AL 35205.
    A $30.00 processing fee will be charged for any returned check.
  • Multiple entries will be accepted, but only one prize per person awarded in each category.
  • All entries must include a cover sheet with title, author's name, address, telephone number, email address, and category entered. 
  • $14 per entry (receipt of entries will be acknowledged via email).
  • With poetry and prose submissions, number the pages in prose submissions.
  • For art submissions, send one photograph of each piece entered
  • Winners will be announced on Birmingham Arts Journal website and via email to all entrants.
  • ALL entries (not just winners) will be considered for future publication in Birmingham Arts Journal. If entries require editing/cropping prior to publication, artists and writers will be notified.
  • Two jurors will judge each category - their decisions will be final.
  • Fees may be paid via PayPal/credit card/debit card on the BAJ website www.birminghamartsjournal.com/ElectraAward. 
  • Manuscripts and photographs will not be returned.All submissions must be received or postmarked by July 1, 2014
    POETRY - Multiple entries must be submitted separately (and with a separate fee) by deadline date. Traditional forms and free verse - more than one poem may be submitted; all poems together must not exceed the 75-line limit per entry fee. Send one copy of each entry in standard manuscript format - double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12pt Courier or Times New Roman font, created in Word (PC or Mac - TXT, DOC, PDF or DOCX).
    PROSE- Fiction and non-fiction - more than one piece may be submitted, but all together must not exceed the 1500-word limit per entry fee. Prose entries must be typed double spaced. Please name your file with the title of the work, your name, or other unique file name. send one copy of each entry in standard manuscript format (double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12pt Courier or Times New Roman font, created in Word (PC or Mac - PDF, DOC, DOCX or TXT).
    ART - Painting/Drawing (oil, watercolor, pastel, acrylic, pencil, charcoal, etc.). Mixed Media, 3D/Ceramics & Sculpture, Photography (film and digital) - no size restriction. Submissions via .jpg or .tiff files only (300dpi or greater). Diptychs & triptychs accepted as single entry. Only photographic images of art will be accepted - please do not send original work.
  • Thursday, May 1, 2014

    Late but Happy Birthday Lakelynn

    This child came into the world smiling and still is ... love you to the moon and back ... Happy Birthday

    Our families favorite saying about Lake is that she really is a blonde ... we just left her out in the rain and she rusted... :)