Monthly Archives: February 2018

Mason’s Wish – A Valentine’s Day Story

Mason’s Wish

Mason kisses his mom every morning. He kisses the picture of Dad, in full uniform, hugging Mason goodbye. Some days it makes him smile. Some days it makes him sad.

“When does Daddy come home? It feels like it’s been forever.”

“Soon. He’ll be back on March 5,” Mom replies.

“We need to make a countdown calendar.”

Mason decorates March 5th with the word HOME in red letters. Mom writes the number one on March 4. Counting together, writing numbers until they reach the calendar square for today.

“Thirty-four more days,” Mason sighs.

“It’s been a long time and we both miss him. Imagine the celebration we’ll have when he comes back.”

“Can we make a surprise party? Surprises are the best!”

“Sure, we’ll plan it together.”

Mason studies the calendar and discovers Valentine’s Day is only two weeks away. He needs to plan a surprise for Mom. Mason enlists Grandma, his secret weapon, to help him make it happen.

On the morning of February 14, Mason waits in his room until – beep, plip, plop: Skype ringing. When he hears his dad’s voice, he scoops up the flowers and chocolate Grandma helped him buy. Racing to the living room, he jumps into Mom’s lap! A surprise Valentine’s Day party for Mom.

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Thank you for reading this story.  It’s my entry into a Valentine’s Day writing contest held by Susanna Leonard Hill. The parameters of the contest require the story be 214 words or less, tell a full story featuring a character who is hopeful, be appealing to children, and be related to Valentine’s Day. 

Catalina and the King’s Wall

Today’s post is about a soon to be released book and the current kickstarter campaign. I was lucky enough to spend time with the author at a retreat last fall and we have become friends and writing partners since then.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Boise, Idaho with my husband, a toddler, a dog named Pippa, and a dog named Spencer. I have a BA in Psychology from the University of St Thomas and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Minnesota. I currently work in higher education and have had my research on attention and implicit processing published in journals such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Consciousness and Cognition, and Psychological Science.

I was inspired to write my first book, Catalina and the King’s Wall, while attending the Women’s March in January 2017. I am excited to say that the book has successfully garnered a lot of attention and pre-orders, well before the launch date of May 5th, 2018. I am also currently running a Kickstarter campaign to raise PR funds and also funds for local refugee organizations.  https://www.kickstarter.com/about

My background in neuroscience helped me to write my first picture book. It is designed to be a teaching tool for progressive parents to discuss current events with their young children.

I am an active member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and my local Idaho-Utah chapter of SCBWI. I am a member of 12 x 12, a supportive community for picture book writers, encouraging us to write a new picture book a month. I recently was offered representation by a New York Agency and I am currently working on my second picture book.

What inspired your book, Catalina and the King’s Wall?

I was inspired to write this book after I took my son to my local women’s march in January 2017 following the combative U.S. presidential election. I stood with him on that cold and snowy day and wondered: What kind of world was he born into? How will he learn to always be kind? I was deeply concerned, yet hopeful because of the turnout at the march. I wrote my book to help parents discuss these questions with their kids in a fun story format that children can relate to. I would love for all kids to hear the story of a persistent cookie baker named Catalina and how she never gave up on seeing her family again.

Tell us about your main character.

I really love how Catalina turned out. Catalina is a talented young baker, away from home, happily baking for the king. However, she learns that the king wants to build a wall to keep anyone who is “different” out. She realizes that her family, due to visit her soon, won’t be able to visit if a wall is built. She is too busy baking to take time off to go visit them. Catalina is determined to come up with a plan to stop the king from building his wall. She is persistent, never giving up on her dream of seeing her family. She speaks in baking puns and a positive tone. When she is trying to come up with her next idea, she says to herself “Oh, for goodness bakes!” and when the king demands more of more of her cookies, even when yelling that he does not like them, she thinks to herself “He really frosts my cookies!”

What do you think readers will find most appealing about your book?

I think parents will find the underlying message and subtle political jabs – both in the text and the illustrations – amusing. I think kids will like it because it talks about cookies, cake and frosting! They will like Catalina’s silly way of talking in baking puns and how persistent she is in standing up for what she believes in. She is the true underdog to root for and kids will be rooting for her the entire story!

What are you currently working on?

I am working on a non-fiction picture book biography. I was recently offered representation by a New York Agency, but I am not allowed to say more until a book deal is made – most likely later this spring.