Late November & Still on the Trail

Charlie and I have been taking advantage of the extended warm fall. In spite of a dusting a few days ago, we still haven’t had any measurable snow since April. I love seeing it on the distant peaks while enjoying the dry, warm trails near home.

The Wandering Jellyfish Bookstore – Giveaway Alert

Today I have the joy of celebrating The Wandering Jellyfish, a new independent bookstore which opened last summer in Niwot, Colorado. The two owners are writers I know from SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and since they opened, I’ve been there more times than I can count. I recently visited to share a fun story time on 11/11 where I read ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON and shared some light and reflection experimenting with the children.

Jerilyn & Carissa welcome you to The Wandering Jellyfish

Jerilyn Patterson and Carissa Mina, like so many writers, dreamt of opening a bookstore. And now, this dream- come-true has become a happy place for so many writers and readers in the area. They are offering a wonderful giveaway – books and swag (US only) including another chance to win BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA, by Alda P. Dobbs. Comment on this post to enter the giveaway!

What were you like at the age of your target audience? (the bookstore features primarily children’s and YA books)

Carissa: Since our target audience is anywhere from 0-18, I’ll just split the difference and say that when I was 8(ish), I was quiet and shy. I loved to spend most of my time inside my own head (that hasn’t changed much), and I wasn’t a big reader (that has changed a lot!). I was a dreamer more than anything. I dreamt of becoming an actress, a singer, a dancer, as many kids do, but I also dreamt of discovering I had magical powers or that my closet had a hidden door that would take me to another world, and on and on. I dreamt of becoming a writer in my late teens, and in my mid-twenties, when I started reading voraciously, I dreamt of someday opening my own bookstore. I never became an actress, singer, or dancer, and I haven’t (yet) discovered any magical powers or doors to different worlds, but I am a writer and a bookstore owner and so I guess that means that, in a way, all of my dreams came true because when I’m writing and reading, I can be anything I want.

Carissa age 8 (Jer was too busy visiting Narnia and Middle Earth to stop for a photo)

Jerilyn: I spent childhood summers reading while curled on the couch or late at night with a flashlight under the blankets getting lost in Narnia, Middle Earth, and Prince Edward Island. I discovered the joy of writing in third grade, and even though I vowed to never become a writer—little Jer was going to be a professional dancer, thank you very much—I grew up to be one anyway. 

What inspires you?

Carissa: Reading! Every time I read a brilliant book, I’m inspired to write one of my own. This feeling is fleeting, though, so I am forced to read a lot of brilliant books and, of course, some not so brilliant books, but I find that those books to be inspiring as well, just in a different way.

Jerilyn: It is so inspiring when kids and families come into our store and find the perfect book, and the sight of a child’s eyes lighting up when they see their favorite book on our shelves is priceless!  

What’s the one thing you hope readers take away from visiting your store?

Carissa and Jer: Inspiration! When readers read the books we’ve introduced to them or that they have found while browsing in our shop, we hope they’ll walk away feeling inspired. Whether that inspiration leads to reading more books by that author or in that genre, writing a book, or taking social or personal action, we hope that our readers will always walk away from our books feeling a spark of inspiration.

What’s next for you and The Wandering Jellyfish?

Carissa & Jerilyn: We’ve just launched our Shopify website at, which allows us to sell preorders and signed copies as well as some Jellyfish swag (coming soon!). We’ve also launched our partner page, from which people can purchase audiobooks. We’re gearing up for the holiday season, which means ordering gobs of new and favorite books. We also have a holiday author fair scheduled to take place on November 27th and December 4th, featuring ten local authors who will be at the shop to sign and talk about their books. After the holiday, we’re going to take some much-needed time off. We’ve been on full speed ahead since the inception of this bookshop, which was back in April, and I don’t think either one of us has really taken a day off since. As much as we love our reading and writing community, it will be nice to ring in the new year with our families who haven’t seen much of us since this whole crazy, wonderful endeavor started. In the new year, we’re hoping to expand many of our programs for youth and adult writers. We love books, and we love writers! We hope that our store can be a means to inspiring others to create and tells stories.

You can also follow The Wandering Jellyfish on Facebook,

Twitter & Instagram @twjbookshop

sign up for our newsletter on our website

Carissa on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @CarissaMina

Winner Announcement 11/22/21

Congratulations to Abbi Lee, winner of the giveaway from Shaunda Wenger! This is a winner’s choice giveaway. Abbi, please email me (ljrwritenow at g mail) to let me know if you want the picture book critique or a signed copy of CHICKEN FRANK, DINOSAUR! illustrated by Jojo Ensslin and some book swag.

Don’t miss the interviews with middle grade and picture book author, Jenny Goebel featuring a giveaway of her adorable MG book, PIGTURE PERFECT, and Diana Murray author of many picture books and early readers with a double giveaway of HELP MOM WORK FROM HOME, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld and UNICORN NIGHT, illustrated by Luke Flowers. Tomorrow I have a special interview with the owners of our new local indie bookstore, The Wandering Jellyfish in Niwot, Colorado.

Welcome Author Diana Murray – Giveaway Alert

Today, I welcome author Diana Murray who brings us a double giveaway with her two most recent picture books, UNICORN NIGHT, illustrated by Luke Flowers and HELP MOM WORK FROM HOME, illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. After the last year and a half of working from home, I’m guessing everyone will relate to this book. Diana has so many wonderful books already out, and as you’ll see in her “what’s next” portion of the interview, she has been busy! Readers, all you need to do to enter the giveaway is comment on this post! I also recommend ordering these books from your favorite indie bookstore or your library!

What were you like at the target age of your audience?

I was extremely shy when I was little. We lived in an urban area but I loved nature and animals. When we went on fishing trips, I loved “helping” the squirrels by gathering acorns. I also loved digging for earthworms, picking onion grass, and observing ants carrying crumbs.

What inspires you?

When I was young, we moved around a lot, but I always lived in an apartment. I used to dream of having a backyard someday. Now I finally have one! So my favorite way to write is while sitting on the patio with my laptop, listening to birds, rustling leaves, and raindrops. I also like listening to instrumental jazz when I write (Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, and Wynton Marsalis). And of course, my kids are a constant source of inspiration, especially memories I have of them when they were little, as they are both teenagers now.

What’s something you hope readers will take away from your books?

For HELP MOM WORK FROM HOME, I hope moms and their kids can share the story together with nods of recognition, some laughs, and a warm hug.

For UNICORN NIGHT, I hope kids enjoy singing the unicorn bedtime song and get lulled to bed with sweet dreams.

What’s next for you?

My first daughter is the one who really inspired me to become a children’s book writer. We are now looking at colleges together! So that is a big life event.

In terms of other forthcoming books, there are lots that I’m excited about. SOMEDAY, MAYBE (Holt/Macmillan) illustrated by Jessica Gibson, is an optimistic look at the future and various jobs, SLEEP LITTLE DOZER (Random House) is a truck-themed book which got delayed and for which we are currently searching for a new illustrator, FIREHOUSE RAINBOW (Little Golden Books) illustrated by Rob McClurkan, is a color concept book about the diverse heroes at a firehouse, and GROGGLE’S MONSTER HALLOWEEN (Sky Pony) is a sequel to GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE with some wonderful new characters illustrated by Bats Langley. There will also be a third book in the UNICORN DAY series illustrated by Luke Flowers coming in 2022. I’ve seen some glimpses of the sketches and they are awesome! I also have a humorous Valentine themed early reader coming out with Step-into-Reading/Random House, and a few other things down the pipeline that I can’t announce quite yet.

To learn more about Diana and her books:

Twitter: @DianaMWrites Instagram: @dianamurrayauthor website:

Winner Announcement 11/15/21

Congratulations to Denise Seidman, winner of the “Ask Me Anything” 30 minute Zoom with Julie Hedlund! Julie’s latest picture book, OVER, BEAR! UNDER, WHERE? illustrated by Michael Slack, released last week and is already receiving rave reviews and lots of laughs which are also rave reviews.

Speaking of reviews, I’d like to take a moment to ask my readers to write glowing reviews of the books I feature on this blog (Amazon and Goodreads) and if you can’t buy them all, please borrow them from your library and tell your friends about them. All of these things help authors spread the word.

Don’t miss other giveaways from Shaunda Wenger, Jenny Goebel, and tomorrow you’ll want to read my interview with Diana Murray.

Welcome Author Jenny Goebel – Giveaway Alert

I’m so happy to share my interview with author Jenny Goebel, the author of several picture books and middle grade books. Today we are celebrating her upcoming middle grade novel, PIGTURE PERFECT, which is being released by Scholastic Books December 7th. I enjoyed meeting Jenny at my first in-person event since Covid in June and just last week, we were able to enjoy a tea date outside in the beautiful Colorado fall weather.

Jenny is graciously offering a SIGNED copy of PIGTURE PERFECT as soon as it is available. In the meantime, I suggest you look for some of her other books.

What were you like at the age of your target audience?

When my nose wasn’t in a book, I was outdoors. I was every bit as comfortable climbing a tree, swimming in a lake or hunting for crawdads as I was wearing a frilly dress and playing with dolls. And I was always on the lookout for strays to take in. Not just cats and dogs—bunnies, box turtles, snakes, injured birds—any critter I could catch. In fact, when I was in second grade (the age I am in this photo), I caught a tarantula while on a road trip, brought it home with me, and then to school the following week. My teacher took one look and sent me and the spider to the principal’s office. Luckily the principal seemed more flummoxed than she was angry or aghast, as my teacher had been. Bringing a tarantula to school was disruptive, but I hadn’t broken any specific rules, and I was far from being a troublemaker. So, she secured the container with extra tape and sent us back to class. Looking back, I know I brought the spider to school because I found it fascinating and I wanted to share it with everyone, but I also wanted to cause just a little mischief. I wanted my friends to know that I could wear bows in my hair and think spiders were cool. I liked defying people’s expectations, and I still do.

What inspires you?

Nature, my family, people, new experiences—I try to get out get out from behind my computer screen as often as possible. Not that inspiration can’t be found online, but even something as simple as a walk around the neighborhood can refill my creative well. 

What’s the one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

The one thing I’m hoping readers will take away from Pigture Perfect is that things rarely turn out exactly how we want them to, but that’s okay. Things that are unexpected and real can be even better than our lofty dreams, and there is so much beauty to be found in imperfection.

What’s next for you?

I have a picture book called Chocolate Chirp Cookies coming fall 2022. It’s about insects as a sustainable food source and a tarantula is featured but (spoiler alert) not eaten. However, I can’t say the same is true for all the bugs in the book. As there will likely be a shortage of meat products in the not-too-distant future, I’m hoping it’ll warm up young minds to the idea of eating something that might make them feel a bit squeamish. And, honestly, I’m still warming up to the idea myself.  

To find out more about Jenny and her books:

Twitter: @jennygoebel Facebook:

Instagram: jennygo3 Website:

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