Of Wishes & Wishies

Recently one of my Facebook statuses caused a “flurry” of questions:

“Yesterday, while I was cutting the grass, a wishie came and landed in my hand. LANDED. IN. MY. HAND. Yes, I am taking this as a sign that someone will love my SEQUIN manuscript. Because it features a sequin, a wishie, and a sad little girl’s heart.  Because it’s one of the stories of my own heart. Because I need someone to love it and bring it to life. ‘I wish…’ *whoosh*”

“What’s a wishie?” some asked.

I was surprised this wasn’t universal knowledge. “One of those wispy seeds, usually from a dandelion that’s gone white,” I answered. “You make a wish and then blow them around. If they fly, the wish will come true.”

I could almost see the nods through cyberspace. “Oh! We know what you mean now!” Only some people grew up calling them “babies”, while others referred to them as “Santa Clauses”.

Aw, so the sentiment was the same. It was just a different name.

The conversation made me smile…and remember.

dandelion wishies

A couple of years ago, a lawn professional knocked on our door. With a not-so-subtle look of disdain at our yard, he shoved a brochure into my hand and said, “We can fix this.”

I glanced at the neighbors’ yards. On both sides. Across the street. All of them rich, lush, green. Impeccably trimmed. Without one weed.

Martha Stewart perfect.

Our lawn wasn’t -okay, full disclosure – isn’t. It’s dotted with weeds. Spotted with dandelions. I took his pamphlet and slunk back into the house. The shame of it all. For a moment or two, I felt guilty. I even agonized. How could I have let our lawn go like this?

Then I remembered exactly how our lawn got this way.

What seems like only days ago (but is, in fact, years) two sweet little boys liked to pick “the pretty yellow flowers” for their mommy. And when those dandelions turned to white puffs, this mommy taught them how to make a wish and blow them into the wind so that their wishes would come true.

They shared this passion with their friends. Sometimes, there would be a blizzard of wishes in our yard.

Our boys and their friends are now grown. But I look at those pretty yellow flowers and I see little sprouts of precious memories. Each one representing a wish from the past. Wishes that I hope – for all of them – are coming true.

But if any of those kids should need them – those precious dandelions that cradle wishes for the future, they’re still here. In our yard.

Oh, and that brochure? I shredded it.



Baby Dragon Hosts A Contest…& a Challenge

Hey there. Baby Dragon here.

My writer mom keeps meaning to update this blog, but between writing, author visits, the agent search and keeping up with other social media, she’s pretty busy. (Not to mention the mountains of laundry. Have you met Felicity Scott yet? She’s quite a messy little character that’s moved into Mom’s mind with us recently. But I digress…)

Blog Atlantic City boat

Because Mom recently treated me to a trip to Atlantic City (major thanks and love to my awesome Sand Dad, who made the whole thing possible), I thought I’d try to do something nice for her…and well, for the beach.

So I’m taking over her blog.

Blog baby dragon typing

You see, Mom’s originally a Jersey girl and fell in love with the ocean here as a child, spending sun-drenched days belly-surfing the waves, and cotton candy-scented nights on the rides at Steel Pier. While she says some things have changed (how I wish I could have met Mr. Peanut!), this town will forever hold a special place in her heart.

The beach was so damp, Sand Dad was able to build a castle without adding any water!

Blog Larry bd on beach

Even though Sand Dad’s welcome sign was for Dragons, the seagulls thought it was for the birds. I guess they can’t read.

blog birds landing on castle

blog birds in castle

We spent two glorious days on the beach. We saw so many beautiful shells. Mom said they were originally homes to sea creatures, like tiny castles. They were all such different colors and shapes and sizes.

Blog BD w shells

We were like pirates, searching for treasure. ARRRRRR!

blog shells sparkle

I tried to find one I could move into.

Blog bd on towel w shell

Just when I thought I’d never find one big enough…score!

Blog bd w horseshoe crab close

But alas, these shells already had tenants. After visiting with the horseshoe crabs for a bit and learning they were stuck, we helped them back into the ocean. They’re very wiggly under their shells.

Blog bd crabs

I guess I’d feel crabby if I were washed up on shore too. I think they were happy we helped them.

blog crabbies into ocean

Bye bye, friends!

In addition to Larry, there were lots of other people building sandcastles. I tried out several. To all my dragon friends reading this, head on down to the Jersey shore for royal real estate galore!

(I don’t want to brag, but I think Mom gets her rhyming skill from me.)

blog castle 1

There was something for every taste.


blog castle 3

And every size family.

blog castle 2

Sadly, shells and crabs and sandcastles weren’t the only things decorating the beach. As we walked along the shore, we found trash: bottles, cans, plastic bags, and wire ties, to name but a few – even though the trashcans were only a few feet away!

blog dragon bottle

“One of these things is not like the others…”

Do you know that trash not only makes the beach look ugly, it pollutes our water and can hurt – or even destroy – our friends?

Mom and I picked up a lot of trash as we walked – sometimes we had to run so we could grab it before the ocean or the seagulls did – but I couldn’t stop worrying. What would happen after we left? Who would clean up the garbage then?

And then I thought…Team Dragon! It doesn’t matter how small you are. Together, we can all make a big difference.

Here’s the challenge:

During the month of July, share a picture in which you’re doing something to clean up your favorite beach, lake or park (throwing away trash, planting flowers, sweeping the street, etc.) for a chance to win WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN and WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN.

blog dragon tossing trash

You can tweet your photos to @WriterJodiMoore, post them to Jodi Moore, Children’s Author on Facebook or email them to me through Mom’s website: writerjodimoore.com, go to “contact”. (Doing so will give her permission to upload and share them on her social media sites. Mom never posts any pictures of kids without permission.)

You may enter multiple times with multiple pictures – and trash!

A random drawing for the books will be held August 1. (So sorry, but the contest is only valid in the U.S. – although we hope everyone EVERYWHERE will join in this mission!) When we all clean, we all win!

Let’s keep our hearts – and trashcans – full!

Go Team Dragon! *wing pump*

Why I Write

Happy National Writing Day’s Eve!

Like many other writers, I plan on sharing some thoughts using the #WhyIWrite hashtag on Twitter tomorrow. But sometimes, 140 characters just isn’t enough.

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reading WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN at the Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ. Afterward, we created fun fire-breathing dragons out of toilet paper rolls and crepe paper (for directions on making one of your own, click here.)

B&N Marlton Lisas

My heart filled when I heard my little listeners giggling over Dragon’s antics. It squished when they told me about their own siblings. It smiled when they stood in a row and “fired up” their creations.

B&N Marlton stage

Later, as I was signing books, a woman approached me and asked what my Dragon books were about.

She paged through, lost in Howard McWilliam’s brilliant illustrations, as I told her about the boy and his magnificent Dragon. But when I explained how “Dragon” acts a little naughty when no one believes he’s real, she looked up. “It’s about a child’s frustration?” she asked. And that’s when she shared a bit of her story with me. I felt my heart splinter. Without divulging personal information, suffice it to say that her granddaughter is dealing with issues a child should never have to.

But then she said she thought my books could help her sweet child battle through her own frustrations…just like the boy.

When a Dragon Moves In Again crib spot

As we hugged, I knew…

This is why I write. This is why I do what I do.

Hugging child pic

Happy Birthday Baby Dragon!

Baby Dragon lobster2


Happy book birthday to WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN…so happy to “officially” welcome you into the world, Baby Dragon!

*Tigger dances* !!!!!!

To celebrate, Flashlight Press is hosting a castle contest. Share a picture of your special creation (either sand or block!) on the Flashlight Press Facebook page and tag me, Jodi Moore, Children’s Author  before September 13 for a chance to win a copy of both WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN and its sequel WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN!

baby Dragon Larry building

What are you waiting for? If you build it…a DRAGON will come!🙂

Baby Dragon Welcome castle


Highlights on HIGHLIGHTS

While pails overflowing with sand happen to be amongst my favorite things, I do have a few other items on my “bucket” list.

This past month, I had a chance to fulfill one of those dreams…and fill my author well to overflowing. I participated in my first Highlights Foundation workshop at The Barn: Capturing the Spotlight: Getting the Gigs.

Highlights Dragon bag

I had heard so many rave reviews of the sessions, of the staff/faculty, of the setting, but nothing prepared me for my first look at my charming cabin nestled in the beautiful woods, overlooking The Barn itself! I’d describe it as nature combined with all the comforts of home…but the staff ensures all attendees are totally pampered (housing, delicious food, 24/7 snacks are all included!), so it’s more like nature combined with all the comforts of a fabulous vacation!

Highlights cabins

Highlights cabin dragon

highlights dragon reading

Highlights Jodi Larry

Of course, that’s not to suggest we weren’t all there to get down to business – soaking up information and inspiration, from the esteemed faculty and the incredible attendees alike.

The workshop agenda, led by charismatic award winning author Larry Dane Brimner, offered insights into the art of promotion, including: marketing our books (and ourselves), performance agreements, insurance concerns, obtaining – and organizing – contacts, the how and what to charge, as well as so much more!

Here are just a few of the highlights:

Right out of the gate, Larry treated us to some mock school presentations, offering suggestions on length and subject matter based on age/grade levels.

Highlights larry

In subsequent sessions, Larry stressed the importance of investing in ourselves, from initial book launches to sustaining longevity and success. He introduced us to the MDR marketing site (for education mailing lists), sharing samples of his own promotional materials and emphasizing the benefits of speaking at conferences. He even shared one of his personal author contracts with us!

The amazing Margie Stern, coordinator of Youth Services for the Delaware County Library System for over twenty years, emphasized authors and librarians must develop collaborative partnerships. She offered excellent suggestions, from providing clear details regarding author visits on websites (cost, sessions, needs, clearances, privacy statements, etc.) to including extension activities. The main takeaway: Make it easy for those who wish to invite you into their schools!

Highlights Margie

The engaging David L. Harrison, award winning author and poet, visited with us via Skype, and shared advice on blogging, such as including regular features on your blog (interviews, poems, etc.), posting on a regular basis (I’ll have to work on that one), and supporting others’ blogs.

Highlights David

Baby Dragon couldn’t resist having a little “sumpin’ sumpin'” in between sessions:

Highlights Snack icecream

The incomparable Vicki Cobb, known as the “Julia Child of hands-on science”, encouraged us to think of author visits as “show biz”. She loves challenging students to perform their own experiments (check out the We Dare You videos on YouTube)…igniting imaginations as well as “tea bags”! (Yes, she made a tea bag fly – QUITE the show!)

Highlights vicki

It was such a pleasure to finally meet the effervescent Melanie Hope Greenberg, a petite powerhouse of promotion as well as an award winning author/illustrator, who impressed upon us that we are our own best reps. Melanie encouraged us to develop strong marketing lists and materials, while thinking outside the box: “Don’t do what everyone else is doing.” Using humor and candor, she also “illustrated” the finer points of social media manners and faux pas, from gossip and drama to “billboarding” (“buy my book, buy my book!”) and pity posts.

Highlights Melanie

And how wonderful to reconnect with the phenomenal Selene Castrovilla, award-winning author of picture books and YA novels, whose latest novel, MELT, is so raw, heart stopping and heart breaking, it made ME melt. Selene was my mentor at the Rutgers One-on-One conference years ago. She encouraged us to “be the change” and discussed author branding (hers is “humanity”). Admittedly shy, Selene stressed we have to share our passion and market from that angle. “I really mean what I say,” she explains, “what I truly believe in.” As far as social media, Selene thinks of Facebook posts as “mini blogs”, and encourages “evergreen tweets” on Twitter, “timeless statements about your work.”

highlights selene alicia me

(Selene, Alicia and I may have closed down The Barn a night or two…)😉

A bonus “concert” by singer/songwriter (attendee) John Farrell brought us all to tears as we learned about Bridges of Peace and Hope, a project to bring the world together through the international languages of art, music and smiles. Please check it out: www.bridgesofpeaceandhope.org.

Highlights john sing

Busy as we were, we made time for a nature walk. Thankfully, we had a furry friend to guide us.

Highlights hike

Admittedly, leaving was bittersweet. It was hard to leave my new friends, and yet, I was so excited to put their words into action.

Highlights gforce

I left feeling more than inspired…I felt EMPOWERED. I wasn’t the only one. We nicknamed “Getting The Gigs” the “G-Force”Academy. Naturally, we now all have our GMAs.😉

Thanks, love and hugs to all who made this possible, from Kent Brown and my initial contacts at Highlights (the fantabulous Alison Myers and Jo Lloyd), to the fantastic staff and workshop faculty to the amazing attendees. This was my first Highlights adventure. It will most certainly not be my last.

(Final message made possible by playing in the extraordinary word garden at The Barn…how cool is that???)
Highlights thankful

Baby Dragon Takes A Bite of The Big Apple

NY Dragon big apple

Music has always been a vital part of my life. I was the kid who blasted the stereo so loud the house vibrated; the one who hid her radio under her pillow at night to help her fall asleep; the one who danced to songs in her head even when silence was in order.

As a teen I would flip on the car stereo to see what song might come on as a form of musical horoscope, as a “whisper from the universe”.

Okay, maybe I still do.

It’s no wonder that I’ve spent the past thirty years sharing my love of music with thousands of others as a disc jockey.

But I digress.

This past weekend I attended the SCBWI conference in New York. It was, as always, an event brimming with information and inspiration. Our esteemed hosts, Lin Oliver and Stephen Mooser, were gracious, warm and funny. The speakers were superb, starting with the keynotes, which included: Anthony Horowitz, Hervé Tullet, Kami Garcia, James Dashner, Laura Vaccaro Seeger…

NY Laura

and the newly “Newberied” Kwame Alexander…

NY Kwame

…and finishing with the editor and agent panel and the breakout sessions, where I learned about the relationship between an agent and her client from Heather Alexander of Pippin Properties and The Rules of Picture Book-making and Why We Sometimes Break Them from Jessica Garrison.

Oh! And we mustn’t forget the surprise visit from the dashing Henry Winkler – “Aaaaay!”

Each one offered something special and unique…a snapshot of his/her own journey, a glimpse of his/her own view of the world. A piece of his/her own heart. Each one filled me with awe and pride in the kidlit community. We can, we will, change the world. One reader at a time.

As always, we were encouraged to be true to our own voices, despite rejections (yes, even Kwame had them!). To write from our hearts. To write brave.

Huge takeaways?

Don’t write down to children; let them rise up for you. – Anthony Horowitz

Kidlit is alive and thriving. – editor panel

Write something brilliant. – Barry Goldblatt (agent panel)

Ignore the trends. – James Dashner

You can’t let other people’s “no”s define your yes! – Kwame Alexander

As if this roster wasn’t exciting enough, I got to bring Dragon Baby! Not just the cute little stuffed one, but the full pdf of WHEN A DRAGON MOVES IN AGAIN! (Yes! This is worth EXCLAMATING about!) And I had permission from my lovely editor (the incomparable Shari Dash Greenspan of Flashlight Press) to share it with my writer buddies. As you can see, they loved it (even brought tears to some eyes!)

NY Kim D S

NY M & Z

NY Fathers

Our new baby is set to release this coming September! I cannot wait! *squeee*!!!

And while all of this was tremendously exciting, I must admit that a huge part of attending this conference – any conference! – is getting to see and hang with my writer buddies (lovingly nick-named The Lobby Rats by my roomie and bestie, the fantabulous Kimberly Sabatini). Some of their gorgeous smiles are pictured below:

NY Lobby Rats

You see, these people “get” me. These are the people that inspire me on a daily basis…who celebrate my successes and hug me through the rejections. These are the people who ground me. Who insist it’s not only okay to write what’s in my heart, it’s imperative. They are more than writer buddies. They are family. Our “tribe”. My “yes”. I love them so much and can only hope I give back to them a fraction of what they give to me. (Wishing all of my special peeps could have come to the conference…someday? One can dream.)

So here I was, filled to overflowing with inspiration, information and warm fuzzies. How was I to hold onto it all?

Old Man Winter threatened to dampen my spirits as I left New York (much too soon!) so I flipped on the radio…and what came on? Sara Bareilles song “Brave”.

The universe continues to whisper. And I shall listen.

To everyone who made this weekend possible (including my ever-supportive hubby), thank you for this weekend…and for encouraging me to “say what I wanna say” and let those words fall out – ever BRAVE, ever honest, no matter what the “climate”.