Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Channel Your Inner Non-Fiction Nerd!

Did you know that by now 46 states have adopted the Common Core Standards? What does that mean for writers? Teachers across America will be scrambling to stock their classroom libraries with info-rich, non-fiction books that align with the Common Core & ready students for the standardized test. Join me on Saturday, June 8 during the NJSCBWI Conference for my workshop: Channel Your Inner Nonfiction Nerd...Writing to Meet the Common Core. As a teacher and writer, I'll have a lot of insight to offer from both sides. So get ready to learn, get ready to write, and get ready to have some fun!

I will also offer critiques of Common Core-themed picture books during the Conference. For more info on the common core, visit:

To register for the NJ SCBWI Conference, visit:

Monday, March 18, 2013

Freedom Soup

My latest picture book, Freedom Soup, is out on submission. (fingers crossed!) Here's a tid bit of what the story is about:

Every New Year’s Day, Belle has eaten Freedom Soup with her family. But this New Year’s is different from any other.  This year, she gets to help her grandmother make the soup. How hard can it be? Just toss in a few vegetables and meat in some water, right? Not quite. Belle soon learns that making the soup involves a dash of history, a sprinkle of struggle, and a whole lotta’ pride. And that makes the soup taste better than it ever had before!

I was first introduced to Freedom Soup by my grandmother-in-law, affectionately known as  Gran. As she taught me the recipe, she passed down the oral history of this soup, which I now carry on in my own kitchen every New Year’s Day.

Below I've provided a very basic recipe:

Simple Recipe for Kid-Friendly Freedom Soup:

Kid alert: Be sure to make this recipe with an adult. Let the adults do all of the chopping.

·         1 pound of meat (beef or chicken)
·         1 pack frozen squash (Ti gran would whack me with a stick if she saw this, but trust me it works!)
·         2 boxes of low sodium chicken broth
·         2 carrots, chopped
·         2 celery stalks, chopped
·         2 potatoes, chopped
·         1 ½ cups of your favorite pasta
·         Spices: salt, pepper, garlic (as needed for taste)

This is a super-easy way of making a kid-approved version of Freedom Soup. My three year old son even likes it, and he doesn't eat much of anything. (except for the occasional crayon!) 

Start by pouring two tablespoons of olive oil into a large pot. Spice the meat and brown it in the pot for five minutes on each side. Then add the chicken broth and squash and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Next, add the vegetables and potatoes. Boil for 15 minutes. Last, add in the pasta and let it boil an additional 12-15 minutes. In less than an hour, you will have a piping hot, mouth-watering bowl of Freedom Soup. Bon appetit!

Disclaimer: I, myself, am not of Haitian descent, but my husband is. He says MY soup tastes like the real thing! But shhhhh....Ti gran doesn't need to know that!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Registration for the NJ June Conference is OPEN!

I wait for this conference every year! For the past few weeks, I've been stalking the net waiting and waiting for the registration to be posted online and the day has FINALLY arrived! Hooray!!!!!!!!! To register for the June Conference, visit:

Here are the deets:

Friday, June 07, 2013 - Sunday, June 09, 2013

Crowne Plaza & Holiday Inn Express Princeton SE
900 Scudders Mill Rd
Plainsboro New Jersey 08536

If you've been writing a winning manuscript (or a few), this is your chance to get it seen and reviewed by some of the TOP professionals in the industry. Check out a sample of who will be attending:
Jenne Abramowitz, Senior Editor, Scholastic
Heather Alexander, Editor, DIal BFYR/Penguin
Stephen Barbara, Agent, Foundry Literary + Media
Elizabeth Bird, Librarian, NYPL/SLJ
Erin Clarke, Senior Editor, Random House
John Cusick, Agent, Greenhouse Literary
Melissa Faulner, Editorial Assistant, Abrams
Liza Fleissig, Agent, Liza Royce Agency

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The list is epic and ever-growing! The conference will hold numerous workshops that will help you tighten various parts of your writing--theme, setting, voice, etc... And yours truly will be presenting a workshop entitled: Channel your Inner Non-Fiction Nerd, Writing for the Common Core. As an elementary educator who's "in the know" with the Common Core, I can't wait to share with writers what teachers are begging for in their classrooms libraries. 
I'm looking forward to meeting new people and reconnecting with some old writing friends!
Happy writing!