I'm thrilled to be a panelist for the YA fiction CYBILS award (see the official announcement ).

The mission of the CYBILS is "to recognize the children’s and young adult authors and illustrators whose books combine the highest literary merit and popular appeal". 

Nominations for your favorite YA books will be open to the public, October 1-15!  So if you have a favorite book of any genre, go here to nominate! 

I'm excited to work with this group of panelists who have a wealth of knowledge about YA books and a passion for reading!  

3 Ways to Overcome Writer's Block

One of the best things about homeschooling is that I get to teach my kids how to write! But I have a hard time understanding my reluctant writers. How can they stare at a blank page for SO long without filling it with wonderful words?  But we’ve all been there.  Sometimes it’s hard to get the words on the page.  Here are 3 strategies that I use for my kids and myself when we’re struggling to write.
  1. Write about something you LOVE.  I discovered this trick last year when I couldn’t get my 9 year to write anything.  Finally I said: “Write about chickens or Greek Mythology!”  And my little backyard chicken farmer and Greek mythology enthusiast  wrote quickly, and easily and from the heart.  When her daddy threatened to kill the roosters we had raised, Sydney was outraged.  So she wrote a five paragraph persuasive essay.  I’ve never seen her write so well.  She wrote it with so much passion, that she couldn’t even read it to her dad without crying.  Her words worked their magic and the roosters are now at a farm happily living out their lives.

2. Write Stream of Consciousness.  Sometimes when we write what we are thinking, and let go of worrying about the perfect word combination, we come up with the most wonderful combination of words....or not.  I give my kids permission to write: “I don’t know what to write” over and over again if they want to and somehow, that’s never happened. Even if that does happen, there are words on the page.

To see more, go to Children's Book Academy!

Sydney and I were featured on Penny Parker Klostermann's Blog!

Kirsti Call and her daughter, Sydney

Poem by KirstiSlide1

Art by Sydney
Taking a Chance

Syd's Sketch copy
Art by Sydney Call
I have another special treat. Calling Out is the Call family band. Today we have the privilege of hearing Sydney sing a song she wrote when she was only 6 years old. She wrote the song after being bullied and it packs a powerful message. You can read more about it HERE. And notice that Mom is on guitar!
Many thanks to Kirsti and Sydney for sharing their talents with us today.

Syd and Me laughing copy 
Meet Sydney: Sydney Call is an 9 year old artist, greek mythology enthusiast and backyard chicken farmer. When she was 6, she wrote asong that sparked the creation of the family band, Calling Out.  She plays the guitar and has read the entire Percy Jackson series at last 5 times.

Syd and me copy
Meet Kirsti
: Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five.  Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn’tzFall, came out December 2013. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer’s Rumpus, and Kids are Writers.  If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading. You can find out more about her at or on Facebook or Twitter

Interview of Talented Author, Lori Degman

I first met Lori Grusin Degman though the12 x 12 challenge.  My kids and I read and fell in love with her books, and I was thrilled to meet Lori in person at the New Jersey SCBWI conference.  She is warm and witty and the best kind of writer friend and I’m excited to interview her on Writer’s Rumpus!
Kirsti Call: When did you start writing children’s books, and why?    
Lori Degman: When my sons were young, I read to them all the time and saw how much they enjoyed hearing the stories, particularly the rhyming, funny picture books. I really wanted to write stories that would make my kids and other kids laugh, so I took a night class on how to write and publish picture books for children. I submitted manuscripts for a few years and amassed a pile of rejections. Then, I went back to work and stopped writing for about 12 years. This was back in the day, before the internet (for the < 30 year olds out there – yes, there was a time before the internet), so I wasn’t aware of all the resources out there for writers.  When I came back to writing, the internet opened up a whole new world for me!
KC: What is your favorite part of being an author?
LD:  I think the best part of being an author is sharing my books with kids and having them laugh in all the right places. The actual writing part is fun, but it can be difficult and frustrating at times!
KC: What is your least favorite part of being an author?       1 zany zoo
LD: My least favorite part about being an author is the rejection. It’s so hard when you really love a story and you send it out to editors and they don’t want to publish it. I try not to take it personally, but it’s still discouraging.
KC: What’s your favorite book that you’ve written and why? 
LD: So far, my favorite story I’ve written Is Cock-a-Doodle Oops! I just love the way it turned out – way better than I ever thought it would! I always end my stories with a joke and/or surprise twist and in Cock-a-Doodle Oops!, I came up with a surprise twist in the middle and a really funny (I think) joke at the end. And I love Deborah Zemke’s illustrations SO much! I really like my upcoming book too – Norbert’s Big Dream. But, the first time someone asked me about the story, I went on and on about how Norbert’s my favorite of all my characters. As soon as I stopped talking, it hit me – Norbert is ME! That’s a little embarrassing!
cockle doodle oops!
KC: Do you have a writing routine? 
LD: No, not really. I have ADHD and it’s hard for me to stay focused on anything for an extended time. Also, I’m a full-time teacher so I don’t have a lot of time to write during the school year. I do most of my original writing during school breaks and mostly revision work during the school year.
KC: We love Cock a Doodle Oops! at our house because we have chickens.  What was the inspiration for this story?
LD: I think having chickens would be so cool!! At first, Cock-a-Doodle Oops! was a “boy who cried wolf” type of story. The rooster was going to crow at all different times of the day and wreak havoc on the whole farm. Somehow that morphed into rooster leaving for vacation and the other animals fulfilling his cock-a-doodle duties. I’m still thinking of writing that original story – I think it could be funny!
KC: What is the best response you’ve gotten from a reader of your books?  
LD: I’ve had people tell me that their kids have my books memorized because they’ve read them so many times or just that they ask to have them read over and over again! Hearing that can wipe out 100 rejections!!
KC: Your rhyme is impeccable.  What helped you learn meter and rhythm?  To read the rest of this post, go to Writer's Rumpus!

Naomi and I were featured on Penny Parker Klostermann's Blog!!

Kirsti and Naomi Call!

Kirsti and Naomi are a mother daughter-team. One day they hope that Naomi will illustrate one of her Mom’s books!

“Tree of Life” by Naomi

Naomi's art
Art by Naomi Call

Kirsti’s Beautiful Poempoem on color no border

It looks like to me they’re well on their way to having a book together some day!
Not only is Naomi an artist, she is the lead singer in her band, Rock Solid. Enjoy this performance!
Many thanks to Kirsti and Naomi for sharing their collaboration with us today!

Naomi and KirstiMeet Kirsti: Kirsti Call is a homeschooling mom of five.  Her debut picture book, The Raindrop Who Couldn’t Fall, came out December 2013. Her family band, Calling Out, plays songs written by her children. She contributes to Writer’s Rumpus, and Kids are Writers.  If you visit her house, you’ll likely find her reading. You can find out more about her at
Meet Naomi: Naomi Call is an 11 year old artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.  She has her own etsy shop where she sells art, jewelry and bags where 20% of the proceeds go to The African Library Project.  Naomi is also the lead singer in her band, Rock Solid.  She loves to read and write almost as much as her mom does!