Tag Archives: reading

Girl Scout Presentation!

On Saturday, Aug 19, I read my book, Rosa and the Red Apron to a group of Girl Scouts at the Lowe’s Food in Monkey Junction in Wilmington, NC (Lowe’s obtained permission to use photo on FB) . Thank you, Alexandra , for inviting me!
It was a fun way to spend a morning.
We had such a good time! The girls enjoyed acting out the book with me as I read it. We did not have time to talk much about writing–Lowe’s had arranged a wonderful cookie decorating session for them–yummy!
I am available to speak to scout groups on writing, on cooking, on story performance and speaking! I have some dates left before the end of the year. More open in January and February!

Teachers Can and Do

I always hated, and never believed,  that old chestnut that teachers are people who cannot actually do what they teach–nonsense! Teachers are those who share with us the technology (so to speak) of the art or craft  they have fallen in love with. They want to share with us what they love, share the how-to and the mystery of it.

They become educators when they draw out of us our desires to pursue a field to the limit of our ability, usually thanks to their support, inspiration, and ministrations of technique and method.

As a working journalist, story performer and more I want to share with others what I have learned and to inspire others to follow their dreams in whatever field they desire–esp in

writing and story performance. Yep, I talk and write for audiences. It’s that simple!

This month I have had the opportunity to be a teacher and to share my love of these two modes of communication on Donna Washington’s Blog, in Ruby for Women Magazine (writing only in that one. March starts a three-part series for those who want to get started in writing) and here, on this blog by reminding you that I have two new publications out this month–My children’s book, Rosa’s Shell and my book of poems, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon.

PS Today the literative.com site has one of my writings up as the prose winner of their winter contest!


Do check it out!

I’m happy to come and and talk to your school or group about writing (for adults, for children, poetry) story performance (or to give a story performance!)

Please do contact me and let me know if you would like me to come! Those who do, if they are fortunate enough also share what they know by teaching!


What a Day!

It’s not even ten am yet and already I have been hard at work on the computer, but am not yet dressed!

First thing–saw that Silver Birch has posted my poem What we took with us when we moved, as a part of their moving day series–warning, this one is sad.

Then, I opened my gmail account and there were the page proofs for Summer in a Bowl!!!!
Amazing work by the artist Rebecca Zeissler.
Countdown to publication day of September 30!!!!!!
You can order the book now , pre-order on THEAQLLC, Amazon and BN
Those who pre-order before the launch date of September 30 can email me a copy of the receipt and be in a drawing to win a copy (signed) of the first book in the series, WHOOSH!
There is a recipe in the back of this one and gardening tips

Birth of a Book, Blog # 1

Blog Entry Number One

March 12, 2016

Contract is Signed!

So, I mailed the contract back to the publisher this week. The contract’s basic legal language is fine. I was satisfied with the legal provisions. The important part of the contract as far as all of you other writers are concerned is the “deliverable” list. This list is my list of deadlines for each step of the way. It also outlines the deadlines for the publisher and the illustrator. I went through my calendar and marked each deliverable date on my calendar.


First things first! The manuscript for Summer in a Bowl is due on March 31. Before you start to think me crazy for accepting such a deadline, there is something you need to understand about picture books.  Last year, I sent Summer in A Bowl to the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators to be evaluated. I took their comments to heart when finishing the book. It has been revised at least seven times.


When you send any picture book manuscript to a publisher for consideration, you send the entire thing! Don’t send a draft. Send it as finished and polished as you can make it, but  be open to making changes suggested by the publisher. Conversely, don’t make major changes unless they fit into your vision. Also, most picture book publishers choose the illustrator, so don’t send illustrations along unless they are called for. Truthfully, I have seen only ONE traditional publisher that requested illustrations. One out of hundreds.


After I wrote WHOOSH! I searched and searched to find a publisher who shared my vision for sharing stories of families, happy families in cities.  I was so pleased with the illustrator he choose, a woman who also shared my vision for how the characters should look, well….



Picture Book by Joan Leotta

After WHOOSH! was published by THEAQLLC, I worked furiously on my other picture book ideas and sent Summer in a Bowl to THEAQLLC as well.

We discussed the illustrations, briefly. This book will be entrusted to the same illustrator. Now, time to polish a bit more. This book’s manuscript left open the possibility of what is called “back matter.” “Back matter” is usually a bit of non-fiction prose that goes along with and hopefully adds to the reader’s experience with the story. In this case, I am thinking about adding a soup recipe. The other possibility is to hold the recipe and use it for advertising the book, as handouts when I speak on the book, and as information in a packet of teacher information for school gardens.


My habit is to print out a document once it has reached this stage, giving me a physical item to work with. As I review the document, I will picture scenes in my head and picture my primary target audience—a parent and child reading together. On another read through I will picture another target audience, a teacher reading to students. Oh yes, I’ve done this when making the other revisions, before I sent it to the publisher, but I shall do it again. Probably twice again before returning it to the publisher on or just before March 31.

At the same time I am doing all of this, I need to try to build my audience for WHOOSH! and for the upcoming book.

I’m waiting now to hear from my publisher about the back matter. What do you think about the back matter, dear blog readers?



Keys to Unlocking Creativity in Your Child

Over the years, I’ve been asked to speak on this topic more than once. I was reminded of the topic by a recent question—do your children like to read as much as you do? The answer to that is YES! My husband and I are both big readers. Reading to the children is something we both tired to do often and make fun! We offered them books (library is a great money saver!) as often as possible. We encouraged them to read widely and often.

How does this relate to creativity? Everyone is creative. We simply express that creativity in different ways and at different levels. To help your child find and enjoy his/her creativity, encourage the arts. Model enjoyment at doing things wherever you are–kitchen, garden, even chores. from an early age, our children made cards to give to the elderly in a nursing home. Great feedback. Fun time for them. We were fortunate enough to be able to provide them with lessons in music, art and dance, but allowed them to stop when they wanted to so that the activities became fun. Gifts always included art materials. Home made gifts cherished.

Organization, language arts, writing, performing, all of these things were praised.

So, in other words, make your home arts/creativity friendly. You can critique, but in a positive way. Home should be a loving atmosphere in which the child is free to create and fail and go on to create even more and to find his or her creative niche.

What did you charge for that? Nothing??? What was it worth?

As a writer, I rarely write for free unless it is to publicize my book or the work of a friend–occasionally, a poem or story that has not been picked up for pay slips into a free mag because I want readers.

As a performer, I am often ASKED TO PERFORM WITHOUT CHARGE. That is a different matter. Here , in the world of performance, I often donate a performance for a worthy cause, to serve my community, to serve children, to serve (in the case of a workshop I am doing locally this winter) the cause of introducing children to performing and writing.

I have learned to pick causes and venues I love, that please me because I have learned that often, agreeing to perform free means you are not valued. That does not matter (in the case of the library workshop, they DO value me–in fact, so much I am humbled since I feel it is beyond my worth). I have to value what I am doing and the experience , That is the criteria–why? SO I can be a cheerful giver.

So, send your nine-year olds to Hickman Library in Calabash NC Tuesdays , starting Feb 12 to get an introduction to how to read, write, and read your own poetry.  I will be leading more than teaching, along with Amy Duncan one of the very talented and committed librarians who works there.

Our goal for those who come? To enjoy poetry and to see the library as a place for fun!

And it’s free!!! Why free? Because we hope that it will be beyond price!


Read This Book!

I reviewed Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman for the Sun News (no byline–done under their Reading Corner section)

Here is the link: