Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Revision Fails: When the “Replace” Feature on Word Works in an Unexpected Way

In my editorial job, I sometimes get clever in how I make sweeping changes. Case in point. I recently wanted to change “PA” in a large document to “Pennsylvania.” So, Miss Smarty Pants decided to use the Replace feature in Word. Took 5 seconds. Done. BAMM.

And then I continued with my revising. By the time I realized what had happened, there was no easy way to go back and undo it. Nope. None at all. (Unless you know of a way, for the next time…Please let me know!)

Every word in the 34-ish page document beginning with “p” became a brand new word. A new word with “Pennsylvania” inserted in the middle. With a capital P.

Par example:

All songs are from Sing to the Tune.** See Pennsylvaniage 2, Important Resources Information.

ART—Pennsylvaniack a Box Show Picture 11. Give each child a brown Pennsylvaniaper square.

Crumple some Pennsylvaniaper and throw it on the ground.

Pink, orange, yellow Pennsylvaniaint

Black strips of Pennsylvaniaper

In advance, prePennsylvaniare Kit Item 00.

Correcting my mistake has taken hours. Days. A very long time. I should have counted the number of corrected words. But after awhile, you just have to laugh at yourself.

They say you learn something new every day. I learned to think more carefully about what might happen when I make sweeping changes with the Replace feature.

Walks away from the computer, slowly shaking her head . . .


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Masha Munching: New Book Author-Illustrator Amalia Hoffman Interview! Plus #Giveaway!

And the winner is . . . Debra Daugherty! Congratulations, Debra. I will be in touch soon! Thanks everyone, for stopping by to check out Amalia’s new book!

Get ready to read Masha Munching on March 1, 2022!

Hello, dear readers! Welcome to a very important blog post featuring a special book by author-illustrator Amalia Hoffman, Masha Munching!

Be sure to read to the bottom to learn how you can get your name in the hat to win a free copy of Masha Munching, compliments of Yeehoo Press (US only). Thank you, Yeehoo Press and Helen Wu, for this opportunity!

Welcome, Amalia! Let’s get to it and learn more about your newest book.

Congratulations, Amalia, on your newest picture book Masha Munching! Living next door to goats, I couldn’t wait to see what Masha munched. What was your inspiration for Masha Munching?

Growing up in Israel, my family spent our summers in a small village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We used to laugh as the goats tried to nibble on our cloths. I have another book, The Klezmer Bunch, with a goat character, also named Masha, so that means that I have a soft spot for goats. One day, I just came up with this alliteration; Masha Munching and that kind of sat in my brain for a while, till I came up with the idea of a goat that longs for great food.

I love hearing how picture books get their beginning. I’m sure growing up around goats gave you plenty of ideas.

I love that you create all of your own art and illustrations. They are amazing! What is the process you used to create Masha Munching? Do you write the story first or begin with the illustrations?

As an author/illustrator, I usually start by scribbling images and words in my sketchbook. As the story evolves, the scribbles become more and more defined. For Masha Munching, I used paper cuts. The animals and many elements are hand painted and hand cut. I cover the board surface with Liquitex modeling paste and add textures by scraping the surface while it’s wet. When dry, I paint the background on the board. Then I glue all the cut-up elements on the board. When satisfied, I photograph the image. Sometimes, I add more textures, details and color in Photoshop.

Fascinating! So many details and steps. Masha Munching has wonderful backgrounds and colors.

Where do you do your creative work?

In my small studio that was once my son’s bedroom. I like working at home, close to the fridge and coffee pot.

Me too! I work in a she shed I named Huckleberry Hutch.

What special plans do you have to celebrate the March 1, 2022, release of your new book?

I plan to present the book in several libraries and bookstores. I’m in the process of creating a puppet that looks like Masha. I designed it in such a way that the mouth will open and close, so Masha can eat all sorts of stuff like old socks, empty containers, and newspapers. I think the kids will get a kick out of that. I plan to create a video to demonstrate how I created my illustrations. Also, I plan to have a contest on social media for kids to come up with funny things Masha could eat.

What a blast! I think young readers (and their parents and teachers) will enjoy meeting Masha!

You’ve had several picture books published through Yeehoo Press. How did you get started with Yeehoo Press and how do you submit new picture ideas to them?

I found out about Yeehoo Press from a message they posted on Facebook. Then, my agent sent them my book dummy for my story, My Monsterpiece. Yeehoo accepts non-solicited submissions so authors and illustrators can send their submissions directly.

Great advice! Thank you.

What is one tip you could give to new picture book writers and illustrators?

Be tough and ready to take rejections. Join author and illustrators groups. Stay true to yourself. Don’t write what you think will sell. If you’re an illustrator, don’t try to mimic someone else’s style.

You have several wonderful books out in the world. What surprises are you working on now?

I’m working on another picture book, illustrated in the style of Masha Munching and also a nonfiction story.

Yay! I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Thank you, Amalia, for sharing Masha Munching with us! Congratulations and best wishes as you continue to create amazing picture books for young readers.

Ready to find out how to get your name in the hat to win a copy of Masha Munching (US only)? A winner will be randomly chosen in one week on Thursday, January 14.

1. Like and comment on this blog post. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win. Example: bookwinner (at) yahoo (dot) com

2. Follow this blog and tell me how you follow. Please make sure I have your email address so I can notify you if you win.

Amazon Blurb:

Award-winning author-illustrator Amalia Hoffman delivers a hilarious tale about a goat with an insatiable appetite and her journey to finding the best meal ever! Perfect for farm animal-loving readers.

Masha LOVES food. She chews and chomps, slops and slurps, and gobbles and gnaws through breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the farm. But Masha grows tired of eating the same meals every day. She decides to venture outside the farm in search of something new.

When Masha discovers The Bistro Magnifique, where waiters serve fancy meals in bow ties, Masha thinks it’s her lucky day! But at a proper restaurant, can Masha satisfy her desire for wonderful food while staying true to herself?

With colorful, intricate paper-cut art to amuse readers on every page, this timeless tale follows a young goat discovering that the best meal is the one shared with good friends.

Author Bio:

Amalia Hoffman is an award-winning author and illustrator of many children’s books, including My Monsterpiece, which was a 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Award gold medal winner; All Colors, a 2019 School Library Journal Best Board Book; and Dreidel Day, a PJ Library selection. She is also the author of The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero, illustrated by Chiara Fedele, which was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection. Amalia frequently tells her stories in schools, libraries, and bookstores with puppets and props. She lives in Larchmont, New York.

Books by Amalia:

Masha Munching, Yeehoo Press, Chinese & English versions, March 2022

My Hands Make the World, PJ Publishing, May 2022

My Monsterpiece, Yeehoo Press, Simplified Chinese and English editions March, 2021

Astro Pea, Schiffer Kids, 2019

All Colors, Schiffer Kids, 2019

The Brave Cyclist, Capstone Editions, 2019

Dreidel Day, Kar-Ben Publishing, 2018


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January = Storystorm!

For picture book writers, January equals Storystorm!

Storystorm, an adventure in brainstorming new picture book ideas, is Tara Lazar’s kicking-off-the-new-year-of-writing-picture-books project. I can’t even remember how many years I’ve been doing Storystorm, but it is worth every second. And I have the dog-tagged notebooks to prove it.

Thanks, Tara, for planning this creativity-inspiring month of posts for building a bank of picture book ideas. Let’s go, 2022!


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Happy New Year!

Photo by Angie Quantrell, Yakima Valley

Sending prayers and wishes for a 2022 filled with love, joy, hope, and peace.


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Haiku Moment: stuck

winter freeze equals

locked in place, stuck in RV

special escape tool

stuck by Angie Quantrell

Yakima Valley


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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you, family and friends. Sending extra special wishes and prayers for love, joy, and peace. And if you are missing a loved one and having a tough holiday season, may the comfort of the Lord surround you and your family.

Joy and peace.


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Pantser or Plotter?

I’ve always been a pantser. That’s a writer who creates stories by the seat of her pants, just jumping off the cliff and writing whatever happens next. This is a very exciting way to write. You never know what is going to happen next. Because. Well. You haven’t planned anything.

In November and December, I suddenly found myself desiring to plot new stories. I wanted to try being a plotter, a writer who makes a plan before writing. This of course helps with story arc, characters, setting, and all of that stuff. Well, it’s not like I said, “I want to be a plotter,” but one day I noticed my Debbie Ridpath Ohi picture book thumbnails template and thought it would be fun to try.

And wow! Two picture books written by actual plotting. For these two stories, the plotting plan worked perfectly. (Heh-heh, I love alliteration.)

I’m sure I will continue to be mostly a pantser because I love running with a story idea that begins with a title (which happens quite often) or a phrase or a character. But on occasion, I might just dig out that template and put on my plotting pants.

Who’s with me?

Thank you, Debbie Ridpath Ohi! You can find her picture book templates (and tons of other great info) on her website: debbieohi.com

Writing Tip: Always add kitties to help you write. Works for plotters OR pantsers. (Or snugglers.)