Oops! This went live before it was finished! Sorry! Since I posted about artist James McMullan in my last post two weeks ago, it seems only fitting that I post about children's writer, Kate McMullan, this week. Jim and Kate have been married for 38 ...
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Kate McMullan

Oops! This went live before it was finished! Sorry!

Since I posted about artist James McMullan in my last post two weeks ago, it seems only fitting that I post about children’s writer, Kate McMullan, this week. Jim and Kate have been married for 38 years, and they make a marvelous team personally and creatively.

Kate has written over one hundred books for kids, including (but not limited to) a beginning readers series about a classroom guinea pig named Fluffy (who, Kate says, will never die — that’s the best kind of guinea pig!), the hilarious Myth-O-Mania series, the equally hilarious series about young Wiglaf at Dragon Slayers Academy, picture books, the list goes on. (I admit my favorite series is the Dragon Slayers Academy. You could say it slays me.)

She and Jim have also collaborated on a fabulous picture book series that tickle the funny bone and educate all at the same time. I STINK (about a garbage truck), I’M DIRTY (about a construction site digger), I’M MIGHTY (about a tugboat), I’M COOL (about a Zamboni — who would have thought to create a picture book about a Zamboni? Kate and Jim. And it’s cool.) And the list goes on. There’s even an Amazon TV show — the STINKY AND DIRTY SHOW based on two of the characters. Check them out!

Now, with more apologies for sending this post out unfinished, and with a recommendation that you check out Kate’s books without further ado (and don’t leave them unfinished!) just let me say that K is for Kate. Kudos to Kate!



Celebrating James McMullan

There’s a fabulous article in the December 2017 issue of Vanity Fair magazine that I want to draw your attention to. It is about artist extraordinaire James McMullan — as Vanity Fair calls him, “Performance Artist.”

That moniker is a tribute to the many posters he has done for Lincoln Center productions over the past 30 years. (Yes, you read that right.) Each of his posters shows his deep commitment to understanding and expressing that production, each is unique, yet each is distinctly a James McMullan work.

His artistic career spans far more than theatrical posters, though. In the 60s and 70s, he was noted for his visual essays in New York Magazine — in fact, his series of disco paintings inspired the movie Saturday Night Fever, as is recorded in many articles about him, including the current Vanity Fair issue.

In 2010, he wrote and illustrated a series of OpEd pieces for the New York Times, exploring the art of drawing, from the basics to more advanced techniques. There are links to these OpEds on his website. Also on his website, you’ll find two posts that show the fascinating process he goes through in creating his posters.

He has illustrated many books, often in collaboration with his wife, Kate McMullan (watch for a post about Kate next week) but he is also the illustrator for a number of other books, and these illustrations show the vast range he is capable of.

I’d encourage you to read the article in Vanity Fair. If you’d like to read an interview I did with Jim a few years ago, click here. For my post about his wonderful memoir, Leaving China, click here. (I was pleased to note, in the Vanity Fair article, that he is working on another memoir. I can hardly wait!)

J is for James. James McMullan. And it is for Joy, the Joy Jim takes in creating his art, and the Joy he gives to those who experience it.




There is more than one meaning for the word inspiration. Inspiration is what writers wait for — a flash of ideas that flows onto the page. Inspiration is a warming of the heart and a quickening of the mind by someone or something who has done something that amazes or uplifts us. Inspiration is the very act of taking a breath, of inhaling, drawing in the oxygen that sustains life.

Inspiration can come to us in unexpected ways and at unexpected times. It was so for me as I was driving through the city one day, running errands, and listening to the CBC Radio program White Coat, Black Art. That episode told the story of Catherine Wreford-Ledlow, a woman in Winnipeg facing a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. For those of you familiar with the Canadian musician Gord Downie, it is the same cancer that claimed his life earlier this year.

This inspiring woman is dealing with her diagnosis by continuing with life, and by working to help others who will be diagnosed in the future. Quoting from an article on the CBC website, “In addition to being a mom of two, Wreford Ledlow, a dancer who has performed on Broadway, teaches musical theatre at the Shelley Shearer School of Dance, and is the facilitator of a local support group for people with brain cancer.”

I’d like to invite you to take some time (this will take close to half an hour, so find a time when that’s a possibility for you), lean back, take a deep breath, and listen to the full episode of White Coat, Black Art that so inspired me when I heard it in my car that busy afternoon. You can find it here, at CBC Listen.

I is for Inspiration. It is for the Invitation to Inhale fresh air into our lungs, fresh Ideas into our minds, fresh life into our hearts. Inspiration Illuminates our darkness.



Halloweensie Finalists Have Been Announced at Susanna’s!

How Susanna Hill and her team of helpers did it is beyond me. There were 244 (count them, 244!) entries in Susanna’s Halloweensie writing contest. They have managed to narrow that down to 14 finalists, and now, we get to VOTE on our favorite! (Which is going to be hard enough — they’re fantastic!)

I want to say a hearty THANK YOU to Susanna for running such fantastic contests and for doing all the work necessary to organize them and sift through the entries to choose the finalists. Susanna, you’re a hero in my books!

Now, hurry on over to Susanna’s blog to read the amazing stories that are there for your pleasure, and vote for your favorite!

H is for Halloweensie, and for How does Susanna do it? It’s also for Hey, why are you still Here? Hurry over to Susanna Hill’s and vote for the Halloweensie of the year!


(Come back next week for some true Inspiration. The letter I awaits.)


GHOUL STUFF — A Halloweensie Story

I’m posting next Monday’s post early, because today’s the first day of Susanna Hill’s wonderful Halloweensie Writing Contest and I couldn’t wait to join in the fun!

The rules, in brief, are (quoting from Susanna’s blog): Write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in the 100 words), using the words candy corn, monster, and shadow. (Candy corn will be counted as 1 word.)  Your story can be scary, funny, or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!)  Get it?  Halloweensie – because it’s not very long and it’s for little people! You may use the words in any form – e.g. monsters, monstrous, shadowy, shadowed, whathaveyou.

At the end of this post, I’ll give you the link to Susanna’s post where you can find all the stories (keep checking that link — stories can be posted until 11:59 p.m. EDT on October 31st. If you want to participate, there’s time!

Now, my story. 97 words, since Susanna says “candy corn” can be counted as one. I counted my hyphenated words as 3.


Halloween! Scare-and-screaming time!

My brother howled. “Monsters don’t DO Halloween! Monsters hide under beds. Monsters lurk in closets. Halloween is GHOUL STUFF!”

I didn’t care. This pink monster was going Halloweening.

Nobody was scared. Nobody screamed. Ghouls everywhere! No monsters. A ghoul shrieked. I shivered.

Oh no! A baby ghoul crying! Big ghouls taunted, “You couldn’t scare a kitten!”

I ran to her. “We’re scary! Just watch!”

We tiptoed to a house. Something leapt from the shadows. We screamed!

The something smiled. “How sweet you look! Have some candy corn.”

YUM! Candy corn’s ghoul AND monster stuff!


G is for Ghouls (and Ghosts and Goblins). It’s for Halloween Goodies (like candy corn, although I’d rather have little chocolate bars). It’s also for Get over to Susanna’s blog to read all the entries! Here’s the link!


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