Posts in Scrapbook

Susanna Hill’s 7th Annual Halloweensie Contest is here!

I absolutely adore Susanna Hill’s writing contests (thank you Susanna)! Here is my entry just in the nick of time! Happy Halloween everybody! And never underestimate a handful of cheeky candy corns*…(*On a grammar note: I don’t use “candy corn” as an uncountable mass noun in this story, and that is intentional!)

REVENGE OF THE CANDY CORNS (100 words exactly)

“Predator!” a wee candy corn hollered to his pack.

The other Corns quivered. They’d fallen from one trick-or-treater’s bag, but that escape had been too sweet to be true. Another hungry monster was already galumphing their way! Its fangs glowed razor-sharp…

…Fangs! thought wee candy corn. He whispered something to his pack…

POP! went their wrapper.

The Corns scattered. They lined up, just-so, beneath a streetlamp.

The predator stopped and gaped. On the block wall ahead of him loomed the enormous shadow of giant, pointy teeth!

“AAAHHH!” shrieked the monster head, bobbling off down the street, to hunt no more.


Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words Contest

Vivian Kirkfield is hosting another fun-filled 50-word writing contest! If you’re new to the game, here are the rules:

Write a story appropriate for kids ages 12 or under, with a beginning, middle, and an end, using only 50 words. The title is not included in the word count.

Easy, right? Ha. WRONG. But with constraints comes creativity! And the 49 words below have become precious to me, since they took me hours and hours to assemble just-so. The more I chipped and chiseled away, the more an underlying meaning revealed itself. Of course, this is just a children’s story about a frustrated zebra. (But pssst! There may be a layer of social commentary in there for tweens/teens/adults, too, if you care to “read between the stripes” ;-)!)

Izzy (or A Zebra & Her Hitchhikers)

Two birds perch

on Izzy’s back.

Two o’ pinions

white and black.

Feathered ‘friends’

who kindly


-where she should go!

-whom she should meet!

-what she should eat

for her ice cream:

“Choc’late!” “Vanilla!”

‘Til Izzy screams,


…Let ME be ME!

The birds depart.

Izzy is free.


Picture Book Writer (Song Spoof)

Picture Book Writer

Picture book writer, writer…

Agent Dearest, will you read my book?

‘Took me years to write it, will you take a look?

It’s high-concept with a low word count

(But no illo notes)

‘Cause I wanna be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

It’s the funny story of a genius cat

(And his owner who is unaware of that)

He spends his nights running after mice

It’s a steady job,

But he’d rather be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

Picture book writer, writer…

It’s thirty-two pages, give or take a few.

I could make it shorter if you need me to!

I could tweak the ending if you’re not “in love,”

Overhaul the arc,

ANYTHING to be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

If you really like it, you can have the rights!

It will make a million for you overnight!

If you must reject it, could you please be kind?

Send your answer quickly,

‘Cause I NEED to be a picture book writer,

Picture book writer!

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*special shout-out to my cat Twombly*

Cozy at Café Verlet

Creativity requires a certain amount of coziness. Particularly in winter. What steaming cup sustains your reading/writing sessions when you’d rather be hibernating? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? And where do you go to get out of the house, but get in from the cold, and carry on?

Café Verlet, Paris, is one place I love to get cozy. Here, they import the finest coffees and teas from around the globe and serve them up with decadent French pastries (like this pear-hazelnut tart topped with vanilla bean cream). Most delicious, though, is the ambiance.


Outside Verlet, an array of fruits confits gleam like jewels through the front window. Inside, the feeling is just as luxurious, from the smell of roasted arabica to the warm glow of a lamp-lit wood interior. IMG_1096

To ensure yourself a table, it’s best to arrive before noon. From lunch time on (sandwiches & salads served until 3pm), the ground floor fills up fast!

IMG_1094You can always wander upstairs for extra seating, and if you’re lucky, perch yourself near the window. What better way to sip, read, write, and watch passersby in the Rue Saint Honoré?


Wherever in the world you’ll be spending your creative moments this winter, I wish you coziness, and plenty of it!


Verlet, Coffee Merchant since 1880

256 Rue Saint Honoré

75001 Paris

(closed on Sundays)

Homemade Nutella

Did you know that the luscious stuff (pronounced nooTELLa) hails from Italy? But making it at home is cheap/easy/delicious and naturally healthier than buying the palm-oily, processed version. Fill up mini jam jars as gifts or as a twist on”place cards” for your holiday table this year.


Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (for 1 cup of spread)

3.5 oz chopped hazelnuts

1 cup heavy cream

7 oz chocolate of your choice


  1. Toast the chopped hazelnuts in a non-stick pan for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Put them aside.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
  3. Add the toasted hazelnuts and turn down the heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool just a bit.
  5. Coarsely chop the chocolate and put it in a separate bowl. Now add in the cream, which should melt the chocolate as you stir until well-blended.
  6. Pour into a sterilized jar (as you would with jam) and seal immediately.