And The Winner Is… (plus February’s Prize)

In January, I posted about a year-long giveaway that I’m offering here on Frog on a Blog–a new prize each month for folks who comment on blog posts. With so much negative energy floating around in the world, especially in recent months, I decided I wanted to do something positive, something to show my gratitude to my followers, fans, and friends for their support. 

The first prize offered, for the month of January, was a signed copy of my picture book The Peddler’s Bed.

Final Final Cover

And the winner is…

Heather Stinnett

Congratulations Heather! Please contact me by clicking HERE. I need your address and how you’d like your book signed.

This month’s prize is a Curious George plushie, all decked out for Valentine’s Day. 

Comment on this post or any post during the month of February for your chance to win. For more information on how to qualify for prizes, click HERE.

Due to contest/sweepstakes regulations in other countries, this giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. I’m very sorry fans and followers from other nations. I still appreciate you! All winners are chosen at random.

New Year=New Beginnings (plus a giveaway and free bookplates)

Happy 2017! 

Peddler Jump_Peddlers Bed

Image from The Peddler’s Bed

The Peddler is jumping for joy because it’s a brand new year, full of possibilities. It’s also a year full of giveaways! I’ll be giving away a prize each month to folks who comment on a post–any post–during the course of the month. Winners will be chosen at random and announced on the blog. Subscribing to Frog on a Blog is recommended (though not required) to keep track of posts and to see if you’ve won.

Those who share a post, will get an extra chance to win that month’s prize. Prizes will consist of picture books, picture book critiques from me, a set of pilot’s pens (Night Writer–for writing in the dark), and other fun picture book or writing related stuff.

To kick things off, for January, I’m giving away a signed copy of my book The Peddler’s Bed. All you have to do is comment on any post this month (including this one). If you share the post, you’ll get an extra chance to win. If you comment on or share more than one post during the month, you’ll get one extra chance to win as well. To make it as fair as possible, if you win for one month, you will not be eligible to win again. But feel free to leave comments anyway.This is my first time offering a year-long giveaway. If all goes well, I may do it again next year.

Important: If you share a post, please remember to tag me or let me know in the comments that you shared.

*Due to contest/sweepstakes regulations in other countries, this giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. I’m very sorry fans and followers from other nations. I still appreciate you!

For everyone out there who already has a copy of The Peddler’s Bed, I have free autographed bookplates to give away. Just use my Contact form and leave your name, address, and how you’d like the bookplate signed (to whom), and I’ll pop it in the mail to you asap.

My First Picture Book: A Q&A With Karlin Gray


Recently, I had the extreme pleasure of answering some questions about my debut book experience for Karlin Gray, author of Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still, which was published June 7, 2016 by HMH. Karlin says, “Since I am new to the picture-book world, I wanted to learn from other writers. What inspired their stories? How did they go about crafting their first book? What did they do when they finally received that offer?” Those are just a few of the fun questions Karlin asks on her blog.

Click Here to read my responses to Karlin’s questions.

Look for my review of Karlin’s debut book, Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn’t Sit Still, this fall.

Darlene, Cally, and Jen, You’ve Won!

Peddler Jump_Peddlers BedThe peddler’s jumping for joy because three winners have been chosen to receive copies of my picture book The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated by Bong Redila and published by Ripple Grove Press.

If you subscribed to follow my blog between January 1 and March 31 of this year, you were automatically entered into the drawing.*

January’s winner: Darlene F. (Living In His Presence Daily)

February’s winner: Cally F. (Some Special People)

March’s winner: Jen (Jen’s Lexical Creations/The Wordsmith Mom)

And guess what, you each get two copies of The Peddler’s Bed, one to keep and one to share!

Winners, get in touch with me through my Contact page. I need your address (U.S. addresses only), and I need to know how you’d like each book signed.

Please contact me within the next three weeks or I may choose an alternate winner.

I look forward to sharing my book with you! 🙂

*This contest was held on my SCBWI Launch Party Page. Winners were chosen at random.



Paying It Forward, Starting In My Own Community

Little Man Asleep_Peddlers Bed

Scene from The Peddler’s Bed illustrated by Bong Redila (Ripple Grove Press, 2015)

RM Logo




Even before my first children’s picture book, The Peddler’s Bed, was published, I knew I wanted to help people. But how? After the book was released, I began to research non-profit organizations that might be a good match. And although there are many extremely worthy causes out there, it didn’t take long to realize that the best match was right here in my own community: The Syracuse Rescue Mission.

Since 1887, the Syracuse Rescue Mission has been helping people in need by providing food, clothing, and shelter. Though they have evolved over the years, adding more services, programs, and locations, the values of faith, hope and love continue to form the foundation of their mission.

This is what the SRM is all about: Putting an end to hunger and homelessness for men, women, and children in our community.

  • Their Food Service Center provides three free hot meals a day to anyone in need. (Nearly 700 free meals a day and nearly a quarter million meals a year are served!)
  • Their emergency shelter offers 183 beds for men and women in eight separate dormitories.
  • They offer employment and education resources, life skills training, spiritual care, and connection to other services.
  • Rescue Mission staff help place hundreds of individuals into permanent homes in the community every year.
  • Their Homeless Outreach Service is a mobile unit that reaches out to individuals experiencing homelessness, offering to bring them to shelter, and providing food, water, clothing, blankets and other support.

I am donating 25% of my royalty earnings from sales of The Peddler’s Bed between September 1, 2015 and September 1, 2016 to the Syracuse Rescue Mission. It’s easy to see why supporting the SRM is the right choice for me. If you’ve read The Peddler’s Bed, you know it’s all about kindness, caring, giving, and, of course, a warm bed. 

Thank You!

If you’ve already purchased a copy of The Peddler’s Bed, thank you so much; you’ve joined with others to help provide food, clothing, shelter, hot showers, and warm beds to men, woman, and children in need.

It’s not too late to help. If you’d like to purchase a copy of The Peddler’s Bed, choose one of these links:


Barnes & Noble


If you’d prefer to donate directly to the Syracuse Rescue Mission, click hereor search for a similar cause in your local area. Let’s put an end to hunger and homelessness for all people.

Final Final Cover







If A Book Is About A Bed, Does That Make It A Bedtime Book? Hmm…

Final Final Cover

My picture book The Peddler’s Bed is centered around a bed, but I never considered it a bedtime story. It could certainly be read at bedtime, but it wasn’t written with that in mind. When I think of bedtime stories, I think of books like Goodnight Moon or other soft, lyrical, lulling stories. I think I’m both right and wrong about that.

Wikipedia defines a bedtime story as a “traditional form of storytelling, where a story is told to a child at bedtime to prepare the child for sleep.” Most any picture book could be deemed a bedtime story under that definition. If you read your child a book before bedtime, any book, then you are reading a bedtime story. And that’s great! I believe reading to or with your child at bedtime strengthens the bond between you.

There are many picture books about nightime and/or going to sleep, but very few are focused on an actual bed. So for this post, I thought I’d share two recent titles I came across that, like The Peddler’s Bed, are all about the bed (and a few other characters).


In Simon’s New Bed, Simon the dog is overjoyed to get a new bed, but when he returns from going for a walk with his best friend, the boy, ready to take a nap, he discovers Miss Adora Belle the cat asleep in his brand new bed. He tries everything to get her to move. He howls. He barks. He drags the bed all over the house. He even begs. Nothing works. Finally, he has the answer. He asks if they can share. That’s just what they do. And the two nap happily together.   


The bed in The Pirate’s Bed is a true character, a living, breathing character with emotions and longings. When a terrible storm destroys the pirates’ ship, the bed is lost at sea. It drifts along contentedly at first, glad to be away from the smelly, snoring pirate. But after awhile, despite the birds that would come to perch on it and the playful dolphins that swam around it, the bed felt lonely. Then one day, it washed ashore. It was discovered, fixed, and sold, and finally found happiness in the home of a boy who dreamed of pirates.

If you know any other picture books that feature beds, or if you’d like to weigh in on what you consider a bedtime story, please leave a comment.

For more information about my book The Peddler’s Bed, click here. How does my book compare to the two titles above? I think you will find all three to be very different.

Following My Book Through Processing: A Library Assistant’s Perspective

Final Final Cover

Being a Library Assistant at the DeWitt Community Library presented me with a unique opportunity that most authors do not get : I cataloged my own book, The Peddler’s Bed. This experience was extra special because The Peddler’s Bed is my very first book. I want to share the experience with you, through pictures.



A shipment of new books has arrived from Ingram via either FedEx or UPS.


The label on the outside of this box tells me it contains mostly children’s books and The Peddler’s Bed is one of them.


The box is unpacked along with other boxes and the contents are placed on one of the processing carts. My book hasn’t gotten to me yet; that comes a little later. (I pulled my book out a bit to make it easier for you to see.)


My processing counterpart, Linda, gets it next. She’ll do all the labeling and stamping. It already has the protective mylar covering the jacket. Look how shiny it is.


Linda added the spine label (I printed it!).


She stamped the name and address of the library, as well as the processing date, inside on the first page. You can see the order card in this picture too, paperclipped at the top.


Linda also placed the library barcode and a NEW sticker on the back cover, top left.


Now it’s my turn. My book is on my processing cart, ready to be added to the catalog. Can you see it?


Here’s a closer look. Can you see it now?


Here it is! It’s in good company. Do you recognize some of the other books nearby?


Okay, back to work. (So shiny!) Time to create an item record for my book.


Creating an item record is fairly simple. I log into Polaris, the integrated library system used by the library. I pull up the bibliographic record for The Peddler’s Bed. Then I attach an item record to the bib record. I do this by opening up an item record form and filling in the necessary information. (This picture shows the item record form.) I save the record and presto, just like that, we’re done. My book can now be searched for and found in the library’s catalog. (This has all been simplified so that I don’t bore you to death, but it really isn’t complicated.)


My book is now shelved and part of the library’s collection. Since it’s new, it’ll be shelved with the new picture books for a couple of months before it’s moved to its permanent position on the picture book shelves.


Just for fun, let’s take a look at where The Peddler’s Bed will be on the regular picture book shelves. Do you see it?


There it is! It fits in quite nicely between Alison Formento and Mem Fox.

And with that, a long held dream of mine has come true: I have a published book in the library. And it’s already been checked out several times since the beginning of October.

If you have any questions about processing or cataloging new library books or media, just ask. I’m happy to answer.


Another dream has come true as well: The Peddler’s Bed is on the shelf of my local Barnes & Noble! 🙂


The Peddler’s Bed Book Launch Party = Big Success!


This past Saturday, I celebrated the release of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed with a launch party, or what I like to call a “book birthday party”, at my local library. I am extremely pleased to announce that the party was a huge success!

Many more people than I expected came out to celebrate with me (it’s a good thing I had tons of food)! Lots of family, friends, library patrons, and kids attended the party. And the biggest surprise was that my mom, who lives over an hour away in a nursing home, was able to come too, thanks to my brother-in-law who picked her up that day! 

To top it off, we sold every copy of the book! I was able to hand over a good-sized check to Barnes & Noble, and the library got a nice donation, as 21% of each sale went straight to them (thank you, B & N!).

I think everyone had a good time, and I got lots of praise for throwing such a great party. But I could not have done it without help. I owe tremendous thanks to several people: My husband Chris, my sister Linda, my brother-in-law Tim, library volunteer Pat Kolceski and her husband Joe, my library coworkers Emily Wormuth and Pat Macie and Carol Youngs, an old high school friend Suzanne Knox, my father-in-law Al for bringing the flowers, and the library staff who were working that day.

Much thanks also to everyone who came to celebrate with me, everyone who purchased a copy of the book, and everyone who either promoted, spread the word or sent best wishes my way. I am humbled by and grateful for your support. 🙂 Enjoy this sampling of photos from the party. (Please do not copy or distribute any of the photos depicting people in this blog post, except pictures of me.)

Bed replica made by Joe Kolceski

Bed replica made by Joe Kolceski

Rice krispie beds with fruit roll up blankets, marshmallow pillows, graham cracker head and foot boards, pretzel stick bed posts, and gummy bear teddy bears-made by my siser and me!

Rice krispie beds with fruit roll up blankets, marshmallow pillows, graham cracker head and foot boards, pretzel stick bed posts, and gummy bear teddy bears-made by my sister and me!







Decorating pillow cases

Decorating pillow cases

Making a polka dot tree

Making a polka dot tree

Having fun!

Having fun!





Time to read the book!

Time to read the book!




Time to sign!

Time to sign!

My twin sis and me

My twin sis and me

Sassy Suckers!

Please do not copy or distribute any of the photos depicting people in this blog post, except pictures of me. Thank you!

It’s Official: The Peddler’s Bed Book Birthday + You’re Invited To The Party + The Giveaway Winner!

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Today is the official release day of my debut children’s picture book The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated by Bong Redila and published by Ripple Grove Press!

I’m super excited to share this news with all of you! I have a lot to tell you about today, including the “when” and “where” of my book launch party and the announcement of the Giveaway winner, but before I get to that I want to thank everyone who has encouraged my writing endeavors, everyone who has followed Frog on a Blog, and everyone who has preordered a copy of my book. All of your support means so much to me. Thank you! 🙂


You’re Invited To A Book Birthday Party!

What’s the best way to celebrate the launch of a book? You have a birthday party, of course, and everyone’s invited!

Book Birthday Party (2)


I’ve Been Profiled!

My publisher, Ripple Grove Press, posted a short profile of me, in the form of an interview, on their website. Find out more about me as an author-who my idols are, where I get my inspiration, what my favorite picture books are, and more by clicking on the Key. 

Ripple Grove Press


Author PictureMy Pledge

For every 100 copies of The Peddler’s Bed sold for a period of one year (between Sept. 1 2015 and Sept. 1 2016), I pledge to donate one copy to a U.S. school or public library or to another organization that works to put books into the hands of children.

If you are a U.S. school or public librarian or are affiliated with a children’s literacy organization, and would like to receive a copy of The Peddler’s Bed, please use the form on my Contact page to submit your organization for consideration.


Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Suzanne Knox!

She is the winner of one signed copy of The Peddler’s Bed plus two blank books to share with an emerging author! Suzanne, use the form on my Contact page to send me your address and the name of who you’d like me to sign the book to–and I’ll get your winnings out to you asap. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the Emerging Authors post and shared it!

{a rainbow of blank books}

{a rainbow of blank books waiting to be filled with the colors of imagination}


A Request

Authors feel uncomfortable asking this, but it really does make a difference–those of you who have read or plan to read The Peddler’s Bed, please consider leaving an honest review on Amazon, B&, or Goodreads. I’d really appreciate it. 

A big thank you, once again, to all of my supporters, blog and social media followers, book readers, and fans! You’re the best! 🙂

Giveaway: Just 3 Weeks Left To Enter!

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{a rainbow of blank books}

{a rainbow of blank books waiting to be filled with the colors of imagination}

There are just 3 weeks left to enter to win a signed copy of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed along with 2 blank books to give to the emerging authors in your life. All you have to do is leave a comment on the original post! I’ll choose a winner at random on September 1, the release date for The Peddler’s Bed, and announce it here on Frog on a Blog. Just leave a comment on the original post, it’s that easy! CLICK HERE! 

Summary of The Peddler’s Bed:

In this endearing tale of kindness and giving, author Lauri Fortino and illustrator Bong Redila introduce readers to a peddler on a mission to sell a fine, handcrafted bed, guaranteed to never squeak. But when the peddler comes across a man at work in his garden, he soon realizes that the man is penniless and cannot buy the bed. So he makes a wager with the man, if he can think of a way to make the bed squeak by sunset, the bed will be his. Though the man is excited by the prospect of winning the bed, he is more concerned with the well-being of the peddler and invites him to sit in the shade of his porch, have a glass of water, and come in for a bite to eat. By the end of the day, the peddler’s heart has been moved by the poor man’s generosity and he leaves behind the perfect gift of gratitude before driving off into the sunset.

Emerging Author: Bits About Me (Plus a Giveaway!)

Today is exactly one month until the official release of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed on September 1! I’ve been counting down the months with special posts.

On June 1, I shared an interview with the super-talented illustrator of The Peddler’s Bed, Bong Redila. Kirkus Review said his “palette has the color and clarity of stained glass…”. I agree! His art is fantastic! And did you know that Bong is color blind! To read his interview, click here. (To read Kirkus Review’s positive review of The Peddler’s Bed, click here!)

On July 1, I posted an interview with Jami Gigot, the author and illustrator of Mae and the Moon, which releases on September 8. I was very pleased to interview Jami as both of our books are being published by Ripple Grove PressMae and the Moon has received several great reviews and I can’t wait to read it. To read Jami’s interview, click here.

This month, I thought it would be fun to share a few bits about my childhood with you, in pictures. (Maybe it’s more fun for me than for you, but I hope you enjoy it.) 

I was born in 1971. Here’s me (on the right) with my dad, mom, and twin sister.

Here's me at age 2 1/2.

Here’s me at age 2 1/2. Am I too young to be thinking about writing yet? Probably. But the seed is in there somewhere, waiting to be cultivated. My grandmother was a writer and a self-taught poet, so I’m convinced I inherited the “writer’s” gene from her.

Here's me at 4 years old.

Here’s me at 4 years old. Am I thinking about writing now? I’m not sure, but I do know that we always had books in the house, so I’m definitely developing my book love.

I'm nearly 9 in this photo. I still look cute; what the heck happened to me?! Well, I'll spare you my awkward teen years. Trust me, you do not want to see those photos! :) (I really should burn them one of these days.)

Now I’m thinking about writing for sure. I’m nearly 9 in this photo and I love to write stories! (I’ll spare you my awkward teen years. Trust me, you do NOT want to see those photos!)

As I was going through a folder filled with old school papers and drawings I did as a kid (Thanks, Mom, for saving all of them!), I came across several books I had made. I loved making books! Sadly, my artistic skills are lacking, but A for effort, right?

The Purple Cow

The Purple Cow (Yes, that’s a cow and a jug of milk.)

The Pumpkin Patch Caper (Those look like squashed pumpkins, right?)

The Life of My Sam (It’s a cat on a chair, really it is.)

It makes sense that emerging authors would fall in love with writing at this age. We’ve already developed the ability to physically write. We’ve been exposed to books, hopefully at home as well as at school. And we’re participating in creative writing in class on a regular basis. At age 11, I was given an autobiography assignment in school. How much could an eleven-year-old have to write about her life? Surprisingly, quite a bit (all in cursive, I might add). And because I loved to write, I loved the assignment.

I still have that autobiography (thanks, Mom) and as I was rereading it, I discovered, in a section entitled “What I’ll Be Doing in 1998”, that I planned to be an author and that I wanted to write children’s books about animals. I hadn’t remembered writing that. When high school and adult life took over, I forgot my childhood aspirations and my life went in a different direction. But eventually, I circled back around to writing. I certainly wasn’t an author by 1998-it took more than a decade longer than that-but now I’m finally back where I belong, making books.

Do you know an emerging author?

If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with it and taking a quick walk down memory lane with me. 

Now for the giveaway:

In celebration of the release of my debut picture book The Peddler’s Bed on September 1, I am giving away a signed copy! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post!  On September 1, I will choose a winner at random and announce it here on Frog on a Blog. Along with the book, I’ll be sending the winner 2 blank books to share with an emerging author or two, to help them get started writing and illustrating stories of their own. If you share this post on social media, and let me know in your comment that you did, I’ll give you an extra chance to win!

You may want to subscribe to my blog so that I can contact you via e-mail if you win. Subscribing brings every new blog post directly to you. You’ll receive book reviews, author and illustrator interviews, and lots more picture book fun right in your inbox. It’s easy to subscribe, just put your e-mail in the Subscribe box located in the sidebar to the right.

(Giveaway open to U.S. residents only)

{a rainbow of blank books}

{a rainbow of blank books waiting to be filled with the colors of imagination}

Final Final Cover

I am also running a Giveaway on Goodreads from August 1 until September 1. Check it out for another chance to win a copy of The Peddler’s Bed!

For more information about my book, click the My Books tab at the top of the page.

Interview Alert: Illustrator Bong Redila

Today is exactly three months until the release of my picture book, The Peddler’s Bed, on September 1, 2015But it’s not just my book. Creating a picture book is a collaborative effort between author, illustrator, and publisher (not to mention copy editor, art director, printer, and etc., depending on what processes the publisher does in-house and what may be outsourced). I am the author of The Peddler’s Bed, but without the support and resources of Rob and Amanda at Ripple Grove Press and the artistry of illustrator Bong Redila, the book never would have come together as beautifully as it did. And I can’t wait to share it with the world on September 1! 

Final Final Cover

In the meantime, I thought now might be the perfect time to share the interview I did with Bong. Besides being an extremely talented and versatile artist (check out the galleries on his website), he’s a genuinely nice guy. We’ve never met in person, but have communicated via social media. I was delighted to learn more about him through his candid interview responses. Take a look!

Bong Redila in his studio.

Bong Redila in his studio.

Q. Did you know from a young age that you were going to be an artist? Did your parents encourage your talent?

As far as I can remember I was just a normal kid (at least I think so) doing normal kid’s stuff like draw and play outdoors. Lucky for us, back then our parents would let us play outside with the other kids without them watching us with no worries. I guess kids were a bit safer to roam and have an adventure by themselves back then. We’d go catch frogs, lizard hunting, go to the swamp, climb trees, play on a rainy day, made toy trucks using sardine cans. I’d say I’m fortunate enough to have experienced those things that made a big impact on who I am today.

One thing’s for sure though, my brother and I loved to draw.

My parents knew right from the get-go that we had a knack when using pencils and crayons, but I couldn’t remember them encouraging us NOR telling us not to become an artist. Maybe they did, I just forgot. But as far as I know, they did let us do what we wanted and I guess that was enough encouragement for me as a young lad with a bit of potential to exercise what I had that needed development.

Q. I’ve read that you are color blind; how did you find out and does being color blind affect the way you create art?

4 years ago, I remember driving one morning and was really fascinated with the bluish pink color of the sky. I thought it was breathtaking to behold. Then months had passed by, I was so busy I didn’t notice that every morning the sky looked like it was always ready to rain. It was so weird. Right then I began to notice some colors just gradually changed as days gone by. The leaves on the trees eventually became pink, the sky a greenish pink, the watercolor palette that I’ve been using became monotone. My ophthalmologist then told me that I have tritanopia, a rare color deficiency characterized by the vision’s lack of blues and yellows.

It does affect the way I do my art. Right now, I rely mostly on the color guide of my palette, that I wrote when I still had a normal vision, to know what color I am dipping my brush in. As for mixing, it’s just a matter of guessing and trying to recall what I learned when putting one particular color to another color and its outcome. It’s hard but I’m used to it.


Q. When did you hear from Rob Broder at Ripple Grove Press about working on the illustrations for The Peddler’s Bed? What was your first meeting like?

Rob Broder, president and founder of Ripple Grove Press, saw my name at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, emailed me and asked if I am interested in illustrating a book called The Peddler’s Bed. He showed me the manuscript, read it, and the message of the story just clicked on me, so I said ‘yes’.

Luckily for us both, Mr. Broder had been planning on visiting his brother who lives in Miami. So I set up a meeting at my favorite Brockway Library near our place. Cool gentleman. He arrived on a bicycle. The library was also a perfect place for us to meet. It was quiet and of course had a lot of sample books for the discussion. I just wish Amanda, his wife, and their daughter was there. I would have loved to meet them both as well.

Q. You’ve created such vivid and lively illustrations for The Peddler’s Bed. What paints and materials did you use? And can you describe your process of creating an illustration from beginning to end?

I used watercolor on a 300gsm watercolor paper for The Pedder’s Bed. For the most part, my process on making a piece, like other artists, starts with a lot of sketches, drawing the characters, repeatedly, with different expressions, gestures, angles, and situations. The repetition is essential on my part because it is somehow the time when the cast of characters and I are getting to know each other, the same manner as constantly hanging out with a new friend and knowing them enough that you’ve already memorized the shape of that person’s ears, how the person giggles, the person’s temperament and so on.


Once I am comfortable with the characters, I then start with the sketches of scenes beginning with thumbnails for tonal value and composition.

Those thumbnails then had to be resketched on a larger piece of paper for details. After countless pencil sharpening and erasing, everything had to be redrawn, again, on a large watercolor paper or canvas before painting the final piece. It is the best part of the whole process, in my opinion, because at this time, while painting (I usually paint late hours at night), my mind would finally take a rest, at least from the book anyway. It’s very therapeutic for me when painting, while the whole world is sleeping. It’s also the time when my mind would create other stories for me to tell.


I used to play around with color studies when doing details before I do the finalization of a piece on a watercolor paper or canvas. But those times are long gone for me.




Q. What do you like most about creating books for children?

What do I love most about creating picture books for kids? I love picture books so much that when making one it’s like creating something for the child in me to read and own.

Q. What projects are you working on right now?

Right now I am working on developing a short comics that I made into a silent picture book. There is also this story I am working on planning to turn into a ‘picture book for grown-ups’.

Q. Where can fans connect with you online?

They can just go visit my blog and my tumblr site where I constantly update what’s keeping me busy.

Q. Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers about yourself, your art, or working on The Peddler’s Bed?

Buy the book. 🙂

And watch out for any reading and signing events from either Lauri and I.

Thank you, Bong!

More about Bong Redila (from his website 

Born in 1971, one of Bong Redila’s earliest memories as an artist is the day, around mid 70’s, in the Philippines, when he and his older brother were being punished for using their aunt’s lipstick as a medium to draw cartoon characters on their parent’s bedroom wall.

By the early 90’s, they moved to the beautiful island of Guam and he spent the rest of his teen years mentoring with some of the finest artists in the Marianas – Christian Mahilum, Arman Germar, Boi Sibug, Jon Medina. He then went on to become the first, youngest member of the artists organization The Saturday Group of Guam. He joined numerous group exhibits and later on, opened his very own art exhibit called Stages.

Now living in Miami, Florida, with his beautiful and supportive wife, Arceli and their ever so charming daughter, Oneng, Bong is still a regular contributing artist for Guam’s newspaper Mabuhay News. Aside from his monthly editorial cartoons, he is the author and creator of the long-running comic strip “Bayani Cafe”.



My Books Are Here!

I’m super thrilled to share that my author copies of The Peddler’s Bed have arrived from Ripple Grove Press today, right on my doorstep!

When I arrived home today, there was a package on my doorstep.

When I arrived home today, there was a package on my doorstep. What could it be?

O. M. Gosh, it's my author copies of The Peddler's Bed!

O. M. Gosh, it’s my author copies of The Peddler’s Bed, direct from Ripple Grove Press!

It's beautiful!

It’s beautiful!

Today was the very first time I got to hold my book in my hands. It’s so surreal, but awesome too! Bong Redila’s illustrations are gorgeous! And Rob and Amanda at Ripple Grove Press did a tremendous job bringing all the elements of the book together. I can’t wait to share The Peddler’s Bed with the world on September 1, 2015!

Ripple Grove Press: Submission Guidelines

I got news today that my picture book The Peddler’s Bed, illustrated by Bong Redila and published by Ripple Grove Press, will be released on September 1, 2015. And I’m super excited about that! That’s just a little over seven months away!

My publisher, Ripple Grove Press, is a family-owned children’s picture book publishing company founded by Rob and Amanda Broder. Recently, Rob published an article in the Ripple Grove Press newsletter to remind writers of their submission guidelines–what they’re looking for and not looking for in a manuscript submission. Rob gave me permission to share the article with Frog on a Blog readers. If you write picture books and are interested in submitting to Ripple Grove Press, please take a moment to read You Can Judge a Book By Its Title. You’ll be glad you did and you just might get your story into their “revisit” folder.

You Can Judge a Book By Its Title

By Rob Broder, President & Founder of Ripple Grove Press

For those interested in submitting stories:

    We have received over 2000 submissions since 2013 and have read them all. Only a few make it into our “revisit” folder. 

    But we do receive stories that do not follow our submission guidelines. Our website clearly states we do not accept stories with a holiday or religious theme, yet in my inbox are submissions with a holiday theme or a religious mention, or about God or the stars in the heavens. Those stories get passed over. Not only does it show the person submitting is not following our guidelines, it makes it difficult to want to move forward on a project with them. They are wasting their own time as well as ours.

    The same goes for people who email RGP about “what type of format they should submit their story in”. It’s only a way to try to get our attention. Asking what font type and font size I would like to view your story in is irrelevant. Don’t try and get my attention with email questions, your story will get my attention. Just submit.

    Please do not tell me that your story is wonderful and that it will delight me in your query letter.  Every story is wonderful to the person who wrote it. When I see that sentence I get nervous and it makes me want to move onto the next submission. Please do not tell me that I “will like your whimsical story” because right there you are telling me it rhymes and that I probably will not like it. Let your story talk for you.  

    Often, I like the query letter more than the story. Sometimes the query letter is longer than the story or more time is put into writing it than the story. I get so excited about the query, ready to dive into the story, only to find it was not as well written and leaves me disappointed.  

     Keep the query and book description short and sweet. Make me want to dive into the story, which is what I want to do. I want to be wow’d. I want to say, “yes, this is it! This is what RGP is looking for”. Do not send a hand-written letter on a hotel notepad, telling me an idea for a story you have. Yes, I have received that.

    When submitting a story, please do not include where you think the page breaks should be. It’s very distracting and takes away from the story. If we’re interested in your story, then we can work it out together. Please don’t insert “illustration notes”. The illustrator is part of telling the story as well. A picture book is a group project; writer, illustrator, editor, and publisher. You have to able to let part of the story go and give up some of your vision. We are all working together to make the most beautiful picture book possible. Unless you are a true illustrator, please do not send rough sketches or photos on what you think the story should look like. It is distracting and doesn’t help your submission.  

    Please remember not to make your story too descriptive. Telling me that “Tommy wears a green shirt in his blue messy room and has a brownish dog and goes to school four blocks away from his home and it was sunny this particular day and the tree in the yard is a little crooked”, is redundant and makes it difficult for the pictures in a picture book to tell part of the story. We understand you have a clear perspective on the way your story should be, (after all, you wrote it) but if you want to grab my attention, it will be in your words, not with your pencil sketches or photos or over descriptive text. Please do not submit a story with a dedication page and five more pages of your biography and an index with a table of contents. Keep it simple, less is more.

    So, what’s in a title? A title can say a lot. It can provide me with what the story is about, introduce a character or tell how the story will end. Titles like (I’m making these up but are similar to what we’ve received) The Grumpy Town – says to me, everyone in the town is grumpy, except one small child who turns the town around and they are all happy in the end with merriment in the streets. And hopefully it won’t rhyme.  Or Mr. Pajama-Wama The Cat Think’s There’s A Monster Under His Bed. I never thought there was a monster under my bed and I don’t know why I would want to put that idea into a child’s mind. The title gives it all away, and I don’t want to read the words ‘Mr. Pajama-Wama’ on every single page. And hopefully it won’t rhyme.

     There are titles that describe too much and spill the entire story, like, Little Red Hen and the Missing Mitten on a Rainy Tuesday. I know everything before I even get to the first sentence. And… hopefully it won’t rhyme.

    The titles that make us want to move on to the story are the simple titles that pique my interest and keep me intrigued, (yes, these are our books) like The Peddler’s Bed… ok, now what? Or Too Many Tables… ok, where could this go. Or Lizbeth Lou Got a Rock in her Shoe… ok, a little long but you got my attention. 

    If your title mentions your pet’s name or your grandchild’s name, it doesn’t usually pan out. When titles have names that don’t match the characters you created, like Aidan the Kangaroo or McKenzie the Raccoon or Addison the Hippo, it’s obvious the child is sitting right next to you as you write your story. I understand that something special or sweet has happened to your loved one, but that doesn’t mean it has universal appeal. Share your ideas with friends or a critique group.  Read your story out loud to yourself.  

    You can judge a book by it’s title… if words like Hope or Grace or Pray or Johnny Scuttle Butt are there. And although bodily function writing might be humorous to some, it’s not something I want to read over and over again to a 4-year-old. So please, no poop or pee or burp or fart… not timeless, not cozy.

    With all this said, I still get excited to read every submission and every story. I want to find the gem, I want to be wow’d. I want to put your story in my revisit folder and I want to like it more and more each time I read it. So please, do your research. And please, oh please, read children’s picture books. Read award winners, what’s popular, what librarians recommend. Read stories you may not be a fan of, it will guide you to your own voice. Study them, why do they work, what made the publisher choose this story. Match your story with the right publisher. Hopefully all this work will shine through your story and one day you’ll get that phone call from a publisher who would like to talk to you about your submission.  

Ripple Grove Press

The Peddler’s Bed Is Coming Fall 2015!



(Illustrator Bong Redila…

...Hard At Work...

…Hard At Work…








...On The Cover Of The Peddler's Bed)

…On The Cover Of The Peddler’s Bed)















I’m so excited to share the “unofficial” cover of The Peddler’s Bed with my blog fans, Twitter followers, and Facebook friends! It is unofficial because changes are still possible, but publisher Ripple Grove Press was super kind to permit me to post it now. And how could I pass up the opportunity to share something so beautiful! Illustrator Bong Redila is fantastic and has a style all his own! I’m extremely pleased to have my name on a book cover next to his.   

Title: The Peddler’s Bed

Author: Lauri Fortino

Illustrator: Bong Redila

Publisher: Ripple Grove Press

Genre: Fictional Picture Book

Release Date: Fall 2015

See what happens when a peddler tries to sell a fine, handcrafted bed to a poor man who has no bed at all.