We are entering the busiest season of the year for activities, school, special occasions, and family get-togethers. I love Christmas and Thanksgiving and family time. The business of it all can sometimes get to be just too much.

Here’s a simple reminder from Louisa May Alcott.

The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely.

Louisa May Alcott

You can say no. You can take a deep breath and walk in the autumn woods. You can enjoy your family, each moment and embrace some of the simple moments instead of all the rush and craziness.

My favorite times to savor are when our whole family snuggles on the couch at the end of the day and we read together. My kids all have their favorite books and together we read and spend time together. Another time I savor (if I can) is at dinner time when we all eat together and share about our days. Sometimes it gets crazy, with kids fighting or getting up and down a million times, but mostly it’s a time to laugh and smile (even at the constant fart jokes!).

So, enjoy the season, breathe, and find beauty in the little moments of life.


Project Updates:

This last month I attended a one-day seminar with Heather and Ethan Long of Tougeau 2. It was part teaching. part q&a, and part work on stories from your own childhood. The cool part was that he challenged us to thumbnail a book, and I got most of a book thumbnailed! All in one day.

Obviously it would need a lot of work to bring it up to quality level – but it made me think that the trick might be to do a lot of books quickly and maybe, maybe I’ll find someone who loves the books and wants to publish them.

So… I came home and put down rough thumbnails for two more of my books I’ve written and polished!

Conference Thumbnails

I also finished another spread of my picture book about a boy who is afraid of storms, and needs the power of imagination and compassion to overcome his fear.

boy running around house looking for a place to hide

Books I’m Reading and Recommending:

Picture Book:

The Haunted Lake

by P. J. Lynch

In case you are still in the mood for creepy books, this is a ghost story that can be read to elementary aged kids. It’s creepy enough for me, but mild enough for my kids at the same time. 

Jacob and his father are the only people who fish Lake Spetzia, which was formed when the river was dammed and their town was flooded. The villagers say the lake is haunted, but Jacob and his father don’t want to leave, because Jacob’s mother is buried in the cemetery below the water. As Jacob grows up, a village girl named Ellen falls in love with him, and he with her. But before they are married, Jacob disappears—lured underwater by the ghosts who inhabit the sunken village. Years go by, with Jacob held captive by the watery spirits and Ellen never giving up hope that she will find him, until a fateful night when Jacob sees the light of Ellen’s boat floating above. Can he break free and reach the surface? Masterful illustrations alive with achingly expressive characters and eerie underwater light bring readers into acclaimed creator P.J. Lynch’s rich world of love, loss, and hope.

Young Adult:

The Eternity Gate

by Katherine Briggs

This is a clean fantasy novel. It felt like an Oriental historical fantasy, with honor and emperors, temples and swords. I enjoyed it, although it’s a duology so not all the questions raised were answered by the end of book. 

Seyo, handmaiden to the princess, keeps three secrets. First, she’s gifted in fire, not light, and may as well be cursed. Second, she translates a prophecy warning that the gate does not offer treasure but judgment. Third, Jorai, the scorned prince and Seyo’s confidant, entrusts her with the key and disappears.

Surrounded by war, Seyo and her companions embark on a journey to seek help from a faraway empire and find Jorai, unaware of the trap awaiting them. But what should Seyo do with the key? Who can survive judgment, especially someone as flawed as her? Will hiding the key—or destroying it—save her people or ensure their defeat?


Land of the Dead: Lessons from the Underworld on Storytelling and Living

by Brian McDonland, Illustrated by Toby Cypress

I am still working my way through this one, but it’s fascinating. Brian McDonald is really great at explaining how stories work, and in this book he illustrates how The Land of the Dead shows up in all sorts of stories and is used to bring depth and truth in to stories. 

There is wisdom in the land of the dead, for it is the place that all stories lay to rest. And what is a story, if not a simulation of survival?

Wielding his massive experience from film, tv, comics, and more, Brian McDonald lays out a history of storytelling and shows the reader how the best tales tug at our truest biological instinct: the need to survive. Readers will see how different forms of survival―physical, emotional, spiritual―inform the arc of character development in a way that makes them more complex and compelling. And how plot and circumstance must then force your protagonist to meet their worst nightmare. Toby Cypress’s electric art guides the reader through the underworld, visualizing each narrative masterpiece, and bringing the ideas to life.

Whether you’re in film, books, comics, or simply a story enthusiast, this book offers a way to see character development and the crafting of plot through the lens of human questions of morality and mortality.

Until next time,

Charlotte J. Glaze