Butterflies Mixed with Cartwheels

When you get an email from a writer who’s with the Los Angeles office of the SCBWI, you sit up and pay attention. If you don’t already know, SCBWI stands for Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. It’s the only professional organization specifically created for individuals who write and

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Writing a Novel During a Pandemic

On Leap Year weekend this past February, I had no way to predict that it would be my last time to hang out face-to-face with my family for a long while. We were all in Baton Rouge, celebrating my nephew’s wedding. Stephen’s last name—Knight—set the tone for the evening with

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I’m Grateful For My Opportunities

This Thanksgiving season, I’ve been thinking about what I’m grateful for. Like many, I would put HEALTH at the top of the list. Not just my own health (which is pretty good, knock on wood), but also that of my large family. My mother had a rather serious health issue

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Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn: We have a launch!

When I discovered yarn bombing a few years ago, the idea grabbed me so much that it inspired a children’s book. Fast forward to today … and YAZZY’S AMAZING YARN has hit the shelves! Yarn bombing is a craze that you may (or may not!) have heard of in which

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Happy Drops of Validation

In the deep sea of rejection that writing often brings, it sure is nice to get a bit of occasional validation. I’ve been querying literary agents; I’ve received nibbles here and there, a few requests, but no official bites yet. No contract. So, imagine my surprise when I received an

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My First Podcast! Thank you, Dan Blank!

Celebrating my fiftieth school visit in October was a milestone that made me want to do cartwheels (if I still can?). I wrote a fun blog about it that you can READ HERE, and it was an amazing feeling to treat the school, Ridgemont Elementary of Houston, to a number

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Fifty (school visits) is Nifty!

Milestone alert! I recently celebrated my FIFTIETH school author visit! I’ve delivered my presentation so many times, I can practically do it in my sleep. Nevertheless, every visit feels fun and special. There’s always something new and different that comes up, which means no two visits are ever alike. Take,

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Wrangling Words and Authors!

It’s never easy to travel out of town for a school or book engagement. I have to consider mileage/gas costs, hotel rates, meals, and other logistics. But when I was invited to feature my children’s book at the 13th Annual Texas Word Wrangler Festival—benefiting the Giddings Public Library and Cultural

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Amazing Author #1: TERI CASE

Picking up on an fun idea that I’ve seen on other websites, I decided to start a periodic column on my blog called the “Amazing Authors Series.” I didn’t even have to ponder who I would feature first—I knew. TERI CASE is a witty, smart, talented writer I met in an

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Will the REAL Mr. Newland Please Stand Up?

If you’re near my age (55), you probably watched that television game show, TO TELL THE TRUTH, which aired from about 1956 to 1978. On the show, four celebrity panelists were presented with three contestants. The challenge was to identify which contestant accurately matched up with the unusual occupation or

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What Triggers the Story Ideas?

I’ve only written one short story, and a London-based online site called STORGY Magazine recently published it. Here’s  a link to “Yellow,” which was inspired by something my father said in passing one day. Dad was looking at a brochure for a company that offered time-shares on a yacht; he

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Be an Inspiroror!

Have you ever been an inspiroror? Are you unsure what one is? Well, my almost-nine-year-old niece Marie seems to know. We share the exact same February birthday along with an affinity for writing stories. A few months ago, when Marie’s mom attended Back-to-School Night, she spotted this and texted it

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Halloweensie Writing Contest

Susanna Leonard Hill’s 7th annual Halloweensie Writing Contest has arrived! The rules are as follows: Write a 100-word Halloween story appropriate for children 12 and under, using the words candy corn, monster, and shadow. (Candy corn is counted as one word).  So here goes: POOR TERRENCE (100 words)    Terrence was

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Woo-hoo, Chattanooga choo-choo!

Can you believe it? My book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, has taken me on the road to speak to children at schools around the country! To date, I’ve spoken at some 38 schools in my hometown of Houston; in Shreveport & Monroe, Louisiana; in Atlanta, Georgia; and in Austin,

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Keeping It Rolling!

This week, students at three elementary schools will hear all about art cars, writing, publishing, illustrating, creativity and inspiration when I show up to present my children’s book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car. The lucky schools are Garden Oaks Montessori Magnet, Travis Elementary School, and St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. And

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The Love-a-lots!

It’s that time of year! Time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s 6th Annual Holiday Contest. The rules this year are fun: Write a children’s holiday story using the basic format/concept of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas,” not to exceed 300 words. The story can be poetry or prose, silly or serious or

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10,000 Smiles Per Gallon

It was my first book signing for my children’s book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car. I was terrified. Which was kind of silly, because all I had to do was set up a table at an elementary school holiday market. Nevertheless, I felt nervous and unsure. So, I did what

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Arthur Zarr By The Numbers

This week—May 3, 2016 to be exact—marks the six-month anniversary of the launch date of my children’s picture book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car. I thought it might be interesting to celebrate the occasion with a breakdown of numbers and other fun facts. NUMBERS: 783 = total number of books

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If These Scars Could Talk

I remember a story I overheard or saw on television as a child when I was about ten years old. It was the 1970s, before lasers were available to remove tattoos. The story I heard was about a woman who wanted a heart-shaped tattoo removed from her derrière. Apparently the

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Hey, Bill Joyce: Nice Job!

“I highly recommend winning an Oscar… it’s just really fun,” joked Bill Joyce. I’ve repeated his words to many friends after hearing Joyce speak at the 2016 Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference in February. A crowd of 1,151 attendees devoured every detail of his speech, titled “Books

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For Me, Second Place is the New First

Have you ever come in second place, but still felt like a #1 winner? I have. Quite recently. Last week, I was chatting with a fellow writer friend, and she told me about a fun “Valentiny” contest she had entered. It was hosted by kid-lit author SUSANNA LEONARD HILL, and I

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Hey, NYC! I’m Back In Black!

I wore a loose-fitting, hot pink shorts set with white tennis shoes. It was May of 1999, and it was my first trip to New York City. Oh, and I was six months pregnant! If you know anything about NYC, it’s that the locals tend to wear a lot of

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Teensy Weensy Valentiny Writing Fun!

Although I’ve seen her children’s books, I never came across author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website until today. I didn’t know what I was missing, and now I’m hooked! A friend told me about an intriguing writing contest, which led me to Susanna’s blog. The instructions were to write no more

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An Amazing Book Review & Why This Matters

Lone Star Literary Life is a superb organization I discovered while producing and marketing my new children’s picture book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car. This group connects readers with Texas writers and Texas books. I recently submitted my book to them for a review, and what I got in return

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The Beer Can House is Selling My Book … How Apropos!

I have a long-standing relationship with beer. Okay, that didn’t come out right. I mean, I enjoy an occasional beer, but that’s not the point. The point is that autographed copies of my new book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, are available for purchase at the Beer Can House in Houston,

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Art Car vs. Artcar

Two amazing things happened this week. Well, a lot more than that, but here are two I want to mention. First, a reporter from the Houston Chronicle called to interview me about my new picture book! Apparently there will be an article in their weekly Community section. I’ll post it

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Publicity & Art Car Fun!

Did I mention that my book cover WON a Facebook contest in October?  A site called Promoting Picture Books ran a fun contest, and my cover of Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car won! Thanks goes to my amazing illustrator, Bill Megenhardt, who designed the vibrant image on the front of

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It’s been an AMAZING week!

Plenty of AMAZING news this week … My book is live on Amazon! http://amzn.to/1S0kce7 And since I’m the distributor, it’s also available for purchase directly from me through my website. Go to www.catheynickell.com and you should see the PayPal “Buy Now” button under my BOOKS tab. It doesn’t matter to

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Arthur Zarr is Born!

My first children’s book, Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, has arrived! A few silly bumper stickers triggered the concept for my new picture book. Nothing big. Just a twinkling of an idea that started small but took flight. And for my book’s main character, Arthur Zarr, it all began with

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Am I a Legitimate Author?

“Can you help me get my book published?” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked that question… it wouldn’t make me a millionaire, but I bet it would buy me a few tanks of gas. It’s funny, because a big-name publisher has not published my work.

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Just Call Me “Hospital Girl”

I lived in a hospital from age 14 to 21. Have you ever been to a party where they play that icebreaker game? Everyone has to say one fun fact about him or herself that you probably wouldn’t already know. Well, “I lived in a hospital from age 14 to

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My Picture Book Got a Crew Cut

I wrote my first picture book. I brought the manuscript to a conference hosted by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, held in Houston this past April. And I felt pretty darn good about my creation. I’d already spent months making adjustments and changes, rearranging sentences and paragraphs.

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Five Ways To Impress My Dog

I’m the seeing-eye person for my little blind dog. I tap my foot to indicate the spot where I’ve dropped Cricket’s treat. I gently tug her head up by the leash so she doesn’t bump her nose on the curb. I squeak her toy before the toss so she knows

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My Old SUV Inspired a Picture Book

I remember the playful statement I made to my teenage son last year on the way to his school. “Will, I need to be a polite driver and obey the laws of the road, because my car is so incredibly recognizable. Other drivers notice me, you know.” Will’s response? Eye

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How I Wrote a Thesis and a Book… At the Same Time!

Completing my thesis—and thus wrapping up my graduate degree—was one of those items I was determined to check off my bucket list. But I had gotten remarried, and my new husband and I were trying to blend our family of three children. Then, I had another baby. Life’s circumstances pushed

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Cathey’s First Blog

Hi guys! I’m a big fan of actress Valerie Harper. Like so many teenage girls, I identified with Rhoda Morgenstern on the 1970s Mary Tyler Moore Show. I love something Valerie said once, “Don’t let your fear today rob you of a fun life.” Since Valerie’s been battling cancer for

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© 2020 Cathey Graham Nickell
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