When Winning First Place Isn’t Enough


If you, my young readers out there, are writing (and I hope you are) chances are that at some point you’re going to win an award for your work. I can still remember one of the first awards I ever won for writing. It was a statewide poetry contest when I was in the 4th grade.  The winning entries were published in the newspaper at the state capital. Being a packrat, I probably still have the paper certificate somewhere. My writing career had begun!

I’m not going to lie to you. I still like winning – a lot. In fact, when I won first place in the PNWA Literary Contest children’s category last summer it was a night I will always hold close to my heart.

However, the reason I have not been posting more over the past few months is because I have been rewriting that winning story. Why? Two reasons. One, I received some suggestions on how I could make the story more competitive in the marketplace. And two, the judge inside of me knew something was missing from that blue-ribbon piece. I am happy with it now and proud to offer this new story to the world.

As you continue writing and learning I hope that you will enjoy the awards you are sure to receive but also that you will judge your work according to your own blue-ribbon standards. Write on!


Red Carpet Case #1 – The Victorian with a Secret

  1. This post was created with the help of storify.com to provide additional background information for the first installment of my new children’s mystery series. Please stay tuned to my website for details on when this book will be available!

  2. Mabel Caylor was an abolitionist and young admirer of Harriet Tubman.

  3. Share
    RT @CASJustice
    “Freedom for myself is not enough” – Harriet Tubman
    Wed, Aug 17 2011 14:41:45
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    RT @Africans4Africa: I freed a thousand slaves, I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves. ~Harriet Tubman
    Wed, Aug 17 2011 13:52:59
  5. Share
    Harriet Tubman
    Mon, Feb 25 2008 19:57:01
  6. Share
    America the Story of Us: Harriet Tubman
    Thu, May 20 2010 22:40:35
  7. Share
    Harriet Tubman
    Mon, Mar 15 2010 21:23:43
  8. Share
    The planned Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Dorchester County is getting $8.5 million for construction costs from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the last piece it needed to move forward. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley made the announcement for the $21 million project…
    Wed, Aug 17 2011 08:36:04
  9. Share
    Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
    Harriet Tubman
    Wed, Aug 17 2011 14:42:35
  10. How would Mabel Caylor have dressed during Civil War time?

  11. Share

    Sun, Feb 12 2012 14:06:27
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    Sun, Feb 12 2012 14:06:27
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    Fri, Feb 10 2012 16:40:14
  14. Mabel Caylor chose to use silk for her quilt squares. Did you know that America once had a thriving silk industry?

  15. The Pultneyville Historical Museum featured a display of Victorian hair art. Silla also found one of the missing quilt squares hidden behind a framed piece of hair art. Can hair art still be found today? What does it look like?

  16. Share

    Fri, Feb 10 2012 16:40:13
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    Fri, Feb 10 2012 16:40:14
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    Fri, Feb 10 2012 16:40:48
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    Sun, Feb 12 2012 14:06:27
  20. Quilts are central to Joe and Silla’s detective work. What did quilts look like during the Civil War?

Put a vote in our stocking for the holidays! It’s time for the MeeGenius picture book contest!


As we perch here on the edge of the holiday festivities we are thankful for all the blessings that have come our way in the past year. New friends, new opportunities, new doors opening to the future – and we hope that you are feeling the same.

Interactive picture book
Illustration: Heather Harris-Brady

    In between the tinsel and the snitzel we hope you’ll take a minute to vote for our entry in the MeeGenius Author Challenge 2011. Our entry is an interactive picture book called The Berry Jam.  Young readers choose what berries to pick, practice their counting, enjoy a sing-a-long and then cook up a batch of fresh berry jam complete with their own customized jars and labels.

    The link you need to use for voting appears below. 
Thank you!

Blazing a Trail


Given the fact that the Tall Tale Factory is devoted to not only great stories, but immersive digital experiences to go along with them, it goes without saying we would likely not be on this path if not for Steve Jobs. Words to live by:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.                – Steve Jobs

Amazing Women of History – 9.11


This story appeared in the Daily Intel, as extracted from the Washington Post:

Lieutenant Heather “Lucky” Penney  was the first female F-16 pilot in the D.C. Air National Guard’s 121st Fighter Squadron after getting her flying license while a literature major at Purdue. On September 11, 2001, she volunteered to go after United Airlines Flight 93, which was headed toward Washington. The planes weren’t prepared, but the pilots were:

The one thing she didn’t have as she roared into the crystalline sky was live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft.

Because the surprise attacks were unfolding, in that innocent age, faster than they could arm war planes, Penney and her commanding officer went up to fly their jets straight into a Boeing 757.

“We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft,” Penney recalls of her charge that day. “I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.”

Due to separate heroic acts on the highjacked plane, Penney’s  sacrifice wasn’t necessary. She spent the rest of that day guarding the airspace and escorting the president.