What Can We Learn from Dr. Seuss?

Ted_Geisel_NYWTS_2_crop1. Perseverance: And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected by at least 20 publishers. Dr. Seuss never won the Newberry or Caldecott Medal, the two prestigious children’s literature awards. He wrote despite his long battle with cancer and was working on four books when he died.

2. Playfulnees: He made sense of nonsense in a way that sparked our imaginations and laughter.

3. Tolerance and Love: Yes, Dr. Seuss shared his unique perspective on these subjects.

“We are all a little weird and life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

-Jillian who needs to get back to work,
because as Dr. Seuss said, “Everything stinks till it’s finished.”

P.S. For those of you who’ve finished your work or want to unleash your inner Seussness, here are two fun links.


Words Made Up by Dr. Seuss


Nonsense Word Generator


Plotter or Pantster? A Quest for the Perfect Strategy


First I tried being a pantster. Not a good look on my manuscript or me. Squishing color-coded scenes in a spreadsheet gave me a headache. The thought of storyboards and detailed charts terrified me. Where would the dust bunnies sleep? What if they got stuck to the post-it notes overnight?

Next I settled on writing an outline and received great feedback at a brainstorming session with my critique group. I found this process very useful when the story idea was just a plot of my imagination.

Then I took Laurie Schnebly Campbell’s online workshop, Writing Your Synopsis “Mad Men” Style. My favorite tool from that class was the strategizing worksheet which was great for synopses and plotting.

Yes, you read me correctly. PLOTTING. By the time I completed the strategizing worksheet, I repaired potholes and sinkholes, raised the stakes, rearranged the scenes/chapters, and had a four-act structure for my revised plot. The worksheet was a quick, compact, and flexible reference and stayed in a dust bunny free zone on my computer as I worked on my second draft.

Do I know all there is about plotting? No, which is why I tweak my process with craft book and workshop tips from plotting gurus and published authors. The next stop on my quest is Laurie’s upcoming class, Plotting Via Motivation. I promised her I’d leave my dust bunnies at home.

What’s your perfect plotting strategy?

Laurie Schnebly Campbell

PLOTTING VIA MOTIVATION (March 4-29) $40 ( $35 if paid by check)

Valentine’s Day


Happy Valentine’s Day!

– Jillian Lark

Victorians’ Secrets: Tussie-Mussies and Sweetheart Flower Clocks


What are tussie-mussies? Tussie refers to a small bunch of flowers and mussie means the moss moistened to keep the flowers fresh. Tussie-mussie holders vary from paper to lace to silver.


In the nineteenth century Victorians were passionate about floriagraphy, the language of flowers, and consulted books on the subject before selecting the perfect flowers for their sentiments. Some enterprising Victorian sweethearts combined their messages with a coded floral clock to arrange and confirm the hour for rendezvous at a predetermined place.



IVY: Meet me.

PRIMROSE & IVY: I will meet you.

LAVENDER & IVY: I cannot meet you.

FIELD POPPY: Make another appointment.

CLOVER: Today.



CARNATION: Noon or midnight

RED ROSE: One o’clock

MARIGOLD: Two o’clock

VIOLET: Three o’clock

DAISY: Four o’clock

A tussie-mussie of ivy, primroses, clover, and violets would convey “Meet me today at three o’clock.” If a young lady sent back the ivy and primrose, her beloved understood her reply, “I will meet you.”

What tussie-mussie message and reply would you create?


Language of Flowers book by Kate Greenaway 1884


Victorians’ Secrets: The Love Letter

Sir Horace Edmund Avory, a noted British solicitor and jurist of the late Victorian era, reportedly said “No one but a lunatic would keep a copy of his love letters.” If so, I’ve read many poignant letters written by famous and obscure lunatics.

Victorians consulted popular manuals on letter writing etiquette. Lovers wishing to keep their communications private used coded messages and stamp positioning to indicate meanings to the recipients. Letters were often hidden in the secret compartments of writing desks, canes, and parasols. If discovered, the incriminating missives could lead to scandal, divorce, blackmail, or murder.

In this age of instant messaging is the art of writing love letters dead, too?


Nineteenth Century Manual (with tips on letter writing and stamp positioning)


Nineteenth Century Letters and Codes




Nineteenth Century Box with Hidden Compartments