Closing the Year

Published December 21, 2018 by Elsa Pla

Greetings from my little writing corner of the world.

It’s not easy to find (or steal) alone/focused time to write when you’re working full time, are also an artist, and you’re being distracted by the crazy and terrible stuff happening in our country and the world.

Still, I press on. Very slowly. Easy goals.

Since the last time I posted, I’ve completed three bilingual picture books, each with an accompanying illustration; I’ve started two bilingual chapter books; and I’m almost done with an adult short story. I have a few other projects, old and new, waiting in my whenever-I-can-find-time-for-this file. And that’s pretty much as good as it gets.

I’ve also attended a couple of  SCBWI conferences, participated in a couple of local art shows, and continued to post occasionally to my blogs:

Middle-grade book recommendations: The Reading Café

Thoughts on art and living a simple life : Catch a Butterfly

My online art portfolio: E. Pla Art

This year I’ve added three more writers to my ever-growing list of favorite children’s authors:

Katherine Rundell, author of many wondrous books including Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms and The Explorer.


Lauren Wolk, outstanding author of Beyond the Bright Sea and Wolf Hollow.


Jonathan Auxier, author of many fantastic books including The Night Gardener and Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster.

The Night Gardener by [Auxier, Jonathan]   

I’m currently reading an encouraging collection of essays and speeches, Barking with the Big Dogs, by beloved author Natalie Babbitt.

My goal for the new year is simply to continue moving forward with my writing and art by taking advantage of all the opportunities that may come my way.

May you all have an incredible 2019!




Moving Forward

Published September 18, 2017 by Elsa Pla

A quick update on what I’ve been up to this terrible horrible no good very bad year:


Catch a Butterfly

The Reading Café

Working on my art: 

Elsa Pla Art


Planning a few picture books. (I’ve placed my haiku and poetry collections aside for the moment in order to concentrate on my children’s books.)

And here are two awesome books on writers/writing/reading I’ve read recently: 


“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.” Abraham Lincoln


Encouraging Quotes

Published November 6, 2016 by Elsa Pla

A few encouraging quotes from the little book The Mindful Writer (a collection of short essays on writing inspired by quotes by famous writers and thinkers) by Dinty W. Moore:

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”    –Thomas Mann

“Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” –Barbara Kingsolver

“What crazies we writers are, our heads full of language like buckets of minnows standing in the moonlight on a dock.” –Hayden Carruth

“For me, writing starts with a line, or some imagination, or some notion, and I just go with it as far as I can.” –Thomas Lynch

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” –C.S. Lewis

“A writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.” –Junot Diaz

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” –E.L. Doctorow

“Writing teaches writing.” –John Mc Phee

“Love the writing, love the writing, love the writing… the rest will follow.” –Jane Yolen

“We do not write to be understood. We write in order to understand.” –C. Day Lewis

“I write to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means.” –Joan Didion

“How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” –E.M. Foster

“Writing is a struggle against silence.” –Carlos Fuentes

“I did it for the pure joy of the thing. And if you can do it for joy, you can do it forever.” –Stephen King

“As a writer you are free. You are about the freest person that ever was. Your freedom is what you have bought with your solitude, your loneliness.” –Ursula K. Le Guin

And a few more from my favorite book on writing: Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury:

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows, or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.”

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

“We are cups, quietly and constantly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”

“I came on the old and best ways of writing through ignorance and experiment and was startled when truths leaped out of brushes like quail before gunshot.”

“It is a lie to write in such way as to be rewarded by fame offered you by some snobbish quasi-literary groups in the intellectual gazettes.”

“The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for.”

“Who are your friends? Do they believe in you? Or do they stunt your growth with ridicule and disbelief? If the latter, you haven’t friends. Go find some.”

Disengage and Carry On

Published November 7, 2015 by Elsa Pla

I recently read a memoir titled Five Pages a Day: A Writer’s Journey by Peg Kehret. Peg is a prolific writer who has published many books for children, the first one when she was fifty years old. She is now 78 and continues to write. Her memoir touched me deeply. I enjoyed her straight-forward, no-frills style and the candid and tender way she shared so many details of her writing career and personal life. I was encouraged by her persistence and clarity of purpose and by her simple and unassuming lifestyle. She has dedicated her life to the things she loves–family, writing, animals–in spite of physical weakness (she suffered from polio as a child and from post-polio syndrome since her fifties). She truly embodies the saying “Life is what you make it.”

She does, however, recognize that she has been fortunate in one important way: she has had the luxury of time to write:

“After three days of [attempting to work at a “real job”], I admitted that I would forever be a writer. My novel had not sold, but at least I had written it. I had done my best, and that was better than not trying. How I use my time is more crucial than how much I earn. From then on I did the work I love and never again took a “real” job.

“I was fortunate to have this choice. Carl made enough money for our family to live on, and he enthusiastically supported my writing efforts. Even in the years when I published little, he believed in my work and encouraged me.

“Writers need time to experiment with ideas and words, time to concentrate on a manuscript, time to revise, time to daydream. My husband gave me the luxury of time to write.”

I don’t have the luxury of not having to work at a “real job,” but I do have more time to write now than I when I was a teacher. What I must learn is to be persistent, no matter the circumstances. I can’t write five pages a day, like Peg does, but I can definitely write five pages a week.

What I love most about her memoir, however, is that it reminds me that, in an age of internet hullabaloo, there is still room for unassuming creative souls who just want to quietly dedicate themselves to the work they love.

But for me to do that, I’ve realized, I must periodically disengage myself–from anything and everything that holds me back–and determine to carry on.

(What are the things that hold me back? Personal problems, family problems, health issues, heartache, worries, my children’s needs, the tragedies of the world, the voices around me and inside me… In other words, the terrible business of being a human with a brain and a heart.)

So, because I don’t have much time to write, because sometimes life renders me immobile and speechless, and because persistence is key, from now on, my creative battle cry will be:

Disengage and carry on.


Published September 6, 2015 by Elsa Pla

I continue to be very busy, so I must accept the fact that, for the time being, I’ll be able to post on this blog only a few times a year.

I’ve been working on several short writing projects, and I’ve been gathering ideas for more. That’s all good.

I’ve also been searching for recent (2010-present) outstanding children’s books for the middle-grade crowd (children 8-12 years old).

A few favorites :

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis (companion book to Elijah of Buxton)

Counting by 7s by Holly Sloan

West of the Moon by Margi Preus

The Children of the King by Sonya Hartnett

These books have three things in common: an engaging story line, exemplary writing, and a sense of significance.

That third element has been on my mind recently. As a reader, I prefer to read stories about stuff that matters. I want stories that will touch me or move me in some way. Stories that will open my eyes and heart to important truths. In short, stories that will help me become a better person. And as a writer, those are precisely the kind of stories I want to write.

So there you have it: SIGNIFICANCE. I will add it to my goals as a writer.

“A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight.” –Ursula K. Le Guin


Here Comes the Sun

Published April 13, 2015 by Elsa Pla

I’ve been so busy with my job as school librarian and with growing my little online businesses, that time has flown by and I’ve hardly noticed. I can’t believe my last post was five months ago. Truth is I’ve been thinking and reading about writing during my bits of free time, but I haven’t been doing much actual writing. That said, the winter doldrums are over (yay!), and days are now longer and more productive, so it’s time to push forward and get some real writing done.

“Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter. Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here. Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, and I say: it’s all right.” –From “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles.

Three books I’ve read about reading and writing:

Windows on the World: Fifty Writers, Fifty Views by Matteo Pericoli (A collection of  pairings of drawings of well-known authors’ window views with the authors’ descriptions and reflections on those views. “A perceptual journey through the world as seen through the windows of prominent writers.” –Amazon) This book makes us aware of the effect our surroundings have on our writing.

What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund (A fascinating metacognitive study of what we visualize when we read.) This book also leads us to imagine what readers see when they read what we’ve written.

Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by Sam Weller (Contains discussions on Bradbury’s creative influences and writing process.) Anything written by or about Ray Bradbury is educational and motivational to any writer. Here’s a quote from the book:

“People will always give advice to a writer to slant, to write for the money. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. You will sicken and die. If you turn away from you–who you are, what you are, what you dream, what you need–you are going to wind up so unhappy, so miserable. It’s not worth it. Being poor isn’t so bad as long as you have your imagination and what you are. Being rich for the wrong reason is a lousy business, You aren’t rich at all.” –Ray Bradbury

Thank you, Ray, for making me feel happy about being poor but true to myself as a writer. 🙂


October Leaves

Published October 29, 2014 by Elsa Pla

This past summer I taught a fun writing class on creating stories through comics. I learned a lot of new things about comic books and even created my own! I’ll share some of the skills I learned in a later post.

In August I started working as part-time middle school librarian. I love it! I’ve been very busy, but also quite happy. I had to put my writing and blogging on hold for a while, but now that I’m getting the hang of things at my new job, I’m ready to get back on the writing/blogging saddle.

I’m working on revising a collection of poems that I plan on self-publishing as an ebook. I’m trying to focus on imagery and simplicity. Easier said than done! Fresh images are difficult to create, and simplicity is hard work. I thought I’d be able to breeze through this project, but I was ridiculously wrong. I’m going to have to settle for a summer of 2015 publication date.

Anyway, it’s October–the most amazing month of the year–so here’s an inspirational autumn poem:

October Splendor



Oh, riotous autumn!
Summer greens pale and
Give way to the splendor of
Your burgundy reds and fiery oranges,
Your golden yellows and rusty browns,
Expectancy and possibility
Painted on each and every
Leaf that falls.

Lit by sunlight,
The luminous leaves explode.
The world is aflame!
Trees glow like bonfires,
Leaves drop like sparks
Igniting the ground
With golden fire.

I walk the flaming corridors of fall,
Embracing the blazing colors
Until I, too, catch fire
And join the conflagration:
Life, like a phoenix,
Burning itself up;
A million willing flames
Heralding rebirth and hope.

Copyright © 2011 Elsa Pla