December 30, 2023

2023 Year-End Post and Holiday Greeting

As I’ve shared in this space before, one of the ways I reflect on the past and make way for the future is through the tradition of preparing and mailing holiday greeting cards. Although fewer and fewer folks send out year-end greetings, I continue to look forward to this annual tradition—both the receiving and displaying of cards, letters, and photos from friends and family and the preparation of my own annual update. 

If you are one of my regular readers, you know by now that each year I begin the process by paging through my (old-style) calendar, making note of the highlights and ordinary happenings in our household. I next look for themes. I approach the task as an exercise in creative expression, aiming to share our family’s news in a way that is reflective of the world events and/or a major aspect of our personal lives. And, while I am acutely aware of deep levels of pain and suffering in our world, I often choose to center my annual reflection closer to home and on more joyful aspects of our lived experience. 

There were some significant milestones for our family this year, including my oldest child moving out of the family home and my youngest child turning 21 and studying abroad in Siena, Italy—wine country. Closer to home, over the course of the year our family listened to live music and enjoyed a myriad of picnics and happy hours over shared bottles of wine. We visited several local wineries, and hosted our beloved 2017 exchange student, (aka our Italian son) and his family for a visit—which, not surprisingly, involved some fine wine. Add to that the glasses that have been emptied with like-minded folks over the past year whilst lamenting about the state of our world and strategizing for the future, and a holiday greeting that incorporated different wine labels seemed the perfect pour for this year: 

This year’s greeting entailed more customized graphics than I have used in the past, which stretched me creatively and gave me an excuse to experiment more fully with online tools such as Canva. It also required me to prioritize what I wanted to communicate and be concise in my wording—also a challenge! This practice will serve me well in other aspects of my creative writing journey

As I designed, refined, and reflected on this year’s update, I was reminded that fine wines tend to get better with age, and similarly, the strongest stories ripen over time. I was also reminded that individuals have different tastes and preferences for wine, just as individual agents, editors, and readers have different tastes and preferences for stories. Some types of wine pair more naturally with certain occasions and/or particular meals, and some stories pair more naturally with certain moments in time and/or particular readers. The quest is for strong pairings. 

As a New Year gets underway, I anticipate there will be times to crack open new and fresh varietals to taste and explore, and there will be times to reach into the cellar for a well-aged vintage, open it, and let it breathe. 
Here’s to a generous pour of Peace, Love, Joy, and Creativity in the New Year. Cheers to you and yours!

November 28, 2023

The Gratitude Part of the Writing Life

One of my longtime critique partners, Sara T. Behrman, is currently preparing for the April 2024 launch of her debut picture book, THE SEA HIDES A SEAHORSE, a beautiful, poetic, and information-rich story brilliantly illustrated by Melanie Mikecz, and published by The Collective Book Studio. ( can pre-order Sara's book now, and watch this space for an author interview as the pub date draws near!) 

Dawn Arriving at School Author Visit
Over the past several weeks and months, Sara has asked me a few questions related to my past book launch experiences, and I've done my best to respond to each question with meaningful information. Sara has been very appreciative of my willingness to share my time and insights, and I've been sincere when I've said it's my pleasure to support the launch of her new book, just as she and countless others have enthusiastically supported my own. 

It seems like a good time to take pause and share how grateful I am for the folks who have given my work a boost over the years. 

Thank you, each and every one of you! 

Some recent examples include:

*Being invited by author friends, such as Stephanie Shaw, to participate as a guest author at local schools alongside other author friends, such as Mark Fearing.

Authors Mark Fearing and Stephanie Shaw at School Author Visit

Poster in School Hallway Publicizing Upcoming Author Day 

*Being welcomed into my hometown indie bookstores such as Green Bean Books, Annie Blooms Books, and Powell's Books for book launch events, story times/book readingspanel discussions and writing workshops .

Dawn Dressed at a Pirate Leading a Pirate-y Story Time at Green Bean Books

Dawn in Front of Sign at Annie Blooms Books Announcing Panel Discussion

Dawn Teaching a Young Writers' Workshop at Powells' Books

*Being welcomed into my neighborhood library for book launch events (and to keep me supplied in books!). 

A Display Table with Dawn's Pirate and Cowgirl Books at the West Slope Library

*Having my work spotlighted as a Staff Pick by local booksellers at indie bookstores such as Powell's Books .

Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms, Featured as a Staff Pick at Powell's Books

Dawn's Cowgirl Book Featured as a Staff Pick at Powell's Books

*Being welcomed into indie bookstores when I travel, such as at Page1 Books in Santa Fe.

Dawn Holding her Pirate Book at Page1 Books in Santa Fe

*Having the opportunity to participate in events such as World Read Aloud Day, because of author Kate Messner's ongoing willingness to help teachers and librarians find authors (like me!) who are available to participate. 

Dawn Holding Her Books Pirate, Cowgirl, and Lucy's Blooms in Zoom Frame

*Being interviewed by fellow authors such as Robin Hall for Instagram Live Eventsfeatured as a guest on many other authors' blogs, and featured in / interviewed for various media publications.

Dawn Being Interviewed by Author Robin Hall on Instagram Live

*Collaborating with talented musicians such as Maiah Wynne, Annie Lynn, and Marshall Mitchell to create companion songs for my stories.  

Musician Maiah Wynne, Holding A Copy of Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms

Pirate Alex, One of the Featured Vocalists in the Companion Song to Dawn's Pirate Book

*Having my work championed and celebrated by dear friends and colleagues, such as author Stephanie Shaw and author and founder of Baby FingersLora Heller.

Author Stephanie Shaw Reading Dawn's Pirate and Cowgirl Books

Author Lora Heller Reading Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms

*Being invited as a guest author at special community events, such as the Treasure Hunt Adventure organized by Herringbone Books and Holiday Cheer hosted by the Oregon Historical Society.

Dawn's Books Displayed for Scavenger Hunt Event Hosted by Herringbone Books

Dawn Participating in Holiday Cheer, Hosted by The Oregon Historical Society

*Being included in book signing events with organizations such as Willamette Writers at special events such as The Portland Book Festival.

Dawn's Promo Image for a Book Signing at the Willamette Writers Booth at the Portland Book Festival

*Being nominated by my peers and honored by Literary Arts with the Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award.

Dawn Holding Flowers and Smiling, Just Prior to Receiving the Walt Morey Award
(Photo Credit: Andie Petkus Photography for Literary Arts)

The list goes on and on. 

And then there all of "the little things" that so many different folks have done to support my work:

Showing up at book events and/or posting event details on social channels; Purchasing my books from indie bookstores; Requesting my books at local libraries; Gifting my books to young readers, teachers, literacy organizations; Writing kind notes and reviews; Offering helpful critiques; Laughing in all the right places; Making introductions to industry insiders such as agents, editors, and book sellers; Sharing pro tips. 

I'm sure I've forgotten something or someone important, but suffice it say, "the village" has really come through for me and my books.

All this said, what I'm most grateful for in my writing life is my readers. I was at a professional gathering a couple of weeks ago, and someone who owns one of my books told me that their child asks to have my book read to them again and again, night after night. That was music to my ears. Speaking of music, I've received videos from music teachers who have led their classes to make music to go along with my books. I've also received videos of children reading one of my books aloud, or repeating a phrase from one of my stories. And sometimes I receive photos of child holding one of my books, close. 

A Child Sitting on the Toilet and Holding Dawn's Pirate Book

Two Children Holding Copies of Dawn's Books

A Child Snuggled Into Bed Reading Dawn's Pirate Book

A Child Holding a Copy of Dawn's Book, Lucy's Blooms

Thank you, dear readers, for bringing my books into your homes, schools, and libraries. May you make many happy memories reading my books with the people you love.  

Find more posts on The Writing Life, here.

October 2, 2023

Birth Stories for Books: THE LITTLEST WEAVER, by Robin Hall

Dear Readers, one of the best parts of being involved in the kidlit industry is making new friends. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Robin Hall and her debut picture book, THE LITTLEST WEAVER (illustrated by Stella Lim, Familius, October 2023). 

by Robin Hall and Stella Lim

I became familiar with Robin and her work because we are publishing-house siblings (I have a book with Familius coming out in 2025). Robin and I first chatted back in May for an IG Live feature that she hosts, and now I'm so glad to be able to interview her! Grab your favorite blanket, friends--bonus points if it's hand-woven--and settle in for an inspiring conversation with Robin.   

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome to the blog, Robin. I’m looking forward to learning more about the path to publication for your debut picture book, THE LITTLEST WEAVER.  

This is a very tender and touching story. Would you be willing to share the inspiration for it with us, as well as the process and timeframe between your initial idea for this book and the story that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor?    

Robin Hall: Dawn, thank you for your kind words for The LITTLEST WEAVER. This story started from a need I had to finish a news story I heard back in 2011 after the devastation of the Tohoku Japan tsunami and earthquake. I learned of a father who tried to save his family but didn’t make it in time and saw them all be swept out to sea. I couldn’t stop aching for him, so I wrote a short story to give that sad man a happier ending with a bit of hope. Years later, perhaps 2016, I turned that short story into a picture book. It went through many different variations, complete rewrites, and then deep revisions before becoming the story it is now. I submitted it to my publisher, Familius, in 2018 and they gave me a revise and resubmit. It took me until 2020 to figure out those revisions and send it back. Thankfully, they still loved the story.

DP: Oh my goodness, Robin. What a meaningful way to process a difficult news story. And now you've brought something beautiful into the world as a result.

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of this story to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

RH: My original version was set on a whole different continent. One of the best and biggest revisions was to figure out how to make this story my story. I brought it to my home state of North Carolina, with our own hurricanes, and mountains, and strong weaving tradition. 

Something that has stayed the same is the recognition that sometimes we need to let people be sad, to honor that, as part of the healing process. In the book, Laurel says, “Pa, he’s at the cloudy days part. He needs rain showers to get to the rainbow.”

DP: That exchange is such a compelling part of the story. And I love that you chose to set the story in a place that's familiar and meaningful to you. The authenticity really comes through. 

When you compare your creative process for writing children’s books to your creative process as a weaver, what are some of the key similarities and differences? 

RH: Whether I’m weaving cloth or weaving a story, they both need a structure. For textiles, we have vertical threads under tension that are called warp threads. This is the structure of the textile and sets the confines for me as a weaver. The weft threads are what is woven over and under, adding color and texture. I think of a story structure as the warp of my stories, while the weft is my setting, characters, time period, tone, etc. 

Robin's loom with two shuttles on a twill pattern

One thing that is definitely different is I never feel like my writing is done. With weaving, when I get to the end of my warp, the weaving is done, and so am I. It feels good to have projects that so clearly tell me they are done!

Robin standing next to a loom 

Robin holding a completed wool blanket

DP: I'm so glad I asked this question! I LOVE your response. It's so vivid and instructive.

One of my favorite parts of being an author is connecting with young readers at school, library, and bookstore visits, and I’m always looking for new pro tips. Given your experience teaching a myriad of classes, hosting Instagram Live events and now as a visiting children’s book author, what professional advice or suggestions do you have for fellow author/presenters in terms of planning successful (in-person and/or remote) book events? 

RH: I’m still pretty new to being a published author and slowly figuring that out myself. What seems to work is communicating my vision beforehand and leaning into what I know I can do well. 

I also strongly believe in standing in a superhero pose, legs wide, chest proud, hands on my hips, and taking three deep breaths before presentations. Science shows it improves confidence, and it sure does for me. Plus, it helps me take myself a little less seriously and remember to have fun!

DP: Great, practical tips, Robin!

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

RH: Be patient with the process. Focus on the things I can control (writing a good story) and let go of the rest as best you can.

I also wish I’d known that being author is a little bit like being a mother, we wear a lot of hats. Writer, editor, advocate, publicist, accountant, social media expert, photographer, videographer, and so much more. 

DP: That is for sure!

Is there something you wish someone would ask you about your path to publication for THE LITTLEST WEAVER, that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet? 

RH: My book is releasing during National Spinning and Weaving Week, and it’s something I had no control over, and my publisher didn’t even know about until I told them. It feels just right to be born during this week.

Robin with a table loom holding one of her favorite weaving books

DP: That is really amazing, Robin. The perfect week for this book to be born, indeed!

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on? 

RH: I’m working on multiple picture books and am also revising a historical fiction middle grade about a boy afraid of water who has to move to a lighthouse. 

DP: I look forward to hearing more about these projects as they come to fruition! 

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for THE LITTLEST WEAVER with us, Robin! 

Friends, you can support Robin's work by ordering a copy of her debut at all of the usual places including  Bookshop , your local indie bookstore and/or your local library. You can also order directly from the publisher.


Robin Hall holds an MFA in the Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut picture book, THE LITTLEST WEAVER, will release Fall 2023. She teaches creative writing to children, yoga to all ages, and lives in North Carolina on a tiny farm with one husband, five children, four dogs, three looms, and too many chickens to count. Visit Robin at and on instagram/Twitter @robinhallwrites. 


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the recipient of the 2023 Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award and the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at

August 23, 2023

The Creative Recharge Part of the Writing Life

I've been quiet on social channels this past few months. 

Tualatin River Float

That doesn't mean I've been quiet, creatively. In fact, quite the opposite. I've written new stories, made meaningful revisions to others, read stacks of mentor texts, and started actively experimenting to find my voice in new (to me) genres. 

Although engaging in social channels is an important part of the work (and, indeed, helps me meet fellow creatives and other industry professionals, while opening doors to new ideas and information that aligns with my creative goals), it can also sap my creative energy and take away from my writing time. 

When I'm feeling overwhelmed or depleted, one of the best things I can do for myself is get out into nature. 

And one of my favorite ways to commune with nature is paddling and/or floating on the gentle sections of the Tualatin or Deschutes Rivers. One is near my home in Portland, Oregon. The other is near my home-away-from home in Central Oregon. Both are stunning, and both are replete with sensory details that often find their ways into my stories. 

I also love visiting South Twin Lake, the Cascade Lakes in Central, Oregon, and Paulina Lake in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument

Here are some pics of "Sweet Sophs," one of my favorite paddling companions, relaxing, exploring, and marveling at the natural world around us:

Deschutes River Float

Paulina Lake Paddle

Relaxing on Paulina Lake

Do you have a favorite place or way to creatively recharge? I'd love to hear. 

Find more of my posts about the Writing Life, here

April 11, 2023

The Literary Legacy Part of the Writing Life

Last week I was honored with the Walt Morey Young Readers Literary Legacy Award, an award presented by the Programs for Writers Advisory Council and the Board of Directors of Literary Arts to a person or organization in recognition of significant contributions that have enriched Oregon's young readers. Literary Arts is a community-based nonprofit with a mission to "engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature." 

Photo Credit: Andie Petkus Photography

To say I was in utter shock and disbelief when I received word of receiving this award is quite the understatement. Walt Morey is a big name, and his legacy runs deep. It’s been hard for me to comprehend how I’ve been selected for an award in his honor. 

This is not me being humble. 

Last year my publishing income shrunk to the point that my accountant said I was at risk for the IRS considering me a hobbyist because, and I quote, "They frown on people who are bad at their business." I’ve been rejected by many an agent and editor, but now by my accountant and the IRS?  That was hard to hear. 

And so I hollered out to the Universe: “Hey, I need another book contract with a nice advance. Soon.” 

And the Universe replied, “How about a highly esteemed literary legacy award, instead?”  

“Say, what?”

I am not a hobbyist. I am, in fact, quite serious about my work. And, like the main character in my picture book, Lucy’s Blooms, I’m as persistent as all get out. But you can’t fault me for wondering how my name got flagged for this meaningful acknowledgement. What one big thing had I possibly done to take someone’s notice in a field of literary giants, many of whom would be sitting in the room when I received my award?

These questions prompted me to reflect on the work that I've done. The work that I hold most dear: teaching early literacy workshops, writing books for young readers, advocating for strong school libraries, mentoring aspiring writers, amplifying the voices of other authors via my blog, writing to my lawmakers to let them know where I stand on key issues, knocking on doors to remind my friends and neighbors to vote, caring for and advocating for my family members and the community, the world, that we live in.  

I am the poster child for small steps, and in my experience, little action items add up to bigger action items.  This is what I thought about as I wrote my acceptance speech, which I've shared below: 


Thank you Literary Arts and to the kind people who nominated me for this award. I am honored and humbled. Thank you to my family for all the love and laughter, and to my parents for filling my childhood home with books.
I'd also like to give a shout-out to my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Snook, for his annual reading contest. The student who read the most books each year won the coveted Pleasure Reading Award; a trophy I proudly brought home in 1978.
That cheesy award trophy, now glued together in places, continues to motivate young readers when I share it at author visits. I also like to share tattered copies of some of the titles I breezed through to boost my book count, books like The Digging-est Dog, A Fly Went By. Back then I thought I was gaming the system by including quick, easy reads on my list, but as Mr. Snook likely knew, all of the reading counted. The lyrical sounds, rhythm, and rhyme in these stories contributed to my love of language, and similar patterns found their way into my own writing. Writing that eventually became books for a new generation of young readers.  
Such lovely things were just said about me. What wasn’t said is that I currently have a myriad of manuscripts sitting in slush piles. I’ve yet to find an agent. The publisher I worked with on my last four books was recently sold to another company, and my next book with another publisher just got delayed to 2025. Not quite the resume one imagines bringing home big awards. 
Over the past weeks, I’ve heard from friends and colleagues who wanted to share their reflections about Walt Morey. Although his books certainly made a lasting impression, what people most wanted to talk about was meeting him at school author visits, decades ago. One person summed it up best saying, “Walt Morey engaged with us as if we mattered.” 
And that’s when it hit me that our body of work, our literary legacy, extends well beyond the books that we write and manage to get published. 
Each of us in this room has the power to influence the literary landscape in our communities, in our schools and libraries, and within our families.
Someone in this room read a book by a local author to a child today. Someone else made a purchase at an indie bookstore. I’ll bet someone volunteered at their local library, someone gifted a book to a classroom teacher, and someone wrote a kind letter that will be read and re-read again and again.
Mr. Snook held a reading contest in 1978 that played a part in this year’s Walt Morey award. 
What if tonight’s gathering inspired each of us to take one more seemingly small action to benefit a young reader, or a children’s book author, or a professional who gets books into the hands of young readers. Imagine the legacy that together we’ll leave.    Thank you. 


Home Video of Armin Tolentino's introduction of Dawn and Dawn's Acceptance Speech.


I will treasure Armin's words, and this award, for a long, long time.

Here I am celebrating with family and friends:

Photo Credit: Andie Petkus Photography

Photo Credit: Andie Petkus Photography

More photos of the event by Andie Petkus  Photography   can be found here.  

Last, but certainly not least, here I am with fellow author, Stephanie Shaw. She's the person who spearheaded the award nomination, and she is an amazing author and literacy advocate in her own right. Her latest book, All By Myself, JUST hit bookstores. NOW would be a great time to support HER work and your favorite local indie bookstore.

Image Credit: Family of Stephanie Shaw

Need some additional ideas on how to make a difference in your literary landscape? Get in touch. It doesn’t have to be something big to make a difference. I promise. 


Media mentions about the award announcement: 

Oregon Public Broadcasting:

Portland Mercury:

Portland Tribune:

Oregon Artswatch: 

March 7, 2023

The "Walking Away" Part of the Writing Life

Sometimes the very best thing I can do for one of my stories is to walk away from it. I often come back to the stories I've set aside, but setting a story aside and coming back to it with fresh eyes after some time has passed helps me see problems (and solutions) I didn't see before. 

Dawn's beloved purple hiking boots

Stepping out into nature is also extremely helpful to me in terms of generating new story ideas. It's as though the story-generating part of my brain requires motion and beautiful scenery in order to operate properly! 

I live in Portland, Oregon and spend quite a bit of time in Central Oregon. Both areas offer many beautiful opportunities to explore the great outdoors. This past week I had the good fortune of enjoying several snow hikes, and I also spent one (long and exhausting!) afternoon snow shoeing. 

I decided I would create a blog post to help me organize and share some of my favorite places to hike in Central Oregon. I'll populate this initial post with the places I most recently explored, but I'll add new locations/updates over time, so definitely bookmark this page for your own reference. 

And now for the obligatory disclaimers and safety tips: I am not an outdoor guide. This blog post summarizes some of the beautiful places I've enjoyed hiking and snow shoeing, but please do your own research before you head out into the woods. Bring food, water, and emergency supplies with you when you go out exploring; be a good steward of our natural spaces and places; let folks know where you are going before you head out; and travel with a buddy.

For those of you looking for an actual guidebook, one of my favorites is Bend, Overall by Scott Cook. The most recent edition of this book was published in 2010, and the author has since moved to New Zealand, so I don't anticipate it will be updated again. I'm sure there are more current (and thus more accurate) books available, but this is the one I've dog-eared over the years and still turn to as a general starting point for Central Oregon outings. My husband regularly references the AllTrails Website and App before/during our outings, for more up-to-the-moment info about trail conditions and routes.  

Here are some of the routes we have recently enjoyed:


Deschutes River Trail at LaPine State Park (PDF of LaPine State Park Map):

During the winter months we have hiked this trail with snow shoes, slip-on traction cleats, and snow boots. This is trail I prefer in the winter vs. the spring/summer because the "walls" that border the far side of the river are prettier when they are covered with snow versus bare soil. One of the times we walked this trail we were escorted by a very vocal eagle. It was a breathtaking experience and one that has not repeated itself, but we keep hoping we will cross paths with such a majestic living creature again in the future.  We park near the Don McGregor Memorial Viewpoint and hike along the Deschutes River Trail with the river to our left until just past the cabins for rent when the trail makes a sharp turn to the right. When we hiked in snow boots on 2/28/23, the sun came out at our turn around spot where we stop for lunch. It was glorious! (Last visited 2/28/23)

View of Deschutes River from Don McGregor Memorial Viewpoint

The sun shining down on us and on the snowy trail alongside the Deschutes River

Dutchman Sno-Park Trail Head to Todd Lake (PDF of Nordic Map):

We've done this route previously when the snow shoe trails were more groomed/packed down, but our visit on 3/1/23 was timed directly after some significant area snowfall, so the trail was very soft, deep, and not very wide. We even made the mistake of going along the nordic trail for a bit of time, (which also wasn't groomed, but was a bit wider,  and which (rightfully) irritated a pair of nordic skiers we briefly crossed paths with). The route to Todd Lake is about 3 miles in (and apparently down hill, which we didn't fully grasp until the 3-mile hike back out)! We hiked to the lake, patted down a section of snow alongside the frozen lake to sit on while we ate lunch, and took in the glorious views of Broken Top until our fingers froze and we needed to get moving again. The soft, deep snow combined with the climb out (and it being our forth straight day of snow hikes, but our first hike of the season with snow shoes) left us more exhausted than exhilarated, but the views on this trail and at our lunch break spot are absolutely spectacular and well worth the trek. (Last visited 3/1/2023)

Heading out on Dutchman Flat Trail with Broken Top Mountain in View

Heading deeper into the forest on Dutchman Trail

View of Broken Top Mountain from our lunch spot along the snow covered shores of frozen Todd Lake

Fall River from Day Use Parking Area Near Fall River Campground to Fall River Guard Station:

This is one of our very favorite go-to outings. It's easy to get to from our place in Sunriver, it's a simple walk alongside one of the clearest and most beautiful rivers I've ever seen, and it's as gorgeous and satisfying in the summer months as it is in the winter months. We park at the day use area of the Fall River Campground, which is near a beautiful wooden bridge. We don't cross the bridge, but we nearly always hang out on it for a few minutes to spy on the fish and/or watch the fly fisherman. We walk along the fisherman paths with the river on our left until we reach the end of the river (or more accurately, the beginning of the river). This river literally springs out from ground. Coming from the other direction, one minute there is nothing but forest, and the next minute there is a majestic long and winding river that  springs from the ground. This area is our turnaround spot. It's also the place we typically break for lunch or a snack before turning around. There is a parking area and a primitive rental cabin in this location, so the hike we typically do could easily be done in reverse, starting where the river begins, and ending at the wooden bridge. I never grow tired of looking at Fall River and can't wait to return. (Last visited 2/27/23)

Winter view of Fall River from the bridge

McKay Crossing up to Island Falls alongside Paulina Creek

The official name for this trail is the Peter Skene Ogden Trail. We park in the (very small) day use parking area near the McKay Crossing Campground and follow the creekside trail up for about three miles until a trail sign points to a turnoff to a small wooden bridge that crosses Paulina Creek just above Island Falls. This trail passes several waterfalls (several of which are frozen or nearly frozen during the winter months). In the springtime, as the ice begins to melt, dozens of mini "waterfalls" appear, and the large waterfalls take on new shape. We take the trail to the bridge, then back track along the creek to a natural view point at the top of Island Falls where we stop for lunch. After we have eaten and rested, we head back down the trail with the river on our left. I particularly like that this trail starts uphill and ends going downhill. The hike back to our parking spot is always easier than the hike up, and there are a few sneak-peaks of mountains on the way back down to add to the waterfall views! When we did this hike on 2/26/23, we walked the path in our snow boots. During other winter visits we have used snow shoes or slip-on traction cleats. During the summer months we've hiked in sneakers or even water sandals. (Last visited 2/26/23)

View from the bridge over frozen and snow-covered Paulina Creek looking the direction of Island Falls

I look forward to returning to each of these beautiful places again and agin. 

Stay tuned for additional favorites in future updates to this post!

(And for more of Dawn's thoughts on The Writing Life, click here.)

Last updated March 7, 2023

February 8, 2023

Birth Stories for Books: MABEL'S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES, by Candy Wellins

Dear Readers. Kids whose parents live in different homes experience unique challenges. Today's Birth Stories for Books interview is with author Candy Wellins, whose latest picture book, MABEL’S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES (illustrated by Jess Rose, Beaming Books, October 2022) tackles this topic in a very kid-friendly way. 

by Candy Wellins and Jess Rose

Dawn Prochovnic: Welcome to the blog, Candy. I’m looking forward to learning more about the path to publication for your latest book, MABEL’S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES 

Candy Wellins: Thank you for having me! 

DP: In other interviews you’ve shared the inspiration for your earlier books. I’d love to hear the inspiration that sparked the idea for this latest book, as well as the process and timeframe between your initial idea for this book and the story that was formulated fully enough to submit to an editor.

CW: My parents divorced when I was very young, and I grew up in two homes so the idea came to me very early! I don’t remember what exactly sparked Mabel’s specific story, but I do recall starting with the line, “This is Mabel’s house…and this is also Mabel’s house.” It was fun coming up with contrasting experiences at her two different houses—something I was very familiar with.  

I started writing the story in 2016. It’s gone through many revisions, and we sold it to Beaming Books in early 2021.  

by Candy Wellins and Jess Rose

DP: “This is Mabel’s house…and this is also Mabel’s house” is a great opening line. It immediately drew me into the story and into Mabel's home life. 

When you compare one of your earliest drafts of this story to the version in the published book, what stands out for you in terms of what is most different? Likewise, is there anything in particular that stands out that was included in your earliest drafts and survived the revision process?

CW: One of the biggest changes revisions brought was the addition of Izzy, Mabel’s class pet. Previous versions of the story just had Mabel comparing two different days at her two different houses. My wise critique partners noted that I needed more conflict. I played around with a few different scenarios, but nothing was working. At the time my son was in kindergarten and had a class pet (a stuffed animal thankfully) that spent weekends with different students. The variety of fun weekends inspired me to add Izzy to the story.  

DP: That's such a great example of how critique partners can help us see opportunities for improving our stories. 

Reflecting on the journey from idea to published book, is there any one moment along the way that you credit with opening the door for this particular story to find its way to publication? 

CW: I don’t know if there was one particular moment, but I’d say that anytime you write honestly about authentic experiences it resonates with readers and that often leads to publication. 

DP: When you compare your path to publication for MABEL’S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES to your experience with your earlier books (SATURDAYS ARE FOR STELLA and THE STARS BECKONED),  what are some of the key similarities and differences in terms of the publication journeys for each and/or the similarities and differences between the three different editors/publishers that you’ve worked with?

CW: Book publishing is a bit like parenthood. Every book/child is a totally different experience, but so far everything has been positive for me. There was a time when I would have been worried about publishing with a smaller house. I was worried that I wouldn’t get the same exposure as I might with a bigger name, but I’ve found that hasn’t been the case at all. Write something worthwhile and it will get its due notice.  

DP: I really appreciate that perspective, Candy. That's been my experience as well. 

One of my favorite parts of being an author is connecting with young readers at school, library, and bookstore visits, and I’m always looking for new pro tips. Given your experience as both a former teacher and a children’s book author, what professional advice or suggestions do you have for fellow author/presenters in terms of planning successful (in-person and/or remote) book events? 

CW: I create educator guides that go along with each of my books. I realize not every school can afford author visits and even when you visit a classroom, it’s never long enough to cover everything you’d like. Educator guides allow teachers to go more depth with your book (or topic) with lessons that fit their specific students.  

DP: That's an excellent tip, Candy. I have educators' guides for each of my books as well, and I always encourage teachers, librarians, and parents to check out the book resources on author, illustrator, and publisher websites, because so many provide fantastic learning extensions for their books. 

You are a member of the Soaring 20’s Debut Group. Your group appears to still be quite active well beyond your initial debut cycle. How did you come to be a member of this group? and What advice to you have for others who want to create/be a part an effective book promotion group? 

CW: When I first sold SATURDAYS ARE FOR STELLA, I reached out to Cate Berry for advice and the first thing she told me to do was join a debut group. I was lucky to connect with the Soaring 20s.  

I highly recommend a support group (they aren’t just for debut authors anymore). Not only is great for promotional support (read and reviews, social media shares, blog tours), but it’s great for every day support (advice, encouragement and big virtual hugs when you need them).  

If you’re in a debut group, I’d say play to your strengths. Do you have a favorite social media platform? Can you manage a second account for the group? If technology isn’t your thing, maybe you can help set up blog or podcast visits. Less extroverted types might be able to manage member books and share them amongst members to read and review.  

DP: This is really helpful info, Candy. Thank you so much. 

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your pre-published self? Or, said another way, what do you know now, that you wished you would have known a bit earlier?

CW: I always wanted to be an author, but I felt like it was a bit of an impossible dream. My only regret is that I didn’t pursue it earlier than I did.  

DP: Is there something you wish someone would ask you about your path to publication for MABEL’S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES, that you haven’t had the opportunity to share yet? 

CW: No one has asked about the names of all the kids in Mabel’s class. My three kiddos are hidden in there as well as a few of their friends plus some random names that just felt right.  

DP: Love it! 

Do you have anything you’d like to tell us about what you’re currently working on? 

CW: I just got back the first final art spread for my next book, A GEODUCK IS NOT A DUCK. It’s a picture book graphic novel mystery about the world’s largest species of burrowing clams. It’s going to be so much fun and I can’t wait to share it with the world in early 2024. 

DP: What a great title and concept. I can't wait to read it!

Thanks so much for sharing your Birth Story for MABEL’S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES with us, Candy. 

Readers, you've heard me say it before: The best way to thank an author whose insights have been helpful and/or inspiring to you is to support their work. Buy their books. Request them from your library. Read and share them with others. Candy's books, including MABEL’S TOPSY-TURVY HOMES are available everywhere books are sold—but you know I'm partial to supporting your local, independent bookstore 


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I am a lifelong writer and book lover. A former teacher, I have a BA in journalism and an M.Ed. in literacy education. I’m now a full-time mom to three wonderful children who keep me up-to-date and immersed in children’s literature. When I’m not reading, writing or mothering, I love running, traveling and naps! My debut picture book Saturdays Are for Stella (Illustrated by Charlie Eve Ryan, PAGE STREET KIDS) was named a Kirkus Best Picture Book of 2020. Publishers Weekly called my debut picture book biography The Stars Beckoned: Edward White’s Amazing Walk in Space (Illustrated by Courtney Dawson, PHILOMEL) “an introduction to a space pioneer that’s ideal for the youngest nonfiction readers.” My family and I make our home deep in the heart of Texas. 


Birth Stories for Books is an occasional feature of Dawn Babb Prochovnic's blog. Dawn is the author of multiple picture books including, Lucy's Blooms, Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?, Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?, and 16 books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series. Dawn is a contributing author to the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud, and a frequent presenter at schools, libraries, and educational conferences. Contact Dawn using the form at the left, or learn more at