So You Want to be a Writer
School Days Colleagues
Danielle and I haven't seen each other in a lot of time. Both of our teaching schedules in schools far apart, her graduate work, my crazy schedule with David's doctor appointments, my TBI book and my book review column and just about anything else that passes through our lives seems to have stolen any free moments we could get together. BUT . . . we made up for it last week. We met for coffee to catch up on the changes in our lives. It turned into a marathon coffee/chat fest. We sat over one cup of coffee each for six hours--intent on talking, talking, TALKING! We never noticed the time passing. We never thought about ordering another coffee or maybe a sandwich. It seemed like we were there for only an hour. But when the hands of the clock struck 10:00 pm, we knew we would have to continue our chat another time. Hopefully, we will not allow so much time to pass. 010808
Student Memories

Lily was my flower. I’ve had many flowers over the years, but Lily was my first. She was another student that I was lucky to teach in both 1st and 3rd grades. She had a quiet way about herself, and her studies did not come easily to her, but Lily never stopped trying. Each day she sat at her desk and plugged away. She worked hard, even though it didn’t seem like she was getting very far. It wasn’t until near the end of 3rd grade that she began to bloom. And bloom she did! As a little bud opens slowly to form a beautiful flower, so did Lily. Now each year she proudly shares her report card with me each term. Look! Another “A!” I’m so proud of you, Lily.
To register for KINDLING WORDS: the RETREAT or for information concerning eligibilty . . .

Donna O'Donnell Figurski, Registrar
306 Wilshire Drive
Nutley, New Jersey 07110

or email Donna at:

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Complete information about the retreat, including bios of the presenters, rates and registration directions, can be found at:
?OLE! Mexico ?OLE!
My Published Work
The Legend of the Silver Birch
The Legend of the Silver Birch
Phrogs FROGS Phrogs
Friends on the Fast Track
Another Season 
Another Win
Another Season
Another Win
Randy, Mark, David
Racing to the Podium
Randy, Mark, David
Racing to the Podium
After the Win
After the Win
*NEW* TBI Traumatic Brain Injury - A Living Nightmare
Clara Maass Hospital
									Belleville, New Jersey
									This is the emergency entrance.
Clara Maass Hospital
Belleville, New Jersey
This is the emergency entrance.
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
									New York City
									The building David works in, 
									The Arm
Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
New York City
The building David works in,
The Armand Hammer Building,
is directly across the street.
(see the tall, red building on the left.)
Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation
East Orange, New Jersey
David spent two long months
as an inpatient here.
He continued his therapy
there for the next year.
Writer Friends
Barbara and I 
just hanging out
Barbara and I
just hanging out
Writers, Laura Stevenson and Franklin Reeve
Writers, Laura Stevenson and Franklin Reeve
also spent a day discussing their writing endeavors.
(Franklin Reeve is the father
of the late Christopher Reeve, Superman)
Paula Morrow, Executive Editor of Ladybug &
Paula Morrow, Executive Editor of Ladybug &
Babybug was a featured guest, as was
her writer, husband, Bob Morrow.
Vermont Workshop Writers
Vermont Workshop Writers

Every year Barbara hosts a writing retreat near her Vermont home. Writers gather from all over the country to talk writing and practice their craft. In 2004 I trekked to Vermont to share in this experience.

Flowers Around the World
*NEW* Strange Happenings
									Stainless Steel 
Stainless Steel
Take your Pick!
									Lots of Jewelry
Take your Pick!
Lots of Jewelry
OH! So Pretty!
OH! So Pretty!
One day I walked the streets of New York City with my friend, Monique. We found ourselves in the Village. Our steps took us to a storefront called "Venus". We were drawn in. We stared at the counters filled with jewels and gems . . . opals, diamonds, sterling silver beads. Jewels for your ears, eyebrows, and tongues. Gems for you navel, nose, and upper lip frenulum. UPPER LIP FRENULUM??? What's that? I didn't know what it was either. It's the tiny flap of skin that attaches your upper lip to your gums above your top teeth.
*NEW* WIND RIVER Prokaryotic Biology
on top of 
the world
on top of
the world
A Stand of Trees
A Stand of Trees
*NEW* Treska Trivia - A Slice of Life
Treska & Grandpa 
hanging out in the 
Chiropractor's Office
Treska & Grandpa
hanging out in the
Chiropractor's Office
Dr. Lou Schimmel 
is working on Grandpa.
Looks like it hurts, but 
Grandpa says th
Dr. Lou Schimmel
is working on Grandpa.
Looks like it hurts, but
Grandpa says that it doesn't.
It helps him to stand up better
so he can learn to walk again.
David has to go to the chiropractor three times a week and so Treska and I go with him. We go to The Chiropractic Center at Styertown. Dr. Lou Schimmel is his chiropractor. He cracks his back and stretches him. He is really adjusting his spine to help him stand up straighter and to help with his balance. We think it's helping him too!
Donna has four stories in the Scholastic Press Literacy Place 2000 anthology. These books are found in classrooms all over the United States as supplementary materials which compliment the reading programs. The third grade titles are A Star Wish, and Miss Emma Gets Her Way. The story in the fourth grade book is called The Legend of the Silver Birch, and Never Going to Grow Up can be read in the book for fifth graders. Donna has also published an activity called Snowflake Snippets in MAILBOX magazine, which focuses on teacher classroom interests.
Fotos of Phrends
                June 2006

This is my friend, Patty Williams Streips. I call her Trisha. No one else does. Only ME!

Trisha and I met in Rochester, New York. She was the secretary for the Microbiology Department at the University of Rochester. My husband, David, and I lived in Rochester for four years right after we were married, while David did his graduate work in the Micro Department at the U of R. You can read more about Trisha on my WIND River page. Below is a poem I wrote for my . . .


Though we don’t talk on the telephone, 
Or see each other every day.   
Our hearts, our minds, our souls, 
Are not so far away.   

You know I’ll be here for you. 
And I know you’re there for me. 
A friendship likes yours and mine, 
Is treasured eternally.  

You are my friend; and I am yours.     
Oh . . . the secrets and joys we share!    
I send my love, girlfriend,
To remind you that I care.  

With love and wishes
for a happy birthday!

Streets of New York City
 Grocery Storenycgrocerystore2006 Magazine Vendornycmagazinevendor2006
Popovers Cafe
one of my favorite restaurants
nycpopovers2006   Church on Amsterdam

 Grocery Store



Church on Broadway
Teacher/Book Reviewer




Just hopping by to tell you that the new Teacher's Pets Frog logo was created by my friend, Sheryl Lloyd.

OK! so I'm not hopping -- just sitting here absorbing these good books and you can too. There's plenty of good reading where these came from. Keep on scrolling to find a lot of "ribbetting" tales.

Hoppy Reading!
Fan Mail 2008
Random Stuff
What color is your brain?
Is it purple or red? Is it green,
, or blue?

Are you mellow?
Are you vibrant?
Are you friendly and outgoing?
Do you like to travel in far remote villages or laze on a warm, sunny beach? Would a safari in the deep jungle be more your style?

                      Brains/personalities come in all different types. They are impassioned. They are relaxed. They are frenzied and creative, and inventive. Do you ever wonder what color your brain is?  I do.

And so I asked my friends a few questions. I have very colorful friends.

My BLUE-Brained Friends
David-husband; Kaya-granddaughter; Jared-son; Kiersten-daughter; Tricia-fav cuz; Krystil-niece; Bob, F.-University of Pittsburgh, Phi Kappa Theta friend

Your Mind is Blue
Of all the mind types, yours is the most mellow.
You tend to be in a meditative state most of the time. You don't try to think away

your troubles.
Your thoughts are realistic, fresh, and honest. You truly see things as how they are.
You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your friends, your surroundings, and your life.
                      My YELLOW-Brained Friendsbrain-yellow-clipart-picture2

Of all the mind types, yours is the most intellectual.
You crave mental stimulation, and your thoughts tend to very complex.
Your thoughts tend to be innovative and cutting edge, though many people don't understand them.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about science, architecture, and communication.

My PURPLE-Brained Friends
Treska-granddaughter;  Donna-self; Gayle-writer friend from Arkansas; Cousin-Kathy S.;
Cousin-Lisa L.

Of all the mind types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.

Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.

My RED-Brained Friendsbrain-red-clipart-picture41

Of all the mind types, yours is the most impulsive.
If you think it, you do it. And you can get the bug to pursue almost any passion.
Your thoughts are big and bold. Your mind has no inhibitions.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about love, your dreams, and distant places.

My GREEN-Brained Friends

Of all the mind types, yours has the most balance.brain-green-clipart-picture35
You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver.
You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

My ORANGE-Brained Friends

Of all the mind types, yours is the quickest.
brain-clipart-picture8 You are usually thinking a mile a minute, and you could be thinking about anything at all.
Your thoughts are often scattered and random - but they're also a lot of fun!

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about esoteric subjects, the meaning of life, and pop culture.

To learn more or try the game yourself.
Go to: What Color is Your Mind?
My Family Album
(August 2009)

Here's a letter I wrote to my granddaughter.

         Hi Treska,

     You are amazing! I am so proud of you. As a fellow writer, I must tell you how excited I was when I saw your article, "Learning to Live Off the Land" in Mother Earth News. treska-mother-earth-news-c(Don't forget to click on the image gallery to see more pictures.) It was beautifully written.
     After spending two weeks on the farm with you this summer, I realize what a joy it is. The calm, peaceful time in the field picking onions, radishes, kale and sugar snap peas was so refreshing.
     You had a dream and you are living it. What more can anyone want? I know you have a lot of dreams and I know that you will make them all come true.
     Follow your dreams always.

     Love, Granny

Treska, a beautiful 13 year old dynamo, is following many dreams. Pluck her out of the treska-farm-3field, surrounded by onions, broccoli, tomatoes, and corn and plop her onto the floor of the dance studio and she will transform in front of your eyes -- a beautiful ballerina. In her African dance class, she is a whirl of color.

Treska's short list of career dreams include ballerina, of course, pediatrician, midwife, and super model. The beauty of it all is that she can accomplish any one of these dreams.

Here are the comments that family and friends have sent to Treska. I thank them all dearly for their lovely sentiments.

Pat  Streips (my best friend)

You should be proud - great article - love that they are so interested in caring for the earth and living off the land.  I want to live there and garden with them.

Len & Helen Andrew (Kiersten's very close friend -- Marcy's Parents)

You should be very proud of Treska and Kiersten, as well as the rest of the family. Having them as neighbors has changed Marcy's life and has been a blessing.

Nancy McDonough (friend and mentor -- Nancy was my student teacher mentor when I was learning to be a teacher. She is a 2nd grade teacher and a book reviewer for NSTA National Science Teachers Association.)

"What a brilliant piece of writing--fresh, personal and engaging, with not a wasted word!! This praise comes at the same time I am reading over 200 books vying for inclusion of the list of Outstanding Science Trade Books of 2009, so I know of whence I speak!!"

Marliyn Singer (friend and author of more than 80 books)

What a great article!  I loved it!  You and David and Treska's parents must be so proud.


Bryce Williams (cousin and friend)


Another writer in the family! Great article! You should be very proud. Of course, I'm sure David is taking the credit for her writing talent as well as her farming abilities. He sees it as lab work.  Aren't grand kids great?


Meish Goldish (friend and author of more than 100 books for children and teachers)


Thank you for sharing your (grand)daughter's article. It is so well written! I see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

Take care,

Judy Thau (sweet friend and fellow traveler on the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) train)

What a beautiful, smart, enlightened granddaughter you and David have. You must be bursting with pride over this. I have shared it with my kids, my two oldest grandchildren and a very dear friend that teaches special needs children (around Treska's age). Please let her know she is an inspiration.
Both girls are lovely..... just like their Grandma!

Much love,

Monique (our German friend)

"WOW, great article! I loved reading it! The carrots looked delicious..."

Christine Hayward (Aunt Patrice's sister)

Thanks for sharing the article.  What a wonderful experience it sounds like she is having.  She has found her passion and so beautifully shared it with us all.  You must feel so proud of her insight and ability to articulate it with others.

Barbara Seuling (author friend who has written more than 100 books)

Thanks ! You must be so proud! I'm looking forward to reading this.


Kiersten Figurski likes this.

Maureen O'Donnell Kobierowski  (niece)

This is fantastic! Way to go Treska!!! = )

Kevin Scully    (old high school friend)

Donna -- fantastic -- thanks!

Saul Silverstein (Columbia Professor and friend)

You are just such a jewish mother, nice work on their part, nice
quelling on yours.

My Writing Life

Beginners Guide to Getting Published by Editors of Writer's Digest Books
You Can Write for Children by Tracey Dils
How To Write a Children's Book & Get It Published by Barbara Seuling
Writing for Children and Getting Published by Allan Frewin Jones & Lesley Pollinger
The Writer's Guide to Crafting Stories for Children by Nancy Lamb
How to Write and Sell Children's Picture Books by Jean E. Karl
Writing for Children & Teenagers by Lee Wyndham
Writing and Publishing Books for Children in the 1990s by Olga Litowinsky
Book Editors Talk to Writers by Judy Mandell
How To Get Happily Published by Judith Applebaum
If You Can Talk, You Can Write by Joel Saltzman
How To Be Successfully Published in Magazines by Linda Konner
Writing for Children by Catherine Woolley
How to Write & Sell Your First Novel by Oscar Collier with Frances Spatz Leighton
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books by Harold D. Underdown and Lynn Rominger
Creating Characters Kids Will Love by Elaine Marie Alphin
The Everything Get Published Book by Peter Rubie

Children\'s Writers Workshop

We were all very sad to see the WRITERS CLUB on AOL dissolve, and especially our CHILDREN'S WRITERS WORKSHOP. I have been involved since 1994 while Anne LeMieaux, (Swan522) Roland Smith, (RSmith) and Barbara (TwisterB) were moderating. When Barbara retired, I stepped into her position as Greeter for Anne and Roland. Some time later Anne and Roland retired, turning the chat over to Marilyn Singer, (WriterBabe). I continued as Greeter and Chuck Galey, (CGaley) came on board as my back-up. Then he eventually moved into the co-Host position. This made way for Sue Eden, (BOEDEN) to cover Chuck's vacated position as she took over as my back-up. During this entire time our silent partner, Joan Holub, (JOANWRITE) faithfully logged each chat and uploaded it to our archived library. I know that many of you are not able to attend the chat in person, but I'm aware that the libraries are well used.

As a team, Marilyn, Chuck, Sue, Joan, and I discussed a variety of ways to keep the chat alive and intact, but AOL made it very difficult for us. Although they readily offered another forum area where we could open our workshop, they required us each to take additional hosting courses. (AOL COLLEGE ;)) Since ours are purely voluntary positions and since we have each been in our respective positions for many years, we found this offensive. Unfortunately AOL would not budge on their requirements so it was either take the courses or allow the chat to slip into cyber blackness.
Fortunately for me, this changeover occurred during the summertime while I was not teaching 1st grade, so I decided to bite the bullet, take the additional 14 hours of classes, (I already had 12 hours.) and move the chat to its new home at CAREERS & WORKPLACE. Sue, who was also required to take additional classes, agreed to join me as the Greeter for the chat, while I act as Host/Moderator.

Many years later AOL had another drastic change and Sue and I handed the chat over to a faithful attendee Carolyn M. Johnson (LynWriteBk). You can find Lyn hosting the Children's Writers Workshop at Pro Writers Workshop on AOL each Thursday night at 9:00 P.M. Stop by for valuable information on the many topics of writing for children.

Phhewww-- History lesson is over. But, I wanted you to understand how the CHILDREN'S WRITERS WORKSHOP has evolved since, I believe, its beginning in the early 1990s. If I have inadvertently omitted anyone involved in the chat's history, I greatly apologize.


Student Memories
Karen starred as Wilbur in a 3rd grade adaptation of Charlotte’s Web. The class not only staged the play for the whole school, but they also performed at one of the local malls.

Cathy was Mrs. Zuckerman. Ooops, small problem here. “She won’t wear a dress,” insisted her mother. So this farm lady wore overalls. Cathy was happy.

Melissa was a gorgeous spider.
Hope to see you there!
Teacher/Book Reviewer

Surrounded with books.
Surround me with books and I'm happy.

Did I say that I loved children's books?

                     I do!

If you look behind me, you will see part of my library. I own more than 2,000 books. AND . . . yes, I have read almost all of them, many, many times.

If you look closely, you will see some of my favorite books from some of my favorite friends.

Let's see . . . there's the GUINNESS RECORD BREAKERS by Karen Romano Young on the floor next to me. If you want to find out about the biggest bubble gum bubble or the tallest sand castle, just open the pages of Karen's book and have fun.

Buried under OLIVIA by Ian Falconer and WHERE DOES THE TRAIL LEAD by Burton Albert and illustrated by Brian Pinkney is my friend, Linda Taylor's book, called THE LETTUCE LEAF BIRTHDAY LETTER. Julie Durrell illustrated the book and the pictures are gorgeous. I love this story about a misunderstanding on Goose's birthday. Shortly after the book was published, Linda visited my classroom. She brought silk lettuce leaves for each of my students. The students gave Linda a gift, too. To Linda's surprise the children had been practicing her story for weeks as a play -- complete with costumes, scenery, and props. It was a great day! I'll never forget it. I don't think the students will either.

Can you tell which book I am reading? I'll give you a hint. She's not a crayon. Yep! It's an Amber Brown book written by Paula Danziger, illustrated by Tony Ross. This book is called GET READY FOR SECOND GRADE, AMBER BROWN and it's just perfect for my first grade students. I love all of Paula's books, and I own a lot . . . not all of them, but those shelves behind me are sagging in the "D" section. Now, Paula is writing books for early readers. My class loves them. I love them. AND . . . Paula, Dear, I love you for it.
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