Lori Ries

Fun Fiction for Ready Readers


Time Out for Learning

April 23, 2015

Meet Molly. Molly is a German Shepherd. German Shepherds are known as "working dogs."
For those of you that keep emailing me asking about new Aggie Books, unfortunately, Charlesbridge has decided that the series is complete.

The Aggie books are still available, however, and who knows what new characters will be born as I experience something new.

I've gone back to school through a wonderful program called Pathway. Pathway is linked to Brigham Young University-Idaho campus. I began this journey fall of this year and I am preparing now to matriculate into becoming a full time BYU-I student. My goal is to continue to grow my writing, while also learning the editing side of the industry. As I write more and more for school, I suspect stories will also come in tapping into that creative side of my brain. I had to laugh though, last term was math, and I couldn't write at all with all my writing energy spent in mathematics.

There have been many changes in this season of life as I enter the "Empty Nesters Club." I retired as a trustee on the Highlights Foundation Board last spring. I miss working with Highlight's immensely, but I am concentrating on my education right now. Nikita, my pup of 12 years also passed.

I can see why many writers include death in stories about dogs. That is part of the journey. It is heartbreaking and peace giving all at once. Kita was an old pup. I decided not to do such a book, but to keep Aggie well and alive for readers. I smiled the other day seeing a boy post a picture of his lost dog with his mom. It was sad, but sweet knowing how many kids can find support in Aggie: in getting a dog, in training a dog, in having a dog with medical conditions, and in losing (and hopefully finding) that beloved pet. To my mind Aggie loves children well, and I hope her life will continue to delight readers for a very long time.

For those who have lost a dog, I can relate to that pain. I wept, and still sometimes get teary passing the place where she died. But when I pull out pictures or remember funny things like how Nikita stole a whole chicken, and ran around quickly gulping until it was gone, bones and all. (This was dinner that was cooling on the counter. We went for Pizza.) I remember how she somehow got head to toe so muddy that I thought there was a wild dog in my yard not recognizing her, how when we moved to this house, she found a snake friend and gently held it in her mouth while trying to show it to me. She walked with me on long walks for story brain storming sessions as we pondered how we might get Aggie into trouble next, and how we might talk to kids about tough things like Cancer. I miss her company, but when I remember Nikita, I come to realize she still lives in my heart. I hope young friends who have lost a beloved pet remember to remember, that that sweetness of love in the memory lives on.

I have another pup now. Her name is Molly. My 9 mo old German Shepherd thinks I'm a punching bag, not knowing her own strength. This is a whole different breed of dog, and that is a completely different story!

To my writer friends may your stories continue to breathe in the inspiration all around you. To my reader friends, may you continue to delve into books and expand your imagination in that wonderful world created just for you! I write books that children can be well entertained while learning to read. I will continue that work, but will work to grow to become the very best writer that I can become. Writing is my passion, and I promise you I won't ignore character friends as they come playfully to my mind to be written.

I wish my reader and writer friends the best in what ever your individual endeavors and journeys might be. Happiness is working dreams into reality.
Dream and work on.


To New Adventures on the Hill

March 3, 2014

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section

It's hard to believe how quickly the year has flown. It's nearly springtime again. We welcomed a beautiful new granddaughter, so we now have four granddaughters!
Up here on the hill the buds are awaking. Snow is gone, and the rains have set in.
Dear coats are beginning to lighten and Nikita is enjoying muddy paws and chasing cats again.

Readers have asked me if there will be more Aggie stories. I've asked my publisher about that. I still write them, but as to if they will be published, I can't say, but I hope so. As reader fans know, Aggie is close to my heart, but if not perhaps the new characters being born will delight our reader friends.

I'm still having fun playing in my mind's playground with character friends old and new.
May stories and readers continue to blossom and grow as spring brings us warmer days, and sunshine.

This weekend I enjoyed taking part of an author panel at the OCTE conference here in Portland. It was delightful to join Erik Kimmel and Marie Smith to speak about our work with Educators and hold a Q&A session afterward. Our audience was wonderful. I love how these teachers are passionate about books and their students' needs.

There's not much new news on this end. Things have been quiet, but in stillness inspiration comes. I look forward to more writing, more writer experiences, and more smiling readers.

Here's to whatever lies ahead for all of us this season of newness and waking spring.

Happy Adventures!

New Beginnings

January 14, 2013

Happy New Year, Everyone!

This last academic, 2011-2012, year many changes came. I was teaching early morning seminary to a wonderful class of high school sophomores. My days began at 4 am, and it was great to begin each morning with these happy energetic teenagers that I affectionately named, the Awesomites.

I also returned to school myself. My focus was on psychology, as I thought that learning how people think could help me in building stronger characters and plots. (Getting inside heads.) With long late nights and earlier than bird mornings, however... I kinda snuffed out my muse!

So now... with no school it's new beginnings! Isn't it nice that we have a repeat of new days/ slates to start from? Writer friends, learn from me. Be sure to balance and take care of you, or you won't be able to take care of your characters!

January finds me elated! I'm off to attend a conference with another group of writers that my husband actually found for me. They are called the AMERICAN NIGHT WRITERS ASSOCIATION. I completely understand why they're called night writers, as that was my log in years ago when my children were young and my writing came to life at night while the world slept. I am a mom first and foremost and that common understanding, in their name, just makes me smile. The ANWA conference is in February, so I'll be here to welcome my newest granddaughter into the world at the start of February and then be off to sunny Mesa, AZ at the month's end.

What's interesting about this group is they are all women writers of my faith. That's pretty different and will be fun to explore. Feeling better and more and more like myself, I'm ready to jump back in and start again to see just what I might do, write, give, and learn. It's nice to reenter the writing world. Watch for new events and works. They will be coming! Remember, the only way to truly fail, is to quit.

I wish my reader fans and writer friends a wondrous new year filled with fun and adventure. Life is good, and so is life in fiction. See you on the bookshelf!

Onward and Upward!

November 4, 2011

Autumn is filled with color and I love driving country roads where the trees are filled with crimson, gold, and autumn hues.

So much has changed along with the scenery. This past year I became the mother in law of a darling girl that married our eldest son, a grandmother of the cutest little baby girl you ever did see, and just learned I'm to be a grandma again! There is lots of excitement happening up here on the mountain!

I also started going back to school, and I'm loving the opportunity to expand my mind and writing skills. it's wonderful to get to explore the world from a student point of view again. I've always been passionate about learning so this has been great fun.

Of course, with all these changes, I'm also still writing. It's been an amazing year with Good Dog Aggie, receiving the Maryland Blue Crab Award, and Aggie the Brave becoming an Oregon Spirit Award Honor Book. I look back and I am just so amazed at this journey, and am so, so grateful for my writing life.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
Take pleasure in the words and worlds all around you.

Warm Wishes,

Springing Into Summer

May 28, 2011

May brought three back to back travel writing events. It was exciting,

First, I visited Chemeketa Community College of Salem. The drive was lovely, about an hour, and I got to see charming farm county and learn where St. Paul is. It was fun to arrive and see all the children ready for an exciting campus field trip. I loved their happy energy.

My first day at Chemeketa I was asked to simply share and talk about my books. It was a wonderful audience of writers, and future educators, and parents. That Saturday I returned to give a focused four hour writing workshop. We had great fun.The school provided our workshop group with a smorgasboard of pizza, salad, snacks and beverage.

Following this event, I dashed home to leave the next morning for Maryland. We took our daughter for a crash course in living history, and also attend the Maryland Library Associations Conference where I received the Blue Crab Young Readers Award for GOOD DOG, AGGIE. I found the group to be welcoming, warm, and just wonderful, as they treated my family to dinner and they were a great audience as I had the honor of sharing where Aggie came from.

After this, I went to Cottage Grove where the kind principal hosted me during a wonderful two day school visit. I was delighted to learn that an Aggie coloring contest was held and that for two days I would get to have lunch with the contest winners. The student body was filled with excited energy and I met one quite talented third grade writer. We enjoyed creating story ideas, and we actually made it rain fish! Cottage Grove really knows how to welcome a visiting author. Aggie coloring pages became entry and office wall paper! They were gracious, filled with hospitality, and I loved that whole experience. What great kids.

As we spring into summer, more fun lies ahead. Writing From the heart is just two weeks away, and I love that special week with writers. Then, I get to come home and welcome the sweet girl coming from France to learn what an American family and culture is like. We've already made contact with our exchange student and are excited to have this opportunity to host her.

In July I'm off to my birthplace, Chautauqua, where I was reborn a writer. Joy Cowley, who I love, will be honored, and I can't miss this. She was my mentor at Writing From the heart, before I was asked to follow her in leading the very retreat that grew me. With over 600 works to her name, it will be such a sweet joy to share in the honoring of this good friend and literary master. Two weeks, from today, I'll be on a plane headed for Writing from the Heart in beautiful Boyds Mills. I cannot wait. This place breathes serenity, friendship, and inspiration- climate perfect for story.

A Season of Learning

January 12, 2011

Good things are afoot for the start of 2011.

The Aggie Series is beginning to grow in visibility and it's exciting to watch. Aggie has a new book coming out this next spring, AGGIE GETS LOST. In May I'll have the pleasure of flying to Maryland to receive the Maryland Blue Crab Young Readers Award from the Maryland Library Association for GOOD DOG AGGIE, and I'll also be honored to speak at their wonderful MLA conference.

It's fun to learn, grow, and experience life in every facet. Learning is a never ending process and growth is an unrelenting desire. As a writer, I'm always seeking for keys to stronger writing, opportunities for greater giving, and moments for personal perspective. This journey is amazing. I love how we grow and learn through each other.

Recently, I've been receiving mail asking for writer advice so I'll also share here.

This is my favorite writing truth learned through experience so far: If you want to write, write. Don't let the fear of failure stop you. Self doubt and fear can cripple any desire. Just believe in yourself and act on that desire. There is no such thing as a magic wand. The magic is within you. I've learned in this journey, that the only way to truly fail, is to quit.

There are so many wonderful opportunities to learn about and improve in your craft. Highlights Foundation's workshops, SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) conferences, there are individual state local workshops, some in residence writers run workshops from home. There's the Institute of Children's Literature, Community College opportunities the list is endless for learning opportunities.

Life sometimes happens and gets in the way of strict scheduled daily writing time. If you're realizing you're not writing every day, or have trouble getting in that zone, don't beat yourself up. Just write. If you fall off for awhile, don't should on yourself listing all you should be doing, and quit. Write.

Write through the off seasons, as you can, keeping priorities where they call at the time and keep balance strong. Write for the love of writing, for the wondrous creation of it all, and embrace the joy of craft. In time the writing and writing period will return to it's original strength. Just write through till life settles in demand and pushes writing back into place.

Worrying about publishing just stunts and takes away the energy and flow. It can discourage. It's the writing that makes a writer, not the publication. Write for the sheer love of writing, and good will come.

Write, submit, then write on...

Moving On

July 22, 2010

Summer is here and so much has happened.

Our family moved, switched houses, cities, and landscape. Now we live in the country. It's quiet, beautiful, and critter happy. The views here breathe serenity. It's inspiring, my personal writer's paradise.

Another Highlights Writing From the Heart retreat is come and gone, (more…)

2010 A Brand New Year!

January 4, 2010

I love new beginnings, fresh starts, new goals, new challenges, new growth.

2010 has gotten off to a great start. The year ahead feels good! (more…)

Christmas in Deutchland

December 16, 2009

One of the most amazing opportunities I have ever had, is in being the mother of a missionary son. My eldest child, for the past two years has been with the good people of Germany. It's been a wonderful thing to share in his growth and experiences. Sunday nights, my writing time was spent writing to him, and it was sweet.

We recently returned with him back to Germany to share in the adventure! We met the people he came to love, and experienced their rich culture. Germany has an amazing history that stems far back beyond imaginings. The people are wonderful. The food is amazing. There is nothing like Germany at Christmastime. (more…)

Autumn Awe

October 19, 2009

As one chapter ends, a new one begins. This autumn starts with renewal of health, a return of a missionary son, and the marriage of a daughter. (more…)

Lori's Books

Junior Library Guild Selection 2010
Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book/ CCBC Choices 2011
Cybil Award Finalist /Bank Street Best Books of the year 2010 /Maryland Library Association Blue Crab Young Readers Award
New From Boyds Mills Press! Oregon Book Award Finalist/ Bank Street College Best Books of the Year 2009
Horn Book Fanfare List: Best books of 2006/2007 Oregon Book Award Finalist Nick Jr. Family Magazine's Best Children's Books of 2006/ The Bank Street College Best Books of the Year 2006/
Parenting Magazine Best Books November 2006 Parenting Picks
Bank Street College of Education's Best Books of the Year/ The Friends Medallion 2007 Special Award
Children's Choices 2005