I’m A 2023 PB Rising Stars Mentee!

The moment I saw my name listed under mentor Stephen Briseño I was flooded with dreams-coming-true type emotion. If Grandpa Manuel were here he would say something like, “Way to go, Jamis Ray! Oh, Katella!” and ask if a news reporter would be showing up to take his picture. He sure would be proud to know the story inspired by his life “sung” to Stephen. One of the nicest, most generous kidlit authors, Stephen is a middle school English teacher who brings emotion-packed kidlit stories and needed representation to bookshelves. I’ll be over here soaking up all of this amazingness if you need me.



Another fun #SpringFlingKidlit contest is here! Hosted by literary agent Kaitlyn Sanchez and author Ciara O’Neal. This adorable .gif by Eva Pils inspired my story about a hard-working, garden-loving cat who delivers the loveliest bounty to fellow felines each spring. Similar to a human I know: my Dad has a community garden plot and spends many hours cultivating to share with others.

Best of luck to each writer who entered and thank you for your time and effort, hosts and prize donors!

With less than 150 words and a .gif of choice, here’s my entry:


By: Jamie Rodarte

I’m not like any other cat.

Simply put, I’ve no time for that.

They loudly purr, purr, purr when pet.

I grunt and purr, purr, purr with sweat.

They stalk and pounce on moving strings.

I much prefer my garden things.

They snooze their days in warm sunrays.

I only nap with rain delays.

So, when it comes to spring’s big boom,

I take my time with all in bloom.

Waiting till they’re hug-sized round,

And pluck before they touch the ground.


Baskets, buckets, bushels of heart.

Carefully wheeled by garden cart.

Piled high, high, high in my truck’s flat.

More than enough for every cat.

“Some love for mew and mew and mew.”

Spring’s kindest gifts are shared…it’s true.

Book Reviews, Picture Books

All the Feels…

Tiara’s Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons

TIARA’S HAT PARADE had me reaching for the tissue. Kelly Starling Lyons wrote the kind of emotion and textual imagery I dream of writing. The relatable nature of disappointment and finding sunshine in unexpected ways through the giving heart of a child. This isn’t the only message; it also has the undertone of art appreciation. Thank you, Valerine Bolling, for introducing this story in your recent 12×12 webinar, it’s going down as one of my favorites.

Book Reviews, Picture Books

The Only Thing Not Lost…

Lost Things by Carey Sookocheff

…is the creativity in LOST THINGS. With less than 60 words (!) Carey Sookocheff engages the reader with her endearing imagery and simple message: many things get lost; some don’t matter and some you can’t live without. The ending brings it all home with a feel-good sigh of relief. My picky, strict-grader of a nine-year-old gave this a 7.5/10…Carey you get a 10/10 from me.

Book Reviews, Picture Books

From One Picky Eater to Another…

Only Ants for Andy by Jashar Awan

Much like my daughter, my tastebuds are fairly specific and do not venture far from what I know and love. Thanks to Jashar Awan, Andy realizes how much more fun life is when you step outside of your comfort zone. The illustrations are adorably simplistic in nature with just enough detail to ensure the reader is present for grub. My picky, strict-grader of a nine-year-old gave this a 7/10…Jashar you get a 10/10 from me.