NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Monterey Sea Lemon

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to June’s supermodel:

The Monterey Sea Lemon

This little cutie may look like a sweet meyer, but you wouldn’t want to squeeze one over your shrimp cocktail. Nudibranchs have the ability to store toxins in their flesh from the food they eat (mostly sea sponges). The Sea Lemon’s bright yellow color is a warning to predators that they’d better think twice before messing with them.

Though they start out very small, this species can grow to be a whopping 15 cm long! Maybe they should be called Sea Bananas.

You can find these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools and up to depths of 50 meters all along the Pacific Coastline from San Diego, California to Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Monterey Sea Lemon. Stay tuned for July’s Nudi Gill Pin-Up!

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Publishers, Contracts, and Sea Slugs, OH MY!

A lot has been happening over here behind the scenes. I’m preparing one of my babies to be launched into the world. Not a human one, thank goodness, because I’m so not ready for that milestone. I’m referring to a personal career milestone: One of my picture book’s has been acquired by Gnome Road Publishing, an Independent Publisher that is destined to make a big splash in the children’s book industry.

I couldn’t be more pleased to make this announcement. Sandra Sutter, the award winning author of Stan’s Frightful Halloween and The Real Farmer In The Dell, has dived into her passion for children’s literature by publishing a diverse list of picture books that beg to be read over and over again.

If you know me at all, you will remember that I am a lover of all things ocean, but especially the ittty-bitty nuidbranch, otherwise know as the sea slug. My debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be coming out in the Fall of 2022. I’m so excited to share information about these fascinating creatures through the voice of a funny and fierce character like Gill.

Gill’s a little slug with big personality, but even he can be shy sometimes. Say “hi” to your future fans, Gill.

It’s been so much fun pouring over the photographs, websites, and books as I prepared my story and images. Special thanks to David W. Behrens, who wrote NUDIBRANCH BEHAVIOR, my favorite reference book of all time.

Of course, I also live in a house filled with my own paintings of nudibranchs. Yes, it’s been a long-time obsession, really, so it’s no surprise to me that NUDI GILL would be my breakthrough story.

It’s okay, Gill, you can come out now…

Wishing you all the best,

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

April and May

It’s Spring, and the kids and I have been rejuvenating our garden by planting vegetables and dusting off the fairy garden. I was also inspired to write an entry for the Spring Fling Kidlit Writing Contest hosted by Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Ciara O’Neal. It had to be 150 words or less inspired by a spring themed Gif. I hope you enjoy it!

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay.

(150 words)

April and May

by Bonnie Kelso

Being older, April knew things…

Things May wanted to know.

“April, how can I be smart like you?”

April twisted her hair around her finger.

“Drink rainwater from Tulip, May.”

Tulip was empty.

“April, what’s Spring?”

April rubbed her chin.

“Spring is what makes a bed good for jumping on.”

“April, why do early birds get the worms?”

April chewed a twig.

“Because worms don’t have eyes to see early birds hunting them.”

Thunder rumbled.

“April, what’s that?”

They gazed into the clouds.

“A giant is hungry! Hurry, let’s hide!”

Raindrops splink-splunked.

“April, what would happen if our wings got wet?”

“They’d melt like sugar drops, May.”

May stretched out her hand

and scooped up a drop of rainwater from Tulip.

“April, I’m ready to know things, too.”

Slurp!

“April, ask me a question, anything.”

“Who’s your favorite sister, May?”

“You!”

“See, May, I told you it would work!”

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Puff and Groop

This year I’m trying to enter all the picture book writing contests I can. I’m determined to stretch myself creatively and besides, who can resist a chance at winning a prize? Here is my entry for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest, and as you might guess, my story had to be 50 words or less. Not as easy as it sounds when you also have to include a compelling story arc. So, without further ado, here is my uber-short fish tale.

Puff & Groop

by Bonnie Kelso

Puff is a small fish.

Groop is a BIG fish,
gobbling everything in his path,
never asking questions.

When Groop gulps down Puff,
Puff goes…

POOF!!!

“Oooooooh,” moans Groop.

Puff closes his mouth,
holding his water as long as he can.

Groop opens his mouth wide.

BELCH!

Out pops Puff!

###

There were a whopping 759 entries for this contest! To read them all go to Vivian Kirkfield’s website.

Bonnie

Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

Seeking Courage

By Bonnie Kelso

Finding lost things was Riley’s specialty.

She found Mama’s keys!

A shiny penny.

Her sister’s doll.

“Here it is, Kara.”

Riley and Kara were playing hide-and-seek 

when Riley found Mama wrapped in a blanket.

“I’ve lost my job.” 

“I’ll help you find it!” said Riley. 

Mama hugged her tight.

Later Riley found

a stack of boxes

with Kara’s doll stuffed inside one. 

“We’re moving?” asked Riley.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t find your job.”

“I know moving is scary, Riley,

but we have to find courage,” said Mama. 

Riley looked everywhere,

but she couldn’t find courage.

She wished courage would find her.

At the shelter Riley counted to ten 

and opened her eyes.

She searched for Kara…

in every room,

in every closet,

and on the patio.

Cars zoomed in the street. 

Kara was lost!

Her heart beat faster.

“Kara!”

“We’re in here, Riley,” said Mama.

Kara was safe.

Riley collapsed.

“I can’t find my courage!”

Mama smiled.

“Riley, I found a job!” 

They squeezed each other tight.

In their new apartment they found wonderful things.

Soft blankets.

Friendly neighbors.

Kara discovered a new word, Riley.

Riley decided courage isn’t something you find.

It grows inside, little by little,

like making a friend,

learning new words,

or the feeling of home in a new place.

This story was submitted to Susanna Hill’s Valentiny Contest. The theme was BRAVE and the word count is 214 words (for February 14th).

Holiday Helpers: Susanna Hill’s 10th Annual Holiday Contest

I’m entering another contest! Why? Because I learn a lot when I step outside my writing comfort zone. For Susanna Hill’s Holiday Contest we were given the theme of “Holiday Helpers” to work with in 250 words or less. I hope you enjoy my entry, inspired by the endless amounts of tinsel around my house this year. Ho-ho-ho, everyone! 🙂

Sparkle 3000

The holidays are here and there’s so much to do!

Just me and my mom, we’re too small a crew.

How will we manage to cook, clean, and shop,

when I still have school and her work doesn’t stop?

Then Sparkle 3000 arrives at our door.

Arms like an octopus, he rolls on the floor.

He gets straight to work and says, “Please, excuse me.”

His lights blink and flash like our new Christmas tree.

He shakes out the carpets and dusts every shelf,

flashing and humming like a big metal elf.

He straightens and sweeps, tosses trash in the bin.

This robot works hard! It makes my head spin!

“He did it! It’s done!” All is shiny and new.

But Sparkle keeps going, even when we’re through.

So tired from watching, we collapse in our beds,

as gingerbread dreams dance in our heads. 

When morning arrives, I creep out to see

that Christmas is gone! “How can this be?

You took down our tree because it’s not neat?”

The presents and turkey are piled on the street!

“I want to be helpful.” Sparkle turns blue.

“I’ll learn to do better, I can watch you.”

I say, “We must fix this!” Sparkle’s lights flash.

“I’ll teach you the difference. Treasure or trash?”

A few hours later, Mom wakes and comes out.

“A perfect holiday,” she says without doubt.

I wink at Sparkle. “No working today.”

He slumps in a chair with one word, “Okay.” 

The 10th Annual Halloweensie Contest

Today I’m celebrating a social-distanced Halloween by posting my uber-short (100 words) kidlit story for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie contest. For some reason this year, I’m kind of obsessed with Frankenstein. What if Frankenstein was a kid? What would it be like to be so green? Could Frankenstein be solar-powered? Anyway, hope you enjoy the story!

Furley Frankenstein

Furley Frankenstein was tired of social distancing.

He’d been cooped up in the lab ever since he became undead.

“Pleeeeeease, Dad? Can’t I go out? It’s Halloween.

No one will care that my skin is green.”

“It’s just not safe,” said Dr. Frankenstein.

“Don’t you know, there’s a pandemic going on!”

The door locked when it slammed behind him.

Furley groaned!

Furley stomped!

Furley moaned.

Furley noticed something shiny on the counter.

His dad forgot the skeleton key!

He listened for his dad’s footsteps to fade.

Furley snatched a medical mask,

unlocked the door,

and crept out into the night.

Sea Slug

An exploration in drawing cute monsters brought me to this sea slug.

Hoping we all find a little buoyancy this week.

With love,

Bonnie

A new 2020 cover for the Playbook!

My Playbook: A Daily Practice Of Recording My Divinely Guided Magical Life” is one of my favorite secret weapons for living a creative life.

As an empathic creative, I am constantly bombarded with ideas, inspirations and messages from spirit. I used to have a day planner, several spiral journals, a sketchbook, and about a million post it notes floating around my house and work space. It was maddening trying to keep everything straight. I had no single resource to turn to to really measure my progress and reflect on where I had come from and where I was going with an idea or project. One day, I decided to try… (read more…)