Sunday, March 3, 2024

I love the contest created by picture book author, Vivian Kirkfield, called #50PreciousWords. You write a story for kids, 50 words or less, with a beginning, middle, and an end. It can be verse, prose, poetry, written for kids up to age 12. The first year I participated, I was one of the winners! I was honored and completely surprised. I didn't place last year, but I am excited to enter again this year. I love idioms and decided to try them in my story. 

                                                Here's my entry for 2024.

                                                        Battle of Wills 


                                                Mama’s stressed.

                                                Don’t make waves.


                                                Mama’s overwhelmed. 

                                                Learn the ropes. 


                                                Mama’s disappointed.

                                                Don’t bend the rules.


                                                Mama’s upset. 

                                                Change your tune.


                                                Mama’s worried. 

                                                Don’t jump ship.


                                                Mama’s softening.

                                                Pie in the sky.


                                                Mama’s smiling. 

                                                Turn a new leaf. 


                                                Mama’s dancing. 

                                                Give it a whirl. 


                                                Like mother.

                                                Like daughter. 


Saturday, October 1, 2022

#FallWritingFrenzy 2022

I am excited to be back! It's been a long time since I've posted, but when I saw this contest on Twitter, I had to enter. First, you choose a picture from an assortment of fall/Halloween photos, then you write a story/poem inspired by it in 200 words or less. I love these kind of prompt contests. They are challenging and fun! Thank you to Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez and Lydia Lukidis for hosting the #FallWritingFrenzy! My story and the photo I chose are below. Let me know what you think.                                                                     


                                                                 THE MAGICAL PATH

                                                                 By Laurie Smith Murphy   


Sophie peeked around the mossy trunk of the tall oak and gazed down the path. The trees loomed like huge scarecrows waiting to leap out. It looked like a page out of a fairy tale, enchanting with a mix of spooky. 

“Don’t go near that path, Sophie,” her sister, Rosie, had warned. “You never know what’s lurking.” 

When did Sophie listen to her sister? Once. Maybe twice. Okay, maybe usually. But not this time, she thought, as she tugged her sweatshirt zipper up and rolled her sleeves down. The chilly air was filled with the smell of damp leaves and sweet pine needles. 

But Sophie hesitated. Part of her longed to be here all by herself but part of her was afraid she was. She took a crispy step, then another. Soon, she swished through the red and gold leaves, twirling this way and that. Sophie set off



slipping down the magical path.

When suddenly, 




Sophie shuddered, skidding to a stop. “What are you doing here?”

“Waiting for you.” Rosie grabbed her hand. “Let’s go together.” 

Sophie’s heart smiled as they whooshed through the leaves all the way to the end. 


Monday, January 16, 2017

Dreaming of Venice

I recently traveled to Italy on a 10-day Rick Steves Tour with my college roommate. It was an amazing adventure! Since college, where I spent six weeks in England as an exchange student at Canterbury College, I've dreamed of exploring Europe. And after watching the film, Under the Tuscan Sun, I knew Italy was first on my list. It was truly magical and everything I thought it would be. We spent four nights in Venice, three in Florence, and three in Rome. We explored historic galleries, museums, markets, cafes, bars. Saw incredible architecture, ceilings, floors, one more beautiful than the next.  But my favorite city has to be Venice with its canals, gondolas and vaporettos. Enchanting! 

Moonlight in Venice

Bridges cross shadow
Alleys beckon to markets
Gondolas swish by

Florence and Rome were beautiful cities, as well, each with its own history, art, and magic. In Florence, we attended a cooking class at the famed In Tavola (, where we learned to make Tomato Bruschette (Bruschetta al Comodoro), Fresh Egg Pasta (Pasta Fresca all'Uovo) with Mushroom Sauce, Chicken Fricassee (Pollo in Fricassea), and Tiramisu. We sat at two large tables and sampled our delicious dishes paired with lush rosso wine (as we did most lunches and dinners). We visited The Uffizi Gallery home to Botticelli's, Birth of Venus, among other glorious paintings. Open air markets displayed leather purses, wallets, belts, colorful scarves, hats, masks, fruit. In Rome, we experienced the Vatican with its impressive Sistine Chapel, and the massive Colosseum.

Not only did we have a wonderful Rick Steves tour guide, we had local tour guides, as well, who gave a peek into the history and local flavor of each place we explored. They definitely added spice and fun, as did the 26 other people on the tour with us. This was a trip of a lifetime and one I highly recommend. Bellissimo Italy!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Taking Care

I haven't blogged in a long while and finally feel ready to get back to it. My life has seen lots of changes in the past year and a half. I sold my house (the house my three kids grew up in) and moved to a smaller house. It's on a pond in the next town over. I'm living with my husband again after a ten year, well let's just say, sabbatical. I retired from teaching and am now devoting more time to writing. I'm revising and fixing and adding density to my middle grade novel, Saving Gracie. I'm spending more time with my 89-year-old Mom, who lives on the Cape. I visit once a month and it always feels like home. After teaching for years (which I loved), it was time to take care of me and do some of the things I'd been longing to do.

Life is good and I'm looking forward to the next chapter.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Little Things...

I was recently in an auto accident. I am fine, but my car isn't. It was totaled. It was an old car, circa 2000, but I liked it. It was a Volvo and very dependable. It may not have been the best looking car in the parking lot, with its many scratches and dings, but it was good to me. I will be renting a car for a week, then it will be time to look for something new, or at least newer. I don't care if a car is new, as long as it runs well, and gets me where I'm going. I live in a rural area, so I'm in my car a lot.

This past week, being home from work (my hands were badly bruised and swollen, especially my right, but thankfully not broken), I've had lots of time to think about things. I know it's been said many times before, but it really is the little things in life that make a big difference. This week, it was the little things I couldn't do. I couldn't hold my coffee mug. I struggled with getting dressed. I couldn't do a downward facing dog, never mind try to pet my dog.

As I pondered these things, it made me aware of the little things in the world-building of fiction. What are the little things a character struggles with, or the little things they do to gain attention? What are the little things he/she likes, or hates about a friend? What are the little things that make the setting seem real? What are the little things that make the reader want to keep reading?

All of these little things work together to bring about the bigger picture in a story. So, don't rule out the little things as being important. Little things can make a big difference. Like clutching a favorite mug filled with warm, sweet coffee.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Writer's Paradise

I spent a week on Martha's Vineyard in quaint Edgartown, participating in a children's writing retreat at a lovely inn called Noepe Center for Literary Arts. I call it a writer's paradise. Anyone interested in writing, at any point in their writing path, should consider spending time here. The offerings include residencies, workshops, poetry readings and even book launches. The setting is idyllic, perfect for inspiration and muse finding.

"Noepe has a very simple mission: to provide established and emerging writers with time and space to create, and the resources and community to support, encourage and inspire writers at all stages of their writing career."

It was a small, intimate gathering of twelve women, all with works-in-progress in various genres and stages of development, and one wonderful mentor, Emma Dryden, of drydenbks. We spent each morning on a different topic, with hand-outs, writing exercises, and wisdom from Emma. Morning workshops focused on first pages, voice, world-building, and revision.

Nuggets gleaned from Emma's workshops:
  • What you leave off the page, can be as important as what's on the page.
  • The first line/page is the crystallization of the whole story.
  • Most books use the home/away/home theme.
  • Allow space for the reader's emotions. 
  • Create rules for the protagonist's world and a personal set for your protagonist.
  • In the first draft, write with abandon! Keep it messy and do not edit!
  • Paraphrase your story in ten pages, then five pages, then one page, one paragraph, one sentence. 
  • Cut the first paragraph and the last paragraph from each scene.
  • List all the decisions your protagonist and antagonist makes. Do the same with supporting characters. The characters' decisions/actions should interfere with the protagonist's.
  • List the first ten things each character does. 
  • Ask yourself why you have to write this story.
My thoughts:
  • I know what my protagonist really wants.
  • I know why I have to write this story.
  • Revision takes a long time and there are many processes to choose from.
  • The scariest revision process is probably the one I should use.
  • My beginning needed work, but I'm on the right track. 
  • Children's writers are bright, generous, and fun to be with. (Okay, I already knew that.)
  • When you find a great mentor like Emma, feel fortunate. (I do!)
I feel blessed to have been a part of this inspiring, emotional, week-long journey. For more info about this amazing place, check out the website at For more info on drydebks, go to