Attempted Murder

Is it just my sleep-deprived-self, or is this hilarious to you guys too?


Why I Won’t Illustrate My Picture Books

In my last post I shared a new project that I will be working on. I decided to take a break from novel-writing and write a few picture books that have been churning in the back of my brain.

I’ve since written two picture book manuscripts. A few people have asked if I will be illustrating the books myself.

That’s a solid nope!

Here’s why:


Yep, that was illustrated by yours truly. If I didn’t write “Meow!” you would probably be confused as to whether this is a mouse, bear, rabbit, possibly a bat, or a cat.

Have a lovely day folks, and rest easy knowing that the future generation will not be subjected to my crazy illustrations.

-Rachel McKee

A New Project

I’m at a point in my novel where I am stuck. That means my writing is stuck. I hate that.

So I decided to dig up a children’s book that I wrote last May. The story is (loosely) based off of my experience working at a flower nursery. I posted the story last week to get some feedback. It’s been removed and revised many times since I posted it.

The writing for this story came easily. I was able to draw on my own experience and reflect. Now I want to write an entire series based off of Elsie’s (my MC) adventures. These stories will be written from my childhood memories. I’m very excited about this project. I’m also learning that it’s good to keep writing, even if you have to put one project aside.

Drawing from my own experience while writing these picture books has been easier than writing my novel (Not that any writing is easy.) Creating fictional characters and a fictional story is hard, sometimes I feel like I’m reaching into a black hole to find what works.

I must stop and quote two authors:

“Write what you know.” -Mark Twain

“You speak of Lord Byron and me – There is this great difference between us.
He describes what he sees – I describe what I imagine – Mine is the hardest task.”
-John Keats in a letter to his brother George, September 1819

In my case, both of these quotes are true. There are certain plot points, emotions, and scenes that I have been struggling with because I have no reference. I’m not giving up on my novel, but I need to follow this new motivation.

I’m pitching the first book in the series, Elsie Goes To Work next Thursday at a Twitter pitch event. If you have a picture book you would like to pitch, the hashtag is #PBBooks and it’s happening on the 2/23/2017.

Wish me luck, hopefully an agent or editor will “like” my pitch.

-Rachel McKee


Guest Post Questionnaire – M. Miles

A few weeks ago, three of my favorite bloggers agreed to form a writing panel for today’s post. I asked them to respond to five quotes about a writer’s identity, and in their responses, they produced some smashing quotes of their own.

via Writers Respond to Famous Quotes — M. Miles

I had so much fun participating in M. Miles’ questionnaire. I’m honored that I was asked to join the discussion.

Perhaps you are familiar with the other guest bloggers: Paul from WindBlownWords and Kristin Twardowski. If not, check them out today.

Have a great weekend!

-Rachel McKee




I am so incredibly thankful for you, dear readers. For encouraging me, challenging me, and helping me grow. As you all know, blogging can be a scary thing. Blogging is like attending an international dinner party filled with millions of people. It can be intimidating. You never know how you will be received.

But here, on this blog, I’ve met some of the most incredible people. You passion, talent, and kindness inspires me. I feel so fortunate that you share this piece of your life with me.

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, just know that I am very grateful for you.

Have a wonderful day.

-Rachel McKee

Cover image found at The Shabby Chic Art Boutique.



How To Help Syria

I’m sobbing while staring at my computer screen as I read another article about the children’s hospital that was bombed in Aleppo, Syria on 11/17/2016. Babies had to be removed from incubators and moved to shelters not equipped for their care.

Children were killed. Is there a more devastating sentence?

According to Time, “There are no functioning hospitals in Aleppo.”

Can you imagine having a sick child and being robbed of the one place that could treat them? I can’t think of a more harsh or cruel reality.

I understand how it feels to have a baby that isn’t medically perfect. My son has a congenital heart defect. When I received the news that he had aortic stenosis due to his heart condition, my world stopped. It was the worst day of my life and I was terrified. My son had three echocardiograms his first year, and was seen by one of the top pediatric cardiology teams in the nation. His specialists were less-than an hour away. I was still terrified. We were blessed that he didn’t need any surgical intervention, but I was truly grateful that he had a team of top specialists that were watching him. His condition will be monitored for the rest of his life. I don’t take for granted the privilege of having Seattle Children’s Hospital close by.

I can’t even fathom what these parents must be going through. Not only do they have children with medical needs, but they can’t obtain the help they require.

All the while I keep asking, “What can I do?

Today I made a small step in answering that question. I researched how to help and donate to Aleppo, Syria. I read a great article by The World Post that gave a few examples of organizations where people can donate to help Syria. I chose International Rescue Committee. More than .90 cents of every dollar go toward helping refugees and others in need. You can read how the IRC is helping Aleppo here.

Please consider donating today.

-Rachel McKee

Cover Image found here.


Autumnal Quote


I found this interpretation by Harold Stewart of Buson’s “Two Autumns” and couldn’t get it out of my head. Stewart attributes the version above to Buson’s much earlier Haiku.

Two Autumns

for me going
for you staying—
two autumns


I took this photo when I was staging some Instagram shots and it drew me in. Maybe it was the green path, or the two trees growing away from each other, or the fallen leaves collecting like tear drops in a puddle below. The photo spoke gently of loss. Stewart/Buson’s poem fit perfectly.

-Rachel McKee


A Trip To The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site: Buffalo, New York

Hi everyone.

I greet you sleep-deprived and five pounds fluffier, but I’m so happy to be back! Me, Miles, and our son returned from Buffalo, New York yesterday.

Miles is packing the good photos on his camera, but I wanted to share some photos from my tour of the TR Inaugural Site. (Please excuse the crummy photos taken from my old phone.)

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.


This is the private residence where Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated into presidency in Buffalo, New York 1901.

Theodore Roosevelt Inagural Site Buffalo New York

President William McKinley was shot at Buffalo’s Pan-American Exposition on September 6th, 1901. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took the “oath of office” in this exact spot September 14th, 1901the same day McKinley died from his wounds. The private residence belonged to Roosevelt’s good friend Ansley Wilcox.

Theodore Roosevelt Inagural Site Buffalo New York

Another photo of the same library from the Roosevelt inaugural site.

Theodore Roosevelt Inagural Site Buffalo New York

Books from the Wilcox library.

Theodore Roosevelt Inagural Site Buffalo New York

Mr. Roosevelt kindly took a selfie with myself and my sister-in-law Jen (on the left).

Theodore Roosevelt Inagural Site Buffalo New York

It’s hard being President…


Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

Note: The cover image and the picture of the outside of the Wilcox home were found on the TR Inaugural Site.






Illuminated Literation Is On Instagram

After seven years of being with a photographer, I’m finally learning photography. I’ve been hesitant because my husbands camera is so much more complex than a point and shoot, not to mention the post production process and using Lightroom (an editing program). I don’t think I give enough kudos to Miles and the other photographers that I follow. (You guys rock!)

My Illuminated Literation Instagram account is  what the hip kids call a #bookstagram account. All of my pictures so far are focused on books. If you would like to learn more about #bookstagram visit the blog Paper Fury and read How To Fabulously Get Started on #Bookstagram.

If you would like to follow me, and watch me hone my photography skills, my Instagram account is called Illuminted_Literation. (If you click the hyperlink it will take you to the account.)

If you do follow, and you also have a public account for your blog or any other interest, please comment on one of my pictures and let me know so I can follow you back.

I (hesitantly) would like share a few of my photos that I have posted thus far. No laughing. I realize you are used to seeing Miles’ pictures on Illuminated Literation and in full disclosure he took the cover image for this post. (I’m not that good with a selfie stick. Although, I guess a real photographer would use a tripod.)

Aesop's Fables

Grimm Maurice Sendak

Grimm Maurice Sendak

When I began my #bookstagram account I thought it would be filled with pictures from my YA collection, but so far most of my photographs are illustrated children’s books. I use the term “children’s” books very generically here because Mama doesn’t share these books with Little Destructo.

Again, if you would like to follow Illuminated Literation the #bookstagram account is Illuminated_Literation.

Cheers to new hobbies.

Rachel McKee


Dreaming Of Whales

All of my good dreams involve whales. If whales are not in my dream then I’m chased by a murderer, my husband cheats on me, or I’ve misplaced my kid. I have a lot of bad anxiety dreams, but some nights my subconscious throws me a bone, and I dream peacefully of whales.

I’m normally in a house, or standing on a pier and I can see whales in the distance. Sometimes I’m on a boat and I see them close by. When I finally see the whales, my heart fills with joy and child-like wonder. After a few moments of whale watching, peace settles over me.


I spoke of the recurring image of whales to a friend of mine when we were in college. He coincidentally was studying psychology. He was interested in my nocturnal whale watching and asked a few basic questions:

Q: Have you ever seen whales?

A: Yes I have seen whales.

Q: Where did you see whales?


  • On my dad’s boat.
  • From the shore of a cabin we visited regularly when I was a child.
  • In captivity, we saw Shamu at Sea World.
  • Once again, in captivity, we visited Keiko when he was in a tank in Oregon.

Q: Who was with you when you saw the whales?

A: Always family.

Q: When was the last time you saw whales?

A: Keiko in Oregon.

Q: What were you doing there?

A: Vacationing with my family. It was the last vacation we ever took as a family before my parent’s divorce. (Oh!)

I went through a lot of change in a short period of time. My parents divorced, and then remarried new spouses, I acquired step-siblings, and then my brother left and joined the Coast Guard which really split my world in half. For years I felt like I was fighting a losing battle of trying to hold my family together. I wept and I mourned for my former family life. I love my step-relatives now, but it took awhile for all of us to adjust. I think the whales represent the very first family dynamic I had until I was thirteen years old. Just my father, mother, brother, and me.

Do you have recurring themes/images/people in your dreams? Do you believe they appear for a reason?

Sweet dreams, tonight and always,

Rachel McKee

ADDITIONAL NOTE: I must add that I don’t believe in the captivity of whales. There is too much evidence that shows these beautiful, majestic souls suffer when they are confined.