I’ve said before that every time I read something new about today’s Tuesday 12 x 12 in 2012 author, Renee LaTulippe, I end up liking her even more. This post is no exception. Not only is she hilarious (which I knew), but she also knows about the Cherry Ames books!! This woman is a soul sister for sure. If you haven’t visited her blog, you MUST after you read this post – it’s a gem. Please welcome Renee!

Slippery When Wet

I’m pretty sure that when my older sister Debby was born, she slapped herself on the butt, checked my mother’s pulse, put her hands on her hips, and said, “Now, let’s clean up this mess, shall we? I’ve got students coming in for clinical.”

Yes, she is one of those people who always knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. I once caught a glimpse of her dissecting a cat in biology lab, only to find her at home later, nonchalantly reading Cherry Ames: Army Nurse as if nothing untoward had occurred. She never veered from that path, and today is an associate professor of nursing, passing along her immense knowledge to other Florence (and Frank) Nightingales.

I just don’t get it. All my life, I’ve been awed by and envious of people like my sister with such a specific sense of purpose, a deep knowing of themselves and the direction their lives should take. I can only shake my head in wonder and think, How? How do they know?

The script of my life, in comparison, is scribbled over with cries of Oops!

Scene 1: Undergrad English major, concentration in writing poetry. Despite years of writing silly verses for family members and for fun, I didn’t realize I was probably a humorist best suited to light verse. Instead, I dressed in black, carried tomes of Sylvia Plath around, and wrote bleak free verse. Did I know that humorists and/or children’s writing existed? Nope. Oops!

Scene 2: I embraced my other love, the theater, and ran off to NYC to be an actress. I didn’t write another thing for twenty years, and I didn’t miss it at all. But did I know that my real strength and love was in directing? Not right away, though I did discover that before I graduated. Did I take full advantage of that new knowledge? Nope. Oops!

Scene 3: Grad school for English Education 7-12. Ah, I was good at this, and I loved it! But…given my love of grammar, travel, and foreign languages, and my intense desire to live overseas, should I have perhaps studied TOEFL instead? Yup. Did I do that? Nope. Oops!

Seriously, I spent years feeling like my luggage was on the boat, but I was still on the dock watching it chug away. Come back, boat!

Scene 4: 2007-2012 (it’s a Shakespearean play): Once I got back into writing, mostly thanks to my editing gig with All About Learning Press (but ironically kick-started by my overachieving sister who needed some chapters in a nursing text edited), I started thinking maybe words has always been where it’s at for me. And now I was in a niche – children’s writing – that seemed to make sense with my particular skills and interests. Has the boat docked?

To test these new waters, I did the 2011 PiBoIdMo, signed up for 12×12 in 2012, and started my blog No Water River, ostensibly a place to explore children’s poetry and picture books, and my place among them. If any of you have been by, however, you might notice it’s kind of heavy on the poetry. It seems I’ve come full circle, except now I tote Seuss instead of Plath.

And what I’ve learned is this: I still don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know if picture books are in my future, because I don’t know if they’re in me. And I don’t know if I even want them to be in me. I have an entrepreneurial spirit, and getting published traditionally feels too passive. So I don’t know.

But the difference now with my not knowing is that I don’t know confidently! Why? Because when the boat passed by this last time, I grabbed my luggage off it. I don’t know which way is up, but at least I have my favorite sweater and a change of undies to get me through to…wherever.

I think my 12×12 challenge will be more like a 3×12 challenge, but that’s okay with me because the challenge has made me look and examine and wonder and experiment. And because along with my luggage, I’ve picked up a fabulous group of fellow journeywomen/men, a cargo load of ideas, and an inkling that I might be in the right place this time.

Renee LaTulippe is a former English/theater/public speaking teacher with a background in theater acting and directing, Renée is now the editor at All About Learning Press, for whom she also co-authors pre-reading books and early readers, including Lizard Lou: a collection of rhymes old and new. She blogs on language and grammar at AALP (often under the guise of her alter ego, the Chipmunk of Doom), and creates poetry videos for her own blog, No Water River. Renée holds a BFA in acting/directing from Marymount Manhattan College and an MA in English Education from New York University. Despite her degrees, she can only whistle on the inhale. She lives in Piombino, Italy with her husband and twin toddler boys.

Categories: 12 x 12 in 2012, Authors, Children's Books, Goals, Guest Blogging, PiBoIdMo, Picture Books, Poetry, Publishing, Rhyming, Writing · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. This is full of: heart, humour, depth, truth, life, family, vision, craft…. I could go on. Renée’s treasure chest always delights, and getting to know her has been one of the many 12×12 thrills this year. Repetition is part of good kidlit, so I will say it again, I’m gonna see you in print m’dear and there’s gonna be nothing traditional about the route there or the process, I am sure!

    • Joanna, you are too kind! Your support and encouragement and cheerleading has been a constant source of inspiration, not to mention a kick in the pants to keep going. Thank you! 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for having me, Julie! And for having all of us, for that matter. 🙂 We must make it a point to get together for a cappuccino next year in Florence, va bene?

  3. Love the oops! I’m glad you grabbed your luggage and happy to have found you along your travels. I enjoy your videos, but don’t stop as much as I’d like.

  4. Julie, thanks so much for having me! And for having all of us, for that matter. 🙂 I will definitely hunt you down in Florence next year at your retreat to share a cappuccino, va bene?

  5. Heartfelt oopsies that I truly understand. (I have that same kinda sis) *sigh* She only had TWO spankings her whole life. Me? Two million and two. And every time I was getting one of those spanks, Mom would never fail to mention gool ol’ sis and her record. 🙂

    Great getting to know you more Renee. At least you finally found where you’re supposed to be. *waves*

  6. A very fun interview. You’re right, Julie…we continue to learn more about Renee. Love your boat analogy and sharing your oops in life, Renee! I enjoy your No Water River blog. Glad you’re in the 12×12 with us!

  7. I am again working late into the night and to read your interview and giggle out loud is nice and refreshing! thank you for sharing your ‘oops’. It is lovely to hear that you (and your luggage) are ALWAYS on an adventure….and such sharing it all with us. how lucky are we?

  8. Hahahahaha! I can totally see Debby, especially the hands on the hips part! Best of everything on your journey.

  9. What a fantastically frank, funny, and far-reaching post. Thank you, Renee, for sharing your insights into your journey.

    (Gee, if I’d know that there were extra points awarded for knowledge of Cherry Ames, I would have somehow worked into my 12×12 Tuesday post that I loved the Cherry Ames books!) 😉

  10. Yay, Renee! And I’m glad I’m not the only who is confidently unconfident, especially about what to do when I grow up. I also have to say that I initially misread it and thought you lived in Piboidmo, Italy, which I was thinking was some kind of amazing kismet-y coincidence, and also where we all needed to come for some kind of conference.

  11. This shall be our new goal, then, Beth….working Cherry Ames into all of our posts. I mean, the girl did lots of stuff – student nurse, army nurse, chief nurse, camp nurse, traveling nurse, space nurse. Surely there’s a place for her no matter what we do!

  12. Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

    I love Renee! You had me at, “she slapped herself on the butt”! I am so glad you grabbed your luggage this time. You have been such an uplifting spirit here for all of us. Your blog is ingenious. It seems as though you are a multi-talented human being, sent here To enlighten us all. I bet your sister is envious of your artistic abilities and talents. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Anxiously awaiting Scene 5 Renee…

  14. LOL, Renee. I agree with Julie: every time I read something new by you, I like you even more. Love your site. And for the record, I always new exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until I changed my mind… Oops!

  15. Loved watching The Scenes of Your Life! (Well, it COULD be a soap opera!) You are delightful & always hilarious! I love the way you put your words together….I feel so awkward and vocabulary-inept around you….and that’s the truth! But I’d still love to conference & slurp cappuccino at your place someday!
    Thanks for the post!
    And, Julie…I love Tuesday 12 x 12!!!!!

  16. Terrific post, ladies. So helpful to learn about others’ paths (or scenes, in Renee’s case) & realise that I’m not the only one who is still in discovery/exploration phase!

  17. I’ve had a couple of oops along the way. Renee, No Water River is great. You are funny as always.

  18. Schnikeys, Renne! I posted earlier but I guess my little finger didn’t pack a big enough punch! Loved your post…You had me at, “she slapped herself on the butt, checked my mother’s pulse, put her hands on her hips, and said, “Now, let’s clean up this mess, shall we? I’ve got students coming in for clinical.” You are hilarious.

    So glad you have brought your luggage with you this time. =) I bet your sister is envious of her artisitc, free spirit sister.

    You are amazing! Thanks for sharing. =)

  19. This is a FANTASTIC glimpse into your heart and your story. Loved every word!

  20. Well, there’s nothing like a clean pair of panties to perk up your outlook on life! Your blog is an amazing resource and all of your oops experiences have culminated in those wonderful poetry videos. I am very grateful you joined the 12X12 challenge!

  21. Debby Naccarini

    So, little sister, this was hilarious! As always, I thoroughly enjoy reading everything you write. However, you must know that as you might be envious of others who know while in the womb what they want to do with their lives, there are those of us equally envious of the wonderful journeys on which others embark on the way to their grown-up-selves. I think you have definitely found your niche at No Water River – and what a fantastical place it is! Love you lots! ~Debby

  22. I am so glad you decided to “look and examine and wonder and experiment”! I have learned so much from you this year including that poetry doesn’t haven’t to be scary — it can be FUN! Thanks and great post!

  23. Elizabeth Stevens Omlor

    Renee! This is my third attempt to post today! Argh! I think you will get all of my messages at once. Loved this post. You are awesome. I bet your sister is envious of your artistic abilities and free spirit. So glad you grabbed your luggage this time around. You are an essential piece to this writer community! (I mean, you are our comic relief for sure!) Thanks so much for sharing more about your life. 🙂

  24. Renee, I enjoyed your candor. Have a sense of what you mean. I think we follow that path we are supposed to at the moment. It’s not supposed to be carved out — there would be little room for spontaneity. And, you are one of the most talented poets I’ve met. Your blog title says it all. If you boxed yourself in, you would lose your beautiful, creative nature. Just be with what you’re doing, because it already is wonderful!

    • Pat, I love your advice, and agree with you. It’s not always easy, though, especially when you already want to be THERE, instead of still on the road! Thank you so much for your kind words – they mean a lot. 🙂

  25. Renee, I am on that circuitous path with you too, my friend. I am always amazed at how many children’s writers come to writing so late in life after so many different life experiences. I think it ultimately makes our writing richer. Good luck with your continued journey!

    • Phew! At this age, it’s really good to know it’s not just me, Kirsten. And here I thought you had it all together since you have such a specific niche and love for what you do. Thanks for the encouragement!

  26. Renee, love your way with words. To Cathy’s point, looking forward to Scene 5!

  27. I want to subscribe to the AALP blog! I love the guest post! Ms. LaTulippe, I think you are one of the best actors/actresses I know! 🙂 Keep on writing!

    • Erik, you are too sweet! There will be another Chipmunk of Doom grammar post on AALP on Tuesday, so head over and sign up. 🙂 And you keep writing too…you were made for it!

  28. Julie and Renee together here on my screen? It’s just too joyous. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you both a wee bit this year – each of you has that little Energizer Bunny battery inside you, no? Thanks for all you do for our community, both of you. Bravo!

  29. FABULOUS! But then, I would expect nothing less from the wonderful Renee! 🙂 Now, if only I could find my luggage… 🙂

  30. Renee’,
    thanks for sharing your journey and your ‘ooops’ moments. Our lives are full of ooops that shape us, as you said–” because the challenge has made me look and examine and wonder and experiment.” I write based on similar mantra, posted on my blog. Got to check out No Water River and wonder at your words. Thanks Renee’, thanks Julie for hosting marvelous people.

  31. Thanks for this fun post. I have had many oops decisions in my life, and I’m not sure if I’m in the act of committing another or not. Time will reveal that.

  32. I can’t believe I missed this! What a wonderfully funny and forthright description of your life! I love your heart and humor! You are so talented in many ways, but words are definitely your strong point.

  33. Gosh I am so sorry I haven’t read this earlier. What was i thinking?
    Renee I agree so whole heartedly what Patricia said, don’t ever stop what you are doing, I love it! Your blog is unique and YOU! The most funny, sweet, creative person I know! Thankyou!

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