SELF – not selfie- LOVE

This past Valentines Day I was encouraged to write about LOVE. I’ve always battled with self-love, as I think many of us do. I am so unbelievably hard on myself and always feel I should be doing more- giving more, learning more, experiencing more, more more more. After being diagnosed with breast cancer less than a year ago and experiencing a lot of stress while undergoing a lot of difficult things, I wasn’t sure how much “more” I could handle.

Turns out…a whole lot. I am strong, I am brave, and I am here.

Thank you for being here with me. And I hope this little thing I wrote- which I am now taking applications for (my musician friends I am talking to you bc I think it could be killer lyrics in today’s youth market) – helps you love your self a little bit more this evening.

Love ME

by Melissa Rutigliano

Drowning in doubt

Mourning in misery

I am learning how to love someone…


The scars are visible

The cuts still bleed

Yet only one person sees the ugly…


Guilty for what I eat

Treading water, sleep retreats

I need someone to feed….


Spending too much time

comparing others to me –




In sickness and in health

The past? Has been. The future? To be.

Someone will always be present…


I should do more

Push harder

Slow down.

Sinking deeper.

I can throw a life vest to someone…


Overcoming and changing

Holding on and letting go

I am trying better to know…


I tell myself I’m enough

I remind myself –


I am OK

Not being OK

I am learning to love…


Finding a friend within

Discovering a person I can believe

Someone here is different…


A thinker

A survivor

A swimmer

A shark

Leaving messy marks

Making beautiful mistakes

Give and take

I am becoming proud to be…


Posted by mrutigliano, 0 comments

Spring is Back and So Am I

I haven’t posted in a while, and just realized the last time I did was this time last year, when I shared my #Springfling Kidlit writing contest entry. Funny enough, I am back here now to post this years’. Feels suiting. Spring really is the time of rebirth and renewal – the time to come out of hibernation and get on with living.

That analogy holds significant meaning for me. I’ve been a bit MIA from here with a super busy task – beating breast cancer. It’s been a very chaotic, anxious, and life changing year. But, just like the spring, I am back and blooming. I wish the same for all of you.

The story I wrote this year for Spring Fling Kidlit is inspired by my recent life-altering events, and dedicated to all the women I have rekindled with or recently befriended who have undergone similar experiences. Over the past several months, I connected with many parents and children who have been through cancer together. I have discussed with them what it does to families, and shared with them what it has done to ourselves. We have laughed together, worried together, wondered together, changed together, but most importantly- we FOUGHT together. I’ve witnessed children grow up too fast in the face of this disease, and adults forced too quickly into major decisions. One of the most hopeful things I’ve learned is that when the going gets tough, and just getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge, it is the people around us that motivate us to soldier on. It is the children of these parents who give them reason to keep fighting, it is the friends and the families of these patients that continue to give them (us) hope. I am thankful to them, and proud of my fellow friends – and myself – who have chosen their course of action (sometimes that’s the most difficult part) and conquered the climb. You are the warriors, the heroes, the inspiration for humanity. May you come back every spring to bloom better than the one before. This story is inspired by all of you.

And now on to my contest entry…

Below are the guidelines for this years’ Spring Fling Kidlit contest, FYI. I hope this gets enough sunlight and water to bloom into the hearts that need it most.

A special thank you to our creators and donors -you can find them on Twitter:

@valerie_bolling @Anne_Appert @agenthenkin @andreadonall @DianaMWrites @dbhiguera @teresarobeson @MattForrestVW @viviankirkfield @sarafinadesign @loveleemonicaa @CiaraONeal2 @KaitlynLeann17

Spring Fling Rules

1. Your story should be geared towards kids ages 12 or under.

2. Choose a gif to inspire your story.

3. All gifs should be child appropriate and in no way be derogatory towards any faith, race, etc.

4. Now for the dreaded word count! You have 150 words. That’s it! No more but less is always welcome.

5. Your title is not included in the word count.

6. No illustration notes pretty please.

7. Your gif should be the only visual with your story.

8. The Spring Fling contest officially begins on Friday, April 1st.

9. From April 1st to April 3rd, post your gif and story on your blog. (If you have one.)


gif created by Author/Illustrator Marietta Apollonio https://www.mariettaapollonio.com/


by Melissa Rutigliano

141 Words

Spring brings a different kind of Mother’s Day this year.

Mama stays in bed a little longer.

Mama lays her head a little lower.

Mama acts a little scared.

Mama’s hair is barely there.

So I bring Mama flowers,

read Mama my card,

fluff Mama’s pillow,

and help all I can.

Sometimes my help makes messes,

but it still makes Mama smile.

Mama hasn’t looked this happy in a while.

I wish every day was Mother’s Day

so Mama would always feel this way.

Seasons pass,

I grow one year,

and Mama’s here

when spring brings a different kind of Mother’s Day.

I pick Mama flowers,

read Mama my card,

share chocolate surprises,

and finally…

give Mama tight hugs again.     

“Mama?” I ask,

“What’s the greatest Mother’s Day gift you ever got?”

“YOU, my dear. You gave me reason to be here.”

Posted by mrutigliano, 1 comment


Welcome to the Spring Fling Kidlit Contest!

What are the Rules?

Pick a GIF to inspire a Spring-themed story in 150 words max, geared for ages 12 and under.



144 words

Spring brings

eye gunk

ear funk

nose junk

What luck?!


Here we go again –


Sounds like April and smells like allergies.

Spring brings

sick season

and a million reasons

why I DEFINITELY can’t go to school.


Forget the flowers

remember the tissues

and plug ‘em up these nostrils tight.

Because my nose runs faster than I do

when Mom tries

to plop

those drops

    into my eyes!


Ears pop

sniffles won’t stop

head aches

and makes May the





and gruffy.

I itch for summer

and cry for July.

Spring brings

wind that blows

grass that grows

and pollen that snows.

I whistle when I wheeze

shoot snot when I sneeze

blow boogers in the breeze.




Posted by mrutigliano, 5 comments

Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

‘s Contest: since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (defined as ages 12 and under) 214 words max in which someone feels brave!

Here’s my second entree…one for the girls 😉


Word Count: 208

Knock the ball out of the park.

Brave the monsters after dark.

Share my toys.

Hang with the boys.

‘Cus I’m not just a pretty girl.

Sell out the lemons in the stand.

Lead the marching, play the band.

Score the highest on the test.

Accept the compliments when I do best.

‘Cus I’m not just a pretty girl.

Write the essay.

Race the relay.

Drive the cars.

Scale the bars.

Paint in blue.

Tie my shoe.

Star the show.

Skip the bow.

Dress in pants.

Take a stance.

‘Cus I’m not just a pretty girl.

Climb the trees.

Scrape my knees.

Dig in the dirt.

Mud on my skirt.

‘Cus I’m not just a pretty girl.

Math, Science, Chemistry

I know the answer, call on me.

A chef, a doctor, a Nasa mission —

work, play, learn, listen.

Born from woman

heaven sent,

to become…

the President.

Bow, curtsey, kneel, twirl.

Hammer, nail, build, curl.

Dream big,

brave a better world…

‘cus I’m not just a pretty girl.

Posted by mrutigliano, 14 comments

Be Brave, My Heart! – The 6th Annual Valentiny Contest

~ for children’s writers ~

SUSANNA LEONARD HILL‘s Contest: since writing for children is all about “big emotion for little people” and Valentines Day is all about emotion, write a Valentines story appropriate for children (defined as ages 12 and under) 214 words max in which someone feels brave!


Word Count: 207

Boys just don’t give other boys valentines.



So maybe I’ll give one to Cora

or Mahlia

or wait, no…

maybe some candy hearts for Hannah

or roses for Rosie.


Forget it.

Valentines is dumb, anyways.

Who needs hugs

and love,

sticky kisses

and sweet wishes?

So dumb.

And why is Lucas looking at me like that?

Everyone knows he’s…


Cora knows it,

and Mahlia,

and Hannah and Rosie.

I don’t do different.

And I DON’T need anymore friends.


I never wanted Lucas to be just a friend, anyway.



Forget about Lucas.

Everyone else has.

He’s probably forgotten about me…

although he’s STILL looking at me like that.

Like he wants to give me a valentine,

or some candy hearts,

or some roses.

But all through the day,

and all night long…

I think of Lucas.

Not Cora

or Mahlia

or Hannah or Rosie….

I can’t forget the way he looks at me

and sees me like no one else.

So the next morning,

before the bell even rings,

I know…

Boys just don’t give other boys valentines.


That’s dumb.

They give it to them right in front of the whole class.

Dear Lucas,

Will you be brave with me?

Posted by mrutigliano, 14 comments

The Beach Weeps while Summer Sets – So Long, Summer 2020

How was everyone’ summer? Probably like everyone’s year…weird.

I normally never want summer to end, but this year, I feel like I am still waiting for it to start… Or maybe I am just waiting for the entire year to be over. Not that a January 1 date will automatically change everything for the better. But, still…

What I do know is that I spent more time at home. I also know that, despite the despair of the year and what feels like the absence of a “normal” summer, I did still enjoy so much of what these warmer months tend to bring. So I hope everyone did as well…

I hope you felt sunshine on your face.

I hope you felt sand in between your toes.

I hope you saw friends and family.

I hope you rode a bike

or went for a hike

or devoured an ice cream cone

or read a book on a front porch somewhere.

I hope you BBQed

or swam

or saw fireworks

or sung by a firepit.

I hope summer was sweeter to you than sour

and that you are moving along through this weird year

gaining momentum and memories.

Being home a lot more this summer than past years, I spent a lot of time in the backyard. There is a tree in our yard called a Weeping Beach. It is beautiful. It comes abloom in the spring, and weeps life into the summer season.

I entered into a writing contest this summer. #SunWriteFun focused on a summer theme somehow. The requirements were that it had to be nonfiction or informational fiction, less than 200 words and for ages 4-12. I wanted to do something summer themed but focus on a topic that also took on the seriousness of our current state. The Weeping Beach in my backyard inspired me to write this piece that won a prize in the contest.

I am sharing what I wrote here with you all today, in honor of the last day of Summer 2020. I hope that it helps you cherish summer and appreciate what we have – keeping the promise to take care of the beautiful things that live around us….especially each other.


by Melissa Rutigliano

The beach weeps

and needs a sweeping.

The sea’s tears cry

from years of dirty keeping and salty practice.

Can you believe,

our destination of summer dreams,

weeps because of us?

The paper blows through sandy shores.

And even though the people know,

it gets ignored

and blows some more.

The gull pops plastic in his mouth.

It drops,


flops to the ocean’s top.

It braves the waves,



what are we thinking?!

The turtle tangoes and tangles

with offshore pieces and foreign parts

that do not belong in her home.

The seal swallows,

her mate follows…

these creatures do not swim alone.

The dolphins are caught,

the sharks shell-shocked,

the fish are tricked into thinking our garbage is food.

Our dreams of summer

suffer down under.

Is there something we can do?

The crab crawls, crazed

looks up through a hazy daze,

and stares at the glistening sun.

Does he see a brighter day to come?

When we start the upkeeping,

continue the sweeping,

so the birds,




crabby crustaceans,

and all the beach’s makings…

can stop their weeping.

It’s a summer’s dream worth believing,

and a sunny mission worth our keeping.

Posted by mrutigliano, 35 comments

Start Smart.

“There is no chapter more important than your first chapter, no page more important than your first page and no line more important than your first line.”

Marci Wernick, Literary Agent

Quote cred goes to Marcia Wernick of the Wernick Pratt Literary Agency. There are few truer words. This applies to writing, of course, but I couldn’t help but think how much it applies to life. And how much it applies to TODAY…right now, as we “start” to reopen…as we write a new book and begin the first chapter.

Listen, I am not saying first impressions are everything. We’ve all had a rough go at those sometimes. And I’m certainly guilty of making some initial assumptions about people, which completely changed after I got to know them better.

And clearly there are more important chapters of our lives than the first one we lived – pooping in our pants and spitting up mashed bananas. I would hope most of us have gotten further along in our later chapters.  

BUT – I think it more so applies to life in this way: how we start out anything, is sometimes everything. Even if we’re 92 years old and want to start our own company, anything is possible if we start it the right way. If we’re not on the right foot from the beginning, we’re going to trip the entire way. I do believe If we’re not doing it correctly from the start, if we’re trying to take an easy way out, or if we’re simply not being kind and fair, we won’t get very far. If we’re trying to cheat, the only one we’re really cheating is ourselves. Our first chapter, our first page, our first line – we must write it right. (Oh, see what I did there? I tied this back to the name of this site “Melissa Makes It Write”… 😊)

So, today, I think this quote REALLY applies. We are all beginning the much-anticipated start of reopening, of getting back to our lives, and starting a new normalcy. What we do now – as we begin the first chapter, the first page, the very first word –  will heavily impact how we proceed and where we will find ourselves in the chapters that lay ahead. Let’s continue to think about that. Let’s think about that right now, BEFORE we enter the next stage, preparing for our restart and restoring. We have a fresh start. A heavy reminder to respect people’s boundaries,  appreciate one another’s presence, and to for God’s sake WASH OUR HANDS.

And so as we can actually get out and begin new beginnings…

Whatever you are starting, or thinking about starting…start it. But start it sizzling. Do the right thing. Do not skip ahead to chapter 5…we need to take the proper precautions and respect chapter 1. But do not be afraid. Go in hot. Go all in. Commit to the dream. Dedicate yourself to the want. Be passionate about your passion.

Start your own business. But build that first chapter on good bones.

Open a new door of opportunity. But paginate your plan and walk through prepared.

Give that person you’ve been wanting to connect with a call or send them a text. Heck, maybe even see them in person, soon. But make your first line shine who you truly are.

And if you’re not doing any of that, that’s OK, too. Just start your day out strong. I don’t care if it’s with a strong ambition, a strong will to do something new, a strong hug (yay- we can maybe start doing this!), or just a really strong cup of coffee. Do something bold. And be bold from the beginning.

It’s your story. Write it right, rite from the start.

And let’s not mess this up, humans.

Posted by mrutigliano, 19 comments
More to Memorialize

More to Memorialize

Just over two months ago, we canceled a trip to Key West. We almost went, tossing Covid caution to the wind, not realizing what it would soon blow in our direction, and the magnitude of what was to come in this country. A few days later was St. Patrick’s Day. It was an unordinarily unlucky day for the lucky Irish…and every other nationality that shares this nation.

But, despite not being in sunny Key West that morning enjoying “breakfast” at Irish Kevin’s, we made Irish coffees and shared soda bread at a much different Island – the one in our kitchen.

Instead of walking down Duval Street taking in all the live music and making new friends, we rode our bikes around the neighborhood blasting Dropkick Murphy’s from the portable radio, making friends out of neighbors.

We toasted in our own living room to a better day to come, when we would be back in Key West and back to seeing more than just the lovely people who reside around our block…never fathoming it would be even more than two months away and take us straight from winter to summer.

The day, the disappointment, and the dream all inspired me to write and post the below piece.

So, from St. Patrick’s Day to Memorial Day, from one holiday to the next, from a warm start of spring to a chilly start to summer, I wanted to repost this…written on an unlucky March 17th, a piece of disappointment and dreams. (aftermath to follow)

And the world quieted,

and the stores shut down,

and the smoke started clearing,

and the streets stopped beeping…

…and the people stayed home.

They considered themselves unlucky on a day that was meant to be about luck.

They canceled.

So they cooked a new recipe.

The read a book.

They cleaned that closet.

They taught themself guitar.

They wrote that story.

They opened the wine they’d been saving.

They binged that show everyone’s been talking about.

They taught their children.

They went for walks.

They waved to neighbors.

They caught up on emails.

They called their moms.

They played board games.

They facetimed friends.

They created music.

They exercised.

They baked cookies.

They cuddled their dogs.

They took a bubble bath.

They made love.

They toasted.

They appreciated teachers and nurses and police officers.

They thought of the young, the old, and the sick.

They prayed.

They laughed.

They sung.

They danced.

They cried.

They shared.

They dreamed.

They regretted.

They hoped.

They began to heal.

And when the world grew loud,

and the stores opened their doors,

and the smoke cleared,

and the streets gleamed…

…so did the people.

They considered themselves lucky.

They gathered.

They shook hands, and hugged, and kissed.

They cut their losses

and made their plans.

They caught up with friends.

They cooked and broke bread.

They cuddled.

They tasted and sipped.

They played music.

They danced.

They laughed.

They cried.

They toasted.

They shared.

They dreamed.

They recovered…

…and so did the world.

Because when the people speak

and open

and beep

and gleam

and grow

and heal

the world echoes the sound and reflects the light.

-Melissa Rutigliano, 3/17/20

I thought by now we’d be in the second part of this piece. We’d be celebrating the start of summer and memorializing those who died in service from a time farther away than yesterday. We’d be cutting old loses and making new plans. We’d be living on the up. We’d be together.

And some are. Some are slowly coming out of quarantine, distancing themselves outside or in masks with the people they haven’t seen in months. Some are getting negative tests results and getting on with their lives. Some are starting to get out more. Some are going back to work. Some are well rested and rejuvenated. Some are headed to the beach. Some are breaking bread together again.

But some can’t afford bread. Some are still confined to their homes. Some are buried further under the blanket of loneliness. Some are still testing positive and suffering symptoms. Some are petrified of the open beaches. Some have never stopped working and are exhausted. Some still haven’t gotten a single unemployment paycheck.

So, on a weekend of remembrance, let’s remember all of that. Yes, we are all in this together, but no, we are not all swimming in the same sea. Some have yachts and some are drowning. But maybe we can all try to keep swimming side by side in some way. And if you see the mate beside you needing a life raft, throw them one. Let’s continue to honor the ones who gave their lives for us. And then let’s honor the living by trying to keep on living ourselves. And whomever you may be breaking bread with this weekend – whether it be family, friends, your cat or yourself, please consider yourself lucky. And if you don’t have bread to break, ask someone for some. There are plenty of bakers out there willing to share.

And then let’s echo the sound and reflect the light.

Posted by mrutigliano, 18 comments

Keep your lemons…I don’t even like lemonade. Or do I?

We’ve all heard the “take lemons and make lemonade” spiel. But, even lemonade can be sour. And there’s only so much of that stuff one person can drink. Amirite?!

It’s not alway easy seeing the silver lining. And in today’s world, everyone is encouraging finding that in our current situation. But isn’t it a bit exhausting to squeeze out lemonade from all these lemons?

Bad things happen. To all of us. Really crummy, stomach-achey, bad things.

But sometimes, those bad things snowball into good.

Sometimes, those stomach aches turn into butterflies.

Sometimes, those lemons really do make one refreshing, sweet lemonade.

And I’d drink to that…

I often wonder about little circumstances in life that – if different or never happened- would mean a complete different life than the one I am living. What small decisions have you made that changed the entire course of your life? What unfortunate circumstance has happened to you that, if you stop and think, actually produced some sort of good?

Here, for my first blog post, I’d like to share one of mine. I find it appropriate because it’s a silver lining of a really bad situation, which is very timely right now. It also explains the start of why I am here, doing this, writing picture books, working towards publication, encouraging empathy and emotions, sharing stories and finding friendships, advocating for animals and promoting the greater good…

…and babbling to ya’ll about silly lemons.

Posted by mrutigliano, 6 comments