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1. Giving Thanks with Author Pat Brisson + Book Giveaway

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my dear friend Pat Brisson, whose short post reminds us all to be thankful for the Food We Eat! Pat is always an inspiration for me. Just seeing her smiling face makes me want to be kinder and more mindful of others.

Pat has generously donated an autographed copy of her book, The Food We Eat: from farm to table for the comment contest. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment about giving thanks.

Author Pat Brisson shares about the writing of her picture book: Before We Eat: from farm to table

I have long felt that Thanksgiving was the most spiritual of all American holidays because it’s not cluttered up with stuff but is all about getting together with family to share a meal. And give thanks for all our blessings. And although Before We Eat: from farm to table is not specifically about Thanksgiving, it’s an appropriate book to talk about in the Thanksgiving season because it’s about being mindful, when we sit down to share a meal with family, that a lot of people worked very hard to help us get food to our tables.

I grew up with the tradition of saying grace before meals and this book started out as a grace with the words Bless the one who did this and Bless the one who did that. My editor at Tilbury House, Audrey Maynard, asked if I would consider changing Bless to Thank. She thought it would give the book broader appeal. So I did, and it became a sort of secular grace – a moment of thankful awareness of, not only the workers in the fields, but also the ones packing the crates and checking weights and driving the produce to the stores and all the clerks who sell the food to us.

When Audrey said they were thinking of an illustrator who did woodblock prints to do the illustration. I said, “Oh, like Mary Azarian?” “That’s who we’ve sent it to," she told me. I was stunned. I LOVED Mary Azarian’s art and – be still my heart – she agreed to do it! Came out of retirement to do it! I was thrilled. Mary’s striking art takes my words to another level. Her prints are both strong and tender and offer so much for the youngest readers to explore on the page. If I never do another book (a strong possibility in this current difficult market) I will feel like I’m going out on a high note.

* MOONBEAM GOLD AWARD *
* GROWING GOOD KIDS AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHILDREN'S LITERATURE, AMERICAN HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY AND NATIONAL MASTER JUNIOR GARDENER PROGRAM *
(Milk doesn't just appear in your refrigerator, nor do apples grow in the bowl on the kitchen counter.)

“A simple poem thanking the people who grow, transport, sell and prepare our food is transformed by Azarian’s bright woodcuts... A warm celebration of both small farms and the idea that it takes a village to feed a child. (Picture book. 2-6)” (Kirkus)

Illustration from Before We Eat
 “The  book is a thoughtful examination of where food comes from― that is before is gets to the grocery store.  …Pages show people engaged in every manner of food production: plowing, planting, harvesting, milking, egg gathering, packing and weighing crates, driving delivery trucks and cashiering at the grocery store.  It is a wonderfully inclusive and honest way to view food acquisition.” (Jennifer Prince - Children’s Book Review, Citizen-Times, Ashville NC)


Pat Brisson is the author of 20 books for young readers, including The Summer My Father Was Ten and Sometimes We Were Brave (both from Boyds Mills Press). A graduate of Rutgers University, she is a former elementary school teacher, school librarian, and public-library reference librarian. Pat lives in New Jersey with her husband. 

Artist Mary Azarian is the Caldecott-Medal winning illustrator of Snowflake Bentley, written by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (1999, Houghton Mifflin). She created the pictures for Before We Eat by first carving the pictures in wood (in reverse!) and then printing them with ink onto paper before adding the color with watercolor paints. She lives and creates her art on a hilltop farm in Vermont.

Author Pat Brisson and Artist Mary Azarian
To learn more about Pat and her books, check out her website: www.patbrisson.com  
To learn more about the  publisher of Before We Eat, click on the link: tilburyhouse.com


Thank you, dear Pat, for this thoughtful reminder to give thanks. Thank you, dear reader for leaving a comment about what you are thankful for. The winner will be announced on November 29. ~Clara

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2. Happy Book Birthday to Author Kim Briggs -- BOOK ONE OF THE STARR FALL SERIES


Announcing an exciting new series by my friend, Author Kim Briggs! 

Happy Book Birthday to you, Kim!






 
Author of STARR FALL, BOOK ONE OF THE STARR FALL SERIES, November 4, 2016
“On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.”

STARR LOST, BOOK TWO OF THE STARR FALL SERIES, January 2017
STARR GONE, BOOK THREE OF THE STARR FALL SERIES, June 2017
AND THEN HE, A NEW ADULT PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER, available now at major retailers
Co-Regional Advisor Eastern PA SCBWI

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3. Whooooo is the LUCKY WINNER of THE HAUNTING HALLOWEEN GIVEAWAY?

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for your enthusiastic response to Kenneth Kit Lamug's Interview and his atmospheric illustrations in his haunting Halloween tale, The Stumps of Flattop Hill. I hope you took the time to watch his delightfully eerie book trailer. If not, you'll find the link below.

Thank you, Ken, for sharing your special talent with us! Visit the author here:

https://www.rabbleboy.com

And now, announcing The LUCKY WINNER of THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL chosen by random.org: 
**Congratulations, MARTIN SEGAL**

(Martin, you have one week to claim your prize. Please e-mail me with your mailing address: (at)gmail(dot)com>)

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a macabre tale of a little girl who enters the town’s legendary haunted house in the face of fear. A dark tale for children in the tradition of the Brother’s Grimm, it calls to mind the provocative illustration style of Edward Gorey. Scary and entertaining, this book challenges the idea of what children’s books can be.
 
The Stumps of Flattop Hill received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2016

Here's the link to the book trailer:

Spooky Halloween Fairytale Picture Book Children's 

https://www.youtube.com/user/koolkit/videos


 My next guest is a dear friend of many years, Author Pat Brisson, who will share with us for the Thanksgiving season. For now, HAPPY HALLOWEEN! ~Clara

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4. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Interview with Author/Illustrator Ken Lamug + Spooky Halloween giveaway

Dear friends,

There's a deliciously spooky Halloween treat waiting for you, but first the winner of last week's giveaway for The Stone and the Bowl by Bish Denham is: Rosemary Basham!! Congratulations, Rosemary! Last week's winner didn't claim her prize, so I pulled a new winner for Pamela Jane's Halloween or Christmas book using random.org. Congratulations to: Heather Sebastian! Thank you for including your e-mail address. I'll be in touch shortly.

NOW. . .Please join me in welcoming the mutli-talented, Author/Illustrator Ken Lamug. Learn about Ken, read his insightful interview about his writing journey and influences, and click on his links for a real spooky preview of his picture book and for lessons in illustration! Thank you, Ken, for your generosity in donating an autographed copy of your book, The Stumps of Flattop Hill. Ken hinted that he might have some extra treats for the winner! So please be sure to leave a comment for Ken for a chance to win!



Kenneth Kit Lamug is an author/illustrator based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He self-published his first children’s book which won a bunch of awards and fulfilled one of his lifelong dream. His most recent books include the macabre children’s fairytale, The Stumps of Flattop Hill (One Peace Books) and the parenting parody book, HURTS LIKE A MOTHER (Doubleday). He has contributed to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s “Tiny Books of Tiny Stories” and many other publications. Ken has also worked in movies, comics and his photography has been showcased internationally. When he’s not making monsters in the basement, he enjoys other hobbies like working.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is a macabre tale of a little girl who enters the town’s legendary haunted house in the face of fear. A dark tale for children in the tradition of the Brother’s Grimm, it calls to mind the provocative illustration style of Edward Gorey. Scary and entertaining, this book challenges the idea of what children’s books can be.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval 2016


INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR, KENNETH KIT LAMUG

How did you come up with the storyline?

The Stumps of Flattop Hill was a small idea that started with a rhyme. I didn’t really have a firm idea, so I stowed it away. Then one day, while on a family vacation, we drove past a town called Flat Top (California) and for some reason that name sparked the idea for the story. I was rhyming and thinking of the possibilities all the way to San Francisco.

When I returned, I started writing down the idea and was even inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. The haunted house idea came from my childhood experience, where kids daring each other to enter a creepy house was not an unusual event.

I got to work and it all came together a few months later.

Did you like fairytales as a kid?

I grew up in the Philippines which was a melting-pot for many cultures (from Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Middle-Eastern, Western and others). Hearing stories about urban legends, & folktales was just part of growing up.

Grimm fairy tale stories that I read as a child were already westernized versions which were kid-friendly. I enjoyed reading them and watching them on television. The fantastical worlds and mysterious creatures fascinated me.

What really scared me though were the stories that kids would share around the neighborhood. We had monsters that stole babies from pregnant women, dark elves that would cast illness, or ghost that haunted our school hallways.

Those were real to me and has influenced my stories in many ways.

What was your artistic influence for The Stumps of Flattop Hill?

When I first saw some of Gorey’s books I was mesmerized by his technical precision. The detailed line work required a lot of discipline and patience, which was something I lacked at the time. But as I studied more of his books, I also fell in love with his dark humor. I felt that his stories were never straightforward, that something was hidden for the reader to interpret. His work ethic is also a great inspiration, producing over a hundred books is quite an accomplishment. A few of my favorites include, The Epipleptic Bicycle, The Willowdale Handcar and his most popular book The Gashlycrumb Tinies. These books are perfect examples containing the right amount of humor, macabre and mystery.

Another influence that I should mention is Tim Burton. His short film, Vincent, created quite an impression, along with his loose and dynamic drawing style. I was hoping to achieve that balance between Gorey and Burton in The Stumps of Flattop Hill.

How long does it take you to draw an image? How long to finish the book?

I found that planning a scene will often times take longer than the drawing process itself. Since I also have a regular job and a family, I can only dedicate so many hours in a day to drawing or writing. A typical drawing can sometimes be completed in a single evening or sometimes it can take more than a week. But planning it and thinking about the right image can take a long time and many trial and errors. The entire book took about six months to complete and a few revisions that occurred over a year's time. It’s always healthy to step back from a project and look at it at a later date with a fresh perspective.

What about the parents who do not want their kids to read spooky stories?

I can understand how some parents wouldn’t want their kids to read a spooky story. Maybe they don’t think their kids can handle it, but I also think we don’t give the kids enough credit in this regard. Of course, as parents we have to gauge what our kids can and cannot handle. But we should also take this opportunity to explain things and teach them.

The Stumps of Flattop Hill is not just a spooky story; there’s humor and there’s also a character who shows strength. But the ending of the book is open to interpretation.Even though an entire town feared the haunted house, Florence maintained a peaceful and happy expression in the end. Maybe it wasn’t all that bad after all.

What has been your experience with the publication of The Stumps of Flattop Hill?

My process has always been about finishing a book and then pitching it to a publisher. When I finished The Stumps, it made its rounds to the publishers through my agent (it took a little over a year).  But once it was picked up by One Peace Books, it has been quite smooth and most of the art and text were kept as is. They were easy to work with and very supportive.
Here are a few videos of Ken creating illustrations. The first link is the trailer for The Stumps of Flattop Hill. I came across it on Twitter and immediately invited Ken to be a guest on my blog. Thanks, Ken, for sharing your talent here. If you're drawn to spooky books and fairytales, you're going to love this eerie tale! Click on the link below:

Spooky Halloween Fairytale Picture Book Children's 

https://www.youtube.com/user/koolkit/videos 

Click on the link below for a lesson in illustrating Edward Gorey style:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN0UOM5QOUU

Click on the link below for a Pen and Ink drawing lesson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6uS1zrNZME

One more time lapse lesson in drawing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pPNW17j2bE

Illustrations from inside The Stumps of Flattop Hill:
 
REVIEWS of The Stumps of Flattop Hill:
 This is a book my kids would have dragged out of the box time after time, the one held together by sellotape and a shared love of things that go bump in the night. If there’s a small person in your life who likes delightfully creepy tales, give both of you a treat and buy them this. - Vulpes Libris


This book isn’t the type of children’s book such as The little Engine That Could or Green Eggs and Ham, all bright colors and a simple moral. It’s creepier and darker — both literally and figuratively — and ends more ambiguously than most children’s books. For the right kind of child — or an adult who remains young at heart — it may be just the right sort of book.
Las Vegas Review Journal (F. Andrew Taylor)

"Ken Lamug’s THE STUMPS OF FLATTOP HILL brings a long-overdue disturbance to the picture book arena. The cover alone promised me things that I was desperate for the story to keep.”
The Midnight Society



What are you working on now?
I’m always in the middle of a book project or doing research. I’ve just finished a 150 page wordless graphic novel. “Pedro and the Flea King” is about a boy who goes on an adventure as he tries to save the town from the king and his minions. It’s making its rounds looking for a publisher at this time. I’m also about to wrap-up an all-ages comic (titled Random Quest) which will debut in the fall for the Vegas Valley Comic Book Festival. With my down-time, I’m focusing on my children’s picture book projects, taking workshops and participating in critiques. Just trying to get better at the craft.
Learn more about Ken Lamug and his books:

Follow him on Facebook and Twitter:


Thanks, dear readers, for stopping by to leave a comment for this talented young man! As always, simply leave a comment for a chance to win! The WINNER will be announced on FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28th. ~Clara

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5. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Bish Denham shares about Ghosts + Giveaway


Dear Readers,

A big thank you to everyone who stopped by to leave a comment last week. As always, I'm thankful to random.org for picking the winner. Congratulations to our winner, *KIM CHEZ!* Kim, please send your mailing address to: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com. If I don't hear from you by a week from today, a new winner will be picked.

And now, please give the talented Bish Denham a warm welcome. Today you'll get a Ghostly look at a haunting tale from the past and a preview of Bish's own! Bish is generously donating a copy of her Middle Grade novel, The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, for this week's comment contest. Simply leave a comment for a chance to win!


  Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly. She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.” The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.

Learn more about Bish: Random Thoughts: http://bish-randomthoughts.blogspot.com.
Follow Bish on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BishDenham/Author
Twitter: @BishDenham
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6439315.Bish_Denham

The History of Ghosts, an ancient Ghost Story, and an Excerpt from The Bowl and the Stone  

by Bish Denham

Thanks for letting me *haunt* your blog, Clara! Today, I’d like to share a little something about the history of ghosts and an early ghost story.

The belief in ghosts can be found in cultures all over the world. Though, there’s no way to determine when the idea of ghosts first came into existence, wraith-like humans returning from the dead can be found in Mesopotamian stories, a culture that dates back to the 3rd millennia BC. Other ancient cultures that believed in ghosts were Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, and China. For the most part, the return of the departed was never a good thing, and was considered to be a sign that something had gone awry.

Perhaps one of the earliest accounts of an actual sighting of a ghost was related by Pliny the Younger, a Roman lawyer, magistrate, and author in a letter to a friend, written sometime between 50-100 AD. (As a side note, he and his uncle, Pliny the Elder, witnessed the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in which the latter died.)

In the letter, Pliny describes a house in Athens that was rented by the stoic philosopher, Athenodorus. (There are three listed in Wikipedia so I don’t know which Athenodorus this one is, but all lived between the 3rd and 1st century BC.) The house had a reputation for making noises at night that sounded like rattling chains or fetters. A phantom had also been seen. Athenodorus was not put off by the stories and, on his first night in the house, set about writing in his room. It wasn’t long before he heard the clanging of chains, but he ignored the noise. Soon the noise grew louder until it seemed to come from outside the door and then right in his room. At this point he looked around and saw the phantom, an old man, “extremely meager and squalid, with a long beard and bristling hair; rattling the gyves (fetters) on his feet and hands.”

Athenodorus confronts the spectre.
(public domain from Wikimedia.com)
The ghost beckoned Athenodorus to follow him, which he did. The old man took him out into the garden, rattling his chains all the way and, at a certain point, vanished. The philosopher marked the spot and in the morning had the spot dug up. There they found a moldering skeleton intertwined with chains. At public expense, the bones were properly reburied and the house was haunted no more.

In my story, The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, Sam and her best friend, Nick are being haunted by ghost. In this excerpt, they encounter the specter for the first time.


Excerpt from THE BOWL AND THE STONE by Bish Denham

The air is different. There’s a strange moistness to it. It smells of damp earth after a light rain. And there’s another odor, faint, as though someone has walked past who hasn’t bathed in a while. A weight settles on my chest, making it hard to breathe.

“Do you get the feeling we’re being watched?” Nick asks.

I wrap my arms tightly around myself and hunch my shoulders. I want it to be a game, but it isn’t. This is real.

“Yes.” My throat starts to close, and the word comes out in a hoarse whisper.

We turn at the same moment, staring down the porch which is shrouded in the deepening gloom of dusk. A huge black man is there in the blocked doorway. His body fills the space. In the darkness I can barely make out the tattered pants that are tied at his waist with a rope. His face is in shadow. As one, without a word, Nick and I slowly walk towards him. As we approach, he backs up into the thorny tangle of lime trees and disappears. We race to the blocked entrance, but we can’t get through the trees, so how could a person of his size manage it?

“Did you see that?” Nick runs back to the main entrance and the front steps, red cape flapping.

I follow, almost stepping on his heels. “None of the branches were moving!”

We race outside and around the front of the house to the lime trees, searching for whoever disappeared into them, but no one’s there.

We go back to the front steps and sit.

“How weird….” My heart is pounding. “But we both saw it, didn’t we? So it has to be real, right? This isn’t a game, is it?”

“No, it’s not a game. Maybe it was a jumbie. OOoooooOOooooo.”

I slap Nick’s arm. “Stop it, that’s not funny.”

Book Summary:
Pirates. Explorers. And spooky ghost hunters. It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams. They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them? As carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.
Purchase the book here:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2cEYRIz
 Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/650290


Thanks for sharing a bit of history about ancient ghosts, Bish, and for the eerie excerpt from your book, The Bowl and The Stone. I'm hooked! 

Dear Readers, Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Bish's haunting tale. The winner will be announced on MONDAY, October 24th. 

The final HALLOWEEN post is an interview with author/illustrator Ken Lamug about his book, The Stumps of Flattop Hill. Yes, Ken is donating a copy of his haunting picture book! Stay tuned. . .


0 Comments on Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Bish Denham shares about Ghosts + Giveaway as of 10/18/2016 9:43:00 AM
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6. Halloween and Christmas??? with Author Pamela Jane + Giveaway

Dear friends,

The air is crisp, the leaves golden, the sky a deep October blue. Cider is mulling, pumpkins are morphing into Jack-O'lanterns, and some, so I hear, are dusting off their brooms for wild rides! But WAIT, what's this? Author Pamela Jane is sharing wisdom from her writing desk and giving you a chance to get a head start on your Christmas gifts (if you wish!) or Halloween treats in a special Comment Contest Book Giveaway! (Details at end of post!)

Please give Pamela Jane a warm welcome!  

Author Pamela Jane

Pamela Jane is the author of more than thirty children’s books from board books to memoir.  Her recent children’s books include the much-loved Halloween book, Little Goblins Ten, a spinoff of the classic rhyme “Over in the Meadow.” The Christmas sequel is Little Elfie One. Both books are published by Harper and illustrated by NY Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning. Pamela is also the author of a new memoir, An Incredible Talent for Existing: A Writers Odyssey and Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lovers Romp Through Jane Austen’s Classic. In addition, Pamela is an essayist, writing coach, and columnist for womensmemoirs.com. Visit her here: http://www.memoircoaching.com

It’s Not About the Words!  By Pamela Jane

Years ago I took a weekend seminar with renowned screenwriting teacher, Bob McKee. The auditorium was packed. Not only screenwriters, but novelists, children’s authors, and editors of all genres had come to hear McKee talk about the art of writing and storytelling. I could hardly wait for the seminar to start.
            McKee walked out on stage and stood for a moment, looking out at the audience. Everyone was silent, waiting for him to begin.
          “Writing,” he said finally, his intense gaze scanning the audience, “is not about the words.”
Yes! I thought, someone finally said it! I had always felt that words were merely messengers of a deeper truth concealed behind or beneath them.
 Writing, McKee went on to say, is about characters, meaning, and emotional impact.  (Although he was mainly talking about screenplays, the same is true of other genres, including memoirs.)
 Recently I rediscovered the truth of McKee’s statement when I sat down to write Little Elfie One, a Christmas sequel to my rhyming Halloween book Little Goblins Ten, which had been published the year before.  I love writing in rhyme, and although the new manuscript wasn’t due for several months, I couldn’t wait to get started.
 It was easy to slip into the holiday spirit on a raw November morning as I sat down with pen and paper by the glowing wood stove.  This was going to be so much fun!  But after several hours of scribbling random rhymes, I started to panic. The story was obviously not working.  The idea of a Christmas sequel (which was suggested by a fan of the Halloween book) was a huge mistake! Why had I thought I could pull it off?
  My husband maintains that panic is part of my writing process. I always panic, he says, and then I figure out a way to make it work.  But if he’s right, I have to really truly panic. I can’t say, “Oh, great, I’m panicking – this is just part of my writing process!” Instead, I have to honestly believe that what I’m attempting is impossible. Which is exactly how I felt as I sat staring down at the jumble of disconnected rhymes.
  This was not part of my writing process! I really could not do this. My editor had mistakenly placed trust in me, I realized with dismay. There would be no Christmas sequel, no story for the artist to illustrate, no holiday book signings.
  Having a book contract in hand is a great feeling ­ – unless you can’t deliver. What was I going to do? The words were tripping me up, tying me (and themselves) in knots, obstructing and protesting at every turn. I could see them marching along carrying signs: “Sentences on Strike!” “Equal Pay for Adverbs,” “No Storyline, No Work.”
    Storyline! That’s what was missing. In my eagerness to start writing, I’d forgotten all about the story. My Halloween book had a natural storyline in the building excitement of all the monsters getting ready to go trick-or-treating. But the Christmas story required an entirely different narrative.
   At that point I crumpled up everything I’d written so far and threw the whole mess into the fire. Then I started working out a plot.
Bob McKee was right – writing is about characters, story, and meaning. For me, it’s also about panic, and tossing out dismal first drafts that serve as crude roadmaps indicating where not to go. (Literally thousands for my forthcoming memoir.) But the truth is, writing is also about the words, just not initially.Once I tossed out the aimless rhymes and got the story going, the words stopped pro-testing and hopped on for the ride.                                            
                                                     
LITTLE GOBLINS TEN by Pamela Jane/Illustrated by Jane Mannin HarperCollins Children's Books  978-0-06-176798-2, hardcover  Ages 3-7
From monsters to ghosties to goblins, everyone's favorite beasties haunt and howl and rattle their way through their forest home in this silly, spooky twist on the beloved nursery rhyme "Over in the Meadow." New York Times best-selling illustrator, Jane Manning, adds vibrant color and humor with her imaginative illustrations.
"Numerous titles interpreting "Over in the Meadow" have been published, but trust the team of Jane and Manning to conjure up an impressive new vision in time for Halloween...Even though this is essentially a counting rhyme, the author elevates the reading and listening experience with interactive rhyming text that is rich with alliteration and strong action words."Kirkus starred  
 
LITTLE ELFIE ONE by Pamela Jane/Illustrated by Jane Manning HarperCollins Children's Books 978-0-06-220673-2 hardcover Ages 3-7 available as a NOOK Book
Way up in the North
    Where the reindeer run
A Big mommy elf
    Called her little elfie one.
"Santa comes tomorrow!"
    "Hooray!" cried the one.
And he leaped and he laughed
    Where the reindeer run.
 From carolers to snowmen to stars, everyone's favorite Christmas characters sing, shiver, and shine their way through the North Pole in this festive holiday twist on the beloved nursery rhyme, "Over in the Meadow." Author Pamela Jane and New York Times bestselling illustrator Jane Manning have created a delightful new Christmas classic for readers young and old.
In recent years, many picture books have used the structure, rhythm, and cadence of the old counting rhyme beginning “Over in the meadow,” but few writers have come up with a version that works as well as this cheerful text, or one that ties up so well in the end. Capturing the upbeat tone of Jane’s verse, Manning’s lovely watercolor illustrations are brimming with warmth, spontaneity, and joy. A magical visit to Santa’s home base on Christmas Eve."Booklist

Aren't these books tempting treats? I love the sense of whimsy and wonder shown in the illustrations that would make your little ones eyes light up! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment for Pamela Jane. We'd love to hear your favorite Halloween or Christmas memory, but just telling us you'd like to win will make us happy!  
Visit her here: http://www.memoircoaching.com
Thanks for sharing about your writing process, Pamela, and thanks for your generosity, too. I'll be back next week to announce the winner of the comment contest and to share a NEW author and giveaway for another 'spirited' book. ~Clara


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7. Announcing the Lucky Winner of AIM by Joyce Moyer Hostetter + A Great Review and more!

Dear Friends,

Thanks for the great response and wonderful comments for the final post in the Back to School Book Giveaway series. So, who is the lucky winner of AIM? This time, the winner is announced at the end of the post, but WAIT! First, read this great review from Kirkus and find more links where you can leave comments for a chance to win a copy of AIM--if you weren't the lucky winner today.

 AIM
Author: Joyce Moyer Hostetter
Kirkus Review Issue Date: August 15, 2016
Publisher: Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Category: Fiction

In this pre-World War II companion to the novels Blue (2006) and Comfort (2009), 14-year- old Junior Bledsoe fights personal battles at home as America's entry into the war grows imminent. Junior struggles with school and to control his anger at his alcoholic father, his insufferable grandfather, his neighbors, and himself. When his father dies after another night of drinking, Junior feels ever more desperate to understand himself and find his own aim in life. He finds relief from his troubles in escapes to the nearby woods and tinkering with cars. A fatherly neighbor provides some much-needed guidance, and a challenging teacher and troubled classmate help him find some direction. Hostetter creates a vivid sense of time and place in her early-1940s rural North Carolina setting and a fully realized, sympathetic character in Junior. She makes Junior choose how to handle the hard things that come his way, whether to be shaped negatively or positively by them. Over the course of the novel, a year passes after Junior's father dies, and the story satisfyingly concludes with him confident and looking forward to the future. An author's note explains the stories historical context. An absorbing, well-crafted coming-of-age story with finely detailed historical background. (bibliography, further reading) (Historical fiction. 9-12) Kirkus 
  
Joyce Moyer Hostetter will be sharing more about her work and giving away more books in the weeks to come on other blogs:

September 22 – Writing and Illustrating (Kathy Temean) - https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/
October 3 – Carol Baldwin’s Blog - http://carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com/
October 4 Joyce's Blog – The 3 R’s:  Reading, ‘Riting, and Research - http://joycemoyerhostetter.blogspot.com/

Don't forget to follow Joyce on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/joycemoyerhostetter
https://twitter.com/moyergirl

Check out her website www.joycemoyerhostetter.com for finding information about: 
  • Joyce
  • Her books
  • School visit and author events
  • Learning activities related to her books
  • Information related to the
    historical topics in her books. 

The WINNER of AIM, picked by Random.org, is: Bish Denham 
                   Congratulations, BISH!!!!
Bish, please send your mailing address and how you'd like your book personalized to me: claragillowclark(dot)gmail(dot)com

 So what's coming in the weeks ahead? More authors, more books, more giveaways! Next up is historical fiction for older readers--Adults--so get ready for that one next week! Then we'll get in the spirit of Halloween for some spooky treats! Back soon! ~Clara
 

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8. BACK TO SCHOOL BOOKS with AUTHOR JOYCE MOYER HOSTETTER + #GIVEAWAY

Dear Friends,

Thanks for all the great support for the Back To School Book Giveaway! I'm delighted to share  insights of another good friend, the talented Joyce Moyer Hostetter, who talks about school days in the context of her middle grade historical fiction.

Joyce has generously donated a copy of her new book, AIM, and will personalize it for the winner of the comment contest! All you have to do for a chance to win a copy of Joyce's new book, AIM, is to leave a comment below. The winner will be announced in one week.

AUTHOR JOYCE MOYER HOSTETTER
PLEASE WELCOME AUTHOR JOYCE MOYER HOSTETTER

Joyce Moyer Hostetter lives right where many of her characters do –in rural North Carolina. In fact she’s always on the lookout—hoping to bump into them. In the absence of a time machine that could take her to the 1940’s she immerses herself in research to discover what her characters’ world was like. 
Her book, BLUE won the International Reading Association Award, The NC Juvenile Literature Award, and Parent’s Choice Silver Honor.  It is used widely in North Carolina schools. AIM is a prequel to BLUE.  COMFORT is a sequel. HEALING WATER, set in Hawaii’s leprosy settlement is available via E-book.
www.joycemoyerhostetter.com
www.joycemoyerhostetter.blogspot.com (The 3 R’s:  Reading ‘Riting and Research)
https://www.facebook.com/joycemoyerhostetter
https://twitter.com/moyergirl
 

In my first book, Best Friends Forever, Rhoda Landis faces a classroom full of unfamiliar students. Her grandmother hands Rhoda’s birth certificate to the teacher while Rhoda takes in the shiny floors, the strange children, and the sound of the school bell. Everything is new and Rhoda feels weird and set apart.

Exchange the grandmother for mother and fifth grade for first and that memory becomes mine. Perhaps, at some level, it is every child’s memory of a first day at any school.

This leads me to a bit of wisdom I learned at my first writer’s conference. “The more personally you write,” said Editor Katie Funk Weibe, “the more universal it will be.” And what is more universal than the classroom? After all, school is a child’s occupation. In fact, it’s difficult to write a middle grade novel that doesn’t take place partially at school. I, however, have managed to do so twice. In both cases, my characters had extended illnesses.

However, when a character’s father dies, an excuse written by mom will not exempt him from a whole year of school. Such is the case in my forthcoming historical novel, AIM. Junior Bledsoe’s father dies unexpectedly, leaving Junior with extra responsibilities, a cantankerous grandfather, and a swirl of confusing emotions. One of the last things Pop tells Junior is to quit school and get a job. Junior argues but, after Pop’s death, his advice makes as much sense as anything else in Junior’s world. Momma, however, insists he must go on to high school. Junior, arriving with a busload of conflicted feelings, finds 9th grade to be more challenging than any previous year. There’s his teacher who is also his neighbor, the pretty girl who sits just ahead of him, Dudley Walker who snickers at him from the back of the room, and the announcement of war at a school assembly after Pearl Harbor is attacked.

That announcement is reminiscent of an event in my own life—that moment in 6th grade when I stood in line at a school water fountain and learned that JFK had been shot. At school, a child learns just how harsh the world really is. His home life may or may not be secure but come kindergarten, he will encounter new challenges—a difficult teacher, a jealous classmate, or a breaking bit of world news. Thank goodness our schools have libraries and wonderful media specialists who provide books for students in crisis. My friend, Kerry O’Malley Cerra has compiled this amazing resource for teachers and librarians— a list of more than 160 books that tackle tough topics.

Other books I’ve published include BLUE, (protagonist has polio/does not go to school) COMFORT, (protagonist goes to school with a disability) and HEALING WATER, (protagonist has leprosy/does not go to school).
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9. WHO WON THE COMMENT CONTEST FOR a JOE AND SPARKY BOOK by JAMIE MICHALAK?

Dear friends,

Thank you all for stopping by to read about Jamie's school days and influences that inspired her to become a writer of children's books. I'm pleased to announce that the winner is:

****CONGRATULATIONS TO. . . .  EVERY READER WHO LEFT A COMMENT!!! THAT'S RIGHT! JAMIE IS GENEROUSLY GIVING AN AUTOGRAPHED BOOK TO ALL OF YOU WHO STOPPED BY TO LEAVE A COMMENT ON HER GUEST POST! HOW AWESOME IS THAT?  

SO. . .THE WINNERS ARE: ROSEMARY BASHAM, CAROL BALDWIN, JUDIE OFFERDAHL, JANET MARTIN, and HOPE LIM! 

Please e-mail Jamie:  jamiemichalak(AT)yahoo(DOT)com with your name and address, which of the three Joe and Sparky books you'd like her to personalize--for yourself, a special child, or a classroom. 

THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING LOYAL READERS! You're the best!!!
VISIT JAMIE'S WEBSITE HERE: www.jamiemichalak.com


You have your choice of one book in the Joe and Sparky series:

 


DON'T FORGET TO VISIT JAMIE'S WEBSITE:


 www.jamiemichalak.com
http://thelittlecrookedcottage.blogspot.com

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPER GENEROUS GIFT, JAMIE! YOU ARE A SUPERSTAR FRIEND!






OUR FINAL GUEST FOR THE BACK TO SCHOOL BOOK GIVEAWAY SERIES, IS JOYCE MOYER HOSTETTER, WHO WILL SHARE ABOUT HER NEW BOOK: AIM (MG historical fiction.) We'll be back in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!

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10. BACK TO SCHOOL BOOKS with AUTHOR JAMIE MICHALAK + GIVEAWAY

Dear friends,

In this post, my dear friend, the lovely Jamie Michalak, shares about her early school days and her inspirations for becoming a writer. Her early reader series (published by Candlewick Press) feature the fabulous and funny Joe and Sparky. I know you'll want the entire set for yourself, your classroom, and your favorite young readers, so be sure to read all about this dynamic duo below. But first this very important announcement:

The winner of the Comment Contest picked by Random.org for the Back to School Book by Kay Winters is:
                      ****JANET MARTIN****  CONGRATULATIONS, JANET!
(Janet, please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address, to whom you'd like your book personalized by KAY WINTERS, and which featured book you'd like to receive! Here's the list: Did You See What I Saw: Poems about School; My Teacher for President; The Bears Go to School; This School Year Will Be Special.

This week's featured guest, Author Jamie Michalak, is generously giving away one of her JOE and SPARKY titles--Winner's Choice--in the comment contest. All you have to do is leave a comment for JAMIE for a chance to win. But, we also hope you'll share our BACK TO SCHOOL blog series with your friends! THANK YOU!

AND NOW. . .here's the talented and lovely JAMIE MICHALAK. . .


The Start of a Story by Jamie Michalak

In elementary school, I was a true blue, through-and-through daydreamer. Unless I was in one of my favorite classes, Reading or Art, you’d find me staring out the window or doodling in the margins of my mimeographed math worksheets. Paying attention was not my strength.

“Your mind is like a feather in a windstorm,” my frustrated teacher would say.

At the start of every school year, I’d try my best to pay attention, filling the first few pages of freshly bought notebooks with neat, uniform letters. But as they days went on, the pages devolved into chicken scratch and drawings.

I wasn’t much different at home.

“Earth to Jamie . . .” my parents would say. “You have your head in the clouds again.”

I couldn’t help it. My imaginary world, full of wild adventures and dramatic characters, was so much more interesting than reality. I concocted fictional lives for my teachers and classmates. (My Phys Ed teacher was a spy, who used the gym’s parachute to skydive into enemy territory. Danielle, the girl with the Princess Leia buns, lived in a mansion with a robot butler. And my principal, Mrs. Tabb, secretly founded the Tab soda company.) But my stories never left my head.

Until one day, in fourth grade, a life-changing opportunity came across my desk. Literally. My teacher had handed out story starters. The best part? We could finish the story however we wanted. No rules. We would write just for FUN. Imagine that!

Now this assignment caught my attention. I couldn’t wait to finish the story, and the words flowed out of me. That year, I finished dozens of these story starters. Finally, the tales in my head had a place to go. Sometimes my teacher even asked me to read what I wrote in front of the class. Just me! I don’t remember if I dreamed of becoming an author back then, but this rare creative freedom sparked a lifelong love of writing.

Jamie's winning story starters!

It took me much longer to discover that my daydreaming was actually story-creating. I’ve also since learned that doodling helps one pay attention. (Yes! Validation!) I’m beyond thankful I can now daydream for a living. If you catch me staring out a window or if I seem a million miles away, I’m probably working on a book.

When I speak to children as a visiting author, I show them how to get what’s in their head onto paper. We have anything-goes brainstorms, and yes, even finish story starters. My early reader, Joe and Sparky Go to School, was conceived during a school visit.

So, thank you, Mrs. Slasinski, my fourth-grade teacher, for giving your students the freedom to follow their imaginations and write outside the lines!


PRAISE and HONORS FOR THE JOE AND SPARKY SERIES:

 



Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels: Junior Library Guild Selection, Kirkus Best Book of the Year,
Chicago Public Library Best Children’s Book of the Year
★ “Utterly charming!” —Kirkus (starred review)

 




Joe and Sparky, Superstars!: Bankstreet Best Book of the Year
★ “This little treasure is one that will get passed around.” —Kirkus (starred review)


















Joe and Sparky Go to School: Amazon Best Book of the Year, Cybils finalist, 1 of 52 Great Reads by the Library of Congress

“Perfect for the newly independent reader and makes a fine bridge from Amelia Bedelia to Ramona.” —The Horn Book (starred review)

"Michalak will have readers giggling over the silly exchanges and comedic misunderstandings that follow as Sparky and Joe attempt to fit in at school.” —Publishers Weekly


Coming August 2017!: Joe and Sparky, Party Animals!
Joe decides to throw a surprise party in honor of his pet worm, Wiggy—except that nobody has ever seen Wiggy. According to Joe, Wiggy leads a busy life. He sails ships, climbs mountains, and even plays in a band, the Worms. (They are even bigger than the Beetles!)
    Soon it’s party time, and all the animals in the zoo are there. But where is Wiggy?
    Young readers will revel alongside this hilarious duo in this story about being willing to take a leap of faith for a friends—especially if there’s a party involved.


Jamie Michalak is a former editor at Candlewick Press and the author of more than thirty children’s books, including the award-winning Joe and Sparky series of intermediate readers. She wrote Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels; Joe and Sparky, Superstars!; Joe and Sparky Go to School; and the forthcoming Joe and Sparky, Party Animals! She is also the author of many movie and TV show adaptations, such as the “Martha Speaks” PBS Kids! chapter book series. Jamie lives in Barrington, Rhode Island with her husband and two sons, who provide lots of inspiration for her stories. To learn more, visit www.jamiemichalak.com and http://thelittlecrookedcottage.blogspot.com.

THANK YOU, dear Readers, for stopping by. Don't forget to check out Jamie's website: www.jamiemichalak.com for more info about her school visits and her books! Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win one of her books. The winner will be announced next week.

The final author in the BACK TO SCHOOL series is another alumni of the blog and an award winning author of MG Historical fiction! My talented friend, JOYCE MOYER HOSTETTER, will share about her new book AIM published by Calkins Creek (Boyds Mills Press imprint) released this month. Joyce will share with us the middle of September. But don't worry, there will be many more guests and giveaways coming in the months ahead! Happy Reading! ~Clara









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11. BACK TO SCHOOL BOOKS with AUTHOR KAY WINTERS + GIVEAWAY

Dear Readers,

Our amazing guest, Author Kay Winters has a number of wonderful picture books with a school setting that you'll want for yourself, your classroom, and your favorite young readers, but first this very important announcement: The winner of a Franklin School Friends book by our friend, Claudia Mills is:
               ****JANA ESCHNER****  !!!!CONGRATULATIONS, JANA!!!!
(Jana, please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address, to whom you'd like your book personalized by Claudia, and which book in the Franklin School Friend series you'd like to receive! Here's the list: Kelsey Green, Reading Queen; Annika Riz, Math Whiz; Izzy Barr, Running Star; Simon Ellis, Spelling Bee Champ; and Cody Harmon, King of Pets.)

This week's featured guest, Author Kay Winters, is also generously giving away one of her titles--Winner's Choice--in the comment contest. All you have to do is leave a comment for Kay for a chance to win. But, we also hope you'll share our BACK TO SCHOOL blog series with your friends! THANK YOU!

NOW. . .here's the lovely KAY WINTERS. . .



Back to School. . .with Author Kay Winters

It’s time! It’s time… for school to start again.
A magical time of year for most young children, and I have to confess, it always was for me as a kid and a teacher as well. As a writer, one of my favorite topics is school
I loved school! And now as an author I love school visits.

My very first book that was published was Did You See What I Saw? Poems about School. It came out in 1996 and I am pleased to say…it’s still in print. The poetry book is stuffed with mentor poems which children can eagerly adapt and write their own. For example, Behind Closed Doors takes the idea of what happens when school is out.
Does…
                  The chalk talk?
                  The floor snore?
                  The computer tutor?

Children create their own version…not only using the classroom setting but imagining what happens to objects on the playground or at home, in their bedrooms or kitchens.That poem also lends itself to being a poetry troupe, with each child saying one line and performing it. Did You See What I Saw? Poems about School was a selection in the Scholastic book club.

My next school book was My Teacher for President, illustrated by Denise Brunkus, who also illustrated the Junie B Jones book. Junie B winds up in this book as well, and to my great surprise so do I! She drew me as the President. In this book, Oliver writes to a TV station to say he has learned at school about the President’s job and his teacher would be just right. With the current hub-bub over the election, teachers and parents will be talking even more than usual about the job of the person in the oval office. Anyone who is or has been a teacher can identify with…
My teacher goes to lots of meetings…
She’s always signing important papers…
She acts quickly in an emergency
She believes in peace.
In some schools, I have visited, they had a voting booth and students selected the teacher who would be a good president. In other schools, students picked a family member or friend and wrote about their favorite candidate. My Teacher for President, was also in the Scholastic Book Club.


My third book using school as the location is The Bears go to School. A bear came to our house! There I was setting the table for Sunday dinner, when I looked out the screen door and saw a big black bear stroll across the lawn heading for the neighbor’s blueberry patch. I began to wonder … what if he went to school?

In this picture book Pete and Gabby, two bear cubs, decide to visit that red building with all those yellow busses outside. After watching the custodian raise the flag, the bears placed their paws on their hearts, as their mother had taught them to do at the park where they lived. The bears sneak inside, visit the music room, the gym and the art room. My favorite page is where they go in the science room and free the animals from their cages. In the cafeteria, they create havoc and the fire alarm is sounded. Back to their park they go, til next time. This book was selected as a Teacher’s Choice by the International Reading Association.

My fourth book about school is This School Year will be THE BEST! Illustrated by Renee Andriani.
Children sit on the rug on the first day and share what they think. . .
                                            I hope I get the best seat on the bus!
                                            I’ll look really good in my school picture.
                                            We’ll have a chocolate fountain at lunch!

Many teachers use this book at the end of the year, as well as the beginning to ask, “What would make next year THE BEST?”

I have a 5th school book under contract from Penguin. My editor called and asked if I would write another school poetry book. I was delighted! The Principal Kissed a Pig is being illustrated by Patrice Barton. The publication date is yet unknown.

School has been a rich and interesting subject matter for me as a writer. During my frequent school visits, I see that although much has changed students still love…
being read to,
choosing their own books
and responding to literature through art, drama, science and math projects.

I think we authors should be cheerleaders for reading. And I hope whether you are an author, a mother, a father, a teacher, or a student
this School Year will be THE BEST!

Kay Winters was a classroom teacher, reading specialist and college instructor, as well as a language arts consultant for the American International Schools in Egypt, Nepal, India, Jordan, Greece, Israel and Italy before changing jobs to follow her dream and write for children. She specializes in picture books and chapter books, ages 3 to 12. She has appeared on CSpan Book TV and PBS.  Her twenty-two books have won numerous awards, and she has two books under contract. She is a frequent speaker at colleges, regional and national conferences for teachers, writers and librarians and loves doing school visits.
www.kaywinters.com 


THANK YOU, dear Readers, for stopping by. Don't forget to check out Kay's website: www.kaywinters.com  for more info about her school visits and picture book titles! Be sure to post a comment for Kay for a chance to win one of her books. The winner will be announced next week.

Our next BACK TO SCHOOL featured author is the fabulous Jamie Michalak who will be sharing with us about her humorous duo: JOE & SPARKY from her early reader series with Candlewick Press. (I love Joe & Sparky!)

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12. Back to School with Author Claudia Mills + Giveaway

Dear Friends,

Over the next month, I'll be sharing books by several of my good friends, authors you've met on my blog, but THIS time the books are about school life in different genres--picture books with Kay Winters; early readers with Jamie Michalak; historical fiction with Joye Moyer Hostetter; and first up is my dear friend and poetry buddy, Author Claudia Mills, who shares wonderful memories of her own school days and writing her own school series: "Franklin School Friends"

Each author is generously donating a book for the comment contest and since school is the theme, we'd love to have you share a school memory with us. Of course, we're delighted just to have you drop by to say hello! Please do! The welcome mat is out and the light is on!



Back to School By Claudia Mills

Nerdy confession: I have always loved school.

I loved school before I ever went to school, as I sat watching “Romper Room” on my family’s black-and-white TV. Once I finally had the chance to go there, I adored real school even more. I still remember my favorite chapter of Dick-and-Jane, the one where Sally gets closed up in the big umbrella: “Oh! Oh! Funny Sally!”

I literally crossed off the days of summer vacation till school would begin again on the Tuesday after Labor Day. My fanatically frugal mother allowed only one splurge throughout our entire childhood: she was willing to spend lavishly on school supplies. What joy to heap the shopping cart with binders, notebook paper, “reinforcements” for the notebook paper holes, a special pencil box that had a map of the world on the lid. An elementary school teacher herself, she knew how to make school – and schoolwork – fun for us. Major projects called for the ceremonial setting up of the card table in a corner of the living room. How happily my sister sat there assembling her elaborate report on Uruguay, as I wrote a three-act play about Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Paine.

So now – surprise, surprise – I specialize in writing school stories. What I love most about school as a setting for fiction – besides my undying passion for school itself – is that school is an environment that puts kids in contact with people who are different from them in various, intriguing ways. Boys who would choose only to associate with fellow boys are seated next to girls, and vice versa. Kids whose lives revolve around reading find out how much they have in common with kids who are wild about sports. Teachers provide an adult presence contrasting with that of parents. A wider world opens.

As I write my books, I do have to remember – well, try to remember – that many of my young readers are not as smitten with school as I am and don’t faint with joy at the thought of the next school project. And yet . . . and yet . . . oh, school projects are such fun to write about! I’ve borrowed shamelessly from my sons’ elementary school experiences to build stories around the “biography tea” (Being Teddy Roosevelt), the third-grade space sleepover (How Oliver Olson Changed the World), a Civil War diary assignment (The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish), an Oregon Trail journal assignment (The Trouble with Babies), and too many science fairs to mention.

My most recent series, “Franklin School Friends,” has let me luxuriate in the world of school over a series of five titles: Kelsey Green, Reading Queen; Annika Riz, Math Whiz; Izzy Barr, Running Star; Simon Ellis, Spelling Bee Champ; and Cody Harmon, King of Pets. (The break in the pattern of rhyming titles occurred when the series grew beyond the original three titles, in which Simon and Cody had already been given names that lacked rhyming potential.) I had the chance to write about a reading contest, PTA fundraising carnival, track-and-field day, spelling bee, and third grade pet show. Bliss!

I know it’s a bit weird to love school as much as I do. My own favorite character in the series is the Franklin School principal, Mr. Boone, whose chief character trait is his boundless enthusiasm for every single school activity. He promises to shave his big, bushy beard at the end of the reading contest, cheerfully enters the dunking tank a few dozen times at the school carnival, sprains his ankle bouncing on hoppy balls on field day, hosts a pie buffet for the spelling bee winners (featuring his famous honey pie – recipe included), and wears an elephant costume to school on pet show day. Finally, I have a character who unabashedly joins me in loving school deeply, fully, with all his whole heart. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, his enthusiasm for school, and mine, will prove contagious to young readers as well.

Honors and Awards for Franklin School Friends

Cody Harmon, King of Pets, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG 2016). Junior Library Guild Selection; starred review in Kirkus, Amazon Pick of the Month June 2016.
Simon Ellis, Spelling Bee Champ, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG 2015). Junior Library Guild Selection.
Izzy Barr, Running, Star, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG 2015). Junior Library Guild selection.
Annika Riz, Math Whiz, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG, 2014). Junior Library Guild selection; Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Books of the Year
Kelsey Green, Reading Queen, illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG 2013). Junior Library Guild selection, Cybil Award finalist for early chapter books, (Washington D.C. ) Capitol Choice book, nominated for the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award, the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award, the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award, and the Land of Enchantment (New Mexico) Book Award; translated into Korean and Chinese.



Claudia Mills Author | Home
www.claudiamillsauthor.com
Claudia Mills. Welcome to my website! I'm always glad to have a chance to let my readers get to know me a little bit better. I hope you'll introduce yourselves to me ...
http://claudiamillsanhouraday.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/claudiamillsauthor



Claudia Mills holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University and an M.L.S. degree (with a concentration in children’s literature) from the University of Maryland and is Associate Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The author of almost 60 books for young readers, most recently Write This Down (Farrar) and The Trouble with Babies (Knopf), she has also published scholarly articles on Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Maud Hart Lovelace, Betty MacDonald, Rosamond du Jardin, and Eleanor Estes. Her recent edited collection, Ethics and Children’s Literature (2014, Ashgate), won the Best Edited Book Award from the Children’s Literature Association. Her children’s books have been named Notable Books of the Year by the American Library Association and Best Books of the Year by the Bank Street College of Education, translated into half a dozen languages, and nominated for scores of state readers’ choice awards. A mother of two grown sons, and now “Mimsie” to two young granddaughters, she has written all her books between 5 and 7 in the morning, while drinking Swiss Miss hot chocolate.

Didn't Claudia's "Back to School" memories warm your heart and call to mind a few good memories of your own? We hope you had some happy times!

Claudia is donating a copy of one of her titles in the "Franklin School Friends" series. All you have to do for a chance to win a personalized book is to leave a comment! The winner gets to pick which title in the series he or she would like. I'll be back next week to announce the lucky winner!

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13. Writing From the Inside Out. . . ANNOUNCING THE LUCKY WINNER of EXPLORE FORCES and MOTION

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for the great turn out this past week! Random.org picked a LUCKY WINNER of EXPLORE FORCES AND MOTION. 

                                          *****CONGRATULATIONS*****

                                                      SHEILA RENFRO

Sheila, Please e-mail me (claragillowclark(@)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and to whom you'd like your book personalized. Your book will be shipped asap. Thank you!


Forces and Motion (Nomad Press, June 14, 2016
Everything moves! Kids run around the
playground, cars drive on the road, and balls fly through the air. What causes all this motion? Physics! Forces and motion rule the way everything moves through space.

Using a theme familiar to everyone—motion—this book captures the imagination and encourages young readers to push, pull, twist turn, and spin their way to learning about forces and motion. 25 GREAT PROJECTS for Kids!!!





MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Jennifer Swanson and Miranda Paul will team up again in 2017 to present their workshop The Nuts and Bolts of Science Writing. March 30-April 03 for the HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION www.highlightsfoundation.org  (Scholarships available!)




Learn more about Jennifer and her fabulous books by checking out these links:

Author Jennifer Swanson
Website: http://jenniferswansonbooks.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Swanson-Books-254158324961/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenSwanBooks

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing about your writing journey and for donating your new book for the comment contest!



It's a busy summer with lots of book events for me, so I won't be back until August. You won't want to miss the Back-to-School AuthorFest with Book giveaways!

Enjoy your summer! ~Clara 



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14. Writing From the Inside Out. . . BOOK BIRTHDAY with JENNIFER SWANSON + GIVEAWAY

Dear Friends,

Please welcome the prolific, award winning author and my very dear friend, Jennifer Swanson! (Details for the book giveaway are at the end of the post!)

AUTHOR JENNIFER SWANSON
Author Bio: Science Rocks! And so do Jennifer Swanson’s books. She is the award winning author of over 25 nonfiction books for children. Her books in the "How Things Work” series by The Child’s World were named to the 2012 Booklist’s Top 10 Books for Youth. Top reviews include a starred review in Booklist, and recommended reviews from School Librarians Workshop, Library Media Connection, the NSTA and a book in a series that was a JLG Selection. Jennifer's passion for science resonates in in all her books but especially, BRAIN GAMES (NGKids) and SUPER GEAR: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up (Charlesbridge).
You can visit Jennifer at her website: www.JenniferSwansonBooks.com.

Writing from the Inside Out. . .  Jennifer Swanson shares

When Clara asked me to write this blog post, I was SO thrilled. I have known her for many years and look upon Clara as a dear friend and mentor. She has read pretty much every manuscript I have ever written!

As I thought about my post and how to incorporate her theme, Writing from the Inside Out, with my writing journey, the first words that came to me were “Follow Your Path”. These words are very important to me, because I don’t feel as if I’ve had a “normal” path to publication. Or, perhaps, I should say it’s just not been a straight and smooth one.

I started my career thinking that I wanted to write a fiction picture book. It was an interesting choice for me, since I rarely read picture books, except to my children when they were small. You see, the “voice in my head”, (the writerly kind) is about 9 years old. That made writing picture books difficult for me. After a many unsuccessful attempts at writing fiction picture books, I kind of gave up. I had no idea where to turn.

Thankfully, I met Clara and she encouraged me to write older books. I began with an early chapter book series about two dogs who were pet detectives. It was called Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting. My book was published by a small, cooperative press, and won several awards, including a Mom’s Choice Award and The Dove Foundation Seal. I did two more books in the series, and yet, I wanted more.

It was at my second SCBWI conference where my writing life took a fateful turn. I met the late, great Elaine Landau. During the critique for my current WIP (a fiction picture book) she asked me, “Do you do anything else?” That is not exactly something you want to hear from your critique. . . and yet my response changed my life. I told her that I had just earned my master’s degree in K-8 science education and gotten a job as a middle school science instructor. Her response, “Why don’t you write science books for kids?” It made sense. After all, I was that kid who had started a science club in her garage at the age of 7.

And yet, I was shocked. I’d never before considered writing science books for kids. Well, why not? Elaine spent some of her valuable time teaching me how to create a work-for-hire package and send it out. So I did. Two months later, out of the blue, I got a call from an editor at Capstone Press offering me a two-book deal to write books about bugs. The next month I received a 5-book deal from a book packager. I was off! That was in 2010.

Since then, I have written over 25+ nonfiction books for kids. Many of them are about science, but I have also written a few history books, fiction picture e-books, fairytale e-books, standardized test questions and magazine articles.

What happened to my fiction? I still write it. I have finally decided to write “my age” and have completed three middle grade novels. None are published. Yet. But I am working hard on them. In between, there have been LOTS of rejections. There have been LOTS of joys. There have been some setbacks and frustrations. But my motto is NEVER GIVE UP.

So how do you find your path?
Allow yourself to think outside the box. Consider writing about things you loved as a kid.
Re-imagine yourself. Listen to that “voice inside your head.” Write all you can, wherever you can. Lose yourself in words.

If you hit a roadblock,
go through it
around it
over it
under it
but whatever you do, DON’T let it stop you.

Follow your path, wherever it leads. You just may surprise yourself.

                                               ***********************

BOOK BIRTHDAY for SUPER GEAR

REVIEW -- School Library Journal
Super Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up. Charlesbridge. June 7, 2016. Gr 6-9–This title provides a fascinating insight into the developing world of nanotechnology applications in sports. The opening chapter outlines concepts of molecular bonding, including an illustration of the crystalline structure of ice. The text then segues into a lucid explanation of the very different forces at work in extremely small carbon nanoparticles. Subsequent chapters examine changes wrought by nanotechnology in particular sports: football helmets that absorb more energy and could protect against concussion, shoes and track surfaces meant to improve running speed and reduce injury, golf clubs and tennis racquets that are stronger and lighter, and swimsuits designed in conjunction with NASA intended to reduce drag. The sports connections are tied to standout athletes, including swimmers Alia Atkinson and Michael Phelps, golfers Michelle Wie and Phil Mickelson, speed skater Shani Davis, and tennis champion Serena Williams. Sidebars and simple drawings illustrate important concepts in physical science, especially lift, turbulence, and drag. One “Super Fact” sidebar shows how a single-walled carbon nanotube is narrower than a human hair in the same proportion as the hair is to a typical house. A hitch is that the science is so new that some of the technology is unproven. A sidebar on Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt concludes that the effect of his nanotech shoes on his speed is unknown. VERDICT A highly engaging introduction to an exciting aspect of cutting-edge, real-world science for STEM collections.–Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA

SUPER GEAR chosen as 1 of 12 books recommended in the International Literacy Assn's Jump-Start That Summer Reading List
Review by ILA: SUPER GEAR is reader-friendly introduction to nanotechnology breaks down the science and describes the processes of nanomanufacturing in a clear and understandable way. Packed with photographs, diagrams, and text boxes, this book will appeal to athletes and sports enthusiasts—and the curious. 

Forces and Motion (Nomad Press, June 14, 2016) 


Everything moves! Kids run around the
playground, cars drive on the road, and balls fly through the air. What causes all this motion? Physics! Forces and motion rule the way everything moves through space.

Using a theme familiar to everyone—motion—this book captures the imagination and encourages young readers to push, pull, twist turn, and spin their way to learning about forces and motion. 




 
BRAIN GAMES is a 2016 International Literacy Association (ILA) Children's Choice selection!

For those of you that don't know about this, here is what it means:
"Each year 12,500 school children ages 5–12 from different regions of the United States read newly published children’s and young adults’ trade books and vote for the ones they like best. These Children’s Choices, selected from more than 900 titles, can be counted on as books children really enjoy reading."




QUICK: Name the most powerful and complex supercomputer ever built. Give up? Here’s a hint: It’s housed in your head and it’s the one thing that makes you YOU. Your brain is mission control for the rest of your body and steers you through life. Not bad for something the size of a softball that looks like a wrinkled grey sponge!

In this fascinating, interactive book -- a companion to the National Geographic Channel hit show – kids explore the parts of the brain and how it all works, brainy news nuggets from a neuroscientist, plus fun facts and crazy challenges. Purchase a copy here: http://amzn.to/1U4SkcR

SUPER GEAR chosen at 1 of 12 books recommended in the International Literacy Assn's Jump-Start That Summer Reading List
Review by ILA "SUPER GEAR is reader-friendly introduction to nanotechnology breaks down the science and describes the processes of nanomanufacturing in a clear and understandable way. Packed with photographs, diagrams, and text boxes, this book will appeal to athletes and sports enthusiasts—and the curious."

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Jennifer Swanson and Miranda Paul will team up again in 2017 to present their workshop The Nuts and Bolts of Science Writing. March 30-April 03 for the HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION www.highlightsfoundation.org  (Scholarships available!)

Learn more about Jennifer and her fabulous books by checking out these links:

Website: http://jenniferswansonbooks.com/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Swanson-Books-254158324961/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenSwanBooks

Jennifer is generously giving away a copy of her newest title, Explore Forces and Motion, released on June 14th. It's a perfect pick for summer fun and includes 25 science projects for kids! All you have to do for a chance to win an autographed copy is leave a comment for Jennifer about science or her inspiring post. The winner will be chosen by random.org and announced on Saturday, June 11, 2016.

Thanks for stopping by! Good luck. . .



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15. Celebrating my 200th Post with a Gift for YOU



Dear Writers,

 In celebration of my 200th post, I'm offering a discount on my editing fees for YA and MG manuscripts.


From today until July 4th, my rate of $4 per page is slashed to $2.50 per page. All you have to do to lock in that rate until the end of the year is to send at least a 25 page installment of your book with payment before 7/4/16.

The price of $2.50 includes a full edit and an editorial letter outlining what’s working and what may need a closer look--plot, story arc, character development, conflict, sub-plots, and more. If you have questions or concerns, you're welcome to send those along as well.    

In most cases, an edit will take from a week to ten days for a completed draft, but you can also submit in installments and pay as you go. You're welcome to send by regular mail or submit electronically. I accept payment through PayPal or by personal check. 

Want to learn more? Simply e-mail with your questions or to find out how and where to submit: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com 

Special BONUS: The first two to sign up will get an additional discount of .25 per page on a completed manuscript

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16. ANNOUNCING THE LUCKY WINNERS OF GAZPACHO FOR NACHO!

Dear Readers,

Who are the lucky winners of GAZPACHO for NACHO? Is it you? It could be. 

                                          ***CONGRATULATIONS TO***  

WINNER #1:  Lynne Marie

WINNER #2:  Martin Segal

            Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and how you'd like your book personalized by Tracey. Please respond by 5/12/16 or a new winner will be chosen.  


THANK YOU, SENORA TRACEY KYLE for sharing insights and inspiration for GAZPACHO for NACHO and for generously donating TWO copies of your charming book! As Nacho would say……Olé! 

 Visit Tracey's website:  http://www.gazpachofornacho.com

 Order her book here: http://amzn.to/1VL6EsE
 
School Library Journal Review: K-Gr 3: This is the charming story of a picky eater who only wants one thing to eat - gazpacho. While most parents would be delighted if their children ate this Spanish vegetable-based soup, Nacho's mother desperately tries to offer him other dishes, including typical Spanish desserts, to no avail. In an attempt to get him to expand his culinary repertoire, his mother takes Nacho to the market; these illustrations will delight readers with large renditions of beautifully whimsical vegetables, such as vibrant green chiles and large plump tomates that will surely make an enticing and delicious soup. The text is integrated nicely on the spreads and easy to read. Though Latin inspired, this tale of a picky eater will resonate with many. It will make a fun read-aloud because of the rhyming text in addition to lending itself to interesting discussions about food, food avoidances, and trying new things. A recipe for gazpacho and a glossary of Spanish words with the language articles in parentheses are appended.—Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library

Thank you, dear readers, for stopping by to join the gazpacho party. We really enjoyed your fun and thoughtful comments. 

I'll be back next week with something totally different! Author posts and giveaways will continue through the year! Author Jennifer Swanson is up next in June. Take it from me, she's fabulous! 
                                             Happy CINCO DE MAYO!


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17. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Inspiration from Author Tracey Kyle + Picture Book Giveaway

Dear Friends,

How delighted I am to introduce my friend, Tracey Kyle! Tracey and I met last year at Highlights Foundation Summer Camp 2015 and we've stayed in touch ever since. Tracey shared her book, Gazpacho for Nacho, with me, and I fell in love with the warm colors and the zesty, rhyming text. As you can tell from her photo, Tracey has a warm heart and zesty personality. Her smile lights up everything around her! Thank you so much, Tracey, for being a guest on my blog, and thanks for being my friend.

Tracey has generously donated 2 copies of Gazpacho for Nacho for the comment contest! Please read to the bottom and leave a comment about Tracey's post for a chance to win.

Author Tracey Kyle

 Tracey Kyle grew up in New Jersey and spent much of her childhood reading and writing poems. She spends most of her time as "Señora Kyle," teaching Spanish to a lively group of 8th graders. Currently she lives in Virginia with her husband and two cats, and when she's not writing lesson plans or working on a new story, she loves to read, cook and practice yoga.





Writing from the Inside Out. . .   Senora Tracey Kyle shares about her writing journey.

I was living in Madrid in 2004 with a group of Spanish teachers, studying art at the Prado and reading Spanish plays in cafés at the beautiful plazas around the city. It was hot. The sun in Spain is strong and while the heat is dry, it’s still 100 degree heat—or higher. And unlike Americans, the Spanish aren’t obsessed with air conditioning. Businesses prop open their puertas and everyone sits outside people-watching. I craved a cool breeze.

I had lived in Madrid as a college student many years earlier and had fond memories of my dear Spanish madre making a cold, tomato-based soup for me called gazpacho. Gazpacho varies in the different regions of Spain but the basic recipe is a mix of tomates and fresh vegetables. It’s delicious. It’s cool. It was the perfect sopa to eat that summer in Madrid.

At the local supermercado, they sell gazpacho in cartons like orange juice, so I bought a container and ate a cup for breakfast each day. At lunch, I ate another bowl, and at dinner yet again I ordered more gazpacho. “You should just take a bath in gazpacho,” a fellow teacher told me. By the end of the summer, I was back home blasting the aire acondicionado, frequenting our air-conditioned restaurants and driving my air-conditioned car.  But I still wanted gazpacho.

The idea for Gazpacho for Nacho didn’t come to me right away. I enjoyed writing, and had published a few books for Spanish teachers. I knew it was a long and frustrating process, but I had spent my childhood writing poemas and stories. While the idea of creating a children’s book was always there, it took a back-seat to my teaching responsibilities and my family. I realize now that I wasn’t ready.

“Gazpacho for breakfast, gazpacho for lunch,
gazpacho for dinner, for snacks and for brunch.”

These lines came to me in the middle of the night. I wrote them down in the notebook I’d been using to keep track of ideas as they occurred to me. That weekend I wrote the first of many drafts of Gazpacho for Nacho. It combined my love of Spain, the Spanish language and food. I spent the summer writing and rewriting. I joined the SCBWI, devoured books on “writing for children” and researched publishing companies. After six months, I submitted the story for publication to ten editors. By spring, I had received two rejections and hadn’t heard from the others. I told myself that I obviously wasn’t meant to be a writer and went back to planning lessons for my students, who at this point were the recipients of every creative idea I had. I was happy teaching, but the profesora in me was determined to teach kids about this yummy, cold sopa!

It was my husband who pushed me to dig out the story. A heavy snow fell that winter and we were out of school for a week. “You need to take out that manuscript,” he ordered, “and start writing again.” For eight hours a day, I worked on the story and researched editors who were interested in food, travel or multicultural picture books. Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish was one of those editors. Her letter arrived that spring, saying that she thought it would make a “cute story.” Have you sold it yet? she asked. It took two years of revisions and the process was slow, but Gazpacho for Nacho was finally published with Amazon Children’s Publishing (who eventually bought Marshall Cavendish) in 2014.

For a very long time, when people asked me what I did for a living, I said I was a middle-school teacher. “And I write when I have time,” I would add, as if the hours spent thinking about my story didn’t count, or the months spent writing and revising didn’t take up too much of my time. As I started going to conferences and attending writing workshops, I realized that I was a writer long before I was published. 

As Nacho would say……Olé! 
School Library Journal Review: K-Gr 3: This is the charming story of a picky eater who only wants one thing to eat - gazpacho. While most parents would be delighted if their children ate this Spanish vegetable-based soup, Nacho's mother desperately tries to offer him other dishes, including typical Spanish desserts, to no avail. In an attempt to get him to expand his culinary repertoire, his mother takes Nacho to the market; these illustrations will delight readers with large renditions of beautifully whimsical vegetables, such as vibrant green chiles and large plump tomates that will surely make an enticing and delicious soup. The text is integrated nicely on the spreads and easy to read. Though Latin inspired, this tale of a picky eater will resonate with many. It will make a fun read-aloud because of the rhyming text in addition to lending itself to interesting discussions about food, food avoidances, and trying new things. A recipe for gazpacho and a glossary of Spanish words with the language articles in parentheses are appended.Maricela Leon-Barrera, San Francisco Public Library
 
Interior spread of artwork
 
Don't you agree that Gazpacho for Nacho is a feast for the senses? What a treat for youngsters of all ages! And all you have to do for a chance to win an autographed copy of Tracey's book, Gazpacho for Nacho, is leave a comment about her post. Want to increase your odds? Tweet the post for an additional chance to win. Join my blog. Share on FB. Easy, right? The winner will be announced a week from today on cinco de mayo!
 
Author Tracey Kyle

Learn more about Tracey here:
    http://www.gazpachofornacho.com



Thanks, dear readers, from Tracey and me, for stopping by! As Nacho would say……Olé


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18. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Announcing the WINNER of EMPTY PLACES

Dear Readers,

Thanks so much for stopping by to celebrate the Book Birthday for Kathy Cannon Wiechman and her new book, EMPTY PLACES! I'm thrilled to announce that I won a copy of EMPTY PLACES from Carol Balwdin's Blog: www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com  Carol features author interviews, book reviews, and holds giveaways, so it's a great blog for readers and writers to follow. Thanks, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, for sharing insights into the craft of writing historical fiction and for your wonderful books!

AND NOW. . . The Book Birthday WINNER, chosen by random.org, is: Marileta Robinson

         CONGRATULATIONS, MARILETA!!!! 
(Please send your mailing address, your choice of either EMPTY PLACES or LIKE A RIVER--read below for reviews of the two books)


Gr 4-8-This is another fine work of historical fiction by the author of Like a River: A Civil War Novel (Calkins Creek, 2015). Set in Kentucky during the Great Depression, this book is written from the viewpoint of 13-year-old Adabel. With their mother gone, Adabel and her siblings must deal with an alcoholic father who works in the coal mines. She struggles to remember her younger days with her mother and yearns to fill in the empty places in her memory. In this emotional read, Adabel searches to uncover her past and what happened to her mother, discovering some deep secrets along the way. Adabel worries about her brother Pick, who leaves the family after a physical altercation with their father. Adabel also has concerns about her older sister Raynelle's plans to marry. Dramatic moments, such as when Adabel's younger sister Blissie reaches into a fire to retrieve a treasured doll, will have readers on the edge of their seats. Written in dialect appropriate to the time period and geographical region, the story is told through short chapters with believable dialogue and unforgettable characters. Closing sections with author notes accompanied by historical photos and a bibliography provide interesting background information. VERDICT Wiechman offers a moving look at life during the Depression, family relationships, and coal mining. School Library Journal March 2016


LIKE A RIVER: A Civil War Novel
Author: Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Publisher:Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills
Kirkus *Starred* Review: The stories of three teens intersect in the later years of the Civil War in this debut novel. Fifteen-year-old Leander Jordan runs off to war from Ohio to prove he's a man. "Working in the foundry wasn't something to admire, not like being a soldier in uniform, a soldier who'd risk his life facing enemy guns. Pa had to see he was doing a manly thing." But he lands in a Southern hospital, where he befriends Paul Settles, another young Union soldier, who tends to his wounds. When they're separated, Paul ends up in hellish Andersonville Prison, where smallpox, scurvy and hunger plague the prisoners. There, Paul's friendship with Given McGlade, a fellow prisoner and Leander's neighbor from back home, helps keep them both alive. Though the prose is a bit florid early on, the stories are effectively related in twinned third-person narrative, and Wiechman's abundant research is unobtrusively folded into the tale. An excellent author's note provides further information about the times. Though the horrors of Andersonville and various Civil War-era events such as the Battle of Atlanta, Lincoln's assassination and the explosion of the steamboat Sultana provide wartime context, it's the secrets woven into the well-paced tale that will pull readers eagerly to the tearful conclusion. A superb Civil War tale of friendship, loyalty and what it means to be a man. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Thank you, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, for sharing your writing wisdom with all of us. 

Author Kathy Cannon Wiechman

Learn more about Kathy and her books by visiting her website: http://kathycannonwiechman.com

Next up is a picture book author with a real tasty treat you're sure to love! Thanks again, dear readers, for joining the celebration of books!!!


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19. Writing from the Inside Out . . . Award winning Author/Illustrator SUZANNE BLOOM shares

Dear Friends,

Please welcome Award winning author/illustrator, SUZANNE BLOOM! It's been years now since we shared a pan of warm cinnamon rolls on a snowy evening, but Suzanne is always a Splendid Friend Indeed. I'm sure you'll agree! (See details for the giveaway of Suzanne's new book at the end of the post!)

Author/Illustrator SUZANNE BLOOM

AUTHOR SUZANNE BLOOM shares:
 
Though I grew up in Queens NY, my first five formative years were spent in Portland, Oregon. That’s why I retained an “R “ and love rainy days. Living in upstate NY allows a continued appreciation for precipitation. As an antique, I’m mid-century modern. If I were yogurt I’d be traditional/plain.  
My first published piece, in a glossy magazine for teachers, was a third grade poem -- "Blue is My Favorite Color".  Prescient? I guess.
Parents and teachers encouraged my artistic endeavors, except for Jack Tworkov, abstract expressionist and painting teacher at Cooper Union. He urged breaking away from the figurative. Can’t quite do it. 
The idea of writing and illustrating picture books was expressed in a Jr. High autobiography. It came to fruition a quarter of a century later. Creating illustrations that enhance a story puts art into the hands of children. It’s both a portfolio and a passport to a bigger world.  

When I’m writing, it feels like drawing is the easy part and when I’m drawing…well, you know. But once I’ve doodled through the first few lame attempts, something sticks. A character takes shape and then brings a friend.Though the story is far from resolved, I have been reminded that this is what I do. This is how I wish to spend my time and energy. I believe I can do this again.


The perks of this vocation include observing people, eavesdropping, or as I like to say “over listening”, inventing lives from very few details, elevating the everyday with some attitude and flow. Not to mention visiting behind the scenes at the Jacksonville Zoo to draw anteaters. It also includes honoring the events and people who have inspired the stories.

You may be familiar with Goose and Bear who are best known for smoothing out the bumps that pop up in a friendship.  But did you know that A Splendid Friend, Indeed was inspired by my dad, who is the master of the rhetorical question?“What are you doing? Are you reading?” Yep, word for word. That was the start of a story that has grown into a series of seven books, so far.
Auditions for those two characters required many sketches of many mismatched pairs of animals. In fact, before illustrating begins, I must draw my cast of characters in a variety of poses so I know who they are. Body language and facial expressions are key to each character’s feelings. Pre-readers understand; as a kindergartener told his teacher, “I’m feeling like the Bear today”. The bushy tail on Little Fox doubles as a her emotional barometer. It’s easier to make a flamingo look frazzled than a turtle.

I’m always on the lookout for models -- in the grocery store, at the airport, during school visits. A quick sketch for reference is very helpful. I was trying to discreetly sketch teenagers goofing around on the subway and one commanded his buddies, “Sit down, man. She’s trying to draw us.” It was cool. I got their approval. So many times, revisiting a sketch takes me right back to the scene.

From one story to the next, the process changes. Ideas may first appear as a sketch, character, or some words.  But I do try to have the story settled before starting the art. And I try to work out the design decisions before finalizing the drawings. In the forthcoming A Number Slumber (BMP fall 2016) the tiger spread started out as something entirely different. 

When I draw, I listen to music like Buddha Lounge or The Music Man but when writing, I prefer silence.  

Even a book of 100 words requires revisions because every word carries its own weight. Whooshy and woozy, occasionally, chickadee and bamboozled are choice words. As the boss of the book, I get to make the choices. Which is more fun to say? Tricked  or bamboozled?  Robin or chickadee? Read aloud. Savor.


AWARDS
A Splendid Friend, Indeed has a life of its own. It received an inaugural Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor Award and was shortlisted for The UKLA award.  PA One Book for Every Young Child distributed it to pre-schools and libraries across Pennsylvania and several years later they did the same with The Bus For Us. Several books have appeared on the Bank Street College Best Books list.  There have been a number of starred reviews. But to know that a book is so loved that a dad has to purchase a new copy for his second daughter is a most appreciated seal of approval.   


Reviews of THE NEW BOOK - Bear Can Dance!

What Bear wants is to fly. What Bear does is dance. “It’s like flying, but with your feet on the ground. Mostly.” For the past six books Bear has been put upon and bothered.  It was time to let Bear discover some hidden talents. Goose and Little Fox try to help, but Bear comes up with a personal solution.


Bear Can Dance!
Suzanne Bloom. Boyds Mills, $16.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62979-442-6
Bear, Goose, and Fox’s seventh outing sees Bear attempting
to fly. All he wants is to “swoop and glide and feel the wind
in [his] fur,” but even after coaching from
Fox (who outfits Bear with a cape and goggles),
flight remains out of reach for the
lumbering polar bear. With music pouring
out of Bear’s portable turntable, the friends
realize that dancing is “like flying, but
with your feet on the ground. Mostly.”
Bloom’s soft pastel artwork handily captures both the
warmth of this three-way friendship and the wind in Bear’s
fur—while he cuts a rug. Ages 2–6. (Oct.) ~Publishers Weekly, Sept 2015

A review by Sue Heavenrich of Bear Can Dance! is posted Oct. 9, 2015 at Sally's Bookshelf:
http://sallysbookshelf.blogspot.com/2015/10/bear-can-dance.html

Bear Can Dance!

by Suzanne Bloom
40 pages; ages 3-7
Boyds Mills Press

theme: friendship, talents

I love Bear and Goose - they are "splendid friends indeed"... and this book includes their best buddy, Fox...What I like LOVE about this book: 
I love the way Suzanne Bloom can tell a story using a combination of dialog-only text and wondrous illustrations.
I love the creative ways Fox and Goose try to get Bear to fly. 
I love that Bear finds a way to fly with feet on the ground. 
And I love the endpapers where Goose and Fox are dancing the (what else?) Foxtrot.... ~Sue Heavenrich



Beyond the Book:
If you were going to teach Bear how to fly, what would you do? What does it take to fly? Can you get that whooshy feeling doing other things? When you're swinging, or sledding down a hill, do you feel like you're flying?

What animals fly? Birds fly, but there are other animals that fly about, or glide. Think about mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, and insects. How do they flit/ fly/soar/glide through the air?



What is that funny suitcase-looking thing that Bear is playing music on? If you have one, listen to a recording. If not, see where you can find one: a museum? A thrift shop? Take a close look. How do they work?…






 
SCHOOL VISITS

I learn a lot when I visit schools.  

During a writing exercise a fourth grade boy told me that he couldn’t write the assignment, about his family, because his dad was in jail and they lived with his grandma, and it would make him too sad and he might cry. He and his writing buddy picked another topic and I became their scribe. Kids think faster than they write, so when i read it back to them, their eyes widened as they exclaimed, “WE wrote that?”  It was deep.
  
I chose a skinny little kid in the front row to help me read the bi-lingual version of A Splendid Friend, Indeed.  The gym was hushed as he read very quietly. Afterward one teacher said she was impressed because he was always in trouble and another teacher said she’d never heard him read before and didn’t know he could read Spanish.  

A thank you note from a 2nd grader a student wrote, “You taught us to bleeve in ourselves."
A Texas 3rd grader stood up during question time and announced, “Ma’am, You were born to draw.”  

Indeed.
Thank you, dear Suzanne, for such wonderful insights about your writing and illustrating process. AND THANK YOU for donating an autographed copy of BEAR CAN DANCE! to one lucky reader who stops by to leave a comment for us. Dear reader, We'd love to hear about what gives you that wonderful whooshy feeling!

Learn more about SUZANNE BLOOM:
FACEBOOK: Suzanne Bloom Author
Google Suzanne Bloom YouTube videos
 
The winner of BEAR CAN DANCE! will be announced on Tuesday, February 16th. You'll also learn about Suzanne's newest title, A Number Slumber, coming in Fall of 2016 and get a sneak preview of her illustrations. How exciting is that? 


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20. Lucky Winner of BEAR CAN DANCE + Inside peek of A NUMBER SLUMBER

Dear Friends,

It's a cold, blustery day, but things will warm up fast if we all get up and dance with Bear and cheer for the lucky winner of BEAR CAN DANCE:




      ***CONGRATULATIONS***
              DAVE BEAUDRY

Please E-mail me: claragillowclark(dot)gmail(dot)com
with your mailing address!

(Preview of A NUMBER SLUMBER at end of post!)








School Librarian Summer 2013 *Starred Review
When Bear and Goose open a suitcase of toys, little Fox arrives and wants to play. Initially Bear warmly welcomes the newcomer, but quickly starts grumbling when Bear becomes the one to be left out. Soon it's up to Goose to solve the situation.
A dilemma faced by most young children (and many adults!) is deftly resolved by Goose's good will. A wonderful scene on the last page finds Goose and Fox perched on Bear's lap while Goose reads aloud and Fox snoozes contentedly.
The bold simple text in this exceptional book
tells the story of complex emotions in only 100 words.
The vibrant blue, green and turquoise background provides a striking backdrop for the drama. Bear's size and beautifully textured polar coat cannot protect him from the roller-coaster of his own emotions. Little Fox, shy and sly by turns attempts to manipulate the situation while Goose's expressive eyes reflect his conflicting allegiances and anxiety.
This powerful story is a marvelous sequel to A Splendid Friend Indeed and will be remembered for many years. An ideal book to read aloud to children of 3+,
this would be an excellent trigger for classroom discussions and candle times. ~Rosemary Woodman
www.alannabooks.com. Anna McQuinn, of Alanna Books, has published A Splendid Friend, Indeed and What About Bear? in the UK. Goose & Bear have been translated into nine other languages.

Enjoy this preview of A NUMBER SLUMBER!!!
In this book, beloved author-illustrator Suzanne Bloom asks readers how they prepare for bed—from putting on jammies to asking for one more hug—then counts down to bedtime from ten terribly tired tigers to one really weary wombat. Each animal demonstrates a different bedtime ritual—skunks somersault into bunks and elephants curl up with their trunks—adding original and inventive rhymes and a clever counting-backward structure to the bedtime book genre. The lyrical, rhyming text combines with dreamy, colorful artwork to provide a perfect way for children to wind down from an active day in a book sure to become a new bedtime classic. 
Here is a nearly finished spread from the upcoming, A Number Slumber. (Boyds Mills Press, fall 2016)
  Looks like another winning story, Suzanne! Congratulations on your forthcoming book, A NUMBER SLUMBER. And thanks so much for sharing your time and expertise with us!


FACEBOOK: Suzanne Bloom Author
Google Suzanne Bloom YouTube videos
Next up is Author Trinka Noble. She'll be sharing an inside look at her process of turning legends into pictures books for children. Plus, she's offering an autographed book for one lucky reader who leaves a comment! 
THANKS, everyone, for joining the dance with BEAR and Suzanne Bloom! See you soon. . .

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21. Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Trinka Hakes Noble shares about Legends

Dear Friends,

Many years ago, Trinka Hakes Noble and I met at a conference--maybe it was The Hodge Podge Book Conference or it might have been Keystone Reading, but wherever or whenever we met doesn't matter. We were instantly friends. I'm so pleased to share with you my dear friend, Trinka Noble, who shares with you about turning legends into picture books for children. She's also generously giving away two of her picture books for the comment contest. See more about that and Trinka's amazing bio at the end of the post!

 A Legend: Writing the Unwritten by Trinka Hakes Noble

When Sleeping Bear Press, renowned for publishing legends, asked me to write the legend of Michigan, I eagerly accepted. At the time, I was visiting their offices in Ann Arbor, Michigan; but once I was driving back home to New Jersey through the beautiful mountains of Pennsylvania, I was struck by this thought: How does one write something that was never intended to be written, ever, but only spoken? How does one write the unwritten? 


A legend, passed down through eons of time, generation after generation, was told and retold. Furthermore, as far as I knew, there wasn’t a legend of Michigan! I was born and raised in Michigan. My family roots run deep, way back to when Michigan was a wilderness territory, and my Native American roots go back even further. So, why wasn’t I told this legend when I was a kid?

Needless to say, it was a long, fretful drive across I-80. And yet, by the time I reached the Delaware Water Gap, I was determined to find a way to write the unwritten!

I’d written numerous picture books, which often have a read-out-loud quality, so I knew how to start. But a legend seemed to need something more. I’d do historical research, of course, but a legend needed something beyond history, something venerable, something timeless, something for the ages. And so I turned to the masters. I read out loud, and at times actually recited, The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and found what was needed--a cadence. Picture books have a rhythm, but a cadence is stronger and more pronounced, like the beat of a tribal drum. The strong beat of a tribal drum, which is believed to be the heartbeat of the earth, spoke to my Native American ancestry and to what I wanted to write for The Legend of Michigan. This was the breakthrough I needed to find a way to write what is traditionally spoken and not written. So I tuned my writing ear to the beat of a tribal drum, the heartbeat of the earth.

                Interior Illustration from The Legend of Michigan
                                                                                                                                                         
If I were going to use something as ancient as the beat of a drum, then I would have to go back to a time and space before the legend could appear. A legend often tells how and why something came to be. I would have to reach far back in time before the story of the legend started, and set the stage so the legend could happen. In The Legend of Michigan I journeyed back to the last Ice Age to find the story of how Michigan was created and came to be the unique shape of a mitten. 

And even though I was writing a legend, I was also, and most definitely, writing a story. I wanted the feeling of sitting around a campfire on a still evening, watching the wood smoke drift up into the starry night, listening to elders tell this long ago story, their voices softly rising and falling through eons of time. So I put myself in both places. I had to become the storyteller, the elder and the young listener all at the same time in order for the written page to captivate and transport the young reader back in time. This was another breakthrough that I needed in order to write a legend.

And yet, I still had to somehow connect the legend to the present, to ‘now’ so young readers could relate, so it would have some meaning, some connection to the modern world of today.

Lastly, a legend needed a mythical element, something beyond logic and reason, something that could only happen in the realm of timelessness. Only then could a legend come to life on the written page.

Somehow, all these things came together in the mysterious and unexplainable process we call the creative process. Through the creative process, I was able to write in picture book form a legend, a spoken story in the written word.

Interior Illustration from Legend of Michigan
Long long ago, the ancient peoples of the forest gathered around their warm bright fires and told the tale of a time long past, when the land of Michigane was covered with thick heavy ice. They called it the Long Night of the North Wind.

The Legend of Michigan -- Finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award, 2006



After writing The Legend of Michigan, illustrated by Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen, I went on to write three more legends for Sleeping Bear Press 

The Legend of the Cape May Diamond, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, came next. It begins in a time long past, when the Delaware River was called the Wehittck and flowed through an ancient land called Lenapehoking, the ancestral homeland of the Lenape people.

"Eye candy tome to dress up any coffee table, and serve as pirate's treasure for generations of beachcombers.  Ahoy!" - Philadelphia Magazine
Keystone to Reading Book Award List
Delaware Diamond State Award Nominee
 

Next came The Legend of the Jersey Devil, illustrated by Gerald Kelley.  It begins in a wild and mysterious place in New Jersey that has kept its ancient ways, called The Pine Barrens. Lurking in its black swamps and murky bogs are hidden secrets and evil stories that can only be told on the darkest of nights. 


"A delightfully spooky picture book rendering of the famed Jersey Devil legend.  Suspenseful, with captivating illustrations."  Kirkus Review, June 2013


The fourth legend, and my latest book, is The Legend of Sea Glass, illustrated by Doris Ettlinger. It begins long ago when people believed the world was flat. No one dared sail beyond the horizon, for surely you would fall off the edge of the earth and be devoured by sea monsters.
Summary: Long, long ago there was a time when mankind did not venture into the deep ocean waters. It was believed that the world was flat and to sail beyond the horizon meant falling off the edge of the earth. So even though they were drawn to and fascinated by the ocean, people feared it.

But as people lived their lives above the water, far beyond their view and in the ocean's deepest depths lived mysterious and magical sea creatures, half girl and half fish. These shy, gentle creatures were called mermaids and were much loved by the ocean. And when people finally overcame their fear and ventured out to sea, risking disaster and even death, it was the mermaids who came to their rescue. This imaginative legend explains the origin of sea glass, that treasured, collectible gift from the sea.

I learned a great deal from writing these four legends, and I believe they have helped me with my other writing as well. For me, this venture into an unfamiliar genre of writing the unwritten has helped me to stretch and grow as a writer and storyteller.  

Biography: Trinka Hakes Noble

Trinka Hakes Noble is the award-winning author of over thirty picture books including The Scarlet Stockings Spy (IRA Teachers’ Choice 2005), The Last Brother, The Legend of the Cape May Diamond, The Legend of Michigan and Apple Tree Christmas, which she wrote and illustrated. Other titles include The Orange Shoes (IRA Teachers’ Choice 2008), The Pennsylvania Reader, The New Jersey Reader, Little New Jersey, Little Pennsylvania and The People of Twelve Thousand Winters.   Ms. Noble also wrote the ever-popular Jimmy’s Boa series and Meanwhile Back at the Ranch, both featured on PBS’s Reading Rainbow. Her many awards include ALA Notable Children’s Book, Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice, IRA-CBC Children’s Choice, Learning: The Year’s Ten Best, plus several state reading awards and Junior Literary Guild selections.

Her latest titles are The Legend of the Jersey Devil, and Lizzie and the Last Day of School (March 2015).  Forth coming in 2016 is The Legend of Sea Glass and in 2017 The Ragamuffin Parade, part of the Tales of Young Americans series by Sleeping Bear Press.   

Ms. Noble has studied children’s book writing and illustrating in New York City at Parsons School of Design, the New School University, Caldecott medalist Uri Shulevitz’s Greenwich Village Workshop, and at New York University. She is on the board of The New Jersey Center for the Book and a member of the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. In 2002 she was awarded Outstanding Woman in Arts and Letters in the state of New Jersey for her lifetime work in children’s books, along with letters of commendation from the US Senate, the US House of Representatives and the US Congress. Ms. Noble currently lives in northern New Jersey.

Learn more about Trinka Hakes Noble on her Website: www.trinkahakesnoble.com.
Follow Trinka on FB: Trinka Hakes Noble, Author-Illustrator Or click on the FB symbol on her website homepage. Thanks!

Trinka has generously donated a copy of her featured book, The Legend of Michigan, and her newest title just released on February 15th, The Legend of Sea Glass.

                       ****** HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY, Trinka!******

For a chance to win one of these two titles, simply leave a comment for us and your name will be entered. We appreciate your comments, dear readers! If you have a moment to spare, please tweet using the handy icon below the post. The winners, picked by random.org, will be announced in one week!

Thank you so much, Trinka, for sharing your writing from the inside out and for your generous spirit!
 








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22. Writing from the Inside Out **ANNOUNCING TWO LUCKY WINNERS**

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for stopping by to leave a comment for the fabulous Trinka Hakes Noble! How wonderful to learn that so  many of you were inspired by her post and loved her books. It's exciting to have TWO autographed books to give away, generously donated by Trinka.

Our first winner of Trinka Hakes Noble's new book just released this month by Sleeping Bear Press and picked by Random.org is:  

          **********KATHY WIECHMAN********
                 *****Congratulations, Kathy*****
Kathy, Please e-mail me with your mailing address and for whom you'd like the book inscribed: claragillowclark(@)gmail(dot)com 


Summary: Long, long ago there was a time when mankind did not venture into the deep ocean waters. It was believed that the world was flat and to sail beyond the horizon meant falling off the edge of the earth. So even though they were drawn to and fascinated by the ocean, people feared it.

But as people lived their lives above the water, far beyond their view and in the ocean's deepest depths lived mysterious and magical sea creatures, half girl and half fish. These shy, gentle creatures were called mermaids and were much loved by the ocean. And when people finally overcame their fear and ventured out to sea, risking disaster and even death, it was the mermaids who came to their rescue. This imaginative legend explains the origin of sea glass, that treasured, collectible gift from the sea.

I learned a great deal from writing these four legends, and I believe they have helped me with my other writing as well. For me, this venture into an unfamiliar genre of writing the unwritten has helped me to stretch and grow as a writer and storyteller. ~Trinka Hakes Noble

Learn more about Trinka Hakes Noble on her Website: www.trinkahakesnoble.com.
Follow Trinka on FB: Trinka Hakes Noble, Author-Illustrator Or click on the FB symbol on her website homepage. Thanks!


The winner of Trinka's first book on legends published by Sleeping Bear Press is:

         **********ROBYN CAMPBELL**********
                *****Congratulations, Robyn*****
Please e-mail me with your address and for whom you'd like the book personalized: claragillowclark(@)gmail(dot)com 




Interior Illustration from Legend of Michigan
Long long ago, the ancient peoples of the forest gathered around their warm bright fires and told the tale of a time long past, when the land of Michigane was covered with thick heavy ice. They called it the Long Night of the North Wind.

The Legend of Michigan -- Finalist for the Great Lakes Book Award, 2006






Dear Readers, Thanks again for stopping by! The next post will be coming up after the middle of March. We'll be celebrating a HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY with Author Patricia Thomas and her new picture book, GREEN BEAN! GREEN BEAN! It's sure to get your youngsters eager to grow a garden of their own! 



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23. Writing from the Inside Out. . . It's a Book Birthday and Giveaway!!!

Dear Readers,

Today is an extraordinary day, because it's a BOOK BIRTHDAY for our friend, Patricia Thomas and her new book, GREEN BEAN! GREEN BEAN! Her publisher, Dawn Publications, www.dawnpub.com is generously donating 3 copies of the book for the birthday giveaway and Pat will autograph and personalize for the winners. Thank you, Dawn Pub and thank you, Pat! (Details for the giveaway at end of the post!)

I really love this book! It's a perfect read for spring fever. I've already purchased the book and a packet of seeds to start my own garden of GREEN BEANS!  

Author: Patricia Thomas
Illustrator: Trina L. Hunner

A freckled-faced young gardener opens a packet of seeds. And the magic begins! Crisp verses take the reader through the growing season—from a sprout peeking out, to a curlicue catching dew, to a vine twining on a line, until finally . . . GREEN BEANS! It’s time to harvest a full season of garden knowledge and experience. Along the way the young gardener discovers a nook to read a book in the shade of growing beans. Trina’s watercolors match the mood of a garden, and in the backmatter Patricia provides life cycle science and related vocabulary, instructions on growing your own green beans, and a variety of fun things for children to do. This book is sure to encourage young gardeners to put their toes in the soil and perhaps even read a book in a garden nook.
Educators: Download free activities based on this book!


Writing from the Inside Out. . . Author Patricia Thomas shares insights about her writing process, influences, and inspirations. . .

Two topics that will always catch and hold my attention are the beauty of poetry and the wonder of nature’s marvelous life cycle. At first glance, it would seem these subjects are at wide ranging ends of conversational topics, but actually they are uniquely related. Especially for me.

My strongest connection is uniquely personal. That connection is my father, who lovingly taught me, among many things, an appreciation for poetry along with an appreciation for nature. He was a teacher…and a farmer. It has always seemed to me that growing up on a farm, with the guidance of a farmer who was also a teacher was about as good as it could get. 

When I rode to school with Dad, he delighted in teaching me works of poets he loved: Longfellow, Emerson, Whittier, Burns, Riley, and so many more. I grew up with a love of words (especially words that rhyme) and appreciation for the majesty of language. 

Every day on the farm brought Dad more teaching opportunities, and he never let the chance pass to teach as we went…names of plants, flowers, trees…ways we depended on them…relationships of one to another…the amazing circle of life contained in a single seed. 

The more I thought about it, the more the connection between poetry and nature that had originally centered around my father expanded for me. I came to realize that not only is poetry the best medium for expressing and understanding feelings about the natural world and our place in it, it is also the best medium for encouraging a love of nature in new generations. 

Children who grow up with poetry…who listen to the music of the language and may be enchanted by the word pictures learn to observe their own world more closely. At first, it may be the rhyme of the words that intrigues them, because rhyme, after all, is fun. But later, gradually, they will listen for the rhythm and look for the fresh ideas and word images. When you come right down to it, poetry and nature simply go hand in hand.

In Green Bean! Green Bean! I played with the fun of rhyme:

                               Freckles and speckles/soon a root and a shoot
                               A root and a shoot/and a sprout peeking out…

In Firefly Mountain, I painted pictures with beautiful words to share the unforgettable firefly magic. You could only see the black mountain touching the black sky/and all of it/all of it/all of it Lit from top to bottom/with blinking, winking, twinkling fireflies….

I realize I’ve taken the long way around in explaining what inspired me to write my book about a single speckled bean…and why I chose to write it as a poem. Like Jack of fairytale fame, I knew that little bean had the power to become something spectacular. I also knew that as the seed progressed through its life cycle, one stage would lead to the next, building on the stage before it. So the poetic form I chose to tell the story was cumulative rhyme, which builds story elements one on the other. (Think The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Gingerbread Man, etc.)

Full disclosure here: to make Green Bean! Green Bean! more readable and avoid too much repetition, I opted for a sort of abbreviated cumulative style, repeating an element only once before proceeding to the next adventure in the plant’s life.

A bunch comes for lunch? No way they can stay!/ No way they can stay. Now a hoe to help grow.
Incidentally, this word repetition can also be a classroom aid, helping increase students’ phonological awareness, an important consideration in learning reading in early grades. In fact, lesson plans and teachers’ handouts to utilize language and other aspects of the story, including science and math are available free on the Dawn Publications website. Also, special sections in the back of the book offer a fresh variety of activities and additional information for kids as well as parents and teachers…ideas that also help to link language, literature, science, and the marvels of nature.


Education today often regards poetry and literature as frivolous, choosing, rather, to focus on science/technology/math. Not that there’s anything wrong with that STEM emphasis, but we need to remember that while it took science to get us to the moon, it is poetry that will help us understand why we went there.





Author Patricia Thomas
Patricia Thomas grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania where she learned the delight of summers spent barefoot and hands digging in garden dirt. From her teacher parents, she also learned the joy of books, reading, poetry, and rhyme. The gardening part paid off when profits from 4-H tomato projects helped finance tuition at Penn State University. She married her PSU sweetheart, became a copywriter/editor, raised a family, and discovered she was a children’s writer. Today, nearly 45 years later, her first book, Stand Back, Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” still sends kids around the world into gales of laughter. Her books, stories, and articles cover wide-ranging poetic and prose styles. She has presented workshops, writing courses, lectures, and teacher-education seminars.


                     Meet the illustrator: Trina Hunner

Illustrator Trina Hunner
Trina’s tried growing green beans there, but hasn’t had much success—beans just don’t grow well under the tall pines that surround their home. Trina has illustrated two other books for Dawn Publications: Molly’s Organic Farm, about life on the farm as experienced by a lovable orange cat, and On Kiki’s Reef, about a green sea turtle and the amazing creatures who share her coral reef. When not creating vibrant watercolor paintings, Trina enjoys biking to the elementary school where she teaches, skiing in the mountains near her home, and playing with her trio of lovable pets. To see more of Trina’s artwork you can visit her website at www.trinahunner.com



I can't wait to start my green bean garden! In the back of the book are instructions on just how to do that. If you can't wait for the winners to be announced next Tuesday, March 22, order a copy now from Dawn Publications: www.dawnpub.com On Sale Now at 25% Off!

If you're like me, you'll want several to put in Easter Baskets for your budding gardeners!

Thank you, dear friends, for stopping by to celebrate Patricia Thomas's BOOK BIRTHDAY for GREEN BEAN! GREEN BEAN! Thank you, Patricia Thomas for sharing your wonderful knowledge about nature and poetry with all of us! 

Here's how to enter the drawing for a chance to win: All you have to do to enter is leave a comment about the post. Tweet and you'll get an extra chance. Join my blog and you'll get two more chances in the random.org drawing!












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24. Writing from the Inside Out. . . WINNER! WINNER! WINNER!

Dear Friends,

How wonderful to see so many of you stop by to join the Book Birthday for Patricia Thomas and GREEN BEAN! GREEN BEAN! THANK YOU!

We wish everyone could win a book, but we're thrilled Dawn Publications www.dawnpub.com  donated 3 copies to giveaway to readers. Thank you, Dawn Pub! THANK YOU, dear PAT, for your generosity!

And now announcing the FIRST WINNER!

         ****CONGRATULATIONS****

               ***TRACEY KYLE***

(Please see end of post for additional winners and how to claim your book!)



You won't want to miss this book by Patricia Thomas! It's never been out-of-print since its original publication in 1971. Still a "HOT" seller. Check it out!


"Stand Back," Said the Elephant, "I'm Going to Sneeze!" 

by Patricia Thomas (Author), Wallace Tripp (Illustrator)

See all 11 formats and editions

All the animals are in a panic. The elephant's sneeze would blow the monkeys out of the trees, the feathers off the birds, the stripes off the zebra. Even the fish and the fly, the crocodile and the kangaroo, know what a catastrophe that sneeze would be. "Please don't sneeze!" they beg. . . .
The classic story of an enormous sneeze in the marking, told in sprightly nonsense verse, has been newly illustrated in full color to delight a new generation of fans.



OUR SECOND WINNER:

                                  ********CONGRATULATIONS*******
     
                                                ****PAT BRISSON****


OUR THIRD WINNER:

                                 ********CONGRATULATIONS*******

                                              ****JANET SMART****



Don't forget, you can still purchase a copy here: Dawn Publications: www.dawnpub.com On Sale Now at 25% Off! 
 
OR HERE:

Green Bean Hardcover – March 1, 2016


See all 3 formats and editions
Winners, please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and let me know for whom you'd like the book personalized. 


If you didn't win this time, you'll have many more opportunities! Next up on Writing from the Inside Out is a book birthday for EMPTY PLACES, a new MG historical novel by Kathy Wiechman! 

Happy Spring! See you soon!




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25. Writing from the Inside Out. . . A BOOK BIRTHDAY & GIVEAWAY

Dear Readers,

One of the great things about blogging is getting to introduce good friends and good books to all of you. In this post my friend, Kathy Cannon Wiechman, shares about some of the different ways she researches books.

Author, Kathy Cannon Wiechman is a former teacher of beginner French and Creative Writing and a Language Arts tutor. She is also a lifelong writer. Her 2015 novel, LIKE A RIVER, won the Grateful American Book Prize and was nominated for the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award. It is on Bank Street College Best Book list, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and earned a starred review in Kirkus. Her second novel, EMPTY PLACES, launched in April, 2016 with good reviews. (Kathy is generously donating an autographed copy of one of her books. For a chance to win, please leave a comment below. More details at the end of the post.)

Writing from the Inside Out. . .     Kathy Cannon Wiechman shares

Clara’s theme of Writing from the Inside Out is a perfect description of the way I go about creating a story. I always write from inside my main character. The whole story is seen through that character’s eyes, even if I tell it in third person.
   
Since I write mostly historical fiction, I travel to a lot of historical sites to get the proper perspective of the places my character sees. Those places have changed over the years, so I also look at old photos and read descriptions from folks from the past.
   
If my character lives in a home that is totally made up, I draw a floor plan, so I can picture it clearly in my mind. For a character who lives on a farm, I draw a map of that farm. I know where the pig pen is, the cornfield, and the tallest oak tree on the place. If I want a story to feel real to a reader, it must first feel real for me.
   
I also try to replicate sounds from the time period: the jangle of a mule’s harness, the crack of a rifle shot, the blast of a steamboat whistle. I want to be able to see what the character sees, hear what he hears, smell what he smells, and feel what he feels. When I wrote Like a River, my search for the smell of black powder led me to a lesson on how to load and fire a muzzleloader.

When I worked on Empty Places, I was introduced to a 1928 Model A Ford. I eventually had a chance to drive the vehicle. What fun! Here’s the excerpt from the book, Empty Places:
http://amzn.to/1SmLxZJ
"I don't know about this, Corky." The gas pedal was small and round. And near out'a reach of my foot.
     

"Just try. I'll tell ya when."
 

He disappeared behind the car, and I readied my foot on the clutch.
 

He yelled, “Now!"
 
I pressed the button on the parking brake, and moved the gear shift like Corky done showed me. I stretched out my leg to push on the gas. The engine made almost as much noise as Corky, who swore like the devil.

  
The writing begins when I can feel the character breathing inside me, when I can look down at that person’s hands and feet, feel what’s in the person’s pocket, and know that person’s fears, angers, and heartbreaks.
   
In Like a River, my character, Leander, has his arm amputated, so I talked to amputees. I learned about phantom pain from them. But I needed to know for myself how well Leander could swim when he had only one arm. My husband tied one of my arms behind my back and timed me while I swam that way. Surprisingly, I could swim almost as well with one arm as with two.
   
The biggest compliment I receive from readers of Like a River is, “I felt I was there with Leander and Polly.” That makes it worth going the extra steps to get inside those characters’ heads. And here’s hoping readers will feel the same way about Adabel Cutler in Empty Places.

http://amzn.to/1TeBqGH
LIKE A RIVER: A Civil War Novel
Author: Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Publisher:Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills
Kirkus *Starred* Review: The stories of three teens intersect in the later years of the Civil War in this debut novel. Fifteen-year-old Leander Jordan runs off to war from Ohio to prove he's a man. "Working in the foundry wasn't something to admire, not like being a soldier in uniform, a soldier who'd risk his life facing enemy guns. Pa had to see he was doing a manly thing." But he lands in a Southern hospital, where he befriends Paul Settles, another young Union soldier, who tends to his wounds. When they're separated, Paul ends up in hellish Andersonville Prison, where smallpox, scurvy and hunger plague the prisoners. There, Paul's friendship with Given McGlade, a fellow prisoner and Leander's neighbor from back home, helps keep them both alive. Though the prose is a bit florid early on, the stories are effectively related in twinned third-person narrative, and Wiechman's abundant research is unobtrusively folded into the tale. An excellent author's note provides further information about the times. Though the horrors of Andersonville and various Civil War-era events such as the Battle of Atlanta, Lincoln's assassination and the explosion of the steamboat Sultana provide wartime context, it's the secrets woven into the well-paced tale that will pull readers eagerly to the tearful conclusion. A superb Civil War tale of friendship, loyalty and what it means to be a man. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Learn more about Kathy and her books by visiting her website: http://kathycannonwiechman.com

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Thanks for dropping by for the BOOK BIRTHDAY for EMPTY PLACES!!! And thank you so much, dear friends, for sharing a few words of your own.  The winner will be announced on Saturday, April 23rd.
















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