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1. **BOOK BIRTHAY + GIVEAWAY + WINNER**

Dear Reader,

It's an exciting BOOK BIRTHDAY for Author McCallum Morgan. You met him last week when he shared about his writing journey and inspiration for his first book, A HOLE IN THE ICE. (Random.org has picked a winner TBA at the end of the post. Today is the official release date of the sequel, A HOLE IN THE SEA and McCallum is giving away two autographed copies of his new book:
Check out the Facebook release party for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/529259667240305/   
Rafflecopter giveaway:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/67e36af22/ 

Summary of A Hole in the Sea:
Parsifal and Balder are trapped on the arctic ice after Lady Vasille and Lord Keazund vanish into the Sea. The magical Compass shows Parsifal dire warnings of storm and mermaid. Unable to resist the hole in the ice, the two friends [plunge in and] find themselves cast adrift on an otherworldly Sea filled with myth and dangerous monsters. Guided by Dioktes, a strange old man of doubtful motives, they come to the Port, a floating city of wreckage ruled by a desperate rabble. Lady Vasille has designs upon the Port and upon all of the Sea and will stop at nothing to obtain the coveted Compass. If Parsifal isn’t careful, he and his friends will be caught up in her schemes once more. But it’s hard to be careful when you’re trying to survive.





Author McCallum Morgan talks about writing the sequel, A Hole in the Sea. . .

        The sequel was really fun to write. I was really into the characters by now and they came naturally to me, almost as if they were telling the story themselves. I’d plotted out vague events long before I got around to writing the book, so the rough draft came rather fast; but I still had to work on fleshing out the emotional plot (thank you again, Clara). Figuring out the deeper storyline seems to be the hardest part for me. At least that was true in this series, because I’d plotted out the overarching action beforehand and hadn’t meshed it with a solid emotional storyline from the beginning.      

Like my first book, I drew inspiration from those old games of make-believe that my brother and I so enjoyed. The new, monstrous character of Wilma Jones first originated in some long-ago pirate adventure. She was originally Wilma Jean, the name that popped into my head when an old scrap of wood shaped like a claw (if you used your imagination) came into my hands. She’s half-crustacean, so it seemed only natural to wed her to Davy Jones. Thus we have the parents for the nightmarish Tan Noz (named after some coastal British goblins). If I remember correctly, the Tan Noz are actually leftover evidence of my brother’s plotline from the game we created that inspired the books.

One of the most exciting things about the sequel happened as I was getting it ready for Little Bird Publishing House. I was given an opportunity to turn a song that’s sung by the new character Fou into an actual song! I hope to have it available as a free download on my website: www.mccallumjmorgan.weebly.com, but I’m not sure when it will be up.

THE LUCKY WINNER of a HOLE IN THE ICE is:

     ************MARGARET BRUETSCH***************

             !!!!!!!!!CONGRATULATIONS, MARGARET!!!!!!! 

Margaret, please e-mail me (claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address, and your book will be on its way to you soon!




Please join the Birthday Party and stop by McCallum's FB page or click on the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win a Hot-off-the-Press paperback of A HOLE IN THE SEA.

Check out the Facebook release party for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/529259667240305/

Rafflecopter giveaway:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/67e36af22/ 

Thanks for stopping by! Next up is the Award Winning Author/Illustrator, the amazing Suzanne Bloom!

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2. Writing from the Inside Out. . . One Writer's Beginnings

Dear Friends,

Please welcome Author McCallum Morgan, an extraordinary young writer, former student and friend. (Giveaway at the end of the blog!)

Author McCallum Morgan (He made the jacket!)
As a child, McCallum always wanted to write a book. He scribbled in notebooks, drew pictures, and lived largely in a world of make-believe. Into this fertile field a seed was planted. Notebooks began to fill and they didn’t stop. It was a soaring waltz with words among the silvery clouds and he loved it. He was thirteen.
     It became his first novel, A Hole in the Ice, published when he was nineteen. He is now twenty and working on the third book in the Weather Casters Saga.
     McCallum still draws and occasionally attacks an unfortunate piece of fabric with a sewing machine. He may be spotted around his home town of Bonners Ferry, Idaho, sporting his collection of bizarre clothing items, singing ‘Totale Finsternis’ or at the bakery near his home, drinking a caramel macchiato. His day job is log home finishing. He lives with his parents in a house perched on the hillside twenty miles south of the Canadian border and takes his tea with milk and sugar in a cup and saucer.
Website: www.mccallumjmorgan.weebly.com
Blog: www.mhablas.blogspot.com


A Hole in the Ice by McCallum Morgan

amzn.to/1NinJQX
A Hole in The Ice is an epic historical fantasy sweeping across time, myth and nineteenth-century Europe. A decadent cast of characters embark on a mysterious journey in pursuit of a mythical lost land said to be inhabited by beautiful but deadly mermaids. As the reader sweeps across the story under the glimmer of chandeliers and falling snow flakes, they are taken on a beautiful adventure to the very limits of the imagination. Each character in this extraordinary tale has their own personal treasure they are hunting and each one will pay a price higher than they ever anticipated.
Review from a reader: This story follows a young man named Parsifal and a strange cast of characters into the land of paranormal and strange inventions, machines, and powers which control man and beast. . . .This trip through the world of the 1800s is quite imaginative and also shows the author did his research. I enjoyed the author's ability to paint his worlds with words. . . . that made reading this book a pleasure. Brian P. Lane

 McCallum Morgan shares his writing journey:  

I hate to admit it, but A Hole in the Ice started as fan fiction. The original manuscript, which I started at age thirteen or thereabouts, had dæmons in it. In its defense, it was an attempt to diverge from the original inspiring work of fiction, an attempt to cater to my own personal tastes. Here’s how it all began:

I’d just started reading Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass and I was entranced. This was the book I had been looking for. This was brilliant. This was real magic. Except for one thing: I was confused about the time period of the setting. It was just a small thing, but there I was, imagining a more Victorian feel to Lyra’s Oxford, and BAM! This is what happened next:

The Author and his brother
My brother, a year and a half my junior, and I liked to play make believe. We would come up with characters and settings and what-not and play these imaginary adventures that could last a week or more. I was reading The Golden Compass. I said let’s do something like The Golden Compass but set in an earlier time, something like Pride and Prejudice (I had watched the BBC production with my mom and sister). The first imagined time period kind of fell through, since my story ended up with trains and zeppelins; back then, I had a vague understanding of historical time periods. It was all 1800s to me. Hence, the steampunk.

Most of the character names originated from the 19th-century. I constructed them in a matter of minutes. Vassilissa came from the Russian fairytale. Vasille was just the logical last name to go with that. Lord Keazund sprang into my head, fully formed (I pronounce it kay-zhund), and Parsifal came from Arthurian legends. Balder came along later. The character of Balder is all that remains of my brother’s characters and plot, but even Balder is in a new and changed form that my brother refuses to claim. My brother and I still bounce story ideas off each other. Often, we won’t really be listening to each other, but it still helps us develop our own ideas, and sometimes we do inspire each other.


Character sketch of Vassilissa
Drawing has always been a part of that. My brother and I always drew things, often related to these imaginary escapades. Often, if I’m inspired by something, I’ll draw related things before I ever get around to writing anything down because it’s so immediate and visual. The exception was my first book; I wrote a lot of it first and then drew pictures for it. However, I sketched scenes and characters from sequels in the series as I wrote the first one. Even though details may change when I finally begin the actual drafting of the next book, the sketches of settings, characters, and costumes I’ve made seem to keep my inspiration going, it helps me look forward to where the plot and story are going.

The plot of A Hole in the Ice just happened. It unfolded as if it were the only bridge across a very deep chasm. Of course, it changed over the years of writing and re- imagining. I dropped the dæmons before I’d finished the very first draft, because even then I entertained grand notions of someday publishing the thing. But the main, albeit vague direction of the plot stayed pretty much intact. It was the emotional story that developed over the years, growing from bare bones into something meatier than the original. (Thank you, Clara, for helping me with that.)

There are so many other factors of inspiration. Young authors like Christopher Paolini inspired me (or made me ambitiously jealous!)  Since the expedition in A Hole in the Ice crosses Europe, I had to drop into the Transylvanian Alps because I love Dracula. And then there are zeppelins and half-zeppelins, because I love zeppelins and read all about the first aerial circumnavigation of the globe by Dr. Eckener on the Graf Zeppelin. I owe my love of airships to Kenneth Oppel and his wonderful books in the Airborn series. Probably every book I’ve ever read has had some kind of influence on my work.

So it is fan fiction. Fan fiction of multiple books (and movies and old legends). But isn’t that the reason we all write? We write because something we read inspired us. We write not to improve on our favorite stories (because that can’t be done), but to make something new and fresh, something all our own. The expedition and The Compass remain in A Hole in the Ice, but I don’t think you could find another book in the same (sub)genre so completely different from The Golden Compass.
To be a writer, you first have to be a fan of reading and books.

Thank you, Mccallum, for giving us the inside view of your writing journey and inspirations! McCallum has generously donated a print copy of his first novel, A Hole in the Ice. As always, you don't have to tweet or share on fb or join the blog for a chance to win an autographed copy. All you have to do is leave a comment for us and random.org will pick the winner. We'd LOVE to hear from you. We are truly grateful for your encouragement and support! 

The winner will be announced next Thursday, January 28th, on the Book Birthday and the Giveaway for A Hole in the Sea.
 

Book trailer Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8L1HAwoBAF8
(Mesmerizing!!!)
Purchase a copy of A Hole in the Ice: amzn.to/1NinJQX

The Book Birthday for, A Hole in the Sea is next week!!
Amazon Sequel Pre-order Link: amzn.to/1V4SKxB

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3. Announcing the LUCKY Winner of PRETTY OMENS by Alexandria LaFaye

Dear Readers,

What a week! We were thrilled that so many of you stopped by and left such thoughtful comments for Alexandria (and me!). Thanking my stars this morning that I don't have to pick the winner, because Random.org has done it for me. Whew!

The LUCKY WINNER of PRETTY OMENS is announced at the end of the post, but please take a moment to read about two other titles in the series by Alexandria LaFaye:

The Year of the Sawdust Man:
Nissa’s life has never been perfect. Living with her free-spirited mama in the small town of Harper, Louisiana, has led to lots of gossipy small talk and mean rumors. But now Mama is gone, and all the townsfolk can talk about is who she might have run off with.

Nissa’s memories of the Sundays her mama would come home smelling of sawdust lead her to suspect that some of the rumors are true. Did her mama run away with the Sawdust Man? And is she ever coming back?

Reviews:
"Prepare yourself for feisty eleven-year-old Nissa Bergen because she and her wayward mother, abandoned father, and the gossipy denizens of small-town Louisiana are about to invade your heart in a first novel that is entirely engaging, touching, and unfailingly entertaining. Alexandria LaFaye is a writer to welcome—and cherish."
—Robert Cormier, author of The Chocolate War
"I read The Year of the Sawdust Man with the same sense of joy and wonder I felt many years ago when I finished a review copy of a first novel by an unknown author: To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee."
—Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey, author of A Woman of Independent Means
"A bittersweet, moving debut. . . . Beautifully written."
Publishers Weekly, (starred)
Link to the book:
http://milkweed.org/shop/product/126/the-year-of-the-sawdust-man/


The Sequel:

Nissa’s Place

Ever since her father remarried, Nissa feels like a stranger in her own home. Her new stepmother rearranges the house and removes all signs that Nissa’s free-spirited mother ever lived there. And her best friend wants to trade her time with Nissa for the opportunity to impress boys. Hoping to find traces of how life used to be, Nissa accepts an invitation from her mother and moves to Chicago.
But life in Chicago is overwhelming to Nissa, and she misses her home and father. She’s thrilled to help her mother sew costumes and plant a rooftop flower garden, but how can she fit in when people talk so fast and don’t even care to wish her a good day? After a revelation in the Chicago library, the willful Nissa discovers a way to stake her independence and find her place in her family and life in Louisiana.
Told with the lyricism that marked The Year of the Sawdust ManNissa’s Place is a beautiful continuation of Nissa’s story and a remarkable book on its own. Once vou meet Nissa Bergen, you’ll never forget her.


Reviews:
“LaFaye surpasses the lyricism and emotional depth of her sparkling debut, The Year of the Sawdust Man, in this sequel. Readers will be moved as Nissa comes to view Heirah Rae’s flight as an act of courage and a spur for Nissa to make her own dream of a library in Harper come true.”
Publishers Weekly
“LaFaye works lyrically with folk expressions and wisdom, conveying them in a delightful way. She also succeeds in picturing the racial attitudes of the era and allows the rural characters to be true to themselves in the city environment.”
School Library Journal
“In the honeyed and colorful language of the deep South, Nissa sorts through her feelings for her mama, her steady dad, the pregnant Lara, and her racially divided town. Inspired to turn Lara’s old home into a local library, Nissa wrestles with segregation, and hope. A fine, upstanding sequel to The Year of the Sawdust Man.”
Booklist

Link:
http://milkweed.org/shop/product/54/nissas-place/

And now, the lucky winner of PRETTY OMENS is:   
 
 ***********JANET SMART***********

 **************CONGRATULATIONS, JANET!!!!************
JANET,  please send your mailing address to a@alafaye.com  Let her know if you'd like PRETTY OMENS personalized to you or to someone else.

Thank you, Alexandria, for the fantastic post on the art of writing and for donating an autographed copy of PRETTY OMENS. Thank you, dear Readers, for showing up! Come back next week for something entirely different!

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4. From the Inside Out -- One Step Deeper into the Art of Writing

Dear Friends,

Please welcome author Alexandria LaFaye, who shares deep (and inspiring) insights into the art of writing. Read on. . .and please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear from you. Thank you!

Author Alexandria LaFaye
 A. LaFaye is a writer, professor, mother of five, and wife. An associate professor of English at Greenville College, she is gearing up to launch their first MFA program in Multimedia Storytelling. She also teaches as a visiting associate professor in the graduate program in Children’s and Young Adult Literature at Hollins University. LaFaye's other titles include: The Keening(Milkweed), Water Steps (Milkweed), and Worth(Aladdin). Catch up with her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alafayeauthor
                     Write Around the Corner by Alexandria LaFaye
I love complexity in language—words, images, and titles that can mean many things. It adds layers to your writing and your reading that allows you to move around in the writing itself, see new things each time you read, so I thought “Write Around the Corner” would be a great way to talk about the subject of layering and subtext in your writing. Words that work for you in a way that brings your own writing and your readers around the next corner to see what might happen next.
Duality in writing—addressing a dual audience, integrating double meaning, and organically weaving in theme—are all complicated and intriguing elements of craft, but for today, let’s focus on double meaning.  I’ll explore it in three elements of craft—slanted dialogue, imagery, and titles.
Let’s go for the easy one first—“Titles”
My latest book PRETTY OMENS is a retelling of the myth of Cassandra set in a Virginian coal mining community in 1911. I chose the title for many reasons.
1. It’s a book about misconceptions and how they can shape the way we see the world around us and the people within it. The narrator Cass Ann Marie Pettibone was miraculously saved as an infant, but everyone believes she’s become a “devil child” and their fears are “confirmed” when she begins to see visions of the future. But are those visions evil or good? 
2. An omen is really just a sign of things to come. But people often see it as an evil word.  Using it and the word “pretty” offers a tension between what many people think when they hear the word “omen” and the positive connotations of “pretty.” Together, they create a thematic connection to the idea of re-seeing things we misunderstand.
3. When Cass Ann Marie sees an omen, she has to draw it, so it’s a pretty omen.
This title works on so many levels, I hope, because it’s directly connected to the book physically (she draws the omens), thematically (re-seeing things we misunderstand), and in terms of the connotations of the words (pretty and omens). These ties create the layering we’re discussing. I’ll call it a discussion because I would love to receive comments from readers to discuss this element of writing in more depth.
If you’d like to get your own copy of PRETTY OMENS, you can order it here:
http://anchorandplumepress.com/shop/pretty-omens
Advanced praise for Pretty Omens:
    In language as lovely as a curling mountain creek, A. LaFaye tells the story of Cass Anne Marie, born during a nasty winter on Crowley’s Ridge. Loved back to life by her mama, the young girl is shunned by the mining community because of her gift of omens. And yet this gift might prove to be their salvation. Pretty Omens, a story-in-poems by a pitch-perfect author, reads like a classic. —Mary Logue, author of Sleep Like a Tiger andLake of Tears
     In LaFaye’s strong, fast-paced novel-in-verse, the voices of her characters ring true, the language dazzles, drawing the reader into Cass Anne’s story of love and redemption, religious intolerance, and belief. —Paul Janeczko, author of Firefly, July, Publisher’s Weekly Book of 2014
      Told in sparse free verse poems, LaFaye’s gritty tale of a young girl’s struggle against a town’s superstitions, is both powerful, and heartbreaking, and ultimately inspiring. —Han Nolan, National Book Award winner, Dancing on the Edge
                                       

Let’s move on to the layering of imagery. I first came to understand how an image can be layered by reading “Oranges” by Gary Soto. It introduced me to a concept I like to call “impacked imagery.” This is the use of enjambment to get two images for the price of one. Let me show you:
In the poem, the narrator is about to meet up with a girl he is smitten with. He says,
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rogue, I smiled,

Ending the line with “pulling” opens a narrative gap—an opening in a text that is intended to be filled by the writer and the reader together.  In the fraction of a second between that line and the next the reader is asking, pulling what? And answering—the door closed or something like that and when they read “at her gloves,” they’ve seen the door close and watched her put on her gloves—that’s an impacted image-2 for the price of one.

He does it again with “bright” because we think she’s blushing from nerves or the cold and in reality, she’s wearing makeup.

Here’s a link to Soto’s full poem on the Poetry Foundation website, a resource you should make use of regularly for the wealth of poetry, audio poems, and articles on the genre.
http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/browse/142/3#!/20599498/0
You can create impacted imagery through paying careful attention to how you end one line of poetry with a narrative gap and closing that gap in the next line. Notice the use of specific and suggestive words at the end “pulling” and “bright.”
If you’d like to know more about my take on imagery, here’s a post on the subject on my blog WORDY WANDERINGS REST STOP
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/130361.A_LaFaye/blog
That brings us to the hardest form of duality and layering in writing—slanted dialogue.  Writing dialogue that says many things at the same time through layering is called “slanted” because it never says what it means directly. When people who know each other speak, their word choices, body language, and allusions are filled with double meaning because they have a history together. The trick is bringing all of that out in your writing.  Allow me to use an example from my novel THE YEAR OF THE MAN. In this scene, we join Nissa Bergen and her mother Heirah on their front porch in Harper, Louisiana in 1933:

Just because Papa and I knew Mama was gone didn't mean the whole town of Harper had to find out.  Of course, if Miss Chessie Roubidoux got even a whiff of trouble from our place, she'd be making up stories and spreading them about faster than thistle down in a windstorm. One year, she had everyone in town believing Mama practiced Voodoo on account of the fact she drank hibiscus tea. Miss Chessie was walking past our place on her way to the post office and she saw me and Mama sitting out on the porch sipping our fresh, brewed-in-the-sun hibiscus tea.  She stopped in the street and stared at us, the dust settling in our her shiny shoes. Wiping the sweat from her face with the handkerchief she keeps hanging over her belt, Miss Chessie said, "What on earth are you drinking, Heirah Rae Bergen?"
    Mama held up her glass and shook it a little so the flower petals in the tea would float around a bit.  I could tell by the smile on her face that Mama was thinking up a good answer. "Hibiscus tea." 
    I was disappointed. I usually got a good laugh over watching Miss Chessie stomp off after Mama served her up a little just deserts. 
    "Hibiscus tea? What is that? Some Voodoo brew you picked up from them colored folk down at the Tar Baby?"
    Mama was good friends with the folks down at the Tar Baby Cafe. We were one of the only white families in there on any given day. I loved their alligator jambalaya. It was so hot, it made my mouth itch for days.  Most white folks thought it was a sin to mix with black folks, but Mama didn't give a damn. Neither did Papa. I didn't even bother thinking about it.
    Now Miss Chessie, she thought all black folks were evil because she thought they were into Voodoo magic. She was sure Voodoo was devil worship. Mama just played right along with Miss Chessie's stupid beliefs.
    "Why, yes Chessie. This is straight from a witch doctor's kitchen." Mama held her tea up higher.  "It'll shrivel the kidneys of my enemies." Mama took a big gulp.
    I bit my lip to keep from giggling as Miss Chessie glared at Mama's glass of tea. She said, "You're evil, Heirah Rae Bergen. And I'm going to see that this entire town knows it."
    Mama licked her lips. "You do that, Chessie." 
    Miss Chessie stomped off shouting. "A woman like you shouldn't be allowed to have children."  She turned back to say, "Wit your evil ways, you'll make that sweet girl just like you!"
    Mama squeezed my hand, saying,"She'll be just like herself." She stood up, went to the porch railing, then raised up her glass so Miss Chessie could see it. "Here's to your health, Chessie!"
    Miss Chessie just shook her head then charged into the post office all ready to spread lies about Mama.

Notice how much these two women say to each other without speaking it out loud, Chessie is a racist who thinks Heriah Rae is an inadequate mother, unmannered, and shameful. On the other hand, Heirah Rae thinks Chessie is a superstitious busybody who should mind her own business and basically tells her, “I hope your kidneys shrivel up and you die, you old prune” just by toasting to her health. In this scene I engaged the speakers in an everyday discussion that revealed their inner motivations by how they said what they said. 

For instance, Chessie didn’t ask, “What are you drinking?” She said, “What on earth are you drinking, Heirah Rae Bergen?” The use of all three names suggests a scolding by a superior.
Physical descriptions also help, Chessie’s handkerchief over her belt and shiny shoes suggest her prim and proper nature.

So, in this short scene, we learn loads by not only what was said, but what was implied.  That’s slanted dialogue. 

If you’d like to share more misadventures with Nissa and her mama, please check out THE YEAR OF THE SAWDUST MAN and its sequel NISSA’S PLACE from Milkweed Editions (Let’s hear it for Indie Publishers!).
http://milkweed.org/shop/product/126/the-year-of-the-sawdust-man/
Questions anyone? I‘d love to discuss this topic further.  In fact, if you have anything at all you’d like to chat about in terms of writing, reading, or any other subject, please share a comment on this blog.
You can also e-mail me at a@alafaye.com.
Visit my website at www.alafaye.com.
Tweet me @artlafaye
Check out my blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/130361.A_LaFaye/blog
Or stop by my facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/alafayeauthor
I’m around. Please reach out to connect.

Thank you so much, Alexandria, for sharing pearls of writing wisdom. And thank you everyone for stopping by to share your thoughts. Don't forget to check out Alexandria's links for more about her books and the craft of writing. Happy New Year!

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5. ANNOUNCING THE LUCKY WINNER OF MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIE!!!

Dear friends,


The Lucky winner of Mouse's Christmas Cookie is:

*******Pam Zollman********


Congratulations, PAM!!! Please e-mail me with your mailing address and how you'd like your book personalized by Pat. (claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com. Your book should reach you before Christmas!


Check out this perfect pick for a heartwarming winter read: 
Here's the link: Red Sled

Patricia Thomas, Chris L. Demarest

School Library Journal--PreSchool-Grade 1—A father and son go sledding down a hill one snowy night in this charming picture book. The brief text consists of easy-to-read words in rhyming pairs ("Still hill./Far star./Snow aglow"). According to an author's note, the structure of the story-poem was inspired by an ancient writing pattern called chiasmus, "a format that creates a kind of mirror image." Bright watercolor pictures capture perfectly the downcast faces of the characters when they are stuck inside during a snowstorm ("Sad lad./Sad dad"), their expressions of happiness and excitement during their nocturnal adventure on the red sled ("Go! Go!/Whoa! Whoa!"), and their cozy contented smiles as they enjoy hot chocolate back home afterward ("Snug hug"). This is a great book for storytime and one-on-one sharing, and beginning readers will be able to follow the simple language presented in large black script.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT


It's a grand to give, but honestly it's pretty fun to receive, too! Today wraps up the book giveaways for this year, but there will be many more in 2016--some new authors and new books, but also authors you know and books you've come to love.  
  Wishing you all the joy and wonder of the season! ~Clara

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6. MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS COOKIE

Dear Friends,

In this post, my dear friend and author of many picture books for children, Patricia Thomas, talks about her inspiration for her newest book, Mouse's Christmas Cookie, and about her delight in the Christmas season.

Patricia Thomas writes. . . 

Mouse's Christmas Cookie

Okay. I confess. I am a Christmas junkie. I love everything about it: the decorations, the lights, the music, the food, the shopping. I even love wrapping. It’s a chance for non-artist me to turn a box into a work of art. Best of all, though, I love the stories. From Dickens’ beloved Christmas Carol to that much newer classic, The Grinch That Stole Christmas, those wonderful stories help us focus on the true heart and meaning of the season.

One of my favorites, perhaps lesser known is Gift of the Magi. In this classic tale by O. Henry, two poor, young newlyweds, determined to give their loved one the perfect gift, each sacrifice a prized possession in the attempt to do so. That story of unselfish generosity was the inspiration for my own Christmas book, Mouse’s Christmas Cookie.

The book also, incidentally, uses many of my own favorite memories in telling the tale: Jingle bell ornaments, Santa and sleigh on the mantle, Christmas stockings, and of course, trains. But it’s the mischievous mouse and a very determined cat that eventually express the Magi’s spirit of giving.




Thanks, Patricia, for sharing your heartwarming inspiration for Mouse's Christmas Cookie! It puts me in the joyful spirit of the season!

Now, something about the author in her own words:

I think I was destined to be a writer. I discovered the magic of rhyming words about as soon as I could talk; had my first poem published in Jack and Jill magazine when I was eight and knew immediately what my path would be.

Author Patricia Thomas
I grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania, earned my degree from Penn State University, then worked as a copywriter and editor in just about every facet of the advertising business. Along the way, I married and raised a family of four—which has expanded to include in-law children, fourteen grandchildren, and eleven (soon to be thirteen great-grandchildren, which gives away my age unmercifully). Also along the way, I discovered that I was a children’s book writer.

Maybe it was my love of words and rhyme...or maybe my wacky sense of humor...or maybe it was having children of my own...or maybe it was all of this that led me to write my first book, "Stand Back, Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze.” Thousands of copies (I have no idea how many) and more than 40 years later, kids are still giggling over the Elephant.

Rhyme is not my only medium, though. My books, stories, and articles cover a spectrum of styles, from the lyrical Firefly Mountain (named best book K-3, 2008 by the Poetry Center at Passaic College) …to Nature's Paintbox: A Seasonal Gallery in Art and Verse, an original poetic approach to nonfiction (a Booklinks lasting connection in poetry) …to such zany, nonsense verse classics as “There Are Rocks in My Socks,” Said the Ox to the Fox, The One-and-Only, Super-Duper, Golly-Whopper, Jim Dandy, Really Handy Clock Tock Stopper, and of course, the Elephant, which has been featured on the PBS Storytime series and even on Captain Kangaroo. In fact, the Elephant has gone multi-lingual. It is now published in a Korean edition, and most recently, I worked with a talented German composer to turn the Elephant into an operetta for children’s theater—produced in both German and English

A recent picture book, Red Sled, is written in a unique, deceptively simple style, based on an ancient writing form—but, as it turns out, is perfect for young readers. Among its numerous enthusiastic reviews are those from School Library Journal, Booklinks, and Horn Book, plus a starred review from Kirkus. My articles and stories have appeared in such magazines as Faces and Appleseeds, covering subjects from Arthurian legends to the Loch Ness monster to Benjamin Franklin.

My newest picture book is Mouse’s Christmas Cookie, a story for young readers, told mainly in onomatopoeia sounds—except for a single line of dialogue: “Stop, Mouse!” called out by a determined cat who pursues an equally determine mouse through the book. But the chase is not about what a reader might think.

I teach a college-accredited course in writing for children for the Institute of Children’s Literature, and present writing workshops for children and adults, while also serving as senior writer/editor in the Communications and Marketing Department at Marywood University.

Great News: Author Patricia Thomas is giving away an autographed copy of Mouse’s Christmas Cookie to one lucky reader who leaves a comment! The winner will be announced on Friday, December 11th! What do you love about the Holiday Season? We'd love to know! 

Check out Mouse's Christmas Cookie on amazon by clicking on the link below:

Mouse's Christmas Cookie



Patricia Thomas will make a guest appearance again in March for the release of a new book, GREEN BEAN! GREEN BEAN! Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? 


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7. ANNOUNCING THE LUCKY WINNER OF ROCK STAR SANTA!!!!!

Dear friends,

What a pleasure for us to see so many of you join the Rock Star Santa Party! Thank you so much! The WINNER generated by Random.org is. . . Amy Flederbach. 
                                     **********************************
                              CONGRATULATIONS, AMY!!! 
(Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and the name of the child for whom you'd like it personalized!!!) 

Don't worry, dear readers, if Random.org didn't pick you this time, we have another Christmas picture book giveaway next week and many more giveaways coming in 2016! Be sure to check out this amazing video for Gayle C. Krause's young adult novel, RATGIRL:

RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER
RATGIRL: Song of the Viper – a retelling of The Pied Piper set in a dystopian future with global warming. Available Amazon Link below:
http://www.amazon.com/Ratgirl-Viper-Gayle-C-Krause/dp/0991190408/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448115242 sr=8-1keywords=ratgirl+song+of+the+viper

The book trailer can be viewed at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRrVuYxmVFw



If you'd like to purchase ROCK STAR SANTA as a Christmas present, you can order it through Scholastics Book Club. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/rock-star-santa#cart/cleanup

Next up on the Holiday Book Giveaway is Patricia Thomas and her very Christmassy picture book: Mouse's Christmas Cookie

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8. AUTHOR GAYLE C. KRAUSE IS ROCKIN' WITH ROCK STAR SANTA!

               LIVE IN CONCERT – ONE NIGHT ONLY! 

ROCK STAR SANTA--BACK COVER
Children love Christmas and Santa. And together the combination can’t be beat. Put Santa in a unique setting (a concert stage), give him Mick Jagger’s sunglasses, Steven Tyler’s scarf, and a rockin’ reindeer band and you’ve got the makings of a fun Christmas story that puts a whole new spin on what happens Christmas Eve.

It’s Christmas Eve. The tree is lit and children await Santa’s arrival, only they’re not tucked snuggly in their beds dreaming of sugarplums. They’re stomping and clapping at a Christmas rock concert, where Santa is the “star.” Santa’s snow-white hair is in a ponytail and he’s ready to rock. The rowdy reindeer band includes Donner on electric bass, eerily resembling Keith Richard. Blitzen has a Paul Stanley-like star painted on his eye as he plays the drums, and you can’t help but notice the resemblance of Comet to Slash, as he shoots across the stage. It’s an original, modern day retelling of a Christmas classic, but what happens on this night before Christmas is rockin’.

ROCK STAR SANTA is proud to take his place among real ROCK STARS. The powerful sound of electric guitars, pounding bass, and crashing drums inspired Rock Star Santa’s birth.
Author with Rock Star Santa Fans and Santa Doll

Shortly after attending a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert, I penned the verses for Rock Star Santa—my interpretation of a rock concert of kids. Written in lyrical rhyme, it’s a rollicking night before Christmas with a surprise twist.

Rock Star Santa has fans around the world. He performed over 157,000 concerts in the United States, Canada, England, and the Caribbean.


REAL ROCK STAR SANTA WITH KIDS FROM MONTSERRAT
He was even portrayed by a “real-life” rock star at his performance in Montserrat, British West Indies. Peter Fileul, keyboard player for the Climax Blues Band, so graciously agreed to be the “real-life” ROCK STAR SANTA. And this year he’s the star of the Kindergarten holiday performance in Melbourne, Australia. QUOTES & REVIEWS HERE:
http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/weblog/2009/11/20-of-the-best-kids-christmas-books.html/


Rock Star Santa by Gayle C. Krause (Author), Will Terry (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 3-7
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Scholastic
Holiday themes to expect: Santa
TCBR analysis: Kids will really enjoy the energy from this wildly fun take on Santa Claus.
Publisher’s synopsis: Santa Claus Live In Concert, One Night Only!

Gayle’s short stories and poems can be found in Hopscotch for Girls, Boy’s Quest, Highlights and various anthologies. She’s the author of Scheherazade’s Secret, a retelling of the Arabian Night’s Tale, and RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER.


RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER
RATGIRL: Song of the Viper – a retelling of The Pied Piper set in a dystopian future with global warming. Available from THE Amazon Link below:
http://www.amazon.com/Ratgirl-Viper-Gayle-C-Krause/dp/0991190408/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448115242&sr=8-1&keywords=ratgirl+song+of+the+viper
 

The book trailer can be viewed at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRrVuYxmVFw

ROCK STAR SANTA--FRONT COVER
Are you ready to rock? Santa and his rowdy reindeer band bring down the house on Christmas Eve! If you'd like to purchase ROCK STAR SANTA as a Christmas present, you can order it through Scholastics Book Club. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/book/rock-star-santa#cart/cleanup

So what do you love most about Christmas? If you like the exact same thing Rock Star Santa does, he’ll be sending you a signed copy of his book. Just leave your comment below for a chance to win and have a “Rocking Christmas Eve!” The Winner will be announced on Saturday, December 5th. Thanks for stopping by!!!


You can contact Gayle at the links below:
                  
Author Gayle C. Krause

Website – www.gaylckrause.com
Twitter @GeeCeeK
Blog – http://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com







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9. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE LUCKY WINNER!!!

The winner of this week's Holiday Giveaway for K.L.Going's wonderful new book, PIECES OF WHY is Leslie Widener

CONGRATULATIONS, Leslie!!! Please send me an e-mail with your address and to whom you'd like the book personalized: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com. 

Don't forget to visit K.L.'s website: www.klgoing.com 


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10. Author K.L. Going shares about Music as Inspiration

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my very dear friend and Award Winning (and brilliant) author, K.L. Going, to the Holiday Bookfest and giveaway! Despite her many accolades and achievements, KL is an all around fabulous and grounded person!
  

K.L. Going
BIO--K.L. Going is the award winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, and was included on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list and their list of Best Books for the Past Decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections,  NY Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, and winners of state book awards. They’ve been featured by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Children's Book Council as Best Books of the year. Her work has also been published in Korea, Italy, Japan, Germany, and the UK, and her novel Fat Kid Rules the World is now an independent film. It premiered at the SXSW film festival and won an Audience Award.

K.L. began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel -- a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer's Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has multiple picture books under contract. She lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. She’s also a mom to the world’s cutest little boy.
(That's the truth!)

To visit KL on-line go to www.klgoing.com, www.facebook.com/klgoing, and http://twitter.com/#!/KLGoing.


                                        Music as Inspiration by K.L. Going

Many people ask about the sources of inspiration for my novels. Honestly, there are many of them: personal experiences, artwork, events in the news, an overheard conversation … but the most consistently powerful is music.

Fat Kid Rules the World was inspired by the music of Nirvana and the in-your-face bravado of vintage punk rock.

King of the Screwups celebrated the wild antics of glam rock.

Even Saint Iggy got its title thanks to one of my favorite musicians, Iggy Pop, with his larger-than-life personality and awkward mix of good guy and bad boy.

My latest novel, Pieces of Why, is also infused with music. Pieces of Why is the story of Tia, a young girl growing up in New Orleans who must come to terms with her father being in prison for murder. The plot is shaped by the deep soul of gospel music and the setting is infused with the distinctive strains of New Orleans zydeco and jazz.

Why is music such a powerful well-spring of inspiration? I think it’s because music captures the essential element of writing: emotion. Writers often talk about plot, character, and setting, and those are all important, but emotion is every bit as crucial, both for the author as we craft our text and for the reader as they experience the story.

My best tip for aspiring authors? Don’t leave out the emotion! And if you find yourself blocked, try letting music move your mind and soul. You might be surprised by the results.


 Review Quotes: Going’s new novel, with its nicely realized New Orleans setting, is a tender, accomplished story about the coming-of-age of a girl whose good intentions are challenged by uncertainties and her efforts to do what is right, even when that’s frightening and painful. Readers will empathize with Tia and wish her well as she struggles to deal with the truth and hold on to her dream.”—Michael Cart, Booklist


 Surrounded by a strong supporting cast, Tia is a sympathetic protagonist searching for that joy, and the answers she needs to rediscover her voice come from some unexpected sources. Going (Fat Kid Rules the World) skillfully tackles topics of race, class, and violence in a moving testament to family and friendship, love and loss, and the power of forgiveness.”—Publishers Weekly
Read more: www.klgoing.com





 Pieces of Why – Playlist

This is the list of songs I imagine would be on the Pieces of Why Soundtrack! Enjoy!

1. When the Saints Go Marching In
performed by Louis Armstrong – Classic New Orleans!
2. Come on Children, Let's Sing performed
by Mahalia Jackson – Mahalia Jackson is one of Ms.    Marion and Tia's favorite singers and this song showcases the spirit of gospel music.
3. His Eye Is On the Sparrow performed
by Whitney Houston – Whitney Houston is another one of Tia's favorites; this is an example of a slower gospel song.
4. Banks of the Pontchartrain performed
by Nanci Griffith – Tia's mom listens to Nanci Griffith; Lake Ponchartrain is located nearby.
5. Amazing Grace
– performed by The Mississippi Mass Choir – Here's an adult gospel choir showing us how it's done!
6. Deep River performed
by Mahalia Jackson – This is the song that Ms. Marion sings when she gives Tia her lesson.
7. There is Hope performed
by Mississippi Children's Choir – This is exactly the kind of song I imagine Tia's choir singing.
8. My Zydeco Shoes
– performed by Zydeco All-Stars – Not only is zydeco a classic New Orleans sound, but it's also the type of music Keisha's folks would dance to at Le Bon Temps Roule.
9. Burn
-- performed by One Voice Children's Choir – Another example of what I imagine the Rainbow Choir singing; one of the leads reminds me so much of Tia! (Available on YouTube)
10. Heal the World --
performed by CBS Children's Choir (of Seoul Korea) – Children's voices are so powerful! I love the fact that we can watch and listen to singers from all around the world. (Available on YouTube)
11. Note to God
-- performed by Charice – This is the song Tia imagines singing for the Raven woman.
12. Pyramid
-- performed Charice (featuring Iyaz) – This is Keisha and Tia's favorite song that they sing with Kenny at the end.
 

Thanks for sharing with us, KL. Your post got me thinking about what is the most powerful source of inspiration for my writing. Music is a source, but for me the power comes from nature--long walks in the woods and on the dirt roads where I live and reading poetry. So, dear reader, what about you? What are your sources for inspiration in your writing or in your other creative pursuits?

Please leave a comment below for a chance to win an autographed copy of Pieces of Why
You can just say, "Hi," share your favorite song, or tell us what inspires you--we'd love that! THANK YOU! Don't forget to visit KL's website to learn more about her books and school visits: www.klgoing.com

We'll be back on Saturday with more from KL and I'll announce the WINNER of Pieces of Why!!!!





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11. WINNER of MAGGIE'S BALL

Dear Friends,

It's been a great week thanks to so many of you who spread the word or stopped by to leave a comment. THANK YOU! The winner will be announced at the end, but first I wanted to share more book goodies from Lindsay. Below are two favorites!

Don't forget to visit Lindsay's website for information about school visits and books and much more: lindsaybarrettgeorge.com



INSIDE MOUSE OUTSIDE MOUSE
School Library Journal. PreSchool-Grade 3-A narrator introduces readers to two mice: "Inside my house there is a mouse,/Outside my house there is a mouse." The inside mouse sleeps in an old-fashioned clock, while the outside mouse snuggles in a tree stump. Line by line, with side-by-side, full-page illustrations, the story unfolds, tracing each mouse's journey from its home to the window of the house, where the two meet face to face, one looking out and one looking in, and say, "Hello." Gouache paintings in breathtaking colors create zoom-lens views of each of the not-so-different worlds of these two creatures. The pictures are packed with interesting details just waiting to be explored. The simple text, presented in a large typeface at the bottom of the pages, compares and contrasts the animals' environments and lifestyles. The overall effect is mesmerizing, and the intriguing parallels will capture readers' imaginations.This creative book makes a great choice for sharing aloud and for independent reading. It's also an excellent tool for teaching the concept of compare/contrast. -Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL


BOX TURTLE AT LONG POND
School Library Journal. Louise L. Sherman, Anna C. Scott School, Leonia, NJ



PreSchool-Grade 2-- A day in the life of a box turtle is rendered carefully in words and lifelike illustrations with a text that respects its subject, avoids any anthropomorphism, and is simple enough for very young listeners. It records the turtle's actions as, slowly but with perseverance, he drinks, searches for food, evades danger, and sleeps. The outstanding gouache paintings in borderless, horizontal two-page spreads are so realistic that one almost reaches out to feel the turtle's textured shell. Although at times the turtle seems to be camouflaged, blending into his surroundings, he stands out clearly once located. The animals he encounters are equally well illustrated--readers will almost hold their breath so as not to frighten the raccoon and chipmunk. The book's design is excellent; even the well-chosen type, superimposed on the illustrations so that there is no visual break from the scenes, is clear and easily read. This is superior nature study for young readers and listeners. 

The lucky winner of MAGGIE'S BALL is. . .  Carol Baldwin!!!!! 
Carol, please e-mail me with your mailing address: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com. If you'd like the book personalized to a special child include that info. THANK YOU!!!

Wait. . .don't stop reading yet! Award winning & bestselling author, K.L. Going, shares with us next week about her new book, Pieces of Why. The giveaway for autographed books continues through the Holiday season! See you soon. . .


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12. INSIGHTS and INSPIRATION from AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR LINDSAY BARRETT GEORGE

Lindsay in her Studio
Dear Friends,

Please welcome my friend, the multi-talented Lindsay Barrett George, who offers a glimpse of the inner workings of a creative mind. Her thoughts will delight and inspire you! Now, here's LINDSAY and her writing pearls of wisdom. . . (Details for the book giveaway of Maggie's Ball at the bottom of the post!)

The idea for Maggie’s Ball came from a few sources:

 -- a Popeye sing-along from the 1950’s (follow the bouncing ball)

-- the Sony Bravia TV commercial – where you see thousands of bouncing colored balls
descending down a SF city street
 
--my friend Mary Maxon’s dog – Tobey, now gone – who would drop his favorite ball down the stairs and then catch it… the ball
                  bounced
                               and bounced
                                                  and bounced…
              Tobey loved playing ‘Fetch’, even if by himself

-- and, the fact that my puppy Maggie and I played ‘Fetch’ every day with her yellow ball (lots of bouncing!)

REVIEWS OF MAGGIE'S BALL:  
"A consistent, directional progression of the story, large, easy-to-read type, the challenge of finding the characters and naming the objects and places, and the gentle, sweet ending make Maggie’s adventure a perfect title for young readers, who will want their own pup to play with by tale’s end.” --Kirkus *starred* review

School Library Journal PreS—An eager little dog is looking for someone to play with when her ball bounces down a hill into town. A colorful spread shows the park and four buildings set around it, with many children and adults playing and going about their business. Maggie searches for her ball everywhere, circling the town and looking in all the shop windows. The illustrations are bright and big, as is the minimal text, making the oversize book a winner for preschool storytimes as well as for individual perusings where the ample small details will fascinate children. Eventually, Maggie ends up disconsolately resting near a bench occupied by a girl reading—but wait—is there a yellow ball next to the bench? The little girl asks Maggie to play ball with her, and the pup delightedly complies. The pictures of the dog bursting with joy and happiness when she finds her ball and a friend are priceless.—Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA

Thoughts on Process. . .
There is no intelligent way to talk about the creative process. Great ideas – when they arrive - hang in the air. And ideas don’t come from me, but to me. I collect, store, safe-keep them… I let them simmer and out they pop!

You CANNOT lose faith in the fact that this process--this simmering--will happen - again.
It does …but in it’s own good time.
   
Some thoughtful words for readers/lovers of books for children
. . .Maybe that a picture book is its own ‘thing’… and that every stroke, every word is there because someone  - the author or illustrator – either painted it or wrote it. You start with a bank page and – you want to create an experience for a child, one stroke at a time. One word -- and it has to be the exact right word – one word at a time.

I LOVE making books for children – they are the best audience - and they believe in the magic that lies between the covers of a book. That expectation of something extraordinary that might happen –
when you turn a page… is part of why I love the bookmaking process. And of course, the children…to delight them and to connect with them – that’s the best part.

More about Lindsay and her wonderful picture books:
 Lindsay Barrett George’s books have been picked as Outstanding Science Books for Children,  American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, and have received Children’s Literature Choice Awards. Box Turtle at Long Pond was chosen as a Children’s Book of the Year by the Library of Congress.

Lindsay received the Carolyn Field Award (1989), and the Drexel Award (2007).  Inside Mouse/Outside Mouse was chosen as the first selection in Pennsylvania’s ‘One Book Every Young Child’ initiative.

Lindsay began her career in the children’s book field as a book designer in a New York City publishing house.  She has combined a fine arts background with her graphic design experience to produce books that, hopefully, make the animals she cares about come alive for children.

Lindsay lives with her husband, as well as a sweet mini-Dachshund, a big brown dog, 5 cats, and a very handsome duck in Northeast Pa. For more about Lindsay, her books, and her school visits, check out her website: lindsaybarrettgeorge.com 

The #Giveaway: Lindsay is generously donating a signed copy of Maggie's Ball to one lucky reader, and it can be personalized just for YOU! All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment on the post. Winner will be announced on Saturday, November 21st. Thanks for stopping by!









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13. AND THE WINNER IS. . .

Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for all the comments and good wishes! Before I announce the winner, I knew you'd want to know more about Jan and his books. Here's a sampling of his YA books, but you'll want to stop by his website: http://jancher.wix.com/jancheripko and check out his books for younger readers as well.

SLJ Grade 8 Up: Chris Serbo, a senior, is an outside linebacker for the Valley View High School Dragons. He is also an alcoholic. His first-person story is revealed in two ways. Before each chapter, a brief italicized account tells what's going on in the present as Chris grapples with the Twelve Steps and, after football season is over, tries to finish high school at a rehabilitation facility that he's been forced to enter. In the main body of the novel, the troubled teen recounts his championship season with the Dragons, along with the downward spiral his personal life took due to his drinking. Cheripko portrays a young man whose mother died when he was five and whose absentee, career-military father is a drunk. Chris's two main pleasures, football and partying, are intimately detailed in the story. While the signs of dependency are all around him falling grades, lies, losing friends, Chris remains firmly in a state of denial. Only toward the very end of the book does he show that he might be ready to face up to his problems. While the locker-room lingo and dialogue are presented in a mild manner, the author doesn't hold back in describing Chris's stupefying behavior during his weekend binges. A frank account of an at-risk teen fighting for his life. Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Booklist: sun moon stars rain. Gr. 10-12. Danny, 17, seems to have everything going for him, including a full scholarship to music school, but he drops out--and not because his girlfriend dumped him. He and his mom never talk about his dad, who died eight years before while rescuing a dog from the rushing river in their vital, rural community. Danny meets Stephanie, a beautiful single-parent mom, and he loves her. She reveals guilt about an addiction and more, and she helps him find peace in church. The religious message is understated; the issue that really drives the action is the locals' confrontation with the state officials attempting to confiscate land, but it's the honest characters, with all their scrappy, irreverent individuality and compassion, that grab attention. Fast, clipped, immediate, raucous (there are a few instances of the f-word), the dialogue is poetic; so is what's left unsaid. The simple words, and the spaces between them, reveal secrets, breakdown, betrayal, and love. Hazel Rochman 

Don't forget to take a look at Jan's books for younger readers. Books may be purchased directly from him and personalized for you for holiday giving! Check them out here: http://jancher.wix.com/jancheripko

And now. . .the lucky winner of Jan's book is: auntiejenni Congratulations!
To receive your autographed copy of RAT please send your home mailing address here: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com, and your book will soon be on its way!

Next up on the Holiday Giveaway is the multi-talented, author/illustrator, Lindsay Barrett George. See you soon!

 

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14. Where Do Ideas Come From. . . Author Jan Cheripko shares

Dear Friends,

Please welcome my long time friend, Author Jan Cheripko! In this post, he shares about the spectrum of ideas and experiences that ultimately became his book RAT. To celebrate the Holiday season, Jan is generously donating a copy of his book. You'll find details for a chance to win an autographed copy at the end of the post!


Jan Cheripko in his backyard
Jan Cheripko has authored seven books, including three award-winning young adult novels. His works focus on choices that people make and how those decisions affect their lives and the people and events surrounding them. In Imitate the Tiger, a football player struggles with the beginning stages of alcoholism. In Rat, main character, Jeremy Chandler testifies in court against a popular coach whom he has seen molesting a cheerleader. Jeremy then has to face the wrath of the basketball team. sun moon stars rain is a multi-layered tale of love, addiction, power, and redemption.

Jan also taught English and philosophy at a residential school for at-risk teens in upstate New York. He is the past assistant to the publisher of Boyds Mills Press and currently serves as a consultant to the Highlights Foundation where he occasionally leads workshops for writers. He and his wife, Valray, reside in Bethany, Pennsylvania, with their adopted dog, Max, and their cat, Smokey, who adopted them. Jan is a member of the Bethany Borough Council and the Bethany Public Library Board of Directors.

You can learn more about Jan and his work at:   http://jancher.wix.com/jancheripko

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15. Writing Advice from Roald Dahl

Sometimes I read something so wise and good that I can't wait to pass it on to my best writer buds. That happened this morning. Tara Lazur reviewed the biography of Roald Dahl on her blog--Read it here: wp.me/p7jVE-18t

But THIS is the part that gave me happy goosebumps:

What makes a good children’s writer? The writer must have a genuine and powerful wish not only to entertain children, but to teach them the habit of reading…[He or she] must be a jokey sort of fellow…[and] must like simple tricks and jokes and riddles and other childish things. He must be unconventional and inventive. He must have a really first-class plot. He must know what enthralls children and what bores them. They love being spooked. They love ghosts. They love the finding of treasure. The love chocolates and toys and money. They love magic. They love being made to giggle. They love seeing the villain meet a grisly death. They love a hero and they love the hero to be a winner. But they hate descriptive passages and flowery prose. They hate long descriptions of any sort. Many of them are sensitive to good writing and can spot a clumsy sentence. They like stories that contain a threat. “D’you know what I feel like?” said the big crocodile to the smaller one. “I feel like having a nice plump juicy child for my lunch.” They love that sort of thing. What else do they love? New inventions. Unorthodox methods. Eccentricity. Secret information. The list is long. But above all, when you write a story for them, bear in mind that they do not possess the same power of concentration as an adult, and they become very easily bored or diverted. Your story, therefore, must tantalize and titillate them on every page and all the time that you are writing you must be saying to yourself, “Is this too slow? Is it too dull? Will they stop reading?” To those questions, you must answer yes more often than you answer no. [If not] you must cross it out and start again.

 The quote above is from a letter Dahl wrote to “The Writer” Magazine in October, 1975: “A Note on Writing Books for Children”.


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16. 5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Write Science Books for Children!

3 Myths About Why Writing Science Books for Kids is Hard

April 29, 2015 …and 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Believe Any of Them!
Jennifer Swanson
From Jennifer Swanson: Let’s face it, many people think that science and writing are two different entities. Science requires you to use your left brain. Why? Because it involves math, logic, and, well . . . science. Writing requires you to use your right brain. It allows people to be more creative, tapping into their emotions, intuitions, and expressiveness. Do you believe all that? Well, the right-brain-left brain thinking is incorrect. Thinking that left-brained people are logical and right-brained people are creative is a myth. Just like these myths about science writing.
Perhaps you’ve heard some of these:
1. You have to have a degree in science.
This is absolutely not true. While it may help a little to have a background in science, especially if you are going to be using scientific papers in your research, it is not a requirement. Plenty of great science authors don’t have formal training in science. What they do have is the willingness to learn and the determination to succeed. If you have that, that’s all you need to be a science writer.
2. You need to work in a science field.
Not true. You don’t need to be a science teacher or a scientist to write books about science for kids. In fact, sometimes the best writers are the ones without any science background because they can really look at the facts and make them understandable to kids who may know very little science, too.
3. Science books are boring and informational.
Not true at all! Today’s science books are fun, exciting, and engaging. Some are extremely interactive and chock full of fun facts, amazing images and active words. Others are beautiful narratives with a thread of science woven so skillfully that readers are drawn into the story and learn something without being aware of it. Science books come in all shapes and sizes these days.
5 Reasons Why You SHOULD Write Science Books for Children:
1. To cover new and innovative topics.
Want to learn about new discoveries in space, a brand new animal from the ocean deep, or how robots work? You can do it here!
2. To get kids excited about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and writing together.
Help kids to see that writing and science go hand in hand with learning and allow them to expand their imaginations
3. To relate science to real-life things/events people actually do.
Write books about real-life scientists or engineers and help kids to see themselves working in these fields one day.
4. To start a conversation about a science topic.
Need a topic for your dinner table? Why not discuss fracking or maybe nuclear power, or even how one plastic bag can change the world.
5. Anyone can write them!
Yes, anyone who is curious about the science all around them every day can be a science writer.
Jennifer Swanson is faculty, along with Miranda Paul and editor Shelby Alinsky, at the Nuts and Bolts of Science Writing workshop this July 5th-9th. They invite you to engage both halves of your brain and leave your myths at the door as they navigate the rocky and sometimes aquatic narrative environment of science writing!

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17. ACT NOW!

Time is running out for the deep discount!

Until January 15th, my rate of $4 per page is slashed to $2.75 per page, and all you have to do to lock in that rate for the next six months is to send a deposit of fifty dollars by the cutoff date. 

The price of $2.75 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, send those along.    

In most cases, an edit will take from a week to ten days for a completed work, but you can also submit in installments and pay as you go. You are welcome to send by regular mail or electronically. I accept payment through PayPal or by personal check. 
 
E-mail with questions or to ask about how and where to submit: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com



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18. ACT NOW! Price Slash for Manuscript Edits!


HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all my writing friends! 

It’s the season of giving, but also of resolution and new beginnings. To help you get moving on those writing goals, I’m offering a discount for writers with a YA or MG manuscript for a limited time only. 

From today until January 15th, my rate of $4 per page is slashed to $2.75 per page, and all you have to do to lock in that rate for the coming year is to send a deposit of fifty dollars by the cutoff date. 

The price of $2.75 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, send those along.    

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

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




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19. Creepy Tales for Halloween with Author David Lubar

Dear Friends,

No tricks here, just a great treat from a really funny writer and friend, David Lubar. David has treats in store for you. He has generously donated two copies of his Weenies' book, The Battle of the Red Hot Weenies. I know the middle grade crowd will gobble up these stories faster than candy corn.

Read about Author David Lubar's unique sense of humor and imagination in his personal essay, and then meet David at the end of the post and find out how to win one of the autographed copies of his books! Thanks so much for celebrating Halloween with us! David's books are great reads for anytime of the year. Read on . . .



Hats off to the Weenie Guy by  David Lubar

 For most of my freshman year in college, I wore a black cowboy hat. I had no legitimate reason to do this. I didn't grow up on a ranch, wrangle cattle, or engage the Clanton boys in gunfire. Since this fashion statement occurred in New Jersey during the mid-seventies, nobody questioned, or cared about, my authenticity. When people met me, they'd stare for a moment, and then, as recognition clicked into place, say, "Oh, yeah. You're the guy with the hat." There was a lot more to me than some ratty piece of felt, of course, but that was my identity back then. The guy with the hat. I have a new identity these days -- one that I suspect is far rarer and more amusing than any clothing-inspired description. I'm the Weenie guy. And that's a good thing.
            
 My passion for short stories was spawned during childhood by the fortunate combination of a short attention span and a lack of athletic or social skills. The latter ensured I would have lots of leisure time for reading. The former nudged me away from lengthier works. I devoured short fiction as a kid. I started writing stories when I was in high school. In college, I wrote the typical angst-driven literary pieces that most freshmen feel compelled to inflict on their friends, roommates, and professors. I wanted to be James Joyce. Alas, my eyesight was too strong and my liver too weak to completely emulate my idol's path through life.
             

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20. Winners of the Weenie Books for Halloween

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for joining the Halloween party with David Lubar. Wasn't he a perfect guest for getting into the spirit of things? I thought so, too. Be sure to read down past the winners, for another treat and a slightly different side of David. Well, sort of . . .

CONGRATULATIONS  to LUCKY WINNER #ONE: Mjolner (the guy in the beret) Please e-mail me (claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot) com) within one week with your mailing address and your autographed copy of  The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies will be on it's way to you asap!





 CONGRATULATIONS to LUCKY WINNER #TWO: Janet (Writing in the Blackberry Patch) Please e-mail me with your address, and your Halloween treat will be in the mail asap!

You can purchase a copy of Sleeping Freshman Never Lie by David Lubar from your favorite bookseller! (Available in paperback!)  Don't forget to visit David's web-site: http://www.davidlubar.com



FromSchool Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7-10 -ScottHudson is the quintessential freshman. He's small, he's lost, and seniors yokehim for spare change. His honors homework keeps him up all night and his gymteacher is trying to kill him. He joins the paper, runs for student council, andtries out for the play, just to be near a girl he likes. This all backfires. Heturns out to be the least athletic sports reporter in school history, andfreshman lackey to the sadists on stage crew. Meanwhile, his mother ispregnant. The plot is framed by Scott's journal of advice for the unborn baby.The novel's absurd, comical mood is evident in its entries, like "ScottHudson's List of Good Thin

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21.

Link to Full Interview!

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22.

Dear Friends,


I'll be back in about a month with a surprise or two.  Thanks for staying in touch. The answer to the question you've all been asking is:  "Yes, I'm writing."  :o)  



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23. Highlights Foundation!

Follow the links to highlightsfoundation.org





Unworkshops: Your Room to Create with Writer in Residence Dec. 14-20, 2014

December 14 – December 20, 2014
Clara Gillow Clark will be joining us as the writer-in-residence for this week’s unworkshop! She will be available during the week to meet with writers to discuss craft, career goals, and offer manuscript advice. All writers and artists need to …
Workshop Faculty: Clara Gillow Clark

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24. MEET THE AUTHORS AT WINTERFEST -- HAWLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY

If you're in the area, please stop by and join in the fun and activities! Be sure to bring the kids along!


Winterfest At the Library
Saturday, December 13, 2014
10:00 am to 1:00 pmCreate a Free Holiday Card. For all ages. Compliments of the Boathouse Restaurant
10:00 am to 12:00 pmChildren's Creative Marshmallow Event. For ages 4-10. Must be accompanied by an adult.
Make a "creature" out of edible supplies. Compliments of Wayne Bank. For registration or details, call the bank's Hawley office at 570.226.6565.
11:00 am to 4:00 pm: Meet the Authors. Local authors will be on hand to talk about their books. Books will be available for sale. 
Jan Cheripko, Clara Gillow Clark, Lindsay Barrett George, Madeline Coppola, Lucia Dailey, Michael Gadomski, Natalie Harnett, Christine San Jose, Patricia Thomas, Terry Mooney, Will Wyckoff, and others.
11:30 am to ??: Soup's On at the Library. Enjoy a variety of homemade soups to eat-in or take out. Small cup is $2, large cup is $4. Bottled water will also be available.

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25. BEYOND MAIN CHARACTERS--A WORKSHOP

Dear Friends,

The Highlights Foundation has a great year of writing workshops lined up for you. I'm pleased to share a spring offering that will show you how to raise your novel to a higher level. 

I know you're wondering, so, YES, I'll be giving a talk one evening on transitions and characters. 

Just click on the workshop title, and it will take you to the website. Of course, you'll want to check out the other workshop offerings while you're there!  

Happy writing!

Clara


Beyond Main Characters: An In-Depth Look at Your Supporting Cast and Transitional Scenes 2015

March 29 – April 1, 2015
Your protagonist is real. The conflict concrete. The plot compelling. Your novel seems complete. Yet something is missing. Maybe those supporting characters and transitional scenes need more attention than you’ve given them. But what to do? How can you make …

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