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1.

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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2.

Link to Full Interview!

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3. 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

3 Comments on Winners of the Weenie Books for Halloween, last added: 10/25/2011
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4. 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.
             

20 Comments on Creepy Tales for Halloween with Author David Lubar, last added: 10/20/2011
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5. Annoucning the Lucky Winners of JOE and SPARKY early readers

Dear Readers,

Thank you, each and everyone, who stopped by to leave a comment for the lovely and talented author, Jamie Michalak. Jamie has graciously donated two books, which she will personalize and mail to the winners. How cool is that?  

So, without further ado, Lucky Winner #1 is:  LORRIE ZIEMBA! Congratulations, Lorrie. Please e-mail me [claragillowclark (@) gmail (dot) com] with your mailing address, and your book will be on its way to you asap.




JOE AND SPARKY GET NEW WHEELS
A Kirkus Best Children's Book of the Year
A Chicago Public Library Best Children's Book of the Year
A Junior Library Guild Selection

Joe and Sparky are unlikely buddiesturtle Sparky enjoys the safety of his shell while giraffe Joe is up for any adventure. Joe, convinced that he has won a contest, decides to take the prize, a bright yellow sports car, for a spin. . . . New readers ready for the challenge of more words per page will appreciate the humor of the story and illustrations. Children familiar with the Froggy books will recognize Remkiewiczs distinctively funny style and will laugh out loud at the inno

10 Comments on Annoucning the Lucky Winners of JOE and SPARKY early readers, last added: 9/30/2011
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6. Interview with author/editor -- Jamie Michalak

Jamie Michalak
Dear Readers, 


I'm pleased to share a very special writer and treasured friend with you this month. I've never met Jamie Michalak face to face, but she was my wonderful first editor at Candlewick Press and worked with me on Hill Hawk Hattie and Hattie on Her Way. In fact, I dedicated Hattie on Her Way to Jamie! Not long after we finished the edits for Hattie on Her Way, Jamie started a new life as a mother and an author. 

I'll share more about Jamie at the end of the post along with details about her generous giveaway--two personalized copies of her early readers. But I don't want to take anymore time away from this gifted editor and writer, Jamie Michalak, or the pearls of writing and editing wisdom she has for us!
www.jamiemichalak.com


Interview with author Jamie Michalak 

Can you tell us about where the idea for your first early reader, Joe and Sparky, came from?

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7. Who won EDDIE"S WAR? It might be you!

Dear Readers,

This month there is a special reason why this LUCKY WINNER won the giveaway of EDDIE'S WAR. . .
Read below to find out why!

Kirkus Reviews (starred review):

Eddie’s War
 EDDIE'S WAR (reviewed on July 1, 2011)
In her first outing for children, Saller (The Subversive Copy Editor, 2009) provides a poignant look at boyhood before and during the long years of World War II.
The novel in verse is a well-worked concept, but this effort infuses new life into a genre that's become almost trite. Eddie, just 5 years old as the story begins in 1934, lives contentedly in the glorious shadow of his older brother, Thomas. A few brief vignettes capture the flavor of the pre-war years, as Eddie befriends Jozef, an immigrant his Grama calls a gypsy, who carefully scans newspapers at the library, looking for the only word he can read: the name of his home in Poland, where his wife and son still live. Eddie comes to idolize his brother’s friend, Gabe, always the most reasonable of the older boys. Eventually, Thomas and Gabe enlist as the United States enters the war, and Eddie and his parents face the trial of never knowing if Thomas will live to come home. Prejudice against Jozef forces Eddie to make a hard choice to save the beleaguered man. In spare language and remarkably short sketches, carefully selected details effectively portray well-rounded, interesting characters, from Eddie’s abusive grandfather to his evolving love interest, Sarah.
Much more an emotionally resonant coming-of-age tale than a war story, this will be an easy sell for those seeking a quick, excellent read. (Historical fiction. 11 & up)  

Sometimes it's all about LUCK & TIMING or being in the right town at the right time. Joyce and I met up for a cup of vanilla latte at a little cafe in my town, Honesdale, PA! So the WINNER of the fabulous EDDIE'S WAR by Carol Saller is none other than the award winning author of BLUE, Joyce Moyer Hostetter:
Joyce Moyer



6 Comments on Who won EDDIE"S WAR? It might be you!, last added: 8/12/2011
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8. BOOK BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION with Author Carol Saller

Dear Readers,

Please join me in celebrating the release of Eddie's War with author Carol Saller. This book will be a special treasure for many of you, because it's historical fiction set in the USA Heartland from 1934-1944. I have a copy setting on my desk to giveaway!  I LOVE this book! 

In this post, Carol shares from the heart about her long journey to publication--I know it will touch your heart the way it did mine! Congratulations, Carol! 



Carol Saller

Bio: Carol Fisher Saller, the author of  a new middle-grade novel Eddie’s War, copyedits scholarly books at the University of Chicago Press and is the editor of the Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A. In the past she has worked as an editor of children’s books and has published several books for children in addition to a book for adults, The Subversive Copy Editor . You can read more about Carol and Eddie's War at www.carolsaller.com.



Review Clip of Eddie's War

Eddie’s War
 
 “A poignant look at boyhood before and during the long years of World War II.... Much more an emotionally resonant coming-of-age tale than a war story, this will be an easy sell for those seeking a quick, excellent read.” —Kirkus Revie

23 Comments on BOOK BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION with Author Carol Saller, last added: 8/2/2011
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9. Who won NAAMAH and the ARK at NIGHT? Could it be you?

Look what Naamah’s done!


amzn.to/p2NyxU


Starred review: Horn Book. “A lovely lullaby, in a beautiful, masterfully integrated book.”
Starred review: Kirkus. “This captivating interpretation creates a remarkable partner for Noah, who uses her special talent in a memorable way.”
What others say:
School Library Journal. “In an author’s note, Bartoletti explains the Arabic poetic form, the ghazal, that inspired the structure of her poetry. Young listeners who hear her bedtime verse will be aware only of its soothing rhythm carrying them to the final ‘Hush hush hush, good night.’”
Publisher’s Weekly. “It’s a story of quiet confidence and comfort, during trials of truly biblical proportions, as well as a gentle bedtime book.”

 Dear Readers, 

Thank you for joining Susan and me for her pre-book celebration and for sharing your intelligent and thoughtful comments! You get **stars**, too, for being so loyal and supportive!

And now the super lucky winner of  Naamah and the Ark at Night: Take a bow, SIOUX!

Sioux, Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com with your mailing address and the autographed book will be on its way to you asap! I hate to part with the book, but my copy will be on it's way August 9th when the book is finally released.

Next up is a book birthday giveaway--Historical fiction, a novel in verse, set in the heartland during WWII. It's splendid, I think!

Don't forget to visit Susan's web-site: www.scbartoletti.com  

7 Comments on Who won NAAMAH and the ARK at NIGHT? Could it be you?, last added: 8/1/2011
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10. Interview with Susan Campbell Bartoletti -- Newbery Honor Award Winning Author

Dear Reader,

It is such a great honor to introduce you to my long-time and treasured friend, the Award Winning author, Susan Campbell Bartoletti. www.scbartoletti.com   As Susan says, we were babies together, but what she means by that is baby writers. How lucky for me to grow up with this author!


Susan gives so much of her time and expertise to the writing community and to our children through her books. Please join me now in celebrating her newest title, Naamah and the Ark at Night.  amzn.to/p2NyxU



What was the source of the inspiration for your soon-to –be-released picture book, Naamah and the Ark at Night?
A very old wooden ark that sits on a shelf in my dining room.
As a little girl, when I visited my grandmother – my father’s mother – I played with the ark. I lined up the animals, two by two, and boarded them safely. I imagined the falling rain. The rising floodwaters. The ark tossing and turning on the churning sea. The screaming and crying people Noah left behind, pounding the gangway door, begging to be let on.
Okay, I’m just kidding about that last sentence, but this part is true: I was a very impressionable child. To this day, I remember clearly a coloring book illustration that depicted the terrified men and women Noah didn’t allow on the ark. And I was supposed to do what? Color it with my crayons? Colorize their terror? That illustration haunted me.

Can you share something about the character of Naamah, Noah’s wife?
One day, I found that my imagination turned to Noah’s wife.
In the King James Version of Genesis, we’re told Noah was a just man, full of grace.
But what about his

30 Comments on Interview with Susan Campbell Bartoletti -- Newbery Honor Award Winning Author, last added: 7/22/2011
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11. THE LUCKY WINNER of THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS

Dear Readers,

I didn't intend to lie about WHEN I was going to announce the winner of debut author Shannon Wiersbitzky's  www.shannonwiersbitzky.com first novel, the summer of hammers and angels for middle grade readers, but, alas, that's the way it turned out. Sometimes, LIFE makes other plans for us, and I'm sure you are all well-versed in sudden interruptions that delay your best laid plans and goals. But I'm here now, and eager to ANNOUNCE the LUCKY WINNER!

First, I wanted to share a terrific review of  the summer of hammers and angels from KIRKUS:

 THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS
Author: Wiersbitzky, Shannon
Publisher: namelos
Angels in the form of members of the First Congregational Church of Christ come to Delia Burns' rescue after lightning strikes her house, leaving her mother in a coma and Delia trying to do the long list of repairs left by the inspector who has condemned her home.
Set in Tucker's Ferry, W.V., this idealized picture of small-town cooperation recalls a simpler time. There are no electronic devices beyond the television in the corner of her mother's hospital room and no chain stores with computerized inventories. There is also little supervision of the children: hard-working, resourceful Delia, her flighty friend, Mae, and mean Tommy Parker, who turns out to be both helpful and handy with tools. Delia’s age is never given, but the first-person narration reflects her innocence and naïveté. Thanks to summer Bible camp she knows something about religion. She wonders about the efficacy of prayer and the existence of angels. She hasn't gone regularly to church like the Parkers, neighbors who take her in after the lightning strike, but her conversion is swift. After two weeks of porch carpentry, ivy-pulling and screen-mending, she’s ready to ask for help, which arrives in true feel-good fashion.

The heartwarming conclusion is an unlikely miracle, but it is entirely in keeping with the flavor of this nostalgic story, which will leave readers hungry for fried chicken and Coke from glass bottles. (Fiction. 9-13)
---Kirkus Reviews   www.kirkusreviews.com
                             * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The LUCKY WINNER of The Summer of Hammers and Angels is: KRISTIN GRAY
Congratulations, Kristin. I know you'll give this book a good home! Please e-mail me [claragillowclark(at)gmail(dot)com] with your mailing address, and the book will go out to you asap!

Please take a moment to congratulate Kristin! You, dear reader, may be the lucky winner next time!

And next up will be an interview with the award w

4 Comments on THE LUCKY WINNER of THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS, last added: 7/11/2011
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12. BOOK BIRTHDAY with Debut Author Shannon Wiersbitzky

Dear Readers,

It's always exciting to introduce a debut author and her first book. To help celebrate her extra special day, Shannon has generously donated an autographed, hardcover copy of her gorgeous book, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, to one very lucky reader who leaves a comment (see jacket and link below). Please give Shannon a warm welcome! She's written a post filled with writing gems just for you!


A brief bio: Shannon Wiersbitzky was born in North Dakota, but grew up in West Virginia, Florida, and Minnesota before her parents finally settled down on the East Coast. Her days have three clear parts, writing, “regular” work, and family. Shannon lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two young sons. This is her first novel. Learn more about Shannon at www.shannonwiersbitzky.com

****
My first novel, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, officially launches today.  Hooray!  If we were all together, I’d be sure to offer you a drink and an appetizer.

The book tells the story of a young girl, Delia, and a summer that starts off about as bad as any summer could. An inspector threatens to condemn her house and her Mama is struck by lightning. To make matters worse, with no other family to speak of, Delia is forced to move in with her neighbor, Tommy "as-dense-as-a-stump" Parker.

With her best friend, Mae, and Tommy (but only because he seems handy), Delia resolves to tackle the long list of repairs, one by one. What she discovers is that it takes more than energy and willingness to handle some problems. When things go from bad to worse, Delia has to take another tack, one that starts with admitting she just can't do what needs to b

15 Comments on BOOK BIRTHDAY with Debut Author Shannon Wiersbitzky, last added: 7/3/2011
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13. ***CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER - SPILLING INK**

Dear Readers,


Every now and then you find a special piece of writing--special because it is written with honest emotion and heart. Those are the reasons why this piece by 7th grader Maren Huelsman was chosen for First Place--our Grand Prize Winner. (*Entries were published without correction by me or the teachers who submitted.)

Maren won $25 cash awarded by me, an autographed copy of  SPILLING INK by the writing team, Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter, an autographed copy of  Slob by Ellen Potter, The Sundown Rule (April featured title) by Wendy Townsend, an Olivia Kidney title from Anne Mazer's series, and publication on my blog. Here now, is Maren Huelsman's winning entry:


Mission Cheetah
By: Maren Huelsman
                                                           Teacher: Emily Kling

I love cats. I’ve always dreamed about owning one; but not just any cat, the fastest and most elegant cat in the world, a cheetah. I know it’s crazy to even think a city girl like me would be able to have a cheetah. But they’re so amazing, graceful, and best of all, fast. These quiet animals stealthily stalk their prey while the only sound they make is a quaint chirp, no growl or roar.
I often daydream about ways to get a cheetah. My first idea was to break in at night and steal one from the zoo. The poor creatures couldn’t possibly be happy so I’d be saving them, right? Then I thought I’d go to Africa and rescue an orphaned cub from the wild. Unfortunately, the $200 in my bank account wouldn’t even come close to covering the expenses for that plan. I needed a realistic strategy.
One day my mom showed me an article in the paper about a nearby exotic animal rescue that had just acquired six new cheetah cubs. Could I find my cheetah here? These places had little security. It would take them a while to notice a missing cub. Armed with my best friend’s cat carrier and a str

8 Comments on ***CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GRAND PRIZE WINNER - SPILLING INK**, last added: 6/2/2011
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14. ***The FABULOUS 2nd Place WINNER *** SPILLING INK CONTEST

Dear Readers,

Please give a warm welcome to our Fabulous 2nd Place WINNER, **Katharine C. Ruegger**, an astonishing young woman from the mid-west whose entry "A Plataduck is Man's Best Friend" was chosen for its originality and humor. This girl is going to go far! Katharine won $15 cash and received  autographed books from Anne Mazer, K.L.Going, and Clara Gillow Clark! Please leave a comment to congratulate this rising star! Please read the special note at the end. THANK YOU!

   !!!!CONGRATULATIONS  TO YOU, KATHARINE!!!!

Katharine G. Ruegger, a seventh grader, is an ecstatic little actress who love love loves anything having to do with the arts. Pursuing her dramatic career, she has performed at various professional theatres in shows such as King & I, Seussical, Oliver!, Once Upon A Mattress and Once On This Island. Katharine also enjoys competing in tennis matches, performing in her local Civic theatre's performing troupe "Act One," volunteering at local humane shelters, cooking, and hanging around with her theatre family. Katharine's favorite book is (at the moment) Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis, though she will always have an absolute obsession with anything and everything Dr. Seuss. Kat's favorite subjects include English, Music, and Drama, which she insists is, despite the excessive arts cutting in schools, is a subject.



Katharine G. Ruegger
Grade 7
Teacher:  Troy Cockrum
Prompt #3

 
                   
  "A Plataduck is a Man's Best Friend"

    You see, I have a slight problem. My best friend… doesn't exist. He doesn't talk, either. My plataduck Alphie…he's invisible. Well, for right now he is. I intend to change this. Mom says plataducks aren't real, and so does Dad. At school, people laugh at me. The science teacher yelled at me. Once they see Alphie, this will all change.
             
    I've got a plan. No, I won't go to an exotic breeder, they just abuse animals. I'll do something different. I'll create my own plataduck. Now, I know it sounds outrageous, but a couple days ago at the park, this strange old man in lederhosen gave me some magic beans. No, not like Jack's beans…but wishing beans. I've always been a sucker for magic, and hey, if I get my pet, I'll be happy. It's just a matter of materials.

  
  I've been working with this theory for over a month now, but I just recently put it into action. Inside the beans… there's a genie. You can probably guess what this means. But it's a bean, not a lamp, so only one wish. And what would I do? My obvious level is bursting. I'll wish for my devious little Alphie. And guess what? There, in mid flying-mid swimming position will stand my wish, my absolute dream...Alfie, the plataduck.


*Special thanks go to Katharine's teacher, Mr. Troy Cockrum for all his help. Thank you, Mr. Cockrum! 
 

8 Comments on ***The FABULOUS 2nd Place WINNER *** SPILLING INK CONTEST, last added: 5/27/2011
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15. SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST ***3rd Place WINNERS***

Dear Readers,

A Short Note about this contest: All through my school years, I never remember anyone teaching us anything about writing stories. We had to write spelling words in sentences and do book reports and essays. The essays always seemed to be connected to major tests or final exams. However, I did write poetry in high school, and because of that, I think, I received the Creative Writing Award at graduation. I still have the envelope that says Clara Gillow was the recipient. Over the years when the writing days were very hard and publication seemed out of my reach, I'd take out the envelope and read those words again.

I know how hard it is to be a writer and I also know how great it feels to hold a published book in your hands that has your name on it. One of the reasons I persisted through years of rejection came from the generosity of that giver who made a Creative Writing Award possible.  My hope is that this writing contest will do the same for all  the talented young writers who shared their stories. Congratulations to all of you. Write on!

Without further ado, please welcome and applaud the TWO **3rd Place WINNERS** Luke Mayhew and Emma Borme.

Luke's Bio in his own words: "I am in 7th grade. I don't think I can choose one favorite book, but I really like "Brian's Winter" by Gary Paulsen. My favorite subject in school is Math but I also like History. I love playing board games, and designing my own board games. 'You can be anybody and do anything in a board game,' I always say. I also made my own secret language!

Thanks for everything!"  [You are very welcome, Luke!]

Rebellion
By: Luke Mayhew
274 Words

    Joshua walked down the street, wondering if the rumors of the rebellion against King Marthael were true.  Suddenly a man materialized next to him.
     He hastily pulled a small box from underneath his dark cloak. “Here! Take this and don’t let anything happen to it!”
     Joshua looked down at a small, crude wooden box with rough edges. He opened his mouth to ask the man what was inside, but he had vanished from sight.
     Joshua opened the box. Tucked inside a leather pouch was a golden ring imprinted with the image of a falcon. 
     “No,”Joshua whispered “Not the king’s ring! If the rebels get their hands on this they can impersonate King Marthael!”
      Joshua sprinted through the town square, thinking only that he had to reach the castle as quickly as possible.
A soldier on patrol saw the box. His eyes widened. “Stop!”
Joshua ran behind buildings and through shops until he eluded the soldier

7 Comments on SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST ***3rd Place WINNERS***, last added: 5/20/2011
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16. ***Annoucning the WINNERS of the Spilling Ink Writing Contest***

Dear Young Authors and Readers,

Thank you for your patience while we made our lists and checked them more than twice! We've now come to a final decision.

It was wonderful to review so many wonderful entries for the contest and to see so much promise in the work of  the Young Authors who submitted. I applaud the work of each and every one of you. Thank you so much for for being a part of the SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE OUTSTANDING  ***WINNERS!***


First prize: $25 Cash prize and autographed books by Anne Mazer, Ellen Potter, and Wendy Townsend, plus publication on my blog awarded to Maren Huelsman for "Mission Cheetah". Chosen for being well-structured, engaging, and written with heart!

2nd prize: $15  Cash Prize, and autographed books by Anne Mazer, K.L.Going, and Clara Gillow Clark, plus publication on my blog awarded to Katharine G. Ruegger for "A Plataduck is a Man's Best Friend". Chosen for is originality and humor.

3rd prize (2 winners):  $10 Cash Cash Prize each, an autographed book by Clara Gillow Clark (that's me), and publication on my blog awarded to Luke Mayhew for "Rebellion". Chosen for being a tight, well-written story; and to Emma Borme for "Swiss Rolls". Chosen for her excellent storytelling skills.
 
And I decided to give add 3, 4th place prizes: $5 dollars each, and an autographed book by Clara Gillow Clark awarded to Anna Lee Hafer, Kate Reifenberg, and Myra Miller.

Honorable mention: 
Caitlin Tiger
Delia Novak
Tanner Waltz
Mahalya Roscoe
Jack Quigley
Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word and to all the teachers, parents, librarians, and fellow authors who encouraged the young authors! Congratulations to one and all! 
 
Teachers, parents, students, Please e-mail me with the name and address where the prizes should be sent!   claragillowclark@gmail.com  

Please take a moment to congratulate these outstanding young authors! Their stories will be published on my blog throughout the month!




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17. Part V Boys of Wartime -- Discovering America's Past through Historical Fiction

Dear Readers,

Please welcome my dear friend, Laurie Calkhoven. She's a veteran in the industry, so you won't want to miss this inside look at how her historical fiction series was born, her background research, her writing process, and much more!
Laurie has generously donated two autographed books that will be featured in the next several posts. As always, simply leave a comment for a chance to win, and random.org will pick the winner!We LOVE hearing from you!
Author Laurie Calkhoven
Bio: Laurie Calkhoven has always loved reading and writing (arithmetic is another story). She’s especially interested in the intersection between big moments in American history and the lives of ordinary people. That’s how the Boys of Wartime series was born. She is also the author of middle grade biographies and other nonfiction books for kids along with contemporary novels in American Girl’s new Innerstar University series.
She watched too many That Girl reruns as a child and decided she HAD to live in New York City. She made a beeline for Manhattan right out of college and has lived there ever since. She doesn’t have nearly as many madcap adventures as That Girl, but she has a nice life.
 Read more about Laurie and purchase her books here:  http://www.amazon.com/Laurie-Calkhoven/e/B001H6EU2U/ref=sr_tc_ep?qid=1299696322

Laurie Calkhoven  shares about her Research:

I love doing research. I love the twists and turns it can take. I love putting on my detective hat to find a particularly hard-to-find nugget of information. And I love that collections of facts can fire up my imagination to the point where I’m creating characters and worlds for them to live in.

I approach the research for each of my historical novels pretty much the same way, so I’ll discuss Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 as an example. I began with broad historical overviews, books and documentaries, about the entire war.

I decided to focus in on the Battle of Gettysburg for a couple of reasons. It was a pivotal battle that changed the course of the war. It was also fought in the streets and homes of Gettysburg’s citizens. I knew that I could put a 12-year-old boy in the

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18. Interview with Laurie Calhoven -- PART VI Discovering America's Past

Dear Reader,

Thank you for joining Laurie and me for this informative interview about the writing and research of her books, Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1776, and her hot-off-the-press, Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863.  Teachers, writers, librarians, and readers young and old will discover history coming to life for them in the pages of Laurie's books. They are especially good picks for reluctant readers, as well as filling an important gap in textbooks. Visit Laurie's website: www.lauriecalkhoven.com

Laurie just returned from hosting an American Girl tea party at the University of Arizona Bookstore and speaking on a panel about Boys of Wartime at the Tucson Festival of Books.

Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1776: Twelve-year old Daniel watches as Redcoat soldiers close the harbor and march through the streets The British have sworn to uphold the king's law . . . and to punish the rebels of Boston. But Daniel knows those rebels: they are Patriots. His heroes have vowed to fight for freedom, whatever the cost. And Daniel is determined to help. Check out the Boys of Wartime page for more info.

INTERVIEW WITH LAURIE CALKHOVEN:


1. Can you tell us something about the historical fiction series you're writing for middle grade readers? What was the catalyst for this series?

I got the idea for the first book, Daniel at the Siege of Boston, 1776, while I was researching a biography of George Washington. If I learned about the siege in school, I had forgotten all about it. It’s a key event in the American Revolution—beginning at the end of the Battles of Lexington and Concord and ending a year later. It was during that year that we declared independence and the various colonial militias came together as an army under Washington. What I really wondered about was what life was like for the people of Boston during that year, and I wanted to find out more. The next thing I knew, a boy name Daniel started telling me about his secret spy work for General Washington.
I didn’t have time to put anything down on paper, but I mentioned my idea to Mark McVeigh at Dutton. He asked me to put together a proposal for that book and three more—each one set in a different war, and the series was born. Book two, Will at the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 was just published. The third book, set in World War Two France, will follow in 2012.

2. What were some of the challenges you encountered when researching and/or writing in the different time periods—1776,1863, and 1943.

The biggest challenge in researching all three time periods was findin

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19. Laurie's Writing Meditation and Winners Announced

Dear Readers,

A special treat is in store for you today, even if your name wasn't chosen by random.org! In addition to the two autographed books Laurie donated as a giveaway, she's graciously shared her writing meditation, because so many of you asked about it! Here it is:

Author Laurie Calkhoven
Laurie says . . .  Thanks for the interest in my meditations. I'm putting together a workshop and would love to present it at SCBWI retreats. The meditations themselves are pretty simple -- I relax, breathe deeply, and envision my character coming near me and eventually taking over.

Then I turn over a card on my desk and freewrite to prompts like -- who named your character and how does he/she feel about the name? Your character is having a strong memory involving a parent--what is it? Your character can't sleep because he's obsessing about something -- what?

The element of surprise is important, so the prompts are face down. The first few are based on the Stanislavsky acting method, and I've added more over the years -- like what's in your character's treasure box? Read more about Laurie and her books: www.lauriecalkhoven.com


 You'll also want to check out Laurie's excellent biography of George Washington. It's perfect for middle grade readers and the paperback sells for a mere $5.95!  Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Sterling-Biographies-George-Washington-American/dp/1402735464/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1300794895&sr=1-4 
 Book description from amazon.com
“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen”—and first in the minds of schoolchildren, who learn about George Washington as soon as they begin studying American history. From Washington’s Virginia childhood, through his days as a soldier and general, to his inauguration as the first President of the brand-new United States, and into retirement, this biography captures the full breadth and achievements of his life. It covers both the personal and the private, reveals his views on everything from governmental power to the abolition of slavery, and separates fascinating truth from well-worn legend—including that infamous, but false, tale about chopping down the cherry tree.

Now it's time to

12 Comments on Laurie's Writing Meditation and Winners Announced, last added: 3/25/2011
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20. Part VII -- Discovering America's Past through Historical Fiction

Dear Readers,

BLUE
Thank you for joining us for this new installment in the Historical Fiction series which features Award winning author, Joyce Moyer Hostetter. Joyce will be featured the next couple of weeks, and she's graciously donating an autographed copy of her award winning book, BLUE, and will personalize and mail it directly to the winner! For a chance to win all you have to do is leave a comment about this post or the interview coming up next week.

Joyce grew up in rural North Carolina. After a brief struggle with Dick, Jane, and Sally in first grade, she became an avid reader. Her middle grade Language Arts teacher told her she's be a great writer some day so she began working hard to live up to that challenge. She is the author of four historical novels with several in progress. Her book BLUE about a North Carolina polio epidemic won the International Reading Association Children's Book Award in addition to other honors. Joyce has always loved history and she's crazy about research. Now,  Joyce shares a brief but warm and engaging essay about her research . . .


Joyce Moyer Hostetter


WHEN RESEARCH FEELS SINFULLY DELICIOUS
By Joyce Moyer Hostetter

I sometimes say that my favorite sin is trespassing. You know, poking around abandoned houses, old barns, and vacated mill villages. I love sniffing out history while entertaining the notion that I’m not really supposed to be there. The place I’m entering belongs to someone else.  And I don’t just mean who owns that particular bit of real estate (although a certain rush comes with the knowledge that an owner might be watching.)

But in addition, I know that people have lived out entire lives in these places.  They woke up in the dark and walked to work and ate off of that chipped plate lying in the corner. A mother drew water out of that well every day, welcomed babies in the upstairs room, and buried loved ones out back.

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21. Part VIII Interview -- Discovering America's Past through Historical Fiction

Dear Readers,

Wasn't Joyce's confession of  her research feeling deliciously sinful a treat? She's back now with more delicious insights about her writing and research process. Joyce learned this past week that her book, Comfort, is being released in paperback this fall! Congratulations, Joyce!

Be sure to check out her links and books at the end of the interview, and please take a moment to post a comment about her interview or to congratulate her on Comfort going to paperback this fall. I know that a lot of you are history lovers, so we'd also love to learn what children's book written or set in the 1940's is a favorite with you!  Thanks so much! The WINNER of  the autographed copy of BLUE will be announced next week along with details for the "2nd Annual Spilling Ink Writing Contest". Now, here's Joyce . . .


Joyce Moyer Hostetter
1.  What drew you to this time period—WWII on the home front? In the American South?  
 I was raised in the American south so I think it was inevitable that I would eventually write a story set here. But I was actually working on a 19th century Hawaii story when I met Editor, Carolyn Yoder at a writing conference. After getting her feedback on that manuscript, I signed up for a history writing workshop with her (one of those fabulous Highlights Foundation Founders Workshops!). Before going, I received an assignment to research and begin writing about local history.  I contacted my county’s history museum for some ideas, discovered the polio epidemic, and as a result, BLUE was born.

I also have an affinity for the ‘40s.  I think that’s because it is the era of my parent’s marriage and the establishment of our family so even though I wasn’t born in the 40’s I do feel rooted in them.
 
2. What were some of the challenges you encountered when researching and/or writing about a time period that encompassed a World War, a polio epidemic, and racism?
I think my biggest challenge was getting past my own fear of the process.  It takes a certain amount of courage to contact total strangers and probe into their painful life experiences.  And at that point I didn’t have a strong book to put into people’s hands to demonstrate that I could actually write.  I believed I could do it but I wasn’t sure they would have reason to bother with me. From researching BLUE, I learned that people are typically eager to share their experience and knowledge with anyone who will listen. I realized that my interest in their stories is validating for them.  Since then, I have practiced probi

22 Comments on Part VIII Interview -- Discovering America's Past through Historical Fiction, last added: 4/10/2011
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22. Who is the Lucky Winner of BLUE -- Plus Upcoming Spilling INK Writing Contest

Dear Readers, 

Announcing the winner is always an exciting moment for me, but first I'm announcing the long awaited for news of the 2nd Annual Spilling Ink Creative Writing Contest for grades 4-8. Last year was such a successful and satisfying event, that we're doing it again. All details about the contest, the judges, and the MANY prizes will be announced on Friday, April 15th, right here on my blog. Hope you'll spread the word to the budding authors in your life!

And now, announcing the winner of BLUE by  Award Winning Joyce Moyer Hostetter:

BLUE

Joyce Moyer Hostetter
The LUCKY Winner is:
***Lorrie Ziemba***

 **Congratulations**

Lorrie, Please e-mail me: claragillowclark(@)gmail(.) com with your mailing address ASAP, and Joyce will have your book in the mail to you this week!

Be sure to check out Joyce's wonderful blog and web-site if you haven't already!
http://joycemoyerhostetter.com http://www.joycemoyerhostetter.blogspot.com


Watch for the details of  the Spilling Ink Writing Contest coming your way on FRIDAY, April 15th! 
Please take a moment to congratulate the WINNER of BLUE.  THANK YOU!  

8 Comments on Who is the Lucky Winner of BLUE -- Plus Upcoming Spilling INK Writing Contest, last added: 4/12/2011
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23. Interview with SPILLING INK CONTEST judge, Wendy Townsend

Dear Readers,

Please join me in welcoming one of the judge's for the contest, my good friend and esteemed colleague, Wendy Townsend. Wendy was recently featured in Kirkus Book Review Journal. Her book garnered a starred review, a personal interview, and her book jacket on the cover of the journal! Congratulations, Wendy! You'll learn more about Wendy in the SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST coming up right here on Friday! Wendy is donating an autographed copy of her book, SUNDOWN RULES for the Spilling Ink Writing Young Author Writing Contest for grades 4-8.

Your comments are always appreciated! Thanks so much for joining us for this mid-week post!

The Lure of Bare Feet in Mud

by Jenny Brown on March 25, 2011 | Children's
Wendy Townsend spent her childhood summers near Michigan’s Marl Lake, home to 12-year-old Louise, the narrator of her latest novel, The Sundown Rule. Louise is inseparable from her cat, Cash. She also provides food to the nearby crows and rescues baby animals. When her father leaves Brazil on a nature-writing assignment, Louise must spend the summer with her highly allergic Aunt Kay and Uncle Jack in the suburbs—and leave Cash behind. Like Louise, Townsend finds solace in nature. Here the author discusses nature’s profound effect on humans and the dangers of severing that connection.
Check out more books about children and the wild world.
Louise tells readers what she’s thinking through her observations and her senses. Do you naturally write in such a spare way?
I haven’t always liked to write. I started out writing articles for nature magazines and co-authored a care guide [for iguanas] with a veterinarian. I’ve kept large iguanas since I was 8 years old. I thought fiction would be a better way to say what I wanted to say about the value of animals to us as human beings. [My editor] Stephen Roxburgh is a great teacher in terms of economy of language. I wanted to step inside the child character and write as a witness of what was going on—to get out of my head, into a place of seeing and smelling and hearing.
You’re also nonjudgmental when it comes to animals. Louise knows, for instance, that crows steal other birds’ hatchlings but “loved the crows anyway.”
I want people to rethink how they look at animals, especially crows, snakes, bugs and spiders, as if there’s no sentience there and no society. They do have society. They have a lot to teach us. I found my grounding and my security at a very early age with those animals and in nature. When you’re standing in a pond with your bare feet in mud, that’s about as good as it gets and as safe as you can feel.
When Louise becomes friends with Sarah, Sarah’s father also becomes an important ally for Louise. He has that insightful response when Louise describes missing Cash: “Animals give us something special, don’t they? Something people can’t.”
It is an inchoate thing. The word that comes to mind is “wonder.” Animals do look at us as much as we look at them. Maybe even more. As a species, we are alone on the planet in many ways. We’ve put ourselves there. People who have pets or working farms do have companionship with nature. John Berger wrote an essay called, “Why look at animals?” He says that “With their parallel lives, animals offer companionship… to the loneliness of man as a species.” That has always resonated with me.

10 Comments on Interview with SPILLING INK CONTEST judge, Wendy Townsend, last added: 4/15/2011
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24. Spilling Ink Writing Contest for Young Authors

It's The 2nd Annual SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST for Grades 4-8


It's spring and we're jumping right into a writing extravaganza  using  the fabulous book SPILLING INK co-authored by the dynamic writing team, Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter. SPILLING INK is a humorous and inspiring book of advice, questions, and writing prompts for young writers. I'm holding a copy in my hand right now that's been donated by Anne and will be sent to the 1st place WINNER of the Contest (along with other prizes). YOUNG AUTHORS can purchase a copy of their own through Scholastic at a very affordable price!
You'll definitely want to check out the web-site for the book. Here's the link: http://spillinginkthebook.com/   Just click and go! By the way, even if you're not a teen or tween, you'll find a lot of good advice in Spilling Ink that will inspire you. Ever have trouble with sub-plots? Need I say more?

First, you'll read about the authors who are participating, and then you'll learn all the prizes and how to enter this fabulous contest!
Just in case you don't already know the FANTASTIC authors who have donated books for the contest, here's a little bit about them:

Anne Mazer is the author of over forty books for young readers, including the award-winning The Salamander Room, the Sister Magic series, and the bestselling The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes series. Her favorite thing about being a writer is being able to write in the middle of the night in her pajamas. I've known Anne for twenty years, and she is amazing and lots of fun. She sparkles!

Learn more about Anne here: www.annemazerbooks.com





Ellen Potter is the author of the award-winning middle-grade Olivia Kidney series, as well as the middle-grade novels Pish Posh and Slob. Ellen's favorite thing about being a writer is that she gets to spend the day with Mongolian yak herders, psychics, and bank-robbing wood sprites without ever leaving her house.

Learn more about Ellen here: http://www.ellenpot

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25. SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST ***IMPORTANT MESSAGE***

Dear Readers,

I have to delay announcing the winners of the writing contest. We had so many excellent entries that it's going to take a little longer to make the final decision. The first cut has been made, and the judges have narrowed the contenders to 13. If you're reading this, I hope you're one of the 13. 

My very best wishes go out to all of you. Please be patient. We'll get back to you asap! Thank you!

Clara 

2 Comments on SPILLING INK WRITING CONTEST ***IMPORTANT MESSAGE***, last added: 5/9/2011
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