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Where parents and children's writers come together, with the goal of finding or writing books that HOOK reluctant readers - especially BOYS!
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Welcome to my contribution to

The talented Clara Bowman-Jahn tagged me to join this intriguing Blog Tour on WRITING PROCESSES. Each week, authors post answers to four Writing Process Questions on their blogs. Then they tag friends to play along the following week. You can read Clara’s terrific post, and learn what she's working on, right here. You can also see what’s going on with Clara and her books on Facebook - right here.

Bellow, find my answers (after much head scratching) to the four set questions. At the bottom of the page you'll find the names of  talented writers who’ll carry the “Writing Answers Torch”for next week - Monday the 21st of April.

What am I working on?
Aha, I am getting ready to self publish a picture book that is near and dear to my heart. “Dreamtime Man” was first written many years ago – just scribbled down, and then put aside when more pressing works grabbed my attention.  I would bring it out every so often and rework the rhyme, tweak the meter, and reinvent a verse or two – a rhyming story.  I never forgot it - but life got in the way. This is a tale of bad deeds and tribal suffering:  of how the aboriginal people of Australia were treated when the white man arrived– and after! For this story, near enough was not good enough. I wanted it perfect . . . and perfect takes longer than I imagined. Finally, I was ready  for an illustrator.   
I found
Ioana Zdraleaon Linkedin.  After reading Dreamtime Man, and a few words from me, she GOT it – the outback colors, the “feel,” and a wonderful sense of what my verses needed to tell about.  I am eager to see her sketches for verse #2.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I grew up Down Under, in the state of Queensland.  They used to grow a lot of bananas there when I was young, so I was called a Banana-lander.  Aussies have a barefaced independence, a way of thumbing their noses at anything that smells of “set in stone”rules. I think my writing voice shows this.  I also like to mix humor and dire trouble in my young teen books.  Life is full of awful situations that are made bearable by the ability to laugh at yourself.  If kids learn this early, it will make life for them easier to handle.  And even though I now live in the US with my family, my Aussie upbringing still holds sway.  You know the old saying, “You can take the sheila outa OZ, but you can’t take the Aussie outa the Sheila!”

Why do I write what I do?

 I write what comes to me in the middle of the night, when my head hits the pillow and I should be snoring.  I guess if erotic ideas chased me into the bathroom at night, begging to be jotted down, I would write best selling erotica and make a bundle!!  BUMMER!  Unfortunately, my brain seems to generate pictures of Aussie adventures, and assorted animals that beg to be written about .  And I can’t imagine Thelma Hill (from The Revenge of Thelma Hill ) doing anything even faintly “naughty.”  She is modeled after my mother for goodness sake!  She does sport the see through filmy gowns, but rattling bones and a musty basement are not conducive to anything vaguely erotic – unless you are REALLY kinky! 

So, I’m stuck writing about ghosts, families separated by an ocean,
Aussie adventures, and picture books with assorted critters, dyslexic boys, rattlesnakes, and grizzly bears.  And as always, the big bucks will pour down onto those who dream up exotic doings.  Sigh. . .

 How does my writing process work?

 Next morning I bring all those nighttime notes to my writing den and see what has real possibilities.  Or, if there’s an idea that beefs up a plot or character I am working on, I slip it into place with a sigh of relief.  Some books almost write themselves.  Others have characters it is hard to pin down, or plots that are always wandering away on their own.  Guess they caught the Aussie independence virus from me.  I have to admit that Down Under Calling was a book that wrote itself.  It poured from me like a river in flood.  The characters are all fictional, but the tales and remembrances that Grandma Rose wrote about to her grandson, Andy, all came from my childhood or my dear mother. It was as if Mom were looking over my shoulder.  A joy to write - and I do hope readers love it as much as I loved writing it.
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Website  -   Books on Amazon   -   Hook Kids on Reading    -    Facebook  (like)   -   Twitter
 SKYPE Makes it Happen (FREE Author Visits)


WHO'S UP NEXT MONDAY! – April 21st 2014.
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AGY WILSON - writer/Illustrator
NOTE:  Agy did the cover art on two of my young teen books.  I named her "Awesome Agy" for a good reason!
Agy loves her family, art, environment, history, calligraphy and all things language. It's only natural for her to throw it into a huge pot and cook up her books. When she is not playing with kids or pets, Agy is usually immersing myself in her work. She is currently working on a coloring book suitable for all ages, and a few more projects - picture books, and beginning readers/chapter books, are included.

*Duke Day for Annie:  available on Amazon, Kindle and hardcopy. 2014
*Nana's Gift: available on Amazon, Kindle and hardcopy. 2012.
*Room Wars: available on Amazon Kindle.  Short story. 2011 
Facebook Fanpage:  https://www.facebook.com/agywilsonwork?ref=hl
Duke Day forAnnie: https://www.facebook.com/dukedayforannie?ref=hl
Website and blog : www.agywilson.com


DONNA SHEPHERD:Donna Shepherd's children's books, Topsy Turvy Land, No More Gunk! & OUCH! Sunburn!, Chizzy's Topsy Tale, Dotty's Topsy Tale, Poodle and Doodle, Sully's Topsy Tale, Bradybug, and Where is Salami? feature short, playful rhymes and humorous illustrations. Be sure to look for the items hidden in each picture by the imaginative artists.

Her newest book for children, Ava's Secret Tea Party, is her first 'girly' book with an old-fashioned fairy tale, hidden teacups and cookies, and recipes and crafts. Available in both paperback and hardcover. Donna is founder of Greater Harvest Workshops and Middletown Area Christian Writers, and in demand as a Bible teacher, conference speaker, and singer with over thirty years of experience.  For writing tips, useful links, and updates about Donna's books, visit her Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/donnajshepherd


Books for Kids  - Manuscript Critiques
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<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->  My “Dreamtime Man” is taking shape
  A rhyming picture book for grades 4 and up

Illustrator, Ioana Zdralea, did an awesome job of interrupting this wild and mysterious Dreamtime land.  I am thrilled!!  This is the illo she sent me  for the first two verses. The verses describe the harshness of where the Australian aboriginals had to scratch out a living, 

  Do go see Ioana’s other art work:


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Imagine a wild place where sun burns the sand,
Where water and food must be scratched from the land.
This place is the wellspring of men black as coal,
And Dreamtime ruled all who endured as one soul.    

While shy Daintree tribes hunted deep in the shade,
Tough bush and outback men learned how to trade.                     
Whether hunting, or fighting, or struggling to live,
All respected the Dreamtime and what it could give.     


More sketches and finished artwork will
come to this page soon.




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Manuscript Critiques





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As Promo Queen,
I Officially Dub this

(Guardian Angel Publishing)

GAP is my publisher of record - PB and Young Teen.
(that is when I’m not self publishing ) 

Many awesome happenings there this week.

( April Issue )

FREE fun and learning for your kids.


Guardian Angel Publishing
March 2014 Book Releases

- Book #2 
Book Two—Join Professor Hoot as he explores more ancient arts and artifacts. The art, tools, and text represent various cultures and development from ancient eras, including fossils, too.
Lana Tries Yoga
Author & Illustrator Roey Ebert Hardcover
Follow Lana as she tries to capture the sunlight when it journeys to the 4 corners of the earth. The story centered yoga routine is simple for children to remember and fun for children to reenact.
Lily and the Return to Htrae
Author Lindsay Bonilla; Illustrator Alexander Morris
Lily returns to the darkness of Htrae to take the King’s message from the City of Light. Even though she doesn’t think she can fulfill this mission, with the help of Ruah she embarks on the difficult task of inviting others to the great forgotten city.
Real Mysterious Easter Eggs
Author: Patricia Karwatowicz, Illustrator: Kathleen Bullock
Noah and Isabela take a journey in Great Grandmother’s kitchen to discover the Easter story by coloring eggs Grandmother’s “old-timey-way.” Color meanings help them learn more about who Jesus is and who they are.
Rip the Night Engine: The Rolling Along Train Series - Book #1 Author Melanie Lutes, Illustrator Eugene Ruble
Rip, the night engine, constantly worries about his passenger’s comfort on overnight train rides. He knows bench seating is not comfortable for sleeping. His cars are redesigned as Pullman Palace cars equipped with sleeping compartments. He finally lives up to his name that means Rest In Pillows.
There's a Lion in the House
Author Mary Esparza-Vela, Illustrator Jack Foster
A young rabbit loves to tease his older brothers. He goes off into the woods by himself and boasts that he’s not afraid of anything. One night, he hears a lion roar in the house.  He tells his brothers, but they ignore him. 


 Leaving the best 'till last. . .  

There's our
ASIA Connection

Guardian Angel's indomitable, talented, and far-seeing CEO,
Lynda Burch, told us authors the following:
"I am about to sign contracts for foreign rights is Asia.
The first step will be getting our English content into
Asia as is - both ebook and print.
China has recently mandated that every child should learn to
speak English as a second language. This is great news
for us at this time. Additionally 90% of children’s
literature in China is imported from
foreign publishers!"

NOTE: That noise you hear is GAP authors and illustrators
dancing on the ceiling.



Hope to share the first illo for Dreamtime Man” with
you in my next GRAB BAG posting.

Here's an early taste of what's planned for my rhyming story about aboriginal
tribes, and how badly they were treated after the white man colonized Australia.


Books for Kids - Skype Author visits



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Your PROMO QUEEN presents:

  a GRAB Bag
of news that could be of interest. . .



Temporary picture: As soon as I have the first completed illo I will put it here.

My main news is

What is that?

My latest book!

.A picture book for older grade-school children.

It is the rhyming tale of what happened to the Australian Aboriginal tribes after the white man arrived and proceeded to take over their land. I have had this story simmering on my back burner for a number of years.  In the meantime I wrote 13 other books - some of them about Aussie animals, and several that had Australian protagonists, with even an aboriginal main character or two.

Yet the Dreamtime Man kept whispering to me from the depths of my computer.  "Come on Margot, let's get this walkabout on the march. The American Indians got their story out. Stone the crows, mate, we've waited long enough! It's a bonzer tale.  Let's DO IT!"

 I guess nagging does work, because I dug him out, dusted him off and polished until he yelled, "Jumping grasshoppers mate, I"M READY already!"

Finding the perfect illustrator was no swim in the billabong. The Aussie Outback and bush colors are unique:  bright, clear and strong - their own spectrum of blues and reds. And the aboriginal has a special look - a black Indian like figure will not cut it.  I sent bunches of pictures of it all to prospective artists, but the Dreamtime Man was not impressed. "No fear! I won't fight for my freedom in colors this those!"
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Then I found an artist on the Dreamtime wavelength.  Her first sample was not promising. But after I sent details and more pictures she came up with a sample that had the Dreamtime Man hopping with glee - like a kangaroo on steroids! The artist's name is Ioana Zdralea, and you can look at some of her diverse work here: http://ioanazdraleaillustration.wordpress.com/page/2/

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Author Visit News


April 1st 2014 - 10.30 am

Taking my Magic Carpet of Books to a first grade class in the Eastern US.

Read a story, talk about writing and how books are written,
and answer lots of class questions.




Dyslexia VIDEO

Flemming Ast is a crusader for those with Dyslexia and other reading
or learning problems. This is his latest VIDEO encouraging parents
to get their children reading well and early, and if they
need help doing this, find that help ASAP. 

He has kindly featured me and my Horatio Humble Beats the Big D -
a picture book that helps and encourages dyslexic kids and their parents.  



*There's mouthwatering YUMMY food




And LOTS more!

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Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits



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5. Introducing THE PROMO HO!

Today I am introducing my


In the past I have been a -

(time zones permitting)
(One woman book promotion)

and now 

My new persona is


You may NOW  drool over my flagship logo.

More "HOEING" to come!

I have been in training for this for years.


I want kids to READ my BOOKS



And the kids old enough to spend their pocket money to 
and thoroughly enjoy the stories I have written.


Make sense to YOU?


Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits

Hook Kids on Reading

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It's Tuesday. . . 
So watch out for


 ................................. ............................................................
Today I did a SKYPE School Visit from Oregon to the Garden State of New Jersey.

This first grade class offers three languages: 
English, Chinese and Spanish.

And these first grade kids were so SMART!

Right away I had an Aussie connection with two of them.  I shared my Australian aboriginal bark paintings, message stick and boomerang.  One boy had a didgeridoo his mom had brought back from a trip Down Under - and HE PLAYED IT FOR ME!   Fantastic.

Another child's Dad had been to Sydney, knew all about Urulu, and wanted to know what it was like there.  Fortunately I had visited the sacred monolith, so we had a great chat about it. Their teacher is also doing an Australian set of lessons.

We talked about the books they loved, the books I write, and how to write stories that HOOK readers.  I showed them all my picture books, especially "Kangaroo Clues,"  because it is about Aussie critters, and I read from "Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind."  


I am always so psyched after Skyping with a class like this one.  They were eager to ask questions, very intelligent ones, too. A way smart bunch of kids.  

My Magic Carpet of Books got a super work out this morning - over an hour.  Yet it went so fast because we were all having a good time.  I learned from them, and I hope they learned from me. 

You know. . .

 Today I glimpsed the future generation. . . 
and they looked  pretty awesome to me!



Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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Yummy versus Teacher/Classroom


What is it with you people?

With all the choices my Pinterest board offers,
the ones I get most hits on are
YUMMY (food)

HOOK Kids on Reading,
and MOTHER'S DAY fighting for a win.


However, AWESOME PINS on boards like:

*BOOK REVIEWS (kids & adults)
 *PARENTING,  and more


 What is it about FOOD that grabs you?

My famous Aussie lamingtons.Vanilla cake, smothered in chocolate and coconut,
and filled with cream.  A world class YUMMY experience!

So, what's the deal?

*Are you just off a diet and can't resist?
*Is it the pictures?
*Are you masochists ON a diet?

*Do you all REALLY TRULY plan to cook this stuff?



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I have just returned and ADDED to this post:

Sausage and Pepperoni Pizza Puffs -
 on my YUMMY board, has broken
ALL HIT records for my boards!  

What magic potion does this small yummy have?

I get it with

You're fabulous teachers who want the
best for your classroom - CHECK!

And this T/C board offers YOU
awesome help, guidance and advice.


 But You-hoo. . . 

*Are you a Writer desperate for HELP?
*Want to be a Certified Book Promo HO?
*Learn the Nitty-gritty about Self Publishing?
*Looking for a Handle on Mental Health?
*Want to Crack the Pinterest CODE?
*OR  do you just Enjoy a Cool Interview?


If you answer YES to any of these questions
my Pinterest boards are

I would love comments from those who found
Teacher/Classroom, Special Needs, Home School
or Parenting, helpful.


  Pinterest is a "one stop" way of making it
EASY to find the good stuff that will
help and encourage you.




Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits 



dreamhost promo code


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Put your kids (or class) on a
Skype Magic Carpet Ride!

*It's FREE Educational Fun!
*My visits help HOOK Kids on reading and writing.
*Meeting a real author puts a whole new slant on books.
*Kids love to get answers to ALL their questions.

Adventures, Humor, Fantasy or Animal tales?

If I SKYPED  with your class, what would YOU like me to bring?

I would love to read your comments.

I have always thought of reading as a Magic Carpet Ride to fun and adventure. This dates back to the time I was a little girl in Queensland, Australia. I was always dodging chores so I could hide up the huge mango tree in our back yard and read my latest book.  Oh . . . the trouble that got me into!

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->Smart authors weave in the things kids need to learn to become kind, caring and helpful adults. Characters young people identify with can get points across that no adult could manage.

                                                                    LATEST SKYPE NEWS

                                                                    Teacher Alert!

January and early February 2014 were  busy SKYPE visit months. 
Then the Arctic Blast swooped down. . .

It was a bummer when the arctic blast on the east coast forced several schools to cancel Skype Visits due to cold and excess snow.  But hey, we will reschedule when the weather improves.

Already one Skype Visit is rescheduled for March, for a grade one class in Connecticut.  This is a repeat visit!! And a new visit for a second grade class in New Hampshire. 

Most of these teacher connections come from either Linkedin or from Education Skype, where I am registered.

Magic Carpet Ride Now


The Parent-Teacher Helper


Let me suggest PINTEREST as a great place to look for teaching and classroom suggestions, advice and help. Look on my TEACHER/CLASSROOM board for links and suggestions that will make classes more enthusiastic, and your teaching day easier. The BOOK REVIEWS there are also a great source of fine educational reading for your class.

And if you are dealing with Dyslexia, reluctant readers,
                   or other Special Needs Kids, check out my  SPECIAL NEEDS etc 

                                                                             A great resource for advice on

                    PARENTING - BOOK REVIEWS - SPECIAL NEEDS (ADHD, Dyslexia, Autism, etc)

                                                                      or MENTAL HEALTH.

                       ** I do not review the books: the reviews come from a variety of online sources.



Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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9. The L-O-N-G. . . L-O-N-G. . . Walkabout


A writing friend, Penelope Cole (Magical Matthew/Mea series), commented today
about the post before this one. She thought my writing was getting even better.

Aboriginal playing a didgeridoo

That got me thinking about how Trial By Walkabout, my latest adventure for boys and tomboys, finally made it to publication. The title is prophetic!  It was the first book I ever wrote. Surprised? Well the original version and the final proof have very little in common - except the title and the fact they were both set in outback Australia.

Let me now begin the way I advise all my critique clients:
set the scene for this tale by adding the time,
the place, and the characters. . .

Long, long, ago, when the personal computer was just a gleam in Bill Gate's eye, and my three kids were still in grade school, I wrote a book about a feisty koala and his Aussie bush mates.  I had always dabbled in writing, but this was my first full length book.  I was sure it would be a winner. Many of the publishers I sent this gem to are now defunct, or swallowed by publishing's current literary behemoths. I was full of hope and excitement. You know, new writer dreams combined with lack of writing and publishing insights. My balloon was soon pricked, and I rewrote the book umpteen times, with similar enthusiasm (?) from each batch of publishers I dismayed.

By this time the Internet was UP and staggering. Writing lists blossomed online, and I discovered Yahoo and all it's satellite writing groups.  I joined the Children's Writers and Illustrators group (CW for short) and began to learn the writing ropes from a few of the original members. These talented ladies helped me enormously. The concept of mentoring and networking was new to me. They helped me polish my natural rhyming talent, and I was off and running - writing picture books in rhyme.  That old flop Walkabout mouldered in a bottom drawer - forgotten.
Then I did something I should have done way earlier, I formed two critique groups, one called RHYMERS and another called OPUS.  There was some member turnover to begin with, but we finally had 2 cohesive groups that I am sure changed the writing paths of ALL the members forever. I discovered that it is amazing what you can learn from reading the work of others.  Plus the comments and suggestions I received on my own writing began to resonate with me.

Manuscripts and time rushed past. I took another look at Walkabout.  Everything I had learned in Opus and from the CW list jelled into one thought.  Scrap the animals and rewrite with kids as my characters. This idea was followed by another. Join SCBWI and become a conference junkie!  No sooner thought than done.  More time, more rewrites.  

Now the Internet sizzled, and Social Networking raises its pushy head.  I dive in boots and books!!  I design a website.  I begin doing Manuscript Critiques - not freebies like before, but PAID critiques. YEA!    THEN MY WORLD EXPLODES. . . I get a contract for one of  my picture books. Then ANOTHER and ANOTHER! I began blogging.

Time to really become serious about mid-grades in general and Walkabout in particular.  You guessed it - more rewrites and fine tuning, with OPUS cheering me along. Between all this, other rhyming picture books are written and published, PLUS my first mid-grade book  - only not Walkabout!
This !@#$% book is earning its title, fair-dinkum. EUREKA, my publisher (GAP) sees the movie Australia and loves it.  So, thanks to a movie, I finally earn a contract for Walkabout.  About time!!

Now I am confident enough to dip my toe into the self publishing arena.  The competition is fierce, if a little short on grammar and writing skills. The Revenge of Thelma Hill and Down Under Calling are polished, cover art done (thanks Awesome Agy Wilson), and finally sit on my Amazon page with my other books. But not without anguish, last minute errors, and a few sleepless nights.  STILL NO PUBlISHING DATE FOR WALKABOUT!  Will it be published posthumously on my behalf, after I go to that great writing room in the sky?

TRUMPET BLAST PLEASE - Walkabout finally made it to the book shelves of Amazon and elsewhere. Lynda Burch, my publisher, must take credit for grammar polish and trimming my mad passion for commas.  Hey, I'm great at plots, cool characters, and terrific pace.  Blimey, you can't expect me to shine at everything!

I am reminded of the old Lucile Ball movie, the "Long Long Trailer" - yeah, I know it dates me.  Only my book was a long . . . long . . . long. . . Walkabout instead.  This book wound through the years with me, gaining strength, power and way better writing.  As I grew in my craft, so Walkabout grew from a trite tale about critters, into a multicultural look inside what makes two very different Aussie teens deal with what life throws at them.


Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
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We authors live or die by those all-powerful
Reviewer's Words

The !@#$ Review Pitts:

The book had a weak and unbelievable plot. The characters were not well fleshed,
the pages were wordy, and the ending was disappointing.  Dodge this one - 1 *

You fall into a major depressive tailspin, lock yourself in your room (with either alcohol, chocolate, or ice cream), and swear never to write another book. Does the Maffia still accept 'contracts' on way nasty reviewers?  If the review was particularly cruel, you might go with all three of the above mentioned comforts.

Alternatively. . .

This book is a masterpiece of literary writing.  The characters are richly crafted, the plot is gripping and realistic, and the writing is tight, terrific, and powerfully crafted. Could not put it down.
Thoroughly recommended  - 10 **********

You go crazy with the news on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ Linkedin and more.  Your fingers are numb from texting friends your fabulous news.  Toasts with friends and family make you forget, for about 5 minutes, that you must BLOG the good news as well.  You wonder about the cost of a NY Times add, or even a local plane to do a fly-over and "smoke" the good news to the locals? You don't sleep for three days, while the underwear draws of your entire family are in dire need of clean socks, skivvies and bras.  WHO CARES. . . YOU got a RAVE REVIEW!!!  It even impressed your mom-in-law! Ye-e-e-e - Haw!!


You've read my fantasy versions
Now for the


I received what I think are two SUPER Reviews for my new young teen book,

Trial by Walkabout

And NO, I did not advertise in the NY Times or hire a plane. 
However, I do plead guilty to all  the rest - so sue me!!

Below is why I went a little crazy:
Wouldn't YOU?

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Trial by Walkabout 
 Author: Margot Finke 

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
                       Paperback ISBN: 9781616334505; 1616334509                     
eBook ISBN: 9781616334512; 1616334517
Reviewer: Karen Cioffi

'Walkabout' is Great Mid-grade Reading

The Writer’s Digest article “7 Ways to Make a Good Story Great” offers a lot of insight into this topic. It explains that as a writer you need to (1) ‘go beyond the five senses; (2) take advantage of your characters idiosyncrasies; (3) write the nitty-gritty; (4) don’t write down, thinking the audience won’t get it; (5) don’t include irrelevant content; (6 and 7) involve the emotions of the reader.

Margot Finke’s 'Walkabout' easily covers all these elements. It is truly good writing that has the reader anticipating the next page. The story’s protagonist is 13-year-old Josh Howard. He and his older brother, Tom, are at odds, fighting all the time and telling lies about each to their parents. With their parents away, Tom locks Josh out of the house after a fight

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“Outside,you!” A hard shove shot Josh out the door flat on his back in the dirt. The door slammed shaking the frame. “You can stay out there ‘till the rains come for all I care.” Tom’s voice faded as he moved further indoors.

This is the catalyst that launches Josh into a world of survival, danger, hunger, Dreametime stories and tribesmen. Josh, who wants to get even with his brother, goes on an Aussie walkabout with an Aboriginal friend, Bindi. Bindi needs to go on this journey to fulfil his ‘manhood’ ritual. The two friends face lethal snakes, a huge and dangerous male kangaroo, a pack of wild dogs, a vengeful emu, and a crazy Medicine Man.
The story’s action is well crafted and Finke blends just the right amount of back-story throughout the book so the reader learns of the rich Aboriginal background and the treacherous outback terrain. In one scene, Josh and Bindi hide up in trees to escape death by a pack of wild dogs:

Shutting his eyes, he pleaded over-and-over. “Make them stop! Make them stop!” Finally, the victim grew silent. A sob escaped Josh. The slobbering sounds made by the dogs of death filtered up to him.He tried not to hear the soft tearing noises. And the smell—the stench of every creature these four-legged killers had ever slaughtered rose from them in putrid waves.

The writing is powerful and at times raw, as shown above, just what boys love. But, along with the heart pounding action, it also teaches subtle, yet powerful lessons about lying and loyalty. Trial by Walkabout takes the reader on an amazing ‘growing up’ journey through the Australian outback. This is great children’s reading and I highly recommend it for middle-graders and young adults.

Amazon:  Softcover (Kindle coming)
Website for autographs  plus my FREE Aussie Recipe Book

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Survival by Walkabout
Margot Finke

Reviewed by:
Penelope Anne Cole
Award winning author of Magical Matthew and Magical Mea

 So, how do I like her latest middle grade novel, Trial by Walkabout?  It’s another love fest!  This is a compelling adventure that keeps you on your toes,  wondering what could happen next as Bindi and Josh go “walkabout” in the outback. l'lI admit I’m a fan of Margot Finke’s books.  I loved everything about her  Down Under Calling.  I thought The Revenge of Thelma Hill was just scary enough.  I also enjoyed the banter between Taconi and Claude -- plus learning more about life “Down Under.”

Young teens Bindi and Josh are the grandsons of Taconi and “the Boss,” the previous owner of the Cooperoo Cattle Station.  They grew up and played together before Josh went off to boarding school.  They’ve grown apart over the years and meet up again in this story when Josh is locked out of his house after a fight with his big brother Tom. 

Josh thinks up a plan to get even with Tom and going walkabout with Bindi fits his needs perfectly.  But the actual walkabout is more of an adventure than the overnighter Josh bargained for.  The way the teens deal with the outback’s strange creatures, living off the land – even surviving personal danger – makes for great fun and edge-of-your-seat excitement.

I can’t give away the ending.  Suffice it to say that Josh learns a lot on his walkabout about the important things in his life and personal values.  He learns more about friendship and relationships along the way.  He struggles with his original plan to get back at Tom and wants to set things right, if possible.  It’s good to see his character grow.

Exciting stories that entertain us and remind us of our moral compass – these are the kind of books we need more of.  Thanks to Ms. Finke for another winning teen book.  Trial by Walkabout is recommended for ages nine to fourteen – especially reluctant boy readers.

Published by( Guardian Angel Publishing.) 
Amazon:  Softcover (Kindle coming)
Website for autographs  plus my FREE Aussie Recipe Book

'Walkabout' is one of 4 young teen books I am offering FREE to teachers, in return for their class reading it, and adding a CLASS REVIEW on Amazon.  I will also  do a Skype Author Visit to each class that reviews my books.

See this  BLOG POST for details.


Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits



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WIN 1 of these FREE BOOKS
for your class to read.

To WIN, your class must agree to read the book you choose,
and then write a CLASS REVIEW and put it on Amazon.

I offer  a choice of 4 mid-grade books:
2 adventures for boys and tomboys,
+ 2 books for both girls and boys. 

The first teacher to contact me gets to choose the book she wants.


a FREE Skype Author Visit

to classes that read my books and write a  CLASS REVIEW  for Amazon. I will chat about how I write and where my book ideas come from.  I am also happy to answer any questions the classes have. FREE "Sneak Peek" Inside ALL my books  -  Books on AMAZON
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to choose from

*Taconi and Claude Double Trouble – Set in the Aussie outback circa 1945.  A coming of age tale about a young aboriginal boy and the problems he faces: a man ceremony, his crazy dad, Dreamtime Spirits, and the chatty and wise Claude - a cockatoo.
*Survival by Walkabout – A follow up to Taconi and Claude  - current Aussie outback.  Sibling rivalry and lies light the fuse that drives this dangerous adventure. The Aussie outback is unforgiving and so is the Medicine Man. Will Josh and Bindi survive, or will the wild dingoes pick
 their bones?
*Down Under Calling - When a reluctant grandson in Oregon is pressured into writing to his grandma in Australia, wonderful things happen. Both have a need for love and reassurance. Back and forth the letters go: Josh shares his daily problems, and Grandma Rose shares memories from her childhood,  plus tales  that astonish her grandson and his friend Kelly. Together these three shrink the Pacific Ocean into a puddle they can easily ford.

*The Revenge of Thelma Hill – When Frannie and her twin brother Jeff move to Oregon, ghosts are not on Frannie’s mind.  She worried more about making new friends and the sibling rivalry between her and Jeff.  But Frannie discovers that a persistent ghost is hard to refuse. She and her very reluctant twin are soon plotting to trap the ghost’s dangerous killer, and trying to keep it all from their overworked Dad.

"Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book"

Seeing I'm a transplanted Aussie now living in Oregon, and 3 of these books feature Australia, it's animals and customs, I am also offering my FREE, fun, "Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book."  Teachers or students who would like to read about, or try the Down Under Tucker I grew up eating, will receive a FREE copy.

HEY. . . Before you leave.


13 Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits


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Several teachers have contacted me from England, Africa and Europe.
They all want me to bring my Magic Carpet of Books to their classrooms.
Unfortunately, their Time Zones do not mesh with mine here in Oregon, USA

This is so frustrating!

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As the author of 13 children's books, I offer “FREE Author Visits” to schools, libraries, and book clubs. SKYPE Makes it Happen! Books are a Magic Carpet Ride to fun, adventure, and a lifetime of learning, and I love HOOKING kids on reading.

My FREE Author Visits can happen anywhere there is a SKYPE connection. I read from my latest books, chat about how books are written, and where my inspiration comes from. More in-depth chat about writing for older grades. The fun Q and A is always a highlight - grades one through middle school. I am happy to tailor my presentation to your class needs.

I want to fly my Magic Carpet of Books
to YOUR libraries and schools!

Contact me here  -  mfinke@frontier.com
If you have a class that needs to be HOOKED on READING, or a class that is
eager to learn the nitty-gritty of behind the scenes book writing.

Video of me chatting about Skype Visits.
**Registered with Skype in the Classroom

DID YOU KNOW Pinterest 

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->is another great place to look for teaching and classroom suggestions, advice and help?
Look on my TEACHER/CLASSROOM board for links and suggestions that will
make kids more enthusiastic and teaching easier: 

Check out my SKYPE board while you're there
and more


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques

Hyper Smash

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 From now, on I will be including all information about my FREE Skype Author Visits to Schools here on HOOK KIDS ON READING.  It is just too hard to keep up with more than one or two blogs, and I feel that combining these two makes good sense.


Blame a New Zealand School
for this Blog Entry

My adventures in Skyping have taken me to several US states.
Yet it was a New Zealand bunch of talented and enthusiastic
students that blew my mind, and pushed me to begin this

                                  NEW  BLOG. . .

                           I made a Skype Author Visit to their classroom in Auckland.
                            They were so enthusiastic, and also made a Video about my visit. 
                                                            I was thrilled and humbled.

See VIDEO top right
  GO HERE to read about my visit:


BOOKS I read when I visit classrooms via Skype.

Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques - Help for Writers


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This week my
SKYPE connection went

On Tuesday evening my magic carpet of books flew to New Delhi, India.

I visited with a classroom of enthusiastic and  talented teens who soaked up my words and writing suggestions with sponge like eagerness. Bright, smart faces looked back at me from a crowded classroom as I read to them from Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble. The Q and A session took us into overtime (1 1/4 hour total time), as students peppered me with question after question.

I came away from this Skype session feeling completely jazzed and energized - wonderfully bright and eager students, keen to know how books were written.

My Magic Carpet Worked Overtime!

This week I have  SKYPED with three different classrooms on the East CoastSeeing those eager smiling faces looking out at me was a terrific day brightener. My adrenalin raced. Again, I saw the interest in books, reading and writing stories soar. Encouraging young kid's minds to develop a love of writing, and HOOK them on reading, always gives me a thrill.

Books I read from for these classes:
*Down Under Calling - grade 4 and 5
*Kangaroo Clues - grades 3 and 4
* Mama Grizzly Bear - kindy and grade1

Books I showed:
*Rattlesnake Jam - PB ( they laughed at the illos and first two verses)
*Horatio Humble Beats the Big D - dyslexia. - PB
*The Revenge of Thelma Hill - young teen

I will be flying my Magic Carpet of Books to different states in the coming weeks, with the possibility of a return visit to that wonderful New Zealand school I visited earlier. 

If I could hug Skype I would!!


How my Well Oiled Magic Carpet Flies

*I design a special chat scenario for each grade level.
*I show Aboriginal Art with my Aussie themed books
*I read a complete PB, or a chapter from a young teen book
*A week ahead of time I email (attachment) the teacher an Order Form to send home to the parents + my Introductory Letter. This letter introduces me, and includes an email and web address, so parents can contact me or look over the books on my Order Form.
*If appropriate, I include pictures on the Aussie/US animals, plus an Aussie word glossary.
*I also let the teacher know that I will fit in with her class needs whenever possible
*I try to make this Skype Magic Carpet Adventure as easy as possible for the teacher.

BUY DIRECT  FROM ME  -  mfinke at frontier.com


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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Let the DREAM Becomes a Reality!

With World Book Day and Martin Luther King Day almost hand-in-hand. . .

Let's Unleash the Dream! 

Introduce our kids and our classrooms to some awesome books with multicultural themes.
These books SHOW that it is your actions, honesty, and respect for the opinions of others that really count - plus a deep understanding that color, religion and country of origin should not come into play.

My dad always told me to look for friends among those with moral fiber, courage, and good will toward all. He never mentioned color, or the country they or their parents originally came from. I grew up in Australia at a time when the native aboriginals had no say and no power. Fortunately this has changed a great deal, but as with discrimination and racism everywhere there is still a long road to travel.

The following books not only tell wonderful stories kids will love reading, they SHOW that the young heroes and heroines in every one of these books is colorblind. They instinctively know that a good friend only cares about how YOU TREAT them. Sadly, children learn discrimination by  hearing or seeing the adults they trust and love show biased actions or reactions.

Here are some highly reviewed picture books and young teen books that celebrate our differences, whether they be cultural or color related. We need many MORE such books!

Pinterest: Book Reviews (kids to YA)

Pinterest: Book Reviews (kids to YA)

     Reviewed Here:
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Reviewed Here:  <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->

Reviewed here: <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->


Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits

Amazon page for ALL Margot's  BOOKS
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16. A Magic Carpet Holiday Season

BOOKS Make Wonderful Gifts.

They are a Magic Carpet Ride to Fun and Adventure

These books are already loaded onto my Magic Carpet!


( $2 under list price )

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Autographed hard copies
of my YOUNG TEEN books below are $6.95 +  $2 postage.
http://www.margotfinke.com   -   Also available on Kindle.

This year, give a
Magic Carpet Ride

of BOOKS to the the kids in your life!


Skype Makes it Happen
School Author Visits

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17. BOOK REVIEW - A Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear

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Today I am reviewing a picture book for my good writing friend.
Mayra Calvani

We have worked together, share a publisher, and both of us love writing for kids. She
lives in Belgium, a country I have visited and wish to see more of. 
Talent and generosity are Mayra's middle names.


I Give You. . .

By  Mayra Calvani   
Illustrated by KC Snider

We have ALL had days like Mama Bear is having.  The author “gets” the disaster mood exactly right.  Readers will giggle at the fuss, mess, and calamity that trails Mama around all day. And the capital “D” in her day of ongoing disasters is a visit from the Baboon family.  K.C Snider is a master at illustrating books for children.  The emotions shown are both facial and physical, making sure the reader knows exactly what Mama is feeling. Snider’s illustrations partner perfectly with Calvani’s  strong  story.  A delightful read for kids, and for the many parents who have been through it all themselves.  

I loved this book because it had terrific kid appeal, and the story and illustrations appear meant for each other.  It is on my Holiday gift list for my own two granddaughters.
I give this picture book 5 ***** stars. 

Available through Amazon:

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications like The Writer, Writer's Journal, Multicultural Review, Bloomsbury Review, and others. 

She lives in Belgium with her husband of 25+ years, two wonderful kids, and her two beloved pets. When she's not writing, editing, reading or reviewing, she enjoys walking with her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. She's represented by Serendipity Literary.

Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques - Help for Writers


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A New Zealand School - Auckland: 
Here in Oregon I have just finished an hour and quarter SKYPE session with the most charming and enthusiastic 10 and 11 year olds I have ever met – their teacher as well. 
I have scattered some Auckland pictures throughout, so you can see what a lovely city Auckland is. 

Walking tours of Auckland

The boys were reading my Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble, and the girls were reading The Revenge of Thelma Hill.  I talked about what makes a great book, the importance of hooking their reader, and powerful and active words. I offered sentence examples and what makes a great HOOK into a story. Baiting Your Writing HOOK so to speak. 

 The Kiwi Bird of New Zealand

They soaked this all up and asked lots of questions.
I read to them from my latest young teen book, Down Under Calling.

The Aussie aboriginal artifacts I showed were a hit with the boys reading Taconi and Claude. And the idea of the Ghost in Thelma Hill being based on my Mom (even her name) pleased the girls reading it.  They were full of questions about each book. To top it off, they sang  a special song they created about me and my books + a lovely traditional Maori song.

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Te Hana Te Ao Marama is Auckland's leading Maori cultural centre,
offering a comprehensive range of Maori cultural experiences and more.

Their teacher was as keen for the session to go well as were the kids.  A participating and enthusiastic teacher makes all the difference, and Harini Karan jumped in and played her part to perfection.
Tours of Auckland City

The whole experience left me thrilled and humbled, all at the same time.  This New Zealand Skype class visit was one of the highlights of my writing career.  The class rendered me speechless!!

And you can do it all from the comfort of your own writing nook.  No travel, hotel bills, or suitcases to lug about. YEA!!  Skype Education is very helpful.  It also pays to court teacher sites world wide. Linkedin is a good place to begin your Skype campaign. Skype gives us a chance to visit schools that are not on the usual author circuit. These kids are SO appreciative and eager to partake. The same goes for the teachers. Private as well as public schools are keen to have Skype author visits.  Plus the US is a vast untapped source. I will also be writing a further blog about the nuts and bolts of organizing a Sky Visit.

These are the books this class is now reading:

The young people in this Auckland class are diving
into books, writing, and reading up a storm!


Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits

Download a FREE "Sneak Peek" inside ALL of my books


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19. REVIEWS That Are a Pleasure to Do


 As most of you know, I do not do reviews.


I don't have the time, and I am at an age when I feel I can say NO without feeling guilty. Plus, I hate cringing over pages, that although published, have never seen the keen eye of a good editor. How DO you gently tell a writer that you simply can not give their book a good review?

However, for these two books I have made an exception.

Donna McDine is not only a friend, she knows how to
string words together so they mean something special.

No cringing necessary!


Get your mid-grade kids ready
for a reading TREAT!


Powder Monkey

by award winning author
Donna McDine

Illustrated by K.C. Snider.
Guardian Angel Publishing.
Mid-grade Historical Fiction

                                                              Hardcover Edition ISBN: 9781616333843; 1616333847
                                                                    Paperback ISBN: 9781616333850; 1616333853
                                                                        eBook ISBN: 9781616333867; 1616333863

Right away the title intrigued me. The richly detailed illustrations, by well known artist and illustrator K.C Snider, drew me back into a time when the theme of this historical novel would have been played out – press gangs kidnapping young boys for service at sea.  This tale of 14 year old farm boy Tommy, and his older brother, is well told. It has the right feel. The author’s research shines through on every page. Action scenes, and well crafted tense moments pulled me into the story, and the ending was true to life in those times.

This is a book that boys and tomboys will enjoy. Teachers and home schooling parents will appreciate its authentic background and vivid details: an exciting and action packed read. I recommend Powder Monkey as a book that will definitely HOOK Kids on Reading.


 One for the sports fans:

Hockey Agony

by award winning author,
Donna McDine.
           Illustrated by Julie Hammond               

PRINT Paperback ISBN: 9781616333607; 161633360X
eBook ISBN: 9781616333614; 1616333618

Guardian Angel Publishing

Hockey Agony is steeped in teen angst. Larry is on crutches, and he does not appreciate Coach Brennan’s blah, blah, blah, homilies. Coach has a good heart, but Larry will have none of it. And when Coach asks Larry to be the clock runner for Friday’s game, it’s a twist that really puts the outcome in question. Will Larry sideline his attitude and run the clock? Will he shave off a few seconds, as hinted at, if needed? And will his co-clock runner Matthew, from the enemy team, be a push over? Maybe, maybe not? The title says it all. Hockey Agony author, Donna McDine, knows teen boys. So my advice is: read this book ASAP, and discover the answers for yourself.

Your reluctant reader will be HOOKED by these two exciting stories,
and other readers will eat them up.   TRUST ME!!


Ride my
Magic Carpet of Books for Kids!

 Manuscript Critique Service


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If your child turns up their nose at READING,

It's all a matter of finding books with plots that FIT their interests.
Plus a little writing "Magic" to keep them turning the page.

Budding ballerinas will LOVE
The Ballerina and the Moon

 Written and Illustrated - by Irene Zevgolis

(A Sequel to The Dreamer and the The Moon)

Tara is over the moon at being accepted into the children’s ballet theater. Yet when Miss Monique, the ballet teacher chooses Tara as the Fairy Princess in the fall recital, Anna and the other dancers stop being her friend.

I acted as manuscript adviser.

Available through AMAZON


Does your reluctant reader need a MAGICIAN  to
HOOK her interest?

Magical Mea
brings the perfect magical mix!

 Author: Penelope Anne Cole
Illustrator Kevin Collier

 Mea's tricks are sometimes unkind, and she must learn that her  magical
talents need to be used wisely, and with a kindness in mind.

Available through AMAZON
Guardian Angel Publishing  


Does your BOY prefer computer games to reading?

Time to SNEAK in the BIG GUNS!

Max Elliot Anderson grew up as a struggling, reluctant reader.
After surveying the market, he sensed the need for action-adventures
and mysteries for readers 8 and up, especially boys.

Plus NINE other rip-roaring tales just as exciting!

By boy and tomboy author,  Max Anderson
Available at AMAZON

And the Reviews are awesome!



NO WAY could your young teen not "GET" a ghost that was
channeled into the story by the author - NAME and ALL!

Her MOTHER no less!

Okay!  Okay! It was MY mother, and it took a few chapters before I realized what was happening.  But by then I was on a roll, and something told me (guess what?) that my dear mum was quite tickled by the whole idea of being features in one of my books. . .                  So I kept writing, and channeling, until I had it just the way Mom wanted it to end.

The Revenge of Thelma Hill

Author Margot Finke
Cover Art Art:  "Awesome" Agy Wilson 

When Frannie and her twin brother move to Oregon with their dad, Frannie has no thought of ghosts, creepy basements, or giant arachnid "familiars." Trapping a killer was definitely not on her summer vacation to-do list. As the sibling rivalry between her and Jeff grew more intense each day, Frannie dreamed about her missing mom, and worried about making new friends. But the ghost of Thelma Hill changed everything when she begged Frannie to trap her killer. Could she and her nerdy twin trap him? Or would they both end up sharing their basement with Thelma Hill - forever? 

 Available at
AMAZON (Kindle) - Smashwords - NOOK


Books For Kids - Manuscript Critiques
Author Visits to Schools  -  SKYPE Makes it Happen!



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21. KANGAROO CLUES Hops Into Children's Hearts!

The BIG HOPPER Has Arrived!
with all his Aussie bush mates!

Kangaroo Clues

Part of my Wild and Wonderful Series
of books about animals from the US and Australia

is the first book I ever had published.
All 7 books were originally eBooks, at a time when eBooks had little following among readers or kids.  Guardian Angel Publishing agreed to republish all of them in SOFT COVER as well as ebooks.  Kangaroo Clues and Mama Grizzly Bear are the first two to make the transition to soft cover books - YEA!   Available through Guardian Angel and Amazon etc.

Old Man Roo is tall and muscular - 6-7 feet of tall!
Stone the crows! If he had to shop for shoes, he would never find a pair big enough for his enormous feet.  Old Man Roo is smart, too.  When the feared wild dingo pack decides he's on their lunch menu,  he doesn't need shoes -  just giant hops,  plus a  fancy trick that will give a nasty surprise to the whole dog  pack.

The story tells how Crafty Old Man Roo escapes the dingoes that are chasing him. The aborigines say this rhyming "Dreamtime" tale is a true story.  It features unique Aussie critters - kangaroos, emu, echidna, kookaburra and marsupial mice, etc. A fun tale that is also educational. 

Heading for the red hills they call home

Racing to escape the wild dingoes.

 Glorious illustrations by Turkish artist/illustrator
Mustafa Delioglu.

Thereby hangs a tale. . .
When I asked online list friends if they knew of an illustrator, I received many replies.  One Turkish author said her illustrator would do wonderful illustrations for Kangaroo Clues. He had done many of her books (she is famous in the region for her picture books), and she sent me samples.  I was wowed. They were awesome!  All by hand, and with many delightfully surprising details. I said YES -  loud and clear.

But wait. . . there was a hitch.  Mustafa had no computer and spoke no English!  But my dear friend said, "Don't worry, Margot, I will translate for both of you (her written English was almost perfect) and send his art work from my computer.  And so she did!  A couple of years later I had these fabulous illustrations for Kangaroo Clues. I will always be indebted to Aytul for her huge act of kindness toward me, a new author, and an online writing friend.  Mustafa's art hangs in European Galleries, so I consider myself lucky to have his work gracing my picture book.

Bush critters don't want to be a dingo's dinner!

Sample Verse

Aboriginal spirits made all things,
Like kangaroos and birds with wings.
But I've a tale that's just for you.
It tells the secret of Old Man Roo.

Telling the tale of Old Man Roo

Verse Sample.

Who sewed the pouch on the Kangaroo
And placed her Joey in there too?
Was it a Dreamtime spirit-man
Who made up creatures from a plan?



 REAL "Clues" about Kangaroos!

Everyone loves Kangaroos - right?
Kangaroos all have babies called Joey.  When old enough,  the Joeys pop in and out of  their Mom's pouches whenever they feel like it - like Mexican jumping beans!  YES, they ride around in Mom's padded pouch in comfort every day!
Did you know that when born, a Joey is
about the size of a grown-ups thumb?

They are hairless, blind and deaf.  But this doesn't stop them from crawling from where they popped out of Mom's birth canal, to W-A-Y up inside of her pouch.  Once safely inside, they latches onto one of her teats, and suck milk non stop, until they have grown big enough to begin hopping in and out of the pouch.

For more fun details about KANGAROOS
and the other Aussie critters in this book,

visit my DOWN UNDER FUN page.

ALL - Soft Cover Picture Books



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Reading is FUN!

You know it - I know it. . .
But can you convince that older kid? 


Reading is the original
Magic Carpet Ride
to adventure!

Yeah! Yeah!  But this kid left
Magic Carpet Rides behind a lo-o-o-ng time ago.


Some teens and preteens need

Others need the RIOT ACT!

YELLING is useless, mate. . .



So, how do you HOOK
your child on summer reading
A parent must be

*Note your kid's interests, passions and hates.
*Then, research books that tie into all three.

*A little lie can work wonders. . . especially if it is about a book that is about to be banned, and you state your child MUST NOT read it.  This only works if you REALLY know your child, and you have chosen the book well.
* Buy a Kindle Fire (or similar), and state that only those in the family who read ONE BOOK a week get to use it.
* If he/she has a crush on someone, enlist their covert help. They tell your little darling that reading is COOL, SEXY and  super RADICAL.

* If all else fails, bring out the BIG BUCKS!  Think Chinese or South American, and your qualms will fade like a pale sunburn!
Tell your kid that reading can earn money, them extra privileges, movie viewing time,  freedom from certain hated chores, and even MONEY - but only if several books a week are read.

Enough with the subversive strategy.

Now for some

Yet I feel so frustrated! 
If I add one more book I fear my blog will EXPLODE!

So, I have to make do with this tiny sample of what's out there, able to lure your reluctant (aint gona read Mum!)
kid into the Magic Carpet Ride of his/her life!


I have collected these book reviews and recommendations over many months.  There are hundreds more where they came from


Click Pinterest Maven
for more titles




REVIEW - Cloneward Bound by M.E. Castle.  When Fisher Bas cloned himself, he never dreamed his double, Two, would escape to Hollywood to find the actress he believes to be his mother. High tech gadgets paired with non-stop action appeal to the adventure lover.

REVIEW of "The Spy Game, " a new book by J D Holiday. Recommended!!

101 Chapter books to read to kids while they grow up - SUPER list!

I was wowed by Taconi and Claude from the first chapter. Margot Finke has written a gripping story that weaves Aussie language and vivid tales of Medicine Men and tribal customs with an adventure that boys and girls won’t be able to put down.

REVIEW - The Farwalker’s Quest - A middle grade adventure that grabs you
and doesn't let go. 

20 First chapter books for early readers ages 5-9: mystery books and detective stories

The Raven Boys - YA fantasy. First in a series. I listened to this as an audio book. Wow. A great cast of characters including heroes, anti-heroes and serious villains. The Raven Boys

The Ballerina and The Moon - Written and illustrated by Irene Zevgolis. A heart warming story about a passion for ballet and friendships.

REVIEW - Did you know that Julie Andrews is an author in addition to being an actress? My students loved her book, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. It makes a terrific read aloud that will keep your students hanging on the edge of their seats! 

Delightful! A wonderful read for any child.
Awesome Agy Wilson is author as well as illustrator. 

REVIEW - Personal Effects - by E. M. Kokie - Why I like this book: E. M. Kokie has written a courageous and beautiful debut novel that is complicated and compelling. She delves deeply into the anger, pain, and grief of a 17-year-old trying to make sense of his brother’s death 

A LOVELY REVIEW for “The Revenge of Thelma Hill,” ( Kindle, Nook, Smashwords etc.) 
by award winning writer Donna McDine. Read REVIEWS on Amazon: 

"Floors" by Patrick Carman - Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel. The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets.

REVIEW - Beware of the White by Kai Strand.  This new middle grade novel has some intriguing surprises. It is the first in her new series, The Concord Chronicles

REVIEW of "Holler Loudly," by Cynthia Leitich Smith  by New York Times best-selling  author Cynthia Leitich Smith. Cynthia’s fiction is noted for its diversity, humor, lyricism, imaginativeness, compelling action, and mid-to-southwestern settings. Please give this book a try if you have a loud, rowdy boy.

REVIEW-  "Twerp," by Mark Goldblatt - Julian Twerski isn’t a bully. He’s just made a big mistake. He has done something he is deeply ashamed of, something that goes against the grain of his conscience. When he returns to school after a week long suspension, his English teacher offers him a deal. 

Max Elliot Anderson writes awesome books for young boys.
Try any of his books and your boy will LOVE it!!

Debut author Leo B. Kennedy wrote "Devlin and the Greedy Ferret." Leo has written a very entertaining and fast-paced book with quirky and fun characters. He proves that young adults with autism can find success in the world, including the field of children’s literature. His book is not about autism.

REVIEW - Tell the Wolves - Wow. You'll laugh. You'll cry.
You'll get seriously ticked. An amazing YA novel.

40 Banned Books to Read at your Own Risk- GO ON. . . you know you want to!
Your kid will fight you to read these babies.

by Karen Cioffi , illustrated by Aidana WillowRaven -  "Walking Through Walls" is a fantasy chapter book based on an ancient Chinese tale, providing a magical adventure. Fun for children and adults alike.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton - AWESOME Read!  

Even the most reluctant reader should find
a title here to HOOK their interest.


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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Reading is one of life's pleasures

Reading is FUN!

Reading takes you places.
you will never visit yourself.

Reading is the original
Magic Carpet Ride
to adventure!

However, some kids need a little push.
Others need their arm twisted.

Nagging never works.

So, how do you HOOK
your child on summer reading

EASY as a visit to the library!

Let them see YOU make time for reading.
Let them know you think reading is cool.
Read to them every day.
Get them to read to you.
Tell them how well they read.

Ask their opinion of the characters and the plot.
Let them help you make a bookshelf for THEIR book.
(or go buy a bookshelf with them)


Look for covers with KID APPEAL.
And plots that follow your child's interests.
(sports, music, art, dance, adventure, humor etc)

Choose books with  characters they
will root for and identify with. 

Give them Special Book Money
so they can buy their own books.

If all else fails use

 Hey, what's good enough for China, India, the
Middle East and most of Africa. . . It's worth a try. 

After reading 4 books they get to stay up
an extra hour - for a week!


Read 5 books and get to choose some treat so far denied them.
Choose what you know will tempt your kid to read.

Okay, enough with the instructions,
let's get to the nitty-gritty

A list of

Find  many more children's great reads
and reviews by clicking these links:

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?
By Jane Yolen and Mark Teague 

REVIEW for Magical Mea - by Penelope Cole. This second book in The Magical Series has life lessons for children. It’s a fun read, empowering for kids, and will without a doubt hold a child’s interest.

Book Review: The Adventures of Lai-Lai and Chub-Chub: Lai-Lai Meets Chub-Chub - delightful! 

REVIEW: Rattlesnake Jam: Margot E Finke, Illos: Kevin Scott Collier. There are few children's picture books that have made me laugh out loud. Margot Finke's inventive rhymes and Kevin Collier's delightful pictures will have children begging for more.

REVIEW: Hands Off  My Honey by Jane Chapman - Loved, loved, loved this book. In addition to the fabulous artwork by Tim Wanes, Chapman has created a superb story with a surprise ending. 

This is the mischievous little fairy responsible for the mysterious sounds and odors that are a part of everyday life. The book comes with an audio CD and has received both the Mom's Choice and the Benjamin Franklin Gold Medal Awards. 

How to Babysit a Grandpa – great kid’s book

REVIEW: I am a huge fan of Margot Finke’s work, including Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind. She has a knack for cleverly conveying what children may be feeling in a manner that engages, entertains, and is filled with humor. She also has a knack for magically weaving rhyming content into wonderful images that take the reader on an amazing journey.


Marit Menzin (Author)

HOOK KIDS on READING Reviews "Bella Saves the Beach," by Nancy Stewart.  Kids learn about ecology and more.

A pre-biblical fable, set in prehistoric times. It is about a boy named Jezubah and his friend Diligence the dragon. They live in a land of mountains, volcanoes and pristine lakes and learn about faith. Kevin Collier author illustrator

REVIEW: 5 Star REVIEW for "Horatio Humble Beats the Big D" (dyslexia) author, Margot Finke. I think I fell in love with this book the moment I spied the little boy on the cover with the “deer-in-the-headlights” expression on his face. Horatio is a wonderful read, about a confused but courageous little boy with a big, BIG problem.

REVIEW: Leaf & the Rushing Waters (Twig Stories) [Kindle Edition] Jo Marshall (Author), Mr. D. W. Murray (Illustrator) - Read all 9 glowing reviews. 

REVIEW: The Magic Violin by Mayra Calvani. See more of her books on Guardian Angel Publishing -- Eight-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem.

Reviewed by Donna M. McDine ~: "Birds in the Flower Basket" by Mary Jean Kelso.  Delightful story children will love.

"Mama Grizzly Bear," a rhyming PB by Margot Finke. Illos: Gloria Swan. **READ terrific REVIEWS on Amazon.

A year in the life of Mama and her cubs.


Books for early readers and older on
my next Summer Reading List. 

Find these REVIEWS - BOOKS and MORE -
on  Pinterest


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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I could never have done it without the skills
and talents of Awesome Agy Wilson

Done what you ask?

Published my latest young teen book.

 Kindle - soft cover coming
Agy not only did the cover, she also set it up for Kindle and CreateSpace.

This is the second young teen book Agy has done
the cover for and helped me publish. The first was
  my ghost mystery, "The Revenge of Thelma Hill."

Self-publishing is a new gig for me ( I have 11 traditionally published ), but I wanted to give
it a go, as they say.  Agy has struck some problems with the covers for the CreateSpace versions of both books but this will be mastered soon (knowing Agy), and available in soft cover, ASAP.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->
SYNOPSIS:  When a reluctant grandson in Oregon is pressured into writing to his grandma in Australia, wonderful things happen. Both have a need for love and reassurance as they deal with the problems in their daily lives. Back and forth the letters go: Andy shares the problems his dad's downsizing caused, and Grandma Rose shares past memories that astonish her grandson and his friend, Kelly.  Googling the weird and wonderful Aussie critters that visit Rose's garden becomes a hobby for Andy and Kelly.  Together they use their letters to shrink the Pacific Ocean into a puddle they can easily ford. 
I have to admit that writing this book took me back to my Aussie roots. Once I started, memories flooded in, warm, funny, and sometimes a little sad. In some ways Down Under Calling  is tribute to my mum. She was the heart of our home, and the stories Grandma Rose tells Andy in her letters are ones Mum told me when I was a child, or that Mum and I experienced together. Mom was an extremely shy lady. She wold never be able to tell you these stories herself.  So that left me to fill the gap, and offer her wonderful stories to a wider audience than she could ever have imagined.  I still miss her.

                                                                                                          Mum and Dad

I hope young teens will enjoy Grandma Rose's stories, and identify with Andy and Kelly about divorce and blended families, and the heartache of having a parent downsized, and then losing your home because of it. Down Under Calling brings together two generations, across an ocean and across time.  It shows that families who pull together with love and honesty can make it - no matter what.


OTHER BOOKS by Margot on Amazon

The Revenge of Thelma Hill

Picture Books

Kangaroo Clues 
Mama Grizzly Bear
Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind
Horatio Humble Beats the Big D
Rattlesnake Jam


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25. HALLOWEEN READING - Chills and Thrills!





ween. . . Is Coming!


Dare to read

The Revenge of Thelma Hill

Kindle - Smashwords - Nook etc


Goosebumps Guaranteed!


3x "Sneak Peeks" to tempt you. . .

The Gray Ghost returned to Frannie’s room immediately before the sun threw first light on Oregon’s Cascade Mountains. Moaning softly, the phantom hovered over Frannie. Fleshless fingers stroked her hair. Its wispy gray veils drifted in the air, smelling faintly of earth and damp.

“You and I will prevail, Frannie James. When our powers join, we will expose doers of past evil and ease troubled souls.” The ghostly figure channeled gentle and calming strength into the mind of the sleeping girl. “You must accept me first, Frannie dear.  Only then can our combined powers execute our will.”

As dawn’s rosy glow flooded Oregon’s Mt Hood with light, the Gray Ghost patted Frannie’s cheek. “Soon, Frannie dear.” The Ghost vanished in a whirl of diaphanous veils.


Dressed in blue jeans, a ‘Save Our Whales’ tee shirt and sandals, Frannie headed for the kitchen. The bathroom was on her side of the upstairs landing. Dad and Jeff’s rooms were opposite. Piles of empty boxes cluttered up the landing at the top of the stairs.
Rock music pumped out of Jeff’s room. As she passed, Frannie caught a glimpse of her twin, still in under-shorts, squeezing zits in front of the mirror. I don’t have much in the boobs department, but at least I don’t have zits. Way gross! Wrinkling her nose, she headed downstairs to the living room.
Glancing over the banister, she could see the comfortable chairs on either side of the fireplace. A fat sofa snuggled under one window. The computer and printer, both still boxed, sat under the other window, waiting until her Dad had time to buy a desk.
The Oriental rug they’d brought from Iowa would make rainy Oregon winters cozy, while the shelves beside the fireplace held treasured books and ornaments. A wreath of plaster roses circled the ceiling’s central antique light fitting. Love the roses!
Jeff pushed past her, rattled down the stairs, and beat her to the kitchen. Frannie shrugged and followed slowly.
Stains smudged the front of Jeff’s tee shirt, and his face looked pale and pudgy. He scowled at his bowl of cereal, as if it were personally responsible for messing with his life.
Who said twins were always close? Huh. . . They never knew Jeff and me.
He looked up at her. “What about laundry? When can I expect some clean stuff to show up?”
Frannie ignored him.
Dad came into the kitchen in time to hear his son’s protest. “The laundry’s that little room to the left of the back door, in case you’ve forgotten.” He grinned. “You’ve two choices, Jeff, join a nudist colony or wash your own clothes.”
Frannie laughed. “Way to go, Dad.” She pointed to Jeff’s grubby top. "X marks the spot!" Giggles exploded out of her.
Red-faced, Jeff mumbled, "Smart-ass."
"No need for that, you two.”  He looked at Jeff. “Wash your own clothes and you won’t need to look like a reject from a grunge band.” He frowned. "And I don’t want to find those boxes still upstairs when I come home. Throw the empty ones in the garage. There has to be a recycling depot somewhere in Tigard." Coffee in hand, he went back upstairs.
Jeff grunted and stared into his empty bowl.
"Look, this move means a big promotion for Dad -- so drop the attitude, okay. I wasn't too keen on moving, either. You're not the only one bummed at leaving friends.”
"Yeah, well Dad had no right to make us move here. I don’t know anyone in Oregon. And I’m not likely to until school starts.”
Frannie wondered how this zit-infested excuse of a brother could be her twin? “Whatever! How about helping with the chores?”
Jeff scowled "Chores are for girls!”
Dodging the dishcloth she threw, his arm shot out and plucked it from the air. He slid from his chair, chanting, “Ya misse-e-e-ed!”
A hot gleam in her eye, Frannie wiped off Jeff’s smirk with a well-placed wet sponge. Jeff swung his arm, ready for a return throw.
“Stop it, you two, or there’ll be no pocket money this week. Good grief, can’t you two get along for five seconds. It’s like a wild rock concert around here – waiting for casualties.” Dad stood in the kitchen doorway.




Then something took shape close to Frannie’s door. Thunder boomed overhead. Again the unknown force stole electrical energy from the lightening. This time Frannie saw it happen. Lightening bounced around her walls, glowing chains of energy that lit her room with an eerie blue glow.

Snick - the glass in her picture of Lady Gaga cracked. Frame askew, the singing idol dangled on the wall. Frannie screamed. She dived under the covers, trembling from head to toe. The camera fell off her nightstand and rolled under the bed. The sizzle of electrical power hummed throughout the room. Frannie dared a peek from under the comforter.

Like a pulled Christmas cracker, Thelma Hill materialized in a wild burst of pyrotechnic energy. Brilliant green light surrounded her. And golden light, a thousand sparklers strong, fizzed and crackled around the edges of her gown.

The Revenge of Thelma Hill







Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques


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