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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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1. 'Daisy and Bartholomew Q' -- EPIC FAIL Syndrome!

Fantastic Fantasy

Daisy and Bartholomew Q

PLUS outrageous critters like--
The Dynoroar, The Oogledork, The Featherbutt Bird,
and. . . Evil Big Crow.

by Margot Finke
Cover Art: Ioana Zdralea.

 This young tween fantasy will be published as soon as the cover to be completed.
Then, Soft Cover and Kindle pop-up will be your purchase choices.
(on Amazon and my website)

Daisy and Bartholomew Q. are an unlikely twosome.
She is a stubborn and feisty young teen girl. She likes to do things her way.

He is a slightly pompous fellow who loves books and reading.
He lives in a world of words, and his friends are astonishingly odd--to say the least.

With Daisy's procrastination teetering at EPIC FAIL,
Bartholomew Q. is sent to guide and advise her.

He will show her where to discover those
fantastic words that will earn her garden essay an 'A.'

#1- Where would he take Daisy?
#2 - Who would she ask?
#3 - WHAT words would she choose?

#1 - the Thesaurus ('G' for Garden section)
#2 - the Cousin Adjective Tree, the Mother Noun Tree, the Father Verb Tree,
and the Depressed Raccoon--WHO ELSE?
#3 - Fabulous words that describe a garden.
Essay due tomorrow morning.

Of course if you're like Daisy, you've put off writing your essay until
the last minute. A failing grade looms--plus the wrath of Mom!

OH. . .
and did I mention attacks by bizarre World Word residents,
Talking Trees, a depressed raccoon, and being kidnapped by Evil Big Crow?

So much fun and adventure--so many fabulous words.

I can't wait to see the cover. (the art here is only temporary)



Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/nogbdad


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2. OSCAR Needs a Friend - a Tasmanian Devel with a SECRET.

OSCAR Needs a Friend
Is my latest Picture Book

 It is my FIRST PB that is NOT in rhyme!

Wonderfully talented Ioana Zdralea is again working
on the fun illustrations.

Oscar has a SECRET. . . Can you guess what it is?

Below are some illustrations that might help
you guess what his secret is about.

Illo #1 sketches--plus the finished illo.


 Illo  #3 - full page spread

 ILLO #5 - full page spread


I only hope you love the story as much as I know you
will love Ioana's delightful art work

There will be 12 illustrations + the cover.

I am excited about launching this book in a few months--
when the illos are completed.

It will be in Soft Cover and Kindle Pop-Up
  (the same as Dreamtime Man)

Kindle Kids POP-UP  Books
are a great way to add extra fun or information.
Just tap the screen, and a small information screen pops up--
like Magic!


Books for Kids - FREE Skype Author Visits
Manuscript Critiques


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3. The GIVING CALENDAR - Give a BOOK each Month!

Make 2015 the year of 

Let this 2015  -  12 month
Remind you to give

A BOOK a month for 12 months

( An 8 page PDF you can print )

REMIND yourself  to GIFT a child with a
they will love and re-read.


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques 
Skype Author Visits


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4. DREAMTIME MAN Giveaway!

I am Giving away

I am giving away 5x Print Copies of
#Dreamtime Man

+ copies of my "Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book."

ONE copy can be won on each of the 5 days below.
Beginning December 11th.

Thursday - Friday - Saturday - Sunday - Monday

WIN Thursday the 11th's copy
by being the FIRST to answer this question:

Name a unique Aussie animal
that lives in gum trees. 

** Please add your answers to the

If you don't win Dreamtime Man,
ALL who add a comment will get a copy
of my FREE
"Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book."
Recipes for the food I loved to eat while
growing up Down Under. 


These Dreamatime Man copies arrived with a small
pale gray mark at the bottom of some verse pages.

The problem has now been fixed, and I decided
to give away the originals. My lyrically rhyming
tale, based on Aboriginal history, and the glorious
illustrations, are not affected in any way.


Books for Kids -Manuscript Critiques
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5. LOVE 'em with BOOKS

Love 'em with BOOKS this Holiday Season.

BOOKS that make terrific Holiday Gifts.
Now ON SALE @ Amazon

*Trial by Walkabout
is a great Aussie outback adventure--
a multicultural tale of sibling rivalry, aboriginal culture, danger,
and Dreamtime pirits--plus a friendship between two young teens

*Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind--
a rhyming story that tells how sudden BIG changes
can turn a sweet girl into a brat!
(parent teacher guide included)


 JUST PUBLISHED (soft cover)

Dreamtime Man
For young and old alike. . .
My rhyming tale, based on Australian history, shows how Aboriginals
survived the arrival of the white man, and eventually created
 a place for themselves and their culture
in the present day.


SAMPLE from Book REVIEW on Penny's Reviews and Chat:
"I'm a great, and long time fan of Margot Finke’s children’s stories, as you know. I’m completely enthralled with this new one, Dreamtime Man. It is absolutely one of her best. It’s in rhyme and powerfully relates the stories of ancient Australian aboriginal tribes who used to roam the wild, untamed lands of Australia. Her word pictures are perfect jewels."
**The illustrations, by Ioana Zdralea, are amazing.

 This SUPER Review is a huge thrill!!

**You can also LISTEN to me read the story HERE

Soft Cover $9.49 on AMAZON
Not on Sale. . . but worth every penny!


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My wonderful Grand-daughter Brittany
has just reminded me of what I once told her:

So what if Sunday, the first day of my Halloween giveaway, was a BUST--
I guess Facebook was not the right venue.

So today I am forging ahead with my
Halloween HOT SPOT Giveaway.

One FREE Kindle download to each day's WINNER
Oct27th through Oct 30th

EACH DAY I will give away
One Kindle download of

A young teen ghost mystery - chills and thrills galore!
 The FIRST PERSON to give the correct answer to
Oct 27th 

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**To WIN Monday's KINDLE download of “The Revenge of Thelma Hill,”
answer this question correctly:


Answers go in the COMMENTS below.

Come Back Here
every day.


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Time to plan a surprise
for your class.


My BLOG, "Skype Makes it Happen"
is a good place to start.

Take a trip to my PINTEREST Teacher-Classroom board for help 
and imaginative class suggestions.  Pinterest PINS make teaching more fun.

Then, BOOK my FREE
"Skype Author Visit"


*CHOOSE a time and a date

Before my visit I will send you the following:

*A FREE "Sneak Peek" inside my current books (pdf download)
*Information about the book I plan to read to your class
*Coloring sheets for younger classes
*Word glossary for Aussie books

An Order Form  + a brief Introductory Letter for parents -
so they can email me, and reassure themselves
about my books, or ask me questions.


Magic Carpet Rides 
are a rare treat! 


Books for Kids - Skype Author Visits


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Then, allow me lend you my
Magic Wand.

You'll need to supply the imagination yourself. 

I see so many of the same writers flashing the same book covers on Facebook,
Google+ and elsewhere. My DELETE button works overtime - I'll bet yours does too.

Then there are those that think reams of words are better.
Their covers are followed by mountains of text.


Wanna learn some MAGIC?
Wanna get attention for that book and cover?
Wanna halt that reflex delete?

"Snipping Tool"from Microsoft

Now you are ready to  

All this magic gives you a JPEG that is awesome.
You can SNIP anything from anywhere on the web - the whole page,
a picture, or only the exact part you want to use.

Snipping Tool Magic
lets you present your books in different ways on different days.

One memorable LOGO is worth 10,000 chunks of text!



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Writing a Middle-grade Masterpiece
Ain't Easy!
Originally posted in The Purple Crayon – on "Musings"
by Margot Finke

Libraries, bookstores, and online shops offer middle-grade novels of all types: inspiring, good, bad, and that iffy area in-between. I am sure every writer starts out with the intention of writing a story that inspires as well as entertains young readers. However, it soon dawns on them that hard work, imagination, and dedication are just small parts of what it takes to write a middle-grade book that inspires and entertains.
Like any other job or career, a potential writer must spend time learning the craft of writing for children — an apprenticeship, if you will. The rules are available for those who take the time to learn them. And once you learn the rules, you can take an occasional deep breath. . . and break them with impunity.
Secret Ingredients for a Middle-grade Masterpiece:
Trying to write for the older half of the middle-grade range? To appeal to kids on the cusp of adolescence: with raging hormones and today’s fast pace your main competition? From 10 to 13 years of age is the range I mean. However, kids find their own reading comfort level, so some 10/11 year olds might read YA books, while older teens might still be into middle-grades. It all depends on their maturity and individual reading level.

Here’s a preview of the ingredients you’ll need to dig out of your imagination, and your well-honed craft box, if you plan to whip up a great middle-grade book for those fickle 10-13 year-olds:
  • Tight writing.
  • Active and powerful verbs.
  • A plot that’s cool and fast paced.
  • Characters who are alive with authenticity.
  • Dialogue that is true to the characters.
  • A background rich with possibilities or mystery.
  • Your own unique writing voice.
  • Hints and clues that are woven into the fabric of the plot, and tell of past history and things yet to come.
  • End of chapter HOOKS that keep readers turning the page.
When completed, your middle-grade masterpiece needs to be somewhere between 20,000 and 60,000 words. Yes, I know Jo Rowlings upped the ante with her succession of Harry Potter books, and if your plot and characters have the same appeal as Harry, you too might get away with a larger word count. However, first-time authors might be wise to err on the side of fewer words.

Ingredients — How and Where to Find Them:
  • If it’s been a long time since you sat in Mrs. Learnit’s English class, take a basic English/Writing course. You can do this online, through a nearby night class, or your local college. Writers must have confidence in their basic grammar and punctuation skills.
  • Haunt your local bookstores and library. Read every middle-grade book you can get your hands on. Dissect the plots in these books, and the way authors create their characters. Look at the sentence structure, the way they describe events and places. Make notes. If a book grabs your interest, find out what it is the author does that has that effect on you. Is it their richly crafted characters, their sharp and fast moving plot, or their attention to all those small yet vital details?
  • Write as often as you can. Becoming a published author is not for wimps or hobbyists. Sacrifices are mandatory. If it means getting up before dawn, because that is the only time you have to write — so be it. If it means being bleary-eyed at 2 am so you can finish a chapter — suck it up! If it means living with dust bunnies that make your mother-in-law cluck, and teaching your kids to do their own laundry and room clean up — go for it! Most important is a partner who is sympathetic toward your (weird to his mind) need to write, and his willingness to help out around the house when you are suffering from one of your many writing frenzies. Perfect wife, mother and housekeeper, OR great writer? Both demand masses of time — your choice, mate.
  • If you have no middle-grade children in your family, volunteer at your local middle school. Observe these half-baked creatures in their natural habitat. Body language, peer groups, misfits and lunch room behavior: all this is grist for your writing mill. Moreover, you’ll probably have fun doing it. Make a note of what these kids read for pleasure.
  • Network with others who write for the same age. This means joining online lists where writing and publishing information flows back and forth, and you can have your many beginner questions answered. Join a critique group that has some advanced or published members. Their support and encouragement will often save your sanity. Critiquing the work of others is surprisingly informative, and you will benefit from the feedback you receive on your own writing. Below are three of many great online lists for children’s writers, and links to join.
Whenever possible, go to SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) writing conferences. SCBWI is well worth joining. They offer many advantages to newcomers, and their branches pop up in every state. This is where you meet editors and agents, and hear them speak about today’s world of writing and publishing. Meeting them often leads to you being able to send your manuscript to a specific editor: and with so many publishers today closed to submissions, this is a real plus. Other writers will also be there, keen to network with you, and share their writing experiences.  

The MAGIC of learning MORE will see you through! 

If you don’t have a college degree, or even a high school diploma, don’t worry. Talent, perseverance, and a slice of luck can make up for these so-called deficits. A dedicated and talented writer, determined to learn the craft of writing, and stick with it until they become published, will succeed. Boost your writing confidence with an advanced writing class. This will take you beyond grammar and punctuation, and into the meaty realm of plots, character enrichment, voice and pace. Perfect these skills, and acceptances rates multiply like rabbits. Below are three links — two links for great writing classes, and the other to terrific books on how to write for children.
  • Recommended Writing Class
  • Anastasia Suen — A wonderful writer. If you want to write for children, visit her Intensive
Other Websites That Will Boost Your Writing Knowledge:
  A must browse for beginners and experts alike. A veritable treasure
trove of writing information.

  • CBC  (Children's Book Council)
Information about writing, authors, books and publishing.
  • Writer's Market Research publishers. They update information regularly. They have a program where you can track submissions, but it cost to join. Writer's Market also has a free update site. You don't have to subscribe to the magazine to get the updates.
  • Jan Field's Website
     Chock full of writing help, and kidmagwriters.com is a terrific resource for
    those who want to write for magazines. 
  • CWIM (Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market). This hard copy book is the information Bible for publishers, editors, agents, and what they want from
    YOU in the current year
  • LINKEDIN is a place for serious writers.  Lots of writing lists for every genre`. 
Final Note to Prospective Authors:
Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep researching to find the right publisher. Keep sending out those finished manuscripts. Editors do not make house calls!



Books for Kids - FREE Skype AuthorVisits
Manuscript Critiques



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10. HOOK "Your Kids" on SUMMER READING

at your house

But can you HOOK your kids on reading this summer?

Or will sleeping late, mindless music,
or compulsive computer games

beat you - AGAIN?

There's a secret to this dear parents.
Find books that fit your child's interests.

*If they love sports. . . get 'em books that feature sports.
*If they like computers. . . get 'em books where the main character is a computer whiz.
*If your kid has been bullied - find them a book where the hero gets even and triumphs!

*If your kid finds it hard to make friends - or any friends. . .
find books that show the main character discovering
cool ways to make new friends.


Here are 2 awesome adventures that will keep your reluctant reader. . . READING.


And the follow-up book:


Both these fast paced adventures are set in the dangerous Aussie Outback
territory - if the heat and starvation don't get them,
the wild dingoes or the crazy
medicine man might.

You can read excerpts and synopses from both these books in my  
FREE "Sneak Peek."
An easy pdf download that offers a quick look inside my latest books.

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from my WEBSITE for autographed books,
and a FREE copy of my
"Fairdinkum Aussie Recipe Book."

 Instructions on my BOOKS page -
Or eMail me personally - 
mfinke at frontier.com

(Tucker I loved eating Down Under when I was a kid.)

Postage $2.50 per book - the cost of postage stamps only!
(Add 50 cents for each extra book.)


Take a "Sneak Peek" inside ALL my latest books, and choose
 a book your child will love reading.

for a FREE pdf  Download of the "Sneak Peek"

BOOKS also available on AMAZON, B and N, etc
(Soft cover and Kindle)


A Magic Carpet Ride
to fun, learning and adventure!

Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques
SKYPE Author Visits  (FREE)

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7 Rhyming Picture Books about Animals from
the US and Australia.
FUN as well as educational!

About ten years ago I had this series published in eBook format by Writers Exchange. This was an Australian publisher. CEO Sandy Cummins was wonderful to work with - helpful, supportive and open to suggestions. However, at that time eBooks were a novelty, and the eReaders of today were still a glint in their designers' eyes. The series received terrific reviews, but sales were dismal.  

Now, thanks to Sandy allowing me to offer the series to Guardian Angel Publishing, a publisher that specializes in child friendly and educational picture books, my Wild and Wonderful series is being published in soft cover, and will be available on Amazon and other sites:  Guardian Angel Publishing, + my websiteYEA!!!

 I am absolutely THRILLED that my Wild and Wonderful series is finally being published in soft cover.  It has been a long wait, but well worth the time and the effort.

                                                                 Already in soft cover and on sale are:

Now at the printers and available soon:

Never Say BOO to a Frilly: 

  Includes -   Never Say BOO - Rainbow Birds - Tasmanian Devil Dance

Coming Next:

Prairie Dog's Play Day:
  Includes - Prairie Dogs - Bald Eagle Rules - The Stinker (skunk)

Last 3 Books -  Coming SOON: 

*Don's Eat Platypus Stew -3 individual stories
*Squirrels Can't Help Being Nuts - 3 individual stories
*Humdinger Hummers - 1 story

Link to illustrations and news about my DREAMTIME MAN picture book.


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Let me say first that I am a 

It caters to all tastes.

It is FUN!
It gets you KNOWN!
It can help sell your STUFF!
And it can also offer great ADVICE and GUIDANCE!

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I have added a BONANZA of pins to the following boards:


For kids and adults who battle to overcome, subdue, or work around the life altering symptoms of Aspergers, Dyslexia, Autism, ADHD etc.  I was thrilled to add many new pins that tackle all of these problems, as well as offer hope and enthusiasm for the future.



Today I pinned you a big bunch of brainstorming help. Some really terrific ways for teachers to find help,  advice,  and new ideas. You teachers carry a huge responsibility on your shoulders, and you often get a kick in the pants, rather than the bouquet of roses you deserve.  Many kids spend more time with you than they do with their parents.  They look up to you.
Yeah, I know, some of the little !@#% don't.
                                             HEY!  You need all the help you can get, and this board has you covered!

(from land, sky and ocean)

These unique and fun bug, critter, animal. bird and undersea pictures could form the basis of a wonderful class project. The most awesome array of critters from every corner of our earth.  Terrific for a class project that lets kids each choose one or two animals to research.  Are they rare? Are they endangered? where do they live?  What do they eat, etc? Then, write an essay on what they discovered about these critters while doing the research.


My mouth actually watered as I pinned some of these luscious and taste tempting goodies!
Talk about every picture being worth a thousand words - some of these pictures were worth 1,000 calories - at least!!  I can see diets flying out the window ASAP.  Only kidding. There are lots of low calorie, low carb, and low fat recipes on my YUMMY board. . . Just no low taste ones!!

And if you still have a moment to spare
( several moments in actual fact!), do visit:

FREE SKYPE Author Visits

( It could keep your computer from blowing up. )


Books for Kids - Manuscript Critiques
FREE Skype Author Visits



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14. Margot's GRAB BAG


 Nothing romantic about this heart!

This is the terrible problem that was an ACCIDENTAL mistake by a programmer several years ago, was not picked up by other code checkers, and now has major sites and providers over a barrel.  Read more about how to protect yourself from Heartbeat on my "TECKIE NEWS and Help" board on Pinterest: <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->  http://www.pinterest.com/margotfinke/

Norton has sent me a link to a site where I can check all my most used web and blog lings to see if they are infected, or NOT with Heartbeat. A 2 second click, and you can reassure yourself about any site: <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->


I recommend KIM KOMANDO'S daily updates and website for advice on new purchases, scams, virus protection, and everything technical to do with computers and e-readers etc. Her Radio Show is nation wide.

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse with 'Heartbleed' ... they do.
The "Heartbleed" bug that has floored Internet experts around the world just got worse. Cisco and Juniper, two of the largest network equipment makers, said today that the vulnerability, which exposes encrypted data like passwords, is present in their routers, switches and firewalls.

For a complete guide to  Kim Komando’s "Heartbleed" coverage and help,
click here

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You need super reliable virus protection at any time, plus one other program that sweeps your computer's floor after your protection has done the rounds - just in case!  I have used NORTON for years, and it keeps me safe.  I also have Win Patrol - a nifty little program that among many other things warns me whenever anything wants to alter or add to my Registry.  COOL!!

The main thing for whatever virus protection you use, is to keep the program updated, do regular computer scans, and download the latest virus protection fixes daily.   Keep other programs, like Quick Time, Apple and Microsoft programs etc updated as well.  You can set these things to be done automatically.

Playing ostrich will not stop something bad happening
if you don't do YOUR part in protecting
your computer.


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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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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.


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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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19. 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.


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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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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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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.




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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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25. 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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