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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!
by award winning author Donna McDine Illustrated by K.C. Snider. Guardian Angel Publishing.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
The BIG HOPPER Has Arrived! with all his Aussie bush mates!
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!
Aboriginal spirits made all things, Like kangaroos and birds with wings.
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 myDOWN UNDER FUN page.
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 MOTIVATION!
.. Others need the RIOT ACT! ..
YELLING is useless, mate. . .
So, how do you HOOK your child on summer reading? ..
A parent must be SNEAKY, DETERMINED and KID SMART! .. *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
BOOK TITLES .
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:
REVIEW "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.
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.
Song for Papa Crow - MOM'S CHOICE AWARD GOLD HONOR 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.
Below is the cover of Down Under Calling, my young teen tale about a grandma and a grandson, separated by an ocean, yet still managing to come together when needed - look for the"Google" effect!
Cover by Awesome Agy Wilson
It will be self published when I finish a few final tweaks suggested by my editor.
If you want a book illustrated Awesome Agy is my TOP PICK!!
Now we get to the PROMO STUFF.
You MUST have the magic of the Snipping Tool to create these babies.
Those in the KNOW say that people don't actually READ blogs, Facebook, Google+ etc - they SCAN the pages. A few succinct words, combined with a great picture (or two) work best to HOOK reader interest and make them CLICK that link. So, I have been designing LOGOS to use, like the ones above and below - logos that make my PITCH, without people having to plow through big bunches of words.
Those same knowing gurus whispered to me of NAME BRANDING. Like a ball point pen brings to mind BIRO. Like a cover for a cut means BAND-AID, and copy a document is XEROX IT!
Ergo. . .books for kids mean Margot Finke - right?
So, add that signature to everything. . . From your emails, to your underwear, to your bathroom towel monograms - OKAY.
SO WAD-A-YA THINK. . .?
DON'T BE SHY!
I WON'T BITE!
BUT I WILL CRITIQUE YOUR MS until it is "As tight as your granny's new girdle!"
COMMENTS are pleaded for!
And the Most worthy comment WINS a Kindle copy of my latest book
I have known Nancy Stewart for some years, and we both share a publisher.Nancy is an oh so talented writer, blogger, and great friend.Today I have the great pleasure of being a small cog in a Virtual Tour for her new book:
Bella Saves the Beach Illustrations: Samantha Bell
Nancy is the bestselling and award winning author of the fourBella and Britt Series books for children:One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer(which won the Children’s Literary Classic Gold Award), Bella Saves theBeach(which won the Gold),and Mystery at Manatee Key.The authorized biography of Katrina and Winter:Partners in Courage, is the story of Katrina Simpkins and Winter, the dolphin.
One Pelican at a Time and Nancy were featured in the PBS Tampa special, GulfWatch.All are published by Guardian Angel Publishing.
She is a frequent speaker and presenter at writer’s conferences throughout the United States.She conducts workshops and seminars and speaks to school children on writing and helping save their planet.A blogger with a worldwide audience, she writes of all things pertaining to children’s literature.
Nancy’s travels take her extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.She and her husband live in Tampa and St. Louis.
Bella Saves the Beach is part of Nancy Stewart’s award winning beach series. It features Bella and her friend Britt.The story is simple and charmingly told.The two girls love their beach, yet something bad is happening - beach goers are throwing their trash all over the place, instead of putting it in the bins provided.
With determination and some thought, plus help from their friends, Bella and Britt find ways to clean up their beloved beach.The author also introduces some intriguing beach birds, tide pools and crabs. A glossary at the back explains these creatures.
The illustrations, by Samantha Bell, have that sun drenched feel that yell, “Day at the beach. . .!”The story and illustrations fit together – like bare toes in sand!
Littering is a huge “green” problem today, and Nancy’s fun story encourages children to clean up around their play area – beach or park. However, don’t expect your kid’s room to be sparkling clean any time soon. . .
I recommend reading Bella Saves the Beach with your kids or to your class.
What kids read often hits home. What a parent/teacher SAYS. . . not so much.
Below is a SAMPLE from the beginning of my SOON to be PUBLISHED young teen book:
( Grandma Rose Spins a Web)
A tale of two generations divided by an ocean.
Andy, a grandson in Oregon, more interested in his own problems, than in writing to a grandma he hardly remembers.
Where the Pacific Ocean laps at the Oregon shore.
Rose Larkin, a grandma in Queensland, Australia, who misses her daughter and grandson. A lady with love to give and memories to share.
The path behind Rose Larkin's house that leads to the bush.
Both have something special the other needs. They just need to discover what it is.
On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, where water lapped the sandy eastern shores of Australia, Rose Larkin slept. She lived on the edge of the Queensland bush in a small town called Morningside. At sixty plus Rose was a light sleeper, so the sound of the rifle crack snapped her awake.
Silence. This was followed by the mutter of distant voices. Rose’s cat, Lady, sleeping at the foot of her bed, had not twitched a whisker.
“The same hooligans again I’ll bet,” she muttered, “Shooting at whatever moves!”
Stiff from sleeping, Rose threw on a dressing gown and headed for the back door. Outside the door she grabbed the long handled garden fork that leaned against the wall. She hefted it. Not a bad weapon – just in case.
A skimpy moon left the back yard in complete darkness. But Rose didn’t need a flashlight. Her feet had long ago memorized every pebble, dip, and curve that lead to the back fence. The voices now grew more distinct.
“Cripes mate, I killed somethin’!”
“Dumb git! I think you offed a roo. The old biddy’s heard us for sure. Let’s scarper!”The voices faded, lost in the far reaches of the wild bush area that backed onto Rose’s property.
Grim-faced, Rose reached the fence line. Soft scrabbling noises came from the bush side of the fence. Leaning the garden fork against a fence post she hiked up her nightie and dressing gown. Climbing over the broken section of the fence wasn’t easy. Rose struggled. Then came a tearing sound. Blast! My favorite nightie too!
Finally, she made it over the fence and into the bush, hoping to find whatever was making those distressed rustling sounds.Aha... She peered down at the ground around her – dim and blurry. Stupid woman - forgot my glasses! Her toe hit something furry. Kneeling in the darkness Rose searched the ground with outstretched hands.She felt something warm, sticky and soft. Oh Lord, NO!
In front of her lay a still warm but very dead female kangaroo. Snuggled beside his dead mum, yet very much alive, was her joey. “There, there,” murmured Rose. “Not to worry little mate. You'll come with me.”
It took a few more rips and tears to her nightie, but she finally got the joey over the fence and safely back to the house. Tucking him into a spare pillowcase, Rose hung the makeshift pouch on the back of a kitchen chair. The joey’s small head peeked out, all big ears and long snout, a wistful look on its face. The pillowcase, loosely knotted at the open end, was the best she could do to provide a pouch.
Oh-ho, he’s shivering.Mustn’t let the little bloke go into shock. Rose quickly filled a hot water bottle and slipped it into the pillowcase.A quick look through her winter woolies, and joey wore a blue beanie scrunched down over his ears - one she had knitted last winter.
“That’ll have to do for now. First thing in the morning I’ll find out what to feed you. Then I’ll phone the police. I just hope they catch the hooligans that killed your poor mum.”
Rose, chilled to the toenails, made herself a steaming cup of tea. The creature, blue beanie askew over one eye, ducked inside the makeshift pouch every time she ventured near.
“You just hold on ‘till I get you the right food, little mate.” Rose yawned and said, “Whoever said older people needed less sleep was nuts. I’m a bit long-in-the tooth to be hopping fences
. . . and in the middle of the night too!”She looked at the bulge at the bottom of the pillowcase. If she moved the chair into her bedroom, she might disturb him. What to do?
Dawn woke Rose to a raft of new aches and pains. These were mostly due to napping away the remainder of the night in an armchair close to her young guest.A hot shower helped, plus two aspirin. Several phone calls later, she had operation “save joey” well under way. The police promised to investigate, and the Lone Pine Wildlife Sanctuary had been most helpful. They gave her great information about joey care and joey food. However, it seemed they wanted her to look after the little bloke until one of their staff could come and take him off her hands.
“No problem,” Rose assured the nice lady from Lone Pine. “He’ll be jake with me.”
Bright and early, on advice from the Lone Pine lady, she took joey to visit her veterinarian. The Vet checked him out thoroughly and pronounced him fit-as-a-fiddle. He handed her a bottle and teat, plus a package of Kangaroo Milk Replacer.
“Just the ticket for a beaut young joey,” he told Rose. ”It’s a completely balanced diet. Easy to use, too.” He patted the young roo’s head and added, “Kangaroo milk comes in four strengths, for different stages of growth. Oh, and don’t forget to let him hop about a bit after you feed him, because he’ll need to poop and pee.”As she left, with the joey safely tucked into his pillowcase, the vet called, “Don’t worry, Rose, I’ve plenty more milk if you need it.”
The tiny ‘roo slept all the way home inside his makeshift pouch on the front seat. Rose smiled as she drove. Hmmm. . . Car travel seems to sooth animal babies as well as human babies.
Once home she put some of the kangaroo milk into a bottle, warmed it, and then took joey out into the garden. No more shivers, so she removed the hot water bottle. The beanie had disappeared, lost in the depths of the pillowcase.
Joey snuggled on Rose’s lap, still mostly inside the pillowcase, with only his head and two tiny front paws out in the open. He sucked like a trooper, both front paws clutching the bottle. After he finished drinking, Rose rubbed his tummy like the Vet said.He looked at Rose, twitched his nose, and then slid down into his pillow case pouch. A soft burp followed.
“Oh, no you don’t,” cried Rose. She grabbed the pillowcase full of soon to be pooping-and-peeing joey,’ and hurried to the laundry.“I’m too old to chase you around the yard,” she told him. Closing the door she gently pulled the baby ‘roo out of hiding, and put him on the cement floor. ”Pillowcase pouches don’t have bathroom facilities, mate – understand? Cement floors can be hosed down.”
He took a few tentative hops, and then looked up at her, head cocked to one side.
“You want me to turn my back?” asked Rose. Chuckling, she told him, ”I imagine my grandson Andy would be bug-eyed over a little bloke like you.”
A few hops later, and joey attended to business. Rose dealt with the cleanup while the perpetrator hopped around the laundry.
“Right-o little mate, time for a nap.” Two sleepy eyes blinked up at her while she smoothed the fur on his head. Scooping him up, she slid him into his pillowcase pouch. Joey folded himself into a ball at the bottom of the pillowcase, and slept.
Rose carried him outside. She hung his pouch on the back of her garden chair, and hurried to see if the mail man had brought anything worth reading.“A-hah, what have we here?” she peered at the sender’s label. “Well, blow me down, a letter from my grandson, Andy.” Pleased and happy, she went to her chair,ripped open the envelope, and read his letter.
55-A Pine Meadows Way
Portland OR USA
Mom said I should write, so here it is. I'm twelve years old. I'm in sixth grade. I have a friend called Kelly. She’s in sixth grade too. I'm real good at math and computers. But I don't much like reading, and English is boring.
My friend Kelly has twice as many computer games as me. I asked Dad for another music CD, but he said no. He said I have enough e-junk and computer games. Dad’s way tight-fisted.
That's about all.
From "Down-Under Calling"
will appear here again soon.
THE COVER ( by Awesome Agy Wilson )
Is also coming ASAP!
I would love to read your comments
. . . or opinions
Books for Kids - written with a WOW factor!
Manuscript Critiques - fluff up your pillows not your paragraphs
Visiting schools has always been a wonderful adventure for me.
However, the yen to go further afield, and visit classrooms that were previously too far away to contemplate, always nagged at me. I wanted to load up my Magic Carpet with books, ideas, and intriguing things that would "HOOK Kids on Reading," and even hook them on writing stories of their own.
I had an urge to fill receptive and fresh young minds with the thrill of writing stories, the fun of creating characters, and the satisfaction of finally feeling their fun plot come alive on the page.
Not to mention the pleasure of my actually reading one of my own books to a class full of (hopefully) eager listeners.
WELL, NOW I HAVE DONE IT
and it feels YAHOO-ish!
Or, "extra grouse" as the Aussies would say.
The school I Skyped with was in Maryland.
( No real names or school names for safety sake)
These Grade one students were old hands at using Skype. I was the bumbling new-chum. Such an array of smiling and eager faces. Such smart kids. Intelligence buzzed around that classroom like music from a well practiced orchestra, with the teacher, Ms. Mary Catherine, conducting and guiding all of them. I was nervous at first - after all, so much could go wrong! I had never Skyped a class before. Would they fidget and yawn? Would I fluff my lines, or forget what to say? Would I get cut off and be left with a blank screen? YIKES!! Everything sailed along as smooth as maple syrup on a waffle. I began to enjoy myself. I HAD FUN! Who wouldn't have fun with such a bright bunch of kids.
And these old hands at the Skype game loved to ask questions:
About the Mama Grizzly Bear book I read to them
About Aussie animals
I guess they would still be asking questions if I had stayed with them on Skype.
Bright, intelligent minds always want to know the HOW and the WHY of things.
Thanks to their teacher, I have just received a package of the most amazing drawings and stories from this first grade class. The idea was to write about someone they knew, and then draw them, with the things they liked about the person as a part of the drawing. I could not fit in all the pictures, so I chose just three for you to enjoy.
Every drawing was unique and super imaginative -
I LOVED EVERY ONE OF THEM
Ann drew this picture.
Jake drew this one.
Nora drew this.
Stephen drew this.
Note the eyes, hair, and mouths etc - all fit the descriptions of the people each child wrote about.
THEY ARE AWESOME!
So there you have it. Thanks to these terrific first graders in Maryland, and their teacher, I am no longer a new-chum at class Skyping.
I am sending this big hug, and many thanks, to
Ms. Mary Catherine and her amazing students.
Books for Kids - Manuscript Critques http://www.margotfinke.com
What's so hard about thinking up a plot, plus some great characters, and mixing them all together into one wonderful story?
You just KNOW you can Grab Readers by the Throat!
Sigh. . . Before you put finger to keyboard, please think about how you felt when you were ripped off by that El-cheapo plumber, mechanic and repair dude. So please, don't do the same thing to people who love to read. Let me guide you in the ways go good writing that is tight, terrific, with not a "waffle" in sight - all safely in the kitchen, where they belong, looking for the maple syrup.
Network among other writers and pick their brains. Join a good critique group. Their writing feedback and support will be a godsend in times of rejection - and there will be many. Read a bunch of books in the same genre you intend writing. This will give you a feel for the genre, and an idea of what publishers want.
If it has been a while since Ms. Writeit rapped you over the knuckles for that rash of commas, and those 4 line compound sentence, take a refresher writing class. Basic skills are vital. With that under your belt, you are ready to tiptoe into the morass of plot and characters.
What the heck is tight writing?Editors say you must have it. There are tight shoes, tight schedules, and tight budgets. Everyone knows what those mean. However, mention tight writing, and many of you scratch your heads. I'm hoping that by the time you reach the end of this, tight writing will no longer be a mystery.
Focus Is The Key:
Keep your focus on what moves the story along. Avoid side paths that hijack your plot and take the story nowhere. Rough out an outline of your idea - beginning, middle, and ending. Keep an eye on the small details. Good pace and tension building are harbingers of tight writing and a great story. Powerful verbs, evocative adjectives, and terrific dialogue promise your story will be a winner. Never use 10 limp and overused words, when 5 powerful and active ones do a better job. Use your Word Thesaurus to conjure up words that "speak" to your readers, and paint vivid mental pictures they will remember.
The Characters: Understand your characters. Get under their skin. Make them so real they jump off the page. When you feel connected to your characters, there is less chance of them wandering off into gratuitous situations. Tight writers hold the reins. Feed your reader snippets of back story in each chapter, so your characters grow richer and more compelling as the chapters flow past. Give each character their own unique "voice." Do this with words, mannerisms, and actions that come to be associated with each individual character. Never let your villain outshine your main POV (point of view) character.
The other VOICE: Yes, there IS another voice that is just as important - your own writing "voice." This is the way you string sentences, paragraphs and chapters together. Time, practice and experience come together at some point, and they create your writing voice or signature. It is the style you bring to each paragraph. The way you write a tense scene. Or a specific choice of words and actions. If readers like the "voice" you bring to your writing, you HAVE them by the throat!
*Writing Plots that GRAB Your Reader: Keep a tight focus on where your plot takes the characters. Before you start to write, have a good idea of the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story. When your plot is up-in-the-air, your characters tend to wander off into unnecessary back-roads. You must invent pointless situations to push them back into the main plot. The result is wordiness (waffling on), rather than tight writing. A good rule of thumb: If it does not move the story forward - CUT IT! *The Sub-plot: Focus on crafting a sub-plot that enriches your overall story. Don't allow it to overshadow the main plot. Secondary characters become more appealing when linked to an intriguing sub-plot. If you allow the sub-plot to wander too far a-field the story becomes bogged down. Tight writing is never long-winded.
Fiction Is Born When… # 1 - You have a story in your head that you are eager to write. # 2 - You have a bunch of characters in your head that tell you what to write. Either way can give you a tight and terrific story. But only IF you keep your focus on what moves things along.
If You Write Like #1: It would be a good idea to make a list of your characters, as well as a rough outline of the plot, and where it takes them: from chapter to chapter. Think about your main characters with great care. Do a family profile for each one. Even if you don't use all the details in the profile, you will have fun concocting it, and more importantly, feel much closer to them. They will really begin to "live" in your head. It will be easier to focus on them and their personalities -- fit them neatly into your plot. All this attention to detail focuses you, the writer, on what is important. Tight writing is always well focused.
If You Write Like #2: Here the task of focusing on tight writing is harder. Think of your story as a herd of cattle stampeding through your mind. You have a prime story, but the ideas need to be herded, branded, and the sickly ones culled. You need to ride high in the saddle and crack the whip. Focus on disciplining the raw elements rushing around inside your head into a tight and cohesive story. A stampede of words is never called tight writing.
Highlighting The Small Stuff: I wrote about the "biggies" first. Yet there are still many pitfalls that can reduce tight writing to a sea of rubble.
*Qualifiers and Adverbs: These are often one-and-the-same. Go through your writing with Word Find (Control +F) and prune these pests. Hordes of words like, just, very and some, etc., throw tight writing out the window. Look askance at all adverbs. If your verb is good and strong, an adverb is usually unnecessary. Occasional use is fine. Adverbs have become a habit in our speech, and this tendency is often repeated in our writing. Do you find yourself repeating a certain word more than once on every page? BE aware. Use Find/Replace to hunt it down. Replace with an alternative.
*Beautiful Descriptive Passages You Feel You Must Keep: We writers fall in love with what we write. We hate to snip a word. If you must have that lovely descriptive passage, or lengthy detail, be ruthless- cut it back by one third. Remember, needless details sink tight writing. Reiteration Is Not Always A Good Thing At the top of the page you write about Jamie falling off a ladder and hurting her knee. You gave adequate details. Near the bottom of the page, you repeat this, using slightly different words. Check your pages for this type of unnecessary repeat. Often, writers are unaware that they double-dip information. Reiteration is useful when you want the reader to remember something that happened several chapters back. Keep it short-and-sweet. Jog the reader'smemory,and then move on. Avoidable reiteration is the opposite of tight writing.
Finale: So there you have it. Tight writing from A to Z - or at least a good beginning. Tight will get you published. Tight will have you read. Tight will earn you royalties and accolades.
Tight writing will GRAB your reader by the throat!
HOOK KIDS on READING is where you'll find great books.
Or, BOOKS WORTH READING for adults.
BLOGS THAT ROCK are right there.
Pins for SPECIAL NEEDS KIDS and ADULTS - Yes Siree.
Interesting INTERVIEWS and MORE - right this way.
SELF-PUBLISHING is waiting for you.
Want to BE A GREAT PARENT? You got it!
TEACHER/CLASSROOM help is waiting. BOOK PROMO SECRETS are there too. BOYS ONLY is a must! Try SKYPE in the CLASSROOM Discover MANUSCRIPT CRITIQUES. For parents who care: HOME SCHOOL. KINDLE - iPOD etc - just for YOU! Enjoy COOL ART and COVERS Dive into PINTEREST PLUS!
Thanks to both these writers for honoring me and this blog. You are talented, supportive, and a really nice ladies!
“I am now extending the “Sunshine Award”to 5 more Bloggers.”
This prize is given to “bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere.” As an award winner, here are some suggestions to follow for this Award.
1. Thank the person who gave you this award. 2. Answer the questions below about your favorite things. 3. Pass this award on to fabulous bloggers who bring sunshine into your life, link their blogs, and let them know you have awarded them
These are some of my favorite things: Favorite Color – pink Favorite Animal –Dogs or Cats (impossible to choose) Favorite Number –7 Favorite Drink – coffee Facebook or Twitter – Facebook Your Passions – Reading and writing Giving or getting presents – Giving Favorite Day –Sunday Favorite Flowers – Pink roses.
Here are the 4 blogs I have chosen to receive the next SUNSHINE BLOG AWARDS.
Many thanks to each of these bloggers for offering blogs full of great writing, and wonderful advice. Please go check out every Blog. Each has a unique way of getting their message cross.
Just because I look sweet and harmless - don't be fooled! I'm one tough broad when it come to books and self- publishing. ROAR-R-R-R-R!
So, let's break it down into your reasons for going this route in the first place.
You are fed up with the rejection, and waiting months-and-months to discover your book is unworthy. And one bathroom papered in rejection slips is ENOUGH! Maybe there's a good reason WHY you keep getting those rejections
You think it will be a lot easier than snaring a traditional publisher. That noise is me rolling on the floor - hysterical !
You've read lots of books, and you can write a better story than most - you think! Would you ask a man with no plumbing experience or training to quell the flood in your basement? NO you say! Then WHY think someone (you) without proper skills and knowledge, can write and self publish a successful book?
Several publishers with nice looking websites are vying for your business. Oh dear! RUN to the closest Predators and Editors, and dive in to save your sanity and your money!
ARE YOU BEGINNING TO GET THE PICTURE?
Understand that the competition is fierce. Meet the competition. Every person in the world is absolutely sure they can write a best seller. Most have no talent and no clue - but that doesn't stop them from writing and self-publishing and opus or two. If you want your book to rise like the cream in the proverbial milk jug, you have to master 4x things.
FIRST - Master the craft of writing well. This takes time - patience - networking among published writers - picking brains - lots of rewriting, and input from a really dedicated critique group.
SECOND - Editing - You can only do so much yourself. When you and your crit group feel it is as polished as you can make it, that is the time to shell out the bucks needed, and have a qualified person EDIT IT.
THIRD - Learn the tricks of the self-publishing game - or DIE a lingering death! Take the time to research and mine the copious information available on many writing and self publishing lists. Ask questions, delve deep - especially if you want to print in paper as well as on Kindle, Nook etc. Ask those you know who they used, and who is the best in the field of self- publishing. Research printers, paper, and prices, prices, prices! This is BUYER BEWARE territory. No use crying later, if you didn't do your homework BEFORE you chose that !@#$ publisher, or stumbled through the process yourself, ill- equipped and in a funk!
FORTH - the art of promotion. Remember one thing. Your book will eventually be finished, edited and published. BUT - promotion never ends! It means searching for clubs, organizations, blogs, groups, bookstores, reviewers, interviewers, newspapers, schools, niche markets etc. These and MORE, are places where readers who might buy your book hang out. Become a literary bloodhound. Develop a NOSE for tracking down potential customer sites. Make a name for yourself and your book in our present day Social Networking Jungle - + create a SUPER bog.
Learn how to write a HOT and succinct Press Release. Discover the gentle art of twisting arms and cajoling favors. Create cute bookmarks and business cards that spread the word - YOU ARE AN AUTHOR! Track down the niche markets your book fits and be relentless. Send them that perfect Press Release. Follow up with a phone call. Pay a visit. Like a great car salesman - never take NO for an answer. Bribe them with freebies, your valuable time, or a writing competition might work - whatever it takes. If you have them, conscript friends and relatives. E-mail them cute promos for your book and where it can be purchased. Ask them to send it to friends, and every Social Network they are on. Think out of the box! Virtual Book Tours, author interviews, and ordinary blog promotion has become a big YAWN! And never forget your pages and profile on Kindle, Nook, and elsewhere. UPDATE often.
WOW! Are you out of breath reading this? I am, just writing it all. Am I doing all this stuff for "The Revenge of Thelma Hill," the ghost mystery I self-published, with help and cover art from Agy Wilson?
Hell no! Are you out of your mind. I'm telling you how it SHOULD be done if you were 20 years younger, and 30 pounds lighter than me. Blimey, mate, I have palpitations just thinking about all this - and I only hit the high points!
If you enjoyed this,
Next week we'll dabble in the waters of how to . . .
My writing is a habit I can't kick - an addiction if you will. To not write is unthinkable! Over the years my best stories came to me in the middle of the night. They had me creeping into the bathroom to write them down before they became lost, along with my other dreams.
Some flowed into my computer as smooth and easy as honey on hot toast. Others were stubborn, difficult, or just plain antsy. I had to cajole, threaten and bribe the characters to stick with the program - MY program. I won some and I last some. Yet however the story finally ended, I fell in love with it. I even admit that the characters sometimes had better plot ideas than I. Shush. . . don't spread that around, mates.
I wrote each story with the idea of HOOKING kids on reading. Teach a child to love books at an early age, and you make them into lifelong readers. And the way to do that is to read them books that have giggles, fun, adventure, love, and that unique WOW factor that makes them into re-readable favorites.
I love each book I wrote, and I am hoping to make converts out of YOU!
A coming of age adventureset in the Aussie Outback.
Blimey, whoda thunk that a sulfur crested cockatoo named Claude could become such a great character, along with a young aboriginal boy called Taconi, + a Man Ceremony, a bunch of witchetty grubs, and a freaked out emu.
Featuring the grandchildren of Taconi and the Boss, in a fight to survive an outback walkabout, a crazed Medicine Man, and sibling rivalry that begins with a lie and expands to threaten friendship and family. .
A ghost with a determination to make her killer pay, has searched forty years for help. Frannie James is her last chance. The ghost, and her giant arachnid "familiar," are hard to resist. Add a twin brother, a missing Mom, a few e-mails, and a handy frying pan. Killer is caught!
If these tantalizing story tit-bits don't whet your reading appetite. . .
Penelope Anne Cole, after various positions in HR and Teaching, now writes and review children's books. Her reviews and book news can be found HERE. One of her special joys is reading to children, and encouraging them to read on their own and love literature. Penelope lives in Silicon Valley, California, with her family and their rescued cats and dogs. She enjoys dog walking, reading, gardening, church activities, singing in choir, and watching select TV shows: drama, comedy, romance, crime solving, and happy-ending movies.
Although she has written throughout her life, "Magical Matthew" is her first published children's book. It celebrates the magic of childhood and the milestone of attaining "double digits."
Magical Matthew is a delightfully told story about a young boy with a unique ability. When Matthew discovers he can magically fix what is broken, he sets out to fix things that need fixing. Yet his magic can only fix things - sadly, not his best friend, Lily. With Grandma and Lily as allies, Matthew follows good family values. This makes even his trickiest problems come out right. The story also shows that confiding in a trusted adult is a good thing. Matthew is such a likeable little boy, that kids everywhere will root for him to succeed. A surprise at the end makes it very likely there will be an equally enjoyable sequel coming soon.
Kevin Collier's lively and colorful illustrations are the perfect compliment to Cole's magical theme.
I recommend this picture book for the fun read, but also for the gentle way it nudges children down the path of doing the right thing.
I am sure YOUR copy of Magical Matthew will soon become dog-eared with many readings.
Books for inclusion: Picture book, young adult - and all ages in-between!
I am fairly new to Goodreads, yet I do have a presence + followers and friends. As well as my own page of books there, I began a NEW group called GoodreadsHOOK Kids on Reading. Being fairly new to Goodreads, I have found it tricky navigating around and finding things. So I will be grateful for any help from old hands.
HOOK Kids on Reading is a PRIVATE LIST where members need to be approved before joining. This so our target audience, teachers, parents, school librarians, and grandparents etc, get to choose from books that are well written, and have received great reviews.
The best of the best! I have already invited a few authors who have written terrific books for kids and teens.
Email me at email@example.com if you would like to chat further about joining this quality book recommendation list.
A list of great book properties:
*Fun to read. *Kid friendly. *An adventure. *A mystery. *Educational details that are cool to learn. *Make ecology and being "green" a great thing. *Prove helpful in a kid friendly way. *HOOK readers with a WOW factor. *Tempt reluctant readers to keep reading. * NOTE: Traditional or self- published makes no difference. It is the aim of HOOK Kids on Reading to offer a selection of wonderful books - no matter who published them.
To JOIN and Include your BOOKS:
*GOOD REVIEWS that reassure parents, teachers, etc *Add covers only, a short description + a link where your book can be purchased. *A Book Trailer or a Video reading can also be added - see list of options on the top right. *To add your book, go to GROUP HOME and then click "PICTURES." See how I added my cover, and what I wrote will give you an idea. *"Pictures" offers a simple way for people to find information, and choose great books for kids. The "Bookshelf" section is more for reading, review and comments.
If the books we list show a consistent high quality, our target buyers and readers will return time-after-time. Let these books show what a fun and fascinating Magic Carpet Ride wonderful books can take you on. All aboard!!
Do you have one or more a children's books that received great reviews? If so, please consider adding them to "Goodreads Hook Kids on Reading" - where the books listed are perfect for the children in all our lives.
If you have read Natasha Yim's other wonderful books you will understand why I call this new epic a "treat."
I am very happy to be a part of the Book Tour that introduces this new addition to many readers book shelves.
Natasha Yim is a children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. She is the author of three picture books: Otto’s Rainy Day (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2000), which was a Kids' Pick of the Lists selection, Cixi, The Dragon Empress (Goosebottom Books, 2011), and the just released Sacajawea of the Shoshone (Goosebottom Books, 2012), the biography of the Shoshone teenager who traveled the American West with Lewis and Clark. Sacajawea of the Shoshone is an addition to Goosebottom Books’ award-winning first series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses.
Natasha has also published articles in Highlights for Children, Appleseeds, Faces, Vibrant Life, Mendocino Arts and other local and regional magazines, and her ten-minute plays have been performed at Mendocino Community College in Ukiah, Pegasus Theatre in Guerneville, Secret Rose Theatre in Los Angeles, and at the Short and Sweet Ten Minute Theatre Festivals in Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.
Natasha’s next picture book Goldy Luck and The Three Pandas will be released by Charlesbridge Publishing in January 2014.
Inside Natasha Yim . . .
*Has writing been a lifelong passion, or an interest that recently surprised you?
I've wanted to be a writer since I was about 11, so I can say that writing's pretty much been a lifelong passion for me. I received a creative writing assignment in my 7th grade English class and I was hooked! I used to journal a lot as a teen and I'd keep notebooks where I wrote poetry and short stories.
*Have you always been interested in American Indian history?
I have a little Native American ancestry in me and my ancestor has a really interesting story. I'm not sure how much of it is true and how much of it has been romanticized over the years, but the story I've grown up with is that my great-great-great grandfather, Chin Chun Hock, went to America to seek his fortune leaving Wife #1 in China. He eventually settled in Seattle and started a very successful merchandizing business. He is now known as the first Chinese settler in Seattle and his business, the Wa Chong Company, is frequently credited as the business that started Seattle's Chinatown. During his time here, he met and married a Native American woman who was the daughter of a chief. Family lore states she was one of the daughter of Chief Seattle and his second wife. However, my sister made some inquiries to the Duwamish tribe and the tribe disputes this saying that all his children were accounted for and they don't have any records of any of them having married a Chinese man. In spite of this historical discrepancy, Chun Hock did have a Native American wife with whom he had 3 sons (I actually have a photograph of her and 2 of her boys as children). Also according to family lore, Wife #1, who was childless, heard about this, traveled all the way to America unchaperoned, quite a feat for a Chinese woman of the time, kidnapped the three sons and ran back to China with them. Eventually, Chun Hock returned to China and the Native American woman followed suit in search of her sons. It is believed she died in China. You can imagine, this story has always intrigued my writer sensibilities, and it's still a story I very much want to tell one day either in fiction or non-fiction form, so I did grow up with a fascination for Native American history and culture, although at the time it was limited to my great-great-great grandmother's particular history. Until I was an adult, we didn't even have any idea what tribe she was from.
*How did you find your publisher?
The publisher, Goosebottom Books (www.goosebottombooks.com ) is a small, independent press that started in 2010 with their first series The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses featuring 6 amazing women in history. The second series, The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames featured powerful women in history with dastardly reputations. All six books in the first series were written by the publisher Shirin Bridges, but for the second series, the publisher and editor Amy Novesky put out a call for submissions for 1,000 word writing samples. I sent mine in and was one of 6 writers selected to write one of the books in the Dastardly Dames series. Cixi, The Dragon Empress was released in Oct. 2011. Both series received critical acclaim and the Princesses series was awarded the IPPY silver medal for best multi-cultural, juvenile non-fiction. So when Goosebottom Books decided to add a Native American and an African woman to the mix of historical women and asked if I would write one of them, I jumped at the chance. I chose to write about the Native American woman because of my ancestry and I suggested Sacajawea because of my fascination with her story.
*Do you find research fun and interesting, and how deep did you have to delve for this book?
Research can be a lot of fun and I always find very interesting facts about my subjects. For me, there's a slight bit of groaning when I first begin because research can also be daunting and overwhelming, particularly when I find a wealth of information and I'm trying to funnel it down to 2,000 words for a children's story. With Sacajawea, there was such a lot of neat historical and cultural information that it was quite difficult at times deciding what should go in the book, in the sidebar, or left out completely.
I found that not much of Sacajawea's story was told in adult books. She usually gets a mention in books about Lewis and Clark, but there were quite a few books written about her in the juvenile section of the library. I read about 5 or 6 books about her and perused a ton of websites. Sacajawea's story has always appealed to me because it's such a great adventure story and to travel all that way with Lewis and Clark, through the rugged American West, with a baby in tow just showed what a remarkable woman she was. While doing the research on her, I discovered that she was kidnapped from her Shoshone tribe by Hidatsa warriors at the age of 11 or 12 and taken 500 miles away to the Hidatsa village along the banks of the Missouri River. The Hidatsa and Shoshone had vastly different lifestyles, languages, culture and foods. Not only did Sacajawea have to adapt to this new environment but what she learned from both tribes played a big part in her adventure later on. I read some books on Hidatsa and Shosone culture and stories and found it totally fascinating.
*Do you ever plan to write for an adult audience?
At one time in my writing career, I thought I might want to write an adult book some day. But lately, I've discovered that I actually have NO interest in writing for adults. I am moving from picture book projects to middle grade and young adults though and I enjoy the freedom this gives me because you are less restricted by language and word count perimeters. So, I'm moving towards an older audience but if a picture book idea grabs me, I'll still write it. I currently also have a picture book project in the works.
*Are your family supportive of your writing – or mainly uninterested?
They are very supportive. I have 3 kids and my oldest daughter is often one of my first readers. She'll give me her pre-teen perspective on things and I'll brainstorm ideas with her sometimes, particularly when I'm stuck on something. She's also helped me set up books at book events and been part of the audience at my book launches and readings. My husband supports me by letting me go to writer's conferences and retreats where I can not only learn my craft and network, but rejuvenate myself. However, I think he's only just now beginning to understand that I'm not going to bring in the kind of income JK Rowling does and to understand what a lot of hard work it all is to not only create books that are published but what it takes to market and promote them as well.
Both my daughters are very interested in writing stories and my middle child has declared that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, so I'm very proud of the fact that through seeing my creative process and through my reading to them a ton when they were little, it has inspired their own love of writing.
*Are you in a critique group, and if so, did their feedback prove helpful?
Yes, I'm in my second critique group. The first one I was in lasted for 8 years then the members went their separate ways. This current group is a small one with only 4 members, but they're all such wonderful writers and their feedback is always insightful and very helpful. It's also a great place to go for camaraderie and support. We'll sometimes go to writing conferences or writing retreats together, and we celebrate each other's successes. We're all so busy though that we don't meet terribly often, maybe once every six weeks. My last group met every two weeks but I think every 6 weeks seem to work for us at the moment. I think every writer should have a critique group. Getting feedback from others about your work is invaluable. There are often things you don't pick up about pacing, language, characterizations, plot holes etc. about your own writing. If your writing group can spot writing errors, so can your readers.
*There are others in this series, right? – do tell us about them.
Yes, Sacajawea is a new addition to Goosebottom Book's first series, The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Real Princesses. The series features women, real-life princesses, who have attained amazing achievements in spite of incredible odds and made their mark on history. The princesses are: Hatshepsut of India, Sorghatani of Mongolia (the mother of Kublai Khan), Isabella of Castille,Nur Jahan of India,Artemisia of Caria, Qutlugh Terkan Khatoun of Kirman, and now Sacajawea. These women defied the cultural and gender biases of their times to accomplish extraordinary feats (Artemisia became an admiral and led a navy into war, Nur Jahan rode an elephant into battle, Hatshepsut became the first female pharoah). They're stories of empowerment for girls, and they span across different times, countries, and cultures, and every book has sidebars that include "What She Ate", "What She Wore", and "Where She Lived" which gives readers some historical context and a glimpse into the lifestyles of the time period in which these women lived.
*How can people buy your books – paper, Kindle, ebook or all three?
The book is in hardcover and can be purchased at your local bookstore, from the publisher's website: www.goosebottombooks.com, the distributor's website: www.ipgbook.com, from Amazon.com, Barnes & Nobles.com, and on my website: www.natashayim.com.
*What do you think a book's plot and characters must have to GRAB the red hot interest of this teckie minded younger generation – even nonfiction needs to HOOK the reader.
Compelling characters that your readers can relate to. Sometimes with non-fiction, it's easy to get bogged down with the details and historical facts. In Sacajawea's case, there were so many little interesting tidbits about her and the Lewis and Clark expedition (some of these ended in the sidebars), and in my last book Cixi, The Dragon Empress, the political climate and intrigues of Cixi's day really informed how she responded to situations as a ruler and a person. It's tempting to put all this in. My editor kept asking me one key phrase, "What is her story?" Behind the factual and historical data is the story of how a woman from a modest upbringing, entered the Forbidden City, bore the emperor's only son, and became the most powerful person in China, the first time a woman had accomplished this in 1,000 years. It's the story of how a young Native American girl faced and survived the most traumatic event of her life—being kidnapped by an enemy tribe—to be taken on the adventure of a lifetime and become the most famous woman in American history. How must Cixi have felt to first see the opulence of the Forbidden City, and for Sacajawea to be reunited with her brother and her Shoshone tribe again after six years? What must Cixi have thought when she saw her beloved Summer Palace lying in ruins after the foreign powers invaded Peking, or Sacajawea when she finally saw the pounding waves of the Pacific Ocean? Of course, I didn't have first hand knowledge of this, and the challenge was trying to make these incidents visual or personal enough so kids can sense the horror, awe, anger, excitement of these women's experiences. There's a universality to these emotions. The fun part of writing these books was making history and the lives of these women come alive.
*Tell my readers something about yourself that you have never shared before. Funny or shocking, they lap it all up, mate.
I've always had this deathly fear of tidal waves. I've never seen a tidal wave in person or even heard much about them. I'm not sure where the fear came from, but I used to be haunted by recurring dreams of tidal waves. In the dream, I'm on the open top deck of a cruise ship. Suddenly, the sea gets rough, tosses the ship about, and this huge wave forms and towers over us putting everything in shadow. I usually wake up as the wave is about to crash down on the ship, my heart in my throat and a gripping panic pulsating through my body. When the 2004 Tsunami hit South East Asia, that's when I actually first saw the devastation of a real-life tidal wave. I was appalled and horrified by the destruction I saw in the news footage, but yet also strangely fascinated.
Guardian Angel Publishing - Academic Wings Follow the water droplets in their journey from the clouds to the earth and back to the clouds again. Written in a lyrical style, the book takes a new angle on the water cycle by showing the feelings it evokes in people.
About the author: 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 such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Visit her Website and get the first two lessons of her popular Walking on a Rainbow Picture Book Workshop FREE!
This author knows a thing or two about writing books that are fun, educational, and also HOOK a child's interest. The illustrations by Alex Morris marry perfectly with Mayra's words. Read this to your child - you will both learn that water is not all wet.
So, now for the inquisition . . . my questions and Mayra's answers:
This Urban Faerie Tale is a twist on the classic ‘Hero’s Journey,’ made relevant for contemporary readers due to its metaphysical slant. Seth Bauman, the protagonist, has had a tough childhood in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood. The unanswered questions surrounding his mother’s departure soon after his birth have left him feeling abandoned. But the truth that will set him free, and the forgiveness he must find within himself, can only be unearthed in a whimsical realm known as ‘The Interior.’ It is the boatman at the bottom of the L.A. Wash, quite possibly a homeless man who has befriended Seth, who will lead him ‘through the rabbit hole.’
Though Seth’s reality is harsh, the world into which he escapes is at turns whimsical, absurd, poetic, and sublime. It is here that he will learn the skills he needs to cope, and return to Silver Lake with the means of his family’s escape toward a better life. The only question is- is the Interior an alternate realm worth saving, or just
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The following piece was sent to me by my cousin in Australia.
It has NOTHING to do with writing for children or books for children
UNLESS . . .
the Bible, children, and the Internet are somehow linked.
I just think it's a cool, fun, and really clever way to HOOK technology to a Bible story.
In the beginning. . .
In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself, a young wife by the name of Dot. And Dot Com was a comely woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.
And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade ...without ever leaving thy tent?”
And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, “How dear?” And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. And the sale can be made on the drums and the delivery made using Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).” Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent.
Halloween is almost upon us. . . So, light the candles, draw the curtains, and be
prepared for chains rattling and the occasional scream.
Are you READY?
Are you SAFE?
Are you AFRAID?
Are you with someone you TRUST?
I HOPE SO . . . for your sake!
BECAUSE The ghost of Thelma Hill is going to take you on a scary, creepy, fun ride down into where she now lives - no broom needed!
The Revenge of Thelma Hill is the perfect Halloween book for YOU to read.
A missing Mom, a ghost in dire need, an arachnid that guards the basement, and a killer who must pay! Can Frannie and her twin brother trap Thelma's killer, without joining her in the basement – permanently? Goose-bumps on every page.
Today it my pleasure to introduce an intriguing YA book titled,
"Save the Lemmings"
Nothing "fishy" about this story - promise!
Written by that talented and well published author of books for children,
Kai Strand writes fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale is set in the same storytelling village as The Weaver. She is a (very lucky) wife, and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.
I can appreciate her love of Oregon, because apart from loving Kai's books and the way she writes them, I also live in Oregon and love it.
About SAVE THE LEMMINGS:
8th grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident, and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. Will Natalie be able to overcome the lies being printed about her? And will she SAVE THE LEMMINGS?
*Did you ever feel like a Lemming when you were a teen?
I think if you had asked me then, I would have answered no. But when I look back on my middle and high school years I think I spent way too much time worrying about blending in, fitting in - NOT standing out in a crowd. If I had to do it over again (God forbid!) that is what I'd want to do differently. I wouldn't want to worry so much what other kids thought. I'd spend more time doing what I enjoy - even if it wasn't considered cool.
*What tempted you to write a YA WITH Lemmings in the title?
Two ideas melded together to make this book. 1) I wanted a main character who did something extraordinary and who was first revered by the media as a whiz kid, an example, a hero, but then they twisted that into something ugly in their never ending quest for a bigger and better headline. Frankly, I think this happens WAY too much in today's society and I feel that we (as the media consumers) fuel it by eating these gossipy stories and ridiculous 'reality' t.v. shows up. 2) I wanted the popular saying of 'being a lemming' to play a part. As I was drafting the book, I did a little research on lemmings and learned that the common assumption that lemmings blindly follow each other off cliffs in hordes was false, and that a huge company facilitated the lie back in the 50's with a documentary they produced. CRAZY! That fed into my theme even better than I'd ever expected. It is amazing the things we will just blindly believe!
*Did you need to do a lot of research about 8thgraders + the media?
The 8th grader part was pretty easy. I have four kids. My youngest is just now entering 8th grade, but over the last six years I can safely say I've known an 8th grader or two. I did read a lot of articles and watch a lot of news and tabloid shows to see how the media would report a story. I took particular interest in ongoing stories so that I could see how they treated the subject of the story as it unfolded.
*Do you ever plan to write for an adult audience?
I do have a couple of story lines that are adult focused, but I don't have any immediate plans to write them. I really enjoy writing for children, and consider myself so lucky that I am writing shorts for younger kids (www.knowonder.com), novels and the occasional short in middle grade and young adult. Each audience has it's specific needs in an appropriate story, which keeps my brain busy enough sorting it out.
*Are your family supportive of your writing – or mainly uninterested?
My family is AWESOME! My husband is my go to guy for when I have a plot issue I can't quite figure out. My kids will sit (and have!) for hours while I read my stories aloud to them. They answer questions I pose, they ask questions or offer input that is helpful. But the single most important thing they do is ask for more! "Have you finished the second book in the series yet?" or "Have you worked on that friendship story lately?" Recently my son asked if I could reread one of my longer novels. My first thought was that I didn't have the time, but then I realized that too soon he'll be grown and gone, and I won't have him to read to. So I worked it in. Each evening, the family sat down in the living room and I read several chapters. Really, a writer can't ask for a more supportive family than I have!
*Are you in a critique group, and if so, did their feedback prove helpful?
I've been a long time member of an online critique group. I love them. They offer great input to the development of my story and they provide me a safe place to whine. Seriously, they are so good for my mental health!
*Are you planning to write more books with this Lemming theme – a series maybe?
I've always intended SAVE THE LEMMINGS to be a stand alone. The tween novels I have published with Guardian Angel Publishing, The Weaver and The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale, are stand alone stories set in the same storytelling village. My upcoming young adult novel, King of Bad, is the first in a series.
*What do you think a book's plot and characters must have to GRAB the red hot interest of this teckie minded younger generation.
That is a great question. Good pacing is critical for keeping their attention. No saggy middles or else they'll switch their reader over to a game of hangman! Also, relate-ability. The kids must be able to relate with the issue the characters are dealing with. You can wrap it in a science fiction setting on Venus, but those aliens better be having a personality conflict with the head cheerleader or have an alcoholic parent or maybe the younger alien ripped his pants at school. But something has to be recognizable to your reader.
*Do you plan to publish a paper version later, or are you a die-hard ebook fan?
*Tell my readers something about yourself that you have never shared before. Funny or shocking, they lap it all up, mate.
I guess this is a good time to admit that I can relate to Natalie, the main character in Save the Lemmings, a little too well. I was such a prim and proper priss growing up, and my sister always teased me about it. She could - and did - belch the alphabet just to see me collapse into a pool of quivers. I couldn't handle anything that wasn't proper or that was outside the rules. I've loosened up a bit since, thank goodness.
Thanks for letting me visit, Margot!
It is absolutely my pleasure, Kai. And I so envy you the interest your kids have in your writing.
To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: www.kaistrand.com. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.