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Results 16,176 - 16,200 of 213,916
16176. Then and Now

As regular readers of this blog may have noticed, there is a theme for September. We I.N.K. bloggers are recalling important — perhaps life-changing — nonfiction books from our childhood. We are also contributing to a list of noteworthy contemporary nonfiction titles that will be compiled at the end of the month.
     Important nonfiction books from my own childhood are notable, mostly, for their absence. An exception is All About Strange Beasts of the Past, by Roy Chapman Andrews.
     This was perhaps the single most important volume of my childhood (an endpaper is shown — the cover was loved off). This book was probably responsible for launching my early career as a rock and fossil collector, a preoccupation that lasted into my teens.

Of course, memory — or the failure of it ­— is part of this story. I recently came across this photo of myself at a tender age “reading” what is clearly a picture book about animals, though I have no recollection of it.

But if, as far as I can recall, I had access to few illustrated stand-alone volumes about the natural world, I did have encyclopedias and field guides. The serial nature of these publications probably made an impression. My parents bought each volume of the Golden Book Encyclopedia at the grocery store as it was published (weekly, I think), and I eagerly awaited each new book. What I remember most clearly is the cover illustrations, but the interior graphics and information were fascinating as well, and quite sophisticated for the time.

I spent many hours with the Book of Knowledge, a more formal multi-volume children’s encyclopedia, and remember being particularly taken with the endpapers.

 I also owned a collection of Golden Nature Guides (Kelly Milner Halls describes her love affair with the Reptiles and Amphibians volume in her I.N.K. post of September 5th), which allowed me to identify many of the insects, snakes, field mice, and other creatures that I caught and kept in my room.

Today there are dozens of beautifully illustrated and/or photographed single-volume encyclopedias about the animal world. A few of my favorites (some of these books are written for adults, but the illustrations and photos make them accessible to young readers as well): National Geographic Animal Encyclopedia, Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia of Animals, and Smithsonian Super Nature Encyclopedia.

My own modest contribution to this genre, the Animal Book (October 2013) is a little different. At 208 pages, it’s an encyclopedia of sorts, but the entries are more eclectic and reflect my personal interest in the animals I included in the book.

There are still field guides, of course, but also related to those Golden Nature Guides, at least in spirit, are some excellent contemporary series by single authors, often focusing on some particular aspect of math, science, and the natural world.
David Schwartz has authored several of these series, including How Much Is a Million and related books intended to illustrate large quantities; the Look Once, Look Again series, which focuses on various biomes and animal parts; and the Life Cycles series. 

Loreen Leedy’s Mission Addition, Subtraction Action, Fraction Action, and other titles dealing with math and measurement provide playful, non-threatening introductions to basic math concepts.

And April Pulley Sayre’s quirky chant series, including Trout, Trout, Trout — a Fish Chant; Ant, Ant, Ant — an Insect Chant; and Rah, Rah, Radishes — a Vegetable Chant are hilarious, infectious, and full of accurate information about their subjects.

This is by no means a complete list of nonfiction picture book series, but it covers a lot of ground.

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16177. Guess the picture book

Presented for your enjoyment: a favorite page from some of my favorite picture books. 

All are from my childhood, with two exceptions. All are fiction, again with two exceptions. It is not a comprehensive list of all of my favorites, though that does not matter in terms of what I am about to ask you to do...

Can you identify each book from a page?

Answers tomorrow.

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16178. Meet Ella MacKenzie from Victoria Roberts’ To Wed a Wicked Highlander and Giveaway!

Please give a warm welcome to Ella MacKenzie, feisty heroine of Victoria Roberts latest release To Wed A Wicked Highlander.  After the interview, enter for a chance to win a copy of To Wed a Wicked Highlander!

[Manga Maniac Café]  Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Ella MacKenzie] First, thank ye so much for having me here today. ?Tisnae often I’m asked to speak to people from the outskirts of Glengarry. Ciamar a tha sibh? For ye non-Gaelic speaking folk, I asked how ye were today.

Mmm…back to the matter at hand. If I had to describe myself in five words or less, I’d have to say that I’m the adventurous type.

[Manga Maniac Café]  Can you share a typical day in the life of Sybella MacKenzie?

[Ella MacKenzie] Ye can usually find me in the garden with Aunt Iseabail tending to the flowers and pulling weeds. I find the task soothes the soul. And when I’m nae in the garden, I’m probably hunting with my bow or riding to the loch. Aunt Iseabail’s mind still comes and goes so I try to stay close to home.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What three words come to mind when you think of Alex?

[Ella MacKenzie] Kind, compassionate, and aye, sometimes infuriating.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What do you find most exasperating about him?

[Ella MacKenzie] I tell the man something once and he doesnae listen. For instance, I told him many times that I am a superior rider. What does he do? He gives me a quiet mount that is more suited for Aunt Iseabail. I had to look twice to make certain the poor beast wasnae dead. In the end, he realized what I said to be true, but if he would’ve only listened to me in the first place…Men. Stubborn lot.

[Manga Maniac Café]  If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?

[Ella MacKenzie] I would’ve ne’er let Alexander kiss me at the waterfall when we were young. I should’ve known better because the boy was arrogant even then. And he was a MacDonell. What did I expect? I honestly didnae know what was I thinking at the time. If my brother had come down and seen a MacDonell’s lips upon mine, there would’ve been a bloody war. But I was young and didnae know any better.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Ella MacKenzie] An escort. Someone has taken aim at me a few times in the woods and Alex insists I have a chaperone—although the man knows I can take care of myself.

[Manga Maniac Café]  What do you like to do when you aren’t spying on your new husband and his family?

[Ella MacKenzie] I find spying to be such a harsh word. I ne’er spied on Alex, Aunt Iseabail, Rosalia or Ciaran. I merely searched for my clan’s seeing stone. I actually do enjoy their company. Sometimes Rosalia and I poke fun at the men. That is always a good time.

[Manga Maniac Café]  Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.

[Ella MacKenzie] MacDonell and MacKenzie as one.

Mòran taing for having me here today. If Alex and I were to travel out of Scotland, do ye recommend a place for us to visit? Victoria just reminded me that Sourcebooks will give away one copy of To Wed a Wicked Highlander to a lucky commenter.

(US and Canada only, please)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the book:

She always wanted to be one of the boys…

Sybella would do anything to prove she’s just as valuable to the MacKenzie clan as her brother is. She’d go on any hunt, take any dare. But her father has a different sort of mission in mind: marriage. It’s simple, he explains. All she has to do is marry Alexander MacDonell and report back on his family’s secrets. It will be easy, he says, as long as she doesn’t do anything foolish…like fall in love.

Until she got a man

As laird of the MacDonells, Alex has a duty to produce an heir. It’s a duty he won’t mind with the lovely Ella as his wife?even if she is one of the dreaded MacKenzies. He’s wooed and won many ladies, but Ella is a challenge like no other. He can tell she’s holding something back. But not for long. Because inch by inch, he plans to expose everything she’s been hiding and claim the ultimate prize: her heart.

Praise for To Wed a Wicked Highlander:

Reviewer Top Pick

“Victoria Roberts knocked it outta the ballpark with this one!!! It is Highland romance at its best, loaded with likable characters, and an engaging plot with lots of angst and heartache that put a few tears in this reader’s eye. It was so good that I couldn’t put it down.”

?Night Owl Reviews

Reviewer Top Pick

“Roberts has created the baddest boy of the Highlands for her third in her series. This action-packed romance has everything Roberts’ fans adore: a strong heroine who meets her match in a to-die-for hero, deception, betrayal, love and redemption. To Wed a Wicked Highlander has all the elements that make readers sigh with pleasure.”

?RT Book Reviews

About Victoria Roberts:

Victoria Roberts writes Scottish historical romances about kilted heroes and warriors from the past. She was named by RT Book Reviews as "one of the most promising debut authors across the genres" and was also a 2012 Reviewers Choice nominee for Best First Historical for Temptation in a Kilt.

X Marks the Scot and To Wed a Wicked Highlander (Bad Boys of the Highlands #2 and #3) were reviewer TOP PICKS, and the first of Victoria’s new Royal Rebellion series is scheduled for release fall 2014.  
Represented by Jill Marsal of the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, Victoria is a member of Romance Writers of America®, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, several local chapters, as well as a contributing author to the online magazine Celtic Guide. 
Victoria lives in western Pennsylvania with her husband of twenty years and their two beautiful children—not to mention one spoiled dog. When she is not plotting her next Scottish romp, she enjoys reading, nature, and antiques. She also drags her clan to every Scottish festival under the sun.


Sourcebooks: http://www.sourcebooks.com/store/to-wed-a-wicked-highlander.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wed-Wicked-Highlander-Victoria-Roberts/dp/1402270127/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1373572622&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/to-wed-a-wicked-highlander-victoria-roberts/1114828092?ean=9781402270123

Website: www.victoriarobertsauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/#!/victoria.roberts.395

Celtic Guide: www.thecelticguide.com

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16179. Julia Asel Thomas, author of Loving the Missing Link, launches her blog tour!

& giveaway contest!

Loving the Missing Link is a fabulous tale about love, success, hope and music. During the 1970s, Young Cheryl Simpson feels trapped in her small Missouri town. As her mother tries to help her find a way up and out, Cheryl begins to feel that it is all an impossible dream. She sees herself living a boring and dismal life for the rest of her days. Just at the moment when she is about to give up on happiness, she gets the opportunity to join her high school band. The band promises a connection with the world outside her town, but Cheryl does not see any future for herself in music. It is just a tool to get where she wants to go. However, Cheryl’s mother arranges for Cheryl to take private lessons with an accomplished musician, who helps her realize the beauty and awesome power of music.

Still, Cheryl feels that small-town inferiority and finds it too hard to believe that she could ever be anyone special out in the “real” world. On the eve of a music contest that could help her earn a music scholarship, Cheryl begins to panic. Scared and feeling alone, Cheryl runs off with her high school sweetheart and gets married, leaving the band behind.

During the next years, Cheryl and her husband make a life for themselves. Cheryl meets friends along the way who help guide her to becoming the woman she wants to be. She becomes interested in the arts again. All the while, Cheryl and husband Jerry face the challenges of homelessness, miscarriage and an extra-marital affair before an unexpected disaster brings Cheryl’s life crashing to the ground. Cheryl survives, with the help of her extraordinary friends and her life-long love for music.

Paperback: 190 Pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing (August 6, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1480106240
Twitter hashtag: #LMLThomas

Loving the Missing Link is available as a print and e-book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Loving the Missing Link, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes this Friday, September 13th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author:

Julia Asel Thomas writes stories with vivid descriptions, authentic dialogue and revealing narration. Her debut book, Loving the Missing Link, presents the engrossing and moving story of a young, small town girl who grows up, lives and loves while trying to find a balance between despair and hope.

Like the protagonist in her debut novel, Loving the Missing Link, Julia Asel Thomas knows small town life. However, Julia’s experiences were quite different than Cheryl’s. Julia is the middle child of seven children and the daughter of a church organist and a business manager. Growing up in the small town of Hamilton, Missouri, Julia’s family enjoyed a reputation as a bright and interesting family. Julia thrived on the quiet and carefree life she lived in that gentle place.

When Julia was in high school, she earned a scholarship for a trip to Cali, Colombia as a foreign exchange student. The experience, although it only lasted a few brief months, had a profound influence on the rest of her life. After her time abroad, Julia realized in a very real way that, although customs may differ from culture to culture, the substance of human emotions is constant. We all need love. We all need to feel secure. We all have happy moments and sad moments. Back from Colombia, Julia become ever more interested in capturing these human emotions through music and writing.

After high school, Julia took a break before going on to college. During this time, she married her husband, Will. Will joined the Air Force, and Julia accompanied him to bases around the country, taking college classes in each town where they resided. Their two children were born in Las Vegas, Nevada, while Will was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. Married in 1976, Julia and Will are thrilled to celebrate each new anniversary and look forward to staying together for life.

Julia began writing fiction at the age of ten, when her 5th grade teacher gave her the assignment to write about “My Worst Day.” Julia took the opportunity to concoct every possible disaster a young child could face during the course of a normal day. The teacher loved her work and asked her to read it to the class. From then on, Julia wanted nothing more than to be a writer.

In 2007, Julia began earning her living by writing articles, press releases and website content for a number of clients. As she settled into a routine of working every day on her writing, the old urge to write fiction resurfaced. In 2012, Julia started with a story she had written in 1985 and continued it to create the story in Loving the Missing Link.

After Julia’s husband, Will retired from the Air Force, they moved back to Missouri and now live in Kansas City, Missouri. Find out more about this author by visiting her online:

Author blog: http://lovingthemissinglink.com/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7171277.Julia_Asel_Thomas

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JuliaAselThomas

Twitter: http://twitter.com/juliasselthom

-----Interview by Crystal J. Otto

WOW: Julia, I loved the little book store Sid’s Shelves in Loving the Missing Link, is that mirrored after a particular shop and did you really work at a quaint little book store?

Julia: No, the store was just a conglomeration of images and experiences I’ve had in similar bookstores around the Kansas City area. A book store called “Rainy Day Books” comes to mind when I think of a relaxed place to buy high-quality books, but Sid’s Shelves is it own unique entity. As I was writing, I came to enjoy the parts that took place in that fictional store. It just felt like home. I have never worked in a bookstore, but I did work in a library for a short time years ago. I loved handling the books and choosing the ones I wanted to read as they came through the back room, which is an element I included in the story.

WOW: I can picture you really enjoying a bookstore like that; glad you made it part of the story. At the beginning of Loving the Missing Link, your depiction of bassoon lessons and the instrument itself is very detailed. Are you a bassoon player and can you tell us more about the importance of music in your writing career and life?

Julia: I did play bassoon when I was in school. Unfortunately, I didn’t own the instrument. My parents had planned to buy me a bassoon if I had chosen to major in music, but I decided on English instead. I did take lessons from an accomplished bassoon player, but unlike in the story, he didn’t have to convince me to love the bassoon—I already did. Music has always been a passion of mine. Of course, nearly everyone on the planet enjoys some kind of music at one time or another. For me, music has been a constant companion. However, I am not able to play music as I once did. I have developed a strong tremor in my hands—enough so that I can’t play the piano anymore. I sold mine to my son Damon last summer. In fact, Damon was my inspiration for having Cheryl learn the guitar. He often comes over to my house, carrying his guitar, and when he does, I know I am in for a treat. I don’t plan on writing another story that is so heavily dependent on music, but who knows? It is an important part of my life.

WOW: Music seems to as important in your life as in your story, I have a feeling there will be more musical stories in your future. That was one of the things I really enjoyed about Loving the Missing Link!

I struggled with the insecurities of young Cheryl; she seemed to lack self-confidence and direction; is that how you felt as a young girl? What can you credit for pushing you forward as the independent woman you are today?

Julia: I started out being very independent. I only began to have trouble around 1985, when I was a 20-something student at Wichita State University. I had suffered a major crisis of confidence and was feeling very lost and insecure. The professors and other students were wonderful and tried to encourage me. I felt they expected too much of me, and I felt inadequate to live up to expectations. Not coincidentally, this was the time when I wrote the first two chapters of Loving the Missing Link. When I went back to it to make it into a novel, I tried to recapture those feelings in order to maintain some semblance of consistency throughout the book.

After leaving WSU, I floundered for a long time, not feeling strong enough or good enough to do anything productive. Then, one day, my daughter offered to set me up with her copywriting client so I would have something to occupy my time. In less than a month, I had transitioned from doing nothing to writing 12 to 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. The pay was abysmally low, but over the years it has increased tremendously. What is important is that the copywriting helped me develop a strong discipline for writing. It also made me realize that I could indeed do something worthwhile that could be valued by others. My life has never been the same. My independence, then, was a direct result of hard work and the increased self-confidence I gained while copywriting.

WOW: I’m glad you found the encouragement you need—no one wants to feel lost and insecure. It’s nice to have friends in your corner when it comes to self-publishing. Was there one person in particular who was really the driving force behind your publishing Loving the Missing Link?

Julia: I felt a strong sense of urgency to get this book in print. After all, I wrote the first two chapters in 1985, and my greatest dream for all these years since was to complete the novel and publish it. Now that it is done, I feel more patient. I am considering other avenues for publishing my current novel, a work in progress.

WOW: You certainly are patient. I'm glad you didn't wait any longer and that you kept pushing for your dream of publishing. More and more people are opting for self-publishing, so you are not alone in your decision. What is your favorite book? What is it about that book that you love so much?

Julia: My favorite book changes yearly. Right now, my favorite book is Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. It is actually a translation from the original German text, but the translation is so spot-on that it is a joy to read. Plus, Mann is such a master of description and characterization that it energizes me in my own writing.

WOW: Being energized and feeling supportive can make all the difference when taking on any challenge. Speaking of which, has your community been supportive with your writing goals?

Julia: I was invited to join the Kansas City Writers Group a few years ago. The problem was that I am not much of a driver and didn’t have any way to get there. Now that my husband is retired, he has offered to drive me any time I want to go. He is so sweet that way. So, I intend to get involved with them as soon as possible.

WOW: Sounds like your husband really is your number one fan; that’s so sweet!

When did you first consider yourself an author?

Julia: That is an interesting question, Crystal. In fact, one day in the last month, I looked at a friend of mine and said, “You know what? I’m a writer. I’m really a writer!” He smiled and said, “Of course you’re a writer. You’ve been making your living writing for years now.” I told him, “Yeah, I know I write. What I just realized is that it is what I am.” I suddenly shifted from the attitude that writing was something I did to the realization that a writer was who I was. It was a life-changing moment.

WOW: I’ve heard that same sort of story from artist and musician friends as well. Giving ourselves those titles seems to really change our outlook. You’re definitely an author now Julia; congratulations!

Cheryl’s relationship with her mother was interesting, is that any indication of how you and your mother interact? What role has your mother played in publishing your first book?

Julia: Actually, my relationship with my mother is so far from the one Cheryl has with her mother that they cannot even be compared adequately. My mother has always been a gentle presence in my life. I call her every Monday, and we sometimes talk for hours. Even when I was a teenager, I counted on my mom to help me put things into perspective. Cheryl’s relationship with her mom was really based on the relationship of a close family friend and her son. The mother saw the son as an extremely talented person, perhaps even a genius. The son is definitely bright, but he rebelled against his mother’s demands. He is living a peaceful life now, working in a restaurant and hoping to buy a boat so he can live on the water. He is a good friend. It is a shame that he didn’t accomplish more in the eyes of his mother, but he is very happy. And isn’t that the greatest accomplishment of all?

WOW: The happiness factor is definitely important and sometimes living up to our own expectations is more important than living up to the expectations of others. I glad your friend is happy and I hope is mother is happy as well in her own way.

Any sneak peeks for us about what is in your future? Is there a sequel to Loving the Missing Link? Another project?

Julia: I am so excited about my next project! I just resolved a structural problem that had me stumped for over a month. Now, the writing is flowing smoothly. The story is about these 5 people who are admitted into a psychiatric hospital. It is about how they interact with each other and how they respond to the help that is offered. Perhaps a more positive spin on “Cuckoo’s Nest.” I think it is an ambitious project; I hope to have the new book ready for edits in a few months.

WOW: I can’t imagine keeping it all straight and I can’t wait to read about the story—adding 5 different perspectives definitely is ambitious!

Anything you’d like to add that readers should know about you or Loving the Missing Link?

Julia: The main thing I hope readers will get from the story is a new perspective on what success is, and to understand the difference between hope and fantasy a little bit better. And I hope to inspire people to live the best lives they are capable of living.

----------Blog Tour Dates

Monday, September 9 (today!) @ The Muffin
Stop by for an interview and book giveaway!

Wednesday September 11 @ CMash Reads
Get in on the giveaway for Loving the Missing Link and hear from Julia Asel Thomas with her guest post "Life Long Learning and Self-Education"

Thursday, September 12 @ My Fiction Nook
Giveaway and guest post by Julia Asel Thomas today! She shares her debut work with Loving The Missing Link and speaks candidly offering insight in her guest post “Establishing a Writing Routine”.

Friday, September 13 @ Steph the Bookworm
Don't miss your chance to win a copy of Loving the Missing Link and hear what Stephanie has to say after reading this first published work by Julia Asel Thomas.

Monday, September 16 @ All Things Audry
Get in on the giveaway of Loving the Missing Link and enjoy a guest post by author, Julia Asel Thomas with the fun topic of “Life Experiences in Fiction”

Wednesday, September 18 @ Selling Books
Don't miss today's author interview with Julia Asel Thomas and find out more about her debut book Loving the Missing Link!

Tuesday, September 17 @ Create Write Now
Julia Asel Thomas writes about "Therapeutic Journaling" in her blog stop at Create Write Now - also happening at this stop is a giveaway of Julia's first published works Loving the Missing Link. Don't miss this stop!

Thursday, September 19 @ Thoughts in Progress
Today is your day to hear what Julia Asel Thomas has to say in her guest post about "Journal Writing to Enhance Your Fiction" and an added bonus - get in on the giveaway of Julia's new book Loving the Missing Link (#LMLThomas)!

Friday, September 20 @ The Book Bag
The Spotlight at the Book Bag is none other than Julia Asel Thomas and her New Adult Novel, Loving the Missing Link (#LMLThomas); check out this great blog stop and get in on the givewaway!

Monday, September 23@ Bring on Lemons
Giveaway and guest blog stop for Julia Asel Thomas, author of Loving the Missing Link - Julia visits the lemons to lemonade blog and shares her wish for music education titled: "Channeling the Spirit of Professor Harold Hill". Don't miss this stop and giveaway opportunity!

Tuesday, September 24 @ Words from the Heart
Join author, Julia Asel Thomas as she discusses "The Pros and Cons of Teen Marriage" and offers a giveaway and some insight into Loving the Missing Link. Find out more about Julia and her first published book!

Wednesday, September 25 @ Words by Webb
Hear from Jodi Webb as she reviews Loving the Missing Link by Julia Asel Thomas - don't miss this great giveaway and insight!

Thursday, September 26 @ I’d So Rather Be Reading
Join Julia Asel Thomas, Author of Loving the Missing Link as she blogs about "Choosing Your Words Carefully: a guide to finding the best verbs for your purpose" and don't miss this giveaway of her newly published work!

Tuesday, October 1 @ Mom-E-Centric
Julia Asel Thomas, Author of Loving the Missing Link offers a giveaway opportunity and shares her insight on “Finding Realistic Hope” this is something we can all benefit from; don’t miss this tour stop!

To view all our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar. Keep up with blog stops and giveaways in real time by following us on Twitter @WOWBlogTour.

Get Involved! If you have a website or blog and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email us at blogtour@wow-womenonwriting.com.

Book Giveaway Contest: Enter to win a copy of Loving the Missing Link Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. We will announce the winner in the Rafflecopter widget THIS Friday, September 13th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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16180. Spotlight and Giveaway: Tempted in the Tropics by Tracy March

Tempted in the Tropics by Tracy March

About the book:

The only thing they agree on is the sultry heat between them.

Nothing’s more important to Paige Ellerbee than her struggling bakery, Sweet Bee’s. When Lane Anderson, the temporary new doctor hot enough to rival McDreamy, moves in next door, though, she’s sure things are looking up. Until he threatens her business in their first conversation.

Lane just wants to practice medicine responsibly—not argue with the flighty bakery owner next door. But when he finds himself traveling down to the Caribbean to play guitar for Paige’s best friend’s wedding, suddenly the sight of the blonde in a bikini eclipses the fact they can’t agree on anything. And as their vacation romance grows, his reservations about starting something after getting burned by love are washed away like sand on the beach.

But once Paige and Lane land back home, will these polar opposites be able to forgive their feud and find lasting love?

Early Praise:

“This is a terrific book! The storyline is fresh, modern and engaging. This is a fast-paced read the flows fluidly from beginning to end. The author does an excellent job of creating sexy seduction scenes that sizzle with heat.” – LJT on Goodreads

“Oh. My. Gosh. I so loved Tempted in the Tropics by Tracy March. It was entertaining from start to finish with the perfect blend of romance, laughter, and passion.” – Amy on Goodreads

About the author:

Award-winning author Tracy March writes romantic thrillers influenced by her career in the pharmaceutical field, and her interest in science and politics. She also writes lighthearted romances inspired by her real-life happily ever after.

Always up for travel and adventure, Tracy has flown in a stunt plane, snowmobiled on the Continental Divide, ziplined in the Swiss Alps, and been chased by a bull in the mountains of St. Lucia. She loves Nationals baseball, Saturday date nights, and Dairy Queen Blizzards—and rarely goes a day without Diet Coke and Cheez-Its.

Tracy lives in Yorktown, Virginia, with her superhero husband who works for NASA. They recently spent two years living in Washington D.C., and enjoy visiting often—especially when the Nats are in town.

Buy links:

 B&N | Kobo Books

Tracy’s links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest


Tropics Beach Bling prize pack including a charm bracelet, ring and a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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16181. A Passion for the Real Thing

Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the nonfiction section at the local library. My passions varied. Sometimes it was Indian lore and how to make a teepee (mine never stayed up), horses, kitchen science, or true ghost stories at Halloween.  Basically I preferred the real world over a fictional one.  I still do. That’s probably why I write nonfiction for kids today. 

I’m proud to be part of a cadre of writers who are constantly coming up with amazing true stories and innovative ways to tell them. There is narrative nonfiction written with a story arc, books with two tiers of text to hook children reading at different levels, and books that dig deep into subjects kids care about.  Here are just a few of my favorites:

Rah, Rah Radishes! A Vegetable Chant by April Pulley Sayre is a rollicking rhyme through a farmer’s market.  A great read-aloud for little ones (and teenage grocery clerks who don’t know bok choy from broccoli). 

Seeing Symmetry by Loreen Leedy will catch a young reader’s eye with the tiger on the cover. And the clear text and bright artwork inside will have your child checking out the symmetry in your face, your food, your furniture….   

Older students will enjoy Those Rebels, John & Tom. Author Barbara Kerley turns stone-faced historical figures John Adams and Thomas Jefferson into real people who worked together and argued to create a nation.  Edwin Fotheringham’s humorous art perfectly captures Kerley’s take on these two amazing men.
You can follow that up with Thomas Jefferson Builds a Libraryby Barb Rosenstock. It tells the story of how book-crazy Jefferson helped create the Library of Congress.  Each page is filled with John O’Brien’s rich illustrations and primary source quotes.
Need to explain the Big Bang? Then grab Older than the Stars by Karen C. Fox. The main text written in the style of The House That Jack Built can be read by young readers, but those interested in the science behind the “puffs” and “bangs” can read the side text about atoms of helium and hydrogen,  gravity and galaxies.

A Black Hole Is Not a Hole is a fun look at a dark subject.  Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano’s conversational style is right on target for any curious middle-schooler (or adult) who wants to know how scientists know about stuff they can’t see.  

So, if your child gravitates to the nonfiction section of the library – Celebrate their passions! Together you can learn about lizards, or lasers, or (like one kid in my neighborhood) Liberace (and hope the fad fades fast). 

For more award-winning nonfiction ideas checkout http://inkthinktank.com/.

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16182. Service, Remembrance, and Helping Others Part 1

Summer’s coming to a close and we’re all getting back to our school schedules.  For many children, community service is part of the school curriculum.  Even if it is NOT, many parents want their children to learn to help others, to cheerfully volunteer and be of service to those in need.  Even with busy schedules, here are two ways to help.

September 11, 2013 is National Day of Service and Remembrance.  There are many national events going on to remember those lost on 9-11 as well as to honor those who continue to serve and fight for freedom.  If you’d like to find out how to be part of this, go to:  http://www.serve.gov/sept11.asp

On September 15, thousands of restaurants nationwide will be donating proceeds all week to help end childhood hunger in the US.  Visit: http://www.dineout.nokidhungry.org

On Friday, I’ll have more suggestions on simple ways to serve others.

“If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?”  Abigail Adams

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16183. Do Your Part To Encourage Reading

novel conclusions2Christi Gerstle over at Novel Conclusions had a great post about what we can do to encourage reluctant readers.

I didn’t know that only 25% of adults go a whole year and never read a book.

As Writers, I think it is in our best interests if we remember that and try some of her techniques to try to turn that dismal statistic around.

She asks if you have any ideas you can add to her list of her five ideas.

How have you been successful in encouraging friends to read?  What could we add to this list?

Let’s put on our thinking caps and try to grow her list.


  • Do not (publicly) judge what others are reading; it doesn’t pay to be discouraging.  It might horrify me a bit that my teenage cousin is reading some disgusting political propaganda book, but at least she’s reading something.  I’m sure there are some five dollar words in there somewhere to build her vocabulary.  It might be disconcerting to sit next to someone on the subway reading 50 Shades of Gray, but at least they’re getting back into the habit of reading books.
  • Ask about books that they have read.  If you can get someone talking about a book they read that they loved, it might remind them how much they miss reading.
  • Recommend easy “transition” books (e.g. transitioning from not reading).  The book that finally got my man back into reading was Hunger Games (he picked up my copy, of course, after seeing me wrapped up in it a few years ago).  He spent a number of years after undergrad just reading accounting textbooks and movie scripts (he’s an accountant who used to work in the film industry), and he says that Hunger Games was just like a movie script.  It hooked him, and he stayed up until 2am one night finishing it.
  • Talk about books you love.  Enthusiasm is infectious.  My mom, my dad, my boyfriend, my best friend, my friend’s mom, and a coworker –among others – have all been talked into picking up The New Geography of Jobs after my enthusiastic description of the book’s awesomeness and its applicability to everyday life.  When I first read Hunger Games, I was similarly excited – though I still haven’t talked my mom into it.  She’s afraid it’s too violent (and she’s into Game of Thrones!  Talk about violence!).
  • Recognize people for reading.  This may sound silly, but people need to be validated.  A simple “That’s awesome you make time to read!” goes a long way.

Thanks Christi for bringing up the subject.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, inspiration, Interview, list Tagged: Adult Reluctant Readers, Christi Gerstle, Encouraging reading, Novel Conclusions

3 Comments on Do Your Part To Encourage Reading, last added: 9/9/2013
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16184. A Deep Loss: Author Carolyn Kaufman Passes Away

Becca and I would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Dr. Carolyn Kaufman, who passed away suddenly this weekend of a brain aneurysm. Carolyn was a very giving, kind person, sharing her wisdom at her blog, Archetype Writing and also at QueryTracker & Psychology Today. She is also the author of the excellent resource, A Writer's Guide to Psychology.

We worked closely with Carolyn this summer as she helped us with the content of our upcoming book, The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Flaws. Carolyn aided us with some of the psychology aspects of the book, and very generously took the time to write the foreword for us.

It was such a terrible shock to hear the news. Carolyn was so supportive, and her confidence and enthusiasm for our book boosted Becca and I up in so many ways. We are both so grateful to have known her. She will be greatly missed.

When I started writing and seriously working to improve my craft, Archetype Writing was one of the first blogs I found. I continually returned to it to soak of Carolyn's wisdom and over the years have learned so much from her, as have many others.

You can read her full obituary here and Querytracker has also posted about Carolyn's passing. 

15 Comments on A Deep Loss: Author Carolyn Kaufman Passes Away, last added: 9/10/2013
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16185. Steampunk K-9

For this year's DragonCon, I built a steampunk K-9 to accompany Jo's Lady Doctor costume in the Masquerade. Together, we won Best in Show in the Youth category!

As a model, I used this tiny scale model K-9 from ThinkGeek, which I got Jo to go with the Barbie-sized TARDIS I built her. Despite being just a couple of inches long, it's all to scale, which allowed me to do the math and extrapolate a larger version.

I started by building a mock-up out of foam core. I got it mostly right from the start, but this allowed me to mess up and not waste wood. (And time!) The foam core is just held together with masking tape and straight pins. I designed it to fit on a remote controlled car base I bought, and ended up making it almost 1:1 scale with the original K-9...

Late in the process, we realized that a key would make a brilliant tail for a steampunk dog. Originally, I was just going to buy an antenna and spray paint it brass. I think the key turned out much cuter.

When I was finished, I cut all the taped joints apart and used my foam core pieces as pattern pieces. I traced them on a very thin plywood, and cut them out with a Skill saw and jigsaw.

I don't have very many pics of me actually building K-9, strangely. I love process pics, but so often I did the building later in the evening while watching TV, and the light was always terrible for taking pics. I always said, "Oh, I'll take a picture tomorrow in the good light." And then I never did. But here's me using a vise to hold together the tricky angles of the face while I screwed it together. In the back of the head, you can see the small square dowel I used in the corners to give my something to screw into besides the thin plywood.

And here's the finished product!

The TV k-9 has colorful buttons on his back. For the steampunk K-9, I used two great brass faucet knobs we found at the Home ReStore in town. I think they were maybe $2 each. The joiner pipe is actually a piece of wood dowel I spray painted brass. The keyboard (in lieu of colorful buttons) is made up of individual wooden keys. I found a person on Etsy who laser cuts them out of wood, then applies pictures of antique keys to them. They look like authentic typewriter keys, but they're fake! They're a lot lighter--and a whole lot cheaper than real typewriter keys, which go for a pretty penny on eBay.

The tail is wood, spray painted to look brass. Again, much lighter! And there was no way I was going to be able to make something like that out of real brass.

The neck is dryer tubing spray painted brass. It took the spray paint really well! And I didn't have to attach it--all I did was bend it around the head, and the angles did all the work. The collar is a brass hand towel ring with the mounting piece cut off of it. The bone tag is wood, again painted to look brass. A rule I've heard that I'm trying to live by is "looks great from six feet away." I think all this looks great close up, but it all passes muster six feet away, which is really the level of detail we want on our costumes.

The nose was a real score at the Home ReStore, which is a Habitat for Humanity store that reclaims old fixtures from torn down houses and renovations and resells them. This faucet was an awesome find. Jo and I spent a very happy couple of hours rooting through the plumbing bins at the store, looking for treasures like this. I hadn't planned on putting a faucet on the nose, but it was too good to pass up--and ended up sort of making the whole thing.

We had a lot of options for K-9's ears. I almost went with another pair of faucets made of wood and brass, but these curtain rod ends won out in the end. They were just too cool looking. They're plastic--about the only plastic thing on the whole dog, except for the remote controlled car underneath him--but they look brass, and they have the added benefit of being lightweight, which was an issue on the head.

K-9's eye bars are wood, painted brass. The eye itself is of course the knob off a garden hose bib. I loved it--particularly as the original K-9's eye is a red circle. I left the maker's ring on there too. It was too awesome.

The big "K-9" on the side are wooden letters from A.C. Moore, again spray painted brass. I screwed them in from behind, so you can's see the screws. You'll see screws everywhere else though. My original plan was to cover those with "brass" trim, which was going to be a brass duct tape I found. In the end, I loved the look of him without all the brass trim. I think going without was a good call. He's already pretty blinged out as it is!

The other side had a door. This served two purposes. One was practical--it gave me a way to reach inside and attach the cotter pins to the posts that connected the K-9 unit to the remote controlled car. The second was part of the show: we put a tea cup and saucer in there, and at a certain part of Jo's performance, K-9 raced over to her and she took out the cup and pretended to pour tea from his nose! It was a real hit. This space also, coincidentally, made a nice storage area for his controller, spare battery, charger, etc.

For the curious, here's the R/C car I used as the base. It's not your cheapo mall-bought R/C car. I got this at HobbyTown USA, where they know their machines. At first, I was worried it wouldn't be strong enough to move the wood and brass K-9 I built--but I ended up having to take it in to the shop to have them help me slow it down! It's a beast of an R/C car, and it worked great.

The steampunk K-9!

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16186. The This-is-Going-to-be-Good Feeling by Tamara Ireland Stone

I received a wonderful compliment the other day.

Someone posted a photo of the first page of Time Between Us on Instagram and said, “I can tell this will be a good book!”

I can tell this will be a good book.

As a reader, don’t you love that feeling? It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s a little bit magical, isn’t it?

As writers, we’re all told about the importance of that first line, first paragraph, first page, first chapter. Good openings are how we hook an agent. They’re what make an editor pay attention.

But when it’s all said and done, we work so hard on those first lines, because we want to give readers what they want: That this-is-going-to-be-good feeling.

Want to know a secret? No one would have said that about the original draft of Time Between Us. I worked on it for over a year and refined those first pages so many times I’ve lost count. But I know exactly where I began.

The Original
I had a crystal clear picture in my head of Anna Greene, my main character. I wanted readers to know herright away, so I began like this:

When I was nine years old, my dad and I spent the day at the Adler Planetarium in downtown Chicago. Against his better judgment, he let me wander through the gift shop, where I proceeded to talk him into buying me a box of plastic, glow-in-the-dark stars and planets. When we got home, we worked together to transform my room.

Are you there? Hey, wake up!

Don’t worry... I’m not offended that you dozed off. I’m pretty sure no agent or editor would have kept going either.

But here’s the thing: I loved this chapter. Writing this scene helped me get to know my protagonist and it did a lot of heavy lifting to set up the story. I clung to it for a long time. But deep down, I knew that if I wanted to give people that magical “good book” feeling, this opening wasn’t good enough. I needed less exposition, more dialogue, more questions than answers, and action.

The Final
Good openings make you question what’s going on and force you to keep reading, madly turning pages to find out what happens next. But here’s the fun part for us authors: They give you an opportunity to play with your readers’ heads.

Everything changed when I let myself have some fun with the beginning. Rather showing you Anna’s totally normal life, I started at a point far off in her future, on a day when everything in her life might change forever.

This is how Time Between Us begins now:

Even from this distance I can see how young he looks. Younger than the first time I saw him.

He looks younger? People don’t usually look younger than the first time you saw them. Something strange is happening.

He and his friends have been skating around Lafayette Park for the last couple of hours, and now they’re sprawled across the grass, downing Gatorades and passing around a bag of Doritos.

Wait, that seems totally normal. A park setting. Recognizable drinks and snacks. Wait... maybe things aren’t so strange.

Everything about him is so similar, so familiar, that I almost scoot over to close the distance, like I would have done so naturally when I was younger. But sixteen years have come between us, and that’s enough to keep me on my side of the bench.

Nope. Wait a minute. Not normal again. Sixteen years have come between the two of them? What’s going on here?

The first chapter is designed to ping-pong between the normal and the strange, keeping you reading and questioning and wondering—letting me play with your head—until very end, when you get to these lines:

What I just did could change everything, or it could change nothing. But I have to try. I’ve got nothing to lose. If my plan doesn’t work, my life will remain the same: Safe. Comfortable. Perfectly average.
But that wasn’t the life I originally chose.

Does that make you want to keep reading to find out what happens next? Is that better than a trip to the planetarium? I sure hope so.

Have some fun with your opening. Take your reader on a ride. Keep them guessing. Make them say, “I can tell this will be a good book.”

Here are a few openings that hooked me right away:

“First the colors. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try. Here is a small fact. You are going to die.”—The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

“He’d stopped trying to bring her back. She only came back when she felt like it, in dreams and lies and broken-down déjà vu.”—Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

“Day 5994. I wake up. Immediately, I have to figure out who I am.”—Every Day by David Levithan

About the Author

Blissfully married. Occasional superhero in the eyes of two remarkable small people. Animal lover. Avid reader. Gadget freak. Music addict. Dreadful cook. Happily stuck in the mid-90s. She writes young adult fiction about fun stuff like travel, music, romance, and normal people with extraordinary talents.

Her debut novel, Time Between Us, was published in sixteen languages and has been optioned for film. The sequel, Time After Time,  will be available from Hyperion on October 8, 2013.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

About the Book

Calling Anna and Bennett’s romance long distance is an understatement: she’s from 1995 Chicago and he’s a time traveler from 2012 San Francisco. The two of them never should have met, but they did. They fell in love, even though they knew they shouldn’t. And they found a way to stay together, against all odds.

It’s not a perfect arrangement, though, with Bennett unable to stay in the past for more than brief visits, skipping out on big chunks of his present in order to be with Anna in hers. They each are confident that they’ll find a way to make things work…until Bennett witnesses a single event he never should have seen (and certainly never expected to). Will the decisions he makes from that point on cement a future he doesn’t want?

Told from Bennett’s point of view, Time After Time will satisfy readers looking for a fresh, exciting, and beautifully-written love story, both those who are eager to find out what’s next for Time Between Us’s Anna and Bennett and those discovering their story for the first time.


4 Comments on The This-is-Going-to-be-Good Feeling by Tamara Ireland Stone, last added: 9/9/2013
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16187. Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Anastasia Again!

by Lois Lowry

From Goodreads: Twelve-year-old Anastasia Krupnik is convinced that her family's move to the suburbs will be the beginning of the end. How can she possibly accept split-level houses with matching furniture, or mothers whose biggest worry is ring around collar? But her new home brings many surprises, not to mention a cute boy who lives down the street. Is it possible that surburbia has more to offer than Anastasia had expected?
My review: Anastasia is going to move from the city to the suburbs. She’s horrified thinking of a future involving TV dinners, homes that all look the same, and other boring suburban things. How could her parents do this to her? They're going to drag her away from the home she loves to stick her in the middle of nowhere!
Check out other MMGMers
and their links over at
Shannon Messenger's blog
The annoying boy in her life seems to be smitten with her, but the feeling isn’t mutual…at least there’s a new boy in her suburban neighborhood who’s cute and as tall as she is (she’s always worrying about her height). Her new house also has a possible witch next door, and she and her brother Sam are going to investigate. Maybe living in the suburbs won’t be as bad as she thought it would be.
I enjoyed this book because I could relate to moving from a big city to the suburbs in my preteen years. Anastasia’s thoughts and feelings felt so real in that aspect. She’s neurotic, intellectual, and melodramatic, but still likable. I read several of the books in the middle of the series, so it was interesting to read an earlier Anastasia book.

19 Comments on Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, last added: 9/11/2013
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16188. I Love Middle Grade Back to School Blog Hop…

A bunch of us brave MG Authors from our I Love Middle Gradegroup decided to get together and have a Back to School Blog Hop just for our readers and followers. The Hop will run from September 9th to the 15th, so there’s plenty of time to check out the participating authors, and maybe find a gem of a read for you and your tween.
Since I’ve just released the prequel to The Last Timekeepers time travel series, I’m pulling out the stops and giving away an ecopy of The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and Legend of the Timekeepers, in the format of your choice. BTW – this Giveaway is opened internationally, so everyone is included in this hop! Cheers to All!

Here’s the tagline and blurb from The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:
Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they're given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn't a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers--legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial--Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don't, then history itself may be turned upside down.

Here’s the tagline and blurb from the prequel, Legend of the Timekeepers:

There is no moving forward without first going back.
Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

Good luck, and don’t forget to visit all the other blogs on the hop and enjoy more giveaway fun!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions
§  This Blog Hop begins midnight on September 9thand runs until midnight September 15th, 2013. The draw will take place September 16th, 2013.
§  The winner will chosen by Rafflecopter
§  I will contact the winner via email and give the winner 72 hours to accept his/her prize.
§  Prize as stated—no alternatives will be offered.

16 Comments on I Love Middle Grade Back to School Blog Hop…, last added: 9/12/2013
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16189. Monday Mishmash 9/9/13

Happy Monday! Here's my mishmash of thoughts:

  1. Back to my usual schedule  My daughter and husband are back in school, which means I'm writing and editing for five and a half hours a day. While I miss my family, I'm enjoying how much I can get done each day.
  2. Critique Service  In addition to my editorial services, I've decided to open up to paid critiques. These will focus more on content and story development and will be less expensive than a full edit. If you're interested, check out my pricing here.
  3. Free monthly newsletter  With the September is for Sequels Giveaway Hop last Monday, I had to push back my monthly newsletter. It will go out at 5pm EST today. If you aren't signed up but would like to receive on, click here.
  4. Kindle Fire Case Winner  Congrats to Adrianne Russell for winning the Snugg Kindle Fire Case!
  5. Rushing Into Love by Ashelyn Drake  The third book in the Campus Crush series releases tomorrow. (These are all companion books, so you can read them out of order.) Add it on Goodreads.
As a college junior, Mindy Stanton has no interest in dating a freshman.

That is until Ben Whitmore shows up and serenades his way into her heart at the dorm social she’s running. And after hearing him sing, even Mindy can’t deny that he has a deep, sexy voice that makes her melt.

Even though Mindy makes it clear that she doesn’t date younger guys, Ben pursues her anyway. After all, he doesn’t seem like the typical college freshman, who is only interested in hooking up, partying until he can’t remember his name, or joining a frat. He’s a gentleman, a romantic, and definitely knows all the right things to say to sweep a girl off her feet.

So Mindy drops her guard. She allows herself to fall for him. Before she knows it, Ben is all she can think about. To her, he’s perfect.

But it doesn’t take Mindy long to discover that even the most perfect guys…

Have secrets.

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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16190. Email Marketing - Does Your Opt-in Offer Convert?

I'm a regular guest blogger for Inkwell Editorial and since the articles I submit have lots of online marketing information that may benefit you, I'll be linking to them. The first one up is: Marketing Your Writing - Which Opt-in Offer Converts Best? It’s realistic to say that all writers today are also marketers. The internet has made marketing a necessity – it’s just jam-packed with

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16191. The Lady Doctor!

Meet the Youth Best In Show winner from the 2013 DragonCon Masquerade contest: The Lady Doctor and her steampunk companion K-9!

Jo loves watching Doctor Who, so she designed this Lady Doctor costume for herself. There's lots more about how she made it herself over at Wendi's Shiny Happy World blog.

Jo was especially proud of the vest, which used all different brass buttons. The coat is pretty great too. You can just see the really spacey lining here, on the lapels. Her hair is dyed TARDIS blue.

I helped her with the rocket boots. She still did all the spray painting and the drilling and gluing but I was there as the technical advisor. One of her Monster High dolls has rocket-powered boots, and so Jo wanted a pair too. The silver rockets are actually upside-down plastic things you put on chair legs to keep them from sliding. We glued them on with Gorilla glue, which held surprisingly well. The boots were thrift-store finds, spray painted with a really super copper color Jo picked out.

The whole ensemble, before she went on stage in the Friday Night Costume Contest! This was a fun costume for Jo--and one she could walk around in afterward without too much trouble! She did trade the rocket boots in for a pair of red Converse high tops for roaming the hotels though...

Congrats, Jo! So proud of you!

For more pics of the steampunk K-9, and to see how I built it, check out the next post.

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16192. Top 100


What are the Top 100 audiobooks of 2013 as measured by library downloads? OverDrive Media released a list of the most popular audios downloaded so far this year. In this post on the company’s blog, libraries can take a look at the complete list in the OverDrive Marketplace, to beef up the audiobook collection. Or just click on the image above to read the list for yourself. I noticed plenty of the usual suspects – blockbuster bestsellers, novels turned into current movies, popular YA crossovers – and one surprise, Wheat Belly. But there are also titles that I’ve never heard of – I suspect these are the uber popular Romance titles that drive library downloads, a category that isn’t my strong suit. The titles aren’t ranked by number of downloads, so no one title can take the top dog honors. But take a look – you’ll find lots of great listening, and a good tool for library promotions & marketing!

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16193. Rising and Falling Plot Action and Tension

Dear Ms. Alderson:

I've been reading your "Blockbuster Plots" and loving it, but I have a question about the plot planner (examples of what Plot Planners and how different writers use the plotting method.). As I understand it, we're to draw the lines for an ideal plot on a piece of banner paper and then we write in our scenes above and below the lines, depending on whether our protagonist is in challenged/in control in the scene or not. So far, so good.

From a diagnostic point of view, though, wouldn't it make more sense if we "graphed" the plot we've actually created (showing the various rises and falls in our plot action and tension), and then compared our graph to the ideal pattern? In other words, when we place our scenes along a line that shows rising action, we may not notice that our our conflicts are not actually escalating as they should.

For example, our own scenes may be too static or may actually decline (God forbid), but we might be fooled by the contrary visual cues of our Plot Planner, with its nicely rising lines. Maybe you discuss this elsewhere, but it seems like a good intermediate step would be for the writer to evaluate each scene for its level of tension or conflict (maybe using a 1-to-10 scale), and then show this on a "graph" (i.e., a plot planner that shows the pattern of our actual scenes, rather than an ideal pattern).

Once we've created this graph, we could then tweak the pattern (by rearranging the order of the scenes, by deleting static scenes or by ramping up the tension in existing scenes) so that our story more nearly matches the ideal plot pattern. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Many thanks again for writing "Blockbuster Plots" and for making all those terrific Youtube videos

Your teaching is amazingly clear and helpful!
Salt Lake City, Utah

*****Thank you, Kate, for your thoughtful email query. I applaud your understanding of the Plot Planner concept of rising action perfectly! I agree with everything you say and believe you've come up with an excellent suggestion for writers creating a Plot Planner for their own novel, memoir, screenplay.

~~~~~Take the PlotWriMo Pre-Challenge

To prepare for PlotWriMo and familiarize yourself with the Universal Story and the basic plot terms we'll be using throughout December:

1) Begin writing now to complete an entire draft of your novel, memoir, screenplay in time for PLOTWRIMO, beginning December 1st.

2) Plot your story step-by-step with the help of
The Plot Whisperer Workbook: Step-by-step Exercises to Help You Create Compelling Stories

3) Read The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master

4) Refer to The Plot Whisperer Book of Writing Prompts: Easy Exercises to Get You Writing
for writing prompts for scene #1 to the very The End, one prompt at a time.

5) Watch the Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. Scroll down on the left of this post for a directory of all the steps to the series. 27-step tutorial on Youtube

6) Watch the Monday Morning Plot Book Group Series on YouTube. Scroll down on the right of this post for a directory the book examples and plot elements discussed.

For more tips about how to use plot and the Universal Story in your novel, memoir or screenplay, visit:
Plot Whisperer on Pinterest

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16194. Spotlight and Giveaway! Flirting with Danger by Claire Baxter


Flirting With Danger by Claire Baxter

About the book:

To be together is dangerous. To stay apart is impossible.

Firefighter Jasmine Mackinnon has always just been one of the guys. So no one’s more shocked than she is to find herself kissing fellow firefighter and all-around sinfully handsome playboy Aaron Parkes after a friend’s wedding. Jasmine knows she can’t risk an emotional connection with a colleague—a potentially dangerous entanglement when fighting fires together—and nothing’s more important to her than her job.

Aaron never noticed how beautiful Jasmine was until he saw her out of her firefighter duds, but there’s something about the fiery woman that tempts him. Though he knows pursuing a real relationship is out of the question for a serial dater like him, when their casual flirtation builds into something more serious, it’s not just their jobs or their safety on the line. It’s their hearts.

About the author:

Claire Baxter writes contemporary romantic fiction of all lengths. Her short stories have been published in commercial women’s magazines around the world, while her novels have been translated into 20 languages, and have finalled in the Romance Writers of Australia’s Romantic Book of the Year Award, the Booksellers’ Best Awards, the RT Book Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Awards, and the Cataromance Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

Before following her passion to write full-time, Claire was an award-winning corporate communications manager. Earlier, she worked as a translator and a PA.

Claire grew up in Warwickshire, England, but for more than 20 years has called Australia home. She considers herself lucky to live near one of Adelaide’s beautiful metropolitan beaches where she loves to walk and think up stories.

Buy links:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo Books

Claire’s links:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


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16195. Review: Belonging by Karen Ann Hopkins



Title:  Belonging

Author: Karen Ann Hopkins


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:


I left everything I knew behind.
But it was worth it. He was worth it.
No one thought an ordinary girl like me would last two minutes living with the Amish, not even me. There are a lot more rules and a lot less freedom, and I miss my family and the life I once had. Worst of all, Noah and I aren’t even allowed to see each other. Not until I’ve proven myself.
If I can find a way to make it work, we’ll be NOAH & ROSE together forever.
But not everybody believes this is where I belong


Belonging picks up right where Temptation left off.  Rose has just been introduced to her new Amish guardians, the Hershbergers, and she’s immediately confronted by the community elders.  They are an intimidating group of old men, and they warn that they will not tolerate any poor behavior from Rose.  If she’s going to court Noah, she has to work hard and prove herself to them.  Both Noah and Rose are disappointed that Rose will have a ramping up period before she’s allowed to join the church.  Until she’s an official member of the community and officially courting Noah, they aren’t allowed to be together. 

This is a soap opera on an epic scale.  Rose is so in love with Noah that she’s willing to give up her family to be with him, though she’s less than happy at the thought of being a drudge for the rest of her life.  She definitely irritated me, because even as she’s pretending to go along with her new way of life, she’s convinced herself that somehow she will coax Noah into leaving the Amish and becoming English for her.  I realize that she is young, and that she’s gotten everything she’s wanted to this point in her life, but I really wanted to shake her every time she thought about Noah abandoning his family for her.  He already explained that he is content with his life, that he enjoys the community, and that he is counting on the assistance of his family and friends to start his adult life with his new wife.  He made perfect sense to me, and his behavior remained comfortingly steady.

After Rose’s father discovers that she’s taken to the Amish way of life a little too well, he and Sam plot to kidnap her and send her off to live with her aunt in Cincinnati.  They both think that once she’s back in her old life, with her old friends, that she will forget about Noah.  To ensure that their plan is a success, they meddle even more, and turn Noah against her.  And this is where  I actually, finally, started to like Rose.  She didn’t forget about Noah, and she began to look back on her time with the Amish with fondness.  She made friends with them, life was a little more laid back, and there was her life with Noah to look forward to.  Sure, doing the laundry by hand sucks, and so did the constant cleaning and unending chores, but the community, for the most part, had been welcoming and encouraging of her efforts to belong with them.

As her time apart from Noah stretched on, Hunter resurfaced in her life.  I’ll be honest and say that love triangles aren’t my favorite trope.  Love triangles are probably one of the major reasons that I don’t read as much YA as I once did.  I just don’t find them that compelling.  If the heroine is that confused about who she wants to be with, she’s not ready to be with anyone yet.  Just hang out with both of them, because there is a lack of commitment for either guy and avoid all of the drama.  Since Rose thinks that Noah hates her, she doesn’t have a reason to not hang out with Hunter, and when he tells her how much he cares for her, she thinks that they might have a future together.  Good thing that Sam suddenly suffered from a guilty conscience, thanks to Rose’s friend Summer, and he comes clean to Noah about how he interfered in their relationship.  Hunter is a great guy and all, but compared to Noah, he’s boring and shallow, and a huge pushover whenever Rose so much as smiled at him.

I enjoyed Belonging better than Temptation, though I had the same reservations about Rose.  The novel is character driven, and we have the addition of Sam’s POV this time around.  He is just as over indulged and spoiled as Rose; probably more so, as he’s made himself a reputation of loving and leaving countless high school girls and their broken hearts in his wake.  Even though I didn’t necessarily like him, his POV still made for engaging reading.  The drama, drama, drama at times is overwhelming, but I couldn’t put my Kindle down.  Every emotion and setback is huge and over the top, and made me want to see how Rose, Noah, and Sam would handle these conflicts tossed at them throughout the book.  The ending is a huge cliffhanger, and made me want Forever, the next book in series, RIGHT NOW!  I am so curious to see how everything plays out.  Will Rose leave her modern life behind, and embrace a life with Noah,in his Amish community?  I would have a really hard time giving up my electric gadgets, so I’m dying to see how this series ends.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by Kismet Blog Tours

About Karen Ann Hopkins

Blog | Goodreads | Facebook

A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.

Kismet Book Touring

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16196. To Write a Classic

Recently my son and I have been rereading the "My Father's Dragon" trilogy by Ruth Stiles Gannett. We read all three books several years ago and he loved them. As I was organizing my books in our new house, he spotted this old favorite and asked to read it again. I happily obliged.

As we are zipping through these much loved stories, it was amazing to me to look back at the copyright for the first book... 1950. How incredible to have written a book that stands the test of time and is still being read and loved 63 years later!

This made me wonder. What makes a book that kind of classic? "My Father's Dragon" was a Newbery Honor book, so it was recognized as being exceptional for its time. (And it really is exceptional. So wonderfully fun and funny!) But do all honored book withstand the test of time that well?

And of course as a writer I can't help but wonder, how long will children be reading the books I write? (63 years from now would certainly be awesome!)

What do you all think about classics? Which long ago books do you love? Which of today's books do you think have a chance of becoming modern day classics?

2 Comments on To Write a Classic, last added: 9/12/2013
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16197. Babies Making Babies

Chapter 1:  Babies Making Babies

Babies making babies.  Pfft…I ain’t never heard any good story come about when two teenagers set out, ready to conquer the world, only come to find out that they went and got themselves knocked-up after just one night’s fit of passion, leaving all their fancy ideas of what life was gonna be like, splayed like toilet paper on their heels behind them.  Mama said that’s precisely what happened to her and Daddy, that they was nothing more than just babies making babies when they gave birth to that stubborn, curly-headed, terror-of-a-sister-of mine, Bartlett.  

The way Mama tells it, she met daddy out at the Southern Speedway; the race car track down off Highway 77 in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Mama says that whole night long, Daddy kept trying to kiss her, telling her she sure was the prettiest thing he ever did saw, but Mama told him she was a lady and she was raised better than that.  Daddy must have known she wasn’t gonna let any man touch her before she got married, so he up and asked her, straight-away, to marry him on impulse.  They didn’t even know each other more than a few hours when my flattered, exasperated mother laughed and looked up at him with her shiny, steel blue eyes and finally gave in to him, “Yes, I’ll marry you, Earl, but not before you go out to my house and ask my Mama and Daddy for permission.” 

Mama turned to me, more staring through me than anything, as she slowly recanted that evening so long ago.  I watched as something deep within her stirred and fluttered and reared its head, as she began to tell me about that night, talking how they sat on the cold bleachers and watched as those loud, colorful race cars zoomed by them at breakneck speeds while Daddy tried to fondle and flirt with and hear her above the crowd and the noise.  I could almost smell the exhaust and the asphalt and rubber, she told the story so well. She said that night she believed she could love my daddy forever.  “Barley, your father was the handsomest man in all of Carter County.  It’s true, don’t laugh,” she said, eyeing me as I giggled nervously.  ”Everyone thought he looked just like Elvis Presley back then, all dark-haired, tall and tan and thin and so confident, your Daddy was. Why, all them girls out at that race track just wished they was me that night,” Mama said, as her smile slowly began to fade.  She was suddenly rummaging around in her thoughts, picking them up, one-by-one and ruminating about herself, a different person in a different body at a different time, and for a moment, I thought I had lost her completely to her memories.  “Oh Mama, hurry up already.  Tell me more,” I finally said, bringing her back to the here and now. 

That next Monday morning, Grandpa had his first serious talk with Daddy, the groom-to-be, and gave him what mama called, The Three Nevers Talk.  “Never hit her, ever,” my Grandpa said slowly, looking him straight in the eye, taking a long pause for effect, while spitting his tobacco in the Folgers Coffee can he used as a spittoon sitting next to him.  I ain’t never hit her and nor should you.  Starting up again, grimacing and contemplating his next words, he slowly sucked the tobacco from his teeth he said, “Never let her go hungry, and never stray from her and find yourself another woman, because she’s the best your ever gonna find.  Ya hear me?  If you can promise me these three things, Anita and me, well…we will give y’all our blessings, and you can marry our Franny,” Grandpa said in a foreboding voice. 

Later that morning, my Mama, just fifteen at the time, powdered her skin and got all dressed-up in her Sunday finery, kissed her Mama on the nose, and left the only home she ever knew, all giddy and excited, ambling down a dirt road, heading towards her destiny with a man she barely knew in a dilapidated Chevy truck.  Hopeful and reckless with her heart’s out-and-out abandon, she stood solemnly, thinking about what it would be like to be married to the stranger next to her, in front of the Justice of the Peace in the Carter County Courthouse.  She married Daddy while my mother’s brother, Uncle John and his wife, June, looked on.  Mama never liked old June much, and I could see just mentioning her name gave her the worst case of the willies and that in turn caused the goose pimples to surface on my arm.  I brushed them away and finished listening to Mama tell me more about the day she married my daddy.

Nine months after Mama said I do, she gave birth to Bartlett (like the pear), two years and a month before I was born.  Mama always had a thing for food, and named me Barley (like the grain.)  Seven years later, my baby brother, Graham (like the cracker) came.  Us three never knew what hit us, being born a Sullivan.  My third grade teacher, Miss Espich, says never knowing what hits you is an idiom relating to very bad consequences in which the people involved were totally unsuspecting. That’s us, the Sullivan Three.  

5 Comments on Babies Making Babies, last added: 9/10/2013
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16198. Why we need vampires - Anne Rooney

See the end of the post for Adele Geras's
poem inspired by this picture
I'm back with vampires again this summer, after letting them lie in their graves for eighteen months. But this time it's different. Last time I was writing my own bunch of modern teen vampires coming to terms with vampirehood in Vampire Dawn. This time, it's good old Dracula and I'm doing a retelling. I read Dracula rather differently now, not because of writing about vampires but because of researching them. I did a lot of research for Vampire Dawn, and Bram Stoker did a lot for Dracula. I piggybacked on his, not going off to interview Romanian peasants myself but using his notebooks and various other ancient texts as my starting point. Returning to the vampires again set me thinking...

There are vampiric legends all around the world. I made a list of some of my favourites when I was writing Vampire Dawn - including the Ashanti vampire, Asasabonsam, which hangs from trees by the hooks it has in place of feet and drops onto unsuspecting victims passing below, and the southeast Asian Penanggalan, a disembodied female head that flies, trailing its entrails behind it. They make your bog-standard turn-into-a-bat type European vampire look pretty tame.

I wondered why there are vampire legends all over the world.Usually, when something crops up everywhere - like flood legends - there's a good reason rooted in fact. With my fiction brain in, I hoped it was because there really are or were vampires. People have thought this until pretty recently. There was even the Highgate Vampire scare in 1970 (the Highgate vampire has an appreciation page on Facebook). But that was just a scare and a vampire hunt. In 1892, the unfortunate Mercy Brown became the third member of her family to die of tuberculosis, not an uncommon fate at the time. Locals believed she was a vampire and, when her brother Edwin fell ill, had her dug up. Her body had not deteriorated at all, confirming once and for all that she was a vampire. The vampire hunters cut out her heart, burned it, and mixed the ashes into water which they gave Edwin to drink (a traditional way of ridding a victim of the influence of a vampire). Edwin died two months later, of TB rather an attack of raging vampires. That was in Rhode Island, where you might have hoped people would know better by 1892.

But then I put in my science brain and thought again about why there might be vampires all over the place and decided that it's probably - like so many story patterns and archetypes - because they satisfactorily explain something that is common to all cultures and is a fundamental part of the human condition. What could it be?

 I settled on the grief, anger and resentment that accompany bereavement. The vampire preys first on their nearest and dearest. The victim stays alive, but in only a semi-live state. The vampire/dead one sucks the life out of the surviving mourners. The survivor might long to join the dead one. The survivor feels sapped, destroyed, tormented by the dead one. They might feel hatred towards the dead one, but at the same time remain drawn to them. Only when the dead one can be well and truly nailed and accepted as properly dead can the survivor shake off the haunting and get on with life. And some don't - some do follow their loved ones to the grave.

Vampire stories give us a way of encapsulating the parts of grief we don't like to acknowledge, cloaking them in a form we are allowed to hate and shun. They give us the right to say 'stay in your grave, leave me alone'. There are other stories that do the same - The Monkey's Paw is one - but vampires provide an established and universal metaphor for the fear and hatred we can have even for the dead we loved, a way of acknowledging those feelings without guilt. Of course, we've picked up vampires and run with them, and I doubt any modern vampire writer would say that's what they're doing. I wouldn't have done.

Well, that's my vampire theory. Please tear it apart now and drive a stake through its heart.


Adèle Geras has sent this wonderful poem of hers,  inspired long ago by the top of the two pictures here, and given me permission to share it with you - for which I am extremely grateful.


          Mother, on first acquaintance
          he is not to my taste.

          (Put him in the Yellow Room.
          Gather me into my garments.)

          His coat glitters like cockroaches.
          His boots contain nightmares.

          (Pull the flat maids out
          from between grey sheets.)

          His fingernails are white;
          unreasonably curved.

          (At eleven o'clock the family portraits
          open their mouths to scream.)

          Wallpaper absorbs and disperses
          the shadow of his hat.

          (I am wearing a bustle.
          I am wearing a corset.
          I am wearing a hat
          with a veil; with a black veil.)

          Tears leave stains
          at the bottom of teacups.
          Sighs become cobwebs.

          Mother, have you seen them?
          Mother, is it rude to speak of them?
          There, there, thrusting between his shoulderblades
          he has a pair of ribbed and leathery wings.

          (He will spread them.
          They will mask the light;
          groan and flap like an umbrella
          in an ecstasy of wind.
          They will fall into dry folds
          when he is done with them.)

          Put him in the Yellow Room.
          Let me consider.


Anne Rooney
Stroppy author

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16199. How Much Do You Invest In Your Writing?

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”  - Ernest Hemingway

Most of us nod our heads to this, right? We put our time and effort into our work. We write, we learn, we study, we read, we write some more, we revise, we query, we deal with rejection, we start again. Sound familiar? If you're in this business as a lark or to make billions, I have some sad news...

STILL, there's more we can invest in our writing and I'm wondering how far you would go? As in money, moola, smackers, compensation. Well you get the idea. Here's a list of okay and not okay things to spend your money on if you're a writer. Most are serious. ;D But honestly, it's something I've been juggling lately as far as promotion goes, so I know I can't be the only one. Can you add to the list, please? I know it can't be complete.

Oh and one more thing - I'm not saying you HAVE to spend a single penny. I'm only saying it may not be such a bad idea if you're already investing all of your time and effort to consider some possibilities.

Things NOT to spend money on:
  1. Agents who ask for money. This is not how it works. A legitimate agent is difficult to come by, but worth the hard work. If they offer representation it will be because they want to work with you and they get paid by selling your work. Simple as that. 
  2. "Publishers" who ask for money. Same deal. If you self publish, that's different. But if it's a legitimate press they should be the ones to front the costs for the editor, printing, etc. Publicity is a different story. Many authors do not get a publicist, or if they do, they still find themselves doing much of the promotion, but you can always negotiate this in your contract.
  3. Don't quit your day job. I know, this isn't directly spending money, but you're definitely losing it if you do this solely to write. I know plenty of authors who still work and find time to write even with a family. Is it hard? You bet! But if you have to write, you have to write. Just don't forget you also have to eat and sleep somewhere with a roof over your head.

Things you CAN spend money on, but you'll have to prioritize:
  1. Editorial services. Is it necessary? NO. You might just have fantastic critique partners who are enough. You should have them no matter what. Mine are indispensable. But sometimes you're close, so close, but you need a little more help from a new set of eyes. OR sometimes you decide to self publish and then it's an absolute MUST.
  2. Cover design. This is only if you ARE self-publishing. But a cover is very important. I'm in love with mine, but I know my publisher paid for it. It's worth it. 
  3. Contests. I'm debating right now entering a few of these. But each one costs money and it adds up. I think in my case I will swallow the bullet and pick maybe 3 of my faves. I'll probably get some input and do a bit of research first though. Is it a guaranteed win? No. Of course not, but the more eyes on my book and the more possibilities the better.
  4. Conferences and continuing education. I allocate myself several smaller workshops or one larger conference per year. Each one has absolutely been worth it for me. I get so much out of being with other writers and learning craft. I love it. You shouldn't spend this money though if you're expecting to meet someone who will instantly offer you publication. That's not what the networking is about. If you really can't afford it, you can always find online free conferences. There's Writeoncon, which is awesome and I believe there was (and hopefully will be) Indiecon online too. 
  5. Books. You gotta read if you're gonna write. Libraries are good resources though! ;D
What can you add? Oh and to save you a bit of money, we are offering THE BINDING STONE free on Kindle September 9 and 10th!!! So go grab a copy!

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16200. Five Word Friday


Today, I am listing 5 words from Mom’s August 12×12 story. She didn’t like this story very much, but she kept on writing it all the way to the end. (It’s not about me, so I’m not crazy about it either.)

undercover dog

When Mom finally wrote the last sentence, it made her laugh out loud. Mom said, “Well, that was worth the trip, I guess.” and “This story doesn’t sound like me at all!” and “Technically, that’s still a street nap, even though you’re sort of on the sidewalk…”

sidewalk nap

1. Dance – I dance for treats.


2. Head – My head is tiny. So is my brain. Ummmm…I’m not stuck under there. I’m fine. …Really.

under bench

3. Bounce – Mom is teaching me to sit on my mat, so that (in between dancing), I will not bounce around too much. Someday, I will learn that whole sitting still thing….


4. Dripping – I don’t like getting wet.


5. Peanut Butter – Peanut butter, yogurt, a smashed banana, and some honey make a yummy ice cream treat. Mmmm….

ice cream2

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