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1. Author Visits

Mom has two author visits coming up. One this week and one next week. Both are call-backs, so she kind of knows what to expect. One thing she expects is fun! Rejection is the downside of writing. School visits are the upside AND her most favorite thing about being an author. Bar none.

school visit

Fifth graders and college students make for very different visits, which means Mom will pack up her school visit stuff  TWICE. I love when Mom packs up her bag.

bookbag2

Sometimes there are candies in there. Or gum. Or tissues.  And sometimes stuffed toys, depending on where she’s visiting. I ALWAYS check the bag out, just in case.

bookbag

Once I found (and ran with) a smaller bag from inside the bigger bag. It had a fork, a beanie baby, a paintbrush, and a baseball inside. Mom said, “I need them for a game.” and “You wouldn’t understand.” and “Eeeewww. They’re slimy with dog spit!”

gamebag2

Although I love the bag, I hate the leaving. Why does every upside need a downside? When Mom says, “I have to go,” I hear the word GO and head for the door.

Ready!

Ready!

She says, “Not this time.” and “I’ll be back in a little while.” and “Do you want a treat?” which is EXACTLY what I want. And that’s how the downside becomes the upside again.

milkbone toothbrush

 


10 Comments on Author Visits, last added: 4/15/2014
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2. Author Interview with Jeanne E. Rogers

It’s Author Interview Thursday and it’s my pleasure to introduce you to another author whose passionate about their craft and sharing with the writing community.J.E. Rogers I’ve been at the London Book Fair this week and I’ve had the privilege to meet various authors writing in different genres with a positive outlook on the future. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from the seminars at LBF, it’s that the publishing industry is evolving all the time and its imperative we keep our ears to the ground. That’s why I love AIT as every featured author has a unique experience which we can all learn from. I got to know today’s special guest after my interview with Sandra Bennett who was on the hot seat a few weeks ago. Her Middle Grade book ‘The Sword of Demelza,’ was awarded Honourable Mention in the Writer’s Digest’s 2013 eBook Awards. If you know her, then you how much she loves animals and this love is expressed in her books as well as most posts on her blog. She has so much to share with us and I know you’ll learn something new today. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming Jeanne E. Rogers.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

I’m a bit of a late bloomer. Although I have been writing for a long time, I finally decided that I was ready. The new ‘wild west’ of independent publishing gave me all the courage I needed in order to self-publish in 2013 and I was thrilled to do so. As for the personal stuff…  I was born in New York City, raised in NJ, moved to Connecticut, graduated from Western Connecticut State University, (take a breath), and worked for 25 years in corporate America, (Ugh! and double Ugh!). I have three wonderful children, Erik, David and Katharine, and a fabulous, very understanding husband named George. My family fills my life, and fuels my muse! Oh, I can’t forget Phoebe, my standard poodle companion! My first compliment came from a beta reader who filled my manuscript with marginalia. Everywhere there was a note about the fascinating characters or the setting, or how quickly the pace was set in motion. There were also suggestions for improvements or brilliant ideas that I hadn’t thought of. It was both inspiring and encouraging.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Jeanne E. Rogers?

Readers can expect to enter a fantasy world where anthropomorphized animals wander the pages. I put swords and shield in their paws and send them out on a thrilling adventure. Readers will be introduced to animals that they have never met before and something different and exciting will happen in every chapter. The characters are endearing, devoted to each other, and determined in their missions. Beyond the story itself, readers will become aware of the moral lessons subtly placed within the story. Lessons about love, diversity, dedication to one’s family, and to a cause are all woven within the tale. I want my young readers to recognize that we each play an important role in our lives no matter how small or insignificant we feel – we all matter, we all make a difference.

 

Congratulations on the publication of your first Middle Grade Lit. book – The Sword of Demelza. Can you tell us about the research process that went into writing this book?The Sword of Demelza

Research for my book began three years prior to publication. The genre (fantasy) is pretty broad and there is much that includes talking animals. However, my goal is to teach youngsters about wild animals, specifically endangered animals, as I entertain. This is different from all the other animal books on the market today. The plight of endangered animals is a big subject, and there are many creatures whose lives are threatened. Some are critically endangered to the point that, one day soon, we may never see them again. The culprit is typically habitat deterioration. I decided that I would focus on one place at a time, and my love for Australia became my first focus. Every animal mentioned in the book was researched and if they were endangered I quoted the status of that animal as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In order to make this a reality for my readers, I added a glossary at the back of the book. There are many mentions of flora and fauna that are found only in Australia in this glossary. Children here in the United States will be introduced to much of this information for the first time via my stories.

 

Your blog has a lot of useful info on Animals some people may never have heard of. Can you tell us where this love of animals stems from and if it’ll be a major theme in your future books?

As a child, animals fascinated me. I was not allowed a dog or cat because my father was highly allergic. My mother was very much aware of my love for animals and when I brought home the garden snake, she allowed it to stay. That was the beginning. After that there were many other unusual animals, including iguanas, fish, even mice and rats – only a little bit of fur there!  I just seem to have an affinity for animals and they seem to have the same for me. Since establishing my own home, I have rarely been without a companion dog. I have had four poodles and two Afghan Hounds, which I showed extensively. That was fun, but expensive.

Australia fascinated me from the time I was very young. I mean, what child here in the US doesn’t think koalas or kangaroos are fascinating? Koalas only eat leaves, and they are so adorable, even though they can be a bit grumpy. What about the Kangaroo? How could you not be captivated by the fact that a baby kangaroo, pretty much just an embryo, can crawl up to its mother’s pouch, and develop there over several months? Kangaroos and koalas are odd animals, odd marsupials. Everything in Australia is odd and I want to spread the word, share the fascination. Come on – admit it, Australia is a really strange, and interesting place, but I love it, I truly do.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your book?

Social media is crucial in building an author’s platform. I started three years prior to publication. I began with a blog, set up a fan page on Facebook, made inroads with LinkedIn and Google+, dabbled a bit in Twitter, and went completely wild on Pinterest. The Internet has changed the way people communicate and the way people market themselves and their businesses. As an author, you have to face the fact that once your book is published you are now in the business of selling that book. If you are lucky enough to land an agent or publisher it doesn’t mean that you can stand back and let them take the social media reigns and do the marketing for you. As a matter of fact, you can be sure that they will not allow you to do that. They will expect you to be very hands on. So if you haven’t gotten your paws dirty in the devil’s work of marketing prior to publication, you’re already behind the eight ball. You have to be there, be active and be involved.

Any good marketing platform should include some of the following items, if not all; Internet (website/blog, podcasts, YouTube), special appearances and events, Radio and TV.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? Characters from The Sword of Demelza

I loved the classics. I loved The Jungle Books, by Kipling, the A.A. Milne books; Winnie the Pooh was a favourite, and I can’t tell you how many times I read When We Were Very Young.  One day my father introduced me to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. This trilogy was the basis for the hit Will Smith movie, I Robot.  Sci-Fi and Fantasy became a favourite and I couldn’t read fast enough. From Asimov, I graduated to Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Gaiman and even Edgar Allen Poe and Kafka, just to mention a few great authors. I am a voracious reader and I love it when I discover a book, especially fantasy, which was published independently. I will write a review on those that I believe are super, publish that review on Amazon, Goodreads, Google+, Facebook, etc. Needless to say, I am very supportive of independent authors.

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?

I think the most important thing NOT to do is use dialogue as an opportunity to dump information on the reader. Information should be giving within the story itself and not provided in a dialogue conversation.

Using words like, replied, interrupted or confirmed can slow the pace of the dialogue. Try to avoid them.

Don’t overuse dialogue tags. You don’t have to say ‘he said’ ‘she said’ every time. Also intersperse your dialogue with a few action tags. A well place action tag will enhance a visual of your character.

Avoid using an action tag as a dialogue tag. For example:

“I can’t stand spinach,” Susie cringed.  Cringed is an action or expression not a dialogue tag.

It would be appropriate to write:

Susie cringed. “I can’t stand spinach.”

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?Jeanne with a Kangaroo

I think some of the best dialogue I have ever experienced is the dialogue in Game of Thrones, which was inspired by the books A Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin. I admire the screenplay written by David Benioff. David is a genius when it comes to creating interesting dialogue, and if you want to experience his expertise in writing, I highly recommended his book, City of Thieves. Once you read that, you’ll get it. Why is he so good? I would have to say it’s because his dialogue is natural, you become invested in the characters, and it keeps the story moving forward. He also manages to interject humour. What more can I say? When I grow up, I want to write dialogue like David Benioff.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Shrek! It’s an entire world of fantasy and anything goes there. What fun!

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Connecticut do?

Wow! Since I am animal oriented, I would point people to the Mystic Marine Aquarium and Seaport. It’s fabulous and there’s a lot to see and do nearby. There’s also Yale’s Peabody Museum and the Athenaeum in Hartford has beautiful art work by some of the masters like Dali, Monet, etc.  Mark Twain lived in Connecticut, and his house is near Hartford. He lived there from 1874 to 1891. It is now a museum and quite the place to tour. I recommend coming here in the Spring. It’s a beautiful time of year, and the rolling hills are dotted with blossoms of every kind. Since we are at New York City’s doorstep you can’t go wrong.

 

The Sword of Demelza focusses on animals indigenous to Australia. Can you tell us about a lasting impression your visit to Australia left on you?Jeanne feeding a Kangaroo

There’s quite an amusing story about our trip to Australia, but there’s just not enough room here to bore your readers with (big smile)! I landed in Melbourne, where my husband and I have good friends. The first thing I saw after leaving the parking garage was a McDonald’s – I felt right at home. Enough levity.

We were spending three precious weeks in Australia, and we were packing those weeks front to back. We flew with our friends from Melbourne to Adelaide, which I loved, loved, loved. Did I say that I liked Adelaide? OK, good. In Adelaide we boarded the Ghan and headed for the centre. One of my lifelong dreams was to see Uluru at dawn and at dusk, but that wasn’t going to be the lasting impression, although it certainly was one of them. My lasting impression came while I was on the Ghan. The Ghan travels overnight to Alice Springs, and during the middle of the night, while everyone was asleep; the train came to a standstill. This did not bother my husband at all. He continued to snore. However, my sleep pattern was interrupted and I was instantly awake, wondering why we were no longer moving. Visions of train robberies came into my head. I was sure we were we be boarding by a marauding band of Kangaroos? Would we have to turn over our valuables to them? Would they be carrying six-shooters and wearing masks?

The thought that we were stopped to simply change conductors was just too dull a thought to contemplate. I wiggled to the window and looked out. It was blacker than black and there was nothing to be seen on the ground. But the sky! Oh, the sky was a wonder to behold. An Australian friend, and wonderful author, Clancy Tucker, told me about the drover’s blanket, and there it was overhead in all its glory. I will never forget the multitude of stars that came out for me that night. It was a greeting for me; a welcoming that will remain with me always.

 

Growing up, you had several interesting pets like snakes and mice. Can you tell us about an unforgettable experience with one of your pets?

Let’s see, there was so many. Oh, I know. I had an iguana named Ignats, short for Ignatius. He was about four feet long from tip of nose to tip of tail. I kept him in a terrarium in my bedroom. I was in college at the time, and when I came home from classes, the first thing I would do was check on Ignats. You see, Ignats was very strong, and no matter what I put on the top of the tank he always managed to get that screen off and climb out. I would put books on top and he would push up on the screen, crawl out, and wander about the house. So one day I came home to an empty terrarium and as usual, I began to nonchalantly search the house for my long green fellow. I did this so that I wouldn’t alarm my mother to the fact that he was loose. If I could find him and replace him in the terrarium there would be no trouble. Ignats was not one of Mom’s favourites. A screech from the bedroom area hinted that I may find Ignatius there and I bounded up the stairs to my mother’s room. Ignats was hanging by his back claws to top of mom’s mirror. With his front feet placed securely on the mirror itself, he stared out at my mother as she combed her hair. It’s pretty amazing that mom allowed him to stay after that incident, but she did. She was very tolerant and I loved her dearly for it.

 

What can we expect from Jeanne E. Rogers in the next 12 months?

I am writing continually and my second book is about fifty per cent complete. This one also takes place in a fantasy world with Australian animals. I’m introducing a few new ones and bringing back a few that readers of The Sword of Demelza will recognize. I have also written a short story that takes place in the outback, and I would love to find a publication that will take that. It has an environmental angle to it and the main characters are kangaroos, dibblers, wedge-tailed eagles and more. It’s a lot of fun and once again, youngsters are the target readers. It’s entitled One Hot Mess. Here’s the opening paragraph for you;

The Australian Outback is an unusual place, and it was even more unusual this season. The land was a bit greener and that’s what was unusual. Countless green, round shrubs dotted the red earth and every so often, a pool of water sparkled on the dusty plain. The Mob of Kangaroos would be enjoying the mid-day sun if it weren’t for the hot mess sitting near the train tracks.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

I would love to hear from your readers. They can contact me at any one of the following;

Facebookhttps://facebook.com/australianfantasyadventures

Pinteresthttp://pinterest.com/warriorechidna

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/warriorechidna

Bloghttp://warriorechidna.blogspot.com

I am also on LinkedIn and Google+. Please stop by, say ‘hello’ and share.

  

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Eagle

My best advice for writers who are just starting out would be to make sure that you research your competition and know your audience. You need to know how your book will compete in the marketplace. If you do land an agent, that agent will want to know that you have done your homework in this respect. An agent can use this type of information when they approach editors and publishers with your book. Next, I would have to say that your manuscript must be perfect before you submit it to an editor, agent or publisher. Make sure you have had beta readers, and that you have had your manuscript professionally edited and that it has been formatted and set up in the corrected manner before making any submissions. Finally, I would say, be tenacious; be open to constructive criticism and suggestions, by beta readers and/or editors. Don’t give up. Keep writing and you will achieve your goals, even if you have to rewrite that manuscript several times in order to get there. Write from your heart and be true to yourself.

 

Thank you ever so much for being with us today Jeanne. There is such a wealth of information you’ve shared with us today that I’ll definitely be coming back to check out this interview again. I loved what you said about taking the time to make sure our work before publication has undergone a professional scrutiny with regards to the book cover, editing, proofreading etc. As we never get a second chance at a first impression, it’s important the work we put out there can stand the test of time. Do share this interview on your social networks and live a review. I’d like to inform you of other special events happening on this blog. Simply enter your name and email in the top right hand corner.

Grab a copy of Jeanne’s critically acclaimed book on Amazon by clicking this link ====> The Sword of Demelza

8 Comments on Author Interview with Jeanne E. Rogers, last added: 4/12/2014
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3. Countdown Wednesday

Today, Mom and I are counting down about advice.

Advice I Get

3. Be Quiet – Mom says this word when the mailman comes. Ditto the FedEx and UPS guys. She clearly does not know these people are here to kill me. I must sound the alarm.

2. Don’t pull – Mom tells me this word when I am smelling delicious things outside, and checking my pee-mail. She clearly does not know that if I don’t quickly eat the goose candies in the grass, one of my dog friends might get them and I will miss out.

muddy

1. Fetch it – It took me a long time to understand this advice. I finally learned what it means. For any of my friends struggling with fetching, the secret to it is the bring-back. Do not get the ball, bring it on the couch, and try to hatch it like an egg.

fetch

Nailed it. Wait. What??

That is apparently not fetching. Bring it back to Mom and GET A TREAT. That’s fetching.

Advice Mom Gets

3. Add Conflict – People don’t like conflict. Especially Mom. But in a story, conflict is good. So are suspense, action, problems, unexpected obstacles, surprises, and other kinds of trouble. I like trouble.

broken barrel

I don’t think the monkey will pop out of the barrel and laugh at me anymore…. RIP laughing monkey.

2. Find Your Voice – Each time she starts a new story (at least once a month), Mom has to find her picture book voice. Voice helps the book sound unique and different from other books. Voice shows Mom’s characters looking at the world in their own special way.

shadow

1. Focus on Character – Mom usually writes stories that are plot, plot, plot. Lately, she is trying to take the advice she’s received about developing character, character, character. Susanna Hill’s Picture Book Magic class helped her a lot with that. Now Mom can get to know her characters before they start living in her story.

sunshine-award

 

Speaking of living, two of my bloggy friends gave me the Sunshine Award, recently. I think it’s the perfect time of year for this award, since the snow is finally gone, and any minute now, the sun will shine and I will take a street nap.

street nap

A big, sunny thank you to Collies of the Meadow and The Squeak Life for sharing this prize with me. If you feel like you need a smile, visit them. They’re a guaranteed giggle. And if you want to celebrate the sunshine, take this award and post it to your own blog.


12 Comments on Countdown Wednesday, last added: 4/2/2014
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4. Author Interview with Marta Moran Bishop

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I have to admit that I’ve been looking forward to today’s interview for quite a while.Marta Moran Bishop I was introduced to our special guest by Sherrill S. Cannon who was on the hot seat last month. In our correspondence leading up to today’s interview, I’ve been really impressed by her generosity and passion for her craft. I was fascinated to discover that she had published two children’s poetry books as I think that’s an art form that’s not as celebrated as it should be. She has also published several stories, novels and adult poetry books. She loves horses and comes from the Bay State. I know you’ll love what she has to share with us today, so please join me in welcoming Marta Moran Bishop.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complimented you on something you had written?

At first, I found writing to be a bit intimidating, as my grandmother and mother were both writers and although I wrote constantly I found it difficult to say I was a writer or even share what I had written at first. It wasn’t until I was in my first semester at college and had a professor tell me I had the makings of a brilliant writer that I found the courage to begin allowing others to see what I had written.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Marta Moran Bishop?

Whether it is a book of poetry, short story, or a novel, there will always be a glimmer of light and hope in it. A way to connect with oneself and all of life, and the joy in the day.

 

What are your thoughts on the Amazon KDP Select Program and why have you taken your books off it?Marta Moran Bishop Reading to Kids

I am of two minds about the Amazon KDP Select Program: First I believe if one is doing a series it can produce interest in reading more books in the series. However, to give away books in the hope of gaining a few reviews or a new reader reminds me of a job I once held, where the restaurant was continually doing some kind of free benefit. They went out of business as people began waiting for the next freebie. So many devalued the restaurant as a viable place to spend an evening as they didn’t value themselves. I am aware that even the free books push the ranking up on Amazon, but after a while no one is buying your book.

The second reason is all about putting all your eggs in one basket so to speak. By agreeing to sell solely through Amazon, you are signing a (albeit short) contract excluding all other eBook marketers. I want my books available elsewhere. I actually don’t pick up free eBooks any longer, instead I will wait until the book is for sale and buy it, for I believe the writer should be paid. I’d be more interested in discounted price option (which they have, but only for books over $.99) or a package type of deal, such as buy one get one free. One where the writer gets paid something for their work.

 

What have you found to be a successful way to market your books?

I have found that the more visible you are, the better and that although social media gains you some visibility, you really need to get out into the public more. Radio shows, interviews, readings at the local hospital, bookstore, gallery, school, or anywhere else will boost your sales more than all the tweets and Facebook posts you and your friends can do. That market is saturated, and many don’t even look at those posts any longer, unless it is for a favourite author.

 

You’ve written two children’s books on poetry. Do you think poetry as an art is being under-valued and what can we do to inspire a new generation to read and write poetry?Wee Three

Yes, I have written Wee Three: A Mother’s Love in Verse, which has gained critical acclaim and Innocence and Wonder. Both books are illustrated. Wee Three is illustrated by Hazel Mitchell and Innocence and Wonder by both Ms Mitchell and me.

I do agree poetry is under-valued and believe that to be true, because so many people have been led to believe poetry is difficult to understand. When I am speaking to a group of children I usually will in many cases ask them to write me a small poem about their life or something that matters to them. Reading to children gives them a love of the written word, whether it is poetry or a story. But, children love things that rhyme, so poetry is a wonderful way to teach.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

As a child, I read anything I could get my hands on, but we grew up on A.A. Milne’s, Now We Are Six, and When We Were Very Young and Robert Lewis Stevenson, who wrote some wonderful children’s poetry. Both writers painted a picture of something that children could relate to in their poetry. More like very short stories than what many people today think of when and if they think of poetry.

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?

As I end up listening to many books these days at work, I find the most irritating thing is when after the character speaks there are too many ‘he said, she said…” I believe a writer should find a way to write it as if in conversation in a way that the reader can understand who is speaking without adding ‘he answered, she said etc.’

 

Toy Story or Shrek?Innocence and Wonder

To be honest I did not see Toy Story, I saw Monsters Inc. and Shrek, and found the conversations in Monsters Inc. to be quite humorous and honest. I believe it showed how children would see and speak to either imaginary friends or new friends. Shrek  was good, but I found there were a few too many off-sides with characters discussing things with the audience or camera. It reminded me a bit of the ‘he said, she answered’ bit.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Massachusetts do?

If I were only to recommend three things someone should absolutely see in Massachusetts; they would be to walk the Freedom Trail, or at least as much of it as possible, make sure to see the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House. Take a trip to Salem and visit Hallows Hill, and take a walk through the sites that are open to the public. Last, but not least take the time to visit Old Sturbridge Village, many of the old buildings from hundreds of years ago have been moved there.

 

As you own three horses, I wanted to know if you could tell us three things most people don’t know about horses.Marta Moran Bishop Reading to her Horses

Horses have a vocabulary of their own.
If bored, they will find something to spook themselves with to get an adrenaline rush.
They have a sense of humour and enjoy finding ways to play jokes on humans and other horses.

 

What can we expect from Marta Moran Bishop in the next 12 months?

I hope to have my book, Dinky: The Nurse Mare’s Foal, expanded to include a set of books for ages 3 – 8 that will tell Dinky’s story. I still need a name for it (I don’t want it confused with the novel) so if anyone has a suggestion, please feel free to jump in.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/MartaMoranBishopAuthor
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/moranbishop
GoodReadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3953690.Marta_Moran_Bishop
Redroomhttp://redroom.com/member/marta-moran-bishop
Websitehttp://martamoranbishop.com
Bloghttp://martambishop@blogspot.com

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Dinky

Don’t let anyone else define you. The more you read, the better writer you will become. Always do at least one rewrite of your book. Hire an editor or at least several beta readers who will pick up grammar and other issues that might make a difference in the way your story flows. Read your story/book aloud, by doing this many mistakes are found.

 

Wow! That was such a brilliant note to end our interview on. There are just so many nuggets of wisdom you’ve shared with us today that if applied could be the turning point for any writing career. I loved what you said about reading your book aloud as there’s just so much you discover when you’re reading aloud and hearing yourself reading. Also, it’s a way to detect what will work and not work when you’re reading to an audience. Please click one of Marta’s links above and connect with her. She’s active on the various social networks and will be happy to know you discovered her after reading this interview. Marta and I would love to know you dropped by so you can either share this interview using the social media buttons below or leave a comment.

Click this link to discover and grab a copy of one of Marta’s books ====> Marta Moran Bishop on Amazon

6 Comments on Author Interview with Marta Moran Bishop, last added: 3/30/2014
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5. Interview with Children’s Book Author Sandra Bennett

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so excited that we have another opportunity to be inspired by an author who has encountered the challenges associated with getting a book published and is still standing.Sandra Bennett Today’s special guest comes from the beautiful nation of Australia. We connected via Facebook and it’s been a pleasure to get to know her better in the build up to this interview. She’s a teacher by profession and is really passionate about increasing the literacy levels in children. She recently got her first children’s book published and I know it’s going to be the first of many to come from her pen. Her passion for reading and writing is so infectious as you’ll agree with me by the end of this interview. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Sandra Bennett.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and that first moment when you knew you could write.

I am a bookaholic. I have had my nose in a book for as long as I can remember.  I started writing in my teens and won my first national poetry award when I was sixteen. By the time I went to teachers college and studied children’s picture books and their authors I knew I wanted to write for children too. I don’t know if I could say I had an exact moment when I knew I could write, I just always knew it was something I had to do. It was a natural progression, a part of my teaching and my love of literacy. I wrote stories for the kids in my classes and for my own sons. When we lived in Thailand I began writing stories about our adventures and experiences living amongst a different culture, and then when we returned home to Australia I decided it was time to study children’s writing further so that I could one day reach my dream of publishing stories for all children to enjoy.

 

I had the privilege to read your book ‘Gingerbread Aliens.’ Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book and the ideal audience for this book?Gingerbread Aliens

My passion throughout my teaching career has always been helping struggling readers to not only learn to read but find the joy in books that I have always found. Having the desire to reach and encourage as many children as I can to learn to read is my inspiration to write this book as well as many others. I have discovered from first-hand experience that children increase their ability to learn to read when they read something not only familiar but that they really enjoy as well. I wanted to write a story that was not only engaging, funny and entertaining, I wanted to hook the reader at the end of each chapter so that they couldn’t put the book down. Gingerbread Aliens was inspired from the chaos cooking in my own kitchen with my three sons many years ago when I realised I could twist the experience into a hilarious tale of somewhat epic proportions. This then in turn leads the reader on an adventure that keeps them guessing all the way to the end. Gingerbread Aliens is ideal for children learning to read or reluctant early readers who have not yet found a love of books. Ages 6-10 is ideal for them to read themselves, however I have found 4-5 year olds have really loved it too when read out loud by a parent, grandparent or significant other.

 

How do you combine being a full time teacher, married with three children and writing?

Doing anything you love is always a balancing act and a bit of a challenge but if you have the determination to reach a goal you will always find a way. Having a laptop helps as I can take my writing anywhere and I am able to write whenever the urge takes me. When I was teaching I usually kept it to weekends or late at night, however I have retired from teaching now that my boys are older and are independent young men. This has enabled me to have more time to devote during the day to developing my ideas, although I admit I am still a mum first who likes to have a meal on the table when her boys come home each evening. I travel a lot more these days as well with my husband for his work, so again a laptop is very convenient. I just plug in no matter which city we happen to be in and away I go.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? Chronicles of Narnia

As a child C.S. Lewis, “The Chronicles of Narnia,” would have to be my all-time favourite, I can’t go past a good adventure. I also loved reading mystery series like “Trixie Belden,” Nancy Drew,” and “The Hardy Boys.” Guess I’m showing my age a bit here. By the time I was in my teens I found the wonderful humour of Douglass Adams “Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.” It was even more fantastic when I was able to re-read it and share it with my own teenage son. On that point,  may I add some of my other favourites that I read along with my boys as they grew up. Emily Rodda’s “Deltora Quest,’ anything and everything by Paul Jennings, in particular “Round the Twist.” Paul Jennings has such a great sense of humour to attract kids to read. Jasper Fforde’s clever literary feast “Thursday Next” series and of course I can’t go past “Harry Potter.” J.K. Rowling was masterful the way she made a whole generation of children start reading again.

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? 

  1. Avoid using said after each person speaks. Try to show who is speaking through an action or emotion. It comes back to the old saying “show, don’t tell.”
  2. Be careful not to make the language stiff or stilted. Good dialogue does not have to be formal, it has to flow naturally.
  3. The words must fit the character. If it’s a teenager use teenage jargon, a grandparent may have completely different idiosyncrasies. Do not fall into the trap of letting all your characters speech sound the same. Make sure they are individuals.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?Sandra Bennett Reading

It’s an old classic but a good one that has lasted throughout the generations, Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I defy any young teenage girl not to fall in love with the arrogant yet debonair Mr Darcey and who can’t help but laugh at the ever meddling dialogue of the forever vexatious Mrs Bennett? (I know I am Mrs Bennett too, it has not gone unnoticed in this household either.) The setting of the story may be well before our times and therefore the dialogue is much more structured however it is fitting for the day and tells the story in a manner befitting late eighteenth century English society.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story! While Shrek was fabulous in it’s own right, I can’t go past the humour and delight of Toy Story. I love the whole concept of the child’s toys coming to life when he is not around. I can just imagine this happening in bedrooms and playrooms everywhere. I also love the fact that they used toys that I grew up with as did my own boys. Toy soldiers, Mr Potato Head, Slinky the dog, even Barbie entered in the sequel. Again it comes back to telling a story with things that all kids can relate to and what is closer to their hearts than the toys they play with every day.

  

I had the privilege to read to several Year groups at a Primary school recently. The experience really made me consider being a teacher. What advice would you have for me and anyone reading this interview who are thinking about pursuing a career as a teacher?Sandra Bennett Reading Gingerbread Aliens

Teaching is an enormously rewarding career. There is nothing like the joy of watching the delight rise on a little face when they have a “light bulb” moment or realize they can finally achieve something that they have struggled to learn. There are no words to express the feeling of how wonderful the opportunity it is to take a group of small students from the beginning of the year and watch them grow and teach them to learn. When they start off unable to read and leave you as independent readers by the end of the year, you know you have done something right. Teaching can engulf every waking hour as you tend to put your heart and soul into your class. Preparation and evaluation can leave you with very little time for anything else, so good time management skills are essential.

 

If you were not a teacher, what would you do?

I am already doing it! I am no longer teaching. I spend my days writing, researching, marketing and when I can I visit schools for book readings. I would like to add writing classes in schools one day to my list of skills but haven’t really looked into that yet.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Australia do?Australia

Wow, that’s harder to answer than you might think. Australia is such a large place and there are so many wonderful things to see and do and places to visit. It depends on whether you are into scenery, the arts, animals or culture? 

  1. I guess most people would say you have to visit Sydney Harbour. It is one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. (Yes I am a tiny bit biased. I did grow up in Sydney). The Opera House is spectacular, the Botanic Gardens are magnificent, The Rocks are full of our convict history, and Darling Harbour is alive with wonderful multicultural restaurants, and it is all under the backdrop of the “Coathanger” our amazing Sydney Harbour Bridge, which if you are not scared of heights, you can climb.

While you are in Sydney you should also take the time for a surf at any of our superb beaches that spread north and south along our coastline. Feel the sand beneath your toes and smell the salty sea air before you dive into the crisp clear blue ocean waves. I virtually grew up on Cronulla Beach on Sydney’s south side so the sea is in my veins. 

  1. Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland’s magnificent northern coast is another must.  The colorful coral and exotic tropical fish have to be seen to be believed. The turquoise water is so clear you can see forever while you float amongst the tranquillity of the gently lapping waves that relax your inner soul. 
  1. Explore the Outback. Take in the vast contrast of the red centre and the Indigenous Aboriginal Culture.  Whether you fly to Alice Springs and Uluru, Kakadu or the Kimberly Ranges in Western Australia, there are spectacular gorges, waterfalls, rock art and Aboriginal paintings and artifacts galore. Recently I had the awe inspiring experience of swimming under a waterfall in an outback waterhole. It was something I’ll certainly never forget. 

I know you only asked for three, but I would like to add one more on a personal note. Whenever we have visitors from overseas they always ask to see Kangaroos.Sandra Bennett with a Roo We have many kangaroos hopping through our property daily as we live in the country not the city, but the kangaroos here are wild and will not allow you to get close enough to touch. So we take our visitors across to the South Coast of New South Wales to a little spot in Murramarang National Park, called Pretty Beach (just north of Bateman’s Bay) where the kangaroos are quite tame. Here you are welcome to pat them, the only request by the park rangers is that you do not feed the roos, please allow them to forage for themselves. We find our guests always go home feeling overwhelmed to have had such an awesome and amazing experience.

  

What can we expect from Sandra Bennett in the next 12 months? 

Book two in my Alien Adventure Series is complete. The Bradberrie boys are up to more mischief and mayhem yet again! I hope to have it released soon, but no date is set just yet. So stay tuned “Alien Shenanigans” is coming soon! I am in the middle of writing the third book in the series. With a bit of luck it might be ready by Christmas. I am also considering publishing one or two of my picture books this year. I have quite a few works in the pipeline. It is just a matter of deciding which direction I want to take.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you? 

I have an author Facebook page they are welcome to follow at 

https://www.facebook.com/GingerbreadAliens

Readers and fans can also follow either of my blogs. I paste the same content to both so that following one is sufficient. I try to write advice for parents looking for help with the home reading struggle as well as including author interviews, book reviews, and the occasional recipe or science experiment. When Alien Shenanigans is released there will be more fun science coming. J 

http://sandrabennettauthor.com/

http://gingerbreadaliens.blogspot.com.au/

https://plus.google.com/102400431461177159068/posts

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

Read, read and read some more. Then write , write and write even more!  The old adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is alive and strong when it comes to writing. There is no easy way to writing, you just have to keep at it. Take classes, learn your craft, join writing groups but don’t be afraid to put pen to paper. Even if you don’t feel your writing is good enough to show anyone else, keep writing until you find something you feel worthy of sharing. If writing and reading is your passion, (as it is mine) then don’t let anyone or anything stop you. Follow your dream, it doesn’t matter whether your book ever becomes a best seller or not, as long as it puts a smile on at least one face then you have done what you set out to achieve. I may have only published one children’s book so far, but during my journey I have learnt a lot. Be prepared to market yourself, be social media savvy, hang in there and write more books. The more books you publish the more you will develop a following and become known, but most of all, be true to yourself and never give up!

 

It’s been an absolute delight having you with us today Sandra. I just admire the fact that your primary motivation for writing is not the dollar bills but the fact that you love the written word and the opportunity to affect others with your words. How can one go wrong with that sort of mindset? Please do check out the links Sandra gave above and be sure to like her Facebook page. You can also get a copy of her book, Gingerbread Aliens by clicking the link below.

Gingerbread Aliens on Amazon

8 Comments on Interview with Children’s Book Author Sandra Bennett, last added: 3/23/2014
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6. Hidden

Spring is finally coming. Things that have been hidden under the snow are coming back. Look! It’s a coffee cup!

dd cup

Mom’s new story was hidden under the snow in her brain. Every single day, when she started working on it, she gave it a new title, made a list of new characters, decided on a new theme, and gave them new goals to accomplish, new problems to solve, and different obstacles to overcome.

confusion

It’s a good thing spring is coming. Mom’s hidden story is coming back. It’s her third day working with the same title, the same theme, the same characters, and they have the same goals, problems, and obstacles as they had yesterday.

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I think spring has sprung….

Look! It’s a banana!

peel

I wonder if the black bananas taste better than the yellow ones….

And a ginger ale bottle.

gingerale

And my beehive is back from under the snow!!

hive

Hello, old friend…


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7. Can you Fart at Cotillion?

My two oldest are in the show, Bye-Bye Birdie and a rather uncomfortable situation presented itself on opening night. I took my dancer daughter and sat in the patron’s section, making sure to look down upon the common folk in general admission. I don’t get to be a snob in my town very often as most of the houses around here are twice the size of mine. But with two in the high school drama program, the dues required made it about the same as paying to be a patron, so we joined the club and now enjoy reserved seating.

Last night I learned it is not advisable to eat risky foods prior to a two hour show. I love spicy foods and had been able to savor two distinct ethnic cuisines on this particular day. I don’t know exactly which one was the aggressor, but one of them crossed the line, instigating a border war deep inside. It started midway through act 1 and I did everything possible to keep the war contained to one front. At some point during the second act, one of the combatants wanted more territory like Hitler invading Russia and tried to open an eastern theater. I shifted in my chair so many times the poor guy behind me probably thought I was dancing with the actors, even when there was no music. Somehow, I managed to keep the entire battle to myself.

After the final bows, Dancer and I congratulated her sisters and friends on a wonderful show, took pictures, and left. I explained the raging war of the past two hours to my thirteen year-old, who rolled her eyes and said, “Dad, you need to go to Cotillion.”

800px-Hans_Thoma_003

I have only approximate knowledge of Cotillion. I looked it up and found out that it is classes designed to educate children on social skills, proper etiquette, manners and dance. As an adult, I am all for manners, especially for the boys who someday might want to date my daughters. The boy inside of me can think of nothing I would hate worse, though. I wonder what happens if you have to pass gas there. Do they have Cotillion police to escort you out immediately?

On a note related to boyhood, I got a fantastic review from a children’s lit blogger this week. Since I had sent the book in December, it came by surprise, precisely at a time when my spirits needed it. LINK.  In her review, she ponders this question:

This book captures the essence of boyhood very well. I had to laugh numerous times at how well the author knows what it means to be a young boy. He either has a very good memory, or he never grew up, I’m not sure which one.

I would like to thank Mrs. McMahon for taking the time to read Virge and write such a glowing review. I can put her question to rest in two ways. First, my memory is terrible except for completely irrelevant movie and song trivia. Second, take a look at the title of this post.


10 Comments on Can you Fart at Cotillion?, last added: 3/16/2014
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8. What’s a GROG? (Not what I thought it was.)

When I was but a wee thing, our family would often drive past a restaurant sign in town: “Good Food and Grog”. So I pestered my parents, “What is GROG?” My father replied, “Grilled frog.”

grog

HORRIFYING! Cooked Kermit!? Envisioning swaths of crisped, green skin beside a sobbing Miss Piggy, I vowed never to eat there.

Well, today I have put that childhood nightmare to bed. I have learned that GROG actually means GROUP BLOG. And, I’ve got a new kidlit grog to share with you.

Welcome author Todd Burleson, GROG spokesperson (who assures me he’s never roasted an amphibian over the coals).

grogheader

The term GROG evolved out of a desire to gather a group of writers and form a new blog about children’s literature. There are several phenomenal group blogs in the literature world. Many gave us inspiration, but none of them met the specific needs of our group. And, in the spirit of all things creative, we came together to form this GROG.

Our aim with this blog is to provide:

G: Guidance and support
R: Resources on the craft of writing
O: Opportunities to expand our skills
G: Great folks who support readers and writers of all ages!

Each weekday we will be focusing on a specific topic. Here are the daily foci:

Mondays: Mentor Texts
We will look at how mentor texts and other approaches can help teachers and writers of all ages to develop writing skills. We envision doing book reviews here too.

Tuesdays: Tools & Technology
We’ll look at tools, often technological, that can help us as writers.

Wednesdays: Craft
We’ll focus on the craft of writing. Sometimes it will be a writing lesson, other times it might be a review of a book on writing.

Thursdays: Submissions
On Thursday’s we’ll focus our thoughts on submissions, contests, query letters and more.

Fridays: Finds
These will be a smattering of awesome discoveries that we want to share with you.

Now why start a group blog instead of just an individual one?

  1. Being practical, we knew that sharing the load would help us remain faithful to posting while also maintaining our writing, teaching, family lives.
  2. We believe that the power of the group is to harness our connections.
  3. We know that each of us has a specific passion. By harnessing the power of the group, we get to share many more ideas and hopefully will reach and benefit many others.
  4. We enjoy being together. When we chat or meet via Google Hangouts, the ideas and passions flow.
  5. Finally, its a way to make the world ‘smaller.’ We have group members all over North American and even one in Seoul, South Korea. We may not be in the same time zone, but we all are dedicated to supporting one another as GROGgers and reaching a larger audience.

We have some phenomenal contributors at all stages of publication, but all eager to share. They are: Jan Godown Annino, Marcie Flinchum Atkins, Todd Burleson,
Tina Wheatcraft Cho, Kathy Halsey, Suzy Leopold, Christy Mihaly, Janie Reinart, Sherri Jones Rivers, Patricia Toht, Leslie Colin Tribble, Pam Vaughan and
Jackie Wellington.

Thanks, Todd! And good luck to you all!

So please go visit these fine folks at Groggorg.blogspot.com.

They will be giving away a boatload of prizes in the beginning of April, including a signed copy of THE MONSTORE by yours truly. You can also like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter.

Kermit will thank you.

kermit2


10 Comments on What’s a GROG? (Not what I thought it was.), last added: 3/7/2014
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9. Best Doctor Ever

photo 1

Today is Dr. Seuss’s birthday. He would’ve been 109 years old. He is the Best Doctor Ever on account of no needles, no looking into ears with a flashlight, no sticks stuck into forbidden places, and no touching of my bits and pieces.

Waiting for the doctor...

Waiting for the Doctor. Hoping for the Best.

Mom also loves Dr. Seuss for a million other reasons – his wild imagination, his silly rhyming, his crazy stories, and the fact that his first book was rejected 27 times before anybody said they liked it. Misery loves company.

rejected

Mom’s #1 favorite Dr. Seuss book is The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins from 1938.

500 hats

Normally, Mom and I steer clear of anything that smacks of numbers, but counting those hats is so much fun and so suspenseful that we can’t resist it. Also, a hundred years ago, Mom’s 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Nelson read that story to her class and Mom and her friends giggled and counted and were afraid for poor little Bartholomew not being able to take his hat off for the king.

500 hats2

As of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Mom is up to date on her 12×12 Challenge. She has written 2 new stories in the past 2 months. Now it’s a new month and time to start a new story.

photo22

In which direction should she go?

Direction? Up, of course.

King of the Hill of Filth

King of the Hill of Filth

What will be original?

Original? It doesn’t get any more original than an old dog learning a new trick.

333

Who will step out of her list of character ideas?

Character? This one.

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Or this one.

4

Or this one.

devil

How will she make the story sparkle?

Sparkle? With a tiara, of course.

Am I sparkling, yet?

Am I sparkling, yet?


10 Comments on Best Doctor Ever, last added: 3/2/2014
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10. Stuck and Waiting or Stuck but Moving

Sometimes stories get stuck. Mom likes the rule of three, so if there are only two good obstacles in her story, she can be Stuck-and-Waiting for one more good idea. Her other choice is to use an obstacle that isn’t her favorite and worry about it later. Then she is Stuck-but-Moving.

123

If a character turns boring halfway through the story, Mom can be Stuck-and-Waiting. A story that is Stuck-and-Waiting can die a miserable death. Her other choice is to go back to her character sketch and add some flaws, quirks, oddities, and traits to bump that character up. Even if he or she isn’t perfect, Mom can go back to work and worry about it later. Then she is Stuck-but-Moving.

jump for joy

When I come inside, I need to get the rock salt (and snow and mud) cleaned off my feet with a baby wipe. Sometimes, I am Stuck-and-Waiting.

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Wipe my feet, please….

When the snow is really deep (and touching my belly *shiver*) my legs can’t reach solid ground. Mom says, “I am not carrying you anymore.” So I get busy – Stuck-but-Moving.

Inside a snow bank, there could be something fun like a ball or something yummy like a piece of bread that the birds dropped. There’s one way to find out - drill my nose in as far as I can. Then I am Stuck-and-Searching. That’s my favorite way to be!

photo 1


10 Comments on Stuck and Waiting or Stuck but Moving, last added: 2/21/2014
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11. Five Word Friday

5 cards

Today’s five words are about being happy.

1. King of the Hill – I am happy when I am King of the Hill. Even though the hill is sometimes made of black plow-snow mixed with ice. And stones. And dirt.

photo 2

2. Great Story Idea – Mom is happy when she gets a great story idea in her head. At first a new idea is all white and fluffy and has unlimited possibilities.

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3. Beehive – I was happy when enough snow melted so I could see the broken piece of beehive that fell out of the tree a few months ago.

hive

I TASTED it! Mom said the word, “Oh no you didn’t!” But oh yes, I did.

hive2

Is she watching me?

4. Brand New Story – Mom is happy when she sits down to start writing a brand new story about her brand new idea. Still white, still fluffy, and still filled with unlimited possibilities.

white

5. On top – I am happy walking on top of a foot of snow covered by a few inches of ice. As long as I stay on top, the snow can’t touch my belly. *shiver* But sometimes, I end up holding on for dear life  with my tiny chicken-feet so I don’t slide into the street.

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26. Holding On –  After Mom works on her story for a while, she feels like she’s holding on for dear life with chicken-feet trying to get to the end and making sure the story isn’t a computer full of nonsense. She is happy when she finishes, though, and sometimes it’s nonsense and sometimes it’s not. But either way, it’s finished.

end

71. Cutting out nonsense - After the end of the story, Mom has to revise. That does not make her happy, but it has to be done. It helps cut out some of the nonsense and makes the story better. Just do it, Mom. Don’t look back.

photo 1

I’m King of the …… *gulp*

 


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12. Prizes

The ALA Awards were presented last week. There were a LOT of winners. Mom wasn’t any of them. Not only did she not WRITE any of the winning books, she has barely READ any of the winning books. I think she needs to step up her game. She has printed out the list, so that’s a good start.

Meanwhile, I have been winning awards left and right over here.

Our friends Wallace and Samuel  and Coccolino gave us the Best Blog Around the World Award.

best-blog1

Around the WORLD – Hear that, Mom?

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Our friend at Trifles gave us the Cracking Chrispmouse Bloggywog Award

christmas awardand the Opposites Attract Award

oppositesattractaward

See, Mom? I spread joy, peace, cheer, and stuff like that all over the place.

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And our friends Little B. and Granny at Angelswhisper gave us the Excellence Award. excellence-awardExcellence, Mom. Not just-OK or good-enough or kinda-nice or a Rate-Your-Story-4.

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Thanks to all of our bloggy friends for sharing these awards.

And Mom, it’s seriously time to step up your game.

Less this....

Less this….

...and more this!

…and more this!


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13. Inspirational Quote of the Week

Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.
Vaclav Havel

steps

Mom’s Highlights Contest story is finished resting, and thanks to her Contest Magic classmates giving her tons of help, she revised it –  AGAIN – cutting and adding and switching and tightening and tweaking (not twerking – trust me – nobody wants to see that).

 Yesterday, we went to the mailbox

mail

and Mom unceremoniously dropped it in. She said, “I could work on this thing for the rest of my life.” and “It’s time to stop staring up the steps and step up the stairs.” and “Where do you think you’re going?”

steps2

Mom is hoping to win big, but she is also hoping for her cyberclassmates to win big right along with her. She said, “Their stories are amazing.” and “Can I even compete with these people?” and “There’s nothing up there for you.”

Is she talking to me??

Is she talking to me??


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14. Fixed

quote pic

When I first came here, I had to be fixed. I wasn’t broken, but getting fixed was about not getting any more puppies in my belly. That’s fine with me.

puppies

My puppies were adopted at the shelter where I “lived” (and by lived, I mean barely existed) before I was rescued. Nowadays, I feel that puppies would take away some of Mom’s attention – which belongs 100% on ME. Plus, I use my belly for other things, named treats.

jar

Mom’s story for the Highlights Annual Fiction Contest wasn’t broken, either.

highlights

But, boy oh boy, did it need to be fixed. Mom’s cyberclassmates and her cyberteacher from the Contest Magic class gave suggestion after suggestion and asked important questions that made Mom think of important answers and make important changes. At the end of it all, the story was a LOT better than it started out. Like me!

Before

Before

After

After

Some things Mom learned were:

1. She is a mental case when it comes to commas.  (She, kind, of, already, knew, that,,,)

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2. The story problem needs to be close to the beginning of the story.

Help!

Help!

3. Readers need to learn about characters by what they say and what they do.

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4. A problem can’t solve itself. Characters need to work at it and make the solution happen. And it can’t be too easy.

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5. Conflict and tension are important. (Mom stinks at both of them.)

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6. Sometimes, even your favorite parts of a story need to be cut. It might be scary and hurt a little, but it has to be done.

...has to be done...

It’s like getting my nails trimmed. Like it or not, it has to be done….


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15. Countdown Wednesday

caneldar

Today, Mom and I are counting down about rest.

What I Know About Rest

3. I nap in my bed.

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2. I nap on the couch.

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…a lot.

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16. I nap in the street. (But only in the summer.)

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1. I nap on Mom’s bed. I am allowed on her bed when she says the word, “OK” and then we sleep there all night long.

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Who turned out the lights?

I am not allowed on there when she makes the bed, or when she is sorting out her folders and paperwork for her college job.

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Who? Me?

What Mom Knows About Rest

3. Waking up super-early in the morning, lazing in bed, drinking tea is a perfect, restful start to the day.

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2. After a story is finished it needs to rest. No working on it, no looking at it, no THINKING about it.

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Sometimes, a story needs to rest for a week. Sometimes longer.

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1. While a story is asleep, it’s difficult to wait for it to finish resting. It’s good to start mind-writing a new story right away. (And all new stories should be about me!)

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26. When stories wake up from resting, they sometimes stink.

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16. Finished

photo 1

Dinner is finished. I can tell by my empty dish.

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The Nutcracker Ballet is finished. I can tell by the SugarPlum Fairy dancing…

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…and Clara waking up.

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You mean we can’t play King of the Hill??

The snow is finished. I can tell by this little pile of black mush which is called Get-Away-From-It-It’s-Filthy.

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Mom is finished with her Goodreads Reading Challenge. She read 200 books this year, just like she planned.

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She is finished with PiBoIdMo, too. She made a list of 30+ ideas, just like she planned.

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Now, 2013 is about finished, but Mom isn’t ready. She has one more thing to finish. It’s her second year of The12x12 Challenge. That means she planned to write 12 picture book manuscripts in 12 months. But she’s only got eleven-and-a-half stories finished. She needs to buckle down and get to the end of her 12th story before the end of the year.

Mom says, “It doesn’t count if it’s inside my head.” and “This is a tough time of year to catch up.” and “Dinner is finished. Get over it. You will eat again tomorrow.”

photo 6


10 Comments on Finished, last added: 12/27/2013
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17. Combinations

There are lots and lots of breeds of dogs.

tv

Nobody is really sure what combination I am. Part Jack Russell for sure, and maybe some Beagle or Dachshund or Dalmation or ….Monkey or Bobcat.

tv2

Whatever the mix, I’ve turned out to be perfectly me. Not perfectly perfect, but with a bunch of good parts put together (and a little naughty streak for good luck).

tv4

Is that…? Is he…? Am I…?

I’m an original.

tv huh

Wait. What?

Mom keeps idea lists in her phone. One of the lists is called PiBoIdMo2012. It has 32 ideas.

piboidmo12winnerlarge

One is called PiBoIdMo2013. It has 35 ideas.

piboidmo2013-winnerbadge-700x700

And one is called Story Ideas. It has 42 ideas. Some of the ideas are already used up, so Mom marked them with a star. She says, “An author needs lots of ideas.” and “My phone is always nearby, in case I think of anything.” and “Do you have the hiccups?”

what

Hic….

When Mom starts a new story, she doesn’t always pick one of the ideas from her phone. Sometimes, she picks two ideas or even three and puts them together to make a combination. It’s not perfectly perfect, but it’s perfectly her. Idea mixing makes stories have some surprises and some unexpected events and unique characters in odd places doing unusual things.

And yes, sometimes I have the hiccups.


10 Comments on Combinations, last added: 12/20/2013
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18. Inspirational Quote of the Week

All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired.
Chuck Palahniuk

Experiences inspire ideas. Mom has completed her PiBoIdMo challenge with 35 inspired ideas for new stories.

piboidmo2013-winnerbadge-700x700

Some of her ideas will become picture book manuscripts. Some will become poems. One of them might become the elusive Book #2 or eBook #2. Some of them stink so bad that they will stay in her phone and rot. But somewhere, somehow, all of them were inspired for a few minutes by an experience during the month of November.

At her author visits, students or teachers often ask Mom if she ever has writer’s block. She says, “Never.” That’s because as long as she has a list of ideas, even if one story gets stuck, there are a bunch of other stories just waiting to get started.

I was inspired last night, so I started playing the piano with my paws…

piano paw

…and my face.

piano face

Mom came in to see what was inspiring me. Was I a genius and she was just finding out? No. Did I suddenly get skills that no dog in the world ever had? No. Would I play at Carnegie Hall and be famous? No. There was a fly in the house. And I wanted a closer look at it.

*Not actual fly

*Not actual fly

The fly disappeared after my concert, and later he met with an unfortunate end. Rest in peace, little fly. I think you would’ve been delicious.

clipart-rip-b846

*Not actual fly tombstone


10 Comments on Inspirational Quote of the Week, last added: 12/2/2013
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19. Ideas

Starting on November 1, Mom will be a part of PiBoIdMo.

piboidmo2013-participant-214x131

Yep. November is Picture Book Idea Month. That means she will have to get a picture book idea in her head every day for 30 days.  Last year, she wrote 30 ideas, and 8 of them are now either stories or poems. And one of them will be Mom’s first ever eBook, called What If I Don’t.

piboidmo2013-slogan-490x301

Ideas are a way of life when you’re an author. They are also a way of life when you’re a dog. Here are some ideas I have for stories….

Cupcake, the Best Dog in the World.

polka

Cupcake Gets Unlimited Treats

101 treats

When Cupcake Went for a Ride

car

Cupcake Looks Pretty

closet

Read to a Pet Night Starring Cupcake

pet night

Street Naps for Cupcake

street

Cupcake Turns Seven Years Old

birthday 7

That’s a week’s worth of ideas, right there! What’s the big deal? I wish November was named DogIdMo. I could totally do this!


11 Comments on Ideas, last added: 10/15/2013
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20. Attention Kidlitcon attendees! (And if you aren't registered for Kidlitcon yet, why not?)

So it's just a little over a week until Kidlitcon and I'm psyched! I'm looking forward to hanging out with the tribe and talking some good kidlit. Oh, and I'm leading a session! I'm going to be teaching some cool tricks for using HTML and CSS to enhance your blog posts! Don't worry - you don't need to be a techie to attend my session; in fact, I'm specifically planning this with the assumption that no one attending my session has ever used HTML (although if you have, you might still learn something!) I hope that everyone attending my session will leave with a sense of just how FUN this stuff can be!

BUT - if you're thinking about attending my session, I have HOMEWORK for you! "Whaaaaa?... I didn't know there was going to be homework," I hear you say. But this is going to be fun, help the cause of kidlit, and hopefully leave you with a great, shiny blog post you can show off.

Because this session is hands-on, you need to have a blog post to work on. Rather than just having you make up a nonsense post just for the class, I want you to have a real post to play with. The interview format will be perfect for what I have in mind, so I ask everyone who is thinking of attending my session to find an author (or another blogger) at Kidlitcon and do a short interview sometime before Breakout Session #4. It doesn't have to be a long interview; two or three questions will be sufficient. If you're going to the precon, that will probably be a perfect opportunity, but just try to do it (and type it up in draft) sometime before the session. If you know someone who will be attending, you could even do it remotely before the conference, but I want your subject to be another Kidlitcon attendee.

Also, if you will have one with you, please bring a tablet or laptop to the session! If you don't have one, you can still attend, but you won't be able to do the hands-on part. A phone might work, but I suspect it will be too difficult to do it on a phone, and I'm not sure the blog editors will let you work in source code on a phone.

If you're still on the fence about attending Kidlitcon, get yourself over to the site and register! The deadline to register is this Friday! You won't be sorry, I promise you. If you need more convincing, check out these posts from MotherReader, Jen Robinson, Kelly Jensen, and Leila Roy. Also see the schedule and partial list of attendees.

See you in Austin!  

0 Comments on Attention Kidlitcon attendees! (And if you aren't registered for Kidlitcon yet, why not?) as of 10/30/2013 3:08:00 PM
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21. GeoDog

Mom and I went geocaching again last week. Geocaching is like treasure hunting. Mom holds the phone that shows the GPS and compass. Then we walk and walk and walk and walk.

walking

Then she decides the phone is upside down, so she turns it around and we start over. We walk and walk and walk and walk some more – the other way.

walking 2

The phone tells her when we’re getting close, and then we start searching and scanning till we find the treasure.

in a tree

Sometimes, Mom says, “No acorns.”

acorns

and “Don’t eat the pine cone.”

pine cone

and “Yikes! Hornets!”

nest

Geocaching is fun!

geo green

Mom does treasure hunting when she wants to submit a story, too. She has too many stories to count inside her computer and some more inside her head (that’s what’s up in there…). She is sure that one of them is a treasure and will be Book #2. Whenever she reads about a publisher or an agent that seems to be looking for the type of story Mom writes, she starts treasure hunting. She opens up story after story, revises them a little, talks to herself about them, and decides whether she’s headed in the right direction, or needs to turn around and start over.

map


10 Comments on GeoDog, last added: 11/4/2013
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22. Switcheroo Day

photo2

This is how my toy box has looked for the past couple of months. This morning, Mom decided to switch out these toys for the bag of toys that was hidden in the closet.

photo4

She does that every now and then. So half of my toys are always out and ready for me and half are always hidden away. On Switcheroo Day, it feels like Mom went shopping and bought me a big bunch of new toys!

mess2

Yay! Hello, peppermint ball. I’ve missed you… Plus I forgot I ever even had you!

photo

Mom plays Switcheroo Day with her stories, too. She is working on two stories and a poem at the same time. She switches back and forth and back and forth between them each day. She says, “This one is flying along.” and “GAH! I only wrote 6 words in a half hour.” and “Who’s going to clean up this mess?”

photo3

The stories (if she ever finishes them) will be her November and December 12×12 stories. Neither story is about me. One is about pajamas and one is about a cyclops. Maybe the poem will be about my peppermint ball. In fact, I can write that poem myself….

typing2

….I want it to say, “Peppermint ball, peppermint ball,

You make my breath smell sweet.

I’ll toss you, chew you, roll you around,

And hold you with my feet.”

On second thought, I’ll leave the poetry writing to Mom….

sleepy


14 Comments on Switcheroo Day, last added: 11/13/2013
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23. Countdown Wednesday

Today, we’re counting down my latest awards.

dragon loyalty award

My friends at Dog Daz Zoo sent me the Dragon’s Loyalty Award. I won it once before right here.  Thanks, girls!

versatile-blogger-award-from-radmaverix-11-3-13

Nikitaland sent me the Versa-tail Blogger Award or something like that. Yay! Thanks. I have never had that one before. I think it means my tail is pretty, and not a freaky monkey-tail, like Mom says.

Whether you have a tail or not, feel free to add some bling to your blog and share either one of my awards.

Both awards want me to tell seven things about myself. I’m not much with the math, but I’ll try, and maybe I’ll even let Mom tell one or two things about herself, too.

Seven Things

1. I love sleeping under the covers on Mom’s bed.

cyclops

2. My birthday was in September. I’m seven.

bday

3. Sometimes, I try to hatch my toys like eggs.

hatching

4. When my feet touch sand, I run in circles like I am a deranged lunatic.

sand

5. One day, while Mom was driving to the VA, there was a devil in her rearview mirror.

devil mirror

6. I like lollipops.

lollipop

7. Mom read a book that had a dog named Cupcake in it. It wasn’t me.

daily coyote

92. Mom is falling behind in her reading challenge. She planned to read 200 picture books this year. She is not on target, but plans to catch up. We’ll see.

46. Speaking of falling behind, she also missed the month of June in the 12×12 challenge, so she’s hoping to do her June manuscript in December. We’ll see.

21. Mom promised to take me to the park today. I’m really tired from working at Read to a Pet Night at the library last night.

read to a pet

Being a good girl, listening to a story…

Plus it’s really cold outside. I’m not sure I want to go to the park. ….We’ll see….

cuddly jeans


10 Comments on Countdown Wednesday, last added: 11/21/2013
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24. Visiting

Last week, Mom did an author visit.

window2

It wasn’t the usual visit with little tiny kids or even one of the visits with medium sized kids. It was a COLLEGE author visit! Mom spoke to a class of future teachers who are learning about literacy. She was a little bit afraid that they’d beat her up and steal her lunch money, but they didn’t. They were so smart and super nice and were an absolutely wonderful audience.

book cover w border2

They asked lots of good questions. Actual questions! Nobody asked any of those random non-questions like, “Once my daddy grew a mustache.” or “My neighbor painted her house purple.” or “If my dog eats too fast he burps.” Mom had a ton of fun. Even though she was a little bit afraid, she was glad she said yes and didn’t miss this amazing opportunity.

I went on a visit last week, too. It was therapy pet day at the veteran’s home.

pal

I always feel a little bit afraid when I first get there. Sometimes, my tiny brain forgets what’s going to happen.

hand1

But then when I go in, everyone is super nice. They ask lots of good questions, just like the college students did. They say, “Who’s this little fellow?” (even though I’m a girl) and “Aren’t you cute?” and “Do you want to sit on my lap?” They’re a great audience, and nobody beat me up or stole my lunch money.

hand2

I did have an issue with a giant chef. Every time I come to the VA, I cuddle with all the patients, but I stay as far away from the giant chef as possible. I’m pretty sure he’s trying to kill me. And cook me. And eat me.

chef

*gulp*


10 Comments on Visiting, last added: 11/26/2013
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25. Visiting

Last week, Mom did an author visit.

window2

It wasn’t the usual visit with little tiny kids or even one of the visits with medium sized kids. It was a COLLEGE author visit! Mom spoke to a class of future teachers who are learning about literacy. She was a little bit afraid that they’d beat her up and steal her lunch money, but they didn’t. They were so smart and super nice and were an absolutely wonderful audience.

book cover w border2

They asked lots of good questions. Actual questions! Nobody asked any of those random non-questions like, “Once my daddy grew a mustache.” or “My neighbor painted her house purple.” or “If my dog eats too fast he burps.” Mom had a ton of fun. Even though she was a little bit afraid, she was glad she said yes and didn’t miss this amazing opportunity.

I went on a visit last week, too. It was therapy pet day at the veteran’s home.

pal

I always feel a little bit afraid when I first get there. Sometimes, my tiny brain forgets what’s going to happen.

hand1

But then when I go in, everyone is super nice. They ask lots of good questions, just like the college students did. They say, “Who’s this little fellow?” (even though I’m a girl) and “Aren’t you cute?” and “Do you want to sit on my lap?” They’re a great audience, and nobody beat me up or stole my lunch money.

hand2

I did have an issue with a giant chef. Every time I come to the VA, I cuddle with all the patients, but I stay as far away from the giant chef as possible. I’m pretty sure he’s trying to kill me. And cook me. And eat me.

chef

*gulp*


0 Comments on Visiting as of 11/26/2013 2:23:00 PM
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