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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Childrens fiction, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 63
1. 2015 Qld Literary Awards Winner: Meg McKinlay

I am thrilled that the news has now been released that Meg McKinlay’s A Single Stone (Walker Books Australia) has won the Griffiths University Children’s Book Award in the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards. I hope it becomes a contemporary classic.  Thanks for speaking to Boomerang Books Blog, Meg.               […]

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2. Gillian Mears and The Cat with the Coloured Tail

Gillian Mears is an Australian writer, recognised for her award-winning literary fiction such as Foal’s Bread, The Grass Sister, Collected Stories and The Mint Lawn. It is well known that she battles crippling multiple sclerosis. She has now transferred her finely wrought writing to children’s books, beginning with The Cat with the Coloured Tail (Walker […]

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3. Exciting new development of Diamond in The Ruff

Calling all literary agents who would like to work with a unique and exciting children's book series. Check out exciting new development of Diamond in The Ruff. 
Contact me if you would like to see a proof copy of the finished book.

0 Comments on Exciting new development of Diamond in The Ruff as of 9/6/2015 4:43:00 PM
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4. FREE Book Competition - Ruff Christmas

Less than a week to go to win the only signed copy of Ruff Christmas in time for Christmas.

Approved by 10 & 12 year olds. Ruff Christmas promises an exciting, funny and adventurous read.  It will make a great gift. So make sure you're in to win by clicking on the link below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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5. If you want to know the answer to Ruff Christmas?

This picture might give you a little clue about our bellatastically exciting sixth book, Ruff Christmas, or maybe it won't!

If you want to know the answer, then enter the FREE competition to win the only signed copy of Ruff Christmas.  The link is below.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

0 Comments on If you want to know the answer to Ruff Christmas? as of 11/27/2014 4:42:00 PM
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6. Ruff Life had a great reception at the CMC London Event

Hi Everyone

The CMC Event in London was great, and Ruff Life got some brilliant feedback and 'exceptional bellasome' ideas of how we can grow even bigger.

We have been asked to come up with a cartoon script that a large international TV company wants to look at.  Who knows what else will come up in the near future.  Keep checking to find out.

Don't forget the Goodreads FREE book competition where you can win the signed copy of Diamond in the Ruff. There aren't many days left for it to run.  So enter now before it's too late!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diamond In The Ruff by B.R. Tracey

Diamond In The Ruff

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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7. A First for Ruff Life at CMC Event in London

We are so excited because we at Ruff Life will be attending our first Children's Media event in London tomorrow.  It will be great because  we can get some ideas of how we can grow bigger, so that you can see us in movies - that would be so 'BELLASOME'.

We have to leave at silly o'clock to get there, so this is it for the blog today.

Don't forget to enter for the Diamond in the Ruff FREE book competition. Here's the link.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diamond In The Ruff by B.R. Tracey

Diamond In The Ruff

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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8. Don't Forget Diamond In The Ruff - Time's Running Out

I know yesterday we were talking about the work that's left to do on the 6th book from the Ruff Life series, Ruff Christmas before it's launch at the end of next week.

Today I'd like to remind you that the clock is ticking on the FREE competition to win the signed copy of the 2nd book in our ground breaking, funny, spy action Ruff Life book series Diamond In The Ruff.  The link is below for you to enter.

It will make a great Christmas gift.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Diamond In The Ruff by B.R. Tracey

Diamond In The Ruff

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends November 18, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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9. Chrissie Michaels – breathing life into history

It was while researching the French explorer Nicolas Baudin that Australian children’s author, Chrissie Michaels came across one of those gems that every writer loves to find. It was the story of a young convict girl, who was transported to New South Wales for theft and ended up as a passenger on Baudin’s ship as […]

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10. There's Still Time To Enter the Free it's A Ruff Life Competition!

It's not worth beating around the bush.  It's A Ruff Life's Free Book competition with Goodreads will be closing in 2 Days. - If you hurry you still have time to enter to win the signed copy of It's A Ruff Life.  Below is the Link.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

It's a Ruff Life by B.R. Tracey

It's a Ruff Life

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends October 25, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

0 Comments on There's Still Time To Enter the Free it's A Ruff Life Competition! as of 10/22/2014 6:00:00 PM
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11. Ruff Life Series Goodreads Giveaways


Make sure that you take advantage of entering the 'giveaway competition at Goodreads'.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Goodreads Book Giveaway

It's a Ruff Life by B.R. Tracey

It's a Ruff Life

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends October 25, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

0 Comments on Ruff Life Series Goodreads Giveaways as of 9/20/2014 7:04:00 PM
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12. Enter to Win for Christmas


Goodreads Book Giveaway

It's a Ruff Life by B.R. Tracey

It's a Ruff Life

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends October 25, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Release date November 5th

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ruff Christmas by B.R. Tracey

Ruff Christmas

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends December 09, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

0 Comments on Enter to Win for Christmas as of 9/19/2014 3:40:00 PM
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13. Ruff life - 3 books on Amazon

Is that exciting or what!

You can now read three of our amazing stories ebook or paperback.  Just visit Amazon to get them.

Here's the first link    http://amzn.to/WZDLxt


Here's the bellasome new paperback version

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14. How do we judge quality in children's books?

By Cecilia Busby

There are a couple of things recently that have made me think about how we judge quality in children's books. One was the rather interesting discussion about kids reading 'trash', started by Clementine Beauvais on ABBA and continued in other places for a few weeks afterwards. The other is my decision this year to try to read all the Carnegie shortlisted books. Both have made me think about how we judge what is good in children's literature.

The Carnegie Book Prize is probably the best known and most prestigious prize awarded to children’s books in the UK – it’s effectively the Booker for children. It generates a great deal of interest, a lot of attention for the shortlist of nominated books, and it’s a brilliant show-piece for the best in children’s writing.
A couple of years ago, my son’s school, like many across the country, took part in a Carnegie shadowing event – children at the school read the shortlisted books and then met to discuss and vote for their own favourites. It was the occasion of his most epic reading challenge ever: with only a week to go before the vote, he read the entire Chaos Walking trilogy, as he didn’t want to just read Monsters of Men on its own.

This year, I thought I’d do a little Carnegie shadowing of my own, wondering if it would be worth doing something similar with the primary school where I am Patron of Reading.  Normally, Carnegie shadowing is done by secondary schools, and when I looked at the shortlist, I realised why. I was struck by just how dark the themes were, and how many of the books were for older readers. Of the eight books, three are designated 14+, four 11+ and only one 9+. Only one of these books, then, sits firmly in the classic 9–12 age range. The others are aimed at secondary school readers: either 11–14, or 14–17. In the descriptions, the words that caught my eye were ‘trauma victim’, ‘difficult’ or ‘bleak’ circumstances, ‘a brave book that pulls no punches’, ‘unimaginable terror’, ‘shocking brutality of war’, ‘abusive, alcoholic partner’, ‘dysfunctional family dynamics’, ‘brutal act of cruelty’, ‘political tension’, and ‘family conflicts’. Only two of the books, Katherine Rundell’s Rooftoppers and Rebecca Stead’s Liar and Spy (the 9–12 book), appear to have a more light-hearted element.

Maybe this is just about the periodic shifts in what is ‘of the moment’ in children’s literature, or maybe just coincidentally the best of the books published this year have tended towards an older age range and a dark strand of realism. But the shortlist chimed for me with a growing sense that children’s book prizes, like children’s book reviews, tend to favour the more ‘literary’ end of writing, and particularly the older, more adult books. Is this because their quality, as children's literature, is better? Curious, I went to find the criteria for the Carnegie nominations, to see what these judgements were based on.

The criteria are here, and they make interesting reading. There is no mention of the world ‘children’ anywhere, except in terms of eligibility: nominations must be for children’s books. In the main criteria, it is emphasised that the book should be ‘of outstanding literary quality’, and the specifications for this relate to plot, character, and literary style. The list could just as easily be applied to an adult novel.

Children’s writers, even those for young children, use and display fantastic skills in plot, character and style – but it’s important, I think, to specify that these are being assessed in relation to child readers. Because the skill to engage a child reader may involve certain linguistic tricks, certain exaggerations of character, certain simplifications of plot, that would not necessarily work in a novel for older readers or adults, and that can, at first glance, seem less, well, less ‘literary’. Not always, of course, and indeed, one of the younger age-range books on the Carnegie shortlist, Rooftoppers, is full of astonishingly inventive imagery. But is this what makes it a great children's book?

If we make 'literary' writing the main criteria for judging quality then in effect we are judging children's books in the same way we judge adult books. This seems reasonable for the older teenage books: a literate fourteen year old is, in essence, an adult reader. Their interests, in terms of subject matter, may be different, but their ‘reading’ skills are sufficient for the deployment of the full range of adult literary styles and tricks of plotting and language.

The Carnegie judges are skilled and established children’s librarians, so it’s likely that the panel do consider these elements in relation to the age of the reader. But I wonder if the often dazzling language effects and narrative innovations that writers for older teens can utilise inevitably appear to fulfil Carnegie criteria to a higher degree than the simpler (though no less well-judged) effects used by writers for the younger age range. I wonder if the more hard-hitting and controversial subject matter that can be delved into in a teen book inevitably makes the lighter touch needed for young readers appear to be lacking in intensity by comparison. Looking at the last ten to fifteen years of the Carnegie would seem to confirm that it’s the teen books and ‘difficult’ subjects that predominate, with only a couple of winners that would not be considered YA.

I have no objection to the Carnegie celebrating the best that older teen fiction has to offer, and such books can be reasonably judged on adult literary criteria. But what if we want to celebrate the best in classic childrens books, the 9–12 (middle-grade) books? This, after all, is the age when children most fully engage with books, the age when they love them with an intensity I don’t think you ever truly find again. Books that spark that kind of love deserve to be lauded. Maybe it's time for two Carnegie Prizes - for young adult and for children's books.

If we want to celebrate these books for younger readers, though, do we need different criteria? Should we acknowledge that they simply can’t be judged by (or only by) standard ‘literary’ criteria, that these don’t fit with the way children (as opposed to teenagers) read books? Perhaps so, but then  how do we judge them? That's a trickier matter. Drawing on my own experience of the books I fell in love with as a child, I would like to suggest some criteria for judging quality in children's fiction.

1. Is a child who reads this book likely to put it down with a sigh at the end and say, “That’s the best book I ever read’?

2. Would a child who read this book want to immediately read the next book in the series, or make a note of the author and find everything they’ve ever written?

3. Is the book likely to make its child readers laugh out loud, and/or cry, without it necessarily being a wholly ‘funny’ or wholly ‘sad’ book? (Both require skill and judgement, although personally I think making them laugh is harder. But both show that the reader’s emotions are fully engaged.)

4. Is a child reader likely to be so absorbed by the story in this book so that by the end they don’t want to eat, sleep or engage with the outside world until they’ve finished it and found out what happens?

5. Are there characters in the book that will be so fiercely loved by many of the children that read it that they would give anything to walk around the corner and find them walking the other way?

6. Are these characters and the world they live in so loved by the child reader that they are likely to feel bereft when the book is over, and more than half inclined to read the whole book again from the beginning, just to keep those characters alive a little longer in their heads?

Of course, these criteria are subjective. They also rely on an adult making judgements based on their own memory of being a child reader, based on talking to children, based on their experience of children's likes and dislikes. But all judgments (including literary ones) are subjective - and these are at least very different questions to ask of a book than ones about the deployment of style, narrative, characterisation and language (although all these things contribute to the end effects I’m talking about). They are first and foremost questions about the heart and soul of the book, and its effect on child (not adult) readers.

Perhaps, if these had been the criteria over the last decade, the Carnegie winners would still have been the same books. Perhaps it doesn’t make a difference. What do you think? I am certain that the Carnegie winners over the last years have been great books. I am less certain about whether they have been great children’s books.

Cecilia Busby writes fantasy adventures for 7+ as C.J. Busby. Her new book, DEEP AMBER, is aimed at age 8-10, published with Templar.
Website www.cjbusby.co.uk
Twitter @ceciliabusby

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15. Why children’s books are the opposite of tragedies - C.J. Busby

I was thinking the other day about how, in so many children’s books, the hero finds they have hidden powers. I think it’s one of the aspects of children’s books I love the most, and loved especially as a child myself – the sense that, however ordinary you felt you were, there might be this magical ability hidden inside you, or some unexpected aspect of your character, just waiting for the right opportunity, the right trigger, to reveal itself. 

In one of my favourite books as a child, Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones, Cat Chant discovers, after many trials and mix-ups, that he’s an enchanter – from being a child who could do absolutely no magic, he becomes one who can make almost anything happen by just telling it to. In Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising, Will discovers he’s an Old One, and learns to use his new powers to fight the Dark. And Harry Potter, ordinary downtrodden child, finds he is really a wizard, and a very special one at that. 

But in more mundane ways, many children’s books chart the ways their protagonists learn to draw on hidden strengths or find reserves of bravery, intelligence, compassion, understanding, or determination to overcome obstacles and win through in difficult or challenging circumstances. 
In The Lord of the Rings, for example, it is the 'children' of the book, the hobbits, who really save Middle Earth - and they do so by finding in themselves the sort of courage, grit, compassion, confidence and ability to survive that they'd never have dreamed of in sleepy Hobbiton. The change in them is made gloriously manifest in their final return to the Shire and the battle with Sharkey.

In essence, these sorts of stories tell their readers – you can be amazing! It’s a great message for children – indeed, for any reader. It says, nothing about you is fixed, you don’t have to accept that you are only ever going to be this person or that person. Round the corner, an adventure might be waiting that will draw out of you all sorts of things – that will change you into a kind of hero, with new and unexpected powers. No matter that you are not top of the class, or ‘gifted and talented’, no matter that you think of yourself as ‘ordinary’ – there’s always hope.

This kind of transformative possibility in children’s books seems to me to be the very opposite of tragedy. In tragedies, most often, it’s the inherent flaws in the protagonist’s character that lead to the inevitable tragic outcome. Hamlet’s total introspection, his inability to stop dithering; Othello’s insane jealousy; Coriolanus’s pride; or in the classic Greek tragedies, the hero’s hubris, or their rigidity, or the inevitable repercussions of one terrible action. There’s a feeling of watching a slow motion train crash – nothing stops the slide towards mutual destruction because none of the characters are capable of changing who they are. When I was in my twenties, life sometimes felt exactly like this, and when it did, my best friend and I used to wail: ‘Aargh - I’m in an Iris Murdoch novel!’

In much adult literature events unfold in this way – the characters, like Martin Luther, ‘can do no other’, they react to each other and to events in ways that drive the plot forward, and it’s not very often that one of them finds a hidden power that solves the tangle they’ve all got themselves into. For me, then, tragedy is a quintessentially grown-up (‘literary’) form of literature, about people working through the consequences of who they are, who they have become. But children are always becoming, and so children’s literature seems to me in its purest form the very opposite of tragedy – characterised not by comedy, but a kind of positive hopefulness, an expectation of finding some new, positive aspect of yourself which explodes into the plot and turns it on its head.

This seems especially important to me now, when schools – even primary – are riddled with exams and tests and gradings: children, according to Ofsted good practice, should know exactly what National Curriculum Level they are (a 3a, or a 4b) and why they aren’t yet at the next level up. There is only one path allowed: three points of progress in academic work per school year. Ofsted is not interested in whether you might, in the meantime, have fought dragons, or learnt to conjure a whirlwind.

As with all generalisations, I’m sure people will find exceptions and caveats, and I don’t at all mean to be prescriptive. It’s not that I think all children’s books must conform to this model – but for me, the ‘ideal type’, if you like, of a children’s book, is that it has this sort of transformative hope at its centre. And the ideal anti-type is the tragedy.

C.J. Busby writes funny, fast paced fantasy for primary age children.

Her latest book, Deep Amber, is a multiple worlds adventure for 8-12, published March 2014 by Templar.

'This is an adventure... here are runes and swords and incredibly stupid knights in armour – enjoy!' (ABBA Reviews: Read the rest of the review here).

Website: www.cjbusby.co.uk

Twitter: @ceciliabusby

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16. Alleycat has a word

Listen up, Human!Alleycat had a little word with me yesterday. He’d heard me talking and he knew I was contemplating writing a post that has nothing at all to do with cats.

“You know that’s not possible,” he drawled, “I can’t allow that, not in my blog.”

“I quite understand, Alleycat,” I said, deferentially. “Why don’t I start a new blog and then I can write about other things in that blog and carry on documenting the Ginge Club’s adventures here?”

“You mean you’d write about non-Ginge Club matters?” Alleycat was surprised; he obviously found the concept far-fetched and in rather bad taste; he wrinkled his eyes in disgust and curled his lip scornfully. “Surely you can’t be serious, old chap?”

I affirmed that I really was determined to depart from the norm and write about new things, and when he heard this Alleycat had a little smile at my expense. He narrowed his eyes and advised me to watch my step.

“I want you to make absolutely sure that the two blogs don’t overlap,” he said. “If you can promise me that I may give you my permission to divide your energies, but mark my words, I don’t want you slacking and the Ginge Club posts must always take precedence. I won’t tolerate anything less.”

Alleycat had made his humble wishes known and I had listened very carefully and obediently to his wise words. At least, that’s what I made him think.Very amused Later on we gave Pink the news, and she was really agitated and uncertain for about ten seconds and she wondered where it would all lead. With any luck it’ll lead you here.I'm worried, really worried!

3 Comments on Alleycat has a word, last added: 4/7/2014
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17. Play It's A Ruff Life Spy Animal Game

I know I'm a top class MI6 canine agent but there has been many animals in both books and films that have been spies.  Can you think of any?  If so then click play the spy animal game to join in the fun at Goodreads. I think there must be 100; let's see if I'm right.


0 Comments on Play It's A Ruff Life Spy Animal Game as of 3/26/2014 2:13:00 AM
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18. Recipe for Disaster - Ruff Life Style

The Doglet Academy introduced a new class this term.  It certainly wasn't my idea of a fun class.  I mean what famous doglet needs to learn how to cook?  I have a chef for that called Seamus.

This class was worth a lot of credits and it was an easy way to give me top marks for the end of the year.  And you know me, there's no way that I will come in 2nd best at anything. So I enrolled in the class.  I now wish I hadn't.  I'd have been far better off taking a Spanish or French class, or at least my beautiful paw nails would have been; participation in that class made them all soft.

The first thing the teacher said was that I had to get rid of the painted nails, as if...  So I used a pair of latex gloves.  Have you ever tried to work with latex gloves over your paws?  It's a recipe for disaster; the extra fingers flap around and get caught up in everything.

We made pastry but I kept getting my gloves caught under the rolling pin.  Eventually I put the pasty in a pie tin and filled it with some nice looking meat.  It looked great when it was finished.  Even the teacher said how nice and well presented it was. Of course, I made it, how else was it going to look with my natural style of flair?  I couldn't wait to take it home and gloat at Max as to how much better I was than him .  In fact I was going to eat some of it in front of him while he sat salivating.

When I got home I put my plan into action.  I went to find Max.  "Hey I've got something to show you."  I took a bite out of the pie.  The meat was nice but the pastry was hard. "This is really delicious." I then found a chewy bit, which seemed to take for ever to chew. Oh no, I thought when I realised that I had just eaten some of the latex gloves.  "Would you like some?  I made if for you."
"Thanks, what's wrong with it?"
"Nothing, I was just sampling it to show you how delicious it is." I said as I waked away.

0 Comments on Recipe for Disaster - Ruff Life Style as of 3/9/2014 7:40:00 PM
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19. The Ginge Club and the Pirates

Professor PinkPink’s been nagging me to publish an account of her adventures with the pirates, and because she’s a persistent little brute, I’ve decided that the only way to silence her is to let her have her own way.   I’ve agreed to write down the whole particulars, leaving nothing out except the whereabouts of Alleycat’s treasure cave, and that only because there is still treasure not yet brought to light. In the end she’ll probably force me to finish the story and publish it here in its entirely. She’s offered to dictate it to me chapter by chapter as the weeks go by and here, to get the ball rolling, is a link to the first 3 instalments.

The pirate (Barty Sharp) who figures in chapter 3 sailed with William Dampier and had a rather interesting career.  In something like 1697 (I forget the exact date) he returned from the sack of Panama and was arrested at the request of the Spanish Ambassador, put on trial, and escaped hanging by a hairs-breadth.  Having cheated the gallows, he purchased a derelict hulk that had been virtually abandoned on the shores of the Thames, fitted her out and hired a rag tag crew of scallywags and ne’er do wells, who sailed their rotten vessel into the channel, stole a flock of sheep from a farm in Dover and straightaway sailed for the West Indies, capturing a more suitable vessel en route.  It was probably around this time that he crossed swords with Susan Skew and met his match, so to speak. All this is supplied from memory. I read an account of Sharp’s adventures years ago in the Hakluyt series, but I haven’t checked the details in ages. There’s more about him in Basil Ringrose’s South Sea Waggoner, which you can find quite easily on the Web, and a few reference in Lionel Wafer Secret report, but most of the rest of the information you’ll find is quite inaccurate and if you want the truth the best thing would be to ask Pink.  She probably knows as much about him as anyone in these days.

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20. The reptile

Pink's shadowIt’s ages since we posted (sorry) but we’ve had a bit of trouble with Pink. First off, she started pulling out her fur and we couldn’t stop it happening.  She was nearly bald in the end.  Then she stopped eating and we couldn’t make her start again. Alleycat and Bamber were worried, but there was nothing they could do and they expected us humans to put everything right.  Pink was so low she wouldn’t let us take her photo, but she agreed once that we could photograph her shadow (it’s up there at the top). Little by little she got better.  We brought her heaters, but that was no good, we purchased costly blankets, and she rejected them all, the fleeces, the silks, and even the mousseline. Then, one way or another, she gave us to understand that she required flowers, soft, scented flowers, so flowers were purchased, and after the flowers we had to supply her with golden saucers of full fat milk every other hour.  Pink yawnsLittle by little she started to improve, but her hair didn’t grow back until we sourced (at her explicit request) a reptile lamp, the sort of thing that snakes and other sorts of cold blooded critters love to bask beneath.  Once we’d provided her with all these things; the flowers, the full fat milk in endless supply and the reptile lamp she started to improve and now, I’m happy to report, she’s totally recovered.Sitting pretty

2 Comments on The reptile, last added: 3/2/2014
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21. The spirit of the lamp

It's nice and hot here The sun lampPink’s playing up. She’s wants to dictate more of her adventures, but I haven’t had time to write them down and she feels I’m slacking.  That’s rich coming from her, the laziest cat in the Five Streets. Anyway, she’s ordered me to stick in and press on regardless of other commitments.  I’ve told her it’s Christmas and I might have to break off and drink some mulled wine or eat some strong cheese, but she’s impatient with that sort of thing and simply won’t tolerate it. This morning when I got up she was waiting for me on the kitchen table with her head in the angle-poise lamp.  She thinks that if she sits there she’ll have a bright idea.  It’s as if the lamp’s lighting up her brain as well as lighting my table, and Pink’s such a strong-minded little cat that she can probably make the light do anything she wants, including inspire her, just as she can require me to write when I ought to be eating Christmas cake. Maybe she’s right, because while she was boiling her brains and egging me on to listen to her, I managed to get another chapter done in draft  and here it is.It's nice and hot here

2 Comments on The spirit of the lamp, last added: 12/22/2013
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22. SittieCates

SittieCates has been writing for more than ten years. She has covered topics about health, travel, recipes, writing, family, children and many more.  The author of Sleepyhead? NOT!, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry and Prose and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You,  she is currently working as a freelance writer.

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Cates.

Cates photo2SittieCates: SittieCates is my virtual pseudonym. My real name is Jacqueline, which I mostly prefer my family, old friends and relatives to use. Most of my friends call me Cates. Online, a lot of people call me Sittie. I prefer having my pseudonym, “SittieCates”, written without a space to denote oneness or balance.

I have worked for traditional publishing firms as a Writer and Editor. I also taught English to Filipinos at a local school. I’ve handled students from Grades 3 up to 4th year High School. I was the Guidance Counselor and the Head of the English Department. Aside from those jobs I had at that school, I was also the adviser for the school publication and was in charge of the Theatre Guild.

After a few years, I became an ESL teacher for Koreans. Then, I had an offer at another publishing firm so I went back to writing and editing.

In between those full-time jobs, I tried to squeeze in time to engage in writing the stories that I love; not the articles that I usually spin at work. I’ve managed to publish a poem, a few short stories for kids and some articles in other local magazines published by other publishing firms. While my aim was to write about topics I really love in snippets of time available, I have to admit that there were lots of times when I was too tired to engage in that because of my hectic work schedules. You see, whenever I came home, all I wanted to do was collapse on my bed and pray that I would have a restful sleep so I could function well the next day.

When did the writing bug bite?

SittieCates: I’ve always wanted to write. My parents and siblings would scold me because I would write everywhere. They particularly hated it when I would write on the walls. It looked really messy, but all those scribbles were, in a way, special, because they held dozens of stories only I could understand.

I wrote my very first “nearly legible and more understandable” story when I was in kindergarten. It was part of an assignment. There was a blank page for that in the book, and we were tasked to write a story. We were encouraged to draw the characters, too.

So, I peppered the page with stick figures, the only drawings I could muster. J And I wrote a very, very short story about three girls who always wanted to sing. And when I say short, I really mean short because I only used a few sentences. The title was written as one word; it included all three names of the little girls in the story.

What particular genre/s do you prefer?

SittieCates: For the genre, I seem to gravitate more towards children’s stories. I published two ebooks for kids. One is Sleepyhead? NOT! and the other is Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. I have a third one that’s already with my illustrator. It’s about learning colors. It’s perfect for kids aged 3 to 5, but younger and older ones up to 8 would also love it.

I also love poetry. I’ve compiled a few of my poems and published them together with some essays in my ebook, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose. The ebook is inspirational and autobiographical. If you read it, you’ll get to know a few things about me. I’ve created an ebook trailer for this at: http://youtu.be/31TfRehsfSU. One of my favorite poetry lines that I’ve written in the ebook includes this one: “In the evenings when the wind speaks softly in my ear… When the stars give out a shine so enchantingly clear… When the soft beams of moonlight leave a trail of shadows in sight… I listen to the sweet, melodious sound of your voice at night.”

What other genre/s are you interested in venturing in?

SittieCates: I have a novel. Currently, I’m polishing that one. It’s my first novel and it’s a romance story, but there’s a little bit of twist there. J I’ll just announce that when it’s ready.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

SittieCates: That’s a good question, Shelagh. When I started writing, just like most authors, I wanted to share my works with a lot of readers. I wanted my works to be read and, hopefully, bring something helpful, amusing or inspiring to the readers – whether the story is for kids or for grown-ups. I truly wanted to give my readers that experience. Even though they may not always have a smile on their faces after reading what I’ve written, I wanted them to feel satisfied or complete, with nary a nagging and confusing thought bothering them afterwards when they close the book.

Could you tell us more about your current book bundle promo for kids?

SittieCates: I’d love to, Shelagh!

The Sittie Case Book Bundle_SittieCates As I’ve mentioned earlier, I have published two ebooks for kids that are up at Amazon (at http://amzn.to/1dTolwE) and other retailers, priced and sold individually. These two are included in a book bundle at http://flipreads.com/sittie-bundle. The bundle, Sittie CASE, is offered at a very, very low price until January 31, 2014 only.

To give interested readers an idea of the children’s stories included in the bundle, here are the descriptions for both:

Sleepyhead? NOT!

Mabel Robbins is a bright, sweet and cheerful kid who likes to play make-believe. She faces no trouble during the day. But when nighttime comes, her problem begins. She couldn’t sleep easily like the rest of her family.

Thinking that she is different, she seeks help to correct her sleeping problem.

But nothing seems to go right!

Will Mabel Robbins be able to find the “right” way to sleep easily? Find out now at Sleepyhead? NOT!

Sleepyhead? NOT! children’s ebook trailer can be seen at YouTube.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You

When Kaitlyn Zamorra learned to write letters to God from her parents, she started telling Him everything: the things that she likes and what she considers to be “no fun” at all. She also told God about a precious gift that was lots of fun.

But then, something happened. Her source of happiness seemed like it was going to be taken away from her.

Will she be able to save something that gave her lots of happiness? Or will Kaitlyn soon realize what’s truly “lots of fun”?

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You Children’s ebook trailer is at YouTube.

While the denomination there is in Philippine Pesos, interested buyers can avail of it in dollars by choosing Paypal as a mode of payment. I would suggest that readers check the FAQ at the site to know more about the file reading formats before they purchase and download the bundle.

Since it’s my first time to have a book bundle, I thought of celebrating it while the promo was running. So, I created a worldwide event on Google Plus. But not everyone could join. So, I transferred the event to Facebook, invited some friends and encouraged them to invite others. The Facebook party, which I named, The Sittie CASE Book Bundle Party has already started, and would end by January 31. Others can still join the event if they like, provided that they do so before the last day of January.

How do you develop characters?

SittieCates: I’m a people watcher. I observe people of different ages, professions, etc. I’ve been doing that since I was like 6 or 7 years old. It was just like a game before.

People may think I’m naturally talkative. But I’m only like that online. In person, I’m often what you may refer to as “unusually quiet”, especially when there are so many people around. It’s not that I’m a snob, but I merely prefer to observe people and things around me. That is if my nose isn’t buried in a book.

Often, I listen to how people talk. I take note of how they carry themselves, what clothes they prefer to wear, their mannerisms and other things. I also try to feel the underlying messages that their statements try not to reveal because, as I’ve observed, there are some who would tell you one thing but mean another thing, and I could somehow feel and notice that even if they try really hard to keep that to themselves.

It’s amusing to observe people because I feel that by doing this, I would be able to create the possible lead characters and antagonists of the story, sort of like getting inside their heads and seeing how they think. In real life, I try to capture all that. I try to incorporate these things in my stories so it would adopt a “real” atmosphere, especially in my upcoming novel. (Other character sketches I’ve had are kept in a notebook and I’ll be using those next time.)

What about the setting?

SittieCates: When I created the story setting for my upcoming romance novel, Bookworm, I had to struggle for awhile. I was trying to decide if a serious mood would be best or not. With regards to where and what time the story would take place, I chose what I knew, what I was familiar with, and injected that in the novel. Hopefully, the readers would love it.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

SittieCates: For most of the articles I’ve written, I would say that I’d go for the first-person POV.

But with stories, I try to experiment. I used both the first-person and third-person POV for my stories for kids. Sleepyhead? Not! was written using the third-person POV while Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You used the first person.

However, for my upcoming novel, things are totally different. It’s not going to use any of the POVs normally used in writing novels. I wanted to try something else. So, I decided to use a different approach, which you’ll all see when my novel will be published. And I sincerely hope you would all wait for that.

How does your environment or immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues color your writing?

SittieCates: I find that a part of me seems to come out – regardless of whatever I create (poems, songs, articles, stories, etc.). It may be about the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had or the experiences that I knew someone had.

Sometimes, I find that helpful. Other times, no, because when I’m faced with a certain character, and I see that character as someone I know, it wouldn’t help the tale at all, especially if something happens in the story. What I mean is that being the real person that that character is, when he or she is faced with a dilemma, obviously, he or she would do the same thing that his or her character’s “real” counterpart would do. When that happens, all creative juices would be blocked, and that wouldn’t contribute well to the story because I wouldn’t know what else to write. As you can see, for me, when that story character thinks, feels and behaves like the real-life counterpart, that’s the end of the story. You can’t move past that because you would say that the real person wouldn’t behave, feel or think as such. So, there’s no more ideas coming in. You’re blocked! I’ve encountered that when I was writing the first few drafts of Bookworm. It was really hard to move beyond that. So, I changed the story a bit, and tried to see a story character as not being totally similar to a real-life counterpart.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve had.

13th_Breath_Book_Cover_1563x2500SittieCates: Delighted to do so, Shelagh! Some of the links for the book reviews I’ve received for 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose” and “Sleepyhead? NOT! are at the tab marked as “Book Reviews Written by Others for My Works” at my two blogs.

I also loved this one that was posted on a retail site. It was for one of my ebooks for kids, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. It reads:

“A wonderful and delightful story, adorably illustrated, about a little girl’s faith and innocence as she starts understanding about change and learning to love her baby brother. Well done! Five stars all the way (the stars seem to be missing on this review). My child loved it, too!” ~ Patrick Heffernan, Author of Greywalker, a novel

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

SittieCates: People can follow me in a number of ways:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SittieCates

My Blogs: http://www.myownwritersnook.blogspot.com and http://www.sittiecateslovestories.blogspot.com

Facebook Pages: https://www.facebook.com/TheMusingsofaHopefulPecuniousWordsmith and https://www.facebook.com/SittieCatesLovesStories

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/114470887211929135419

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7415659.SittieCates.

Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/sittiecates

Thank you for joining us today, Cates.

SittieCates: Thank you so much, Shelagh! I really enjoyed the interview. All the best to you and your site! And happy holidays to everyone! J

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23. The great dictator

Looking down her noseIt’s been a while since I blogged, but I’ve been hard at work on a story that Pink told me while I was sleeping.  She crept up close while I was dozing in the armchair and whispered in my ear and said I’d better get on and write up some of her better adventures, not the latest ones, but the ones she had when she was younger.  Pink isn’t altogether stupid.  Mostly she just pretends to be silly because it means she can avoid difficult and lengthy tasks by claiming they’re beyond her.  But she’s clever really and she knows stuff.  She was quite right about the story.  I’d been letting things slide and it was high time I got to work.  Here’s a link to what she dictated.  While I was writing it Pink perched somewhat cheekily on the back of my office chair and watched what I was typing, in case I got anything wrong, and if there was anything she didn’t approve of she chirruped a warning and told me to blot.Pink makes a friend

2 Comments on The great dictator, last added: 12/19/2013
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24. The brains of the outfit

Who's kidding whoWe hear tell of cats who went on adventures  and travelled far and wide, or cats who bravely opposed injustice and fought for freedom, but in general cats have little truck with that sort of thing.  Now and then Alleycat and Bamber go out into the world and show themselves to the neighbourhood, but Pink never goes out at all, and that’s why I  think she may be the brains of the outfit.  None of the rival cat families ever come into Alleycat’s garden, because if they did Bamber would be straight out of the cat-flap to engage them in heated discussion, and if Bamber failed to impress them Alleycat would plod out and ascend to the top of the highest fence post and stare at them. The sentinelThat usually does the trick.   Pink on the other paw stays indoors all day and all night, profiting from the other cat’s exertions.  In the cold weather she has prime spot in front of the hearth and she’s allowed to sleep wherever she likes without being disturbed.  She can even walk over the heads of the dogs on her bony little feet and they know quite well that they’re not to complain.  Pink, for all her pretty ways and her silly habits,  may, in truth, be the most Machiavellian and formidable cat of all and easily the cleverest warm-blooded creature living on Nine Foot Way.  And that’s a frightening as well as an amusing thought.The brains of the outfit

2 Comments on The brains of the outfit, last added: 12/8/2013
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25. Alleycat’s sage advice

Pink encircledAlleycat went missing and there was no sign of him for a day and half. He didn’t show up until yesterday morning.  No one knew where he’d gone to and when he came back (he always comes back) he looked fitter and stronger than he’s been for years. Obviously he’d been invisible, and whilst invisible he’d seen the solution to the problem of the bears.  The bears must have sensed that their reign of terror  was coming to a close, because they all came out and encircled Pink and surrounded her in a little bear-army on top of the kitchen table.  Pink telling off the head bearThen Alleycat whispered something in Pink’s ear, and a moment later all the bears were flat on their backs and Pink was in control.  Pink in controlAlleycat let her have all the glory, but I’m sure she wouldn’t have been able to overthrow the bears without his sage advice.Pink and Alleycat

2 Comments on Alleycat’s sage advice, last added: 11/18/2013
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