Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Interview With Illustrator Rosemarie Gillen

As you all know I normally interview children’s authors, but today I am expanding my blog to include the fabulous illustrator Rosemarie Gillen. Thank you for joining us, Rosemarie.

How did you become interested in the world of illustrations?

I have always loved to paint and draw since I was very young. I remember I would go to a friend’s house and play and their mom would set up watercolor paint with very special paper, watercolor paper which made the whole experience feel like I was a real artist. This made an impression on me and starting me thinking about the possibility of one day becoming an artist.
In the 90’s I remember falling in love with a Van Gogh and I imagined myself painting it. So I went and brought supplies and started painting to satisfy my curiosity and much to my surprise I was able to copy the great masters. I continued to fill the walls of my home with reproductions of Great Masters and I enjoyed it as a hobby until one day I saw an ad on Craigslist adversting for artists for children books which led me to children’s illustrating.

Do you come from a background of artists or creative people?

My mom could draw very well. I think that the ability to draw can be inherited but also learned also.

What types of illustrations do you commonly work on?

I work mainly on picture book illustrations but have also created e-books, chapter books, covers, and promotional materials.

Did you find it difficult to break into the book illustrations business?

Yes, it was extremely difficult to get published. You are not considered published until you have been published with a traditional magazine or publisher.

What do you like to do in your spare time when not illustrating?

I play the piano and paint reproductions of Great Masters. And I relive my childhood through my son. I get my physical activity by playing outside with my son and his friends. We sled down our hill in our back yard in the winter, play basket ball, ride bikes, fly kites and have Nerf wars.

Do you have any advice for young artists?

It is all about hard work and attitude; it is not a get rich quick scheme. It is not something that is accomplished quickly. Be prepared for years of hard work and do everything you can to stay true to yourself. Be unique. Find other illustrators that are willing to mentor you to help you through the difficult job of learning this business and all that it entails. Never try to go it alone.

What do you think is the most rewarding thing about illustrating?

I love the freedom to make your own hours, the ability to make your own deadlines, being home with your child, and creating success for yourself.
Creating art is relaxing it the best part of who you are it gives you the freedom to express yourself. It gives you the ability to touch other people hearts through your work.

Do you have a web site with examples of your work that we might see?

Yes, I have a web site which is located at where you can view samples of my color illustrations, black and whites, covers, educational material, and information on how to contact me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 10 Things New Authors Should Be Doing

1. Write Stellar Material.
Lets face it, everyone has a story to tell but only those stories that are of the highest quality will sell well. This means you must pay careful attention to spelling, typos, grammar, punctuation, details, etc...

2. Get A Critique.
Having your family, neighbors, or friends proof reading your material is all well and good; but having a professional critiquing your work can make all the difference in the world. A professional will not shy away from telling you facts that might hurt your feelings. This is not because they don't care, but instead because they do care. A professional will tell you where your story is weak and what you need to do to polish up your material. And you can bet your bottom dollar that a publisher is going to be more attracted to a well written, well polished manuscript!

3. Be Determined and Persistent.
An author has to have a thick skin and the will to carry on because lets face it, with roughly 800,000 new books per year being released the competition is stiff. With competition like that, you are bound to hear no frequently. Don't think of "no" as a negative but instead think of it in the respect that you just haven't spoken to the correct person yet. This is your dream, don't let it die easily!

4. Market Before Your Book is Published.
It is never too early to let people know what you are working on. Think of it like Christmas advertising. New products are always advertised well before Christmas, whetting the appetite of the potential buyers. So start whetting the appetite of your potential fans.

5. Have a Website.
This ties in with marketing before your book is published. People are curious by nature and like to know all about other people. Use this to your advantage by having your own author website. Make it entertaining and engaging but not solely about you or your book. Offer your potential fans something of value. If you write westerns, perhaps you can show people how to find western products or dude ranches. If you write romance, have a section with a "romantic poem a day". And so forth and so on. On my website Fun For Kids I include recipes, crafts, poems, and much more.

6. Have Business Cards Printed.
Business cards are a great and inexpensive way to promote any type of business even the business of writing. Hand them out everywhere you go: restaurants, hair salons, grocery stores, libraries, and gas stations. I've even been know to include them in the envelope when I pay my bills.

7. Form Relationships With Other Authors and Bloggers.
Recently I read an article that stated being published was a community effort so to speak and I totally agree. No one person has all the ideas, all the contacts, all the reach, or all the tools needed to become a success. So join forces. Review books for other authors, blog about other authors, invite other authors to be interviewed, and you will see your efforts reciprocated.

8. Be Proactive.
Don't wait for fans and opportunities to come to you because this is not "A Field of Dreams". If you write it, they will not come, at least not without some good old fashioned leg work. People can't buy what they don't know about. Look for people to review your book, look for contests, book lists, book fairs, craft fairs, radio shows, and selling opportunities of every kind. They are out there, it just takes some ingenuity to find them. This takes us back to #7 where you get to know those other authors who will share opportunities they have come across with you because you do the same.

9. Don't be Afraid To Try New Things.
If you have never blogged, don't worry; everyone has to start somewhere and with time you will find your comfort zone. If you are nervous about public speaking, start out with a pre-recorded radio interview or podcast. If you have recording capabilities, record yourself reading a passage from your book. If you don't have a book trailer, make one. There are several easy to use sites out there that walk you through making a video or book trailer. I am especially fond of One True Media. The options are endless, so get out there try, try, try.

10. Have Fun.
Of all the possibilities a new author can and should be pursuing, this is the most important. If you aren't having fun, then what is the purpose of being an author? Neither writing nor getting published is an easy task and marketing a book is even more difficult; but it doesn't have to be a life draining death sentence. With a little bit of effort, you can begin to feel confident and you can even become an authority in your given genre. The world lies at your feet just waiting to be conquered; not just on the written page, but in reality as well!

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Teacher Judi Chesshir Becomes Children's Author

I love children’s stories old or new and was pleasantly surprised when I read Judi Chesshir’s story, My Finny Fin Fin. My Finny Fin Fin is a retelling of The Three Little Pigs with a big bad shark instead of a big bad wolf and three little dolphins instead of three little pigs. I loved this version of an old tale reborn and was even more impressed when I read along with the sensational audio version. Such an interesting story caused me to want to know more about the author. I hope you enjoy finding out more about Judi as well.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself such as where you hail from and how many children’s books you have had published.

I am a mother to two wonderful boys and a wife to a drummer. I teach 2nd graders during the day and market my book at night. I can’t claim one spot as my home while growing up. We moved around a lot every time my dad was promoted in his job. By the time I was 17, I had moved 19 times. I feel like I grew up in California though; I lived there during part of my high school years and most of my close friends are from that time in my life.

What made you decide to write for Children/YA age groups? Are you currently working on anything else?

I wasn’t planning on writing a children’s book. My dream was to write a novel, but God had other plans for me. I needed a compare & contrast lesson for “The Three Little Pigs.” We had studied that story the week before. I didn’t have time to run to the library, so I wrote a story in front of my class. I chose dolphins and a shark as my main characters, since those animals were what my students enjoyed learning about earlier. I let the students decide what happened to the dolphins. They chose to follow the original version of “The Three Little Pigs.” After the story was finished, we compared it to “The Three Little Pigs.” Then I placed it onto an online writing portfolio. The public was able to view the story. People commented that I should get this story published, so I decided I should try. A few months later, I had a contract sitting on my doorstep from the publisher and I was thrilled. I’m not currently working on another book. My goal right now is to learn how to market this book first and then I will work on another one.

What were some of your favorite books as a child?

I enjoyed reading fairy tales. I loved the made up stories and how anything could happen in them.

Do you have any humorous stories to tell about being an author or dealing with the public?

I found myself smiling when my students had finished listening to the audio of my story. Then they read out loud with a partner. I noticed that some of them were using different voices for the shark and dolphins. I thought that was so cute, since I didn’t tell them to do that.

What do you find the most difficult aspect of being an author and what advice would you give perspective authors?

The hardest part about being an author is trying to get my book known. There are so many books out there that it is hard to let the public know it even exists. I have been spending lots of time on the internet to try and tell others about my book and where to get it. I have found that word of mouth, book reviews, and book signings seem to be the best way to get my book known so far. My advice to any new author is to not give up. If you have a dream of publishing a book, then do anything you can to make it come true. There are different options for publishing. You can go the agent route, find a publisher on your own, or even self publish. Just find the one that fits you best.

What accomplishment are you most proud of (literary or otherwise)?

I am proud to say that I have been a teacher for over 20 years. I have had the pleasure of teaching writing to lots of children almost daily. I also get to teach reading as well. Both of those are my favorite things to do, so I hope I inspire the students that I teach.

What do you think causes a book to stand the test of time?

A story that captures a child’s imagination and is well known will be around for a long time.

What hobbies or interests do you have besides writing?

I enjoy hiking, traveling, and reading. All of these activities take me into a different place where I can have adventures.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about such as awards or your website address?

I am happy to say that my book will be featured in the “50 Greatest Authors You Should Be Reading, 2011-2012 edition,” by the Author’s Show. A contest was held and the public voted on the authors they were interested in and I was thrilled to be included. can find out more about this book at:

My book will also be featured in “Taste and See First Chapters Book,” by John 3:16 Marketing Network.

My book is available in paperback & e-book from:
Tate Publishing
Barnes & Nobel

You can order autograph copies & hard covers from me by contacting me on my website

My Finny Fin Fin, paperback or hard covers also come with a free audio download on the last page, so the books can be put on a phone, computer, iPod, Nook, and Kindle.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Veteran Author Peg Kehret

As you are probably all well aware, my passion is for children’s books. It makes little difference whether I am reading them to my daughter, having her read them to me, or reading them for my own pleasure. Another interest of mine is interviewing children’s authors and finding out just what makes them tick. To have a well established children’s author such as Peg Kehret agree to be interviewed is icing on the cake. Thank you for taking the time to share a bit of your life and wisdom with us, Peg.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself such as where you hail from and how many children’s books you have had published.
I live on a small wildlife sanctuary near Mt. Rainier National Park, in Washington State. I’ve published fifty books for children. Early in my career I published plays, short stories, and two nonfiction adult books.

When you were young, did you imagine that you would some day be a children’s author, or did it you have other career prospects in mind?
As a child, I wanted to be either a veterinarian or a writer. Now I include animals in most of my books.

Of all of the books you have written, does any one title or series hold a special place in your heart?
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, is the true story of how I was paralyzed when I was twelve years old, and my year of recovery. Writing it brought back many memories and I have special feelings toward it. I’m also fond of the three books (The Stranger Next Door, Spy Cat, and Trapped) that are co-authored by Pete the Cat, because I laughed so much as I wrote the sections from Pete’s viewpoint.

Do you have any humorous stories to tell about being an author or dealing with the public?
I get a lot of funny letters from kids. One girl wanted to know if I would send her Justin Bieber’s phone number. Another said, “If you are no longer living when you get this letter, please have someone close to you respond.”

What do you find the most difficult aspect of being an author and what advice would you give perspective authors?
First drafts are the hardest part for me. I’m slow to get started and it takes awhile before I know the material is book-worthy.
The most important advice I have for beginning authors is to be persistent. Don’t give up too easily. My first two books never got published. It’s especially hard to keep going when you haven’t published yet because other people don’t take you seriously. You have to believe in yourself and your own vision.

From where does your inspiration come and has writing become easier for you through the years?
Usually an idea is sparked by an incident that I hear about, or something I read in the newspaper, or even an overheard conversation. My latest book, Ghost Dog Secrets, happened because I read a letter to the editor of a small weekly newspaper. The writer complained about a dog that was tied up day after day with no food or shelter. She had complained to an animal control agency but got no action. I thought about that situation and wondered what a twelve-year-old boy would do if he saw such a dog and couldn’t get the authorities to intervene. If he unchains the dog and takes it, is he rescuing it or is he stealing private property?

What accomplishment are you most proud of (literary or otherwise)?
My husband and I raised two children who are honorable people. In my career, I’m proud that I’ve had a part in encouraging children to enjoy reading. I have hundreds of letters from grateful parents and teachers, each telling me about a particular child who never liked to read until he/she got hooked on one of my books.

What do you think causes a book to stand the test of time?
Books that touch our feelings are most likely to last. Tricky plots are fun to read once but the books we return to are those with important themes that make us think and those that create an emotional reaction.

What hobbies or interests do you have besides writing?
Physical problems from post-polio syndrome make it difficult for me to be as active as I was in the past. I read a lot and I do foster care for rescued cats. Many of my books grew out of personal interests. The ideas for Cages, Don’t Tell Anyone, and Shelter Dogs: Amazing Stories of Adopted Strays all came from volunteer work with my local Humane Society.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about such as awards or your website address?
All of my awards are displayed on the wall in a hallway next to my office. They encourage me and bring back happy memories. I’ve won forty-eight state young reader awards, a Golden Kite from SCBWI, the PEN Center Award in Children’s Literature, the Henry Bergh Award from the ASPCA, and an Edgar nomination from the Mystery Writers of America.
My web site is I have a Facebook author page and a blog; both have links from the web site.

Thank you for answering these questions for me and my readers Peg. I particularly enjoyed the comments you received from children. I can also understand how enjoyable it was for you to write from Pete the cat’s point of view; that is what I enjoyed most while reading Spy Cat.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Interview with Christian Author Jennifer Mauter

I met Christian Children's Author Jennifer Mauter last year via Facebook and through this meeting had the opportunity to read and review her book Illumination Station-The Big Adventure . I have seen many creative characters through the years, talking vegetables, animals, robots, and insects; but I must admit that this was the first time that I had ever seen anyone use light bulbs as characters.

Jennifer's characters were not only creative, they were also fashioned in such a way that children will be able to relate to them. The storyline shows children that good or bad, there are consequences for all actions. I enjoyed this story so much that I bought a copy for my niece last Christmas and she seemed to enjoy it as well.

Jennifer recently shared with me some of her thoughts on being an author. I hope you all enjoy getting to know her as I have.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where you are from, Your book, etc…

I am a mom and grandma from Gibsonburg, Ohio. I taught Sunday school for many years and wanted to find a way of one, getting children to class, and two, holding their interest once they got there. I wrote a Christian Children’s Book “Illumination Station-The Big Adventure.” The idea came to me after praying for an idea that would teach children about God’s Word in a unique, fun way.

God gave me the idea of using special light bulbs that only illuminate through God’s Word.I then developed the town of Illumination Station and its two streets; Commandment Drive and Temptation Highway. I researched light bulb terms and named my characters after them. Whenever a towns person is led into temptation, their light goes out and everyone knows why. The only way to earn their ‘illumination” is through community service. It teaches children that there are consequences to their actions.

2. Are there any authors that greatly influenced your writing style and what were some of your favorite books as a child?

I can’t say that any authors influenced me, but my favorite author was Dr. Seuss and of course, Nancy Drew.

3. How long did it take you to get your first book published? Were there ever moments when you became discouraged?

I was very fortunate that the first publisher, Tate Publishing Co., Inc. awarded me a contract.
The discouragement is from marketing. It’s been very difficult, if not nearly impossible to “get the word out.”

4. What made you decide to write for Children/YA age groups? Are you currently working on anything else?

As I mentioned above, I was a Sunday school teacher for many years and found a great need in getting children interested in God’s Word. I wanted to make it fun to learn about God.

5. What do you find the most difficult part of being an author?

Marketing is without a doubt the most difficult part of being an author. I don’t sell myself well, and therefore struggle to market my book. I feel that it takes a strong, confident person to market a book, because you have to sell yourself as well. I’m really not that person, but I’m going to keep trying.

6. What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?

I love scrap-booking, sewing and doing creative art projects. Interior decorating is another favorite hobby of mine.

7. What words of encouragement would you give to children who might not be great readers?

I tell children that the whole world opens up to them through reading. There is no limit to where they may travel or what they can do. We are so blessed to have the ability to read and explore everything through literature.

8. Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?

I am disabled due to a neurological disorder that causes chronic nerve pain from my neck down my spine and into my arms and legs. I don’t however let the bad days discourage me. I’m so grateful to wake up every day. I choose to overcome the pain, not let it overcome me.

9. If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I would love to meet Joel Osteen or Oprah Winfrey. Joel’s soft-spoken, spiritually uplifting words fill me with encouragement, and forgiveness. Oprah’s life class is a life-saver. After experiencing a very difficult situation, I am now able to put my focus where it belongs, not where it’s been.

10. Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?

My blog is called Illumination Station. (Now I have to remember to update it!)

I would also like to invite everyone to read my book reviews on I am so grateful to all the people that took the time to write these for me.

Thank you to Aileen Stewart for your support! Thank you for this interview.
You’re the best.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Little Faith

Do you ever have moments when you wonder why you ever became an author? I know I do. I have those depressing moments when I wonder is my book ever going to take off, when I wonder what will I do next, when I wonder is it worth all the effort. And then, I remind myself that Rome was not built in a day. I say a little thank you prayer and put things back into the hands of the one who knows all.

I don't believe anything in this life is random and I believe that the creator of the universe has a plan for both me and my book. The problem lies in the fact that I can not always see what the plan is ahead of time. I have found, however, that when I am able to relax and simply trust in my Heavenly Father things have a way of turning out for the best. Hind sight, as they say, is definitely 20/20 and looking back I can see a pattern of good things happening at just the right times.

Last week is an example of this. Not only did I find out that I was a winner in The Authors Show "50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading" contest, I also found out that Fern Valley was selected to be part of the 2011 Kart Kids Book List.

It's times like these that makes me wonder why I ever doubt. Although there seems to be this eternal struggle, I feel that I am becoming a stronger person because as I mentioned before those times of doubt are but moments. Ultimately I choose whether or not I will continue to entertain such negative thoughts. The answer of course is always a resounding "NO". As a good friend of mine always says, "I choose joy."

So when your literary endeavors seem to be less then stellar and you too have those I wonder moments, remind yourself that a little faith is all that's needed. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Marketing Your Book Can Be Fun!

Not all authors have a marketing and sales background like me, but that really doesn't matter. You too can become a fabulous marketer and you can even have some fun along the way. I know many of you are cringing as you read the word "marketing" and you are probably beginning to grumble under your breath, but it is true. Marketing can be enjoyable especially if you are a new author with a book about to be released.

Hosting a launch party for your book is a fun and creative way to initially get the word out, and who doesn't love a good party? Before my book was even half way through the publishing stage, I began to cultivate a good relationship with my children's librarian. Through this relationship I not only found a great supporter and friend, but I also found a place to host my party. At the suggestion of my librarian friend, the library agreed to allow me to hold my party in their multi-purpose room free of charge. They also posted information about my launch and told patrons whom they thought might be interested in attending.

Seeing that I was under a tight budget, like most new authors, I kept my party simple and inexpensive. Since I opted to throw a Birthday party for my book,I had magnets and pin on buttons made for party favors; I made cupcakes resembling some of my characters; I found a simple online origami craft for the children to do; I threw in some chips, punch, and pretzels, and I read from my book. My launch was in February and only about twenty or so people showed up because of the threat of bad weather, but we had a great time.

Once the novelty and newness of my new book wore off, I was left wondering what to do next. So I do what I do best, I started to research. I joined author groups for support and ideas, I read marketing articles, I began looking for outlets for my book. I told myself that if I was creative enough to write a book, surely I could think outside of the box and find marketing ideas; and that is how I decided to approach the manager of the local hospital gift shop. If you have a romance why not check out flower or candy shops and see if they might like to carry your book on consignment, If you have a western how about contacting Dude Ranches or farm and tractor stores, If you have a book about dogs or cats why not partner with the local animal shelter, and so on.

I have found that the key to marketing well and enjoying marketing is related to getting to know people. If you are friendly, if you are truly interested in getting to know other people, it will help you tremendously. Definitely get to know other authors with whom you can exchange reviews and interviews or promote each other by on the social networking sites like FB and Twitter. Most of my radio interviews and newspaper articles are a direct result of having gotten to know other authors who in turn gave me leads. Show people you are excited about your book and more then likely they will become excited as well.

Become an expert in some field related to your topic. As a children's author, I joined Goodreads where I review children's books. I also draw on my marketing background and often post about marketing opportunities that might be helpful to others. I look upon it like being a teacher. I am opening the eyes of the students to the wonders that have been shown to me by all those that came before. Instead of a chore, I look upon marketing as a scavenger hunt where I am in a constant state of searching for clues that lead to the treasure. They say the journey is half the fun, so start thinking of marketing as part of the journey and not just a necessary evil. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Award Winning Author Laura Eckroat

It has been my pleasure to read not one but two of Laura Eckroat's children's books. Her book, Life of Bud, is a beautiful tale of the seasons as experienced by a new bud. Her second book, A Simpler Time, is my personal favorite. A Simpler Time took me back to my childhood, a time before computers, cell phones, and video games where kids amused themselves and found joy in the little things. Laura has a simple yet entertaining way of telling a story, so it is no surprise to me that she is an award winning author. If you haven't read her books yet, I suggest you think about doing so because she is definitely an author worth reading. It is with gladness that I share with you some questions Laura has taken the time to answer for me.

1. When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? What made you want to choose this career path?

I have always wanted to have a book published. When I was little it was my dream to have a book published and soon I will have 3 so that is extremely exciting! At present, it’s not a career for me. I would love for it to be my career … maybe someday!

2. Who are some of the authors that greatly influenced your writing style? What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

No authors have really influenced my style. I feel I have my own style of writing. I like all kinds of books and all kinds of genres. I always finish reading a book … even if I don’t like it. I figure that someone took the time to write it, I can take some time and read it. Ted Kerasote is a great writer and I love his books. As for children’s books that I love …. Hmmmmm – I read at a very young age and read The Little House on the Prairie books – I loved those! I now love books that have beautiful illustrations … Jan Brett and Cynthia Rylant are a few of my favorites. When I was teaching Kindergarten I became a fan of Mo Willems and the PIGEON books … those are awesome.

3. How long did it take you to get your first book published? Were there ever moments when you became discouraged?

It took about 2 years to get my first book published – but it also took 10 years before that for me to finish writing it! I was discouraged at times, but I figured that if it was meant to happen it would.

4. What made you decide to write for Children/YA age groups? Do you still feel connected to your "inner child"?

I love working with children and so writing children’s books that adults can also relate to was a natural for me. Every day I get to be a little silly … so I suppose I am still a child at heart.

5. What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?

I love reading, playing with my dog Muffin (who is the main character in my new book), I love volunteering at the Fort Worth Nature Center, and I guess just hanging out enjoying nature.

6. Do you have any advice for new authors who are just entering the field?

Don’t give up!!! And write down all your ideas … even if you think they are not that good … you may need them someday!

7. Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?

I’m the Child Care Coordinator for the Northwest YMCA … I work with their Afterschool Program and Summer Day Camp programs. I don’t have a huge amount of time for writing, but I have always kept a journal so when something comes to mind, I make sure it gets into the journal. I am around children a lot, so I feel it helps me with my writing. The kids also think it’s pretty cool that I’m an author!

8. If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I got to meet Ted Kerasote, author of Merle’s Door and PUKKA. I loved his writing and on a whim I emailed him and told him about my book, A Simpler Time. The book was still in the writing phase and I asked him if he would read it, and possibly endorse it. He DID! I couldn’t believe it. He also gave me some suggestions to make the book better! I was shocked that someone like him would take the time to actually read my work and give me suggestions! We have kept in contact and when his book PUKKA came out he invited me to come to one of his book events. I was able to go and I had him sign PUKKA for me and I also had him SIGN a copy of my book … A Simpler Time … so the author who endorsed it … signed it! VERY COOL! And, I was able to give him a copy of A Simpler Time. It was a very thrilling moment and I am glad for someone like Ted who gave me a shot and helped me out!

9. Do you have children of your own, and if so what do they think of your author status and book/books?

I have one daughter, Ashley, who is 18. She thinks it’s pretty cool that I’m a published author. She has supported me and has attended several events. My book, A Simpler Time, is actually about Ashley when she was in 2nd grade. I’m so glad that she was at the Massachusetts Reading Association Conference in April of 2010, where I debuted A Simpler Time. The people who attended the Evening With Authors, loved meeting Ashley, the character from the book. I was so glad she was able to share that moment with me. I will always remember looking at her face as I was reading the book! It took all my energy not to cry …. (happy tears!)

10. Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc…?

My book, The Life of Bud, won Best Children’s Book at the North Texas Book Festival, in 2010, and was also featured in Dallas Child Magazine in September, 2010.

My newest book, Went Out To Get a Donut, Came Home With a Muffin, will be released by the end of the year. Muffin and I will be doing lots of fundraising with animal shelters and rescue dog facilities across the country – which is very exciting!

I have presented at the Western Massachusetts Homeschooling Conference, Massachusetts Reading Association Conference, and State of Maryland – International Reading Association Conference.

I have spoken to thousands of children in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Indiana, Alabama, & Texas. I enjoy presenting the writing process to children and if anyone is interested in having me at their child’s school, they can contact me at

At present, my web-site is under construction, but I would love fans to check out my facebook page. Life of Bud.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hooray For Liebster Awards!

As I was upgrading my blog today, I notice that I received a Liebster Award from the wonderfully encouraging, Marja Meijers. My first thought was, That is so awesome, an award. This thought was quickly followed by, But what the heck is a Liebster Award? As I pondered what this award could mean, the words of a fellow blogger came to mind, "Thank God for Google!"

So a Googling I went, and I learned that Liebster is German for "Good Friend". Apparently people who have a blog with less then 200 followers are candidates for this award. It signifies that someone who has read and enjoyed your work believes that it warrants more attention then it is receiving. The condition for accepting this award is to share the five top blogs you feel also deserve a Liebster. You must then let the nominees know they too are award winners.

After thinking long and hard, and per the requirements of receiving a Liebster award, here are my nominees for great blogs that should have more followers:

~Fresh Insights On Ancient Truths by Marja Meijers

~A Woman's Voice by Dolores Ayotte

~The Eclectic Christian Blogger by Amanda Stephan

~Lisa Tortorello~Teacher and Author by Lisa Tortorello

And yes, I am aware that four is not quite the five I am supposed to come up with; but as a writer I figure I am allowed a little lee way. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Interview With Houghton Mifflin Author Aaron Hawkins

Recently I had the great pleasure to read a book entitled The Year Money Grew on Trees,a superbly written story of a determined boy. Goaded into an agreement by his conniving neighbor Mrs. Nelson and trying to evade the summer job of doom lined up by his father, Jackson Jones works diligently to live up to the bargain of restoring a neglected apple orchard. Jackson enlists the help of his siblings and his cousins and spends a summer learning as he goes. Will he manage to grow a crop of apples worthy of selling? Will he be able to sell the apples once they are grown? Will he fulfill the bargain made with Mrs. Nelson and in return become the true heir of the orchard. The answers to these questions and many more await you in this wonderful book written by Aaron Hawkins.

Having finished this interesting and descriptive book, I became curious. What, I wondered, was the man behind the book like? On a whim I wrote Aaron to tell him how interesting I found his book, and during our correspondence he graciously agreed to be my first author interview. Not only do I hope you enjoy getting to know Aaron better, but I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of The Year Money Grew on Trees for yourself and your YA readers!

When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? What made you want to choose this career path?

I had some great junior high and high school English teachers who convinced me that authors were the most significant thinkers on earth. That stuck with me, although somewhere along the way I learned that very few people survive writing books full time. Instead of a career, I consider writing an obsession.

Who are some of the authors that greatly influenced your writing style? What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

I’d feel unworthy to compare my writing style with anyone else’s, but the authors I have read the most are the standard American and British classics – Twain, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Dickens.

How long did it take you to get your first book published? Were there ever moments when you became discouraged?

Four years, from the time I started writing until it appeared in print. I felt discouraged most of that time, except for a handful of breathtaking phone calls and email messages.

Assuming that you write for children or young adults, what made you decide to write for those age groups? Do you still feel connected to your "inner child"?

I started writing based on my own experiences and I guess I felt my childhood was more interesting than my adulthood. I definitely still feel connected to my inner child. I think we all like to think of ourselves as teenagers most of the time.

What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?

I don’t have many. Most free time is spent hanging out with my kids.

Do you have any advice for new authors who are just entering the field?

Finish writing something before you worry about getting it published. Naivety about the publishing process is a luxury you should take advantage of.

Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?

I’m a professor of electrical engineering, which involves teaching, research, and a lot of technical writing. My engineering background probably colors my writing, but I like to think it makes it kind of unique.

If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Tolstoy. I’d love to hear how he created such vast settings and characters in his books.

Do you have children of your own, and if so what do they think of your author status and book/books?

Yes, I have three children. They won’t be impressed by a book I wrote until it gets turned into a movie.

Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?

My author’s website is

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer's Gone, What Next...

I usually don't go such a long time without blogging, but before I knew it August was gone and September had started. "Where did the summer go?" Is the question I have asked myself more then once. It seems like the previous school year just ended and yet suddenly here I am chauffeuring my daughter to school once again.

And of course with the onslaught of school also came the beginning of harvest. I have been a mad woman these past two weeks canning peaches, making pies, etc... and next week I start canning pears. My to do list just seems to grow with each passing day as well. I need to finish scraping and painting our shed, a project I started at the beginning of summer but had to abandon due to the extreme heat. I need to clean out the garage, repaint my kitchen cupboards, and start my Christmas shopping. I need to cut down all the dead perennials and prepare myself for the leaves that will soon be covering my yard like a golden blanket.

In between the never ending chore list, however; I plan to read and review a few more children's books, I plan to work on another Fern Valley sequel, I plan to market my current book, and I plan on interviewing some Children's/YA authors. So stay tuned because it should prove fun to see what someone besides me thinks about reading, writing, and life in general. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast

You've probably already heard the saying "They Grow Up So Fast" a million times before, but it is so true. It seems like just yesterday that I gave birth to our daughter in the comfort of our own home (with a mid-wife of course). And yet as I look at her now, a lovely, kind hearted, tall, proficient reader, with her own fashion ideas, ready to enter first grade, I realize that she is definitely not a baby any more.

How did this happen? I blinked and here we are six years later. And it's not just the number of years that have passed that amaze me, but the maturity level I see in my sweet princess. She says things to her Mamaw and Grandma like, "Well, actually that's not how it happened." What six year old says things like that? Or the time when she wanted a dog and we borrowed MaMaw's new puppy for an overnight to see what the experience would be like. The next morning after having cleaned up dog waste and being up half the night to let the puppy out she told her Father, "I have thought it over Daddy, and I have decided that I will just share MaMaw's puppy with her."

But nothing made it more evident that we have a six year old going on forty then yesterday's trip to the dentist. Her father took her to get her teeth cleaned and she wanted to go back by herself. He told her that he might just go back with her anyway and she pleaded with him to let her go alone. "I just want to get this over with so I can go home and take a nap," she said, much to the amusement of an elderly lady sitting in the waiting room. He finally consented but told her if they wanted to take x-rays she should tell them to come and talk to him.

Now our daughter has been privy to many a conversation at our house about the ill effects of x-rays, especially on children; but it never occurred to me that she would understand and retain this knowledge and use it for her benefit. But she did. She went back to the cleaning room with the dental assistant and sat in the chair so proud of herself. The dental assistant then informed her that they would start with some x-rays to which my daughter responded by saying, "No." According to my daughter who is usually very accurate, the dental assistant looked at her and said, "Okay, I guess we will skip that."

While I am slightly saddened that the time has flown by so quickly, I am at the same time overjoyed that we are raising a loving, decisive, intelligent girl who will grow into womanhood with a strong sense of who she is and what she wants out of life. It comforts me to know that as she grows she will find her place in this world; a world which I believe will be a better place because she is in it. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One of Those Mornings!

Did you ever have one of those mornings? Not a bad morning per say, just a different kind of a morning. This morning was one of those mornings for me. It started when I woke at 5:45 to large, rumbling, house shaking rounds of rain, thunder, and lightning. I wasn't worried about the storms so much, but as a precaution, I did unplug my computer. I was planning on setting a book table up at my town's local farm market, so I waited to see if the storms were going to pass quickly or not. When it seemed like most of the storms had passed, I once again plugged in my computer and scanned the radar. It looked as if the next few hours would be clear so I readied myself.

Breakfast eaten, teeth brushed, properly attired, and hair looking reasonably nice enough to face strangers, I headed downtown. The weather seemed to have scared away most of the normal vendors, so I picked out a nice spot under a shady tree and began to set up. I knew once the sun came out it would most likely get very hot and humid, so I figured in the shade would be the best place to be. There was a gentle cool breeze which was a welcome relief from the recent heat we've been experiencing; but every time it blew, the tree drip, drip, dripped. It dripped on my head, it dripped in my eye when I looked up to see what was happening, it dripped on my bookmarks, books, and various other ancillary items. Fortunately I had a small rag with me which I used to quickly wipe away stray drops.

Our Farmers Market is every Saturday from nine to noon and so I sat waiting for a customer. I sat and chatted with my neighboring vendors, I sat and listened as one vendor's daughter told me she was bored and then proceeded to tell me all about herself, I sat and watched people pass by my table trying to glance at what I was offering without making eye contact. Did these early morning shoppers think I would entrap them with a mesmerizing sales spiel that they would not be able to say no too?

Finally at about eleven thirty, an interested customer approached my table to purchase a book, only to ask me if I could break a fifty dollar bill. Really, I thought to myself. Did she think vegetables, baked goods, hair bows, pot holders, and Guatemalan bracelets were that expensive? Who comes to a farmer's market with fifty dollar bills? Thankfully though, I was able to give her correct change.

Having waited on my only customer of the day, I had only about twenty minutes left when a gentleman on a bike rode up and asked what I had. I explained that I was selling my children's book which came out in March. This led him to tell me all about a religious manuscript he had written that had never been read by anyone and said things that no one had said or heard before. I don't know about you, but that sort of set my "Cult" radar into overdrive; but I politely listened and nodded. He then started asking me about copyrights and how one would go about getting a copyright before sending a manuscript to a publisher. I explained that technically one does not have to worry about copyrighting, the mere act of writing makes a work copyrighted. I go on to say that once a manuscript has been accepted, the publisher should take care of any copy right issues.

Apparently I was not being clear enough on this point or the gentleman wasn't understanding what I was saying because he kept asking me the same thing. I finally told him that if he is that worried about the matter he should mail himself a copy of his manuscript and when it arrives postmarked and dated, he should put it aside unopened. In the event that he should have a legal issue concerning his work, he would then have proof that it was his. Again he questions how one would get their work copyrighted before sending it to a publisher. I'm not sure what to tell him at that point. At that point, I'm not even sure the man is playing with a full deck of cards. Is he paranoid that publishers are sneaky, evil beings just waiting to steal religious works of others? I had no idea, but finally he left; and I began packing up to head home to my nice, quiet, air-conditioned home.

As I said previously, not a bad morning, just an unusual morning. The kind of morning that makes you wonder what is in store for the rest of the day. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Great Characters Reflect Real Life Qualities

Great characters whether they are in a book, play, movie, or television program have one thing in common... real life qualities that people can admire. Qualities we wish we had, qualities we have and can relate to, qualities we wish more people around us had.

Take for instance the character Ralph (played by William Katt) in the 80's television series Greatest American Hero. At first glance Ralph seems a little comical in his long red underwear and cape, wobbling precariously as he attempts to fly. But upon closer reflection Ralph has some pretty amazing qualities.

To begin with, Ralph, who is a teacher by day and hero intermittently while wearing the red alien suite, truly cares about the students in his charge. He not only wants them to learn to read and write, he wants them to learn to respect each other, to dream, to look to the future. He also possesses the quality of being able to enjoy the little things in life like meeting his boyhood hero The Lone Ranger or dressing up like a clown complete with the little red nose. And despite the disruption both the suite and his partner Maxwell bring to his life, Ralph is always a loyal friend.

He has a propensity towards concern and compassion for others and goes out of his way to encourage his students, fellow teachers, and friends. All of these qualities...kindness, compassion, concern for others, joy of living, loyalty, etc... are qualities I hope people see in me. They are also qualities of which I would like to instill in my young daughter. I want her to grow to adulthood able to find the beauty and joy in everyday life. I want her to strive to make this world a better place simply by her ability to be kind, patient, loyal and so forth.

These are also the qualities that I strive to create in my Fern Valley characters. Although my characters are most definitely fictional, I hope that children love them and go away wishing to emulate them. I'm sure they will not say, "Hey I think I will imitate Betsy's work ethic or Kimmy's kindness." But if subconsciously they integrate these qualities into their life, then my characters will not only be entertaining, but valuable as well. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

God Bless My Mother-in- law

For as long as I can remember my daughter, who is now six, has wanted a puppy; and at the beginning of the year year my husband decided she could have one this summer. I personally was not so crazy about the idea. It's not that I don't like dogs, after all who can resist a cute puppy face; but having had two cats for twenty years until recently has caused me to enjoy being pet free. There's also the fact that I absolutely do not want to clean up dog poo every day!

But being the ever loving wife and mother, I agreed to the puppy concept. I was not looking forward to it, but who wants to have a mopey husband and daughter. So plans were made, choices of dog breed decided upon and re-decided upon, money saved, and papers watched diligently. No dog yet.

And then it happened, no we did not find the perfect puppy; my Mother-in-law did. If I hadn't already loved this woman to pieces, I certainly would now. In her infinite wisdom gleaned from almost 75 years, she came up with a solution that works for all of us. My daughter could share her Boston Terrier pup.

My husband had not thought about all the responsibility or the things that would have to be forgone when owning a puppy. All he could think of when agreeing to let my daughter have a pet was the joy she would feel when receiving wet puppy kisses. No thoughts of how gross picking up poo would be to a six year old, no thoughts of how she would have to let the pup out every twenty minutes until it was house broken, no thoughts of how it would be up every couple of hours whimpering to get out of its sleeping cage, no thoughts of how play dates or overnights would be affected because mom was not going to take care of a puppy. No thoughts of how summer travel would be a no go with a new puppy. I think you are probably beginning to see my point.

But my Mother-in-law, God Bless her, saw all of this during the last practically sleepless week she has had taking care of her new baby lovingly called Sassy. It was her idea, a stroke of genius, that our daughter should take Sassy home for the night so she could experience first hand the responsibilities and joys of puppy ownership. Thus, finding out just how much work would be involved. "If you should decide you don't want a puppy of your own after all," My Mother-in-law told my daughter. "You can share mine with me, and when she is fully potty trained and a little older, you can borrow her for over nights."

So, last night was our trial run. My husband and daughter went to fetch young Sassy and all of her gear: pet bed, pet cage, pet bowls, pet food, pet toys, etc... And the fun began. There were potty breaks every twenty minutes, there was an adjustment period where my daughter had to get used to the nipping and chewing, there were the romps in the yard, and then the dog left its first present. That was all it took, one small pile of extra squishy doggy poop. I gave her a plastic bag and her dad took her out to clean up the yard. The feel of that waste in the bag as she picked it up was enough to cause her to come to a decision all on her own. "Daddy she said. "I have come to the decision that I want to share Mamaw's puppy with her instead of getting my own."

Who knew a six year old could be so wise? Apparently, she inherited some of my Mother-in-laws good common sense! Bless you Mother Stewart. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Timelessness of book Characters

Recently I started thinking about how things in this life change all too quickly. Take for example my parents. When I was younger I never imagined that my parents would grow older, grayer, slower. To me, they were just mom and dad, strong, hard working, able to do anything. But time has marched on and with each passing year they have become older, grayer, and slower. Some health issues have even made it impossible for them to take the yearly family vacation that we have all taken for several years, a fact that the grandchildren have a hard time understanding.

The same thing is happening with my one and only daughter. She is growing so quickly and is not my baby any more. The recent last day of Kindergarten especially drove this home. If I had my way, she would stay six for about ten years or so. One day I'm changing diapers and the next she is going on play dates and taking showers all by herself. Not that I want to go back to diapers mind you, but I so treasure the way she still wants to hold my hand when we go somewhere or how she wants to snuggle before bed. Although I know that as she grows and matures I will find each new stage as delightful as the last, it is with true regret that I watch each old stage disappear.

Which brings me to the point of this blog, the timelessness of characters in books. The characters we grow to know and love in literature remain the same throughout time, very rarely changing from what ever stage of life they were written in. To me Heidi, Christopher Robin, Ramona, Nancy Drew, and all of the other characters that are beloved to me will remain just the way I remember them. They will never grow old, they will never leave me behind, they will always be the same in an ever changing world. I guess that is why I find such pleasure in reading and writing, books keep us grounded in a world where very little is in our control. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fan Mail

Every author at some point in his/her career has either thought about or dreamed of receiving fan mail; that little note of encouragement or appreciation. As a children's author, I find myself looking forward to letters from children who have enjoyed Fern Valley. Although Fern Valley is my first book and was only released in March of this year, I have received two such letters already. The joy that I felt upon receiving those two letters was almost akin to the joy I felt upon giving birth to my beautiful daughter.

To read what the children thought of my characters and the stories was so exciting. To read that one little girl couldn't wait for my next book and that she thought it would be just "wonderful" almost brought me to tears. It is these small rewards that make writing so gratifying. The fact that I have the ability to touch someone's life through words on paper is a gift of overwhelming value.

Sometimes fan mail can turn out to be a cherished keepsake as well. Take for instance the mailing tube recently left for me at my local Barnes and Noble store that contained a very large sketch of my daughter sitting on my lap while reading my book. The attached letter from a retired grocery worker and amateur artist stated that he often used photos found in local newspapers for sketching material and that he had absolutely loved the photo of my daughter and I that had accompanied the article about my book. He went on to state that his father had at one time written several books but had never had the privilege of being published and that he hoped I would go on to sell a million copies of my book.

Not only did this man share with me words of encouragement and best wishes, he shared with me a part of himself. We made a connection in a world where people pass each other on a daily basis without so much as a simple hello. He took the time to let me know that that he shared in my joy and accomplishment. I plan on framing the sketch so lovingly drawn for me and my family and finding a place of honor for it.

So to all my fellow authors, I encourage you to enjoy your fan mail to the fullest truly recognizing what it stands for; and to all my fellow readers, I say thank you for for the privilege of being a part of your lives. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Silas Marner Book Vs Movie

In my high school literature class many years ago (and I'm not telling how many years ago) I read a book called Silas Marner written by George Elliot. Now it just so happens that George Elliot was a pen name for a woman named Mary Ann Evans. Why do you ask did Ms. Mary write under a male pen name? The answer is simple. Silas Marner was published in 1861 during a time that women were considered basically unable to think for themselves.

Silas Marner was a tale of a man betrayed, and who because of that betrayal became a hermit. Through a chain of events in which he had no control over, Silas Marner was robbed of his gold and instead of wealth, found himself with a toddler on his hands. Although crotchety and anti-social towards adults, Silas Marner had a lonely place in his heart that was touched by the child whom he kept and raised as his own. Many years later, events connected with that long ago theft threatened to rob him of the daughter he had grown to love. It was a masterful tale of love and hate, greed and gain, loss and replenishment, bitterness and joy, superbly told; and the highlight of my high school reading assignments. It was a piece I truly never forgot.

So you will imagine my surprise when I discovered a movie entitled A Simple Twist of Fate, written and produced by Steve Martin of all people was a modern day remake of Silas Marner. Although brought into the twentieth century and sprinkled with bits of comedy, as a Steve Martin movie should be, A Simple Twist of Fate managed to stay true to the main themes in Silas Marner. So if you want my advice, you should read the book and watch the movie. Not only as a comparison of tales, but as an example of how a classic story can be modernized and made into a movie worth watching. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Book of Value

There are several books in our home that we use frequently, read often, and think highly of. Offhand, I would say the Bible, Young's Concordance,The American Heritage Dictionary, and a myriad of cookbooks probably top the list. Then there are the favorites in my daughters collection; namely The Little Red Hen, Goodnight Moon, Anything Dr. Seuss, Biscuit books, Harry The Dirty Dog, Watch Out For The Chicken Feet In Your Soup,and Geraldine's Blanket. But the book which has given us the most value and pleasure, besides the Bible, is A Guide To Field Identification-Birds of North America.

I have owned this book for many years; twenty-four years to be exact. I owned this book before I married my first husband, and I used it to identify backyard specimens. After I married, we used it on camping trips with our nieces and spent many a happy hike looking for birds we had never personally seen before. When my first husband passed away, I must admit this book sat idle on the shelf for a few years, but I imagine that is understandable.

But since remarrying several years ago and giving birth to a lively young daughter who is interested in everything around her, A Guide To Field Identification once again became the book of choice. Not only do we use it to identify the ever changing variety of birds that visit our backyard feeders, we use it to identify birds we see wherever we travel. Just a few weeks ago we used it to identify a Yellow-Shafted Flicker of the female persuasion. While apparently, Flickers are quite common,It was a new and pleasant experience for the three of us to view one.

I know that this particular book, originally purchased for $6.95, has given me and numerous family members an immeasurable amount of pleasure for many years and will probably continue to do so for many more.Which leads me to ask, What book do you own that you consider "A Book of Value"? Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Reading Do's and Don'ts

I am a prolific reader, a writer, a published author; so it stands to reason that I would promote reading. And I do. I encourage both children and adults to read. I promote reading silently; I promote reading out loud. I promote reading newspapers, magazines, articles, books, pamphlets, tracts, and so forth. I'll shout it from the mountain tops in a Seuss like form. Read in the city, the bathroom, the park. Read in the morning or after it's dark. Read to your self or to your best friend. As long as you read again and again.

But rhyming aside, I would like to say there are some reading related instances that I've seen which cause me to pause or even to cringe; and one of those things I witnessed this morning. As I was driving home from dropping my daughter off at school, I saw a man reading a newspaper at a red light. So what's wrong with that you might ask? Well, normally I would say nothing if it was not for the fact that the man continued to read as the light turned green and he made a left hand turn. Not only did he read his paper as he turned the corner, he glanced quickly at the road in front of him and then back at his newspaper for several seconds.

I used to think people who talked on their cell phones while driving were one of society's greatest menaces; but after seeing "Newspaper Man" reading while driving, I now relegate that offense to a distant second. Reading is indeed a wonderful thing, taking us to far off places that we might never know of otherwise, increasing our knowledge of the world around us, giving us a break from realities and problems that might otherwise overwhelm us. But, reading should never, never cause us to be a danger to ourselves or others around us. So my advice to "Newspaper Man" is to either get up a few minutes early so you have time to read the paper, or wait until you get to wherever you are going. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Looking For A Children's Book Reviewer?

All writers know that book reviews can be a great way to get the word out about a new book. The hard part is sifting through the thousands of reviewers that can be found online. My criteria for a good book reviewer is as follows: First their site must look attractive, be easy to navigate, and their reviews must be of high quality. This is not to say that every book will receive a good review (honesty is important) but that the reviewer took the time to explain what was great about the book or what was lacking in a friendly and non-combative way. Secondly, they must review for the love of literacy and not for the love of money. I want to be sure when I receive a review good or bad that it is on the merit of my writing and not on the merit of my pocket book! And thirdly, I want a reviewer that actually reads my book. If a reviewer is claiming to have read a thousand books in one year let's say, then there is a good probability that they aren't really reading all the books or that they are just skimming the books. My book is important to me and I want it to be important to the reviewer.

So to this effect, I have put together a list of six children's book review sites that I feel meet these criteria. I seriously suggest before sending any book to a reviewer or review site, that you send a query e-mail briefly describing your book and asking if there is an interest (many times contact information is available on the site). If no e-mail contact information is mentioned, be sure to send a short letter with your book thanking them for taking the time to review your work.

1. Stories for children e-zine magazine

2. National Geographic Kids

3. Christian Children's book Review

4. Booklist Online


6. Biblio Reads

And as a last note, always remember to send a personal thank you to any reviewer that reviews your book. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Power of Persistence

The power of persistence is about more then just not giving up. The power of persistence is about not letting a little two letter word like "no" intimidate you. Sure, nobody likes to hear no, especially when it comes to your book. After all, your book is like your child, you gave it life, you nurtured it, and now you are trying to send it out into the world. But no is a word you will hear often in the publishing business. You will be rejected many times when you send out your manuscript; and if you are blessed enough to finally hear a yes we love it, don't think that is the end of hearing no.

When you begin to market your book you will probably hear no over and over again, but don't think of no as a negative. Each time someone tells you no, that just means you have not yet asked the right person. The world is full of billions of people that you have not yet spoken with, people that might just be waiting for what you have to offer. It would be a horrible thing if the very day you decided you had heard no enough and threw in the towel, unbeknown-st to you the next person you would have spoken to would have said yes. So turn no into your own personal motivator, thinking of it as a challenge to be overcome, a wall to be scaled, a channel to be swum across. Eventually if you persist long enough the odds in your favor will increase. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Five Ways to Help Yourself By Helping Others

Often authors think of other authors in terms of competition. And while this is true in some sense, it is much more helpful to think of other authors as partners and support systems. The old saying what goes around comes around is very true. When you help others, they are inclined to help you also. Below are five ways that you can help yourself by helping other authors.

1. Offer to do book reviews for your fellow authors. Book reviews posted on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Library Thing, and Shelfari not only help other authors spread the word about their book, but usually will be reciprocated.

2. Share marketing tips that work well for you. Knowledge is meant to be shared not horded. When you share tips, not only are you helping others, but you are branding yourself. You are promoting yourself as a caring individual who wants others to succeed in life as well.

3. Promote similar books by fellow authors on your website or blog. One great way to do this is to add an Amazon widget to your site. My favorite is the Amazon carousel which is a rotating collection of books with prices and links. When you sign up to become an Amazon associate and someone buys a book through your link you earn a small commission. A helpful video on this subject can be found at

4. Offer words of encouragement to other authors. This costs absolutely nothing and helps bolster moral. Many times a small word of encouragement has helped me to forge ahead when instead I felt like giving up.

5. Include other authors in your social networking. For those of you who belong to Facebook or Twitter, share a fellow author's link or tweet about other authors on #Writers Wednesday or #Follow Friday. Not only does this help your author friends, it also gives you a broader base of potential followers. People who follow your fellow authors may see and follow you as well.

Well there you have it my friends, five simple things you can do for others that will benefit you as well. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Encourage Enthusiasm

There is nothing quite like the enthusiasm of a child. Still fairly innocent, they see things simply and simply enjoy the things they see. They laugh at little things like the mention of underware or pictures of cats in party hats. They even giggle at names, like one of my new eight year old readers who informed her mother that the name Mildred made her laugh.

When I named one of my characters Mildred, I did not chose that name in an attempt to amuse kids; but rather, because it was old fashioned. But the more I think about it, the more I can see why that would seem funny to a child. Mildred, from the Old English meaning "gentle strength", has not been popular since about 1910 when it hit it's peak. Therefore Mildred probably seems as strange to today's children as foreign names seem to me.

Children also immensely enjoy things they can relate to like my characters Edward Cornstalk and Jimmy Curlytail pummeling Justin Curlytail in the head with mud balls because he would not help them out of their predicament. One mother told me that she and her daughter laughed hysterically at that scene. And I know that it is relateable because I based it off of the time my neice threw mud balls at her sister as she rode by on her bike.

Children haven't yet been jaded by everyday life, paying bills, complicated relationships, and so forth. If only we could bottle and sell that enthusiasm. But since we can't, the next best thing we can do is encourage that enthusiasm both in our children and in ourselves. Encourage them to read, encourage them to write, and encourage them to dream. Laugh with them, remember to notice the little things, Find joy in everything you see and do. Sometimes that joy may be hiding behind a cloud, but it's still there and can be found if you look through the eyes of a child.

Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Selling Yourself

As an author of a children's book with a degree in Business/Marketing, I understood from the beginning that I would have to work hard to promote myself and my book. Almost as soon as I received a contract for my first book, I began planning. I searched the internet almost daily for good review sites. I polished up my website and read articles on marketing, children's literature, social networking, blogging, brand building, and so on. I began looking for sites where promotional items could be ordered, and I made friends with fellow authors who knew the ropes.

Through all of this, I found one common theme, Sell Yourself. As an author no one will care about your book more then you. As an author, it is up to you to make people believe that what you have to say is worth reading. As an author, it is up to you to build credibility. In other words, you need to work at making yourself a household name brand that people can trust, which we all know is easier said then done.

The key to this is remembering it will not happen over night. Just as a child learns to walk by taking toddling baby steps to build up the leg muscles, you too can practice, practice, practice taking small steps until your author legs become stable and strong.

A good place to start is with your website. And yes, a website is a must! A website gives your audience access to you in a way that other social networking sites just can't do. It should be a reflection of your personality, the type of book you have created, and a place where people can get to know you. I chose a chalkboard theme for my website. To me this speaks of education, learning, growing, reading, writing, and structure. My site also contains essential ingredients such as a biography, contact information, synopsis of my book, events page, and point of purchase as well as non essential extras like book reviews, other authors I like, recipes, poems, and more.

Something else you can do is to mimic big businesses. If you do a little research, you will note that they all have some kind of a statement that sums up who or what they are. Call it a motto, a brand statement, a purpose statement, or any of the other numerous titles such statements go by; the fact remains, they all have one and so should you. Mine is "Kids Who Read Can Do Anything." I want to portray the type of person who isn't just interested in selling a book, but is interested in selling education, enrichment, confidence, and all the skills youngsters need to become productive and happy individuals! I want to be known as a person who cares.

So get out there and start selling yourself, and don't be surprised if you actually do become a household name because stranger things have happened. Signing off for now with wishes for a bright and beautiful day!