Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reaching Out For Help

The thing about being an author is that you can't manage alone. You have to have someone willing to publish your book, you have to have fans who want to read your book, you have to have reviewers who are willing you share your book, You have to have family and friends to support you and cheer you on, etc...

That is why I'm reaching out to everyone today. My book, Fern Valley, is a finalist in the Author SdB book cover contest. I would love to win the best cover in the children's category, but I need your votes. So if you think my cover is nice and worthy of a vote, please stop by the SdB site and click on the stars under my book cover. Clicking on the stars under my cover will activate your vote.

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Just A Hoppin' Around

Once again I have been invited to a children's blog hop, but unlike the last time (I'm sighing and blushing now), this time, I remembered to post. For this particular hop, I was invited to participate by the very sweet Angie Churney, author of the Writing On The Sly blog. Please be sure to stop by her site and leave her a little comment love.

As with most hops, when the host is introduced it is then time for the new hopper (me) to answer some writing questions. So with out further ado, I will dive right in.

What are you working on right now?

Now that November has arrived, I am getting ready to start the production process for the sequel to Fern Valley which is titled Return To Fern Valley. For those of you not familiar with the publishing process, I begin with editing. My editor will make suggestions and it is up to me to follow through and make corrections. From there, I will move onto various stages like working with my illustrator, cover designer, layout designer, and last but not least, the final editing stage. I am also working on the third book in the Fern valley series in hopes of having it ready for publishing possibly next fall.

How does your writing process work?

My writing process isn't really a process at all. Unlike what all the trendy articles tell you, I do not write daily, I do not set aside specific times every day, week, or month to write. I do not use outlines. Basically,  I only write when I feel inspired. I do most of my writing after my daughter goes to bed or while she is at school because these are the two times of maximum quiet. If I try to write while she is home and awake, I hear a constant whine which sounds something like this, "How much longer are you going to be on the computer. Are you done yet? You are always on the computer." You can probably imagine now, why I choose those specific times to write!

.Who are authors that you most admire? 

I admire many, many authors both living and dead. Of those who have long ceased to be, I admire Samuel Clemons, otherwise know as Mark Twain, quite a bit. I  have also been know to gush about Phyllis A Whitney,  and  George Elliot aka. Mary Anne Evans. Of those still with us, I very much admire the books of new author, Laura Eckroat, the ever so famous, Tommie dePaola, and my friend from across the pond, Joyce Dunbar.

Where do you turn for instruction and inspiration?

I  turn to fellow authors for instruction. Those well seasoned veterans not adverse to sharing their wealth of knowledge. And since I do indeed believe in paying it forward, I also willingly pass on the tid-bits of wisdom I acquire on my journey. As for inspiration, that comes from almost anywhere: my childhood, my daughter, my cats, music, nature, even the strange dreams my besties share with me.

Well now that you know more about me, possibly more then you ever wanted to know, it is time to pass the torch to my fellow hoppers.

Please be sure to check out my fellow children's authors Gailya Keller and Pat Brannon as they continue the hop.

Gailya is the author of  The Secret Of Smiley Woods and her blog can be found at So, the other day I was thinking.


Pat is the author of many books, including Has A Donkey Ever Brought You Breakfast In Bed, and her blog can be found at Pat's Blog.

And just in case you are wondering where I get my beautiful, free, clip-art,  I use the excellent work of Phillip Martin. So be sure to stop by his lovely site as well.

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Reading Levels Can Be Difficult To Pin Down

Reading levels, can at times, be difficult pin down. When I wrote my book, Fern Valley, I had no particular age range in mind. However, I did write it knowing that it was not for the under five crowd. When I paid to have it professionally critiqued before publication, the person doing the critique, suggested that it was suitable for children seven to eleven, which seemed appropriate to me. When Fern Valley actually became published and was set up on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, there was no seven to eleven category. Thus,  I settled for the eight to twelve range.

In the two years that it has been available, many people have left me nice reviews with varying opinions as to the correct age range of children who might be interested in reading the stories. I had one woman, a teacher, suggest that it was most suitable for kindergarten or first grade students and no older. I had one reviewer suggest that it was a lovely book that would make a good read aloud for beginning readers because of the more difficult vocabulary, a silent read for slightly more advanced readers around third or fourth grade, and a possible read aloud for fifth and sixth graders who might not want to read it but might still like to listen to it being read.

I have had parents and grandparents tell me my book worked well for their children who were five, six, and seven because the short stories kept their short attention span and that they worked especially well as bed time stories. I have had nine year old children send me letters and e-mails  telling me how much they enjoyed the book. I even had one parent who commented that the nine year old for whom she purchased the book enjoyed it so much she gave it to her twelve year old sister too read. The twelve year old then gave it to the seventeen year old sister who admitted it wasn't too bad, causing the mother to proclaim she just might read it next. Which reminds me that I also have a group of lovely ladies in their sixties and seventies that bought my book for themselves.

At book fairs and craft shows, I have had pre-teens, around ten to twelve, look at my book as if it were for babies and others who picked it up with interest. All these different opinions lead me to the conclusion that age ranges are not facts written in stone. They are not positive indicators of who will or will not enjoy my stories. What they are, are guidelines. If you see that a book is rated at the age range of eight to twelve, it would be reasonable to assume a two year old would not sit still long enough to finish even one story. You could also assume that most teenagers would rather read something a bit more challenging. 

But that leaves all those children between the ages of five and twelve who just might be interested in my book depending on their reading skills, their maturity, their love of good literature no matter what level it's written at, and their book buying adult's willingness to purchase it and take a chance.

I don't know about you, but I think those are odds I can live with.

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

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Busy Season and Some Change

This Year has been a busy year for me. I have been participating in our town's Farm Market every Saturday. My book sales were pretty good at the beginning of summer, but I wanted to offer something other then my book. It took me a few tries and several recipes and crafts to find my perfect niche, but I finally managed to pick some winners. I started making home made granola,  mini loaves of quick breads (zucchini, banana, and pumpkin) as well as mini tarts (apple, pumpkin, raspberry. peach, lemon, and strawberry).

I have enjoyed these Saturdays mingling with the community and other vendors who have come to seem like an extended sort of family, but I must admit all the baking is quite tiring. I have also been attending practice at my local library for the Mystery Dinner Theater I am going to be participating in. I always wanted to attend one of those events and never imagined I would one day be one of the players. I also continue to be in charge of the children's display case which is a very fun and creative outlet.

And then of course, school started. Not only am I  now getting my daughter ready every morning and making sure she does her homework every evening, but I am also the room mother and the person in charge of the Christmas Snack Bar that is held every year for the wonderful staff. Add to the mix the fact that third grade seems to have some kind of event or two every month. So far we have had a walk-a-thon, and we are getting ready to go to the Bird Sanctuary.

Now the Farm Market has ended (Yesterday was the final day), and I am getting ready for the craft fair season. I have Barbie quilts and pillows ready, homemade granola, and of course copies of Fern Valley. With Christmas just around the corner, I have thrown some shopping into the mix, scouring all the clearance sales that occurred this summer. I managed to hit a super fantastic clearance at Target where I snagged enough good deals to take care of my daughter for Christmas, her January Birthday, and all the birthdays for the girls in her class.

Unexpectedly we had some change at our home as well. The kind of good change that makes you just want to smile and thank the good Lord above. My husband received a job transfer from second shift to first shift. Now he can eat dinner with us and see our daughter for more then just three weekends a month. Although a most wonderful blessing, our new schedule and eating habits are taking a bit of time to which to adjust.

And lest I forget, I have been participating in the Intuit Big Game Contest. The prize is a Superbowl commercial. I realize it's a lofty goal to win something as spectacular as a Superbowl commercial, but I figure with a little hard work on my part, I have the same chance as everyone else. So if you have a moment to spare out of your schedule (which I am sure is as busy as mine), please stop by and look at my video and vote for me and help me make it to round three.

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

Friday, September 13, 2013

When In Doubt Make French Toast

This summer I have diligently set up a table every Saturday Morning at my local farmer's market (except for the Saturday when I was at a Children's Festival in Michigan) where I have offered up my books and assorted other items for sale to the general public.

Books aside, it took me a while to find niche. I tried peanut butter fudge, peanut butter cookies, succulents (which actually sold pretty well), barbie quilts, and home made granola (which sold moderately well). But it wasn't until I started making quick breads and tarts that I finally found what the public appreciated.

I started making banana bread, pumpkin bread, and zucchini bread all of which are moist and delicious and keep the consumers coming back for more. However, the bread of choice seems to be zucchini, so I always make a double batch. This week was no exception. As I began mixing ingredients, I doubled everything as I went. Six eggs instead of three, four cups of  zucchini instead of two, and so forth. At least I thought I doubled everything.

When I pulled the freshly baked treat out of the oven it seemed an odd color and not the beautiful golden brown to which I was accustomed. It also seemed kind of dry and springy instead of dense and moist like usual. As I looked over my recipe to see what in the world I could possibly have omitted or added in excess, I realized I had doubled absolutely everything except the sugar. Who knew that too little sugar could wreak such havoc on a bread's color and moisture content.

Anyway, now there I was with eight mini loaves of bread that I knew I could not possibly offer my discerning public. What was a girl to do except make another double batch (sigh). Thankfully my next double batch turned out perfectly, but I still had a dilemma: How was I going to use all  that extra not so great bread? Well, this morning as I readied to take my daughter to school, I thought I could possibly turn some of it into french toast.  So with gusto I grabbed an egg, some cinnamon, and some milk and whisked it thoroughly before slicing and dipping the zucchini bread. Then into a fry pan sizzling with melted butter they went.

When they were golden brown, I removed the slices and poured on fresh maple syrup my husband's nephew made. And just in case you are wondering, yes it was good. Maybe not as good as regular french toast, or the french toast I made one Easter with home made egg bread that my family didn't like; but it was very highly edible. So now I am down to seven mini loaves of not so great zucchini bread. Maybe I can talk my husband into having some less sweetened, slightly drier bread with his morning coffee. If not, I see many a morning with french toast on the menu.

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

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Up-Cycling Is Awesome

Recently I had been making Barbie quilts and pillows to sell at our local Farmer's Market, and that made me wonder if there were some patterns online to make Barbie beds. I had wooden beds in mind, but what I found was an article on making a bed from ordinary items like rectangular baskets and garden edging. The article called it up-cycling, which is basically a fancy term for recycling, re-using, refurbishing, and so forth.

This was exciting because I  have been doing that my whole life. When I was very young, I painted an old wooden crate that had a divider in the middle and I used it for a refrigerator. I saved chocolate syrup bottles, egg cartons, orange juice containers, and whatever I could find and made myself some food to put in my fridge. Then I took a box and made a stove complete with four burners drawn on with permanent marker. I had lots of fun with my homemade kitchen even though it wasn't as fancy as the pre-made one my daughter had when she was small.

As an adult my love of re-using things never diminished. I save almost everything from cards to cardboard. When my daughter was about five, I used large sheets of cardboard to make jungle scene for her birthday. My husband also brought me home brown paper from work that I crinkled to make vines.

One of my favorite up-cycled items, however, was an old washtub which I turned into a planter complete with an attached watering can. I also have several smaller tubs, which I painted, and turned into planters as well.

So, after reading the article,  I was once again struck with the urge to creatively recycle. I set off to the thrift store in search of the aforementioned basket but all I could find were round baskets or baskets with large handles. As I roamed the remaining aisles,I spotted a small brass rack, possibly a cd rack, that I knew would make a perfect Barbie day bed for my daughter's Barbies. And even better then that, it was only a dollar forty nine. I quickly snatched it up and headed for home.

Once home I asked my husband to remove the little divider handle that held the cd's up and then I set about to make a small mattress, quilt, and pillows. Having been formerly into patchwork quilting, I had heaps of fabric and batting scraps to choose from. It turned out quite well and the only thinig I'm sorry about is that I didn't find a few more cd racks just like it.

Do you up-cycle? If so, what is your favorite new creation. And if you have never up-cycled before, what are you waiting for?

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

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blog Hop...hop...hop... Apology Version

As you all know authors are a crazy lot. Recently when my good friend and totally awesome author, Laura Eckroat, invited me to blog hop with her, I completely forgot. No excuse other then the fact that I can be a scatter brain.

I found out about my blunder when I posted an article for a blog hop to which I was invited yesterday. Laura kindly re-tweeted it, and then asked if I was supposed to be hopping with her. You can well imagine my mortification when I realized what I had done. So here and now, I would like to publicly apologize for my unintentional over-site. I would also like to post what should have been posted two weeks ago.

In addition, I want to thank Laura host of  The Books of Laura Eckroat Blog for not only inviting me, but for continuing to speak to me. Laura is not only forgiving, she is one of my favorite modern day children's authors. I have read both her first book, The Life Of Bud which is an excellent story of the seasons of life as experienced by a leaf, and her second book, A Simpler Time which is the story of a mother and daughter who take time out from the hustle and bustle of  everyday life and all it's complicated technologies to enjoy the simple things. Laura has two other books about the dog she adopted which you should check out as well!

With apologies out of the way, let me take a moment to start hopping. The blog hop rules are simple. Each author answers four questions and invites three other authors to participate during the following week. My author invitations  have gone out to three very entertaining and talented authors. You will see their names, book titles and links to their sites below.

But before we get to that, I will attempt to answer those blog hop questions!

 1) What am I working on right now?

This very morning I started a PB about a pig named Percy which I intend to call Percy The Pig Takes A Bath. A friend of mine, who owns a pot bellied pig, was telling me the other day about her pig, Percy, who doesn't like to get dirty. She jokingly told me I could use any of her stories as material for my books, and so I took her up on it. The concept is that Percy is jealous of the Farmer's children who are always clean. He doesn't like to get dirty or roll in the mud like the other pigs and therefore, the other pigs make fun of him. In the end Percy;s dreams will come true, however, and he will get to take a bath!

 2) How do my works differ from other works in it's genre?

This is such a hard question to answer because people have written about pigs before, people have written about jealousy, and being made fun of, and pretty much anything that can be written about. So I'd have to say it is the creation of my characters and their individual personalities that sets my work apart. My only published work so far, Fern Valley - A Collection of Short Stories, also differs in that most people write either picture books or chapter books but rarely collections.

 3) Why do you write what you do?

I write children's fiction because it is my true literary love. I have never outgrown the awe I feel when I read a good children's book and I hope I never do!

 4) How does your writing process work?

I don't really have a process. I get an idea and I write. I don't write every day like many people suggest all authors should. I write until I run out of things to say and then I take a break. When something new penetrates my brain, I write some more. Sometimes I leave a project for several months, but when I lovingly come back to ten it again I am usually full of fresh ideas.

Now that you all know me a little better, I'd like to introduce my three fellow hoppers...

My first hopper is Dicy McCullough author of several children's books of which my favorite is Tired of My Bath. She is a retired music teacher who has turned her talents to writing books that encourage children. Please stop by her Dicey McCullough Blog this Tuesday when she answers her own four questions and leave her some comment love!

My next hopper is Alyssa Pierce author of the Caroline and Rebecca series. I haven't yet read the second book in the series, but I enjoyed the first book Caroline And Rebecca: Rebecca Gets In Trouble very much. Alyssa is currently blogless, something she is working on rectifying, so just stop by her FB page Alyssa Pierce, and leave her some comment love anytime this week!

And last, but certainly not least, is my third hopper Charline Profiri author of  Guess Who's In The Dessert.and Counting Little Gekos. An Award-winning children's author, Charline Profiri is a former teacher and a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her board book Counting Little Gekos has sold over 49,000 copies. Soon to be available, her book  Rain, Rain, Stay Today: Southwestern Nursery Rhymes will debut in 2014. Charline also lacks a blog so be sure to hop on over to her FB page Charline Profiri and give her some comment love any time this week as well.

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

Children's Author Blog Hop

I'd like to welcome everyone to the Children's Author Blog Hop where I will be introducing some sensational children's authors you might not know yet, but should be reading!

A hearty thanks to author Phyllis Griggs at Indie Chatter Blogspot for  inviting me to participate. Phyllis is the author of  Bob Beetle Book Bug and is an avid promoter of  giving children the gift of reading. Please be sure to stop by Phyllis's blog and give her some great comment love.

The blog hop rules are simple. Each author answers four questions and invites three other children’s authors to participate during the following week. My author invitations  have gone out to three very entertaining and talented authors. You will see their names, book titles and links to their sites below.

But before we get to that,  it is my job is to answer those blog hop questions!

What are you working on right now?

Currently I  am working on a YA Mystery with just a touch of romance, titled Anchovia's Quest. It is quite a departure from the middle grade chapter books and picture books I have been working on recently, and will probably take me considerably longer to finish.

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

It differs in that it will be a clean YA read. There will be no sex, no graphic violence, and no vampires, wizards, or zombies. The premise is that a teenage orphan named Anchovia longs to know something about who she is and  from where she has come. On her quest to find answers, she makes a new friend who aids her in her search for the truth. A truth, that is quite different then anything she ever imagined possible.

Why do you write what you do?

I write children's books because I have never outgrown my love of children's literature. I write children's books because I want children to know that "Kids Who Read Can Do Anything!"

What is the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part about writing is actually what I have to do after I am done writing, and that is to market myself, my manuscripts, and my already published book Fern Valley - A Collection of Short Stories. Facing rejection from agents and publishers is a disheartening but necessary evil, and trying to get people interested in my book is hard work indeed. But I am a persist ant soul  and just too stubborn to give up anytime soon!

Now that you all know me a little better, I'd like to introduce my three invitees...

My first author invitation went to Lisa Tortorello. I met Lisa at an author expo we both attended a few years ago, and we exchanged books. Her first book My Hero, My Ding was a memoir about the relationship between her and her Grandfather. It made me laugh and cry, and is still by far one of my favorite non-fiction reads. Lisa then went on to write a children's book called Moose At The Manger. She is currently in the process of having her second children's book published, but I will let her tell you all about that on Monday when she posts at her blog Lisa Tortorello ~ Author and Teacher.

My second invitation went to the the multi talented Bruce Hale. Bruce was nominated for an Edgar Award and is passionate about inspiring reluctant readers to read. He has written or illustrated more than 25 seriously funny books for children, including the popular Chet Gecko Mysteries series and the comics-novel hybrid, Underwhere, as well as picture books like Snoring Beauty. His most current offering is Clark The Shark whose cover alone makes me want to read it. Be sure to stop by Bruce's Blog on Wednesday of Thursday when he will be answering his four questions.


And last but not least, is my third invitee,  Amberly Kristin Clowe, who is known to friends as Krissy Clowe. Krissy is the author of  I Really Love You, Ava. Not that long ago Krissy asked me if I would be willing to give her an honest review. I managed to squeeze this cute picture book into my lineup and was very glad that I did. I Really Love You, Ava is an extremely well written book about a little girl searching for real love. Her mother tells her she will know it when she sees it and Ava does just that. I loved the concept of Ava not just hearing that people loved her, but that she was able to identify love when she saw it. I hope to see more books by Krissy in the near future. Please stop by her blog The Brain of A Children's Author this Friday and find out just what goes on inside her brain.

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Creativity Takes Many Forms

As you all know, I am a children's author, but I have many other passions as well. I love cooking, geocatching, bird watching, putting together puzzles, sewing, genealogy, crafting, reading, gardening, and photography, to name a few. All of these things seem to spark my creative juices, but I have to admit, photography and writing are my two favorites. When I write, I string together words in such a way as to fashion a mental picture (a picture that may be different for each individual reader); and with photography, I  tell a story without any words. Sometimes, I even combine the two.

That being said, I just wanted to share some of my favorite 2013 summer pictures. And thank you to the friend who said the wagon wheel photo was a framer, because that is exactly what I thought.



I am curious to know what story you think my pictures tell and what you think they say about me as a person. So jump right in and leave some comment love.

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