Saturday, August 30, 2014


Today would have been your 75th birthday.
Though we're now apart we'll always be together in our hearts.
Tiger says "Hi."

Friday, August 29, 2014


I was so busy having fun last night I forgot to post for today. Better late than never, right? So, edits for my forthcoming MG/Tween contemporary, I LIVE IN A DOGHOUSE, are almost complete. Watch for it in December, 2014. Hope to have a cover to share soon.
Also, I'm touring A PIRATE, A BLOCKADE RUNNER, AND A CAT in September. More about that soon. Today is the last day to pick up a copy for .99 at MuseItUpPublishing or at Amazon.
As for the Texas Rangers, well, one game they're great, the next game I could do better, and I'm not an athlete. They're still my team, I just wish I could give the guy that did all the trading off of the best players (that are doing a super job with their new teams) a piece of my mind, but I don't have any to spare.
God sent beautiful rain to us last night. Thunder, lightning, the works. I haven't heard if it was enough to add water to the lakes or not.
Have a wonderful weekend. Happy reading and writing.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Monday Musings
I bought a new camera because I wanted one that could take longer distance shots. My little Canon is great for close ups so now I can take both. The new one is a lot more complicated but I will figure it out.
Today, my guest is Award Winning Author Donna M. McDine. I also call her my Cyber Daughter. Donna has written an interesting post about research. Enjoy.
Which Requires More Research, Historical Fiction or Fiction?
From a youngster I’ve always enjoyed reading about history, especially Abraham Lincoln. And looking back to my first published children’s book, it came as no surprise to my parents that I gravitated toward the Underground Railroad. I have always been fascinated by history, even to this day when I read the Daily News recap of New York City history I jot down notes of points that interest me. Hey, you never know what can be developed into a historical fiction manuscript.
Now that I have four children’s book published, two historical fiction (The Golden Pathway and Powder Monkey) and two fiction (Hockey Agony and A Sandy Grave) an often asked question is… Which requires more research, historical fiction or fiction? I absolutely love this question. The research aspect may not be equal for the two, but both do require research.
For instance…
The Golden Pathway, I immersed myself with everything about the Underground Railroad and slavery. From the Underground Code words, to the treatment of slaves and not everyone believed in slavery. As I was researching this in-depth topic I wrote notes as to how I envisioned the fictional characters story to be betrayed, from their names, surroundings, and mannerisms to eventually pulling together for the sake of freedom.
Powder Monkey is based on the press gangs of the 1800’s Royal Navy.  My research on this topic astounded me from the onset since I never knew about this part of world history. Boys’ as young as twelve were kidnapped from their families and forced to work on ships, often times never reuniting with their families. Truly a heart wrenching time period. Creating characters that are true to the time period of history can be tricky and it helps my writing process to search images from that particular time period.
Even though a fiction story is made up from the imagination, research is necessary to stay true to the subject matter.
Hockey Agony is based around peer pressure, bullying, and hockey. For the hockey aspect, I needed to conduct research of rules of the game, what a zamboni is, arena setup, etc. Once I created the story and character outlines it was then time to research all things hockey to stay authentic to the game.
A Sandy Grave, I conducted research for marine biology and the Endangered Species Act and the Mammal Protection Act to make sure I had the rules and regulations down pat. Then blending in everything I enjoy about the beach, intertwined an unusual beach adventure.
The difficult part for me in researching and writing historical fiction is to stop the research and get down to the nitty-gritty of writing the first draft. In writing fiction, once I have a story and character outline created (yes, I interview my characters with specific questions to see how they would react in certain circumstances) I begin my first draft. This process brings my characters to life for me and hopefully for the reader.
If you are a writer I’d enjoyed hearing about your experience as a writer. And if you are an avid reader, what do you enjoy reading more, historical fiction or fiction?
Bev, thanks for hosting me today. I look forward to interacting with visitors.
Bio: Multi award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine’s creative side laid dormant for many years until her desire to write sparked in 2007. With four early reader children’s picture books to her credit, A Sandy Grave (January 2014), Powder Monkey (May 2013), Hockey Agony (January 2013) and The Golden Pathway (August 2010) and a fifth book in the publishing pipeline with Guardian Angel Publishing her adventures continue as she ignites the curiosity of children through reading. She writes and moms from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI. Visit Donna at or
Happy Reading!

Friday, August 22, 2014

How to Change the World as a Children's Book Writer

Friday Fun
As writers for children and teens and even for adults, we can bring fun and excitement into the lives of our readers. Here's one way to do it. Read on. Thanks.
Home » Change the World » How to Change the World as a Children’s Book Writer
At, we’ve talked about the revolution taking place in publishing today. No longer do you, as an children’s book writer, have to wait months (or years!) for an editor to dig your manuscript out of the slush pile, and decide whether or not it should be published. Now you have options. You have the power to manage the process on your own. You can educate yourself on the craft of writing, you can hire a freelance editor to help get that work into publishable form, and you can easily publish it electronically or even in print. You control the marketing, and you reap the rewards.

But we also passionately believe that writing isn’t just about making money. It’s about changing the lives of children all over the world through books. As we wrote in The World is Now Ours. A Children’s Writing Mission for the 21st Century, you now have the ability to reach children across the globe with your writing. And what’s really exciting is that many of these children have never had a book of their own. Now, with the click of a button on a smartphone or e-reader, children in developing countries can have access to ideas, stories and information that can literally change their world. And you can be a part of it!

We’d like to introduce you to Worldreader, our first literacy partner. Worldreader is a non-profit on a mission to bring digital books to every child and his or her family, so that they can improve their lives. They provide e-readers to schools in developing countries, building on the digital platforms and mobile connectivity that’s already in place. Then they supply children with ebooks through an exclusive Worldreader Library.  To date they have reached readers in 37 countries, providing them with over 6,000 book titles in 23 languages. They are empowering children across the world with ebooks so that someday wide-spread illiteracy will be a thing of the past.

Here’s how you can support this terrific organization. First, you can click on the button below to make a monetary donation to Worldreader:

worldreader donate

Next, please share the Wordreader story on social media and among your friends.  They don’t have a big budget to get the word out and would really appreciate your help.

Finally, here’s something really exciting. Worldreader has invited CBI Insiders to donate stories to be published on the Worldreader platform and distributed worldwide to children who don’t have access to books!

Worldreader knows that Insiders are dedicated to creating quality books for children, and their work will be given priority in the submission process. If you’re an Insider, click here for more information and a link to an exclusive submission form.

(Not an Insider yet? Join us and make a difference!)

Now let’s go change the world!

Monday, August 18, 2014


Sunday, I saw three young scissor-tails in the mesquite tree.
A couple of cardinals and doves were also perched in the branches.
Their little beaks hung open. The temperature was 100.
I gave them fresh water.
Awhile back I spotlighted Mikki Sadil and her novels. Today I'm reviewing her MG/Tween novel CHEERS, CHOCOLATE, AND OTHER DISASTERS.
This is such a lovely cover and it hints at what's inside the book.
By Mikki Sadil
The middle school years. The years when one day you have a best friend, the next day your best friend has a different best friend. These are the years of confusion, when every event in your life is a major catastrophe. The years you want to forget.
Author Mikki Sadil’s MG/Tween e-novel, CHEERS, CHOCOLATE, AND OTHER DISASTERS, is a great example of the meaning of true friendship. Alyson Joanne, aka AJ and her best friends, Julie and Jaime, plan to try out for the cheerleading squad. Enter the new girl in school, Celine, and AJ’s once best friends are now Celine’s best friends, and they’ll try out together, leaving AJ on the team with losers Amberley and Lisa. Not only has AJ lost her best friends, her parents are getting a divorce, and her mare that she loves dearly comes down with the colic. That’s a lot for a girl to deal with.
The author has developed her characters realistically as AJ and the other girls struggle with the meaning of true friendship, their own identities, and the fact that some things in life are more important than cheerleading. As I read CHEERS, CHOCOLATE, AND OTHER DISASTERS, my thoughts went back to my middle grade years, the insecurities, the need for friends, and the disappointments when we didn’t make cheerleader or majorette or whatever else we wanted to be. Ms. Sadil’s story is about discovering what’s really important in life and understanding that things do not always turn out the way one hopes.
This book would make a great addition to middle-school libraries and classrooms as well as your home town library. And don’t forget your personal library.
From the time I published my first poem at age ten, and first short story two  years later, I’ve had a passion for writing. As so often happens when you are young, however, life got in the way and I didn’t write much during the years of college, marriage and children, university teaching, and a divorce and remarriage. After my husband and I retired from twenty-two years of breeding and training Appaloosa horses, I returned to writing. My stories and articles have been featured in national children’s magazines, in online magazines, in an educational website, and in an anthology of horror stories for teens. My debut novel, The Freedom Thief, came out in November, 2013, and is an historical adventure for boys (mostly) age ten to thirteen, set in pre-Civil War Kentucky.  Cheers, Chocolate, and Other Disasters is a contemporary novel about psychological bullying, and is for girls (mostly) age ten to thirteen.
 I live on the Central Coast of California with my awesome husband and our beloved zoo of one way-too-smart Corgi, Dylan, one fat Siamese, Mr. Beaujangles, and one bossy African Gray Parrot, Shadow.
Happy Reading.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Friday Fun
MuseItUp Publishing has started a Reading Club for you, our readers. Free ebooks. Here's how it works:
Exclusive Reading Community
Thank you for your interest in our  Exclusive MuseItUp Reading Community. 
If you are an avid reader and reviewer, and would like to read our upcoming releases and backlists, we invite you to join us. We have four imprints:
MuseItUp - for readers who enjoy our mainstream genres like mystery, sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, historical, romance (non-erotic) suspense thrillers, sagas
MuseItYoung -for readers interested in middle grade/tween books to share with their children, students, grandkids, etc.
MuseItYA - for readers interested in teen/YA/New Adult books in all genres
MuseItHOT - for readers who like a bit of spice or more on the HOT HOT HOT side

By requesting to join our reading community, all we ask in return are honest reviews in exchange for a free ecopy..

Our only guideline is to have a review finalized within 20 days, and to post on Amazon and/or Goodreads...and once again, honest reviews.

All of our ebooks are formatted to suit a variety of ereaders:
Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPhone, Sony, Samsung tablet, etc.
For more information about our Exclusive Reading Community, please email:

museauthors AT gmail DOT com
Subject heading: Reading Community
Looking forward to your participation.
Lea Schizas
Sounds like a deal to me. For more info. click here.
Happy Reading.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lois Lowry on Her Writing Process -- and the One Change She Would Make to The Giver

I'm running late this morning. Stayed up till midnight watching baseball. Rangers and Rays went into extra innings. Fourteen of them. I couldn't leave until the end. The Rangers lucked out. Bases loaded, a walk to win. They need a lot of luck to get through this season.
Anyhow, this is a great interview that Write for Kids posted and asked that we share. Have a good day.
Over our 25 years publishing Children’s Book Insider, we’ve given readers, aspiring authors and lovers of children’s literature the opportunity to interact directly with some of their favorite writers. The result: a number of revealing conversations with some remarkable authors. Here’s what happened some years back when our subscribers had the chance to ask the great Lois Lowry about her career — and the one change she would make to The Giver!
A two time Newbery Award winner (for Number the Stars and The Giver), Lois Lowry is among the most acclaimed writers of our time.  Noted for her willingness to challenge young readers with thought-provoking subjects, Ms. Lowry has taken on such subjects as the Holocaust, abortion, mental illness and our uncertain future.
1. How important is autobiography in your works?
Only two of my books - Autumn Street and A Summer to Die- are “autobiographical” in that they consciously use actual events, real people, from my childhood. But I think all fiction is autobiographical, really; all fiction draws upon the emotional history and experience of the writer. Marion Dane Bauer, in her book, A Writer’s Story, describes the fact that she was quite certain she had not ever written autobiographically. Then, on reflection, she discovered that she was re-playing an important emotional element of her own childhood again and again, in “fictional” book plots. I suspect that we all do that.
2. How do you lay out your stories? Do you have an ending before you start writing, or does it reveal itself to you as you write?
I am not a very well-organized writer. Beginnings come easily to me, but from there I usually start writing without a clear-cut idea of where I’m going. With the exception of the two autobiographical books I’ve mentioned (since their endings were preordained), I have usually simply started out on a journey along with the book characters, and the destination has been revealed to me along with them. I don’t recommend this as a writing method. But careful planning doesn’t work for me, as a writer. If I try to make an outline (and I have) – I usually lose interest in the book while I’m writing it, I think because my creative energy has gone into the outline. A lot of the fun and excitement of writing, for me, is because of the surprise of it: each day in the creation of a book is a new adventure for me, and that wouldn’t be true if I had a set of index cards telling me what was supposed to happen next.
3. The Giver examines the conflict of maintaining the security of the status quo versus risk-taking. Authors often resolve their own conflicts through their writing. How has this conflict affected your life?
Well, let me say right up front that I am a coward. Risk-taking doesn’t appeal to me much. Perhaps that’s why I liked the exploration of that theme when I was writing The Giver. However, it is also true that cowardly though I am, I have ventured into the world of risk in my own life from time to time. In 1977 I left a marriage of 21 years, left a 12-room house (and a housekeeper!) and moved into a 3-room furnished apartment over a garage in order to start a new life as a writer. I had no alimony, no inheritance, no income beyond what I could earn with words. It was a scary time for me. But I felt that there were no other options. I think it was a theme reflected also in Number the Stars, and actually laid out explicitly there in a conversation between Annemarie and Uncle Henrik, when he tells her that she risked her life and she replies, startled, that she hadn’t even been thinking about that; she’d only been thinking about what she had to do. The question of security/risk most often comes down not to courage but to necessity. You do what you have to do. I have, on occasion, and so have the characters, like Annemarie and Jonas, in my books. We all do, when it comes right down to it.
4. How do you get beyond just an idea. How does an idea become a story?
Some ideas don’t. Sometimes what seems like a wonderful starting point – a wonderful idea – turns out to be no more than an anecdote. You have to look beyond a “beginning” to see if there is any depth to it, any reason for sitting at a desk for month after month laboring over it, any reason for a publisher investing thousands of dollars into it, any reason for kids to pick it up and care about it. Does it have anything to say beyond the superficial? I think that’s the key, for me.
5. What do you think are the key elements when writing a book? When you have your ideas do you write a set plan of what will happen in the plot of the story?
I have occasionally listed the elements – each of them leading to the next – of a successful book as 1.character;; 3.complications and choices; 4. catastrophe; 5. conclusion and 6.change. I think most writers and teachers of writing would probably agree that some similar list applies. But – in my opinion – it doesn’t work to make the list and then try to create the story to fit it. You create the story first; later, you see how and where it fits the pattern; finally, you make the necessary revisions which will become apparent at that point. You may find, for example, that the catastrophic event(#4) – upon which the concluding events (#5)should be predicated – occurs too early. Or (and this is quite common a flaw) that the character, who should have experienced growth as a result of the events throughout the narrative, has not really undergone a change (#6).
6. I greatly admire your writing, and especially love your characters. What is your secret in creating characters that we the readers can so easily identify with? Do they come from within you, or are they compilations of children and/or people you know? Any advice for the aspiring writer who’s attempting to create well-developed characters?
Without the exception of the autobiographic books, all of my characters are made-up ones; but of course everything we imagine comes from everything we have ever known or experienced. Most of that is subconscious, of course; but when I “create” a character, he or she is really being born from the fragments of every similar person I have known, seen, or read about. I suppose there are tricks and rules for the creation of characters, but I don’t know what they are. It’s important to me that characters – even minor ones – be well-rounded. I remember a minor character inRabble Starkey – a grouchy elderly neighbor named Millie Bellows; I think I described her as having a “face like a fist.” She was not an important character – I was really using her only as a plot vehicle, and to reflect other characters – and she died midway through the book; but she began to become interesting to me. We’ve all known old ladies like her: embittered, unfulfilled, misanthropic. I liked creating her, with her baleful view of life, and all the details of her unhappy existence. But of course such misery arises from disappointments, and so I added them in, too: hints of tragedy in her earlier life. I think that’s the important thing: to keep in mind the causative factors that lie behind personality traits, and the motivations for human behavior. If you don’t, the characters will remain shallow; and no real person ever is.
7. I’ve read Autumn Street, and I wondered, was the part where Charles got killed taken from real life? If so, how do you write about painful events like that?
As I’ve said earlier, Autumn Street was autobiographical. But I changed many things. The childhood friend – the cook’s grandchild – was actually a girl. Her name was Gloria. The real Gloria was murdered, that was true. But the circumstances surrounding the death of the fictionalized child, Charles, were different from those of Gloria’s death. I could, actually, have written more accurately about the real events, though I would have had to do research because I don’t know many of the details. Would doing so have been painful for me?  Oddly, I think not. This is a very personal thing and perhaps would not be true for you, or for others. But I find it very freeing and healing to talk – or write – about painful things.
8. How do you know for certain when your story is done… perfect…flawless…? Is that only when it’s printed and bound between hard covers, or ??  Do you have a sense of completeness or closure when you are satisfied with a story you’ve been working on?
You never feel that a story is perfect or flawless. And it isn’t. I have never written a flawless book and never will. (And thank goodness; because if I did, why write another?) You simply begin to feel that it is done, or at least as done as you can make it. At that point I do feel a sense of satisfaction and completeness – but it’s a false sense, because if I read a published book six months later, or a year later – I then find things I wish I could change, things I feel I could make better. Hypothetically, then, if I held onto a manuscript for a year – didn’t give it to the publisher right away when I thought it “done” – I probably would see fixable flaws, revisions I’d want to make. But then what? Then I’d give it to the publisher – and a year after that, I’d read the published book, and AGAIN I’d see changes to be made. It could be a never-ending exercise. So the best thing to do is finish, call it done, turn it in, and go on to the next book.
9. What advice do you give to authors who would like to develop their writing voice? What suggestions do you have for creating self-discipline at writing?
As for “voice”: I feel that you should write a book as if you are writing a letter to a friend: telling about something interesting, something meaningful, that has happened. It should be an intimate and private telling, friend to friend. It should be YOU, laughing, crying, teasing, angry, relating events, inviting your close friend to pay attention, to empathize. That will be your voice, a recognizable one. The question about self-discipline is a tough one for me. I don’t think self-discipline is a problem if you are doing work that you love and that you feel is important. I can’t imagine anyplace that I’d rather be than right here, at my desk. I need self-discilpine to make me get up and take the dog for a walk, or to cook dinner!
10. What changes would you make to The Giver if you could?
I wouldn’t change the ending, despite so many requests for me to “explain” it (about 50% of my mail tells me they like the ending as is). I left it ambiguous on purpose, so that readers could bring their own thoughts to it. But I would make the final third of the book – from the place where Jonas rakes Gabriel and flees the community – longer. I think that the escape section should have been a whole complex story in itself; and as it is, it feels a little rushed to me. I was trying to keep the book under 200 pages. Now I think that was an unnecessary restriction that I placed on myself. On the other hand – if I had extended that section, made the book 250 pages long, it would not have been published until the next year. And so it would probably not have won the Newbery Medal, because Walk Two Moonswas published that next year, and so… I guess I was wise to quit when I did.
Happy Reading.