Saturday, March 29, 2008

Three


Three "no thanks" to three different manuscripts this week. What do you do when you run out of publishers to submit to? I think I'll file them then someday, when I'm gone and forgotten, someone will discover them and say "Now why were these lovely stories not published" and they'll publish them and the books will make the NY Times Best Sellers List.


Well! Dreams are free.


Oh, how sweet. Two birds outside my writing room window are "twitterpated" to use a term from BAMBI. Life goes on.


On a happier note, REBEL IN BLUE JEANS is listed for preorder at Barnes and Noble online. It's due out in late June. Yay!


Also, I'd like to invite everyone to visit the "Writing for Children Blogfest" from March 31 to April 5. http://thewritingjungle.blogspot.com/Meet writers and read reviews. Leave a comment and be entered to win a free e-book. We'll have a great time, so join us. (Actually it's already started.)


Have a good weekend. Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reading

Reading is one of my favorite things to do. This wasn't always true. When I was a child, I hated to read. I'm not sure why. I was a good student in school, but don't recall loving to go to the library to check out books to read for enjoyment. Perhaps to write a report, but otherwise the library was not a part of my life. I would say, and I'm not blaming anyone simply stating the facts, that my lack of enthusiasm for books was because reading was not a priority in my home. My parents worked hard to feed my sister and me and to provide our needs. But that's not a valid point. The lack of reading material did not affect my sister. She loved to read: Nancy Drew, horse books, Bobbsey Twins. (I need to read some of those stories one day.) I suppose it's something inside each of us that determines our preferences. If we want to read we will.


When others talk about the books they loved as a child, I'm blank. I have none. Fairy tales fascinated me though. Every Saturday morning I'd listen on the radio (we had no TV until I was in high school) to a program called "Let's Pretend". There I met Cinderella, Snow White, and other fantasy characters.The first novel I remember enjoying and not reading to write a book report on is Gone With the Wind. It's still my favorite.


Fast forward a few years. Today, a stack of books at least a foot high sit on my bedside table, waiting their turn for me to devour their contents. Another stack of magazines patiently wait in the den. The carpet waits to be vacuumed. The kitchen waits to be mopped. The furniture waits to be dusted and clothes wait to be washed. As for cooking--maybe I'll get around to it, after I've finished that book.


Thanks for strolling down memory lane with me today.


Happy reading to you all.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Book Review


Jennifer Barret has a simple life. She and her father live with their dog Chopin in the countryside. Jennifer's father is a molecular biologist and hopes to discover some of the world's most life saving vaccines through studying plants. But her simple life has suddenly gotten very complicated, for it seems her father's work involves much more than simple plants.



Jennifer's entire world changes with one car ride. Her father, Sam, comes home and promptly drags Jennifer out of the house and into his pickup. They drive on until they are run off the road and her father is taken against his will. Jennifer flees the scene and runs into a boy named Casey, a runaway in search of his absentee father. Now Jennifer finds herself in a land of confusion. Who took her father? Is he still alive? Is anyone who they say they are? And who should she trust?



SECRETS I HAVE KEPT is a good book for anyone, but is particularly suited to younger teens. The plot is well developed, perfectly paced and suspenseful with a sweet romance. While the dialogue is slightly melodramatic at times, the characters are realistic and they mature as the story progresses. As far as mysteries go, SECRETS I HAVE KEPT is a satisfying read and a great choice, especially for preteens.



Amanda Roberts for Romance Reviews Today


Trade paperback available at Amazon.com

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Endings and Publishers Weekly

As I drove home from the supermarket yesterday, the ending to my ya wip came to me. I hadn't really been thinking about it because I'm still several chapters from wrapping it up. But I knew it could be better, just hadn't decided how to improve it. Now, I think I have it. We'll see.


My Publishers Weekly children's edtion arrived yesterday, too. Skimming through it I saw such great covers and now I have so many books I want to read. As if I didn't have them before.


In my shopping, I stopped by our Hastings and talked with the bookstore manager awhile. She is so sweet. And she loves kids books. I noticed they had moved the teen section to the FRONT OF THE STORE away from the children's section where it had been. Now people can see them easily. Of course I bought a couple of books. That's why we go to a bookstore, right? I also mentioned my forthcoming book which I hope to have a signing for, whenever.


Have a good Wednesday and rest of the week.


Happy reading and writing.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Letters Then, E-mail Now







Then:


When I was a teen, we sent bought or homemade thank you cards for gifts received. We mailed birthday, Valentine, Easter, and Christmas cards to friends and family. We signed them with our name and perhaps a note inside telling what we'd been doing. We also wrote letters. On paper. With pen. My favorite letters to write were to my penpals in England, Germany, and Japan. They sent postcards that told me a lot about their city and country, more than I ever got out of a history book. The responses took a week or longer to arrive. My penpal in Japan and I corresponded for many years. He sent me beautiful gifts. See the photos. I sent him Texas stuff, I can't recall exactly what now. But I wonder if he still has any of them. Or am I the only pack rat?


When I taught third grade, one of my students had an aunt who taught in California. My students started writing penpal letters to her class, and it was so much fun to learn about the kids in another state. They sent us California stuff: a book about the redwood trees, along with a sample, and pictures of their class. We sent them bluebonnet seeds, of course, and other items that have slipped my mind. It was a wonderful experience for both groups of children. For this teacher, too.


John Adams, 1765, said "Let us dare to read, think, speak and write." You may have noticed this statement on your postal receipt. Check out the Website to see links to his letters to Abigail Adams. http://www.poweroftheletter.com/


Now: We e-mail cards for all occassions. Some of them play music; some have little characters that dance and sing. We e-mail letters and can receive a response in a matter of minutes. But the form of the letter has changed. We abbreviate words, or use computer language, except for me because I haven't a clue. I know LOL, and that's about it. Times change, and I've met some wonderful people in countries all over the world through the Internet. E-mail saves postage. E-mail is faster. But e-mail sent to everyone in your address book is impersonal. So make those messages personal to each individual, unless it's a "fun" thing.


There is room for both in our world. An occasional letter or card on paper is a nice touch. Otherwise, future generations won't have the lovely reminders of birthdays, anniversaries, and family memories that only the printed word can bring.


Happy Writing Everyone.






Saturday, March 1, 2008

Review and Interview

Jennifer Porter recently reviewed my book LISTEN TO THE GHOST. Here's what she had to say.


Listen to the Ghost is about a 17 year old girl, Jade, who is haunted by a young woman, Phoebe, in Jade’s grandparents’ Victorian home in Charleston, South Carolina. Four teenagers are staying in the house for the summer while the grandparents are gone. Jade is an artist and displays her work in the local art fair; she has brought her bestfriend Elaine along with her and Jade’s older brother is in charge.


Phoebe the ghost will be a restless wandering spirit for all eternity if Jade does not find the linking wedding rings lost on Phoebe’s wedding day. A day that ended in tragedy.
Jade is also recovering from a painful breakup, and McClure does a wonderful job of crafting a tender new love story as Jade falls for the fourth teenage house sitter, Matt, one of her older brother’s friends. To make the situation more complicated, the ex-boyfriend appears later in the story as an obsessed and dangerous stalker.


Listen to the Ghost is a fun romantic ghost story. The dialogue flows clear and natural and the characters all have depth to them. Jade is not only an artist but also an athlete. But I have to emphasize fun ghost story. If you are looking for scary or realistic in terms of common knowledge about how ghosts haunt and the experiences people have when haunted, you will be disappointed with the book. While there are elements of what is known to happen in a haunting — the cold sensation, footsteps, chime-like noises, the other elements are more comical than anything else – the ghost throws food, she appears as a pink cloud, she can take on human form and speak.


The story held me though because McClure does provide us with the interesting mystery of the linking rings and the marriage that never was because of the tragedy that unfolded. And while at times the characters speak and act as if they are significantly older, they are likable and interesting. I would do anything to have teenagers like these ones in my house; they clean up, get up early in the morning, and are amazingly responsible and level-headed. The ideal of what we all hope our teenagers would be when on their own.


I recommend the book for younger teenagers or those looking for a clean, safe teen paranormal romance. There is a lack of technology in the characters’ lives, no cell phones, home computers, lap tops, etc but it retains a contemporary feel to it. And it is well-written and well paced.


Beverly Stowe McClure is from Texas. She was an elementary school teacher for 22 years and mother to four sons. She is a great-grandmother.


Other published works:
Caves, Cannons and Crinolines- a civil war YA historical fiction available in trade paperback in 2008
Secrets I Have Kept – YA adventure story, available as e book or paperback
Rebel in Blue Jeans- YA fiction available as an e book from Twilight Times


I am very lucky to have Beverly in one of my critque groups and she is kind enough to answer some questions for me:


1) When did you start writing to get published?
I started writing around 1990 when I took a writing course from The Institute of Children’s Literature.


2) You won “Conservation Teacher of the Year” in 1988?
In Texas we have districts for Soil and Water Conversation. Each year the state holds contests for students. Older students write essays, while the younger children make posters on some form of conservation. The best posters win ribbons. The districts also select a Conservation Teacher of the Year. In 1998, our Wichita S.W.C.D. chose me. I felt honored and still have my engraved plaque.


3) How would you suggest someone begin writing to get published?
I think this would be up to each individual. What works for one person might not work for another. But for most everyone, I believe you should learn as much about writing as possible. Read books about how to write young adult or picture books or whatever your preference is. Read books for enjoyment: fiction, nonfiction, books for all ages. Read more books. See what keeps you turning the pages? Then write what’s in your heart. Write your story. Have it critiqued. Make it the best you can.


4) What advice would you give writers trying to break into magazines?
Read back issues of the magazines you’re interested in submitting to. Study their writers’ guidelines. Make sure your story or article is what they publish. Polish your short story. Make every word count because word limits are usually between 500 – 1000 words, maybe more or less, depending on the age of the readers of the magazine.


5) You said you’ve discovered many interesting ancestors in your genealogy research. Would you share with us about some of what you have found?
Well, a distant cousin I met in Tennessee informed me we were of royalty. (See my head swell.) She had traced our family back to King John, who signed the Magna Carta. Okay, that wasn’t so good since he was a very bad king. He tried to take the throne away from his brother, Richard 1 (Richard the Lionhearted), without success. But then Richard died, and John became the king. (My head shrunk a size.)


Then my cousin informed me we went back to Charlemagne. Now that was good, right? He was the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. He’s well known in history. However, I discovered that probably half the world descended from Charlemagne, since he lived so many generations ago. (Head is back to normal size now.)


The best things I discovered in genealogy were old photos of my grandfather and great-grandmother and other family members.


6) How were you able to cope with the loss of your son (and a granddaughter)?
My faith in God is strong, and I know that someday I’ll see our son and granddaughter again. This doesn’t mean it was easy. We grieved. Every time I saw a baby, I was sad and wondered why. I still don’t know why; God does.


7) Why do you think you hated reading and writing as a child and how did that impact you as a teacher?
To this day, I’m not certain why I hated to read and write. Books were not a priority in our home, but my sister read, so I guess that’s no excuse. I did love to listen to “fairy tales” on the radio. Yes, this was before TV. I loved to play the piano, and I loved music and being a majorette in the band. Maybe I just didn’t have time for reading and writing.


My love for reading started when I read Dr. Seuss to my sons. Who could not love his stories? Then my students and I read Newbery winners. Wow! Such great writing. I wanted my students to enjoy reading instead of being like I was at their age—clueless to the excitement found in a good book. So we read together and discovered the joy of reading.


8) You say it took 12 years to really get something published, what do you think held your writing back from being published during that time? What was the key to changing that around?
In truth, my writing was bad at first. But I kept at it and improved until one day I sold an article. The key was never giving up and working hard.


Thanks, Beverly!!!
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