Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Review of Bubba and Giganto

Recently I reviewed Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us and am posting the review below in case you missed it:

Lea Schizas has written another page turner. Once I started reading about Bubba and David, AKA Giganto, I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it I’d read the whole story. I’m so glad I did.

Bubba (yes, Bubba, not Bobby or Brendan) Jacobson, tough guy, smart mouth, sensitive heart, and David (Giganto) Montana, nice guy, picked on by bullies, big and clumsy, are the least likely of friends. But when they meet on the first day of ninth grade a remarkable friendship is formed.

This is Bubba’s first year at Pierson High, and he’s delighted to discover they have a soccer team. Questions arise, however, when Bubba and David try out for the team. Why does Mr. Ambrose, the gym teacher, tell Bubba not to push David (Giganto) into something he doesn’t want to do? What is the secret about the boy who died during a soccer scrimmage the previous year? Is David (Giganto) connected to the tragedy? And why is Jason, all-star athlete with an attitude, so determined David doesn’t make the team?

Ms. Schizas is a master at surprise endings. Just when you think you know all the answers, she changes the questions with an unexpected twist or two. I never saw this one coming.

Themes of bullies, soccer, friendship, and forgiveness are woven through this short story, making it one boys can relate to and will enjoy reading. I recommend it for reluctant readers, children who perhaps are facing their own bullies, and also for sports lovers and everyone who enjoys a fast-paced book with continuous action.

Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us

I have the pleasure of interviewing multi-published, award winning author and editor Lea Schizas on her Virtual Book Tour for her latest book, Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us. Welcome, Lea. Bubba and Giganto is a story about two high school boys who must deal with bullying. This is a subject familiar to many young people who are challenged with the same or similar circumstances your characters face. Lea, would you and Bubba and Giganto give us your thoughts on the effects bullying has on a person’s, young or old, life? Let’s start with you, Lea.

Bev: Why did you choose this subject for your young adult novel? Is it personal or just something that aroused your interest?

Lea: It’s totally personal. My children had met up with several bullies during their elementary years and I met up with parents who did nothing about it. When confronted by me as to what was happening the parents found every excuse in the book to cover and protect their children. I find that is wrong. Teaching begins at home. I remember a time when a parent came to my house to tell me about a situation concerning one of my daughters and I brought my daughter in front to hear it. Why? To give her the chance to defend herself and see if there was a misunderstanding. It turns out it was a misunderstanding and the mother apologized for bothering us. However, I thanked the mother for having the courage to come to my house and making me aware of a possible situation I might have been able to intervene and guide my child.

There has always been one particular incident that has been in the back of my mind that sparked Bubba and Giganto: Odds Against Us. Although this event doesn’t have bearing to the novel, it does involve bullying. One of my twins, while in kindergarten, had a confrontation with a grade sixer. Have to explain that my girls have always and continue to be protectors of others. Anyway, this older child bothered another younger student and my daughter spoke up. After school, the older child grabbed a present my little one made for me for Mother’s Day at school, and broke it. She came home in tears. I immediately called the mother, told her what happened, and this was the Mother of the Year response: “I gave my daughter permission to beat yours up if she ever mouths off to her again.”
ME: “She’s in kindergarten. Your daughter is in Grade Six.”
Mother of the Year: “I don’t care. Your daughter needs to learn when to shut up.”

I’ve never forgotten that situation and I know that mother hasn’t either because she continues to cross the street whenever she sees me after the blasting she got from me. I guess she was never put in a situation where the other person defended themselves so her own bullying tactics came to an abrupt end where I was concerned.

Bev: Bubba, tell us how being picked on by other kids makes you feel.

Bubba: No one ever picked on me other than making fun of my name. I never let them continue. But it reallys irks me when I see bullies picking on kids who can’t defend themselves. That’s why I get into trouble all the time…I jump in to protect students and get slammed right in the midst of trouble. Would I change things? Heck no. I know it bothers my parents but they know I’m not the one starting things up.

Bev: Giganto, why do you think some kids bully others? Is it for attention, or to prove that they’re tough, or because they’re just mean kids?

Giganto: I don’t think they’re mean intentionally. They just don’t have guides to show them right or wrong. I’m sure it’s for attention, maybe the lack of attention from home and they bring that anger to school.

Bev: Lea, do you think teens will be better able to cope with the bullies in their lives after reading your book and seeing how Bubba and Giganto deal with them?

Lea: My aim is to show the hurt bullies inflict on others. There’s a danger zone they don’t realize they are forcing some students to enter. Bullying causes depression, a feeling of not being wanted, especially when you have several students surrounding you and all chanting on behalf of the bully. They do this because of fear of repercussion. If students realize the harm in this action then perhaps less bullying will pop up.

Bubba and Giganto take a less aggressive action to defend themselves but even this action is dangerous because the child who is bullied is hiding a secret.

Bev: Bubba, do you think a bully who reads this story might see him/herself as a bully and want to change his/her behavior?

Bubba: I’m really hoping. Life for Giganto was tough before I befriended him. I admit my approach wasn’t the best at the time but that was because Giganto was scared to admit something to me. That fear and keeping that secret scared the beegeebees out of me. I understand why he kept it but told him I’d kick his butt if he ever held something back from me again. He was scared students would add more insults if they found out what his secret was. It was bad enough they made fun of him for his size or wanting to be on the school soccer team. He kept thinking he’d be supplying them with more ammo for more name calling.

Bev: Giganto, what, in your opinion, is the best way to deal with someone who’s bullying you? Ignore them? Fight back? Tell a teacher or your parent? Other?

Giganto: I tried to ignore them but it was hard walking into school everyday and meeting up with the Bad Tag Team. There were only three kids but these kids ruled everyone so no one ever came to my defense. The few who did either were shoved in a locker or given a wedgie. So I avoided everyone. Never told my parents because I was afraid they’d come to school and make it worse for me. I see now that would have been the best thing to do and tell a teacher so maybe they could have put some sense into these kids.

Bev: Does anyone have anything else you’d like to add?

Lea: I just want to say that I’m very proud of Bubba and Giganto. Their adventure continues but this time another student with a disability is the target from new bullies and my heroes will try to intervene. However, one of them disappoints the other at some point.

Bubba: Only thing I want to say is to parents – please think twice before naming your child. I still can’t figure out why my parents couldn’t name me Bruce, or Bobby…Bubba?

Giganto: I want to thank Bubba – and I love your name – because he taught me more than soccer. He made me see what a fool I was holding back something very important that put my life in danger.

Bev: Thank you for giving your readers a glimpse into the effects bullying has had on your lives and what might help someone who’s tempted to pick on others to change their attitude. Now, Lea, what are your current projects?

Lea: I’m in the process writing a nonfiction book on autism with a co-writer, Litsa Kamateros. Also, two of my children’s picture books have been accepted for publication: Libby the Odd Squirrel to be published by 4RV Publishing and I Don’t Want A Haircut by Guardian Angel. I’m also currently working on several other novels for adults.

Bev: Where may your readers learn more about you and your work?

Lea: They can hop on over to my website: http://www.leaschizas.com/ and read what I’m involved with, find my other websites, groups, newsletters, and blogs.

Bev: Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your busy life.

Lea: Thank you for having us today, Beverly. We had a blast.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All Good Things Come to an End

This is the last week of my Virtual Book Tour. It's been fun. If you haven't had a chance to stop by some of the blogs, this is your time. Remember, post a comment and you might win a prize.

Jan. 26: Reading Mama
Jan. 26: Pop Syndicate
Jan. 28: Edgy Inspirational Author
Jan. 29: Virtual Book Tour
Jan. 30: Teens Read Too

See ya.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Interview with Donna M. McDine

Donna M. McDine is one of the most supportive, enthusiastic and energetic authors I know. As busy as she is with her writing, she takes the time to promote and inspire other writers, including me. I am delighted to interview Donna and have her share with us the exciting things that are happening in her career.

Bev: You are now the Marketing Manager at Stories for Children Magazine. How did this come about?

Donna: In the last several years I have attended numerous in-person writers’ conference and the last two Muse Online Writers Conferences. The success stories that I've been privy to when a writer finds success in finding an agent or publisher are exhilarating. I have often wondered: How can I make this happen? Are these events pipe dreams? I'm here to tell you, you can make these special connections happen and they do not need to be pipe dreams, but reality. While coasting through the cyber-space hallways at the 2008 Muse Online Writers Conference, I received a virtual tap on my shoulder and an unexpected surprise was presented to me. VS Grenier, founder and editor of Stories for Children Magazine presented me an offer to join her team, starting January 2009 as

Your attendance at conferences is indeed crucial to be put into the right place at the right time. You never know who has been watching your writing career from afar and may present themselves to you and offer a wonderful opportunity.

Go for it...market your writing career...the break you've been striving for may just be right around the next corner!

Bev: What are your responsibilities in this job?

Donna: My responsibilities include researching and contacting children’s writers and illustrators for the monthly Featured Guest interview, Media Releases, cross promotional and marketing efforts, and customer service inquiries.

Bev: In December, 2008, you also started your Write What Inspires You! Newsletter. What was your inspiration to publish this newsletter and what are your plans for future issues?

Donna: Since embarking on my writing career in 2007 I have continually read and heard about creating your platform. Not fully understanding what a platform is and how it can benefit your writing I began to pick many established writer’s brains via email and at conferences…particularly The Muse Online Writers Conference. After becoming inspired from the wealth of positive information I began to brainstorm ideas for creating my platform. I kept coming back to a newsletter. Since I have always been interested what other writers have to say I thought why not interviews with writers, but to expand it to interviews with editors and illustrators. The topics of the newsletter started to take a life of its own on and I expanded it to Book Reviews, Proclaim Your Successes Column and Reflections or Dreams column before the first issue debuted in December 2008. The Reflections or Dreams column is submission based and non-paying at this time. If you are interested in more details of the column please email me at: dmcdine@optonline.net with any questions you may have.

Bev: The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletins have mentioned many of your successes. Where do you get all of your ideas for these articles?

Donna: Many of my non-fiction articles have derived from a publications needs or theme list. Several of my fictional short stories are based on my children also…sssh…don’t tell them. Now that my oldest is a teenager she doesn’t appreciate it as much.

Bev: Do you have a favorite story or article you’ve written?

Donna: Hmm. The one non-fiction article that holds a special place in my heart is “The ‘Ghosts’ of the Night.” The idea came from a family vacation in The Outer Banks, NC. Each night the adults and children would head to the beach with flashlights to find ghost crabs.

Bev: Which do you prefer to write, fiction or non-fiction?

Donna: Tough question. Depending on my inspiration and the topic determines this for me. For non-fiction I enjoy the research process and discovering details I didn’t know before. For fiction when an idea and conflict comes to me I immediately begin writing my ideas and develop it from there. My notes and first draft are always written in long hand with my favorite Graf von Faber-Castell pen my family gave to me for my 40th birthday. I guard it and my family knows not to use it…it’s a quirk I have. Once I find a pen I love to write with, it’s mine only. I know, I know…we also tell our children not to be selfish…too bad on this one kids.

Bev: Besides your personal writing and your position as Marketing Manager, you have a couple of blogs. Can you give your readers a hint at how you organize your time?

Donna: Organization has always been a positive factor to me…even though my family and friends call me an “organization freak”. Hey, I could be called worse. I believe it comes from my 16 plus years working in Corporate America and juggling multiple bosses at any given time. I am a lists person by nature and I breakdown my To Do lists in categories, Must Do Today, Follow-up Today, Weekly Goals, Monthly Goals. At first in my writing career I did not follow suit and I did not write out my goals, but with the encouragement of an established author I began to. Once I did, my dreams and goals became clearer, which provided me with a focus for the day, week and month. Now to expand it to 6 months and yearly…haven’t gotten that far. You’ll see by Bev’s next question I needed to reflect on it for yet another tough question…just kidding Bev...your questions are terrific. Another important factor to stress is to treat your writing time as a job and show up.

Bev: What are your goals/plans for 2009?

Donna: Now that Bev has forced me to set my goals/plans for 2009…LOL…here goes:

1. Increase my opt-in subscriber list for my Write What Inspires You! Newsletter to 200.
2. Edit and resubmit my historical fiction manuscript entitled, “The Golden Pathway” for further consideration by the publisher.
3. Finally complete my middle grade manuscript, edit, submit.
4. Become an instrumental team member at Stories for Children Magazine
5. Network, network, network

Bev: Where can we learn more about your adventures in the writing and publishing world? Web site? Blog?

Donna: To find out more about my writing career please visit me at:
http://www.donnamcdine.com/ and http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com/

Sign my guestbook and receive my Free e-book “Write What Inspires You! Author Interviews”

Bev: Thank you, Donna, for always taking that extra step to help other writers. I’m looking forward to hearing more good news about your writing.

Donna: Thanks to you too, Bev, for interviewing me…I enjoyed our time together. I look forward to staying in touch in 2009 and beyond.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Looking Forward to Next Week

If you're following my Virtual Book Tour (and I hope you are), the next stops are listed. Remember, you can win prizes, A Free Virtual Tour or a $50.00 gift certificate to Amazon, if you leave a comment and are the lucky winner.

Jan. 19: Bookshipper
Jan. 20: Rebecca
Jan. 21: The Book Stacks
Jan. 22: Book Worms Ballroom
Jan. 23: The Book Czar

See you there.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Look What's Happening This Week

Check out these great blogs this week. Also, did you know that Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away prizes for those who leave comments. How about this one: a Free virtual tour to a published author. Or this one: a $50.00 gift certificate to Amazon if you're not published. Some of the blogs mention this; others do not.

Jan. 12: Donna M. McDine
Jan. 13: The Book Muncher
Jan. 14: The 1st Page
Jan. 14: Acme Authors
Jan. 15: The Book Connection
Jan. 16: Tristis Book Tours

Come and meet Rebel, Will, Sully and the gang.

See you there.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

Virtual Blog Tour

Today's the day. My virtual book tour for Rebel in Blue Jeans begins. I'm posting the first two stops. Will post others a couple at a time. If you get a chance stop by and meet Rebel and friends. We'd love to read your comments and messages.

Here they are: Jan 5: http://thebookrack.wordpress.com/2008/12/29/rebel-in-blue-jeans/

Jan 6: http://valleygirlmusings.blogspot.com/ "The Real Hollywood"

More later. Have to run to the hospital now to see about hubby.

Have a good week.