Monday, February 16, 2009

Vivian Gilbert Zabel's Virtual Tour

Read all about Vivian and her new Young-Adult novel, PRAIRIE DOG COWBOY in the following interview.

And get this: She's giving away four canvas bags. All you have to do to be entered in the drawing is leave a comment and a way to reach you. So comment away.

Thanks for stopping by.

I have the pleasure of interviewing Vivian Gilbert Zabel, author, editor, publisher, and extraordinary woman, on her Virtual Book Tour.

Bev: First of all, Vivian, when and why did you decide to start your own publishing house?

Vivian: In 2002, I realized that authors didn’t have much choice between major publishing houses (very difficult to have manuscripts read), vanity presses, and self-publishing. I began to think about a publishing company then, one to fill that gap. Finally, a few friends and I pushed me into starting 4RV Publishing. The LLC papers were filed in 2007, changing a partnership to a limited liability corporation.

Bev: What challenges do you face as a small publisher, trying to get your books into bookstores and other recognition for them among the thousands of books published each year?

Vivian: The challenges become greater, much greater, with the CPSIA looming over us, but hopefully by the time this interview is posted, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act will be a thing of the past.

If the CPSIA is in effect, all publishers will face the challenge of being able to afford to do children’s books.

Getting our books into bookstores is possible if people request them. We work through a distributor, have a return policy, and give a standard discount. Therefore, our books are available to every bookstore just as books from the “big boys.” We work to get reviews on and Barnes and, as well as in print newspapers and magazines.

Our books are entered into contests, too. A few of our books are entered for major awards, such as for the Newbury and Caldecott. We participate in as many book festivals as possible, and authors are encouraged to participate in those close to them.

Bev: Now let’s hear about Vivian the author. Tell us about your latest book for children, Prairie Dog Cowboy. What sparked the idea for this story?

Vivian: For years I’ve wanted to find a way to use my husband’s stories of being a cowboy and of breaking horses. When I discovered the Western Heritage Awards, I thought, “Ah-ha.”

Bev: I love the cover of Prairie Dog Cowboy. How did you decide on an illustrator for your book?
Vivian: From the time I started Prairie Dog Cowboy, I wanted pen and ink illustrations and Jordan Vinyard. She is one of the best artists and illustrators I’ve ever seen.

Bev: How do you manage your time between being a writer, editor, and publisher?

Vivian: I add ten hours to each day. Of course by the end of the week, I’ve run out of days about Thursday night, but …

Seriously, at times editing takes the majority of my time, at other times I act as publisher, and then I have times that I do nothing but write – usually late at night.

Bev: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or for those considering starting their own publishing business?

Vivian: For aspiring writers, never give up learning and improving and trying. For those considering starting a publishing business, visit your therapist. Burning money is a less stressful way of going broke.

Bev: Do you have anything you’d like to add about your writing or the book industry?

Vivian: Too many people don’t realize the importance of books and reading. We need to find a way to reach our children and our teens and adults – fostering an interest in reading and a need to write well.

I write because I have no option: I MUST write.

Bev: Where may your fans and writers find out more about you and 4RV Publishing? Website, blogs?

Vivian: The 4RV Publishing website is;
my most used and visited blog is Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap,; my mystery blog is Vivian’s Mysteries,; the blog for Prairie Dog Cowboy is; the one for Midnight Hours, my mystery/suspense/thriller is

Bev: Thank you, Vivian, for taking time out of your busy day to give us a glimpse of the publishing world from both sides: the publisher’s and the writer’s.

Thanks, Bev, for having me.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 Review

I just finished reading this book and am excited to tell you about it, so read on.

Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1

Editors VS Grenier, Gayle Jacobson-Huset, Wendy Dickson, and Angelika Lochner

From poetry, fiction and nonfiction, to activities, crafts and recipes, this anthology of work taken from Stories for Children Magazine will delight young readers and their parents, older brothers and sisters, too. The book, divided into two sections, Spring and Summer, Autumn and Winter, contains over 20 poems, stories and articles by leading children’s authors and illustrators.

As we stroll through the pages of this book, we meet a hungry boy in Lisa Lowe Stauffer’s fun rebus, “Hungry Helper,” artwork by Steve Cartwright. “The First Teddy Bear,” by VS Grenier, relates the history of this popular stuffed animal. Follow along with Donna J. Shepherd and illustrator Kevin Scott Collier on a “Topsy Turvey Tour” and meet some very unique critters. For young artists, VS Grenier has written a recipe for making your own finger paints. And these are just the beginning.

“King of the Mountain,” by VS Grenier, artwork by Marie Letourneau, gives us a loveable hero. And if your parents sometimes haven’t a clue what you’re doing, “Mistaken Identity” by Gayle Jacobson-Huset, artwork Kimberly Sponaugle, is the story for you. Guy Steward wrote a fun tale about an iguana and a cockatiel, “Marcus and Eggplant Save Patokay,” artwork by Brooke Henson Lovell. Then there’s Gayle C. Krause’s “Cookie Lessons” about, what else? talking cookies, artwork Angela C. Hawkins.

Do you enjoy a good mystery? Then help Detective Peyton find the clues in Cynthia Sherwood’s “The Store Detective,” but be sure to turn on the lights when you read “There’s a Monster in Cabin Eight,” by Gayle Jacobson-Huset, artist Zariah. Mary LaFleur Langdon’s “The Pumpkin Festival Mystery,” Steve Cartwright, artist, will have you puzzling over what’s happening to the pumpkins. And can you solve the mystery of the snowman in “Snowman’s Face is Missing!” by Rachel A. Hamby, Beverly Luria, artist? Sounds great, huh? Read on.

For the cooks in the family, try making some of the simple, yet yummy recipes. “Granny Gayle’s Summer Chicken Salad,” Gayle Jacobson-Huset, is on my recipes-to-try list. If you’ve ever wanted to leave a treat for Santa’s reindeer, the reindeer are sure to love the treats in “Magic Reindeer Food,” VS Grenier. Or whip up a batch of Gayle Jacobson-Huset’s “Christmas Tree Treats” for gifts or holiday decorations.

Is poetry your favorite read? Then take a look at Evelyn B. Christensen’s poem, “Garden Gripe,” artwork by Nicole Falk. Check out Becky Becker’s poem, “April Fools Day,” illustrated by Angela C. Hawkins. Or you can sail away with Carol Crowley’s “Sail Away,” artwork Candace J. Hardy.

Do you know the purpose of totem poles? I didn’t until I read “Magnificent Totem Poles,” by Randi Lynn Mrvos. You’ve heard the old saying “Sticks & Stones Won’t Break My Bones?” Nidhi Kamra’s article with that title tells all about your bones and calcium. What a cool read.
Have you ever wanted to speak another language? Or perhaps you do. I learned a few Arabic words in Gayle Jacobson-Huset’s and Dara Becker’s “Anisah Celebrates’EID AL-ADHA’,” illustrated by Candace J. Hardy. “Assalaamu Alaikum.” This means “Peace be upon you.”

Stories about penguins, elves, turkeys, and scarecrows, so much more I want to tell you. But I must stop now. I recommend this anthology for all ages. Parents, read it to your children. Children, read it to yourselves and to your pets. You’ll be glad you did.

You can purchase this anthology at

Happy reading.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shadowed Summer

Saundra Mitchell's new young-adult novel, Shadowed Summer, has just been released. Carrie Ryan is giving away two signed copies of the book on her blog. It sounds like an awesome read, and I'm posting about it here, hoping to win one of the copies.

Have you read any good books lately? I just bought To Kill a Mockingbird. I know. I know. Everyone's already read it. Well, remember, when I was a kid, I wasn't a reader. Thank heavens I discovered what I was missing. Now, I devour books. Yummy. Yummy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Stories for Children Magazine

Isn't this an adorable cover. The artist is Candace J. Hardy. And inside you'll find more priceless artwork. Also, my story "Secret Valentine" is in this issue. Notice the neat illustration there. I loosely based this story on a real incident that happened to me when I was in fifth grade. When you have a minute, hop on over, or cruise, or however you prefer to move, and read some of the fun stories and articles.