Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baby It's Cold Outside

The snow is still with us. Very unusual for our area. More forecast. When's spring? These are some pictures I took of Traveler, the little dog I wrote about in Chicken Soup for the Soul. I threw some cornbread out for the birds, and Traveler decided he wanted it. So he climbed up on the snowdrift, went over the fence, and dined on the cornbread. Then he climbed back out.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Carols

Do you have a favorite Christmas carol or song? There are so many lovely and fun songs, I have a hard time deciding which I like best. I think, though, my favorite is Silent Night, with Away in a Manger a close second. Then there's Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, White Christmas, and I could go on and on. What are you favorites?

Friday, December 18, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

What a lovely way to end the week. YaYa has awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thank you. According to the rules, I'm to send fifteen of my favorite blogs this award. There are so many lovely blogs that it's hard to make a decision. This is my second time, so I'll try not to repeat. Also, since hubby just came home from the hospital and we're tired, I'm nominating eight.

Drum roll, please!

Amigo's Pets and Authors, Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz, Linda Jo Martin, Kai Strand, Kim Smith, Jennifer Porter, Holly Jahangiri, Lori Calabrese.

These blogs are worth the visit. Trust me. Pay YaYa a visit too.

Have a super weekend. Happy shopping.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Puppy Not a Guppy Virtual Book Tour

It is my pleasure to introduce you to a remarkable young character, who knows exactly what she wants and what she doesn't want.

From the Publisher (Synopsis):

Irma wanted a puppy, a pet she could take on walks, not a few stupid guppies. Fish don't do anything, except roll over on their backs if they die.
Sometimes, though, a girl has to make the most of what she has. Now , what can Irma do with three guppies besides stare at them as they stare at her?

I recently had the pleasure of reading Irma's delightful story, A Puppy, Not a Guppy, by Holly Jahangiri, illustrations by Ryan Shaw. Here is my review:

Irma wants a puppy, but her parents give her all the reasons she can’t have one. Irma’s friend Jimmy has two dogs, a cat, a parakeet, and sixteen pillbugs. He also has a guppy about to have babies and offers Irma some of the babies when they are born. Irma thinks guppies are boring. She wants a puppy, not a guppy.

However, when Jimmy tells her he’ll have to flush the babies down the toilet if no one wants them, Irma can’t allow that to happen. Poor little guppies. With her mom’s and dad’s permission she takes the guppies home with her, even though they’re only dumb fish. Or so she thinks. Is Irma in for a big surprise?

To learn how to take care of her guppies, Irma reads books and makes some amazing discoveries, not only about fish, but also about people and how their names might affect their feelings about themselves. I also learned neat facts about Irma’s “boring” guppies and had fun in the process. Even Jimmy discovers a thing or two.

Holly Jahangiri includes a “Learn More” section with a Web site where readers can learn how to teach their fish to do tricks, the way Irma teaches her guppies. The “Fun Facts” section of the book will have young readers (their parents, too) rushing to the pet store for some fish of their own. This book would be great in elementary school science classes. I would have loved to use it when I was teaching fifth-grade science.

Ryan Shaw’s drawings are just perfect for the story. The expressions on Irma’s face, ranging from disappointment to surprise to all smiles, make the story even more fun. And the fish—you have to see them for yourself. A Puppy, Not a Guppy will make a great addition to school libraries, public libraries, and your own private library.

A Puppy, Not a Guppy can be bought from 4RV Publishing.

Or at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

But Wait! There's More!


Prizes (two will be awarded):

One autographed copy of A Puppy, Not a Guppy.

Contest Rules

To enter: Leave a comment at http://jahangiri.us/books containing verifiable evidence that you have completed one or more of the following activities:

  • A link back to this blog.

  • A short review of http://jahangiri.us/books or http://jahangiri.us/news on Alexa.com (http://www.alexa.com/reviews/jahangiri.us)

  • A question for the author, Holly Jahangiri

  • An answer to the queston: What kind of pet do you like best, and why?

  • Either of the following:

  • Blog about A Puppy, Not a Guppy (be sure to include, in you own blog post, a link back to http://jahangiri.us/books and a link to this blog; or

  • If you already own a copy of Trockle or A Puppy, Not a Guppy, you may complete this activity by posting a new review of either book on BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com. (No purchase necessary. Previously posted book reviews are not eligible as contest entries in this contest.)

Each activity equals one (1) entry, and you may do each activity once for a possible maximum of six (6) entries per valid email address. Your comment must be entered using a valid email address so that you can be contacted for mailing info if you win! Entries that do not have a valid email address will be considered null and void.

Duration: Contest begins at 12:01 AM on December 9, 2009, and ends at 11:59 PM on December 15, 2009. Winners will be drawn on December 16, 2009.

Eligibility: Contest is open to anyone age 13 or older. Tour hosts are eligible to enter.

Winners: Two winners will be randomly chosen (numbered in the order in which they are received, with the winning number chosen at http://www.random.org/) from all qualifying entries, and will be required to provide a physical mailing address in order to collect a prize (one free book). Only one entrant per household is eligible to win. If a second entrant from a single household is chosen, another name will be drawn until all prizes are awarded.

Contest void where prohibited by law.

Good luck everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Books for Sale

Just thirteen days until Christmas. I thought I had plenty of time to shop. Wrong. Because of not watching the calendar closely, I'm now scrambling for gifts. I'm taking the easy way out: books on line. The grandkids can expect some of Margot Finke's adorable books any day now. She signs them with what I want her to say and ships them and does it all. How easy is that? I also have some little things to wrap and mail on Monday.

The great-grandkids' books and DVDs are on their way from Amazon.

That leaves the adults. Checks or gift certificates are always appreciated. Of course the best presents would be for everyone to be together for Christmas, but this year it isn't possible.

Oh, I almost forgot. If you still need stocking stuffers or small gifts for the teens in your family, or even for the older folks, my books are on sale until Dec. 15. For details see my Website.

Happy reading and have a super weekend.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

More Fun This Week

Just Breeze has more exciting hosts this week. Here's where you can find her:

Monday, Dec. 7 - http://www.cafeofdreams.blogspot.com

Tuesday, Dec. 8 - http://www.teensreadtoo.com/JustBreeze.html

Wednesday, Dec. 9 - http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com

Thursday, Dec. 10 - http://reviewfromhere.com

Friday, Dec. 11 - http://jensbooktalk.blogspot.com

Breeze hopes to see each of you there. She loves to talk.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Continuing Virtual Tour for Just Breeze

To help you keep up with the Virtual Tour for Just Breeze, here are Thursday's and Friday's stops.

Thurday, Dec. 3: http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com Write What Inspires You

Friday, Dec. 4: http://readingjunky.blogspot.com/2009/10/just-breeze-by-beverly-stowe-mcclure.html

Come and join the fun. Have questions? I'll try to answer them. Have comments. Just Breeze and I love to hear them.

See you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Simon Rose Interview

My guest today is Canadian children's author Simon Rose. His novels include The Doomsday Mask, The Heretic's Tomb, The Emerald Curse, The Clone Conspiracy, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, and The Alchemist's Portrait. He's also a contributing author to The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction: Volume One and founded the almost legendary networking group Children's Authors and Illustrators on Facebook. Here's what Simon has to say about his work.

Welcome, Simon. Let's begin by learning a little about your books.
My books are in the science fiction and fantasy genre for middle grades, around ages eight to twelve. You can see full details of each of them, including excerpts and synopses (and you can even listen to recording of my readings) at the Books page at simon-rose.com.

The Alchemist's Portrait is a time-travel story, in which Matthew journeys through the centuries using magical paintings which act as doorways into the past, in order to save the world from the clutches of an evil alchemist. The Sorcerer's Letterbox, another time-travel tale, is based on the famous mystery of the Princes in the Tower about Edward V and his brother Richard, Duke of York, who were supposedly murdered on the orders of Richard III in 1483. The Clone Conspiracy is a science fiction thriller involving clandestine laboratories and secret experiments, while The Emerald Curse, based on my own reading of comic books while growing up, concerns Sam's adventures in a bizarre, and at times deadly, superhero universe. The Heretic's Tomb is set in the medieval period once again, this time during the Black Death in 1349.
My latest novel, The Doomsday Mask, was published in the spring. It's once again for ages 8–12 and in the science fiction and fantasy genre. It's a fast-paced adventure about ancient civilizations, mysterious artifacts, and shadowy secret societies.
How long have you been writing books for children?
One of the best things about writing for kids is that I can write about the kinds of things that fascinated me when I was young. Stories can be very imaginative if they are for children, which makes writing them so much fun. And, of course, in science fiction or fantasy, more or less anything you can imagine is possible, as you craft stories involving ancient mysteries, the unexplained, the paranormal, science fiction, time travel, parallel universes, alternate realities, weird and wonderful characters, and a multitude of "what if" scenarios.
Once I had children of my own, I came into contact with children's books again for the first time in many years. Picture books initially, of course, but then early chapter books and novels. When I decided to try my hand at writing novels and stories, I found myself drawn to the types of things I used to read as a child. I read lots of science fiction, as well fantasy writers and ghost stories while growing up. I also read a tremendous number of comic books, in which the stories took me across the universe, into strange dimensions, into the land of the Norse gods or had me swinging from the New York rooftops. At high school, I studied a lot of history and have retained my interest in the subject up to the present day. I also read voraciously on ancient civilizations, mysteries, the supernatural, and the unexplained.

Do you offer school and library visits?
Yes, I offer a wide range of presentations, workshops, and author-in-residence programs for schools and libraries. I cover such topics as where ideas come from, story structure, editing and revision, character development, time-travel stories, history, and research. You can learn more about them here and I offer study guides for all the books.
I also conduct virtual author visits via video using the Skype network, and you can get some idea of how it works from my videos on YouTube.

I also offer workshops for adults, both in person and online, as well as online workshops for children, which are proving very popular. I did a lot of work in summer camps this year, some of which you can learn about here. In addition, here in Calgary I work as a writing instructor with home school children, the local school board's continuing education program, the University. I am also an instructor with the National Writing for Children Centre and will be presenting at schools libraries in the UK as part of the Off the Shelf Festival of Writing and Reading this fall.
What are you working on now?

I have another completed novel on a paranormal theme which I am seeking a home for, if there are any interested editors and publishers reading this. I'm working on a number of editing projects for other writers, have numerous projects of my own for future novels, and I am collaborating on several picture books with a local illustrator. In addition to novel writing, I offer copywriting services for business, such as editorial content for websites. I have a few of those types of projects, as well as upcoming articles for magazines and online publications on a wide variety of topics, such as the articles written for Dark Roasted Blend on a bewildering variety of incredible and fantastic topics You can search or my articles on the Dark Roasted Blend home page.
I'm also involved in a large local event set for the fall called the Calgary Children's Book Fair and Conference.

Any advice for aspiring children’s writers? 

Writing is in some ways the easy part. It can be a very long process not only to write a book, but also to get it published. A book is a marathon measured in years rather than weeks or months. Don’t be afraid to revise and revise over and over again. Most authors go through many revisions before their work reaches its final format. Remember, too, that your book will never be to everyone’s taste, so don’t be discouraged. A firm belief in your own success is often what’s necessary. After all, if you don’t believe in your book, how can you expect other people to?

Read as much as you can and write as often as you can. Keep an ideas file, even if it’s only a name, title, sentence, or an entire outline for a novel. You never know when you might get another piece of the puzzle, perhaps years later. You also mustn’t forget the marketing. You may produce the greatest book ever written. However, no one else is going to see it if your book doesn’t become known to potential readers. Be visible as an author. Do as many readings, signings, and personal appearances as you can. Get your name out there and hopefully the rest will follow. Especially for newly published authors, books don’t sell themselves and need a lot of help.
You can read some of my tips and advice for writers at Ezine Articles. I also belong to a number of writing organizations and am the Assistant Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators in Western Canada.

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

Autographed copies of my books are always available from me directly, but they are also available at all the usual places such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other places online — and details can be found for each book here. You can also easily order any of the novels from your local bookstore if they don't have copies on the shelf. You can stay up-to-date with me and my work by visiting my author site and blog, connecting as a friend on Facebook, joining Children's Authors and Illustrators on Facebook or my own groups for each of the novels or following me Twitter.