Friday, December 31, 2010


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Myspace Graphics, New Year Graphics at

Thank you to all my wonderful friends who have made 2010 a super year. May all your dreams come true in 2011. You're the best.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Do you enjoy reading great books? Do you like entering contests for a chance to win a great book? If so, Terry Lynn Johnson has the contest for you. Her debut book, Dogsled Dreams, will soon be out and she's giving away a signed copy. I'm hoping to win it, but since I'm so nice I'll give you a chance too. Just go to her blog to enter. But hurry. The contest ends December 31.

Dogsled Dreams by Terry Lynn Johnson
Illustrator: Aidana WillowRaven
Publisher: 4 RV Publishing LLC

Good luck.

Monday, December 27, 2010

From Party Lines to Skype and Beyond

Quote of the week: Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. William Wordsworth

This weekend we talked to our granddaughter in Prague, using Skype.  Her sister has the program on her computer. Wow! Amazing. There her pretty face was, on the computer screen. We could see her. She could see us. To most of you, this may be nothing new, but it was my first time. It also got me to thinking how fast our world changes.

When I was a kid (I know, it's hard to remember that far back) we had a telephone. We also had another family or two, can't recall how many, on the same line. So sometimes you'd pick up the receiver to call a friend and you'd hear another conversation. Now this could prove very interesting. However, my mother would make my sister and me hang up. It wasn't polite to listen in on another's conversation. Besides, they could tell you were there and might do the same to you.

Finally, we had a private line. I don't remember details, but we could call anytime we wanted to, without another person interrupting, saying they needed to call a friend or family member.

Fast forward many years. I now have a cell, compliments of our son and his family. They gave it to me a few years ago and I didn't use it for a long time. I hadn't a clue how. Now, I carry it everywhere I go. It has proved very valuable at times, like when hubby's in the hospital and I need to call someone but want to stay with him. I still haven't learned to text on it, probably never will, but I can call another person, which is very good for me.

It doesn't have all the extra gadgets the newer phones have, but it works fine. Just when I think I've moved into modern times and am really up to date on technology, along comes Skype. Now I'm starting over again. I hope to add Skype to my line of communication some day. Neither of my computers have cameras on them, however, so I'll have to wait.

By the time I master using Skype, (if ever) something new will be out and I'll be outdated once again.

So what's next in the world beyond? It should be interesting, whatever it is.

Happy reading, writing, and skyping.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Fantastic Books

This lovely Wednesday day, the second day of winter, I'd like to share some more great reads with you. They're perfect for those cold, snowy days where you just want to sit in front of the fire and live in a dream world.

Griffin Rising is Darby Karchut's debut novel. It's about a guardian angel named Griffin, and if you're like me, you'll fall in love with the sixteen year old, as if he were your own son. The bad news is the book won't be out until June 2011, but go ahead and add it to your list because you'll definitely want to read it. I promise. The good news is there will be another book about Griffin and another.

Beautiful Darkness, by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl is "beautiful." It continues the story of Lena Duchannes and Ethan Ware and the small town of Gatlin, "where impossible, magical, life-altering events happen." (From the book jacket.) A real page turner.

Add Becca Fitzpatrick's Crescendo to the list, and I've read some great stories this fall. This book is about Nora Grey, the heroine we met in Hush, Hush, and her life with her guardian angel, Patch, who is quite different to the guardian angel in Griffin Rising.

Merry  Christmas

Monday, December 20, 2010

Favorite Christmas Music

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is the music.When I'm  shopping, the tunes floating through the stores add to the excitement and joy of the season. At church, the choir members inspire me with their beautiful voices, especially the children's program. If you celebrate other holidays, do you have music too? If so, please tell me about it.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas carols and songs.

1.  Silent Night
"Silent Night" (the most popular of all Christmas carols) was first written as a poem in Germany in 1816 by a young priest named Joseph Mohr who was assigned to an Austrian pilgrimage church. The church organ was too rusted to play for the 1818 Midnight Mass so Mohr asked his friend Franz Gruber (a local teacher) to compose a tune. Mohr and Gruber sang the song together, with Gruber playing a guitar. The piece might been forgotten except that a visiting musician took the music and it grew in popularity as it was played throughout Austria & Germany.

2.  Away in a Manger
The song was first published with two verses in an Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School collection, Little Children's Book for Schools and Families (1885), edited by James R. Murray (1841–1905), where it simply bore the title "Away in a Manger" and was set to a tune called "St. Kilda," credited to J.E. Clark.
For many years the text was credited to the German reformer Martin Luther. Research has shown, however, that this is nothing more than a fable. In the book Dainty Songs for Little Lads and Lasses (1887) it bears the title "Luther's Cradle Hymn" and the note, "Composed by Martin Luther for his children, and still sung by German mothers to their little ones." A possible reason for the spurious attribution to Luther is that the 400th anniversary of his birth was in 1883. The words were either based on a poem written for this anniversary or were credited to Luther as a clever marketing gimmick. This song has never been found in Luther's works. The first half of the melody is identical to the beginning of the second theme of Waltz #4, transposed down a fourth, in G'schichten aus dem Wienerwald, Op. 325 by Johann Strauss Jr., composed 19 years earlier.

The third stanza, "Be near me, Lord Jesus" was first printed in Gabriel's Vineyard Songs (1892), where it appeared with a tune by Charles H. Gabriel (simply marked "C"), thus these words are probably by Gabriel. Gabriel credited the entire text to Luther and gave it the title "Cradle Song." This verse is sometimes attributed to Dr. John McFarland, but since the popular story dates his contribution to 1904 (postdating the 1892 printing by 12 years), his contribution is highly questionable.

3.  What Child is This?

4.  Jingle Bells

5.  Here Comes Santa Clause

6.  I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause

7.  White Christmas

8.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

And I could go on and on.

Do you have any favorites you'd like to mention?


Friday, December 17, 2010


If my former teachers could see me now they'd probably think they were dreaming. Why? Because I'm reading. Lots of books. And I'm enjoying every page I turn. So here are my latest reads.

From Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab Program I've just finihsed Choker, by Elizabeth Woods. "What if the only friend you could trust turned out to be dangerous? A new thriller from debut author Elizabeth Woods."

The one I'm reading now is Evercrossed, by Elizabeth Chandler. I was so excited to see this forthcoming book. It continues the Kissed by an Angel series that is one of my favorites.
These two eGalleys are due out in 2011, but in the S&S program you read them in PDF or on a Sony eReader. A great way to see the books before they're published.

A few days ago I ordered L. M. Preston's The Pack for my iPad. It's about a girl named Shamira, an outcast, who is on a mission. I'm just learning how to use the iPad, but it's going to be such fun once I catch on. Books, books, books.

And I'm 3/4 of the way through a book I won recently, The Emerald Tablet, by P. J. Hoover. "When Benjamin Holt sees his mom disappear into a pinprick of light, he shouldn't be surprised. His life is already weird..."

What are you reading?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I am excited to have Cheryl Malandrinos, dear friend and super author, visit my blog today to talk about her debut book, Little Shepherd, and to tell us a bit about herself. Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. A regular contributor for Writer2Writer, her articles focus on increasing productivity through time management and organization. A founding member of Musing Our Children, Ms. Malandrinos is also Editor in Chief of the group’s quarterly newsletter, Pages & Pens.

Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. Little Shepherd is her first children’s book. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two young daughters. She also has a son who is married.

You can visit Cheryl online at  or at the following blogs:

The Book Connection

Book Tours and More

The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Cheryl has more to say:

My Story is Boring. Read about These Other Writers Instead. by Cheryl Malandrinos

(My note. I don't think Cheryl's story is boring, but I'll hush now. You go, Cheryl.)

I pulled up Beverly’s blog to get ideas for my guest post. There was that title staring me in the face, “The Story of a Writer”. So, I started thinking about Bev’s title and figured I should share my story of becoming a writer. Well, that’s about as interesting as dirt. It’s so boring I can tell it to you in one fractured paragraph.

Dreamed of being a writer. Studied hard and read much. Wrote some. Tragedy struck. Stories became dark and depressing, so writing stopped. Years passed. Had a baby. Wrote some more. Life got busy, so writing stopped. Got married, had two more babies. Left Corporate America to write. Haven’t looked back.

See, I told you. Boring. Actually, now I think dirt is more interesting.

I’ll share some stories of other writers instead.

A little girl grew up in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Her pa had itchy feet and he didn’t like how crowded the Big Woods had become, so the family—which consisted of Pa, Ma, and three little girls—rode by covered wagon into Indian country and started over. There were many more trips by covered wagon until one day Pa settled in Dakota Territory. The girl, now a young woman, met a dashing farmer, got married, and had a baby.

When her baby had grown into a toddler, the young woman said goodbye to her Ma and Pa, and made another trip by covered wagon to the Ozarks, where she and her husband built a house and watched their daughter grow.

Their daughter became a famous writer and kept pestering her mother to write down the stories of her childhood. When she finally did write down those stories and submit them to a publisher, despite America being hit by the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the editor knew she held in her hands, "the book that no depression could stop."

The book was, Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It became an overnight success. Eight more books were published in the Little House series; the final one, after her death.

This next writer, known as Maud, by her friends and family, is most famous for writing about a red-headed orphan girl who gets adopted by an elderly brother and sister living on Prince Edward Island.

Born in 1874, her mother died when she was only a toddler and her father sent her to live with her maternal grandparents. She created imaginary worlds and friends to cope with the loneliness.

Her first published work came at the age of 16. She furthered her education after grade school and earned a teaching certificate. Anne of Green Gables, the first book featuring Anne, spelled with an “e”, Shirley, was published in 1908.

Lucy Maud Montgomery published 20 novels and hundreds of short stories and poems in her lifetime, many of them set on Prince Edward Island. She also published an autobiography titled, The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career, and a book of poetry.

Another famous writer was born in Pennsylvania but spent most of her years growing up in Boston and Concord, Massachusetts. She was educated by her father, and thanks to her mother, became a supporter of women’s rights, temperance, and abolition.

She had three sisters: Anna, Elizabeth, and May. While she started her career writing poetry and short stories for magazines, she soon published two novels for adults. It would, however, be the books about four sisters growing up in New England during the Civil War that brought her the most recognition.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is based upon Louisa and her sister’s years growing up at Orchard House in Concord. She wrote it when a Boston publisher requested a book for young girls. Little Women was such a success that the publisher requested a second volume, which became known as, Little Men. Jo’s Boys completed the trilogy.

Alcott published over 30 books and short story collections before her death in 1888.

Interestingly enough, all three of these writers used their own life experiences to influence their fiction. Their stories have been brought to life on film and their books continue to gain new fans.

While Little Shepherd, my first children’s book, was influenced more by my faith than my life experiences, I hope I have followed my mentors in writing what I know.

Enough for your lesson in children’s literature today, folks. Get out and write!

You can visit Cheryl online at or the Little Shepherd blog at

And now here's Cheryl's picture book Little Shepherd.

Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior’s birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?


Cheryl Malandrinos

Illus. Eugene Ruble

What if your father has just trusted you with watching over your first flock, and you’re only five years old? What if one night while you’re guarding the sheep to keep them safe from wolves a bright light suddenly glows in the sky, and an angel appears with a message? “Do not be afraid,” the angel said. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” More angels then appear, praising God.

In her debut picture book, Little Shepherd, author Cheryl Malandrinos tells the story of Christ’s birth through the eyes of a shepherd boy named Obed who witnesses the miracle of Christ’s birth. Obed’s father and the other shepherds are curious and want to go to Bethlehem to see the baby. But Obed worries about the sheep. Who will protect them while he’s gone? His father assures Obed the flock will be taken care of. Since Obed trusts his father, they soon are on their way. Eugene Ruble’s illustrations are just right for this gentle tale. The use of earth tones to convey the atmosphere and rough terrain place the reader in the story. As I read, I could almost feel the excitement and joy of the shepherds on their journey to see the newborn, making me wish I were there with them.

Little Shepherd is a fresh addition to the many tales that have been written about the birth of Jesus. I think children will love hearing the story of Christ’s birth through the eyes of a child. Little Shepherd could be read in Sunday school classes and day care centers, and children might also enjoy acting out the story. I recommend that Moms and Dads, Grandparents and friends, cuddle with your little ones, and through Ms. Malandrinos’ book relive the miracle that occurred one starry night over two thousand years ago. This book would make a great stocking stuffer, too. So pick up a copy for each of the children in your life. You’ll be glad you did.

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Cheryl.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Memories

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Myspace Graphics, Christmas Graphics at

When I was a child my mother hung Christmas stockings for my sister and for me. Now these were nothing like the stockings you see today. Ours were Mom's nylon hose. She put an apple, an orange, ribbon candy, and other goodies inside. Those nylon stockings stretched and held quite a bit. We didn't have candy all through the year, so this was a special treat. We also didn't have a fireplace with a mantle so she simply put the stockings on top of the old upright piano. This is one of my favorite memories of Christmas.

Do you have a special memory you'd like to share of Christmas or of the holiday you celebrate? If so, we'd love to hear it.

Have a nice weekend. Happy reading and writing.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Well, I'm late posting this because my cat, Patches, decided not to cooperate. So far, she's been great about choosing the winners of my contests. She does it her way, as most of you have observed previously. However, today, all she did was look in the basket then walk away.

So I shook the basket, really good, reached my little paw inside, and drew out ... TA DA!


Congratulations, Pk. An email has been sent to you.

You're all winners in my book. Stay tuned for future giveaways. Thanks to everyone who spends time reading my posts and to all who entered my contest. You're the best.

Happy reading and writing.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Andrea Nepa Virtual Book Tour

Today it is my pleasure to host Andrea Nepa on her Virtual Book Tour. Andrea Nepa  is the mother of an adopted Vietnamese daughter named Leah. In 2001, Adoptions from the Heart assisted with the international adoption. Andrea dedicated her book to her daughter: "For my dear Leah, whose journey in her young life has already taken her to far away and unexpected places." In 2006, Leah was diagnosed with cancer. She is currently in remission. Andrea lives with Leah and her husband, David, in Haddonfield, New Jersey. She is a registered dietitian for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

I also had the opportunity to read Ms. Nepa's picture book and would like to tell you a little about it. 
 an illustrated children's story about interracial adoption   

Andrea Nepa Author and Illustrator

One day a tiny seed drops from a poppy flower. The ground is too dry for the seed to grow, however. So begins the seed’s quest, with the help of the wind, to find its place in the world.

Author Andrea Nepa has written a gentle story about belonging. Where the seed starts its life is not the right place for it. In the seed’s journey to find a home, it encounters one obstacle after another. Life seldom runs smoothly, for plant life or for human life. Even though discouraged at times, the seed continues its search. Does it succeed in discovering a place of its own? Or does the seed give up when encountering seemingly impossible odds? Young readers travel along with the seed and will no doubt be cheering it along to find the right spot to settle, a place to belong.

The illustrations by Ms. Nepa are simple and gentle, like the story. The soft colors she uses hint at lightness and happiness. Red in the Flower Bed would make a nice bedtime story to snuggle up with your child and read together or to sit in front of a warm fireplace and share the story of a little seed with courage. The subtitle states this is a tale of adoption. Perhaps children will see the connection, perhaps not. However, children might have questions which could open a discussion between parents and children about their relationship. This book would make a nice addition for nursery schools and preschools for their reading time and for home libraries, as well. Children will see that there is a special place in this world for each of them.

For more information about the author and her book, check out these sites:

Book web site:

Andrea Nepa Facebook:!/profile.php?id=1664060822

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook:

Tribute Books Twitter:
YouTube video book trailer embed html code:

Buy links:


Books make great gifts. Enjoy your visit.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Monday, December 6, is the last day for my contest, so get your entries in. Tuesday morning, I'll write everyone's name on a Post It Note, fold the paper, put them in the basket, and Patches will choose the winning entry. She's chomping to go. I have to be quick or she eats the paper. Will have pictures. Hopefully, if she cooperates. Good luck to all. Books make super Christmas gifts.

Happy reading.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Meet Sharon and Freddie the Frog

I am delighted to have Sharon Burch as my guest today. A music teacher, clinician, and author, Sharon Burch developed an effective method using fiction and fantasy to teach musical concepts to her preschool through third grade students. Freddie the Frog puppet was the star and quickly became the students favorite musical friend and best teacher. Sharon designs and creates Freddie the Frog resources for the music classroom.

In growing demand as a clinician, Sharon and Freddie share their interactive
teaching methods in elementary music with educational groups across the
country. Energized teachers realize the "magic of Freddie" and fun in the
sessions. As an author/presenter, Sharon advocates the multiple benefits of
music education in a child¹s brain development.

Sharon holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Truman University in
Kirksville, Missouri, and a Masters' Degree as a Professional Educator from
Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. She also holds a certification in
piano instruction from the International Piano Teaching Foundation developed
by Dr. Robert Pace. She has served as a vocal and piano instructor, and
taught preschool through 8th grade general music and directed junior high
and high school choirs.

She makes her home in the rolling hills of southern Iowa with her husband,
Bill, and two children, Alex and Morgan. Sailing is the family hobby.
Someday they hope to sail the Sea of Music to Treble Clef Island!

You can email Sharon at:

Sharon was kind enough to take time out from her busy schecule to answer some questions. Here's what she has to say:

Bev: Freddie the Frog products--books, games, coloring pages, Cds and so much more-- sound fascinating. What was your inspiration to use music as well as books with children?

Sharon: Actually the inspiration is the other way around. I am a music teacher who uses books to teach music. Creating, reading, composing, singing and playing music plays an incredibly important role in the development of children. Using books with audio CDs, online games, and coloring pages makes it possible for anyone to learn and fall in love with music through Freddie the Frog® and his adventurous stories.

Bev: Tell us about Freddie the Frog. Why did you choose a frog instead of other animals?

Sharon: The initial story introduces the reading of music notes through story characters, therefore it needed to be an animal that began with the letter A, B, C, D, E, F, or G, the seven letters of the music alphabet. My daughter owned a frog puppet, so I first shared the story as a story teller with the frog puppet as the main character. The kids fell in love with Freddie the Frog® and the rest is history.

Bev: When you present your program to schools what is the reaction of the children? Of the teachers?

Sharon: Children instantly fall in love with Freddie the Frog® through the first story, Freddie the Frog® and the Thump in the Night. The children are eager to hear the stories and learn basic music concepts simply by turning the pages and listening. Music teachers love the books because they work! Early childhood and classroom teachers love the books because they can teach music without needing special training.

Bev: What is the best part about doing school/library visits?

Sharon: Watching the kids light up when they meet Freddie the Frog, thoroughly engaged in listening, learning and making music. Sharing the love of music through literacy, fantasy and play with kids is incredibly rewarding.

Bev: What were your favorite books when you were a child?

Sharon: I loved the crazy adventures of Curious George picture books, the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and I believe I read every single Nancy Drew book multiple times.

Bev: What are you reading now?

Sharon: I still love C.S. Lewis. Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, and his other works are great spiritual and intellectual reads. J.R.R. Tolkein's works are also some of my favorite reads.

Bev: If you could live in another time, when would you choose and why?
Sharon: Actually, I choose now. I love the adventure of life and the wonder of what it holds. No matter the time we live in, people wrestle with the same principles and basic problems. It's the attitude and perspective with which you choose to live that makes the difference. I choose to embrace life and enjoy the ride.

Bev: What are your plans for the future? More books? Cds?

Sharon: We are working on the fifth book now, Freddie the Frog® and the Flying Jazz Kitten (2011 Release). It's a fun, interactive introduction to jazz through scat singing. We also have a new project of creating stuffed plush toys that correlate with the books. The kids fall in love with the characters. Soon they will be able to love, hug and hold their very own Freddie the Frog® and Eli the Elephant.

Bev: Where can your fans learn more about you? Website? Blog

Sharon: You can learn a little bit about me at, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. Just search my name and look for my photo with Freddie on my shoulder. And, of course, the kids can have fun at

Bev: Anything else you would like to add about you or Freddie the Frog?

Sharon: This is an exciting time. There are millions of kids across the nation, and now Canada and Australia, that are in love with Freddie through their music teacher at school. I may be the author, but the bigger message is all about music and making a connection with kids. The motivation behind the books is the importance of music in children's lives. Music makes kids smarter. Just google "music and the brain" and you will be bombarded with research, video clips, books, blogs, articles, etc. all pointing to the powerful affect of music in mental development. Nothing activates and develops a person's mind more than music. The whole reason for Freddie is hooking kids on music and empowering our kids.

I have listed below a number of resources that will duly provide information and materials to duly facilitate your coverage. This includes a close up narrated video reading of a book - the next best thing to holding it in your hands! Also do let me know if you would like to connect with author Sharon Burch for an email or phone-based interview.

Narrated video reading:

Cognitive benefits of music:  Consumers may order online at

Author bio:

Illustrator bio:

Cover art:

To learn more:

To purchase:
Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders

More info:

Freddie the Frog® Adventures were designed to engage and introduce children to fundamental music concepts by simply playing the audio CD and turning the pages of the story book. Freddie is a portal to the world of music and a reference point for the sequential learning of reading and writing music.

Kids fall in love with the main character, Freddie the Frog, through his stories and eagerly await the next adventure, learning about music while they read. No longer is it a bunch of black dots and sticks all over the page of music. Now the kids recognize rhythms and places from the books.

Although Freddie the Frog books introduce and teach note names of the treble and bass clef by story characters, tempo terms, rhythm and beat, the real magic is in the connection with the main character, Freddie. As one six-year-old said, "I LOVE Freddie. That's why I love music!"

Kids fall in love with Freddie the Frog through the stories and learn music simply by turning the pages. What a great way to be introduced to the "theory" of music. Why is music so important?

Music causes the mind to think smarter.

Medical scans track brain activity.

Music is one of the very few whole brain activities, engaging all four parts of the brain!

All other tasks use either the left or right brain.

Music exercises all of the brain. How? 1) When playing music, the mind chooses how fast or slow to play, with what style, rhythm, phrasing, and feeling. 2) It also tells the fingers when to move, reads and memorizes. When playing music, you do ALL of this at the SAME TIME! 3) The more you play, the more you exercise your mind. The exercised mind thinks better, making a student smarter

Thanks again for your interest in these wonderfully innovative books!!

Thank you, Sharon, for visiting with us today and sharing your work with us.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Contest, Contest, Contest

It begins today, Dec. 1st. What? you ask. My contest, I answer. I love contests. Recently, I've won some great books by entering just about every one that I've seen mentioned. Fun. My table is stacked high with future entertainment. More about the books I've won later. Now, to get into the act, I'm having my own giveaway. It's easy and painless. All you have to do is leave a comment (please say something nice) and your email and you're entered. If you tweet the post, tell me and you get an extra entry.

What can you win? The book of your choice from my published works. They're listed on the sidebar or here they are. Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, Just Breeze, Rebel in Blue Jeans, Secrets I Have Kept, Listen to the Ghost.

The contest ends Mon. Dec. 6. Winner will be announced and email sent.

Books make awesome gifts too, for Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate.

Have fun and happy reading.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Texas Thanksgiving and That's All, Folks

Quote for the week: You must want to enough. Enough to take all the rejections, enough to pay the price of disappointment and discouragement while you are learning. Like any other artist you must learn your craft--then you can add all the genius you like. Phyllis A. Whitney

Part of our family was able to get together for Thanksgiving this year. We ate ham, instead of turkey. Our oldest son and wife sent the ham since they could not be with us. Here's our lovely family .

Jack, Scott, Anna (Pilgrim), Felicity (Indian), Ty
The pilgrim and Indian were at peace.

Granddaughter's dog enjoyed the day.

The cat was happy when everyone went home.

Now, enough about Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for Christmas. And so, I'm planning a contest. Well, if everyone else can do it, so can I. On Wednesday I will tell you more about it.

Have a good week and may all your dreams come true.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Killing Off Your Character

Quote for the Week: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise n the reader." Robert Frost

Have you ever written a scene that brought tears to your eyes? I did, last week. I killed off one of the characters in my WIP. One of the characters that I really liked. One of my major characters, not the Protagonist, but one very important to the story. And I felt as though I'd just lost a best friend.

Do you get so wrapped up in your characters that they seem real to you? Like they're your children and you want only good things for them?

In Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines there is a scene that makes me teary eyed too. What's with me? I like humor and fun. But life isn't all humor and fun. There's sadness too, as much as I hate it. Bad stuff happens. So does good stuff.

If Mr. Frost's quote is correct, then readers will boo hoo in the right places in my story. Now to find some surprises too. I like surprises.

So how about you? Done away with any of your characters lately?

Have a super week.

Friday, November 19, 2010

More Thanksgiving Blessings

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I have so much to be thankful for. I'm thankful for my family. My friends. And for America.

 The McClure Clan, 2006

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just in time for the 2010 Holiday Season - Personalized Autographed Book: The Golden Pathway by Donna M. McDine

M E D I A  R E L E A S E

Donna M. McDine
Children’s Author

Phone: 845-721-7802
For Immediate Release
Just in time for the 2010 Holiday Season - Personalized Autographed Book: The Golden Pathway by Donna M. McDine
Give the wonder of an autographed book to the young muse in your life. Children’s author, Donna M. McDine is offering a terrific opportunity to build your child’s book collection with an autographed copy of her historical fiction story book The Golden Pathway for ages 8-12, two complimentary bookmarks included.
Be transported through time to the Underground Railroad, where high-pitched screams echo each night. David’s cruel Pa always chooses the same victim. Despite the circumstances during slavery, David uncovers the courage to defy his Pa.

Raised in a hostile environment where abuse occurs daily, David attempts to break the mold and befriends the slave, Jenkins, owned by his Pa. Fighting against extraordinary times and beliefs, David attempts to lead Jenkins to freedom with no regard for his own safety and possible consequences dealt out by his Pa.

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

Publication Date: August 2010

Print ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-081-1

eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-082-8
FREE shipping via US Postal Service for the remainder of 2010.

Visit: and order yours today for the young muse in your life.

Thank you for your time and interest.
Best wishes for a blessed holiday season!
Donna M. McDine
Children’s Author


Full Media Kit, Headshot, Book Cover Art and more are available upon request.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christy Baldwin Virtual Book Tour

Today I have the pleasure of hosting Christy Baldwin on her Virtual Book Tour. Writing has been a passion of Christy's since she was very young. As a child, she loved to write stories for her grandfather and poems just for fun. She lives in Mason, Ohio with her family and is active in church, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and volunteering with various organizations. Christy has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Cedarville University and a master's degree in Special Education from the University of Scranton. She is a stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her kids and being involved in their schools. Her previous children's titles include Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night and Remembering Wilma.

You can learn more about Christy at:
Christy Baldwin Facebook:

Recently, I read Christy's latest book, Care for Creation, and would like to share my thoughts with you. My review.

Title: Care for Creation
Author: Christy Baldwin
Illustrator: Shelly Draven
Publisher: Tribute Books
ISBN: 9780982256565


By Christy Baldwin
Illustrator Shelly Draven

Genisis 1:1 (NIV) says: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God created a beautiful world for us to live in. With our world comes the responsibility to care for God’s creation. Follow along as author Christy Baldwin takes us on a journey through scripture showing how each of us can fulfill God’s plan in her picture book Care for Creation.

After God formed the heavens and the earth, He made man to rule over the earth and all the creatures. The author interprets each Bible verse she quotes in simple terms for young readers to see how it relates to them. Shelby Draven’s illustrations show a boy and girl swimming in clean water, recycling items, and performing other activities as the author gives examples of how to avoid polluting the air, how to conserve fossil fuels, and other ways to keep our planet clean.

When I was teaching fifth-grade science, we studied conservation using information provided by our Soil and Water Conservation District. The students learned that caring for our world is not just for adults, but they can be a part of it too. In Care for Creation the author and illustrator have presented a unique look at ways children can become involved in saving our world for future generations. An interactive guide at the end of the book would be useful for classroom teachers, for families, and for everyone interested in caring for the land God gave us. After all, it’s the only one we have.

To learn more about Ms. Baldwin and the book check out the following sites:
Book web site:

Tribute Books website:

Tribute Books Facebook:

Tribute Books Twitter:

Thank you, Christy, for letting me host you today.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lori Calabrese Virtual Book Tour

I am delighted to host Lori Calabrese today on her Virtual Book Tour. Lori is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was awarded DFP's Best Children’s Book award. She writes for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at, and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her websites to learn more,
National Children's Books Examiner for

Lori also has a book trailer at:

Now about her lovely debut picture book.

Hoping to win the upcoming Bug-A-Fair, Matt pries a strange bug off the grille of his Dad's car. But as the fair nears, Matt catches a
different kind of bug: a cold. Will Matt become student of the year or will he create a third grade epidemic?

My review:

Title: The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade
Author: Lori Calabrese
Illustrator: Chet Taylor
Publisher: Dragonfly Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-936381-05-0

Lori Calabrese’s THE BUG THAT PLAGUED THE ENTIRE THIRD GRADE is a fun story for young readers about a boy and a bug, a natural combination.

Matt plans to enter the bug he pried off the grill of his dad’s car in the school’s Bug-a-Fair. He doesn’t know what kind of bug it is, but if he can win he’ll be the most popular kid in his class. When he catches a different kind of bug, a cold bug, Matt’s dreams are in jeopardy. Even though his mom wants Matt to stay home from school, it’s the day of the fair. He has to go. So Mom gives in and what follows is a hilarious day with a third-grader, his teacher, and a bug, umm, make that two bugs.

No, I’m not going to tell you what happens. I will say this is a great story, however, that will have young readers giggling and perhaps having a Bug-a-Fair of their own. Chet Taylor’s artwork is priceless. The expressions on the characters’ faces, including the bug’s, add just the right touch to keep the reader turning pages.

As a former third grade teacher I can relate to the teacher’s concern about spreading the cold bug. I recommend the book for children in first through third grades, along with their parents and anyone who knows little boys (or girls) who like bugs. Or even for the kids who think bugs are creepy. After reading Ms. Calabrese’s story, they may decide bugs are pretty cool. A very nice debut book.
Now for a few words about publishing from Lori:
Before You Jump for Joy
By: Lori Calabrese

I’m sure you’ve all received those emails where somebody wants to put a large sum of money directly into your bank account. However, fortunately for you, you weren’t born yesterday. Throughout life we learn to protect ourselves from fraud, scams, and deceptions. But when we become writers and have dreams of seeing our books line bookstore shelves, sometimes it’s easy to let our guard down and watch our good judgment go to the wayside. After all, we long to be published more than anything, so when somebody steps up and says, “Yes!,” we really want to jump for joy!

However, just like those rotten email scams, a writer has to have their red flag alert poised and ready because as small presses are on the rise, unfortunately, so are the scams. Writers must be aware that not all small presses are created equal. Chances are, you’ve slaved over your manuscript and the last thing you want is for it to end up in the wrong hands.

But how do you find the right hands for that manuscript? There are many things you can do.

First, understand the difference between a small press and a vanity publisher. Vanity or subsidy presses usually require payment by authors or a minimum purchase of copies. Small presses on the other hand, make their profits by selling books to consumers. No reputable publisher will ask for money to read or submit your manuscript. Small presses are publishers, which means they engage in a book selection process, along with editing, marketing and distribution. Small presses also present authors with contracts, often paying royalties. Although publishers own the copies they have printed, the author retains the copyright to the book.

As you step into any business venture, the first thing you should do is research the company. You need to find out if this is a company you want to do business with. You can do this through a handy-dandy Google search. Type in the publisher’s name and see what kind of information and articles come up. Don’t forget to search the publisher’s website and be on alert for words such as ‘partnership’ and ‘entrepreneurial,’ that could be signs they are a vanity publisher. While you’re on their website, examine their current catalog. Ask yourself, as you would a large publisher, “Do I see my book fitting in here?” You can also contact authors who are currently under contract with the publisher and ask how they rate them. You’d be surprised how forthcoming authors can be about their experiences.

Next, do your best to find out about the publisher’s distribution. Do they make your book available for purchase with a listing in Ingram or do they have a distributor and a dedicated sales force? Walk into a bookstore and see if you’re able to order one of the publisher’s books. If the bookstore is unable to order any of the publisher’s books, this is a sure sign to steer clear.

Another great way to research a publisher is to peruse the growing number of websites painstakingly created and maintained by people who have your better interests in mind. Check them out from time to time, so you’re aware of the issues, the question marks and the downright dishonest publishers who are scamming authors. Some of the most popular sites are:

-the Absolute Write Water Cooler (
-Preditors and Editors (
-Writer Beware (
After your intense research and if you decide the company’s reputable, submit that manuscript. If accepted, make sure you read your contract carefully. Confirm that the author or illustrator retains copyright to the work, it contains a projected publication date, and it spells out what rights are being purchased along with your royalty rate. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It's your right to ask a publisher about their track record, contract terms, commissions, marketing, distribution and so on. If they're reputable, they should be glad to answer.

Although not all small presses are created equal, keep in mind that success does happen. Small presses are thriving and are great alternatives for authors at a time when the book world continues to struggle economically. So the time you save reading that email that states you’re a millionaire can be time devoted into researching a reputable publisher that might give you that yes you’ve been waiting for. Then you’ll be free to jump for joy!

Sounds like good advice to me. Thank you, Lori, for letting me host you today.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Late Veteran's Day Celebration

Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics, Veteran's Day Graphics at

I know Veteran's Day was yesterday, but life kept me from posting. We should honor our veterans every day of the year, so I'm adding them to my thankful month of November.

My uncle was in WWI.
My brother served as an MP in WWII. He was stationed in Egypt where he met his lovely wife, and their first child was born.
My husband's oldest brother was in WWII.
His second brother served during the Korean War.
My hubby was in the National Guard and then the Army Reserve.

I am thankful to all of the men and women who left their families and risked their lives for me to live in the safety and comfort of a free America.

We could go all the way back to the beginning of our nation and thank our ancestors who fought in the early wars. The American Revolution. The War of 1812. The American Civil War. And so many others. It seems to me that freedom is bought with a high price. I often wonder why we can't live in peace. Wouldn't it be a beautiful world if we loved others and could live in harmony with one another, not seeing our differences but our likenesses.

Anyway, God bless our men and women who gave their all. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Month of Thanksgiving

Quote for the Week:  Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader-not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon. E. L. Doctorow

In this month of November, my thoughts turn to what I have to be thankful for. So this month I'll be mentioning some, along with book tours I'm hosting that I am thankful for as well, because I love to read good books and reviewing them is a wonderful way to do it.

Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics, Thanksgiving Graphics at

Today I'm thankful for God's beautiful world and the creatures he gave us to enjoy.

Yes, I know. The deer are hard to see. This was taken without a telephoto lens (someday I'll get one) at twilight. But you can use a magnifying glass to spot the three deer. Two were in our front pasture and I dashed outside with my camera to snap their picture. Well, of course they ran from the crazy lady with the camera. I managed a couple of pictures. I love the deer. Unfortunately, they are fair game for hunters. Since the season opened, I've been hearing the pop pop of gunfire and can only hope that these little ones are safe.

What are you thankful for, this November, 2010?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Book About Writers

Have you ever wondered how authors got started writing? How long it took them to become published? What they went through to reach that point? Maybe not, but if you have, I'd like to tell you about a new book that will soon be out. How I Wrote My First Book, published by Twilight Times Books, edited by Anne K. Edwards and Lida E. Quillen, is now available at Twilight Times Books as a PDF ARC. It will soon be out in trade paperback.

Twenty authors, including yours truly, tell about the ups and downs of writing their first book. So if you've a hankering to wander the trail of beginnings with them, now's your chance.

Perhaps you'll identify with some of their joys and adventures along the way.

Happy Reading.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Alligators, Friends, and Cassette Tapes

Here it is the middle of the week. Where do the days go? Today I'm sharing the latest books I've read with you. What have you read lately?

The Healing Spell by Kimberley Griffiths Little is the story of Livie, an eleven-year-old with a secret.

The story is about faith and redemption and will tug at your heartstrings. I know it did at mine.

And how many eleven-year-olds do you know who have a baby alligator for a pet?

L. Diane Wolfe's latest novel, The Circle of Friends, Book V - Heather, is the story of Heather Jennings, a young woman whose dream of being a basketball coach at Clemson has come true.

Her personal life though, with her ill father and an irresponsible sister, tests her strength and patience.

Add Heather's unexpected romantic relationship with a man who is opposed to marriage and you have a novel that you can't put down.  

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher's debut novel is a chilling story, chilling because it is so true to life. The blurb on the jacket cover says it all: "Clay Jensen's first love records her last words."

When you read what is on the cassette tapes Hannah Baker leaves behind after she commits suicide, you'll want to run out and hug all the teens you know and promise them that life will get better.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And the Winner Is ...

This weekend I put Patches to work again. She was lazy, but she finally chose a winner from the Halloween stories and comments you left. I wrote the names on paper, put them in the basket, and the results are below.

                                          Patches Checks Them Out

                               She was lazy and dropped the one she chose.
                                     She had just woke up from her nap.

                                      Naptime again. Cats sleep a lot.
                                              And the winner is ...


A copy of Listen to the Ghost, my paranormal young adult novel, will soon be on its way to you, along with other swag. Thanks to all who participated with your great ghost stories and spooky movies and everything. Have a wonderful November, a month for giving thanks for our blessings.

Happy Reading and Writing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The End Is Near

Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics, Halloween Graphics at

Today is the last day to tell us about your Halloween parties, ghostly visitors, meetings with vampires or werewolves, or anything else related to spooky happenings.

How about a favorite movie that turned your knees to water and gave you nightmares for months after? One of my favorites is Carrie, based on Stephen King's book. There are others, but my mind at the moment is blank. Well, it stays that way most of the time.

Anyhow, on Saturday I'll write everyone's name who has left a comment on Post It Notes then Patches will draw the winner for some swag and maybe even a book. She's getting quite good at choosing.

Have a happy and safe Halloweeen.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vampires, Werewolves, and Zombies

Quote of the week: I try to leave out the parts that people skip. Elmore Leonard.

Today let's look at books about our favorite vampires, werewolves, and zombies. But first, a couple more ghost stories that I enjoyed.

Ghost for Rent by Penny Lockwood
Perfect for MG/Tween Readers


                                                           Ghost Cadet
                                           by Elaine Marie Alphin

And how about these books to get your blood flowing?

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, by Carrie Ryan, for The Unconsecrated. Spooky.
For vampires and werewolves (I'm a Jacob fan by the way) we have The Twilight Series. Stephenie Meyer.

We find werewolve we have to love in Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver.
And Annette Curtis Klause creates a cool vampire in The Silver Kiss. Then she introduces us to werewolves in Blood and Chocolate.

So curl up with a creature of your choice and enjoy. Be sure to leave the lights on after midnight.

Now, tell us about your favorite spooky books. Remember, readers who participate will be entered in a drawing for some cool swag. The fun begins.

Happy Reading

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Golden Pathway Virtual Book Tour Reaches the Homestretch

The Golden Pathway banner

It's hard to believe that The Golden Pathway virtual book tour coordinated by Pump Up Your Book Promotion reaches the homestretch. The adventure of introducing David and Jenkins to the literary world has been a wonderful opportunity to meet so many advid readers I may have never met otherwise. Even though this portion of the journey will end on October 29, I'm anxious to keep their story swirling through cyberspace and into classrooms, libraries, and bookstores. So don't forget to check back for updates on appearances both vritually and in person.

Thank you to one and all for your never ending support and please follow along on the last stops, for when one's journey ends, another adventure awaits.

Monday, October 25
Book spotlighted at Book Tours and More

Thursday, October 28
Book reviewed at Thoughts in Progress

Friday, October 29
Book reviewed at Book Reviews by Molly

Guest blogging at SFC Blog: Families Matter
Thank you for your time and interest!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Teen Read Week

Okay, I know it's almost over and you've probably already celebrated Teen Read Week by reading fantastic books for teens or blogging about it or whatever. If you're late to the party, the way I am, some great stuff is over at ALA, so take a few minutes and have a fun Friday. I'm headed that way to do the same.

Have a nice weekend.
Happy Reading.