Friday, December 31, 2010


Myspace Graphics
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

Myspace Graphics
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.