Friday, September 30, 2011

Blank Canvas

“Dreams are like the paints of a great artist. Your dreams are your paints, the world is your canvas. Believing, is the brush that converts your dreams into a masterpiece of reality.”
~ Unknown

Stock up on lots of beautiful colors, ready your collection of brushes, and fill your canvas. You are an artist. Believe it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


"Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be."

~ Karen Ravn

And from Dream by Susan V. Bosak:
I understood that the world at its best
is green.
Dreams grow like seeds.
They need to take root,
then stretch toward the sun.
They grow slowly. 
They must be tended to. 
And sometimes a gray day
gives them just the rain they need.

Dream a dream with me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Sweet Farts

 Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Sweet Farts
by Raymond Bean

  Goodreads Blurb:
Someone has been farting up a storm at school and everyone thinks Keith Emerson is to blame. Unfortunately for Keith, it has earned him the nickname "S.B.D." (silent but deadly). To make matters worse, Keith's dad is a self proclaimed "Fart Machine" who really stinks it up at home. With the science fair quickly approaching, Keith decides he has had enough. He comes up with a science fair project idea to turn the foul smell of human gas into something sweet smelling. The idea lands him in the principal's office, and in big trouble with his mom. With the help of his little sister Emma, his dad, his crazy grandma, and Benjamin Franklin (great American scientist), Keith will attempt to make the greatest scientific discovery of all time, the cure for the common fart.
To be honest, I haven't read this book myself yet, but my 9-year-old read it and really enjoyed it. If the number of times he cracked up giggling is any measure, then I'd say this one's a winner with lower MG boys.  

There is now a second one in print:

Sweet Farts: Rippin' it Old School

** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: **
 Happy Monday!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Look Out Your Window

"Good writing is like a windowpane."
~ George Orwell

Pull up a chair. Pull back the shade.



Have a word-filled weekend, writer friends.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Smile with Me Today

Today, I'm in need of some happy. I'm not my perky, upbeat self, and I hate it when I'm not perky. Luckily, I have a no-fail pick-me-up: William Wordsworth and the Daffodil Poem. It always makes my heart smile.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
~ William Wordsworth
This is one of my favorite poems. I love the idea of gazing at the beauty before us, and then calling it up in our mind's eye to appreciate it again later. That's something good writers do well. We observe the world around us with sharper vision, always looking for the details, storing them for future use.

This poem is one of my "happy thoughts". I think of it when I'm feeling stressed or blue and then, like Wordsworth, " heart with pleasure fills, / And dances with the daffodils." Today, I hope we all have dancing hearts. 

What makes your heart dance?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Just Business

"That's the essential goal of the writer: you slice out a piece of yourself and slap it down on the desk in front of you. You try to put it on paper, try to describe it in a way that the reader can see and feel and touch. You paste all your nerve endings into it and then give it out to strangers who don't know you or understand you. And you will feel everything that happens to that story -- if they like it, if they hate it. Because no matter how you try to distance yourself from it, to some degree you feel that if they hate it, they hate you.
Which isn't the truth, you understand. At least you understand that in your head...but not always in your heart."
- Stephen Leigh

Remember that feedback is not usually personal--it's constructive; it's helpful; it's business. It's not personal.

And no matter what, remember that your book does not = YOU.

 Hang in there, 
keep writing, and 
work for that dream!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Go Read This . . .

"To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone - just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over...." 
- John Hersey 

Valerie Geary  of
Something to Write About

My fabulous critique partner, Valerie Geary, had THIS beautiful post on her blog yesterday. It resonated with me in a powerful way, as I'm sure it did with every writer who visited. It's a post of such powerful TRUTH that I feel compelled to share it.

Rather than take up your time here today, I ask you to go visit Valerie and read her post in its entirety. To pique your interest, though, here is a snippet of what you'll find there:
I wanted my love for writing to be simple again. For it to be about nothing more difficult than creating and trying to find beauty amid this chaos we call life. But in order to do that, I needed to let go of my inhibitions and start trusting myself again. I needed to stop rushing headlong towards my what-if future and start living in my present.         

So I shelved my fifth manuscript and started a new one, number six, and was delighted to find it felt nothing like giving up.

In fact, quite the opposite: it felt like ropes slipping free, like running full-tilt down a steep hill, like swimming in a snow-cold stream. It felt very much like freedom.

And I realized then that letting go is not equivalent to giving up and in the letting go there is opportunity for rediscovery, for finding beauty and joy and truths unexpected. 

Go. Read. Enjoy!  

Monday, September 19, 2011

MMGM + Blog Tour - My Very Un Fairy Tale Life

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

My Very Un Fairy Tale Life
by Anna Staniszewski

Expected publication: November 1st 2011 
by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Goodreads Blurb:
"You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They're lies. All lies."—Twelve-year-old Jenny has spent the last two years as an adventurer helping magical kingdoms around the universe. But it's a thankless job, leaving her no time for school or friends. She'd almost rather take a math test than rescue yet another magical creature! When Jenny is sent on yet another mission, she has a tough choice to make: quit and have her normal life back, or fulfill her promise and go into a battle she doesn't think she can win.
Middle grade girls are going to LOVE this book! Oh, my gosh, this book is adorable! You will love Jenny and her magical friends (especially the frogs!) and Prince Lamb (too cute for words) and my favorite, her aunt. Jenny's aunt is priceless. She's always talking to ducks or trying to feed Jenny dog biscuits--I love her.

The humor in this story is constant throughout--from page one to the very last paragraph. One of the most playful aspects is Jenny's use of cliches, which work wonders for her. My take on this book is simple: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! This book is worth every penny. I can't wait to share it with my students (I've already book-talked it and they want it--now!).

** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: **
 Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Skill = Repetition

"You have to have a lot of patience to learn patience."
~ Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

I have never been a patient person. There was a time when if I wanted something, I wanted it YESTERDAY. Thankfully, I'm not that bad anymore. I've learned something about humans over the years. God likes to give us LOTS of opportunities to strengthen our areas of weakness.

The harder something is for us, the more likely we are to experience regular opportunities to practice. My husband is a master of patience (yes, he's still alive, I'm a saint), and that has not been easy for someone like me. At all. has helped me practice. A lot.

To be good readers, we have to read. To be good writers, we have to write. To be good musicians, listeners, athletes, spouses, artists... we must practice. Skill = repetition. Period.

I get LOTS of opportunities to practice patience.

What is opportunity helping you practice?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Failure Is Not An Option

Failure Does Not Mean You're a Failure

Failure does not mean I’m a failure;
It does mean I have not yet succeeded.

Failure does not mean I have accomplished nothing;
It does mean I have learned something.

Failure does not mean I have been a fool;
It does mean I had enough faith to experiment.

Failure does not mean I have disgraced;
It does mean I have dared to try.

Failure does not mean I don’t have it;
It does mean I have something to do in a different way.

Failure does not mean I am inferior;
It does mean I am not perfect.

Failure does not mean I have wasted my life;
It does mean that I have an excuse to start over.

Failure does not mean that I should give up;
It does mean that I should try harder.

Failure does not mean that I will never make it;
It does mean that I need more practice.
~ Author Unknown 

 Failure today does not mean we can't succeed tomorrow!
Can you add anything to these?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Great Three Years

"When you begin to touch your heart or let your heart be touched, you begin to discover that it's bottomless." 
~ Pema Chodron

Besties Xoxo

Three years ago, I started this blog. I was hoping to connect with a few other writers or maybe learn a bit about how to navigate my way through this crazy journey. When I began, I had no idea how much my life would be changed.
Today, I have more followers than I ever dreamed possible. I have blog friends I feel closer to than my IRL friends. I have the world's greatest critique partner (love ya, Valerie!). And all because of blogging.
We say it a lot--how great this blogging community is--but I wanted to say it again. I really LOVE you guys! I wouldn't have made it through the past three years without all of you. You keep me going when the doubts hit and buoy me with your comments. You celebrate with me when our friends succeed and dream with me of joining their ranks one day. It's amazing to be reminded, every single day, that I am not in this alone. None of us are. And how awesome is that?!

Thanks for a great three years, besties!  
I loves ya!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Huber Hill and the Dead Man's Treasure

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday
Huber Hill and the Dead Man's Treasure
by BK Bostick

Expected publication: October 8th 2011 by Bonneville Books

Shannon Whitney Messenger decided it was time to give middle grade stories the attention they deserve, and "Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays" was born.  

Goodreads Blurb:
When his grandfather dies, Huber Hill is devastated---until he opens Grandpa Nick's mysterious box. An old gold coin and directions to a hidden Spanish treasure send him and his friends off on an mind-blowing adventure, but he's not the only one on the hunt. Filled with dangerous animals and cryptic puzzles, this book will have you on the edge of your seat until the last page.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and have been waiting for what feels like forever to write this post! In my opinion, this is a textbook example of middle grade adventure--full of surprise twists and turns, cool bad guys, just a hint of romance (more like a crush) and of course, treasure hunting. This is an especially great MG read for boys, although it will definitely appeal to girls as well.

This week I am super-excited to be able to include a guest post from BK about his writing journey, written just for us! ENJOY!


My Journey to Publication:

I was teaching 4th grade five years ago and Brandon Mull came to visit our school to do an assembly. The kids ate up his presentation and so did I. At the time, about half of the kids in the class were reading Fablehaven. I remember thinking how wonderful it would be to inspire kids (especially boys) to read. I think all of us have a story growing in our minds at one time or another. At that time, Huber Hill and the Dead Man’s Treasure was just sprouting and beginning to take shape.

Soon thereafter, I was inspired to outline and begin writing the story. The first ten pages were the hardest! I spent about a year on the first draft, dabbling here and there at night and on the weekends. I attended writing classes and groups to help me polish the narrative. At last I finished a draft I was happy with. It wasn’t until then that I realized writing the story was the easy part!

Breaking into the publishing industry is a bit like trying to squeeze through a doorway with a hundred other people trying to do the same thing- no easy feat. To help me wade through the process, I purchased the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market Guide and joined SCBWI. I attended conferences and made connections. These connections ended up being vital to my survival as a writer. Not only does having a network boost morale, you can receive guidance and encouragement from people who have been in your shoes before.

Despite all of this, I continued to receive a lot of friendly rejection letters from agents and publishers. At one point I considered giving up and threw the manuscript in the trash. A couple of months later, I reprinted it. I rewrote my query letter which I believe made all the difference. My first query letter, I’d tried too hard to tailor it to what I thought the publisher wanted to hear. I threw conventional wisdom out the window and decided to write the letter in my own voice. I shortened my synopsis and detailed the real reasons I wrote the book. That’s when things started to happen. I soon received a contract and was ecstatic! I even danced around the house (and I don’t dance)! However, it didn’t take me long to realize that a lot of work and stress lay ahead- revisions, deadlines, marketing strategies/costs, disagreements with your editor/publisher, building a fan base, assembly presentations, and getting endorsements all while still working full time and juggling everyday life.

Having said that, the ride has been wonderful and I’m so happy I didn’t leave the story in the trash. The feeling that my story will be read by thousands of kids is one I wouldn’t trade for anything. Plus it's allowed me to help a neighbor of mine which I couldn't have done otherwise. Please visit:

For those who have finished their manuscript and are stuck in the limbo of the submissions process, I say don’t give up. Continue to hone your craft and knock on doors. Eventually, one will open.


*** Others who can be counted on for a great MMGM review each week: ***
 Happy Monday!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Act of Publicity - Chelsea Campbell

A Random Act of Publicity 

The Rise of Renegade X

 Published May 11th 2010 by EgmontUSA

The reason for the book I'm BLLuRTing today is simple: it's a great story that flew under the radar. I don't know Chelsea, but I do love her book. I've never figured out why it didn't receive more acclaim--it's a classic hero/villain story for both MG & YA readers, especially boys. WE NEED TO PROMOTE THIS BOOK, PEOPLE! Read it, review it, tweet it, EVERYTHING it!  

Goodreads Blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she's been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father's too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he's not a hero in any way, or else he's stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad's "flying lessons" that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city--despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights--thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she's his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

Chelsea's GOODREADS AUTHOR page 
Chelsea's WEBSITE.

Renegade X on Goodreads and Amazon

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Random Act Of Publicity - Heather McCorkle

*** I'm a guest blogger over at Peace Garden Writer
Please stop by and say hello.***  

A Random Act of Publicity

Heather McCorkle

Many of you probably know Heather. She is a member of our blogging circle and author of the blog, Heather's Odyssey. For the past couple of years I've watched as Heather has had many near-brushes with agents and publishing contracts. In fact, she did have an offer of publication which she ultimately turned down in favor of self-publishing. It was a difficult decision for her, and I admire her courage and determination. Her book, The Secret of Spruce Knoll (I love that title) has received nothing but rave reviews.

The Secret of Spruce Knoll
Published August 15th, 2011 by Abbott Press

The Secret Of Spruce KnollGoodreads Blurb:
It’s hard enough being a teenager under normal circumstances; imagine being orphaned, sent to live with an unfamiliar aunt—and learning that there really is magic in the world. Following the tragic death of her parents, Eren Donovan moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt. Little does Eren know the entire town of Spruce Knoll is filled with “channelers”—a magical group of people who immigrated to the small Colorado town when they were driven out of their own lands.

Channelers are tied to the fate of the world. As the world slowly dies, so do they—and they alone have the power to stop the destruction of Earth. Now, Eren learns she not only lives among them, but she is one. When she meets local boy Aiden, his charm convinces her that being a channeler may not be all bad.

As Eren and Aiden’s relationship blooms, so too does a mystery in Spruce Knoll. The town holds many secrets—and many enemies. It soon becomes apparent that the untimely death of Eren’s parents-and Aidens-was no accident and that her life might be in danger, too. Only time will tell if Eren has the power to protect the people she has come to love.

Show Your Support:
Check out The Secret of Spruce Knoll on Goodreads and Amazon 
Go visit Heather's BLOG and her GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Really Good Editing

*** I'm a guest blogger over at Peace Garden Writer today. 
Please stop by and say hello.***  

A Random Act of Publicity 
Freelance editor, Harrison Demchick
Really Good Editing Services

As part of Random Acts of Publicity Week 2011, I couldn't resist a plug for an awesome editor. It may not be a BLLuRT for a particular book, but it IS book related. 

Just like many of you, I enjoy reviewing and hosting blog tours for upcoming releases. I have done this a couple of times for Bancroft Press, my favorite being The Atomic Weight of Secrets, which I've reviewed a couple of times.

Harrison Demchick is my go-to guy from Bancroft. He recently noticed that I'm a writer and told me about his freelance editing business. I've never paid to have my manuscript professionally edited and, to be honest, never thought I could afford it. Until now.

Because Harrison is a professional editor, and because I have had such an awesome e-mail relationship with him (FYI: he is amazing at answering emails), my husband and I agreed to take the leap. Wow, wow, wow. I am SO GLAD I did. Even my husband said his comments about my manuscript were brilliant!

I knew from agent comments that something about my story wasn't clicking, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what or how to fix it. Harrison nailed it for me, and the "fix" could not be clearer. Now, I feel like I just need some serious time in the writing cave to hammer it out. And guess what I'll do then? I'll send it right back to Harrison for another round of edits.

I have never recommended something on this blog (other than books) that would cost you money, but I can't recommend Harrison highly enough. I assure you, his comments are worth their weight in gold--and then some. If you are struggling with an area of your manuscript, looking for a reliable set of extra eyes and constructive criticism, or preparing to query/submit, consider sending your story to Harrison. You won't be sorry. much will it cost?

For a complete developmental edit, analyzing absolutely everything there is to be analyzed, he generally charges three cents a word.  

Copy edits are cheaper

He's also doing a limited-time promotional deal: he'll do a close read and write up a detailed one or two-page single-spaced editorial report for $149--fully deductible from the total cost of a developmental edit if you then choose to go that route. (this is what I did)
Email contact:
hdemchick at gmail dot com

A message from Harrison:

Someone asked about the website. Right now, I’m using Facebook, until my web designer finishes my website.
*** (And the 1-2-page deal is $99 right now.) ***

He also wanted to let you know that he'll be answering emails later today!!

Have you ever paid for professional editing? 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Random Acts of Publicity Week

Random Acts of Publicity Week

I found out about this awesome idea from Elana J, and I'll be participating at least once this week. I hope you'll join in, too.

It’s all about your Friend’s book.

The 3rd Annual Random Acts of Publicity, September 6-8, 2011 is a week to celebrate your Friend’s book, or your favorite book, by doing a Random Act of Publicity: Blog, link, Like, review, or talk about the book. (BLLuRT it Out!)

Here's some important info from the
Random Acts of Publicity 2011
site, run by Darcy Pattison.
Go visit her and you can even sign up for some fun newsletters!

FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions:

Who can participate?
Anyone who wants to help a book get noticed by readers. We are focusing on helping a Friend’s book get noticed, but you can also choose to help your favorite book get noticed.
What do I do?
BLLuRT or Post. Or both.
( The basic tasks for book marketing online remain the same, BLLuRT! Do one of these each day for your Friend’s book or for your favorite book.
  • B is for Blog. Blog about a book, the author or anything related.
  • L is for Link. ( Link to something about the book, the author’s page, the book selling page, anything.
  • L is for LIKE. ( ) LIKE the book’s Facebook page, the author’s page. Or Add them to your Google+.
  • R is for Review. ( ) Review a book. Some experts suggest that books tend to break out when they get over 25 reviews on Amazon, GoodReads or other booksites.
  • T is for Tell or Talk. ( )Tell someone about a book. Your friend, a teacher, a librarian, anyone. Talk about the book—why did you like it? What excited you about this book? Why should I read it?
It’s also a great week to post something about book marketing, perhaps a personal experience, a tutorial, a tips sheet. Put the URL of your post in the Random Acts of Publicity Facebook Event Page for others to read.
What books should I talk about this week?
Your Friend’s book or your favorite book. We are focusing especially on new books or less well-known books. Focus on a great book that not many readers know about.
Can Publishers participate?
Yes, you can BLLuRT about books, too. We ask that you focus on mid-list or new authors, those who could benefit from a boost during Random Acts of Publicity week. We know it’s your job to BLLuRT about the front-list, that and much more; as an individual working in book publishing, though, we are asking that you champion a dark horse during Random Acts of Publicity Week. 
Facebook Event Page:


Monday, September 5, 2011

Lockdown Winner!

Book 1 of the Escape from Furnace Series
Alexander Gordon Smith

Escape from Furnace Series by Alexander Gordon Smith
Includes: Lockdown, Solitary, Death Sentence, Fugitives (Available in 2012), 
and Execution (Available in 2012).
Congratulations to
Thanks to all who entered. I hope you'll still pick up a copy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Lockdown Giveaway!

Book 1 of the Escape from Furnace Series
Alexander Gordon Smith

Escape from Furnace Series by Alexander Gordon Smith
Includes: Lockdown, Solitary, Death Sentence, Fugitives (Available in 2012), 
and Execution (Available in 2012).

Goodreads Blurb:
Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison. 
Together with a bunch of inmates—some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers—Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.
To celebrate the upcoming release of  this teen horror series (which I recommend for grades 7 and up), I've been given the opportunity to give a copy awayThank you, Macmillan!


Additional Links:
Become a Facebook fan:
Macmillan page for the book & author:

Just leave a comment and your email on this post
by September 5th
for a chance to win!

Good Luck!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back to the Books Giveaway Hop

This hop is HUGE! It's being hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer. I can't believe the number of participating blogs, which means an amazing number of opportunities to win.  Participating blogs are all featuring book related giveaways. The window of time to enter is from September 1st - September 7th. You can find the linky at the bottom of my post. 

My Giveaway: 

 One winner will receive ALL FOUR books.

How to enter:
1. Be a follower of my blog
2. Leave a comment on this post by Sept. 7th 
3. Include an email with your comment

That's all folks!  
Good Luck
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