Saturday, May 31, 2008

June is ‘Book Reviewing’ month at Blogcritics Magazine!

June is 'Book Reviewing' month at Blogcritics Magazine!

To promote the release of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, co-author Mayra Calvani will be interviewing 15+ reviewers and review editors during the month of June. Learn all about the business of book reviewing and what's in the mind of some of the most popular reviewers on the internet today. Some of the guests will include: Alex Moore from ForeWord Magazine, James Cox from Midwest Book Review, Irene Watson from Reader Views, Andrea Sisco from Armchair Interviews, Magdalena Ball from The Compulsive Reader, Sharyn McGinty from In The Library Reviews, Lea Schizas from Muse Book Reviews, Linda Baldwin from Road to Romance, Hilary Williamson from Book Loons, Judy Clark from Mostly Fiction, and many others!

To see the complete lineup, visit: The Slippery Book Review Blog.

Between June 1st and June 30th, stop by Blogcritics and leave a comment under the reviewer interviews for a chance to win a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour (coordinated by book marketing guru Dorothy Thompson), OR, as an alternative to a non-author winner, a $50 B&N gift certificate!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Book Review - Secrets I Have Kept by Beverly Stowe McClure

Hello on over to The National Writing for Children Center - and check out my book review of Secrets I Have Kept by Beverly Stowe McClure.

Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

A Soldier's Wish
Let my sacrifice be not in van. What I ask of you is this...
Cherish your freedom each and every day.
Speak freely but listen, too.
Have a dream and see it through.
Lift others up not just by words, but actions.
Be not quick to complain but first to make change.
Live with honor in all that you do.
Give your children and the world a future.
Show love when it is least expected.
Always let hope be your guide.
And live for those who sacrificed to make it all possible.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Guest Author ~ V.B. Rosendahl

What Inspires You to Write?

By VB Rosendahl
Guest Blogger

Hi everyone! I’m honored to be guest blogger today and want to say thanks so much for the invite.

When I saw the topic … inspiration… I had to sit down for a minute and think. It’s kind of an ethereal subject, really. Its substance can be both filmy and light and then heavy as a 100 pound block of concrete.

I write stories because, well, that’s what I’ve always done. I wrote when my parents were getting divorced and I was a 13 year old in 1969 (stories about a girl in a happy family), when they both died when I was 18, and when I was searching for more meaning in my life.

Where the real inspiration part comes in, I think, is in linking ideas and possibilities and molding them into something someone else might be interested in reading. Sometimes it’s the details – a character with a deformity, a school with sand in its front yard, a cool little out of the way island restaurant with a huge kitchen garden – that increase inspiration for me.

Bitter Tastes, my first mystery for kids, came from a short story I originally wrote back in 1995. I love the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the way of life on Ocracoke in particular. I wondered what it would be like growing up there and going to a school that had all 12 grades in one small building. Then I thought about what it would be like to be in a new school (where they get maybe one new kid every 5 years or so) and have a secret you’re desperate to keep hidden.

Once in a while inspiration is churning along just fine but momentum grinds its gears and all you can do is wait. That’s what’s happening to me right now. I’ve been working on a rewrite of Mudder, the second book in the Kathy & Martha Mystery Series, for over a year. Yeah, you read that right. About 15 months now.

Some would say it’s writer’s block but I don’t believe in that. I’m right at that crucial point where everything in the mystery needs to pick up to a furious pace but I wasn’t sure how to do that – until this past Sunday when I saw an article in my local paper.

Then inspiration and the muse joined up and started dancing on my head again. Let me explain: the climax of my new novel revolves around a treasure hunt. But I didn’t want it to be just any treasure hunt. Then I saw the article in the paper about a local treasure hunt that included brain teasers as well. Ah! Now I have something.

See? That’s what inspiration is for me. The neat part is that I’m never sure when it’ll happen, it just always does.

What inspires you to write?

VB Rosendahl

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Once Upon A Time Magazine ~ Acceptance

My article entitled, "The Worthy Writer's Conference," has been published in the Summer 2008 Vol. 19 #2 issue of Once Upon A Time...A Highly Specialized Magazine for Children's Writers & Illustrators! YIPPEE!

The Muse Book Reviews - Bitter Tastes by V.B. Rosendahl

My book review of "Bitter Tastes," by V.B. Rosendahl is now published at The Muse Book Reviews - - once you arrive at The Muse Book Reviews please click on the book cover to read.
Please sure to cruise on over to check it out and all the other wonderful book reviews.
Also, stop back tomorrow when V.B. Rosendahl will be my guest author for the day.
Thank you.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Donna McDine Interview by Mayra Calvani

Hello All:

I'm thrilled to announce that Mayra Calvani, author of "The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing," (Twilight Times Books, June 2008) in a cross promotional effort interviewed me recently.

The interview is now published at: Blog Critics -

We'd be pleased if you'd leave a comment after you read the interview.

Thank you.

Have an inspiring day!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Inspire a New Generation of Writers

Short Story Contest for Kids
To Celebrate the Launch of Rainbow Sheep, by Kim Chatel.

Enter to win this needle-felted Rainbow Sheep, Turquoise Tessa! This sheep is hand-made by the author with the same technique used to illustrate the book. Tessa sings “You Light Up My Life.”

Genevieve is a little shepherdess with a big imagination. When she finds a sad, pale rainbow, she tells him funny stories until he cries happy tears and his colors return. Genevieve’s sheep are caught in the colorful rain of tears and become the “Rainbow Sheep.”

If you found a sad rainbow what funny story would you tell him? Play the “Story Game” to create your own story for the Rainbow. Write your story and draw a picture to go along with it. Then ask your parents to send it to author, Kim Chatel. Have your story posted on the Rainbow Sheep Website and enter into a chance to win your own Rainbow Sheep music box!

Find all the details and download the entry forms at

Sunday, May 18, 2008

ICL's Guest Chat with Harold Underdown ~ Moderator Jan Fields

Institute of Children's Literature - Guest Chat:

Thursday, May 22 -- Harold Underdown
"Down the Publishing Path"

Harold Underdown, editor and writer of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books will be with us to help us understand all the steps along the publishing path and how to walk it more smoothly. To learn more about Harold, check out

Remember, to send any questions for Harold, just drop an email to or
Come and hear Harold:
Thursday evening, May 22, 2008
9-11 p.m. Atlantic
8-10 p.m. Eastern
7-9 p.m. Central
6-8 p.m. Mountain
5-7 p.m. Pacific

Friday, May 16, 2008

How I Became a Children's Writer

Guest Blogger, Kim Chatel

In college creative writing class, we did a semester of writing for children. It was the hardest course in my school career. Even poetry class couldn’t compare, and no one has ever accused me of being a poet. In Children’s Lit 101 we wrote Limericks, short stories and a play. I sweated blood for each assignment. I couldn’t think of one story for children. I forced myself to write about Wally Whale who was hearty and hale…Oh yes, it got worse after that. And the four seasons, who—wait for it—argued like siblings. Very orgininal.

Why was writing for children so scary to me? Because I had no experience with kids. I was the youngest in my extended family. I had never babysat or volunteered with kids. They were an alien breed to me.

Then I got married. My husband had two young boys at the time. I learned to settle rowdy children for bed. I found ways to pass long rainy afternoons. I had a baby of my own and sang silly songs to distract her while trying to change messy diapers. I watched the same children’s shows over and over again until they were part of my nightmares. I memorized Dr. Suess’ ABC Book, and read other children’s books by the dozens. In short, I became a mother.

So how does all this translate to fiction? Well, one evening during a storm, my daughter couldn’t sleep. I started a game with her that would last for years. I gave her a dream. This funny story was something she could latch onto while she tried to sleep and I told her to finish it in her dreams.

The first of these story-dreams was an early version of “Rainbow Sheep.” Of course it wasn’t as simple as that. The story went through many revisions before it was ready to submit for publication, but the basic story is the same one I told on that rainy night so many years ago.

About that time, I picked up needle-felting as a hobby. I made all kinds of music boxes and Christmas Tree ornaments. Because needle-felting is a new craft, I was completely self taught, which was great in one respect: no one could tell me I was doing it wrong!

Needle-felting is like sculpting with wool. I had been making three dimensional ornaments, now I decided to try felt-paintings. I was always fascinated by picture books illustrated with alternate forms of art such as Eric Carle’s collages or Barbara Reid’s plasticene-relief illustrations from “The New Baby Calf,” (author Edith Newlin Chase). These books worked on my subconscious, inspiring me to merged my own art with my fiction. I stretched a wool canvas over a wooden frame and felted my illustrations onto this medium. I had no idea if any publisher would be interested in such a thing. And because each frame took about 8 hours to complete, I made only three to begin with. When the publisher at Guardian Angel told me she was interested in not only in the story, but in the art as well, I quickly got busy making another seven frames!

The result is a unique book, very special to my heart from beginning to end. You can see a selection of my fiber art on my site as well as an intro into the art of needle-felting at There is also a trailer with a short clip of me making a felt Rainbow Sheep.

I hope children will enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed making it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Book Review ~ Rainbow Sheep by Kim Chatel

Cruise on over to The National Writing for Children Center - and read my book review of "Rainbow Sheep," by Kim Chatel.

While you are there take the time out to read many of the other fantastic articles!

Institute of Children's Literature Rx for Writers

I'm thrilled to announce that my article "How to Get and Stay Organized for Your Blooming Writing Career," is now published in the Rx for Writers at the ICL website:

In Publishing Paths:
Tips for organizing with files -- both paper and digital.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tidbits from the Internet from Children's Writing Update

Here is a glimpse of what Children's Writing Update by Children's Book Insider offers in their newsletter. Be sure to check them out at:

Tidbits from the Internet

Big Universe - Online children's bookshop where you can read and purchase electronic picture books, or create your own for online publication. Their URL is Here's a recent piece from Publisher's Weekly about the site.

JacketFlap - Terrific social networking site for children's book writers, illustrators, librarians and publishing professionals. Free and very easy to use. Highly recommended. (And, after you sign up, visit our JacketFlap page to become added as one of our friends.) - Awesome free tool that allows you fax any document from your computer - without fax software. Lots of other neat ways to share files, too.

Authonomy - A new site, now in beta testing, from HarperCollins that has industry folks buzzing. It will be a social network site that will allow writers to upload manuscripts, which will be read and judged by other members of the network. The site will use "the public’s recommendations to search out the cream of the crop – and showcase those titles to the book world at large". The actual site will be at There's a company blog up now which addresses common questions. Here's some of what the rest of the blogosphere is saying.

Snopes - Every day I get a forwarded message from some well-meaning person. Bill Gates is giving money away...Barack Obama is this....John McCain is that....a new computer virus will suck your soul out of your body. It usually takes me all of 3 seconds to determine that it's a hoax, thanks to the venerable database of urban myths. If you get a forwarded message, before you drop your entire address book's contents into the CC: section and hit send, please, please, please check it out on Snopes first. (Also, for writers, the site is a hoot -- filled with all kinds of wildly imaginative stuff that you can you use to spark your own ideas. Just be sure to put them in your next book rather than your next mass e-mail!)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

"Mrs. Biddlebox ~ Her Bad Day & What She Did About It" Book Review

Surf on over to the May issue of Stories for Children Magazine and read my book review of "Mrs. Biddlebox ~ Her Bad Day and What She Did About It!" by Linda Smith ~
While you are there be sure to check out all the wonderful submissions to the May issue of SFC.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Dyan Garris ~ Daily Channeled Message

I want to tell you that the energy of the day constitutes “breakthrough,” but it doesn’t. Today is a day for wrapping up loose ends and finishing old projects. Breakthrough is on the way, but just not yet. You may be challenged to do some things that take you a little out of your comfort zone or your realm of expertise. You may find this frustrating at first, but the challenge is to relax the mind so that new ways of doing things can come in. Nothing can come in if you are focused on what you already know. The miracle happens when you open a pathway to what you don’t know. Then you can say, incredulously, “Well, what do you know!” Miracles happen every day. Open so “breakthrough” can come through more easily.

Voice of the Angels - Daily Channeled Message (c) Dyan Garris

Many blessings to you,

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Kim Chatel ~ Author of Rainbow Sheep

Kim Chatel, author of "Rainbow Sheep" will be my guest author at my blog - on Thursday, May 29th.Check back in the near future for my book review of "Rainbow Sheep."

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Institute of Children's Literature - Advanced Book Course

I have been working on a historical fiction manuscript through the Institute of Children's Literature Advanced Book Course and received back my instructor's comments on Assignment #3 today that I am excited to share with you:

"Super job with immediate conflict, underlying conflict, action and dialogue."

My instructor's comments definitely lifted me up today and I'm forging on with Assignment #4. I'll keep you posted....Thanks!

Harold Underdown is Today's Guest on Book Bites for Kids!

Listen to Book Bites for Kids, LIVE on blogtalkradio today at 2:00 central time when host, Suzanne Lieurance, will talk with children's editor Harold D. Underdown.

Underdown is the author of The Complete Idiot's Guild to Publishing Children's Books (the third edition was recently released) and maintains an informative website for anyone interested in children's writing and publishing, called The Purple Crayon.

Call in to ask a question or make a comment during the live show at 1-646-716-9239.

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Foot is Stuck at the Revolving Door

Ever feel that spinning roller coaster hyperventilation when no matter how much you pull or push your foot forward/backward, you can't budge? Feels like in a dream, where you want to run but quicksand has a hold on you? NO? Okay, then you are NOT a writer.

Writers would understand my picture above meaning stuck at a story, in other words: WRITER'S BLOCK.

Yikes! Why do those two words frighten so many? My conclusion is that writer's block occurs to many writers because they sit for long periods staring at a blank page, unsure where to continue with their story. Remedy? Put it away for a spell. Leave your muse cells take a break from that story and move on to another one you may have started.

What time apart with one of your babies (manuscripts) does is it allows your mind to unblock with whatever stumbling block there was to begin with.

Maybe you're not moving forward because you keep going back and rereading what you wrote yesterday/last week/last month and giving less time to the actual moving forward writing necesary.

Don't go back and edit your work while writing. Wear your writer's hat, finish the novel/story, and as soon as THE END is penned, then switch to your editor's hat and dissect that first draft to bits and pieces.

Okay, so I jumped from writer's block to wearing two different hats. Hey, I don't have writer's block but tons of ideas and tips in my head and they want to crawl out. I can't help it. I'm a writer.

Have you had writer's block? How did you 'unblock' yourself? I'd love to hear from you.

Lea Schizas

Friday, May 2, 2008

Children's Author & Coach Interview ~ Suzanne Lieurance

Suzanne Lieurance is not only a successful full-time freelance children’s writer, she coaches’ students in the skills of writing for children. Suzanne’s experience and wealth of knowledge is quite evident when you sit in on one of her numerous tele-classes. The electronic airwaves of the internet and telephone lines spark with her energetic and inspiring teachings. Her students are kept active in their writing through weekly assignments, critique sessions and tele-classes. Get ready to immerse yourself in learning more about Suzanne through her interview and visiting her websites. I’m sure you will be motivated to become the best writer you can be through Suzanne’s expertise.

Donna McDine: What inspires you to write?

Suzanne Lieurance: Gosh. No one has ever asked me that question. I guess anything and everything inspires me to write because I just HAVE to write. I can’t NOT write. And you never know what will turn up in my stories. Once I had chocolate raspberry coffee and cranberry orange muffins when I was visiting a friend. A little while later, I wrote a story that I sold to a coffee company to put on their coffee can labels and the main character was addicted to chocolate raspberry coffee and cranberry orange muffins. My friends say nothing is safe around me. Anything they say or do can turn up in one of my stories. When my sons were little they inspired me to write, and that’s how I started writing for children. They were always saying something or doing something that made for a cute story. One time I wrote a story with two brothers, but then I decided the story didn’t really need two boys, so I cut out one of them. My younger son read the revised version of the story and said, “Gosh, Mom. You killed off your own son. Why’d you take me out of the story?”

DMc: When and why did you form Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club through your organization The National Writing for Children Center?

SL: I created the National Writing For Children Center about a year ago. I did this because I wanted to have a way for teachers, parents, authors, and illustrators to connect since they all play such vital roles in the literacy of children. At the NWFCC we offer weekly tips for parents and teachers, as well as author and illustrator interviews, book reviews, and other information about children’s writing and publishing. Many of our tips encourage teachers to use trade books in the classroom. Our tips for parents often give them new ways to enjoy reading, writing, and speaking with their children. I created the Children's Writers' Coaching Club because I noticed that many people who tried to write for children had no idea of the “tricks of the trade” so to speak. Often their manuscripts were rejected by publishers not because the writing or the story weren’t good, but because some rule of thumb for children’s writing was not followed. For example, the writer changed viewpoints throughout the story, or told the story completely in narrative, often from the viewpoint of an adult. I wanted a way for children’s writers to learn these rules and practice them on a weekly basis, as well as get to network with other children’s writers, and learn from a variety of children’s writers who are already successfully published. We’re able to offer all of these opportunities to members of the coaching club.

DMc: How do you balance your freelance writing career with your writers’ coaching responsibilities?

SL: It’s getting tougher and tougher because I seem to have more coaching clients and more coaching opportunities than ever before, which leaves me with less time for writing. But generally, I coach clients in the morning, then write for a few hours. At 2:00 central time every weekday afternoon, I host an internet radio show about children’s books called Book Bites for Kids. After the show is finished each day, I usually go back to writing for another hour or so. A couple of nights a week I facilitate tele-classes for writers.DMc: Please describe your emotions when one of your students achieves their first publishing credit. Especially if it derives from an assignment from CWCC.SL: When one of the coaching club members gets that first publishing credit I am elated, but not surprised. I can just tell when one of the club members is writing material that is good and very marketable. So it doesn’t surprise me when they make that first sale - or any sale thereafter! As a coach and a writing instructor, it’s my job to help writers learn to create material that sells. I love doing that!

DMc: Please describe your creative process. Do you work with an outline or is it a stream of writing directly from your thoughts (or in some writers’ cases your sub-conscious mind while sleeping)?

SL: I write from an outline. In fact, usually I try to create a very detailed outline (with chapter titles and everything) for the book I’m working on. That way, once the outline is complete, it’s much easier to write the book. I go back and fill in the outline. But there are always some fun surprises that pop up along the way. I also spend a lot of time getting to know my characters before I start writing. That way, I know what a character would do or say when something unexpected comes up in the story.

DMc: How many hours do you devote to writing and how long does it take you to write a book?

SL: Since I’m a fulltime freelance writer and writing coach, I write or coach all day, 5 days a week (and sometimes on weekends). Generally, I prefer to have a year to write a middle grade novel or nonfiction book. But I write short stories, test passages, Readers Theater scripts, and other materials much faster. I also do many story adaptations on assignment and I usually have a month or so to complete those.

DMc: What was the biggest obstacle for you to overcome with your first published book?

SL: Actually, I was asked to write my first book. It was a children’s guide to Kansas City. I was the regional advisor for the Kansas chapter of the SCBWI at the time. The publisher called me and asked if I knew a writer who could write Kidding Around Kansas City for them. Of course I said, “Sure. Me!” But since I was also teaching fulltime then, plus going to graduate school, and I had two teenage sons at home, I asked Lisa Harkrader, who was my co-regional advisor, to coauthor the book. We had so much fun working on it together. Later, we got to do book signings and TV and radio interviews together. We had a blast! However, I have had my share of rejections and I still get rejected. But I don’t look at rejections as obstacles. I tend to think that every rejection takes me one step closer to an acceptance.

DMc: Please share with us your current writing project.

SL: Right now I’m finishing up another historical novel for Enslow Publishers’ historical adventure series. This one is about a young boy who lived in the Japanese-American internment camps in World War II.

DMc: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

SL: Two things - 1) get to know your characters really, really well before you start writing, and 2) read, read, read the kinds of things you want to write.

DMc: How do you spend your time when you are not writing or coaching?

SL: I love to read, read, read. I also love to cook, travel, and listen to music and go to movies. I love to combine ALL of those activities as much as possible. Go on vacation to some exotic locale, listen to music, see a movie or two, read a good book (on the beach, since most of the exotic vacation locales involve a beach, at least for me they do). Usually, I don't get to cook on vacation, but I do get to eat. Yum!

Visit the National Writing for Children Center at and to learn more about the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club and Book Bites for Kids, Lieurance’s talk show about children’s books on Sign up for The Morning Nudge, free words of inspiration and motivation to help you get a little writing done every day at Leave a comment at any of these sites and mention you read this interview and you will receive the link to this free audio -Picture Book Roundup: A Look at Some Popular Picture Books and What Makes Them So Special.

ICL's Children's Writers eNews

Hello blog is listed in this week's ICL's Children's Writers eNews under "Blog of the Week."

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Author Interview - Beverly Stowe McClure


I'm pleased to announce that my interview with Beverly Stowe McClure has been published on The National Writing for Children Center website -

Please take the time out to cruise on over to read this inspiring interview and there are incentive free bonuses included for those that leave comments, but you'll have to read the interview to know what they are!

Here's to an inspiring day!