Sunday, May 31, 2009

VBT - Writers on the Move - June 1st Author Tour

Join VBT - Writers on the Move - June 1st - when 19 authors host 19 authors. Join in the fun and visit each tour and take the opportunity to leave your comments or ask your questions.

Harry Gilleland is hosting Linda Asato
Karen Cioffi is hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Kathy Stemke is hosting Liana Metal
Lea Schizas is hosting Helena Harper
Nancy Famalari is hosting Crystalee Calderwood
Vivian Zabel is hosting Joyce Anthony
Margaret Fieland is hosting Mayra Calvani
Crystalee Calderwood is hosting Dorothy Massey
Joyce Anthony is hosting Marvin Wilson
Helena Harper is hosting Gayle Trent
Dorothy Massey is hosting Anita Yasuda
Liana Metal is hosting Harry Gilleland
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is hosting Kathy Stemke
Virginia S. Grenier is hosting Karen Cioffi
Gayle Trent is hosting Lea Schizas
Mayra Calvani is hosting Nancy Famalari
Marvin Wilson is hosting Vivian Zabel
Anita Yasuda is hosting Margaret (Peggy) Fieland
Linda Asato is hosting Virginia S. Grenier

Be part of our new Mystery Site Give-Away and have a chance to win a prize. This month the prize is a book. Sorry, can't tell you the title, it's a secret. Just visit the hosts' sites and leave a comment. YOU MAY WIN!

If you'd like to learn more about our marketing and promotional group, just contact Karen at:

Friday, May 29, 2009

Bounding for Books Blog Tour - June 1-12, 2009

This Online Book Fest Features 7 great authors. 7 great books!
and begins June 1st - for 2 weeks.
Fabulous multi-published children's writers
and their delightful selection of books.

Follow the Tour Here:

Monday June 1st

Jennifer Gladen hosts Mayra Calvani
Mayra Calvani interviews Joy Delgado
Joy Delgado books beyond reading with Shari Soffe
Shari Soffe interviews Margot Finke
Margot Finke interviews Donna Sheperd
Donna Shepherd hosts Kim Chatel
Kim Chatel is inspired by Jennifer Gladden

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Serenity Promotions

Serenity Promotions’ mission is to help today’s authors utilize the internet as a promotional vehicle to get their work seen by more readers—all while taking the burden of online promotions off the authors’ shoulders, leaving them more time to do what they do best: write.

Serenity Promotions is a new venture founded in 2009. Because SP was created by an author for authors, we have a unique approach to online promotions and an understanding of the obstacles small press and self-published writers face in getting their books before an audience.

We go above and beyond to get your book the attention it deserves and to remove the stress from online promotions.
To learn more about what Serenity Promotions has to offer, visit us at:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Your First Draft and Critiques

Recently a conversation was had in one of my critique groups as to our approach on critiques and editing before the first draft is complete.

My input: When I first started writing the manuscript I've been working on (for just about forever), I constantly went back to make edits from critiques and found I was not moving forward with the manuscript. I kept getting stuck in getting each chapter "perfect."
After many many months of frustration, a light bulb finally went off and my intuitation (or was it one of my characters voices) told me..."Hey, will you just finish this manuscript already and edit later. I'm getting tired of rattling around in your head." I had a terrific "Duh Moment" and went with this. I'm now approaching the finish line in FINALLY finishing my first draft.

What's your approach in finishing your first draft? I'd love to hear what your process is and how you overcame your frustrations.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Soldier's Prayer
Hearts are heavy now, dear Lord For WAR is looming there.
Our prayers are calling out to you, Our thoughts too much to bear.
Be with our loved ones--THEY NEED YOU.
Guide them, lead them, see them through.
Bless our leader, for we know, He asks Your blessings, and needs them so.
Protect the innocent, shield their lives, As bombs and missiles streak the skies.
Open our hearts and fill us with grace, Guard our loved ones in that place.
This I say, in earnest prayer, THANK YOU LORD I know YOU'RE there.
So brief, but God knows our hearts and feels the pain for all of us.
Our military, our president, we who wait at home and those innocents whose lives are in harms way too.
I can barely watch the news, but am drawn to it all the same.
This prayer is on my lips and in my heart,almost every minute.
GOD BLESS AMERICA, and all of your children, wherever they are.
Thank a Soldier Today - Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 22, 2009


When a soldier comes home, he finds it hard.... listen to his son whine about being bored. keep a straight face when people complain about potholes. be tolerant of people who complain about the hassle of getting ready for work. be understanding when a co-worker complains about a bad night's sleep. be silent when people pray to God for a new car. control his panic when his wife tells him he needs to drive slower. be compassionate when a businessman expresses a fear of flying. keep from laughing when anxious parents say they're afraid to send their kids off to summer camp. keep from ridiculing someone who complains about hot weather. control his frustration when a colleague gripes about his coffee being cold. remain calm when his daughter complains about having to walk the dog. be civil to people who complain about their jobs. just walk away when someone says they only get two weeks of vacation a year. be forgiving when someone says how hard it is to have a new baby in the house.
The only thing harder than being a Soldier...Is loving one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems by Joseph Sottile - Book Review

Title: Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems
Written by: Joseph Sottile
Illustrated by: Lori Aman
Ages: 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-60145-356-3
Published: October 2007
Hardcover: 140 pages
Price: $13.95

Filled with 60+ poems based around children within the classroom walls and beyond, adults and children will surely be giggling out loud while reading, Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems.

It is quite apparent as one reads each poem the author, Joseph “Silly” Sottile has not lost his child like humor and outlook on life. The illustrations by Lori Aman capture the true essence of each poem leaving the reader wondering are author and illustrator channeling the voices of children. Introduce poetry to the children in your life, with real life thoughts and feelings they can relate to.

Joseph “Silly” Sottile is an award winning author, Writers and Books 2004 Poetry Booth Writing Contest and is a performing poet for school visits, and teaches writing workshops. Learn more about his illustrious career at:
Book Review by: Donna M. McDine

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rattlesnake Jam by Margo Finke - Book Review

Title: Rattlesnake Jam
Written by: Margot Finke
Illustrated by: Kevin Scott Collier
Ages: 5-12
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-935137-00-9
Published: May 2008
Hardcover: 27 pages
Price: $10.95

Without a doubt jam lovers will be shocked to hear of the concoction, Rattlesnake Jam. Why would anyone even attempt such a recipe? Let alone actually eat it. Old Gran, that’s who. Much to the chagrin of Pa, he’d reluctantly go rattlesnake hunting to provide old Gran with her ingredients for her latest scam. Even though he knew he wouldn’t get his long awaited rattlesnake pie.

Curiosity fills the kids from the village and they spy on old Gran in hopes of discovering what she was up to now. Using them as her testers, she offers them up spoonfuls of rattlesnake brew, until she finally comes up with her Rattlesnake Jam.

To the amazement of Pa, “Gran sold off her mixture to folks near and far.”

Kevin Scott Collier’s illustrations bring Rattlesnake Jam to a life in comical and colorful scenes, which will surely mesmerize the youngest to the oldest.

Margot Finke’s beyond your imagination writing will have you chuckling out loud. Written in rhyme and well-metered verse, this wonderfully written tale may just convince everyone to stock up on Rattlesnake Jam.

Margot Finke is a transplanted Aussie who writes mid-grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. Visit Margot at: to learn more about her exciting writing career and services.

Kevin Scott Collier is a Christian youth fiction book author and illustrator. Explore his techno-colored world at:
Book Review by: Donna M. McDine

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bubba and Giganto by Lea Schizas - Book Review

Title: Bubba & Giganto ~ Against All Odds
Written by: Lea Schizas
Ages: 10-12
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9797513-6-3
Published: July 2008
Hardcover: 72 pages
Price: $15.99

The challenges presented to school age children are tremendous. The expectations of achieving good grades are high on the list, especially by parents and teachers. Many times higher on the list for many students is fitting in and belonging to a group, and acceptance by their peers.

Bubba arrives at his fourth new school with a large chip on his shoulder. Without a filter, Bubba normally speaks his mind before thinking. He tends to judge a book by its cover, until he meets David. His initial thoughts were not pleasant towards David and without even realizing it an unlikely friendship develops quickly.

Bubba becomes David’s “protector” and “cheerleader” against the few fellow students. And for the first time in Bubba’s life he realizes he was the culprit of many cruel remarks towards past classmates. This revelation hits Bubba to the core of his foundation and with determination and loyalty, Bubba attempts to stand up for David against immeasurable odds of peer pressure. Will he succeed?

Lea Schizas expertly weaves in past bullying behavior and a change of heart towards others for this heartwarming story of friendship and acceptance. Learn more about Lea and her well accomplished writing career at:
Book Review by: Donna M. McDine

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire by Suzanne Lieurance - Book Review

Title: The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire
Written by: Suzanne Lieurance
Ages: 10 and up
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-7660-2928-6
Published: May 2008
Hardcover: 160 pages
Price: $25.00

Be transported to 1911, when millions of immigrants fled their homelands with hopes to find a better life in America. Working conditions were horrendous in the clothing factories and many men, women, and children were crammed into sewing rooms to earn meager wages. To fight the unacceptable conditions thrust upon them, scores of immigrants began to organize unions to fight the sweat shop owners for better working conditions and wages.

Journey along with Galena and her older sister, Anya, two of the numerous immigrants, forced to work in horrific conditions to help support their families. In fear of loosing their jobs, Galena and Anya’s Russian immigrant parents forbad involvement in such unions.

“It’s no use, Mary. Mama will never agree to let Anya join the union. If Anya goes to that meeting tonight she’ll be deliberately defying her, Galena said.”

Anya’s defiance is apparent to Galena, but she keeps Anya’s secret. Before the unions become established, tragedy strikes and sends Galena’s life into a terrible tailspin. Will she have the courage to move on in her grief and fight for the union?

Learn about a pivotal time in American history through author, Suzanne Lieurance’s, The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.” The historical aspects are accurately portrayed through the eyes of Galena and is accompanied with a “Real History Behind the Story” section and suggested reading list of fiction and non-fiction titles. The reader will surely be cheering out loud for the immigrants betrayed in this mesmerizing story of grief and triumph.

Visit Suzanne and learn more about her distinguished children's author, freelance writer, and writing coach careers at:
Book review by: Donna M. McDine

Friday, May 15, 2009

NY Times Children's Book Reviews

'The Curious Garden'
A quietly marvelous picture book inspired by Manhattan’s High Line.
Be sure to read Sherie's book review at: 'The Curious Garden'

Thursday, May 14, 2009

NY Times - Children's Book Reviews

Book Updates by The NY Times:
Children’s Books

Books About Charles Darwin
A book about the question at the heart of Darwin’s marriage to Emma Wedgwood;
and a picture-book introduction to Darwin and his dangerous ideas.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NY Times - Children's Book Reviews

Children's Book Reviews:

Picture Books About Undersea Life

Two picture-book biographies of Jacques Cousteau,
and a third book about the undersea world.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Children's Books Examiner: Maybelle, Bunny of the North

Lori Calabrese, Children's Book Examiner for (get inside).

Join Lori at as she celebrates Children's Book Week. Her intriguing insights and reviews will leave you inspired to find your next loved children's book.

Be sure to stop by and leave Lori a comment.

What way are you celebrating Children's Book Week?
I'm celebrating by first featuring Lori and then three NY Times Book Reviews.
The celebration will continue through the weekend and next week with my own book reviews of:
Please be sure to stop by each day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

VBT - Writers on the Move - Amazon Discussion

In an effort to get discussions going on different aspects of writing, VBT ~ Writers on the Move will begin individual discussions started on one members blog (on the 10th of each month) for the world to comment on.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson has started up an interesting discussion about Amazon and what their procedures are for book reviews and how it truly hurts writers and reviewers.
Be sure to stop by Sharing With Writers and join in the discussion.If you haven't heard about this, you will be shocked to learn the details. Be sure to stop by Carolyn's blog and let your voice be heard.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Children's Authors and Illustrators on Facebook

Be sure to stop by and visit: Children's Authors and Illustrators on Facebook

A group for authors and illustrators of children's books, from picture books to YA, in all genres, plus aspiring writers and all readers who love children's literature.

Authors and illustrators, tell us about your published work, what you're working right now, any cool stuff you've seen or heard about in the field of children's books, post your book covers or illustrations and more.

And don't forget to spread the word about this group to all your contacts in the writing community.

For aspiring writers, connect with published authors or other writers like yourself and for readers of all ages, check out what your favourite authors are up to, discover new ones and join in discussions.

Spread the word about Children's Authors and Illustrators on Facebook and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Avoid Rejection!

Writers often look at their work and believe, “This is really good. I’m sending it off.” I won’t say in most cases but quite a few, these submissions often come back stamped ‘REJECTED’. Why? The reason is simple- these writers didn’t step back to look at the piece objectively wearing a reader’s hat but looked at it wearing a ‘mommy’s’ hat. These are two different hats to be wearing when it comes to really looking over your manuscript. Another reason is they submitted a first draft they believed was fully fleshed out, their characters realistic and not stick people, and subbed it to various publishers they happened to come across while researching various markets.

What is wrong with this scenario?

First Draft

I will admit I’ve read quite a few first drafts that were tight but haven’t come across any first draft that read complete in any which way you looked at it. Something always needed changing: characters needed more dimension, setting needed more presence, dialogue had to be spruced up and taglines removed, or more of the five senses had to be written in to bring the scene to the reader’s mind with more clarity and vividness.


Are your characters flat, lifeless, no personality to set them apart from your secondary characters? Not sure? Well, that’s why it’s a good idea to get your story critiqued by another pair of eyes other than your own. These critiquers will be able to pinpoint areas they feel, as readers, need more fleshing out. Remember that you can’t please all of the readers all the time but if you can offer a character that is three-dimensional from the start, then perhaps you will please most of your readers.

The one biggest flaw I find in some writers is the fact they do not accept any comments where their work is concerned. Writers are always learning, always open to suggestions in order to guide and help them enhance their talent. The more they understand the areas they are weak in, the quicker these flaws disappear.


Publishers know who their readers are. This is an area a writer also needs to understand. When you research a publisher, make sure to take the time and read one or two of their books to see if your genre fits in with their ‘style’. If you wrote a young adult novel, and you Googled ‘Children’s Publishers’, don’t send your manuscript to them UNLESS you check their guidelines. There you will see if they accept young adult manuscripts, their preferred word count, and other information needed in order to process your submission.

Do not be one of the writers who eagerly wait for months for a response only to discover the rejection letter states, “We are sorry but at this time we are not accepting any Young Adult manuscripts.” Waste of time.

Be smart, after all, you worked long and hard on your book, it deserves a chance to reach the right publisher.

Lea Schizas

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Children's Bookshelf Announces New Kids' Book Site Launches

Children's Bookshelf

April 30, 2009

New Kids' Book Site Launches

A new Web site, TwentybyJenny, aims to help educators and caregivers build a child’s library one book at a time, by guiding them to 20 books in each of four age groups. The site was launched earlier this week by Jennifer Brown, who will also be sending out a weekly newsletter containing new reviews. To read more, click here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Keeping the Caribou Warm" by Donna McDine

Hello All:
I'm thrilled to share with you my non-fiction article for ages 3-6 entitled, "Keeping the Caribou Warm," is now published in the May 2009 issue of Stories for Children Magazine -
Be sure to stop by and read my article and all the other wonderful stories and articles. I'm sure you will be happy you stopped by.
Best wishes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Children's Author, Dan Gutman

Technology has certainly made the world a smaller place. Children's author, Dan Gutman has developed a wonderful DVD version of school visits he conducts in New Jersey and the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area.

Come along and explore Dan's creative world through his Virtual Author Visit at his website:

Friday, May 1, 2009

April Showers Brought Free Books in May!

This is the easiest contest ever! Simply visit any one of my three websites and leave a comment.
2 books given away every week in May and 2 prize-pack grand prizes at the end of the month.
Details of prizes and rules at any the following sites:

Between the Cracks Fiction at
Chatel Village
Romance from the Shadows at

Children's Bookshelf

New Report Projects Small Decline in Book Sales in ’09

A new report from Publishers Weekly and the Institute for Publishing Research projects soft sales for children’s books through the end of 2010. According to the PW/IPR Book Sales Index, total children’s trade sales totaled $3.16 billion in 2008; that number will dip slightly in 2009, to $3.05 billion, and will hold steady in 2010 at $3.07 billion. The outlook is rosier after that: $3.12 billion in 2011, $3.18 billion in 2012, and $3.24 billion in 2013.

The study estimates 2008 sales of children’s hardcovers at $1.54 billion, with projections of $1.42 billion for 2009, and $1.43 billion in 2010. For children’s paperbacks, the 2008 figure was $1.62 billion, with a flat projection of $1.62 billion in 2009, rising slightly to $1.65 billion in 2010.
See more projections, including breakdowns of categories such as picture books, workbooks and fantasy, in the May 4 issue of Publishers Weekly.