Monthly Archives: June 2010

Meet Suzanne Marion, Author of “Too Many Tutus”

Tell us something about yourself:
This is such a nice opportunity for me to be interviewed for your blog, thanks very much. I’m a musician in Houston, Texas, retired after teaching voice and piano for quite a few years. I have recently been a church choir director, and do quite a lot of accompanying of singers and instrumentalists. During my years of teaching I composed and arranged music for my students and colleagues. Four years ago I established a small business creating custom lullabies and play song for babies and children. My web site is www.lullabiesbysuzanne.com. I compose the music and write the poetry for the songs.
Each week I play as pianist with a small group of string players for fun.
I grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and my husband Stuart and I have three grown sons, three wonderful daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren. We live with our dogs, Laura and Diana, each of whom has her own special song copyrighted.

How did you come to write ‘Too Too Many Tutus”?
‘Tutus’ came about when our granddaughter Christina had trouble choosing a tutu to wear for her ballet class one day. I have long written a variety of stories for our children, which they enjoy. A friend, artist Marj Hales, read the story and enjoyed it. The next thing I knew, she had gone to the library to research ballet positions, and produced some gorgeous paintings of little girl ballerinas. Her illustrations are so lovely that I felt we should create a book. It has proven to be rather popular with little girls and their parents and grandparents.

‘Donner the Western Dragon’ needed to be written for the little boys of our acquaintance. It turned out that Marj Hales has a particular penchant for mythological animals, and so once again we felt we must bring it to light as a book. She painted fourteen absolutely beautiful paintings of dragons and unicorns (one of the protagonists in ‘Donner’ is a female unicorn named Una). ‘Donner’ works for little girls as well. It is a morality tale about a modest and peace-loving dragon.

Are you a dancer yourself?
It would be difficult to find anyone less capable of being a dancer than I am. In junior high I was the clown in my gymnastics class program. Fortunately my granddaughters have transcended my lack of ability in this area.

Did you have to do much research, if any for your book, and if so, how did you go about it?
For these two books I did not have to do research, except in my imagination. In the future, though, I hope to try some writing projects that are more ambitious in terms of requiring research.

If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
To be perfectly honest, the first answer that sprang to mind is the character of Ramona in Helen Hunt Jackson’s wonderful novel, ‘Ramona.’ I read it as a child, and several times since, and have always loved the story of this beautiful Hispanic woman in 19th century California who fell in love with Alessandro the Indian. It is beautifully written and very powerful.

What are you working on now?
Right now I am considering two projects. One is a memoir of my experiences working in Yellowstone Park as a young teenager. The other involves a history of a large musical organization of which I am a member. This group will celebrate next year the 100th anniversary of its founding.

What do you want readers to take away from your book?
From ‘Too Too Many Tutus’: there are some lessons about choices, and about seeking the help oftrusted persons in making decisions. Also, there is a simple physics lesson included.
From ‘Donner”: this is a story about being true to one’s own self, and not feeling the need to go along with the crowd.

Any tips for aspiring writers?
I do not feel eminently qualified to give this sort of advice. But I believe in any creative endeavor the main objective should be to do a little work each day, to do it quite regularly. This is true of any creative activity, whether it involves practicing music, writing prose, poetry or music, painting, sports…sometimes once you get started it is hard to stop. Even a very small increment of time is better than none.

Where can readers buy your book?
Both of our books are available on Amazon.com, and also from the publisher, CreateSpace.

Any last words?

Once again, thanks so much for this opportunity to say a few words about our books. It is great fun to know that children are enjoying our books.

Weekly Chapter Challenge

Well, another week has passed and I’ve sent E.J. another chapter. I’m nearing the end, and the chapters are getting more difficult to write. I’m so, so glad that I’m participating in this — I don’t know how long I’d let myself procrastinate about these final chapters if I weren’t accountable to someone for that new chapter every week.

I’ve also written a few more poems, and again this week they’re all rhymed. I’ve been on an orgy of rhyming lately, as I’ve stopped fighting my urge to write unfashionable rhymed poetry. Ah, well, two of my poems (rhymed!) are recently published in a new online journal – Dark Eye Glances. Do check it out.

Meet Margot Finke, author of “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind”

Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat
Behind

Tell us something about yourself?
Many years ago, I owned a pet store in Australia, and sold tropical fish and goldfish. My husband, Alan, an American from New York, had set up a wholesale fish hatchery in Queensland, the state where I lived. I was his first customer – and the rest is history!!
We married, had 3 kids, and after 7 years, we packed up and came to live in Oregon. We’ve been here almost 30 years, now. Alan had gone to college here, and always wanted to live in Oregon. I love it here – the mountains, the snow, the rivers, forests and waterfalls – even the rain!
Our kids are now grown , and have presented us with four grandchildren: the light(s) of my life I confess!
I didn’t begin serious writing until our son left for college – then, I ran out and bought my first computer. It had a HUGE 1 ½ gig hard drive: and I wondered why it always crashed!!!

How did you come to write “Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind?”

Ruthie was a story that just popped into my head, like many of my stories, one night when I couldn’t sleep. I knew many children often suffered deep emotional trauma due to sudden changes in their lives – whether due to a death, a move, or a divorce etc. I tiptoed into the bathroom, where I kept paper and pencil, crouched on the toilet seat, and scribbled the bare bones of it down, so I wouldn’t forget it by morning.
Gems that appear to me in the night often fade by morning, so my midnight bathroom writing happen often. I thought Ruthie’s plight would make a fun picture book on one level, yet on a deeper level, also offer comfort, support, and guidance to both needy children and their parents – a two-fer if you will. Hopefully, the kids who need help will identify with Ruthie and root for her. And the Parent-Teacher guide provides a Q & A kids can answer about Ruthie and her behavior, plus links parents or teachers might find helpful.

Why did you decide to write it in rhyme?
I didn’t choose to write “Ruthie” in rhyme. That’s just the way the story flowed onto the page. I must confess. . . rhyme comes easily to me, and many of my characters choose to face the world in rhyming mode. The big PLUS, when using rhyme, is that it’s FUN. Children seem to absorb rhyming facts and details faster and easier: think of those old nursery rhymes we all still remember.

Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?

A Broken Shard, Holes, The Sign of the Seahorse, Alice in Wonderland, The Lovely Bones

Gennifer Choldenk , Steve Young, Terry Prachett, Louis Sachar.
There are many more as well.

If you could be reincarnated as any writer you want, who would you pick?
Charles Dickens. I once went three stations beyond my own, and had to walk five miles home in the blazing sun, in high heels, because of him. “A Tale of Two Cities” has a lot to of blisters to answer for!!

How did you get started writing?

When we first arrived in Oregon, our kids were small. I didn’t want them to forget their Aussie heritage, so I put a National Geographic map of the Aussie animals on their bedroom wall. Each night, before they went to sleep, I would tell them a story about one of the animals, right off the top of my head.
After they went to school, I became a teacher’s-aid, and I often talked to classes about Australia, and it’s weird and wonderful critters. I told my animal stories to the classes as well. After a while, hands would shoot up, and kids would say, ” But Mrs Finke, the ending was different last time!!” My teacher friend said I should write them down, and I did. That was the beginning.
I bought a computer, joined the then fledgling Children’s Writer’s online list, and wrote some truly terrible stories. Like most beginners, I had no idea of pace, plot, or character enrichment. My stories waffled on for pages. But a small group of CW writers mentored me. They read and critiqued my pages, and helped me write tighter, with more focus and less waffles. Let’s face it, waffles go better with syrup – for breakfast – right? I wrote, wrote, wrote, joined SCBWI, and went to lots of their conferences.
I think one of the hardest things a writer can do is write a great children’s book – especially a picture book. A friend of mine has a mother-in-law who sniffs every time she has another of her picture books published. “That’s nice dear, but when are you going to write a REAL book” she always asks. I admire my friend’s restraint!

What are you working on now?
At the moment, I am giving a final once-over to my next book to be publishes – hopefully in July of this year. “Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble” is a mid-grade adventure for boys, and is set in the Australian outback, near where I grew up.
Taconi, a lone aboriginal boy on Coorparoo Cattle Station, and lives with his dad, the Station cookie. His only friend is Claude, a sulfur crested cockatoo, with a big mouth, and a fund of wacky one-liners. He hunts bush meat to save his dad’s job, and later, a disaster at the homestead, makes Taconi a hero of sorts.
Yet he is torn between helping his dad, plus a life on Coorparoo Cattle Station, or the call of the Dreamtime Spirits, and the magic of the elusive kingfisher feather. Will a visit from Dreamtime Spirits guide Taconi into making the right choice? And of course Claude is always on hand to offer advice, and poke his beak into everything.
This fun adventure includes danger, a crazed emu, Dreamtime Spirits, a midnight Corrorobee, and all the rattlesnake, yabbies, and witcetty grubs a boy can eat.


Do you have a set time for writing? A set place?

When the kids left home, I turned the old playroom off the kitchen into my work area. It has a large computer area set-up, a sofa, chairs, and a fireplace to keep me toasty in winter.
I work there every afternoon.
Of course this year, most of my days are spent doing the exercises that help my knee replacement surgery and eventual recovery. Unfortunately, complications have slowed this down, and I am still not able to get out and about. This puts a real kink in my ability to personally promote “Ruthie.” So far I am working the Internet and hoping for the best!!

What is the most helpful writing advice you’ve gotten?
Join a good critique group where you will get advice from advanced or published writers. Sometimes we work on something for so long, we completely lose focus. A set of fresh and knowledgeable eyes can pinpoint a weak plot area, a character that doesn’t ring true, or places where you waffle on unnecessarily. Critters can guide you into writing tight and terrific stories. “Secrets of Writing for Children,” on my website, offers helpful clues about crafting a great story: http://mysite.ncnetwork.net/restbcm8/Secrets.html#Sec

What is the least helpful advice?

I have never received bad advice.

Where can readers get your book?
“Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind”

Author: Margot E. Finke www.margotfinke.com
Illustrations: KC Snider www.KCSniderart.com
** Snider is a well known fine artist who regularly shows her work in galleries, as well as known for her book illustrations.

Print ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-059-0
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-060-6

SAMPLE VERSE:
“Young Ruthie’s mood changed overnight, her smiles slunk off in gloom.
She wouldn’t talk to Mom or Dad. She refused to leave her room.
Her parents scolded, begged and coaxed, but Ruthie paid no mind,
Her moods grew big and ugly – like some Hippo’s fat behind.”

When Ruthie moved, she left all her friends and family behind. She left her old happy self behind too. She sulked, was rude to her parents, and threw tantrums. What had happened to their darling girl? Then, something unexpected surprised her, and the happy Ruthie returned. Find out what made Ruthie feel her old self again?

**Parent-Teacher guide included

Where to buy:

Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP)
http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/ruthie.htm

Margot Finke –
http://mysite.ncnetwork.net/restbcm8/Margot%27s%20Books.htm#other

OR – http://preview.tinyurl.com/GAP-Books
** A Personal Autograph comes with each hard copy bought from Margot’s website + a bookmark. Also view Trailer, sample verses and illustrations.
SOON – available from Amazon, B&N, Target and more.
It seems to take a while for them to put up new books + covers.

Any last words?
Just a sincere “thank you” for taking the time to interview me, and get out the word about “Ruthie”

Another week for Weekly Chapter Challenge

Well, EJ and I have again exchanged chapters {claps self and worthy chapter buddy on back}, and I’ve started working on comments I received from my in-person critique group, too. Today I’d like to start on another chapter and finish up working through the comments I got.

Oh, yes, and I was able to pass on advice I’d received at a recent teleseminar to fellow WCC-er
Melissa Dean, who will be going to a conference soon.

I didn’t do much writing yesterday — instead I finished eading a nifty sci-fi novel, “Veracity” by Laura Bynum. I highly recommend starting it when you have all day to devote to it…

And here’s one that I plan to buy:
“A New Birth of Freedom,” by Robert G. Pielke

It’s an alternative history sci fi novel. Here’s the blurb:

The world shatters for University history professor, Edwin Blair, when his wife and daughter are killed by an invading force of alien monsters. Life no longer seems worth living and the eminent destruction of everything else he once held dear no longer matters. So when the scientific team tasked with repelling the invasion approaches Blair with a request, he agrees without a second thought.

His task?

Convince Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee to bring their combined armies to bear on the invasion instead of attacking each other at Gettysburg on July 3, 1863.

The fact that they lived and fought 300 years before Blair was even born is the least of his worries.

I absolutely love alternative history sci fi {drool}. But I promise, really I do, to write my chapter and finish my edits before I run out to buy it…

Interview with aspiring author Sharon Blumberg

Tell us something about yourself?
I am a junior high Spanish and Language Arts teacher in Illinois. I have been a teacher for about 20 years. I have picked up a lot of wonderful ideas about young adults by working with them as a teacher. As a Language Arts teacher, I have also picked up a lot of great writing and reading ideas. I truly believe that my career is a wonderful complement to my writing career. I am also a book reviewer for The National Writing Center For Children and The Story Circle Network.

Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?
One of my favorite books is an exciting suspense novel entitled, Stolen Children by Peg Kehret

How did you get started writing?
I got started in writing by writing about teaching and educational issues. I have been doing that since 1996.

What are you working on now?
Currently I am working on authoring my first book. It is a story of a girl, and how she deals with her teachers and peers in a middle school.

Do you have a “day job,” and if so, how do you find the time to write?
My “day” job is a seventh grade Language Arts and Spanish teacher. I find most of my time to write in the summer. However, I do try and fit in some quality writing time during the year.

Do you have a set time for writing? A set place?
I really don’t have a set time for my writing. I usually do most of it in the summer, but I try to do it when I can find the time during my school year.

What is the most helpful writing advice you’ve gotten?
I would say the most helpful advice would be to stick to a routine writing schedule. But whatever one does, just keep on writing all the time. Even if it is for 15 minutes everyday. That is advice I aspire to achieve.


What is the least helpful advice?

The least helpful advice would be someone asking me why I would want to be a writer. You would have to write all the time! Naturally, that was the funniest as well.

Any last words?
Yes, I am a freelance writer who is always open to find writing work related to my career. I think writing is a wonderful profession that offers numerous possibilities. I would love to author books for young adults and teachers.

Meet J. Aday Kennedy, author of picture book Klutzy Kantor

About J. Aday Kennedy

J. Aday Kennedy was born and raised in McKinney, Texas. During her teenage years she was a
line officer in the McKinney High School Marquettes (drill team). Aday disliked school and quit in the eleventh grade.

When she quit high school, it did not take long to realize she needed an education. Aday had always been bored by her teachers. When she decided to complete her education she was determined to become a “different” kind of teacher that instructed, entertained and inspired. She also wanted to instruct a school dance/drill team in Texas.

In 1989, she moved to Walnut Creek, Ca. and started junior college. After three years she completed her general education credits and was admitted to the University of California at Davis.

She never received a high school diploma or GED, but earned her bachelors degree in twentieth century European history. After she attained her degree she returned to Texas and researched graduate schools to pursue a teaching credential.

Before she applied to graduate school, she caught spinal meningitis. Due to complications, Aday suffered a respiratory and cardiac arrest and stroke. She fell into a coma. Two hours after the doctors pronounced her brain dead she regained consciousness as a ventilator-dependent quadriplegic.

After several years of intense therapy she grew bored. She had recaptured partial use of her left arm and hand, but one day after another consumed with physical therapy left her unfulfilled.

Her cognitive brain function had been unaffected by the stoke It clamored to be used. Aday began speaking at seminars for registered respiratory therapists on spinal meningitis and patient advocacy. They opened the door to motivational and inspirational speaking engagements, but she wanted to do more.

She found writing classes on the internet. Her creative mind and love for children manifested in essays, articles and children’s books. Three years and fifteen classes later she received a picture book contract. Aday had grown into “The Differently-Abled Writer” making her dreams come true a story at a time.

Did you always want to be a writer?
No. When I was a little girl I wanted to be Big Bird. I’m tall enough and my feet are big enough, but my beak and feathers never grew.
When I got older I wanted to be a history teacher, but luckily I had a stroke and fell in love with and discovered a talent for writing.

Tell us about your children’s books.
I have six picture books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing. They are a mixture of humorous fantasy and Christian stories. All include a teacher’s guide, send a positive message and are geared to attract reluctant readers.

Describe your working environment.
I am blessed to have my house on 4.5 acres of land on a private lake in East Texas. I have only to look out the window to be inspired. I’m a legally blind ventilator-dependent quadriplegic. (It’s a great excuse to stay in bed.) When I began to fall in love with where my computer could take me, I found a computer desk that slides over my bed at Ergoquest, I have my goals, inspirational sayings and Herb, my trusting writing bug, attached to the edges of my computer monitor.

What are you working on now?
I’m marketing my picture book, “Klutzy Kantor”. For this book I co wrote a song, “Go Me”, with LeFerna Walch of The Character Studio DOT com. There are three books in the series today. “‘Cobbledom’s Curse“ is book two, and “The Itcha Itcha Goo Goo Blues” is book three. The plan is to create a song and a music video for each.

I have several picture books I am writing. My memoir, “101 Ways to Torture a Quadriplegic: A Journey of Laughter Through Tears”, is in progress. “After Patty Killed Her Daddy” is a chapter book and the beginning of a series for tweens.

My second picture book, “Marta Gargantuan Wings”, was assigned an artist, Eugene Ruble. He illustrated “A Horse of Course” written by Shari Lyle Soffe. The horse oozes personality in each illustration. I cannot wait to see what he does with Marta, the Pegasus that resembles a mule with wings and Stajon his cheeky friend, the squirrel monkey. I am working on the marketing plan for it, too.

What is the best advice on writing you’ve ever received?
When you have written something let it rest. Do not look at it for weeks before you begin the editing process. Then you can look at it with fresh eyes.

Klutzy Kantor
Available for purchase online through
www.amazon.com and through your local bookstores.
Paperback: 24 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (April
14, 2010)
ISBN-10: 978-1616330511
ISBN-13: 978-1616330514
Price: $10.95
.

Kantor, a young flying horse wishes he wasn’t so clumsy. The crone Agra tells him that the leprechaun -Cobbledom McSweeney can grant that wish, but only if Kantor can answer his riddle challenge. His tree mates – Rabbit, Fox and Bear help by quizzing him on riddles before the fateful day.

Every day Kantor Pegasus practices solving riddles. A tricky leprechaun attempts to outsmart him by giving him a next to impossible riddle to solve. To end his clumsy ways he must solve it. Children learn the benefit of practice and to focus on their strengths.

Jack Foster’s illustrations are perfect. The marriage of J. Aday Kennedy’s words and Jack Foster’s illustrations make a magical combination and a delightful read


Contact Information:

Email Address
aday@jadaykennedy.com

Website
www.Jadaykennedy.com

Blogs
http://jadaykennedy.blogspot.com
http://klutzykantorbogspot.com

Twitter
/twitter.com/jaday_kennedy

Facebook
//facebook.com/jadaykennedy

Weekly Chapter Challenge

I belong to a great group on Writers Digest Community It’s callled “Weekly Chapter Challenge.” If you sign up for the Writers Digest Community website (which is great, by the way), you can the join the group. Then you can post a request and ask for a “Chapter Buddy.” I signed up at the beginning and have been exchanging chapters of my current work in progress, a middle grade novel tentatively entitled “Don’t Ask Me Why,” for over two months now. And don’t bother asking me why I called my book that.

We exchange a chapter of each of our works — we try to send on Sunday, and the following Sunday, we send back comments on our buddie’s previous week’s chapter and send along our new one.

Thanks to my buddy, EJ Wesley (Check out his blog — The Open Vein) I’ve made terrific progress. I’m staring the second half of my book in the face at the moment — I’m not quite sure how many more chapters I’ll have, mostly because they’re not yet written.

All I can say is that EJ’s comments have been so, so helpful, and having to be accountable to someone for a new chapter every (or almost every — we’ve skipped a week here and there) week is fabulous.

Do check out the group, and see what you think.