Thursday, December 31, 2009

12 Things a Writer Needs

Happy New Year's Eve to all. It's been a hectic holiday season with family home for the past week. We've enjoyed spending time with our children and our granddaughter. Needless to say, not much work got done, but that's what the holidays mean. I've given up feeling guilty about it. I don't see the family nearly enough and time is too short. Still, the season is drawing to a close, and it's time to start focusing on work once again.

Today while waiting for my mammogram, I read an article about the designer Donatella Versace and what 12 things she can't live without. I immediately started thinking about what 12 things, as a writer, I need. Here's my list:

1. a thesaurus
2. a dictionary
3, a grammar reference book
4. a current copy of Writer's Market
5. a current copy of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market
6. a good word processing program
7. a reliable computer
8. a reliable internet connection
9. a quiet work space
10.a small pad of paper and a pen
11.a "jump starter" such as Creative Calisthenics or The Write Brain Workbook
12.a supportive group of writing friends

What are the 12 things you feel you need, as a writer? Please share your thoughts with me.

Of course, there are always New Year Resolutions. I'm going to try to keep mine simple. I want to finish the sequel to my middle grade novel. I also want to gather my writing tips into a collection suitable for eBook publication. Lastly, I want to find publishers for my picture book and my adult short story anthology. 2009 has been a productive year for me, and I hope this streak continues into 2010. Have you made any resolutions? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays




Happy Holidays to all, whatever you may choose to celebrate. Each of us can find something about the season to bring gladness to our hearts. It is a time for getting together with family and friends and sharing with others less fortunate.

What do you do to celebrate? Do you have a favorite tradition? Do you chose to spend the day with family or strangers? Do you donate to the local food bank, or help serve a meal to the homeless? Maybe for you the joy is watching your children's eyes as they see the holiday decorations on homes in the neighborhood. If you celebrate Christmas, do you splurge and buy for all, or do you draw names and get one special gift. Are you a crafts person? Did you make your holiday gifts for your friends and family?

This year, I chose to crochet market bags for all my friends. In an effort to be more "green," I felt a reusable market bag would be a useful gift. In this same vein, I sent out my newsletter via email rather than snail mail. Although I have to admit, I do enjoy receiving holiday cards, they seem like a waste of paper. After the holidays, they usually end up in the trash or recycling so I often cut off the face of the card and use it the following year as a gift tag.

Keep a journal during this time. Make notes of the fun stuff and the disasters. One never knows what will make good material for an article or a story. Remember, most editors are looking for holiday stories six months in advance, so you'll need those notes in June when the sun is shining and you're thinking of the beach.

Tell me what you plan for the holidays or your favorite holiday memory. I'd love to hear from you.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a productive new year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Interview with author Julie S. Dobbins




Today, my guest is Julie S. Dobbins, author and narrator of Melissa and the Green Blanket.

Julie please tell us about yourself by answering the following questions.

1. How long have you been writing?

Since about 1978. It could have been a little earlier, but that’s when I focused more on writing instead of drawing. That was also about the time that I discovered The Hobbit and fell in love with what a really good story can do; where it can take you. I had always enjoyed reading, but The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings touched me in a special way. Maybe it was because it was fantasy and it took me away from all of my 15 year-old girlish angst.

2. What made you decide to become a writer?

It started to come easier than drawing. I have some old drawings that I did in Jr. High school that are actually pretty good, but I wasn’t consistent. One drawing would be good and the next one would be a disappointment.

With writing, I could be more consistent. If I felt inspired, I could get it down on paper. With art, what I drew didn’t always match my feeling of inspiration, so I took the more satisfying road.

I didn’t write much after high school. I dabbled with it a little every now and then, but nothing serious. It wasn’t until my son was about six years old that I started to get serious with it again. He loved to be read to, and I needed something new to read to him one night. I pulled out my old copy of The Hobbit, thinking it would be too mature for him but I would give it a shot. He loved it! So we went through the whole series. From there we went to The Chronicles of Narnia. I guess rereading those great stories awakened the creativity that was sleeping deep inside.

3. What influences your writing?

Books, of course, but also old movies, cartoons, life. My son is a major influence and so is my husband.

I love Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. I am also influenced by Peter S. Beagle. I love the way he makes the unbelievable, believable.

4. What is your writing process?

Hmm. I’m sure I have one, but I have no idea what it is. I try to keep pen and paper handy so that I can jot something down when I think of it. Sometimes ideas just come to me fully developed, sometimes I start with one thing and it ends up completely different. With fiction, I work on it until it becomes stale and then leave it alone for a few days or weeks. When I go back to it, the story seems fresh and I have new ideas for it.

With nonfiction, I work on it pretty steadily. I’ll take a break from the writing part to do research, but I don’t let it rest until I’ve finished it. After it’s completed, I set it aside for a few days and then go over it again to tweak it.

5. How did you come up with the idea of a multi-media package?

Two things in particular influenced how we did Melissa and the Green Blanket. First, Harold and the Purple Crayon is my all-time favorite children’s book. That directly influenced the artwork - simple line drawings with just the crayon (or blanket, as in my case) being in color.

Secondly, Amy Grant and Chet Atkins released a CD and VHS package of The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat back in the 1980’s. That influenced the narration with the accompanying music. I knew I wanted the book to be small, so the booklet size not only worked well but completed the package. My husband is a professional musician, so adding the PDF files of the transcribed music was just a natural thing to do. Combining all of it into a multi-media package was a logical result.

I went to bookstores wherever we went to see if there was a multi-media package like ours, and there wasn’t. Some were close, but not with all that we offered. Now there are more on the market like ours, but we were one of the first.

6. What came first, your story or Craig's music?

The story came first, actually. Our son was visiting his grandparents one afternoon and Craig and I were talking about some of the funny things Bennett would do. That led to talking about other children and their antics, which included Melissa. During the reminiscing, I said, “Melissa and her green blanket....” As soon as I said it we both said, “That’s a children’s book title!” I grabbed a pen and notebook and pretty much wrote the story right then.

As a musician, Craig is always working on a new tune so it wasn’t long before he was creating a piece of music that we realized was “Melissa.”

7. In the book you state Melissa is the daughter of your illustrator, David Moon. Why did you choose Melissa as your role model?

I used to babysit Melissa years ago. She’s in her early 20’s now and doesn’t seem to need a babysitter anymore, for some reason. The story was a natural because she used to do the things in the book. She didn’t want her mother to wash her blanket because she had it with her all of the time. Pretty much, the story is just telling what I used to watch her do.

Do you always base your characters on children you know?

Not always. I have written a couple based on my son, but he doesn’t want me to use his name for the character. Otherwise, I’m influenced by the children I know or observe, but I haven’t based any stories on them.

8. Tell us about your other writing. You mentioned you've written other children's books, but this is your first published work.

I have a few that are finished and several that are works in progress. The ones that are finished are all short, so I’m collecting in one book. They make good bedtime stories because they are short. Let’s see, there’s Never Invite a Scorpion to Dinner, Bennett is a Dinosaur, Corduroy Crocodile, and The Turkey-Moose. I need to look through my files to see what can be added to it.

9. Why did you and Craig decide to self-publish the CD and picture book?

We have been self publishing for years. (My husband writes instructional guitar books, some of which have been picked up by traditional publishers like Mel Bay and Warner Brothers.) So we knew what we were getting into.

We had originally pitched the idea to our editor at one of the guitar book publishers. Although our editor was excited about the project, he couldn’t get it to go through. We were encouraged that he thought it was a good idea, so we pursued it ourselves.

10.Tell us your thoughts about self-publishing vs traditional publishing.

I have experienced both and have had a good experience with each endeavor. Life was a little easier with the traditional publisher, though. They had all of the upfront expense and I did’t have to use my living room for a warehouse. They also helped with the promoting of the book and they were able to get it into bookstores that are not open to self published authors.

11.Tell us about your marketing strategy for Melissa and the Green Blanket.

When “Melissa” was first released, I arranged an interview/article in our local newspaper, a radio interview, a book signing at a store, and readings at the library and Chick-Fil-A for family night. I was working on scheduling a couple of television interviews when I had to drop everything to help with a family health crisis.

Now I am having to start promoting all over again. I am getting the CD reviewed (thanks, Penny!), I have attended a book festival and a music festival, and I have sent the CD to a homeschooling magazine for their product review column. We have also had a CD signing at a bookstore and we promote “Melissa” whenever my husband has a performance. Sometimes we give copies away to a child who seems to particularly enjoy hearing the music.

Since its release, it has been available through Craig’s website (www.craigdobbins.com), on Amazon, CD Baby, and more websites than I can remember.

12.What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one.

Never having had an agent, I don’t know that I’m qualified to say much on this subject. My husband does the dishes and mails the review copies for me. Does he count as an agent?

A lot of publishing houses are still open to unagented submissions for children’s books, including some publishers that require an agent for their other genres. So, having an agent isn’t really needed for getting published.

One agent rejected Melissa and the Green Blanket because he “just wasn’t enthusiastic enough” about my project to represent it. Rejection isn’t personal, it’s really subjective. That particular rejection, by the way, ticked me off just a little bit. What if that agent isn’t “enthusiastic” about coming in to work that day? His rejection had less to do with my work or whether it fit his contact list and more to do with how he happened to feel at the moment.

On the other hand, I have watched Peter Beagle’s agent/manager, Connor Cochran, and I would love to have someone like him representing me. Connor makes things happen and he takes care of everything so that all Peter has to do is write or show up for engagements. I would love to have someone to keep up with submissions, marketing, and all of the business end of writing while I just spend my time being a writer. Of course, I’m no Peter Beagle so I don’t have a Connor Cochran.


13.Do you have any tips for new writers wanting to enter the field of children's writing?

Write. Keep writing. Observe children. Establish yourself by writing articles for magazines. Attend the Muse Online Writer’s Conference where you’ll get to meet a very supportive and encouraging group of people in addition to some great workshops. The Institute of Children’s Literature has an excellent writing program and they have helpful information on their website.

Follow the submission guidelines. Read them carefully and then do what they say. Rejection letters are just part of the process. If you follow the guidelines you can reduce the number of rejections because you won’t submit a children’s story to a romance publisher.

14.Where can people learn more about Julie S. Dobbins?

Currently the best place is at www.jacketflap.com/jsdobbins. My blog is posted there as well as links to any other websites where I can be found. I plan to launch my own website sometime during 2010.

Julie, thank you for being my guest today and sharing your writing experience with us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Review Melissa and the Green Blanket





REVIEW
Melissa and the Green Blanket
Written and told by Julie S. Dobbins
Music by Craig Dobbins
Illustrated by David Moon


This review is based on a review copy provided by Julie S. Dobbins in exchange for review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.

Melissa and the Green Blanket
is a multi-media package containing an illustrated children’s storybook and a CD/CD-ROM. The disc includes guitar solos, “Melissa” and “Appalachian Lullaby,” by Craig Dobbins, an audio version of Melissa and the Green Blanket narrated by author, Julie S. Dobbins, and a CD-ROM still movie of the delightful illustrations in Melissa and the Green Blanket, again with narration by Julie S. Dobbins and guitar solos by her husband, Craig. As an added bonus, Mr. Dobbins has included a pdf of the music score for both of his original tunes.

This professionally packaged set would make a delightful gift for any young child. Julie’s voice, with her Southern accent, is soft and soothing, and she tells her story in a manner that will keep children attentive. It is the delightful tale of Melissa who adores her green blanket and what happens when it disappears. It’s a theme all children who have had a “blankie” will be able to identify with. The music played by accomplished guitarist, Craig Dobbins, adds to the tale. The illustrations by David Moon are simple, but endearing.

I’m looking forward to sharing this story with my own granddaughter.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Penny Sansevieri - 20 Ways to Get Website Traffic (Reprint)

Today, I'd like to share an informative article written by Penny Sansevieri. Ms. Sansevieri knows marketing inside and out. She has a free newsletter and has graciously given permission to share reprints of her material.

Featured Article - 20 Simple Ways to Get Massive Traffic to your Website
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Embarking on an Internet marketing campaign doesn't have to be difficult, tricky, or complicated. Here are a few simple ways (twenty in fact) that you can easily implement to get tons of traffic to your site right now!

1) Write articles: believe it or not this is an incredible tool for driving traffic. Well-written, relevant articles can net you quite a bit of activity to your website. Don't forget to add your URL in your byline. Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length. You can send articles to sites like: articlecity.com, goarticles.com, submityourarticles.com and ezinearticles.com.

2) Social bookmark *everything* - and I do mean everything, you can bookmark each page of your site and each blog entry you post. While this might seem tedious it's worth it. You'll see a strong increase in traffic if you social bookmark each page on your site and each of your blog entries.

3) List yourself in the best directories - you'll have to pay for this but since most people don't do this (since everyone's looking for a freebie) you could really enhance your traffic by getting a listing: http://dir.yahoo.com, botw.org.

4) Get yourself listed at: DMOZ.org - it's not easy to get listed there but worth the effort.

5) Review: if you can review hot new products or books within your market, head on over to Amazon.com and start positioning yourself as an expert. In order to do this effectively you'll want to create an Amazon profile and make sure and sign each review with a reference to your URL (your website). You can also go to epinions.com and revoo.com to review products as well.

6) Offer a freebie on craigslist: you'll be amazed at how much traffic you get from a single craigslist ad. They key here is to send people to a page on your site and make sure they have to sign up for something (like your email newsletter) before they can grab their freebie. That way you're not just getting traffic, you're also building your list.

7) Create a "recommended by" list on your del.icio.us page - you can do this by logging on and creating an account at del.icio.us and then tagging articles, blogs and other content you think is important to your readership. Then offer this page as a resource site. You can add a link to this page in your email signature line or on your website.

8) And speaking of your email signature line - do you have one? If you don't, create one. Believe it or not, people do follow these links. You'll be amazed how many folks read email signature lines. I have one and change it several times a year, depending on what we're doing or promoting or what books I have coming out.

9) Lend a helping hand: you can be an answer person at Yahoo Answers http://answers.yahoo.com/ - you don't have to spend hours on there but maybe a few minutes a week. Make sure and include a link back to your site by your answers.

10) Set up a social networking site using Facebook.com, Linkedin.com, or Squidoo. It's free and easy to do, just don't forget the all-important link back to your site!

11) Make sure your blog has an RSS feed so if you capture a reader you don't lose them if they forget to bookmark your site or blog.

12) Join relevant groups at Yahoo groups http://groups.yahoo.com/. You'll find everything from groups on growing your small business, writing books, finding your passion, even underwater basket weaving. I dare you to find one that isn't right for what you're promoting. When you do find the right group, join and participate as you can!

13) Podcasting is another great way to drive traffic. Start a podcast by going to AudioAcrobat http://bookmkr.audioacrobat.com/ - yes, this is our affiliate link. There are other programs you can use, but I love AudioAcrobat. You can record the podcast over the phone quickly and easily and then hit the "send" button on your computer once it's recorded and the system will syndicate it to 27 podcast directories including iTunes. It's a great way to let people know about you and your website!

14) Start a blog and then once you do, start commenting on other people's blogs, linking to them from your site or adding them to your blogroll.

15) Inbound links: don't squander your time (or a perfectly good link) on smaller low-traffic sites. Instead spend your time going after high traffic, high quality sites. Good sites should have a PR (page ranking) of 4-6 depending on the market. You can find out what a site's page ranking is by downloading the Google toolbar, which comes with a PR feature built in.

16) Start an email newsletter: while it may not seem like a newsletter that you email can drive traffic to your site, you'd be surprised at the effectiveness of this type of promotion. If your newsletter (like your articles) is interesting and relevant to your audience you'll find that it has a huge pass-through factor. Meaning that it is passed from one email subscriber to another. Also, if you have an email newsletter you should never, ever go to a single event without your handy sign-up sheet. Yes, you can even use offline events to drive traffic to your website.

17) And speaking of offline efforts: if you're ever quoted in a magazine or other publication, make sure and mention your URL as it's appropriate to the topic. Don't be too pushy about this, but do not forget to tell folks you have a website that may be a great resource for the topic of your interview.

18) If you have products to sell why not get a store on eBay? This site gets a tremendous amount of traffic, and on your sales page you're allowed to list your URL. Another great way to get an inbound link and a way for people to find you.

19) Load a video on YouTube and 57 other video sites - if you don't have a video or don't know how to create one, contact us and we'll refer you to our fabulous book video people!

20) While this isn't a tip per se it's still important. If you're going to go through all the trouble of getting traffic to your site, make sure your site is converting this traffic into something. Get folks to sign up for something, your newsletter, the RSS feed on your blog. Whatever it is, getting their email address will help you re-market to them when the time is right. Studies show that visitors landing on a site often don't buy the first time. That's ok! You want to get them into your marketing funnel so you can market to them again and again - not in a way that's obtrusive, offensive or downright annoying but in a way that is helping them with their own mission. An example of this might be an email newsletter. A helpful, informative newsletter is a fantastic funnel. A blog is another great way to keep people in your marketing loop without bombarding them with "please buy my stuff" email messages. Also, make sure you know what your traffic numbers are before you launch into any Internet marketing campaign. By traffic numbers, I mean how many people are visiting your site. You want to know this so you can gauge a before and after view of your marketing efforts.

Penny C. Sansevieri, Editor penny@amarketingexpert.com

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spirit of the Season

I'm reposting a letter from Carolyn Howard Johnson which she published in her newsletter, Sharing With Writers. If you can participate, this looks like a good way to give to others who are in need, while doing a little shopping for your family and friends.

“The holidays are upon us. I’m excited to share this amazing holiday catalog with products you have never seen before. It’s called the Spirit of the Season Catalog - - for your gift giving pleasure - - but also as an example of an excellent approach at the kind of promotion that is effective for authors because it is helpful for others. So won't you please visit this transformational approach to gift giving. www.spiritoftheseasoncatalog.com.

“For those of you who are tired of trinket filled catalogs and are looking for special gifts that change people’s lives, the Spirit of the Season Catalog is perfect.

“For the first time ever, this online catalog offers a shopping experience that is fast, fun and green. It features bestselling books, unusual and personally - empowering, self - enriching products and services in a varied collection from amazing authors, coaches, gurus and mentors.

“You’ll find gifts in the Spirit of the Season Catalog in the following
categories: art, inspirational, motivational, business opportunities,
success & wealth building, health and energy healing, Law of Attraction
workshops, intuitive healing, all genres of fiction and a variety of non - fiction to empowering products that will light anyone’s life and many more too numerous to mention.

“Many sellers are even giving a portion of their earnings to charity helping others around the world like the women of an African village (who actually make the jewelry we are selling) and the children of St. Anthony’s Orphanage in Italy.

“The brainchild of Denise Cassino and Dr. Anna Maria Prezio, the Spirit of the Season Catalog (www.spiritoftheseasoncatalog.com) will be issued seasonally. The unique aspect of the catalog is that the founders take no profits but offer joint venture partners an opportunity to showcase a vast array of Internet based products and their amazing artistry often overlooked during the holiday shopping experience.

“It’s the catalog that keeps on giving throughout the season(s). Please share it with your friends, family and contacts! You can do so by simply copying this letter, adjusting it to your needs and sending it to others.

“I shared this opportunity with writers before and several Sharing with Writers subscribers are part of it. Thus, we can't go wrong when writers share with writers.
http://www.spiritoftheseasoncatalog.com

“Happy Writing, Promoting and Editing, too. And Happy Holidays, too!”
Carolyn Howard – Johnson
http://carolynhoward-Johnson.com

Thanks, Carolyn, for sharing this opportunity with everyone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Interview with author Beverly Stowe McClure





Today, my guest is author Beverly Stowe McClure. I've asked Beverly to tell us a bit about her latest children's novel, Just Breeze

1. Beverly, Breeze is an unusual name for a character. How do you create your
character names?

Breeze just came to me. I don’t know exactly from where, but it was fun and fit the girl in my story. Other character names have come from different places. Rebel came from a college girl that played drums in a small band that performed for our elementary students. Sometimes I struggle with names and try different ones until a name clicks.


2. How did you decide on the "secret" identity of Cam?

That took awhile. At first I thought he’d be an alien, but I didn’t want Just Breeze to be a fantasy. Breeze and Amy gave me the idea of who he might be when they were guessing what Cam’s story was. One suggestion was in the witness protection program. Ah-ha, I though. Secret agents sounded like fun.


3. Why did you choose to use the first person voice?

Breeze chose it. She wanted to tell her story through her eyes. So we did.


4. Breeze's siblings are twins. What exposure, if any, have you had to
this dynamic in a family?

Very little. Twins sounded like fun though, to add to Breeze’s feeling of being an outsider.


5. You have sense of what it's like to be a middle grade student. What
is your exposure to this age group?

Besides raising three boys through their middle grade and high school years, I also have three granddaughters who suffered the angst of those teen years. I taught fifth-grade students for ten years too, and they face some of the same uncertainties about themselves the Jr. high kids face.

6. Football plays a minor role in the story, why did you choose this
theme as a focus for marketing, e.g. key chain, note pads, etc.?

In the part of the country where I live, the autumn season means Friday night football, from elementary through high school and college. The timing of the release of the book was perfect for the football theme. Cam and Tony play football in the story, so the tattoos and football stuff made sense. Hopefully some boy readers will be attracted by the football theme, even though the main character is a girl. Cam and Tony are important supporting characters.


7. You have four other novels published for teens. Why do you like
writing for this age group?

I think I’ve never grown past that age myself. And I can write stories about teens who are what I wish I’d been or done. Besides, I prefer reading young adult books.

8. How do you choose your plots and themes? For example, recently I
reviewed one of your other books, Caves, Cannons and Crinolines, and it
is set in the civil war. This story is present day.

Many times, the story chooses me from a place I’ve been or from something I’ve read. The forthcoming Caves, Cannons and Crinolines that you reviewed (thank you) came about after a visit to Vicksburg, MS, and I learned the history of that city during the Civil War. I knew I had to tell the story of the women and children who lived during the siege. My paranormal, Listen to the Ghost, was the result of a trip to Charleston, SC, where we took a twilight walking ghost tour of the historic district. According to legend, many of the old houses have resident ghosts. The idea for Secrets I Have Kept came to me from a magazine article I read about ocean plants being used for medical purposes. Rebel in Blue Jeans is contemporary and loosely based on my horses and ranch life. And Just Breeze just happened.


9. What message do you want readers to take away from Just Breeze?

Hopefully, that everyone is different and we should accept the beauty that is within us as individuals.

10. Now that you've published several books, do you feel that you've
become successful? Why?

As far as having my books published, yes. I would, however, like to see more people reading them. An unread book is a sad, sad book. My characters are waiting to tell their stories.

11. Your previous books were with Twilight Times Publishing. Why did
you choose to submit this manuscript to 4RV Publishing?

4 RV Publishing’s books are lovely. So are the books from Twilight Times. Different publishers prefer certain types of books, and Just Breeze seemed more in line with the books 4 RV produces.


12. Do you have any tips to share with authors wanting to break into
children's writing?

Never give up. Be patient. Learn all you can about the business. Write the best story you can write. Edit it again and again, as many times as necessary. Have someone read the manuscript then edit it again.

13. Where can people learn more about you and your writing?

Website: http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com
Blogs: http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com
http://justbreeze.wordpress.com
http://rebelinbluejeans.wordpress.com
http://lizzieswar.wordpress.com

Thanks, Beverly for taking the time to answer these questions. It's always interesting to see how writers create their stories and characters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Review Just Breez by Beverly Stowe McClure






REVIEW
Just Breeze
By: Beverly Stowe McClure

This review is based on a review copy provided by Beverly Stowe McClure in exchange for the review, all reviews being my own opinion without guarantee or assumption of liking or disliking.


Just Breeze is a delightful read for middle age students. Although the main character is female, there are enough male characters that even boys would not be disappointed. This is a tale of finding oneself, dealing with the imperfections with which one is born, making and keeping friends, and knowing when to keep a secret and when to divulge it.

Ms. McClure has a youthful voice and tells this story in the first person. It's easy to be drawn into the book and to endure Breeze's trials right along with her. The reader can identify with Breeze's out of control hair, her shiny braces, big feet and bean pole body. While Breeze sees herself as everyone's "buddy," and the person everyone sees when they need something fixed, she is more than that. It takes the new kid in town to see beyond her tangled red hair and to give Breeze a new way to see herself.

This story is more than just about a girl meeting a boy. It is the tale of kids with problems. One comes from a home where the parents are always working, another lives with a grandparent, and one has a secret identity. While Breeze's family seems "normal," her siblings are older twins which leaves her feeling like the odd one out. These are typical kids struggling in school, trying to fit in with their peers, and learning about honesty and relationships.

Although this story deals with some difficult issues, it is an easy read for a middle grade student. The tone is light and peppered with humor. Ms. McClure knows how to weave a tale that will keep the reader turning the pages to see what happens next to Breeze and her friends. I enjoyed it Just Breezeand recommend it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Kindle Giveaway

I just entered a contest to win a free Kindle from Noobie (worth $259!) and I wanted you to have a chance to win one too!

All you need to do to enter is to click the link below or copy and paste it into your favorite Internet browser:

http://www.noobie.com/kindle-giveaway?ref=121302585

Be sure to read the email you get from Noobie after you register. You'll get your own unique link that you can use to earn even more entries in the drawing!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Finding Time to Write - Day 7

Today, my guests are authors, Anjali Banerjee and Charlee Compo, both very talented writers.

Anjali, please tell us about your writing schedule.

"I find I have to treat writing as a job and also as a habit. Practice, practice, practice. I try to write in the morning every day, before I go to work. I have a daily goal. Small steps. Kaizen. Some writers organize their year by writing deadlines on a calendar.

"My daily goal varies, depending on the following:

"-deadlines,
-whether I'm giving presentations, speaking at conference, schools or libraries,
-the demands of my day job.

"Some days, I don't get any pages written. Some days I'm just brainstorming. Some days I'm revising a manuscript, in which case I might have to plow through 50 pages a day. When I actually do have time to write, I shoot for three to six pages a day."

Anjali Banerjee
http://www.anjalibanerjee.com/site/children/home.html


Now to Charlee. Please tell us how you organize your writing time.

"The one thing I suggest every writer must have when he/she is writing a book is a good, concise compendium of each character, place or location, horse/keep/ship etc. If you have a compendium of your novel with who's who and how they relate to one another, idiosyncrasies, traits, appearance....you won't mistakes later on. As you create a character, add him/her and if you later write a sequel or reference that character in another book, you won't have him green-eyed in one and blue-eyed in the other.

"A good file cabinet with hanging files with appropriate names for research material is a must, as well. Having cheat sheets beside your computer for html code or ascii symbols for é, õ, î et al is a time saver and keeps you organized. ANYTHING you use on a daily basis should at the very least be in a protective cover sheet or laminated and easily at hand.

"Books on your genre, on grammar, research should be readily at hand, as well.

Charlee Compo
http://www.windlegends.org/

Thank you Anjali and Charlee for sharing your tips.