Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

For the past few years, my New Year's Resolution was to get published. In 2008, I did! Now, I suppose it's time to find a new resolution. This year, I've decided to start making writing goals for myself, spreading them out over the year at intervals I can accomplish.

I think this time of year is the perfect time for us all as writers to reflect on our past years, our successes, failures, and progress made with our careers. Today, I'll share some of my writing successes with you. Tomorrow, I'll make a list of what I hope to accomplish in 2009.

In 2008, I:

Published a picture book
Met Naomi Shihab Nye
Completed my thesis, my very first YA novel
Got my MFA!

Happy New Year, everyone! Let's make 2009 a productive one.

Monday, December 29, 2008

5 Ways to Get Ahead

I don’t claim to be an expert in publishing. I’ve been a “published author” for just a couple of weeks now. But almost from the moment my book Angeline Jellybean was accepted for publication, I’ve been promoting and learning the ins and outs of publishing. I am a strong believer that authors need to be their own advocates. Sure, you can hire someone to promote your book for you if you have the money, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be involved in the process. Self-promotion isn’t easy, but it is a fun and worthwhile pursuit. I have learned more about publishing, branding and promotion in the past nine months than I ever did in grad school. Here are some easy tips I think everyone can benefit from. You may find that by taking charge of your promotion, you’ll learn more about the publishing business and feel rewarded by the process.

1) Virtual Book Tours. In addition to the blog tour I’m doing with my publisher, I also belong to a Yahoo! Group for authors who wish to take their books on “Virtual Book Tours” 2) Blogging. Simply blogging about your book and related topics can enhance your credibility (and visibility) as a writer. Don’t just blog about your book, but also about the writing business, other books that you have read, and subjects that are related to your book. Gain interest!
3) Create promotional materials. Flyers, bookmarks, postcards and business cards are all fairly inexpensive ways to promote your self and your book. I got giant full-color postcards with the front cover of my book on them for next to nothing at
4) Volunteer. Find a teacher friend who wants an author to read to his or her class. Start making public appearances for free. Eventually, word gets around about you and your book, and you can start charging for appearances.
5) Network. We as writers tend to like to seclude ourselves in our offices to write our masterpieces. But I have found that by networking with other writers in your genre, you can not only make like-minded friends, but also learn a few tips and gain some readers! I have been told by many of my writer friends that they have purchased a copy of Angeline Jellybean. They have created a nice little foundation for my sales that would not have been possible had I not allowed them to take a peek into my life through my blog.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Some of your may be surprised to learn that I have only been serious about writing children's books for the past year or so. I wrote my very first picture book, Paws the Puppy, a little over two years ago. I was also working on my first, still unfinished fantasy YA novel at that point, too. But it wasn't until I took my first picture book class in the Fall of 2007, that I realized I really wanted to write for kids.

I'm a recovering poet. It's not that I don't see myself ever writing poetry again, but I just don't know if my poetry is right for traditional publications. In grad school, I became jaded over poetry. I mass-produced crappy poetry at a high rate, and none of it satisfied my professors. I was told that I wrote poetry for me, and that some poetry simply wasn't meant for public consumption. I grew tired of having to write poetry that fit a mold, that was socially acceptable, and therefore publishable. In my children's writing classes, I was encouraged to work with what my imagination came up with it, taught how to hone my craft and make it into something worthy of an audience. Most importantly, in fiction I could write whatever I wanted without being accused of writing every single detail true to something in my life. (That aspect of my poetry classes annoyed me the most. Other people could write persona poems successfully, but when I tried I felt as if they were all judging me. It was as if they didn't think I had the ability to step outside my comfort zone.)

I still sometimes get a feeling like some people think my writing is unfocused. I have written everything from picture books to YA novels to non-fiction articles for middle schoolers. I say, what is wrong with experimentation? I will admit that I have not found my niche in children's writing yet. Until I do, what's wrong with me working on many projects at once, working with different genres and writing for different age levels? The beauty of writing for kids is that you are not put into a box. Look at Jane Yolen. She has had a very successful career in both middle grade novels and picture books. No one tells Jane Yolen to settle on one.

I say, if I want to, I can do it all. Of course, I need to work on my craft before I become a highly-successful writer. All the more reason for me to experiment within the genre.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The History of Jellybeans

In honor of the Angeline Jellybean blog tour--which kicks off tomorrow-- here is a brief article on the history of the sugar-filled, egg-shaped concoctions, by

Angeline Jellybean can now be purchased at and the 4RV Publishing Store.

The Angeline Jellybean Blog Tour:

Ransom Noble at -December 28th
Vivian Zabel at -December 29th
Laura Peters at -December 30th
Elysabeth Eldering -December 31st
Susan Thompson at -January 1st
Sarah Adkins at -January 2nd
Lea Schizas at -January 3rd
Crystalee Calderwood at -January 4th

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Website, and Updating Old One

I've been thinking a lot lately about how to get kids more interested in reading and writing. I am working on a new website where I can take questions from kids about the writing process, post writing exercises, and share some of their work. I'm excited about starting it up, and I hope that I can keep up with it on a regular basis.

I'm also giving my regular site at a makeover. You can't see it yet, but it's getting a fresh, simple new look that I hope will be easy on the eyes.

It's been a busy week for me planning promotional stuff for Angeline as well. Look for updates about that soon.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where Reading Has Taken Me

Recently, my parents were helping me pack for an up-coming move. As my mom threw a massive pile of heavy books into a box, she grunted and joked "I knew when you knew how to read before kindergarten, I was in trouble!"

"Yeah,"I said back. "Now your daughter is standing in front of other parents telling them why they should read to their kids."

I'm currently working on a mini class for Adult Basic Education students on why and how to read to their kids. I feel qualified to teach such a class not only because I've had training from an early literacy organization, but also because my mother read to me. I credit my mother for bestowing on me a lifetime love of reading. I spent countless hours in her lap with a book. In fact, those times are some of my most vivid memories from childhood.

I would never be where I am today if it weren't for my mother reading to me and letting me read to her. I spent most of my adolesence curled up with a book. I was never told I shouldn't be a bookworm. Writing, to me, was my next logical step. I loved to read so much that I knew words were the most powerful way of expressing emotions. Eventually, I realized that the best way for me to share my love of reading with others is to write books that they would love to read. Now, as a published author, I am grateful for that lap time that got me ahead in life. I am 25 years old and holding my first picture book in my hand!

So, on this Christmas Eve I'd like to say thank you, Mom, for giving me the best gift ever. And I'd like to encourage all the parents out their to give their children that gift this year as well. Remember, it is never too early to give your child a book and it is never too early to read to them.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Join us on the Angeline Jellybean Blog Tour!

Angeline Jellybean Blog Tour Schedule

Ransom Noble at -December 28th
Vivian Zabel at -December 29th
Laura Peters at -December 30th
Elysabeth Eldering -December 31st
Susan Thompson at -January 1st
Sarah Adkins at -January 2nd
Lea Schizas at -January 3rd
Crystalee Calderwood at -January 4th

Join my fellow writers for interviews with myself and the illustrator Stephen Macquignon, book reviews, and other fun things, next week!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Honest Scrap Award

Vivian Zabel has nominated me for the Honest Scrap Award on her blog Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap!

The guidelines for winning this award include the following:1. List 10 honest things about yourself (make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep)2. Pass the award on to 7 bloggers

10 honest things about me (Hope they're interesting!):

1) I had my very first alcoholic drink when I was 22.
2) I also got my first real boyfriend at age 22. (The two aren't related.)
3) I took my first airplane flight, also when I was 22.
4) I moved away from home for the first time when I was 21.
5) I lived in the same house for the first 21 years of my life, and my dad also lived there almost his entire life.
6) I played the viola for 9 years
7) I could read when I was 4.
8) My first real crush happened in 1st grade. He was a new boy at school named Brandon.
9) I don't have a middle name.
10) I was supposed to be named Crystal Gale, after the country singer

Now, to tag 7 people:

Deborah Ramos
Holly Jahangiri
Sarah Adkins
Laura Peters
Karen Fabian

Friday, December 19, 2008

Reviews of The Duke of Dubai

“Fast paced adventure novel with historical background of the blossoming city of Dubai. Based on personal experiences of the author, read how American gas dollars built Dubai’s Desert Disneyland.

Carved from the sun-baked sands of Arabia, Dubai has evolved from an oil boomtown into one of today's most exciting and opulent metropolises. In this world of wealth and power, mystery and intrigue, Luigi Falconi is transformed from a na├»ve youth to Lou Falconi—The Falcon. Adopted into the brotherhood of eccentric expatriates, amusing Arabs and assorted adventurers led by The Duke, Lou is swept up in the excitement of Dubai's burgeoning development, discovers its morally conflicting cultural codes and uncovers many of its secrets.

He also discovers within himself greed—the desire to accumulate wealth like that of his compatriots, which leads him through the back streets of his conscience to various get rich quick scams and schemes.

This book takes the reader on a magic carpet ride deep into the political, cultural and sometimes perilous realm of modern Dubai—one of the wonders of the modern world, where money begets power, and power rules.”

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

More about The Duke of Dubai

Book Details

The Duke of Dubai
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Headline Books, Inc. (May 9, 2008)
LanguageISBN-10: 0929915763
ISBN-13: 978-0929915760
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches

From Sand Dunes to Indoor Ski Slopes
Did American Gas Dollars Build Dubai’s Desert Disneyland?
Or Are Arabs Just Good Businessmen?


For most people, Dubai conjures up images of grandeur and wealth. The Arab city is home to the world’s only seven-star hotel, some of the world’s most extravagant shopping centers, and man-made islands shaped like palm trees. Celebrities flock to Dubai to experience the latest innovations. But how does such a small city pay for these luxuries?

Louigi ‘Lou’ Falconi, author of The Duke of Dubai, says oil money built Dubai, but not necessarily from the US consumer. He knows that about which he speaks, having worked with movers and shakers in the region for decades in the oil business.

“Dubai is no longer a major oil producer – their production has dropped considerably,” says Falconi. “But Dubai got their oil-rich neighbors – Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and even Russia – to invest their oil dollars in Dubai. Arabs aren’t bad people – they’re just good businessmen.”

Falconi spent 35 years in Dubai and watched as it evolved from an oil boomtown into one of today’s most opulent cities. Falconi says America’s need for oil has made Dubai one of the richest cities in the world and that wealth is slowly destroying them.

He’ll take on the tough topics such as:

Are our high gas prices supporting this desert Disneyland?
Oil and how it’s changing the world
The Middle East versus our oil and gas supply
The misunderstanding between Islam and Christianity
Why it is more important than ever for America to maintain a friendly relationship with Dubai
How ordinary Dubai residents have had to change their life because of American greed
The lengths Dubai is willing to go to protect its wealth

Lou Falconi uses his years in Dubai and his oil company experience to help America better understand the Gulf Arabs and, in turn, understand how we can work together to bring an end to our oil and gas crisis.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meet Luigi Falconi, author of The Duke of Dubai

The love child of the local priest and the parish housekeeper, Luigi Falconi was born in Tricarico, italy, in 1945. Soon after his birth his parents immigrated to the United States.

He attended Mary Magdalene High School in Hoboken, New Jersey. Although an honor student with a football scholarship to Notre Dame, he left school to study Kabbalah. When fear of adult circumcision led him to give up the idea of converting to any religion that required surgery, he became an apprentice to a shoemaker on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

A skilled artisan, Luigi designed and crafted Chippewa moccasins while attending Michigan State University where he earned a BA in 1967 and an MA in 1969. While shoemaking and taking full-time university classes toward his Ph.D. in rocket science, he wrote three unpublished novels and one volume of poetry. The shoe shop burned in 1971, destroying Luigi’s manuscripts and his innocence. Mentally drained from this tragedy, he did the only thing left for an educated shoemaker to do: he became a teacher and, soon after, an administrator.

In 1974, Luigi uprooted his family from the security and comfort of their middle-class American home to become the headmaster of a small oil company school in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. he left education in 1978 and went to work in the Middle East oilfields.

After thirty-two years in the hot desert sun of Arabia, Luigi, unable to distinguish fact from fiction in his own life, left Dubai and moved to Italy to learn Italian and rediscover the truth.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Hosting Another Author Tomorrow

Come learn about Luigi Falconi, author of the book The Duke of Dubai, starting tomorrow on my blog.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thesis Defense

Today, I finally had my thesis defense. And I passed! I only need to do some minor fix-ups, print three copies, and have them bound. But the process of going through the defense helped me realize that the novel still has a way to go before publication. I need to fill in some plot holes and make some minor characters stronger. I am leaving the manuscript sit until summer, at which point I will pick it back up again and begin revisions.

In the meantime, I'm aleady formulating ideas for my next novel.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Angeline Jellybean Blog Tour!

Angeline Jellybean and I will be going on a blog tour the last week in December! Please drop by these awesome blogs to learn more about me, the illustrator Stephen Macquignon, and Angeline Jellybean herself!

Ransom Noble at -December 28th
Vivian Zabel at -December 29th
Laura Peters at December 30th
Elysabeth Eldering -December 31st
Susan Thompson at - January 1st
Sarah Adkins at -January 2nd
Lea Schizas at -January 3rd
Crystalee Calderwood at -January 4th

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Angeline Now Available at!

You can now order your very own copy of Angeline Jellybean at! (Click the link for a direct link to the book.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More about The Year the Music Died

by Dwight C. Rounds

Paperback: 307 pages
Publisher: Bridgeway Books (July 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933538694
ISBN-13: 978-1933538693
Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
Contact author:

Publicist: Denise Cassino
303 838 3399

Free Shipping!
The Year the Music Died Book
Price: $16.95
Each order comes with two fifty-minute CD compilations.

The first has all the #1 song clips in chronological order from 1964-72.

The second has the "best of the rest" during that era.

To pay by check, please e-mail the author ("CONTACT"), and he will mail you a book. An invoice will be sent with the book. For Pay Pal payments, also use "CONTACT", and an invoice will be sent.

Shipping included for US. UK orders are an extra $9 for shipping costs, Canada $7.

Monday, December 1, 2008

About Dwight Rounds, author of The Year the Music Died

Dwight Rounds probably can’t name the bands or songs on the radio today, but ask him to name two No. 1 songs from 1964 and 1965 whose lyrics were written before 1930, and he’ll answer you faster than you can change the dial.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, and raised in northern California, Rounds developed a fascination and eventual obsession with popular music when he watched the Beatles perform live on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on February 7, 1964, the official launch of the British Invasion. Rounds began collecting every Beatles album produced, eventually branching out to other bands such as the Rolling Stones and the Byrds. By 1972, Rounds noticed a marked decline in the quality of music on the charts and began listening to contemporary pop music less and less. To this day, Rounds only listens to bands from 1964 to 1972, an era that has defined his musical taste.

Rounds has compiled his knowledge of his true passion—popular music from the 1960s and early 1970s—into his first book, The Year the Music Died (Bridgeway Books, 978-1-933538-69-3, $16.95, July 2007). This collection contains insightful commentary and trivia about the music from 1964 to 1972, including charts and ratings, information on music festivals and commentary on the social movements of the time. The book offers baby boomers a chance to rediscover the music of their childhood and introduce it to today’s generation of listeners.

Rounds received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from DePauw University in 1976, earned his M.B.A. from The University of Southern California in 1978 and was a self-employed CPA for 22 years. He currently resides in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two children. When not listening to music, Rounds enjoys following baseball and playing golf (once with Alice Cooper) and tennis.