Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'm moving my blog!

After years of faithful and problem-free blogging here at Blogger, I have decided to switch to Wordpress for my blogging needs. I have several reasons for the switch, the main one being that the amount of spam I have been receiving as comments to this blog has gotten out of control. I thought it was time to wipe the slate clean and start over with a new, better blog in 2010. My current blog will stay up, of course, but I will eventually be disabling comments so that I will not have to moderate the excessive amount of spam that I get every day.

I hope that everyone will join me at my new blog Update your bookmarks!

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I dislike revising. I always did. I think I picked up the bad habit of not revising in college when I was still naive enough to believe that a poem was perfect the first time I put it on the page. I had this crazy notion that, since poems were my thoughts and emotions, they didn't need revised. This bad habit even lasted until grad school, where I often despised my poems because I was under so much pressure to write poems that were "publishable" and "accepted" instead of poems that were true to my style. As a result, if I didn't have to revise a poem for class, I didn't. I hid it away and didn't look at it again.

Now that I'm writing for children and teens and seriously pursuing publishing novels for the first time, revision has become part of my daily writing life. The hard truth is, you cannot get a novel published without hours of revisions. There are the pre-submission revisions, then the post-acceptance revisions, and even last minute before it goes to the publisher revisions! It seems to never end. For me, revising is still my least favorite part of the writing process. I will enjoy every moment of writing a novel in anywhere from one month to nine months, but revisions seem to drag out forever.

Right now, I'm revising Comfort Zone (which has a new title), the young adult novel that I finished in August. Just six more chapters to go, and my writing group will have read all of it! Even though I've been revising diligently, I still don't know if it's good enough to find a home for, and that scares me. I don't want to have gone through all of this revising for nothing!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Funniest Reasons Customers Reject Books

This article from Publishers Weekly mostly concerns children's books, which makes it even more sad and funny. Workers in bookstores and librarians must really hear everything! The Funniest Reasons Customers Reject Books

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

All About Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Today, it is my honor to be hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson! Carolyn is such a prolific and talented writer that it will be a challenge to only host her on one day. 

Carolyn's writing history: 

As a college freshman she was the youngest person ever hired as a staff writer for the Salt Lake Tribune, where she wrote features for the society page and a column under the name of Debra Paige.

Later, she was an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine. She also handled accounts for fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert who instituted the first Ten Best Dressed List, where she wrote releases for celebrity designers of the time including Pauline Trigere, Rudy Gernreich and Christian Dior. She was also a consultant for the Oak Park Press in the Chicago area.

Her nonfiction and humor have been seen in national magazines and her fiction and poetry appear regularly in anthologies and review journals. She has been a columnist for The Pasadena Star News and is now a columnist for Home D├ęcor Buyer, a trade magazine, and and others. She writes movie and theatre reviews for The Glendale News-Press.

She studied at the University of Utah, graduated from USC and has done postgraduate work in writing at UCLA. She also studied writing at Cambridge University, United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University in Prague. 

The author’s first novel, This Is The Place, and her book of creative nonfiction are award-winners. She also wrote a screenplay, The Killing Ground. Her book The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't was named USA Book News' Best Professional Book of 2004 and won Book Publicists of southern California's Irwin award.

The second book in the HowToDoItFrugally series is The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success which also won a USA Book News Best Book nod. It is also the winner of Reader Views Literary Award and a finalist in the New Generation Indie Best Book Awards. Her marketing campaign for that book took top honors for marketing.
Howard-Johnson’s stories have appeared in anthologies like: Pass/Fail, edited by Rose A. O. Kleidon, PhD; Calliope’s Mousepad  in review journals like California State University at Stanislaus's Penumbra and the Mochila Review.

She was honored as Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award by California Legislature members, Carol Liu, Dario Frommer and Jack Scott. She is the recipient of her community's Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance. She was honored by her city's Character and Ethics committee for promoting tolerance with her writing and was named to Pasadena Weekly's list of 14 women of "San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen"

Whew! What a list of accomplishments! I'm exhausted just reading about them. 
Carolyne truly is someone who can teach writers a lot about their craft and marketing. 
To learn more about Carolyne Howard-Johnson:

or see her blog 

Monday, November 30, 2009

VBT: Writers on the Move December Tour

December will be here tomorrow. (Can you believe it?) With a new month comes a new tour from VBT: Writers on the Move.

This month, we will all be touring tomorrow, December 1st. Below is the schedule. Check back here tomorrow for some information on a fascinating and very talented woman, Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

Dianne Sagan is hosting Lea Schizas
Karen Cioffi is hosting Heidi Thomas
Kathy Stemke is hosting Martha Swirzinski
Lea Schizas is hosting Brigitte Thompson
Nancy Famolari is hosting Kathy Stemke
VBT Writers on the Move is hosting Karen Cioffi
Crystalee Calderwood is hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Katie Hines is hosting Stephen Tremp
Helena Harper is hosting Deborah Weed
Liana Metal is hosting Dianne Sagan
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is hosting Debra Eckerling
Gayle Trent is hosting Dana Donovan
Mayra Calvani is hosting Helena Harper
Marvin Wilson is hosting Mayra Calvani
Linda Asato is hosting Marvin Wilson
Stephen Tremp is hosting Gayle Trent
Elysabeth Eldering is hosting Katie Hines
Darcia Helle is hosting Linda Asato
Deborah Weed is hosting Liana Metal
Brigitte Thompson is hosting Nancy Famolari
Martha Swirzinski is hosting Margaret Fieland
Heidi Thomas is hosting Jane Sutton
Jane Sutton is hosting Darcia Helle
Dana Donovan is hosting Crystalee Calderwood
Dallas Woodburn is hosting Linda Suzane
Linda Suzane is hosting Elysabeth Eldering
Debra Eckerling is hosting Dallas Woodburn

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Check out Robins Falls Magazine!

We would like to invite you to visit our new Robin Falls Magazine. The magazine is a seasonal online display of work by international Writers and Artists. Most are members of FaceBook group Red River Writers.

It is divided into four sections: Red River Writers, Robin Falls Kids, Radio Shows, and the Book & Art Shop. Within the pages of the sections are 5 interactive, recurring posts where you can ask related questions and get answers from experts.

Red River Writers section contains: Articles, Poetry & Lyrics, Short Stories, Writing & Promoting, Book Reviews, Videos, Excerpts from books, and Art Displays.

Robin Falls Kids section contains: Articles, Stories, Poems, Music, Art, Kids Activities, Book Reviews, Writing & Promoting Tips, Coloring Pages, and Book Trailers.

Radio Shows section relates to Red River Writers Live and Robin Falls Kids Blog Talk Radio Shows. There you will find profiles of Shows, Hosts, Guests, and Assistants. The shows motto is “To Entertain and Education.” Currently Robin Falls produces 15 different styled radio shows, representing all genres. There pages will definitely entertain.

Book and Art Shop at Robin Falls Magazine features work of friends of Robin Falls from all genres. Direct links to learn more about each item with ability to purchase are provided.

As if that was not enough, the magazine is stuffed with links and flashing buttons that will lead you directly to one of our more than 500 merchant affiliate stores. Special effort was made to give you an exciting online shopping experience. There is variety galore and discounts to boot.

So, please enter and relax by our beautiful falls while you view the magazine's magnificent scenery at

You can see numerous articles and book reviews by myself in this inaugural edition! 

About This Blog

Hello my readers,

About a month back I started receiving strange anonymous comments on one particular post about Elysabeth Eldering. They were full of links and didn't make much sense. Since then, I have received dozens of these comments, sometimes up to 10 a day. I was forced to set my blog to moderate Anon comments. After speaking with Elysabeth I learned that she is having some issues with her blog as well. Just to be safe, I have removed the offending post from my blog completely. I am also looking into if I can disable anonymous comments. I hope this prevents any future problems.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

All about Harry Gilleland

Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. is a 64-year-old southerner. Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, he earned a B.S. (1966) and a M.S. (1968) in Microbiology from the University of Georgia in Athens. Following three years of service in the U.S. Army as a captain, including a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to earn a Ph.D. in Microbiology from UGA in 1973. He then headed north to complete a two-year fellowship at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. In July of 1975 he joined the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, Louisiana. After twenty-nine years of teaching microbiology to medical and graduate students and performing vaccine research, Harry retired in July of 2004. Today Harry lives in Shreveport with his wonderful wife Linda. Harry enjoys being able to engage in his passion for writing full-time.

Harry has previously published three books of his personal poetry: Poetry For The Common Man: Storoems and Poems (2003, ISBN 1411600649), Gilleland Poetry: Storoems and Poems (2005, ISBN 1411629272), and Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man (2008, ISBN 978-1-4357-1242-3). In addition, Harry has published two books of prose, a tale of fantasy entitled Bob the Dragon Slayer (2005, ISBN 1411633156) and a contemporary romance story entitled White Lightning Road (2006, ISBN 978-1-4116-8693-9).

Harry Gilleland’s poetry recently won two cash awards in the 2008 Tom Howard Poetry Contest associated with Winning Harry’s rhyming storoem The Old Salty Poems won 2nd Place with a $1,000 prize, while his free-verse poem The Assembled Waiters earned $200 for a High Distinction award. Harry was the only poet to win two cash awards in the contest.

Harry Gilleland’s poetry has been included in four multi-author print anthologies of poems and short stories, in several poetry e-zines, and on numerous Internet poetry forums, in addition to his own three published collections. His storoems (story-poems) and poems are readily accessible to all readers, including those who do not regularly read poetry. Harry views the world with a poet’s eye.

To see Harry's books:
To see Harry's book covers and samples of his poetry:
Harry's books are available for purchase at:,, and Barnes and

Saturday, October 31, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

Today is my last day of sanity. NaNoWriMo begins in just about 12 hours! It is the one month of the year I both love and despise. Despite my excitement yesterday, today I feel anxious and doomed. I've realized just how many of my writing friends have actually completed this seemingly impossible task. Some even twice! And here I am, a third time participant, still looking to take home the gold.

I have a couple of things on my side this time. I don't have school or a job to get in the way. I could theroetically sit in front of my laptop all day and just write. I don't have super fantastic Thanksgiving plans like usual. I have completed a complex, month-long NaNoPrep program on I am more prepared than ever. But, I do have the task of strengthening my YA novel up enough to subit it to a contest, judging some contests on, putting together a newsletter, job searching, and taking the pesky Praxis test. So, despite my boy scout-like preparedness and the fact that I'm best friends with my characters, I'm under more pressure than every. Not to mention trying to keep up with my two online writing group friends who have both finished NaNo twice!

Good luck to everyone who is declaring their insanity tomorrow. See you December 1st in the looney bin!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

VBT-Writer's on the Move Celebrates Its First Anniversary!

Well, it's a YEAR! That's right, we have been cross-promoting and helping one another for a year now.
To celebrate this accomplishment, we will have a SUPER-DUPER Anniversary Tour!
The number before the host's name is the day in November that he/she will post in the tour.

But, before I explain more about it, here's the schedule:

1 Dianne Sagan is hosting Heidi Thomas

2 Harry Gilleland is hosting Karen Cioffi

3 Karen Cioffi is hosting Martha Swirzinki

4 Kathy Stemke is hosting Brigitte Thompson

5 Nancy Famolari is hosting Deborah Weed

6 Margaret Fieland is hosting Elysabeth Eldering

7 Crystalee Calderwood is hosting Harry Gilleland

8 Katie Hines is hosting Heather Paye

9 Helena Harper is hosting Steve Tremp

10 Liana Metal is hosting Crystalee Calderwood

11 Carolyn Howard-Johnson is hosting Marvin Wilson

12 Gayle Trent is hosting Dianne Sagan

13 Mayra Calvani is hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson

14 Marvin Wilson is hosting Gayle Trent

15 Linda Asato is hosting Mayra Calvani

16 Heather Paye is hosting Katie Hines

17 Steve Tremp is hosting Helena Harper

18 Elysabeth Eldering is hosting Linda Asato

19 Darcia Helle is hosting Liana Metal

20 Deborah Weed is hosting Nancy Famolari

21 Brigitte Thompson is hosting Margaret Fieland

22 Martha Swirzinki is hosting Darcia Helle

23 Heidi Thomas is hosting Kathy Stemke

Each day there will be prizes offered. All you have to do is leave a comment on the host's site on the day he/she is posting for their guest and you may be a WINNER!

The Winner will have a choice of ONE of 2 or 3 books of our members or other related gifts, OR a one day guest spot on THIS site!

Prizes being given away EVERY Day from November 1st through November 23rd!

OH! Wait a minute! That's not all! We are still having our Mystery Site Giveaway and the SUPER-DUPER PRIZE is a $25 (US) GIFT CARD to either Amazon, Target, or an American Express Gift Card. I'll know for sure by the end of this month.

Winners will be notified the day after each posting. The Mystery Site Winner will be notified Sunday, November 29th.

Come celebrate with us and have the chance of being one of the WINNERS of a great gift in the process.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

 State of Reservations by Elysabeth Eldering

What is the state of reservations? That's what young readers must figure out in the latest book in the Junior Geography Detective Squad Series by Elysabeth Eldering.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Quotes. (Hit refresh for a new one!)

Crystalee's favorite quotes

" Try, reach, want, and you may fall. But even if you do, you might be okay anyway.
If you don't try, you save nothing, because you might as well be dead.
-Tibby Tomko-Rollins"— Ann Brashares

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meet Author Elysabeth Eldering

Today, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Elysabeth Eldering, author of the Junior Geography Detectieve Squad series, and fellow 4RV author.

With a childhood spent traveling the globe, writer Elysabeth Eldering developed a passion for geography. Growing up in a military family, Elysabeth lived in Japan, Germany, New York, Kentucky, and Texas before her family finally settled in a small town in South Carolina. Elysabeth, who lives in Honea Path, put her globetrotting skills to work in the Junior Geography Detective Squad's 50-state mystery trivia series.

Published by 4RV Publishing, the series made its debut in summer 2008 with State of Wilderness. The Junior Geography Detective Squad will continue to put their mystery-solving talents to work in each state, challenging young readers on their knowledge of the nation's geography and interesting facts about each state. State of Quarries is next in the line-up.

The mother of three - an adult son and a teen-aged son and daughter - juggles a schedule that includes volunteering with her children's school activities, such as marching band and band competitions. An avid pet lover, Elysabeth is caretaker for the family's three dogs and a rabbit named Easter. She's active in the Greenville chapters of Sisters in Crime and the SC Writers Workshop and has judged entries for the Derringers Awards competition.

Elysabeth entered her first writing contest on a dare from a friend. Since then, the prize-winning writer has received awards from Armchair Interviews and Echelon Press. Her most recent story, “Bride and Seek,” was published in the SC Writers Workshop anthology The Petigru Review and is available on She has an article on editing and self publishing, also with Armchair Interviews.

To learn more about the Junior Geography Detective Squad, visit  . Contact the author at  .

Books may ordered from  or Vivian at  (for special orders)

On Saturday, we will take a look at the latest book in the series, State of Reservations.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Angeline Will Be Traveling and more updates

Angeline will be making an appearance at the Orange County Children's Book Festival on October 4, 2009. I wish I could go with her! I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to send a copy of Angeline Jellybean and some promotional materials to the festival through the website AuthorsDen.

Recently, I've been writing for a brand new online magazine called Robin Falls Magazine. It is run by April Robins, leader of the Red River Writers group on Facebook. The magazine contains two sections. Red River Writers is where writers share tips, short stories, and book reviews. Robin Falls Kids for children, parents and teachers contains activities, poems, short stories, and reading advice. I have written two book reviews and an article about online promotion for writers, which will appear in the first issue this winter!

All this, and I'm gearing up for NaNoWriMo and the Muse Online Writer's Conference, too!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What does it mean to be a "real" writer?

Over at Nancy Famolari's blog, there's a discussion going on over what it means to be a "real" writer.

I was flabbergasted when I read that Nancy had dealt with a group who defined "Published Author" as someone who had received an advance from a publisher. This rather snobby definition exclude authors who have been published in magazines, e-zines, e-books, self-published and by small presses who can't afford to offer advances.

Nancy asks the question: "What does it mean to be a real writer?"

Personally, I distinguish the terms "writer" and "author." A writer is one who writes. Anyone can be a writer. A writer becomes an author when he or she sees their work in print. They don't even have to receive a paycheck for their writing. The process of being published, regardless of the terms of that publishing, makes a writer an author.

Although some means of publishing are more socially acceptable than others, they are all valid methods.

What do you think? What makes a "real" writer?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Trailer for Angeline Jellybean!

After months of procrastinating, I have finally made a book trailer for Angeline Jellybean. The process wasn't as hard as I thought, and in fact was lots of fun! I made the video using Windows Movie Maker, a free, easy to use program that came with my computer. You can now view the video on YouTube! I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Interview with Deborah Weed

Could you tell us more about the interactive, original musical that you are putting together for children and their families?

Yes! Since my background includes creating and producing theatrical experiences for both
children and adults, I have learned something very important. If you want someone to really
remember something and make learning FUN, then put your words to music.

Have you ever created and produced a children’s musical before?

Yes! I created and produced The Sticky Bun Bandits. It was a riot. The music included everything from rock-n-roll, pop, and reggae, to hip hop.

What was The Sticky Bun Bandits about?

It helped children understand the what solutions are through my main characters: Wickelsnaker, a grandpa; his grandchildren, Sarah and Drew, and a multi-colored zebra called Jammin. I branded them “Solution’s Tour Guides.” Their first adventure was to help Big Ant find out where the greedy Sticky Bun Bandits were hiding all of the sugar, yeast and dough in Sweetland.

Where were the shows performed?

The cast performed at Malls; festivals; schools; parties, etc. I built it into a show that had a
tremendous demand.

Are you still doing the production?

No, right when I was at the top of the game, I experienced a health challenge that derailed my

What have you learned from that experience?

Great question. I learned that success is not what I thought it was. Success to me, is being happy moment to moment. If I am having fun doing what I am doing, that is enough.

How will The Luckiest Penny be different?

Before, I wanted to prove what I was capable of. I did that. This time around, I want to share my wisdom and expertise with others so that they can shine!

Is there anything else that you would like to share with my readers?

Yes! Never, ever give up! We always hear these words and it can sound like platitudes. However,if you’ve lived a “Chutes and Ladders” type of life like I have, then you can say it from a different place--a place where it is not an exchange of words but an exchange of energy from the heart!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Meet Deborah Weed, Author of "The Luckiest Penny"

Deborah Weed has had an extensive thirty-year career in marketing/entertainment that has
included everything from being: Director of Marketing for Fame International responsible for a
26 million-dollar pavilion; Director of Development for Citibank; Creator/Producer of
“Sensations”; “The Disappearance of Dino Dinero”; “The Sticky Bun Bandits”; “Compassionate
Chip Cookies & Milk,” etc. . .

A life threatening health challenge redirected Weed’s life. She got stuck and realized that people
defined her by the circumstances, rather than by a lifetime of experiences. After regaining her
mojo, Weed decided to leap into the world of writing, inspirational speaking and coaching so that
she could provide a shortcut for others who are experiencing disappointment and feeling

“The Luckiest Penny,” is Weed’s first book. “The Luckiest Penny” is the story of two rare 1943
pennies. One penny remains out of circulation, full of himself and selfish, caring only about how
much money he is worth. The other penny decides to experience living and along the way
discovers what really matters in life.

“This book was written to give children a healthy set of values that will assist them on their
journey in life. I want them to remember what is really important so that they don’t get
discouraged by life’s ups and downs,” said Weed. The book’s genre is a fable/allegory and the
illustrations by Ernest Socolov, transport the reader into the alternative world of a penny who is
tarnished and yet loved!

An all original, musical interactive production is being created and produced for “The Luckiest
Penny.” The show should be ready in November.

Weed is currently working on: a second children’s book with collaborator Ellen Brazer; a book
that shares her father’s wisdom (The working title is “Dancing on my Father’s Shoes) and a
social network to help people of all ages and background get unstuck.

Weed is also an award-winning artist. Water sculptures are the primary medium for her mixed media pieces. The result is a salubrious technique that takes color into a new arena of purity that is vivid, fluid and alive.

Born and raised in Miami, Weed is blessed with a loving family and friends that are her
More about Deborah:

Monday, August 31, 2009

Tomorrow: Meet Deborah Weed

Tomorrow and Thursday: Meet Deborah Weed, author of the children's book The Luckiest Penny. Learn all about the book and her other projects, including children's musicals!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Everyone Loves Mo Willems!

Everyone loves Mo Willems, author/illustrator of great picture books like the ever-popular Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Now you can read his fantastic blog that takes readers behind the scenes of the life of an author/illustrator. You can even follow the rants of the Pigeon on Twitter!

Just another example of how truly everyone is jumping on the blogging/Twitter bandwagon.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Vote at First Book!

For many kids, books aren't widely available. That's where First Book can help. Right now, First Book is asking you to vote for the state you feel is most worthy of a donation of 50,000 new children's books! You can vote once a day up until September 30th at First Book also wants to know: What book got you hooked? Results of the national vote – as well as a Top 50 list of books that got readers hooked – will be published in October.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A New Tour of VBT: Writers on the Move Starts Sept. 1st!

VBT: Writers on the Move starts their next round of promotion on September 1st! Each month, a group of talented, award-winning writers set aside their blogs on the 1st and the 3rd to promote each other's latest books and projects. This month, we start the VBT: Writers on the Move Mystery Site Give-away. Each month, the winner will have the choice of receiving the Mystery Site Host's book or a guest spot on VBT Writers on the Move blog. So, go visit all our blogs and see what we've been up to, and you could also be a winner!

VBT Writers on the Move September Schedule

Dianne Sagan hosts Crystalee Calderwood- That's me!

Harry Gilleland hosts Steve Tremp (Author of Breakthrough)

'Karen Cioffi hosts Vivian Zabel (Author or Case of the Missing Coach, Midnight Hours, and many more, and publisher at 4rv Publishing)

Kathy Stemke hosts Heather Paye (15 year old author of A Gift from Above)

Lea Schizas hosts Nancy Famalari (author of Summer's Story)

Nancy Famalari hosts Carolyn Howard-Johnson (Author of The Frugal Editor and The Frugal Book Promoter)

Vivian Zabel hosts Kathy Stemke (Author of Moving Through all Seven Days)

Margaret Fieland hosts Dianne Sagan (Author of Rebekah Redeemed)

Crystalee Calderwood -that's me! hosts Deborah Weed (Author of The Luckiest Penny)

Katie Hines hosts Marvin Wilson (Author of I Romanced the Stone, Between the Storm and the Rainbow, and more.)

Helena Harper hosts Mayra Calvani (Author of Crash!)

Dorothy Massey hosts Harry Gilleland (Author of numerous books of poetry)

Liana Metal hosts Lea Schizas (Author of Bubba and Giganto- Odds Against Us and founder of the Muse Online Writer's Conference)

Carolyn Howard-Johnson hosts Gayle Trent (mystery author)

Gayle Trent hosts Karen Cioffi (Author of Day's End Lullaby)

Mayra Calvani hosts Katie Hines (Author of upcoming book Guardian)

Marvin Wilson hosts Liana Metal (Author of Storytime)

Anita Yasuda hosts Dorothy Massey (her work appears in the Mini Mysteries and Spooky Stories anthology for kids)

Linda Asato hosts Helena Harper (Author of It's a Teacher's Life!: A Collection of Poems Set in a Girl's Private School)

Heather Paye hosts Anita Yasuda (Author of numerous books for both adults and children)

Steve Tremp hosts Margaret Fieland (Author of Moving Through All Seven Days)

Deboran Weed hosts Linda Asato (Author of the 4RV book Spider in Our Mailbox)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Come Visit my Store!

This month on my store, I'm featuring Angeline Jellybean, as well as a number of back to school books for young readers. I hope you'll check it out and purchase books for your children as they head back to school!

Friday, August 21, 2009

As Promised: Winner of the Angeline Jellybean Prize!

Sorry for posting this late. As promised, here is the announcement about the winner of the special Angeline Jellybean prize from!

The winner is Beth Bence Reinke. Congratulations, Beth!

If you could please e-mail me your address ( your prize will be in the mail shortly!

Thanks to everyone who entered. Unfortunately, the contest didn't generate as much activity as expected, but look out for more contests and special events soon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Life: Writing and Working

It's been awhile since I've posted here. All of my energy has been eaten up by working on my novel, looking for a job, and looking for an apartment.

My YA novel (working title Comfort Zone) is almost finished! I'm very excited but at the same time it feels a little anti-climatic. It has been such a part of my life for almost nine months that I don't know what to do with myself after it's finished. I know I'll move on to other projects and eventually return to it for revisions, but I'm still sad to see it end.

I've been sending out poetry and flash fiction again. I have some picture books that I want to send out too. And I'm writing all the time. Not just on my novel, but on random other things too. My passion for writing has never been higher.

My second year with AmeriCorps will come to and end next week, and I've been desperately looking for a "real job." I've applied for teaching positions, secretary positions, pretty much anything I could find that I'm half interested in, and all I've received are rejection e-mails (or no responses at all). I did, however, land a gig teaching one writing for children class at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts this winter, which is really, really exciting. And next week I have an interview for an internship with a literary agency, which I'm hoping leads to bigger things, but neither one of those positions is going to pay the rent.

In short, I'm at a crossroads in my life. I've been working desperately for months to figure out what to do with myself after AmeriCorps ends, and now that time is here, and I still don't know. I hope I can get a break soon. I've applied for an alternative teacher certification program that would start in June, so I have nine months of uncertainty ahead of me. Long enough to finish another novel, but not long enough to really get started at a decent job.

I know it's a tough world out there right now for job seakers, so I'm pursuing everything I can and hoping one of the opportunities works out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More about Helena Harper

Biography of Helen Harper

Helena Harper is a native of England, but she grew up in a household that did things somewhat differently to other English households, because her mother was German (her mother had met her father in Hamburg at the end of WWII, when as a British soldier he had been stationed there). This mixed background has had a profound influence on Helena and her understanding of so-called national divisions and whom we call an 'enemy' and whom we call a 'friend'.

From an early age she loved to read and write, particularly fantasy stories, and later she enjoyed studying foreign languages. At Surrey University she studied German, Russian and International Relations and spent considerable periods of time in Germany, Austria and Russia as part of the course. After university she went into banking, but soon realised that was a big mistake. “I felt like I was being suffocated,” she says of the experience.

She then spent a year teaching languages at a private school in London, and enjoyed it so much she decided she would get properly trained. She did a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Exeter University and then started her career as a modern languages teacher, a career which has lasted twenty years. During that time she has continued to write, concentrating primarily on fantasy stories for young children. However, in the past few years she has also discovered the joys of writing poetry for adults, and her first two books are poetry collections: It's a Teacher's Life...! and Family and More – Enemies or Friends?, which have been inspired by her professional and personal life.

Helena is now a private tutor and translator. She is continuing to write children's stories, and illustrations for her first children's picture book are now being done. Her aim is to see the book in print before the year is out. Many people ask Helena why she likes to write. She feels she can best express it like this:

The blank page calls,
the heart responds,
imagination spreads wide its wings
and launches into infinity...
Fingers dance,
words flow,
the page fills,
the soul takes flight
and the spirit sings.

Copyright © Helena Harper


Author's website:

Authorsden website:


Follow her on Twitter:

Purchase Family and More-Enemies or Friends?:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Family and More- Enemies or Friends? by Helena Harper

Family and More: Enemies or Friends? by Helena Harper

Who influences us in our lives? How do they influence us? Whom do we call an enemy? Whom do we call a friend? And why? Why do we have relationships at all?

These are the questions Helena Harper eloquently asks in her collection of poems that examines the relationships in her own life. She has had to rethink her definition of 'enemy', not least because her father was English and her mother German and they met in the aftermath of World War II in Germany. She has also been forced to rethink her definition of 'friend'. If we learn something from someone that helps us to grow and develop as human beings, becoming more understanding and compassionate in the process, then surely most people we meet in life will be our 'friends'?

Through the memories and experiences of the people in Helena's life, others can hopefully reflect on their own and maybe come to understand themselves and their relationships better.

Review of “Family and More – Enemies or Friends?”

Family and More – Enemies or Friends? is more than a collection of poems, it is a story I enjoyed and learned from. As you read this book, it becomes clear that the author put a great deal of time and effort into the choice of every word used. Each poem has a melodic flow that moves smoothly into the next.

Family and More enlightens the reader to the conflicts and confusion that exist in a family divided by war. Being the child of a German mother and English father in the aftermath of WWII, the author delves into her family’s history by examining the lives of several family members as well as other personal relationships. Each poem is an intertwined life. With descriptive imagery these people come alive; you see their struggles and triumphs.
This wonderful poetic story goes beyond a family history; it depicts the futility, frustration and hardship of war, along with the frailties and strengths of the people that make up each of our families.

Family and More – Enemies or Friends? is a beautifully written book. I highly recommend it.

Karen Cioffi, Author and Freelance Writer DKV Writing 4 U ( of Day’s End Lullaby

Contact details/more info:

Helena’s website:
Helena’s authorsden website:
Helena’s blog:
Follow Helena on Twitter:
Family and More- Enemies or Friends? is only available was an E-book from the publisher Eloquent Books.

Stay tuned on Monday for more information about Helena!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What are your writing roots?

I had a really fascinating conversation yesterday with Mark about how long we've been writing. My writing roots sprouted in Mrs. Biseli's first grade class. Each week, we were given a small black and white picture at random, which we were to paste into our notebooks and then write a story based upon it. I absolutely loved it. I always had the longest stories out of everyone in my class, and my teacher would always compliment me on my name choices.

Although I started out writing short stories, pretty soon I had switched to poetry. Poetry got me through my difficult pre-teen and teen years. In my eighth grade reading class, we were encouraged to do creative projects like writing poems based on the books we were reading. I always went way over the top, using posterboard, colored paper and glitter as backgrounds for my work.

My love of poetry continued until I placed 2nd in a local poetry contest held in affiliation with the Blair County Arts Festival. That was the first time I ever had to read my poetry in front of people, and I was absolutely terrified. Around that time, I also had my first experience with I didn't realize it then, but the poem I entered probably wasn't publication worthy, yet they "accepted" it and also nominated it for some prize. Once I realized that the company thrived on taking unsuspecting poets' money, I could never look at that poem the same way again. But the mere fact that I had won a poetry contest was enough to propel me into high school.

In college, I majored in English and took my very first poetry workshop. Despite some not-so-great teachers, I excelled in poetry. I felt as if I had found my niche. I had some awesome teachers there, too, who introduced me to poets like Nikki Giovanni and Ted Kooser. I also literally got to meet some well-known poets too. My poetry improved so much in those four years.

I applied to the MFA program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh toward the end of my senior year in college, and was blown away when I was accepted. I started there in August 2006. Chatham was my dream school. I enrolled in the poetry track. Although I have mixed feelings about the program now, I credit Chatham for helping me decide what I don't want to do with my life and what I do want to do with it. I took my very first class in writing for children during my first semester, and that's when my writing really started to come alive.

Almost three years later, I have my MFA in Creative Writing with a dual emphasis in Poetry and Writing for Children, have had my first picture book, and numerous poems, published. I can't believe how far I've come with my writing. I never considered writing for children before going to grad school. I also feel as if I have gone full circle- from a child writing short stories to an adult writing short stories for children. I am so passionate about writing for children and feel as if I can be myself through my stories and books for kids.

I have already written my first YA novel and I'm currently almost finished with my second. Writing for children has given me the opportunity to explore many diverse genres.

Now, my question to you: When did your writing roots begin?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Angeline Goes to the Zoo!

Today, July 25th, Angeline will be appearing at Oklahoma Zoo's 2nd Annual Author Expo! Vivian Zabel from 4RV Publishing will be there with a number of books, including my very own Angeline Jellybean! Angeline is very excited for the cotton candy Viv has promised her. ;-)

You can read all about 4RV's involvement in the festival of Viv's blog.

Friday, July 24, 2009's Author Central

Author Central is a new free service from that allows authors to set up their own pages on, complete with a photo, biography, and links to every book written by the author that is available on You can view my Author Page at

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An Interview with Deb Hockenberry

Check out Deb Hockenberry's blog today for a brand new interview with me about Angeline Jellyean! It was great to be interviewed by a children's writer from my hometown, Altoona, PA. I wish the best of luck to Deb in her pusuit of getting published!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Contest: Help Angeline Taste the World!

Angeline came to me with a problem today. She is tired of living on the farm and wants to see the world! I’m afraid her sweet tooth is back. She told me she’s heard that Ocean City has some great salt water taffy, Hershey, Pennsylvania has the best chocolate, and she can’t wait to get her hands on some Turkish delight!

I promised Angeline I’d help her try as many sweet treats as possible. To achieve her goal, she must visit as many of you as possible! Here’s how you can help:

1) If you’ve already purchased a copy of Angeline Jellybean, let me know what city or state you live in, and what candies Angeline has tried there, in a comment below.
2) If you haven’t purchased Angeline Jellybean yet, what are you waiting for? Angeline is hungry for new types of candy. There are several ways you can buy the book:
*Order it on
*Order it from the publisher, 4RV Publishing
*Go to your local bookstore and ask them to order a copy for you

Once you order Angeline Jellybean, leave a comment below listing your city or state and what candy you’re going to give Angeline. Post your message by August 13th, 2009 and you could win a prize!

Now, here’s the fun part! On or after August 15th 2009, I will choose one person at random to receive a very special prize of jellybeans from, courtesy of me!

Good luck! (And let’s hope that Angeline doesn’t get sick from eating all this candy!)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Angeline Jellybean Book Review on Suite 101 by Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvania, author of the picture book Crash! has posted a review of Angeline Jellybean on Suite 101. You can see her review here.

PLUS Stay tuned to this blog tomorrow, where Angeline and I will be making an announcement about a very special contest!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Self-Promotion: A Challenge with Self-Publishing and Small Presses

Most of us have heard of Mo Willems, Doreen Cronin or Sandra Boynton. They’re all big name children’s book writers signed with big name publishers. They have marketing teams behind them, designing stuffed animals, CD’s, and endless lines of follow up books. But, for most of us, that kind of success is just a dream. Many people these days are turning to self-publishing or small presses to get their feet wet.

In general, publishing with a small press is still more socially acceptable than self-publishing. Publishing with a small press also often brings the advantage of more support from the publisher. My picture book, Angeline Jellybean, was published by 4RV Publishing, and I was pleasantly surprised that I had so much input during the process.

Although all authors need to promote their books on their own to a certain extent, I find this particularly true for those published by small presses and self-publishers. It also seems true that we have to work twice as hard to get our names out there. Since Angeline Jellybean was published in December 2008, I’ve worked hard to promote it both online and off. I’ve also run into a number of challenges. The greatest challenge anyone who is self-published or published by a small press has to face is not getting shelf space in major bookstores. As a result, I’ve found it hard to find bookstores willing to host me for book signings or author appearances. I did manage to get a few copies of my book on the shelf at a local independent bookstore, but the same bookstore never granted my publisher’s request for a book signing. I recently sent a follow-up e-mail to the bookstore, and have yet to receive a reply.

Selling books is a big business, so it makes sense that bookstores want to carry merchandise that is going to sell. Sometimes, however, it feels like just another impossible hurdle to an author trying to make a name for himself. Most of the authors I know who have been published by small presses have turned to the internet for marketing and promotion. Groups like VBT-Writers on the Move, Goodreads, and invention of blogs help books live on even in a technology-driven world. When your book is only available online or though the author personally, it makes sense to promote online. Still, online promotion can only take you so far. I believe that you have to somehow break into the real world to make a name for yourself.

I have thought of a few qualities which authors must possess in order to make it big. Not surprisingly, time and money are on top of the list. Also included are patience, drive and determination. You can’t be timid about writing, calling or visiting local bookstores and libraries. You also can’t let yourself take it too personally when you get let down.

Still, I wonder if mainstream bookstores and schools could be more open to hosting a little-known author who just wants to get their feet wet. At the very least, I would expect more people to tell me no than not return my phone calls.

What do you think? Should we as writers be doing more, or are traditional venues for promotion and readings a thing of the past?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's Wrong with Mud Tour is here today!

Today, it is my pleasure to welcome illustrator Nikki Shoemaker to my blog. I "met" Nikki because she is currently working with my publisher, 4RV Publishing. Today, we will be discussing What's Wrong with Mud?, a picture book written by Gillian Colley and illustrated by Nikki.

Can you tell my readers a little about the premise behind What's Wrong with Mud?

A: The characters in What's Wrong with Mud? are pigs and ducks. The ducks like to play in their pond and stay clean while the pigs like to play in their sty and stay dirty. One day they decide to change places to see how the other spends their day. The pigs get to play in the pond and the ducks get to play in the mud. They learn that both lifestyles can be fun!

I know very little about the life of illustrators. How did you get involved in this particular project?

A: This particular project actually just popped up in my inbox one afternoon. The editor who runs the ABC Picture Book Competition had seen my work and contacted about participating in the competition. I felt it would be a neat adventure and decided to say yes and an adventure it has been! Though this may be a rare occurrence to some illustrators, I seem to gain a lot of projects just from all the networking I do over the internet. Marketing yourself in this industry is key.

What is your educational background and how did it prepare you for picture book illustrating?

A: I starting illustrating when I figured out what crayons could do. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by family and teachers who recognized my talents at an early age and made sure I stayed active in the arts. That then led me to Columbus College of Art and Design were after a year of fundamentals, was advised that my skills were best suited for the illustration industry. I have been working towards the children's industry ever since.

What mediums do you typically work in? Would you say that What's Wrong with Mud? was a challenge to complete?

A: I have worked in many mediums and have felt comfortable with just about anything I pick up, but have always loved playing with paper. So What's Wrong with Mud? was completed in cut paper. Today, I still do a little bit in cut paper, but work mostly in digital format, because it is quick and allows you to do some different things and provides a multitude of effects.

How long does it take you to finish a picture book?

A: It all depends on the picture book. It took me about 8 months to finish the artwork alone, on What's Wrong with Mud?. And then another two months to go through the layout and proofing. I am currently working on a book that has already taken me 8 months and I have another 2 months worth of work, but take into account that I also have a day job right now. So, I work on art in the evenings and on weekends.

Do you go through multiple drafts of your illustrations during the process?

A: YES!!! They start out as little-bitty thumbnails in a rough shape with the final in mind. I do lots of those for each illustration and then I choose what I feel is the best composition. Then I blow it up to half size of the final and do another sketch on top. From there the illustration gets sent to the editor for approval. It sometimes comes back with lots of edits, some edits or NO edits if you are really lucky! A piece can have anywhere from 5 to 10 (sometimes more, on rare occasions for me) changes before it is finalized. Some of those changes little some major compositional changes...

When working on What's Wrong with Mud? what was your average illustration day like?

A: Well, at that time, I was only working on that specific book, so let's say on a Saturday that I dedicated to the book. I would wake up, have some coffee and a snack, go to my art room and get to work. I usually like to divid an illustration up into segments, it helps in making an agenda for the day. So I would say, get all the tracing done by 10:00 a.m., then I would take a short break and play with the dogs, come back and expect to get all my pieces traced onto the right colors. Then lunch. Then I might decide to work on a particular character or the background. I space it out so I don't get overwhelmed or bored with anyone thing.I am working in digital now with the Critter Group book and I divide it up in layers and time.My days are using very different than what a normal illustrator does, only because of the day job. Crossing my fingers that I won't be doing that much longer!

Do you do multiple projects at one time?

A: During What's Wrong with Mud? I did not have multiple projects. But now I do. But I do realize the time constraints I am under and make sure not to take on more than I can handle. That is very important, because I pride myself on meeting deadlines ahead of time if possible, but NEVER late.

What is the best part if illustrating children's books?

A: I love reading a manuscript for the first time and as you read the images just flow, like a movie. Then I re-read it over and over again and take notes about those images I see in my head. The process changes the images here and there until you get to a finalized sketch that goes on to be the finished piece. The evolution of the entire creative process is what makes illustrating picture books so much fun!

Thanks for answering a curious author's questions, Nikki!

You can learn more about Nikki at or

Read below about how you can enter to win a special prize from the illustrator, Nikki Shoemaker.

Thanks for stopping by the What’s Wrong with Mud Virtual Book Tour.

Nikki is giving away 3 themed tote bags and there are 3 ways to enter to win!

  • Copy/paste the book tour schedule onto your blog and leave a comment on Nikki’s blog to let her know that you posted on or before Saturday, July 11.

  • Create your own blog post promoting What’s Wrong with Mud?
    (You can contact Nikki for the Cover image and an interview to post if you want to)

  • Stop by each blog on the Book Tour and leave a comment on each including Nikki’s blog (on or before Saturday, July 11), to let her know to enter you into the drawing.

If you enjoyed the book tour and would like a autographed copy of What’s Wrong with Mud? please email Nikki Shoemaker, for more details.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nikki Shoemaker is My Guest Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, illustrator Nikki Shoemaker is my special blog guest. I recently interviewed her about the life of an illustrator and her new book What's Wrong with Mud?

Don't forget to stop by the other stops on her blog tour!

Sunday, July 5 -- Nikki Shoemaker announcing the book tour
Monday July 6 -- Rena Jones
Tuesday, July 7 -- Crystalee Calderwood and Mandy Hedrick
Wednesday, July 8 -- Wendy Martin and Roberta Baird
Thursday, July 9 -- Linda B. Rodgers and Carli Moua
Friday, July 10 -- Diana Jenkins
Saturday, July 11 -- Nikki Shoemaker wrapping up book tour and announcing winners.

Nikki is giving away 3 themed tote bags and there are 3 ways to enter to win!

1. Copy/paste the book tour schedule onto your blog and leave a comment on Nikki’s blog to let her know that you posted on or before Saturday, July 11.
2. Create your own blog post promoting What’s Wrong with Mud?
(You can contact Nikki for the Cover image and an interview to post if you want to)
3. Stop by each blog on the Book Tour and leave a comment on each including Nikki’s blog (on or before Saturday, July 11), to let her know to enter you into the drawing.

If you enjoyed the book tour and would like a autographed copy of What’s Wrong with Mud? please email Nikki Shoemaker, for more details.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Guest Blog Article by Mayra Calvani

On Inspiration, Allergies, and Dog Books
By Mayra Calvani

One of the questions I’m asked the most on school visits is “Where do you get your ideas?”
Ideas come from all around: TV, magazines, memories, grandmothers’tales, dreams, and even nightmares. In the case of my children’s picture book, Crash! about a little boy and his first golden retriever puppy, I was inspired by a sad personal experience. Years ago, we got a golden retriever puppy, which we named Crash. Crash was a sweet, smart, assertive dog, and he stole our hearts from day One. Unfortunately, he was with us only three weeks. Though we didn’t know it at the time, my daughter, who was only four back then, was allergic to dogs. She fell sick almost immediately with a bronchitis that wouldn’t go away and was quickly turning to pneumonia. The antibioticsweren’t working. Finally, the doctor’s words crushed us: “You have toget rid of your dog.” Believe me, those are horrible words to have to hear. It broke our hearts, but only three weeks after we had got him,we had to give Crash up.

It’s amazing what the loss of a pet can do to you. The one who was struck the hardest was my son, who was about eleven back then. He felt betrayed by all of us, but especially by his sister who in his eyes was the criminal. After all, it was because of her that Crash had to go away. Tears were abundant that first month after we gave him up. To top it all, it was December, Christmas time!

The good side of this story is, we found a wonderful home for Crash. The last I heard about them is that ‘They love him to death’.

Right away we knew we had to do something if we were going to have adog in the future, so we took my daughter to an allergy specialist who put her on a three-year treatment. Three years seemed daunting,especially at that time; but, as you know, time passes quickly and patience pays off. In the end, the treatment worked like a charm and we were able to get another golden retriever puppy. We named him Amigo. Three years old now, he’s our darling, the bell of our hearts. He keeps himself busy chasing the rabbits and interviewing authors for his blog, Pets and Their Authors. You can visit him at

But to get back to inspiration… I wanted to immortalize Crash. Ineeded to ‘let him know’ that we would never forget him—and what better way than with a book? I dedicated the story to my son, the one who was struck the hardest by his departure.

Writing is a form of healing. A book is a very powerful thing. For me,it was the only way to put closure to a heartbreaking experience.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

All about Mayra Calvani's Book Crash!

Crash! A new picture book by Mayra Calvani

As a lover of Golden Retrievers, it is my pleasure to share with you today Crash! a sweet and cute picture book by Mayra Calvani.

The story is about a young boy named Marcelo, who receives a golden retriever puppy for his fifth birthday. He takes excellent care of the puppy; feeding, bathing, brushing and walking him, but he can’t decide on a name for his furry four-legged friend. Mom and Dad offer a few suggestions, however, Marcelo doesn’t like any of them. So he waited and watched, enjoying time with his puppy and then it happened…he would call the puppy….


Tomorrow, author Mayra Calvani will do a special guest blog article about the moving inspiration behind the book.

Pick up your copy at:
Guardian Angel Publishing
Now available in Spanish, too!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Meet Author Mayra Calvani

Multi-genre author, reviewer and animal advocate Mayra Calvani hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico. A regular contributor to Blogcritics Magazine and Suite101, she's a member of SCBWI and Broad Universe. She keeps two blogs, Mayra's Secret Bookcase and The Dark Phantom Review. Additionally, she's the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. Visit her newest, fun blog, Pets and Their Authors, where her golden retriever interviews authors' pets. Mayra does Spanish translations of children's picture books, is co-editor of Voice in the Dark newsletter, and the National Latino Books Examiner for

In 2008, Mayra published her first picture book, Crash! Crash! is the story of a little boy, Marcelo, and his new Golden Retriever puppy. You can watch the book trailer for Crash! at the Crash the Puppy Blog. And stay tuned tomorrow to learn all about the book!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coming Tomorrow- Crash! by Mayra Calvani

Starting tomorrow, I will have three days of information about a great children's book Crash! by Mayra Calvani.

Crash! is the story of an adorable Golden Retriever puppy and his boy, who struggles to give him a name. Until, suddenly, it all becomes obvious. . .

Crash! is a great picture book for dog lovers of all ages. Please stop by to say hi and leave your comments and questions for Mayra!

**VBT - Writers on the Move now has a monthly mystery site give-away feature. During the tours, a lucky commenter on the mystery site will win a book, ebook or other prize from that author. See schedule in previous post. Comment on the right post and you can win!**

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blog of the Week: Dangerous Pages

Dangerous Pages brings you the story behind some of the most commonly banned books in schools across the country. Learn the inside scoop behind bans on books like Alice in Wonderland, The Color Purple, and James and the Giant Peach. . . and The Very Hungry Caterpillar???

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Virtual Book Tour coming July 1st!

Harry Gilleland will be hosting Heather Paye at
Karen Cioffi will be hosting Linda Asato at
Kathy Stemke will be hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson at
Lea Schizas will be hosting Harry Gilleland at
Nancy Famolari will be hosting Helena Harper at
Vivian Zabel will be hosting Crystalee Calderwood at
Margaret Fieland will be hosting Katie Hines at
Crystalee Calderwood will be hosting Mayra Calvani at
Katie Hines will be hosting Dorothy Massey at
Dorothy Massey will be hosting Galye Trent at
Liana Metal will be hosting Anita Yasuda at
Carolyn Howard-Johnson will be hosting Karen Cioffi at
Virginia Grenier will be hosting Kathy Stemke at
Helena Harper will be hosting Marvin Wilson at
Gayle Trent will be hosting Liana Metal at
Mayra Calvani will be hosting Lea Schizas at
Marvin Wilson will be hosting Nancy Famolari at
Anita Yasuda will be hosting Vivian Zabel at
Linda Asato will be hosting Margaret Fieland at
Heather Paye will be hosting Virginia S. Grenier at

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Appearing on Robin Falls Kids Story Time!

On August 5th at 10AM Central, I will be appearing on Robin Falls Kids Story Time on Blog Talk Radio! You can listen in to the program on to hear me talk about the inspirations behind my picture book Angeline Jellybean. It should be a fun and exciting time for all writers involved!

Also, why don't you take some time to support me in the Take Steps for Crohn's Disease and Colitis Walk? You can find out more about Crohn's and Colitis as well as donate at

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

More About Mini Mysteries & Kooky Spookies

Title: Mini Mysteries & Kooky Spookies
Authors: Stephanie Campisi, Calvin Innes, Dorothy Massey, Marcia Nass
Summary: Mini Mysteries & Kooky Spookies is a collection of one dozen mysteries and spooky stories for early readers. The book features six simple everyday mysteries that readers can solve along with six not-so-scary tales of some hauntingly memorable spooks. The three stories written by Dorothy Massey feature the ghost twins Wiggle and Woo.

Available from and (You can also purchase it by clicking on the cover to the right, nestled betweeen Angeline Jellybean and The Art of Science ;-) )

Monday, June 1, 2009

Meet Dorthy Massey

Dorothy Massey is the author of a set of three stories about ghost twins, Wiggle and Woo, published in an anthology by Pinestein Press in Dec 2007 entitled ‘Mini Mysteries and Kooky Spookies’. Dorothy was delighted to be commissioned to write these stories after winning first prize in Pinestein’s ‘Things that go Bump …’ competition with a story comprising a spooky twist on the fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Since then she has won further competitions, with one of her stories being recorded as a podcast by TV presenter Gail Porter to launch a new storytelling character for Munch Bunch products.

Dorothy specialised in teaching literacy and has taught ESL, Adult Basic Skills, Family Learning and Creative Writing. The third edition of her publication for ESL students, ‘Better English’, published by Studymates, has recently been published in India.

She now writes fiction for children from pre-school to Key Stage 2 as well as teaching Creative Writing for Durham County Council’s Education in the Community. Two packs of poetry resources for Key Stage 3 written by Dorothy are awaiting publication with Zig Zag and she has a fantasy novel in progress.

Dorothy lives in Crook, a small ex-mining town in the North East of England and is a member of SSWAG (Seven Stories Writers and Artists Group). For more information about Dorothy and writing for children, visit her blog:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Teenage Angst

You've heard the saying "write what you know," right? I think that's part of the reason why I like to write for teens. I was a teenager not so long ago myself, and I can totally relate to their up and down emotions, struggles and daily life.

I was the kind of girl in high school who was in love with both the captain of the football team and the geeky guy who played trumpet in band. I was an orch dork and overweight and invisible.

I also realize, when I look back at my life now, that I was such a monster to my parents sometimes. Between the ages of 11 and 13 I picked so many fights with my parents simply because I wasn't afraid to express my opinion. I never snuck out late at night, but I was a holey terror when it came to getting my way.

In a way, I still feel like a teenager. I'm not afraid to take chances, I'm independant until I simply can't handle a situation anymore, and I'm still full of insecurities.

"Write what you know" doesn't mean write what you do every day. It's more about what you've felt and seen, dreamed and overheard. We all have a little angst left in us if we dig deep enough, and that's why I think sometimes it's not so hard to find a story within yourself that teens can relate to.

I had an idea today for a book called "Obesity Blues." I think I might start it out as a short story, as it's just a glimmer of something right now. Besides, I can't handle thinking about yet another YA novel at this point. The title just came to me- kind of a play on "Varisty Blues" I think. Anyway, I hope it comes out of me soon.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Art of Science by Ransom Noble

Why did everything have to be working toward the future? At thirteen,
college seemed far away to Janie.

Things You didn't know about The Art of Science and author Ransom Noble:

  • Ransom wrote The Art of Science while taking a class in writing children's novels at the Institute of Children's Literature. It sat in a drawer for five years before she entered the contest at 4RV Publishing. She won the contest and it was published soon after.
  • When Ransom was revising the novel, she deleted a couple of characters. She also changed the title from Janie's Robot to The Art of Science on a suggestion by a friend at
  • Ransom worked two jobs while writing the novel: engineer and yoga teacher.
  • Ransom is the proud mother of "twins." The baby came first. The book followed about a week later.
  • When Ransom was in school, she got her highest art grades in Photography. Chemistry and Physics were her favorite science classes.
  • Ransom played trumpet in high school and now plays piano and is learning the guitar. She would like to start a jam session with a friend similar to the ones Janie enjoys in the book.
  • Ransom has never built a robot.

The Art of Science is Available at and the 4RV Publishing Store

About Ransom Noble:

An early love of reading and the sciences led Ransom into writing and a career in mechanical engineering. Believing determination can help one attain any goal, she constantly sets new goals for herself and encourages others in their quests for knowledge. She can often be found with her husband and their friends listening to music or playing games (every kind).

Her work includes "Qui's Contract,"a short story that appeared in Ruins Metropolis, June 2008 and The Art of Science, April 2009 by 4RV Publishing.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Way Cool! Bess the Book Bus

Bess the Book Bus. I saw this woman on The Early Show yesterday morning and instantly fell in love with Bess the Book Bus. What a selfless thing this woman has done for children. She actually cashed in her 401K to make Bess the Book Bus happen. The Early Show provided her with a brand new bus and 600 books!

I wish there were more things like Bess the Book Bus.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Market: Harlequin Teen

Children's Writer this month featured Harlequin Teen in their Publisher Profile. Harlequin, of course, its known for its romance novels, but Harlequin Teen promises not to be trashy or innapropriate for teens.

The publisher sights Stephenie Meyer's Twighlight, Scott Westerfield's Uglies and Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries as the types of books they are looking for.

According to their website:

We’re looking for commercial, high-concept stories that capture the teen experience and will speak to readers with power and authenticity. All subgenres are welcome, so long as the book delivers a relevant reading experience that will resonate long after the book’s covers are closed. We expect that many of our stories will include a compelling romantic element.

According to Senior Editor Natashya Wilson, they are looking for novels set in "contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and historical world."

You can learn more about Harlequin Teen at their website.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Angeline Jellybean, reviewed by Wayne S. Walker at Stories for Children Magazine

BOOK: Angeline Jellybean
AUTHOR: Crystalee Calderwood
ILLUSTRATOR: Stephen Macquignon
PUBLISHER: 4RV Publishing LLC (2008)
ISBN-13: 978-0-9797513-8-7
ISBN-10: 0-9797513-8-1
READING LEVEL: beginner through 2nd grade
RATING: 5 stars
REVIEWED BY: Wayne S. Walker, reviewer with Stories for Children Magazine

What do you think might happen to a girl who liked and ate nothing but jellybeans? At Easter, Angeline wants only green jellybeans instead of spinach. For an after school snack, she takes orange jellybeans rather than a tangerine. At Halloween, she hopes for yellow jellybeans, not yellow string beans. For Christmas, she asks Santa for red jellybeans and does not appreciate the eighteen apples that he brings. However, for her birthday she receives a huge bag of jellybeans. But when she eats the whole bag, something strange happens. How will she feel? And will she ever come to enjoy any other foods?

What a unique way to help children learn that too much of a good thing can be a bad thing! Crystalee Calderwood's poetic, rhymning text is perfect for beginning readers. They will not only enjoy the fun story but also be able to catch the important message imbedded within it. Illustrator Stephen Macquignon is a frequent contributor to Stories for Children Magazine. Angeline Jellybean combines readable text with attractive illustrations that youngsters will find both captivating and enlightening. And parents will appreciate it too.