Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nancy Famolari coming Monday!

Stay tuned to my blog, starting on Monday, for information about Nancy Famolari and her new book Summer's Story!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Interview with Suzanne Lieurance

Today it is my honor to interview children's writer and writing coach Suzanne Lieurance about her historical middle grade novel The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire.

1.) I’m really fascinated by historical novels. Can you talk a little about the research process for your new book The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire?

Actually, a few years ago I wrote a nonfiction book for Enslow Publishers about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. So I had already done a lot of the research that was needed to write this historical novel based on that same incident. However, once I created a young girl and her family who lived in NYC during the early 1900s, I had to do more research to find out what they would have eaten, how they would have dressed and talked, and exactly where in the city they would probably have lived. And, I had to find out more about Jewish religious practices.
I also wanted to know more about Russian Jewish Immigrants, so I researched that. And, I have a dear friend who is Jewish, and her grandmother came from Russia in the early 1900s, so she was able to give me details that really helped bring my characters to life.

2.) Was 11 year old Galena, the heroine in the novel, based off a real person?

She wasn't based on any ONE real person. But, in the early 1900s there were many Russian Jewish immigrants who were young girls like Galena who worked in the Triangle Shirtwaist factory, so I used information about many of these REAL girls to create Galena and her family.

3.) Have you written any other historical works for children?

A few months ago I finished another historical novel for Enslow Publishers. This one is about a young Japanese-American boy and his family who are sent to one of the Japanese-American Internment Camps during World War II. I think that book is scheduled for release later this year. It was both fun and challenging to write. I found all sorts of information about the Internment Camps, but it was difficult to find specific information I needed so I could create details about the characters that would bring them to life.

4.) What advice do you have for writers out there who may be interested in writing historical fiction?

Try to locate as many primary sources as you can. If you enjoy research, you'll have fun combing through old letters, newspaper clippings, and diaries that you will find for the period you are writing about. To bring the past to life as vividly as possible, try to include plenty of sensory details in your work. Show us what the times looked like, sounded like, smelled like, etc. Also, check your facts very carefull, even though you're creating a fictional character. The places, events, and other people included in your story must be true to the time you writing about.

The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwait Fire is available at

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Introducing Suzanne Lieurance

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime children’s author, freelance writer, and The Working Writer’s Coach. She teaches children’s writing for the Institute of Children’s Literature based in West Redding, Connecticut, and is the founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center.

Lieurance is the author of 20 published books and has written articles for a variety of magazines, newsletters, and ezines like Family-Fun, Kansas City Weddings, Instructor Magazine, New Moon for Girls, Children’s Writer, and many others. She hosts a talk show about children’s books, called Book Bites for Kids, every weekday afternoon on
Lieurance offers a variety of coaching programs via private phone calls, teleclasses, listserv, and private email for writers who want to turn their love of writing (for children and/or adults) into a part-time or full-time career.

Her new historical novel is The Locket: Surviving the Triangle Shirtwaste Fire

Galena, an eleven-year-old Russian-Jewish immigrant, lives in New York City with her family and works at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory with her older sister Anya. The factory pays low wages and has terrible working conditions, making Anya yearn to join a union. Soon a horrible fire guts the factory leaving Galena with painful, horrific memories. Follow author Suzanne Lieurance in this dramatic historical fiction novel, as she describes how Galena uses the support of friends, family, and Jewish traditions to inspire her to fight for workers rights.

Contact info:

Websites -

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Upcoming Blog Tours

Check out these writers' blogs for more information, starting January 16th

Deborah Ramos hosting Margaret Fieland
Dianne Sagan hosting Ransom Noble
Harry Gilleland hosting Crystalee Calderwood
Joy Delgado hosting Elysabeth Eldering
Karen Cioffi hostingJoyce Anthony
Kathy Stemke hosting Deborah Ramos
Lea Schizas hosting Dianne Sagan
Nancy Famolari hosting Harry Gilleland
Suzanne Lieurance hosting Joy Delgado
Vivian Zabel hosting Karen Cioffi
Dehanna Bailee hosting Kathy Stemke
Margaret Fieland hosting Lea Schizas
Ransom Noble hosting Nancy Famolari
Crystalee Calderwood hosting Suzanne Lieurance
Elysabeth Eldering hosting Vivian Zabel
Joyce Anthony hosting Dehanna Bailee

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Highlights Foundation Offers Workshop in School Promotion

If you have the money, here is something that may be interesting to many of you.

This March, the Highlights Foundation is proud to present Life in the Spotlight: The Path to Successful School and Library Visits, Self-Promotion, and Press Interviews with Peter Jacobi.

Highlights Foundation promises to acquire "publicity techniques needed to promote your books, gain practice in public speaking and presentation skills, and participate in a real-life school experience" under the guidance of award-winning journalist Peter Jacobi.

The event takes place on March 10–15, 2009. For more information, see

Monday, January 12, 2009

If a tree falls in the forest..

and no one is there to see it, does it really fall?

If you're writing a blog but not promoting it, and therefore no one is reading it, does it really exist?

And if people are reading, but not commenting, how are you supposed to know that they've found your forest?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I have been told that I write 17 year old characters rather well. For some reason, I tend to make my teenage main characters 17/18 years old, usually seniors in high school. I confess that I enjoy writing about that age the most. I feel as if I can get into a teenager's head more successfully than someone even a couple of years younger.

I find this an odd phenomenon because I have surpressed so much about that period in my life. I don't care to remember all the nasty details of my senior prom (where my friend's boyfriend danced with, and hit on, everyone but her) or what I wore when I went to homecoming by myelf. I have pretty much forgotten the details of high school. However, I realized recently, I've never forgotten those feelings. In fact, I still experience the utter confusion, the disorientation, and the seclusion of my teenage years on a regular basis. The difference is, I know how to handle them now. So, I guess that's why I can tap into the teenager's mind so well. I use things I have observed or heard about or can imagine as the premise of my stories, but the emotions that I put down on the paper, in one way or another, are all mine.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Location, Location, Location

Have you ever noticed that we are more productive as writers in different environments?

In my former apartment, I couldn't write anywhere but at the desk in my office. I have a laptop, so in theory I can write anywhere, but I just couldn't get myself in the zone in my bedroom, livingroom, or anywhere else.

I don't seem to have that problem in my new place. I actually spend most of my writing time on my bed.

Right now, I'm in a coffee shop with bright, colorful coffee-drinking goats painted on the walls and a variety of crazy music blasting from the speakers. I have found this placethe perfect locaation to work on my YA novel and blog.

Where do you write most effectively?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Words of Encouragement

Please join me in congratulating my friend Laurie Peters for sending her very first picture book out into the world! Good luck with your submission!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Plug Your Book!

I'm reading a very interesting book called Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors by Steve Weber. This book is probably the most comprehensive guide to online book promotion I have ever seen. It covers everything from blogging and blog tours to why Bestseller Campaigns on Amazon may be a bad idea. I urge everyone doing any kind of self promotion for their books to check it out. I've already learned a thing or two and I hope to expand my online presence because of this book.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Last day of Angeline Jellybean blog tour :-(

Today I would like to say thank you to all my friends and colleagues who took time out of their busy lives to host the blog tour for my book Angeline Jellybean! From favorite jellybean flavors to how the book got written, we sure covered a lot of material this week! I’ve received a lot of great reviews and feedback on my book. I’ve even met a few new authors. Can you believe that I actually came in contact with a children’s writer from my hometown of Altoona?

One of the things I love so much about blogging is that I get to interact with other writers all over the world. I network without boundaries, and I make some good friends in the process. To me, being an author isn’t about solitary confinement; it’s about having the entire world at your fingertips.

I’ve learned so much from all of you, and I hope you’ve learned from me as well. I look forward to continuing relationships with my fellow writers.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Q&A with Margaret Fieland

Q: Tell us about what you write.

A: I'm a professional Computer Software engineer – BA in mathematics, MS in computer science, and it never even occurred to me to be a writer. That said, I've written poetry as far back as I can remember – somehow that didn't “count” -- but not with publication in mind and not with any level of dedication. At present, I'm writing nonfiction ( a monthly column for an ezine, FemmeVip – poetry and stories, especially children's stories. I sort of fell into writing for publication. I'm far from the best organized person going, so though I wrote tons of poetry, I didn't keep it organized in any way. Finally, I wrote a poem I wanted to keep – and wanted to, and did, see published – so I looked around for a way to organize that I could cope with. Since I'm a computer professional, I used more than one computer – and also I'm paranoid about backup – so I put the online. At first I had them in my Yahoo briefcase. Later I switched to Google documents, which I like much better.

Q: Do you have a favorite thing that you’ve ever written?

A: I have a couple of poems that hold a special place in my heart. One is “Booze,” the poem that got me started getting organized. I also have an unpublished story, “Sherwood,” that's making the rounds that I'm very fond of, and my chapter book, “The Ugly Little Boy.”

Q:Do you have a favorite character that you write about? If so, who is it, whatmakes it your favorite and tell us about the character.

A:My current favorite character is a little girl, Heather. I originally wrote a silly piece about my kids and some of the stuff they'd done – sort of flash fiction/prose poetry, and the characters were Which, Why, and Whether. The focus was on Why. The characters were modeled after my sons, now grown. Then I decided I needed to expand the thing and wanted real names, so the first two ended up as “Mitch” and “Wyatt.” I tried to come up with a boy's version of “Whether,” but I kept coming back to “Heather.” I've written some stories about the characters, and plan to do more, perhaps a chapter book, and, well, Heather took over {grin} and she ended up being the focus of the stories. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with Heather and her brothers, but she's on my list of things to do in 2009.

Q: Almost every writer is inspired by someone else. Does anyone inspire you?

A: Lewis Carroll. My all time favorite book is “Alice in Wonderland,” which I reread every exam time when I was in college, as I made it a habit to avoid the library during exams.

Q:How long have you been writing?

A: I've been writing poetry since my teens, but only with publication in mind for the past three or four years. As a story writer I'm pretty much of a novice, as I only started writing stories after I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson after the first Muse online writer's conference three years ago and joined her writing forums. I'm 62 now, so that's a lot of years of writing.

Q: What made you want to start writing?

A: Good question – I started and became addicted. I really love writing. I wrote a poem as a thank you for an instructor in an online course I just finished and I realized when I'd finished just how much I just plain enjoy writing poetry. Besides, if I don't write it down it stays stuck in my head.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: Like many teens, I started writing (bad) poetry in my teens as an outlet for my teenage angst. Then later on I started writing poetry for the people I was dating, and after that for family birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, -- basically everything.

Q: What's the strangest thing you've ever written? Why?

A: I don't think anything I write is strange {looks innocently up at ceiling}. I have written several surreal poems, and I have one I really like called “Machine A Ecrire” (French for typewriter), unpublished, in the shape of a typewriter. The sentences are “variations” on the stuff they had us all typing when we were in school.

Q: Some authors have said that their parents were supportive of their efforts whenyoung, and some have said they had to sneak around and hide. What was the case with you?

A: When I was young I was studying music, not writing – I play the flute and the piccolo. My mother was an artist and while she was supportive of my music, her advice was “Always be able to support yourself,” so for that and other reasons I didn't become a professional musician.

Q: Who proofreads and critiques your work?

A: I belong to a couple of (online) critique groups, and I'm going to start looking a writing partner, as my last one had to quit for family reasons.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

A: Darned if I know. Some of the poetry is “inspired,” some is in response to exercises or prompts I dig up – lots of places.

Q: Where do you write?

A: Wherever I happen to be. I have pads and pens everywhere. I even write in the car. At home, my favorite spot is the dining room table.

Q: When do you write – set times or as the mood moves you?

A: Since I have a full time job, whenever the spirit moves me, and I have (or can make) the time. The nice thing about poetry is that a lot of it is short and taking a couple of minutes to jot down poetry is pretty easy to do. Waiting for appointments is a favorite time to write.

Q: If you could take a character from someone else's book on a date, who wouldit be and where would you take him/her/it?

A: Oh, good question. Some of the characters from Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series come to mind. If I could take them anywhere, I think I'd opt for the San Diego Museum of Science (as opposed to the one here in Boston). I was there once for a conference and fell in love with the place.

Q: If you could invite any other writer to dinner who would ask and why?

A: Lewis Carroll, because I have a soft spot for his poetry, or James M. Barrie, because my favorite book as a kid was Peter Pan.

Q: Do you use the Internet to check facts, or the library?

A: Are you kidding? The internet. I'm an online kind of gal. My favorite resource is , which has an online dictionary and thesaurus. I make heavy use of the thesaurus when writing poetry, even rhymed poetry. Though I do occasionally resort to a rhyming dictionary, I usually generate the rhymes myself.

Q: When you're not writing, what do you like to do?

A: Read, listen to music, play my flute and my piccolo, walk our dogs, do crossword puzzles.

Q: Do you ever have a problem with writer's block?

A: Not so far, thank goodness {pauses to knock wood}.

Q: Who's your favorite author (other than yourself)? Why?

A: My favorite author for a long time was Robert Heinlein. I am a 'way back sci fi fan. I picked out his “Farmer in the Sky” as my tenth birthday present.

Q: What's your favorite book (other than one of your own)? Why?

A: Alice in Wonderland, which I reread every exam time in college.

Q: What's the last book, other than your own, that you read and really enjoyed?

A: I just started reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, about a mountaineer who ends up building schools in Pakistan after the inhabitants of a small mountain village save his life.

Q: Some writers say that they have to write a certain amount of words every day.Do you do this? Why or why not?

A: No – it feels counterproductive to me. The stuff I write isn't long to begin with. I do try to do something every day – write, revise, submit, critique – but I don't hold myself to a certain number of words.

Q: If you could be any character (other than one of your own) from a book or moviewho would it be? Why?

A:I think I'd like to be Magdalene Lorne from Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books. I think she's really neat.

Q: Why did you start writing?

A: I started writing poetry to express teenage angst, and continued for much the same reason. Then I started writing more because it turned my partner on. Then I started writing yet more because it was something special to do for holidays and family birthdays. Then I submitted a poem of mine to a poetry contest on a whim, and it was one of four finalists. So then I felt validated and started working on my poetry and submitting it for publication. I joined online groups, got books on writing poetry and worked through them, started reading more poetry, etc. I like seeing my name in print -- it's a turn-on -- but at bottom, I just plain enjoy writing poetry. Occasionally I am touched by the muse. Then, too, it's a nice, portable occupation, and it's nothing like my day job (computer software engineer), so it's a welcome relief to struggle with a poem or a story instead of why a particular section of code is or isn't working. I also write to get stuff out of my head, where it would otherwise be stuck.

Q: What do you write?

A: I write poetry, stories, and articles. I started writing stories after the first Muse On Writing conference, where I hooked up with Linda Barnett Johnson. I write both rhymed poetry and free verse. I'm 62 and my day job is a computer software engineer {grin}. I have three sons. The youngest is a senior in college, the next one is in the army, and the oldest is computer software engineer. The middle one is the only one who has any writing talent or musical ability. I live with my partner, who has a son (in college, living at home ATM) and a daughter. We have lots of dogs.

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

A: Poetry, of course. I'm trying to put together a couple of chapbooks, and a chapter book for 7-9 year olds, The Ugly Little Boy. This book does have significant meaning for me. Many years ago now, friends lost their lives in a fire. Mother and all four children died, leaving the father, who was never the same. Partly I'm writing TULB to make things come out differently. I can't change what happened, but in my story, there's only one child (all I can handle as a writer), and only the mother dies. I'm working on the rewrite and passing the chapters through my critique group. I'm working on the chapbooks party because it's nice to have a goal, and partly because it's something to do, and partly because it would be a tremendous ego boost to actually see one of them in print.

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: I play music (the flute and the piccolo). Up until a year ago, when the late nights got to be a bit much for me, I was a member of a band. I have a strong inner need to create.

Contact Margaret Fieland:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Meet Poet and Writer Margaret Fieland

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life. Daughter of a painter, she is the mother of three grown sons and an accomplished flute and piccolo player. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein's “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. She lives in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and seven dogs. Her poems, articles and stories have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Main Channel Voices, Echolocation, and Twisted Tongue. In spite of making her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to format the initial version of her website, a clear illustration of the computer generation gap. You may visit her website,

Stay tuned for an interview with Margaret Fieland.