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.

Win 9 Books from Presenting Lenore!

Over at Presenting Lenore, Lenore is giving a way a special prize pack of 9 unpcoming Penguin YA novels. Check out her blog to learn how you can enter!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Upcoming Virtual Book Tours

The Members of VBT: Writers on the Move invite you to follow their next blog tour, to begin June 1st!

The schedule is as follows:

Harry Gilleland hosting Linda Asato at

Karen Cioffi hosting Carolyn Howard-Johnson at

Kathy Stemke hosting Liana Metal at

Lea Schizas hosting Helena Harper at

Nancy Famolari hosting Crystalee Calderwood at

Vivian Zabel hosting Joyce Anthony at

Margaret Fieland hosting Mayra Calvani at

Crystalee Calderwood hosting Dorothy Massey at

Joyce Anthony hosting Marvin Wilson at

Dorothy Massey hosting Anita Yasuda at

Liana Metal hosting Harry Gilleland at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson hosting Kathy Stemke at

Virginia Grenier hosting Karen Cioffi at

Helena Harper hosting Gayle Trent at

Gayle Trent hosting Lea Schizas at

Mayra Calvani hosting Nancy Famolari at

Marvin Wilson hosting Vivian Zabel at

Anita Yasuda hosting Margaret Fieland at

Linda Asato hosting Virginia S. Grenier at

Monday, May 18, 2009

The School Library Journal's Top 100 Picture Books.

The School Library Journal has announced its Top 100 Picture Book list, as voted on by a poll on their blog.

The Top 10 books include:

#1: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (1963)
#2: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (1947)
#3: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (1979)
#4: The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962)
#5: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (2003)
#6: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (1941)
#7: Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson (1955)
#8: Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (1939)
#9: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag (1928)
#10: Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (2004)

To see a complete list visit The School Library Journal and stay tuned for my own Top 10 Picture Books of All Time!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Schedule for The Art of Science Blog Tour

Beginning May 20, learn more about The Art of Science! The blog tour will show more about the book and probably a bit more about the author.

May 20 – Vivian Zabel at Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap
May 21 – Jamie Eyberg at A Continuity of Parks
May 22 – Shanachie at Ramblings of a Confusted Writer’s Mind and Quill, Parchment, and Ink – Writings and Ramblings
May 23 – Karen at Sharing with Writers and Readers
May 24 – Nancy Famolari at Nancy Famolari’s Place
May 25 – Crystalee Calderwood at Crystalee Calderwood, Writer and Poet

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Art of Science Blog Tour

The Art of Science blog tour will be stopping by here on May 25th!

The Art of Science is a YA written by my good friend Ransom Noble.

Check back soon for more information on the book and a complete agenda of the tour!

Friday, May 8, 2009


NaPiBoWriWee went POOF! up in smoke, and all I have to show for it is one completed manuscript, one mostly completed manuscript, and one barely started manuscript.

But I'm not feeling too discouraged. Not yet. It was a rough week, so of course I wasn't able to work under the extra pressure. Getting sick didn't help matters either. BUT I do have one decent book that just needs reworking and one book that I think could turn into something great with a lot of time and effort. And that's two more books than I had when I started.

Some people who don't write picture books don't realize how hard they can be to write. Some of us who do write them do silly things like trying to write seven in one week because we know if we can do it then we'll be better than all of those people who didn't...

But what about doing it for yourself? For doing it because you'll feel good about having started seven or six or five new picture books? Shouldn't we be more concerned with how we're improving our craft than how we measure up to everyone else?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

NaPiBoWriWee- We're all struggling!

It's a relief to see that my friends are struggling through NaPiBoWriWee, not just me. It's already 6PM and I have no idea what to write about today. Yesterday's book is about half done (in my defense, it's a tough concept book and I don't know if it will be truly done for some time).

Today I passed out water cups at the Pittsburgh Marathon and when I came home, I collapsed in bed. The work of an AmeriCorps member is never done.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

New Website!

I've been busy designing my new website. I think the new look is cleaner and simplier than the old one.

You can view it at . It still needs some minor tweaking (and you may notice the navigation bar doesn't appear on the pages. It works, there's just no graphics) so look for changes in the coming days.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Day 1 of NaPiBoWriWee

I've managed to punch out a draft of a short picture book called "Peggy, Not Piggy!" today. I'm so excited because I think this book will be a good one with some TLC.

I also have an idea for tomorrow's book (and all day to do it!) but I need to do a bit of research first.

Good luck to all of you doing NaPiBoWriWee!

Introducing Fiona Ingram


“My story-telling career began at age ten!”

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialised tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favourites in the cast of characters.

Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist and editor for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author is already immersed in the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure.

Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

After winning the Emma Smith Scholarship to finance her university studies, Fiona Ingram graduated from the University of Natal, Durban with a double first in her B.A. (French & Drama). She won a Human Sciences Research Council Bursary, which enabled her to do her Honours in Drama at Natal. Fiona then went to the University of the Witwatersrand to do her Masters in French-African literature (the impact of colonial language and culture upon the development of African theatre and literary forms), a subject which has interested her greatly. Fiona applied for and won the Emma Smith Overseas Scholarship for further study. She studied drama at The Drama Studio in London and mime at L’Ecole Jacques le Coq in Paris. Upon her return to South Africa, Fiona immersed herself in teaching drama at community centres, and became involved in producing community and grassroots theatre with local playwrights and performers in Natal for several years. A move to Johannesburg took her in a new direction—that of journalism. She has written freelance for the last fifteen years.