Saturday, November 30, 2013

Get Your Grammar Groove

 The Picture Book Academy is running a “groovy” contest in celebration of a new course they're offering called Get Your Grammar Groove with Miranda Paul!  They decided to create this fun contest to give everyone the opportunity to win great prizes while learning about good grammar. The bonus is, as quoted from their web site, "Everyone who enters is a winner, as we will have extra-special discounted Grammar Groove courses available if you give it a try!"

 You can join the contest here.
So everyday I'm discovering grammar errors on social media, in the newspapers, in store ads, and on signage. This morning during my run I was listening to music and it occurred to me that so many song lyrics include poor grammar. I've chosen two songs from my running playlist to highlight for today's poor grammar entries.
The song "Run to You" includes these lyrics:
"But that’d change if she ever found out about you and I.”
Correct grammar would change the lyrics to:
"But that’d change if she ever found out about you and me.”

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
"(I Can't Get Any) Satisfaction"

I know there are dozens and dozens more. Feel free to add some of your favorite lyrics or song titles to the list. And while we're on the subject of songs here's a little rhyme I wrote to help you remember:

Don't write it wrong
The titles of songs
Are always referred to in quotes.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Thanksgiving Day Football

Library Edition ISBN: 978-0-7660-4120-2
Paperback Edition ISBN: 978-1464401780
E-book also available!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blog Hop

Welcome to Blog Hop! What’s a Blog Hop? It's where children's book authors answer identical questions and then invite others authors to join in.

Nancy Viau tagged me, so you get to read her bio first. Be sure to visit her web site to learn more about her wonderful books. Then you can check out my answers to the Blog Hop questions below. And finally, find out who the three authors are that I tagged. Enjoy the hop!

NANCY VIAU is the author of two nature-inspired picture books: Look What I Can Do!, which School Library Journal calls "wonderfully expressive" and "a gently affirming tale perfect for parent-and-child sharing," and Storm Song, a fun read-aloud filled with rhythmic text that captures the excitement of thunder, lightning, and rain. Viau is also the author of the middle-grade novel Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. She lives with her family in New Jersey, but loves to travel anywhere her frequent flyer miles take her. You can follow Nancy at

Now here are my answers to the Blog Hop questions:

What are you working on now?
It's PiBoIdMo (Picture Books Idea Month) which means I'll be brainstorming at least one new picture book idea a day for the month of November. I'm also working on resolving a problem I'm having with a particularly pesky princess that's really giving me a hard time.
How does it differ from other works in the genre?
I can't tell you how it differs from other works in this genre because I don't want to give my idea away but let's just say the proof is in the princess.
Why do you do what you do?
 Because I'm obsessed with writing for children and if I don't write I'm just not myself. It's also a great way to give all of those voices in my head something constructive to do.
What is the hardest part about writing?
The hardest part about writing is figuring out how to turn an idea into a great story for children. Many people assume it's easy but it's really not. I'm very particular about what I write and how it can make a positive impact on my readers. Children's authors have important jobs to do.

Now, I get to tag a few more authors. Please read their bios below and take a minute to HOP over to their blogs!
Lyn Sirota is a writer and has published almost nineteen books and many articles and poems for children of all ages. She is an active member of her local and national Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and an active council member of the Rutgers University Council of Children's Literature. She is a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature and resides in New Jersey with her husband, children and three furry rescues. You can find Lyn online at: Hop on over to her blog:
Vikk Simmons has a traveler's soul and an explorer's spirit and the two feed her main habits: reading and writing. A confirmed dog lover, she shares her life with 7 dogs (and 2 cats). In addition to several blogs, her published works includes 3  Texas travel books, 2 teen novels, and online writing for MSN City Guides, Expedia, Blogcritics, and Squidoo. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College and is a certified journal instructor. Vikk's writing has led to local radio and television appearances, and writer conferences and workshops. She's also taught writing for a local college. Fully socialized, you can find her online at Facebook, Twitter, G+, and Pinterest. For writing, visit Down the Writer's Path. For all things dog, visit A Life with Dogs.

Naomi Gruer writes picture and chapter books.  She has published a column for Hometown Quarterly under the tagline "Mission Mompossible" and many free-lance articles.  Bmore Energy, her lifestyle blog, is a place where she can share all of her interests.  She also assists at a pre-school and teaches After School Enrichment classes at an elementary school.  When she's not writing, you might find Naomi taking pictures (outdoors), baking (something chocolate), throwing (ceramic pots) or running (with her dog).  Oh, and she has triplets plus one more! You can enjoy reading her blog, Bmore Energy here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thanksgiving Place Cards Using Riddles and librarians have been commenting that they enjoy learning new ways to use my joke books in their classrooms. I've even showed them  how they can be used with the Common Core State Standards and ways to group them with other fiction and nonfiction books. Now I'm also including this fun craft for Thanksgiving. I've taken a riddle from my Corny Thanksgiving Jokes to Tickle Your Funny Bone book and created a Thanksgiving place card using my computer, card stock, colored paper, and glue. Wouldn't these be fun and look festive around the Thanksgiving table? Guests can take turns reading their riddle and having everyone try to guess the answer which is revealed inside the place card.

Glue or write a Thanksgiving riddle on the outside of the place card.
The answer to the riddle is glued or written on the inside of the place card.

Friday, November 1, 2013

5th Annual Picture Book Idea Month

So November is an important month of picture book writers. Why? Because we have the opportunity to participate in PiBoIdMo which is short for Picture Book Idea Month. That's right, picture book ideas have their own month! During the month of November participants vow to come up with at least one new picture book idea each day for an entire month. No excuses. No complaining. And yes, Thanksgiving Day is included.

I've decided I'm going to be ambitious this year since at the current time I'm a full-time writer which I was never able to say before. Therefore, I should have more time to write, right? So, in addition to coming up with at least one idea a day, at the end of each week I'm going to look over my new ideas and choose at least one and work on making it more than just an idea. Not all ideas are good and not all ideas are worthy of a great picture book so this is going to help me weed out some of the not-so-great ideas and focus on the ones with more potential.

Although PiBoIdMo officially kicks off today, it's not too late to register for PiBoIdMo 2013. You have until November 8th. There are inspiring guest blog posts every day and great prizes for those who successfully complete the challenge.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Throw-Back Thursday

I include this photo of me from my first dance recital in my author presentations. I do this for several reasons. One very important reason is that dance, like writing, is a passion of mine. I explain to students that I include my passion for dance in many of my fiction stories. Sometimes it is the
theme of my story or sometimes it's just the use of a dance term or the mention of a tutu or a pair tap shoes.

Dance is a part of who I am. I encourage students to think about what they have a passion for and how they can include their passion in their writing. Another reason I like to show this photo is that there are usually students who are dancers themselves in the audience. Sometimes they have a brother, sister, or a friend who dances. I like to make them feel like we have something in common. I think it helps them feel connected to me. It's important to remind them that I was a child once, just like them and that they too can become authors just like me.

After a recent school visit a student approached me and asked if I always dreamed of being an author when I grew up. No one had ever asked me that question before. After a brief pause, I was honest.  I explained to her although I loved to read and write when I was growing up, I never dreamed of being an author. I wanted to be a dance teacher. That dream came true. I told her that your dreams (because I believe you should have more than one) might change throughout your life and that I didn't dream of becoming an author until I had children of my own.

My dream now? It is that both my dancing and writing will teach, inspire, and touch children in some way just as each child teaches, inspires, and touches me.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

On My Author Plate This Week

I spend most of my early mornings on Sundays doing paperwork to help clear my desk for the week ahead. Sunday evening I usually look at what's on my author's plate for the upcoming week and create a list. It's the only way I get some sleep. I thought I'd share this week's list.I wondered if people might be surprised as to what authors do besides write books!

My week will start with trip to the public library to pick up research books for my next military book due in two weeks. I'll reserve any books that might need to be transferred from another library and purchase any used books I can find online. Since I have a pretty busy week, I'll spend most of my time researching and organizing my information. I'll probably start doing the actual writing over the weekend.

SHRED! I don't throw much out in the way of bad ideas but I recently cleaned out a file that was stored in my attic. Much of it was 13 years old and filled with some VERY BAD ideas. Those will get shredded to make room for some better ideas! While I was shredding these I was apologizing in my head to all of the poor editors or their assistants who had read these. Sorry!

Write two proposals for author events.
Submit one picture book manuscript (And remember not to go to the post office at 5p.m. when they close at 4:30 or on Friday during the one hour they are closed for lunch.)
Add more content to new web site I'm creating.
Rate and review one picture book to post to Amazon and Goodreads.

Then if time allows, there's these receipts for my author expenses that have been piling up since January. There has only been one year that I was successful in putting them into a spreadsheet at the end of each month. I figure if I can get this batch taken care of over the summer I'll be ahead of the game before the new school year starts. My accountant is impressed that I even have an spreadsheet to send him.

Reading for enjoyment will most likely take place on exercise equipment or during lunch this week.

And of course, like every working dog, there will be a reward for all tasks completed in a timely matter!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Discipline. It can be problem.

So, I started off the new year with no specific goals. Write more, read more doesn't count. Those are just assumed. I thought I should start blogging more which wouldn't be hard to do since I hadn't blogged much at all over the last year.
 I did feel like I was ready to commit to a regular writing schedule. Since my life seemed to becoming more "regular"  I thought I would create a schedule at the beginning of each week based on what was going on (sale) that particular week. I would write it down on my calendar (after reviewing all the sales flyers.)
I was feeling like I finally had the opportunity to be more disciplined about my writing (and shopping.) So, there it was...more discipline in 2013. The next night (before I left for the mall) I chose a fortune cookie from the Chinese food bag, cracked it open and this is what it said:

Do you ever feel like someone is trying to send you a message? This one was shouting at me loud and clear. This is how I saw the message from the writing Gods:

discipline + talent = ability
This is how I saw the message from the shopping Gods:
discipline + sales = shoes
I headed to the mall to use some birthday coupons from my favorite retailers. I used discipline by not allowing myself to buy the boots at full price. I waited for the sale and got 40% off plus an additional 40% clearance and used my $15 birthday coupon. I bought $98 rain boots for a mere $20.28!  Using discipline, I went home, put my new rain boots on, sat down at my desk and wrote a blog post and my writing schedule for the week. Isn't shopping discipline great?