Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Santa's Boots Are Missing

Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her 5th Annual Holiday Contest. Here is my entry for this year's contest. I originally wrote a version of this for my dance students.
Image result for santa claus reindeer
(199 words)

Santa searched around the Christmas tree

at the North Pole Lost and Found.

“Missing boots will be a problem

when I’m sledding town to town.”


The elves began to whisper

and what Santa didn’t know,

is that they hid his worn-out boots

under icy drifts of snow.


The soles had long been tattered.

The buckles both were torn.

“Try these,” the elves suggested,

“that Dancer’s never worn.”


“Tap shoes?” Santa snickered.

“Why these will never do.

You know what you have chosen

is by far the loudest shoe.”


“The parents all will hear me.

The children will awake.

The dogs will bark and howl.

This is clearly a mistake.”


Jolly Santa gave a chuckle

and shook his finger in the air,

“Christmas Eve is soon approaching.

You must find quieter pair.”


The elves arranged a meeting.

Dancer knew just what to do.

“There’s only one solution.

I will teach him the “Soft Shoe.”


Santa’s eyes began to glisten

as he danced across the snow.

“If I knew that tap was this much fun

I’d have done it years ago.”


The elves and reindeer gathered

as Santa shuffled to his sled,

the reindeer stood in silence

while Santa “hoofed” instead.

Image result for happy holidays clip art

Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her web site.

Copyright 2015 Linda Bozzo

Thursday, December 3, 2015

From Madeleine L'Engle's Brain to Mine

I love reading about other authors and their journeys. A few months ago I came across this article about Madeleine L'Engle and how although she published five novels since her mid-twenties, on her 40th birthday she found herself having trouble selling her work and received a rejection. One minute she was sobbing and vowing to abandon her typewriter only to turn around moments later and want to write another book about failure. She said she could never stop writing even if she never had another work published.

After reading this I wondered if it was possible that Madeleine's feelings were sucked from her brain and injected right into mine. No matter how many times I've threatened to quit writing, I couldn't. I can't. I start to laugh at myself when these thoughts start weaseling their way into my head. Why? Because, like Madeleine, within minutes I'm writing again. I try calling my writing friends, my support group. By the time they answer phone so I can announce with all the dramatics that I'm quitting writing, I've already started writing again.

Imagine, if on that day, Madeleine really covered her typewriter permanently. A Wrinkle in Time would never have been born. The manuscript had been turned down numerous times. I learned that it took two and a half years after the book's inception for it to be published. And as you can imagine I'm sure that more than just one editor who turned down the manuscript was crying when the book won the most prestigious honors in children's literature, the John Newbery Medal.

The other part of the article that really hit home for me was Madeleine being brutally honest about her guilt over spending so much time writing and not being able to pull her own weight financially. I'm still working on striking a balance between writing and everything else. And believe me there's a lot of everything else.When I'm writing I can feel guilty about not cleaning or spending time with friends or family. This is especially true when the writing I'm doing isn't resulting in any financial gains because much of what I write doesn't. On the other hand, when I'm cleaning the house or spending time with friends and family I can feel guilty about not meeting those writing goals I set for the week, month, or year.

So while the actual act of writing a great story and finding a publisher to publish it can be a struggle, the mental part of writing can be a real challenge and make us question ourselves. Thank goodness for those days when during a school visit a child says something to you that makes you tear up or you receive an email from one of your readers. Those are the moments I assure myself, "This is what I was meant to do," and whether I'm pulling my weight financially or not, doesn't matter because my heart is full even when my pockets may be empty.


Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library markets. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Copyright 2015 Linda Bozzo

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Shredding the Old to Make Room for the New

This weekend the shredder was my friend. I cleaned out old manuscript files, job search files, and files that I no longer need after deleting a certain online account. I filled two bags with shredded paper. I felt like I needed space both mentally and physically (old manuscript files), needed to close a chapter (job search files), and make room for other work I enjoy doing more (closed account). 
My goal was to create space for things that I enjoy working on most. Like a garden that needs weeding so more beautiful things can grow, my office needed weeding. No matter how hard you try an author's space is filled with LOTS of paper.

I also just wrapped up a project so it's time to choose a new one to work on. Some people have trouble coming  up with an idea for a new project . . . I'm not one of them. I have files filled with ideas and half-baked manuscripts. For me it's about which three or four ideas are speaking to me the loudest. "Pick me!" "Choose me!" "It's my turn!" I usually think about them for a few days while I catch up on other tasks that I've neglected like updating my web site or shredding papers.

 When I've finally decided which one I'm going to choose (the purple one of course) it feels like I'm opening a present and although I have an idea of what might be waiting for me inside, I know that I must be ready to expect the unexpected once I start to unwrap it. It's exciting and exhilarating and I look forward to spending sleepless nights with new characters whirling around my inside my head.

My favorite part of being an author is going to bed at night, usually completely exhausted, and being so excited about waking up the next morning like I'm going on that long-awaited class trip but instead I'm continuing on a never-ending journey of creating books for children.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-six!


I Completed the Challenge!

There are a lot of words that begin with the letter "Z" but for my final A to Z post I'm blogging about ZZZZZZZ because I'm off to sleep. Tomorrow starts bright and early with a flight to Austin, TX where I'll be participating in the Complete Children's Picture Book Workshop at the Writing Barn.

There is always something new to learn and I look forward to meeting new people who are as passionate as me about
what they do.


Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Y = Year

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-five

For authors who do school visits, there is a calendar year and a school year. This school year I had the opportunity to visit many wonderful schools and meet some fabulous principals, media specialists, and most importantly those parents who volunteer their time. It was a difficult task scheduling school visits around PARCC testing in March which is typically my busiest time of the year for visits and I only had to reschedule two visits due to the snow. Now it's time to hang my book dress up in the back of my closet until September. As my school year ends my calendar year has just begun.

 Since my school visits are complete for  this school year, I treasure the extra time to write. It's also that time of the year when the weather turns beautiful and you want to spend time outdoors. But this early in the calendar year is when I nurture all those ideas and seeds I planted during the winter months. 2015 started without a list of writing any goals, which is something new for me. Instead I made one goal for the entire year. That was to spend time each day to help advance my writing career. So far, this has helped in making this year a productive one. I look forward to seeing what the rest of this year brings!


Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X = Xylophone

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-four


Because I'm using the children's dictionary for my A to Z challenge I have a choice of only four words: Xerox, Xmas, Xray, and Xylophone. Now that presents a challenge!

I chose xylophone because it's a musical instrument with bars of different lengths that are struck to give different notes. Writing often reminds me of music.

There are so many books out there on the same subject, theme, or story yet depending on how the author strikes their words they can create something new. Like the xylophone combines different notes, authors can combine words and sentences of different lengths in a unique way. Each author brings their own rhythm and style to make their story sing.

Imagine a xylophone next time you're writing and try to combine your words in new and exciting ways to make your story sound like music to your reader's ears.


Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.


Monday, April 27, 2015

W = Write-In

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-three


If the weather is bad or schedules just don't jive, your critique group might want to try a write-in. My group did several of these this past winter. What is a write-in? You basically don't go out, you write in.

First, we decide on a two or three hour window that everyone is available. Then we agree to start at a certain time, let's say 9 a.m. for example. We check in at 9 a.m. via email and begin writing for one hour. At 10:00 a.m. we check in with each again via email. At this point, we either exchange what we worked on via email or we share it in Google Docs. We spend the next 30 minutes or so critiquing each other's work with general comments, this takes us to around 10:30 a.m. Then we write for another hour based on the feedback we received from each other. At 11:30 we stop again and share our works in progress. Then if time allows we spend another 30 minutes commenting.

This process worked well this winter when bad weather kept us from traveling to our meeting place. Our time was already carved out so we wanted it to be productive. In other instances, when the day of the week or time of day didn't work for us, we figured out a time that allowed us to work from home.

The guidelines for our write-ins are flexible and can depend on what each one of us wants to accomplish, which we usually state before we start. The important thing is that we use our time productively and sometimes that means not going out but writing in.

Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

V = Volunteer

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-two


I'd like to use the letter "V" to remind people to volunteer. I used to volunteer a lot when my daughters were in school. I choreographed plays, created costumes, chaperoned trips, and whatever else I was able to do to help. Book fairs were the best, except that time I agreed to dress in that Clifford costume!

Cub Scouts
When my children were no longer in school, I have to admit, it was a bit of relief not to have so many commitments. But I also felt a void. I realized that with grown children I had more time to commit to my writing career so I wanted to commit some of that time to volunteering as an author. I like to encourage others to do the same.

Some ways you can volunteer as an author is to offer to do free Skype visits. When a librarian took extra time to write a letter to my publisher to tell them how much they enjoyed using my joke books in her school and how much they enjoyed the books, I decided to give back with a free Skype visit.


Career Day
 Consider doing free author visits for children who might not otherwise experience meeting an author.  For me that meant visiting a children's hospital. Check your local newspaper and calendar of events for organizations in your community that might benefit from your services. That's how I discovered Gigi's and was able to arrange a special author 
Children's Hospital

visit with a holiday-themed craft. Consider a volunteering for a Career Day or a scouting event. These are just a few ways authors can give back.


Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

U = Universal

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty-one
What is a universal theme for a book? It's basically something that be shared or understood by everyone, often based on emotions. Common universal themes for children's books include friendship, family, and loss.

But how do you use universal themes in your own writing? When I start out writing a new story I don't think about the universal theme or if it ties to curriculum. I create a story from my heart. In doing so I trust that a universal theme will emerge. I recently started working on a new picture book idea. My first draft didn't have a clear theme. As I revised my story, a universal theme was quick to show itself and I was able to start to take the story in a more focused direction. As the creative process continues I make sure that my story stays true and focused to this universal theme.

For information on universal themes, you can check out:
101 Common Book Themes and Common Themes in Children's Literature

Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Friday, April 24, 2015

T = Tap

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Twenty


I chose the word "tap" for the letter "T" because of course the blog is about reading, writing, AND dancing. Besides writing, tap dancing is another passion of mine. I share this with students at school visits because I think it's important to know how things you're passionate about can shape your writing. I've been tap dancing for almost my entire life as a student and a teacher, so how could it not influence my writing?

The rhythm from my taps has worked its way into creating rhythm for my stories. I discovered early on, from editors, that my writing had rhythm before I even knew what rhythm in writing was. I knew it was a good thing but it took me a little while to figure out how it existed without me intentionally trying to add it. I knew it came naturally for me but I didn't know why. I eventually realized that the tap rhythms I am able to create with my feet also flow easily through my fingertips. I hear things that maybe other people don't. The need for an extra beat. A pause. An accent. Call it what you will but to me it's tap dancing through my fingertips.

Me with my two daughters who also enjoyed tapping!

Besides tap dancing allowing me to create rhythms, it is also the theme of many of my fiction stories. Sometimes my story begins with a dance theme, other times it works its way into the story. It can be in a small detail, like a name (Mrs. Tapp) or an entire character or plot. I especially like to feature tap dancing because I feel like it is a dance form that is often overshadowed by a more popular theme of ballet but sometimes it's because I have this fear of tap dancing becoming a lost art.

That's me on right tapping next to Gregory Hines!
I even tap danced on the Rosie O'Donnell Show!
I encourage writers of all ages to take what they're passionate about and use it in their writing in some way, shape or form. Your passion will shine through and help make your writing a unique experience for both you and your readers. 
Tapping at a fundraising event.
Tap's it for now, folks!

Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

S = Sleuth

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Nineteen


You need to be a super sleuth to write great nonfiction so it's no surprise that I always wanted to be this guy . . .

Columbo! I watched this show all the time. Little did I know that someday I would be writing mysteries of my own and using my sleuthing skills to uncover fascinating facts for my nonfiction books. My goal when writing nonfiction is to uncover some little known fact or facts about a particular topic. I found the best way to do this is to track down primary sources and interview them over the phone or in person. I find through conversation, as opposed to just a laundry list of questions, you are able to uncover golden nuggets of information. I even had a primary resource that searched his attic for photos that he was willing to contribute to one of my books. Sleuths often don't work alone.

As a nonfiction sleuth you might have to work your way through gatekeepers and relatives or past secretaries and assistants. But I've found that persistence pays off and when you are finally able to connect with an expert in a particular field they are usually passionate about what they do and are willing to share their knowledge. Sleuths search libraries, historical records, newspapers, and do whatever it takes to track down the information needed to write a great book.

Research is what kept from initially writing nonfiction. What I discovered is that although it's the hardest part of the job, it's also what I love most about it. I think Columbo would be proud!  

Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R = Reading

A to Z Blog Challenge: Day Eighteen
Want to become a better writer? Read!
I take home a new haul of books from the library around every two weeks. I create an ongoing list of books that I want to read and then reserve them through my public library. When I go to pick them up I also browse the new book section and add some of these (okay, a lot of  these) to my bag.  I read each of these books looking for mentor texts and to decide what I like and don't like about them and why. It's a great way to discover new formats for my own stories. Then I decide which stories I want to type up and save in my "book studies" file. Typing them helps me remember them better and embeds them into my brain so hopefully some of those same techniques will work their way into my own stories. It's like when I write a grocery list and even though I forget the list at home, the fact that I wrote it helps me remember it. It's also helpful to go back to this file when I'm looking for mentor texts. I'm at Barnes and Noble once a week, so I try to browse what they have on their shelves that I wasn't able to find at the library.
You never stop learning how to become a better writer and reading is one thing that I think whether you're a beginning or a seasoned writer, you must read what you want to write!

Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library market. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.