Sunday, September 25, 2016

Congratulations to the Winners!

Congratulations to the winners of the August Book giveaway:
Rick Starkey has the After-Room by Maile Meloy and Jennifer Williamsfield has won the book Writer With a Day job.
Please send me the addresses you would the book mailed to.
Due to my day job and going back for my MBA I will not blogging regularly. I will try to squeeze in some blogs when I can because I still have lots of books to giveaway.

I'm thinking about asking for volunteers to review the books I have and they keep them for themselves.
Leave a comment with your thoughts on this.

Thank you so much for following my blogs and hope to back soon!

Stay tuned:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Interview with Doraine Bennett

Doraine, it was so good to meet you and talk to you about how you got started writing nonfiction. Please tell us a bit about what you write.

I have written a lot of nonfiction. I think because I like the research part of writing more than because I love nonfiction. I know that sounds a bit strange, but I do like taking complicated ideas and writing them in an understandable way. I worked as editor for a military magazine for eight years and one of the challenges was to make all that complicated strategy stuff accessible to an average reader. It was a fun challenge, at least on the days I didn’t want to pull my hair out. 

I’ve tried some picture books, but haven’t quite found the knack of getting a story into 700 words or less. And I’ve written one novel which will probably remain in a bottom drawer from now on. 

I love writing poetry. I like forms and I like free verse. I especially enjoy the Poetry Friday community in the Kidslitosphere and all the poetry sharing each week. 

How long have you been writing?

Officially in the children’s world, since about 2002. Before that I wrote newsletters. I’ve pretty much always kept a journal since my mother gave me a five-year-diary when I was eight. I was totally absorbed in what I ate for breakfast and what I made on spelling tests. 

You have written for a series of nonfiction books: America, My Country American Heroes. Please tell us how you found out about this series.

I worked as a sales rep for Delaney Educational Enterprises for nine years, selling books from about 150 publishers into schools. We met for presentations from publishers on their new books for spring and fall every year and I crossed paths with editors from several of those educational publishers. The editor from State Standards Publishing was one of those editors. She was a small publisher targeting state history standards. I wrote a number of series for her. America My Country was one of them. The educational market is a bit of a different animal from traditional trade publishers. Few of them are looking for stand-alone books. They want a series. It means more sales. It was a doorway into the publishing world for me. 

How did you break into writing nonfiction.
It was simply what the publisher wanted at the time, although I’ve always loved history. I would have written most anything, but she needed Georgia history standards. So that’s what I wrote. Second grade reading level for Georgia. Tell this life story in 200 words or less using no contractions, no introductory phrases and no words that register higher than a third grade reading level. It was a bit like putting together a puzzle. 

What tips can you give writers wanting to break into nonfiction?
You have to love the research. You can’t be afraid to talk to experts. You must keep exact records of where you got every tidbit of information. And when you spit it all back out, it has to sound like a story. 

Did you have to supply the photos/images? What tips can you share for this?
I have never been asked to supply the photos for any of my books, although when I came across one that I thought especially good, I might include the url for the editor to check. Interesting, when the proofs came back with photos included, we often had to make revisions to the text based on which photos she chose.

What are you working on now?
I began working on a couple of poetry projects this year. I think I needed a break from the educational world. Right now I’m working on a historical novel in verse. It’s a big project and I’m only about half way through. 

I recently read Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle. Here is an excerpt that has me pondering my work in progress:

I believe that each work of art, whether it is a work of great genius, or something very small, comes to the artist and says, “Here I am. Enflesh me. Give birth to me. And the artist either says, “My soul doth magnify the Lord,” and willingly becomes the bearer of the work, or refuses; but the obedient response is not necessarily a conscious one, and not everyone has the humble, courageous obedience of Mary…then the job of the artist, great or small, is to serve. The amount of the artist’s talent is not what it’s about.

I’m asking myself how I serve this work. We’ll see what happens.


Doraine Bennett

Please leave a comment or enter through rafflecoptor to win The After-Room by Maile Meloy or Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney

August book giveaway by Aine Greaney

Let's face it not all of us can afford to quit our day job and write full time. My day job has benefits that I just can't afford to lose at this time in my life. But that doesn't mean I can't have a writing career too.
Sometimes I do struggle to find the time or have difficulty looking for the right word, finding the right market to tap, or just having time to research!
If you are working full time and want to write too, then this is the book for you.

At 233 pages, Aine Greaney gives you lots of resources and encouragement to keep doing what you love. It is divided into five sections:
Section 1: Getting Started
Section 2: Let's Go - Start the habit of daily writing
Section 3:Integrating Writing into your work day
Section 4:Making Your Writing Better: Reviewing and Revising
Section 5: Twenty Author Interviews
It also includes an index.

Writer Beware tips are scattered throughout  the text, lists of free resources with links are posted and thoughts on rising early or writing after work.

I love the section on integrating writing in your work day. The titles of the chapters in this section are:
Chapter 8: Drive Time: thinking out loud on the Road
Tutorial 3: Creating memorable characters
Chapter 9: All Aboard! Turn your train ride or bus ride into writing time.
Tutorial 4: Writing Great Setting
Chapter 10: Before, During and After Work: Grab your writing time when you can
Chapter 11: Writers, Take Back Your Lunch Hour ( I don't have an hour)
Tutorial 5: Writing Dialogue
Chapter 12: Truth and Fiction: Writing About Other People- Including Your Colleagues.

If you would like to win this book please leave a comment or enter through  the Rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The After-Room by Maile Meloy

The After-Room by Maile Meloy is the third and last book in the Apothecary trilogy. If you haven't read these books, then you have a surprise waiting for you! These books are a mixture of science-fiction and magic. The Apothecary is a long established society of herbalists who use plants to do all sorts of things from turning yourself into a bird so you can fly to stopping a nuclear bomb.

In this third book, Benjamin is desperately trying to communicate with his dead father. Or is he really dead? Is he able to free his father from the After-Room as Benjamin calls it? His friend Janie Scott is worried about Benjamin. What if he goes to the After-room and is unable to come back?

Then on the other side of the world Jin Lo with the help of Ned Maddox, is trying to stop a madman from blowing up China.

Add to all this historical fiction! This is an unbeatable combination.

If you would like a chance to win this third book in the series, please leave a comment, tweet or enter using the Rafflecoptor.

Also, I am waiting on Alana White to claim her prize A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck.

See you next week when I talk about the book Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Congratulations to July Winners Alana White and Nancy K Allen

Congratulations to Nancy K. Allen for winning the book Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and to Alana White for winning A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck.

Please send me the addresses you would like the books shipped to. My e-mail is

Thank you for visiting my blog.
For those that didn't win this don't despair! Here are the title for August:
Writer with a Day Job by Aine Greaney and After Room by Maile Meloy.

More about these books next week, but you can enter to win by leaving a comment or entering through the rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Critques are not for Cowards

Irene Latham on left and Patricia Weaver on right. Writing buddies
We've all heard the phrase: "Parenting is not for Cowards." Well neither is critiquing.
Here are some tips whether you're giving or receiving.

For the Giver:
Give your reaction to the story not YOUR opinion.
Avoid saying things like this was weak. Instead give some constructive feedback like:
I'm having a hard time picturing this.
I'm confused by...
Also give some positive comments on what you thought the writer did really well.

For the receiver:
Find a group with like interests. Where do you find them? I suggest writing conferences or local writing groups. If there isn't one in your area, start one. SCBWI is a great organizations that puts writers and illustrators together.

Ask yourself if you are ready for this? You have written what you hope is a perfect story or article.
First put on your helmet and a shield wouldn't hurt either unless you have a thick skin.

What you need to remember when getting feedback is "Did I get my message across?" Listen for the responses.
Did your character show the expected reaction in this scene?
Was the character's action predictable or out of character? There can be a fine line here. You don't want to be too predictable.
Did it make sense?
What expectations did you want the reader to have? Did you accomplish this?
At what point did the reader lose interest?

Did you feel the urge to explain why the character did what he did when getting feedback? Don't say anything just make a note of it and revisit it later. If your not sure of some of the comments ask them to clarify.

For example I am taking Allyson Levitt's online picture book class, and in lesson two our assignment was to write a question and answer for our manuscript. If you have someone that can read your story, ask them what they think the question and answer is. Mine did not answer the question I was asking. Taking the feedback I was able to focus my story more where it needed to go.

So that leads me to the next tip: Be flexible. Perhaps your story is many layered, and you could break it down into more than one story. Yippee! Now you have another project to look forward too.

This was excerpted from the article by Steven James in the Writer's Digest September 2016 issue.

Tomorrow is the last day to enter for the July book giveaways. Leave a comment or use the Rafflecoptor to enter.

Next week the winners and August books will be announced. If you know of a good craft book, let me know. I do know that Janice Hardy has some coming out that I'm looking forward to reviewing soon.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Writing Contests!

Here's a sampler of writing contests I have found and participated in:

The Creative Writing Institute has a themed contest which opened July 15 through September 15. Click on the link for more information. there is a $5 entry fee. It must have this sentence in the story "Explain how that happened."

1500-2000 words.
I have taken several of their writing classes too and  I believe this is a good one to enter.

WOW Women on Writing This one is open now and closes August 31st. Open prompt 250 -750 words. They also offer writing classes and I believe you will recognize some of the instructors. You can also pay a little extra for a critique of your story. The entry fee is $10 and limited to 300 entrants.

I have taken some of their writing courses and they are very good too.

Writers Weekly 24 hour Fall contest is September 17 . Entry fee $5. This is a fun contest. On September 17 you will be given the theme and word count. You will have 24 hours to write and submit your story.

There are 89 prizes and this too is limited to 500 entrants. I have entered this before and have come up with some interesting new stories.

However, if you are a resident of Colorado, Maryland, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Tennessee. Your state may prohibit your participation in skills-based contests that have an entry fee. If your state prohibits these types of contests, please do not enter. If you wish to participate anyway, your $5 fee will be considered a participation fee but, unfortunately, you will not be eligible to win a prize.

Pockets Annual Fiction writing contest is open until August 15. there is no theme and no entry fee! Word count is 750-1000. Click on the link for more information.

This just in from Charles Suddeth: Green River Writers  contest is open until September 30th.I am a Midsouth member & also  the Contest Chairman for Green River Writers of Louisville. For 2016 we have about $1600 total in prizes in 2 grand prizes and 14 prose & poetry prizes. I sponsored the only category dedicated to children's writing, but virtually all of the categories are open to children.  This has a low entry fee.

Hope you enjoy and will try some of these out. Let me know if you have participated in any of these and your thoughts on them. Also please feel free to add any other contests that you think are good for writers or illustrators.
Don't forget to leave a comment or enter through rafflecoptor for a chance to win: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg or A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck.

See you next week!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Jim Averbeck presents A Hitch at the Fairmont

Jim Averbeck is an illustrator as well as a children's author. I was fortunate enough to attend a SCBWI workshop in Orlando this summer where he presented how he wrote this book. The research he went into not only for the Fairmont Hotel but also about Alfred Hitchcock was inspiring.

Averbeck shows us  the details about how Hitchcock uses storyboards to direct the audience attention to where he wants it go.

He also brings to life how an artists creates: There was that thrilling moment when pencil caught paper and dragging it across was like striking a match. And like fire the pencil burned the paper with black lines and curves. Small bits of lead popped and leapt behind as it tracked along with a satisfying scratch.

The story is about a boy who goes to live with his aunt in the Fairmont Hotel after his mother drives off a cliff and kills herself. Alfred Hitchcock just happens to be staying there too.
When Jack's aunt is kidnapped, he ropes Mr. Hitchcock into helping him find and rescue her.

Well that's all I'm going to tell you about that because this has more twists and turns than a roller coaster and I don't want to spoil the ending for you.

For a chance to win this book in this month's giveaway, please leave a comment or enter through the rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Giveaway-Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down the Bones- Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg is a classic and a good book for beginners and seasoned writers.
This book has sold millions of copies and translated to many languages. First released in 1986, it still holds true to writing for today.
This book is an excellent encourager and stimulates the creative process.
In the epilogue of her book she states: "The biggest struggle was not with the actual writing, but working out the fear of success, the fear of failure, ..."
I have heard many writers that have successful published book say pretty much the same thing every time about the their current work in progress.

I like the exercise she gives in the chapter: The Action of a Sentence.
Fold a paper in half long ways and write a noun, then on the other side think of occupations that go with the noun and write a verb. Open the page and see what new sentences can be made with the different combinations.
I love the "My blood buzzes like a hornet's nest"
If you feel your writing is getting stale with "he ran, she walked" this may be a good exercise to try.

If you would like a chance to win this book please leave a comment below or use the rafflecoptor.

See you next week!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Winners of Book Giveaway

Congratulations to Joyce Lansky on winning The Legend of Ghost Dog Island!
Please send me the address you want this book mailed to.

Congratulations to Angie Quantrel! You have won The Writing book. Please email your address.

Happy Fourth of July! Have a safe one and donate blood if you are able!

See you next week I unveil the July book giveaways!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Writing Book by Kate Grenville This months Book Giveaway and Contest!

The Writing Book by Kate Grenville, is the other book I'm giving away this month along with The Legend of Ghost Dog Island by Rita Monette.

The Writing Book is a workbook for fiction writers. It is full of exercises to stimulate your creativity.
Each chapter except the last one has examples. The last chapter is all about submitting a manuscript. One of the things I like about this book is that it addresses organization. Yes, I want to know how other writers keep their work in progress organized.
I do mine by keeping a WIP folder on the desktop of my computer. Inside that folder is another folder for "obsolete" for the stuff that I cut, but not ready to discard just yet.
Chapter Two is about making piles, the advantages of piles and ways to sort piles.
There are chapters on POV, characters, description, voice, dialogue, revision, and design.

If you want to enter to win this book please leave a comment of how you organize your work in progress.


I just saw this contest in the Sub It Club Facebook page June 2016 Contest Roundup:
It the #PG70PIT contest. I've heard of first pages but this is the first time I've heard of submitting page #70. I don't know much about this contest, but it does look interesting so I thought I would pass it along. If you know anything about this contest (good or bad) please share in comments below.

See you next week when winners of the book giveaway will be announced.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day and Book Giveaway

Wiley (Eddie) Brazil on right

My father has been gone for more than a few years now, but I still think about him and the things he taught me.
Despite only having an eighth grade education, he didn't let that stop him from following his dreams. He was a hard worker and always provided for us six kids and mom.

Here he  is working at Cleveland Cap Screw in Ohio. He left this job and moved his family back to Alabama where he drove an eighteen wheeler. He wasn't afraid to try new things and he was always working on machines. There wasn't anything my dad couldn't fix!

Love you dad!

Now to tell you about another girl who loved her dad. Nikki Landry loved her Papa. He knew everything and was a great fisherman. One thing though, Nikki was tired of moving. Her papa would move their houseboat when the fishing got bad and they would move on to richer waters.
This time when they moved she resolved not to make any new friends because she would just have to leave them behind when her papa moved them again.
Their boat was anchored across from Ghost Dog Island. Nikki tells her papa about the howling she hears and asks him what it could be.  Papa tells Nikki the legend of Ghost Dog Island how some monster lures dogs there and then turns them into ghosts. Nikki doesn't believe in ghosts but when her dog comes up missing, she's determined to rescue him.

Nikki does make new friends despite her vow not to,  and with their help she solves the mystery of the howling and saves a woman too!

This is a great mystery by Rita Monette and she also did a great job with the illustrations! 

To enter to win this book or The Writing Book by Kate Grenville, use the Rafflecoptor or leave a comment.

Next week I'll tell you about The Writing book.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Writing Tips Gleaned from Florida SCBWI Summer Conference

Just got back from the Florida SCBWI Summer Conference and this is the first year I made it to the Silent Auction and Elixir Mixer.

Look what I won the auction! Thank you Tara Powers for donating this beautiful birdhouse.

I bought this for a special friend who will remain nameless. She will get it in July for birthday, but her birthday is in August.

Here are some things I will get to keep even though they are shared here.

From Tracey Adams of Adams Literary shared this about character:
Explore your character. Look online for character studies.
What is your character afraid of?
What does he daydream about?
Use Pinterest to choose  items that inspire you or remind you of your character.
Draw a picture of him/her.
Draw a map or legend of location. The setting could be a character.

How would your character finish these lines?
You need to know____
You can't know____
The truth is____
The first time____
I would die for ____

Jim Averbeck talked about mystery vs suspense.
His book Hitch is a historical fiction about a boy whose aunt is kidnapped and he teams up with Alfred Hitchcock to find her.
Mystery is more of an intellectual who dunit and suspense is more of an emotional process.

There is a difference between shocking/thrilling which last a few seconds to drawing out a scene to build tension. A few movie clips were shown to emphasize the meaning.
Four things needed to build suspense are:
1. Audience awareness. an example was giving of a man talking about baseball (boring) and a bomb exploded and obliterated everyone. But if you told (show) the audience the that there is a bomb and it was going off in five minutes then it builds the suspense.
2. Ticking bomb see above. you can increase by adding another ticking bomb.
3. Stakes- what are the stakes if the bomb goes off?
4. Disempower your protagonist. Put your character in a position where he can't do anything. This can be done by having a power shift between MC and another character, dwindling options, dramatic irony

Linda Sue Park gave several revision tips. She said she doesn't like books on how to write with the exception of authors who write about how they write. Don't worry, I'll still review and giveaway writing craft books here. She said the best way to learn to write is to read hundreds of books.
When you get stuck writing ask your self "What does he want in this scene?"
1. Read story out loud in the voice your character would use.
2. Widows and orphans are when there is one word left on a line before a new paragraph starts. Try to eliminate a word in the paragraph to bring it up. No fair adding words!
3. Change the font and critique it. This helps to fool your mind and help you be more objective.
4. For Voice: Choose a sentence and rewrite it as many different ways you can.. You may be surprised with what you come up with.
5. Copy and paste a section and then delete. Rewrite it. Is it shorter? Only the important things will be left ( most of the time).
6. Start at the end of manuscript and work back. Look for nouns. If the noun isn't in the first 2/3 thirds of the book it needs to go or be added in first 2/3.

Hope this helps!
Don't forget to enter to win The Legend of Ghost Dog Island or The Writing Book.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Winners of May Book Giveaways

The winner of Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers is Donna Volkenannt.

The winner of the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency No1 The Case of the Missing Moonstone is Renee Grandinetti.

If you didn't win, don't despair! Here are this months books:

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Blog I'm Following: Nancy Kelly Allen-Writing Workshop

Welcome to my blog. This blog is all about writing tips for writers and teachers of writing. Each week I will address one aspect of writing. Occasionally, I will post tips about no-fee contests and calls for submissions by publishers. If you would like to know more about me or my books, check out my website at (This is from Nancy's blog, you can click on link to visit her blog.)
Why I follow Nancy's blog:
Nancy has lots of experience writing for children, and her blog caters to those like me that want to improve their writing.
Each week Nancy posts articles on how she writes, or just gives me something to inspire me to write.
This weeks blog is about where we find inspiration!
Nancy mentions calls for submissions for magazines. These are broken down into call for young writers and adult writers. She also list contests!
I love contests and many of these are no -fees!

So if you are like me and always looking for ways to improve or be inspired, check out her blog and tell her Sheila sent you!

If you have a favorite blog you follow, please list it the comments. It can even be your own!
Don't forget to enter the contest for May's book giveaways. Winners will be announced next week.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers

This is one of the books I'm giving away this month. It is fast becoming a favorite and will be hard to part with. So you know what I do when that happens? Buy another copy of course!

Instead of outlining this book and telling you all about the goodies inside, I'm going to focus on chapter four. Why? Because this is an area I struggle with and am really excited about learning how to do this and maybe just adding my take on it too.

So what is Chapter Four? The Book 100. In other words,  read 100 books, which I have already done thank you very much. Ahh but I didn't read them as a writer! I got so wrapped up in the book I forgot to study it. So the book 100 is making note cards of books you chose to use as mentor texts (another thing I'm learning and will feature more in a later blog so stay tuned.)
Read books of the genre you write. What did they do well? Was there great dialogue? Did they do suspense in a dramatic way, building up to a climax?
How did the book start? Chapter endings leave you not wanting to put the book down?

 Heather suggests you keep this information you mined on note cards and have this information on them for quick referral:

Title of book:
Book in a sentence [just to remember it]:
Book in a paragraph [pretend it's your book and you're explaining it to an agent who has just asked you, "What's your book about?"]: ( I find this a great way to prep for pitching. It's so much easier form me to tell you about someone else's book than mine.)
Best thing about this book: (Here is where I'm putting in my 2 cents worth. I'm playing around with color coding the index cards for things like plot, character, dialogue. You get the drift? So if I'm beating my brains trying to remember which book that has good example of dialogue, or the mystery that built suspense to a sitting on the edge of my chair to see what happens next, I can just look for the color in my box).
List of memorable, useful techniques [like (I'm inserting my own version here) transitions; page 67"; good dialogue between children,  page 8"):

Leave a comment to books you have used as mentor texts.

Hope this helps and don't forget to register for a chance to win this book. USA residents only.
See you next week.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone book review

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency: The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

Published in 2015 by Yearling. 203 pages.
Yearling Mystery ages 8-12
US $6.99
ISBN: 978-0-385-75443-9

Jordan Stratford writes a unique historical mystery in that the characters are historical and all else is fiction. Kelly Murphy depicts the year 1826 with beautiful black and white drawings.
Two protagonists join forces to form The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.
Lady Ada Byron, in real life, a mathematician and daughter of the poet Lord Byron.
Mary Godwin, the author of Frankenstein and the daughter of feminist writer, Mary Wollstonecraft.

It all starts when Mary goes to be tutored with Lady Ada Byron.
Ada is just weird. She doesn't pay attention during lessons and often corrects the teacher when she does stay in the classroom. Mary is amazed and a little fearful. If the tutor gets canned as so many before, will she be able to continue her studies?

Ada notices that Mary has a knack for observation, picking up on peoples feelings, and begins to understand more about the outside world.
When the tutor introduces her to the newspaper, she is enthralled, but also disturbed that clever criminals would not be caught. Would the criminals be smarter than Ada? Ada doesn't think so and sets out to prove it.
So Ada only eleven and Mary, fourteen, decide to be "secret " detectives. they put an advertisement in the paper and get their first case. A young woman's maid confesses to stealing a necklace. The woman doesn't believe her and hires Mary and Ada and to find the real culprit.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do. this is the first in a series. I am also offering this book in this months giveaway. Enter by using the rafflecoptor or by leaving a comment. USA residents only.
See you next week when I review the book Chapter after Chapter by Heather Sellers.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there, whether they be aunts, sisters, or friends.
If you would like to share a tribute to your mother please leave a comment with a link to your blog or Facebook page or wherever you have it posted.

This is year is our first year without our mom for Mother's day.  When my mother-in-law passed away, it was hard, but now that they are both gone it is doubly hard.
One of the things I would like to thank my mother for is that she instilled in us to be friends to each other. To help each other when needed, to be there.
I know that she would be proud of us now, it didn't take a lifetime for her to see her girls grow up and not only be sisters, but friends as well.

I would also like to say I had the best mother-in-law. My husband tells me often how much she and I are alike, and I'm proud to say this is a compliment and not insult!
We would often commiserate together on how awful our husbands were and end up laughing about it.

Me, and sisters Sherry, June, Angela, and Glenda after a homemade Ice Cream party.

me and sister-in-law, Evelyn Dawson who helped counsel our children when they wouldn't listen to us.

Left: Roi Solberg, Right: Kathleen Leech sitting Marie Renfro My mother-in-law and her two sister.

Me and my mom on her 85th birthday.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Winners of Book Giveaway New Book Giveaway Announced

Special thank you to Irene Latham for donating her books to the April Book Giveaway.

If you are interested in doing the same, email me at

Kristi Veitenheimer winner!

Cathy Hall winner!

Virgina Rinkel winner!

May Book Giveaway

May Book Giveaway

Next Sunday is Mother's Day so I would like to open next weeks blog to everyone to honor their mother.
Please leave a comment with your blog site if you have posted something in honor of Mother's Day.

Thank you and to all the mothers out there, hope you have a nice Mother's Day.

Friday, April 29, 2016

2016 Progressive Poem

It all started in the year of 2012. Irene Latham 's idea to celebrate National Poetry Month ( April), with a blog hop from one exciting blog to the next. Across oceans and back we visit each other's blog to see what the next line will be.
This year has been an exciting odyssey  and today I humbly add my line.

First I counted all the syllables in each line to find a pattern besides the obvious rhyme. Then I read and re-read to get the feel of where this has been going. To me the theme seemed to be welcoming Spring. What could be better than a picture of new life in the Spring. I took this picture at the Homosassa State park and even though the line said Yet I fear I am no kite or bird– There were a lot of references to flying, soaring things that birds do. So maybe this little fellow doesn't realize he is a bird yet and can fly and soar, but he definitely looks like he is dancing!

West Wind Dreams of Taking Shape

A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky.
A hummingbird holds and then hies.
“If I could fly, I’d choose to be
Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.”

A cast of crabs engraves the sand
Delighting a child’s outstretched hand.
"If I could breathe under the sea,
I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee."

A clump of crocuses craves the sun.
Kites soar while joyful dogs run.
"I sing to spring, to budding green,
to all of life – seen and unseen."

     Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear
     and finally reach one divining seer
     who looks up from her perch and beams —
     "West Wind is dreaming May, it seems."

"Golden wings open and gleam
as I greet the prancing team.
Gliding aside with lyrical speed,
I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede."

To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns.
      Blowing soft words the seer discerns
     from earthbound voyage to dreamy night,
     "The time is now.  I give you flight!"

"Yet I fear I am no kite or bird–
I lift! The world below me blurred
by tears of joy.  I spiral high,
I hum, I dive, I dip, I hive!"

Behold, Spring is but a dance away

Donna will have the difficult post of putting the last line down at Mainley Write. I can hardly wait to see what she comes up with.

If you missed any of the poem and want to see where it started and follow along; here is the list of contributors and comments of how they came up with their line.


2  Joy at Joy Acey

3  Doraine at Dori Reads

4  Diane at Random Noodling

5  Penny at A Penny and Her Jots

6  Carol at Beyond LiteracyLink

8  Janet F. at Live Your Poem

9  Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

10  Pat at Writer on a Horse

11  Buffy at Buffy's Blog

12  Michelle at Today's Little Ditty

13  Linda at TeacherDance

14  Jone at Deo Writer

15  Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

16  Violet at Violet Nesdoly

17  Kim at Flukeprints

18  Irene at Live Your Poem

19  Charles at Charles Waters Poetry

21  Jan at Bookseedstudio

23  Ramona at Pleasures from the Page

24  Amy at The Poem Farm

25  Mark at Jackett Writes

26  Renee at No Water River

27  Mary Lee at Poetrepository

29  Sheila at Sheila Renfro

30  Donna at Mainely Write



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cry of the Sea by D.G. Driver

Cry of the Sea by D.G. Driver is a story about a girl,
Juniper Sawfeather ( love that name), who didn't want to be like her environmentally fanatic parents. She did care about the environment, but didn't want to be in the publicity that followed her parents. Instead she chose to go to a college far enough away that she wouldn't be bothered with the news magnetic parents she had.
She did care about the environment, though, so when there's an oil spill she goes to help her father save what marine animals she can.

But what they find there no one would believe! She didn't  believe it could be possible- Mermaids! Three of them, almost dead by the oil covering the water and their skin. Two of them died, but she was able to save the third one. The mermaids were not like story book mermaids, These looked more mutants fish with human like heads.

At the beach she meets Carter, who helps her and her father get the fish and other animals to safety. While she is trying to move the mermaid, her father is videoing the rescue to use as ammunition against the Affron company responsible for the oil spill.

"June" wants to help her friend Haley in her quest to be popular, but when June doesn't show up to help with a presentation, Haley will not speak to her.

In desperation, June emails the video of the mermaids to Haley to explain. The video goes viral, but the mermaids have been stolen!

June, Carter, Haley and popular group gets together to find and rescue the mermaids.

I truly loved the this story. It was realistic in that you feel that "it could happen".
D.G. Driver has a sequel out Whisper in the Woods. I can't wait to find out Juniper finds in the woods!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Creating Poetry by John Drury

I don't claim to be a poet. I'm a closet poet. In other words I have a journal that I write poems down in, but they are not for the public eye. Not because they are obscene or anything like that, but because for me it is exposing my soul. Saying that, I would like to learn to write some fun poems that aren't so serious. Which is why I love to join other poets (yes they let me) in the Progressive Poem that Irene Latham hosts each year. She's one of my favorite poets and she is letting me give two of her books away on my blog. (Don't forget to register to win).

So getting back to why I chose Creating Poetry by John Drury.
First, I like the musical cadence of reading poems out loud. You find then in nursery rhymes, in picture books, in magazines, pretty much ever where. He goes over every pattern, form, style, you name it.

Second, not only does John Drury tell you about the different forms, but also has suggestions of where to submit your poetry. How cool is that!

Third, I love the way he has broken down the sections for quick references: Preparing, Language, Sight, Sound, Movement, Shaping, Patterns and Traditions, Voice, Sources of Inspiration, Things to Write About, Other Art Forms and Finishing. There is also an Appendix which includes: Submitting Poems- Another Exercise, Index and an Index to Exercises.

So after reading this book I would have to say what my writing teacher Dr. Hardy always said, "Even if you don't write poetry, writing and studying it can help improve your writing."

John Drury gives several examples of this and I like what he says about his book, "If you feel intimidated by a topic-, you could skip over it, but you might do better to tackle it head-on."

So if you're like me and would like to "tackle" writing poetry "head-on". Leave a comment or enter through the rafflecoptor.
Must reside in the USA.

See you next week when I announce the lucky winners!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fresh Delicious by Irene Latham illustrated by Mique Moriuchi

I love going to the farmer's market located in Ocala, Fl. There is pretty much everything you can think of from fresh milk to baked goods.
Arts and crafts, eggs, vegetables and fresh seafood from the Atlantic coast! Who doesn't love going to the Farmers' Market?
Fresh Delicious reminds me of our farmers market and all the fun, good things to see and do.
I never thought of cucumbers as submarines before!

I love strawberries. Here is a little poem about them:

Strawberry Jamboree

So many strawberries
costumed in red-
they carry green parasols
to shade their heads.
Tasteless, or tasteful?
You decide.
They wear their seeds
on the outside.
 (see recipe at end of book for strawberry ice cream)

There are puzzles to solve too! Summer Squash as Punctuation anyone?
This book will get the imagination going. See what you can find at your Farmers' Market and come up with your own poems and quizzes.

Includes kid friendly recipes. While at the market, pickup some fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and milk and then enjoy making some good wholesome food.
Remember to enter the rafflecoptor or leave a comment to be eligible to win this book and others.
Must reside in the USA.

See you next week when I do a book review on Creating Poetry in celebration of National Poetry month. Also follow along on the 2016 Progressive Poem

Sunday, April 10, 2016

When the Sun Shines on Antarctica written Irene Latham & illustrated by Anna Wadham

This month I'm giving away two picture books by Irene Latham. The Sun Shines on Antarctica is the first one.

This is a unique picture book because it is both fiction and nonfiction. Antarctica is a real place, one of the seven continents. I always think of Antarctica as a cold barren, lifeless place. But was I in for a surprise!

One of my favorite poems is Beware the Brinkle

Like a frozen
lightening rod

or a jagged
magic wand,

it daggers


to cast
an icy spell

on the sea
all it touches.

What is a brinkle? It's part brine and part icicle. It forms when the ice melts and drops into the cold water. Like an icicle falling from the eaves of house, brinkle sinks to the bottom of the ocean floor. When it hits the bottom, it traps whatever life-forms there are in ice.
How cool is that?

Anna Wadham  illustrations capture the playfulness of the animals as they frolic in the summer light.

Leave a comment or enter through the rafflecoptor for a chance to win this book.

More poetry fun here:

Patricia Weaver's day for the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem