Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Reading Days

July has come and gone so fast this year. Luckily, the summer is still going strong and there is plenty of reading time left. My publisher just released five new books and I want to share them with you before school picks up again.  If you get a chance to read one or all of them, be sure to let me and the authors know what you thought. We love to hear what interests YOU, the reader!

All of these look exciting and I can't wait to read them. There is a special book at the end of the list. It is a book by a fourth grader who was the recent ANGEL to ANGEL contest winner. Great job and congrats on your publication! 

On Angel’s Wings They Greet the King
Angelic Harmony hardcover and softcover

by Rosemary Kuhn

inspire with the spirit of the first Christmas. Multicultural children offer their unique gifts to the Christ Child and represent all the children of the world who possess special gifts to offer the newborn King on Christmas. A Christmas song, too.

Prairie Dog Play Days, Little Stinkers & Bald Eagles Rule
Academic Wings

by Margot Finke
Three fantastic American animals eat, fly, and dig their way across the pages of this rhyming picture book. Prairie Dogs, Skunks and Bald Eagles are just waiting for your child to meet them. Cool critters, and cool facts: how can you beat a combination like that?

by Joni Klein-Higger
In this fun educational musical about recycling, a “nutty professor” transports four modern day kids back to the 1950’s. Together they compare the lifestyles of today’s “disposable generation” to kids living in a time before plastic bags, aluminum cans, and water bottles became a part of our every day life.

The Fearless Grandpa
Littlest Angels

by Mary Esparza-Vela
A grandfather proclaims that he is not afraid of anything until a tiny mouse crawls under his shirt and causes a commotion. His grandchildren learn that their Grandfather is afraid of something after all, but everyone accepts it in a humorous way.

The Secret in the Attic - an Angel to Angel contest Award Winner
Angel to Angel 

by 4th Grader Laura Mansour

(Note, scroll down the page a little bit and you will see the book.)

That's it for this month, so let's get READING! Which ones are your favorites? 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Technology's Impact on our Grammar

As an author who is also responsible for the promotion of my work, I use technology. I use it ALL THE TIME. In fact, on weekends when I do most of my writing and promoting, the first place my family looks for me is at the computer. During these times, I find myself reading over Facebook posts, Tweets, comments, e-mails, and many other outlets. 

The more I used these tools online, the more I notice how often grammar and spelling errors appeared. Now, it is almost "normal" to see these errors.When these trends began, spelling and grammar mistakes were often obvious. But I think something happens to us as we continuously expose ourselves to incorrect grammar and spelling. The mistakes become "normal" and if we are not paying attention, we may be teaching ourselves to read and write in this way as well. 

For example, how many times have we read a sentence like this:

"Your being silly."


"The dog chaces it's tale."  

(Bonus: How many errors were in those two sentences? Hint: The answer is not two.) 

The more we see and read errors like this, the less we notice them. With phones and texting, our kids are taking in this information constantly. 

As a mom of three children, including a teenager, I know it is impractical to suggest our kids text perfect grammar to each other. In fact, they probably look forward to a few minutes where they are not graded on their usage.

So, what can we do? Aside from running a militant grammar home, I believe the answer is simple. We need to ensure our children are reading more. We need to ensure they are not just reading the computer screen, but are reading novels, chapter books, and picture books. Our children should be bombarding their brains with as much literature as possible. 

Why? Because just like reading constant errors online trains our brain to see the errors as normal, the more we read literature and other published material, the better our language skills will be maintained and sharpened. 

One way to do this is to encourage our children to read 15-20 minutes a day. If they can and want to do more, fantastic! Sometimes you'll see that they read for 15 minutes and become engulfed in the book. Other times, they may be tired and have had enough. The important part is to get reading and make it a habit.

For great tips for encouraging children to read, visit Reading is Fundamental. There are great ideas and resources that will help with all readers. 

Share with me:

How often do you read? What do you read? Have you increased your reading this summer?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Summer Plans

We are well into the swing of things for the summer! School is out, the days are longer, and if we're lucky, we can sleep in a little longer. As the days of July dwindle away,  we approach August. This is usually when summer boredom begins to kick in.

So what are some ways to pass the time?


Well, since I'm an author and a teacher, you know what my first suggestion is going to be: READ! Yes, read. And not just the required reading from school. But also have your child read what inspires them. Have them get recommendations from friends. What are they reading? What books did they like? If enough friends enjoy reading,they can even set up a KIDS ONLY book club. If there's a book the group really enjoyed, encourage them to write a fan letter to the author. Who knows? They may get a response.

What can your child read about?

  • Sports
  • Biographies of favorite people
  • How To books
  • Scouting 
  • Favorite fictional series
  • Science fiction
  • Air and space
  • Picture books
  • Stars
  • Middle grade books
  • Famous literature
  • History of electronic gaming
  • Anything your child is interested in

My publisher has a huge list of books from many talented authors.


Check around your community for fun classes. Check local newspapers for suggestions. Ask around. Need to sharpen some basketball skills or acting techniques? Join a camp or program that focuses on your child's interests. If there was a writing intensive program near me, I'd be there with pen and notebook in hand!

Whether it is reading thirty books, cleaning their room, mastering a skill they've been working on, the flexibility of summer makes it easier to tackle some of those goals we let slide during the busy school year. What goals do you have in mind ? Start small and add on to your goals as you go.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

How Do I Get Published?

"How do I get published?"

If you have had experience in writing, you have probably heard this question before. As you may guess, there are several complicated factors that determine the answer. If you, like so many of us, are dealing with a recent "no," you might be wondering what happened.

It was a great article.

You were careful to avoid spelling and grammar errors.

You have a social platform, sorta.

So what could be the problem? Other than the big trap of not fitting in with the market, there are other obvious problems. Yes, I said obvious. So why blog about them? Because I've seen them happen over and over again. Many pieces do not get published because the submission guidelines were not followed. It is simple to avoid that problem, yet many of us run into it.

Why are guidelines important?

The guidelines give you every possible tip to get published in that market. Publishers have space requirements, deadlines, content matter, concerns about rights, and several other necessitates to put together that publication. If a publisher makes one exception, they need to do that for other authors to be fair. And that will just turn into a slippery mess.

Will ignoring the guidelines (or worse - not reading them at all) effect my submission?

Absolutely! An editor can tell who has read the guidelines  and who has not just by the cover letter and the format of the submission itself. Did the author use the correct font and size? Did they attach the submission in the e-mail or did they paste it in the e-mail? Was the author supposed to send a bio? What about a bibliography? Did the subject line in the e-mail match the instructions from the guidelines so it would not get lost? These are just the beginning steps of opening a submission. However, if an editor sees the guidelines weren't followed this far, they already may have a "no" on their mind. You could be the most experienced author, but if the guidelines are not followed, the odds are against you.

A Clear Example
For example, I recently accepted a submission for My Light Magazine from a new author. I already knew just by opening the e-mail that the author read the guidelines and did the research necessary to acquire publication.That spoke more to me than any cause the author could have made for their work. They showed respect for their work and my work by thoroughly following the correct avenues.

The guidelines are just that: guides. They are your guide to publication.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour

The Writing Process Blog Tour

Margot Finke tagged me in the Writing Processes Blog Tour. In this tour, you answer four questions on the writing process, post them on your blog, and mention who tagged you. Then you tag three other authors who have agreed to do the tour in your post. Unfortunately, with this being a holiday week, I didn't get many responses, but I did hear from my writing pal Donna Shepherd who was excited to participate. Be sure to visit her blog via the link at the end of this post.

So, here it goes! My answers about my writing process:

What am I working on?
I am always working on the content of My Light Magazine. I also have 2 book projects in the works, 2 works in progress and am toying with a chapter book idea. Yes, it may not seem like I’m writing much as I go through my day, but I am.

Why do I write what I do?
Interesting question. I write what I do because I can’t avoid it. Does that make sense? When an idea pops in my head it does one of two things.  It disappears faster than the snap of your fingers, or it haunts me. The story idea will linger in my head – especially if I can’t write it down right away. Every once in a while when I think of something else, BING! The idea returns. That is usually the cycle until I can get to my desk or any piece of paper sitting around.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Each story I write has a specific goal to reach or purpose to it. All of them started out with the thought, “Hmm. There should be a book about this topic.” Angel Donor is a very special book designed to help children in need of an organ transplant.  Teresa’sShadow started out as a bedtime story, but turned into much more when she learns about friendship and fear.

How does my writing process work?

Right now I work full time, so I mainly write on the nights and weekends. That is a tough schedule for me because I do better when I write in conjunction with my inspiration.  When I write, I like to capture a “snapshot” of my idea along with the emotions, settings, senses and details that hit me.  I have been known to doodle story notes when away from my desk. In fact, I think I have a napkin in my purse somewhere with another story idea. So, stay tuned!

Who’s up Next

Children’s author Donna Shepherd 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grammar Help is Here

As an author and editor, I enjoy reading. I read everything.  I read Facebook posts, books, magazines, articles, and submissions for My Light Magazine. I will read anything just to read. I have been caught reading notices on the refrigerator (that I've already read a hundred times), cereal boxes, every memo my boss sends out, and notices posted at work (ones that are usually ignored by everyone else). I don't just skim these. I read them. Some people are addicted to T.V.  The addiction for me is reading. 

As a result of all this reading, I've come to accept that I love the written word. The greatest gift I've ever been given was the ability to read and write. My life would be missing something without these abilities. Because of this, some of my favorite Facebook pages are pages such as Grammarly and Grammarcheck.net  I enjoy reading the writing and grammar tips. 

There is a downside to all this. As I venture out in the world and read away, I notice many grammar and spelling mistakes. It happens everywhere. I've seen it in professional presentations and many other unexpected places.  I know I am far from perfect. I bet some of my grammar friends could pick out a few mistakes in this post alone. The small and hard to miss mistakes are not what I'm referring to now. I'm talking about blatant "their" for "they're", general subject-verb agreement, and obvious spelling errors. I am often tempted to point out the errors I notice. I don't do it, but I want to. Then, I remember to keep my inner editor in check. 

What about you? How often do these errors drive you to the brink of insanity? 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The World of Writing Distractions

I saw an awesome image by Zachary Petit about all the crazy distractions we writers delve into once we actually put that BIC ("butt in chair"). Head on over to view the infographic and see where you fall, after reading and commenting here, of course.

The graphic is amusing to most of us because it is something we can relate to. This got me to thinking: Why do we procrastinate so much as writers. We LOVE our craft and we love everything about the writing world. So what about it makes us get distracted?

To start, writing is tough work. We love it, but it is hard - even for those of us who are quite gifted in this area. It can take a while to get your brain working, which probably explains the massive amounts of caffeine we find irresistible.

Then there's the writer's block. No matter what we do, we've hit a wall. Really, the best thing we can do is to keep writing. Add another word. Take it one word at a time. Often though we tend to allow the distractions to enter:  "I'll just take a small break while I check my e-mail, roam Facebook, tweet how horrible writer's block is..."

But there may be a glimmer of hope to us procrastinating writers. For some, the distractions aid in the thought process. How many times has a plot twist or story idea hit you while you're doing the dishes or taking a shower? How many times while playing a game with your child have you thought, "You know, if this happened and then that happened, I'd have a great picture book!"  How many times after googling about writing did you find one sentence that inspired you? This blog post alone was inspired by an image someone posted on Facebook. Something stirred in me and I dropped everything to get the post in. (Being a mom too, I had to pause here and there to feed the kids, but it got done. )

So, maybe there is a method to this madness and that is why we not only are able to laugh at ourselves, but also embrace our distracting habits.

Now, stop procrastinating and get back to work!

Happy Writing!

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