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Welcome To SORMAG's Blog

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


We currently have openings for REVIEWERS:

Urban Lit
Christian Fiction
Young Adult
Non Fiction (biographies, self help)
Ebook readers

If interested send the following:

Name/Address/ books interested in reviewing/how many books a month/sample review

We currently have openings for COLUMNISTS (open to suggestions)

If interested send the following:

Name/topic for column/sample column/

We currently have openings for GUEST BLOGGERS
(please look over our themes for monthly ideas)

If interested send the following:

Name/topic for guest blog/

We currently have openings for ARTICLES.
(please look over our themes for monthly ideas – word count 500 – 1500)

Submit a query letter/include topic and word count

If you’re interested in any of these positions please contact us at sormag@yahoo.com

Below are themes for 2011


DEADLINE – December 1st

DEADLINE – January 1st

DEADLINE – February 1st

DEADLINE – March 1st

DEADLINE – April 1st

DEADLINE – May 1st

DEADLINE – June 1st

DEADLINE – June 1st

DEADLINE – Aug 1st

DEADLINE – Sep 1st

DEADLINE – Oct 1st

DEADLINE – Nov 1st

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If interested send the following:

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

COLUMNIST: Are You On The Net

Are You Ready for 2011?

This week is perfect for sitting down and planning your marketing strategies for 2011.

First look at your goals for 2010

• Did you achieve the goals you set?
• Which ones did you not complete?
• Which ones did you enjoy?
• Which ones did you not enjoy?

Write down what you would like to achieve with your marketing for 2011.

From the goals you did not complete in 2010, choose the ones you would like to add to your 2011 list.
Make sure they are something you enjoy doing, or they will continue to stay on the list and not be completed.

Remember marketing takes time, you want to do things you enjoy.  You don't want to spend time doing things that give you a headache. Make it fun and it will go fast.

Break your goals down into bite size pieces for each month.

There are 12 months in the year, and I suggest you have something to do for your marketing for each month.

Here’s an example for the first three months of the year.

Goals for 2011

Blog tour
Radio Interviews
Meet New Readers
Book Signings
Start a blog

• Introduce myself to 10 book bloggers
• Introduce myself to 10 radio hosts
• Set up Blog
• Research conferences for the year

• Set up a 10 blog tour
• Answer blog tour interview
• Write blog entries for the month
• Network more on facebook

• Set up five book signings
• Set up blog entries for month

Making realistic marketing goals is a good way to keep you on track and help you reach new readers. Don't forget to add SORMAG to your marketing goals.

Share some of your marketing goals with us or ask a question to help you plan your goals for 2011.

Stop by next month for more information on online promotion.

Until then,

I’ll see you on the net.

LaShaunda C. Hoffman

LaShaunda is the creator of SORMAG – Shades Of Romance Magazine. She has 11 years of experience on online promotion, most she learned from trial and error. She has taught workshops on online promotion and is available for private online promotion coaching.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010


T.L. Clarke (TLC) is a middle-grade and young-adult author. Her debut mystery and adventure novel, THE SECRET OF THE SCARLET STONE (A Gabby Girls Adventure Novel) weaves a sleuth tale that embraces the true meaning of "Girl Power". The next installment of the “Gabby Girls Adventure” novel series will be released next year, summer 2011. TLC grew-up in New York and now lives in the Washington DC area.

Visit T.L. Clarke at http://tlclarke.blogspot.com


Can you help the Gabby Girls solve the clues?

The Gabby Girls are drawn together by the only thing that they have in common, which is the mysterious scarlet pendant they each possess. But things seem even stranger when they find a clue that tempts them with the answer to the question they have longed to know.
After all, Gabby Girls always stick together, and every day is a…Gabby Girls Adventure!

Book Trailer



How did you start out your writing career?

As a teen, I started writing whenever I had a spark of inspiration for a short story. As an adult the inspiration for writing THE SECRET OF THE SCARLET STONE came from my sense of adventure and also my almost geeky obsession with anything related to mysteries. I had been thinking about the concept of THE SECRET OF THE SCARLET STONE for a long time, jotting down characters and plots all along.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned a lot about balancing the intensity of the plot with the humor of the Gabby Girls characters in THE SECRET OF THE SCARLET STONE. I also discovered that there are a lot of helpful resources for writers.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted to write a fun mystery adventure novel with strong, interesting, multi-cultural characters that work together throughout the Gabby Girls Adventure. I also wanted to offer something totally different from what’s already out there in the publishing market right now.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

The “writer’s life” is exactly what I thought it would be. It’s a combination of writing and connecting with readers through social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) which to me is very important.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

Lara Croft from Tomb Raiders, Wonder Woman, Oprah Winfrey, they are smart, resourceful and witty. Patrick Jane from The Mentalist and Adrian Monk from Monk, they are brilliant detectives and very witty.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

That patience is truly a virtue; adversity is a stepping stone to success; that the publishing business is a roller-coaster filled with distractions/noise, so filter out the bad and revel in the good.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do…keep inspired, write a little every day and sharpen your craft.
Don’t…be discouraged by criticism, in fact, learn from it.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writing is about putting your heart-and-soul into your book(s) and there is a lot of work that goes into it.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best advice: Always stay connected with your readers.
Worst Advice: Write stories geared for the current/popular book trends (i.e. Vampires, wolves, etc.).

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

That I am a Zumba (salsa) dance class enthusiast.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

The intelligent, lively, attractive, and witty Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

I would recommend the following books for ages 9 - 12: The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz, The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney.

Oprah always asks, what do you know for sure?

That you should live life to the fullest….

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

In the next installment (book 2) of the “Gabby Girls Adventure” series, the battle against pure evil begins, friendships are betrayed, rivals bond, and powers collide. There will be more of everything…..more adventure, more mystery, and a whole lot of drama as the plot thickens between the Gabby Girls as they press forward into a new Gabby Girls Adventure. The next installment of the “Gabby Girls Adventure” novel series will be out next year, summer 2011.

How can readers get in contact with you?

They can contact me through my blog: http://tlclarke.blogspot.com/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/TLClarke_TLC
Facebook: Facebook - T.L. Clarke


I would like to giveaway a copy of my book (the paperback release of my book is January 27, 2011), a t-shirt and a key chain. The winner of this giveaway will be mailed their package after January 27, 2010.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

COLUMNIST: Building Colorful Characters

Building Colorful Characters—

The Literary Bones of a Story, Part 12

OMG, are your pockets feeling ho-ho-hum from the weighty holiday shopping you’ve been doing? Have you let yourself and your budget down with impulse purchases? Is your shopping list starting to haunt you back to Halloween instead of a Merry Christmas? Dreading the confrontation of a particular family member at dinner? Feeling a little BFF gift competition raging? Or has the economy made you into an award-winning Scrooge and you’re just counting the days that will shrivel the mistletoe and you can kick the holly? Don’t worry, there’s hope for you yet to fa-la-la-la-la and LOL with a bellow like Kris Kringle’s.

Writers, you can reclaim your prospective by being fierce with your pen and getting those work-in-progress characters into the persona you wish you were in: namely, in control and undefeatable. Here’s a creative challenge and therapy for you—get into character and become a sensational holiday character. List the qualities you feel make up the best holiday personality, someone in control of spending, gift-giving, and hosting. The television and theaters are filled with stories of holiday cheer and inspiration. Watch a few of those feel-good sagas and decide what made you laugh out loud. What made you feel happy for a particular character? What delights made their dining tables sparkle? How did their decorations speak to your eye? What problem, person, or situation did they overcome at last?

Jot down your own list of fantasy touches, mold them into a character, and be that goodwill person for a day. Are you now a Christmas leech, sucking up every tale and trick to make your loved ones’ hearts sing like a Christmas carol, with household esthetics that rival your neighbors’ holiday décor? Well, hold onto your reindeers, because now it’s time to switch it up and become the beast of the ball, making Scrooge look like a Christmas villain-intern. How deep will your growl be when well-wishers smother you with holiday cheer? What kind of garb will you adorn to swindle people into believing you are an advocate against peace on earth and goodwill to men? Not only do you have to throttle them with your voice tone, but your surroundings have to mimic the same. Can you fool people that think they know you into believing you have not only lost your holiday spirit but maybe even your mind?

Well, if you can’t convince an old friend that your hug seems like the squeeze of a harness and make them wonder “what’s up with you?” then you probably can’t win over a stranger with words that aren’t seducing them into believing your convictions either. If you can’t play a character, it’s likely you aren’t conveying your characters in any type of exciting color. That’s why I suggest you get into character. Take this literary juncture to another crazy height and story line a few of the following eccentrics. How about:

1. A character playing a writer portraying a character pretending they have money. Perhaps this person meets a stranger out of his or her league and lavishly spends all her savings on that person for the holidays just to impress him, and then has to break it off abruptly before being found out. The character then suffers from poverty and a lonely heart, ending up homeless and dreaming about being a writer who writes about a character pretending to have money.

2. Or how about a character that gets so stressed out by competing family members who annually vie for the title of the person that buys the most expensive Christmas gifts? Make this character lose sleep and money worrying about the night before Christmas when all through the house, everyone gathers at the home of a relative, opens up their competitive gifts, and either sneers or cheers at the offerings. Perhaps this desperate person will go so far as to steal expensive trinkets from a high-end department store in order to grab the spotlight, causing him or her to be thrown into jail and missing the whole sordid soiree after all.

3. Or sketch out a character that believes in giving back so much that he becomes overwhelmed with helping others to the point that he never gets to enjoy his own family functions. Unfortunately, while the city is giving him humanitarian awards for his charitable spirit and efforts, he becomes ostracized by his own relatives for being a super-sized do-gooder.

4. How about creating a man that believes in playing his seasonal part as a department store Santa so much that, against his doctor’s strict orders not to gain weight if he wants to control his diabetes, he purposely gains an extra thirty pounds just to be in character, ignoring the possible health repercussions.

Colorful people? Yes. Can you play any of them? Maybe. Mentally envision these scenes and write them to a finished story. You will find that getting into the spirit of your character beforehand will help you more accurately portray them on paper. A writer should take advantage of every avenue, utilizing things, places, and people that aren’t considered ordinary.

Furthermore, let’s forge back to an earlier character we’ve come to know a bit, a character whose persona reeks of prejudice, phobias, temperament, education, and various fears. When last we visited homeless vet January Frittmier, he was in a soup kitchen and had just ruffled the unfriendly feathers of a few notorious gang members …

January quickly began to sense the heat of rage that seared his back from the miscreants that breathed his immediate space. War was always about strategy; the mental weapons were always the deadliest, so he lined up his invisible bullets. Perhaps if he deviated from what his soul believed in and allowed himself to unwillingly wallow in cheerful verbiage about the impending holidays, even the monsters that lurked about could be lured into peaceful thinking and he could escape a physical assault. He reached deep into his soul, found, and exploded words of good cheer toward them all, managing to smear a smile but gave up no eye contact. The eyes are the window to the soul—he believed, and even he couldn’t pull off that type of hypocritical acting.

“Merry Christmas to you all. Figured some Scrooge antics would baste you all with a little heat and get a quick hoot outta yous. Jokes on all of yous. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

January snatched up his cane and waddled toward the door. No one heard or knew of the fire that raged within him and consumed his very being. If not for the fluffed up outcome, he would have cursed himself for betraying all that he stood for. But a man must live in order to fight another day, he chastised himself. He’d get his eventually he chuckled to himself. “Ho-ho-ho on that lie,” he smirked. He disappeared into the outside hustle and bustle of a world he feared wasn’t worth him.

As you can see, staying true to character, January only pretended to change. Writers must keep the characters’ personality in mind when traveling along with their story. Would you have believed it if January sincerely apologized and went on with his life without opposition? If you’ve been keeping up with our saga, your answer would be no. Though people change, can people like January change? Well, that’s up to you. Be my guest and continue this saga. I’d love to see what you creatively do with it. In the meantime, line up your own mental guns, arm your characters by playing them first in your head or in person, and then send them out from behind your cyber and paper curtains and let them meet and entertain the world head-on.

RIMJS, you must make your creations unique not only by facial and body distinctions, but with identity, believable characteristics, unique personalities, voice, language, dress, and surroundings. Putting yourself into your characters’ shoes will make their walk across your readers’ hearts and minds as believable and colorful creations, surviving the ho-ho-hum effects that come from less-skilled writing. Turn your readers into fans and give them the fa-la-la-la-la that will make them celebrate you and your work for seasons to come. Like Santa, whether you have them ROFL or CRBT is all in your sack of tricks. After all, only a good story and its characters will be remembered, so get your readers to slam your book closed and respond, “OMG!”

Wordsmiths, remember to e-mail me with your creations, and I’ll post them here for all to meet and utilize.

For your gifting, I’ll post a picture of your latest book and a link to your Web site.

Pens up! to building colorful characters the write way.

Rachel Berry has been gifted by our Creator to be many things; on the list of these blessings are daughter, caregiver, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, best friend, aunt, published author & poet, motivational speaker, radio talk-show host, mentor, columnist, and community leader.

Berry is proudly promoting her latest book, A Slip In The Right Direction, part one of a YA series.
To arrange speaking engagements, e-mail her at admin@blackpearlsunited.org. For book signings, please e-mail her at rachelwrites2@yahoo.com. To preview and buy her books, please visit her Web site at http://www.LuLu.com/RachelBerry &; http://www.rachelberry.webs.com/

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Monday, December 20, 2010


Born, bred and based in Trinidad, Joanne is a published children's author of six books and nine contemporary Caribbean stories with Macmillan-Caribbean; and the series editor of Macmillan's 'tween' novella series Island Fiction. Joanne is also the founding Regional Advisor of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Caribbean South Chapter. She is a dynamic storyteller, and facilitates both “Relevant Reading” and “Core Creativity” workshops for students and teachers; including volunteer readers of the Comforting Words Mobile library at Mt. Hope Children’s Hospital. She has worked with UWI’s Creative Arts Centre, and The Trinidad Theatre Workshop. As an actor, Joanne was last seen on stage in Walcott’s “Remembrance” which the Nobel Laureate himself directed in St. Lucia and in Trinidad; and on the small screen in the ever-popular Earth TV Caribbean soap series, Westwood Park. These days Joanne tours schools and libraries regionally, and recently visited St. Maarten and The Bahamas. In 2009 she authored a tertiary level course in Creativity for CREDI - Catholic Institute. Earlier this year, her young adult play “The Last of the Super Models”, which she also directed, was produced on a national stage at Queen’s Hall by St. Francois Girls’ College. In the 90s her company SUN TV LTD pioneered indigenous cable television in Trinidad and in 2003 created www.caribbeanchildren.com “The First Ever Website for Caribbean Children” . This year SUN TV launched its own imprint Meaningful Books with its inaugural title Pink Carnival. Joanne’s work is generously supported by the NGO, Creative Parenting for the New Era: "We are convinced that Joanne's focus on nurturing the emotional intelligence of children through her books is a powerful contradiction of the violence many children experience daily in their homes, schools, on the streets and in the media." Joan Bishop MA, CEO

Pink Carnival

In this concept picture book, “Small Man” and Dad go walkabout. He feels inspired by the colors of nature and chooses a pink hat. His father says “No! Pink is for girls!”…or is it? Pink Carnival offers sunny inspiration for kids and opens a door to meaningful conversations with interested adults. Set against the splendid backdrop of Trinidad's world famous carnival and using the radiance and delight of color, Pink Carnival gently addresses the issue of gender stereotyping. With his game of I Spy Pink, "Small Man", playfully debunks the bias in his father's mind. Carole Anne Ferris’s vivid photography celebrates the natural beauty and life-giving qualities of the Caribbean. (www.caroleanneferris.com)

Meaningful Books : Inspiration for Kids


Pink Carnival Children’s book trailer:


How did you start out your writing career?

My work as a writer began because I was a lover of books and enjoyed reading from as early as I can remember. I loved the solitude of it and the boundless nature of imagination. I could not articulate it until I was well into adulthood, but I felt clearly a question forming within me. “Why aren’t there any children’s books about the Trinidad world in which I live?” On my twelfth birthday my mother gave me a notebook. She had covered it herself in denim on which she embroidered My First Diary. The clasp was a denim loop and brass button. I have been writing daily for my own sanity and contentment ever since. As a primary school teacher in the 80s I would bring good calypso into the class room for study like Tambu’s “The Journey” and “Culture”; and as a children’s theater facilitator I wrote an interactive play called “The Island” which has now become my beautifully illustrated book, “Ibis Stew? Oh, No!” During the 90s after promoting home grown talent with SUN TV, I felt crushed by our lack of self love and wanted to continue the work in a way that allowed for greater personal and professional autonomy and independence. The dream of contemporary Caribbean children’s books came back to me. I approached an artist friend, Vanessa Soodeen with my ideas for a series of “I Am…” children’s books. We created three mock-ups and I put together a portfolio including our bios and whatnot, but before mailing it off I phoned Macmillan! Now you have to remember in 1998 there was no Google search; no emailing, texting and so on and everything I had ever read about the ‘do’s and ‘don’t’s of getting published strongly advised against disturbing publishers and editors with phone calls and un-agented submissions. I remember feeling pure creative desire and a profound sincerity powered by a gut feeling that it was what I needed to do in that moment. As the universe would have it the voice on the other side was Nick Gillard, relatively new on staff and a young publisher eager to discover and develop Caribbean. I simply introduced myself and announced my intentions to send a package. He politely confirmed the address. Six weeks later I received a letter saying that they wanted to license one of my texts “Go Barefoot”, but only to publish as a part of their Ready Go reading series for pre-school kids. They would illustrate and design it accordingly. At this point I felt elated for the opportunity but even more excited at the possibility that I could share it with others. I said I was happy to accept if they would allow Vanessa to illustrate the text again according to their guidelines for the series. If she was willing to paint a few samples on speculation, (i.e. no guaranteed pay unless they approved the work); and if she was willing to work ‘for hire’ (i.e. the copyright for illustrations in the Ready Go series are all owned by the publisher and the artist is paid a flat fee); they would consider her for the art work. Naturally, we both understood that it was a rare privilege to get a foot in an established publishing name like this. The rest is history. Vanessa and I created three books together and have both gone on to work with others and publish again and again.

What did you learn while writing this book?

A concept picture book is conceived more than it is ‘written’. It is about pictures first with concise, potent text. Even if you cannot render the visuals yourself having a clear understanding of elements, styles, colors, composition and so on, which will convey your story is vital. I learned that when the seed of an idea is ripe there are clues of readiness that prompt you to act. I had doodles of the idea for a few years. One publisher expressed an interest to include it as a part of a reading series but I really wanted more creative control. Then I met Carole Anne Ferris. Her soulful photography inspired me to think of Pink Carnival in terms of photo illustrations. To do that, I had to be willing to ‘write’ the visuals and text to some degree around her photographs. Luckily she has an extensive database of thousands of Caribbean images so the work was in paring down and selecting! Then I created a storyboard and we were able to cast and shoot the characters.
It all came together with tremendous ease and flow. The child in the story is so talented, we shot it in less than four hours. We had scheduled three days! Then Carole and I went about the work of honoring the carnival mas makers by getting their permission to use their costume images and in some cases to re-color them pink. Even though the copyright belongs to the photographer, we really took time to do every thing in a way that respects their work and are very pleased to have their support.
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

Pink Carnival is the inaugural title of a new imprint Meaningful Books. I want to use Meaningful Books, starting with Pink, to open doors for educating emotional intelligence in children and their grown ups.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Yes, freedom is sweet. I am learning to measure luxury in a different currency: flexibility and autonomy. My creative interests are diverse so I happily supplement my income with other projects as needed. I have promoted and sold a lot of Caribbean books as well, not just my own. Working as a freelance creative requires an independent spirit. I value that part of myself. Even if I receive more financial income from other sources I work actively within and without to keep my soul’s creative spark as my priority. I haven’t had glamorous illusions about it at all. I do what I love and am learning to do it more and more without the angst so typical and even expected of creative people. If you can enjoy community over competition, process over perfectionism, there is a healthy way through for the artist life. Something right always shows up as a stepping-stone marked ‘next’.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or TV shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

Well if you’ll allow me six:

Aging prostitutes Jean and Dinah from The Mighty Sparrow’s cross-generational hit calypso (soon to be film “Yankees Gone” see FB page of that name); sitting between them the Trini-Brit and desperate housewife Sabine from Monique Roffey’s White Woman on a Green Bicycle (Orange Prize nominee 2010). Across the table lets put the guys: seat Ti Jean from Derek Walcott’s play (which I am directing for St. Francois Girls College annual production 2011); then the blue, androgynous Loba from Jamaican author Michael Holgate’s, Moonbeam Award winning Night of the Indigo; and throw in Captain Bad the pirate turned watchman from my children’s book Ibis Stew? Oh, No! Just so he can survey them all about eating exotic meats and national birds while I serve them a vegan meal.

WHY? To keep it West Indian and relevant to my creative life now, to mix up the genres, age groups and all in the name of a chaotic Callaloo soup. I seldom invite anyone over for dinner, so if I get to do it in fantasy – let’s play!

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

Well the only place I feel to be is here and now. I am glad to be letting go of notions of ‘getting somewhere’ it brings clam and clarity to the creative process. I wish I’d joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators from the time I received my first contract in 1998. I spent a lot more time and money than necessary just learning about the business and legalities of publishing than necessary and did not have the benefit of community and networking that the SCBWI offers. I wish I had discovered Sol Stein on Writing long before I did, and had that feeling all through reading it.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Don’t aspire. Be yourself.

Do study and learn the craft and business of writing.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Whether I am lolling around or typing I am “writing”. Writing is always being conceived through the process of living. Inspiration is every and any where. When we sit to literally write it out we claim authorship of that direct experience and aim to communicate it with others. I hear people express judgment or even envy towards the apparently ‘easy’ rhythms of creative life. Not so! Artists often appear to be on a lark and so out of the 8 to 4 routine, but really, even if we’re in PJs at noon, we’re working! ( If you had said two things, I would add that I hate to be interrupted when I am actually typing at my laptop. It’s nothing personal when I say “ I need my space.”)

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best: It is a long slow process. Unless you’re in the 1% who is on the fast track, it is longer and slower than you think.

Worst: I never got any advice that I think was bad. Ultimately each of us is responsible for assessing points of view and choosing how to respond. I am grateful for different points of view even if they don’t sound true or right for me.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I like the question because nothing comes up right now and it makes me think “Hmm, I have to work on that…something surprising…”

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Anne of Green Gables, maybe.

Our theme for this month is Children’s Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

1. The Next Place, Warren Hanson – introduces the idea of eternity without religious words. I am so glad I got this book when my son was very small and we were not in an specific situation. Then the dog died and a few fish along the way. He is seven now and it is more serious for us since my beloved father is ailing. I am so glad we can talk about him going to “The Next Place” with such ease. It really is a blessing.

2. The Quiet Book, Deborah Underwood – explores emotional intelligence through the quiet moods children have.

3. The Top Job Elizabeth Cody Kimmel – There are no small jobs! A great way to reveal point of view and perception shifting to kids.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

One thing I know for sure is that change is constant.
As I mature I embrace this reality and it is no longer a threat to my sense of well being.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Coming Soon from Meaningful Books: "Please, Tell Me Where it Hurts" a children's book about feelings – Joanne Gail Johnson
Illustrations by: Vanessa Soodeen

How can readers get in contact with you?

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Friday, December 17, 2010


Sharon Burch is a music teacher, speaker, and author, Sharon Burch developed an effective method using fiction and fantasy to teach musical concepts to preschool through elementary-age students both in the classroom and at home. Sharon and Freddie share their interactive teaching methods in elementary music with educational groups across the country. Energized parents and teachers quickly realize the "magic of Freddie" - his uncanny ability to teach even young children musical concepts. Also an author and presenter, Sharon advocates the multiple benefits of music education in a child's brain development. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Truman University in Kirksville, Missouri, and a Masters' Degree as a Professional Educator from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. Sharon also holds a certification in piano instruction from the International Piano Teaching Foundation developed by Dr. Robert Pace. She has served as a vocal and piano instructor, and taught preschool through 8th grade general music and directed junior high and high school choirs. While she makes her home in the rolling hills of southern Iowa with her husband and two children, sailing is the family hobby. Someday they hope to sail the Sea of Music to Treble Clef Island!

The Freddie the Frog 4-Book Series Includes:

Book/CD 1: Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night

This book introduces emergent readers to fundamental music concepts in a fun and exciting way. In it, Freddie is a frog who lives with his parents on Treble Clef Island. He is awakened in the middle of the night by a strange thumping noise. Frog-eating crocodiles, a swinging rope bridge, and a humongous gray monster are all part of Freddie’s adventure as he explores the island in search of the thump. Through Freddie’s adventures on the island, the reader is introduced to the treble clef staff as a map of where Freddie lives. Readers are captivated as the staff comes to life with the combination of illustrations and enclosed CD narration and music. A bonus of two sing-a-long songs, “Froggie Went A-Courtin” and “Eli’s Hokey Pokey”, sung by Freddie and his friend, Eli, are included on the CD.

Book/CD 2: Freddie the Frog and the Bass Clef Monster

In this adventure, Freddie awakens from hibernation to discover he is not on his beloved Treble Clef Island. Freddie’s search for home leads him through Frog Land —a strange place full of bizarre creatures all pointing him to the Bass Clef Monster who “loves frogs.” Discover the dancing bees, a moonlit cocoon garden, the fire-breathing dragon, and dare to meet the Bass Clef Monster. Building on the first book Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night that introduces readers to the treble clef, the Bass Clef Monster introduces nine notes of the bass clef simply by playing the CD and turning the pages. The lines and spaces represent each part of this eerie adventure and the sound effects and music bring it to life. Sing-a-long songs included too.

Book/CD 3: Freddie the Frog and The Mysterious Wahooooo

In this book kids discover the tempos, rhythms, and beats of Tempo Island with Freddie and his best friend Eli the Elephant. It guides kids in playing rhythm instruments to the rhythm and beat along with Eli and Freddie who find themselves stranded on a nearby island. They follow the mysterious "Wahooooos" through the jungle and try to communicate with the purple elephant in charge. Will he help them return home? Echo, chant, and play along with Freddie and Eli to learn the beats and rhythms of Tempo Island. The audio CD includes the dramatized story, sing-a-long songs, and jam tracks to play your own created rhythm. Ages 4-9.

Book/CD 4: Freddie the Frog® and the Secret of Crater Island

This book teaches six note names and completes the treble clef staff that the first book in the series, Freddie the Frog and the Thump in the Night, introduced. Freddie and Eli discover a buggy world under the azaleas. The two friends join the Blue Beetle Bugs in their quest to find the secret on Crater Island, (middle C)! The Secret of Crater Island includes peek-through pages and the enclosed audio CD includes the dramatized story, sing-a-long songs, and jam tracks to play along with the 12-Bar Blues. Ages 4-9.

How did you start out your writing career?

My writing career began out of a "means to an end." I'm a music teacher who loves teaching kids through stories, songs and games. I created stories as a storyteller to teach music concepts and discovered they were incredibly effective. Writing a children's illustrated story book with a captivating audio CD was the best way to duplicate and share my teaching success with others.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Writing a book is like giving birth to a baby. It is exciting and only just the beginning of of a life long journey.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

The Freddie the Frog® books are far more than just another storybook. They captivate kids in the world of music, engaging them in learning through fantasy and interactive fun. Music is incredibly important in the mental development of children. We are doing our children a disservice if we do not have them engaged in learning music. The research and studies in the last 10 years all point to the increased activity and neural development in all parts of the brain through the study of music.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

The "writer's life" entails far more than creative writing. That's just the beginning. It is followed with speaking, author's visits, presentations, and research and development. I did not expect the opportunity to interact with the reader's. The Internet has transformed a writer's life. It is so much fun to bounce ideas back and forth. I created a Teacher's Test Team for new Freddie the Frog books and ancillary products. That feedback is invaluable. The reader's become part of the Freddie team of creators.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

Bobby McFerrin, I love his passion for music and genuine love of people; Winnie the Pooh, transparent integrity; Nancy Drew, focused drive and ambition ahead of her time; Barbara Streisand, charisma and stage presence; Betty White, great sense of humor and comfortable in her own skin. Incredible conversation around the table group of strong, independent yet accepting achievers.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

The amount of energy and time it takes; how much fun it is to go after a dream; how to live with passion. Life is a really fun adventure when you just "go for it" and ask yourself, "what's the worst thing that could happen?"

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Don't assume your work is finished when the book is written. It's only just begun. Do research your market niche and analyze the comparable books. Ask yourself, "Do I have something that is uniquely different that someone will want to purchase?" Does it meet a need or solve a problem?

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

It takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. Marketing and publicity is a necessary time-consumer. Non-writers assume you have all kinds of time on your hands and don't understand when you need to say "no" to volunteering.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

If you want a professional product, hire professionals to achieve the end result.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I love to sail.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Nancy Drew. Fearless, driven, passionate, and smart.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

The Jazz Fly; Mole Music; The Giving Tree.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

God is real. Evidence of His presence is everywhere around me and throughout unexplainable events in my life, including these books and this unplanned journey I am on. I'm wearing blinders and self-absorbed if I think otherwise.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

Freddie introduces kids to jazz through an interactive story! Freddie the Frog and the Flying Jazz Kitten, transports the reader into a where they only speak "scat" on Scat Cat Island, Mew York.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Sharon@FreddieTheFrogBooks.com, www.SharonBurch.com, and fun and games at http://www.freddiethefrog.com/

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

FEATURED AUTHORS: Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon

Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon met ten years ago while working together in publishing and became fast friends. Thrilled by the thought of collaborating on a book that imagined the childhood of an iconoclast of American letters, this novel has been a dream project for both authors. Zora’s life as both a field anthropologist and writer spoke particularly to Bond and Simon’s backgrounds.

T.R. Simon has an M.A. in anthropology, while Victoria Bond holds an M.F.A. in creative writing.

Zora and Me

Although a book for children, this is not a simple tale. Told from the perspective of Zora’s best friend Carrie, the first volume sees the two girls confront racial duplicity in a struggle to hold on to their innocence and protect their hometown. Many considered Eatonville, the first incorporated African-American town in the nation, a Black Floridian Eden. The town has its integrity tested, and ultimately its existence, when a young turpentine worker is found decapitated by the railroad tracks. His death coincides with Zora’s imaginary creation of a gator king that lurks in the nearby marshes waiting to steal human souls. As the two girls unravel the mystery of the gator king, they also stumble onto a complicated triangle fueled by lies, secrets and envy. They themselves become the key that unlocks the mystery, and the unlikely saviors of Eatonville; in the process, Zora learns that home is not only where you’re from but what you carry inside of yourself.

How did you start out your writing career?

VB: I think there are many starts to a writing career but not all of them lead to a substantial life in publication. For me, my interest in writing began in childhood when I was introduced to poetry. Yet another aspect of my writing career began when I was in college and began to take my talents as a writer and student more seriously. And the part of my career that led me to work on Zora and Me began in 2001 when I met my co-author Tanya Simon at my first formal publishing job. So, again, there are many starts to an endeavor like writing. What is truly mysterious about it though is where those many beginnings will lead, and if the internal rewards/journey will resemble at all how any writer’s life manifests externally.

TS: My writing career started in fits and starts. I’ve worked in publishing for the last 15 years so I’m very used to editing the writing of others. Over the last 5 years I’ve started writing more seriously—first for myself and then in collaboration with Victoria. I can still feel paralyzed by the blank page, but collaborating has given me the confidence to be more experimental. I don’t, for instance, think I could have finished a work of fiction on my own. It would have been too daunting.

What did you learn while writing this book?

VB: I learned that I can be a collaborator. I learned that my sense of home is central to who I am as a person and writer. I also learned about the generative power of the friendship I share with Tanya as well as the one depicted between Carrie and Zora in the book.

TS: I’ve learned that I am by nature a collaborator; it’s the process I enjoy most in writing. I also learned that creating characters is a lovely kind of friendship in which you’re always reminding yourself of the people you love as you bring their essence to your own characters. I came to love Zora herself more than I had previously, and that was already quite a lot!

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

VB: I think we both wanted to expose younger readers to Zora Neale Hurston. I think we also wanted to create a portrait of an artist as a young black girl that is both heroic and sweet. Zora is a genius, but she’s also a daughter, a best friend and a town treasure. I hope that our readers see themselves in Zora. And as a result, begin to see some avenues in their own futures in terms of their professional and intellectual development that might not have been easy to previously imagine.

TS: I wanted us to give young readers a story of unviolated black childhood. I wanted to share a love of nature, a curiosity about the intricate working of people and the complicated bonds they form. Most of all, as Vicky said, we both wanted to inspire young readers of all races to discover the works of Zora Neale Hurston.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

VB: Yes and no. I had never imagined collaborating before I met Tanya, so that’s been one of the unexpected treats. But I also didn’t really know how selfish a life it ultimately is. At least for me, my writing thrives when I’m effectively shutting the world out. I live in New York City and when things are going well I feel as if I’m living in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I don’t think I had any idea of how isolating it was really going to be.

TS: Yes. I’ve worked with writers for years, so I know how hard and lonely it can be. Even in collaboration there are whole chunks of time when you’re just with yourself, facing down the page, and grappling with the truth of who you are so you can really understand the lives of others and depict them convincingly. I’ve always been self-reflective and a bit solitary, so that part of writing suits me. However, I’m also desperate for feedback and I love talking about ideas, so collaborating with Vicky really gave me the best of both worlds.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

VB: Sula Peace, Jane Eyre, Buynum from August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Denver and Baby Suggs from Beloved. I would love to pick the brains of these characters about healing and moving on and independence. Except for Sula, all were experts of giving of themselves without losing themselves. This is a tutorial I desperately need.

TS: Wolverine, Robbie from Atonement, Son from Tar Baby, Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights, Leo Proudhammer from Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone. All fascinating men who’ve undergone radical power shifts only to suffer the pain of profound loss as the price of deeper awareness.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

VB: That more than anything writing takes time, lots of it. That every question I have contemplated some other author has answered, and in most cases better than I could ever dream of doing. And though that is the case, there’s no reason I shouldn’t strive to add a few answers of my own to the universe’s mix.

TS: Not to worry so much, to embrace every minute of the journey, and to recognize when I’m forcing a square peg into a round hole.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

VB: The do: be a slave to routine. The don’t: waiting for inspiration.

TS: Do write every day. Don’t demand perfection.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

VB: That it is a lonely strange endeavor to tell a story. That the stories we tell give something to writers, but they take something from us as well. For me, each project that I work on chips away at my personal savings account of fears.

TS: That writing isn’t about putting words on the page. That storytelling an elaborate game of chess where every move is strategic.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

VB: I’m actually not sure. What I can say is that all of the advice, for good and bad, shouldn’t stop anyone from writing and trying to get published.

TS: Best: Write because you feel compelled to, not because you’re focused on “selling it.” Worst: Advances define your worth.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

VB: I collect taxidermy and other dead animal paraphernalia bordering on the macabre: ostrich eggs, teeth, claws, that sort of thing.

TS: I watch Annie Hall once a year religiously.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

VB: Having had some distance from it, I think I’m actually the most like the character Mr. Pendir in Zora and Me. He’s a lonely visual artist that has made for his home in secret pieces that explore and replicate what he finds comforting and fascinating in the natural world. These days I feel most like myself when I’m working on random arts & crafts projects, irrespective of the results.

TS: Jadine from Tar Baby. Only I’d have the good sense to choose Son.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

VB: Please forgive me, but all three are by the same author. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volumes I & II and Feed by M.T. Anderson. All three of these books are different kinds of compendiums on the subject of freedom and what we owe our society, whether that debt be defined in civil or consumer terms. I can’t think of more thought provoking reading given the economic and technologically driven times we live in.

TS: Caddie Woodlawn, Octavian Nothing, and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

VB: I know for sure that I feel better about myself and my place in the world when I’m making stuff.

TS: I know for sure that I love the truth at any price.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

VB: It’s about the death of Zora’s mother coupled with Carrie’s entry into a love triangle.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

VB: Readers can email us by using the contact prompt on our site zoraandme.com.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Patricia Nmukoso Enyi

Patricia Nmukoso Enyi was inspired to write Marcus the Magician by her niece and nephew, Lulu and Kobi. She grew up in Nigeria, West Africa. The author is a nurse and lives in Pearland, Texas.

Marcus The Magician: At The Beach

With it raining nonstop for four straight days, brother and sister Kobi and Lulu are bored to tears, stuck inside the house with nothing to do. Worse yet, the electricity has gone out, so they can’t play video games or watch TV. So, at the suggestion of their father, the kids grab a book in the hopes of assuaging their boredom – but when they’re introduced to the inimitable Marcus The Magician, they soon find themselves swept up in a world of imagination beyond their wildest dreams...

Marcus The Magician: At The Beach is a superbly crafted tale of the wondrous power of imagination. In it, author Patricia Enyi invites young readers to “unplug” themselves from the electronic distractions (TV, video games, etc.) that confine their days and instead open themselves up to the unexplored beauty of the world around them. Just as Marcus ultimately shows Kobi and Lulu, there is so much more fun and enjoyment that can be derived from actively engaging in life, as opposed to wiling away the hours bogged down in rote, unimaginative routine. As such, Enyi’s lively tale offers a powerful, timely message of the importance of living life to the fullest every day. A highly recommended read.

How did you start out your writing career?

I started writing to relieve stress from work. I am a nurse.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That dreams can come true.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I want to encourage more kids to read.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Yes, I would really like to become a full time writer one day.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol, because I think he was a very lonely man. Sheriff Andy Taylor for The Andy Griffiths show, because he cared about people. Alice of Alice in Wonderland, because she needed a friend.And the Harts Mr. and Mrs. Hart of Hart to Hart, because they are interesting people.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

How difficult it is to get a publisher. Finding time to write. And how to overcome writer's block.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Always read over your writing and get an editor.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writing does not come easy.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

That I love to dance.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

My Book of course, Marcus The Magician. President Obama's book Of Thee I Sing. And What does love look like? By Janette Oke.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

Like the song said, I don't know much, but I know that I love to write.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My next book could be the second installment of Marcus the Magician on on wild Safari adventure or a romance novel, both of which I am working on right now.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I am on Facebook. And if they have something to say about my book, I have a face book page.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Frank Cottrell Boyce

Frank Cottrel Boyce is the author of two other books for children: Framed and Millions, which was made into a movie by Oscarwinning director Danny Boyle. Frank lives in England with his family.


Liam has always felt a bit like he's stuck between two worlds. This is primarily because he's a twelve-year-old kid who looks like he's about thirty. Sometimes it's not so bad, like when his new principal mistakes him for a teacher on the first day of school or when he convinces a car dealer to let him take a Porsche out on a test drive. But mostly it's just frustrating, being a kid trapped in an adult world. And so he decides to flip things around. Liam cons his way onto the first spaceship to take civilians into space, a special flight for a group of kids and an adult chaperone, and he is going as the adult chaperone. It's not long before Liam, along with his friends, is stuck between two worlds again—only this time he's 239,000 miles from home.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions and Framed, brings us a funny and touching story of the many ways in which grown-upness is truly wasted on grown-ups.

How did you start out your writing career?

My career began when I started writing bits of radio comedy but I first started to think about writing in Year Six (i.e. when I was 11). My best friend was away from school so I too the energy I usually reserved for making him laugh at the back of the class and poured it into a piece of written work instead. The kindly nun who was my teacher looked very surprised when she collected the work in - as though I had laid an egg - and she read it out to the class. That was the first time I noticed that if you put words in a particular order, that will make people laugh. It seems obvious but it's also very magical.

What did you learn while writing this book?

Wow! Great question. Well I certainly learnt a lot about space - which I've mostly forgotten now. I also learnt that if you want the ending to be a surprise to everyone then it should be a surprise to you too. So just keep writing and don't be scared and the ending will come.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

These are meaty questions! I want first of all to make people laugh. And second to make them feel good. It feels to me that life can be a big wide, barren desert and the point of writing is to show people where the oases are and make sure they spend enough time there, drinking the water and smelling the flowers and just admiring the wonderfulness of it all before setting out again.

Also in Cosmic, I wanted to remind people that mankind did once do this astonishing thing - go to the Moon. So perhaps we could do other astonishing things - like control our petrol consumption or provide fresh water for everyone on Earth.

If we can do something as amazing as that, then maybe we could deal with global warming and poverty etc. - we are amazing when we put our mind to it.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Not at all. I thought it would involve working on a whaling ship and fighting distant wars and starving in a garret. But in a way raising a family is a grander and more unpredictable adventure than any of those things.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

1 Flora Poste - From Cold Comfort Farm because she's the funniest person in a very funny book.

2 The Wil E. Coyote - boundlessly inventive, always optimistic, always wrong. We are twin souls.

3 Anne of Green Gables - that ecstasy! That despair! Those freckles. I love that girl.

4 Lisa Simpson - obviously.

5 Lester Freeman from the Wire - who I want to be when I grow up.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1 That all the time I thought my kids were not listening - they really really were and I didn't need to shout so loud.

2 That you shouldn't eat between meals. I'm sure someone mentioned this but it never went in.

3 You do your best work when you're having the most fun.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Read, read, read and then read some more.

Don't be in a hurry. The kindest thing about writing is that it allows you to stay at the table for a long time before you have to cash in the chips. You can publish your first book when you're very old (eg. Giuseppe diLampedusa, who wrote The Leopard).

It doesn't matter how long it takes, if you get it right then it was worth the wait (Huck Finn took fifteen years).

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

The unpredictability - the fact that you might write 7000 words one day and none the next and that the day you wrote none might have been much harder and more tiring that the day it all poured out of you.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

I'm not sure that anyone ever gave me any advice in fact! But here's some advice from me - do not think for one minute that you are going to have more time to write after you have turned professional. You end up going to meetings, giving talks, running charities, visiting schools and so on. Sometimes I think I had more time to write before I was a "writer".

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I bake bread most days. But I don't seem to be getting any better at it.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I was always very jealous of the Pevensie chidren in the Narnia books.

I always wanted to be Snufkin - the poetic wanderer from the Moomin books by Tove Janson.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

Anne of Green Gables - but you have to read it aloud to your kids as it's hard for them to read.

The Journey to Riversea Swooningly romantic Amazon adventure by Eva Ibbotson - who sadly died yesterday at the age of eighty five.

Can I recommend my own book Cosmic? I'm sooo proud of it!

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That I am loved.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

So scarey ... it's about a boy who is diagnosed with an unusual blood-related illness. He refuses to believe he is sick and insists that he has superpowers.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I guess via Walden in the USA or Macmillan in the UK (d.Kingston@macmillan.co.uk)

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Comic.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Bettye Griffin was told by her English professor that she had a gift for writing and might want to consider pursuing writing as a professional career. She promptly dropped out of college and started crafting stories...and just 22 short years later sold her first book. Bettye writes both contemporary romance and women's fiction. A native of Yonkers, New York, Bettye has also lived in Florida and Illinois, and now crafts her compelling, drama-filled tales from her home in the great dairy state of Wisconsin. Bettye thoroughly enjoys Wisconsin's contributions to the American diet and often nibbles on cheese while writing, and she celebrates a good day of writing by having a glass of the beer that made Milwaukee famous.

Since 1998, Bettye has written 6 novels of women's fiction, including Once Upon A Project (2008) and A New Kind of Bliss (2009); and 11 contemporary romances, including A Love For All Seasons (2007) and Save The Best For Last (2009). Her 18th novel, the contemporary romance The Heat of Heat, will be released in November 2010. Visit her web site at http://www.bettyegriffin.com/, and befriend her at Facebook.

Save The Best For Last

The author of the romance classic A LOVE OF HER OWN brings you a new, unforgettable love story. THE LAW AND THE LADY . . . Graphic artist Genevieve L'Esperance has got it all together, even by tough New York standards: A thriving career, a spacious Upper East Side condo, even a sort-of boyfriend named Barry. But the one thing she *doesn't* have is something Americans take for granted . . . and if she's found out it'll mean the end of life as she knows it. And now the law is closing in on her . . . . THE LADY AND THE LAWYER . . . Gen's friend Barry comes up with a solution and quickly moves her to a rented room uptown while he finalizes arrangements to keep her safe. While Gen is grateful to him, she can't help feeling that she's sold out her future. But then Barry's master plan gets delayed, and when she meets Dexter Gray, the struggling law student who occupies the other room on the floor, things *really* start to get complicated . . . .

Thank you Bettye for helping inspire SORMAG.  We appreciate you.

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Monday, December 06, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted

The novelist Lauren Lise Baratz-Logsted is the author of nineteen published books for adults, teens, and children. Her most recent books are The Education of Bet and The Twin's Daughter, a YA gothic mystery that Booklist says "...is rife with twists and moves swiftly and elegantly," and the sixth volume in The Sisters 8 series for young readers that she co-writes with her husband and daughter, Greg and Jackie Logsted. Lauren also pens the "Writer-in-Residence" column for http://bibliobuffet.com/.

Lucy Sexton is stunned when a disheveled woman appears at the door one day…a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to Lucy's own beautiful mother. It turns out the two women are identical twins, separated at birth, and raised in dramatically different circumstances. Lucy's mother quickly resolves to give her less fortunate sister the kind of life she has never known. And the transformation in Aunt Helen is indeed remarkable. But when Helen begins to imitate her sister in every way, even Lucy isn't sure at times which twin is which. Can Helen really be trusted, or does her sweet face mask a chilling agenda?
How did you start out your writing career?

By walking out of my day job of 11 years in 1994. I went home and, like Curious George, I sat down and began to write.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I was reminded how challenging it is to write suspense such that the reader will become confident that the ending is predictable, only to have it be anything but.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I wanted to give readers a glimpse into the identical-twin story from a perspective I'd never seen in fiction before, that of the child of an identical twin. I wanted to say something about how well we really know the people who figure most prominently in our lives. Mostly, though, I wanted to entertain people. That may not be the highest literary ambition, but in an increasingly disturbing world, sometimes that's all a writer has.

Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?

Yes and no. I always knew I'd love being a writer and I do. But what I didn't know before is how relentless everything having to do with the writing life is. If you're lucky you get to rest on your laurels for maybe thirty seconds before the next hurdle presents itself.

Which five characters (can be from books, movies, or tv shows) would you invite over for dinner and why?

Jo March from Little Women to talk some romantic sense into her; Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby to keep him out of that swimming pool; Kit from The Twin's Daughter because I have a crush on my own literary creation - he's the most purely noble character I've ever written; Nancy Drew because I could use a little intrepid girl power in my life right around now; Carly from "General Hospital" because I admire her moxie plus I'd really like to borrow that fake diamond ring.

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

How relentless it all is; how much distracting noise there is in the publishing world; how one letter from a little kid about The Sisters 8 can wipe away all the bad in a day - in the tech-era quest to reach as many readers as possible, it's easy to lose sight of that fact that just reaching one in a meaningful way represents a job well done.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do learn to take rejection and criticism well, and how to separate worthy examples of both from worthless ones. Don't ever forget that the only person who can ever really take you out of the game is you.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

That writers who write in the genres that aren't necessarily considered high-brow or who write books that fail to please on some level don't get up in the morning and say, "I think I'll string together 50,000 to 100,000 words - should be easy! - so I can take advantage of some poor saps." The overwhelming majority of writers are hoping to entertain and/or enlighten you and we are sorry when we do not.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

Best advice is The Five-Minute Rule, the idea that whether a review is a rave or a hate-filled pan, it deserves no more than five minutes of the writer's time and energy. The worst? It's a tie between "write what you know" and "show, don't tell" - both are so overused/misused as to be practically meaningless.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

Shoot pool.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

Lucy Sexton from The Twin's Daughter but that may just be because eventually she gets to kiss Kit.

Our theme for this month is Children Books. Can you recommend three books for children?

Picturebook: Dear Tooth Fairy by Alan Durant and Vanessa Cabban; chapter book: Esio Trot by Roald Dahl; YA: Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

That I love my daughter.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

In 2011, Book 7 and Book 8 will be published in The Sisters 8 series for young readers I write with my husband Greg Logsted and our 10-year-old daughter Jackie. And my next YA novel will be published, Little Women & Me, about a contemporary teen who discovers she has an unusual relationship with the classic Louisa May Alcott novel.

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Friday, December 03, 2010

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: God Loves Single Moms

God Loves Single Moms: Practical Help for Finding Confidence, Strength, and Hope

Teresa Whitehurst

Teresa Whitehurst knows what it's like to be a single mom. She faced many challenging times when money was short, when her back was aching, and when her spirits sagged from trying to "do it all" without letting anyone know she needed a little rest or assistance. Over the years she learned that both she and her children benefitted when she stopped trying to be perfect; admitted her needs, frustration, loneliness, or fatigue; and reached out to God and to supportive friends and family.

In God Loves Single Moms, she offers you down-to-earth advice on navigating the world of single motherhood with confidence and hope for the future. Packed with practical tips, smart strategies, and ways to improve your family's well-being, this book tackles your most pressing issues, like self-care, developing a support network, organization, finances, discipline, and more.

It can feel like you're struggling through life on your own. But you have a partner who wants you to succeed and wants your children to flourish. God loves you and wants to guide and support you every step of the way. Whether you've never married, you're divorced, or you've been widowed, you and your children deserve the best life has to offer. And while you may get weary, you need never feel alone.

Teresa Whitehurst is a clinical psychologist who provides counseling as well as personal and career coaching. She has worked as a psychotherapist for many years in private practice, at Harvard Medical School, and at Kaiser-Permanente. Whitehurst writes and speaks on parenting and personal development issues and is the author of How Would Jesus Raise Your Child? She is a single mom who has two adult daughters and two grandchildren.

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About Me

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I believe in promoting authors and their books. Let me introduce you and your books to online readers.

I'm also a happily married mother of three who's trying to break into the Christian writing field. The writing road can be rocky.

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Contact me at:lchwriter@gmail.com

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