Sunday, March 30, 2008

Double Review: The Misadventures of Rooter & Snuffle and On the Go with Rooter & Snuffle, by Shari Lyle-Soffe

The Misadventures of Rooter & Snuffle
Written by Shari Lyle-Soffe
Illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier
Guardian Angel Publishing
Print ISBN: 978-1-933090-88-7
Ebook: 978-1-933090-43-6
Copyright 2007
Ebook and softcover, 24 pages

This is a delightful picture book sure to be loved by young children! Composed of three different stories and an activity section, The Misadventures of Rooter & Snuffle will keep kids entertain for a long time.

"Share, share, share! Why do I always have to share?" says Rooter, the oldest raccoon brother, in the book's first story, "Rooter's Rule". Rooter is supposed to share his acorns with Snuffle, his little brother. But why should he? It isn't fair... or is it?

In "Danger at River Bend", Rooter tries to teach Snuffle how to skip rocks in the riverbank... a dangerous place where they have a fright! If only they had listened to their mom!

In "The Search", Rooter scurries from the campsite in search of his favorite meal, butter beans and ham. In doing so, he loses sight of his little brother. Desperate, he forgets about food in order to look for Snuffle.

The stories are engaging and the artwork vivid and vibrant with bright colors. This is a great book to read to kids at bedtime, one that will not only teach valuable messages but also induce happy dreams. The activity section includes a word scramble, wordsearch, counting, and picture seek & find.

On the Go with Rooter & Snuffle
By Shari Lyle-Soffe
Illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier
Guardian Angel Publishing
Electronic ISBN: 1-933090-51-0
Print ISBN: 978-1-933090-51-1
Copyright 2007
Ebook and softcover, 24 pages

On the Go with Rooter & Snuffle is a delightful children’s picture ebook featuring the adventures of two very cute raccoon brothers. The book contains three short stories.

In “Why Our School Stinks,” Rooter’s little brother Snuffle has just started school. Rooter, who used to love school, now hates it. It isn’t fair that Snuffle is getting all the attention! But when Bully Bear starts bothering Snuffle, Rooter comes to the realization that love is more powerful than jealousy.
In “Follow a Star,” set on Christmas Day, the two raccoons venture into the winter forest to bring presents to Grandpa, promising their mother to come home before dark. However, once at Grandpa’s house, they forget about the time while listening to his stories. On their way back home they get lost in the dark woods. How will they find their way back? Could they maybe follow the star just like the shepherds did on the first Christmas?

In “Something is Fishy,” Rooter and Snuffle, all ready with backpacks and gear, go ice fishing for their mother’s birthday dinner. On the frozen pond they meet a friend, Fritter, who joins them in the fun. However, Fritter isn’t happy when the two raccoon brothers get lucky catching all the fish, so he decides to steal… and it’s up to Rooter and Snuffle to make him realize that with a little faith, there’s no need to steal at all.

These fun, heart-warming stories will be enjoyed by children and adults alike. This is a great book for early readers to read by themselves, or for parents to read to youngsters at bedtime. The illustrations are attractive and colorful and well represent the characters and settings in the story. My only complain is that I would have liked to see more of Scott Collier’s illustrations! This ebook (now also in paperback) is available in flip format, which gives the feeling of a real book as the pages are flipped over with only a touch from your keyboard or the click of a mouse. A fun, delightful way to introduce your young ones to the computer while stimulating their imaginations and improving their reading skills.

These titles are available from the publisher, your favorite online retailer, and from brick & mortar bookstores.

Visit the author's website.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Guest Post: TEN BOOK SIGNING TIPS FOR THE TIMID, by Shari Lyle-Soffe

Children's author Shari Lyle-Soffe had a very succesful book signing recently. In this guest post she shares her experience and offers some helpful tips....

Shari Lyle-Soffe
When I decided to write for children I read every book on the subject that I could find. Even then it took me ten years to get a picture/storybook published. Now my book is in print with two more books on the way and it is a whole new ball game.

Now I need to wrap my mind around the finer points of book promotion. When your book hits the stores you don't have ten years to learn the basics, you have to be prepared to hit the ground running. My first promotional attempts took place at my church. Why? Because I have a lot of friends there and a very supportive pastor.

This will be lesson one in book promotion, book signings:

Tip #1. Don't wait until your book is published to start networking. Be friendly with everyone and make sure they know you write for children.

Tip #2. When you approach the book store owner be confident. You are not asking for money you are offering to help draw customers into their store. Offer to do a book signing. Ask what you can expect from them. Ask what they will expect from you.

Tip #3. Print up flyers for the store to hand out. Print posters for their windows. Hand out flyers at any organizations you belong to (church, clubs, places where you volunteer, work).

Tip #4. Contact the local radio station, television station, and newspapers and offer to do interviews. Contact the book store and keep them informed of the publicity as it is set up.

Tip #5. Be cheerful, and confident. Remember no one knows you better than you do. In that case how tough can the interview questions be? Relax! You are an expert.

Tip #6. Arrive at the bookstore a few minutes early so that you can set up. Dress like a professional and do not act like a diva.

Tip #7. Be friendly and respectful to the store employees. Learn and use the employees names. After the event be sure to thank them all for their help.

Tip #8. Have a drawing for something mailable. This will give you a reason to gather names and addresses for your mailing list. I gave away a modest book store gift certificate. Give away free bookmarks, or coloring pages, or whatever will draw attention to you and your books. Offer them to everyone even if they are trying to ignore you. People like to get free things.

Tip #9. Decorate your table with things that link to your book. A brightly colored tablecloth with get attention. My book is about raccoons so I brought stuffed and plastic raccoons to attract attention.

Tip #10. Be sure you bring enough pens to autograph books, and a scratch pad so that people can write down the name they want it made out to. Don't guess at the spelling. Bring extra books in case the book store runs out. Have the cost information handy just in case. Most of all, have fun!

(c) 2008 Sharon A. Soffe

Shari Lyle-Soffe is the author of the delightful Rooter & Snuffle series, featuring the escapades of two very cute racoons. Her books include The Misadventures of Rooter & Snuffle, On the Go with Rooter & Snuffle, and the upcoming Trouble Finds Rooter & Snuffle. Visit Shari's website and blog. Listen to an audio interview with Shari at BlogTalkRadio.

Look for my review of The Misadventures of Rooter & Snuffle and On the Go with Rooter & Snuffle on my next post!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Book Review: Knowing Joseph, by Judith Mammay

Knowing Joseph is an engrossing, touching book about a young boy trying to deal with his 6-year old autistic brother.

For 10-year old Brian, living with his brother Joseph isn't easy. Joseph doesn't play with other children, screams when something bothers him, and constantly needs special attention. To make matters worse, Mom and Dad are so preoccupied with Joseph's ups and downs that they hardly have the time to pay attention to Brian, which isn't fair.

Yet Brian tries to do what's best and always tries to make Joseph comfortable and to protect him from the school bullies. But does he really know Joseph?
Then one day at the beach, during a family camping trip, Brian meets an older boy who enlightens him about autism. He not only opens a whole new window of knowledge for Brian, but for other children as well. As a result, Brian and Joseph become closer than ever.

Later, back at school, the children are given an assignment. They must work in groups and make a presentation on their chosen subject: children with disabilities. To Brian's chagrin, the teacher announces that the class' bully must be part of their group. As the children make their presentations, it becomes obvious that the class bully has some special needs as well, not unlike those of Joseph, the boy he had been bullying all along.

Knowing Joseph is a must read for children ages 7 and up. In an engaging style, Mammay teaches the reader what autism is all about, especially how to treat children who have this disability. She does this by presenting the characters and the story, not by preaching, which is why this novel will be enjoyed by middle readers. The plot is interesting and compelling. The dialogue, characters and plot will appeal to young readers. Ultimately, it is a book that not only informs, but one that teaches the true meaning of kindness and compassion.

For more information about the author and the book, visit Judith Mammay's website

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Interview with Children's Book Author and Freelance Editor Margot Finke

Author and freelance editor Margot Finke talks about her upcoming book, Rattlesnake Jam, as well as the difficulty of writing picture books and their future within the children's book industry.

Welcome to my blog, Margot! It's great to have you here. Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

Yes. From childhood I scribbled down story ideas and wrote short stories.

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

Guardian Angel Publishing will be releasing my picture book, “Rattlesnake Jam,” in the first half of 2008, in soft cover and CD. This rhyming romp tells about Pa catching rattlesnakes for crazy Gran. She cooks and bottles them as her “cure all” jam, but Pa longs for rattler served up on rice – just once! Preview here. Artist Kevin Scott Collier’s illustrations are just crazy enough to make kid’s eyes pop! “Rattlesnake Jam” will be available from Amazon, the publisher, and through my website.

Tell us about your children's books.

I have a rhyming, 6 book series, available on CD and download. Fun and educational, they tell about animals from the U. S. and Australia. Purchase through the BOOKS page on my website - Publisher: Writers Exchange.

Two of the illustrators for this series live in Turkey. One speaks no English, and has no computer. The other has a little English,andt does use a computer. Both are celebrated illustrators and artists in Europe. Thanks to e-mail, and a generous English speaking friend on a writing list, who acted as go-between and interpreter, “Kangaroo Clues” and “Never Say BOO to a Frilly” were delightfully illustrated. The other four artists come from various areas in the USA. They were chosen due to the marvels of e-mail and the Internet.

Kids who want to discover more fun information about the critters in this series, can go to either the "Down-under Fun” or the "Wild US Critters” on my website.

Some writers go on long walks, others keep a journal, write at a café, or listen to music. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?

Great writing thoughts usually pop into my head after I go to bed. I sneak into the bathroom in the dark, and close the door. I keep paper and pencil there – just in case. So, enthroned upon the toilet seat, I scribble down my ideas lest they disappear with the dawn. There must be something about taking a shower, and cleaning my teeth each night, that prods my inspirational juices to flow.

Are you a disciplined writer? What is your working style?

I got a late writing start, so now my kids are grown and on their own, I write every day in my office, slash flower room. This is where, every winter, I bring my delicate plants to survive the Oregon chill. My husband fitted Gro Lux lights to wall shelves, in what was once our family room. My plants and I enjoy a cozy winter together – helps mitigate all that gray Oregon drizzle!

Do you like to outline and plot ahead, or are you more of a stream-of-consciousness writer?

A general idea strikes me, and I develop it as I write.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

"Margot Finke’s World of Writing for Children” is my website. It has sprouted more pages on help for children’s writers than I can count - my BOOKS, Critique Service, Secrets of Writing For Children, WAHOO, School Visits, and much more.

What are you working on now?

Finding a publishers for two Aussie mid grade boy’s adventures, a ghost mystery set in Oregon, and a letter driven MG involving a Grandma and her grandson, and the troubling forces that draw them together.

What was your experience in looking for a publisher?

Writing books is the easy part. Finding the right publisher is frustrating. Lots of research, networking with other writers, and carefully reading many submission guidelines finally did the trick.

What was your experience in working with an illustrator?

Very positive. I found all the artists for my rhyming animal series through writing lists I am on. Our minds seemed to be in harmony. We swapped thoughts and ideas until each was perfected. I am thrilled with the resuls.

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share?

A good press release helped me get interviewed by a newspaper + photo. School Visits have worked very well so far, plus purchases through my website, and being a member of AuthorsDen and FaceBook. Lots of networking over the years, plus my “Musings” column, great reviews, and my Website, gives my name an excellent Google presence. I also sell my books where I do conference Workshops.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Read , read, read. Write, write, write. Go to conferences, and join a really good critique group. Stick-with-it-ness is vital.

What was your favorite book as a child?

Alice in Wonderland.

We hear again and again that picture books are incredibly difficult to write. Why is that?

Picture book writers need disciplined, sparse writing that makes the most of active and powerful verbs, and well chosen, evocative adjectives. The art of weaving in word clues for the illustrator, rather than whole sentences of descriptive clutter, is hard for many writers.

It’s all about choosing a few special words that paint unforgettable pictures in a child’s head. The craft of writing a really wonderful picture book comes with practice. Some writers “get it,” while others wisely decide their path lies with writing for older children.

How do you see the future of children’s picture books?

As long as there are children to delight and confound us, there will be picture books to do the same. In the near future, I think books read on light, easy to use, and affordable hand held readers, will come into their own. Kids today are computer savvy, and it is just a matter of time and technology, before books that talk and offer colored, animated illustrations, will be all the rage. The future is almost NOW!

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Someone wise once told me, “ Editors don’t make house calls!” Great advice.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guardian Angel Publishing has a new 'Health and Hygene' Imprint

Guardian Angel Publishing has a new Health & Hygene Imprint for kids. The first book, perfect for the soon-to-come summer holidays is OUCH! SUNBURN! and is already for sale in both electronic and print formats from the publisher and Fictionwise. This is a great picture book for teaching young children about skin protection and the dangers of sunburn.

OUCH! SUNBURN! was a Children's Fiction Fictionwise bestseller during February.

"I think this is a great book for not only kids, but parents who have children who hate to wear sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses when playing in the HOT SUMMER SUN." -VS Grenier, Editor, Stories for Children Magazine

The second book, just released, is titled NO MORE GUNK, and as you can guess from the cover, it teaches kids about dental care.

Both books are written by Donna Shepherd and illustrated by award-winning, prolific artist Kevin Scott Collier.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A very interesting article!

Hi all,

Foreword Magazine has a very interesting article this month about speculative fiction and the YA readership.

"The Horrible, the Haunted, the Fantastic, the Surreal: Speculative Fiction for All Ages Explores the Imaginable and the Unimaginable," by Heather Shaw

Read it here.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bellydancing Your Way to a Newbery

Bellydancing Your Way to a Newbery
by Cynthia Reeg

Here's my theory: A healthy writer is a happy writer, and a happy writer is a productive writer. And a productive writer will inevitably become a successful writer. I know. I know. You want to understand how bellydancing fits into the equation? Let me explain.

Blood flow to the brain, as well as various other body parts, is an essential element in writing. The more vigorous your blood flow, the more easily creative ideas start leaping from your brain to your fingertips and onto the page. It's really as simple as that. (Well, perhaps not quite that simple, but just work with me here.)

Writing in and of itself is a sedentary endeavor. Hours and hours plopped down in a chair can slow circulation to a crawl. Too soon your brain turns to sludge and your story comes to a standstill. How to remedy a coach potato brain? Get moving!

I know. I know. This is your writing time, you tell me. And there's too little of it to begin with. But sitting in your chair with your brain in melt down mode, hoping and praying that it will start up again as you blankly stare at the page, will not do the trick.

Bolt out of that chair and move those feet. And arms and legs. The more of you that you can get moving the better. If you've some housework to do (what do I mean "if"—just work with me here again,) then grab that vacuum and start hoovering like a robot on overdrive. Or shoot out the door and pick up the pace. Lap the block a time or two.

If the weather's bad, pop in an exercise video. Lift that leg. Tighten those abs. Or better yet, tune in some funky beats on the radio and tear up the rug in the living room.

TA-DA! This is when the bellydancing option comes into play. Bellydancing--the ultimate blood-stimulating workout. From the tips of your toes to the top of your gyrating head, you'll feel new life returning to your sluggish torso. Who cares if your shimmy is a little shaky today? It's all for a literary cause.

Essentially, it all boils down to this. Exercise whenever and however you can. The American Heart Association lists a number of amazing benefits from exercise in addition to increased energy.*

Look and feel better. (Wouldn't this come in handy when accepting your Newbery Award?)

Increase strength and flexibility (Think how many more books you could sign at your Newbery Book Signing.)

Reduce stress and tension. (Exactly what you'll need when you're behind schedule in meeting your editor's deadline for the sequel to your award-winning Newbery book.)

So the bottom line for a healthy, happy writer is to stay in shape—both literally and physically. Amp up your exercise mode, and your writing is sure to reap benefits as well. Think how much faster you'll be able type with Terminator arms. (Please, just work with me here.)

The End

*Cynthia Reeg is the author of Gifts from God and Kitty Kerplunking, both by Guardian Angel Publishing.