Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cool Contest to Enter at Armchair Interviews


I just heard from Andrea Sisco at Armchair Interviews that they have a cool summer contest going on!

Here is the message by Andrea and Connie:

Announcing 2008 Contest: Summertime Blues For all you authors out there — or those who simply like to write --Tell us in fewer than 1,000 words (in any genre) a short story that takes place in summer. Our panel of judges will be looking for:
  • Good storytelling
  • Unique turn of words
  • Use these words: summer, hotdogs, campfire, “Kumbiah” and blues.
  • Well-written (grammar, word usage, etc.)

Winning story will receive $50 in prize money and the first and second runner-up will receive two books of our choosing. All three stories will be published on our site. AND you can list your winning honor on writing resume or book proposal.

  • Submit to as a Word doc (if Word not available, submit it inside an email)
  • 1,000 words maximum
  • Please underline the required words used (listed above)
  • Your favorite genre
  • On cover sheet, list genre, name, email address, mailing address

Deadline is September 30, 2008

Only one submission per person Winners will be notified after the judging decisions are made. Get writing, get creative--and don’t wait until September 29 to submit. And good luck!

Andrea and Connie

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Book Review: Frankie, the Walk n' Roll Dog, by Barbara Gail Techel

Frankie, the Walk n' Roll Dog
Barbara Gail Techel
Illustrations by Victoria Kay Lieffring
Joyful Paw Prints
Children's book, paperback, 49 pages
Age: 4 & Up

This is a beautiful, uplifting story about hope and overcoming challenges. It is also a brightly illustrated picture book that will touch and delight young readers.

Frankie is a miniature dachshund who lives a happy life with his beloved human parents and dog sister, a gentle chocolate lab named Cassie. Frankie spends his days learning to go potty, taking long bicycle rides with Mom, and visiting his favorite market, where he enjoys baked goods and flowers. He's the center of attention wherever he goes and kids love him. He also has two doggie friends, Olive and Baci.

For Frankie, life is beautiful, playing with his friends and soaking up the warm sun on the grass.

Sadness eventually knocks on the door: Cassie, his doggie sister, falls ill and passes away. But as it's often the case, the bad thing brings up a good thing, and soon Kylie, a labrador retriever puppy, comes into their lives. All seems perfect for a while...

Then the unthinkable happens: Frankie has a terrible accident. He suffers a spinal injury. Will Frankie walk again? Will he overcome his handicap? Will he be happy again?

Frankie's story is uplifting and inspiring! It is the perfect book to read to children in order to teach them not only how to overcome challenges, but also about compassion and the handicap. I found the illustrations, which appear to be computer enhanced, original and delightful in a simple, very modern way. The colors are bright and cheerful. This is the kind of story that may be enjoyed by both children and adults alike, especially by those people who love dogs. The book is longer than your standard picture book and has lots of text, so while you may not be able to finish it in one sitting as a bedtime story, you can read it to kids in short installments.

Book Review: What Dog Are You? Discovering Your Inner Pooch

What Dog Are You? Discovering Your Inner Pooch
By Lori Lebda and Tami Bergeson
Wing Span Press
Copyright 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59594-174-9
Paperback, 75 pages

Have you ever wondered which breed of dogs shares your personality traits or physical appearance? If you were a dog, what dog would you be? With the help of this book, you can find out the answer.

The book has three quizzes: Pooch-Onality (which dog shares your personality quirks?), Dapper-Dogs (which dog do you most resemble?), and Biscuits or Bones (which breed shares your same opinions?) The questions are fun and whimsical; the quizzes friendly and easy. My family and I had a great time doing the quizzes for each other and finding out the type of dogs each of us were. Once you add the result values, you go to the ‘Leader of the Pack’ score list to find out the dog that matches you and also see its picture (black & white drawings). Towards the end, there’s also a short section about the major dog groups and their characteristics.

Though the quizzes aren’t scientific, the book is amusing. My ten-year old loved it and brought it to school the next day to share with her friends. An entertaining, fun book for family and friendly gatherings! If you love dogs or own one, you’ll want to add this little pamphlet to your shelf.

--Mayra Calvani, Mayra’s Secret Bookcase

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Interview with Kamilla Reid, author of The Questory of Root Karbunkulus

It's a pleasure to have you here, Kamilla. Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

Well, I remember I was eight years old and we were still living in the orange and white house. We moved around quite a lot and that's how we remembered our homes, by their colors. So, it was while living in the orange and white house that my teacher gave us an assignment to write a story. I cringed at first because it meant serious interference with my playtime, in particular with Terry M, my puppy love (despite the fact that he liked Jamie but alas, another story).

Anyhow, being the keener I was back then (what happened?) I got to work on my story that very first day after school. And never stopped. Suddenly, playtime didn't matter. Nor did supper or gasp! -Terry M! All I wanted to do was continue with this wonderful feeling of creating. I wrote and wrote and wrote. And then I asked my teacher if I could also draw the pictures.

When my 'masterpiece' was completed I got an A+ and my teacher sent it in to Owl magazine, which published it. After that I was hooked.

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

I had the idea for DréAmm, the location for my book many, many years ago and because I was involved in live theatre I wrote it as a musical. But I never really liked the feel of it in this format. It felt limited. Plus, I hadn’t quite come into the ‘hook’ yet, that thing that made me go “yes, this is it!” It wasn’t until years later when I caught a snippet of that TV reality show “The Amazing Race” that I finally got that ‘aha!’ moment. I loved the idea of teams of kids all racing against each other in a glorified kind of scavenger hunt to find something very, very important. DréAmm then became a magical land where virtually anything could happen. That’s when the main character, Root Karbunkulus just showed up and showed me around. Of course then the plot got really got good with all sorts of agendas going on, personal and otherwise. In the end, the name ‘DréAmm’ stayed but everything else was ditched.

Around this same time I was leaving the theatre and facing a new role as Single Mum; the perfect combination for finally doing that thing that you promised yourself that you would do but never did.

Tell us about your children's books.

The “Questory of Root Karbunkulus” is a teen fantasy series of six books. Each book involves a race for a new item of great importance, with a team being eliminated at the end. Here is a brief synopsis:

Young Root Karbunkulus gets an invitation to participate in 'the coolest scavenger hunt of all time!' Finally, her chance! She can escape the Aunts and prove once and for all there’s no stinkin’ “L” on her forehead! So what if she's up against hundreds of other kids. It can’t be worse than murder ball. The rules say teams of three. Okay, okay her appointed team mates, Lian and Dwyn are screws-in-the-temples annoying...but livable...and really no worse than Goatface Kor or Hilly Punyun who, forget the panties, has a tiara for each day of the week. More rules: Can't use magic on competitors. Doh! Oh well, at this point her magic is of the non-existent variety anyhow so…next! The first item up for grabs is the Miist of Kalliope, apparently some dead magician's elixir. No prob. But wait. Out of hundreds of teams, there are only six of these Miists to be found? Leaving only six teams left to go after the next item? Then five, four, three, two…woah...this could get ugly....hmmm...compete and win...or go back to exfoliating those hard, crusted entities called Auntie Octavia's feet?
Root Karbunkulus accepts the invitation. It will be a race of many, many hated things. But it will also be a contest of courage, friendship and the rising of soul. Within it Root will learn the terrifying truth behind the mysterious items. She will also discover, to her horror that she is not a player in an innocent kid’s race but a pawn in a vicious adult game

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?

If ever I’m feeling kind of blocked I have a bath. I’ve come to know now that a relaxed mind is a creative mind. So when I’m trying too hard I just plop in the ol’ tub with a bit of lavender and almond oil and it starts flowing again. Of course then I have to jump out soaking wet and get it all down J A morning jog with my two pooches is great as well.

Describe your working environment.

I like quiet, away from synthetic noise. I live right on a lake and so I throw my windows open and invite the sounds of geese and ducks and grebes and chickadees and robins in. This is the perfect peaceful, creative environment for me.

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

Yeah, I’d say I’m pretty disciplined. I get up most days at 4:30 or 5am, jog around the lakes with my dogs and then get to writing. I love writing in the mornings when I feel most refreshed and in tune with myself and my work.

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

I absolutely have to work out the plot, all the plots ahead of time. So, before I even started book one I had to work out every major plot point and every main character’s arc for all six books first. Sometimes I have no idea what the event specifically will be, only that something has to occur that will plunge so-and-so into emotional turmoil or great joy or even death…that sort of thing. But even in the forging of the plot I feel as creative as when I am writing or dialoguing detail. It all melds together with each level getting more and more specific. I love it! It’s like when I was writing and directing for theatre from scripting, to rehearsals, to decorating the set to honing the timing down to within a second. Every bit as important and exciting.

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

Oh yes! I have an amazing website that will blow your socks offJ. It has my award winning book trailer and all sorts of very cool things including a forum and downloads and contests and reviews. The graphics and music are truly incredible. It was an absolute blast to make and best of all, kids love it! They can order the book from there, too.

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

I love hearing from readers and post many emails on my blog. Come and join me there!

Thank you so much for granting me this time to share with you and your readers. It was a thrill and a pleasure.

Thank you, Kamilla! And good luck with your book!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Book Review: Trouble Finds Rooter and Snuffle, by Shari Lyle-Soffe

In this the third book of the Rooter & Snuffle raccoon series, Soffe gives us three more delightful short tales, each with an important message.
In "My True Friends," Rooter falls under the bad influence of Twitcher, the bully rabbit, and turns his back on his friends. Fortunately, this new attitude of his doesn't last long and he's able to realize what a true friend means. More importantly, he does something about it.

In "The Pity Party," Little Snuffle is feeling sorry for himself--is having, in fact, a pity party. Luckily, Rooter makes up a new game to help his little raccoon brother regain his confidence. Rooter reminds him that we all have our special gifts, we just have to find what those gifts are.
In "Yes We Can," Mrs. Quackers the duck is in serious trouble, and it's up to Rooter and Snuffle to help her and her baby ducklings. When they don't succeed, however, they must get the help of Slappy Beaver. As it turns out, it was a piece of garbage what almost killed the mother duck. This story teaches how we can protect wild animals from getting hurt by simply throwing the garbage in a can instead of leaving it everywhere for creatures to find. It is a story that teaches responsibility and a love and respect for animals.
Whenever I read the words "Rooter & Snuffle", I know I'm in for a good time. I have read all of the books in this series and enjoyed them all. What I like most about this author is that she teaches Christian values without being 'preachy'. The short tales are fun and engaging, and Collier's bright illustrations a symphony of colors on the pages. The expressions on the animal faces are just darling, transmitting their emotions to the reader. If you have young children (3 & up), I can whole-heartedly recommend this series!
Book Info:
Trouble Finds Rooter and Snuffle"
Author: Shari Lyle-Soffe
Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-933090-85-6
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-933090-72-6
Paperback, 19 pages, $9.95
Suggested age: 3 (read to age) to 9 (read alone)

Book Review: Maybe We Are Flamingos, by Safari Sue Thurman

Maybe We Are Flamingos is an adorable picture book about two baby flamingos who are troubled by the way they look and wonder if they're in the right flock.

When baby flamingos Flora and Fernando are born, they're surprised to see that, while all the other flamingos are pink, they are white. How could this be? To make matters worse, they later turn grey. Is something wrong with them? Why aren't they pink like the other beautiful flamingos around them?

Full of fear at what the possible answer might be, they decide to ask their mom.

To their delight, they find out that it's only a matter of time before they'll turn pink like the others, and that looking the way they do now is completely natural.

Later, they also learn why flamingos are pink, making this book not only entertaining but educational as well.

In sum, this is a delightful and deftly written picture book that young children ages 3 and up will love to listen to again and again. Thurman chose each word in the story carefully, the prose flows so well. Collier's illustrations are a splash of color on the pages, transporting the reader to a warm, tropical place. Maybe We Are Flamingos would make a beautiful gift to any young child and is a sweet book I'd highly recommend to add to your child's bookshelf.
Purchase and watch the trailer here.

Book Review: Rainbow Sheep, by Kim Chatel

Rainbow Sheep is an original, sweet story about a little shepherdess called Genevieve and her flock of sheep.
Genevieve is troubled because it has rained so much lately that the sky is always grey. When she tries to get the attention of the rainbow, she sees that its colors have faded and that it is sad. It has lost its will to live and love, its passion for beauty and life. Only by regaining hapiness will the rainbow shine again in all its glory. But how will Geneive bring joy back into the rainbow's life? You'll have to read the story to find out, and also to find out how the little sheep end up being as brightly colored as the rainbow.

I found this to be an usual story with surrealist elements. Chatel's language is lyrical at times, blending beautifully with the soft fantasy elements of the tale. The story also has the tone and cadence of a legend. Another aspect I found most original is that instead of illustrations, Chatel uses sculpted wool to create the artwork. This technique is known as needle felting.

I found myself engaged all through the book not only with the story, but also with the interesting wool figures. The colorful little sheep will be loved by children and the underwater scenes are especially bright and lovely.

Rainbow Sheep is a great way to introduce kids to this new craft. At the end of the book, you'll find descriptions, demostrations, and a glossary on needle felting. This is a children's picture book that will be enjoyed by adults and children alike, and one that will make a valuable addition to any library or school bookshelf.
Watch the book trailer and purchase here.

Product Info:
Rainbow Sheep
by Kim Chatel
Illustrated by Kim Chatel
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
ISBN-10: 1933090847
ISBN-13: 978-1933090849
Copyright April 2008
Picture Book, fantasy fiction/arts & crafts nonfiction
Paperback: 24
Retail Price $10.95
Reading age: 4 (read to by adult) to 10 (read alone)

Book Review: Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair, by Mary Jean Kelso

Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair

Mary Jean Kelso

illustrator K.C.

copyright May 2008

ISBN 978-1-935137-03-I

llustrated paperback, 24 pages, $10.95

K thru 5th grade

Purchase from Publisher or your favorite bookstore.

In this the 2nd picture book in the "Andy and Spirit" series, Andy is excited about taking part in a horse riding competition at the local fair. But he's nervous. Not only because of his disability, but also because Spirit, just like him, is somewhat different and often attracts the attention of bullies. However, Andy is set on doing well--he loves Spirit, and won't let him down for the world.

Andy and Spirit Go to the Fair is the sweet story of a boy and a horse, their bond and loyalty to one another, and the challenges they must face because of being 'different'. K.C. Snider's colorful yet earthy illustrations bring the spirit of the West to life and children will particularly love the beautiful, majestic pictures of the horses. An inspiring tale about overcoming obstacles, this book carries an universal message that will be enjoyed by children and adults alike.
--Mayra Calvani

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Book Review: Zachary Goes Treasure Hunting

Zachary Goes Treasure Hunting
By April Robins and F. Jay Robins
Illustrated by Kelly Carter
Copyright 2007

Author's Website.

Now that school is out and the summer holidays are in, Zachary has some big plans to have fun. For one thing, he’s set on going on a treasure hunt.

At a thrift store, he gets the perfect ‘adventure’ hat; in the garage, he discovers several old toys inside an old trunk; on ‘Rummaging Day,’ he finds a pedal car painted with racing stripes; at a flea market with his parents, a mysterious woman gives him a ‘magical’ stone…

And in each case Zachary lets his imagination go and he imagines he’s transported to a different time and place. For instance, at the flea market, he pictures himself in Europe; at an auction, he imagines himself searching for a gold mine in the Old West; at his Grandparents’ farm, he sees himself transported to the Alaskan wilderness, and so on.

Zachary finds many imaginary treasures that summer, but nothing prepares him for the joy of the very real treasure he finds at the end. You’ll have to read the book to find out what that is!

Zachary Goes Treasure Hunting is a nice book for early readers to read on their own or for an adult to read to a young child. It brings up the idea of how powerful our imaginations can be and it also has a very cute and surprising ending that children will love. The illustrations are realistic and attractive but I would have loved to see a touch of playfulness and whimsicality to match the tone of the story and some of Zachary’s fantasies’ portrayed as well. All in all, this is an enjoyable children’s book that will entertain and enlighten young minds.