Sunday, March 29, 2009

Great Interview About Book Trailers

There's a great interview about book trailers at The Muse Marquee:

Hapy reading!


Sunday, March 22, 2009 reviews CRASH


My dog book, Crash, was recently reviewed by Here's what Kathy Davis had to say:

By Mayra Calvani
Recommended reading level ages 3-6
Reviewed by: Kathy Davis

Choosing a name for his new golden retriever is a big deal, so big it takes passing over names such as Hubble, Einstein, and Popcorn. 5-year-old Marcelo wants the perfect name for his dog and is willing to wait for inspiration and a clue from the dog as to what he should be called.

Meanwhile, while thinking of a name, Marcelo learns the basic essentials of dog care – walking, cleaning up after, and teaching him basic commands. But what to name him? Well sure enough, the dog reveals to Marcelo what his name should be during a game of toss the ball.

This paperback picture book (21 pages) might be a good pick if you are looking to buy a dog for your child and want a little insight into what's in store. It gives a little peak into the routine of dog ownership and helps with the ever-important task of name choosing. It's interesting to note the book's lively illustrations come from a 16-year girl and add a spark to the cute story.

Vist for more great reviews.

Article: "Ten Steps to Organize a Writing Critique Group," by Carma Dutra

Have you been wondering what your writing needs?

Are you talking to yourself... out loud?

Do you wonder what it would be like to talk to someone else about your writing?

If you answered Yes to any of these questions, you're ready to join or create a writers' critique group.

Critique members are supportive, critical, and attuned to the work and not the personality of an individual member. Also, they intend to publish their work. You can find critique groups online through organizations or you can form a person-to-person group where you live. If there is no writing group in your local area, check with bookstores and libraries. Create flyers; post them in coffee shops and bookstores. Network with local organizations.

10 Steps for Organizing a Critique Group:

1. Find a group with similar goals and focus. Is your group open to all genres or is it specific? Memoir? Do people want to publish? Explore character? Having similar goals and a focus will create commitment and synergy.

2. Limit the number of members. Four or five is a good starting place. If one person leaves the group, replace him/her with a new writer. Fill empty spots by invitation and agreement by the group. This builds trust and respect in your group.

3. Establish a time and day that is suitable to everyone. For example, one evening every two weeks or a weekend day. Twice a month is usually better than weekly because it gives the writers a chance to write and edit in between meetings.

4. Establish a meeting place that works for everyone. Find a coffee shop or meeting space that can accommodate the size of your group or take turns meeting at members' homes.

5. Create a deadline for submitting work to each other by email. This way, every member should have time to read the work before the critique session.

6. Critique the writing, not the writer. Find what works and what is good. Be objective, as if the writer is absent.

Example critique: "There is a POV shift in this section...I want to know more...perhaps another word would work better here..."

Get the picture? Give the writer time to explain unanswered questions.

7. When receiving critiques...sit back and take notes. Be quiet. Let the questions and comments fly. Don't throw heavy objects. Also, don't spend time defending your work or explaining why you wrote things the way you did. Your writing needs to work on its own, without explanations.

8. Critiques must have a time limit. Calculate the critique time based on the length of the meeting and numbers in the group. If you have a large group you can divide up critiques every two weeks.

9. Don't socialize too much. Your purpose is to get feedback about your work. Be reasonable. You can get to know each other in many other ways.

10. Most importantly, respect confidentiality. Make an agreement with the whole group. Don't steal ideas, and don't talk about the work outside the group except in general terms if necessary.

Follow these steps and soon you'll be enjoying the support and constructive feedback that a strong writers' critique group can provide.

You can learn more tips about writing, writing for children and basics of writing at Carma's Window at Also download the free EBook "unite to Write," a compilation of thirteen top expert authors as read on EzineArticle's directory and "Free Tips on Freelance Writing"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Interview with Robert Shlasko, author of Molly and the Sword

The children’s book, Molly and the Sword, tells of a young girl who, with the help of a mysterious horseman, overcomes obstacles on the road to success as a violinist. It has garnered rave reviews from music and education magazines. Here to talk about the book is author Robert Shlasko.

Thanks for this interview, Robert. I understand this is your first book.

Yes, but I’ve been a writer all my working life -- science, international trade, business, speeches … pretty much any sort of writing where I could make a living.

Anything for children?

Some -- when my own children were young. Fiction and non-fiction. For example, my articles on chess appeared in a leading children’s magazine.

So where did the idea for Molly and the Sword come from?

It started as an incident that had happened to my mother in the first World War. I moved the story back about a century. Then, to advance the plot, I added the violin since that was the instrument my son played. Curiously, after the book came out, I met a woman who told of a similar incident that happened to her grandmother.

Art imitating life and life imitating art.

That’s what I tell the students when I read in the schools.

Do you visit schools often?

Every chance I get. I’ve read in private and public schools, at a Montessori school, at a United Nations school. In two weeks I’m returning for my third visit to an elementary school in a multi-ethnic section of Queens, New York.

What ages are the students?

I’ve read in everything from the first to the fifth grade. As you can imagine, the discussions get a lot more sophisticated in the upper grades. But each level brings its own questions and its own pleasures for me. I say the book’s for ages 7-12 – although I know that’s a big range.

Yes, I read one reviewer who even stretched that age range a bit.

Both up and down. In fact, I get letters from adults who respond to the story. A 25-year-old violinist in the Iraqi National Symphony wrote that she uses the book as a defense against stage fright. And I’ve received notes from adult men who’ve admitted to shedding tears at the emotions raised in the story. Yet there’s nothing depressing or frightening in the plot. I find it surprising that, if anything, fathers seem to react more emotionally than anyone to the story.

Yet the book is dedicated to “brave girls.”

Yes, but boys really respond to it too. One fourth-grade boy who’d come from India wrote that he would “tell my sisters to be brave like Molly.” And at another school reading, a third-grade boy handed me a piece of garnet he’d collected with his father and ran off before I could give it back. As you can imagine, the dedication to girls raises lots of discussions during my school visits.

What other subjects do the children raise in the schools?

I’m usually with a group of students for about an hour. After I’ve read, I let the children move the discussion in any direction that want. It varies widely. The major themes in the book are having confidence in yourself, how courage shows itself in many ways not just in fighting, and the idea that enemies can become friends. About that last point: I try to tie it to how they relate to schoolmates they may not get along with. And in almost every session something unexpected comes up.

Such as?

Well, at the very beginning of the book I mention that Molly’s mother was pregnant. At a Montessori school in South Carolina a young girl wanted to know what happened to the baby. I reassured her that mother and child were doing well. Whatever the questions, we manage to touch on their own writing and its importance to their futures.

So you do discuss writing per se?

Absolutely. It often comes up in the context of having confidence in yourself. I tell of writers they’ve read who had the courage to go on even after receiving one rejection after another. Of course, that applies to musicians too.

I notice you have many of the letters, from all over the world, on your website.

Yes, plus items on education, violins and music in general. In fact, this interview may push me into updating the site with fresh items sitting on my desk. Not every letter gets on the site. For example I haven’t yet posted a wonderful letter from a 10-year-old girl in Canada who ask why Molly’s violin didn’t have a chin rest like hers did.

That sounds like a good question.

Indeed. I explained that before my artist started working on the book, I checked with an expert on violins at the music department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in New York. He sent me an article on the invention of the chin rest in the early 1800s. So we felt comfortable leaving it out of the illustrations. This research led to more information on music history, and into women in that history, which finds its way on to the website and into my class readings.

Do you play an instrument?

Alas no -- thus far! But two of my grandchildren play the violin and one plays the cello. And all play the piano.

Whether you play or not, your book is in many performing arts centers.

Fortunately yes. I dropped it off at a concert hall gift store in New York and it just spread out from there. It’s at the gift shops of Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center in Washington, the Boston Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony and so on all across the country.

How about retail outlets?

Music stores carry it and it’s available on order from the bookstores and the usual suspects – Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other websites. But as a first-time author/publisher, I made many early mistakes that hurt distribution – especially with the general bookstores.

As opposed to music bookstores?

Exactly. But as you pointed out in your terrific review, the book is not just for violinists or other musicians, it’s for all children. That’s what I aimed for when I started writing the book. And the reaction in the classrooms confirm this.

Yet limited distribution must have hurt your income.

Indeed. In fact, last year a girl asked if I arrived at her school in my limousine. I guess they all know of J.K. Rowlings. But I had to tell the class that I arrived by subway and, in fact, don’t own a car. Still, putting out the book has been a great experience – especially the interactions with schools, the music world, publishing and parents all over the world.

Do you have other writing projects in the works?

A painful question. Actually, I have a number of manuscripts: another children’s book, an adult mystery, a play and a teenage adventure story -- all waiting for final editing. Again, your interview may push me into action.

Thanks for the interview and good luck with your book!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Interview on School Visits

Hi all,

Late last year I had the opportunity to do two school visits and later did this interview with Jessica Kennedy on the subject. This interview in particular pertains to a reading/presentation I did for my children's picture book, Crash.

J. Aday: How did the visit come about?

Mayra: Ever since the release of my first children’s book in December 2007, I had been toying with the idea of contacting schools around my area for visits, but I was scared. Mostly of rejection. Also, I’d always been terrified of speaking in public. So I debated with myself for most of this year until finally I told myself, ‘Enough is enough! If you’re serious about your writing career, you better stop your pitiful, shy author act and get your butt out there.’ And so I did. I drafted a letter and sent it to various schools. The letter included a brief bio with my websites/links, blurbs of my books (and of course links to their covers and reviews), and my desire to come to their school for a possible presentation, reading and/or book signing.

Most of the schools showed interest and two of them booked me right away. Two other schools want me to come and visit next year.

J. Aday: How did you prepare?

Mayra: To start with, I did some brainstorming and wrote down some ideas. I also asked advice from some Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP) authors. We have a fantastic group of people in our forum and we share ideas and help and support one another. I also practiced a few times my ‘speech’ to the kids and read the book out loud to myself several times to achieve the right flow, tone and pitch. I had bookmarks of the book and coloring pages done well in advance. Since the book is about a golden retriever puppy, dog names, and the responsibilities of owning a dog, I brought with me a life-size golden retriever puppy and mother golden retriever stuffed toys.

I made an outline for the 30-minute presentation:

· Put the stuffed toys in a closed bag. Upon arrival to the class, after a brief introduction about yourself and why you wrote the book, tell the kids, “I have a surprise for you. I always bring my dogs to my school visits because they LOVE children and they LOVE listening to stories.” At this point the kids will think you have real dogs in the bag. Take out the toys, “Surprise!” and put them at your feet in a “listening” position. Tell the kids, “The mother golden is called Brigitte. But I won’t tell you the name of the puppy--you’ll have to guess that at the end of the story!” (This was suggested by another GAP author, and it was a great idea!)

· Then tell them, “If you’re very quiet and listen to the story very carefully, I’ll let you hug the goldens before I leave.”

· Proceed to read the story. Dramatize it with different voices, gasps of surprise, barks, etc.

· When finished, ask the kids, “Do you now know what the name of the puppy is?” Of course, they’ll answer “Crash!” Then ask them, “Did you like the story? What did you like about it most?” Make sure all kids who raise their hands have a chance to respond.

· Ask the children if they have any dogs, what their dogs’ names are, and what things they must do to take care of their dogs. Engage in a warm discussion.

· Give them coloring pages and bookmarks of the book.

· Before leaving, let each child give a ‘goodbye’ hug to the goldens.

Read the rest of the interview at A Writing Playground


Guest Post: "How to Choose the Right Book For Your Child," by Herbert Howard Jones

Choosing children's books, or any book for our children is a challenge which should be met with care. Aside from their purely entertainment content, books can stimulate a lifelong interest in the child that wasn't originally there, or even suggest a direction in life which the child could take later on.

It is my view that carefully chosen fiction or non fiction books have the potential to radically shape a young mind! Perhaps more so than any other form of media, because, for one thing, a book tends to have longevity. It sits on the shelf at home silently demanding to be picked up, until eventually it is.

Other forms of media are more fleeting, get lost more easily, or conveys its message too quickly as a so-called 'blip'. But books tend to have a resilience and a staying power that, perhaps, other forms of media don't have. This equally applies to children's books, with an especial emphasis on reading books as opposed to picture books. More importantly, a book in the 'hand', enables the reader to control the assimilation of information at his or her own pace. They can also be deliberately placed in the way of a child by a discerning adult, whereas output from other media streams is based on an agenda which is not necessarily educational! So exactly what books should we place in our child's path? And should we also allow them to make some of the choices?

The answer to the second question is almost obvious in retrospect. A child must practice his or her decision making faculty if it is to successfully run its own life later on. Decision making is an important life skill which must be practiced. And so somehow, we have to instill this ability into our offspring, and empower them to distinguish between right and wrong decisions.

Latest findings suggest that choosing a book is an excellent way for a child to practice this process and to appreciate the consequence of its actions. It is also an approach which is finding favour with teachers, who are the source of this information in the first place. There appear to be considerable benefits in allowing children to choose books for themselves.

It has been found that children who are allowed to do this, tend to spend more time reading both in the class and at home. It seems to provides them with the strong spur to keep on reading as they progress through school.

Unsurprisingly, a child that reads more, develops its reading ability and expands his or her vocabulary and reading fluency. But without a proper strategy for comparing and choosing children's books, the art of decision making in this area could become lopsided.

The child may develop a preference for choosing unchallenging reading matter which would slow up or even permanently stunt its progress. The prevalence of words in common usage can render less common words obsolete at this level, at least where every day conversations and everyday reading is concerned. It can then turn into a bad habit!

Certainly, vocabulary at a certain level can be intimidating. But words like 'perdiction', 'inalienable', 'tablature' etc, are still relevant and in use, but have to be grown into by the reader. At some point they have to be put within the reader's range, preferably at the earliest possible moment, because a college education isn't always an option, and an individual may grow up developing a stigma towards more complex language.

I personally know of a woman who feels intimidated when she is in the presence of people who 'talk nice' or speak as if 'they have swallowed the dictionary.' And this is because she only progressed to a certain level of reading fluency, when possibly it could have been encouraged more by the system or by someone at home.

And so how can we as discerning parents lubricate the cog wheels a little, and gently push our children towards higher and higher reading plateaus?

Two approaches, which dovetail nicely into one another are suggested as a means of choosing children's books or reading books in general.

One is known as the 'Goldilocks method' and the other doesn't have a name as such, but could be thought of simply as parent guided reading.

Applying the 'Goldilocks method, instead of shoving a pile of books in front of a young reader and saying, 'which one do you want?', we should try and get them to make comparisons. Like Goldilocks who, tried out the porridge and found it to be either 'too hot', 'too cold', or 'just right' etc, we explain to our children that some books may be, 'too easy', some 'too hard' and others 'just right,'. We then show them examples of books in these categories, and make the important point that books which are 'too hard' today will be 'just right' in the future.

If the books in the 'too hard' category are books that we own, or belong to a sibling, then it is also very important to explain to our child that he or she is still allowed to look at them, to see if they are getting any easier to read. No book, unless its morally questionable, or plainly unsuitable should be off-limits to the interested young reader.

I say this because I remember taking a book down from a shelf as a child and being told 'not to touch it' because 'daddy wouldn't be too happy if I did.' (Jammy fingers probably had something to do with this!) As I recall the book was an old annual of 'Boys Own paper' -The Bop, which would have been quite fascinating to look at.

Books in the 'just right' catagory tend to have only a couple of unfamiliar words on a page, which is still understandable to the child. Books which are 'too easy' tend to be the old favourites. In some cases, passages from these books are virtually memorised word for word by the child and do not present a challenge.

To arrive at your assessment of the relative readability of books, have your child read three or four pages, and make a note of words they don't understand, and ask them if they can explain the text in their own words. If more than three words a page are unknown to them, the book is still a candidate if the child's comprehension of the text is adequate. The book will be readable and still pose a challenge at the same time.

Books which are outside the scope of your young reader will make themselves immediately obvious if you use this method. If a child's comprehension of the text is poor, then it is clear that the book is unsuitable. By a process of elimination you'll end up with a shortlist of suitable reads for your child. However, the whole process can be done quite quickly, and if in a bookshop, can be a question of assessing a couple of pages to judge the suitability of the book in hand.

The next step is to teach your child to make this assessment on their own, perhaps using a piece of paper to make notes when choosing books in a library. Have your child write down the title of the book, followed a count of the words not understood on a randomly chosen book page. Then have your child read a page and have him or her write down either 'H' for hard to understand, 'E' for too easy to understand, or 'OK' for just right. See example below:

Book 1. 'Tom Sawyer.' 4 words (not understood). OK

Book 2. 'The Pyewiz and the Amazing Mobile Phone.' 2 words (not understood). OK

Book 3. 'Little Dorrit.' 8 words (not understood). H

Book 4. 'Dr Suess.' 0 words (not understood). E

A choice can then be sensibly made based upon the child's own assessment. The important point being that your child's reading skills can only grow and develop if they are moderately challenged.

If the text from the test pages of a book can be comprehended, but the vocabulary is challenging, then this would be a good choice. But if there are difficulties with comprehension, then unchallenging vocabulary won't make the reading any easier. In this instance it would be better to choose those books whose text is best comprehended.

In my own experience, when I was nine, my father took control of my reading and sat me down with the works of William Shakespeare, expecting me to learn passages by heart! At that age, it was pure gobbledegook! And although I managed to memorise parts of various speeches, they made absolutely no sense to me. My father obviously had a better understanding of the bard, and tried to impart this to me, but it was no substitute for my being able to read and comprehend the text for myself. And although I acquired some archaic vocabulary, it didn't help my overall comprehension of what I was reading. In this instance, the choice of reading material was too challenging, and should have been abandoned for something more commensurate with my abilities. Comprehension is therefore vitally important to the above method.

Once the child learns to make choices, it is a good idea for you, as the parent to make
'recommendations', but this can only be implemented if the parent is aware of suitable books to recommend. It is therefore a good idea to have a stock of books in the home on a wide variety of subjects. These can easily be obtained from a second hand book shop where prices suit any budget. Reference books tend to be more expensive but are well worth the purchase.

Obviously the wider the choice, the better for our child. Books on a narrow range of subjects may fail to make the desired impact. So breadth and width of material is what is required, but guidelines as to the suitability of certain subjects can be obtained from your local school or educational authority.

H.H.Jones is the author of one sci-fi book for teenagers. For more information click on: The Pyewiz's new website

Friday, March 13, 2009

I'm a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award Finalist!

Hi all,

I'm thrilled to announce that my nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, which I co-authored with Anne K. Edwards, has been nominated for a ForeWord Best Book of the Year Award Finalist! Winners will be announced on May 30th, 2009.

Find more about the book at: Slippery Book Review

For a full list of ForeWord finalists, visit ForeWord Magazine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guest Post/Interview by Dorothy Thompson

Your book has just been released and you're scrambling for ideas on how to market it. With so many alternatives, which do you choose?

Virtual book tours have become the latest rage among authors no matter if it's their first book or their fifteenth book. They realize there is no better way to get maximum coverage online than a virtual book tour, sometimes called a virtual blog tour, and love the fact they can do it from the comfort of their own home.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller decided to try out a virtual book tour to promote her latest book, Mrs. Lieutenant. "It was a wonderful experience," she says. Phyllis chose a virtual book tour company to help her with her tour which saved her a lot of headache, but some authors choose to go it alone.

We interviewed Phyllis to find out more about her virtual book tour experience in the hopes it will help other authors learn more about them and clear up any questions they might have.

Thank you for this interview, Phyllis. How would you compare your virtual book tour experience with a live tour?

I liked the virtual book tour much better for two reasons: 1) much less wear and tear on the author as well as no disappointment that book buyers haven't shown up at a signing and 2) because the internet can spread info about a book much farther than a local event.

Did you combine a live tour with your virtual book tour?

No, I am not interested in a live tour for the reasons stated above.

On a scale of 1 - 10, how would you rank your tour in terms of increased online exposure, and overall satisfaction?

Probably an 8+ in increased online exposure -- I wouldn't have had any exposure on book blogs without the tour. Overall satisfaction - 9+.

Would you consider your tour a success? If so, in what way? If not, would you care to explain?

Absolutely consider my tour a success both in the exposure I got and the good reviews. Whether this translates into sales? I believe that a person has to come across something several times before buying. Each time that MRS. LIEUTENANT is reviewed or commented upon on the internet is another time the book's title is in front of people.

How much time did you invest in the actual pre-tour process of filling out interviews and writing guest posts for your stops?

Only a few hours. Although as someone trained as a journalist, it is easy for me to quickly write short pieces or answer questions.

How much time did you invest in promoting your tour?

I did not spend that much time promoting my own tour (some mentions on my blogs and in social media). I didn't want to "push" myself on people I know.

What part of your virtual book tour did you love the most?

Being introduced to all these great book blogs! I was truly impressed with the caliber of the book blog reviewers.

What part of your virtual book tour did you find a bit disappointing?

That more people didn't leave comments on the posts. Although I know that only a very small fraction of people who read blog posts do leave comments.

Was your tour coordinator helpful and eager to find just the right stops for you?

My tour coordinator was extremely good at finding the right stops for me. She's both an ace with Google search and also with thinking outside the box. I particularly love that I got to write a guest post on her blog because I'm a boomer and my novel takes place in 1970. Another huge plus -- she's open to author's suggestions.

How could the tour coordinator improve?

It might have been easier to handle guest posts and interview posts if we had shared a file on Google docs. Then there wouldn't be the question of whether docs had been received or could be opened.

Did you notice your Amazon rankings change during your tour?

I didn't check. As I said above, I believe that the effects of the virtual book tour will be seen in the months to come.

How did your internet presence (e.g. Google) change from the time you started your tour until the end?

Although I have my own (relatively new) blogs, my internet presence definitely increased during the tour as demonstrated by my Google alerts.

Any final words?

How about a widget to put on author blogs and websites during the month of the tour that could be clicked to go to the day's blog stops of the author whose blog/website the widget is on?

This is the best book promotion expenditure I've made in terms of return on investment.

Dorothy Thompson is CEO/Founder of Pump Up Your Book Promotion PR, an innovative public relations agency. You can visit her website at

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Celebrate Ebook Week with Free Ebooks!

Read an Ebook Week was created by author Rita Toews as a way to inform the people about the advantages of ebooks.

To learn more about Rita, read this wonderful interview.

You may also visit the Read and Ebook Week website.

Read an Ebook Week is from March 8-14, 2009. During this week, lots of special deals and promotions are taking place on the web.

Two of my publishers, Zumaya Publications and Twilight Times Books, are offering free ebooks for the duration of the event.

"Books are books--ebooks are just more convenient than their print brethren," states Elizabeth Burton, Editor-in-Chief at Zumaya Publications. "If you have vision problems, if you can't leave the house without something to read, if you spend any amount of time waiting for something to happen, if you have arthritis in your hand that makes holding a book uncomfortable, if you like to read in bed but your partner doesn't appreciate the glare--these are all good reasons to consider ebooks. That there are some incredibly good writerwhose work you'll only be able to read digitally is just an added bonus."

Visit these publishers' websites and don't lose your chance of getting some free ebooks!


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Children's Author Kim Chatel Wins EPPIE Award

Hi all,

Guardian Angel Publishing children's author Kim Chatel is the 2009 EPPIE Award winner in the Children's Category.

I had the pleasure of reviewing Kim's delightful, now award-winning book, Rainbow Sheep, several months ago.

Congratulations, Kim!

Kim is the founder of Blazing Trailers, as well as an accomplished photographer. Learn more about this talented author at



Friday, March 6, 2009

"If You're a Children's Writer, You Need a Blog!" by Suzanne Lieurance

Many children's authors have websites these days. But not all of them have a blog. Yet, whether you're a world-famous children's author, or you're just starting to write for kids, you gotta have a blog.


Because a blog will:

1) Help you get in the habit of writing regularly. And even the posts to your blog should be well-written with a little pizazz - which will be excellent writing practice and help you become a more disciplined writer since you'll need to post to your blog at least 3 to 5 times a week.

2) Help you establish an online readership. You'll be providing readers with helpful and/or interesting information each time you post to your blog. Information people will begin to look forward to reading on a regular basis. If you're an established children's book author, children and adults who read your books will look to your blog to find out what's new with you. They'll want to know your current writing project(s), new books you have coming out soon, and information about author visits you might offer to schools, libraries, etc. It's too difficult to keep a website updated on a daily basis, but it's easy to update your blog.

3) Help you establish yourself as expert in the world of children's writing and publishing. Even before you are published, you can interview more experienced children's writers and post these interviews to your blog or write reviews of new children's books. This information will tell readers you know "what's what" in the world of children's publishing.


About the author: Get more tips to help you promote your career as a children's writer at the National Writing for Children Center and listen to a free 55-minute teleclass called "Great Beginnings: How to Hook Readers."

Suzanne Lieurance is a children's author and founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center. Visit the center at She is an expert writer at Ezine Articles.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Book Review: Tucker's Tale, by Christopher Walsh

Tucker’s Tale: The Story of a Rescue Dog

By Christopher Walsh

Illustrated by Vanda Lavar

Guardian Angel Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-935137-21-4

Children’s Picture book

Paperback, 24 pages, $10.95

Author’s website:

Illustrator’s website:

Reviewed by Mayra Calvani

I love dog books, but I love charity dog books even more.

Author Christopher Walsh and illustrator Vanda Lavar have combined their talents to work on a children’s picture book based on the true story of a rescue dog and how he finally finds happiness in a caring home. All proceeds from the book will be donated to dog rescues across the country.

Tucker’s Tale: The Story of a Rescue Dog is narrated from the point of view of Tucker, a Cocker Spaniel who at first is quite unhappy living with a mean lady who keeps him in a cellar and hardly ever brings him food.

“Tucker stretched out in his crate. He shivered to the chilly Fall morning in the dampness of the cellar. The Woman upstairs moved around before dawn but didn’t bring him his breakfast. He was very hungry this morning. I hope she didn’t forget my breakfast, he thought. She forgot many times before.”

Fortunately, Tucker is discovered by a rescuer and, after staying temporarily in several homes, he finally finds the warm, loving home he’s always wanted.

Tucker’s tale is sad, but it is also uplifting, and will touch the hearts of children and adults alike. You better have a handkerchief at hand when you finish reading this book! My eleven-year old daughter read it and was engrossed by the story and artwork. The illustrations are lovely, almost ethereal, and deftly capture the essence and the angelic quality of these very special dogs. Simply put, it is a tale that will go straight to your heart.

The book also offers an important message to young minds, one about the love we should have for helpless animals, as well as what people who run dog rescues do in order to find homeless dogs a permanent, kind home.

This is Walsh’s first book. You can read more about the author and what you can do to help dog rescues on his website.

Vanda Lavar specializes in animal art and supports many animal rescue causes. Her clientele include many prestigious organizations, such as The Bradford Exchange.

If you or your child love dog books, and if you would like to do something to benefit dog rescues, I advice you to get a copy of this touching, heart-warming book.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Book Review: A Talent for Quiet, by Kim Chatel

A Talent for Quiet

Written and illustrated by Kim Chatel

Guardian Angel Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-935137-56-6

Copyright 2009

Children’s Picture Book

Paperback, 32 pages, $10.95

Purchase from the publisher.

Purchase from Amazon.

Reanie has lived alone with her mother for a long time. Now she has a step father, Bill, and all has changed. His shoulders take the whole kitchen, and his voice and laughter, though kind, are so loud… she can’t help being afraid.

Though he tries to befriend her, her shyness always make her withdraw. Until one day Bill invites her to go to the river on a photo safari. A photographer, he is deft and skillful with the camera. He encourages her to take pictures and even gives her a camera. Excited, Reanie discovers a whole new world as her new father teaches her about photography and the talent for quiet—a quality all good photographers must have.

Together, they take pictures of a goose, a spider, a turtle, a crawfish, a muskrat, a monarch butterfly, and finally what they were waiting for: a lovely blue heron. Reanie not only learns the ins and outs of a camera, but also the kind nature of her step father, making this a story of discovery on two levels.

This is a warm, simple story with a quiet tone that matches its title. The photographs are beautiful and will stimulate young minds. At the end of the book there’s a glossary, interesting facts about photography, and tips on how to take great pictures. This would make a wonderful educational gift for those children who love photography and taking pictures, as well as to those who have a new step parent. Highly recommended.