Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Ten Picture Books You Must Read Before You Die," by Ty Hulse

Picture books are fun and brilliant works of literature, or at least they can be. As with all books there are some great ones some ok ones and some really bad ones. These are ten of the greatest for children and adults. Stories which you must read and see the visual narrative of, for they are wonderfully touching stories, beautiful, or just plain funny. These are not necessarily the ten best picture books they are however ten of the best visual narratives with stories you will cherish forever.

Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey

A fantastic visual narrative and well written text makes this one of the greatest picture books of all time. It tells a simple story of a mother and child picking berries and meeting a pair of bears. The simplicity of the story is what makes it work so well as a short story, and what makes it so appealing.

Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Another McCloskey story, this book even has a statue dedicated to it in Boston, for it tells the story of a family of ducks living in this city in a wonderful and whimsical way.

A Letter to Amy by Jack Keats

The story of a boy who for the first time wants to invite a girl to his birthday, and the difficulty of mailing the letter himself. Jack Keats had a special ability to discuss the common concerns of children in ways that made his stories unique.

Floatsom by David Wiesner

Wiesner is perhaps the most imaginative creator of children's literature today. With three Caldecott medals he is a must see, for his stories are often only visual narrative with no or little text. Floatsom is the story of a boy who discovers a camera in the ocean, and of the magical world that the camera shows him, from aliens to mermaid kingdoms this book take the viewer into a lavishly illustrated and imaginative journey.

Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth

A fun picture book it provides a number of Chinese Parables in a way that is fun and unique. It all begins when a Panda Bear moves in next door to three children (he speaks with a slight panda accent) and the friendship the develops between them.

Doctor De Soto by William Steig

The story of a mouse dentist who takes on a fox as a patient, and the game of fox and mouse between them as Dr. De Soto (the mouse) avoids being eaten.

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

With beautiful illustrations, this book tells the story of the man who discovered the photographic techniques for taking pictures of snowflakes.

Repunzel by Paul O. Zelansky

With stunningly beautiful illustrations done in the Renaissance style this picture book tells the favorite fairy tale story as nothing else before has been able to.

Jumangi by Chris Van Allsburg

Thanks to the movies based on his books Allsburgs stories are well known of, even if they are not well known themselves. His art is so hyper real and well rendered as to appear almost dreamlike. "Jumangi" tells the story of a brother and sister that find a magical board game that brings the jungle and all its creatures crashing through their home.

Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

A post modern style picture book that plays with the third wall both in its illustrations and its text. For example the acknowledgments page includes the narrator saying that no one reads the acknowledgments anyways so he just wrote them upside down. He goes on to tell the reader that "if you want to read them you can just stand on your head." If one is reading this book with a child it might be fun to actually stand on ones head to read these.

These are just a few of the great picture books that exist and it is important to always look for more, because beautiful and fun visual narratives are something we should never grow out of.

About the author: Ty Hulse has degrees in both art and psychology, and has used them to help create many educational materials for children. Currently he is running the website http://www.discoverpicturebooks.com which discusses picture books.

Hulse's website has a wonderful list of children's book stores HERE.

She also has a helpful list of picture book publishers HERE.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

"Success Tip - Focus on One Thing at a Time!" by Suzanne Lieurance

As a busy freelance writer, business coach, and speaker, people are always asking me how I manage to get so many things accomplished each day.

They think I must have some BIG secret.

Actually, it's no secret at all. Here's what I do: I focus on one thing at a time.

I look at my marketing plan for the day (which is my to-do list), set aside time periods for each item on the plan, then I start with the first item on the plan and give it my undivided focus and attention until I finish it.

You may think you're doing this, too. But if you're constantly thinking about ALL the things you need to do - so you're rushing to get everything done - you're really not giving your concentrated focus to any of the items on your to-do list.

So look at your marketing plan (you do have a marketing plan, right?) and use it to make your to-do list for today.

Set aside specific time periods to accomplish each item on the list. Then get to work on that first item.

Don't rush. Don't get frazzled. Don't answer the phone. Don't check your email during this time.

Don't worry about any of the other things on today's to-do list.

Relax and give your total focus and energy to the one item you're working on.

This is living in the NOW.

Living in the now will make you more productive. It will also help you have a happier workday.

Try it!

For daily tips to help you stay focused and achieve your goals, subscribe to The Morning Nudge at http://www.morningnudge.com.

Subscribe to Build Your Business Write, a FREE twice a week newsletter with tips to help you write your way to business success at http://www.buildyourbusinesswrite.com.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Interview with Julie Prestsater, author of So I'm A Double Threat

Julie Prestsater, http://site.juliepbooks.com/


Do you have another job besides writing?

My full-time career is teaching. I teach high school reading during the regular term and freshmen science during the summers. When I'm needed, I also teach as an adjunct in a graduate reading program at a local university. I stay busy, but I love it.

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

This is going to sound weird now, but I HATED reading as a kid. In fact, my friends would tease me in high school and tell me I better hurry up and check out whatever book we were reading at the time, because it was due the next day. I never had any connections with the books we were required to read, so I never felt the urge to pick up a book for fun. It never occurred to me there were other books out there.

It wasn't until I became an adult that I discovered my love for reading. A project assigned for my master's degree was to present a BIOBAG to the class. So basically, I had to present a timeline of my life using books or written materials that had a significant impact on me throughout the years. This was an absolute nightmare for me because I didn't read at the time. The only books I read were textbooks. So I bought tons of books and tried to find different authors and genres I liked so I could do my project. While my classmates presented tattered books from their childhood, I took brand new books out of a Barnes & Noble bag. But something happened during this project. I fell in love with reading. And I fell HARD! I haven't been able to stop since.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

It's kind of funny. I wrote the last paragraph of the novel first. I had this idea in my head where I wanted Meg to end up. I knew exactly what I wanted her to say and feel at the end. I had no idea how I was going to get there, but I just knew how I wanted it to end. LOL! How naive of me. As soon as I started typing, my plan fizzled. It was more stream-of-consciousness writing, and I couldn't stop. It sounds so cliché but really, the characters just took on a life of their own. It was like a movie playing in my head, and I would react. One of the boy characters did some not-so-nice things, and I got angry with him. It was pretty funny. Here I am getting angry with a fictional character I created. What a dork I am. The process is nuts. The emotions are not limited. It's crazy. LOL.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

I get my best ideas when I'm driving. It's because of the music. I blast the radio, and sing and dance while I drive. It seems like there is a memory for every song that comes on. Those memories can translate into some pretty good storylines.

Describe your working environment.

LOL. Sitting on the sofa, with my laptop in my lap, with the TV on, or headphones in my ears. I really should get a desk with a nice chair. I don't know how long my hands can take it like this.

As a writer, what scares you the most?

English teachers! LOL. I know I'm a teacher and I have no idea why, but it just scared the crap out of me to think that English teachers at my school might read my book and want to critique every word choice and sentence with a red pen. LOL. But seriously, they have been mostly supportive. Although one experience was particularly entertaining. A colleague asked to look at a copy of my book during lunch one day. She browsed the pages, stopping to read here and there, but her facial expressions were pretty telling. She didn't like it at all. She looked disgusted, in fact. She didn't say anything, but she didn't need to. When she left, a few of the other teachers just shrugged and smiled at me. They noticed too. I just laughed. I can't expect everyone to like my book. There have been plenty of books that I haven't liked. LOL.

How do you divide your time between taking care of a home and children, and writing? Do you plan your writing sessions in advance?

Since I work during the day and the kids are at school, the time we have together is limited. So when we get home, it's mostly about homework, eating dinner, and getting ready for bed. Once I say goodnight, I hit the laptop.

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Well, I'm going to sign up for NaNoWriMo. Thanks for telling me about it. I'm so excited. I have all these ideas floating around in my head. I don't want to cheat, so I haven't written anything down. But I'm ready! This novel is going to be about a young girl's struggle to find her place in a world where she's not Mexican enough and she's not American enough. As a teen, it drove me nuts when someone would tell me I acted "White". What the heck does that mean? I knew what they were trying to say and it bugged me. I still hear kids being told that same thing today and it's doesn't irritate me any less. So I'm anxious to see where this one takes me.

As an author, what is your greatest reward?

When I hear a story about a teen finishing my book. It feels amazing! I work with many kids who do not read for pleasure. It's heartbreaking. I wrote this for them in hopes that this might be the one book that changes that for them. I feel so strongly that if a person reads just one book and likes it, he or she will want to read another one, and another one, and another one. It's a terrible cycle to create, isn't it. LOL.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Top Ten Excuses For NOT Writing Your Book and How to Overcome Them! by Suzanne Lieurance

Most everyone wants to write a book - some day.

But that's the catch.

Instead of writing it NOW, they plan to write their book some day. Some time in the distant future - because as long as the plan is for the future, it's a nice, safe PLAN.

The trouble is, it isn't EVER more than a plan until you start writing.

So, why haven't you written your book if you've been planning to write one for years now?

Well, here are a few possible reasons. See which ones sound familiar to you.

1. You have no idea HOW to get started. You wonder if you even KNOW enough about your subject to write a complete book.

2. You've collected all sorts of information for your book - notes you've written, quotes from experts, etc. - but now you don't know what to do with it all.

3. You THINK you don't have time to write the book right now since you can't devote large chunks of time to working on it.

4. You're not sure how to structure your book. Should it have sections or chapters? How many chapters should it be? How many pages? Should it include sidebars of information? Charts? Graphs?

5. You don't think you can explain things clearly enough to readers. How do you make your message simple and easy to understand?

6. You can't seem to get motivated to write and then STAY motivated to continue writing. This is particularly true if you've started your book but just can't seem to move forward with it.

7. You have trouble with grammar, punctuation, and maybe even spelling, and you get frustrated when you make so many mistakes.

8. You're not completely sure what a book would do for you - especially if you have to shell out your own money to get it edited, formatted, and published. Why spend money on all that? Will it be worth it?

9. You can't figure out whether you need to write a book proposal and try to find a traditional publisher for your book or write the book and then self-publish it.

10. It all seems so overwhelming when you realize you will also have to market the book once it's written and published. Book signings sound like fun. But you really don't want to have to CALL bookstores yourself to set up these kinds of things.

Any - or ALL - of this sound familiar?

Don't worry. Each of these reasons for NOT writing a book is little more than an excuse for not getting the help you need to move forward with your book. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome each of these excuses.

First, look at local bookstores, or online at amazon.com, for books that outline the book writing process. A great how-to book just might be enough to help you overcome your excuses for not writing your own book.

If you need more help overcoming all the excuses for NOT writing your book, sign up for a book writing course or hire a writing coach to help you.

Finally, if you just CAN'T seem to get your book written yourself, hire a ghostwriter to write the book for you.

The point is, you just need to get your book written, no matter what it takes to overcome all the excuses that are keeping you from getting your book out there on the market.

About the author: Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, children's author, and The Working Writer's Coach. She is the founder and director of the National Writing for Children Center and host for Book Bites for Kids, a talk show about children's books that airs LIVE on blogtalkradio.com every weekday afternoon at 2:00 CST.

For more tips to get your book written and published, subscribe to Build Your Business Write, a twice weekly newsletter, at http://www.fearlessfreelancewriting.com

Read more articles about the book writing process at http://www.buildyourbusinesswrite.com


Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Responsibilities of Owning a Dog


I'm a guest blogger at Unloaded today with a short article titled, The Responsibilities of Owning a Dog.

I hope you'll stop by. Thanks!

Mayra www.tips-fb.com

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Review of Tree House in a Storm, by Rachelle Burk

It's 1965 in New Orleans. Seven-year old Kenny and his six-year old sister Allison build a tree house in their back yard. The tree house becomes their fort and they become king and queen. In it they play without invasion from grownups; they enjoy the hot summers and sip limonade under the branches to escape the heat... nothing can lure them down, not even delicious peanut butter and sliced banana sandwiches.

All is fine until one terrible day when a monster attacks them: Hurricane Betsy. Together with their parents, Kenny and Allison must evacuate immediately. Kenny is afraid for his tree house, so before they go to the shelter, he gets his tools and puts some extra nails into the boards. Then they stay in the shelter until it's safe to go back home. However, nothing prepares the children to what they see when they get back home...

Years pass and the story moves to the present, where Kenny, now a grown man, builds another tree house, this time for his sons.


"DO, RE, MI" at the Central Station in Antwerp

This video was made in the Antwerp, Belgium Central Train Station on March 23, 2009.
With no warning to the passengers passing through the station,
at 8:00 AM., a recording of Julie Andrews singing 'Do, Re, Mi'
begins to play on the public address system.
As the bemused passengers watch in amazement,
some 200 dancers begin to appear from the crowd and station entrances.
They created this amazing stunt with just two rehearsals! Turn up the volume & Enjoy!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Boo! Promoting Books This Halloween!

Hi all,

Today I have a guest post titled, "Book! Promoting Books at Halloween," over at Carolyn Howard-Johnson's blog, Sharing with Writers and Readers.

Stop by if you get a chance! www.tips-fb.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Today I'm a guest at Efrain's Corner


Today I'm a guest blogger at Efrain's Corner with a short article titled, "How I Became a Children's Book Author."

Read it here: http://efrainortizjr.blogspot.com/2009/09/lvbt-guest-post-walking-on-rainbow-how.html


Mayra www.tips-fb.com

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fifteen Years Old and Already Published

Let's give a warm welcome to young author Melissa Burmester! Melissa has been writing about vampires and the supernatural since the age of twelve. Her first novel, Ginger High, is Book I in a series of books about vampires and she's already working on the sequel. She is presently attending Westhampton Beach High School, and is planning a career as a writer and a teacher. For more information about Melissa, please visit her website and her blog.

Thanks for the interview, Melissa! Were you an avid reader as a child?

Yes, I always loved to read. My mother would read to me every night. Sometimes she would tell me ghost stories, and that was when I got hooked on reading horror, mystery and fantasy.

When did you first start writing stories?

When I was in middle school, I had so many wonderful ideas that I started a journal. There were so many characters that I had developed that I was able to write many short stories. I started my first novel Ginger High when I was twelve, and it was published when I was fourteen.


Monday, September 7, 2009

My Latino Book Tour Begins Today!

For the next two weeks I'll be touring the Latino blogosphere with BronzeWord Latino Authors!

I invite you to check out the schedule and stop by the hosts' blogs if you get a chance. I'll be giving away print copies of my children's books and ebook copies of my other books. To be eligible, just leave a comment at the end of each post on the appropiate date.


Latino Book Tour Schedule:

Monday, September 7 - Behind Brown Eyes - Paranormal Short Story: "Deja Vu"

Wednesday, September 9 - Mama Latina Tips - Interview

Thursday, September 10 - Spanglish Baby - Interview

Friday, September 11 - Writing to Insanity - Article: "How to Write a Great Blurb"

Monday, September 14 - Efrain's Corner - Guest Post: "I Hated Reading When I Was a Kid"

Wednesday, September 16 - Christina Rodriguez's blog - Guest Post: "On the Author & Illustrator Relationship"

Thursday, September 17 - Unloaded - Guest Post: "The Responsibilities of Owning a Dog"

Friday, September 18 - Chasing Heroes - Guest Post: "Heroes Must be Angels and Demons"


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Guest post by Katie Hines, author of GUARDIAN

"The warp and woof of a good novel," by Katie Hines

In the process of writing my soon-to-be-released book, "Guardian," I did a lot of research. I researched pirates, treasures, the Middle Ages, the times of the Crusades, and so forth. To be honest, my book wouldn't be a book if I hadn't done all that research.

For "Guardian," I spent about three months researching before I began to write. I read online and bought books. I made phone calls and sent emails. I found forums relating to any of the topics I thought I might address in the book. As the book took shape, I found that a lot of the details in my story, a lot of plot points, arose directly from my research. When stuck and doing
some free associating, different details from my research would rise to the forefront in my thinking, and voile! my writing dilemma would be resolved.

Even things I didn't think would be important, but that I researched "just to be sure," ended up in my book. Things like weather, like clothing, architecture, food and boating. Details of landscapes that I learned about from friends who sent me pictures, brought depth to my novel. Even the very first sentence of "Guardian," contains a detail of teenage clothing.

And now that I am at work on my second novel, I find that research holds an even more important place because part of the centerpiece of my book has to do with a specific craft (no, I'm not going to tell you what, yet). I am planning on visiting a couple of touristy type places in South Carolina and Georgia to see the master craftsmen at their work to lend authenticity to my
story, and rich details that say "I've been there." These details will form the warp and woof of my novel and lend stability and depth.

And so, I'm pretty excited to see where my research is going to take me...and my next novel! I've got a first line written, but it, too, is secret at this time. But later, oh later, I shall share it with you. For now, I hope you're intrigued with that opening sentence of "Guardian," and
my point of view character's words to his friends: "This is a secret meeting," Drew Newman whispered as he pulled his letterman's jacket close." www.tips-fb.com

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My upcoming picture book: Humberto the Bookworm Hamster

Take a peek at the cover art of my latest children's picture book, Humberto the Bookworm Hamster, scheduled to be released by Guardian Angel Publishing later this month.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mini interview with Katie Hines, author of GUARDIAN

My guest today is Katie Hines, author of the middle-grade novel, Guardian. I hope you'll enjoy the mini interview.

But first, here are some links on how you may find Katie online, as well as a little about her book!

Katie Hines
Children's Author
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Katie-Hines/1442953493
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/katiehines

Coming soon in 2009 - "Guardian" a middle grade urban fantasy!

Imagine you have made a secret promise that can lead you to an incredible treasure and an ancient power. But in order to fulfill that promise, you must defeat an age-old sect determined to claim the treasure and power themselves.

Mini Interview:

You write because...

It's a challenge in an area where I feel I have some degree of skill. It also seems to satisfy some inner core need.

If you weren't a writer, you would be...

A person who's in charge in an area of business management.

If you were stranded on a desert island, you would take with you...

My laptop and my husband. He can take care of anything! Of course, the island has to
have wi fi!

Your three favorite foods are...

Chocolate, popcorn and fried chicken.

Your favorite authors are...

Tolkien, Rowling, L'Engle, Dahl and so on.

Something about you most people don't know is...

I used to write a short humor column for our local newspaper.

Thanks, Katie! www.tips-fb.com