Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Winter Wonderland Giveaway: Win a Kindle Touch or $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland Giveaway Event. We have partnered up with lots of different and wonderful bloggers to bring you some fabulous prizes, just in time for the Holiday Season!

Giveaway starts December 2nd at 12:01 AM EST to December 15th at 12:01 AM EST. Giveaway winners will be announced through the Rafflecopter widget and notified by email by the end of the day on December 17th, 2011. Winners must reply to email notification within 48 hours of delivery, or a new winner will be chosen.
Participating Blogs that made these giveaways possible:
Pink Dandy Chatter
Outnumbered Mama
PS Mom Reviews
Pawsitive Living
Spilled Milkshake
Thrifty Divas
Indiana Coupon Savings
Social Studies Momma 
The Frugal Mom
Debs Dealz 
Mamalou's Gems 
Magical Mouse Schoolhouse
Disney Contests and Sweepstakes
$uper $avin' Momma 
Personalized Sketches and Sentiments
Half-Pint House Handouts
Chitown Cheapskate 
Get Outta My Head Please 
Capturing Magical Memories
Finger Click Saver
Tenuous Thoughts of Candy
Reading Teen
Sober Julie Doing Life
One Busy Moma
All In One Mom
Luv Saving Money
Jenny At Dapperhouse
My Secret Home
Black, Divorced and Virtuous
A Gal Needs...
Sweeping The USA
Between The Lines
Mommies and Beyond
Crunchy Beach Mama
Savin' It Up 
Mayra's Secret Bookcase
The Working Writer's Club
Counting My Kisses 
Lily's Laundry 
Thrifty Mommas Tips 
Yummy Boy Mummy
* Winner will receive one Wi-Fi, 6" E Ink Display Kindle Touch

*This giveaway is open to the US Only
*There will be 1 winner chosen to win this giveaway

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Meet Nicole Weaver, author of trilingual (English, French and Spanish) books for children

Nicole Weaver  speaks four languages fluently: English, Creole, French and Spanish.  She teaches high school French and Spanish. She is the author of three trilingual books: Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle (2009), My Sister Is My Best Friend (November 2011), and My Brother Is My Best Friend (currently under contract).

Her book of short stories titled, My Birthday Is September Eleven and Other Short Stories was an Amazon bestseller top 100 for three weeks. For more information about Nicole please visit her sites: My Sister Is My Best Friend, My Birthday Is September Eleven, and Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle.

Thanks for this interview, Nicole. Tell us, did you always want to be a writer?

No, I did want to be a writer.  I had my heart set on being a translator and interpreter for the United Nations. I grew to like languages after learning English as a third language and later learning Spanish.  I ended up taking Spanish my final year of high school because I wanted to drop a physics class.  My guidance counselor gave me two choices: Stay in physics or replace it with another class. Well, lucky for me, the only class offered during physics was Spanish two honors.  Even though I had never studied Spanish before, I took a gamble and switched to Spanish. Thus, began my true love affair with learning languages. Twenty-five years later, that decision has served me well.  As a polyglot, I teach high school French and Spanish.  Now, I have branched out by writing trilingual children books.

Congratulations on the release of your latest picture book, My Sister Is My Best Friend. What was your inspiration for it? 

My newly published book: My Sister Is My Is My Best Friend is a trilingual story about two twin sisters who do everything together.  I got inspired to write the story after meeting my half-sister Rachelle in 2008 for the first time.

I was very happy to have met her and sad that we did not grow up together.  Since I have a vivid imagination, I began daydreaming about what it would have been liked to grow up with Rachelle.  I had a blast writing the book because it helped me sort through some emotional situations.  I do believe writing is great therapy for the soul. 

Tell us about your children's books. 

I have written three trilingual children’s picture book. My first book titled: Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle, My Sister Is My Best Friend, and a third book currently under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing titled My Brother Is My Best Friend.

M y first book is about Marie, a Haitian little girl who lives near the beach.  The story tells the struggles Marie had as she helped the sea turtle back out to sea.

My Brother Is My Best Friend is similar to my newly released book My Sister Is My Best Friend.  The book is about two twin brothers, who do everything together.

I have also written and published a book of short stories for middle school students titled: My Birthday Is September Eleven and Other Short Stories.

I am happy to announce that the book stayed on Amazon top 100 best-selling books for three weeks.  The ebook version remained on the top bestselling list the weekend of nine eleven.  Here is a review of the book: As a licensed psychologist with a specialty in children, parents often ask me to direct them to a book that they can read with their children. I have no problem sending parents to My Birthday is September Eleven and Other Short Stories. In this book, you will find stories about children with real-life struggles and how they find ways to cope with those problems. These stories present opportunities for parents and children to talk about what is happening in their own lives and possible solutions, while strengthening parent-child communication.

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?

I do a variety of things.  I listen to French and Spanish music.  I like listening to Edith Piaf, Mirielle Mathieu, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and Georges Moustaki.

My favorite Spanish singer is Julio Iglesias; I listen to him a lot. I also love classical music. Every so often, I do not mind listening to Italian operas.

Listening to the different genre of music evoke certain emotions that help bring my creativity to the surface.
Other times, I go to the library and read a zillion books.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a book for teens titled: Beauty and Other Traps.

I hope to publish it by December 1st in time for the holidays. Here is the synopsis:

Meet Marie, a high school senior trapped in her mother’s web. She’s facing troubling changes. You will relate to her as Marie deals with her mother, step-dad, peers, and the prospect of graduating high school. Does hope lie ahead? Join her and find out. 

I am also working on a chapter book titled: There’s Nothing Wrong with Being Smart.

The book is historical fiction based on the struggles of African American back in the 1960’s.

Where are your books available? 

Link to purchase My Sister Is My Best Friend:
Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle:
My Birthday Is September Eleven and Other Short Stories:

For more information about Nicole, you can visit her sites:

Mayra, thank you so much for interviewing me.

Thank you, Nicole! Best of luck with your books!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Two great chapter books for your children this Christmas

If you’re looking for some great children’s books for your 6-9 year olds as part of their holiday gifts, I have two great suggestions for you: My Pet Show Panic by Betty G. Birney and SWITCH: Spider Stampede by Ross Colins, both from WHSmith’s Richard and Judy Collection.

Humphrey is a cute little hamster who lives in a classroom (Room 26) of Longfellow School. He gets to go home with a different student each weekend. His cage, however, has a ‘lock that doesn’t lock’ and so he’s able to sneak in and out in search of adventure. Of course, sometimes too much adventure can get you into trouble!

In this the first book in the Humphrey’s Tiny Tales series, our little hamster goes home with A.J., who has planned to take him to the Pet Show and is set on winning a prize. In the pet show, Humphrey notices that a box next to him seems to be getting a lot of attention. He tries to see what’s inside it, to no avail, so he decides to sneak out of his cage and take a look. Unfortunately, Clem the stinky dog is running around free and chases after him. Suddenly, Humphrey doesn’t care about winning a prize anymore—he’d much rather stay alive!

This is an absolutely adorable chapter book for kids ages 6 to 8. Humphrey is a character to fall in love with. Told in simple language for early and/or reluctant readers, the story is full of action and fun twists and turns that will keep kids turning pages. There’s a lot of lively, fun language and Humphrey’s distinct personality shines through. The simple line drawings are really cute and perfectly complement the text. At the end of the book there are plenty of activities to keep children entertained: word searches and grids, puzzles, games and jokes. This is a children’s book sure to get some new fans, so don’t be surprised if your child asks for more books in the series.

SWITCH: Spider Stampede by Ross Colins is also a chapter book but I’d say it is geared at kids who are more proficient in reading. It has more text than Humphrey’s Tiny Tales and will especially appeal to boys, if only because both protagonists are boys. It is certainly filled with the stuff that boy readers like most: nonstop action, spying and adventure, not to mention giant creepy crawlers and chemical potions with amazing capabilities.

Our protagonists are 8-year olds Danny and Josh, two brothers who live next door to a strange old woman—if we can call it an old women, for she happens to be a brilliant ‘mad’ scientist with a secret underground laboratory. One day, searching for their little dog Piddle, the two brothers accidentally end up in the lab doused in a weird yellow substance that later transform them into spiders… and so the real adventure begins as they try to stay alive against predators, figure out what happened to them and how to turn back into their human form.

SWITCH: Spider Stampede is sure to delight young readers ages 6 to 9. The lively line drawings will further get their attention. If you’re looking for a new chapter book series to hook your child with this holiday season, be sure to check this one out!

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Children's Literature Programs in the United States," by Emily Matthews

Children’s literature sets the tone for a child’s future enjoyment of reading. Though a degree in children’s literature by no means is the gold standard by which writers should be judged, anyone who has pursued their craft in their higher education will tell you that intensive study can absolutely change the way you look at the world as your work. If you’re interested in learning more about masters degree programs in children’s literature, read on!

MA in Children's Literature at Simmons College

The Simmon's College Master's in Children's Literature offers an intense, interdisciplinary approach to the art. Students take a critical and historical approach to children's literature, and are asked for a wide range of interpretations such as feminist, marxist, and post-colonial. Classes include Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Folk and Fairy Tales, just to name a few.

Some students choose to finish the program in one year, but most decide to take five or six semesters to finish. At Simmons, students can also enroll in the "dual degree program," in which they can complete their masters degree in Children's Literature in addition to an MFA in Children's Literature, a Teaching Certification, or a degree from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science

MFA and MA in Children's Literature at Hollins University

Hollins University offers a creative program designed to make your work publishable and unique. The program always has a writer-in-residence. For 2012, Nancy Willard will take the position. She is the author of William Blake's Inn, as well as many other works. The program also provides students with a lecture series and visiting writers to stimulate creative work and productive discussion.

For the Hollins MFA, students must take ten courses, each of which are worth four credits. The MA students must take eight courses, also worth four credits each. For the final thesis project, MFA students will present an original work of fiction, poetry or drama. MA students must produce an extended work of critical analysis.

MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College

The Vermont College MFA brings students to the picturesque forests outside Montpelier, Vermont. Most of the program consists in independent study projects, in which students work with faculty outside class. This is possible because there is a small student-to-faculty ratio (5:1). The college's writer-in-residence program is vibrant; this year they will have David Macaulay.

At Vermont College, students can complete their Children's Literature degree at the same time as an MFA in Writing degree. Additionally, the program publishes a literary journal, "Hunger Mountain," to provide professional experience in the publishing world.

Those interested in pursuing children’s literature at the graduate level have ever more choices than those above. Keep researching, and you’re bound to find a program that fits all your needs perfectly.

Emily Matthews is currently applying to master’s degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.