Friday, March 30, 2012

Interview with Kathy Stemke, author of Trouble on Earth Day

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy Stemke has published over one hundred articles in directories, magazines and websites. She is a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Stemke is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.

Award winning author, Kathy Stemke’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next two picture books, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, and Trouble on Earth Day were released in 2011. Both of these books have been awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. Visit her book blog at

Mrs.Stemke offers great teaching tips and children’s book reviews as well as a monthly newsletter titled, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM, on her blog,


What was your favorite book as a child?

I have fond memories of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. The brilliant illustrations popped off the pages and made my imagination soar. My favorite poem, which I recited to anyone who would listen, was “My Shadow.” It opened up the fascinating world of science as I pondered where shadows came from and how they change throughout the day. Poems like “The Swing” still bring back memories of flying high into the air for hours at the park with friends. I was recently thrilled when asked to teach these very poems to a kindergarten student I was tutoring.

What is the best advice on writing you've ever received?

The best writing advice that I received or that I could give is to become part of a good critique group. In fact, joining multiple critique groups is even better. You not only learn from the critiques but also from reading the writings of other professionals. You become part of the evolution of a story from first draft to almost finished book. As a writer you’re too close to the work to be totally objective. You need other points of view.

Having said that, however, remember to weigh their advice carefully. Be true to your vision while adjusting the content.

What are you working on now?

My WIP is a historical fiction based on my mother’s life in WWII England titled, Winnie’s War. The research has been fascinating. I now have a better understanding of the experiences, hopes and fears that helped to shape her personality.

Can you tell us about your children’s books?

Since my background is in physical education and primary education my books and activities are fun to experience, educational and foster movement.

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep takes kids on an adventure with Zachary and his new baby sister as he uses his super powers to keep her asleep. The rhymes in the story and the activities in the supplement feature the consonant blends sh, th, ch, br, and gr.

Trouble on Earth Day is a charming story of friendship and cooperation. Shelby wins an Earth Day poster contest and learns to rethink, reuse and recycle Earth’s precious resources. When she meets a homeless bluebird, she uses her new knowledge to rescue him and bring singing back to the forest. The twenty-three pages of activities include comprehension and discussion questions, action songs and games, worksheets, recycling crafts, and the history of Earth Day. Both books were recently awarded the Children’s Literary Seal of Approval.

Where are your books available?

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep is available through the publisher, and through Amazon, B&N, and other online stores.

Trouble on Earth Day is available at a discounted price on my blog: and through Amazon, B&N, and other online stores.

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

Interactive ebooks are the future. I see kids choosing different pathways and endings in a book. Maybe they could change the characteristics of the characters which would change the story or they might change the color scheme of the illustrations. As a former teacher, I can imagine worksheets, games and puzzles which reinforce educational concepts as well. The possibilities are endless. Kids are computer savvy and eager to experiment.

Throughout the book tour visitors will be asked to send their best EARTH photo to to be displayed on the last day of the tour. A winner will be selected and awarded a $10 gift card.

Sign up for Kathy's FREE monthly newsletter, Movement and Rhythm:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winner announced!

The winner of my Spring Buzz Giveaway is........................................ desitheblonde from

Major congrats, Desi! I'll be contacting you soon!

Thanks to all who participated!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Writer's Life with Children's Author Karen Cioffi

Writing itself has a number of rules that need to be adhered to, but that said, I don’t think any two writers have the same writing routine, and while I’m sure many writers have a typical writing day, I’m not one of them. Although, I am working on becoming more structured in this area.

Between babysitting my grandsons two days a week, taking care of a house and cooking . . . and a husband, and throwing in doctor appointments, my weeks themselves vary. Add to this ghosting projects and other writing projects that come along and, well, it’s tough to stick to a routine. But as my writing coach, Suzanne Lieurance always tells me, you MUST make the time to move your ‘real’ goals forward and stick to a weekly writing schedule if you want to realize your personal writing goals. So, I’m working hard at it.

In general though, my routine is to check my emails when I first get on the computer. While this can be a ‘bad’ thing, I do it in case a client or someone else in the writing world is trying to contact me. If I have a timely project that needs to get done, I’ll forego checking my emails in the morning.

My problem with checking emails or going online isn’t because of social networks or entertainment – I get sidetracked with informative emails. A writing or marketing article, webinar, etc. will have me off and running. I do try to watch it though. If I’m busy, I’ll save the email and go back to it at a later time.

I do have one rule that’s consistent - my clients’ work always gets done on time.

After I do the needed writing for the day, I’ll check in on my writing groups. There are some days I’m just too busy though. Depending on what I’m doing, If it’s something timely or I’m engrossed in, I’ll be at the computer till around 11 PM. But, the days I babysit, I don’t get much done.

As far as where I write, I wish I had an office. Unfortunately, I work in a corner of my dining room at a computer desk that has two additional shelves above the monitor area. The keyboard slides out from under the monitor shelf. Under that are two shelves that have paper, books, the router, lots of wires, and the computer box. Above the monitor shelf is another shelf that holds my printer and telephone, above that is another shelf that holds my fax machine and pictures of my grandsons.

Along with my business writing, for my personal creative writing I use the computer. I’ve tried writing on paper, but my thoughts are just too fast for my handwriting. Another feature I like that the computer offers is the ‘backspace’ and ‘delete’ buttons. As soon as I realize I want to change something, like magic, it’s revised. I do keep notepads around to jot down ‘sparks of inspiration’ or to jot down something I forgot to do or need to do. But, the computer is my favorite writing tool. And, I just upgraded to a new Dell computer with 6 GB of memory and a 1 TB hard drive, along with MS Word 2010, so I’m in writing heaven.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Book Review: A Boy Called Duct Tape, by Christopher Cloud

A Boy Called Duct Tape is a fast-paced, exciting adventure story for middle-grade readers about three kids in search of the long lost Jesse James treasure.

The story starts with 12-year old Pablo and his 9-year old sister diving for stones at Harper's Hole, in James Creek, at the base of Bear Mountain in Jamesville. A little while back, Pablo had discovered an underground spring feeding the hole. That's why the deep hole is always so cold. Harper's Hole has a special place in their hearts because it was first introduced to them by their father, now dead for 3 years.

This time, however, the kids find a $20 gold coin at the bottom of the hole. The coin has tiny stars around it and is dated 1879. Needless to say, the siblings get super excited by their discovery. As soon as Pablo gets home, he does an internet search and finds out that the coin could be worth $6,250!

A few days later their 13-year old cousin Kiki comes to visit for 2 weeks, just in time for the Outlaw Days Festival held in Jamesville. The festival happens to celebrate one of the town's most famous guests, Jesse James. At the festival, the trio purchase a 'fake' map leading to Jesse James' infamous treasure.

But what if the map happens to be real? And what if they're not the only ones after the treasure?

I really enjoyed reading this story! Suspense, mystery and adventure will keep readers turning pages. The whole concept about Jesse James' treasure and the coins is intriguing. The language is appropriate for this age group and the author uses lots of dialogue and action sequences to propel the story forward. The plot is well constructed and the voice of the protagonists genuine for their ages. There's just the right amount of danger and humor. Readers will especially enjoy the villains and the chase scenes in the caves.

Because of its historical and educational value (there's a lot in it about numismatology, the study of coins), A Boy Called Duct Tape would make an interesting classroom read. Recommended.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Spring Buzz Giveaway has officially started!

Hello everyone! The Spring Buzz has officially started! It will run from 12:01 AM EST on March 21 and end at 11:59 PM on March 27th.

I'll be giving away the following prizes to one lucky winner:

1. A print copy of my award-winning nonfiction book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing 

2. A print copy of my middle-grade chapbook, How to Turn Your Book Club into a Spectacular Event

3. A print copy of my vampire novel, Embraced by the Shadows

Total value: $42.85!

To enter my giveaway, all you have to do is:

1. Follow my blog via Google Friend Connect (right sidebar)
2. Leave a comment with your contact info

The Grand Prize will be a Kindle Fire sponsored by BeeSavy! Details below: 

Spring Buzz GRAND PRIZE! Make sure to ENTER TO WIN a Kindle Fire!

Spring Buzz Hop is hosted by Sweep Tight and Just Married with Coupons and the Grand Prize is sponsored by BeeSavy.  Save Time, Save Money, Make Money. See what the buzz is about at BeeSavy.

The link to enter:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Writer's Life with Children’s Author, Donna McDine PLUS $25 Paypal Giveaway!

Hi Mayra, thank you for hosting me on the second day of my Working Writer’s Club Virtual Book Tour. Several years ago, when my daughter began taking violin lessons I came across your book The Magic Violin to give to my daughter and we were both mesmerized with the story and illustrations. Who would have thought several years later we would become colleagues (fellow angels) at Guardian Angel Publishing.

Today, I’d like to share what my writing life is like and that no two days are the same. As much as I want my writing schedule to be the same every day it is just impossible. Beyond my writing, I am the owner of Author PR Services (, the Working Writer’s Club Publicist (, and Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids Ezine ( And with the daily book marketing efforts for The Golden Pathway, carving out the necessary writing time needs to occur before I tackle any of the above. Now that both my girls head out to school at 7 am, I make sure I’m ready for my writing session no later than 8:00 am. I spend at least 30 minutes three times a week away from my computer until I get a first full draft written. This way I don’t have the distraction of the good old Internet and email. Both the Internet and email are wonderful tools, but if I don’t monitor carefully, before I know it I’ve spent the majority of my day on these two things alone. Thirty minutes may not seem a lot but you would be surprised how much you really can get done. This way when I start focusing on my other responsibilities that little voice is not nagging me that I haven’t written today. It makes for a much more focused day.

And before I know it the girls are home and I get a little bit more of a reprieve while they are working on their homework before the grind of making dinner and driving them to their various activities of Leo Club volunteer group, fashion design lessons, religion, and basketball and lacrosse practices. This spring Nicole and I will be spending quite a bit of time in visiting her top five choices of colleges. Then before you know it (Yikes) the college application process will begin!

To make my days even more organized and focused I planned out my “Three Major Goals” with guidance from Suzanne Lieurance at the Working Writer’s Club and what I’d like to accomplish to achieve these goals on a quarterly basis. Before the New Year began I zoned in on what I truly wanted for my writing career in 2012 and broke it down into three manageable goals without overloading each of my days. By leaving room for unexpected opportunities or family responsibilities alleviates the frustration of not getting my tasks done.

I truly believe that my years working in Fortune 500 companies for multiple bosses at one time have afforded me the training to be able to shift gears easily and effectively. No two days may be the same, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To learn more about my writing career or to order an autographed copy of The Golden Pathway visit, Gift with purchase: The Golden Pathway Educator’s Guide.

Additional ways to order The Golden Pathway:

Guardian Angel Publishing:


Thank you for visiting with me today. I appreciate your time and interest. Please enter below at a chance to win a $25 PayPal payment.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The third day of my virtual book tour continues tomorrow at Suzanne Lieurance’s blog There visitors can enter again at a chance to win a $25 PayPal payment.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Writer’s Life with Children’s Author Nancy I. Sanders

Featured Book:
D is for Drinking Gourd: An African American Alphabet
Author: Nancy I. Sanders
Illustrator: E. B. Lewis
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Book’s Website:

Mini Interview

Q. What is a typical writing day like for you?
A. Over the years, my writing schedule has reflected the seasons in my life. When I first started writing, I had a newborn and a two-year old. When I was busy caring for the boys during the day, I was constantly brainstorming ideas. When I put them down for their naps, I’d sit down to write.

Now I have the luxury of writing from the moment I get up until my husband, Jeff, comes home from teaching fourth grade in a public elementary school. Both our sons are grown and gone and live nearby. So I can be found writing some days from 6:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. It’s a writer’s dream come true! I keep pinching myself to make sure it’s real, but know as new phases and stages of life come by, new writing schedules will appear.

Every other week or so I have writing groups that meet in my home, so I’m usually writing four full days a week. Before breakfast, I work on little projects such as submitting my current book for state reading lists and awards. After breakfast, I work all morning on my current major project, which over the years has usually been a book deadline. After lunch, I work on short writing projects such as magazine articles, social networking, marketing, new book proposals, and writing for my church.

Q. Where do you write?
A. Now that our sons are grown, I have the luxury of writing all over the house! I remember those early years of writing on a card table on our porch or on a desk squeezed in the corner of our bedroom. I guess those memories help me appreciate all the space I can write in today!

In our office, there are three desks. Two of them are my writing desks. One desk is where my desktop is. The other desk is where my laptop is. Each desk has research books, file folders, and notes on a major writing project I’m currently working on.

I split half my computer time between my desktop and my laptop. Alternating between the two helps keep my eyestrain and wrist strain to a minimum. Also, I carry my laptop out to my couch/recliner where I can type with our two writing buddies, our kittens Sandman and Pitterpat, napping next to me. And when I want a change of scenery I write in our living room looking out the window at our birdfeeders.

Depending on my writing projects, I also spread out my research and notes and manuscript files either on our dining room table or on a 6-foot folding table in the former-boys-bedroom-turned-library. I find I work best if I can keep a project spread out on a single large table and not have to put it away every night. It keeps the flow going smoothly from one day to the next and one chapter to the next. 

Be sure to follow Nancy's virtual book tour! A complete schedule can be found HERE

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Writer’s Life with Children’s Author Kathryn Kessler

Welcome to the second day of my five day virtual book tour for my book, Marvin Discovers the Beach. Let me say thank you for continuing this journey with me...

When it is time to write the next adventure for Marvin to discover, I choose one of my favorite places to find inspiration. Sometimes, I pick a secluded and comfortable corner of the park close to our house or I take a short drive to the farm where I grew up. The Farm is my place to find inspiration as I reminisce about the adventures I created as a child.

Of course, I take Marvin and Hibou. For they are the one’s that create the adventure and lend themselves to my inner child and imagination. We go for a walk together and as Marvin and Hibou explore, I let my imagination take over. As ideas come to me, I record them on my smart phone.

On the day I choose to sit and write, I typically pick a day when there is no one home and the house is quiet, except for Marvin, Hibou and I. I grab my laptop and smart phone (turn off the ringer), build a nest of pillows on my bed, call the dogs into my room, shut the door and nestle into my pillow nest and start creating. If anyone were to listen outside the door, I am sure they would think I am nuts; as I talk to Marvin and Hibou while creating the story out loud as I type notes on my computer.

For me, writing on the computer is more convenient. I can share my documents between my laptop and IPad and I can keep all my drafts all in a secure place.

The length of time it takes to write each story varies. It could take an hour or four hours. I have discovered that it depends on how inspired I am to write the specific adventure and how strong my inner child is on that specific day. I do not leave a story open on the first draft. I like to finish the adventure on the first day.

After a couple of days, I go back to the first draft of the story and read it. I will make adjustments and add or subtract details. My first audience for the new adventure is my husband and sons. I read the story aloud to them and watch their reactions. Sometimes, halfway through the story, I will stop and change a small detail or sentence and start over again. With their suggestions and ideas, the story is completed. Of course, in my little circle of picture book critics, my family; my grand-daughter has the last word about the story before it goes to the editor.

My little process takes about a week. I could create faster; yet I have found this is the best “routine” for me. I create better when I am relaxed and embracing the moment.

To discover more about Marvin (and me) visit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Celebrate Read an Ebook Week with Twilight Times Books

Read an Ebook Week begins today!

Twilight Times Books, publisher of critically acclaimed Literary, Mystery and SF/F books, is offering a special during ‘Read an Ebook Week,’ from March 4-10, 2012.

A FREE ebook will be given away each day.

Some of these books include:

How I Wrote My First Book: The Story behind the Story
Twenty authors tell amazing stories about the efforts that went into writing their first boo

Book Reviewers Talk about their Craft
A series of interviews with 22 publishing professionals regarding book reviewing including Magdalena Ball, Judi Clark, James Cox, Lesa Holstine, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cheryl C. Malandrinos, Sharyn McGinty, Alex Moore, Stephanie Padilla, Andrea Sisco, Irene Watson and others.

Thirty popular titles are available for $3.50 or less via Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, and OmniLit until March 10th during Read an E-Book Week.

In addition, ebook ARCs now available for the following upcoming releases:
, historical novel by Ralph Freedman
Equity of Evil, medical thriller by Rudy Mazzocchi
Essentially Yours, mystery by Aaron Paul Lazar
Griffin's Fire, fantasy by Darby Karchut
Shadows of Kings, epic fantasy by Jack Whitsel
The Patriot Spy, military historical by S. W. O'Connell.

Happy reading! Feel free to spread the word via Facebook or Twitter!

Win a partial edit from

This from

Dear Readers...'s Revision Week kicks off with Cynthia Leitich Smith, the New
York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of Tantalize, Eternal,
Blessed, Diabolical, and Tantalize: Kieren's Story. Her award-winning books for
younger children include Jingle Dancer, Indian Shoes, Rain Is Not My Indian
Name, and Holler Loudly.

Please join Cynthia and The Editor for Day 1 of Revision Week, and find out how
to win today's "Free Partial Edit"from The Editor.

You may view the latest post at