Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 8/27/10

1. You do your thing; I do mine and sometimes we'll do things together.

2. My husband is what's been on my mind on and off all day.

3. Remember when we didn't have to work so hard.

4. Chocolate, Reading and my husband are three of my favorite obsessions :-)

5. During the last year I haven't really been on a vacation

6. Seeing the children puts a smile on my face.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to resting, tomorrow my plans include walking with friends and Sunday, I want to _____!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Because of A Book with Maya Jax

There are times that I love Blogger, and then other times that I do not.  When my scheduled posts do not get posted, that is one time I do not like Blogger.  With the start of school this week, I knew my life would be hectic and non-stop, so I tried to prepare for that by scheduling posts.  Well, as they say, "the best laid plans of mice and men..."

I'd like to thank Dorothy Thompson and Pump Up Your Book Promotion for allowing me to participate in Maya Jax's blog tour.  Let me first introduce you to Maya.

Loving John Grisham and Janet Evanovich novels, Maya Jax entertained the idea of being a lawyer or a spy and started working at an embassy in Australia while doing her master’s in international relations. During this time, she finished her first screenplay, an action/thriller about spies and nuclear weapons. She pitched it to a friend in Hollywood, who told her she had talent, but to never show the screenplay to anyone again — ever. Realizing her love for writing was stronger than her desire to spy and fight crime, she attempted a second screenplay focusing on what she knew best — trying to make it as a writer. The screenplay turned into a novel and the result was Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me.

You can find Maya at her website, Maya Jax.

Writer for a Reader – Books that Impacted Me As a Child
How Nancy Drew Saved Me From Suburbia by Maya Jax

I have always wanted to be a secret agent – always. When I was in grade school, I had a pair of binoculars covered in hockey stickers, and everyday I would spy on the neighbor’s car across the street because I thought it was suspicious. I would hunker down on the couch, peer out the window and write down everything about the car. Tuesday: It’s parked on the left side of the driveway. Wednesday: It’s parked on the right. Thursday: They’ve moved the car onto the street. There is now an orange air freshener hanging from the rear view mirror. Interesting… But nothing ever came of my neighbor’s car. They were actually an older couple with a little dog and not much excitement outside of take-out Chinese food every Friday. To a wannabe spy the suburbs were torture. I wanted great adventure and riding my bike around the block just wasn’t cutting it.

And then I read Nancy Drew. A detective. A girl detective. I knew of the Hardy Boys, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (and I adored them all!), but Nancy Drew was the first heroine I ever read about that did things I wanted to do. I loved those books. In sixth grade very single book report I did was one of hers. By June everyone was rolling their eyes when I came up to the front of the class. I remember the very last one I did. The story involved a shark at the beach and after I was finished, my teacher called me over to her desk and suggested I start reading something else.

But I didn’t. Instead I expanded my spy kit from binoculars to invisible ink, secret codes and a magnifying glass. I also started a mystery club and forced my two best friends to join. (Ghostbusters had just been released, so I hooked them in by saying we could solve mysteries involving ghosts just like Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston). We spent HOURS going through old photos looking for ghost clues and running tests on Silly Putty with my chemistry set. After a few months of meetings, my friends became very ‘busy’ on our club nights, so I was left to my own devices again and went back to Nancy Drew.

She opened so many doors in my mind. All the adventure I wanted was right there on the page, and unlike TV or movies, I could spend hours in just one story, investing so much into the character. Actually, until now I didn’t realize how much Nancy Drew acted as a foundation for what I read and write now. I love spy and mystery novels, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books are some of my most favorite. The best part about reading is the escape, and for me, Nancy Drew introduced me to the grand world outside my own and laid a foundation for a future love of espionage, travel and just being a girl.

About Nancy Drew - Nancy Drew, the classic mystery-solving heroine, returns in these special-issue omnibus editions. Each collection features three bestselling, classic Nancy Drew mysteries.

The Best of Nancy Drew Classic Collection Volume 1

#1 The Secret of the Old Clock: Nancy Drew's keen mind is tested when she searches for a missing will in this mystery that started them all.

#3 The Bungalow Mystery: When one of Nancy's closest friends suspects her guardians of trying to steal her inheritance, Nancy's search for clues leads her to an old, abandoned bungalow.

#43 The Mystery of the 99 Steps: Despite warnings from a stranger, Nancy sets out for France to search for a flight of 99 steps that may help solve the mystery of a weird dream and a possible case of blackmail.

Buy it at IndieBound

About Escapades of Romantically Challenged Me - Lelaina is trying to make it in LA, but first she has to make it through her trip home... Aspiring screenwriter Lelaina Zane finally lands a Hollywood break, but it's cut short when her dad has a heart attack and she has to return to her home town. Leaving LA for the first time in three years, she returns home to be with her family. And now that she's back, her parents want her to stay and join the family law firm. After three years of unsuccessfully trying to 'make it' in Hollywood, she thinks they might be right. But soon after settling into her new life, Hollywood calls with a potential offer. Lelaina has to decide if she'll stay for her ailing father and the promise of a successful life, or return to LA to pursue what she's always wanted. Torn between her two choices, the decision becomes even harder when her cheating ex -- her first love, first kiss and first... you know -- reappears with apologies and a proposition.

Buy it at Amazon

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Fill-Ins - 8/20/10

1. Laughter keeps us sane.

2. In keeping with are the three words that started off the last email I sent.

3. What I'm most looking forward to today is lunch at Roadhouse with some of my teachers.

4. My husband puts a smile on my face.

5. Where in the world did some people learn to drive!

6. Coffee is just what I needed!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing at home, tomorrow my plans include shopping with my mom and a birthday party for a friend and Sunday, I want to rest up and prepare for the first day of school!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Because Of A Book with Mary Lynn Archibald

I am pleased to have another WOW author with me this week.  Please help me welcome Mary Lynn Archibald to the blog.

Mary Lynn Archibald is a freelance editor and copywriter, and the author of two books: Briarhopper: A History, a memoir of one woman’s life from 1913-1945, and Accidental Cowgirl: Six Cows, No Horse and No Clue, a lighthearted personal memoir of a greenhorn’s life on a small cattle ranch. Her forthcoming memoir, due out in early 2011, deals in part with her life as a San Francisco chorus girl.

It's difficult to say which book made me want to become a writer, but they say early influences on a child are the most significant.

If that's true, Misty of Chincoteague comes to mind. I must have been in the fourth grade when I read it, and it made an indelible impression. Partly of course, it was because I wanted a horse so badly at that age, as most young girls do.

But I think that primarily the book had such a hold on me because of several key things:

• The horse was a symbol of freedom

• Misty was a creature of mythical proportions

• The foal, Misty, I imagined was me

That story captured my imagination, drew me into its world, and didn't let go.

Funny thing is, I never had a horse of my own, and I only rode one twice in my 70-plus years. It turned out that I was allergic to horsehair, and terrified of riding horses.

Good thing my cattle ranch experience didn't involve them, as we did all our cattle herding on foot—a rather perilous pursuit, when dealing with animals that weigh nearly 1000 pounds.

Of course there were many other stories that thrilled me in those early years of reading. My mother had read the Grimm Fairy Tales to me when I was very young, and as soon as I could read them for myself, I nearly wore the book out rereading my favorite stories. “The Goose Girl” and “The Princess and the Frog” were the best, although I suspect their principle attraction was the illustrations of the beautiful heroines in my book. I could imagine I was them, too.

I also read Bobby Bubbles, another imaginatively illustrated children's book, which was a story about a boy who blew a bubble so big it carried him away to strange lands and interesting adventures. That was another one my mother had read to me when I was probably three, and that I reread as I grew older.

I knew I wanted to create stories like that, too. But the book that I reread most of all was Winnie the Pooh. It's one of the few I still read as an adult, because it contains so many universal truths of the sort we so desperately need these days.

Books have always been my teachers. Which books have been yours?

Mary Lynn has graciously offered a copy of Accidental Cowgirl to one of my readers.  Please comment below if you'd like to be entered.  Winner will be chosen at random.  Open to US/Canada addresses.  Contest ends Tuesday, Aug. 24th at midnight.

About Misty of Chincoteague - Nobody could capture the Phantom. She was the wildest mare on Assateague Island. They said she was like the wind, that the white "map" on her shoulders was her mark of freedom.
Paul and Maureen Beebe had their hearts set on owning her. They were itching to buy and tame her, and worked hard to earn the money that she would cost. But the roundup men had tried to capture her and for two years she had escaped them....
Pony Penning Day holds a surprise for everyone, for Paul not only brings in the Phantom, but her newborn colt as well. Can Paul and Maureen possibly earn enough to buy them both?

Buy it at IndieBound

About Accidental Cowgirl - In 1990, we heard the wilderness call to us, and, God help us, we answered. Of course, we had no business trying to run a full-time ranch with no experience. People tried to tell us that "The Simple Life" wasn't so simple, but we weren't listening. If you're over 50, or in a job rut, or looking for adventure (or all of the above), and you yearn for a tranquil country hideaway, please read this cautionary tale first.

Buy it at IndieBound

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blog Tour - Fur and Feathers

Today I have the privilege of interviewing the illustrator of the newly released children's book, Fur and Feathers, by Janet Halfmann.  Laurie Klein graciously answered some questions for me just for this blog tour and I'm so excited to share her thoughts with you.  I hope you enjoy what she has to say.  If so, please leave her a comment and let her know your thoughts.

WFAR - Please tell us a little about yourself.

Laurie - I guess the biggest thing is, I have always loved to draw and from my earliest memory made up stories and illustrated them (i even still have some of those early efforts). I grew up in Philadelphia, PA (before moving to Florida when i was 8) and i distinctly remember one of the strongest creative influences from that time - a local kids program, "Cartoon Corners General Store" hosted by Gene London. I tell this story a lot (it comes up in every bio) but i really do credit him (along with Disney animation and being read to as a child) as my inspiration. Between showing cartoons and other character bits on the program, Mr. London would tell stories (fairy tales, myths, legends) and illustrate them on big sheets of paper. That was truly my first introduction into the art of illustration and i have wanted to do it ever since. Art major in school, art studio major in college (Maryville College in maryville, TN), then worked as a graphic and paste-up artist in Atlanta, GA before deciding to do freelance illustration full time. Which i have been doing pretty steadily (with breaks to be a mom) for the past 25 years.

WFAR - How were you chosen to illustrate Fur and Feathers?

Laurie - As a freelance artist and illustrator you are always sending out samples and taking your portfolio around trying to drum up interest and, of course, work. It's actually the hardest part of the job (and, truth be told, my least favorite). I was showing my portfolio and my work caught the attention of Loran Wlodarski who had written a children's story and was looking for an illustrator. We wound up collaborating on the book (If A Dolphin Were A Fish) and Loran spent 7 years sending it out to publishers with little success. Ironically it was Loran's expertise as a science writer that brought him to the attention of Sylvan Dell (they contacted him about checking the content of one of their new books). He told them about "Dolphin" and they liked both the story and my illustrations so that is how i got my foot in the door (or perhaps that should be pencil). After that, when SD would get a manuscript that they felt suited my style, they would call and see if i would be interested in illustrating it. I had already done three animal books for SD so F&F was right up my alley.

WFAR - Have you worked with the author and/or publishers before?

Laurie - Yes, on both counts. My very next book for Sylvan Dell (after If A Dolphin Were A Fish) was Little Skink's Tail, written by Janet Halfmann. Skink was my second book for SD and my first book working with Janet and since Janet is the author of F&F i couldn't resist tucking in a few little "Easter Eggs" (to use a DVD term) in the new book. On page 2 - the wind storm - Little Skink is rather prominently shown getting sucked into the vortex and on page where Sophia id getting the jar of slime for the frog, Little Skink's Tail (along with my two other books) is on the shelf.

WFAR - What materials or techniques did you use to illustrate Fur and Feathers?

Laurie - F&F was done with Prismacolor color pencils on Stonehenge paper. I tend to apply a lot of layers when i color - i start with Black Grape and work out all the shadows and darker areas then start applying various shades. It's all a bit trial and error but i discovered a great technique in a color pencil book that i use pretty extensively - once the pencil is down on the paper i take a brush and go over it with odorless mineral spirits and it helps blend it and make the color a bit more fluid (almost like water color).

WFAR - What else have you illustrated?

Laurie - As noted I have done 4 books for Sylvan Dell: If A Dolphin Were A Fish by Loran Wlodarski
Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann
Where Should Turtle Be? by Susan Ring
Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann
and I am currently working on my 5th book for SD, Meet the Planets by John McGranaghan, which comes out Spring 2011.
Prior to my wok for Sylvan Dell I illustrated 4 books for Peachtree Publishers in Atlanta - Out To Pasture, Over What Hill?, Older But Wilder, and One More Time all by Effie Leland Wilder.
And I have done spot illustrations for several educational books, camp field guides, and activity booklets for SeaWorld Adventure Park.

WFAR - What are your favorites?

Laurie - Oo, this could be dangerous - and lengthy - but I'll try to keep it to the top few in each category.

     Author - depending on my obsession of the moment I tend to read a lot of history/science/philosophy/non-fiction books so "author" doesn't come into play much. I have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on every free wall so the list is pretty eclectic but I DO still have some favorites (particularly from childhood) that come to mind: Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ursula K. LeGuin, Diane Ackerman, Carl Sagan, J. R. R. Tolkien, A.A. Milne, Joan Aiken, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Marguerite De Angeli,. Marguerite Henry, Austin Tappan Wright, Barbara Tuchman, Lois Lowry, Karen Cushman, Charles Dickens....

     Food - Everything - really. I love trying new things (and want desperately to eat some of the weird stuff Andrew Zimmern eats on Bizarre Foods) but hummus is a particular favorite. And sushi, pizza, and chips & cheese (a family snack food must).

     Color - the quick answer would be blue, but technically I really like all colors, or at least many different hues and shades of all colors.

     Book - If my author list was eclectic (and long) my favorite books list is even longer so I'll just keep this list to the books that had a big impact on me or i go back to time and a gain and have read more than two or three times: Lord of the Rings, Islandia, Little Women, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Dispossessed, ...And Ladies of the Club, Beautiful Joe, Black Beauty, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Guns of August, Cross Creek, A Distant Mirror, Catherine - Called Birdie.
- That of course is an abbreviated list of individual titles but in terms of favorite Subject Matter in general - I have entire shelves of books dedicated to polar explorers and exploration, travel, Florida (history and stories), whales & dolphins, art & artists, science & science fiction and - of course - children's books!!

I could go on forever, and you did list "Other", but I'll end with...

     Artist - As with authors and books the list is long, but a few key influences come to mind (and because i simply can't leave them out) - Tasha Tudor, Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen, N. C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, Edmund Dulac, Edward Gorey, Alan Lee, John Howe, Trina Schart Hyman, Brian Froud, Charlie Harper, M. C. Escher, Toulouse-Lautrec, and the 9 Old Men of Disney Animation. But let me stress - this just scratches the surface!!!!!

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Laurie!  I really enjoyed your thoughts as we corresponded getting this interview together!  

Sylan Dell has been gracious to offer one of my lucky readers a 3-month e-book license for all of Sylvan Dell Publishing’s 55 book.  All you have to do is let me know in the comments that you'd like to be entered.  This contest is open internationally and will run through midnight, Friday Aug. 20.  

You can watch the Fur and Feathers trailer here

Here is the full tour schedule in case you missed any of the posts.

Day 1 Thursday Aug. 5
Cafe of Dreams

Day 2 Friday Aug. 6
Interview with author Janet Halfmann & Giveaway of hardcover Fur and Feathers personalized by Laurie & Janet (ship US only)
Katie’s Nesting Spot

Day 3 Saturday Aug. 7 - rescheduled for Friday, Aug. 13
Interview with illustrator Laurie Allen Klein & Giveaway of 3-month e-book license for all of Sylvan Dell Publishing’s 55 books (international)
Write for a Reader

Day 4 Sunday Aug. 8
She Is too Fond of Books

Day 5 Monday Aug. 9
Guest post by Laurie Allen Klein and Giveaway—choice of hardcover Fur and Feathers personalized by Janet & Laurie (ship US only) or 3-month e-book license for all of Sylvan Dell Publishing’s 55 books (international)
Pudgy Penguins Perusals

Day 6 Tuesday Aug. 10 (Official release date)
Review and Giveaway—choice of hardcover Fur and Feathers personalized by Janet & Laurie (ship US only) or 3-month e-book license for all of Sylvan Dell Publishing’s 55 books (international)
Brimful Curiosities

Day 7 Wednesday Aug. 11
Review & Giveaway of hardcover Fur and Feathers personalized by Laurie & Janet (ship US only)
Outnumbered 3-1

Day 8 Thursday Aug. 12
Guest post (“The Wonders of Writing about Nature”) by author Janet Halfmann & Giveaway of hardcover Fur and Feathers personalized by Laurie & Janet (ship US only)
Lori Calabrese

Friday Fill-Ins - 8/13/10

1. Music is constantly playing in my office.

2. Coffee is what I like first thing in the morning.

3. The first thing I said this morning was:"Get down," to the dog .

4. I'm not sure; it's what's for dinner tonight.

5. It's all been pretty crazy

6.Sleeping is what I feel like doing right now.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to relaxing with hubby, tomorrow my plans include working at school and then a friend's b-day party and Sunday, I want to rest because inservice starts on Monday!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Because of A Book with Diana Raab

Today has been a crazy day with rescheduled blog tours and overbooked Because of A Book features. I apparently had 2 different authors scheduled for today due to a reschedule from last week.  Enjoy today's WOW author and look for another one to come in the weeks ahead.

Today I am pleased to have WOW author, Diana Raab joining me.

Diana M. Raab, MFA, RN was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954 and received her undergraduate degree in Health Administration and Journalism in 1976. A few years later she received her RN degree. After 25 years as a medical and self-help writer, she’s directed her creative energy towards nonfiction and memoir writing. In 2003 she earned her MFA in Writing from Spalding University’s low-residency program.

She is the author of eight books. Her most recent release, Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey (2010) is a memoir/self-help book which includes reflections, experiences, journal entries and poems all emphasizing the healing power of writing. In addition to extensive appendices, each chapter finishes with blank pages and journaling prompts for the reader to write about their own experiences.

Her first memoir, Regina's Closet: Finding My Grandmother's Secret Journal (2007) is the recipient of the 2009 Mom’s Choice Award for Adult Non-Fiction, and the 2009 National Indie Award for Excellence in Memoir.

Diana’s has been writing since a very young age. Currently, she teaches creative journaling and memoir in UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. She facilitates workshops in journaling and writing for healing around the country. She is a frequent moderator for panels on writing.

She's editor of the anthology, Writers and Their Notebooks (USC Press 2010), a collection of essays written by distinguished writers who journal, including Sue Grafton, Kim Stafford, Dorianne Laux, John DuFresne, James Brown and Michael Steinberg, to name a few. The foreword is written by world-renowned personal essayist, Phillip Lopate.

After experiencing three successful, but high-risk pregnancies, she wrote a comprehensive guide for other women. The award-winning Getting Pregnant and Staying Pregnant (1989) which was recently updated and revised in collaboration with Dr. Errol Norwitz of Yale School of Medicine under the new title, Your High Risk Pregnancy: A Practical and Supportive Guide (2009).

Raab's award-winning work has been published in numerous literary magazines and is widely anthologized. She has one poetry chapbook, My Muse Undresses Me and two poetry collections, Dear Anais: My Life in Poems For You winner of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Award for Poetry and the newly released The Guilt Gene.

How Writing Can Help Us Heal
Diana M. Raab

At the age of ten, I made my first journal entry. My grandmother had just committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills in her room next to mine. It was Labor Day Weekend, 1964, and my parents were both at work. I cracked open her bedroom door and grandma lay in bed completely still with a Graham Greene book and a pair of glasses resting on her chest. The sheer curtains swayed in the breeze as if waving good-bye.

After the commotion of ambulances, paramedics, and my parents frantically rushing about, the grief of this loss penetrated like a deep-seated bullet. But, healing only began days later, when my mother handed me my first journal. I poured my grief onto its pages. Little did my mother know that her seemingly benign gesture set the platform for my life as a writer.

In fact, over the years, I’ve learned that when in distress, many writers do turn to writing because it is a form of catharsis and/or therapy. We can say that when life takes an unexpected turn, journals can become our best friends. Poet Langston Hughes said, “When I feel bad, I write in order to keep from feeling worse.” Writing to feel better is probably the most common reason people crack open their journals. Therapists often suggest journaling as a part of the healing process to help channel problems. Poet Kim Stafford says that the journal lets him wallow, if that’s what he needs. “But,” he says, “the act of writing lifts me out.”

The challenges surrounding illness can also become a catalyst for journaling.  “When it hurts write harder,” one colleague tells me. During the my breast cancer journey, my journal became the forum for venting my fears and frustrations. Eventually parts of my journal entries ended up in my recently released self-help memoir, Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey.

Over the years, journaling has been a healthy habit like brushing my teeth. It’s such a powerful tool for our fast-paced and hi-tech existence where TVs, radios, and cell phones clog up our auditory receptors. Some argue that journaling on a computer provides quicker results, but I’m really against it. Not only does the act of using a pen and paper slow us down, but recent studies have shown that we dig deeper into our psyches with a pen in hand.

For the writer, the journal or notebook is not only to a place to play around with words and voice, but it is a place to foster a more intimate relationship with who we are. The journal is also be a place to gather momentum and excitement about writing, akin to the artist’s sketchbook. Many writers, including myself, use their journals as catch-alls for personal experiences, observations and seeds for future works.

Writers such as James Brown says that his journals serve as tools for their creative work: “For me, the journal is a kind of stepping stone to a larger, more refined work. That could be a memoir, a novel, a short story, the personal essay or a script.”

Don’t laugh but it’s important to secure the proper tools for journaling, which include having a seductive and readily available notebook and pen. A few years ago while on vacation with my husband in Hawaii, I was caught without my tools. We’d gotten up early for a drive in the country. Moments after we climbed into our rental car and had already driven a mile up the road, I realized that I’d forgotten my notebook. In a literary panic, I asked my husband to stop at a remote gas station, but, much to my dismay, they had nothing that resembled a writing pad. A few miles later, standing on its own, was a general store, glowing with promise. I entered like a child searching for candy, only to learn that they also had no pads. Head hanging low once again, I walked back to the car, but before pulling the door open, I made an abrupt about-face.

I returned to the cashier and asked for the key to the ladies’ room. From the roll on the wall, I yanked out a stack of paper towels, a suitable, but fragile substitute for a journal. I pondered about what a desperate writer would do for something to scribble on. I was now set to continue my private internal dialogue and ready to plant the seeds which might one day blossom into fine verse. And this is one of the greatest joys of being a writer!

Graciously, the author has offered a copy of this book to one of my readers.  Please comment below and you are entered.  Contest is open to US/Canada residents and ends Tuesday, Aug. 17th at midnight.  Winner will be chosen at random and posted on the 18th.  Good luck...spread the word!

About Healing With Words:  Healing With Words: A Writer's Cancer Journey is a compassionate and wry self-help memoir written by an award-winning prolific author, nurse and poet, who at the age of forty-seven found her life shattered first by a DCIS (early breast cancer) diagnosis and five years later by another, seemingly unrelated and incurable cancer--multiple myeloma. The book includes the author's experiences, reflections, poetry and journal entries, in addition to writing prompts for readers to express their own personal story. Raab's journals have provided a safe haven and platform to validate and express her feelings. Raab views journaling to be like a daily vitamin--in that it heals, detoxifies and is essential for optimal health.

Readers will learn to:

  • Understand the importance of early cancer detection and how to take control of their own health

  • Discover the power of writing to release bottled-up emotions

  • Learn how the process of journaling can facilitate healing

  • See how a cancer diagnosis can be a riveting event which can renew and change a person in a unique way

  • Buy it at Amazon

    Blog Tour - Write the Right Words

    I am happy to be hosting another TLC Book Tour today.  This post was originally supposed to go up last week, but apparently Blogger had issues with my scheduled posts...happened more than once.

    Title:  Write the Right Words
    Author:  Sandra E. Lamb
    Review Copy Provided by St. Martin's Press

    About the Book:  A Warm and Practical Guide to Writing the Perfect Card Message
    Are you at a complete loss for words when a birthday card or congratulatory card circulates at the office?
    When was the last time you mailed a “thinking of you” card to a faraway family member, just to say hello?
    What should you write to a grieving friend? How do you comfort a colleague in a time of need?
    Every greeting card needs a personal, handwritten message to make it complete. In this comprehensive, encouraging guide, journalist and lifestyle expert Sandra Lamb offers a wealth of advice, inspiration, and examples for anyone who wants to add the perfect personal touch to their card messages---as well as anyone who wants to know the etiquette of when and what to write.
    Something as small as a heartfelt message on a greeting card can help remedy our hectic, e-mail--dependent lives. Lamb provides tips and sample messages for every occasion under the sun, both happy and somber (thank-you, birthday, birth and adoption, condolence), and explains the meanings of possibly unfamiliar holidays and religious rituals to aid in the writing of appropriate messages.

    My Review:  This book is going to be my new best friend!  I attended a workshop this summer about relationships.  Yes, it was for school, but I can apply it to my personal life as well.  One of the things I committed to doing, afterwards, is staying connected with my family and friends through notes and cards.  Write the Right Words is going to enable me to do that even better!

    The book is broken up into seven parts: Connecting Messages, Happy Day Messages, Holiday Messages, Social Grace Messages, Care and Concern Messages, Creating a New Relationship Messages, and Dates to Remember.  I especially enjoyed the part in Connecting Messages on Connecting with Greeting Cards.  It tells you how to make the most of your handwritten message:
    "Your handwritten message supplies what's so often missing in our lives: the richness of shared humanity, and the sense that we are connected one to another."
    I so agree with that quote.  We do so much of our correspondence through email, text messages, and social networks, that the art and sincerity of the handwritten note or card has been lost.  I love the specialness that a note or card brings to me, and I want to do that for others.

    Another part of the book that I enjoyed was Care and Concern Messages.  There are times of sickness or loss, and I want to send a note, but I'm not sure at all what to say.  Well, that day is over.  For example, each type of care or concern gives message etiquette, quotes to use, and suggested messages.  Here's a suggested message to send someone who has been diagnosed with cancer:
    "It's an ugly word-'cancer.' But I've never known you to shrink from a real challenge.  We're all betting on your resilience and fight.  In case we haven't said it recently: You're very important to us.  We care what happens to you. And we all want you around for a very long time to come.  We're sending you our best wishes and prayers."
    Wow!  Talk about a great message.  I'm not sure I could have thought of that on my own.   The book is set up that way throughout.  Each part lists different types of notes/cards or occasions, and then gives the etiquette, quotes and suggested messages.  I love the way Ms. Lamb has organized the book.  It is very user friendly and gives you exactly what you need when you are at a loss for words.

    This is definitely one that will be staying out in my office so that I can refer to it constantly.  If you are the card sending type, or desire to be, I hope you'll pick up this book.

    Sandra Lamb has also written Personal Notes and How to Write It.  I will be checking these titles out as well!

    The author has graciously offered up an autographed copy for one of my readers.  Just comment on this post and you're entered.  It's that easy!  Make sure to leave your email so I can contact you.  This contest will end a week from today, Tuesday August 17th at midnight.  The winner will be chosen at random and notified on the 18th.  Open to US/Canada only.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Friday Fill-Ins - 8/6/10

    1. Life is too short.

    2.Just smile and keep going.

    3. My last text message (or IM) ended in these three words: I love you.

    4. Fried catfish is what I'm thinking about for dinner sometime soon.

    5. On the 1st day of August I spent my last lazy Sunday before going back to work.

    6. My dog is extremely  lively and energetic.

    7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to seeing Patrick Murphy in Richmond, tomorrow my plans include taking things to Good Will and Half Price Books and Sunday, I want to rest, but I'll probably be mowing the yard!

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Because of A Book with Melissa Sarno

    This week I am pleased to have Melissa Sarno joining me on the blog.  Here is a little about her...

    Melissa Sarno is a writer and producer living in Brooklyn, NY. After working in television production for several years, on the sets of live televised events, promos, commercials, and reality tv, she made the switch to children’s media. She now writes and produces content for toys and interactive games. When she’s not writing elegant prose for preschoolers, she writes for an adult audience and most recently finished her first novel, Spared. Now she begins the exciting journey to get it published. Read more about Melissa on her blog, This Too (

         I can think of many things that have happened to me because of a book. As a child, I definitely had an overly romantic and idealistic view of the world. I thought that things would be much more exciting if I could live on a farm with talking pigs like in Charlotte’s Web or prance around, following a red robin to an enormous secret garden. I wanted to be the fifth March sister in Little Women and I had lots of other nonsensical ideas that might have gotten me funny looks on the playground. Of course, I now believe that a healthy imagination led me to write the stories I write today. The fact that I knew stories existed at all must have led to my belief that I could create them too.
          I wrote stories from the time my Dad brought home a strange Apple computer when I was 7 years old. Pac Man got boring after a while and the only other thing to ‘play with’ on the strange contraption was a word processing program. I wrote all kinds of silly little things I wish I could read now. And if you had a computer that still read a floppy disk, maybe I could! I also told people I wanted to be an ‘author’ like Ann M. Martin, creator of the beloved Babysitter’s Club series.
          Despite the fact that I was so invested in the idea of becoming a ‘writer’ and that I had become so wrapped up in stories other people wrote as well as absorbed in the words I was putting on paper, it did not hit me that stories and words were powerful things until I read The Diary of Anne Frank. The fact that she sat down to write in her journal every day. That she told her story despite unimaginable human suffering. That she was just a young girl and she had a voice was remarkable to me. Of course we know her as a symbol of so much more. I mean the praise for this book is epic; her wisdom at such a young age, her faith in the human spirit, her haunting prose, all about a life cut tragically short. But for me, it was all about this idea of being 15 years old and writing out your thoughts even when no one cares and no one is listening. And then knowing that those words could become what they became. That it was just a paper and a pen that could make the whole world turn their heads and listen.
          Of course, there are many books that shaped me as a writer. But it was her diary that told me if you sit down and write what you think, it could mean something to someone. And at 15 years old myself, I thought, Well, this makes a lot of sense to me. This is pretty cool. You never know who will hear your stories. You never know who will relate to them. You just sit down and tell your story the best you can with the knowledge that someday it could mean something to someone.

    About The Diary of Anne Frank - Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl is among the most enduring documents of the twentieth century. Since its publication in 1947, it has been read by tens of millions of people all over the world. It remains a beloved and deeply admired testament to the indestructible nature of the human spirit. Restored in this Definitive Edition are diary entries that were omitted from the original edition. These passages, which constitute 30 percent more material, reinforce the fact that Anne was first and foremost a teenage girl, not a remote and flawless symbol. She fretted about and tried to cope with her own sexuality. Like many young girls, she often found herself in disagreements with her mother. And like any teenager, she veered between the carefree nature of a child and the full-fledged sorrow of an adult. Anne emerges more human, more vulnerable and more vital than ever.

    Anne Frank and her family, fleeing the horrors of Nazi occupation, hid in the back of an Amsterdam warehouse for two years. She was thirteen when she went into the Secret Annex with her family.

    Buy it at IndieBound

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Winner, Winner, Who's a Winner?

    First I have to apologize to so many of you.  I have gotten behind on announcing winners for my contests, and there is no excuse to give you, just me being busy or lazy or forgetful, I'm not sure.  But I do know that I have left you hanging and I am here to remedy that.   These are in no particular order, just how I pulled them off of Google Docs.  I will be emailing everyone so that I can get your mailing addresses, if I don't already have them from the form.  Everything will be mailed out on the 15th.  I still have the winners from Children's Book Week and one giveaway that ends tomorrow.

    Three Winners of Dear Teacher

    Eric Van Raepensbusch
    Mary Jane

    One Winner of 3 Children's Books from Got Books? Event

    Doreen Magee 

    One Winner of Sons of Liberty


    One Winner of Necromancer Series

    katarinas mama  


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