Thursday, January 31, 2013

Join Me in Celebrating Your Favorite Children's Authors and Illustrators

Next week is the first week of February and time to honor the many fabulous authors and illustrators of children's books during the Children's Authors and Illustrators Week!

As a lifelong avid reader, I've always loved books and some of my all-time favorite books are those I read as a child. I imagine most of us remember at least a few treasured books from our childhood...books that inspired us or moved us in some way. Now, as a children's book author myself, I am honored to join the wonderful tradition of engaging young minds and, perhaps, inspiring some children to become lifelong readers themselves.

I invite you to join me in celebrating your favorite children's book authors and illustrators next week. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Re-read a favorite book from your childhood (or, better yet, read it to or with a child in your life)
  • Attend an author/illustrator visit at your local library or bookstore
  • Write a letter with your child to one of his/her favorite authors or illustrators sharing what you like most about the books (most authors and illustrators have websites or you can send the letter to the book's publisher)
  • Write and/or illustrate a children's story of your own (perhaps a personalized story for a child in your life? or a story your mother told you as a child?)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New Book Coming Soon!

I am excited to announce that the third book in my Bully Dog series will be released in the next few weeks! The book, A Penny in Time, features Fran's friend Dusty whose life is suddenly a whirlwind of change. Her best friend is suddenly boy crazy. Her parents are recently divorced. Her relationship with her friend Frank is suddenly awkward. All she wants is acceptance and respect for who she really is...a fact she just cannot seem to get her friends and family to understand. Everyone is bullying her into being something she doesn't want to be. After an amazing inter-dimensional adventure (or was it just a dream?), Dusty realizes she can accept those around her for who they really are, and this makes the whirlwind of change a lot less chaotic.

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 for you to enjoy until you can get your hands on the book:
Love is a four letter word that is used too much to mean too little. It can be a noun and a verb, conjugated, symbolized and trivialized. It can be and not be at the same time. It isn't a living thing, like a plant or an animal, but it can die without care. I've been told that love and hate are kindred spirits and the absence of love is indifference. I wonder what it is called when you live with love that is dying.

"Dusty!" Mom rapped on the bedroom door. "Telephone!"

"Got it!" I hollered as I picked up the cordless extension. Maybe Dad had changed his mind and would take me up to Victoria, Canada for the weekend like we had planned all last summer but never got around to doing. He moved into a condo in Des Moines after the divorce, then it was this, then that had to be done, and of course, work. 

 "Hello...." it wasn't my Dad, but my best friend. 

 "Hi, Slinky." We both sigh. She knows that my disappointment is nothing personal. I dropped my sci-fi book on the floor and scrunched down on the bed. "Did your Mom yell at you for wearing eyeliner to school?" 

 "Nah, just the same-o parent lecture #104. You know, 'Don't make yourself look like a hooker, you're a young lady, blah blah blah.'" 

 "I told you she'd let you, and she probably thinks it's great, too. Your sister wore make-up when she was in the seventh grade. Next thing you'll be wearing dresses instead of jeans." 

 I'm the jeans and sweatshirt sort of person. I didn't mean to dig at Slinky, she's my best friend and all, but lately she's been more interested in the way she looks, teen TV and the latest new boy singer than going to see a movie. That's a major change. 

 "Well, I'm not stocking up on short skirts and crop tops," she shot back. "Has your Dad called, yet?" 

 "No. It’s like he’s divorced me, too." I gazed at the clock. Two-thirty. Too late now, anyway. I pick up my cell and text Fran, ‘wrkin hard?’ "I guess he's got a hot date with Sylvia. She had her Designed-for-You clothing line exhibited at the Trade Center today." 

 My cell chimed. It was Fran again. Fran texts back: “YES! You?” I answered ‘hardly’ while Slinky asks pointedly, "Why didn't you go?" 

 "Because I didn't want to. I turned down a yard clean-up with Fran and Dean because I wanted to be ready to go with my Dad, a-lone, to Canada, like he promised." Get real! I wanted to say. As if I wanted to hang out with my Dad and his girlfriend. Sometimes Slinky can be exasperating, but then I think about how we've been friends since kindergarten. We have a lot of history, like how we got our nicknames. I don't think of her as "Susan" Hillard because her Dad nicknamed her "Slinky" when she was four. She collected slinkies; small, medium, large, metal ones, plastic colored ones that looked like undulating, disconnected robot arms looking for a body to hook up with. She even named every one of them. 

Me, I don't mind being named after my mother's grandmother, "Elizabeth Marie", but when I was five, I saw an awesome sunset. The summer sky blazed with colors of fire. My Dad told me the dust in the atmosphere colored the clouds, and a fairy streaked my curly, auburn hair with some of those red highlights. I kept repeating a zillion times how I loved the dusty sky, making Dad laugh. After that, I wouldn't answer to Elizabeth anymore, and Slinky always said she thought it was great how I had made everyone call me Dusty.

"So go with me tonight. The youth group is having a hayride at Marymoor Park. My Mom will take us and you could spend the night and we'll do Southcenter tomorrow." 

"No can do. My Mom's got a date and I already told Frank I'm staying home tonight, and he has to babysit his little bratty stepbrother, so they're coming over. So what else is new, huh?" I know Frank rubs her the wrong way, but I kind of understood that he sometimes says something nice in a mean sort of way. 

"So tell Frank," she always spits out his name, "that you've got other plans."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Working from Home: Managing Your Time

Many people dream of being their own boss and as a professional writer, I can tell you that being your own boss definitely has its challenges. The biggest challenge for many folks I know: managing your time when no one is setting your schedule for you.

Here are a few tips and techniques I found to be helpful: