Search This Blog


Thursday, September 18, 2014


I've been asked by children's author, Deb Hockenberry, to answer questions about my writing.
You can visit her blog here.

What am I currently working on?

I work on more than one thing at a time. It helps keep me from getting stuck or bored. My biggest project now is editing (again) my middle grade book, titled Duck and Cover. And, each month I write an article for Two Lane Livin' Magazine.

Why do you write what you write?

A few years ago, I had this urge to write a picture book about picking blackberries. I couldn't get it out of my mind. I found out about a writing group that met in Ripley and decided to go to one of the meetings. I discovered that I didn't really know how to write. But, I kept attending the meetings and my skills and confidence grew. I find I tend to live in the past, so I write from childhood memories. And, I love writing historical fiction - writing about a time before all of these new-fangled inventions and discoveries. I tend to write shorter pieces, so it works great for my love of writing for children.

Describe your writing process.

I sit in my chair and peck away at my laptop. Of course, an idea has to come. Sometimes that is the hardest part of the process, especially when I write articles for children. But, once inspiration hits - my fingers fly across the keyboard - stopping only to do more research. (And to eat, drink, take bathroom breaks and all those other necessary activities) Whenever I write a historical fiction, I do research before I write and if I need to, I continue to research as I write. I don't have any special time of the day or hours of the day that I write. Life sometimes gets in the way of a regular writing routine.

How does your work differ from others in the same genre?

I don't think my work differs from others in the same genre. I write what I know. I write what I am interested in. I write what I don't know and learn along the way.

Do I have a book or anything submitted?

I have several of my manuscripts that I am currently submitting. Still waiting for that acceptance!
I have self published a book, titled FunThrough the Seasons - Recipes, Crafts and Fun Facts for Kids. It is a compilation of my articles, which include easy recipes and crafts, that I write for kids for Two Lane Livin’ Magazine. I have organized the book into months of the year, each section starting out with an original poem about the month. And, I have added more content. It is a great book for preschool to grade school age children. They learn in a fun way.

Well, that's it. I hope you enjoyed the interview.

Monday, September 15, 2014

MMGM - Hank Zipzer - My Dog's a Scaredy-Cat

Welcome to MMGM. After reading my post, you can click here to go over to Shannon Messenger's site for more links to middle grade books.

I am reviewing another Hank Zipzer book today.


Publisher: Grossett & Dunlap 2006
Book Level: 4-6  word count: 25,613

When you were a kid, didn't you just love dressing up for Halloween. So does Hank. But no one liked his outfit! And on the day of the Halloween Parade at his school, Hank was beginning to wonder why he decided to dress up as a table in an Italian restaurant, too. After the parade he listed NINE HALLOWEEN THINGS I SHOULD HAVE GONE AS.
Nick, the school bully, made fun of his costume, made fun of his sister and called him stupid in front of the whole school and neighborhood. He wanted to scare Nick out of his socks. Hank's Papa Pete suggested he build a haunted house instead.
Hank got together with his friends to make the scariest haunted house ever. Not for fun, but to scare Nick.
They had to act quick and in his excitement and being very busy making the haunted house, Hank's dog, Cheerio, is  nowhere to be found. He thinks Cheerio's disappearance is his fault and suddenly scaring Nick is the last thing on his mind.
Do they find Cheerios and do they scare Nick in their scary haunted house? You'll have to read it and find out how Hank's Halloween night ended.

This is another one of Mr. Winkler's funny books that doesn't let you down.
In my opinion grade school kids will love it.

Happy reading and writing!

Monday, September 8, 2014

MMGM - Hank Zipzer The Curtain Went UP, My Pants Fell DOWN

Welcome to Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

Henry Winkler is coming to our town in October. He is going to the local schools and speak to the children and then he is going to be the speaker at a dinner that evening. My husband and I are going!

I've always liked Henry as The Fonz, so I decided to see how his writing skills were. His books are co written by Lin Oliver.

I am reading his books and so far - I love them!

I have just finished:

Hank Zipzer The Curtain Went UP, My Pants Fell DOWN
Grosset & Dunlap 2007
27,254 words 158 pages

Hank and math just don't get along. In fact, he is lucky to get a D. Heather Payne, Miss Perfect. Miss I'd-Love-To-Do-Homework-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life. Miss How-Many-Extra-Credit-Problems-Can-I-Do? Miss I've-Never-Gotten-Anything-Lower-Than-An-A-With-Thirty-Three Pluses, has been assigned to tutor him. He couldn't believe it, he almost fell out of his chair.

But, if he wants to be the King in the school's play, Anna and the the King of Siam (and he really, really wants to), his father says he has to get a B+ on his next math test.

They study together and he actually starts to get the hang of long division. Will he get a B+ on his test? But, if he does, there is someone else blocking his path to playing the King - Nick McKelty. Nick is the school bully with iguana-cage breath and he also wants to be king.

This is a super funny book and I thinks kids will love it.

Next week I will blog about another one of his books. 

Now go over to Shannon Messenger's Blog and see what other Middle Grade books people are blogging about.

Happy Writing - and Reading!

Monday, August 18, 2014

How Do You Figure Out What to Send to Who?

Dear Readers,

If you submit very much, I am sure you have received a rejection letter at least once or twice in your lifetime.

Do you often wonder exactly what a publisher is wanting or needing.

I have received rejection letters that read 'Sorry, but your story isn't right for our list' or 'we feel it does not quite lend itself well to our list,' or 'after careful consideration, we have decided to pass on your manuscript,' or, sometimes the letter will say 'your story isn't quite there yet,' or 'it is charming, but.'


I have gone to their sites. I have gone to Amazon and 'looked inside' their published books, I have read them at the library, etc., to get familiar with what they publish.

But, some publishers publish such a variety of books for children - all quite different - that I have a hard time figuring out just what is 'right' for their list. I don't see a pattern.

Although I very much appreciate getting a rejection letter, since some publishers do not send them out any more if they are not interested in your book, I wish I understood more what the publisher wanted.

Anyone out there with a crystal ball?
How do you work your way through the maze of publishers and figure out what to send to who?

Maybe one answer is to make our story so special that a publisher cannot turn it down, even if it isn't right for their list?

So, until I can do that, I will keep writing, keep revising and keep submitting.


Janet Smart  of the Blackberry Patch

Confused, But Still Love to Write

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Getting My Writing Room Organized - with my Little Library

I have a bookcase!

Well, actually, I have lots of bookcases. But, I now have one for the little walk-through room I call my office.

My office is really our old laundry room where we have a small upright freezer, a pantry, a Hoosier cabinet and other old kitchen stuff ---- and a little enamel top table that I use for a desk.

my bookcase (that I am still getting organized)

shelf filled with various 'writing' books

shelf filled with my 'idea' and reference books

Now, whenever I need to look up anything, all I need to do is roll over in my chair and browse through my little library of helpful books.

Titles of some of my getting idea books are: The Book of Bizarre Truths, Inventions That Changed the World, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Sears Roebuck and Co. 1909 Catalog, Scholastic Book of Lists, American Nicknames, Garfield's Book of Excellent Excuses, Going to School in 1776, What Your 5th Grader Needs to Know, The Quotable American, Mistakes that Worked, 97 Ways to Make a Baby Laugh, American Folklore and Legend, Great Thoughts and Funny Sayings and The Book of Answers, etc.

Some of my writing books are: Various books on writing poetry, Nothing Rhymes with Orange, Writing in History, Writing From Personal Experience, Write your Life Story, Thesauruses, Writing Picture Books, From Inspiration to Publication, Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market, various Dummy and Idiot books, Creative Writing, Painless Writing, Write Right!, etc.

It was a learning experience just putting the bookcase together :o)

It must be helping, since doing this a few days ago, I have sent in two submissions!

Clutter hurts creativity and output! So I challenge you to get uncluttered.

Are you organized? Do you have your helpful books all in one easy place to get to?

Happy Writing!