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Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I love books!

Today I went to our local library's book sale. I came back with quite a few. As you can see, I head toward the children's section and books about history. I also picked out one cookbook and a book about squirrels titled,  Squirrels Love 'Em Hate 'Em which might come in handy for the non fiction children's book on squirrels I have been working on.

I am also looking forward to browsing through the very large West Virginia Encyclopedia, Clementine's Letter, Scaredy Squirrel, Ruby Holler and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed.

I have also won a few books from my fellow bloggers in the last couple of months. I am currently reading Navigating Early.  I have already read the other three books. I enjoyed Like a River, but wasn't that crazy about the ending. The same goes for Rain Reign, I think the ending could have been better. I think a good ending in a book is just as important as a good beginning.

I wish I could collect time. Seems I never have enough time to do all the reading and writing I like to do.

How about you? Are you a collector of books, too?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

National Library Week

This is National Library Week!

What do you do at your local library?

Our writer's group meets every week in one of their rooms that are free to use.

I do research on writing my picture books and middle grade novels.

I research genealogy and learn all about my family's past.

I participate in their activities and events.

I submitted my hickory nut pie into their Pie Competition on National Pi Day on March 14th. I won first place.

I enter their annual writing contest.

And, with the help of our library, we now have little libraries all over our county where you can . . . take a book - return a book.

What do you do at your library?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Rhyming Picture Books

I've been reading rhyming picture books this week.
Here are some of my Friday favorites.

Tadpole Rex 
by Kurt Cyrus

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the descriptive words used:

goop, whopping big,
bloop, bloop, bloop
soup, mud, wallow,
floop, fleep, gulp
bone crunching chompers

The Voyage of Turtle Rex
by Kurt Cyrus

Some fun word phrases in this book are:

a tumble of specks
sploosh went the waves
fizz went the foam
swish went the flippers
swung like a compass

I also read:
Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw

Dinosaur Roar! by Paul and Henrietta Strickland and
How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

What makes a fun picture book?
Rhymes, of course.
But, also, the rhythm has to be right on.
And, you should think a lot about your choice of words and phrases. Make the words sing on the page. If you notice, the author used really fun words and phrases in the above books.

When reading a good rhyming book, the words should flow off your tongue with ease.

And last, but not least, you have to have a good story.

Want to write a rhyming book?
Practice, practice, practice!
It takes a lot of work and rewriting to make it appear as if it was easy to write.

But most of all, have fun doing it!

We are having fun at RhyPiBoMo this month. Go check it out if you like writing and reading picture books.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Author Interview - Marcia Berneger - author of Buster, The Little Garbage Truck

My friend, Marcia Berneger has a picture book being released today! Don't you just love the cover.  Buster is such a cute garbage truck!

I'm almost as proud as she is. I was one of her critique partners and I was there when Buster was 'being born.' 
It is available at most on-line retailers: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, even Walmart.

How did Buster come to be?
It took me a few days to write Buster, and over a year to “perfect” it. I have both an online critique group and a face-to-face one and they both saw Buster many times, helping me get to that “ready” stage. I needed to get to the point where, when I read it, nothing zinged out at me as “hmm, that could be worded better.” I also read Buster to several kindergarten and first grade classes, watching their reactions as they listened.

How do you come up with ideas to write about? 

Many of my ideas are loosely based around student and/or experiences I’ve had throughout my teaching career. Buster is a great example of that. I was tutoring a young boy who was terrified to go into first grade. He happened to be extremely bright, so I was trying to boost his confidence. He also happened to be obsessed with garbage trucks. I couldn’t find a book about a child-garbage truck, so I wrote the story for him.

Tell us about your desk or workspace.

I often hand-write my stories into one of my many journals (many times I’ll get an idea at a writing conference or class—so I’ll start the story right there on note paper), then transfer it onto my computer. Sometimes I do type one directly—if I’m at home when inspiration hits. My edits are almost always done on the computer. I have a small desk crammed with everything I need.

How long did it take to get an agent/editor? Can you tell us about the process of finding and signing with an agent? 

My agent story is a bit unique. I’d attended that big LA SCBWI conference one summer and saw an agency I thought would be a good fit for my work. I’d just started on Buster, so I wasn’t near ready to submit. By the time I was, a year later, I’d lost my notes and couldn’t remember which agent I’d seen. I remembered the agency, though, and took a guess. I referenced the conference in my subject line. Well, the agent loved Buster, but did ask why I’d put that conference in there—since she hadn’t attended it! (Oops!)

Do you have a current WIP or next project you’re working on? 

I have many works in progress from picture books to young chapter books, and even a middle-grade novel. But I’m actively working on a second Buster book, Buster and the Bullies. I really like this one. It’s been getting very positive reviews from the students I’ve read it to—and isn’t that what this is all about?

Favorite quote – favorite children’s books –
When I was little, I loved The Pokey Little Puppy. But my favorite book is The Abandoned, by Paul Galico. It’s about a boy who becomes a cat, and has to learn how to “be a cat.” My favorite quote comes from that book. When the boy complains to his very patient teacher (another cat), she tells him: “Can’t catches no mice!” That became my watchword for anything that seemed too hard to do. Even now!

What words of wisdom or advice do you have for “writers under construction?”

READ!! (I know, everyone says that.) But read in your genre, and read specifically for craft (how the writer achieved what s/he was going for). Go to an SCBWI meeting (they’re all over—great organization for support and guidance). Find a critique group and see what others have to say about your work, then choose only what you want to use. Stay true to yourself and listen to your heart first. It’s YOUR story!
And don’t be afraid to submit!!
Like Buster says: Be brave! HONK your horn!

Where can readers find out more about you?

Twitter: @MarciaBerneger
Amazon Author Page:

I hope you enjoyed this interview with Marcia. 
I know you will enjoy her book. 
And, like Marcia says, read and don't be afraid to submit!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

picture books, picture books, picture books!

I've been reading a lot of picture books lately. . .

on line,
from my bookshelves,
and from the library bookshelves.

Why? To help me in writing picture books!

Here is a list of a few. I have put my comments in italics out from some of them.

Froggy Plays in the Band - Froggy's Sleepover - Froggy's Day with Dad - Froggy's Baby Sister
In the Froggy series of books I noticed the repeated phrase - more red in the face than green
Root Beer and Banana

Passing the Music Down - biographical - loved the language used in this one

 Bats at the Library - rhyming

Martha Doesn't Say Sorry - good

Oh, Daddy - very short 

Little Hoot - fun! Little owl wants to go to bed.

It's Not Fair - cute

Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site - rhyming - good one! 

What's Under the Bed? - simple rhyme

This Place in the Snow - loved the language and use of words!

A Silly Snowy Day - a ridiculously cute story about a young tortoise who wants to enjoy winter

the dot - a simple, but lovely picture book about a girl who thought she couldn't draw
Duck at the Door - very cute. About a household and how a little duck disrupts it - but they loved him anyways 

The Bumpy Little Pumpkin - a cute story about Little Nell, BIG Mama, BIG Sarah, BIG Lizzie and a bumpy little pumpkin her forest friends helped her carve. Like people, Jack-o-lanterns come in all shapes and sizes!

My Working Mom - Love it. The story, as written by the author, could have been about any working mom, but the illustrator did her magic. Have you read this? Do you know what her mom's job was?

I Took my Frog to the Library - cute. It is not just about a frog, but many other animals the girl brings to the library. They all wreck havoc, except for the elephant. But the elephant is so very, very big! So, she leaves her animals at home and the elephant reads to them.

The Lonely Scarecrow - I love books about scarecrows and have even written my own, which I hope some day will be published!

Owl Moon - One of my very favorites! I love the language in this one.

These are just a few of the many I have read in the last couple of weeks.
Are picture books just for kids?
Of course not, they are for the kid in all of us!

What are some of your favorites?