Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Create Your Own Book Weights

I'm a writer
I'm a reader
I'm a crafter.

I just finished a cookbook that I had been working on for what seems like years and had it published.

It doesn't have a spiral binding, so I needed something to hold the pages open when I'm cooking.

I looked up book weights, and I didn't like the leather ones I saw online, plus they were pretty expensive.

So I made my own. And I will show you how you can make them, too.

The template I used is 2 3/4" x 8 1/2". Cut this shape out of card stock or cardboard (you can cut up an empty cereal box).

 For each one, find pretty material and cut two pieces.
I also cut a 3" piece of grosgrain ribbon (that is the small pink strip you see sticking out from the material).

Put the two pieces together, printed sides facing each other, and the ribbon in-between, about half way down.

Fold the edges of one end down and sew together, keeping the end you folded down open.

Turn and iron.

Get a funnel and fill with bb's. I used 1/3 cup for each one. Of course, you could probably use rice or dried beans, but I prefer the bb's.

Sew by hand (or machine, if you wish) the open end.

Voila! Aren't they pretty?

Of course, you only need one for each book.

Great for cookbooks, craft books or any book.

And while you are here, go here to check out my cookbook - Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances.

You can click on the "see inside" feature to read the contents page.

Living up to my blog title, there are 7 blackberry recipes included in the book. I love blackberries!

In addition to over 120 recipes (old and new), I show you how to make aprons out of old blue jeans (that is the crafter coming out of me), read a few of my poems (Recipe for a Home, I am From Appalachia, Recipe for Warm Memories, and Grandma's Apron), use pages in the back to write down your own treasured recipes so they won't be forgotten, and read three pages of cooking tips and a page of food traditions and superstitions.

Do you have any book weights?

If not, make a few of these pretty ones. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Author Take Over on Facebook

Hi, all.

Summer has been very busy here at the Smart house in Jackson County.

I finally finished my cookbook, Cooking with Family: Recipes and Remembrances, that I have been working on for a very long time. I am about ready to send for the proof.

I have also been re-writing a novella that takes place in 1908/09 rural West Virginia.The idea for the book came from my grandparents who lived during that time period.

Saturday on Saguaro's Facebook page they are having an Author Take Over. I have never participated in one of these before, and I must admit I don't know what I'm doing. But, I am going to have fun trying.

Come over on Saturday and join me during my 20 minute time slot of 3:40 until 4:00 Eastern time.

I will tell a little about my me, my book, and my favorite character in the book.

I will be answering any and all questions you may have about my book, Duck and Cover.

I will be posting links to my sites and my Pinterest board on Duck and Cover.

Come by and say hi, so I won't be lonely.

Happy Writing!

Monday, June 12, 2017

West Virginia Writer's Conference

This weekend the West Virginia Writer's Conference celebrated their 40th anniversary.

The sun filled the sky the entire weekend (our conference is usually visited by rain).

People from all over the United State attended. If I remember correctly, we had attendees from Washington, Iowa, Ohio, Florida and quite a few other states.

I live within a few miles of the conference.

Every year they give the JUG (Just Uncommonly Good) award to a deserving writer. This year one of the recipients was Dolly Withrow. She is a member of our writing group and very deserving of the award. She is a Grammar Guru and has a fun way of helping you remember all the rules that are so easy to forget. And she was a member when the conference formed 40 years ago.

One of the workshop presenters, Michael Knost (who was the other JUG recipient), had a great workshop about showing vs. telling.

Think of showing as a radio play-by-play sports announcer.
Think of telling as the sports commentator.

The sports announcer describes each play as if you were there. He becomes your eyes.

The commentator tells you background information and statistics.

In writing a story, it would translate to something like this:

showing - Lucy scrunched her nose at the stale peppermint from the bottom of her purse. (The writer is your eyes, showing what Lucy is doing)
telling - Her mother gave her the candy a year ago. (The writer is telling in this sentence)

Don't tell things that aren't essential to the story.
Show emotions.
Show reactions.

I attended the Awards Banquet on Saturday Night.

I won 3rd place and Honorable Mention in the children's category of their annual spring writing contest.

And I received 2nd place ribbons in the People's Prose workshop on Saturday and the Poetry Writer's Wall.

After attending the workshops, I am now sitting at my desk editing my manuscripts.

Using the knowledge I gained, I will try to make them better.

Have you attended a conference or workshop lately?
What tidbit of writing advice can you share with us?

One thing I have learned is that most writers love to help each other out and share helpful information.

"I love my writing friends. I appreciate all of you!"

(I sneaked in an !, though my friend, Dolly, says not to use them.)

One of my writing friends, Beverly Stowe McClure, just posted a review of Duck and Cover on her blog. Thank you, Beverly. She is a very talented author, click here to check out her blog.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Princess Breeze Cover Reveal

I would like to introduce you to a very talented writer and friend of mine - Beverly Stowe McClure.

This is the cover reveal for her latest tween/teen  novel. 
Isn't it a great cover?

Here is the back cover blurb for PRINCESS BREEZE:

For months, Breeze Brannigan has heard nothing from Cam, the prince she met at school, who disappeared one night, without telling her goodbye. On the night she graduates from middle school, however, he contacts her and invites her to visit Isla del Fuego, his home. Who could refuse such an invitation?
Breeze along with her whole family and best friends, Amy and Allison, soon sail to the island, where she and Cam renew their friendship. But danger lurks; a legend comes to life; and Breeze finds herself in the middle of a battle that can have one winner.

This novel is the sequel to Just Breeze, the girl that started it all. If you haven't met Breeze and her friends, they can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and most places books are sold.

The release date hasn't been announced yet for Princess Breeze, so there are no links.

Most of the time, you’ll find Award-Winning Author Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories young voices whisper in her ears.  When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers, and clouds. She’s affectionately known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why. To relax she plays the piano. Her fur babies don’t appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories.
Beverly is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She also teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church.

Visit Beverly at:
Twitter @beverlymcclure

Join me in saying congratulations to Beverly!


Monday, May 22, 2017

Reading and Writing go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

I love to read and I love to write. They go together like peanut butter and jelly (which I love almost as much as reading and writing).

But sometimes I have too many pots on the stove as the old saying goes.

I recently finished reading Woman of Courage, an inspirational book that takes place in the 1830s, by Wanda E. Brunstetter and Twice Betrayed, a YA that takes place during the Revolutionary War, by Gayle C. Krause. 

I am currently reading two MGs - Silent Boy by Lois Lowry and Vilonia Beebe Takes Charge by Kristen L. Gray. I am enjoying both and am looking forward to finishing them. 

I am also reading One for Agnes, One for Effie, an inspirational book by Nancy Merical. Nancy is a member of my writing group.

As you can see, I have a wide range of books I read. I must admit, though, I enjoy reading MG the most.

While doing all this reading, I am also writing. And unfortunately I am also writing numerous manuscripts.

I feel I need to concentrate on just one and get it finished.

I am still working on my cookbook that is currently titled,  LET'S EAT! There's no place like home COOKING! In addition to regular recipes, it has a few non-edible recipes, sections on old-fashioned tablecloths, food traditions and superstitions, old-fashioned aprons - even how to make a few from denim jeans and cloth calendars, cooking tips, and pages in the back to write down your own treasured recipes. On my other blog, I have posted many recipes on my other blog and some of these are included in this book. 

I am also making changes to my novella, Lucy of Tuppers Hollow, which takes place in 1908.

And I have a chapter book which I would love to get back to, but has been put on hold temporarily. 

Do you work on more than one book or manuscript at a time or do you finish one before starting another?

Any tips on finishing your projects?

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Book Review - Fever 1793

I write. I write all the time. But I also squeeze in time to read.

You become a better writer by reading what you write.

I read in the evenings, I read when my husband and I are riding around and I read whenever I can find the time.

I recently read Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson.
I had heard of this book and always wanted to read it.
(In case you don't know, I love historical fiction)
It is for young adults and has an appendix in the back giving information about the facts of the time period and famous people touched by the fever.

Here is the blurb from the back:
During the summer of 1793, Mattie Cook lives above the family coffee shop with her widowed mother and grandfather. Mattie spends her days avoiding chores and making plans to turn the family business into the finest Philadelphia has ever seen. But then the fever breaks out.
Disease sweeps the streets, destroying everything in its path and turning Mattie's world upside down. At her feverish mother's insistence, Mattie flees the city with her grandfather. But she soon discovers that the sickness is everywhere, and Mattie must learn quickly how to survive in a city turned frantic with disease.

If you like historical fiction, I feel you will like this book. It is very detailed in sections about how life was like during that time period. You can tell she did a lot of research. It is so sad they did not know how yellow fever was caught and spread.
When they bled people, it just made chills go down me.
When the characters mentioned swatting mosquitoes away from their faces, I cringed.

Have you read this book? Did you enjoy it?

What have you read lately?

Janet Smart
author of Duck and Cover

Sunday, April 16, 2017

This and That

I like to edit, but sometimes I don't know when to quit. Recently I have been wondering if I should make my other MG book take place in the then and now or keep it in the 1960s.

I like it in the 1960s. But I have had one person say she thinks it should take place now - in 2017.

I haven't had any luck in getting it published, so I have been toying with the idea of changing it. I have made another word copy of it and have been making the changes it needs to make it take place in the present day.

Decisions, decisions . . .

Do you like having your stories set in the past?


I have been having fun with Duck and Cover that was recently released. I have had two book signings and have another one planned for early June.

My cousin and I volunteer at the local Senior Center. We do a craft workshop once a week. I just love our Crazy Crafters (that is the name we voted on)The Director wants me to read a chapter of my book and do a little presentation. I finally gave in and said I would do it and decided that afterward my cousin and I would do a craft with our craft class that has something to do with the story. I am now looking forward to it. It will be a lot of fun.

Recently, I was excited that Homer Hickam took the time to read my book and send me a following blurb:

"Duck and Cover is a charming novel of young people coming of age during a very frightening time, the early 1960's at the height of the Cold War. Set in West Virginia, Smart's characters are as real as the hills in which they live, and as enduring. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and believe this author is one to watch (and read) now and in the future." –

Homer Hickam, author Rocket Boys/October Sky and Carrying Albert Home


There are soooo many books on Amazon and I have no idea how my sales are doing on there, but if any of you have read it, I would love if you could write an online review.

Any suggestions or ideas on how to get your book noticed among all those listed?

I have an author page on Facebook. You can find it here.  

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Release!

I had been a stay-at-home mom since I married.
I dabbled in sewing, quilting, crafting, couponing/refunding---and raised three boys, which I consider my greatest accomplishment.

Ten years ago, with my husband getting close to retirement, I started writing. I had been working on a picture book about picking berries. I thought it wasn't half bad. I found out about a writing group that met once a month in Ripley. I called one of the members and started attending the meetings. I got up my nerve to read it in front of the group. They were very nice, but I found out I didn't know much about writing.

Thankfully, I am a pretty quick learner.

A year later, I got a story published in an anthology. Then shortly thereafter, I started writing a children's column in a monthly regional magazine.

Along with writing PBs, I got brave and wrote two MG manuscripts. They have been sent out many times and received many rejections.

My second MG, Duck and Cover, took first place in the 2015 WV Writer's annual spring writing contest! Woo hoo! I had placed many times in the annual contest, but this was my first 1st Place!

I did a little more research on publishers. I found one that only published first-time authors and only published MG and YA.
They were not a vanity publisher. I didn't have to pay anything.
I took the chance and sent Duck and Cover to them.

They accepted it! It was officially put up on Amazon the end of February. It is available in paperback, kindle, and Nook on Barnes and Noble.

What is my advice? Never give up. Keep working on your manuscript until you get it the best you can get it --- and send it out.
And keep sending it out until you find someone who likes it as much as you do.

My book is going to be featured in the next few weeks on a couple of writer's blogs.

Today (Monday)it will be on the GROG Blog. Click over and check out the interview. Comment and you will be in a drawing for a free copy of my book.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Quotes About Failing and Succeeding

I am on a lot of email lists. That can be good and that can be bad.
The bad part is your email box stays full.
The good news is you can receive a lot of useful or uplifting information coming to you every day.

I received an email from bookbaby.  They shared these three great quotes that really hit home:

"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed."
Theodore Roosevelt

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."
Henry Ford

Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
How many times have you received a rejection letter?
I can't remember the times I have received one in the mail. But, look at it this way, you are at least sending out manuscripts. You tried to get published. A lot of people write and write, but never submit.

When you get a rejection, pick up your spirits and send again. That next submission just might be the one that gets published.

And, don't lose your enthusiasm. If you love your story, keep improving it and keep sending it in. Give someone else a chance to fall in love with it, too.

Which one of the quotes do you like best?

Stay tuned.
My next post will be about my success story.