Saturday, November 2, 2013

Congratulations, Karen!

Congratulations to Karen, winner of the 10-book set of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. We also had a close second, Lu who will also receive one autographed copy of the book. Thank you so much for entering the contest, everyone. I really appreciate your support in this. Look for other giveaways in the coming month from this blog and from my other blog, Crafterdays. And, thank you for supporting a love of reading for our children and students.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Delores Fletcher Book Review by Mother Daughter Book Reviews

I had a wonderful book review this week for my book, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher, by Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews. Renee and her daughter and son give very good reviews of children's books. As a teacher, I'm so impressed that she includes her children and makes reading such an adventure for them. Thanks again, Renee. Here's the review:

Renee: "My Thoughts: Kathryn Jacoby wastes no time diving into the wacky adventures of the slightly awkward, newly graduated 16 year-old witch, Delores Fletcher. In the tradition of the Fletchers who came before her, Delores takes over the town’s Cobweb Catcher position from her Aunt Rita, who has raised her; but, little does she know that her Aunt has been keeping a family secret that will change how Delores can do her job.

Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher features a likeable main character in Delores who is bullied by her peers, but bravely takes on her responsibilities as the town’s Cobweb Catcher when her Aunt suddenly retires to Florida (lol). She befriends two quirky characters in a not-so-scary ghost, Geoffrey Collins McDuff, and her notorious great-great-great-grandmother Mabel Verity Fletcher, the original Cobweb Catcher. Then, there are the giant spiders (Argie and Maude) who are not quite what you would expect. All in all, the cast of characters is well-rounded and each is unique and interesting. In particular, I felt that Delores’ personal growth from the time she graduates at the beginning of the book to the time she becomes the town Pestologist was well done.

While it is a relatively subtle message, (given the action that is packed into the overall story), I thought that the discussion of ecological balance (i.e., we need spiders) was an important one. It turns out that Delores is an excellent cobweb catcher. She successfully “relocates” the giant spiders who make messy cobwebs all over town to an uninhabited island but it ends up upsetting the balance of nature. So imagine … what would happen if there were no spiders?! Uh-huh … problem, right? Leave it to clever Delores (and her predecessors) to come up with the solution!

I really appreciated the detail the author provides to immerse the reader into the “witch” culture. For example, this involved descriptions of green toad milk with warts floating on top, clever talking mirrors, a great detailed description of how to make a broomstick, lots of magic, and many other “witchy” moments. It was very entertaining to read all about this unusual and imaginative world.

My bottom line: Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher is a fun, middle grade romp exploring the world of witches through the eyes of a sympathetic main character, Delores, whom we meet when she embarks on her role as the town’s Cobweb Catcher. The book features a supporting cast of quirky characters; entertaining descriptions of the interactions among the witches, spiders, and ghosts in the story; and an overall message about the importance of ecological balance in nature. I think tween girls in particular would love reading about the world Delores lives in and I would recommend this book to children aged 7 to 12."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Accepting Halloween Picture Books for Review

Do you have a Halloween picture book that you have written or illustrated? Would you like to have it reviewed on Maude's Web? I will be accepting Kindle versions of your published book for the next two weeks. Please send me a request first at this email address: I am accepting traditionally published and self-published picture books only at this time. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher Classroom Set Giveaway

Argie and Maude argued so much about who would be able to announce our latest giveaway, that I've decided to do this myself. In honor of our favorite holiday, Halloween, Aunt Rita, Triple-Great Aunt Mabel Verity, Argie, Maude, McDuff and I would like to invite all public school teachers and librarians to enter our latest giveaway. The prize - an autographed, Ten-Book Classroom Set of my story, Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher! Our storyteller, Kathryn Rose Jacoby, is feeling generous and this is also her favorite holiday. Okay, so, here's what you have to do:
Like our page on Facebook
Tweet about the giveaway
Follow Kathryn on Twitter
Answer some easy questions (you have read the book, haven't you?). No? Tch, tch. It's available on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.
Already own a copy? Great! How about getting your students in on the deal! Get them to read the book after you read it and help you research the answers.
Are you a librarian who would love a new set of books? You're also eligible to enter. Not a teacher, but willing to donate these books to a school classroom or library? As long as we have a school address to mail them to, you're also eligible to enter.
Good luck everyone. Happy reading. Hold your moonstones for luck. We'll be keeping tabs on the contestants. It's going to be an exciting month!
Delores Fletcher

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Saturday, September 7, 2013

And The Winner Is.....

Thanks so much to all who entered Maude's Web blog hop contest and participated in the Best of Summer Kid Lit Blog Hop sponsored by Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. We had tons of entries, but the winner is:

J Harris!

Thanks again to all.

I'm dreaming up another contest of my own. The mystery will have to be solved by reading Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. Stay tuned.... I hope you like weird plants!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Best of Summer Kid Lit Blog Hop

Welcome to the Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviewsand Youth Literature Reviews. You are welcome to hop around and enter to win books, cash, gift cards, and more!

This Giveaway Hop runs from August 26th to September 6, 2013, so Happy Hopping!

I'll be participating in this blog hop from Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. I'll also be giving away a copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher plus a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Join in the fun if you love kid lit.

See the post and the links below to visit each blog to join in the fun. It starts today, August 26 and runs through September 6. The winner of this blog contest will receive a signed copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher and a $10.00 gift certificate from Amazon. There are tons of other contests just waiting in the links below. Best of Luck.

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Best of Summer Blog Hop Starts Today

The Best of Summer Blog Hop starts today. See below this article a couple of blogs to enter to win a free copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher and a $10.00 gift certificate from Amazon. Good Luck! You will need to follow this blog, Like us on Facebook and Tweet the post with the giveaway.

I'll be participating in this blog hop from Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. I'll also be giving away a copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher plus a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Join in the fun if you love kid lit. If you're an author, there's still time to sign up.

I'm posting the code to sign up for the Blog Hop. See the post above to join in the fun. It starts August 26 and runs through September 6. The winner will receive a signed copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher and a $10.00 gift certificate from Amazon. Best of Luck.

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Waffles Ole!

So, I'm having this conversation with Maude this morning. For those of you who still don't know Maude (it's okay, Maude, most people don't know me either),she's one of the lovable spiders in Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. She and I were talking about everyday life. Mostly it's mundane, but every now and again, if you try just a little, you can make your life so much more interesting.
Maude, complaining: My life is always 'interesting,the problem is, with hundreds of babies at a time, it doesn't leave me much time to 'find myself.

Me: But, Maude, you have to make those times. If you don't have a free day, look at your surroundings and do something about those.
For instance,this morning, my mind and stomach were set for cereal, but I was out of my almond milk/coconut milk combo. Henry offered me his rice milk, but I declined - too weak.
Henry reminded me I had bought eggs after I'd settled on waffles, but remembered we were out of syrup.
Then, a light came on - Waffles Ole! A few minutes later, I was enjoying waffles with eggs of easy topped with salsa, an interesting start to my morning.

Maude: I just don't always have the energy to exercise my imagination.

Augie, snickering somewhere out of sight: Or exercise anything else from what I can tell.

Maude, placing four arms on her 'hips' and tapping one foot: I'll exercise my hordes by hunting you down this afternoon!

(Sound of multiple spider feet beating a hasty retreat.)

Me: You see, Maude, just a tiny bit of inspiration, and you've created a fun afternoon for you and your little ones. (Smile)

Maude winks three of her front eyes and waves as she beats a hasty retreat out of the door.

This was written in fun, but honestly, it's the truth. This morning some of my Goalie friends and I exchanged quick emails about trying to fit in just a few minutes of writing with our heavy workloads. This post took about 15 minutes and I feel like my brain has been exercised, I'm excited about facing the day and I've had a chance to visit again with some of my favorite characters.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Write On Con

Write On Con, an online writing conference, is in full swing. I've submitted my picture books, Ghost Crab, Keeping the Night Out and Patience is Knitting as well as Zeylandicus. I'm getting great feedback on my queries, first 250 words and first five pages for these. Thanks everyone for the feedback.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mother/Daughter Best of Summer 2013 Kid Lit Giveaway Hop August 26-September 6

I'll be participating in this blog hop from Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. I'll also be giving away a copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher plus a $10.00 Amazon gift card. Join in the fun if you love kid lit. If you're an author, there's still time to sign up.

I'm posting the code to sign up for the Blog Hop. See the post above to join in the fun. It starts August 26 and runs through September 6. The winner will receive a signed copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher and a $10.00 gift certificate from Amazon. Best of Luck.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

So Close and Yet So Far, July Camp Wrimo

Well, once again, life came between me and my 50,000 words. I did end up with 11,022 words added to an ongoing novel, The Basket Case, so I'm very happy with that. Thanks so much to the NANO WRIMO staff for another great writing month. I joined a cabin this time and enjoyed the emails from the other campers.

It's so important when you're a beginning writer, or even a seasoned one, to not be totally isolated in your writing. My critique group in Raleigh, NC, The Goalies, sometimes have writing days. These are spontaneous and open to anyone in the group who is available. One member emails that she is writing and invites others to join in. Anyone else checking the email sends back that they'll be writing as well. We email later when we're finished and if we feel it was productive, how much written, etc. So, we're writing together, in separate homes/offices/restaurants and often in separate cities. But, we still have that feeling of camaraderie across the miles.

One of our members, Kate, shared the website. This site sets a timer for twenty-five minutes so that you can focus and work in short bursts, take a break and then go at it again.

I need to remember to use this more often. I tend to get on a roll with my writing and not want to stop, fearing that I'll lose whatever thread is winding its way through my brain at the time. I'm limited to physically typing for too long due to shoulder injuries sustained through my place of work. More than two hours of typing may incapacitate me for the next day's session, a lesson I learned this summer.

All in all, however, I am happy to say that I wrote more this time than in any other NANO attempt. I will try next November again, but with a Zentangle certification conference for four days and teaching, I need to set a more attainable goal. Okay, so here goes - my goal is 12,000 words. Not much more than my current total, but even with teaching, I plan to keep going.

I'm hoping that The Basket Case is finished at that point. Currently I have 17,835 words, six completed chapters and an outline for Chapter 7. I love where this is going and am getting good feedback from my Goldsboro critique group and mother and sister. I'm relying on the latter two as the book centers around a basket shop and basket makers convention. With decades of experience in both of those, they're my technical experts here.

My other distraction during July? Oh, yes. I got the word from my principal recently that I will not be teaching resource this year. For the first time in thirty years, less than two years before retiring, I will be teaching a class of regular students - math and science. Out of necessity (or nerves), I've been combing the web for teaching ideas as well as new pacing guides. One thing that stays the same about teaching is that it's always different, completely understated at this point. I'm actually excited about this and am happy that it's 6th grade students and that I'm familiar with the rest of the 6th grade teachers. They're such a wonderful group. So, like my critique buddies who are there to encourage me, at least I go forward into uncharted territory knowing that I have a support group there as well.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Camp Wrimo Update

11,000 words so far. Yes, I'm a little behind, but my shoulder gives out after too long at the computer. At least I'm past the 10% part of the bullseye. Write on!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Camp Nanowrimo

I have so many works in progress, that sometimes it take something like Camp Nanowrimo to get me focused on just one so that I can actually finish. I'm still finishing the last touches on Zeylandicus, my middle grade fantasy novel, but I decided to use this month to complete an adult mystery, The Basket Case.
If you haven't heard of Camp Nanowrimo, this is an extension of the regular Nanowrimo - National Novel Writer's Month. Nanowrimo is held every November. Those who accept the challenge aim for 50,000 words for that month. They also try to complete a novel within a month. It's quite a challenge, but a lot of people do manage to do this.
I've tried the November Nano several times, but with teaching, November usually proves too busy a time for this. Camp Nanowrimo is perfect since I'm not working in the summer. I'm having a really fun time with this. The whole thing is free for anyone who wishes to participate. You just write on your computer, paper, napkins, etc. and update your word count each time on the website. You can join a "cabin" with other participants. This is motivating to me as I can see my cabinmates' progress and both give and receive encouragement.
So far, I've added 1,144 words to TBC. My husband, Henry, is writing this summer as well, so there is another source of support.
If you're looking for a critique group, but haven't found one yet, or just want to connect with other writers, this is an excellent place to start. Click on the links above to start your count. Even if you don't make the 50,000 words, it's still a plus and probably more than you would have done alone. So, climb on the bus and let's go. We'll save you some s'mores. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Butt in the Chair!

My critique group, The Goalies, whom I've had the pleasure to meet with for the last eight years, has an expression which sums up the best way to be a writer: Butt in the Chair. If you don't sit down and start to write, your book will not write itself. As a writer, you will have many days when you just don't have a thought about writing. You get stuck on a plot or character and can't for the life of you think of the next chapter or even sentence in your masterpiece.
The problem is that is you don't break the stagnation, it will continue to grow and have babies. I have a problem with this, primarily because I also have the problem of starting too many projects at once and then once or more of them has to sit for a while before I get back to it.
My goal this summer is to finish editing (is that possible?) Zeylandicus, which is essentially a finished novel. I've given myself a deadline of June 30th to get it into an acceptable shape to submit to an editor/publisher/agent/anyone willing to read it. The goalies have been reviewing a chapter at a time, but in the meantime, I think after several years, I'm ready to be able to say another project is complete.
I've started scheduling myself between writing, weaving, scrapbooking and spending time with Henry now that we're both off for the summer. Today, I had told myself that I would write. I edited two chapters and felt so good about it that I returned to the computer to finish a third after lunch. At this rate, I should meet my deadline.
 My Goalie friends will often send an email to let the others know that they are writing. We can get a virtual writing group going on at times with several of us writing in the privacy and quiet of our own homes, but knowing that our friends are out there and that they have our support. I apologize to my critique buddies today for not sending an email. I got so into the story that I forgot until after lunch. I guess that's a good sign, though.
As my husband is also a writer, we have tried to work out times when we're both writing. That helps keep the other person aware and lets us know not to turn on loud music or the tv, or walk into the room where the other is working, breaking a thought and momentum.
Writing doesn't have to be a lonely profession. You don't need others around you to write; in fact, it's better for most of us not to have disturbances. But, it's also nice to have support from others, like a cheering section, encouraging us in our endeavors and being willing to share ideas if asked. I haven't proposed this idea of the "tomatoes" yet to them.
The Goalies introduced me to This website includes a built-in pomodoro kitchen timer that goes for 25 minutes. You set the timer, work for 25 minutes or until the timer goes off, take a five-minute break, then start again. You can record what you wrote about on your break.
A last thought is The website is having July camp this year. You can join  and challenge yourself to write 50,000 words in one month, as they do each year in November. I've tried this, but teaching in November usually presents too much of an interference. Maybe this year... I will definitely try in July. I could always take a piece that is barely started and add 50,000 words to it.
So, what method will you use to get your "butt in the chair" this summer? Do you have another idea of system to share?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Winner of the Kid Lit Blog Hop Giveaway

Drum roll, please! The winner of a free, autographed copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher is.......

Georgia H. B. !

Thanks so much to everyone who participated this week. I hope you had fun visiting the many kid lit sites and that this will lead to new reading adventures for your kids or for yourself. Happy reading from everyone at Maude's Web.

Kathryn Jacoby
Aunt Rita
Mabel Verity

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Annual SCBWI Schmooze at Quail Ridge Books

hosted by the
May 19, 2013

Are you a children's author who plans to be in the Raleigh area next weekend?
Please join the SCBWI and the goalies critique group for our annual SCHMOOZE at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh from 2:00 to 5:00 on May 19. We'll being doing a first-pages panel again. Last year's entries were fabulous as were our guest panelists.
This year, we are fortunate to have as our Panelists:
Sue Soltis (Nothing Like a Puffin)
Cate Tiernan (Immortal Beloved, Balefire, and Sweep series)
Jackie Ogburn (The Bake Shop Ghost, a Dignity of Dragons, Little Treasures, and many more)
They will read and critique the first 250 words of your picture book, chapter book, middle grade book, young adult book, or illustration (no adult writing, please).

Critique Rules:

1. Entries over 250 words will be excluded. Include a word count and category (YA Fiction, MG Fantasy, for example) at the top of your entry.
2. DO NOT include your name.
3. Hand your entry to one of the smiling Goalies members when you enter the bookstore.
4. Help yourself to many of the delicious snacks provided.
5. Mill around and schmooze while checking out Quail Ridge Books' beautiful bookstore.
6. Sit back and enjoy the program.

Everyone is welcome! Entries are anonymous -- so come and meet your fellow kidlit authors!
No registration is required. The event is free. We hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Grammar Matters and Other Weekend Ramblings

Not much irks me more than bad grammar, especially when I feel it pouring from my own lips too fast for my tongue to corral back into my mouth. There is a definite trend in our country to completely ignore all conventions of grammar and manners (but that's another subject for another day). I see bad grammar on billboards, hear it on television from actors on tv shows to news anchors. Writers are responsible for tv and movie scripts, so wouldn't it seem that they would want to convey a sense of intelligence to the actors who bring their words to life? I read a lot of kids'/teens' books to help me with my own writing. I'm surprised at the grammar mistakes, not in conversation pieces, but in the prose sections of some of these books. Where was the editor?

I've always noted that just because one is a teacher, even a Language Arts teacher, it doesn't follow that one's grammar or spelling is good. This is unfortunate, since we teachers are seen as a child's introduction into the finer points of the English language in the US. I'm one of the oldest teachers in the middle school where I teach and have observed a disregard to staying with any teaching methods seen as "old school." Grammar is something that is usually left on the back burner, so to speak, except for brief spurts of lessons maybe a few times a year. The grammar books, and I admit they're dull just to plow through on their own, are the least used of all books in the language arts classrooms, not even suggested for students to use as reference.

The classic short stories or novels are seldom taught as well. Students now have more trouble relating to the characters in these stories than we did decades ago. I understand that students today have much shorter attention spans and ability to focus on harder material. The loss is theirs and their teachers, I believe. They not only miss some fantastic writing, but the structure, spelling and grammar of these stories were usually perfect. I constantly tell parents of my exceptional students that they will learn more spelling and vocabulary if they read more. Students are missing many opportunities to learn by seeing how the English language is supposed to be. I'd love to see a lesson where Little Women and The Hunger Games were taught. Think of the compare/contrast activities the students could do using the characters of Jo and Katniss, not to mention evaluating two societies undergoing political conflicts, one based on reality, the other completely fantasy.

What I love most about our language is its complexity. Ours is not a stagnant language; we're constantly incorporating new words from other languages into our own. At the same time, as writers, we need to become as familiar with our own language and its nuances and labyrinths that open us to new ideas. Instead of throwing out stories because they're "dated," we could celebrate an opportunity to glimpse into the past and make the history books more personalized. I love it when the social studies teachers use novels along with their texts to help their students feel empathy for the era they're studying. Copper Sun by Sharon M. Draper is used each year in our eighth grade classes. The students LOVE this book and hang onto each word being read.

Our sixth graders read a story this year from their literature book by Jack London, The King of Mazy May: The Story of the Klondike. For students who have grown up with computers and cell phones, it was a challenge to understand a teenager who had one pair of moccasins and who worked with his father securing their meals and protecting their home from claim jumpers. The language, however, was easy enough for them to read and understand while including new vocabulary, such as "yawing" or "gee." London uses dialog such as "Faith, it's an ilegant chanst to be getting' a run fer yer money!", while using excellent narrative writing as contrast. Again, pairing this story with one more current about a similar child struggling with daily life, such as Langston Hughes' Thank You, Ma'am, would add more relevance to both stories for the students.

Two classics that were taught for years in our eighth grade were Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. I really think these books were too difficult, not due to language, but because of the eighth grade students' inability to comprehend the sarcasm with which Twain wrote so well. These are beautifully written books with humor and language only Twain could write, but also extremely uncomfortable when Twain exposed characters, warts and all, for the cruelty and hypocrisy that only humanity can show. These are best left for older students or adults whose understanding has developed past the concrete thinking stages. Still for language and powerful imagery, Twain's writing is as good as it gets. He also knew how to contrast bad grammar as dialog from certain characters while maintaining perfect grammar in the narrative parts.

Side Note: This article will be adjusted during the next few days. I've asked my Goalies Critique Group to comment and leave notes for a critique. I have adjusted some parts from this morning. One excellent suggestion was to suggest two grammar books, The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, and also Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss. Both are written in a humorous, witty fashion and have remained as go-to books for grammar and writing.Thanks, Karen!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Kid Lit Blog Hop & Giveaway

Maude here for Kathryn this morning. We're all so excited at my web today. Our blog has now reached over 1,000 views and we're celebrating by joining in on a Blog Hop hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews. We'll be giving away a copy of Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. I do play a feature role in the book, not to brag, of course. Just leave a comment under this post and become a follower of our site to be entered. Oh, yes, the blog hop, well, lots of websites, lots of authors, lots of free books coming to participants. So, check the list below and leave a comment on each between May 13 and 19. I'll look forward to seeing you then. Are you an author who wants to join? See Renee at Mother Daughter Book Reviews. Her site is number one.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Spine Poetry

I found this website through Renee@MDBookReviews and @pragmaticmom on twitter. What a wonderful way to get kids to explore a library or even your classroom bookshelf. Spine poetry according to 100 Scope Notes, orginiated with them. It consists of stacking several books so that their spines create a free verse. You can check out the galleries from the last four years. They are fascinating to read. I was looking for a quick lesson plan to do for Earth Day and am delighted to see these. I'll post some pics later of what my students come up with. Maybe our librarian will let us play there later when they get the idea down. I'm hoping this leads to an increase in their familiarity of titles they will come back and check out later. I just wish I had found this earlier in the year.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Promoting Your Book

Promoting one's book is necessary both when self-published or traditionally published. It takes time and research, a great amount of wheeling/dealing at times and mostly patience. You can spend money to do this, such as placing ads on book sites, but it doesn't have to be expensive. There seems to be a certain amount of double standard thinking along this line. Amazon doesn't want paid reviews, but the prestigious Kirkus Reviews are by no means free.  So how does one go about getting his/her book noticed?

If you self-publish a book and do no promotion, chances are no one will ever read your book. Don't be shy, other authors certainly aren't and their wheels will out-squeak yours to get the proverbial grease. There are ways to to attract attention. Amazon's KDP lists promotional suggestions, among these being doing free Kindle weekends. What? Give away my wonderful, sweated-over, golden words for free? Yes, for free. I tried this last fall and my little-noticed book was downloaded over two hundred times. Did I make a dime? No. But this led to another promotion...

I've been following a very nice website called Mother/Daughter Book Reviews. A mother and her two children read books and review them on the site. There are both popular and indie books shown as well as guest reviewers, book giveaways, etc. I love any site that encourages kids to read and to give feedback on a book (or as we teachers call it, using their reading comprehension skills). I wrote to Renee, the site's hostess to see if I could submit Delores Fletcher, Cobweb Catcher. To my surprise, she had downloaded my book during the free promotion and planned to review it in the future. She is currently accepting submissions. She has also started selling ad spaces on her site which led to another promotional idea...

There are a lot of book sites that make their expenses back through selling ad spaces along their side columns. They're usually very reasonable and last for weeks at a time. If you've ever placed an ad in a local newspaper, you'd appreciate the low cost of a book ad on these sites. Also, many of these sites boast readership in the tens of thousands. That's a lot of potential readers.

I'm not sure how I started getting Book Baby emails, but I do like some of their articles. A recent one gave a link to a site which lists 20 free e-book promotional sites. I'm exploring these now. I've discounted a few, but have now listed Delores on Ask David. There are only 1,967 books in the queue before mine, but I am a patient person. On to the next one in the list.

Social media is big. Use any form of social media you can to put the word out about your book. Make sure it is seen. One very fun, but addictive site is Pinterest. I now have a page devoted to all things Delores. I've included pins from craft sites or recipe sites which could be related to the story as well as artwork and brooms. If you do book signings, include pictures on your book boards as well.

Speaking of book signings, don't be shy about calling your local libraries. I have been turned down from certain counties which don't offer book readings for children by local authors. I view this as their loss, but mostly feel sad for the kids whose parents can't afford to take them to the book stores to buy them books. The live readings would enrich their lives and their imaginations. I have also been welcomed in small libraries and treated like royalty. The children were so wonderful. I came away as happy as the listeners.

Some local bookstores will also welcome you into their stores. You may do most or all of the promotion yourself, but it's all of the marketing plan that you need to have in place. Even with traditional publishing, after the initial book signing, which many don't do anymore, you're left to do a lot of the promoting yourself. You need to have a plan to keep your book afloat.

Sure, there are books that will always sell. They seem to have a permanent spot on the Barnes & Noble bookshelves. But, for the rest of us, there is limited shelf space left and the spots are hard to come by. So, get plenty of sleep, budget your time to research your options and make phone calls and emails. Your book is your baby and baby will need a lot of new shoes. So, keep writing and start promoting.

Monday, February 18, 2013

13 on Halloween (The Shadow Series #1) by Laura A. H. Elliott

I just finished reading Laura A.H. Elliott's first installment in The Shadow Series, 13 on Halloween, a YA fantasy novel. Roxie is the main character who turns 13 on Halloween. She manages to throw a birthday party for herself without her parents or nosy brothers finding out. Surprisingly, the most popular and coolest students at her school actually come to her party. They are the peacocks Roxie so desperately wants to be, not a dodo as she and her best friend, Ally, describe themselves. At the party, in a secret seance-like "game," Roxie is transported to Planet Popular, where she turns into the person she has longed to be. All is not perfect, however, when another girl goes missing. Back at home, Roxie finds her long-time friendship with Ally is strained to the breaking point. Should she return to Planet Popular or try to mend her friendship?

I feel the book would be enjoyable to a YA audience. The teenage angst seemed never ending at some parts, but then teenage angst also does this in real life as well. Anyone who grew up outside the glowing circle of the popular crowd could pretty easily relate to Roxie's longings and struggles to justify her pursuit of this presumably perfect world. Ms. Elliott's portrayal of the friendship breakup was believably painful as all breakups in real life are.

If I had any criticisms of this book, it would be of the editing. I feel that a closer edit would have corrected the occasional misuse of a word or grammar. I understand how easily it is to overlook a misspelled word when editing one's own work. But, once these are pointed out, they need to be corrected. One nice thing about publishing one's own work, at least through Create Space, is that you can go back and make corrections. In reading the reviews for this book, it seems I'm not the only one to note this. Any obvious mistakes takes the reader out of the flow of the story, which is a shame with this book. The story is original and I was compelled to read through even the extra peek at the next installment of the series before moving on to my next book.

I do recommend 13 On Halloween for anyone interested in YA romance. The author's use of animal metaphors is fun and I found myself rooting for not only the main character, but also her best friend, Ally.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I'm working on a new YA novel involving a new concept (actually an old one redesigned) called Zentangle. It involves drawing repetitive patterns on a small square of paper, using mostly pen and ink. I've been buying books for this for the last year or so and have become totally hooked on it. It is very meditative and relaxing. I went to my first class in Havelock, NC recently and loved it. I posted some other pictures on my crafting blog, Crafterdays. As you can see, I've started incorporating color with this. My plans are to continue to take classes, hopefully from several teachers, and to use it to illustrate some of my picture books. It's great by itself, but when combined with other art is really incredible.