Wednesday, July 14, 2010

YA author Kathi Wallace, guest blogging

Help me welcome Kathi Wallace.  She's our guest blogger.  My future aim is to entice authors of all genres to share their love of writing with you. Kathi writes for young adults, one of the hottest markets going. Please visit Kathi's website and check out her books.



Teaching Children to Write Starts with Teaching Them Story-Telling

I really like kids. I enjoy the sound of their voices when they are playing. I love to hear their giggles and whispers but watching them discover something for the first time is just sheer joy. Turning my joy in children into a profession was a natural evolution and I spent twenty years of my working life as an early childhood educator.

One of the things I have always tried to share with children was my love of books, having been introduced to books at an early age myself. I can still remember the patience of my grandmother as she would agree to read me 'Just one more, please, Mamo!'.

When I learned to read myself, I devoured everything I could get my hands on and at times, my desires outstripped my abilities; I read Anne McCaffrey's Dragonflight when I was seven and not surprisingly, didn't like it at all. It wasn't until ten years had passed and my father gave me an omnibus of McCaffrey’s work that I realized - Wow! Needless to say, after that I gobbled everything of hers I could get my hands on.

It only seemed right to share this passion for reading with kids, not only my own, but the ones I dealt with on a day-to-day basis in my daycare center. Reading and telling stories were one of the day's highlights, not only for the kids but for myself and the staff as well.

As an educator, mother and writer, I feel very strongly about encouraging children to share their creativity and a great way to do this is through story-telling.

Children get validation when they are listened to; being listened to increases their sense of self and their importance in the scheme of things. There is no better way to get kids talking and others listening than to have them tell or write stories. Telling stories increases vocabulary and expands a child's ability to imagine and there is no better gift to give a developing mind.

When is a child ready to make up their own stories? When they can listen to a story, then repeat back some of the main points of that story, they are ready. I've had kids as young as three do this, but bear in mind that not all kids develop at the same rate and not all children listen in the same manner. Some kids process while they move, so that tapping or rolling around they're doing doesn't necessarily mean they aren't hearing the story, which is why they need to be asked what they've just heard.

One good way to get your child started telling their own stories is to first tell a few yourself. Sometimes kids don't really understand what telling stories is all about – and I totally get that. Understanding that a story is something created out of nothing can be a logical leap and one way I have helped children cross that first mental hurdle was to ask them to give me a prompt, modeling always being the best way to teach a skill.

"What would you like to hear about today?" I would ask. "Help me decide what to tell a story about." This lets the child know that you aren't just repeating something you've read or heard about, you are actually creating something. After a few times of this - the child giving you a topic and you making up a crazy little story from that topic - the light bulb turns on and the child is ready to try for themselves.

Don't expect too much at first – very young story tellers usually have very short stories, sometimes only a sentence or two. Just nod and repeat back to them what you've heard and if another child is present, include them as well. "Did you like that story as much as I did?" Eventually, the stories these children tell will become longer.

After a child is comfortable telling stories, they are ready to take the next step, which is seeing their words on paper. If a child is not yet writing themselves, then just write down their stories for them, making sure to do it as they tell the story. This lets kids get the connection between words that are spoken and the fact that they can have a one-to-one correlation to a written word. Because of this, it's important to write down the story exactly as it is told.

Then read the child's story back to them and watch their pride and excitement in realizing what they've accomplished. Don’t be surprised if your own feelings of joy seem to be even greater than theirs.

Kathi Wallace is the author of Assiniboin Girl, a Young Adult book released by Drollerie Press ( and available from Amazon. She has two more books that will be released shortly. Kathi can found most days on her blog or on Twitter as Kathi430.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Interview with Sharon Pickrel

Hey everyone,

I hope you and yours had a nice holiday and that you remained safe.  As usual I am constantly in contact with super talented people, granted most of them are writers. But hey writers count big time and I love them.  Here’s something you might not know about writers.  They’re shy. Yes, I said it.  They’re very shy and most times don’t want to talk about themselves. Writer Sharon Pickrel,  proves my point. Just read her interview and see for yourself.  She has a wicked sense of humor.

Dyanne:  Sharon, can you tell the readers about yourself, family, job pets, hobby?

Sharon:   The basics, huh?  OK.  I'm divorced, no kids or pets but lots of house
plants I find way too easy to kill.  I have a degree in chemistry and
in a former life worked in environmental consulting.  Now I work in
addiction research monitoring clinical trials so I spend a lot of time
on the road.  I have a sister on the west coast and a brother on the
east coast.

(OK - so I send this off to Dyanne with a huge sigh of relief and that warm and fuzzy feeling I get when an uncomfortable task is done.  Then, this morning - wicked, evil woman that she is - there's an email in my inbox wondering in the nicest, friendliest way if I want to add more to my answers.  This includes a trick I use- namely sharing the information that I don't pay for blog space by the word so there's no length limit and closes with the rhetorical question "Now, was this painful?" - and I know, KNOW I'm screwed.

Hell yes, it's painful.

But see - I so hate to talk about myself.  I mean really - I'm the boring-est person I know.  I work, write and do dishes.  Sometimes I do laundry (though as little of that as possible.  I even bought extra bras to lengthen the time between laundry emergencies) and I read.  I don't watch TV except to rent movies or stare at the local weather radar when there's even the smallest possibility of a getting snow day from work.  (My rapt, undivided attention is a powerful motivator for the storm front to do an Emeril and kick it up a notch.)

So seriously - what's in there that makes for scintillating reading? 

Dyanne:  ROFL.  Now tell me you don’t think Sharon is funny. And this is the thing about writers they are naturally clever and you can’t help but enjoy it when they’re ahh…on the hot seat so to speak.  
So, Sharon, despite your protests to the contrary that you’re not a writer, I know there is a writer hiding inside of every reader tell me, have you found yours yet?

Sharon:  Cripes - I doubt she was ever lost.  I've always made up stories.  It
just took a long time before I wrote any of them down.

(I used to walk to and from school (20 miles, early-blooming boobs clearing the snow out of my path)  and I would write 'em in my head. I asked to go to the bathroom once in elementary school and was so engrossed in my latest story I lost track of time and the teacher sent out a search party.  I got detention and more time to plot in peace.  So see - there's an upside to everything.)

Dyanne: That 20 miles….is that for real or is that a Bill Cosby 20 miles? (smile) I’m playing arm chair psychologist here.  I’ll bet you’re feeling that way. What is your worst fear about letting family, friends, church know you're a

Sharon:  That they'd want to read my writing.  Plus, once they know they have a
habit of asking about how it's going.

(Can we be honest here?  Really?  Good!

'Cause there's always this sneaky little part of me that knows NO fear whatsoever and pipes up with "Yeah, going good - wanna read it."  Lord!  How dare she?  And how come I can't find her address to kill her dead?  She's always doing stuff like that.)

Dyanne: LOL.  I know the feeling.  But guess what, it’s not gong to be your family friends or church who will keep wanting to read your work.  It’s going to be strangers.  Now think about that one. (smile)

Have you carved out a writing schedule for yourself?

Sharon:  Nope, but I should.  I do NaNo every year and that structure always
jump starts the writing because it's a sort of all my free time is my
writing schedule.  It does away with the wondering when....

(Right now?  Writing sucks.  I can't plot to save my life.  I've got dozens of ideas for worlds, characters, new life forms, decadent chocolate desserts - and guess what? They're all sitting there staring at me and snickering.  When it gets really bad, they even do the neener, neener, neerer dance.  I mean really!  How rude can your imagination get?)

Dyanne:  I hope your writng include some of your natural humor because you ARE FUNNY!! Flash…Story.  Idea.  A writer whose characters mock her.  I think you’re the writer for that story.  Now I want to share a not so secret secret.

 I am very powerful and have the power to grant you your fondest wish.  There
 is just one catch, it has to be a wish for you and you alone.  I t has to be
selfish even.  What wish would you like for me to grant?

Sharon:  Hmmm.  I have lots of selfish wishes, from quitting smoking to losing
weight.  Or being published just once before I die.

Dyanne:  I’m going to grant two of your wishes.  YOU will be published.  You’ll have to guess on which of the remaining two I granted. Believe it or not there is a reason for the next question I’m asking you, crazy isn’t it.

 Earth can no longer hold all of it's citizens so many are being resettled on
 a planet of their choice, and yes you can make up a new planet. Tell me what
you planet looks like and what you're going to find when you get there.

Sharon:  It has a beach in the front yard and a fresh water lake out back of
the magically, mysteriously naturally occurring house.  And beyond the
lake are the mountains.  High, snow capped and ending in the clouds.
The climate is never hotter than 75 degrees or colder than 50 degrees.

Dyanne:  You have just proven my point.  The creative mind of a writer can take anything thrown at them, make a story out of it and throw it back. Well done. I like your world.

Now since I know all writers are avid readers I'm gong to ask you some
reader related questions.   What genres do you in general prefer to read and why?

Sharon:  Paranormal and sci fi with strong world building and characters I can
follow for the long haul.  Why?  Because of the magic inherent in
imagining other possibilities.

Dyanne     What is your take on e-books and e-readers?

Sharon:  I love them.  I travel a LOT and take my e-reader with me.  So much easier than packing books.

Dyanne:  Who are some of your go to authors, what is about their books/style
of writing that puts them in your auto buy category?

Sharon:   Lately?  Patricia Briggs, Robert Crais and Phil Rickman.  And it's
because they aren't trite - either in the plot layers or the character

Dyanne:   Have you recently discovered any new authors?

Sharon:  Val McDermot - I started reading her after watching Wire in the Blood
on netflix.
Dyanne:  Without naming names has a book ever left you feeling disappointed with
                the  story, characters, or ending?

Sharon:    Oh yeah.  I've thrown books across the room.  I've tossed 'em in the
                 trash and sworn at them. 

(I'm so BAD!  I always read the end first.  And if I don't like it, I don't read the book and they'd sit in my bookcases taking up space and expanding the cubic area that required dusting. Then I found this great site... now I release books I don't want into the wild.  Book Crossing is sort of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Books.  They're very cool.)

Dyanne:  I love that society. I’m going to check them out. But wait…does that mean that all the books they have are the rejects?  Hmm. Sharon, how active are you in online author’s groups, social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, tweeter, Good Reads, etc)?

Sharon:  I'm active in a volunteering sort of way with a couple of RWA online
chapters.  I don't use social networking - just not my style.  I do
write collaborative fiction with some friends on Quillings, a Yahoo!
group.  I tell people I have no life and live in a cave - and it seems
to be true.

Dyanne:  What do you think of on-line reviews? Do they influence the books
you buy?

Sharon: Nope.  I never read them, actually. 

Dyanne:  My kind of  Writer.    Are most of your books purchased from the Internet or from the
bricks and mortar bookstores?

Sharon: Online - I adore

Dyanne: I haven’t bought an e-reader but with Amazon and the Kindle for pc I know have a huge assortment of books.      With the rise of E-Books, would you say you spend less on the purchase of  printed books now than you have in the past? Also do you think one day
printed books will be obsolete?

Sharon:  Yep, I spend less but I've also been known to buy the ebook and then
decide I want the hard copy too.  I don't know if they'll be obsolete.
My suspicion is yes, unfortunately.  I wrote a story once where
owning paper books was a sign of wealth and the books were treasures.

Dyanne:  That makes me wonder if you might be a little bit psychic.  I’ll have to check into that and see.  Is there anything that I didn't ask you that you would like to say?

Sharon: Nope, not really.

Dyanne:  Do you have any advice for authors?  How about readers?

Sharon: For writers - quit caring if you're good enough.  Care about if you're
getting better at it.

For readers?  Demand the best in story telling - not the available.

Dyanne:  Seriously, I love your advice. Writers are always questioning themselves. You’d think with the being so sensitive trait writers would seek a new career.  But then they wouldn’t be writers right? LOL.  Sharon, can you give me links to where you hang out so your soon to be fans can reach you?

Sharon:  I hang out at Savvy Authors ( and on Quillings
( and I post my never edited
collaborative fiction at

 Dyanne:  Thanks Sharon.  This was fun.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Another great contest.

RITA Nominees Giveaway by Forever Romance

By Kate Brady
Best First Book & Romantic Suspense Categories
Mass Market, ISBN 9780446541527, US$6.99 /CAN$8.50

By Julia Harper
Contemporary Single Title Romance Category
Mass Market, ISBN 9780446619189, US$6.99 /CAN$8.50

By Elizabeth Hoyt
Historical Romance Category
Mass Market, ISBN 9780446406932, US$6.99 /CAN$8.50

By Margaret Mallory
Historical Romance Category
Mass Market, ISBN 9780446553384, US$6.99 /CAN$8.50

By Carolyn Jewel
Paranormal Romance Category
Mass Market, ISBN 9780446178242, US$6.99 /CAN$8.50

By Karen Rose
Romantic Suspense
Mass Market, ISBN 9780446616935, US$6.99 /CAN$8.50

I've got 3 sets to give away, many thanks to Anna at Forever Romance (Hachette Books) for this fantastic giveaway!!

So This Is What You Have To Do To Get An Entry!
1. Leave a Comment +1
2. Follow Me +1 already a follower +2
3. Post this contest on your blog (can be on your sidebar or a post) +3

PLEASE put your email in your comments or no entry (no exceptions).
This is for the USA and Canada only please and no Po Boxes (publishers rule)!
Winners will be announced on July 28th 2010!


Lest Ye Be Judged

Lest Ye Be Judged
Adam Omega, returns vengeance