Sunday, October 15, 2017

Esme Dooley and the Kirkkomaki Circus -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” 
~ Bill Gates ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Feeling overwhelmed by writing? Anne R. Allen’s post HERE will help you set up process goals to make your writing more manageable. 

Searching for words? The new Merriam-Webster has added 250 new words HERE this year. This is pretty fun. 

Agent Joyce Holland has written an excellent essay HERE on what NOT to do when finding an agent. 

I had a wonderful experience recently. I don't know how many of you write in rhyme, but I have some picture book manuscripts in rhyme and some story poems I work on now and again. I've even had some success with these. Sometimes things just demand to be written in rhyme, but try as I might, I never seem to solve all the problems of meter on my own. I read about a service somewhere -- can't remember where -- but I gave it a try. The service is called Rhyme Solutions and woman who runs it is Jess Carroll. Her service is so affordable, it was a no-brainer for me to try it. My manuscript came back quickly with exactly the help I needed on it. I sent her another, and got the same great, fast service and a big BONUS! On my email signature, I have the link to my daughter Maggie's crowdfunding campaign for her cancer treatments. Jess Carroll went to the link and not only made a donation (Thank you, Jess!) but also committed to donating a portion of every contract she gets for her rhyme service until Maggie's campaign is fulfilled. How cool is that? So if you have anything that rhymes that you need a little help with, please check out Jess's service HERE. I have used her twice and will be sending more work her way soon. This community of children's writers is really fantastic.

If you are anywhere near New York City, Maggie's show will open off-Broadway the end of the month. They are in previews now. I won't be here blogging two weeks from now because I am flying out for the opening. HERE is the link to more info about the wonderful new musical. 

Last week I offered a double giveaway -- a signed copy of Caleb's Lighthouse by Tracy Schuldt Helixon and They Didn't Teach THIS in Worm School by Simone Lia. Our winner this week is cschwanke2013. Congratulations to you! I will get your books out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have another giveaway this week, so please keep reading.

This week's offering is Esme Dooley and the Kirkkomaki Circus by Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter. Here is the review I wrote for the San Francisco Book Review

Esme Dooley is only eleven years old, but that doesn’t mean she can’t solve mysteries. She and her cousin, Tommy, are best friends as well as cousins, and Tommy stays with Esme through thick and thin as she follows clues and tries new, daring ventures. Their grandmother, Papuza, announces she is going to take the two of them with her as she goes on a journey to find someone she thought was dead long ago. Papuza tells them how, when they were children, Arthur was Papuza’s cousin and best friend, just as Esme and Tommy are now, but Arthur has been gone for sixty years. At least that’s what Papuza thought. Her adventurous childhood had included working as a miner and in a logging camp, where she had become friends with a girl named Katrina Kirkkomaki. Katrina always wanted to have a circus. When Papuza sees a newspaper ad for a Kirkkomaki Circus, she sends a telegram and discovers it is her old friend who runs the circus, and Katrina had been contacted by a detective looking for Papuza. The detective has news of Arthur. Papuza, Esme, and Tommy embark on a journey to meet the circus, see Katrina, and get in touch with the detective.

Complicating everything is old Aunt Hatch, a hateful relative who seems to want Esme dead. The three travelers leave town quickly after an incident with Hatch. They travel in a gypsy wagon and have lots of adventures along the way. They run across animals that seem to have escaped from a circus, and when they finally arrive there, they discover there are all kinds of strange and dangerous things happening at Katrina’s circus. It seems someone is trying to destroy the circus. Esme decides it will be up to her and her self-proclaimed sleuthing skills to find out just who the culprit is. This is no easy task. People are being injured, and some injuries are life-threatening. Every time she turns around, Esme seems to find a new suspect, and Tommy is finding just as many. There are enough red herrings in this mystery to populate a town.

Co-authors Jane Donovan and Holly Trechter have written a fast-paced, episodic adventure with an amazing cast of characters who are quirky and perfect to populate an old-time circus. From a snake charmer to a bearded lady to a sage, an old fortune teller to a mermaid and more, there is something for everyone in this book. There are so many characters that it would have been a welcome addition to have a character list to refer to, because some characters disappear for longish periods and the book is much longer than is ordinary for the middle-grade audience for which it is intended. It will take focused, robust readers to complete reading this one. The charming silhouette illustrations by Jane Donovan add nicely to the story.

I have a gently-read paperback of this for one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Caleb's Lighthouse & They Didn't Teach THIS in Worm School -- Double Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, 
I can appreciate patience.”
~ Hal Borland ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Here’s another old one I found in my email, but it’s terrific. I don’t know of any one-character books, although Hatchet by Gary Paulsen comes close. For the rest of us, we need secondary characters. The post HERE discusses how to do secondary characters well. 

C. S. Lakin has a good post HERE on Writers Helping Writers that is critical for beginning writers and good reminders for more experienced writers on the 10 Key Scenes You Need to Frame Up Your Novel. 

 Jenny Hansen has a guest post HERE on Writers in the Storm that is not to be missed. There are links in it that might change a lot of things for you and in a good way. 

I was MIA last week because I was in New York for the weekend on a family trip. I expected to post anyway, but I took a terrible fall on Saturday evening while boarding the Circle Line boat for the Harbor Lights tour. Try to never faceplant on a steel deck. It's not fun. I'm still having headaches and my face looks like I went a couple rounds with Mike Tyson, but nothing was broken and I'm better every day. That said, I just wasn't up to posting last Sunday. Other than the faceplant, I had a really nice trip that included a Broadway show (Waitress) with a backstage tour compliments of a friend of Maggie who is in that show and the last regular season Yankees game of the year with my grandson, Gehrig. Even the boat ride was nice once the bleeding stopped. 😂

I promised a hardcover of Heartwood Hotel Book 2 The Greatest Gift by Kallie George to one of you. It's such a sweet book. The winner this time is Carol Baldwin. Congratulations, Carol! I will get the book out to you soon. If you don't know Carol, she is a North Carolina writer who blogs at the aptly-named Carol Baldwin's Blog which you can find HERE. There is always a lot to learn at Carol's blog. For the rest of you, please keep reading. I have a special, double giveaway this week.

Caleb's Lighthouse by Tracy Schuldt Helixon is an early middle grade book that is about as sweet as they come. Caleb is the youngest of seven boys. When the family moves to a lighthouse where Father is to be the new lighthouse keeper, the older boys claim the beds and Caleb doesn't seem to have a place. But the house seems to speak to Caleb, welcoming him and helping him find a place to fit in. Through the years, the story tells what it was like to grow up in this environment, the house giving comfort and solace to Caleb. The family moves away after the lighthouse is automated, and the house falls into ruin, but the story comes full circle when Caleb returns to help restore the house. This is a sweet story kids and lighthouse lovers (like me) will enjoy, especially when they find out it's based on a real place. Both writing and illustrations are lovely.

grade readers and is about as silly a story as one can find. It tells the tale of a worm named Marcus who tricks a chicken named Laurence into not eating him and, in doing so, triggers an amazing journey and an even more amazing friendship. Laurence, it turns out, believes he is really a Flamingo and should be living in Africa. His problem is he can't read a map or navigate to get there. Marcus is Laurence's only hope of getting there. The book just gets sillier as it goes on with lots of funny characters wandering in and out of the story, making for lots of nonsensical tension and wacky situations. Cute illustrations throughout help to keep those pages turning. This will be a big hit with the young middle-grade crowd.

I have gently-read paperbacks of both of these for one of you. Caleb's Lighthouse is a signed copy. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Heartwood Hotel Book 2 The Greatest Gift -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“My stories run up and bite me in the leg -- I respond by writing them down -- everything that 
goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.” 
~ Ray Bradbury ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
I have started clearing out my email. It’s been a while. I ran across this post from Janice Hardy from 2015 that I had bookmarked in my email. It’s so good (and timeless) that I decided to post the link HERE in spite of the age. 

A great villain is hard to beat and so necessary to a story. Kristin Lamb has a post HERE that will help you create just such a character. And, BONUS, her posts are always fun to read. 

This is just for fun. Folks at the University of York have uncovered 30 words lost from the English language that should maybe make a comeback HERE. That said, I might be put off if anyone referred to me as being snout-fair. 

Now and then I have time to read a book for actual adults. The book I recently read is Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate I really loved it and want to recommend it to any other adult readers. It's a terrific story with great writing. 

Last week I offered a copy of A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini to one of you. This week's winner is Paddy Lawton. Congratulations, Paddy! I will get your book out to you soon. For the rest of you, another wonderful giveaway in the offing. Please stay tuned.

This week's book is Heartwood Hotel, Book 2, The Greatest Gift, a sweet book by Kallie George for early middle-graders. Here is my review for the San Francisco Book Review.

Mona the mouse has recently joined the staff at the Heartwood Hotel, and it is a very busy time of year until they get all the hibernating animals settled in. The staff celebrates with a St. Slumber supper and gifts are exchanged. Mona, an orphan mouse, had no idea she should have gifts for anyone and feels terrible that she doesn’t. Duchess Haveline, a demanding, wealthy rabbit, arrives unannounced and insists on being in the penthouse and having the lobby carpet installed in her room. Mona decides she will make a new carpet as a gift for everyone. She goes to the storage room to get twine and discovers a thief who is stealing food. Since a days-long blizzard is happening, this could be a disaster for all.

Author Kallie George has created a charming world populated by an enchanting
Kallie George
group of animal characters for younger middle-grade readers. Her writing is lovely and lyrical, and her story has a little mystery and a lot of delight. Illustrations by Stephanie Graegin complete this endearing story with perfectly adorable depictions of the characters and actions. This second book in the series will keep young readers captivated.

I have a gently-read hardback of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~ Thomas A. Edison ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
M. L. Keller has a terrific post HERE on Authorial Intrusion. This is something we all do now and again. It can be effective if done right, but one must be careful. 

Laurence McNaughton has a guest post HERE on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University that will help you make your characters irresistable to readers. 

It’s always nice to get tips from the masters. HERE are 11 writing tips from George R.R. Martin. He does know how. 

I would like to take a moment to be serious here. My daughter Maggie is in the fight of her life and needs some help. I would appreciate it if you could view her short video and help out by sharing her link on Facebook, Twitter, or any other way to get the word out. Here is the link: https://www.youcaring.com/maggiehollinbeck-946234

Last week, I offered a copy of Brave Red, Smart Frog by Emily Jenkins to one of you. It was a popular choice, I think. This week, not one person said to leave them out of the drawing, and I heard from some folks who seldom leave a comment. My granddaughter picked the winner this week, and it is John Smith. Congratulations, John! I'll get the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have a really fun book for a giveaway this week.

When my grandkids and I took our trip to Colorado this summer, Greg Pattridge, who blogs at Always in the Middle, gave my granddaughter a book that I had coincidently chosen for review. We both simply loved A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini and can hardly wait for the next one to come out. So much fun! Anyway, here is my review.

Kelly Ferguson has terrific Halloween plans. She and her best friend are going to a party where all the cool kids will be, including Victor, the guy who Kelly crushes on. But when Kelly’s mother’s boss calls and says her babysitter has fallen through for the night, Kelly’s mother blithely offers Kelly’s services. The kid, Jacob,  turns out to be a real handful — manipulative, smart, and scared of monsters. But when the monsters turn out to be real and when they steal Jacob away, everything changes for Kelly. She has to find a way to get Jacob back or her mother will lose her job. She makes an emergency phone call to Jacob’s regular babysitter and finds herself allied with a few monster-hunting babysitters with skills and knowledge Kelly never dreamed of.

"So much candy was given out that the air was dusted with sugar, 
and the breeze tasted sweet. Days after inhaling so much candy, 
a trick-or-treater could pick his nose, eat it, and swear he was 
eating a grape-flavored jelly bean."

Author Joe Ballarini has written an absolute romp of a book that will have kids
Joe Ballarini
everywhere howling for more. Fortunately, it looks like this will be only the first of a terrific series. The writing is crisp and absolutely pitch perfect for the middle-grade set. The story is exciting, funny, and very, very smart. This deserves, and will probably receive, readership beyond the target audience.



I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.


Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Brave Red, Smart Frog -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat.
This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like
murdering children, but it must be done." 
~ Stephen King ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
We are lucky Janice Hardy did a guest post at Middle Grade Mafia HERE about how to be sure your protagonist is just a little too lucky. 

You can get some good ideas about getting ideas HERE at the Mixed Up Files of … Middle Grade Authors. 

Come to your senses! Alex Limbaugh at Ride the Pen has a good post HERE about getting the five senses into your writing. 

I hope you all had a nice Labor Day weekend. I know I did. Some family time and some grilling and a whole lot of relaxation . . . and no blog post. C'est la vie.

When we last met here, I promised a copy of My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets by Dan Gutman to one of you. Extra chances by spreading the word might be the key to why Nancy won the book this week. Thanks for sharing my link, Nancy, and congratulations! I will get the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have another fun giveaway this week, so please keep reading.

I was contacted by a publicist not too long ago with an offer of a few books in exchange for some reviews. That's always a good deal as far as I'm concerned. So I requested some. I loved the title Brave Red, Smart Frog, and I do love a good fairy tale, so that was my first choice. This little tome has seven retold fairy tales in it -- some very familiar and some not so familiar. It includes Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and the Frog Prince as well as three not so well-known tales -- Toads and Pearls, The Three Great Noodles, and Three Wishes. All are written splendidly with fresh language and a bit of a fresh take on the stories. The book also has a lovely illustration with an absolutely classic fairy tale look at the beginning of each story by Rohan Daniel Eason as well as a cover that will tempt young readers to open the book. Author Emily Jenkins has clearly done her homework in finding texts that tell the stories well and giving her a good platform to write her own take. If you like fairy tales, you
Emily Jenkins
will definitely want a copy of this book.

I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Weird School Fast Facts Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Somebody asked me: 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: 'not' to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks
you make a pet out of it.” 
~ Charles Bukowski ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
As writers we are always looking for ways to make our characters distinctive. Language patterns certainly can help. The post HERE on Grammar Girl is about language forensics, and I found it fascinating. I thought you might also enjoy it, and it might give you some ideas for your own characters. 

Writers get stuck on a lot of things. When you are stuck on plot, the post by Janice Hardy HERE will help you out. 

Anne R. Allen’s blog always has something worth reading. The post HERE on writer’s mistakes she made so you don’t have to is another good one. 

I know the quote this week isn't the kind of inspirational quote I usually post, but I am a big fan of Charles Bukowski and this one just kind of spoke to me. I hope you like it.

Last week I offered a copy of Mrs. Master is a Disaster by Dan Gutman to one of you. This week's winner is Kristi V. Kristi shared the link a couple of places for extra chances and it worked! Congratulations, Kristi V., and thanks for spreading the word. For the rest of you, I not only have another book to give away, but I have another Dan Gutman book to give away, so stay tuned.

I ws lucky enough to snag two Dan Gutman books for the review. Here is what I wrote about My Weird School Fast Facts Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets.

A.J. and his nemesis, Andrea, are together again to bring plenty of fascinating fast facts to their reading audience much as they did in earlier books about geography and sports. How many facts can these two kids know? Well, it turns out it’s quite a few. Most of them are actual facts, although it’s a good idea to think hard about some that A.J. offers up. This book takes a fresh look at American history. They start by talking about the explorers who discovered our great land and those who thought they discovered it. Then on to the history of the Colonies and the beginning of our country all the way to a chapter called Everything that Happened After WWII and ending with a chapter on the history of toilets. It seems toilets always have a place in A.J.’s life.
Dan Gutman

Author Dan Gutman has a wicked sense of humor, and it shows on every page in this super fun overview of our country’s history. Most middle grade readers will just read right through without realizing how much learning they are doing. Illustrator Jim Paillot helps the fun along but adds photos for a touch of reality.  

I have a gently-read paperback of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mrs. Master is a Disaster -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“There is progress whether ye are going forward or backward! The thing is to move.” 
~ Edgar Cayce ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Have you ever heard of the First Person Plural point of view? I never had until I read the essay HERE from Aerogramme Writer’s Studio. Fascinating. I suspect we will be seeing this perspective more often. 

HERE are some great tips about writing from writers. My personal favorites are 3, 15, and 17. There may be an ad when you open this, but it’s worth waiting for. 

Have you received a Revise and Resubmit request from an agent? I sure hope it happens to me one of these days. Anyway, HERE is a good post from Guide to Literary Agents on that topic. 

On the Writing News from Rosi front, I have a couple of things to report. I had an email from High Five Magazine recently. They bought a little story from me back in 2011. They are going to (finally!) publish it in the March 2018 issue, and they have a wonderful artist lined up to illustrate it. I don't think I'm allowed to mention who, but I'm excited! The other news is that I have been accepted to the SCBWI Nevada mentorship program for this year! WooHoo! It's a great program and am so honored to be part of it. I really think this will be a huge step for me in my writing.

Last week, I offered a copy of Greek Myths: Three Heroic Tales by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden, and illustrated by Carole Henaff. Our winner this week is Danielle Hammelef. Congratulations, Danielle! She always shares my link lots of places for extra chances. I appreciate that and it's fun for me when her name pops out as winner. Danielle, I will get the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have a really fun book to give away this week.

I was looking for some really light middle-grade books to keep my review list from being too overwhelming. I saw a couple Dan Gutman books on the list and grabbled them. His books are pretty funny stuff. I love his footnotes. Here is the review I wrote for Mrs. Master is a Disaster.

It is Grandparent's Day in A.J.’s classroom. The old fogies (A.J.’s grandfather's word) come trooping in and tell their stories. Some are pretty funny and some are pretty interesting. But the most interesting of all is Alexia's grandmother, Mrs. Master. She is an inventor. She has invented some amazing things such as self-tying shoes and eyeglasses with little windshield wipers on them. Needless to say, the kids are very intrigued. They decide if they can invent something, they can all become bazillionaires! Mrs. Master agrees to mentor them. First they must come up with an idea for a product that everyone would want or need. After kicking around a few ideas, they decide that everyone needs a toilet seat — but one that glows in the dark, smells nice, can carry on a
Dan Gutman
conversation, and is heated. What could go wrong?

Dan Gutman is a very, very funny guy who writes very, very funny books. This is no exception. And his partner in crime … um, I mean funny books … is illustrator Jim Paillot who makes Gutman’s funny books just that much funnier. Early middle-grade readers will race through this latest offering.

I have a gently-read paperback of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.