Friday, August 27, 2010

Summer Wrap Up/Fall Preview

It's been a great summer with several debut writers stopping in to share their books and their advice. Did you know that only 5% of the books published each year are by first time authors? The rest are by established or celebrity writers. Keep the new books coming by passing the word about these books and by adding them to your MUST READ or GIFT list.

Here they are again, those beautiful covers and those wonderful stories for young readers of all ages.
So what's coming up on the Write Game for fall? How about something to do with food? I love to eat. Don't all writers love to eat? You'd think so by the forum exchanges or from some of the food scenes in books. Yum. Check back next week for some tasty lit.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Summer. Let's Read with 5 Indie-Debut Authors

This has been a super fun and exciting summer series, and ending it with these five fabulous debut authors has made it even more special. Thanks, wonderful writers and great good luck with your books. Aik, if you'll contact Donna McDine with your address YOU, my dear, get the SWAG.

Welcome to the final post in this Debut series. 
 Indie-Debut 2010 is a group of debut children’s authors who've joined together to spread the word about their books, all of which hail from small presses. At a time when the book world continues to struggle economically, there are many small publishers redefining the business. Business Week reports, "Without the marketing muscle or resources of the large houses, small publishers have innovated in order to successfully bring their authors to market.” The idea of Indie-Debut 2010 was to form a group to exercise that “marketing muscle” together, combining efforts and sharing resources and experiences.

Indie-Debut 2010 books are being published by a spectrum of small presses from across America and range from picture books to middle grade to young adult. Five Indie Debut authors are featured here:

This is a long post, but oh so worth it!

Lori’s The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade
ages 4-8
Dragonfly Publishers

Available at Amazon
Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was named Dragonfly Publishing Inc.’s 2009 Best Children’s Book. She writes for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at, and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her WEBSITE to learn more.


Danika’s fantasy adventure Brigitta of the White Forest
ages 8-12
en theos press
Available at Amazon.

Danika's WEBSITE
Danika Dinsmore has been working and playing with children in a variety of settings for eighteen years. She co-created Washington State’s first youth poetry slam and developed a curriculum guide for teaching poetry. She also produced the Seattle Poetry Festival’s Emerging Voice spokenword program for teens. She has worked as an artist-in-the-schools for Learning Through the Arts and teaches writing courses at Vancouver Film School, Capilano University, and Creative Writing for Children. Brigitta of the White Forest is her first novel, adapted from her original feature screenplay of the same name.

Donna’s The Golden Pathway
ages 9-12
Guardian Angel Publishing
Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories have been published in many print and online publications, and her first book, The Golden Pathway, will be published through Guardian Angel Publishing as well as her second book, The Hockey Agony. Ms. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Musing Our Children, and The National Writing for Children Center. Sign the GUESTBOOK ON HER WEBSITE and you’ll receive a FREE e-Book Write What Inspires You.

Jo’s Connection
Young Adult
Jupiter Gardens, Publisher

Jo Ramsey is a former teacher and current "paperwork person" who has been writing since age five. She has many manuscripts for teenagers sitting in a filing cabinet, and hopes to someday see them published. Connection is Jo's first published YA novel, and books 2 and 3 in the series will be released in October 2010 and March 2011 respectively. She also writes romance under a pen name. Jo lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her amazingly supportive husband, and two cats, one of whom occasionally tries to help her write.


Beth’s In My Bath and A Wish and a Prayer
Ages 2-6
4RV Publishing
In My Bath on Amazon & B&N 

A Wish and a Prayer on Amazon
Beth Bence Reinke is an author and registered dietitian from Pennsylvania. In addition to children’s books, she writes magazine articles about food and nutrition. Beth loves to read and runs the library at her church. For fun, she enjoys watching NASCAR races and football games. You can visit her at her  WEBSITE.

Their Advice

What’s the most memorable thing about your journey to publication?

Lori: The most memorable thing about my journey to publication is when my editor, Pat Gaines, called me to say my book had been awarded DFP's 2009 Best Children's Book Award. Needless to say, it was very rewarding!

Danika: I think it was working with my focus group of young readers at Puget Sound Community School before the final edit of the book. To sit with the kids and discuss the book was surreal. The fact that they really enjoyed it made all the hard work worthwhile.

Donna: The day my daughters’ chimed in unison, “Our mom is a children’s author.” With their quick interjection of the same exact words you would have thought they rehearsed this. To get recognition by my two daughters’ in such a manner and learning they see me much more than “just their mom” makes me walk lighter and beam with delight. So yes, this is my most memorable moment to date.

Jo: The most memorable thing would be the day I got the "Yes, I love this book and I want to publish it" from Jupiter Gardens.

Beth: It has been a joy to see my books come to life through the illustrations of  Ginger Nielson – she does beautiful work. Ginger also made promotional pages and trailers for  In My Bath and A Wish and a Prayer.

What was the most challenging?

Lori: I think the most challenging thing about my journey to publication was the editing process and making sure that The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade turned out to be the best book it could be.

Danika: Having patience during the pre-publication process. The launch was postponed once and it was sheer torture.  Although, I only had to wait about a year for publication. I know authors who wait 2 or more. Going over the manuscript again and again with the copy editor was tedious, but in the end, well worth it!

Donna: To write first thing in the morning before checking email, laundry, dishes, etc. I've been doing this for a while now and it has become a great habit. Now that we are on summer vacation, I've been getting up earlier than the girls to get my writing/marketing in for the day.

Jo: Revising Connection to meet the publisher's standards. The story was good, but there were things that needed to be fixed and things that she wanted changed, and some days I felt like I'd wind up bald from pulling my hair out over her suggestions. In the long run, though, her requests made it a stronger story.

Beth: For me, the hardest thing has been learning to market my books. As writers, we’re not trained in promotion, so we have to learn on the fly - by reading articles, networking with other authors and through trial-and-error.

Anything amusing / funny happen along the way?

Lori: I don't know if I'd call it funny, but I realized how buggy one's eyes can get when you're on the computer for so long!

Danika: After the book was published I taught an Imaginary Worlds class. One student borrowed a copy of my book and another student bought one. Two days later they were basically competing with their knowledge of Brigitta’s world and kept pointing things out that I didn’t even remember about the story.

Donna: While conducting a school visit at my fraternal twin sister’s school she introduced me as her twin sister the children’s author and the students jaws dropped. They started hollering saying no way, you look absolutely nothing alike. Prove it. They wouldn’t take answering the same questions privately stating we probably set them up. So we had to call our mother and put her on the speaker phone. They then believed us.

Jo: Nothing funny happened on the way to publication. However, now that I am published, Connection was put on my town high school's required summer reading list this year. All 550 students have to read it. I've had a running, rather humorous debate with one of those students for the past few months, because she claims she shouldn't have to read it. Of course, she's my she's already read it.

What’s something you suggest debut authors should avoid?

Lori: Writers should avoid the fear of rejection. It's part of the game, every writer deals with it, and the way I see, it, Hey, at least they're getting back to you!

Danika: Getting published is a very humbling experience if you are an unknown author. After all your friends and family buy copies of your book, you have to convince complete strangers to purchase it! Try not to be hard on yourself. It’s a tough haul. There is really no such thing as an overnight success. Keep on putting yourself out there and stay positive. I always say, I’m selling one book at a time!

Donna: Don’t get wrapped up in comparing yourself to other writers. Just write and your true authenticate voice will spill from the pages.

Jo: I'd recommend people avoid any path to publication that seems too quick and easy. As I've often heard quoted, money should flow *to* the author; in other words, you should never have to pay to be published. If your stuff is good enough, a publisher will pay you. If
you're getting rejections, then taking time to improve your craft and getting help from other authors is better than spending money just to be able to hold a book in your hands.

Beth: When you get an acceptance from a reputable small publisher, celebrate it! No matter what anyone else insinuates, don’t think your books are not as good because they don’t come from a “big” publisher. Small presses get lots of submissions and your book has to be good in order to make it out of their slush pile, too.  

Their Swag
Includes books Brigitta of the White Forest and The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, a tote bag for The Golden Pathway, and magnets with cover art from Connection and its sequel Filtration System. 

To win: 
* Follow the Write Game if you haven't already for 1 point.
* Tweet @1 point each Tweet. Be sure to tell us in your comment(s) when you Tweet so we can give you your point(s)
* Mention us on Facebook and tell us you did (1 point).
* Leave a pithy comment or two for 1 point each comment--there are 5 authors, so you can comment on each one if you like. They'd love to hear from you. Me too! Get the most points and WIN!

Debuting in 2011? There are already several authors slated to begin Indie Debut 2011! E-mail lori.calabrese AT yahoo DOT com to find out more information.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

It's Summer. Let's Read with Debut Author Kurtis Scaletta

And the winner is . . .  Daisy Hickman. Contact Kurtis and collect your prize. Congratulations.

I fell in love with MUDVILLE. It was quirky, warmhearted, and filled with brilliant moments between a father and his son. I was really pleased when KURTIS SCALETTA said he'd visit my blog and tell us more about himself and his next book. Welcome Kurtis and be sure to check out his contest below.


Mudville is about a small town where it's been raining for 22 years, suspending a game between two rival towns indefinitely. The hero is Roy, a good kid who loves baseball but hasn't been able to play at home his whole life. One day he comes home from camp and there's a new kid there -- a foster kid named Sturgis. It stops raining a few days later and they decide to get a team together and stage a rematch. Sturgis is an amazing pitcher but not much of a team player. Roy is a catcher and the team's captain; he has to work with Sturgis as well as a bunch of other kids who've never played the game. Did I mention that the rival town isn't even there any more? So you might say he has his work cut out for him.

Kurtis Scaletta is the author of two middle grade novels. One is about baseball, the other is about snakes. He has also written stories about bad poetry, onion soup, overdue library books, and Steve Miller cover bands: all the issues that young people grapple with.

Kurtis grew up in several states and a few foreign countries, including Liberia, the setting of his second novel. He now makes his home in Minneapolis with his wife and several cats. In addition to writing, he is an instructional technology consultant in higher education.


My advice to writers is the same stuff they've seen everywhere else -- join a critique group, work your way through a few drafts before you query, know the market well enough to place yourself in it, don't take rejection personally, find a happy balance between prevailing against adversity and not taking a hint, don't spam agents or editors with poorly written or poorly targeted queries, and don't take publishing as the be-all end-all of writing. Write every day if you can, but don't be afraid to take a few days off if you've been writing a lot and need a break. Spend some time at the library, just to remember the childlike joy of knowing that there are so many different kinds of books and any one of them might open a new world to you.


My favorite writers as a kid were Daniel Pinkwater and Betsy Byars. The representative books by each other for me are Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars by Pinkwater and The Midnight Fox by Byars. I was an avid reader before I discovered them, but those were the kinds of books that convinced me I wanted to do this myself, that it was my calling. Maybe that's surprising because neither ever wrote a baseball book, I don't think -- and I never read Matt Christopher or John Tunis. I write for middle-grade aged readers because that was my favorite time as a reader.


My second book is Mamba Point.  It's about a kid who moves to Monrovia, Liberia from the Midwest-- just like I did -- and from the moment he gets there he keeps coming across black mambas. They're very deadly snakes, and he can't seem to avoid them. He's an anxious kid anyway so this sets him back a bit. He realizes he might have a connection to the snake and kind of befriends one, even keeping it in his room. He starts to feel bolder, which he needs, but the boldness gets him into some trouble. So it's a boy and his snake story set in Africa, and it's also about a kid dealing with growing pains and culture shock at the same time.

My third book is currently untitled, even though it's in the second round of edits and will be out from Knopf next fall (knock on wood). It's about this little town in Maine that's being taken over by a giant glowing fungus. Giant glowing fungi are real -- they can live thousands of years and spread around for miles and burrow deep into the ground. They are really creepy and fascinating. Anyway, there's a kid named Eric who finds this thing sprawling out around the woods outside his home at the same time a lot of other stuff is going haywire in his life. He meets a teen runaway named Mandy who says the fungus is even worse than he imagines, that it's likely to destroy the town. So they set out to do something about it.

I'm reluctant to share any passages before they are finalized, but there are two in this book that I am really proud of. One is a harrowing scene involving a pig. The other is a football game on a field covered with mushrooms.





Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Summer. Let's Read with Debut Author Me


I'm not supposed to be here this week, but one of my debut people had to postpone and I didn't want to contact all the rest to reschedule, so since I'm still technically a debut novelist I thought I'd pop in and take this slot. Besides I had some business to take care of, so here's the business first and ABOUT DEBUT ME next.

First, Carla Mooney has announced the winner of a signed copy of Owen and His Dragon. Sooooo, Julie Musil contact Carla through her website and give her your mailing address. Congratulations!

The second order of business is about the Versatile Blogger Award that was passed onto me my lovely Lisa Gail Green and I'm starting to pass it on to others with this post. First, to SUNNYROOMSTUDIO and next to WELCOME TO RAMBLE STREET, then to SUSAN KAYE QUINN. TABITHA LM PRESTON, SHARI LARSEN, and BETH FRED, The other 8 will come after It's Summer. Let's Read ends. Here's the badge, so come and get it wonderful, versatile bloggers.


A native Californian I grew up in a lot of different places; then landed in some beautiful coastal mountains where I live with my family and miscellaneous pets—usually strays that find me rather than the other way around. I write a lot these days, garden in the spring and summer, hike and do yoga. I love to travel, but find being at home really wonderful. My favorite destinations are Turkey and Nicaragua, but because I have family in England, Switzerland, and Spain I love going there as well.

I used to be a lecturer and administrator at California State University, San Jose. My field of Linguistics and Inter-cultural Communication has carried me to a lot of places in the world to explore different cultures and languages. I hate to brag, but I can say, "Where's the toilet?" and "I'm lost!" in at least five languages and two dialects.

In my books I take on issues that today's teens face in their daily lives. In SLIDING ON THE EDGE I tackled  cutting and suicide. In my next book, THE PRINCESS OF LAS PULGAS, that's due out in fall of this year I write about people who lose everything and must rebuild their lives. I just finished a first draft of a third YA novel that deals with  juvenile neglect and Alzheimers.

I'm told my stories are "gritty," but not dark. I hope not. My main theme in all of my writing is that there is hope and there is a possibility for all of us to surmount the most difficult challenges. According to astrophysicists we are made of stardust, so it's my premise that we can shine even in the darkest space.


The advice to writers who want to publish is always the same: write what you love or feel strongly about, don't give up, get a good critique group, pay attention to the rules of submission.

Here's more that I feel are important: develop a sense for when you should move on to another project,  learn when to write "The End" so the story doesn't drag on after it should, play fair and be kind.

SO ARE YOU UP FOR WINNING A SIGNED OR UNSIGNED COPY OF SLIDING ON THE EDGE? I have one right here on my desk that needs a home. Write me something about surmounting a difficult challenge, what it was, how you did it, what you learned by doing it.

I look forward to reading your comments and hope you'll join me on Twitter @cleemckenzie and Facebook.