Navigation Control Center

You are now entering the world of my thoughts.

This blog is my diary of works in progress. The only way a writer can improve upon her skill is to practice, practice and practice some more. Here, in this place of quiet peace, I pen to paper my thoughts and creativity. Welcome to my world.

Copyright © 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 SN Taylor, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Superstar Blogger Award!!

I would like to give this award to the following bloggers that I have come to enjoy following. 2011 has been an amazing year for me. I have met so many fellow writers that have really inspired me and pushed my work forward. Thank you all and I hope you accept this award. The only rule, should you choose to accept this award, it pay it forward. Find at least five blogs that you have found over the past year and show them some love! :)

and the winners of this award goes to........ drum roll please ...........

1. Susanna L Hill
2. The Write Soil
3. Something to Write About
4. Juliana Brandt
5. Muslim Spirit by Fida

Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop Winner!!!!!!

I would like to announce the winner of the Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop Giveaway!!! 

And the $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card goes to.......

Drum Roll Please.........

Katie W

Congratulations Katie!!!!!! :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (7) short story

Hi everyone, another Teaser Tuesday here. Today I decided to post one of my short Nano stories I drafted during the month. It is part of a collection of stories about a ship and its inhabitants on a journey through space on their way to a new home.

10) The Runaway

He sat in the tightest and darkest corner of the belly drinking synthesized tea from an old woman’s shop. The belly was the term the lottery population gave to the central pavilion designated for their eating area, market place, entertaining, and other activities. Surrounding the ‘belly’ the population were allowed to have essential shops like tailors, tea makers, tutors, and etc. The center of the pavilion was considerably lower than the leveled terraces that held tables and benches. The center had a stage where poets, speakers, singers, storytellers and other entertainers stood and gave performances or speeches. 

A woman and child walked pass him. Her face was pale, and covered with a dark blue bruise. The child she carried was pale and lifeless and red scar going down his face. He gasped in horror. The woman stopped and stared at him. “Is something wrong?” she asked him. He looked at her again to find it was only an illusion. Her tan skin and frightened olive eyes stared at him. She held her fidgeting baby who did not like the look of him. “Sorry,” he said dropping his head. A man walked onto the stage and began reciting poetry. “The man without a past, is a man with an unknown future,” the poet said in a far-east country dialect. The man sat with his eyes down and ears alert. He was a man without a past. At least, it was a past he desperately wanted no one to know about. 

He boarded the Najad under the name of Ali Makhtoom. He was careful to avoid the identification scanners. Passing through one would have given him away immediately to the guards posted to check each passenger. Ali Makhtoom had been a loner ever since he stepped out of his ASE pod. The only contact he made was with the teashop owner, an older woman and her grandson. She was kind and did not ask him questions, unlike the others who seemed to be forming friendships and allies. He knew some of these people; in fact, he knew most of them. Some directly and others only in passing. Ali Makhtoom could not afford to expose himself, especially to these unfortunate souls.  Neither could he expose himself to the elite class in the upper levels of the Najad. His life depended on his careful preservation of his past. He took a final sip from his tea just as the man left the stage to a soft applause. 

Ali Makhtoom walked up the steps of the ‘belly’ his eyes lowered avoiding eye contact with anyone. He walked with a stealth and quick determination. I need to get to my pod. I will be safe in my pod. A stranger walked by brushing his shoulder and knocking his hood from his head exposing it. Ali Makhtoom snatched it back up and over his head, shielding his eyes. Ali Makhtoom had very unique eyes. One hazel and one gray. He tried everything to change them but nothing worked. Not even contact lenses worked to even the color. They were deep in color, rich and vibrant. And large. The stranger looked at Ali Makhtoom. “I am so sorry,” he said touching Ali’s shoulder. Ali jerked away. “Never mind,” he said in a soft hoarse voice. The stranger raised his eyebrow. Something was very familiar about him but he continued on his way looking over his shoulder at Ali Makhtoom. Ali exhaled deeply and continued on to his automated sleeping environment pod. His five-minute journey felt like hours passing by neighbors and strangers alike, each time pulling his hood over his head more. 

He made it to his pod. Ali usually convulsed whenever he saw series of numbers and letters. But 268AMK6d never looked so better. The ASE pod quarter was empty. His quarter had six pods. He shared the sleeping quarter with five other men, all single and traveling alone to the new world. Some raised as orphans, others who lost their entire families in the wars, droughts and famines in the poorest cities and villages Earth Alliance nations. Ali Makhtoom took another breath. His quarter neighbors were very nosy. They asked more question than an elderly woman with nothing to do. They all wanted to know about his eyes, why they were so different but yet seemed so familiar, why he was traveling alone, what happened to his family, was he Alliance or Opposition. All these questions he could not answer. Once he did and immediately regretted it. Ali could never lie with out giving himself away. Something always slipped and his lie would fall apart. He vowed to keep quiet to protect his secret. Ali jumped into his pod, laid down and watched the glass dome close over him. He heard the hiss of the pod environment turn on and soon his worries stopped. But his rest was only momentary. 

A loud scream penetrated his sleep and caused his heart monitor to jump. It was so erratic; the pod automatically sent a message to the ship’s doctor on call that evening, Dr. Shuaib. Ali’s body jerked in the pod. It was their faces again, those horrifying images of his past. Images that haunted his dreams and caused him to hallucinate when he was awake. He heard a hiss again and was soon rescued from his nightmare. Ali Makhtoom opened his eyes. Dr. Shuaib stared down at him. “As Salaamu Alaikum,” he said, helping him sit up in the pod. “How long has this been happening?” he asked Ali. Ali shrugged his shoulder. “Not for a while,” he lied. No sooner had he spoke, Dr. Shuaib checked the computer screen then raised his eyebrows then looked back at Ali. “That is not what your sleep history says,” he said sternly. “Why have you not come to see a doctor sooner,” he asked taking out a stethoscope and light tool to check his eyes. His heart rate was back to normal but Dr. Shuaib stood in front of him a very long time staring him in the eyes. 

He once knew a research doctor who had unique eyes just like Ali Makhtoom. This doctor worked in the field of Germ and Biological Warfare in the Alliance. The doctor helped other scientists create diseases that would attack their enemies and take down cities and armies in a manner of days. The Earth Alliance turned a blind eye when the doctor and other scientists used enemy combatants from other nations and the opposition rebels within the Earth Alliance nations. Sometimes, they even used poor unfortunate souls of the impoverished city slums as their subjects while testing their different military grade agents. Dr. Shuaib shook his head. This could not be the same person. That doctor was a woman. Dr. Muna Rashid went missing. Some say the doctor had killed so many innocent poor women, elderly and children, Dr. Muna went crazy, turned on the other scientists and the Alliance guards protecting the lab. Then the doctor disappeared. “Come with me to the medical lab,” Dr. Shuaib, “I will need to do some blood work on you and perhaps keep you over….,” “No. I am fine,” Ali Makhtoom said jumping down from his sleeping pod. “I am okay, really. It was just a bad dream.” It took a minute for the doctor to regain his composure but finally found his voice. “I really should see you in my lab. This could be very serious.” Ali looked down, “Please doctor, let me be. I am fine. Truly I am.” 

The doctor knew all about secrets. This man was hiding something, something he wanted to leave back on their dying world. He was looking for a new start a new future. Dr. Shuaib knew a lot about new starts and how it saved his future. He nodded his head; picked up his things and left. Ali Makhtoom shuddered. Close, much too close. A blood test would have ruined him! Ali could not sleep, he feared his nightmares would return with the hiss of the ASE pod. So, he went back to the ‘belly’. Most of the shops were closed but the teashop was still open. The belly was ghostly empty tonight. He went to get a cup of tea from the kind old lady. She was not there; her grandson was there clearing away for the night. But Ali was a loyal customer so he made a cup of tea for him to sip on quietly in the empty ‘belly’. 

Ali sat for a while then the old woman came and sat by him with a cup of tea. She smiled sympathetically at him. Wide eyed he stared at her. Even a woman of her age would never come sit with a strange man. His heart began to pound as she looked at him with a knowing gaze. She slowly pulled up her sleeve and showed him an old bruised scar. Just above the scar was something burned into her skin. Letters and numbers. She smiled but her eyes hid a sadness that he could never wash away. “It is okay, Dr. Muna,” she said covering her arms again. “Because of you, my grandson and I along with many other children escaped that awful research lab. I will forever keep your secret.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mid-Winters Eve Blog Hop

Thank you I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Oasis For YA for hosting this blog hop!!! Up for grabs is a $10 dollar Barnes and Noble gift card. Fill out the form below then check out the over two hundred + blogs who are participating in this hop.

Happy Hopping!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: What are Words- Chris Medina

As some of you may know, I LOVE Ahmir and the variety of covers they do of different songs. I happened to hear a song they did of Chris Medina's "What are Words." AWESOME! They told a little bit about his story but not much so I googled it. Oh. My. Goodness! What a touching story it was. Chris Medina's fiance was injured in a car accident but he stood by her side and sang this really nice song. I started to post their video but when I found this one of Chris Medina singing it, I teared up. :) I think you all will enjoy it! :)

If you would like to listen to Ahmir's cover and tribute, go here.

Donate to the Juliana Recovery Fund here:

Purchase Chris Medina's "What Are Words" on iTunes to help support Juliana too! Produced and written by Rodney Jerkins: 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Muse: Winner of the Spruce Knoll for Endangered Species Giveaway!!

Last week, Heather McCorkle took her special edition of The Secret of Spruce Knoll, a Channeler novel on tour. Along with an added chapter and deleted scenes, what makes the book so special is that proceeds from the sales of the book will go to a charity that protects and preserves endangered species. If you visited my blog while she was here, you would have seen that I chose the polar bear (which we are learning about this week in my toddler classroom :D Tune in later this week for some toddler polar bear art :D) You would also know that I hosted a book giveaway in honor of this fabulous and talented author and her wonderful book. Well, today I announce the winner of the book giveaway!!!!!!!!! [sorry it took so long :( ]

And the winner is ......................... 

Patricia J O'Brien

Congratulations Patricia!! Thank you for your participation and support. Polar Bears everywhere thank you too :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Perfect Picture Book Friday: In the Garden with Dr. Carver

Title: In the Garden with Dr. Carver 

Author: Susan Grigsby

Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; Sept 1, 2010

Suitable for: 7-9, Grades: 2-4

Theme/Topics: non-fiction, history, biography, botany, science.

Summary: Sally is a young girl living in rural Alabama in the early 1900s, a time when people were struggling to grow food in soil that had been depleted by years of cotton production. One day, Dr. George Washington Carver shows up to help the grownups with their farms and the children with their school garden. He teaches them how to restore the soil and respect the balance of nature. He even prepares a delicious lunch made of plants, including "chicken" made from peanuts. And Sally never forgets the lessons this wise man leaves in her heart and mind. Susan Grigsby's warm story shines new light on an African American scientist who was ahead of his time.

Links to resources:

Why I like this book: Engaging, entertaining and education. I love the watercolor illustrations and the abundant depiction of nature in the story. The illustrations also tell a story of their own that are great for discussions after story time. The story is great to teach children the importance of how we treat and care for nature. It promotes love for science and botany. “Listen to the plants, they will tell you what they need.”

Find more perfect picture books here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gift Card Giveaway Winner

I am pleased to announce the winner of the Gift Card Giveaway Winner



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (6)

Happy Tuesday!! I am here again with another teaser from the story, "The Protected Bloodlines." Enjoy!
The Mat’hool beasts shape-shifted into humanoid form, all except for Batu’s guardian, he dropped to the ground breathing heavily.
“What is wrong with him?” Batu asked jumping to his feet and rushing to his guardian’s side.
“He is badly injured,” Unis said, “to change into a humanoid form now would kill him. 
Batu fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around his guardian’s massive neck. He knew there was nothing in his medicine bag that could help his Mat’hool.
“Allah give you strength; I will not leave you here to die.”
Everyone was quiet for a moment, only the short, heavy breathing of Batu’s guarding echoed in the silent cold cavern. 
Siham stood up, “On the Taharan home world, I told you that I was not convinced of you and your people, but that is not the case now. You have all proven yourselves worthy by devoting your lives to your mission and to each other.” 
Siham walked over to the largest of the cave beasts, he passed his hand over its large bent head then called into the tunnel. Another cave beast came out. The Mat’hool stood up. Something about this beast was different. Nusa sensed it too. In fact, she could not sense this beast’s hakana at all. The feeling vaguely reminded her of another creature whom she could not sense. The cave beast walked over to Batu’s guarding. It sniffed Batu’s hand then touched his guardian. Immediately, it turned into a white luminescent fluid. It absorbed Batu’s guardian. The two beasts that joined the attack late also joined the fluidic ball growing in size. Aidil, Tajeej and Unis stepped up to the ball then turned into their liquid state and joined as well.
“They are Mat’hool?” Yuli asked.
Siham smiled, “Yes. They are. But these,” he said patting the beast beside him, ”are the cave beasts of Senora." 

Tuesday Tunes: I Believe Maher Zain and Irfan Makki

I love Maher Zain!! He came to Seattle and did a little concert for our local mosque. It was really nice. He sang all my favorite songs. While searching for one his newest songs he sang for us that night, I found this one and found another really nice artist, Irfan Makki. This song does have a more religious tone to it but I think the words and theme of the song are very uplifting. :) Should you decide to listen to it, I hope you enjoy it. It's really pretty.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Monday Muse: Cavalia!!!

Coming in January to Seattle! I so want to see this. With the tickets so expensive (for my current budget) I am actually saving up for a nice close seat :D I love horses. I had one growing up and I miss riding and caring for them.

Cavalia at a glanceCavalia is a mix of equestrian and performing arts, multimedia and special effects. It is often labeled an equestrian ballet, Cavalia is a spectacular and moving tribute to the relationship between men and horses throughout history, a dream of freedom, cooperation and harmony. In a fairy tale setting filled with poetry and emotion, the show innovatively integrates acrobatics, dance, aerial stunts, live music and equestrian arts. 

I am really looking forward to it. I'm curious, has anyone seen the show? What did you think about it? Was it as magical as it looked like in the commercials? :D 

Spruce Knoll for Endangered Species: A Book Tour

Today, I have the honor to have a really wonderful author visit and promote her book here on Of Thoughts and Words. Heather McCorkle. Words cannot describe just how wonderful a person and writer Heather is.  

A special edition of Heather McCorkle’s The Secret Of Spruce Knoll is releasing from Compass Press this month and she’s doing a special tour to go along with it. The special part, a percentage of the proceeds from every special edition sold (in every format) between its release date and 12-12-2012, will go toward Heather’s favorite charity that protects endangered species. Her goal is to make at least $10,000 for the charity.

Here is a fun interview with Heather for the release of her special edition.

Saba: Heather, in your story, do the channelers consider themselves an endangered species? 

Heather: Sadly, they do. Fewer and fewer children are born to channelers each year. Even though the ability is something everyone has within them, those who have nurtured the gift over the centuries are slowly dying out. 

Saba: Since they are connected to the Earth, what would happen if the channelers became extinct? 

Heather: You're throwing out the tough ones, love it. Channelers will die out completely when the earth itself dies, which in this alternate (future) reality, is getting closer and closer. 

Saba: What is Erin’s favorite endangered animal? 

Heather: You mean besides Aiden? ;) Eren loves sea turtles, which you'll get to see in book 3. 

Saba: How  about Fane, my fave character! J What endangered animal would he choose? 

Heather: Ah, Fane is my favorite too! Love him. His is the black jaguar. 

Saba: What can we do to help the channeler race and other earth species survive extinction? 

Heather: What a wonderful question. Of course you can always donate to your favorite charity that specializes in protecting endangered species. There are some fantastic ones out there. Even the tiniest amount can make a huge difference. Or you can buy a copy of the Compass Press edition of The Secret Of Spruce Knollbecause a portion of the proceeds from each sale between it's release and 12-12-12 will go toward my favorite charity that helps save endangered species. 

For the tour, Heather asked each blog host to pick their favorite endangered species and she will tell us a fun or interesting fact about that animal. It was hard choosing just one but I finally chose the Polar Bear.

Heather: Polar bears are the largest land predator at nearly 1500 pounds, though ironically, they do most of their hunting in the water at the edge of the sea ice. With the sea ice retreating more and more each year this adds a challenge  to their hunting that has landed them on the endangered list.  

Help Heather help my endangered friends. You can purchase the special edition of The Secret of Spruce Knoll a Channeler Novel from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  

Of course there are PRIZES during the tour which goes from December 1st through the 17th. Prizes include a symbolic endangered species adoption of the winner’s choice (a $50 donation by Heather to the charity for the endangered species of the winner’s choice, and cute stuffed animal for the winner!), signed copies of her novels and great swag. For full details, and to enter, go here


Friday, December 9, 2011

Perfect Picture Book - Sailing Off to Sleep

Author: Linda Ashman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster May 2010

Ages: 2-6 Grade: P-1

Theme: bedtime; arctic region and animals; imagination

Opening and Synopsis:

It's night time my little one.
Climb into bed.
I don't want to sleep --
I'll go sailing instead.
There's only one problem:
your ship has no sail.
I'm tying my boat
to the tail of a whale.
Bedtime for a little one brings an imaginary journey to the North Pole to cuddle and play with the many animals there.

Resources: I did not find any thing from the publisher or author websites but I did find some wonderful sites with a lot of information and activities that would make Sailing Off to Sleep the perfect nightcap at the end of the day.
First-School has lots of preschool activities like alphabets, animal science and facts, fables, crafts and coloring pages for various arctic animals. ( I actually like to use this site to find curriculum ideas.)
Perfectly Preschool has a nice and detailed lesson plan that include day to day arctic activities, suggested books, songs and crafts.
Kidsparkz has a really nice printable arctic animal flash card set
Why I like this: this is a very nice tale to curl up with your little one as they settle down for bed. The little girl in this story is not ready to call it quits at the end of the day and decides a journey to the arctic is much better than bedtime. In an innocent voice and encouraged by her mother she sets sail meeting creatures of every kind that live in the wonderful icy white wonderland of the arctic. The illustrations are beautiful and soft, not very busy and rousing. The rhymes are nice and short and move effortlessly from animal to animal. But my favorite part of the story is the end; when the mother says she can go on her journey, the little girl decides she is ready for bed and snuggles up with all the animals she visited in the arctic! :)

Please click here to see the complete list of books with resources Perfect Picture Books

Gift Card Giveaway Hop

Time for another blog hop giveaway!! Thanks to I am a reader, not a writer and attack of the book for hosting this hop! My rules are easy, all you have to do is be a follower of my blog and live in the US or Canada to win a $20 gift card of your choice :) Well, you also have to fill out the form below! :D

Now hop along to these other blogs to join their giveaways! :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Tuesday Tunes: When I Look At You - cover by Ahmir

I really like the way Ahmir sing this song. It was one of my Nano songs :D

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Muse: Getting Ready for 2012!

November was NOT my greatest month this year. :( I guess I put way too much on my plate that I could handle! But I must say, I did not do too bad either. I participated in two different challenges last month, NaNoWriMo and PiBoIdMo 

My idea for Nanowrimo was to make a collection of stories about the crew and passengers of a spaceship heading to a new world. So far, I have 17+ short stories giving me a word count of 30,000. While I would have liked to have at least thirty, I am still happy with the 17 or more that I have. It's 17+ I did not have at the beginning of November (or this year!) :D 

This year was the first time I participated in the Picture Book Idea Month. the idea was to come up with a picture book idea each day of the month. I managed at least twelve ideas, six of them I think are solid. So again, I feel like i didn't really fail because I completed something, even if only six stories come out of the 12 ideas. 

Which brings me to my next challenge! 12x12 in 2012 The challenge you ask? Twelve complete picture book drafts. Twelve months.  2012. Thanks to Julie Hedlund for coming up with the idea. It is just what I need to keep me focused on WRITING :D Julie has even set up a facebook page and haven for the 12x12 in 2012 participants for support and accountability! Again, just what I need :) 

I am really excited for the coming year. So writer friends, what is your 2012 pre-new year's writers resolution? :D

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Organization Spot Light: I Inspire Inc

I Inspire is a non-profit organization that uses the motivational power of the arts with interactive technologies and educational tools to bring comfort to the sick, promote volunteerism and inspire local communities to come together for positive change. 

One of their programs that I love is the Bedtime Stories Reading program. In this program, they go to hospitals and read to children who are sick. Read more about the program here and watch the video of their volunteers in action! :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New Author Blog Hop! Winners!!!!

This hop has been a blast! I have found some books that I am definitely interested in :D :D I want to thank everyone for participating in my first time hosting a hop. I want to congratulate all the new authors on the list!!!! *YAY* I also want to thank Michelle for co-hosting the hop!

Now, here are the winners of the hop! 

The winner of  either Heather McCorkle's The Secret of Spruce Knoll or Stephanie Worlton's Hope's Journey.

Claire Hennessy

The winner of the Author Interview on Of Thoughts and Words: 

Patricia Lynne and her book Being Human.

The winner of one free book from the New Author Blog Hop list: 

Komal Kant

Congrats to the winners!!!! :D

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gratitude Hop Giveaway Winner!

The winner of the Gratitude Giveaway is ......................... (in my opinion you are all winners. I have been introduced to so many wonderful charities that are helping children and families because of all of your support and participation in this giveaway. so that you all from the bottom of my heart :)

And the winner is.......


She chose the EASTER SEALS for her prize of $25 to be given to. :)

Congratulations Maureen and thank you so much!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Author Blog Hop! 11/23/11-11/30/11

Welcome to the New Author Blog Hop! 
For the next week, hop along to the following new authors and get to know more about them and their newly published books. Below is the link to the requirements I posted on the initial post. Also, I would like to thank Michelle over at (check out her blog!) for co-hosting the blog hop!

And wait, there is more!
I will be checking out all the blogs participating. At the end of the hop, two authors will win one of two prizes :)
A) an interview and book giveaway hosted by Of Thoughts and Words :)
B) their choice of one book from the list of participant authors! Yes, after hopping through all the blogs, if you find a new author/book you really like, it will be yours!

I have not read many *NEW* authors this year. However the one that stands out the most for me because I absolutely loved it was The Secret of Spruce Knoll by Heather McCorkle. One word everyone, Uh-Mazing!!!! :D
Book Blurb: It’s hard enough being a teenager under normal circumstances; imagine being orphaned, sent to live with an unfamiliar aunt—and learning that there really is magic in the world. Following the tragic death of her parents, Eren Donovan moves to Spruce Knoll to live with her aunt. Little does Eren know the entire town of Spruce Knoll is filled with “channelers”—a magical group of people who immigrated to the small Colorado town when they were driven out of their own lands.

Channelers are tied to the fate of the world. As the world slowly dies, so do they~and they alone have the power to stop the destruction of Earth. Now, Eren learns she not only lives among them, but she is one. When she meets local boy Aiden, who shows her being a channeler isn’t all bad; in fact, it’s kind of cool.

As Eren and Aiden’s relationship blooms, so too does a mystery in Spruce Knoll. The town holds many secrets—and many enemies. It soon becomes apparent that the untimely death of Eren’s parents was no accident and that her life might be in danger, too. Only time will tell if young, inexperienced Eren has the power to protect the people she has come to love.

Another author I would like to give a shout out to is Stephanie Worlton and her book Hope's Journey.
Cover blurb:
A couple since their sophomore year, Sydney and Alex are looking forward to graduation and a bright future together. Sydney is straight-A student trying to decide between college scholarships and Alex is a quiet jock preparing to serve a mission. Both active members of the LDS Church, their hopes and dreams painfully fade when they learn that Sydney is pregnant. The very foundations of their faith are shaken, as is their relationship. Separately, they venture through confusion, self-doubt, and failure as they learn the value of forgiveness and try to piece their broken lives back together.

get the InLinkz code

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Giveaway Winner: Master of the Jinn by Irving Karchmar

Congratulations to 

Patricia Tilton!!!! 

You have won a copy of Irving Karchmar's novel: Master of the Jinn

Monday's Muse: Book Buzz!!

Last week I had the honor of reviewing a really wonderful book that is soon to be release. Ellen's Broom  by Kelly Starling Lyons. This book was right on time. We have so much to be grateful for as a nation. We have come a very long way. Some of you may remember I interviewed Kelly and her book, "One Million Men and Me." Well, her newest book will be released on January 5th 2011 but you can pre-order it on Amazon here. her newest picture book set in the reconstruction era. Before I post my review let me just tell you, I LOVE it!! I can't wait to have Kelly stop by during her book tour of Ellen's Broom which will be on the 12th of January!!!! My review is below the summary :)

Summary of Ellen's Broom
Ellen always knew the broom resting above the hearth was special. But after it's announced in church that the marriages of former slaves will be registered and made legal, she hears more about why it matters so much. For her mama and papa, who could be sold away at a master's whim and whose union had no legal protection, jumping the broom was a way to show their commitment to being husband and wife. Now, as the whole family travels to the courthouse dressed in their best, Ellen carries the broom with them. With love, ingenuity and pride, she finds a way to celebrate her parents' right to be legally married and remember their past.

History and Traditions: Ellen’s Broom by Kelly Staring Lyons

Traditions are a wonderful way to remember history and how far we have come as a community and a nation. In Ellen’s Broom, one such tradition is portrayed. In the old days when many African Americans were slaves and at the mercy of their white slave masters, the sanctity of marriage was not protected or even viewed as legal. Slave husbands and wives could be torn apart and their families separated. One tradition some were allowed to have during a wedding ceremony was “jumping the broom.” That was a way an enslaved couple could prove their commitment to one another. Of course that was no proof in the eyes off the law.

When slavery ended, many married couples went to the courts and finally got marriage certificates to prove they were married. But there is something very sweet and endearing about the tradition of jumping the broom. The slaves did not let the law stop them for doing what they saw was their God given right, to marry. While there is no need for the tradition as a means of proving the validity of our marriages, the history behind the tradition shows a people’s strength against very hard odds. As an African-American, I’d love to see such traditions carry on. Ellen’s Broom beautifully illustrates how this tradition began and how important such traditions are to respect and protect.

Ellen’s Broom is told through the voice of Ellen, a young girl, as she witnesses her parents become legally husband and wife. She has always heard the story about the broom above her fireplace but when she realizes the importance as she watches married ex-slave couples get marriage certificates, including her mother and father, she decides it is only right that her parents jump the broom again to celebrate. But her father thinks the tradition is from the past and that it should stay there now that they are free. But Ellen reminds him how important the broom is and vows she will “jump the broom” when she grows up and gets married too. 

I’m with Ellen; some traditions are worth keeping! J

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Gratitude Blog Hop and Giveaway!

I would like to thank Iamareadernotawriter and all-consuming books for hosting this giveaway. I have so much to be grateful for and sometimes, I don't think I always show it. But I praise God for all His wonderful blessings on me and my family. I praise Him for all the wonderful friends He has sent my way through good times and difficult times. I thank Him for my health, my wealth and my life.

For this giveaway, I will donate 25 dollars to the winner's favorite charity. I only ask that the charity deals with either children and families of abuse/addiction, homelessness, poverty or children's education.

I will also send a children's book to a child in need on the winner's behalf. Winner may choose where the book should be sent to, ie to a shelter, library or to them so they can give it to a child in need.

Please leave a comment below with name and contact info so that I may contact you if you are the winner :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Warm Fuzzies: Weeks Four: Why I Write!

Warm fuzzies blogfest

This is the last week of the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest. I know, I’m sad too. It has been a lot of fun celebrating writing and writers and our passion for the craft. J The past weeks we talked about how tough it can be being a writer. But this week we will talk about why it’s worth it.  So why do we write? Why do we put up with the difficulties, the anguish, the fear and the rejections?

Well, I for one write because I love it. Writing makes me happy. I love penning my thoughts and ideas on paper. I love creating worlds and characters that are nothing like me (and some that are. J)  I also like sharing my stories with others. I know I still have a long way to go before I’m publishing ready, but I still get warm fuzzies when I read my stories and when others read them and like them too!

So tell me, why do YOU write? What makes it worthwhile? 

Here’s a short piece from a story called, “The Cave of Crystals.”

Muna adjusted her breathing mask. It was getting harder and harder to breathe as the exploration party climbed deeper into the cave. At first, the climb was a rather gentle slope, then, after about six miles, they came to a steep climb.
“Hurry up, Muna” her brother shouted down at her. “I don’t want you getting lost or left behind.”
Muna took a few more breaths, deep and slow and then continued the climb. She grabbed on to the rope and began hammering spikes into the rock. Each pound echoed in the dark cave.
“Muna!” he shouted.
“I heard you, I’m fine. I just needed to take a breather.”
She looked up. Her brother’s helmet light was beginning to get dimmer and dimmer. She had to keep up. She had to push on. Muna needed to prove she was capable of taking care of herself. Though she was an excellent scientist and geologist, her father had forbidden her to go on the search for the legendary cave of crystals, and since it was his money funding the project, she had to abide by his request. With the help of her mother and brother, Rashid, however, she was able to convince her father that her being present would best serve the success of the project. Muna stopped thinking about her father and continued to climb, one step after the next.
“Clink, clink,” the metal to rock echoed around her. It was getting hotter in the cave. She wiped a trickle of sweat from her brow and loosened her scarf a bit. She checked her thermometer. It was reaching 53 degrees Celsius, humidity 100%. She had six more hours of air coolant and her suit still had over 75 % of its ice cubes sealed in the lining of her suit to help keep her cool. She needed to reach the site in less than 2 hours, if she was going to get accurate testing results and samples of the legendary Butah Crystals.
Just as Muna lifted her spike to hammer in another nail, she felt a slight tremor. The rope swayed a bit and a few small rocks loosened sending specks of dirt falling onto her head and arms. Moments after the tremor, she heard a low rumble. A moment later, another tremor rocked the cave. This time, one of the spikes came a loose sending Muna swinging along the face of the stone rocky cavern. She banged against the rock face a couple of times until she caught hold of a protruding rock. She clung to the rock, breathing heavily, gasping for air.
“Muna!” she heard her brother call. “Muna.”
She could not see anything and she was beginning to loose air in her suit. She could hear a low hissing sound as the air seeped out of as a result of crashing into the ragged rocks. She felt a tug on her rope. She was moving, upward.
“Hurry, Rashid,” she barely whispered.
Her eyes slowly closed as the air in her suit hissed. The last thing she saw was a dim light approaching her.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday (5)

Here's another little teaser from "The Protected Bloodlines."

Batu and Yuli sat in the food court watching a few Mat’hool interacting. They spoke in low, garbled voiced, barely intelligible. Batu sat back in his chair and watched them, he then turned and looked at Yuli. He had always grown up quite sheltered, he never traveled with the Shanti war parties or interacted with other races. The furthest he ever went was sailing to the other side of the great sea in search for wild wilder beast to breed into his herd and even still, he ran into other Shanti from other clans and tribes. But Yuli had grown up on a trading post, where he met a diverse amount of people and cultures from the far reaches of his galaxy and beyond. He even learned to pick up words from the different languages that his many customers spoke. The boys sat and tried to listen to the Mat’hool.

“Anything?” he asked Yuli.
Yuli shook his head, “Nothing. I got nothing. I don’t think I have ever met a changeling before until I got to Sumatra.”
“I wonder….” he said cocking his head, “nah, probably not.”
“What?” Yuli asked.
“Well, I wonder if they have children and what a young Mat’hool looks like.”
“I do not know, maybe just a smaller blob of goo?” Yuli guessed.
“I wonder if they would think I am being rude if I asked.”
“I think so,” a voice said nearby. The boys jumped. Startled, they looked around and behind them.
“No, over here,” another voice said.

This time, Batu’s chair turned into a thick fluid. Batu yelled as he started to sink into the chair. He struggled to get out be was stuck. Yuli jumped up and tried to pull him out but the table they sat at swallowed him whole.

Member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators