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

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