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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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (10)

Here is another Teaser Tuesday from my WIP "The Protected Bloodlines" Enjoy!!! :)
The boys laughed as they applauded Yuli’s reenactment of Batu saving his stampeding herd. Yuli bowed then laughed.
“But what is truly amazing is that he actually forgot his shantel. I did not know you ever took it off,” Yuli said.
“Well, that’s just it,” Batu said shaking his head, “I don’t remember taking it off. Lately though, I have had this feeling of…” he paused as two changeling guards walked by.
“What’s wrong,” Yuli asked becoming more serious.
“I just feel that I’m being watched,” Batu answered.
Baseet and Unis smiled.
“But you are being watched,” Baseet said. He passed his hand over Batu’s shantel. It responded to the young Mat’hool’s touch. “It is the job of your guardian to always watch over you.”
“I know, Batu said, “but this feeling is different, I can’t explain it. Neither can I explain why I wasn’t wearing it when I left.” 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday: One of Us by Peggy Moss

Title: One of Us

Author: Peggy Moss

Publisher: Tilbury House

Theme/Topic:  Identity, Being Yourself, Cliques

Grade: 2-6


"You are one of us," Carmen tells Roberta on her first day at a new school. 

Roberta gladly sits with the rest of the straight-up-hair girls-until she hears they don't play on the monkey bars. Roberta loves the monkey bars and leaps at the chance to swing with the monkey-bar posse, until she hears they don't carry flowered lunch boxes like she does. Roberta moves from group to group, just trying to be herself, until it seems she doesn't fit in anywhere. Then Roberta discovers some kids just like her-everyone's different and they like it that way! 

In a society plagued by the need to fit in at all costs, One of Us features a plucky youngster with the courage to be who she is and the charisma to help others assert their individuality.   

These activities can be found at the publisher website:
Activity: What Cliques Do You Know?
Activity: Who Are You/What Are You?
Activity: Ideal Community

Why I Like This Book:
I really liked this book because I was once just like Roberta, new kid at a new school. Fitting in was very important to me because I was different. I was the only Muslim kid in my small town school. This book is full of humor but effectively touches on the subject of peer pressure and just what can be lost when we try to fit in and shut others out. This book is PERFECT for use at home and in the classroom. Children can easily identify with Roberta. I also love that the illustrations captures a diverse range of children, children of different ethnicities, and physical abilities. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Author Interview and Book Giveaway: Dark Life by Kat Falls

Happy Thursday everyone!! Welcome to another author interview. Today I would like to introduce Kat Falls, author of Dark Life and Rip Tide. I read this book recently and just fell in love with it. It is a middle grade novel that is highly entertaining :) I am excited that Ms Falls is here today to tell us more about her book, Dark Life.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Evanston, Illinois with my husband and three kids. We have a dog, two cats, a guinea pig and a snake. (I love animals and have a hard time saying no every time one of my kids wants another pet.) I grew up in Maryland, lived in New York State for a while – the Albany area for college and then NYC after I graduated. I moved to Evanston to go to grad school at Northwestern and fell in love with Chicago so I decided to stay here. I love to grow vegetables in my garden and love books & movies. My favorite TV shows are Supernatural, True Blood, Mad Men, and Project Runway.

How long did it take you to write Dark Life?

About 18 months, including all the revisions. Once it sold to Scholastic, however, I worked on it another six months with my editor.

Who is you favorite character in Dark Life? Personally, I love Zoe. She is such an electrifying little character ;) not to mention a little spunky! She reminds me of my little sister :D

I truly do love them all, but the dangerous characters are the most fun for me to write – namely Shade, Pretty and Zoe. Oh, and I loved writing Hewitt. Getting into his perspective always made me laugh.

What was the research stage of your novel like? What was the most interesting/odd thing you found out during your research?

I had to cut myself off on a regular basis. I’d get on the Internet to find the answer to one small question and two hours would zip by without my noticing. There’s just so much to learn about the ocean! I read up on everything from marine life and subsea geography to future technology. Every creature mentioned in Dark Life and Rip Tide is real and can be found in the ocean today.

When I was working on Rip Tide, I was appalled to learn about the giant trash gyre in the Pacific, which is as big as Texas. That sent shudders down my spine and I knew I had to find a way to work it into the story. Also, learning how many offshore oilrigs there are along America’s coasts was an eye-opener. I had fun thinking up what we could do with those oil platforms if we stopped drilling for oil.

How did you come up with the title, "Dark Life"?

I came across that phrase when I was doing research on deep-sea creatures. It’s what scientists call bacteria that can live without sunlight. I figured it would work as a derogative term for Topsiders to call the subsea settlers. It wasn’t until I finished the manuscript that I realized it would make a good book title. The title for Rip Tide also got pulled from the manuscript after I was finished writing.

You mentioned you wrote with your children in mind, have they read Dark Life? And, what do they think about it?

All 3 of my kids have read both books. My oldest son, Declan, read them as first drafts and made notes in the margins, which was very helpful. I just read your question aloud to my other two, Vivienne and Connor, and their response was that they like Rip Tide better… so there you go.

Are you currently working on a project?

I’m working on a new book right now. It’s called The Fetch and is the first book in a YA scifi-adventure trilogy, which will come out January 2013.

How do you market your book(s)?

My publisher does a lot of the marketing. I also have my website,, Facebook and Twitter. In addition, I go to schools and libraries to do readings and to answer questions about my books.

What books have influenced you most?

When I was young I loved books by Ira Levin (Boys from Brazil, Rosemary’s Baby) and Jack Finney (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Time and Again) and admired their lean writing styles, which serviced the story, not the other way around. I tried to keep my writing as simple and clear for the same reason, to keep the story front and center.

What new author has grasped your interest?

I’ve read a lot of good books this year, but I have to say my absolute favorite was “Under the Never Sky” by debut author Veronica Rossi.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Writing Prompt: Dark Prison

Write a 200 word description of a place. You can use any and all sensory descriptions but sight: you can describe what it feels like, sounds like, smells like and even tastes like. Try to write the description in such a way that people will not miss the visual details.

Here is what I got: 

My head hurts. I can't see. I realize my eyes are closed. I open them; but I'm still shrouded in darkness. Fear sweeps across me. I try to sit up but fall back, my head dizzy and throbbing. I take a deep breath then cough. The air's thick, moist, and warm. It smells of grass and earth. I turn over. My face rests on a soft, fuzzy surface. The scent's even stronger. I can almost taste it. I grope with my hands. Just as I thought, damp, compacted dirt and patches of moss? God, I hope it's moss - not mold! I push up onto my hands and knees and groan. My voice comes back to my ears quick and solid. I feel around and soon find a wall. It's soft and spongy like a cork. I walk the circumference of the room, twenty paces. No door. My heart pounds in my chest. I close my eyes pressing my back against the wall, breathing, calming a panic attack. My ears pick up a sound. The wind howls just outside. A faint breeze touches my cheeks - brief relief from the dank air. Where there's a breeze, there's a way out!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Giveaway Winners!!!!!

This post will celebrate a couple of giveaways that I have held recently and have just now been able to address.
and the winners are........................

1. Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop: $10 Amazon Gift Card

Brittney House

2. Author Interview & Book Giveaway: Being Human by Patricia Lynne

Lisa Walker

3. A New Kind of Cookbook: Serving Up Faith with recipes by yours truly included:)

Karen Strong

Congratulations to all the winners. Please look for an email from me :)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Picture Book Friday: My Name Is Sangoel

Title: My Name is Sangoel

Author: Karen Lynn Williams, Khadra Mohammed

Age: 7 – 9 years

Publisher: Eerdmans: June 1, 2009

Theme/Topics: self-identity and belonging, refugee, new home/country, making new friends, loss/loneliness.

Don’t worry, the wise one said as Sangoel prepared to the leave the refugee camp. “You carry a Dinka name. It is the name of your father and of your ancestors before him.
     The wise man hugged him and Sangoel could feel his bones in his thin arms. “Remember, you will always be a Dinka. You will be Sangoel. Even in America.”

     Sangoel is a refugee. Leaving behind his homeland of Sudan, where his father died in the war, he has little to call his own other than his name, a Dinka name handed down proudly from his father and grandfather before him.

     When Sangoel and his mother and sister arrive in the United States, everything seems very strange and unlike home. In this busy, noisy place, with its escalators and television sets and traffic and snow, Sangoel quietly endures the fact that no one is able to pronounce his name. Lonely and homesick, he finally comes up with an ingenious solution to this problem, and in the process he at last begins to feel at home.

Why I like this book: I love books where the main character, the child, can identify their problem and then solve their problem. Most times I think adults do not give children the credit they deserve and opportunity to shine. In this story, Sangoel does just that. He shines. A Dinka refugee from Sudan, Sangoel has nothing but his mother, sister and his name. A name he is proud of. But it is also a name no one can pronounce correctly. Most immigrants I know change their names to something easy, more American. But not Sangoel. He finds a fun and creative way to keep his Dinka name and pride while teaching others how to say his name correctly. In fact, I was not pronouncing his name right as I read the book until I got to the end and say OOOOOHHHHH! That’s how you say it!!! J

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Author Interview and Book Giveaway: Patricia Lynne: Being Human

Hi everyone. Welcome to Thursday Author Interviews. I have moved the interviews to Thursday so that they don't clash or get overshadowed by Perfect Picture Book Fridays. Today I would like to introduce you all to Patricia Lynne. Some of you may remember, she was one of the winners of the New Author Blog Hop held last year. So without further ado.... Here is Patricia Lynne, and her debut novel, Being Human.

For Tommy, there is only one thing he needs to do: survive.

Only surviving isn't that easy. The hunt for blood can be tricky when humans know to fear the night. Desire sits on the edge of his mind, urging him to become the monster humans think he is. Vampire Forces, a special branch of police, is determined to turn every vampire to ash. Tommy included.

The only human Tommy can trust is his twin brother. A bond connects them, and with Danny's help, Tommy starts to understand the human world he struggles to survive in. He'll learn what friendships means and feel the sting of betrayal, find that sometimes the worst monsters are very human, and come to understand that family means more than blood. 

Thank you for joining us today! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your book, "Being Human"?

I can tell you I never thought I'd be an author. When I was in school, I was all about art. English wasn't even my favorite subject. When I was in college, my English prof. assigned us to write a story and I got a D! Managed to bring it up to a B, but yeah, I thought writing wasn't for me. So when I started writing down some of the ideas in my head, it was just for fun. Until I got to Being Human. That one just struck me as one I wanted to share with the world. I started googling and researching writing. Needless to say, I don't think I'd get any more Ds in a college writing course.

Being Human is a story about a young vampire named Tommy who is trying to figure out how to survive in a human world he no longer remembers.

What inspired you to write this story?

Another book inspiring Being Human. I was reading Thirsty by M.T. Anderson and the ending isn't very happily ever after. It kept me thinking what would happen next. Then Tommy pretty much popped in my head and told me he knew what happened next. The kind of vampires got changed up, and neither story really connects anymore, but that was the initial spark that gave birth to Being Human.

Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

I have to think about that because I love all the characters one way or another. I'd probably say Mackenzie. She was so fun to write when she was a toddler, and when she got older, she was so perky and innocent. I loved some of her lines. Crack me up everytime.

What was your road to publication like?

At first I was going to query agents and traditional publishers. But as I looked into it more and more, I realized going that route didn't look very appealing to me. I would be query a vampire book and those were on the way out. There was little chance I'd get picked up. Plus, I really enjoyed the idea of being in complete control and self publishing gave that.

Is there anything you know know about the publishing industry that wish you had known before starting your journey?

That promotion and marking is the root of all that is evil. LOL Kidding, but it is the toughest part. I knew it would be difficult, but it's way more tricky than I thought. It's caused me to hate my book a few times.

Who do you think influence your writing the most?

Heather Brewer, author of The Vladimir Tod series is a big inspiration to me. Not sure if she influences my writing, but I totally look up to her as one of the reasons I decided to publish my story.

Are you currently working on a project now?

Yes, I am working on the sequel to Being Human. It's called Being Vampire and it follows a boy named Drew, who is a vampire, but doesn't know it. It's not a direct sequel, as in you have to read Being Human, but they are connected and Tommy will appear in it. I also have a short werewolf story that I'm working on editing called Fixing Ben that I think will be my next published story.

When did you feel like you were an author?

When I got my paperback copy of Being Human. I was in awe. I literally was jumping for joy (which hubby did not share my same enthusiasm when I showed him. LOL)

Are there any new authors who have grasped your interest recently? Why?

I have met a bunch of new authors thanks to twitter. A few whose books I know I have to buy are M.R. Merrick, M.B. Mulhall, Vicktor Alexander, and Daniel A. Kaine. I talk to them all, and I just fell head over heels in love w/ the stories they written and constantly bug them to write faster.

Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Relax. Sometimes, as writers, we get so stressed about getting those words down, about getting the book done, that we forget to give ourselves a moment to relax. Write as much as you can, but if you have an off day, don't feel too guilty about setting your story aside and doing something mindless like watch a movie. Your muse needs a break too and when you get back to it, you'll feel nice and refreshed.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit with us Patricia. But we are not done yet! Fill in the form below for a chance to win a copy of Patricia's first novel, Being Human.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Introducing a New Kind of Cookbook & Book Giveaway

Good morning to everyone on this snowed in day! Yep, Seattle is getting her fair share of the snow dump to my dismay. I have a wedding to get to this evening and I am on set duty around noon, not sure if I will even be able to make it :(

But that is not what I am here to talk about on this snow covered day. As the pic above says, there is a new cookbook in town!!!! And, yours truly has a couple of family recipes and food related stories included! :D I'm so excited to share some of my mom's fun cooking with the world and some of the stories that lead to said recipes. For example, you will find out why for a good 10+ years my family became vegetarians and tuna became the main meat staple in the house :D Try out a variety of recipes from various cultures around the world.

Serving Up Faith is on sale now but I am giving away two copies! Fill out the form below for a chance to win a print copy of Serving Up Faith!

Serving Up Faith
Islamic Writers Alliance
ISBN: 978-0-9819770-7-2
242 pages
Price: $14.95

Buy direct from the publisher here or from Amazon here

Ellen's Broom Blog Tour Winner!

The winner of Kelly Starling Lyons' Ellen's Broom is................

Olivia Mitchell

Congratulations Olivia!!!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (9)

Time for another teaser Tuesday from my story: The Protected Bloodlines :) Enjoy!
Batu opened the door and the lights came on. A man sat in the center of the room on a crate with his back to the door. He continued to sing, his hands and arms moving slowly around an object. Batu could not see what it was nor did he recognize the person, so, he approached him slowly. When Batu got close enough to reach out and grab the unsuspecting man's shoulder, he turned around and stared Batu straight in the face. It was Zanthar, one of the people Shayhu rescued from the dark void. In his hands he held a piece of metal. The metal was almost like a ball of hot, red clay, assuming forms of his choice. Zanthar smiled at Batu and continued shaping his metal and singing, his eyes completely white. He finally finished and handed the object to Batu. Batu passed the object around in his hands and even tried to bend and mash it in his massive hands, but it was solid and shiny as metal and cold as the room they sat in, nothing like what he saw only seconds ago.
“How did you do that?” Batu asked his eyes lit up as they peered into Zanthar’s face. But Zanthar looked passed him, his eyes wandering, never locking with Batu's. He was blind. Zanthar grinned and leaned toward Batu.
“I will tell you my secret if you do me a favor first,” he said. Zanthar reached his hand out in front of him, searching for Batu’s hand. Batu grabbed hold of him and helped him down off of the container.
“Sure, what do you need help with?” Batu asked. He could not possibly need help getting down off the container, after all, he got up there on his on.
“Will you take me to see my sister?” he asked, “I have been confined for far too long now and have lost my sight.”
Batu had to restrain a chuckle. Lucky for him, Zanthar could not see his amused  and shocked expression. He had never heard of a person losing his sight because he was confined. But he agreed to help Zanthar find his sister, Zuri. 

Tuesday Tunes: Phineas and Ferb

This week's Tuesday Tunes will cater to my inner child! :D I will admit that I still love to watch cartoons :D One of my all time favorites is Phineas and Ferb. Here are my favorite clips from the show :D Enjoy!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday Muse: Monday Morning Sparks and No Snow Days!

Hello everyone! Welcome to another fabulous Monday!!! Over at Susanna's blog she is doing a fun Monday Morning Spark where the writer chooses five words to create a piece. Here are my five words, a pic from yesterday and my short piece using the five words. :) 


I woke up this morning to a white covered world. Snow blanketed the roads, trees, pathways and rooftops. As cold as it was, I jumped out of bed to check and see if school would be closed for snow-day. But would you know, no snow day. Instead we were opening up late but not so late that I get a few extra hours. No, we opened at 8:30 just when my shift started. Well, I got to work, ready to play (and learn) with my toddler classroom, all of them! That's right, we were open on MLK day and while many of the parent's had the day off, kids still arrived on time. So, the day went on as usual. We had breakfast, read books, played with musical instruments, learned and matched cut out felt shapes. Outside time was a blast. The little ones had a ball playing out in the white snow despite the cold. Even brought some snow inside to put in our sensory table to play with later. So, even though it was a cold, no snow day, full classroom, kind of work day, I had an awesome day with my toddlers!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday: My First Ramadan by Karen Katz

Title: My First Ramadan
Author: Karen Katz
Suitable for ages: 3-8 years
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. August 7th 2007
Theme/Topic: Culture, Muslim Holiday, Ramadan, Muslim Festival, Family

Look! There is the new moon in the sky. Now we        will begin our holiday called Ramadan……

Synopsis: It is time for Ramadan. Follow along with one young boy as he observes the Muslim holiday with his family. This year, he wants to try to fast like the grown-ups do, and even the youngest readers will be interested as he shares his experiences of this special holiday.

More books about Ramadan for children:
More Ramadan Resources:

Why I like this book:
My First Ramadan is meant to introduce young children to the month of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims worldwide and many practices and traditions that happen through out the month. Karen Katz does a wonderful job illustrating and creating a super cute Muslim boy to share his excitement of the month and coming holiday, Eid-ul-Fitr. With all of her books, I just love her illustrations! Little bodies and big round heads. They remind me of a few of my little ones I care for in my toddler classroom! J The text is simple and straightforward. She includes a pronunciation guide for Arabic words through out the book. Like every holiday, Ramadan celebrates traditions, family, friends and the community. It encourages good deeds and virtues, prayer and charity. 

Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop

Once again, I thank the lovely Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer for co-hosting this fun giveaway with Martha's Bookshelf.

I have long list of books I am DYING to get my hands on! I dream about them all the time hoping I can either buy them or at least find them in my local library during these tough economic times. So, I thought, instead of picking a book to giveaway, why not let my fabulous followers pick their own book from their wish list! So, up for grabs is a ten dollar gift card from Amazon :D that way you can get the book you've been dreaming of. There is only one rule, fill out the form below then hop on to the next blog for a chance to win more fun prizes! :D  Happy Hopping and Dreaming!! :D

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Ellen's Broom Blog Tour

Welcome to day 8 of Ellen's Broom Blog tour. 

I have the honor today to welcome Kelly Starling Lyons back to Of Thoughts and Words to share with us her latest picture book released just this month. Check out my review of Ellen's Broom here. Kelly is an amazing author and I feel blessed to be able to share in her excitement of her newest book! This book is about a young girl who braves a new future without losing her love and pride in her family's heritage. The story is set in the reconstruction era and Ellen teaches us all that some traditions are worth preserving! :)

As part of the blog tour, anyone who leaves a comment on any of Kelly's tour stops will be entered in a drawing for the grand prize - a signed poster of the Ellen's Broom cover and a decorated wedding broom from Stuart's Creations ( The winner will be drawn on January 16. So make a comment!!! Win that broom! 

Now on to the interview!!! Kelly gives us insight into how her book, Ellen's Broom!!! 

So Kelly, what inspired you to write Ellen’s Broom?

While researching family history in a North Carolina library, I came across a record that opened a new world to me. That document was the 1866 Cohabitation Register of Henry County, VA. In it, formerly enslaved couples listed their antebellum marriages and the names and ages of their children. I was moved deeply.

So many families were torn apart by slavery. Slave holders sold enslaved people - husbands and wives, parents and children -- away from each at will. After slavery ended, some people searched heartbroken for loved ones. But some, like the families in the register, finally saw the law reflect what they knew in their hearts: Their marriages mattered too.

Back then, I didn't know that document contained the seed of a picture book. But later, I shared that story with an editor at the Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. He told me I had a children's book in there. I went back to my room that evening and started imagining a girl growing up at that time.

I saw Ellen, a child whose parents jumped the broom to become husband and wife during slavery and then finally got a chance to celebrate that marriage being legally recognized during Reconstruction. I asked myself what that would mean to Ellen and her family. That's how Ellen's Broom came to be.

How important is keeping or passing on history and traditions?

It's essential. Without passing on history and traditions, they can be forgotten.

How exactly did you research the topic for your picture book?

After finding the cohabitation register and beginning the story, I realized I had a lot of work to do. I needed to learn more about the historical period in which the registration took place and the families living then. I read Freedmen's Bureau letters where officers described the way freedmen and women responded to the news that their marriages would be registered. I read slave narratives, especially those that referenced marriage. I also read a wonderful article by African American geneaology specialist, Reginald Washington, that talked about cohabitation registers. You can check it out here:

Finally, after my story was completed, I shared the draft with historians to make sure it hit the mark.

What is the most important thing you would like your readers to gain from reading Ellen’s Broom?

I would like them to gain an appreciation for the love and faith that carried families like Ellen's through slavery and into the future. Daniel Minter did a beautiful job interpreting the story through his illustrations. You can see in their faces what having the opportunity to register their marriages meant to the couples and their children. I want readers to leave feeling inspired.

If Ellen were here with us today, what encouraging advice would she share?

She would say, "Never forget where you came from. That's part of what makes us who we are." You can't appreciate what you have without knowing what you came through to get it. She would encourage us to learn our history and pass it on.

Isn't Kelly just amaaaaaaaaaaazing!!?? And isn't Ellen just adorable!? :D I bet you all thought that was the end of the post :D
Well, guess what! There is a book giveaway to giveaway :D enter to win a copy of "Ellen's Broom," from Of Thoughts and Words!!! 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: Child of the Library

Are you a child of the library? I was practically raised in the library. It was literally my second home. I was there so much, the head librarian use to let me check in/out books for other patrons. I was officially an unofficial assistant librarian (since I was too young to be one officially :D) Please enjoy this song and the message it gives shares. It certainly brought up some wonderful memories of my own childhood library days!

Keep libraries open!! Support your local library.

Teaser Tuesday (8) Dark Life by Kat Falls

Here is one of the latest books I am reading. It is a middle grade novel that caught my eye because of the striking book cover! I should never stroll through a bookstore while I'm still reading. *shakes head* At the time, I was reading Medusa by Clive Cussler and had a stack of other books to be read that all included sea life/ocean themes and as I walked down the aisles to kill my one hour lunch break, this jumped out at me.  The very title, Dark Life, and subtitle, BEWARE THE DEEP (not seen on this pic), pulled me over to the display like a moth to a flame! Well, I finally got done with my to be read stack and pulled this off my bookshelf.

I should have seen them coming, even this deep. I should have known the squid had squirted its radiant goo to divert a predator. And now my helmet's crown lights served as an even brighter beacon. With a jab to my wrist screen, I snapped them off, but it was too late - I couldn't unring that dinner bell.


Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Muse: A quote to start the week!

Is this true or is this true! All the books (and I have a ton of them!) and writing tips in the world will not get me published unless I learn the craft and implement everything I learn. But there is so much out there, it feels daunting, and at times, confusing. Especially when sometimes those tips contradict other instruction, tips and techniques. Not to mention all the technological advances in the publishing industry. So, instead of ripping my hair out, I'm taking every resource I have, books, web links, author and blogger friends, writing buddies, critique partners and writing conferences and I'm starting at the beginning. I am going to build my foundations first. Get the craft, write, write, write, read, read, read, revise, revise, revise and write some. And one day, I will turn those sticks of resources into a strong and sturdy ladder that will get me over the hurdles and into the world of publishing AND keep my sanity and sense of humor. :D

How about you writer friends, how do you make your resources work for you, not overwhelm you?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Ellen's Broom by Kelly Starling Lyons

I know this is late but please bear with me :/ been one of those weeks!

Title: Ellen’s Broom
Author: Kelly Starling Lyons
Publisher: G.P. Putnam Jan 5, 2011
Ages: 5-8 Grades: K and up
Theme/Topic: family, traditions, history, slavery, reconstruction era

Opening and Synopsis:
…..Sunday morning, Ellen sat on the front pew with her family. She wiggled on the wooden seat, trying to get comfortable. But she knew not to say a word. Her people no longer had to worship at the back of the master’s church or sneak to the woods for prayer meetings. Slavery days were over….

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, 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 to a way 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.

Why I like this book: This is a wonderful story about family and the meaning of freedom. 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. Kelly did an amazing job creating the lovable character Ellen, a character children can easily connect with. With Ellen, children and their parents are taken on a historical journey through a page in our history. The artwork in the book is very striking. The illustrator, Daniel Minter, used block-printing method for his illustrations. It is the first time I have seen such a technique and it is simply beautiful. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Muse: 2012, I'm Ready for You!!

Happy New Years from Seattle, Wa!!!
Here is wishing everyone peace, happiness, joy and prosperity in 2012 :)
Happy New Year everyone!! I am so pumped for this new year. God-willing, 2012 will be a good year for us all. I have a lot on my plate for this year and I am looking forward to trying my best to accomplish it ALL.  What is in store for this year?

Well for starters, a new cookbook will be released this month and I have a few family recipes and stories that are included in it!!!! :D This cookbook includes traditional and family recipes from around the world. It also has cooking tips, inspirational stories and healthy cooking and eating articles.

Last year (so odd saying that when it has only been two days! :D) I participated in the PiBoIdMo and came up with some wonderful picture book ideas. This year, it is my goal to turn those ideas into picture book manuscripts (first drafts of course) So far to date, I have one completed draft!!!  One down and 11 more to go!!! :D

I will continue to participate in Susanna L. Hill's wonderful project of collecting picture books that not only entertain children's imagination but engage and educate as well. This list of picture books is unique in that it provides educational resources and activities parents, home schoolers and teachers can use in the classroom and at home. You may find the complete list here at Just Right Books

I have a feeling 2012 will see the emergence of some really awesome new book titles, self and traditionally published. I hope to continue to offer interviews of newly published authors to help support the cause of introducing new books and authors to the reading community. If you are a new author or have a new book releasing this year, send me your contact info and I will get back to you to set up an interview to publish here on Of Thoughts and Words. :)

Also coming this way are book reviews, writing prompts, giveaways, teasers and more!! 
Here is to a fabulous new year!!!!
God bless each and everyone of us
 and keep us all happy and healthy!!

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