Monday, January 25, 2016

You Heard it Here First: Introducing Dorothy Price's Debut Picture Book and a Giveaway

Congratulations to Clara Clark for winning Sandra Warren's book, WE BOUGHT A WWII BOMBER.

As many of you know, one of the things I enjoy about blogging is sharing other author's news. This week I am happy to introduce Dorothy Price who endeavored to break into the picture book market for years. I first met Dorothy when I led the Charlotte, NC SCBWI critique group and read this book in its infancy. I am delighted to have Dorothy tell us about her very personal path to publication.

CAROL: What was the genesis of NANA'S FAVORITE THINGS? Was there a particular event in your life that led you to writing about a grandmother with diabetes? 

DOROTHY: The story began in 2011 when my 7-year-old daughter, Sanai, helped my mother bake her famous pumpkin and zucchini breads. As the first grandchild, she and my mom formed a strong bond over cooking and baking. 
Sanai Price with her grandmother, Annie Henderson
CAROL: How many drafts did you go through before you submitted NANA'S FAVORITE THINGS? What was that process like? 

DOROTHY: There were too many drafts to count! I learned that a story isn't as strong as it can be unless you have multiple drafts. I brought the story to my SCBWI critique group and from there, it went through several rounds of edits. After each critique group meeting, I felt like it was getting stronger, but none of the agents I submitted it to offered representation. By the end of 2012, after my last round of submissions, I put it away and moved on to writing something new. 

CAROL: Speaking of SCBWI, how has it been a part of your journey to be a published writer? 

DOROTHY: I always say I didn't really become a kidlit writer until I joined the SCBWI in 2010. I began writing kidlit in December 2008 after a traumatic experience, but the stories I wrote between 2008-2010 were created before I learned the picture book writing craft. Nancy Krulik is responsible for my joining the SCBWI. It was at her South County Library author visit in October of 2010, amidst a host of children, that I waddled over to her (I was 7 months pregnant with my son) and asked what advice she had for aspiring writers. She immediately said ... "Join the SCBWI!" I am forever grateful to her for that advice. I would love to meet her again and tell her, thank you!

CAROL: I love that story, Dorothy! On another track, do you have an agent?

DOROTHY: Not yet, but I do have an agent who expressed interest in another completed picture book. I submitted to her in September 2015, and she responded in December, but still no contract. 

CAROL: How did you find Eifrig Publishing? How many publishers did you query before you found them? 

DOROTHY: I only submitted NANA'S FAVORITE THINGS to a few publishers. I found Eifrig on Twitter after following kidlit, picture book, and other literary hastags from authors, agents, and publishers. Those hashtags lead me to Penny Eifrig, the owner of Eifrig Publishing. (Click here for submission information.)

CAROL: Did your editor ask for any changes? 

DOROTHY: Yes! I submitted to Penny in the spring of 2013. I didn't hear back from her until October 2013. She had a few suggestions for how to make Sasha's character stronger by having her come up with more ways to help her nana. Of course I brought the story back to my SCBWI critique group for advice, and submitted the revised version back to Penny in December 2013. I heard back from her in January 2014 and she explained that her list was full, but she was still interested in the story. I didn't hear back from her again until April 2014 when she said she wanted to move forward with publishing the book!

CAROL: How long did it take from initial concept to publication? 

DOROTHY: Roughly five years. 

CAROL: What are your hopes for this book? 

DOROTHY: Since this book is based on personal experience, my hope is that it begins to create a dialogue about diabetes in all communities. A number of my close family members have died from diabetes complications, so I have seen firsthand how devastating this disease can be. My mom actually has diabetes, but because of her lifestyle changes, she does not take insulin. She exercises and maintains healthy eating habits which has contributed to her stable health. I would like people to know that diabetes is a preventable disease, if you're willing to make some lifestyle changes. 

CAROL: What’s next? 

DOROTHY: My book launches on February 8, 2016. My first book signing is at Park Road Books on February 20 in Charlotte, NC. 

Overall, I am extremely grateful for Penny Eifrig and TeMika Grooms who illustrated the book. The journey was long, but well worth it! 
Dorothy is wife to one, mother to two, and writer of picture books. Of all her grownup jobs, teaching high school English was her favorite. Aside from jumping rope, running, and spending time with her family, reading books is one of her  favorite things to do!

"Sasha loves to shoot hoops and ride her bike. Those are her favorite things to do. But she also enjoys her Nana’s yummy treats. One day, Sasha learns her Nana has diabetes and can no longer eat the tasty snacks they have baked together over the years. With quick thinking, Sasha comes up with a clever plan to help her Nana become more active and healthy. Before long, Sasha and Nana realize they both have some new favorite things."

To enter for a chance to win this engaging and informative picture book, please leave a comment by 6 PM on Thursday, January 28. If you're new to this blog, please leave your email address also. Share this on social media (and tell me in the comment) and I'll enter your name twice. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

We Bought a WWII Bomber: A Review and A Giveaway

Congratulations to Dorothy Price who won an autographed copy of Kiss of Broken Glass.

Here are three observations about WE BOUGHT A WWII BOMBER by North Carolina author, Sandra Warren:

1. Sandra did a great deal of research. The amount of details in this book for adults and teens is reflected in the extensive bibliography. 

2. Today's teenagers are different than the patriotic, self-sacrificing teenagers who lived seventy years ago. Those students learned how to live with shortages of food, how to collect materials that could be re-purposed for the war effort, and willingly participated in scrap metal drives and rationing. Would we see that type of commitment and patriotism today?

3. I knew that Kate and Lillie, the protagonists in my book, Half-Truths, would have been in elementary school during World War II. Reading this book made the time period come alive for me and helped me think more deeply about how those shortages affected them.

WE BOUGHT A WWII BOMBER is the story of a dedicated group of junior and senior high students who raised more than $375,000 by selling War Bonds and War Stamps to purchase a B-17 bomber. The story begun in 1942 by a quiet student, Arthur Blackport, when he suggested that his fellow students at South High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan work together to purchase a Flying Fortress. 
Arthur Blackport
Not only did the students raise enough money to purchase the bomber, 
Queen La Vonne Kronberg, Col. A.C. Faulk
Mr. Henry Mulder, Mr. Harry Brown

but they also successfully raised money to buy an advanced trainer plane,
Queen LaVonne Kronberg, Jean Endless, Velma Kling, Lucille Hice
Barbara Northway, Margaret McCarthy AT-6A Advanced Trainer

as well as two disaster vehicles (which were a combination canteen, ambulance, and hospital car), and sixty-three fully equipped landing barges. 
U.S. Army Signal Corps photograph
Gift in Memory of Maurice T. White
Collection of the National WWII Museum
After the bomber was officially christened and flown off, the students wondered what happened to it. "How many battles had it won? How many German or Japanese planes had it destroyed?" (p. 49)

For seventy years no one knew what happened to the plane. The students heard rumors, but no facts. But in 2012, at her Class of 1962 fiftieth South High reunion, a remark which Sandra Warren made about "Searching for the Spirit" prompted a fellow classmate, Joe Rogers, to start digging for the truth. 

Joe uncovered the fate of "The Spirit of South High" which enabled Sandra to write this story. 
WWII USAAF aviation plug socket FOUND by
John Reynolds, May 3, 2015 at the crash site,
Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Click here for a FOX news interview with Sandra Warren about the book. 

Sandra's attention to detail made this period come alive for me and I hope the book will inspire you. I am happy to give away my autographed copy of WE BOUGHT A WWII BOMBER. Please leave me a comment by 6 PM on Thursday, January 21 and your email address if you are new to this blog. PLUS--if you are in or near Central Florida, Sandra is speaking at the World War II study club on January 29 at the Colony Recreation Center in The Villages from 1-3 PM. Come on by and meet the author!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Kiss of Broken Glass: A Review and a Giveaway

Image-driven poetry. 
A serious mental health issue. 
Deep point of view. 

Madeline Kuderick's debut novel, Kiss of Broken Glass, reminds me of another beautifully written novel-in-verse, Linda Phillips' book, CRAZY.

Or to put it simply, if you liked CRAZY, you'll like Kiss of Broken Glass

When a "friend" finds fifteen-year-old Kenna cutting in the school bathroom and rats on her, Kenna finds herself "Baker Acted" (i.e., involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward for 72 hours). 

The first morning Kenna meets the other teens on the ward and the group therapist, Roger. 

I start to fixate on the paper clip stuck to Roger's folder.
The one with all those shiny, sharp possibilities.
I imagine the clip uncurling, transforming,
becoming straight and strong and stiff,
just like an arrow. 

A few beads of sweat form on my neck
near the vein that beats faster every time
something really good or really scary is about to happen.

I bet I can swipe the clip when Roger isn't looking,
and I have to bite the inside of my cheek
so nobody sees how excited that idea makes me. 

Then I remember what Donya said.
How they can keep me here
even longer than 72 hours
for something as lame as a paper cut. 

So I sit on my hands
and try to get a song stuck in my head instead,
and send screaming telepathic messages to Roger
to put that freaking paper clip away
before the click, click, click
shoots a bullet in my brain. (p. 24-25)

From that moment, the reader is immersed in Kenna's inner turmoil about an addiction she jokes about, "It's kind of like a club, I say. Sisters of the Broken Glass," (p. 23) and pretends she can quit at any time.

Kenna's favorite place at school is the bathroom where she can draw and be alone:

It's okay to be myself 
in that handicapped stall,
even if being me feels
sort of like a blank piece of paper.

I don't have to come up
with any colorful lies in there,
or force a smile until my cheeks hurt,
or roll up my long cotton sleeves,
and show off my scars,
just to fit in. (p.41)

Cutting is an endorphin riddled high. 


The skin tears
and I feel this rush
swirling in my brain
like a waterspout.

A finger-tingling

And the pain doesn't feel like pain
but more like energy
moving through my body
in waves.


Purging all the broken bits out of me

like a tsunami washing debris to the shore. (p.65)

While Kenna wrestles with guilt, she is also aware that she doesn't have a huge, deep dark secret causing her actions. She realizes that her main motivation is to be accepted by the gang of girls in her school who cut themselves. 

She uses her one phone call to call Rennie, the girl who is the head of the gang. Rennie picks up the phone.

And then I hear her.

"This better be good."

Her words are like punches
knocking the breath out of me.
I want her to say:

OMG! Are you okay?
This is sooooo unfair!
Are they going to let you out soon?
Everybody misses you like crazy.

But something's off.

"I just wanted to talk," I say.

"So talk," she answers.

I hear water running and someone giggling
in the background. Then Rennie sighs,
like she's bored with me already.

"Look. The school's on high alert," she says.
"A message went home telling parents to be
on guard for the Top Ten Signs of Self-Harm
and now every mom in Manatee County
is searching for scissors under the bed
and taking inventory of their Band-Aid boxes."

I hear the phone chasing hands
and another voices jumps on the line.

"You can't even get a plastic knife
in the cafeteria thanks to you." (p.131,2)

As crushing as that phone call is, it is also an eye-opener for Kenna, as she begins to see the lies she had begun to believe. She also admits to herself,

I need help.

And I wouldn't say it feels
like a huge first step.
Not in the Mount Everest way
that Skylar said it would.

But it definitely feels 
like something.

And just for a second,
a swirl of promise
tickles up inside me.

And I feel calm.
Without the guilt.  (p.198)

The book doesn't end syrupy sweet, but it does end with honesty and hope. When her family comes to pick her up Kenna says,

And it's not like I get
all happy ending-ish
and ride off into the sunset
or some crap like that.

But I do feel like I have a choice.
Like a fork in the road or whatever.

I just hope 937 Things to Do Instead are enough.

Because to tell you the truth,
I could go either way. (p.201)

Madeline Kuderick wrote Kiss of Broken Glass the year following her daughter's involuntary commitment under Florida's Baker Act for cutting. Kenna was in sixth grade when she found herself surrounded by teens who cut themselves and as Madeline wrote in the Author's Note: "She tried it, experimentally at first, but was soon drawn into the strangely addictive allure of the blade." 

The book ends with two pages of resources. If you know someone who is struggling with self-harm, this book may be their first step towards hope and help. 

I met Madeline at the SCBWI Florida mid-year conference and was excited to have her autograph a copy of her book. I'm offering Kiss of Broken Glass as my first giveaway of 2016 and hope that it'll eventually land in the hands of a teen who needs to know she's not alone.  

Leave me a comment by noon on January 14th to be entered into this giveaway. If I don't have your email address, make sure you leave it too. 

Everything You Wanted to Know About Social Media But Didn't Know Who to Ask

My apologies if you receive this blog twice. I’ve had some issues with feed burner and am trying to correct them.  In case I still don't have it resolved on January 4, I blogged about my focus for 2016 and wanted to hear what yours was. On January 11 I reviewed and offered Madeline Kuderick's debut novel, Kiss of Broken Glass as a giveaway. Please hang in there with me while I get this ironed out! Thank you and make sure you check out this week's giveaway!
For those of you who are outside the SCBWI-Carolinas region you may not know Joan Y. Edwards, our regional "go to" person when members have questions about blogging and social media. She generously agreed to answer some of my questions about Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. PLUS she is giving away a critique of 1000 words, a pitch and a query OR a blog consultation to one of you! Today we'll start by learning how to link Facebook Pages to Twitter accounts. Next week Joan will discuss more about blogging. 
What kind of Facebook page can you link to Twitter?

If your Facebook profile post is marked public, you can share it
with Twitter. Most of us only share our posts from 
our Facebook profile pages with our friends. These are NOT public. 
After you have a regular Facebook profile page, you can add a special page, such as an author page, an illustrator's page, a blogger's page, or a business page which are all public and anyone can see what's posted on it. THESE public pages can be linked to Twitter. If you like a person's public page, then it goes into your friends timeline so they can see it when they click on their home page.

Here's a link to explain more:

How do you link a Facebook page to Twitter?

If you manage a Facebook page, you can share updates on your Twitter account with your Twitter followers, and you can control what type of updates you'd like to share: status updates, links, photos, notes, events. If you have multiple pages, you have the option to link each of these pages to different Twitter accounts. 

Here are directions to post automatically from Twitter to Facebook page:

How do you link from your personal profile page to your author page? 

1. Click on the share button.
2. There are six places you can choose to share:
    1. Share Now (Friends) It goes immediately to your friends.
    2. Share (if you click on this middle share, it takes you to five more choices. If you choose:
On your timeline. When you click on this, it goes immediately to your timeline.
On a friend’s timeline. (Type in their Facebook name, their name should pop up, click on their name. Then write a note in the box with “Say Something about this...” Click on the Share Link button on right hand side below the link.
In a group. (Type in the name of the group and choose it when Facebook pops the name up. For instance, if you type in To Market To Market, the whole group name should pop up. You have to click on the name when it pops up. Then write a note in the box with “Say Something about this...” Click on the Share Link button on right hand side below the link.
On a page you manage. It will have the name of the page. If you have more than one page you manage, you can click on the down arrow to see other pages. Click on the page you want to which you want to post. Then write a note in the box with “Say Something about this...” Click on the Share Link button on right hand side below the link.
In a private message. When you click on this, it has a box with TO and the word names. Click on names and type the person’s name there. You will see a box with “Say Something about this...” above the link. Type your message to go with the link. Click Share link button on right hand side below the link.

What are the advantages of people liking your Facebook author page? 

Here's a great article on that:
Joan Y. Edwards is author/illustrator of picture book, Flip Flap Floodle. Her Never Give Up blog has over 300,000 views and over 330 subscribers. She presented a "Blogging Basics" workshop at the 2012 SCBWI-Carolinas Conference in Charlotte and two workshops at the 2014 SCWW (S.C. Writers Workshop) Conference in Myrtle Beach: "Get Your Blog Going and Make It Stand Out" and "How to Add Pizzazz to Your Blog." Two of her books are scheduled for release in 2016: Joan's Elder Care Guide and Larry, the Terrifying Turkey

Blogger or Word Press? Joan Edwards Highlights Some Differences

Congratulations to Connie Saunders for winning a critique from Joan. 

As I said in last week's post, Joan Y. Edwards, is the SCBWI-Carolinas regional "go to" person when members have questions about blogging and social media. In this post Joan explains how to get the most out of your blog as well as the difference between Blogger and Word Press. PLUS she is giving away another critique of 1000 words, a pitch and a query OR a blog consultation to one of you! 

How can bloggers get the most out of their blogs?

What can I do to ensure that my blog is noticed in a very crowded blogosphere?

Choose a theme or template that's attractive and reflects your personality and/or interests. Make sure you have a column for your posts, plus a sidebar for:

  * A picture of you
  * Most popular blog posts
  * Latest blog posts
  * Either at the top or in the sidebar you can put pages/tabs that remain the same all the time. On my blog, I list "Pub Subbers, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4 and About Me" all the time in view. I also list them in the sidebar (column on right).

  * When you first begin your blog fix everything you want so it’s done one time.

       Carol's Thoughts: Think about who your audience is as you write your posts. What information are they looking for? What can you provide that other blogs don't? Joyce Hostetter taught me the importance of including pictures as much as possible. 
Joan's first chapter book is coming out next year!

How are WordPress and Blogger the same?
  *You can add pictures and videos on both.
  * You can choose sizes and colors of fonts. 

  *  Both have a place to put keywords, topics, and phrases which, are extremely important. (Blogger calls these "labels.") When people put a keyword, or topic into a search engine, if it’s in your blog, you'll show up as a possible source for information about that topic. For example, if you search for "publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts" you'll find my blog post, "32 Publishers Who Accept Unsolicited Manuscripts." Your goal is to be at the top of the search engine list when someone searches for a topic.
   * Both have additional services that you can add to your blog. WordPress calls them “widgets;” Blogger calls them “gadgets.”

What are the differences between WordPress and Blogger?

       * WordPress calls their blog designs “themes.” Both Blogger and WordPress have portfolio or magazine style templates.

   * WordPress may put ads on your blog. On Blogger you may have to request GoogleAdSense to place ads on your blog. They check your ad ratings. If you have a high number of readership, GoogleAdSense will put ads on your blog and pay you when people click on them. You can find more information here.

    * On WordPress, you can fix the settings so that after you approve one comment from a person, all of their emails will be approved.

     * WordPress has a spam filter called Akismet to block emails from people who spam your blog. You can fix its settings so none of them are deleted until you dump them. Akismet does a great job of catching people who just want to put a comment with links to websites to purchase something.

     * Instead of a spam filter, Blogger uses Captcha, which lately has you click and say you’re not a robot. I don’t like the Captcha that makes you type the same letters and numbers as they have in their little box. Sometimes I can’t tell whether they are capital or lower case letters and may 3 or 4 tries. Sometimes I get frustrated and leave the blog without leaving a comment. Here’s a blog post about Captcha alternatives

Elegant themes compares WordPress and Blogger here

What are some other resources you'd like to share with my readers?

    * To Market To Market for Bloggers, Writers, and Illustrators is a public Facebook group for self-promotion. Members congratulate, encourage, and inspire each other share each other’s links. Share a link about your books, blog posts, and events (webinar, book launches, book signings, guest appearances, parties). Join on the group page

   * Pub Subbers Yahoo Group encourages members to submit a manuscript often with automated reminders of the necessary steps to get ready to submit: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4. To join, email
Please leave me a comment by December 30th and I will enter your name to win your choice of a 1000 word critique (plus evaluation of your pitch and query) or a critique of your blog. If you are new to my blog, please leave your email address also.

Joan’s Elder Care Guide Release 2016 4RV Publishing, empowers you, the caregiver to meet your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social needs and those of your elder to promote healing, well-being, and survival. Based on the author’s research and fourteen year’s experience caring for her mother, it provides resources to find the right place for your elder to live, explains ways to improve communication to find solutions, and gives organization ideas for medical, financial, insurance, and legal documents. It offers ways for a caregiver to get time away from caregiving."

Joan Y. Edwards is author/illustrator of picture book, Flip Flap Floodle. Her Never Give Up blog has over 300,000 views and over 330 subscribers. You can find her on Facebook or Twitter @joanyedwards and @tomarketsuccess.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 Challenge: Focus!

Congratulations to Judy Penz Sheluk who won the second critique from Joan Edwards. Thank you to everyone who left comments.

Raise your hand if you remember this commercial:

If so, then you may understand how I felt three weeks ago when my mentor, Rebecca Petruck, wrote: 
Omigosh, I'm really liking the look of this outline!

Mikey's brothers couldn't touch my excitement. 

Faithful readers of my blog may remember a post in September, 2014 when, after completing the third draft of my book, I announced I'd discovered the "clay"of my story. 

As it turned out, the clay I'd thrown on the potters wheel still needed trimming. 

In Rebecca's editorial letter about Draft #4 she identified twelve different threads I'd (oh so carefully!) woven together into Half-Truths. That did not count the threads I had in place for my two protagonists. (Do you sense a problem here?)

Rebecca wrote: 

Here is what Half-Truths wants to be:

  1. A white and black girl become friends, despite social norms of 1950s Charlotte.
  2. A white and black girl discover they are related, and the implications of that.

Consider: what moments show this. Every scene has to be related to this.

She also pointed out the multitude of locations and recommended thinking about my book as if was a play. Which sets would be created? She suggested just five. That was a whole lot more than were in this draft.

There were also too many injured animals and she suggested I choose one. Bird or goat? There was never a question in my mind which would win out. 

But the hardest part was when Rebecca and I skyped and I realized that the girl's love interests--which I'd spent a HUGE amount of time crafting and sweating over--pulled the reader away from the girls' friendship.

The boys got moved to the back seat.  

In November I spent several weeks writing a new outline. I drew closer to each girls' internal and external journeys and eliminated a bunch of settings. I patted myself on the back, sent it off to Rebecca, and started writing Draft #5.

As it turns out, my self-congratulations were premature. 

In mid-December (on my birthday no less!) I received these notes from Rebecca:
It can be difficult to tell from an outline, but this version seems to keep the girls separate for a lot of the novel. They have their own story lines and only sometimes interact with each other. I think what you want is for them to have a combined story line, with mini-B stories that reflect their shared story.
In very broad terms, this is the shape of a story about a friendship.
Act 1: Girls meet, forced to interact multiple times, not sure they like each other.
Act 2: Maybe we can be friends. Fun & Games is becoming friends for real.
Act 3: Being friends is harder than we thought for several reasons, including…holy cow, we’re related?!
Act 4: It’s discombobulating to know the truth, but not only are we friends, we’re family, and that’s worth any discomfort.

The only elements that get layered in are ones that reflect this journey in a different way.
During our last conversations, I felt you needed to do some serious pruning. Instead, elements have been added....I think it will be helpful to examine each chapter and each scene, and be super honest about how it affects the friendship. Some elements may work in different places, but go back to that first quick outline I noted about the shape of each act in relation to the girls being friends. I think we’ll need to do some shifting and rethinking.
I was crushed. I'd thought I was ready to write. In fact, I was five chapters into Draft #5!
For one night I let the pity party run its course. Then I went back to work. I thought about the basic four acts which Rebecca outlined. I pinched and pruned. I cut out another favorite location (Wing Haven gardens which I visited 20 years ago and was the genesis of this novel. I blogged about how it fit into my book here). I thought about how the girls could be together in almost every chapter. I skyped with my best writing buddy, Linda Phillips, and she offered a magnificent solution for a thorny plot problem. When I focused on how Lillie's and Kate's actions impacted each other--I finally discovered the essence of my story. 
Five days later, I sent Rebecca a new outline.
The next day she posted this on my Facebook page:
Just read your revised outline. *fires confetti canon* I'm so excited for HALF TRUTHS and proud of you and all the work you've done!!!

The pitch for Half-Truths has been the same for several years: In Charlotte, NC in 1950 two teens in Charlotte--one white and one black--become unlikely friends and discover an heirloom belonging to both  families. 

But the execution of that idea--has been far more complicated. I went far and wide and gathered a lot of ideas before I discovered the precious nugget which was right under my nose.  The girls' friendship is the heart of my story. 

Which reminds me of Professor Higgins's triumphant song in My Fair Lady:

(I dare you to not start singing "The Rain in Spain" now!)

Only two beta readers read Draft #4. Their probing feedback helped me confirm my decision to take the boys out of the book. Since then, they've read the first five chapters of Draft #5. One told me, "My biggest observation is that you're saying more with fewer words."

Which came from writing all those previous drafts.

Which led me to gaining more focus.

How about you? 

What are you focusing on in 2016?

THE NIGHT WAR: A MG Historical Novel Review

  By now you should have received an email from my new website about my review of THE NIGHT WAR by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. (It'll com...