Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Psssst!!! Come a little closer. I have a secret to share.

the Genie Scheme by Kimberly K. Jones

a review from a writers perspective

Do you ever have things magically disapper? Socks, toys, jewelry, books? Psst . . . . ! Come a little closer. I've got a secret to share with you.

I've done a little research on this "disappearing epidemic" and I found some interesting intel. The answer to this phenomenon? Genies. Yep. That's right.

I learned this info from Janna, a teen who feel like she lives in poverty because her mom drives an old car and they have to shop at second hand stores, showed a random act of kindness to a bag lady. Turns out this wasn't your run-of-the-mill bag lady. Nope! She was a Genie. Apparently when you show kindness to a Genie, this binds them to you as their master.

Janna was finally able to have everything she had ever dreamed about. Unfortunately, she learned very quickly that genies don't just *poof* things out of thin air. Anything that they give to you has to *poof* out of the possession of someone or someplace else. Janna learns that there are consequences to our greed and materialization of our wishes.

So . . . all those socks that you've lost, they've gone to some poor sap that needs to learn how to make better wishes. Missing books? Gone to some lucky reader who has a magical-endless supply of reading material.

Story: The Genie Scheme is a cute and humorous story best suited for the tween reader. I think an older teen audience would think the moral of the story might be too preachy.

Chracterization: The main character has realistic problems and realistic reactions to them, her character was written well. The genie is funny and likeable. I love the Genie!
The only downside to the characterization is that the "bad guys" fall flat. There seems to be little (if any) redeemable qualities in the antagonists making their personalities unrealistic. Also, there seems to be a blanket idea that all "rich" people are self serving and bad.

Voice: Each character had their own distinctive, consistent and believable voice. Great job on voice!

Overall this is a cute, fast and fun read. And with all our hopes and dreams building up in anticipation of the New Year, this is a good book to remind us to "be careful what you wish for because you just might get it!"

That lead me to ask . . . what do you wish for 2011 to bring?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Critter's new mom just started a blog!

Critter's new adopted mom has set up a new blog in honor of Critter's arrival. Please stop by her blog and welcome Sherri Carpenter and Critter to the blogosphere!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Critter is up for auction!

It has been 15 month, and the time has finally come for Critter's auction! Along with Critter in all his autographed glory, I also made a nice little 20 page scrapbook documenting his travels. you can see the details of the scrapbook by clicking here

this is a picture of what artist,Robert Bateman wrote on Critter's backside.

Are you just finding out about Critter right now? Who is Critter?
Good question.

For over 14 months Critter has traveled the world visiting talented writers, artists, and authors: while exploring their world. Christy Evers sent out Critter after an interactive art project, directed by the cutting edge artist, Ian Sands.

Critter has visited (and was signed) by PJ Hoover (author of the Forgotten Worlds trilogy) and the Texas Sweethearts, in Texas. Beth Revis in North Carolina (whose debut novel, Across the Universe, coming out in January 2011, is expected to be a HUGE success!). Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, (who is frequented in Highlights magazine), MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones (author of multiple picture books) in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith (NY Times best-selling author) in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins (author of “The New Kid and Me”, and “Two of a Kind”) in Michigan, Tina Ferraro, (author of “How to Hook a Hottie, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, and The ABC’s of Kissing Boys) in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis, (Picture book author of “Dog Gone” and “Buck Fever”) in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander, (YA author of “The Sweetheart of Prosper County”) in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia, Alberta, Canada with Angela Ackerman (the blog-genius behind the “Writing Thesaurus”. The World-famous artist, Robert Bateman, also signed Critter (on his backside) as an honorary host.

Critter’s Travels have caused him to be beaten around the edges and cracked just a bit, but I think that adds to his charm . . . scarred like a foam-board Indian Jones (for St. Jude) or something like that. It hasn’t taken away from the integrity of the signatures, though. He has traveled the globe in 14 months. He looks pretty good (for being handled by the U.S. post office) The signatures of fabulous people (in addition to his worthy cause) well makes up for his worn edges. Upon his return trip to me he was cracked a bit, but it was easily repaired with super glue.

The winning bidder will receive THE autographed (by the notable people mentioned above) Critter as well as a 20-page scrapbook documenting his travels.

He will be shipped in the flag-case, as shown in the picture, along with the 20 page scrapbook (designed by Snapfish).

You can view Critter's travels on the sidebar of my blog at

%100 of the winning bid will go to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What is Critterpalooza?

Hey look! It's me! They interviewed me over at Operation Awesome (isn't that a fabulous name for a blog?)

Get the inside scoop about how Critter started traveling around the world.

Also, there is still time to enter Critterpalooza for a chance to win one of the 17 amazing prizes that include but are not limited to books, critiques, skype chats, gift certificates and more! Go to the Bookshelf Muse and enter while you still can!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Critterpalloza = lots of prizes!!! share the wealth!

Kidlit Critterpalooza!

by Angela Ackerman (The Bookshelf Muse)

For over a year now, CRITTER, the creation of artist Ian Sands, has been travelling the world, meeting talented writers and authors and exploring where they live. At each stop he learns more and more about KIDLIT and the importance of literacy and creativity. This journey was the brainchild of Christy Evers, (Thats me! Thanks Angela!) who got her hands on Critter after an interactive art project of Ian’s, where 500 Critters were hidden all over her city for people to find.

Critter has visited PJ Hoover (and the Texas Sweethearts!) in Texas, Beth Revis in North Carolina, Christina Farley in Korea, New England with Nandini Bajpai, Illinois with Kelly Polark, MG Higgins in California, Rena Jones in Montana, Cynthia Leitich Smith in Texas, Bish Denham in the Virgin Islands, Jacqui Robbins in Michigan, Tina Ferraro in California, Cynthia Chapman Willis in New Jersey, Jill S. Alexander in Texas, Ellen Oh in Virginia and is now in Alberta, Canada with Angela Ackerman.

Critter has been to college, rock concerts, national landmarks, a palace, attended his first SCBWI conference, walked among giant redwoods, and met the world famous artist, Robert Bateman. Now that his journey is coming to a close, it’s CRITTER’S hope that you will help him celebrate over at The Bookshelf Muse. His new hosts, together with old hosts, have teamed up to create the Kidlit-inspired event, Critterpalooza! and you’re invited.

There are many AMAZING prizes to be won, all in the spirit of helping Critter celebrate the wonderful creativity & support within out KIDLIT community, and to also raise awareness for his charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

If you would like to donate a few dollars to Critter’s charity, just click on the "I (heart) St. Jude" button (above)! Children’s lives are saved every day thanks to the support of people like you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Took my kids to an art exhibit, gave them markers and . . . . .

So . . . I took my kids to an art exhibit, put markers in their hands and then told them to draw on the exhibit pieces.

But don't worry. That's what we were supposed to do. :0D Did I have you worried? Remember Critter's creator, Ian Sands? He has an interactive art exhibit up at the Halle Cultural Arts Center in downtown Apex, NC. It's brilliant. The kids didn't want to leave. Ian has found a way to involve the art patrons in a new way. It's fun-tab-ulous.

Just in case you can't read the sign, it says, "This exhibit contains many interactive pieces. Loosen up and enjoy yourself."

Speaking of Critter, You need to pop on over to Angela's blog. She has more great photo's of Critter in Canada. Now, here's an interesting tid-bit of info. In the picture below, Angela took Critter to see Robert Bateman (not Batman) a world-famous artist. As it turns out, Robert Bateman was a huge influence on Ian Sands in his high school years. Ian told me that some of the sketches that he used to get into art school were his Batemen-influenced sketchtes. Neat how things come around, huh? It makes you think that maybe there is some sort of order to this cRaZy world, huh? Not only did Critter get his picture taken w/ Mr. Bateman but he also signed him as an honorary Critter host. ~squeal!~

But seriously, you need to go to Angela's blog to read the whole story. You can either click on the picture or click here to beam yourself over to her blogship.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jedi Master Kitty says "Go ahead, haz a sip!"

lolcats - Caption a Kitten -

Today's inspiration comes from Jedi Master Kitty and Thomas Edison. Jedi Master Kitty wants to get you into shape! He doesn't want you to simply have a sip of success. He wants you to BE a SIP.

What is a SIP?

I'm glad you asked.

S uccess
I n
P rogress

Thomas Edison said, "Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

Jedi Master Kitty is training me to be a SIP and not give into discouragement. Who want's to be a SIP too?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some training to do with one tough Jedi Master.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I hate it when my antiques hurl me into the space/time continuum . . .

Depressed teen, Martin Conway didn't like it much either. Martin lives in the shadows of an alcoholic father, an overcritical mother and an over-achieving sister. What makes is worse is that everyone hopes that he will measure up to his namesake; a WWII hero of a Grandfather. But Martin can't measure up. He makes poor grades in school, has few friends and when he is picked on by a group of boys at school, he ends up suspended for something that he didn't do. It turns out that he has more in common with his alcoholic father and his mentally ill uncle more than his grandfather.

Everything changes when his mystical grandmother dies and leaves him her antique radio from the 1940's. As he falls asleep to the radio static, he is transported back in time to WWII Where a a boy named Jimmy is pleading for his help, although he's not exactly sure what he needs Martin to do. . . . yet.

This book was a pleasant surprise. I picked it up at the library on a whim. I luv, luv, luv it when that happens!

Book characterization: I like how the characters in this book are believable. They are all flawed yet have their own endearing traits. This book gently explores alcoholism, depression and mental illness in a positive way. I would recommend this book for children facing such issues.

Voice: I think the main characters voice was a little weak. He used several words that I wouldn't expect a teenage boy to use. However that didn't take away (much) of my enjoyment of the voice. I cared about the character and his circumstances. I loved the voice of the WWII boy, Jimmy. I felt like I got a good sense of who he was and his perspective.

The underlying drive of the book: I think this is what sets this book apart from other time-travel/historical fiction books. The underlying question asks, "What do you think makes one man a disgrace and another one a hero?" The story explores how some of those who have been deemed "great" may not be as wonderful as we would like to think. Likewise, those who we tend to look down our noses at may actually be the ones who come through for us in the end.

On a scale of 1 LUV to 5 LUVS, I rate it 4Luvs! <3 <3 <3 <3

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find an old radio and see where (and when) it will take me.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Do you NaNo? Mini NaNo? PBWriMO? . . . . plus see critter trying on costumes

I did NaNo WriMo (for those of you not familiar with the term NaNo WriMo stands for National Novel Writing month) about two years ago. It was fun, but the story ended up being a flop. That was a huge disappointment. I may try it again another year. For now, I'm just trying to figure out how to fit "writing" into my schedule. I miss it. It's my "ME" time. My "therapy" time. My FuN time. Plus, I HAVE to write. If I get out of story writing for too long it makes me feel all wOnKy and causes me to type too many capital letters.

So . . . instead of diving into writing a whole new novel this November, I decided to set a goal that was more doable for my current situation. I'm taking 2 hours 3 mornings a week where I wrap myself up in my cozy local coffee shop while the kids are at school in order to dedicate time to finish my current novel. Hopefully it will become a habit and I can keep it up beyond November.

I only have about 5 more chapters left in my current novel, but it feels like much more. Wish me luck in trying to tackle that goal and being able to stay true to my scheduled writing times. It has felt so good to get out and write (and drink coffee) again.

So, how about you? Are you doing NaNo or another variation of it? Or, has the craziness inspired you to set another type of goal?

In other Critter news, you HAVE to HAVE to HAVE to read Angela's blog re: Critter's Halloween. He got to try on all kinds of costumes. It's Adora-sterical! (I just made that word up. I think I like it.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Critter has made it to his last destination!

Critter has made it to Canada with Angela Ackerman over at The Bookshelf Muse. This is the grand finale of his world-wide tour before he is auctioned off for St. Jude. I understand that Angela has lots of fabu-tastic stuff in store for him. Why don't you go on over to to her blog and see how Critter adjusted to Canadian life in the Ackerman home. He's very sociable. He seems to make friends wherever he goes.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

And the Winner is . . . .

The winner of the Sweetheart of Prosper County is . . . . .

Carol Baldwin!!!!

Congrats Carol!

Contact me at ChristyEvers (at) att (dot) net , with your snail mail address.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Also . . . . You need to clickity-click your way over to Ellen Oh's blog so you can see what Critter has been up to. He been getting into trouble with his new friend, Zombie Buddy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Greetings: coming out of my world of ChAoS for a book give away

Hello! From my world of chaos to yours. I'm coming out of hiding for a long overdue post and book giveaway. Critter has recently been to visit Jill S. Alexander in Texas. You may remember my post about Jill and our serendipitous first meeting. You can visit Jill's blog to read about his visit by clicking HERE.

In honor of Jill's Critter Hosting awesomeness I'm giving away a signed copy of her fabulous book THE SWEETHEART OF PROSEPER COUNTY. It has heart, humor and a strong character voice.

Let me tell you. . . this book is a gem. I stayed up late; laughing, crying . . . copying down snippets of her writing in my little "favorite-quote-collection-book." Most books I read will only have one or two quotes that I decide to write in my little collection book. Jill's book took up 3 pages! Her writing is just that good!

Let me give you an example: Here's a brilliant passage where the main character is describing the town Mayor. It's brilliant because she describes him by describing the people around him. You get a sense of who he is by learning about his relationships with others.

"In addition to his swanky ride, Mayor Nesmith had a money-blowing wife, four whiney rugrats, and the hots for my momma. She avoided him like poison ivy."

Let me say it again . . . Brilliant. And entertaining to boot!

You have to read the book! I believe it so much that I bought 2 copies. One for me and one for a lucky winner.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win. You can gain extra entry points for commenting on Jill's blog, linking this contest to your blog, twitter, facebook or any other sort of social media and becoming (or being) a fan of Critter on Facebook. It will be a big help if you tell me, in the comments, which of these things you have done.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Mockingjay Winners!!!!

A great big, huge THNX to everyone who commented and sperad the word about Critter. I wish I had more books to give away to show my appreciation.

Since I only have two . . . it's time to announce the lucky winners.

Copy #1 goes to WordwrangerNC (Donna)


Copy #2 goes to Llehn

You can contact me at ChristyEvers (at) att (dot) net with your snail mail address.


Friday, September 3, 2010

2, Yes. TWO!!! Mockingjay copies giveaway!!!!

Critter at the Heart and Soul Ball, SCBWI LA

OK, I know Critter has had the majority of my blog time. But it's well deserved, don't cha think?

For those of you just tuning in . . . Critter is the bad-butt (family friendly word choice aptly chosen) flat-Stanley of children's literature blogs. He has been traveling since the fall of 2009 and is currently on his final leg of his travels. When his travels are complete, he will be auctioned off for the children of St. Jude.

Just an FYI, St. Jude runs on an operating budge of 1.5 million dollars a day, funded mostly by donations. ~gasp~ Yep. Makes me feel guilty ordering my daily Starbucks. I'm hoping Critter will be able to make a good dent in at least one day of operations. I need you to help me.

So . . . I figure . . . even if you don't have a ton of money to bid on such a fabulous piece of art, we are in a era of Twitter, Face book and blogs. If you help me get the word out re: Critter and his cause perhaps we, together, can find the people/groups who have the available funds and big-heartedness to make a generous donation to Critter's cause.

So . . . please, if you've got the time please follow Critter on his destination and let others know about his cause well. You can also leave comments on the blogs of people who are hosting Critter to show your support.

Currently Critter is with Cynthia Chapman Willlis in NJ.
Next he will visit Jill S. Alexander in Texas
From there he will go to Ellen Oh in DC
The Grand Finale will be in good ol' Canada with Angela Ackerman.
(insert Rocky theme song here) then the auction.

I want to thank everyone who has supported Critter thus far. Be sure to visit my side bar to see where Critter has been in the last year. Not to mention his brilliant creator, Ian Sands and his interview with the Texas Sweethearts.

You can also become a fan of Critter on Facebook by clicking here and then clicking on the "become a fan" button.

Kids lit peopel RaWk!!!!!!

Critter says he loves you! He thinks that you're all RaWk Stars.

In order to show my appreciation for those willing to help me get the word out, I'm holding a giveaway for 2 . . . that's right TWO copies of the last book of The Hunger Games Trilogy. The recently released Mockingjay.

I will give away two copies to two people who will comment on Cynthis'a blog re: Critter, blog, tweet, face book, be a fan on face book, or use any other social media to promote Critter. You have my permission to use info or pictures on my blog to explain critter's purpose.

you gain 1 entry for each attempt you make to promote critter, so please make sure to mention them all. I want you to get all the credit that you deserve, so in the comments, let me know how you helped me promote Critter.

You have until Tuesday Sept. 7th to comment. I will announce the 2 winners on Wed. Sept 8th

Also, please leave an e-mail or a way that I can contact you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Andy, Annie and tomatoes

This was my clock. OK. Maybe not the EXACT clock. But this was my clock when I was 4 years old, maybe younger. Now someone is selling it for a ton of $$$ on e-bay. Anyway . . . when the alarm went off it said, "Andy, Andy, please wake up, it's time to start our day." (or something like that.) If there's any more to it, I don't remember.

I remember this clock because my mom was at work and my dad and brother were outside shoveling the Chicago snow. I was in the house all by myself. Sure. My dad and brother were technically "there" but in a 4 year old mind, I was in the house . . . ALONE!!!!! I remember grabbing this clock and a few tomatoes from the refrigerator and hiding under my bed.

Cartoons had taught me well. The clock told me when mom should be home. The tomatoes were to throw at an intruder. I was set!!!

I love this memory! I'm even contemplating buying this stupid clock!

Can anyone else remember their irrational childhood moments? I'd love to hear them!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Critter-inspired Giveaway!

This has been a fun blog week! Fist it started out by lil ol' me winning an ARC giveaway on PJ Hoover's blog for the book "Girl Parts" YaY! I love winning books.

And starting today . . . . Author Tina Ferraro is offering a Critter-inspired giveaway!!!

Tina is the author of "Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress," "How to Hook a Hottie," and "ABC's of Kissing Boys" Not to mention, she's also a sweet-cutie-patootie as well.

Go on over to Tina's blog to show some luv for Tina, Critter and St. Jude, and win a chance for a free book or a 1st chapter critique from a fabulous author on top of it all!

Don't forget to become of Critter on Facebook! Click here to go to his FB fan page.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

whooo hoooo!

Critter and I met up with Jacqui Robbins at SCBWI LA. Here's Jacqui giving Critter some luv!

Critter has been to visit Jacqui Robbins in MI. She's starting to post about some of the Critter mayhem in her house. Plus, she called me a "cool person." I think I love Jacqui. (In a totally non-weird way, of course.) I tend to favor people who call me "cool"

anyway, Click here to see what Critter and Jacqui have been up to.

And while your waiting for Jacqui's posts, you might like to know that Critter is on his way to visit YA author, Tina Ferraro. I hear she's taking him to Vegas. whooo hooooo!

Friday, August 13, 2010

You never know who you'll meet. More SCBWI LA

Remember my crazy-canceled/delayed flight from DFW to LAX? ( previous post) Well . . . there's more.

You see, at first, when I got on the original (canceled flight) I was supposed to have a window seat. I ADORE window seats (despite the bathroom dilemma) I like the view and I like having a surface to lay my head and snooze. What can I say? A moving plane is like a rocking cradle to me.

Anyway . . .

I approached my coveted window seat. I saw a man, a woman then and baby. A cute, friggin' baby sucking on a pacifier (in my seat). uggggghhhhh!!!!

"Would you mind switching seats with me?" said the man.

Crap! Now I'll be sitting in the Hell-of-all-middle-seats! "Of course. It's no problem." If only I was the angel in my thoughts like I was the angel of my words.

I would've been a heartless soul to refuse. I couldn't. The angel of words won. The angel of thoughts repeatedly stabbed the back of my eyeballs.

So. I settled in between a nice woman and a young lad several rows back. (in the middle seat)

I blew up my inflatable travel pillow. Adjusted my i-pod. (in the middle seat) Did I mention middle seat?

The nice woman next to me snapped her head in my general direction and said, "Stop it!"

Stop it?

OK. So, I wondered if maybe Critter was up to some of his Critter-tricks. He's a bit ornery, you know.

But then she says (in the most adorable Texas twang) "I'm so sorry, hon. I'm not talkin' to you. My son is traveling with me and he's pokin' me from behind."

awwwwww! She was so adorable! I wanted to pinch her cheeks! But I didn't. I have some self control, don't cha'know.

"That's funny stuff." I replied. Truly relieved that I wasn't sitting next to a stuffity'uppity window-seater, and thankful for the comedy relief. I liked this woman from the very start.

But then, the flight was canceled.

We reboarded 3 (or more) hours later.

I sat next to the nice lady with the Texas Twang once more. But that was OK, because I already liked her.

We giggled at the loud-mouth braggard sitting in the row in front of us. What can I say? We were loopy from the plane delays and flight changes. We must've been easily amused.

I liked her, even though I didn't know her. We talked, but about nothing in particular. Simply pleasant company.

Fast forward to the hotel. . . .

I'm standing in line to check into my room for the SCBWI LA conference and who do I see? It's the nice lady with the twang from the plane.

"Oh!" She said, "If I had known you were coming here, you could've shared a cab with me and my son!"

Nice! Such a nice lady. Wow! We were at the same conference. How amazing. What a small world.

Fast forward once more to the next morning:
. . . I'm sitting in the opening session of the conference. The faculty of SCBWI is introducing themselves on stage.

Who do I see introduce herself as one of the faculty authors? You guessed it!!!! The nice lady with the twang, the one who sat next to me on the plane and whispered "stop it!" in my general direction (although not directed to me)

We spoke several times throughout the conference. Her name is Jill S. Alexander (BTW) She's sweet as pie. I swear, children's literature people are the nicest people on the whole entire earth!

Consequently, I bought her book, The Sweetheart of Prospect County, and I read it in 2 nights. That's a big deal, seeing that I read it during the conference. They keep you going at conferences like this, so it was no easy feat to stay up in order to read a book. However, I read Jill's book. I laughed. I cried. I stayed up way later than I should have. As a matter of fact, I bought a book for myself and I bought an extra to use as a book giveaway, here! On my blog! Might I dub Jill as the Sweetheart of Children's Literature? She deserves it!

Prepare for a book giveaway! Not today, but in the near future.

Not only has Jill agreed to do a future interview, but she will also be a Critter host as well. Stay tuned.

More to come.

Here's a picture of Jill, Critter and her debut novel, The Sweetheart of Prospect county.

I'll blog more about the book, but for now, I have to marvel at our unique meeting. How often does that happen?

I'll tell ya . . . it made the flight delay well-worth it. If you're ever going to get stranded in an airport, Jill is the lady to get stranded with! :0)

The way things work out sometimes . . . it's amazing!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Critter saves the flight from DFW to LA!: The great SCBWI, LA adventure

Our flight was early. Critter is coffee-mad. Can you imagine drinking a cup full of coffee that is 98% of your height? But critter did it. And it paid off. (Critter likes mocha) We had no idea what was about to challenge Critter's energy level.

Our connection in Dallas was delayed as a result of mechanical difficulties. Annoying and yet, I prefer delays over crashing. Crazy. I know. I'm weird that way.

Three hours, two cups of coffee, 8 1/4 cranky employees, two tram rides and three gate changes later . . . we were on our way to LA. Seriously . . . picture 150 people being herded through an airport, parting escalators Exodus-like, complaining that our time was being inconvenienced as opposed to risking our lives in a plane crash.

You might think people would be cranky during a circumstance such as that. No need to worry. Critter saved the day. He pulled his guitar out of his backpack and led the entire flight in rounds of campfire songs and bad 80's ballads and supervised line-dances.

Everyone agreed. It was the best flight they had ever taken. Some airline employees were ready to quit their jobs and join a circus. But Critter's enthusiasm reminded them of what was really important in life and dubbed it as the best work-day EVER!!!!

Yay, Critter saved the day!

Foam board is truly amazing. Isn't it?

Critter was pretty tuckered out after all of that rabble-rousing. He needed to kick back when we finally checked in. Here's a picture of Critter chillin' with his i-pod. (He likes Toby Mac)

This is Critter chillin' on our balcony.

You can become a fan of Critter on Facebook by clicking here

More Critter in LA stories to come . . . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Critter's last days in the Virgin Islands

Bish has posted pictures of Critter's last days in the Virgin Islands. Go on over to her blog and check him out by clicking here! He even got to drive a boat!

I had Bish send Critter back to me because I'm taking him to SCBWI LA next week to be my date. (shhhh! don't tell my husband.) More updates to come!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ella's Tiger Tots Tournament 2010

What summer activities inspire your imagination? I'm having the bestest summer!!!! Part 1

What inspires your imagination on summer vacation?

OK, I've had 3 young children in my life for 8 years now. It's great, it's wonderful. I love being a mom. But it can also mean no time for breaks. Vacations and holidays are more work than usual. Full time moms don't get vacations. They just get more work. At least when they kids are in school, I can have a few hours to get things done around the house. When they're home . . . that just means more messes are being made for me to clean up. I can't keep up. I love being a mom. I hate the whirlwind housekeeping. I love spending time with the kids, but I hate how responsibility to do what I'm "supposed to do," gets in the way of enjoying of motherhood.

So, in the past years, summer vacation wasn't exactly a vacation for good ol' worn-out mom.

HOWEVER! This year is so much different. The kids are more independent, not as whiny, which means we can go more places and actually enjoy them (mostly) tantrum free!!!!!

So far, this has been the most enjoyable summer that I've had in a long, long while. I must add, since this is a writing blog, writing IS related to my bestest summer in a long long time. You see, I find that my creativity is spurred by new experiences along with being able to mentally digest them. I've been able to do that this summer. whoooo hoooooo! New things! Time to think! *insert happy giggles here*

There's stories, stories everywhere! I've done and seen several things this summer that have inspired my imagination. I'm sharing them here because I know my dear, sweet blogger friends will understand. You guys are great!!!!

Here we go! But this is just one summer-fun-thing. More is to come.

The lighthouse in the background is on Cape Look Out, NC. My oldest daughter learned about the lighthouses in NC ( our home state) in school this past year, so we surprised her by taking her to see her favorite. (she hugged us when she realized where we were! Good parent points acquired.) It's a remote island. Hardly anything is there. Just a light house, keepers quarters that doubles as a museum and walkways to allow visitors to walk among the island w/o disturbing it's natural surroundings. There are no restaurants, no shops. Only park rangers and visitors who come by boat. Guests are told to collect their own trash, since there is no trash pick up. Boaters anchor on the sound side of the island. There were at least a dozen private boats idle on the waters when we arrived.

Our ferry captain instructed us to remove our shoes in order to disembark in the 5 inches of water to get to shore. It depends on who you are. Maybe that sounds like a nightmare to some. To me . . . it was awesome!!!! I love getting away from the tourism, the cookie cutter money pits. Something more natural. Give me sand in my toes, even in my hair! Let me not care if I have make up on! yippeeeeee! FREEEEEEEEDOM!!!!!!!

Anyway . . . the picture above is my youngest daughter holding a conch shell that I found while swimming off the coast of Cape Lookout. I've never found a complete shell of this size anywhere! EVER! I was so excited! Once I found it, it was like a drug. I was determined to go back in the water and find at least 2 others (so each kid could have one) Unfortunately, after thinking I found another shell, only to have it pinch me on my little toe (it was really a crab) Owie! I kept searching. But when the rip tide started to pull me in, plus time for the ferry back to the mainland grew closer . . . I had to concede. One shell was all I could have (for now) But I was happy. Mark this as a highlight of my trip. But one day I'm going back to Cape Lookout, just so I can find more conch shells. :0) No kidding. You have no idea how many shells I collected as a kid. None even close to the size of this mack-daddy! I want (need) to go back. Large shells will be mine! Mine I say! Mwa-haaaa-haaaa-haaa-haaa!

This is my family standing in front of the "ferry" that we took to Cape Lookout. Can a 13 passenger boat really be called a ferry? I'm thinking it should really be called a "cash cow"

See the horses in the background? Those are wild horses on Shackleford Island. Those are Spanish horses whose ancestors were shipwrecked in the 1500's and have survived on the island ever since. Our Ferry captain, Captain Calico Jack, made sure to drive us close to the horses before taking us to shore on Cape Lookout. Thank You Calico Jack. Thank you for not just being concerned about time and schedules. Thank you for diverting from your route so we could have a memory! I've never seen wild horses in their element before. What a story! Surviving remnants from a shipwreck in the 1500's. How have the horses been able to survive? What happened to the people who were transporting them? Stories . . . stories . . . everywhere. I want to know! I guess I'll have to go back for research sometime too. Not just conch shells.

There's been so much, this summer. But it's too much to share in one blog.

Thanks for reading about one of my great summer memories. Now let me hear about yours.

I want to know. What summer activities have inspired your imagination? Past or present.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Picture of Critter are up!

Bish just put up picture of Critter on her blog! Go check'em out and be sure to leave a reply to let her know that you stopped by! Just click here.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What do you say to an agent or editor when you don't have credentials?

First of all . . . we must have our priorities. Critter is in the Virgin Islands. He's traveling for the sake of St. Jude, so please follow him during his travels and let others know about Critter's cause. He'll be auctioned for St. Jude when his adventures are complete. Did you know that St. Jude operates mostly on donations alone. And that their DAILY operating costs are 1.5 million dollars per day!!!!! Yowza Yikesers!!!! So . . . spread the word about Critter and his cause so that we may be more likely to reach those who have the heart plus the resources to help the children of St. Jude.

In other writerly news . . . this is an awesome blog re: what to include in a query if you lack credentials.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Critter is this weeks Featured Sweetheart!

Critter was interviews by authors PJ Hoover, Jo Whittemore and Jessica Lee Anderson on the Texas Sweethearts blog. Go, Critter, Go!

He was also featured over at Cynsations, on Cynthia Leitich Smith's blog.

In other news, I haven't been blogging much or visiting blogs much for a really really good reason. I've had a request for a full manuscript and I've been working hard at tightening it up once more before sending it out. Wish me luck! :0)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Doing the Happy Dance! - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

I will temporarily cease doing my happy, arm-waving, boo-tay-shaking dance (the kind that would embarrass my kids) so that I may share my exciting news.

For Mother's Day, My hubby told me that I was going to SCBWI LA summer conference. ~squee!~
I must confess, I hadn't asked to go. Quite honestly I never thought that I could justify the expense when I didn't have a published book yet.

But do you want to know what my darling man said to me? (this is more a gift than the conference expenses.)

He said that I am talented and as long as I'm persistent, I will be published. He said that I needed to live as if I were already published. Not just with consistent writing times, but by going to conferences and doing things that I would do if I were already published. I must add, that my hubby doesn't let go of family $$$$ easily unless it's justified. It took him 3 years to decide if it was worth the money to buy an ipod. True story. So, if he didn't really believe in me, he wouldn't so easily send me out to LA for 5 days.

I gotta say, it feels good to have someone believe in me that much.

Consequently, I also feel more motivated to keep going, because I don't want to disappoint. :0)

Give me a holla if you're going to be there. We'll have to meet up and have coffee and chat.

Now, if you will excuse me I have more bootie-shaking-happy-dancing to do. Oh, and I have more writing to do too. :0D

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Jennifer Rees, editor at Scholastic, talks about "Voice"

SCBWI Chapel Hill Writing Retrea

Numero uno: Jennifer Rees is an top-notch, classy editor.

Numero two-ish: Jennifer Rees is cute as a button . . . isn't she?

Numero Three-o: She also has an AWESOME pair of boots! The girl has it ALL! Brains. Style. Cutie-pie-ness . . . is there anything more?

Editors and agents stress the importance of "voice" in a manuscript. Writers strive to find their "voice" and yet there are no easy definitions for this monster they call VOICE. I love listening to different professionals in the industry share their thoughts on what "Voice" is. After years of listening and digesting this info, I think I'm finally starting to catch on. No. I don't have a clear and easy definition. However, I will share the basic 10 points that Ms. Rees mentioned as being the elements that influence your voice.

1) Character
2) Manner of Expression
3) Narrator
4) Dialogue
5) Setting
6) Perspective
7) Tone
8) Genre
9) You
10) Story

In attempt to digest the things Ms. Rees said about each of the 10 elements, I came home and tried to find a small section of a book that I thought embodied all 10 elements. It's not that easy to do. There are some books that are easy to hear voice. Books like Savvy and Dovey Coe. I wanted to find a section that wasn't quite as colloquial. One where the voice doesn't come from accent or regional flare. Finally, I settled on The Hunger Games. I thought it fitting since Ms. Rees was the editor for this book. Here's a short scene that I love and see as including all of the above influences.

This is a scene from Chapter 5 when Katnis first meets with her prep team for her makeover.

Venia and Octavia, a plump woman whose entire body has been dyed a pale shade of pea green, rub me down with a lotion that stings but then soothes my raw skin. Then they pull me from the table, removing the thin robe I've been allowed to wear off and on. I stand there, completely naked, as the three circle me, wielding tweezers to remove any last bits of hair. I know I should be embarrassed, but they're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet.

The three step back and admire their work. "Excellent! You almost look like a human being now!" Says
Flavius and they all laugh.

I force my lips up into a smile to show how grateful I am. "Thank you," I say sweetly. "We don't have much cause to look nice in District Twelve."

This wins them over completely. "Of course, you don't you poor darling!" Says Octavia clasping her hands together in distress for me.

"But don't worry," says Venia. "By the time Cinna is through with you, you're going to be absolutely gorgeous!"

"We promise! You know, now that we've gotten ride of all the hair and filthy, you're not horrible at all!" Says Flavius encouragingly. "Let's call Cinna!"

They dart out of the room. It's hard to hate my prep team. They're such total idiots, Ad yet, in an odd way I know that they're sincerely trying to help me.

So, How does this one section envelope all 10 elements?

First I see how the Characters, their perspectives of each other, the manner in which they speak, their actions, the setting the tone they use w/ one another . . . it all blends together making this scene vivid in my minds eye. The tension. The contrast of how each side sees the other as barely being human at all. We are in the narrators head, so we know what she is thinking, however, we don't have to be in the Prep teams thoughts to get an idea of how they think and feel. Their actions and dialogue are clear. Though we see human flaws in each of the characters we also see glimpses of good intentions.

Second, the genre and Suzanne Collins unique story line and her story telling skills all add to the flavor of the voice.

So, make a mental note: editors don't see voice as simply being an accent. That may be only one part of your voice, if it fits the story.

INSIDER INFO ALERT!!!!: Ms. Rees shared a little info about the earlier MS of The Hunger Games. She said that at first the story was written in past tense. However, that didn't seem to work. It tended to cut down on the tension which is so crucial to the story line. So, Ms. Collins rewrote the story in present tense and Voila! That goes to show . . . don't be afraid to rewrite in a different tense. You never know what will work best until you try.

If you have anything to add to share how you view the "voice" in this section, I'd love to hear it. I'd also love to hear any insights on what you think about "voice" outside of this section as well. It's a wild beast to master!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

REfreshed, REfueled, REtreated!

Uh-huh, oh yeah! That's right! I'm a new girl now. My writing confidence has been lower than a tick on the belly of a worm. But this weekend . . . Well, let's just say that I'm still flying high from being refreshed and refueled. It also doesn't hurt that Jennifer Rees, (the editor of The Hunger Games) critiqued my work and had very nice things to say about it. Things that will keep me going for quite some time.

The guest speakers in attendance were: Jennifer Rees from scholastic, Bruce Hale, Author of the Chet Gecko series among other books, and Stacy Cantor from Walker books.

It was an amazing retreat, restful and yet productive. Pure nerve-soothing, confidence-boosting fabulousness.

As I digest the things that I learned, I'll post about them here. So many great things. Enough to possibly give me blogging material for the rest of the year! In addition to Critter postings, of course.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Critter in his element!

I'm so stoked! Rena took Critter on an awesome outting!

Check it out at Rena's blog.

YaY, Critter!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Creative summer challenge: Embrace your inner Zonkey

Here's my challenge to you for the summer. Just m@ke art! You gotta check out Zonkey It's a site, developed by Critter's creator, Ian Sands. His philosophy is that art is for everyone and need not be only the stuff you see hanging in a gallery. Art should be fun and enjoyed by all.

Here's the way Ian describes it:

"What is Zonkey Art?

Zonkey Art is any art that is public, collaborative and interactive.

Public: Art can be for everybody, not limited to a few people who enter the doors of a gallery. Zonkey art is accessible to anyone.

Collaborative: An artist doesn't have to work alone. Art can be created in pairs, or by small teams or even in large groups.

Interactive: Art doesn't have to be static. Anyone who comes in contact with Zonkey art should be able to add, subtract, move, share, comment, give, take, build, destroy, help, arrange or interact in some way.

Art for Everyone
By Anyone

Have you gotten involved? Create Zonkey Art and post it on
The Art of Zonkey Street Facebook Page!

So . . . you should do this! It's fun! And for writers, it can boost your creativity and help you find your muse. Check out Zonkey for idea's. (Critter is one of the featured Zonkey projects on the web-site!) But feel free to create your own idea.

Come on! I'm a Zonkey, he's a Zonkey . . . wouldn't you like to be a Zonkey too?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Winner! Winner!

And now, the lucky winners (insert drum roll, disco ball and yodeling monkey here.)

The winner of 10 Ways to Make my Sister Disappear is

Linda Anderson!

The winner of Prada and Prejudice is


Congratulations. I will contact you via the e-mail addresses that you gave on the entry form.


Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's a 2 book giveaway!

I'm Spring-giddy. The trees are budding, the air is warm, Critter is gaining lots of friends on Facebook and I feeling like giving books away. I have this mental image of me in a white cotton dress, skipping through the forest with a basket full of . . . not flower petals . . . . BOOKS! As I whistle a tune I toss books in the air for all those around me to enjoy.

Back to reality. I'm in my office wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt, I'm sitting on a bed (yes, I have a bed in my office instead of a desk. Gotta problem with that?) and I have a blog instead of a basket. This is as close as it gets.

The books in my spring basket:

Prada and Prejudice, by Mandy Hubbard and Ten Ways to Make My Sister Disappear, by Norma Fox Mazer, were both part of the book pack that I won from Christina Farley. I hate to just let a couple good books collect dust on my shelf, so I'm sharing the love with you.

I'll choose a random winner Next week on Wed. So be sure to come back and see if you are one of the two winners.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Critter's Big Announcement, revealed!

Critter feels that it is now time to reveal his purpose in life. He doesn't want to return to NC to sit at my desk. He's experienced too much. Met so many great people and done so many fabulous things. His little painted eyes have been opened to the perils of this world and he wants to give a little something back. He has decided that after his 18th visit, he will return to NC as planned, but instead of being my desk mascot, he'd rather be auctioned off and the entire winning bid will go to the children at St. Jude.

And that's not all. Critter now has a fanpage on facebook! Please join his fanpage and cheer Critter along.

A little background info re: Critter:

Critter fancies himself to be the mascot of Children's Lit Bloggers. He has visited several Children's authors, illustrators and writers such as: (also listed on my sidebar)

Texas with author PJ Hoover
NC with debut novelist Beth Revis
South Korea with writer Christian Farley
New England with writer Nandini Bajpai
Chicago with writer Kelly Pollark
California with illustrator MG Higgins
Montana with PB author, Rena Jones

Critter has 8 more visits to go. When he returns to me, he will be auctioned off. The full amount of the highest bid will be donated to St. Jude.

I estimate that Critter will return in the Fall of 2010. Until then, we need to get as many people aware of Critter and his cause for St. Jude. The only way to do that is to get as many people to follow Critter's adventures as possible.

Here's how you can help:

1) Follow Critter's Adventures and blog, tweet or FB about Critter.

2) Offer your blog to host a Critter visit.

3) Suggest this fan page to your friends.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

shhhhh! This post is top secret! Read at your own peril!

Listen very carefully. This is important. The world as you know it could be at stake depending on how you answer these questions.
1) Do you think that having a talent for breaking things could quite possibly be the best talent ever known to man?

2) Would you risk your life to rescue a bag of sand?

3) Do you think a sword is more high-tech than a gun?

If you answered "NO" to any or all of these questions, I have bad news for you. You are under the control of the Evil Librarians. If you want to know the truth about how your world is under the control of the Evil Librarians, then you must read the memoirs of Alcatraz Smedry. This information is only available because his story is being published as fiction under the title Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. Alcatraz has been forced to use the pseudonym Brandon Sanderson.

Hurry, read the book before the Evil Librarians discover what this book is REALLY about and all the copies will be pulled off the shelves and destroyed! Hurry! Before it's too late.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Adventures of Critter Continue (insert dramatic music here)

Critter is going to the Land of Critters to visit the Queen of Critters. Who is that and where is that? You ask. Why. . . None other than Montana to visit the home and blog of Rena Jones the author of Lemur Troops and Critter groups.

Critter is going to have sooooo much fun!

Thanks again to MG for being a fabulous Critter host.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

It's time for Critter to move on.

It is now time for Critter to find a new home. Go on over to MG Higgins blog to have a chance for Critter to visit. You. There are still 8 more slots open for Critter's adventures. I can't wait to see where he goes next! :0)

P.S. Today is MG's Birthday, and Critter made her a cake. Isn't he a sweetie? Be sure to give her some B-day wishes.

Critters, Critters everywhere!

In other Critter news, Rena Jones is hosting a book give away on her blog for her book Lemur Troops & Critter Groups. Check out her blog and see how you can win a copy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Critter's last CA adventure!

MG Higgins showed Critter a great time in CA. You need to stop by MG's blog to see all of the pictures and hear about their adventures together. Also, MG will post details about how to enter yourself to be Critters next destination host. He still has several stops left! Go Critter Go!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Critter is Livin' the life in CA!

He saw the coast, visited the site of a Jurassic Park stampede. Has an awesome valise!
MG Higgins has been showing Critter a the good life in CA!

Please keep following Critter and let his travels be known, because it's in the works that he'll be traveling for a good cause. The more people know about him, the more valuable he'll be for his end purpose.

Go Critter Go! Even though you're a tad bit precocious.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dear blog comment-spammers

Dear blog comment-spammers,

You have forced me to have to screen all replies before they are posted. (thumbs in my ears, fingers wiggling and tongue out blowing a big fat raspberry at you!)

My apologies to all my blog buddies that don't need screening.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Critter is going to California!

It looks like Critter is on his way to sunny California. I wish I could go with him! He'll visit with MG Higgins! I can't wait to see what they'll be up to! :0)

Will you be the next host for Critter?

It's time for Critter to move from Illinois to somewhere new. Critter has all kinds of interests. Rural farms, City life . . . he loves it all! United States, International . . . All he really wants is for someone to want him, take pictures and blog. (he's a bit co-dependant. Love is all he needs. He's a Beatles fan. What can I say). He will love anywhere that he can travel. Vistit Kelly's blog, where Critter rocked back stage with a band, went sledding and fate saved him from hungry dinosaurs and Critter eating spiders by the skin of his fangs!

We're also working a possible humanitarian efforts for Critter upon his return. If this works out . . . we'll need the help of every possible Children's lit bloggers that we can whip up.

For now; blog, twitter and facebook about Critter's travels. Eventually, he'll be up to a greater good (possibly auctioned for) Saint Jude, Haiti, homeless?. The more that know about him, the better. We just have to work it out the final details.

More to come!

Monday, February 8, 2010

My article in the Carolina Parent Baby Guide. YaY!

Hey look! Click here to view my article in the 2010 Carolina Parent Baby Guide, Baby Basics on a Budget. You'll have to flip over to page 17, I'm not able to link the article directly.