Thursday, June 30, 2011

July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop

What is a blog hop?
A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list. The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!
All you have to do is post the Author and/or Book Spotlights the Families Matter Editors will send you. Promote them during the month of the July ’11 World of Ink Virtual Tour on any social network you have. Tweet it once a day, share on facebook and then follow others back that leave you a comment. Easy!

Hop Rules:
1.      Follow the Top link of the hop! Host: Families Matter
2.      Grab the button and put it in a post, sidebar, or blog hop page and let us know where it is here in the comments section. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win, Win for everyone!

Create your own banner at!

Book Contest Rules:
·         One entry for each comment left per author blog stop. (must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com.
 Ask a question – get a bonus entry per author blog stop.

 World of Ink Tour Schedule for "Brush Barry Brush" by Linda Valderrama R.D.H

World of Ink Tour Schedule for "Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent's Guide" by Clayton P. Thomas

July ’11 World of Ink HOP is open
  Sunday June 26th at 12:00am to Saturday July 2nd at 11:59pm MST!

If you want to become a World of Ink Host and do a review or interview shoot me an e-mail:   

Please make sure you Follow the top link of hop if you want to link up! Go to to join!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm a Guest Blogger on The Children's and Teens' Book Connection

Picking the Right Words for a Picture Book by VS Grenier
First, let me say there are four types of picture books.

Story Books: Most of us grew up on this traditional picture book. This type of picture book is by far the most popular and is usually fiction based. You will have a series of events with strong character development. Story books tend to have more text on each page vs. other types of picture books.

Concept Books: This type of picture book helps to promote a child’s understanding. You see this type of picture book for toddlers or as a “My First” book series. These books can be fiction or nonfiction and have very few words. The illustrations tend to be the focus.

Novelty Books: A great example of this type of book is The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This picture book relies on some short of gimmick to tell the book’s story.

Modern Picture Books: This type of picture book is a lot like the story picture book, but uses both the illustrations and context to tell the full story. This type of book is more character driven vs. plot driven and is supported by the illustrations.

Now here is where the hard part comes in. All picture books have one thing in common. The format, also known as the page count (24 to 32 pages). This tight format only gives you so much room to tell your story. It is important your wording also keeps the readers interest, the pacing of the storyline and can stand on its own. A great way to do this is by making a mock-up of your book. This way you can have a sense of how your story will build and flow and if you have under or over developed your characters. I did this with my book, Babysitting SugarPaw.

To read the full post visit

The World of Ink Network: Author Rhonda Fisher on Blog Talk Radio’s World o...

The World of Ink Network: Author Rhonda Fisher on Blog Talk Radio’s World o...: "Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network Show: The Writing Mama with hosts VS Grenier and Marsha Cook will be chatting with author Rhonda ..."

Monday, June 27, 2011

Biblio Reads | Children's Book Reviews | For ages 0-12: Spotlight Interview with VS Grenier

Biblio Reads | Children's Book Reviews | For ages 0-12: Spotlight Interview with VS Grenier: "Babysitting Sugarpaw - An Interview with VS Grenier - A World of Ink Blog Tour has the privilege of featuring VS Grenie..."

Grow in Creativity with Creative Journaling

What daily practice can help you grow in creativity, both in the arts and in problem solving? Keep a creative journal, and you will amaze yourself with your own innovations. Remember that there is no one right way to keep a journal. Creative journaling is about trying things until you find your own favorite methods of expressing yourself.

First, let yourself off the hook when it comes to having every page picture perfect. Either use a looseleaf and discard the mistakes, or invest in some erasable pens. Better yet, learn to see an occasional mess as an inevitable sign of your own humanness, and nothing to be ashamed of. Mistakes are simply stepping stones in your growth and understanding. Besides, your journal is for you and no one else, unless you decide to make it public. Who cares about an occasional flub?

So don't let perfectionism stop you in your tracks. Now that that's been said, let's consider what it means to be creative in your journal.

POETRY: A journal is a terrific place to write those snips of poetry that come to you from time to time. Don't worry about rhyming or not rhyming. If you like poems that rhyme, let it go. Never mind that rhyming poetry is out of vogue if it works for you. In fact, try a structured rhyme scheme, like a sonnet.

CREATIVE WRITING ASSIGMENTS: If you have dreams of being a published writer, work through writing books in your journal. Do the assignments in your journal and you will be amazed what gems of wit you will have, and all collected in one place, too.

PERSONAL FRUSTRATIONS: Intersperse poems and writing assignments with your frustrating moments. Perhaps on paper, the humor of an impossible situation will begin to emerge. Never underestimate the healing benefit of a sense of humor.

WISHES, HOPES, DREAMS, AND PRAYERS: What would you most like to see happen during your lifetime? Do you dream of business success or fame? Do you long for a relationship with a special person? Do you have altruistic desires, wishing that underprivileged or downtrodden people could have a better life? Is there someone you love who is sick or has an addiction? Pour out your heartfelt desires and prayers for their recovery. Scientists are beginning to document just how much real power there is in prayer.

LISTS: They may not look very creative, but lists make wonderful journal entries. List your goals or your favorite things. List the qualities you adore about your cat. List the decorative changes you'd like to make in your bedroom. List the staples you'd like to always have on hand in your pantry. Of course these are just ideas, but lists can be both creative and practical.

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS: To take time to remember what you have going for you might be the biggest benefit of your journal when it comes to improving your attitude and preserving your mental health. Get creative as you think of things you appreciate. Have you considered the good highways you have to travel? How about that nice quality set of pots and pans you have for cooking for your family? Do you have your own washer and dryer, or one you can access easily? Write down all those little blessings that are so easy to forget.

Remember that there is no one right way of keeping a creative journal. The goal is to find the ways that work the best for you. Let these ideas get your own creative juices flowing, so that your personal journal becomes your very own unique expression of who you are.

Copyright © Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
About Shery: Shery is the creator of WriteSparks!™- a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks!™ Lite for free at

If you want 3 writing *sparks* delivered to you every day for 31 days, check out WriteSparks!™ Daily HERE for info on how to get started -- it's free :o)
Thank you for reading. Keep writing!

Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
WriteSparks!™ creator
= = = = = »» NewsFlash: My book is OUT! «« = = = = =
Kick start your imagination, ignite your creativity, and begin your journey towards becoming an outstanding writer with the help of my book, WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss! (ISBN: 0-9710796-7-6; Trade Paperback, 182pp; Filbert Publishing, Minnesota; March 2004)
When you forward to me your receipt, you'll get 2 e-books to awaken, encourage and nurture the writer inside you, PLUS access to e-mail courses and other goodies! For book excerpts, reviews and complete info, just head on to, the official site of the Weekly Writes book.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Utah Children's Writers: Why Do a Virtual Author/Book Tour?

Utah Children's Writers: Why Do a Virtual Author/Book Tour?: "Many authors are still unsure how effective a virtual blog tour can be. I have been asked many times, before I started offering the World..."

Friday, June 24, 2011

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Book Review: Babysitting Sugarpaw by Children's au...

SFC Blog: Families Matter: Book Review: Babysitting Sugarpaw by Children's au...: "Babysitting SugarPaw Author: VS Grenier Illustrator: Kevin Scott Collier ISBN: 978-1-935268-06-2 Halo Publishing 2009 This is a fu..."

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop: "What is a blog hop? A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their b..."

Turning the Tables: Interview Friday with VS Grenier

I wanted to turn the tables a bit this week and instead of doing an interview on one of the SFC Team members or a fellow writer, I thought I should be the one to be questioned. So to get things started, I’ll answer a few questions I normally ask my guest interviews and then I’ll open it up for you to post questions in the comments section to me. I’ll check in all week to answer them as best I can.

So to start things off, how many children do I have and what are their ages? I have three wonderful children. My oldest is my son, age 15, will be driving sooner than I would like. LOL. My youngest, a baby girl, is almost 16 months and keeps me on my toes. My middle is also a girl, age 6, and is our little monkey/drama queen. Nice combination if you ask me. J  

As a mom, what do I do to help balance my writing life with my family life? I tend to ask this question a lot not just, because I’m a writing mom, but also because this is the most asked question I get as an editor/author. You know during the school months it is pretty easy to balance my day. My two older children are in school so I only have to worry about my baby girl; however, she still takes naps so that is when I do most of my writing/editing. Then at night after about 7pm, I start back up again.

Summer is a bit harder and this one has been the hardest now that I have three kids demanding my time. I find I get maybe one or two hours in the early morning while the kids are still waking up and eating breakfast to answer emails and do some SFC stuff. Then I have to snatch the moments I can during the day. I may get a few minutes here and an hour or so there. Most of my writing/editing is in the late hours of night.

Finding balance is an ever-changing struggle when you have young kids in the house. My suggestion, make a list of your goals, be realistic and don’t stress if you don’t met each one you listed in the time frame you want. Your family is important and writing time will come once the kids get older. Many authors I know didn’t see the success they have now until after their children where grown. Some were lucky (mostly the men) to see it a bit sooner. The point is…do what you can and don’t over work yourself.

How long have I been writing? I would love to say I was born writing. I did write poems in my spare time or when I didn’t want to listen to my teachers in my high school years. I’ve gone back and looked at them after I took some writing courses to see how bad they were…I was surprised, they’re not half bad.

However, I didn’t really start writing until I decided to stay home to raise my kids. This was back in 2005. I only choose to write as a hobby and as you can see…it has become more than that for me. I’ve had over 30 short stories, articles and crafts published and a picture book. I have 3 manuscripts under consideration currently so fingers crossed I get another book contract.

Is my family supportive of my writing? LOL, the main reason I started this blog was to share my family stories of being a writing mama. Lately, I’ve been a bit busy and haven’t been very good about posting on this very subject. Something I plan to change with a weekly post.

To answer the question, yes and no, there are times my kids and husband are very supportive. My hubby and oldest son with help with the girls so I can make deadlines or get contracts signed and sent out. But there are times, when I’ve been working around the clock for weeks, that they start to get a little impatient and demanding of my time. It’s hard if I have things that need to get done, but I stop myself and remember my family comes first. The hardest thing is when my family calls what I do a hobby still. I think sometimes they forget how important what I do is and that I’ve worked hard to become a published author, Chief Editor and founder of SFC Publishing.

Have I had any training to become a writer? Yes, absolutely! I took the basic writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature. I have also taking workshops at conferences and online workshops as well. I also learn a lot from the members of my critique group and the members from the writing originations I belong to.

Now I teach what I’ve learned to others starting their careers as writers at conferences, workshops and for my local state college.

What type of books do I mostly write? I tend to write picture books and YA novels (fantasy and mystery/adventure). I would like to branch into YA romance and memories down the road. I have also played around with a book idea for adults that would be more historical fiction.  

Do my children inspire any of books, characters, or plots? My whole family inspires my storylines. I don’t think I have written many stories where the main plot didn’t come from a real family story. I’m lucky to have a family (both my dad and mom’s extended family) who has passed stories down through the generations. I have a grandma who is really into family history. Oh, the stories she can tell you about my great-great uncle or grandfather. But even my mom, dad, stepfather, stepmom, sisters, brother, husband and kids have enough stories to help inspire me…not to mention my own life.

Is there anything else I would like to share with you about being a “Writing Mama”? Always, that is the main reason for this blog. LOL. No really, I want to say keep writing, asking questions of those you admire and don’t give up when times get hard. Take a break if you need to restart your muse and writing juices, but never give up. I’ve put my personal writing on hold many times. I have even put my company (SFC Publishing) on hold to rest and refocus. There is nothing wrong in saying I need a break, but never give up if this is truly what you want to do. Writing is tough, but the rewards (beyond money) is seeing something you created enjoyed by others.

Now it’s your turn to fire some questions my way. 

Stories for Children Publishing will be touring award-winning author VS Grenier and her book, “Babysitting SugarPaw a picture book about friendship and telling the truth all month long in June 2011.

You can find out more about VS Grenier’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with VS Grenier and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth chatted about Grenier’s picture book, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours.The show aired live June 6, 2011. You can listen on demand at the World of Ink Network site at

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit Stories for Children Publishing at:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The World of Ink Network: It's All About Choice: Getting Back in the Game: c...

The World of Ink Network: It's All About Choice: Getting Back in the Game: c...: "Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network Show: The Writing Mama withhosts VS Grenier and Marsha Cook will be chatting with Herb D. Trainer...."

Building Your Author Platform

An author platform is as important to those established as it is to writers not yet published. Many authors know the importance of building a writing platform. However, many new writers are not sure about building a platform because they feel they have nothing to offer. This is not true. There are many reasons why as a writer (established or not yet published) you need to do this.

·         To build a fan base
·         Spread the word about your book(s)
·         Show you’re an expert in your field
·         Helps you find an agent and/or publisher
·         Builds your online presence
·         Proves your ability to promote and sell your book on a national or international level

I would love to tell you all you have to do is write and leave promotional and marketing concerns to your publisher, agent and publicist, but those days are gone. There is much more expected from writers, beyond a great manuscript. If you are already published, it’s not too late to build your platform and if you’re just starting out…then get started today if you seriously consider yourself a writer.

The first step is to recognize you are a professional. You don’t have to be published, but you do need to be working on becoming published and see yourself as a professional writer and once you’re published keep the momentum going. Your passions are as a writer, to your fans and to the business of writing.

Now, you might be wondering, “What is the best way to build my platform as a writer?” or “How much time is it going to take to build my platform? I need time to write.”

You can spend as little as an hour a week to make a huge difference in your marketing efforts. If you seek avenues suited to your personality and writing goals, you will be infinitely more likely to achieve your dream and build a successful author platform. Building your platform should not, however, be thought of as an “economic leverage point,” but as an extension of your work and passions. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. This will only lead to failure.

With this said, I do want to share some tips and ideas to help you start building your platform. Also, ask others you respect and see has being successful with their platforms on tips. Use what you think will work for you and your work. There is no right or wrong, only your efforts at spreading the word about your writing and passion to do so. Be passionate about your approach; clearly and authentically speak from the heart.

Here are some things to help get you started:

1.      As a writer (published or not) reflect on the best publishing avenues—really ask yourself as a writer what is important to you, who will read your work and the best placement for its success.
2.      Writers are readers. Read in the genres you write in. Writer reviews on those books for your blog, review sites, etc.
3.      Really, understand the publishing industry. Read publisher and editor blogs and articles.
4.      Treat publishers and editors with understanding and respect. Don’t post about them in a negative light on your blog, website or in social groups. Believe it or not, but they do Google your name when you submit work for review.
5.      Don’t thing of writing, reading and the business of writing as a separate divisions or facets of your career. They are all part of the same puzzle.

Once you understand and start applying these things, it is time to start building the avenues in which others will use to learn more about you, your writing and passions.

1.      Create your own website with blogs, forums, newsletters and photos. You can check out my website as an example at
2.      Blog or write for an established website or writing group. I do this and it helps. I write for Utah Children’s Writers and Writers On the Move bi-monthly. I also submit work to Ezine Articles.
3.      Figure out if you have a niche market or how you can create one, and then build your platform around it. I do suggest being careful on niches. You don’t want to limit your writing or expertise either.
4.      Do speaking engagements in your community, at schools, libraries, churches, local writing groups, etc. The possibilities are endless.
5.      Teach classes or workshops. I do this at conferences and now for my local college in their continuing education program.
6.      Join online groups, social sites and communities. Just don’t over extend yourself. Limit it to a few groups so you still have time to write.
7.      Offer products, services or information related to your niche or readership. I do this in a verity of ways from my blog talk radio shows to the product and services I offer at Stories for Children Publishing and on my personal website.
8.      Get to know writers in your local area and support them by buying their books and attending their reading/signings. You want to be included on mailing lists and invited to literary events and parties. The contacts you make at these events will be invaluable.
9.      Do public readings. You do not need to be published to do this. As a children’s writer you can do a PJ story time at a local bookstore and just share your favorite children’s books. Then ask the kids if they would like to hear a story you wrote. Your local library will often know who organizes them. Contact the organizer and ask how you can be included.
10.  Start a blog or website about writing. As you can see, I already do this with my blog here, The Writing Mama. If you are unpublished, post some of your work on the Internet and give readers an opportunity to provide feedback. If you're already published, showcase your books and any services you provide.
11.  If you have a blog or website, make sure to create new content on a regular basis. I’ll be honest, I’m not good about this on my website, and I am trying to be better and plan to start offering tips for parents and children.
12.  Advertise on other websites. I know this can be costly, but believe it or not, a lot of sites will do a link exchange. I do this a lot with Stories for Children Publishing and its many divisions. It works!
13.  Offer a newsletter. I can’t even begin to tell you how important this is. I started offering SFC Newsletter for Writers about a year after I started writing. I have since won Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites/Newsletters for Writers in 2009 and my list of subscribers keeps growing. I have made many important contacts that have helped grow my writing and business platforms.
14.  Here’s an easy tip and one anyone can do. Hand out business card to everyone you meet. I’m not always great about this one, but it is a great way to spread the word about being a writer and your books (if you have them). You can get nice business cards for just pennies. Shop around online and locally for the best deal.
15.  Create videos or have some create it for you. I’ve already covered this topic once in my article, Why Do You Need a Book Trailer. But you can use trailers for all kinds of other things as well. If you’re not sure how to make a video, hire someone to help you. There are many companies out there like mine.
16.  If you have a published book or are working one, write a reader’s guide. This is something I’m just starting to do with my picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw. I’m currently working on babysitting guide in eBook format to go with my picture book.
17.  This is optional. Once you have a book to sell, hire a publicist. I have looked into doing this and it’s costly, but if you can afford it…do it! I plan to with my next set of books.

Remember building your author platform doesn’t happen overnight. It slowly builds over time. Grab promotional opportunities whenever you can. If you are lucky enough and you make a splash with the right connections, pay it forward to those who helped you reach that point. It takes all of us supporting, sharing and cheering to make success happen.

See you in the World of Ink.

Monday, June 20, 2011

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop

SFC Blog: Families Matter: July ’11 World of Ink Blog Hop: "What is a blog hop? A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their b..."

Interview with Margot Finke: June Tour World of Ink Author

Stop the Press!

Author Margot Finke come to The Writing Mama Blog a chat and to share about her 3 recent books for children along with offering readers a FREE eBook...Talk about a "WOW" factor.

Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family. Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive, and their three children are now grown and doing very well.

Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!"

Her first books, a 7x book rhyming series, "Wild and Wonderful," offers fun facts about animals from the US and Australia.  Educational and fun, eBooks can be read on a computer, laptop, or various color e-Readers.  They are great for classroom or home schooling moms.

Remember, kids today are computer savvy, and ALL 11 of Margot’s books (both hard copy and eBooks) can be viewed on Margot’ Magic Carpet. The latest three are: Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble (midgrade), Horatio Humble Beats the Big D + Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind.

Visit her  DOWN-UNDER FUN OR  WILD US CRITTERS:  Discover extra fun facts about the animals in her books.
Her Manuscript Critique Service attracts clients from all over the globe, and her website offers a great deal of help for new writers. Nothing gives her a bigger thrill that to hear that a book she helped polish has been published. “This is always a huge YEA moment,” Margot says.

VS: I want to first thank you Margot for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today. To get things started and so my readers and your tour followers can learn a bit more about you, what do you do to help balance your writing life with your family life?

Margot: When our children were young, finding the time for serious writing was near impossible. I am not one of those mothers who have a baby under one arm, stir a pot with her free hand, and scribble plot notes between diaper changes and burps – babies’ not mine! I need peace and quiet.  With three kids under foot, this was hopeless. The moment our eldest left for college I was out the door, buying a computer, joining online writing groups and SCBWI. Free At Last!

These days I have it made; husband retired and willing to cook and keep up our one acre of gardens.  YEA!  Though I do go MIA from writing sometimes, like in the spring, when the bees buzz, and the wind blows the scent of flowers in my window.  Aha. . . don’t blame me too much, even writers are human.

I write from late mornings, through the afternoon, until dinnertime. Then, after dinner until 8pm.  My husband and I have a deal.  I can “compute” all day, but after 8 we spend the rest of the evening together.  And this last year, a lot of my day is taken up with exercises for hip and knee strengthening, and trips to the physiotherapist. And don’t forget book promotion time.  I do more of that these days than I do writing.

VS: I think a lot of moms and dads can relate to you. I know for me...finding writing time is almost impossible, especially now that Summer is here. Okay, hopefully we don't give away your age too much with this next question. How long have you been writing?

Margot: I have written since grade school.  I was lousy at math – all A + for English and writing.  Wrote a school play when I was just twelve.  Parts for everyone  including the teacher.  On the day we opened I wouldn’t have changed places with Shakespeare.  My appalling swelled head lasted until a couple of upper grade kids pricked my bubble.  Served me right too!!

VS: My parents would have loved having you as one of their own. I hated English myself and barely passed. Now, is your family supportive of your writing?

Margot: They think it’s great Mom has books published, but they don’t jump up and down when a new one is published. They have no idea how many I have written. If I become too enthusiastic, I see that glazed look into their eyes, and I know to quit while I’m ahead.  My husband is supportive, as long as I don’t want him to read them.  He is wonderful in all other ways, especially since my hip and knee surgery has put me out of action for some time: he cooks, gardens, and loves me still (40 years).  So I am blessed.

VS: Wow, 40 years that is wonderful. My family is the same way with their support. They know what I do and even tell others, but I can't get to into detail about my books. Okay, we know you wrote a play at age 12, but what was the first thing you ever had published?

Margot: The first was my “Wild and Wonderful” series.  Seven rhyming e-books about animals from the US and Australia.  They are fun, educational, and great for home schooling or class projects. The two sites below offer more fun facts about the critters in these books:

Down-under Fun

VS: It is said you never for get your first book, but can you share with us a little about your current books?

Margot: I have 3 new books out now + a special FREE story I wrote as a BONUS (pdf ) giveaway. It has all three characters from these books involved in a time-travel adventure. They must find a way to send Taconi and Claude back to the middle of the last century where they belong.  A FREE COPY of “Taconi and Claude’s BIG 2011 Adventure” comes with every hard copy book bought from my website: 

It will also be a BONUS giveaway during my World of Ink Virtual Tour.

* Taconi and Claude-Double Trouble -  midgrade adventure for boys & tomboys
A coming of age story about a young aboriginal boy in the Aussie outback. The time is 1950, and Taconi is pulled in different directions by his dad’s problems, a scary man ceremony, The Dreamtime Spirits, and an elusive magic feather. His only mate is a chatty cockatoo with a parade of funny one-liners.  A tribal gathering finally offers answers Taconi can accept.

* Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind – rhyming PB
Ruthie becomes a brat when her parents move far from home.  Her parents tear their hair.  Ruthie just scowls and throws tantrums. What is the problem?  Then a wonderful surprise changes everything for the better.

* Horatio Humble Beats the Big D – rhyming PB
Horatio is a smart boy who can’t read.   Words simply jumble together when he tries to read.  When he hears the word Dyslexia he panics and refuses to try Special Ed Class.  But go he does:  and the results are amazing.

** Both picture books include helpful Parent/Teacher guides.

VS: Your books sound delightful. I have read the picture books so I know children of all ages will love, too. Also, thanks Margot for offering such a wonderful FREE eBook and giveaway through your tour. I'm sure everyone will enjoy it. Now, what do you enjoy most about writing?

Margot: I love the sheer pleasure of taking a jumbled bunch of ideas that hit me in the middle of the night, and transforming them into something fun, interesting or dramatic.  Scraps of paper, scribble on in our darkened bathroom, in the hours past midnight, are the basis of most of the stories I write.  The tip-toed path, worn deep from bedroom to bathroom, is a testament to my weird sense of creativity. Seems the deep of night lights a bright bulb in my sleepless brain.

VS: If only we all could have the humor and creativity you have. Can you share what is the best writing advice you ever received?

Margot: Never hurry a revision.  Cultivate patience.  And when really stuck, either by a character or the plot, retire the manuscript to a bottom drawer for a month or three, and let it sulk all by itself.  When you reread it with a fresh focus, whatever aspect daunted you previously, will slide into place without a whimper. Like a “time out” for your child, your manuscript needs to know who’s boss.

VS: Great advice for new and tried authors. Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Margot: Polishing a sequel to Taconi and Claude-Double Trouble.  This takes the story into the 21st century, with the grandsons of Taconi and the Boss getting themselves mixed up in some scary and dangerous adventures. This tale is more dramatic than the previous one.  It begins with sibling rivalry, and ends when Josh arrives back on Coorparoo Station, determined to settle things with his older brother one way or the other.

Angry and upset, Josh runs off on walkabout with old childhood mate Bindi.  Several near death experiences later, and after being forced to eat emu eggs and snake or starve, a tribal Medicine Man wants Josh dead. He is prepared to see to the matter himself. There are terrible lies to be sorted out, and a friendship with the tribal chief that is a lifesaver.  Even the flying doctor plays a pivotal role.  The beautiful, yet terrifying outback land and its animals play a vital role in their survival – thanks to Bindi and his outback smarts.
VS: The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, with many authors hesitating between trying their luck with a traditional publisher or self publishing. What advice would you offer writers who are oscillating between these two publishing venues? 

Margot: There is a world of difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing. If you want to take on all the responsibilities and work of self publishing, you had better do your homework. Research the self publishers and POD people. Call the scammers ASAP.  Learn what red flags to look for. Get advice from successful self-published authors.  Be prepared for the expense of editing, art work, and the huge amount of time and money it will take to promote your book.  Unless you have energy to burn, forget it.   

Contacts within the newspaper, radio, TV and the online magazine industry would be very helpful. You have to learn to do everything a traditional publisher does for free. I have not heard of too many writers receiving rejections from self publishers. If you have the money, they will publish whatever you pay them to publish. Often, each extra thing ( like editing) is a charge they add to their basic fee.

However, if you know the ropes, and have the money and energy to do it right, self publishing (POD) can be a great way to go.  Not stumbling into it though, unaware of the pitfalls, but with eyes wide open, and the right knowledge in your pocket.  Writers that have books that cater to a specific niche market can do very well at the self-publishing game.

If you go the traditional route, you often receive an advance, and the editing, placement of books in the larger outlets etc., is done by the publisher. No worries about artists, book set-up, what size, what paper, etc.  Yet you often must wait-and-wait for just a generic rejection.  There is no guarantee of acceptance.  You need patience for this sort of publishing, and an ability to write well and polish every page.  Traditional publishers are picky. Their editors do not have time to mentor new writers. The manuscript you send them had better be pretty much ready to publish. 

Not too long ago, POD and Self Published books were the poor relations: looked down on by traditional publishers, SCBWI, and reading snobs in general.  This is changing FAST, as writers realize that a good edit makes a better story.  Technical know-how is available to the masses now, and e-Books are exploding on the market, thanks to E-Readers and the coming of color.  Large publishing houses are in a state of flux, trying to balance their usual wary, slow evolution, with the jet stream like progress of almost instant books, coming from outside their publishing world.

VS: Hearing your view point is wonderful since you have both print and eBooks published (all traditionally published). Okay, can you share what you feel are the basic ingredients of a story?

Margot: Characters that feel so real they almost jump off the page.. Characters that kids can root for and identify with. A plot that lures and teases, that HOOKS kids early, and keeps them hooked until the end.  This means age appropriate dialogue, humor, + scenes full of action and reaction. Telling about an event is a big yawn.  Creating an active scene that SHOWS what happens will keep kids reading.  Using powerful, active and evocative words paints vivid pictures in the reader’s head.  This is how a great story keeps kids reading.

VS: Margot, have you received any awards for your writing?

Margot: No, I have never won an award. I would love one of my books to win an award. Of course for years I thought the publisher had to recommend you for the awards.  And of course the publisher thought I was taking care of it.  So, no awards.

This year I was put straight by my publisher and a few writer friends.  However some of my books had been published too long, and the one I did sign up for last month managed to get lost on the awards end.  Better luck next year.  Or maybe I should employ an “Awards Form Filler-Iner. That way my applications would never be too late or my entry chewed up.

VS: Margot, I'm sure an award will be coming your way soon and your story is one we can all learn from. Your books are amazing and if only it would count, you have won the "Writing Mama WOW Factor" award in my book. I thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about being a writing mama.

Margot: It was entirely my pleasure, mate.  Thank YOU.

 And don't for get to write a comment on this blog or any participating blog during 
Margot Finke's June World of Ink Virtual Author/Book Tour 
to win a 
of her fun time-travel story.
Margot wrote it specially for kids!
One copy per person.  Please leave your e-mail. 

( Safe sample:   mfinke<@> )