BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Deidre Gill

 

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Title: Outside
Author/Illustrator: Deidre Gill
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing
Ages: 4-8

 

Synopsis:

 

What happens when you step outside?

 

Why you should read it:

 

Perfect, playful imagination flow through the pages of the wonderful picture book by debut author/illustrator Deidre Gill. Stunning illustrations capture the world of one little boy’s imagination as he goes outside to play. When he can’t entice his older brother to join him, he makes some friends of his own and steps into a fantasy world where dragons are real and anything can happen!

 

Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

 

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

WRITERLY WISDOM: Monica Kulling

 

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Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. This week’s post is about writing dialogue in such a way that readers are drawn into the story…

 

Talk To Me!
by Monica Kulling

 

“I write description in longhand because that’s hardest for me and you’re closer to the paper when you work by hand, but I use the typewriter for dialogue because people speak like a typewriter works.”
— Ernest Hemingway

Writing story dialogue sounds like it ought to be easy, right? After all, conversation surrounds us, all day long. We might think we know everything there is to know about putting words into a character’s mouth, but it’s helpful to keep in mind a few tips in order to add that extra sparkle.

Story dialogue needs to be doing many things at once, which can sometimes be a challenge to pull off. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind. Conveniently, these all happen to begin with the letter “D.”

Distinguish characters:

 

Each of your characters must have a distinct way of speaking not only so that the reader can tell each one apart, but also so that the character’s personality can be revealed as the narrative unfolds. Each character has something that is most important to him or her and this is revealed in well-crafted dialogue.

Determine emotion:

 

Write your dialogue so that the reader knows exactly what your characters are feeling and what’s important to them. Good story dialogue pays attention to the flow and of the words. Dialogue that expresses the sadness felt by a character is markedly different from dialogue that expresses exuberance.

Drive the story forward:

 

Dialogue should be purposeful. It should set the scene, give insight into characterization, advance action, and foreshadow events around the corner. Do not use dialogue simply to convey information. It must move the narrative forward. Writers listen with hearts and minds to their characters’ interactions, and this becomes the backbone of any story we are writing.

Dynamic:

 

Your dialogue ought to sound like an actual conversation, but with the boring bits removed!

Delightful:

 

Write dialogue that not only accomplishes all the above but is also full of life and fun to read. This is possible by giving each character his or her own particular way of expression—his or her own dialogue notes, if you will. Like the color of a character’s hair, the way each character speaks, the idioms he or she uses, reveals something about your characters that description alone can’t cover.

I am by no means an expert on this subject but I have always enjoyed listening to and reading good dialogue. To get a better feel for this element of writing, go to the theatre and see lots of plays. A beautifully written play uses dialogue efficiently, majestically, and impressively. The ring of the words can be heard in your head long after the curtain falls.

 

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Monica Kulling is the author of numerous books for children. Her most recent books are Mary Anning’s Curiosity, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon, and Alexander Hamilton: From Orphan to Founding Father, illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti. She is also the author of On Our Way to Oyster Bay: Mother Jones and Her March for Children’s Rights, illustrated by Felicita Sala. Monica’s books have been nominated for many awards, including the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian children’s nonfiction. Other picture books include the popular Great Ideas series; Happy Birthday, Alice Babette; Grant and Tillie Go Walking; and The Tweedles Go Electric. Monica Kulling lives in Toronto.

THOUGTHFUL THURSDAY: Upsetting The Apple Cart…

 

 

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There are some times when I feel overwhelmed with all the things going on in my life. Just handling the run of the mill everyday things I have to juggle in a 24 hour period…job, kiddies, phone calls, blog, manuscripts, emails, family, friends…you get the idea…

Then there are the unexpected events tossed into the mix because somewhere someone took a look at my busy life and decided I wasn’t busy enough. They decide to upset the apple cart and add into the mix end of year tax statements at the school, insomnia, winter storms , writing contests deadlines, , and oh yeah…criminal mischief from scatter brained neighbors….

One evening a couple years ago my neighbors were having a party. A loud one. One with lots of flowing alcohol and about 20 screeching kids of various ages who decided to take the party to the street in front of my house at 4 in the morning where they commenced to use my NEW mailbox for target practice. I had wondered if they might have been the reason my last mailbox went on a permanent vacation. Now I think they simply didn’t want me to suffer from all those rejection letters I had been receivinb and tried to prevent me from getting any more.

How thoughtful of them.

I’m pretty sure their generous spirit was also in overdrive when they decided I needed to exercise more. They provided me that particular opportunity later that morning when I had to pick up all the firework rockets, beer bottles, wine bottles, empty cigarette packets, cigarette butts, used baby diapers, and various other objects filling three plastic bags full from my front yard.

But it was when I discovered they decided sometime while I slept to check and make sure the inside of my car still had everything it needed…and in their haste to return to the party, dropped one of their cigarette lighters by my passenger door (did I mention I don’t smoke so I knew it wasn’t mine?)…that I was convinced anything in my best interest was probably NOT topping their list of Good Samaritan deeds yet to be performed.

Funny thing about all of this? Nothing could have been done until either my car decided to take an unexpected vacation without me, or I became the casualty of some war I didn’t even realize I was involved in.

Bet you’re wondering how I’m going to connect THIS to writing? Well, here it is…

Sometimes you can be walking along, pushing that apple cart, minding your own business and then someone decides to come along and upset the natural order of things. Your doctor gives you some unwelcoming news, your least favorite relative comes for an extended visit, your “dream agent” sends you a rejection letter powerful enough to potentially crush your dream of becoming an author. Your apple cart is upset and all those lovely apples are rolling beyond your reach.

What do you do?

Give up?

Let them lie around until they rot?

NO!

Take a moment to catch your breath if you need to and right your cart. Then go after those apples. Run after them if you have to! Scoop them up and hold them close to you for they are YOUR dreams and only YOU know the outcome of YOUR life’s story. Channel all that fear and frustration into your next bit of writing where you pour your soul into your words. Ignore the fools surrounding you. Spill those words onto paper or screen for them to connect with others until you can get your equilibrium back and then keep on trucking down that path to publication.

That’s what I did…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

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donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in ebook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers

BOOK NOOK REVIEWS: Marissa Moss

 
spy

 

Title: Nurse, Soldier, Spy…The Story of Sarah Edmonds
Author: Marissa Moss
Illustrator: John Hendrix
Publisher: Abrams Books For Young Readers
Ages: 9-11

 

Synopsis:

 

When Frank Thompson sees a poster requesting recruits for the new Union army, he is ready and willing to enlist. Except Frank isn’t his real name. He is really Sarah Emma Edmonds. Dressing like a man, she becomes a soldier, battlefield nurse, and even a spy in this incredible true story of one woman’s fight for her country’s freedom.

 

Why you should read it:

 

I’m really fascinated with the “human side” of history and find myself reading a lot about the Civil War lately. This well written story by author Marissa Moss allows her readers to step into the shoes of an otherwise genteel lady as she fights beside Union soldiers trying to free the slaves and unite a country. Kids will be amazed at the life Sarah led and the dangers she endured during a time when “ladies” were thought to be nothing more than gentle creatures to be protected from the horrors of the real world instead of vibrant, strong women capable of protecting themselves as well as those around them on the field of battle.
Like-o-meter Rating scale**: 5 out of 5…grab it!

**Rating scale**

5 out of 5…grab it!

4 out of 5…think about it.

3 out of 5…take or leave it.

2 out of 5…maybe not for you.

1 out of 5…forget about it!

FLASH FICTION TUESDAY: A Wish & A Prayer

 

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The park was almost empty by the time the old man got there but he liked it that way. No fighting the early morning joggers paying homage to the latest health trend. No new mommas pushing squawking babies in prams to gather at the sandbox like clucking hens guarding chicks. He had timed his stroll perfectly and now he could take a moment to sit. Just sit and watch the leaves turn colors in the crisp Autumn daylight. He had time. He didn’t have to be at the church til later and it wasn’t like Jake was going anywhere.

A breeze started to pick up and the old man shivered. It felt like a cat ran over his grave. Jake would have said it was a black cat hell bent on making his life a troublesome one, but that was the way Jake was. Ornery. Cantankerous. And the best friend the old man ever had.

Right now he would have given anything to have that old cuss chewing on his ear again like he had for the last 45 years. Why, he would even let him beat him at their weekly checker game. But it was too late now for that. The only thing left was a stroll in the park and a moment to recall a lifetime of memories.

Like the time he and Jake went skinny dipping at the old Thompson place. Jake almost bust a gut laughing when the branch broke and his friend plunged into that icy water. Somehow they survived those wild childhood adventures and over the years the bond between them flowed stronger than brother’s blood.

Then came the bombing. Jake shipped out and left the old man behind; a war time reject with a medical history he couldn’t overcome but still they managed to keep in touch. Three long years of waiting and wondering if Jake would make it back in one piece. And then it was like he’d never left. Two peas in the same pod, that’s what they were, and the years just seemed to run together until time caught up to the both of them. Now the old man was content to simply stroll through the park and count the blessings piled up over years.

The sound of church bells brought the old man back from his daydreaming and he clutched his cane tighter as he slowly stood up. It was time now. Time to get to the church and make one more memory with Jake…

Okay, it’s your turn! Why is the old man going to the church? Is he saying goodbye to his best friend or cheering him on to a new life? Put your creative cap on and add a sentence or add a paragraph. Continue my story or start one of your own and leave a comment below…

 

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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

***************

 

donna

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

TALES FROM THE BAYOU: A Special Kind of Poor…

 

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Whenever I post my TALES FROM THE BAYOU stories, I’m not trying to garner sympathy. I’m not trying to get my readers to say, “awww poor, POOR Donna”. What I AM trying to do is tell these tales in such a way as to draw my readers back in time to a place I called home many years ago and during a time…as Billy Joel likes to say…”when I wore a younger (wo)man’s shoes”. I guess I will let my readers be the judge…

Circa 1964…I wasn’t much more than a toddler but I can still remember the old “icebox” Mother had in the kitchen. Some of you might not have even heard of the word icebox before but it was called that because quite literally there was a compartment on top where you would place a huge block of ice to help cool the perishable items stored in the compartment below it. I can remember the rides to the ice house in the back of a beat up old Chevy truck…way before the time people thought it too dangerous to throw four young kids in the back and just let them bounce around as you go down the road. What a grand adventure it was! I knew when I got to the local ice house there would be some guy with a pair of huge ice pick tongs eager to throw that fifty or one hundred pounds of solid ice onto the blanket laid out in the back of our truck. Then it was back to the house to load it into the back of our ice box so we could have something cool to eat or drink the next day. I never stopped to think that everyone else in town probably had REAL refrigerators…I just thought trips to the ice house on a Saturday morning was what everyone did.

Then there was Mother’s little habit of needing a smoke. Mother chose cigarettes, probably not because she liked them so much as the fact it helped kill her appetite. Back then cigarettes didn’t cost anywhere what it does these days but even so Mother couldn’t scrape enough together at the end of Daddy’s paycheck to get the store bought kind so she had to roll her own. I can still remember that big ol’ can of loose tobacco and the bundle of papers she had to roll it in. Not one to be outdone by circumstance, Mother even made sure to tap a cheap filter into one end of her homemade smokes to give a little bit of class to what she was reduced to doing.

I can even remember when store bought bread was 20 cents a loaf but since we didn’t have the extra money to throw away on such frivolous things, Mother would make homemade bread several times a week. I can easily remember the heavenly aroma of a freshly baked slice of bread slathered with homemade churned butter. There were many times I was forced to eat things you just never considered to be edible, but Mother’s homemade bread wasn’t one of them!

But I think it was when Mother couldn’t pay for the gas to heat up her morning coffee that she became the most creative. At first I didn’t make the connection between the utilities being cut off and Mother’s lack of morning hot beverage. I would just follow orders when she’d tell me to go lay the garden hose out on the grass in the back yard where the hot summer sun could beat down on it. I always wondered if it was some kind of ritual she performed to the “garden gods” so we could harvest a lot of vegetables.

I discovered the truth when I caught my Mother coming out of the house one day and making her way to the garden hose with cup in hand. Quickly she turned on the water and captured the solar heated liquid so she could mix it with the instant coffee waiting inside. She may not have heat to cook a meal, but by God, she was going to figure out a way to have a cup of hot coffee to start her day! I can only hope a little bit of her creativity has rubbed off on me…;~)

 
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LUNADAR: Homeward Bound

Ruler by day, a reluctant pirate by night, 18-year-old Princess Ariana fights for her subjects in the waterfall city of LUNADAR. In a kingdom surrounded by fairies and mermaids, and ravaged by deadly Drundles, only a chosen few are trusted to guard her daughter, Candra, as the secret heir to the throne. But it only takes one ill-fated meeting for Ariana to suddenly be plunged into an escalating web of secrets found in her father’s journal, a deadly kidnapping, and an ever-weakening resolve to turn her back on the call of the merman’s song. With Ariana’s world falling apart and the future of LUNADAR at stake, how will she bring her father’s murderer to justice and fulfill a deathbed promise to protect Lunadar’s legacy?

$16.99

 

 

*****************

 

donna

 

International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

WRITERLY WISDOM: Sarah Frances Hardy

 
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CREATING CHARACTER

by Sarah Frances Hardy

 
Because I’m an illustrator, I think visually and my characters usually start out as a doodle or drawing. The main character for my debut picture book started out like this:

 

girl

 

After I drew this little girl, I immediately wanted to know her story. Why the black dress? Why the pointy shoes? Why the sass? So I started asking questions. Lots and lots of questions … I asked things like:

-Where does she go when she’s sad?
-What is on the nightstand next to her bed?
-Does she have a sister?
-What does she love most in the world? Hate?
-Does she have a pet?
-What does her lunchbox look like?
-Has she ever had stitches?
– …….??????

The more questions I asked about my character, the more I started getting to know her. And the more I started to get to know her, the easier it was to create a story around her because I knew exactly how to push her buttons.

And that is what you have to do as a picture book writer: you have to create an adorable, interesting character and then you have to mess up her world. And if you know what she loves the most and hates the most, then you know exactly how to create conflict for your character. So spending lots of time brainstorming and fine-tuning exactly who this person is is an important first step.

Now if you’re not an illustrator, no worries! You can still use a visual cue as a jumping off point to create a character. Simply flip through children’s catalogs, hang out in the park, drive your child’s carpool and tune in.

Notice things like the little girl in the perfect white sundress and white sandals who refuses to climb on the jungle gym. Is she worried about getting dirty? Why? Did her grandmother make her dress? Is her grandmother sick? Wouldn’t it be terrible if someone splashed her with mud? If she tore her dress? Maybe she got hurt the last time she was on the jungle gym? Or maybe someone teased her because they saw her panties?

 

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Ask! Ask! Ask!!

Stare at the picture you drew or selected from a magazine, and dig deep. Imagine the characters’ lives and their motivations. Ask real live children questions like “Why did you decide to wear a cape today?” “Does anything live under your bed?” “Do you often keep a family of lizards in your back pack?”

And don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions because the more questions you ask, the weirder they get, and the more interesting your character will be.

And interesting characters make for interesting stories!

 

sarah

 

With a juris doctorate cum laude from the University of Mississippi School of Law, a Bachelor of Arts in fine art from Davidson College, and subsequent studies at Parsons School of Design in New York and Paris, Sarah Frances Hardy (www.sfhardy.com) took an early retirement from practicing law to paint and write full time.

Sarah Frances’s paintings are characterized by vivid colors and expressive brushstrokes. She has exhibited her work in galleries throughout the Southeast as well as at a gallery in Soho. Her corporate clients include Steve Wynn who purchased several of Sarah Frances’s paintings for the Beau Rivage Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Most recently, Sarah Frances has redirected her creative juices towards writing and illustrating books for children–picture books as well as middle grade and young adult novels.

Her first book PUZZLED BY PINK which she both wrote and illustrated was published in April of 2012 by Viking Children’s Books. It’s a story of two sisters who couldn’t be more different.

Her next book PAINT ME! about a girl who begins the day painting a portrait of her dog and ends up painting everything she comes across . . . was published by Sky Pony Press in May of 2014.

Her newest release DRESS ME! was published in May of 2015 by Sky Pony Press. It is about a little girl who dresses up in lots of different costumes trying out lots of different careers. In the end, she decides to just be herself.