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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bringing Back Salsa & Still Writin'

I haven't forgotten you or disregarded this blog completely.  Things are just moving forward with my writing.  It would be  disappointing to have started this journey of what makes a writer and still be without answers.  So you see it's a success.  My days of romping are never-ending. In fact, my in the making chapter books are filled with mysterious things afoot at our local Portland library. That's much more entertaining than my ramblings.

So what is the answer to what makes a writer? This can not be answered in general terms, as it's different for every one.  First, you have to define truths about yourself and then it will be uncovered. That means taking your own journey.  Mine was through books. I never really cooked or gardened until I started romping.  Nor did I write and E-Publish 2 Christian books.  Reading children's books brought me into other activities that I shared with my family as well.  For example after reading about a square pumpkin, we thought it be fun to grow our own pumpkins.  And not just any pumpkins, we are talking about the Gigantic Atlantic Dill. (We just planted this year's now because beach summers are too hot.) - It'll be a Christmas pumpkin!  Having followed me, you know where our romps have taken us. 
Summing It Up:
My days are spent editing,  working with my illustrator, shopping, Fall decorating, more editing, kid sport activities, cooking, calling my illustrator again to give Pixie more apples, reading & romping with Little Reader, and ...  You get the point as to why my posts are few and far between.  Pixie will eventually have her own blog and that's where we will be hanging out.  But for now, we continue on the hectic totally amazing journey called life.

Empire Salsa: For those that didn't know, we once owned a salsa company. Not going to bore you with the details but we sold to HEB and it was great having the extra income. Years later people are still asking for it? This leads me to the question of why not.  With a little start up money we can be up and running again. I've got plenty of time right? Lots of hoops to see if I can still fit through, but taking it on non-the-less.
Our "Girlie" Reads
Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret
By Coven, Wanda

Heidi Heckelbeck is a second grader at Brewster Elementary. And having always been homeschooled she's not excited about starting her new school at all! To make matters worse on her first day, she has a run in with the mean Melanie Maplethorpe. But Heidi has a few tricks up her witch sleeve. Could her magic help her get back at Melanie?  Little Reader really likes these books  with their humor, fun drawings, and easy yet engaging text.
Katie and the Cupcake Cure
By Simon, Coco
I see what Coco was trying to do by starting off referencing the vampire movie Twilight.  But kids at this level are not old enough to be familiar with this yet. But overall this is a "sweet"  story about a girl named Katie starting middle school. No worries for Katie as she would start  with her best friend Callie. Or maybe not. Okay, so she's thrown into the situation of having to make new friends, You'll love the cupcake angle here.  I found myself singing, "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other's gold."  So which is it, is the new friend silver or gold?
Pineapple "Upside-Down" Cupcakes Recipe
Making this recipe from in the book... YUM!
For the cakes
  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice (can use juice from can of pineapple slices; see topping ingredients)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained (set aside 1/2 cup juice for the batter; see above)
  • maraschino cherries
  1. Center baking rack in oven; preheat to 350F. Line a muffin tin with baking cups.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the batter ingredients. With an electric mixer on medium speed, mix the ingredients together until no lumps remain. Spoon the batter into the cupcake tins so that each cup is 1/2 full.
  3. Make the topping. Mix the melted butter and brown sugar together with a spoon. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the mixture on top of the cupcake batter in the tins. Now add a layer of about a tablespoon of the pineapple. If you'd like (do it) add a cherry on top, pressing into the pineapple layer so it's level.
  4. Bake the cupcakes 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Let the cupcakes cool at least 20 minutes before eating.
Never Girls: In a Blink
By Thorpe, Kiki
I admit, Disney seduced us into this book series.  We are suckers for a trip to Never land. Especially since the Tooth Fairy always leaves a fairy book. Salt water, an ocean breeze, and a ringing bell are hints of what four friends experience in Neverland. This book is based on the concept of Peter Pan, but told with a modern twist.  No, Peter never shows up in this one.  But still a must read for all fairy fans...

The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere
By West, Jacqueline
This is a higher level reader than the others. - More of a middle grade reader.  We are reading it by chapters and so far it's a big hit.  Lots of mysterious things unfolding at Olive Dunwoody's household. Dangerous rescues and treacherous escapes is not what this 11 year old bargained for as she and her family moved into this spooky house.
This reminds me of our favorite movie Coraline.  My reader is going to be Coraline this year for Halloween. Quite simple actually. I'll post on Facebook when it all comes together. 
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Self-Publish or Not, That's The Question

This post is  gonna be a little different.  Back to school and the oldest kido is head to college.  My mind has been wrapped up in Hayden leaving the nest. Yes, Little Reader and I have still been reading. Just haven't been on our regular library romps. I'm finally done with Pixie And The Green Mystery and my editor says it's ready to go.  Tonight I'll work on the query letter. Well, I'll try.  Here's the bunch before heading off to Buccaneer Country.
What Are We Reading?  Fairy Books of course... 
Rainbow Magic: The Ocean Fairies - They're seven books in this series each representing different areas of the Ocean. A mix of fairyland and our world, where the fairies have to make sure the Ocean animals are safe and happy.
My Writer Question

Do I go the traditional publishing route or self publish with my book series? There's pros and cons of both so I'm hoping jotting them down will help me decide. 
When you self publish you are the publisher. You proofread, edit, come up with the artwork, providing the funds for it all. The author is responsible for marketing and distributing the book, filling orders, and running advertising campaigns. In the past, the author had to decide on the number of copies to print, sometimes resulting in stacks of unsold books gathering dust in the garage! Fortunately, the Print on Demand (POD) technology now used by some self-publishing companies means that authors can have fewer copies printed—only as many as they need, in fact.
Or Traditional Publishing
If I go through traditional publishing, then now that my manuscript is ready all I have to do is finish the query letter. Then start the submittals to publishing houses or literary agents. From there it's accepted where they buy the rights or not.  The later being rejected and you keep submitting to other publishers.
So do I self-publish and pay thousands of dollars or wait for traditional publishers to pay me in advance? I am pretty good at self marketing and have the resources to edit, design, and advertise.  I think it comes down to this. Do I go for quick turn around and control my manuscript? Or do I wait to earn an advance from a large publisher house? 

Things You May Not Know

There more libraries than Mc Donald's and they offer more than just books.

Music & Movies

You think Netflix, Pandora, and Hulu are cool? Well, your library has its own version, only you don't pay one cent to stream the titles. You just need to install the apps, and have a current library card. The most popular one right now is called Hoopla.  It's awesome.

Forms & More

As well as the post office and larger grocery stores, libraries have a full stock of the most popular tax forms in the runup to the April deadline. They also have the tax instructions booklets at hand as well. And while librarians are not qualified tax accountants, some will offer you basic advice.
Audio Books
You are most likely aware of the massive array of books on CD, tape, and MP3 players at your library. They have both fiction and nonfiction titles. But did you know you can stream audio books over your smartphone?

As well as a having thousands of older movies, libraries stock the latest releases on both DVD and Blu-ray. Of course, there are some savvy library users who know this, and reserve them months ahead of time. That's me ;-)

Passes & Some
The next time you want to visit the museum, take a trip to your local library. Many libraries are now participating in the museum pass program, which pairs them up with local museums. Our library often gives out tickets to local sporting events and more.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm turning Japanese, I Really Think So

Wohoo!  I'm on my last edit of Miss Pixie...  hopefully.  I have the next three books right behind it, but not in chapter book form yet.  It has literally taken almost half a year to get this book together.  But where it is today is hands down much better than where it started.  It's interesting when you edit your story.  That's my favorite part, usually where I'm most creative and often end up changing the whole premise. It's the getting started I don't like.
 Aside from writing, Little Reader and I are visiting Japan and solving a mystery. Okay, not actually going to Japan. But just getting us ready for when we do travel there.  But back to what we are doing.  Highlights has an adventure where your child gets to choose whatever country they want to visit. Then they send you a key chain, bracelet, and other super spy stuff to help you solve a mystery. 

So I'm back to my longing to move to Japan.  My Little Reader is the only one onboard with this.  I'm looking into the JET program but it would have to be in a couple years.  Try taking a girl away from her high school and friends to live where flushing a toilet needs instructions, the fish is served  raw, and Baby Metal is what's in. You see my predicament. I've come up with a compromise.  I will travel to Japan and scout it out. The family thinks I'm a little wacky, but hey that's okay.  When my book series takes off then we'' see who's nuts... 
In case you were wondering, Baby Metal?
Did I mention my oldest is enjoying his senior trip in Hawaii this week?  He tells me I would fit in perfectly. It's got the beach and Japanese culture. It's been too long since I've been there or anywhere else for that matter though.   
Mom's Amazon reads On The Way
  http://www.amazon.com/Japan-Guide-less-Emails-ebook/dp/B00LJC4I1U/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406830268&sr=1-1&keywords=living+an+moving+to+japan   http://www.amazon.com/Living-Abroad-Japan-Ruth-Kanagy/dp/1566916720/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406830268&sr=1-2&keywords=living+an+moving+to+japan
Asian Inspired Reads    
My Japan
By Etsuko Watanabe
Cute, informational, and very Japanese. Simple text wraps around adorable pictures displaying the differences of a Japanese girl and an American girl. Simply beautiful.
Zen Shorts
By Jon, Muth
You will love this adorable sharing panda that carries around a red umbrella. Watch how he builds a friendship with three children by sharing Zen stories that relates to their lives.
Zen Ghosts

 Stillwater the Zen panda is back in this Halloween tale. When the children finish trick-or-treating Stillwater's tells them the story of "Senjo and Her Soul. The soft illustrations blend with the concept of Zen. Ling & Ting Not Exactly The Same! By Lin, Grace
A heart-warming story about a  man and his best friend.  After the death of Dr. Uenos, his loyal dog Hachiko returns to the Tokyo train station awaiting his return. The best part of this story is its truth. Hachiko's statue still attracts thousands of people representing loyalty to the Japanese people. I highly recommend the movie as well.  Check it out at your library. Oh, this is defiantly on the must visit places while in Japan.
By Say, Allen
Absolutely loved this immigrant story. An young American girl is fascinated with the Japanese culture and eventually makes her way to Japan as an adult. I can relate to this one, and like her will someday have the experience of teaching there. It's amazing how a picture can draw you in!

Hachiko: The True Story Of A Loyal Dog                                                 By Turner, Pamela

A most heart-warming story about a  man and his best friend.  After the death of Dr. Uenos, his loyal dog Hachiko returns to the Tokyo train station awaiting his return. The best part of this story is that it's completely true and the Hachiko's statue at the train station attracting thousands of people every year.  I highly recommend the movie as well.  Check it out at your library. Oh, this is defiantly on my must visit places in Japan.
Top Summer Read  
The Five Sisters   By Mahy, Margaret
What can happen to five paper dolls joined at the hands? Lots when the winds carry them to a world of adventures.  When they  end up the hands of different people including a musician and a student detail is added to them.  We read one chapter  a night and had a hard time putting it down. And today after our virtual trip to Japan we are making paper doll chains to decorate Little Reader's room.
Do not let circumstances control you. You change your circumstances.
         - Jackie Chan
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