Thursday, March 31, 2011

Announcing: Winners of My Puppet-Give-Away Contest

Its the end of March already. My how time flies. This is just a quick post to announce the winners of my puppet give away contest. The winners are:

Taffy Lovell
Rebecca Blevins
The Insect Collector

Now if I can just get the addresses of you three wonderful ladies, I will send their puppets out to you. If you happen to read this post, leave me a comment with your address. (I think I might still have Taffy's address. She won my last contest. And no, this was not rigged, and I am not bribbing Taffy with free junk to coerce her to help me land a book contract or something. It was purely statistical probability that chose her--her name was drawn out of the hat).

See, it's easy to enter and win in my contests. Hope you give next month's contest a shot. I will be giving away a copy of Julie Wright's Hazzardous Universe.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

You Never Know Where You'll Come Up With a Great Idea

Today I attended the LUW Northern Area spring conference. It was awesome. I not only learned lots, but the conference served to change my thinking regarding my work in progress. In the past when I've started a book, I always stayed with it until I finished. Although my current novel I feel is better than the ones I have written up to this point, I think I'm going to put it on the back burner and persue a story that had its birth less than 2 weeks ago. Why? Because this new story idea has a character that is so strong she is yelling at me to write her story. She has zing and so does her story--a story that flowed into my head in one night.

At the conference, John Brown (great presenter) mentioned that we need to take advantage of the zing when it hits and write it down immediately. That's what I happened to do with this idea. Hearing him tell me about what I had already done made me realize that the whole story has zing and maybe I should follow it while it still exictes me. If I shove it away in the computer somewhere, that zing will probably fade. All this week I have been wrestling with a desire to work on this new story, telling me I needed to finish my current great WIP. But when I heard that Jennifer Nelson had totally shelved a book of hers, that she loved and thought was great, because it had a weak character, I thought if she could do that, perhaps I could shelf my WIP for a while. This idea was further encouraged by John Brown telling of how he has re-written his current WIP almost completely three times. If both of those successful authors can do that much writing that they will never use (except for experience), I can't be a cry baby and mourn the time I have put into a half manuscript that I'll put on the shelve and maybe never use.

Now, you're probably wondering what the title of this blog has to do with anything. I'll tell you. The most interesting part of this whole story is the source of my inspiration for this new book idea. Two weeks ago my awesome critique group had a party instead of reading manuscripts. We played Liebrary. If you writers out there have never played this game you should give it a try. It's kind of like Balderdash, but instead of making up definitions to words, you make up the first lines of novels. One of the bogus first lines I came up with garnered the attention of my fellow writers. I quite liked it myself. (It was probably the only decent one I wrote all night). On the way home from the party, the sentence rolled over and over in my mind. It almost begged to release the story it held. The ideas flowed and the character came to life. So I think I've got to see where this single sentence takes me. (By the way, I didn't win).

My new WIP begins as follows:
Born into bondage, Seethea took her first breath like she owned it.

Next week I might post the synopsis for Born Into Bondage (working title). I haven't decided if that would be a good idea or not.

Moral of this blog post--play games.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Book Review: Hazzardous Universe

Author Julie Wright has ventured into the relms of Middle Grade science fiction with her new novel, Hazzardous Universe. In her story, 14 year old Hap Hazzard (loved the name), and a neighbor girl, Tara, are abducted by aliens by mistake. Hap's grandfather has always talked about aliens in the past but everyone, including Hap had never believed him--until now. Hap and Tara are whisked away from earth on a pizza-slice shaped space ship.(Fun concept for kids). They encounter a host of imaginative creatures and characters as their captors smuggle an all-powerful crystal away from earth. Hap steps in to try and thwart the crystal from falling into the wrong hands, but ends up facilitating the proccess instead.

As a person who writes MG books, and often reads and enjoys them, I found this particular book read a lot younger than the actual age of the protaganist. First, the story question felt weak and very juvenile to me, (the thing that the protaganist wants more than anything). Hap, more than anything, wants to get home to his family. This felt weakened even further when at the end of the book, Hap too easily tosses this desire to the background and decides to venture off into the unknown universe with his accidental captors. Second, I found the tension in the story weak and often contrived. But with an intended audience of young children, I'm sure this was by the author's design. Though Harry Potter was written for children, (and read by a lot of adults like me), some parents found numerous scenes too intense for young children. This was obviously avoided in Hazzardous Universe. It reads squeeky clean and harmless.

So my dissapointment with the book stems from the adult reader in me. It was like being served Campbell's chicken noodle soup when you had anticipated Zuppa's lobster bisque. But I've got to remember the audience: children. And children, for the most part, would prefer Campbell's chicken noodle soup over lobster bisque any day.

In conclusion, I would easily recommend Hazzardous Universe to young readers (10-13), especially if they are fans of science fiction. But to those adult readers out there who want realistic action and riviting suspense, I suggest you stay in the adult literature section to make your choice.

Keep checking my blog. I will be giving away a copy of Hazzardous Universe as part of my April blog contest. And don't forget to comment on March's contest post. There is still plenty of time to leave a comment and have a chance to win some free puppets. Yes, that's how easy it is, just leave a comment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

New Contest: Win free puppets

From 1994 until 2009, I owned an operated a puppet manufacturing business known as Puppet Partners Inc. In 2009 I felt that I had taken my business as far as I could with my limited abilities in business. My true abilities, and passion lied with the creative aspect of the business--designing and sewing the puppets as well as creating the educational curriculums that accompanied some of the puppets. So when the opportunity came to sell my business to Get Ready Kids in New Jersey (one of my competitors), I jumped on the opportunity. I had begun writing YA/MG novels and this would give me the opportunity to follow another one of my passions: writing.

Get Ready Kids did not purchase my full line. (I had over 66 sku's). So I kept my small retail puppet store so that I could continue to sell out some of the lines I retained until they are gone. Petite Performes is one of those lines. It is a darling line, but was too expensive to manufacture for this new company to warrant keeping. I have quit a few in stock, so I am offering 3 sets as part of this give away.

The puppets are smaller, European-style puppets designed to fit both a child or an adult's hand. Different prop sets are available to dress the puppets up for performances, or just creative play. Each set will contain a boy and girl puppet and one set of props. To see more detail on these puppets, as well as others I sell on my website, check out
Now for the easy entry rules. Become a follower and leave a comment. If you are already a follower, great. Every follower that leaves a comment will go into the drawing. You have until March 31 to enter with your comment. I will announce the 3 winners on April 1 (no fooling).

Monday, March 7, 2011

Catch Me If You Can Blogfest

I just learned about this cool blog fest--today. It starts today, and I'm entering today, so it's not too late for any of you other writers who are up to it. It's called Catch Me If You Can Blogfest, hosted by KayKay's Corner blog.
As stated on her blog, "We've all heard it a millon times: If your book doesn't catch the agent/publisher's eye quickly, they'll probably reject it. So, I'm sure at one time or another we've asked ourselves, 'Does my WIP catch people's attention right away?'" Her contest will give us writers a chance to bounce our first 550 words off each other as part of her fun blog fest.
Here's my first 550 or so words of my newest novel, a middle grade science fiction with the working title of Tree Boy:

If Pete didn’t win, he would die.

Okay, he wouldn’t really die. But it was his best hope for pulling his stinky-shoe life out of the toilet. If everyone at Sulfur Springs Middle School could recognize his genius, they would finally appreciate Peter Oaks. Even his dad would.

“Exactly what are we supposed to be looking for again?” Cassie pulled a twig from her hair with obvious revulsion and threw it on the ground.

“Anything that you might consider to be a pine cone.” Pete pulled open a brown grocery bag and shoved it in front of his sister’s face. “As long as it looks different from these.” He couldn’t understand his sister’s dingy brain. “I told you that a million times.”

“Sorry, your highness, master of geeks.” She exaggerated a bow, her hand sweeping an arc in the air in front of her face.

“I am not a geek.”

“Okay, then you’re a nerd.” Cassie straightened her back.

Pete kept his eyes busy scanning each side of the mountain trail for new species. “I can live with ‘nerd.’”

“That’s good, ‘cause no normal brother would drag their big sister out into a flippin’ forest in the middle of April to help them with a stupid sixth grade science project. Can’t you just build a volcano out of Play-doh, or something?”

“You know my favorite field of science is botany.” Why couldn’t his sister remember that? “And a volcano would never make it to the state competition. Duh!”

“I guess I still don’t get it. Isn’t a pine cone a pine cone?” Cassie held onto a corner of the paper bag and peered inside. She jerked her fingers away and then held them up like she was a hand model. “Look what this stupid forest is doing to my nails. They’re filthy. I’ll need a manicure when I get home.”

“Never mind. You’re no help.” Pete pulled the bag away and rolled down the top so he could hold on better. He resumed scanning the forest. “I tried to explain it as simple as I could. I mean, would it help if I told you I’m looking for the seeds of all the indigenous species of conifers that populate the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains?”

“There you go again.” Cassie stomped off the trail and headed toward a giant Ponderosa Pine. “Talking like a geek. Oh, excuse me, a nerd. I’m smart too, you know. I’ll have you know I’m the only one in Mrs. Smedley’s seventh grade creative writing class that’s getting an A.” She stretched up on her tip toes and pulled a cone from the lower branches of the tree. “If Mom is going to make me come with you, then I’m going be of some use.”

“I’ve already got a specimen from that variety of tree.”

“What about that one?” Cassie pointed to a gnarled pine tree. It appeared to grow almost sideways from an outcropping of rock about a hundred yards up the mountainside. She took off at a near sprint.

Pete stopped. He squinted his eyes through his glasses to get a better look at the tree. Maybe she was worth bringing along. “Good eye, Cass.” Pete climbed after her. “I don’t have that one. In fact I didn’t even know those grew around here. Let me get a closer look. Is it? No, can’t be!”

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hazzardous Universe Launch Party

Hey all you readers of YA/Middle Grade, there is an exciting new science fiction book soon to hit the shelves at Barnes and Noble--and hopefully the one in your living room. It's entitled Hazzardous Universe. Please come join Julie Wright for her launch party for Hazzardous Universe on March 9th at the Murray Utah Barnes and Noble (5300 south and State Street) She'll be there from 6-8 pm and we would love to see everyone there.

She is also holding a contest where you could win a copy of her new book. Check out her blog for the details.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thanks Authors Incognito

In a world inundated with selfishness from all quarters, I was reassured today that goodness and empathy still exists.

I have just completed two novels and have them polished to the point that my eyes can do them no more good. Last night, after I realized a certain family member was not going to be the resource I had counted on  to proof-read my books, I decided I needed to find a good beta reader. But asking someone to do something that even a family member wouldn't do left me feeling uncomfortable. I hate to ask for favors.

I became discouraged and ventured down the self-defeating I'll-never-become-a-published-author path. (I'm sure that never happens to any of you other writers out there). After a good night's rest, and some prayer, I felt better this morning. But I still needed to find a reader. I decided to post my need on an aspiring author Yahoo group that I'm associated with, Author's Incognito. Less than an hour later I had four different individuals contact me via e-mail to tell me they would be happy to be a beta reader for me. That made my day and gave me the jolt I needed to keep going.

I want to give a hearty THANK YOU to all those wonderful caring people who are members of Author's Incognito. I know I am not alone in receiving help on this not-so-pleasant path of becoming an author. I see other examples daily on our Yahoo group of help extended to others in a myriad of ways. It is refreshing oasis in a world filled with selfishness.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Winner of my first-ever contest: Taffy Lovell

Congratulations to Taffy. She is the winner of an autographed copy of The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby. I will send Taffy her new book as soon as I receive her mailing address. In the meantime, I have become a follower of her awesome book review blog The Book Addict. Stop on over at her blog and check out her great book reviews.

This month I will be giving away a set of Petite Performer puppets. If you would like to win some free puppets, keep checking back for more details.