Monday, January 30, 2012

January Update

The holidays are over and the house is back to normal. Somewhat, anyway. The best thing about decking the halls with boughs of holly, santas, snowmen, Christmas cards, and angels is tucking them neatly away in their designated Rubbermaid tubs, when the season is over. The house looks bigger and cleaner and more organized.

When the house feels organized, I feel productive. Amanda is back in school in Daytona Beach, FL (poor kid, huh?) hopefully with her nose to the grindstone, and my writing den is all mine, once again. 

As I look back on my goals for 2012, I'm thinking my ambition may have been bigger than my capabilities. Setting goals keeps me from roaming aimlessly through life but I think the problem lies in the fact that I have too many unfinished tasks from 2011 and my brain is telling me to complete them before moving on to my detailed schedule for the new year.

But all is not lost, I'm co-mingling unfinished 2011 tasks with my new schedule in baby steps. While I've written and submitted two adult short stories and two poems (one of which was already accepted!) and started on another novel (I couldn't help myself!) my children's writing goals are a little behind. My ICL lesson is going to need another week or two before it's suitable for sending to my instructor and I haven't any children's short stories begging for release from my brain.

Have no fear, I haven't given up, though! For now, I think my key to any accomplishment in the next few months will be perseverance. That schedule may need a little adjusting.

What about you? Have you set any goals for yourself? How are you faring?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Spreading The News (January) A New Agency & A Great Website

On March 1, 2012, Marisa Corvisiero, formerly of the L. Perkins Agency, will be opening the doors to her own agency, Corvisiero Literary Agency, LLC.

Keep your eyes open. She will post the new website address and submission guidelines. Corvisiero Literary Agency will implement a new electronic submission system that will not only allow authors to submit queries online, but can also see status updates! No more worrying and wondering if the agent received the query. No more unanswered submissions--the site will let the author know where they are in queue and when their query is being read. This is extremely exciting!

Ms. Corvisiero is training two Junior Agents for the agency, who will work alongside her with author submissions. Don't submit anything yet, though! But when she opens for submissions, make sure you send her a well-drafted story with a unique voice and well developed characters. Here's what she's looking for:

"I love unique stories, especially in mixed genres. I will consider Romance, Thrillers, Adventure, Paranormal, Fantasy, Science Fiction, and the same for Young Adults and Middle Grade readers. In non-fiction I enjoy out of box and high concept spiritual, self improvement, parenting, science, and pop-culture."

Marisa also works closely with Literary Powerhouse Consulting. They offer a huge array of services--from writing to printing, publicity, one-on-one coaching, finding an agent, online workshops, self-publishing and distribution. They also offer "Over the Top Services" for when you earn the big bucks, such as Event Planning, Catering, Fashion Styling, and Success Coaching. The LitPow Portal, a members-only gathering place for authors, agents, publishers, etc to connect with each other, is coming soon!

Read Marisa's Blog for a sneak peek at what the LitPow Portal will offer.

I've been a Poets & Writers subscriber for about a year now, but just recently went to their website. WoW! I certainly missed out on a ton of useful information this past year!

The classifieds page is chock full of Calls for Submissions, from anthologies and books to magazines. They also have listings for conferences, contests, jobs, retreats, and workshops. Check them out and sign-up. It's FREE!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An Interesting Article

If you remember my post Fun Facts on January, I told you all that January is National Braille Month.

This morning, I received an e-mail from Jasmine Hall, one of the staff writers at Online Colleges. She asked me to share with all of you the article they recently posted on their blog.  15 Facts to Share During Braille Literacy Month.

I found these facts very interesting and I thought you all would too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

"The House on Parchment Street" by Patricia A McKillip (Book Thoughts)

I know you're all anxiously waiting for me to announce the winner of the awesome YA novel, Shadow Dancer. One lucky person will be the recipient of the first book in Courtney Rene's Shadow Trilogy! Hopefully, they will love it as much as I did and HAVE to get their hands on the already released second novel, Shadow Warrior.  But I can't just announce the winner right away! Why don't you sit back, relax, and read this week's post, first. I promise I'll get to the winner...

I've decided to make Book Thoughts a monthly feature.
Since I read old books and new books in multiple genres, you just never know what I'll have to share with you.

I came across this month's book, "The House on Parchment Street," by accident. I have a friend who frequents garage sales and consignment shops and this past summer I asked her to pick up as many children's books as she could find so I could send them off to another writing friend who donates them to sick children. I kept a couple of the books she gave me so I could get a feel for different age groups and genres of children's books.

Carol, a quirky fifteen-year-old American girl, visits family in England. Her fourteen-year-old cousin, Bruce, lives in a three hundred-year-old house which he hates. Carol and Bruce don't get along at all until they discover they have both seen the ghosts in cellar. They work together to discover the reason why the ghosts are still roaming the property and in the meantime, discover things about themselves and each other.

"The House on Parchment Street" was first printed in 1973. 1973!! That's about the time I would have been eleven years old and just the right age to read this middle grade mystery book.

When I read the back cover, the story line appealed to me, and the cover intrigued me. There are also some great drawings by Charles Robinson, scattered throughout the book.

First of all, the book opens with Carol, sitting barefoot on her suitcase on Parchment Street. She had flown into London and then taken a bus into the countryside where her mother's family lives. She hadn't waited for her aunt and uncle to pick her up at the airport because she forgot. I found this a little unbelievable, but the whole barefoot thing really threw me for a loop.

When her uncle confronts Bruce about being spotted smoking a cigarette, the uncle says, "You're old enough to make those kind of decisions..." What??

Anyway, I found the dialogue herky-jerky and very preachy (except when it came to smoking cigarettes). There were entire paragraphs of dialog that weren't really needed in the story, and a whole lot of telling instead of showing, specifically with adverbs in the dialog tags.

I really liked the story idea and I don't mean to be harsh. I realize 1973 was a totally different time, but this book was reprinted in 1991, and the fact that parts of the story were not changed, surprises me. Needless to say, I was disappointed with the writing and I'm glad today's publishing industry demands quality writing for children.


Do you have a book suggestion or your own published book you'd like me to read? Drop me an e-mail at


OopS! I almost forgot...No, I'm just kidding. Thank you to everyone who read my interview with Courtney and for leaving a comment. Ok, here goes...
Drum roll, please.....The winner of the Shadow Dancer giveaway is...Anne Johnson!
Congratulations, Anne!  I will be contacting you soon for your information so you can get your copy of Shadow Dancer.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Author Spotlight--Courtney Rene

Courtney Rene is well-known among the Institute of Children's Literature crowd. She has contributed to several anthologies and is the author of magazine articles, short fiction, and her first novel, Shadow Dancer.

Shadow Dancer, published in 2010 by Rogue Phoenix Press, is a YA paranormal novel about a young girl named Sunny. Sunny has an amazing gift but doesn't know how to control it. She meets Leif, a boy from the Kingdom of Acadia, on the other side of the shadows, who teaches Sunny how to use her powers.

When the Shadow Guard arrives to bring Sunny back to Acadia, Sunny must learn to defend herself not only from the Shadow Guard and come to terms with the lies and deceit from the people she loves.

Courtney's second novel in the series, Shadow Warrior, also published through Rogue Phoenix Press, will be released on January 15, 2012, and I'm ecstatic that she has agreed to grant me my first-ever author interview!

Good morning, Courtney, and thanks for being here. Congratulations on your new novel! Could you tell us a little about Shadow Warrior?

Thanks so much for having me! As for a little about Shadow Warrior, I don’t know where to begin. The book picks up just a few short months after the end of Shadow Dancer. It’s spring break and Sunny and Leif are going to visit Acadia for the first time. It’s suppose to be fun and exciting, but from the moment they arrive things don’t go as planned. Sunny is ill-prepared and a bit ticked off about it. It doesn’t get better for her from there either. It’s a fun romp through many emotions. I can’t wait to see what my readers think of it.

After I read Shadow Dancer, I was very curious about what Sunny's visit to the Kingdom of Acadia would be like. Was it difficult to create such a place?

It was at first. I think I was trying too hard. Once I let go and allowed my imagination to take over, Acadia came to life.

Sunny is a fun, sassy character but she has so many facets to her personality. Is her character modeled after anyone particular in your life?

Sunny is who I wish I could be sometimes. She is snarky and funny and stronger than she realizes. She also has a bit of my daughter in her. That sarcasm Sunny tosses around, oh yeah, that’s my Sidney.

The cover of Shadow Warrior is great! It hints at an action-packed story, but can you give us a hint about Sunny's relationship with Leif?

I love the cover too! The artist did a great job and I couldn’t be happier. As for Leif, he is going through a rough patch in Shadow Warrior. He is struggling with who he is, was, and who he wants to be, as well as his desperate need to “win”.

What is your favorite part of Shadow Warrior? What was the hardest part to write?

My favorite part is when Sunny gets wounded and separated from Leif. We get to meet new people and struggle along with Sunny as she is left to fend for herself with them.

The hardest part to write was the end. I was sad with it and hurt right along with Sunny. I had to re-write it several times, as it got a bit too dark again and again. I actually had to put it aside for a while to try to figure out why it was going the direction it was. It’s still a bit sad, but the darkness is not so oppressive. I am already second guessing myself though and wondering if I should have left it dark.

Could you tease us a little with an excerpt?

Of Course!

"This is going to feel a bit strange," he said, still looking at me.

"Strange, how?" I asked. Strange weird would be okay, but strange pain, would not.
Leif shrugged his shoulders and said, "Just strange."

Then before I could get a better answer out of him, he said, "Here we go. One, two, pull."

I did as Leif instructed. I pulled the shadows up and over me again and suddenly, without warning, I was jerked painfully backward. The world was suddenly dark and grey. Everything was spinning out of control. It was spinning around and around and over and over, and my head clouded and fogged. I felt like I was tumbling and falling, and then we stopped, just as instantaneous as we had begun.

The ground was now solid again beneath my feet. I wobbled once, twice then I dropped to my knees and threw up the entire contents of my stomach. I felt Leif pull back my hair for me and thought absently, that's nice.

My head still spun, even after my stomach finally stopped heaving. I sat back on my feet, my head hung down. A bottle of water was thrust under my nose. I took it and washed out my mouth as I tried to regain my senses. The first real thought that came to my head was, "That felt more than a little strange."

For anyone who hasn't read the first novel, Shadow Dancer, I strongly suggest you get yourself a copy while you wait for January 15th and the release of Shadow Warrior. Courtney, could you tell us how and where it is available?

You can find it:

Through my publisher, Phoenix Press



Barnes and Noble

What are some of the other projects you're currently working on?

Several actually.

I have a new paranormal book coming out late 2012 titled “A Howl in the Night”.

I am finishing up book 3 in the Shadow Dancer series right now, currently titled, “Shadow’s End”. Revisions are the pits. They take FOREVER.

And, I am considering doing a telling of Leif’s story. How he became the man he is and what happens after Shadow’s End. That, I will have to get back to you on though. It’s still just a “hmmm maybe” idea that I am running by my publisher.

Besides, the 'Shadow' novels, where else can we find your work?

The best place to find out that information is my blog ( There is a tab just for published work that I have recently updated.

Courtney, thank you so much for spending time with us and allowing me to interview you. Congratulations, again, and I wish you much success with your writing.

I had fun, there were great interview questions. Thanks again for having me and thanks so much for all your support!

Please feel free to contact Courtney at or


Leave a comment and you may be the lucky person to win a copy of Courtney Rene's, Shadow Dancer!

Winner will be announced on Monday, January 16th.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Fun Facts about January

January is named after Janus, the god of the doorway. On average, the first month of the year contains thirty one of the coldest days and nights in the Northern Hemisphere.

January and October start on the same day in common years.

Garnet, the birthstone of those born in January, respresents constancy.
The birth flower is the carnation.
People born before January 20th have a zodiac sign of Capricorn, and those born the 21st and after, are born under the sign Aquarius.

January is known as:

National Thank You Month
National Soup Month
National Staying Healthy Month
National Blood Donor Month
National Braille Literacy Month.

On the second Monday in January, Japan celebrates Coming of Age Day. Anyone who reached the age of 20 years old is congratulated and encouraged with festivals and small presents.

The third Monday in January commemorates the birthday of the spokesman for non-violent civil rights, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Famous dates in January:

January 2--Isaac Asimov born (1920) Science fiction writer.
January 3--JRR Tolkien born (1892) Author of Lord of the Rings.
January 8--Elvis Presley born (1935)
January 9--Dave Matthews born (1967) Singer
January 10--"The Common Sense" by Thomas Paine published in 1776
January 17--Shari Lewis born (1934) creator of the well-known puppet, Lambchop.
January 18--Peter Roget born (1779) author of the writer's best friend, Roget's Thesaurus.
January 19--Edgar Allen Poe born (1809)
January 25--Alicia Keys born (1981)
January 27--Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart born (1756)
                    Lewis Carroll born (1832) creator of Alice in Wonderland
January 29--Oprah Winfrey born (1954)