Book Launch Party - Rain or Shine!

It's a book birthday party! Come celebrate the launch of Samson's Tale on Sat May 14th at the Penguin Bookshop from 1-3 pm.


This is my first time having a book party - because this one is so special to me. I'm not a huge party planner, so it is definitely taking me out of my comfort zone. Where to start? Well - since the book is about a boy and his dog and is being held during Sewickley Unleashed, a pet street fair, I decided to go with a "dog" theme. Themes are good because it gives me a direction to make decisions. So I've picked up some really cute dog napkins, plates and even some doggie lollipops! My illustrator, Kathleen Spale, also sent me a coloring page she made for the kids. Add in a few pieces of "swag" for giveaways and a cake and I think we're all set. The challenge will be getting everything to the book store. Parking is on the street and I'm not looking forward to hauling my cake several blocks if I can't find a good spot.

The weather forecast tomorrow is for rain - so great day to head to a book party! Hope to see you there!

Nonfiction Book Blast 2011

I'm really excited that I'm going to part of a panel of 10 nonfiction authors at this June's ALA summer conference in New Orleans. Plans for this have been in the works for several months and I've been pinching myself a lot  - I'm such a fan of the fantastic group of writers that I'll be with!


As part of our promotion for our talk, we've set up a blog that features info about each of us and weekly posts (mine is coming in June).

This week - check out Darcy Patterson's post about her process for writing nonfiction.

We've also got a trailer about our panel that Darcy's fabulously prepared - check it out! 


Release Day - Samson's Tale!

Today is the official release day for Samson's Tale! I'm very excited and proud about this book - my first picture book. Illustrator Kathleen Spale did a fantastic job bringing the story to life with her illustrations.

The idea for this story came to me when someone asked me to write a story about childhood cancer and a dog. Using our experiences with Dan as a basis, I wrote Samson's Tale. Although we didn't have a dog at the time Dan went through his leukemia treatments, I think that the feelings and emotions that Samson has are true for anyone who loves someone battling cancer - whether a parent, sibling, friend, or loving dog. The funny thing is that since I wrote the story, we did get a dog - Lily. And Dan's first question when I showed him the book..."Why isn't the dog named Lily?"

The two of them have an interesting relationship - they spend a lot of time together while the other kids are at school. I swear Lily thinks Dan is another puppy and she's his boss sometimes! Here they are -

We'll be celebrating Samson's Tale with a book launch on May 14th at the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley - more details to follow!

Interview - author Sabbithry Persad, Where Do Recyclable Materials Go?

Today I'm happy to interview author Sabbithry Persad about her new book Where Do Recyclable Materials Go?


First off - a little about the author: Sabbithry Persad is the creator of Garbology Kids™ She is the founder and executive managing editor of Green Solutions Magazine and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Toronto.

1. How did you come up with the idea for Garbology for Kids?

After reading an article on waste, I wanted to do more and that’s when I decided to write a story. We were already doing something for adults through Green Solutions Magazine, so  I thought, why not do something for kids. So I wrote a story for my niece and nephew that same night, and they loved it. One thing led to another and eventually that one book turned into five books, and everything just rolled along from there.

2. How did you become a children's author? Tell us a little about the path you took to get here.

As a child I wrote many stories and poems for fun, then I veered away from it and got into technical writing, which I also enjoyed because in some ways it has an underlying relationship to educational writing. In both, you are conveying specific information to a specific audience for a specific purpose. When I started writing stories again, I took the experience I had growing up and blended it with technical writing and some teaching experience over the years. Everything seemed to amalgamate into one succinct package.

3. I noticed that Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? is the first in a series – can you tell us a little bit about upcoming titles?

The Garbology Kids™ series idea was eventually inspired by the waste hierarchy. The first book, as you mentioned, is Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? which covers recycling. Other books in the series cover other levels of the waste hierarchy such as reducing, reusing, treating, transforming and disposing of waste. I’m currently working on the second book, reusing, which I hope to have out this September, provided the schedule stays on track.

4. Your bio says that you are also the editor of Green Solutions Magazine? How has also being an editor made you a better author? And vice versa?

Editing articles for Green Solutions Magazine has helped me to, among other things, think more about form and structure. As I began writing the first book, structure played a huge part in writing an educational piece for children. From the layout of the book sections to the content within each of those sections to the topic for each book in the series, structure helped form the skeleton of the entire series which then made it easy to focus on the actual writing. One can get really lost in writing blindly with so much information if structure is lost.

5. What do you hope kids take away from the Garbology Kids™ titles?

There are so many things I hope children take away from each title. The most important thing, however, that I would point out is for children to become conscious about the natural and the human-made world around them. Then I’d hope that they can recognize waste behaviors and either prevent them or change them to less wasteful ones.

Sabbithry - thank you so much for joining me on the blog! To learn more about Sabbithry and her book  - check out her website. Head over to watch a book trailer, enter a book giveaway, and find out more blog tour stops.

Interview with author Lori Calabrese

I'm thrilled to welcome Indie Debut author Lori Calabrese to my blog today! Lori's first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, has just been released by Dragonfly Publishing.

Here's a quick synopsis of this bug-filled adventure:

Hoping to win the upcoming Bug-A-Fair, Matt pries a strange bug off the grille of his Dad's car. But as the fair nears, Matt catches a different kind of bug: a cold. Will Matt become student of the year or will he create a third grade epidemic?

How did you come up with the idea for the Bug? Did you have a bug collection as a child?

You know, I never did have a bug collection although I have vivid memories of running around the front yard, catching fireflies with my brother. We’d often catch them in jars and let them go later. Although I was never a real bug person, it was fun watching those little buggers light up!

The idea for The Bug didn’t come about from any insect, though. It came about from another kind of bug—a stomach bug! You know the one—that vicious virus that hits your house, and doesn’t leave until it’s gotten everybody sick. I know every Mom out there reading this is shaking their head right now saying, ‘Been there, done that!’

 My oldest got it, unfortunately, and when everybody called to find out how he was doing, I always replied, “He caught the bug.” I know a lot of people who use that saying and I used it so much, it made me stop and think, “Why do we call a virus a bug?” I knew I had something, so I took the idea, expanded on the play on words of catching a cold and catching an insect and before I knew it, I had The Bug that Plagued the Entire Third Grade.

2.      I noticed that your book is in rhyme - something that I'm terrified to try. Do you write rhyming picture books a lot? What challenges do you find when trying this format?


I LOVE writing rhyming picture books and if I had my way, that might be all I’d write! However, the picture book market is tough right now and rhyming picture books are a tough sell. Many other writers are also out there trying their hand at this genre, so it’s very competitive. But I love it so much and guess you can say, I’m one who must!


However, there are definitely many challenges when trying to write a rhyming picture book. First, there’s the rhyme. It’s not as easy as everyone thinks, which I realized when I first sat down to write one. It’s an art form to get rhyme and meter right, and I’ll sit at my computer for hours counting the syllables in each line. But you also have to strive to match the stressed and unstressed beats of a word for it to flow perfectly. Another challenge is that the story has to be good! All of the rules that apply to a perfectly structured novel, also apply to a picture book in rhyme. You need fun, interesting characters and a conflict or problem that grabs the reader’s interest.  

Dori Chaconas has compared writing a picture book in rhyme to a crossword puzzle and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a lot like the challenge of finding the perfect word to fill that blank space, but when you do, you feel so rewarded.

3.      You also write for children's magazines? What types of articles/stories do you write and how are they different than writing a picture book?


I’ve written for various children’s magazines such as Odyssey, Appleseeds, and Boys’ Life. When it comes to writing for children’s magazines, I tend to lean more toward nonfiction for middle grade readers and I’ve written about everything from peculiar penguins to Ancient Romans washing their clothes in urine to animals that play dead. I love research and think writing nonfiction articles for kids allows you to tap into your unusual, weird and hilarious side. You have to find that one topic that’s going to hook kids and present it in an interesting way. It’s so much different than writing a picture book because there’s no made-up stuff in nonfiction. Although you’re still using storytelling techniques, you’re often presenting quirky facts kids find interesting.

4.      How did you become a children's author? Tell us a little about the path you took to get here.


 I dived into the world of freelance writing in 2007 after the birth of my second son and haven’t turned back since. Not only do my boys provide me endless entertainment and headaches, it was because of them that I discovered my renewed passion for children’s books. We make endless trips to the library and read stacks of books. And that’s how I’ve discovered I can’t get enough of them.

I decided to become a writer because reading books to my children inspired me to write my own. I felt like I had so many stories that I wanted to share and ideas kept popping in my head, so there was nothing left to do but jot them down on paper (and do revision after revision after revision while banging my head on the keyboard, but that’s the less glamorous part, so let’s just skip over that!).

After a year of researching the publishing industry online, I realized I needed to hone my writing skills, so I took a course with The Institute of Children’s Literature and joined SCBWI. That’s when I started writing for children’s magazines, building my resume and finally taking the plunge to submitting my book manuscripts. 

5. What are you currently working on?

I’m knee-deep in a middle grade sports novel. Besides rhyming picture books, I’ve always been drawn to contemporary sports novels. I think part of it is because the action is already there—you have the tension and excitement of athletic competition, but you also have the drama, relationships and social issues that have created a permanent niche for sports literature.

6.      Last but not least....favorite ice cream?

Coffee! However, nobody else in my house likes coffee ice cream, so unless I buy those incredibly expensive little tubs for myself, I end up eating chocolate chip cookie dough!

Thanks for having me, Carla. I suddenly have the urge for an ice cream sundae! Gee—thanks!

Thanks Lori! For more information about Lori and her book, visit her website