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Cover for Samson's Tale!!

I'm so excited! My publisher, Story Pie Press (formerly Earth Day Publishing) just emailed me the cover of my upcoming picture book, Samson's Tale - a story about childhood cancer!

Doesn't it look awesome? Kathleen Spale, the illustrator, did a fantastic job. I can't wait to see the rest of the pictures.

The plans right now are that the book will be available December 17th. More info to come on a launch, events, etc! And of course a portion of the proceeds will go to childhood cancer charities!

Interview and Free Book Contest

Click over to C.Lee McKenzie's blog, read my interview and post a comment for a chance to win a free signed copy of Owen and the Dragon!

Review of Owen and the Dragon

Donna McDine just posted a nice review of Owen and the Dragon at the National Writing for Children Center. Thanks Donna!

I'd love to gather in a few more reviews - anyone know bloggers who'd like to take me up on the offer? Leave a comment and I'll send you review copy of the book.

In My Bath by Beth Bence Reinke

Today I'm excited to host fellow Indie Debut 2010 author Beth Bence Reinke who has not one but two pictures books coming out this year with 4RV Publishing. Beth's first picture book, In My Bath, is a delightful and whimsical story. She takes the reader on an imagination thrill ride, pretending to be different animals splashing and sliding in the tub. It is an easy story for kids to have fun with and imagine all sorts of creatures in their bath.

Tell us about In My Bath - what inspired you for this story idea?

Two things inspired this story. First was a bedtime picture book that showed a little girl pretending to sleep in different animal beds like a bird nest, in a cave, underwater. The second was a bedtime routine with my sons where I acted out silly skits using their stuffed animals - including an elephant and manatee, which appear in In My Bath. Those two things merged into a little boy imagining different water-loving animals in his bathtub.

Although picture books don't have a lot of words, they are some of the most difficult books to write. How long did it take you to write In My Bath?

First I wrote down two things– the steps in taking a bath and a list of water-loving animals. Then I matched an animal to each step and wrote what the boy and animal were doing. That all flowed pretty quickly. The reworking and editing took longer. I tend to put things aside for a while to let them “cool,” then come back to them with fresh eyes. So even though this is a short book, it was probably several weeks from start to finish.

I love the illustrations in your book - did you have any input?

 When submitting the manuscript, I noted which animal or bird would be on each page to help the editor understand and visualize the story. Once the illustrator was assigned to the project, I didn’t see the illustrations until they were finished. I think Ginger did a fantastic job!

You have another picture book out shortly - tell us a little bit about that one.

 A Wish and a Prayer releases this summer from 4RV Publishing. It is a story about a boy named Jason whose pet parakeet flies out the window and is lost. The book explores the differences between wishing and praying.

Where can we read more about you online and/or purchase your books?

Visit me at http://www.bethbencereinke.com You can purchase the books from my website or 4RV Publishing. They are also available from Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble online. If you prefer shopping in a brick and mortar store, any bookstore will order them for you.

Thanks Beth!


Interview with Author Danika Dinsmore

Today, I'm hosting author Danika Dinsmore to talk about her new novel, Brigitta of the White Forest.  Welcome Danika!


1. Tell us a little bit about your background and your book
 Well, I’m a restless creative mutt, how about that? I started my writing career as a poet, earning my poetic license through education, strenuous literary event production, and miles of spoken word performances. Somewhere along the way I decided I had a good idea for a screenplay. I spent a few years at the University of Washington in a screenwriting program and thought I had found my true calling
A few years later I wrote a screenplay for a fantasy adventure that started garnering interest from producers. It dawned on me that it would make a good children’s book. I tried to convince someone to adapt it for me, but alas, she laughed and told me to write it myself. So I did. Lo and behold, I accidentally became a novelist.

2. What was your inspiration for this book? How did the story unfold for you?
 It began as an attempt to write something more marketable. I had written a lot of experimental poetry and dark indie dramas . . . all of which I enjoyed with a passion, but none of which were leading to making a living as a writer. I decided that I would have to think bigger and broader and I just let that idea bounce around in my head for a while.
 One day I was store-sitting for a friend. Her store was filled with magical items, tarot decks, renaissance wear, and statues of fantastic beings. I found myself surrounded by faeries and suddenly the characters of Brigitta and Himalette popped into my head. The story came shortly thereafter, fully formed, as if I had plucked it from the ether.
 This didn’t make the task of writing it down any easier, but writing the screenplay first was a great help. I used it as an outline for the novel. I’ve often thought of teaching people to work this way, as screenplays are necessarily imagistic and are great for story structure. 

 3. What do you like best writing or revising? Any stories to share about the writing/revision process for Brigitta?
 I like them both for different reasons, but what I love most is the surprise of each. The surprise of it appearing, magically, from nowhere, and the surprise of reading it later and discovering that it works! Editing is extremely satisfying, tightening the writing, solving plot issues, delving deeper. 
 Revision takes a long time and it’s challenging to stay patient for one more round of editing. When I finished the third draft of the novel, I thought I was pretty much done. Little did I know how much better it would be after three more drafts. I am lucky to have several talented writer friends to trade critiques back and forth. We hold no punches with each other. 

 4. What skills do you have that make you a better writer?
 I know not to let my ego get in the way of listening to a solid critique. I know how to take feedback in stride, to really think objectively about what the person is telling me. It is vital that one doesn’t let hurt feelings distract them from becoming a better writer. I ask, “Can this feedback make the story and my writing better?”
 I also know when to trust my own instincts. It’s a balancing act. 

 5. Tell us about any new projects you have in the works.
 Other than editing the 2nd book in the White Forest series, I am developing a web series. It’s not for kids, though. This is something I struggle with a little, actually. After one becomes a children’s writer, does one then have to censor themselves in other creative endeavors? I think of Judy Blume writing for both kids and adults. And Neil Gaiman. Perhaps it’s not something to worry too much about. 

 6. Last question - chocolate or vanilla?


Thanks Danika for some great  insight on Brigitta and your writing life!

For more information about Danika and Brigitta of the White Forest visit her website . You'll also find info on other blog stops she'll be making!

My First Booksignings

This past weekend, I participated in my first two booksignings. They were both very different events and I think I learned a lot from each. As most authors know, unless you are super famous like John Grisham or J.K.Rowling, time spent at a booksigning can be ...well... lonely. So - I found it good to enlist two helpers for moral support at each event - my daughter and my mom!

First on Saturday, I visited the Penguin Bookshop in Sewickley, PA for their Beckoning of Booklovers event. There were several authors there and I was at a table with two other ladies. Honestly, three at a table was a bit crowded, but chalk that up as something learned! I also learned something about my marketing style. At my table there were both extremes - one auther who was very aggressive and another who appeared to be bothered she was there. It was an interesting dynamic to say the least!

Here are some pics from the day -

Here's one of my helpers -

The next day, I did a signing at the Barnes & Noble Waterfront in Homestead, PA. They were having a school book fair and invited me to read a bit from Owen and the Dragon and sign some books. Everyone I met there was incredibly nice, from both the store and the school.They made me feel really welcome.

I even bought the stuffed dragon in the picture below because he matches Phineas so well!!

Although I didn't sell a lot of books, I enjoyed the experience and talking to the different parents, teachers and kids.  It made me excited to start some school visits this fall!

Interview at Jo Ramsey's Blog

Stop over at fellow author Jo Ramsey's blog for another interview about Owen and the Dragon. Jo is the author of YA novel Connection, which I have sitting on my desk and calling me to read (which I promise to do as soon as I finish my Explorer outline which is due on Monday!!)


The blog tour rolls on - this time I'm visiting the blog of fellow author Lori Calabrese. Check out our talk here!

Fellow Indie Debut member, Scott Heydt, is hosting me at his blog for a few more questions about writing and Owen and the Dragon. Check it out!

Blog Tour - Stopping at The White Forest

Owen and I are traveling to a faerie world! Check out our latest stop at Danika Dinsmore's blog, The White Forest!