Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~ Thomas A. Edison ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
M. L. Keller has a terrific post HERE on Authorial Intrusion. This is something we all do now and again. It can be effective if done right, but one must be careful. 

Laurence McNaughton has a guest post HERE on Janice Hardy’s Fiction University that will help you make your characters irresistable to readers. 

It’s always nice to get tips from the masters. HERE are 11 writing tips from George R.R. Martin. He does know how. 

I would like to take a moment to be serious here. My daughter Maggie is in the fight of her life and needs some help. I would appreciate it if you could view her short video and help out by sharing her link on Facebook, Twitter, or any other way to get the word out. Here is the link: https://www.youcaring.com/maggiehollinbeck-946234

Last week, I offered a copy of Brave Red, Smart Frog by Emily Jenkins to one of you. It was a popular choice, I think. This week, not one person said to leave them out of the drawing, and I heard from some folks who seldom leave a comment. My granddaughter picked the winner this week, and it is John Smith. Congratulations, John! I'll get the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have a really fun book for a giveaway this week.

When my grandkids and I took our trip to Colorado this summer, Greg Pattridge, who blogs at Always in the Middle, gave my granddaughter a book that I had coincidently chosen for review. We both simply loved A Babysitter's Guide to Monster Hunting by Joe Ballarini and can hardly wait for the next one to come out. So much fun! Anyway, here is my review.

Kelly Ferguson has terrific Halloween plans. She and her best friend are going to a party where all the cool kids will be, including Victor, the guy who Kelly crushes on. But when Kelly’s mother’s boss calls and says her babysitter has fallen through for the night, Kelly’s mother blithely offers Kelly’s services. The kid, Jacob,  turns out to be a real handful — manipulative, smart, and scared of monsters. But when the monsters turn out to be real and when they steal Jacob away, everything changes for Kelly. She has to find a way to get Jacob back or her mother will lose her job. She makes an emergency phone call to Jacob’s regular babysitter and finds herself allied with a few monster-hunting babysitters with skills and knowledge Kelly never dreamed of.

"So much candy was given out that the air was dusted with sugar, 
and the breeze tasted sweet. Days after inhaling so much candy, 
a trick-or-treater could pick his nose, eat it, and swear he was 
eating a grape-flavored jelly bean."

Author Joe Ballarini has written an absolute romp of a book that will have kids
Joe Ballarini
everywhere howling for more. Fortunately, it looks like this will be only the first of a terrific series. The writing is crisp and absolutely pitch perfect for the middle-grade set. The story is exciting, funny, and very, very smart. This deserves, and will probably receive, readership beyond the target audience.



I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.


Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Brave Red, Smart Frog -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
"When your story is ready for rewrite, cut it to the bone. Get rid of every ounce of excess fat.
This is going to hurt; revising a story down to the bare essentials is always a little like
murdering children, but it must be done." 
~ Stephen King ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
We are lucky Janice Hardy did a guest post at Middle Grade Mafia HERE about how to be sure your protagonist is just a little too lucky. 

You can get some good ideas about getting ideas HERE at the Mixed Up Files of … Middle Grade Authors. 

Come to your senses! Alex Limbaugh at Ride the Pen has a good post HERE about getting the five senses into your writing. 

I hope you all had a nice Labor Day weekend. I know I did. Some family time and some grilling and a whole lot of relaxation . . . and no blog post. C'est la vie.

When we last met here, I promised a copy of My Weird School Fast Facts: Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets by Dan Gutman to one of you. Extra chances by spreading the word might be the key to why Nancy won the book this week. Thanks for sharing my link, Nancy, and congratulations! I will get the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have another fun giveaway this week, so please keep reading.

I was contacted by a publicist not too long ago with an offer of a few books in exchange for some reviews. That's always a good deal as far as I'm concerned. So I requested some. I loved the title Brave Red, Smart Frog, and I do love a good fairy tale, so that was my first choice. This little tome has seven retold fairy tales in it -- some very familiar and some not so familiar. It includes Hansel and Gretel, Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and the Frog Prince as well as three not so well-known tales -- Toads and Pearls, The Three Great Noodles, and Three Wishes. All are written splendidly with fresh language and a bit of a fresh take on the stories. The book also has a lovely illustration with an absolutely classic fairy tale look at the beginning of each story by Rohan Daniel Eason as well as a cover that will tempt young readers to open the book. Author Emily Jenkins has clearly done her homework in finding texts that tell the stories well and giving her a good platform to write her own take. If you like fairy tales, you
Emily Jenkins
will definitely want a copy of this book.

I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Weird School Fast Facts Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets -- Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Somebody asked me: 'What do you do? How do you write, create?' You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: 'not' to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks
you make a pet out of it.” 
~ Charles Bukowski ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
As writers we are always looking for ways to make our characters distinctive. Language patterns certainly can help. The post HERE on Grammar Girl is about language forensics, and I found it fascinating. I thought you might also enjoy it, and it might give you some ideas for your own characters. 

Writers get stuck on a lot of things. When you are stuck on plot, the post by Janice Hardy HERE will help you out. 

Anne R. Allen’s blog always has something worth reading. The post HERE on writer’s mistakes she made so you don’t have to is another good one. 

I know the quote this week isn't the kind of inspirational quote I usually post, but I am a big fan of Charles Bukowski and this one just kind of spoke to me. I hope you like it.

Last week I offered a copy of Mrs. Master is a Disaster by Dan Gutman to one of you. This week's winner is Kristi V. Kristi shared the link a couple of places for extra chances and it worked! Congratulations, Kristi V., and thanks for spreading the word. For the rest of you, I not only have another book to give away, but I have another Dan Gutman book to give away, so stay tuned.

I ws lucky enough to snag two Dan Gutman books for the review. Here is what I wrote about My Weird School Fast Facts Explorers, Presidents, and Toilets.

A.J. and his nemesis, Andrea, are together again to bring plenty of fascinating fast facts to their reading audience much as they did in earlier books about geography and sports. How many facts can these two kids know? Well, it turns out it’s quite a few. Most of them are actual facts, although it’s a good idea to think hard about some that A.J. offers up. This book takes a fresh look at American history. They start by talking about the explorers who discovered our great land and those who thought they discovered it. Then on to the history of the Colonies and the beginning of our country all the way to a chapter called Everything that Happened After WWII and ending with a chapter on the history of toilets. It seems toilets always have a place in A.J.’s life.
Dan Gutman

Author Dan Gutman has a wicked sense of humor, and it shows on every page in this super fun overview of our country’s history. Most middle grade readers will just read right through without realizing how much learning they are doing. Illustrator Jim Paillot helps the fun along but adds photos for a touch of reality.  

I have a gently-read paperback of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mrs. Master is a Disaster -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“There is progress whether ye are going forward or backward! The thing is to move.” 
~ Edgar Cayce ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Have you ever heard of the First Person Plural point of view? I never had until I read the essay HERE from Aerogramme Writer’s Studio. Fascinating. I suspect we will be seeing this perspective more often. 

HERE are some great tips about writing from writers. My personal favorites are 3, 15, and 17. There may be an ad when you open this, but it’s worth waiting for. 

Have you received a Revise and Resubmit request from an agent? I sure hope it happens to me one of these days. Anyway, HERE is a good post from Guide to Literary Agents on that topic. 

On the Writing News from Rosi front, I have a couple of things to report. I had an email from High Five Magazine recently. They bought a little story from me back in 2011. They are going to (finally!) publish it in the March 2018 issue, and they have a wonderful artist lined up to illustrate it. I don't think I'm allowed to mention who, but I'm excited! The other news is that I have been accepted to the SCBWI Nevada mentorship program for this year! WooHoo! It's a great program and am so honored to be part of it. I really think this will be a huge step for me in my writing.

Last week, I offered a copy of Greek Myths: Three Heroic Tales by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden, and illustrated by Carole Henaff. Our winner this week is Danielle Hammelef. Congratulations, Danielle! She always shares my link lots of places for extra chances. I appreciate that and it's fun for me when her name pops out as winner. Danielle, I will get the book out to you soon. For the rest of you, I have a really fun book to give away this week.

I was looking for some really light middle-grade books to keep my review list from being too overwhelming. I saw a couple Dan Gutman books on the list and grabbled them. His books are pretty funny stuff. I love his footnotes. Here is the review I wrote for Mrs. Master is a Disaster.

It is Grandparent's Day in A.J.’s classroom. The old fogies (A.J.’s grandfather's word) come trooping in and tell their stories. Some are pretty funny and some are pretty interesting. But the most interesting of all is Alexia's grandmother, Mrs. Master. She is an inventor. She has invented some amazing things such as self-tying shoes and eyeglasses with little windshield wipers on them. Needless to say, the kids are very intrigued. They decide if they can invent something, they can all become bazillionaires! Mrs. Master agrees to mentor them. First they must come up with an idea for a product that everyone would want or need. After kicking around a few ideas, they decide that everyone needs a toilet seat — but one that glows in the dark, smells nice, can carry on a
Dan Gutman
conversation, and is heated. What could go wrong?

Dan Gutman is a very, very funny guy who writes very, very funny books. This is no exception. And his partner in crime … um, I mean funny books … is illustrator Jim Paillot who makes Gutman’s funny books just that much funnier. Early middle-grade readers will race through this latest offering.

I have a gently-read paperback of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Greek Myths: Three Heroic Tales -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“A writer is, after all, only half his book. The other half is the reader
and from the reader the writer learns.” 
~ P.L. Travers ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Dialog, dialog, dialog. I can’t get enough of good posts about making it better. HERE is a great one from M. L. Keller. She does use a few, ahem, bad words (although I don’t think there is any such thing as a bad word as long as it does its job), so be aware of that. 

K. M. Weiland has two posts on plotting problems. See HERE if your plots are too flat and HERE to help you with plots that are too complex. 

Janice Hardy, it seems, has a second site called Romance University. Who knew? Anyway, she has a wonderful post HERE on An Easy Way to Create Conflict in Your Novel. 

The Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference last week was amazing. If any of you ever have a
Lewis Buzbee
chance to take a class of any kind from Lewis Buzbee, do it. He is simply wonderful. We had twelve in our workshop (three morning workshops of about three hours each), and I learned a great deal not only from what others had to say about my writing, but from what everyone had to say about all the writing we looked at. In addition there were pitch sessions with critiques by agents and editors, readings by all workshop leaders and many of the attendees, and other workshops such as the ones I attended on dialogue and screenwriting. And of course, Mendocino is just a spectacular place. So, my writing well is a bit fuller than it was before, thanks to that terrific three days.

Amandine's birthday picture
I have a new resident at my home. I saw several pleas on our neighborhood email group for host homes for exchange students. When my daughters were still at home and in school, we hosted five exchange students -- three from Germany, one from Sweden, and one from Yugoslavia. The experiences were great and I thought it might be nice to offer my home now. I contacted them and they had a young woman in Belgium who had not yet been placed. After checking me out, the organization decided I probably am not a serial killer, and they sent her to me. Amandine Crabbe arrived last Sunday night, we celebrated her 18th birthday on Monday, and she started at the local high school on Wednesday. I think it should be a fun and rewarding year for both of us.

When last we met, I promised an ARC of The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York by Goeff Rodkey. This week's winner is Tudy. Congratulations, Tudy! I will be getting your book out to you soon. For the rest of you, please keep reading, I do have another wonderful book to give away this week. 

This week I will share my love of retold myths. I ran across a middle-grade book for review
called Greek Myths: Three Heroic Tales by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden and illustrated by Carole Henaff. It is a real winner. Here is the review I've written for the Manhattan Book Review. 

Hades steals the beautiful Persephone to be his bride, but her mother, Demeter, is so heartbroken she withholds all her gifts to the earth of growing things. Zeus demands Persephone’s return but only if she hasn’t eaten any food in Hades. But Persephone had eaten six seeds from a pomegranate, so a compromise is reached allowing her to live six months above ground, saving the earth. The story of Theseus and the Minotaur is one young people will especially relate to with such a young man who seems to be a hero, then turns out not to be. Justice in the world of the Greek gods is swift and painful. The third tale, that of Orpheus and the love of his life Eurydice, is simply a lovely story that will enthrall readers.

Authors Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden retell these ancient stories in beautiful, lyrical language putting their own stamp on them with unusual details. They include back-matter for each to familiarize young readers with the stories’s origins.Illustrator Carole Henaff completes the stories with art that hearkens back to ancient Greece, reminiscent of art found on vases and amphoras of that period. Middle graders will love this.

I have a gently-read paperback of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York -- Review and giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.” 
~ Larry King ~
Gifts for My Writer Friends:
If you need some tips for writing superbad villains, HERE is the post for you from The Creative Pen. 

Michelle Keller at Just Write… has a great post HERE that will help you make your dialog sections much more interesting. 

The Writer Magazine has a terrific article HERE on rejecting rejection. It’s a good one. 

I took the last two weeks off to spend some time traveling with my grandchildren. Gehrig, 15 and 11/12ths, just got his driver's permit and was thrilled to go with a grandma who wanted help with the driving. Gracie, who turned 12 while we were on the trip, was pretty content to watch scenery and supply us with her personal playlist for our listening pleasure. I'm happy to say she is heavy into 80s music. Great stuff. 

We left early and drove to Salt Lake City the first day, then on to Denver to stay with my best friend from college, her wife, and their three odd little dogs. Using this as home base, Gehrig and I had tickets for a Rockies game. This is where blogging came to be a blessing. Through the years, I have faithfully read Greg Pattridge's wonderful blog, Always in the Middle, and he has faithfully read mine. We became blogging buddies, and he had asked me to get in touch if I made it to the Denver area. I did, and Greg got a ticket for the Rockies game near where we were sitting and graciously drove Gehrig and I to the game and back. The traffic in Denver is CRAZY and, if you don't know where you are going, pretty intimidating. What a gift! If that weren't enough, he hosted the kids and I for lunch at his home and gave us all books. Thanks, Greg! It was so much fun. 

After a few days in Denver, we drove through the mountains to Montrose, Colorado, to visit with family. My son Mark and his wife, Cindy, hosted us and took Gehrig fishing every morning we were there. He was one happy guy.They also had a lovely birthday party for Gracie. Mark spent some time as a chef and is a great cook. Cindy is no slouch. We ate incredibly well (probably way too well), had a lot of fun, but after eight days away, we were ready to head home. Gehrig got over a thousand miles of driving under his belt and is well on his way to getting his license, and I had a simply wonderful time with my grandkids. 

I will likely be gone again next week. I am going to be attending the Mendocino Coast Writer's Conference. I submitted a writing sample and won a scholarship for half the registration fee. I'm very excited. I will be attending a series of workshops led by Lewis Buzbee! I LOVED his book Steinbeck's Ghost and hope to read something else by him before I get there. Attendees were able to submit short pieces of fiction for a contest. I entered an adult short story and came in second in that category where they had 60 entries. Smiling here! I will get a check for that when I get there and the story will be considered for publication in the Noyo River Review. As a bonus, the temperature will be hovering around 100 degrees where I live next weekend, and it will be around 70 in Mendocino, a beautiful little artist's community on the northern coast of California. Still smiling!

When last we met here, I offered an ARC of Women Who Dared: 52 Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Legends by Linda Skeers. Our winner this time is Joanne Roberts. Congratulations, Joanne! Joanne is a writer/illustrator from Pennsylvania. You can find out more about her and see some of her wonderful art HERE and read her blog, Bookish Ambition, HERE. Joanne, I will get your book out to you soon. For the rest of you, another give away, so please keep reading.

This post has gotten way too long, so just a quick few words about The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York. I have reviewed some of Geoff Rodkey's books, including an earlier Tapper Twins book HERE. I love his stuff. It is funny and smart and just the kind of thing that will get kids reading, no matter how reluctant they are. This is no exception. Claudia and Reese are back at their bickering best. Claudia decides a scavenger hunt is a great way to raise money for a charity and manages to get the whole school involved. What could go wrong? The words "just about anything" come to mind while reading this fast-paced, screwball comedy written in choppy tween-speak conversation and text messages. Lots of funny pictures add to this very quick, very fun read. 

I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with
Geoff Rodkey
one of you. 
To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Women Who Dared -- Review and Giveaway

Thought for the Day:
“You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, 
the farther you get.”  
~ Michael Phelps ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:
Jane Friedman has a wonderful post HERE on How to Immediately Improve Your Query Letter’s Effectiveness. 

Adventures in YA Publishing has some good, instructive posts. The post HERE will help you Strengthen Your Verbs and Your Writing. 

Greg Pattridge has another great post HERE about editing — searching for problem, over-used words. 

Last week, my daughter Maggie was in town from New York. We had a lovely family dinner, and I never got around to writing my blog post. Next Saturday morning, I will load my two grandkids, Gehrig and Gracie, into my Prius and move on down the road. We are driving to Denver for a couple days, then on to Montrose, Colorado, to visit friends and family. I will be on the road for the next two Sundays, so I won't be blogging. See you here again in three weeks.

For those who need reminding how much patience is needed in the business of writing, I have a story for you. I had an email about ten days ago from an editor at Humpty Dumpty magazine. She reminded me I had sent them a little story in 2015 and wondered if it was still available.They wanted to buy it for their September/October issue. I had given up on finding a home for that little story. So hang in there. You never know when you'll find a little success.

Last time I posted, I promised one of you an ARC of Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart. The winner this time is Jenni Enzor. Congratulations, Jenni! If you don't know Jenni, she is a writer from Oregon who blogs HERE and has great book reviews and posts for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. It's definitely worth a look. Jenni, I will get your book out soon. For the rest of you, keep reading. I have another fun book to giveaway. 

I've been on a bit of a non-fiction kick lately and have another one for you this week. The Manhattan Book Review had Women Who Dared: 52 Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Legends by Linda Skeers on their review list recently so I grabbed it. I love reading about these interesting women. Here is the review I wrote for the Review. 

What do a wing walker, a wrestler, a cosmonaut, a lighthouse keeper, and a spy all have in common? They are all women who did these things long before it was acceptable for women to be in such professions. Author Linda Skeers has gathered the stories of 52 women who did amazing and wonderful things with their lives in times and places when, according to their societies, they had absolutely no business doing them. Take Rose Fortune for instance. She was a former slave who escaped to Canada with her family in the late 1700s. She was an entrepreneur who built a business on transporting luggage and making wake up calls. This is just one example of these many fascinating women. Each has a full-page biography with some fun graphics, created by illustrator Livi Gosling,
Linda Skeers
and a full-page drawing of the woman. Young readers, ages eight and up, will find wonderful role models and their compelling stories in these pages that may give them the impetus to try new things and take the steps they need to create their own daring moments in life. The writing is snappy and the illustrations fun. This is a winner.

I have a gently-read ARC of this book to share with one of you. To win, all you need do is have a US address, be a subscriber or follower, and tell me that in a comment you leave on this post. If you are reading this in your email, click HERE to go to the blog so you can leave a comment. If you would like extra chances, please spread the word by posting the link on a Tweet, blog post, Facebook, or any other way you like. Let me know what you have done in your comment, and I will put in extra chances for you for each that you do.

Don't forget to check out Shannon Messenger's wonderful blog HERE for many more Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday reviews and giveaways.