Friday, August 29, 2008

kira - kira: Book Review

Title: kira - kira
Author: Cynthia Kadohata
Age Level: Ages 9 - 12
Hardcover: 244 pages
Publisher: Aladdin (December 26, 2006)
ISBN-10: 0689856407
ISBN-13: 978-0689856402

This 2005 Newbery Medal award winner, kira - kira (meaning glitter and light) by Cynthia Kadohata is written very well but the subject of death and dying may not be the best for ages younger than ten. However, the approach Kadohata uses is one of love, understanding and family unity. Kadohata tells the story through Katie Takeshima as narrator beginning when Katie is in kindergarten. Katie's voice is about ten or twelve as the narrator but reflects on events happening from kindergarten to middle school. Her recollection is realistic and poignant.

Still the novel is funny and sad. Set in the mid 1950's the story is about a Japanese-American family who lost their grocery business in Iowa and were forced to move from their home to a new life and new jobs. Katie's Uncle Katsuhisa told her parents they could get good jobs in Georgia working for the chicken hatcheries. Katie's Dad was a sexer which was specialty work. Sexers had to separate male chicks from female chicks very quickly while the chicks were still warm. Katie's mom worked in the clean room where she prepared chickens for packaging. The hours and conditions were horrendous. The 1950's were not kind to Japanese-Americans or non-union workers.

Katie Takeshima loves her sister Lynn more than anything in the world. they are inseparable. She will do anything Lynn asks. Lynn's outlook on life is kira-kira. She gives Katie advice on everything from the sky to the ocean and people's eyes. the two sisters give up buying candy with their daily allowance to fulfill their dream to buy their parents a house some day. Katie says "Our favorite book was Silas Marner. We were quite capitalistic and liked the idea of Silas keeping all that gold underneath the floorboards."

When Lynn becomes ill, Katie never doubts that Lynn will get better and they will all be able to live by the ocean. This is Lynn's favorite place. But as the well times become shorter for Lynn over the years, Katie begins to wonder what is going on but her parents never talk to her about Lynn's illness. They just tell her Lynn has anemia. Katie looks it up in the dictionary and figures it is not serious so she is not that concerned.

About the Author: Cynthia Kadohata has been writing since 1982. When she was 25 and completely directionless, she took a Greyhound bus trip up the West Coast, and then down through the South and Southwest. She met people she never would have met otherwise. It was during that bus trip which lasted a month that she rediscovered in the landscape the magic she's known as a child. though she had never considered writing fiction before, the next year she decided to begin. She sent one story out every month, and about forty-eight stories later, The New Yorker took one. She now lives in California.

Write it down,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Muse Online Writer's Conference - 2008

Registrations are now open for the Muse Online Writer's FREE Conference

To Be Held October 13 - 19 2008

This unique online writer's conference is aimed to you, the writer, to offer opportunities and resources that will enhance and better your craft. Also, this conference will offer you opportunity to make contacts that will help get you to the next level that all writers seek and that is to be published.

The Muse Online Conference offers writers a chance to come out and attend a writing conference without leaving the comfort of their home. Sometimes conferences are too far away or it is too difficult to travel. The internet makes anything possible.

To register go here:

Write it down,

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Learn How to Write Children's Books and Sell Them!

All of us have special stories inside of us that are just begging to be told. Children love stories. They live in a world controlled by adults and don't have a whole lot of say so. The best we as adults can do for all children is to give them quality stories, truth or fiction and write children's books. This is the best reason to join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club.

Every week, members of the Children's Writer's Coaching Club are invited to an informative and fun teleclass that helps them with some aspect of writing and publishing for children. This week's teleclass will take place Thursday evening, August 28 at 7:00 p.m. central time. The teleclass will be recorded and club members only will be given a link to the recorded class in case they were unable to attend the live call.


The Children's Writer's Coaching Club just announced their Back-to-School-Special.

Back-to-School time means more writing time for mom, grandma or dad. To celebrate check out this exciting offer . Join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club to receive an email invitation to the August 28th event. Author, Rita Milios will deal out the scoop on how to write query letters and cover letters.


Join the Club before September 1 and receive SHOW ME THE MONEY: Writing Biographies for Young Readers - a CD from author and CWCC instructor, Lila Guzman, FREE (a $19.97 value) with your membership! No coupon or code necessary. Your CD will be shipped to the mailing list submitted with your membership.

You can't go wrong. Don't delay. Sign up now. Just click on the Children's Writer's logo below and fill out the form and you will be on your way to writing children's books before you know it.

Write it Down,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Children's Article Writer's Need Challenges Too

The Lieurance-King summer 2008 article challenge is winding down. This challenge has been…ahem…a challenge. This is my second time around and I have learned a lot from the working writer’s coach Suzanne Lieurance. However, I am behind ten articles. Ya think I can reach the finish line and win the gold? In the meantime please visit my bio page at Ezine articles. I hope you visit it and give me some feedback.

Also feel free to use any of my articles on your blog or website with my resource box at the bottom. Thank You.

I will let you know after September 1 if I make it or not.

Write it down,


Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Links: Children's Writer's Resources and More!

Welcome to Monday Links at Carma’s Window. I brought you three today and they are full of rich information. It may take days to sort through it all. However, you can do what I do. Bookmark these links and go back to them later. Please do a brief read through.

Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature site is a collection of reviews of great books for kids, ideas of ways to use them in the classroom and more. This website is beneficial to writers, teachers and parents. My favorite section of the site is the Featured Children’s Books because it gives you a list of activities to do at home and in class with children and links to other sources.

Jane Yolen's site for childrens writers is full of good tips, humor and practical axioms. Her long list of FAQ’s is worth the visit. Here is a sample:

Question: "Can I publish on the Internet?"

Answer: "Of course you can. The word "publish" simply means to make public. And by putting it there, you will be published. But will you be edited? Will you be read? Will you get paid for your work? No, possibly, and not much. Also, once something is on the Internet, the piece may not be of interest to a print publisher. So the decision is yours."

I highly recommend this site. One of Yolen's random thoughts on writing and childrens books is:

Now, I am one of those people who makes a distinction between being a writer and being an author. A writer puts words on a page. An author lives in story. A writer is conversant with the keyboard, the author with character.
Roland Barthes has said: "The author performs a function; the writer an activity." We are talking here about the difference between desire and obsession; between hobby and life. But in either case, I suggest you learn to write not with blood and fear, but with joy.

The Word Pool another great resource with all kinds of Q & A’s sections and writing resource materials.

Write it down,


Friday, August 22, 2008

Crispin, The Cross of Lead: Book Review

Author: Avi
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 261 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (May 3, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0786816589
ISBN-13: 978-0786816583

Newbery Medal winner of 2003, Crispin The Cross of Lead is an action packed historical novel set in the 1380’s of England’s peasant revolt. The protagonist is a thirteen year old peasant boy known only as “Asta’s Son” (Asta being the boys mother) because he has never been called by his own name. In fact he doesn’t know he has a name until his mother dies. The village priest discloses he baptized him and gave him the Christian name of Crispin.

Also, after Crispin’s mother dies the only home he has ever known is burned to the ground. Crispin is forced to begin his life as a fugitive for thievery and murder. He is declared a “wolf’s head” by the corrupt steward John Aycliffe, for crimes he didn’t commit. This means that anyone can kill him like a common animal and collect a sizable reward.

Feudalism is the way of life for many in 14th century England. There are countless taxes that lowly peasants must pay and constant violence. People were either very poor or very rich. Common people had no say over their destiny. The church is unable to protect parishioners and subject to many cruelties.

"Time was the great millstone, which ground us to dust like kernelled wheat. The Holy Church told us where we were in the alterations of the day, the year, and in our daily toil. Birth and death alone gave distinction to our lives, as we made the journey between the darkness from whence we had come to the darkness where we were fated to await Judgment Day."

There are plenty of chase scenes as well as undisclosed plans shrouded in mystery. Avi develops a couple of compelling characters but Bear, a traveling juggler, will become Crispin’s deliverance from the bounty hunters that follow them everywhere. The relationship between the juggler and the peasant become the heart of the story. Avi weaves an expert tale of trickery and betrayal and brings history to life.

About the Author: Teachers told young Avi that his writing didn't make any sense. Little did they know he had dysgraphia, a learning disability that makes writing difficult. Yet, with boundless talent and the encouragement of an understanding tutor, Avi kept writing. Today, he is the prize-winning author of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing But the Truth, and dozens of other popular books for young readers.

Write it down,


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Get the Lead Out! Sign up for the Working Writer's 2008 Fall Boot Camp

I am nearing the end of the Working Writers 2008 Summer Boot Camp directed by the Working Writer’s Coach, Suzanne Lieurance. This twelve week intensive writing course is one of the best writing courses I ever invested in.

Before Boot Camp I did not know how to stay focused and I did not know how to use a marketing plan to organize my time in a productive manner.

Under Suzanne’s direction I learned how to focus and more importantly I was able to identify my niche. Instead of waffling all around, I gained a sense of purpose.

Boot Camp is not a solitary venture. You meet other writers who want to get off the fence they are straddling and/or seasoned writers who have hit a slump. You form a support network with first-rate writers and develop lasting friendships. Additionally, you are exposed to published authors from several genres through the many online classes available. And of course your writing improves dramatically. Further, you practice the craft of writing.

You’ll be happy to know that a new Boot Camp is beginning September 2, 2008. There are a limited number of spaces available. Don’t delay. Click on the Working Writer’s Coach link below and then click on the Boot Camp tab to find out more information.


Become a “Working” Freelance Writer!

Write it down,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Loser: A Book Review

Title: Loser

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: HarperTrophy (July 29, 2003)
Hardcover: 218 pages
ISBN-10: 0060540745
ISBN-13: 978-0060540746

Jerry Spinelli’s Loser is a special book. The first sentence “You grow up with a kid but you never really notice him” hints that this story may be about a kid with low self esteem or about a bully who beats up on a kid. Well the book is not about either one of these scenarios. The book is about a kid who really likes himself and accepts himself as he is despite the cruelty of his classmates.

At first he sounds like a kid who has ADD. Donald does not like to wait on anything. He has trouble being still and thinks he runs faster than anybody. He is the first one at school every day. You might think a kid who loves school this much would be a straight A student. Not so for Donald Zinkhoff. His writing is sloppy, he can’t stop giggling in class when the teacher says a funny word, he’s clumsy, can’t play the flute, “Twice during the number Zinkhoff’s flute yips like a pinched sister. …and Zinkhoff never notices.”

However, it doesn’t take much to make Donald happy. He wants to sit in the front row but because of his last name, Zinkhoff, he is always last in everything until 4th grade when his favorite teacher reverses the seating order. “Yahoo” Donald says!

The story chronicles Donald’s progression from first through sixth grade. It is a journey of a boy with a lot of social problems. Most of them diminish but never disappear. I kept waiting for Donald to triumph in some way but the author did not have that in mind for Donald. His poor performance at sports makes him an outcast. When he blows a race that costs the school the championship, the other kids name Donald Loser!

This story is more for adult readers because I don’t think many teenagers would want to read about a 12 year old and not many 9 to 12 year olds want to read a slow action story. Middle grade kids will enjoy this book when read with adults. There is some action at the end when Donald gets lost in a snow storm and doesn’t even know it.

The book does demonstrate the pure love of his parents and sister and I do believe it shows that a strong family unit can overcome imperfections that all of us exhibit at one time or another. Also, I think this is the reason Donald is a success in a losing way. He may not measure up to what other kids and adults think he should be but because of the love of his family he will survive in a hard world.

About the author: Jerry Spinelli is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers, including Maniac Magee, winner of the Newbery Medal; Wringer, a Newbery Honor Book; Crash; and Knots in My Yo-Yo String, his autobiography. He grew up in Norristown, Pennsylvania, where he once dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player. All of this changed at age 16, when his poem about a football game was published in the local newspaper. From then on, he wanted to become a writer.
Write it down,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Power of the Verb is a Must for Children's Writers

Children love action stories. The best way to pull a young reader into your story is to use power verbs with the active voice and your story will come alive. Active voice is when the subject is doing the action. “Mike drove the car into a ditch.”

In college I learned to use the wonderful heavy, intellectual passive voice. I loved to write out the “where to’s”, “moreover’s”, “in as much as’s”, “to be’s” and so on. Very dry but very impressive with the sound of authority. However, these particular passive words are not good choices for a children’s story if you want to grab their attention.

Sometimes it is necessary and OK to use boring verbs because they get the job done quickly but they should be only about 5% of your writing and be spread through out the story. Do not concentrate them all in one chapter or paragraph.

When you are writing your next article or story and are stumped, check out the Power Verb list. Feel free to print out this post and place it near your computer. Just for fun see how many can be used as a sentence. For instance Act! Choose! Drive!

Here Are Your 104 Power Verbs To Read Out Loud

Abolish, Accelerate, Achieve, Act, Adopt, Align, Anticipate, Apply, Assess, Avoid,

Boost, Break, Bridge, Build, Burn, Capture, Change, Choose, Clarify, Clobber, Confront, Connect, Conquer, Convert, Create,

Decide, Define, Defuse, Deliver, Deploy, Design, Develop, Diagnose, Discover, Drive

Eliminate, Ensure, Establish, Evaluate, Exploit, Explore, Filter, Finalize, Find, Focus, Foresee

Gain, Gather, Generate, Grasp, Identify, Ignite, Implement, Improve, Increase, Innovate, Inspire, Intensify

Lead, Learn, Leverage, Manage, Master, Maximize, Measure, Mobilize, Motivate, Overcome, Penetrate, Persuade, Plan, Position, Prepare, Prevent, Profit,

Raise, Reconsider, Reduce, Refresh, Replace, Resist, Respond, Retain,

Save, Scan, Shatter, Shave-off, Sidestep, Simplify, Slash, Solve, Stimulate, Stop, Stretch, Succeed, Supplement

Take, Transfer, Transform, Understand, Unleash, Unravel, Use, Win.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful
drug used by mankind.”

~ Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936), English author

Write it down,


Monday, August 11, 2008

Why Writing For Children Can Be the Perfect Job for You

Read on to find out what the Perfect Job for Stay-at-home moms could be.

If you're a stay-at-home mom with small children, writing for kids can be the perfect part-time job for you. Here's why:

1) You're in contact with kids 24/7, so you know what kids think about and how they talk. This can be very helpful when trying to develop story lines that kids would enjoy reading. It will also help you write dialogue that sounds like things kids would actually say these days.

As a mom, you probably also read many picture books to your own child or children. And, as every writer knows, one of the best ways to learn to write picture books and other stories for children, is to READ these types of materials. So just think - each time you read to your child, you'll also be doing something to develop your own career as a writer.

2) Since your full time job is taking care of your family, you'll probably only have short snatches of time during the day and evening to write. But this is perfect for writing short works for kids - things like picture books, easy readers, and even magazine articles and short-stories.

And, if you carry a pocket-size notebook with you during the day, while you're watching the kids play at the park, or supervising them as they go about their daily chores, you can take notes for story or articles ideas. And, please note, it IS important to jot down a few notes about your ideas. Otherwise, by the end of the day you will have forgotten them.

3) In addition to writing stories and articles FOR kids, you will also develop a wealth of topics for writing ABOUT kids - articles for parenting magazines, for example, or even tips for classroom teachers.

And, there are usually at least a couple of small regional parenting publications in every large city, so you can gain publishing credits by starting out writing for these publications. If you're good at it, you might even eventually gain your own regular column in one of these publications.

4) You can develop professional connections and associations with other moms who write, so you'll have other adults to communicate with on a regular basis every day. Many moms can feel isolated when their only contact during the day is with their children. But as a children's writer and mom, you can become part of a professional network of other stay-at-home moms who write for children.

5) You'll build up your writing skills and publishing credits through the years, so by the time your children have grown and left the nest, you will probably be able to make the transition from part time children's writer to full time children's writer fairly easily if you so desire.
As you can see, for moms who like to write, writing for children offers the perfect part-time career.

Click here to join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club and learn how to write for children.
write for children
Learn to write for children

Find out how you can get a free ebook called "Tricks of the Trade: How to Write for Children," plus additional information about writing for kids, by visiting the National Writing for Children Center at or Suzanne Lieurance's website at

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Brilliante Weblog Promo - 2008 Award

I am honored that Donna McDine of Write What Inspires You awarded me the honor of the Brilliante Weblog Promo -2008 Award.

Donna and I were part of the Children's Writing Coaching Club earlier this year. Donna's career is taking off like gang busters. Every time I look around she is getting accepted. Her most recent acceptance was her article "Sports Buddies" for Hopscotch for Girls to be published 2014.

That seems like a long way off but I learned from Donna that it is common for many publishers to plan years ahead. It does give a writer a good sense of security. In addition this also means that Donna's words are timeless and will always be applicable. Congratulations Donna.

To learn more about Donna, visit her at

Following are my nominations for the Brilliante Weblog Promo Award 2008

Terri Forehand

Dorothy Massey

Here are the rules for the next recipients of the Brillante Weblog Promo 2008 Award, established in 2005:

l. The award may be displayed on a winner’s blog.
2. Add a link to the person who you received the award from.
3. Nominate up to seven other blogs.
4. Then add their links to your blog.
5. Add a message to each person that you have passed the award on to in the comments section of their blog.

Write it down,


Friday, August 8, 2008

A Single Shard: YA Novel Book Review

Publisher: Clarion books (April 23 2001)

Hardcover: 152 pages

Age Group: 9 to 12

ISBN: 10-0395978270

ISBN: 13-978-0395978276

Historical fiction novel, A Single Shard, is the 2002 Newbery Medal award winner. Sometimes you can get a hint of a story by the title. At first glance the title threw me off because it did not sound like the type of book a ten or 12-year old would read. Linda Sue Park gives readers insight to an unfamiliar period of twelfth-century Korea which chronicles the life of an orphan, a homeless man and a talented potter.

Tree-ear was named for a “mushroom that grows without benefit of parents” by Crane Man who was so called because of his one shriveled leg. No one knows where Tree-ear came from. Rumor had it that his parents were killed in an accident.

In order to survive Tree-ear rummages through garbage dumps and scavenges for food every day and if he is lucky he is able to pick up some left over rice that no one wants. Crain-man, who is a straw weaver, tries to do his part but because of his disability he is only able to manage some scavenging near the rivers edge where they live. Crane-man is the only family Tree-ear has ever known.

Tree-ear made a habit of stopping at potter Min’s outdoor studio to watch him create delicate celadon pottery. One day Tree-ear accidentally breaks a pot. In order to pay for damages, Tree-ear goes into servitude for nine days and ends up working full time for the potter. Naturally Tree-ear hopes Min will teach him the pottery trade but Min has no intention of training a boy who is not related to him. Min and Tree-ear begin a precarious relationship. This is a well-developed account of triumph of a boy who shouldn't have overcome the odds but did.

This story is well worth reading. The passages describing how this beautiful celadon pottery was made over 700 years ago will intrigue any reader. Park’s dialogue and prose are a prime example of the adage for writers. “Show don’t tell.”

About the Author: Linda Sue Park

Linda Sue Park was born and raised in Illinois. The daughter of Korean immigrants, she has been writing poems and stories since she was 4 years old, and her favorite thing to do as a child was read.

Park was first published when she was 9 years old. She was paid one whole dollar for a haiku that ran in a children's magazine. Her father still has the one-dollar check in a frame above his desk.

Write it down,


Monday, August 4, 2008

How To Make Money Writing How To's

Are you an article writer with all kinds of helpful hints but don't know how to organize them? Surf on over to 3Questions...and Answers blog and read her article "Website Wants Write How-To" It is full of examples, a How-To template and well researched information.

In addition, check out her interview with Journalist/novelist Janice Harayda. A few good links are scattered through out plus you can go over to Janice's website and look around.

Write it down,


Friday, August 1, 2008

Skellig: A Book Review

Title: Skellig
Author: David Almond
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 182 pages
Publisher: Laurel Leaf (September 11, 2001)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0440229081
ISBN-13: 978-0440229087

Skellig has a distinctive British feel to it but it is not confusing to American readers. Author, David Almond, never defines who Skellig really is other than in the context of a fantasy character. The short chapters make the story move smoothly forward and entice the reader to want more.

Michael, his baby sister and his parents move into what the real estate agent calls a fixer upper but Michael sees it for what it is. A horrible dump where the floor is full of cracks and holes. The old rickety abandoned shed out in the yard is another eyesore and Michael is warned to stay out. Of course as soon as you tell a teenager don’t go in there, what do you think he or she will do? Michael never imagines he will see anything other than junk and a mouse or two. When he steps into the dusty structure his first look at Skellig is astonishing. Michael thinks he may never see him again or if he is even real.

“He was lying there in the darkness behind the tea chests, in the dust and dirt. It was as if he’d been there forever. He was filthy and pale and dried out and I thought he was dead. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’d soon begin to see the truth about him, that there’d never been another creature like him in the world.”

Skellig is neither pure fantasy nor realistic fiction but rather a blend of both. Michael soon meets his home-schooled neighbor, Mina who has a passion for William Blake’s poetry, a vast knowledge of birds and a low opinion of public schools. Mina and Michael become close friends and Michael shares his secret about Skellig with her. Together they mend Skellig’s weakening body and move him to a secret hiding place away from danger of being discovered. During the move Michael brushes his hands across Skellig’s back and feels what appears to be a pair of wings.

The mysterious connection between Skellig, Michael, his sister and Mina is expertly woven by Almond’s magical and poignant prose. The story line hovers between life and death for Michael’s sister and Skellig’s own failing health. Everything about Skellig is up to interpretation by the reader. However, there is a tension of magnetism about Skellig that draws the reader into the individual qualities of nature versus nurture. Michael’s father and mother nurture their critically ill daughter, Michael nurtures Skellig and Mina nurtures the little birds and owls in the empty house her grandfather left her.

The book is written for an audience of eight to twelve year olds but I believe many adults will enjoy this story because it shows the value of friendship, family unity, trust and love.

Write it down,