Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year - New Career - Learn to Write for Children - Free

A year-end bonus for you! Yes Learn to Write for Children - Free. Join The Children's Writer's Coaching Club in January 2009 and receive one month of lessons at no charge to you.

You will need a credit card to sign up but if you decide the club is not for you -- simply cancel your membership and you will not be charged one penny. But if you decide that learning to write for children is just what you have been looking for, then do nothing but continue on with your membership. No matter what your decision, you will not be charged for the first month.

What have you got to lose? Join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club and have access to a professional coach and mentor. Also, as a CWCC member you will learn how to strengthen your writing skills, meet other writers who will give you encouragement and support.

It's real easy to join. Just click the icon below.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Keeping Christmas

The Art of Keeping Christmas

How can we best keep Christmas? How can we best defeat the little bit of Scrooge in all of us and experience the glory of the Great Day?

By sinking the shafts of our spirits deep beneath the sparkling tinsel of the surface of Christmas and renewing within us the radiance of the inner meaning of the season.

By following the Star on an inward journey to Bethlehem to stand again in awe and wonder before the Babe in a Manger.

By rediscovering the faith and simplicity of a little child, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

By being still and listening to the angels sing within our hearts.

By quietly evaluating our lives according to the Master's standards as set forth in the Sermon on the Mount.

By reaffirming the supremacy of the spirit in our conquest of ourselves.

By rededicating ourselves to the Master's ideals of Peace, Brotherhood, and Good Will.

By resolving to give ourselves away to others in love, joy and devotion.

By using the light of Christmas to guide us through the darkness of the coming year, refusing to go back to the dim kerosene lamps of the spirit when the brilliant electricity of Christmas is available to show us the way.

Wilfred Arlan Peterson

I will be back January 2009. I wish everyone a safe and happy New Years.
It is time to reflect and set new goals based on what worked and what didn't work in 2008.

Write it down,

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Gift of Love

The Best Gift
Betty Wirth

On Christmas Eve, a young boy with light in his eyes
Looked deep into Santa’s, to Santa’s surprise
And said as he sat on Santa’s broad knee,
"I want your secret. Tell it to me."

He leaned up and whispered in Santa’s good ear
"How do you do it, year after year?"
"I want to know how, as you travel about,
Giving gifts here and there, you never run out.

How is it, dear Santa, that in your pack of toys
You have plenty for all of the world’s girls and boys?
Stays so full, never empties, as you make your way
From rooftop to rooftop, to homes large and small,
From nation to nation, reaching them all?"

And Santa smiled kindly and said to the boy,
"Don’t ask me hard questions. Don’t you want a toy?"
But the child shook his head, and Santa could see
That he needed the answer. "Now listen to me,"

He told that small boy with the light in his eyes,
"My secret will make you sadder and wise.
"The truth is that my sack is magic inside
It holds millions of toys for my Christmas Eve ride.

But although I do visit each girl and each boy
I don’t always leave them a gaily wrapped toy.
Some homes are hungry, some homes are sad,
Some homes are desperate, some homes are bad.

Some homes are broken, and the children there grieve.
Those homes I visit, but what should I leave?
"My sleigh is filled with the happiest stuff,
But for homes where despair lives toys aren’t enough.

So I tiptoe in, kiss each girl and boy,
And I pray with them that they’ll be given the joy
Of the spirit of Christmas, the spirit that lives
In the heart of the dear child who gets not, but gives.

"If only God hears me and answers my prayer,
When I visit next year, what I will find there
Are homes filled with peace, and with giving, and love
And boys and girls gifted with light from above.

It’s a very hard task, my smart little brother,
To give toys to some, and to give prayers to others.
But the prayers are the best gifts, the best gifts indeed,
For God has a way of meeting each person’s need.

"That’s part of the answer. The rest, my dear youth,
Is that my sack is magic. And that is the truth.
In my sack I carry on Christmas Eve day
More love than a Santa could ever give away.

The sack never empties of love, or of joys
`Cause inside it are prayers, and hope. Not just toys.
The more that I give, the fuller it seems,
Because giving is my way of fulfilling dreams.

"And do you know something? You’ve got a sack, too.
It’s as magic as mine, and it’s inside of you.
It never gets empty, it’s full from the start.
It’s the center of light, and love. It’s your heart.

And if on this Christmas you want to help me,
Don’t be so concerned with the gifts `neath your tree.
Open that sack called your heart, and share
Your joy, your friendship, your wealth, your care."

The light in the small boy’s eyes was glowing.
"Thanks for your secret. I’ve got to be going."
"Wait, little boy," said Santa, "don’t go.
Will you share? Will you help? Will you use what you know?"
And just for a moment the small boy stood still,
Touched his heart with his small hand and whispered, "I will."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Gift of Peace

I heard the bells on
Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth,
good-will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing:
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again.

Grace Noll Crowell

I am not alone at all, I thought.
I was never
alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses.

Taylor Caldwell

Monday, December 22, 2008

Sharon Tregenza - Author Interview

I am happy to post my Email interview with Kelpies Award winning Author Sharon Tregenza. Her latest book, Tarantula Tide, can be found on Amazon. and here

Hello Sharon,
Thank you for your time with this interview. You are one busy lady. I loved the way you plotted the suspense in Tarantula Tide.

Hi Carma, yes it’s been an exciting end to the year. Lets hope it continues through 2009 and 2010 and . . . . I’m glad you mentioned the suspense in Tarantula Tide it was probably the toughest thing to get right. I knew I needed highs and lows to keep the action bubbling along and I made a lot of changes before I was happy.

What came first? The title or the story?

Usually, for me, it’s the title first. I love titles and have a huge list of them. This time it didn’t come so easily, though. I knew I wanted TARANTULA for its dramatic imagery and it’s importance to the plot, but I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory second word. It was a friend who suggested “Tide”. I knew immediately it was perfect.

How long did you work on Tarantula before you submitted to a publisher?

Hmmm, there’s a story to this answer. I was halfway through Tarantula Tide when I spotted an announcement for the Kelpies Award for a contemporary children’s fiction. I already knew of the Kelpies, of course, but further reading showed I already had the makings of a very suitable contestant in my book. But, and it was a big but, I had to complete it in a month to meet the deadline. I worked like crazy and more frantically as the deadline grew closer. It was touch and go and, for the last chapter and final edit, I worked for thirty-six hours straight. I posted the manuscript with only half an hour to spare - came home flopped into bed and slept and slept. Bliss.

Who did you pattern your characters Jack and Izzie after?

Because it was written in first person I have to admit that there were elements of myself in both Jack and Izzie. Mostly thought they are truly fictitious. You know when some writers say that their characters take over? Well it’s true – it really happens. I’d wake up with fragments of their conversation going through my head.

Who or what has influenced you the most in your career?

I had that all important special English teacher many years ago and then favorite writers. I still get that real “stomach kick” feeling when I read an author who excites me.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I think the dream was always there floating around in my subconscious. I come from a very small seaside town though, and the only options, when I was a teenager, seemed to be teaching or the local shoe factory. I didn’t fancy either. Life with marriage, children, and travel intervened and it wasn’t until about fifteen years ago I sent off my first (very amateurish) story. But the monster was unleashed.

What are your future goals for your writing?

Lots more children’s books. I’ve got a wealth of ideas for picture books, children’s poetry and at least two follow up novels to Tarantula Tide.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If so, what seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Nope. Writers block has never been a problem for me. Occasionally, I wish it was when the constant stream of ideas, characters and dialogue keeps me awake at night.

What makes up a typical writing day for you?

There isn’t a typical day. I just get to my computer as often as I can. I’m passionate about what I do and would quite happily spend all day, everyday, writing. There is life outside fiction though and there are other things that have to be done and people to consider.

Tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

Happily. My website is www.sharontregenza.com there’s a special site for Tarantula Tide too at www.tarantulatide.com. I’d love people to contact me. I’m on facebook and myspace as well.

Are you working on any new titles now?

Yes. I’m busy with the next adventure for Jack and Izzie. This time the mystery is set in Jack’s city of Edinburgh in Scotland - a fascinating place with a dark and bloody history. This book is called “Scorpion Sky”. Hope you like the title.

What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers who are trying to break into the field?

Do it! Do it! Do it! And more importantly KEEP doing it. It’s hard and sometimes demoralizing sending manuscripts out to publishers. But if the writing itself is fun what have you got to loose? And then one fine day . . .

Is there anything you would like to add?

Just a big thank you, Carma for setting up this interview. Oh, and the warmest of wishes to you and all the readers of your website. I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a happy and successful New Year. Bye.

Bye Sharon, and thanks again.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Gift of Family

Christmas reminds us we are not alone. We are not unrelated atoms, jouncing and ricocheting amid aliens, but are a part of something, which holds and sustains us.

As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same. Christmas shows us the ties that bind us together, threads of love and caring, woven in the simplest and strongest way within the family.

Donald E. Westlake

Donald E. Westlake is a three-time Edgar winner and the recipient of the Grandmaster award. He is the author of more than 40 novels, including The Hook. He lives in New York City.

For me, the spirit of Christmas is about letting the loving but messy little rituals become just as important as the solemn
and graceful ones. It's about making
room for everyone.

Ann Michael

My gift to you will be uplifting and motivational quotes by famous and not-so-famous authors over the next two weeks. I hope you enjoy them and I invite any comments on what any passage may mean to you. Christmas is the time of sharing.

Write it down,


Friday, December 19, 2008

The Gift of Christmas Day

The Gift of Christmas Day

I sometimes think we expect too
much of Christmas Day. We try
to crowd into it the long arrears
of kindliness and humanity of
the whole year. As for me, I like
to take my Christmas a little
at a time, all through the year.
And thus I drift along into the
holidays--let them overtake me unexpectedly--waking up some
fine morning and suddenly saying
to myself: "Why this is Christmas Day!"

David Grayson
(1870 – 1946)
American Journalist and Writer

My gift to you will be uplifting and motivational quotes by famous and not-so-famous authors over the next two weeks. I hope you enjoy them and I invite any comments on what any passage may mean to you. Christmas is the time of sharing.

Write it down,

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Gift of The Honest Scrap Award

Writing Coach and Award winning Author, Suzanne Lieurance, has awarded me with the Honest Scrap Award. Challenging me to reveal ten honest to goodness deep dark secrets about myself. Thank you Suzanne. I am not sure the world is ready for this but here are the rules.

1. List 10 honest things about yourself (make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!)
2. Pass the award on to 7 bloggers.

1. I am a licensed Plumber and my husband works for me.
2. I went back to college at age 55 and graduated with a GPA 4.0. I was always older than my teachers.
3. I lost 104 pounds in 1998 by following Weight Watchers guidelines. For the first time in my adult life I wore a size 14.
4. I gained back 60 pounds by 2007. What happened? Behavior Modification fall out.
5. My weight loss/gain experience has taught me that one can never, never, stop practicing the principles of success in any venture in life.
6. I am lousy at journaling but I love to write.
7. I wrote a play when I was in the 6th grade. I got an A.
8. I never drank store bought milk until I was 16 years old.
9. I am thankful that I was born in America.
10. I love this award because it is all about me, me, me.

OK you guys let's all fess up. I believe you all have the gutz to tell it all.

Lisa Holdren
Yvonne Perry
Phil Gerbyshack
Judy Ferril
Theresa Schultz
Karen Cioffi
Dawn Phillips

Thanks for participating.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Gift of Humbleness

Think about it, the good news was proclaimed first to ordinary working people.

And so the good news was told to shepherds, to working men who were toiling in the fields. The coming King would hallow the common work of man, and in His love and grace all the problems of labour would find a solution.

The Lord of the Christmas-tide throws a halo over common toil. Even Christian people have not all learnt the significance of the angels' visit to the lonely shepherds. Some of us can see the light resting upon a bishop's crosier, but we cannot see the radiance on the ordinary shepherd's staff. We can discern the hallowedness of a priest's vocation, but we see no sanctity in the calling of the grocer, or of the scavenger in the street. We can see the nimbus on the few, but not on the crowd; on the unusual, but not on the commonplace. But the very birth-hour of Christianity irradiated the humble doings of humble people. When the angels went to the shepherds, common work was encircled with an immortal crown.

(John Henry Jowett)
(1864 – 1923)

Jowett was born in Halifax, England in 1864. "I was blessed with the priceless privilege of a Christian home," he later remarked.

His love for reading manifested itself early as he spent his evenings in the town's Mechanics' Institute, devouring volumes from their library. Jowett's father had arranged for him to begin working as a clerk for a lawyer in Halifax, but the encouragement of his Sunday school teacher, Mr. Dewhirst, turned Jowett's heart toward the ministry.

Over the next two weeks, my gift to you will be daily uplifting and motivational passages by famous and not-so-famous authors. I hope you enjoy them. If any passage moves you, please comment and share. Christmas is the time of sharing.

Write it down,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gift of Defrosting the Heart

Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups, too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.

Lenora Mattingly Weber

Lenora Mattingly Weber wrote books and short stories for over 40 years. She is best known for her Beany Malone series and Katie Rose/Stacy Belford books. Beyond these series, Mrs. Weber wrote ten non-series books which are also captivating to readers of all ages. Her numerous short stories in McCall's, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Saturday Evening Post, American Magazine and Pictoral Review reveal this author's amazing gift for character presentation and storytelling.

Those who have not Christmas in their hearts
will never find it under a tree.

Roy L. Smith

Write it down,

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Gift to You - The Gift of Simplicity

Over the next two weeks, my gift to you will be daily uplifting and motivational passages by famous and not-so-famous authors. I hope you enjoy them. If any passage moves you, please comment and share. Christmas is the time of sharing.

At Christmastime, children play an essential part in our celebrations. So much of what we do is intended to please them--and all the while our hearts keep hearkening back to the Christmas memories of our own childhoods. On Christmas Eve, sometimes we can't help but envy our children the stars in their eyes, especially when our own eyes are dull with exhaustion.

Christmas is so much simpler for a child. Can we open our tired, adult eyes to that same simplicity?

Ellen Sanna
For Unto Us a Child is Born

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tarantula Tide - Book Review

Tarantula Tide
Author: Sharon Tregenza
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Floris Books (October 16, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0863156738
ISBN-13: 978-0863156731

Tarantula Tide is a fast paced, page-turning suspense novel for the middle grade reader. Jack grudgingly accompanies his mother to one of the Shetland Islands for a holiday which is known for their Land of the Viking Fire Festival. During the long ferry ride to Shetland, Jack gets sick and vomits all over a pair of red boots that are on the feet of a biker named Slasher. Jack spends the rest of the trip avoiding Slasher but mysterious circumstances involving, suspense and humor will bring them together again.

Jack’s summer holiday becomes more interesting when he meets his next door neighbor, Izzie, who has a penchant for exotic pets. A couple of favorites of mine are Karma the chameleon and Minx the Siamese cat. Shetland is full of adventure with its private coves, historical brochs and Viking history. Izzie knows her way around and her connection with the police department comes in handy. Things are not what they appear to be. The curious duo discovers the wandering tramp is not a tramp and the local vet does more than care for Shetland ponies. At the center of all the mysteriousness is an eight legged visitor named Octavia.

Also throughout the adventure, Tregenza describes a variety of other wildlife native to the area such as skuas seabirds, seals and puffins. Tarantula Tide is an exciting and easy read for everyone. Kids will love this book because of the unpredictable plot. There are a few unexpected twists and turns when Izzie and Jack explore the historical broch. You may guess the ending will turn out OK but there is no way you can guess how.

Award winning author Sharon Tregenza has written over 400 articles of poetry and short stories for children published worldwide. Tarantula Tide is her debut children’s novel and won the Kelpies Prize which rewards new Scottish writing for children’s literature.

Write it down,

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Find Out What All the Buzz is About. Join the CWCC Today!

The Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club (CWCC) is open for business. All that is needed is a desire to learn to write for children. No experience required. Already have a writing career? The CWCC can help you make more of the writing career you have.

Writing is not the only thing writers do. They need to learn how to market their books, author visits, how to conduct seminars and workshops more effectively.

As a member of the CWCC you will work with both published children’s authors and aspiring authors to achieve the career of your dreams.

The best part of all this is that you can do it all in the comfort of your own home. Full time or part time. The decision is yours.

Membership is $27 per month. Read on and see what a member receives.

  • LIVE teleclasses EVERY month. Each teleclass is taught by a successful children’s book author and/or illustrator who knows the “tricks of the trade” of children’s writing, illustrating, and publishing.

  • A monthly writing assignment, designed to become a finished project ready for submission to a publisher, usually by the end of the month, although some projects take longer. Each month we focus on some area of publishing. For example, one month we study how to write short fiction for children’s magazines. Another month we focus on writing nonfiction for children’s magazines. Another month we target writing picture books, etc.

  • The opportunity to have your monthly assignment professionally critiqued, so you know if further revisions are needed before it is ready for submission to a publisher.

  • Network opportunity via an online discussion list with other members of the CWCC.

Come and join the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club today as I did and you’ll be on your way to creating your own career as a published children’s book author. Click the logo below.


Write it down,

Monday, December 8, 2008

Writing and Illustrating - Not for the Faint-of-Heart

My objective for choosing to write for children is to instill a love for reading and writing and to make a difference in children’s lives. During my search for quality content I came across this article by Alan Jordan.

Below is a summary of four major lessons Alan Jordan has learned.
(photo courtesy of Flickr)

Lessons Learned Number 1 to 4 - Writing and Publishing an Interactive Book & CD For Children

Be warned: Writing, illustrating and recording a children's picture book and audio-book CD is not for the faint-of-heart. One 850-word book took me over three years to go from concept-to-completion. To put that into perspective, I have written six 50,000+ word books that were targeted to business people. These took an average of six months. Here, in a summary fashion, are four of major lessons that I have learned. Future articles will provide additional insights. To illustrate these lessons, let's focus on a suggested sentence for a non-existent book: "Billy struggled to climb on top of the red fire truck."

1. Use as few words as possible - Would "Billy climbed up the fire truck," be better? It might or might not. It's definitely shorter, and gives the artist more freedom. On the other hand you might be eliminating some crucial concepts. Read on.

2. Understand that every word you write has the potential to restrict the artist. As an example, "climbed," means that the artist must show Billy going upward, ascending, using his hands and feet. This might make sense if it is important for Billy to climb up the truck, but what if the artist could add humor by having Billy swing on a vine to reach the top of the fire truck. Either way, Billy could struggle to reach the top of the fire truck, but, is struggling important? If it's not, imagine the fun that Billy could have jumping onto the top of the dire truck from a tree.

You may not see Billy jumping onto the fire truck in your mind's eye, but an artist might--if you don't restrict him or her with your words. Perhaps it will help to compare writing a children's book to writing a play. In the children's book, your words give you veto power over the artist. In a play the stage directions you provide give you veto power over the Stage Director and actors. I once wrote a play where the main characters were a man with two alter egos. Imagine my surprise when an avant-garde production of the play cast the alter egos of the man as female. It worked, and it was a valid interpretation because I did not specify that the alter egos had to be male.

3. Consider children equals when you're writing. Talking down to children, explaining what's happening to them is silly. They know what's happening. Also, don't be afraid to use a few challenging words. Children will figure them out, or look them up. Want proof? Read the Harry Potter books. Children understand them.

4. Read the story to several children as you write it. Be open to unexpressed criticism. Do not expect praise. You won't get it. Watch, instead, for involvement with the characters. Listen for excitement as they talk about your plots. If you don't find these things, you've failed. Go back to the drawing board.

Writing for children doesn't pay much, unless you happen to have a blockbuster best seller, but it’s fun. Mix a children's book in with your other writing. If you do your job right, you're liable to make a difference in the lives of many children. That's a big deal because today's children are the people who will influence tomorrow's world.

Alan Jordan's latest children's books are featured on a web site designed to foster creativity in children and adults. http://www.LetsBeCreative.org Visit the site and become a member (free) then you can download the latest version of The Monster on Top of the Bed as a streaming video. A free download for an iPod is also available.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alan_H._Jordan

Write it down,

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Sugar Child - Book Review

Title: The Sugar Child
Author: Monique De Varennes
Illustrator: Leonid Gore
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Athenaeum/Anne Schwartz Books (October 5, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0689852444
ISBN-13: 978-0689852442

The Sugar Child is a delightful story for the kindergarten through second grade bunch. It has all the makings of a “wish upon a star” fairy tale. However, this story is more unique than Cinderella or The Gingerbread Boy. The Sugar Child is made with love by a childless baker and his wife.

The setting takes place in a small Quebec town where a little girl is formed from marzipan and magically comes to life over night. Her name is Matine. The baker and his wife dance for joy because they now have a child they can love. The couple takes great care to protect Matine’s fragile, sugary skin. When it rains, Matine is not allowed outside because her fragile skin would be washed away. She becomes sad and wants to cry but her parents talk her out of it. Matine’s parents want to protect her from the sorrow that sometimes happens in life.

Although they are able to stop her tears this time they are not so successful when Matine wants to visit her best friend who is seriously ill. Matine knows the importance of her condition but she doesn’t let her friendship with Jean-Paul stop her from risking her own life to visit him at his home. She covers herself with a cape and hood then runs in the down pouring rain to Jean-Paul’s home.

This story is about friendship and love. Illustrated by Leonid Gore with full page pastel art, giving the story a soft and delicate structure it needs. The characters and landscape have a soft glow and Matine shimmers where you can almost “feel” the sugary glaze surface of the marzipan pastry. The illustrations are dream like with soft and billowy characters.

As you would expect, magic happens. Matine sheds tears of sadness for her fragile friend’s health and her marzipan shell is washed away. Matine is transformed into a real girl. However, the story does not make it clear if Jean-Paul recovers so miraculously but illustrations demonstrate that his spirit is lifted.

Young children will love this imaginative tale and the happy ending. I think it deals with the possibility of death in a unique way. The reader doesn’t know if Matine is going to melt or not so to a five year old the act of Matine running out in the rain is a suspenseful moment.

About the author: Monique de Varennes put in thirteen years at boarding school, then went to Cornell University, majoring in English Literature, and then to Johns Hopkins University, receiving an M.A. from the Writing Seminars. She worked in publishing for a number of years, and took great joy in raising her children, Chris and Kate. Gradually she began writing again, both books for young people, edited by the gifted Anne Schwartz, and short fiction for adults. Her fiction has appeared in literary magazines, and has received a Pushcart Prize.

About the Illustrator: Leonid Gore immigrated to the United States from the Former Soviet Union, where he trained at the Art Institute of Minsk and illustrated over fifteen books for children. Kirkus praised Jacob and the Stranger by Sally Derby for Gore’s “stunning black and white illustrations … evanescent, dreamlike.” He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Write it down,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Criss Cross - Book Review

Title: Criss Cross
Author: Lynne Rae Perkins
2006 Newbery Medal award winner
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Pages: 337
Publisher: Greenwillow (August 30, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0060092734
ISBN-13: 978-0060092733

Characters in Criss Cross represent the feelings of many teenagers of all generations. Whether it be in the 1970’s or 1960’s. I dare say there is not a person among us who hasn’t wished they were someone else one time or another. Young teens will relate to the self-consciousnesses and uncertainty that all the characters exhibit, each of whom is struggling toward awareness.

Debbie and Hector, both 14, are the focus and most of the novel is through their narration. In addition to that, Perkins sets up a secondary story involving Debbie’s missing locket and the journey it takes as it is passed around by a number of different characters.

Criss Cross reads like a series of vignettes which is focused on Debbie and her friends. Debbie’s friend Linney teaches her to drive a pick up without leaving the drive way because Lenny’s parents are not home. This experience comes in handy much later when Debbie is placed in a precarious position being the only one who has driving experience and she has to take an elderly lady to the hospital.

Hector has a crush on Meadow and wants to take her someplace special. A place she has never been. The only place he can find in town is the garbage strewn ravine. He pictures it as a beautiful place if all the garbage was gone. His sister Rowanne reminds him it is only a ditch. Hector’s dad gives him a guitar but can’t afford music lessons, except for the free ones given down at the church by the priest.

There is a great deal of humor in this tender story about a group of childhood friends facing the crossroads of life and how they wish to live it. The book is illustrated with Perkins's amusing drawings and some photographs. Also Perkins experiments with writing an entire section of dialogue in haiku. “Jeff White is handsome, / but his hair is so greasy. / If he would wash it.”

What teen has not had the desire to just be somewhere else? A group of friends decided to conduct an experiment with travel. They decided to go to the bus station and get on the first bus that came through and get off at the first stop no matter where it was. They would spend a few hours and then come back.

Perkins has created a group of likable characters searching for who they are and who they will become. It is not hard to find a character to identify with.

About the author: Lynne Rae Perkins is the author of three picture books, The Broken Cat, Clouds for Dinner, and Home Lovely, a Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book. Her novel All Alone in the Universe was named an ALA Notable Book, an ALA Book list Editor's Choice, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, and a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children. She lives with her family in northern Michigan, where it snows all the time.

Write it down,

Monday, December 1, 2008

Today is Cyber Sale Monday!

On Cyber Sale Monday you'll find all sorts of bargains all over the Internet. So we just had to join in the fun.

TODAY ONLY! You can join the Children's Writer's Coaching Club for 1/2 price. Suzanne Lieurance is offering a block buster discount if you join TODAY.

Already a bargain at $27 a month for anyone but at the special low price of $13.50 per month you are receiving a spectacular opportunity. Just click on the Children's Writer's Coaching Club logo and it will take you to the sign up page.

Yes, there is more. You can begin learning how to break into the children's writing market TODAY by attending a FREE teleclass December 1, which is tonight at 7 p.m. central time and 5 p.m. pacific time and 8 p.m. eastern. Suzanne Lieurance is my special guest tonight. Click here to pose a question and if you are among the first 24 to sign up you will receive the New York Times Best Seller, The Christmas Box, by Richard Paul Evans.

After asking your question, type in your mailing address to have the book shipped to you.

Write it down,