Attn: Original artwork for sale!

One of my pieces already listed for sale on ebay. More coming soon!

One of my pieces already listed for sale on ebay. More coming soon!

Hi everyone! Just a quick note to let you all know that I have decided to start selling some of my original artwork on ebay! Most of the artwork I will be selling are pieces done on paper in either colored pencil or marker. My style is typically something akin to children’s illustrations/cartoons, so it might be a great place to look for original artwork to decorate a child’s room with. Please note that the artwork is NOT framed, but could easily be framed.

Also note that if I start to turn a profit from selling my artwork, I hope to donate some if not all of the extra income to charity (most likely charities that help animals, children or those with autism and other disabilities). So please feel free to check out my ebay account!

Calling all young artists!

One of my own recent works of art. Can't wait to see what your kids come up with!

One of my own recent works of art. Can’t wait to see what your kids come up with!

Do you know an aspiring artist between the ages of 7 and 14 years old who would love to have their artwork featured in a published ebook? If so, this message is for you! I am putting together an upcoming ebook containing artistic advice, inspiration and creative tips for kids and I want YOUR young artist to be involved! All you have to do is submit a picture of your little artist’s favorite masterpiece, along with a quote from your child about art. The quote from your child can say anything as long as it is related to art or creativity. Here are a few suggestions for things your child might include in their quote:

  • Advice for other young artists
  • A personal story about art and how it has affected your life
  • Information about your favorite art/artists
  • Why you love art
  • How you come up with creative ideas

Once you have your child’s artwork and quote, email them to me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com with “Kid Art Entry” in the subject line . Please include your child’s name as you want it to appear in the ebook and your child’s age. I hope to use all of the artwork I receive, but if I receive an enormous amount of entries I may have to choose to feature only some of the young artists in the ebook. I will email back all of the young artists who are selected to be included in the book to let them know. I will also email all of the featured artists when the ebook is published so they can check it out and share it with their family and friends! Please submit all entries on or before June 20, 2013. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

Drugs are Scary

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Recently, my husband and I went to a special class about street drug use among youth. The only reason we really went was to earn some of our foster parent educational credit hours, but I must say that the class turned out to be eye-opening and even frightening on many levels. I thought I already knew the basics about street drug use…but apparently there is ALOT I still had to learn.

Following are a few of the facts and statistics that were shared during the class that surprised or even shocked me. Read them over for yourself and decide if we as a country should be worried…

  • Of all young people who die from overdosing on drugs, 98% started with marijuana. (Guess that kind of ruins our society’s whole “marijuana is harmless” belief).
  • Studies show that the risk of a person having a heart attack in the first hour after smoking marijuana is 4 times more likely than their normal risk.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the hardest to get and 10 being the easiest to get, getting crack cocaine in this area of Ohio is an 8 for a minor. (Although obviously this statistic would vary depending on where you live and other factors, it scares me that it is so easy for our youth to get hold of cocaine).
  • Ketamine, known on the streets as “Special K” is actually a tranquilizer for large animals. For this reason, many veterinary clinics and other animal handlers often become victims of theft and other crimes due to addicts pursuing their drug.
  • OxyContin, Morphine, Vicodin and Codeine are in the same family of drugs as Heroin. (No wonder these pain killers are so addictive)!
  • Heroin users often start out by abusing prescription drugs.
  • Approximately 1 in 6 meth labs EXPLODE! This is truly terrifying! And these are not small explosions!
  • People who abuse methamphetamines have less than a 5% chance of ever fully recovering.
  • The average age for someone who inhales chemicals to get high is 9-13. (If that is the average age, many kids must do it at even younger ages. We obviously need early intervention here.)

So did those facts worry you at least a little bit? They should. If you don’t already talk to your kids about the dangers of drug use of all kinds, please start talking. And always keep an eye out. Don’t be the parent that is in denial and doesn’t see a problem right before their eyes until it is too late.

Review of the Alice Parker’s Adventures fantasy series

Instead of just reviewing one book in this post, I have decided to go ahead and do short reviews of the first two books in the Alice Parker’s Adventures fantasy series. This new series, written by Nicola Palmer, is a fun foray into magic, adventure and mystery for middle grade readers and young adults. It is an original and interesting take on the whole “fairy” genre that is so popular with kids and teens right now. So without further ado…here are my reviews of the first two books.

Book #1 - Alice Parker’s Metamorphosis 

I have always loved the fantasy genre, but will admit to being picky about what series I will actually take the time to read. I look for books that are well-written, plausible (even fantasy needs to be believable) and most importantly, I want stories with characters that aren’t flat or boring. I am happy to say that Metamorphosis met and even surpassed my expectations.

From the moment I started reading this book, I actually found it rather hard to put down. The plot was engaging and carried enough suspense to keep me reading clear to the end, while the characters became almost like friends to me. I felt like I actually got to know Alice and her crew personally, which in my opinion is the ultimate aim of any fiction. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Alice and her brother, Thomas.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but I will say that I was also very impressed with the author’s ability to create a new world that readers will want to call their own. This is a book that I can wholeheartedly recommend to kids and teens (or even adults if you like a good fantasy story).

Book #2 – Alice Parker & the Mind Magician

The second book in the Alice Parker series picks up a few months after the events of the first book, but the transition is done well enough that readers pick up on the storyline without skipping a beat. It quickly becomes apparent that the trials Alice is going to face in this sequel are even darker and more dangerous than the hurdles she overcame in the first book.

As the title suggests, much of this book’s battles are waged in the human mind, a very dangerous and disturbing scenario. Without getting preachy or slowing down the plot, this book manages to address some fairly sinister concepts, such as mind control and the corruption that often accompanies having too much power. I was wondering throughout the course of the book how the author was going to manage to bring the plot to a satisfying conclusion, but was pleasantly surprised to see that she managed to do just that.

After finishing the second book I was actually a little bit sad that it was over. I am definitely looking forward to the third book and hope that there will be many more volumes to come!

For more information on the Alice Parker’s Adventures series, please visit the author’s website, www.nicolapalmerwriter.blogspot.com.

School Author Visit Tales – Kids Say the Funniest Things

This past friday I had the pleasure to spend another day presenting my recent picture book, “Ode to Icky” during a school author visit. Although I love all aspects of the writing life – the brainstorming, the writing, the procrastination, the editing, the rush to meet deadlines, the re-editing, watching the book come to life with illustrations, holding the finished book in your hands – I think my favorite part of writing is doing book signings and author visits at elementary schools and other community centers.

Why do I love these events even though they are tiring and sometimes extremely repetitive? Because of the kids! They are funny, sweet, creative and they treat me like I am famous (which is an awesome feeling, even if I know it isn’t true).

So I thought it would be fun to share some of the funny, weird and random things kids have said during one of my author visits. These aren’t all from one school or event, it is just a hodgepodge of what I have heard the past few months while I was out promoting my new book:

“Have you ever met Harry Potter in person?”

“How rich are you? Do you have a swimming pool and your own butler?”

“I really like your book but I think you are crazy for being a writer.”

“If your cat really stinks like the cat in Ode to Icky, then you should just hold his head under water for thirty minutes. He won’t stink anymore after that.” (I didn’t have the heart to tell this little girl that my cat would be dead if I did as she asked lol)

“Is your husband the illustrator of your book or is he just a plain old husband?”

“Can you autograph my sock?”

“You get into trouble a lot, don’t you?” (How did they know?)

“My cat is really ugly and she is going bald, do you want to borrow her so you can write another funny book about a cat?”

“Have you ever been arrested? If so, you might know my dad.” (I found out his dad was a police officer, which was a relief).

“My sister wants to be a writer, but she don’t got no talent.”

“The Sandcastle Kids: A Mayan Adventure” review

“The Sandcastle Kids: A Mayan Adventure” picture book, written by Sonya Kimble-Ellis and illustrated by Matthew Hebert, contains an unusual combination of fantasy, history and life lessons.  The storyline of the book revolves around four kids named Rosa, Kamal, Richard and Daisy, who find themselves transported to an ancient Mayan village in Central Peten (now known as Guatemala) thanks to the help of a magical sandcastle.

Once there, the group of kids meet a Mayan native named Chamula, who teaches them more about his culture, including an introduction to Mayan hieroglyphics, local wildlife and all the different aspects of daily life in the village.  Luckily, this information is related in an interesting manner, one that doesn’t slow down or ruin the story being told.

This story was an enjoyable read, not only because I personally like history, but because the story is told through the eyes of children, and likeable children at that.  Rosa, Kamal, Richard and Daisy take what could become a boring history lesson and turn it into something that kids can relate to, something exciting and new.

I would definitely recommend this book for any history or fantasy lovers, but think it would also be a good pick for any child who simply likes a good story.  I will say that this book has quite a bit of text, so it is probably better suited for middle or older elementary age children, perhaps age 7-12 or so.

To find out more about this book, the author or how to order a copy for yourself, please visit The Sandcastle Kids website.

Trick or Treat Blog Adventure Giveaway!

Logo Design by Tammie Gibbs

I want to invite you all to participate in the 1st Annual Trick or Treat Blog Adventure, hosted by the JLB Creatives Blog! To participate, simply visit the JLB Creatives blog between October 28-31st and check out all the freebies that are being given away by other authors and bloggers! My blog will be participating as well, if you visit this website between October 28th-31st and leave a comment on the “My Books” page, you will automatically be entered into a contest to win a signed paperback copy of my latest children’s picture book, “Ode to Icky”!

“Ode to Icky” has already gotten two great reviews and is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you don’t win the contest, but would like a signed copy, feel free to contact me at Shojobeatgirl@live.com. The book retails for $9.99, but if you wish to buy a signed copy, the total is $14 with shipping and handling.

UPDATE:  And the winner of the signed paperback copy of “Ode to Icky” is…Sherri-Lee Pressman!  Congrats Sherri!  I will be in contact soon!  I also want to thank all of the participants in my little giveaway.  Thank you so much for supporting me and my writing!

“Dan Quixote, Boy of Nuevo Jersey” Middle Grade Book Review

“Dan Quixote, Boy of Nuevo Jersey”, written by Shevi Arnold, is a fun, entertaining story written for middle grade readers.  As you can probably tell from the title, “Dan Quixote” is loosely based on the classic romantic comedy “Don Quixote”, written by Cervantes.

Since my experience with the classic “Don Quixote” mainly consists of watching a few “Wishbone” episodes on PBS, I can’t really say how closely the plot of this story follows the classic novel.  However, from what I do remember, Don Quixote was a man with a big imagination, one that sometimes almost bordered on insanity.  In that respect, Dan Tyler (the main character of this middle grade novel) is very similar to his namesake.

Dan is definitely a dreamer.  Sometimes he takes his fantasizing too far, endangering his own wellbeing.  Luckily, at times like that Dan has a sensible best friend named Sandy who is quick to step in and save her Dan from himself.

The main plot of the story revolves around several problems that have cropped up.  For one, Dan is in love with a fair maiden named Gwen, a studious young girl who is often picked on by a mean teacher the kids have nicknamed ‘The Dragon’.  In hopes of defending his young love, Dan teams up with the school queen bee Jade, determined to take down the Dragon.  However, Dan soon finds that teaming up with a bully can backfire and make things even worse.

Throughout the story, Dan and Sandy encounter many problems, but it is those trials that show them what true friendship can do if given a chance.  They also learn the power of love, forgiveness, confidence and standing up for what you believe in.  This story is inspirational in many ways, but beyond that it is simply a good story, one that is sure to entertain kids and tweens.

To find out more about this book, or to read the first few chapters for yourself, please visit the author’s website, www.sheviarnold.com.

Interview with author Scotti Cohn

Scotti Cohn is one versatile author.  At the age of 60, this South Carolina writer has published 10 nonfiction books.  Scotti also writes fantasy stories and focuses on a wide range of age groups, from preschool to adulthood.  At the time of this interview, Cohn’s most recent work is a nonfiction book for children entitled Big Cat, Little Kitty, published by Sylvan Dell Publishing.

Read on to learn more about this talented author:

 

Q:  When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author? What made you want to choose this career path?

A:  I have wanted to be an author ever since I found out that authors exist — in other words, ever since I began reading and appreciating books. I found that I loved writing poetry and stories, and I thought I would enjoy doing that all the time.

Q:  Who are some of the authors that greatly influenced your writing style? What were some of your favorite books as a kid?

A:  My favorite books as a kid included the Mary Poppins books by P.L. Travers. I kept thinking how cool it would be if Mary Poppins were my babysitter. I also loved the Eloise books by Kay Thompson, Nancy Drew mysteries, and books about horses and other animals. I don’t know if I can name specific authors who have influenced my style. I write a lot of different types of things. I *hope* that my style has been influenced by the authors I like the most, such as Ray Bradbury, Philip Pullman, Madeleine L’Engle, Susan Cooper, Cornelia Funke, and Clive Barker.

Q:  Did you have a hard time getting your first book published?

A:  I felt like I had a hard time getting my first picture book published, although I have talked to authors who had a harder time than I did. I submitted the manuscript to 23 publishers before Sylvan Dell picked it up.

Q:  Assuming that you write for children or young adults, what made you decide to write for those age groups? Do you still feel connected to your “inner child”?

A:  I am definitely still connected to my “inner child.” I love the thought of giving children as much enjoyment as I received as a child when reading my favorite books.

Q:  What are some of your hobbies, other than writing?

A:  My hobbies include The Beatles (I have a huge trunk full of scrapbooks and memorabilia, plus my original copies of all of their albums). I make jewelry and sell it online(http://jewelrybyscotti.blogspot.com/). I play piano and guitar. I collect walruses (stuffed animals, metal, wood, china, ceramic, paintings, etc.)

Q:  Do you have any sage advice for new authors who are just entering the field?

A:  Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing, practice practice practice, and never stop believing in yourself.

Q:  Do you hold any other jobs outside of your writing? If so, do you find that this helps your writing or gets in the way?

A:  In the past I held full-time jobs that did get in the way of my writing. I was so tired from my job and taking care of my children that I just didn’t feel like writing much. I really admire people who can work a full-time job, manage a household with children, and produce publishable material. Fortunately some of my jobs did involve writing, so I stayed in practice. These days I occasionally take on a copy editing project, but that doesn’t interfere with my writing.

Q:  If you could meet one author, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

A:  I would like to meet Susan Cooper (who is still living) so I could talk to her about her Dark Is Rising series — how she developed her characters, the story line, and so forth. She is one of the authors whose books made it clear to me that one day I would like to write a YA or middle-grade fantasy.

Q:  Do you have any other information you would like to share, such as a website, author page, awards won, etc.?

A:  My author website: http://www.scotticohn.com

Awards:

My picture book One Wolf Howls (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2009) won a Silver Nautilus Award and was named a Maryland Blue Crab Young Readers Award Honor Book.

My picture book Big Cat, Little Kitty (Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2011) won a Mom’s Choice Gold Award.

Currently I am collaborating with illustrator Christina Wald on an upper elementary age chapter book — a fantasy called Wordsworth and the Dragon — that I plan to self-publish. I invite everyone to join me on this journey at http://wordsworthdragon.blogspot.com/.