Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #47

Since being late is my MO these days, I won't disappoint. Just got back into town and had some words all ready to go so might as well get to it.  Most of what I write is fiction and I will stick to that story! I hope everyone is having and had wonderful holidays. Now let the healing begin!

WEW #47
Prompt: use as few or as many as you'd like.
trailer, train, recognize, reclaim, recite, manure, maple, manipulate, field, fidget, festive


We drive up to the trailer - stomachs in knots. Who knows what will be waiting for us once we go in.
My mother-in-law recognizes us and pulls us into long hugs. Her son first. Of course. And in a much longer hug than he cares for.
She is so happy to see us she starts reciting America the Beautiful.
There's no way to get a word in once she starts talking. And if you do, she either ignores what you say or manipulates the conversation back to her. Ever in the spotlight.
It never matters how busy or tough our lives get, she can always best that. It seems to be a competition as to who knows more people who have died. At 82, she wins.
She fidgets, she worries, she drives us to drink once we flee her house.
While holidays are supposed to be festive, it's a challenge when it's the mother-in-law.
Merry Christmas one and all.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Writing Exercise (THURSDAY) #46

My bad. I don't think things will ever slow down. Ack! But 'tis the season to be late. I didn't get many Christmas cards out and the tree is a "light" tree this year. Just lights, no ornaments. That's the way life goes sometimes. So here is the writing exercise - late but that's okay - it can be done anytime, anywhere.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

WEW #46

Prompt: Dichondra, guard, pig strengthen


    Mama’s garden is her pride and joy. She has many award-winning vegetables each year. She has a wall dedicated to her State Fair ribbons. Except there’d be no ribbon this year.
    Where to begin? It kind of started when I rescued a baby pig. Mama didn’t want me to keep it. Daddy said, “It’d be good for the girl.” So Ramon got to stay.
    We have a couple of acres and a barn, but that wasn’t the problem (to Mama). Ramon was my pet. He slept in my room. He didn’t care for the barn too much.
    Then, we had an overgrowth of Dichondra. A lovely herb but it grows rapidly. And such pretty flowers. “Sally-Mae,” Mama said to me, “if I wanted flowers in my garden, I’d have a flower garden.” I couldn’t argue with that.
    But when Ramon squeezed into the vegetable garden through the fencing, he made a heck of a mess. He even ate the rutabagas. I don’t even eat those. Mama was fit to be tied.
    I had to stand guard so Ramon didn’t get back in while Mama strengthened the fence with Daddy.  All the while mumbling and cursing the day I got Ramon and she also cursed the Dichondra. Amazing how two seemingly innocent and unrelated things could cause Mama so much distress.
    So I saved one of her giant cabbages and made a ribbon for her and left it on the kitchen table.
    And Ramon was allowed to stay.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Party 2012

I wanted to post a few photos from my company's holiday party. I helped decorate since it was my idea to do a Classic Hollywood theme.  People had the option to dress for the 30's-40's. I'll have to get more photos of the others who dressed up. I found my dress in a thrift store in Palm Springs - where else?! It was perfect. The rest we got from a costume shop. Everyone had a great time and it all worked out. The photos I have are mostly of the decorations with a couple of Den and I in our fashion garb! I wonder what theme we'll come up with for next year. :-)

walk of fame

photo archway



fred and ginger table - mine

food place cards

dance floor lamp



ginger and bogie by way of SB

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook

 The Almost Truth

I am up to my eyeballs in a three day audit at work, so today there's a break in the writing exercise weather.  I'm happy to share a book review instead. But I will be back next week!

Eileen Cook (Unraveling Isobel) creates the ideal read for teens who are sure they were switched at birth.

Sadie's home is a trailer. Her mother works as a maid and her father is a career criminal who spends more time in jail than with his family. Sadie desperately wants to leave all this behind, so she's counting the days (and the money she makes on petty cons, thanks to a few tips from her father) until she can leave for college. No, Sadie is not like her dad; she just needs money for books and expenses. But when her mom wipes out Sadie's entire bank account, which was meant to be her down payment to UC Berkeley, Sadie knows she's screwed.

Then Sadie sees a flyer for Ava McKenna, a child who went missing 15 years earlier, and the age-enhanced photo looks a lot like Sadie. There's also a reward of $250,000. With the help of her best friend, Brendan, who's "like a con genius savant," Sadie has hopes of getting the reward and "leaving the old me behind." As they investigate the disappearance to find an angle for the con, strange coincidences suggest that Sadie might, in fact, be Ava. But this seems like just another escapist fantasy. And who would Sadie be, anyway, if she's not who she believes herself to be? Readers will be swept along on the twists and turns of Sadie's journey to find her true identity, inside and out. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI. First appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers, reprinted with permission.

Discover: A novel about pulling the ultimate con, with Sadie trying to remake her entire life.

Lynn Becker

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #45

WEW #45

Prompt: blur, dismount, pearl, snow
For some reason, I decided to use them all in the first sentence and continue from there. Join me on a trip!


    The pearl snow was a blur in my fantastic dismount from the galloping circus horse.
    We had to practice outside in the cold while waiting for the train to be fixed.  How you fix a train, I have no idea.  I patted Charmin and let the stable hand, Henry, lead her away.
    Sally, the bearded lady, whose show name was Sabina, shivered with chattering teeth even with all her facial hair.  She grabbed the first hot cocoa from Mr. Shamush.  He ate swords and breathed fire. His normally long hair was wound under a turban.  He winked at me when Sally took a second cup.
    Mrs. Craftsky, the tall woman and also our manager, gathered everyone around her.  “The train will be ready tomorrow.”
    A mutual groan did the wave around the circle.
    “I’m sorry.  I know it’s cold but we will have accommodations arranged shortly.”
    Sally raised a hair arm.  “Where are we?”
    Mrs. Craftsky hesitated.  My stomach flopped.  She pasted a grin on her face.  “Just outside Ulaanbaatar.”
    “Where?” I asked.
    She bent way down and touched my face.  “Oh, Pumpkin.”  That’s actually my real name and my show name. 
    Mrs. Craftsky stood up with shoulders back, towering over us all.  “Welcome to Mongolia!”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #44

I can't believe I didn't get the exercise up yesterday!  It's been so busy at work and I've been falling asleep around 8pm. I think this is the first time I've posted a day late.  I can usually get it done that same day.  Anyway...

Here is the second week of poem line prompts.

WEW #44

Prompt: use any of the following lines from amazing poems and poets.

“But dark is a long way,” Dylan Thomas, Poem on His Birthday

“This living hand, now warm and capable,” John Keats, This Living Hand

“And every wave is charmed,” Ralph Waldo Emerson, Terminus


    There was something about the house that didn’t feel right. Everything looked normal; furniture, curtains, yellow kitchen, bedrooms. It was so spotless; it was hard to believe anyone lived there.
    Jonah and Jacqueline had been there before. All they had to do was retrieve a plate of cookies on the kitchen counter. Mrs. Black told them to get it. It was her house. No big deal, right.
    But Jonah and Jacqueline were frozen, looking down the hallway that led to the cookies.
    “You go first.” Jacqueline nudged Jonah.
    Jonah shook his head. “But it’s dark.”
    “Just run.”
    “But dark is a long way,” Jonah whispered.
    “Okay. Let’s hold hands and run together.”
    “Oh-kay.” A quivering Jonah slipped his sweaty hand into hers.
    “On the count of three,” Jacqueline said. “One, two, wait…”
    “Oh, good.”
    “No, do you hear that?”
    “W-what?” Jonah didn’t want ot hear anything.
    “Something’s moving in the kitchen.”
    “But we have to go in there. What if we tell Mrs. Black the cookies were gone?” Jonah asked.
    Jacqueline tightened her grip on Jonah’s hand. “We can do this.”
    Jonah looked at her with wide eyes and gulped.
    The two, stronger together, slipped down the hall as fast as they could. After holding their breath the whole way, they huffed and stopped outside the kitchen door.
    Jacqueline whispered, “One, two, three.”
    They pushed the swinging door.
    “Surprise!” everyone cheered.
    The twins’ jaws dropped; their hearts pounding.
    “Happy birthday, sweethearts,” their mother said, enveloping them in a hug.
    Mrs. Black stood smiling with her hands clasped to her chest.
    Jacqueline and Jonah gawked at their cake. Half was pink with shoes and purses, the other half was green with dinosaurs. “Happy 10th Birthday” it read.
    The twins broke out into grins and hugged each other. “Awesome cake, Mom.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #43

This week and next week I'm using line prompts from different poems. You can start the exercise with it or use it within or even just as an idea maker. You never know where it can take you. It's just so much fun!!!! Okay, it's the last day of work before a long weekend so I'm easily excited. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, for those celebrating it, and for my Canadian friends, enjoy the parade!

WEW #43

Prompt: use any of the following lines from amazing poems and poets.

“Now I absorb immortality and peace” Walt Whitman, Night on the Prairies

“An ear can break a human heart” Emily Dickinson, The Saddest Noise

“Many have loved me desperately” Thomas Hardy, He Never Expected Much

“Since Truth is seldom friend to any crowd” Rudyard Kipling, The Fabulists


    "An ear can break a human heart," Alicia said.
    "No it can't," her brother Timothy said.
    "Yes it can!"
    "No it can't!"
    They sat on their front step and watched a butterfly float above their heads.
    "A butterfly can change the world," Alicia said.
    "No it can't," Timothy said.
    A cloud wisped and morphed past them in the sky.
    "How can an ear break a heart?" Tim asked.
    Alicia looked at her scuffed shoes.  "Remember when Mom and Dad were fighting?  Dad said a word I'm not allowed to use."
    Tim frowned.  "Mom cried."
    They silently watched a caterpillar inch its way across the cement.
    "A caterpillar can magically turn into a butterfly or a moth," Alicia said.
    "No it can't," Timothy said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #42

Who said better late than never?  Well, that's what today has become.  Stop by for a quick exercise today or tomorrow or next week - because it's better that we do it sometime than not at all.  Next week I plan to be on time!

WEW #42

Prompt: arrested, forlornly, lavender, perspiration

    Mariposa assumed she would be asked to the dance.  With her golden curls and baby blues, who could resist?  Apparently, everyone.  How could she attend the spring dance unescorted?  It would be scandalous.  The arena would be set with tree nymphs and wood fairies and little twinkling lights and no Mariposa.  Her lavender dress would stay arrested in her closet, never to see the starry lights, feel the motion and sway of Mariposa’s rehearsed dance steps, never feel the damp perspiration on its fabric.
    Unless.  Unless Mariposa made up her date.  He would be a military man; ready to show the world how good she looked next to his uniform.  Then when he, sadly, forlornly, unexpectedly got reassigned, or better yet, shipped out, showing up at the dance alone, she would be accepted and applauded for her courage and bravery while she was separated from her fella.
    She’d have to find a photo online and use it in case anyone was curious enough to ask about him.
    This could work.  Poo on all those high school boys.  Mariposa was about to get herself a real man.  So to speak.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #41

Here's a different way to think about what you're writing. Turning things around or on its head or changing the order you put it together might open up insight to your story or character or setting. It can be surprising what presents itself.

Pick a word. Write a sentence with that word. Then write the sentence before your original sentence. Then write the sentence after your original sentence. And then write the 4th sentence. Put them in order.

Result: My word is bug. My original sentence: There was a bug named Ug.

In a forest, under the trees, past the bushes, beside the grass was a landed called Lotsofun.
And in this land, there was a bug named Ug.
Ug wasn’t just any bug, Ug was a ladybug.
But Ug was just one of many ladybugs in his family of 16.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Book Review: BETA by Rachel Cohn

Beta (Annex, #1) 

When humans bioengineer their own tropical paradise, what could possibly go wrong? In Beta, author Rachel Cohn (Gingerbread; Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist), examines themes of free will, entitlement and justice in a highly readable futuristic fantasy.

Elysia, a newly emerged clone, inhabits the body of a beautiful 16-year-old girl. She is a Beta, a test model, and not yet perfected. She lives on the island of Demesne, constructed to be as perfect as possible--with its super-oxygenated air and soothing violet sea water to pamper its citizens, the world's richest and most privileged people. Demesne's population is served by clones designed to be immune to the euphoria of this island paradise. At first, Elysia is a most desirable clone, "exquisite," respectful and subservient. She follows every order put forth by her imperious human family. But Elysia soon comes to realize that she has Defects, which may prevent her from serving as her humans intended. She can taste her food and feel emotions, which are against the rules for clones. Even worse, Elysia begins to develop her own sense of values. But she must be careful: any clones who exhibit Defective behavior are immediately reprogrammed or "expired."

Teens may well identify with the characterization of clones as second-class citizens without control of their own destinies. A satisfying start to a new series, Beta ties up some necessary story threads, but a powerful cliffhanger will leave readers looking forward to the next installment. 
--Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI. First appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers, reprinted with permission.

Discover: A tropical paradise for the world's richest people, staffed by clones who increasingly resent their servitude.

Lynn Becker

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #40

Happy Halloween Everyone! Fun day, fun costumes, fun size candy.
We are in the final stretch of this year long blog of writing exercises. And now I'm at 40! 
I do have to comment on Writer's Day on Saturday. It was fantastic and informative and a beautiful day and so great to see so many friends! A fabulous success. Well worth driving in the (slow) Friday traffic. I will leave earlier next time.

Here is today's exercise - hope it sparks and illuminates.  And it's perfect for Halloween since that's the photo I used from the prompt!

WEW #40

Think of photos from around kindergarten age – can be photos of anything and then bring one to life.  My photo is of my two older sisters dressed up for Halloween.

Why do they keep dressing us alike? We’re not twins, just sisters. I wonder if Jan’s costume is as tight as mine? I love the baby blue of mine. But it is riding up. I think I look more like a china doll than Jan – her blond hair isn’t very Asian looking. Her red outfit with the little flowers is pretty. I think the orange pumpkin filled with candy clashes with our costumes. Oh well – it’s only for one day. Jan stole some candy out of my pumpkin, I just know it. Well, I’m going to take some back. Hey, who put this apple in here? It’s not even caramel coated. And everybody knows you don’t eat apples from strangers. One more block, my feet hurt in these little black shoes. We should have brought a pillow case to get more candy. I hope I don’t have to share – I can make this stash last for months. That’s if Jan doesn’t steal anymore.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #39 + Writer's Day 2012 + Sleep Writing

I probably should do individual posts but might as well put them all together here tied with a nice writing exercise ribbon.

Writer's Day 2012 is happening this Saturday, Oct 27! It's at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks. Always such a fun event, I hope to see all you artist people there.

Sleep Writing - I keep a pen and paper next to my bed since I used to record my dreams. I could never figure them out. But it has been great for lists that need to download from my brain so I can sleep better. Last night, at 1am, my brain was giving me the beginning to one of my stories. So, waking up the cat, I reached for my pad and pen and wrote stuff down. And when it wouldn't stop, I picked up the pen again and continued on until it was done and I could sleep again. That is such a gift when it happens. Deciphering it the next day is always interesting and my pen did short out here and there, but I think the act of writing it down makes it easier to remember once I see the chicken scratch I created in the dark. It's very interesting writing in the dark and if I hadn't had the kitty squished against me, I probably would have gotten up and written everything possible. Now to see if it's any good. Even if it isn't, it might be the jumping off start I needed.

Now on to the writing exercise.  Short and sweet - just what the sleep deprived writer ordered. While not Shakespeare, it'll do. 

WEW #39

Bones, pain, lies, frilly, stupendous

“Bones,” she said, wincing in pain, “your stupendous lies have landed us in hot water again.”
“You’re such a frilly, little girl, Carla. Suck it up. It’s only a sprain. Get up.”
“What a jerk,” Carla mumbled. “At least help me up.”
“Fine,” Bones huffed. “But this doesn’t mean I like you.”
“Same here.”
Bones helped her up and she gently touched her foot to the ground.
“Girls,” Bones said with disgust. “Wait here, I’ll go get my old man’s truck to haul you back.” 

"Great, another lie. You’re not old enough to drive,” Carla said.
“Doesn’t mean I can’t. Be back in a jiff.”
Carla sulked.  “Boys.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #38

Work has been taking up all my time - ack - need to post an exercise! Quick!
This exercise is a bit different in the outcome for me - but isn't that half the fun?! Enjoy.

Forego, plethora, bird, runner

     “Actually, you don’t know anything about anything! What’s my favorite color? What’s my favorite flower or bird?” Charlotte shrieked.
     “Um, I would like to forego the bird part of the question. If that’s okay,” Bert said.
     Charlotte turned her face away.
     “But, I believe, ma’am, that you’re favorite color is red and your favorite flower is a red rose. And I’d hanker a guess that the bird you favor is a cardinal.”
     “Oh, Bert!? Charlotte cried. “You know more about me than my own mama.”
     “I know a plethora of things about you, Charlotte, if you’d just give me a chance to share them with you.” Bert shuffled from one foot to the other.
     Charlotte clasped her face and then Bert’s and gave him the loudest smooch on his cheek.
     Bert stumbled off the front porch, missed his step on the truck runner trying to get in, and almost caught his finger shutting his door.
     Charlotte waved her hanky as Bert drove away. “It is the cardinal,” she said with a sigh. “He doesn’t know it yet but we’re getting married next week.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #37

So while I'm in jury duty today, do me a favor and have fun with a new exercise!

Gloomy, white poplar, solidify, formulate, bookman, scanty, admonish, constant

The gloomy day solidified with the heavy layers of falling snow. It looked so peaceful falling. Giant cotton balls sent from heaven. Except for the yellow snow against the snow bank. This would be a perfect day to stay home from school. What excuse would I come up with today?
Step-mother admonished me last time I was faking, but Sabrina, my best friend gave me some tips to fool her. If we could both pull it off today – we had a list of great fun planned.
Step-mother doesn’t approve of Sabrina. “Katy,” she constantly calls me even though I go by Kat. “Katy, Sabrina is a bad influence. Dresses so scanty and that tattoo. What kind of mother let’s her 14 year old daughter get a tattoo?”
I don’t have any tattoos. I barely got pierced ears last year for my birthday. Step-mother has strict rules of conduct every young lady should follow.
This means my long brown hair is always neat; I don’t get to have funky haircuts or color. I don’t get those vibrant green color contacts I wanted. My glasses are good enough according to her. And none of my clothes are black unless we’re attending a funeral. And how often does that happen?
Now that I’ve finally gotten my braces off, I’m finally developing some bumps on my chest and I have a cool best friend.
Step-mother may ruin my entire high school life.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Book Review: The City's Son: The Skyscraper Throne, Book One by Tom Pollock

A darker side of London comes to life in debut author Tom Pollock's thrilling urban fantasy, where train-like demons jump their tracks, flames dance right out of their street lamps, and graveyard statues house the mortal bodies of the undead. All will be called upon to fight for control of the city.

Graffiti artist Beth Bradley's latest masterpiece gets her thrown out of school. Betrayed by her best friend and abandoned emotionally by her father, Beth runs away, only to be picked up by a Railwraith and plunged into a world she never knew existed. Filius Viae, aka "Son of the Streets," must somehow keep the increasingly powerful Reach, the Crane King and the face of urban sickness, from killing the City and enslaving its occupants. Beth manages to save Filius's life, and finds that she thrives on the danger. She joins him in his crusade to stop the Crane King from taking over before Filius's mother, the goddess Mater Viae, can return. To complicate matters, Beth's best friend becomes a pawn in Reach's army, and her father also gets caught up in this bizarre war for the heart of London.
Filius shows Beth a world at once gritty and beautiful, full of power and destruction. As Beth herself points out, long before she fully realizes the depth of truth in her statement, "The city's a dangerous place if you don't pay attention." Pollock crafts a highly imaginative tale, the first in a planned trilogy, with a superb cast of human and magical creatures. --Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI. First appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers, reprinted with permission.
Discover: A gritty urban fantasy, where the Son of the Streets battles the Crane King for control of the Skyscraper Throne.

Lynn Becker

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #36

Today's exercise is a bit different. Write a paragraph that is symbolic or representative of a character.

WEW #36

Emblematic – like a snapshot that reveals character.

Tasting the first snowflakes on her tongue, Sarah's amazement turned into a wide grin. White flakes sitting on her soft brown hair, the red flush of life in her cheeks, warding off the cold. Her eye sparkled with the adventure and fun of experiencing something new. She threw a snowball high in the air, letting it smash over her head – giggling without a care in the world. The dampness of the melting snow on her clothes was only that, nothing could damper her spirit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Successful Workshop!

Yay!  Mary Hershey's workshop on Saturday was wonderful.  All the feedback I've gotten has been so positive and we had a great turn-out too!  I'm so thankful to Alexis, Lynn, Karin, Val and Edie who dove right in and helped set up and tear down.  You are angels and were so helpful.  Just another fantastic thing about our region.  I appreciate everyone who came and participated from near and far, and to Mary, who is an excellent teacher.

I think we all found hours in the day, we didn't know we had, that we can dedicate to our craft.  Inspiration was abundant.  Creativity was floating freely.  And the practical, hands-on exercises were so helpful and valuable.  Below is Mary and me and also the declaration boards everybody made. And I can't get that photo to turn sideways.  Is it just me?!

Thanks again to Mary and to all who enjoyed the workshop.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #35

I can't believe I'm up to #35. Makes getting to 52 seem more possible. And then what? I do not know.  Enjoy the fun words today!

WEW #35

Scurry, shining, smelly, foolishly


     Smelly, smelly fish. That’s what I think of them. They stink. My brother gets all excited about their shining scales, how big they are and what they eat.
     Don’t care – never will.
     Now my sister, loves rats. She has two and they scurry about. They sit on her shoulders and clean her eyebrows.
     Not for me.
     I foolishly go for pigs, cows, sheep, goats and cats. But in my room, I only get to have the cat now. You’d be surprised at what sheep and goats can do indoors.  Someday I’ll have the whole farm.
     That’s what I’m gonna do.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sept 29 Workshop with Mary Hershey!

This is my first event hosting as Santa Barbara County Coordinator, and I'm so excited and honored to have Mary Hershey as our instructor. Below are all the details for the workshop.  It's open to all artists: illustrators, writers, painters, etc. Registration info is HERE and walk-ins are welcome!  I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone and participating in an amazing workshop. 
Creative Bankruptcy in the Land of Plenty: Managing Your Time, Talent & Treasures   

Instructor: Mary Hershey
Saturday, September 29, 2012
1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Goleta Public Library, 500 North Fairview Avenue,
Goleta, CA 93117
$40 SCBWI members, $50 non-members

Studies have shown that if you put three SCBWI members alone in a room together, it will take less than 1.75 minutes for the conversation to turn to their shared experience of not having the time, inspiration, support or energy for their craft.
How can we be expected to capture the attention of an agent, editor or future reader when our personal circumstances aren’t sufficient? In this 3-hour workshop, author and personal coach, Mary Hershey, will help participants search and discover the wealth of time and treasure available to them. Each student will leave the workshop with at least eight extra hours per week for their craft, and at least one idea that makes their heart skip a beat. Guaranteed.
STUDENTS SHOULD BRING: A copy of their favorite magazine, and one to share in case someone forgets theirs.
BIOGRAPHY: MARY HERSHEY is the author of four humorous novels published for middle grade and young adults with impossibly long titles that only her mother can remember. Her first book with Editor Wendy Lamb at Random House entitled MY BIG SISTER IS SO BOSSY SHE SAYS YOU CAN’T READ THIS BOOK was compared to the work of Beverly Cleary, and has endeared her to little sisters all over the country, an unexpected honor for which she is deeply grateful. 

Ms. Hershey holds a Masters Degree in Counseling & Guidance from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and is a certified Personal & Executive Coach. When she is not composing really long book or workshop titles, she serves at the Department of Veteran Affairs as an Administrative Officer.

For more information, contact Angela Russell at

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #34

What I've gotten out of this next exercise is specific details.  They make all the difference in a story's believability but also they help the reader really connect with the characters.

WEW #34

Take a childhood secret or incident and fictionalize it.

     My sister Nanna and I had a leftover red balloon from her birthday party. Her real name’s Joanna, but we’ve called her Nanna as long as I can remember.
     In our living room – which is separate from our family room, and there is a BIG difference – we were flicking the balloon to each other.
Nanna grabbed the balloon in front of her and stuck her tongue on it and made a crazy face. I was laughing so hard I had to sit down. But I would have been even funnier if I could have popped it right at that second.
“Patty-cake,” Nanna said, “stop daydreaming and play.” She calls me Patty-cake at home and sometimes in public when she wants to embarrass me.
     I jumped up and smashed the fat balloon as hard as I could. It bounced off Nanna’s face and flew to the mantel over the fireplace. The balloon drifted down but a cracking sound made us look at each other.
     “Oh, oh,” I said.
     On the marble floor in front of the fireplace was Mom’s precious figurine – head half cracked open and the little lamb’s leg skewed.
     Nanna ran for the glue while I gathered parts back together.
     We never said a word to Mom – she never noticed. But if you look close enough, you can see the lamb’s leg fractured and the patch job on the girl’s head.
     It’s still our little secret.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Review: Pie by Sarah Weeks

If you made the best pies in town, would you give them all away? That's what Alice's Aunt Polly does when she opens her pie shop in the small town of Ipswitch, Penn. And when Aunt Polly dies, she leaves her prized pie crust recipe to her cat!

Aunt Polly, also known as "the Pie Queen of Ipswitch," won the coveted Blueberry Award for pie-making a record 13 times. While her aunt was alive, Alice spent all of her free time in the shop, cracking walnuts and crumbling brown sugar. So when Aunt Polly dies, Alice finds herself in possession of her aunt's much loved but very cranky cat, Lardo--heir to the pie crust recipe. Now all of Ipswitch is trying to find Aunt Polly's recipe in order to become the next Blueberry Award winner. But without a decent piecrust, can anyone in town take home the prize? Bad pies are cooling on every windowsill. When Lardo disappears and the pie shop is ransacked, Alice and her new friend, Charlie, begin investigating the crimes.
In this gentle mystery, false trails and zaniness abound, and friendship and family rule the day. Aunt Polly lives on through her pies, and her wonderful pie recipes (included in the story). Alice puts it best when she sings, "A cat, a key, a clink, a clue,/ a chocolate pie, a friend that's true,/ A mystery that is finally through,/ And now a happy ending, too." This reader will begin by baking the delicious-sounding Lemon Chess Pie, from page 102. --Lynn Becker, host of the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI, Book Talk. First appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers 10/28/11, reprinted with permission.
Discover: A charming middle-grade mystery that stresses the importance of friendship, family and the goodness of pies.
Lynn Becker

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #33

Swimming pond and summer.  Go to it and make it mysterious.

     Down at the old mill was a swimming pond. All summer me and Hank and Bethany turned into fish. The rope Father hung was well worn in and swung like Tarzan’s vines. It never mattered how hot we were or how cold the pond was – we’d jump anyhow.
     The summer Old Man Hooper died was the last summer Hank and Bethany and me were fish. Watching the rope being cut down made my heart ache. Bethany cried. I’m not sure who she was crying for: herself or Old Man Hooper. But ever since that day, anytime we’re around the adults, we only whisper his name.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #32

Here's a chance to let your teenager voice come out and play, be a diva, drama queen, quiet wallflower.  Anything goes!

Prompt: Sumo, Nordic, insensitive, crestfallen

Being jilted is not something I’m used to. Of all the girls in school, I’m the least likely to get dumped. But that status has changed – as of 4:45 yesterday afternoon. I didn’t realize that word would spread as fast as it did. And my own friend told me what everyone was saying. The insensitive bitch. I was crestfallen and almost depressed. Not that I could ever be depressed, but I was feeling down. Getting dumped isn’t half as bad as having everyone talking about it and looking at me with pity. Pity! Me!

I should have broken up with him first. That’s my way. That’s the only way. I can’t believe how bad it looks being cast off by a Nordic sumo wrestler. Well, that’s what he looks like. Maybe a slimmer sumo – but he’s all Nordic and all wrestler – put those together and you have a dick of a boyfriend.

If he thinks he can do better than me, he is delusional. There is no one better and he knows it. I wouldn’t want him back anyway ‘cause there are better guys than him.

Ooh – here comes one right now.  “Hey gorgeous!”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Launch - Greg Trine

I'm so happy to interview Greg Trine about his upcoming book launch on Saturday, September 8, 2-4pm at the Thousand Oaks Library. This is great to be able to post before it happens!  I hope everyone can make it, I hear there will be cake.

Here is the always fabulous and funny, Greg Trine.

What kind of preparations do you do for a book launch?

This will be kind of a hybrid launch in that I will be giving a presentation. So my prep will involve figuring out what I want to say. Also, trying to get people to show up is part of the pre-launch activities.

Do you plan food or activities to match the book?

Yes, we'll have cake and other goodies. Depending on the mix of kids vs. adults, I'll do an activity...possibly an evil laugh contest and have the kids act something out.

This would be a good place for an audio cue with you doing your evil laugh. Does your publisher contribute or help at all?

They did make up bookmarks, but basically I do all of it on my own. I'm sure they would help if I asked, but I don't want to be known as that "needy author."

What’s your favorite part of a launch?  What makes it successful for you?

It's always nice to meet book readers. I'd say if 50 or more people show up, that would be a successful launch.

Are you launching the first Jo Schmo book or both 1 and 2?

Just the first one. Book two will be out in December.

What have you learned from doing launches and signings? 

Sometimes people show up, sometimes they don't. In this launch I'll not only be launching a new book, but a new series. I'm hoping that will bring out the crowds. Also, having it at the Thousand Oaks Library has the added advantage of using their PR department to promote the event. There will also be an article in the Ventura County Star.

That’s great!  Do you have upcoming events/signings?

I'm going to spend a seven days in Porterville, CA, visiting schools. I may add some bookstore signings as well.

When is the rest of the series due come out?  I read the first Jo Schmo and it’s a lot of fun.  I look forward to the rest!

Book two will be out in December, book three will be out in July, and book four in the fall of 2013.

Excellent.  Thank you so much Greg and happy launching!!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writing Exercise Wednesday #31

Too much fun - that's what this next exercise is.  Grab a fairy tale or nursery rhyme and turn it on its ear.  Or head.  Or bum.  And just have fun.  Almost rhymes. :-)

Prompt: equitable, homely, canvas, chutzpah, unfair


Mary and her little lamb were given a raw deal.  She couldn't take the lamb to school and the lamb wouldn't go to pasture without her.  The establishment wouldn't allow them to do both - which would make Mary and her lamb extremely happy.  This was unjust, unfair and just plain mean.

Holly, Mary's homely friend, had chutzpah and brainstormed on Mary's behalf.  Holly was ahead of her time, wearing colorful shirts and beads.  Once, she even staged a sit in for Jack to be enrolled at the school even though he lived out of their district in the sky.

Mary was so thankful to have Holly on her side.  Mary gathered the two canvases Holly had asked for.  Provided with dyes and brushes, Holly got to work.

By the next day, Holly presented Mary with a painting of her lamb and gave the lamb a portrait of Mary.  Mary and her lamb were besides themselves.

Mary and Holly skipped to school and set up the lamb painting beside Mary's desk.  The lamb was contentedly grazing in the meadow with Mary's likeness watching over her.

And there wasn't a darn thing the establishment could complain about.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review: Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman (Schooled) offers another winner, starring surprisingly appealing antihero Donovan Curtis, a reckless eighth-grader with extremely poor impulse control.

Donovan can't resist "throwing darts at a pool float to test my sister's swimming skills, or spitting back at the llamas at the zoo." It gets worse. One day, Donovan uses a baseball bat to break the statue of Atlas on his middle school campus. He sends the globe flying into the gym doors, shattering them completely. But instead of Donovan getting expelled or arrested, a paperwork glitch sends him to the district's school for the gifted. There, hiding out from the superintendent, Donovan finds a way to fit in. He may not be gifted like the other students, but he brings them social skills and a sense of normalcy. He unites the robotics group, for instance, and gives their prized robot a name (Tin Man), then uses his video game experience to win the job of driving it. And he convinces his very pregnant sister to fill in for the Human Growth and Development class that the group missed, allowing them to graduate without summer school. But since the gym at his old school is still out of commission, the superintendent decides to move the spring dance to the gifted academy--and Donovan's worlds collide.

Korman demonstrates how many gifts one "ungifted" kid can bring to a classroom full of geniuses. This wacky yet well-crafted novel explores the fish-out-of-water theme with freshness and pizzazz. -- Lynn Becker, host of Book Talk, the monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI.  Review first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers, reprinted with permission.

Discover: A spot-on comedy about a middle school troublemaker who transforms, and is transformed by, a school for the gifted.