Monday, January 30, 2012

Reading Tips for Parents of Babies | Reading Topics A-Z | Reading Rockets

It's never too early to read to your baby. As soon as your baby is born, he or she starts learning. Just by talking to, playing with, and caring for your baby every day, you help your baby develop language skills necessary to become a reader. By reading with your baby, you foster a love of books and reading right from the start. The tips below offer some fun ways you can help your child become a happy and confident reader. Try a new tip each week. See what works best for your child.

Read the full article here
Reading Tips for Parents of Babies | Reading Topics A-Z | Reading Rockets

Tips to Teaching Children About Politeness

Welcome Maryann B. Sawka to the blog today as a guest author. She is the author of Good Table Manners Made Easy.

                                                          By Maryann B. Sawka

The idea of politeness is something that we begin to teach our children when they are quite young by introducing words such as “please” and “thank you.” Repeating those phrases a few times will have your youngster starting to say them independently without reminders from you. When they grow a little, we add “I’m sorry” and “you’re welcome” to the polite vocabulary that we are building in our children. We demonstrate when to use the words and continue to use them so that our youngsters will mimic our actions.

Children are never too young to learn polite behavior and actions.  In fact, it is a better idea to teach manners when they are young so that the behaviors we are teaching become a foundation on which we continue to build as our children mature. 

When we put young children together, we are introducing a social element where they are with like-aged peers and learn about sharing and taking turns. They are practicing these necessary skills, which allows their playtime to be more enjoyable.  If everyone is using the same social skills, everyone should get along and have a good time, right?

When we raise our children, we teach limits and boundaries, which go together nicely with the idea that we should treat each other with kindness and respect.  Granted, when children are at a very young age, we may not use words that may be at a level that is above their understanding, such as “boundaries” and “respect,” but we can convey the idea of politeness by using vocabulary that they will understand.  We can talk about feelings, how everyone has feelings and how our actions and words can affect the feelings of others.  This helps their evolution from an egocentric way of thinking to starting to put the needs of others before our own needs.

As they grow and mature, we can introduce appropriate ways to greet and introduce others as their social lives expand through outside activities such as dance class, sports, community-related activities and more. At this point, our manners conversation moves to topics that include getting along with others, being a good friend, greeting others and similar actions.  We talk about being a good guest when they are invited to join someone at their home or on an outing and being a good host when they entertain friends at their own home.

Keep in mind, that these are discussions that are better reinforced through many conversations where dialogue is a two-way street.  Teaching manners includes asking questions while sharing new information, without preaching. In my etiquette workshops, I like to keep the educational part of the workshop fun and lively with role-playing activities so that the participants have an opportunity to share what they already know and can participate in the learning, rather than having me present the material in the form of a lecture.

When we start talking with teens about manners and etiquette, they should already have the foundation that we have been building since they were young children.  We can now introduce topics that include building positive relationships, manners in public and electronic etiquette as most teens have a cell phone or computer.  We can start to talk about workplace etiquette as this is the time when many teens venture out into the work world.

The evolution of good manners begins at a young age and continues as children grow and mature.  In many ways, manners instruction is a building process much like math and reading.  If you teach the basics first, you can continue to teach higher-level skills in a natural progression.  Children are never too young to learn good manners.

Thanks so much for such good information. Please follow Maryann tomorrow at  for another great post.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guest Post by Children's Author, Molly Nero

Topic: Studying Tips for Parents/Kids

Take a moment to think about something.  You have been working at your job for 8 hours when finally you arrive home.  Tired and hungry, you’re ready for a relaxing evening.  But no, you don’t get to relax and leave work at work.  No, you must do more work at home.  How would you feel?  This is what we ask our kids to do every day of the school week.  We send them off in the morning.   They work all day in their various classrooms.  They arrive home lugging heavy backpacks loaded with homework. Now instead of being able to just stop for the day, they must go back into that school mind-set and try to work on classroom assignments, out of the classroom environment.  Who wouldn’t be grouchy?

Why not look at studying with your kids as quality time spent together?  I know it’s not a baseball game or a movie, but you have the ability to make it a drag or a positive time together.  Be patient.  Kids are just learning what you and I have known for so long that we don’t even have to think about it.  They should have already been taught the skill that is represented on the homework paper.  If they don’t understand, try to find a way to relate what they are learning to a real-life situation.  This validates why they need to learn it in the first place.  It will also challenge you to think about your every-day life a little differently.

Math skills are all around your home.  If your child is learning measurement, have them measure the ingredients for the recipe you’re making for dinner.  Ordering out?  Have your kid determine what is affordable or how much of each item you will need.  In Smarty Pig, money is brought to life by creating a grocery store in the kitchen. How do you use math at work?  Do you schedule appointments, measure for decorating, deal with accounting, manage people or work construction?  Share it with your child.  These things help your student understand how you use the skill they are working on.  It gives their learning purpose.

Reading skills are needed for game directions, TV schedules, or even when renting movies.   Have your child sounding out items in your pantry needed to make dinner.  Show them a report that you are required to read at work.  Let them see the directions you follow as you cook dinner.  Validate their learning.  Practice spelling in a different way by using a tray covered with pudding, so they can write their word on the tray IN the pudding.  A sweep across the top clears it for the next word and lets them lick dessert off their hands!  How fun is that once and a while?

So let’s go back to the homework.  Look at it as an opportunity to spend some quality time with your child.  Patience is vital, so do things to make you both laugh.  Change where you work together to keep it fun; maybe sitting UNDER the table with a tray for a desk.  Break out of the old thinking of homework as being a drag, and look at it as a great time to spend with your kids learning together what is right in front of you.  Time with you smiling and sharing with your kids will make studying fun and create enthusiastic learners.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January '12 Educational Tip

The decorations are back in the boxes and thoughts are now focused on resolutions for the New Year. You may not be thinking about the 2012 holiday buying season, but toy manufacturers are, and what stores and companies are focused on is how they can get you and your family in the grips of the “must-have-toy” frenzy of the next toy buying season.
A store in London, which is similar to New York’s F.A.O. Schwartz, the store that is the setting of a child’s dream come true storyline in many movies, is taking a different approach to appealing to young girls and boys. They are visually removing the “I’m-A-Girl-Toy” cotton candy pink colors and “I’m-A-Boy-Toy” shades of blue from the display shelves. Signs will be in neutral colors so each child can feel free to gravitate toward whatever catches his or her interest. The choices will be divided into categories that are gender neutral; soft toys, indoor/outdoor toys.
Baby clothes, pajamas, sweaters and blankets are available in predominantly pinks and blues; two distinct and separate categories. Yet, studies have shown that when children reach the age where they are able to manipulate and engage in playtime, children pretty much play with the same toys. It is when they reach preschool age that boys and girls tend to move toward playing what is considered to be the “traditional” trucks for boys and dolls for girls. What if children were encouraged to stay more neutral in their toy choices and how they see themselves as individual people?
Psychologists who study the behavior of boys and girls say children who have solid friendships with the opposite sex at a young age, and don’t see the world as dramatically different with girls’ toys on one side and boys’ on the other, have healthier romantic relationships as teenagers and more productive work relationships with co-workers of the opposite sex as adults. As parents and caregivers, it is hard to imagine our children working in an office or performing on a concert stage one day, but it would seem anything that encourages children to have a “we-are-all-in-this-together” outlook on life certainly is going to help them in relating to one another.
Then again, when we, the adults, think we know what is best for children, they have a way of staying one step ahead and foiling all our good intentions. The neutral color strategy in a toy store may prove that the girls will always find the dolls and the boys will reach for the box with the giant dump truck anyway.
All the best to you in 2012!
Alice Knisley Matthias
Educational Writer

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tips for Youth Authors on How to Get Published

Please welcome Children's author Rachel Yurchisin. Today she offers young writers some good advice and tips for becoming published. 

The Inspiration Behind Writing "Diary of My Days in Kenya"
            In fifth grade, Sister Elizabeth, my teacher, gave us an assignment to write a book for our age group. I have always been interested in nature and grew up reading National Geographic magazine, much like the protagonist in my story: Susan Polling. I got her name randomly from the phonebook and the other human characters are names of famous tennis players and friends of mine at the time. The animal characters in my book received their names from Swahili (the main language of Kenya) words that I felt reflected their attitudes and demeanor.  The actual story line I found in the Plain Dealer newspaper. The book took a lot of research for a fifth grader but I got an A+ on the assignment and essentially it was forgotten about until the summer of 2010. My mom was cleaning out some grade school boxes and we found my book once more. We decided to send it in to a publisher, Halo Publishing, and the rest is history.

Tips for Kids Wanting to Become a Published Author
            If you haven’t written anything yet but you want to become an author, I would suggest starting to write about anything that you find interesting. For me in particular- I’ve always found inspiration in nature and past experiences. If you get a spell of “writer’s block” make sure you relax- in most cases there isn’t a deadline and if you relax more than likely you will be able to think of something. If you already have something written that you feel has potential for becoming a published work- send it in as soon as you can! The worst thing that they can do is say no and suggest a few changes. It may make take a few tries but it is definitely worth it once you get the satisfaction of seeing your name on the cover of a book that YOU wrote.

About the author: Rachel Yurchisin’s love of science and nature has inspired her to write her first children’s book in the hopes of passing on her passion to other young ‘budding’ naturalists. Yurchisin is a junior in high school and participates in educational programs at her city zoo and natural history museum.

You can find out more about Rachel Yurchisin’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Yurchisin and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The host VS Grenier and Irene Roth chatted with Rachel Yurchisin about her book and writing on January 23, 2012. You can catch the show on demand.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Families Matter Show 01/25 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

BTR’s World of Ink Network show: Families Matter with hosts VS Grenier and Kecia Burcham.
Airs live 6pm EST - 5pm CST - 4pm MST - 3pm PST
The Families Matter show airs live once a month on the 4th Wednesday.
This months show topic is on Divorce.

We will be talking about tips for parents and children dealing with this tough life changing event. When it comes to divorce, everyone is touched by its awful power.
The idea of this show is to have guests and listeners (adults or kids) share information to help empower children and their families.
Please post any questions or stories you would like us to answer or share on the show. You are also invited to call in and join the conversation.

Listen at
The Families Matter Show 01/25 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Interview with Children's Author, Molly Nero

Please welcome Children's Author, Molly Nero to the blog today. Molly, thank you for being here.

  1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became an author.

Beginning my 18 year career teaching elementary school, I found myself in the 4th grade classroom which became my training ground for writing.  Writing rough drafts, editing and revising to model the process for my students allowed me to grow in my own abilities and desire to write.  After 5 years, I became the music teacher giving me the opportunity to work with hundreds of kids from Kindergarten to 5th grade producing grade-level musicals each year.  Stepping out of the “classroom” teacher role also enabled me to work with kids in a different way.  With the lights off, I would play “Danse Macabre” very loudly on the stereo.  My students were on the floor with their eyes closed as I narrated what was happening during the piece to help them understand and begin to appreciate the stories behind classical music.  Students began to talk about their frustrations concerning different things to me, and that has given voice to my writing.

  1. Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book.

Smarty Pig is the story of a family of pigs that have given up on school.  They don’t do their homework and feel it’s not important.  The only one who does is teased and nic named Smarty Pig.  When Smarty Pig gets good grades and the others fail, they reach out to her to help them.  She agrees but asks them to try.  She takes skills taught at school and puts them into real-life situations, ie:  the kitchen becomes a grocery store with things to be purchased with play money.  They begin to understand the learning CAN be fun, and it’s not just for school, learning is for life.

Halo Publishing saw the value in this message and has been incredibly supportive of me as I enter this new career.  Lisa Umina has worked with me through each stage of this process, making sure I knew what was going on, what was expected of me and helping me brainstorm ideas for the best way to market this book series.

The idea for Smarty Pig came from hearing students express their apathy toward school after several days of taking state tests.  During the year, it’s worksheet after worksheet preparing kids for the tests.  Then you have intense review right before it’s given.  They even have pep-rallies to try to excite the kids about taking the tests!  The kids didn’t understand why it was necessary, and the pressure was undermining all the joy of learning for them.  As the years passed, I heard this from younger and younger students.  My object in Smarty Pig is to uplift our youngest learners early in their academic life to see the value and fun in learning.

 3. What is a typical writing day like for you?

I’m up at 5:30am to start the day watching the Pink Panther with my daughter and 2 dogs snuggled up in 1 chair.  COFFEE!  Get both my kids off to school.  Check on my mother who has her own house downstairs.  Get on my treadmill to clear my thoughts listening to KLOVE radio.  Then my husband and I discuss what the day will bring, and I’m on my computer writing, building the website, emailing…  Some days I will work on only one story.  Other days my mind jumps to ideas for other books.  I’ve learned to just roll with it.  The one thing I must have is a window to look out of while I’m writing.  The endlessness of the sky reminds me that ideas are just as endless.

4. What do you enjoy most about writing?

The plot of the story developing is my favorite. My daughter is an artist, and she amazes me when she begins to paint a new picture.  It’s the same anticipation and excitement when writing a story.   You start with an idea that takes you in many different directions while you make choices along the way to help it grow.  You’re never exactly sure how it will turn out, but the process is delightful.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing?

Smarty Pig is all in rhyme which can be challenging.  I don’t want to sacrifice my message or give up a figure of speech or something that I know kids will relate to for the rhyme.  It becomes like a dance where the story and words must work together to create a message that the kids can read, understand, and really enjoy.

6. Do you make school visits or do speaking/book signing engagements? If so, please describe a typical presentation. 

I was known as “Mrs. Nero the Hero” to my Kindergarten students to help them learn my name.  This is how I continue to introduce myself to school children. Bringing in my musical theater background to the visits, I incorporate music, cheers, and a visual, relatable message of Smarty Pig to the kids that “all they learn in school, they’ll use in life.”

7. Is there any book that, when you read it, you thought, "I wish I had written that!"?

Holes by Louis Sachar.  I love it when a writer introduces numerous characters and situations and weaves them together by the end of the book.  The creative process that must take place to even begin such a story inspires me.

8. Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order? is my website and is another site to order the book right now.  After December 2011, the book will be available through all stores as Print On Demand.

9. What are you working on right now?
Smarty Pig and the Test Taking Terror is heading to the editor.  I had a smart 4th grade boy put his head down on his desk when the state test was administered.  He became so distraught; he couldn’t even write his name.  I’ve never forgotten him. This book is for those kids that shut down when they take a test. Smarty Pig models strategies for breaking down the fear and panic. 

Bullying is the next topic in this series.  Both of my children have dealt with bullying situations.  It is such a national problem and the ramifications are becoming more and more frightening.  Kids have to learn to talk about what is happening.   

10. What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

You need to edit and revise until you are certain it’s your best work.  Ask others to read it.  Be open to criticism, but don’t lose your voice.  Then you just keep trying.  You’ll find a way to get your idea out there.

11. What advice would you give children and teens as they prepare for life?

Slow down!  It’s ok to be 6 or 9 or even 13.  There are experiences at every age to enjoy and learn from, and that’s how you grow to become an adult.  It isn’t worth it to rush ahead of yourself and try to be older than you are.  Remember, there is always an answer, always a solution, and always someone who will help you.


12. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership?

Parents are a vital part of their child’s education nowadays.  Include them in every day to day activity that you can.  It will reinforce skills they are learning at school and give them a sense of value in all they know.  When you are together, stop and look at the leaves changing in the trees, listen to the crickets, talk about the colors of a sunset.  Be a role model who appreciates the little things that help make up this amazing world.

Thank you for being here and being so candid. Visit Molly on her next stop at

Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: Curious Critters

Curious Critters

Author: David FitzSimmons

Photography: David FitzSimmons

ISBN: 978-193660769-3

Wild Iris Publishing

November 2011

Back Cover:  Can Squirrels fly?
                      Why do  frogs sing?
                      How much  does a bat weigh?
                      When do crayfish grow new legs?
                      What do turtles and humans have in common?

This is a must read book for kids, especially boys. The photos of the the critters featured are fabulous and kids will be engaged with the facts about each animal along with the colorful pictures. David FitzSimmons knows how to reach the audience with this fun and interesting book filled with lizzards, frogs, toads, and even a brown bat. Wouldn't want to come face to face with that one.

He includes facts about these critters and most of them can be found pretty close to home. The praying mantises who originated from China can be found in North America. Or how about the slimy salamander. And most would recognize Mr. Opossum when they saw one.

This book would be a great addition to a school library, classroom, or your collection at home. I give this book a big high five for grabbing the reader and taking him on a journey with curious critters. for more information visit

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Diary of My Days in Kenya

Diary of My Days in Kenya

Author: Rachel Yurchisin

Illustrations: Fred Fulcher

ISBN: 978-1-935268-89-5

Halo Publishing

Synopsis: This is a fictional story loosely based on the real life occurrences of a nomadic lioness who nurtures baby oryx as if they were her own. (from the back cover)

The author has take true faccts and fictionalized a great story for children that engages the reader from the first pages. The illustrations are unique and enhance the diary of the fictional character to the point that the reader feels apart of this jouney through Kenya.

I loved the story for several reasons. First, in the animal world it is always facinating to me how they survive. This is just one story to help the reader understand nature and animal behavior. Secondly, this is written by a young author who shows great talent but also great courage in putting herself out there for the reader. And lastly, I love that her grandfather was part of the process supplying the wonderful illustrations that depict a realistic Kenya.

This young author is both talented and an inspiration to her peers. You can read more by visiting

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: Who Am I?

Who Am I?

Author: Suzanne Mulcahy

Illustrations: Patty O'Rourke

ISBN: 1-4243-0749-X

Panda Heart Publishing, INC

This is a cute picture book for children showing them some great characteristics that make them each unique. From their physical appearance to what is in each of their individual hearts this book explores the idea that each child has a spiritual purpose and a gift to offer the world.

The book cleverly explores feelings like being sad, happy, and full of love. Gifts like giving a smile to a friend or picking up toys for mom and dad to be helpful are all relayed in both the simple text and the rich photo like illustrations.

Children will have a good feeling about themselves after reading this book. It is one of those true treasures that can be read over and over again.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Tween Series Focuses on Animal Rescue
Written by Award-Winning Authors Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright
Uhrichsville, OH – Coming this March, Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright team up in the S.A.V.E. Squad series with book one, Dog Daze. This brand-new fiction for girls ages 8-to-12 introduces readers to Sunny, Aneta, Vee, and Esther—the S.A.V.E Squad—as they come together to rescue a Basset Hound and form a plan to place stray dogs in “forever homes.”
When sixth-grader Aneta Jasper is reluctantly named one of the winners of the Oakton Founders’ Day poster contest, she and three girls—with nothing in common but their differences—must pull off a successful event for the first-ever Founders’ Day. After rescuing a small Basset Hound they dub Wink, they’re inspired to plan a Founders’ Day Waddle—a fund-raising Basset Hound walk, a doggie fashion show, and a photo contest. But when the mean girls stir up trouble, it’s up to the city council to decide whether the Waddle will waddle at all.
About the Authors
Lauraine Snelling is an award-winning author with over 65 published titles including two horse series for kids. With more than 2 million books in print, Lauraine still finds time to create great stories as she travels around the country to meet readers with her husband and rescued Basset Sir Winston.
Kathleen Damp Wright teaches writing to Christian homeschoolers and can't wait to buy a student's first novel! When she's not dreaming up adventures for her characters, she's riding bikes with her husband, playing pickle ball, and trying to convince her rescued Border Collie that Mom knows best.
Find S.A.V.E. Squad Book 1: Dog Daze and its press materials online at or click on this link:
Publication Information
S.A.V.E. Squad Book 1: Dog Daze by Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Wright / March 2012 / $5.99 / 160 Pages * Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-61626-560-1
Praise for S.A.V.E. Squad Book 1: Dog Daze
“A dog lover's delight! Dog Daze is loaded with characters you will grow to love and a floppy-eared pooch you won't be able to resist. Filled with twists and turns, this fun mystery left me guessing all the way to the end. Pick up a copy of Dog Daze for a ‘bow-wowzer’ of a great time!”
-Janice Hanna Thompson, author of more than eighty books, including Kate’s Philadelphia Frenzy
Q&A with the Authors
1. Your new S.A.V.E Squad series is about four young girls who try to rescue animals. Do you share the same passion for animals as the characters in your series?
Lauraine: I have had animals all my life. We are on our third and a half Basset Hound, all from rescue. I have no idea through the years how many dogs and cats just showed up at our house and had a home, or how many we have found homes for. When you live in the country, you quickly learn that people dispose of kittens and puppies, along with the adult animals, by dumping them off on the roadside near a farm. This is indeed a sad commentary on life.
2. Did you use any of your childhood memories as inspirations for the series?
Kathleen: I've loved dogs ever since I was little. Our first and only family pet was a puppy adopted from a litter dropped off at a vet. Sandy came to us in second grade, and we had her until I was a senior in college. Those seemingly endless summer vacation came back to mind when writing Dog Daze. School memories in The Great Cat Caper. The second-grade teacher had a clawfoot "Reading Tub" filled with pillows. Us older kids were majorly jealous. The library in my small town was a large part of my life growing up. I read my way out of the children's section and across the lobby to the adult section. Good thing I graduated before I ran out of library. I can't wait to do the research for Second-Hand Horses. Maybe someone will let me ride!
3. In book one, Dog Daze, readers are introduced to all four of the main characters that will be in series. Do you have a favorite of the group?
Kathleen: I feel funny picking one. I would want all of them for friends! If I had to pick one, it's our girl, Sunny. I love her joy in life, her energy, and her easy love for people and animals. She is much like some of my homeschool writing students. Sunny's story is in Second-Hand Horses and I can't wait to see what she gets involved with!
4. Aneta Jasper is the main focus in Dog Daze. What does Aneta contribute to the S.A.V.E. Squad?
Kathleen: Quiet courage. Aneta is tested beyond what she is convinced she can handle and finds out she is more than she knows. Kids will like Aneta because there's not a person who hasn't wondered if they were doing it right.
5. In your new title, the girls all set out to find a forever home for a lost Basset Hound. Are dogs going to be the only animals rescued by the girls or will they encounter a variety of others?
Kathleen: In Book 2, The Great Cat Caper, the girls encounter dumpster cats and what the usual attitude is toward them. The girls are appalled and leap into action, of course. Book 3 is Second-Hand Horsesand isn't written yet, but the girls will. . .yup, you got it—run into horses! The fourth book is still in the brainstorming stage but will for sure be another adventure where the S.A.V.E Squad girls get bounced out of their comfort zone.
6. Is this the first time you two have written a book together?
Lauraine: Yes, but we’ve been coaching each other for years, thus helping us both become better writers and write books that are more exciting.
7. How is writing with another author different from writing solo?
Lauraine: Writing is a pretty solitary thing, but this way we bring the talents of two people together. Cheering each other on and getting excited about the story makes the writing more fun. Also, we like laughing together at the funny things our characters do.
8. What silly adventures will the S.A.V.E. Squad experience as the series continues?
Lauraine: Well, let’s see. Chasing cats that get loose in the library, and. ..oops, how would we know? We haven’t written the last two yet! But you can be sure there will be plenty.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Create a New You- With a New Job for the New Year

Most often we have articles and posts about books for children but every once in a while it is good to post something of interest to parents. In this New Year, here is a guest article about a former teacher who reinvented herself and has become an award winning author. Here is hoping 2012 is the best for all of you.

Corporate Exec-Turned-Novelist Says It’s Never Too Late says Darlene Quinn.

With 7 million Americans receiving unemployment benefits, and many counting the years – instead of months – since their layoff, author Darlene Quinn says now is a good time to reinvent yourself.

She cites James Sherk, a senior policy analyst for the Heritage Foundation, who says the jobs people held two or three years ago often simply aren’t there anymore.

"People are trying to find jobs similar to what they had previously, when those jobs completely don't exist,” he told Reuters recently. “So they will spend a good portion of their period unemployed looking for jobs that they are unlikely to find."

Quinn is a master of personal reinvention. She started her career as a teacher, then became a contractor, developing self-improvement and modeling programs for hospitals and a store. That segued into a position as a top executive at Bullocks Wilshire department store and “retirement” as a freelance journalist.

And now, the 74-year-old is an award-winning novelist. She published her third book, Webs of Fate (, this fall, continuing her series about deceit and intrigue in the high-end retail industry.

She says she was always a story-teller; she just never thought about putting her stories on paper.

“Being a victim of the short-lived educational phenomenon called sight-reading, which did not include phonics, I had always been intimidated by the written word,” she said.

“Somehow none of my teachers appreciated my creativity when it came to spelling. Therefore, my creative writing efforts were sprinkled with so many red marks, they appeared to have broken out with the measles.”

Maybe, she added, she just needed a great story to tell and a passion to tell it that was stronger than her fear.

Quinn became a schoolteacher after earning a bachelor’s at San Jose State University. Much later in life, while working as a department store executive during a time of tremendous upheaval in the retail fashion industry, she found her story. But before she tried to tell it, she first sharpened her wit and her pen by writing articles for trade journals, magazines and newspapers.

That led to her being drafted by actor Buddy Ebsen to help him with his first novel, a love story called Kelly’s Quest. Ebsen was working on a second, a mystery based on his popular TV persona detective Barnaby Jones, when he died in 2003. His widow asked Quinn to finish the book, Sizzling Cold Case, which was published in 2006.

By now, Quinn was ready for her own tale.

“I felt compelled to tell the story of our vanishing department stores,” she said. “Instead of writing a dour tell-all about the business, I decided to chronicle my experiences in one of my fictional worlds and I filled that landscape with the realistic and dynamic characters that inhabited my daily life.

“The age of computers with spell-checking software helped me get over my fear of a red-inked manuscript.”

By 2008, Quinn had finished her story of intrigue in the retail fashion business. Webs of Power won a 2009 National Indie Excellence Award the following year. Twisted Webs followed in 2010.

“One thing I’ve learned in my life is that things change,” Quinn said. “People change and, sometimes, their dreams have to change with them.

“To be releasing my third novel at age 74 is the fulfillment of a dream I never knew I had. Until now.”

About Darlene Quinn

Darlene Quinn is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif., whose novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years with Bullocks Wilshire Specialty department stores. Her newest, Webs of Fate, won the 2011 Reader's Favorites Award before it hit the bookshelves.

It provides the back story for the characters in the first two novels in the series: Webs of Power, winner of a 2009 National Indie Excellence Award, and Twisted Webs, winner of 2011 International Book Award for General Fiction and the 011 National Indie Excellence Awards for General Fiction.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book Review: Good Table Manners Made Easy

Good Table Manners Made Easy
Quick tips for all ages

Author: Maryann B. Sawka

Illustrated by: Amy Rottinger

ISBN: 13:978-1-61244-046-0

Hallo Publishing

From the Back of the book: Good Table Manners is a quick, easy-to-read resource that teaches basic table manners in a delightfully fun way.

My Review: And can I say that I love this book. It is simple but the principle of good manners is excellent and something children of all ages need to know. It covers appropriate dinner conversation as well as proper hygiene and basic good manners. Good manners include showing respect. What a fun book to share.

This book is an excellent resource and a great starting place for families to talk about respect, manners, and family values. For more information visit
Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the blog hop and giveaway.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Super Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things by Cy Tymony

Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things

Author: Cy Tymony

ISBN: 13:978-1-4494-0814-5

Publisher: Andrews-McMeel

Cy Tymony is an amazing inventor. He has used his talent and enthusiasm for science and technology to show the reader useful if sometimes quirky things to do with everyday items.

How about a sneaky light up nail or invisible nail art? Power devices for your plants, turning a penny into a battery, or learning to perform sneaky levitation... the list goes on. Fans of all ages will learn and have fun with his ideas.

I found the book very interesting, and full of ideas that older children can do with minimal assistance from an adult. The book offers ideas for science projects or as lessons that teachers can use for additional  activities to engage the student.  The book is full of ideas to spark the imagination.

Visit for more information and free projects.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interview with Rachel Yurchisin

1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became an author.

I was born in Cleveland, Ohio and I’ve lived there my whole life. I’ve gone to school in the Parma, Ohio region for both grade school and high school. I wrote my book because there was an assignment in 5th grade to write a book. It was very official (for 5th graders) with pictures and binding. Last summer I was looking through some old grade school boxes and came across this book that I made. My mother and I decided to send it to Halo Publishing and they accepted it right away- I’m very fortunate in that regard. The rest is history!

2. Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary, tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book.

My current book is entitled,“Diary of My Days in Kenya.” It is a fictional story loosely based upon the real life occurrences of a nomadic lioness who nurtures baby oryx as if they were her own young. During a drought, a naturalist, Susan Polling, and other professionals, are sent on assignment to observe and document this special pairing. The book’s spirited protagonist, Polling, offers the reader interesting insights as to why this unique phenomenon has transpired. The story explores how the traditional relationship of predator and prey is transcended, presenting a spellbinding account of how a parental bond, even a non-traditional one, can never be broken.

Halo Publishing International is a great publisher. Being a young author who does tons of extracurricular activities, such as sports and clubs, it was pretty difficult to find times to have meetings over the phone. Lisa Umina, an author and founder of Halo Publishing, is extremely understanding and helpful. Also, when it came to publicizing my book, the process was quite simple and easy to accomplish. When I write another book- I would definitely go back to Halo Publishing!

I got the idea for “Diary of My Days in Kenya” from a true story of a lioness who adopts baby oryx that was reported about in the Plain Dealer in their Saturday edition of “World Watch” column. The basis behind the book is true, the characters and the occurrences are created by me.

3. What is a typical writing day like for you?

I am quite the procrastinator so usually it would be a day that I don’t have anything else planned other than writing. There would be periods of time that I would be sitting in school and get an idea and would just have to write it down. It is great to have an epiphany but not so great to get behind in what the lesson was about in class!

4. What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love being able to express myself in the written word. If I didn’t have that outlet I don’t know what I would do. If I feel like I can’t control anything else in my life, I know that the second I pick up that pen or pencil, I have the power write out how I feel and express my feelings in a positive way.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing?

I can start writing and just keep going and going. The hardest part for me is figuring out an ending. I never want my stories or anything I write, even essays for school, to end.

6. Why do you like working with children and teens?

I wrote “Diary of My Days in Kenya” while I was in the fifth grade, so the book was written in the mind-set of that age-group. I’m only a junior in high school now, and I’m feeling like publicizing my book and having this much success already is helping me reach-out to some of my class mates that have been writing and are looking into becoming published authors themselves!

7. Do you make school visits or do speaking engagements? If so, please describe a typical presentation.

I haven’t made any school visits or anything of the like as of yet. I hope to go to my grade school where I wrote the book and publicize the book. I would like to speak to the middle grade school students who might have similar thoughts about the books that they had to write in fifth grade.

8. Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?

I don’t have a website of my own- however anyone who would like to order my book they can go to . You can also learn more about me on Halo’s website in their Authors Café.

9. What are you working on right now?

I’m working on school work and getting ready for the state competition for my tennis team at school! I hoping to audition for my school’s fall and winter plays this year as well.

10. What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Don’t be afraid to send a publisher what you wrote. Most of the time people don’t send out what they’ve wrote in fear of being rejected. It is an understandable fear; however with a few changes it will eventually be accepted. Just go for it!

11. What advice would you give children and teens as they prepare for life?

Try to find something that you enjoy; find a passion of yours and find an occupation that fits those requirements. If you accomplish that goal, you will find that you’ll never feel like you’ve worked a day in your life because you’re doing something that you love!

12. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership?

I want to thank my mom for doing everything in her power to help me succeed not only in my writing, but also in my life. To my dad for always believing in me, and saying,“ I knew you could.” To my papa who added color to my book and to my life. Finally, to the readers, I hope you enjoy the book and thanks for all your support!

Monday, January 9, 2012

BTR's Stories for Children show with Guest Author Molly Nero

Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network Show: Stories for Children with hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Christopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with debut author Molly Nero about her Smarty Pig picture book series. The first book in the series, Smarty Pig and the sequel, Smarty Pig and the Test Taking Terror releases in Spring 2012.

About the Book: Smarty Pig is about the pig family and one little pig who hasn’t given up on school and doing her homework. Although she is teased, her report card shows her hard work, while the others fail. The other pigs reach out to her and she becomes their tutor, by creating games in their home. They all realize learning can be fun and that it’s not just for school, it’s for life.

Get a sneak peek of the book at

About the author: Molly Nero loves to sing, dance and read. She spent over 18 years teaching elementary school. Reading to her own children, she was inspired to write. The second book in the Smarty Pig book series Smarty Pig and the Test Taking Terror releases in Spring 2012.

You can find out more about Molly Nero’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at

Listen to the show at the link below:
The Stories for Children show 01/09 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Review: Smarty Pig by Author Molly Nero

Halo Author: Molly Nero

Title of Book: Smarty Pig

Publisher: Halo Publishing, Int.

ISBN Number(s):978-1-61244-048-4

Genre of Book(s): Picture book

Publication Date(s): December 2011

Places where your book(s) are available for sale: for pre-publication sales; all other bookstores POD after Dec.

Author Website:

Book Trailer:

Author Bio:

Molly Nero grew up in Texas loving to sing, dance, and read. She spent over 18 years teaching elementary school. Reading to her own children, she was inspired to write. Molly Nero recently moved to Pennsylvania where she resides with her family, 2 dogs, and a leopard spotted Gecko and enjoys writing, cooking, and making snowmen.


The school year has started, but the pigs have given up and don’t do their homework, except Smarty Pig who is working hard. When the others fail, she becomes their tutor. By creating games in their home that practice skills, Smarty Pig shows them that learning is fun and not just for school, it’s for life.

My Review: Awesome is the only word I can think of  to describe this darling book for kids about school, homework, and doing what is right. The story has a great hook for kids whether it is being read aloud or being read independently. This is a story that combines fun, learning, and a life lesson all wrapped up in an engaging story. Teachers and parents will approve and children will want to read it again and again. I give this book a thumbs up.


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.