Blogging From The Heart

On July 30, I was nominated by Gina Stoneheart at her blog, Dawning on a New Day , for a “Blogging From the Heart Blog Tour”. I met Gina more than a year ago, and I am very grateful that I did. She has so much going on in her life, but yet has time (and the great personality) to be such a good friend and support to me and so many others. Gina recently finished a draft of her first novel. She is holding it close to her heart right now, but as soon as she says that I can see it, I will grab the chance. I am that excited to read her book!

Gina asked me to partake in this blog at a time when I am still struggling to get ahold of my writing again (if I ever had it in the first place!). My father died on Christmas Eve, and even though it’s been more than 7 months since he passed, this year has not been very productive for me in terms of writing or creativity. I owe some wonderful, patient authors some book reviews, and I know that I should be writing, but I feel a bit frozen and disconnected from the creative process. I am hoping that blogs like this and the kindness of wonderful people like Gina will help me get back on path to finish at least what I promised authors and to feeling more productive again.

What am I working on?
My second children’s book in the Nico and Tugger Tale series just entered production, so I have been dealing with the non-writing process of that. I have been toying with beginning to write book three, but my brain isn’t there yet. I also have been thinking of starting a novel, but I can’t figure out what I would like to write about (I guess that could be a slight problem). I know I would like it to have some humor to it, but (in my opinion) humor is very difficult to write. I would love to write something about my family, but I think that could anger a few people (if they can figure out that I am using them as references!).

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
The two main characters (Nico and Tugger) in my children’s book series each have the opportunity to tell the story from his point of view. I hope that this helps allow children to realize that there is always more than one side to a story.

One of the many reasons that I am holding back from a novel is that, well, I can’t think of anything all that novel to put on paper. I think sometimes I set myself up, though. Instead of just starting to write and shaping whatever that is into a better mess, I think it’s got to be perfect (or pretty close to it) on the first run. Sometimes I really hate being a Virgo…

Why do I write/create what I do?
There are so many answers to this, but I think the bottom line is that I love to read, which always made me want to translate that into telling my own stories. Also, my dad used to swear that I was born talking, so I guess it makes sense that I want to be a storyteller.

Specific to the Nico and Tugger Tale series, I started writing those books because I found that once I brought a second dog into my home, I was watching two children with fur. They still both vie to be the one that sits by me, they fight over toys and the dog beds, they play with each other, and they rely on each other when one is unsure of something. I felt like I was watching fur versions of my sister and me. I thought kids could relate to the dogs, and through the book readings I have done, I have found that to be true. Kids will say things like, “My sister does that to me,” or, “I don’t like when my brother touches my toys.” Of course, I also hear about their pets!

Besides writing, the next things I am looking to “create” are wood plaques. When my father passed away, he left me his wood-burning materials so that I could carry on his legacy of creating plaques for friends and family members. Every person who received one from him was touched, and I look forward to being able to carry on that tradition for him. The first time that I burn a finger, I know I will hear his voice in my head saying, “I told you that you would burn yourself. This won’t keep your hands pretty, you know.”

How does my writing/creating process work?
Even at this age, well past all my English and writing classes, my writing process is a bit all over the place. I start off with an idea, and I usually think I know how it’s going to end. I try to write (sometimes by hand) an outline, but quickly am overcome with some idea that I just have to get down on paper right then, which then triggers something else (even another idea for a different book), and it snowballs to the point that I usually don’t go back to my outline. Or if I do, I laugh at what I had there. I would like to be more disciplined, but I tend to let my characters go with the flow (kind of like how I am rambling now).

I also handwrite a lot, so I keep notebooks that are filled with my chicken scratch (the teachers of my Catholic grammar school would be so disappointed in trying to read those notes). Once I type the draft, I print it and edit it on paper. I usually do this over and over and over and over again. And then again and perhaps again. I still like to see things on paper—I find that I find more to fix that way, and I usually keep a copy in my work bag or purse, so I can pull it out at random times to reread what I wrote. I also have a few friends who are kind enough to look (and look and look) at my writing.

In addition, I interviewed the characters (my dogs, Nico and Tugger) for the second book. I found that to be an interesting tool, and I definitely would do that again.

In terms of blogging, I type everything first into Word and edit it and edit it. Then, I will paste that into my website’s template and edit it and edit it and edit it until I am satisfied. Once I hit the “publish” button, I start to think of other things I could have or should have said. Does that mean I am a writer?!

Coming up next in the tour
P.J. LaRue is married and has a Russian Blue cat named Sasha. P.J.’s favorite vacations include hiking to waterfalls. P.J. published After “I Do!” A Marriage Map this year, which she hopes will help couples have happy and successful marriages. In it, she discusses the three strikes she and her husband had against them when they married: her past as the child of an alcoholic parent; the fact that she was a child of divorced parents; and finally, that they were quite young when they married. P.J. also writes a children’s book series called The Mystic Princesses. She loves to travel and plans to take the Mystic Princesses to different locales in future books. She wants to pass the love of travel to young girls, the knowledge that they can solve their own problems, teach child safety and environmental consciousness in her books.

P.J.’s post can be found at  www.Words-With-Women.com.

Cat Michaels started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since. She earned an an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas. Cat builds on her teaching experiences to write illustrated chapter books for young readers of all abilities to develop imagination and critical thinking skills. Watercolor illustrations by Irene A. Jahns help bring the stories to life. Cat’s books, Sweet T and the North Wind and Finding Fuzzy: a You-Decide Tale of a Lost Friend, can be found on Amazon and ordered from local bookstores.

To connect with Cat, please visit her website, www.catmichaelswriter.com.

Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in the foothills of Colorado and enjoys being a stay-at-home mom. When she’s not writing an adventure, she is busy living one. Her works include the middle school series that consist of The Escape of Princess Madeline, The Battle for Princess Madeline, and Princess Madeline and the Dragon; the young adult book, Dreamscape: Saving Alex; and the short stories, The Ivory Tower and Boone’s Journey.

Her post and contact information can be found on her website, www.kirstinpulioff.com.

Are there any questions or topics you would like to see authors address on their blogs? Please weigh in and leave a comment!

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Wandy Hoh Discusses MeeGenius

Today I am excited to bring you a blog written by guest Wandy Hoh. Wandy is a founder of MeeGenius, a virtual store for enhanced children’s books. Available as a website; an application created for the Apple iPhone, iPad, or iTouch; as well as Google TV and the Google Chrome Web Store, MeeGenius offers a selection of classic children’s stories – both old and new – and enhances them with technology, with features such as word highlighting, audio playback, and personalization.

MeeGenius was formed in 2010 from what its founders saw as a need in the marketplace for a better kids’ digital book product. With a focus on the app environment, the company was one of Apple’s first apps for the iPad, launching on the same day that tablet device hit the marketplace. Since that time, the company has expanded its offerings from iOS to Android, Windows 8, Amazon, Nook, and web.

In Wandy’s Words
It’s hard to believe my oldest daughter, Sophia, is turning nine years old in less than a month. When I founded MeeGenius, she was not yet four (the same age as my youngest child today). I still remember when Sophia was prototyping MeeGenius as a little one; these days, she reads everything under the sun, from Harry Potter to Wonder! She is truly a voracious reader, easily spending multiple hours on a weekend curled up with the latest book. I literally have to force her to put her book down to go to sleep at night. And guess what? She still uses MeeGenius when she wants “storytime”!

I believe that MeeGenius helped make her the book lover she is today. By having instant access to a book anywhere and anytime, she learned that reading was a habitual treat. And today she gives credit to the strength of that habit – reading anywhere and anytime. That was my mission from day one – to turn children into book lovers, starting from the time when they can barely talk. Her younger sisters are the same way, and I couldn’t be happier. I hear the same story from other avid users of MeeGenius and it couldn’t make me more excited.

MeeGenius was created because I want children everywhere to enjoy as many books as often as possible, no matter where they are. I want them to fall in LOVE with reading. To me, a book is a book no matter how it’s presented, whether it’s printed on paper or viewed on an electronic device. When I began MeeGenius, I started thinking of “magic formulas” to get kids reading. It was clear to me that kids LOVED electronic devices – phones, tablets, laptops, computers…I have not yet encountered an electronic device that a child didn’t gravitate towards immediately. Put books on these devices they love so much, I thought, and – viola! you have a child that loves reading. Add the convenience of having hundreds of books at your fingertips, narrators with beautiful voices telling the stories, and word-highlighting – and it’s the perfect package in one little app. MeeGenius is the brainchild of a mother who wants children to love reading…and wants to make that easy for both parents and kids.

Today, what inspires me most is the consistently positive feedback I hear from teachers and parents. Research increasingly shows that children are more successful in school if they are exposed to more words via reading daily at an early age. Teachers and parents constantly tell us how MeeGenius plays a vital role in encouraging kids to develop a strong reading habit. Most importantly, they tell us just how much children love using MeeGenius. We hear that kids grow up to love reading through it, that it removes any thought of reading as a “chore”. To me, that’s the biggest win of all. That always makes my day – seeing the same love of reading that my own nine year-old has, ingrained in each and every child.

Comments
Wandy and I would love to hear how your child enjoys MeeGenius or why you would consider using it. Please post your comments below. We look forward to reading them!

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Chocolate and Books Tour

Where to begin?
When I was asked to take part in this tour that compares books to chocolate, I was thrilled that author Cat Michaels thought to include me. After it set in that I was going to participate in something so unique, panic set in. I thought, “What on earth am I going to write that doesn’t make me look like a complete idiot, especially because I prefer vanilla to chocolate?” I don’t think I came up with a good answer, but I can delay looking like a fool by thanking Cat for this invite and by telling you about her.

Cat started writing stories in fourth grade and hasn’t stopped since. She earned an an M.S. degree in special education from the University of Kansas. Cat builds on her teaching experiences to write illustrated chapter books for young readers of all abilities to develop imagination and critical thinking skills. Watercolor illustrations by Irene A. Jahns help bring the stories to life. Cat’s books, Sweet T and the North Wind and Finding Fuzzy: a You-Decide Tale of a Lost Friend, can be found on Amazon and ordered from local bookstores.

To connect with Cat, please visit her website, www.catmichaelswriter.com. I know you will enjoy learning about and connecting with Cat as much as I do.

Now, on to the books that I chose…As you read through, you may realize how random my selections are. One of my quirks (or strengths, depending on how you look at it) is how random I can be with comments and my line of thinking. It’s an art…really.

Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene:

These were my favorite books to read as an adolescent. It was difficult for anyone to tear me away from a book, but it was doubly difficult to convince me to put a Nancy Drew book down. My cousins were big on giving everyone nicknames, so I suggested that they call me “Drew”. They didn’t…

I remember the Nancy Drew series being the first books that my dad and I discussed. I would tell him how much I loved reading them and how I wish I could be like Nancy. She was smart, thought quickly on her feet, and she was a hero to many. I specifically remember talking to my dad about The Secret of the Wooden Lady. In that book, a boat called “Dream of Melissa” was mentioned. My dad had a small boat (it was slightly larger than a bathtub, but not as clean as my mom kept ours) that we would take out fishing. I tried to convince him that he should name the boat “Dream of Kimberly”. His response was that if the boat was big enough for a name, it would have been called “Piece of Shit”. Seriously, the man with whom I share DNA would have rather named his boat after excrement than his own daughter! (I am still in therapy…)

My dad passed away this past Christmas Eve, and every day I miss our conversations about everything and anything: books we read, history, sports, what the password to his router was, why Bonanza was better than Gunsmoke, why he couldn’t close out of apps on his Kindle Fire, or why you can’t trust people who live on alpaca farms, just to name a few. Because my memories are now bittersweet instead of just sweet, I am pairing the Nancy Drew series with Ghirardelli’s Bittersweet Chocolate Bar.

Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder:

I also read this series as an adolescent and have even toyed with the idea of rereading the books. I love the simplicity of the time (other than the thought of having to use an outhouse and the lack of running water and good hair products). There was such a focus on family to which I could always relate.

I grew up in a close-knit family. My mom comes from a family of seven children, and all seven children, their spouses, their children, and some friends met every Friday night at my grandparents’ house for dinner and to play games or cards, talk, have food fights, or try to get my grandmom tipsy on beer. The kids were always running and jumping on something (and getting yelled at for one thing or another, such as tipping over the recliner when someone sitting on it) or trying to learn how to play poker (we used pretzels and crackers as our chips). We didn’t have video games to play, cell phones to text each other, the Internet to browse, but we had fun simply being kids. We looked forward to seeing each other at least every Friday night or at whatever party was coming up that weekend. (We had a lot of parties. If you ever came to one, you’d understand why my entire family should be in therapy…)

For those reasons I am pairing the Little House series with a Hershey bar, simple but rich. Like the Ingalls, we didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love, and it was all the simple things that mattered to us.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

I feel as though I would be remiss not to mention a classic book here. Although the book dealt with so many topics, such as racism, gender roles, and relationships, what strikes me the most is how the character of Atticus was written. He was an upstanding citizen who clearly loved his family, but he was not overly affectionate.

In that way, Atticus was my grandpop and my dad. Both were softies on the inside, but they rarely demonstrated that. I guess my grandpop let it show when he let me put pink, sponge curlers in his comb-over. He also showed it by making a ridiculous amount of mashed potatoes at every dinner because he knew his were my favorite. My dad was not overly affectionate, but if he liked you (or loved you), you got to go fishing with him, and he didn’t throw you in the lake, even if you stood on a bucket and gave him a sermon about why he should be in church on Sunday and not fishing (and the “you” in that story was me), although he stopped taking me fishing after I caught 60 fish to his 10. (He was in therapy for years afterwards.)

Because my grandpop and dad remind me of Atticus, I will pair them with s’mores, which are hard on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside.

Unholy Matrimony by John Dillman:

This book was written about the murder of my mom’s cousin Patricia. Her husband and the minister who married them killed her on her honeymoon so that her husband could collect life insurance money. The husband pushed Patricia into the street in front of a car driven by the minister.

What struck me about this book is that the detective mentioned that my great-aunt routinely checked in on him to learn the status of the case, which detectives first ruled a hit-and-run accident. My aunt, convinced that the husband’s story did not add up, stayed on top of the detectives until they would listen to the reasons why she thought foul play was involved.

When I read this, I was much younger and didn’t give much thought to my mom and how she would feel and what she would do. Although my eyesight is getting worse as I age, I can see some things more clearly. Like my great-aunt, I am certain that my mom would fight tooth and nail to get justice for my sister and me if something like this happened. Also like my great-aunt, I know the loss of either my sister or me would tear her heart out. No amount of therapy would cure that pain.

I am pairing this with Hershey’s Hugs for two reasons. The first is because I would want my mom to be comforted by warm embraces of those who love her if God-forbid she lost either or both of us. The second reason is because I owe my mom a lot of hugs for all the years that she fought for me, whether in small ways or big ones (like when she picked a fight with my teacher over diagrams that I had done correctly but were marked incorrect…yup, I’m still in therapy).

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel:

This book is about Tita, a young girl who, because of family tradition, cannot marry the man she loves because she must remain home to be a caretaker to her family. Devastated, she puts her emotions into her food, and all who eat it take on her feelings, as well.

Tita reminds me of my grandmom. Unlike Tita, my grandmom was able to marry the man she loved, but she was a caretaker to many. She had seven children, and when my great-grandfather was too sick to stay on his farm, he moved in with my grandparents. My grandmother was also known for her cooking. On a very tight budget, she managed to feed seven children, a husband, father, and other family members and/or friends who would come by. She taught many how to make pierogi, beet soup, stuffed cabbage, and much more. Any person who met my grandmom said how much food and love she had to share with anyone who walked in her house. (If you didn’t like my grandmom, you should be in therapy.)

I am pairing this book to a Whatchamacallit because my grandmother used that term when she couldn’t think of the right word for something (and that was pretty much daily) and because I used to buy her this candy to tease her.

The Shack by Wm. Paul Young:

This is the story of Mack, a man who must deal with the kidnapping and murder of his youngest child, Missy. His wife remained strong in her faith after the ordeal, but Mack questioned why God would allow this to happen. After receiving a note from God to visit Him, Mack travels to a shack where spends the weekend there with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. There, he comes to terms better with the loss of Missy and other things in his life.

I felt very comforted by the descriptions of the weekend provided by Mack, as well as the thought that our deceased loved ones are in a beautiful place. About a year after reading this, a friend of mine passed away. Thinking of the lessons in The Shack helped me to somewhat put her passing into perspective. Perhaps I should read this now that my dad has passed. Maybe it can be some kind of therapy for me.

I paired The Shack with hot chocolate, which is comforting to me, especially on physically and emotionally cold days.

White Girl Problems by Babe Walker:

This book is simply a guilty pleasure for me because I read it without thinking of anything other than how much I want to be amused by it. I didn’t read this to learn any lesson or to ponder the meaning of life. What I especially like is that this time it’s the main character, Babe, who is in therapy (well, shopping rehab). Is Babe out-of-touch with “real” people? Yup. Is the narcissism inspiring? Someone on Amazon.com thinks it almost is. Did my friend Claudia think this was a true tale? Yup.

I am pairing this book with Twix because that is what I treat myself to when I am running errands. Unfortunately, I don’t have the means to shop in stores where I could meet Babe and thank her for entertaining me.

The tour continues…
If you enjoyed this post (and I hope that you have), please know that the tour will go. On July 12, authors K.R. Morrison and Kirstin Pulioff will give readers their pairings of books and chocolate delights.

K.R. Morrison wrote her first book, Be Not Afraid, after a nightmare she experienced would not leave her mind, even when awake. Before this book, she had not written much of anything outside of the annual Christmas letter. She also has co-authored the book Purify My Heart with Ruthie Madison, and she edits for her publishing house, Linkville Press. Book reviewing and blogging take up a lot of her time, as do quilting and garden work.

Her post can be found on her blog, krmorrison325.wordpress.com.

Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in the foothills of Colorado and enjoys being a stay-at-home mom. When she’s not writing an adventure, she is busy living one.

Her post and contact information can be found on her website, www.kirstinpulioff.com.

Past blogs
Please stop by the blogs of authors who already have participated. Those include my friend and fellow author Geena Bean’s, www.geenabean.com; the blog of author K. Lamb, http://www.authorklamb.blogspot.com; the website of C.L. Murphy, http://lovablelobo.wordpress.com; and the Facebook page of Jamie Stevens, https://www.facebook.com/PeepandFriends.

If you were part of this tour, what book would you choose and to what chocolate treat would you pair it? I look forward to your comments!

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Review of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK

Disclosure: I was given a review copy of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.

My review:
Although Little Miss HISTORY travels by land, sea, and air to reach her destinations, readers of the Little Miss HISTORY books need only to crack open one of her books to visit exciting places. In Barbara Ann Mojica’s third installation of the series, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, you will learn about trees and their importance, the men in the park for which the trees were named, geology of the land, animals that call the park their home, and a major problem that the park faces.

The description from Amazon states, “Since her last expedition to the Statue of Liberty, Little Miss HISTORY is flying across the North American continent to the recesses of Sequoia National Park, where she is skydiving into its forest! Here in the ‘land of the living giants,’ the reader will learn about the differences between redwood and sequoia trees and of its first inhabitants and wildlife. Through breathtaking illustrations, adventurers will traverse its trails and immerse themselves in the awesome beauty and magnificence of Sequoia National Park. Readers will also discover the hidden dangers lurking there.”

As with her first two books in this series, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE and Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY, Barbara gives readers a delightful book with much information about American history and environmental issues. Facts about people, places, and things are told in a clear way that will entice children’s desire to learn without confusing or boring them. As in other books, she ends asking a question. This time it’s to ask readers to think of ways to solve pollution that affects Sequoia National Park.

As I have stated before, I wish these books were out when I was in school or that Barbara was my teacher! I never had much interest in history (please don’t tell Barbara!), but I love these books. I think that they have enough information to satisfy children (and some adults) who are reading them and will make them want to learn more. My dad, who was a history buff, would have loved these books. I know he would have had these nearby to read to me as I was growing up.

Illustrations, provided once again by Barbara’s husband, Victor Ramon Mojica, are wonderful. His custom mix of drawings and photographs catch the eye and help explain the words on each page. His talent adds much strength to Barbara’s books.

Like the other books in the Little Miss HISTORY series, this book is 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches and available in paperback. This book is a bit longer than her last two at 44 pages, but is still easy for hands of all sizes to carry.

What others on Amazon.com have to say about Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK:
“Purchased this for my children after being drawn in by the illustrations, and they all loved it (even my youngest one). Little Miss History gets kids excited about traveling to different places across the country. It is tough to find a factual history book that kids will sit and listen to. This one proved to be just that (and even mommy learned several new facts). Highly recommend for kids from preschool on up to high school. 5 Stars, you will not be sorry you purchased this book!”

“What a great series of books to get children interested in history … and such a fun way to learn history!! This book starts with a bang … and is packed full of historical facts about Sequoia National Park told in a way that will entice children to become curious about finding out more. I know I am! The illustrations are fabulous! Right from the beginning, the book drew me in with “Little Miss History,” as the guide. She’s a strong (and fun) guide and spokesperson. I can see these books being presented as an animated TV series, possibly on the History Channel, or similar channel! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, which is cleverly introduced to readers on the last page of the book.”

“I have tutored children in the UK for many years and am fully aware that it is always imperative to hold the child’s attention by providing interesting stimuli around the subject. Barbara Ann Mojica delivers on all fronts with this great little book.”

“Travels continue for Barbara Ann Mojica’s Miss History. In the third installment of her delightfully entertaining and educational series, “Little Miss HISTORY Travels to Sequoia National Park.” Mrs. Mojica’s heroine, the erudite Miss HISTORY, takes the reader on an expedition to the breathtaking Sequoia National Park, as she eloquently divulges fascinating facts about the park’s history, about the people instrumental in making this park a reality, and about the fascinating characteristics of the awesome sequoia trees. Victor Ramon Mojica’s gorgeous illustrations add a joyous dimension to this lovely masterpiece.”

Where you can find Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK:
Links to purchase Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA  NATIONAL  PARK  include www.createspace.com, www.amazon.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Also, don’t forget to check out Little Miss HISTORY’s website, www.littlemissHISTORY.com, where you can find Barbara’s blog and Little Miss HISTORY merchandise.

Little Miss HISTORY next travels to Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Do you know anything about Ford’s Theater?

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An Interview with Barbara Ann Mojica

Last week, I reviewed two books in Barbara Ann Mojica’s Little Miss HISTORY series, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE and Little Miss History Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY. Today, I am honored to introduce Barbara to readers through this interview.

What inspired you to write the Little Miss HISTORY series?
I majored in History and minored in English in college. Then I entered a long career in teaching and education, which involved lots of communication and writing expertise. When I retired a few years ago, I decided that I wanted to combine my two loves of history and teaching, so I decided to become a writer focused on historical issues.

How long did it take to research and write Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE and Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY?
It took about two months to research and write a first draft for each book, then probably another month to edit each before illustration. There were minor edits after the illustration was completed.

When will the next Little Miss HISTORY book be published?
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK is scheduled to be published in May 2014.

When I was growing up, there were not many girls in my classes who were interested in history. Did you experience that when you were teaching?
No, I never really experienced a radical difference by gender. I will say that, in general, there is a correlation between children interested in reading and those interested in studying history.

Was there a reason that your main character is female?
Yes, I always loved the idea of traveling. As a young girl, my family did not have the financial resources to travel. When I became an adult, I seized the opportunity to travel whenever it was possible. Little Miss HISTORY is largely autobiographical based on a younger version of myself.

How did you decide what type of illustrations to use for the Little Miss HISTORY series?
My husband, Victor, is my illustrator. He has many years of experience working with children’s books, so I discuss the illustrations with him and listen to his suggestions. Then he does sketches and we agree on what works best. Finally, we hash out minor differences before we set up the layout for printing.

How did you get started as a writer?
I started out as a writer by researching and writing academic papers. Later, I decided to write in order to continue teaching and communicating my ideas to readers and other writers.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Good question! I really don’t have a structured plan for every day even though I am a very structured person. Not being way ahead of a deadline bothers me; I don’t like to work under pressure. During a typical day, I start by reading my mail and the blogs that I follow, checking social media and writing one of my historical articles, working on a current children’s book, reading books for my book review blog, writing reviews, or preparing interviews such as this one. My emphasis is on whatever is most pressing on my agenda at that point in time.

Are you working on any other books or do you have anything else published?
My first published work was my Master’s thesis, “Military Developments under Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great.” I published an article on the history of Forest Park in Queens, NY, several years ago. Since 2010 I write biweekly articles on history in a local news magazine, The Columbia Insider, and have contributed to other local publications. Right now my major work for children is the Little Miss HISTORY nonfiction travel series, which aims to make learning history a fun experience for both children and adults.

Children tend to say some pretty funny things. What was the funniest thing a child said to you when you were teaching or at a book reading?
There are so many! A young preschooler in my special education school did not want to get on the school bus to go home because he thought by remaining at school he could eat dinner with me. Somehow he thought that I never left the building!

Do you have any quirky habits that you would like to share with readers?
I rub my hands all over my face when I get really excited over something. I yell at the computer when it does not cooperate with me.

If you were a genie, what wish would you not grant under any circumstance?
I would refuse to grant a wish to someone if that wish would cause harm to someone else.

If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and why?
I would tour the pyramids of ancient Egypt. Always wanted to visit but right now the political situation prevents me from doing so.

How can readers contact you or connect with you?
Readers can connect with me through many social media sites. Those are (scroll over each website/title for the link): her website, www.littlemisshistory.com; her blog, http://bamauthor.wordpress.com; on Facebook; on Twitter; on Goodreads; on Linked In; on Pinterest; on Google+; her Amazon page; and via email at Barbara@littlemisshistory.com

About the author:
Award-winning author Barbara Ann Mojica is an historian and retired educator living in New York State. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in History. Barbara spent more than 40 years teaching in NYC and holds New York State teacher certifications in Elementary, Special Education, and Administration. She also spent several years as a Special Education Administrator and principal of a special education preschool for developmentally delayed children. Barbara, although retired from teaching, is staying busy: along with her forthcoming series of Little Miss History travel books she writes historical pieces for The Columbia Insider, Pat Fisher and Ed Pollack Editors, under the banner “Passages”. Marrying her love of history and teaching, Barbara hopes her Little Miss History character will inspire children to learn about historical people, and visit landmarks such as the one covered in the books reviewed here, Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty.

Barbara has so much to share. Do you have any questions for her?

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Review of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to the STATUE of LIBERTY by Barbara Ann Mojica

Disclosure: I was given a copy of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.

My review:
Did you know that the first ticker tape parade (a parade that I associate with the New York Yankees) was to celebrate the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty? Did you know that even children donated money to help fund the building of the statue’s pedestal? Did you know that the Statue of Liberty’s second engineer was Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the man who designed the Eiffel Tower? Once again, Barbara Ann Mojica has given me (and other readers) a fun look at history with her book Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY, the second in the Little Miss HISTORY series.

The back of the book states, “Since her last trip to Mount Rushmore, Little Miss HISTORY has journeyed more than 1700 miles over land, sea, and air to reach her second destination, the Statue of Liberty. This national treasure stands proudly in New York Harbor welcoming all people to the land of freedom and opportunity. In this second book of the series, Little Miss HISTORY helps you discover who thought of the Statue of Liberty in the first place, the values she symbolizes, the architects and engineers who built Lady Liberty, and the little known individuals who contributed their pennies to make her debut in New York’s harbor possible. You will learn about why she remains a promise and symbol of the hopes and aspirations of many people around the world and not just immigrants coming to America.” Just like with Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE, Barbara delivers all that she promises in Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY!

Facts about the Statue of Liberty are mixed in with information of the state of the United States at the time of her building and journey to America. The book is engaging and informative without being overwhelming in just the right mixture to get kids of all ages (and adults, too) interested in reading this book and series. Although it is part of a series, you don’t need to read the books in order, which is a nice feature. The Little Miss HISTORY series should be on the shelves of every home, public, and school library!

The illustrations, provided again by Barbara’s husband, Victor Ramon Mojica, are a great mix of drawing and photos to help tell the story of the Statue of Liberty from inception in France to its completion in New York. If you’ve ever been to the Statue of Liberty, the illustrations and text highlight what you have seen. If you haven’t, they make you feel like you are there.

Like Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE, which was reviewed a few days ago here, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY is 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches and is available in paperback. This installment is a bit longer at 40 pages, but this doesn’t change the weight in any noticeable way, making this another book easy for small hands to hold and to fit in diaper and school bags to carry with ease.

What other people on Amazon.com are saying about Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY:
“Once again, Ms. Mojica has produced a bona fide winner. The only good descriptive I can come up with for this book is ‘amazing’. And I don’t mean the over-used meaning of the word. I was totally blown away by what I didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty. This story is not just for kids. The one who reads the book and the one who hears the narrative will both benefit from the telling.”

“My favorite subject in school was History so I am trying to instill that love in my daughter. This book is not only informational, but it’s a fun way to introduce kids to History. The pictures, both drawn and photographs, add a nice element to the book and make it enjoyable to read for the kids (and the parents). This is a great way to prepare a family for a trip to the Statue of Liberty or even for a field trip there. Our family is looking forward to the next book in this series.”

“Well, Barbara Ann Mojica has done it again! This is a well-illustrated factual book. It also has a number of real pictures that are relevant to the story. The timeline takes you from the idea of the statue in 1865, right through its development to when it was designated a National Monument in 1924. What I love about this story is that it can be a great asset to children who plan to visit the Statue of Liberty, but it also offers valuable information in its own right. It is an engaging read and gives an interesting insight into a fascinating piece of history.”

Where you can find Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY:
Little Miss History Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY is available at websites including CreateSpace’s, Amazon’s, and Barnes and Noble’s, as well as at local bookstores. Here are a few links to purchase the book: www.createspace.com,  www.amazon.com, and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Also, don’t forget to check out Little Miss HISTORY’s website: www.littlemissHISTORY.com, where you can find Barbara’s blog and Little Miss HISTORY merchandise.

Next, Little Miss HISTORY travels to Sequoia National Park. To what other places would you like to see Little Miss HISTORY travel?

Also, please remember to stop back again soon to read an interview with Barbara!

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Review of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE by Barbara Ann Mojica

Disclosure: I was given a copy of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.

My review
Do you know how tall the carvings at Mount Rushmore are? Do you know how much it cost to create this national memorial? Do you know the history of Native Americans and Mount Rushmore? If you read Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE by Barbara Ann Mojica, you and your child can learn this…and much more!

As per the back of the book, “Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE is the first in a series of books using the Little Miss History character as a guide. She looks like a wannabe park ranger with pig tails and hiking boots three sizes too big. With her, as your child’s guide, learning about people and places of historical importance will be fun and educational. The aim of these books is to whet your child’s appetite to learn more about history and perhaps even visit these landmarks with you. Little Miss History presents information in a whimsical and factual way while amusing your child.” I found this description to be so true!

I will be honest…history was never my strong suit when I was a student (and even now). How I wish my school had books such as Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE to teach us during history class! This book is informative as well as entertaining, and it allows you to have discussions with children about the subject matter. (Books that can get you and a child to speak about something are winners in our house.) It is written in a way that children will want to learn about Mount Rushmore without being bored.

Not only is the story interesting, but the illustrations were great as well, as they help tell the story of the creation of Mount Rushmore. The illustrations were done by Barbara’s husband, Victor Ramon Mojica, whose children’s book Captain Crossbones in The Treasure Hunt will be reviewed here soon. Not only was it a family affair to create the book, the entire book is family-friendly.

I look forward to this series and seeing all the places that Little Miss History will go, and so will children of all ages. (Her next stop is The Statue of Liberty. The review of Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The STATUE of LIBERTY will be available on my blog tomorrow, followed by an interview with Barbara.)

Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE is 8.5 inches by 8.5 inches and contains 36 pages, making it easy for a child to bring to school for Show and Tell or just to show friends and teachers!

What others on Amazon.com have to say about Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE:
“In Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE author Barbara Ann Mojica overcomes the obstacle by ‘enlisting’ the services of an intriguing character to teach children about America’s past. The adventurous Little Miss History delivers a history lesson permeated with fascinating details, which, along with the great illustrations, will no doubt appeal to young readers and captivate their imagination.”

“I was always fascinated by children’s books that help children to develop a knowledge of American history. Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE is written in a very creative way by historian Barbara A. Mojica. The author wisely introduces children to the historical facts, value, and meaning of American historical landmarks. Easy to follow, this delightful children’s book captured my attention from the first page. Informative, uplifting, and amusing, Little Miss History took me for a wonderful trip to Mount Rushmore, where she introduced me to a piece of American history.”

“The detailed illustrations allow Little Miss History to take kids to Mount Rushmore, and the writing style of the book gives factual information in a way they will understand. As an educator, I know that hands on learning is best. ‘Traveling to Mount Rushmore’ in this book is a great way for kids to learn all about the historical landmark. As I mom, I can tell you that my kids (both in the classroom and at home) will love this book. Highly recommend! Cant wait for the next book in the series to come out.”

Where you can find Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE:
Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE is available at websites including CreateSpace’s, Amazon’s, and Barnes and Noble’s, as well as at local bookstores. Here are a few links to purchase the book: www.createspace.com, www.amazon.com , and www.barnesandnoble.com.

Also, don’t forget to check out Little Miss HISTORY’s website: www.littlemissHISTORY.com, where you can find Barbara’s blog and Little Miss HISTORY merchandise.

Reading this book makes me want to visit Mount Rushmore. Have you ever visited this national memorial?

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Blogiversary Bash

As part of the Blogiversary Bash for unschoolingmomma.com, below is a chance to win a copy of my children’s book, Oh Brother!: A Nico and Tugger Tale, and bookmark and other prizes from other authors and companies. The deadline for entry is December 4.

Below is the total list of prizes in the Ultimate Unschooling Prize Pack worth hundreds of dollars that one lucky reader will get. (Scroll over the name of the company, product, or author to be linked to their corresponding websites. Most prizes have a website linked to them.)

1. $25 Gift Card to Build A Bear Workshop

2. $25 Gift Card to Educents

3. Pencil Sharpener from Clasroom Friendly Supplies

4. Copy of children’s book Come Back Dear Sun by Geena Bean

5. The Gift of Love DVD

6. Small or Medium Picture Puzzle from Piczzle

7. December Planning Pack for Children

8. Phonics Bingo Pack

9. One Month Ad Space on The Squishable Baby

10. Audiobook Mr. and Miss Anonymous by Fern Michaels

11. Santa Letter by santawillwrite.com

12. Printable Handwriting Worksheet

13. One Premium Minecraft Account from Minecraft.net (for life)

14. One Month of VIP Jedi Master Access at Skrafty Homeschool Minecraft Server

15. One Month of Skrafty Minecraft Chore Rewards

16. $16 or under Item at Lila Rose (NEW Customer Only)

17. My children’s Book, Oh Brother: A Nico and Tugger Tale , and Bookmark

18. Children’s ebook The Escape of Princess Madeline by Kirstin Pulioff

19. Children’s ebook The Battle of Princess Madeline by Kirstin Pulioff

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to stop by unschoolingmomma.com. While you’re visiting her page, don’t forget to sign up for her weekly newsletter!

Good luck!

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An Interview With Arnold Rudnick

Yesterday I gave you a review of Arnold Rudnick’s Little Green. Today I am honored to introduce Arnold to readers through a recent interview.

What inspired you to write Little Green?
I used to tell my daughter bedtime stories, and Little Green began as one of those stories. I had written for film and television, and just finished a middle-grade book (ESPete: Sixth Grade Sense) and wanted to write a book I could share with younger elementary students, too.

How long did it take to write Little Green?
Since Little Green began as a bedtime story, it’s hard to say exactly. It was a few years since I first told the story that I decided to write it as a picture book, and so it went really fast. After reviewing the draft with some colleagues, I decided to write it in verse, which took several months. I had worked with a wonderful illustrator before (Marcelo Gorenman) and wanted him to do the artwork. Coordinating our schedules, and going through many character drafts and revisions, the final verse and pictures took about year.

If you could go back and change anything about Little Green, would you? If so, what would it be?
I always see things to change in everything I write, but I realize that you have to let things go at some point. I would love to write more chapters of Little Green’s quest, though, where he would visit other animals, and learn more animal groups, traits, and skills.

Do you have any other works published?
Yes, I wrote for film and television for many years before deciding to write a kid’s book (influenced by the school book fairs!). My first book was ESPete: Sixth Grade Sense, which won a Moonbeam Award.

How do you balance working and life with writing and promoting your work?
I finished my first book when I began training in martial arts. The lessons in mind-body-spirit are really helpful in creating balance, but also working toward goals. I hesitated training, because I didn’t think I had enough time, but found more time because of it. I find the same energy with writing. When I don’t write a lot, it’s hard to write, but when I write – letters, e-mails, stories, etc. – it is easier to write more. Of course, there’s only so many hours in a day. I would love more time to promote Little Green, but I make goals and checklists and try to get at least one thing accomplished each day or week. Sometimes it’s hard to choose between promoting my work and starting or finishing another project, but then I think about Little Green, who inspires me. When I am not sure I can get something done, I ask: “Isn’t it possible?” and I figure out a way to accomplish my next goal.

How did you get started as a writer?
Reading. And watching television! When I was growing up, there were no DVRs or on-demand. Only in my later childhood was there even video (first Sony Betamax!). When we had to go somewhere, I would get upset that I had to miss the end of a tv show. But then, I realized, I could decide how the show ended – of course, my version may not be the same as what everyone else watched, but I liked deciding how stories ended. With a lot of movies and tv shows, I still occasionally decide on different endings.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Depends on the day. That’s my answer when people ask me what I do, since I have a full-time job and two kids, although they are older now and really independent. I don’t think I have a typical day. And I hope I never do.

Are you working on any other books?
Always.

Do you have any quirky habits that you would like to share with readers?
I’m sure I do, but since they’re mine, I probably don’t see them as quirky.

If a movie is made about your life, who would play you?
Tom Hanks.

If you were stuck on an island, what five people would you want to be there with?
My wife and kids – I don’t want them stuck, mind you, but I’m considering who I would want to be with. As long as we’re together, I would be home. That leaves two other people. I’d let my kids each bring a friend. :)

If you see a spider inside your house, do you take it outside?
Only if its mother approves.

How can readers contact you or connect with you?
Visit my websites, isntitpossible.com or espete.com, or e-mail arnold@espete.com.

About the Author:
Arnold Rudnick studied film and accounting at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, then moved to Los Angeles, where he worked in feature development at Paramount Pictures and Gary Lucchesi Productions. Arnold has written for many television shows, including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Star Trek: Voyager, and The New Addams Family.

His first book, ESPete: Sixth Grade Sense, won a silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards (2009) and Reader’s Favorite Awards (2010) and was a pick in Danny Brassell’s Lazy Readers Book Club (September 2012).
Little Green is Arnold’s first picture book. In addition to writing, Arnold works in school administration. He and his wife and children live in Los Angeles.

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Review of Little Green by Arnold Rudnick

Disclosure: I was given a copy of Little Green for an honest review. All opinions expressed are mine.

My review
How do you speak to your children about accepting who they are and who others are? Arnold Rudnick’s book, Little Green, can be one tool that you use for discussions such as these.

Little Green, written by Arnold and illustrated by Marcelo Gorenman, is the story of a frog (Little Green) who wants to be special. He goes on a journey where he tries to fly like a goose, run like a horse, and swim like a koi, only to be told that it is not possible for him to do any of those things. Feeling rejected, he returns home to be taught a valuable lesson: he has to be himself first before he can realize his potential to be special.

I think this is an adorable book for children of many ages: those who cannot read but like to be read to, those who are learning to read/are reading, and those who could use reassurance that it is OK for them to be who they are. Little Green shows children that it is OK to accept each other, even if someone does not look like them or act like them, and that they can be accepted if they feel as if they are different from others.

The text is in rhyme, having a lovely cadence when read aloud. The illustrations are wonderful and vivid, and will hold a child’s attention. They also really help set the stage for the story, and the expressions of the characters convey what is happening on each page. Although many children will enjoy all aspects of this book, the author’s website, www.espete.com, indicates that the book is targeted for children ages 2 through 8.

The paperback book is 6 inches by 9 inches, so it’s easy to throw in a diaper bag or purse, and it consists of 26 pages of text, so it’s easy to carry with you and for little hands to hold. Little Green also is available electronic format.

 

What others on amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com have to say about Little Green:
Little Green is a very cute story for young children. It is just the right length to keep them interested from beginning to end. The moral of the story is a good lesson for any child to learn. The illustrations are simple and not overdone, and the story has a nice flow. My 4 year old daughter loves “reading” Little Green all by herself. I recommend this book for ages 2 to 5.”

“The illustrations are amazing and the message is important and timeless. I have given this book as a gift many times and will continue doing so. Everyone (kids and adult) love the read.”

“This one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a while. Dr. Seuss is smiling down…Can’t wait to see his (Arnold Rudnick’s) next book!”

“This is a terrific book to read with your kids at bedtime or anytime for that matter. The story is relatable for young (under 7) but it also carries a message in which we adults can empathize.”

Where you can find Little Green:
Little Green can be found at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and at Arnold’s website, www.espete.com.

Please come back tomorrow to read an interview with Arnold, and, as always, please feel free to leave a comment to this post. Any comments will be shared with Arnold.

 

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