National Family Fun Day: A WONDERFUL DAY by Michael Samulak Plus GIVEAWAY

Did you know that almost every day is a national holiday of sorts?

It’s true! Yesterday was Mutt Day. And tomorrow is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day…and also National Beer Day…I guess you can take your pick, depending on what you love the most.

But the entire month of August is NATIONAL FAMILY FUN MONTH. Which is perfect for residents of the Northeast, where I live. The temps rise and the sun shines and it is wonderful to get out and do things, especially if you have young children. Today I’m sharing a lovely book from a dear writer friend of mine that is all about spending time with family and having fun. He was kind enough to send me two books…one for me and one for…a giveaway! Please leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win!

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A WONDERFUL DAY

Written by Michael Samulak

Illustrated by Louise Pulvera

Published by: Pen It (2019)

Ages: 3-7

Themes: Zoo animals, family togetherness, diversity

Synopsis: A child wakes and discovers that today the family is taking a trip to the zoo. Page by page, we travel alongside, seeing all the animals and also, all of the other zoo visitors. And when the day ends, the last page turn provides a sweet closure, as the tired child is tucked into bed.

What I love about this book:

  • It’s an easy reader – so an older child would be able to read it to a younger sibling.
  • Colorful illustrations harken back to a kinder gentler time
  • Diverse families populate the story

RELATED ACTIVITIES

20-paper-bag-animal-crafts-8-1Photo courtesy: https://iheartcraftythings.com

PAPER BAG ANIMAL PUPPETS

I’m a big fan of paper bags as a craft supply to keep on hand when you have little ones. They are inexpensive, safe, and oh so versatile.

For detailed instructions: https://iheartcraftythings.com/20-paper-bag-animal-crafts-for-kids.html

Here’s a mini bio about Michael:

Mr. Samulak obtained his bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Michigan State University (’96) and finished his master’s in Reading Curriculum and Instruction at Cleveland State University (’12). He’s been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for almost 20 years.

Michael uses his formal education, experiences, world travels and life’s adventures to write award-winning children’s picture books.
The author currently resides in the city of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and five children.

Michael is also the author of two other books: A IS FOR AFRICA, illustrated by Sswaga Sendiba. Plus there is a companion coloring book that contains the same text, but the illustrations aren’t colored in, so children can use their own imaginations to create fantastical creatures.

To find out more about Michael and his books: http://www.michaelsamulak.com/

Thank you for stopping by, my friends. The selection process for the #PBChat Mentorship organized by Justin Colon has ended…but the mentorship itself is just beginning. I received over 100 amazing applications and manuscripts…writers poured their hearts onto the pages…and for the past two weeks, I have been struggling, not only to read them all (100 manuscripts is a lot of manuscripts!), but also to choose the ONE person I thought could benefit most from my help. Oh my, if only I was able to clone myself!

In the end, just under the wire, I did choose…Helen Ishmurzin. I am so excited to work with her over the next three months. And she speaks five languages….so I know that I will be learning a lot from her.

I also have been making plans for my trip to Colorado in August. And guess what? The day I am in Denver, I will be doing a book event at 10:30am on August 23rd at Second Star to the Right, an awesome bookstore on S.Pearl Street. Huge thanks go to our very own Laura Roettiger, author of the fabulous ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON, who was a major player in arranging this…I owe you big time, Laura!!! I’m hoping that lots of Colorado friends will be able to come…what better place for kidlit folk to meet than at a children’s bookstore, right? And maybe after the event, we can walk up S.Pearl Street and find a little cafe to sit and chat before I have to head off to meet up with my family and fly back home.

photo of store

And before I let you go, last night on Facebook I announced the winner of Laura Roettiger’s wonderful book. Congratulations, Ellen Leventhal…you will be receiving a copy of ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON, thanks to dear Laura.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend – stay safe and stay cool! Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of Michael’s book!

Sneak Preview of a Fabulous Book!

Hey dear friends…I just had to share Cathy Ogren’s review of the upcoming Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe book that she posted on her blog. I hope you’ll hop over to her website to say hello and leave a comment.

Humor Me

ella and marilynI had the opportunity to read Vivian Kirkfield’s upcoming nonfiction book, Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. With a lyrical quality to her writing, Vivian Kirkfield has written a beautiful story of friendship between two iconic personalities, Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe. They were different in many ways, but they both had the same hopes and dreams. The author piques curiosity by giving readers a bit of background information about each woman. Ella Fitzgerald wanted to share her music with the world, and Marilyn Monroe hoped to become a great actress. How did these two women forge a life-long friendship? When Marilyn was offered a role in a musical, the first thing she did was to buy her idol’s records to listen to and study. Those records were Ella Fitzgerald’s. Marilyn’s performance in the movie was hailed by critics. This gave Marilyn a…

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When a Dream Becomes a Reality PLUS Giveaway: H IS FOR HAIKU

A couple of years ago, I connected with a writer who had a dream. Her mother had written wonderful poetry…Haiku…and she wanted to see it published as a book. 

Amy Losak never gave up. That book she hoped for is now a reality! And I’m thrilled to share a bit about the book and the wonderful woman who wrote those amazing words.

H IS FOR HAIKU BOOK COVER PENNY CANDY BOOKS March 2018

H IS FOR HAIKU

Written by Sydell Rosenberg

Illustrated by Sawsan Chalabi

Published by Penny Candy (April 2018)

Ages:  5-11

Themes: Haiku, poetry, everyday happenings

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

“In H Is For Haiku: A Treasury of Haiku from A to Z, the late poet Sydell Rosenberg, a charter member of the Haiku Society of America and a New York City public school teacher, and illustrator Sawsan Chalabi offer an A-Z compendium of haiku that brings out the fun and poetry in everyday moments.”

But this short synopsis doesn’t begin to reveal the amazing personality that was Sydell Rosenberg. I was lucky enough to chat with Amy, and she shared a bit more about her wonderful mom.

AMY: 

Syd was a charter member of a vibrant organization that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary: the Haiku Society of America. Mom was among a group of gifted women who, decades ago, contributed to – and I think helped shape — English-language haiku and related forms, such as senryu. She studied, practiced, and wrote these forms for decades, and her work was widely anthologized. Mom “knew her haiku,” but she kept learning over the years, too.

Syd’s haiku – some poems were first published in journals and other outlets decades ago — have a universal, timeless appeal. Haiku are brief; they impel readers to slow down and linger over something they may ordinarily overlook. As I say in my introduction, haiku help make so-called “small moments” in our daily lives big. Haiku is a way to enter with awareness and appreciation into the world around us. I hope both children and the adults in their lives will relate to these evocative “word-pictures,” which capture both nature and human nature in “nuggets.”

ME: Oh my gosh…yes…word pictures.  When I saw the illustrations accompanying Syd’s Haiku, I was struck by the thought that these are so perfect for today’s electronic-savvy kids…they are used to sound-bytes and split second pictures flashing by them. Haiku is the perfect vehicle to introduce them to a love of words and poetry.

AMY:

Syd also was a teacher in New York, as well as a writer (prose such as short stories, and a pulp novel published in the 1950s; word and literary puzzles, more) and poet. She died in 1996, and decades later, I fulfilled her goal of professionally publishing some of her poems as a children’s book. Over time, her dream become mine — ours.

ME: So, right away there was a connection for me because I also taught in the NYC school system and then, when Amy and I spoke, I discovered anothere coincidence… her mom and I both graduated from Brooklyn College…Syd was a couple of years before me. In honor of our connection, I’m going to send a copy of H is for Haiku to one of my blog followers…please leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway.

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AMY:

Among other venues, Syd’s simple but striking poems have been used by Arts For All (arts-for-all.org), a NYC nonprofit arts education group, in two city elementary schools to help teach the basics of collage, drawing and painting; music; and theater. The teaching artists incorporated these visual poems into their lesson plans and used them as teaching tools. The students, mostly second-graders, also wrote their own haiku.

ME: EXACTLY! That’s what I thought as soon as I saw this book! I think every elementary school should have this book on the shelf and use it as a teaching tool.

And here are a few more thoughts from Amy:

  • Syd’s commitment to the craft of this lovely poetic form, haiku (“haiku” is both singular and plural) — which captures what I call “nature in nuggets,” as well as amusing facets of human nature (that is, senryu – also both singular and plural) –- spanned several decades. Some of her work for adults was published years ago, in journals, magazines, newspapers, etc.; and in influential books, including the Haiku Anthology and Haiku Handbook. One of her senryu also was featured in an unusual 1994 public art project, Haiku on 42nd Street, in which the marquees of abandoned movie theaters in the Times Square area were transformed into “frames” for the display of micropoetry.
  • A school teacher (i.e., English, literacy, and also adult ESL), I think Syd wrote a number of her compact yet evocative poems with children in mind.
  • As for myself, I tend to view haiku as poetic mindfulness. By its very brevity, the form encourages us to slow down, linger, and pay attention with all our senses to “small,” “everyday” moments. 
  • I think that just about any observation or impression can spark a haiku.
  • Haiku is also a kind of “eco-literacy”: a way, through “word-pictures,” to cultivate an appreciation for our surroundings. 
  • I have heard and read haiku described as “one-breath poetry.”

WOW! Thank you so much, Amy. I know everyone is applauding both your mother who wrote these amazing haiku and you who persevered and followed your dream of seeing her work published. 

And, dear friends, don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this wonderful book.

Have a wonderful week. I’ll be flying to see family in Chicago on Thursday…but I’ve already scheduled the Friday and Saturday posts when the fabulous Chris Mihaly and her awesome book, HEY, HEY, HAY! will be in the PPBF and WWFC spotlight.

Happy Book Birthday: NO FROGS IN SCHOOL Plus GIVEAWAYS

Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, dear NO FROGS IN SCHOOL Happy Birthday to you!

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NO FROGS IN SCHOOL

Written by Alexandria LaFaye

Illustrated by Egalitine Ceulemans

Published by Sterling Children’s Books (August 7, 2018)

Ages: 4-7

Themes: Pets, humor, working together

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

“Bartholomew Botts loves pets—but his teacher, Mr. Patanoose, says No Frogs in School! So what will happen when Bartholomew’s beloved creatures meet up with Mr. Patanoose’s rules? Lots of FUN!
 
Hoppy pets, hairy pets, scaly pets: Bartholomew Botts loves them all. And he doesn’t want to go to school without one. Unfortunately, when Bartholomew brings his brand-new frog to class, his teacher, Mr. Patanoose, declares: No frogs in school! How will Bartholomew keep his animal friends close at hand . . . and follow Mr. Patanoose’s rules, too? Illustrated with energetic and humorous artwork, this back-to-school story will be a favorite with every animal-loving kid!”

As a former kindergarten teacher, I love school stories…and this one is hilarious! The art work is so engaging and the text is filled with humor and will have every teacher and parent nodding their heads and kids will be rolling on the floor as Mr. Patanoose tries to restore order to his classroom.

The author, Alexandria LaFaye, is one of my Storm teammates…so I am doubly excited to help her celebrate her book’s launch. And because it is a book birthday, we need to have presents, right?

Alexandria’s publisher sent me a copy of NO FROGS IN SCHOOL and one lucky person is going to receive that as my book birthday gift. Just leave a comment on this blog post to be entered.

Plus there is chance to win another book birthday gift that is for K-2 teachers. Imagine a teacher starting the school year with THIRTY new books! WOW! Alexandria is hosting this giveaway on her Facebook page. She says:

Please help me spread the word about this book giveaway to help K-2 teachers building-expand their inclusive classroom libraries. Thanks.

It’s time for a great giveaway of 31 books for a K-2 classroom, including a signed copy of NO FROGS IN SCHOOL by A. LaFaye Kirkus says, “each page lends itself to an energetic seek-and-find storytime that promises new discoveries upon multiple reads.” See the rules in the comments below or visit Sylanocity and check out the pinned post athttps://bit.ly/2vs8fuq. I’ll be reviewing books from the giveaway each day in August. The contest runs Aug 1-30th. #kidlit #bookgiveaway#NoFrogs #TeachersRule #Diversity #Equity Sterling Publishing

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So dear friends, please share this if you know any teachers or school librarians…and don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for NO FROGS IN SCHOOL And please remember that the best present you can give to your favorite author is to:
  • Buy a copy of their book
  • Ask your local library to purchase a copy for their collection
  • Tell your friends about the book
  • Post a review on Amazon or other review sites

I hope you enjoy the rest of your week. And stop by on Friday and Saturday when a dear writer friend of mine, Emilie Boon, will be in the house.

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Edmund Pickle Chin and A Few Words To Honor Clara Bowman-Jahn


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Some of you in the kid lit community may have heard the sad news of the passing of Clara Bowman-Jahn. Clara was one of the first people who welcomed me into this picture book writing world. She was a bright light of kindness and was always looking for ways to help others.

Since today is Perfect Picture Book Friday, I am reblogging a portion of a post I did back in 2014 when her second picture book launched.

 

Edmund Pickle Chin – A Donkey Rescue Story

Written by Clara Bowman-Jahn and Susan April Elwood

Illustrated by Lynne Bendoly

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing (April 2014)

Ages: 4 and up

Themes:Animal rescue, animal abuse

Synopsis: From eTreasures

Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story is based on a true story. Edmund, the main character, is an abused donkey who is the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm, a small rescue in central Georgia, home. Susan, Edmund’s care giver in the story, not only gives the shy donkey the time and patience he needs but gives him a new name every day of the week. The title takes on one of those nicknames she so lovingly calls him. As Susan starts to take in new critters, Edmund finds himself changing. As his name grows, so does his trust and acceptance. Edmund soon learns that he is not only needed but wanted. This confused, frightened donkey’s life changes as he becomes a hero, a babysitter, and a companion to the other residents at Evermay Farm.”

 

Why I like this book:

  • Beautiful illustrations
  • Wonderful introduction for young children to the need to care for and be kind to animals
  • Helps children understand that everyone feels strange in a new place…but we get more comfortable as time passes
  • Based on a true story
  • When you can make a non-fiction book appealing to children, you have a winner!

How a parent can use this book:

  • Talk about how people need to be responsible pet owners – what do animals need?
  • How do different animals help us? How should work animals be treated?
  • Visit a local animal shelter
  • Older children can take part in a fundraiser for a local animal shelter

 

Related Activities:

paper-plate-donkey

PAPER PLATE DONKEY

If you visit my blog often, you’ll know that I love to use paper plates as the base material in crafts for young children.

You will need: 1 paper plate, construction paper, scissors, glue, markers or crayons.

  1. Color the plate gray or brown (depending on the crayon colors available or if desired, your child can paint it).
  2. Cut out the eyes, nose, hair, teeth and ears from construction paper and glue in place.
  3. Use the paper plate as a mask or puppet to role play parts of the story.

For more donkey crafts go here: http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/donkeys.html

 

Clara Bowman-Jahn is one of the talented authors of Edmund Pickle Chin.

Clara Bowman-Jahn author photo(1)

Clara Bowman-Jahn worked as a registered nurse for thirty two years finally trading that job for her true love, writing. Clara’s short stories have been published in three anthologies, Campaigner Challenges 2011The ‘I’ Word and Charms Vol. 2. She is also the author of Annie’s Special Day, a children’s picture book. Her second picture book is a true story, Edmund Pickle Chin, a Donkey Rescue Story.

When Clara is not writing, she volunteers by teaching ESOL to adult students. She also likes Pilates, blogging, reading books and taking long walks with her husband. She is a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Picture Book Challenge, Susanna Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic, Pennwriters, Bethesda Writer’s Center and Round Hill Writer’s Group. She lives in rural Loudoun County, Virginia with her brilliant husband, and two cats. She is the proud mother of two wonderful grown sons and a grandmother to a delightful grandson.

 

Susan April Elwood is the other talented author of Edmund Pickle Chin.

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Susan April Elwood has worked with children for over twenty years in Northern Virginia as a preschool teacher, kindergarten assistant, and a library assistant. With her passion for animals it made perfect sense to combine the two and write an animal story for children, teaming up with author Clara Bowman-Jahn.

Susan and her husband Tom moved from Northern Virginia in 2007 to central Georgia where they founded Evermay Farm, a non-profit rescue for farm animals. This is the setting for the book titled, Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story. The story is based on Edmund, a donkey, the first of many animals to call Evermay Farm home. Susan and her husband Tom have two treasured sons, a wonderful daughter-in-law and a precious grandson. In her free time, Susan enjoys photographing animals and antiquing.

 

To read more awesome picture book reviews, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday.

Thank you, dear friends, for spending your precious time here. I hope you will stop by tomorrow as I continue remembering Clara on Will Write for Cookies with a post she did for me several years ago on GOALS.

 

 

Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE MANIC PANIC Plus Giveaway

Hello dear friends. I hope I am not confusing everyone in the middle of the #50PreciousWordsforKids Writing Challenge by posting a review for Perfect Picture Book Friday. But when I found out about this story, I knew it was one I had to share with all of you!

Picture this: you walk into a restaurant and notice a family already seated. Mother. Father. And a couple of kids. But something is odd. They are not talking with each other. Oh no. Each one is holding an electronic device. Tablet. iPhone. Video game player. 

I’ve seen this scenario many times. Have you? Believe me, as a parent of three children, I do understand the desire to have a peaceful meal. We used to bring crayons and paper…some restaurants even provided these supplies. I’m not sure if they do that now…maybe they just supply WiFi because they assume that even the youngest kids will be connecting electronically.

And yes…I agree…our kids need to be tech savvy…but screen-time is addictive and with this comes the inevitable disconnect with real people. And that is too, too sad. So, when I read Richa Jha’s fabulous THE MANIC PANIC, I realized she had found a way to put a humorous spin on this and perhaps, help everyone put down their devices and reconnect with life. PLUS…thanks to the generosity of Richa and Creston Books, we have a GIVEAWAY! Please leave a comment to be entered.

manic panic

MANIC PANIC

Written by Richa Jha 

Illustrated by Mithila Anath

Published by Creston Books (2018)

Ages: 5-8

Themes: Family interaction, limiting screen time

Synopsis: From Amazon: 

Some grown-ups have so much screen time that they just can’t cope when the wifi goes out. Luckily the grown-ups in Manic Panic live with a smart kid who loves to read and an adventurous grandma who knows how to have fun without the internet. Manic Panic is a wry look at the value of unplugged family time, even when someone is resistant to the real world. The illustrations add depth to the story, helping us to see all the small things we can miss when we’re glued to our phones.

Why I like this book:

  • Hilarious text that just about every modern parent and child will be able to relate to as the parents and child in the story switch roles.
  • Great illustrations that really help show the child’s frustration with her WiFi addicted parents. 
  • This is the perfect story to start a discussion on the importance of limiting screen time and increasing together time.

RELATED ACTIVITIES

  1. Visit CAMPAIGN FOR A COMMERICAL-FREE CHILDHOOD: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/blog/who-needs-screens-70-ideas-family-fun
  2. Make a list of things your family can do instead of screentime and then do them!
  3. Set screen-time rules and stick to them.

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway of a copy of MANIC PANIC thanks to author Richa Jha and her publisher, Creston Books! And remember that there are several things we can all do to help our favorite authors:

1. If we can, buy a copy of their books.

2. Write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book reveiw sites.

3. Ask our local library to purchase a copy for their collection.

4. Tell friends about the book.

There is still time to send in stories for #50PreciousWordsforKids International Writing Challenge – please email your child’s precious words by Monday, May 7 at 11:59pm. I will be posting all of the stories next Friday, May 11.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I truly appreciate you spending your time here. And if you want to read more picture book reviews, please hop over to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday link up.

 

Happy Book Birthday: LOVE, MAMA Plus Giveaway

I LOVE PICTURE BOOKS!
SO OF COURSE, I LOVE CELEBRATING NEW ONES!

CONGRATULATIONS

AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR JEANETTE BRADLEY!

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 Written and illustrated by Jeanette Bradley

Published by Roaring Brook Press (January 2018)

Ages: 2-6

Themes: Parent/child relationship

Synopsis: From Amazon:

With a heartwarming story and tender illustrations, Jeanette Bradley’s debut picture book Love, Mama is perfect for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and any day when a child needs a reminder of the strength of a mother’s love.

When Mama leaves her young penguin Kipling, he knows she’ll return home soon―yet he still can’t help but miss her. After all, Pillow Mama won’t read, Picture Mama won’t laugh, and Snow Mama is too cold to cuddle.

But then Kipling receives a special delivery from Mama, including a note that reads:

My love for you stretches across the wide ocean, 
through day and night, 
from earth to sky 
and back again.

And Kipling knows that no matter where Mama is, he is loved. Soon, Mama comes home, and Kipling ends the day where he belongs―right in her arms.

Why I like this book:

  • Heartwarming text…sparse yet beautiful lyrical language

  • Super illustrations engage the reader from the first page turn to the last

  • I love books that give children confidence in the love of their parents…and the realization that even if parents leave (for a day of work or for the night when they go to sleep) they will be back!

  • The perfect book for Valentine’s Day and a new favorite of mine for bedtime storytime.

 RELATED ACTIVITIES

TREASURE BOX

Jeanette was kind enough to share a super fun activity with us!

You can print out the template here: 

heart template copy

What you need:

 

Small cardboard box

Paper for cutting out hearts (see templates)

Used postage stamps cut off envelopes

Glue stick

Stamps and stamp pad for “cancelling” the stamps

“Treasures” to put in the box, like rocks, feathers, pom poms, buttons, beads, or other found objects

 

Cut stamps off envelopes, or use Easter Seals:
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Print out the heart template on pink paper, if you have it:
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Cut out hearts:
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Glue old postage stamps onto box using glue stick.  Then “cancel” the stamps with whatever rubber stamps you have on hand
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Write a love note to someone you love:
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Fill your box with treasures, add your heart, and give it to someone special!
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I hope all of you will join me in celebrating the debut picture book authors and illustrators of the wonderful stories that will be coming this year. I’ll be shining the spotlight on them for book birthdays and for Perfect Picture Book Fridays.

But as parents or teachers or just picture book lovers, do you ever wonder how you can help your favorite authors?

1. One of the best ways is to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book review sites. 

2. Ask your local library to order the book…many libraries honor patron requests and some even have online request forms.

3. Buy a copy of the book.

4. And most importantly…TALK ABOUT THE BOOK…to friends, family, and anyone who will listen!

Please leave a comment below to be entered in a drawing for the copy of LOVE, MAMA that author/illustrator Jeanette is graciously giving away.

To learn more about Jeanette and her work and to download an educational guide for the book: http://www.jeanettebradley.com/

And just a few more important notes:

1. I’m participating in Julie Hedlund’s 12 Days of Christmas...an inspiring challenge to help kick off your writing year by looking back on 2017 and looking ahead to what you hope to accomplish in 2018.

2. Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm started yesterday…and I’ll be joining in as a participant as well one of the guest bloggers…I’m up on January 25th…I hope you’ll register and stop by as many days as you can on Tara’s blog…there are prizes and inspiring posts. In fact, two of my book deals this year were PiBoIdMo/Storystorm ideas from years past and in my post, I’ll be talking about how to take an idea to a published book.

3. I just received the color layouts for Sweet Dreams, Sarah…although there are still some tweaks needed…I’ve got my eyes on the October 2018 launch date, but am open to the possibility the book might not pub until Jan/Feb 2019. In which case I might just have FOUR books launching in ONE year. I will definitely need your help!

I’m looking forward to a stellar year with all of you!

Thank you for joining me on this grand adventure!