Monday, September 23, 2013

And The Winner of Little Miss Muffet Is *drum roll please*

Well, no one was into washing dishes for the chance to draw a name out. Go figure. *wink* *wink* But we did draw a name and it is

Crystal Collier!!!! YaY you girl. Congrads. Thanks to everyone who made Friday day fun for Iza.

Crystal, contact me. Yeah!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Sup? The Fabulous Iza Trapani's Sup. That's what!

Please welcome my BBF and the fabulous multi award-winning author/illustrator Iza Trapani. Iza’s first book ‘Itsy Bitsy Spider’ has sold over a million copies. Her illustrations whoosh me straight into the storybook world before I even have a chance to read a single word. (I wanna be an illustrator! If only I could master the straight line.) Seriously folks, if you’ve never experienced one of her adaptations of well-known nursery rhymes you have missed a lot. She brings her readers along on a completely new journey of these classics. She has written/illustrated over twenty books and illustrated books for other authors.
She’s here today to talk about her newest book Little Miss Muffet. I was so happy to review it for her and if you didn’t read it you can find it here.
Also, don't forget to comment for a chance to win a copy of Little Miss Muffet. I'll announce the winner Monday, Sept. 23rd.  I think I'll mention to the kids that whoever washes the most dishes over the weekend can draw the winner out of a hat. BWA HA HA HA! I'm so EVIL!!!!! ;-)

Iza, it is so good to have you over today. You know how much I love your work. Please tell us about your work day.

Thanks so much for this interview, BBF! (bestest best friend.) Typically, my work day begins with breakfast in bed (which my husband brings up each day- lucky me:-)  I use this time to do social networking- and there are days when I become so engrossed in reading the wonderful blogs I subscribe to, leaving comments, sharing, etc.,  that I’ll realize my husband is long gone and it’s 8:30 and I’ve been at it for close to two hours! Then I’ll hop out of bed, take my dog for a good, brisk walk then head to my studio. I’ll spend the rest of the day writing or illustrating, and whichever it is, again I will become totally immersed, breaking only to respond to emails or a  few quick games of FB scrabble, maybe a stretch or two on my yoga mat or a change of the laundry, or a wrestle with my dog, then a quick (usually standing) lunch and I’ll finally stop at around 6:30, head to the kitchen and cook dinner. It’s only fair!
How long does it take to write and illustrate your books?
The writing varies. Sometimes I can conceive a story in a few hours.  I wrote a rough draft of The Itsy Bitsy Spider on an hour and a half bus ride. Other  times it may take months or even years for an idea to germinate. But generally, once I have  a plot, I can write a story in a few days. Of course, most of my stories are under 500 words. And then there are many days or weeks of revising, fine-tuning. Getting the meter right is one of the biggest challenges. Rhyming verse has so many constraints, but ultimately, there is always a way to make it work. I have learned to easily dispose of lines that I was fond of. Nothing is precious. There is always a way of saying something differently. I use a thesaurus and sometimes a rhyming dictionary if I am at a loss for words. Walks help me when I get really stumped.
The illustrations take me about six weeks for the storyboard and dummy sketches and four to six months for the final watercolor paintings. When I am working on a book, I work every chance I have, including weekends.  The early stages of illustrating are the hardest: Creating a storyboard, developing the characters, working and reworking the dummy sketches. I go through a lot of tracing paper at this stage. When all the sketches are revised and approved, I start my watercolor paintings. This is my favorite part. I love color!
Which comes first the text or the drawings?
The text comes first, but I envision the illustrations as I write and will often change the text tif it doesn’t suggest good imagery. I will do a rough storyboard as I write to know how many verses  (so far all of my books have been written in rhyme) I will need and what lines will be on each page.

What writers/illustrators have inspired you?

Oh my, where to begin? Ok, I’ll start with the one and only Dr. Seuss whose preposterous humor and playful rhymes have delighted me since I was a child and continue to do so. I love Margaret Wise Brown’s heartwarming stories and Beatrix Potters gentle stories and art. Other author/illustrators high on my list are Marc Simont, Trina Schart Hyman, Leo Lionni, Holly Hobbie, Janet Stevens, and Judy Schachner. Some of my favorite children’s poets are Douglas Florian, Judy Sierra, Mary Ann Hoberman, Margaret Mahy, Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Kate Coombs..The list goes on and on and on and keeps growing...So much talent out there!

After you wrote your first story titled ‘What Am I’, did you receive rejections before you finally had a “YES!” (I’m guessing you did.) :-)

YES! Of course! It happens to all of us- even Dr. Seuss (29 times for his first book.) So, aspiring authors- please do not give up!!!

Describe your writing style in five words. (Hard isn’t it?) I ask you this question because someone asked me one time. 

Ridiculously hard! Do you know how long I’ve been at it? I could have written a whole book in less time! :-)
And I am not sure if you mean the style of my work or my process, so I’m doing both:
Style (as I hope others perceive it): Sweet, funny, playful, gleeful, hopeful
Process (as I know it): Ardent, focused, elated, frustrated, dogged
And I wonder if you wanted a complete sentence instead of just adjectives, so here’s this: I’m a baffled rhyming fool! :-)

I love the complete sentence addition. :-)

What would your eight-year-old self say to you now? 

Dobrze sobie poradziłaś...(I emigrated to the US from Poland when I was 3 months shy of my eight birthday, so I was still thinking in Polish then.) Loosely translated it means, “You done good.” :-) 

Iza, do you have any advice for all us aspiring writers about this road we’re on?

The best advice I can give is to keep writing and honing your craft. Do it because you love it, because it brings you joy and fulfillment, because the creative pull is so intense you have no other choice but to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and get those words down. Yes, dream of publication, but realize that most published authors worked hard for many years before selling a book. Writing for children is much harder than most people think. Exult in your writing, but keep a critical eye. Do not get too attached to your words. This is especially true of rhyming verse, where rhythm and meter are critical. A clever or beautiful line is worthless if the meter is off. Read your stories aloud, or have someone else read them to you. The rough spots will jump out. Take time away from your work and come back to it with a fresh eye. When we are too close to our work, we can not hear the flaws. Time away really helps. Or have a critique buddy or a group read your story or poem and give you objective and constructive feedback. Or, if you can, hire a professional to review and/or edit your manuscript.
Above all, do not get discouraged by rejection- especially in these difficult and competitive times. Rejection is not a reflection on you, personally. Keep in mind that it is just one (or a few) person’s opinion, or that the book may truly not be right for the publisher’s list. Or, worse case scenario, your story may need  a bit more work. So accept the challenge! Go back and make it as good as you can. And if you can’t make that story work, write another. Do you have any idea how many unpublished manuscripts published authors have filed away? A lot!
Read lots of book in your genre. Join SCBWI, if you haven’t already. There are so many great blogs out there that offer information and inspiration. Keep writing. Keep improving. Tell your stories in a fresh, new way. Find your voice. We all want to hear it!

Oh wow, BBF! That was awesome. I sit here reading your answers and I just marvel at your talent, focus, and determination. (Having a hubby who brings breakfast in bed is such a blessing! SCHWEET!) 
Oh hubby dear…
To be continued y’all. *wink*

You can visit Iza over at her place.  She welcomes you to come and print out coloring pages, bookmarks, word searches, mazes, and so much more. (She just might have some cookies too.)

Or here at her other place.

Linkage to buy Iza’s books:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Yo! Little Miss Muffet, Y'all! After You Read This Post, Scroll Down To See The Trailer For Little Miss Muffet. :-)

Iza Trapani’s new picture book, Little Miss Muffet is delightfully done and had this family smiling the day away. The illustrations are so enjoyable and it was such a pleasure to read.

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whey.

Along came a spider

Who sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Poor, poor little Miss Muffet! She just has to get away from that terrifying spider. But how?  The mouse sends her outside, where she runs into a leaping frog, a cackling crow, and other creatures, before she goes back inside again. Iza’s use of in and out, up and down, over and under, beside and behind, makes this story come alive for little ones. 

It’s fun to follow Miss Muffet to see what will happen to her next. Her facial expressions are so authentic that you might think she’s going to pop right out of the story and hide behind you.

Tired of the usual Miss Muffet escapades? Then you must read Iza Trapani’s version that will keep you giggling all day long. The little ones in your life will ask you to read it over and over again! 
Iza  has bookmarks and 'super fun to do' activity sheets to download here. 

Visit Iza's website anytime. She will welcome you with open arms.

Please come back Friday September 20th for a special interview with Iza and enter to win her beautiful rendition of Little Miss Muffet for yourself.

Little Miss Muffet by Iza Trapani book trailer

Monday, September 16, 2013

CasaStorm Peeps! Plus, I Fixed My Comment Page. Downer:I Lost All The Comments That Were Ever written.

Firstly, CONGRADS ALEX!!!!!!!!! I bet Mrs. Ninja is treating you to a night on the town tomorrow night celebrating the release of your last book in the Cassa trilogy!    

Here's little mini Alex with CassaStorm. Isn't he the cutest thing?? Come on. You know he is.                   

Secondly, buy the book people. Love sci-fi? Me too. Scroll down for the linkage. Buy it! You will NOT be disappointed. *pinky promise*

Thirdly, pop over and comment on Alex’s blog this week for a chance to win a Cassa mug, mousepad, magnet, and swag! You know you wanna. Go on. I'll wait!!

 Just look at all that stuff!!!!!! WOWEEE! (Robyn's eyes pop out of her head.)

We ( those of us helping Alex to take the world by storm!) had to ask THE ninja captain a question. The following was mine. Lamo question? I think not! 

If you could live one week as one of your characters, who would it be? And would Mrs. Ninja mind the change?

I’d want to be Byron and I’d live the week he spent with Athee traveling from Tgren to Cassa in the second book. They bonded during that trip and you know what that means!
Of course, Mrs. Ninja would have to be Athee…

Great answer pal! I do. I know what that means!     

By Alex J Cavanaugh

From the Amazon Best Selling Series!

A storm gathers across the galaxy…

Commanding the Cassan base on Tgren, Byron thought he’d put the days of battle behind him. As a galaxy-wide war encroaches upon the desert planet, Byron’s ideal life is threatened and he’s caught between the Tgrens and the Cassans.

After enemy ships attack the desert planet, Byron discovers another battle within his own family. The declaration of war between all ten races triggers nightmares in his son, threatening to destroy the boy’s mind.

Meanwhile the ancient alien ship is transmitting a code that might signal the end of all life in the galaxy. And the mysterious probe that almost destroyed Tgren twenty years ago could return. As his world begins to crumble, Byron suspects a connection. The storm is about to break, and Byron is caught in the middle…

“…the racial conflicts propelled much of the plot in this story, driving home a message that's relevant to our own world and giving the book an interesting texture.”
- C. Lee. McKenzie, author of Alligators Overhead
“CassaStorM is a touching and mesmerizing space opera full of action and emotion with strong characters and a cosmic mystery.” – Edi’s Book Lighhouse

$16.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 268 pages, Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Science fiction/adventure and science fiction/space opera
Print ISBN 9781939844002 eBook ISBN 9781939844019
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Find CassaStorm:
Amazon -

Alex J. Cavanaugh has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design and graphics. He is experienced in technical editing and worked with an adult literacy program for several years. A fan of all things science fiction, his interests range from books and movies to music and games. Online he is the Ninja Captain and founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The author of the Amazon bestsellers, CassaStar and CassaFire, he lives in the Carolinas with his wife.

And y'all know I love the Carolinas! I mean, the sky you gaze at is Carolina blue. 'Nuff said? Proof in the pudding?? I think so!
Thank for reading. Go buy the book. You will NOT be able to put it down.