Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sup With Me? Why Zompoemz and Catherine Johnson, Of Course.

Everyone welcome Catherine Johnson, the kid’s poet extraordinaire. YEAH! WAHOO! Look at you! There she is. Wave to her everyone. She's pretty inside and out. :-)

Catherine has published THREE books of poetry for children. The latest is the wacky, wonderful Zompoemz. I highly recommend it, y’all. Have kidlets? Grandkidlets? Then you need these books. I will give links at the end of this post for you. Here she is. Isn't she pretty? And her personality matches her pretty. :-) Here's Zompoemz. It's pretty too. Check it out! :-) BTW, Zompoemz is FREE for Kindle until Halloween night. So go snag it. And tell your friends and even strangers to buy Zompoemz. 

       My review:
      We have Catherine's first two children's poetry books in our LIBRARY so it just stands to reason that we should have Zompoemz too. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE her poetry. I think Catherine did a service to kids everywhere. She is getting them interested in poetry. What a great thing! Kids who normally wouldn't touch a poetry book are interested in more poetry after having read these books of hers. This is not your ordinary zombie poetry book (is there even one of those?). This is a funny and wacky and kooky and deliciously wonderful read. It starts out with a drawing of a zombied out Bruce the Moose. It says: Bruce the Moose can really dance. But not when he's in a zombie trance. Kids LOVE that stuff. The art is so kid-friendly. Just look at the cover, and you can see that. There's zombies playing baseball, and the head comes off and so they play catch the head instead. It's a tickle your funny bone book that all kids should have access to. It's a sweet, short (for those reluctant readers that you know), and too fun to put down book. I'm going to buy a copy for our library. I hope a lot of people do that. The kids are going to love you for it.

        So Catherine, tell us where you got the idea for Zompoemz.
It was probably a mix of my kids talking about them and being a regular reader of Jack Flacco’s blog. He writes zombie books for adults. They are also a lot easier to draw than normal human faces. ;-)

        Didn’t you use the new Kindle Kids' Book Creator Tool when you published Zompoemz? Was it hard to figure out?

             Nope. It was dead easy or should I say undead easy bwa ha ha! There is a fab new thing you can do where you type the text of the page into a box and it automatically shows the enlarged text on whatever device you are reading off. I only used it for pages with tiny text but next time I might do it all. You don’t have to worry about pixels or anything as long as your photos are of a decent quality you are sorted. I couldn’t believe how easy it was.

       What influenced your decision to pursue publication on your own, rather than submitting your poetry books for acquisition by traditional publishing houses using standard 'advance against royalty' contracts? (Although you’re lucky because you can illustrate.)

             For Weirdo Zoo a long time ago I did submit them to a couple of good publishers that I had researched to see if they would be interested. It is super difficult to get a whole book traditionally published if you are not an established poet. Out of a whole book full of publishers poetry really narrowed the field down. I have several poems traditionally published through the Poetry Institute of Canada’s yearly competition but I feel that for my quirky style I’ll have to stick to self-published. I realize many people look down on you for it and I probably used to be like that, but since I’m always wanting to be on with the next thing, I think it will suit me in the long run. I was also about to be sent out to get a proper job if I’d have still been just submitting poems. I don’t know how I would have fit in the blogging if I worked as well. Yikes! The pressure lol.

       What are the advantages of self-publishing in an economic and a creative sense?

             I think I need to get better at getting my work and my blog out there before I can make any money doing this. I don’t really know yet of I’ve broken even. Better get my accounts in order ;) I’m in awe at my friend Nata and her book launch she really nailed it. I hammered it lol.

          What new book idea do you have up that sleeve of yours? (Dare I ask?) *wink*

          Yes, you dare Robyn. I’m sketching some kids lighthouses and in November I’ll be taking Renee’s wonderful poetry course to try and write poems to go with the pictures. The next book will be more girly but hopefully still be fun for boys.

         It was so nice to have you here, my friend. I hope Zompoemz is a BEST SELLER! 
         Thanks so much Robyn. You are the best!
         When we moved from New Zealand to Canada, we initially didn’t know which part
we were moving to so we were very lucky to get to see Vancouver and climb Grouse mountain in a gondola. It was the first time Matthew had set foot in snow, and it was the first time we saw zombies.An innocent drive turned interesting when we took a wrong turn and encountered a scene from Shaun of the Dead. Let’s get out of here! There were zombies everywhere. Not costumes. Not cartoon zombies. Real ones.There was a little old lady hunched over looking in a window carrying a basket. Men hunched over sat on the sidewalk. At first I thought they were poor beggars. And then…. A zombie crossed the road right in front of our car and stopped in the middle and just shouted. Not at us. Oh no. At nobody, himself, who knows. We held our breath, hoping he would move on. He did, phew. Not because we were terrified, because I was creased up laughing. He could have gotten real angry. Tears streamed down my face. We’d only watched Shaun of the Dead a few weeks previous.
So please take a map everywhere. Be especially careful in Vancouver, and believe me 
zombies are real.

Linkage, y'all. 

Zompoemz Kindle Free until Halloween night

Catherine's Zombie house

Catherine's Goodreads

Zompoemz in paperback


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Cover Reveal For VITAMINS AND DEATH, Y'all

Wahoo! I'm thrilled to be involved in the cover reveal for Medeia Sharif's book, VITAMINS AND DEATH. The book sounds fantastical and the cover is bodacious. Check it out. WOW! YOU MUST HAVE THIS BOOK! 

YA Contemporary, Prizm Books
Release Date December 10, 2014

Deidra Battle wants nothing more than to be invisible. After her mother, a public school teacher, engages in an embarrassing teacher-student affair at Lincoln High, they relocate to a different neighborhood and school. Being her mother’s briefcase, Deidra joins her mother at her new workplace, Hodge High.

Since her mother has reverted to her maiden name and changed her appearance, Deidra thinks no one will figure out they’re the Battles from recent news and that they’re safe. Neither of them is. Hodge brings a fresh set of bullies who discover details about the scandal that changed her life.

Feeling trapped at home with an emotionally abusive, pill-addicted mother and at school with hostile classmates who attempt to assault and blackmail her, Deidra yearns for freedom, even if she has to act out of character and hurt others in the process. Freedom comes at a price.

Find Medeia

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

YO! A Lizard's Tail and Bish Denham, y'all.

The blurb: When a feral cat threatens the lives of all who live at Stone Wall, Marvin knows his destiny has finally arrived. But how can a vain young lizard get rid of such a dangerous enemy?

Does that sound good or what? Come on! Well, it is MORE than good. It's SIMPLY BODACIOUS! You MUST buy. (And check out the cover.) WOWEE!! 

My review:

I've seen it called a picture book by some bloggers. It's a chapter book. Bish has outdone herself. Marvin P. Tinkleberry (love that name), a daydreaming show-off who has the perfect tail and wants everyone else to know it sets off on a great adventure not of his making. It seems that Marvin is descended from Prince Leopold. So it is up to him to save the bougainvillea from the CAT! Bish's writing is so delightful, so delicious, so engaging that I predict kids will not be able to put this book down. Her characters are endearing and captivating. Her description, dialogue, and narrative are so charming that A Lizard's Tail will become a classic in family libraries in no time at all.  Our family laughed with Martin and worried over him. He's an honorary member of our family now. Thank you Bish!

Linkage to buy A Lizard's Tail:


Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Linkage to visit Bish:

Bish's house, y'all

Her Goodreads place

Her Facebook page

Bish Denham was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. Her mother's side of the family has lived in the Caribbean for over one hundred years and she still has plenty of family there whom she visits regularly.

She says, "Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. Life for me was magical, and through my writing, I hope to pass on some of that magic."

Bish has known many lizards in her life. Marvin and Leeza are based on two that lived in her bedroom.

She is the author of Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Folk Tales which you can find on

Go buy it, people. It's well worth it. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

*Looks To The Left* *Looks To The Right* Just Where In The World Is Lenny Lee??

Have you seen him? You know. He looks like this.  *whips out a photograph* Yeah, I know. He's got that great smile. All sunshiney and everything. So? Have you seen him? He's been AWOLFB (now that's a mouthful). You know what that means. ABSENT WITHOUT LEAVE FROM BLOG! DUM
DUM DUM!! I'm Investigator Robyn bloggingforth. I am searching for Lenny because he is missed by his writerly pals. They love him and as such they want to see his writing/any kind of posts over at his house: 192 Lenny's World Avenue. Today is his birthday too.

We miss him because, well, let me count the ways:
#1 He is just a hot diggety dog wonderful person to know.
#2 He knows a lot of stuff about raccoons (this can come in handy). *nods*
#3 He is a FANTASTICAL writer.
#4 He is the type of friend who is always there when you need him (that's a great type).
#5 He is such a doggone nice person.
*Looks to  the left* *Looks to the right*
Have you seen him? If you do will you give us all a holler? We want to sing him the happy birthday song. And we want to say, HAPPY FIFTEENTH BIRTHDAY, LENNY!!!!!!!!! Oh, and please tell him I have some REALLY PRETTY BALLOONS! Scroll down to see the cake and balloons. (Blogger was NOT cooperating with me.) I wanted to arrange the pictures in an eye-pleasing way. *Bangs Blogger over the head with a frying pan*


Monday, October 13, 2014

Write for Life Volume One YaY Karen Lange!!! It's a Mini Blog Tour. *applause* A Review and Questions With Answers, too.

Okay, so. I had the review scheduled for this past Friday. So. I wondered on Saturday why it didn't post. Hmm. It was saved as a draft. WHAT A DOOFUS I AM! I am posting the review today. (Enter the rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post.) 

(Isn't she beautiful?) :-) My review

I loved this wonderful book on writing a research paper. It's written like Karen is sitting across from you with coffee in one hand and dark chocolate in the other having a conversation with you and your teens. That's exactly how I felt as I read it. Karen easily brings the readers through the shaky/creepy haunted path of writing research papers. In other words, she takes the ghastly horror out and makes it more of a blissful, happy dance kind of a time. :-) It's broken down into bite-sized portions from choosing a topic (broad topic, narrowed focus, narrowed further) to writing guidelines and outlines and writing plans. And so much more! This book is not just for homeschoolers either. It's for all teens. Public schooled and private schooled. This is something they have to grasp before college. Be assured, if they read this book they will zoom through writing a research paper. Do you know any teens? Mention this book to them and their parents. They will pat you on the back for it. ;-)  

(Isn't it beautiful?) Drum roll please!

What prompted you to write this book?

Thanks so much for inviting me to stop by! The lessons in Write for Life Volume One are ones I use with my teen homeschool students in an online writing co-op. I’ve long wanted to convert the lessons into book form for use at home or with student groups. These are lessons I wish I’d had when homeschooling my children. They break writing the research paper down into more manageable, less intimidating steps, offering tips, advice, and insight into the entire process.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

My hope is that readers, students in particular, will come away more confident in their research and writing skills. I believe that with practice and encouragement, every student can write. Certainly not everyone will become a bestselling author, but they can learn to express themselves better through writing. Improving communication skills helps students gain an edge for future pursuits. My philosophy is that everyone has something to share with others, and writing is one way to do that.

Who was Write for Life written for?

The book is designed for group, family, or individual student use.  This includes homeschoolers and public and private school students. It can be used anytime to help students brush up on their research paper writing skills.
Write for Life includes an instructor guide with information and advice on how to help students through the process. While best used with parent or other adult supervision, self-motivated students can work through the lessons themselves. I've had a writer tell me recently that the lessons would also be suitable for anyone wanting to brush up on research skills.

Since Write for Life is more of an educational resource, how do you plan to market it? 

That’s a good question! I am exploring different options as we speak. They include doing articles and guest posts, spots on Blogtalk Radio, and of course, social media. In addition, I may offer some workshops in the future. I will also do another blog tour when Volume Two, Essay Writing, is released.

You mentioned that there is a Volume Two of Write for Life.  What will that include? When will it be released?

Write for Life Volume Two’s topic is Essay Writing. It will follow the same format, offering ready to use lessons for grades 7-12 that will guide students through the essay writing process. The lesson topics include:   
  • Essay basics and structure   
  • Choosing topics and sources
  • Taking good notes
  • Thesis statements and outlines
  • Developing content
  • Revision and editing
  • MLA style source documentation
  • Preparing for the test essay

Three Tips to Use to Encourage Children to Write
By Karen Lange
Teaching children to write can be intimidating, especially if you don’t feel like you are a good writer. Here are some tips you can use to encourage your children to write. Grade school, high school - age doesn’t matter; it’s never too late to develop good writing habits. A seventy-year-young gentleman I know took some writing courses and got published. You’re never too old to learn!
Tip #1 - Read to your children. Make family reading time a priority, if only once a week. It’s a great way to share quality time together. It provides opportunities for discussion. The benefits of exposure to literature are endless. It broadens perspectives and lends to a sense of adventure; this can enhance content when they write.
Tip #2 - Set a good example; let your children see you writing. Even if the only things you write are emails, letters, lesson plans, and grocery lists, you are still writing! It’s important to remember that no matter what we do in life, it is necessary to communicate.
Tip #3 - Find writing projects to do together. Writing activities in a standard curriculum are great, but sometimes they don’t spark a student’s creativity. When it comes to writing, especially for the reluctant writers, fun is the key. Engage children by finding short, interesting activities to start. Try writing a continuing story, silly poetry, or a family newspaper together. For ideas, I recommend If You’re Trying to Teach Kids to Write, You’ve Gotta Have This Book! by Marjorie Frank.
It’s worth a little time and effort now, for strengthening their writing will enhance verbal and other interpersonal skills, preparing children for a lifetime of good communication.

Isn't she awesome? She's super fantastic! She's super de duper. Love my amigo! :-)

Write for Life: Volume One: Writing the Research Paper
This book offers ready to use lessons for grades 7-12 that guide students through the process of writing the research paper. Suitable for homeschool families, co-ops, or other student groups, these eight lessons break down the process from start to finish with helpful instruction, encouragement, and practice.
Lesson topics include: 
  • MLA style research paper basics, topics, and sources
  • Thesis statements
  • Outlines
  • Developing content
  • Rough and final drafts
  • Citing sources

No matter what we do in life, good communication skills are an important ingredient for success.  Strengthening students’ writing enhances verbal and other interpersonal skills and helps prepare them for a lifetime of good communication.
Since 2005, Karen Lange has used these lessons to teach homeschool teens at the Homeschool Online Creative Writing Co-op. She believes that everyone can improve their writing skills with a good balance of instruction, encouragement, and practice.
Purchase Write for Life on Amazon
About the Author
Karen Lange is a homeschool veteran and consultant, freelance writer, editor, and online writing instructor for teens and adults. Her articles appear in parenting, homeschool, and other publications. Homeschool Co-ops 101, her first book, was released in 2013. She and her husband homeschooled their three children for grades K-12 in southern New Jersey. They now live in north central Kentucky where Karen enjoys reading, walking, and playing with her grandson. She is a fan of dark chocolate, hockey, and historical fiction.

Visit Karen
Twitter - @KLELange

Giveaway Information
One winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card & a copy of Write for Life ebook.
FYI: For those who do not have a Kindle, you can download the Free Kindle App for your computer, phone, or tablet at this link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway