Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year!!

May your year be filled with impassioned characters, riveting plot lines, and enlightened universal themes...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tis' the Season - 10 Classic Christmas Books

1) A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

2) The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg

3) How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss

4) "The Gift of the Magi" - O. Henry

5) The Nutcracker - E.T.A. Hoffman, illustrations by Maurice Sendak

6) The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson

7) The Christmas Box - Richard Paul Evans

8) The Night Before Christmas - Jan Brett

9) The Tailor of Gloucester - Beatrix Potter

10) The Father Christmas Letters - J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, December 14, 2012

Create a Bookmark - Fun Lesson of the Week

Create a Bookmark can be used as a chapter check or a culminating reading activity, perhaps in lieu of the ordinary book report.  Create a Bookmark reinforces literacy and common core language arts standards, while allowing for individual expression.  It is a student/teacher-friendly, hands-on classroom resource that includes the following elements: 
  •     Title
  •     Author
  •       Theme of book
  •     Character quotation
  •       Scene from the book 
  •       Summary of the book
 This lesson is featured on  - a fabulous website for teachers.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

What's in Your Character's Head???

This is a creative writing activity I do with my students.  They invent a character and make a collage of what's in their head, including thoughts, symbols, theme words, and pictures.  This lesson is featured on  - a fabulous website for teachers.  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In Honor of Thanksgiving...

I give thanks for ten of my favorite books growing up...the ones that have influenced me, taken me to different worlds, and fueled my love for the written word...

Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger

The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton

Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret – Judy Blume

Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Assorted short stories and poems – Edgar Allan Poe

Carrie – Stephen King

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Check It Out (Literally!)

Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School is now available at Nashville Public Libraries.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Top Ten Homework Excuses

If you need something besides “My dog ate it,” see examples below:

1 - My printer isn’t working, and it could take up to a week to fix. (Present an empty print cartridge for corroborating evidence.)

2 - I've been advised against doing any homework because a bad grade could damage my already fragile self-esteem.

3 - I’m practicing nonconformity. Since most of the students did their homework, completing it would make me a conformist.

4 - I had symptoms of illness last night, and when I googled it, it said I had West Nile.

5- I found the assignment particularly uninspiring and didn’t see how it aligned with the standards, so I read the dictionary instead.

6 - Shhh. I’m a superhero and out on duty.

7 - I used invisible ink and didn’t realize it would be an issue.

8 - My thyroid is acting up.

9 - Okay, I’m sorry, but the directions were just not clear, unless this assignment was on the virtues of ambiguity.

10 - We had homework?

If all else fails, “No, seriously, the dog ate my homework.”

Helpful Hints:

*Keep your poker face on.

*Cry on the spot.

*Believe in what you’re saying.

*Always say it with a tone of respect (or at least fake it!)

(From Lucy and CeCee's How to Survive (and Thrive) in Middle School)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Join the Ultimate Tween Book Club on Goodreads...

The Ultimate Tween Book Club's bookshelf: read
The Ultimate Tween Book Club 31 members
This is a Book Club dedicated to tweens and anyone who loves MR (middle reader) books.

Books we've read

View this group on Goodreads »

M.U.T.T. - Making Us Think Together

Have you heard of the amazing website M.U.T.T. Online?  M.U.T.T. stands for Making Us Think Together and showcases writers, photographers, poets, and artists.  Every month it features one from each category.  Check it out and feature your own work on M.U.T.T.:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Author Interview Featuring Carol Marvell

Q)  When did you start writing?  What keeps you going?
A)  I started writing about twenty-five years ago. Slave Trader of course was my first novel and then I wrote a series of stories after it, all of which follow on from each other. My stories are based around the same main characters, where I’ve incorporated them into different and dangerous adventures.  For many years, my stories lived in the bottom drawer. I wrote purely for pleasure and had no intention of publishing. It wasn’t until I bought my first computer that I dug some of them out and expanded them from note form into manuscripts. When I look back on them now, I laugh. I am not kidding when I say notes. I seemed to have put down a mere portion of my thoughts on paper. They are very basic with no details and only cover the bare skeleton of my stories.  To this day my love for writing hasn’t dwindled. I think having a number of manuscripts on the go at once has its advantages. I’ll edit one and then go on to the next. By the time I get back to the first one, it’s like reading a new story. By using this method, my stories don’t become stale or bog me down. And now, having Slave Trader published has spurred my confidence on in leaps and bounds.

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author?
A)  Having my daughter love Slave Trader. She was my first ever reader and I couldn’t believe how enthralled she was by it. She’d read a few chapters and then race in to discuss what my characters had done and the twists the story had taken. I remember picking her up from a three day music camp and the first thing she said to me was, ‘I couldn’t stop thinking about your book.’ If it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t have published it.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author?
A)  Probably the most obvious – rejections from publishers. I feel this is the hardest and highest hurdle – actually finding a publisher to take you on. In a way, every rejection made me more determined. I knew there had to be someone out there who would like my story and be prepared to publish it. Thankfully my perseverance paid off and Wild Child Publishing gave me the chance.

     Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block?
       A)  I can’t say I’ve actually had a writer’s block. When I wrote my stories all those years ago, they just seemed to flow. Writing became my passion, and when I wasn’t writing, I was always thinking - plotting ideas and developing schemes and strategies to either strengthen my existing work or to create new ones. I couldn’t get my characters out of my head which I guess is why I had no trouble creating storylines. I never actually followed a plan so I never knew what was going to happen or how or where the story would turn, or end for that matter. If I did get to a point where I wasn’t sure which way to take the story, or if I found I’d led my characters into a tight situation, leaving it for a day or two always cleared my head and refreshed my ideas to find a solution.

Q)   Describe the typical writing day:
A)  I try and write every spare minute I can. Unfortunately with my day job, it can be hard to find the time, or at least the time I would like. I find writing early in the mornings is my best time, when my mind is clear. Most days I write a little before I head off to work. I might write for an hour or so after work and then again after dinner. The beauty of having a laptop is, I can still be with my family while I’m working.  If I’m not too busy on weekends, I try and squeeze in an hour or two, or more, and maybe a little bit more. The social side of publicizing my book now takes up a lot of my writing time so it’s a balancing game, but I feel it is necessary to promote, promote, promote. I guess I’m lucky I did all the leg work for my books back when I seemed to have more time. Now it’s a matter of polishing them ready for publication.

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration?
A)  When I started writing, I was inspired by the idea to create a heroine. Back then, there weren’t too many around, either in books or movies. Though there were plenty of tough front men heroes, not that I didn’t enjoy reading about them or watching them on the big screen, I thought it would be good to have a heroine take the lead for a change. I wanted someone who wouldn’t crumble at the first sign of trouble, someone strong in character and genuine in personality, and someone able to look after herself …hence Detective Billie McCoy stepped into my world.  Still my love for fast moving plots and plenty of action feeds my inspiration.  The aspect of unique friendships also adds its appeal. I have friendships which grow with each book. It is this unity that I feel shape my stories, encouraging my ideas and plots to work around a special camaraderie.  I’ve also based my stories around issues in society we don’t tend to hear about, although now they seemed to becoming more accurate than I ever envisaged, an example being the real life slavery stories spreading across the globe. When I wrote slave trader, I was writing pure fiction…or so I thought. Now there are more people in slavery than at any other time in history, and the industry makes $32 billion a year. It’s frightening.

Q)  Tell us about your latest book:
A)  Slave Trader – In the Name of Freedom was released in May this year with Wild Child Publishing. It is a fast paced action adventure based on a modern day slavery racket run by a crooked cop, Captain Bates, the chief of Missing Persons. For the past three years, he has secretly abducted young attractive prostitutes and destitute women, choosing only those who hold a prison record and won’t be missed from society. With the help of his sidekick, Mrs Bland, a cruel burly woman whose job it is to keep the prisoners in line, he transports his victims from Sydney to the far north of Queensland along the edge of the desert to sell as sex slaves to overseas buyers.  The main character Detective Billie McCoy, a member of an elite undercover squad, is on assignment when she stumbles across one of Bates’ abductions. Taking the risk of jeopardising her own mission, she goes to the aid of the misfortunate girl, Jane Walker. Well trained in self-defence and experienced in many different styles of combat, Billie has no trouble overpowering Jane’s two assailants. Before she can get her out safely, Bates and reinforcements arrive. Here are two cops - both well respected throughout the force - now in opposite circumstances, now forced to turn on the other.  Plunged into a web of corruption and evil, not only does Billie have to contend with the slave traders, but her fellow prisoners – all who hate cops. Entrapped in the back of a truck with six women already on edge due to the distressing situation, they make it clear they want nothing to do with Billie after learning her status. The detective is forced to defend herself both verbally and physically against them, as well as Mrs Bland on their trek north.

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by? 
A)  Two authors stand out in my mind, and both during my teenage years. I loved Peter O’Donnell with the Modesty Blaise series, and J. T. Edson with his many westerns and the Bunduki series. I still have every book. J  More recently would be Matthew Reilly. I love the way he thinks big when it comes to plots and action, pitting his main characters against not one enemy but usually a whole army. His stories are well out of the square, leading the reader far beyond imagination.

Author Bio:    Carol lives on a small property in Queensland, Australia. She works in a local primary school as a School Officer / Librarian / Community Development Officer. Born in Childers, she grew up on a cane farm. Carol has been married for twenty-six years and has three children, two girls and a boy. She has travelled extensively throughout the world, visiting the US, UK, Europe, China, Japan, Thailand, New Zealand and of course, Australia. Her other passion is music. She plays bass guitar in a country rock band with her husband and two other guys, and is also a member of a symphony orchestra. With over fifty members, the orchestra is voluntary and visits retirement villages and small towns.

Social links:



Monday, October 22, 2012

Get Your Fear On...

It's time for everyone to get their fear on with an excerpt from the award-winning Cheerage Fearage (Wild Child Publishing, 2012):

            The silver moon threw light on the two girls as they eagerly peeled off their clothes, tossing them in heaps on the wooden dock.  They jumped off into the vast lake, giggling and squealing at the shock of its coldness as the dark water swallowed up their tanned, limber bodies.
            Although fierce competitors on the school’s most exclusive faction, the two girls were the best of friends with much in common.  They ran with the same elite crowd, dated the same square-jawed jocks, and chose the same stylish trends to be mindlessly imitated by featureless masses.  Quite simply, they were perfection personified coupled with a “rules-don’t apply-to-us” attitude that even the teachers chose not to challenge - the outcome resulting in unequivocal classroom suicide. 
            “Nervous about tomorrow?” asked the sandy blonde with an I-know-better grin.
            “Yeah, right,” shot back the redhead.  “It’s in the bag, sister.  Fly high or die.”
            “You know I love you best, right?
            “Of course.  It’s you and me forever.”
            They traded playful splashes and squeals until without warning, the blonde gripped the redhead’s neck taking her under.  She held down the thrashing body, welcoming the newfound power and control that had evaded her for so long.  Vindication was only moments away….
Responding to a startling kick to the shin, she released the girl without delay playing it off with a full-bodied laugh.  “What are you doing?” the redhead yelled, spastically choking.  “You trying to kill me?”
“Relax,” said the blonde.  “You’re my best friend.  I would never hurt you.  You know that, right?”
But the redhead didn’t answer – at least not with words.  Her shrill scream was cut short by the blonde thrusting her under again, this time with even more force.  She yanked tufts of the covetous red hair everyone always spoke about, the crowning feature that solidified her title of reigning school beauty.  Brutally jerking her head to the left and wrenching it to the right, she forced the girl to swallow massive amounts of water. 
The redhead’s adrenaline now metastasized into rank primal fear.  She kicked and scratched for dear life causing the blonde to tighten her grip.  Overcome with sheer panic followed by pure helplessness, the redhead relaxed into an inevitable surrender. 
With the determined patience of a professional assassin, the blonde counted slowly to fifty, waiting for the shapely, agile form that had cruelly beat her out of every competition to go still and flaccid forever.  She delighted in feeling the strong steady pulse slow to a mere fleeting throb and then finally to complete nothingness.  When the time came, the blonde released the body into the dark water without pause or sentiment, and gracefully swam back to the dock, crawling up the ladder with a smooth, athletic gait. 
            Mission accomplished. 
            Giddily content, the blonde patted away streaming lines of lake water with her tank top, tossing it back on along with her vintage cutoffs.  She left the other’s clothes balled up below the “NO DIVING” sign and never looked back.  The long-suffering second-in-command was now the captain of the Valentine Cheerleading Squad.

            It was official.  The queen bee had be dethroned and destroyed.

Now available from Wild Child Publishing: