Sunday, September 30, 2012

Author Interview Featuring Molly Dean

Q)  When did you start writing?  What keeps you going?

A)  I was happiest as a child when making up stories. This was my favorite ‘game.’ Eventually I started telling these to younger kids and writing the tales down. Today, I keep going—because I have to. My characters demand to be let out and usually surprise me by their behavior. Working out plots can be a challenge--but eventually evolves into a kind of game--that I become addicted to and must keep playing.

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author?

A)  Publishing my first novel through Wild Child Publishing. That was a great day! Also, way back when, when a story of mine was published in my high school lit magazine and ‘shy, sweet Molly” actually succeeded in scaring her friends a little.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author?

A)  It was probably my first magazine rejection slip when I was fourteen. I was so, so sure ‘Lady’s Home Journal’ would publish my story in a snap, and, of course, rave about it to the world! I’ve had plenty of rejections since—but that one brought pure, raw pain.

Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block?

A)  Forcing myself to set a story aside and think of something else. Going outdoors and enjoying nature helps. I can pretty well count on being inspired on rainy or foggy days.  Also, writing down my more fantastic dreams (last night I was a Sherpa in the Himalayas). Another tact is to switch stories around. Just now I’m working on three, each very different in tone from the others.

Q)  Describe the typical writing day:

A)  I look after a lot of people and creatures, but I try to get at least two hours of work in during the morning (the hour of 10 a.m. is good for me—ideas and words usually flow), and again during late afternoon. I always have big plans to churn out chapters at night, but often, I’m ashamed to admit, doze off with a cat in my lap. I probably snore, too.

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration? 

A)  Again, nature. And, other books, films, music. Sometimes just little vignettes—a reflection of lights in a puddle—a glimpse over a wall into someone else’s garden—a look on a stranger’s face. Or, a look on a well-known face I don’t understand. Anything that starts me thinking and wondering.

Q)  Tell us about your latest book:

A)  It centers on a bed-ridden, fifteen-year old boy who, due to an accident, cannot walk. He drifts into a fantasy world where he can walk, run, leap, and achieve heroic quests. How his actions in the fantasy world affect his life in the ‘real world’ is the idea I am exploring.

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by?
A)  Probably, Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings fascinates me—it is fantasy, yes, but feels so real. I enjoyed The Hobbit years ago, but the LOTR trilogy simply blew me away. It is one of those books I read over and over. 

Thanks for visiting.  Please enjoy and comment. 


Author Bio:

After studying at Newcomb College in New Orleans and at the London Polytechnic, Molly became a full time freelance journalist and photographer, and published over 80 articles in magazines, like Fine Gardening, Victoria, Petersen’s Photographic, Flower & Garden, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Country Living, and American Horticulturist. Many of her credits are listed on her web site: Molly’s first love, though, is writing fiction. She has completed three novels for teens and tweens, including The Twilight Garden. She lives in the northeast Georgia mountains with her husband, her granddaughter, and a number of cats.
Twitter: Molly Dean@mollydean1


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bully-Proofing Our Kids

Bullying.  We hear about it a lot these days.  But today’s bully isn’t the big, burly boy on the playground shouting, “Cooties!” and looting lunches.  Today’s bully comes in a much more furtive form – often a skirt and pigtails.  Turns out sugar and spice and everything nice isn’t always what little girls are made of.  Girl bullies are common, covert, and too often cruel.  As a middle school teacher, I can’t count the number of times I’ve consoled sobbing girls who have been victimized by insidious, socially paralyzing tactics: “So-and-so called me a (four-letter word for promiscuous), told me I get my clothes at Goodwill, created a I-Hate-(Facebook) Page about me.”  And the list goes on….With the Internet as the perfect, covert dispatching medium, the Mean Girl Renaissance is in full swing. 

Alas, the indisputable truth is both girls and boys bully and the emotional scars can last a lifetime. So why are kids so mean and what is the answer?  I maintain that empathy is the biggest defense against bullying.  We need to educate our students at a young age that being mean to others is not just part of growing up, is not normal, and is not okay.  If empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – is our preventative armor, then books can be our magic bullets.  By relating to fictional characters that are the underdog or being treated unfairly, students are given the tools to self-reflect: Am I being mean?  Am I hurting someone else’s feelings?  If I make fun of my neighbor’s shoes or hair, how will it really make them feel?  By analyzing character, we build character and create a common respectful classroom culture in the interim. 

But bully-proofing our children isn’t just a school issue.  Parents can help by discussing bullying with their child at an early age and implementing the following strategies:

Teach bully-prevention at home by reinforcing the values of kindness and manners.  Discourage pinching, biting, or hitting other children, even among siblings.  Develop a strong sense of self, as kids with low self-esteem are less likely to stick up for someone who is being bullied, including themselves.  Encourage courageous behavior by modeling how to stand up for oneself when confronted by a bully.  A great way to do this is to role-play scenarios as a family. 

Know the telltale bully victim warning signs, which include a sudden loss of interest in school, insomnia, depression, loss of appetite, physical signs like unexplained scratches or scrapes, complaints of frequent headaches and stomachaches, and having few or no friends.  Be proactive in asking questions about your child’s social life, such as whom they hang out with or sit by at lunch or on the bus.

If there are strong indicators that your child is being bullied, comfort them and implement the following course of action:

·   *   Ignore: Advise your child to avoid the bully by walking away and ignoring him/her.  Act brave.  Suggest they always walk with a friend to avoid being seen alone.  If the bully approaches, don’t react.  After all, a reaction is what the bully is looking for.  When they don’t get one, the bully will most likely get bored and stop.  Another strategy is to count to ten, smile, or laugh it off. 

·     * Confront: Encourage your child to look the bully in the eye and say this sentence: “Please stop.  I don’t like what you are doing.  It’s mean.”

·      *Report: Most bullying occurs on school grounds.  Tell your child to report the confrontation to a school official, such as a teacher, counselor, administrator, or aide and then conduct a parental follow up.  Be an anti-bullying advocate by forming a parent group or join the PTA to discuss strategies for the school.  Volunteer to start a school safety committee. 

Bullying is front-page news and a serious problem for the individual child, family, and community.  It impacts everyone.  Kids who are bullied are more likely to suffer inferiority complexes and depression.  They are more likely to drop out of school, have drug and alcohol problems, and break the law.  Sometimes they take extreme measures, which can lead to tragic results as seen in the Columbine shootings or the frequent incidents of bullicide.  It’s all of society’s problem, as it affects every one of us.  Although bullying is pervasive, it can be thwarted by educating our children with this simple creed: Bullying is not okay – not ever. 

Let the prevention begin.  Let the healing begin. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Author Interview Featuring Ruth Zavitsanos

Q)  When did you start writing?  What keeps you going?

A)  I started writing at the age of 12.  As a babysitter, often the late nights in those days left me with little to do. One can only watch the “yule log” for so long! I read the mother’s books that were all the rage back then, The Thorn Birds and Roots, when not writing in my journal. Definitely, the feedback to my books keeps me going. I’m so pleased that my stories have been enjoyed by so many.

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author? 

A)  When I received my first five star review for FLIGHT OF LITTLE DOVE. This novel took me ten years to write and get published so I was thrilled to receive wonderful reviews. Also, when THE VILLA DOG was chosen as a Third Grade book club read at an area elementary school. I loved when the kids’ faces lit up during our discussion.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author? 

A)  When a publisher rejected my manuscript because “There is a plethora of dog books out there.” Certainly, the truth behind that remark is that THEY SELL! People really like the idea that my children’s books are told through the dog’s point of view.

Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block? 

A)  Taking my canine kids for a walk or a good soak in my Hot Tub to get my creative juices flowing.

Q)  Describe the typical writing day.

A)  I bring my cup of coffee into my office and first read my emails and facebook activity. Then, after I handle any business calls and replies to social/work media, I begin writing. I’ll take a break several hours into writing by stretching or walking. When I return I write for another hour or two more. I spend my afternoon doing things that must be done i.e. laundry, paying bills, etc. but my characters are always by my side.

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration? 

A)  So much inspires me that it’s hard to actually pinpoint any one thing, although travel has always been my best source of gathering story ideas, along with people watching.

Q)  Tell us about your latest book.

A)  The sequel to FLIGHT OF LITTLE DOVE is coming out in October. The SISTERS INN is set outside of Denver in 1873 where two women (sisters through marriage of their siblings) run an inn. Abby and Eliza are strong, independent, brave women who are committed to making the inn a successful endeavor. Of course, they do experience hardship, setbacks and anguish along the way. Both characters grow and in the end find their true happiness.

As for my WIP, it’s a story that takes place both in present day and the late 1970s that revolves around the aspects of reincarnation.

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by?

A)  Another difficult question because I read across the genres and there are so many new authors coming out. I think anyone who can hold my interest with a good story that does not have a predictable but rather a satisfying ending, is an author I most admire.

Thanks for visiting.  Please enjoy and comment. 



Ruth G. Zavitsanos began writing at the age of 12. Growing up outside of New York City, she attended many Broadway plays and musicals that served to stimulate her imagination. While attaining her Journalism degree at Marshall University she received numerous writing awards. She has been published in Writer’s Digest magazine and had an in-depth article in a Delaware Beach Life magazine. Ruth is a member of PennWriters, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators,  Valley Forge Romance Writers Group and Romance Writers of America. Her first novel, Flight of Little Dove, a historical romance, has been receiving five star reviews and is a book club selection for several independent bookstores. The sequel, Sisters Inn, will be released in October. Ruth’s children’s books, The Villa Dog (an Epic Award and a Main Line Today staff pick) , The Old Fortress Dog and The Kona Dog (all third grade book club reads), have been embraced by children, parents and the educational community.

Ruth enjoys Pilates, zumba, cooking, reading, music, photography, snorkeling, bicycle riding, walks with her canine kids, and travel. Sharing her joy of writing with young students and encouraging them to put their imaginative stories on paper gives Ruth great satisfaction. She and her family reside outside of Philadelphia, PA in Chester County.

Ruth can be contacted at

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tween Girls Rule!!

Check out the new blog - Tween Girls Rule - created by two super cool tweens!!

Excerpt - 

"Middle school is kind of like Middle-earth. It’s a magical journey filled with elves, dwarves, hobbits, queens, kings, and a few corrupt wizards. Word to the wise: pick your traveling companions well. Ones with the courage and moral fiber to persevere. Ones who wield their lip gloss like magic wands when confronted with danger. This way, when you pass through the congested hallways rife with pernicious diversion, you achieve your desired destination—or at least your next class."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Author Interview Featuring Victoria Roder

Q)  When did you start writing?  What keeps you going?                                           A)  I started writing for publication about five years ago. Over the years I have kept a journal of thoughts. My mom always said I should write a book because I was creative and loved to tell stories. 

Q)  What was your most encouraging moment as an author?
A)  There have been many encouraging moments from getting feedback from
readers to contracts. I had articles and puzzles in magazines, but the most encouraging moment came when I received my first contract for my first novel. That’s when I believed I should continue writing, submitting and facing rejection. It will be worth it in the long run.

Q)  What was your most discouraging moment as an author?
A)  Due to an illness, the publisher for my first novel The Dream House Visions and Nightmares, had to close. I do plan to submit the paranormal romance ghost story for a re-release.

Q)  What’s your antidote to writer’s block?
      A)  A motorcycle ride. Living in Wisconsin, this is a little difficult for half the year.

Q)  From where do you draw your inspiration?
A)  I get inspiration from everything I see, hear, taste and experience. So, be careful because I’m watching and you could be a character in my next book! The news is also a great source of ideas, and I have use a lot of my dreams for material.

Q)  What author have you been most influenced by?
A)  I don't follow one author or get hooked on a series of books.  I read a wide variety of authors.  But even as a girl I gravitated toward mystery and thrillers.  It makes for a heart racing read!  

      Q)  Tell us about your latest book.
      A)  Dinosaurs, a wall of skulls, and mummies, oh my! The Curse of King Ramesses II is a    twelve-year-old girl version of Abbot and Costello stowing away in a museum.  It is a heart racing adventure with a lesson in consequences.   
      One fateful night, Mia and her best friend Jody stow away in the Bradford Museum to investigate the mysterious mummy exhibit from the Cairo Museum. Rumors of the Curse of King Ramesses II have surfaced. It’s believed, that due to the king’s tyranny the Egyptian people vowed to rise up against him. 
       In revenge, Ramesses II vowed he would never rest until all of the perpetrators against him and their ancestors were brought to justice.  Now, spend the night in the dark, deserted museum. Experience the roar of the dinosaurs, the cold blast of the arctic, and always run past the wall of skulls. Be prepared for a night of heart-racing action as the girls dare to solve the ancient Egyptian curse of King Ramesses II. Will Mia and Jody survive the investigation or will the mummified king’s revenge be fulfilled?

Thanks for visiting!  Please enjoy and comment.  



Author Bio: Victoria Roder lives in Central Wisconsin with her husband and house full of pets. She is the author of children’s chapter book, The Curse of King Ramesses II from Wild Child Publishing, and picture book, An Important Job to Do: A Noah’s Ark Tale from DWB Children’s Line. She is also the author of action thriller, Bolt Action, Champagne Books, paranormal romance, The Dream House Visions and Nightmares and Inspirational Devotional book, It’s Not You – It’s Them: Six Steps to Healing and Thriving after abuse from Dancing With Bear Publishing.  Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, A Cup of Comfort, The Latke Hound a Christmas Anthology, and One Red Rose. She writes articles and creates puzzles for magazines and activity books. Please visit Victoria at