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Monday, July 25, 2011

Writer's News

Photo by Lucas

My picture book In Search of Awe was awarded Honorable Mention by the Alabama Writer's Conclave.  This very story was critiqued as part of Editor's Day in Lexington, Kentucky.  In fact, all attendees had the opportunity to have their work critiqued for a small fee.  Editor Maggie Lehrman of Abrams Books thought that the story would work better as a middle grade book.  Hmmm....this would take some time to develop, but it may be worth pursuing. 

My other picture book Maggie and the Third Grade Blues has a slightly new title, based on the first-page critique I received at Editor’s Day:  Maggie and the First Grade Blues.  Maggie Lehrman reminded me that the book should appeal to much younger children.  Though basically the same story, the text was modified to engage a younger audience.  

I am approaching my goal of contacting 30 publishers—only 3 more to go.  But, I will submit to Abrams first, since I have a better understanding of their needs following Editor’s Day.  Out of 13 agents, 8 responded with a no thank you.  I will submit to two more agents this summer to bring the total to 15, as planned. 

If I receive negative responses from Abrams and the agents, I will have to weigh whether to continue to submit my book to others (but of course, I’m staying positive).   My goal is to continue to submit to many more publishers and agents.  I keep in mind that many children’s writers have faced rejection.  For instance, Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was rejected multiple times.  J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was rejected 12 times.  She reminds all of us:  Never accept rejection. Perseverance is key.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Getting Gutsy

A few weeks ago, my family and I took a vacation to Carter Caves State Resort Park, about ninety miles east of Lexington, Kentucky.  We planned to hike, go caving, and ride horses.  The first day was stormy, so we opted to go into one of the caves.  Inside, it was cool and damp.  As our guide flashed his light upward, we marveled at bats nestling on the ceiling and at the knobby stalactites hanging overheard.  We sloshed deeper into the cave, twisting and winding past limestone formations for about forty minutes until we ended near another opening, out into sunshine.  We decided to take advantage of the nice weather and hike into the forest.   

The trails were dry despite the earlier downpour.  On one path we discovered three natural stone bridges.  Along the way we encountered deer peering at us with frozen stares.  Though we never saw them, woodpeckers rapped tree trunks and rufous-sided towhees warbled “drink your tea.”  After the long hike, we headed for our cottage which cozied up to the edge of the forest.  Before going inside, we spotted a red bird that looked like a cardinal, but without the black facial marking.  I had a hunch that the brilliantly colored bird was a summer  tanager.

The next morning I sat outside on the deck with my breakfast.  I had a piece of paper handy to help me work out minor edits for my picture book story.  But I was stumped.  My muse had not bothered to show.  I'd write a sentence and then scribble it out.  So I put my pen down.  I gazed upon oaks leaves glistening with patches of sunlight.  Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a deer and a fawn foraging.  So peaceful, so quiet.  Then a  summer tanager flew to the railing.  I quickly stepped inside to grab a camera.  Just in time, I captured its image as it perched on my cereal bowl and then hopped to my plate to snatch morsels of blueberry muffin. 

Maybe this bird had humans figured out: getting gutsy gets a reward—a free meal. At that moment I realized that I too, had to get gutsy.  I had a deadline, (the end of summer) so I had to attempt to put something down, anything.  It didn't have to be perfect.  

I could have put off writing until my muse returned, but it wouldn't have been gutsy.  Gutsy means writing even when the muse is not present.   Getting a few words down was the goal.  Polishing them would come later.  Concentrating on moving forward was key.  And so I began.  The words did not flow,  but I managed just enough for a good start.  Those few words were my reward.  They led me closer to where I need to be.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Back Story of Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures

Clayton Paul Thomas has worked with kids for about 16 years from three different settings. The first was at St. Joseph Children’s Home. This was a place where abused kids went after being permanently separated from their parents. Most of his parenting skills were developed here. The kids Clayton worked with ranged from ages 3 to 15.
Afterwards, Clayton became an elementary public school teacher. He taught for 7½ years from 1st through 4th grade. Finally, Clayton has two boys (Cameron age 7 and Luke age 3). He has been married for 9 years to his beautiful wife Lauren. Though his parenting skills were learned at St. Joseph, his wife’s has been the inspiration to writing Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent Guide to Parenting in the 21st Century. To her, Clayton is eternally thankful. He looks forward to sharing insights with all of you. His website is:

Here's how Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures came about:
The back story ofTantrums, Troubles, and Treasuresis actually quite simple. My wonderful wife had watched how I interacted with children for years as a house parent at St. Joseph Children’s Home, and then as a teacher, and finally as the father of our two boys. Over the years, she’s even thrown parenting scenarios my way just to see how I would react. I used to think she did this to amuse herself. Well, as it turned out, she was impressed with the answers I would give and the reasons why I felt the way I did. 
It was also my wife who convinced me to write a book in order to share with others what I’d learned through working with children over the years—specifically what has worked for me and what hasn’t.  I also remember telling her how I wanted to frame the chapters: start with an inspiring quote, have the body of the chapter, and include short assignments to reinforce what I was teaching.  She really liked the idea. 

Brainstorming the book turned out to be a lot of fun. Stories of working with children came rushing back. The stories are entertaining, but each of them contain a teaching point. 

One of the things about this book is that it can be read like a reference book. For example, if a parent is having trouble with children who are argumentative, they can jump immediately to Chapter 16. The subject of bullying is clearly laid out in Chapter 19 for those who want to know how I’ve handled it. 

As is the case with many authors, writing the book was mostly allowing the book to write itself. My base of experiences is the strongest attribute. Many of the topics were chosen based on questions parents have asked me over the years and based on tremendous people I have worked with and learned from over the years as I watched how they’ve handled difficult situations.       

My hope is that anyone who reads the book is entertained,  but also develops some additional solid ideas they can use with their child. If anyone has questions after reading the book, I can be reached at 

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You can find out more about Clayton Paul Thomas’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Clayton Paul Thomas and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Clayton Paul Thomas will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour
In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Clayton about his book, parenting tips, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Clayton will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life.
The show will be live July 4, 2011 at 2pm EST (1pm Central, 12pm MST, and 11am PST). You can tune in at the World of Ink Network site at You can listen/call in at (714) 242-5259. (Note: if you can’t make the show, you can listen on demand at the same link.)
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit Stories for Children Publishing at:

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Back Story of Brush Barry Brush

Linda Valderrama R.D.H. has over 25 years experience as a dental hygienist. She has worked on patients from ages two to one hundred years old and has successfully developed preventative oral hygiene programs tailored to individual needs. Linda is a strong believer that good oral hygiene leads to good overall health and well-being.  She believes that good daily habits must be acquired early in life. Linda  is working towards developing programs for schools, assisted living facilities, and healthcare institutions to enable them to offer more effective oral hygiene programs.

Linda is a member of the American Dental Hygienists Association, the California Dental Hygienists Association, and the San Diego Dental Hygienists Society. Her book Brush Barry Brush was written to help parents and young children work together to achieve the simple but very important goal that every time you eat, you should brush your teeth.
                  Why did Linda write Brush Barry Brush? 

                                 Here's what she has to say:

I always felt my pediatric patients were my best chance at making a real impact on dental health--an opportunity to develop healthy habits that could last a lifetime. I have been a dental hygienist for over 25 years and have always particularly enjoyed working with children. They are the most fun and the most receptive. I have many patients whose teeth I have cleaned since age three. Some are now adults with kids of their own who have asked what exactly I did to get them to brush and to get the routine to stick. When enough people had asked about this, I was inspired to put my ideas to pen. Statistics show that 50% of the children have cavities even before they reach second grade. My goal is to make tooth brushing fun and empower children to prevent tooth decay. Ironically, I met Sudi Memarzadeh, a talented illustrator, at a bookstore. She was what really set everything into motion by giving life to the words I had written.

You can find out more about Linda Valderrama’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Valderrama and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Valderrama will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.
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