Friday, December 15, 2017

On the Telly

A few months ago, I was invited to be part of a program on local television. WTVQ in Lexington, Kentucky hosts a morning show called Good Day Kentucky.  Since I was going to partner with the Woodford Humane Society at the book signing of Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell, the marketing director of the animal shelter asked me to join her during her taping. 

Naturally, I was flattered.  Who could pass up this amazing advertising moment?  But deep inside, I was wondering what on earth have I done? I'm terribly shy.

Way back in high school, I actually enjoyed performing in plays and loved being in front of an audience.  But fast forward about forty years. Like the other dance classes at Dancers' Studio in Lexington, Kentucky, my ballet class would perform at the annual recital. I knew the routine perfectly. On the day of the performance however, I got stage fright. My feet literally stuck to the floor.  We're talking deer-in-the-headlights frozen. Luckily, in what seemed an eternity, I snapped out of it and fell back in line to finish the dance.

Since then, being in front of an audience makes me nervous. But people tell me to relax. They say being on television is no different than having a conversation with a friend. They say it's easy when you talk about what you love.  

I love Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell. It's a special book because it shows the value of  pet rescue and encourages young kids to solve problems and recognize peer pressure.  And that's what I tried to remember when I sat upon the yellow sofa greeted by Troy and  Katie.  Granted, I was terrified being on live TV, but the experience was worth it because I was able to show people how excited I was about my book.    

If you have the chance to be on television to promote your book, go for it.  Don't let shyness stand in your way.  It's difficult trying to find ways to market your work.  Embrace this amazing opportunity.   

Tips for preparing for a television spot:
  1.  Prepare questions for the host ahead of time
  2.  Practice your responses
  3.  Stand (or sit ) before a mirror as you practice your responses
  4.  Arrive early and check in with the the receptionist.
  5.  Be aware that the host may not follow the script
  6.  Stay focused and listen 
  7.  Make sure the host mentions the title of your book
  8.  Look at the host, not the camera  
  9.  Be excited about your book (let it show in your voice)
 10. Women:  wear a little eye makeup and lipstick 
 11. Dress comfortably.  Wear solid colors, no patterns 
 12. Try to relax and smile 
 13. Have someone help you get miked  
 14. Have fun


Friday, December 1, 2017

10 Tips for a Successful Book Signing

On November 25th, I was invited to Joseph Beth Book Sellers for Small Business Saturday. 
Ten authors participated.  We were set up in a semi-circle near the back of the store.  

Most of the authors kept to themselves and sat quietly behind their tables.  After the event, I was shocked to learn that most of the writers only sold one or two books.  

I sold a good number of books.  Here's what I did that helped make the difference.

 1.   Emailed invitations to friends.
 2.   Sent Facebook invitations to local acquaintances.
 3.   Created an eye-catching display.
 4.   Stood in front of the table the entire time.  Yep, achy   
       feet were worth it. 
 5.   Gave away stuffed animals when three books were 
 6.   Handed out bookmarks to passersby. 
 7.   Talked to people about the local connection (a rescue 
       dog named Charlie) and showed them his gorgeous  
       picture in the back of the book.
 8.   Thanked people for coming. 
 9.   Ordered a "Budsies" doll of Maggie for the display
10.  Tied into the dog theme by using water bowls filled
       with candy.

I'm not a salesperson, but I do know you have to plan ahead.  You have to get creative.  Selling books is hard work, but if you put forth some effort, you will find success.     

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

What People are Saying about Maggie

There is nothing better than reading an awesome picture book to a child. Here are some of my favorites:

Caps for Sale, Esphyr Slobodkina
Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems
The Little Engine that Could, Watty Piper 
Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Suess

And of course

What makes Maggie awesome? Here's what some people are saying— 

Jen Isbell, Pet Friends Magazine
I reviewed this book for my website and I really loved it! It teaches kids what's really important in life - and that quite often comes in the package of four furry paws!

Elizabeth Tippingbook reviewer
Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell is a wonderfully-written picture book. My little one saw the cover and begged to read it with me. She was very engaged as we read, telling Maggie what she should and should not do, expressing affection in response to pictures of Trooper, and exclaiming her surprise at certain points in the book.

I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Doris Settleswriting instructor and editor 
Would have been 5* if there had been a bit of foreshadowing as she cuddles up with her pup. As a rescue dog enthusiast, this is a wonderful book to teach children about special needs dogs and caring for the rest of the world. Teaches how fancy, expensive, weird experiences aren't the only ones that matter. Caring for a hurt dog and having family time with grandparents is just as important...and perhaps more so! Illustrations are lovely...very ethereal and imaginative, especially the teacher's red shoes! Excellent job and highly recommend.

Anjali Amit, book reviewer
Very successfully the author weaves a story of love and caring, of giving up and receiving. Maggie’s family chooses to forgo the vacation to rescue a dog lying by the roadside. Every choice has a consequence. So much to learn from such a simple story. Young 4-8 years old will enjoy the tale, their parents will talk of problem-solving, compassion, care for animals.  

Here's how you get your very own amazing copy: or 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Please Write a Review

Did you know book reviews directly influence the sale of books?  That's why it's so important to get reviews.  However, as an author, getting reviews are easier said than done.

I've asked friends, family, work acquaintances, classmates, picture book bloggers, and the list goes on and on.  

Many have taken the time to read Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell and post an Amazon review.  And for that, I'm sincerely honored and grateful. 

So, dear followers.  Please leave a comment or email and request a free copy of Maggie.  One or two sentences is all you'd need to write. 

Some people are not sure what to say and that holds them back.  Have no fears.  It's easy:  write if you liked (or disliked) the story, the themes, or the illustrations.  Write about  the discussion guide or Charlie's story which appears at the end of the book.  Write if you think kids will like the book. 

It can't be stressed enough the value of reviews, and for this reason, this blog post will be published on the Children's Writer's World Blog, too.  This message bears repeating.

I urge you to reach out, not only to me but to other authors.  Write a review.  The instructions are easy and can be found here:

Please know that your words are important.  Even a few words can make a huge difference.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Scenes from a Book Signing

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell book signing 
was a HUGE success.

Here are some of my favorite photos:

Meeting young fans
and even younger fans

and meeting friends 


and more friends.  

Thank you to everyone who stopped by Joseph Beth's.  
Your smiles and hugs meant the world to me.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book signing

For those who are unable to join the festivities, 
you can still meet Maggie.
Order the book from Amazon.  
Or, get an autographed copy at 

And check back on the Maggie Project...
we hope to post pictures of the event!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Maggie's Dog

Isn't he adorable?  

 Charlie is the model for Maggie's dog Trooper in Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  

His remarkable story is included as well as a discussion guide. 

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell 
is now available! 

You can purchase Maggie at Amazon or get an autographed copy at 

Friday, August 25, 2017



the story of a little girl and the rescue dog that changed her life

I’m excited to announce the release of my debut children’s book 
Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.

Meet Maggie, a spunky little girl in Ms. Madison’s first grade class. 
Featuring whimsical illustrations by Italian artist Emiliano Billai, here comes a heart-warming story for kids ages four to eight and pet lovers of all ages.

Get to know Maggie by clicking on this link:  Meet Maggie

You can take her home through   Click here  

If you would like an autographed copy, contact me at my website:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Italian artist Emiliano Billai works his magic on the pages of 
Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell 
tentative release date: August 24, 2017

Check out the jazzy website for more details: 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Maggie Book Launch

The Maggie Book Launch is underway!

  We have a terrific team that is creating buzz for Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  This children's picture book is illustrated by the amazingly talented Emiliano Billai.   

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell is for ages 4 - 8 
and will be available in August.


To the Maggie Book Launch Team:

I am honored that you've joined me on this journey.  Thank you for spreading the word about Maggie.  

Amy Miller

Geary Smith

Sharon Blumberg 

Agnes Zimmer

Jennifer Provost

Rosa L'amour

Kim DeCoste

Betsy Lang

Sarah Kazenmeir

Andrea Kay

Kris Swoveland

Karen Kearney Sheetz 

For more information, visit: 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Give 'em a Problem

Want to get an agent interested in your children's story?  Give the protagonist a problem. This is what drives the plot.  Sure, you can write a piece for kids that has a lyrical language and a beautiful setting.  But without a problem, readers won't root for the main character.  There is no conflict.  The protagonist has nothing to go after or achieve.  

There are four types of story conflict:  person vs. person, person vs. self, person vs. nature, and person vs. society. Harry Potter vs. Voldermort is an example of person vs. person conflict.  In the book  Number the Stars,  the conflict falls into the last category.  For more examples, click on this link:

The best children's literature contains a problem that kids can relate to and understand.  It's important that the protagonist finds a way to deal with it. In the end, she must not rely on parents, adults, or friends to help her.  She must solve the problem by herself.

In my upcoming book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell, the protagonist is Maggie. She's a bit like Charlie Brown, a kid down on her luck.  She has a big problem at school.  She's the only kid in her class who has nothing to bring for show-and-tell.  Maggie's conflict is person vs. self.

Maggie thinks out loud and comes up with unrealistic outrageous solutions. Midway through the story, she is filled with self-doubt and begins to lose hope.  This is a big deal for Maggie.  She doesn't want to come to class embarrassed and empty-handed.  

When there is conflict, your story has a better chance of attracting an agent.  Agents know that readers want to care about the main character. Readers want to learn how the problem is going to be solved. 

And Maggie's problem?  What is she going to do?

You can find out what happens to Maggie this summer.  Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell will be released in August.  

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Finding Reviewers

Clueless.  Nervous.  That's how I felt when my editor told me I would need to find reviewers for my upcoming book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  I had never done this before.  But that's no excuse.  It was time to figure it all out.

Since I'm a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, I turned to the SCBWI book reviewers directory, a comprehensive reliable source.  As I studied the directory, I made a list of reviewers who accepted picture books.  Next, I visited their websites to learn more about their submission policies.

Afterwards, I goggled "reviewers and picture books."  Some of these reviewers like Publisher's Weekly, The Picture Book Review, and New Pages were added those to my list.  Then, I began to fine-tune the list based on three points.  First, a reviewer could not charge a fee. Secondly, the reviewer must guarantee a timely and a fair review. Lastly, reviewers had to have updated websites.

You might think that's all there is to it.  List completed.  But there's one more step.  I learned that an author should comment on a reviewer's website.  So, once a week I read the reviewer's blogs and try to leave a comment.  This step is all about making connections. 

For now, there are about fifteen to twenty reviewers on my list.  My publisher Saturn's Moon Press will probably step in as well, because some reviewers require that the publishing house, not the author, send an advanced copy of the book for review.

Clueless?  Nervous?  Yes, but not as much as when I first started.  I'm still learning.  However, the more I read about reviewers and connect with them, the more confident I'll be when it's time to get reviews.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Official Bookmark

Drum roll please...


The Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell Bookmark

Making the bookmark was fun, but challenging.  I needed to think about spacing, fonts, text color, and overall design.  This took multiple trials, trying to get it just right and weighing the opinions and suggestions of my family. 

I hope the fans of The Maggie Project like the bookmark.  We hope to include it with the purchase of the book which will be released this summer.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Timeline from Creation to Publication

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell was conceived in 2011.  Ever since signing the book contract, I've kept a record of the steps taken to prepare for the release of Maggie.  

Below chronicles the journey of a debut picture book.   

Wrote the first version of Maggie 2011
Edited, edited, edited and submitted from 2012 - 2015 
Shelved the manuscript for a year 2015 - 2016
Re-edited 2016
Queried late Oct. 2016

Connecting with a publisher:  Fall and Winter 2016
Received an e-mail from an interested publisher:  Nov. 3
Sent an e-mail to thank publisher:  Nov. 3
Spoke to publisher:  Nov. 10
Signed contract:  Nov. 11

Promoting: Winter and Spring 2017
Edited and embellished ending of the story:  Dec. 11
Created a bio and head shot: Dec. 11
Developed a website:  Dec. 15
Studied book signing and how to market the book: Dec. 15 - 30
Wrote two articles about rejection/publication: Jan.  5 - 18
Studied illo styles to give publisher the vision of the book: Jan. 19
Looked at three illustrator's renderings of the character Maggie:  Feb.1
Chose an illustrator*:  Feb. 6
Looked for reviewers:  Feb. 9
Read about school visits:  Feb. 13 -  17  
Created a discussion guide; reviewed the first illustrations:  Mar 1 - 30 
Published articles about Maggie in writer's magazines:  March
Designed gifts for giveaways: April
Guest blogged for other writer's blogs:  April
Had guest bloggers on Apr/May

WHEW!  There's been a lot going on!  And as we look forward to a release date this summer, there will be lots more to do.  Stay tuned to find out the next steps in preparing for the launch of Maggie.  

*I have the honor of working with the creative director in making decisions about the illustrations.  Not every publishing house follows this policy.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Sneak Peak of Maggie

Here is a sneak peak of Maggie.  I am honored to be working with Creative Director Melissa Carrigee and illustrator Emiliano Billai.

Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell will be available this summer at Cactus Moon Publishing, Amazon, and other online retailers.

Thank you to my husband and daughter
and friends and writers for their wholehearted support. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Maggie and Trooper

When I write for children, most of my stories feature an animal as the main character. My characters are based on the four-legged creatures that I've read about or the animals that I've known and love.  In my upcoming children's book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell one of the main characters is a dog called Trooper.

Trooper is based on a lovable dog called Charlie (check out his adorable picture to the right).  Charlie belongs to a good friend of mine. His coat is warm brown and and eyes full of expression that say "come give me a hug." On our first meeting, Charlie gave me with lots of wet kisses.  With his big loving personality I knew he'd make a perfect character for one of my stories.

The other character in the book is a little girl named Maggie.  Unlike Trooper, Maggie is purely invented.  She popped into my head (more like barged in) when I began to write the story about Trooper.  Maggie is a kind of Charlie Brown-like character, a woe is me, down on her luck kind of kid.  Every time I sat down to write, her voice was loud and clear.  It wasn't long before Maggie told me she wanted to be Trooper's owner.

In my book, these two characters interact naturally which is pretty cool given that one character is based on something real and the other character is invented.  Both characters have a problem. One problem has a good chance of being resolved, the other situation cannot be resolved.

Yet despite the problems, there's this chemistry, a real devotion between the two that brings magic to the story.  So, you may have surmised that one of the themes of the story is love.

Now that you know a little about the characters, I invite you to meet Trooper and Maggie this summer.  You will be able to see how their personalities play off one another in a story that is sad, funny, and joyous.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Getting a Start on Marketing

Last December I signed a book contract with Cactus Moon Publishing.  The creative director suggested that I get started marketing my book right away. Yikes!  Though I have been a children's writer for over twenty years, I didn't know much about marketing a book for kids. The only thing I knew was promoting a book should be done well before the release date.

Over the Christmas break, I started working on a marketing plan for my upcoming children's book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show and Tell which will be released this summer.  
My publisher sent me a helpful marketing guidelines book.
I also studied websites on marketing.  Here's one of my favorite sites:    

This is what's been done:  

Developed a website (
Joined Linked In
Created an email list 
Became a guest blogger   
Got featured in writer's newsletters
Invited writers to guest blog
Joined Goodreads 
Began commenting on blogs
Wrote how-to articles
Created a media alert letter

Here's what will need to get done:  

Create a business cards 
Create bookmarks
Create a testimonial page 
Create a fan page on Facebook
Work on planning book signings and school visits
Ask to be interviewed by the local paper and local radio host

Marketing a children's book is overwhelming to me.  Writing is all I've ever known. But I'm eager to learn and I'm ready for the challenge.  If you've had some experience or have ideas on getting the word out about a book, I welcome for your suggestions and comments.