Category Archives: New Book

Virtual Book Blast: Laws of Nature by Jacqui Murray #newrelease #prehistoric fiction

I’m delighted to have my exercise buddy Jacqui Murray on my blog. Jacqui and I use Strava to track our exercise, cheer and give kudo to each other.

Today Jacqui will share with us about her new release Laws of Nature, book 2 of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy. Please join me to welcome Jacqui and help her celebrate the great success of her research-based prehistorical fiction.

Laws of Nature: A boy blinded by fire. A woman raised by wolves. An avowed enemy offers help.

On the right side of Jacqui’s blog, she has scheduled the publication of her next four books in 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2026. Have you wondered how she could keep up the schedule?

I asked her to share with us about her writing day, and here is her answer.

My Writing Day By Jacqui Murray

Much of my day is spent writing, either freelance articles, client reviews, guest posts, or working on one of my many fiction and nonfiction WIP. Any leftover time goes to marketing what I’ve written–trying to get the word out to as many people as possible. That includes outreach, responding to inquiries, interactions with fellow writers, and exploring new marketing channels.

Since I work out of my house, I like to break my day into three parts:

morning

afternoon

evening

I consign tasks to each portion of the day, stopping for lunch and dinner and a few breaks to pet the dog. Because I’m not writing to a deadline (as is required by agents or publishers), I don’t count words like some writing efriends. I count what I get done.

Here’s a rough list of tasks that I sprinkle throughout my writing week:

  • review for edtech websites I work with
  • updates on existing edtech manuscripts, books
  • a monthly article for #IWSG–the Insecure Writer’s Support Group
  • ongoing work on the next Man vs. Nature book
  • research for a future book
  • write about eight posts a week on my three blogs, WordDreams, Ask a Tech Teacher, and USNA or Bust
  • reviews of books I get from NetGalley and much less often Amazon Vine

Here’s what a typical day breaks out as:

5 am–wake up

5:30–read for fun, caffeinate myself, catch up on news with husband

6:30–answer emails and SM

9:00–take a walk; Miriam Hurdle (over at The Showers of Blessings) and I cheer each other on with an app she introduced me to called Strava

9:30–work on my next book

11–lunch

Noon–3:30–work on current ms, reviews for edtech websites or writing outlets

1 pm–coffee break–to perk me up!

3:30-5:00–reading for fun and research

5:00–dinner

5:30-7–Posts, marketing

Every 15-30 minutes, I take a break to walk around the house, check the yards, visit husband, or anything to get me out of my chair and moving.

If you’re curious about the daily schedules of other writers, here’s an article on the daily routines of twelve famous writers, one by a NYT best-selling author, and an interesting personal narrative by a cooperative writer.

Summary

In this second of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, the first trilogy in the Man vs. Nature saga, Lucy and her eclectic group escape the treacherous tribe that has been hunting them and find a safe haven in the famous Wonderwerk caves in South Africa. Though they don’t know it, they will be the oldest known occupation of caves by humans. They don’t have clothing, fire, or weapons, but the caves keep them warm and food is plentiful. But they can’t stay, not with the rest of the tribe enslaved by an enemy. To free them requires not only the prodigious skills of Lucy’s unique group–which includes a proto-wolf and a female raised by the pack–but others who have no reason to assist her and instinct tells Lucy she shouldn’t trust.

Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

Book information:

Title and author: Laws of Nature

Series: Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Editor: The extraordinary Anneli Purchase

Available print or digital) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU  Kindle India

Author bio:

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman , the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.

Social Media contacts:

Amazon Author Page:   https://www.amazon.com/Jacqui-Murray/e/B002E78CQQ/

Blog:                                        https://worddreams.wordpress.com

Instagram:                                https://www.instagram.com/jacquimurraywriter/

LinkedIn:                                 http://linkedin.com/in/jacquimurray

Pinterest:                                  http://pinterest.com/askatechteacher

Twitter:                        http://twitter.com/worddreams

Website:                                   https://jacquimurray.net

Thank you so much for your visit. We appreciate your generous comment!

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Book Review – The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by Diana Wallace Peach

I’m delighted to share my review of The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by Diana W. Peach. The book cover intrigued me when Diana first revealed it. She then announced the book release and posted the trailer on her blog. She is the master of trailer creation. I loved it. Diana’s books kept me up at night. I read The Ferryman and the Sea Witch almost in one sitting, only one and a half chapters short of finishing because I promised my hubby to watch the Netflix series with him. We watched until midnight. After he went to sleep, I was tempted to get up to finish the chapters but didn’t because I would want to write the review right after that.

The story is sensational, the language is beautiful, like music playing on the harp.

About the book

Blurb

The merrow rule the sea. Slender creatures, fair of face, with silver scales and the graceful tails of angelfish. Caught in a Brid Clarion net, the daughter of the sea witch perishes in the sunlit air. Her fingers dangle above the swells.

The queen of the sea bares her sharp teeth and, in a fury of wind and waves, cleanses the brine of ships and men. But she spares a boy for his single act of kindness. Callum becomes the Ferryman, and until Brid Clarion pays its debt with royal blood, only his sails may cross the Deep.

Two warring nations, separated by the merrow’s trench, trade infant hostages in a commitment to peace. Now, the time has come for the heirs to return home. The Ferryman alone can undertake the exchange.

Yet, animosities are far from assuaged. While Brid Clarion’s islands bask in prosperity, Haf Killick, a floating city of derelict ships, rots and rusts and sinks into the reefs. Its ruler has other designs.

And the sea witch crafts dark bargains with all sides.

Callum is caught in the breach, with a long-held bargain of his own which, once discovered, will shatter this life.

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Ferryman-Sea-Witch-Wallace-Peach-ebook/dp/B095J5X8DW

My Review

Diana Wallace Peach’s The Ferryman and the Sea Witch is a well-constructed fantasy world with implications of reality. Her writing is beautiful and poetic. The leaders of the two countries had the power to defeat and overcome each other. Their needs and limitations held them back from exerting their power. They also didn’t want to jeopardize something of life and death of their own in the destruction of other countries. In order to keep the peace, the two countries traded infant hostages as a commitment until the prince and princess turned 16 years old. The time finally came, and Callum was the one who could do the swapping.

Brid Clarion’s officers captured a merrow, the Sea Watch Panmar’s daughter, in the mesh. Callum, the ferryman, demanded to free her, but the captain refused. The Sea Witch and merrow came in a swell to rescue. Finally, the caption allowed Callum to cut through the net. The Sea Witch’s silver tail splashed the swell, and her fin ripped the ship, which sank to the Deep.

Callum survived. The Sea Witch’s daughter died because Callum delayed in setting her free. Since Callum attempted to save her daughter, Panmar allowed him to be the only one to cross the Deep between the countries of Brid Clarion and Haf Killick. The punishment for Callum was that he couldn’t step on land, and the price for crossing was a human sacrifice until royal blood satisfied her vengeance.

The queen of Haf Killick Caspia gifted a ship to Callum because he was the only captain who could cross the merrow’s trench for the trade without wrecking. She needed the fruits, vegetables, cloth, and other livelihood items for her country and the return of her daughter. She wanted to kill Thayne, the king of Brid Clarion, and take over his country, but her ships couldn’t cross the Deep.

The king of Brid Clarion, Thayne, didn’t pay the royal blood to satisfy the Sea Witch’s vengeance and cost hundreds of lives of Brid Clarion and Haf Killick as sacrifices. He kept the trade going with Haf Killick because he needed the treasure from that country and the return of his son.

Diana W. Peach skillfully constructed the twists and turns of the story throughout the book. It surprised me to find out Callum had a secret that kept him going as the ferryman and negotiator for the bargains that Panmar, Thayne, and Caspia wanted. His secret was revealed gradually in the second half of the book. The secrets and deceits from the two countries toward each other motivated them to continue their dealings as long as they could. Panmar, the Sea Witch, was not a wicked witch who started evil. She exercised her power only when humans didn’t keep their bargains. Caspia was the worst evil and manipulator of all three leaders. She got away with almost every mistake she made.

It was their secrets that kept me turning the pages until the last chapter. I was satisfied with its surprising ending. You would be into a treat by reading this book.

Ratings: Amazon Goodreads

The Trailer

Meet Diana Wallace Peach

Best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Author Links:

Website/Blog: http://mythsofthemirror.com

Website/Books: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Myths-of-the-Mirror/187264861398982

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dwallacepeach

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Thank you for your visit and reading. We welcome your generous comment.

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Smorgasbord Children’s Reading Room – #Safety Miriam Hurdle, #Malta Darlene Foster, #Environment Kathleen Jae

I’m over at Sally’s blog in the Children’s Reading Room. Please head over to read the updates. It’s a wonderful place to meet children’s book authors and find out more about their delightful children’s and YA books.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Welcome to the Reading Room update with reviews for books on the shelves for children up to the age of twelve.

The first author with a review is Miriam Hurdle for her first children’s book Tina Lost in a Crowd t

About the book

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults…

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Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam Hurdle: A Children’s Book.

I’m over at Claire Fullerton’s blog. She is featuring Tina Lost in a Crowd with her delightful and insightful review. She also included Carla’s review from Carla Loves to Read. Please head over to visit her. While there, browse around to learn more about her many awarding-winning books

Claire Fullerton Author

Book Description:

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.

My review of this delightful children’s book:

Third grader, Tina Tyler, looks forward to summer. It is the last day of classes, and she has had such a great school year that…

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Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories by Denise L. Finn – New Release Tour

I’m excited to have Denise L. Finn on my blog to share with you about her new release Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories. She’ll also share with you about her love of nature, the forest where she resides, and the facts about the redwood trees.

Thank you, Miriam for having me and the fairies here today to celebrate “Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories” release day!

Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories is set in a place I adore. I have a deep love of nature and have lived in the forest for 31 years. Although, I visit the ocean often, as it still calls to me. I have considered living in the trees above the sea… maybe someday. Redwood forests have always felt magical to me, and anytime I can visit one, I do.

For Mother’s Day 30 years ago, I received a sequoia tree to add to our forest. It has grown faster than I expected, and with it comes that redwood/sequoia magic that is so strong in my story.

STUNNING Redwood National Park (Guide + Award-Winning Film)

Here are some redwood tree facts:

1. They can grow to over 200 feet tall.

2. They are believed to have been around in California for over 20 million years.

3. There are redwoods over 2000 years old still standing.

4. They are resistant to insects, fires, and rot.

5. There are three types of redwood trees: Dawn Redwood, Giant Sequoia, and Coastal Redwood (this is the one in my story.)

Fun Finn Facts:

  1. The forest sounds at night from foxes and mountain lions are chilling.
  2. I’ve driven through a giant redwood.

Blurb:

When reality and magic meet in the forest

It’s 1969, and twelve-year-old Daniel Burns is camping in the redwood forest with his family. Danny wants to listen to his music and read, but his family has other plans. S’mores around the campfire and stories end their first day. The family is sleeping soundly in their secluded tent when Danny wakes up and finds his sister, Colette, is missing. Assuming she went to use the outhouse, he goes after her. When he finds his sister, they discover there is a thin veil between reality and fantasy.

Two bonus short stories offer a glimpse into the magical world that finds Danny and Colette. These hidden beings not only share our world but have a role in protecting their forest.

Excerpt:

“I had a dream about them,” I replied before I could stop myself.

Colette was studying the treetops like she was hoping to find fairies.

Dad tossed me another marshmallow. “Tell us about it, Danny.”

I pushed the dirt around with my sneaker. “I don’t think—”

“Please! For me? Pretty please with sugar on top!” Colette’s eagerness was contagious.

“It’s just a dream, but I guess I could try to tell it like a story. You know, because we’re around the campfire and all.”

“Good idea! Thank you for sharing this with us.” Mom’s smile gave me the courage I needed.

“Well, okay, but don’t expect much. I’m not a writer like you.” I cleared my throat and finished my cherry Kool-Aid. The silence was heavy with expectation, which made my palms sweat, but part of me wanted them to hear this. So, I took a deep breath and started. “There is a forest where the fairies live in the trees. No one sees them except the squirrels and birds. Until one day, this boy and his family were camping in the woods. The boy went off by himself while wishing he had his tunes to listen to on his new radio. Bummed, he sat down below one of those giant redwood trees.

“He hung out for a while, watching two squirrels run up and down a tree. A nearby stream and a bird’s tune lulled him to sleep until a small branch hit his nose, waking him up. Rubbing his nose, he looked around and saw a bird directly above him. He shrugged and sank back against the tree and fell asleep again.

“Another branch hit him, startling him awake. This time there was no bird, so it had to be a squirrel. The sun had set, and the moon was rising. Soon it would be dark. He knew it was time to get back to his campsite, but he heard humming coming from above as he got up.

“He squinted and tilted his head back. All that he could see were needles, branches, and a darkening sky. He turned to head back to camp when a female voice began singing. It was beautiful, like he imagined an angel’s voice would sound, but he couldn’t understand the words. That’s when he saw the colors and thought they were dragonflies until they got within a few feet of his face. They were tiny, humanlike beings with silver wings. He almost fainted when the green one spoke to him.

“‘Hello . . .’ I reached out to her, and then I woke up, so that’s the end.”

Tree Fairies and Their Short Stories by [D.L. Finn]

Purchase Links:

Amazon

SMASHWORDS

Author Bio:

D. L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 she relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to Nevada City, in the Sierra foothills. She immersed herself in reading all types of books but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations include adult fiction, poetry, a unique autobiography, and children’s books. She continues on her adventure with an open invitation to all readers to join her.

D.L. Finn Links:

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

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Thank you so much for your visit to support Denise and

her excitement of the new release.

We welcome your lovely comments!

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Saturday Morning for Kids: Tina Lost in a Crowd #BookReview @mhurdle112

I’m over at Carla’s blog “Carla Loves to Read.” She read Tina Lost in a Crowd to her grandchildren and reviewed the book. Please head over to read this review and other information about books and reviews on her lovely blog.

Carla Loves To Read

This meme was started by Rae Longest at Powerful Women Readers. As I am a grandmother, who loves to read to her grandchildren, a mother who loved to read to and with her children, and a retired teacher librarian, this meme really attracted me. If you love children’s books, or have a favourite from your childhood, join us in introducing them to a new generation of readers.


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Amanda in Malta by Darlene Foster – New Release Tour

I’m excited to have Darlene Foster on my blog to share with you about her new release Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8). When Amanda turned twelve, she made a wish as she blew the birthday cake candles. Here she is with her wishes come true – traveling all over the world.

I was curious about writing the Amanda series, so I asked Darlene to share with you her experience.

Is it difficult to write a series?

Writing a series can be fun. I love getting to know the main characters, Amanda Ross and her friend Leah Anderson. But I worry that the stories might get too predictable. I know my readers expect some things to be familiar, but each book needs to come with something new to keep it fresh and entertaining.

Coming up with new settings is easy for me as I love to travel. I often travel with an Amanda adventure in mind, taking tons of notes and pictures to be referred to later when writing the story. Coming up with a storyline that is original and exciting is not always easy.

A few things that have helped me get new ideas:

● Hanging out with young people to learn what they get excited about. I get many of my ideas from young people.

● Watching TV shows and movies that feature kids, but not necessarily kids’ shows. I once got a great idea while watching Midsommer Murders!

● Reading lots of books in a variety of genres including the classics as well as recently published novels, both adult and children´s books.

● Reading newspapers and magazine articles. I clip and save interesting and bizarre stories and go through the stack of clippings once in a while. There is usually something that will pop out and generate a new idea or two.

● Listening to conversations in coffee shops, on the bus, on the street, on the beach – wherever. Conversations between adults, kids, or teenagers can inspire excellent ideas. I have become great at eavesdropping.

● Asking “what if” often. What if Amanda did something she knew she shouldn’t? What if a character said something they wouldn’t normally say?  What if she walked down that alley? What if…?. Sometimes a character has to do something out of character to keep it interesting.

● Making sure every book tackles at least one new problem or issue.

● Introducing intriguing new characters in each book. Even minor characters can create interest and keep the series from getting stale.

● Bringing back a character from a previous book. I introduced Caleb, Amanda´s classmate, in the New Mexico book. He was so popular that he has returned in the Malta book.

● Being consistent in the details can be a challenge. A good memory helps, as do notes. I had Amanda wearing glasses in the first book and I don’t think I mentioned them in the next two! I have a list of all the characters names to be sure I don´t accidentally change any.

My Review

The twelve-year-old Amanda is a world traveler who visited an exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean. It came as a surprise when she received a postcard from her best friend Leah asking her to come to Malta, hinting there was something wrong. She did not know how to get to Malta from Canada. Her friend Caleb and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sorensen, were going on a vacation in Malta and would like Amanda to come along.

After arriving in Malta, Amanda went to find the house according to the address from the postcard but was told Leah was not there. It was like in some detective story that a mystery boy slipped a piece of paper written with lipsticks into her pocket, urged her to try again. It turned out that Leah asked this boy, Max, to connect with Leah to meet at St. Lucian Tower. The Sorensens wanted to go to a museum. While they toured the cave, Amanda went to the Tower and saw Leah. Leah revealed that the people in the house where they stayed wanted her aunt to steal an ancient figurine of Sleeping Lady.

I find that Darlene’s book is educational for middle schoolers and adults. I followed the tour along and learned many interesting facts about this island.

· Ghar Dalam means ‘cave of darkness’ and It is over 500,000 years old. It holds evidence of the first humans on the island, such as Neanderthal teeth, from 7,400 years ago.

· The Falconry Center has many rescued birds. Maltese falcon is called the peregrine falcon, known for its speed, it can reach over 320 kilometers per hour or 200 miles per hour.

· the Knights of St. John built The St. John Cathedral in 1572. As each knight gained wealth, he and his family donated art and decorations. The inlaid marble graves showed many knights were buried here.

· The 1980 Robert Williams’ Popeye movie was filmed in Malta.

Amanda’s crime adventure weaved through the sightseeing and the historical facts made this reading interesting and enjoyable. I highly recommend this book.

Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady (An Amanda Travels Adventure Book 8) by [Darlene Foster]

The Blurb:

 Amanda receives a postcard from her best friend, Leah, and is surprised to learn that she is in Malta with her aunt. Reading between the lines, she senses Leah is in trouble. Desperate to help her, Amanda travels to Malta with her classmate Caleb and his parents.


Amanda is intrigued by this exotic island in the middle of the Mediterranean, full of colorful history, sun-drenched limestone fortresses, stunning beaches and fascinating birds. But…who is killing the protected birds? Who stole a priceless artifact from the museum? And why is Leah acting so strange? She couldn’t possibly be involved in these illegal activities, or could she?

Join Amanda and her friends as they visit ancient temples, an exciting falconry and the enchanting Popeye Village, as they try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Sleeping Lady.

Be sure to read all the books in this exciting Amanda Travels series!
1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask
2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting
3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel
4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone
5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind
7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action
8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady

The buy links

Amazon Canada here  

Amazon UK here   

Amazon US here 

Barnes and Noble here 

Chapters/Indigo here  

About the Author

Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories about a young girl who travels to interesting places. Over the years she worked in rewarding jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, writing whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a house in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she enjoys spending time with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.

Contact the Author at:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/DarleneFosterWriter

Twitter https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Blog https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

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Thank you for reading this post. We love to hear about your thoughts.

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Children’s Illustrated Books

I have joined 28 authors to promote the Children’s Books and Art on Book Funnel. Check them out to find some fun and delightful books for your kids, grandkids, or relatives.

Click the link to browse. I hope you’ll find some interesting books.

https://books.bookfunnel.com/moreillustratedbooks/rrevjw42o3

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If you’re interested in promoting your children’s books, here is the link for the sales promotion. There are other promotions also on the left panel of this page.

https://dashboard.bookfunnel.com/bundles/board/hbxp5c30k5

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The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd – Recap

During the New Release Tour last week, I shared a segment of The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd on each day. Even though I had produced children’s literature as a full-time job in the past, making this book was the first time I orchestrated the entire production by myself with online services along the process. It was an adventure and a valuable experience. I recorded when and how things were done and documented it each step of the way. When I planned for the book release tour, I wanted to share something about the book with you. By the time I finished preparing, it covered the writing, editing, illustrating, formatting, and publishing.

My wonderful hosts not only hosting the tour but also reviewing the book. I’m so grateful for your tremendous support. Many of you had followed along the tour to cheer on. Some of you related your experiences about being lost as a child or losing your child briefly when he/she was a kid. I shared with you I got lost in a cathedral on a Spain tour a few years ago. Every tour group looked the same to me. I was afraid that they left without me. Fortunately, I spotted my 6’4″ husband and hurried to rejoin the group, pretending nothing had happened.

~ ~ ~

I would like to share with you this recap of the seven parts of Tina Lost in a Crowd with an introduction.

Why I Write Children’s Book?

My experience of writing the children’s books was when, at age 26, I worked in Hong Kong as the Director of Children’s Department at Asian Outreach, which was a Christian literature publication company. They hired me to design and write children’s magazine for the fourth to sixth grades students. I modeled after a well-established local children’s magazine and wrote stories with Christian values.

This was the process we went through to publish the children’s magazines:

It was exciting to see my first magazine in print coming back to our office. I published four children’s magazines before leaving the office to come to the US.

The experience of working at the Asian Outreach was a great asset to my current publication of the children’s books.

The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd

Part 1 – When Did I Write the Tina Lost in a Crowd?

In 2006, I took an online writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature for a year. An instructor corresponded with me to provide feedback and suggestions on my assignments and revisions. The Institute also provided the marketing tools and an annual catalogue of 800 magazines accepting submissions. The goal of the course was to have my essays published.

The Institute suggested the children’s literature writers to observe the children. If the writers were not teachers or adults with young children at home, they could volunteer at the organizations such as library or Boy/Girl Scouts to get a first-hand experience to understand their behaviors and language.

At the time of taking the writing course, my interaction with the elementary school students was still fresh in my mind.

There were many fun memories of activities with my daughter, Mercy. I combined one story about Mercy, my understanding of the children’s behaviors, and the writing skills to write my first assignment entitled “Tina Goes to Hollywood Bowl.”

I kept the stories written during this course in a folder for many years. Early in year 2020, during the lockdown, I revised the Tina story to prepare for publication.

Part 2 – The Story Behind the Story Tina Lost in a Crowd

The story of Tina Lost in a Crowd is partly based on fact. When my daughter Mercy was eight years old, my sister Yolanda, her husband Patrick, and their son Enoch, who was Mercy’s age, came from Hong Kong to visit us. We took them on tours in northern and southern California. One activity was going to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. I drove the five of us to Rowland Heights Regional Park, then we took the Park & Ride bus to the Hollywood Bowl.

The sky was dark with bright stars when the concert started. Mercy and Enoch swayed side to side when they listened to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and smiled at each other. During the intermission, Patrick left his seat to buy some popcorn. Mercy and Enoch wanted to use the restroom. Yolanda and I urged them to catch up with Patrick.

Later, when Patrick came back without them, I panicked. Imagine losing 8-year-old kids in a crowd of 18,000 people. How would I find them? Yolanda and Patrick stayed in their seats while

I followed the descending steps between the sections of seats to where I thought they could had gone.

I found them standing against a wall! It was such a relief, but I was curious about what made them stand there. “Were you scared?” I asked them.

“Not too scared,” Mercy said, “I learned from the Girl Scouts that if I get lost, I should stay at one spot to wait for the adults to find me.”

This was one of my fondest memories. I asked Mercy, “Should I write a story about this experience?” She answered me with no hesitance, “Of course!”

Part 3 – The Ideas and Messages of the Story

Did you like Aesop’s Fables? I did when I was a child. When I read them to my students, they would shout with me at the end of the fable “the moral of the lesson is…”

Other than Aesop’s Fable, most of the children’s books don’t spell out the lessons. In fact, even when the story has a message for children, it doesn’t need to make it loud and clear. The children are reading the story to have fun.

There are ideas and messages in Tina Lost in a Crowd: Tina took part in decision making for the summer activities such as swimming and a sleepover. She asked permission to invite her friend to go to the concert. She made a right decision when she and Erica got lost in a crowd, which was a safety issue.

Children are smart, they read for fun, and they learn the messages on their own term. It would be interesting to have a discussion with the children after they read a book.

Part 4 – Fine Tuning the Text for a Read-Aloud Book

When I revisited the Tina story, I wanted to do a picture book for easy readers of age five to nine. My research shows the word count for this grade-level range is 50-2,500 words. The final word count for this book is 2,000 words.

Tina Lost in a Crowd is a dialogue-based story. I used dialogue to show the plot, the relationship between all the characters, the actions, and emotions of the speakers.

Writers write picture books in a series of scenes, and each of which can be illustrated. Initially, I divided the content into sixteen scenes for the illustration, and the final story has twenty scenes. In this book, the text coordinates with the illustration. In fact, I wrote detailed descriptions to my illustrator so that even the gestures of the characters reflect the content. For instance, the character points at the sky in the illustration, and the text says: “Look at the stars…”. When reading the story, the readers can also refer to the details of the illustration.

The main character, Tina, finished third grade going to fourth grade. I remember my third-grade students with different reading levels. Among the third-grade students, there are easy to advance readers. Many of my students at this grade level still read picture books. According to grade level standards, they should have mastered the skills of “learning to read” and ready for “reading to learn” in the upper grades. Many third-grade students would find fun reading this book with perhaps a couple unfamiliar words such as Tchaikovsky and silhouette.

When I sent the manuscript to my editor, I let her know this book is for “reading to” and “reading with” children by the adults, as well as “reading by” the children independently. The flow of the text is good for a read-aloud book.

Part 5 – Finding an Illustrator

I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). On one blog post, it featured an illustrator and her work. I liked the style of her artworks, so I contacted her and got an idea of how much she would charge for the number of pages in my book and how long it would take to complete the job.

Some blogging friends recommended some websites with illustration services, and I checked them out. The illustrators charged by hours. They didn’t have a portfolio with sample artworks, so I couldn’t tell if I liked their style.

After much search and consideration, my decision was to search for an illustrator on fiverr.com. I could see the services they provide and their sample work. Some would provide limited, and some unlimited revisions.

I do watercolor painting and wish to illustrate my book, but I don’t do portrait painting. There are thousands of gigs out there, and it would take forever to scroll through all the pages to find one. I narrowed it down to watercolor, and children’s illustration, and got 660 services. It took me six months to find one I liked. I paid for one sample page and when I ordered the rest, it became part of my entire book.

After I accepted the sample page, I sent the story summary and the description of each page to her. Usually, she sent me a few sketches at a time. I gave her my feedback and suggestions. She revised them and sent them to me. Sometimes I respected her creativity and approved them. But if they didn’t correspond with the story, I asked for revisions until they were done to my satisfaction. It was a pleasant experience working with Victoria Skakandi.

Part 6 – Formatting a Picture Book, Illustrated Children’s Book

There are boxes of children’s books in the storage from my teaching days. I picked about ten books to study how they positioned the images and text. Some have bleed (the images flow over to the margin) and some without bleed. Some pages have text without images, and some have text layered over the images. My conclusion was to have the book fully illustrated with bleed, and have the text inserted over the images.

Formatting a picture book with bleed is a different story than without bleed. So, I hired a designer to do the job. He could insert the text for me, but I had a preference of the appearance.

After I received the pages of illustration from Victoria, I inserted one layer of white rectangular shape with round corner, then inserted another layer of text over the shape.

When I finished inserting the text, I created a file with the pages in a correct sequence for the designer to use as a reference. Then I sent this reference file and all the pages of the illustration to him to format for eBook and print book according to the requirements of Amazon and Barns & Nobel.

Note: I skipped many technical details. I can answer your questions if you’re interested.

Part 7 – Publish the Book on Amazon and Barns & Nobles

Amazon and Nobles have different formatting guidelines to publish the books. I would have been happy to have the book on Amazon alone. But I wanted to have a hardcover version. It’s good to have a hardcover version for young children, for the school libraries and public libraries. Personally, I wanted to have a hardcover version of this book.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) only has eBook and paperback, doesn’t have the option to publish hardcover books. Barns & Nobles has eBook, paperback, and hardcover. For this reason, I published the eBook and paperback on Amazon, and eBook and hardcover on Barns & Nobles. I may inquire if the local B&N would carry my book.

Will I Write More Children’s Book?

As I mentioned on the first day of this Book Tour that I took a writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature and wrote many stories. Tina Lost in a Crowd was the first story I revised and published. There are several stories based on my daughter Mercy’s activities as a child. I’ll revise them as the “Tina” stories.

There were other children’s stories in my folder, as well as new ideas for the children’s books. I’ll keep these options open.

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Thank you for reading this recap.

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Smorgasbord #Children’s Reading Room – Book #Review – Tina Lost in a Crowd by Miriam H. Hurdle

I’m excited that Sally Cronin features Tina Lost in a Crowd in her Children’s Reading Room with a fabulous review. Please head over to visit this post. While you’re there, browse around her other magazine features on nutrition, music, humor and a lot more.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Miriam Hurdlehas been on the shelves of the main Cafe and Bookstore for some years but now adds her new book Tina Lost in a Crowd to the shelves of the Children’s Reading Room.

About the book

Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?

This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children…

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