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NINJA COUSINS, now on Kindle too

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

NINJA COUSINS is now at the Kindle Store on amazon.  The cost is just $2.99!  The paperback is just $7.95, so either way a good deal.  Check it out!


This takes you to the publishers’ webpage for me.  There you can click the link to amazon or barnes & noble, and right to my book page for any of my books..

Newly Published: NINJA COUSINS

Friday, October 10th, 2014


My ten-year-old grandson Scott and I just published our first book together.  As with the CRYSTAL PALACE trilogy for which my granddaughter Karina was the illustrator, Scott is the illustrator for NINJA COUSINS.  In this chapter book, Scott with his two brothers and his cousin, find a strange device in the reeds around the lake near their grandparents’ home.  When it asks, “Where do you want to go?”, they respond, “To see Ninjas”, of course.  And off they go, whirling through time and space to Medieval Japan, to the land of the real Samurai and Ninjas!

They are surprised when the Emperor and Ninjas think they are Ninjas too, and expect them to prove it!  What to do?  They’ve never even held a ninja star!

NINJA COUSINS is a 60-page chapter book for boys.  Boys 5-9 would enjoy the story, whether read by themselves, or read to them.  Check it out on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or at my publisher website:  www.outskirtspress.com/ninjacousins.


Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I finally completed a draft for a new chapter book, THE NINJA COUSINS.  This book tells of the adventures of four boys (named after my grandsons, of course) who find a strange gadget in the reeds around the lake near their Grammy’s and Popi’s house.  This gadget looks like it came from outer space, and it has a screen with the words “Where do you want to go?”.  Of course, the boys can’t resist responding “To see ninjas,” and off they go, twirling through time and space to medieval Japan.

My oldest grandson Scott, nine, is the illustrator, following in his older sister Karina’s footsteps.  He is off to a good start with his first two drawings, with many more to come.  Watch for this to be published in the coming year.

The Crystal Palace trilogy now LIVE on Kindle!

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

All three books of the Crystal Palace trilogy are now live on kindle and available at the kindle store on amazon.com.  Each will sell for just $5, or on loan for free for amazon prime members.  Check them out…and please write a review on amazon.  Thanks.

New Ninja Book in the works!

Friday, September 21st, 2012

  THE NINJA BROTHERS was originally written as a picture book for my grandsons, and as a way to wrap my mind about the idea for a chapter book in the future.  Since I taught middle school history, including a unit on medieval Japan, I have ideas and details about that period of history to help me craft the book… a good start on the research needed.  Just as my granddaughter Karina (ages 8-11) was the illustrator for THE CRYSTAL PALACE trilogy, her brother, my grandson Scott (age 8 ) will illustrate the coming Ninja book.

Live on Kindle!

Friday, September 21st, 2012

THE CRYSTAL PALACE III:  THE FAIRY WAR is now on kindle, for use on iPads, etc., as well as kindles.  Putting it on there entailed careful editing, and figuring out how to make the Table of Contents go live was especially daunting.  Now, however, it is easy to click on it on the kindle store and have it downloaded to any computer, ipad, kindle, nook, etc.  Check it out!  Only $5.    (SEE LINK ON BLOG ROLL TO THE RIGHT)

Now I just have to remember how I did it and get the other two Crystal Palace books on kindle too.



Promotion, promotion, promotion!

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Writing a book is fun; promoting it is hard.  I thoroughly enjoy the creative aspects of writing.  Hmmmm, what plot point will add interest to the story?  How do I picture this character?  How to help the reader envision him/her too?  All that is a joy… I love it!

But then —  once the book is published, it will just sit on amazon.com or the publisher unless people know about it, to even consider buying it.  Unless you are already a famous author, with a following which waits eagerly for your next book, or have a publisher who thinks your book is the next Harry Potter, getting even noticed is a challenge.

So, what to do?  Blogging is supposed to be a way to get your name out there (if people know to go to your blog).  You can blog on literary websites and even on amazon.com.  If you do so enough, your name becomes familiar and other bloggers might check out your book.  It is advised to share your expertise about whatever it is you are writing, rather than to blatantly push your book.  That certainly would be helpful for non-fiction, if you have done research and have insights to share.  Not as clear in fiction.  Perhaps discussing character development or pacing or the plot arc, but it feels presumptuous of me to be advising other writers about such.  I used to teach creative writing in middle school, so I suppose I could share my teaching strategies about that.

Another strategy is to do book-readings/signings.  Again, if you are not already known, bookstores and libraries don’t jump at the chance to have you there, so you have to take the initiative in promoting yourself to them.  I have found the independent bookstores are more open, in fact often eager, to encourage new authors.  And it is enjoyable to meet your readers, or potential readers.  Since mine are children’s books, my book-readings are generally filled with children.  Children are  more attentive when they take an active part, so I usually do a “readers theater” book-reading in which different children in the audience take specific parts (characters or narrators) to read.  I have re-written an excerpt into play/script format, which works great.  After the reading, I usually talk about how I got my ideas for my stories (the kids always ask about that) and generally, my approach.  Some have written stories themselves and want to know how to get it published.  Again, because my audience is made up of children, I give out bookmarks to go with my books, sometimes even pages of the characters ready to be colored.

My most successful and engaging strategy has been leading creative writing workshops in elementary schools.  Focusing on third, fourth, and fifth grade students, my potential readers, I engage the students in readers’ theater and also in their own creative activities:  (1) illustrating a character from one of the books (based on the text) and (2) writing about another character with the illustrator’s vision of the characters as prompts.  The students are  most eager and many then purchase the books from me at a discounted rate.

Still…. how to go viral?  Any ideas?

www.outskirtspress/crystalpalace        www.outskirtspress/crystalpalace2



The Crystal Palace III: The Fairy War

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Here is the cover for the third book of the trilogy.  Hopefully, it will be available in November, but it is still at the publishers now.

I just completed nine workshops at an elementary school in Des Plaines, IL.  Three third grade creative writing workshops, based on The Crystal Palace;  Rescue of the Baby Fairy Prince; three fourth grade workshops, based on The Crystal Palace II:  Rebellion in Fairyland; and three fifth grad workshops, based on The Crystal Palace III: The Fairy War. What fun for me!  I enjoy these workshops as they allow me to be a teacher again, without the hassles:  no homework, no paperwork … just enjoying the children.  :)

For more information about the books and a link to amazon and/or barnes&noble.com, go to http://www.outskirtspress.com/crystalpalace or http://www.outskirtspress.com/crystalpalace2 or http://www.outskirtspress.com/crystalpalace3


The Crystal Palace III Cover

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Well, after a number of back-and-forth emails with the cover designer, we finally settled on a cover for The Crystal Palace III:  The Fairy War.  Now I just need to proofread the text before it goes to print.

Next week I will be using the new book in my workshops for fifth graders.  Third graders’ workshops will use the first book, fourth graders will use the second book.  Each book is longer and with a more complex plot than the previous book, so this should work fine.

CP III Off to the Publisher! Whew!

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Yesterday I finally got everything I needed to get to the publisher off:  manuscript, images, placement of images form, authorization to publish form, etc. etc.  So, hopefully, The Crystal Palace III:  The Fairy War will be available on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com by November….in time for Christmas.   Any little girls in your life?  This trilogy is especially for elementary age girls,  middle grade reading level (3-6), though younger children would enjoy hearing the stories as well.