What Flowers Remember

flowersToday we welcome back author Shannon Wiersbitzsky, who we previously interviewed about financial literacy as well as writing. Shannon is returning today as a guest blogger to discus writing, gardening, and how writing is like gardening! Shannon’s latest book, What Flowers Remember, launched this month. In celebration of this, there is a giveaway at the end of the post! Thank you Shannon for being our guest. Shannon’s post follows:

You know those beautiful home gardens? The ones featured on Pinterest or Facebook that are bursting with color, not a weed in sight, picture perfect wicker baskets loaded with cut flowers or fresh vegetables of the season. Yeah. That. Is. Not. My. Garden.

Despite my suburban existence, I like to think of myself as a gardener. The idea of planting seeds, nurturing them, and then reaping the harvest pomegranate floweris immensely appealing to me.  Its all the actual work that gets a bit dull. Starting out is the easy part. I’m full of ideas and inspiration. Then as the weeks and months drag on, I lose a bit of steam. Ok, I lose a lot of steam. The poor bean plants sag as they wait for me to come pick. If they could give me a holler, I ‘m sure I’d get an earful.

As writers, if we’re not careful, the same thing can happen to our manuscripts. We start out loaded for bear. Ideas to spare. Eager to outline plots and characters, and to get writing. We have energy to burn.

As the first sprigs of green come to life, in the form of pages and chapters, we pat ourselves on the back, our energy high, our spirits soaring. We’re sure this will carry on forever.

Then it rains. We struggle with the next plot twist. A heat wave makes being outside unbearable. We begin to dislike our own character and doubt this story idea had any merit in the first place. Then when we finally get to the garden, we find its almost taken over by weeds. We scrap a thousand words in an effort to find the good stuff.

spanish moss trail flowersAnd of course we must battle the temptation of the next energizing idea. When one story is a struggle, it is so easy to get wooed by one of the many thoughts that constantly whiz back and forth in our minds. Those ideas can be so shiny! They look terrific. They feel new and glossy and full of promise. And of course we are completely capable of convincing ourselves that if only we set aside our current work and switched gears, then oh the words would flow!

Of course weeds will grow in any garden. Rain will fall. Heat waves will sap our energy. And we’ll be tempted to throw in the towel. Don’t give in!

Writing takes extreme patience. It takes the diligence to write day after day, week after week, whether that writing yields a single paragraph or several chapters, we must keep going. Every word is progress. I have a mantra I like to tell myself when writing doesn’t flow. It’s this. Word by word, page by page, a story grows. Jot  that on a sticky note and put it where you write.

Like my garden, a work in progress doesn’t always look picture perfect. Know that you will get muddy. There will be annoying bugs. And know that this is perfectly normal! morning glory

Writing involves tremendous work. Sometimes it means sacrificing bits we adore so that the rest can grow. But it will grow. Maybe not as fast as we’d like. But the shoots will rise. The leaves will unfold. And before you know it, you’ll be reaping the rewards.

Thank you Shannon for that great analogy. I agree 100 percent. Writing is work…. but the rewards are beautiful! Readers, take a moment to find out about What Flowers Remember, then enter the super-easy to enter giveaway!

Most folks probably think gardens only get tended when they’re blooming. But most folks would be wrong. According to the almanac, a proper gardener does something every single month. Old Red Clancy was definitely a proper gardener. That’s why I enrolled myself in the Clancy School of Gardening. If I was going to learn about flowers, I wanted to learn from the best. 

Delia and Old Red Clancy make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. When they dream up a seed- and flower-selling business, well, look out, Tucker’s Ferry, because here they come. But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he
can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for
no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save
as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her. What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

“[Delia’s] frustration, fear and sense of loss will be readily recognizable to others who have experienced dementia in a loved one, and her story may provide some guidance on how to move down that rocky path toward acceptance and letting go. …What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel compassionately conveys.” — Kirkus Reviews

*Note: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Shannon_Wiersbitzky_Author_Photo_2012 Shannon Wiersbitzky is a middle-grade author, a hopeless optimist, and a lover of nature. Her first novel, The Summer of Hammers and Angels, was nominated for the William Allen White award. Born in North Dakota, Shannon has called West Virginia, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Michigan “home” at some point in her life. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, one rather dull fish and her never dull mutt Benson.

Find out more about her here:

Website: www.shannonwiersbitzky.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShannonWiersbitzky

Twitter: @SWiersbitzky

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ShannonWiersbitzky

Super-Easy to enter Giveaway:flowers

Enter to win a copy of What Flowers Remember. All we need is your name and an email address, so we can notify the winner. The contest runs until Midnight May 20, 2014. For Double Entries, leave a comment about writing, gardening, or this post!

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Book Birthday, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! (and a Double Giveaway!)

In honor of the book birthday of my newest picture book, TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS!, I have such an awesome treat for you! First, a guest post from my incredible illustrator, Zachariah OHora, about his creative process. Then,there is an awesome giveaway where two lucky winners will get some great prizes (scroll down to the end for more information on the prizes, though you don’t want to skip over this great post, do you?)

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks, Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Zachariah Ohora

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks!

by Zachariah OHora

When I first heard about this project I was super excited to work with Chad (creative director at Abrams) and Sudipta.
That excitement quickly turned to fear when I realized I’d never really drawn dinosaurs before.

Not even as a kid.

Plus there seemed to be a whole lot of dinosaurs I’d never heard of.

Gallimimus?!
Really?!

I think there were like five dinos when I was a kid and half of them don’t even exist anymore, er, I mean, they ALL don’t exist anymore, but uh…you get the point.

I realized I couldn’t just fudge through with a vague lizard creature.
So I started where all ignorant people do, with a Google search.

Fear turned to terror as I collected images. NO WAY WAS I GOING TO PULL THIS OFF!!!

Then I had an idea. One that might appear brilliant enough to fool everyone into NOT noticing I can’t draw dinosaurs. What if it was kids DRESSED as dinos instead?

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This seemed like the perfect solution as it allowed me a good deal of creative license.

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(Left: One of the first sketches for T Wrecks Boy. Right: Then I thought since he was always wrecking stuff perhaps he couldn’t see out of his mask)

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Then Abrams politely showed me a book that already had my “brilliant” idea in it that came out two years earlier.

Illustrator gulps.
Illustrator whines.
Illustrator wrecks!

Illustrator practices and practices drawing dinosaurs!

Until finally the characters ended up having some human qualities but were most definitely dinosaurs!

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Fortunately everyone was happy with the new version and that’s what you see in the book.
Fear of failure forced me to get my proper dinosaur education on. And best of all Sudipta was happy with them too.

Sometimes in a collaboration you have to go way out of your comfort zone.
And that’s a good thing.

zauthorphotoZachariah OHora is an illustrator and author of a number of children’s books. His debut STOP SNORING, BERNARD! was awarded the Society of Illustrators Founder’s Award and was chosen as the PA One Book for 2012. His book NO FITS NILSON! was awarded a Kirkus star and was the Huffington Post Book of the Year for 2013. He lives and works in the tiny village of Narberth, PA with his wife, two sons, and two cats.

Sudipta wasn’t just “happy” with these illustrations — she was thrilled! (Why am I referring to myself in the third person??)

Thank you, Zack, for such a great and insightful post. And just so you know, I hadn’t heard of a Gallimimus either — not until my then 4-year old son educated me on that and all the other dinos in the book (except the Tyrannosaurus — I had heard of that!).

And now, for the part you’ve all been waiting for…

THE GIVEAWAY(S)

In honor of TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS, we here at Nerdy Chicks Rule are going to give away TWO prizes to one lucky winner.

First, the winner is going to score a copy of TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! signed by both Zach and me! And second, the lucky winner will get an original sketch from the book, signed by the illustrator himself!

Book and art — how can you not like that?

How do I win? asks my faithful blog reader.

It’s very simple.

1. To register, fill in the form below with your name, email, and Twitter and/or Facebook handles. (Don’t forget to hit ‘Submit’!)

2. Tweet or post about the TYRANNOSAURS WRECKS! release with the hashtag #TWRECKS and tag Sudipta (@SudiptaBQ on Twitter or Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author on FB) AND tag Zack (@ZachariahOHora on Twitter). Don’t know what to tweet/post? Cut and paste one of the suggestions below:

  • Happy book birthday to TYRANNOSAURUS WRECKS! http://wp.me/p126Z2-N4 #TWRECKS @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora
  • Do you know #TWRECKS? http://goo.gl/m28AnO @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora
  • Got #TWRECKS? http://goo.gl/7nd3xU  @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora

3. Every time you share using the handles you’ve registered, you’ll get one entry. The contest will close on April 7, 2014 at 11:59pm. At that time, we will gather up all the entries and choose a WINNER!

GOOD LUCK!

ORANGUTANGLED Book Birthday! (and Giveaway!)

We have a winner in the original art giveaway! Everybody put your hands together for

@BookishAmbition!

Thanks to everyone for entering!

 

Have you ever had a day that starts out bad…and then gets worse and worse and worse? One of those days where you know it’s one disaster after the other no matter what you do? And you know that fighting it won’t make it better…but you fight it anyway?

It was a day like that that inspired ORANGUTANGLED. I’m proud to announce today is this darling book’s birthday!

orangutangled coverIn honor of this book, we have a very special giveaway.

Illustrator Aaron Zenz has very graciously created an original piece of ORANGUTANGLED artwork.

orangutangled art Aaron Zenz

(I’ll tell you the truth — I want to cheat and just declare myself the winner so I can keep this gorgeous piece.)

I’m sure you’re all wondering How do I win???

This is how:

1) Required. Fill out the entry form below. (Don’t forget to hit ‘Submit’!)

2) Copy one of the following blurbs and post it to Facebook or tweet about it. Here are your choices:

ORANGUTANGLED is here! Original art #giveaway! http://goo.gl/KXLKJa @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This one links to this blog post)

Have you ORANGUTANGLED? http://goo.gl/WDQHL0 @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This one takes you to Sudipta’s ORANGUTANGLED page)

Meet @AaronZenz on @MatthewWinner’s great Busy Librarian podcast http://goo.gl/35eQTw @SudiptaBQ

(This links to the Busy Librarian’s podcast with Aaron)

ORANGUTANGLED is here! http://goo.gl/ctLX6h @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This takes you to the publisher’s ORANGUTANGLED page)

3) Every post or tweet will count as one entry (make sure you make your Facebook posts are public so we can give you credit! Even better, tag Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author on the Facebook posts!). Keep spreading the word, increase your odds of winning.

The contest will close on February 17, 2014 at 11:59pm. At that time, we will gather up all the entries and choose a WINNER!

GOOD LUCK!

REMINDER:

Do you like winning? Want to win more? Check out Corrine Jackson’s giveaway, too!

Author Corrine Jackson on Strong Female Characters plus a Giveaway!

Corrine Jackson

Today we welcome Young Adult author Corrine Jackson to the blog to talk about strong female characters. Corrine’s second book in her Sense Thieves trilogy, PUSHED, features Remy, a girl with uncanny healing powers  (a synopsis follows Corrine’s post). You can enter to win a copy by leaving the name of your favorite strong female character in a comment below! You can also enter the official blog tour giveaway. Keep reading for details. :)

 Corrine’s thoughts on creating strong female characters:

In philosophical terms, human agency is “the capacity of an agent (a person or other entity, human or any living being in general, or soul-consciousness in religion) to act in a world.” The key word there is ACT. In my undergrad literature classes, we spent a lot of time discussing how agency is what separates our heroes from secondary characters. Heroes take action. They are a force to be reckoned with. How much agency did Oedipus Rex have over his fate vs. the oracle predicting the outcome? How much power did Othello exert in the circumstances that led to the murder of his wife Desdemona, or was he merely an instrument for Iago? What we’re really talking about when we talk about human agency is the power to act. And writers know that action is what propels a story forward.

Too often female characters are powerless to make choices that impact their future. Male characters make decisions for them. This female character is waiting around for a male to save her. She is defined by the man in her life, rather than by the choices she is making. She lacks agency. Sometimes this is used as a plot device, until the last moment when she finally saves the world via some magical power.  

Strong female characters, like their male counterparts, will ACT. She will play a role in her fate, and make choices and decisions that push PUSHED bookthe story along. In my Sense Thieves series, Remy has the power to heal people with her touch, but she’s been raised in an abusive household, taught that people inevitably cause pain. That description of her background isn’t what makes her strong. She could be waiting for a hero to save her. But despite her circumstances (maybe because of them), Remy chooses to help people, to save people because nobody saved her. She heals people even though it frequently puts her life at risk and always causes her pain. That choice to act, even when it’s ill-advised (and puts her in a great deal of danger in PUSHED) makes her strong in my book. The decisions don’t have to be good ones, but the character does have to be making choices to drive the story forward. A female character in this role is a strong one, in my opinion.

*Source: Wikipedia

To find out more about the strong female character Corrine created in Remy, check out this synopsis of PUSHED! (Giveaway details follow. )

She didn’t know how far she’d go—until she was pushed.

Remy O’Malley was just learning to harness her uncanny healing power when she discovered the other, darker half of her bloodline. Now she lives trapped between two worlds, uneasy among her fellow Healers—and relentlessly hunted by the Protectors.  Forced to conceal her dual identity, and the presence of her Protector boyfriend Asher Blackwell, Remy encounters a shadow community of Healers who will put her loyalties to the test.

Pushed to the limit, with the lives of those she loves most on the line, Remy must decide whether to choose sides in a centuries-old war—or make the ultimate sacrifice and go to a place from which she may never return…

 Publisher: Kensington/KTeen   ISBN-10: 0758273347

Buy PUSHED:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million| German Amazon

Add to Your Shelf:

Goodreads

 

The Giveaway below is officially over. Entries were numbered and the total number was entered into the Random Number Generator at random.org, which selected Michele. Congratulations Michele!

Giveaway(s)! There are TWO ways to win a copy of PUSHED!

1. Comment on this post with the name of your favorite strong female character. I hope we get a long list because I’d love to make a strong-female pie chart ! Contest ends on midnight February 15 to enter this blog’s giveaway! A winner will be chosen using random.org.

2. Enter the official blog tour giveaway here: a Rafflecopter giveaway !

You can enter both giveaways. Yay for strong female characters!

More about PUSHED author Corrine Jackson: Young adult author Corrine Jackson lives in San Francisco and has over ten years experience in marketing. She has bachelor and master degrees in English, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University. Her novels include If I Lie (Simon Pulse) and the Sense Thieves trilogy (KTeen), comprised of Touched,Pushed, and Ignited (5/27/14). Visit her at CorrineJackson.com or on Twitter at @Cory_Jackson.

Visit other stops on the PUSHED blog tour by clicking HERE.

PUSHED book

Winner! Winner! Winner!

graphics-fireworks-655059We have reached the end of our week-long Moose Day Celebration.

Did you enter the MOOSE DAY Giveaway?

If you didn’t, I bet you regret it.

And if you did, you’re probably waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the winner.

I’m here to un-bate you. Because I’m just that kind of girl.

Just as a reminder, here is the lovely TRIPLE Prize:

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So, are you ready?

Really ready?

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OK, I won’t keep you waiting any longer….

The winner of the triple giveaway is:

@Loveofxena

CONGRATULATIONS!

Thanks to everyone for entering, celebrating, tweeting, posting, ducking and moosing…Mostly, thank you for helping me to welcome DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE into the world with all the love that I was hoping for. You’re the best!

DDM cover

(and if you’re REALLY disappointed, get a copy of your own at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookseller!)

#MooseMoment

Our week of MOOSE DAY celebrations continue…if you haven’t registered for the TRIPLE GIVEWAY, there is still plenty of time! Click here to fill our the official registration form, and remember, any tweet or Facebook post about Moose Day with the hashtag #DuckDuckMoose is an entry to win! (Don’t forget to tag Sudipta, too – @SudiptaBQ on Twitter or Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author on FB.)

ddm balloonsWe’re going to sweeten the deal, though — add the hashtag #MooseMoment to your posts/tweets, and get TRIPLE the entries!

What is a Moose Moment? you might be wondering.

We’ve all witnessed a Moose Moment. We’ve also all experienced a Moose Moment — probably many more than one.

A Moose Moment is a moment of disaster. When you accidentally back your car out of the garage — while the passenger door is still open. When you leave the house so early and so tired that you don’t notice you’re wearing two different types of shoes (this one I have done personally!).

If you have children in your life, you’ve seen plenty of Moose Moments. Here’s a fairly common one:

100_0108-001Toddler + chocolate bar = MOOSE MOMENT

Once, I left my daughters with a babysitter…who thought it would be fine to let them play with a ballpoint pen. Which lead to this Moose Moment:

Bella left alone with penThen there was the time I didn’t notice my daughter sneak the baby powder into the playroom:

3429 (2)Another memorable Moose Moment…(She looks so happy! So blissfully unaware of the MESS!)

So, why should we celebrate Moose Moments? After all, they just cause trouble, right?

NO!!!

Moose Moments are the best moments of life. They are the ones we remember for years, the ones we laugh about time and time again. They bring us joy in times of trouble and they put things in perspective when life gets too serious. Moose Moments are crystallized drops of inspiration.

DUCK DUCK MOOSE wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t witnessed hundreds of my children’s Moose Moments.

As we continue our Moose Day party, can you share your favorite #MooseMoment?DDM cover

Please enter the official MOOSE DAY GIVEAWAY and win a great triple prize!wpid-20140107_094935.jpg

 

 

 

It’s a MOOSE DAY Party! (And a TRIPLE GIVEAWAY!)

THIS CONTEST HAS NOW ENDED. (But keep celebrating Moose Day anyway!)

It’s MOOSE DAY! It’s MOOSE DAY!

Shockingly, this is not an official, national holiday (though it should be!), so you might be wondering what Moose Day — today — is.

Simple.

Today is the book birthday of DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE! Hooray!!!

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It is a day of joy! Of celebration! It is a day for all ducks and all mooses to put aside their differences and celebrate the true meaning of friendship! (The true meaning of friendship, coincidentally, is the theme of the whole book.)

A lot of people are already celebrating DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE.

It has been selected for the CBC’s Hot Off The Press.

It’s on the Winter 2013-2014 Kids’ Indie Next List — “Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers” in the General Listing.

Kirkus says, “Two ducks plus one moose equals mayhem, mischief and true friendship.” YAY!

Publishers Weekly says, “Moose’s pratfalls provide short-term entertainment and an opportunity for dramatic read-aloud performances.” Wow!

School Library Journal says, “Good fun that gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘duck.’” Woo-hoo!

Booklist says, “Though this silly story has a lot of well-earned laughs, the sweet ending is a touching reminder that clumsiness is easily forgivable.” HOORAY!

The lovely Robin Newman is celebrating Moose Day here. The fabulous Matthew Winner’s Moose Day Festivities are here. The most creative Creative Bookings is celebrating here. The adorable Darlene Beck Jacobson has her Moose Day party here.

The internet is just a-twitter with Moose Day Festivities!

Which brings us to the GIVEAWAY.

The TRIPLE GIVEAWAY.

In honor of DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE, we here at Nerdy Chicks Rule and going to give away a TRIPLE prize to one lucky winner.

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Doesn’t that look lovely? (Oh, did you notice the hand-made paper rose decorating the gift bag?)

Let’s break down the swag:

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One signed DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE

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Another signed DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE

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Cleaning supplies for the Moose in your life!

Yes, that’s TWO autographed copies for your ducks, and some cleaning supplies for your Moose (because you know he’s going to need it, right?).

How do I win? asks my faithful blog reader.

It’s very simple.

1. To register, fill in the form below with your name, email, and Twitter and/or Facebook handles. (Don’t forget to hit ‘Submit’!)

2. Tweet or post about Moose Day with the hashtag #DuckDuckMoose and tag Sudipta, too (@SudiptaBQ on Twitter or Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author on FB). Don’t know what to tweet? Use any of the links above or copy the pic below of the book cover and share that!

DDM cover

3. Every time you share using the handles you’ve registered, you’ll get one entry. The contest will close on January 14, 2014 at 11:59pm. At that time, we will gather up all the entries and choose a WINNER!

GOOD LUCK

and

HAPPY MOOSE DAY!