Dear Diary

Cassie-Parker_final-cover-677x1024I recently revisited my old diaries when fellow author Terra Elan McVoy approached me about participating in a diary share campaign she is organizing to launch her new book, This Is  All Your Fault, Cassie Parker, which is out TODAY. To promote the campaign, Terra gathered diary pages from several authors, including me. If you follow the hashtags #diarydare and #yourfaultCassie on Twitter and Instagram, you can check out some of our old diary entries!

You can also join in the fun for a chance to win a prize by sharing pages from your own diary! A link to details appears at the end of this post.

Most of you know that my own books, The Boy Project and The Boy Problem were influenced by my old school diaries. Reading through my diaries reconnected me with the feelings I had as a tween and teen. To me, this is the most important thing about diaries. They are perhaps the only place where we can be completely free with our feelings.  And this connection to feelings is what makes books written in diary formats so appealing to young readers.

I wrote an article about this very thing a while ago for The 4:00 Book Hook, a wonderful newsletter for book lovers that is no longer in print, so I thought I’d share that article here today in celebration of It’s All Your Fault Cassie Parker and diary keepers everywhere!


diary-of-a-worm-cover-imageA diary is a safe place where we can share our most secret feelings. True? Of course! It is what makes diary format books so appealing to young readers. These books employ first person narrators who share feelings with their diaries, and thus their readers, that they don’t share with anyone else. This creates a sense of kinship between reader and narrator that is almost immediate. Adults searching for a way to talk about feelings with the children they care about might find a diary format book a doorway into conversation. Talking about feelings presented through the eyes of a narrator can launch discussion about a child’s own feelings.
One of my favorite books for very young readers is Diary of a Worm, a picture book by Doreen Cronin. Cronin’s simple text consists mostly of one sentence entries, but Worm communicates his feelings about friends and family very effectively. He touches on familiar subjects like nightmares, being laughed at by peers, and getting in trouble with parents: all things that evoke strong feelings for kindergarten aged children and younger. What a great book to use to start a discussion about the feelings these children experience almost daily!

amelias-notebookElementary school readers might enjoy Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss. Amelia expresses some very strong feelings about having to move to a new state– she hates it – on the very first page. Through colorful drawings as well as her words, Amelia addresses the pain of leaving a home and a best friend behind and the struggles of finding a new friend. Children will be able to relate to and talk about Amelia’s feelings of being out of place and on the outside of things even if they haven’t experienced moving.

diary of a wimpy KidA common theme in diary format books geared for the middle grade audience is social awkwardness. This is true of the wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. Through narrator Greg Heffley, Kinney captures some of middle school’s most awkward moments. Spring boarding a discussion with this comical book would be a non-threatening way to discuss fitting in and decision making with middle school aged children.

Cathy's BookThe hardest feelings to discuss with our children are those they experience when they enter young adulthood. YA books written in the diary format often deal with angst regarding social pressures, sexual curiosity, and drug usage. In Cathy’s Book by Sean Stewart, Jordan Weisman, and Cathy Briggs, Cathy wakes up to find a needle track in her arm. She can’t remember much about the previous night, and is forced to wonder if she’s been drugged and taken advantage of by her ex-boyfriend. Because her parents are virtually absent, Cathy must struggle with her feelings alone.

The children in our lives don’t have to struggle with feelings alone. There are many wonderful diary format books on the market today. Share one with your favorite reader and discuss.

And writers out there… as a writing exercise, try letting your characters write in their diaries, whether you use it in your book or not, it is a great way to get in touch with your characters’ feelings.

Don’t forget to check out and participate in Terra’s #diarydare campaign. Click HERE for details!

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: LOVE (Plus contest winners)

share the love*Share the love contest winners announced at the end of this post. 

 Febuary is the month to think about affairs of the heart. Not coincidentally, it is the month of both Valentine’s Day, and American Heart Month, a time to think about heart health. For more information about how to check out your heart health, visit The American Heart Association’s website. For thoughts on love from some famous nerdy chicks, keep reading!

Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses. — Ann Landers

Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could. — Barbara de Angelis

If you can learn to love yourself and all the flaws, you can love other people so much better. And that makes you so happy. — Kristin Chenoweth

What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. — Helen Keller

Love isn’t something you find. Love is something that finds you. — Loretta Young

The best thing to hold onto in life is each other. –Audrey Hepburn

I love these words! Especially Audrey Hepburn’s. Do you have a favorite quote about love? We’d love to hear it! Here’s hoping February is turning out to be a lovely month for all of you.

Share the Love Contest Winners: Thanks to all of you who shared the love! To those who entered the contest by leaving a comment, AND those who just helped share the love by tweeting and posting to Facebook: I appreciate you! Two winners were selected using the random number generator at Those winners are: Lauri Meyers and  Amy Robinette. Please email me at kamikinard (at) gmail (dot) com so I can arrange to ship your prize and set up a Skype session.🙂


Curriculum Guide Celebration Giveaway!

20150213_154554I’m excited to announce that free downloadable curriculum guides are now available for  THE BOY PROJECT  (Scholastic 2012) and THE BOY PROBLEM (Scholastic 2014)! Both books have themes that tie in with today’s middle school curriculum and both are common core aligned. The guides are full of fantastic reading, math, and science activities that can be used alone or separately. I feel like I can brag about I didn’t create them myself.🙂 The talented Marcie Colleen created the guide for THE BOY PROJECT (click HERE to view) and the great teachers at EDUCATORS R&R created the guide for THE BOY PROBLEM (Click HERE to view). These guides are also available at all times on my website 20150213_154943To celebrate the completion of these guides I am giving away five classroom reading packs that go along with the themes from THE BOY PROBLEM.  These can be used for reading circles, book clubs, or any of readers who enjoy these books!  Each kit includes a heart-shaped box and seven:

  • cupcake containers with a dove chocolate heart
  • cupcake tattoos
  • signed bookmarks
  • cupcake erasers (scroll down to see a cute video featuring these)
  • hairy mustaches
  • fortune telling fish
  • and one top to create your own shoe box lid predictor as seen on page 185
  • Winners will also receive a free 20 minute Skype visit for your class or for a small group.

(Pssst: If you win and need more than seven of the items above let me know and I’ll see what I can do!)

To enter just enter the short form below. Contest ends on midnight EST on February 28. 

This giveaway is over! Congratulations to the winners:

Kim, Janet, Suzy, Karen, and Debbie. An email has been sent to each of you. Leave a comment here if you do not receive it. Thank you to all who entered! Winners were selected using the Random Number Generator at 

3 easy ways to double your entries, tweet about this giveaway and tag me @kamikinard, give it a shout out on Facebook and tag my author page, or leave a comment! 

Whether or not you enter the giveaway, you can still get a free Skype visit from myself or Sudipta for World Read Aloud Day. Click HERE for details.

Good Luck Everyone! And if you want a closer look at the erasers that come with the prize pack, check out what Mr. Etkin’s class did with them last year. Bet you didn’t know erasers could dance!

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:



Twitter: @SWiersbitzky


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.


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?

TrexColorpalette 1

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

TrexStudy 2

(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)

TrexStudy 3

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!


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…


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! #TWRECKS @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora
  • Do you know #TWRECKS? @SudiptaBQ @ZachariahOHora
  • Got #TWRECKS?  @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!


ORANGUTANGLED Book Birthday! (and Giveaway!)

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


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! @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

(This one links to this blog post)

Have you ORANGUTANGLED? @SudiptaBQ @AaronZenz

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

Meet @AaronZenz on @MatthewWinner’s great Busy Librarian podcast @SudiptaBQ

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

ORANGUTANGLED is here! @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!



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


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

Add to Your Shelf:



The Giveaway below is officially over. Entries were numbered and the total number was entered into the Random Number Generator at, 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

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 or on Twitter at @Cory_Jackson.

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