Monday, September 30, 2013

Enter Melissa Productions October Children's Chapter Book Giveaway

I'm excited to be giving away one of the sweetest, funniest Wunderkind Family children's books - Madison and GA (My Guardian Angel): The Tale of the Slimy Spitball, one month before Madison and GA's next story - Tale of the Messed Up Talent Show- is available for sale!

This comically illustrated, modern-fantasy children's chapter book is the second book in the Wunderkind Family children's chapter book series.

Madison and GA (My Guardian Angel) stories teach children that they don't have to be perfect. Even Madison's guardian angel isn't. Every story will share at least one learning lesson such as bullying, friendship, and responsibility. In Madison and GA (My Guardian Angel): The Tale of the Slimy Spitball, Madison once again gets blamed for something she didn't do, a common theme that keeps popping up in her life.

Since Madison was born, her guardian angel has been right by her side, spilling her milk and doing silly kid-stuff. But now that Madison is ten years old, her parents and teachers think it’s time for her to start acting like a big girl, which means she needs to stop blaming her imaginary friend for everything that goes wrong. And that is exactly what Madison has been trying to do. But what everyone doesn’t know is Madison’s imaginary friend is a real life sassy, childish (yet very loyal and loving) guardian angel named GA. GA's job is to protect Madison and teach her important stuff so she can earn feathers for her wings and one day fly. Not simple for an angel who seems to always be misplacing her halo and getting herself into mischief, leaving Madison to take the blame.

In the Tale of the Slimy Spitball, Madison finds herself in the principal's office again. This time she's being accused of spitting a slimy spitball at this kid Zach on the school bus. Find out who really spit the spitball? Will GA earn a feather for her wings? Or will Madison take the blame again?

The Wunderkind Family series is a collection of humorous, modern-fantasy stories, each told by one of the four whimsical Wunderkind sibling characters, about what it’s like growing up as a kid with extraordinary abilities in the small town of Boring Brook. (Target age: 6 – 12 years old)

This giveaway is open to USA and International entrants. (I'm able to send an autographed copy to USA entrants, but at the present time, not able to do the same for International entrants).

ENTER Below to Win a Copy of
Madison and GA (My Guardian Angel)
The Tale of the Slimy Spitball
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Monday, September 23, 2013

A Career As A Writer Can Begin At Any Age

There are people who know instantly they want to become a writer. And then there are those, whose writing career comes about unexpectedly and unplanned. My career as a children's writer wasn't planned. It started with a simple splatter of paint.

As a tween and teenager, I dreamed of becoming an artist and one day creating characters like Walt Disney. I had the vision and motivation. But my art teachers pushed me in another direction--get a degree in business and do art on the side, so I'm not a starving artist. They thought they were watching out for me. But in reality, it started my soul-searching days, which lasted over ten years, until I had children.

But then, one day, while my toddler and twin infants were napping, fate stepped in. I was painting a Madagascar mural in my children's playroom, when a drop of paint splattered onto the floor. Instantly, I saw a face, a body, and a little colorful creature. I took a piece of paper and carefully pressed it on top of the splatter. From there, I drew a shape around it, creating my first character ever. And even named him Splatter! As I sat, staring at Splatter, I felt a sense of loneliness for him, so created a girlfriend and then two siblings, all different colors with different personalities and interests. I had studied the psychological and behavioral affects of color and music and thought how wonderful it would be to have characters that mirrored those traits.

That same day, there was a double rainbow outside. My little kiddo's and I were mesmerized. But as fate continued to play out, my oldest son who was only 1 1/2 years old at the time, kept pointing to it like he could see something in it. I hurried back into my office (slash kids playroom slash my art room) and drafted up three more characters and their dog, creating Splatter and Friends! And all of them lived in the center of the rainbow.

I put the drawings aside for a few months. And then one day, while I was consulting for a client in my home, I felt an urge to show him the characters. He loved them and thought I should show them to a friend of his who marketed Pokemon and the Wiggles. Within two weeks, he had set up a meeting. When I met with him, I was pretty direct saying, "I have three babies at home and don't have time to pursue something that truly doesn't have any potential." I asked him to be frank with me. And to my surprise he said that this is what the market needed, and that the characters and concept was fresh. He encouraged me to brand them by writing a children's book.

When I left my meeting with him, I was so excited! This is what I had dreamed of my entire life and finally it was coming into reality. I saw them on television. And naive me thought that all I needed to do was create a couple children's books and then voila, I could then market them to a children's animation company and they would become a family brand. Was I ever wrong. And I wish at the time I had a mentor who could have guided me.

There was so much more for me to learn about writing, illustrating, designing, and publishing a children's picture book. I spent the next couple of years reading every child's picture book I could get my hands on and studying a subject that I had never gone to college for.

Below is what I learned:
  • Children's picture book writing needs to simple. You need to be able to write like a kid for a kid, using words that a five year old would be able to read and understand. This sounds easy, but it wasn't for me. I had just started to read children's picture books. And my background for over ten years was business writing. Writing for children is completely different. But a lot of fun!
  • It is very costly to hire an illustrator. Most will require a fee for their services and then a percentage of sales. Options are to look for a college student or perhaps even a high school student. Or learn how to draw the characters and background yourself. The later is what I chose. And it wasn't as easy as you think. Since I was a kid, I've always drawn and painted reality pictures such as portraits and still life. Drawing cartoon illustrations is totally a different style. It has become one of my favorite styles!
  • Become familiar with publishing software such as Adobe Creative Suite products. I taught myself how to use Adobe Illustrator (create the illustrations) and Adobe Indesign (to layout the interior of the picture book).
  • Should you go the traditional route or self-publish? When querying literary agents and publishers, query one or the other. Not both at the same time. After sending out lots of query letters, I found  that unless you actually went to school for writing, most won't give you the time or day. They required experience, which I didn't have. I hoped that maybe someone would see potential and mentor me. Boy could I have used a mentor. But no one I spoke to would mentor me because I was not in the publishing (writing) world. My experience was business writing.
  • Network! Become part of SCBWI and other children's writing groups. This was something I wish I would have done in the beginning. But like I said, I really didn't plan on having a career as a children's writer. Networking and meeting other's in the field could have really helped my writing career sooner.
  • Research the hilt out of local printers versus overseas printers. I found local printers were more expensive than overseas printing company's. And if you are a self-publisher, you needed to invest in printing a large volume of books in order to make money. Typically, 1,000 to 5,000 copies is the average. The issue many self-publishers have is where to store them because they will be stored in your house. My first go around, I used a printing company that was located in the northeast. There costs were reasonable and I could print 250 copies at a time, sell them at book events, and still make a little money. Guess their prices were too reasonable because when I was ready to print more, I discovered they went out of business. I now use Lightning Source, which I will discuss in Part 2.
  • Don't give up! If this is something you truly are passionate about, keep learning, keep researching, and keep meeting others in the field.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Join the 10th Blogiversary Party with CharlieBeth and Family!

People blog for many reasons. Sometimes it's to connect with others, sharing what they are feeling and hoping someone else is feeling or experiencing the same. Other times its to grow their business. And then there are some who are looking to profit from it.

CharlieBeth is the first. She has created a beautiful blog about herself and her family. She's a mom who wants to connect with other people, learning and growing in the process. I hope you'll check out her blog and say hi! This week, I'm also one of her Featured Bloggers!

CharlieBeth's "Life as Mumma Walker": 10th Blogiversary Party!:
Just a little diary blog from CharlieBeth. I was turning over a new leaf after a few years of ups and downs which had included a bout of depression. I was settling down with the man I loved, I had just got some work though a job agency for the first time in a long time, which then led to the first job I ever loved! I was a different person back then. My life was all computer games, going to the pub, and office gossip (which I still love but have learned not to share on-line!) Amazing how much you can change in just 10 years!

Visit CharlieBeth's "Life as Mumma Walker": 10th Blogiversary Party!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Diabetes - The Differences Between Type 1 and Type 2

As many of you know, I'm a mom, raising a daughter with type 1 diabetes. Nothing about this disease has been fun. And what I've found over the past two years is that people think that type 1 and type 2 diabetes are the same. They are not!
Type 2 diabetes is a result of people not taking care of themselves. Their pancreas produces insulin (sometimes just not as much), but their body no longer absorbs it. Their body has become insulin resistent. Insulin resistence can be caused by being overweight, having high blood pressure for a long period of time, and even a person's genetic make-up. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle, which includes exercising, weight control, and eating healthy. Today, type 2 diabetes makes up about 90 - 95% of diabetics and most type 2 diabetics are over the age of 40 years.
With type 1 diabetes, a person's pancreas no longer produces insulin, a result of something (i.e. virus) that attacked the insulin producing beta cells of their pancreas. The most difficult part of someone having type 1 diabetes is that no one knows what destroyed their insulin producing cells. Today, there isn't a cure and it can't be delayed. The most common age for the onset of type 1 diabetes is 5 to 7 years old. It's known as a child and young adult disease.
My type 1 diabetic daughter is thin, healthy, and active. She plays sports and eats healthy. Supposedly, she got a virus which attacked the beta cells of her pancreas, killing them. She now is 100% insulin dependent. Her pancreas cannot produce insulin, but can absorb it if given. This disease is considered an autoimmune disease.
The highs and lows a type 1 diabetic has is a constant juggling act. The weather, their stress level, their emotional state, and their health all impacts their blood sugar. It’s not just food that a type 1 diabetic has to worry about. It’s everything they do and feel. A simple pill won't fix their problem. Exercising, losing weight, and eating healthy won't cure them or delay their illness. Every day, until their is a cure, they have to have insulin shots or wear an insulin pump which is attached to their body. And six to ten times a day they have to check their blood sugar by pricking their fingers to prevent and better manage their highs and lows.
Trying to predict how a change in a type 1 diabetics lifestyle will affect their blood sugar is like trying to predict the lotto. Just yesterday, my daughter's blood sugar was 56 at school. She had just come in from recess which burned off some of her blood sugar. Normally, you would give her a 15 carb juice and some protein to raise her blood sugar, and then check it again in 15 minutes. But Madison's scenario was a little different. She had eaten lunch about 45 minutes earlier, so she had insulin still in her body (2 units), processing all the carbs she had eaten for lunch. The teacher and nurse were trained to take into account the insulin on board, meaning give her enough juice and protein to cover the insulin that her insulin pump said she still had in her body so she didn't drop more.  But for Madison, her body works differently. The insulin on board was still processing the carbs. Her body works slower than other type 1 diabetics when processing certain carbs. When Madison got home, her blood sugar was 351. They had given her way too much to eat and drink.
The above scenario is constant in a type 1 diabetics life. Every thing they do, feel and eat affects their blood sugar, causing them to have to constantly stay on top of their blood sugar by checking it every two to three hours. There are minutes during the day where we haven't a clue why Madison's blood sugar is dropping or why it is all of a sudden high.
Differences between type 1 and type 2:
  • Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, delayed and even cured if they start eating healthier and exercise. Type 1 cannot be cured today.
  • Type 2 diabetes can happen at any age. Type 1 diabetes usually occurs in children and young adults. Like I mentioned earlier, the most common age for the onset of type 1 diabetes is 5 to 7 years old.
  • Some type 2 diabetics don't need medicine. Some need to take pills daily. And some do need insulin shots. With type 1, all have to take insulin shots or wear an insulin pump.
  • People with type 1 diabetes have to manage their highs and lows by checking their blood sugar 6 to 10 times a day, depending on their activity level and daily events.
Similarities between type 1 and type 2:
  • Both can lead to major complications if not managed such as blindness, kidney failure and loss of limb.
I hope you will share any additional similarities and differences that I may have missed.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Enter To Win An Adorable Children's Picture Book - Sugar Bugz, They Live On Your Teeth

Sugar Bugz Children's Picture Book
This month I'm giving away one of those must-have children's picture books in your collection, Sugar Bugz, They Live On Your Teeth!

The Sugar Bugz, They Live On Your Teeth children's picture book inspires children to take care of their teeth in a delightful and upbeat way. This colorful and educationally, entertaining book centers on the silly and mischievous Sugar Bugz, while effectively encouraging good dental habits like eating fruits and vegetables, and brushing up and down and all around. It also touches on flossing, when to brush, and making those special trips to the dentist. Something every child needs to do.

I really enjoyed this story! But I am known to be a huge sucker for cute, entertaining children's picture books; especially ones that rhyme and have the most adorable characters, like the Sugar Bugz. Since I want to offer you the best books on my blog, I thought I would put this book through a true children's book test--reading it to kids! So I rounded up my three elementary aged children and read it to them, never giving them a clue that they were reviewing this book. And not surprisingly, all three gave it a thumbs up! In fact, my ten year old son asked me why I hadn't gotten this book for him sooner. He thought it would had been helpful when he was just learning to brush his teeth.

But that was just the start of their curiosity. After I read it, my nine year old boy / girl twins took it and continued browsing through the pages, soaking in the information. After about fifteen minutes later, my twin daughter handed the book to me and said, "Really cute book, mom." Then she went off to play.

That evening, as my kids were just about to brush their teeth, all three of them asked me if I would read this book to them again. I smiled and said, "Yes!" So we cuddled and read the story again. The illustrations made them giggle. And the story encouraged them to brush, brush, and brush. In fact, my nine year old twin son, who I have to beg and remind at least a dozen times a day to brush his teeth, finally is brushing them without me having to stay on top of him. Those Sugar Bugz did their job in the story, encouraging him to take better care of his teeth!
The story and illustrations aren't the only thing that makes this book so special. The author, Stacy Piper, truly is an inspiration to all of us moms and dads who have an idea for a children's book and take the step in making it happen! The Sugar Bugz story started when Stacy's children were little. She and her husband told them about the sugar bugs that lived on their teeth, and it worked like a charm in helping to get their teeth clean. Wanting to share her story with others, Stacy researched and interviewed dentists, making sure that her story included the most important and effective dental practices. And now Stacy, with the help of Lori Escobar, is able to share her story with your family in the Sugar Bugz, They Live On Your Teeth children's picture book.

Meet Stacy Piper, the author of Sugar Bugz, and Lori Escobar, the illustrator:

Stacy Piper, an author, poet and artist, lives in Northern California with her wonderful family. For years, she has written poetry and created inspirational art work, which she loves to combine with her uplifting words. The following short poem describes her gratitude for life's journey -"From back there, to right here, to wherever the journey leads - I am thankful".

Lori Escobar, a natural artist and illustrator, also lives in Northern California. She is fun and full of life, which shows in the many types of art she creates. Lori has been working in the t-shirt apparel design industry for many years and is a valued artist at the company she has worked at for over seven years. She inherited her creative gene from her artist mother and great grandmother. Lori studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art. There is a special, fun energy that flows through Lori's creations.

Sugar Bugz, They Live On Your Teeth can be found at the website and at Amazon.

The Sugar Bugz team can be contacted at
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Also, this giveaway currently is only available to USA residents. Hopefully, someday in the near future, this book will be available internationally.

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