Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ten Questions with Andrea Nepa

Andrea Nepa is the mother of an adopted Vietnamese daughter named Leah.  In 2001, Adoptions from the Heart assisted with the international adoption.  Andrea dedicated her book, Red in the Flower Bed, to her daughter: "For my dear Leah, whose journey in her young life has already taken her to far away and unexpected places."  In 2006, Leah was diagnosed with cancer.  She is currently in remission.  Andrea lives with Leah and her husband, David, in Haddonfield, New Jersey.  She is a registered dietitian for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

1. Hi Andrea.  Could you you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in NH and now live in NJ.  I still miss the beautiful fall foliage and snow at Christmas from living in New England.  I am married with a 9 year old daughter.  We have a dog and two cats.  I am very close with the cats, but the dog is new, so I am still learning to communicate with him.  My hobbies include playing the flute and ice skating.  I play music in an ensemble, and recently started taking ice dancing lessons.  I work as a clinical nutritionist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

2. Describe your desk/workspace.

My desk probably looks chaotic, but I know where everything is (most of the time).  At work I have several piles on my desk.  One pile is for daily/immediate tasks, one for next week's work, another for long term projects and another for other things (such as reading research articles) when I get time for it.  So I am quite organized, although you wouldn't know it by looking .

3. Do you have a favorite quote?

My favorite quote is: "The wise learn more from the foolish than the foolish do from the wise."  I think this was from a fortune cookie.

4. If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

If I had the opportunity to have a coffee chat with anyone, it would probably be Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I am fascinated by life as she describes it from her time period.  I would love to ask her questions about how she survived living as secluded as her family did at times, and how they managed by making/growing/hunting almost everything they owned and ate, with no modern medicine, indoor plumbing, etc.  She had the ability to describe the beauty of life with beautiful words, and took joy in the nature around her.

5. What are your top three favorite books and why?

There are so many great books that I don't know that I could narrow it down to three.  Some of my favorite books are: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (the storyline is captivating and so well put together and life in Japan during that time is fascinating too); Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (great story you can't stop reading); Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (the storyline is so intricate and well designed and the characters are well defined with great dialogue; interesting insight into how life was among the upper class in England during that time period); The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith (great fun to read; quirky characters in an African setting; interesting mysteries); all James Herriott books (his true stories about life as a country vet can be hilarious, and his insight into human and animal behavior is awesome) and of course the Little House on the Prairie series.

6. Do you write full-time or part-time?

I occasionally write professionally for work, but I have only written the one children's story.

7. What are your current marketing strategies for Red in the Flower Bed: an Illustrated Children's Story about Interracial Adoption?

I have participated in several online blogs targeted to adoptive parents.

8. Could you share about any current writing projects?

No writing projects at the moment!

9. What would be the best way for readers to contact you?

Through my publisher, Tribute Books.

10. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I was inspired to write Red in the Flower Bed because I feel so fortunate to have my daughter through adoption, and because she would ask questions about her adoption that we were unable to answer because her birth history is unknown.  I did it out of love for her, and was especially motivated to write it after she survived a life-threatening illness at the age of five.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Review of Red in the Flower Bed

Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Children's Story about Interracial Adoption

written and illustrated by
Andrea Nepa

Tribute Books

Hardcover - $12.95
Ebook - $4.95
Kindle - $2.99
iPad - $4.99
Nook - $4.95
Google - $3.79

My review:

Red in the Flower Bed is a wonderful story about interracial adoption.  It is beautifully told through the journey of a little seed that finds it's way into a flower bed.  The seed first grows into a green plant.  As it continues to grow, it finally becomes a beautiful red poppy flower.  Although it is different from the other flowers, it is welcomed into the garden family.  The poppy flower is where it is meant to be. 

Red in the Flower Bed talks about adoption in a loving way that children will find comforting and easily understood.  The illustrated pages have a unique look, as if they were all done by hand.  This book would make a wonderful gift for newly adoptive parents.  I think that this is a book that parents will want to share with their children.   

Monday, December 20, 2010

Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest!

Today is the Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest.  Everyone participating will be helping to spread a little holiday cheer.  At the end of this blog post there will be two links to check out how this all got started, what the guidelines were, and a list of all the bloggers who are participating.

This is our Christmas tree with some of the ornaments we have collected over the years.  My husband and son picked out this tree about three or four years ago.  When they called to ask me about getting a white tree, I wasn't too crazy about the idea.  Trees are green, not white.  But I have to say that it has grown on me.  In the evenings when it is the only light on in the room, it is so pretty.

This angel wreath hangs across from our front door.  It is surrounded by some of the Christmas cards we have received this year.  Every year in January when Christmas things are packed away, this wreath always manages to get left hanging up.  About July, my husband will ask if I plan on putting it away.  I tell him that Christmas is just around the corner, so we might as well leave it up.  Some years the Christmas cards don't get taken down until May or June, lol.

                                                                      CRAB DIP

1 small can crab meat
1 small cam water chestnuts
1 tsp. soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
1 c. mayonnaise

Chop up water chestnuts.  Mix all ingredients together.  Chill overnight.  Serve with crackers.

                                                                 GREEN FLUFF

1 box instant pistachio pudding
1 large bowl Cool Whip
1 large can crushed pineapple

1/4 c. pistachios

Do not drain juice from crushed pineapple.  Mix the first three together and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1/4 cup of pistachios on top.

                                                RECIPE FOR A HAPPY HOME

A heaping cup of Kindness
Two cups of Love and Caring
One cup of Understanding
One cup of Joyful Sharing
A level cup of Patience
One cup of Thoughtful Insight
One cup of Gracious Listening
One cup of Sweet Forgiveness

Mix all ingredients together.  Toss in Smiles and Laughter.  Serve to everyone you know with Love Forever After.

Check out one of these links to get to all of the other blogs that are participating in the Be Jolly by Golly Blogfest.

                      MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ten Questions with Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Cheryl C. Malandrinos, author of the children's picture book, Little Shepherd, has agreed to answer some questions today. 

1. Cheryl, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Thanks for having me here today, Susanne.  I'm thrilled to have your blog as a stop for the Little Shepherd Virtual Book Tour.

I'm a wife and mother of three kids, ages 23, 9, and 7.  I've lived in Western Massachusetts my entire life.  I began writing as a teen, but didn't embark upon my career until 2004, when I left Corporate America and became a stay-at-home mom.

2. What was your favorite book as a child and why?

I've blocked out most of my childhood, LOL!  I don't think I had a favorite book when I was a kid.  I've always been an avid reader, so books were constantly flowing back and forth from the library.  I t wasn't until I was in my twenties that I started focusing on my interests, and at that time, I discovered books that probably would have been my favorites as a kid if I had read them back then: Little House on the Prarie by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.

3. What is your favorite quote?

"Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best." - Henry Van Dyke

4. If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

There are several, but I guess I would have to say my mom.  She died when I was only 14.  I would love to hear what she thinks about how I've turned out.  If she came here for coffee she would get to meet her grandkids.

5. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I'm not a quirky person; though some of my friends might disagree.  I do tend to do something a bit strange with my hands when I'm sitting down at my computer and thinking.  It's hard to describe, but my left hand is fisted and my right hand is flat.  I slap my fist into my other hand.  It makes a clapping sound.  I don't even realize I'm doing it half the time.

6. What is the best advice you've ever received?

Another tough question, but most likely it would be a quote that my husband shared with me one day.  I was having a tough time at work.  The boss and I didn't get along very well.  A bouquet of flowers arrived with a note that said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

The quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt's 1937 autobiography, This Is My Story.  I try to remember this quote when I'm feeling down on myself or doubt my abilities.  God created us as equals and He brought each one of us into this world for a purpose.  There's no reason for any of us to feel inferior.

7. Now that your VBT is coming to an end, what marketing strategies do you have for Little Shepherd?

I'll continue to visit local schools, keep blogging, and hopefully find more podcast interviews.  There are still many other blogs to visit too, so I'll contact more bloggers.

I have a few copies of the book on concession right now.  I'll probably pull them out of the bookstore after Christmas is over.  Since Little Shepherd is a Christmas book, I think most sales will come at the end of the year and then there will be a drop off until next fall.  I'll just be sure to keep my name out there and continue to submit other projects to publishers.

8. Where can people find your children's book, Little Shepherd?

If you are interested in picking up a copy of Little Shepherd, you'll find it available at:

Barnes and Noble
Guardian Angel Publishing

9. Can you share about some things you are currently working on?

I am in the process of getting ready to submit a new story, also set around Christmas.  A Visit with Santa tells the story of a young boy named Robert who is excited to meet Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve and share his wish list.  When he meets Glenn, a boy with a terminally ill brother, Robert discovers the joy of thinking of others.

I've also completed thirteen chapters of a middle grade historical I am very excited about.  My goal is to finish the manuscript by March of next year and get it ready for submission.

10. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Too often the spirit of Christmas is lost behind our trying to create a Currier and Ives holiday for out loved ones.  I've been guilty of it more times than not.  As I've already witnessed once, children grow up way too fast.  I swear I just brought my son home from the hospital, and yet, he got married this year.  Where did the time go?

Over the past few years, the Lord has really driven home an important point to me: Christmas isn't about the decorations, finding the perfect gift, or even the food.  Christmas is about spending time with family and friends.  It's about doing a kindness for someone without expecting anything back.  It's about one miraculous night that forever changed our world.  If we hold that miracle close today, tomorrow, and forever, we too, with His guidance, can change the world and make it a better, safer, more peaceful place for all of us.

You can find Cheryl through the following links:

Facebook -
Twitter -

Today is the last day of Cheryl's Virtual Blog Tour.  Be sure to check out the following link to learn about the two different giveaways going on through December 17th.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Review of Little Shepherd

Little Shepherd

Cheryl C. Malandrinos

art by Eugene Ruble

Print  ISBN 13: 978-161633-085-9
eBook  ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-086-6

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

About Little Shepherd:

Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior's birth.  Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?

My review of Little Shepherd:

In Little Shepherd, Cheryl Malandrinos has done a wonderful job retelling the bible story, found in Luke 2: 8-16, where the angels come to the shepherds and tell them about the birth of a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  The shepherds leave their flocks of sheep in the fields, going into Bethlehem to see the baby who would be found laying in a manger.  Little Shepherd is told through the eyes of five-year-old Obed, a young shepherd boy who is tending his first flock of sheep.
This is one of my favorite stories in the bible, so I was very excited when I got a chance to read this beautifully written; colorfully illustrated book.  Written from the point-of-view of Obed, children will better understand the miracle of that wondrous night.  Cheryl did a wonderful job of conveying Obed's concern about leaving the sheep unattended, the wonder and joy of the shepherds seeing the newborn baby, and then again in sharing Obed's relief when he found not a single sheep missing or hurt.  It truly was a night of miracles.

Little Shepherd will make a wonderful addition to any home or Sunday School library.  This will be a book you will want to give to all the young readers in your life.  Parents and grandparents will enjoy reading this book to their children and grandchildren, not once, but many times.  All who read Little Shepherd, will cherish it. 

Be sure to leave a comment here, and then check out the  following link to learn about the two different giveaways going on through December 17th.

Also, be sure to stop back on Friday, December 17th, when I share an interview with Cheryl on the last day of her Virtual Blog Tour.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Snow Books

Since this is the time of year when a lot of us are having to deal with the snow that comes our way, I thought it only fitting to share a list of books with the word snow in their titles. 

The recommended reading level is ages 4 - 8.

- Snow Bugs by Susan Schade
- Dinos in the Snow! by Karma Wilson
- When Will the Snow Trees Grow? by Ben Shecter
- Frog, Bee and Snail Look for Snow by Loek Koopmans
- Snow! Snow! Snow! by Lee Harper
- Dream Snow by Eric Carle
- White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt
- The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
- Snow Joe by Carol Greene
- Snip, Snip ... Snow! by Nancy Poydar
- Mouse's First Snow by Lauren Thompson
- Snow Friends by M. Christina Butler

There are so many other great books with the word snow in the titles.  What is your favorite snow book?

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Babysitting SugarPaw Virtual Book Tour

Author VS Grenier is going on a virtual book tour for her children's picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw.

Monday, December 6
Guest blogging at Life in the First Draft

Tuesday, December 7
Guest blogging at Life in the First Draft

Book reviewed at The Phantom Paragrapher

Wednesday, December 8
Book reviewed at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer

Book reviewed at Review from Here

Thursday, December 9
Book reviewed and giveaway at A Cozy Reader's Corner Reviews

Friday, December 10
Author interviewed at The Hot Author Report

Guest blogging at The Children's and Teen's Book Connection

Monday, December 13
Guest blogging at Lori's Reading Corner

Tuesday, December 14
Book reviewed at Book Reviews by Molly

Wednesday, December 15
Book reviewed at 4 the Love of Books

Thursday, December 16
Book reviewed and giveaway at Candid, Clever & Cost-Effective

Friday, December 17
Book reviewed at Ohio Girl Talks

You can learn more about VS Grenier at the following links:

Author website:
Company website:
The Writing Mama (blog):

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Virtual Book Tour - Vivian Gilbert Zabel

Yesterday, December 1st, Vivian Gilbert Zabel began her virtual book tour for the novel, Stolen.  It is based on the emotional turmoil that was caused when two of her grandchildren were taken by their father.  The novel is fiction; but the fear, pain, and heartache are all very real.

December 1 - Velda Brotherton -
                        Vivian Zabel -

December 2 - Marvin Wilson -

December 3 - Amy Shojai -

December 4 - Holly Jahangiri -
                        Nita Beshear -

December 5 – Caroline Clemmons -

December 6 - Karen Coiffi-Ventrice -

December 7 - JR Turner  -

December 8 - Dianne Sagan  -

December 9 - Debra Eckerling -

December 10 – Margaret (Peggy) Fieland -

Stolen website -

Stolen is available through the 4RV Publishing bookstore  -

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo 2010 - How Did You Do?

NaNoWriMo 2010 is officially over.

This was my first year doing NaNoWriMo.  I had high hopes of reaching the 50K word count by the end of the month.  How hard could it be to write 1,667 words a day, for a month?  I like to write, so it would mean allowing myself more time to do something I enjoy doing.  

November was a very hectic month for me.  I was sick several days.  I had family commitments.  I had church commitments.  I missed a couple days of writing.  Once I got behind on the word count, it was all downhill for me. 

Now I realize that lots of people, who were busier than me, reached their NaNoWriMo goals.  I think that is AWESOME!  I say CONGRATS to them!  I'm just sharing my experience with NaNoWriMo.

So what was my final word count?  For NaNoWriMo 2010, my total word count was 37, 853.  I was 12,147 words short of my 50K goal.

Will I do NaNoWriMo 2011?  At this point I don't know.  Was I glad I gave it a try?  YES!  Would I recommend others give it a try?  Yes.  If you don't try, you'll never know if you can do it or not.  Do I feel like a winner?  YES!  YES!  YES!  Although I didn't reach my goal, I attempted the challenge. 

So, how did you do?  Did you reach your goal?  Please share your results.


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