Friday, August 31, 2012


The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.
~ Robert Collier

You will never "find" time for anything.  If you want time, you must make it.
~ Charles Buxton

We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough.
~ Helen Keller

Thursday, August 23, 2012

State of Successes by Elysabeth Eldering

State of Successes

By Elysabeth Eldering

Illustrated by H.C. Paye

Published: September 2010


ISBN-10: 1453621628
ISBN-13: 978-1453621622

Book 4 of the 50 State Mystery Trivia Series

Paperback, 100 pgs.

Reading level: ages 9-12

Matt Patterson, almost thirteen, likes to hang around with his friends, especially Guy Lombard.  Not only does he like skateboarding and playing video games, but he also likes geography.

Mary Beth, Matt's eleven year old sister, joins her older brother and his friends whether they want her to or not.

Jolene Ariette's name cropped up in the first book of the series since both Matt and Guy like her, but she keeps them both as friends only.

As the "Geography Detective Squad" work their way through the different fifty states of the series, they accumulate "bonus" clues that will reveal five territories joined or part of the United States.

Readers should be aware of the bonus clues so that each reader can "guess" the identities of the territories: Washington DC, the Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, or the Samoan Islands.

Matt Patterson, Guy Lombard, Mary Beth Patterson and Jolene Ariette take on the newest handheld game to help them in their study of social studies course of US History (geography and trivia information about each state). Each book in the series will be presented as the game giving them "clues" which are basically facts and trivia information that can be found most any place about the states. The kids have to guess the state by the end of the book. Readers are encouraged to participate in guessing as well. Guesses may be changed during the story as no one is expected to get the state immediately. Some clues are more helpful than others and some are just downright fun. This is a fun way of learning something you never knew about state history and geography.

There are bonus clues to five territories throughout the series, one per book with a total of ten per each of the territory (Guam, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, US Samoan Islands). The ten clues will not come consecutively; the five territories will be one clue every sixth book for each of the territories. There will be a bonus clue section at the end of the series, recapping the clues, which book they appeared in and what the territory is in that book.

Study guides are available as a PDF download on the website and are password protected; for access, please email Elysabeth at with subject "study guide password". The study guides will contain five or six research projects/discussion questions, a science experiment/map-math activity-craft-social studies activity -or any combination of those, a secret message puzzle (cryptogram, word search, scramble or other such puzzles alternating per state), and an end of book game (about fourteen to twenty questions in a trivia type fashion per).

I found State of Successes, book 4 of the 50 State Mystery Trivia Series, to be an easy book to read.  I was able to read it in one sitting.  I found the main characters using a hand held game to try and figure out what state they were working on to be an interesting idea.  Hand held games are something most kids, in this day and age, can relate to so I think it helps with the book's appeal.  The reader becomes a participant of the book, as they also get to try and guess the state from the provided clues and illustrations.

There are black and white illustrations, throughout the book, which add to the visual appeal of using a hand held game to guess the state from the clues.  Most of the illustrations were quite nice, but I felt a few of them needed more work.  I kept looking at them wondering if two different people had worked on the illustrations for State of Successes.

In the back of the book, you will find a bibliography section.  It gives links where you can find more information on the state.  There is also a section of discussion questions.  I'd like to mention that there is also a seperate study guide that goes with the book.  A few of the things you will find in the study guide are discussion questions, a craft project and a couple of games.
I feel that this type of book would work well in classrooms, as the book could be read aloud, the clues could be discussed, or teams could be formed to play a trivia type gameI think this series of books can help make learning state history and geography fun.  These books would also be a fun addition to school libraries and homeschool libraries.

Ms. Eldering is the award winning author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad (JGDS), 50-state, mystery, trivia series.  Her stories "Train of Clues", "The Proposal" (available as an ebook), "Tulip Kiss" (available as an ebook), and "Butterfly Halves", all placed first, second, or runner up in various contests to include two for Armchair Interviews and two for Echelon Press (Fast and ... themed type contests).  Her story "Bride-and-Seek" (available as an ebook) was selected for the South Carolina Writers' Workshop (SCWW) anthology, the Petigru Review.  Ms. Eldering makes her home in upper state South Carolina and loves to travel, read, cross stitch and crochet.  When she's not busy with teenaged children still at home, working her full-time job as a medical transcriptionist or participating in virtual classroom visits, she can be found at various homeschool or book events promoting her writing.  

For more information about the JGDS series, please visit the JGDS blog at or the JGDS website at
For more information about Elysabeth's other writings, please visit her general writing and family blog at or her website at

Monday, August 20, 2012

An Interview with Charmaine Clancy

I recently had the opportunity to interview Charmaine Clancy, the author of My Zombie Dog.  

Hi, Charmaine.  Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I live in Brisbane, Australia, and love it here. I’m a learner, and aim to never stop learning. I’ll sign up for classes on just about anything. For the past few years I’ve focused on writing and editing and still have so much to learn on the subject.

Would you describe your desk or workspace?

My workspace is my Macbook. I previously worked from one desk, but now I find I’m more productive moving around. In the mornings I’ll work from my living room, or go out onto the deck if it’s warm, in the afternoons I spend time at a cafe waiting for the kids to come out of school. Sometimes I head into Brisbane’s cultural centre and work in the State Library. I LOVE libraries (even though I never borrow books).

Do you have a favorite quote?

Lately it’s ‘There’s a book in that’. I have no idea where it originated, but my dad and I use it every time something interesting happens.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

Grover’s Monster at the end of this Book. It was my first experience with a book I could actually interact with. Postmodernism at it’s best.

What is the best advice you've ever received? 

‘Just do it’.
Except for somethings, then ‘Don’t do it’.

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

The Incredible Hulk. I think he’d look funny with froth on his upper lip (plus, David Banner... yum).

Do you have any pets, what are they and what are their names?

Zoe and Schroeder - our dogs
Pinkachu - our cat
#37 - My favorite sea-monkey

Where did you get the idea for My Zombie Dog?

We had a little scraggy dog named Fossil. She would attack EVERYTHING. She’d get in lots of fights and then play dead. She lives at my Mum’s now, they seem to understand each other.

I thought, what if you always wanted a dog, and you got Fossil?

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

When I was a kid I wrote ‘novels’, but honestly, I wanted to be lots of things. I’ve also loved teaching high school and grooming dogs. About four years ago, a friend at uni(Amy)was working on her novel, she was so motivated. She typed away every spare moment she had. I was impressed. I’d tried to write novels over the years lots of times and always only got to that cursed chapter three. Amy put me onto an online course on novel writing, and with that course I completed my first full draft of a novel. 

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what's your initial process?

I brainstorm an idea first. I need to work out what I’m trying to say, sometimes it’s a theme and sometimes it’s a character I want to push. Then I get an idea of the story and I dot point 30-40 things that ‘could’ happen. I don’t use them all, but I start arranging them in an order.
I do outline and plot. I must know my ending before I start (even though it usually changes). I need direction. 

I tried pantsing a NaNo novel once and ended up with a big mess of a draft. It’ll be a lot of work rewriting that one.

Could you share about any current writing projects?

I’m working on a few projects. One is a sequel to My Zombie Dog, called Undead Kev. In this one, Zane and Kev take on a secret government facility performing unspeakable experiments and their invisible stealth-monkeys.

I’m also writing a YA novel about an ancient Egyptian princess resurrected today in New York City. Lots of secret prophecies, magical amulets and angry gods.

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

I’m on my blog a lot (maybe too much!). 

and of course theres Twitter: @charmaineclancy

Do you have any final thoughts to share?

Just enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy (unless you’re a psychopath, then the ‘don’t do it’ advice comes in). Be proud of your accomplishments and only measure them against your own potential. You’ll make mistakes, and that’s great, it’s the best way to learn.

A great final thought.  Thank you for being here today.  I enjoyed interviewing you.  
I also look forward to having you back in October when I'll be featuring several of my favorite zombie books.

Thanks for having me Susanne, you’re very generous with your time and always have encouraging comments for bloggers and writers, it doesn’t go unnoticed and really is appreciated!

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Spotlight For Out And About At The Zoo

Out And About At The Zoo

Written and illustrated by Jo Linsdell 

Release Date: 1st June 2012

Product details
ISBN/EAN13: 1477446591 / 9781477446591 

Page Count: 32 

Binding Type: US Trade Paper 

Trim Size: 6" x 9" 

Language: English 

Colour: Full Colour with Bleed 

Related Categories: Juvenile Fiction / Stories in Verse

Purchasing links

About Book
Rhyming text and colourful pictures accompany this fun day out discovering different animals at the zoo.

5 Stars
"Out and About at the Zoo by Jo Linsdell is a delightful story set in rhyme about a boy and his mum. The two spend the day at the zoo and meet many animals along the way. Your child will enjoy reading this book time and time again. The colorful illustrations make this book a joy to read. Pick up a copy of this book and share a day at the zoo memory with your little one".
By Kate Mueller, Author of Bella's Birthday Surprise

5 Stars 

"Out And About At The Zoo is a cute book that describes a child's memory filled trip to the zoo. Are you heading to the zoo and you would like to tell your kids what animals they will see there and what they might be doing? Then Out And About At The Zoo would be a great choice. Easy to understand and easy for children to read along with. It is filled with simple yet colorful pictures that even held my one year old's attention!

Would also make a good gift for young readers who are just beginning to read!"
By Virginia L. Jennings, Author
Jo Linsdell is a freelance writer, author and illustrator. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Rome, Italy with her husband and their two young sons.
Author website:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blog Posts Worth Checking Out

Get Rid of Your Writer's Block    Click here

3 Key Ways to Create Characters That Grip Readers' Hearts    Click here

How to Font your Cover    Click here

Creating Websites or Blogs - Plan First    Click here

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Launch Party for Medieval Muse

Welcome to the launch party for Medieval Muse, a novella written by Karen Elizabeth Brown.  This book is available for free at  

Be sure to get your copy and help Karen celebrate her book's release!


Karen Elizabeth Brown’s passion for writing is what fills her entire life with exhilarating inspiration. She spends her days writing, doing research and studying about the subjects of her stories.

When she’s not writing, she enjoys music and reading, especially medieval fantasy. Born in Southern California, she migrated to Southern Oregon in 1974 where she now resides in the Rogue Valley with her family and friends. Find out more about the author at her official website:


Here are some of the other great bloggers who are helping Karen celebrate the release of Medieval Muse. 



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