The Unbound Book Festival 

Last weekend I attended the inaugural Unbound Book Festival in Columbia, Missouri.

The event was completely free and I didn’t really know what to expect, but the schedule had a fantastic lineup of authors and panels so of course I was fan-girl excited.

The festival was absolutely incredible!

My friend, Emily, and I only attended two panels due to our schedules, but we will plan better for next year. There were numerous authors, editors, agents and panels scheduled all across Stephens College over the course of the day. It was a bit overwhelming in a “Have I died and gone to book heaven?” sort of way.

This sign was inaccurate. There could be no dawdling if you hoped to see everything 🙂

Oh and there was fabulous food available too! Seriously, the day could not have been better. Well, if I had remembered a pen or a notebook, that would have made the day better. Who goes to a book festival without a pen? Me. And Emily. But look! Tacos!

And here we are without our pens.

2 girls. 1 festival. 0 pens.

Despite the lack of pen and paper. I managed to take a few mental notes and get super inspired.

An Abundance of Lauras

The first panel we attended was “An Abundance of Lauras”. No lie, there were a lot of Lauras!

Laura McHugh (Weight of Blood), Laura McBride (We Are Called to Rise) and Laura Seeger (Children’s book author and illustrator)

Funny. Engaging. Intelligent. Creative. There are so many words to describe these authors.

They each talked about their creative process, balancing work and writing life, inspiration and more, but my biggest takeaway came from Laura Seeger.

She keeps journals filled with all her ideas and inspirations for current and future projects. The journal wasn’t fancy, it was just a blank notebook filled with doodles, words, magazine clippings, and anything else that had caught her eye or crossed her mind.

This in itself is fun but not too out of the ordinary. The really cool thing she does with the journals though is create a content page for each of them. Sort of a table of contents which she can easily reference when she’s working on a project or has another idea and needs to reference some of her brainstorming material.

I loved this!

I have notebooks and journals and computer files all over the place with doodles, quotes, and fragmented sentences that are all supposed to be a record of my ideas, but I have no way of finding anything again unless I go through every single notebook.

She said it doesn’t take much time but she usually keeps up with the content page as she goes.

I need to get started! 🙂

First Page Rodeo

The second panel we attended included a group of experts sharing their thoughts on first pages of novels which had been submitted to the festival.

The panel included Margaret Sutherland Brown (New York literary agent), Greg Michalson (Senior Editor at Unbridled Books), Eleanor Brown (author of The Weird Sisters), and George Hodgman (New York Times bestselling author).

Lots of fabulous insight into the submission process at this one. Since the panel was critiquing first page submissions, it provided a unique view of what agents and editors look for and what will get a rejection or a full manuscript request.

Again, a pen would have come in handy, but the key point that stuck out the most in my mind came from George Hodgman.

In reference to first page submissions, he said never start off with a passage that must be reread to be understood. Avoid confusing phrasing, complicated passages or anything that might pull the reader out of the story before they even get into it.

This tied in with the other panelists’ advice to avoid excessive backstory in the first page or even in the first chapter. The recurring theme seemed to be, keep the action going on the first page. The first page needs to grab the reader’s attention and keep it until they start to care about the characters.

I loved this advice because I am always tempted to explain all about a character or give a lot of backstory when the backstory should really come later in the story or maybe never.

The festival was amazing. The speakers were insightful. And I left completely inspired to write.

Looking forward to next year already!


First Giveaway!

It’s time for the first giveaway ever here at Three Show Saturday!

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

Check out my review of South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf and then enter to win your very own copy of the book!

It’s free! Just show the blog some love by commenting, sharing this post, telling your aunt about the book, etc. 🙂 Contest opens today and closes at Midnight May 1, 2016.

Check out the Rafflecopter after the review for more info on how to enter. Earn up to three entries by completing each step. One winner will be selected from all the entries and the winner will receive one copy of South of Sunshine.

This is my first time using Rafflecopter so if you have any issues let me know.

Happy Reading and Good Luck!

south of sunshine

South of Sunshine

Written by Dana Elmendorf

For Kaycee Jean McCoy, there are few things in Sunshine, Tennessee that she gets excited about, and boys certainly aren’t one of them. Her life consists of Friday night football, working at her Mom’s cosmetic salon, and hanging out with her best friends. Her life is predictable, boring, safe…until the new girl arrives. Bren is tall, beautiful, confident, and Kaycee finds herself drawn to her in a way that is both exciting and frightening. In a town where gossip abounds, church comes first, and anything outside the norm is forbidden, Kaycee might risk everything to discover her true self and find first love.

South of Sunshine written by Dana Elmendorf brings together many topics that will resonate strongly with teenagers. Themes of love, finding oneself, fitting in, and small town life are woven together beautifully by Kaycee’s entertaining and touching narration. Many teens know what it’s like to live in a small town and will understand all too well the adversity Kaycee faces by following her heart. While all teens will relate to the drama which abounds in high school. This book delivers a wonderful message of both accepting oneself and accepting others. The topic of teenage sexuality is handled with care by the author, resulting in a thought-provoking narration. Appropriate for teens due to some scenes of romance.

Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Follow this link to enter the giveaway (click the words “a Rafflcopter giveaway” not the web address below it):

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Unfortunately I’m having trouble with the java script so the cute little Rafflecopter icon won’t show up here 😦  But follow the link and you should be able to enter.


Sunday Special

Happy Sunday!

I have an exciting post for later this week all about the Unbound Book Festival in Columbia, Missouri! My friend and I went yesterday and loved it! We didn’t spend the whole day but next year we will plan a little better 🙂

Today I have a new Christian book review for you and later this week I’ll put up reviews that have appeared in my newspaper column.

I’ll also be participating in a blog tour in May with an author interview, and I am so excited to share this book and amazing author with you all!

On to the review…

my little bible

My Little Bible

Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer

Published by Tommy Nelson

Children are never too young to hear exciting tales from the Bible. Tales of love, adventure, courage, and helping others. My Little Bible presents Biblical stories in a format easy for children to grasp. Fully illustrated with beautiful, detailed images, little ones are sure to want to read about baby Moses, Noah, Daniel and others again and again.

My Little Bible has been designed specifically for children. The Biblical passages have been summarized carefully in a way children can understand. Each story is accompanied by the Bible verse where the story originates, a full-color illustration, and a question either about the illustration or the story.

These short, high-interest stories will introduce children to many important Biblical figures. The selection of verses spans Old and New Testament, and both popular and less familiar verses.

While the book is designed for young children, and the small size is supposedly better suited to small hands, the book seems a bit small. The size could make it difficult for parents to read with children, but little ones will certainly feel special having their own little Bible to carry wherever they go.

Thank you BookLook Bloggers and Tommy Nelson publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Mud Show Monday

adventure bible activity book

Adventure Bible: Wild About the Bible Sticker and Activity Book

Published by Zonderkidz

Inspired by the Adventure Bible and the I Can Read Adventure Bible series, this sticker and activity book brings Biblical stories and people to kids in a fun way. Fully illustrated and packed full of puzzles, kids will love learning about the Bible. Stories include Creation, Noah, Moses, Esther, and the parable of the lost son. Connect-the-dots, crosswords, word puzzles, mazes, word searches and lots of stickers, make this a fun activity book for children ages 4 to 8.

Zonderkidz consistently produces high-quality and engaging Biblical content for kids. Their Adventure Bible line is no exception. The I Can Read series is exceptional and this activity book is full of eye catching illustrations and creative puzzles. The stories are not described in detail, but enough information is provided to either get kids interested in wanting to read more, or provide further learning for children familiar with the Bible. The book is not divided into Old or New Testament stories. While this is just an activity book, it would have been nice to have more organization. For example, Noah activities appear opposite an activity about Jesus. Overall, a fun addition to Bible school, children’s church, Sunday school or for a home library.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Zonderkidz for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Maybe a Fox

Written by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

Sylvie and Jules are as close as two sisters can be. They do nearly everything together, except for when Sylvie wants to run fast. Sylvie is the fastest, and Jules has no hope of catching her when she decides to run. Jules doesn’t like being left behind when her sister runs fast, but she knows her sister will always come back….right? Deep in the woods, Sylvie runs and a fox is about to be born. Could the two events be connected in any way? What if this fox is a special fox….a fox not entirely of this world? A fox that will become a part of the girls’ lives in a way they never imagined.

“Maybe a Fox” written by Kathii Appelt and Alison McGhee is told mostly from the third person perspective of Jules. Other perspectives include the neighbor boy, Sam, and the fox. The back and forth storytelling style is lovely and gives the book a wonderful rhythm. This book is difficult to put down as the reader will continuously wonder what comes next. The characters are beautifully developed and readers will weep through much of this book. The ending felt a bit rushed after the gentle pace of the rest of the book, but it was not so terrible as to ruin the whole story. A moving and clever piece, sure to leave readers thinking about the world in new ways.

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.
Reviews PublishedProfessional Reader

Interview With Author Belinda Jensen

Welcome to the first author interview here at Three Show Saturday!

A portion of this interview appeared in this week’s newspaper column. The full interview is printed below.

Belinda Jensen, author and creator of the Bel the Weather Girl series, is also chief meteorologist for the NBC station in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. Ms. Jensen has been a broadcast meteorologist for twenty-six years, but is just beginning her career as an author. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing, and life as a meteorologist.

How long have you been writing and when did you publish your first book?


These are my first books, I started writing them August of 2014 and wrapped up the following spring.

Where do you find your writing inspiration?


My inspiration for writing came from numerous 2nd graders that I spoke to over the years.  I have been a meteorologist for 25 years and I have spoken to countless 7 and 8 year olds and their curiosity and anxiety toward the weather fueled these books.

What inspired you to write A PARTY FOR CLOUDS?


All of the books the entire set of six stemmed from stories that I told the students that seemed to resonate and ignite them into understanding the science behind the weather.  A Party for Clouds was created for all of those boys and girls and parents that have sleepless nights because of loud, scary thunderstorms.  This book explains how simply counting will explain the science behind thunder and lightning but also ends up to be a great distraction that could get you through the night.

What is your favorite kind of weather?


My favorite kind of weather is sunny, mild day with low humidity.  Nothing better!

What was your most memorable moment while broadcasting?


My most memorable moment during my broadcast career so far is probably not a moment, it is a season!  Two winters ago the winter of 2013-2014.  It was the coldest winter in 35 years and that is saying quite a bit in Minnesota.  It was remarkably cold and snowy and I will never forget it!  P.S. I do the weather outside every night at my station….every night!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?


When I was a kid I wanted to be a veterinarian, florist of social studies teacher.  Meteorology did not break through as a possibility until around 10th grade.

What was your favorite book as a child?


I have to be honest I was a terrible reader and still don’t read a lot!  I was more of analytical mind for numbers…..but I do remember distinctly “Where the Red Fern Grows” and “Charlotte’s Web”

Who has most inspired you in your career?


Many people have inspired me over the years but I had a great teacher back in high school that really set me off with some great expectations.   Mr. Dan Gavin, and a great meteorologist here at KARE 11 who I interned for in college Paul Douglas were my mentors.

What do you feel is the most rewarding aspect of being a meteorologist?


Weather is big deal around this neck of the woods.  I have been at this station for 23 years so how this community owns you and feels like you are part of their family is really rewarding.

What advice would you give to young writers?


To young writers I would tell them to follow their passions and if those are science that is FABULOUS, because the job opportunities in science are great.  Learning and writing about anything that they are curious about will fuel these ideas and options.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing?


I love skiing, diving, tennis, paddleboarding, and now I am trying wake surfing with my kids.  We try to enjoy the warm months and soak them in as much as we can as a family.

What is the most interesting place you have visited?


Probably Utah, it is an amazing state with so much to explore.  I lived there for 4 years and my parents spend the winter there and I love visiting them.  I have so much more to explore and I look forward to doing that with my kids.

Name one interesting fact about yourself unrelated to writing

I love being a nerd.  I love facts, I love maps, and charts.  I could look at them forever.

Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

My website…

I am excited to set out on this new adventure of writing books and I hope that kids like them and they help them understand and be less anxious about the weather.    Once you understand it, it is not nearly as scary.

party for clouds

Christian Book Reviews

I was out of town yesterday so missed putting up my Sunday reviews on Sunday. Here are a few new reviews for parents or children looking for Christian-themed books.

Later this week I will have an author interview to share! And more great reviews which will be in this week’s newspaper. Then next month I will be part of a blog tour for a new picture book debuting in May.

Thanks for sticking with me while my schedule is a bit crazy 🙂

Yay for new books!

under sea bible

Under the Sea: Holy Bible

This New International Reader’s Version of the Holy Bible is beautiful with it’s sea themed cover and inserts. This is not a children’s beginning reader Bible, this is the full text of the Bible with a cute cover and three pages dispersed throughout with readings designed for children.

Under the Sea: Holy Bible would make a great gift for a young person. This Bible is not designed for a very young child, but a pre-teen would appreciate the design and enjoy the insightful meditations on the inserts. The inserts cover love, the ten commandments, prayer and what it means to be a christian. There is also a page listing passages related to children in the Bible which is especially interesting.

Overall, a beautifully designed Bible that could be treasured as a first Bible for children.

And now reviews of two board books. I thought these were picture books when I requested them, but I’m fairly certain they are board books. I received e-copies so I’m not positive about the print format but the text is exceptionally simple.

noahs noisy animals

Noah’s Noisy Animals

By Rebecca Elliot

The ark is full of animals. And those animals are noisy! Two lions, two monkeys and more will squawk, snap and roar as children read through this colorful biblical themed tale.

“Noah’s Noisy Animals” written by Rebecca Elliot is perfect for toddlers. Bright colors, short phrases and lots of animal sounds will encourage interaction among reader, child and the book. Simple, short and sweet, a great board book for nurseries and home libraries.

silent night

A Not So Silent Night

By Rebecca Elliot

All is dark, but all is not quiet. Night time should be quiet time, but there are too many animals in the stable for that. Will the animals wake the baby?

“Not So Silent Night” written by Rebecca Elliot is another board book great for toddlers. Once again bright, colorful pictures and fun animal sounds combine in a short, simple text. There is little to critique with such a short, simple book, but the baby is only referred to as “the baby” which feels out of place when Mary and Joseph are referred to as “Mary” and “Joseph”. Children are not likely to notice and perhaps the omission of the baby’s name could start simple conversation about the first Christmas and the identity of the baby in the stable.

Thank you to BookLook Bloggers and Net Galley for copies of the books in exchange for my honest review.

Like Sand Through The Hourglass…

“The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”
― C.S. Lewis

I remember when I started college, everyone complained about how many years they would be in school if they decided to become a veterinarian.

Four years of undergraduate study! Four years of veterinary school! Eight years of classes and exams!

Perhaps eight years is a long time. For an 18 year old, that’s 44% of their life. For a 24 or 25 year old, that’s about 33%, or 1/3 of their life. That’s a lot of time to devote to something.

But then I remember someone saying…the time will pass anyway.

I googled this to see if there was a quote this statement originally might have come from and I found this wonderful gem:

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”
― Earl Nightingale

Often a situation just needs a new perspective. In this case, everyone was complaining about how long it would take to achieve the goal of becoming a veterinarian. But, it’s not really about the time is it?

4 years, 8 years….time passes anyway. But will you be a veterinarian at the end of 8 years? Will you be an author? A pilot? A teacher? An electrician? Or will you be in exactly the same circumstances as you were at the start of those 8 years?

Will you use your time to achieve a dream? Or will time just pass?

Sometimes with writing, the word counts for novels can be overwhelming. How could I ever write a 65,000 word story? Or even 20,000 words. That would take so much time!

But then I try to remind myself that the time will pass anyway.

“You may delay, but time will not.”
― Benjamin Franklin

If I wrote 1,000 words a day, at the end of 20 days I would have a rough draft of a middle grade book, or in 65 days I would have a rough draft of a young adult book.

One month, two months….where will I be?

Will I have a draft to work with at the end of two months or will I still be sitting and dreaming?

As I’ve been reminded in many books I’ve read lately, time is not guaranteed to anyone. No one knows how much time they have and yet it’s often perceived as both a cheap, infinite resource, and as an expensive, limited one.

“I have all the time in the world to get that done!”


“That would take too much time!”

It’s not always easy to remember. Dreams can seem overwhelming. Other aspects of life get in the way and use up precious hours, but things worth having are always worth the time.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Book Review: 101 Ways to Have Fun

I’ll have some new posts for you all this week. I’ve been working on a lot of projects lately and busy keeping up with my newspaper column and haven’t had a chance to get things posted here.

Here’s a new book review for girls ages 9 and up.

101 ways to have fun

101 Ways To Have Fun

From the Editors of Faithgirlz and Girls’ Life magazine

Need fun ideas for your next slumber party or birthday party? Want to have a girls’ day with makeovers and manicures? This book is packed with ideas for crafts, activities, parties, and more. Girls of all ages will find something to do on a rainy day or when hanging out with friends.

“101 Ways To Have Fun” from the Editors of Faithgirlz and Girls’ Life magazine, brings together a collection of fun and wholesome activities for girls of all ages. Some activities are better for teens but many activities can be enjoyed by preteens too. This would also be a good resource for parents when planning a party.

The book is well illustrated with pictures of all the activities and detailed instructions. Some of the titles run into the binding which is a bit annoying but not impossible to read. Also some of the activities suggested for making money slightly overestimate the amount of money a teen or preteen could make. It’s great that the book suggests business ideas but perhaps a little more realistic wage estimate would have been appropriate.

Also the book lacks any biblical or faith related activities. While the activities are great, since this book is published by a Christian publisher and from the Editors of faith-based magazines, parents and readers might expect suggestions of church group activities or biblical meditations.

Overall, a fun read, and highly recommended for parents, teens and preteens.


Thank you BookLook Bloggers and Zonderkidz for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.