Halloweensie Contest Entry!

Writing Contest Time!

I’m so excited to participate in this year’s Halloweensie Writing Contest hosted by Susanna Hill!

If you’ve not been by her blog, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a great resource for aspiring writers, and she runs awesome contests throughout the year!

This is my first time participating in the Halloween contest, and I have had so much fun reading some of the entries so far. Check out all the entries or write your own! Either way, you’re sure to have fun.

I had snippets of ideas bouncing around my head, but nothing that came together in 100 words or in any words at all haha. Finally, I had a bit of creativity hit me and this is the result.

It’s good to make my brain work, and I think that is the best part of these contests. I write things I wouldn’t normally think of writing or with restrictions I wouldn’t normally place on myself.

See the full rules at the link above, but here is a quick summary: Write a 100 word (or less) Halloween story suitable for children and including the words GHOST, MOON and SPIDER.

Here is my 100 word entry 🙂


Beneath Halloween Moon

On Halloween Night,

The moon sings a song.

I’ll tell you the words,

And we’ll all sing along.

“Whisper and whistle,

Witch, Ghoul, and Ghost.

Come Spider, come Specter,

More scary than most.

Come Beastlies, come boy,

Come Gremlin, come girl.

Dance for the moon,

Tap, twist and twirl.

Frantic and frightful,

A magical tune.

Dance Halloween beasts!

Beneath Halloween moon.”

On Halloween Night,

The moon sings a song.

All the beasts gather,

All the beasts sing along.

Whisper and whistle,

Boy beast and Girl beast.

We all sing along,

To the magical tune.

Dance Halloween beast!

Beneath Halloween moon.

Spooky Stories!

Looking for some fun Halloween stories for the whole family?

I’ve been reading spooky stories all month and some are more sweet than spooky, perfect for sharing with even the youngest book lover.


mystery-of-the-haunted-farm

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm (2016, Nosy Crow/Candlewick, Picture Book)

Something spooky is going on at Farmer Greg’s farm. Ghosts, zombies, and slimy things are everywhere! Farmer Greg calls in the Ghost-Hunters and those three pigs get to work. But when they get out their Scare-O-Meter, it doesn’t detect anything unusual at the farm. Something really scary is going on!

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm, written and illustrated by Elys Dolan, is silly, spooky fun just in time for Halloween! The layout is similar to a comic book with speech in bubbles and some illustrations framed in sequence. There is a lot going on in both the illustrations and the text, and little ones will likely want to examine each illustration closely. While this might not be the most read-aloud friendly book due to the vast number of speech bubbles on some pages, it could definitely be a fun book to enjoy with beginning and independent readers where you and the young reader take turns reading pages. The format of this book isn’t for everyone, and some may find the pages too chaotic with the number of random words and dialogue. But for those who like comics or non-traditional formats, this book is a fun and silly read, perfect for sharing with children on Halloween.

4 stars to scare away the zombie ducks!


hubble-bubble

Hubble Bubble: The Super Spooky Fright Night (2016, Nosy Crow/Candlewick, Chapter-Book)

When Pandora’s Granny tries to help, things never go as planned. And since Granny is a witch, her magic makes even the most mundane situations ridiculous. From dancing pumpkins at a party, to teddy bears coming to life, to a flat tire turning into a circus, life with Granny is always an adventure!

The Super Spooky Fright Night, written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Joe Berger, is the first book in a fun new series for young independent readers. It’s difficult to find beginning chapter books that are both easy to read and have an engaging storyline, and this book definitely delivers. The characters are fun, and the situations are sure to get lots of giggles. Broken down by chapters and divided into three parts, this book is actually three short books in one. The format is great for those with short attention spans or as a quick story before bed. The length makes young readers feel like they are reading a book for older children, but it is still fully illustrated to keep their attention. This is a book parents will enjoy reading aloud, and can also be enjoyed by independent readers ages six to eight.

5 stars for Granny’s next magical potion!


Thank you to Net Galley and Candlewick for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

The Midnight Glass

Hello all!

I’m excited to present you with a wonderful new middle-grade dark fantasy! I had planned to do several spooky posts all month long, and while I achieved that goal in my newspaper column, I can’t say the same for the blog.

But, to make up for it….I will be posting Halloween posts every day starting today through Monday!

This might cut into my Hocus Pocus watching time, but I’m willing to make that sacrifice…only for you.

I’m kicking off this fun weekend with a big post! I have a review, a publisher interview and an author interview to share. Get excited 🙂

And now…on with the show!

The Midnight Glass

the-midnight-glass

When I first heard of this book, I was immediately intrigued by the title. And I’ll admit, I did judge it by its cover…because I loved the cover!

Then I watched the book trailer….

And I knew I had to read this book!

I love that this book is from a new publisher and they have put forth a fantastic first book. The cover design, layout and feel of the book is fantastic. I would not have known this was a publisher’s first attempt if they hadn’t told me.


The Midnight Glass (2016, Branford Books, Middle-Grade Dark Fantasy)

When Wyatt’s mom accepts a new job, their family moves to the mysterious town of Davenport. Secretive and secluded, the town exists deep in the woods locked behind a gate. Wyatt is excited for the move, until they actually arrive. He thinks he must be seeing things when his classmates have green skin, gills, fangs and more! But the residents of Davenport aren’t the only mysterious thing…Wyatt learns the greatest mystery of all is that Davenport hasn’t seen the sun in over 400 years. As he adjusts to life in eternal darkness, Wyatt learns more and more about Davenport’s deadly secrets.

The Midnight Glass, written by D.T. Vaughn, is a great dark fantasy for Middle-Grade readers. With just the right amount of creepiness, readers will be eager to learn more about Davenport without being too scared to read in the dark. Readers will identify with Wyatt as he is bullied at his school and then doesn’t quite fit in at his new school in Davenport either. As Wyatt makes friends and stands up to bullies, children will root for him. Adding in all the fantasy elements, including curses and weird creatures, plus the normalcy of middle school, moving, and fitting in, makes this a book that touches on many popular themes. Some may find the pacing a bit slow, but most will be drawn into the rich world crafted by the author. Fantasy seems to be a popular genre for Middle-Grade, and adding the darker elements will likely appeal to many readers.

This story has all the elements to make it a hit with readers ages 9 to 12. For the hard to please pre-teen boys, this is an especially good choice.

Imaginative and fun, this book will have readers imagining their own Davenport, and all the adventure they might have there.

4 stars to hang in the brilliant night sky of Davenport!

Interview with Branford Books

I’m excited to introduce you all to a new face in the publishing world. Branford Books has debuted with a strong title in The Midnight Glass, and I’m excited to help spread the word! They were also kind enough to sit down and answer some questions about their new company and the future of Branford Books.

When was Branford Books established and what is your mission? 

Branford Books began in 2016 with the idea of starting something fresh for the publishing industry. Our goal is to bring new and exciting fantasy books to readers of all ages. We started our mission with one of our favorite genres, middle-grade.

Who is the owner/founder of Branford Books?

Branford Books is comprised of editor Shawn Conley, publicist Lauren Ruggles, and D. T. Vaughn, our first author.

What kinds of books do you publish?

Fantasy is at our forefront for books we’d like to publish, and that really umbrellas all of the subgenres from urban to high-fantasy to more subtle themes. Ultimately, we love books that spark the imagination and have well-designed characters to tug at our heart strings.

Congratulations on the release of your first novel, THE MIDNIGHT GLASS! Do you have any more releases planned for the near future?

Thank you for the well wishes for THE MIDNIGHT GLASS. We really hope the book captures readers like it has captured us! We are putting a lot of our energy behind this project because we feel that it deserves it; but as soon as 2017 rolls around, expect to see some enchanting new stories.

Are you open to submissions? And if so, how can an aspiring (or established) author submit to you?

At this time, we are not taking unsolicited material. However, that may change. We invite authors to visit our website and subscribe to our mailing list for updates.

What have been the biggest struggles with starting a publishing company?

The publishing industry is constantly changing and that can be a challenge. We love this business and we’re stockpiling new and exciting ideas to spark reader interest.

What do you hope for the future of Branford Books?

We aim to establish followings of fantasy readers who are always looking for the next exhilarating read. We also intend to have some of our books shift to new media like movies and television. It’s a process we’ve already begun, and it’s more thrilling than we could have ever imagined!

Anything else you’d like to say about Branford Books or THE MIDNIGHT GLASS?

If you’re a reader who loves Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Louis Sachar’s Holes, or Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, we couldn’t recommend a better book for you than THE MIDNIGHT GLASS. It’s the dark fantasy novel about a lovable boy against the deadliest of odds. Get it in print and eBook on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or our site, BranfordBooks.com.

Interview with author D.T. Vaughn

The author of The Midnight Glass was kind enough to answer a few questions about the writing process and life as an author. I’m excited to share this interview with you and hope it offers some valuable insight into the writing process.

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

I started writing when I was about eight or nine years old. I would create little short stories in class and read them aloud to the other kids during story time. The first set of little books I wrote were called The Homework Stealer series. They were about a little man who secretly crept in at night and stole kids’ homework! Come to think of it… that might make a really good series now. The Midnight Glass is my first full-length book. I’m both the writer and the illustrator.

Where do you find your writing inspiration?

I often find myself coming up with ideas while I’m on the treadmill. It’s a funny place to think of them, but I just blank out to the world and imagine characters interacting with each other. My nephews are also huge inspirations for my middle-grade ideas. They have a lot of energy and it really sticks to me when I think about kids and how they experience the world.

What inspired you to write THE MIDNIGHT GLASS?

For THE MIDNIGHT GLASS, I pulled ideas from my past and present. As a kid I was obsessed with the idea of living amongst werewolves and mermaids. So, I decided to create a world based on that. My family also gave me a lot of inspiration to write this book.

How long did it take you to write THE MIDNIGHT GLASS?

The first draft took about a month. However, there were many, many more drafts after that and the book took about nine months to complete.

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

A rock star! And I was! For years I wrote music in a band and toured the nation. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of great people. Maybe one day I’ll write about that, too.

What was your favorite book as a child?

That’s a tough one to answer! I was a huge fan of Roald Dahl, but I also loved Louis Sachar’s Sideways Stories from Wayside School. I think I’ve read that book more times than any other. He did a fantastic job of bringing to life each student and giving them an identity, wish, and purpose.

Who has most inspired you in your writing career?

In college, I worked at an elementary school full of amazing kids. They loved my weird drawings and stories about things like gluttonous hamsters and thieving goldfish. That was about ten years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I often pull inspiration from what they liked the most.

What struggles have you faced on your way to becoming an author?

At first, the hardest part was the risk. I’m a full-time writer and I freelance various projects. However, starting a business can be scary. I worked nonstop for months before taking the leap and doing it full-time. Now taking risks is just part of the job and it’s crazy to see how they can work out.

What advice would you give to young writers?

First, writing is a career. If you love doing it, then you should go for it! Second, write as much as you can to improve. Third, ask for both praise and constructive criticism from peers and professionals. The praise will help determine your strengths and the constructive criticism will help you improve the gaps.

Name one interesting fact about yourself unrelated to writing 🙂

I’m a self-described sloth enthusiast! Even just seeing a sloth makes my eyes water with joy. Okay, that makes me sound crazy, but I don’t care–I love them!

Where can readers learn more about you and your books?

I invite everyone to visit TheMidnightGlass.com to watch the stunning book trailer and to read more about me. I’m also available for readings and lectures if you want to meet me in person, just visit BranfordBooks.com for the contact.

Anything else you’d like to mention about THE MIDNIGHT GLASS or your writing career?

Thank you to everyone who has read this interview. Branford Books is a small business, which means that word of mouth means the world. If you liked THE MIDNIGHT GLASS, please tell your friends and family. Maybe even order a copy for a kid you know for the holidays. Hopefully, they’ll enjoy it, too! Again, thank you for your support. I greatly appreciate it.


Eager to experience the world of Davenport and learn about the midnight glass? Check it out for yourself! The Midnight Glass is available now!


Thank you to Branford Books and D.T. Vaughn for taking time participate in my interviews and for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Secret of Goldenrod

The Secret of Goldenrod

Written By Jane O’Reilly

 

“The littlest things make you happy.”

“As the littlest things should,” Augustine said.

I requested this book when it first became available on Net Galley, and it has been a struggle not to start reading it right away. But I have to keep to my schedule if I want to get all my reviews done, and so I had to put off reading this for months and months while it continued to taunt me from my virtual shelf.

peer

Then Lerner Publishing put out this great behind-the-scenes blog post about the editing process and they used The Secret of Goldenrod as their example.

As you can see by my comment on their post, I’ve waited since April to read this book!

I loved their post for two reasons:

1. It had an outstanding (and super short) excerpt from the book, and 2. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the publishing process.

But now, at last, I have read The Secret of Goldenrod and get to share it with you all.

cheering_minions

With an October 1st publishing date, this is the perfect tale to kick off Halloween season.

A lonely girl…
A mysterious old house…
An antique doll.

So many things intrigued me about this book, but the antique doll really did it. What’s not to love about a possibly haunted house and creepy antique doll?

There are many things I loved about this book, but let me start with the one thing I didn’t love. I’ll get that out of the way, and then the rest of the post will just be a profession of all the wonderful things about this book.

For a book centering around a haunted house, the story was not very scary. I realize this is a middle-grade novel, so we don’t want to terrify young children, but a few times the story had the opportunity to crank up the scariness, and it fell just short of the spine-tingling mark. As it shied away from delivering truly scary scenes, it also shied away from dealing with heavy issues faced by the main character and her father.

And that’s all I’m going to say on that note, because overall I thought the book was great, and it will be a fantastic Halloween read for many young readers. In fact, the lack of terrifying scenes probably makes it better for many readers (and their parents).

These are a few of my favorite things

This book is chock full of fantastic middle-grade themes.

  1. Loneliness
  2. Family
  3. Making Friends
  4. Fitting In

While Trina is not your average fifth grader, she is someone children will still relate to. The only daughter of a single father, she loves school but faces “new kid” challenges nearly every year as her father moves a lot to fix up old houses.

This year, her new school jitters are compounded by the fact the whole town thinks Goldenrod, the house her and her father are living and working in, is haunted. With no friends, and no desire to return to school, Trina throws herself into the work with her father and ends up finding a mysterious and beautiful antique doll.

Trina is headstrong and adventurous, but that doesn’t get her into quite as much trouble as the reader might expect. As I mentioned before, the book shies away from anything too dastardly, so Trina approaches, but always stays well away from crossing the lines of temptation and trouble making. That’s not to say she doesn’t find herself in precarious situations, its just that the situations always work out a little too perfectly.

With a small cast of main characters, Trina and her doll take the spotlight with the house also featuring as a major character in its own way. Trina’s dad is a lovable character and the changing dynamics between him and his growing daughter are amusing and sweet. While Trina is the most developed character, the other characters don’t feel flat or act as fillers. Each character serves a purpose, and ultimately plays an important part in the story arc.

Weaving in generous amounts of traditional fairy tales, the story has a magical charm about it that is reminiscent of childhood, when anything seemed possible. I left this book wanting to read old fairy tales and renovate a Victorian house….and possibly play with antique dolls.

A beautifully told tale of family and home, this story is full of thought-provoking moments and poignant quotes. While I wish heavy emotions had been dealt with more directly and openly, this book still has resounding messages of love and forgiveness, which will resonate with readers of all ages.

This is a book children will adore. Highly recommended for children 8 and up.

5 stars for the book to wear forever and ever.

“What is more special than forever and ever?”

Thank you to Net Galley and Lerner Publishing for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday Special

Hello to all and I hope you had a wonderful and rejuvenating weekend!

I’m bringing you a new review today thanks to Book Look Bloggers and Zonderkidz!

love-letters-from-god

I received a copy of Love Letters from God Holy Bible NIrV, and once again, I am impressed with the Bibles Zonderkidz produces for children.

This book contains the complete text of the New International Reader’s Version of the Bible alongside letters for the reader which are formatted to be “written by God”.

The idea of God writing letters directly to the child is fun and a creative way to engage young children with Biblical text. Unlike some other children’s Bibles that only have a few inserts throughout, there are 80 letters throughout the book plus other bonus content like full-color inserts and writing prompts.

The letters encourage personal reflection and offer greater understanding of selected verses. By encouraging children to write their own letter to God, children are offered a different way to connect with God and the scripture.

Something to perhaps keep in mind, is to make sure children understand the letters aren’t really from God and those aren’t his true word, but they are a lovely way to facilitate his word and interpret it for children.

This Bible would be great for church libraries, children’s church and other church lessons for younger children.


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