Friday, May 30, 2014

Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted today by Random Noodling.

My selection is The Tree That Time Built: a celebration of nature, science and imagination.

This anthology of nature-inspired poems was collected by Mary Ann Hoberman, 2008 U.S. Children's Poet Laureate and Linda Winston, anthropologist and teacher and includes more than 100 poems and a CD.

Poets ranging from Yokoi Yayu (1703-1783) and Wislawa Szymborska (Nobel Prize for Literature 1996) - to names perhaps more familiar: Dylan Thomas, Ogden Nast, Robert Frost and Tony Johnston share the pages offering a rich variety of styles and thoughts on the natural world.  A Glossary, Suggestions for Further Reading and Research, and Thumbnail biographies of the poets provide added depth for this inspiring collection.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Writers Wednesday

The extraordinary Maya Angelou

My favorite quote:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." –Maya Angelou, 1928-2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Nonfiction Monday

For Nonfiction Monday  --  "The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and her tribute to veterans" by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh with paintings by Layne Johnson.


Georgia schoolteacher Moina Michael knew she had to do something to support the young men being sent into combat during World War I. She rolled bandages, knitted socks, provided books and food. She wanted to do more, but what? The answer came to her in the words of a poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae which begins:
"In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,"
Walsh tells the story of how that inspiration became Moina Michaels crusade to show support for the troops both past and present by wearing a red poppy. Walsh informs her work with interviews and references to Michael's book "TheMiracle Flower."
Johnson's paintings convey just the right tone for this thoughtful and inspiring story.

Read about the History of Memorial Day ,

Find her poem: We Shall Keep the Faith

which she wrote as a response to In Flanders Field.

Read In Flanders Field, here.

Enjoy the day and remember!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by VioletNesdoly / poems.

For Poetry Friday -- "Fireflies at Midnight" by Marilyn Singer with pictures by Ken Robbins.


Singer treats her young audience to a lively collection of verses that carry the reader from dawn to midnight on a summer's day. Cheerful robins greet the morning, horses laze in the sun, rabbits disappear at dusk, frogs boast in the evening and fireflies share their brilliance at midnight. Singer collects a diverse group of creatures and each poem effectively capture the voice of the varied animals as she does in these opening lines for "Otter."


"It starts with the slide
with the mud
with the ride.
Then the splash
and the dip
and the flip
and the glide."


This is a book that begs to be read aloud for the pleasure of the words, as an invitation to observe the natural world, and as a lovely introduction to a study of animals.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Writers Wednesday

Are you wondering why that manuscript was rejected . . . again?

You might find the answer in the remarks from an editor, a literary agent, and an author as they respond to the question in this post:

Top 3 Reasons Why Fiction Manuscripts Get Rejected


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Writers Wednesday

Memoir: a written account in which the writer chronicles his/her personal history or the history of someone else based on their own knowledge of the individual.

If you've ever considered writing a memoir then you might enjoy "The Importance of Memories" which is today's post at The Blood-Red Pencil.

The post includes a link to Kim Pearson's posts on the subject of memoir writing.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Nonfiction Monday

For other Nonfiction Monday posts click HERE. 

For Nonfiction Monday  --  "Arlington: the story of our nation's cemetery" written and illustrated by Chris Demarest.


With Memorial Day just two weeks away, it seemed appropriate to share this story of Arlington Cemetery. Demarest has created a work that traces the history of Arlington from its early connection to George Washington through present day. Following the death of his father, George Washington Parke Custis was adopted and raised by his grandparents, George and Martha Washington. At the age of 21, Parke Custis began building Arlington House on land inherited from his father. The property was inherited by Custis' son-in-law, Robert E. Lee and eventually sold to the federal government by Lee's son. The first Revolutionary War dead were reburied at Arlington in 1892.


Demarest's research broadens the scope of the book to include details such as the creation of Freedman's Village, a home to more than one thousand freed slaves and other points of interest related to the Arlington property. The author notes that 300,000 people are buried at Arlington and provides a brief list of some of the familiar writers, activists, justices and presidents. He also includes a list of the many memorials to be found. Demarest concludes his work with a personal look at his own experience of his father's burial at Arlington and a discussion of his illustrations.


Written in picture book format, but crafted for older readers grades 3-6, this is a work that will provide its audience with a well-researched study that is both comprehensive and respectful. Beautiful watercolor illustrations offer glimpses of Arlington from varied perspectives. A timeline, author's notes, and suggestions for further reading provide opportunities for enriched study. Common Core compatible.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by  Jama's Alphabet Soup.

For Poetry Friday -- "Bats at the Beach" written and illustrated by Brian Lies.

"Quick, call out! Tell all you can reach -- the moon is perfect for bats at the beach!"

This story in verse will have no problem finding an appreciative audience. Lies takes the familiar fun of a day at the beach and turns the experience upside down by imagining bats celebrating a summer's night on an empty beach in the moonlight.

Detailed images highlight the fun as bats young and old engage in a rich variety of experiences as they swoop onto the beach with blankets, moon-tan lotion, and picnic baskets brimming with pickled slugs and salted skeeters.  A busy night includes a chance to bury playmates in the sand, create toys out of found objects, fly kites, hold wing-boat races, roast bug mallows, sing and tell stories around a campfire and visit the deserted snack bar for bug treats attracted to a glowing light bulb.

The story carries readers effortlessly thought the night until the rising sun sends the bats winging their way home at sunrise.

I use this book as a read-aloud and it delights students with this twist on human activity and earns its share of laughing groans for the "icky" moments.  Young audiences also find plenty of minutiae to identify as they give the illustrations a second and third look to discover the many fine points that Lies brings to his art.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I'm delighted to host Heidi Thomas today during the blog tour for her newly released novel, Dare to Dream, part of the Dreams Trilogy.

The Cowgirl Behind the Dreams Trilogy

By Heidi M. Thomas


In a scrapbook my grandmother created is a clipping from the Sunburst Sun (Montana) newspaper, Aug. 26, 1922, that reads:


1:00 Parade of cowboys and cowgirls, headed by Cut Bank brass band

2:30 Tootsie Bailey will enter competition with entire field, riding wild steers with only one hand on cirsingle

Another clipping states “Tootsie Bailey won first and Mary (Marie) Gibson second prize in the steer riding.”

Marie Gibson was a well-known Montana cowgirl and won national awards for bronc riding.

Tootsie was my grandmother and she would have been 17 at that time. I did have the opportunity to spend time with her, ride horseback, and get to know her pretty well before she died suddenly when she was only 57 and I was 12.

I know that she was an avid horsewomen and that she was more at home on the back of a horse than behind a dust mop. My dad told me she had competed in rodeos, riding steers, when she was young. I kept thinking how courageous that was, especially as I got older and watched bull and bronc riders. Grandma was petite—five-feet two-inches and weighed a little over 100 pounds. I was amazed that she would pit herself against an animal that weighed 900 pounds or so, one whose sole purpose was to get that pesky rider off its back and then maybe stomp on her!

My character, Nettie, has a dream to become a rodeo star and the tenaciousness to follow that dream. In Cowgirl Dreams  (EPIC Award Winner), during the 1920s, she faces family and social barriers to that dream. The sequel, Follow the Dream (a WILLA Literary Award Winner), finds her still holding on to her dream, yet rethinking how her dream works in with her family and life in Montana.

In the third book in the “Dreams” Trilogy, Dare to Dream, Nettie, now age 36 in 1941, is regaining her heart and spirit, and she is determined to ride again at an event in Cheyenne, Wyoming. To her dismay, the male-dominated Rodeo Association of America enforces its rule barring women from riding rough stock and denies her the chance to ride. Her fury at the discrimination can’t change things for women—yet.



Dare to Dream:

Behind the stands, Nettie found the group of young cowgirls who’d led the color guard, sitting on a log, smoking, checking their makeup in hand mirrors, laughing and gossiping. Just like Nettie, Marie, and the Greenough sisters used to do.

Nettie drew a deep breath. “Howdy, gals. Nice parade this morning.”

The blonde girl, still wearing her “Rodeo Queen” sash over a bright red satin shirt, stepped forward to shake Nettie’s hand. “Hello. Mandy Jacobs. And you’re—?”

 “Nettie Moser.” She scanned the cowgirl’s perfect look, from her glittery eye makeup to the sharp creases in her denims. “Listen, ladies. I’m incensed. I started riding steers in 1920, along with the best of them. And today, I come to sign up, and they tell me ‘No women’s events.’”

The girls stared at Nettie with blank looks.

“What do you think about that? Are we going to let the men do that to us?” Heat rose from Nettie’s core and her voice went up a notch. “After all we’ve done? Lucille Mulhall beat all the men in steer roping, Marie Gibson, Alice and Margie Greenough won national bronc riding championships at Madison Square Garden—” She broke off, realizing that her audience hadn’t a clue. Oh my gosh, they’re too young. “You don’t even know who I’m talking about.”

Books are available through my website, from my publisher, along with her re-published first two novels, Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream.


Heidi M. Thomas grew up on a ranch in eastern Montana and now lives in north-central Arizona where she writes, edits for other authors, teaches community writing classes and blogs She is a member of Women Writing the West (, and Professional Writers of Prescott.

Please leave a comment and your name will be entered into a drawing for one of many awesome prizes!

Tomorrow, Heidi will be hosted by Marsha Ward Fresh Book Friday  Spotlight on Dare to Dream

Writers Wednesday

The historic American West is a topic dear to my heart. I have shelves filled with the subject and spend many happy hours exploring antique books and memoirs on frontier life.

If this is a topic that excites your interest, piques your curiosity or offers you an enthralling escape from modern day, then I suggest your check out one of my favorite websites: WomenWriting the West.

Here you will find authors who write fiction, nonfiction and poetry inspired by their passion for the West.

Be sure to drop by my blog tomorrow.

I'll be hosting a visit from award-winning author, Heidi Thomas as part of her blog tour for her newly released novel, DARE TO DREAM.  "Dare to Dream" is the third part of the Dream trilogy inspired by her grandmother's life competing in the rodeo as a steer and bronc rider in the 1920's.

This is a story you won't want to miss. And if that isn't reason enough, Heidi also has some fun giveaways planned.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nonfiction Monday

For other Nonfiction Monday posts click HERE.

For Nonfiction Monday  --  "The Dolphins of Shark Bay" by Pamela S. Turner with photographs by Scott Tuason.




Veteran "Scientist in the Field" writer, Pamela Turner's talent highlights Janet Mann and her work on the Shark Bay Dolphin Project. Most everyone agrees that dolphins are smart. The Shark Bay Dolphin Project is a twenty-five yearlong study of wild dolphins to discover WHY they are smart.



The answer appears to be in their response to problem solving. Studying mother/calf pairs taught researchers that mother dolphins employee a wide variety of hunting techniques-- some of which include the use of sponges as tools. Skills are passed from mother to child. The complexities of dolphin society are made very clear as readers come to know Puck, her daughter Piccolo, her granddaughters, Flute and Eden along with agile Dodger, the amazing hunter, Wedges, neglectful mom, Nicky and a host of others -- each with their individual personalities and skills. 

Turner follows Mann and her fellow researchers through a season of observations, discoveries and behavior assessments. Turner also provides an enlightening peek into Mann's background and the education and experience that eventually brought her to the Shark Bay Dolphin Project.

Turner's writing is smart, engaging, and informative and will leave readers with a better appreciation for the dedication and complex work of field scientists and a deeper understanding of a dolphin's life in the wild. She also articulates questions regarding whether or not dolphins should be kept in captivity and if so, under what circumstances.  An author's note concludes the book to offer readers additional resources for exploring this fascinating topic and provide updates on familiar friends both human and cetacean.

Tuason's photographs are fresh and bring the dolphins of Shark Bay into brilliant focus.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer