Friday, August 29, 2014

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Check It Out.

For Poetry Friday -- "Monumental Verses" by J. Patrick Lewis"


Verses from the esteemed J. Patrick Lewis -- need I say more?
This is a wonderful collection that pays homage to some of man's most amazing monuments. Lewis takes readers around the world -- from ancient Stonehenge and the colossal Great Wall of China to the engineering marvel of the Golden Gate Bridge and the inspiring Statue of Liberty.  The beauty of the Taj Mahal, the mysteries of Easter Island, and the grandeur of Machu Picchu are all celebrated within the pages along with others.

Traditional rhyming schemes share space with concrete, free verse and acrostic poems as Lewis invites readers to contemplate and appreciate the imagination, skill, and dedication required to create each monument that appears in stunning photographs.

The book includes a map showing the location of each monument and additional information.

What a beautiful way to integrate Language Arts and Social Studies.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Nonfiction Monday

For other Nonfiction Monday posts click HERE. 

For Nonfiction Monday  --  "Fall leaves: colorful and crunchy" by Martha E. H. Rustad with illustrations by Amanda Enright. 


Fall Leaves is one book in a series by Rustad that includes: Animals in Fall, Fall Weather, Fall Pumpkins, Fall Harvests, and Fall Apples.  Each of these books is very accessible for young readers. Short sentences and simple language is paired with colorful, child-friendly illustrations. 
Fall leaves introduces children to the process of photosynthesis through a discussion of leaves and how they perform vital functions in nature from their first appearance in the spring through their colorful appearance in the fall. The text is enhanced with sidebars that provide additional detail. A leaf activity, glossary and index complete the book.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Live Your Poem.

For Poetry Friday -- "R is for rhyme: a poetry alphabet" written by Judy Young and illustrated by Victor Juhasz


The title leaves no doubt as to what will be found between the covers.  Young's work measures up to the challenge that begins with "A is for Acrostic" and delivers extra content as well.  Each poem is accompanied by a sidebar that adds interesting facts and additional depth, poses questions to be pondered, and supplies topics for discussion. "B is for ballads" offers up a history of this form, cites Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith and includes a discussion of meter. "D is for doublet" demonstrates how the form is built on a word ladder.  E is for end rhyme" provides examples of rhyming patterns and so on.  


 Juhasz indulges his well-documented talent for caricatures in the bold illustrations.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Writers Wednesday


Mark your calendars. Set your watches. And check out THE POETRY MARATHON --

CHALLENGE YOURSELF  to create a poem every hour for 24 hours.

The Marathon runs from 9 AM EDT on Saturday, August 23rd 2014 through 9 AM EDT on Sunday, August 24th.

There is also a half marathon.

For information click HERE.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by My Juicy Little Universe.

For Poetry Friday -- "Sea stars: saltwater poems" by Avis Harley with photographs by Margaret Butschler.


Harley's verses range from thoughtful and cautionary -- "Do not pollute/this pristine sea:/an anemone's enemies/are you and me" -- to playful as a crab shares: "A toe-pinching scrimmage/has damaged my image..."). Poems in a variety of forms: haiku, rhyming couplets, acrostic and more explore and celebrate the world beneath the waves and along the tidal shore. 

Butschler's photos are engaging and are a lovely reflection of the words. A delicate moon jellyfish, two starfish struggling with one another, an otter dining on a crab, fish, and whales are highlighted in words and pictures.

Author's notes at the back provide biological facts about each animal.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Nonfiction Monday

For other Nonfiction Monday posts click HERE. 

For Nonfiction Monday  --  "Animal Eggs: an amazing clutch of mysteries& marvels!" by Dawn Cusick & Joanne O'Sullivan."


The cover art depicting insects, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish invites youthful scientists to explore the variety of egg-laying creatures to be found inside this photo-illustrated book. The table of contents lists the following : Egg Layers, Egg Shapes & Sizes, Egg Colors, Egg Guarders, Egg Stealers, Egg Shelters, Egg Escapers, Gross or Cool? , Whose Egg Is This? challenges readers with a picture identification quiz.  A Glossary & Index complete the text.


The Egg Layers introduction informs readers that over a hundred egg-laying creatures will be found in the pages. The expected examples of frogs, sea turtles, clown fish and alligators share space with the less familiar skinks, copecods (a shrimp-like animal), apple snails, fruit flies and a host of other animals.


An easy-to-read format coupled with colorful close-ups will keep curious students turning the pages.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Writers Wednesday

In celebration of her newly released book,


Shirley Raye Redmond is my guest today with an interesting post about the use of historical research in works of fiction.


By Shirley Raye Redmond

I love the thrill of the chase! Because I write primarily nonfiction and historical fiction, I rely heavily on research to enhance my plotting and character development. But when I get my teeth into a juicy historical tidbit, I can’t let go. Generally, I have far more notes and resources going into a new project than I ever use in the final product—whether it’s an historical novel like PRUDENCE PURSUED (Astraea Press, July 2014) or a nonfiction book for teens like CITIES OF GOLD (Cengage Gale).

When it comes to keeping track of my discoveries, I’ve learned the hard way over the years to “spare no ink” and that includes printer ink and the copy machine too. I always photocopy the page with ISBN, copyright date, and publisher’s info. I copy any page I glean information from and make sure the page number is indicated. I use only credible Internet sources (most editors have told me not to use Wikipedia as a quotable source) and I cut and paste the website address on to a resource sheet for my files along with the date I did so. You should also record the date you cut and paste the page in case the site is down by the time an editor wants to verify your facts.

But if I am writing fiction, is all that necessary, you ask? Yes! You’d be surprised how often an editor has wanted me to verify facts mentioned in a novel. One editor made me change the last names of a couple of characters because she didn’t think they were credible (if only I had copied the phone book page where I’d gleaned those names!) and another editor made me change the style and shape of a bookcase in my suspense novel STONE OF THE SUN. So, yes, research matters even in fiction. But of course, I don’t want to do a big information dump in the middle of tale.

Author Jack Bickham once wrote this about descriptive details: “Description must be worked in carefully in bits and pieces to keep your reader hearing and seeing and feeling in your story world. But please note the language here: it must be worked in a bit at a time, not shoveled in by the page.” I believe the same is true about factual information. Sprinkle it around, don’t shovel it.

My latest novel, PRUDENCE PURSUED, was in fact inspired by the research I did on a middle grade biography about Edward Jenner, the British physician responsible for the first smallpox vaccine and the father of immunology. I was a bit surprised to learn he lived and worked before and during the time frame generally known as the Regency period. For a man who launched a highly controversial and yet successful medical treatment, he gets little mention in novels set in that time period. Although the publisher eventually killed the series my Jenner biography was intended to be a part of, I was left with reams of notes and decided to include much of what I’d learned in a Regency romance.

As the horrors of smallpox plays a major role in my story plot, I decided to set tone right away on the first page. Here is the opening scene:

     “You should not wear that to the pox party,” Prudence Pentyre said, indicating her younger cousin’s dress of light green Italian silk. “I recommend something with short sleeves which allows you to expose your forearm to the lancet.”
     Margaret shuddered. Her plain face, pale and lightly freckled, appeared downcast. “Oh, Pru, I wish I didn’t have to go.” She stood, slender shoulders drooping, in front of her open wardrobe.
     “Truly, Meg, there’s nothing to worry about,” Prudence assured her, slipping a comforting arm around her cousin’s slim waist. “Papa had all of us vaccinated with the cow pox when we were still in the school room—and the servants too. I’m quite surprised my Uncle Giles didn’t do the same,” Prudence replied.
     A glint of disapproval flashed in her soft brown eyes. Silently, she fumed. Uncle Giles had held too many old-fashioned notions. Such an old stick! He was dead now, having suffered an apoplexy two years ago. Her mother, if she knew of Prudence’s unspoken condemnation, would have reminded her not to speak ill of the dead. This dictate had never made sense to Prudence. Why were some of life’s most unsavory characters deemed to be saints after their deaths? Not that Uncle Giles was unsavory, but he had been shamefully old-fashioned.
       “Look, Meg, there’s not even a scar.” Prudence held out a white arm for her cousin’s perusal. “Mr. Jenner’s procedure is almost painless and quite safe, much safer than buying the smallpox and enduring the dreaded disease.”

But as serious as the disease was—killing 1 out of every 4 people that contracted it—I still wanted to get in a little “Jane Austenish” wit in the story too:
     Prudence considered her eyes her best physical feature. They were large and expressive. When she had been much younger, an infatuated suitor had once written a poem for her, referring to the subject of his adoration as the, “lovely, ox-eyed Prudent Athena.” Smiling, she recalled this bit of poetic nonsense, but decided not to mention the particular compliment to Margaret. At least not until after the girl had been vaccinated with cowpox and quite recovered from her current state of anxious misery.

  • Here are a few amazing facts that will help readers of Regency romance appreciate Edward Jenner’s contributions to the era so popular with fiction readers:
  • (1) In its day, smallpox was referred to as “the speckled monster.
  • (2) It killed hundreds of millions of people—more than the Black Death and the wars of the 20th century put together!
  • (3) President Thomas Jefferson, who used the Jennerian method to vaccinate his own family, friends, and slaves, once wrote to Jenner: “Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.”
  • (4) A woman who was considered a “great beauty” during this time period was usually one who had not been seriously disfigured by smallpox. It was understood by portrait artists of the day that they were not to paint in the disfigurements and pockmarks of their subjects.
  • (5) Jane Austen’s dearest friend Martha Lloyd was scarred by smallpox for the remainder of her life. Several members of the Lloyd household died from the disease.
  • A character in Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey is disfigured and crippled by the dreaded disease.
And what do pretty milkmaids have to do with Jenner’s discovery of the possible prevention of smallpox? Read PRUDENCE PURSUED and find out! And enjoy a lively love story along the way.

Shirley Raye Redmond PRUDENCE PURSUED Astraea Press, July 2014 Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords $4.99

Despite Prudence Pentyre’s best efforts, her cousin Margaret proves reluctant to accept Sir James Brownell’s marriage proposal, and fears being “bovinised” if she undergoes the controversial cowpox vaccination he recommends. And the dashing baronet seems more concerned about the spiritual plight of headhunters in Borneo than Margaret’s refusal. Then Prudence suddenly finds herself smitten with the man.

What to do? What to do?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Poetry Friday

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Reflections on the Teche.

For Poetry Friday -- "Poem runs: baseball poems and paintings" by Douglas Florian.


Just for fun -- here is Florian's take on baseball as seen through the eyes of young players. Fifteen short, energetic verses take on the varied positions from Pitcher -- "I'm the slippery slider/My sinker just plummets/I'm sly as a spider/My riser climbs summits" to Base Stealer -- "My greatest need/Is speed" and convey the emotion and excitement of the game with wit and humor.

The double-page illustrations are colorful and exaggerated to create a child-like exuberance. Words stretch and leap across the pages with the same bold enthusiasm.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer