Raymond School Presentation

Raymond schoolI’m looking forward to talking to two English 6th grade classes at Raymond Elementary School in Franksville, Wisconsin on Wednesday. Just finished my power-point of the wonderful places in Istanbul that Agnes visits in her quest. I hope the kids enjoy it and my mysterious surprise😉

Here is Jill Peterson’s class using my book – Intrigue in Istanbul: An Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure. How exciting!


My Prince Tribute

I meant to do this on my Old Tune Tuesday day, but forgot – I’m old, what do you expect.

I know this is not a quintessential Prince song, but his guitar playing is! God what a talent. You can tell he was having fun too:)  (What a showman – throwing his guitar up at the end, and that strut…)


Published in: on April 27, 2016 at 11:26pm04  Comments (2)  
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Fox Cities Book Festival – Author John Hildebrand

This weekend I volunteered at the Fox Cities Book Festival, a week long book festival around the Fox Valley. I was at the Menasha Public Library (Elisha D. Smith Public Library) – a very lovely library if you haven’t been there. It was my first time in Menasha or Neenah (the twin cities of Wisconsin) so it was my first time at that library.

I assisted for three different authors and I was so impressed by all three, that I bought each of their books – well, my mother bought one of them for me – the sweet thing that she is:)

I am going to introduce you to each author is separate posts.

The first author was John Hildebrand.

This is his bio: John Hildebrand is the author of four books—The Heart of Things: A Midwestern Almanac, A Northern Front: New & Selected Essays, Mapping the Farm: The Chronicle of a Family, and Reading the River: A Voyage Down the Yukon—that often explore the relationships between a particular place and the people who live there. His work has appeared in such magazines as Harper’s, Audubon, Sports Illustrated and Outside. He is the recipient of the Norbert Blei/August Derleth Award for Nonfiction from the Council of Wisconsin Writers, a Minnesota Book Award, the BANTA Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, and the Chancellor’s Regional Literary Award from UW-Whitewater as well as fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the Wisconsin Arts Board, and the Breadloaf Writer’s Conference. He received an MFA from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and, except for brief stints in England and Alaska, spent his teaching career at the University of Wisconsin Eau-Claire. His favorite mode of travel is canoe, and he is currently at work on a book about Wisconsin rivers.

This is the book he read from:

The Heart of Things: A Midwestern Almanac  Blurb: (from Goodreads) In this remarkable book of days, John Hildebrand charts the overlapping rings–home, town, countryside–of life in the Midwest. Like E. B. White, Hildebrand locates the humor and drama in ordinary life: church suppers, Friday night football, outdoor weddings, garden compost, family reunions, roadside memorials, camouflage clothing. In these wry, sharply observed essays, the Midwest isn’t The Land Time Forgot but a more complicated (and vastly more interesting) place where the good life awaits once we figure exactly out what it means. From his home range in northwestern Wisconsin, Hildebrand attempts to do just that by boiling down a calendar year to its rich marrow of weather, animals, family, home–in other words, all the things that matter.

I was impressed by his prose and really enjoyed listening to him talk about his exploits, his love of Wisconsin and small towns. I’ll let you know how I liked the book after I’ve read it, but from the snippets he read, I think I’ll really enjoy it.


The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

I had heard that Joan Aiken was a famous author of children’s stories, so I thought I should read/listen to one of her famous stories. This one won a Lewis Carroll Award.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles, #1)

Stats: First published in 1962, print 181 pages, audio 4 discs – 4′ 49″, this version was read by her daughter – Lissa Aiken

Blurb: Wicked wolves and a grim governess threaten Bonnie and her cousin Sylvia when Bonnie’s parents leave Willoughby Chase for a sea voyage. Left in the care of the cruel Miss Slighcarp, the girls can hardly believe what is happening to their once happy home. The servants are dismissed, the furniture is sold, and Bonnie and Sylvia are sent to a prison-like orphan school. It seems as if the endless hours of drudgery will never cease.
With the help of Simon the gooseboy and his flock, they escape. But how will they ever get Willoughby Chase free from the clutches of the evil Miss Slighcarp?

What I liked: The writing was quite good and after a time, when it really took off, it was an interesting story, even for an adult reading a MG book. Aiken also did a good job pulling you into the time that the story took place. One of the best things was the “cruel Miss Slighcarp.” She was a really bad, bad guy. this story was read by Joan’s daughter, Lissa and she did a nice job.

What I didn’t like: The beginning was slow and it took quite a while for it to pick up.

Rating: 3.5/5

Treasure Hunters – James Patterson


Treasure Hunters (Treasure Hunters, #1)By accident, I found out that James Patterson had his own MG (middle grade) publishing house. I thought – how cool is that! So I thought I’d read one of his MG books, since that is what I am currently writing. I listened to the audio version of this book. The audio jacket says it’s available from Little Brown and Co., which is a division of one of big publishing houses, so maybe I heard wrong about this being published by James Patterson himself.

Stats: 452 pages with the hardcover,  published in 2013,  Audio version is 5 discs with pdf of the illustrations on the 5th disc along with the audio – (I didn’t know you could have both on one disc!) and is 6 hours worth. Bryan Kennedy was the narrator.

Blurb: (Goodreads) The Kidd siblings have grown up diving down to shipwrecks and traveling the world, helping their famous parents recover everything from swords to gold doubloons from the bottom of the ocean. But after their parents disappear n the job, the kids are suddenly thrust into the biggest treasure hunt of their lives. They’ll have to work together to defeat dangerous pirates and dodge the hot pursuit of an evil treasure hunting rival, all while following cryptic clues to unravel the mystery of what really happened to their parents–and find out if they’re still alive.

What I liked: No a whole lot. The story moved right along – good for a young audience, and it was a very kid-friendly kind of story – not too deep, cool adventures, and lots of fun action but that’s about it. I’m thinking very young readers would like this.

What I didn’t like: The whole thing seemed to be dumbed down. I don’t like stories that are dumbed down for kids. I think kids are smarter than adults frequently give them credit for and writing something that pushing them a bit, makes them better readers. I also did not like at all (and I’m surprised I didn’t see more review comments about this) that Patterson has the kahunas to make fun of a character’s size, as in there is an overweight female character (one of the 4 main kids) in this story. I applaud that he made one the main characters a different size – not all kids (or adults) are the same size – but to actually say negative things about her size and to not just have the bad guys call her fat names, was really surprising and unnecessary. I think he also has one of the kids call one of the overweight adults a fat name too. Why aren’t more people irritated by this?! I know kids do this (and adults) but why would we want to perpetuate this behavior? Why would his editor or publisher let this go? Unless James was the final decider and he did what he wanted. I also didn’t like Bryan Kennedy’s rendition but I can see that kids would enjoy it. Again, it seemed a bit too dumbed down for my taste and I do enjoy kids stories, so it’s not just that.

Rating: 2/5 Only because I think kids would like it. I would not want me kid to read this. I would recommend adults read it first before deciding if they want their own kids to read it.

Old Tune Tuesday – Roberta Flack

I had heard on older version of this, but I really like this one, so I am sharing with you:)


Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 11:26pm04  Comments (2)  
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Characters in Motion – Valerie Biel

Layered Pages

Circle of Nine Valerie Biel II

One of the best parts of being an author is the freedom to create diverse casts of characters. I like combining characters of different ages or characters from different eras. In my debut novel Circle of Nine: Beltany, I combine historical chapters and modern chapters. The main character in this novel is a modern teen in the United States, but the historical characters (her ancestors) are Irish and range in age from teen to elderly. And, one of my middle-grade novels is set at a senior living center, combining a cast of pre-teens with octogenarians.

This is why my rejection letters often said, “While I enjoyed the story and characters, I am not certain how to market this.” Oh, the horror! What shelf should this book live on?!? The good news is that my books have managed to live on many shelves, and I have had no problem marketing…

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Published in: on April 1, 2016 at 11:26pm04  Leave a Comment  

the Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

The Other TypistAnother blind library pick.

Stats: published in 2013, debut novel for Ms Rindell, print 354 pages, audio 8 discs, I’m not sure what genre I’d place this in – psycological thriller, but thriller doesn’t see quite right. You’ll just have to read it for yourself to decide:)

Blurb: (Goodreads) Rose Baker is an orphaned young woman working for her bread as a typist in a police precinct on the lower East Side. Every day Rose transcribes the confessions of the gangsters and murderers that pass through the precinct. While she may disapprove of the details, she prides herself on typing up the goriest of crimes without batting an eyelid.

But when the captivating Odalie begins work at the precinct Rose finds herself falling under the new typist’s spell. As do her bosses, the buttoned up Lieutenant Detective and the fatherly Sergeant. As the two girls’ friendship blossoms and they flit between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the precinct by day, it is not long before Rose’s fascination for her new colleague turns to obsession.

But just who is the real Odalie, and how far will Rose go to find out?

What I liked: The ending left you guessing, but I think that was on purpose too. She did a wonderful job leaving it up in the air. She gives you a good feel for the life of a working girl in 1923 New York, which is right up my alley – being a historical fiction lover. I listened to this book and the narrator – Gretchen Mol – was spot on. Her character’s voices were not too contrived and they were easily distinguishable from each other.

What I didn’t like: It was a bit slow, especially at the beginning but at other times as well, but maybe it was supposed to be. I thought she could have let the reader in on what was up with Rose (I won’t tell you what so as not to spoil it for you) a bit earlier in the story. It had lots and lots of words. She did a nice job with all the words but it seemed a bit much at times and slowed the story line. Since I was listening to it and I enjoyed Ms Mol’s narration, that was something I could easily overlook. You can tell Rindell has a doctorate in literature. I also would have like to know a bit more about what happened to Odalie, but I guess that kind of goes with her personality – very slippery.

Rating: 4/5  Nice job for a debut novel.

Published in: on March 29, 2016 at 11:26pm03  Leave a Comment  
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Photo Phriday

It was a “Frozen” world around here Friday morning.

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Published in: on March 26, 2016 at 11:26pm03  Comments (3)  
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Old Tune Tuesday – ZZ Top

Say it with me – haw, haw, haw…

I don’t know Slash, but they aren’t half bad.

Published in: on March 23, 2016 at 11:26am03  Leave a Comment  
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