Monday, December 5, 2016

Dispatch #59: Who's to Blame?

by Lupe Fernandez

Bile boils my stomach. My heart beats faster than a hummingbird’s wings. I can’t catch my breath. Saliva tastes like asphalt fear.

Who’s to say what will happen next?

Who’s to say the worst is yet to come?

Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
- Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, The Dark Knight

Who’s to say the best is yet to come?

Who’s to blame?

The entertainment media complex, rotten eggs, sunspots, reality shows, ratings, global warming, left handers, cable, hot vinyl, the Oscars, ants, volatile organic compounds, bottled water, super-delegates, the Spanish Inquisition, quantum physics, social media, Lyndon Johnson, salt-licks, KKK, gerunds, coconut oil, adverbs, depression, repression, suppression, German Shepherds, the glass ceiling, marble tile, agent rejection notices…

You get the idea.
As those slaves have died, so will your rabble... if they falter one instant in loyalty to the new order of affairs. Arrests are in progress. The prisons began to fill. In every city and province, lists of the disloyal have been compiled. Tomorrow, they will learn the cost of their terrible folly... their treason.
- Laurence Olivier as Marcus Licinius Crassus, Spartacus (1960)

Once upon a time, racial segregation was the law of the land.
Once upon a time, women didn’t have the right to vote.
Once upon a time, The Republic of Mexico owned California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Texas.
Once upon a time, twelve men walked on the Moon.
Once upon a time…I don’t have any more stories, no more quips, jabs, jokes, puns or ad-libs.

The one time I thought the world was really, really going to change was in the early nineties. The dreaded Berlin Wall fell, marking the end of the USSR. We’re free, I thought. The Cold War is over. The threat of nuclear annihilation is gone. We’re free. This country, the world can devote itself to greater things.

I was wrong.

I’m naïve.

“It’s morning again in America…”
- Republican Political TV Ad, 1984 Election

Is this the day to cast blame?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


 by Susan J Berger

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.

I wish you a day of remembering the good things in your life. A day free from worrying about all the things that may be making you fearful about your future. About our future.
I plan to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, go see Fantastic Beasts and maybe top off the evening with pumpkin pie and Miracle on 34th Street.
I will not be watching the news.
There are so many thanksgiving books for children to choose from, Here are a few. You will note I've decided to emphasize turkeys. That word has been coming up a lot in my head.

I am grateful for so many things. My children and grandchildren, the rain currently falling outside my warm and safe house, the turkey reposing in my refrigerator, the current book I'm reading and the pile of books waiting for me to read. And for the books I will be adding to my TBR pile, some of them not yet published.
I am grateful for family and friends and laughter. For the wonderful acting jobs I've had this year and the ones yet to come.
I could go on for a long time.
I am truly grateful for indoor plumbing and warm blankets and a comfy armchair. For the glass of wine I plan to have when I finish this post. And for the washing machine in which I am about to immerse my laundry.
I am grateful for the times I manage to sit down at the computer and get words on paper. I am REALLY grateful for my computer. If I had to hand-write this stuff, it would never see the light of day. And I am so grateful for my critique groups.
I emailed Hilde and Lupe and asked for three things they were grateful for. I didn't want t o overwhelm them. Hilde replied. My health. My husband. My kids.

And my dog, Buddy.
Lupe replied My wife. My step-daughters. My cats.
Right at this moment, what are you grateful for?
PS if you have a favorite Thanksgiving book, please mention that in comments too. I have grandchildren to collect for.


Monday, November 14, 2016

I am repeating an old post


 I grabbed some favorites from my first line posts and I divided them between prose and rhyming Picture Books. The titles are linked to the books. I have fiddled with the spacing and font and today is one of those times Blogger hates me. So I apologize for the non-uniform look of the titles and links and fonts/. Think of it as Blogger's creativity shining through.
Please tell me your favorite. Want to share your best first line from your own work? Comments welcomed. For those of you doing Nano, good luck to you. Happy reading and writing.

Prose first lines

1. Everything was just dandy till that Emily Post book showed up.
Thanks a LOT, Emily Post! by Jennifer Larue Huget, Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (First book)

Tuesday written and illustrated by David Weisner

3.  In the biggest, brownest muddiest river in all Africa, two crocodiles lay with their heads just above the water. One of the crocodiles was enormous. The other was not so big.
The Enormous Crocodile. Roald Dahl Illustrated by Quentin Blake.

4.  In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines 
Madeline  written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans

 5.  Out in the hottest, dustiest part of town is an orphanage run by a female person nasty enough to scare night into day.
Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley Illustrated by G. Brian Karas 

6.  Five little puppies dug a hole under the fence and went for a walk in the wide, wide world. 

The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey - Illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

 7.  My friend Lincoln says you have two dads. That’s right poppa and daddy.

A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager Iluustated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blane

9.  Mama love to sing. Her singing was always a happy part of everyday life. But everything changed the day after my seventh birthday.

Floating on Mama’s Song by Laura Lacamara, Illustrated by Yuyi Morales(First book)

 10. I took the moon for a walk last night.
I took the Moon for a walk by Carolyn Curtis, illustrated by Allison Jay.(First book)

11.  Once upon a time Chicken Licken was standing around when a piece of something fell on her head.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, Iluustrated by Lane Smith. (As best as I can determine, this was his first book. Wow!)
On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color.

ExtraYarn by Mac Barnette. Illustrated by Jon Klassen Extra Yarn is a also Caldecott Honors Book for 2012

12. Everyone was perfectly fine with the way things were. Everyone but Mr. Tiger.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild written and illustrated by Peter Brown  2014 Cybil winner.

13.  Whenever the wind lifted off the river, and sent the trees to dancing, I itched to fly a kite.
I’d race to the great Niagara, plumes of mist rising from plunging waters, wind licking at my face.
 A boy like me knew, just knew which day would be perfect for flying kites.
The Kite That Bridged Two Nations by Alexis O'Neil, Illustrated by Terry Widener 2014 Crystal Kite Winner

14.  The Lion is known throughout the animal kingdom as the “King of Beasts.” 
The Great White Shark is the most feared predator in the ocean. 
And the Timberwolf’s howl strikes terror into the hearts of fuzzy woodland creatures everywhere. 
But even SAVAGE CARNIVORES get their feelings hurt.
Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds, Illustrated by Dan Santat  

15.  Peter snuggled into Uncle's lap as the carriage clattered through the valleys of Switzerland. Baby Annette slept in Mother's arms, a small pink blossom against a wall of black.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant. 2015 Caldcott Honor Book

16.  He was born on an island far away where imaginary friends were created."

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat


 Picture Books that Rhyme

1.  Not last night but the night before, three black cats came knocking at the door.

Not Last Night But The Night Before by Colin McNaughton, Illus by Emma Chichester Clark

2.  One morning at the breakfast table, when I read the juice box label, (thinking it was tightly closed), my daddy’s pants got orange-hosed. 
I Always ALWAYS Get My Way by Thad Kranesky, Illus by David Parkins (Thad is a first time picture book author. It was published in 2009) 

When I grow up, I'll live in a tree.
Just my cats, Quentin, Quigley and me.
Growing Up Dreams by Susan J. Berger, Illus by Samantha Bell

4.   Beep Beep. Sheep in a jeep on a hill that’s steep

Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, Illustrated by Margaret Apple (First Book)


5.  In a House on a hill there’s a wild little child not ready to close her eyes.
She burrows in blankets and talks to her toys and listens to lullabies.
Hillside Lullaby by Hope Vestergaard Illustrated by Margie Moore
6.  Many places make a home – a heap of twigs, a honeycomb.
A castle with a tower or two, an aerie with a birds-eye view.
 Castles Caves and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman Illustrated by Lauren Stringer
7.  See the piggy, see the puddle, see the piggy in the middle of the muddy little puddle.
See her dwaddle, see Her diddle, in the muddy muddy middle.
See her waddle, plump and little, in the very merry middle.
The Piggy in the Puddle by Charlotte Pomerantz Illustrated by James Marshall
 8.  In a wee little house in a wee little hole, lived a wee little mouse and a wee little mole.
One Dark Night by Lisa Wheeler Illustrated by Ivan Bated.(This was Lisa Wheeler’s first book. She has written many wonderful books. I wanted to blog the first line of the first one.)

9. Dusk creeps in and day is done.
The last few rays of stubborn sun
Cling to the hilltop, tree and town.
We wish that we could push it down.

 Bats at the Ballgame Written and illustrated by Brian Lies  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Vote For Me!

Aeronautic Industry Supporter
by Lupe Fernandez

Vote for Me!

I promise longer recess.

Vote for Me!

More naps.

Vote for Me!

And a chocolate in every house.

Vote for Me.

Unless you do, I'm holding my breath until I turn blue.

Card-Carry Member
Community Activist

Foreign Policy Experience
Sensitive to my problems.

Boy of Action
Plays Well with Others

Monday, October 31, 2016

Submission and reviewing sources.

By Susan J Berger
I have three sets of links for you:


 Manuscript Wishlist  This is a great place to find what agents and editors are looking for. Also be sure and visit  their twitter regularly. Search the hash tag #MSWL

Casey McCormick and Natalie Aguirre host Literary Rambles which is a treasure trove of agent interviews. You can sort the agents by the type of books they represent.

Sue Ganz Schmidt recommended this website to me Authors It's free and she says sometimes they send you very useful information. I subscribed last night and got some very useful links.


I got a request for a list I previously posted about: getting reviews. I had been researching the sites for Picture Book reviewers, but these sites also review Middle Grade and YA

I want to add Middle Grade Mania, which had a list of bloggers who review Middle grade.

Here is a list of reviewers I wanted to contact:

The Midwest Book Review Reviewing print books/CDs/DVDs is always free of charge. They charge a 50.00 Reader Fee for eBooks
I now have my books, so I will be sending one.

The Picture Book Reviews
If you’d like to contact me, please send me an email
Review Policy: Hello! As of January 1, 2015:  I happily accept picture books for review.  If we love the book, I’ll write a review about it.   I accept physical copies only — ARCs, galleys, etc. are fine — it just needs to be something I can sit down and read with my family.Thank you so much for thinking of me.  I’m flattered that you’d like your book reviewed on my site. Also, good luck with your book!  Picture book authors and illustrators
I will be contacting her. 
Readers Favorites.Com  All reviews are free. They post on their Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You CAN pay for more stuff. I didn't want to. I submitted an ARC PDF for review on 9/25. The review was up 4 days later.
Here's what their contact page says:
I am an author, publisher or publicity agent and I would like my book to be reviewed on What do I do?
To submit a book for review on, please send it to:
The Book Report Network
250 West 57th Street
Suite 1228
New York, NY 10107
Although we cannot guarantee a review, we consider every book that comes into our office. Due to the volume of submissions that we receive, we cannot contact authors or publishers on the status of a book for review. Typically books are reviewed within 3 months of publication. We suggest you sign up for our newsletter, which will list the content that we are promoting.
Please note that at this time we do not review eBooks, POD Books and other self-published titles as we only offer books that are available with wide distribution offline as well as online.

Places I will not submit:

Kirkus Book reviews. HUGELY expensive. If your publisher is paying. Great.
 $195 for a review. No thanks. They do have a place where you can giveaway a copy of your book. When I checked it out, they wanted me to pay them 65.00 for the privilege of giving away a book/

 Places to check out:

This is a collection of websites that TTLG has found interesting and/or useful. Because sites change so fast we cannot vouch for their content. If you have any comments or suggestions about this list please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be adding to these lists regularly so please keep checking this page for new doorways into the world of children's literature.

I have not checked them all out yet. Some are no longer active.  Some seem not to be reviewing sites at all.


Planning your marketing campaign. Click the link for an amazing spreadsheet to help you plan marketing.
Incredible 15 tab excel spreadsheet for marketing Andrea Loney graciously shared this with me.
Start with the "About Tab" They sheet was authored by Jenny Blake and it's amazingly thorough, and perhaps more than you want. I would strongly suggest reading it. .
Jenny says Feeling Generous?
1) If you get value from this spreadsheet, please consider making a donation. I will be very grateful...we all know that authors only see royalty checks once in a blue moon (if ever)!
2) Spread the word -- please feel free to share this spreadsheet with your other author friends!
There is a link on the spreadsheet to where to send a donation.

Happy Writing.