Friday, February 26, 2010

Dawn's Early Light by L.C. Lewis

Free Men and Dreamers: Dawn's Early Light
L.C. Lewis

Back Cover:

This third volume of LC Lewis’s War of 1812 historical fiction epic, Free Men and Dreamers, covers the British offensive against Washington D.C. Once Napoleon is subdued, and despite the commencement of peace negotiations, Britain unleashes her triumphant European conquerors on America. And their primary target? Washington. While attentions turn to the defense of the Capital, mercenaries threaten the Winding Willows and White Oak plantations, forcing enemies to become allies, fighting side-by-side with freed slaves to defend their homes and families. Mere miles away, the Capital’s defense now rests predominantly upon citizen soldiers and a most unlikely naval force—a rag-tag fleet called the Chesapeake flotilla—and the men who built it. But Britain’s house is also divided over the war, as the cost mounts in blood and money. Experience the pain and passion of five families—American, slave and British—as they endure the three darkest days of American history—the week when Washington burned.

About the Author:

Laurie (LC) Lewis was born and raised in rural Maryland, surrounded by history-rich Philadelphia, Washington and Baltimore. While raising her family there, Laurie began building a portfolio of short stories, novels and plays. She developed a love of research during a seven-year stint as a science-education facilitator in the Carroll County Public School System. As her children left home she turned her attentions to writing full time and employed her research skills to flesh out her work with the vivid locales and colorful people she and her husband Tom continue to meet on their frequent travels. She now combines all her loves: history, people, family and interesting locations to produce family and historical dramas for her readers. Dawn’s Early Light is Laurie’s fourth published novel—(Unspoken, 2004; Dark Sky at Dawn, 2007; Twilight’s Last Gleaming, 2008)—the third in her Free Men and Dreamers Series.

To find out more about L.C. (Laurie) Lewis check out her website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference

Guest Post by Carol Lynch Williams

Hey Everyone!

Carol Lynch Williams here. Lisa Hale, Cheri Pray Earl (who’s taking a sabbatical this year, but still working part-time with us) and I just wanted to let you know about the 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference.

For the last 10 years we ran the BYU Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop at Brigham Young University. This year, however, we decided to leap off on our own. The 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers—which is not affiliated with BYU Conferences and Workshops—will be held in Sandy, Utah, at the Waterford School, June 14-18. And we couldn’t be more thrilled with this venue! We have a dedicated art room for the illustration class, morning workshop rooms that are filled with natural light, and plenty of space to host a range of afternoon sessions. There’s space everywhere, right down to the massive 500+ seat auditorium!

Afternoon sessions will have more speakers to choose from, morning attendees will enjoy a paid lunch with their workshop group and faculty member, as well as there being a few specialized give-aways and prizes. We are pleased to say that The King’s English Bookstore is working with us! I am sure many of you have had the chance to visit this marvelous independent bookstore. (There’s a link to their website at the bottom of the webpage.)

This year we talked long and hard about which terrific illustrator and amazing writers would be fun to work with at our 2010 conference. This year’s faculty is dedicated to helping you get the best writing and illustrating done—and they are dedicated to teaching you what that kind of writing and illustration that is. The editors and agent are here—coming in from New York—to find new talent.

Lisa, Cheri, and I have more than 40 years combined experience in teaching creative writing and running workshops. Fifteen years ago, Cheri and I worked on our first workshop together here in Utah, with author Rick Walton. Prior to that, Cheri worked on SCBWI-affiliated conferences in Texas. Together and separately we have managed several different kinds of gatherings each year—from 3-hour workshops to week-long conferences, and everything in between. It’s been an exciting time working with writers and illustrators (both published and unpublished) and editors and agents from around the country.

We are excited for the 2010 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop and look forward to spending the week with you.

Carol, Lisa, Cheri

Keynote Address

Mary E. Pearson--Mary E. Pearson is the author of several award winning books for teens, including The Adoration of Jenna Fox. She lives in California and writes from her home in Carlsbad, where she lives with her family. Her awards and honors include the Golden Kite Award, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, IRA Choice Books, and The South Carolina Young Adult Book Award. In a starred review Kirkus called her newest novel, The Miles Between, “mesmerizing.” She is currently at work on a companion book to The Adoration of Jenna Fox, titled The Fox Inheritance.

Plenary Presenters

Kate Angelella, Assistant Editor at Simon and Schuster--Kate specializes in commercial Middle Grade and tween fiction. Kate has edited the Canterwood Crest series by Jessica Burkhart, Fiona Finkelstein, Big-Time Ballerina!! by Shawn Stout, Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma, and Devon Delaney Should Totally Know Better by Lauren Barnholdt. Also, the 2010 Coretta Scott Award John Steptoe winner and NAACP image award nominee, The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon. Kate treasures a unique voice above all else, angst-y girl characters, fresh takes on the chick lit genre with strong commercial hooks, as well as novels with any type of paranormal element strongly grounded in realism.

Jennifer Hunt, Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers--Jennifer Hunt is the Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers where she oversees middle grade and young adult fiction acquisition. She also edits a wide range of books, including titles with Sara Zarr, Sherman Alexie, Cornelia Funke, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Pseudonymous Bosch, and Sarah Ockler.

Mary Kole, Associate Agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.--Mary came to children’s literature from a writer’s perspective and got involved at Andrea Brown Literary Agency to see what it was like “on the other side of the desk.” She quickly found her passion here and, after a year of working behind the scenes, has officially joined the agency. In her quest to learn all sides of publishing, she has also worked in the children’s editorial department at Chronicle Books and is currently earning her MFA in creative writing at the University of San Francisco. At this time, Mary is only considering young adult and middle grade fiction and truly exceptional picture books.

Workshop Faculty & Breakout Session Presenters

Bonny Becker picture book workshop

Bonny Becker is the author of A Birthday for Bear (E.B. White Read Aloud Award), A Bedtime for Bear (ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year for Picture Books), and A Visitor for Bear (Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text; Oprah Children’s Book Club selection). In addition to her picture books, Bonny has written middle-grade books, including The Magical Ms. Plum and Holbrook: A Lizard’s Tale.

Kristyn Crow picture book workshop

Kristyn Crow is a picture book author with titles from G.P. Putnam’s Sons, HarperCollins, and Scholastic. Her book Cool Daddy Rat, illustrated by Mike Lester, received starred reviews, a blue ribbon from the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, and was nominated for the Utah Book Award. Bedtime at the Swamp, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan, was nominated for both the 2009 Ladybug award, and the 2010 Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award. Kristyn is a busy mother of seven children, and is married to a Utah Highway Patrolman.

Cheri Pray Earl beginning writing class

Cheri earned her M.A. in Creative Writing from BYU and has taught Honors writing and literature there for seventeen years and creative writing for ten years. She was awarded Honors Professor of the Year in 2005. Cheri writes young adult novels and has won the Utah Original Writing Competition and an honorable mention for two young adult novels. Her first publication, though, is for younger readers: an American Girl non-fiction book (Psst! Secret Instructions Every Girl Should Know, March 2009) co-authored with Rick Walton. Cheri and her husband have five children and two grandchildren and they live in Provo, Utah.

Ann Dee Ellis contemporary novel workshop

Ann Dee Ellis’s first book This is What I Did: received three starred reviews and was listed on Voice of Youth Advocates - 2007 Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers List, American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults for 2007 and was a 2008 International Reading Association honor book. Her second book, Everything is Fine was released March 2009. Kirkus described the book as “Impressionistic, elliptical and full of feeling” and VOYA (starred review) called it “a story so painful you want to read it with your eyes closed. It is a stunning novel.” Besides writing, Ann Dee teaches part-time at Brigham Young University and builds forts out of couch cushions for her husband and two little boys.

Alane Ferguson novel workshop for intermediate/ advanced writers

Alane Ferguson has written over thirty novels for children, including a series she co-authored with her mother, Gloria Skurzynski, for National Geographic. Their novel, Wolf Stalker, was nominated for the 1998 Mystery Writer’s of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award, and their newest work, Night of the Black Bear, was launched in spring of 2007. Alane has earned several nominations and recognition for her books, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award and Belgium’s Children’s Choice Award for her young adult novel, Show Me the Evidence; the Children’s Crown Classic Award for Cricket and the Crackerbox Kid; and the American Bookseller’s Association’s “Pick of the List” for her picture book, That New Pet.

Kevin Hawkes illustration workshop

Kevin Hawkes has written and/or illustrated over 45 picture books and young adult novels including the NY Times Best Seller, Library Lion. Other books include Chicken Cheeks, The Wicked Big Toodlah, Weslandia and many chapter books written by Eva Ibbotson. Kevin is a graduate of Utah State University and began his career in Boston working at a bookstore. He now lives in southern Maine with his wife and children who keep him focused on the important things in life: gardening, tree forts and chocolate chip cookies.

Mike Knudson chapter book workshop

Mike Knudson is the author of the humorous Raymond and Graham series of books for middle grade readers. He lives in North Salt Lake with his wife, Annette, five children, a turtle. Mike writes full-time and visits over one hundred elementary schools each year around the country. When not writing, you can find him coaching little league, swimming with his kids, and annoying his family with his banjo playing.

Brandon Mull fantasy/sci fi workshop

Brandon Mull resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and three children. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He once won a pudding eating contest in the park behind his grandma’s house, earning a gold medal. Brandon is the author of the New York Times bestselling Fablehaven series, Pingo and The Candy Shop War.

Emily Wing Smith beginning novel workshop

Emily has an English degree from BYU and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. Her first YA novel, The Way He Lived, was published in 2007. The book received accolades including a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. It was also winner of the Utah Book Award in Young Adult Fiction. Her next YA novel, Back when You Were Easier to Love, will be released from Dutton (Penguin) early next year.

Rick Walton beginning writing class

Rick Walton is the author of over 75 books for kids. He will write almost anything for anybody.

Dave Wolverton fantasy/sci fi workshop

Dave Wolverton, aka David Farland, is a New York Times bestselling author of science fiction, fantasy, and historical novels with over fifty titles to his credit. He has won numerous awards for his works, which have sold in more than fifty languages. He has also worked as a screenwriter, videogame designer and scripter, and as a movie producer. As an instructor, he has taught creative writing at BYU and worked as the coordinating judge for one of the world’s largest writing contests. In his classes, Dave focuses on the business aspects of writing—teaching advanced audience analysis, how to write to an audience, and how to sell your works. Many graduates from his classes and seminars have gone on to become New York Times Bestsellers themselves.

Sara Zarr novel workshop for intermediate/ advanced writers

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of three novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), and Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009). Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at

Guest Breakout Session Presenters

Ally Condie writer

Ally Condie is the author of the upcoming Matched, published by Dutton Children’s Books, and of several other novels published by Shadow Mountain and Deseret Book. In her former life, she taught high school English in Utah and in upstate New York; in her current life, she is the mother of three boys and writes during naptime.

Heather Dixon writer

Heather Dixon studied animation at BYU, and currently works as a storyboard artist. In winter 2011, her Victorian retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Entwined, will be released by Greenwillow books. She enjoys digital painting and bizarre children's musicals.

Guy Francis illustrator

Guy Francis lives in Provo, Utah with his wife Lorien and four children. He studied illustration at Brigham Young University. He spends his time doing a variety of illustration work in the children’s market including editorial and educational illustration, chapter books, and picture books. Some of his recent children’s picture books include The Planet Hunter by Elizabeth Rusch, Dance By the Light of the Moon by Joanne Ryder, Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom! by Kelly DiPucchio and Shelly and Mary Had a Little Ham by Margie Palatini. He has also illustrated several early chapter book series.

Matthew Kirby writer

Matthew Kirby was born in Utah, but with a father in the Navy he has lived all over–Rhode Island, Maryland, California (twice), and Hawaii. As an undergraduate at Utah State University, he majored in history. He then went on to earn M.S and Ed.S degrees in school psychology. He and his wife live in Utah, where Matthew works as a school psychologist for a large district. His debut novel, The Clockwork Three, is forthcoming from Scholastic Press in Fall 2010.

Sydney Salter writer

Sydney Salter’s novels include My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters, Jungle Crossing, and Swoon at Your Own Risk. Sydney lives in Utah with her husband, two daughters, two hairy dogs, two lazy cats, and a pair of quiet tortoises. When not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, hiking, skiing, traveling, and searching for the ultimate cupcake. She is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) .

Kirk L. Shaw editor

Kirk L. Shaw is senior editor for Covenant Communications. He has also worked for Boston publisher David R. Godine and edited for the scientific journal Western North American Naturalist. During his career, he has produced and edited fiction (in many genres), memoirs, historical, art, gardening, gift, technical, and doctrinal books. His freelance clients include corporations, publishers, and individuals, including Delphi (Internet) founder Wes Kussmaul. He enjoys writing short stories and especially relishes reading speculative fiction, historical novels, New England poetry, young adult, post-apocalyptic, and dystopia novels.

Will Terry illustrator

Will Terry has been freelancing as an illustrator for 17 years. His work has appeared in national advertisements for Sprint, Pizza Hut, M&M Mars, Fed Ex, Master Card and Citibank and in such publications as Time, Money, Wall Street Journal, Mac World, Arizona Highways, Seventeen and Better Homes and Gardens. His work has also been accepted into The Society of Illustrators. He has illustrated 20 children’s books and recently Armadilly Chili, written by Helen Ketteman, is in its second printing and has been chosen for the Texas 2x2 Reading List, the North Carolina Children’s Book Award, and the Arizona Young Readers Choice Award. His most recent two books are The Frog with the Big Mouth and The Three Little Gators. Will lives in Cedar Hills with his wife Laurel and their three boys.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Crayon Messages by Christine Thackeray

From the back cover:

Cath Reed has been feeling desperately lonely. With a husband away, a daughter on the brink and adjusting to her new ward, she hopes her new visiting teaching route will bring much needed companionship.

Then she finds out she has been given the hardest visiting teaching route ever. At least her companion Gwen seemed nice, an older woman in a nursing home who said no one had visited her in years.

Using this to her advantage, Cath calls her new sisters and convinces them to cheer Gwen up. Surprisingly most agree but when Cath arrives at the Pleasant Valley Home for the Elderly she is disappointed to find Gwen fast asleep.

Apparently Gwen has a sleeping disorder called KSL and no one knows when she will wake up- it could be weeks.

Armed with a bucket of crayons and a handful of paper, Cath convinces the sisters to write Gwen notes so when she does wake up, she'll know some cares. What no one guessed is that Gwen would write back and change all of these women's lives forever.

You can purchase The Crayon Messages by clicking here.

You can learn more about Christine here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Kung Fu Fighting

My nephews are hilarious in this video. They choreographed and then performed this number for a community talent show. It makes me laugh every time I watch it. They both played football in high school, but their true calling is in performing. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Interview: Donna Hatch

Today my interview is with talented author Donna Hatch.

RT: Hi, Donna, tell us about your release, The Stranger She Married.
DH: Okay, here's my "elevator pitch" “The Stranger She Married” is Book of the Rogue Hearts Series. Torn between a disfigured war hero with the heart of a poet, and a handsome libertine who may not be all he seems, impoverished Alicia must marry by the end of the month. Despite a murder threat looming over her, learning to love the stranger she married may pose the greatest danger of all … to her heart.

RT: The cover is gorgeous! Can you tell us a little about how covers come into being? Do you have input into the process?
DH: Most publishers don't let the authors have any input, but I was lucky -- but mine does. I filled out a questionnaire with character descriptions and a concept of what I'd pictured. The finished result was nothing like I'd imagined, and the hero looks nothing like the cover, but they got the heroine spot-on right down to the eye color.  And I do like it, too.

RT: What are you working on now?
DH: I'm finalizing the edits on book 3 of the Rogue Heart's Series which isn't titled yet. (Gulp.) Book 2, "The Guise of a Gentleman"  will be out in April.  Each book is a stand-alone book, about a different brother of the Amesbury family, and the family members wander in and out of each other's books.

RT: You have a posse of kiddos, how do you find time to write? How do you balance family with writing?
DH: Yes, with 6 children, making time to write is very challenging. I do much of my writing at night after they are in bed, or during nap time, but when I'm on a roll, I write instead of unimportant things like fix dinner. I haven't dusted since last Christmas and I gave up scrap booking. This year, my youngest child just started kindergarten, so now I can write after they all leave for school. I also work in an office part time every afternoon, so that really cuts into my writing but I'm very focused, (or obsessed) so I keep at it at odd times of the day. And night.

RT: What is the coolest thing about being an author?
DH: A huge rush came when I got my contract and I was giddy about it for months. But I have to say that was nothing compared to the day my book came out and I saw it on the home page of my publisher. The euphoria was almost a surreal experience. The giddiness is still with me and I've noticed people inching away from me when my grin gets a bit too happy. I guess I scare people. And now I do it without even opening my mouth.

RT: What has surprised you about being a published author?
DH: How excited my friends and family were for me. I knew they'd be supportive, but I had no idea how they'd rally around me and help me promote it like they have. My niece even set up a fan of The Stranger She Married fan page!

RT: What do you like to do when you aren't writing?
DH: I love to read more than almost anything else. And I love music; I sing, play the harp, and am the choir director for church. I also like to swim, water ski, snow ski, and dance. I’m totally uncoordinated, so I don’t play any team sports and sports worldwide thank me for it. And, sappy as it sounds, I love to spend time with my husband, talking, walking, playing racquetball, or just cuddling. 

Order on line at

Here's the link to the ebook and the print book:

Thanks so much, Donna. Great interview! 

Be sure to check out her books and her fan page at Facebook.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

CTR Rings

Yesterday I was privileged to attend the funeral for a wonderful woman who passed away last week. Evidenced by the large crowd at the service, this woman will be greatly missed for her love of life, her unconditional love, and her unfailing service to all she encountered.

Her daughter shared a story about Chris and her constant purchase of CTR rings. Her daughter wondered why her mother bought so many CTR rings. She thought maybe her mom was misplacing them over and over again and she started  to worry a bit about it. One Sunday she was with her mom. Unbeknownst to Chris, a young man was struggling with some life choices. She felt drawn to him and told him that though she didn't know him, she could feel his strong spirit and she knew he could make the right choices. She then reached down and removed the CTR ring she wore on her right pinky finger and handed it to this young man in hopes that he would be reminded to make the  right choices. Her daughter realized that Chris wasn't losing her CTR rings, she was giving them away just as freely as she gave her love away.

Chris touched many lives and left an impression on mine. She was full of love for everyone. No one was a stranger to Chris and she always had time to visit, even if it was at the grocery store in the frozen food aisle.

While it is hard to lose someone we love, it makes it a little better knowing that she fought the good fight and she made choices that have lead her back to the Savior. She was prepared to meet God and her life was a testimony of her beliefs and values. To me, she exemplified charity and I will forever remember her example of kindness and love.

Every time I look at my CTR ring, I will remember Chris.