Wednesday, December 1, 2010

10 Facts about My First NaNoWriMO

It's December 1st, and November and my first NaNoWriMo are behind me. Definitely an enlightening experience and more.

Having been asked not too long ago what my passion in life was, I would now have to say that Learning is my passion. The facts listed below illustrate a large part of my learning over the last 6 years and the last 30 days!


1.  I finished with 21,599 words.

2.  I was short 28,401 words.

3.  My initial outline for Tutankhamen was 4,000 words.

4.  Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend ended up being around 28,000 words.

5.  Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom is currently at 23,400 words and at the editor.

6.  Guinevere took 5 years to write, edit, and publish.

7.  Young Knights has taken 2 years to write, rewrite, and now edit.

8.  Tutankhamen-An Autobiography took 8 months to research and outline, and 30 days to write the first draft!

9.  My fundraising goal for Young Writers was $250; I raised $255.

10. I didn't make the 50,000 words, but I still came out a winner and richer for the experience.

Thank you all for your support.

And to my writing buddy, Alice. Let me know how you finished NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My NaNoWriMo

After 19 days of writing and not writing, I have learned a lot about myself and my writing habits.

Writing on demand does get a word count down, but does not help creativity.

Just writing to write even when the story hits a wall does not always remove that wall.

Creating a need to write does not take the place of loving to write.

I enjoy the creativity that paces my writing and records my ideas.

I enjoy the time I spend processing my writing in my head.

I enjoy living what I am writing.

I don't write because I have to write.

I write because I love to write.

There are 12 days left in NaNoWriMo. I am behind in my word count, and I'm not sure whether I will be able to catch up. I am not giving up though and will continue to put words down.

My story of King Tut has tripled in size from the outline I started with. Whether I finish it this month won't be evident until Nov. 30. Here's to a determined try!!!

I also want to thank my supporters. We have raised $230 of my goal of $250! It's nice to know that young writers will be benefiting from your generosity.

You may access my home page link at the Office of Letters and Light by clicking on the title of this entry.

See you on December 1st!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Exciting News!!

Wanted to share with all my supporters the exciting news. The article written by Junior Girl Scout Tess Baur about my Medieval Writing Workshop that she attended earlier in October has been chosen to be published this Tuesday, Nov. 2 in The Denver Post Colorado Kids section!

The link to the article was posted in my blog of October 24, 2010 (see below).

Here is the link again:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Join me in Celebrating Young Writers

National Novel Writing Month

Once again, I am diving in head first into a new experience.

Please join me in my first ever participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November.

I will be starting fresh with just my research and my imagination to make my children's novel of Tutankhamen come alive in 30 days!

And as I do this, the money from my sponsorships will go directly to NaNoWriMo and its Young Writers Program which provides resources and support for writing programs for K-12.

If you can help, that would be great. If not, please think of me often as I work to hammer out 50,000 words in 30 days!

My goal is $250. I have absolutely no idea if that is unrealistically high or low!

Thanks for your support.

Here is the link to my personal web page in support of The Office of Letters and Light.

Girl Scout Workshops

One of the Junior Girl Scouts who attended my writing workshop in October 2010, is a writer for The Denver Post and wrote a neat article complete with pictures for the Kids Page. Here is the link to read her work and check out the pictures. I'm sure she would be delighted if you left a comment on her work!

Also, my work with the Girl Scouts would not be possible without my great volunteers: Shelley Hegge, Michele Carpinello, Barbara Carpinello, and Jodi Carpinello.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend Book Signing

Hello all,

Book Reviews will continue once October is over, and I am once again a retired school teacher!

Come and join me Friday, Oct. 8 at Borders in SW Plaza. I will be signing books from 4-8pm. during their Educator Night.

Stop by and say hi, eat an Exploding Frog, and pick up a recipe for Medieval Gingerbread!

Get 25% off all your purchases!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review of 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee

Here is the fourth review of the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominees.

Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Ages: 10 and up

I first mentioned Haddix’s new series Missing in my November 12, 2009 blog. Sent is the second book in this series.

This fantasy story opens by informing readers that Chip and Alex have been kidnapped from the past and brought into the present day. Hence the title of the series Missing. They travel back with modern day friends Jonah and Katherine to the fifteenth century to retake their place and fix this history.

The intriguing part of this series is that Chip is actually King Edward V of England and his younger brother Alex is Richard, the Duke of York. The complicated part of this is that Chip and Alex were murdered according to history!

For an entertaining read, I recommend starting your young reader with the first book in the series Found.

As always, Haddix gives readers a thrilling ride.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Virtual Interview on Sept. 3

Join me on Friday Sept. 3, 2010 from 7-8pm MST for my interview on Voices of Reality Talk Show. Learn about my Medieval Writing Workshops for Kids. Sign in early and get a screen name to chat live.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Review of 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee

Here is the fourth review of the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominees.

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, Mary Nethery
Ages: 0-Adult

Good Luck reading this picture book with dry eyes!!

Nubs tells the story of the friendship between an Iraqi homeless dog and U.S. Major Brian Dennis. Abused and abandoned, the dog Major Dennis named Nubs was the leader of his own pack of soldiers, many of them puppies. Befriended by Major Dennis, Nubs leads readers on his miraculous journey that ended in San Diego, CA.

Heart-wrenching are the scenes of Nubs running to catch up with Major Dennis’ departed Humvee and team. Heart-warming is the bond that immediately developed and continued between Major Dennis and Nubs. A sure reminder that little kindnesses are rewarded.

An added extra are the journal pages and pictures of Major Brian Dennis.

A brief explanation: I put the age level of zero on a lot of books because most are suitable for reading out loud to young people and that includes babies. If we don’t read to them from day 1, then we are depriving them of the enjoyment of words.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Live Internet Interview

Mark your calendar and tune in Monday August 9, 2010 at 6:30pm MDT for my internet interview on the Voices of Reality Kids show. We will be talking about my Medieval writing workshops for kids and, of course, "Guinevere." If you can't make it, look for it in the Archives. The show is hosted by Denver child actor Jonah Lujan.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Review of 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee

Here is the third review of the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominees. The age range: 0-adult.

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy in collaboration with Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez.

Memories of this event came back to me as I read. The story of the Maasai’s gift to the American people after 9/11 is not only beautiful, it is as Kimeli says for “all the little children who read this book. You are the peace the world has been waiting for. May you grow to be compassionate diplomats.”

Even the youngest will be enthralled with the generous gift of life from the Maasai people. It is a simple story of hope and compassion that brought tears to my eyes as I read.

Illustrator Thomas Gonzalez brings the Maasai people, the cows, and the country of Kenya to life on the pages of 14 Cows for America with his rich colors and detailed drawings.

14 Cows for America inspires hope when the reader realizes that the Maasai’s gift was not just 14 Cows, but life.

Read 14 Cows for America on your own or with your family and marvel at the Maasai's generosity. Visit the 14 Cows website to learn more about this story.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review of Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid

Along with lots of Riordan fans, I eagerly awaited the debut of his new series The Kane Chronicles. The first book is The Red Pyramid.

As with his Percy Jackson series, Riordan introduces modern day characters with ties to an ancient civilization and mythology. In The Red Pyramid, siblings Carter and Sadie find out they have the blood of Egyptian pharaohs and are descended from powerful Egyptian magicians. How they come to terms with this is spread out over the course of the plot as they scramble to save their father, uncle and themselves from Egyptian gods long forgotten but brought back to life and now focused on destroying the world.

Riordan’s combination of action and Egyptian mythology keeps the story moving along with a couple of mummies. Readers shift back and forth between today’s world and ancient Egypt easily enough, but other concerns distracted me.

The story is told from the point of view of Carter and Sadie. To accomplish this, Riordan alternates viewpoints every two chapters. Even halfway through, I still found myself unable to remember which character was telling the story. Thankfully, at the top of each right-hand page was the name of the current storyteller.

Another concern is the lack of information on Egyptian mythology to let readers become familiar with the many gods and customs. Unlike Greek mythology which is taught in some degree is schools usually through Greek literature, Egyptian mythology is not well known. It is only through my research over the last year of Egyptian mythology and life that I understood the terms ba and maat which play major roles in the story.

Riordan does his young readers a disservice by not helping them understand this fascinating culture. I understand wanting to encourage readers to branch out and learn new ideas, but this may backfire and turn readers away.

Hopefully, Riordan’s loyal followers will give him another chance to engulf them in Egyptian mythology. I await the next book with that hope in mind.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review of 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee

Here is the second review of the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominees. The age range is 0-adult.

Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld

The premise of this picture book is “What do you see: a duck or a rabbit?” A simple book with a more complex idea behind it, “Duck! Rabbit!” that appeals to older readers including adults.

Young readers (1st grade and younger) will enjoy looking at the pictures done in vibrant colors, while older readers will understand what the concept the author is depicting.

A delightful addition to a home library or as a short and fun summer read from your public library.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review of 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominee

Here is the first review of the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award Nominees. The age range is 9-12.

The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DeCamillo

The Magician’s Elephant is filled with just the right amount of hope, love and magic to hook and hold readers. Her use of the elephant as the catalyst in the story brought to mind the story I read eons ago The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett. He also used an elephant as the catalyst but it didn’t come off as well as here.

DeCamillo’s many characters each possesses a part of us all. I particularly found the character of Vilna Lutz to be the most heartbreaking. The choice he made so many years before continues to haunt him even after all the other characters find the happiness and truth they have been seeking.

The flow and rhythm of DeCamillo’s writing moves her story along swiftly (I read the book in under an hour and a half!), and her words almost ring as you read. Like The Tale of Despereaux, her seemingly simple approach to complex ideas in The Magician's Elephant reaches across to fans and new readers of DeCamillo.

An excellent read for all ages. For younger readers, the elephant will be as memorable as Despereaux.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

2010 Colorado Children's Book Award Winners

Looking for great reads this summer for kids? Try these award-winning books:

Picture Books

Winner: Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude by Kevin O'Malley, Carol Heyer, and Scott Goto. A boy and a girl have trouble working together when they make things up.

Runner-up: Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery with illustrator Jean Cassels. Two animal friends stay together in order to survive the hurricane.


Winner: Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn. In this mystery involving the supernatural, a 13-year-old girl tries to identify the person in an old photograph with her mother and her aunt.

Runner-up: How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor. Homeless and in need of money, a girl tries to steal a dog in order to claim the reward, but finds out that's not who she is.

The Laughing Dragon Children's Book and Literacy Festival

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend will be exhibiting at The Laughing Dragon Children's Book and Literacy Festival.

The Festival is being held on

Saturday, June 12, 2010
Glenn Miller Ballroom
10AM – 5 PM

It will be a day of celebrating and promoting children’s literacy with live readings & demos by local children’s and young adult book authors and illustrators; book characters in costume; hands-on arts & crafts; prizes; 60 vendor tables, and more!

This full day of funfilled activities for kids and families includes: book characters in costume; facepainting; games; prizes; hands-on arts & crafts, and live readings from some of Colorado’s top children’s and young adult book authors. Admission is FREE.

Stop by and pick up your recipe for writing your own Medieval story!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book Reviews Starting in June 2010

School is out today, so I will finally get the time to read and write!

In June, I will start reviewing the nominees for the 2011 Colorado Children's Book Award. There are 10 novels and 10 picture books nominated. Should be fun.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Two Brief Book Reviews

These two books make good companion reads for The Odyssey and Shakespeare.

Absolutely Normal Chaos

Sharon Creech's fast-paced novel immediately pulls in readers age 10-16. Mary Lou's struggle to come to terms with her cousin will bring laughter and tears to readers. This makes a great companion book for students reading The Odyssey as Mary Lou is also reading the book over summer vacation. She constantly compares her family and herself to the broad cast of characters. Readers can visit Sharon on her website.

Shakespeare's Spy

This story is just one in a series by Gary L. Blackwood. It gives young readers a good look at Elizabethan society during Shakespeare's time. Shakespeare's Spy is even a good companion for older readers struggling with Shakespeare. Blackwood's historical setting is realistic and vivid. The book moves slow and is predictable in places, but is still a good read.

Great News!

Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend is a finalist for the Colorado Author's League 2010 Award in the category Book-Length Children's Fiction!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Lightning Thief Movie

Leave comments below on the debut of The Lightning Thief movie. Should readers be ecstatic and ready for the next Percy Jackson installment or disappointed?

Review of The Chronicles of Prydain

The Book of Three contains enough action and suspense coupled with Welsh legend and mythology to entice the most reluctant of readers.

Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper Caer Dallben, is learning to make horseshoes for horses Caer Dallben doesn’t have and watching after Hen Wen, a pig that can tell prophecies. What he wants is to be a hero like Prince Gwydion. Any chance he gets, he practices sword fighting.

When Hen Wen escapes on his watch, Taran goes out after the white pig sure he can catch her quickly. However, she has disappeared. To find her, Taran and the reader embark on a heroic adventure fraught with mysterious and dangerous elements and encounters with the evil Horned King and Taran’s hero Prince Gwydion.

Taran never feels like a hero on his quest. Instead, what he feels is his responsibility to recapture Hen Wen. What he ultimately discovers about himself and heroes will endear him to young readers.

Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three is the first of five books in The Chronicles of Prydain. Visit Alexander’s Author Page at to see his background and the complete selection of his books.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Review of "Court of Foxes" by Brian Lux

Here is the review of the Welsh young adult novel Court of Foxes by Brian Lux

Young readers will be immediately drawn to thirteen-year-old Bryn as he suddenly finds his life turned upside down by a move to a small Welsh village where adults and children are not eager to welcome outsiders. Deep within the ancient Welsh village of Morredin lurks an evil that no one talks about.

When Bryn starts having strange dreams, sees people and animals that are not there, and hears voices, he has only two confidants: his dog Cadno (Welsh for fox) and Selwyn, a mysterious man that villagers avoid. It is Selwyn who knows that Bryn has been sent to Morredin to deal with the evil that inhabits the village and the Court of Foxes.

Bryn alone must make the choice that will condemn or save the village and himself, a choice that faces each of us at some point. And, sadly, young people today are not immune to difficult choices like Bryn faces.

Court of Foxes is a fast paced story that will keep young adults and adults intrigued until Bryn’s reckoning at the end. The believable situations that Bryn’s finds himself faced with will hit home for many young readers.

Lux sets readers down in Morredin and immerses them in the Welsh culture. Welsh language is sprinkled throughout the novel, and the reader experiences some of the same frustrations as Bryn in trying to pronounce and understand the language.

Young readers may stumble over the Welsh words and the British vocabulary that is unfamiliar, but that should not disrupt the flow of the story. For example, the word ‘biro’ (pen) appears often, but can be defined in context. All just part of the excitement in reading a story from a foreign author. If you or your young reader read the American editions of the Harry Potter series, then you missed the British vocabulary.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The mystery and suspense kept me turning pages right to the end. Young readers should find this interesting.

Brian's book is available from

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2010 Bring Adventures for Readers and Myself

Happy New Year!

Here’s hoping that 2010 brings you and your young readers
many happy adventures between book covers.

As for me, I want to give you a preview of what is coming
for 2010 and some of the books I will be talking about.

2010 promises to be exciting for followers of author Rick
Riordan. In February 2010, The Lightning Thief
starring Percy Jackson will debut on the big screen. Pierce
Brosnan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener and Uma Thurman
will be bringing Riordan’s Greek mythology tale to life.
And, In the Fall of 2010, Riordan’s new series, a Camp Half
Blood spinoff, will debut.

Riordan will continue his mythology focus with his next
series based on Egyptian mythology. The Kane Chronicles,
Book One: The Red Pyramid
debuts in May of 2010. It
will introduce young readers to Carter, 14, and his sister,
Sadie Kane, 12, who are descendants of Egyptian magicians.
They will take on Egyptian gods released by mistake in the
present. I know I can’t wait to read it.

John Flanagan’s Book 7 of The Ranger’s Apprentice
series is out now. Erak’s Ransom went on sale January
5, 2010. I have to get busy because I still have Book 6 to

In future blogs, I will review a little older series set in
Medieval Times by Lloyd Alexander. The Chronicles of
has recently been reissued in paperback. I’m
working on Book 1, The Book of Three. I think young
readers will be excited about this series.

I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a review copy of the
Welsh children’s author Brian Lux. His publisher is
currently working on getting copies of his books into the US
market. Court of Foxes, set in Medieval Wales is
currently on its way to me. I’ve included a picture Brian
sent of Welsh school children showing off his book on a
recent school visit.

Later this year, I will share with you my recipe for writing
a Medieval Story. Easy, simple, and fun for all to do.

I hope to write blog entries more often in 2010. It is the
lack of time not the lack of material that hinders me. I am
deep into my second book Young Knights of the Round
Table: The Kings’ Ransom
. In this story a prince, an
orphan, and a blacksmith’s apprentice choose a dangerous
path when they swear by the Knight’s oath to save an
innocent man accused of murder and theft from death.

My writing workshops are also on the upswing. I have more
elementary school workshops coming up second semester. The
Girl Scouts’ workshops will be held again in Denver this
spring, and we also moving outward to Colorado Springs in
April. I am also working on more book signings.

It's great being retired!

Happy reading and writing to all.