Category Archives: Middle Grade Fiction

TENDER TUESDAYS

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MEET INSPIRATION

AN APOLOGY TO MY FOLLOWERS: I know this isn’t Tender Tuesday or Wacky Wednesday, and not even Theatrical Thursday… Please accept my apology for publishing this on Freaky Friday! (I’ve been a little busy….)

Many of you may not be aware that I’m in process of publishing my first Picture Book! I waited for months to have the carefully chosen publishers respond to my query and tell me how anxious they were to get the project to print. I dreamt of bidding wars over my manuscripts- seriously! You’re shaking your head right now, thinking another disillusioned novice gets a dose of reality. Not exactly! I have had some experience with publishing in a former segment of my life and after retiring from my full-on career as an IB principal- threw myself into writing 3 humorous Middle Grade novels (the Frenchie Series). (I’m being cheeky here and pointing out that they’re listed in the blog roll to the right of this post with links to Amazon and Red Tuque Books- just in case you’d like to check them out… ha!)

I was in a BIG rush to break into the book publishing world at that point and just couldn’t wait around for publishers to acknowledge receipt of my manuscript (MEANING: those that would even consider glancing at an unsolicited manuscript). That’s right, I never looked too hard for a literary agent. I figured I had researched enough and through my amazing educational career with literacy, knew which publishers would be ideal for my books. Well, wasn’t that a bit of a shock when they didn’t immediately call, upon receipt of my query packets, to offer a contract?

At that point, I thought I could make it work on my own, so I published with CreateSpace (self-publishers associated with Amazon). Let’s just say, I’m not sure anyone actually found my novels, even though they promised great distribution, if authors did all the right things. I totally worked diligently, booking readings, setting up a website, blog , twitter accounts, and Pinterest boards. I put my ebooks out on Smashwords, as well as Kindle, so that it would be available on all e-reader platforms. I found a Canadian Distributor (Red Tuque Books) and purchased ads for catalogues and literary newspapers, etc. I set up tables at X’mas and summer markets, and the list goes on…

What was the lesson learned from all that effort? THE BOOK BUSINESS is a difficult one to break into (near impossible, in fact, no matter how many webinars you watch, How To books you buy, subscriptions you have to Writers Digest, Book Baby, Canadian Children’s Book Center, etc.). However, in spite of all that, I still had to listen to my inner voice that was saying, “Hey Mary, do you think you’re a writer?” The answer is YES! And I had one particular story going through my mind, ever since I started sailing the Pacific North-West in my late 40’s on our TwoCan Catalina sailboat. I knew I had to publish it, and as I wrote this picture book, at the core of the inspiration were the delightful cartoons that were created and published monthly by Pacific Yachting Magazine’s COCKPIT CONFESSIONS’ cartoonist. Each vignette for this repetitive language picture book, had to have an amusing twist that would engage children, as well as parents and grandparents, and the entire boating community. The day I set up a meeting with Dave Alavoine in Starbucks in North Vancouver, was a day I’ll never forget.

Dave and I gave each other hints for how we’d recognize one another. (I had already been on the web looking at his past shows of his political cartoons, so I assumed I had a bit of an advantage.) But no, he was the one who figured out it was me- could it have been the meeting agendas laid out or the stack of my Frenchie novels, that gave me away? I chuckle to myself when I reminisce about that first meeting. I left it feeling like I was walking on air. He was such a lovely man and could visualize what I was looking for in the cartoons as we went through the text (which laid the context) and the action and dialogue I envisioned for each of the 23 images. Although, he was already committed to another book deal (Learn to Sail the Hard Way) and, of course, had monthly commitments with Pacific Yachting Magazine, he agreed to collaborate with me on OUR project, WHO’S the CAPTAIN?

This is the image that will be used on the cover of our book (I thought you might just like to have a sneak preview …)

Cover_004In my next installment I’ll explore more of the “tender moments” that transpired between Dave and Mary in their collaboration process of this awesome picture book that is on its way to becoming a reality! The core element to the success of this project has been INSPIRATION!

I know many of you who read my TENDER TUESDAYS have inspirational stories of you own. I would be so grateful if you would click on LEAVE a COMMENT below this post and leave your story. I promise to respond to all comments that are left. It enriches our experience, when one shares their thoughts with us. Please do!

 

 

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SCHOLASTIC SURVEY: WHAT TWEENS WANT IN BOOKS

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Nanoose Library X'mas Sale

Nanoose Library X’mas Sale

It’s that shopping time of year when you’re looking for some fun, engaging reads for your TWEEN-aged (9-12 year old) kids or grand kids to enjoy over the holiday season. SCHOLASTIC has a report coming out in the new year, but they released a chart recently that summarized their findings.  This is what kids aged 6-17 said they want from the books they read:

1.  MAKE ME LAUGH      (70%)

2. LET ME USE MY IMAGINATION        (54%)

3. TELL ME A MADE-UP STORY        (48%)

4.  HAVE CHARACTERS I WISH I COULD BE LIKE BECAUSE THEY’RE SMART, STRONG, OR BRAVE        (43%)

5.  TEACH ME SOMETHING NEW          (43%)

6.  HAVE A MYSTERY OR PROBLEM SOLVE          (41%)

Kids (9-11) want books that have a mystery or a problem to solve.

Kids (12-14) want books with smart, strong or brave characters.

This is useful information for parents, grandparents, and teacher librarians that continue to promote the reading habit with their tweens and young teens, after the primary years. As the author of the Frenchie Series, I felt validated knowing that my three Middle Grade novels fit the criteria for what TWEENS are looking for when choosing books that will entertain and hook them in. This age group can relate to Ethan, the main character, who would do ANYTHING to own a French bulldog. These contemporary fiction novels have tweens chuckling aloud as they join Ethan in his misadventures and schemes through his nightly Frenchie’s Best Friend (FBF) blog followers who are as “gaga” over Frenchies, as he is!

The Frenchie Series is a timely read for the holiday season for all TWEENS (aged9-12).  If your tweens are reading eBooks- you may want to check out the Kindle Countdown Deal on Amazon for Bk. #1 – Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog (the ebook has been reduced from $2.99 to$0.99 from Dec. 12th-Dec.19th) .Paperbacks are also available at all Amazon sites:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053HQ0AO

FBF without Spine

The Kindle Countdown Deal on Amazon for Bk. #2Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog (the eBook has reduced from  $2.99 to $0.99) from Dec. 19th to Dec. 26th):

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007BG2ETG

Frenchie X2 Cover

Bk. #3 of the Frenchie Series: Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog is available in Kindle eBook and paperback format from all Amazon sites:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GXIW57E

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Anyone wishing to purchase the paperback series in Canada can order directly from my Canadian Distributor: http://www/redtuquebooks.ca

HAPPY HOLIDAY READING with your TWEENS!

Knowing your TWEEN’S reading preferences, as you do, are you in agreement with the Scholastic survey summary?  I’d love to hear your opinions or those of your children/grandchildren/ or students.  Please leave me a note in the comment section.  And if you should take advantage of the Kindle Countdown Deals and purchase the Frenchie Series, please do leave a short review comment on Amazon for other readers to find.  I’d love to hear whether you agree with me that the series meets the criteria of what tweens are looking for in the books they choose!

 

Dog Friendly Travel Ideas

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Summer holidays are fast approaching and we all seek great ideas for traveling with our families (human kids and fur kids, alike). What you may not know is that http://www.themetrip.com/-dog-friendly.html is a site that offers Travel Tips for everyone, including FUR KIDS.  In fact, the site is so popular that Lorraine Hawley has published a book jammed pack with great ideas for the entire family: Product Details

Explore theme-style activities and adventures. “Themetrips,” are activity ideas that you can use to create your own memorable and interactive family fun while at home or on vacation.

Check out her recent Dog Friendly Post, as there is an AWESOME  SURPRISE!  Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog is recommended  (BK. #1 of the Frenchie Series) with suggestions for what makes this novel a perfect vacation read for tweens. Check it out at http://www.themetrip.com/-dog-friendly.html .

Read Tank’s (Lorraine’s fur kid) perspective on the fun read about the 13 year old tween who will do anything to own a French bulldog puppy.  Follow Ethan’s blog posts (FBF- Frenchie’s Best Friend) of daily misadventures, as he attempts to deceive his overworked, single mom by setting a secret scheme in motion to own a Frenchie puppy. Get ready for lots of laughs!

Happy vacationing with your pet-loving tweens! The novels are easily downloaded to Kindle from Amazon.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007BG2ETG FBF

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0053HQ0AOFrenchie X2 Cover

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GXIW57E 14549732_Frenchie Diva Cover JPG( 4341595 ) copy

 

 

 

 

Let me know what you think of Theme Trip and Tank’s page recommending  Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog.  Will you take this series along on your summer travels or send it along with your grandchildren, nieces, nephews or family friends? Please leave a comment, I absolutely love to hear from YOU!

 

Puppy-Napping

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I thought that I was the only person who had ever coined the phrasePuppy- Napping” in my latest TWEEN novel, Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog.14549732_Frenchie Diva Cover JPG( 4341595 ) copy

In this 3rd book of the Frenchie Series, Ethan receives threatening emails from someone in his high school, like the one here:

Listen you Frenchie freaking mama’s boy, you better watch those bulldogs of yours ’cause you NEVER know what can happen …

My novels are contemporary fiction and I couldn’t believe that pets in real life actually do get kidnapped! But then Global News followed a Frenchie Puppy-Napping story last week where a woman came into a tattoo parlor in Vancouver and asked the owner if she could cuddle her puppy.  The owner gave her permission and the woman walked around with the puppy in her arms until she got close to the door and then she raced for a waiting car with its license plates removed and drove off with the little Frenchie.  The Tattoo Parlor had a surveillance camera and they posted footage on TV and social media.  A few days later the puppy was recovered from Abottsford by police. REALLY!  I just can’t believe that anyone would take off with someone else’s  precious  pet, no matter how adorable the Frenchie might be.  I guess the old saying holds true, “FACT IS STRANGER THAN FICTION.”

A face this cute is obviously too hard to resist for some people!

tease4Grand-Dog Bert in X'mas Hoodie

Authors in Bloom Blog Hop Winners Announced

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Books - it is our memory conceptThe annual Authors in Bloom Blog Hop is over for another year! Thanks so much to all of our participants that visited each and every one of our 80 sites.  You are amazing!  Hopefully you gathered some worthwhile recipes and gardening tips along your journey. (It was wonderful to receive some tips in return from our visitors.) Maybe you even encountered some special sites or blogs that you have chosen to follow.

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER visited each and every site and will be receiving a new KINDLE FIRE and a $25.00 Gift CardCONGRATULATIONS Savannah Miller!  And this year’s SECOND PRIZE WINNER  of the other    $25. 00 Gift Card goes out to Mary Preston!

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The winner of TwoCanDo  Books’ GIVEAWAY DRAW PRIZE  will receive a FRENCHIE iPAD COVER.  Congratulations to Alisha Sienkiel.  She’ll be thinking of this particular blog site @ http://www.twocandobooks.wordpress.com when using her new iPad cover. Just remember Alisha, Mary Laudien writes an entertaining Middle Grade Frenchie Series, suitable for all TWEENS, as well!

14549732_Frenchie Diva Cover JPG( 4341595 ) copy

This is Book #3. All three novels are available on Amazon:

Frenchie’s Best Friend – Follow the Blog (BK. #1)

Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog (BK #2)

Australia   https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00GXIW57E

Japan    https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B00GXIW57E

Germany   https://www.amazon.de/dp/B00GXIW57E

Mexico     https://www.amazon.com.mx/dp/B00GXIW57E

Italy   https://www.amazon.it/dp/B00GXIW57E

UK    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXIW57E

Canada   https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B00GXIW57E

Spain   https://www.amazon.es/dp/B00GXIW57E

India     https://www.amazon.in/dp/B00GXIW57E

Brazil   https://www.amazon.com.br/dp/B00GXIW57E

France  https://www.amazon.fr/dp/B00GXIW57E

US    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GXIW57E

You might enjoy a few photos featuring the inspiration for the Frenchie Series:

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Win a KINDLE FIRE OR NOOK- Join the Blog Hop

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Books - it is our memory concept

Welcome to my Author Blog Site!  I am so pleased to have you participating in the contest and visiting all 79 of our sites between April 7th at 6:00 am EST through to April 16th at midnight EST. You have 10 days to visit each and every site and leave a comment and email address to qualify for the GRAND PRIZE  (a Kindle Fire and a $25. eBook gift card) or a SECOND PRIZE (a $25. eBook gift card).

HOW the AUTHORS in BLOOM BLOG HOP WORKS:

You have 10 days to visit each of the author blog sites that are listed and linked at the end of each contest blog sites, for your convenience. When you visit each site, you’ll be able to pick up gardening tips (from the talented green thumbs) and/or recipes (from the foodies).  As well, if you leave a comment and an email contact at each site, you have opportunities to win give-aways and you’ll be entered in the Grand Prize Draw for a Kindle Fire or Nook (winner’s choice) and a $25. gift card for eBooksPlease don’t forget to leave a contact email in your comments so that the Rafflecopter can choose the Grand Prize winner and  individual authors/bloggers can contact give-away winners.  We will want to mail your prize/s out to you ASAP. Remember:  In order to qualify for the Grand Prize and Second Draw prizes, you must visit all 79 sites.

(Of course, after perusing my humorous blogs that serve as samples and tips for writing entertaining blogs, you may even wish to subscribe to my blog: https://twocandobooks.wordpress.com. I’d love that!)

Win a FRENCH BULLDOG IPAD COVER ($20. value) as my site give-away prize. Any participant in Canada or the US is eligible for the draw at the end of the blog hop.  You may be asking why an IPAD cover?  Well, the picture of the Frenchie on the cover reminds me so much of one of the puppy characters in my Frenchie TWEEN series.  Everyone needs a cover for their eReaders and whenever the winner uses this cover, they will think of Pierre from my 3 novels: Frenchie’s Best Friend- Follow the Blog, Frenchie X2- Follow the Blog and the latest published – Frenchie Diva- Follow the Blog.  Hopefully, your tween/s (daughter, son, grandchild) will enjoy these madcap novels about humorous pet ownership, teen-age angst, and pursuing the possibilities. They are available on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. Check out my website for more information about my books and author visits/ blog writing workshops: http://www.twocandobooks.com  

iPad 2

You KNOW you want this iPad cover make sure you leave a comment with your contact email (and maybe even subscribe to my blog-YES!)  And never hesitate to forward my site to any Middle Grade reader, parent, or grandparent, or simply anyone who is “gaga” over their pets for some fun, humorous reads!

 

I don’t have a gardening tip, but I do have a quote from an exceptional novel that I believe has inspired me to want to garden.  Read BLACKBERRY WINE- A NOVEL by Joanne Harris (author of Chocolat).

“The kiss of the sun for pardon,

The song of the birds for mirth,

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth.”  (P. 313)

Since I don’t pretend to think of myself as a knowledgeable gardener, I am providing you with 2 recipes, instead. Don’t forget to copy these recipes:

The Tabbouleh comes from COOKING SCHOOL MEDITERRANEAN.  We are fond of quinoa and the veggies and herbs in this make a refreshing  salad. It serves 4.

generous 1 cup quinoa , juice of 1/2 lemon

2 1/2 cups water , 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

10 vine ripened cherry tomatoes, halved , 4 tbsp chopped fresh mint

3 in. piece of cucumber , 4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

3 scallions, finely chopped , 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

salt and pepper

quinoa

The Key Lime Pie recipe is from Weightwatcher’s 50th anniversary cookbook. I often travel in the US and love sampling the Key Lime Pies of the Southern States. Last year’s piece was superb in Charleston and 2 months ago, the tart taste in Key West was a welcome joy on a blistering hot day!

Crust: Combine 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup melted butter. Press on bottom of 9 in. springform pan.

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (smaller key limes from Florida Keys are preferable)

2 tsp unflavored gelatin

1 (14- ounce) can sweetened condensed mill (I use the light.)

2 tsp grated lime zest

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

1 small lime, thinly sliced.

(I like my pie super tart and limey, so I add about 1/4 cup of lime curd to the mixture.)

1. Pour the juice into a small bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Let stand until the gelatin is softened, 5 minutes. Transfer to a small saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring, until the gelatin dissolves.

2. Stir in the condensed milk and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes longer (do not boil). Remove from the heat and let cool 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to set.

3. Whisk the thickened filling until creamy and smooth ; stir in the lime zest (and LIME CURD, if you want it). Using a a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped topping until combined. Pour into the pie crust and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight. Garnish with the lime slices just before serving.

HAPPY BLOG HOPPING EVERYONE!

Visit each author on the list for the Authors in Bloom Hop! And don’t forget to leave a comment and your email contact on each site to qualify for the Grand Prize Raffle and individual author give-aways! Thanks for the visit!

1. Dianne Venetta ~ Cozy Mystery/Romance (US) 41. Stacey Joy Netzel
2. Rose Anderson 42. Deb Sanders
3. Alexa Grace 43. Janette Harjo
4. Katharina Gerlach, YA Fantasy author 44. J.L. Campbell
5. Jennifer Lowery 45. Lorraine Paton (INTL)
6. Catheirne Chant (US) 46. Amy Saunders, Chick-Lit Mysteries (US)
7. S.D. Bancroft 47. Jencey Gortney
8. J.D. Faver ~ Bad Girls Need Love Too…(Intl) 48. Sandra Cox
9. Tara Manderino (Intl) 49. Alisia Compton
10. Judy Baker, Cowboys and Indian Romances 50. Cate Dean
11. Sharon Kleve 51. Lisa Lickel
12. Sara Walter Ellwood (US) 52. Iyana Jenna
13. Anna Patterson 53. Jesse Kimmel-Freeman (INT)
14. Karl Fields (Intl) 54. Sheila Seabrook
15. LENA HART 55. Rose Cooper
16. Janice Seagraves, author 56. Halimah bint David
17. Lakisha Spletzer 57. Grace Peterson
18. Gemma Juliana 58. Nancy Pi-Sunyer
19. Victoria Adams 59. Elena Williams
20. Daryl Devore 60. Scandalous Stories
21. Jeana E. Mann, New Adult Romance 61. Lisa Orgler
22. Not Neccesarily In That Order 62. L.A. Sartor
23. Brenda Maxfield’s Smart and Sassy Teen Reads (INT) 63. BloominThyme
24. Elizabeth McKenna 64. Margarita Matos (UF & Romance)
25. H. A. Somerled 65. Lisa Chalmers
26. Susana Ellis 66. Diane Burton
27. Aileen Fish 67. Rebecca J. Clark
28. Cheryl Bolen 68. Victoria Pinder
29. Elizabeth Rose 69. Zelda Benjamin
30. L. Alison Heller 70. Liz Allen (US)
31. Eleanor Moran 71. Stacy Juba’s Characters at a Crossroads
32. K C Maguire 72. Jennifer Conner Romance Author
33. Patricia W. Fischer 73. I Am A Reader
34. Mindy Hardwick, Author 74. Darcy Flynn (US)
35. Melanie Macek 75. Joanne Jaytanie
36. Karen McCullough 76. Cassandra L Shaw
37. Michelle Abbott 77. Janette Harjo
38. Mary Laudien 78. Louisa Mack
39. Aubrey Wynne 79. Tiffany Schlarman
40. Kimberly K. Comeau

TEACHER LIBRARIAN ALERT: AUTHOR WORKSHOP

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Book Mary Laudien for Morning/ Afternoon Author Workshops 

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Mary Laudien is a retired International Baccalaureate World School principal from West Vancouver, B.C. She now divides her time between writing her Middle Grade Frenchie Series and volunteering as an International Baccalaureate Recognition Ambassador. Mary’s life long passion for KidLit makes entertaining readers with her own humorous novels such fun! Missing the day-to-day contact with students, author visits inspiring students to write powerful blog posts is an added treat. Mary believes in making a difference and encourages schools and book stores to fundraise with her novels to support their local SPCA.

All Middle Years Author Visits (appropriate for Grades 5, 6 and 7) include a prompt to provide a personal connection to her books, sample blog readings from her three novels, a discussion/video of what inspires her writing, tips on writing entertaining, powerful blogs, an interactive blog writing challenge/ contest, and answering questions regarding the writing and publishing process. Her student workshop is presented over 50 minute blocks.

As an educator, Mary is happy to present to combined grade groupings (e.g., 4/5’s, 5/6’s or 6/7’s). She is flexible and would be willing to run 2 or 3 workshops in the half day.

She charges only $150. per half day to cover her expenses and encourages the students to raise funds for their local SPCA by giving back 15% of all sales. (This must be well-communicated by the school, in advance of her visit, so that students come prepared and know that they are raising funds for a worthwhile cause.) There are a couple of chapters in Frenchie X 2 that deals with school fundraising through the Kielburger’s initiative of “ME to WE as a motivating connection for students.

Mary’s paperbacks are reasonably priced so that they are affordable for all. Her first book is priced at $7.50.

Frenchie X 2 and Frenchie Diva are priced at $8.99.

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Mary is setting up local bookings on Vancouver Is. and the North Shore (West Vancouver and North Vancouver) for April & May, 2014. Contact Mary by email to set up your author visits.

Email: mlaudien@telus.net

Website: www.twocandobooks.com (Discussion Guides available for novels #1 and #2)

Blog: https://twocandobooks.wordpress.com (Examples of humorous blog posts and blog contests.)