Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day & Books for Kids

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! It’s been beautiful here despite a little bit of rain yesterday. I have spent a lot of my time weeding and planting, and I’m heading over to put some flowers on my grandfathers’ graves, both WWII vets.

Here are some children’s books I recommend for Memorial Day and also for any child who has a loved one overseas. This weekend, in addition to remembering those who served and died for our country, keep in mind the children all over the U.S. who have a parent stationed far away and are awaiting their safe return home.

All of the books listed below are available through, and I’ve included the ISBN numbers so you can also order from your favorite independent book stores.

The Solider’s Tree
by Stephanie L. Pickup
T.A.O. Army Kids Publishing, 2004
ISBN 978-0-9762458-0-3

Written by a military mom whose husband was stationed overseas, it’s the true story of how a family coped with dad being away during the holiday season by creating a special family tradition. Part of the proceeds from book sales are donated to various organizations that support the military community.  The book is also available through any of the U.S. web sites ( and the Hero’s Tree official web site features even more information including Hero’s Tree event planning.

Night Catch
by Brenda Ehrmantraut (Author), Vicki Wehrman (Illustrator)
Bubble Gum Press, 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0972983396

When a father is deployed overseas(location not specific), he and his son create a night time routine to keep each other close in their hearts and imaginations. Beautifully illustrated.

Memorial Day Surprise
by Theresa Golding (Author), Alexandra Artigas (Illustrator)
Boyds Mills Press, 2004
ISBN-13: 978-1590780480

When a family attends their local Memorial Day celebration, the children are surprised to find a very special veteran as part of the parade. This fun but touching story can help children understand why we celebrate the holiday but also serves to remind us that many veterans are members of our families and communities. The colorful and festive illustrations sensitively depict a multicultural community and give a sense of celebration which is suitable for younger children.

Love, Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom
by Lisa Tucker McElroy (Author), Diane Paterson (Illustrator)
Albert Whitman & Company, 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0807547779

This book is told through the eyes of a military mom’s daughter. Using a child’s letters it spans from the start of mom’s deployment (location unspecified) until her return home. This book addresses the anxiety and questions that arise for children who deal with a parent being away. The story focuses on the activities and events that daughter Lizzie experiences during that time and how she shares them with her mom through their letters.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hometown Art and Floyd News

This past weekend I had the pleasure of judging the 51st Annual Art show in my hometown of Acushnet, MA. A very dedicated group of arts supporters has kept the show going for many years. They believe in encouraging young artists, and some of my students’ work was featured there as well. Along with local artist and teacher Sue Wilson, we had the difficult task of deciding the winners in each of the categories.

One of my favorite pieces was a quirky and beautifully painted portrait signed "Duckworth". I think I actually recognized the models from around town. I also loved the O'Keeffe-esque flower by Susan Lawrence and the two interesting landscapes done with a linear colored pencil technique in the mixed media category by Simone Dalton. There were several pieces that I especially enjoyed seeing since they were created by my childhood painting teacher, Dianna Couto. She still has such a beautiful touch with detail work, as shown on her peony still life and covered bridge landscape.

It made me appreciate how so many people out there create art every day, for enjoyment, self-expression, therapy, and fun in addition to professional work. I’d love to see more young artists submit art works next year, so I’ll be getting in touch with some of you out there next spring (you know who you are!).

In Floyd news, my husband Matt will be heading into the studio Thursday to record the final music cuts for the Floyd DVD. The recording will be made at PBS Studios in Westwood with Peter Kotrimas, who has done the sound engineering on most of Matt’s CDs. Stay tuned for more about the DVD soon!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

South Coast Book Shopping!

If you’re soon to be on vacation, find your way to the Massachusetts South Coast. The South Coast officially includes Acushnet, Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Lakeville, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Rochester, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Wareham, and Westport.

We have some beautiful beaches and nature spots, great history, vineyards, museums, and many local restaurants and gift shops. I feel lucky to live where just being home, I’m already in a great place to spend the summer.

I love to shop for books (and lots of other things) at smaller gift and specialty shops. The South Coast has some great places to do your vacation book shopping, whether you’re collecting, buying gifts or you’ve just finished the last beach read stowed in your suitcase.

Here’s a list of my favorite local books stores or gift shops that sell books. All of the places on my list are open year-round!

Baker Books, Dartmouth MA-
The most popular local bookstore in our area, they feature books in all categories including best sellers, helpful staff, and the Bean and Leaf Café for leisurely shopping. The children’s book room is one of my favorite spots to explore. It is welcoming and has a huge selection (including my book!). The local interest section also has just about every book out there about the South Coast or by local authors. Become a member of the Baker’s Dozen club, and you’ll earn a free book when you’ve purchased 13. You can also hop across the parking lot to Remains To Be Seen, BB’s overstock store, featuring both brand new and vintage books at great prices.

The Ansel Guerney House, Wareham MA-
A restored historic home surrounded by woods and gardens, this is a charming place to shop and have lunch any time of the year (in winter the lunch rooms are heated by wood stove). More than ?? theme rooms of tastefully-selected gifts makes shopping easy and relaxing. The children’s rooms found on the second floor offer creative toys and gifts for infants to older kids as well as a fantastic collection of children’s books. The picture book selection in particular is very well chosen is beautifully displayed. A nice spot to visit any day of the year, I always make a special stop there at the holidays when I am able to find many things in one stop with no reason to visit the dreaded mall!

Partner’s Village Store, Westport, MA-
Another spot where you can shop and lunch, Partner’s has something for everyone. Located in a very pretty rural area that makes for a nice drive on a summer day, Partner’s features some great local products (like Salt Marsh Pottery), delicious fresh foods and the best gift selection for pets and pet owners. With a large selection of books for all ages, you’ll find current novels, cookbooks galore, and a section for children that is organized by age/reading level. They also carry a big selection of local author and local interest books. Little ones are welcome at the Children’s Reading Circle on Thursdays and kids can curl up any time with Ivan, the resident giant teddy bear. Visit the online store if you can’t get there in person.

Davol’s General Store, Dartmouth, MA-
Davol’s, one of the oldest general stores in the country, is an old-time shopping experience with lots of little nooks and crannies to explore. Their book section includes local interest and authors and a beautiful array of children’s and juvenile titles, including hard-to-find gems. They carry books and merchandise featuring Tasha Tudor, one of my favorite authors/illustrators, so they absolutely make my list of favorites! Don’t forget your penny candy on the way out.
Nearby is Alderbrook Farms.
Stop there while you’re in the neighborhood and say hi to Gia, Zoe and Momma, then get your local foods and gifts at the Alderbrook Farm stand.

The Village Toy Shop, Fairhaven MA-
Located in Lifestyles Plaza (I also recommend Perwinkles Gift Shop and Courtyard Restaurant when you’re there)This kid-centered gift shop has a small but nicely chosen book section, along with lots of other gifts and toys for every kid and even some grown ups can’t resist. In summer, there’s an ice cream counter with Bliss Dairy Ice Cream and Mini Melts, too. What more can you need?

No Kidding!
, Mattapoisett, MA-
On the “Ropewalk Mall”, this sweet little toy shop has the best selection of educational toys in the area, and a small but well-selected book section including many board books. With lots of games, musical toys and craft kits, it’s a great place to find rainy day or quiet time activities. There are a few other gift shops to visit on the Ropewalk (Isabelle’s is my favorite and Panino’s café is open for breakfast and lunch). Stop there before heading down to the beach.

Can you tell I love shopping on the South Coast??? There are many more shops and restaurants to visit as well other than bookstores but you’ll be so busy reading who knows how much time you’ll have. I know, there’s always time for shopping. Check out the links below for more ideas on things to do when you visit...

Author Slide Show Answers

Here are the answers from last week's Author Slide Show. How did you do?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Famous Authors and Self-publishing

As some of you may know, there are two roads to publishing your writing: traditional publishing and self-publishing.

Traditional publishing means a publishing house produces and markets your book while giving you a portion of the sales profit.

Self-publishing is when the author, in addition to writing the book and sometimes illustrating (like yours truly), does all of the work and investing that a publishing house would do.

This is a slide show I made featuring pictures of famous authors who at some point in their careers self-published their work. See how many you can name. I'll post the list below, but it's out of order so you can't cheat too much!

Thanks to and for the info!

The following famous authors self-published their work:
Deepak Chopra
Gertrude Stein
Zane Grey
Upton Sinclair
Carl Sandburg
Ezra Pound
Mark Twain
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Stephen Crane
Anais Nin
Thomas Paine
Virginia Wolff
e.e. Cummings
Edgar Allen Poe
Rudyard Kipling
Henry David Thoreau
Benjamin Franklin
Walt Whitman
Alexandre Dumas
William E.B. DuBois
Beatrix Potter
James Joyce
Robert James Waller
Marcel Proust
Margaret Atwood
William Blake
Lord Byron
Willa Cather
T.S. Eliot
Thomas Hardy
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Ernest Hemingway
Louis L'Amour
D.H. Lawrence
George Bernard Shaw
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Leo Tolstoi

Friday, May 14, 2010

Floyd Illustration Slide Show

Here's a slide show of some illustrations. This is made using a cool and very easy site

Saturday, May 8, 2010

News and Reviews

After a long week of final organizing and hanging my students' art show, I am back to the book business.

My new children's book is still under construction, but in the meantime, here's a review I wrote for Page One Lit. It's for the grown-ups and falls into the romance genre.

Support small press and self-published authors! Check it out!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Big News: The Floyd DVD!

It is a gorgeous day in Massachusetts. Just finished some planting and weeding overseen by the three corgis from their posts on the deck. Spring has finally made it!

So, my big news:
I am so happy to announce that a DVD of Floyd and the Irresistible Cookie is now in the process of being created!!

Thanks to the Somerled Charitable Foundation, an amazing video version of my book using my original art and story will be available soon. Wendy Macdonald is the producer of the project who proposed the idea to me back in December. I cannot thank her enough on behalf of all the artists and projects she and Somerled have nurtured.

Cinematographer Philip Holahan has done a fantastic job giving my illustrations a second life. The narration by the wonderful actress Heidi Swedberg (if you’re a Seinfeld die-hard fan like me, you’ll remember her as George’s fiancée Susan) is absolutely perfect. I love listening to her read my story and I know everyone else will, too! Finally, my very talented husband Matt Richard composed and is getting ready to record the musical soundtrack which runs throughout the whole video. It is, of course, the best soundtrack ever.

There is more work to do on the project but I will keep everyone posted. It will most likely be available as a digital download first and proceeds from the sales will go to a worthy animal-related cause to be announced later.

The book is still available at all the usual places: Baker Books in Dartmouth,,,