What’s Happening With the Monsters???

More School Visits & NCTE

This week I visited Holy Infant School in Ballwin, Mo and shared writing tips with the 5th & 6th grade students. They enjoyed listening to a clip of INTO THE SHADOWLANDS as well, and they asked insightful questions about writing. Scary on!

Next I’m on the National Council of Teachers of English Conference at St. Louis where I’ll be enjoying hanging out with awesome teachers and authors. Plus, I’m teaming up with fellow authors, Vicki Erwin, Stephanie Bearce, and Jeanie Ransom for a presentation encouraging teachers to write as well!

N.07 – The Write Life: Authors Empowering Teachers to Find and Share Their Authentic Voice with Students Come join us if you can! My books will be available there at the Left Bank Books booth. Check it out!

Teachers First with Poetry

I am very pleased to announce that TEACHERS FIRST.com chose my poem, Buggy Alphabetics,” as a teaching poem on their website.

Click on the link to TeachersFirst.com and scroll down the page a bit for a quick hands-on poetry lesson featuring my poem–so wonderfully illustrated on my website by Nikki Schaefer. Of course, you’ll want to visit my acrobatic bugs in the
Writings section of my website, so you can enjoy the slideshow as well.
If you want to try an ABCEDARIAN–an alphabetic poem that uses the letters A-Z in proper order as the first letters of every line–start with only a few letters. As you become more comfortable with this poetic challenge, see how far you can go–alphabetically–with your lines. In a new Abcedarian I created below, I give myself a little leeway with an extra word, here and there, after the main letter word on a few lines. I also use two semi-invented words. (Can you find them?) That’s why poetry is so much fun–it’s puzzles and puns and wordplay all wrapped up in the coolest formats.
Give an ABCEDARIAN a try!
For the Festivities,
Holly berries
In a
Loaded with
Nuts and
Quota for the
Sparrows, and
Turtle doves’
Warblings and


I am very happy to announce that DOGGIE DAY CAMP: VERB AND ADVERB ADVENTURES is now available from Guardian Angel Publishing. The picture book and grammar skills aid is already receiving two paws up from reviewers:

Doggie Day Camp: Verb and Adverb Adventures is a delightful read. Kit Grady’s illustrations provide perfect visuals for the adventures of a pup named Bubba. However, author Cynthia Reeg has nudged the reader to another level—one of learning! This author and illustrator have teamed up to present an abstract lesson in a concrete AND entertaining format. The activities at the end are the icing on the cake. This book, along with Kitty Kerplunking:Preposition Fun (also by Reeg), would be a welcome introduction to a unit on parts of speech for any classroom teacher, tutor, or home school instructor. It would also captivate any child’s attention simply as a fun read! —Jan Norton; Special Education Teacher; Seckman Elementary; Arnold, MO

In Doggie Day Camp: Verb and Adverb Adventures, author Cynthia Reeg entertains children with the story of Bubba the dog and successfully introduces verbs and adverbs to young readers. Children will connect with the delightful, yet, easy to read story of a shy dog left at day camp for the very first time. As readers follow Bubba through “tugging games” and “tasty treats,” Reeg identifies verbs and adverbs in red and blue print. She follows this k-9 tale with a useful study guide and activities using verbs and adverbs. Doggie Day Camp: Verb and Adverb Adventures is not only an entertaining story, but also an excellent resource to introduce grammar concepts to young readers and reinforce the use of verbs and adverbs to older readers. I’m looking forward to more books in Cynthia Reeg’s grammar series.– Kelly Secrease; 6th Grade Language Arts; Nettleton Intermediate Center; Jonesboro, Ar.

WOW Words!

Today author A. LaFaye took us through an exercise on WOW Words. What is a WOW Word, you ask? Words that appeal to the senses. They should be concrete and have a unique quality.

Like pifflesquat. Or acrobat. Or rhinoceros. Or fluttered. Or mesmerized.

WOW Words energize writing. They are great to use in poetry and wonderful for prose. Writers, of course, need to surround themselves with WOW Words. To collect them like dazzling jewels to make their stories sparkle.

Teachers in the classroom can help students recognize and utilize WOW Words. Ms. LaFaye suggested creating a funky jar of WOW Words which the students can draw from. She recommended introducing this topic over a five day period. At the start of the instruction, have students select 5 WOW Words and then use them in a poem or a short story. On the next day, the students may only draw out 4 WOW Words and must provide the additional word themselves. On the third day, they select 3 words and provide 2 of their own. On the fourth day, they select 2 words and provide 3 of their own. And on the fifth day, they can only select one WOW Word or perhaps even challenge them to provide all 5 WOW Words themselves.

After each day’s session, the teacher can collect the new WOW Words—written on index cards—then discuss with the class some of the new words and why they work. The teacher can add these words to the WOW jar for future writing exercises.

Here are a few highlights from Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s presentation on writing nonfiction.

It doesn’t have to be written in chronological order.
It needs to have rising and falling action just as fiction does.
Too much information shouldn’t be given at once.

Ms. Bartoletti showed us a page from her book, BLACK POTATOES: THE STORY OF THE GREAT IRISH FAMINE. She pointed out the 8 literary devices she used to make the material more appealing:

SETTING (quickly established)
SCENE (a specific instance)
CHARACTERS (quickly drawn so the reader can identify)
DIALOG (which can NEVER be made up in nonfiction)
PLOT (rising and falling action)
NARRATION (mixed in with the showing)
VIVID WRITING (active verbs, sensory words)

Be sure to tune back in here because Nikki Grimes comes tomorrow to share her expertise with us. I can’t wait!

Fizzing Over

I made it to Searcy, Arkansas yesterday and to the beautiful campus of Harding University. Here are a few pictures I took while trying to orient myself, and I am such a map-challenged person that it’s good the campus is small. Hopefully, I will not get lost. We started bright and early today at 8 a.m. It’s toasty warm here and the vegetation is intense green from all the extra moisture the Midwest has been receiving this spring.
I sat outside today on a white swinging bench in the shade while doing one of the writing exercises. Who could ask for more.
But there is TONS more happening in this already wonderful workshop. A. LaFaye opened the workshop this morning with her English accent–I hope that’s not one of the requirements for being a succesful children’s author, being able to do humorous accents.
Then Susan Campbell Bartoletti has been wowing us with all of her incredible information for building stories, delving into characters, and creating a soul in your story. I’ll expand later on some of the details.
Plus, this afternoon Carla Killough McClafferty, author of SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING: MARIE CURIE AND RADIUM, shared with us her insights of writing nonfiction. She showed us how to take facts and weave them into a story by using action verbs and senses.
This evening we’ll break into groups for our first critiques of each others’ writings. It should be interesting because most of the participants are literature teachers.
Already I’m energized and excited–and it’s only day one. I feel like champagne in a bottle and I’m not sure the cork will be able to hold in all this writing knowledge and enthusiasm without spilling over before the workshop is over. Which hopefully means, I will start writing some amazing things–or certainly plant the seeds for more to come.

Teachers As Writers

I’m very excited to be preparing for the TEACHERS AS WRITERS Moebius Workshop at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. The authors scheduled for the event include: Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Alexandra LaFaye, Nikki Grimes, and Carla McClafferty. (Patricia Hermes and Phyllis Root unfortunately had to cancel their appearances.)
I’ve been a fan of Alexandra LaFaye since I read her novel, WORTH, which won the 2005 Scott O’dell Award for historical fiction. WORTH was one of those books I didn’t want to come to an end. I felt so moved by the story that I immediately sent fan mail to Ms. LaFaye, who graciously answered my email. So I’m hoping to learn from Ms. LaFaye how to polish my stories into such an endearing masterpieces.
I just finished reading THE BOY WHO DARED by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
This intense look into a German teen’s life during World War II in Nazi Germany was both compelling and insightful. The story framed this dismal time in history through the eyes of a youth who dared to counter the oppressive military might of the day. Based on a true story, Ms. Bartoletti did extensive research to bring the story to light. Both Ms. Bartoletti and fellow author, Carla McClafferty–author of SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING:MARIE CURIE AND RADIUM, are masters of historical writing. Ms. McClafferty focuses on scientific facts and figures in her nonfiction books. So I’m hoping to learn many tips on researching and writing historical books from these two amazing authors.
And I’m also looking forward to meeting author and poet, Nikki Grimes. I eagerly sampled some of this versatile author’s works in preparation for the workshop. My favorites were THE ROAD TO PARIS ; WHEN GORILLA GOES WALKING ; AT JERUSALEM’S GATE: POEMS OF EASTER ; WHEN DADDY PRAYS ; and SHOE MAGIC. To listen to this versatile author’s lessons on writing will be incredible, I’m sure.
Check back later when I have time to share some of my experiences at the Teachers As Writers Workshop.

LAUNCH PAD Needs Authors & Illustrators

LAUNCH PAD, a free online magazine for kids 6-12, needs juvenile authors and illustrators. The ezine–a bi-monthly literary and arts publication–includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork from children in the U.S.

Read the request below from editor and publisher, Paul Kelsey.

Dear Launch Pad Readers,

I am pleased to announce that the second online issue (Fairy Tales & Fantasy) of Launch Pad has now been published. The issue is accessible on the magazine web site. In this issue, you will meet a genie who loves to work out at the gym, some uninvited guests, fairies that light up the stars, an evil magician, and two brave fairies on a quest to save their village from the dragon. The stories and artwork are superb, and I know you will enjoy reading these outstanding creative works.

Launch Pad still needs contributors. We are looking for works for our upcoming issues about the Ocean, Summer Fun (hiking, camping, summer sports, vacations, etc.) and Mysteries. If you are a teacher, librarian, or parent, please encourage young people to submit their work! We still have space in all of our upcoming 2008 issues, and Launch Pad especially needs young artists. I would welcome any comments that you might like to share about the second issue. Please feel free to forward or post this announcement on listservs, blogs, Facebook, or other resources.

Enjoy the magazine!

All the Best,
Paul Kelsey
Editor and Publisher
Launch Pad: Where Young Authors and Illustrators Take Off!

Consider this an immediate bulletin for all librarians, teachers, parents–especially those who homeschool their children. What a great way for a child to have his story or her illustration published!


Meet JENNIFER GLADEN—teacher, mom, and children’s author.
Her first children’s picture book, A Star in the Night, will be released this summer by Guardian Angel Publishing. http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/
Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?
Yes! Even as a child, I could always be found writing something. I wrote stories and poems for my teachers. I wrote in my journal every day. In short, it’s always been a part of my life. Growing up, I was a quiet little girl. Writing was my way of communicating with the world.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I sure did! It wasn’t until I took a few courses at the Institute of Children’s Literature that I realized this was something I really could do. I’m grateful that I chose to follow my dream. If I didn’t, I’d be missing out on the greatest career in the world!

Tell us about your children’s books.
My first children’s book, A Star in the Night, will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing sometime this summer. It is a Christmas themed eBook about a boy, Andy, going home on Christmas Eve. Andy, accompanied by a shimmering star, encounters three experiences, which change his view of Christmas forever.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?
Yes. My official website is http://www.jennifergladen.com/.You can also find me on my blogs: http://jgladen.blogspot.com/ andhttp://jengladensmusingswordpress.com/.

How has being a teacher helped you with your writing career?
Teaching helped me with my writing in many ways. It’s the best research a writer could have. I interacted with children every day. I saw what problems they were dealing with, how they reacted to it, what was important to them. Also, I have worked as an after school leader at the Free Library of Philadelphia. There, I helped students with homework and designed a craft once a week. That has helped me get to know children of all age levels. I’ve worked with Kindergartners through eighth graders.

My educational training helps me keep my characters real for fiction. I’m more in tune with what situations would apply to certain ages. I’ve learned how to “make learning fun,” which I hope carries over in my nonfiction pieces.

How do you find time for your writing?
When I get up in the morning, I throw on a pot of coffee. It helps me wake up. After the girls are at school, I begin my day as early as possible. My toddler is still home with me. So I know the earlier I start, the more I’m likely to get done.

Most of the time, I have to demand my writing time. Especially when all three kids are home. It sounds harsh, but it also helps the kids learn boundaries. They’re learning that Mom needs the computer, printer and her whole office at certain times of the day. Of course, there are always interruptions—anything from picking the kids up at school—to having a medical emergency. In fact, the little things that make me leave my desk (making lunches, reading a story to my toddler, letting the dog out) force me to take mini breaks. Otherwise, I know I’d barrel through the day without stopping. However, I try not to waste any moments. Ideas sneak up on me when I’m walking and driving, so I started carrying around a mini notebook.

When my husband has off from work, he knows he has full supervision of the kids. These are my “power writing” days. I try to get as much done as possible because it’s less likely I’ll be interrupted.

What are you working on now?
My current project is a picture book about a little girl, Olivia, who needs a liver transplant and her brave journey to get it. While many children are wondering if they’ll learn to ride a bike, Olivia is wondering when that life-saving transplant will happen. We see the struggles and complex feelings in which she deals with daily.http://jengladensmusingswordpress.com/.

This book was inspired by my own daughter who needed a liver transplant. When I looked for good books to read to her, I saw nothing which could help a child of her age cope with this situation. “There should be a book about this,” I complained to my husband. Voila—Olivia was born.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
My advice to aspiring writers is to stick with it. Be persistent in your dream. Don’t give up in the face of rejections. Just pick up your manuscripts, dust it off, revise (yes – for the umpteenth time) and send it out elsewhere.This is your dream and your goal. The only one who can assure your success is you.

-original Interview by Mayra Calvani, http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/

Writing for the Children’s Educational Market

Today’s entry is especially for children’s authors. Here is information from Margot Finke (http://www.margotfinke.com/ and http://margotfinke.blogspot.com/), children’s author and one of the CHILDREN’S WRITERS’ COACHING CLUB.

The National Writing for Children’s Center ( http://writingforchildrencenter.com/cwcc/)is the home of the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club (CWCC) –a growing resource for children’s writers, aspiring children’s writers, and elementary school teachers and/or librarians.
This Thursday, February 28 , 2008, at 2:00 p.m. eastern time,the Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club will offer another excitingand informative teleclass for children’s writers. Rita Milios will present session #1 in her:Writing for Children’s Educational Markets Series – The Lucrative Educational Market: Where Do YOU Fit In?
Find out on Thursday if writing for the educational markets is right for you. When you join, you will receive links to the other three teleclasses that were presented earlier this month.

Website Additions & a CONTEST

Greetings All!
Please pass the word around that I’ve added the following new treats to my website.
In the WRITINGS section, you’ll find:

BUGGY ALPHABETICS with illustrations by NIKKI SCHAEFER (www. nikkischaefer.com) This poem is an ABECEDARIAN–an alphabetical poem which uses the letters from A-Z for the first letter in every line. (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/writings/alphabetics.html)

A DAY in TASMANIA with photos–taken from my travel journal over the holidays. (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/writings/tasmania.html)

In the TIPS FOR WRITERS section, you’ll find:
INTERVIEW with NIKKI SCHAEFER–the very talented author/illustrator soon to be joining the GAP team (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/tips/nikki_schaefer.html)

More RESOURCES — helpful websites for writers (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/tips/resource_2.html)

In the FOR TEACHERS & PARENTS section, you’ll find:
BOOK SUGGESTIONS for DIVERSITY–a quick list to help celebrate the uniqueness in each child. (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/teachers/diversity.html)

In the FOR KIDS section, you’ll find:
BE A NEWS REPORTER–an easy break-down of the 5 W’s and a link to a Weekly Reader page to start the young news hound on his/her story. (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/kids/reporter.html)

SOLVE A MYSTERY–be the first to unravel the clues and answer the questions, and you’ll win a prize. (https://www.cynthiareeg.com/kids/mystery_questions.html)