Thursday, July 10, 2014

Here We Come, Edgerton!!

I'm very happy to say that a fellow author, Claudine Gueh Yanting is sponsoring a giveaway of my new picture book Kailee Finds Magic IN Words, on her blog. Check it out for a chance to win a free autographed copy http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog/finding-magic-in-words.

As some of you may know, myself, my sister and our mother are all meeting up in Edgerton, Ohio on July 25 & 26th. We are going to have several book signings there.

Edgerton, Ohio is where my siblings and I grew up. It's a small community and according to the 2010 census, there are a little over 2000 people living there. Edgerton has two stop lights and boy do I know them well! As a teenager I drove through those stop lights a million times just coasting around hoping to run into people I knew, which was almost impossible NOT to do. I have some very memorable stories about those events. Some of my friends will remember what we did when passing a certain, Mark Gineman, through town!! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! What fun.

One of the things that makes Edgerton very special is the fact that we had a statute named Clem, right in the middle of town. At the time, we thought it was a pain to have to drive around but it really did make us unique. Later in life, Clem was relocated to the front of City Hall.
 
 
 
 
I can't imagine growing up in a better community than Edgerton. Our school was small, I think my graduating class had about 62 students, so our teachers were able to give us the special attention we needed to succeed. We weren't just a number, our teachers knew who we were and our backgrounds, which can sometimes be a good thing and other times...not so good. I didn't get good grades in school but was always reminded by some of my teachers that my two older sisters did! Sigh.
 
Here is a photo of our old high school which is no longer the school. It is still there but has been converted into office space for city employees since our City Hall was destroyed in a tornado a few years ago.
 




I still have such great memories of one of the houses we grew up in. I loved that house and have dreams periodically about visiting it again to see how it has changed. My husband and I drive by it every time we're in town. Here's a picture of how it looked when we lived in it. The bay window at top was the bedroom I shared with two other sisters! We only had one teeny tiny bathroom in that house to share amongst four females and two males! I don't know how we ever survived that.


 
 
Growing up in a small town did have it's challenges but we didn't really realize what big of challenges they were until we moved away!


But there are no better people in the world than the people of Edgerton or those that lived there but are now living elsewhere. At least that is how us Swope's feel.

And that is why we are making the long trips up there to have some special book signings! We are all so excited to come back home.

Here is where we'll be having our book signings and we hope that our friends, family, and acquaintances will stop by so we can say hi and give them a giant sized hug!

Friday, July 25 - 11:00 - 1:30pm - Edgerton Library. I'll be reading my book to the kiddo's probably right around 11:00. If any adults stick around and are interested, my sis and mom will speak a little bit about their writing experience.

Friday, July 25 - 5-7:30pm - Festival of Flags under the big tent, Miller park

Saturday, July 26 - 12-3:00pm - Susan's Hair Flair, downtown. We'll be there during and after the parade.

Hope to see some of you there!







Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth of July

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY EVERYONE!
 
My wish is for all of you to have a safe, fun filled holiday! And that my dogs will go potty outside like good doggies BEFORE all the fireworks start cracking!





Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Book is Published! Now What?

I've announced the release of my newest children's picture book, Kailee Finds Magic IN Words on Facebook and some other social media sites and now I'd like to introduce it on my blog! This book is a sequel to The Pea in Peanut Butter.

Kailee doesn't like to read but her mother is forcing her to practice. She'd much rather play dolls or rock out on her drums. Until she finally opens a book. Magic happens and she finds herself inside the book where she meets a talking chipmunk, Oliver. Together they go on an adventure to find the Grand Garoogle. Kailee discovers that words can take you on all kinds of adventures if you just believe.

I absolutely loved writing this story! I discovered a few things about myself after writing this story too. I love writing fantasy! Being able to use my imagination to its fullest capacity really gets my engine roaring. After all, when I was a kid, my imagination was wild. I played all kinds of magical things with my brother and sister. Sometimes when our parents were gone and my sister and I were left to babysit our younger brother, we really had to stretch our minds to keep ourselves from getting bored. We didn't have all the electronic gadgets of today to occupy ourselves.

My little brother was so much fun (well in between fights that is). I'm sure deep down he thought my sister and I were completely insane with some of things we made him play out. But he was always a good sport and played right into our hands. Even when we made him play the part of Cheetah, while my sis and I were Tarzan and Jane. I'm surprised he even speaks to us after making him do that!

I think one of his favorite "magical quests" was when we set up our living room as an obstacle course. We blind folded him and made him find his way under tables, over chairs, through tunnels and whenever he did, he got some kind of candy! He loved that.

It's because of one of our nutty magical games we played that I am a writer today. One of our adventure's always stuck in my mind and that was what made me sit down and begin writing my first story. I thought it would make a great MG novel. Once I began tapping on the keyboard, I discovered how magnificent it felt and I haven't stopped writing since. However, I've yet to finish that novel.

I discovered early on that it's picture books I'm most passionate about and what I seem to be pretty good at. So that's what I've stuck with the last five years. Someday, I do plan to expand onto novels of some kind.

Ok, so now my second picture book is out. Now WHAT? Well I have more waiting in the wings but in the meantime, here comes the hardest part of writing. At least in my eyes. PROMOTION.

I am not a salesperson, in fact I suck at it. I don't like pushing anything on people. But if us authors don't do that, no one will even know about our books, let alone buy them. And although writing isn't really an expensive side-kick, we still need to make what money we do spend...back. And some profit would be thrilling! But the only way to do that is to get the word out. Which is not an easy task. Especially if you're like me and you just don't know that many people.

So that's where I'm at today. I'm sure that a lot of people that don't understand how important it is to our careers as writers that we remind people over and over about our books, get a little sick of seeing us telling the world constantly that we have a book out. But I hope my audience will be patient with me and better yet...help me celebrate and spread the word!

Kailee Finds Magic IN Words is available on amazon.com right now but soon will be available on all online bookstores. If anyone would like an autographed copy, just shoot me an email at allyn_stotz@yahoo.com.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm Confused!!

Do you ever feel confused? Silly question huh? The way the world is today, I swear there is no way to be sure of anything anymore! Just when you get used to something, it changes. Drives me insane!

I go to the grocery store and try something new, for instance cinnamon butter. My husband loves the stuff on his toast in the mornings. So I buy it for a year or so than all the sudden, it's no where to be found. I search every grocery store in town...none! I search every single time I go to the grocery store and finally after a good 6 months, it shows up again. I buy about 5 or 6 things of it. Same thing happened when I discovered muffintops by Eggo Waffles. And I could name a million more things! I don't get why the shelves are bare with them when obviously they are selling so great they can't keep them on the shelves! They are just messing with my patience, that has to be it!


Computers and cell phones are the same thing. Why can't they just leave well enough alone for awhile?

Then comes all the announcements on the news. Eggs are good for you then 6 months later they aren't. An apple a day keeps the doctor away UNLESS you wait long enough until someone else does a study and finds an apple a day might kill you! Or cause cancer. My dogs love to chew on chopped up ice cubes. No harm right? Then I hear ice is bad for dogs. Oh come on...how can ice be bad for anyone? So I read some comments going on about it and I'm just as confused about it as I was when I first heard it. Some say it's a hoax, some say it's real.



You know that disorder where people are afraid to go outside their house? Well I can totally get that. This world is just so confusing and maddening. Plus the violence that goes on is just disgusting anymore. There are so many sick twisted people roaming the streets everyday. I'm not making light of that disorder, I imagine it must really be terrible for people who suffer from it, but, I think I'll play like I have it today and just stay safe and sound in my little house and write all day. Wait.....is writing bad for you??

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Writing Contest Opportunity

Do you ever enter writing contests? If you never have, you might want to think about it. At least once.

When I was first beginning my writing career, I was totally skeptical about whether or not I had any talent for writing at all. I thought I did, but still couldn't help wondering if I was nuts or not! Would I make a total fool of myself?




The one thing I did know was that if I was to become a writer, I wanted to write for children. So I researched and researched what it would take to become a children's book writer. And I must admit, it was a bit overwhelming.

However, once I sat at my computer and began writing my first story...I was hooked and knew that this must be my calling! I had more fun writing that story than I'd had in anything I'd done all my years of working.

But I still hadn't totally convinced myself that I could do it. UNTIL...I sent my first completed manuscript out. I entered it into a contest.

And no, I didn't win that contest but I won something else far more valuable to me. I won confidence in my writing. I had finished a story and actually sent it out! And that's a huge accomplishment for
anyone who truly wants to become a writer. After I sent my manuscript off to the contest I felt so good that I signed up to attend The Institute of Children's Literature. Best two decisions I ever made!

Why am I telling you all this? Well on my last blog I announced that I am now on FutureWord Publishing's Staff and we are having our first children's picture book writing contest. I want all unpublished authors to enter this contest because it's a wonderful opportunity. If you are the lucky winner, you'll get a publishing contract! Woo hoo! And even if you don't win the big prize, you could end up being one of ten lucky runners up and get your story published in a book of short stories that FutureWord is going to publish. So, you don't just have one opportunity to get yourself published, you have eleven!!

But even if you aren't a winner in the contest, this could be that extra little shove you need to actually get your work out there. To accomplish a new beginning. Remember, if we as writers don't submit our work, we simply will never get our stories published! And FutureWord can even help you with that because they also offer design services from top to bottom. Check out those services here: http://www.futureword.net/designServices.html

So, don't give it one more thought of "Should I or shouldn't I, Am I good enough or not?" JUST DO IT!! Enter the contest and see what happens while gaining confidence.

Check out FutureWord's website for all the details. http://www.futureword.net/Writers-Contest.html


Thursday, May 29, 2014

Some Awesome News!

Today I'm delighted to be able to share some good news with you! First off, my picture book Kailee Finds Magic IN Words is due out any minute. This was such a fun story for me to write that I can't wait for you all to see it. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I loved writing it. And don't worry, I'll be shouting it to the world once it becomes available.

Secondly, I've gotten another picture book accepted by FutureWord Publishing titled Hippo Bottomless. It should come out sometime in 2015.

Thirdly, and I am so thrilled about this opportunity, I have been put FutureWord Publishings permanent staff. I will be helping them with all kinds of things including an exciting contest they will be holding for non-published picture book writers. As soon as it's open, I will be sharing all the details with you. They are truly a couple of wonderful ladies to work with and I am looking forward to learning more and more about the publishing world.

Fourthly, I will be signing my book The Pea in Peanut Butter at the Lake Ponchartrain Craft Fair on Saturday, June 7th from 10-4:00pm. For anyone that lives in that area, I hope to see you there!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Small Miracle

Have you ever thought that a real miracle has just happened to you?

My family known as "the Swopes" is made up of my parents, three sisters, and a younger brother. These people, besides myself, are some of the smartest people I've ever come across and I truly mean this. I can't even single one of them out as the most knowledgeable because they all amaze me.

I think I speak for all my siblings in saying that we experienced the best childhood a kid could ever have. Sure, our parents got on our nerves, but the morals they instilled in us never left us wondering who the boss was. I hear stories from friends whose children talk back terribly and do such awful things to them. I can't even imagine doing any of those thing to my mother. We weren't perfect and did our share of misbehaving (especially me); however Mother put us in our place immediately. She had 'the look' that made us cringe and go crawl in a corner. We were afraid of her but at the same time, we knew we could come to her with anything and she would try to understand. My mother was the real discipliner of our family and she did a great job of it.  She never disciplined us in a way that was even close to abuse but my brother and I did get the occasional "hairbrush wack on the butt" from her. I think my dad slapped me a total of once my whole life and ten minutes after he did so, he apologized. But more importantly, my parents made our youth fun and filled with what sometimes seemed like "magic."

My family never seemed to lack having what we needed. We didn't have much money but our parents gave us just enough, while teaching us to be grateful, that I don't ever remember wanting for anything. I was never one who needed name brand stuff, if it was cute... I was happy!

One thing my family has been cursed with though, is that none of us will ever be rich. We all have the ability and skills to take care of ourselves, each of us has our special talents, and we've all worked hard on our careers, our education, and moved up the
ladder. But we are still cursed with not making all that much money.

However, we've received our riches from other sources. We've all had relatively good health and have really never experienced (knock on wood) any real live threatening experiences.

Probably not all of my family agrees with this but to me our family has been blessed with the small miracle of having three of us become published authors. Any of you writers out there know how difficult this is and how hard we have to work at it. Until five years ago, neither myself nor my sis and mom had any idea what this would mean to us, much less that it would actually happen.

So although becoming an author hasn't made us rich in wealth, rich in fame, or rich in books (yet), we have had the small miracle of finally becoming rich in pride.