Thursday, February 4, 2016

What About The Ending?

When I write my picture books, I almost always know exactly how I want the story to end. Or at least I have a good idea. In fact, many of my stories I've actually known the ending first. I know what message I want to convey to children and many times, I've written the ending line before I even have a title or beginning sentence.

Picture Books are short and sweet and quick to end so I've always felt I needed to know that ending before my brain can know what to write about.

I've recently had my fifth picture book published and have four more waiting in the wings. My Halloween story, Pumpkin Squash is due to be published sometime this year before Halloween.

Picture Books are my passion, however I feel like I'm ready to branch out. When I first began my writing journey, I started with the idea that I'd write a MG Chapter Book. Beginning that story is when I discovered writing is really a blast! And that I may have a talent for it. I always was a good story teller when I was growing up so why not begin putting my stories on paper.

However, I stalled out in the middle of the story. That's when I began researching Picture Books and signed up for a class. I immediately fell in love with writing those types of stories.

But it's time to get back to my chapter book. I want to have more to offer readers other than just books for small children.

My dilemna is, I don't know how to end the story! And after writing so many picture books, it is really throwing me for a loop.

Therefore, I have a question for all you novel writers out there. Do you always know how you want the story to end? Or do you just let the words flow and discover the end as you go along?






Thursday, January 21, 2016

Spotlight on Sue the Mingo goes to Mardi Gras

This is the second book in W.J. Smith, Jr’s series for children. The first book, "Sue The 'Mingo" was released in July of 2014. Sue is a flamingo with a colorful imagination!

These children's books, locally produced and written by Livingston Parish resident W.J Smith, Jr., target a pre-school to early elementary school aged audience. These large format paperbacks feature colorful art (by Kev Allen also a Louisiana native) and rhyming stories that are fun to read out loud, again and again!


A little history about how Sue the Mingo series came about:

When 2-year-old Kristian Smith visited the zoo with her family a few years ago she became enchanted with the pink flamingos and insisted on calling a flamingo a 'mingo. Her parents thought it was cute, and although the new word became part of the family's vocabulary, it didn't cross her dad's mind then that it would be the inspiration for a children's book he would author.

W.J. "Bill" Smith, Jr., of Watson, Louisiana, explained, "I always had the idea that I wanted to write a book, and when my father passed away three years ago, it made me think about my own mortality. I told my wife that I didn't want to wind up at the end of my life with a list of things I didn't do." His wife Cessely "Cissy" Smith asked what he wanted to do, and when he replied, "Write a book," she simply stated, "Then do it!"

“I thought, well, why not?” he said, “and then, ‘Why not now?’ I decided I wasn’t going to put it off anymore. Win lose draw, I would give it a shot.”

And so he set about writing, with the encouragement of Cissy, Kristian, who he says is now “8-years-oldgoing- on-20,” and son Patrick, 15. Recalling Kristian’s ‘mingo misnomer, Smith decided to write a children’s book about a flamingo named Sue who would have the same “sassy” personality as his daughter. “Choosing to write a book for children just felt right to me. I created Sue the ’Mingo because I wanted the book to have some relevance to my family. If Kristian was an animal she would want to be a flamingo!” he laughed.

Smith proceeded to write the book and learned a lot about the process of publishing. He estimates it took about 11 months from developing the concept for the book to having it printed.

“Sue the ‘Mingo” is about a color-obsessed pink flamingo who contemplates what it would be like to be a different color. It’s entertaining with its catchy rhythmic rhymes and colorful illustrations and along the way also teaches colors.


Once it was written, he passed it around to family and friends, and everyone encouraged him to get it published. He eventually decided to self-publish through local printers after discussing it with other authors. “I really wanted to go ahead and get it published without the delay of submitting it.


My Review

Sue the Mingo goes to Mardi Gras is a cute rhyming picture book for children. Sue, the pink flamingo, is color obsessed and dreams of what it would be like to be other colors.

Kids will get a kick out of this book and learn what colors are prominent in New Orleans, especially during Mardi Gras.

The illustrations could be bigger with more vivid detail but all in all, they are enjoyable.

Most children, and adults for that matter, are fascinated with pink flamingos. Therefore, I have no doubt they will love going on an adventure with Sue the Mingo!


Both books are available at Cavalier House Books in Denham Springs, Louisiana; at The Idea Station in Watson, Louisiana; Oak Point Supermarket in Watson and Central, and at our Website www.suethemingo.com.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Facebook Hoax

Happy 2016! I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe and happy holiday season. But now I'm depressed. I hate when it's all over. Sure it's a bit stressful and crazy during the holidays but I love the feeling inside that I get during that time of the year. I love that it's something different and exciting. Then when it's all over, it's just back to normal and it's so hum drum to me! But it is what it is.

As I was wondering what to write about this morning, I got an instant message through Facebook from my sister. I thought this was very odd since I've never gotten one from her before. We just email each other all the time. So I didn't answer her, instead I sent her an email asking her if she'd sent me one.

Now, why should I have to do that? Why should I be skeptical? The answer is because Facebook is getting to be a huge hoax for the rotten people in this world. Don't get me wrong, Facebook is a fantastic means to stay in touch with old friends, family, writing connection
s and all kinds of good reasons. But it has gotten out of hand.

In the last six months or so, I've been getting all excited because I get a message every morning telling me I have 1 new like and 4 new views. Huh? Everyday? How can that be? It's because someone out there is viewing our pages and trying to steal our accounts.

Also in the last six months, I've received a bunch of friend requests from people I'm already friends with, however it's always someone I'm not quite sure of. And instead of double checking to see if I'm already friends, I just accept. Then I instantly get a message from them saying "Hello, how are you?" When I got the first one, I thought How odd. But I answered back. One person said this, "I've been busy trying to win the lottery." I thought why do I care that this person I've never really talked to is playing the lottery and why are they telling me this?

So I wondered if this was some kind of hoax. So although I never really spoke to this person, they owned an ezine that I sent a story into so I asked them how the ezine was going. Then they said fine but spelled the name of their magazine wrong. I immediately knew something was up. Especially when they asked ME how long they'd been in business!! So I immediately deleted them.

Anyway, I've received several of these but have learned to never accept another friend request without checking to see if we're already friends.

I wanted to pass this on to anyone out there that may not know about this hoax. Never accept a friend request without checking first. One sure sign is if it's someone you think you may already be friends with and they only have a couple of friends themselves. It's a sure sign.

I don't know why these people are doing this or what their trying to accomplish but my guess is they are trying to get people's personal info or trying to get them to send money.

What I don't understand is why Facebook can't do something about this? They take it upon themselves to decide what posts we might want to see and from whom, but they can't stop these types of hoax's from happening? It's so irritating that I'm friends with all these people, but facebook only lets me see certain peoples posts because they want to control that!

If I didn't need facebook to help market my books, I'd be off it. It would make me sad because I do love when things go right and I can stay in touch with people I wouldn't ordinarily have a chance to communicate with, but it's really getting more of a hassle than it's worth.

How do you feel about it?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays everyone! And I do hope you all have a peaceful, safe, memorable, and happy Christmas season.


Sometimes this time of year can be extra stressful for people. I admit, there's a lot to get done for us women who handle every single detail of the holiday. The shopping, the wrapping, the shipping, the baking, the cooking, the decorating, and the clean up. But I love every minute of it...well most of it anyway. However, it's usually just my husband and I so I don't have near the stress that most families have. I still do it all, and wonder why most times, but I really don't have to please anyone else but myself. At least with the decorating anyway. My husband says he could care less. But I don't really believe him. ha

Those of you who have family to spend the holidays with, try to destress a little. Take lots of deep breaths and remember, you're doing all this hard work for people you love. But you also need to take care of yourself while working your fingers to the bone!

I miss the days of spending Christmas with my family. We always had the best times. Our parents always went all out this time of year. We had tons of candy, cookies and all the goodies. Christmas lights and music were always important to us. When we lived in our small town of Edgerton, Ohio we even went caroling a few times. Driving around looking at the lights was one of my fondest memories with my family. My husband and I make sure to do that every year as well.

But as years pass, you and your family have kids and everyone gets older and involved in their own lives, it's really hard to get everyone together. My family is spread out and it's just too difficult to get us all together. I wish with all my heart that we had had one last Christmas all together before my dad passed away this year. He wouldn't have really realized what was going on but it would've still meant the world to him and especially my mom. We will all be missing him terribly this year but I know he will be singing his favorite Christmas carols up in heaven.

Christmas is a magical time of year especially for the kids in this world. Let's all try to enjoy it and come back in 2016 with even more love in our hearts and hope for the future.








Thursday, December 3, 2015

Guns and Books!

I hope everyone's Thanksgiving was great! Mine was quiet but nice. However, today I'm very saddened and distressed over yet another shooting, this one in California, and loss of innocent lives. When is it ever going to stop? It's sickening to have to be afraid when going to a movie or any other public place anymore.

I'm a big believer in making stricter gun laws. I don't believe in hunting for sport because I love animals too much. To me it's senseless to kill one just for fun. Or even for meat when we live in a world where we can buy what we need to live on at the store. However, I'm not a vegetarian. I'll eat meat from a store because I have no control over animals who've already been killed, if that makes sense.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against people who hunt for sport, it's their choice. I just will never do it myself!

Anyway, to me there is no reason for anyone to have a gun except to kill. That's what guns are made for so why do we all need one? Why is it so easy to get one? I especially think if you live in this country, but are not a U.S. Citizen, you should not be allowed to own a gun. I also believe this for any country. U.S. Citizens should not be allowed to carry a gun to another country either. In my little brain, only law enforcement, defenders of our country, and people who work to keep us safe should be allowed to own a gun.

But that's just MY opinion so please don't anyone get upset. Everyone's entitled to how they feel so I'm just expressing my own views.

Okay, now on to something that I hope everyone will agree with me on! My newest picture book, Cookies for Punch has just been released by Guardian Angel Publishing and I couldn't be more excited! I've waited a long hard time for this one to come out. It's one of my very first stories and one that I'm very proud of. It's also about my dog, Punch so that makes it extra special. He's been bugging me for years to hurry up and get this published! So now it's finally here! Contact me at allyn_stotz@yahoo.com if you'd like a copy.


Also, I'm participating in the SCBWI Book Launch party for my other picture book just released in September, The Color of Love. I'd love for you to check it out and sign up for my contest. You have a chance to win an autographed copy of the book or a critique of your picture book manuscript. Stop on by at: https://www.scbwi.org/display-book-launch-party/?id=363804

I'd also like to let everyone know about my mom and sisters fantastic news. They have just released a new book of holiday short stories. The book is titled Holiday Connections. Each story involves a major holiday and they are all great stories that leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. If you'd like a copy, contact me at allyn_stotz@yahoo.com and I'll get you hooked up!


Thanks for stopping by and I'm going to use Ellen's favorite line, "Be kind to one another!"


Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Writing Prompt for Fall

Now that Halloween has come and gone, that means the busy holiday season is approaching us quickly. I don't know about you, but it's very hard for me to stay focused or find the time to do much writing with all the hustle and bustle of things to do during this time. And coming up with ideas to write about is difficult this time of year too as our minds are on the gazillion things we have to get done.

So instead of spending countless hours trying to come up with something new and exciting to write on my blog or wasting time staring at my blank screen,  I decided to treat myself and look up fall pictures on the internet. Since I live down south, we don't get to see the leaves change so seeing all the beautiful fall colors online is especially breath taking for me. But, I wanted to find something interesting but "eerie" looking that would get all of our creative juices flowing.

Take a look at this photo and have some fun with it. Can you come up with a storyline? If so, tell us about it!




Friday, October 23, 2015

I Want To Be A Dog

While I was walking with my dogs around the dog park this morning, I realized something. I want to be a dog!!! Boy do they have it good.

They get to run and play without a care or worry in the world. They don't have to worry about the fact that their big book signing coming up this weekend  is probably going to get rained out. They don't have to worry about what their fixing for dinner tonight. Or that they are getting older and have to go through watching their parents age. They don't have to worry about having enough candy for trick-or-treaters or that their husbands job is restructuring for the millionth time and he may end up unemployed. The biggest worry my dog, Punch has is getting too far away from her idol, Beemer (our other dog). And the only worry, Beemer has is how to get on the other side of the trail so the dog coming up to her won't sniff her rear!!

That's right, she's a dog but she's not a normal dog. She doesn't like to go outdoors without a human with her, she can't take a nap without peeing in her sleep, and she doesn't like other dogs. Here she is this little tiny thing showing her teeth whenever another dog comes up to her. Like they are afraid of her!!

Then there's, Punch. He loves everyone and everything. He never met a stranger.

Going to the dog park is extremely good for my mood and gives me tons of inspiration for writing kids books. To me there is nothing more joyous than watching all the doggies running and having a great time. Just like you parents out there enjoy watching your kids at the kiddy park, well that's how I feel watching my four legged kids.

We should all take a tip from our pets and stop stressing about everything. Why don't we just take a walk and chill out like they do? Or find a friend to play with and smile. And maybe if we're real good, someone will give us a treat! Yep...I want to be a dog.


Before the park



After the park