Saturday, June 30, 2012

37 Loggerhead Sea Turtles Introduced to Turtle Excluder Device

Federal biologists released 37 loggerhead sea turtles into the Indian River Lagoon, Florida, this week morning, about a mile south of Sebastian Inlet.

2397.jpgThe turtles had been used in an experiment in Panama City, where biologists video record the turtles swimming through fishing nets to learn how best to design escape hatches in the nets that allow turtles to slip free.

Shrimp nets are one of the main causes of sea turtle deaths. The turtles drown in the nets when they can’t escape and reach the surface for air.

The 3-year-old turtles weigh 20 pounds to 30 pounds and were gathered as hatchlings in the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge.

The turtles were raised in Galveston, Texas, and then taken to NOAA’s Panama City facility for the net experiments.

It is hoped these excluder devices will become an integral part of saving sea turtles.  Loggerhead sea turtles are federally protected as a threatened species.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Wind In The Willows--New App!

The Kenneth Grahame novel follows the countryside adventures of much-loved characters Toad, Ratty, Badger and Mole.

The Wind In The WillowsIt centers around the animals' adventures on The River, thought to have been inspired by the Thames, near to which Grahame lived.

But while the new release sticks closely to the original for its words and pictures, a simple touch of the screen brings the story to life.

The Wind in the WillowsThe famous scene of Toad tearing through leafy roads in his motorcar is now fully animated, with the reader able to steer the vehicle as it speeds along.  Dancing butterflies and partying weasels feature in other scenes that can be controlled by the player.

Developed by creative team Bibliodome, from Chagford, in Devon, the app aims to match the book in all its splendor.

Novelist Sam North, who adapted the tale for the app, told how he made sure the story remained the most important thing — not flashy graphics.  He explained: “Everyone knows what a great, well-loved tale it is and we insisted that the story must remain at the heart of the project.

And artist Steve Dooley, who created the illustrations, said he was inspired by Grahame's words to the original illustrator: "I love these little people, so please be kind to them."

And as for me, your humble blogger, anything that promotes this timeless treasure is splendid!  Grahame did the world a favor by conjuring up these simple but so complex characters that have so much to say in a delightful manner.

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Kids’ Books Boost Literacy in Zimbabwe and Zambia

A series of books specifically designed to boost literacy in Southern African countries is now approved for use in both Zimbabwe and Zambia.

We really have no future if the children cannot read.
The Happy Readers series of educational books are specifically created for children living in Africa,  Over the last two years they  have been put in over 500 schools in Zimbabwe, and the Zambian ministry of education has now approved them.

Originally created in the 1980s, the series teaches literacy through word repetition.  It uses characters, animals and settings
happy_readers004017.jpgfamiliar to rural and urban African children.

“Many book series are European or American in content and African children, especially those living in rural areas, can find it hard to understand the word meanings or the way of life depicted. This makes learning harder,” said Emma O’Beirne, who re-launched the series with her husband Conor two years ago after seeing illiteracy rates skyrocket in Zimbabwe.

Since the series was relaunched, nearly every private school in Zimbabwe has bought them – but despite being more affordable than the alternatives, lack of funding is hindering the program’s potential.

We really have no future if the children cannot read.

“Everyone from the headmasters to ministry staff, to the villagers understands the importance of being able to read and are incredibly keen to see the projects work, but it is still hard to raise funding,” O’Beirne said.

“Wherever we can, we try and scale back costs on a reading project to ensure that funding goes on books. We really have no future if the children cannot read,” O’Beirne said.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Jim Henson Company Bringing Frog and Toad to the Big Screen

FrogAndToad2The Jim Henson Company, based in L.A., has picked up the film and consumer products rights to 1970s classic children’s book series Frog and Toad, written and illustrated by Arnold Lobel.

An animated film featuring the comic adventures of the amphibian pals is in development, while a licensing program based on the series’ original artwork is underway.

The Lobel series consists of four Frog and Toad books and five short stories that have sold more than 13 million copies over the years and continue to sell in excess of one million copies annually for publisher HarperCollins.

Lisa Henson will produce the animated film slated for release in 2014, while Adam and Adrianne Lobel are the producers. 

As for consumer products, Henson has secured L&M representation rights from HarperCollins Children’s Books and SVP of global consumer products Melissa Segal says 
she’s not waiting for the movie to start working on a licensing program. She and her team at Henson are taking a two-pronged approach.

At the Licensing Show next week, Segal will be talking to potential partners for a classic Frog and Toad program targeting the infant, kids and adult demos. She believes the property sits comfortably among literary classics like Beatrix Potter and Winnie the Pooh. “The books are still read in schools and also resonate with parents,” she says.

To that end Segal will be looking primarily for soft goods (think onesies and layettes for infants, nightwear for kids, and statement-based apparel for adults), accessories, gift and room decor partners to launch a classic Frog and Toad program at US mid-tier and specialty retailers in 2013.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

SCBWI Florida's Mid-Year Conference Was Wonderful!

Wow.  What an amazing conference. The SCBWI Florida Mid-Year Conference at the Walt Disney World Yacht Club, Orlando, was an amalgam of fabulous new material, collegiality and interesting people. 

Nancy and Andrea Davis Pinkney
I attended the Picture Book Intensive lead by Andrea Davis Pinkney, a New York Times best-selling and award-winning author and editor at Scholastic, Inc. and by Sylvie Frank, associate editor at Holiday House.  Both women did a marvelous job discussing the intricacies of picture book writing and marketing. 

It was my pleasure to conduct the all-day workshop on non-fiction with Deb Noyes Wayshak, editor-at-large at Candlewick Press. 

Part of our Tampa critique group
I want to thank those who attended our workshop.  It was so lovely to work with you.

 Deb and I wish you well in your pursuit of fair use and thorough research in the writing fun, exciting and worthy non-fiction.

All of my expectations were fulfilled.  New friends were met.  New information and ideas were learned.  What an august group.  Being an author rocks!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Keep Readers Interested in Your Non-Fiction Work!

Non-fiction.  The hyphenated word that sends people running from the room or jumping in their cars straight to the fiction section of the bookstore.  It doesn't have to be that way.

Here are some tips for writing interesting, intriguing, edge of your seat non-fiction.  Surprisingly, many of them are the very same ones that make fiction so enjoyable.

Life! Something your character/s have to have.  Write in such a way that the reader relates to the personalities in a nonfiction story.  Your readers must identify with your character/s, or they will not stay with the story.  Be truthful, but make them seem real, well-rounded people.

Suspense!  Use (when possible) in each chapter, just as one does in a work of fiction.  Of course, nonfiction writing must report the facts as they occurred. BUT the best nonfiction writing presents the information in an interesting, fluid and engaging manner, so the reader’s attention stays in the story all the time. 

Surprise!  Use it to keep the reader's attention.  Tell them something they did not expect to hear.  Use it to keep the reader's attention.  once you have that, keep surprising them!

Enjoy writing non-fiction.  It is fun to do and is so rewarding.  Your readers will be surprised at how enjoyable this genre is to read when it's done using these tips!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fair Use and Other Potential Pitfalls in Writing Non-Fiction for Children and Adults

On Saturday, June 16, I am conducting a workshop on writing Non-Fiction for Children at the SCBWI Florida Mid-Year Workshop in Orlando.  To that end, I've been posting a series of tips for non-fiction writers to use.

Today, I am discussing Fair Use, an accepted practice for quoting portions of published text  According to The Copyright Permission and Libel Handbook, by Lloyd J. Jassin, fair use allows:

researchers, authors, scholars and educators to borrow small portions of a copyrighted work for socially productive purposes without asking permission or paying a fee.

Unfortunately, there are no firm guidelines for "small portions," as it depends on the type and size of the work.  Two hundred words, however, is a good rule of thumb.

To be completely safe, of course, one should seek written permission from the copyright owner.

Another potential pitfall can be what is termed, Model Releases.  Any one using a photo of a person's face, especially children, a release needs to be obtained by the person or guardian.  As a university professor, I stressed this to my  education students in order to keep them safe from litigation.

I hope these tips help in a small way.  At the very least, it may assist one in thinking about avoiding missteps along the way to completion of a marvelous piece of non-fiction!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Social Media Networking: Be an Active Participant with Relevant News, Articles, and Assistance

It is my great pleasure to welcome Donna McDine to the blog for her monthly post, Marketing Monday.  Her expertise in such matters is amazing, and I learned from reading this offering myself.  Welcome, Donna!

I haven’t forgotten my promise from my last post to discuss LinkedIn, but like many things my inner thoughts have taken over and my conscious is beating the heck out of my mind to chat about the importance of personal participation in social media networking.

The success for any type of social media networking is active participation. Yes, technology allows us to become automated in just about every aspect of postings through cyberspace. The convenience of scheduling blog posts to Twitter, then to Facebook, then to LinkedIn is a great time save, but we must set a daily reminder to become engaged personally in our social networking.
I admit with a red face I’ve been guilty of allowing my automation take over and have become absent as a live person via my social networking. I have given myself the good old slap upside the head and no longer will I allow myself to become the absentee markete
As of late, I’ve downloaded the Twitter application (app) to my Droid phone, providing me the opportunity while waiting for my daughter to come out of basketball practice or religion to engage with fellow Tweeters. This is proven to be a successful way of engaging for me and have connected with current and new colleagues, potential clients in the children’s publishing industry, and for those seeking out assistance with their social media campaigns. Twitter works perfectly on the Droid phone because of the rolling screen of Tweets. Thanks Twitter, for keeping tweets to 140 characters.
Luckily my family gave me an iPad several years ago and I’ve downloaded the Facebook and Twitter apps to further engage with others. I personally like the Facebook app on the iPad since it’s a much larger screen than my Droid phone
Mind you, I do try to keep my personal social interaction down to 30 minutes per day so I’m not spending the majority of my time away from my valuable writing, editing, Author PR Services time, and of course my family.
Key attributes in becoming an active social media networker
·         Share relevant information to followers, friends, and colleagues (whatever the specific social media network calls them). If you are a children’s book author share… the latest publishing industry news you’ve read about, your latest magazine article publication or book release, children’s book fair events, children’s book conferences (such as SCBWI by region), your experience in conducting school visits, etc. The list is endless. Important to note, don’t make it all about you. Shout out the successes of your colleagues.
·         Engage in online chats through social media networks. For example, on Facebook search groups you are interested in joining… such as, teachers, librarians, parents, schools. Participation is imperative, so I strongly suggest you do not join more than 1-2 groups per social media network you are a member of.

·         Offer tips and assistance from your expert standpoint. When a particular topic is being discussed and you have experience in said topic, join in the conversation and engage. You will be pleased and amazed on how much people appreciate your feedback and they will remember that in the future. You will eventually be known as the go to person in your field of expertise, which often times leads to much more than you ever provided

·         Don’t fall into the “it’s all about me attitude.” This is a sure fire way to turn people off. Don’t chat about your specific book or product unless the conversation specifically lends to it.
Once you join a group on most of the social media networks you are able to set an email option to be reminded of the latest discussions in the group so you remember to participate. You can also set a reminder through your To Do/Tasks option in your email. I utilize Outlook for my email and I’m constantly updating and checking off my To Do/Tasks list, which by the way gives me great satisfaction in checking off the latest item. Yep, I’m a list person and love to see the list of checked off tasks! I tell my girls all the time, if it’s not on my list it won’t get do
Happy networking and remember don’t overload yourself!
Until next time…
Donna M. McDine
Publicist & Award-winning Children's Author
Donna’s Website:
Write What Inspires You Blog:

Friday, June 8, 2012

World Oceans Weekend is Here!

Who doesn't know this weekend is a celebration of the oceans?  World Ocean Weekend, whether we realize it or not, affects everyone on this fragile planet.  Every living thing needs water, and we are all dependant upon it.

Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Shot on a calm wind morning witht the sun perfectly centered in the middle of the moving tube. Look closely on the upper left side in the arch of the wave to see the beach and landscape reflected upside down. The curve in the wave has a similar effect to how a spoon reflects objects upside down.In honor of it, I am posting photos of our oceans and will remind us all that oceans cover 71 percent of the earth's surface and contains 97 percent of the planet's water (NOAA).

Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
A Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, honu as they are known in Hawaii, passes between Clark and a breaking wave. This photograph won Clark the distinction of Highly Honored Photographer of Endangered Species and was exhibited at Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History from April to September 2011.Please let me remind you that tomorrow, June 9, from 10:30 until 12 noon, The Pier Aquarium, St. Petersburg, Florida, will celebrate the event by hosting Katrina Simpkins and me.  We will showcase my new book called, Katrina and Winter:  Partners in Courage.

Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Another beautiful sunset on the North Shore of Oahu.My Britt and Bella Series deals directly with issues concerning our oceans and beaches.  The girls are always on the job, helping keep their beach and the animals that live there safe!

Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
A one-in-a-million shot taken as two waves collide sending up a column of water infront of the sunrise. Named after the shape of the Marlin's dorsal fin. 
This image was featured as a two page spread in National Geographic Magazine world wide.Happy Oceans Weekend to you!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Young Children Face Their Fears in 'Meg the Egg'

Meg the Egg, a children’s book by Rita Antoinette Borg, tells the story of the title character, an unhatched baby chick whose fear of the noises of the outside world keeps her from hatching.

Meg the EggMother Hen wants her to hatch, but Meg has heard too many noises from the outside world to want to come out. As she attempts to encourage her reluctant chick, Mother Hen assures her that the oinking is just pigs and the quacking is just ducks and that her siblings have already safely hatched.

But Meg mostly fears the Howls. When the Howls sneak into the barn one night and snatch Mother Hen, Meg will discover courage she did not know she possessed to save the mother she loves.

“The book is an easy-to-read tale for reluctant readers and children who love to read by themselves,” says Borg. “Parents and kids can have fun together making the various noises of the barnyard animals.”

Inspired by the author’s own daughter’s fear of the dark, the story of Meg will encourage children to face their own fears and feel greater confidence in themselves. Written to engage, entertain and inspire, the book features color illustrations and a happy conclusion sure to please young readers.

This looks to be an adorable book with an important message.  I am happy to showcase it here.

“Meg the Egg” is available for sale online at and other channels.

Rita Antoinette Borg
Phone: 00356 21433234

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nancy and Katrina at The Pier Aquarium Book Nook by the Bay, St. Petersburg, FL (June 9)

Special Guest bestselling and award-winning Author Nancy Stewart will read from her newest book, Katrina and Winter: Partners in Courage, the authorized biography of young girl whose life changed after a meeting with Clearwater Marine Aquarium's famous tail-less dolphin five years ago.

Book Nook by the Bay Schedule

10:30am Fresh Fish Theater Craft Activity and Meet Nancy Stewart and Katrina Simpkins
11am Nancy reads excepts from her book; Katrina will answer questions about the stories
11:30 am Craft activity continues
11:45am Book signing

About Book Nook by the Bay

The Pier Aquarium's Book Nook is a first Saturday-of-the-month literary event featuring Fresh Fish Theater and craft activity. Featured Creature facts, suggested reading by Youth Service Coordinator Beth Lindsey from the St. Petersburg Public Library System, the aquarium's marine science library and, of course, the reading of books. It is free with a paid aquarium admission.

About The Pier Aquarium

Colorful tropical fish in the Invertebrate Tank
Established in 1988, The Pier Aquarium is a private, non-profit aquarium and marine education center located in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida at The Pier. It showcases 17 tanks of live fish and other marine life and educational exhibits on the first and second floors and an outdoor marine laboratory and teaching unit, the Roy G. Harrell, Jr. Education Station, located on the Pier approach.

Its mission is to enhance the public’s understanding of the value and fragility of the local and global marine environment through research, education and personal experiences. The Pier Aquarium serves as the "public face” for the St. Petersburg Ocean Team’s research, innovation and technology. The Ocean Team is a consortium of 14 marine science and oceanographic institutions and environmental research agencies in the Southeast and one of the top such industry clusters in the nation.

More than 65,000 visitors, including 15,000 who participate in our scheduled educational programs, come to The Pier Aquarium annually to attend our Saturday programs, an annual free marine discovery day and Summer Marine Adventures summer camp. Volunteers contribute more than 3,000 hours each year.

The Pier Aquarium has announced a move to John’s Pass Village, Madeira Beach, Florida and expansion to a 12,500 sq. ft. facility called the Secret of the Seas Marine Discovery Center and Aquarium by the end of December 2012.

Contact: Emily Stehle, APR
(727) 803-9799, ext. 207
cell (727) 688-7993, ext. 207

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Guest Post and Book Giveaway for Thoughts in Progress: Come On, Muse! Give Me a Break

Every author has a muse.  Really, it's difficult to function without one.  Actually, it's difficult to function with one as well.  Why?  The best synonym I can think of for muse is capricious.  To a muse, that describes each one of them.

For over 2,500 years and throughout western civilization, it is largely acknowledged by artists of every sort that their inspirations, creativity and talent come from them. Yet, in this day and age of scientific thought, one would think this would be a preposterous concept for intelligent people to believe yet it remains the case.   It certainly does!

Visit the Thoughts in Progress Blog today, and learn all about mine.  She visits me at the most inconvenient times and places.  She never gives me warning that she's about to appear. She's rude that way.

But given the choice, could I do without her?  Wouldn't even want to try.  When she's with me, every word floats on its own.  Every page is a poem.  Every chapter has its own brilliance.  I could go on, but then you'd think my muse had left me...

Oh, and by the way, my muse reminds me there is a book giveaway.  One person will win a copy of Katrina and Winter:  Partners in Courage by visiting the blog!  Perhaps your muse will be good to you!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Children’s Ezine Guardian Angel Kids: Growing Up – June 2012 Issue

The Guardian Angel Kids creative crew is pleased to announce the new Ezine format. The inviting visual will take the reader on a turn page style adventure with the click of the mouse accompanied with the sound of turning a page in your hand. Without further ado, we present the Guardian Angel Kids Growing Up June 2012 issue…

The carefree days of childhood invokes memories of lazy days of summer vacation filled with days of swimming at the town pool. It was the central social point of the neighborhood and the excitement of the day would then flow onto our cul-de-sac (after the children of the neighborhood ate their respective suppers) where there was always a stick ball game going on until the single street light flickered on.

Quickly we would change gears and switch to playing flashlight tag. My mother, always an avid reader, made sure her children read each and every day and to this day we all have instilled the same love of reading with our own children. Without lapsing in our reading skills throughout the summer we were always well prepared with our studies. The days appeared endless and before you knew it, it was time for back to school shopping.

The love of reading has led me to the path of writing for children and Editor-in-Chief of Guardian Angel Publishing, for which I’m joyful for and proud to present the Guardian Angel Kids June 2012 issue of Growing Up  
We hope you enjoy our issue of Growing Up as much the Guardian Angel Kid staff did reminiscing about our childhoods and selecting the wonderful poetry, stories, articles, and activities.  

Featured BookS:

Growing Up Dreams by Susan Berger and illustrated by Samantha Bell

The Odd Chick by Mary Esparza-Vela and illustrated by Kevin Collier

Children’S poetry, ACTIVITIES, SHORT STORIES, and articleS:

“I’m Growing Up,” poetry by Guy Belleranti – how quickly the time passes by.

“Is It Friday Yet?” poetry by Alicia Z. Klepeis – The excitement of the approaching end of the week.

“Activities to Make Reading Fun,” by Kathy Stemke – having fun with language is the key to unlocking the world of reading to your child.

“Too Much Trouble,” by Juliana M. Jones and illustrated by Nancy Miller – the growing responsibility of getting older.
“Maid for Make Believe,” by Caroline Yu and illustrated by Clara Batton Smith – the magic of pretend brings to friends closer together.

“Read Aloud Tips for Preschoolers: Put Some Pizzazz in Reading Aloud,” by Dorit Sasson – how to connect to the story by acting it out.

“Encouraging Your Reader,” by Vanessa Fortenberry – tips on how to encourage and instill the love of reading.

Visit Guardian Angel Kid today and and enjoy a child safe and ad free Ezine.

We also invite you to stay connected with Guardian Angel Kids through our Facebook Fan Page

Please feel free to drop Editor-in-Chief, Donna McDine an email at and let them know what you think of Guardian Angel Kids and what you'd like to see in the future. They aim to please.