February 24, 2010

2009 Agatha Award-Nominated Mystery Short Stories

The 2009 Agatha award nominees for best short story were recently announced, and the stories can now be read online. The awards for best mysteries and short stories a la Agatha Christie are awarded at the annual Malice Domestic Mystery Convention, to be held April 30-May 2 in Arlington, Va.

Agatha Award Nominees - Best Short Story:

“Femme Sole” by Dana Cameron, Boston Noir (Akashic Books)

“Handbaskets, Drawers and a Killer Cold” by Kaye George, Crooked ezine

“The Worst Noel” by Barb Goffman, The Gift of Murder (Wolfmont Press)

“On the House” by Hank Phillippi Ryan, Quarry (Level Best Books)

"Death Will Trim Your Tree” by Elizabeth Zelvin, The Gift of Murder (Wolfmont Press)

February 22, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Ah, Spring flowers (almost!)

Spring is coming! Really! I heard cardinals singing. Just waiting for the red-winged blackbirds to return.

So I made some flowers... I punched these - the plant has 3 layers of petals and faux flora leaves in a painted wood paint with moss.

** KITS: Kits are available for $6 with $2 shipping. Choose red, yellow, mixed, or pink. Includes all materials for three flowers (plus a few extras in case you mess up) and unpainted pot.

(I'll try to get new pix of the yellow flowers as the definition doesn't want to show up.)

February 19, 2010

Are you Ready to be Published? Writing Advice from Jennifer Stanley, author of Stirring Up Strife

Are You Really Ready to be Published?

By Jennifer Stanley

You can feel it. Your book is done. You’ve worked on it for months, for years. It’s been all you’ve thought about for ages and now it’s finished.

Your baby. Your hopes and dreams printed out on crisp, white paper.

Now what?

It’s time for an initial test.

Test Question One: Have you taken your punches?

In other words, has your book been critiqued by a group of honest, educated peers? Not your mother, your spouse, or your best friend, but fellow writers.

Have you heard and responded to both praise and criticism?

Have you gone back and examined portions of your writing because a member of your critique group made a solid recommendation?

Have you struggled, yes, struggled, over points raised by others?

Answer: If you haven’t exposed your book to several rounds of constructive criticism, you’re not ready.

Test Question Two: Have you edited your book at least three times?

Once is not enough. It is sometimes helpful to take a break between rounds of editing, but you will find new areas to tweak each time. Be patient. Hone your writing. Get that manuscript polished until it glows in the dark.

Answer: Edit, edit, edit.

Test Question Three: Have you done your homework?

In other words, you know into which genre your book falls; you’ve abided by the general word count rule (approximately 80,000 words for fiction – more for sci-fi and fantasy); you’re emotionally prepared to be rejected by multiple agents and publishers and will not throw yourself off a bridge.

Answer: If you’re done all the above, you’re ready! It’s going to be a tough road, but if you can write an entire book, you can make it!

Feel free to post questions and I’ll do my best to provide intelligent, helpful answers!

Jennifer (J.B. Stanley) is the author of two mystery series (the Supper Club mysteries and the Hope Street Church mysteries). Her third series will debut this summer.

** Jennifer, thanks for the constructive, and timely, advice. A few possible questions:
What things do you look for in subsequent edits?

Do you remember what were your first editing pitfalls that you overcame in later books?

What do you find to be the hardest point of editing?

What are the main things you advise writers to search for in their manuscript that can be easily overlooked?

February 18, 2010

Talking about Miniatures, Writing and Olympics, oh my!

I'm all over the place today like... well, never mind. ha!

I'm sharing a few comments about writing and miniatures - is there a connection? - at the Cozy Chicks blog. Stop by and say hello! Thanks for hosting me, Jennifer.

And I'm talking about Olympian chocolate and other kinds at Fatal Foodies.

Speaking of food... I thought these pix would be included too at my blog stop so I'm sharing them here. The fast food items are in my collection from a swap some years back. Hungry yet?

** Be sure to stop back tomorrow for a few thoughts on agent hunting and other writing advice from Jennifer Stanley, author of Stirring Up Strife, A Hope Street Church Mystery.

February 15, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Greenhouse Front

I finished the front of the Witch's Greenhouse so thought I'd share a photo. I added a front mat from that snakey print fabric and put some of the inner wallpaper on the door panels. There are green hanging beads in both windows. I like the flower emblem on top; the shop has more of a hippie feel to me, doesn't it?

Well sharp eyes will see that I haven't added one thing yet - the doorknobs! Had to look for them! haa!

February 13, 2010

Pink Saturday: Happy Valentine's Day!

Welcome to another Pink Saturday hosted by Beverly at How Sweet the Sound.

I also stopped by Marina's blog, Only Cute Things. Marina, who blogs from Argentina, had a fantastic post on Friday of some fascinating buildings. (And being into dollhouses, I love looking at architecture, especially the older brick and stone photos she posted.) Hi, Marina!

We're celebrating from the heart this week and what better symbolizes Valentine's Day than a yummy box of chocolates?

Doll artist Christa Chayata summed up the best part of the holiday with her new miniature doll named Ann. Christa says she'd already made the chocolates, so why not have someone like a cute little girl holding them?

Good idea, right? She's darling! See more of Christa's work (and a fantastic closeup of those chocolates!) at her blog.

February 11, 2010

Snow Snow Snow!

Tons of it. Sigh. Here's a use for it - how about snow ice cream?
See recipes and a video at Fatal Foodies. Let me know if you try it. :>)

February 08, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Congratulations to Anna Hardman for Doll of the Year Award!

Doll maker and IGMA Artisan Anna Hardman can add another title to describe her amazing, hand-sculpted miniature dolls - award-winning!

Anna's wonderful miniature porcelain bride, Livia, made from her own original mold, was named a 2010 Doll of the Year Industry Choice Winner from Doll Reader Magazine.

Doll Reader Announces 2010 DOTY Industry's Choice Winners

Artist Miniature Doll
• Tiny Wonder, by Claire Taylor Dolls
• Livia - Victorian Bride, Anna Hardman
• Elle, by Laura Tuzio-Ross
• Little Darling “Joy of Life,” by Gabriele Mueller, Gaby-Dolls
• Chocolate Bunny Surprise, by Goodreau Doll

Anna, who sculpts many of her own dolls, says this doll is special as it was named for her grandmother, Livia, a rare name in Russian. Sadly, Anna says the week she finished the doll she'd found out that her grandmother, whom she called Babushka Livia, had passed away in Ukraine. But she feels her grandmother "must have been watching over me or something."

Anna decided to dress the 5 1/2" tall doll in late Victorian style, deciding to go "the less the better. I didn't want to lavish her with flowers and gems and ruffles. She portrays youth, beauty and sadness. No Victorian woman was very happy to get married then."

Congratulations, Anna! The recognition is well-deserved! Be sure to check out her other amazing dolls, too.

February 06, 2010

Pink Miniatures for Pink Saturday: An early Valentine

Getting a late start today for Pink Saturday at Beverly's blog, How Sweet the Sound.

I also stopped by Jeanne's blog at Back Yard Neighbor - she's showing some great vintage Valentine's today. I love those!

Seeing so many beautiful pink cakes and mini goodies lately on The Mini Food blog got me in the mood to create a Valentine's scene.

I had this table and several cakes, so decorated a few more and made some mini magazines which was fun. Hadn't done these in awhile. But there are some great covers out there! (I added the pic with the penny so the non-miniaturists can get an idea of size.)

I included a couple of the cover pix already shrunk down for you to use. Just add your own back cover. These magazines have a slight edge so leave about 1/16" of white space in the center.

Megan's Miniatures has some great modern magazines to print, too.

** Be sure to come back for Miniatures Monday and see an amazing original - an award-winner, too!

February 05, 2010

Is it Real or Miniature? Photo Scenes

These are some of the most fantastic photos I've seen. Check out these
amazing scenes. Look at the cars! These are incredible 1:24th scale models. These are the kinds of photos you can look at again and again. These are the best I've ever seen.

February 04, 2010

A Good Laugh Today at Fatal Foodies

Sharing a good laugh today with two famous women at Fatal Foodies. It's a good one! And we all need that once in a while right?

February 03, 2010

First Graphs: Children's book, The Secret of the Bradford House by Albert Bell Jr.

Welcome to Albert A. Bell, Jr., author of THE SECRET OF THE BRADFORD HOUSE (Ingalls Publishing Group, April 2010), the sequel to the award-winning SECRET OF THE LONELY GRAVE.

In The Secret of the Bradford House, friends Steve and Kendra find a new neighbor-and a new mystery.

What is that light in the attic window of the spooky old Bradford House? Could it be a ghost? Hidden stairways and secrets from World War I draw the friends into investigating the mysteries of this small town in Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes... what they find is beyond any of their imaginings.

The spooky old Bradford House at the top of the hill has loomed over Steve Patterson and Kendra Jordan's neighborhood for years. But not until a new neighbor, 11-year-old Rachel Mendoza, notices an eerie light in an attic window does the question arise: Is there a ghost in the house?

While they try to answer that question, Steve and Kendra have to deal with the tension caused by the presence of a "new kid" in the neighborhood, one who seems to have a more than casual interest in Steve. Steve is also reconnecting with his divorced father and learning how difficult that process can be.


“Okay, ten more serves from each side and you’re done.”

When Kendra and I heard the tennis pro at Barkley Lodge say that, we knew the lesson before hers was almost over. That was always the last thing he made his students do. We stopped in the shade of a big maple tree beside the tennis courts, where her mother had dropped us off. Kendra put down the bag with her rackets and other equipment in it. I had brought along a book my dad sent me and a folding chair.

The pro held up one hand and waggled the fingers to us. “Hey, Kendra. Good morning, Steve. Five minutes.”

He spells his name Rolfe and, for the tourists, pronounces it like a dog barking, but everybody around here knows he’s actually just Ralph from over in Paducah. He must be a pretty good tennis instructor, though, considering how good a player Kendra is becoming.

Today Rolfe was working with a dark-haired girl. She was wearing white shorts and a green t-shirt with a school name on it. I guessed she was my age.

“Boy, she’s booming those serves like she’s mad at somebody.” Kendra put her arm up against the tall wire fence surrounding the court and leaned her forehead on it.

** Get information at the author's website. Sample chapter to come!

** A Buy link will be added when the book goes up on Amazon.com

** Review:

Even if I hadn't received an ARC of this book, I'd still have to say I loved it! Kendra and Steve are fun kids to get to know, with a natural curiosity that makes their investigating a perfect extension of their personalities. The book offers an interesting historical tie-in and information that makes the past real and more than just dry facts. I have to admit that I even learned something I didn't know! Boys and girls both will enjoy reading the book.

February 02, 2010

Welcome to Melissa M. Williams, author of children's book, Iggy the Iguana

Today we welcome Melissa M. Williams, author of IGGY THE IGUANA. Oh, and we welcome Iggy, too, who seems to have a lot to say. (Take that insurance company lizard!)

IGGY THE IGUANA is the first book in the Iggy chapter book series for ages 7 to 11. The story focuses on the major themes of acceptance, friendship, and diversity as Iggy goes from a private "all-lizard" school to a public "all-animal" school.

Iggy soon accepts that just because other animals are different doesn't mean they can't be your friends. By the end of fourth grade, Iggy realizes that changing schools was the best move he ever made.

Who is Iggy? Let Him Tell You…

Well, before I became a cartoon character in the Iggy the Iguana series, I was a real, live three-foot green Iguana living in Houston, TX back in the 1990's.

I think the author liked to pretend I was human, because she used to dress me up in clothes, send me to school, and I even slept in her bed. Yes, I was basically human in her eyes, so eventually she turned me and my friends into cartoon characters.

In Iggy the Iguana, I get to experience most everything real kids my age do in elementary school. As I change to a new school, I show the kids that it's okay when life changes and you move to a new environment. I made all kinds of new animal friends—one of them, Liz the Lizard, even became my secret crush! Kids love when they can relate to the life of a lizard!

So, Iggy, what else do you like to do?

Definitely baseball! Ever since I was a little lizard my dad would play catch with me in the back yard after dinner. He is a professional marathon runner, so being healthy and active is a big deal in my family. I've been in Little League ever since I was five. My favorite pastime would definitely be the time my dad took me to Chicago to see the Cubs play at Wrigley Field.

What do you want readers to learn?

Acceptance. I learned that just because I'm a reptile—or green—or not like the other animals at my new school doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me. We are all different, and our differences make us cool! I learned so much about other animals when I became friends with a box shell turtle (Surfer Dude), a silly cat, a bullfrog from the Bronx, and a mouse from Spain. Since I accept others who are not like me, I actually accept myself more, too!

What else do you want readers to know?

I'll let Snap Shell, my best turtle friend, take this one…

Well, dude, I want readers to understand that even if we go through difficult situations in our lives, it doesn't mean we can't learn from those experiences and become better animals. We all have a purpose in life, and later we can help others who may go through something difficult.

Iggy, share a favorite phrase in the book.

I like Snap Shell's comment, "I'm Land Only, Dude!"

When I asked Snap Shell, why he couldn't swim, Snap had to explain to me that not all turtles are swimmers. Snap's not a sea turtle and doesn't have webbed feet, I learned much to my surprise.

What is the lesson of the story?

First impressions are not always correct. Don't be too quick to judge others on the outside. We all have a story.

About the author:

Melissa M. Williams is an advocate for literacy and creativity in children. Her children’s chapter books were inspired by real life experiences with childhood pets she owned while growing up in Houston, Texas.

While finishing her Master’s degree in Professional Counseling, Melissa started substitute teaching in elementary schools to understand the daily life of her young audience.

She now enjoys speaking to students about her own journey as an author and the process of creative writing, while encouraging them to be creative thinkers and write their own stories.

Win Cool Iggy Stuff!

Win the newly released items in the Iggy Collection: Snap Shell the Turtle plush doll, Iggy collector's baseball cards, and the Read3Zero T-Shirt supporting the fight against illiteracy 30 minutes at a time.

** To win the Iggy collection, be the most active visitor during the tour. See tour schedule.

** Buy:

February 01, 2010

Miniatures Monday: Kitty's New Ladies' Shop

I had to share a couple photos of my friend Kitty's latest project, a Ladies' Shop. The project is in an Ikea miniature greenhouse. (I used the greenhouse for my tropical room, which I'll have to share here yet. They do have a lot of room inside.)

* See more of Kitty's minis at Minis by Kitty blog.