Welcome My Guest, Kevin McNamee

Kevin McNamee is a writer and poet living in Yonkers, NY.   He primarily writes for the children’s market.  His work has appeared in Beyond Centauri and he has several children’s picture books being published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.  His first book, “If I Could Be Anything” is available at www.amazon.com, or ask your local bookstore.  Look for other titles by Kevin including The Sister Exchange, The Soggy Town of Hilltop, Lightning Strikes, Papa’s Suns, and more.

Thanks for being my first guest of the New Year, Kevin. I’m sure everyone would like to know more about you and your life as a writer.

  1. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a “real” writer?

Somewhere along the way, I stopped doubting my ability.  A rejection of my manuscript ceased to be a rejection of myself.  A rejection letter became an opportunity to send my manuscript somewhere else.  Comments and criticism became opportunities to strengthen my story, revise something unworkable, or something to ignore altogether if it didn’t fit with my vision of the story.  I was able to refer to myself as a writer without feeling self conscious and … oh yeah, someone was willing to pay me for what I wrote.

Tell us about how you got started writing.

I first started writing in the second grade.  I wrote a poem that was displayed outside the classroom and I liked seeing my poem and my name in public like that.  I found that I took to writing naturally.  Growing up, I was a constant daydreamer and would construct stories in my head all the time.  Eventually, I started writing them down.  Throughout my teenage years and throughout adulthood I always felt compelled to write.  Although there were many, many times that I put creative writing on the back burner, I found that I was still writing at my day job; memos, procedures, proposals, requests, and I was receiving recognition for it.  I realized that writing had been a constant in my life, but I wasn’t writing what I wanted to write.  Now I make sure that I write what I want as well.

Tell us about your childrens book, If I Could be Anything.   

Print ISBN: 978-1-61633- 011-8; 1-61633-011- 2
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61633- 012-5; 1-61633-012- 0

If I could be anything, what would I be?

I think that eventually I would be me.

A boy pretends to be different animals in this warm, rhyming, picture book. In the end, he chooses to be exactly as he is. Love is the anchor that draws him home.

What are you currently working on?

Right now, I have several stories in various stages of completion, one story that has been finalized and critiqued and needs a final revision, and a few that are finished and have been sent out to various publishers.

This book is available from guardianangelpublishing.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or ask your local bookstore.

We look forward to seeing more of your books. How can someone find out more about you and your books?

To find out more about me, please visit my website at www.kevinmcnamee.com or my blog at www.kevinmcnameechildrensauthor.blogspot.com I also have a new child-friendly site with games and activities at www.kevschildrensbooks.com


Welcome to Heidi M. Thomas to start Celebrating the VBT-Writers on the Move Anniversary Month

Welcome to the first day of a month long celebration for the one year anniversary of VBT – Writers on the Move. We are a cross promoting group of writers.

I’m really excited to have Heidi M. Thomas with me today. She is from Montana, the Big Sky Country but now lives in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Raised on a rach in isolated eastern Montana, Heidi Thomas had a love of reading and writing since she was a little girl.

Heidi, tell us a little about yourself.

A tidbit of family history, that her grandmother rode steers in rodeos during the 1920s, spurred Heidi to write a novel based on that grandmother’s life.
Cowgirl Dreams is the first in a series about strong, independent Montana Women.
Heidi is a member of Women Writing the West, Skagit Valley Writers League, Skagit Women in Business, and the Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She is an avid reader of all kinds of books, enjoys hiking the Pacific Northwest, where she writes, edits, and teaches memoir and fiction writing classes.

Married to Dave Thomas (not of Wendy’s fame), Heidi has no children, but as the “human” for two finicky felines, describes herself primarily as a “cat herder.”

You have a great book that I know I’m anxious to read. Tell us about Cowgirl Dreams.

Defying family and social pressure, Nettie Brady bucks 1920s convention with her dream of becoming a rodeo star. That means competing with men, and cowgirls who ride the rodeo circuit are considered “loose women.” Addicted to the thrill of pitting her strength and wits against a half-ton steer in a rodeo, Nettie exchanges skirts for pants, rides with her brothers on their Montana ranch, and competes in neighborhood rodeos. 

Broken bones, killer influenza, flash floods, and family hardship team up to keep Nettie from her dreams. Then she meets a young neighbor cowboy who rides broncs and raises rodeo stock. Will this be Nettie’s ticket to freedom and happiness? Will her rodeo dreams come true?

Based on the life of the author’s grandmother, a real Montana cowgirl.
Cowgirl Dreams is available from the publisher, Treble Heart Books, Amazon.com or the author website. It is suitable for both adult and young adult readers.

Do you think we could share some of what people are saying about Cowgirl Dreams?

Here are some of the reviews I’ve received.

Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna rated it: 5 of 5 stars

It is a wonderful YA (Young Adult) book! For the duration of the story you are completely immersed into the world of growing up in Montana in 1920s. Hard work on a family ranch, dreams that defy conventional wisdom, hard choices and, finally, success. Try becoming a rodeo star, when rodeo circuit is a man’s world and you are a teenage girl!
I appreciated author’s meticulous research. All the details of everyday life on a ranch, food, clothes, and people’s mindsets were so interesting…more It is a wonderful YA (Young Adult) book! For the duration of the story you are completely immersed into the world of growing up in Montana in 1920s. Hard work on a family ranch, dreams that defy conventional wisdom, hard choices and, finally, success. Try becoming a rodeo star, when rodeo circuit is a man’s world and you are a teenage girl!
I appreciated author’s meticulous research. All the details of everyday life on a ranch, food, clothes, and people’s mindsets were so interesting, true and well placed throughout the story; I could not help but admire it!
If you are a fan of “Little Women”, “Secret Garden”, “Little House on the Prairie” and “Ann of Green Gables”, take a note of this author, she is the one for you.
I would say the book is a great coming of age story with a lesson in history, lots of adventures, a touch of romance and a great lesson in perseverance. I am buying this one for my daughter.

From a male reader:

Heidi Thomas’s Cowgirl Dreams provided me with a delightfully engrossing pleasure: a “good read.” An added bonus was a bit of history detailing the hardships and delights of rural life in early twentieth century Montana and the expectations for women of the time. I approached the tale with a mixture of mild trepidation and hesitant curiosity, the twin themes not being typical fodder for my pleasure reading, and finished with the great satisfaction found in experiencing a well-told story. Nettie Brady’s adventure richly details a pair of transitions: a child growing into young adulthood and a women tackling roles previously claimed by the men of her times. This is a book for all ages, and I look forward to the possibility of reading further installments of Nettie’s life and times.

Peter Olson

Some girls claim they were born as horses and only later grew up to be western women. Heidi Thomas gives us one of those passionate, persistent young women in Nettie Brady, and she s based this sparkling and enduring character on her own grandmother s story. Cowgirl Dreams is a heart-warming read for all ages and lets us all know why Ms. Thomas is not only a fine editor of other author s books but shines as a skilled and compassionate writer herself. Jane Kirkpatrick, Award Winning author of A Sweetness to the Soul (Wrangler Award, 1995) and A Tendering in the Storm, winner of a WILLA Literary Award, 2008.	

Heidi has truly captured the heart of the early days of Montana. She brings to life Nettie and her dreams for the rodeo despite the opposition of a woman in an exclusive man’s arena. As I read this authors first novel it was a sweet reminder of the Jan Karon Mitford series. I look forward to reading the sequel in what appears to be a Montana series in the making! 
Stephanie Hooper

These are wonderful. I’m sure that you will capture your readers and they will be fans for life, Heidi. Thank you so much for being with me. I know we all look forward to getting to know you and your writing better. How can people purchase your book?

Thank you for having me, Dianne.

Cowgirl Dreams is available at:


Treble Heart Books



Poetry by our guest Harry Gilleland

I’m very excited to share an example of Harry Gilleland’s poetry. Enjoy!


Rhyming Storoem:

Let Her Be A Weed

A husband and wife stood together

looking out at their fenced backyard. “Our

daughter picked one rose after another…

one day she’ll be a delicate flower.”

So spoke her father. The wife then said,

“I hope she is more weed than flower,

since flowers are frail and too soon dead.

They need constant care, lacking power.

“But a weed…weeds are tough and sturdy.

They meet all life’s challenges head-on.

Sidewalk cracks for weeds offer worthy

places to grow, as well as a mown lawn.

“First to burst forth in Spring, last to die

before Winter, persistent year ‘round,

weeds thrive when flowers won’t even try.

Weeds have the strongest will-to-live found.

“I want her to be self-sufficient,

able to deal with life on her own.”

The father agreed, “A competent

woman our daughter must be when grown.

“Let her be less flower and more weed,

tough and strong-willed — but still with brightly-

colored, pretty blossoms — to succeed

in life, with her roots grounded tightly.”

Free Verse Poem:

My Yesterdays

My yesterdays

stretch out behind me

in a winding path that

disappears over the horizon

beyond my memory.

Some yesterdays were

red-letter days of triumph

and personal joy, days of

some momentous occasion

in my life. Others were black

days of pain and suffering.

Most were merely plain,

unremarkable days

of no particular note.

All have melded together

forming the memories

marking the passage

of my existence on Earth.

I treasure all my yesterdays

since each day was a brick

that contributed to building

the mosaic of my life.

My yesterdays carried me

up the long hill to today,

where I stand looking wistfully

back at them, my yesterdays…

knowing now my yesterdays

outnumber my tomorrows.

I’ve learned I should endeavor

to make each today become

a shining, glorious yesterday,

for my yesterdays are

how my life was spent.

I admire poets. I can write fiction and nonfiction, but poetry is something I’ve never been able to do very well. I enjoy reading it and am glad that people like you, Harry, can write it for the rest of us.

The following links will give our readers and friends a place to purchase this great collection and your other work. Thank you for being my guest.

Lulu Publishing


Barnes & Nobel


Welcome this week my guest Harry Gilleland

I have such a good time with my guests each month and this month I want you to meet Harry Gilleland.

Harry  is a southerner by birth and by inclination. Born and raised in Macon, Georgia, he now resides in Shreveport, Louisiana with his wonderful wife, Linda. Harry, who retired after a career as a Professor of Microbiology at LSU Health Sciences Center in Shreveport, now devotes himself full-time to his writing. He is a writer of both poetry and prose. He has published a fantasy novella, Bob the Dragon Slayer, and a contemporary romance novel, White Lightning Road. He has now authored three books of poetry.

Poetic Musings of an Old, Fat Man is the third published collection of poetry written by poet Harry E. Gilleland, Jr. This new collection of 81 storoems and poems will engage its readers by making them think about life and leaving them pondering their emotions and beliefs. It will also bring smiles and maybe a tear or two. Contained within this collection are forty-seven rhyming poems and “storoems”, a format coined by Gilleland. A storoem is a hybrid between a story and a poem, i.e. a story told with poetic techniques. The collection also contains twenty-eight free-verse poems, four acrostic poems, and two limericks. These writings are poetry for the thinking person, be he/she someone who is a poetry lover or someone who normally does not read poetry. This poetry is easily readable and accessible to all — poetry for the poet and the common man alike. A wide variety of subjects are addressed, including everyday life events, observations of nature, tales of fantasy, expressions of love, and much more. This wonderful collection will surprise and delight all readers.

Gilleland book cove

I hope you all will come back and visit on October 3rd. harry is a versatile writer able to write both prose and poetry and has developed this great cross between the two.

What a fun guest you are to have with me. Thanks for coming Harry.

You can contact Harry and learn more about him at hgilleland@gmail.com


Welcome back, Crystalee

You are such a fun guest. I love having you with me. You are such a fun and talented writer. We’re learning more about your book and about your relationship with jellybeans today. Let’s get started.

1. Did you have a vice like jellybeans as a child? If so what was it?

Oh, I think I still have that vice! haha. Chocolate. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate. If it contains chocolate I will eat it!

2.    If you could be any color jellybean, what color would you be?

Red! No, I like the red ones too much. I don’t want to be eaten. Black. Yeah, those nasty black ones. No one eats those, right?

3.    Do you like the different flavored jellybeans, like jelly belly or the harry potter ones?

I am in love with Jelly Belly jellybeans! No others compare.

4.    What is your food guilty pleasure?

Chocolate or cheese, definitely.

5.    If you had to eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I would say chocolate except I think that would make me sick. So I’m going with cheese. A nice variety of hard and soft cheeses.

6.    If you were written about in the newspaper, on the front page, what would the headline say?

Why, can you get me a headline on the front page? “Local woman completes MFA, debuts first children’s book in same week.” On second thought, that’s not exciting enough.

7.    If Hollywood were to make a movie of your life, what actress/actresses would you want to play you?

Julianne Moore. I’ve been told twice now that I look like her. *shrugs*

8.    If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
Sara Adkins, What is with the Hard Questions? or It All Happened Because of Pittsburgh

9.    Do you remember your favorite children’s book when you were a child?

I had many. I read everything I could get my hands on. But for most of my life I read nothing but the Baby-sitter’s Club books by Ann M. Martin.

10.    Do you like to be read to aloud? Do you think different things can be gained from reading to yourself and being read to?

Yes, definitely. Listening to someone read a picture book aloud is a multi-sensory experience. Characters can really come to life when a reader adds the right inflection to his or her voice. A good storytime involves the children as much as possible, gets them thinking or moving or discussing. Of course, there is always a place and time for curling up in a chair with a good book too.

Thank you for interviewing me. It’s been fun.

Book Synopsis

Angeline wants to eat nothing but jellybeans.  Year round, from Easter to Christmas, she asks for her favorite treat.  But a strange event teaches Angeline that there's such thing as too much of a good thing!
With colorful, delightful illustrations by Stephen Macquignon, Angeline is sure to win over hearts of young picky eaters everywhere.
Where to buy:
http://www.amazon.com  Search by title or author

Contact the author:


My Guest Author This Month is Crystalee Calderwood

I am delighted to have Crystalee Calderwood as my guest. She is another great, energized, busy, talented writer that I hope you’ll put on your list of favorites.

Crystalee, have you always wanted to be a writer? When did you get started?

I’ve been writing for almost as long as I can remember and reading for even longer. I remember writing some of my first short stories in first grade. I didn’t always want to be a writer; my career aspirations as a kid changed every five minutes. I didn’t really start thinking of writing as a feasible career until I was in grad school and started writing for children.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

That is a really hard question. I love almost everything about writing, from the moment when I come up with a cool concept, to making it come alive on the page, to revisiting it like visiting an old friend, for revisions. But my all time favorite thing about writing has to be that I know I’m creating worlds and characters that will someday come alive for the children who read my work.

What is the most challenging part of being a writer?

To me, the most challenging parts have to do with publishing: finding markets, sending out manuscripts, and then once your book is published, marketing and promoting it.
Who is your favorite author?

Another very hard question, since I rarely hate any authors and love different authors for different reasons. I rarely ever read adult novels, but I love picture book writers like Mo Willems, Karen Katz and Katherine Ayres (who I owe so much to). In YA novels, Lois Lowry, Jane Yolen and Sharon Flake come to mind.
What’s new that you’re working on right now?

I’m finishing up my very first full-length YA novel! (Hopefully, it will be finished by time your readers see this interview.) It is a modern YA novel set in Pittsburgh about a 17-year-old named Chelsea Anderson who must fulfill a volunteer requirement at school. She finds herself in the Hill District, a predominantly black area of Pittsburgh, tutoring kids at an after school program. The novel is about coming-of-age and breaking out of your comfort zone as much as it is about race. It is also based on some true events in my life, although my breaking out occurred when I was 24, not 17.
What are your goals for the rest of 2009?

Finish this YA novel! I also hope to revise the novel in verse I wrote for my thesis in grad school. And, of course, I’m still trying to get more things published: poetry, short stories, but especially picture books.

To find out more about Crystal and purchase her awesome book use these links:

The link to my blog is http://crystaleecalderwood.blogspot.com

You can buy my book Angeline Jellybean from Amazon.com or http://www.4rvpublishingllc.com/Store-Books.html


Meet Karen Cioffi

I am so glad to have Karen Cioffi as my guest today. She is a wonderful and dedicated lady. She is on of the two women in charge of our Virtual Book Tours – Writers on the Move each month. She shares the duties of keep all of us organized with Kathy Stemke. 

Karen Cioffi is a former accountant. Having to leave the accounting profession due to MS, she turned author and freelance writer.  Having to leave the accounting profession due to MS, she turned author and freelance writer.  She is the co-author of Day’s End Lullaby, a children bedtime picture book. Karen wrote the poem and music to the story over 30 years ago for her firstborn who didn’t like sleeping. 

 As a hardworking writer, Karen is on the team of DKV Writing 4 U which provides writing services, and she is the creator and manager of the Yahoo group Writers on the Move. This is a marketing group of authors who use a number of promotional strategies and tools to cross-promote. She is also the co- moderator of a children’s writing critique group. Along with this Karen is a member of SCBWI, Children’s Writing Coaching Club, The Muse Conference Board, Linkedin, JacketFlap, AuthorsDen, and Goodreads. And, she recently joined BookPleasures as a reviewer. 

Karen has a number of articles published through Ezinearticles.com and is currently revising a middle grade fantasy chapter book and working on a picture book along with writing articles for children’s magazines. Living in New York City all her life, Karen looks forward to one day moving to another state. She is married and has two grown daughters and two very young grandsons.  She spends much of each day writing, learning her craft, researching and reading, managing her groups, and following up on things.

Karen’s co-author, Robyn Feltman holds a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and Administration/Supervision. She is a fourth grade elementary public school teacher and is an initiator of environmental and humanitarian projects in her school; one of these projects is the Oambassador Program. Robyn continues to move forward in her academic career and recently completed her Superintendent certificate. She lives in New York City and has the cutest black cocker-spaniel, Luna. The authors have a number of projects in progress and ideas for many more. You can learn more about these authors at:



My Guest – Virginia S. Grenier – What a Talented Author and Editor

I am so delighted to have Virginia visiting my blog this week. She is a talented children’s author and the founder and editor-in-chief of Stories For Children Magazine (ezine). Her awards include: was voted one of the Top Ten Editors in the Preditors and Editors Reader Poll 2007 & 2008. Her works include the Best of Stories for Children Magazine Volume 1 anthology and over 30 short stories, articles, and crafts for children along with newsletter articles for writers. She also won second place for her article, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus” in the Preditors and Editors Reader Poll 2007 for Best Nonfiction of 2007 and won 7th place for her article, “Dinosaurs Tracks in My Backyard” in the Preditors and Editors Reader Poll 2008 for Best Nonfiction of 2008.

Wow! That is great, Virginia. How can people contact you.

I can be reached at: VSGrenier@storiesforchildrenmagazine.org and invite people to visit my website, too, at Children and Teen Author http://vsgrenier.com.

Virginia you are involved in Musing our Children. Can you tell us what this is and a little about it?


Musing Our Children is about sharing what we care about in the way of ideas and values with children. After all, one idea can change the world if everyone chooses to stand behind it. One idea can make our world a better place and enhance the lives of children everywhere! The goals of Musing Our Children: to reach around the globe visiting schools and to offer free handouts and information to everyone who would like to be involved in helping children and parents understand the value of reading and writing.

Each year during Reading and Writing Appreciation Week, Writers and Illustrators will be setting appointments to read and/or talk to students about what it means to be a writer or illustrator from the elementary to high school levels. This year it will be May 4th – 8th, 2009.

Thanks for being with me today, and I look forward to visiting with you again next Monday, May 4th.


Welcome my guest – Carolyn Howard Johnson

I’m very excited to have Carolyn with me this week as a part of the virtual book tour.

For a taste of what Carolyn writes, check out this list of her books. The are awesome resources for any and all level of writers.

For: The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t
ISBN: 193299310X       Star Publish    Awards: Winner USA Book News, Irwin Award  $17.95 but discounted at:: http://www.amazon.com/Frugal-Book-Promoter-What-Publisher/dp/193299310X/

For only a few cents a day The Frugal Book Promoter assures your book the best possible start in life. Full of nitty – gritty how – tos for getting nearly-free publicity, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an instructor for UCLA’s Writers’ Program, shares her professional experience as well as practical tips gleaned from the successes of her own book campaigns. She tells authors how to do what their publishers can’t or won’t and why authors can often do their own promotion better than a PR professional.

A recommendation from BarnesandNobel.com: Feather Schwartz Foster, an author, September 9, 2004,  

Packed With Wonderful Information!  For anyone who has written a book of any kind – this is a must-have, and must-keep guide! Every chapter is filled with insights and how-tos and a whole bunch of where to finds!

For: The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success
ISBN: 9780978515874.  Red Engine Press.  Awards: Winner USA Book News, Reader Views Literary Award, New Generation Marketing Award   $18.95        To Order:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978515870/ 

There are gremlins out there determined to keep your work from being published, your book from being promoted. They — resolved to embarrass you before the gatekeepers who can turn the key of success for you — lurk in your subconscious and the depths of your computer programs. Whether you are a new or experienced author, The Frugal Editor will help you present whistle-clean copy (whether it’s a one-page cover letter or your entire manuscript) to those who have the power to say “Yea” or “Nay.”

For: The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need To Know To Sell Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less
ISBN: B000YG6O5U      Publisher, Amazon  $0.49 (or 49c!)  To Order:   http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000YG6O5U/ref=cm_arms_pdp_dp  

The perfect learning experience for those who want to learn to wow an editor in no time flat and only 49 cents out-of-pocket!

Thanks for coming Carolyn. I hope everyone will come back on Friday to learn some more about you and your books.


Please help me welcome Margaret Fieland, guest writer

I want to welcome Margaret Fieland to my blog this week. Her friends call her Peggy.

She is a native New Yorker who has lived around art and culture her whole life, not only because she lived in one of the greatest cities for art, music, writers, theater, and museums, but because of the influences in her life.

I guess you’ve always loved music?

My father was a musician and I’ve enjoyed playing the flute and piccolo for years.

That’s great. I played the flute myself through school, but have always admired talented people like you who are accomplished players. Tell us about what you’re currently doing.

I moved from New York and live in the suburbs of Boston, MA. I write poetry, articles, and stories. Some of them have appeared in journals and anthologies, including Main Channel Voices, Echolocation, and Twisted Tongue. I’m currently working on a book.

Do you write full-time?

No, I really enjoy the time I spend writing, but I’m a computer software engineer.

I’m so glad to have you this week. I look forward to sharing more about you and your writing tomorrow – Tuesday, February 3.

Thanks, Dianne. I’ll bring a sample from my book “The Ugly Little Boy”.

You can learn more about this talented lady at her website http://www.margaretfieland.com