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What I Learned This Week – 3/20/16

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This week I learned that GOOD CHARLOTTE is coming out with a new album!

The Good Charlotte boys, back in the day.

The Good Charlotte boys, back in the day.

Have I ever told you the long story about my Good Charlotte obsession? Well, it’s long and will have to wait for another day. Suffice to say, they are my boys! More specifically, the Maddens who, even though they bulked up, I still love.

I have all their previous albums. The still-untitled new album will be out this summer. This is great to hear, but, um, could you be more specific? Why not wait to announce it until you have a title or a date? That would be like me saying, “Hey, I have a new book coming out Fall of 2016. It is similar to my previous writing, but also new and different.”

Well, they got me to write about them, didn’t they? ❤ Those boys. I think I have seen them in concert at least four times.

This week I was looking for an item that is very special to me and that I thought would help inspire me while writing my latest book.

Of course, I couldn’t find said trinket (Jack Sparrow’s voice says that in my head), but I did find a collection of bookmarks I have had for 30 years. I’m sure for other people bookmarks come and bookmarks go. But to me these are special, especially an Amelia Bedelia one and one from my local library.



I think I was in 4th grade when a real live author, Peggy Parish, came to our school and talked to us. I had never heard of her and I didn’t read her Amelia Bedelia books. But she was maybe the first celebrity encounter I ever had. (For more, please check out my page When Stars Align. You will find GOOD CHARLOTTE there.) It didn’t matter that I wasn’t her fan. I was a fan of what she did. SHE WROTE BOOKS. Words she wrote were in libraries all across the country (I was kind of clueless about bookstores back then. That would change in time as well.) with numbers on the pages, bound inside of covers with pictures on them, printed by some publishing house.

It is not a memory that I regularly revisit, but maybe it placed the notation into my head somewhere that it was a possibility for a career someday.

Speaking of possible careers, the bookmark from the local library was the winner in a bookmark contest many years ago. I kept it all these years because it was created by my asbestos friend! She has a book coming out September 2016 (the cover is featured below). Obviously she took the sentiment from her bookmark to heart: books can brighten your life. At a young age it also must have been imprinted into her that writing was a worthy pursuit.

I surmised (correctly, as it turns out) that my asbestos friend no longer possessed a copy of the bookmark herself. I decided to frame it, so that it would survived the coming years better than the previous ones. I decided to add a few of her other writing achievements into it as well. I think it turned out nice. She seemed happy with it, even hanging it on the wall. Now even if she doesn’t like it, she will have to hang it back on the wall every time I come over so my feelings aren’t hurt. Ha. (I think…)

The Evolution of E.A. Comiskey's writing life

The Evolution of E.A. Comiskey’s writing life

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It CLICK HERE TO WIN!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

What I Learned This Week – 10/19/14

Yesterday I attended ConTroll YA Under the Bridge, a Young Adult Literacy Conference.  The best thing about it?

It was held in ADRIAN!  Where I live!  Nothing cool ever comes to Adrian.

I was sooo happy that I didn’t have to drive to Ann Arbor or Toledo, or even Detroit to attend such an event.

Some sweet stuff I picked up at ConTroll YA

Some sweet stuff I picked up at ConTroll YA

The worst thing about it?


“Con” apparently stands for conference.  The “Troll” and “Under The Bridge” parts apparently just have to do with that we are in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, hence, UNDER the Mackinac Bridge.  But, that is like 300 miles away.

Still confused?  It was a conference that brought eight Young Adult authors, both contemporary and fantasy, to the Adrian Public Library for panel discussions, a workshop, and a book signing.

This was the first year for this event.  It was evident, but everything seemed to run smoothly and I learned a lot.

I was kind of bummed that what was touted as a “Writing Workshop” turned out to be more of a workshop on traditional publishing.  This would have been very informative for my asbestos friend, who wishes to take that route.  Unfortunately, she did not attend.  I would have preferred a workshop on the actual writing process, or self publishing.  I learned about traditional publishing from the Ann Arbor District Library Emerging Writers Workshops that I attended, and from the 12 years I worked at the Borders corporate office.  Granted, Borders mostly taught me about the end of the writing process, where your book is published, reviewed by buyers, ordered, allocated, replenished, marked Out of Print, and returned.  That past knowledge was enough to convince me that traditional publishing is not for me.  And the information I received yesterday strengthened that fact.

There was one self published author there yesterday, Eric Priuska author of “The Fireball Rebellion”.  He offered up that he loved all the control he had with self publishing, but that the downfalls are that you have to do absolutely EVERYTHING yourself.  Ya, I kinda figured that.

Great tips from ConTroll YA:

– An outline should act as your story’s GPS, and that it is more important to know what your plot points will FEEL like, more so than what actually might happen.

– All writers are narcissistic to believe other people will want to read what you created, and also an insecure mess.

– To market your book, you must be PRESENT, as in you can’t be obnoxious, but you also cannot be a wallflower.

– You have to keep real yourself, and your author self separate.

– An agent only gets paid when they get you a publishing deal.  Don’t pay one out of your pocket.

– Don’t let in people who are not going to be supportive of your writing.  (Guess who?)

– Every scene should have conflict & every scene should be moving the story forward.

– For every character, you should build a history, then know what they want and what they are willing to do to get it.

Every change I thought up to make to my novel while I was at the conference, I had talked myself out of again by the time I got home.

For the first year, I think it went great.  I would definitely go back again next year.  The room wasn’t full, but there were enough people that with two entries, I couldn’t win a door prize.  And, as I sat in the seats listening to the authors in their panel discussions, I dreamed that maybe I would be up there next year discussing my YA book I am working on, The Wind Could Blow a Bug.

Books of the Authors who participated.  Thanks!

Books of the Authors who participated. Thanks!

Below are the authors who participated.  I have added the links to their home pages as well.  Please support them.  I did.

K.A. Barson – 45 Pounds (More or Less)

Eric Priuska – The Fireball Rebellion

Kate Bassett – Words & Their Meanings

Bethany Neal – My Last Kiss

Aimee Carter – The Goddess Test

Courtney Allison Moulton – Angelfire

Leah Cliffored – A Touch Mortal

Scott Tracey – Witch Eyes

I also learned this week that Jack Link’s Sweet & Hot Jerky and Planters Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Almonds are a great compliment to one another.

Love of Twilight, Part 1 – The Books

Due to the impending release of Breaking Dawn-Part 2 (and the end of a Twilight era), this is the first of three posts about my love of Twilight. This post focuses on the books.

I was supposed to have lunch with a former co-worker. It was September of 2007. She was excited that a book called Eclipse was coming out. It was by a chick named Stephenie Meyer. I had never heard of it or the author. My friend told me I must read the first book, Twilight.

The next day when we had lunch, she loaned me her copy of Twilight. I was magnetically drawn to it somehow. I got stuck in a construction zone on the way home, one notorious for a long wait. I knew from the back cover of Twilight that the girl falls in love with a vampire. (Thanks publishers, for spoiling the first 150 pages of the book.) I thought I would just look at the first few sentences while I sat in traffic. I think I read the first ten pages while crawling along at two miles per hour. (I know, bad me.) I was hooked.

When I got home I devoured the whole book. Within the week I would go to my local Waldenbooks (which of course no longer exists), and purchase the next two books, New Moon and Eclipse. I would finish reading them in the same week. I had never been so drawn into a book series before, except for Fearless.

Reading about Bella lusting after Edward across the lunch room was similar to my high school experience. I sat at the very far corner of the lunchroom from the boy that I thought was simply the dreamiest, but that had no idea I existed. The thought of if that boy had actually come up and talked to me, if he had driven me home too fast in his car. Agh! It left me twitter-pated.

I didn’t know who Edward or Bella were a week earlier. Now they had come to be my whole world. When I finished the three books, I started over again. Instead of my usual walk outdoors, I would hide in my car on my breaks at work to read it. I went a step further. I bought Twilight on audio book so that I could listen to it as I drove. (with a two hour daily commute, I got some good use out of those CDs.) I went from “never heard of it” to crazy obsessed overnight.

I have always considered myself Team Edward. In the books, Jacob is like the annoying younger brother I am glad I never had. But really thinking about it, I am too sensible a person. I hate change. If I were Bella, I would not be Team Edward or Team Jacob. I would be Team Mike Newton. Yup. Give me the normal human boy any day. At least you know what to expect with him. A little hand holding at the movies. Getting lucky after the prom. And Mike doesn’t have to worry about any super-human strength killing you at a climactic moment (Wait, did this post just turn into 50 Shades of Newton? I smell fan-fiction!).

Bella is so quick to assume that Jacob’s father, Billy Black, was never a werewolf. But what if he was? We never do hear how he ended up in a wheelchair. Freak shape-shifting accident, maybe? There would have been no Dr. Cullen around to re-break and set his bones if they had healed wrong after a bloodsucker incident. Even in a dream, Bella sees a wolf version of Billy Black:

“Rosalie, her hair swinging wet and golden down to the back of her knees, was lunging at an enormous wolf – it’s muzzle shot through with silver – that I instinctively recognized as Billy Black.”
– Eclipse (Little, Brown and Co., Hachette, 2007

I know some people aren’t Twilight people. But I was always drawn to young adult books anyway, especially about girls coming of age. And I realize that Stephenie Meyer isn’t a top-notch writer. That was part of it’s charm. It was like reading my asbestos friend’s writing in high school. (Except there were no hockey players. Hmmm…That could be that the Twi-universe is missing.) Meyer’s writing just felt comfortable to me in a way that I loved. I also loved that she came up with her characters and a whole chapter of Twilight (Chapter 13. Confessions) from a dream, as my dreams have given me many unfinished novel ideas.

I have read that fans have asked Stephenie Meyer how it affects Edward when Bella has her time of the month. (Ya, ew.) Stephenie answers that it is “dead” blood and Edward isn’t interested in it. A related, but different, question that always drives me nuts: Q. If the sight and smell of a drop of blood (in Science class) makes Bella faint, what the heck does she do for one week out of every month? Does Charlie have to scrape her up off the bathroom floor every time she has to change her feminine hygiene product and loses consciousness? What if an aversion to blood is her strongest strait that she carries with her into her new life as a vampire? She would end up an anorexic vampire.

When the fourth and final book, Breaking Dawn, was due out, the publisher started putting the first chapter at the end of Eclipse books. I stood at Walmart and read the whole first chapter while standing in front of their book section, so that I wouldn’t have to re-buy Eclipse. (And all I learned was that Edward sabotaged Bella’s beloved truck and Charlie didn’t shoot him.)

I decided to be one of those dorks who goes to the bookstore to buy Breaking Dawn at midnight the day it goes on sale. I had fun. And I went home and stayed up late reading it. I took a little nap. In the morning my husband asked me to go to the campground with him. And he was actually surprised that I turned him down in order to stay at home and read all day. Which I guess I deserved. It was probably the only time in my entire life that happened.

(Spoiler Alert: But if you haven’t read it by now, come on, you aren’t going to.) Throughout all the books I was eager, as Bella is, for her to become a vampire. It always seemed the inevitable end. That was almost the case in Twilight. After all, James did bite her. But, as a reader, I am very glad she was not turned until the final book. Because as soon as Bella becomes a vampire, I could no longer relate to her. I know it sounds crazy, but that is how deep her change affected me. Before she was clumsy Bella. Plain Bella. Worried Bella. Reckless Bella. In love Bella. Once she becomes a vampire, it was suddenly the same as reading about Frankenstein or Swamp Thing (Wolfman and Dracula were already taken.).

It ended alright. Probably the only way it could, with a happy ending. I am so glad we finally found out why Bella was immune to Edward’s abilities, and that she put her own new-found abilities to good use. I am also so glad that Charlie got to at least be clued in to a little of the supernatural that has been going on around him, right under his law enforcement nose. I also liked that he got some action.

Come back on Monday to read Love of Twilight, Part 2 – The Movies.

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Imagination Library

Some of the Imagination Library books we have received so far

Did you know that if you live in the United States and have a young child, your child may be able to receive a brand spankin’ new book every month until they turn 5? Absolutely FREE! Just go to to see if your community participates in the Imagination Library. And whose brain-child was this wonderful project? Why none other than the buxom bombshell herself, Dolly Parton.

I first heard about the Imagination Library while watching the wonderful (now defunct) webcast, Live. Reggie Aqui interviewed Dolly Parton (and dueted to “Islands in the Stream”). Dolly talked about this program she created to get age-appropriate books into the hands of pre-school children. She has always loved children, even though she has none of her own. But through this program, all kids are sort of her kids.

The first time I heard about Imagination Library, I looked at the website and I don’t think our county participated. The second time I heard about it, I told my sister-in-law so she could sign up my niece (my poor nephew was already too old). And then I completely forgot about it.

Everyone’s first book

Just before I had my son, my sister-in-law told me about the program and suggested I sign up. My son has been getting a book a month since shortly after he was born. Some are better than others. Everyone starts with The Little Engine That Could. This comes in handy because one of the few things my son says is “toot-toot”.

The letter that comes inside The Little Engine That Could (I think it is beautiful)

He also really likes one called All of Baby Nose to Toes. We point at the parts of the body as we read it. I think he might be catching on. He likes ABC Look at Me, because it shows other babies facial expressions. He also likes One Foot Two Feet An Exceptional Counting Book, because the pages have a square cut out, like little windows. He thinks that is neat.

All of Baby Nose to Toes

I kept a few books from my own childhood and I worked for a bookstore (although however briefly after my son arrived), so we are probably not quite as needy as some families. But my son does enjoy books. I think daddy is more excited when a new book comes in the mail than my son is. I love that it has the child’s name on the mailing label, so it comes right to him. Some of the earlier books we got were hardcover, but now it seems like they are all softcover. Must be the rising cost of postage is getting the better of them. What I find ironic is that they are shipping books to kids, addressed to kids, wrapped in plastic wrap with a warning that says “Warning! Plastic bags can be dangerous. To avoid danger of suffocation, keep this bag away from babies and children.”

One Foot Two Feet An Exceptional Counting Book

The program is sponsored in part by the Dollywood Foundation, in partnership with local sponsors who cover the cost of books and postage. This all seems like some sort of fabulous secret. I mean, there are never any public service announcements promoting it. Dolly mentions it in interviews, but I don’t think I have ever seen it mentioned on her Facebook page. I have been to my local WIC office . They don’t have any signs or brochures about the program. But it isn’t really being kept quiet, either.

Last winter, our local mall had a community day, which included some organizations for kids and literacy. There was a booth of people asking everyone if they knew about the “Imagination Library” and signing them up if they had not.

So tell your family and friends to look into the fabulous program. When your kid out grows the books, pass them on. Send people the website link ( Feel free to pass on this post, since it contains boundless amounts of information and the link. If anyone knows Dolly Parton, pass along my thanks and appreciation to her. And let her know that I would love to meet her;)

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