Book Giveaway – Bella’s Fall Coat

Here’s a perfect book for Fall!

Writing and Illustrating

Lynn Plourde has greed to do a book giveaway for her new book, BELLA’S FALL COAT. Susan Gal illustrated the book and was feature on Illustrator Saturday on Sept. 26th. All you have to do to get in the running for Lynn’s book giveaway is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back on October 26th to discover the winner.


Bella loves the sights and sounds of fall–the crinkle-crackle of fallen leaves, the crunch of crisp, red apples, the honking and flapping of migrating geese. She wants the season to last forever. She also wants her fall coat–the one her Grams made especially for…

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Great Fall Crafts For Kids From Pre K – Teens.

I’ve mentioned the awesome website Red Ted Art many times on this blog. The wealth and variety of craft information and ideas makes me visit it again and again.  And what better time for “crafting” than the fall season?  Take the kids on a NATURE WALK and collect leaves, pine cones, acorns and sticks, and you’ll have all the makings of some great crafts to decorate your home for the fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving season.

You’ll find plenty of things to do with LEAVES, ACORNS, PINE CONES, such as an adorable Pine cone Hedgehog.  Origami Bats will fly at Halloween, and Cork Penguins can hang around through winter.  Check out the site and have some family fun creating great fall crafts.

Vernick & Rhuday-Perkovich Present TWO NAOMIS + A Free Copy

I asked two of my favorite authors, Audrey Vernick & Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, to talk about their new MG book TWO NAOMIS, which was a first time collaboration for both.  Here they are.

How it All Began: by Audrey Vernick & Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

We met at a New Jersey SCBWI conference in New Jersey and became fast friends. A few years later we co-taught a humor workshop at another NJ SCBWI conference and Darlene was one of our wonderful students.

And now here we all are! We have co-authored a middle-grade novel! Two Naomis is out and we’re visiting Darlene’s blog to ask each other some weird questions and give away a signed copy of our book.      two-naomis-cover-402x600

What books that you read when you were of middle-grade age stayed with you the way memories of time spent with good friends do?

Olugbemisola: This is a hard one, because I read a lot of not-MG books when I was MG-age, especially in order to read as much as possible that featured Black characters. So the African Writers Series was one of my favorites in those days, but those books were meant for adults. I loved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings from 5th grade on. And I was remembering recently that when I was ten I thought Burr by Gore Vidal was one of the best books EVER. I need to read it again to see what I think now. In 6th grade, a friend introduced me to “Harlequin Presents” romances. I remember that she brought a huge trash bag full of them onto the school bus for me to take home; it felt so illicit. Then I read the Flowers in the Attic books for a while…But, between 2nd and 6th grades, a few MG favorites were…all of the Streatfeild Shoes books, Elizabeth Enright’s Melendy books, Black Folktales, A Wrinkle in Time, The Friends, The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harriet the Spy, Ramona and Her Father, Pride & Prejudice, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, David Copperfield, Jane Eyre.  Oh! I loved books by Norma Klein, Hila Colman, and Hilma Wolitzer…There were a lot more. I can’t really do this sort of thing, it’s too hard.

Audrey: I know I was a reader and a rereader, and yet I can’t think of more than a dozen books I read, which feels like heresy. Harriet the Spy, about a character who was fantastically imperfect. I loved the friendship between Victoria North and Marcia Sherman in Ursula Nordstrom’s The Secret Language. I think of many Judy Blume characters as people I kind of went to summer camp with–I knew lots of things about them and remember them fondly. The same with Paula Danziger’s The Cat Ate My Gymsuit. I loved Freaky Friday and A Billion for Boris and I wrote to Mary Rodgers to tell her and she sent me a letter back. The closest thing I had to a trash bag of Harlequin Presents romances was a book my mother bought for me that delved into territory she had no idea I’d be reading about–They’ll Never Make a Movie Starring Me by Alice Bach. I remember sitting at the kitchen table, reading, while she was talking to my aunt, and asking questions that were, at the time, quite shocking for her. It opened the door to books for older kids–I was possibly a little obsessed with Paul Zindel, especially The Pigman, for some time.

Have you ever been out in the world and seen someone who reminded you of one of your characters? Or has it ever worked the other way—do you develop a character based on people you know?

Olugbemisola: Absolutely! I’ve seen a lot of boys who remind me of Reggie in 8th Grade Superzero, and I know a lot of lit-from-within, socially conscious girls like Naomi Marie (Two Naomis) and Ruthie (Superzero).

I think I base just about all of my characters on people I know or have met, a lot of the time I don’t do it consciously. I love to eavesdrop (or, as I like to call it, pay attention), and a lot of writing about kids for kids requires me to recall my own memories, so a lot of that is layered in there. Sometimes there are actual people, places, things, and situations that are rendered very much as they are/were, and sometimes it’s more of the sensibility, or the emotion, or mood.

Audrey: I think I’d enjoy it if I saw someone random out in the world and felt inspired to use something about that person for a character but it hasn’t happened yet. And I haven’t based a human character on anyone I know. The only time someone from my life showed up in one of my books was in my first novel, Water Balloon. The dog in that book, Rig, is based on our beloved dog who died in August, Rookie. But I also had another crazy Water Balloon experience in the old Yankee Stadium. A girl with very cool sneakers was waiting in line for the women’s room and I thought, “There’s Marley!” In the few waiting minutes we had left, I just stared. I wonder if she saw. And was terrified. I hope not.

Hey blog readers! We’d be interested in your answers to these questions too (if that’s okay with Darlene).  Absolutely OKAY!

Audrey Vernick is the author of Brothers At Bat: The True Story of An Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team, a New York Times Notable Book. In addition to Two Naomis, her 2016 picture book releases are The Kid from Diamond Street, I Won a What? and Unlike Other Monsters. Audrey visits dozens of schools and is a frequent speaker at conferences for writers, librarians and teachers. A two-time fiction fellowship recipient from the NJ Arts Council, she lives with her family near the ocean. Visit her online at

Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich is often asked about her name; she is the daughter of a Nigerian father and a Jamaican mother, and married to a man of Croatian descent. She was born in New York City, and was the ‘new kid’ many times over, in more than one country. Her first novel, 8th Grade Superzero, was named a Notable Book for a Global Society by the International Reading Association, and a Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People by the National Council for the Social Studies and CBC. She has contributed essays and stories to The Journey is Everything: Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People Who Want to Read Them, Open Mic: Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices, Imagine in Better: Visions of What Schools Might Be, and other collections. She has a MA in Education and holds a Certificate in the teaching of writing from the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College/Columbia University. She lives with her family in NYC where she writes, makes things, and needs to get more sleep. Find her online at

guysmileyclosefinalThanks so much for hosting us, Darlene!   It was a pleasure Audrey and Gbemi!

To be in the running for a copy of TWO NAOMIS, leave a comment at the end of this post.  I’ll put your name in a basket and pull out the winner on 10-19-16.


Yvonne Ventresca’s New YA: Black Flowers, White Lies.

Black Flowers, White Lies | Release Blitz |

We’re excited to be celebrating the release of BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES by Yvonne Ventresca this week! Check out the book’s details and teaser, and be sure to enter the giveaway below.

BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIESBlack Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Publication: October 4, 2016

Her father died before she was born, but Ella Benton knows they have a supernatural connection. Since her mother discourages these beliefs, Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. But she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died sixteen years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. After a lifetime of just the two of them, Mom suddenly feels like a stranger.

When a handprint much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before. If it’s not a warning, could her new too-good-to-be-true boyfriend be responsible for the strange occurrences? Or maybe it’s the grieving building superintendent whose dead daughter strongly resembles Ella? As the unexplained events become more frequent and more sinister, Ella becomes terrified about who—or what—might harm her.

Soon the evidence points to someone else entirely: Ella herself. What if, like her father, she’s suffering from a breakdown? In this second novel from award-winning author Yvonne Ventresca, Ella desperately needs to find answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Excerpt from Black Flowers, White Lies

I take the stairs down. Once the stairwell door closes behind me, the basement seems darker than ever, as if the electricity is off. The light on my phone helps guide me to the laundry room. I flick the switch. Nothing happens. Not even the one good light turns on.

Maybe Norma’s in the middle of fixing the lightbulbs. She could have turned off the circuit breaker or something. But when I open the dryer, the drum light turns on as I dump the clothes into the basket. The electricity is working after all.

The light from the dryer illuminates the space and some­thing catches my eye. I focus my phone on the wall to my left.

“No.” I back up, banging into the open dryer door.

One word is scrawled in red capital letters across the wall: DAUGHTER. A bloody handprint drips in the space underneath.

I grab the basket. A cat T-shirt falls, but I don’t stop. I need to escape, fast. The elevator takes forever. The doors slide open. I expect demons, monsters, ghouls. It’s empty.

On our floor, I race to our apartment, fumble with my keys. My hands tremble too much to open the lock. “Blake!”

When he opens the door, I drop the basket to grab his arm. “Come with me.”

“El, what’s going on?”

I can’t speak on the elevator ride to the basement.

“Seriously, are you okay? You’re scaring me.”

“I’ll show you.”

I turn my phone light on when we leave the elevator and pull him into the dark laundry room. I illuminate the wall but can’t bear to look. “See?”

He’s quiet. I figure he’s as frightened as I am.

“See what?”

I turn my head and shine the light where the red scrawl was minutes before.

There’s nothing.

“Why are we in the dark?” Blake asks, flipping the laun­dry room switch.

The lights come on. The sudden brightness makes me blink as I stare at the blank wall.


About the Author

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Pinterest

Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016.

Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In PANDEMIC, a teen struggles to survive not only a deadly outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons. Ventresca’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News).

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca |


Prize pack includes a three panel rustic chalkboard with a $25 Amex gift card, a $25 Sephora gift card, and a signed copy of Black Flowers, White Lies.
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World Smile Day + Baking For Cause.

Friday, October 7 is WORLD SMILE DAY.  You can celebrate the iconic symbol of happiness –  created by artist Harvey Ball – by encouraging acts of kindness.  Even the smallest act makes a difference.    smiley-163510_960_720

AND…You have until 10-31 to celebrate King Arthur Flour’s BAKE FOR GOOD month.  If you register on the sight and share your baked goodies with a friend or neighbor, one meal will be donated to FEEDING AMERICA.