Friday, April 5, 2013

What About Barnaby?

Please help me welcome Barnaby Q. Percival and his friends (old and new, furry and not-so-furry) to my blog! 

The release of my first middle grade fiction book, What About Barnaby? (A Gumshoe Crew Mystery), took place on April 1st.  No, it wasn't an April Fools' joke!  But it was a quiet launch, so I wanted to take a few minutes to introduce you to some of the characters in the book.

Barnaby Q. Percival is a crazy mutt, at least that's how Zeke describes him.  He never goes anywhere without his squeaky toy... well, never until today.  Oh, no, Barnaby has disappeared and he's left his squeaky toy behind!

Zeke is a neighbor of Barnaby's and his owner, Mr. Jensen.  Like most kids, he thinks life in his little town is just plain, old boring.  The mystery of Barnaby's disappearance is just the thing to bring adventure to his little corner of Hedgewood.

Scotty is Zeke's best friend.  He's definitely a "unique individual" and you'll see just how as you read What About Barnaby?  Scotty teams up with Zeke to try to decipher the mystery of the missing mutt.

Then there's Mrs. Peyton, one of Zeke's favorite people.  She's a sweet old lady who bakes the most delicious chocolate chip cookies in the world.  She knows something that will help Zeke and Scotty with their detective work but they don't know it yet... and they'll really be surprised when they find out!

The kids work tirelessly to find Barnaby.  They make some new friends along the way who pitch in to help solve the mystery.  I hope you'll come along on their adventure.  Who knows, they may even ask you to be a member of The Gumshoe Crew!

What About Barnaby? (A Gumshoe Crew Mystery) is available for the Kindle.

Follow Barnaby and the kids on Twitter @TheGumshoeCrew.

Okay, kids, let's have a giveaway!  I'm giving away three (3) copies of What About Barnaby? for the Kindle.  Enter using the Rafflecopter entry form below.

Giveaway ends April 30, 2013.

Good luck and as always... stay cool!


CONGRATS to Julie, Katie, and Renee!  They've each won a Kindle copy of What About Barnaby.  I hope you enjoy the book!  And thanks to all who entered and helped to spread the word!

Kid Lit Blog Hop
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 4, 2013

School Visits Revisited

There's nothing like being there--or is that, there's virtually nothing like being there--or better yet, there's nothing like being there "virtually".
Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting, via Skype, with the terrific fifth grade students of King's Grant Elementary School in Virginia Beach, VA.  I want to thank the Gifted Resource Teacher, Mrs. Peperak, and fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Jackson, for inviting me to speak with their students.  And I especially want to thank the kiddos for their warm welcome and full participation during our visits.  You made my day twice in one week!
My visit was made possible through a grant that Mrs. Peperak and Mrs. Jackson wrote and funded by Virginia Beach City Public Schools Building Futures Grant.  Their students were preparing to take the SOL (Standards of Learning) writing test, or "THE BIG SOL" as the teachers and students refer to it, and they wanted to invite authors to speak with the students about writing ideas, writing challenges, editing tips, and tips for staying on topic.  Needless to say, I was very excited when I got the call and happily accepted the invitation.
If you've ever Skyped with family or friends you already know that an in-person visit and a virtual visit are two different animals.  At any given moment during a virtual visit there can be connection problems or video and audio delays.  And for me, personally, the warmth of a personal visit just isn't quite there during a virtual visit.  I was a bit worried about there being a disconnect in that regard but, being one who doesn't shy away from technology and one who wouldn't want to disappoint the children, I was all in.
A quick practice-run with Ms. Wuesthoff, the computer geek... I mean, the Computer Resource Specialist at the school, and we were ready to go.  My worries faded and my excitement skyrocketed!
Both visits turned out wonderfully!  The students were prepared with some great questions for me and were very attentive as I told them about where I get ideas for my books and short stories, about my favorite genre and authors, and about being a publisher. 
I enjoyed hearing about their favorite books and the unique ideas they had for writing in their favorite genres.  To top it all off, we completed a MadLib together, because there's always time for silliness!  I challenged them to use the MadLib as a prompt and to continue the story as a way to practice for "THE BIG SOL" and for creative writing in general.
We did experience a few minor glitches during the visits but nothing that would make me shy away from the technology and especially nothing that would keep me from visiting with students.  I wouldn't pass up that opportunity for anything!  And so, I'm in the process of scheduling my next Skype visit, because there really is nothing like being there, even if it is virtually.
Thanks again to everyone at King's Grant Elementary School for your hospitality.  I will always remember my first virtual visit and how it was a success because of you.  I'm sending this virtual (hug) your way. Students please keep reading and writing, and teachers please keep doing what you're doing because your students are awesome! 
As always... stay cool!
Find out more about author visits on my Skype an AuthorNetwork page.