November, 2011

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Easy Language Acquisition Activities by GAP Author Nicole Weaver

Due you lack ideas on what activities to do to keep your child interested in learning French or Spanish. If you answered yes, here is what you can do.

Make a habit to introduce seasonal themes. This is an easy and fun way to introduce new vocabulary to kids. For example, since it is now fall you can spend some time introducing vocabulary relating to fall. Furthermore, you can always take your child to the park to experience what fall is like. Have your child gather leaves that have fallen to the ground and make a collage with it.

Next, have the child label each item in English first, then label it in the language your child is interested in learning.

Here are some concrete examples:

Autum/L’automne/El otoño

Leaves/Les feuilles/Las hojas

We go to school in the fall/On va à l’école en automne/Vamos a la escuela al otoño

Nicole weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. Her second children’s trilingual book titled: My Sister is My Best Friend will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. Her third children’s book, My Brother is My Best Friend is currently under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing. She is also the author of a children’s trilingual picture book titled : Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle. The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Nicole has traveled to France, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Canada and London.


My Sister Is My Best Friend Blog:

My Birthday Is September Eleven Blog:

Marie and her Friend the Sea Turtle Blog:

Educational Expert:

Blogcritics Contributor:

Holiday Traditions by GAP Author Kai Strand

The day after Thanksgiving is often the day families decorate their homes for Christmas. But in my friend’s household, it is the kickoff day of a beloved family tradition. Each year, Jen pulls out a decorative sleigh large enough for a toddler to sit in and fills it with their collection of Christmas books. She’s been collecting books related to the Christmas holiday since her boys were babies. They have titles that range from traditional stories to quirky tales. But what makes the tradition so special in my eyes is that each night from the evening the books are set out until Christmas itself, her boys pick one book to be read. At some point in the evening, after homework is completed, or tae-kwon-do class is over, but before the boys shuffle off to brush their teeth and maybe even curl up with a book of their own, Jen and her boys settle together in the living room to read a Christmas story. They have some favorite books, which have been read repeatedly over the years, but they also look forward to sharing new stories together.

Can’t you just picture the cozy scene? The boys cuddled under their throws either laughing at Christmas antics or in awe over the story of Jesus’ birth; and Jen, sharing those moments night after night, year after year with her (now 10 and 13 yr old) boys.

What a lovely and enduring tradition.

Guardian Angel Publishing has several holiday titles to kick-start your annual tradition, or, as in the case of my friend, add to an existing one:





CAMILLE’S JOURNEY: Christmas Musical Play & Master









Kai Strand is the author of The Weaver, a tween chapbook that offers a little magic and a lot of storytelling. Though it isn’t a Christmas title, it would make a fine Christmas present for any 9 – 12 year old.

GAP Illustrator K.C. Snider Joins the SCBWI

Artist K.C. Snider, who has illustrated such Guardian Angel Publishing books as the award-winning historical storybook, The Golden Pathway by Donna McDine, the tween chapter book, The Weaver by Kai Strand, the Andy and the Albino Horse series by Mary Jean Kelso, and newly released, The Milk Horse by Cat Luce, has become a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

K.C. Snider, an honors graduate from The Eugene School for Art, is a prominent Oregon artist. Her love of the western life and of wildlife has been developed since her youth. She had a natural talent for drawing and color exhibited since she was ten years old. She has shared her talents as an Art Instructor at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. Her painting, the “Brothers of the Wolves I”, has been published by Colorado’s Leanin’ Tree, Inc. Her painting, “Spirit of the Hunter,” was chosen by Leanin’ Tree for the 2006 Christmas card line.

Originally specializing in Western Art, K.C. has branched out into a variety of styles and subjects. Her collection of oil paintings, lithographs, and pencil drawings include portraits of the All-American Cowboy and Cowgirl and their lifestyles of days gone by. Recently, K.C. has been sculpting using a variety of subjects including cowboys, domestic animals and other funny caricatures and is working on her first bronze, “The All-American Cowgirl.”

K.C.’s paintings incorporate horses of all breeds, majestic wolves and buffalo herds, as well as eagles and other native birds of prey, in their rustic natural habitats. The western terrain in her art is not only very detailed, but it also transcends time. Now a resident of Redmond, Oregon, K.C. is inspired by the natural beauty of the high desert of Central Oregon. In some of her works, if one looks closely, the visions of spirits create an inspiring visual impact. K.C. has a gift for capturing the shimmering iridescence of the spirit world. In her reverent detail, one can almost hear the howl of wolves and the trampling of running horses on dusty trails as their stories depicted on the canvases come to life in the mind’s eye.

K.C.’s artwork has won many awards during her long career. Her rainbow collection of prize ribbons from all over the Northwest is as colorful as her work. Recently, K.C. has won plaques from the 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 Western Art Roundup at Winnemucca, Nevada. She has won prizes in several categories, as well as the prestigious Snaffle Bit Award for her authentic Western Art, the Pioneer Award for the depiction of life on the High Desert, and the Indian Heritage Award for her piece titled, “Hope of the White Buffalo.”

K.C. has now completed illustrating a number of children’s’ books. The Christmas Angel, with author Mary Jean Kelso and The Magic Violin, with Mayra Calvani were the first of the books published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

You can visit her website at  She also has two blogs:  and

GAP Author Cheryl Malandrinos at Pump Up Your Book Live! Author Chat Tonight!

Cheryl Malandrinos, author of Little Shepherd, is participating in the Pump Up Your Book Live! November 2011 Authors on Tour Chat/Giveaway Party. The party starts at 8 PM Eastern and features numerous authors in a variety of genres. Cheryl is scheduled to chat with attendees around 10 PM.

You can check out the Pump Up Your Book website for additional details at

How to Make a Picture Book Editor Yell, "WOW!"

November is Picture Book Month, so when I was asked to submit an article for the GAP Blog, I thought the logical topic was Picture Books. I write ‘em, I read ‘em, I critique ’em and I LOVE ‘em.
So, read on. . .

There are oodles of picture books out there. Some are waiting in slush piles, while others are contenders, already going through the approval process. Then, there are all those bookstores, large and small, that have shelves loaded with picture books. Every conceivable theme and plot line has already been written – thousands of times. So, how can you hit the jackpot with your PB?

The First Thing to Consider:

Don’t worry about finding a new kind of story – it’s not going to happen mates! What you need is a neat out-of-the-box scenario: a fresh new way to write a fun story about bunnies, horses, moonbeams or new babies – whatever. Nothing is set in stone. Jot down your ideas, and then turn them sideways, upside-down or inside-out. All things being equal, quirky and fresh gets the brass ring.

Think of the picture books you loved as a kid, or now love to read to your kids. Take one of these stories and think about what made it appeal to you or your child. Then reinvent it. This is not plagiarism. It is dissecting a PB: plot, characters and setting, until you know the secret of its success. Use that knowledge to craft a new story, completely your own. Exploit the principles of success you discovered while doing the dissecting.

The Writing:

Tight writing for picture books is the golden rule. Use powerful and active verbs,

Great verbs are a PB writer’s best friend. Search for adjectives that surprise and delight your reader. Be specific when referring to people, places, and events. Simplicity is a splendid goal. Beware like, nice, very, walked, sat, ran, and their ilk. You can find better, stronger, and more innovative words. Seemed, I think, perhaps and some – all four have weakness in common. Write with words that signify strength, action and power. Think of your text as a garden with rampant growth. Prune those sentences until your word count is way below 1,000 words.

The writer that prunes ruthlessly is the one who becomes published.

Your First Paragraph or Verse:

Editors are buried under piles of manuscripts waiting to be read, work related in-office conferences, and time spent conferring with the art director, and dictating rejection letters – to name just a few chores that crowd their days. If your first few lines don’t make an editor say, “Wow!” you can forget advances and royalty payments. Those first few lines need to make an editor eager to read more. Your goal is to have her think, “Hey, this is something new and different.”

So, set up those first lines as if your publishing life depended on them – because it does. Make them fun: full of action or quirky ideas. Introduce the main character in a way that makes a lasting impression. Describe a wild and way-out setting. Craft those lines using ideas with a twist, and characters that kids demand to read about, over-and-over. Of course this will cause you big problems with the rest of your story. Why? Because you have already set an incredibly high writing standard, and you must maintain that standard until THE END.

The Right Publisher:

You must find a publisher who publishes books similar to yours. More rejections are sent because the author chose the wrong publisher, than because the writing was lousy. If you write picture books about animals, it is a waste of time sending your manuscript to religious, non-fiction, or mid-grade only publishers. In addition, you need to fine-tune your search even further. IE: Some publishers will accept animal stories, but not stories about talking animals. It is a simple matter of doing your homework.

Finding a publisher that has an editor who needs a book like yours, loves your writing style, and is in sync with your ideas for your book can be a crap shoot. Because, unless you are already know to the editor (translation: published by them and made them lots of money), or have editorial or publishing connections via different sources, you are left to wade through miles of publishing websites, looking at the books they have recently published, plus their submission guidelines.

The CWIM (Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market) is a wonderful source of legitimate publishing houses, website addresses, and clues about what publishers want from you. Book stores and libraries are other places you can find stories along the lines of yours. Make notes about who published them.

Harold Underdown’s Purple Crayon has many useful pages. Here are THREE articles that will help you search for a publisher. Harold’s website has far too many great articles to mention all the useful ones- check it out Here.

Who’s Moving Where

Magazines, Organizations & Websites

Basic Information: Several articles on how to be published.

Then there is:

Secrets of Writing for Children : Lots of help and guidance.

Amazon Book/Publisher Search: For more focused searches on individual authors, publishers, or subjects, the best bet is Amazon’s dedicated search page.

Writer’s Market: They update information regularly, including editors to contact. They have a program where you can track submissions, but it costs to join. Writer’s Market also has a free update site. You don’t have to subscribe to the magazine to get the updates.

Verla Kay’s WebSite: A mult-published author. A wonderful resource site. Click Artists & Writers and then Transcripts. Look for back transcripts of chat with editors.

In Conclusion:

The principles of making sure your manuscript is ready for a publisher/editor is the same for all books: tight writing, great choice of words, strong story and memorable characters. For picture books, you need only a few words, and then weave them into a marvelous story. Your book must keep the interest of small children with the attention span of a puppy. How can an undertaking that looks so simple end up being one of the most difficult tasks a writer can tackle?

Don’t ask me. I’m hooked!


Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant now living in Oregon. She has 10 published picture books, and also writes young YA fiction. Her Manuscript Critique Service promises to help you write “As tight as your granny’s new girdle,” and her personal guidance will show you how to WOW an editor.

BOOKS and Manuscript Critiques:


Margot’s Magic Carpet:


Food Day was celebrated on October 24th! GAP author, Nicole Weaver offered us this great article she wrote, that is a great reminder every day of the year.


Incorporating healthy eating on a daily basis is not difficult. Most students, because of convenience, usually purchase lunch at school. I have seen firsthand the type of junk that is served at many school cafeterias. I have been teaching for twenty-six years at the middle and high school levels. I would not feed the slop at my school to my worst enemy. The stuff is completely devoid of nutritional value. What can a parent do? Many times kids feel very uncomfortable carrying lunch to school. I bribe my kids by paying them extra allowance if they eat what I make them for lunch.

Now, let us examine what constitutes a healthy brown-bag lunch. Children need to eat a balanced meal for proper brain development. They need to eat protein, carbohydrates, and fruit. I always pack a piece of fruit with a sandwich made of whole wheat bread, cold cuts, lettuce and tomatoes, along with sliced carrots or celery sticks. I only purchase cold cuts that are nitrites and nitrates free and raised without added hormones. Non-organic meats are loaded with deadly chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer. All of my fruits are also organic.

A healthy brown-bag lunch should also include snacks. I buy organic almonds, organic raisins and dried coconut from the health-food store. I mix and put some in a snack bag. VOILA! You have a very healthy snack, which is not laced with a ton of sugar.

How about beverages? I buy organic juices for lunch. Sodas are loaded with too much sugar; too much consumption of sugar is known to deplete your body of vital nutrients. It is shameful the many soda machines that are placed in schools. Many of my students come to class with a sugar buzz. Some even fall asleep before the end of class. I also encourage my children to drink plenty of water. I am not fond of school water fountains, so I buy a polycarbonate water bottle and fill it with filtered water. This bottle is glass-like, non-porous, no plastic or dioxine leaching. The traditional plastic bottle leaks cancer-causing chemicals in the water. The bottle can be kept in a locker or a backpack for easy access.

As parents, we have a duty to make sure our children are well cared for. Healthy minds and bodies start from the inside.

My daughter graduated with top honors from high school and now my sixteen-year-old will be a junior. I will monitoring his eating habits, just as I did my daughter’s. He may get some weird looks, but at least he will be in the best of health.

Nicole weaver was born in Port-au-Prince Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is the author of a children’s trilingual picture book titled ” Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.” The story is about a Haitian little girl who resided by the beach in Haiti. Her second trilingual children’s picture book will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The book titled, ” My sister is my Best Friend ” will be published in 2011.

Visit Nicole online at

Be prepared for Food Day 2012 by visiting!

Win A FREE Copy of O Christmas Tree by Lindsay Bonilla at Through His Eyes

Guardian Angel Publishing recently released O Christmas Tree by Lindsay Bonilla and illustrated by Jack Foster.

The Marshalls, a family wrapped up in their holiday traditions, can hardly wait to celebrate the season by decorating their Christmas tree. But when their tree, Treena, unexpectedly comes to life, she teaches them a lesson about the true meaning of the Christmas that they will never forget.

To celebrate the book’s release, Lindsay is offering a FREE copy as a giveaway during her interview at Through His Eyes. The winner will be announced at the Through His Eyes blog on November 14th. Find additional details at:

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