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Guest Post: Boxes of Books! by Tara Fox Hall

In Charities, eBooks, Guest Blogger on June 2, 2013 at 12:03 am

Once again, I am pleased to host my guest Tara Fox Hall with another of her charitable causes. This time she has come up with a cracker, which should suit many of us; a unique way to put all those books to use that we may never read again. Welcome Tara, and thank you, as ever, for being here.

Tara Fox Hall guest blogging on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonThank you to Amelia Curzon for once again letting me guest at her blog about one of my charities.

If you’re a voracious reader like me, it’s likely that there are many bookshelves in your home piled with books. Inevitably, with the regular influx of new books, those bookshelves get overcrowded, then heaping, then spill over onto the floor. While the advent of e-readers and e-books has helped slow this process in recent years, I find it still happens to me, especially as I grow older and my tastes in books change. When I do a “book purge,” there are usually boxes and boxes of books that need a new home.

What to do with all the books? Usually libraries used to take them for book auctions, and sometimes organizations like the Salvation Army would take book donations. But for those that would like to help out a charity, I offer another option: Operation Paperback.

Here is a little about Operation Paperback:

Operation Paperback is a non-profit organization incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania that collects gently used books nationwide and sends them to American troops overseas, as well as veterans and military families here at home. Since 1999, we have shipped over 1.9 million books to locations around the globe.

Our service members and their families make sacrifices every day for our country. It takes so little to let them know that they are appreciated. When you donate to Operation Paperback, you will let America’s military know that you appreciate their service and their sacrifices.

I joined them in the fall of 2011 in an effort to get some of my books out in print form. With each shipment, I usually sent a copy of Lash Book #1 or Promise Me Book #1. Originally, I just sent to troops overseas. In 2012, Operation Paperback included veteran organizations to their list of book recipients. Now in 2013, military families can also receive books.

Volunteers do have to register to participate, but the procedure is surprisingly easy to do. Operation paperback accepts most kinds of reading material, including magazines, comic books, hardcover books, etc. (but no erotica). If you have extra books that you aren’t going to read again, consider donating them to this worthy charity. For more about Operation Paperback, click here:

Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.

Taken For His Own - Book CoverTaken For His Own by Tara Fox Hall

Blurb: After learning Theo is alive, Sar immediately embarks on a mission to find him. Reunited, the lovers return to New York; Danial, Terian and Theo uneasily combining forces to protect Sar from Al’s assassins still seeking her. But when Sar is taken prisoner in an all-out attack, only one man can save her: her old adversary, Devlin.

Buy Links:


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“What about what you did to me?” I whispered, gazing at him and biting my lip.

“That wasn’t a whim,” Devlin said, dropping his eyes. “That was my bad judgment. Sadly, it wasn’t the worst mistake I’ve made in my life.”

“What was?”

Devlin didn’t answer. I reached out and took his cool hand in mine.

“When you lead others you must do whatever you have to in order to save your people,” he said with a sigh. “Compromising values should matter less than saving lives.”

“I agree with you,” I said. “If you rule others, you have a responsibility to them above the responsibility to yourself. But even then, I think your family should come first.”

“They should,” Devlin said in a cracked voice. He swallowed hard. “But the past can’t be undone.”

I squeezed his hand. “What happened to Danial wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes, it was,” he said softly.

“How is it your fault?” I said curiously, easing closer to him.

“Because I should have known what the thing was when it attacked. I didn’t know anything back then, except strategy and tactics. I was too concerned about rising through the ranks as fast as possible, so I could leave my family behind and become someone important.”

“What did you want to be?”

“A commander of men, either soldiers or police.”

I was surprised that Devlin would want to uphold the law or spend his life guarding others. Yet it made sense. When he’d taken me from my house years ago, he’d insisted on taking me to Danial, because I wore the choker. He was here putting himself in danger now to keep me safe.

“I knew something had attacked a few people on that road in that last month,” he continued. “I knew that there was a chance we might be attacked transporting the prisoner. But the road was the quickest way to our destination. I’d been assured that if I made the journey in good time, I’d get the promotion I wanted, and Danial would get my old position.”

“You aren’t at fault for what you did. It wasn’t for an evil reason.”

“Yes, I am,” he said despondently. “It was my greed and pride that doomed us.”

Carefully, I reached for Devlin and put my arms around him. He tensed at my touch, then relaxed.

“You did the best you could. You aren’t damned.”

“Yes, I am. You have no idea what I’ve done.”

I shifted uneasily.

“And I wouldn’t want you to,” Devlin added, his arms snaking around me loosely. “My ends have always justified the means, no matter what they were. I’ve done great evil in the hope of averting worse evil. Sometimes it worked and sometimes not. Still, it’s likely that given the chance to do my life over, I’d do the same things, make the same choices. I’d find myself here, at this same point in time, a fallen king.”

“In case you’re wondering,” I said deliberately. “I’m waiting for you to add into your speech somewhere that you regret everything you did to me while you were king…um, ruler.”

“I regret hurting you,” Devlin said quickly. “Yet I don’t regret coming for you that night or taking you to Danial.” He looked up at me. “You might not have gone back to Danial after Theo went missing, if I hadn’t. Theoron might not be here. I can’t regret any action of mine that led to him being born.”

I didn’t reply, considering his words.

Devlin laid his head against my chest, and his arms tightened on me slightly. We lay there like that for a few moments, not speaking, then I slipped into sleep.

I woke sometime later when Devlin stirred. According to the bedside clock, it was almost dusk.

“I have only one regret,” Devlin said finally, propping himself up on his elbow, his expression intent.

“What’s that?” I said, covering my yawn with my hand.

“That it wasn’t me you found in your quarry that night,” Devlin said, kissing the back of my hand with cool lips. His golden eyes locked on mine, transfixing me, as he drew my hand away from my face.

He was going to kiss me. My lips parted as my breath caught in my throat.

Where to find Tara:

Goodreads Blog

Facebook Page




Guest Post: The Heretic in Me by Kathleen Maher

In Guest Blogger, writing on May 19, 2013 at 11:01 pm

To quote the very eloquent Kathleen Maher, “Readers’ taste in fiction is so subjective, and the writing of it so difficult, that it still takes all my nerve to continue. Yet I can’t imagine stopping”. This will probably strike a chord with most writers, it certainly does with me, so I am thrilled to be able introduce Kathleen with this great guest post. Welcome Kathleen, and thank you.

Kathleen Maher - AuthorMany thanks to Amelia for giving me this platform to write about my passion, which is writing fiction.

I wanted to write fiction, it seems, as soon as I knew what is was. As a child I could see that fiction presented life as art. It distilled and validated my impressions. In contrast, non-fiction was interesting but rarely affected me to the core.

When I first attempted creative writing in elementary school, I earned praise without knowing why. This encouraged me, but, without guidance, it took years to find my way. I didn’t stop because the challenge of writing fiction filled me with such adrenaline that hours passed like minutes. Readers’ taste in fiction is so subjective, and the writing of it so difficult, that it still takes all my nerve to continue. Yet I can’t imagine stopping.

In the late 1990s, I woke up one morning with the character of Malcolm Tully, the diarist of Diary of a Heretic, at large in my mind. His comical sincerity, self-scrutiny, and hypersensitivity would not let me rest.

Malcolm is a reluctant cult leader, so I researched cults, and as the plot grew palpable (albeit vague as usual) I wrote the first draft. As thoroughly as Malcolm had claimed me, putting his story in words took me five years.

Rewriting has always been especially difficult for me, because sheer passion is not enough to carry it off. So in 2006, I created a blog, named after Malcolm’s diary (Diary of a Heretic), and began rewriting his entries as posts.

Serial online fiction is not especially popular, but serves me well. The form forces me to construct every line toward the conclusion. Online episodes cannot carry a superfluous word, let alone a tangent; few atmospheric descriptions or overwrought introspection. Diary of a Heretic, being a diary, depends on both. But the blog forced me to pick up the pace. Malcolm’s voice remains florid, but the final version, imperfect as it is, improved because of the blog’s forced discipline.

I rewrote Diary of a Heretic many times and put it away, I thought, indefinitely. My husband, who’s a wonderful writer and editor, revived it, because after reading it countless times, he still finds it entertaining. He formatted it for Amazon’s Kindle. Now I am reading it with fresh eyes, and although I see much to improve, I am happy to see my character Malcolm alive on the page.

Much of Malcolm’s diary is unsuitable for a family blog, but here is a short passage that conveys a bit of Malcolm’s (and my) passion:

We both stared at our feet until I couldn’t stand it, and blushing horribly, tried this: “Is it just me or what? Remember when people would say that?”

She smiled, answering, “When I was fourteen, I said, ‘Is it just me or what?’ And, ‘Whatever.’ And, ‘As if.’ ”

“‘As if’ came later, I think.”

We hugged. I pressed my cheek into her hair, which wasn’t as blonde as I remembered it, but much softer and straighter, smooth and reassuring. A veil of pure silk dried in balmy air after a fresh rain. I rubbed my cheek there and my hand played with the feminine waves. A sigh escaped and she pulled away. “I missed you, too, Malkie.”

…I never know what’s going to bring on a crying jag. “Is it just me or what?” was never, before or after its currency, said in earnest. People never said it unless they were referring to something indisputable, guaranteed to draw consensus.

So which do you think? Is it just me or does the irreversibility of time never let up? Is it just me or are there days when you, too, can’t get past every moment lost? I want every moment back: The good because they passed too fast, and the bad because perhaps with another chance, I could make them right.

Kathleen Maher is the author of Diary of a Heretic, a novel available on Amazon Kindle, and Underground Nest, a novella available in most e-book formats. She is a lifelong writer, with a number of short stories published in literary journals, print and online. Her fiction has won finalist and semi-finalist status in numerous literary contests, including the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction, and the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her blog, Diary of a Heretic (, features serialized short stories and novellas.

Amazon’s Author Page
Diary of a Heretic on Kindle
Underground Nest on Kindle
Facebook Author’s Page
Twitter: @kathleenmaher

Underground Nest Book CoverDiary of a Heretic Book Cover

Guest Blogger Invitation

In Guest Blogger on May 7, 2013 at 12:18 am

Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

Hi everyone,
If you are looking for some extra exposure for your work, I now have open guest spots on my blogs again.  If you would like to take part, you can contact me at amelia(dot)curzon(at)gmail(dot)com  I love meeting and working with other Bloggers, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Here is the link to my other blog, for you to check out.

You can also see the varied and talented work of my fantastic past guests by scrolling down to the bottom of the page on both. Feel free to ask for availability on either blog.

Guest Blogging Submission Guidelines

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor by Amelia Curzon Book Cover

A Heart Full of Horses by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo

In Horse Rescue on March 28, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo - Guest Blogging on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

There is something totally primal about the connection between horses and people.  Alexander the Great thought so much of his horse he made it a senator.  Napoleon would only ride one horse into battle.  General Robert E. Lee’s horse, Traveler is almost as famous as he is in the history books.  All these examples may seem a bit off to someone who has never had horses in their lives, but to me they totally make sense.  I don’t think I would go so far as to make any of my horses public officials but some of them are definitely influential by being merchants of hope.  The thing about riding only one horse into battle makes perfect sense to me. There are some horses you are just more comfortable on than others.  I love John Wayne’s quote, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway”.   Been there and done that one also. So what is it about these magnificent and delicate critters that make a seemingly normal person turn into a “Horse Diva”?

I am a seventh generation Texan so I guess I am just doomed in the old DNA locker to be programmed to adore horses.  I have always loved them but was never able to actually own any until my adulthood. I guess it was worth the wait because now I can keep them. As a youngster finances were never my strong suit and I would hate to have them and lose them because of something stupid I did. I can totally understand the recklessness of youth, because we were all young and dumb at some time, even though we don’t want to admit it. That being said, I have absolutely no patience with the stupid, yes, I said the word, actions of adults who should know better.  I guess that is what drew me to horse rescues.

Dusty the rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

Dusty when he first came to stay

My first horse I rescued was a massive brute about 16.1 and large-boned. He was actually woolly like a musk ox in the winter.   When I first saw Dusty he was in a barn alleyway with his head down heaving to breath into a fan on a hot summer day.  This is the barn where we boarded my daughter’s horse.  I was concerned so I asked about the horse. I was told that he had foundered, and they were waiting to see if he would survive this one.  For those of you that don’t know, founder is a very serious condition that affects a horse’s hooves and circulation.  It is potentially deadly. A horse that goes from founder suffers miserably and slowly.  Many times it can be corrected by special shoes, sometimes nothing can be done because the bone rotates through the foot.

I asked why he didn’t have shoes on, and they didn’t want to waste money on the expensive shoes if he wasn’t going to make it. They really didn’t think he would because he had foundered five times that year alone. I found out later they kept taking off the special shoes.  I visited the horse every day and he got to where he looked for me. He was still in the alleyway and still heaving for breath. This went on for about a week. I couldn’t stand it anymore and asked if they would sell him. Of course, they would, that is why they brought him to the stable in the first place.  I promptly bought him for 1800.00 with the stipulation that if he died, there would be no refund.

Dusty the rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

Dusty six months later

I called the farrier and he came out that same day and fitted him with special shoes. That made standing for the guy a little easier. I had a fan in his stall and fed him the best quality hay.  I even went in and sifted the sand in his stall so no rocks would get into his sensitive feet.  They told me when I bought him, he was 12, I found out later he was every bit of 25. He was my first old guy rescue.  Turns out he also had Cushing’s disease, which is brought about by acute cases of founder.  That was what was causing his really shaggy coat in the winter.  Under my care, Dusty Krow Horse recovered. He never foundered again while I had him.

I used Dusty as a trail horse and we had a few issues to work out. Whenever the terrain would change from flatlands, he would buck. He didn’t get me off all of the time but if you’ve ever been bucked by a large horse, you know that can hurt as much as hitting the ground. The shockwaves through your body are felt for days. I guess it is like whiplash.  We worked it out where I would dismount and walk beside him up or down the hills. He stayed right with me and stood quietly for me to mount when the ground was level again.  A lot of people made fun of us, but I didn’t care, I knew the old man had a reason for his actions and I honored that he trusted me.

Several years later Dusty started dragging one of his hind legs when he walked. I had the vet x-ray and he told me that his hip had been broken completely in two and had healed crooked.  The horse should never had been sold has a ride able animal.  It was then I understood why Dusty could not take anything other than flat terrain.  Dusty was retired on that day to never be ridden again, but he was loved and cared for until his death five years after I got him. The old horse had given me everything he had and then some. It was the least I could do for him. I found out later that the Cushing’s should have done him in years before, but he hung on and had a few good years at the end.

The last couple of years were rough. He had to have more and more special shoes. He couldn’t shed his winter coat so we had to shave it for him, but he never gave up being that special boy that adored me whenever I came to the barn.  We lost Dusty to a brain tumor that was caused by the Cushing’s, but I was so glad that I was there to give him those last five years of happiness.  I shudder to think what would have happened to him if I had left him.  It wasn’t a dramatic rescue on TV or in the courts, but it was rescue all the same.

I have continued to bring in rescue horses from bad situations, some I outright buy and some are just handed over.  These horses become part of me and I love them for it. The emotions involved are intense and you can lose them in a heartbeat, but the joy they give me while they are here knows no bounds.  I take a page out of Dusty’s book, I give them everything I have and then some and they do the same. I can’t even imagine another way of life. A friend told me that my horses are my heart; I guess she knows me pretty well, because they are just that, my heart.

Here are some more of my beloved rescues. Hover over the images to find out who they are.

Payable Doc - A rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche By Amelia Curzon Rebel- A rescue horse featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonDurango and Pie, pasture buddies featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia CurzonBiography

Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo is a seventh generation Texan who has her own brick at The Cowgirl Museum. She has taught in alternative education for over twenty years. Ms.Scaramuzzo is a member of the 2012 Strathmore’s Who’s Who. She has a BA in Criminology and MAedCT. She works in horse, dog, cat and snake rescues. Ms. Scaramuzzo has been a tester observer for therapy dogs for nine years. She ran a therapy horse riding program for autistic children for five years. She has been a recognized animal behaviorist for over 20 years. This is her first book about an exceptional horse. She feels it is important Ceasar bowing for treats featured on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzonto give back to maintain the balance of a civilized society.

Pie | An Old Brown Horse by Kandy Kay Scaramuzzo– Book Description

This is the story of a twenty five year old ranch horse that was injured and pretty much left to die. He was brought to a stable and sold, even though no one really expected him to survive. He was reborn into a merchant of hope. His amazing spirit and calmness  helped many people over the next 13 years as he became the most amazing mentor and therapy horse. This is Pie’s story as he tells it about the most amazing second chance at life and his travels through it. You will meet his person, a shy young girl who he helps grow into adulthood. He will introduce you to the other horses and people that helped shape his journey. His influence has known no bounds throughout this last 13 years and he continues to shine his light even at the ripe old age of 38. This is a feel good story about life, love, second chances and giving back.

Pie - An Old Brown Horse - Book Cover

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I’ll Take Manhattan by Diane Cimine

In Guest Blogger, New York on March 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Diane Cimine I’m a New Yorker, born & bred. But I’m not who you think I am, nor is the town I call my home.  You see we tend to get a bad rap or at best, are seen through distorted lenses.  Visitors are whisked into midtown, surrounded by grime and blaring horns.  And the lights! Vegas doesn’t hold a candle to Times Square when all the signs are fired up. Some love it.  Personally, I don’t.  It’s garish and crude and frankly, easy to replicate.  Most importantly, it’s not really Manhattan.

Times Square  - Guest post by Diane Cimine on Carte Blanche by Amelia Curzon

The true Manhattan reveals itself in unexpected ways, gradually over time. It’s a kaleidoscope of cultures, each with their own neighborhood and foods and customs.  There is truly something – and someplace – for everyone. And perhaps most surprising, it can be a great place to live.

Not that I’ve always lived here.  On the brink of parenthood, my husband and I fled the city to a lovely village in the northern suburbs for all the reasons parents do: more space, open land, great schools.  We found this and more, though as life goes, many things changed over the next decade.  We moved homes three times, not counting a year long stint in London.  Our little boy soon grew up and our marriage dissolved, though I stayed on in Irvington, in hopes of providing stability.

My return to New York came about rather suddenly.  In 2002, my son moved to Boston for college and I was home alone, launching my communications consultancy, while managing through treatments for breast cancer.  While I loved my beautiful home, I was beginning to feel isolated in a world where I no longer fit.

Then a casual conversation at the tail end of a holiday party changed everything.  A neighbor was looking for a house just like mine, and made an offer I couldn’t refuse, provided I could vacate in 2 months.  I was equal parts exhilarated and terrified.  A brand new path had opened wide and I knew it was time to come home.

Moving day was glorious and as I traveled down the highway to my downtown digs, I felt like a kid again.  The energy was palpable along the early spring streets and I was smitten by the sounds and sight. “It’s good to live it again- the gleaming rooftops at sundown… It lifts you up when you’re down” cooed Billie Holiday in Autumn in New York, one of my favorite tunes.

I was snap happy that first year back, photographing everything, finding wonder and beauty at every turn.  It was a vibrant time downtown with much effort turned on revitalizing the area in the wake of 9/11 and I was a sponge lapping it up.

Chinese New Year, ChinatownWhy the exuberance?

Because it’s all here – the breath of it and best of it, round the clock and across the calendar. Of course, there is theater and art and music of every measure – enough to make your head spin, much of it for free.  But did you know we have parklands galore  and greenways being built every day?

New York is an incredibly green city – surprisingly so! I live in America’s first residential green tower, built to LEED Gold specifications, utilizing natural energy sources and materials throughout.  We face the Hudson River, where you can picnic in summer on the lawns of Rockefeller Park, take in musical events and Queen Mary passes Staten Island Ferry, New York Harborwatch elegant sailboats and majestic cruise ships waft by.

Certainly, Central Park is our main oasis with 250 acres of lawns, 24,000 trees, 150 acres of lakes and streams and 80 acres of woodlands, but in the last decade, the city has revitalized other grand parks that had fallen into disrepair.

You can run or bike or blade 13 uninterrupted miles along the Hudson River on our Greenways.  You can take free ferry rides to Staten Island that pass the Statue of Liberty and provide iconic views of Lower Manhattan – or you can visit the newly opened Governor’s Island, a historic preserve first conquered by the Dutch Washington Square Parkin 1624.

And if you’d just rather meander, there’s the new High Line, a public park built on an historic freight rail line elevated above Manhattan’s West Side in the Chelsea Art District, where regularly changing exhibits compete for your attention with the local birds and mixed architecture.

New York is meant for walking. I’ve been without a car for 7 years now and rarely miss it. Wherever I can’t get on foot, the subway takes me or if it’s late and I’m tired, there are always plentiful cabs.  We’re a city on the go and one that trulyView from the High Line never sleeps.

Clearly, I could go on and on – but I won’t and I can’t, since I’d need well more than a blog post to do the topic justice.

Those blind to New York’s charms shake their head when they see the size of my apartment, wondering how I manage – and why.  It’s all about access I tell them! You can’t possibly be lonely or bored living here.  Life indeed happens beyond your front door.

Next week marks 10 years that I’ll have been back. It’s been the best of times and the worst of times.   I’ve lived through major blackouts and monster storms. I’ve tasted fame and fortune. I’ve loved and lost. Yet my life has been all the richer for it and as I stand on the brink of another chapter, a friend’s Facebook post says it all:

“Once you have lived in New York and made it your home, no place else is good enough.” ― John Steinbeck

Sadly, I’ve learned – that’s so.


Winter Garden, World Financial Center

Diane Cimine fancies herself a renaissance woman whose broad interests defy categorization. With university degrees in philosophy and mathematics, she has held executive positions at major corporations, ad agencies and media associations before launching her own communications consultancy in 2002.  She loves to capture life on film or paper and is a certified yoga instructor, teaching a weekly class to cancer survivors.




Guest Post: Take Aim and Target Your Children’s Writing by Valerie Allen

In Guest Blogger, writing on November 25, 2012 at 12:01 am

As a children’s author myself, I am particularly pleased to welcome this week’s Guest Blogger, Valerie Allen. Valerie, who also presents workshops on the same subject, shares her philosophies on targeting specific audiences, and what to take into account when doing so. Welcome, Valerie, and thank you for being my guest.

To successfully reach their target audience, children’s writers must keep in mind four basic considerations: the child’s age, grade, reading level, and interests.

Age Level                                                                                                                             Most children enjoy reading about characters who are a few years older than they are. Children want to reach beyond their peers and experience possible future events in the here and now as they read. Most children’s books are written within an age range, for example, 6 to 9 years or 10 to 12 years.

Grade Level                                                                                                                       Grade level is usually an indication of a child’s reading skills, such as phonics, sight words, and comprehension. Books do not have to be written at an exact grade level, but within a grade range, such as preschool through Kindergarten, or sixth through eighth grade. Most computers can easily provide the reading level by grade. This is often written as 3.2 meaning third grade second month or 7.9, which means seventh grade ninth month. Keep in mind grade levels are based on the school year with September as the first month. A reading level of 4.5 would indicate the youngster is in January of the fourth grade.

Reading Level
A child’s reading level is not always the same as his or her grade level. Reading is based on comprehension as well as word attack skills.

There are 250 basic sight words, which make up approximately 70% of all reading. Most children have mastered these words by the end of third grade. Basic sight words are typically one, two, or three-letter words. An informal way to check your sight words is to highlight all of the little words on a given page of writing.
Books based on hobbies and interests are varied and must be written within the youngster’s age, grade, and reading level. Vocabulary is critical in these books and the author often includes an index of terms and definitions, with or without diagrams. Both fiction and nonfiction can be used to engage youngsters in reading about their hobby or interest. Using the solar system as an example, you can write a book that:

1.  Describes the solar system and encourages learning and understanding
2. Provides facts, greatest moments, or important figures in space exploration
3.  Tells a story involving a child who wants to walk on the moon.

As adults we can make an instant connection with others when we mention Dick and Jane, Nancy Drew, or The Hardy Boys. Today’s young readers will connect with Hop on Pop, Harry Potter, and Pippy Longstocking. Helping children read for pleasure and information is the primary goal for an author of a children’s book. Creating those enjoyable memories that last a life time is the reward of writing for children.

Valerie Allen, psychologist, author, and speaker writes fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books. Her two books for children in grades three to five are, Summer School for Smarties and Bad Hair, Good Hat, New Friends. She presents writing workshops for authors based on her book,Write, Publish, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged.

Buy on          Website           Facebook

Write, Publish, Sell! by Valerie Allen - Book cover

Guest Post: Cat Trades Up – Leaves Life of Pizza Boxes Behind

In Guest Blogger, Pets on November 11, 2012 at 12:01 am

I always love it when my guests blog about their pets and share their views on animal welfare. This week’s post, by the lovely Magdalena Vandenberg, is no exception.  A very big welcome to you, Magdalena! Thank you for being my guest and sharing Minnie Moo’s story with us.

I can often be heard jokingly telling others that I’m a cat lady in training.Magdalena Vandenberg on Amelia Curzon's blog - Carte Blanche

Without a shadow of any doubt, I’m showing early signs of becoming a stylish spinster sitting alone in her over-stuffed comfy chair watching re-runs of Homeland and The Mentalist while surrounded by the love, or perceived love, of lazy fluff-balls.

Cats are my weakness.

There’s just something about them that resonates with me. Aloof, needy yet detached, loving yet fiercely independent. Always hungry and addicted to napping, these are all admirable traits, and say a lot about me.

I should add here, I love dogs too. I just love cats a little more. They’re infinitely easier to sneak past the landlord’s “no cats allowed” policy.

From pint size pets to the might of the larger beasts, the animal world fascinates me.  And I can’t for the life of me think why anyone would want to purposefully inflict harm, or treat them with malice and ill intent.

This riles me. It goes against my DNA. Maybe I’m too idealistic, but at the very least everyone, person, animal, inanimate object deserves respect. Right?

I’m a firm believer if you own a pet, or any animal it’s your responsibility to give the critter love, food, shelter, attention and a safe place to call home.

I simple don’t get it when people abuse this privilege.

Years ago, I was in Sydney, Australia, driving home from work down a busy commuter road.  While crawling along at a snail’s pace, I remember looking out the window at the most adorable scene. This young boy, he was about twelve years old, was walking while carrying a cute-as-a-button white fluffy small dog.

In the blink of an eye, to my horror, and out of nowhere, the boy started to hit the little dog with his angry fists. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.

Incensed and without any hesitation, I plied on the brakes, stopped the car in the middle of the road, left my keys in the ignition, and marched over to the boy.

“Stop that!” I shouted. “Stop that, right this minute. Stop being cruel to the dog.”

I remember my ranting went something like… “You can’t do that to the dog. What’s this poor little dog ever done to you? Stop being a bully.”

All I heard was, “but, but but…”

I continued on in my sterner by the minute voice… “If you don’t stop being mean to the dog, I’m going to report you.”

It was then I could see tears prick in his eyes as he said, sorry.

“Thank you for apologizing, but don’t say sorry to me, say sorry to your dog.”

Walking back to my car, I was oblivious to the honking horns of the irate drivers and the traffic jam I had caused. Driving off, all I cared about was that little white dog. I had to trust and hope he would be ok.

Fifteen years later, I clearly recall the incident, and hand on heart, I would do exactly the same thing.

Mention cats, animals and my heart melts. Particularly the underdogs (sorry cats, it’s just a figure of speech) who’ve had a rough start, but given half a chance have a whole lot of love to give.

Minnie MooThat’s why I fell in love with Minnie Moo.

One day, I left the back door open. The next day, I had a cat. It was as simple as that.

Naturally, I went around the neighborhood asking everyone and anyone if they were missing a boy cat. No one claimed him, and to this day I think he was abandoned. Just left behind like an unwanted piece of furniture.

At that time I lived opposite a Pizza Restaurant, and my theory is he just got tired of sleeping in pizza boxes and eating left over salami. Once Minnie Moo walked through my open door, there was no turning back. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A little bit about Magdalena Annegie VandenBerg

Born to Dutch parents, Magdalena was born in New Zealand. But unlike the flightless kiwi bird, as soon as she could she spread her wings to live and work in Sydney for twelve years.

The career opportunity of a lifetime beckoned as Magdalena travelled the world working in marketing and PR for the creative genius of Cirque du Soleil.

Now back in the land of sixty-four million sheep, Magdalena is pursuing her life long dream of writing.

Her first children’s e-book, Minnie Moo, The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Cat is out now and available on most e-book formats. This story is ideal for children reading chapter books.

The book is in part, a tribute to the little white dog. An inspirational tail with a big message; it’s always ok to do the right thing. It’s never ok to be a bully.

Magdalena’s second e-book is her first foray into contemporary romance. Love in the Vines, tells the story of food, wine, love and betrayal. Like wine, loves begins in the vines. Betrayal begins in the heart of a marriage.

The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Cat - Book Cover

Love in the Vines - Book Cover

My Blog – Magdalena VandenBerg

Minnie Moo’s Blog




Love in the Vines on Amazon

Minnie Moo on Amazon

Guest Post: Safety in a Not So Normal World by Juli D Revezzo

In Guest Blogger, Internet Safety on November 5, 2012 at 1:32 am

A big welcome to my guest for the week, Juli D Revezzo. Here Juli questions why we are so willing to trust our cyber friends whilst telling our children never to talk to strangers.

When Amelia asked me to write about an issue for her blog, in all honesty, I drew a blank. I don’t tend to write issue related stories; I write my stories to give a reader a good time, or as in the case of The Artist’s Inheritance, a good scare. There, I wrote about a normal woman, hoping to live a normal life after the death of her brother-in-law. Instead, she finds out her husband isn’t having such a normal time of it.

I guess the biggest issue in the story is that of knowing whom to trust. The main character meets a man who says he can take his career to bigger and better heights—things he’s undoubtedly heard before. But there’s something about this offer that he trusts.

On the other hand, the artist’s wife, Caitlin, has other impressions of the dude. She doesn’t like this guy at all. She senses something very odd, and indeed, deadly about him.

Have you ever had such impressions of people? Have you trusted strangers? No; not much you say?

Are you on the Internet?

Do you have cyber friends?

Ah, now that’s a different story, isn’t it?

So, here we are, intelligent beings we think, and we teach our children “don’t talk to strangers” yet every day we “talk” to people online who, we give our trust to in good faith that the man or woman on the other end is in fact, a nice person. How do you know, really?

Parents, you can do your part to teach them how to remain safe. If you have open communication with your child (and we hope you do!) teach them that if someone on Facebook makes a friend request and your child don’t know how he or she knows them, they can ignore the friend request. If someone makes your child uncomfortable, tell them to unfriend and tell you what happened!

Perhaps putting the computer in a communal spot where you can keep an eye on them when they use it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Teach your children not to take everyone at (excuse the pun) face value. Or anyone, for that matter. If your instincts say not to trust this person, don’t “friend” them. Parents, don’t fight with your child about it; just tell them you’re concerned and that a modicum of skepticism can go a long way. The world isn’t all hearts and flowers, peace and love, no matter how much we wish it to be. Better safe than sorry.

After all, even my poor character Trevor learns not even help from the Otherworld can be trusted, doesn’t he? Imps, according to myth, can exist anywhere, why not in cyberspace? Unfortunately, I bet they’re not as easy to vanquish as Trevor and Caitlin’s imp turns out to be.

If you’d like to learn a little more about Internet safety, see these sites:
FBI – Kids Safety
Net Nanny
Kids News Room

If you’d like to know more about my novel, here’s a taste:

The Artist’s Inheritance

The Artist's Inheritance - Book coverTrouble only a witch can solve…
Settling into their new home in Gulf Breeze, Florida, Caitlin finds strange changes coming over her husband Trevor. He seems obsessed with a beautiful chair he’s carving.

When the nightmares deepen and ghosts begin lurking—she knows something’s not right, and not just her newfound precognitive abilities. It’s the damned chair, she’s sure. Could it be just what it seems: a mundane piece of furniture? If so, why is it attracting dark forces—the forces she suspects drove Trevor’s siblings to insanity and suicide?

Before the same happens to Trevor, Caitlin must convince him to sell his art. But armed with only a handful of allies, and little experience of the supernatural, she must proceed with caution against the hellish forces besieging her family. If she succeeds, she will break the ancestral curse. If she fails, she may lose forever the one thing she cares about most: her beloved Trevor.

An Excerpt from The Artist’s Inheritance

This is a little about Gordon…He’s Caitlin’s (the main character) deceased brother-in-law. He was…a little odd. Read on and you’ll see…

The thought of an afternoon cleaning Gordon’s work shed did nothing for her spirits. But the project needed doing, and just as Trevor couldn’t look at Gordon’s photographs for long, he still couldn’t bring himself to enter the small structure. He said there was something spooky about the room.

Caitlin ducked her head in, stepped inside. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to her. So, she braided her hair out of her face and set to work.

She cataloged all the bent and crumpled pictures—and there were many. Flipping through them, she noted several shots of Fort Pickens, of the garden, the house, and a few sites around town and lastly, several pictures of Amelia. All these proofs seemed just smaller versions of the photographs up in their attic. She made a pile of them for sending to her sister-in-law.

Next, she turned to the leftover silver nitrate and carried the canisters of it and other chemicals to safe chemical dumps. Then she threw away every empty film roll she could find. She called Amelia and offered to send her the camera equipment, but Amelia refused.

“Do what you want with it, Cait. He didn’t trust me with it, so I don’t see any point in keeping it.”

Gordon didn’t trust her? How peculiar.

What’s up with Amelia and why’s she so bitter towards her late husband? You’ll have to read to find out!

About Juli D. Revezzo
Juli D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics and has a soft spot for classic the “Goths” of the 19th century. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly. She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling. She is a member of the Independent Author Network. The Artist’s Inheritance is her first novel.

The Artist’s Inheritance is available at:

Barnes and Noble
And in paperback at Createspace

I hope you enjoy their story. Thanks, Amelia for inviting me here today!

For more information on Juli and her books, see her website

Amazon Author Page

Triple Trouble: Choosing a School for My Kids Shouldn’t Be so Hard by Alisse Lee Goldenberg

In Education, Guest Blogger on October 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I am very proud to introduce my new guest, and début guest blogger, Alisse Lee Goldenberg, with her educational dilemma. Not only does she write, she is also the mother of triplets under the age of two. Welcome, Alisse, and thank you so much for taking the time, during your undoubtedly busy schedule, to write here.

For this blog post, I was asked to write about something I deeply care about. At first I was unsure about what I shouldAlisse Lee Goldenberg on Amelia Curzon's Blog - Carte Blanche write. I could write about being a writer, or about my cultural heritage, or about the environment, all things that are extremely important to me. But then I thought, “What is the single most important thing in the world?” and the answer to that question came easily: my kids. After all, they were the ones I originally wrote my first novel for.

In February of 2011, I gave birth to triplets: two boys, and a girl. The instant they were born, my whole perspective on life shifted. I was no longer the centre of my own existence. They were the people I lived for. (My husband is very understanding about this fact.) They are who I write for, tell stories to, work for, etc. Those little faces are the first ones I want to see in the morning, and the last ones I want to see at night. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not a helicopter parent; I let them make mistakes, be adventurous, take risks. At this age, this mainly constitutes trying new and daring things like climbing my furniture, fighting with each other, or riding the dog. Everyone I know sees my husband and me with our kids and they tell us how shocked they are that we are so calm. This strikes me as an odd comment to make. If I stressed out, or freaked out over every bump, bruise, sniffle or cough, I would be freaking out every second of every day, and a stressed out parent will inevitably lead to a stressed out child.

What prompted this blog was the fact that I am stressing out right now.  This coming February, my kids are going to be two years old. Now, this isn’t some big crisis along the lines of “Oh no! My babies are growing up!” it’s more along the lines of my friends with kids the same age are asking me where they’re going to go to school for junior kindergarten. This has me looking long and hard at my priorities.  I would like them to have a religious, Jewish education like I did growing up, while I would also like them to understand music and the arts. In an ideal world, there would be a school that taught everything, but this is very clearly not am ideal world. If you look at the state of public education in Ontario, it is a shambles. Teachers are on work to rule, where they have largely stopped all extracurricular activities such as: sports teams, dances, performances, field trips, and concerts. They are doing this to protest wage freezes and anti-strike legislation by the government that goes against their rights. I support this in theory; I just hate how it hurts the students.  Furthermore, we now have this “no man left behind” mentality where teachers are not allowed to give zeros, or failing marks. Really? If you don’t do an assignment that means you don’t pass. Parents can argue for their kids to get better grades, and this routinely happens. All this teaches a kid is that they can skate through in life, and not try. They don’t have to put in any effort. I feel they are in for a rude awakening when they graduate.

Private schools that my husband and I are also looking at have the religious education, but many of them are lacking in the arts department. He went to school and had bands he could play in. I had a choir and no instrumental education aside from after school piano classes.  I don’t know where to turn here. I don’t want to make a wrong decision for my kids. I just don’t know what’s right at this point.  Part of me wants to just throw in the towel and home school.  Then I think “Yeah right. They’ll graduate with a full knowledge about fantasy, folklore, and music composition.” But in the end,  would that really be so bad?


Alisse Lee Goldenberg is an author of Young Adult fantasy fiction. She has her Bachelors of Education and a Fine Arts degree, and has studied fantasy and folk lore since she was a child. Alisse lives in Toronto with her husband Brian, their triplets Joseph, Phillip, and Hailey, and their rambunctious Goldendoodle Sebastian. Her début novel The Strings of the Violin is now available for purchase.

Visit Alisse’s Website

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The Strings of the Violin by Alisse Lee Goldenberg - Book cover

Find Your Passion, Find Happiness!

In Guest Blogger, writing on October 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

This week I am delighted to introduce my guest, author Marianne Spitzer, with her heart-felt post telling us about her various passions. One of which, of course, is writing. Welcome Marianne and thank you so much for being my guest.

There are many issues I feel passionate about. The first is my faith. I believe a relationship with God is the most Marianne Spitzer - Profile image on http://www.acblogger.wordpress.comimportant relationship I can have. If I trust in Him things will turn out the way they should.

I am also passionate about health issues. Cancer is the biggest of these. It has taken too many people from me including my grandmother, father and my son-in-law when he was only 37.

I am an emotional writer and when something happens in my life I write about it. It is usually the length of a short story, but after the words are on paper, I feel better. I write out feelings I can’t say out loud. It is very therapeutic, at least for me.

I have been writing since the sixth grade when my teacher told my mom that she should make sure I write something every day because someday I would write a book. I thought about it for years, but life has a way of detouring our plans. A husband, children, grandchildren, and all the joy and pain that come from life kept me from starting that novel. I had an idea and maybe thinking about it for years made it easier to write.

I divorced, my children grew up and left home and now my grandchildren do quite well without grandma around all the time. It was then that I decided it was time to tackle a novel. I also have rheumatoid arthritis which keeps me from doing a lot of outdoor physical activities. My lap top became a good friend. I am a night owl and I find the night a wonderful time to write mysteries and dream up plots and scenarios.

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to publish a novel and not sure how to go about it. I decided to first write short stories that I had told my granddaughter, Brittney, when she was young. I self-published Princess Brittney Stories to minimal success. It got my feet wet as they say and I tried a book of essays and I had a bit more success. I was ready to self-publish my first novel, Gypsy Spirits. When it began to sell, I was excited. I had already begun a second novel, The Letter, and also self-published it. It has been my best seller to date. I have finished writing the sequel to Gypsy Spirits entitled Annamarie and Magdalena. I am in the midst of editing it and will begin a sequel to The Letter during this November’s NaNoWriMo.

Since writing is my passion, I find it has helped me deal with the difficulties in my life caused by my Rheumatoid Arthritis. While others may be able to run and jump and go to fairs and carnivals walking from place to place, I can get lost in a world of my own making. A world no one except me understands. It’s a wonderful world where I can decide how my characters come to life or leave it. It’s a fun thing to do and I enjoy it immensely.

I feel passionately about the fact that everyone needs something to take them to a place that calms them and makes them happy. Our world is stressful and frightening at times. I find my calm place writing. I suggest you find yours whether it is knitting, woodworking, hiking, photography, or any of a number of things. Enjoy the happy things in your life and be blessed.


Hi, I am a grandma of two wonderful grandkids and writing is my passion. I began writing when I was in grade school and never stopped. Everything about writing excites me. I love summer and star light, but snow and ice make my dislikes list. I love to read of course and some of my favorite writers are Wendy Corsi Staub, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. When I want something a bit scarier, I read Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft. Of course you can’t beat classics such as Dracula and Frankenstein. I prefer books over movies and have always loved mysteries since I picked up my first Nancy Drew book a long time ago.

My blog


Marianne Spitzer, Writer on FB

Marianne Spitzer, Author

Books by Marianne Spitzer

Gypsy Spirits on Amazon - Book cover Princess Brittney Stories on AmazonThe Letter on Amazon - Book cover The Hair Comb and The Crystal Ball on Amazon - Book cover

Annamarie and Magdalena - Coming soon - Book cover

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