Write On, Wednesday: Debut Crime Writer Elizabeth Heiter Shares her Profiling Love & New Book!

By Leslie Lindsay Front Cover_Final

I’ll admit to being a voracious reader. But I have one guilty pleasure: my couch, a bowl of ice cream, and an episode of “Criminal Minds.” Since today happens to be Wednesday, debut psychological crime writer Elizabeth Heiter (HUNTED, Mira, 2013) is here with us to talk about her fascination with crimial profiling, getting that first book out, what’s obsessing her and more!  Oh, and she’s generously offered a signed copy of HUNTED to one lucky reader (see end of post for details).

L.L.: Many thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Elizabeth! A writer myself, I know there’s always a kernel of truth to every story, and a deeper reason for the drive to write. Can you give us a glimpse into your early days as a writer?

EH: Thank you so much for inviting me to visit!  I think it’s true that many writers have a “need” to write, plus a desire to entertain, to inform, and to explore themes and ideas.

From the time I was very, very young, I loved stories – both listening to them and creating them.  I started writing fiction back in elementary school and I co-wrote my first completed novel-length manuscript (with a friend who is still my critique partner to this day!) in high school.  Writing has always been a passion for me, and I always knew I wanted to write suspense in particular.

L.L.: I’m currently in the last half of HUNTED, and must say I’m dying (okay, bad pun) to know how it ends. I know you won’t give away the ending, but tell us a little about how you got interested in such gritty crimes?

EH: Thanks, Leslie!  I’m so happy you’re engrossed in the story!  You know, one of the things that has always drawn me to suspense is that at the end of the story, you get some kind of closure, some kind of justice.  And that’s something that doesn’t always happen in real life.

As for the gritty, dark crime scenes I write about, what originally interested me in telling this story was the profiling side of it.  Often, when a profiler is needed, the crime is not only particularly difficult to solve, but also particularly horrible.  Something that I noticed when doing the research was the number of this type of crime (serial murder) where the victims were women and the perpetrators were men.  Sexualized violence and violence against women, as well as the prevalence of that kind of crime in our society, is something that I wanted to talk about – especially from the perspective of a female Special Agent in a male-dominated profession (the FBI is 80% men).

Criminal-Minds.svgL.L.: You must have had to do a lot of research? So much of HUNTED reads as if it’s taken straight from a “Criminal Minds” episode or “CSI.”

EH: I did a ton of research.  What fascinates me about profiling is the idea that someone can look at a crime scene without the typical means for solving it and still tell investigators what kind of person committed the crime – and how to find him.  The type of cases that tend to get profilers are those where there’s no obvious motive, no clear suspects, and no helpful forensic evidence.  Oftentimes, the perpetrator doesn’t even know the victims, so looking at the usual suspects – people who knew the victim or people who held some sort of grudge – isn’t going to solve the case.

I knew I wanted to write about someone who could see beyond the typical – who could look at a crime scene and see things like what sort of job the perpetrator probably held, whether he was married, why he was killing.  To do that, I had to understand it myself.  So, I spent many, many, many hours studying real cases, actual profiles, and abnormal psychology.  After I did that, I started testing myself – I’d pick a solved case and go through only the information about the crime known to the investigators, then try to write a profile and see how close I came to describing the person who had ultimately been convicted for the crime.  Once I felt confident with that, I began creating the Bakersville Burier for HUNTED.

L.L.: In perusing your website, I see HUNTED is the first in a series. How did you ever get so lucky? In fact, I counted five total (upcoming) books with your name on the cover! Can you share a bit about your success?

EH: Thank you so much!  Believe me, I was definitely pinching myself when those two calls came, letting me know I’d sold two suspense books (HUNTED, and the sequel, VANISHED) and three romantic suspense (in my Lawmen Series, out next year).  It was a long journey to get to that point.  I submitted to agents and editors for nine years before I received those calls, and was rejected more than a hundred times over six or so manuscripts first.  But I love writing novels too much to give up, so I kept going, and those rejections started turning into interest, and then the “close calls” began happening.  Those years of trying weren’t wasted – I can see my progress over the course of those completed and partial manuscripts I wrote.  And I hope that journey and progress never stops!

L.L.: What advice would you give to writers slogging away on that first manuscript?

EH: My advice would be to keep working, keep learning, and get involved with other writers – if you have a local writing organization you can join, it makes a nice difference.  Not only can they offer great insight on craft and the business, but it’s nice to talk to other writers facing the same challenges.  I also think it’s important to celebrate the successes.  This is a difficult business, and sometimes we get so focused on getting to the next step that we forget to celebrate our accomplishments.

My critique partner and I used to have a system where we’d give ourselves a writing goal each week, and award ourselves a point for each goal achieved.  Then, when we made ten points, we’d go out and reward ourselves.  Having that accountability to someone else increased the likelihood of making the individual goals.  I also think it helped keep us from getting burned out or discouraged because we were reaching smaller goals along the way to the ultimate goal of publication.

My last piece of advice is something that Suzanne Brockmann said to me many, many years ago: to paraphrase, she told me that the difference between an unpublished writer and a published author is perseverance.  That really stuck with me – in fact, I wrote it down and put it on an “inspiration” corkboard by my desk.

L.L.: How about agents? How long did it take to find yours? Advice, tips? Favorite websites?

EH: I submitted for five years before I signed with an agent.  I did have an offer of representation before that, but after a lot of thought, I turned it down because it didn’t feel right to me.  Ultimately, another author who heard me read part of a manuscript recommended me to her agent, and I ended up signing with her.  (This is another benefit of writer’s organizations, by the way – this author heard me read at a local chapter critique night, and that networking led to me submitting to the agent who’s now represented me for almost six years.)

My advice for anyone agent hunting is first and foremost, to do your homework.  Before you submit, make sure you’re targeting the right agent inside that agency, and make sure the agency is reputable.  Websites I’d recommend for that would be Predators and Editors, Association of Authors Representatives, and Absolute Write Water Cooler.  When you do have an offer, read the contract carefully, and have a discussion with the agent about all the things that are important to you, including the vision you have for your writing career and how the agent plans to help you reach it.

L.L.: What is obsessing you right now?

EH: I’m in desperately-want-to-read mode right now (probably because I’m on deadline and don’t have time to pleasure read much at all!).  What that means is that I keep perusing bookstores and picking up new authors I haven’t read, and adding them to my TBR pile.  I absolutely love that feeling when you discover a brand-new author you’ve never read and as soon as you finish the first book, you go out and immediately get every other book they’ve written.  I’m in the mood for that kind of binge read, and I’m going to get back to the search as soon as I finish writing my next book!

Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a NovelL.L. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

EH: Spending time with family and friends is at the top of that list.  My niece and nephews are at such fun ages right now, I’m trying to see them as much as possible.  I also recently got back into downhill skiing after a long break from it, and had a great time.  I’m not quite back to the jumps and backward skiing I used to be able to do, but I’m determined to get there!

L.L.: What are you currently reading?

EH: I’ve started Suzanne Brockmann’s DO OR DIE, but I haven’t gotten far because of that deadline I’m on.  Once I finish that book, I’ll be digging into one of the new authors I picked up recently.  I read really fast, so once I get a little stretch of reading time, I tend to race through books, meaning I like to have a few lined up!

L.L.: Thanks so much for being with us today, Elizabeth! 

EH: Thank you for having me here!  I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog and I’m thrilled to be a part of it!Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

And now for the GIVE-A-WAY!! Elizabeth has generously offered a give-a-way of her new release, HUNTED (Mira, December 2013). All YOU have to do is (choose one) 1) tell me  your favorite character on “Criminal Minds,” OR 2) Share a link of this interview via Facebook, email, Twitter, Pinterest, GoodReads, other.  You can do this by leaving a comment on the blog!  “I shared, please enter me in the contest.” Good luck!!*

Author Bio:

ElizabethHeiterWebELIZABETH HEITER likes her suspense to feature strong heroines, chilling villains, psychological twists, and a little bit (or a lot!) of romance. Her research has taken her into the minds of serial killers, through murder investigations, and onto the FBI Academy’s shooting range.

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature.  She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and Romance Writers of America.  Fresh Fiction called her debut suspense, HUNTED, “a roller coaster ride that will twist, turn and spin you around until the very last page!”

For more about Elizabeth, her books, and appearances:

 *Give-a-way Fine Print: Open to U.S. residents only. One entry per person please. Must let us know you shared by contributing a comment on the blog (otherwise, we don’t know you shared the interview). Comments open Wednesday, March 12th thru Saturday March 15th.  You will be contacted via email if you are the winner. Please respond promoptly with your mailing address. Check your spam/junk folders. Books will be mailed from Michigan by the author when the contest closes. Please allow ample time for the book to reach you.

[phone image retrieved from http://cornerkick.blogspot.com/2013_03_01_archive.html on 3.5.14, “Crimimal Minds: logo from Wikipedia on 3.5.12, author image and cover image courtesy of Elizabeth Heiter]

And the Winner is…

By Leslie Lindsay

Thanks all for your interest in RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA author interview and give-a-way!  I am pleased to announce a WINNER!

Nila S…your name was selected to received a FREE copy of the book. This now concludes the contest. Thanks for all you for being loyal blog readers and for sharing the post!

Good books rock!

[image source: firstgradeblueskies.blogspot.com retrieved 1.27.14]

Write On, Wednesday: Author Emily Liebert of YOU KNEW ME WHEN

By Leslie Lindsay 2012.02.20_Emily Lieb_5CE0B

Have I got a treat today!  Debut novelist Emily Liebert is here to talk about books, friendship, social media, agents, and nailpolish. Oh, and that includes a give-a-way! Not just one, but TWO lucky winners will receive a copy of her book, YOU KNEW ME WHEN (NAL Trade, 2013) and custom-designed nailpolish.

LL: Emily, thank you so very much for agreeing to be on Write On, Wednesday!  The fun part of our connection is we found each other on Twitter.  In what ways has social media brought the world of books closer to readers, and do you ever consider social media to be a burden to book lovers?

Emily Liebert: My pleasure! Love that we found each other via Twitter. 😉

I don’t consider social media to be a burden in any way! I think it’s opened up a worldwide conversation that’s truly revolutionary. My first book, FACEBOOK FAIRYTALES, which is narrative non-fiction is an anthology of 25 amazing stories that evolved from Facebook connections. So I’ve done a good deal of research in this area. As far as the literary space, there’s nothing I enjoy more than interacting with my fans via social media, learning what books people are reading and loving, and meeting amazing colleagues like yourself!

LL: Your book, YOU KNEW ME WHEN is about the staying power of female friendships. In such a connected world today, what factors do you think contribute to lost friendships?  Do find the phenomenon somewhat ironic given all of the devices we have to stay connected?

Emily Liebert: As you point out, it’s pretty hard to “lose” anyone these days. Unfortunately, people still fight, which leads to falling outs. I think it reminds us that, despite all of these devices to stay connected, fundamentally you still need to be able to get along!

YKMW--CoverLL: The women in YOU KNEW ME WHEN reconvene at a Victorian mansion.  How does the house become part of the landscape, and/or contribute overall character development?  In some stories, inanimate objects become personified; do you feel the mansion becomes a character in a sense?

Emily Liebert: Well, Luella’s Victorian mansion is in Vermont…[and] I do think it became a character in a way. I love this question, because it was something I gave a lot of thought to when considering what the cover might look like. One idea (the one we didn’t end up using) was to have the house on the cover. Luella’s home and the inanimate objects in it embody her in so many ways, from start to finish. Her home also played an intricate roll in the relationships formed between Luella, Laney, and Katherine/Kitty.

LL: Many folks can only dream of writing a book.  What advice would you give to serious writers on pursuing their dream?

Emily Liebert: Write what you know. Write what you’re passionate about. Write often. Develop a thick skin. There will be rejections. There will be doors slammed in your face. Kick them in!

LL: Let’s move into agents.  What do you think you did right when looking for representation?  Tips?

Emily Liebert: I’ve had two agents and loved both of them. My current agent, Alyssa Reuben, at Paradigm is a literary goddess. I call her this often. She gets me. She gets my writing. She reads the kinds of books I write by other authors. She’s not only my agent, but a dear friend. You have to work with someone you’re comfortable with. Someone who pays attention to you and will fight for you. Alyssa is all of that and so much more.

LL: What are you currently reading?

Emily Liebert: ALL THE SUMMER GIRLS by Meg Donohue. I can’t wait to read Jane Green’s new novel, TEMPTING FATE, which comes out in March! Her writing is genius.

 LL: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

Emily Liebert: Therapist or chef.

LL:Finally, what’s next for you? More books?

Emily Liebert:My next novel WHEN WE FALL will publish with Penguin Random House in September 2014. After that, the plan is to write a novel every nine months. Livin’ the dream!

[image source: www.squidoo.com on 12.04.13.  Author and cover images courtesy E.Liebert]

And now for the give-a-way!  Emily has graciously offered TWO copies of her book, YOU KNEW ME WHEN and matching/cutomized nailpolish created for the book to TWO lucky blog readers.  All  you have to do share this interview via Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, Email, etc. and then let me know you shared by sending me a quick email at leslie_lindsay(at)hotmail.com, or by leaving a comment on this blog page.  It’s that easy!!*  Good luck!

*The Fine Print: Open to US resisdents only. Contest runs now (12.04.13) thru Friday (12.06.13 at 5pm). You will be contacted via email if your name is randomly selected.  Please be sure to check your “junk” or “spam” folders for an email from me. Respond promptly with your mailing address.  Books (and nailpolish!) will be mailed to you by an agent of Ms. Liebert.

Write On, Wednesday: Author Amy Sue Nathan Talks about her Debut Novel, THE GLASS WIVES

By Leslie Lindsay

Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

I am honored to introduce Amy Sue Nathan to “Write On, Wednesday.”  Amy is a mother of a college-age son, a high school daughter and two dogs.  She is also the recently published author of THE GLASS WIVES (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013).  She’s generously offered a complimentary copy of the book to one lucky reader.  Amy resides in the Chicagoland area.  I just started reading the book, and already I can tell it’s going to be a great journey.  (image retrieved 5.26.13 from Amazon.com)

Product Details

L2:  First—the book!  Congratulations on such a wonderful accomplishment many of us only dream about.  What’s it like to finally have your book “out there?” 

Amy Sue Nathan:Having my book out in the real world is surreal on one hand, and very tangible on the other. I have likened it to an expected surprise, like a baby. You know it’s going to happen, you’ve been preparing, you’ve read all the books, made all the plans—but when it happens, it’s still full of unknowns, twists, turns, and surprises. Hopefully, most of them good surprises!

L2: THE GLASS WIVES is all about family.  Of course, many women readers can relate to that topic, but what makes THE GLASS WIVES different is that it is based on this idea of an unconventional family.  How do you see the vision of ‘family’ changing in the 21st century? 

Amy Sue Nathan: I think what is changing is the idea of what is unconventional.  One of the reasons I wanted to write a novel about a “newfangled” family was because I felt there was a lot of lip service given to families that weren’t mom/dad/kids.  I’d heard people say that family is what you need it to be, or want it to be, or what you make it, but when I divorced in 2002, after being with my ex for 20 years, all of a sudden (or so it seemed), I was not longer part of a full-fledged family in the eyes of many people, and in a way, even to myself. I wondered where all the acceptance had gone and realized it was idea of a single mom family that people (or the people in my life) were okay with, but the actual fact of it, no, they didn’t really deal well with it. I had to get a grip on it, so I did. But most people still look at a single-parent headed household as a whole missing a part. I think that once people actually accept families as equal in weight, no matter their configuration, then the vision of family will actually resemble the fact of family.

L2: As I was looking over your website, I came across your definition of family, “home isn’t broken unless there isn’t love inside it’s walls.”  Do you believe that home truly is where the heart is?  Can you expand a bit on this quote? 

Amy Sue Nathan: I’m a homebody. No matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, I’m always drawn toward my home, which for the past 14 years has been a ranch house in a tiny suburb of Chicago. I shudder when someone refers to kids of divorce being from a broken home. Often, divorce fixes a family more than it breaks it.  Obviously the word “broken” has negative connotations, and that bothers me. I may have a broken chair in the dining room, but neither my home, nor my family, is broken.  It’s the matter of another perception of unconventional families that I try to dispel in THE GLASS WIVES. 

L2:  How did you arrive at the title, THE GLASS WIVES?  I am assuming a sense of fragility, the fact that families can crumble and break…or was there something more? 

Amy Sue Nathan: Honestly? The book had several different titles, but the one that stuck was The Glass House. Then, about six weeks before my agent was going to start submitting to editors I was working on a final edit or two and the title hit me. The book was about The Glass Wives. I knew at that moment it was a keeper.  And yes, there is an element of the metaphorical glass, and also the literal. The main characters’ last name is Glass.

L2: On to agents…can you give us writers some sense of what your journey was like when you set out to find an agent?  What advice would you give a writer who is determined to have their work represented

Amy Sue Nathan: It might be cliché to say DON’T GIVE UP but it’s the truth. I’ve come across many aspiring authors who send a dozen queries and stop.  If someone is determined to be published traditionally, as I was, then they need to be in it for the long haul.  I sent 116 queries over 10 months before signing with my agent, Jason Yarn, of Paradigm.  I’d also recommend listening to any advice any agent gives you.  You don’t have to follow the advice, but it’s a good idea to think about it, see if it makes sense, and make changes if need be.  Another thing to do is to continue writing while you’re querying.  Write short stories or a new book or essays or something else to remind you why you’re sending queries.  That’s because you want to keep writing and you want to be published by a publisher.

L2:   You’ve been blogging since 2006 as a “mommy blogger.”  Would you say this was the beginning of your writing career, or was this simply a by-product of your love for writing?  [Be sure to check out Amy’s blog Women Fiction Writers at http://womensfictionwriters.wordpress.com/]

Amy Sue Nathan:My professional writing career started in the 1980’s. I was a writer at a few nonprofit organizations and corporations before becoming a fulltime stay-at-home mom.  I had a variety of part-time jobs over the years, some included writing and some did not.  I started writing for myself again around the time leading up to my divorce, when I realized the only creative thing I was doing was adding peas and carrots to macaroni and cheese. In 2006 I went on a date (a one-date-only date) and the guy asked me if I’d ever considered blogging, because my writing style in the emails we’d exchanged seemed really suited to it.  I never saw him again, but that week I started a blog, and by the end of the year I’d had my first essay published in The Chicago Tribune, where I published pieces in about 10 issues through 2009.

L2: WomenFictionWriters.com was founded in 2011.  Can you tell us a little more about your blog and what type of resources exist there

Amy Sue Nathan: I started the blog because I was looking for a place to connect with other writers who wrote what I define as women’s fiction—which are stories about a women’s journey that do not center on a romantic relationship, at all. At this point I’m seeing that there are many definitions for the genre, and a bunch of perceptions, not all of which I like, but to each her own. Right?  At WFW I try to focus on the authors, books, and craft of women’s fiction. I interview authors and often it’s as much about the author as a person, his or writing and life, as it is about the book.  The craft posts are really popular, because I think so many writing posts are either very generic or very specific—and on WFW we try to bring everything back to women’s fiction, which doesn’t happen many other places.

L2: Can you give us aspiring writers some words of wisdom on the craft? 

Amy Sue Nathan: My most recent advice to myself is to separate business from craft.  When I’m writing I can’t think about selling the book or even about the readers, I just have to tell the story in the best way I can.  There will hopefully be time later to think about the needs and wants of others. Writing, even when you want to publish, has to be selfish at first. Write YOUR story as YOU see it.  Tweak it later.  But never write to the market because by the time you’re finished, the market will have changed. Write on, Wednesday:  Decontrusting a Novel

L2: Finally, will we be hearing more from you?  What’s next?  Another book?  Can you give us a glimpse inside?

Amy Sue Nathan: My work-in-progress is about a single mom, blogging, secrets, and lies—and where it all can lead if you’re not careful. Or even if you are.  [note from Leslie–this book was just sold to St. Martin’s yesterday!  Stay tuned]

Thank you for having me on your blog, Leslie!

Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

***WANT A COMPLIMENTARY COPY OF THE GLASS WIVES?***  Of course you do!!  Just drop me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail with “GLASS WIVES” in subject line.  Tell me to enter you in the give-a-way.  I will.  Pay attention…I’ll contact you by email if you name is chosen at random.  Contest ends Friday, May 31st.  Good luck!! (Your email won’t be saved, or used for anything else–just the contest!)

Amy Sue Nathan‘s debut novel, THE GLASS WIVES, published by St. Martin’s Press May 2013.  In addition to blogging, her stories and essays have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times online, The Washington Post online, The Huffington Post, Chicago Parent, Grey Sparrow Journal, Rose and Thorn Journal, Scribblers On The Roof, The Verb, Hospital Drive Journal and The Stone Hobo. She’s also a freelance fiction editor, and a reader for literary agents.  I’ve also been fortunate to contribute to four amazing writing sites, Writer Unboxed, Beyond The Margins, The Book Pregnant Blog, and Girlfriends Book Club. I’m currently serving as Secretary for the RWA-WF chapter, a contributer to the Writer Unboxed newsletter, and a member of the 2013 Class at The Debutante Ball blog. 

Write on, Wednesay: Special Guest Heather Shumaker of “It’s OK NOT to Share”

By Leslie Lindsay It's OK Book cover

Today, I have  very special guest–Heather Shumaker, mom and author of It’s OK NOT to Share (Penguin/Tarcher, 2013).  This brand-new parenting book just hit the shelves this spring and is ranked #3 by Parents Magazine.  Heather and I met at the University of Wisconsin’s Writer’s Institute this past April.   Right away, I knew her message would resonate with me.  And then she graciously agreed to participate in an interview. 

Here, she explains the writing process and some great tips and ideas for parenting.  Best yet–there’s a give-a-way!!  Complimentary copy of IT’s OKAY NOT TO SHARE is coming your way if you are the lucky one whose name is drawn at random.  (See end of post for details).  Without further adieu…

L2:   Loving your book, Heather!  I just started reading it this week—outside—which is so refreshing after the long winter we’ve had here in the Midwest.  Not only is the weather sunny and warm—so is your writing style.  How do you weave in parenting topics in such a fun and joyful way?  At times, I almost forget I am reading…

Heather S.: Ah, thank you.  I developed my tone by working with a team of test readers.  Before the book was published, I gathered a group of willing parents with young children (and grandparents and preschool teachers).  I asked them directly if my style was too preachy or boring or confusing – and they told me!  I am trying to write to you as a friend and as an intelligent, caring reader.

L2: IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE is mostly inspired by two things:  the fact that you couldn’t find a suitable preschool for your own children, 5 year old Zach and 8 year old Myles, and you had fond memories of your alma mater, the School for Young Children (located in Columbus, OH).  Can you tell us a little more about your process of writing from conception to birth [of book]? 

Heather S.:  For years I waited for teachers at the School for Young Children (SYC) to write a book about their program. It’s so unique – for instance, they give kids mini boxing gloves and allow them to stage wrestling matches and other roughhousing games in the classroom.  The teachers there are a devoted group of child professionals, but they’re not writers.  I was able to be the messenger and share the wonder of their philosophy.author and family

I started by interviewing teachers at SYC and deciding which elements of their program were unique (boxing) and which were universal (kids eat a snack).  I chose the topics based on the unusual aspects, the tricky areas of parenting which are controversial or unfamiliar.  Topics like social rejection, weapon play, physical risk-taking, play, artistic expression, sharing and long turns. It’s all based on child development and all backed up with 40 years’ of success.

Then I went the traditional route for publishing, found an agent, sold a book proposal and wrote the book for an imprint of Penguin

L2: Can you share, too how you managed to complete such a wonderful volume of work while raising your kiddos?

Heather S.:  Plus paid childcare.  I worked part-time on the book so I really had to buckle down and work when the daycare clock was ticking.  My kids often provided inspiring quotes or anecdotes, so that was helpful, but as every parent knows, work and raising kids don’t mix easily.  Some days I got up at 4am to meet my chapter deadlines.

L2: Do you think the style of parenting varies from region to region?  For example, are Midwest parenting philosophies similar or different from say, those in New York City or San Francisco versus Santa Fe or New Orleans? 

Heather S.: Family culture varies tremendously, even within a region.  Parents in New York City feel parenting pressure perhaps more intensely than other parents, but there is a wide mix of parenting styles.  What seems to be a growing trend in the US – no matter where you live – is a fear of childhood.  Fear that children’s play isn’t safe or kind enough, fear of what other parents will say, fear that we’re not preparing kids for the tough academics in kindergarten.  It’s not in every family, but many adults are trying to fill childhood’s empty days and accelerate stages of development.

L2: Renegade Rules are a cornerstone of IT’S OK NOT TO SHARE, can you tell us what you think the most important Renegade Rule is and why? 

Heather S.: The book shares 29 renegade rules, but the overarching rule is what I call the Renegade Golden Rule: “It’s OK if it’s not hurting people or property.”  This helps you know when to set a limit on a child’s behavior and when to relax and find a way to allow their play.  Finding the right balance in setting limits is the key to parenting.

Besides the “Golden” rule, I do think my two favorites are the title rule, It’s OK Not to Share (so easy to implement, kids love it and you can abdicate your job as constant judge and referee!) and Only Punch Your Friends (a celebration of roughhousing and its enormous benefits).   [Gotta plug Heather’s YouTube video series where you can witness Renegade Rules in action with real kids.  They’re short, less than 1-minute and offer great inight.  See end of post for direct links]

L2: While the book is mostly geared towards younger children (ages 3-6 years), what—or how—can parents adapt your philosophies to fit older children, or even teenagers?  Maybe that’s a whole other book?! 

I haven’t found an upper age-limit.  My neighbor uses the book’s techniques on her college-aged children.  Others use them on their spouses.  Many ideas are basic ones about conflict mediation, communication and healthy emotional expression – ideas that can apply to all ages.

L2: Speaking of which, can we expect to see more from you in the future? 

Heather S.: More books are in the works – though the one I’m working on right now is fiction.  A ghost story for 8-12 year olds.

Thank you, thank you Heather!  Much informative and insightful! 

The Teacher is Talking:  Saying Bye Bye to Binky

You don’t really want to let this great parenting book slip through your hands, do you?  I didn’t think so!  To enter the drawing for a complimentary copy of IT’s OK NOT TO SHARE, all you need to do is comment on the blog or drop me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com.  A random name will be drawn Monday, May 20th by 5pm.  You will be contacted by email if you are the winner.  Open to U.S. residents only.  Good luck! 

You can find more of Heather, her Renegade Rules and It’s OK NOT to Share by heading over to her website –  www.heathershumaker.com,  author portrait Heather Shuamker

Bio –  Heather Shumaker is the author of It’s OK Not to Share…and Other Renegade Rules for Raising Competent and Compassionate Kids (Tarcher/ Penguin, 2012), named one of the Best Parenting Books of 2012 by Parents magazine.  You can learn more, watch videos and read a free sample chapter at www.heathershumaker.com.

The Teacher is Talking: 50 Rules for Sons by Tim Hoch

By Leslie Lindsay

“Set goals and work like hell to accomplish them. Later, you’ll realize the journey was far more enjoyable than the end result.” 

This is rule 03 in Tim Hoch’s new book, 50 Rules for Sons (released April 18, 2013).  What started as a letter to his son who was graduating from high school turned into a list of lessons the author wanted to share with him.  Great, too for recent college grads, Scouting organizations, youth groups, and more.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of today’s post to read about the give-a-way!  (image source: Amazon.com 5.14.13)

Perfect for the attention span of the 140-character generation (think Twitter), 50 Rules for Sons dispenses rapid-fire chunks of wisdom in the first half of the book, independent of any explanation.  But each “rule” has a backstory, which Tim Hoch explains–sometimes eloquently, other times bluntly, and almost always with some wit.  These backstories, are located–well–at the back of the book. 

Here are a few of my favorite rules:

  • Rule o6: “There are few people you will meet who are truly looking out for your best interest.  When you find someone who does, guard and treasure that relationship.” 
  • Rule 14:  “Try new things daily.” 
  • Rule 23:  “Most of your life your only company is yourself.  Like yourself.” 
  • Rule 31:  “Read leisurely for at least 30 minutes everyday.  It will increase your curiousty and broaden your point of view.” 

There are plenty others–but theses were the ones who resonated with me.  And I am not even a “son.”  Which goes to show this little book could be valuable for just about anyone.  It’s written in a straightforward, down-to-earth manner we can all apprciate.  I plan to send them to new grads on my list this spring….so go on and…Seize the day! 

Apraxia Monday:  He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-WayAnd now for the give-a-way!  Got a grad on your list who would benefit from 5o Rules for Sons?  Let me know by dropping me a line/making a comment on this blog post.  Tell me in 50 words or less what makes this young man special.  It will enter you into a drawing for a complimentary copy of 50 Rules for Sons!  Contest runs now thru Friday, May 17th at 5pm.  You will be contacted via email if your name is drawn.  Books will be mailed to you shortly thereafter.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

(image source: http://www.50rulesforsons.com/ 5.14.13)

Stacks Image 94

TIM HOCH has practiced law in Texas for more than 20 years. He lives in Fort Worth with his wife and three children where he serves as Vice Chair for Catholic Charities-Fort Worth and is on the Board of Directors for Frog Club at Texas Christian University.He is also a volunteer at The Assessment Center and Child Advocates of Tarrant County, two programs that assist abused children. He is working on his next book,50 Rules for Daughters. You can follow Tim’s blog here.


Apraxia Monday: He Talks Funny Author Jeanne Buesser & Give-a-Way

By Leslie Lindsay


For mother Jeanne Buesser, apraxia has been near and dear to her heart.  Her son–now a senior in high school–and doing well–suffers from the neurologically-based motor speech disorder.  Jeanne is also the president of the nonprofit grassroots organization, Apraxia Network of Bergen County (New Jersey) and the author of He Talks Funny (Author House, 2010).  For more information, see Jeanne’s YouTube Channel: PSA’s, interviews, and more.   (image source: www.authorsden.com 2.11.13)

“All the children eventually reach the top of their mountain but each has a different way of getting there.”


Designed for parents, caregivers, teachers, and children with apraxia, Ms. Buesser indicates He Talks Funny was “an idea that just popped into my head one day.” She’s not a stranger to writing, though.  Her work had appeared in the Exceptional Parent Magazine, Parentguide Magazine, and also www.Parentpaper.com.  She also blogs regularly at http://jeannebuesser.com

He Talks Funny is a story about a young boy named Joey and his struggles with CAS, specifically about other children not being able to understand him, and as a result– not having very many friends.  When asked about this, Buesser indicates that she has never called apraxia, Childhood Apraxia of Speech ( emphasizing the childhood term)  simply because “as he got older, and into middle school the title was not appropriate…he’s now a senior [in HS] and understood about 98% of the time, but he does need to remember to articulate and put his thoughts together first.”  Product Details

So, this all boils down to bullying, in some regards.  Kids can be mean.  They can make nasty comments about how one speaks–or doesn’t.  In He Talks Funny,  you’ll a section called “circle of friends.”  Buesser recommends explaining to the principal or teacher the situation frst so there is not a stigma before the child is put into the classroom.  Also, she recomends “explaining CAS to parents of the other children so that everyone is on the same page.”  (image source: Amazon.com 2.11.13) 

Buesser’s message is clear:  As a parent, you have to be the one to step forward and educate others–but slowly.  “People are scared of things–scared often of the unknown.  They often don’t know how to approach people when it comes to things they aren’t familiar with, like apraxia.”  Buesser is also at work on developing a program with He Talks Funny in which the book would be incorporated into New Jersey Core Curriculum regarding bullying and also getting the book on the school’s recommended lists. 


And now for the give-a-way!  Jeanne has graciously provided a copy of He Talks Funny to one lucky reader.  All you have to do is share this page on your Facebook or Twitter account.  But you must let me know you did so (otherwise, I have no idea who to enter into the drawing).  Just shoot me an email leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com and say, “I shared the post.”  That will enter you to win a copy of this book, (valued at $12.49 on Amazon).   Drawing for one (1) winner will be held WEDNESDAY, FEB 13th.  Good Luck!!   WINNER IS….Rachel Williams!!  (Name drawn at random on 2.13.13).  This concludes the contest.  Thanks for all of those who entered. 

In My Brain Today: Guest Post and Give-a-way: Luca’s Lashes

By Leslie Lindsay

What a fun week!  I am blessed with yet another guest post from author Nicole Fonovich, co-creator of the “Luca Lashes”  a collection of kids’ ebooks and interactive apps – aimed at kids ages 0–4 – that turn“fear of firsts” into fun.

Created by long-time educators and husband/wife team Nicole and Damir Fonovich, the series was inspired by their little boy, Lucas, and their desire to help him be brave in all his childhood discoveries. The newest release is Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor. Other 2012 ebooks cover first swim lesson, airplane ride and first haircut.

Take a look below for a fun Luca Lashes contest! Okay…take it away, Nicole!!

Nicole Anne TortorelloNICOLE FONOVICH, M.Ed, is a tech-savvy mom blazing a new trail in children’s publishing. (image source: http://www.lucalashes.com/t-about.aspx)

“Taking your child to the doctor? Five tips to help them say “Ah” with confidence. Winter is on its way and everyone knows what that means. Not skiing, not hot chocolate, not kissing under the mistletoe. Colder temps bring cold and flu season, sick kids and doctor’s offices. (Cue sniffles and sneezing.) Any self-preserving individual will avoid sick people like the plague. But if you’re the parent of a young child you might not have a choice. Here are five life-changing tips for bringing your sick child to the doctor’s office and surviving the sniffle season ahead.   (image source: http://tracysnook.com/blog/2012/11/26/luca-lashes-visits-the-doctor-guest-post-by-nicole-fonovich/)

1. Avoid it at all costs.  Crying babies, snotty noses, heat-seeking germ missiles that love to embed themselves inside busy working mothers. These are all the things that await you at the doctor’s office. So if you can avoid it, do. The most efficient way is to have your child immunized. This requires some preemptive planning. Go early, the sooner the better. That way you can avoid all the mayhem of bringing a sick child to a doctor’s office full of other sick kids.

2. Choose wisely. When it comes to sticking sharp things into your child’s skin, the friendlier the better. Don’t just settle for the first pediatrician that accepts your health insurance. Look for a doctor who works well with your child’s personality. Ideally it is someone who is great at distractions. “Dear sick little baby, here is a cute, fuzzy little bear.” The needle will be in and out before your baby knows what hit her. Be picky when it comes to your child’s doctor. You’re the one who will end up paying in the car ride home

3. When all else fails…play doctor! So, you’ve done your best. You got your child immunized; you disinfected every surface in your house; you even kept her away from the coughing kid at the playground. But, she still came down with the flu. What’s worse than a sick, irritable kid? A sick kid who is terrified of the doctor. You have no choice. She’s spiked a fever and it’s not coming down. Before you drag baby to the doctor, prepare her for what to expect. Buy a toy doctor kit with things like a stethoscope, shot dispenser, and a fake plastic hammer. She will become familiar with the sites and sounds of the doctor and associate them with fun rather than fear

4. In the waiting room, play some more. Waiting rooms are germy places, and the last thing you want is to get infected yourself or to make your child even sicker. This is where your handy dandy iPad comes in use. It can provide great entertainment and distraction without having to share any germs.

5. Take control for your baby.  Be a model for your child. Project confidence, not fear when at the doctor. Make sure to ask plenty of questions and get all the answers you need. Bring a pen and paper, take notes, and be inquisitive. This helps your child see the doctor as a resource for help and information. There’s no need for nervousness here.

With these tips you can turn a potentially dreadful experience into a lot of fun for your child (and yourself), one that they will be eager to repeat in the future. Regular doctor’s visits will be a piece of cake after this, allowing children to enjoy an important part of a lifetime of health benefits.

Bio: Nicole and Damir Fonovich are co-authors of Luca Lashes Visits the Doctor, available at all app/ebook marketplaces. For more helpful suggestions, visit the Luca Lashes YouTube Channel and LucaLashes.com.

*** Enter the Luca Lashes contest!***

Readers: Comment on the post with your most interesting story of taking your kid(s) to the doctor and you’ll be entered to win a gift pack complete with a toy doctor kit, fun bandaids and a $20 Baskin Robbins gift card for use after their next appointment!  [Comments must be entered into the blog, not Facebook or Twitter] to be considered for the gift pack.  Contest is being facilitated by the author of Luca Lashes, not me.]

Special Guest Post: Author Darryl Nyznyk of “Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas”

By Leslie Lindsay

 (image source: http://www.marysson.com/aboutdarryl.html)
Darryl Nyznyk

I am thrilled to host author Darryl Nyznyk of Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas.  Winner of 3 Mom’s Choice Awards (middle grade reader), bestselling Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas by Darryl Nyznyk is a modern-day story that portrays the true meaning of Christmas, much like the classics did.  Here, Darryl gives us wonderful tips on how to raise your children to be givers.  Since that’s the ‘reason for the season,’ why not start teaching them that vital lesson now?   (image source: http://www.marysson.com/marysson.html)
In fact, a tradition at our house is to present our children a “Christmas Book” in the first few days of the holiday season.  It’s a great way to build their holiday library.  Why not add “Mary’s Son” to your gift-giving list?  It would make a wonderful treat for Godparents, Godchildren, Sunday school teachers, and others. 

Or, you may WIN a signed COPY!! Be sure to take a look below for contest details! 

Okay…take it away, Darryl!

My wife and I raised four daughters through school day traumas of isolation, rejection, ostracism and dissociation, and bullying. While none of our daughters were on the receiving end of all of these hateful practices, each experienced one or more personally, and each saw them foisted upon others. It was our duty, as parents, to guide them through these experiences by teaching them how to deal with the pain, and by helping rebuild their shattered psyches after each experience.

We found it was just as important to instill in them empathy and compassion for others suffering through the same trauma. We wanted to teach them to look less at the pain they were experiencing and more to the pain of others who they could help.  Our belief was that our kids needed to learn how to give of their compassion, understanding, and love in their every day lives. Here are five basic concepts that helped us in our efforts.

1. You are a good person.  One of the most important elements in a giving heart is a sense of self worth that enables a person to step away from his own problems and focus on the issues of others. To be true givers, children need to have confidence in themselves.  Build their self-esteem, but not because they might be the “prettiest,” “smartest,” “best athlete,” or “most popular,” but rather because they are empathetic and compassionate people. If they cry when a person they know dies or they understand the pain when a friend gets hurt or they help a neighbor in need, it is these feelings and actions that make them good people.

2. Discuss issues of evil and sadness in the world.  Getting children to sit and carry on a discussion about the issues of the day can be virtually impossible. With homework, music lessons, sports practice, electronics, friends, and every other conceivable interference, it’s difficult to find a moment to have a conversation other than “hi.”  But it’s vital that we do. It is our task to find those moments where we can say “Did you hear about …?” and “Do you think there’s anything we could (or should) do about …?”  We need to ask them about any sad or evil events of which they are aware, and how they feel “we” should react. Despite the hesitation our child may express at first, the truth is that once we get them talking, we have moved them away from focus on self and to thoughts about the plight of others – an essential step in imprinting the concept of giving onto their hearts.

3. Think of someone at school who needs help.  Encourage your child to think of someone at school who might need empathy, compassion, or simply a friend. Suggest they look beyond their immediate circle of friends and identify someone who might be viewed as a “geek,” a “nerd,” an outcast. Talk to your child about how that person must feel; try to get your child to try on that person’s shoes so that they understand how painful that person’s experiences are. Then discuss how your child might be able to help, even with something as simple as a kind word.

4. Talk to friends at school about those in need.  Encourage your children to step up in their peer groups to convince friends not to judge those previously deemed below them. “I heard his parents can’t afford to get him good soccer shoes; maybe we can figure out a way to help. He’s a pretty good player.” “Her mother’s been really sick.  Maybe we should ask her to join us and see if she needs help.” Or just plain, “She looks weird, I know, but she’s a nice person, just a little shy.” 

The point here is that our child steps up and gives herself to the pain and suffering of those ridiculed by her group. Peer pressure makes this one very difficult, and a parent’s discussion about the proper approach to the peers is essential. It doesn’t require that your child take over the leadership role from the “king” or “queen” of the group, but rather that she use her subtle influence and intelligence to move the leader to compassion that the others will follow.

5. Stand up against injustice even if alone.  Our children know right from wrong because we have taught and continue to teach them the difference. When they see bullying or other injustice in their schools or other social settings, they must step up to protect the weak and bullied. 

The most difficult thing for the normal “non-leader” child is to become visible by asserting themselves. It’s difficult because by standing up within the group or outside the group, the child is challenging leadership and risks becoming the butt of jokes or the one who is bullied. This is why parental guidance in the art of subtlety within the group, and of strength of purpose outside the group is essential. In conjunction with that guidance, our child’s knowledge that we, as parents, have his back when he steps up, gives him the strength he needs to stand tall.

Teaching our children to give is the essence of our duty as parents. It’s an enormous undertaking, yet what better gift can we give our world than a child who “gives” herself in the fight against injustice, cruelty and inequality?

Bio: Darryl Nyznyk is a full-time storyteller and father of four grown daughters. As a parent, he began to take a hard look at the world around him – one of extreme political and social divisiveness – and as an author, he wanted to share the message with the world that he had been telling in his own home for years….a message of hope, love and faith. He is the author of Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas

***Enter the Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas contest!***

Readers: Comment on the post with what your favorite charity is and why. Darryl will choose a grand prize winner and match a donation of up to $100. The winner will also receive a signed copy of Mary’s Son. [Comments must be placed on the blog to be considered for the give-a-way]

What if you don’t win?  Or, maybe you just want to get the book now…Never fear!   Darryl is offering the e-book for only .99 cents the week of November 26 and then for only $2.99 all of December!

Book Review/Give-a-Way: Marlow & the Monster

By Leslie Lindsay

(**See end of post for give-a-way information)Giveaway

(This contest is now closed, 8.21.12) 

What kid doesn’t fear the proverbial monster-under-the-bed?  What parent hasn’t had to deal with that child who is just sure the monster slithered underneath the bed or into the closet the moment mom and dad pop in to investigate?  That’s right:  nearly all of us. 

For Sharon Cramer, a certified nurse anestehtist and mom of three grown children in the Pacific northwest, her book, MARLOW & THE MONSTER (Talking Bird Books, August 2012) says it all: monters don’t exist…or do they?! 

(image retrieved from Amazon.com 8.17.12) Product DetailsCramer is the author and illustrator of three previous books: Cougar Cub Tales, a three-book series, but this is her first stand-alone title.  Marlow & the Monster is beautifully illustrated in black & white quill pen and ink, while portraying the monster in vivid color.  Of course–what monster would be in black & white to any child’s imagination?  Cramer states it took about 30-40 hours per illustration! 

In Marlow and the Monster, young Marlow has a monster lurking in his room.  He doesn’t like it–not one bit.  Finally, after some trouble with the monster, Marlow marches him down to his sister, Sarah’s room.  Sarah is actually younger than Marlow, but she knows just what to do with him.  Perhaps our “monsters” aren’t all that scary after all?  Can a monster be goofy? Creative?  Guess you’ll have to read the book to find out.

The book is best suited for kids ages 3-7.  My soon-to-be-kindergartner liked it “okay,” but agreed that kids do think about monsters a lot, “Sometimes I think there is a monster in my closet, but I know there isn’t.  Not really.” 

Cramer says the book is, “my first trip onto the wild side!”  In fact, the book may be likened to “Where the Wild Things Are,” as it reminds me as a modern take on the classic by Maurice Sendak, particularly in terms of  artistic style.   

Here are some tips and ides for parents who may be struggling with the “monster under the bed”:

  • Ask your child to describe the monster. Get really detailed.  Ask about colors, if the monster talks (what does she say), is the monster a boy or a girl?  What is the worst thing that can happen?  What is the best thing that can happen?  Sometimes breaking it down into simple terms helps kids understand that there is really nothing to fear, and that their imagination is actually quite powerful
    three eyed happy monster blue photo cutouts
  • Draw a picture of your monster.  Oh, time to get out the art supplies!  Googly eyes, pipe cleaners, construction paper, glue…bring it on!!
  • Be open and honest about fears.  It’s just another feeling, and feelings are okay to discuss.  Make sure your child knows that.  What may be bothering your child may actually suprise you.  Perhaps it’s nothing “typical” like going to school or the dentist, but maybe something that happened on the playground. 
  • Tell your child some of the things you are/were afraid of and what you did to get over it.  My hubby used this example from his childhood, “I thought there was a monster in my closet for months.  I wouldn’t even open it unless a grown-up was in the room.  One day, I just flung the closet door open and said, ‘you get out of there, you mean ol’ monster’ and that monster never came back?” 


Hip-Hip-Hooray!  Today is give-a-way Friday.  Here’s what you need to do:  Tell us why your family needs this book in the comment section of the blog.  Only blog comments will be considered for the give-a-way.  Winner is the person whose date of birth is closet to my 5-year olds…You have till Monday 8/20/12 at 5pm to enter!  Good luck. 

***AND THE WINNER IS:  Amanda B. and Family!!  Amanda’s Birthday (Feb 13th)  is closest to my 5yo daughter’s January 10th Birthday.  Runner-up was Margaret M. with a Feb 28th BD.  I appreciate all of those who entered.  Thanks!!**** (this contest is now officially closed.  8/21/12).

To learn more, see www.talkingbirdbooks.com