Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, Monday!

My last few days have been CRAZY! All that dreaded middle-of-the-book drafting stuff went right out the window with LIFE.Yeah, I'm pretty much in the same place I was on Wednesday. Maybe 10 pages further along is all. I can *see* Page 100 right up ahead though! So close and yet so far . . . . aaahhh!

And now I'm packing to head out of state for the rest of the week. Long story. But I'm bringing a car back with me so that part is very good. Not a new car, but a VERY NICE *old* car. :-)

Reading and writing blogs will be very scarce so I leave you with two terrific links:

A Writer's Digest Link to 3 Secrets to Great Storytelling. There is some really good stuff here. A great, simple way to look at your own story and know if you're on the right track with easy ways to analyze your story/plot as well as sentence structure to make your writing more powerful.

And Ta Da!!! Amazon has the lovely, lovely, *paperback* of The Healing Spell up for PRE-ORDER!!!

September 1, 2011 is the official pub date! And I'm so in love with this girl . . . I just have to post it again. Sorry for the gushing. And if you simply cannot wait, go find a school near you having a Scholastic Book Fair and grab a copy. I hear they get sold out on the first day or two though - just sayin'!

If you have any news, please tell me in the comments, I don't want to miss out! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

FREE Download from Scholastic!

This week I'm drafting like a wild-eyed mad writer, trying to keep my momentum on this new middle-grade novel and getting stuck in the *wilds* of the dreaded middle . . . . dum, dum, dum, dum!!! I'm out of breath just writing this . . . cuz I always get this sick, nervous, but *terribly excited* feeling, too, while writing a new book. How about you? That's one reason I like to do it FAST. I can only run on adrenaline for so long before burning out. So my blog posts are gonna be short and sweet for the next few weeks . . .

AND since I have a lot of new followers the past few months I decided to post again about an amazing free download of the original music for my book trailer of The Healing Spell, written by the fabulously talented folks at Nua Music, played and sung by Bet Fonua.

Scholastic negotiated the rights to offer the FULL 4-MINUTE "Treater Woman" song on their site for the next 18 months!!! That's how much they love it!

The TREATER WOMAN song is SOOOOOO wonderful! I've listened to it over and over and over again and love it more every time. It's one of those songs that just grows on ya!

You can listen free from Scholastic's website or actually SAVE (download) the song to your Mac or PC and then I-Pod, MP3 player, or burn it to a disc!!!

Here's the link!

And tell me what you think! I'd love to hear!

Happy Wednesday!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Crystal Kite Finalists!!!

The Crystal Kite is a peer voted award for any published book during 2010 by a SCBWI member. 

Books are broken down into 15 regions of the entire WORLD! 

The Healing Spell is in the region that includes Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico - about 75 books in all.

Yes, yes, yes!!! My book made the finals! I'm truly STUNNED. I couldn't believe it when Google Alerts threw the link at me on Saturday.
"What?!?" I cried! "How can this be? Nobody knows who I am." 

There were SO MANY more well-known authors and books on my region's list.

If you're a member of SCBWI and voted for my book, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I'm so honored and shocked and delighted and humbled.

And don't forget to vote again for your FAV of the Finalists for your region! Voting ends Friday, April 15th and winners will be announced on April 30th.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It's Book Fair Season!

And THE HEALING SPELL is open game!

You can find the *exclusive* paperback of The Healing Spell for sale at your local elementary school's Spring Book Fair! Excuse me while I do some ***happy, excited, crazy-dancing***

The *official* paperback will be on sale September 1, 2011 . . . but Scholastic Book Fair folks showered so much *love* on the brand-new adorable paperback they decided to put my little ole book into the Fairs NOW! It went On Sale in January - ONLY at school Book Fairs.

And then I found out it's a Featured Book on the Book Fair website!!! See Here!

And then I found out that it got *Sparkly Advertising*! *faints*. I'm in the Take-Home Flyer!!! (Bottom row, right side).

Isn't the new cover gorgeous?!! Scholastic's Art Dept nailed it. I'm in love . . . her eyes are so pensive and thoughtful and I want to just hug this girl.

Please tell me if you see it at your local Book Fairs - and spread the word! It's only $5.99 - amazing they can sell books that inexpensively. Which is great for kids and families to get a whole armload of books - like I did when I was a kid. Thanks, Mom!

Here's a picture Author Within sent me from her local elementary Fair. Thank you, Joan!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday! THE MIDNIGHT TUNNEL: A Suzanna Snow Mystery

Shannon Messenger is the inspiration behind MMGM aka Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday and I've been wanting to jump into the mix!

When I first started writing, I wrote MG manuscripts (and it was the wonderfully marvelous and very prolific Rosemary Wells that personally told me I had a natural and distinct MG *voice* years ago at my very first writer's conference - and we won't even go there about how long ago that first writer's conference was . . . but it was in the historic and beautiful mountain city of Santa Fe, New Mexico where I also had dinner with Richard Peck for the first time and Lois Duncan and Steven Kellogg and Katherine Paterson, etc. WOW! I was one lucky wanna-be!)

So even though I'm also currently writing several YA novels and publishing a YA with Scholastic in 2012, I currently have a very-dear-to-my-heart MG, The Healing Spell, and a *new* MG coming up October 1 called Circle of Secrets - Middle-Grade Books are definitely one of my biggest loves! And there is a new rush for MG books in the book world and agents and editors are LOOKING so get yours polished up and sent out!

An hour ago I finished gulping down Angie Frazier's new MG, The Midnight Tunnel, A Suzanna Snow Mystery. Isn't it adorable? 

I love the cover and I purchased the book at my new local Indie bookstore, Alamosa Books last week at our SCBWI monthly Schmooze. Alamosa Bookstore graciously gives us their lovely space for our schmoozes and I purchase a new book there every time as a "thank you". Here's some love for Alamosa Books and their wonderful, marvelous and very friendly staff!


The opening page is MARVELOUS! The first chapter hooks you right in with intrigue and a delightful heroine, Suzanna or Zanna for short - NOT Suzie!!! There are beautiful descriptions of the beaches and the old hotel where the story takes place. And the cast is filled with fun characters, and mysterious characters as well as some grumpy characters . . . I love how Suzanna solves the mystery, bit by bit and piece by piece, using the clues around her - and tries to get the adults around her to listen to her already!

A great, fun, fast-paced, suspenseful read! I don't think you can go wrong with this marvelous new book for your middle-grade readers. 

Here's the official Goodreads synopsis:

A mysterious adventure of self-discovery that reveals shocking secrets!
It is 1905 and young Suzanna works at her family's inn in Loch Harbor, New Brunswick, where she is trained to be a well-mannered hostess and a charming lady. Suzanna has other ideas for her future--she wants to be a detective. When a young guest goes missing on a stormy summer night, Suzanna's famous detective uncle, and idol, comes to solve the case. But Suzanna learns that not everything is as it seems. With a little help from her friends, can she solve the mystery of the missing girl before her uncle gives up?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


I have a lot of new followers and many of you may not know that I publish an email newsletter once a month called SPELLBINDERS: A Newsletter for Educators with Carolee Dean. This is the end of our second year and we publish it only during the school year, October - May. We're getting thousands of subscribers now and are so excited about its success - so please come join us or PLEASE spread the word to the teachers and librarians in your life.

SPELLBINDERS is geared toward teachers and librarians as well as parents and homeschoolers, focusing on literature and literacy and great ideas for the classroom as well as home. There's lots there for writers, too!

For instance, the March issue is all about book trailers, making them for yourself and in the classroom or at school with your students. And Carolee discusses *how/why* book trailers are helpful for different kinds of student-learners in her column. 

SPELLBINDERS comes direct by email into your Inbox and if you'd like to sign up for it let me know in the comments. OR go here and sign up at the bottom of the newsletter by clicking on "Join Our Mailing List". It's ONLY once a month so it does not clutter your Inbox at all!

You can also read each month's issue as well as ALL of our terrific past issues at our blog:

Enjoy, and happy weekend! I have a really busy one so my next post will be Monday - and very fun, cool stuff is coming next week so please come back! FREE stuff, too! :-)

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Special Book Trailer Issue!!!

Spellbinders Logo
March, 2011
Another Book Giveaway! 

Stuck in Neutral 

The Winner of Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman is . . .Lori Kadosh of Austin, Texas!!!  
Congratulations, Lori!  
Please email Kimberley at with your snail mail address and your copy of Stuck in Neutral, will be on its way to you!  
Feature Article

THE MAKING OF A BOOK TRAILER by Kimberley Griffiths Little   

Over the last 2-3 years book trailers have become the new rave for book lovers, whether you're a reader or a writer. A book trailer is just like a movie trailer-a 1-2 minute tease or preview of the story and plot.

About 75% of all new books each year have a book trailer created for it - and many students and kids and teens are creating book trailers for their favorite books. Just go to YouTube and see all the fan-made book trailers for Twilight, for example.

Some book trailers are created by the author, some by the publisher, and some by a combination of the two or in conjunction with a trailer making company.

Book trailers can by humorous, spooky, or suspenseful. In the beginning, book trailers were created with still photography or images, and a running line of text to explain the storyline with music added that fit the mood of the book. Recently, book trailers are being created with live action filming and voice-overs.

HealingSpellCoverEver since book trailers hit the YouTube and blogging scene, I've been gobbling up the newest ones for Young Adult and Middle-Grade novels and I couldn't wait to do my own for The Healing Spell (Scholastic, 2010).    
(And now there are book trailers for picture books! See this terrific one: Hot Rod Hamster by Newbery-Honor Winner Cynthia Lord)

By the time I started thinking about the script for my book trailer I realized that I didn't have the computer software or any movie-making experience, but I'd watched a couple hundred book trailers and had spent a lot of time thinking about what worked and what didn't and what I wanted to do differently.

I found Shayne Leighton, a very talented college film student through my good friend, Cynthia Leitich Smith (who runs a fabulous blog for the children's book biz called, Cynsations).

Shayne was an absolute delight to work with. I sent her a synopsis and details of my story and she went to work searching for free images that could visually tell the story. I spent a lot of time searching, too, and I began to realize that it was proving difficult to find the specialized images for the swamps and magical elements that were a part of The Healing Spell.

I was having a difficult time finding the right music to evoke the feeling and setting of the novel, too.

Since every book trailer at this point was a line of running text (or text fading in and out) I decided that it would be very different and wonderful to create a voice-over instead, but neither she nor I had the capability at that point.

I wrote a script for the voice-over and turned to my long-time friend, Cindy-Rae Jones who, with her son Bet, had recently launched their own music business, writing and creating music as well as building their own sound studio.  Nua Music was born. They also specialized in sound design. (Listen for all the critters, gators and special effects when you watch the trailer!)

Shayne turned over the images she'd found - about half within the final trailer - and I went to Louisiana on another research trip to take more pictures of what I needed. I also spent hours creating the images I couldn't find or took them myself with a new camera

The response has been overwhelming. Everyone who sees it says it's the best trailer they've ever seen. My book trailer was even a finalist in School Library Journals first ever book trailer contest so the result has been very satisfying.

I just finished the editorial and production work with Scholastic for my next novel, Circle of Secrets (October 2011) and Nua Music and I are already talking about ideas for this new trailer. I've written the script and we're planning a research trip to New Orleans in June to do live filming-so it will be filmed like a real movie instead of the photography still shots.

My friends at Nua Music say that this next book trailer will be even better! Hey, I'm sold!

You can listen to the full original song written for my book trailer AND download it to your Ipod or computer for FREE!!! 

Special Column
Q&A with Elementary School Librarian Cynthia Stogdill   by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Are YOU interested in helping your students create book trailers of their own for their favorite book?
I discovered a wonderful librarian from an elementary school in Nebraska, Cynthia Stogdill, who just finished this terrific experience with her students. She graciously agreed to let me pick her brain on how she accomplished this in the short time span of a mere two weeks! Here's our discussion:  
Kimberley: How did you first come up with the idea to have your students create book trailers?  

Cynthia: My daughter's former teacher introduced me to book trailers. She used them in her classroom for different things and she knew I was in "library school."  I was brainstorming for different ideas for my after school reading enrichment program, and I thought book trailers would be something we could try. I try to incorporate some creativity, as well as higher level thinking in our activities. My activity units run for two weeks. We meet on two afternoons a week so everyone has an opportunity to participate at some time. For this activity we did the planning one day, filmed on two days, and had our screening party on the last day.  

Kimberley: How did you choose the books?  
Cynthia: I let the students pick the books they wanted to feature.  The only stipulation was that they had to have read the book at some time.

Kimberley: How was it set up? Did they work by classes or in teams? Which grades were involved?

Cynthia: This activity was part of the after-school reading enrichment program.  It is open to our students in grades 1-4, and we also have some older students drop by, as well. The students created individual book trailers, but were supported by their peers.  

They discussed their ideas with each other offering ideas and suggestions before we started the taping process. I really stress character development with my students, so I insisted that they be constructive and supportive with each other. A few of the students chose not to participate, but they stayed close by, watched, and offered support to the other students.

We kept the process pretty simple and kept the length to less than a minute. That forced the students to be concise and to the point.

Kimberley: Did they write their own script? Did they storyboard it out like a movie?

Cynthia: I provided the students with a brief questionnaire to help them outline their book trailer.  It consisted of the book's title, author and/or illustrator, and brief summary of the book. It also included a comment on why someone should or would want to read that particular book.  I encouraged them to prepare that ahead of time and use it as a guide when they were practicing.  

Some students followed their outline very closely, and some didn't use a guide at all. Additionally, I used the questionnaire as a springboard to get them to really think about their book and why they would recommend it to someone.  I really wanted them to move to a reflective level of thought.  In general, I think they accomplished this because they were discussing their choices with each other.

Kimberley: How did they film the trailers? What technology did you use?

Cynthia: I did all the filming with my Flip video camera. It is easy to use, has a two hour memory, and long battery life.  My kids use it to film plays, sock monkeys, and our pets all the time.  It might sound like a commercial, but it is a great all purpose camera at an affordable price. It was perfect for this project.

Kimberley:Did you use any music/song background for the trailers?

Cynthia: Some of the book trailers have a background sound track.  I ripped short pieces of music and overlapped them to create a repeating background track. I avoided using whole pieces of music for copyright reasons.

Kimberley: How were they edited? How many book trailers were created all together?

Cynthia: I used Windows Moviemaker to create the book trailers - I am a PC person.  After doing some research, I chose this software for our project.  Ideally, something like Garage Band would have been perfect, but I didn't have ready access to that software. Moviemaker allowed me to edit the clips, piece them together with transitions, add titles and credits, and soundtrack. The software then allows you to transfer the videos onto a DVD.

One can also use photos instead of video clips, so that is an option. (Like The Healing Spell - which is a great example of another way to do a book trailer!!!!) Video can be a big challenge but nothing a brave librarian can't handle.

My students were younger, so the editing process rested on my shoulders and we kept it really simple.  We created about twelve book trailers that were thirty to sixty seconds long. That translated into about eight hours of editing. I think older students would have a great time creating and editing their own work.  If a librarian had access to a good editing program and time to familiarize students with its workings, this would make a great performance assessment.

Kimberley: Did you have any sort of competition with the book trailers? Prizes?
Cynthia: Nope, just for fun.  In the future, I would have an awards ceremony and find some plastic statues to give to the students - similar to the Oscars. Just for the fun of it. 
Kimberley: What was your culminating activity to show off the book trailers?
Cynthia: We finished the book trailer activity with a screening party. The students had popcorn and pretzels, and they were sprawled out on the floor. It really was like a movie party. We watched all the book trailers and then I created a Blooper video with some of their outtakes and mistakes. That was the last thing on the DVD.  I think we watched the entire DVD three times.

Our screening also fell on parent teacher conferences and our Book Fair. I had given the DVD to the principal after our party, and she actually had it running in a conference room for parents to stop in and watch.  

Kimberley: What a great, easy way to let the parents see the book trailers of their children!

Cynthia: Looking back, I wish we would have had the DVD running for both nights of parent-teacher conferences and the Book Fair. Unfortunately, we had some snow days and I really wanted the students to be the first ones to watch the DVD.  

In closing, this was not a complicated process. The Moviemaker program takes a little practice, but it was fun and pretty straightforward. This activity will definitely make an appearance in the future. I am so proud of the students and their focus and commitment to putting together something really special.

Kimberley: You make this whole process seem very doable for any school or classroom. Thank you so much, Cynthia, for being with us here at SPELLBINDERS. What a treat!  

Please go to Cynthia Stogdill's new blog for her elementary school to see the videos they created: 
Kimberley's Book Buzz
Kimberley Griffiths Little

Kimberley Little 
Kimberley Griffiths Little

This month we're all about the Book TRAILER Buzz so I thought I'd throw out a few more intriguing book trailers for you to view and get an idea of the sheer variety of trailers there are out in the world. Every trailer is different, just like every story is different, whether told through a movie, short story, or novel.  

As mentioned above in the Feature Article, just a mere two years ago book trailers were the *new* thing in book publicity and marketing. Using a social and visual media - as well as an online media that kids and teens really tune into - seemed like a great way to reach potential readers. Now book trailers are practically part of the standard promotion package for the launch of a new book. 

It is true that most trailers have been produced for Young Adult novels, which makes sense since YA trailers are more easily geared to teens who are online. Elementary age students' online activities are much more parentally-controlled and supervised. Teens are blogging and Face-booking like crazy. Third-graders are not. But since book trailers in general have become so popular, middle-grade novels as well as picture books are being made into trailers.  

Here are a few for your enjoyment. AND don't forget that you can always do a search on Google or You Tube by plugging in the title and/or author of a book and find out within seconds if there's been a book trailer created for it. Then pass the link along to your friends, family, students or children!  

Book trailers are truly enhancing the reading experience - which is a very good thing for book lovers and those who are trying to encourage the young people in their life to become book lovers. A win-win situation all around!

(Note: Each link embedded within the book title will take you to the book trailer at YouTube. If your school computer doesn't allow this be sure and follow the links within this issue at home and don't miss out!)   

First up is your SPELLBINDER'S book trailers!  

A story of gators and magic and sisters and secrets on the bayou. While hiding a pet baby alligator as well as a terrible secret, Livie must travel deep in the forbidden swamp to get a healing spell from the mysterious folk healer .  


Seventeen-year-old Dylan is trying to get his life together so he can be with rich, beautiful Jess, but trouble seems to follow him everywhere. On the run from the law and an LA gang, he goes to Texas to find his father who is on death row. He wants to know if badness is in his blood, or if it is something he can outrun.

Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

Owen Jester has captured the biggest, greenest, slimiest, most beautiful bullfrog ever and named it Tooley Graham, but this is not Owen's fantastic secret. That arrives the night he hears something fall off a passing train . . .


Historical fiction set in 1855 about a girl on a ship from San Francisco to Australia, and a  treasure map that leads to a magical stone. Danger and romance included!  


Beautiful Creatures is a delicious southern Gothic that charms you from the first page, drawing you into a dark world of magic and mystery. 

For more book trailers check out the website Slime Kids to see trailers from the past few years: 

AND don't forget Teacher Tube! 

Kimberley Griffiths Little is the author of:
The Healing Spell (Scholastic)
Circle of Secrets (Scholastic, October 2011)

To find out more about Kimberley, her books, book trailers, and Author School visits, visit her website at

The Secret Language of Stories
Carolee Dean

Carolee Dean
Carolee Dean

Since this month's issue is all about book trailers, I will discuss how to use book trailers for inspiring reading as well as supporting curriculum through the Multiple Intelligences. First I'd like to start out by talking about my new book trailer for Take Me There.

I had a specific vision for this story of a dyslexic poet on the wrong side of the law who is trying to turn his life around so he can be with the girl he loves. Because the novel includes many original poems, and because I have background in music, I wanted my trailer to look like a music video.

cover for Take Me There
Cover for Take Me There
I dusted off my old guitar, took one of the poems from the book, and turned it into a song.  Then I set out looking for someone who could take the outline I had created and turn it into a video. I was lucky enough to find Josh Stuyvesant, a local film student, Josh has a friend, Kyle Ruggles, who is a fabulous musician. Kyle took the melody line and guitar chords I had created and turned the music into something quite extraordinary. Kyle and Josh are in the process of launching a new venture called WRITER'S BLOCK, where they hope to help other authors and business people promote their products through video. To visit Writers Block Go To Writers Block
To view the book trailer Go Here

Working on this project with Josh and Kyle reminded me of all the different ways we can connect with stories.  Howard Gardner, in his groundbreaking book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, along with his subsequent works, has discusses the fact that students should have the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of a subject in ways that make sense to them, according to their various areas of strength or intelligence.

Providing students with opportunities to make book trailers gives them the chance to use their strengths to demonstrate how they connected with a particular story. When they share their trailers with others, they encourage them to get excited about books. Book trailers can be made available in the library for students to view when considering what books they may want to read. 

Below is a list of a few of the ways that making book trailers can support the various intelligences.

Spatial Intelligence refers to the ability to envision a final product. Students use spatial intelligence when deciding which visual images to use to depict various parts of a story. Choosing photographs or creating pictures for a slide show as well as staging a scene to video tape all rely on spatial intelligence.

Linguistic Intelligence refers to the use of words in either written or spoken form. Students use linguistic intelligence when writing a script for a video, composing lines for a voice-over, or deciding which words will appear on screen with which visual images. 

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence is displayed through reasoning, performing calculations, and recognizing patterns. The video editing process involves taking visual images, whether in slides or video clips, and connecting these with sound. The film editing process requires sequencing and understanding of programs such as Movie Maker, which is available through most Microsoft Word programs.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence addresses the body motion, timing, and reflexes - skills required in sports, dance, and acting as well as the type of muscle memory that is required to play an instrument. Students use this type of intelligence when they act or dance in videos and when they pose for still shots for slide shows. Playing an instrument also involves this type of intelligence as does handling video equipment.

Musical Intelligence has to do with awareness of sounds and rhythms. People who play instruments, sing, or compose background music for a video demonstrate this type of intelligence, but so do people who simply select a piece of music that conveys the mood of a story.

Interpersonal Intelligence refers to people who interact well with others. Students who serve as directors to oversee a final product are using interpersonal intelligence.

Intrapersonal Intelligence relates to having self-reflection, intuition, and understanding of personal feelings and motivations. Students demonstrate intrapersonal intelligence when they view book trailers and are then asked to write about their personal responses to the videos and use that information to select a story they might want to read.

Naturalistic Intelligence has to do with having a relationship to one's natural surroundings. Students use naturalistic intelligence when they go outdoors to film or take photographs and have to incorporate things like lighting and weather into their final product. Deciding which elements of nature found in the limited surrounding of the school grounds  can be made to fit into the setting of the novel, also incorporates this type of intelligence.

Book trailers are great ways for students to show their connection to a book as well as to promote books to their peers.
For an example of how I created a "script" for my book trailer, visit the blog on my website at
Carolee Dean is a high school speech-language pathologist and author of:
COMFORT (Houghton Mifflin)
TAKE ME THERE (Simon Pulse)
NO WAY OUT (Simon Pulse, 2012)

To find out about her books, writing activities, and author/poet visits, go to her website.

Forward this email
Join Our Mailing List!

Mass Email Services Provided By
This email was sent to by |  
Spellbinders c/o Peifer Computing Solutions | PO Box 50486 | Albuquerque | NM | 87181



Winner of The Southwest Book Award!

Time travel, war, love, rattlesnakes, magic . . .

Blog Archive