Category Archives: Masterpiece Monday

What’s Up Prima?

While watching Snow White the other day, my little one looks over and says to me:

     “Mommy, the queen from Snow White looks like Maleficent, they must be cousins.”

I had to chuckle. Then I got to thinking about…nothing else other than literary cousins (AKA the primo/prima of written word). Now what makes something a literary cousin so to speak? I figure they have to have some similarities. Right? Right. This is the kind of thing we authors wonder about. Is it appropriate to mention in a query that our book is similar to another? I mean does a literary agent or editor really want to hear all that? Besides what makes a book so fantastic if it is considered to be a literary prima to another book already out there?

So while looking out for ourselves we search titles on Amazon. We then Google similar titles all for the sake of originality. Then that dreaded moment comes when we discover how unoriginal we really are–“Wo is me! Aye me. Little me. Our book is drowning,” you say to your muse. You are perfectly still. Then it dawns on you that lemons don’t make juicy lemonade without a twist  of the fruit and a little sugar, and running shoes aren’t much aid to a runner without that special double knot in them to keep them secure on the feet. So you take a conference call with your manuscript, and why not, you have worked so hard on it? Does it have a similar voice, plot, setting, character(s)? You nail down the similarities and you chip away at the pieces that you fear have any slight echo. I’m not talking plagiarism. That little devil is a whole other story. Your creation just had to be a bit similar. How could you have known, you were too busy creating it! Slowly you realize something else. Aha! There it is! A hybrid. Your hybrid. 

Finally you pick yourself up from the nitty gritty dirt. You wipe your face. You tinker away until the sun goes down…and voila you are back in the game! Enough said. You are having a blast! 

You will find that there are sure to be ridiculous (shall I say hefty) amounts of literature similar to your own (even if but a smidge, a smudge, a little pinch even) if you are a writer. Somewhere out there every writer has at least one rockin’ prima. The great thing about literature is that everything no matter how similar it is, has a spin or a twist on it. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t get a kick out of these Literary Prima’s that may have caught your fancy, maybe you even found that they glimmer equal amounts–to your delight:

and just when you think you have had enough, here is a link to introduce you to MORE spin-offs of classics!
So similar and yet so different! Both a lot of fun to read before bed!
By Don Freeman
…both very adventurous bears who are more worried more about their tummies than the conflict at hand. Do I need to mention Corduroy too?
And what about all those stories about witches who don’t quite fit the norm, like:
..too many to post here! If you recall any others feel free to mention them by commenting. 
I could go on, but instead I have some insight for you…
Upon further research on this topic I found this bit of information in an article* by author Maria Nikolajeva: 
“Harold Bloom discusses in his widely known study The Anxiety of Influence (1973) a pattern of literary evolution in which every writer has a model, The Great Literary Father, from whose influence he (writers are by definition male in Bloom’s theory) must liberate himself. A true writer will, according to Bloom, achieve at least some degree of freedom from the model, both by absorbing and transforming his strength.”  
I found this quite interesting. I feel it is true we all have a model or model(s) that we pattern our writing after simply because we have read them and enjoyed them so much. This does not go to say that we do not struggle or fail to find our own voice in our writing aside from what we have come to enjoy in other works of literature. 
Reading further on into the article*, Nikolajeva states that “…the anxiety of not being able to compete with the Master is an inevitable part of the creative process.”  Without the feat of overcoming that fear, no author ever proceeds onward toward the high aspiration of publication. Or possibly the fear spurs the author on instead. What do you think?
I have to agree that this is something we all hope and aspire to–to be able to measure ourselves apart from the literary “master(s)” who came before us–to be able to measure our success and define our writing for what it truly is when our words come face to face with the critic or more importantly the author themselves. 
Those who paved that great literary path so that we too can lay our own brick down on the path–I hold my pen upward to them! 
*Article from:  Papers: Explorations into Children’s Literature Article date: May 1, 2008 Author: Nikolajeva, Maria

The article mentioned above is really very interesting. If you wish to read further (although this link does not give the full article only more than I have shared with you) you can click here to read more.

Your thoughts are as usual welcome in the comments!! What say you?


Filed under Literary Cousins, Masterpiece Monday, What's Up Prima

When You Wish Upon A Star

Several things going on today:

PiBoIdMo 2010 BEGINS! Yippee!

Also it is Open Mic Monday at the Query Tracker Blog (QTB) they are taking YOUR questions about “writing, editing, agents and the journey to publication.” Don’t miss out!

Masterpiece Monday! Down at Sergio Ruzzier’s blog Hey, Rabbit! there all kinds of books just hopping about to be read. Lists of favorites from kidlit lovers all over the blogosphere compiled right on his blog! I figure it’s time I compile my own list!

I’ve found some learn-to-read books for my kiddo–fun ones mind you–thanks to a tweet from the tweet vine! I’ll share them with you! So here is the code name…Molly Coxe! Check her out, or at least her books! Here is a link with a list of her books!

Finally I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books! You should too. I’d love to see what your favorite PB are! Maybe later I’ll compile similar lists for YA and MG books. I hope you’ll share your favorites too! There are so many more I’m sure will become favorites as I begin to read them! So to all aspiring authors–keep writing!

These are my favorites, in no particular order (I couldn’t stop at ten):

SkippyJon Jones (series)


 Now I have a wish, upon a star…

Dear Ommwriter:

Please make your program compatible with Windows and HP. There I said it!


Filed under Masterpiece Monday, PiBoIdMo

Masterpiece Monday

I’m currently making a Piñata so this post will have to be short, but read through to the end for clues as to what is in store for all of you as I near 100 followers!

Here are a few books that have caught my eye…

Keeping with the Latina/Hispanic theme…

Here are some books by Julia Alvarez. I love how she covers many controversial topics that children may have a hard time understanding. What better way to help children understand change, different cultures, adoption issues, and political issues, than to write a story about them. 

An adopted girl finally searches for her past. 

A Picture book story about “a secret tribe of beautiful people who live underwater in ‘cool blue caves hung with seashells and seaweed.’ Avoiding humans at all costs, they come out to hunt for food only at night. But the most remarkable thing about theciguapas is that their feet are on backward.”
The story about a girl from the Dominican Republic. When Anita’s “father gets taken away by the secret police, Anita and her mother go into hiding in order to avoid capture. Anita, of course, keeps a diary.”
 A story about Mexican immigrant workers and the challenges their children/families encounter in the face of deportation as a result of  being undocumented. 
One last book that sounds like a fun read but is not from the multicultural genre:
Here is a prologue from the book. It held me at the edge of my seat. I better go buy this one soon!
I have to say a BIG thank you to all my Lost Boys and Girls and those following through Facebook Networked Blogs! You guys are awesome! I’m nearing 100 followers and I keep thinking, “Oh no what to do! What will I do when I reach 100 followers (through blogger not FB)?” So I’ll let you know now–I do have something planned for you. What I need to know is what kind of prizes would you like? PB, MG, YA Books? Critiques? Fabulous notebooks to store those amazing story ideas in? Pens that shine on the page as you write about your amazing adventures in Neverland, or maybe just your journal? An LED booklight?Anything else that comes to mind? Spit it out while you can! I can’t wait for the fun to begin! 


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Masterpiece Monday: Boy Books

I came across this wonderful post all about literature for teens in general but especially for the young male reader. It is the first blog post I have read on the subject that kept my attention and made me REALLY think about the matter. I mean, I know it is a tricky predicament to encourage the young male audience to read when the market seems to be targeting more of a female audience. The author has some great points. So check it out!

If you are having a particularly difficult time helping your your son(s) in finding good reads specifically for them, here are some websites you can rely on:

Guys Lit Wire
Guys Read

Here are a few suggestions for MG readers:

Frindle by, Andrew Clements

The Big Stink: Nathan Abercrombie Accidental Zombie
by, David Lubar

The Kneeebone Boy

Dodger For Sale
by, Jordan Sonnenblick (this one is the last installment in a series, so go find the others).

Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters
by, Rachel Vail

Bobby vs Girls
by, Lisa Yee

The Magic Thief
by, Sarah Prineas

Peter and the Starcatchers (series)
by, Dave Barry

The Pickle King
by, Rebecca Promitzer

A few suggestions for YA readers:

Brooklyn Knight
 by, CJ Henderson

by, Janne Teller

by, Jennifer Hubbard
The Stone Travelor

Books By John Green

Paper Towns

An Abundance of Katherines

So there you have it guys!

Feel free to list some of your favorites in the comments! If you know of other guy read websites list those too. 


Filed under Boy Books, Masterpiece Monday

Masterpiece Monday

I had to think about this for quite a while, because in fact, it is probably more than one post. I couldn’t seem to pick one topic/theme for this post. So here is a list of Monday’s masterpiece books along with all my cool finds over the weekend:


I just can’t let it go that Halloween is on the way so here is another spooktacular PB for your little one. If you loved Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, you’re going to absolutely love Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody, written by Michael Rex. The illustrations are incredulously funny. Say “goodnight” to monsters everywhere with this one.

Counting in Spanish never was more fun than with Count on Culebra. Ann Whitford Paul introduces us to Culebra, a snake; Tortuga, a turtle; Conejo, a rabbit; and Iguana. Poor Iguana has injured his toe and cannot make his beloved dulces. So Culebra steps in as doctor for a day. Find out what happens next! The solution is sillier than this group of friends! There is even a recipe at the end of the book for the yummy dulces! Mm Mm! Que Rico! Woops….there’s another good book!

Ever been to a bug talent show? Well here’s your chance! Pest Fest, written by Julia Durango, is a showcase of the spectacular talents that bugs everywhere have. Who will win the Pest Fest? You’ll never guess. Find out when you read this book written in rhyme. It is chock full of wit and confessions of the buggiest kind…that and a few big words that will test your little one’s pest intelligence.

Don’t be afraid to read this next one with your youngest child. Big Words for Little People is a Where’s Waldo of words. Your child will be pointing out all the letters he/she recognizes and smiling when he recognizes that he really does understand a big word or two after reading this book. Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell sure know how to make BIG words a not so scary thing!

Book Fiesta is a colorful bilingual picture book all about the adventure of reading fantastic books. Delve into a story, slumber along it’s pages, and learn all about Children’s Day and Book Day. Celebramos El Dia de los Ninos/El dia de los Libros! Learn more here.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean. I won’t say much about this one other than if you love all things ocean than you shouldn’t skip it!


Ever wanted a Literary Map? Well here’s a pretty cool one I found of New York!

 Author confessions: Attack of the Eccentric Mind and Other Silly Author Things…

 TBW (to be written) with much spontaneity and plenty of hoity-toity flare.

Be ready to share a few of your own! Tune in tomorrow and be ready to spin on your heels.

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Filed under Cool Finds Literary Map, Masterpiece Monday

Masterpiece Monday Falls into Autumn

I promised I would do a post on books centered around autumn and school. There are so many! I even browsed the local bookstore for anything new out there. It dawned on me that I absolutely must also include Halloween books. How could I not? Click on the links for more information on a particular book or to venture to a cool website with activities related to the book. It just may be that I found the link interesting, but that does not go to say I support any particular site, only that I found some of them to be very interesting or peculiar. So let’s let the fun begin!


The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z.

Ruth Hellers Designs for Coloring Leaves

Orange Pear Apple Bear

Autumn: An Alphabet Acrostic

Lin Yi’s LAntern: A Moon Festival Tale

Red Leaf Yellow Leaf

Leaf Man

I Know It’s Autumn

How Do Apples Grow

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?


Amelia Bedelia Goes Back to School

The Berenstain Bears Go Back to School

A Fine, Fine, School

The Sandwich Swap

The Recess Queen

A Pocketful of Kisses

The Kissing Hand

What Teachers Can’t Do

Back to School for Rotten Ralph

It’s Back to School We Go

I Hate English!


What are some of your favorites?

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Filed under Autumn, Halloween, Masterpiece Monday, School

Masterpiece Monday

Last night I was set to critique a manuscript that had some interesting sibling dialogue. Then this morning I was watching the movie In Her Shoes and in an instant I had an “Aha” moment. So…

Today’s masterpiece is the ever challenging and extremely fun world of the sibling. Here are some books that include just that:

Flora’s Very Windy Day (picture book)
 by, Jeane Birdsall who is also the author of The Penderwicks…I’m curious about the very interesting boy in the story. This one is definitely on my to read list!

Sand Sisters (picture book)
by, Amanda White and Illustrated by Yuyi Morales.

I love Yuyi’s artwork in the book. She is quite a colorful character. Swing by her blog here for some magnificence.

Sisters Red (YA novel)
Read an excerpt here. The writing and the cover = AWESOME!

 The Twin’s Daughter 
by, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Adventures in Children’s Publishing has a post on Twins. Just click on the title and you will find it.

 if I haven’t mentioned it yet, here is the scoop over there:  an awesome contest going on over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing. Enter for a chance to win a copy of Mockingjay or Paranormalcy. Click on over. Don’t miss out! 

Outside Over There
by, Maurice Sendak

Peter’s Chair
by, Ezra Jack Keats
 watch it here

What are your favorite sibling books?

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Filed under Masterpiece Monday, Siblings

Masterpiece Monday

Over the weekend DH and I took the kids on an adventure:bargain hunting for…well anything, but we ended up with nothing other than BOOKS! What a great way to end the weekend. Here is one that is now an absolute favorite:

How could I not buy this one? I love the sea! Stella is one clever little girl who knows all of the seas secrets and if you’d like to know a few of its secrets, well, you’ll just have to read this one too! 

Since I always have more than one masterpiece here I’ll pleasantly include another exceptional favorite of mine that is full of animal secrets and a little blond boy hidden among the colorful pages:

A few funny and interesting things about Graeme Base

“He graduated from art school and then spent two years in advertising before being sacked for incompetence.” He went on to illustrate Animalia–it took him over 3 years to complete–but it also became a grand “worldwide phenomena”. Kudos Graeme! So who’s to say this won’t happen:
Author: Angela 
All Awesome Albeit Ardent 

So writers everywhere get in the Animalia mood, follow suit, and write in like fashion to celebrate…or just uncover a few secrets. I’d be much obliged to enjoy them all if you’ll only send me a link to all your fun!

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What does the number 209, WriteOnCon, and the New Voices Award all have in Common?

A lot of fun running around–to accomplish them all that is.

I’ve been running around lately…literally! As if I didn’t have enough to do! When I said I needed to evaluate my goals, I took on a load of others along with it! I like to torture myself, but at least I feel accomplished at the end of it all. That is the goal right, to feel wholesome, accomplished, and HAPPY? Yes. That is the goal. So while I’m entering my MS to Lee and Low for the New Voices Award I’ll also be participating in (yes, finally it’s here) WriteOnCon and training for this grueling 209  miles with 11 other awesome ladies! Thank goodness I’m not doing the whole 209! All that and add to it the reading of these fun books:

Sisters Red–So good, so far. I so want to finish it today, but errands call….oh and writing, a critique, and revision!

Glimmerglass–The start of this one is fantastic! Can’t wait to finish it!

My goodreads list is never ending!

Like I said. A lot of running around. A lot of fun!

So, one more thing. I’ve been dreaming, literary style, punctuation and all, lots of commas. Last night I dreamt that Peter Pan had an  absolutely-freakin’-tastic crush on me and he tried to kidnap me/sneak me off on an adventure to Never Land. LOL. Too bad I woke before he could get me there! Is he trying to tell me something? Am I growing up too quickly for him and his world? If so I might be doomed as an author. LOL. J/K. Bwah ha ha ha! Well, not about the dream, just the doom and growing up part.

Who’s your literary crush, and forever-the-chocolate, why? Indulge us!

Here are mine! 🙂

P.S.–You must be absolutely riveted by said crush!


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Masterpiece Monday

I’ve been a bit crafty lately and not in the witchy sense; no where near it actually. The only thing my broom is used for is sweeping the dust and cobwebs out of my humble abode. The only spells around here are those of delight at the mere completion of a beaded bracelet or embroidery stitch here and there. Yes, I have been embroidering a dress and learning to make jewelry on top of all the writing I already do. So when I read the book listed below I was ecstatic to share it with you! So here it is. Enjoy!

Who wouldn’t love vibrant illustrations and a colorful story filled with love and the great secret to happiness–one of them at least. The Quiltmaker’s Gift is a special tale about a disgustingly rich and selfish king who hasn’t quite figured out what true happiness really is. With the help of a stubborn, but kind old woman–who lives high atop a mountain–he discovers what it is and how to obtain it. I love how it reads like a fairytale!

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