Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Can Be A Conflicting Time

Normally, I update my blog on Thursdays but since this is Christmas week, I’ve decided to do it a bit early.

This time of year is very conflicting, isn’t it? For me, it’s a magical time filled with more smiles than normal, people acting more cheerful and giving, and a reason to be excited to get up every day. I love the beauty of the Christmas season with all its mesmerizing lights, decorations, the heartfelt and glorious music, and I must admit all the delicious holiday treats. As a child, I remember dreaming of all those things. One of my fondest memories of Christmas for me was laying directly under the Christmas tree and just staring up at the beautify of the glistening lights and wondering what the new year would bring. Of course I was also wondering what was inside the packages that were already underneath the tree and what Santa might bring me.

When I try to recall my favorite Christmas gift of all time, two come to mind. One was as a child. I was really into playing with Barbie’s big time and enjoyed getting nothing as much as a new Barbie. I loved the smell of a brand new one. Back then, my mother made most of our Barbie clothes and that was really special to get as well. Anyway, this one year I just couldn’t decide if I wanted a new Barbie or a new Ken doll. My mother told me I could only ask for one. I don’t recall which one I decided on, but that Christmas morning I was more than delighted to find not only a new Barbie but a Ken as well!! I was thrilled beyond belief!

My second most memorable Christmas gift was when I was an adult and married. I was lying in bed Christmas morning not yet ready to get up when to my complete surprise and delight; I felt something jumping on my bed. There before me was a brand new white and tan cocker spaniel puppy with freckles on her face jumping with delight to meet her new mommy. She was the most adorable thing I had ever seen!! My husband had gotten me the one thing I wanted more than anything and to me, there is nothing better than getting a new puppy for xmas!!

You might be wondering why I started this out by saying this time of year is very conflicting? Like I said earlier, for me, it’s a magical time but for others it’s a very sad time. If you have lost a loved one on or near Christmas, this time of year can be something you don’t look forward to or enjoy since then. I’ve been very fortunate in my life so far and never experienced that but I know many people who have. Therefore, I’d just like to say how very sorry I am and hope that you can find a way to try and enjoy the magic of Christmas again. The person you lost during this time of year would want you to.

Well I don’t plan to do much writing in the next week or two but am looking forward to the new year and starting right back up full force again! Here’s wishing everyone a great holiday season, thanks for your support, and I’ll see ya back here in 2012!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

HAVE YOU DISCOVERED YOUR CALLING YET?

How do you REALLY know if writing is what you were put on this earth to do? Especially when there are so many other things in life that you enjoy doing?

I love to decorate for example. And for awhile, I thought for sure that was my calling. I consider myself somewhat talented at making rooms look nice. I know what looks good and where to place things. I am always rearranging furniture, buying new knick knacks or rearranging the old, and constantly drumming new decorating ideas in my head. So one day, I decided to take a class. It was a long distance type class a lot like the ICL course. Although I enjoyed it, I found myself taking shortcuts and rushing at the last minute to just get each assignment done. I thought I was in to it but when I completed the final assignment, I really screwed up. I just wanted it finished so I really took a shortcut and the teacher was able to see that, therefore I passed the course and got my certificate but the instructor scolded me and told me I was really not ready to make a living at this. I wasn’t focused enough. I just thought the teacher didn’t know what they were talking about and I continued on.

It wasn’t until I started writing that I realized that although I still loved decorating, it was NOT my calling. From the very first story I began writing, I knew right then and there that I was put on this earth to write children’s stories. And when I took the ICL course, I took absolutely NO shortcuts and gave it nothing but my total all. I loved every second of it.

My husband and I were never lucky enough to have children of our own, but I have always dearly loved little kids. My nieces and nephews proved this to me as soon as they were born. I have always had a secret knack somewhere inside myself to be able to talk and communicate with little children. Maybe it’s that “goofiness” inside my heart that is able to come out when I am around a small child that I am not able to fully bring out when I’m with an adult. I’ve never been one to dance, sing, or act physically silly around an adult comfortably, however with a child… I can bring it out full force!

When I was decorating, it did bring joy to my heart to create something I considered beautiful, however it never felt ANYTHING like the joy in my heart when I create a story for kids! And when I hear that a child liked my story, well just about nothing feels better to me than knowing that.

So that’s my story of how I discovered what I was put on this earth to do. It’s a pretty simple story but has made a HUGE impact on my life. Have you discovered your calling and if so, what is it and how did it come about?

Is everyone ready for the holidays!!??

Thursday, December 1, 2011

MeeGenius Author Challenge

Hello fellow bloggers! I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving. My husband and I had a quiet one, just the two of us and our 2 silly dogs and 1 fat cat. I worked myself to death putting up all our Christmas decorations, doing some Christmas shopping (Nooooooooooooooooo... not on Black Friday. I'm nuts but not THAT nuts. I have no patience for those kinds of crowds), and wrapping. It was great until... I got a horrible nasty flu and felt as though I were dying for 2 days. Ugh.

I have a ton left to do and hope to finish up this weekend. I know it's early, but every single gift I have to get has got to be mailed, except my husbands, so I try to get them out as soon as I can. Shipping rates are outrageous enough when you have plenty of time, but absolutely uncalled for when you are in a rush. Last year it almost cost us more for shipping then the gifts themselves. I was so angry after paying those shipping costs! But... what ya gonna do? I believe in Christmas and want to spread the cheer as much as possible.

On that note, I'd like to tell everyone about the author challenge that is going on at MeeGenius eBooks for Kids. They are having a challenge for children's picture book writers and the winning prizes are fantastic. This contest is really worth the effort, in my opinion. First prize winner receives $1500, plus ebook publication, but the part that excites me the most is that a school library of the winners choice will receive free ebooks for one year! I just think that is fantastic. There are also prizes for three-runner-ups, which includes publication. Anyway, I have entered the contest and am asking for your support.

There are a few ways in which to win the contest. One way is to get the most votes. The stories to get the most "Likes" from the voters will go on to the Finalists Round. Therefore, I am asking for anyone's support that can, to log onto the site and vote for my story Pumpkin Squash, by hitting the "Like" button beside my story. You can only vote for my story once so hitting the like button over and over won't count as extra votes. A second way to win is if your story is a Staff Favorite. Those stories will be picked by MeeGenius to enter the Finalists Round. Authors who get into the Finalist Round, will have their book professionally edited, illustrated, and produced for the final round of voting. Winners are announced March 7, 2012.

This contest is very important to me because I truly want to win the free ebooks for my hometown of Edgerton, Ohio Elementary School Library (plus of course publication!). So please, if you have time, click here: http://www.meegenius.com/challenge/pumpkin-squash-by-allyn-stotz
and vote for me! The competition is really huge so I need all the support I can get as there are a lot of great stories on there.

Thanks to everyone and know that I appreciate all my followers! Have a fantastic rest of your week and weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

AN AWARD, BOOK NEWS, AND GOBBLE GOBBLE!

First off I’d like to express my gratitude to Chris Henderson http://thewritechris.blogspot.com  who has nominated my blog for the Lovely Blog Award! Thank you so much Chris for noticing the hard work I put into my blog. Everyone who has a blog and knows the work it takes to keep it up should receive this award!
The requirements of receiving this award are:

1. To thank the giver and link back to her site.
2. Provide 5 random facts that folks may not know about you.
3. Pass this award on to 5 other lovely blog sites. Let them know you're awarding them. Link to their sites.
4. Copy the award logo and paste it onto your own site.

So here we go with 5 random facts about me that you probably don’t know:

1.        I cringe when I know I have to make a personal phone call to someone. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea, I just sort of freak out! I wasn’t always like that and don’t even know when it began, but it happens almost every time.
2.      I’ve only eaten mashed pototaes like once in my life. Hate em but love almost every other kind of potato.
3.       I am 54 yrs. old and still dream about playing Barbies!! How silly is that?  I dream that when my husband goes out of town, I run up to Walmart and buy a new one or two and then go home and play. Geez, will I ever grow up!!
4.      One of my dearest friends used to live on Jeff Bridges the actors estate. Her husband was the groundskeeper there. She and hubby actually got married on Jeff Bridges estate and the Bridges were just about the only attendees as it was a super small ceremony. She has pictures of them all together with Jeff Bridges
5.      I was a model for a day. Back in High School my hometown had our first professional photography agency move in. They looked around and chose me as their first “hometown” model. It was cool. Hmmm, bet they wouldn’t choose me to model today!!

Here are my five lovely nomations to also receive this fabulous award for their blogs:


Congratulations to all the winners, you all deserve it!

Now I’d like to give everyone a bit of good news. My book The Pea In Peanut Butter is not only available for purchase on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com plus other online stores it is also available for purchase at the Highland Gifts, LLC store on Highland Rd, in Baton Rouge and the Cavalier House Book Store on N. Range, in Denham Springs, LA. Also, if everything goes according to plan, there will be a coloring book version out and available for purchase Nov. 25th.

Those are major accomplishments for me as we all know it is not easy getting our books out there! So I’m feeling mighty happy about that and thank Highland Gifts and Cavalier House Books so much!

When I originally began writing my blog today, I intended on writing about something negative that has been bothering me about the writing world, but since it’s almost Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to stay positive instead and list a few things I’m thankful for.

1.      I’m thankful for my health, and my family’s health, especially my mother’s as she is getting over a scary trip to the hospital a couple of weeks ago. Thank you God for making her better.
2.      I’m also very thankful for getting my book published this year as well as lots of other positive things that have happened to me with my writing. I’m even more thankful that my mother and sis are getting their dream of writing a novel and being published come true.
3.      I’m thankful that my spoiled rotten dog, Beemer, is finally beginning to show signs of happiness that we brought a new puppy into the picture this year. They are playing constantly!
4.      I’m thankful for this coffee I am drinking right now and praying that my morning “pick me up” is never taken from me!
5.      I’m thankful for all the writing friends and connections that I have made this past year and look forward to meeting many more!

Have an absolutely fabulous turkey day everyone! Gobble… gobble. For your enjoyment, here are a few fun turkey facts you may not have known:

Turkeys can drown if they look up when it’s raining
A mature turkey has about 3,500 feathers
The name of the skin that hangs from a turkey’s neck is called a wattle.
Turkey skins are used to make cowboy boots and belts
Eating turkey does not cause you to feel sleepy after your Thanksgiving dinner. Carbohydrates in your Thanksgiving dinner are the likely cause of your sleepiness.

So does anyone else have some things they are grateful for this year that they would like to share? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beemer Rings the Bell

Check out my latest published story Beemer Rings the Bell on Guardian Angel/Kids. It's a semi-true story as I do have a dog named Beemer and I taught her to ring the bell. Not quite the way Jason in the story does, but still... it worked. Well most of the time. Beemer actually loves to ring the bell so much that half the time we ignore her. So she will ring, ring, ring it and then when we finally get up to let her outside, what does that little squirt do? She runs the other way. She loves to just make us get up!
http://www.guardian-angel-kids.com/nov011-pg6-story.htm

Friday, October 28, 2011

FOOTLOOSE

Has anyone else seen the new Footloose movie? I wanted to wait until it had been out a few weeks so it would be less crowded, but of course I couldn’t take it and went last weekend. The theater wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be so that was fine. And the movie? I enjoyed it. But there was not near the amount of dancing that was in the first version. I really expected them to really focus on Julianne Hough’s dancing skills but they really didn’t. She did a great job of acting though, in my opinion, especially since she is really known more as a dancer/singer than an actress.
I’m totally jealous of her now though. She really looked as though she were only 17 at the oldest. That just isn’t fair! The movie seemed to focus more on her good looks than her dancing. Same with Kevin Bacons old character. He was very cute and did a good job of acting as well but he just didn’t play as dynamic of a character as Kevin did in the first version.
Does everyone remember in the old version, Kevin Bacon’s character teaching Christopher Penn how to dance? Remember how huge and clunky Christopher Penn’s character was? And how you felt in the scene where he actually dances well at the end. You felt like getting up and cheering for him!! Well in this new version they had the same type of character, and he was cute and comical, but definitely not as fun as in the first Footloose. I was a bit disappointed in that.
I really don’t quite understand why the movie industry INSISTS on remaking all the good movies. Why? The 2nd version is NEVER as good as the first. If you want to remake one of the BAD old movies, then yes… definitely take a stab at it. But why the good ones? There is a reason the movie was so popular so why not just leave it alone. Why not use your imagination for a change and actually come up with a brand spankin’ new idea for a movie!! I’m so tired of everything being a remake.
But then when you really think about it, it’s kind of the same in book writing. Every subject, every moral, every type of character has already been written about at least once. It’s virtually impossible to come up with a totally original idea for a book. Something about every story has already been done. However, in writing, you can definitely change the entire story around and make it unique. Why not do that in movies? Instead, they just remake it almost identical to another version. I don’t understand that.
All in all, I really enjoyed Footloose and it was worth the money for the ticket and of course, popcorn. However, I still don’t get why Hollywood even made the remake. In my opinion, I would have enjoyed them bringing the old one back to the big screen. Why don’t they just do that?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

GOOD NEWS AND THE ADVANTAGES OF
BOOK GIVEAWAYS

First off I just have to start with my good news! When I got my book The Pea In Peanut Butter published, I was definitely on cloud nine. Absolutely ecstatic and feeling a little bit like I had just entered a new world. Was this really happening to ME!!?? Well it was and it did.
But now I am sitting on cloud 500! Why? Because my 84 (in a couple of wks) year old mother, who has maculate degeneration and can barely see, along with my oh so talented free-lance editor sister, have written a romance/mystery novel together and just signed on the dotted line to be published! Being a published author has been a life-long dream of both my mother and my sister and now after much hard work, they’re on their way to reaching that wonderful feeling of being published. I couldn’t be happier for them both. Of course, of course, of course I will be sharing the ‘where can I buy the book’ news as soon as it comes out. So be on the lookout!
Also, in the last few months, I have received good news of my own which is four publications in magazines. I have listed them all on my ‘other publications’ tab on this blog.
*************************************************************************************
Lately I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed and for a better term, SICK of giving away free books. I feel like that’s all I’ve done lately. Then I came across this great article written by Laura Backes, Publisher of Children’s Book Insider, The Newsletter for Children’s Writers in their February 2011 issue. I wanted to share this article with all of you for a better understanding as to why authors really do need to giveaway as many free books as it takes. It kind of put a new perspective about that issue in my mind and I hope it does you as well.
Also, if you aren’t a member of the CBI Clubhouse www.CBIClubhouse.com or their blog www.Write4Kids.com/blog you may want to think about it. They are both filled with lots of useful tips and even have writing exercises you can practice on.
Below is the article:
Are you one of those people who exercises iron-willed self-control passing the Cinnabon counter at the mall or airport? Maybe you're immune to the scent of warm cinnamon and brown sugar pumped into the air. Perhaps you've trained yourself to look away when confronted with a gooey, buttery roll drizzled with frosting. You're confident that you can walk briskly by, without a chance of caving in.
But what if they're giving away free samples?

A free sample changes the picture entirely. One little bite, what can it hurt? But once you've tried that tasty morsel, you'll know forever after what you've been missing. And it will be much, much harder to walk by the next time you're at the mall.

Businesses of all kinds have long known the wisdom of the free sample. Customers can't yearn for something they've never had, right? So why have writers always been coached to carefully guard their work and never, ever give anything away for free?

I'm not advocating giving away everything. Of course you want to make money at your writing, maybe even make a career out of it. But if you're an unknown author, what makes you think people are going to walk into a bookstore, pluck your book at random off the shelf, and plunk down $15 or $20? Chances are, your future fans are first going to want a free taste.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Story #2 published for the week!

Well folks, I got another story published today in the KnoWonder ezine, see link below. This was actually the story I came up with for my first class assignment from the Institute of Children's Literature. For those of you who didn't attend that class, I had to look at a picture of some Bears in a bathtub and come up with a story. This is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy it! And if you do, I would really appreciate you voting for it on the site. I could win some money, woo hoo!! That would be wonderful because as many of you writers know, we don't get paid for most of our magazine stories.

Anyway, thanks for tuning in! I've been so busy lately I haven't been doing a very good job of updating my blog so I'll try to be better soon!

Here is the link to my story Magic Wrinkles. http://www.knowonder.com/2011/10/13/magic-wrinkles/

Monday, October 10, 2011

MY LATEST PUBLICATION

Check out Raphaels Village for my latest children's ezine publication The Not So Ladylike Lady Bug. It was a really fun story to write. Hope you all like it!
http://www.raphaelsvillage.com/article.php?story=20110825063038901

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Critiquing Part II

Hi everyone! I hope you’all are doing great and being more productive than ever with your writing!

Fall is finally upon us. Even down here in ‘swamp’ country we are getting a break from the heat. Too bad we don’t get to enjoy all the beautiful fall colors you northerners will experience in the fall. Oh well, as long as the 90 degree weather goes away, I’ll be happy.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about whether or not the ‘silent’ critique was of any value. This week I found a fantastic break down of the different kinds of critiquer’s there are and so I thought I’d just continue on with that subject.

I thought it might be interesting to some of you to read this fantastic article I found on Making The Most Of Criticism. Just click on the following link to read the article. This blog has all kinds of other wonderful tips on writing as well. In this particular article, I thought the author captured the different types of critique’s just perfectly and has proven to me that we as writer’s, really need a little bit of all these styles.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

WHAT HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED THIS SUMMER?

A great thing happened to me this week. A fellow writer gave me the Liebster award! Woo hoo. I’d like to thank Ruth Schiffman for thinking of me for this award. Now I’m happy to nominate five more worthy blogs to pass it along to. The goal of this award is to spotlight upcoming bloggers who currently have less than 200 followers.

The rules of this award are:


1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And most of all - have bloggity-blog fun!

So my picks for this award are:

Cat’s Blog, The World Crafter’s Inkspot http://www.katrinadelallo.blogspot.com//
Angels of Inspiration, http://www.angelsofinspiration.blogspot.com/
Stacy S. Jensen’s blog, http://stacysjensen.blogspot.com/
Marie’s Poetic Bloomings blog, http://poeticbloomings2.wordpress.com/
Legacy's Blog http://onceuponatimelegacydevine.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/8321530-believable-fantasy

Congratulations to all these well deserved bloggers!

Being nominated for this award couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’ve been feeling a bit depressed and stale about my writing accomplishments this past summer. When I set my goals at the first of the year, I sure intended to have more things published by now so I’ve been quite hard on myself. So I went back into my submissions spreadsheet and discovered I just don’t have much out there at present.

Then I saw a post from a fellow writer (Kelly Hashway, yey Kelly) where she just announced that in the next two years, she will have seven books published!! When I read that it was like getting shock treatment.  Seven books published!!! First off I truly congratulate, Kelly, because that is absolutely awesome. Secondly, I have to thank her for opening my eyes to the fact that I simply must get on the stick and dig myself out of whatever “funk” I’ve gotten myself into and submit more stories! I keep reminding myself that you can’t get published if you don’t submit so Kelly’s news just opened my eyes to that fact once again. Therefore, I hopped right up, polished up a few stories I had on hold, and got out four more submissions.

So I’m feeling much better today. I feel like I’m back on track after a long summer of being in a writing slump. Although I haven’t actually written that much this summer or submitted much, I have been busy. I had my first picture book published, had three readings and three book signings, and have another book signing scheduled in October. I’ve signed up to attend a book workshop in Baton Rouge in October and another one in New Orleans. I convinced a local gift shop to carry my book, sold numerous copies of my book to friends and co-workers. Done several interviews on other authors and had several interviews on myself.  And I signed up for the advanced ICL course and am ready to begin my third assignment.

Other things on the horizon for me are:

  • Today thru Saturday, you can go on the “Read For Relief – a writing community auction to find Hurricane Irene relief” website at http://readforrelief.blogspot.com/2011/09/day-4-item-2-signed-copy-of-pea-in.html  to bid on an autographed copy of The Pea In Peanut Butter plus a doggy bag containing a bookmark, magnet, stickers, reading journal, and some goodies from Louisiana. You can also bid on other items like free query critiques, or 50 pages of a manuscript critique. 
  • A popular website called Peas and Thank You is going to be posting a review of my book. I’ll announce it when it comes out.
  • The CBI Clubhouse will be posting an interview with me in their December issue.
  • On October 10, Raphaels Village, an online children’s magazine, will be publishing my story The Not So Lady Like Ladybug.
  • In February, 2012 Stories for Children will be publishing my story One Measly Pillow.

So I guess I haven’t done so bad this summer after all. What have you accomplished this summer? Do you have anything on the horizon? I’d love to hear about it!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

WHAT GOOD IS A "SILENT" CRITIQUE?

Finally, a cool down here in Louisiana!! Yippee, however it will be ending almost as quickly as it got here. It’s been in the low to mid 80’s for the last week, due to tropical storm Lee. We received 4 days straight of down pours but it was worth it. The weather is gorgeous here right now but by Monday, reality comes back to bite us and it will be back in the 90’s. I know all you northern bloggers say you would trade weather and trust me, if that were possible, I’d hit that “transfer” button right now. But since it’s not, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the next few days and then I’ll get back to griping about the hot.

Ok, back to the business of writing. If you are a serious writer, than you’ve read all the research that tells us to join a critique group or two. I do strongly agree with this theory. I belong to two of them and at one time belonged to three.

Not only do critique groups get your work out there, they give you confirmation that either you can do this or you can’t. If you have a strong enough drive and find that you enjoy it as much as you thought you would, then a critique group will keep you writing and studying your craft. You can learn so very much if you are in a good group. You also can meet all kinds of wonderful writing peeps.

But how do you find one and how do you find a good one? What qualifies as a good group?

To find a critique group all you really have to do is search the internet. There are tons of organizations that offer you help on finding a group. Also, if you take any kind of writing course or go to a writer’s workshop, they can also direct you in the right path.
To find a good critique group, you first need to define what type of group you are looking for. What would benefit you the most?

1.       A group where all the members are buds and just write for the fun of it?
2.       A group filled with people that don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings therefore, they tend to love everything everyone writes?
3.       A group where the writers are serious about their craft and believe in honesty when critiquing but also believe in doing it tactfully? They truly want to help themselves as well as others.
4.       A group that holds nothing back and is brutally honest. They don’t care whose feelings they hurt as long as they get their point across? They think their word is gold.

To be honest, a group that combined all four of those criteria would probably be perfect! However, that would be quite hard to come by.  

I’ve been in the No. 4 group where they were brutally honest. So much so that they didn’t care how they came across or who they crushed. They just said it like they saw it and gave the writer absolutely no hope for their story. I have to admit, I was one of those crushed writers. I did give them a piece of my mind and told them good critiquing did not need to be hurtful; it should always be done tactfully and still give the writer some hope. They didn’t care. I have to admit that after being crushed and very upset for a few days, the critiquers’ words did make me want to try even harder. His words made me determined to prove him wrong. However, I have never sent in another story. I have since been published, however.

One of my groups at present, although I haven’t had time to participate in a couple of months, falls in a little bit of No. 1 and a lot of No. 3. I have been so fortunate to have found them and I have truly learned a ton from all of them.

What if you were in a group where one member fit into the No. 2 category? This member never says a thing about the other member’s manuscripts and very rarely makes a single suggestion. Just says, “Good story, good luck,” basically. Now I ask you, how does that help? My answer to that is “it absolutely does not help. It’s nice to hear, but when that’s all they ever give, then it ultimately means nothing.”  In fact, after awhile, it would make me not want to say a single thing about their manuscript either. That kind of critiquing shows me that member is not serious about helping any of the other members.

So my question to you is, what would you do about that member? Would you speak up to the team lead and let them know how you feel in hopes that that member would be replaced with someone who is serious about critiquing? Why have a member who is not beneficial to the group? Or would you just remain quiet and not let it bother you? And most importantly, how would you describe your own critiquing skills?

Oh and you might be interested in checking out Ruth Schiffmann's blog. She is giving out some great giveaways. Click on the link to take a peek:
http://outonalimbshywritergoessocial.blogspot.com/2011/09/burried-treasure-book-giveaway.html?showComment=1315493342119#c3008355172513674782

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Is Your Ideal Writing Space Like?



I was so jealous of my husband the other day. He was out of town on business and called me saying he was sitting on his hotel balcony (beer in hand of course), looking out at the ocean and at Celine Dion’s mansion. I could care less about Celine Dion’s house (although I do love her) but it was the ocean part that I was so envious of. The first thing that popped into my head was… how that kind of setting would be so perfect for writing. Wouldn’t looking out at the peaceful ocean waves just bring me all kinds of inspiration?


I believe I could look at water forever. My hopes and dreams for retirement someday are to have water outside my back patio whether it’s a beautiful sparkling pool with a waterfall, a lake or even a river. I don’t care, I just want water to look at. And a glass of wine would help too.

So you would think that water would really give me inspiration to write, however in reality, when I think about the settings where I do my best writing, they don’t involve any kind of scenery at all. Although I love looking at beautiful scenery, I tend to get distracted if it’s in person. I must admit though sometimes when I feel “writers block” I have found a picture of something mystical/beautiful for inspiration ideas. But in person, although the setting may give me some good inspiration for a new story, I have a hard time actually sitting and writing the story down. My mind just drifts off into la-la land without writing any of it down. I actually do my very best writing when I have complete silence and nothing but my computer in front of me.

It’s the same with reading for me. There can be no noise whatsoever or I lose my focus. What a pain.

So what about other writers? What kind of setting gives you the best inspiration? What is your ideal or dream writing space like?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And the winner is......

Congratulations to the winners of Courtney Rene's contest and interview with me. Thanks to all those that participated and a special thank you to Courtney. You can still check out her interview with me or just her blog itself at http://www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com/.


 1st place winner of a copy of the book The Pea in Peanut Butter was Inluvwithwords (aka Ruth)

 2nd place winner of the goody bag was  Miranda Paul.

I will get those right out to you both!

By the way, here is the correct answers to the contest questions:

 1. Would Allyn prefer to live in Florida or Michigan? Michigan, I hate the heat!!
2.  Do you think Allyn contributes to the candy fund at work or does she have the actual candy bowl on her desk? 
     Both and I'm broke for it.
3.  Do you think Allyn would prefer to meet Donald Trump, Rosanne, or Star Jones? Rosanne. Donald and Star are way too boring for me!
4.  Would Allyn be better at Interior Design, Psychology, or a Movie critic? Actually, probably all 3. Don't ask me why I didn't pursue any of them!!
5.  If Allyn were given an opportunity to do one of the following, which would she turn down? 1) A chance to move anywhere in the United States   2) A photo shoot with Victoria Secret  3) A million dollars No doubt about it, the Victoria Secret photo shoot.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


http://megwaiteclayton.com/1stbooks/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/mybookshelves.jpg

Welcome to anyone who is visiting from the She Writes Blog Hop! I'm thrilled that you decided to stop by.

This is a great way to check out each others blog so enjoy! I'm looking forward to checking yours out as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

First off, don't forget to check out Courtney Rene's (author of Shadow Dancers) blog to read her interview with me and get your chance to win a free autographed copy of my new children's picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter or a doggy bag that contains a bookmark, magnet, stickers, and a few surprises from Louisiana. Since my post is about generosity today, I'll even throw in an extra doggy bag or two for the winner of that prize. Click here to enter Courtney's blog: http://ctnyrene.blogspot.com/2011/08/interview-with-allyn-stotz.html
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Now on to my post for this week...

ARE WRITERS GENEROUS PEOPLE?


Have you ever thought about that? Well my answer to that question is a definite “You betcha!”

Maybe we as writers didn’t start out thinking that we were necessarily generous people, however when you stop to think about everything and everyone that we have to give of ourselves to, I wonder if we aren’t some of the most generous people we know?

After all, think about how much writers give of themselves. We give anyone who will listen, thousands of our most intimate thoughts. We put them down on paper for their enjoyment. Let’s face it, most of us writers get next to nothing for that generosity, we just like doing it. We love dreaming and hoping that our words might make someone happy. That perhaps something we wrote might make a child smile and laugh. Our words might help someone through a difficult time in their life. And our words might take someone off into an adventure that they otherwise might never have been able to experience.

We writers give of our expertise to other writers by joining critique groups. If any of you are in one of those groups, think of everything that we learn from the group. We willingly trade writing secrets and knowledge to anyone that shows a desire to learn.

Most writers I know make time out of their busy schedules to check out other writers blogs and leave comments to help each other.

Let’s just admit it. We are AWESOME!!

So today, I’d like to continue on with that generosity and post a couple of my most helpful websites that I use in my storytelling and I challenge you to do the same.

Here is a site that I log onto almost every time I sit down to write a story. It’s a wonderful site that is full of ideas on how to describe places, actions, movement.

Next up is a wonderful thesaurus site:

Here is a great one to find words that rhyme:

This is another good site for descriptive verbage:

If you need to find a fairy or fantasy name, this is a great site for that. It also tells you what the name means.

And finally, here is a helpful site if you want to find out the readability age of your manuscript:

Now it’s your turn! If you are feeling generous today, let me know some of your favorite, most valuable writing sites or resources and hopefully we can both give some great help to another fellow writer who is in need of it. Let’s share the love!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Courtney Rene's Interview with me

Today the author of Shadow Dancer, Courtney Rene, is interviewing me about my new picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter. Hop on over to her blog to check it out and try your luck at answering a few questions about me and winning a free autographed copy of the book or a doggy bag. Here's the link! http://ctnyrene.blogspot.com/2011/08/interview-with-allyn-stotz.html



Hope to see you all there!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Picture Books vs Early Readers and Chapter Books


Being a writer has many conflicting theories. If you do any research on Picture Books you will run into many articles that say publishers don’t like talking animals. And yet when you see what picture books are out there, the majority of the most popular ones are with talking animals.

Research will also tell you that publishers aren’t publishing many picture books anymore because they are on their way out. And yet once again, the majority of the books on the shelves for small children are picture books. And they aren’t old picture books, they are newly released.

I decided that although my first love is writing picture books, I needed to branch out and learn to write early readers and chapter books. However, when I went to the bookstore to purchase a few for research purposes, there were very few books in either of those categories. And they seemed to all be series books. Don’t children read anymore or has this world turned into nothing but electronic gadgets?

Is the reason publishers aren’t publishing books for small children because parents don’t seem to have time to read to their kids anymore?  Instead they send them off to the TV room to watch a movie? Or to play video games and computer games?

It sure is a struggle to stay motivated in the writing world. I just received a rejection from a story I sent into a magazine 4 months ago! But to top that off, I went into my spreadsheet where I keep track of things I’m waiting to hear back from and had to not only gray that story out as a rejection but had to pink out another 5 stories. PINK OUT!! Now to everyone else, that color pink means nothing to you but I color code submissions, rejections, and dead in the water stories (you know, the ones where the publisher makes you suffer and just wait until their time frame has passed). And guess which one of those is pink. You guessed it. The sweat and wait for nothing submissions. At least with rejections you know they received your submission and now it’s time to move on. The dead in the water ones you aren’t even allowed to find out if they received it at all. Those are no fun.

Can anyone tell that I am a bit discouraged today? It just really takes a lot of self-confidence, endurance, patience, stubbornness, and love of writing to keep on fighting! Good thing I love it!

Okay, back to what my original post was really supposed to be about!

What is your take on picture books versus early readers and chapter books? Do you think one or the other is easier to write or get published in?

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Special announcement: Mark your calendars for August 15 so you can check out Courtney Rene’s interview with me (www.ctnyrene.blogspot.com) about my children’s picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter. And make sure you take the test at the end of the interview for your chance to win a free autographed copy or a free doggy bag!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Changes In Life

Change. How many of us like changes in our life? Sometimes I think I love change. In my lifetime, I have moved a total of about 13 times, 10 of those were after the age of 19 and 6 of those were with my husband. My husband works for a major utility company and they like to transfer their people around. So basically, I had no choice but to get used to it and learn to like it. And I did. In fact, I learned to love it and actually start craving for a change about every 4-5 years or so! I love house hunting, I love moving into a new house and decorating and I love getting out and exploring a new city. But since we have no children and my husband’s company has been responsible for almost all of our moves, we haven’t had to do much packing or loading ourselves. Otherwise, I’d probably end up really hating it!

I also like change at the office. I love moving from space to space and setting up my new surroundings. Usually those things work out for the better. But I have to admit that during the process, it gets pretty darn frustrating when things don’t always go smoothly. It’s hard not to join in all the grumbling from co-workers that don’t do well with change. I have always tried to adjust and be positive about office changes because everything usually ends up working out just fine when it’s all said and done.

However, most times in an office move, the employee has no real control over the situation and how smoothly things go. My entire company just finished moving to a new location and I have to say that it has not and is not going very smoothly. Some things going on are preventing us from getting our work done or making it extra difficult. It’s been extremely hard to stay positive and not grumble!

Thank god for my writing. Since I began writing, it has truly changed me. It has given me a way out from depression and anxiety! Oh I still get in those moods, but not for nearly as long of periods. Why? Because I can’t go that long without thinking about my next book or story! And once I start focusing on writing again, the other things just don’t seem to matter as much and I can get my mind off of them.

Yay for books, writing, and imagination! I’d be sunk without them. How about you?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Is Organization and Planning a Hindrance?

Today, I am driving myself even more nutzo than normal. I have no choice but to confess… that I am an organizational nut! I have to have things organized. I have to have things planned. I’m not a complete “freak” about the organizational aspect, as far as keeping things neat etc., but I MUST know where things are or how they need to be. But I might be a little “freaky” about the planning thing. I go nuts when things aren’t planned well. I worry, then worry some more, and keep on worrying. Everything usually works out just fine in the long run, but in the meantime, I’ve worried about it 24/7.
I think I may have inherited some of this from my mother (I’ll blame her anyway). She likes to have every minute of her day planned out as well and sometimes gets very bent out of shape if things don’t go according to plan. I find that I do that a lot as well. I get really nervous when a friend asks me to do something spur of the moment or even when my husband comes home from work and says, “let’s go out to dinner.” WHAT!!!??? I didn’t plan that!!” Geez, why can’t I just chill and go with the flow! Sometimes I really think it prevents me from enjoying a lot of life.
My office is getting ready to move to a new building and I have been keeping myself up at night worrying about how everything will work. I wonder who will pack this, who will pack that, how will we move this? And I really have no control over it so why do I worry?
Maybe that’s why I feel right at home when I’m writing. I have full control and can plan every aspect of the story. I can organize it exactly how I see fit. I can plan on what day I will write and which story I will work on!  Of course it doesn’t always work out as planned but I still feel as though I have full control and can just readjust my planning! Are most writer’s “freaky, obsessed organizers and planners?” I’m curious  to see what you think?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Interview with Chris Henderson

Today Chris Henderson has posted an interview she conducted with me about my new picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter. This is a link to that blog if you'd like to take a peak. http://thewritechris.blogspot.com/
I'd love to hear anyone's comments, especially if you have read the book!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Interview with Kailee from The Pea In Peanut Butter

Today a fellow published author, Kelly Hashway, is interviewing, Kailee, the main character in my new picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter. Check out her blog for the interview and a chance to win a free autographed copy of the book http://www.kellyhashway.com/apps/blog/show/7500545-interview-giveaway-the-pea-in-peanut-butter.

The Pea In Peanut Butter as well as Kelly's new picture book May The Best Dog Win, are both available on www.amazon.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What are your thoughts on charging for book signings?


I was reading an article in the New York Times about some independent book stores who are starting to charge a fee to attend a book signing. This is hard to believe. What is next? I mean, charging someone to walk into a store, hand an author a book they already paid for, just to get their signature is just really pushing the limit, in my opinion. After all, first they have to purchase the authors book and then they have to pay just to enter their signing?

I think it makes the author look greedy, but in reality, it’s the book store that is charging the fee and the author gets nothing. Life as an author is hard enough but with this new trend, I can totally see this leading to first time authors or  authors who aren’t that well known, being rejected. Will these book stores not allow us to have a book signing because we won’t bring in enough revenue to the front door? After all why would people pay money to have an unknown author sign their book?

In the article it says that independent book stores are tired of people acting like they are just another library. People are typing names of books into their iPhones, going home and ordering them on-line or elsewhere and they think that is putting them out of business. Well I hate to break it to them but that is going on everywhere not just bookstores. Consumers should have an option of searching for a better price. That is the way of the world.
Here is a quote from the article: “We don’t like to have events where people can’t come for free,” Ms. Holman said. “But we also can’t host big free events that cost us a lot money and everyone is buying books everywhere else.”
It seems as though everything is about money these days. Isn’t getting people in your store worth whatever it takes? Not everyone who walks into a store buys something. That is a risk that all retail takes in owning a business. The way the world is heading, we won’t even be able to walk into a store anymore without paying a fee at the door.

How do you feel about this? Would you pay $5.00 or more to hand your book to the author just to signit?

Here is the link to that article if anyone would like to check it out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My First Ever Book Signing Experience

Most of you know by now that I have just gotten my first picture book The Pea In Peanut Butter published. I mean after all, I talk about it almost daily!  I wanted to share with you all my experience with my trip back to my hometown in which I read my story to the kids and then signed books afterwards. I did this at the library in my hometown and the neighboring town.
Anyway, I am feeling so blessed. Normally I’m kind of a negative type person as far as myself goes. I am always thinking that everything good that happens to me must have been a fluke or something.  But after this experience… well I just feel blessed. It was no fluke. I really did get a book published and my hometown really did make me feel like a celebrity for a few days! And remember, I haven’t lived in this town for over 30 years now. And on top of that my parents, sister and brother really did drive all the way down from Virginia just for the day to support me. That is definitely no fluke and it doesn’t get any better than that!
Now how did the people of my hometown make me feel special? The town newspaper did a front page story all about me… little (well not so little in size anymore) me! Both the libraries made fliers about my coming and signing. Both libraries had volunteers on hand to help me with anything I needed. They all told me how honored and excited they were to have a real live published author in their library and one that was from that town to boot. But one of the best parts was that the attendance of some of my old classmates, friends, and even parents of friends was just well, almost overwhelming! Gosh my head swelled to the size of a giant beach ball! At least in my thoughts anyway.
And the kids. What do I say about the kids! I had little girls come up to me after the readings and tell me they loved my story and thanked me for coming and reading to them. It just melted my heart and right then, I knew EXACTLY why I decided to write picture books. Those little kids smiles, laughs and sweet words are what it is all about for me. One thing I must share with you all is after one of my readings I asked the kids, “Do you have any questions?” The cutest little girl in the world raised her hand. “I do, I do. What is 99 plus 9?” Oh my gosh that was the funniest thing! My story had absolutely nothing to do with numbers, not one thing. I told her, “Well I write stories, I don’t do Math but I think it is 108. Can I ask you why you asked me that question?” Her answer was, “Cause I didn’t know the answer.” How funny is that!!!!
Ok, I’ve bored you all enough so I’ll just end by saying it was a huge success. I sold over 70 books and have gotten more orders. Would I do it again? In a heart beat!! Now I have to get busy scheduling book signings where I’m living now and get that next picture book written!
Thanks for listening and if you have any book signing experiences to share, please do so!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day - How did you celebrate?

Today is a wonderful day! It’s  Memorial Day, a day in which we must all remember those fallen soldiers who died for our country and for us. Yes it is very sad that we had to lose these brave men and women but they would not want us to be sad. Their lives had meaning and they would want us to celebrate their lives not their death. So for all of you that are celebrating with your families, I hope you have a joyous day.
It ‘s joyous for me because for one, I’m off work and have an entire day to relax, enjoy the sunshine, and just chill. And secondly, I am celebrating the release of my book The Pea In Peanut Butter. I know, I know, you all might be getting sick of me announcing this and talking about it but it’s just now feeling really REAL to me!! I think I’ve been feeling somewhat in denial these past few weeks, not really believing that I actually wrote a book that people are going to buy! However, my spreadsheet with book orders is proving to me that this isn’t make believe!  In one week I’ve gotten 33 orders from people who want autographed books. That is amazing to me! And next Mon & Tues I will be in my hometown doing 3 book signings and reading to the kids.
My insides are all in knots right now. I can’t wait to read to the kids! Anyway, once I get back from my trip to Edgerton, Ohio, I’ll be having a give-away for a free book so stay tuned!
Now…  what did you do to celebrate Memorial Day?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fear...Fear...Fear - Does It Ever End With Writer's?

As usual, today I am wondering what I should write on my blog. It’s hard for me to believe that any of you actually are interested in reading what I have to say. But to my surprise, I am finding out that some of you DO actually want to read my nonsense and for that, I’d like to say Thank you for being a follower and listening!

Now, hopefully some of you will be interested in the most exciting news I’ve had in a very long time. It’s only weeks away from my book The Pea In Peanut Butter’s release date! As we speak, I don’t actually have an official date for that; however I’ve just approved the final draft only days ago and have ordered my first batch of books. I will be going home to Ohio the first week of June and doing three readings and book signings at my hometown library. They are being so supportive; it just thrills me to pieces!

Now for the not so good news… I’m scared out of my wits! How does one get over the fear of rejection? Even though I’m reading my book to little children, I’m still afraid they will boo me or be bored out of their skull. And, what if none of their parents want to buy the book after I read it? I wonder if writers EVER get over their fear of rejection. First we fear that we can’t even write to begin with. Then we fear all we’ll get are publishing rejections. Then when we finally get a publisher to buy our story, we fear that it’s all a fluke and we really don’t know what we’re doing! Fear, fear, fear… it’s a wonder any of us writers have any sanity left.

Ok, no more talk about being a big chicken, instead here is a little blurb about my new book just in case you’re wondering what it’s all about. It should be available on amazon.com soon! For those of you who haven't already viewed a trailer about my book, please click on the Publications Tab for a sneak peak!

Kailee is a little girl who loves peanut butter and avoids eating other foods. A craving at night leads her to the pantry where cans of vegetables and fruits come to life and the magical party begins. The story encourages good eating habits in a way that is enticing to children.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Stylish Blog Award

To my surprise and delight, I have just been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award from a fellow writer, Courtney Rene at http://ctnyrene.blogspot.com. Thanks so much, Courtney!

For this award I have to share 7 things about myself:

  1. I’m boring as heck or did you all already know that?
  2. I’m 54, never broken a bone, never had surgery, and have never been in the hospital (knock on wood).
  3. I have unfinished cross stitch projects, painting projects, stained glass projects and writing projects all sitting at home crying for attention!
  4. I have a really hard time telling a lie. Ever since I was a child and my mother sat me down, made me look her straight in the eye and confess that YES, I TOOK THE LAST PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE!! I still see my mother’s eyes burning into me with her look of disappointment and anger whenever I even THINK about telling a lie.
  5. I fell in love for the very first time, when I was in the 7th grade, and at church camp of all places. My best friend ended up marrying him later on in life.
  6. I have an old friend who remembers the day I walked into Kindergarten. He remembers thinking, “that girl is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen!” So… at least I was beautiful one time in my life!!
  7. One of my favorite sandwiches in the world is grilled peanut butter. I dip it in ketchup! Yummmmmmmmmmmm

And now to the easy part. Below are my choices of “Stylish Blogs” to pass on this award to. They all deserve it!


Thanks again for giving me this award, Courtney.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

And The Winner Is......

Drum roll please........................The winner of Kelly Hashway's doggy bag of promotional items is............Beth Fred! Congratulations Beth. I've commented on your website about what to do to receive your gift.

Thanks to everyone for participating and commenting on Kelly's interview. And a special thank you to Kelly for allowing me to interview her. I also would like to wish Kelly lots of luck with her new picture book May The Best Dog Win, due to be released in just two days, April 30th!! If you'd like more information about Kelly please visit her website at http://www.kellyhashway.com/.

Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for tuning in!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

For those of you who read and commented on Kelly Hashway's interview, don’t forget to tune in on Thursday, April 28th to see who wins her doggy bag filled with promotional items for her new children's picture book May The Best Dog Win.
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The other day, I was delighted to be awarded with The Versatile Blogger Award from a fellow writing pal. Thank you so much, Cat for nominating me! Cat also has a very interesting blog just full of valuable writing tips so if you get a chance, check her out at  http://katrinadelallo.blogspot.com/2011/04/amazing-outlining.html.

Now, in order to accept this award, I have to pay it forward to other blogs of my choice (easy), AND reveal 7 things about myself (not so easy)!! I'll do the hard part first.

Seven Things About Me That You Never Knew, and May Wish I'd Kept To Myself.

  • I loved playing Barbies. And I loved playing with GI Joe because he had muscles. I used to stick straight pins in his chest (and not just one, a bunch of them) and pretend he was being tortured because I thought it made him look sexy!! I pretended the girl had to save him. Now you know I’m a sicko!!

  • I dream about tornadoes all the time. To get away from the tornado, I jump in a lake or pond or some body of water. I go under until the tornado passes.

  • Robert Frost is a very distant relative of mine.

  • I cry at parades when I see people having fun. How silly is that!

  • If I had 3 wishes before I die, one would be to see Barbra Streisand sing in person and meet her.

  • I have a really silly arm fetish. I cringe when I’m forced to wear short sleeves. I’d rather sweat to death then have my arms hanging out. I’ve had this since I was a child!

  • I never even thought of being a writer until 3 years ago and now I can’t stop writing and don’t know how I ever survived without it!

Now I get to do the easy part of nominating some fellow bloggers!

Congratulations to the winners. Keep up the good work!