A writer inspired by nature and human nature

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AMAZING MATILDA, Monarch Butterflies & The Purple Dragonfly Children’s Book Award


A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpi...

A Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillar feeding on a leaf of the Swamp Milkweeden (Asclepias incarnata) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest recognizes excellence in children's literature.

Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest recognizes excellence in children’s literature.

AM Look Inside NEW 2015AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale is a children’s picture book about a monarch caterpillar who only wants to fly. “How can a creature without wings every hope to fly?” Matilda’s friends wonder as they laugh at the tiny caterpillar. As Matilda progresses from egg to butterfly she learns that if she keeps trying, she can do anything that she really wants to do. AMAZING MATILDA’s storyline and illustrations follow the actual life cycle of the monarch butterfly and includes milkweed, an environmentally near-threatened plant. Milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat.

Judges of the 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in children’s literature, have spoken, and AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale by Maine author/illustrator Bette A. Stevens, won Honorable Mention in the Picture Books – 6 & Older category.

“Winning any place in the Purple Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score of 72 out of 80 must be earned for a first-place award, 64 out of 80 for a second place and 56 out of 80 for an honorable mention – even if it is the sole entry in a category,” explains Linda F. Radke, president of Five Star Publications, Inc., the sponsor of the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. “Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print.”

The book retails for $9.49 (paperback) and $3.99 (kindle/eReader) and can be purchased on YOUR AMAZON  or ask for it at your favorite bookstore. GET the eBook for #FREE when you purchase the paperback from Amazon.

You can find out more about the author and her books…

AM Look Inside NEW 2015

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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May your day be filled with wonders!


Inspiration on a cold winter's day: Late summer roses from our Farmstead in Central Maine

A winter day’s inspiration: Late summer roses at the Farmstead in Central Maine

Thanks for stopping by my blog for a visit. I’m a writer inspired by nature and human nature—one who needed an extra bit of inspiration on a cold winter’s day. These roses are a vintage variety from last summer’s garden (originally dug from the edge of the woods and transplanted by us in 2006) at our Farmstead in Central Maine. May they brighten your winter’s day! ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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1044. As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come. ~Earnest Hemingway


Singing along… ~ Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreadres.com

Sacred Touches

The birds they sing at break of day,
“Start again…” I hear them say.
~Leonard Cohen

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Nourish beginnings,
let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest,
but the seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.
~Muriel Rukeyser

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ~John 12:24  ✝

**Image of European robin via Pinterest

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MEET THE AUTHOR: Barbara Ann Mojica & “The Little Miss History” series


Barbara Ann Mojica author pic

Barbara Ann Mojica, author of The Little Miss HISTORY series

After reading, thoroughly enjoying and recommending several books in Barbara Ann Mojica’s Little Miss History series to friends, I was delighted when the author provided me with a copy of her latest book. As a retired teacher, I love to spread the word about wonderful new children’s books and Mojica’s series is sure to get kids hooked on history. In her latest book, Little Miss History travels to Ellis Island, the main character takes readers through the museum where we find intriguing facts, photos and illustrations encapsulating the history of Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty while uncovering the plight of many of the immigrants who entered America through its gates. Although I had the opportunity to visit Ellis Island as a teen, I discovered aspects of my maternal ancestors’ entry into the USA that I plan to research further. The Little Miss History series by Barbara Ann Mojica is a valuable collection I highly recommend to teachers and parents as a wonderful way to explore US history and excite young readers to want learn more. And, today I’m honored to have the series’ talented author here with us. ~ Bette A. Stevens http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Welcome Barbara. To start off, tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Queens. Proud to say that I worked my way through college and was the first in my family to graduate with a degree at age twenty. Receiving a scholarship, I went on to graduate school. After college, I worked as an administrative assistant for a short time before embarking on a teaching career. I taught in elementary school, then moved to special education, and later principal and special education administrator. In addition I taught dyslexic children using the Wilson Reading Program and Applied Behavioral Analysis with autistic children. Now that I am retired, I am loving my new career as a writer for a local news magazine, children’s book writer and book reviewer.

I can see you’re a busy gal with little time for boredom to set in. How about an update on your family and community?

Barbara's granddaughter, a big fan of Little Miss History, dresses up as her favorite character.

Barbara’s granddaughter, a big fan of Little Miss History, dresses up as her favorite book character for author day at school.

I live in upstate New York in a rural area with my wonderful husband, who is also the illustrator and publisher of my book series. We write and draw from a cozy studio in our home overlooking a pretty lake. Together we have six children and seven grandchildren, including two sets of twins. I love to keep up with our grandchildren through social media. My oldest grandchild, six-year-old Ava, is a big Little Miss HISTORY fan. She made me proud when she dressed up as Little Miss HISTORY on favorite author day in school.

We live in a community filled with historic sites, which we enjoy visiting. Victor and I support local events like the Hudson Children’s Book Festival, library events, and fundraisers for literacy in and around our community. One of my goals for this year is to increase Little Miss HISTORY’s presence in school communities by doing more classroom visits.

Your books are so well researched and designed, Barbara. And the illustrations are marvelous. How long have you been writing?

I have been doing lots of writing since by college days. Majoring in History and minoring in English and the classics involved lots of term papers and research. Pursuing graduate degrees in History sharpened my focus, but I have always been drawn to children so I found myself entering the education field. As a college freshman, one of my professors told me my research was impeccable, but that my writing style was “turgid and bombastic.” I guess that helped me to learn how to be concise. I now write one page historical articles for a local news magazine, concise blog book reviews, and children’s nonfiction picture books that generally fall within the 500 to 700 word range. Aside from an article or two for a scholarly journal, most of my published works appeared in the last five years. Ninety percent of my work is nonfiction focusing on history.

Can you give us a synopsis of The Little Miss HISTORY series and tell us what inspired you to write these wonderful books?

Get the kids hooked on history!

Get the kids hooked on history!

The Little Miss HISTORY Travel s to….. is a series of books using the Little Miss HISTORY character as a guide. She looks like a wannabe park ranger with pig tails and hiking boots three sizes too big. The aim of these books is to whet your child’s appetite for visiting these landmarks while having fun learning history. My objective in writing these books is to make learning about history something other than a series of facts, but instead the story of the people and places who have formed the heritage of America.

Do you have a favorite line to share from the series?

My favorite line does not come from a particular book. Little Miss HISTORYs motto, “If you don’t know your history, you don’t know what you’re talking about,” sums it up for me. I believe that history is our story, not a random series of events, but a process that involves the people of the past, their successes and failures, and their connections to us in the present. How we use what we learn and preserve these treasures will have an impact on what the future holds for our descendants.

How about a favorite character?

Little Miss HISTORY is the only character contained in each of the books of the series. She is a cartoon-like character based on a younger version of myself. Like Little Miss I hiked in my local area and trekked across the globe. I have visited more than fifty countries and a good number of states in America. Lately, I have been spending more time researching, revisiting and writing rather than traveling.

If I had to pick one favorite character in my series, it is Abraham Lincoln. I love the complexity of Lincoln’s character. He was a devoted father who grieved at the loss of two sons before his own death. While known as Honest Abe, he was a pragmatist who did not hesitate to use bribery to achieve his goals. Lincoln loved life; he educated himself and became a practicing lawyer. This president opened the doors of the White House to the people and listened sincerely to their ideas. He embraced technology, using the telegraph for the first time and inventing a device to move landlocked steamboats. I admire his persistence and resolve. He is a role model for me.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing your books?

For me, the most difficult part of writing is the rewrite and editing. There is so much that I would like to include in my books. While my targeted audience is children, most of the adults who use my books in the classroom or read them to children, tell me how many new things they have learned. So I do a careful research and try to bring to light information not commonly known about the historical personages, sites and events about which I write. For example, the Native American story important to Mount Rushmore, the pollution problems in Sequoia National Park, and the bravery of Alonzo Swann and his battery serving aboard The Intrepid. These things are all a part of history. The illustrations and photographs become an important part of that story and allow me to be as succinct as possible in the final word count, presenting as much information as possible in a suitable, appealing format for any age reader.

When not writing bi-weekly historical articles, researching, marketing or writing my own books, you will often find me reading other family friendly books. I post reviews twice weekly on my blog as well as review books on Amazon and Goodreads. As a retired educator and administrator, I share advice and expertise in developments occurring in elementary and special education with parents and educators.

In the evening I enjoy catching up on current events or watching movies with my husband. During the warmer months, I spend time gardening and boating. Of course I always find time to enjoy my grandchildren .

Where can readers find you and your books?

You can read about my books or contact me through my website: http://LittleMissHISTORY.COM At that site you can find reviews of my books, buying links, merchandise and more. All the books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent book stores.

Here are my social media sites where you can connect, join my mailing list or arrange a school visit.

SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES:

What’s next for author Barbara Ann Mojica?

MTVcvr New Book Little Miss History

                 Coming soon!

The next book in the Little Miss HISTORY Travels to series will be stopping by George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon, Virginia, where readers will learn about a side of America’s first president that few know much about. I have already begun working on three other books for the series, and will leave those a mystery for now….

It’s been wonderful having you with us today, Barbara—I can’t wait to follow Little Miss HISTORY as her journey through American history continues.

Readers:

Thanks so much for stopping by for a visit. I invite you to join the conversation (comments below) and share this post with your friends and family. Barbara and I would love to hear from you.

Happy Reading!

Bette A. Stevens

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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Don’t underestimate…


1034. Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of mystery. ~Max Planck


The wonder of it all! ~ Bette A. Stevens

Sacred Touches


Nature looks dead in winter because her life is gathered into her heart. She withers the plant down to the root that she may grow it up again fairer and stronger. She calls her family together within her inmost home to prepare them for being scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. ~Hugh Macmillan

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When the ages of ice came
And sealed the Earth inside
An endless coma of cold,
The heart of the Earth held hope,
Storing fragments of memory,
Ready for the return of the sun.

Let us then salute the silence
And certainty of mountains:
Their sublime stillness,
Their dream-filled hearts.

The wonder of a garden
Trusting the first warmth of spring
Until its black infinity of cells
Becomes charged with dream;
Then the silent, slow nurture
Of the seed’s self, coaxing it
To trust the act of death.

The humility of the Earth
That transfigures…

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The Stories Behind Our Books, an interview with Lois W. Stern


The Stories Behind Our Books

What Is Your Back Story?

Guest post by Lois W. Stern

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basLois. you have been a guest blogger here several times before, but as a quick intro, I’ll just say that you are an author, editor, presenter, marketer and innovator. Your title for this blog post really grabbed my attention. You are inviting our readers to tell their back stories. So please explain. What exactly do you mean by back stories?

lois_charli3_lite_blueBette, as authors we work so hard to polish our stories to perfection, often working for years before our manuscripts go to press. Hopefully, our readers enjoy the fruits of our labors; but as a presenter, I find that my audiences often find my back stories particularly compelling. So I share little back stories about what propelled me to begin my Tales2Inspire project. Why it was important to me to do this. How I went about the process. What challenges I faced along the way. If I had any cheering squad of supporters or any naysayers of non-support, and how they affected me as I pursued my dreams.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basSo now it seems you are inviting other authors to share the back stories to their books?

 

lois_charli3_lite_blueYes, that’s right Bette. And I’m hoping that we can select a number of their stories to appear right here on this blog. Does that work for you?

 

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basLove that idea, Lois. Let’s go for it! For those of you who don’t know Lois yet, she is the creator of Tales2Inspire, an ‘Authors Helping Authors’ project/contest. Suppose you tell us a bit about the back story to your Tales2Inspire books. For openers, what propelled you to begin this project?

lois_charli3_lite_blueActually, my first full length book had nothing to do with inspiring stories, Bette. Its title, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery, was a ground-breaker in many ways. (It even merited a few paragraphs on a front page of the Sunday Style section of the NY Times.) I secured a contract with a NYC agent, but despite a lot of publisher interest, ultimately they all turned it down. Why? Word was that I didn’t have a strong enough platform, and I didn’t even know the meaning of that word at the time!) That’s just the first part of my back story, the wake-up call to the state of traditional publishing today and my search for alternate paths to publication.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basWow, Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery sounds about as far from inspirational stories as you can get! How did that transition happen?

lois_charli3_lite_blueActually, it wasn’t a transition at all, Bette, just another side to my personality. I always loved inspiring stories, was drawn to them with an almost magnetic force. I even started a column for a New York webzine that I titled Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives several years before writing Sex, Lies and Cosmetic Surgery. I have a passion for sharing uplifting stories about good people and wonderful happenings because we rarely read about them. It seems that stories of heinous crimes and violence dominate the news.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basWe sure could use more uplifting stories in today’s world, so I understand your passion for writing inspiring stories. But why did you open up Tales2Inspire to other authors and turn it into a contest?

lois_charli3_lite_blueGood question, Bette, and the one I’m asked most often. After my letdown experience with traditional publishing, I began to think, this must be happening to many other authors, talented authors who are never given a chance because they lack that elusive author platform. That’s when I began to envision creating an alternate path for all of us, seeking ways to help strengthen our opportunities for discovery and name recognition.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basIt sounds like initiating this Tales2Inspire contest was just a seed of an idea in 2012. My guess is that you never dreamed it would grow in such strength and numbers as it has.

lois_charli3_lite_blueYou are absolutely right, Bette. Tales2Inspire is like a dream come true for me. I have self-published five Tales2Inspire books filled with amazing stories from an incredibly talented group of authors.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basI bet readers would be interested in the back story to how you spread the word? Did you meet any naysayers along the way?

lois_charli3_lite_blueI sure did! I first introduced Tales2Inspire on some of the LinkedIn writers’ groups, and ran into a few skeptics who challenged me every step of the way. I can think of one person whose comments were so nasty that I felt like bopping him over the head. But when that happens, you really have to take a deep breath and step back. It would be the kiss-of-death to become confrontational and feed into that negativity. So I would say something like, “I’m so sorry about the misunderstanding. Let me give you a little more information to help allay some of your concerns.”

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basIt takes a lot of diplomacy when your back is pushed to the wall. What about supporters? Can you name anyone in particular?

lois_charli3_lite_blueYes, Dan Poynter, an extremely successful self-published author and author advocate, whose newsletter had a subscription base of many hundreds of thousands. I had met Dan at several writer conferences. When I spoke to him about my project, he encouraged me to write up a blurb for his newsletter. What a difference that made! The spread was enormous. I have received winning stories from South Africa, Australia, England, Canada and from across the United States, all because of Dan. And having information about Tales2Inspire appear in his newsletters certainly gave my project an air of legitimacy.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basSounds like Dan is the guardian angel every author hopes for!

 

 

lois_charli3_lite_blueYou’re right, Bette, but unfortunately now we have to use the past tense. Dan passed on several months ago, but his legacy lives on.

 

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basBeautifully put, Lois. I think readers might like the back story to why you call Tales2Inspire a project as well as a contest.

lois_charli3_lite_blueI work feverishly to find new and innovative ways to strengthen my winning authors’ platforms, to give them many diverse opportunities for discovery. And I involve them in the judging phase of this contest. It’s all explained on my website at www.tales2inspire.com.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basFinally, I think our readers would be interested in your answer to this one front story question. What is the theme of your next contest and what are the entry criteria.

lois_charli3_lite_blueThis theme of this next contest is ‘inspiring animal stories’, subtitled Stories in Feathers and Fur. It’s underway right now and for any of your readers who are interested, or simply faintly curious, all the guidelines and submission details appear on my website at www.tales2inspire.com. And I guess I should mention that it is FREE. There are no submission fees to enter this contest.

72-Bette_21 TIGHT CROP basThank you, Lois, for a fascinating interview.

And now, readers, we’d love to hear from you. How about sending us the back stories to your books.

lois_charli3_lite_blueMy pleasure, Bette.

Before I say goodbye, I would like to offer your readers a gift —a FREE sampler of Tales2Inspire published stories. Just click on http://tales2inspire.com/?page_id=804 and it will be yours!

 

 My Author Links:

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

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“Peace Comes Walking” a poem by Bette A. Stevens


Peace Comes Walking POEM bas 2015

Wishing you love, joy and peace in the New Year and beyond. ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author/illustrator

[Bette’s Blog]

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!


AMAZING NEW YEAR bas 2016Dear Friends,

Thanks so much for helping to make 2015 an amazing year for me. Your friendship and your wonderful blog posts, your visits here and the encouraging words you’ve left are gifts that I treasure. May 2016 be an amazing year for you.

Wishing you all  “A Happy, Healthy & Blessed New Year!”

Bette

 

See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.


See the fireworks Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author created by blogging on WordPress.com. Check out their 2015 annual report.

Source: See the #fireworks I created by blogging on #WordPressDotCom. My 2015 annual report.

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