Thursday, December 20, 2012

Welcome Guest Author CJ Lyons!

NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author of Thrillers with Heart
I've been a storyteller all my life. When I was little this meant a lot of time spent in time-outs for not knowing the difference between fiction and non-fiction (or truth and lies according to my parents and teachers, lol!).

But all that time spent day dreaming and listening to the stories in my head meant that I often came up with solutions and possibilities that other kids who played by the rules didn't see.

Once I began putting my stories down on paper, my teachers encouraged me to keep writing. I had my first story published in our school's "literary" magazine when I was twelve and won my first writing contest when I was thirteen.

While I kept writing all my life, it was a long, long, long time before I actually thought about writing books for a living. Writing had always been my way of coping with the "real" world and coming up with ways to achieve my goals and dreams, like my dream of becoming a doctor.

My friends pushed me out of my comfort zone (that's what good friends do--and they're there to catch you if you fall or cheer you on when you win) and I gathered all my courage and tried to sell my books to publishers.

Back then it was hard work finding a publisher but now there are many ways to get your stories into the hands of readers. The most difficult part isn't being published, it's finding the courage to take the risk and let other people read your stories.

You need to be strong. Have faith in yourself. Not everyone will like your stories--just like you don't like every book your English teacher tells you to read. But some people will not only like the imaginary worlds you build, they'll want to return again and again.

If you want to be a writer, your job isn't to make everyone like your stories. Your job is to create a world and people it with characters who will come to life so that the readers who enjoy your writing want to lose themselves in the magic of your words.

That's why I believe the six most important words in the English language are: Let Me Tell You A Story.

Explore the possibilities with every new world you create. And have fun!

Happy writing,

About CJ:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sixteen novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a "master within the genre" (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as "breathtakingly fast-paced" and "riveting" (Publishers Weekly) with "characters with beating hearts and three dimensions" (Newsday).

Learn more about CJ's Thrillers with Heart at and everything she knows about being a bestseller at

Writing Prompt: A Brand New World
Good writing is all about creating characters who feel so real that the reader feels like they're seeing a whole new world through the character's eyes.

Look around at your ordinary world: your neighborhood or your school or favorite place.

How would this place look/sound/feel different to: an elephant escaped from the circus and on the run? Your great grandparents traveling forward in time from fifty years ago? Your best friend's little sister or brother?

Being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and view the world through their eyes is one of the most powerful gifts a writer has. Try experimenting with changing point of view next time you're stuck on a problem and need a solution or the next time someone upsets you or makes you angry.

Write down what they feel--use as many senses (smell, sight, touch, etc) as possible. See how your world comes alive, just by shifting your point of view.
You're Never Alone when Lost in a Good Book...
NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author of Thrillers with Heart
Want to know everything I know about becoming a bestseller?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday - Rain, Rein, Reign

Rain, Rein, Reign!
Rain is drops of fresh water that fall as precipitation from clouds.

Rein is one of a pair of long leather straps connected to the bit or bridle and used to control a horse or other animal.

Reign is a period during which somebody is dominant or powerful.
Write a story that includes one or more of today's word. 
 A king might hold the reins of his horse as he reigns over his subjects but they don't get wet unless it's raining.

Friday, December 14, 2012


Calling all teachers: To receive your FREE e-book copy of Storee Wryter Gets a Dog send an email request to Storee Wryter, AKA Author Barbara Simpson Carducci at 

Eight-year-old Storee hopes to be a bestselling author some day. Every evening before she goes to bed she looks back on her activities of the day in search of inspiration for her next story.

In this book, young readers are invited to share Storee Wryter’s adventure as she teaches her new puppy how to sit and stay and walk on leash without pulling. Also sharing in the fun is Storree’s cat, Critique, who is convinced that cats are smarter than dogs and isn’t shy about proving it.

When Storee’s neighbor, Kyria, suggests that ADDIE be trained as a therapy dog, the whole family gets involved in making a very important decision.Will Storee have time to take on this added responsibility? She’s already busy with school, soccer practice, dance lessons, and her writing. And what about the cost? What if they adopt the puppy and she’s not suited to be a therapy dog?

The answer to these questions and more are answered in a story that kids enjoy reading again and again and parents find informative and inspiring. Included in this 60 page, five chapter book are writing prompts inviting kids to explore their own creativity and a code they can use to download the audio book at no additional cost.

Why am I  making this book available for free to teachers?
It encourages kids to explore their creativity through writing.
It is my mission to find and mentor young writers and inspire a lifelong love of reading.
I wrote my first story ate the age of eight and the encouragement I received from an adult is the reason I'm still writing today.
Teachers deserve all the help and support they can get.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Writing Prompt - Christmas Traditions

Storee, Addie, and Critque are busy preparing for Christmas. Storee is selecting gifts for her friends and family. She saved her money throughout the year so she can surprise them with something special. She even has a gift for each of her pets.  She is also helping her mother and grandmother bake cookies.

Addie and Critique stay close to the bakers, hoping a treat might fall. They love the wonderful smells in the house at this time of year and the twinkling lights on the tree.  Addie thinks having a tree in the house is a very good idea even if it is just to look at.

Storee and her family take Addie to visit people in the hospital and nursing homes every weekend. It's nice to see them smile and pet Addie. Sometimes they sing Christmas Carols and Addie joins in too!

Write a story about Christmas traditions in your family. If you celebrate a different holiday, write about that. The most important thing to remember is that all families love to celebrate together and share their love for one another.

What religious or ethnic holidays do you celebrate in December? Here is a list of some of them and the date they are celebrated this year.
5 - Ashura (Islamic, Muslim)
6 - St. Nicholas Day (International)
8 - Bodhi Day - Buddha's Enlightenment (Buddhist)
8-16 - Hanukkah* (Jewish)
12 - Virgin of Guadalupe (Mexico)
13 - Santa Lucia Day (Sweden)
16-25 - Las Posadas (Mexico)
25 - Christmas (Christian, Roman Catholic, International)
26 - Boxing Day (Canada, United Kingdom)
26 - Kwanzaa (African-American)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday - Warn -Worn

warn, worn

warn (WORN) (verb)

To tell someone to do or not to do something in order to avoid danger or trouble: "Parents warn their children to be careful when crossing streets."

worn (WORN) (verb)

Having been affected by wear or use: "Matilda has worn the same shoes for five years!"

Paula tried to warn Bill that his shoes have holes in the soles. Actually, it looks as if he has worn them out.

Write a story using the words warn and worn. And don't forget, people can become worn out too!

I hope that doesn't happen to you!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday - Wail, Whale, Wale

English is a tricky language. Spelling can be a real challenge. Consider the three words Storee Wryter is working on this week.

wail – verb

To make a prolonged, high-pitched sound suggestive of a cry.

Storee didn't like to hear the baby wail when she was hungry. She got her a bottle right away.

whale - noun

A marine mammal shaped like a fish with flippers, a tail with horizontal flukes, and one or two blowholes for breathing.

"Critique is amazed by the size of that whale. It sure looks like a big fish!"


whale – verb

To hit repeatedly and forcefully. "

Addie was so excited about Thanksgiving treats she started to whale on her sleeping cushion with her paws.”
wale - noun

One of the heavy planks extending along the sides of a wooden ship

“ WhenStoree and her pets went to the marina to see the wooden ships she wondered if a whale ever bumped into the wale and made the captain wail.”


Write a story about a whale. Include the words wail or wale if you can. Have fun!

Teachers: For a free e-book version of Storee Wryter Gets a Dog send an email request to: or to the author at


Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday - Dangling Participle

Beware the dangling participle. It changes the meaning of the sentence.

After falling from the tree, Jane picked up the apple.
In the sentence above, Jill fell from the tree. Ouch!

Jane picked up the apple after it fell from the tree.
In the sentence above, the apple fell from the tree and then Jane picked it up. That's correct!
Write a story about what Jane did with the apple after it fell from the tree.
Did she settle for just one? Did she pick more and bake a pie? Where is the tree?
Is it a magic apple? Have you ever dangled from a tree?
Use your imagination and have fun writing.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Val Muller

Vall Muller and her Corgis
I’ve wanted to write since I could first hold a pencil. I realized from a young age that magic does exist—in books. Through books, an author can create any possibility imaginable. I even thought it was amazing that authors can communicate with people generations in the future. I was inspired by watching my two favorite TV shows—Rainbow Brite and He-Man (very different, I know)—by the writers’ ability to create a unique and clever world much different from our own. I knew that one day, I wanted to create such worlds.
The first “book” I ever wrote was a little stapled-together set of notebook paper called “The Mystery of Who Killed John Polly.” I wrote it in first grade (and illustrated it, too). It was a detective story about a murder. When the detectives couldn’t figure it out, a group of neighbors banded together to solve the crime and snag the perpetrator. I brought it in for show-and-tell in second and third grade, and the rest of the class was the thrilled. Also in first grade, my teacher asked us to write a poem about Halloween. She liked mine so much that she had me read it to the fifth graders. In fact, throughout all my school, my teachers frequently commented about how they expected to see my name in books and magazines one day.
Since then, I’ve been reading and writing as much as I can, and I’m loving every minute of it!
When I was younger, an elderly Italian couple moved next door. The woman’s Italian accent was so heavy that I could barely understand her. As a result, I thought she was a witch, and I hid from her whenever she came out. (I feel horrible about it now—she was the nicest woman in the world!). Still, I used that experience as inspiration for my newest book, The Sorceress of Stoney Brook, in which Adam Hollinger believes his new neighbors are witches.
Write about a unique, memorable, or scary exchange you had with a neighbor. Use that as the starting point for a story.
About the Author:
Val Muller lives in Virginia with two corgis and a husband. By day she teaches English, but by night and early-morning, she is a voracious reader and writer, reviewing one book every week on her blog and participating in a weekly flash fiction writers group (their serial story appears on her blog every Thursday). Her work has appeared in many magazines and anthologies and ranges from children’s literature to horror. You can see a full list of work on her website. Her horror novel for adults, Faulkner’s Apprentice, will be released in early 2013 with Crowded Quarantine Publications. 
Where to buy:
Corgi Capers 1 (
Amazon) (Publisher) (author’s website for autographed copy)
For Whom My Heart Beats Eternal (Amazon) (author’s website for autographed copy)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday - Good or Well


People are often confused about when to use the words good and well.

"Good" is an adjective (and a noun in some cases); "well" is used as an adverb unless used as an adjective meaning "healthy". If we need a word to describe noun or pronoun we use "good". If we need a word to describe verb (or sometimes adjective or other adverb) we use "well". For example:

Kate is a good piano player. (correct)
Kate is a well piano player. (incorrect!)

Kate plays the piano well. (correct)
Kate plays the piano good. (incorrect!)

My brother did well on the English test. (correct)
My brother did good on the English test. (incorrect!)

Do you think I'm doing well at school? (correct)
Do you think I'm doing good at school? (incorrect!)

After linking verbs such as be, taste, sound, smell, look, seem, appear we use the adjective "good" as we are describing the subject of the sentence, not the action of the verb:
The concert last night wasn't very good.
Your idea sounds good and if it works would be great.
It always smells good after the rain.

More confusion???

 If your doctor asks, "How do you feel?" You should say, I am well. / I feel well. / I'm feeling well. (refers to health, a physical state)

If you just scored a touchdown and your friend asks, "How do you feel?"  You should say,
"I am good. / I feel good. / I'm feeling good. (refers rather to emotional than physical state)

Write a story using the words good and well. How do you feel about that?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloweensie Contest - Halloween is for Cats!

Critique sat in the window watching for ghosts and goblins. She puffed her tail to its Halloween fluffiest. On Halloween a cat can pounce and hiss all she wants. It’s fun to be naughty, she thought, convinced that children feel the same way. Why else would they go door to door dressed as a witch or a bat?  

"Trick-or-treat is for cats too!," she meowed.

 Just then a monster appeared at the door. Woofing and barking, it bared its frightful fangs right at her!

“Easter is more for me,” she said hopping away. "Where can I find a nice bonnet?"
Halloweensie Contest Sponsored by Susanna Leonard Hill
The Contest: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (title not included in the 100 words), using the words witch, bat, and "trick-or-treat". Your story can be scary, funny or anything in between, poetry or prose, but it will only count for the contest if it includes those 3 words and is 100 words (you can go under, but not over!) Get it? Halloweensie - because it's not very long and it's for little people :)

Post your story on your blog today! - Wednesday October 31 - by 11:59 PM EDT and add your post-specific link to the list below. If you don't have a blog and would like to enter, you can simply copy and paste your entry in the comments section. Then have fun hopping around and reading all the fabulous entries! Anyone who has trouble commenting, please email (susanna[at]susannhill[dot]com) P.S. Special Note From Sandy:  due to the chaos and power outages caused by Sandy, if you would like to enter but need a little more time to post, please let me know! I will extend the deadline out to Friday if that helps anyone!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Welcome Guest Author - Clara Bowman-Jahn

Hi Storee,

So glad I could stop in and visit with you. You are an inspiration to me. I love your book and writing prompts. I understand that you would like a story about how I started writing. I have written since the eighth grade. My mother copied quotes from books she read and I started doing that, too, when I started reading books that impressed me.

Once upon a time in school I read books that impressed me and I started copying quotes from them about what I thought was earth shattering. Insights the characters had that were insights to me. Then one day I started writing my own feelings. I had been angry with my older brother and had no one to talk to about it. I started journaling about that and have never stopped. My journals are in a room I call my office. They are spiral notebooks full of emotion and ideas. They fill one and half filing cabinets. I have them organized according to year.  

The time I started writing was when I changed from just journaling to a character named Annie in a children’s book about four years ago. I was sick and wanted to record the birds outside my window. It was just coincidence that made me write it into a character instead of just journaling. During the time I was recording the “times or o’clocks" that the bird came out, I realized I wanted this to be a children’s book and after I had written it I began asking my kindergarten teacher sister questions about it. She really is the one who made it a reality. She encouraged me and re read it a hundred times giving me help with revisions. Without her support and encouragement and her saying I could write a children’s book I would not have continued.  

 Around this same time I had wanted to make my journals a public writing like a memoir but didn’t know that was what it was called. My writing education began then. I began to be interested in writing something more than just journaling. It was a sudden and unexpected turn of events. I had been a knitter until then. I knitted sweaters for everyone in the family and now I write. I still journal. But with a twist. I journal for someone else besides my self. I’ve included the reader.

Writing Prompt:  Write down your feelings the next time you are angry or especially happy. See what happens.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Welcome Guest Author, Dixiane Hallaj

Dixiane Hallaj

When I first read about Storee Wryter, I thought she was a lot like I was as a young girl.  I always loved to read and I always wanted to write stories.  There was one big difference between Storee and myself.  Storee sat down and wrote her stories.  I just started them and got discouraged.  Pretty soon I stopped writing because I thought I wasn’t any good at writing because I never wrote any good stories. 

It was many years before I realized that the only reason I didn’t write any good stories was because I didn’t sit still long enough to finish them!  Now I have three novels published, and have received awards for my fiction and non-fiction writing.  I still remember the thrill I felt when I held my first book in my hand, and I still think about all the good stories that were never written because I didn’t think I could do it.

I started writing about families like my own.  Have you ever tried to write a story about someone in your family?  Has your little brother or sister done anything that might be part of a funny story?  Have your parents every given you a surprise that would make a good story?  Has your grandmother or grandfather ever told you a story about something that happened long ago?  I’ll bet you could write a really good story about your family, but you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try—and you’ll never feel the thrill of seeing your very own story in print if you don’t sit down and write it.
Writing Prompt: Write a story about you or someone in your family.
Have some fun. Include one or both of the following words: refugee, Lola.

Thank you, Dixiane Hallaj!

Books by Dixiane Hallaj: Born a Refugee, Refugee Without Refuge, It's Just Lola.

Born a Refugee
Refugee Without Refuge
It’s Just Lola



What's the Word Wednesday - Accept, Except

Accept is a verb and it means to receive. You accept a package from the delivery man. You accept a prize when you win the writing contest.

Except is usually a preposition and means to exclude. I like all vegetables except peas. They are too squishy.

Except can also be a verb meaning to exclude. Please except me from the decorating committee.


Write a story using the words accept and except.  If you’d like to share your writing, post it on the blog for a chance to receive a book as a gift from Storee Wryter.

Teachers: For a FREE e-book copy of Storee Wryter Gets a Dog send an email request to: 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday - LITERALLY


OMG! Did you see my dad crumping? I literally died on the spot.

If you did, your friends would be visiting you in the cemetery and you probably wouldn't care that your dad did something silly.

The correct word is figuratively. You are using a figure of speech to add feeling to your words.

What is crumping? (also spelled krumping or krumpin) Crumping is a form of urban dance. To see kids curmping click on the link below.

Write a story and have one of the characters use a common figure of speech. For more fun, add a scene where some kids are crumping.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Navy Seals - Writing Prompt

According to information on their official website:
"Navy SEALs are a unique breed of warrior who conduct special operations in any environment, but who are uniquely trained and equipped to operate from, around and in maritime areas. SEALs take their name from the environments in which they are trained to operate: sea, air and land. Their small highly trained teams usually work quietly at night conducting some of the nation's most important missions. SEALs are constantly deployed throughout the world to protect national interests."

Write a story about a Navy Seal and a successful mission he takes part in.

When writing your story consider the following:  
  • Who is he?
  • Where did he grow up?
  • Why did he become a Navy Seal?
  • What is his mission?
  • What special training does he need?
  • What problems will he encounter and how will he solve them?

Your story can be written for very young children, teens, or adults. Try adapting your story for various audiences. For extra points, insert humor in your story.

For more information on Navy Seals go to


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

What's the Word Wednesday. ALOT is Not a Word

ALOT is NOT a word.

Think of it this way - You don't write afew or adozen. You don't have asecond helping of pie. However, you can have more if there is a lot left over.

Writing prompt:
Write a short story wherein someone has a lot of something.
Does your mother have a lot of patience?
Did you save a lot of money for college?
Do like enjoy writing a lot?
Teachers: To receive a free e-book version of Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, simply send an email request via this blog or to