Guest Post: Jennie Fitzkee

Jennie is an American blogger. She is a truly inspirational teacher of young children, with a real love of reading, books, and education.
She is not only the teacher I wish I had had, but the one we should all have had.

Here is her guest post.

How Reading-Aloud Made Me the Teacher and Person I Am Today.

My very first day of teaching preschool in Massachusetts, thirty-two years ago, was both career and life altering. Lindy, my co-teacher, asked me to read the picture books to children each day after our Morning Meeting. Sure (gulp)! I was new, scared, and unfamiliar with many children’s books. I had not been read to as a child, except for The Five Chinese Brothers from my grandmother. I still remember the page that opens sideways, with the brother who could stretch his legs. One book, and to this day I remember it vividly.

The book I read to the children on that first day of school was Swimmy, by Leo Lionni. It was magical for me, and for the children. The story line, the art, the engineering, the words… it was a taste of something I knew I had to have. And, I couldn’t get enough.

The next few decades I consumed children’s books. I realized that the more I read aloud, the more the children wanted to hear stories and be read to. I displayed books in my classroom front-facing, so children were drawn to picking up and ‘reading’ the books. In this way, the children wanted to handle, hold, and turn the pages of books. This was a big deal! It was true hands-on learning, with exploding questions and interest. I was the yeast in the dough, or perhaps the books were the yeast. Oh, our Morning Meetings grew. We had to include a children’s dictionary on the bookshelf so we could look up words that were new. That was fun!

By this time I had become picky about good books. Whenever I read a good book, it sparked so many questions and conversations, that sometimes it took ‘forever’ to get through the book. The first time I read Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky, it took forty minutes to finish reading the book. I started with the inside cover, a picture of the courtyard, and simply asked questions; “Where is this?” “Does this look like Massachusetts?” “What is different?”

Reading picture books triggered big discussions. I often stopped to ask questions. Sometimes I would simply say, “Oh, dear…” in mid-sentence and let the children grab onto that rope. Yes, I was throwing out a lifeline, a learning line, and it worked. It was exciting, always engaging.

Before long, I started reading chapter books before rest time. This was unconventional for preschoolers, yet it felt right because children were on their nap mats and needed to hear stories without seeing pictures. I started with Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and have never looked back. The first thing children learned was ‘you make the pictures in your head’. This is thrilling, because we now have non-stop reading and multiple discussions, without pictures. Thirty minutes of pretty intense reading-aloud. My chapter books include the best of the best.

My teaching had become language based and child centered. Often there were ‘moments’, things that happened because we were reading all the time. Reading had spilled over into my curriculum. The day we had set up a restaurant in housekeeping, children were ‘reading’ menus and ‘writing’ orders on clipboards. I was spelling out the words to one child and listening to questions about the menu from another child. I doubt these moments would have happened had I not read so often in the classroom.

I wanted to tell families what happened, about moments of learning, and of course about reading-aloud. So, I started to write more information in my newsletters, and include details. I wrote, and I wrote, sharing small moments and relating those moments to the big picture in education.

I attended a teacher seminar, and Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, was the keynote speaker. As he spoke I wanted to jump up and rush over to the hundreds of teachers in the room, screaming, “Are you listening to this man?” “Do you realize how important his message is?” Instead I wrote him a letter and included one of my newsletters to families that spoke about the importance of reading-aloud. That sparked his interest in my chapter reading, and he visited my classroom to watch. I’m included in the latest version of his million copy bestselling book.

My public library asked me to direct a library reading group for second and third graders. This was another new adventure in reading. I read The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, among many wonderful books. Again, these were new books to me, and I loved it. This past summer I embraced YA books, thanks to reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I read every Kate DiCamillo book I could lay my hands on. Every one.

My reading and reading-aloud continues to grow. Thank you Read-Aloud West Virginia for getting the message of how important reading is to the public. We are making a difference.


I have followed Jennie’s blog for a long time now, and I don’t even have children. But I get inspiration and wonder from reading about her dedication to teaching, and her love of the kids she cares for. Please read her blog. And if you have small children, you will want to follow her heartwarming stories of a life devoted to education, kindness, and compassion.

Guest Post: Brenda Scruggs

Brenda is a published writer and blogger and has sent me a guest post titled ‘Chasing Your Dream’.

Here is her own bio.

‘Brenda Scruggs is an inspirational multi-genre author of 7 books with at
least 25 more floating around in her thoughts. She studied journalism in
high school where she learned graphic design and typesetting. She believes
the written word can transport a person to different times, places and
where dreams come true. Her words bring the imagination alive experiencing
diverse emotions leaving the reader wanting to know more.’

Chasing your dreams can sometimes feel like when you watch fireworks
during holidays, they seem to explode in our mind only to fizzle out when
we don’t have the courage to chase them.
Do you have a burning desire to do something? Is there a dream that keeps
coming up but you’re too afraid to step out into it?
Bravery is facing your fear and having the courage in taking steps
regardless of how it feels. The word “courage,” is related to the French
word “Coeur,” which means “heart.” Have you heard the phrase,” to take at
heart?” If you take heart in something, you are encouraged and made to feel
optimistic by it. Synonyms: be encouraged, be comforted, cheer up.
In this post, I’ll share some helpful tips in chasing your dream.
Remember, real bravery isn’t about fearlessness; it’s about taking steps
in spite of it.
Courage is your fuel in achieving amazing success in life, follow/chase
your dreams.
• If you’re a writer, you could be the next best-seller.
• If you’re a singer, you could be the next pop or country, etc. singer.
• If you’re an inventor, you could invent the next creation that could
change the world.

Dreams are limitless. It’s the possibility of having a dream come true
that makes life interesting. So, don’t limit your dreams, live them.

Can you remember when you were a child and you chased your friends in a
game of tag or hiding seek? You would run as fast as you could to tag the
person you were chasing so that they would be it. In other words, you
chased the person for a purpose. When you chase something, for instance,
your dreams, it is for a purpose and that purpose is to see the dream come
to life.
Here is a story about a man that had the courage to continue when
rejection wanted to stop him.
George Lucas spent four years sending the script for Star Wars around to
various studios. After numerous rejections, he didn’t give up even when
Universal Studios and United Artist both turned him down. Rejection is a
mountain that wants to stop you.
Then finally, an executive from 20th Century Fox who had seen his American
Graffiti film and been impressed by it decided to give him a chance with
his Star Wars. The film was made for $11 million dollars and was released
in 1977. Since then the original Star Wars trilogy has grossed over 2.4
billion dollars. If he’d let his negative inner voice get to him, he would
never have ended up having the highest grossing film of all time. George
Lucas had the courage to chase his dream.

What’s keeping you from chasing/pursuing your dream?
 Could it be fear?
 Could it be not knowing where to start?
 Could it be finances?
 Could it be doubt in achieving your dream?
It’s easy to talk yourself out of something, but face the fear, begin
somewhere, invest in yourself little by little, and CRUSH doubt!
Steps in Chasing and living your Dream

1. Vision your dream
Think to yourself and imagine seeing yourself living your dream. Activate
your imagination and see where you want to be.

2. Design your dream
Once you have a vision of your dream, build a blueprint of it on paper.
Jot down an outline of ideas, and techniques.

3. Work your dream
Now that you have the vision and outline for your dream, you will need to
work it. This is where you need to collaborate with all the tools and
materials that you will need for the finished product – your dream.

4. Launch your dream
Now that you’ve seen your vision, planned it, worked it, it’s time to
launch it. Launching your dream can be exciting and scary at the same time.
An assortment of thoughts will bombard your mind some good others not so
good. But believe in your dream. Believing is a vital part of your dream.

I am an author of contemporary/historical romance and I am
following/chasing my dream.
Free Gift!
I have a historical romance on my website for you. Visit
to get your free book, “A Noble Wife.” Plotted in Nashville, Tennessee in

Norma Gentry is a natural entrepreneur. Her ideas are more than dreams,
they become reality. Her beauty is more than skin deep. Her heart is in
everything that she does from being a wife to starting different
enterprises. Though a lady’s place is in the home, her husband encourages
her dreams. But when the train that she is returning home on derails, her
life is changed forever.
Jim Gentry a notable councilman in the city of Nashville, Tennessee
considers himself fair and is respected by the townspeople. Known for his
astuteness and investments, he took the position of a moderator on the city
council to aid in the growth of this great city. But his world comes to a
standstill when the train Norma, his wife is on derails.
Book Trailer:
If you liked, “A Noble Wife,” then
You May Also Like…

Ladies of Entrepreneurship
The Ladies of this saga are Proverbs Thirty-One women. They are women who
are business orientated, strong-willed and determined to live the dream
that God has placed inside of them. Follow these women of free enterprise
and see how their story unfolds as God secretly works behind the scenes
fashioning love together, healing wounds and bringing dreams to life. Three
books in the series – Many Hats of a Lady, Sadie’s Mustangs, and Clara’s
Each novel can be read as a standalone book or as a historical saga.
I also have Contemporary books
The Chocolatier, Michaela’s Justice
And one Non-fiction – Fear- It is a Devour
Until next time… Chase your dreams and catch them!
Brenda Scruggs

Brenda can be found at:
Amazon Author Page:

Check out Brenda’s site or social media pages. You might enjoy her books!

Guest Post: Colin Guest

Here is a guest post from someone whose name is actually Guest! That must be a first. 🙂
Writer Colin lives in Turkey, and his blog name is ‘Tigerman’.

As an expat, Colin Guest has worked in fifteen countries and lived a life most only dream. Click on the word Home to get a link to his site.

Here is Colin’s own bio.
‘Colin Guest is a freelance writer who has published eight books, with a ninth due out shortly. Five of them have been made into audio format via Amazon ACX, with a sixth to be available in early August 2019. Apart from his books, Colin has had articles published in various online magazines, with one published in a UK expat magazine. Colin also writes poetry with several in the final four in poetry contests. He once took part in a live American radio show, did a one-hour podcast re his writing and has taken part in a number of online interviews. A newspaper in his hometown in England, UK, published an article on Colin and his writing. Colin is keen on environmental and wildlife issues. His pen name Tigerman, comes from his love of tigers, with his adopting one for the past twelve years. Colin is married and lives in Istanbul, Turkey.’

This post is intended to give encouragement to other authors.

The first book I wrote was a memoir, and foolishly as it turned out, paid a chunk of money to get it printed. Despite what I had previously been informed, I could not reduce the cost the company decided to sell the book. Due mainly to this, and I must admit poor professional editing, there was only one copy sold. After my contract period was up, I cancelled sales of the print version. I later had it re-edited and self-published and eBook version. A lesson from this is to make sure that what you are going to receive from such a company is what you wanted. After writing several more books without managing to attract the attention of a publisher or agent, I struck lucky. In the space of two days I received offers from two companies to publish my books. One is a media company that is dealing with the majority of my books, and have produced new cover photos and republished the books. The other is a small publishing company that has published an erotic style romance story of mine in both print and eBook format. They will also be publishing a print version of my novel, A Dangerous Love Affair. At present, it is available in eBook format or as an audiobook via Amazon ACX. This version I am delighted to point out has recently had a significant increase in sales.
I am presently in the process of having Fatal Love; my erotic style romance story made into an audiobook, which is due to be completed in October. I also have plans in progress to have my memoir An Expat’s Experiences of Living in Turkey, made into an audiobook. It covers my living here for the past thirty years and includes advice to those thinking of moving to Turkey. I think that audiobooks are an excellent way to go for authors. It can help get your books read by more people at little cost to yourself.
On this note, I strongly advise all authors and budding ones to ensure that their manuscripts are professionally edited before trying to get them either published by a company, or self-publishing.
Given my late success, do not give up when seeking an agent or publisher. Remember, positive thoughts lead to positive results.

Here are some links to Colin’s work. Desperation Rules the Day Impending Disaster Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps For the Greater Good An Expat’s Experiences of Living in A Dangerous Love Affair Never Pull the Tiger’s Tail Terror Holiday Fatal Love guest/

Guest Post: Stevie Turner

I am very happy to present a story from Stevie.
She is a published writer, and a very engaged blogger. Her own sites can be found here.

This is Stevie’s own introduction.

‘Welcome to my website. I hope you enjoy discovering my contemporary women’s fiction, suspense stories and humorous novels, reading their reviews, and also finding out more information about me. Every now and then I’ll be interviewing interesting people, adding a newsletter, and also giving away a copy or two of my books on my Competitions/Giveaways page.
I am a part-time medical secretary who has been writing poems and stories for years as a hobby, but now in middle age I’ve decided to try and put in place what I’ve been wanting to do all for ages – to publish my books and make a living as an author. I know it will be a hard road to travel, and at the moment I’m at the start of the journey, but who knows what’s around the corner? However, there is something I do know; whatever is coming at me I shall look forward to…….

I am married with an ever-expanding immediate family, and I live in the beautiful countryside of East Anglia in the UK. I gain inspiration while walking along the country footpaths and byways around my village. I like to read autobiographies, biographies, fiction with a biting wit, realistic family dramas, and faction (fiction based on fact). I have tried desperately to expand my preferences to include other genres, but unfortunately it just doesn’t work for me. I am happy to read and review Indie books that incorporate my preferred genres, so contact me at if you have a book you think I’d like which needs a review.
To date I have published 8 novels, 4 novellas, and 18 short stories. My short story collection, Life, is available free to anybody who signs up to my mailing list. I am pleased to have won a New Apple Book Award and a Readers’ Favorite Gold star for ‘A House Without Windows’, and to have come third in the 2016 Drunken Druid Book Awards with ‘Repent at Leisure’. My suspense screenplay ‘For the Sake of a Child’ is currently being read by an independent film production company in Los Angeles.
My (sometimes) humorous memoir ‘Waiting in the Wings’, is now available on Amazon.’

And here is her story.

‘A Single Red Rose’.

She always took a bunch of flowers to her father’s grave every year on the anniversary of his passing. Her brother Steven had never bothered, but it assuaged her guilt somewhat at not having been the daughter he’d wanted her to be. She had never felt close to him at all, but now he was safely in the afterlife she could tend his grave and ensure the marble stone bearing his name was kept relatively free of moss.

The cemetery was bathed in warm dappled light on that late summer’s afternoon. Suzy parked at the entrance and picked up her bag containing gardening and cleaning equipment, idly re-reading the now familiar poignant inscriptions as she strolled along the path between lines of graves towards where Desmond Warren rested for eternity.

The path ended by a yew tree under which lay her father in a pre-paid family plot big enough for two. Suzy gazed at the grave in surprise, remembering with an ironic smile her mother’s wishes to be buried as far away from Desmond as it was possible to achieve. The tombstone was sparkling in the sunshine, but not a weed or clump of moss could be seen. She was further intrigued to discover one flower lying on top of the gravel chippings; a single red rose.

The petals had not withered, and there were no signs of decay. Suzy checked all around her, but nobody else was in view. She picked up the rose and inhaled its heady scent, pushing back memories of dripping cut flowers and her mother’s precious crystal vase as it shattered against the conservatory wall.

She replaced the rose, noticing at the same time how the chippings underneath it had been disturbed. Suzy dug down a little deeper into the gravel and pulled at the corner of a white card which had been secured by the weight of stones above. The card depicted a printed photo of her father as a younger man standing smiling with his arm around her mother’s waist. She recognised the background as that of her parents’ favourite beach, Southwold, on the Suffolk coast.

The card begged to be opened. Blinking back tears, Suzy read the words that her mother had written in the shaking hand of illness and old age:

‘Des, much water has gone under the bridge since that terrible day when I could stand no more pain. The years without you have been the happiest I’ve known, but your life was cut short before I’d gained enough insight and wisdom to realise why you were the man you were. Forgive me. I was young with two children who needed a loving and secure home.

I cannot turn back the clock and undo the wrong I did, but now at the end of my life I ask for your forgiveness. Here with you is where I want to lie when the Lord feels fit to take me. Steven knows my wishes, and brought me here today. I remain as always, your wife, Alice’.

There were no kisses or declarations of love. Suzy sighed, shovelled some of the chippings to one side, and re-buried the card. Then she laid her bouquet next to her mother’s, stood up, and quickly walked away.

Stevie has an Amazon page too.

Please check out her sites, and see what she has to offer.

Guest Post: Kim Barker

One of my longest and dearest blogging friends, the lovely Kim Barker, has finally sent me a guest post.
Kim is an ex-librarian, and mainly reviews books on her wonderful blog. Here’s a link

Nobody does blogging better than Kim. She currently resides in Alabama, USA, with her husband, Tom.

The Migraine Mafia, by Maia Sepp ~ 5.0 Stars.

I received this ebook courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Viive is a 30 something Canadian with a loving husband Nate, and a great career. She has it all right? Not quite. You see Viive also suffers from excruciating migraines, and now they have put her job in jeopardy. She’s lost countless friends to this disease, will she now lose her career? You would think a book about someone in chronic pain would be depressing and hard to read. Not so. The Migraine Mafia although a work of fiction is also extremely informative through the support group Viive joins, The Migraine Mafia. The novel is also hysterically funny in parts. One of my favorite scenes is when Viive discovers that gluten may be aggravating her migraines. She and Nate embark on a gluten free shopping trip and purchase all sorts of wonderful things. Then they get home and discover not one single thing is gluten free! I couldn’t stop laughing because that’s exactly what happened to my husband and I. And that’s an example of why this book is so wonderful. It speaks to migraineurs in a deeply personal way.Viive is lucky in that she has a loving and supportive husband, mother, and brother, yet one of the friends she has lost is Nate’s sister who just doesn’t get that migraines are so much more than “headaches”. Maia knows the toll this horrible disease takes on sufferers from not only what I already mentioned, but also missed vacations, get-togethers, etc. I HIGHLY recommend this to migraineurs, significant others, family, friends, and colleagues of people who suffer from this disease. I also think fans of women’s fiction would enjoy this.

Please check out Kim’s blog. Send her some love, and meet one of the most engaged bloggers on WordPress.
You will be glad you did, believe me!

Self-Publishing Basics

More essential advice for anyone thinking of publishing their own book. This is clearly explained, and offers free tips in the correct sequence.

Read carefully! 🙂

Nicholas C. Rossis

Linda Cartwright | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookThis is a guest post by Linda Cartwright. Linda is an educator and a writer on the verge of coming out as an independent author after years of freelancing and ghost-writing. Her darkest secret is that writing is only her second favorite thing to do… after reading. You can follow Linda on Twitter.

In preparation for her own book launch, Linda has been studying self-publishing basics. She’s sharing here what she’s discovered so far, from choosing the right publishing platform to creating a killer book cover.

Self-Publishing Basics

Writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's book

We shall come from a presumption that your book is great. You thought of a good story, you were tenacious enough to write it, this baby is ready to see the world. We are not talking about writing a book worth reading, we are talking about how to self-publish it in a way that people will want to read it.

Also, since…

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How to Develop Your Brand as a Book Author

Nicholas and Stewart bring you valuable advice about how to get your book noticed! Aspiring authors, and those already published, may find this extremely useful.

Nicholas C. Rossis

Stewart Dunlop | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookThis is a guest post by Stewart Dunlop. Stewart is a full-time content marketer at Foundr and part-time reader, gamer & footballer. You can follow or tweet him @stewydunlop.

How to Develop Your Brand as a Book Author

Build an author brand | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's bookImage by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

From a literary point of view, we live in blessed times! Thanks to the development of modern communication devices and platforms, almost anyone can put their thoughts on paper (or the word editor of their choice) and release them to the world.

We now have access to printed books, e-books, audiobooks, and more. This allows the information to flow unhindered and creates a wonderful environment for those who love to read and learn.

But this level of progress has also led to a change in your role as the author. Back in the day, your job would’ve been over once you applied the last of the…

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