Friday, August 31, 2012

Life's Wonderful Little Surprises!

Yesterday at the library, I happened to flip through the July/August 2012 issue of Practical Homeschooling magazine to find a feature on my daughter, Halima, highlighting her debut novel Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe. I didn't know they had selected her for their "Show and Tell' column, so it was quite an exciting yet surreal moment. Needless to say, I am very proud of her--smiling from the inside out!

To read more about Halima and her novel, visit her on Facebook, her author website, her blog, or read her interview on The Writer's Block.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest Post: How to Encourage Early Childhood Literacy by Nancy Parker

Today, guest blogger Nancy Parker offers some tips on how to get children reading earlier. These techniques may be applied at school or at home. Remember, the world is a classroom! Enjoy!

Teaching a child to read is one of the greatest gifts that anyone can give to a child. As educators of young children, teachers have been given the perfect opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child by encouraging a love for reading. For this reason, the following list of ideas has been created to help teachers to begin to introduce early childhood literacy in their classrooms while keeping children engaged and entertained.

1. Act it out-Children learn best when they participate in multisensory experiences. Therefore, they should be involved in group readings. They can act out stories with puppets or dress in costume to help make the story relevant to them.

2. Introduce themes with books-At the beginning of a new theme or unit, teachers can read a book to help introduce the concept to the children. Because children like puzzles, it can be fun to read the book, and then let children take turns guessing what will be the new theme.

3. Make a class book-Young children love to talk about their favorite things. Therefore, a class book can be made in which children include pictures of their favorite objects with a short line written at the bottom by the teacher. Then, whenever their teacher reads the book, the children will become personally involved in the story as their page is read to the class.

4. Place books everywhere-Instead of allowing children to grow up believing that books only belong in the library, children should be encouraged to read books throughout their day. Therefore, placing a few carefully selected books throughout the classroom can encourage a child to pick one up when they are curious about a subject.

5. Use Rebus Recipes-By incorporating rebus books and recipes into their lessons, teachers can teach children how to follow directions along with the value of print for conveying a message. For young children, rebus recipes should be kept to only a few simple steps. Teachers should guide children through the process by pointing out how the pictures work with the words to tell a story.

6. Post names everywhere-One of the first words young children learn is their name. Therefore, children’s names should be posted throughout the classroom. They can be on lockers, chairs, and tables. Not only will this help children to keep up with their things, but it will also help them to learn to recognize their name in print.

Young children are naturally drawn to literacy related activities. They love to participate in story times and practice writing through scribbles and carefully drawn letters. By giving children a variety of opportunities to practice their developing skills and explore new books, teachers will be paving the way to early childhood literacy for every child in their classroom.

Author Bio

Nancy Parker was a professional nanny and she loves to write about wide range of subjects like health, Parenting, Child Care, and Babysitting, find a nanny tips etc. You can reach her at nancy.parker015 @

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Post: Mellanie Crouell Interviews Scott Owens

Greetings, All! Today author and poet Mellanie Crouell,  an alum of The Writer's Block, is helping me with the "heavy lifting". Get to know Mellanie by visiting her blog:



1)  What is your position/title in the North Carolina Poetry Society?

I am Vice-President of the NC Poetry Society.

2)  How long have you been a part of this organization and when was it established?

I have been a member of the Poetry Society for 4 years but an officer for only the past 3 months. The Poetry Society was founded in 1932.

3)  What are some other organizations you are associated with?

I have been Vice President of the Poetry Council of NC for 3 years. I coordinate the Oscar Arnold Young Award for NC's best book of poems. I am a Regional Representative for the NC Writers' Network. I am Founder and Coordinator of Poetry Hickory; Founder and Coordinator of The Art of Poetry at Hickory Museum of Art; Editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review; Editor of 234; and Local Coordinator for 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

4)  I enjoyed your poem "All the Meaningful Noise"; your inspiration came from a visit to my hometown of New Bern. Do you receive inspiration from nature or other parts of life?

I see/hear poems everywhere. I think most of us would if we could only keep our eyes and ears open to perceive the connections that form poetry. Nature does provide a great many of the impressions that become poems, but conversation, observation, meditation, memory, reflection, and many other sources provide just as many of the ideas, images, and words that eventually find their way into a poem.

5)  How long have you been in the writing industry?

I have been writing poetry off and on since about 4th grade (1972). My first book was published in 1993. Around that same time I served as Associate Editor of Southern Poetry Review. Then I was away from poetry for about twelve years. Since returning to it, I have been broadly and deeply involved in writing, teaching, publishing, editing, and organizing things related to poetry.

6)  What do you feel is your best piece of work that represents your personality?

That would be very difficult to say. Our dreams represent different aspects of our personality, so do our poems. I doubt that any single poem, perhaps not even a single collection of poems, could be complex enough to fully represent anyone's personality, especially since I believe our personalities change over time. I suppose if I had to choose one of my books for anyone who wanted to "know" me to read, it would be The Fractured World; and if I had to choose a single poem, it would be "Breakings."

7)  What quality makes your work stand out from others?

I hope readers can answer this question better than I can. In my own mind the one thing I think I do a bit differently than many of the other poets I read, that avoid having a singular voice or style. I don't believe in deciding that I am one kind of poet or another. I let the poems tell me what form, style, or voice they want to take, and I intentionally read a wide range of work to keep from settling into one style or another. Many of my readers have commented on the accessibility of my poems. I do like to be understood but try to be careful not to minimize the reader's opportunity to experience the full emotional-intellectual-perceptual moment of the poem.

8)  Scott, you teach at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory. How many years how you been teaching?

I have been here for five years. I have taught for more than twenty years.

9)  What would you say to any aspiring writers who are working towards their big break?

Read more. I think that's what every published poet says, but it's the truth. Most "aspiring" poets simply don't immerse themselves in poetry enough to develop the fluency necessary to create good contemporary poetry. There is plenty of bad poetry out there that won't help at all, but an anthology like Poulin's "Contemporary American Poetry" is a great place to find a dozen poets that one can relate to. Then, reading those poets more widely will begin to develop that necessary fluency. If the poems are good, everything else will eventually take care of itself

10) What current projects are you working on?

My tenth collection, "Shadows Trail Them Home" (a collaboration with Pris Campbell), is due out from Clemson University Press in October. I'm teaching workshops at Coastal Carolina University (9/22) and Barton College (10/20), and giving readings at McIntyre's Fine Books in Pittsboro (8/26) and Callanwolde in Atlanta (11/14). I am working on my 11th book, a collection of love poems, which I think will be coming out from Main Street Rag in 2014. And I am working on another collection that examines how certain images define our lives over time. I don't have any sort of publication date on that one, but it's shaping up to be one of my favorites.

11) What are some contests that we can look forward to in 2013?

Poetry contest listings are available on the NC Writers Network website or in Poets & Writers.

About Scott

Scott Owens’s tenth collection of poetry, Shadows Trail Them Home, a novella-in-poetry collaboration with Pris Campbell, is due out from Clemson University Press this fall. His prior work has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, the Next Generation-Indie Lit Awards, the NC Writers Network, the NC Poetry Society, and the Poetry Society of SC. His poems have been in Georgia Review, North American Review, Chattahoochee Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Poetry East among others. He is the founder of Poetry Hickory, editor of Wild Goose Poetry Review and 234, and vice president of the Poetry Council of NC and the NC Poetry Society. Born and raised in Greenwood, SC, he teaches at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, NC.

His previous books are For One Who Knows How to Own Land (Future Cycle Press, 2012); Country Roads: Travels Through Rural North Carolina (with Clayton Joe Young) (Blurb, 2012); Something Knows the Moment (Main Street Rag, 2011); The Nature of Attraction (with Pris Campbell) (Main Street Rag, 2010); Paternity (Main Street Rag, 2010); Book of Days (Dead Mule, 2009); The Fractured World (Main Street Rag, 2008); Deceptively Like a Sound (Dead Mule, 2008); and The Persistence of Faith (Sandstone, 1993)

Contact Scott


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Guest Post: How My Platform Expanded As An Author by Barbara Ebel, M.D.

To be honest, I’m not sure if it’s my platform that expanded or my dog’s!

When I first moved to Tennessee seven years ago, I had already been vigorously writing adult novels. Since I am also a medical doctor, I had been known as Doctor Ebel in the places and practices I had lived and worked, but in TN, my medical career became secondary.

One of my interests is raising and training dogs. I started working my Chesapeake Bay retriever therapy dog, Chester, in the region at nursing homes and schools and he started to take on a special place in people’s hearts. Along with that, the philanthropic woman lugging the dog around went from Doctor Ebel, a woman sometimes saving lives as an anesthesiologist, to “Doctor Barbara” or “Chester’s Mom.”

One day, after many people had learned I was an author, this remark resonated loudly: “Since you’re already an author, why don’t you write a children’s book about Chester? The kids already love him so!”

So, you know what’s coming. I did. I also took hundreds of pictures of the dogs, made the story nonfiction with real photos, and wrote it from Chester’s point of view.

But here’s the endearing part where my platform grew even more. After the paperback, Chester the Chesapeake, started making it into children’s homes, another question was posed to me: “When’s the next one?”

Well, my adult books with medicine sprinkled into the background of their plots have subsequently become popular, but Chester the Chesapeake now has three paperbacks and four ebooks! I plan on the series wrapping up with two final books in the next few years.

So I guess this writer who is buried in a natural wildlife corridor writing adult novels has expanded her platform, but it’s Chester the Chesapeake who’s the real celebrity.

There’s a whole world out there to write about, but sometimes your story is right under your nose!


About the Author

Barbara Ebel is a physician and writer. She attended medical school and residency in Kentucky and practiced in Louisville and Florida. She is also a medical guest lecturer on topics ranging from physician suicide to Malignant Hyperthermia and has also written a self-help health book called Younger Next Decade.

Doctor Barbara sprinkles credible medicine into the background of her novels and her operating room scenes shine, but her characters and plots take center stage. Operation Neurosurgeon: You never know…who’s in the OR was her first fiction novel and Outcome, A Novel: There’s more than a hurricane coming… is her latest.

Contact Doctor Barbara

Website for Chester, his books, and his events:

Website for Barbara Ebel’s adult books, book trailers, reviews & awards:

Twitter: @barbaraebel