Monday, January 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to One of the Happiest People I Know

(One more post....
then officially on BLOG BREAK :)

Today is my husband's birthday, one of the happiest people I know. He is incredibly blessed to have achieved so many of his dreams. He really is a happy man, and he would be the first to admit this if you were to ask. I know I am in there too somewhere (blush, blush), but that's a another topic for another time. 
Favorite photo of Vince and me, and the RV8. St. Maries, Idaho

Foremost on his mind has always been his desire to fly and a passion for aviation, as a young boy, a teen, and as the man I married at 19 (he was 20). It was a long struggle getting his pilot's license, interrupted by jobs, school, raising a family, home repairs, remodels, car, boat and RV repairs, etc. He also reads and edits the fiction I am writing and hope to publish one day. He has a heart for middle grade and young adult fiction, especially for troubled youth who were unfairly treated and are struggling to overcome the odds. To give you some idea, he read the Harry Potter series twice!

So is it any wonder it took twelve years to build an airplane in our garage? (Yep....that's right, in our garage :-).

But as the pilot's license eventually became a reality, so too did the plane he labored over and eventually flew. He soloed in 2009.

Here is the RV8 in 2007. The wings are hanging upper left. I helped with the riveting and did the upholstery, but Vince did everything else. It is still amazing to me an airplane was built in our garage. The boys in the neighborhood would stop by to visit and just drool. One boy even went on to get his pilot's license and became an instructor. He is now training in Montana to be a missionary pilot 
Vince at 14
There have been other accomplishments of note . . . finishing his
degree in his forties, a university career (he is about to retire), teaching computers in Malaysia for one year, and playing classical guitar, but flying and owning an airplane have always been somewhere at the top. If you have ever doubted that dreams can be achieved, he is the perfect example they can be.  

Happy Birthday Vince!!

Copyright 2014 © Sharon Himsl 

Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Friday, January 24, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things: Sometimes We Need a Break

I think I need a break......
A Sleigh Ride through the trees would be so nice right now.
I rebelled and avoided my computer for most of the day. I'm feeling pressed for time as the end of January approaches one week away. But as always, there is much to celebrate and it is good to reflect on the week . . . I know I will feel better after I do :)

First, it is always good to remember ....

 I have no Yesterdays,
Time took them away;
Tomorrow may not be--
But I have Today. (Pearl Yeadon McGinnis)

 Things to celebrate this week....

1) I  put my living back together after the fireplace install (had to move the furniture back). I actually like rearranging furniture. I can work out a lot of stress this way, and anyone who knows me has seen me do this a lot over the years. 

We are still waiting to have the rug re-tacked. Ugh. A small thing really, but finding a carpet business willing to take on a small job when they have more important jobs to do (i.e. large carpet orders) was a bit irritating. "I'm your future customer," I wanted to say . . . "or not." Okay, long story short, someone finally agreed to help . . . celebrating one merchant's kindness and consideration.

2) Completed some serious edits on the last chapters of my book. Not sure I'm going to make the 'end of month' deadline for a full-on submission, but I'm going to try. I'm a whole lot closer this month than last month.

3) Read 3 chapters for my Master Gardener's class and took three online quizzes. Holy moly! I'm learning about cell structure, botany, soil chemistry, and all things related to plant science and horticulture. Gardening is all about good planning and knowledge beforehand.

But the good news is I'm really enjoying it! Met someone in class who planted an heirloom apple orchard 2 years ago...179 trees! Can you imagine? She and her husband are having a ball taking care of them and already have a cider press ready to go.

4) Edited a book proposal on Biofuel Production for a professor I occasionally work for. I know nothing about Biofuels, but it will be interesting to learn about this subject. We certainly need more fuel alternatives!

5) Celebrating a product called 'Arnicare' for bruises and aches. When I slipped on the ice and hit my head last week, I had a terrible bump and bruising. Still do, but it looks a lot better. Hope I don't shock two writer friends this Saturday. I know I look like someone punched me in the eye.

6) Attending a SCBWI writer's workshop in Spokane this weekend called "Building a Following: How to Grow Your Author Platform Before and After Publication." Hopefully, I will learn something!!

So back to needing a break, I really do. I'm going to drop off the blog grid for a while, probably for the rest of January. I need to get my book ready for it's crunch time. But I'll be back, I promise. Blogging is in my blood. Sometimes we just need a break . . . 

Hope there were good things in your week, too. 

Celebrate.... was started by Viklit at Scribblings of An Aspiring Author. Sign up below and meet some terrific writers and bloggers!  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Independent Publisher Book Awards: 2013

Last but not least, the IPPY Awards. The Independent Publisher Book Awards were created in 1996 in recognition of independent authors and publishers. Since then there have been over 3,000 IPPY Awards . . . and the number is growing. Included are genres reviewed here, but there are plenty more at their site. Check it out!

Fiction: Juvenile

--Gold - The Bulldoggers Club: The Tale of the Ill-Gotten Catfish by Barbara Hay (The RoadRunner Press)
--Silver - Martin McMillan and the Secret of the Ruby Elephant by Elaine Russell (Create Space)
--Bronze - Prairie Journey by Frances Bonney Jenner (Irie Books)

Fiction: Young Adult

--Gold - The Immortal Von B. by M. Scott Carter (The RoadRunner Press)
--Silver (tie) - Bi-Normal by M.G. Higgins (Saddleback Publishing) and Untraceable: The Nature of Grace series, Book 1, by S.R. Johannes (Coleman and Stott)
--Bronze - The Elephant of Surprise by Brent Hartinger (Buddha Kitty Books)

Fiction (Multicultural): Young Adult and Juvenile

--Gold - Three Years and Eight Months by Icy Smith, illustrated by Jennifer Kindert (East West Discovery Press)
--Silver - Robinson’s Hood by Jeff Gottesfeld (Saddleback Educational Publishing)
--Bronze - Tessa’s Dance by David Edward Walker (Thoughtful Publishing Company)

Nonfiction (Multicultural): Young Adult and Juvenile

--Gold - People Who Said No by Laura Scandiffio (Annick Press)
--Silver - I Call Him My Brother by Chris Morse and Robel Alemu; edited by Carolynne Krusi (Authorhouse Publishing)
--Bronze - Rangoli: An Indian Art Activity Book by Suma O’Farrell (Mazaa LLC)

Nonfiction: Young Adult and Juvenile

--Gold - Their Skeletons Speak by Sally M. Walker and Douglas W. Owsley (Lerner Publishing Group)
--Silver - Understand Your Self by Dale Carson and Kishore Khairnar (Bick Publishing House)
--Bronze (tie) - Soup Should Be Seen, Not Heard! by Beth Brainard (Good Idea Kids); and Wondrous Creatures by Dean Jacobs and Amy Tharp (Self-Published)

Picture Books: Children (7 and under)
--GoldArlo Needs Glasses by Barney Saltzberg (Workman Publishing)
--Silver (tie) - A Night Time Story by Roberto Aliaga, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer (Cuento de Luz); and Bee Life by Lynette Evans, illustrated by Francesca D’Ottavi (Insight Kids)
--Bronze - You Can Count on Gracie by Joan Harrison (Little Minute Publishing)

Picture Books: All Ages

--Gold - America’s National Parks: A Pop-Up Book by Don Compton (W.W. West)
--Silver (tie) - Whose Egg? by Lynette Evans, illustrated by Guy Troughton (Insight Editions); and Rabbityness by Jo Empson (Child’s Play)
--Bronze - Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud, illustrated by John Holyfield (Candlewick Press)


E-Books: Juvenile and Young Adult Fiction 
--GoldWish I could have said goodbye by Shari A. Brady (Wise Owl Press)
--SilverFinding Peace: A Medieval Romance by Lisa Shea (Minerva Webworks)

--Bronze - Long Black Veil by Jeanette Battista (Self-Published)

E-Books: Children's Picture Books
--Gold - Red Is… by Ivy Wong (Ripple Digital Publishing)
--Silver - Every Walrus Can Fly by Brian Phillips (The Basement)
--BronzeEgg Mania by Sherry Maysonave (Empowerment Productions)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Africa Mercy - Square Wheels: One Nurse's Journey

Hi....another email post from Marilyn in the Congo on the Africa Mercy! The challenges continue, this time with a large turn-over of personnel and translator problems, but the beauty of Mercy's mission to aid those who otherwise lack access to health care has not changed and God continues to provide.

Marilyn is now on Facebook and I urge all of you interested in her  journey to connect with her there. She has posted some new photos. You might want to mention you discovered her at my blog, so she doesn't think you are some spammer. For now, I will continue to post her letters.

(This is a running email post written by a volunteer nurse serving on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels the African coast. In your charitable donations please remember this worthy organization).

January 19, 2014
Square Wheels

 In honor of the new year, I've started something new--facebook! Not that I know what I'm doing... Anyway, if you want to "friend" me and I haven't found you to ask you yet, maybe you could let me know how to find you on facebook, if you are there. Hopefully, the more savvy folks around me will help me to figure out privacy settings, messages vs. timelines, and so forth. And maybe facebook will help me to know what's going on in your worlds, if I can figure out how to navigate it without spending all my waking hours poking around.

We've had three weeks of surgery since the Christmas break. They have been difficult weeks, in a way. There's a large turnover in personnel at the end of the year, a problem that seems to have affected the OR particularly hard. Not only did we have a new surgeon, we had a new team leader in the eye OR, new nurses to assist and to scrub, and new translators. They had to reinvent the wheel back there, it seems, and that slows things down. Then, they were having a lot of difficulty with the new translators not showing up for work on time and taking unseemly long breaks when they did show up. Our eye patients only get a local anesthetic, and they need to be able to cooperate with instructions during surgery. The whole system breaks down if we can't communicate.

The OR solved that problem by borrowing one of our translators from the peri-op room. Ordinarily, that would have been a hardship for us, but the OR was working so slowly that we didn't have any trouble keeping up with them.

Because of the difficulties in OR, our work in the peri-op room was tedious, with long hours of boredom waiting for patients. We start more than an hour before the OR does, preparing the patients, and we stay half an hour after they do to discharge patients, so we were "working" eleven hour days, but accomplishing little, with only ten patients per day. After a couple of weeks of this, our day crew got restive. The harmony of our little team started breaking down. When we keep them until after 4:00 or 5:00 PM, it becomes difficult and expensive for them to get home; they started demanding changes. We are looking at some options, but haven't solved the problems yet. It has been a bit disheartening to see the camaraderie of our team fraying at the edges.

One obvious solution is to do fewer surgeries until the OR team gets up to speed. That is not a good solution for a couple of reasons: 1. fewer patients receive their sight (this is the reason that resonates with me...), and 2. we are under a tremendous amount of pressure to reach our target numbers to keep both the donors and the Congolese government happy. (sorry, my gut reaction to that isn't very nice.

Maybe it's a good thing I'm not the manager who has to deal with these realities.) Compounding the problem, one surgeon scheduled for two weeks in February just canceled, and last-minute efforts to fill the gap were unsuccessful. So, that's another 100-120 surgeries not able to be done. Our team leader is trying to make up some of the difference by pushing the surgeons she does have lined up to do more surgeries each day than originally planned. In the peri-op room, it feels like we're between a rock and a hard place...

Have you ever contemplated the mystery of life? For an organism to survive, every single function of the body must be in working condition at all times. If the heart misses 6 beats, you're toast. If the liver, if the kidney, if the brain... Have you noticed that even when you have something as minor as an infected toe, it affects the whole body? So it is with organizations trying to perform complicated tasks. If you haven't got a translator, if someone in the home office fails to order supplies, if a surgeon's family member gets sick, if, if, if... you have to have it all, or you have nothing. 

While not as complicated as what even a single cell must do to stay alive, still I find it a marvel that Mercy Ships can keep on functioning despite the obstacles that arise. When everything is functioning smoothly, we're traveling on nice round wheels. These last few weeks have felt like square wheels most of the time, and one day, I declared we even had triangular wheels. Not a smooth ride! And yet, still I see the Lord's hand of provision. Patients continue to receive sight. We do still function as a team despite the challenges. The mission of Mercy Ships goes forward, pretty much on course. 


[Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.]

Friday, January 17, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things: Batteries and Ice Packs

Still setting up wiring on left and carpet needs to be re-tacked
I almost hesitate to call this a small thing. My husband and I are enjoying a brand new fireplace, one that I never dreamed possible until now. It is gorgeous! I have spent untold hours this past week just staring at the flames and enjoying the toasty warm heat. Two weeks ago we were relying on an electric fireplace to supplement the heat downstairs, which was quite pretty to look at but a joke at putting out heat when the temperature dipped.

I live in a five-year-old, two-story home, with a natural gas furnace in the attic. You would think that is a marvelous thing at first . . . no furnace room in the basement to deal with, no furnace in the garage taking up valuable space. Imagine all that free space! But who would have thought a furnace in the attic would be a factor in heat distribution, which it absolutely is? Part of the problem has been the poorly designed duct work. It never occurred to us that duct vents in the ceiling would be a problem. Duh . . . heat rises! Consequently, our feet froze on the bottom floor and it was too warm on the top level. Great in the summer when air conditioning kicks in, but a disaster in the winter. Problem solved with our new gas fireplace.

Now here is the small thing I'm really excited about: BATTERIES. Due to a minor problem with the installation (a tile section arrived cracked and a replacement is en route), our pilot light has been operating on batteries for the past week. Once the tile piece arrives, the fireplace will be AC wired permanently. In the meantime, the delay has allowed us to operate the fireplace on batteries, which we were quite curious about since we were told the fireplace would operate in a power outrage. It does!

We occasionally get power outages in the Pacific Northwest that, if bad enough (as happened in the Midwest recently), can last up to two weeks. My mother was without power on the west side for this long, but had a gas fireplace that (operating without the AC fan) kept her quite warm. Just an hour and a half to our north in Spokane, an ice storm came through one year that put a large number of homes out of power for as long. Yay . . . we now have backup!!

Here is another small thing to celebrate this
week. ICE PACKS! I slipped on our driveway this week, hit my head and bruised my elbow. Thankfully, no concussion or anything serious, but I am black and blue and have a headache. It all started out as a walk on a bright, sunny day. I failed to see the black ice. Ee--eh! I'm back to using my tried and true treadmill . . .

Celebrate.... is the brainchild of Viklit at Scribblings of An Aspiring Author. You can join, too. Go ahead, sign up below and meet some terrific writers and bloggers!

What are you celebrating this week?

Copyright 2014 © Sharon Himsl

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Young Reader's Choice Awards: 2013

The YRCA is the oldest children's choice award in the U.S. and Canada. Sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Library Association (rep. Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Washington; Alberta and British Columbia), the award was first established in 1940 by Harry Hartman, a book seller in Seattle. He believed that every child deserved the opportunity to read a book that gave them pleasure. Award nominations come from children, teachers, parents and librarians. 


--The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion, reprint 2012) (age 10-14)
--Smile by Raina Tegemeir (Graphix, 2010) (age 8-12)
--Crazy by Han Nolan (HMH Books for Young Readers, reprint 2012) (Age 12 up)


Junior Division (12 under)
--13 Treasures – Michelle Harrison 

--Big Nate: In a Class by Himself – Lincoln Peirce
--Fatty Legs: A True Story – Christy Jordan-Fenton
--Lone Wolf – Kathryn Lasky
--The Lost Hero – Rick Riordan
--The Mysterious Howling – Maryrose Wood
--The Strange Case of Origami Yoda – Tom Angleberger
--Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer – John Grisham

Middle Division (mostly age 12 up)
--As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth – Lynne Rae Perkins (Greenwillow Books, reprint 2012) 

--The Cardturner – Louis Sachar (Ember, reprint 2011)
--Halo – Alexandra Adornetto (Feiwel & Friends, 2010)
--Heist Society – Ally Carter (Disney-Hyperion, reprint 2011)
--The Red Pyramid – Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion, reprint 2011) (Age 10-4)
--The Second Trial – Rosemarie Boll (Second Story Press, 2010)
--Smile – Raina Telgemeier (Graphix, 2010) (age 8-12)
--Sorta Like a Rock Star: A Novel – Matthew Quick (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Senior Division (teen)

--Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver (HarperCollins, reprint 2011)
--Bruiser – Neal Shusterman (HarperTeen, reprint 2011)
--Crazy – Han Nolan (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2012)

--Matched – Ally Condie (Speak, reprint 2011)
--The Replacement – Brenna Yovanoff (Razorbill, 2010)
--Ship Breaker – Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, reprint 2011)
--Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green and David Levithan (Speak, reprint 2011)
--Winter Shadows: A Novel – Margaret Buffie (Tundra Books, reprint 2012)

Monday, January 13, 2014

YALSA Awards for Young Adult: 2013

Here are some of the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) book awards honoring young adult writers in 2013. Among its missions, YALSA strives to evaluate material of interest to teens (12-18) and to expand the library's outreach. Additional awards and book summaries can be found at their website. Check it out! 

Morris Award (honors best YA Debut Books)

--Seraphina  by Rachel Hartman (Random House for Young Readers, 2012)

--Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013)
--Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (Ember, 2013) 
--After the Snow by S. D. Crockett (Feiwel & Friends, 2012)
--The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth (Balzer + Bray, reprint 2013)

Michael L. Printz Award (honors literary excellence in YA)

--In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers, 2012)

Honor Books:
--Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2012)
--Code Name Verity  by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion, reprint 2013)
--Dodger  by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins Children’s Books, reprint 2013)
--The White Bicycle  by Beverley Brenna (Red Deer Press, 2012)

Nonfiction Awards (honors best YA nonfiction) 

--Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point, 2012)

--Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, a biography by Karen Blumenthal (Square Fish, 2012) 
--Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great ---Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012)
--Titanic: Voices from the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson (Scholastic Press, 2012)
--We've Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson (Peachtree Publishers, 2012)

Friday, January 10, 2014

The 39 Clues: Cahill Files: Spymasters by Clifford Riley: Book Review

The 39 Clues: Cahill Files: Spymasters
Author: Clifford Riley
Publisher: Scholastic Inc., 2013
Age level: 8-12, Middle Grade
Pages: 250

The 39 Clues: Cahill Files: Spymasters continues the Cahill family saga and the secrets they have guarded for generations. Their enemies, the Vespers, are constantly on the prowl searching for artifacts, documents, and other items capable of causing grave harm in the world. Three stories are told.

In the Redcoat Chase, twelve-year-old Frederick is sent on an important Cahill mission. America is at war (1814) with Britain. Frederick must locate the map to Gideon’s ring. Frederick races to the White House on horseback, chased by a Redcoat Vesper. Frederick meets the first lady and both are nearly killed in the search.

In The Houdini Escape, young Harry Houdini is a poor immigrant’s son in New York City (1891), earning little performing magic tricks. Overhearing a man bullying his ailing father (a Cahill descendant), Harry confronts a powerful Vesper named Zoltan. Instead he is kidnapped, bound, and thrown into the harbor. Cleverly skilled with ropes, Harry easily escapes. Zoltan captures him again and threatens to kill Harry’s family, unless he agrees to steal a valuable museum artifact. Harry agrees, performing his greatest magic trick yet. 

In The Submarine Job, fourteen-year-old Fiske Cahill rushes to help his sister. She is guarding a ring the Vespers desperately want. The year is 1955. Fiske takes the ring and goes undercover as the grandson of an admiral. He boards the USS Nautilus, the first ever nuclear submarine, and heads for safety in Puerto Rico. However, an undercover Vesper also boards and Fiske must fight for his life.

Readers can learn more online and continue the popular adventure with the game cards provided. Having jumped into the middle of this series, it was not clear to me what exactly the 39 clues are. Riley seems to have deviated from the original quest, but maybe it doesn't matter. The 39 Clues: Cahill Files is an entertaining read, a good adventure story for boys especially, and full of historical references (at least in this edition).

Copyright 2014 © Sharon M. Himsl

Sharon M. Himsl

Writer/Author. Blogging since 2011. 
Published with Evernight Teen: 
~~The Shells of Mersing

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weekly Recap: Touching the Stars

For me it is a pretty full plate this January. I no longer work outside the home, so some of you may just roll your eyes with envy. Juggling family, writing, and other passions with an outside job is demanding, no question. Done that, been there before! I do have a part-time editing job, but it so part-time it hardly counts. 

Started my Master Gardener class yesterday and excited I can finally do this, as there was never enough time before. Homework, lectures, and online exams will keep me busy through mid-April and I am meeting a great group of like-minded gardeners. Still determined to submit my novel by the end of this month. Worked on it almost 17 hours last week toward that end. Later this month, I will be attending a regional SCBWI workshop (Spokane, WA) called "Building a Following: How to Grow Your Author Platform Before and After Publication." Working on one book review, but (darn) missed my 'read one book a week' goal last week, so need to think about that. All in all, it's lining up to be a month of learning. Hope your week is going well. Is it?

Below is a quote from a book called The Treasure Chest, a high school graduation gift to me from my parents many years ago. I cannot tell you how often I have read and enjoyed this collection of quotes and poetry over the years. I will read it my entire life. Today's quote about 'touching the stars' seemed so applicable to the goals I am seeking and the frustration I sometimes feel. I love how it ends. I could not help but think of blogger friends like you and others in my life :)

"You Can Touch Stars"

Stars have too long been symbols of the
unattainable. They should not be so. For
although our physical hands cannot reach
them, we can touch them in other ways

Let stars stand for those things which are
ideal and radiant in life; if we seek sincerely
and strive hard enough, it is not impossible
to reach them, even though the goals seem
distant at the onset.

And how often do we touch stars when we
find them close by in the shining lives of
great souls, in the sparkling universe of
humanity around us!

(Esther Baldwin York)


Monday, January 6, 2014

Good Reads Choice Awards 2013: Young Adult and Younger

Really like the Good Reads Choice Awards. Readers vote on their favorite books. Be sure to click on the Good Reads link for more information and other genres. Below is a handy list of books for  young adults and younger. Books are listed in descending order, the first one having the most votes. Not my choices necessarily, but it is interesting to see what readers like. Enjoy!

Best Young Adult Fiction (20):

--Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (21,818 votes)
--Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
--Dare You To by Katie McGarry
--United We Spy by Ally Carter
--The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
--Just One Day by Gayle Forman
--Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
--Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
--Ali's Pretty Little Lies by Sara Shepard
--Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter
--If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
--This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
--The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
--Game by Barry Lyga
--Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
--Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles
--Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
--The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
--Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
--Golden by Jessi Kirby 

Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction (20)

--Allegiant by Veronica Roth (36,157 votes)
--Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
--The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead
--Opal by Jennifer L. Armentrout
--Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer
--Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
--The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
--The Elite by Kiera Cass
--Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
--Prodigy (Legend) by Marie Lu
--Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
--Requiem by Lauren Oliver
--The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
--Light by Michael Grant
--Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
--The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
--Etiquette Espionage (Finishing School) by Gail Carriger
--Siege and Storm (The Grisha) by Leigh Bardugo
--The Rithmatist (Rithamatist) by Brandon Sanderson
--The Fall of Five (Lorien Legacies) by Pittacus Lore

Best Middle Grade and Children's books (20)

--The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (42,877 votes)
--Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
--Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell
--The Land of Stories (The Enchantress Returns) by Chris Colfer
--Doll Bones by Holly Black
--The Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen
--The Sun Trail (Warriors: Dawn of the Clans) by Erin Hunter
--Fyre (Septimus Heap) by Angie Sage
--Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
--Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
--Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool
--Chasing the Prophecy (Beyonders) by Brandon Mull
--Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz
--Trust No One (The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers) by Linda Sue Park
--The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood & Co.) by Jonathan Stroud
--The School of Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
--The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente
--The Royal Ranger (Ranger's Apprentice) by John Flanagan
--Loki's Wolves (The Blackwell Pages) by K.L. Armstrong and M.A Marr
--Rump: The true Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Best Picture Books (20)

--The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (9,087 votes)
--The Dark by Lemony Snicket, Jon Kassen
--Chus's Day by Neil Gaiman, Adam Rex
--A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke
--Journey by Aaron Becker
--Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea
--My Brother's Book by Maurice Sendak
--Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett, Kevin Cornell
--Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
--That Is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems
--The Matchbook Diary by Paula Fleischman, Bagram Ibatoulline
--Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown
--Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Tom Lichtenheld
--Open This Little Book by Jesse Kausmeier, Suzy Lee
--On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne, Vladimir Radunsky
--Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner
--Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, Joy Ang
--Deck the Walls! A Wacky Christmas Carol by Erin Dealey, Nick Ward
--If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, Erin E. Stead
--Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller, Anne Wilsdorf

Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebrate the Small Things: Even a Messy Desk

Was pleased to see the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop has been extended . . .

Okay, sharing my messy desk with the blog world today, going public here. It's been a busy two weeks, blogging (and visiting blogs) more  than ever before, with the exception of the A-Z in April, and despite the holiday. I have enjoyed the conversations at your blogs and learned more about you, as we share our lives and different perspectives, and (always, it seems) offer words of encouragement, but as you can see . . .  My husband even pulled out the vacuum cleaner twice, despite the fact I have an i-robot that does just fine, thank you.

Another noticeable difference with increased blogging is that my stats have changed, not the total number of page views or visits necessarily (although there, too), but the audience. I was dealing with a lot of  'referrer spam' before . . . Vampire and 7secrets, to name two. For some reason, the more you blog, the more referrer spam drops off. I'm not exactly sure why or what the purpose of this type of spam is, except that I am told (online) it is nothing to worry about unless you start clicking on the links, which increases the visits (Eeeh....did this in the beginning out of curiosity). Have any of you dealt with referrer spam before?

So . . . today I am celebrating the Messy Desk. Such as it is, it has brought exceeding joy, some thoughtful moments, and a means to doing great things . . . We should always think 'big', right?

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul.
Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.  
(Pamela Vaull Starr)

Copyright 2014 © Sharon Himsl

Thanks Viklit for making this blog hop possible.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cybils Award Finalists 2013: A Handy List

Children's and Young Adult Blogger's Literary Awards

Here are some of the finalists. Listed are genres I tend to review, but there are more! Click here for other awards and more information.

Fiction: Middle Grade 

--Escape from Mr. Lemoncellos' Library by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Books for Young Readers)
--Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz (Scholastic)
--Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg (Scholastic)
--The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. by Greg Pincus (Arthur A. Levine)
--Ultra by David Carroll (Scholastic Canada)

Fiction: Picture Books

--Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett (Disney Hyperion)
--If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano (Roaring Brook)
--Journey by Aaron Becker (Candlewick Press)
--Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (Little, Brown)
--Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeir (Chronicle Books)
--Sophie's Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller (Schwarts and Wade Books)
--The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud (Chronicle Books)

Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction and Fantasy): Elementary and Middle Grade

--Jinx by Sage Blackwood (HarperCollins)
--Lockwood & Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud (Disney Hyperion)
--Rose by Holly Webb (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky)
--Sidekicked by John David Anderson (Walden Pond Press)
--The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson (Tor Teen)
--The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt (Atheneum)
--The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Walker Books for Young Readers)

Nonfiction: Elementary and Middle Grade

--Anubis Speaks! by Vicky Alvear Shecter (Boyds Mills Press)
--Barbed Wire Baseball by Marisa Moss (Harry N. Abrams)
--How Big Were Dinosaurs? by Lita Judge (Roaring Brook)
--Locomotive by Brian Floca (Atheneum)
--Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick Press)
--The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman (Roaring Brook)
--Volcano Rising by Elizabeth Rusch and Susan Swan (Charlesbridge)

Fiction: Young Adult

--Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children)
--Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin's Griffin)
--Out of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys (Philomel)
--Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein (Disney Hyperion)
--Sex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (Carolrhoda Books)
--Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick Press)

Nonfiction: Young Adult

--Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays (Roaring Brook)
--Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler (Walker Books for Young Readers)
--The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List by Leon Leyson (Atheneum)
--The Bronte Sisters: The Brief Lives of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne by Catherine Reef (Clarion Books)
--"The President Has Been Shot!" The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (Scholastic)

Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction & Fantasy): Young Adult

--Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst (Walker Books for Young Readers)
--Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
--Pantomime by Laura Lam (Strange Chemistry)
--Shadows by Robin McKinley (Nancy Paulsen Books)
--The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson (Arthur A. Levine)
--The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
--William Shakespeare's Star Wars by Ian Doescher (Quirk Books)

About Me

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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.