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How do you feel about self-promotion?

When I started writing for children I naively thought if I write it the readers will come. But in today’s world there are so many things competing for our time and our children’s time that self-promotion is necessary for survival as an author.

Self-promotion makes me uncomfortable. For me it feels like selling. To sell something you are saying my thing deserves your attention and money over someone else’s thing. But what if the other thing is better? I wouldn’t want to steer you wrong😉. That’s why I couldn’t sell Amway eons ago, but instead watched as friends made a fortune! And I wasn’t very good at encouraging my kids to sell stuff for school fundraisers.

When I started writing for children I naively thought if I write it the readers will come. But in today’s world there are so many things competing for our time and our children’s time that self-promotion is necessary for survival as an author. And so authors seek followers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites. We are pushing our books and our expertise, hoping to connect with readers, writers, publishers, teachers, bloggers… We both support and compete with each other. I find it much easier to say something wonderful about a fellow author’s book than my own. I’d rather review someone else’s book than ask for someone to review mine.

BUT my books are worth promoting. They do offer something to readers, parents, teachers.

So here it goes! (although I am going to let the reviews speak for me!)

“I have a son 9 years old diagnosed with OCD 6 months ago. We have had a terrible time to get him to even go to therapy much less open up and participate. He has had much embarrassment and shame. I got him this book and at first he would not let me read it to him. Finally after much thought he decided to go for it. After reading this book he totally opened up to me and we talked for over a hour about his OCD. He said for the first time he didn’t feel alone. He read this book 6 times the first day and even slept with it. He couldn’t quit talking about how it is the best book he ever read. We were able to use this little boys struggles and compare them to my sons. It was like the first time that someone actually understood what he was going through. I was hesitant to buy it because it seemed to be for younger kids, but I sure am glad now!!”

“Reading this book for the first time with my son, was like reading his own story. We are fresh on this path of understanding, and for us, it is important he knows he is not alone. This book made me realize just how much he does that is not under his control. He also recognized himself in the story. Very good first step.”

“AND It changed my life. I might have my husband read this to me before bed. If I had this as a kid I probably would have turned out normal.”

“My son has PANDAS, which is an autoimmune response to strep throat. When he acquires strep he present OCD symptoms. Our lives were hell for 3 months until we bought this book. Mr. Worry helped my son overcome his compulsions and obsessions. I HIGHLY recommend this to anyone who has a child with OCD or anxiety issues.”

This book is a must for anyone who has or knows of a child with Tourette’s Syndrome. My 8 yr old son, who has Tourette’s, brought in the book to his 2nd grade class. His teacher read it aloud and then the class asked my son questions. The book went a long way in helping overcome the social obstacles that a child with Tourette’s will surely face, and clearly explains that some behaviors are truely out of the child’s control and why. I would recommend this book highly for children, parents and teachers alike!

“We love this book. It has helped my son to relate to a character in a book and realize that he isn’t the only one who has tics. It’s also helped his brothers to stop teasing him and get so aggravated when his tics become annoying.”

“I am a social worker as well as a mother of a child just diagnosed with Tourette’s. This book was wonderful! My son has been trying to understand what is going on with him and this book was very useful. It explains Tourette’s to the child as well as the adult. One thing I loved about the book is it shows the boy in the story having new tics. This allows for readers to understand that tics change as well as showing many types of tics. One example was the boy in the story began to spit, a tic my son has and gets made fun of for. My son’s face lit up and he felt less “weird”. My son and I are going to do a presentation at his summer camp so others understand why he does what he does, I will be including this book.”

“Youngsters will enjoy this tale because Grace’s kid-sized sass does not erode their family’s underlying strengths. Actually, caregiver trainers or parenting instructors can use this title to launch discussion on how active listening and flexible parameters underscore accountability in a kid-friendly way.”

“We enjoyed this book for many reasons! We read it to our grandchildren and they had a lot of questions which was exactly why you read great books. We had great discussions about why children may want to run away, getting mad, and communication being the key to not always getting your way! Also, the art work was spectacular!”

“What a charming book! I absolutely love the chat between the girl and her dad. He listens attentively to her, validates her feelings, and encourages her. Adding the yoga poses throughout the book is a major bonus. Thanks to the authors for incorporating yoga in an accessible and fun way. A gem of a book for young children!”

“I can see a variety of purposes for using The Day I Ran Away in the classroom, beyond just enjoying the book. Helping kids handle angry feelings is a good first logical choice. Everyone has moments when they’d just like to run away from the person or situation that is making them mad. Teaching how to write dialogue is another possible teaching point.  The Day I Ran Away is a great example of crafting a backstory, two sides of a physical space, and passage of time.”

“This book was a game changer for my foster son who had night terrors. Going to sleep was daunting and scary every night. We struggled for months before we found this book. After reading this book he was able to make a plan for when he woke up scared. He memorized the words and was able to help himself calm down before bedtime. Holly Niner writes such great books with the emotional health of kids in mind. I am so thankful that we found this book!”

“Super cute book and I love that a fellow speech language pathologist wrote it! Beautiful illustrations with an engaging story! Great for language lessons!”

“Lovely story that teaches how to approach the unknown with a spirit of problem solving & thoughtfulness instead of fear.”

 “LOVE this book and so do my grandkids. The story has so many things that kids love in literature. A very cute and smart mole, silly haunting monsters, repetition and a lot of humor. In addition, it has great problem solving and predicting components that teachers will love. Great addition to any teachers or children’s library.”

“This book is a great one to get students thinking about problem solving when things aren’t going well among classmates. How can you keep everyone happy when you are all so different and you all like different things? And if you are a parent who wants a new bedtime read, No More Noisy Nights certainly lends itself to that… put qualms about noises that go bump in the night to bed with the friends in this book.”

Now ONE more thing that makes me uncomfortable!

If you’ve read any of my books I’d be grateful if you found the time to write a review. Reviews do help new readers find their way to my books!

National Words Matter Week-March 7-13, 20201

Words do matter, so how many words does the average speaker use in a day?

A quick Google search did not give me a definitive answer with some studies saying around 7000 and others closer to 16,000. I think I probably fall on the higher end if there is a listening ear in my vicinity! Apparently, I’ve always liked to talk.  My mother tells stories about me standing (pre car seats and seatbelts) behind her in the car and talking nonstop!

I am also a reader of words. I always have a book (mostly fiction) in progress. I read the newspaper and I love the daily comics.

I work with words too. By education I am a speech therapist. Our business is communication. It’s all about words. You truly understand how much words matter when you have a client or patient that can’t speak, can’t communicate basic wants and needs, can’t use words to have meaningful relationships.

And I am a writer. The ideas that grow in my head want to be read by the picture book crowd.  And the words matter.  There are so few in a picture book, you need to make each one count. I love seeing the illustrations my words inspire and how they work with the words to tell the story.

With the written word we take the time to choose the right word. But when we talk words fly out of our mouths before our brain vets them.  Many words are loaded with emotions. However, the same word can be loaded with different emotions for each of us. Just like we all have a refrigerator, but if you opened the door different things would be inside. So, as writers and as people, we have to think about this as we choose our words in conversation, writing and on social media. We have to know our audience. Even a word that seems benign might not be. For me the word HOME brings warm feelings of family, love, acceptance, but someone who lives in a house without love and acceptance will react to the word HOME differently than I do.

Words don’t exist in a pure state, but in context. Not just the context of the words around them but in the context of the speaker and the listener. That’s why a book, a tweet, a news article can be liked by one person and rejected by another. Yet words are how we communicate, so we have to remember that  the words and what is behind them matter when we share them and when we listen to others.

Words matter; words are powerful. Use them wisely.

Every Word Counts

In all writing, but especially picture books, each word counts so you try to pick the best. Thanks you Vivian Kirkfield for presenting an opportunity for authors to hone their skills and write a story using 50 words. The #50PRECIOUSWORDS contest. Vivian know that every word counts as you can see if you read the wonderful picture books she’s written. Take a look at them here.

So without further ado, here are my 50 precious words!

The Rules and The What Ifs

Mom says-

No fish in the toilet.

  What if Fish wants to swim?

Make your bed.

What if Kitty is asleep?

Eat your vegetables.

What if Dog is hungry?  

Don’t wake Baby.

What if she wants a story?


Don’t interrupt!

What if I want to say I love you?

Thanks for reading!

Speaking of Brains…

March 15-21 is Brain Awareness Week. The idea is to “foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science.” Brains are AMAZING! Working 24/7 to keep us breathing, walking, talking, learning and living. Science has learned so much about how our brains work.

As a speech therapist and an author that writes for children, I am fascinated by how a child learns language. For example, did you know that babies throughout the world babble the same sounds. Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl calls them “citizens of the world”. At that point they could learn any language. Over time they weed out the sounds they don’t hear when their care takers speak.  Dr. Kuhl has done some fascinating research which you can hear about in this TED talk.

Her research suggests that babies learn language best from a speaker that is present with them. Not from audio only. Not from a person they are watching on a screen. Listening to language helps an infant learn the sounds of their native language. And the words, sentence construction, prosody and intonation. So, it follows that the more language a child hears the better they will be at using it. And what better way to provide an environment filled with language than to read, read, read to your children.

Books provide rich vocabulary, varied sentence structure and opportunities to engage in conversations about the books. Some find it difficult to talk to a baby since they don’t talk back, so books help immerse your child in language so they can begin to babble, then jargon and finally talk back to you!

Now, as promised, a recipe! Oatmeal is brain food and who doesn’t love a Butterscotch Bar! These are a favorite at our house!

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