850,000 at Amazon

What does this ranking mean?

Well, to me it means a couple things. I will not pretend I know exactly what Amazon thinks of it.

1. Amazon has a ton of books.
2. Doing better than a couple weeks ago when it was ranked over 1,000,000.
3. That promotional stuff I’m doing may have had an impact.
4. Perhaps I ought to write more like this one since it’s resonating with the audience…
5. I will be getting a royalty check!

Number 5 makes me feel like a ‘real’ author.

Note: Still figuring out how to get a description for the book on Amazon.

The Art of Science: Day 6

See great behind-the-book information with Crystalee at Crystalee Calderwood – Writer and Poet.

Reading and revising this book so much before it came out brings up memories from when I was in junior high. No, this isn’t based on my life, but I did try to incorporate things I remember being good and bad.

I also remember where I was when I was physically writing it. Forgot to add that to the ‘do you know’s’ when Crystalee asked. I had a lot of business trips with one co-worker during the time I was finishing the rough draft. So, I wrote in the car (longhand, since I didn’t have a laptop) while he drove, though I forget our actual destinations (perhaps Ohio?). I wrote on a chartered jet when we went to Canada, too.

He got used to me writing randomly, even seemed proud that I used his (first) name as one of the last names of my characters. I lost touch with him after we both left my former employer. He was pretty cool.

After I picked up my friend at the airport Saturday night, we talked about this book and now I’m thinking about writing more in this genre (mainstream young adult) or possibly middle-grade.

But first I need to figure out how to write and also take care of my child! Stay tuned here for a wrap-up tomorrow. Will also announce the winner of the free book by the end of the week.

The Art of Science: Day 5

Late with this post for a couple of reasons. First, I waited to see if the hostess today would get hers up, but I haven’t heard from her. This is unusual, but as things go with people you only know online – something could prevent her from getting her access to a computer and that’s just how it goes. We’ve all had moments where life gets in the way.

Instead of going somewhere else, I ought to say something here. What about this book? (Also keeping in mind things that will be said tomorrow at the final stop.)

One thing that excited me were the illustrations. I didn’t know how they’d go at first. I didn’t know how they’d be chosen or what exactly to expect.

I didn’t choose the  cover art. Vivian had an idea and communicated it with Stephen, but I fell in love with it when I saw it. Then it came time to talk about the other illustrations.

I chose them, where they went, what they portrayed. It took me awhile to put it together. I have so much to learn about the limitations of the medium chosen- the pen and ink drawings- and how best to fit it with the story.

At first I tried to choose illustrations that would be too complicated. I really like how they turned out in the end. Stephen did a wonderful job, and they were completed so fast. (Seemingly fast because it takes me forever to draw anything freehand.)

Thanks, Stephen, for your wonderful illustrations.

The Art of Science: Day 2

See the blog tour stop at Jamie Eyberg’s blog, A Continuity of Parks.

I did know Jamie in school, though he was a few years ahead of me so I can’t say we went to high school together. I knew his sisters better then.

One of his questions did get me thinking, though. Young adult or middle grade? We apply these labels according to an age level, but how many of us truly fit those little boxes? An age range is a guideline and it’s up to the parents, educators, or the youngsters to figure out what they’re ready to tackle. It’s a tough question, but it does help readers to have that information.

At least, that’s my opinion. A student might not read at the specified age level but may consistently be above or below. Knowing that would guide those students to where they need to be.

Or am I making it too difficult?

Schedule for Blog Tour

Beginning May 20, learn more about The Art of Science! The blog tour will show more about the book and probably a bit more about the author.

May 20 – Vivian Zabel at Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap

May 21 – Jamie Eyberg at A Continuity of Parks

May 22 – Shanachie at Ramblings of a Confusted Writer’s Mind and Quill, Parchment, and Ink – Writings and Ramblings

May 23 – Karen at VBT – Writers on the Move

May 24 – Nancy Famolari at Nancy Famolari’s Place

May 25  – Crystalee Calderwood at Crystalee Calderwood, Writer and Poet

I will be giving away one copy to a lucky winner drawn randomly from comments, so be sure to leave an email address for contact information.

For an additional chance, check out Goodreads.com giveaways!

What did the Leprechaun bring you?

I got another look at my book. Fewer things to find, just as many things to check. I am definitely getting faster at reading this thing.

It takes so much longer to write than to read. To edit, to rewrite, to polish – these things have more time and effort than I can think about, but are worth it in the end to get a finished product.

Still, I can’t think of a nicer gift from the leprechaun than to do stuff for my book. It’s a good change from the baby stuff going on around here. She’s not even here yet but she seems to rule the roost. Can’t make plans without at least a nod to the schedule that she isn’t sharing.

Almost there…

With only a couple days until I get my copy to review before publication, I’m sitting on pins and needles. I received the final copy of the cover. It’ll be up on the other page by the end of the weekend.

It seems to be moving so fast now. It’ll be done before I know it!

In other news, I’ll be finishing up my media kit so we’re ready to run with it when we make sure there are no flaws (read: as few as humanly possible).

I also want to have a book launching party. While it’d be easiest to do in Des Moines near where I live, I wonder about the best location. I think I might be able to do a reading at the library, but other than that I’m still thinking of ways to reach the people. The next question, of course, is when.

Then there could be an online aspect to a book launch. Could be a fun way to go. Again there is a timing issue.

After that, we shall see!

Book Update!

While I do not have an exact date for the book just yet, I did hear from my publisher today. Sounds like it is coming out this month!

It’s going to be exciting. There are still so many things to be done and planned. It’s hard to believe.

Beginning to work on a list for more research. I think my life has so many lists now.

Everyone is amazed when I say I’m having twins because I’m so small, I bet. Then I clarify one is a book and one is a baby… and they might both debut this month. It really does feel like twins.

I bet only authors and parents understand that, and I bet they could say it better. However, I’m pretty sure one takes more time and determination before the debut, and the other one will require much more later.

Meet Karen Cioffi and Day’s End Lullaby

Bio: Karen Cioffi and Robyn Feltman are advocates of education, reading and the environment.  Two of their favorite sayings are:

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”

“You must be the change you want to see in the world”

Karen Cioffi is a former accountant turned author and freelance writer.  She has a number of articles in ezinearticles.com.  Karen spends part of her day managing Virtual Book Tours and her blog, following up on emails, and writing.  She also watches her toddler grandson and baby grandson two days a week.  She is co-moderator of another yahoo group, Intense Writing which covers children’s stories from picture books to young adult.  She is currently revising a chapter book, Walking Through Walls and working on a articles for children’s magazines.  In addition to this she and Robyn are working on another picture book and a science fiction middle grade short story.  Karen plays a little piano and guitar and does art work for friends and family.  She lives with her husband, Donald Ventrice, in New York City.

Do you have a personal philosophy about life?

My personal philosophy is based on words from the Bible: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”   These are two simple sentences that if the world adhered to would eliminate all wars, murders, violence and theft.

There are a couple of other adages that I believe in such as: nothing ventured nothing gained, try, try and try again, and you must be the change you want to see in the world.

And finally, life to a large degree is what we make of it.  Don’t want too much out of life – just the basics: health, peace and happiness.  Then when pleasant surprises or perks come along you truly appreciate them.  I think a lot of today’s younger generation don’t understand that one.

What’s in the future pertaining to your writing?

I am venturing into writing magazine articles.  I have several published on Ezine Articles and will continue to use that venue.  But, very soon, I will submit a non-fiction article to a children’s magazine.  I’m not sure which magazine yet; I have a list of possibilities though.  This is actually an assignment in the Children’s Writers Coaching Club.  I will also write articles geared toward magazines other than children’s.

What is the most difficult part of writing for children?

I have a couple of problems that I’m working on.  One is I need to use age appropriate words.  I tend to use words that are too difficult for the age group I’m writing for.  I also need to work on my “show, don’t tell,” although that one goes for all writing.

What are a couple of your best tips for aspiring children’s authors?

The first tip I would give is to learn about writing for children.  You can do this by taking courses or by researching online, reading books geared toward that topic, and reading many, many, many children’s books.

Also, you can join a writing coach’s class/club.

Next, I would advise the aspiring author to join a good children’s critique group.  There is so much that is caught by those extra eyes.

Also, it is important to join groups such as The Society for Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating.  I personally also joined the Chidren’s Writers Coaching Club with Suzanne Lieurance.  This is when I began to learn about the business of writing.

Finally, I would say if possible attend a conference.  My first conference was this October, the Muse Online Conference.  It was amazing.

Day’s End Lullaby

A review for Day’s End Lullaby:

Bedtime is the most precious time between a loved one and a child.  Day’s End Lullaby will soothe any precious little one to sleep after a long day of play.  I look forward to sharing this book with my daughter every night and waiting for Mr. Sandman to kiss her thoughts to dreams.

Veronica DePaolo
Assistant Principal, The Abigail Adams School
Jamaica, New York

Prairie Dog Cowboy, by Vivian Zabel

Prairie Dog Cowboy Cover
Prairie Dog Cowboy Cover

This book is historical fiction, set in 1899. Ranching has changed over the years, and how it affects the life of the kids who work them with their families changes, too. Vivian pieced together a typical day for Buddy Roberts. Be sure to comment on this blog and the others on the tour – there will be a drawing for canvas bags. You’ll want to leave a way to contact you if you win, as well. Good luck!

What is a typical day like?

Before Buddy started to school, and before fences had been strung around the pastures, he would be up before daylight to help milk the cows. After breakfast, he and his dog, Patch, would herd the few cows and their calves (if there were any) to the pasture. In winter, Buddy would construct an “igloo” of tumble weeds which were held together by snow and ice when available. The boy would huddle inside with his dog, who would be able to tell if one of the cows wandered away. Then boy and dog would run after the cow and bring her back.

Sometimes he might have lunch of whatever was left from breakfast, food that he brought with him. Other times, a neighboring rancher would bring something hot for him to eat.

Late in the afternoon, Buddy and Patch would herd the cows home and put them in the corral. If the water in the trough had frozen, the boy would break the ice so the cattle could drink. Then he would help with the night milking, feed and water the chickens before finally having supper. After supper he headed for bed.

By the time Buddy started to school, the rancher to the south of the farm and some of Buddy’s uncles fenced the pastures. Buddy would feed and water chickens and herd the cows to the pasture after helping with the morning milking. Then he ate breakfast and rode to school with his friends. After he got home, he did chores including herding the cows home on foot with Patches help.

Once Buddy worked on the ranch, he usually stayed there except on weekends, when he returned to the farm to do the heavy farming.

How old is he?

At the beginning of the book, Buddy isn’t quite five years old. By the end of the book, he’s eighteen.

Does he enjoy ranching?

All Buddy ever wanted to do was be a cowboy, and to farm part of the homestead that he thought he would share with his older brother some day.

When did he start working out there?

Buddy never knew anything but work. The life in frontier days was hard, and children started working from an early age. However, he never complained — except when he finally was able to work on the ranch for Caleb Hyman and Caleb asked him to move large rocks out of the roadway so that the wagon wheels wouldn’t break.  Buddy didn’t think that was work for a cowboy.

Buddy started “cowboying” with his best friends Craig and Cody Hyman when he was about ten.

When did he stop schooling?

Due to Caleb’s influence, Buddy attended school through the twelfth grade. He refused, though, to allow Caleb send him to college with the twins.

Most children didn’t attend school past the eighth grade, if they attended that long. Often, too, children attended sporadically. Buddy was fortunate because the Hyman’s took him into their family with their children and expected him to attend school.

All this fascinates me, especially because I grew up on a farm. Many kids still start work at a young age, but mostly just by helping their parents with chores. My brother-in-law raises sheep – my niece started around age four accompanying him during the afternoon or on weekends. However, today’s children finish school through college, even if their intention is to go back to the farm or ranch they came from to work. Many can learn more about the animals or crops they tend during those high school and college years.

This book is available at Amazon and directly through 4RV Publishing, LLC. Be sure to check it out and see the beauty of old time ranching, along with the toughness of the people who helped tame the land.

For more about the author, check her here:


Brain Cells and Bubble Wrap

Vivian’s Multiply Site