Saturday, May 31, 2014

Goodreads Giveaway for BINGO SUMMER Begins Tomorrow

    Paperback copies have arrived! And just in time for a FANTASTIC opportunity to win ONE of TEN FREE COPIES of my contemporary, middle-grade novel, BINGO SUMMER!
     Starting tomorrow, Goodreads is hosting a giveaway of PAPERBACK copies. Pop on over to GOODREADS tomorrow or any time throughout June for your chance to win!
     If you don't want to wait until the end of the month to find out if you're a winner, and want a copy now, visit Amazon.
     And THANKS TO ALL who have already purchased BINGO SUMMER, sent congratulations, and/or added it to your 'to-read' list on Goodreads. I appreciate every one of you!

     Now I'm off to do battle with the Ugly Garden for a bit before the tomato and squash plants are overcome by the weeds.
                                                                  HAPPY WRITING!        

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Summer Road Trip Essentials - Books!

     It's almost that time of the year when some of my to-be-read pile shifts from living on my nightstand, and takes up residence in the car. Whether en route to a writing conference, ballgame, or a cross-country road trip, books have always been the must-have travel accessory for me and the rest of my family. I'm happy this habit has caught on with each of our kids, but, geez!, sometimes we're literally a library on wheels when we hit the road.
     I can remember one vacation two years ago when the five of us read through our stash, and found a great place to restock, Square Books, in Oxford, Mississippi, with three separate store fronts on the historic town square. I love supporting independents, and I'm sure they appreciated the armload of books my daughter brought to the front counter.
     Vacation plans this summer include a 10-day trip to Sheridan, Wyoming, with a 20-mile hike to complete over three days. Even though we'll be carrying our own food, clothing, water filters, and sleeping gear, saving room in the backpack for at least ONE book is a given
     A tallish stack of books sit on the book shelf in my study now, ready for summer reading. Here's a few:
  • See You at Harry's, by Jo Knowles
  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angleberger
  • Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein
  • Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos
  • The Probably Future, by Alice Hoffman
  • The Painted Veil, by Somerset Maugham
     What's on your Road Trip Reading List this summer?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Thank You, Giveaway Entrants

Just a quick THANK YOU to those who entered the Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop. I appreciate each of you stopping by to enter, and for commenting, Tweeting, and adding BINGO SUMMER to Goodreads. Even if you didn't win, I hope you found some exciting children's books to add to summer reading lists.

Thanks again, and happy reading!  - Dawn
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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A middle-grade debut: Bingo Summer


Winning the lottery would make life a whole lot simpler, right. 
At least that’s what thirteen-year-old Summer Haas and her family thought after Summer scratches the instant lottery ticket
 she finds in her birthday card, and the family wins big.

But when Summer, along with her eccentric mother and younger sister, J.C., leave their small southern Illinois town to escape the unwanted attention that the lottery win attracts, Summer’s life changes but not exactly for the better. Will Summer ever find a new best friend like Dana, whom she left behind? Will anyone even want to be her friend when they find out her family gambled their way to riches? BINGO SUMMER is a humorous, coming-of-age story about Summer’s struggle to fit in and be true to herself, two ideals that do not always mesh.

The eBook is available on KINDLE * NOOK 
and KOBO (coming soon!)

Blog: Here's the Story,

Also, don't forget it's CHILDREN'S BOOK WEEK! Enter my GIVEAWAY to win a paperback copy of BINGO SUMMER and a $10 Amazon gift card. Thank you to Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews for hosting this. There are almost 100 blogs participating this week.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Books, Cash, & Swag: Celebrating Children's Book Week

     It's Children's Book Week, and what better way to celebrate than to win fabulous books, gift cards,  cash, and other prizes? Thanks to Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews, you'll have plenty of chances since they're hosting the Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop 2014.
     Enter my giveaway below, then visit other blogs for more chances to win. There's a free print copy of my debut middle-grade novel, BINGO SUMMER, and a $10 Amazon gift card waiting for you if you're the winner. Good luck!

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Friday, May 9, 2014



If I said we were down to our last five bucks and two days’ worth of frosted corn flakes when my family became millionaires, it wouldn’t be exactly right. But we were that close to desperate. 
The truth was that Ruth Hennessey from the Stanton New Covenant Community Church was on her way with two bags of groceries from the food pantry and a check from the women’s guild to tide us over until my mom got her paycheck. 
The truth was that my mom was whipping up a molasses ginger cake with maple frosting for my thirteenth birthday. Of course, all the ingredients weren’t edible until mixed together and baked, so I wasn’t counting the flour, eggs, and other stuff that went into it. Until the cake was finished, all we had were corn flakes. No milk either. Just the cereal.
“Did we win anything yet?” asked Mom. A halo of flour dust surrounded her as she dumped cupfuls into a mixing bowl.
      I scratched off the second number on the Bingo Birthday Bash lottery ticket. “Just started,” I said. 
Swiping at the sweat drops tickling my eyelid, I studied the grid of twenty numbers to use on the four bingo cards. It was hot for June. The small kitchen with its one window facing east drew in the early morning sun and all the heat that radiated off the Super Pantry parking lot next door to our house. 
“That’s what I like about those things,” said Mom. “They take forever to scratch. Like you’re getting your money’s worth.” Her back was to me, so she talked over her shoulder, while her whole body shook with the effort of mixing. She stood on her tiptoes while she scraped the sides of the bowl free of batter. 
I scratched away, my new charm bracelet clinking on the tabletop. Mom made it for me, a bracelet with baseball charms — a bat, baseball, a bear cub.
Across from me, my little sister, J.C., sighed. “I’m going crazy with all that scratching and jangling.” Her hand shot out, trying to swipe my lottery ticket, but I pulled it away just in time.
“Calm down,” I said. “It’s always all about you, you, you.” I leaned on the wobbly table to keep scratching. That made J.C.’s pencil dash across her workbook, ripping the page.
“J.C., go to your room if you need quiet,” said Mom. 
“It’s too hot in there.”
Mom glanced at me as she slid the pan into the oven. “Just think, if that ticket’s a winner, maybe next year we could rent one of those party rooms − what do they call them? SkyBoxes, that’s it − at Wrigley Field for an early birthday present on opening day? How’d that be?” 
“That’d cost a zillion dollars,” J.C. grumbled.
Mom gave her a look. “She’s worth it. Just like you.”
“I love being queen for the day,” I mumbled loud enough for J.C. to hear. She narrowed her eyes at me and looked ready to pop a vein.
“Scratch quieter, or I’m ripping up that ticket.” Her long hair fell like a curtain as she leaned over her library book again, trying to shut me out. 
The lottery ticket had been tucked inside my birthday card when I opened it, a family tradition. “I’ll only allow it a few times a year; anything more than that is the start of a bad habit,” Mom always reminded us. Never mind that she had no business buying a ten dollar lottery ticket this year, considering how broke we were. But things have a way of taking care of themselves, she said.
The ticket was as big as a postcard. There were four different bingo games on the card; so if I bombed one game, I could always win one of the other three. A long, vertical box marked ‘Player’s Numbers’ on the left of the ticket hid all of the bingo numbers. Lucky me if the number appeared on more than one game.
I checked the first couple of numbers. Nothing. So I set the dime’s edge on another spot in the box and scratched away the pink coating. It was 17 and showed up in the I column on three of the four cards. Yessss!
The top prize was ten million dollars, but the chance of getting that was 28,000,000 to 1. I was hoping for a $10 prize, so Mom could get her money back. The odds of that were only 12 to 1. Then we could buy milk.
“You’re still being noisy,” J.C. said. She tried kicking me under the table, but caught the table leg instead. My corn flakes spilled onto the table. I stuck my tongue out. She did the same. Mom washed the mixing bowl, none the wiser.
    “Do you remember why I decided to name you Summer?” Mom looked over at me when I didn’t answer right away. I’d only heard this story every year for the last hundred years. She reminisced on every birthday.
“I do and I don’t want to hear it again,” said J.C. She rested her forehead on the table.
“Hush up, J.C.,” Mom said. 
“Then let me tell it,” J.C. said, suddenly animated. She stood up on her chair. “It was the first day of summer, June twenty-first,” J.C cooed. She almost lost her balance, and her hand shot out to grab the back of her chair. I laughed. What a dork.
“And I was twenty-one that year,” Mom said. “A lucky number, that twenty-one.”
    J.C. continued in a sing-songy voice. “It was a sunny day, and the baby was shining like a new penny with the sun coming through the hospital window. Mom thought a shiny, new baby should have a shiny, new name.” J.C. sure was a storyteller.
“I thought it was a happy name,” added Mom.
J.C. jumped off the chair. “I think it’s dull and boring.”
Mom shook her head and sighed. “Sometimes, I wonder how I could have had two wonderful, but totally opposite, daughters. I sure wish you two got along.”  
Impossible. My eleven-year-old sister opened her mouth without thinking, couldn’t sit still unless there was a book or math problem to hold her attention, and liked glitter, the color pink, and any type of music except country. She also looked different. Mom and I could be sisters, we were told, with our copper-colored hair. My dad, who died before I was born, did pass his brown eyes onto me. J.C. looked like her father, my step-dad, who was still very much alive but who-knows-where. She was tall as a fence post with green eyes and a long face, framed by a lot of straight, black hair. My sister reminded me of a young horse, bony and full of the devil, like my step-dad.
I started scratching again. The number 21 showed up on all four games in the N columns. Three of them had B7. I kept scratching while J.C.’s chatter filled the hot kitchen. I wasn’t tracking my progress, but I noticed that I had a bunch of the Bs scratched on all four grids. A fair number of Gs already. Hardly any Ns.
I was concentrating so hard on the game that I jumped when the doorbell rang.
Mom slid the bowl into the cabinet with a clatter. “Come in!”
Mrs. Hennessey balanced a grocery bag on each hip as she eased into the kitchen.  
“Hey, girls. Give me a little hand here with these bags. One’s starting to rip. Be careful now,” she said, wiping her neck with a paper napkin after I took a bag. “There’s a few more in the car, too.”
We knocked into each other trying to help Mrs. Hennessey through the door with the groceries. J.C. went for the other bags. 
“Oh my,” she huffed, leaning against the counter, out of breath. Mrs. Hennessey smoothed the pink sundress that fit her a little too tight around the middle.
     “Happy birthday, Summer,” she said, glancing over my shoulder after I sat down again. “What have you got there? A lottery ticket?”  
“We get one every year for our birthday,” I said. I saw a sheepish expression cloud Mom’s face when she looked at Mrs. Hennessey, then at the grocery bags on the kitchen table. She brushed back a wisp of hair that was sticking to her neck and set to unloading the bags. 
Back to the ticket.
     N23. Got it on three games. 
     O67. Got that, too. 
    N27. Cool, I was rolling. 
“Summer’s going to win us ten million dollars,” said J.C. in a monotone as she set two more bags onto the counter.
I scowled at her. “I’m not sharing with you if I do.”
Mrs. Hennessey fanned her face with both hands. “Well, until you get your millions, here are a few things to keep you fed.” She pulled two boxes of macaroni and cheese and a family-sized can of ravioli out of the other bag and handed it to Mom. “Any word on when you’ll get your check, Maggie?”
“It was supposed to come yesterday, but no luck. I haven’t checked today’s mail yet,” said Mom, looking into her bag. “Trina Laskos got hers. She talked to our manager who said the bank definitely foreclosed on the place. No chance of them opening back up anytime soon.”
Mrs. Hennessey shook her head. “Any other job leads?”
“Got an interview at the Food Mart tomorrow for a checker position.” 
Mom and Mrs. Hennessey gabbed on and on. I stopped listening as I rubbed off the last number, then turned the ticket over to read the “How to Win” paragraph.  Excitement rippled in my stomach. I knew we had won something since a lot of the pink coating was gone. Exactly what, I didn’t know. 
Diagonal, vertical, and horizontal lines were the usual patterns. Then another diagram showed that a four-corner pattern could be a winner. That one was pretty uncommon. Even greater odds was the “X” pattern. I flipped the ticket over again to see if there was an  “X” pattern on any of the games. That was the big winner. Wishful thinking. 
“And Summer, I hear you’re going to be. . .”
But I didn’t hear the last part of Mrs. Hennessey’s question.
    I checked the pattern again on the back. Flip.
    And then the ones on my games. Flip.
The air was suffocating, like the kitchen was an oven cranked up to four hundred degrees. My whole face felt flushed. I blinked, thinking the heat was playing tricks with my brain.
There was an  “X” on each of the four games. 
Suddenly the oven timer went off.
“Cake’s done,” J.C. crowed.
“We won,” I said. I could barely get the words out.
Everyone shut up.
Even the timer stopped buzzing.
“We won.” I said it again. “Ten million dollars.” 
Mrs. Hennessey dropped a carton of eggs. Yoke splattered onto Mom’s bare toes, but she didn’t even notice.
“Say that again?” Mom whispered. 
But I couldn’t. I just nodded.

     Be sure to visit on Sunday to enter the Children's Book Week Giveaway, sponsored by Mother Daughter Book Reviews and Youth Literature Reviews, for a chance to win a print Copy of BINGO SUMMER and an Amazon gift card!

   And BINGO SUMMER officially goes on sale beginning Monday, 5/12, on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sneak Peak: First Chapter Reveal Tomorrow

    BINGO SUMMER is in the final prep stages before its debut this next week. It is nothing short of thrilling to see this book coming together after a long journey. I had an amazing team of critiquers, beta-readers, a cover artist and interior formatter, to help make this happen. I'm so thankful for each of you!
    So stop back tomorrow to read the First Chapter of BINGO SUMMER, my debut contemporary middle-grade novel. 
     In other news, if are you a children's book or teen literature blogger, an author, a publisher, or a publicist looking to share copies of a fabulous book? Mother Daughter Book Reviews  and Youth Literature Reviews  are joining forces to provide you with the opportunity to take part in the Children's Book Week Giveaway Hop 2014, featuring links to giveaways for fabulous children/teen's books, gift cards, cash, or other prizes.  It begins Sunday, and there's still time to sign up. Go to either of the above links to do so.  
     What better way to celebrate
Children's Book Week?

Friday, May 2, 2014

What's to Celebrate?

Hopefully, BINGO SUMMER will finished with formatting today, so I'll be looking at the final, FINAL product very soonish. I'm thankful that for the people in the world who are skilled at that techno-schmechno stuff, saving me the brain hemorrhage.

I'm also thankful that I was able to keep up with my A-to-Z Challenge posts. The last three days were a trial, but I cranked out a final X-Y-Z post to limp over the finish line. For not being totally committed  to this HUGE commitment until 5 days before the Challenge started, I'm glad for wherever the fortitude came from to stick it out. It's been fun, but it's work (hence the 'Challenge' part of the name?).

And finally, I'm thankful for all the fantastic writers out there, continually cranking out awesome books to feed my to-be-read piles. I wish I were a faster reader.

 (This post is brought to you in part by the Celebrate the Small Things blogfest, a weekly adventure courtesy of Viklit's Writing Blog.)
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