Month: April 2016

The May AtoZfavbooks Challenge (#AtoZfavbooks)

#A-Zfavbooks challengeThe #AtoZfavbooks challenge…

… 26 letters, 26 books, 26 days.

Starting May 1st, I’m doing the #AtoZfavbooks challenge and I invite you join my in sharing a book title you love for every letter of the alphabet?

The Rules:

The rules are easy:

  • start with titles beginning with A on 1st May, B on the 2nd May and so on.
  • any genre goes. I’ll be focusing on Kids fiction but you could choose crime, romance, horror or mix them up as you please.
  • share your top picks on twitter, facebook, pinterest or any other social media.
  • use the hashtag #AtoZfavbooks so we can find your posts.
  • titles starting with ‘The’ or ‘A’ should have use the next word in the title. eg The Hunger Games would go under ‘H’ for Hunger Games, not ‘T’ for The.

Make sense?

Are you up for the AtoZfavbooks challenge?

Suzie x

Progress Report on Better Buckle Up

bonus map page Better Buckle Up

Progress report.

I just uploaded the new files for the interior of Better Buckle Up to the printers.

After the problems I found with the last proof, all the photos have been lightened and brightened and the layout altered slightly. Fingers crossed it looks right this time. May 18th is only 20 days away.

20 days!


On the positive side, as I had to add extra pages to accommodate Lightning Source’s printing information, I’ve also added a new page – a map – as the final image. I’m really pleased with the way the illustrator has combined some the elements from the story into a final map. I tested the image on my grandson and found there was lots to talk about in the picture.

OK, I’m off to stress about 20 days.

Suzie x

Pre-order Better Buckle Up for 18th May

A story to make car safety fun

Better Buckle Up. A story to make car safety fun.

The Amazing Matilda: A Monarch’s Tale – ONLY 99¢ thru April 26th.

The Amazing Matilda

About The Amazing Matilda.

The Amazing Matilda by Bette A Stevens is gentle story about a caterpillar impatient to fly.

* 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award (Picture Books 6+)
* THE GITTLE LIST 2013 (Top 10 Self-published Children’s Picture Books)

The Amazing Matilda has some lovely hand-drawn illustrations as it tells readers the life-cycle of a butterfly.

Matilda chats with lots of animal friends as she matures.

This is story that is sure to delight children of all ages.

Best still it’s only 99¢ thru until April 26th so grab a copy while you can.

The Amazing Matilda also has a beautiful animated trailer which gives you a sneak peek at the delighful artwork in the book.

About Author Bette A Stevens

Bette A Stevens author of the Amazing MatildaInspired by human nature, author Bette A. Stevens is a retired elementary and middle  school teacher, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five. Stevens lives in Central Maine with her husband on their 37-acre farmstead where she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, walking and reveling in the beauty of nature. She advocates for children and families, for childhood literacy and for the conservation of monarch butterflies-an endangered species (and milkweed, the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat). Did you know monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed? Now you do.

Check out Bette’s blog here.


Brain development: how reading helps

reading helps brain developmentBabies are born ready to learn and their early brain development is phenomenal. Ninety days after birth their brains have increased by 64% to reach half their adult size. That’s an awful lot of neural connections being formed in a short space of time.

There have been many studies showing that babies who are read to regularly by their caregivers have increases in these connections. The increase is particularly notable in the left-hand region of their brain which is the area used in the extraction of meaning from language.


Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body. Joseph Addison. Click To Tweet

reading is great for brain development


Children whose parents read aloud to them show an increased vocabulary and their understanding of these words is better. Sharing a regular story time is also a predictor of how easily a child may to learn to read.

Studies using mri imagining show that when people read words such as ‘lavender’ or ‘coffee’ it activates areas of the brain concerned with our sense of smell.  Other research had participants read the chapter of Harry Potter where Harry learns to fly on the broomstick which resulted in activity in the part of the brain we use to process actions and intentions. All these complicated connections come from listening to a lot of stories.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go. Dr Seuss. Click To Tweet

Of course, books tell stories, and humans are born programmed to listen. A scary story will flood the body with the stress hormone cortisol, just as though the threat was real and happening to us in real life. A soothing story promotes oxytocin release, to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling … just what your little one needs at bedtime.

Some books about brain development.

Some great books to read with your baby.

There’s such a lot going on inside your baby when you read him a story and it all adds up to lots of fun. So, open a book and get reading today.

Suzie x


Proof copy of Better Buckle Up arrives

Progress report on the proof copy of Better Buckle Up.

I had mixed feelings when I received the proof copy of the book.

Things I liked:

  • The cover is great. The colours are vibrant and popped off the page. I also road-tested the super glossy cover with the sticky fingers of my grandchildren and it wiped clean perfectly.
  • The paper quality is fine. I’d opted for the Premium colour printing from Lightning Source on the heaviest weight paper but I had heard that POD books didn’t have the ‘feel’ of a children’s book. I needn’t have worried.

proof copy of saddle stitch book

Things I didn’t like:

  • Some of the interior pictures were quite dark. If every picture had been darker, I could have blamed this on the printing process but some were fine. On further inspection of the image files I’d sent, I decided the ‘darkness’ could have been predicted.
  • I wasn’t happy with the binding. The saddle stitch binding doesn’t lie flat properly and makes it look like a pamphlet rather than a book.
  • Blank pages at the end of the book. I hadn’t realized I needed to leave a page blank at the end for the printing info added by Lightning Source. Duh! And having a saddle-stitch binding meant the printer had added 4 pages all at the end which, in a book with so few pages, makes it look as though some of it is missing or I’ve added pages for notes or something. Totally un-children’s book-like. Yuk!

proof copy had pages added at end

Of course, the mistakes were all mine. I’m re-editing the pictures to brighten them and changing the type of binding from saddle stitch to perfect bound which should hopefully give it that proper book look.

Needing to leave a blank page at the end meant adding more pages so my first layout won’t work but the bonus is, I’m adding an extra final page spread. I’ve seen the first draft of the new picture and I’m really excited about it.

My rep from Lightning Source was super helpful and offered to alter the cover file from saddle stitch to perfect bound for me so I don’t have to upload it again but all these changes mean re-submitting and waiting for a new proof. I think they’ll be worth it.

And there are still 24 days to launch so I have time … don’t I? Ooh, take deep breaths and don’t panic!

Pre-order Better Buckle Up for 18th May

Bonding with your baby: how reading helps

bonding between mother and baby

What is bonding?

Bonding: that intense attachment between parent and child. It’s the thing that helps you love that little person even when they wake to be fed every hour through the night, scream their way through bouts of colic and decide 3am would be a great time to get up and play.

And it’s the thing that makes your baby feel safe and loved.


Children are made readers on the laps of their parents. Emilie Buckwald. Click To Tweet


Why is bonding important?

reading with child helping bondingNumerous studies have proven that bonding with at least one primary caregiver is essential to a baby’s development.

It helps them:

  • feel confident in themselves,
  • develop trust in people,
  • learn empathy,
  • and sets the precedence for their future relationships.

Equally documented are the problems lack of bonding can create.

  • increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol,
  • a weakened immune system,
  • a tendency to high risk behaviour,
  • it’s no surprise over 80% of prison inmates show attachment problems.
We didn't realise we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun. Author unknown. Click To Tweet

How does reading help with bonding?

For some people, bonding is intense from the first moment they see their child, others may take longer but it is also an on-going process that grows and develops every time you interact with your baby.

Here are some of the ways reading helps you bond with your baby.

  1. Sharing a book in a comfy chair provides opportunity for quality one-on-one time.
  2. Snuggling with a book provides the closeness all babies need.
  3. Before words are understood the sound of your voice is soothing.
  4. Even very young babies interact by moving their arms and legs when being read to.
  5. Fosters the idea books are a fun thing to inspire future readers.
  6. Put on silly voices while you read. There’s nothing better having fun together.
  7. A great winding down activity as part of a bedtime routine.


Some books about bonding.

And some book ideas to share with your baby.


So what are you waiting for? Pick up a book and get bonding.

Suzie x


My Random Musings


Talk of the Town
Read With Me
Better Buckle Up book cover has arrived

Better Buckle Up book cover has arrived.

book cover of Better Buckle Up by SuzieWPleased to report I’ve been working super hard and the book cover for Better Buckle Up has been finalized.


I am so pleased with the gorgeous, bright illustrations from PlainSightVFX and hope you’re going to like them too.

More pages coming soon.

Let me know what you think.

Suzie x