Friday, March 25, 2011


What have I gotten myself into?  The A-Z Blogger Challenge! The theme of the first post on April 1st (No Foolin') will focus on a topic that begins with the letter A. Each subsequent post theme will work its way through the alphabet until April 30th when I reach Z.

And no, I haven't a clue what I'll write. That's the challenging part!

The good news is I won't be doing it alone. More than 625 bloggers have already signed up for this event. Want to join? Share in the pain, um, I mean the gain? We are, after all, talking about 26 new blog posts.

Click HERE to sign up. I dare you!

Kathy Stemke's websites:
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

EXCERPTS: "Dancing with the Pen" Today's best youth writing!

I received my two copies of "Dancing with the Pen" today! As a retired teacher of many years, I love reading short stories and poems from enthusiastic and talented young writers. Dallas Woodburn edited an anthology of imaginative, daring, and thought provoking works on travel, friendship, hate, fear, loss, hope and so much more.

My own fascinating granddaughter has been published in this book on page 83. Here is her poem and some other great excerpts:


by Victoria Hutchinson

They sit within the darkness,
waiting for the time to strike.
Hunger gnawing at their innards
They know what lies ahead.
Pawing at the soft ground,
they watch the events unfold:
The demons and angels fight overhead
One after another they fall.
Angels turned malicious and demons all the same
They fight not for honor but for the sake of fighting untamed.
This roar of battle is tainted not with bravery but with greed:
The greed of power and the lust of victory fill the air.
Slowly, the roar lulls into a hush
When all is quiet, they come out for their feast.
Rotting flesh and snapping bones the only noise now
What a feast, what a feast
Full of feathers not from fowl.

Victoria Hutchinson is fifteen years old and enjoys writing, drawing, and reading. Her hobby is doll-making. She lives in Cumming, Georgia with her parents. Her brother is a Marine in California. PS Her grandmother, Kathy Stemke, is a children's book author.

Take My Hand

by Lucia Kemeng Chen

Scotland, 1189

Simon Darnell was six years old when he met his first Scotsman and fought his first fight. Kennan Maclachlan was of the same age when he met his first Englishman and fought… well, suffice to say, it was far from his first fight.
It started during the Border Festival, one of the few peaceful days in an age of war and unrest. The Scottish and English would stomach the sight of each other for three entire weeks while enjoying grand feasts and competitions. But the animosity never faded.
So when the wiry English boy toppled the makeshift fortress of twigs and stones Kennan had spent the past hour constructing, the latter decided to retaliate.
Naturally, Kennan, having the greater strength and experience, swiftly overpowered the small and skinny Simon. But Simon was as stubborn as he was proud, and it wasn’t long before Kennan was down in the dirt, spewing out lumps of mud.
That was when the fight truly began. Punches and kicks were heavily meted out as the two boys brawled. A solid punch to Simon’s jaw finally brought him crumpling to the ground. Simon squeezed his eyes shut, waiting for the next blow. A moment passed. Then two.
When he finally deemed it safe to crack open an eyelid, Simon was astonished to see an outstretched hand. His opponent had a smile on his face and a trace of laughter in his greenish-gold eyes.
“Come on, take my hand,” the Scot said. When Simon didn’t budge, he added, “Yer not afraid are yeh, English?”
“’Course not!” Simon cried out indignantly. “You should be the one that’s afraid, cos I can make your left eye just as purple as your right!”
The Scot laughed. “Yer not bad for an English.” He pulled Simon to his feet. “I’m Kennan, future laird of the Maclachlan clan,” he announced pompously.
Simon shook his outstretched hand. “And I’m Simon, future… uh… future soldier,” he concluded. “I’m going to fight in King John’s army.”
“Ha! Papa says he can take down King John with one hand tied behind his back!”
“I bet I can take you down with both hands tied behind my back!”
“Want to try?” Kennan threatened, the fire returning to his eyes. Simon was already lunging for his throat. Within seconds, the boys were again rolling on the ground.
“Peace! Peace!” Kennan finally called out.
“Too scared, Scot?” Simon taunted.
“No, it’s just that Mother’s making mincemeat pie, and I want to get to the cottage before Alec eats it all.” Kennan was halfway down the hill before he turned back. “D’yeh want to come for supper?”
“No way! I – ” Simon began before his stomach let out a loud growl. He looked up at a smirking Kennan. “Well, I s’pose I can bear with you a little while longer if I’m getting mincemeat pie.”
And so a friendship began.


Dear Simon,
Papa says we kinnah be friends no more. He says I kinnah talk to you ‘less you start speaking Gaelic and wearing plaid. Seeing as yer English, I dinnah think that’s happening very soon.


Should our armies ever clash, know one thing: I will not raise my sword against you.
Sir Simon Darnell of King John’s Army


“We’ve caught another one, Laird Kennan.”
“Aye, Cormag,” Kennan Maclachlan said as he accepted the warrior’s sword and strode down the hill. “Those Englishmen have been coming in droves lately. Blasted nuisances.”
“Gavyn wanted to do the beheadin’, but I thought you might want to, being laird an’ all,” Cormag remarked.
Kennan groaned. In truth, he hated beheading – English or otherwise. But what Cormag said was true; he was laird, and the clan always came first.
Cormag led him to where Gavyn waited with the bound soldier. Kennan tightened his hold on the sword and inhaled sharply, dreading the duty before him.
That was when the Englishman turned to face him.
Kennan dropped the sword, his lips inadvertently tugging upward. “Simon.”
“Thank God, Kennan! Thought I was going to be beheaded back there.” Simon’s relief was starkly evident.
“Keep yer mouth shut, English. Yer pollutin’ the Highland air,” Gavyn growled.
“An’ don’t yeh be speakin’ to the laird like that,” Cormag spat.
Kennan frowned. “Gavyn, Cormag –”
“For heaven’s sakes Laird, if yer not going to behead him soon, I’d be happy to do the duty,” Gavyn interjected.
“That won’t be necessary,” Kennan said, staring at the sword on the ground. The clan. The clan always came first. Hands shaking, he bent to retrieve the sword. Then, eyes trained on the ground, he strode toward Simon.
But before he swung, Kennan made the mistake of looking into his old friend’s eyes, and the mix of sadness and resignation he saw there made him pause mid-swing.
“The clan comes first, Kennan,” Simon whispered.
“Aye, it does,” Kennan murmured. He slashed his sword through the ropes binding Simon’s wrists and ankles. “And I’m going to do the Maclachlan clan a great service today by sparing them from the sight of blood.”
“What in God’s name are yeh doin’?” Cormag bellowed. “He’s an Englishman!”
“Yer commitin’ an act of betrayal!” Gavyn’s voice was vehement.
“No, I’m committing an act of friendship,” Kennan announced in a steely tone that silenced his men.
“Take my hand,” he said to Simon. “Unless yer afraid?”
Simon chuckled as he accepted Kennan’s proffered hand. “You should be the one that’s afraid, cos I can make your left eye just as purple as your right.”
“Want to try?”
“I think I’ll settle for some mincemeat pie. I have yet to find someone who makes it better than your mama.”
“Laird?” Cormag ventured, an uneasy expression on his face.
“Aye, Cormag. Tell Cook to set an extra place at the table. We have a special guest tonight.”
Cormag and Gavyn were left gaping in disbelief as the two friends – one Scottish, one English – strolled down the hill.
Lucia Chen is a sophomore in high school. When she’s not writing, she enjoys holing up at the library with a good book or running with her high school’s cross country team. In addition to short stories, Lucia has dabbled in poetry and is currently at work on her first novel. She lives in Michigan with her mom, dad, and little brother.

Write On! For Literacy was founded by Dallas Woodburn in 2001 to encourage young people to discover confidence, joy, self-expression and connection to others through reading and writing.

Projects include:

• Annual Holiday Book Drive: as of December 2010, nearly 12,000 new books have been collected, sorted and distributed to disadvantaged youth. Donation sites include Boys and Girls Clubs, Project Understanding, Casa Pacifica, and the Ventura County Migrant Education Services. We have been told that for many recipients, these books are the only gifts they receive.

• Writing Contests: categories of short story, essay, and poetry for young writers in elementary school, middle school, and high school. Gift certificates to bookstores are awarded as prizes.

• Summer Writing Camp: held annually in Ventura, California for young writers ages 8-18. Students have FUN while also learning how to improve central components of their writing, including dialogue, characterization, plot and setting, through various creativity-inducing writing exercises.

• Classroom Visits: Dallas regularly visits schools to speak about her career as a writer and the importance of reading and writing.

• Online Resources: visit for author interviews, book reviews, inspirational quotes, and more. Dallas also interacts with youth – and adults – through her blog and her free monthly email newsletter. Subscribe at

Interested in joining Write On! For Literacy?

We are always looking for new members who are passionate about reading and writing! Visit to learn more about what we do and share your ideas. You can also volunteer to host an event or start a chapter of Write On! in your town.

KATHY STEMKE'S WEBSITES:Moving Through all Seven Days link:
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Friday, March 4, 2011


This beautiful book is now available on and Dallas Woodburn is trying to organize an ordering blitz on Saturday! Please get your friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and family to order the book this Saturday, March 5, between noon and 2pm Pacific Standard Time, we can really boost our sales ranking on Amazon. The goal is to make Dancing With The Pen a best-seller!

Here's the direct link:

We now also have a Dancing With The Pen facebook page that I hope you will all join and tell your friends about!!/dancingwiththepen?sk=wall

Another wonderful thing you can do to help our beautiful book gain momentum is to have your friends and family write five-star reviews for our Amazon page. We already have two five-star reviews! You can also "like" our page and click "yes" that the five-star reviews were helpful to you. Even a one- or two-sentence positive review helps so much!


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Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Jennifer Gladen is a children’s author, mother of three and teacher who lives and writes in Pennsylvania. She has written several children’s books, stories and articles, and started her own Catholic e-zine titled My Light Magazine. When not writing, teaching or mothering, she enjoys singing in her local parish choir on Sundays.

JENNIFER'S NEW BOOK:   Teresa’s Shadow

Released October 2010; Guardian Angel Publishing

Teresa’s Shadow is about a young girl who finds a monster in her room. What would you do? In an effort to face her fear of the dark, Teresa makes a friend and helps Corky find his way home.

One night at bedtime Teresa discovers Corky, a furry visitor, in her room. Corky is no ordinary monster. In fact he seems just as scared as Teresa. Teresa soon realizes she must help Corky get home. But how can she when she’s afraid of the dark and Corky is afraid of the light?


Teresa shivered in her robe and clutched her stuffed animal, Mr. Froggie. “It’s not real,” she said to herself. But her heart pumped as if it were about to explode. Her boney legs wobbled like jelly.

With Mr. Froggie in hand, Teresa took a deep breath and pulled the doorknob. Instead of an empty closet, she saw glassy, yellow eyes staring back at her.

You can find Teresa’s Shadow at:
Guardian Angel Publishing:


Barnes and Noble:

Check out Nancy Famolari  blog tomorrow. She is featuring author Jenny Turner.

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