Friday, February 29, 2008

Matt Patterson here

So Ms. Elysabeth has been promising that she would show who we were. Guess we finally drove her to the point of being out there. After all, Rock of Realm characters have their own blog and this is basically a blog about our adventures, so why not have us do the blogging.

A little bit about me and maybe I'll let Guy Lombard (my best bud) and Mary Beth (my sister) and Jolene (best looking girl in the school) introduce themselves, maybe hahaha.

I'm your basic boy next door kind of guy. I'm 12 years old and I like games (Xbox, playstation, handheld, anything really - like the educational stuff a lot too), reading (love adventures and history and just learning new things), sports (just like watching a lot more than I play but have played baseball and like to watch some fun things on TV), skateboarding, hanging with my friends and just being by myself sometimes. I'm pretty average looking. I have brunette hair and blue eyes. I wear glasses so I can see, but not anything dorky looking (that's Len's department). Wire frames for me.

I'm tall but not towering over my classmates or anything. I've not been measured in a while but last height was about 5 feet 3 or so inches and that was a couple of years ago. I'm a pretty easy going guy and get along with most everyone, except my little sister sometimes - she can be a big pain.

We live in a small town and most of us have never really lived anywhere else so we've been friends for all our lives. We try to stay out of trouble but sometimes we can't help ourselves. If there are problems, I'm usually the one who has to be breaking things up and be the mediator and stuff like that.

Well, it's getting late and I guess I should get to bed. Maybe the rest of the crew will come in sometime and add their bios too.

From what I understand, Ms. Elysabeth has the first story almost finished and is in the editing stages now and is hoping to have it to the publisher by the middle of March. How cool is that - we will have our first geography lesson and one state explored. Be prepared to learn lots of things too. I can't wait to see how you all figure out what the state is. For now, signing off - Matt

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

SC Book festival review

Well, the JGDS made it home after a totally awesome weekend. Our creator, Ms. Elysabeth had a horror story in the making but all things considered, the weekend was a blast.

This year's book festival was definitely a big change with some kids tables and activities put on by the Richland County Library in conjunction with EdVenture based in Columbia. There were also readings done for the children by several children's authors.

Ms. Elysabeth spoke with several folks whom she has met previously and made some new friends. Click here for more details.

Hopefully next year we will either be as an exhibitor or on a panel. (If we get to be in an exhibitor's booth, we hope to be next to Red Letter Press and Ms. Karen Petit, author of the Ivy League books. You can't miss with mysteries being solved by a group of animals. Check out Ivy and her friends here for more about the books. Be on the lookout too for another mystery coming soon by Ms. Karen. We can't wait until her fifth book comes out because Ms. Karen and Ivy head to France for that one - oooh la la - Paris. That is just up our alley since we are traveling all around the United States. It would be fun to travel other places but with 50 states to cover, it is kind of hard to do. Maybe one day when the states are all done, we can travel abroad and check out some other possible "mystery destinations".

Oh yes, Ms. Minnie Dix and her friend, Dr. Beverly, were also there again and Ms. Elysabeth sat and chatted with them. Dr. Beverly's books are so beautifully illustrated; too bad we didn't have any funds to purchase anything.

As a book festival goes this is one of the best ones (so far) that Ms. Elysabeth attends. We are looking forward to being a participant in a different way at the festival next year. See you all in the postings - the JGDS

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Book Festivals and good books

This weekend, the JGDS is taking a break to attend, or at least volunteer, the SC Book Festival. This is our creator's fourth year doing this festival and she loves it. If you like good books and fun stuff or meeting authors, having them sign your books or just walking around and checking out what all is out there and you happen to be in the Columbia, SC, area, then come by the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center and meet folks like Mary Alice Monroe, Cathy Pickens or Gwen Hunter. If you look hard enough, you might even see our creator in one of those red volunteer T-shirts. Be sure to stop by and say hello to her. She will be a room monitor part of the weekend and a greeter the rest (she really does love that greeting position because she meets so many interesting people coming through the doors).

Check it out as there is even a kids' area this year with arts and crafts and readings by children's authors. For more info, go to the Book Festival's website,, and check out the schedule or who all will be an exhibitor - see you in the postings - and have fun - find a good book to curl up with.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Trading cards to be used as postcards

I was playing around on this site and came up with this "trading card" that I have made into a postcard. Now that I've decided to use and have put on the front to leave messages for my kids, my guess is that now I need to get my character sketches up so that folks can leave messages for them.

This is a cool site; you can make trading cards and think of the possible uses for authors - Click here for online trading card site

Here is the front of the one I'm going to use as a postcard to pass out everywhere - the back is still being worked on - but hopefully it will be workable.

I can think of so many uses to promote oneself and one's books - put the cover pic, a blurb about the book in the description part and on the back (you have to do this on your own) put your author info, mini biography, or contact info and where to get the books - pass them out for promotional items for every book you have - I may look into getting it done professionally and use them to send out or pass out for the state series.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

What started it all?

Several of you have asked where I got the idea to do all 50 states as mystery stories for the kids. Here is the short answer: The very first contest I entered was a mystery fan contest for the coming out of "Silence of the Loons". I won a shared second place and that spurred the idea to go forward with all 50 states being used as the mystery "destination".

The long of it is this: The orginal piece written for the contest was "Train of Clues". We were given eight unrelated items and had to incorporate at least four of the eight into the story as random clues throughout the mystery. (This was the same list the authors who were all in Silence of the Loons had and we mystery fans had to write a story that would use the same premise as the authors did.) So when I got the information for the contest, I thought about it and wasn't even sure I would write a story for the contest. I was just starting out in my writing career and so really was very unsure about everything. The girls in the church group went on a mother-daughter trip to Stone Mountain one weekend and I was talking up the contest up to one of the other mothers on the trip and the girls were kind of listening and piped up with the idea to make it a children's mystery, on a train, like a scavenger hunt and the items were the clues leading to the mystery destination. Thus, "Train of Clues" was born. (The items listed were: the sound of a train whistle, footprints in the snow (this didn't work for me), the scent of Obsession (again this didn't work for me at all because I don't know anything about perfume), a page from a dictionary, a headless Barbie, a wig, a tattoo, and a soiled ballet slipper.) I wrote a birthday party on a train using four of the items as clues to a mystery destination. Each group of kids were self-contained in one car with all the clues there. They had to figure out where they would end up before they reached the destination. My characters were Matt Patterson, the birthday boy (loves trains and is just a general good boy next door kind of kid), his kid sister Mary Beth (who had to be there because it was her brother's birthday), Guy Landrum (the kind of laid-back, standoffish, best friend of Matt), Jolene (have yet to give her a last name, best looking girl in 7th grade, who Guy likes but apparently as I've developed a few other things she likes Matt and she and Matt have been a thing for a while), Len (or Leonard, the geeky, computer/inventor of sorts guy). There were other characters because Matt originally was on a different team than Mary Beth, Jolene and Guy (all were on the same team with Len) and each team had four kids. So, originally there was Matt's team (birthday boy and three other kids who are no longer part of the JGDS), Guy's team (which is now minus Len because I think only four characters will be enough to carry the stories through), and the third team (which actually won in the original story but they weren't important enough to carry through to the series).

After winning the shared second place, I sent the story to an editor through SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), paid her to give me some pointers on how to expand the story out to a series, resources, et cetera. It was well worth the money spent for her input. The information she gave me was so wonderful, that I let it brew around my head for a while, kept tossing out different ways to either do one story or several stories or an individual series of each of the states (which is where I am now).

So basically Matt, Jolene and Guy are and have been best friends since grade school. Mary Beth has to hang around them because Matt is kind of stuck on watching his "bratty, whiny, younger sister, all the time" (even though shee seems to be pretty smart and knows a good bit). So now you know how the idea started.

Next time, I will post a character sketch, since these kids have been wandering around in my head for over two years. See you all in the postings - E :)

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