Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Haunting and Contest!

Happy Halloween!

I want to thank all of you who have read and commented on my blog. I especially want to thank the many of you have supported me in little and big ways.

Last year, I hosted a Halloween Haunting .

This is how it works:

From 10/31-11/02, leave a comment:

1) Tell us about your blog.

2) If you’re a writer, what genre(s) do you write?

3) Are you looking for a critique partner(s)?

4) Please advertise the Halloween Haunting. (*See below.)

Then haunt at least 3 other the blogs from the comments section.

*Advertise my HALLOWEEN HAUNTING on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or your blog, and you could win a copy of FANGTALES!

If Book Depository delivers to you, you are eligible to win.

I’ll choose a winner on 11/07.

Happy Haunting!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Setting Influences

The lovely Len Lambert is hosting me on her BLOG where I talk about hometowns and inspiration for settings.

Please visit LEN as part of my Fangtales tour.

Thanks, LEN!

P.S. I'm sorry I've been posting and commenting less. Papers have been due. I spilled tea on my internal mouse, so using my computer brings new challenges. And so on. I'll try to be a better blogging buddy. xo

Monday, October 24, 2011

Greg's Galaxy Games

Greg Fishbone has been a fixture at the New England SCBWI conferences since I began attending in 2007. In addition, my daughter giggled when reading his Penguins of Doom book. When I heard he'd gotten the go-ahead for a new series, I cheered him on. And when he asked for people to guest host Greg for his blog tour, I signed up.

I signed up when my blog was still called "Substitute Teacher's Saga". Although I no longer sub (thank goodness) I still recall subbing gym fondly. In fact, I filled in for one P.E. class with 7th-graders last week. It was fun. I swear.

So here's Greg on using his Galaxy Games ideas on unsuspecting students:

Thanks to Theresa for giving me space on Substitute Teacher's Saga to discuss my new sports and science fiction series, Galaxy Games! Substitute teaching is a great way for children's authors to get a close-up view of how kids today act and talk, what interests them, what worries them, and what they like to read. While I was writing Galaxy Games, I actually spent two weeks as a substitute gym teacher and came up with a kid-playable version of Galaxy Games that proved very popular with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.

In my books, the Galaxy Games are played between teams from different planets. For our school games, I set up half of each class as Ossmendians and the other half as Mrendarians, to reenact a famous game that leads up to the events in the series. The Ossmendians are blocks of living stone with metallic legs, whle the Mrendarians are squishy squidlike creatures with slime-coated tentacles. Each team had fun picking a planetary slogan, cheer, and color.

The game board we used was a tic-tac-toe grid made from duct tape on the floor. The goal is to be the first team to earn three squares in a row. Everyone in the galaxy already knows how to play tic-tac-toe, which is why the Galaxy Games Commissioners chose it as the basis for a galaxy-spanning game. Of course, most people have never played a team version, which makes our version new and familiar at the same time.

Our Ossmendians and Mrendarians lined up on either side of the game board. In the books, each team was represented by a captain who makes all strategic decisions and team members who carry them out. Players in our version rotated positions so that everyone got a turn at being a captain. There were some captains who chose to consult with advisors during their turn, but I insisted that a captain's decision was final.

Captains decided which square they were playing for and what contest they would compete in. The fact that teams could flip each other's squares back into play added to the need for strategic thinking. In theory, any game or contest can be incorporated into the Galaxy Games, but regulation sessions of soccer, baseball, football, or basketball would be a bit time consuming. Instead, I offered a menu of possibilities that includes hula-hoops, relay races, beanbag toss, charades, and even

stand-up comedy.

Everyone had fun with the games, especially me. It was fun for me to see at least one aspect of my book brought to life, and I even got an idea or two for future stories in the series.

Greg R. Fishbone, Author - - Twitter @tem2

The Challengers - Book #1 in the Galaxy Games Series

Follow the Galaxy Games Blog Tour, all October long!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

News and Muse

“Give me a word – give me a sign

Show me where to look – tell me what will I find?

Lay me on the ground and fly me in the sky

Show me where to look – tell me what will I find?

Oh - Heaven, let your light shine down”

- Taylor, Steve; Furler, Peter. Song “Shine” by Collective Soul

I have news about one of my favorite writer friends:

Shannon O'Donnell

She’s a hard-working teacher who squeezes in writing time when she can. She’s queried. She’s received rejections. She’s received requests for partials and fulls. She’s been rejected again. Then she had an almost.

But now she an AGENT! YaY!

Go over and congratulate her HERE .

While you’re there, you can read my musings on submitting short stories for publication. Shannon is a stop on my Fangtales tour.

But Shannon is the actual STAR.

Shine on, Shannon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rose Cooper's Balancing Act

I'm interviewing the ultra-talented Rose Cooper on my blog today:

I’ve heard a few rumors about you. Is it true that you have three children, a full-time job, a publisher, an Etsy business, and a Doodle Diva card line?

If it’s true, I’d like to talk to you about balance.

How do you carve out time to write and illustrate?

It wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for my husband. He takes care of the kids when I’m on a deadline. I usually start working in the early evening once I get home from work. On the weekends my husband and I work in shifts.

Do you work when the kids are awake or asleep?

My husband watches them during the day. But if I have extra work to do or it’s close to the end of my deadline, I’ll continue working into the night after the kids are asleep. Extra stuff I do on the side, like The Doodle Divas or Etsy, I do it while the kids are asleep.

Do you have a routine?

When I sit down to write or draw, I always have to have my cup of coffee (flavored) next to me and music cranked up. I always have to check Facebook first to see what’s going on, then my emails. Oh, and sometimes Twitter. Then I get down to business!

Do you receive support from your family in order to make time to write?

My husband is the absolute best. I don’t know what I’d do without him. My kids love to support me by making the most noise possible during a deadline.

What do you prefer to do, write or illustrate?

My first love is, and always will be, writing. I’ve been writing my entire life. Well, okay, since 6th grade. I started drawing at a young age too, but stopped after a certain period of time while I continued my writing.

Did you go to school for writing or illustrating?

I went to school for medical assisting and took many accounting classes. If I could do one thing over, it would be that. Those courses were so boring for me and I would spend time writing when I wasn’t studying. That should’ve told me something, I know.

When did you begin writing and illustrating seriously?

Well, with writing I was submitting to publishers when I was 12yrs old. So back then, I thought I was pretty serious about it! It wasn’t until about ten years ago when I really started thinking about it as a career and decided to query agents. I only started back up with the drawing after I got my first book deal.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find it everywhere! In dreams, talking with my kids, people watching, or even random moments when I least expect. For instance, the inspiration for Gossip from the Girls Room hit me when I was at Starbucks doing homework for my business law class. Totally unexpected.

Your first book was Gossip from the Girl’s Room: A Blogtastic Novel, which my daughter LOVED. Your next book is Rumors from the Boy’s Room: A Blogtastic Novel, which came out on 10/11. Do you have other Blogtastic Novels in the works?

The third Blogtastic Novel in the series, Secrets from the Sleeping Bag will be out Summer 2012. I’m working on the revisions for this now, I’m super excited!

Quick writing questions:

Plotter or panster? Panster

Quiet or music? Music. Loud!

Laptop or desktop? Laptop for writing, desktop when doing illus.

Mac or PC? PC, baby.

Coffee or tea? Coffee!

Wine or other? White wine.

Day or night? Definitely night.


Gossip from the Girls' Room

Rumors from the Boys' Room

Doodle Divas (She's got Halloween cards for sale now.)

Blogtastic Blog!

Whimsical Artwork

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How Do Famous Authors Define Success?

Me and Jacqueline Davies (of The Lemonade War series)

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Michael Offutt is hosting me TODAY .
If you don’t read Michael’s BLOG , you might want to fix that and quick. His posts are humorous, informative, and sincere. They’re sometimes longer than your average post, but I hardly notice it.
He took my post, which asks, “How Do You Define Success?” and made it way cooler with excellent quotes and visuals.

Please VISIT and find out what I learned from Lois Lowry, Kathryn Lasky, Jacqueline Davies, and Bill Thomson about success.

Thanks for being part of my Fangtales blog tour, Michael!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Delving into Divergent

“Becoming fearless isn't the point. That's impossible. It's learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it.”

- Divergent by Veronica Roth

Christina Lee at Write-Brained is hosting a 2011 Debut Author Spotlight .

Since I have a short story ("Allured" in Fangtales) bloggers are helping me promote, I should help new authors, right? Besides, I’ve read over 90 books so far this year. I had plenty of books to choose from! I chose:

Divergent by Veronica Roth.

I read 487 pages in less than 48 hours - it was that good.

Here’s the description on Goodreads:

Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

Here’s my review:

At first I wasn't sure how I felt about Beatrice. First I thought she was too secretive, then too cold, but she grew on me as she grew as a person.

Beatrice lives in a world of factions. When you turn 16, you join one. If you chose a faction other than the one you're born into, it's scandalous. Beatrice doesn't feel comfortable in the ones she's in where's she's expected to be selfless. Once she decides, her allegiance should be faction over blood.

Then she trains.

In her training, she must figure out who she is, what she fears and how to deal with them, whom to trust, and how to survive. At the same time, she has to wrestle with feelings she has for one of her trainers. If this all weren't enough, when Beatrice realizes there are secrets that may jeopardize those she loves, she must figure out what to do to protect them.

It's got a lot of action, reminding me of second half of The Hunger Games. I thought the characters and scenario were realistic. The less we know of one another, the easier it is to demonize the other. That's an important theme of this book. I couldn't put it down and I can't wait for the next one to come out.

My biggest gripe was the level of violence in training. It didn't seem realistic or everyone would be walking around with rearranged faces and useless bodies. But it made more sense near the end. Sort of.

I like Tris’s strength as well as her realizations of her own flaws. The romance is realistic.

I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Acceptance, Press, and Winners

On Thursday, besides my very own shiny copy of Fangtales, this also arrived in the mail from Lesley University:

Dear Theresa,

Congratulations! It is my pleasure to accept you as a new student in the Moderate Disabilities leading to Initial License in grades 5-12 Master's degree program for the Spring 2012 Semester.


Now I'd better pass this semester's class...

In Fangtales Tour related news:

Aubrie Dionne has posted press release up about Fangtales today. You'll learn more about the anthology.


In contest-related news, I've been remiss in announcing the winners:

Jess - Abandoned (signed!)

Medeia Sharif Red Glove

Robyn Campbell - Bestest. Ramadan. Ever.

Sharon Mayhew - Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (signed!)

Congratulations, winners! Please e-mail me at tmilstein at gmail dot com and tell me your mailing address.

Americans, I wish you a wonderful 3-day weekend.

Non-Americans, I wish you a wonderful 2-day weekend.

Love, Theresa


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tales with Bite and a Tour

“An anthology of vampire tales specifically with teen readers in mind, this gripping read has both new and established authors who will take readers on a mind-bending adventure of dark horror.”

- Description of Fangtales

I’m going a blog tour.

I know what you’re thinking.


Yes, me.

My short story “Allured” is featured in Fangtales, which just came out from Wyvern Publications.


I figured, why not? I’m proud of my story. When I see the list of other authors in the anthology, I know I’m in good company.

Fangtales is a book for teens that features scary stories about vampires. Who wouldn’t want to read it?

It’s a short story, so it’s going to be a short tour.

Here are the dates and hosts:

10/06 – Nicole Zoltack! She’s first. Please visit TODAY!

10/08 - Aubrie Dionne!

10/12 – Michael Offutt!

10/20- Shannon O'Donnell!

10/27 – Len Lambert!

10/31 – Theresa Milstein! hosts a Halloween Haunting!

11/06 – Deniz Bevan!

11/17 - Robyn Campbell!

I’ll be doing interviews and do guest posts. I hope you stop by their blogs and comment. Details for each stop on the blog tour (including the Halloween Haunting) is on my sidebar.

“Tales of blood, revenge, and vampires...”

Fangtales is the perfect book for the spooky month of October.

And a good gift for the December holidays.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lois Lowry and Literature

Me and Lois Lowry at the SCBWI “Overcoming Challenges” Program,

“Literature can change the lives of children.”

- Lois Lowry

You’re not going to believe it.

Lois Lowry originally had no plans to write for children. The author who is writing her 40th children’s book (she writes about 1 per year) attended Brown University and planned to write, “The Great American Novel”.

After two years, Lowry dropped out of Brown, got married, and had 4 children. She returned to school later and wrote in her spare time. Lowry attended the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference in the early 1970s.

She skipped the children’s book workshop.

Later, Lois wrote a letter to a writer friend, sharing a childhood memory that was triggered by scent. Her friend encouraged her to turn it into a story.

She did. It was published in "Redbook".

(This next part never happens to mere mortals.)

An editor at Houghton Mifflin had read her Redbook story and contacted her, asking her if she could write a children’s book. She decided to try.

A Summer to Die was published in 1977.

It received awards in 1978.

The story was about the death of her sister. She received letters from girls who had lost someone or worried about losing someone. They saw Lois Lowry as a kindred spirit.

By the time her 1st book was published, she was divorced, living in a one-bedroom apartment. She had to decide whether to continue to write children’s books or pursue that Great American Novel. She had to support herself.

Back then, it became about making a living. Now it’s not just about making a living. She became aware of how books can change children and how these children change her.

Lois Lowry said adults are never transformed by a book the way children are.

Lois Lowry, I have to respectfully disagree. I attended the program just to meet you. I was first on line to get (many) books signed. Because I didn’t to gush and ramble (and there was a line behind me), I didn’t tell you how your book changed me.

When my daughter was 1, and I was working as an assistant in the 7th-grade, I picked up The Giver, which was required reading for the students. It was my first YA book since I was a teen. In fact, when I was a teen, I hardly read YA, moving from middle grade to adult novels. I wish there had been more books like The Giver. Soon after, I’d discover Harry Potter by reading the books to my child. And after that, I’d meet an author who sparked me to write the books I’d been burning to put on paper. But it was The Giver that had changed my perspective on what children’s literature could be.

The Giver is still one of my favorite all-time books.

Lois Lowry, you can transform adults too.

P.S. By the way, The Giver came out in 1993, many years before dystopian took off. Kathryn Lasky credited you for writing the first dystopian novel. I agree. Of all the dystopian I’ve read, yours is still the best.