Diversity Reading Challenge

Here is the Perfect Accessory for Rad Women: My Rad Life, A Journal


An inspiring, empowering journal that encourages its owners to think, create, reflect, and explore their own radness. 

A companion to the New York Times bestseller Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, this cool guided journal draws from a number of the “rad” women featured in both books, while also including a diverse range of new women, all of whom come to life via inspirational quotes and paper cut portraits.Blank pages invite doodling, lined pages encourage writing, and a collection of thought-provoking prompts encourage users to get to know themselves better by recording their thoughts and ideas on paper.

I LOVE Journals, don’t you? And I also love the Rad Women books by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl. So it makes perfect sense that the powers that be would coming my two faves into one thing: a journal for and about Rad women.  What I love most about this journal is that the women who are quoted and illustrated within the pages are of every color and ethnicity and lifestyle imaginable.

I can already see myself scooping multiple copies of this journal at the holidays for every Rad woman in my life. I would love to see English or Language Arts teachers use the journal as tool during writing class. The possibilities of use for My Rad Life are so many.

Totally putting this on my Diversity Reading Challenge.

Lists resources

Books for Kids Who Want to Write

Books for Kids Who Want to Write

If you know of a kid who is an aspiring writer or a kid who just likes to write, I’ve got a surprise for you. Inspired by all the fun I had during NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo I thought it would be fun to speak directly to the kiddies to see what they’re excited about when it comes to getting their thoughts down on paper (or computer).

I decided to host a writing workshop just for kids. It’ll be fun and funky and I hope to inspire kids to find their inner voice and put it to good use. All kids have a story to tell and I feel like maybe they just need a vehicle to help bring it out.

Here are the links to my writing workshops. They have online components, so location is no problem!

Fun and Funky Kids Writing Workshop I 

Fun and Funky Kids Writing Workshop II 

Depending on your child’s interest, you can enroll in a one day session or a more indepth two week session. Students will have homework. Click the links or the images to register or for more information.

And now on to the books! Here’s a list of books that your budding writer might enjoy reading to help them hone their craft.

Out of Wonder by Kwame Alexander 

This is not a primer on how to write, but rather inspiration. Alexander and friends have written poetry celebrating famous poets. You might just find the inspiration you need!

My Weird Writing Tips by Dan Gutman

Dan’s the man when it comes to weird. Kids familiar with the so famously funny My Weird School series will love seeing their favorite characters help them with grammar and other writing tips. His explanations are funny and SO accurate.

Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine

The (marvelous other princess type books) author provides homework assignments and tips for getting your story to shine. I liked this book so much I bought it in paperback and Kindle so i’m always near a copy when I need ideas. Her tips are good for grownups too.

The Best Story by Eileen Spinelli

I’m anxious to read this because I love LOVE Eileen Spinelli and i think she will be a great person to help kids find their writing voice. Everyone gives our heroine an opinion of what makes a good story, but she’ll have to figure it out for herself, right? Plus? There’s a pirate on the cover and you know how we feel about pirates.

So. You’re all set. If you want to work on your next magnum opus (thats fancy latin for BIG WORK) start with these books. If you’re ready to get started, think about signing up for my workshop. I guarantee we will have fun!


Start Where You Are journal by Meera Lee Patel

I love journals. I’ve been keeping journals since I was a kid. I can’t walk past a journal without admiring the paper, smelling the lovely fresh smell (shut UP I know you smell books too), and contemplating what secrets I’ll share with my journal. To be sure, probably most of my journals are probably coffee stained, but amidst tears, doodles, stickers, and girl scout song lyrics, there’s my life story.

Start Where You Are journal by Meera Lee Patel

I’ve tried just about every kind of journal there is, but my favorites tend be the ones with relevant inspirational quotes. C

Good advice from Mo Willems: If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.  Then, on the page opposite each quote Patel leaves room for reflection and scribbles and also provides writing prompts.

One of my favorite quotes is; Be yourself, everyone else is already taken. ~Oscar Wilde

Pop this journal in your tote bag and when you’re waiting at the bus stop or sitting in the car at school pick up time, use that time to scribble a few thoughts. Self reflection is the best kind of homework.

While you’re at it, grab some markers and make it fun.

Buy an extra pack for your kid, cuz you don’t want them taking yours.

Better buy some stickers too, cuz, you know, stickers are fun.

What’s your fave journal?



Books Children

Interview with Maggie Mitchell Author of The Big Stink

I love having friends who write books for ME! I have a friend, Maggie Mitchell, who among other things is a children’s writer. She wrote a lovely

book called the Big Stink, which I will be reviewing later.

The Big Stink by Maggie Mitchelle

Mags graciously sat down with me for a lil ole interview.  Let’s step into the mind of Maggie Mitchell, shall we?

UNCONVENTIONAL LIBRARIAN: Welcome to our interview! Let’s get started. Do you drink coffee?

MAGGIE MITCHELL: I haven’t had any caffeine in 5 weeks! I don’t need a medal or a parade for that feat, it’s just something I wanted to do for my own personal health. Prior to that point, however, I did enjoy coffee ‘drinks,’ but I never got into a cup of joe from a countertop coffeepot. Say that three times fast.

UL. coffeepot coffeepot coffeepot. I win!  Do you like donuts or cookies? Do you dunk?

MM: No dunking. I like my beverage & carbohydrate entities to remain separate, unless there are Oreos and milk involved. I love to bake cookies…and eat them…but if I had to choose, I’d go with a donut that someone else made!

UL: Donuts for the win! We’re kindred spirits. How did your book get started?

MM:  After my daughter was born in 2010, I had a great compulsion to write. I wrote The Big Stink as a response to a particularly profound stink bug invasion that fall, coupled with sad, sad stories I was hearing on the news about the outcomes of bullying in schools. I took something serious and something not-so-serious and developed a story. I love that inspiration can just strike! I was open to it and it found me and I have a book to show for it as the proof!

UL: That’s the great thing about inspiration; it STRIKES! So, tell me, what else have you written?

MM: I wrote Kacey the Papercat in 2012, which is a poetic ode to our big male Tuxedo cat. He’s actually laying at my feet as I type this. I used to write my own blog, but as my daughter got older and when my son was on his way (he was born in December 2014), it became clear to me that blogging was not the way I wanted to use my “extra” time, so I went off the grid. I like it off the grid. I think I’ll stay.

UL: (singing: “Kacey the Papercat…something something where it’s at.”) I hope you like the theme song I just wrote for you. If you could have any superpower what would it be?

MM: Since I am a mom, I can already read minds and predict the future, so those are out. I’m going to have to say flying. If I’m going to be up high, though, I like going fast. I am not a fan of ferris wheels. My superpower would have to be fast flying.

UL: YES!! Flying! What makes you happy?

MM: I think most moms out there would agree with me when I said that seeing my children happy makes me happy. However, I’m going to come right out and say that being alone also makes me very happy. There is nothing so lovely as taking a nap in the middle of the day and waking up naturally to a quiet house. Or sitting on the beach for as long as I like without interruption. I think I’ve done those things before, perhaps in a past life.

UL: hmmmm I can agree.  Something about being alone with your thoughts is glorious. Wrapping up now, anything else you want to tell us?
MM:Wear sunscreen, don’t be afraid of color & mixing patterns, and, from Death of a Salesman, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Because personality always wins the day.”
UL: Well said, Mags.

Isn’t Maggie just the coolest? Stay tuned for my review of her anti bullying book on this channel!

See you soon!


I Hate Grammar Mistakes, don’t you? Which Celebrities Make the Most? Let’s Ask Grammarly

Grammarly Celebrity Twitter Mistakes
Grammarly’s Free Grammar Checker. Correct all grammar errors and check for plagiarism – instant and free! #ad


Self Published Authors Wanted!

Self Published Authors Wanted!

Are  you a self published author? Have you written a great book, novel, short story, novella, or picture book and want to tell the world about it?

Need social media exposure?  Need an alternative to a blog tour? Just want to try something new?  Here’s your answer:

Buy an ad spot on An Unconventional Librarian.

Why?  As a blogger and a book seller I understand the importance of getting the right book into the hands of a reader. Readers can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists! So the question is, if readers don’t see your book in a bookstore where can they see it?

cAtchingfirepam copy

The answer is: on a blog just like this!  More and more readers trust book bloggers as a source of finding their next great read. They like us and as a result trust our judgement based on shared interests.  It’s kind of like the alliance Katniss and Peeta form with other champions in the Quarter Quell, without the menacing monkeys.  Readers who come to An Unconventional Librarian like middle grade, Young Adult, and children’s books.

Buy an ad spot on An Unconventional Librarian’s site and get easy additional exposure to potential readers. Choose your weapon below to help fight off President Snow and get noticed by future readers and friends.



Blogging from A to Z Challenge Books

Blogging from A to Z Challenge #atozchallenge

It’s the Blogging from A to Z Challenge !

A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

It’s time to start thinking about the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge! This is a chance for us to practice blogging every day for a month, visit other blogs, and general mayhem (well, at least on my end).  April is the most fun month of the year because of this challenge and I’m inviting YOU to ride along!

Here’s how it works:

Please read and follow the sign-up instructions outlined below so you sign onto the list correctly!  

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

We recommend short posts, turn off Word Verification, and visit five blogs (or more) a day beginning with the one after yours on the list.

To streamline legitimate blogs from advertisement blogs, the Co-Hosts will be visiting each blog on this list throughout the Challenge. Blogs on the list showing no activity once the Challenge starts will be removed.

There are categories for those looking for like-minded blogs. Select ONE category code and enter it after your blog’s title/name. The code applies to your blog, not your theme for the Challenge and is purely optional. However, if your blog has adult content, you MUST mark it (AC) or it will be removed from the list. Codes are as follows:

2. BOOKS: (BO)
3. FILM: (FM)
6. CRAFT: (CR)
7. ART: (AR)
8. MUSIC: (MU)
14. GAMING: (GA)
19. HUMOR: (HU)
20. TRAVEL: (TR)

Be sure to grab the badge and display it in your sidebar so we know you are participating and link to the A to Z Blog.  (

For more information we recommend you follow the A to Z Challenge Blog and the hosts:

Arlee Bird @ Tossing it Out

Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh

Author Stephen Tremp

Tina @ Life is Good

[email protected]

Jeremy @ Being Retro

Nicole Ayers – The Madlab Post

M. J. Joachim’s Writing Tips

Heather M. Gardner

AJ @ Naturally Sweet

ME! —> Pam @ An Unconventional Librarian


We also have a Facebook page, (

email address is [email protected],

and the Twitter hashtag is #AtoZChallenge.

Sign up below and join us for a month of alphabet fun!

My blogging theme is always books (duh), but I’m challenging myself even more and only highlighting middle grade books.  Last year I featured Young Adult books and the year before that, all books for kids.  Other bloggers write about life, love, adult content, or whatever they like.  Hundreds of bloggers participate; it’s a great way to make new friends, eat cake, and discover other great blogs to read.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Why not join me and participate in the challenge?




Conferences resources

11th James River Writers Conference

jamesriverWriters, mark your calendars. The James River Writers Conference is celebrating its 11th
year as one of the most prestigious gatherings of published authors, literary agents and editors in the country with a two-day event that will inspire and educate writers on the rise.

The James River Writers Conference returns to Richmond on October 19 and 20 with an impressive lineup of  literary professionals, writing workshops and opportunities for aspiring writers to pitch their book ideas, hone their skills and connect with nationally recognized authors and publishers.

This year’s conference features an extensive list of esteemed guests and speakers including award-winning book designer and writer Chip Kidd, National Book Award-winner Kathryn Erskine and best-selling, award-winning author Christopher McDougall. Also making appearances at the conference are award-winning authors Cece Bell, Lydia Netzer, Megan Mayhew Bergman and Philippa Ballantine. Book Doctors and
Pitchapalooza founders Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry will be on hand, and don’t forget to make time for agents including April Eberhardt, Deborah Grosvenor, Victoria Skurnick and Paige Wheeler.

Year after year, the conference is lauded for its remarkable programs and its noteworthy influence on the writing community. It’s no wonder why hundreds of people have been flocking to central Virginia each fall since 2003.

“The James River Writers Conference [is] one of the best writers’ conferences in America,” says David Henry Sterry, of The Book Doctors. “If you’re a writer, do yourself a favor, get yourself to Richmond, Va., and go to this conference. It’s filled with warm, generous, talented writers, editors and agents.”

Registration for the annual conference is open, and writing sessions are already filling up. Find more details and a full list of programs at


Books Non Fiction

Word Up! One Grammarian’s Book Review to Another. Grammarian.

Hey folks.  Remember those days in school when you were forced to diagram sentences? Remember how painfully confusing the process was? Remember thinking, why on earth do I have to learn this junk?

Me neither.  Why? Cuz I am a grammarian (I know someone’s cringing at my poor usage).  I actually prefer to call myself a Linguist, but  a grammarian I am.  I love words.  And since I love to read books, learning grammar came easy to me.  I’ve always believed that my good grasp of grammar (like that alliteration there?) is in part the result of long hours reading great literature.

new_cover2My pal Marcia, I’m sure, would agree that reading helps grammar.  Marcia has written a book I’m excited to share with you called Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs (And Everything You Build from Them).  I know the title is long, but don’t be afraid.  Or rather, fear not  (inside joke you’ll get if you read the chapter on Be Verbs).  Marcia’s book is the grammar book your high school English teacher should have used when teaching.  Marcia’s chapters make very clear the hows, whys, and whuts? of writing.  The questions you’ve most often wanted answered are contained within the book.  And the great news? The answers are in English (hahaha!) meaning the answers are easy to understand; Marcia writes for the flustered everyday person who doesn’t care about diagramming.

Have you ever wondered about when to use a certain pronoun? Marcia covers this topic brilliantly in her chapter: Her and I: How to Banish Painful Personal-Pronoun Pairings.  As an aside, these mistakes make my blood boil.  Let me give you an example of Marica’s brilliance (my comments are in parentheses):

My father is living with my wife and I.

A businessman sent this statement out to thousands of readers.  Does the I hurt your ears?  If it doesn’t–if the I sounds right to you, or if it sounds funny but you aren’t sure why, or if you never know whether to say I or me but you favor I because you’ve heard lots of otherwise well informed people talk that way–you’re not alone.  Pronoun misuse saturates American parlance. (that’s a fancy word for the way we speak)

The trouble arises in sentences that involve two parties.  No one would say, “My father is living with I.”  What trips people up is the and.  So get rid of it, if only for a moment.  Cover the and with your mind’s hand before you speak or write (and split the sentence into two sentences).


Him/He and me/I went fishing this morning.

Cover up the and. Look at each pronoun by itself:

Him/He went fishing this morning.

Me/I went fishing this morning.

No problem.  No one would say Him went fishing or Me went fishing…If it’s He went fishing and I went fishing, then its He and I went fishing.  (ta da!)


I’m pretty sure Marcia is my soulmate. See how easy she made the above answer sound??

As a grammarian, linguist, reader, and editor, I often cringe at poor grammar.  To be sure, we all make mistakes, but I long for the days when people wrote letters full of poetic prose and correct grammar.  If you’re like me, you’ll understand.  I silently correct others grammar as they speak.  I mentally correct signs, pamphlets, and websites constantly.   As a freelance editor, I weep because sometimes poor grammar or sentence structure can take a good story idea and turn it to mush.  If you feel the same way, look at this statement here that I copied from a church sign:

To whom are you neighbor?

Is that statement correct or not?  Check out the chapter Whom Ya Gonna Call? to discover the answer…

You can find more information about Marcia at her website: How To Write Everything.  She’s also on Twitter @MarciaRJohnston

What are you waiting for? For what are you waiting? Read the book to find out which sentence is correct!




Did You Write The Next Big YA Book?

Do you dream of writing the next big YA book?  Have you already written something that you think is FAB?

Here’s your chance!


Click here to learn more about how to submit your manuscript to possibly get a publishing contract and become the next big YA book.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll see you at BEA 14 as an author?!

What are you waiting for? GO!