The Frog Blog

J.R. Sparlin discusses things

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanks to the Kansas SCBWI

Several months ago, I posted the news that I had won the inaugural 2012 Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship, awarded by the Kansas chapter of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators.  I was very excited about the award, and looked forward to attending the KS SCBWI conference in October.

Things do not always go as we plan or wish.  We have had an ongoing family emergency for several months.  The day before the conference the situation worsened, and by the next day became alarming.  I emailed Colleen Ryckert Cook, the KS SCBWI regional advisor, and told her I could not attend.  She sent me a kind and gracious email telling me I could keep the award I was so proud of, even though I could not make it to the conference.

The next day, the emergency situation deepened into what I most feared and we suffered an incalculable loss, but I was here at home where I was needed and where I wanted to be.

Thank you to Colleen and the KS SCBWI for giving me a little light in a dark and terrible time.  


Monday, August 13, 2012

The Frog Blog Interview with Gayle C. Krause

Today we have a very special post – the first FROG BLOG INTERVIEW with Gayle C. Krause!  Gayle is one of my fellow Timeless authors, and her story, “The Storyteller’s Daughter,” kicks off the collection.  It’s a great story with an exciting plot and an exotic locale. 

AND, I’m giving away a free e-copy of the book!  

A member of SCBWI, YALITCHAT and THE POETS’ GARAGE, Gayle C. Krause is a published children’s author. Rock Star Santa (Scholastic 2008) has sold over 138,000 copies to date. Her work is in Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul 2, Meanderings; An Anthology of Poetic Verse (Diversion Press) and soon will appear in And the Crowd Goes Wild -A Global Gathering of Sports Poems (Friesens Press) coming this month.  Please visit her website at and her blog at

Here, Gayle and I discuss her writing in general and “The Storyteller’s Daughter” in particular.  

Q:  What made you want to be a writer?

A: I’ve been writing all my life, first poems about broken hearts in high school (don’t we all do that? J), then a poignant one when my grandfather died suddenly.

As an educator, who trained prospective teachers, Children’s Literature was my favorite unit to teach. I was a ‘do what I do,’ not ‘do what I say’ teacher, and every assignment I gave the students I did, too. Consequently, I wrote children’s plays starring my high school students and my Pre-K children, which they performed for the children’s parents. These plays were a perfect segue into picture books. 

And of course, I was, and still am an avid reader. I love fantasy and historical fiction and when I read the call for the YA Timeless anthology I knew I had to combine my two favorite genres. I came up with a historical fantasy for my selection.

Q:  "The Storyteller's Daughter" is set long ago in the Middle East.  How did you become interested in this locale and its stories?  How did you get the idea for this story?  What kind of research did you do?

One of the parties I developed for my nursery school was “An Arabian Nights” party. We turned the classroom into a nomad tent, took the legs off the children’s tables and sat around on pillows on the floor. I taught the high school students to prepare Middle Eastern food and to sew harem costumes, so essentially ‘The Storyteller’s Daughter’ was living in my head since that party.

Another factor is that a few years ago I participated in National Geographic’s Deep Ancestry Study and my familial information came back that my mother’s long-ago ancestors traveled across Northern Africa, through the desert and across the Mediterranean Sea to land in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and the southern hills of Georgia.

As soon as I found this out I thought about writing a Middle Eastern fantasy about one of my female ancestors and “The Storyteller’s Daughter” was born. (Though I’m really not related to Scheherazade, or maybe I am, with all those stories in my head J)

Q:  What wonderful parties those must have been!  Your classes were lucky.  =)

In "The Storyteller's Daughter" you use wonderful similes.  They always reference and strengthen the world of the story.  Is this a "writing gift" you've always had, or did you have to develop this skill?

A: It’s a by-product of my teaching days. When I explained a concept to my students I always gave them examples to help them understand what I was saying. I guess the similies serve the same purpose in my writing, especially in cases of words the young reader may not be familiar with.

Q:  Why did you decide to submit this story to Pugalicious Press for Timeless?

A: As I said above, the concept was in my head for a while and the specifications of a YA historical romance short story coaxed it out.

Q:  What are your current projects?  Are you working on anything new?  Anything being published soon?

A: Currently, I have two projects in different stages:

            1.      A YA sexy historical set in the early 1700’s in the Caribbean. (first revision)

            2.      A YA contemporary romance with thriller and light paranormal elements (ready to sub     to agents.)

Q:  Those sound fantastic!  What advice do you have for teen writers, or other writers just starting out? 

 A: My main advice is when a character whispers in your ear… “LISTEN.” And once you start writing… “FINISH” what you start.

Q:  If you were a frog, what kind of frog would you be?

A: Ha! That’s easy…….The Frog Prince, of course.

Thanks Gayle, and we look forward to hearing about all your future endeavors!  And now – the giveaway!

Leave a comment on this post by Sunday August 19 by midnight, and you’ll be entered into the drawing.  The winner gets a free e-copy of Timeless in Kindle, Nook, or PDF.

Love stories that transcend time. From a thousand years ago to the unknown future, Timeless will show how love is timeless. This anthology of love stories contains "The Storyteller's Daughter" by Gayle C. Krause, "And The Nightingale Sang" by Kip Wilson, "A Light Of Victory" by Jennifer Carson, "The Angel Of The Bastille" by J.R. Sparlin, "Stella's Hero" by Kristine Carlson Asselin & Ansha Kotyk, "In This Moment" by D. E. Atwood, and "It Lies Beneath" by Magda Knight.

Timeless: An Anthology of Young Adult Romance is available for Kindle, Nook, and other e-formats.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

D.E. Atwood Interviews Me!

Yesterday my fellow Timeless author, D.E. Atwood, posted an interview with me on her blog!  She asked me some very interesting questions about my short story, “The Angel of the Bastille.”  It is fun but a little strange to read an interview of myself.  She’s also giving away an e-copy of the book!  Here’s the link:

Next Monday, August 13, I’ll be interviewing Gayle C. Krause, whose story “The Storyteller’s Daughter” kicks off the anthology.  And yes!  I’ll be giving away an e-copy as well!

Timeless: An Anthology of Young Adult Romance is available for Kindle, Nook, and other e-formats!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Timeless Interviews

I have been remiss.  My fellow Timeless authors have been doing blog interviews for several weeks now, and I have posted none of them!  Shameful.

These are great stories by great ladies.  If you’d like to read the interviews, here are the links: Kristine Carlson Asselin interviews Kip Wilson; Ansha Kotyk interviews Kip Wilson; Kip Wilson interviews D.E. Atwood (where there is an ongoing contest to win a free e-copy of Timeless!).

To add to the fun, D.E. Atwood will interview ME on her blog this Monday, August 6!  I’ll post the link then.

Timeless: An Anthology of Young Adult Romance is available for Kindle, Nook, and other e-formats!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Timeless Time!

Timeless is now available for Kindle and Nook!  It should be available for Sony and other e-things soon.
The other fantastic ladies and I will be doing a “round-robin blog interview” soon, so stay tuned, as it were!  Here’s the beautiful cover and list of stories and their authors:

“The Storyteller’s Daughter” by Gayle C. Krause

“And The Nightingale Sang” by Kip Wilson

“A Light Of Victory” by Jennifer Carson

 “The Angel of the Bastille” by J.R. Sparlin  (That’s me!)

 “Stella’s Hero” by Kristine Carlson Asselin & Ansha Kotyk

“In this Moment” by D.E. Atwood

“It Lies Beneath” by Magda Knight

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Almost Timeless Time

I’m told that Timeless, in which my story “The Angel of the Bastille” appears, will be available for all e-formats very soon!  In the meantime, here’s the beautiful cover!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Monday, May 21, 2012

Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship

Something very cool has happened.  I have won the inaugural 2012 Clare Vanderpool Work of Promise Scholarship, awarded by the Kansas chapter of the Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Clare Vanderpool is a Kansas author who won the Newbery Medal last year for her novel, Moon Over Manifest.  The Kansas SCBWI has established this award in her honor.

I get to go to the Kansas SCBWI conference this fall for free, and also get a manuscript critique and consultation with an editor or agent.  I won the scholarship for my unpublished middle-grade novel, The Court Wizard.

I am very grateful for this award and this opportunity, and kind of nervous because I want to use the opportunity well.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Timeless Details

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I have a short story accepted for publication in Timeless, a historical fantasy romance e-anthology for young adults.  It will be out this June (yay!) as an e-book for all e-book formats.  It’s being published by Pugalicious Press, a great new small publisher.  Here is the list of authors and their stories!

“The Storyteller’s Daughter” by Gayle C. Krause

“And The Nightingale Sang” by Kip Wilson

“A Light Of Victory” by Jennifer Carson

“The Angel of the Bastille” by J.R. Sparlin  (That’s me!)

“Stella’s Hero” by Kristine Carlson Asselin & Ansha Kotyk

“In this Moment” by D.E. Atwood

“It Lies Beneath” by Magda Knight

If I were more clever with computers and things, I would include the beautiful cover art.  However, here’s the link if you’d like to see it:


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Robin Hood Interview

When I used to teach public speaking, I had to assign an interview.  I wrote the following example to teach the concept of primary and follow-up questions.  I never used it – probably should have.

Robin Hood Interview

  1. Where did you get your hood?
    • Did you get to pick the color?
    • Was it used or new?

  1. Do you mind having a girl’s name?
    • If you could pick another name, what would it be?
    • If you could choose a different bird name, what would it be?

  1. Do you think Maid Marion is hot?
    • How hot is she?
    • Do you think anyone else is hotter?

  1. Tell us about your greatest exploit.
    • Would you change anything about this exploit if you could?
    • What would be your ultimate exploit?

  1. Who is cooler, you or King Arthur?
    • Did you ever meet King Arthur?
    • Who is hotter, Maid Marion or Guinevere?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"The Angel of the Bastille" To Be Published

I’ve spent the last few days recovering from the tornado that ripped by one-half mile from my house.  I am very grateful that my family and I are all okay.  The power went out and we lost all the food in the fridge, but that’s a very small price.

But I did get some good news yesterday.  My short story, “The Angel of the Bastille,” was accepted for publication in Timeless, a young adult e-anthology of historical and historical fantasy stories.  It’s being published by Pugalicious Press, a great new small publisher.  More details as they emerge!

I am also now on Goodreads under the name Jennifer Sparlin.  I’m still working the bugs out of my author profile, but please stop by!  

Sunday, April 8, 2012

More Egg Jokes!

What do you call an egg that becomes a priest?

What do you call an egg that wins the lottery?

What do you call an egg society that is based on farming?

Happy Easter! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Egg Jokes! AND Amazon Reviews of The Sea at Mughain

Here are some egg jokes!

What do you call an egg that knows a lot of different stuff?

What do you call an egg that believes in equality?

What do you call an egg that repeats itself?
Egg cetera

Okay, back to book stuff.  There have been two lovely reviews of The Sea at Mughain on Amazon, which is very exciting.  You can see them here:

Happy Palm Sunday! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Since my last post of a few hours ago, the problem with the Amazon page seems to have resolved itself, and everything looks normal.  So -- The Sea at Mughain is now available on Amazon, both in print and for Kindle!  Yay!  The Kindle edition is only $2.99!

Here’s the new and improved link:


The Sea at Mughain is now available on Amazon, both in print and for Kindle!  Yay!

It’s kind of weird, though – they have it on two separate pages, so if you see the Kindle page, you won’t know it’s also in print, and vice versa.  I’ll see what I can do about that.  In the meantime, here’s the link to my Amazon author page, where you can access both editions.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pear Problems

I can see ten fluffy white pear trees in bloom from the windows of my house.  There may be more, but I can’t see anything past the fluffy white pear trees.

I am horribly, horribly allergic to fluffy white pear trees.

Last night I sniffed and my left sinus oinked.

Anyway.  Now it’s tornadoey.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


March has come in like an especially grumpy lion.  Nevertheless, a few updates for you.

It’s taking a bit longer for The Sea at Mughain to be available on Kindle, due to an emergency with my publisher.  It will be there soon, however, and it is on Amazon in print.  If you must have an e-copy immediately, it is available as an e-book on Smashwords for a number of formats, including Kindle and Nook.

I’m also hoping to have some good news about an entirely different publication to share with you in a few weeks.  =)

Until then, try to enjoy the budding flowers, keep the antihistamines handy, and watch out for the tornadoes.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mughain and the Amazons

And now the big news!

My novella, The Sea at Mughain, is now available on Amazon.  It is currently available for order in print, and will be available for Kindle soon.  Until now it has been, and continues to be, available from several fine retailers, but I am very excited to have the opportunity to reach a wider audience.

If you’re new to me and my blog, The Sea at Mughain is the story of a sixth-century Irish princess who must battle her family to gain the life she wants.  I would call it a historical fantasy romance, and some other stuff.  It's published under the name Jennifer Sparlin.

If you’d like to see it, here’s the link!

If you’ve read the book, and would consider tagging, “liking,” or reviewing it, that would be awesome! 

Friday, February 3, 2012


It is now Sprote-kalemonath (Old English for February), and I will have some exciting news to share soon regarding the distribution of The Sea at Mughain.  Can’t say any more right now, except that soon it will be much easier to find.

My publisher for Mughain, Sam’s Dot Publishing, has a monthly newsletter of all their goings-on.  This month they were kind enough to mention my recent publication in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly:

Hope the groundhog gave you good weather.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Frog Joke

Who’s there?
Time-traveling frog.
Time-traveling frog who?

Monday, January 2, 2012

"Will Swords Rise Up" Published

Happy New Year!

My poem, “Will Swords Rise Up,” was published in Issue 11 of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly.  It’s free and online!  Check it out at