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The Next Big Thing Blog Tour-Welcome Hoppers!

Welcome everyone,

Glad you are here.  My name is Jim Westcott and I’m the author of Jack’s Tales-a unique chapterbook for children around the ages of 7-10.  I’d like to express my gratitude to Vicki Taylor for including me as an author on ”The Next Big Thing Blog Tour,” and making it easy for me to participate while she did the leg work. This is a great idea and I hope the other authors on this tour receive some well deserved attention.

So, if you haven’t heard of a blog hop and wondering what it may be, this may shed some light.

“THE NEXT BIG THING is designed to raise awareness of our work, or work in progress. We do that by answering ten questions about it. We graciously thank the person who nominated us, and tag four to six other authors whose work could very well be THE NEXT BIG THING.”

So let’s get this show on the road!

So, here we go, ten questions about my work.

What is the working title of your book?

Jack’s Tales

copy of cover

Where did the idea come from for your book?

I was a Special Education teacher for fifteen years. I worked with many younger students, especially boys, who did not like to read, especially fiction, for any length of time. I wanted to write something in fast segments, but with all of the elements of high quality fiction. So, I came up with the idea of putting my guy Jack-main character and coincidentally my sons name, in the center of three fast, quirky, very character centered and thoughtful stories and called it Jack’s Tales.

What genre does your book fall under?

How about creative and fun? The stories are realistic fiction with two stories having potential to be paranormal or fantasy fiction until they turn into realistic fiction at the end.

Which actors would you choose to play as characters in a movie rendition

I would hire my nine year old son, who happens to be named Jack and who the stories are based on.  Why?  Because, no doubt he’s a character.

What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?

Find out what a boy named Jack does at eight years old when he thinks he’s hooked a bay monster fishing with his dad or at nine when he offers a shadow ghost in his basement pizza, or when he is ten when he decides to save U10 Elite soccer by saving himself first.

Will your book be self published or by an agency?

Jack’s Tales is being published by Nathan Levy Books. This is a small education publisher.  Nathan Levy is the author of the StoriesWithHoles series and a national education speaker.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I played around with the manuscript for around a year.

Who or what books would you compare this story to?

My all time favorite children’s author is Jerry Spinelli. I’d like to think my writing style has his quirky voice and tone.

What inspired you to write this story?

My son, Jack.  No doubt the desire to hook boys who don’t like reading and wanting to make them laugh because the words that I wrote.  Very cool if I can. I hope this book provides reluctant readers with a greater interest to read more fiction and hopefully a path to longer middle grade books.

Anything else about this book do you want to say?

I truly enjoyed writing it. Writing for this age group, and especially for boys is something that I am very passionate about. I hope that teachers find Jack’s Tales a useful classroom reading tool as well. I think it lends itself really well to thinking about character development and how we as humans no matter what age are always changing and learning about who we are and how we fit in and who we aren’t as well.

Oh, one more thing, the illustrations were done by Melissa Fasalono and they are amazing.  She is hugely talented!

Jack’s Tales will be released in late winter or early spring – 2013.

Check out these wonderful writers and their excellent work:


Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


Reluctant……Struggling? Are they different?

I find that reluctant and struggling readers are all lumped into the same squishy heap and I wonder if there is truly a difference.  I also find the terms ‘’reluctant’’ and ‘’struggling’’ tend to mean different things and describe two different animals at times.  So, which is it?  Are they reluctant or are they struggling?  I’m being a bit facetious here.  Personally, I think they tend to be both and are along many different ranges within these two categories.  I don’t think they are as easily defined as they sound.

Here is some solid information on the matter from:  Maybe this can help.

Characteristics of Reluctant Readers 

  • • Readers who tend to be unmotivated often lack

self-esteem regarding their ability to read.

  • • They often attribute their difficulties to the

difficulty of the task, interference, too much

noise, vision problems, or unfairness.

  • • Seldom do they acknowledge that their own lack of skill is at the heart of the


  • • Often they have a sense of hopelessness. When the reluctance of these students to

participate in activities is interpreted as defiance or laziness, their underlying reading.problem may not be identified or addressed.

  • • Reluctant readers who have had many years of frustration often become skilled

evaders who try either to “hide out or act out” so they can avoid reading.


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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Uncategorized


Did Video Kill Childrens Books as Well?

Childrens books compete with a myriad of other products for children’s attention nowadays, like never before.  Remember, the age- old- question- “did video kill the radio star?”  Has it possibly moved on after all of these years to zero-in on childrens books as well? Has video killed the childrens book?  Read on for brief discussion about this.

Do We Have Digital OCD?

No doubt that our country is currently suffering from digital overload and addiction.  This certainly applies to our children as well.  We’re constantly checking, checking, and then checking.  We’ve become a nation of checkers.  Constantly checking something, by the way, is one of the first symptoms of having OCD.  Checking a fast- paced and highly colorful digital game or app, is having OCD because of uniquely designed video technology, not really a symptom of a physiological disease.

A Parent’s Honesty 

An interesting article in February of 2011, in the New York Times, “A Parent’s Struggle with a Child’s Ipad Addiction,” highlighted a parent’s honesty, reasoning, and guilt, for allowing his son to use his IPad, to the point where the parent considers whether his son has become addicted.  Yes, it is easy to break out with a series of “bad-parent-scolding statements when you begin reading.  However, this parent also stated that he had set established rules for using it like:

  • Can’t use it during meal-times.
  • Can’t use it during homework time, unless it is for homework.
  • Can only use it during long car rides.
  • No electronics on school days.

This parent struggles with allowing his six year- old son to use his Ipad.  However, wonders how damaging it really is?  He only allows his son to play mind-building games and nothing from the mindless video game variety.  He eventually wonders whether digital game or app use for children is being viewed in only a  few limited ways.  Why not embrace the possibility of intellectual stimulation, even for younger children, with guidelines and monitoring, given the advent of these new technologies?  Yes, and again, with anything like this, a parent should set parameters for using it.  However, is it really something to be as ashamed about, as this parent eventually asks in this article?

Childrens Books can Be Addictive Too

Yes, this may sound like a corny jingle at Reading Rainbow.  However, it’s possible that childrens books can be presented in such a way to children where they can become addictive; used in a digital format on devices like an Ipad, and be intellectually stimulating as well. These, along with a collection of stimulating-cognition building applications, and maybe this parent shouldn’t hang his head at all.

I suppose we didn’t get to whether video will kill childrens books.  However, we seemed to go somewhere else!  Although, we did touch on a suggestion-just like video never really killed the radio star. It just forced the radio star to produce music in a new format-MP3’s.  Neither will IPAD video games nor the Internet kill childrens books. They will just force books to be more interactive and digital on a different format, and this may not be so bad.  Wait, a second!  Maybe we did answer whether video will kill childrens books!

Looking for something in the digital variety that certainly won’t destroy, and will enhance the mind of your child:

Check out Jack’s Monster, a great childrens ebook at  This is a childrens book that certainly can compete and out- do any fun-digital app out there.  You can sneak it in between the other stuff.  They’ll read it more than once.  Guaranteed!

Did Video Kill …

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Posted by on January 24, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The Best Short eBook Online

Jack's Monster

 An Excerpt from Jack’s Monster

The drag screeched and snatched him back!  His bobber was nowhere to be seen. This is when the bay water smelled stronger than ever, and the sun felt like dragons breathe on his face.  He stood, and his legs trembled as if he suddenly had a colony of angry ants in each one.  Something down there was making his drag sound like that.   Jack leaned against the side of the boat to steady his legs then turned the reel.  He used a spinning reel many times, maybe a couple of hundred.  He was really good for someone who is only eight, but now he forgot how to use it.  So, he turned the handle, but in the wrong direction, and it flung to the bottom of the boat.

This is when his arms stretched over the side, toward the water, as if they were string cheese.

It wanted his minnow.  It wanted his hook.  It wanted his line.  It wanted his bobber.  It wanted his pole.  It wanted their boat.  And– it wanted him.

The only thing Jack could do from not letting it was to yell,

“Monster!  Monster!”


Visit and download this book for only $2.50.  
And watch your son/daughter read the best short story-book they’ve ever read!

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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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My first blog post on my very own blog!  Wow! 

I’m sure this will evolve into many things.  But, for now.  I’m blogging to promote my first-published children’s ebook.  Hopefully, many more books to come in the future.  The book is called Jack’s Monster and it is a fun-engaging story (a boy and his father fishing).  I’m attempting to upload a picture of the front cover.  A great book for boys (ages 6-10) who would rather do anything than read.  This book will hook them.  No pun intended. 

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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Posted by on January 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

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