Posted by: Kathy Temean | December 15, 2019


Brttie Boswell has written a chapter book titled, SIDETRACKED, illustrated by David Shepard. She has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Bettie!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


Jeremiah has been using his horses to pull train cars down the rails of the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad. The day finally comes when the long anticipated steam engine arrives to replace his horses. His carelessness recently crippled his father and they need the income to survive. Desperate for a job, he asks the stationmaster if he can stay on and join his friend Daniel, running the new steam engine. Together, they enjoy feeding wood into the engine and rumbling down the rails. Everything is on track. Then disaster strikes. Will Jeremiah be able to save his job from a major train wreck?


The train ride to my debut children’s book, Sidetracked began about a year ago. Or, was that 20 years ago. Hmmm….

Well, a year ago I finally got a chance to begin my dream of writing and having a book published for children. I am a member of the 12×12 writing community and noticed a post by Miranda Paul. She mentioned an opportunity to write fiction for leveled readers with Teacher Created Materials. Many of us sent in our writing samples and resumes. A few of us received notices of  acceptance last December. I became a part of a small, but supportive group of friends, who started encouraging each other about our assignments. The first step in the process involved learning company expectations and completing an interest survey.

After that, they gave us broad themes to work with and the freedom to develop our own story. My assignment involved finding something historical, which involved early technology. That is where the twenty years plays a part in this trek.

Twenty years ago, I did extensive research on the historic Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad for a community musical I co-authored. When Teacher Created Materials mentioned early technology, my ideas started chugging down that track. I had a whole folder, make that box, filled with early steam engine research. Not to mention, a musical where the train played a vital role. (Hey, I’m a teacher. I save things.) I also have a daily reminder, when modern engines chug by my classroom window on the same bed the original Erie and Kalamazoo traveled. I pulled out my ancient pile of data and started laying down the ties to track my story. I even found an old copy of an advertising poster I illustrated for the musical in my collection of stuff, and displayed it as inspiration.

Sidetracked took shape as it traveled back and forth between my great editor Melissa and this debut author. I appreciated her patient manner as I learned about the process of creating a piece for the educational market. We worked together as the manuscript made the journey from the Ohio to California and back many times. In addition to writing an interesting story, I had to keep the assigned reading level in mind. Sidetracked is a leveled reader for students who read at a 5.9 grade level. Every page had to contain exact vocabulary and sentence structure for this to happen. I learned how to use the level indicator in Word (found under spelling and grammar check…you can mark extra boxes there to get the function) and learned about resources on the internet that will evaluate passages for Lexile levels (teachers can get unlimited use of the Lexile site, others may have limited use.)

I have to take a sidetrack here. I tried to pitch a novel to an editor about six years ago and discovered I was totally clueless. I pouted for a couple of months and then got back on board the writing express. Since then I immersed myself in workshops from Highlights Foundation,
SCBWI, Children’s Book Academy, Lyrical Language Lab, many books, and on-line resources. I’m involved with several groups on-line. I am active in a local SCBWI critique group that meets every other month and have frequent one on ones with my critique partner, Ann Cavera. All
these great resources have kept me on track. Having a great team is vital to becoming an author. My character Jeremiah relied on his team of horses to pull him through some disasters in life and I rely on my peers to help me when I get off track.

One of the unique things about educational writing seems to be the ability to have some input into illustration notes. Teacher Created Materials gave me the opportunity to make suggestions about possible illustrations for this project. I went all out and actually made a dummy of rough sketches for my suggestions. (Compare the opening page above to the one below. By the way, the text changed since that dummy so you aren’t seeing the exact story.) I never met the illustrator but I like the way he portrayed Jeremiah, his horses, and the iron horse steam engine that became part of the boy’s life. For any historical buffs who know about the tipsy double-decked gondolier car, try not to have a train wreck, but I do genuinely love ALL the illustrations. As I look at the cover of my book, I can’t help but notice that the young fisherman on my musical’s poster bears a certain resemblance to the illustrator’s rendition of Jeremiah. Thank you, David Shephard!


Bettie enjoys writing for readers of all ages. My genres span picture books, poetry, early readers, chapter books, middle grade, musicals, plays, short stories and devotional pieces. Her inspiration comes from being both an elementary classroom teacher, music teacher and composer of songs.

Bettie has written curriculum inspired musicals for her children at school. Some of these self published works include: Wings-The Wright Family of Flight, The Buds and the Bees, Zimmerman School-A day at a one room schoolhouse, Rendezvous at Rattlesnake Corner, The Rock Musical-Rocks and Minerals, and Ohio’s Recordered History.

She has also written short Christian musicals with limited vocal ranges for my small church choir. Some of the Biblical topics covered in these works have been Jeremiah, Esther, Noah, The Soldiers at the Cross, and Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

She’s been part of teams that have written, composed and produced two community theater musicals: Just Around the Bend (an Underground Railroad tale from 1837) and The Road to Bowling Green (a history of Bowling Green, Ohio.)

Plus, Bettie has published magazine articles in The Christian Standard, The Orff Echo (music,) and The Triad (music.) In 2017 she contributed artwork and lesson plans to a resource book for music teachers published by Alfred called “Kaleidoscope.” In the fall of 2018 she had a short story and cover art published in “An Ohio Anthology of Short Stories: From the Lake to the River.” Bettie is proud of her new chapter book with Teacher Created Materials called, “Sidetracked.”


I guess my future was all too predictable, as the only teachers I could look squarely in the eye at school were of the Art and English variety, Oh! and Biology but that’s because you got to draw cow’s hearts, frog’s giblets and stuff.

I started illustrating in the 1980’s when it was hard to keep either your sleeves or your hair out of your work. Since then I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked for, I’ve lost count of how many, design and advertising agencies, as well as producing book jackets for numerous publishers. This has all been washed down with a gloriously giddy cocktail of magazine and newspaper titles, educational illustration and web imagery. I ran and worked in lovely mucky, paint splattered studios, full of art whiffs, spray, turps, paint, charcoal and, well, grubby artists. Now, when I think about it, I also can’t believe how many wonderful artists, art directors and designers I met over that time.

In around 2000 (I can’t bring myself to say early noughties) Wow! I went digital. Up until this moment I had painted most everything, which I loved. It has to be said, the learning curve was about as much fun as hitting yourself in the face with the sole of a golf shoe. But once I got going, well, a whole world opened up. Not only could I draw characters but I could animate them, make 3D models of them, have them talk, run, skip, BLOW THEM UP! So I joined a design agency for several thoroughly enjoyable years doing exactly that. This was far cry from what I was used to. Suddenly it was all clean chrome and the gentle hum of Macs, the only smell; coffee and whiteboard markers. This was the first time as a creative I had worked as a team and it was incredibly inspiring. It also gave me a significant insight into employing creatives and how to forge really strong and successful working relationships with both clients and artists. I suddenly knew what it was to be on the other end of the phone, what people actually wanted from me!

Curiously, over the years, I found myself more and more drawn to working on imagery for young children and teenagers. This, no doubt, has a lot to do with having children of my own, but also has a lot to do with rediscovering that sitting in a tree house, sucking your thumb and playing with Lego is pretty hard to beat. Yep! Latent regression. Never fight it.So I left the agency world and threw myself a world of children’s illustration which in turn has led me to the door of Vicki and her team at Bright and a new and really exciting chapter.These days I work from home in Sussex with my wife, son and cat Dillweed. I’m stuffed in my attic studio, away from the public gaze but with a cracking view of the Norman castle next door and a plate of biscuits in arms reach. I have a clean chrome section and a right royal bomb site of acrylics, watercolours and ink at the other end.

Just about right.

You can visit David at: David is represented by the Bright Agency. Here’s the link.

Bettie, thank you for sharing your chapter book and you journey with it. I sounds like a great educational book with lots of history and adventure. Good luck with it.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Congratulations on your chapter book, Bettie! I taught history for many years, and included literature in my lessons. This would have been a wonderful book to share with my students. Your writing journey is fascinating. Like you, I have kept the lessons I created. I have thrown nothing away!

    Kathy, I receive your blog every day.


    • Thank you!


  2. Wow, that’s pretty neat! I loved reading about your journey and writing after you jumped at a unique opportunity to write. Congratulations and best wishes! Will share on Twitter and I follow by email, Kathy. 🙂


    • It was a fun journey!

      Liked by 1 person

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