Guest Author Interview – Essence and Schertevear Watkins

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Title: Never Too Young To Dance

Authors: Schertevear Watkins and Essence Watkins

Genre: Children/Blooming Readers Reading Paragraphs

Synopsis: Everyone in Pointer Ridge loved to dance. Xena, was no different. But every time she asked someone if she could join in with their dancing, they’d shew her off and say that she’s too young. Will Xena ever find the perfect dance crew that’s just right? See how a little hope and determination makes things happen in,   “Never Too Young To Dance.”

 

CH: Today’s Guest Authors are Schertevear Q. Watkins and her 8 year-old daughter, Essence T. M. Watkins. They are planting seeds of  character, wisdom, unity and love. Welcome to my blog, Essence and Schertevear.

 

 

 

 

 

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

SQW/EW: Our book, Never Too Young To Dance, overall shows children that though there may be obstacles or a lack of support in reaching their dreams, you should never give up, because dreams do happen.

CH: What inspired you to write this charming children’s book?

SQW/EW: We wanted children to realize that they have to work at the things they want. Everything doesn’t always come easy, or on the first go around. They need to know that there is always a place for them everywhere, regardless of what others may feel they are capable of or where they should be.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?

SQW: I own my own Publishing Company, Baobab Publishing. Also, the first book that featured these same characters, I illustrated myself. On this go around, another illustrator just matched my characters.

CH: Can you tell my audience a little about the age group who is reading this book?

SQW: This book is actually an early reader, where the target age range is 4-6, or those that are now reading simple paragraphs.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for children?

SQW: My love for children, their wonderful stories and the need for diversity, unity and inclusion in early childhood literature.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your storytelling writing style?

SQW: My writing style is realistic multicultural fiction, for the most part. This means I use human characters with regular situations and challenges that all children face and can relate to. As a teacher, mother and former resource parent, I think, I know children well. This makes it easy for me to write from their point of view.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

SQW: As an adult, I am able to see and explain the story from all perspectives. But again, by working with children, I’m able to relay my overall message from a child’s point of view, still allowing for the problem to be solved and lessons learned in the end.

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

SQW: To me, it comes very easily. Often, I have so many ideas running through my mind that I have to suppress them because they become so numerous.

CH: Do you write books for different age levels of children?

SQW: Yes, Ages 3-10, but mostly ages 6-9.

CH: Is it hard to write a story on a child’s level?

SQW: No, not at all, only because of my background.

CH: Where do you come up with ideas for children’s story?

SQW: Some ideas come to me, and the words will just flow from my thoughts. I can write a 1,500 word book anywhere from 15 minutes to 3-4 days. Chapter books can take a week to 3 weeks to get the story down properly.

CH: What was the book you loved as a child?

SQW: I loved the Box Car Children Series and Charlotte’s Web. All of the Little Golden Books and Goosebumps.

CH: What are your favorite children’s books?

SQW: The Little Engine That Could, The First Doll and Hansel and Gretel.

CH: What kind of feedback have you received?

SQW: From anyone who has read and commented on my books, they have all given excellent feedback.

CH: Is this the first book that you and Essence have written together?

SQW/EW: No, we’ve written several books together.

CH: What can we expect next, is there another book in the making soon?

SQW: There are several brands that Author Schertevear Watkins writes under and they all have numerous series or books within them. This would include the following brands: Characters Like Me, Blooming Readers, Fairytale Endings, Color My World and more to come.

CH: How to Find Schertevear Watkins:

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

SQW: Amazon.com and soon, our website store will be ready. We also go to schools and organizations, who are looking for fundraising or book fair products.

CH: Any closing remarks?

SQW: I’d just like to say that, reading is the key to knowledge and the road to freedom. There’s not much that you can achieve without reading. Every child should own books. Each child should have at least 5 books, on their grade level. Also, any child who reads a book from myself or any other author under the Baobab Publishing umbrella, will receive a character building experience.  We are devoted to creating quality literature that stimulates the imagination, as well as, builds self-esteem, character, and encourages faith and unity.  Cheryl, thanks for the interview.

CH: Thank you so much, Essence and Schertevear Watkins, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet, Schertevear Watkins; and Cheryl Holloway..

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Terry Nicholetti

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Title: NoraLee’s Adventures on Planet Ifwee

Genre: Children/Multigenerational

Synopsis: NoraLee Johnson is a little girl, eight years old, who does not like doing her chores – and misses her grandparents. She gets invited by an interplanetary visitor, Loofi Mondel, who is nine, to take a voyage to Planet Ifwee , where the motto is, “If we care, it’s magic.”

NoraLee meets residents like Robinia Clarinda Gazaundry who helps her dad with the family laundry and Mather and Dunobi Schroom, who tell why they’re cleaning their room.

From her new friends, NoraLee learns to do something because she cares, give herself gold stars because she feels so proud, and tell her grandparents so they can be proud too. She learns how to strengthen her resilience, her self-esteem and her connection with loved ones by using GoldStar Magic!

The last page of the book is a series of questions for families to discuss how to make their own GoldStar Magic.

Includes a link to a Free download of the fun, energetic and very musical Ifwee Song.

Terry Nicholetti, Author

CH: Today’s Guest is the multi-talented Terry Nicholetti. Terry has connected with her creative source energy and writes entertaining children’s books. Welcome to my blog, Terry.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

TN: NoraLee’s Adventures on Planet Ifwee is a delightfully illustrated  rhyming book  encouraging children 4-8 years (and their families) to view doing chores as acts of caring and togetherness.

CH: How did you come up with the premise for this delightful children’s book? 

TN: Thanks for the “delightful!” I used to really hate doing the chores of daily life, like paying bills and doing laundry. I explored with my therapist the idea of doing tasks because I cared about myself and my life. The first month that I paid all my bills on time, in 1999, my therapist said, “Good job, Terry. Give yourself a gold star!” What a concept! I wanted to share this idea with my three young granddaughters, whom I missed dearly after moving to DC.

CH: What inspired you to write this charming children’s book?

TN: Using plain heavy paper, I developed the Two-Way Postal Cards, so my granddaughters could share what they had done that they were proud of, give themselves gold stars and write to Nana, so I could be proud too. I called this process “GoldStar Magic!” Then, at the urging of friends, I decided to market the Two-way Postal Cards, and, with the inspiration of Annie Campbell’s delightful artwork, I wrote and self-published NoraLee’s story as an entertaining way to explain GoldStar Magic!

CH: This book helps children to understand the importance of cleaning up and putting their things away. How did you decide to use the interplanetary visitor to help explain the real-life chores?

TN: The character of NoraLee came first. I had no idea how to write a children’s book, so I did what I always do when I want inspiration.  I wrote ‘how do I write this children’s book’ on a piece of paper and put it under my pillow one night. Then, I woke up the next morning with the first two lines: NoraLee Jones was chlimbing her tree when she heard Mama calling, ‘Come here, NoraLee.’ NoraLee Jones was a delightful little girl that my sister had taught many years ago in Special Ed classes. Then, I changed her last name to Johnson, because it sounds better.

CH: Is this book a re-release? If so, why did you decide to release it again? Did you add anything new?

TN: We just released the Kindle version of the book, the book was first published in 2001. We improved the cover to reflect some things I learned in a course about publishing children’s books. We also changed the font inside to be more appropriate for kids.

CH: How did you find an illustrator? 

TN: Annie Campbell is a dear friend whose work I had long admired. I took out a home equity loan for the whole project because there was no publishing on demand for a kid’s book back then. She gave me a very good price, but it was still thousands of dollars. I’ll have to do the next books in the series differently. Annie no longer does illustrations and I’m going to look for an illustrator on Fiverr whose style is similar to hers.

CH: Could you tell us a little about the author/illustrator working relationship?

TN: It was glorious. I had the ideas but Annie gave them form and shape and color. She developed NoraLee and Loofi for me, before I even had the whole story just by my telling her how they appeared to me. We worked page by page through the text and then Annie did her thing.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style for children?

TN: I’ve been enjoying the reviews on Amazon. I guess, I took my rhyming talent and skills for granted. I loved the feedback, especially that it’s funny! Also, I love teaching through NoraLee’s discoveries, rather than giving some kind of lecture.

CH: Can you tell my audience a little about reading your book to small children?

TN: One thing I love to do is to read the second line of a rhyming couplet leaving off the last word and encouraging the children to call out the word— they get excited when they get it right, which is almost always!

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?  

TN: I’m not quite sure, but I do want to write for children without talking down to them.

CH: What was the book you loved as a child?   

TN: Blue Willow, about the experiences of Janey Larkin, the ten-year-old daughter of a migrant farm worker in the 1930s by Doris Gates. We lived in Hawaii, at the time, and I wanted to write a book, Green Palm Tree. I didn’t, but I’m catching up now!

CH: Where do you come up with ideas for children’s story? 

TN: I’ve always been someone who, once I’ve learned a life lesson, I want to share it with others. NoraLee’s stories give me an outlet for that.

CH: This book also includes a download of songs for children. How did you decide to add songs to the book?

TN: When I was writing NoraLee’s story of her journey to Planet Ifwee, I knew that, along with Annie Campbell’s gorgeous illustrations, I wanted a song that would capture the essence of Planet Ifwee’s motto, ‘If we care, it’s magic!’

So I turned to dear friend and brilliant children’s song writer, Jan Nigro, co-founder with his wife Janice of the Vitamin L Project. Since 1989, with Janice taking exquisite care of the business end as Project Director, Jan has been writing, producing and performing (with the Vitamin L Children’s chorus) award-winning character development songs that are uplifting and inspiring, as well as, musical and fun.

Jan took NoraLee’s story, set it to a dance-inspiring tune, and put together a delightful ensemble of singers to tell that story in character. He even enticed retired jazz singer, Peggy Haine, to give voice to Grandmother Graylea Thrishes. The result was a masterfully produced recording that has delighted children of all ages. A link to the recording is included in the Kindle edition of NoraLee’s story, and I offer it to you now as my gift to you and yours. You are welcome to download and share. (Right click on the play arrow, while you’re listening.)  http://goldstarmagic.com/ifweesong

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from children readers and their parents for this book?  

TN: I’m a little overwhelmed with the generosity and enthusiasm of the 38 reviews on Amazon.com. Readers love the ideas, as well as, the fun rhymes and delightful illustrations, and that makes me very happy.

CH: What is your next writing project?

TN: Finishing the content for my revised website, introducing my new product line and e-book, Encouraging YOU!, and at the same time, writing NoraLee’s Adventure Book 2 with my sister, a brilliant phychotherapist, who will add much richness to the project.

CH: Can you tell my audience where this book is sold?

TN: On Amazon you can choose from among two versions: kindle, and paperback with the Family Pen-Pal kit.

CH: How to find Terry Nicholetti:

CH: Any closing remarks? 

TN: Cheryl, thanks for this opportunity to connect with you and your listeners. I hope NorLee’s story will make a difference in the lives of many children and families in an entertaining way. Blessings!

CH: Thank you so much, Terry Nicholetti, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Terry Nicholetti.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Fiona Ingram

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Title: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

Genre: Children

Synopsis: In this exciting Middle Grade adventure set in Egypt, a 5000-year-old mystery comes to life. A scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realize they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out!

fiona-ingram

Allyson R. Abbott, Author

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CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

FI: A thrilling adventure for two young cousins, whose family trip to Egypt turns into a dangerous quest to uncover an ancient secret.

CH: What inspired you to write this educational children’s book?

FI: Interestingly enough, I went to Egypt with my mom and my two young nephews (aged 10 and 12 at the time). We had the most incredible and fascinating time, and when we got back home, I thought I’d write a short story for the boys, with them as the heroes, as a different kind of memento. The short story turned into a multi award-wining book; the book turned into a 7-adventure book series!

CH: How did you find an illustrator?

FI: I found someone to design my book website and happened to mention I was looking for someone to do some maps and inside illustrations. He said, “My sister can draw.” He then pointed to the most amazing poster of Clint Eastwood as the outlaw Josey Wales. It was hanging on the wall in his office. I said, “Can you give me her number?” The rest is history.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

FI: As an adult writer, one is able to do the research required and structure a children’s story well. However, I think it is very important to remember how one felt at the age group one is writing for. I remember the magical Middle Grade years very, very well. That sense of adventure, jumping into anything exciting because who knew where it would end up. I hope I have conveyed that in my adventures when Adam and Justin hurtle headlong into an exciting quest.

CH: What do you find is the hardest part of writing for children?

FI: I don’t have any hard parts in writing for children. I just love the action and adventure so much, the sense of uncovering amazing mysteries and solving puzzles. I think, I am fortunate in just really enjoying myself writing in this genre.

CH: Adults and children like this book. Do you write books for different age levels of children or just the young at heart?

FI: I have stuck with Middle Grade because that is where my heart is and I think, it’s the same for so many adult readers, the ones who are young at heart and still have memories of wanting to save the world.

CH: This book has a little bit of everything—history, geography, action, adventure—for the older child. What inspired you to begin writing for children?

FI: As a child, I had three younger brothers and in those days all the technological gadgetry kids now have to entertain them was just a twinkle in some inventors’ eyes. We had to entertain ourselves. I started writing stories for my brothers and their friends, and then we’d act out the tales (always dangerous and involving near death, close shaves and usually a few monsters) for my very long suffering and patient parents—they were a very supportive and enthusiastic audience.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

FI: My beloved mother, my greatest fan and the mainstay of my career, has a character based on her. Mom has passed away now, but her spirit lives on in Gran, the young heroes’ grandmother, who manages to enlist the aid of the Egyptian army to save her daughter and her grandsons from the clutches of the evil Dr. Khalid. Gran has some memorable and hilarious lines and kind of gets away with things, because she is so quirky and charming.

CH: Can you tell us a little about some of the other characters in the book?

FI: The young cousins, Adam and Justin, are based almost entirely on my nephews and some of the lines of dialogue come straight from them. Their enthusiasm and excitement at being in Egypt rubbed off on me and really inspired me. Several other characters are based on people we met on our trip: Laila, our tour guide; Rita and her mum, Elsie; the brigadier and his bossy wife …the list goes on. Dr. Khalid is quite an uber-baddy, but one whose character changes over the book series. In fact, he surprises me and I’m the writer!

CH: This book was written a few years ago, but has stood the test of time. What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book?

FI: This book never seems to date itself. People are fascinated with Egypt, for a start, and it’s on just about every school syllabus, as a great ancient civilization to be studied, so I hope it never becomes dated. I get lots of feedback from kids, who write me the most hilarious letters, and pick up on some interesting angles. Adults just love being taken back to when they could have maybe saved the world…

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style?

FI: I think, I am able to reach kids through my young characters and their adventures and the exciting discoveries they make, and I reach adults because there is always a bit of sly humor that parents will appreciate, or as a scene plays out and parents can have a good laugh, as well. Somehow, I am also able to incorporate facts seamlessly, so kids learn while enjoying the adventure.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing?

FI: From the telling of the stories to my brothers and their pals, to writing these into plays for my parents to watch, I think that’s when the writing bug bit me. I went to university and travelled overseas a lot, but only later, did I start to write for fun, and the trip to Egypt was definitely the jump start for my writing career.

CH: Which writer do you admire most and why?

FI: There’s quite a long list, but I could say that the late Terry Pratchett is my favourite writer. His Discworld books are quirky, full of dry wit and fun; and he reaches all levels of readers. He takes risks, he says a lot of what we all think deep down inside about life, he has a wonderful way of expressing philosophical ideas quite simply, and I often reread his books to have a good laugh.

CH: What’s next for you as an author? Can we expect another children’s book?

FI: Absolutely! Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is available already. Young heroes Adam and Justin are joined on their quest for King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, by a young African girl and she shakes things up a lot. They are a bit annoyed that she has such good ideas. Book 3: The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper is nearly ready for publication and in it the quest takes the trio to the jungles of Mexico, where they encounter an uncontacted tribe. Very exciting!

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

FI: Please visit www.chroniclesofthestone.com for loads of information about the books, plus a free read of the first chapter in each book, so far. There is also a lovely free Young Readers’ Companion Guide to download for kids to learn more about the history, geography, and mythology surrounding each book.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

FI: Amazon and all book sites. You can find them under my author name or the book titles.

CH: How to find Fiona Ingram:

CH: Any closing remarks?

FI: I will shortly be releasing a great free eBook for parents, teachers and librarians on getting kids to love reading, so keep an eye out for it. Thanks, Cheryl, for this opportunity.

CH: Thank you so much, Fiona Ingram, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Fiona Ingram.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Shameen Anthanio-Williams

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Title: Tulsa Girl

Genre: Children/Biography/Multicultural

Synopsis: Tulsa Girl is a story about a six year-old girl who witnessed the events of the historic Tulsa Massacre of 1921 (commonly referred to as the Tulsa Riots of 1921). Olivia loved to learn but scenes from the massacre made her afraid to go to school. However, after realizing her own strength, Olivia overcame her fear and started attending school again.

This story is written to inspire children to rise above their circumstances; to encourage a victorious response in the face of disappointment and to shine on regardless. This story is based on true accounts of the Tulsa event as shared by Dr. Olivia J. Hooker. Dr. Hooker is a living legend; a United States Coast Guard trailblazer, a pioneering psychologist and a civil rights activist, who celebrated her centennial on February 12, 2015. She has received numerous military and civic recognitions for her personal testimony of the Tulsa Massacre and for her lifelong professional and humanitarian accomplishments.

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Shameen Anthanio-Williams, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Shameen Anthanio-Williams. She is a career officer in the U. S. Coast Guard and she writes unsung stories for children. Welcome to my blog, Shameen.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less? 

SAW: Tulsa Girl is about a young girl forced to endure the 1921 Tulsa Riot tragedy, so as to persist in Jim Crow America.

CH: What inspired you to write this educational and historical children’s book? 

SAW: Dr. Olivia J. Hooker was the inspiration.  Dr. Hooker is young Olivia in the story and this story is based on her personal accounts of the historic Tulsa Riot.  Remarkably, Dr. Hooker went on to become the first African-American Woman to join the US Coast Guard during WWII.  She is also a pioneering psychologist and civil rights activist.  She is a living legend at 101 years young.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?  

SAW: I actually found him on an online work for hire website.   Mr. Sergio Drumond was absolutely excellent to work with.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how? 

SAW: Yes, I think so.  If a six-year old child was asked to watch similar stories of devastation and horror on TV and retell the story in his/her own words, I think it would be difficult for that child to comprehend such a tragedy.  This is likely the reason why many parents and teachers choose to ‘protect’ their children from the violent and detestable aspects of American History…not only is it too painful to explain, but it’s too scary for the child-learner.   However, as an adult writer, I can spin it in a way that provides an easy-to-digest/discuss history lesson for kids while ensuring the theme remains positive and encouraging.  It’s a careful dance.

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

SAW: The most difficult part is writing for the 6-11 year-old age group.  There are picture book readers, beginner readers and chapter book readers, all in that group!  I want my material to capture all of them, which means the pictures need to tell the story, while the words and/or story need to have just enough sophistication to capture the interest s of the more advanced reader.

CH: This story is based on true accounts of the Tulsa event as shared by Dr. Olivia J. Hooker, a Living Legend. Was it hard to incorporate the actual events into a children’s story?  

SAW: The hardest part was incorporating ‘the win’ or the victory (or what we learn in school as the resolution to the plot) in less than 23 written pages (total pages with illustrations is 55).  While the facts are all embedded in the story, in reality, it took quite some time for Dr. Hooker to overcome the trauma experienced during the deadly massacre.  However, for the purpose of the children’s book, I chose to fast-forward the resolution.

CH: Did you find anything challenging while writing this book? 

SAW: Aside from my previous answer, the only other challenge was to find an illustrator to bring the story to life.  I think Sergio did a great job with that.

CH: As far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest achievement in writing historical books? And children’s books? 

SAW: This is my second book with more on the horizon.  My greatest achievement, so far, is the smile I receive from children who really enjoy the stories…who are inspired to be their best.  When I get to fellowship with the ones who never got that message before and I see their eyes brighten up and their minds fill up with dreams at the instant; I instruct them to stand, speak in a clear voice and share with the world, who they are and what they WILL achieve in life….this is success to me.

CH: Is there a message in your book that you want the readers to grasp? 

SAW: Yes.  You will find a common theme with my children stories and this is the idea that no matter what obstacles befall us, no matter how ‘difficult’ a thing is, we are more than conquerors.   We are made to overcome anything!  I want all children to read my stories and walk away feeling victorious with the truth that they have a God-given purpose in life.  When this kind of belief in ones’ self is nurtured early in life, a kid will grow up with a mindset to thrive and win, as well as appreciate not just their own life, but the lives of those around him.

CH: Is writing hard for you, or does it come naturally?   

SAW: Writing for me is the easiest most enjoyable skill I have.  I think ‘love’ is the only thing that comes in first place, before writing.

CH: What has been the best compliment you’ve received about your historical writing? 

SAW: I am humbled to say that I have received a lot of wonderful responses.  Dr. Hooker wrote me a nice letter back in 2014 and it read (excerpted): Your beautiful inspiring story of Admiral Brown (is) impressive and you have shown how to inspire young readers without fear of failure.  This compliment is well received b/k this is my ultimate aim; to inspire children above and beyond their circumstances…to do more, to believe there is a God-given fantastic reason for their life here on Earth.

CH: Who are some of your writing influences? 

SAW: My mother Sharon Anthanio was my first influence.  Also, Ntozake Shange, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni…all the greats J I write children’s books, but these authors influenced my writing at a very early age.

CH: Last, but not least, why do you write historical books? 

SAW: I want to bring to life the stories of our unsung heroes.  We know about  the amazing work of Dr. King, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas…but what about the thousands of unsung trailblazers, who paved the way for mankind?  Our children…all children need to realize that they are all heroes in the making.  Sung or not, famous or not, they need to know that they can make a difference.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold? 

SAW: Tulsa Girl can be found on Amazon and my website.  It will be available through other distribution outlets soon.  Little Erroll, the story of the First African American Coast Guard Admiral, can also be found online and at various Coast Guard Exchange outlets nationwide.

CH: How to find Shameen Anthanio-Williams:

CH: Any closing remarks? 

SAW: My prayer is that the book teaches and inspires.  I hope that your followers enjoyed the interview and will consider purchasing a copy for their families.  It is a great story for discussion between parent and child, as we enter the most tumultuous presidential election in the history of American politics, since Lincoln.  Our kids are watching the news.  Our kids are watching our reactions in person and on social media.  This book will help the young reader learn about our history from the perspective of race and why the upcoming election is so critical to our future.

Cheryl, I appreciate this opportunity to share my book with your followers.  God bless and keep you shipmate!

CH: Thank you so much, Shameen Anthanio-Williams, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Shameen Anthanio-Williams.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Margot Finke

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Title: The Revenge of Thelma Hill

Genre: Children/Spine-chilling Horror

Synopsis: When Frannie’s dad transferred to Oregon, all she worried about was going to a new school, and why she and her twin, Jeff, weren’t close. Frannie also dreamed about her missing Mom, and why she had never returned. Ghosts, a long ago murder, and helping to trap a killer was not on her “worry” list. Yet, a late night visit from a scary apparition, trailing long gray veils and begging for Frannie’s help, changed everything. Twin Jeff and her dad thought ghosts were rubbish. So, Frannie and the ghost, who was amazingly kind and friendly, put their heads together and planned revenge. A chilling encounter in the basement, and the appearance of the ghost’s familiar, an arachnid of gargantuan size, persuaded Jeff to help them trap Thelma Hill’s killer. The panicked and treacherous killer pays a midnight visit. After the hoo-hah dies down, Dad meets a reporter he can’t say no to, and Thelma Hill returns with news of Frannie’s mom.

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Margot Finke, Author

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International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Margot Finke. She is an Aussie transplant who writes mid-grade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. Welcome to my blog Margot. Margot is here with an early Halloween Treat!

CH: Can you sum up your book for us?

MF: A recipe for The Revenge of Thelma Hill-a ghost mystery: Combine twins, an old house, a desperate ghost, plus a crafty killer and a scary basement. Mix with missing Mom. Stir well.

CH: What inspired you to write this Halloween children’s book?

MF: It is based on a story told to me many years ago in Australia. Once I began, the plot simply unfolded with a mind of its own. As I wrote on, the character of the ghost became more and more familiar. What the heck?  Then it hit me—I was channeling my dear departed mom. Mom had flawlessly taken over the ghost’s interaction with Frannie. Yet, when I thought about this, it made complete sense. And I knew Mom would be thrilled at being a main character in one of my books. So, I went with it, even naming the finished book after her. Thelma Hill was Mom’s maiden name. The Revenge of Thelma Hill—it made perfect sense!

CH: How did you find an illustrator?

MF: Aha, that was easy. Agy Wilson was a friend of mine. I knew her work. We shared cover ideas, and then I went ahead with her as the cover artist.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

MF: It is not a matter of being an adult. It is a matter of the mindset. Children’s writers are usually kids at heart. We never grow up!  My husband used to tell friends, “Our three kids have more chance of growing up than Margot has.” You have to “Think Kid!”

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for older children?

MF: Writing for older children is no problem for me. I usually find the best story ideas late at night, the moment my head hits the pillow. I tip-toe into the bathroom, so as not to wake my husband, close the door, and write those marvelous ideas into a notebook I keep there. Next morning, some are scrapped (Really dumb! Never work!), but others are kept for possible use. Once a great idea takes root in my brain, it is a matter of writing it down. I need to capture a fast pace, lots of action, and great characters—all are folded into the mix—like a recipe for a wonderfully tasting cake. The right amount of each ingredient, blended in at the right moment, then left to simmer alone for a while, to mature.

CH: Adults and children like this book for Halloween. Do you write books for different age levels of children or just the young at heart?

MF: I write picture books for various grade school ages and for mid-grade students. Some have Aussie themes and are in rhyme.  Others are multicultural, or about animals from the US or Australia. All are fun and educational. Where appropriate, I add Parent/Teacher guides and links to extra information. One or two, like Down Under Calling, are crossover reads.

CH: Which character was hardest to write?

MF: Jeff, Frannie’s twin brother was the hardest to write—at least at the beginning. Later, as the story began to fall into place and flow well, Jeff kinda joined in and stopped being a difficult twin. The ghost brought him around—quick smart! There’s nothing like being confronted by a real ghost, in a dim and creepy basement, to make you a believer.

CH: Which character was your favorite to write?

MF:Well, as you might guess, the ghost of Thelma Hill simply wrote herself. But Adolpha, the ghost’s arachnid familiar, was a lot of scary fun to write. Not a big part, but one mid-grade readers won’t forget in a hurry.

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CH: This book has a kind and friendly ghost. Can you tell us a little about some of the other characters in the book, including the ghost?

MF: Thelma is friendly toward Frannie—they bond. But she is rabid about tracking her killer and making him pay. The twin’s missing Mom is another thread that comes up often, and helps cement the growing relationship between Frannie and the ghost. Frannie and her twin, Jeff, have sibling rivalry issues. This is a minor theme throughout the story. Their dad tries to referee, but being overworked at his new bank job in Oregon, he is not too successful. The giant arachnid, Adolpha, is just plain jealous of the attention Thelma gives Frannie. And the killer feels very safe. So far, he has got away with his dastardly crime for 40 years, and he is determined not to get caught by two stupid young teens.

CH: This book was written a few years ago, but has stood the test of time. What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book?

MF: The Revenge of Thelma Hill is a page turner of a ghost mystery for any month. The emails from readers tell me that they got goosebumps, and they read it more than once. It is a favorite for me to read when I do Skype Author Visits in classrooms. But for lovers of scary Halloween stories, it is the perfect Halloween-ish read—either in Kindle or paper. NOTE: Best read in a dark closet with trusted friends. Check for spiders (arachnids). Bring a flashlight . . . just in case!

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your writing style for young children?

MF: My son was a reluctant reader, so I was determined to write books that boys especially would love. As a teacher’s aide, I discovered kids WOULD read if the book is fun, exciting, fast paced, and with lots of action. Kid readers want to root for, and identify with, your main characters. I set out to do just that. The right books will HOOK kids on reading. It also helps if parents read to their children daily, and also have their child read to them or younger siblings.

My many Skype Author Visits to schools allows kids to meet a real life author, ask questions, and get to know what it takes to write a book—from the birth of a cool idea, to the story they read on paper or on Kindle. It puts books and those who write them on a really personal level.

CH: Is there a message in your book that you want the readers to grasp?

MF: Family, and pulling together to overcome all odds is my main theme. That sibling rivalry can be overcome, and keeping promises cements friendships.

CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

MF: Alice in WonderlandThe Lovely Bones, and Holes are three of my favorite books. Lewis Carroll, Alice Sebold, Lewis Carroll, and Louis Sachar are three authors who know how to make a fantasy scenario achingly real. They showed me how much to add and how much to cut—without spoiling the story. A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini, are two of the most enthralling books I have ever read. Hosseini’s evocative descriptions take you there, and his plots make sure you never leave. I also devoured a lot of Charles Dickens in my youth.

CH: What’s next for you as an author?

MF: With 16 books to promote, finding time to write becomes harder and harder. There’s also a long list of teachers who want me do Skype Author Visits in their classrooms, and bring my Magic Carpet of Books. So, while I wait for an idea to hit home late one night, I will be using Skype to visit schools globally, and HOOK Kids on Reading.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

MF: Barnes and Noble, Amazon and my website.

CH: How to find Margot Finke:

CH: Any closing remarks?

MF: I want to thank you, Cheryl, for this opportunity to chat with your readers about The Revenge of Thelma Hill and my Magic Carpet of Books, the fun I have writing them, and visiting schools via Skype.

CH: Thank you so much, Margot Finke, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book for Halloween with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience, preferably before Halloween. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Margot Finke.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Wanda Luthman

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Title: Little Birdie Grows Up

Genre: Children’s

Synopsis: Little Birdie Grows Up is a delightful rhyming picture book with charming illustrations about a little blue bird who pecks his way out of his shell and into the hearts of parents and children.

He meets his Mama and yearns to fly up in the sky. His Mama reassures him that one day he will be able to fly. His first attempt is half-flying, half-falling out of the nest. But, when he finally does learn how to fly, well, it’s time to say good-bye.

Come along on the journey of Little Birdie Grows Up.

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Wanda Luthman, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Wanda Luthman.  She shared her thoughts on writing, “The best thing about being a writer is getting to put all those thoughts and stories in my head down on paper and other people reading them and loving them.” Welcome to my blog, Wanda.

CH: Can you tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book?

WL: My book is a beautifully illustrated, sweet story about growing up that relates to every child and parent.

CH: What inspired you to write this charming children’s book?

WL: My daughter went off to college 3 years ago and I had horrible empty nest syndrome. I wrote this first as a story and then as a poem. So, I decided to make it into a book to share the journey with other parents and children.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?

WL: I found my illustrator on fiverr.com.

CH: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

WL: Actually, I was talking with a friend about my child leaving for college and how sad I felt. She recommended I write a book about a bird leaving the nest. I thought that was a good analogy.

CH: How did you decide to write a rhyming picture book?

WL: I have always loved rhyme. I think in rhyme a lot of the time (Ha!). I have written poetry throughout my life. When I first wrote this as a story, I liked it, but saw where I could make it into a rhyming poem. I did that and from there the book took shape.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your young readers through your rhyming writing?

WL: Often rhyming books are just for fun, but this one has a true message behind it of a passage that all parents and children go through.

CH: Your cover is bright and cheerful. Who designed the cover?

WL: My illustrator did the cover, as well as all the illustrations inside. His name is Bryce Westervelt.

CH: Are there any books that influenced you while writing this book?

WL: My hero is Dr. Seuss, but I’m not saying I write like him, just the fun rhyme and rhythm of it is what influenced me.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for children?

WL: I began writing when I was a child and wrote many books in Elementary School. When I wrote my first book for publication, my daughter was 5 years old. I woke up and just had the story in my head. I had to write quickly to get it all down, as it was coming. I feel like I didn’t choose to write for children, but it chose me. I think I have a little child still in me! That little child that loved to write, so many years ago.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

WL: I think so. I studied Psychology in college and worked as a Mental Health Counselor for 10 years before becoming a Guidance Counselor. I’ve worked in a High School for the past 18 years. I love children, but I also see their heartaches. I want to encourage children to be the best people they can be, despite whatever their circumstances that surround them. My books entertain, as well as reach to the inner child to encourage them to be more than their circumstances—to be independent, strong, passionate, and creative.

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

WL: Remembering to keep my words more simple. I believe that it’s ok for children not to know every word in a book because it causes them to stretch and learn. But, I do have to be sure I’m writing on their level.

CH: Do you write books for different age levels of children?

WL: Yes, I write picture books for 0-5 and beginning chapter books for 6-10 years.

CH: Is it hard to write a story on a child’s level?

WL: Not for me because I feel it’s coming from my inner child.

CH: What can we expect next, is there another children’s book in the making?

WL: Yes, there are many more books to come. The next one is a sequel about a Unicorn and a girl with a disfigured face. I hope to encourage children with disabilities through this story.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

WL: Yes, it’s available through my website or my Facebook Fan Page at www.facebook.com/wluthman, if you’d like to order a personally signed copy from me.  It’s available on Amazon in Hardcover, Paperback, Ebook, or Audiobook; or on Barnes & Noble in Hardcover and Paperback.

CH: How to find Wanda Luthman:

CH: Any closing remarks?

WL: Thank you so much for allowing me to be interviewed. I enjoyed answering the questions!

The important thing, whether you read my books or not, is to find your passion and light your corner of the world! When you light up, it spreads to the next one and the next one, until the whole world is filled up with light!

CH: Wanda, that is such a wonderful thought for everyone! Thank you so much, Wanda Luthman, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Wanda Luthman.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Charles M. Long

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Title: A Farmer’s Alphabet

Genre: Children’s

Synopsis: A Farmer’s Alphabet leads young readers on a walk through a sustainable farm from A to Z. From Apple to Zucchini and every letter in between, each letter of the alphabet is paired with the animals or plants on a sustainable farm in southern Maryland.  A Farmer’s Alphabet opens the reader’s eyes to the amazing world of sustainable farming.

Wonderfully written by Charles Long and beautifully illustrated by Christina Allen, A Farmer’s Alphabet is sure to charm and engage children of all ages, and adults too.  Charles Long is a teacher, educator, and speaker.  Christina Allen is a celebrated artist and sustainable farmer.  The book will become an instant favorite.  This is Charles and Christina’s second book collaboration.

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Charles M. Long, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is the award-winning children’s author, Charles M. Long. Charles’ advice on unfinished stories, “Pick one. Commit to it. No matter what, finish it. Then move onto the next.” Welcome to my blog, Charles.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less?

CML: A Farmer’s Alphabet teaches children about the plants and animals that live on a sustainable farm in southern Maryland.

CH: What inspired you to write about a farm?

CML: Christina Allen, my illustrator, operates a sustainable farm in St. Mary’s county, Maryland. After we had completed our first book, Momma Tree, I was meeting with her on the farm. I was struck by the diversity of life on the farm.

Note: Sustainable farming is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?

CML: I was seeking an illustrator for my first book, Momma Tree. I contacted other authors I knew and several I didn’t know. I emailed them asking for references. Several responded. None of those leads panned out. I was at Bed and Breakfast in St. Mary’s county, and I noticed Christina Allen’s book, A Micro-Chip on My Shoulder. The illustrations were amazing. I contacted her via email. After some back and forth, she agreed to illustrate Momma Tree—and became a friend!

CH: How did you come up with the idea for this delightful children’s book?

CML: I have always loved alphabet books. When I visited Christina at the farm, I was amazed at the diversity of life. The idea of an alphabet book came to me in the form of the first couplet of the book, “A is for Apple alive on the tree; B is blossom and bright, buzzing bee.” I wrote the poem over the next couple of days. I had not thought of it as a book. It was just a poem. Christina had the idea of turning it into a book.

CH: Is this the first children’s book you’ve written?

CML: No, this is my second. My first, Momma Tree, is the story of a little girl and her mother. Her mother is exercising (Yoga), and her daughter asks, “What are you doing?” Her mother is in a tree pose and answers that she is pretending to be a tree. The little girl imitates her mother and, by so doing, learns about trees and, more importantly, about the beauty of life.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for children?

CML: Children’s books have always been a big part of my life. My parents were both professors of education at Brooklyn College. In my career as a pastor, I have always served at churches with schools. I have two children myself and two grandchildren. In addition, I love reading well-written children’s books, such as  Lewis’ Narnia and The Giver by Lowry; they are among my favorites.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

CML: Being an adult has pros and cons. When readers enter into the world of a story, they live in it. They exit our world and enter the world of the story. The con of being an adult is, as an adult, I find it harder to enter the worlds created by authors for children, than when I was a child. For example, as a child, I loved The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I was completely in its world. Re-reading it as an adult, I found it less interesting. On the pro side, as an adult I have a better grasp on English, on plot, on character, and how stories work. So, the art is to be both child and adult.

CH: Do you write books in other genres?

CML: Yes! I have a young adult novel that I am currently pitching to agents. I also have an adult novel, a dark comedy that I am pitching to another set of agents.

CH: Do you write full-time or part-time?

CML: I write part-time. I am a full-time pastor of Grace Lutheran Church and School in La Plata, Maryland.

CH: If you could work with any author, living or dead, who would that be and why?

CML: The author I am most impressed with currently is David Mitchell, who wrote Cloud Atlas: A Novel. Cloud Atlas is an absolute clinic in writing. The book consists of six stories, nested and interconnected. Mitchell tells the first half of the stories one through five. He then tells story six in its entirety. The second half of the first five stories are then told in the order five, four, three, two, one. Think of it like this: 1a, 2a, 3a, 4a, 5a, 6, 5b, 4b, 3b, 2b, 1b. Each story has a completely different writing style and genre. It is completely amazing!

CH: Which writer do you admire most and why?

CML: The writer I admire most is J. R. R. Tolkien. The remarkable scope of his world-building awes me. He wrote not only epics, but created several languages, scripts, and cultures. Remarkable!

CH: Can you tell us about your publishing journey?

CML: I have a good friend who is a full-time writer, Erica Orloff (ericaorloff.com). When I wrote Momma Tree, I emailed it to her asking about self-publishing it. When I never got a response, I thought it must be dreadful! A month later, I saw her and asked her about the book. She said, “Didn’t you get me email?” Apparently not. She loved it. Eventually, I signed with her agent. This was 2008 when the economy tanked. No one was buying new authors. I gave up and worked on other projects. Eventually, I picked it up again and found my illustrator Christina. The rest is history! In 2015, Momma Tree won a Moonbeam Award.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from your readers for this book?

CML: I get feedback from their parents! My favorite is when I hear that my book is their child’s favorite. They love the message and the beauty of the book.

CH: What’s next for you as an author?

CML: I am currently pitching two books, one for high school age and one for adults. I recently moderated two panels at James River Writers Conference in Richmond, VA. I am optimistic that one of my two books will be signed by an agent this year.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

CML: At my website and Amazon.com

CH: How to find Charles M. Long:

CH: Any closing remarks?

CML: I also lead an online writers group on Sunday evenings. However, we are not currently taking new members. I love writing! Thanks, Cheryl, for the opportunity to be on your blog.

CH: Thank you so much, Charles M. Long, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Charles M. Long.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Georgette Littlejohn

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Title: A GRO-c-ERY STORY

Genre: Children’s

Synopsis: Come join Red, the Carrot Head; Harry, the string bean; and Stuffy, the potato, as they come alive at night having tons of fun throughout the grocery store.  Each day is filled with a new adventure that you don’t want to miss.  Grab your fruits and veggies along the way.  It’s so much fun, you’re sure to stay!

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Georgette Littlejohn, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Georgette Littlejohn. Georgette admitted, “I was a closet writer for years but now I’ve metamorphosed and I have wings and nothing will stop me!” Welcome to my blog, Georgette.

CH: Can you tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book?

GL: A GRO-c-ERY STORY is educational, entertaining, interactive and packed with fun-it’s a great learning tool to excite children about fruits and vegetables, which will help them learn to love them.

CH: What inspired you to write this charming children’s book?

GL: A friend.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?

GL: Thank God for talented friends.  A dear friend of mine and her daughter did the illustrations.

CH: How did you come up with the idea for this book?

GL: A dream I had about being locked in a grocery store.

CH: Can you tell my audience a little about reading your book to small children?

GL: I engage the children by giving them fruit and veggie props to help them relate to the story (something tangible).  They really enjoy the interaction and it helps them learn, as well.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for children?

GL: I love challenging myself.  I had never thought of writing a children’s book. Then I thought…why not, I’m a writer.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

GL: I don’t believe so.  I just write what I think children would like to hear.  They are as intelligent as we are nowadays.

CH: Do you write books in other genres?

GL: Absolutely, I write it all.

CH: Do you write full-time or part-time?

GL: I have a day job, if that’s what you’re asking (lol) but I write as much as I work.

CH: How important is social media to your marketing?

GL: Extremely, social media is the highway which leads in all directions to reach and capture all audiences.  Children are now walking around with phones, I-pads, Kindles, tablets, etc.  Social media is the new IT and without it—it would be difficult to exist in this saturated world of marketing.

CH: What is the hardest part of writing for you? (outline, draft, edit, write, etc.)

GL: Time…it awaits no one!

CH: Where is your favorite place to write? (Starbucks, library, office, etc.)

GL: By the water; however, unfortunately it doesn’t happen that often.  For now, I write anywhere that I can hear my thoughts.

CH: Are you a member of any writing groups or organizations?

GL: Yes, I belong to the Accokeek Women’s Writing Group

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from your readers for this book?

GL: I’ve done a couple of story times and I received awesome feedback from the children and the adults.  I’ve already had someone mention a volume 2.

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Avery Hawkins reading A GRO-c-ERY STORY.

CH: What’s next for you as an author?

GL: I’m in the process of releasing my first novel, Miracle’s Destiny.  Prayerfully, it will be released before the end of 2016.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

GL: You can purchase the book on my website or you can email the publisher at philadelphiapublishinghouse@gmail.com 

CH: How to find Georgette Littlejohn:

CH: Any closing remarks?

GL: Yes, first I want to thank you for featuring me on your blog and giving me the opportunity to let the world know about A GRO-c-ERY STORY.  I really appreciate people who help others along the way.  We all need help.  If anyone states that they made it without any help, I will divert in another direction.

I would also like to thank everyone who is supporting me by giving me great feedback, advice and comments.  I can’t make it unless I have readers who are willing to give my voice a chance.  So, I thank you all for the opportunity.

Thank God that I have finally received my wings and he is providing the air!

CH: Thank you so much, Georgette Littlejohn, for taking time out of your very busy writing schedule to join me and my blog followers.  It has been a real pleasure discussing your book with my audience.  And readers, if you’re like me and would enjoy this book.  I suggest you pick up a copy at your earliest convenience. 

Note: Photos/Clip art are compliments of the Internet and Georgette Littlejohn.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Coming Soon…New Children’s Book

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Title: A GRO-c-ERY Story

Georgette Littlejohn

Georgette Littlejohn, Author

“This heart-warming children’s tale unfolds in a grocery store…at night.”                                                                   ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Note: Photos are compliments of the Internet and Cheryl Holloway.

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On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Elissa Brent Weissman

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Title: Nerd Camp 2.0

Genre: Children

Synopsis: Gabe’s happily headed back to Nerd Camp—but can he handle a cool-kid invasion?

For Gabe, the equation for summer bliss equals six glorious weeks of rigorous learning immersion at the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment—aka, Nerd Camp. Last year was amazing, and this summer will be even better.

At least, that’s what Gabe thinks…until a new variable is introduced. Zack, Gabe’s cool stepbrother, was supposed to attend a camp nearby, but in the aftermath of a recent wildfire, Zack’s camp and nerd camp will be sharing territory. As these two very different worlds collide, can both camps—and both stepbrothers—survive the summer?

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Elissa Brent Weissman, Author

CH: Today’s Guest Author is Elissa Brent Weissman, an award-winning children’s author. Welcome to my blog, Elissa.

CH: Can you sum up your book in 20 words or less about sleepaway summer camp?

EBW: Tension and highjinks ensue when nerds and cool kids have to share the same campground—with stepbrothers Gabe and Zack on opposing sides of the battle.

CH: What inspired you to write this charming children’s book?

EBW: Nerdy Gabe and his cool stepbrother Zack earned a lot of fans when the first Nerd Camp came out in 2011. I was excited to write about another summer with Gabe and his geeky friends, and to give Zack more page time.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

EBW: My book ideas usually come from a kernel of something that happens to me or that I see or hear about. I don’t have a formula, though I’ve internalized the standard plot arc, which means I have a sense of what needs to happen emotionally as the story goes on, just as most readers do. I usually start with a character and a situation and just go from there. I often have no clue where the story will take me, and I know a book is working when my characters find themselves with problems I don’t know how to solve.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your children stories?

EBW:  I like to think that my books have a good balance of substance and kid appeal. They’re fun and funny with lots of dialogue, but they still make readers think.

CH: Since this book is a sequel to Nerd Camp, when you wrote the first book, did you realize you would write a sequel then?

EBW: Nope. I thought Nerd Camp would stand alone. I had the idea for a sequel a few years later, and fortunately my publisher agreed that the first book had sold well enough to make a sequel viable.

CH: Was it hard finding the right illustrator for your stories?

EBW: The only illustrations in the Nerd Camp books are on the cover. Nerd Camp 2.0 also has maps inside, which were created by an illustrator. Like many people who publish with large houses, I didn’t have any say in who the illustrators were, but I’m very happy with the way all of it came out. I especially like the scientific look of the cover drawings.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for children?

EBW: I’ve always loved to read, and it was books I read when I was between 8 and 12 that really got me fired up about writing. When I got to my creative writing classes in college, I’d turn in stories that I thought were for adults, and everyone in the class would say, “Kids would love this!” I might look grown up, but I guess I’m secretly still 11.

CH: Which children’s writer do you admire most and why?

EBW: Oh, there are so many, but I especially love authors who can make me laugh out loud. One of my favorites has always been Louis Sachar. His concepts are so clever, and I’m blown away by the way he manages to convey so much character, humor, and emotion with such sparse language. On a sentence level, I also swoon over J. M. Barrie. I’d argue that Peter Pan is not really written for children, but it is written so beautifully, with sentences so original. yet perfect, they take my breath away.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing for children? If so, how?

EBW: It didn’t until I had children of my own. I can still tap into what it is/was like to be 10 or 11 fairly easily, but now that I’m a mom, I feel a strange urge to make my characters behave like little angels, or to instill lessons in my books. The writer in me knows that nothing kills a good story quicker than a moral, so it takes work to keep the parent in me in check.

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

EBW: I find the business side of writing to be the most difficult. Publishing, for any audience, requires an endless amount of patience and a very thick skin. When it comes to publishing, I’ve had my fair share of rejection, frustration, envy, and heartbreak. Luckily, the positives outweigh the negatives, and I still love to write.

CH: Since you have written several children’s books, as far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest writing achievement?

EBW: I’m a big fan of NPR (National Public Radio), so it was a thrill to be interviewed nationally about my book, The Short Seller, on “Here and Now.” I was also proud to have Nerd Camp win the Cybils Award, which is chosen by kid lit bloggers. Those bloggers read everything, and they really know their stuff, so it meant a lot that they chose my book for that honor.

CH: Is there a message in your book that you want the young readers to grasp?

EBW: It’s probably the same message that pervades most books, children’s or otherwise: Be yourself.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book?

EBW: In general, it seems like kids have been happy to spend more time at Nerd Camp, and teachers and parents have been happy to see another celebration of geekiness. My favorite kind of feedback, though, is when kids tell me what they thought was the funniest part of the book. I met one kid who started laughing so hard just thinking of the funniest part that he couldn’t get the words out. That was priceless.

CH: What was your favorite book when you were a little girl?

EBW: Sixth Grade Secrets by Louis Sachar.

CH: What’s next for you as an author?

EBW: I’m editing a super cool anthology called Our Story Begins. It contains stories children’s authors wrote when they were children, plus drawings illustrators did as children. I’ve got a phenomenal lineup of contributors—25 of today’s best authors and illustrators—and their childhood work is funny and sweet and fascinating to see. Look for it summer 2017 from Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. I couldn’t be more excited.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

EBW: Yes, it is www.ebweissman.com

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

EBW: Everywhere! If it’s not in stock at your local bookstore, they can always order it, or you can buy it online. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1MRtTOU

CH: Any closing remarks?

EBW: Thanks for inviting me to your blog, and thanks for all you do to spread a love of books!

CH: You are welcome. I really enjoy spreading the word! Thank you so much, Elissa Brent Weissman, it has been a real pleasure discussing your book and your publishing journey with my audience.  

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Note: Photos are compliments of the Internet and Elissa Brent Weissman.

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Ashley Rice

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Title: Make Your Dreams Come True: A Girl’s Guide to Always Believing in Yourself

Genre: Teens/Self Esteem

Synopsis: What does achieving your dreams take? Setting goals, believing in yourself, going for it, and never giving up!

Ashley Rice

Ashley Rice, Author

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CH: Today’s Guest Author is Ashley Rice, a writer who believes that there are many opportunities out there for girls…and writes about it.  And she just happens to also be a celebrity. Welcome to my blog, Ashley.

CH: Can you tell us in one sentence, why girls should read your book?

AR: I hope that reading Make Your Dreams Come True will remind every girl that no dream is ever too far away for her to reach, as long as she believes in herself and trusts in her own ability to face the challenges around her—and also that it lets her know just how brave, talented and amazing she truly is every day.

CH: You enjoy writing about “girl power” in your books. What inspired you to begin writing for young girls?

AR: I went to an all girls’ high school where we were taught that anything was possible for us as young women living in the world—that anything was possible for any girl or woman living in the world, for that matter—and that whether you were a boy or a girl, it didn’t make a difference as far as your chances for achieving success or finding happiness went. What mattered most was what kind of a person you were and how hard you were willing to work to make your hopes and dreams realities. Sure, there would be some hurdles along the way, but we would be able to face them as long as we possessed a strength of heart, a type of courage, and if we forged on with continued practice. I wrote the books on girl power because I wanted to make sure that ALL girls and young women out there knew that.

CH: Where do your ideas come from? Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole concept?

AR: I mostly write poetry, though I do have my “narrator,” Penelope J. Miller, lead readers on a “journey” through the pages of poems in most of the girl power books. The shape of my books has to do with the emotions expressed in each poem—which dictates the order the poems appear on the pages of the books. This creates any “arc” that the books end up having. The books aren’t organized according to any conventional fictional or “story-based” format. The real story of these books is supposed to occur beyond the pages; in other words, the “story” happens when the girl who’s reading the book applies the poems to her own life experiences, takes what she can learn from them, and goes on from there. HER life and what’s going on with her is the true story. Penelope is just there to cheer the reader on and encourage her to think about her choices, and to act as a guide and as an example.

CH: What is different and exciting that you bring to your readers through your uplifting writing for girls?

AR: I try to get girls excited about all the possibilities that are out there for them today in the world that lies outside of their windows and sometimes even outside of the places where they grew up—so that they look at their own lives and discover all the opportunities that are available to them if they can just find the confidence to take advantage of them and seize those opportunities whenever they get a chance. I want them to be excited about everything they can do with their talents, interests, values, passions, and lives in general—whatever their particular talents or skills or personality-type happens to be.

CH: How much of “Penelope” is based on you or your family members?

AR: I first drew Penelope when I was in my early twenties, and when most of my drawings of characters (characters that were people, at least) tended to resemble the way my family members look, particularly when it comes to Penelope’s features and the shape of her face. As far as her personality and spirit go, I think she’s a lot like my family members in that she tries to reach her potential as much as she can, never gives up and encourages other people to do the same, because she also believes in them and all the things they can do.

CH: Which children’s writer do you admire most and why?

AR: Dr. Seuss—because the books of poems he created were imaginative, incredible and amazingly creative in every way that you could ever think of. His books took kids on an adventure through their colorful, exciting pages. Those same books contained poems that helped kids to deal with things that were going on in their lives—but they were also just fun to read. I also admire him because he was such a talented illustrator and writer at the same time. You couldn’t really pick which art he was better at—the writing or the creating of his unusual; yet universal drawings. He really was a one-of-a-kind, unique treasure. His books are unlike anything else out there. I’m really glad they’re still so popular today, even with technology drawing some young readers in a different direction—away from poetry, etc. I think he’ll always remain a mainstay in children’s literature, no matter what advances are made in technology or what other great writers come along. He’s irreplaceable!

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing for children? If so, how?

AR: The older I get the more I know about life in general, just because I’ve been through more challenging experiences that have taught me different things, but the more—at the same time—I also tend to forget important stuff when it comes to keeping in mind the most simple; yet at the same time, most relevant (and sometimes also the most inspiring) things. For example, there’s a mindset you have to get yourself into when you’re trying to write inspiring books for kids, which is sort of like the mindset of younger people—when they’re dreaming big dreams and envisioning their future lives—tend to have, and that’s the mindset that anything is possible. That nothing can stop you. I have to write with that mindset.

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

AR: My writing style has changed as I’ve gotten older and have gotten through the process of “growing up” a little bit more. I now write more material for adults, so I always have to make sure when I’m writing for kids that I remember to re-capture that sense of enthusiasm and emphasis on the uniqueness of each and every individual as being central to your sense of self and how you view life in general at that age. I have to keep my focus on those life-affirming concepts (and other concepts similar to those) when I’m writing for kids, so that I can reach that really amazing part of them.

CH: When did you realize that you were meant to be a children’s writer?

AR: Originally, the poems I wrote about things like being true to yourself, always believing in your dreams, being true to you, etc., weren’t intended to be specifically or only for kids. They were just meant to be inspiring to anyone who wanted to read them. Kids were the ones who related to them the most, though, so after the publication of my fist book, Girls Rule, which WAS aimed at a younger audience, I started consciously trying to write with a tween or teen reader in mind much more often. I still get emails or messages from twenty-something’s and occasionally even from older women who will tell me that one of the teen or tween books spoke to them or helped them out with a particular struggle they were facing or gave them some guidance or confidence to figure out an issue they were dealing with. So I guess, still, on occasion, an older person will get one of the books in their hands for one reason or another and will find themselves relating to it as well—which I think is really great!

CH: You have written several girl power books, greeting cards, calendars and gifts. Your books have even been translated into other languages. As far as accolades or achievements, what would you say has been your greatest achievement?

AR: My greatest achievement is whenever a book or even a poem on a card seems like it has made a difference in someone else’s life in some small way—particularly if it has appeared to help a person make it through a rough spot in her life or just something difficult she’s dealing with. Very young girls have sent me letters in which they were able to articulate to me the ways in which reading a specific girl power book was important to them. Getting a letter like that means a great deal to me; the girl who writes the letter, after all, and girls like her, are the reason I’m writing the books in the first place—to reach a girl like that and let her know that her dreams will get her through even the bluest days, and that, though she may face many hurdles along the way, that everyone else does, too, and she can still ultimately triumph—and do so in her very own way.

CH: You discuss setting goals. Is there a message in your book that you want the young readers to grasp?

AR: Yes: that girls (and everyone else too) can do and be anything that they want to be, and that this mindset—of having big dreams and going after them without regrets—almost always involves making more than a few mistakes along the way—and that’s okay. In fact, it’s even necessary to growing up these days. Making mistakes is how you learn from the things you’ve already tried to do or that you’ve done already, but not done as successfully as you might have liked to; then, as a result of doing that (of learning from your mistake), you get better at whatever it is you’re trying to succeed at, which allows you to take another step forward in the right direction. And you just become a more evolved individual, in general by making mistakes and then owning up to them, anyway.

CH: What kind of feedback are you getting from readers of the book?

AR: Occasionally, I’ll get a facebook message or a letter or an email from a reader who has been inspired or affected in a positive manner as a result of reading one of the books, and those types of messages tend to let me in on how that particular reader has used the book to help her out in her own life. There are amazon reviews I have glanced at occasionally in the past; the one that comes to mind right now is the story a woman who gave You Go Girl Keep Dreaming to an older girl (in her early twenties, I think) who was in recovery; the woman said that that book helped this girl to stay encouraged and to get through that difficult experience more easily. Those are the only real types of feedback I get. I’m sure there are negative reviews out there, too, I just haven’t read them. Unless someone writes directly to me, I kind of, for the most part, tune that kind of thing out.

CH: What was your favorite book when you were a little girl?

AR: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I remember it as being one of my all-time favorites—both because of the story and the illustrations. There were a lot of books I liked at that time, though, because my parents usually read to me at night before I went to bed.

CH: What’s next for you as an author?  

AR: I’m always trying to find ways to write better, as well as different ways to reach other people, who may be going through tough life experiences that they need encouragement for, or people who just need a few tips on how to deal with a challenging situation they’re currently facing. I’m trying to write more for older audiences now, along with the books I continue to create for tween/teen readers.

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

AR: It’s www.ashleyrice.net.

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

AR: Make Your Dreams Come True is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1qbwnh5

CH: Any closing remarks?

AR: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me. You asked really, really great questions! If any girls who are going through a tough time happen to be reading this interview, I want to say this to them, “Always remember to be yourself no matter what anyone else says or tells you (about how you should act or dress or who you should be as a person) and, when it comes to chasing after your goals and dreams, don’t let any setbacks or a friend or any one person you might meet along the way ever discourage you. You can do whatever you put your mind to!”

CH: That is really some great advice for just about anyone! Thank you, Ashley Rice, it has been a real pleasure discussing your book and your writing journey with my audience.  

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Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Guest Author Interview – Jonathan Ferrier

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International Author on Cheryl Holloway’s Blog

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Title: Arvor’s School Days

Genre: Children

Synopsis: Arvor is a dragon – a very nice dragon – but he has problems at school. He is bad at spelling, bad at games, bad at flying, and terrible at fire-breathing.

The teachers get cross with him, his school-friends don’t want him on their team, but…

Follow Arvor in his trials and triumphs with his friends at Caderbrith, the boarding school for dragons on a mountain in Wales.

Jonathan Ferrier

Jonathan Ferrier, Author

CH: Today’s Guest author is Jonathan Ferrier from the United Kingdom. He currently writes children’s books. Welcome to my Blog Jonathan.

CH: Can you tell us in one sentence, why we should read Arvor’s School Days, your children’s book?

JF: Arvor’s Schooldays seems to be very popular with children who are starting to read full-sized books (aged 6 – 9) and in particular it appears to be good at showing them the pleasure that you can get from reading a good story.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing charming children’s books?

JF: In Arvor’s Schooldays, I wrote the first chapter as a story for my oldest grandson when he was six, and then I wrote some more stories using the same characters, and finally I turned them into a book. Arvor’s Schooldays seems to be very popular with children who are starting to read full-sized books (aged 6 – 9) and in particular it appears to be good at showing them the pleasure that you can get from reading a good story.  That was the beginning.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?  Could you tell us a little about the author/illustrator working relationship?

JF: I went to an agency for artists, looking specifically for someone who could draw amusing pictures of animals in black and white, but who is also able to show the character and emotions of that animal.

I chose two artists, but neither of them could fit with the way that I wanted to work, which was for us to work together in selecting the passages to illustrate.

Then the agency suggested Matt, and I feel we have established an excellent working relationship. We would look through two chapters at a time deciding on the illustrations needed and within a couple of weeks Matt had done them.

Not only does he grasp the full implications of the text, but he adds charming little tweaks that I would never have thought of including. He is also the illustrator for Alpha Beasts.

CH: Can you tell us a little about your writing career?

JF: I have really only written Arvor’s Schooldays as a book for children, although I am at present publishing Alpha Beasts, an alphabet of silly animal poems, suitable for children and adults. I am also in the middle of writing two collections of short stories, one for children and one for adults. – I try them out on my grandchildren.

CH: What was the book you loved as a child?

JF: I bought the full set of Arthur Ransome’s books, starting with Swallows and Amazons at age seven and buying a new book each holiday.

CH: Since you were a General Practitioner (GP) for 25 years, what inspired you to begin writing for children?

JF: I retired early from being a GP to become a special needs teacher (Dyslexia, dyspraxia, etc.,) and assessor.  I started writing while I was doing that.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature?  

JF: No. I don’t think you could say that I write children’s literature. I am essentially childish in my thinking and have a very clear picture in my mind of everything I write about. My aim is to write a good story.

CH: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

JF: Getting myself down to writing at all. I have too many other commitments and interests. I usually have to get away from home to be able to write more than a page or two.

CH: Who are some of your writing influences?

Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Books (but not Mowgli Stories), The Short Stories of Saki, Hilaire Belloc, P. G. Wodehouse, and Roald Dahl

CH: Can you give my audience your website address?

JF: My website is www.jonathan-ferrier.co.uk

CH: Can you tell my audience where your book is sold?

JF: My website if you want a signed copy, and Amazon. Amazon Link: http://amzn.to/1TlD1cM and http://amzn.to/1kl4BKY

CH: Any closing remarks?

JF: I loved reading as a child and often had 2 or 3 books on the go at a time. If I could introduce other children to the joy of reading a good book, I would be satisfied.

CH: Thank you Jonathan Ferrier, it has been a real pleasure discussing your book and your writing journey with my audience.  

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Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!

Note: Photos are compliments of the Internet and Jonathan Ferrier.

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                              ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Interviews? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

Guest Author Interview – Vastine East

header1_An Author Writes

I Swam with an Angel

Title: I Swam with An Angel

Genre: Children’s

Synopsis: Initially from Jamaica, ten-year-old Cornell was born with a rare disease that made it impossible for him to walk. After the divorce of his parents, he was then sent to his aunt’s house, something nine-year-old Jaime thinks is a wrong idea. When Cornell first arrived to his cousin’s house, they were like water and oil. Jaime did not like the idea that he bragged to much about things he could not do, like swim or sail a boat. But when Cornell starts to get sick, will Jaime realize the real meaning of strength and how strong Cornell really is?

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Author: Vastine East

CH: Welcome to my blog Vastine East. Vastine is a children’s author with great stories for children and their parents.

CH: Please tell us in one sentence, why we should read your book.

VE: It is a powerful story that teaches diversity, humility and the power of love.

CH: What inspired you to write this book about children with special needs?

VE: While vacationing in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 2006, I witnessed a young boy in a wheelchair frantically trying to keep up with two girls that appeared to ignore his call to slow down.  The two girls continued moving at a quick pace dodging pedestrians on the narrow uneven sidewalk. I stood watching to see if the boy in the wheelchair would eventually catch up with the two girls. The boy and the two girls soon disappeared amongst the crowded people on the sidewalk. I do not know if the wheelchair bound boy ever caught up with the two girls.

For the rest of the afternoon I could not get the image of the boy in the wheelchair trying desperately to catch up with the two girls who seemed to be avoiding him out of my mind. Later that week before I left Montego Bay, to return home to Houston, the story was born. A boy in a wheelchair from a tropical island, he cannot walk, cannot run, and he wants to swim more than anything he can imagine. He leaves his island home because of his parents’ divorce. He comes to live in Houston, Texas.

CH: How did you find an illustrator?                       

VE: I chose my illustrator from a list of illustrators Xlibris my publisher presented to me.

CH: Can you tell my audience a little about reading your book to small children?

VE: I find that reading my book to small children is an extremely moving experience. The story begins with a problem between my two major characters. My audience of small children hears the anger from the antagonist; they learn the name and condition of the boy in the wheelchair. From that moment, the children sit and eagerly anticipate what is going to happen next. It is not long after the stories beginning, my little audience is at odds with the antagonist. I can since their leaning quickly to the side of Cornell the protagonist. They appear to identify favorably with Cornel as he deals with his moody and angry cousin from one episode to the next. I experience giggles, smiles, silence and compassion from my young audience from beginning to the story’s emotional ending.

CH: This story involves helping other children to deal with handicap children. Was this problem an issue in your family?

VE: No, my family never had to deal with a handicap child.

CH: What inspired you to begin writing for children?

VE: I guess my mother’s love of telling my siblings and me stories when we were young planted the seeds of storytelling in me.

CH: Does being an adult give you a different perspective on writing children’s literature? If so, how?

VE: Yes, being an adult does give me a different perspective on writing children’s literature. I naturally see the world from a different perspective, as I grow older. Unlike writing for an older audience that see and understand most things like myself, sharing thoughts and images in book form to young people forces me to find ways to give them thoughts they can digest. The miracle of words paints a different sound of things we see in the world. A child sees a yellow butterfly floating in the air. An adult see the same butterfly floating on the air. How do I convey that image to an adult and a child? To a child I might describe the flight of the butterfly as floating on the breath of God. To an Adult I might describe the butterfly floating, as free at last from being a caterpillar.

CH: You’ve written other stories for children. What do you find to be the hardest part of writing for children?

VE: The hardest part, I would say, is maintaining a since of simplicity.  By that, I mean. Write the way we talk to children. They have allowed me into their world. I must respect it. When in Rome do as the Romans do. Staying honest to their stage in growth is very important.

CH: Why did you decide to self publish?

VE: I dreamed of writing books for years. I am approaching the end of and engineering career and rather than have to go through the rigors of finding an agent and publisher which could be quite time consuming, self-publishing seemed the right choice. Self-publishing has given me a great shot of confidence by having my writing available to the public, encourages me to pursue my writing with more passion and expectation.

CH: Is it hard to write a story on a child’s level?      

VE:  It is a challenge. The hardest part is getting out of my own way. I have too many thoughts, sometimes.

CH: How do you come up with the ideas for your children’s stories?           

 VE: I am a people watcher. I had a great childhood, which I remember very well. I hid many stories in my mind when I was growing up. Ideas were and are all around me. All sorts of story ideas from the loss of relatives, friends and people I knew from a distance. Happy times watching the world around me. I glean from an endless carousel.

CH: Do you have a website?

VE: Yes, I do. My Web site is www.vastineeast.com or you can visit  http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0063848017/I-SWAM-WITH-AN-ANGEL.aspx

CH: Where is your book sold?

VE: This book, and my other book, Masai Man, are both sold on Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, and of course on my web site www.vastineeast.com    Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/I-SWAM-ANGEL-Vastine-East/dp/1465350594/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1431042927&sr=1-1&keywords=i+swam+with+an+angel

CH: Any closing remarks?

VE: Cheryl, I am honored for you inviting me as a guest. I am grateful for the opportunity to share my book and the passion I have for writing. I have spent forty years in the oil and gas industry as a Structural Designer. I have given it my best. I will give my writing a greater effort!

I will continue to write. I will continue to put my best efforts forward as a storyteller by writing as best I can!

CH: Thank you so much Vastine for joining me and my audience.

 

Don’t Keep this Blog a Secret…Tell Your Friends about it!

Note: Photos are compliments of Vastine East and the Internet.

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net

Cheryl Holloway’s Spotlight on Books: I Swam with An Angel

Spotlight_CherylHollowayheader1_An Author Writes

Children’s Book Week May 4-10, 2015  is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading.

Cjildrens Book Week_Dates_2015       every child a reader_logo_blue_small

Facts: Children’s Book Week is the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading. Since establishment in 1919, commemorative events have been held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, and homes—wherever young readers and books connect! Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. It is the 96th Anniversary.

I want to Spotlight this book during Children’s Book Week.

 

I Swam with an Angel

Title: I Swam with An Angel

Genre: Children – Handicap/Wheelchair

Synopsis: Initially from Jamaica, ten-year-old Cornell was born with a rare disease that made it impossible for him to walk. After the divorce of his parents, he was then sent to his aunt’s house, something nine-year-old Jaime thinks is a wrong idea. When Cornell first arrived to his cousin’s house, they were like water and oil. Jaime did not like the idea that he bragged to much about things he could not do, like swim or sail a boat. But when Cornell starts to get sick, will Jaime realize the real meaning of strength and how strong Cornell really is?

Vastine

Author: Vastine East

I must preface this review by saying that this is the first review of this book, and I don’t understand why, because it is a great book! I certainly recommend I Swam with An Angel.

For those readers who know me, you know that I am a grandmother with grandchildren of all ages. So, I started reading…

I Swam with An Angel is narrated by a young girl, Jamie, who describes the ups and downs of day-to-day life as she and her family adjust to her cousin from Kingston, Jamaica, Cornell, who is handicapped and in a wheelchair. Jamie is well aware of Cornell’s challenges, which seem to anger her and she just wants a normal life.

I loved this book. It is an emotional book that shares the experience of children with disabilities and their extended family members; and takes the reader on a journey of discovery. (I don’t want to give away the ending.)

Fully illustrated in color and written in child-friendly language, this book could be a wonderful resource for children and parents/adults. It is a juvenile easy reader, as well as a book adults can read to small children.

I liked the fact that this book is sensitively written and provides a base for discussion in families with a handicap child in a wheelchair. This is a story that can help other siblings and family members to share their feelings and reassure them that each person’s role in the family is very important—including the handicapped child.

Most families with a handicapped child look for resources at their local library or go online and become overwhelmed with the thousands of books written on the subject. I am offering you my opinion and recommendation of a delightful book for parents and children.

I wish Vastine East much success in his writing endeavors.

I rate this book…

starstarstarstarstar

 

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/I-SWAM-ANGEL-Vastine-East/dp/1465350594/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1430839263&sr=1-1&keywords=I+swam+with+an+angel

Action Steps:    

           1.  View/read this blog and comment  

           2.   Invite your friends to view/read this blog                                                                 

           3.  If you read the book, let me know what you think.

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We’d love to hear about what you’re reading and enjoying on our blog, so please drop us a line in the comments

Note: Photos and clip art are compliments of Cheryl Holloway, Vastine East and the Internet.

DISCLAIMER

Endorsement Disclaimer: All reviews posted on this site and written by Cheryl Holloway are personal opinions of the book by the reviewer. The reviews are NOT paid endorsements of the book or the author. They are not advertisements. All reviews are honest, forthright and the opinion of the individual reviewer, freely given. Our opinions are not for sale.

 

 

Guest Author Interview – Natalija Bajlo

header1_An Author Writes

This is International Month with authors and illustrators from other countries. 

King Burue_Cover

Title: King Burue Changes The Rules

Genre: Children

Synopsis: King Burue Changes the Rules is a children’s story with an adult dilemma told through the keen interpretation of an 8-year-old child. Author Natalija Bajlo (who is actually age 8) conveys the message about how we should treat others and how everyone is entitled to like—or love —anyone we choose, regardless of whatever societal “rules” are perceived to exist. In a charming and beautifully, illustrated story about an animal kingdom led by a goose named King Burue, Natalija challenges rules that are not fair and should not exist and leads the King to his conclusion that those rules should be changed. It is an important lesson for children told in a most entertaining way.

Natalija Bajlo

Author: Natalija Bajlo

CH: Please join me in welcoming the first child author to be a guest on my blog, Miss Natalija Bajlo. She wants to change the world—one story book at a time.

CH: Natalija, please tell us in one sentence, why children and their parents should read your book. 

NB: It’s has important lessons that teach kids how to treat one another and accept each other no matter what you look like.

CH: Where did you get your idea for this story/fable?

NB: Watching kids around me and how they can be mean to someone because they are different like the color of their skin or their culture. We’re all people and there’s no reason to hate someone for how they look.

CH: What inspired you to write this charming children’s book? 

NB: I write a lot of stories and my teacher always told my mom that she loves my stories and my mom helped me to publish it.

CH: How long have you been writing? 

NB: Since I could use a pencil. I would write stories and make pictures about me and my mom and make little paper books. I think, I was 5 or 6. My mom loved my stories and it would make me want to write more. Most of my stories were about my life with my mom. We have a really happy life and I love my mom so much.

CH: How did you start writing books at such a young age (8 years old)?

NB: I had really good teachers and I am in the gifted program at school. My teacher, Mrs. Neuhaus, really liked my writing and she encouraged me to write more.

CH: Why did you decide to write this book? 

NB: I write about morals. I was inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. and wanted to write a story that showed that it doesn’t matter what you look like, but about how you treat each other, so I used animals to show that differences don’t matter.

CH: How long did it take you to write this book? 

NB: I wrote the story in a month, but the book part took like 5 months. We worked with the artist over email and she would send a few pages at a time. The story had to go to a book editor and a book designer. Nancy is my publicist and she helped my mom to do all this stuff. I did a project in school about how a book is published, so I learned more about it.

CH: Who was your favorite character to write? 

NB: King Burue and I like the porcupine, too. I think he is cute.

CH: What is your all-time favorite book? 

NB: That’s really hard to pick one. I read a lot. My mom always read to me as a baby and she taught me the alphabet before I could talk. She would ask me a letter and I would point to it. So, I started reading early. I love the Chronicles of Narnia, The Phantom Tollbooth, all the Disney stories, Harry Potter (but these are mostly my mom’s bedtime stories to me and she still likes to read to me, too!). I also like poems and stories by Shel Silverstein, like The Giving Tree and Where The Sidewalk Ends.

CH: Your cover is bright and cheerful. Who designed the cover? 

NB: Amene Beheshti, the illustrator from Tehran. My mom found her online. We had different artists submit drawings after reading the book and she understood it the best and her artwork was different and goes with the story about being different.

Amene Beheshti_Illustrator

Illustrator: Amene Beheshti, representing Peru and Iran

CH: When Amene had the opportunity to read Natalija’s book, she felt an instant connection to the meaning of the story that served as an inspiration for her wonderful drawings of the characters and their world.

CH: How did you become interested in illustrating books for children?

AB: Well, I love children and from childhood, I was interested in books. By then, I just felt that I could say my words in illustrations and I did it.

CH: What do you love about illustrating for children?

AB: The visual appeals for example, colors, lines, etc.

CH: Can you tell us about the illustrating process for King Burue Changes The Rules?

AB: I have read the book many times and I felt that I could illustrate this book with flat (no shadow) colors and curved lines.

CH: What other children’s books have you illustrated?

AB: I have illustrated some educational books for children.

CH: Natalija, obviously there is a message in your book that you want the readers to grasp. What is it? 

NB: There’s lot of messages. I think diversity is important and accepting each other for who we are because you can’t change how you are born. I want to show people that if you treat someone nice, they will treat you nice. Even when someone says something mean to me, I try to say something nice back to break the cycle. You should stand up for what you believe in and you should be able to like who you want to like. It’s okay to change a rule that doesn’t make sense, if it’s not fair to everyone. That’s why King Burue changes the rules. He sees that in his kingdom that all the rules help the animals to treat each other nicely. It doesn’t matter what they look like and they can help each other because one animal has a skill that the other doesn’t. They can all be friends and love each other and they shouldn’t have to be afraid or hide because they are different and aren’t supposed to be friends. King Burue loves Kimiko and he tries to cover up her beautiful colors, then realizes how silly it is to change what someone looks like. My friends and my mom’s friends come from all different cultures and are all different. My best friend since I was 18 months old is African American. She had kids tease her and it’s not nice. She is a great person. Maybe if parents teach their kids when they are young, then they will all grow up to be nice to each other. That’s why I have been asked to read my book at some elementary schools and I answered a lot of questions about the lesson. The principal talked about how my book could also teach lessons about bullying. I guess it does but I like to focus on the positive, so I talk about accepting each other.

best friend buddies

Natalija hugging her buddy.

CH: I understand that your first book is in your school library. Do you have plans for a new book? 

NB: Yes, I already started a story about a baby polar bear who loses his mother and a harp seal helps him look for her. She takes care of him and teaches him lessons (like in my first story, but different kind of lessons) and at the end he asks her to be his mother. The moral is that a parent is someone who loves and cares for you. Some kids are adopted, and some have step-parents and that kind of stuff, but your parent isn’t always the person who you were born from.

CH: What is your website?  

NB: www.kingburue.com    You can send me an email and my mom will post your response to the book on the website.

CH: Where is your book sold?  

NB: Amazon and Barnes & Noble online and you can email us and we will send you a signed copy.(Natalija@kingburue.com)

CH: Any Closing remarks?  

NB: I hope everyone can read my book and learn something from it. Thank you for your interest in my book Mrs. Holloway. Sincerely, Natalija Bajlo

CH: Thank you Natalija Bajlo for joining me on my blog, it has been a real pleasure talking with a child author. We look forward to your second book. 

Note: Photos are compliments of Natalija Bajlo and the Internet.

 

Readers and followers, please share this post with your friends.

 If you find us deserving, please nominate us for Writer’s Digest “101 Best Sites for Writers.”  Email: writersdig@fwpubs.com with “101 Sites” in the subject line.  Type: “Cheryl Holloway Author Blog http://www.CherylHolloway.net/blog in the body of the email.  It’s that simple!  And “thank you” from all of us!

On this blog, I “Pay it Forward” to other authors by spotlighting them with a Guest Author Interview. I only ask that they too “Pay It Forward” to any other author.                                                                                                                       ~ Cheryl Holloway

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Questions? Comments? Contact : AuthorCherylHolloway@gmail.com or Cheryl@CherylHolloway.net