Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Author Spotlight - Nasrin Mottahedeh on her award winning children's picture book



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
Up until the 9th grade, I averaged a “C” in creative writing, but in the middle of this grade, our Literature teacher went on maternity leave and a new teacher substituted for her.
My first writing assignment in her class was returned to me with no grade. In red, she wrote, “Nasrin, in the future, you will become an excellent writer if you stop writing so poorly now. Girl, don’t hold back your creativity. Re- write the assignment and resubmit it.”
It was there and then that I realized that fear of being different had made me hold back, and I ended up writing “poorly”. And that teacher’s challenge is how my love of writing began.  
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
As far as I recall, I always wanted to become a world traveler. During summer, my niece and I would have these elaborate plans for traveling the world. I remember, when I was around 6 years old, I had a tricycle that I tried not to use too much so I could use it in my future world travelings!
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
Ice Dream’s Wish was not my first choice. Since there is a mention of a computer in the very first pages of the book, I originally wanted to call it www.awish.com.true which I figured could be a good marketing tool for website and products as well. But my daughter thought it might be too complicated for children and suggested this name.  
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“The girl, who had given the snowman the rosebud heart found it a few steps away and noticed how it had changed. She did not know that all the love Ice Dream had felt during that day, had filled his heart, helping it blossom into a perfect rose.”  This is my favorite because I believe that, even love alone, could have achieved the conclusion of the book.  
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
As an author (whose name has skipped my mind) said, “In every book written, part of the author resides”
Any of the three kids in the book could have been my childhood; I was a very inquisitive child!
The angel is who I wish to be: a miracle doer. 
And the snowman is who I think I am: caring..  
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Being caring and generous is not only good, but it’s cool as well.  
TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I do have a funny story to share about my book, Ice Dream’s Wish.
On the day it was published, I was on my way home with boxes of fresh off the press books, when I received a call from an old, elderly friend who, when she found out about my new book, insisted on receiving a copy that day. Once there, she asked me to read a few pages out loud to her. I was barely on the second page when she told me that she needed to close her eyes for better concentration. In less than a minute, I noticed that the deep concentration was making her snore! Just to find out if she really was asleep, I started to read, in the same tone, her shopping list, that was left on the table! And oddly enough, she would nod occasionally and then more snoring. I realized it was time for me to leave, so I got a little closer to her and shouted, “Boo” in her ears. That did the trick, and I said goodbye and left. 
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I don’t believe I was influenced by a particular style of any author in writing this book. But there is one author who inspired me to write it.  When my daughter was 8, I was at a bookstore searching for a good book for her. While there are plenty of good children’s books, I just couldn’t find the one I was looking for. So I started browsing the other sections and found this inspiring quotation by Toni Morrison that said, “If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it,” And this corresponded with my daughter’s writing assignment about “The day the snowman started to walk.”
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Every good book I have read has influenced my life in a way. In my youth, reading The Fruits of the Earth by the French author, Andre Gide, strengthened joy, love of life and appreciation of every moment in me. A few years later, the Russian authors like Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov taught me about social issues such as education, war, poverty, freedom, and so on which influenced my outlook on the world. And later in life, writers like Hemingway, Garcia Marquez, and Jose Saramago educated me about courage, honesty of emotions, and creatively mixing imagination with reality, and tragedy with humor. 
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
For many years, I used to publish a magazine that was the first official magazine for women in Farsi outside of Iran. And owing to the fact that I both published and edited it, I had complete freedom in writing and choosing authors and articles without interference or censorship of a superior, and that encouraged me to work with great enthusiasm and a sense of creating a unique magazine with high standards.  
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Well, first I clean my computer screen and dust off the keyboard. Then I pick a number 2 pencil and start writing!
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED? 
I self-published and am still searching for an agent.  I am waiting to find a publisher and then have a big celebration!
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
God bless Google to find how. And don’t be afraid of rejections.  
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 
Actually, I would like to share that I only tried to acquire a publisher once. He seemed to like the story, and he said he would gladly publish my book if I would westernize the illustrator’s and my names. His reasoning was that because of political issues, Middle Eastern names are not favorable and hard to market. Of course, I refused that offer, and now, after receiving four literary awards, I realize that, actually, book fans care about good writing, not the name of the author and I truly believe that this openness is what distinguishes progressive countries such as the United States.  
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes, I am in the process of writing two children’s book, of which, one is a sequel to Ice Dream’s Wish. In addition, I am putting the finishing touches on a humorous book in Farsi for adults called The Mini Writings of N. On the internet, sometimes I am known as “N”.  

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall, by Shannon Kirk, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


Vivienne Marshall has loved and been loved more greatly than many could ever hope for in a lifetime.  As she lies on her death-bed she is reunited with Noah, a childhood sweetheart who passed away years earlier.  Noah joins Vivienne as she begins her journey into the afterlife, easing her into the process of choosing the life she'll lead in heaven once she departs from her earthly body.  As Vivienne explores her celestial options she's torn between the ethereal world awaiting her and the loved ones she must leave behind.  


If only for the satisfaction of savoring the remarkable eloquence found within the pages of this book, The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall would be ranked as truly exceptional.  But when such exquisitely penned lines are coupled with a story so riveting as this, one can't help but delight in this marvelous novel.  Author Shannon Kirk's The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall is highly recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.



LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Friday, March 24, 2017

Author Spotlight, Robin Gregory, on her award winning title, The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
I started journaling as a teenager, and writing poetry, then short stories. It was not with
the dream of being a writer; it was the only way I seemed to be able to process events,
circumstances, relationships. The sixties brought new chaos with them, women’s lib,
drugs, sexual liberation, racial divides, the war, power shifting to the individual. It was all
quite bewildering for me. Writing is a way to witness myself, to observe, to know that I
exist. It helps me find myself in the seams of the inner and outer world.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I always wanted to be an trapeze artist.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
My son. His special needs have been extremely difficult, and yet he continues to be
charming, courageous, and enthusiastic about life. When family and strangers distance
themselves from him, he continues to offer them kindness. When other children exclude
him from play, he smiles at them. Moojie’s journey is a composite of both my son’s and
my own awakening. We both have been growing, either through the pain of our own
willfulness, or through surrender to the greater mysteries of life. If I learned nothing else,
it would be this one thing: the Creator, the Source, God, is infinitely patient, and will
grant us all the time we need to awaken.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"If life were all sunshine and chocolate, there wouldn’t be any saints and
we’d never find our way back to heaven."
Moojie’s mother says this when he is having a particularly tough time. It represents the
foundation of the story. While our lives at times might seem impossible, challenges
serve a crucial purpose: they are exactly what cause us to develop our inner
resources, to master our gifts, and realize deep, lasting fulfillment.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO
YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I suppose all the characters are drawn from parts of myself, but the one most like me is
Moojie’s mother. Though she is not quite awakened in the story, she is determined,
fierce, and believes in the power of love. She sees potential in her son where others do
not. She believes Moojie has an auspicious destiny. But I am also like Moojie in my
struggle to surrender with willfulness, impulsiveness, and self-sabotaging habits. Ha! To
one degree or another, I suppose I will always be working on these.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR
AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I would like to remind readers that each of us, no matter what our present state or
condition, is wired for miracles. Miracles occur when we merge with Grace. My greatest
hope is for readers to become engaged on a soul level while reading. It is a privilege to 
give folks a story that will invite them to take a closer look at themselves, to question
whether or not they have accepted false limitations. We all have challenges. But often it
is our own judgment of them that keeps us stuck. Miracles are a matter of opening
ourselves to the healing/guiding forces of the universe. There truly are no mistakes.
We’ve always done the best we can, and everything along the way has helped us
realize our power. No matter how we appear today—be it sick, well, able-bodied or
disabled, alone or with family—we shape our own possibilities.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
While working as a journalist, I wrote my first novel, a terrible thing, that I’m glad to say
never got published.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Oh boy, I’m not sure I can name one. I love the classics, Homer’s Odyssey, Cervantes’
Don Quixote, and The Thousand and One Nights. Other books of great influence were
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez, Kafka’s The
Metamorphosis, and Kipling’s Just So Stories.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
One Hundred Years of Solitude. It is a mind-altering book that expanded my awareness
of what is possible, not only in literature, but in life.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
If you mean what do I feel has been my greatest contribution to literature, I would surely
say The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman. My hope was to write a story that
gave transcendence a pedestrian quality, that included miracles as natural
phenomenon.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Writing for me does not require discipline, doing anything else does. I’d rather write than
eat. When I’m writing, I’m like the kid in the sandbox, building roads and moats and
castles, as if nothing else existed. Throughout the day, I’m always taking mental and
written notes because Life is always presenting ideas for interpretation. I prefer to write
the first draft by hand. When I am lacking inspiration, I clear my mind with meditation, or
read poetry and the classics. And oh yea, a fresh, steeping cup of English tea with milk
always helps. Writing can complicate family life. Once, I had to work 26 hours straight to
meet a deadline. Fortunately, my husband was able to take over. He’s a good cook.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
After failing to secure an agent or a publishing contract that met my standards, I
discovered Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing, Co., Inc. They are a traditional publisher that
for 20 years has offered a mentoring program for self-published authors. A wonderful
foreign rights agent approached me after seeing my book in a contest. She’s repping it
at international trade shows. We just closed a translation deal with a Chinese publisher.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
After thirteen years, releasing my book was incredibly liberating. My husband and I took
a trip to the San Juan Islands. I felt fresh like a butterfly just out of the cocoon.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY
TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
The most important piece of advice I can give new writers is to allow their book to ripen
before publishing. Make sure that every page sparkles, and that the story represents
something important to you. Wait until someone you do not know well reads the
manuscript and jumps up and down. Audition your editors. Send them an excerpt to see
how they respond. No one ever charged me for this. Weigh their responses. Are they
respectful? Excited? Do they see what you are after? Can they offer suggestions to
bring your vision to clarity? Never settle for “good enough.” Strive for excellence
concerning every word, the design, the cover, editing.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO
PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Start promoting, entering contests, submitting for reviews, at least 3-4 months before
releasing your book. You can build up pre-order sales on Amazon, which can lead to
bestselling status right off.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Try not to take reviews too seriously. Every reader brings to a book the sum of their
state of consciousness. Not everyone is able to read with depth, or willing to take time
to savor what we have done. It is impossible to please everyone. Some of the best
literature stirs up controversy, and causes people to be angry. Anyone and everyone is
now qualified to be a reviewer. This is a two-sided blessing. While it provides readers
with an opportunity to support our work, it also gives a public platform to folks who get a
charge out of belittling our best efforts. The best feedback comes from our colleagues,
editors, publishers, and beta readers. Once your book is published, release it. Rather
than looking at reviews for feedback, go forward.
WHAT DO YOU CURRENTLY HAVE IN THE WORKS?
Presently, I am working with a producer to develop Moojie Littleman for the big screen.
Also, I am writing and editing my collection of mystical poems. I’d like to publish the
audio book of Moojie Littleman after that, and get going on a sequel!
The Chinese translation of The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman will be
released by the Beijing Genuine & Profound Literary Culture Media Company, Ltd.,
February, 2018. It will be available on Amazon. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Criminal, by K.B. Hoyle, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Criminal, Book II in the Breeder series by K.B. Hoyle, continues with the story of Pria who has escaped from the UWO (a dystopian organization bent on achieving a perfect society through selective breeding).  In Book I of the series Pria learns of the abominations of the UWO and discovers she's being used to carry out their plans. As the story progresses in Criminal Pria is asked by the Free Patriots to once again infiltrate the society to garner proof of the evil being perpetrated and to convince others of the need to fight the Order to preserve humanity.

The evil tactics employed by Sanctuary are horrific. They kill all infants who are not perfect as defined by their utopian objective. A child born with the wrong color eyes or any possible variation on the ideal is exterminated; but first, experiments are performed using their bodies and body parts. Throughout the series Pria has relied heavily on her friend and protector Pax who always seems to be there when she needs him most. As they continue to fight dangerous battles and overcome immense odds together the two develop a bond that is greater than ever before.


Author K.B. Hoyle is an incredibly gifted storyteller.  Her ability to alternate seamlessly between intense action scenes and tender moments (often laced with subtle humor) is one of the many reasons this author continues to enthrall YA fans.  Criminal is a powerfully gripping tale with a well-developed cast of characters, many with whom readers will feel a strong connection.  Recommended for home and school libraries, this book has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Imogene of the Pacific Kingdom earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Imogene, a five-year-old girl, is left in the care of a bitter aunt. Her parents are king and queen of an underwater world and they must return to their homeland to save their people from an evil enemy.  Five years pass and Imogene matures into a delightful and intelligent young lady.  When she is finally reunited with her parents she discovers unknown talents which enable her to aid in the rescue of the Pacific Kingdom.

Imogene of the Pacific Kingdom is a wonderfully imaginative story with fascinating elements which keep readers enthralled from beginning to end.   Adventure, magic, and subtle humor await young readers who are sure to connect with Imogene as they thrill in her underwater adventures. Author, Teresa Schapansky introduces youngsters to an environmentally friendly way of life, an aspect which she weaves seamlessly within an engaging plot which kids will find to be entirely entertaining.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Friday, March 17, 2017

Magora The Golden Maple Tree, by Marc Remus, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



We are big fans of Book I in the Magora fantasy series, but The Golden Maple Tree brought us to a delightfully new level of entertainment.  In Book II the magical realm of the maple tree takes center stage, and what a joy it is to learn of the tree and it’s many wonders.  Readers of all ages will thrill at the enchanting continuation of the Magora story in which Holly must help her friend find a cure for a critical ailment.  Creative youngsters will find an engaging outlet for growing minds as suspense and great challenges propel this story to an exciting crescendo.


Author Marc Remus continues to breathe life into the unique fantasy world of Magora.  Art and literature blend to create a fascinating realm as Remus paints a wonderfully vivid picture in this magical tale which will enthrall young readers.  Highly recommended for home and school libraries, Magora The Golden Maple Tree earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The King of Average, by Gary Schwartz, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


James is average in most every way.  His grades are mediocre, he's medium in height and build.  In fact, there's absolutely nothing about James that sets him apart in any way.  He's just an incredibly normal kid.  One day, he muses aloud that he's so very ordinary he could quite possibly be the king of average. And that's when James' world begins to shift.  He's suddenly transported to the land of Average, where everything is quite literally average.  Except, as he soon learns, the current king of Average has gone missing.  James is challenged with a mission, find the king of Average, learn why he departed, then return to claim his title as the new king.  James happily accepts his quest and he, along with a motley crew of new companions set out to find the missing royal.


Author Gary Schwartz has crafted a brilliant read for middle grade audiences.  Replete with witty phrases and loads of powerful symbolism, The King of Average is not your average ho-hum read.  This book has incredible depth with a delightfully engaging plot, threads of humor throughout, and a resounding underlying message that is truly inspired. Recommended for home and school libraries, The King of Average receives our highest recommendation and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. 


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Monday, March 13, 2017

Author Jason Marchi on his award winning book, The Growing Sweater



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
While in high school I took two writing classes with a very popular teacher. Her name was Joan Hayes and she did not marry until her retirement from teaching. Miss Hayes had a colorful past. She was a former mother superior and before that she assembled bombs in a factory for a living. She brought amazing love and energy into her teaching and I took Creative Writing I & II with her during my junior and senior years. That’s when I first got the idea that I might want to be a writer when I grew up.
When I entered college I discovered the short stories of Ray Bradbury. This changed my life forever and I fell in love with the magic of good writing, of how a story could affect a reader emotionally. That’s when I knew, more than anything else, that I wanted to be a writer and tell exciting stories for the rest of my life.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
The very first thing I wanted to be when I was grew up an architect. I loved buildings of all sorts, from houses to churches to skyscrapers. I used to build house models from scratch using balsawood for the framing and thin cardboard for the wallboard and sheathing. I’d cut strips of heavy paper to make my own siding shingles and strips of fine black sandpaper to make roofing shingles. I built about a dozen houses like this, finishing the interiors with paint, carpeting, and I even made my own miniature furniture. Only one of those houses remains intact today. All the rest I dissembled because they took up too much room, but I have pictures of three of them. I built the house models from blueprints my father got for me.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
My mom often told me stories about her life before I was born. We were sitting on the back deck one September day when I was about 21 or 22, and we were noting that sweater weather would soon arrive. She then told me about a sweater she’d knitted for my father (before I was born) that he only got to wear once. He got it dirty right away with food stains. When she washed and dried it for the first time it stretched! It was too big for him, so my mom’s uncle Otto, who was nearly seven feet tall, wore the sweater for a while before it grew too big for him. As soon as she finished telling me be this very brief story my imagination began turning the concept over and over. “What a great story that would make for children!” I said, and that evening I started the first draft and completed the basic story a day or two later. While writing the story I simply ran with my imagination of what kind of tale I would love to have had read to me if I were still a kid, a fun adventure, a “what happens next” kind of story. I changed the facts to fit a more dramatic timeline. I had a grandmother knit the sweater for her youngest and smallest granddaughter. This way the sweater could stay in the family as long as possible before the family had to part with it.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
It is a few lines. “The sweater was too big for any of the zoo’s washing machines. So the zookeeper washed the sweater by letting the elephants spray it with their trunks. Two giraffes then held the sweater up to dry.” I think those are pretty funny images. They came to me in a flash while I was writing the story, as if the story wrote itself at that point and I did not have to think about what happened next.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
All of my characters are like me. A bit of me is in every single character, spread out pretty evenly come to think of it. That happens a great deal when I write. As human beings we have very complex thoughts. We have very different moods at different times: anger, fear, joy, and so on. We behave differently with different people. So when I create distinct characters I always go into myself, my emotional memories, and give them to my characters.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I did not set out to put a message into The Growing Sweater. I just wanted to capture a fun story and run with it to a logical and fun conclusion. After I sent the manuscript out to fellow authors for comments to help me strengthen the story or find any errors, etc., I learned that the story had a message. That message is summed up by a blurb on the back of the book. “A charming tale that mixes fantasy with reality to show how important an unselfish spirit can be.” That was written by Doug Menville of Braille Institute. Now when I look at the story I see that that message is very clear. I never saw that message when writing. I hope that teachers and parents will point out to children that by sharing with others instead of just throwing things away you can help others recover from troubled times.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I mentioned him before, Ray Bradbury. Bradbury single-handedly turned me into a writer. No writer before him had such an effect on my intellect and my emotions. I had a wild imagination as a kid, which was fueled by all the awesome science fiction and fantasy shows I grew up watching: Thunderbirds, Lost in Space, My Favorite Martian, Mr. Ed, Star Trek, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Bewitched, The Flying Nun, I Dream of Jeannie. I was NOT a big reader until I entered college to study English and geology. And after I discovered the amazingly creative stories and very beautiful writing of Ray Bradbury when I was 19 I fell in love with the idea of writing and telling stories. Bradbury gave me a permission slip to let my imagination soar, and he also showed me that it was okay and proper to write all these fantastic ideas down on paper and make them into stories to thrill or inspire others.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Ray Bradbury’s The Golden Apples of the Sun short story collection, which my mother found in a used bookstore and gave to me when I was 18. She was always bringing home books for me on varying topics in her endless quest to get me to read. I hated reading when I was a kid because I was a very slow reader and I had to go back over the same paragraphs to remember what I’d just read. It was torture. When I was 10 I had to go to a special reading teacher to learn to stop moving my head when I read.
Well, I did not read that Bradbury book until a year later, when I entered my freshman year in college. I had a small dormitory room to myself and when all the other students were sleeping late on a Sunday morning I started to read that book. The first three stories I read hit me like a ton of bricks. Right then I fell in love with the idea of trying to write my own stories with the same kind of emotion and truth that Bradbury put into that book.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Having a positive influence on the lives of children. About the same time I was informed that The Growing Sweater had won a gold medal in the 2016 Literary Classics contest I received a letter from a librarian in Maine. She runs an after school reading program and one of her students, a young girl, hates everything that is read to her. Everything. So this librarian grabbed a copy of The Growing Sweater that had just been donated to the library. She read it and the girl sat enthralled through the entire 1400 word story. The girl then asked for the book to be read to her a second time. She’d never requested that before. Same reaction. The girl was so enchanted by the book she borrowed it, took it home, made her mother read it to her again and again, and then she told the other kids at school about the book and it did not stay on the shelf for weeks. Her classmates kept borrowing it. I heard a similar story from another parent. One five-year-old girl insisted the story be read to her every night for weeks and she asked for a purple sweater and a stuffed animal elephant (one of the characters from the book) for her upcoming birthday.
A similar thing happened with my first children’s book, The Legend of HobbomockThe Sleeping Giant. When that book came out in 2011 I had lots of bookstore signings in my home state of Connecticut. Two eight year old boys came up to me at two different signings and told me that they hated to read until their mom or dad found and gave them a copy of my book. Wow. I was knocked over that my Native American story had changed the lives of these two children. And now they wanted to read more books.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Just one. I cannot write in a silent room. If the weather is seasonable and I can open the windows, I am soothed by the outdoor sounds: singing birds, a train passing at the edge of town, children playing in a yard a few houses over, the wind in the trees, a lawnmower whirling in the distance. All these sounds comfort me and allow me to concentrate on my writing. When I have the windows closed and I want to write then I have to play soft ambient space music that I find on YouTube. There cannot be talking or singing, just the soft ambient space music that has a soothing repetitive beauty to it. That focuses me and also opens my imagination.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
I’ve been rejected by every single agent I’ve approached over the past 25 years. I’ve only had luck selling my poems, articles, and stories directly to magazine editors. No book editor would ever take my work, so I self-published my two children’s picture books. I worked for the big school publisher McGraw-Hill for 17 years so I learned all about publishing books there. I’d still like to be published traditionally – through an agent who gets me a book deal and even a big book-to-film deal. If not, I’ll keep self-publishing.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE PUBLISH DATE OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
After the first case of books arrived from the printer I took pictures with my iPhone and sent those pictures to my closest friends. And I posted some pictures to my Facebook page. Other than that I did nothing special. I really wanted to get back to the computer and work on more stories.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
The Legend of Hobbomock: The Sleeping Giant. A 32 page picture storybook. The book is a dramatic retelling of a Native American legend about how a set of hills in South Central Connecticut came to look like a giant man sleeping on his back. The book was the single bestselling title in the history of the Barnes & Noble store in North Haven, CT. The book is also a 2015 REVERE Awards Finalist in the picture book category.
Ode on a Martian Urn is a collection previously published and new poems that touch upon the subjects of science, science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Both books are available at www.OmicronWorld.com and Amazon.com
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
I have both traditionally published and self-published. My first professional sale was a 28 line poem to the now defunct science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. I was paid $1 a line and earned $28. I sold them more poems until the editor left and the new editor stopped publishing poetry. I then sold poems to many other magazines and later I started to see my short stories appear in small magazines. But I could never sell a book manuscript to a publishing house so I turned to self-publishing, and that choice turned out to be the right choice. My Legend of Hobbomock picture book became a Barnes & Noble recognized regional bestseller in Connecticut. And the book has strong back list sales locally.
Most recently Follett and Baker & Taylor, the two big distributors, asked me to become a vendor in their system so they can fill all the school and library orders they are getting for that book. More and more teachers want to use it in their classrooms, as dozens of teachers have already been doing so over the past four years.
So, my biggest advice is to try self-publishing if you KNOW you have good story but no agent or publisher will accept your work. However, if you self-publish you must be prepared for a lot of work that will take you away from pure writing. You must learn all aspects of running a small business AND find freelance editors to clean up your manuscript and make it great, and people to design your book, and a printer, etc. The best resource available to learn the A to Z of self-publishing for success can be found by joining American Publishers for Special Sales (APSS) which is owned and operated by the current guru of self-publishing, Brian Judd. Join for $60 a year and learn ALL you can from Brian’s books (which you will need to purchase) and his free webinars. He also consults on a very affordable basis.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
If you are self-publishing then join APSS (mentioned above) and really dig into their resources and learn how to sell books to bookstores, libraries, book clubs, chain stores, corporations and many other venues most writers don’t think about.
If you publish traditionally ask your editor how you can help him or her market your books as far and as wide as possible to drive sales. Unless you are a celebrity of some sort, a traditional publisher will do very little to market and advertise the book(s) of yours they are paying you to publish. If you don’t sell enough copies they WILL drop you and you will be out in the cold without a publisher and very likely without an agent. Everyone involved in the publishing industry needs to sell books at a profit to eat and pay the rent or mortgage. Pitch-in anyway and every way you can to help build buzz about you as a writer, your book or books.  Capitalize on your expertise in a subject in which you can give lectures and talks, and build an audience platform that way. Successful publishing is really about showmanship, in addition to producing a good book that people will want to read.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I’m working on two new children’s picture book stories, and they have yet to be illustrated so it might be three years before I can get those books into the marketplace. However, I’m now completing two young adult short story collections (for ages 13+) and I hope to have those available both in print and ebook formats in 2017. One is titled The Man in the Black Frock Coat and the other is The Island People. Both of these collections are stories in the tradition of the classic Twilight Zone television series from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Readers never seem to get tired of thrilling or chilling stories of a speculative nature. I sure don’t. I’m also editing a book of speculative stories and poems called Automobilia which I hope to have out in 2017 or 2018 at the latest. I’m going to try to sell this book to a traditional publisher because it’s the right topic to go that route.
All these titles are or will be available though my publishing company website at www.OmicronWorld.com and at Amazon.com, as well as through Follett and Baker & Taylor for interested schools, libraries, and bookstores.
NOTE: If readers would like to purchase any of my books and have them signed and personalized they will need to order them through the www.OmicronWorld.com website.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org