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

If You Wish, by Cassandra Sage Briskman, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Sixteen-year-old Ella lives in an incredible mansion.  Her father is a famous film director and is gone for months at a time, leaving her with a stepmother who treats her like the hired help. Adding insult to injury, she also shares her home with two self-absorbed step-sisters.  Like a stranger in her own home, Ella spends most of her time running errands for her overindulged step-mother.  She drives a beat up old car that will barely start and nobody seems to mind that she doesn't have a driver's license yet.  Friendless, and with a cynical outlook on life, Ella is just trying to survive the drudgery of her life from one day to the next. Then, through a chance encounter, she befriends a boy from her school and finds a new perspective on life.


Intensely honest, If You Wish represents the very tangible insecurities and self-doubt felt by so many teens today.  Readers will relate to this poignant tale of loss and self-discovery as Ella is bouyed by the confidence she discovers when she finds purpose and a sense of belonging.  Author Cassandra Sage Briskman exhibits true talent as a writer in her telling of this soulful story of a young girl who lives out a very "un-fairytale."  An engaging book which is sure to strike a chord with teen audiences, If You Wish, 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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Buss from Lafayette, by Dorothea Jensen, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Clara Hargraves is a clever and spirited young girl with red hair to match her fiery personality.  She has just turned fourteen years old and her step-mother expects her to start behaving like a proper young lady.  This is quite vexing for Clara as she loves to swim in the pond near her home; and, in her estimation, riding side-saddle is entirely ridiculous.  It doesn't help that Clara resents her step-mother (her mother's sister), for trying to take on the role her mom once had.  To make matters worse her step-mother is now with child.

For weeks now, it seems all anyone can speak of in her small New Hampshire town is Lafayette, a French aristocrat who relinquished his title and became the nation's darling as he aided America during its struggle for independence.  Lafayette has become such an iconic figure of the day that his likeness adorns ladies' gloves, fans and more.  So when it's rumored that Lafayette might be passing through, her town is abuzz.  Clara enjoys hearing about Lafayette and the many reasons for which he has become a hero to her country, but more importantly she dreams of changing her unseemly red hair to a lovely shade of black. 


A Buss from Lafayette, by Dorothea Jensen, is a fun and fascinating read.  Jensen weaves threads of historical fact within this coming-of-age story that will resonate with young audiences on many levels.  Readers will love the tale of the highly relatable Clara and may even learn a thing or two about why Lafayette was so highly esteemed in American in the 1800s.  This book is 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

Monday, March 6, 2017

Jumpin' the Rails, by Sheila W. Slavich, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Aleks and Adam have grown up together as best friends and fail to see the difference in the color of their skin.  But when they accidentally find themselves transported to the 1860s they experience first-hand what it's like to suffer the atrocities of bigotry in the south at a time when slavery was the norm.  So when Aleks returns to the present but discovers Adam is still trapped in the past, he is gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of his friend.  Desperate to find where and when Adam is, Aleks tries to return to the past so he can bring his friend back to the future.    This fast-paced story is full of fantastic adventures intertwined within real-life historical events.  Author Sheila W. Slavich breathes life into the events of the Civil War, making moments of yesteryear as real and vibrant as they once were.  Reluctant readers will revel in the story and may even develop a fascination for Civil War history.  Recommended for home and school libraries, Jumpin' the Rails 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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Great Green Tree And The Magical Ladders, by Stephen Kozan, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


Shea is a ten-year-old girl who takes trouble-making to extremes. How others perceive her behavior doesn't bother her in the least as she seems to derive great pleasure from her antics.  She is so notoriously bad her family has decided an intervention is in order.

Then one day she thoughtlessly squishes a bug.   Not long after, she meets Webster, a bespectacled eight-legged spider, and ambassador of the Grass Kingdom.  She soon discovers that the tree in her backyard is enchanted.  She also learns how her thoughtless actions have hurt the family of the bug she killed.

The concepts of responsibility, bullying, generosity, lying, forgiveness and respect are introduced in an entertaining and engaging manner. Children will enjoy the adventure provided in this wildly imaginative book while parents will love the positive values introduced within.  The Great Green Tree and The Magical Ladders is a lovely tale filled with delightful talking insects and birds.  This is a book to read and enjoy again and again.


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

The Day I Ran Away, by Holly L. Niner, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Sweet joy, warm fuzzies and happy thoughts abound in this fanciful book about a day in the life of a little girl who has experienced an abundance of frustrations one after the other.  At bed-time the child shares with her father the unvarnished details of her day.  As she prattles along he offers a sympathetic ear while she recounts the traumatic events leading to her impending departure.  From her beloved shirt being in the laundry, to learning the cupboards were devoid of her favorite cereal, she holds nothing back as she explains why she felt the need to take leave of her home on that very disheartening day.

Author Holly L. Niner's endearing depiction of a precocious young girl, and her father who shows perfect love and compassion, is one that is sure to warm the heart of readers young and old.  Whimsical illustrations by Isabella Ongaro are perfectly paired with this delightful book which earns our recommendation for home and school libraries everywhere.  Look out Alexander and the Terrible Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, there's a new book in town and it's earned a very special place in our hearts and on our book shelf.


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

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Author Spotlight, Sally Loughridge on her award winning book, Daniel and His Starry Night Blanket: A Story of Illness and Sibling Love



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
I have always enjoyed writing, but during my career as a clinical psychologist it initially took the form of psychological reports, custodial evaluations, and teaching materials. With several colleagues, I also co-wrote three books on family change which incorporated many children's drawings.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
When my children were infants, I made each a "starry night blanket" which became favorite security objects. We took our infant daughter and later our baby son up the hill behind our house and, in introduction, lifted each to the sky. "World, this is our daughter (son). Daughter (son), this is the World." I used the concept of a starry night blanket in my book as an object providing visual continuity for the reader and as a symbol of Daniel's developmental growth, in terms of how he uses and needs his blanket. It seemed natural to include the blanket in the book's title.
I first published Rad Art: A Journey Through Radiation Treatment (American Cancer Society, 2012).
I did not think about creating another book until my experience having cancer propelled me toward "paying it forward."  Rad Art: A Journey Through Radiation Treatment was an "accidental" book rather than intentionally planned. It shares the private visual and written daily log I kept during radiation treatment for cancer. Creating a small painting in 20 minutes or less immediately after each of 33 treatment sessions was a personal strategy I devised to help me express and better understand my intense and unsettling emotions about having cancer. Only later did I agree to share it as a book.
I created my second book, Daniel and His Starry Night Blanket: A Story of Illness and Sibling Love, which won a Gold Medal in the Literary Classics International Book Awards Program (Picture Book/Preschool Category), as a way to bring attention to very young children who are emotionally impacted by illness in an older sibling. My experiences as a clinical psychologist, cancer survivor, and now professional artist underlie the development of the book – both in words and illustrations.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
As the child of a curious father and artistic mother, I've always loved solving problems and creating things. In college I initially wanted to be a philosopher because I was so drawn to ideas and the mysteries and conundrums of life. As an offshoot, I began studying psychology, especially developmental and clinical psychology. All of these studies were also no doubt in pursuit of understanding myself. I later switched my major to psychology because it resonated with me emotionally as well as intellectually.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"Dad borrowed a microscope to show them cells from plants and animals. Daniel pretended they were Kate's cancer cells and yelled at them, 'GO AWAY, RIGHT NOW!' Then the whole family roared, 'GO AWAY, RIGHT NOW!' in their biggest voices. Soon they were laughing together."
I like this quotation because it depicts the father helping the children learn about cells and Kate's cancer. It also communicates Daniel's desire to chase away his sister's illness. And together, the family members find empowering humor in the situation as they yell at the cells.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I identify with the children and their parents, each trying to cope with their emotional response to Kate being so ill. I have great empathy for sick children and for family members who may feel ill-attended and left out. The mother in my book no doubt reflects my own way of parenting my children — hopefully with kindness, acceptance, and guidance.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I want readers to understand more fully the impact of pediatric illness on each person in a family, not just the ill child. I want the book to give young children encouragement to express their feelings in such a tough situation, increase empathy for healthy siblings as well as an ill child, and support parents in the challenge of juggling the needs of all their children.
TELL US SOMETHING RANDOM/INTERESTING/FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
Neither of my books was created in a traditional manner — straight-forward "writing" per se. The first, Rad Art, evolved from a private visual strategy I devised to help keep myself steady during cancer treatment. This material only later became a book when professionals and friends repeatedly urged me to share my painting and written log to help others on the same journey.
I created my second book, Daniel and His Starry Night Blanket: A Story of Illness and Sibling Love, by painting an illustration and then crafting the words to accompany the picture. I would get an idea about how to visually portray an interaction in the family, and after creating the painting, would find the verbal narrative to go with it.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Among children's books, I have always admired Maurice Sendak's work and Judith Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible Horrible Very Bad Day. Both authors have whimsy, wit, and warmth. 
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
I am widely read and cannot pick just one book!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Perhaps completing my dissertation! More seriously, I don't think of myself as having literary accomplishments, but just someone who has created several books that are compassionate and visually appealing resources in tough medical situations.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
My writing often evolves out of my painting, which centers and calms me. This state then allows words to arise and take shape as a description or a narrative. I am trying to become more lean in both my painting and my writing, leaving greater space for viewer and reader interpretation and reaction.
Sometimes a painting will inspire a haiku. Now I am trying to reverse this by experimenting with writing haikus, which may then inspire paintings.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
For Rad Art, I decided that I would actively try, literally for a week, to find a publisher. I knew this was insufficient time, but I was ambivalent about putting my private cancer story out there publicly and very busy in my art career. I am so glad that I contacted the American Cancer Society during that trial week, because the book director responded positively within several days. Having learned subsequently from readers how much the book has helped them, I am now very happy I shared my story.
Finding a publisher for Daniel and His Starry Night Blanket: A Story of Illness and Sibling Love was quite different. I tried for a number of months and gathered some rejections. But along the way, I found that many people, both professionals and those personally touched by pediatric cancer, saw the book as potentially very helpful to families. My strong belief in the project's worth propelled me toward self-publishing. In spite of the high cost and the huge challenges of marketing, I am glad that I went forward.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION/PUBLISH DATE/OR OTHER OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
When I finally saw the first printed copy, I breathed deeply and rested for a couple of days!
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
· Believe in your project, or don't proceed!
· Don't rush any of the stages of getting your manuscript ready for publication.
· Accept and embrace that creating a successful book entails far more than writing.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
· Promote your book in multiple arenas — print, social media, blogs, talks, signings, and more.
· Identify your niche audience and find ways to reach them.
· Don't assume that being on Amazon.com is enough to get your book out there.
· Carefully pick and use key words online.
· Be involved and patient during the marketing process.
· If you are shy about promoting your book, remember that marketing is key to anyone discovering (and buying!) your book.

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

Monday, February 13, 2017

Skinny White Freak, by Paul Haddad, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


Growing up in the 70s in California meant baking in the sun, while slathered in baby oil, catching rays for that golden tan considered a prerequisite for looking one's best.  But Adam Lipsitz can't catch a break.  Not only is his skin entirely pigment challenged, he also takes gangly and geeky to bizarre extremes.  He might just as well paint a bullseye on his forehead to alert bullies looking for an easy target.  Add to this his list of prior summer camp fiascos and one can easily imagine his apprehension at being shipped off to suffer six weeks of hell at Kamp Kickapoo.

Skinny White Freak, by Paul Haddad, is an often snarky and entirely entertaining coming-of-age tale of a teenaged boy who has finally reached his bullying threshold.  Pushed to his limits he digs deep within to find a resolve he didn't know he had.  Often witty, occasionally heart-rending, but always honest, this book offers an introspective glimpse into the tender frailty of youth.  Skinny White Freak is a triumphant exploration of the weaknesses and strengths of the human spirit and a book that will resonate with readers of all ages.


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

Author Spotlight - Beverly Stowe McClure on her award winning book, Under a Purple Moon



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
When I was teaching fifth-grade, we read Newbery honor books. Seeing how much my students enjoyed the stories, what great reports they did, sometimes even dressing like the main character, I started wondering what it would be like to write stories young people loved. So, I took a writing course and discovered that writing a novel was even better than reading one. That was almost 20 years ago, and I'm still writing.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? A ballerina or an opera singer.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE? One day, a girl (I hear voices a lot) whispered in my ear that her mother criticized everything she did and all she wanted was her mother and father to love her. So, Eden's story was born, the story of a broken family and their struggles to find that elusive word: love. 
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"Who's to argue with the butterfly?"
It's hard to choose just one line but this one is a theme throughout the story about butterflies granting wishes.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Josh is most like me. He keeps his troubles to himself, not wanting to bother others.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I hope teen readers will see from the story that they are not alone in their troubles. They can get help, from friends and from school counselors. Others do care.
TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I laugh about it now, but was rather annoyed when it happened. My first book signing at a bookstore, they forgot I was coming. They apologized, of course, and hurried about setting up a table. In the meantime, I wandered through the store and decided to talk to customers. So, I pushed some popular author's books to one side of a table, put my book beside them and gave out my freebies to people that passed by. A lot of them talked to me. We had fun. Finally, my table was ready and I even sold a few books.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Gone With The Wind
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
One of them is winning the Children's Literary Classics Award. Five of my books have been honored with other awards. My historical fiction for teens also won or was a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards, Next Generation Indie Publishing Awards, Sharp Writ Awards, and Reader's Favorites. 
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
No. I just write better in the mornings.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
I got published the hard way, without an agent. I sent lots of queries to publishers and agents.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I smiled, said, "Finished," and searched for a publisher to submit it to. No special celebration. Then the acceptance letter arrived in my mail. I was happy. 
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? I have 14 other books published and short stories in 3 Chicken Soup for the Soul Anthologies. 
These are the latest: 
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
I started writing articles for children's magazine and they were published in Humpty Dumpty, Ladybug, Clubhouse Jr. and others. My accomplishments in the magazines gave me the confidence to submit to book publishers. I received a lot of "no thanks" letters, but I never gave up. I learned from the editors' comments what wasn't working and studied to improve my writing. All I can say to aspiring others is "Never give up. Be tough. Learn what the publisher wants. And send it." 
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Promotion is tough for me. I'm very shy and hate to seem "pushy." So I hesitate when talking about my stories. I'm working on doing better. I have two blogs, belong to Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Book Bub, Lit Pick and Library Thing. I watch what other authors do to promote their books. I love contests. Helping my writer friends promote their work goes both ways; they help me in return. I read their books and write reviews. There's so much to do.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Just hang in there. Take it one day at a time. If a former non-reader like me became a reader and a writer, you can do it too. A prayer helps.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Three other stories are in various stages, mostly rough drafts.

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