Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Susan Signe Morrison on her Words on Wings Award-Winning Book, Home Front Girl



Joan Wehlen Morrison and Susan Signe Morrison


WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? Both my parents inspired me as they were professional writers. My dad wrote an Organic Chemistry textbook that was the standard for decades. My mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison, was an oral historian who wrote two books.


DO YOU HAVE ANY QUIRKY OR FUN WRITING HABITS?
Well, when I write at home, my little corgi Gwen barks to be let in and out all the time. It gives me lots of exercise!


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
After the death of my mother—Joan Wehlen Morrison—I found her diaries and poetry from when she was a teenager in the late 1930s and early 1940s. I edited these documents to create Home Front Girl. It started out as a family project, but I soon knew it was important historically and sought out a publisher. Her writing is beautiful and lyrical, leavened by moments of self-irony and humor.

Age 16, Joan on the first day of WWII September 1, 1939 
at summer camp—before she had heard the news!


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?

In 1939, when Joan is 16, she has a conversation with her classmate, Fraser, about heaven and hell and what they want to have done with their bodies after they die.

He: “I saw a cremation once!”
Me: “Oh—what was it like?” (I wanted to ask how it smelled, but he thinks I’m crude as it is.)
He: “Oh, it was behind a glass wall and it shriveled up and . . .”
I: “Oh—Oh!” (thinking rotting in the cool sweet earth is more natural)
He: “And then . . . etc., etc.”
And so we reached the locker room and I staggered to Modern Dance.
I love this passage because it is just what a 16 would think about and say: death, bodies, and worrying what Fraser will think. And, of course, that final punch line about staggering to Modern Dance class. I also adore performing this section at book readings. My husband, Jim, personifies Fraser and his earnest demeanor so thoroughly that the audience is in stitches (we are, too!). If my husband can’t come to a reading with me, I always enlist the help of someone in the audience and we have a fun time.

Joan's engagement photo 1943 at age 20


Susan Signe Morrison (on right) with her mother, Joan Wehlen Morrison (on left) 2005


Susan Signe Morrison (photo credit: Mary Rath)


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
We should show compassion, even to our so-called enemies.


IF YOU WERE STARTING YOUR JOURNEY AS AN AUTHOR TODAY, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY?
Sometimes I think one’s writing journey goes the way it must at the time we experience it. Try not to regret what you didn’t do and celebrate what you do accomplish or make progress on.


WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST TIP FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Never give up. My novel, Grendel’s Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd-Wife, won the Words on Wings Book Award for young adult fiction in 2016. It took me seventeen years to complete!


CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
In addition to maintaining a lively blog and social media presence, do contact your local bookstore, library, and/or school. Personal contacts are often the best way to get your work out there.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I love having written a novel (see above), but working on my mother’s diaries is the greatest joy my writing has given me!


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
To pay for college tuition with the proceeds. No, seriously, to affect the hearts and minds of my readers.


WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Grendel's Mother: The Saga of the Wyrd Wife Winchester, England: Top Hat Books, 2015.
· Winner: Words on Wings Book Award for young adult fiction, a Literary Classics Top Honors Award 2016. Literary Classics Seal of Approval
· Finalist in Adult Fiction: 2016 Wishing Shelf Book Award
· Finalist: 2014-2015 Sarton Literary Award for Historical Fiction
· Finalist: Foreward Reviews' 2015 Indiefab Book of the Year Award: Historical (Adult Fiction)

A Medieval Woman’s Companion: Women’s Lives in the European Middle Ages Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2016.
· Winner: Gold Medal in College Nonfiction from Literary Classics
· Winner: 2016 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award: Bronze Medal in Women’s Studies; Honorable Mention in 2 categories: Adult Nonfiction and Young Adult Nonfiction.

The Literature of Waste: Material Ecopoetics and Ethical Matter NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Excrement in the Late Middle Ages: Sacred Filth and Chaucer's Fecopoetics The New Middle Ages Series. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Women Pilgrims in Late Medieval England: Private Piety as Public Performance London: Routledge, 2000.


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes! Joan’s poetry is coming as a chapbook with the title Another Troy by Finishing Line Press in 2020. Also, having taught in the former East Germany in the 1980s, I am currently working on a book about my Stasi (secret police) file which has some unusual (and false) assertions.



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

Friday, March 20, 2020

Author Spotlight, Courtney Leigh Pahlke on her Award-Winning Book


WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? 
I always wanted to write a novel one day but didn’t know what I’d be writing until I was on bedrest for nearly two years from a distracted driver. June of 2016 I was rear-ended at 55mph while I was at a dead stop, suffering serious neck and back injuries. My previous normal routine after work would have been running long distance, rock climbing, and volleyball to list a few. Sometimes I’d do two of the three in one day, so it was difficult for me to face bedrest for an extended period. Several months in my depression was swallowing me whole and I was willing to try anything that would help with inflammation so I could get back to life. One of my best friends suggested trying the “blood-type diet.” I found my blood type on one of my hospital forms but when I google searched it, I saw pages upon pages of creepy conspiracy theories claiming I had “alien blood” along with other bizarre websites. I spent close to a year researching the topic and saw there were not really a lot of books on the topic of the RH-negative bloodline. My brother suggested I start writing as an outlet. I had back surgery April of 2017 and when I got home, I started pouring everything into my first novel; Life Force Preserve; Anna and the Resurgent of the Precious Blood. I was in a very dark place in my life and after so much pain and time continued to pass, I didn’t know when or if I’d ever get back to life. Therefore, I daydreamed about a series that would allow me to help others through relatable traumatic life events as well as allow me to research locations and settings from around the world— places that would keep my mind occupied and potentially visit when I was healthy again. The Life Force Preserve series will have eight “character books”, where my readers are inside the minds of each character and in each country. Each novel takes place at the same moment in time from the various countries. Once the character series are complete, the characters from each novel will be brought together for the main, three-part series. I’m hoping to have an interactive audience where I’d like to poll them on which country the next character will be from, among other ideas, which I’d like to implement interactively with my readers. It’s important for me to get readers involved through my writing process as I grow as an author—they’re important to me and including them in the book development phase will be fun! 

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUIRKY OR FUN WRITING HABITS? Not sure my publisher would want me sharing this, because I may sound like a weirdo and we laugh at this. But, I have a bizarre way of writing. I’m sure a lot of authors prefer sitting somewhere with a view and I’m as opposite as one can get from a scenic view. I’ve tried it recently and I knew it wasn’t my thing. First, I must be sitting in complete darkness and I’ll light a candle or two. I have to wear earplugs and will play a scary movie in the background—which I keep muted. Not sure why I have to have a scary movie on because it’s not like I’m watching it and not sure why I wear earplugs, because the movie is always muted. I think I like the dark, so I can build a colorful scene around me and see it without distractions around the room. I’m a pantser and this is the best way for me to develop a scene. As for the scary movie, I tend to gravitate towards Stephen King’s films and other books that have turned to film, so I believe I do this as a motivator. If I slow down, I’ll look up and see the hard work of another dedicated writer which inspires me to keep going, especially during the later chapters of the book.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY? I’m not sure why, but I remember laughing so hard when writing this line... the Shrek part of this sentence from Chapter 4. I had a post-op herniation in my lower back and had to take a break from writing this scene because laughing hurt my back so badly. I guess it’s the first line that comes to my head. Leading up to my back surgery, my nerves on both sides were severely compressed where I was unable to walk without applying pressure to the bottom of both butt cheeks and this is how I felt I looked when I’d have to be in public. "To an onlooker, I’m sure I stand out. Most women in their early twenties wouldn’t be out in freezing climates, staggering down a sidewalk, unless they’re coming home from a crazy all-nighter. I’m walking down the sidewalk like Shrek after eating a jar of bath salts. The sun’s barely up, and I’ve scared a pedestrian—good for you, Anna." 

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? Aside from the relatability when it comes to grieving through different hurdles in life, there may be more to blood types than we think.  Not many people even know what their own blood type is. Scientists discovered there being an RH-positive (85% of the world) and RH-negative blood (15% of world) as recent as the 1930s, after patients would get sick from blood transfusions. We may have only scratched the surface with what the proteins in varying blood types are capable of. The month my book went into production, the New Nork Times released an article on blood proteins and HIV cures, which I actually used as an example in my book. Note: the Delta 32 gene is the same as the CCR5.  What I wrote: “My colleagues and I were working on serums derived from the CCR5 Delta protein found in an Interhybrid’s blood. My division specifically worked on a treatment and cure for the HIV virus. Individual departments are created at headquarters for virus-specific strains, and I was assigned to the HIV virus.” “There’s a cure for the HIV virus?” “Yes, it’s in the middle stages of testing for approval.” Cindy hands me a plate. “How on earth did you link blood types to virus cures?” 

IF YOU WERE STARTING YOUR JOURNEY AS AN AUTHOR TODAY, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? I would have started marketing from the very beginning. It’s another hat to wear while writing a draft, but it’s an important one. 

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST TIP FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS? Don’t give up. Write everyday. Network, encourage, and spend time with fellow authors, as they can relate to the different stages of writing. Also, I’m not sure I believe in writer’s block. I believe if I’m stuck, it means I’m not happy or bored with what I last wrote and may need to go back and throw a twist instead. 

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? It sounds strange but start promoting your book from the early stages. It will help you stay on course. Take advantage of having free sources such as social media. 

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? As a new author, I would say completing my first novel and publishing it. I accomplished one of my life goals. 

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To be able to write full time and to turn my series into film. 

WHAT ELSE HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?  I write a column for a national automotive magazine which allows me to incorporate my passion for writing with my family business

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I do. I’m almost finished with Life Force Preserve; West End William (series book 2). I’m hoping to have the book out soon. 



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

Monday, March 9, 2020

Author Jackie Minniti on her Award-Winning Book, One Small Spark



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I've wanted to be a writer since I was a child. As an avid reader, I wanted to be able to create characters and stories that would capture the imagination the way my favorite books captured mine. Reading was such a joy for me, I wanted to share that joy with others.


DO YOU HAVE ANY QUIRKY OR FUN WRITING HABITS?
I like to listen to Gregorian chants while I write. It puts me into the zone and makes it easier for me to screen out distractions.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? I was reading a book about the American Revolution called Legends and Lies: The Patriots, and I came across a chapter that told about the Christopher Seider incident. Even though I considered myself fairly knowledgeable about history, I'd never heard of this boy and the influence he had on the Revolution. I tried to find a book about him and was surprised to discover that, although he was mentioned in a few places, no one had written his story. I thought it was sad that someone so pivotal to the course of our nation was all but lost to history. Since I had just written Jacqueline, a middle-grade historical fiction(and another Literary Classics gold medal winner!), I thought that 11-year-old Christopher would make a perfect protagonist for another middle-grade novel.



WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"What good's everythin' else if you don't have liberty?" (Spoken by Christopher Seider)  This is my favorite line because it sums up the theme of the novel and the feeling of the patriots who were willing to give their all for liberty.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?  I'm someone who believes that what we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat. As a former teacher, I'm disturbed by the lack of knowledge about American history that seems so prevalent today. I hope that One Small Spark will "spark" an interest in history among young readers and help them understand and appreciate the sacrifice that was made by so many to give them the freedom they now enjoy.

IF YOU WERE STARTING YOUR JOURNEY AS AN AUTHOR TODAY, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY?
I'd probably start sooner! I waited until I retired before embarking on my new career, and I regret that it took me so long.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST TIP FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Find yourself a good editor - not your mom or a friend who teaches English, but a real, impartial and brutally honest professional who will be that extra pair of eyes every writer needs. It will make all the difference!

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
That's probably the most difficult aspect of being a writer because it takes time away from writing. I've found that giving presentations at schools, libraries, and book clubs is a good way to sell books. And don't forget social media. If done correctly, you can get the word out to a large audience with very little time and money.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
My proudest moment was when I put the first copy of my book, Jacqueline, in my father's hands on his 99th birthday. Jacqueline was based on an experience he had while stationed in France shortly after D-day. It was the only war story he was willing to share and he really wanted me to write a book about it. He was so happy the day I gave that book to him! He passed away six months later, and I feel blessed that I finished it in time for him to read it.


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
I want to inspire a love of reading in young people so they can experience the joy that only a good book can give.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
(PLEASE PROVIDE LINKS FOR PURCHASE IF APPLICABLE):

Project June Bug       

Jacqueline       

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I've completed an outline for another middle-grade historical novel, but I had to put that on hold because I was asked to head a project creating a K-8 English/Language Arts curriculum for homeschoolers. It's quite an undertaking, but I plan to get busy on that novel as soon as I finish!



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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Author Spotlight - Dr. Bon Blossman on her award-winning book, Behind the Mirror (Book One)




WHAT/WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? My father was a surgeon who wrote poetry as a hobby. He ventured on to writing a novel, and I was amazed by the process and learned from him.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUIRKY OR FUN WRITING HABITS? I still use a spiral notebook to get started with my outline. I am old-school!

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? I wrote a murder mystery game called Murder Behind the Mirror for my murder mystery game company. I was so interested while writing that game, new ideas spawned from the game to the premise of the book series. The game was only a seed of an idea, and the book series is entirely different.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"I lost my balance and tumbled toward the mirror, but as my hand connected with the glass, it pushed through the surface into a colder, electrically charged space."

This is the moment that Ella, while chaos ensues around her, discovers the world on the other side of the mirror.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
I hope young teens can get inspiration from the book series and learn from Ella's courageous decisions to take on and embrace the challenging quests ahead of her.

IF YOU WERE STARTING YOUR JOURNEY AS AN AUTHOR TODAY, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY?
I would not. I realize you need many years of learning and growing as an author before you find yourself, so I wouldn't.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST TIP FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS? Write every day. Write because you love to write.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Social media is your best bet. Grow an audience, engage with them, and do free giveaways and promotions on occasion to keep them on their toes.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? I have made it to the first 'best-selling' page of various search terms on Amazon for different books, and that always feels amazing. Also, being recognized by organizations such as Literary Classics for my work is my greatest literary accomplishment. I feel honored and proud each time I win an award, as it gives me the confidence to press on with my next book.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To keep doing what I'm doing because I enjoy it. If someone likes the story - that's even better!

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?

Wormhole (Behind the Mirror Trilogy, Book 2) 

Blood Dolls (Volume 5)

Shillingstone Witch (Volume 4)

Fatal Souvenirs (Volume 3)

Order of the Black Moon (Volume 2)

Foster Manor (Volume 1)

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes, my son (Zakk Myer) and I are currently working on a creepy collection of short stories. After that, I plan to finish the Behind the Mirror Series.



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

Friday, January 31, 2020

Author Spotlight, D. A. Brittain on her award-winning book, Judah’s Scepter and the Sacred Stone


How did you get the idea for your award-winning book?
Initially, I envisioned my first novel as a young adult fantasy. But over time as I studied the Bible, I was drawn to write an adventure and love story which would entertain like a good fantasy that also included an inspirational story of faith. Specifically, I was intrigued by the Bible’s narrative of Israel’s patriarch Jacob, and the stone that he used as a pillow when he dreamed of a ladder rising into heaven and heard the voice of God. Over the years I read many legends and myths surrounding this sacred stone that some believe traveled with a prophet and a princess from Israel to Ireland. My interest in the Bible and the ancient legends became the inspiration for my story.

What is your favorite line from your award-winning book and why?
That’s an easy question to answer. “The archbishop placed a purple-velvet-bound Bible in the king’s fingers, then prayed: ‘Our gracious King, we present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords. Here is wisdom. This is the royal law. These are the lively Oracles of God.” This is my favorite because I do believe that the Bible is the word of God that can transform lives as it brings its reader into a relationship with their Creator. This line from my book’s epilogue comes from a scaled-down version I wrote of the United Kingdom’s coronation ceremony that’s conducted in present times, almost exactly as it has been for the past 900 years.

Which of your characters from your award-winning title do you believe is most like you and why?
Parts of me are most like Teia, my main character. Some of what I wrote at the time about her, what she felt and said was based on my feelings and words. Teia also has dreams and desires for her life but sets them aside to follow the plans that God has for her, regardless of what she may suffer or lose along the way. But then, in the end, she realizes that no matter what trials she’s faced, she never needed to doubt that God was with her and would always be guiding her path.

What message do you hope readers will glean from your award-winning book?
Well, I hope while reading a heart-pounding adventure, and sweet love story, readers will also take to heart the story of faith that might give them hope and comfort in knowing that there is a God who loves them and there is a purpose for their life.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I guess it began with my life-long love of reading. I’m grateful for all the great stories I’ve read since I was a little girl up until now, so to be able to give someone else that kind of enjoyment from a story I’ve created, well, that’s a dream come true. I’ve had stories in my head since I was fourteen when I first started writing poetry and then short stories, but I always dreamed of writing a novel.

Who has had the greatest influence on your writing style?
I honestly don’t know. I don’t think there’s been anyone that’s influenced my style. For me, it may have come more from the fairy tales I read when young. I still love the words, “Once upon a time.” I don’t have a favorite fiction author. Although, I do read a large amount of biblically-based fiction, some mainstream YA and adult fantasy, and occasionally YA and adult Sci-Fi. I enjoy escaping into a good story that takes me to a far-away time or to make-believe worlds. I think that’s why I wrote a story with a bit of a fairytale feel to it.

Tell us something about your experience as a writer:
While writing Judah’s Scepter, there was a time when I was being told (in my head) to make one of my characters evil. I liked this character and wanted them left as a moral person. However, the voice in my head kept telling me that person was heartless and I needed to write them that way. I began to argue with myself! I finally gave in and changed the character and modified some of the storylines. And because I did, the overall story became much better.

Tell us a little about your writing process:
I don’t make an elaborate outline or create detailed character descriptions before I begin to write. A general overall idea comes to mind before I start, and then when I write, I see the setting and characters in my head and hear them speak. I become immersed in their world. As I continue to write, more characters arrive on scene as the story takes on various twists and turns and new plotlines emerge. Often, I’m unaware of what will happen to some of the characters. I usually know my ending, but what happens in-between can even be a surprise to me!

Also, because I write historical fiction, I spend a significant amount of time on research. I spend months reading books, studying maps and perusing information found on official historical websites.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
That’s easy to answer; Finding enough time to write. The desire to write is always there. However, like most people, I have a busy life with many commitments to family, friends and church activities. All of which are very important to me, but often leave little free time for me to write. But I do my best to write as often as I can.

If you could be compared to a well-known author, who would you most want this to be?
That’s a hard one for me to answer. I’ve never thought in those terms. William Goldman wrote The Princess Bride, which was a book I really liked, as well as loving the movie. However, he wasn’t a writer of religious fiction, as I am. I honestly can’t think of anyone to compare myself to. I’ll leave that for the readers to decide. Publishers Weekly chose Connilyn Cossette’s Out of Egypt series as similar to my book. I thought that was a nice comparison.

How did you get published?
After waiting seven months and hearing nothing from a traditional publisher who had my manuscript, followed by another publisher informing me that I had to change a lot of what I wrote, or they wouldn’t publish my book, I decided to go it alone and self-publish. It was a lot of work, but in the end, with the help of a wonderful editor and creative cover designer, I was very pleased to have my story published the way I wrote it and envisioned it in print.

Can you offer any advice for writers on how best to promote their book?
It seems like everything keeps changing, so if you don’t have a publicist and are going it alone, for now, I’d advise writers to set up an author’s page on Goodreads, which is owned by Amazon. There, they can run giveaway contests and advertise their book to Goodread's millions of members. Also entering, and hopefully winning respected contests, like Literary Classics, is an excellent way to receive recognition and promotion for your book!

And finally, acquiring good editorial reviews from leading industry organizations like Publisher’s Weekly can provide creditability for the professional quality of your book. Editorial reviews can be included on your book cover, website, Amazon and any other retail sites and social media sites an author might have.

What has been your greatest literary accomplishment?
The commercial part for me would be, that as a first-time author, having Publisher’s Weekly select my book for review and then to receive a good review still feels a little unbelievable. I’m also very grateful for the awards my book has received. But what really means a lot to me are the thoughtful and positive reviews and emails I’ve received from readers who have enjoyed my book. Bringing joy to someone else through my writing feels like a wonderful accomplishment.

What are your greatest literary aspirations?
For now, it would be to complete the second and third book in the Judah’s Scepter series. Through my stories of adventure and romance that I hope entertain, I also hope and pray that the readers will find themselves drawing closer to God. That’s why I write.

Tell us something people may not know about you that they might find interesting:
Hmm. I’m not sure what they would find interesting. One thing I could share is that I’m an introvert at heart. I’m more comfortable sitting alone and writing in my home office; more than I would ever be speaking in public! I’m okay in small or medium-size groups but speaking before a large crowd … that’s not for me. Sounds terrifying! But I’m learning to step out of my comfort zone to do whatever I’m called to do.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
I guess I would like to tell them how much authors appreciate hearing from them. After what might be years of putting your heart into a story, and the long road to seeing it published, it’s always nice to know that someone else has enjoyed what you’ve created. So, when a reader takes the time to rate a book, write a review, or send a short email to an author, it’s always greatly appreciated.
Do you have any new books in the works? If so, tell us a little about your next book, when it will be available, where it can be purchased.

Yes, I’ve almost completed the first draft of the second book in the Judah's Scepter series. This story takes place mostly in thirteenth-century England and the Holy Land. It’s another adventure and story of faith with a sweet romance between a Jewish maiden and a Christian knight. The final crusade to the Holy Land also plays a part in this story. The sacred stone will return as I follow the historical records and write about England’s King Edward I, bringing the stone from Scotland to England and commissioning a chair, a throne to hold the stone that was used then as it is now, to crown the British monarchs. If all goes as planned, editing and the cover design will take place with publishing by early to mid-2020.

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

Monday, January 20, 2020

Author Spotlight - Daniela I. Norris on her award-winning book, Premonitions



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I always knew I wanted to be a writer, ever since I learned to read at the age of five. However, I also knew that I needed to live and gain experiences that I could write about. My inspiration came from magical realism and inspirational authors, such as Paulo Coelho, Hruki Murakami and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUIRKY WRITING HABITS? I love writing first thing in the morning (sometimes as early as 4am) in my pyjamas. Once the day starts and everyone is awake and life goes on outside, it's never the same!

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? I experienced a past-life-regression and later trained as a past-life-regression therapist; not because I believed in past lives, but because I wanted to explore the connection between generations, life lessons and the possibly pre-determined role some people have in our lives!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY? I don't have one favorite line - it's like asking me to choose my favorite child! Impossible.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? I would love my readers to keep an open mind and to enjoy the story that includes different lifetimes in different eras, but to consider that perhaps this life is not everything there is!

IF YOU WERE STARTING YOUR JOURNEY AS AN AUTHOR TODAY, WOULD YOU DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY? I don't believe in regrets. We each have our journeys for a reason, they make us who we are.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST TIP FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS? If writing flows out of your fingertips onto the keyboard and the computer screen, or into a notebook, let it flow, make time for it. If it doesn't, show up anyway, and wait until it does!

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Attend writing events, meet readers (and other writers, and support them), become part of a writing and book-loving community. I believe in personal contact, although of course social media has its place. But not instead of meeting readers, and other writers, and engaging with them in events!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Finishing five books. I still can't believe I've done that!

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I'd love to write books that can help people who are lost on their life-journey, or are going through a difficult time in their lives, find their way. If my books can inspire and help readers through difficult times, then my mission would be accomplished.

WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?

Recognitions (prequel to Premonitions)

Collecting Feathers: tales from the Other Side a collection of short stories

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes! I am currently working on the third novel in the Recognitions series, titled Precognitions. It will wrap up the story started in Recognitions and continued in Premonitions, but is also a stand-alone novel.


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

Friday, January 10, 2020

Author Spotlight - Krysten Lindsay Hager on her award-winning book, Landry in Like



HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I have taken ideas from my own life growing up for the Landry character. In this book I wanted Landry to go through the struggles of speaking up for herself, dealing with friendships and how to handle outgrowing a friend. Landry has grown a lot throughout the series and she wants to stay friends with her longtime best friend who hurt her feelings, but there’s not just a mistrust there, but the fact that as the two girls have grown, they’ve also grown apart. I wanted to show that you can evolve as a person without leaving anyone behind, but also without holding yourself back. That was a theme I never saw in books when I was growing up; I believed drifting apart didn’t mean moving on, but rather meant losing a relationship.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
It would be the line Landry says about going to the pool, because there’s an age where swimming goes from having fun in the pool to feeling awkward about being seen in a bathing suit and feeling judged. I shared this line on social media and had so many comments and messages over it from women and girls of all ages who have felt this way. “When did that all change? I remember being so excited to go to the pool. Swimming and having fun. When did it get all awkward and become about what we look like in bathing suits or with our hair wet?”

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU?
Landry is most like me because she has gone through many of the same situations I did and she has my sense of humor. She’s a bookworm who overthinks and she keeps her sense of humor in even the most anxious moments in life.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
I’d like my readers to see how important it is to stay true to yourself and your values and to appreciate what makes you unique. Growing up I often wanted to be more like other people because I felt different--even my interests were different. I wanted to fit in more than anything and I now realize it’s what makes you different that makes you special.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
I loved to read growing up and I always thought it would be amazing to impact someone’s life the way my favorite authors impacted mine.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I would say Judy Blume, as she really gets to the way tweens and teens feel. While reading her books I could see she felt what her characters were feeling.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I had an experience where I was on a talk show and was asked if I had gone through an experience like Landry where I felt insecure and left out. I was on live TV and realized I was about to expose a side of myself that had been difficult for me, but I knew I needed to so the readers would know I had experienced these issues firsthand. It was awkward and uncomfortable, but ever since I have shared experiences like that I find more and more people reach out to me to share their own experiences.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
I don’t outline, but if I’m working on a series then I have an idea where I’m going with the story. I make playlists for all the stories I work on to inspire me and use notebooks to jot down ideas and dialogue. I also keep a Pinterest board for each story I work on and then make it public when the book is released.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
Probably marketing. I think most writers would just like to focus on writing as the business side of things is not what we prefer to work on, but it’s part of the business.

HAS YOUR WORK BEEN COMPARED TO ANY WELL-KNOWN AUTHORS ?
I had a review compare me to Ann M. Martin and one say my work reminded her of Melody Carlson, and that meant a lot since I respect their work so much.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I was in a group for freelance writers and two of the women were writing fiction as well and shared that they were happy with their publisher and I filed that name away for down the road.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
I think being yourself is best so people know what to expect from your writing. Sometimes I see someone online and their persona is so different from what they write and it throws me. It’s like when an actor who is known for being funny and lighthearted on a show goes on a talk show and is serious and so unlike their character that you feel taken aback.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I think when I had my first sequel published and I could say I had a series. That had always been a dream, but it was one I never thought would come true.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
To reach more readers and to keep putting books out that people want to read.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I do tons of research for my rockstar romance series, The Cecily Taylor Series, and I have watched and read tons of music biographies. I’ve learned so much and discovered a lot of singers from the past that I’m a big fan of now.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
I write upper middle-grade books as well as clean young adult fiction. I’m also working on writing women’s fiction as well. I love reading (and watching) mysteries even though I don’t write them, but Landry loves them as well. In fact I have a Nancy Drew-type series she’s obsessed with in the books that’s also a video game.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Middle grade: 
True Colors
Best Friends...Forever?
Landry in Like

Young adult: 
Next Door to a Star
Competing with the Star
Dating the It Guy
Can Dreams Come True
In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety

AVAILABLE AT: AMAZON, BARNES AND NOBLE, BOOK DEPOSITORY, WALMART,  AND INDIEBOUND

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes, I’m working on the next book in my clean teen romantic comedy series, The Cecily Taylor Series, about a teen who gets the chance to be in her favorite singer’s music video and they begin dating. I’m also working on some women’s fiction.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety, hit number one on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for young adult humor books. It’s the second book in my rom-com series and in this one Cecily gets the opportunity to model in New York and see her teen rock star boyfriend, but it’s hard being in high school and dealing with keeping their relationship secret and reading about all the girls who want to date him online—not to mention the relationship gossip! It’s a fun take on what it’d be like to date your dream crush.


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

Author Spotlight - Claire Fullerton on her Top Honors Award Winning Book, Mourning Dove



HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? From growing up in the South! I grew up in Memphis, and wanted to write about that particular side of the South that I rarely see written of, which is to name the manicured, genteel side of the South with its nuances and social mores that are now a bit out of fashion, as Memphis has grown and the times have changed. I also wanted to write about the binds that tie between siblings and how they impact the rest of our lives.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? "If one knew with certainty that life's defining moments came wrapped in a bow in the arms of good fortune, one would fundamentally trust the life process and go skipping out to greet each day in the blind faith that no matter what, all things work together for good." I like this line because it is the first in a paragraph that muses upon the ambiguity of life, in all its variations. 

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? Millie Crossan, who is the narrator of Mourning Dove. She is in awe of her charismatic brother, Finley. I grew up in awe of my brother, Haines.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? The message is a big one. Mourning Dove's themes are a search for place, a search for identity, and a search for God. Its message concerns the question of who is in charge in the shaping of a life.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I never aspired to being a writer, I simply got in touch with the fact that I am one!

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? - PLEASE ELABORATE: I love the work of the author Pat Conroy, whom I had the pleasure of meeting. Conroy's gift for lyrical, descriptive prose inspires me because it is language at its loftiest. I think language is important.

TELL US SOMETHING RANDOM/INTERESTING/FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: I saw the actor Sam Elliott at a party and just so happened to have Mourning Dove with me. When I gave it to him, he gave me a kiss!

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: I write on Microsoft Word and when I'm involved in the writing of a book, I write every day as much as I can. I keep this pace until the book is finished, then I show the manuscript to my agent, Julie Gwinn, of the Seymour Literary Agency.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? I don't feel challenged by anything having to do with writing. I write in scenes, and the only thing I can report is that I sometimes take my time pondering what the next scene should be.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? Pat Conroy, because of his use of language.

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT? Firefly Southern Fiction brought me to the attention of my agent, Julie Gwinn. It was a backwards process, because I mistakenly submitted without an agent. Eva Marie Everson, Firefly's acquisition editor, liked my book so much, she brought me to the attention of Julie Gwinn. Julie read the first three chapters of Mourning Dove and offered me representation. She was instrumental in getting my following book signed.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? I think doing as much in person as you possibly can goes a long way. Bookstore events, book festivals, literary conferences, and always enter contests. Everyone knows how to work social media, so this is a given. But meeting readers face-to-face goes a long way.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? The four awards Mourning Dove has won. I'm very proud of the Words on Wings Award by Literary Classics, as it is one of them!

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To continue to live the life I am living now and hoping my career will grow as I reach more readers.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOU PEOPLE MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I am a ballet teacher. I taught a ballet/Pilates mat class in Malibu for ages and a few celebrities came regularly. I also had a nine year career in music radio. 

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Yes. I narrated the audiobook of Mourning Dove and loved every minute of it. I have a Memphis accent, and since Mourning Dove is set in Memphis, it was a perfect fit! If you want to hear a real, old-world Delta accent, listen to Mourning Dove's audiobook. Also, because I have to mention them: I have two German shepherds-- one male, one female, who run the show of our Malibu home!

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
Dancing to an Irish Reel ( which is set in rural Ireland, where I once lived.) 
Mourning Dove is my third novel, and I have another release in May 2020






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

Author Spotlight - Stacie Haas on her award-winning book, Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee




HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Many years ago, a friend of my father’s gifted me an old stack of his Civil War magazines. He’d known I was a Civil War buff and thought I’d enjoy them. On the back of one of them was an article titled, “An Oriental Yankee Soldier,” and it introduced me to Cpl. Joseph Pierce, a Chinese soldier who served in the Fourteenth Connecticut infantry in the American Civil War. I was surprised and excited to learn about him as I hadn’t known there were any Chinese Civil War soldiers. I have Chinese heritage, so I was excited by that representation. Years later, after taking several courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature, I decided to write his story for young readers.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"You’re too young, and besides, there ain’t no such thing as a Chinese Yankee.” This line is spoken by Robert, the protagonist’s older brother, early on and it sets up the entire premise of the book. Can a Chinese Yankee find his place in an America embroiled in a war fighting over the issue of slavery and the meaning of freedom?

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
The protagonist, Thomas, is most like me. I relied upon many of my own experiences as a person of color to write the more personal, emotional aspects of his growth journey.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I hope they understand that America, even in the midst of a great battle for freedom, is the land of opportunity for all people.

WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
It wasn’t a person so much as the process of writing itself. From a very young age, I wrote things down to figure things out. I often couldn’t wrestle with a problem or understand how I felt about something until I formed my thoughts into the written word. When I later discovered that I could tell stories in a compelling way, I was hooked. It’s challenging, but there’s nothing like the feeling I get when I’ve done it successfully.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? - PLEASE ELABORATE:
Every book I read influences me in one way or another. I love reading books of all genres, but especially books that I’d consider “page turners.” I often ask, ‘how did the author do that?’ I’m always learning from the wisdom of other authors.

TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I don’t know how interesting it is, but I often write with my youngest strapped to me in a baby carrier while standing up at my kitchen island. It’s a bit like sausage-making; it’s not always the prettiest process, but it’s what works for me in this stage of life!

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
I start with an idea. I am always eager to jump right into the writing, but I find that I benefit from a little time spent plotting as well. I like ‘loose’ plots, where I am free to take the story where it naturally goes during the writing, but also a plot in which I know the climax I’m working toward.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
My greatest challenge is finding the right kind of time. I’m a wife and mom to four kids, ages 14 to 1, and I also have a job in the communications field for a Fortune 500 Company. I work hard to carve time into my day (and nights), but it’s not always possible. I try to make every second count. I also carry a notebook around with me so I can jot down inspiration for new stories wherever I am.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
That’s an incredibly tough question. There are so many fantastic authors out there and I don’t know that I can be compared to any of them yet. Doesn’t everyone want to be the next Kate DiCamillo?

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I participated in a Twitter #pitmad event in which I had to pitch my book in 140 characters or less to attract agents and publishers. I was fortunate to get several likes from both. That led to my first two requests for full manuscripts and eventually led to my contract with Melody Press, the kids and teens imprint of 50/50 Press, Inc.

Before that, however, I had to write the best book I could. I did multiple edits—and got professional feedback. The key to my contract, I think, was nailing the first chapter. I’d struggled with it from the very beginning and I think it contributed to my early rejections. Once I “fixed” it, that’s when I finally started to see interest.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
I’m still figuring this one out. I’m finding that the upper middle grade market is a tough one from a sales perspective. My publisher is a wonderful small, independent publisher but it doesn’t have the reach of the big six that get near-automatic ins to bookstores and the school market. I’m also in a part of the country that heavily relies on the use of Accelerated Reader quizzes for book recommendations, but neither I nor my publisher was initially aware of how to get a book considered for AR quizzes. Hint, it has to be done pre-publication.

I’ve run some Facebook ads and gotten what I feel is a good amount of good publicity in local papers and such. I’ve also entered my book into award competitions like Literary Classics’s, believing that recognition would be helpful in selling my book. I’ve been most successful in reaching out directly to teachers and administrators in schools.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Winning the Literary Classics Gold Medal for Coming of Age Upper Middle Grade fiction and the Silver for Upper Middle Grade Historical Fiction! What an honor. Beyond that, finding a publisher to bring my story to the world. I work with a collaborative, author-centric publisher in 50/50 Press, Inc. and I’m grateful to co-owners for seeing promise in my work.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
To write books that both entertain and educate readers. I’d love to write a best-seller someday and find a way to write creatively full-time, but until then, I am happy to share stories from the heart and have the opportunity to inspire people.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I love cheering on the sports-teams of my hometown. My favorite two teams are the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. I’m a long-suffering fan, to say the least!

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes. I’m working on a young adult book and another middle grade story—both inspired by my life and that of my kids.





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

Author Spotlight - Regan W. H. Macaulay on her award-winning book Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  I volunteer with the Toronto Humane Society, and when I was working to enrich the animals in the Special Species Department, I noticed that all the turtles (and they were all Red-eared Sliders at the time) had a great deal of trouble getting adopted.  Some had already been there for a year or more (there are some there still since the book was published), and though THS has created wonderful habitats for them to thrive in during their stay there, it’s not the same as having a permanent home.  I wanted to create a story that would teach kids and their parents about the responsibility and commitment involved in caring for a pet like this, and if they determine they can properly look after a turtle its whole life, to adopt one that really needs a home.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?  I like when one of my Painted turtle characters explains the following to Tamara when she finds herself in Painted turtle territory:  “When the wrong kind of animal is in the wrong place, it throws everything off.  Painted turtles could disappear, and too many Red-eared Sliders would take their place.” I think this is a good way of introducing the idea of invasive species and the problems they cause to young children who may not have thought about that kind of thing before.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?  Well, I will go ahead and choose one of the human characters, since I am not a turtle (and I don’t face the same challenges pet turtles do), and that would be the Herpetologist who adopts Tamara and her Red-eared Slider friend Apple.  I am not a professional Herpetologist, but if I wasn’t a writer and had to choose another career, Herpetology would be high on my list!

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  For parents (and children, once they’ve reached an age where they can make the decision to adopt their own pets) to realize that Red-eared Slider turtles, and really any pet turtle or pet reptile, is a high maintenance, high commitment pet.  They need to do their research before adopting this kind of animal (and adoption is often more helpful than shopping—it’s not just for cats and dogs!) and make an informed decision based on their lifestyle, and the costs and effort involved.  A turtle should never be an impulse purchase.  They need a well-equipped forever home.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?  I’ve been writing ever since I was six years old, but meeting Emily Hearn, when she came to my public school as a guest instructor while I was in 6th Grade, was probably my biggest inspiration, particularly with respect to picture books.  I wrote and illustrated a picture book I called “Down, Out and Around for Beverley” as my assignment for that class, and a many times revised version of this book later became my first published picture storybook “Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese.” 

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? E. B. White, A. A. Milne, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and dozens of others have had an influence on my writing, but I feel that I’m finding my own voice.  All the styles I’ve read over my lifetime have influenced my writing.  It’s all those authors in one great big globule!  

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: Sometimes I sit down with a notebook to brainstorm, other times I have to go on a long walk to get the ideas flowing.  For the first draft, I try to let the ideas flow freely, without judging—I save that for the revisions later.  I’ll often create a schedule for myself, setting up a certain number of chapters on certain days (usually every other day, so I have breaks in between).

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?  Perhaps learning the business end of things—sustaining writing as a career, whether it’s part-time or full-time, the marketing and promotion involved, all that stuff.  There are plenty of creative challenges, but getting myself out there and making a real go of it is what I’m personally finding to be the biggest challenge.  Writing and revising the stories is the fun and more natural part of it for me.  There’s a big learning curve on the business end of it, as far as I’m concerned.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE?  I would love to be compared to any of the authors who have influenced and inspired me.  One reader mentioned they were reminded of "The Hobbit”and "Lord of the Rings" with one of my picture books (“Sloth the Lazy Dragon”), so that’s obviously very cool!

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?  I kept submitting (to publishers).  With the advent of print-on-demand, giving independent and smaller publishers a chance to flourish, I was able to find homes for my books with publishers willing to take a chance on me.  

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?  I recommend promoting any awards with the use of award-seals.  Use them on your cover and on your promotional material.  Not only does having a publisher or agent give you a bit of an edge or cache, so will award-seals.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?  So far, getting my first book published.  I think there’s much more to come.  I really feel like I’m still in the beginning chapters of my writing career.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?  I hope to continue winning awards and getting reviews from various prestigious sources (including Literary Classics, of course!), but I also want to grow a big ol’ wide readership in both my children’s writing and my genre literature for adult readers.  It would be wonderful to get something adapted to the screen (big or small), particularly the middle-grade chapter book series I’m working on.  Most of all, I would like to be able to earn a part-time income (minimum) and keep on writing until I’m dead! 

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:  I am also a Certified Canine and Feline Massage Therapist—I run a small mobile business called Kuri K9 Massage.

WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
(PLEASE PROVIDE LINKS FOR PURCHASE IF APPLICABLE):   Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese

Sloth the Lazy Dragon” (a Literary Classics Seal of Approval Honoree)



DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?  Yes.  I expect to publish another picture book next year called “Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana” with Mirror World Publishing (this one is co-written with my husband, Kevin Risk, and we have Gordon Bagshaw on board as our absolutely AMAZING illustrator).  I am also working on a series of middle-grade chapters books, which I am currently finding a home for.  And future picture books and novels are rattling around in my mind, naturally.

You’ll find “Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana” on Mirror World Publishing’s website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and all the usual places probably around the Fall of 2020.  


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