Sunday, March 24, 2019

Great American Book Festival Brings Agent Pitch Sessions to Rapid City

-Rapid City, SD
As anyone who has ever dreamed of becoming an author can attest, the world of publishing can be quite intimidating.  First, there’s the task of crafting a manuscript.  Then there’s the oft-told tale of trying to find an agent and publisher.  Then, once the book is ready for production, there’s the chore of promotion.  All in all, the prospect can be as exciting as it is unnerving.  The Great American Book Festival, now in its second year, is bringing the GABfest Writers’ Conference to downtown Rapid City once again.  Free and open to the public, local authors, aspiring authors, and those who are just curious to learn more about the world of publishing are invited to attend a full day of conferences in May. 

The GABfest Writers’ Conference will be held on Friday, May 10th at the Dahl Arts Center, in the John T. Vucurevich Center.  There are a variety of sessions to appeal to those in all stages of their writing career.  There will be an authors’ round table session in which attendees are invited to participate in a Q&A with seasoned authors, all of whom are recognized in their field.  Other sessions include topics on self-publishing, book marketing, writing tips and strategies, and how to find an agent and get published.  There will even be a session by local author, Dorothy Rosby, on writing and revising for humor.   

One exciting new addition to this year’s conference will be the opportunity for authors and aspiring authors to attend live agent pitch sessions.  Pitch sessions allow individuals to meet one-on-one with agents to propose a completed manuscript.  This is a rare opportunity and not to be missed by those seeking representation.  Quressa Robinson of Nelson Literary Agency from New York, and Jennifer Flannery of Flannery Literary in Chicago will offer private sessions throughout the day of the conference on Friday, May 10th.  Because space is limited, these sessions are by reservation only and include a small participation fee. 

In addition to the writers’ conference, other events include the 2nd Annual GABfest Lit Walk, a literary-themed pub crawl which begins at Firehouse Wine Cellars and ends with live music and literary readings at Hay Camp Brewery the evening of May 10th.  The main event is, of course, the Great American Book Festival which takes place on Saturday, May 11th at downtown Rapid City’s Main Street Square.  Featuring nearly forty authors (local and from around the world), Great American Book Festival events include readings, book signings, performances, kids activities, and food vendors. 

Jennifer Flannery, Flannery Literary

Quressa Robinson, Nelson Literary Agency



As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the Great American Book Festival is funded in part by the generous support of the following organizations: i2i Technologies, Literary Classics Book Awards & Reviews, Author.Pub, Firehouse Brewing Company, Denny Menholt Rushmore Honda, Denny Menholt Toyota, Firehouse Wine Cellars, Hay Camp Brewery, Who’s Toy House and Wobbly Bobby British Pub.  To learn more visit GABfest.info.


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

Monday, March 11, 2019

Pterodactyl Show and Tell, by Thad Krasnesky, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Pterodactyl Show and Tell, by Thad Krasnesky, is the tale of a young boy who brings his pterodactyl to school.  As the day progresses, his pet unwittingly frightens everyone in the third grade . . . students and teachers alike.  Crazy antics ensue, from the playground to science class, and everywhere in between.  This wonderfully imaginative book is sure to incite riotous laughter as it entertains readers of all ages.  Comical illustrations by Tanya Leonello are a perfect addition to this book which is sure to become a favorite for kids and adults.

Altogether whimsical, and utterly delightful, Pterodactyl Show and Tell 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

My Afrikah Hair, by Melanie L Houston, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



My Afrikah Hair, by Melanie L Houston is a wonderfully empowering book which promotes a healthy love of self and one's heritage. Going beyond self-acceptance, to embracing pride in the traits that make one unique, this book is beautifully written and gloriously illustrated.   Told in verse, My Afrikah Hair helps readers of all ages find strength in their lineage as they are reminded of the beauty in a majestic African mane, along with all that entails.  This book has many lovely layers, all of which point to the fact that God's creatures are fearfully and wonderfully made in his image.

Recommended for home and school libraries, My Afrikah Hair has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. 


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

Friday, March 1, 2019

Author Gregory A. Fournier on his award-winning book


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
The Ypsilanti, Michigan Historical Society asked if I would take on a Depression era cold case that has troubled Ypsi residents for over sixty years.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? "Always remembered. Nerver forgotten. May it be so." The last line encapsulates the book's intention.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
Sometimes police know who a guilty party is, but without evidence, justice is short-circuited.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? 
James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE? 
Stephen King and his only nonfiction--On Writing. It's one of the best how-to books about the craft because it is realistic and accessible.

TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Meeting my readers often includes people with personal connections to my nonfiction topics.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: 
I start with paper and pen and gravitate to the keyboard. Usually I choose the lynchpin chapter and chunk other chapters fore and aft. Then it takes five or more revisions and edits before I start liking it.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? 
Managing details and continuity. With nonfiction, it is easy to get lost in the details.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? 
I've worked hard to develop my own voice. I'd rather not be compared to anybody else.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? 
I'm a self-published, independent author with a good working relationship with Wheatmark Inc. in Tucson, Arizona. We've both made money.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? 
Start building an audience with a blog long before you have a book coming out. Blogging is a good way to develop your writing voice. Mine is fornology.com and I'm edging towards a million hits.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? 
Restoring lost history.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? 
Seeking truth and sharing it with appreciative readers.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: 
I like to West Coast Swing and Zydeco dance.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 
I write for a popular and not an academic audience. It's the story of history that people like and not the pendantrophy of footnotes and padded bibliographies.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
All of my books are paperbacks and come in all ebook formats. 
Terror In Ypsilanti has an audiobook too.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? 
Currently, I'm working on a historical fiction on Detroit's Depression era Kosher Nostra--The Purple Gang.  I expect my next book to be finished in 2020 if not before. I'm hoping to broker a distribution deal for this book because it has longer legs than my other books

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

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Percy the Racehorse Who Didn't Like to Run, by M.J. Evans, Earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


Percy is a young colt with a white star on his forehead.  From the day of his birth, his adoring mother began telling him of his purpose, to be a racehorse like his father and grandfather.  But Percy much prefers to watch the butterflies and visit through the fence with the young boy in a wheelchair who brings him sugar cubes.  Percy wants to please his mother but begins to wonder if he might, perhaps, have another purpose in life.

Multi award-winning author M.J. Evans has crafted this charming children's picture book which is sure to become a favorite with readers of all ages.  Lovingly penned, with vibrant illustrations by Gaspar Sabater, Percy The Racehorse Who Didn't Like to Run is highly recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.


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

Friday, February 15, 2019

Home Front Girl, by Joan Wehlen Morrison, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


Joan was an extraordinarily bright and insightful young girl growing up in Chicago at the advent of the second world war.  She had a profound love of literature, an introspective outlook on relationships with the opposite sex and was an extremely gifted writer.  After Joan's passing in 2010, her adult daughter (award-winning author, Susan Signe Morrison) discovered Joan's diaries and other collections of her writings, which she skillfully compiled into the literary treasure Home Front Girl.  This book offers a wonderfully unique and genuinely honest glimpse into the life of a precocious young girl during the tumultuous time leading up to and during World War II.  A fascinating and entertaining read, Home Front Girl is equal parts wit and grit.  Readers of all ages will delight in the verbal meanderings, assertions, and contemplations of Joan Whelen Morrison as they follow her through her early teens on up to young adulthood.  Recommended for home and school libraries, Home Front Girl has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.


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

Friday, December 21, 2018

Author Luke T. Harrington on his Award-Winning Book


Luke T. Harrington










WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
My failed American Idol audition. I was like, “Welp, I can’t sing. Let’s try writing.”


WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING - PLEASE ELABORATE:
That honor probably goes to the instructor I had for Fiction Writing 101 in college. He made it clear that, above all, writing is hard work, and not everything that comes ~from within~ is necessarily good. I forgot his name, though, so I guess I’m a jerk. Oops.


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I think I owe Pfizer a dollar, or something. They had the audacity to release Chantix, a stop-smoking pill that apparently causes schizophrenia-like symptoms as a side effect. When I first read about it, I was like, “Hmm, that would make a great premise for a horror novel, if I threw in some ghosts, Shakespeare, and poop jokes.” So I did.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“It’s one of those giant SuperBalls, the kind that when you first see them you think are going to be even better than the small ones, because, well, they’re bigger. But then when you throw one you find out it actually bounces less high and less fast than they do.”

If that doesn’t perfectly capture the wisdom and disillusionment that comes with age, I don’t know what does.


WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I actually feel like my three main characters form sort of a Freudian triad. Ophelia, my protagonist, is my ego; Sara, my villain, is my id; Kate, my mentor-type, is my superego. Because who doesn’t love Freud?

I mean…who doesn’t like Freud. As a friend.


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
“There are more things in heaven and earth,” etc.

Also, “Don’t murder people.” That’s a good lesson.


TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
Don’t ever try to sell your book as “literary horror.” It turns out no one wants to read “literary horror.”


IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
C.S. Lewis. He was intellectual but still accessible, logical but still spiritual, imaginative but still grounded. Also, he wrote about centaurs. Who doesn’t want to write about centaurs?


WHAT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
I think the objective answer here is “the day I was born.” It’s hard to think of something that had a greater impact on my life than that.


HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
The most obnoxious way possible: I just carpet-bombed the world with copies of my book until I found someone interested. I think I sent out something like 200 queries before I found a handful of small presses that were willing to give Ophelia a shot.


IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Just sit down and write every day. There’s no trick to it.


CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Man, I wish—I’ve had zero luck in actually selling this thing. The best advice I can give is to take advice from someone smarter than me.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Convincing people that I’ve actually read Moby Dick.


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
I hope to one day actually read Moby Dick.


TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I once sailed a schooner through the Mediterranean.

Not, like, by myself. I was a crew member, and it was part of an academic program.

Also, I was probably kind of dead weight as a crew member. But I was technically there!


IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
You all should buy a Nintendo Switch.


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I do! One novel and two nonfiction projects. My interests and efforts are kind of all over the place these days. That’s a surefire way to launch a successful career, right?

…right?





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

Author Kevin Foster on his Award-Winning Book



HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOU’RE AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
I got the idea for my devotional book by following the life and times of an Old Testament Bible book named Ruth, a story of widow women. Naomi moved to the land of Moab with her husband and two sons. After her husband dies, the sons marry and subsequently die, leaving the women childless. Ruth, one of the daughters-in-law, returns to the Promised Land with Naomi, her mother in law, and begins a new life, while the other daughter-in-law remained in Moab. Ruth met and married a prominent wealthy man and she bears him a son named Obed, who is the father of Jesse, who is the father of David, king of Israel.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.” (Ruth 1:16-17). This is a verse taken from the book. It speaks of relationships. Everyone has relationships in this life, some are more entrusted than others. Ruth learned the value of true friendships and relationships, and that’s what I wanted to express in the book. This verse is used for many marriage ceremonies throughout the world.


WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I am like Ruth. My former relationships died in Moab symbolically. It was only after I journeyed to the promises of God that my life and relationships became alive and fruitful.


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s road, there is a relationship of love, peace and rest found in the promises of God.


TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I suffer from dyslexia and I refused to let that defeat me as a writer.


WHAT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? The Bible is the book that has had the greatest influence on my life. My mother, and Dr. Herman Wright are the two persons whom have had the greatest influence on my life. Living in Liberia West Africa is one of the greatest journeys of my life.


HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I found my Publisher online. I called him up, send him my transcript, he read it, and wanted to publish it.


IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Hold a thought and write about it every day.


CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Social media, and great book contest like the Literary Classics Book Awards!


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Finishing my first book. Receiving an award for that book, and feedback on how my book has inspired and changed the lives of those who have read it.


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I would like to write and publish an inspirational book every two years and travel the world as a result, to teach, inspire and encourage others about the things of God.


TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I traveled the world as a skateboarder and a break dancer and was paid to do so. I was the principal dancer on six national TV commercials. I’m both a Physician Assistant and a Nurse Practitioner. I had brain surgery to remove a tumor and I am a cancer survivor. However, a greater challenge that brings me joy is being married with five children.


IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Look to God for all your needs.


WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? The Gospel According to Jonah: A Call to Obedience, 121 Days of Devotions, is my second published book in a three devotional book series.


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? My third book in the three devotional book series will be, The Gospel According to the Song of Solomon, This is a devotional book on the love of Christ, marriage, relationships and fruitful living.  This is my second published book in a three devotional book series. It follows the life of the stubborn, rebellious prophet Jonah. It demonstrates the mercy of God by saving an entire nation. The book also shows the passion of Christ Jesus, for the world.

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

Author Chess Desalls on her Award-Winning Book






WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
I’ve been writing all my work life, but I didn’t start writing fiction until 2009. I wanted a new challenge and found I enjoy storytelling as much as reading.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Travel Glasses began as a short story. Ideas for the title and otherworldly time traveler, Valcas, popped in my head at the same time. As I continued to write, the story outgrew a short story word count. By the time I had a rough outline for the second book, I knew it would become a series.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“I began to realize that I could go wherever and whenever I dreamed.” – Travel Glasses
In the context of the novel, this quote describes the main character’s reaction when she discovers how to use the travel glasses to move through time and space. Personally, this line is meaningful because it represents what it feels like to me to be a writer who can create my own story worlds.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I recognize components of my personality in many of the characters, even Edgar, Valcas, and Romaso. Readers have asked me if Calla’s like me because she’s the main character, but our adventures and family lives are quite different.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
The Call to Search Everywhen series highlights conflicts between privacy and self-preservation, as well as the development of meaningful versus illusory relationships. At the heart of it, I hope to engage the reader on themes of love and trust.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I still attend open mics every now and then to read excerpts of my stories. The more listeners smile and laugh, the more animated I get.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
Peter S. Beagle—but, I don’t think I’m there yet. Beagle’s writing and his ability to connect with both children and adults inspire me. I have a similar admiration for C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling.

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
All my books are indie published, which I love because it gives me a lot of creative control. I’d previously sent query letters to two agents. Both responded with kind words for me, but I could tell that being accepted and going through the process would take a lot longer than releasing books on my own.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Write what you love. Sure, there will be those who don't like what you write. Don't be afraid to share it anyway.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Newsletter ads, such as BookBub, have given me the greatest return on investment. But don’t stop there. Marketing is just a form of reaching out and connecting with people. Before publishing anything, I spent time with other writers. From there, I’ve tested various online and social media platforms dedicated to readers and writers, entered book award contests, obtained editorial reviews, and spoken on writing panels. Live meeting groups, including South Bay Writers and Allied Indie Authors—Northern California, have provided tremendous support.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 




DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I’m editing Darker Stars, the first installment in The Song of Everywhen, a sister series to The Call to Search Everywhen time travel books. Darker Stars is scheduled to release in January 2018. I’m also working on the second and third parts of my Glistens collection.


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

Janelle Diller & Lisa Travis on their Award-Winning Children's Book Series


Pack-n-Go Girls Adventures 



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
Janelle: I’ve always loved books. Always. Even as a child, I loved books so much that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’m lucky to be living that dream. In addition to Pack-n-Go Girls, I’ve written ten other books, including The Virus, a political thriller that was a Colorado Humanities for the Book finalist; Never Enough Flamingos, a 2017 Kansas Notable Book selection; and its sequel, Never Enough Flamingos.

Lisa: I guess I was always a writer, but I didn’t really know it. When I was in 5th grade, I wrote my first book for a class project. It was called The Case of the Missing Diamonds. I’ve always had stories in my head, so I kept writing them down. Then one day I decided it would be fun to share the stories with others. Everyone has stories in their head. What’s your story?

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
Janelle: When I was a junior in high school, I had a student teacher in my English class who did a short-story unit. She loved what I wrote and encouraged me to try to get it published. I sent it off to a magazine, and magic happened: they published it! A month later, another magazine reprinted it. I’ve always appreciated that she believed in me and pushed me!

Lisa: My high school English teacher taught me how to write. All we did for one semester was write the same paper over and over. I didn’t realize until I was teaching communications at University of Delaware what a gift the skill of writing was. I promptly wrote him a thank you note.


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Lisa came up with the original idea. She wanted to stretch the world for kids, to make them curious, and to inspire them to be global kids. Janelle loved the concept and jumped at the chance to be part of a project she could feel passionate about. We love that we’re getting kids to travel the world through a book.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOKS?
Janelle: There are so many moments in all of the books that I love, but if I had to choose one, it would be from Mystery of the Min Min Lights, the Australian adventure. Sheep are disappearing from the Taylor’s sheep station in the outback. And the thief might be something as crazy as a UFO. I love the point in the book where Wendy, the girl from San Francisco; Chloe, the Australian girl; and Jack, Chloe’s younger brother, are huddled in the car while they wait for Chloe and Jack’s mum to go get help for a flat tire. It’s getting dark; the dingoes are barking, and the kids are feeling very nervous about UFOs that might swoop in. Jack, who is only five, tumbles into the back seat and squeezes between the two girls. “I think we’ll be okay if we stick together,” he says. Of course, he feels brave as long as he has two girls on his flanks.

Lisa: The most fun I have in writing the books is playing with different phrases or slang in different cultures. In Thailand, Jess says “that stinks” when Nong May got robbed. Nong May takes it literally to mean it smells, and she is, of course, totally confused. And in Brazil, Júlia loved to tell Sofia “tem macaquinhos em sus cabeca.” She has little monkeys in her head. Sofia looks around for the monkeys while Júlia means that Sofia has strange ideas. It’s just fun for the girls to learn about our own silly sayings as well as others from different cultures. Where do they come from? And why do we say them? It’s a good conversation starter about culture.


WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Janelle: Great question! I find that my American characters tend to be a bit more reserved and nervous—they’re not on their home soil and so don’t know quite what to expect. I end up identifying more with the girls from the other countries. Of all of these, though, I probably identify most with Chloe Taylor, our Australian Pack-n-Go Girl. She’s bold, a bit bossy, and at the same time passionate about the land she’s grown up on.

Lisa: I identify most with Sofia Diaz, our Miami-based Pack-n-Go Girl who travels to Brazil. She always likes to have a plan—but sometimes life throws things in your way. I love that she’s persistent and carries on in the face of adversity. But frankly, I wouldn’t mind having a little more of Júlia Santos’ “don’t worry” attitude.


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
We want to inspire readers to embrace adventure, be curious, value what unites us, and celebrate the differences that make us unique. We want to inspire them to take on our boundaryless world. Ultimately, we want them to become global kids.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
Janelle: Outlines are important. I know we all learned this in third grade, but I didn’t fully understand this until I started writing fiction. My trilogy for adults took four years to write and required a ton of editing. My next novel took five months to write and required far less editing because I knew from the beginning where I was going with it, chapter by chapter. An outline turned out not to be a constraint at all. Instead, it was like having a map to go someplace you’ve never been or just having a general idea of how to get someplace you’ve never been. The former is far less frustrating. I guess I should have been paying more attention in third grade instead of chatting with my neighbors and passing notes.

Lisa: I’d like to think that the first draft of each book is a masterpiece. That it’s perfect. That it’s done. But Janelle doesn’t let me off that easy. She reminds me that every good book is so much better when we work hard to revise it. So, we edit the book. And edit it. And edit it. And there is not enough space here to list how many times we edit it. But it’s A LOT!

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
We’d love to be the Caroline Keene for the early chapter book set. We both loved to read Nancy Drew books. We both loved mysteries. We still do. That’s why we write mysteries. Lisa also loves Scooby Doo.  Janelle isn’t so sure.


WHAT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Janelle: That would have to be my dad. He was an adventure traveler and took our family into the Amazon rainforest, pre-Castro Havana, and the Russian Steppes in January. He taught me to be curious, to live resiliently, and to embrace the unknown.

An iconic moment for me happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, when I was in third grade and my sister in fourth grade. We loved bolillos, that crusty small French bread we’d been eating for weeks. Whatever was left on the table at lunch, Mom dropped into her travel purse, a bag massive enough to hold the daytime lives of two adults, three children and a toddler. One day we walked to the huge plaza in front of the Pink House, the Argentine equivalent of the US White House, to feed the pigeons. My sister told me to bend down just so as we fed the birds because the next year I would see a picture in the fourth-grade geography book of two girls bending down and feeding the pigeons in front of the Pink House.

She was right. Experiencing that moment and then seeing the picture the following August—it was the first thing I looked for in my geography book when school started—gave me the understanding that when I read history or geography books, the people were real. It also built, in an unexpected way, empathy for others. Stories weren’t just stories. They were experiences lived, suffered through, impacted by.

Lisa: There are too many to name. My parents encouraged me to be adventurous and taught me that it was okay to get lost and go where the journey takes you. And National Geographic was a favorite magazine of mine growing up. I spent many hours in the attic sifting through back issues my parents had saved --not sure why they saved every one of them, but lucky for me, they did. I loved where the pictures took me. Back then, I was pretty sure I’d grow up to be a NatGeo photographer. While I still like photography and have photos of my travels hanging in my office to inspire me, I guess writing became more of a passion.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
We’ve tackled this on our own as Pack-n-Go Girls. It’s been challenging to create a high-quality product, brand it, produce it, and market it. The downside is that we have total responsibility for everything. The upside is that we have total control.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Do it because you love it. Don’t do it for the money. That’s a side reward.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
This is the toughest part! We do a lot on social media @packngogirls on Twitter; Pack-n-Go Girls on Facebook and Pinterest, and @packngogirlsadventures on Instagram, get involved with online influencers in our target market such as the Multicultural Kid Blogs and Multicultural Children’s Book Day, and do giveaways on Goodreads. We also attend conferences, do author visits, and connect to classrooms on Skype. This past summer, we advertised on Facebook for our Summer Reading Adventure book club.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
We’re proud of the awards (thank you, Literary Classics, for another great one!) and for the wonderful reviews, we’ve gotten from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Midwest Book Reviews, bloggers, and individuals. Our real accomplishment is in the sweet, genuine thank you notes and fan mail we get from our readers. That’s truly what we live for.


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
We’d love it if our books found their way into every second-grade classroom in the country. (We have teaching resources to make it easy for teachers to use the books in schools.) We want kids to discover the world. If they can’t do it with a plane ticket, they can at least do it in a book. We’re doing our best to make that happen.


TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
Janelle: I’m passionate about traveling. I’ve been to 49 states (Oh, Hawaii, how I long to visit you!) and over 45 countries. This year, I’m adding two new ones to my list. I love discovering countries—the culture, the history, the food, the language, and most of all the people.

Lisa: Traveling builds fun memories that you will have for your whole life. I’ve traveled across the United States in a Volkswagen camper, flown in a Chinook helicopter over Seoul, South Korea, been scolded by polizei in East Berlin, escaped death by jellyfish in the South China sea, danced to ‘Come on Eileen’ in a sketchy Prague dance club, run into the Belgian military at midnight while carrying a torch, signed a “I won’t blame you if I die” waiver to stand in North Korea at Panmunjom, and dined in a dungeon in Spain (well, okay, it was just a cellar storage area, but we were behind bars).


IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
We discovered writing travel adventure mysteries for kids isn’t just something we love; it’s something we feel passionate about. Why? Because travel builds appreciation, tolerance, and empathy for others. Need we say more? Travel also encourages curiosity, independence, and a sense of adventure—characteristics we can never champion enough for our daughters. And because not every child can hop on a plane and travel to a new locale, books are an important way to get us there.


WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
In addition to the Pack-n-Go Girls Adventure series, Janelle also writes for adults. The Virus, a Colorado Humanities for the Book finalist, is a political thriller for these politically thrilling times. Never Enough Flamingos is a 2017 Kansas Notable Book selection. The sequel, Never Enough Sisters, was released this summer. And the final book in the Never Enough trilogy, Never Enough Lilacs was released in 2018.


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Our next Pack-n-Go Girls Adventure, Mystery of the Naga in the Night, is coming soon. It’s the second book in the Thailand series and follows the adventures of Jessica from Boston and Nong May as they explore the mysterious land of elephants, ancient treasures, and golden temples. Our first African adventure will be out in 2018.

Mystery of the Naga at Night: Jess arrives to help Nong May at one of the hill tribe village schools in Thailand. Nong May is happier than ever to see her. For the last week, Nong May has been scared stiff. Every night, she’s seen the mythical seven-headed Naga serpent slithering through the village. And this Naga is not out to protect anyone. It has to be a bad dream. Or is it?

All of our Pack-n-Go Girls books are available in paperback, hardback, and ebook through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and can be ordered by your local book retailers, as well as our publisher, WorldTrek Publishing, 121 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs, CO 80903.





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

Author Wendy Leighton-Porter on her Award-Winning Books



Shadows from the Past




Max's Christmas Adventure



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
When I gave up teaching after almost 20 years, I suddenly found that I had the time for something I’d always wanted to do, and that was to write a book. I knew from the outset that I wanted to write for children, but I had no idea just how much I would love my new career. When the opportunity arises, I really enjoy going into schools as a visiting author to talk to the pupils; their participation and enthusiasm always make it such a rewarding experience.


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
I had a sudden epiphany whilst on a flight from the UK to France. The idea for my Shadows from the Past series just popped into my head, almost fully-formed. I spent the rest of the journey, working out the plot, the characters, and ideas for each book. I couldn’t wait to reach home and start writing.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“Jemima felt sure there couldn’t ever be another cat quite like this one in the whole wide world, and she was right, for Max was utterly unique.”

This sums Max up perfectly. The larger-than-life Tonkinese cat is rather special as he’s able to speak, thanks to a magic owl charm he wears on his collar, and he’s always there to save the children when they get into tricky situations. An amusing character, Max also brings an element of humour into the stories. For me, and for many of my readers, he is the true hero of my stories.


WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I’m probably most like Jemima Lancelot, the young girl who is one of my trio of time-travelers. I’m devoted to my Tonkinese cat, I’m thoughtful and loyal, but I’m not too keen when it comes to doing anything scary. Also, I do have a bit of a stubborn streak – although I prefer to call it determined!


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
As I take my young readers on a magical mystery tour through the past, I'm hoping that my love of history, myth, and legend will rub off on them too. By encouraging them to discover that history can be exciting, I hope to leave them with a thirst to find out more.


TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I once received a message from an 8-year-old, telling me “This is the best book I have read in my whole life.” Her list of favourite books must have been acquired over two years at the most but, it goes without saying that I felt extremely honoured to feature so highly!


IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
Enid Blyton. I hope that my books have a flavour of simple childhood innocence, combined with plenty of mystery and adventure.


WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
I’ve been a total bookworm since I was very young, and all the books I’ve read and loved over the years have left their mark on me in some way. I couldn’t pin it down to just one thing, but I’ve always admired any author who can create a gripping plot, believable and sympathetic characters, realistic dialogue, and can transport me to another place, immersing me so completely in the story that I don’t want it to end – that’s a true gift.


HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I started out with an agent and a publisher, via the usual manuscript submission route, but decided they weren’t working in my best interests. Let down by endless excuses and empty promises, I wasted two years waiting in vain for them to send back the second proof of my book. Eventually, I got myself released from my contract and, through a fellow writer, joined Mauve Square Publishing, an independent publishing group which has about 10 authors in its stable. As writers, we all have ultimate control over our work and are not constricted by tight schedules, whilst benefiting from the security of belonging to a small publishing company.


IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
You’ll never know until you try, so don’t be scared, take a deep breath, and get started. Believe in yourself and enjoy what you write.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
As a children’s author, getting positive feedback from my target audience is the most rewarding experience. When young readers write to me, saying I’m their favourite author, it gives me a lovely warm glow inside. One little girl recently told me she’d already read my latest book 6 times. However, winning awards such as the Literary Classics Book Awards, makes me truly proud of my achievement.


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
My main hope is to carry on writing and that children will continue to enjoy reading my stories. Of course, if someone were also to come along and say, “Hey, these books would make a great movie”, well that would just be an added bonus!


TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
When I’m not writing books, I spend time researching my family history. Whenever I need names for the characters in my stories, I find them in my family tree. Jemima Lancelot, one of my three young time-travelers, was actually my six-time great-grandmother.


IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Max, my feline hero, was my very own Tonkinese cat. Devastatingly handsome, he was a lovable, gentle giant who charmed everyone who met him. Sadly, he is no longer with us, but his legacy lives on in my books.


WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Since the competition, I have published the ninth book in my Shadows from the Past series, The Shadow of the Tudor Rose and another adventure for Max – Max’s Hallowe’en Adventure.


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I’m currently working on the next full-length book in the Shadows series – The Shadow of the Witchfinder.


In these shorter books to accompany the Shadows from the Past series, the time-travelling cat goes on solo missions and this one will lead straight into the next full-length story, The Shadow of the Witchfinder. It will be available on Kindle via Amazon.com and the paperback version should follow soon after.



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

Author, Melanie Hooyenga, on her Award-Winning Book








WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I’ve always loved telling stories. For me, the best part is entertaining others and especially seeing the reaction on their faces when they read my work. So I love hearing from readers! And I don’t understand writers who never read reviews — those are like lifeblood for me.


WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING? Nothing that stands out, but probably because I started writing at a very young age. As a kid I wrote poems, songs, and short stories, then I advanced to novels in my 30s. I’m fortunate that my parents and teachers have always encouraged my creativity.


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? I’ve always loved to ski and I was wrapping up a time-travel trilogy and itching for something light-hearted and fun. The winter of 2014 we got over 100 inches of snow, so while I was trapped inside watching the winter Olympics, the idea for The Slope Rules was born. I’d never written a true romance, so I thought I’d try my hand at a romantic sports novel. And I loved it!


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? This is at the end of chapter one when she’s just met the love interest: “My heartbeat accelerates before I can tell it not to. I don’t chase guys. I am one of the guys. But here, in a different state, maybe the rules can be different.”


I love this line because Cally isn’t used to getting romantic attention from boys, primarily because her group of friends back home don’t see her that way and chase away any would-be boyfriends in an effort to protect her. She keeps thinking Blake is just teasing or making fun of her, but she reacts to him in a way she’s not used to and has to tell herself that it’s okay to be interested in someone, even if they’re on vacation and they know it can’t lead anywhere. Except it does.


WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? Cally, the main character, is the most like me out any character I’ve written. I was always a tomboy, really into sports, and one of the guys—with very few female friends until I was in my late thirties. She’s better at standing up for herself than I am, and I really hope I can be more like her when I grow up.


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? That you need to be true to yourself. There will always be people telling you to do this or that, and not always with your best interests in mind, so you need to know what’s important to you and do everything you can to live up to those ideals. And don’t be afraid to try a backward flip while doing an Iron Cross.


TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: I once fell out of my chair while writing because I was trying to see if it was physically possible to do what I was describing. And I regularly laugh at my own writing. I’m editing the sequel to The Slope Rules now and I literally laughed out loud for several minutes at the ending. My friends tell me that’s a good sign.


IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? I admire a lot of authors so it’s really hard to choose. For me, what I most admire in successful authors is their ability to keep writing good books that speak to readers and aren’t the same cookie-cutter formula over and over. I have a lot of ideas for future books and while they all have the theme of strong female characters, the storylines are very different.


WHAT BOOK / PERSON / INCIDENT HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? I moved to Mexico with my ex-husband in 2007, and on my last day of work in Chicago, one of my coworkers, who was also a really good friend, commented, “Now you can write the great American novel.” I never knew if he was aware that I’d always wanted to write a novel --I stopped writing in my 20s, but I couldn’t work in Mexico, so I set out to learn everything I could about the publishing industry and ended up writing two novels in my three years there. Those novels are safely buried in my computer—Flicker is my third novel—but I will always be grateful for that push to go after my dream.


HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I’m self-published, but I have queried in the past. With my first published novel, I had a lot of agent interest but no offers, so I decided to try self-publishing. That book turned into a series, so I continued that route and decided this is what works for me. I’m also a graphic designer so I’m fortunate that I can do all the work myself, and while it’s exhausting at times, I love having complete control over my career.


IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Sit down and do it. Start with a small goal of 100 words a day and work your way up from there. We all have the same 24 hours in the day, the only difference is what we choose to do with that time. I have a full-time job, I play a lot of sports, and I have a husband and dog to take care of, plus the house, so I sacrifice TV. I watch a few shows, but the list of popular shows I’ve never seen is rather embarrassing.


CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? You can’t rely on social media alone, but build your online presence as soon as you can. A website is a requirement, then pick the 2 or 3 social media platforms you’re comfortable
with and start interacting with people. I do a lot of local and regional events, which I love because I get to meet readers face to face. There’s nothing like the feeling of someone coming up who I met at a different event and they just want to tell me that they loved my book. Also network with schools and libraries since they are the gatekeepers to our readers.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Winning the Writer’s Digest eBook Self-Publishing Award (YA) in 2015 for my first novel, Flicker. Nothing against CLC! I received a lot of publicity for that award, including a mention in the magazine, and it really validated everything I’m doing as an indie author.


WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To be a full-time writer with a consistently selling backlist. But I’m not in a hurry for that. I’m currently the Director of Marketing & Communications for the community foundation in my hometown and it’s my absolute dream job. I work with amazing people who do wonderful work for our community, and I get to use my writing, design, and social media skills. But some day…


TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: My miniature schnauzer Owen has over 16,000 followers on Instagram, while I’m struggling to break the 1000 mark. He’s adorable, but the fame goes to his head sometimes. His account is @superowen_theschnauzer.


IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Just that I’m so grateful for this recognition. Writing is a very solitary endeavor and we don’t always hear from the people who read our work—even the ones who love it. So to be told it’s not only entertaining, but that it’s worthy of an award is very humbling. And if you’ve read any of my books, I’d love to hear from you!


WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?  I have a YA time travel series called The Flicker Effect (Flicker, Fracture, and Faded). You can find them at most online retailers.  And yes, I did the covers! There's also  The Trail Rules, book 2, and The Edge Rules, book 3, in The Rules Series.



DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?  I have more YA ideas, plus a New Adult novel I’m excited to write. So yeah, I’ll be busy for a while. If you’d like to stay informed of release information, the best way is to sign up for my monthly newsletter and check out my website 

I’m also active on social media, Facebook: Facebook.com/MelanieHooyenga Twitter: @MelanieHoo Instagram: @MelanieHo