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

Author Spotlight - Shanalee Sharboneau on her award-winning books










HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK TITLES - My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy, My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl, My Daddy Loves Me: I’m His Little Girl, My Daddy Loves Me: I’m His Little Boy? When my son was born, he had severe reflux. We almost lost him twice. For six months, my husband and I stayed awake 24/7 fighting to keep him alive. In my complete desperation, in the middle of the night, I began to hum a tune. Over time, I would begin to put words to this tune, words that begged him to stay alive and all the things I would do with him if he fought too. The books are literally the song, tailored for each parent and child.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? “My mama loves me, My mama loves me, My mama loves me all life long.” There is nothing stronger than the love for a child. It is completely unconditional. Sometimes, I believe God gives you your children so you can understand how much He loves you. I reflect on this often, particularly when my son is challenging my unconditional love.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? The Mom character of the first book, My Mama Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy, is actually me with my son traveling the world together. It is a true depiction, I am very adventurous. The places you see in the book are either the places I’ve been or the places I dream to go. In the Egyptian scene, there is a secret that most readers will not catch. It was always my dream to become an archeologist, yet I allowed a professor to challenge this dream. The good news, is I did not listen to my 10th grade English teacher. Out of deserved frustration one day, she said to me “don’t ever earn your living writing, or anything dealing in English.” I wonder often what ever happened to Mrs. Eckvall.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? The one thing that ties us all together, without debate or harsh words, is the love for our children. When discussing our children, the playing field levels and we act with great sportsmanship. It is why I believe the book is accepted and cherished all over the world, it is a commonality that binds us no matter when we began or where we end. If we can start there, agreeing on our mission and love for our children, and stay in that moment, we may actually bring about a better world today.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? After my son became well, I wrote down the song I sang to him over and over in his time of need. After a while, I started to wonder if it would become a good children’s book. One week, my life coach ordered me to start living life to the fullest, that day. Begrudgingly, I called the man who had a connection to my now publisher, all because my life coach demanded it. I can say, once you learn that lesson the hard way, you never forget it. I strive to live life to the fullest every day, with that great example reminding me how different my life would be today without just one phone call.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING? Obviously all good credit goes to Mom. When she read my book for the first time, with tears in her eyes, she said “You actually got it”. Of course, she is proud of all of her children, even the middle one. The best thing I can do as a Mom myself, is give the credit to all the parents who came before me and made me the person I am today.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
A good friend’s sister had a friend who was struggling with her newborn. The baby was fussy and appearing to deteriorate rapidly. My friend’s sister called me one day and said “send her a book, please”. I sent the book and forgot about the story. Six months later, I was at a book signing in South Padre Island, Texas, and a woman walked in with her young son. She explained that her son was struggling to thrive as a newborn, and had a friend who requested that I send her a book. Upon reading my bio and my son’s reflux, she went directly to a skilled pediatrician and had him properly diagnosed. In her words, my story saved her son. You can’t get any better than this.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
Since each book is very focused on the beauty of a parent and child relationship, I watch these relationships out in public. You may catch me staring while at a Chinese restaurant, or a grocery store or ice cream shop. First I attempt to capture or understand a relationship. For example, I am currently working on the book “My Grandma Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl.” Once I feel like I’ve captured the relationship, I then ask a trusted individual serving in that role. I ask them all one question, “What is the most important thing you would like to teach your granddaughter, and what wisdom would you like to leave with them after they are grown?” Between the sense of the relationship, and the lessons forwarded through that beautiful relationship, I now take on the challenge to show this in my books and illustrations as I work with my talented illustrator, Israel Dilean. Pictures can say 1,000 words . . . and we work diligently to capture and communicate each word carefully.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? Capturing the relationship of each parent to their child, whether it is a son or a daughter. You see, I am only a mom to a son, and have been a daughter to my parents . . . I have no understanding or comprehension of being a mom to a daughter, a father or a grandparent. When working on these books, it is a task to understand these precious relationships and show the strength of each and everyone, while never having experienced them personally.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE? Many readers of my work say the same thing, it is very similar to “Love You, Forever” by Robert Munsch. Though I was unaware of this book when the compliments first happened, I was truly honored by the expression when each reader compared the series to this book. This book is a legend and loved by many adults who had their mother read this book to them. It’s quite a compliment.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
At a business conference, I met a man whose sister company would eventually become my publisher. I reached out to this gentleman, requesting he put me in contact with the right person within the publishing company. He did so, with the caveat that very few writers ever make it. I understood his valid point and thanked him for the information. I reached out and was contracted with 24 hours. It was a great phone call for me to make a year later when reaching out to my original contact and explaining to him what his information had done for my life. I, of course, thanked him again.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Know it’s all up to you, and do not rely on anyone else to do it for you. You are the person who knows what to do, how to do it, and how to get it done. Do not leave this in any other hands but your own.

After first publishing my book, whenever I would see a crying baby, and virtually tearful mother, I would run out to my car and get a book, sign it, run back into the store and hand it to the child. The child would stop crying immediately, mom would sigh, and I would walk off quickly. I still enjoy doing this today, although I do not do this as much as when the book first came out. These opportunities have brought me great joy, and I believe excellent promotion, though my intentions were pure.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? For generation after generation to read these books to their children, as they were read to them by their loved ones, long after I am gone.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY FIND INTERESTING ABOUT YOU: The degree I acquired in college was a Bachelor's in Science in Mathematics and Statistics. As you can tell, I had no plans to become a writer.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Always know you are multi-talented. You are never only one thing, you are many things, many talents, all wrapped up into one human being. Search for them, enjoy discovering them, and find how you can push yourself into being good in many areas.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? The Grandma series. “My Grandma Loves Me: I’m Her Little Girl”, and “My Grandma Loves Me: I’m Her Little Boy”.








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

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Author Spotlight - A.T. Balsara on her award-winning book, THE GREAT & THE SMALL






Q: How did you get the idea for your award-winning book?
A: One of my favorite books growing up was Watership Down, a story of a warren of rabbits searching for a new home. I loved how by the end of the book, I felt as if I'd lived as a rabbit.

When I wanted to explore the question of what "makes" someone evil, what makes a Hitler or Stalin versus a Mandela or a Gandhi, I wanted to tell the story from an unusual perspective. Rats are creatures who still send a collective chill down the spine of humanity, given their likely involvement as plague vectors in “The Black Death” of the 1400s when half of Europe was wiped out by the bubonic plague.

Unlike the Watership Down rabbits, rats would actually have a shot at taking down humanity…if they were able to organize. Smart, able to chew through concrete and take down your average housecat, rats are formidable opponents. In a fictionalized world, rats would also have the most lethal biological weapon of all time: the bubonic plague. In The Great & the Small, the rats rise up under their charismatic leader, The Beloved Chairman, to declare war upon humanity using death squads of plague rats. As human deaths mount, victory against the “two-legs” seems certain, until Fin, the scrawny nephew of the chairman and lead henchman, gets caught in a rat trap. He is saved from
certain death by a teenage girl, Ananda. Ananda secretly nurses Fin back to health, and over the weeks it takes for him to heal, he realizes to his horror that he has learned to love her. Now Fin must choose: follow his beloved uncle, and continue killing the “two-legs,” including the one that he loves, or do the unthinkable…rebel.


Q: What is your favorite line from your award-winning book and why?
A: When the old and blind rat Balthazar cries out, “Truth! Seek truth!” before the assembled rat colony. Without giving away what will happen next, his heartfelt cry is at the heart of what The Great & the Small is about.


Q: Which of your characters from your award-winning title do you believe is most like you, and why?
A: I would have to say Fin. He is constantly battling self-doubt, and following blindly when he should be listening to his own moral compass. He tries to act righteously, but is easily swayed by those he admires, and goes down a dark road. His one saving grace is his earnest desire to do what is right.


Q: What message do you hope readers will glean from your award-winning book?
A: To seek truth. To think critically about the messages you hear from those in power, whether from political, religious, or social leaders. To develop your own moral compass so that when the next charismatic leader steps onto the stage, with all the accompanying smoke and mirrors, you will see through the showmanship and stagecraft to see the truth.


Q: What inspired you to be a writer?
A: My sister, Michele Torrey, who is an award-winning writer. I had always seen myself as an illustrator and kept bothering Michele to write a picture book manuscript that I could illustrate (newbies that we were, we didn’t know that publishing houses find their own illustrators for manuscripts!). Finally, she got fed up with me asking and told me to learn to write my own. So, I did! To my surprise, I realized that I loved it, and loved it AS MUCH as illustrating. I also found that I had a million stories to tell, and for different ages. Among other stories, I have a picture book about a determined, yet hopelessly innocent guinea pig who dreams of becoming a pirate (Greenbeard the Pirate Pig) and now, with The Great & the Small, a dark story for young adults about seeking truth. They all come from my heart, but from different places within it.


Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your writing style?
A: Probably the books I devoured when I was younger. I loved The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and took to heart the idea that life is a heroic quest for doing the right thing. I loved To Kill a Mockingbird, and how the author immersed us into a small town and showed us truths about ourselves without ever beating us over the head with her message. I loved Watership Down, and its richly layered story told through the eyes of animals. There are many, many other books which have touched me, and changed me. We are all a product of all who have gone before, and my writing is a product of the writers who have gone before me.


Q: Tell us a little about your writing process.
A: I have to let ideas simmer a while, so I have dozens of files with story ideas. As an idea comes to me, I jot it down and throw it in the file. As I’m doing other things, I’m often “writing” or trying to figure out aspects of a particular story. At the moment, I’m “writing” another young adult novel. I’ve got the file set up with its categories, and am puzzling out what will happen, who the characters are, and what I want to explore. I don’t expect to be ready to write for another year. In the meantime, I have another picture book to illustrate, and other stories in the pipeline waiting to be edited.


Q: What is your greatest challenge as a writer?
A: Time management. Once you’ve published something, you have to promote it, and these days you also need a social media presence. Because I also illustrate, any project I do takes me at least double the time. Time management becomes the biggest hurdle, as other things in life don’t stop just because I want to write or draw. The dogs still need to be let out, the cat litter scooped, dinners shopped for and made, not to mention exercising and getting out of the house occasionally! One of my new year’s resolutions is to practice patience. To let go of watching the clock and demanding I finish something by a certain time. I have a little blue heart carved from stone sitting on my desk (it’s in front of me now, while I type) that has carved in it, “Patience.” I’m learning!


Q: If you could be compared to a well-known author who would you most want this to be and why?
A: Because I loved Watership Down so much, and because The Great & the Small has that same sort of feeling, I hope I would be compared to Richard Adams.


Q: How did you get published?
A: I had been told that my book was not commercial enough, that young adults don’t want stories told through the eyes of animals. I did it anyway, but finding an agent proved to be impossible. Most agents want a safe bet, and I was writing outside the norms of the genre. The larger publishers were also unwilling to take a chance, so I turned to small, niche publishers. A new press had opened, called Common Deer Press, and they sounded perfect. I had my manuscript, cover letter, and synopsis professionally edited, and put together the best submission package I could possibly muster. I was either going to hit a home run or die trying. Within a few weeks, I got an email from CDP saying that they were going to publish it. They were (and are) wonderful partners in this journey, and love the book as much as I do.


Q: What has been your greatest literary accomplishment?
A: Putting The Great & the Small on paper. It was a story that had haunted my thoughts for years, with the reasons behind writing the story with me for far longer, since I was 10 years-old. It was a story that I needed to tell, and I wasn’t sure I could get what was in my heart onto paper. The resulting book is everything I’d ever dreamed it could be, and more. The cover design and layout that CDP did added to the story.


Q: What are your literary aspirations?
A: I want to first and foremost express what is in my heart, and share that. I hope that by sharing my stories, I can make a difference in the world.


Q: Tell us something that people may not know about you that they might find interesting.
A: I’m an amateur naturalist, and have planted a pollinator garden in our backyard, and only use eco-friendly products. I admit I can be a bit zealous in my environmental views, and have written countless letters to politicians and signed a million petitions to protect our environment…after all, if we trash this planet, there’s no Planet B! Until recently, I was also a beekeeper until a bad reaction to multiple bee stings forced me to give it up. The bees were fascinating to study and watch. One of my future writing projects is to put my love of the environment and animals into a chapter book series for children.


Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
A: That everyone’s voice is needed, and to not compare yourself with others, but find your own unique voice. Being who you really are is an act of courage. We need courageous people if we are going to turn around the direction our world and earth is heading in.


Q: What other books have you published?
A: I have a list of books on my website, but I have published several for the educational market, including another young adult novel called, The Present. I am the illustrator for the Happy the Pocket Mouse picture book series by Philip Roy, currently on book 4. I wrote and illustrated my picture book, Greenbeard the Pirate Pig, which I already mentioned. Most recently, my picture book, The Nightingale’s Song, was published, a story about a child who dreams throughout one night that they have different skin colors. It’s a book about cherishing the beauty of every child, of every ethnicity, about the power of unity in diversity. All of my books are available on my website.


Q: Do you have any new books in the works?
A: I am currently illustrating the second book in the Greenbeard the Pirate Pig series. I am also researching a new picture book about modern-day slavery, as well as gathering research for a new young adult novel.  Greenbeard the Pirate Pig and the Isle of Lost should be released soon, through FriesenPress. The book will be available through my website, as well as on Amazon and FriesenPress.



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

Author Spotlight- Dayle Dabney on her award-winning book, Corinne’s Fin



HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
I always loved the name Corinne and saved it in my mind as a name if I ever had a 4th daughter….
Erin, Shannon, Meghan, and Corinne?

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? 
I identify with Corinne in several ways in that I have had challenges to face and adapt accordingly.
I hope that readers will adapt to whatever they may view as a loss and rise above it, change their thinking, and move forward!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
My favorite sentence of the book is the final one. “Corinne was FREE, free to be her new self from fin to fin!”

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: 
I was a teacher of young children for 50 years. The children in my class loved stories and I learned to create stories of my own in various ways just by being with them day by day.

As a child, I always loved books with a profound message like The Little Engine that Could. I also admired stories full of creativity like the Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco.

Little by little, Corinne has become very alive to me as we have traveled from one book event to another. I feel as if a true friend, Corinne, is with me in the car and at the book table.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
As a writer, I often write the first draft in a busy place, like a café or library. I am able to block out all the surrounding noise or activity and focus on the story at hand. Revisions are usually done at home on my computer during a quiet setting.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
My challenge as a writer is to leave room for the illustrator for I often SEE all the illustrations in my mind and will specify the details in indirect ways.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Watty Piper inspired me as a child with The Little Engine That Could and still does, for he inspires children to continue to believe even though it may be hard to do so. My stories are intended to leave a lasting message for children long after the book is closed.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I was connected to Cathy Teets of Headline Books for many years as members of the red clay tennis courts in Mountain Lake Maryland and a local real estate company. Years later I contacted her with my story called, Corinne’s Fin, and fortunately at that time she had an experienced illustrator, Ashley Teets. The beautiful illustrations in Corinne’s Fin speak for themselves in vivid color.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
My advice would be to connect with your characters at various levels. Your character then becomes part of you which enables you to be passionate during book events; for you are speaking from the heart.

Awards are important in that they tend to bring recognition to your characters and your story. I was thrilled to win various awards: Literary Classics, Mom’s Choice, President’s Award, London Book Festival and others for Corinne’s Fin. Hopefully, the sequel, Coach Corinne, will continue to carry forth an inspiring message to young children.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? 
I have several picture books with an inspiring message for young children that I hope will be visible in print with accompanying illustrations in the near future.

I love calendars and planning for future fun and adventure. I can hardly contain my interest in many areas: grandchildren, writing, tennis, golf, gospel choir, nature, book clubs, learning, dinner clubs, birds, and the list goes on and on. Corinne’s Fin is also available on my website in addition to Headline Books. I have several picture books ready for submission. The future looks exciting!
Coach Corinne may be on the market by the summer of 2019!



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

Author Spotlight - Laurie Germaine on her Award-Winning Book, Tinsel in a Tangle



HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? I got inspiration from two sources: the portrait Gaye Francis Willard had done of Santa kneeling at the manger, and a puzzle my mom had given me over a decade ago, depicting Dept 56’s North Pole series. I mashed them together with my love for the German language and Tinsel’s story began to take shape.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? How about the one who is most unlike me? Which would be my main character, Tinsel. And I did that on purpose, for I was coming out of a season of depression and needed to immerse myself in a character who tries to stay positive and optimistic despite the mistakes she makes along the way.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? No matter your circumstances, no matter what you hear, you’re not an accident, or a random happenstance, or a mistake. You were created on purpose, with purpose, and for a purpose.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?  Janette Rallison, Kasie West, and Kristin Rae. I’ve been reading Rallison’s books for years and have always enjoyed her clean, light-hearted style. I discovered West & Rae more recently and around the same time, shortly before I buckled down to start on Tinsel. It’s their characters’ banter and wit that influenced Tinsel’s voice and how my own characters interacted with each other.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: I borrow teaching from Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method, combine it with the Mirror Moment and 14 “signposts scenes” from James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle, and throw in a detailed character interview on the side. Thus, before I ever start the actual writing, I have an idea as to who my characters are, their backstory, the lie they believe, and several key scenes. I know where I’m headed and have a decent idea how to get there, but I’ve left plenty of wiggle room for new discoveries along the way.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? Comparing myself to other writers. My journey to publication took far longer than many others, and I’m not one of those people who can churn a book out in a matter of months. I have to remind myself that just because I don’t write like so-and-so, and just because it takes me longer to finish a story than big-name authors doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me as a writer or that I should find another vocation.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I queried over thirty agents and small publishers, and after a nibble here and there, I got a request for a full from one publisher and an offer from another. The former didn’t pan out, so I was thankful the latter was willing to take the chance on an unknown writer pitching a Christmas fantasy as a debut novel.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I’m an avid knitter. It’s a passion that rivals writing at times. Typically, if my writing hits a slump, my knitting takes off. There are many times I’ve questioned if I should be giving that part of my creativity more attention, but so far, writing has always won out.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?  I’m currently working on a sequel to Tinsel in a Tangle, the sloppy first draft of which took me over a year to complete, so no release date yet. But here’s a pitch-in-progress: Someone’s out to destroy Christmas, starting with the reindeer. From opposite sides of the world, two BFFs, along with Santa’s grandsons, must battle the cunning schemes of an ancient power before it sabotages the elf clans and takes out the Kringles, one by one.



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

Author Spotlight - Tayyaba Syed on her award-winning book, The Blessed Bananas


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
It was a simple bedtime story I told to my kids.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
"The more bananas Rico gave away, the more bananas his plant bore." - This is a very valuable lesson for all of us: the more you give the more you get.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU?
Tucana because of her forgiving nature.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Sharing and kindness are universal qualities we all should embody.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
The fact that I didn't see myself in the books I read when I was growing up and even now as a mother.

TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I went into professional writing as an introvert, and now I do so much public-speaking and trainings as a published writer.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS:
I like to do brain dumps and just free-hand whatever concepts and ideas come to me. I love working with outlines and character-building platforms. If I face a writers' block, I like to look at nature and step away from the mundane for a while.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?
Getting over my insecurities.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
I'd like to be compared to Roald Dahl, because he wrote from the heart and with authenticity.

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
I met a publisher at a college where I was teaching a writing-intensive.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Believe in yourself and your work and be passionate about it. Be willing to take risks and step out of your comfort zone.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Being selected as a panelist for Writing Women's Lives Conference at Georgetown University.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
I'd like to write books for all different ages, especially non-fiction books.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I enjoy weightlifting.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Hafsa's Kisses  It's a baby board book about the types of kisses a toddler gives. It will be available through Prolance.



















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

Friday, December 13, 2019

Author Spotlight - Adam Leitman Bailey on his award-winning book



HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
Home came from the combination of the birth of my sons and the memories of my childhood, moving cross-country on the journey to find a new home.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
I cannot write it here as it will give away the ending. But here is part of it: “So the boy ran into his apartment and hugged his parents, knowing that in the entire world...”


Although the book is active, lively, and full of items to discuss with your kids about the journey the boy takes, it is also a heart-warming story. On my reading tour, I have learned from the children many lessons from the book that I never conceived, especially from those readers who have been forced to move or have reasons to really want to move or simply love their current homes. Sometimes the book also reminds readers of their different homes or friends’ homes. No matter how rich or poor, all of the children appreciate the love a caregiver provides. Ergo the explanation for my favorite line.


WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE IS MOST LIKE YOU?
When I read Home to my 4-year-old, Benjamin, and I say “the boy,” he immediately looks at me and says “Benjamin.” So if it fits your child’s demeanor, substitute his or her name. Or if reading to a female say “the girl” instead of “the boy.” The book is for your children and is no longer my baby.

On a much deeper, maybe Freudian level, the boy in the book is a happier version of myself. Home mirrors my childhood in a fun, exciting, adventurous way. At the age of 5, I may have been on a journey searching for a home, but for my unemployed teacher parents moving from New York City to California, these were not good times.


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK?
I am so flattered and amazed at each school where I read the book by the excitement in the children’s voices and movements and hand waving. And I highly recommend that parents be active readers – I included so many things to discuss on each page so parents can ask questions or point out details like the billy goat on top of the small barn house on the farm. But the story is about the love of family over all else, no matter how small one’s home is or how few toys there are to play with.


WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
I am not sure I was a very good writer at a very young age but I had the biggest fan, my mother. She kept telling me how good a writer I was, and I believed her and developed a love for writing. She believed in me and I developed the confidence to believe in myself, and I never looked back.


WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I am a student and my writing style is the product of literature of the greatest American authors pre-1960. Yet both my award-winning books followed the formats of a variety of books – Finding the Uncommon Deal was based more off self-help books like Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People and Home was based on children’s books from the 60s and 70s, like Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The first allowed it to be an easy-to-use book with a lot of information and the latter provided beautiful landscapes with interesting stories.


IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE?
I cherish the writings of so many greats who have written classics that may live on for centuries—from Homer, to Shakespeare, to Dickens, to Fitzgerald to Faulkner, to Clemens to Hemingway, to Truman Capote to Harper Lee. At this point, I do not even have the courage to reach their heights but I do believe that somewhere inside me is that book that may take years to write and be crushingly painful to finish but completely satisfying to publish. At this time, I can only dream and think of the plot.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
I have been blessed to have the means to have donated Home to a few thousand (and counting) underserved communities and children, and have seen the impact pictures and words can have on these communities. My first book, Finding the Uncommon Deal, has taught thousands of first-time homebuyers how to be better educated on buying homes and has provided a vehicle for television appearances and giving speeches on the subject.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
Someone needs to write our generation’s Great American Novel and right now I can only dream about being able to put together the story and then writing it.


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I am acting as the editor of and co-writing a definitive real estate primer that I hope will be a must-read for every real estate lawyer in New York.



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

Author Spotlight - Diane Mae Robinson on her award-winning book, The Dragon Grammar Book


HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  Even as a writer, when I had to look up a particular grammar rule, I often found grammar books or grammar site explanations hard to follow. The thought occurred to me that I’m probably not the only one. I decided that grammar needed to be explained in simpler terms, starting with the basics.  To make the book more fun, I incorporated the zany fantasy characters from my multi-award-winning children’s series The Pen Pieyu Adventures to be in the example sentences. The book is fun and has cool illustrations too. I’m glad that kids, and adults alike, are appreciating the book and that the book is helping them to learn grammar with its easy-to-understand lessons and examples.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? Learning can be fun!

WHO INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? Many authors have inspired me, ever since I first learned to read, but the person who inspired me the most is my mother—she taught me that I could be whatever I wanted to be in life, and I wanted to be a writer.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Lemony Snicket and his series A Series of Unfortunate Events. The author has an incredible sense of humor that kids understand. No matter the tale, he flawlessly suspends disbelief through excellence of building characters and writing style. I greatly admire that.

TELL US AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
My first book was rejected 29 times before being accepted by a traditional publisher—about the same amount of times as Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected. 

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: My creativity comes and goes in waves, and I never push it. When the creativity wave hits me, I’m often up at two or three in the morning and write for twelve hours straight, for days on end.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER?  It takes me a long time to produce a book because I’m extremely particular and I don’t write when I’m not feeling creative. I’ve tried to take the advice of many well-known authors and write every day, but it just doesn’t work for me and it’s frustrating.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE? C.S. Lewis because I think it’s important to incorporate good values in characters and stories while creating a believable world.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? For several years I was with a traditional publisher, which was very hard to find: 29 rejections later, my first book was published with a traditional publisher. In 2017, I decided to become my own publisher, got back my rights, learned the self-publishing business, and never looked back.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? From my experience, publishing my own books has allowed me more access to promoting and putting my books on sale without the restrictions of a traditional publisher.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Winning a Gold Award and a Lumen Award in 2018 from Literary Classics for The Dragon Grammar Book.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? To always write the best books I can and have the reader enjoy the books.

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I’m an artist but I don’t illustrate my own books.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 

Sir Princess Petra – The Pen Pieyu Adventures
Sir Princess Petra’s Talent – The Pen Pieyu Adventures
Sir Princess Petra’s Mission – The Pen Pieyu Adventures
Sir Princess Petra Coloring Book
The Forest Painter
All can be found on my Amazon Author Page


DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I’m working on another grammar book, with the same fun Pen Pieyu characters giving the grammar lessons, that will elaborate on grammar terminology. The book will be available on Amazon and with most online book distributors, and on my website: www.dragonsbook.com


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