Author Archives: karenliterarytitan

The Ballad of Billy McFee

Billy McFee is a fish with a ship. The problem is his ship is stuck in the muck. He wants to sail his ship and have fun, but he can not pull it free. While singing a shanty and working to pull the ship free, he attracts the attention of other sea creatures. Two clams tell him he will fail. A crab watches from the seaweed, and a shark and a whale swim over to help. Finally, the unlikely team works together to free the ship from the muck.

This whimsical children’s book, written by Ruby Mosher, takes a sea shanty theme and turns it into a lighthearted story about teamwork, diversity, and positive thinking. The song aside, this book has fantastic artwork that will appeal to adults and children. There are many easter eggs hidden in the pages and parallel stories. The clams are hysterical with their naysayer attitude and side discussions that relate back to Billy’s ship problem. Billy learns to ignore them, just like we all have to ignore the naysayers that try and push us off our own paths. All the books that Emma the crab is reading have entertaining titles and give fun extra facts relating to nautical topics and self-esteem. Each member of Billy’s crew brings unique talents to the ship and this memorable story.

This captivating children’s book is designed to be read as a poem, a story, or sung as a sea shanty. This heartwarming picture book is a highly original concept that combines all the messages and storylines into one big picture while imparting critical social messages to children.

The Ballad of Billy McFee: A sea shanty to read or sing is an entertaining picture book that children and parents will love to read or sing to. Teachers can use this book for all preschool and elementary school-age children to teach different morals or introduce ocean science units.

Pages: 38 | ASIN : B09KSBHV3F

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A Reluctant Protagonist

Tracy Grogan Author Interview

Flotsam follows a diver that stumbles upon two murder victims. While assisting in the investigation she becomes the next potential victim. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

I knew from the beginning that Ricky would be a reluctant protagonist and that it would be tied to her being a divemaster, so that was the first step. The second was that it needed to be something that was outside of the normal divemaster experience — dive accidents are something they train and any accident would reflect badly on Ricky, so it couldn’t be anything having to do with a diver. As I tried to figure this out, I decided that “place” might help in the decision. Once I decided on Palau, and its complex relationship with the Japanese, I began to research the yakuza and found a story about the yakuza kidnapping a South Korean politician with plans to weigh him down and throw him overboard into the Sea of Japan (spoiler alert: Japanese officials intercepted the boat just as the yakuza were bringing him up to the deck and he was saved)

Ricky is a complex character that even other characters have trouble understanding. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

Ricky doesn’t think she’s complex. She is, at her core, conflict-averse. That’s why she tries to keep whole oceans between her and her family. But she has a trigger, which is an innate sense of responsibility. And when that trigger gets flipped, when others refuse to take responsibility and accountability that is theirs, she is stubbornly going to work to right the wrong. But there’s a better answer: Ricky is based on roughly a dozen women divemasters I’ve met over the years. They work and live in a male-dominated environment, 24 by 7. They have to know when to be conciliatory and when to be dominant. They are fun-loving but incredibly reliable once they step on the boat. For Ricky, the history that influences her decision of when to make that switch goes back to her teenage years in Hawai’i and her experience with a man who murdered her best friend.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Obviously, I’ve included a mix of local politics and environmental advocacy in the book. These are prominent in Palau’s everyday experience. In fact, when you enter Palau today, they take up a whole page of your passport with the Palau Pledge. It begins “Children of Palau, I take this pledge as your guest to preserve and protect your beautiful and unique island home.” Palau is at the forefront of the concept of shark sanctuaries and continues to expand that model. I don’t think you can tell a story about Palau without including that.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Most people will be disappointed to hear that it’s not called Jetsam. There are actually four categories in maritime law that relate to shipwrecks. Derelict and Lagan are the other two. Book two will be Derelict. I’m a big fan of Tana French and her concept of keeping the story fresh by maintaining certain elements but shifting others around in the Dublin Murder Squad. The sites change and the protagonists change. Minor characters become lead characters. I decided that I would use a primary characteristic of expat divemasters and that every book would be in a new locale. Derelict is based in the Sinai Peninsula in Dahab, a small town with a very famous (and dangerous) dive site. I went to Dahab on December 27 of 2012, one day after the new president imposed a new constitution, spurring protests and clashes throughout the country. Some of my experiences made it into the book. It will be available in June of 2022.

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Many consider Ricky Yamamoto to be the island’s most competent diver, but the police think she has a few screws loose. Those who consider her a friend wouldn’t disagree with either assessment.

When her morning dive is interrupted by a spinning tangle of chains and bodies, she is dragged into an international free-for-all. As authorities bicker, and rumors fly, the villains fight to eliminate loose ends, tracking Ricky through WWII tunnels, on a high speed chase through the lush tropical islands, and back to where it all began – the edge of her favorite cliff.


Inspired By the Little Things in Life

Michael Tabor Author Interview

The Inquisition and Other Stories is the second book in your collection of short stories. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

I sometimes think that when it comes to story telling I’m a bit like a magpie in that I’m attracted to things that catch my eye (or my ear). Most of the stories were inspired by little things like an overheard snippet of conversation or a fleeting image of an interpersonal interaction. In other cases some stories are inspired by the arts; after all, a painting is just another form of story telling.

I enjoyed the creativity in each story. Which story from this collection is your favorite?

Of course, I’m biased and like all the stories for what each one has to say. Perhaps I can say that I get a lot of satisfaction from writing stories that involve a lot of research. In the current anthology, the story Catherine Lescault required considerable research about Nicolas Poussin and Honoré de Balzac. The story Cinderella involved learning about aphasia, and The Inquisition required learning about playwriting and cancer treatments.

Was there anything from your own life that you put into the characters in short stories?

Certainly who we are influences the way we write. However, I’m not a great fan of auto-fiction and do not like to inject myself into my own stories. To me, the challenge is to try and develop characters that are very different from myself in both personality and background.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I’ve started work on a historical novel set in the C12th. If things go very well it might be finished in 2023.

The Inquisition and Other Stories Book Review

Healing Body, Mind, and Spirit

Ricardo B Serrano Author Interview

Six healing Qigong sounds details the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine and how to use them for healing and total body wellness. What was the inspiration for writing this book?

As a Traditional Chinese medical practitioner and Qigong teacher, from my observation with my clients and myself, the six healing Qigong sounds with mantras work to unblock and strengthen the Qi flow in the Shen Qi Jing channels and the organs in the body. Sickness in the body, mind, and spirit is caused by Qi blockages in the meridians, and health or homeostasis is restored when Qigong sounds and mantras with movements are done properly as explained in the book.

What is a common hurdle people face when learning about healing Qigong sounds?

How you pronounce the sounds and mantras is the main problem together with feeling the Qi flow in the main channels and meridians. Feeling with your heart the sounds and mantras will help tremendously.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about Qigong sounds?

The common misconception is that learning Qigong sounds is hard which is not true. With consistent practice and understanding the techniques will heal most sickness. There is a saying how you feel is how you heal. When you feel relaxed, happy, and revitalized with Qigong sounds and mantras you will surely cultivate your self-healing, revitalized energy, and peace of mind.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I don’t have any plans yet in starting another book as of now since I have covered other health-related Chinese Medicine and Qigong healing topics in my seven books: Meditation and Qigong Mastery, Return to Oneness with the Tao, Return to Oneness with Spirit, Keys to Healing and Self-Mastery, Return to Oneness with Shiva, Oneness with Shiva and The Cure and Cause of Cancer.

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The theoretical basis of Six healing Qigong sounds (Liu Zi Jue) is the Five Elements of Traditional Chinese Medicine (metal, wood, water, fire and earth), and Five Solid Viscera (heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys).

The Six healing Qigong sounds gently vibrate, and massage our internal organs, boost our immune system, clear stagnation and stale energy from our body, harmonize our emotions, balance our body and spirit creating a state of inner peace and radiant energy.

The sound Xu tonify Liver energy, Hoo replenish Spleen energy, Her nourish Heart energy, Si nourish Lung energy, Chui tonify the Kidney energy, and Xi revitalize San Jiao energy (the Traditional Chinese Medicine term for the hollow space inside the trunk of your body) that altogether cultivate the Three Treasures Jing, Qi and Shen and strengthen the Wei Qi field.

The Qigong forms with six healing sounds are illustrated in the book for your healing and spiritual awakening.

Ricardo B Serrano, Dipl.Ac., author of Six healing Qigong sounds, is a Wing Chun Qigong teacher and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner since 1980 in British Columbia, Canada. He has written seven books: Meditation and Qigong Mastery, Return to Oneness with the Tao, Return to Oneness with Spirit, Keys to Healing and Self-Mastery, Return to Oneness with Shiva, Oneness with Shiva, and The Cure & Cause of Cancer.

The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow

When a young hunting dog and a crow decide to be friends, the dog pack does not know what to think. They hunt birds, yet a crow wants to hang out and be friends with them. Willie, the crow, is undeterred by the gruff hunting dogs and enjoys playing with the puppy Patch. While playing, Willie flies over the pool, and Patch, not paying attention, falls in. Turns out Patch does not know how to swim. None of the dogs know how to swim. They run to find the Labrador Newt thinking he can swim, but he is terrified of the water. Finally, through some encouragement from family and friends, he jumps in to save Patch.

The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow: A Hickory Doc’s Tale, written by Linda Harkey, is a creative picture book about the friendship between two unlikely animals. The pack of dogs is concerned that a puppy hanging out with a crow is wrong, and they try to convince their senior dog Doc to put an end to the friendship. Doc, however, is a thinker; he looks at the situation and, rather than jump to conclusions, evaluates the benefits. He backs up his decision by pointing out that Willie the crow has worked with them to save Patch rather than just flying off and leaving her to drown. The message of inclusion and acceptance makes this children’s book a great addition to any book collection.

Illustrator Mike Minick has done an excellent job capturing the emotions of the dogs and Willie. Each page is vibrant and engaging. Even without the text, the story is clear from the marvelous drawings. Children will laugh as they learn a valuable lesson about friendship and family.

The Remarkable Story of Willie the Crow: A Hickory Doc’s Tale is a captivating tale about friends, family, acceptance, working together, and believing in yourself. Parents and educators will love having this picture book to read to children in and out of the classroom.

Pages: 38 | ASIN : B07LCKSXSW

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Animal Acres

Sammy Skunk lives on a farm, Animal Acres. One night he wakes up from his nap to a strange sound. Finding his dinner, he looks up and sees a strange animal, a raccoon. Sammy has never met a raccoon before and notices how they are different, but this does not deter him from making a new friend. After inviting the strange animal over to share his dinner, they end up spending the night together playing and exploring.

What do a skunk and a raccoon have in common? Both love to explore and play at night, and both have stripes. While their stripes go in different directions, they still manage to become friends and go on an adventure together on the farm. Animal Acres by Colby Becknell Hardison is a cute picture book that doubles as a children’s coloring book.

Sammy Skunk and Rocky Racoon quickly become friends over a shared meal. They share stories about their lives, Sammy from the farm and Rocky from life outside the farm. They realize that being different is not harmful and can lead to great adventures exploring their friend’s world.

This creative story is more than just a picture book; children can color the pages as they read along with the story, which makes it more memorable. Learning that just because they are different doesn’t mean they can not be friends is valuable lesson for young kids. This imaginative story will allow children to explore the idea of friendship and adventure. The drawings are not overly detailed, making them great for younger children to color that may not color fine details yet.

Animal Acres is an amazing coloring picture book and is perfect for children and adults that are young at heart. The fun drawings add to the story, and readers will have to add their own flair to their adventures as they color the pages.

Pages: 24 | ASIN : B08NT884F3

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Lilbeebye Stings Bully

Lilbeebye is a young girl with a secret. She appears normal on the outside, but in reality, she has secret powers. She can change into a superhero bee that stings honey love into the hearts of those who are bullies. Lilbeebye believes that everyone can be good and kind they just sometimes need some encouragement. When her friend Sally becomes the victim of a bully Lilbeebye rushes into action to sting the bullies and restore peace to the school playground. Later that day her older sister gets into a fight with her friends and Lilbeebye must spring into action again and sting them all to restore the love and goodness inside them.

Lilbeebye Stings Bully by author Theresa Shields is written on a level for older elementary-level students. The first half of the book is a fun story about Lilbeebye’s superpowers and how she helps people learn to be kind and good. There are colorful and engaging illustrations that introduce the topic of bullying to children. This half of this imaginative story would be great for early elementary students to help open discussions of bullying as well.

The second half of this book is much more serious and better suited for older children, eight to twelve-year-olds. The second half of the informative book is not illustrated and brings up topics such as cyberbullying, emotional abuse, and even suicide. There is good information on social media bullying, posting pictures and texts that are embarrassing or hurtful. Shields explains how these things are not harmless teasing and how hurtful they can be to people.

While this complex children’s book uses the church as a way to present ideas of community and sharing of information it is not overly religious and could be used by secular groups to start conversations on bullying.

Lilbeebye Stings Bully is a thought-provoking children’s book. Educators and parents will find this to be a useful book for opening up discussions on bullying to children in elementary school and provide a chance to discuss deeper topics of bullying with older elementary students especially those getting ready to enter middle school.

Pages: 29 | ASIN : B085PW2YX5

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Secrets, Gifts, Family

Willie the crow wants to eat the pack’s dog chow. The problem is he promised to not eat it from the kennel, and the other bowls are in the house with the Food Giver. To get to the bowels he must enter through the dog door, and this turns out to be harder than expected. Willie nearly drowns and gets stuck in a plant. After being rescued by Patch twice he makes it inside. There he taps on the refrigerator door and the Food Givers arrives and give him a small packet of walnuts and he flies out the window before the pack gets in and sees him. Willie keeps his special treats a secret from the pack

Doc, Willie, and the Pack: Secrets, Gifts, Family written by Linda Harkey returns readers to the Lazy Dog Hacienda. Willie the crow is part of the family that lives here. Willie however has a secret, he gets special treats from the Food Giver and is afraid to tell the pack about them. Instead, he brings the empty wrappers to Zeke as gifts making up stories about where he found them. Eventually, the truth comes out thanks to a newspaper article that was done on Willie that the pack saw.  

This entertaining picture book talks about family, keeping secrets, and friendships. Young elementary-age children will love the colorful illustrations of Mike Minick and the expression all the dogs have. This light-hearted story has a great message about friendship and family that they will be able to relate to. The adventures of Willie trying to get into the house will have children and adults laughing and asking, can crows get glasses, because clearly, poor Willie needs them.

Doc, Willie, and the Pack: Secrets, Gifts, Family: (A Hickory Doc’s Tale) is an engaging read for classrooms, libraries, and parents to read to children. It will make a great early reader for children learning to read with the vibrant artwork to help tell the story.

Pages: 52 | ASIN: B07XLHR2SZ

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