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Norman Whaler Author Interview

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black brings two strange men to the farm and peaks the curiosity of the two farm friends. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this kids book?

All the Oink and Gobble books are are short reads and meant to be humorous and fun and to put a smile on everyone’s face! The Men in Black are popular and familiar to kids and adults alike, but are still are a mystery to be solved!

This is book two in the Oink and Gobble series. What were some new themes you wanted to introduce in this book and what were some ideas you wanted to continue from the first book?

Oink is adventurous and interested in all the strange mysteries of the world, yet has a tendency to jump to conclusions with few facts. Gobble is focused on facts first and tries to bring logic to the investigations the two inevitably start. Though they look at things quite differently, they are best of friends!

What kind of mischief will Oink and Gobble get into in book three and when will it be available?

Without saying too much, Oink once again will jump to conclusions about a mystery of the world, and Gobble will try to bring reason to Oink’s thinking. I hope everyone will enjoy it! Should be out by July 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]Oink and Gobble were best friends and, with all the other animals on the farm, had a BIG secret they could never, ever let any humans know! But, did Oink let the cat out of the bag?

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Not Enforcing Sameness

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?

The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.

Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.

Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?

I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.

When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.

I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?

Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.

As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.

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

I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Silver Tabby by [Higgins, Rachael]

The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.

Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.

When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?

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Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog

Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog by [Graves, Cindy]

Hurtysy is dealing with a unique hedgehog problem. Anyone that touches her gets hurt by her quills. And because of this, Hurtsy is sad and feels bad. In this story Hurtsy meets several animals that are hurting one another and Hurtsy wants to show them how to love, but she can’t because of her sharp quills. Hurtsy must use some bravery and ingenuity to solve this prickly problem.

Every page of this wonderful children’s book is artistically drawn and each piece of art is bright and colorful and fits the tone of the story. Throughout the story Hurtsy is followed by a thought bubble which shows her inner feeling; which is often different from what she is showing to others. I thought this was a unique way to show kids how sometimes our external appearance hides our internal emotions. I really like how this book was able to help kids visualize a complex idea like this.

The story is told in rhyme which flows nicely. The words are easy to understand, but this is a book that adults will want to read to kids because of the aforementioned complex emotional ideas delivered in this book. Sometimes it’s not easy to discern the thoughts from the person as Hurtsy interacts with her own thought bubble.

This is a very cute story that delivers an important message in a unique way. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their kids about emotions, talking about them, learning tough lessons, and reconciling differences between people.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B07D734LK3

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Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]

The story Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a children’s book about a group of farm animals trying to keep a secret from the humans living with them. The two main characters, Oink and Gobble, spend all of their time together, and are best friends. When Oink goes to talk to Gobble, she thinks he is joking about the little girl that’s been watching him. He lets Gobble know that the girl may suspect that they can talk. They both get worried that their secret may be revealed.

Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a interesting story! It really grabs the audience’s attention. The book has a great plot that utilizes suspense and humor in exciting ways throughout the story. The characters are lovable and have their own unique personalities! The change in font size definitely made the story more suspenseful, and allows the reader to understand the importance of those words. This story is definitely good for kids that are still beginners at reading. There aren’t any huge words that would be too hard to understand. The art is cute, using bright colors to showcase characters that are really emotive. The pictures make the story even more enjoyable and makes it easy for kids to imagine each scene; as it’s a still image of an animated cartoon. This is a book that is easy for kids to enjoy, and is one that kids would want to read over and over!

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07L5W3SS6

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From The Abyss

From the Abyss by Vantar is a collection of poems that range in length, generally one to two pages long in four-line stanzas. I really appreciated the exceptional way that nature is brought to life in these poems. Sometimes this is in the way a bird or beast is described and others in the way we see a sunflower or how it feels to climb a mountain. These vivid descriptions go beyond the physicality of the object and delve into a feeling or sense of a thing. Along with this, many poems tackle a deeper or perhaps darker view of the world. The poems explore themes of beginnings and endings, of natural cycles of life, of loss, of depth, and of that which is hard to imagine. The poems are a fascinating mix of real and beyond real, bringing a little bit of magic through words into the world of nature. Vantar’s language was exquisite, both easy to read and sparking the imagination. I also like the way he uses references to lure the mind to images without having to explicitly describe them, like giving us the image of a Van Gogh sunflower in order to get to the idea of the sunflower following the sun before starting again.

Within the book, there are over eighty poems each managing to be unique while connected. Vantar accomplishes this through the use of similar themes, sticking to the natural world for the most part, and by repeating keywords from one poem to the next. I found it hard to pick favorites from the book because there were so many stanzas and lines that really sparked my mind but ‘Sunflower,’ ‘Nightingale’s Song,’ ‘The Star Triangle,’ and ‘Zenith’ stuck out to me. The book is filled with so many beautiful poems that it is easy to read through and find several that speak to you. I would say that if you like reading poetry, especially poetry about nature and thought, that this is a must read. The language is intricate and subtle which makes each poem easy to read while still holding a stunning beauty. This is the kind of book that makes a wonderful gift, or a fun book to leave on your coffee table to read a poem or two in the morning to get you thinking about the world.

Pages: 126 | ISBN: 1479776483

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Dogs That Are So Often Forgotten

Will Lowrey Author Interview

Will Lowrey Author Interview

Chasing the Blue Sky follows the life of a shelter dog from one home to the next. Why was this an important book for you to write?

There are so many animals in our shelter and adoption system that it is often improbable for people to actually place an individual face or story with many of them. They are often relegated to statistics or ambiguous shadows behind kennel fencing. I wanted to write a story to help capture for people the vibrant life that exists in every one of those statistics or shadows. Having spent a great deal of time around shelters and dogs that have otherwise been abandoned on chains or in backyard kennels, I have seen so many dogs with great possibilities for life who were restricted based on their circumstances. The intent of the book was to try and show people that every one one of those dogs is rich, hopeful, and brimming with the chance to bestow the amazing gifts that all dogs give to us. I wanted to bring people behind the kennel walls using Toby’s story as a vehicle to share the voice of so many forgotten animals.

The story is told from the eyes of a dog, and delivers innocent but intuitive views of the world. What were some inspirations for Toby’s character?

Toby was particularly inspired by my first dog, Mack. Mack was a black and white pit bull mix who was adopted as a puppy from a city shelter. He was such an amazing dog – loving, kind, smart, and patient. He was everything anyone could ask for in a dog. But before I adopted him, he was a dog in a kennel. He may have been overlooked a hundred times and depending on the circumstances he found himself in, he may never have had the deserved chance to show everything he was capable of showing. He inspired me to let the world know that there are countless dogs just like Mack that, if given the chance, will be the greatest gift you may ever know.

The story is heartfelt and beautifully told. What were some of your driving ideals throughout the story?

As mentioned above, I wanted to bring people closer to so many dogs that are so often forgotten. My driving ideal was to be true to the reality of the world. It would have been very easy to write a book that was upbeat, and happy, and full of feel-good moments, but that would have been disingenuous. The book tells stories that I have personally seen over and over again over the past 15 years. This is real life. Often it is gritty and tough to see. Sometimes the situations in the book are tough to read but to address the problems facing thousands of dogs in our country, we must first face the truth. I also wanted to portray some of the unique challenges facing pit bull type dogs. These situations are also based on real stories and scenarios I have come across or personally dealt with. The world is harder if you’re a pit bull type dog and it is important for people to understand the obstacles arrayed against these dogs.

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

My focus is on books that promote the integrity, rights, and interests of animals. I am currently working on a second book which takes a very different theme. This book is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel set in the aftermath of a pandemic. The story follows the owner of a neglected roadside zoo, his personal journey to survive, and the evolution of his view of animals in light of the savagery of man that has suddenly engulfed his world. I expect it to be released early Summer 2019.

Author Links: Website | GoodReads

Chasing the Blue Sky by [Lowrey, Will]

When life with his loving family takes a sudden turn, Toby finds himself fighting to survive in the unforgiving world of the county animal shelter. But he’s not alone – a motley cast of homeless dogs and a devoted pair of shelter workers will give anything to make sure he finds his forever home.

Chasing the Blue Sky is the compelling, emotional story of one dog’s journey to find his place in the great big world. Readers have described it as “Beautiful,” “Brilliant,” “Poignant,” “Powerful,” and “Gripping.”

If you’ve ever adopted, rescued, or fostered a dog – this book is for you.

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Chasing the Blue Sky

Chasing the Blue Sky by [Lowrey, Will]

This is a powerful book that kept me enraptured from the start. This poignant tale gives us a dogs-eye-view of a journey through a sometimes happy and often difficult life. From the sadness of leaving his mom as a young puppy, traveling through various homes, finding a loving home and losing it. The reader must experience great sadness and pain against animals who are defenseless and abandoned. If you are an animal lover this story will pull at your heartstrings. This is such a brilliant perspective encourages advocacy for animals. If you don’t shed a few tears while reading this, you must be asleep!

The writing is easy to read but not juvenile, as you might imagine with the perspective of a dog. The innocence of it is heart-wrenching at times, as if from the eyes of a child. I love all the descriptions and explanations for the dogs’ responses along with the actual dialogue between the animals. This was so endearing. The author masterfully created Toby’s world through his innocent observations that were without all the hyper analysis often accompanying descriptions of human emotions. Although the animals display innocence, they certainly are not dumb, on the contrary, there is so much intuition there that anyone who is bonded with a pet can understand. I love the relationships and bonds formed between animals as well.

This story paints a sad picture of shelter life. This is a great book if one is looking to inspire shelter adoptions, which may have been the authors intent. The picture painted in this novel is not pretty and It certainly created a great sense of compassion in me and interest in adopting an animal from a shelter in the future. This book is deeply penetrating and thoughtful. The writing is beautiful, full of innocence but also depth. This is a quick and impactful read that should be kept on hand for anyone wanting to promote shelter adoptions!

Pages: 191 | ASIN: B07K5MM6WJ

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Imprisoned Within The Pages

Danny Estes Author Interview

Danny Estes Author Interview

The Infinite Wisdom follows Braxton into a genetics lab, while looking for his fiancée as he stumbles across the origin of the hairless apes. The mythology of the world is that mankind has vanished. Are you looking to further that mystery or will we see the hairless apes reappear?

Book 3 of “The Snow Adventures”, will reveal more information concerning the hairless apes. In addition, new developments in the reason for the space station will come to light, but not without its costs. For this information will cause a tragedy amongst the animals which will change the characters’ lives. Shaking up the norm for the path of Book 4.

I enjoyed the underlying technological theme throughout the book. Did you conduct any genetics research for this book?

Although science can fascinate and inspire my writing as we continue to stubble into the future, I conducted no research into the making of this book. All genetic hypotheses and advance sciences presented within this book comes from the countless movies and science fiction books I’ve read or watched over the years. I merely laid out the ideals and incorporated what aspects of each I felt would best open imaginative minds to concepts our current technology are already adventuring within.

The cover art for this book is awesome. What was the development like for this cover?

For a writer the cover is the most important beginning for any book. Never mind all the hours, days, months or even years of hard work that goes into a book’s development. If the cover arts not appealing, all the investment an author has made will be for not. For a reader must have their interest peeked to invest their time in simply picking up the book for a curiosity look see. This is why I spend a lot of time considering the cover. It must convey an imagery of events to be found within the pages of the book while not promising any falsehoods. With these concepts I had to considered what would best convey the plight of the characters. Who besides Braxton should or shouldn’t be portrayed. The fact that Joann, his sweetheart is a driving factor in the book told me she had to be included. But how then do I present them? Escaping? Boarding the space shuttle? Talking with the unicorns, Mr. Thelin and his sister Ms. Thelin? All good avenues of presentation. Yet everyone’s desire to be free felt to be the most important aspect for the cover. For a reader will see our heroes’ plight and wonder as to how they got there and what must be done to escape. This then seemed the most obvious choice as it invited the reader to at least explore as to how they were imprisoned within the pages and I hope, would invest the reader to continue reading in order to see our heroes gain their freedom.

Where will we find Braxton in the next book in the Snow Adventures and when will that be available?

Braxton will find himself back into his old job of investigations. Though in truth he’s rather be with his wife, Joann and their growing family. Current circumstances however will lead him on a chase for an escaped murderer who somehow has vanished from a secured holding cell. How and why will leave the animals shaken to the core. This Book 3, of The Snow Adventures, I’ve slated for an appearance on amazon sometime in 2020.

Author Links: GoodReads Facebook | Website

The Infinite Wisdom (The Snow Adventures Book 2) by [Estes, Danny C]

Braxton Snow, P.I., big city arctic wolf, is back!

While escaping the glacial clan of his birth, Braxton lands in a sinister genetic laboratory established by the hairless apes long ago. With the help of his new allies, Braxton navigates this alien technology to find his jackrabbit fiancée. But the curious archaeologist red fox has nailed all their coffins by pushing buttons he shouldn’t. They know where the hairless apes went now—somewhere the animals should not have followed! Will they ever return home?

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The Greatest Gift

Diane Hull Author Interview

Diane Hull Author Interview

Be Happy to Be You is a cute children’s story about being happy with who you are. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

Children are the inspiration for my stories; the children I have taught and my three grandchildren. Joe (6 years), Harry (4 years) and George (10 months). Children are individuals and they are all different with their own characteristics and strengths. I strongly believe that they should be happy to be themselves.

The art in this book is well done and very cute. What was the art direction and collaboration like between you and Jan Dolby?

Having submitted my book to MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, I was introduced to Jan Dolby as a possible illustrator for my work. I was delighted with her drawings; her pictures were a perfect match for my story and her designs for my Baby bird were exactly as I imagined them. I hope that she and I will continue to work together on future Baby bird books.

This story did an exceptional job of driving home the idea of being happy with yourself. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As an Early Years teacher, I understand how important it is that young children are instilled with a sense of their own worth. A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child. They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths. This message is at the heart of my book. Using picture books, we can provide children with strategies to cope with possible problems they may face and offer them opportunities to discuss their feelings with a trusted adult.

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

My second book, “On Our Way to School,” is due to be published later this year by MacLaren-Cochrane. This is the story of Joe’s journey to school with his mother. Unfortunately for Joe, he forgets things that he will need for the day; his bag, his book, his coat etc. Each time he realises that he has forgotten something, he has to return to his house and set off for school again.

I have recently completed a second book featuring Baby bird, “The Lonely Bird”. In this story, Baby bird is lonely and he sets out to find a friend. Baby bird is unsuccessful it seems…. or is he? I have written quite a few stories but these have not yet been submitted for publication.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Baby bird wasn’t happy.
He longed to be like other animals.
He wanted to swim and run and jump.
But he had to learn to be happy as he was…
He had to learn just to be himself!

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A Willing Heart

Lily Tanzer Author Interview

Lily Tanzer Author Interview

Travels with the Doggie Lama shows the deep relationship that can develop between a dog and their owner. Why was this an important biography for you to write?

Keisha (The Doggie Lama) was my companion through some very important changes in my life (ending a long-term relationship, moving across the country, getting married, having a child, exploring spirituality on a deeper level). In the years after she was gone I would often remark to others that she taught me more about being an energetic being than anything I had formally studied. Her death was both a painful and a mystical experience and I found that when I would talk about her passing with others, it would often spark a long conversation about how difficult losing a pet can be. The loss of a being that holds such unconditional love for us is traumatic and difficult to grieve. “It’s just a dog” some might say, yet if anyone has ever connected deeply with an animal, the loss of that relationship can be incredibly painful.

In writing Travels with the Doggie Lama, I wanted to share the sheer entertainment that such a vibrant personality brought to my world but more so the subtle, life-changing connection that healed my heart and instructed, in some unconventional ways, the art of unconditional love.

I love the title of this book, how did you settle on the title?

Her nickname, “The Doggie Lama,” emerged during my study of yoga, partially as a term of endearment with my husband and I (referencing her constant assistance with meditations in the house) but also spoke to the lessons I was learning from her essence and her connection to Source energy (as any animal will do as they are so closely connected to nature and our true state). She and I physically traveled quite a bit during her life (including several cross-country moves) but we also shared internal travels together: changing and growing through life, exploring the energetic aspect of our existence, and ultimately discovering deep, unconditional love.

Memoirs cause one to reflect on their life in different ways. Is there something that you have a different perspective on now that you wrote this book?

At one point in the book I describe my realizations about what I had learned from an impetuous, loving dog. “We didn’t travel to the Himalayas to sit at the feet of a wise guru, seeking enlightenment. We sat on the floor of the spare bedroom beside one another, breathing in and out. The vast universe was right there behind closed eyes, an open mind, and a willing heart… No one would ever make a movie out of our journey; these were just the things of everyday life, the substance of the physical universe. But our connection had been an epic tale, in my opinion.”

In writing about the events of those fourteen years with Keisha I came to realize at a deeper level that it’s the everyday events, the small and seemingly mundane exchanges that create the fabric of our lives (not the big, momentous events we often seek out). Everyday life can be funny, exasperating, touching, and boring, but when reviewed through a larger lens, we can see the beauty and meaning behind the totality of those events.

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

While I plan to write a sequel to Travels with the Doggie Lama, I am currently working on a fanciful trilogy showcasing the adventures of one of my current dogs, Darci (a Pekingese/Maltese mix). Her secret life as a WWII tank commander was exposed a few years back and details have emerged about her exploits in the European theater during the dark days of that global conflict. Her military prowess and rivalry with Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, from the sands of North Africa to the beaches of France, are detailed in these photo books. We plan an initial release in late 2018.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Life in the middle of a big city can be scary. Lily, a young professional living alone in Houston during the mid-1980s, experiences a frightening brush with a near-home invasion. The disturbing episode is the impetus to seek out a home security system: a dog. Fear pushes Lily to purchase her new companion without thinking through the details and she finds the new addition to her life just as unsettling.

Financial struggles, professional challenges, romantic wounds and the trials of being twenty-something all share the tiny apartment with Lily and her new puppy, Keisha. The carefree, adventure-seeking whims of Keisha are at odds with the order-loving, financially challenged Lily.

And yet the irascible dog may be just what the doctor ordered. Once Keisha trots across the threshold, where weeks before the faceless intruder had sought to gain entry, Lily’s life opens up in new, at times exasperating, ways and the adventures begin.

Lily and Keisha both push the boundaries of what’s expected of them and venture out to new venues and new experiences, causing Lily to understand that things are not always what they seem. As Lily begins a deeper exploration into her spiritual life she is shocked to discover Keisha’s talents may extend beyond her garbage loving, squirrel-chasing pursuits.

Join this pair on their journeys: external and internal, humorous and touching. Laugh with Keisha’s flagrant disregard for the law and social convention. Cry with Lily’s struggles. Dip into another level of love and connection and explore the non-spoken bond of soulmates.

It doesn’t matter if you are a life-long dog lover, or someone who has never had a pet; this story will touch your heart because it speaks of the transcendent power of love to bring true joy into our lives–whether we happened to be born with two legs or four.

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