Blog Archives

In Some Faraway Magical Land

T C Bartlett Author Interview

The String follows an ordinary young boy who discovers an ordinary ball of string and uses it to go on adventures with his imagination. What was the inspiration for your story?

That’s a great question. I was reading my picture book, It’s Music Time, to a 1st-grade class at one of our local elementary schools where I live in Brown County, Indiana. I say reading, but it’s really a near-wordless picture book with 15 words at the beginning and 15 at the end. Anyway, as I flipped through the pages, one little boy in the class had a small hand-sized rubber ball he was playing with. The teacher quickly took it away from him, but I could tell by the look on his face that he was in some faraway magical land playing with his rubber ball and didn’t like it at all that he was brought back to reality by the teacher.

The very next weekend, I was thinking about that little boy’s expression, and I knew all he wanted to do was play in his imaginary world with his rubber ball. So I looked through the drawers in my kitchen cupboard, and the first thing I saw was an orange ball of nylon string. And it hit me all at once. At that very moment, I knew exactly what the little boy in my story would do with that string.

​The art in this book is fantastic. What was the process like to create the art while writing the story at the same time?

Sometimes I will do a drawing and become inspired to write a story because of that drawing. My young adult novel, The Good Witch of the South, was like that. When I first gazed upon the fairy that I used for the front cover of my novel, I knew she was the daughter of the Good Witch of the South and knew precisely what she would become in that story.

My String book was different. When I first saw the ball of string, I sat down and wrote the story while catching glimpses of illustrations in my head as I was writing.

Once I finished the manuscript, I started the illustrations. Once the drawings were completed, I did a small dummy of the book. From there, I changed some of the text and added a couple of new drawings. For example, in the original manuscript, the little boy didn’t use the string, or his sister, to pull a loose tooth. He didn’t have a loose tooth. But when I made my dummy, I needed to add more illustrations and decided to add a loose tooth to the text. And that made the illustration of the little boy brushing his teeth funnier. All in all, it took over a year to write, draw and put the book together.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

One of the best ways to discover what we will become when we are children is by using our imagination. Children love to pretend to be this or that. Mostly, I want children to know they can be extraordinary in every way. All they have to do is try. When children see the little boy in my book doing all the amazing things he can think of doing with his ball of string, it is my hope it will inspire children to take flight with their imagination.

Who knows what extraordinary things they might achieve?

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

Oh yes, my next book . . . I am incredibly excited about my next book, which will come out in 2024. The title is, That Will Never Do. It’s taken me over a year to do the illustrations for this book, just like The String.

I have to say, though, That Will Never Do might actually be one of my favorites.

Author Links: Amazon | Website

How far does your imagination go?

And if your imagination used a string, what could you do with that string?

There is only one way to find out and that is to read this book, The String, and follow the adventures of one very imaginative little boy.

We Can Go Even Further

E. Barron Author Interview

Dream Knights: The Network follows a young boy and girl in a world where adults have lost the ability to dream and the pair seek answers to the problem in their dreams. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Burnout in the United States, such as the Great Resignation, inspired me to suggest a world where adults no longer dream. In the novel, excessive stress and worry make dreaming impossible for adults. Yet, thanks to heroic children, there is hope to bring dreams back.

In reality, there is hope to reduce burnout too. Teleworking and flexible schedules are already gaining popularity. We can go even further.

When compared to the United States, Finland’s students show greater academic success while spending less time in the classroom. They even have summer breaks that are 10 to 11 weeks long. We can learn from this type of success not only for our children but also for our workforce. We all have limits.

Grant and Zahra are intriguing characters that were fun to follow. What were some driving ideals behind your characters’ development?

I wanted Grant and Zahra to be great role models and add cultural and gender diversity to the novel.

To be inclusive, I requested that my cover artist present my characters as silhouettes. Originally, the characters were also written in a nondescript manner. I later changed that, as to be more intentional with diversity, and modeled Zahra after a friend whose family emigrated from Bangladesh.

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

Different people have different skills, and they are all valuable. When working together, people can accomplish great things.

Also, building relationships and simplifying life can lead to a more fulfilling life than one filled with possessions and stress.

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

Dream Knights: The Gate, which picks up a couple of weeks after the first book, was just released on December 21, 2022. The third book, still in its early stages, will take place three to five years after the first two books. However, I have also started a historical fiction book for adults. It’s about a budding romance in 16th century Sweden during the rebellion against Danish rule. Although I’m still deciding which book to write first, I’m hoping to publish one in 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Some dreams feel real. What if they were?
Dream Knights: The Network is a children’s adventure novel about controlling dreams and connecting fantasy with reality.
Grant, a first grader in Winooski, Vermont, worries about his exhausted parents. When his classmate’s father becomes ill, his concerns intensify.
Meanwhile, in Colorado Springs, Zahra struggles with her parents’ hospitalization because they are in medically-induced comas.
Unfortunately, their parents are not the only ones facing problems. All adults—consumed by their thoughts—have lost the ability to dream.
Seeking solutions for their parents, this young boy and girl find answers in an unexpected place—their dreams. They also find the network, a mysterious hub of energy. But from where does the network’s energy come, and how is it used?
Dream Knights: The Network is an empowering middle grade novel about teamwork, bravery, and cultural diversity. For parents, it is an inspirational tale about valuing health, happiness, and the unique abilities of children.

The Experience Of Love

Geraldine Moran Author Interview

The Moon Child tells the story of one adopted girl’s connection to her birth parents through the Moon and Sun. Why was this an important book for to you publish?

My daughter is adopted and this story was something that I used to tell her when she was little.

I think the personification of the moon and sun allows a child or parent that may have had the experience of separation from a parent to understand that they are never forgotten and always loved. The sun and the moon provide that tangible link as we all look at them from time to time.

The art in the book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Daniella Banco?

Dani is such a legend and beautiful person. She nailed the concept of the book in her first draft drawing which happens to be the cover.

She asked wonderful questions, got some photos of our family and made the book such a personal joy for my daughter, Bella. She captured the words and gave them life through her illustrations.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun creating?

I think capturing The Moon Child with her favorite things was the most fun. Morphing Bella’s favorite things into the image with the sand and her dog and her tutu. The joy of a child in their experience of love.

Dani and Bella met after the book had been published and they were like kindred spirits. It was beautiful.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

My hope for readers is that they can share in the love that exists for children in adopted or foster families.

Most importantly allow a child to understand that no matter where in the world or what happens in their life, their birth parents never forget them or stop loving them. Just as their adoptive or foster parents provide love to them.

Author Links: Website | Amazon

This is the story of Bella, who was born in China and is growing up into a beautiful young woman in Australia with her adoptive parents, Geraldine and Geoff.

Author Geraldine Moran first wrote this story when Bella was a baby, and has continued to tell it to her over the years. Bella has always loved hearing her story. It has also been told to Bella’s friends, classmates and teachers, and resonated with them as the story of Bella’s special life.

Both Geraldine and Bella are delighted to now share her story with a wider audience.
The Moon Child celebrates the importance of adoption but never forgets the parents who still love their child, but cannot be an active part of their life.

It is also a story of belonging.

It Has BACKFIRED On Me

Author Interview
Melissa Owens Author Interview

Regrets, Love, Sex and Life Lessons is a provocative collection of short stories that shows all the good and bad things that come with being an adult. Was there anything from your own life that you put into this collection?

My first story, ” 2 Imperfect people” came from my own personal experience. I am a Case Manager and a Mental Health Advocate, plus, When I was diagnosed with a mental health disorder, I was in a locked facility and I met a few good people there. 

I really enjoyed the story, ‘Love, Headache, and bad Timing’. Do you have a story that stands out to you from this collection?

My second story, “Country Carlton has taught me a true lesson in this thing called “Life”.  This story stands out because as women, sometimes we see what we want to see instead of seeing things for what they really are. We see the “RED FLAGS” and still continue to believe something different. I personally have a habit of turning my head to things that is so obvious, just so I don’t have to deal with it. It has “BACKFIRED” on me everytime.

What were some emotions that were important for you to portray in this collection?

As women, we naturally think with our heart and that is ok, but unfortunately severe heartache comes with it. Instead of being so quick to jump into a relationship, we should get to know the person and see if the situation is right for us and them. 

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

Its ok to make mistakes in any relationship. Never feel ashamed for loving the wrong person. Never give up on love but just remember to love yourself first and everything will fall in place.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Regrets, Love, Sex and Life Lessons describes all the pros and cons of being an adult. As an adult, we make just as many mistakes as we did as a child or teenager, the only difference is now, we learn from it and take it as a “Lesson or Blessing”. You’re blessed to have experience passion, good sex and maybe “Love”. Or, you have learned a hard lesson on the difference between “Love and Lust “and “Need and Want”.
It seems as we get older, we always end up thinking with the “Wrong Head” and it always causes severe heart break or severe consequences.
One thing I can honestly say is, you’re not living your best life if you’re not making mistakes and you’re not truly an adult, if you’re not learning from them.

I Wanted To Test Myself

Kaye D. Schmitz Author Interview

The Road Renounced is a World War I tale of one soldier’s triumphs and tragedies as told by the woman who loves him”. What were some new ideas you wanted to explore that were different from The Road Remembered?

In writing The Road Remembered my idea was a pretty straight forward narrative about the last six months of World War II that encompassed the stories of the eight actual WWII veterans I interviewed—with a couple of twists. Many of my readers told me they loved how I wrote about the good and the bad on both sides of the war—something not often shared by authors who write about one side or the other. One of the story lines I felt was left unexplored in The Road Remembered was the fact that Sam’s father abandoned the family the night his seventh child was born—and why. So in The Road Renounced the bulk of the story centers on Sam’s father, Buzz, but is told primarily from the perspective of Sam’s mother, Maude, although we also get to know Buzz’s perspectives through his conversations with his best friend, Henry, and the Belgian nurse, Marthe Peeters. I wanted readers to witness Buzz’s life through both his eyes and that of his family, but mostly to understand how day-to-day tragedies, along with huge life-altering circumstances like the violent death of one’s parents and the consequences of a war, can work on a person to take his life from realizing his dreams to sunk in despair. I wanted to lead readers through a life that, despite a rocky beginning, blossomed into everything Buzz had ever hoped for and then how he handled it when all of that came crashing down around him. I wanted to test myself to see if I could write about tragic events, like one experiences in life, but still end the book on a satisfying note. Honestly, I held my breath when I received my first feedback from my early readers—all of whom had also read The Road Remembered. I feared this book might not hold their interest—even though it held mine. But, to a person, I heard from them that they considered this book the best I have ever written.

What were some challenges you set for yourself as a writer with this book?

I wanted to explore a circumstance that was so devastating it caused the father of seven children who was married to a wonderful woman who loved him to give all of that up and abandon his family. I mean, who does that? And why? My own grandfather left my grandmother alone much of her life, only returning to get her pregnant, and then leaving again. No one in the family had an answer as to why—lots of speculation, but no facts—so I decided to explore an answer on my own. I wanted to depict a sympathetic character who had a rough home life with his parents, but rose above that to realize his dreams. And then experienced devastating blows, one after another that took him on his downward spiral to misery. We all face downward spirals, from time to time. Whether or not we are able to grow from them is the key to the kind of person we become. Even as the writer, I felt bad for all of the things thrown at Buzz. My heart hurt for him. And I had a plan for how the story ended, but I still wanted to give Buzz every opportunity to grow up and accept that his life was different from what he had hoped for, but could still have been great. Yes, as with many authors, my characters sometimes take over the story and tell me where it goes. I really hoped Buzz would show me something I hadn’t thought of and figured if he could come up with something positive that I hadn’t already imagined, I would be willing to change the ending of the story to reflect that. But alas, he refused to grow from his misfortunes. And he continued to wallow in his grief and renounced the gifts he received at every turn. So, unfortunately for him, he experienced my original plan for his story.

What is one thing readers have been saying about your book that surprises you the most?

I was really surprised that several of my readers said there are so many characters they found it hard to keep up. I suppose that since I know all of the characters so well, that thought never even occurred to me. Most of the readers who told me that were new to my writing and had not read The Road Remembered first, so had to learn some of the characters from the first book, too. The Road Renounced can definitely be read as a stand-alone book but there may be a plethora of characters the new reader might not be used to. As a result, I have created a spreadsheet of characters and their relationships to each other that I have sent to my readers who struggled. The other thing that surprised me was how strongly my readers felt about the story—regardless of the fact that it is a tragedy, my readers loved the story and loved the ending. Apparently a lot of us can relate to the kinds of issues my characters faced

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

I am toying with a third “Road” book to tie up any loose ends and close out the family, but right now I am working on a story involving a world-renowned blood doctor whose wife suffers from Hodgkin’s disease and his work with vampire bats, whose saliva has been known to dissolve blood clots that cause strokes. As he explores mutating the saliva to treat other illnesses—like Hodgkin’s—he is visited by a vampire who offers him a cure. Most of my readers laugh when I tell them about this, but my husband had a fantastic idea for this story more than twenty years ago and my agent loved it. It’s finally time to write it. So it will probably be a couple of years before it is ready for readers. But thank you for asking.

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Website

In the story telling style of Kristin Hannah and Delia Owens, The Road Renounced is a World War I tale of one soldier’s triumphs and tragedies as told by the woman who loves him.

2015. Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Suzanne Ryan uncovers her grandmother’s diary hidden in the binding of a century-old photo album. Thrilled to learn about her grandmother, Maude, who died before Suzanne was born, she reads the first entry, written on Maude’s tenth birthday.

1915. Prospect Park, Pennsylvania. Maude Brewer, her brother, Henry, and his best friend, Buzz Ryan, live a relatively care-free existence. But the darkening conflict in Europe looms, threatening them all with the fight of their lives.

At the same time, across the ocean, darkness has already fallen as the Germans march into neutral Belgium and shatter the life of nurse Marthe Peeters, whose family is viciously killed right in front of her. She is captured and forced to travel with the German Army, each step escalating the rage in her heart that explodes into plans for revenge.

But as Maude’s story unfolds through the years, it intersects with Marthe’s and despite the fact that an ocean separates them, it is clear that the two women share their perspectives on the war. They also, Suzanne learns, share the love of the same man, Buzz Ryan, Suzanne’s grandfather. Buzz must not only fight the war on the battlefield, he must also fight the war within his heart.

Good People Doing Bad Things

Author Interview
Peter M. Talty Author Interview

The Jackals’ Fall follows three desperate and questionable men with no experience in crime, who come up with a get-rich-quick plan by kidnapping a rich woman. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

There were a couple of things driving The Jackals’ Fall: I wanted to write a book where some law-abiding citizens do something very much out of the character of the people in the story and become major felons. It is a fall from grace theme, where the characters become felons for different motivations.

Each of the characters, even minor ones, are well developed and interesting. What was your approach to writing the interactions between characters?

They were all parts of many different people who I knew personally, or I read people like them real crime books and TV shows.

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

Good people doing bad things, and amateurs trying to commit the perfect crime. I wanted the crime and the characters to be believable and deeply conflicted.

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

I am writing a biography of my youngest brother who is now deceased, but he lived a life of failure, disappointment, loss, and loneliness. He was misunderstood by everyone one who knew him, and I want to honor him by getting a book at shows his intelligence, resourcefulness, and perseverance. His life was a tragedy, but one he tried to rise above but failed at everything he attempted.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

Jay Blinksiter and Horace (“Horse”) Kellerman convinced each other that they could kidnap a rich old lady, safely hold her for bigtime ransom, collect it, return her to her lavish style, and repeat the process with new victims in different cities. They found the perfect place to hold their intended victims in a rural upstate New York decrepit animal rescue farm.

Jay and “Horse” were two law-abiding citizens who convinced each other and a naïve friend that they could kidnap a rich, older lady, and safely hold her for a hefty ransom in a faltering animal rescue farm. Unanticipated tragedies would befall them all.

Children Are Always My Inspiration

Tamera Foley, Ph.D. Author Interview

Cassie’s Big Change: Going from the Living Room to the Classroom follows a young girl who is learning to write a story in her class and learning to express her feelingsWhat was the inspiration for your story?

The inspiration for the book was seeing children around the world missing the social interaction with peers in their classroom and school. I believe we need to allow children to express their feelings and continue to encourage them to use their voices. It was important for children to have hope that things could be back to normal with the support of teachers, family, and friends.

Many children also experience difficulty transitioning back to school. We know that many children had multiple mental health issues in the height of the pandemic and school provides a safe place. This is where they can get services and resources.

Children’s mental health and social-emotional health must be a priority for families, schools, and the nation. 

Children are always my inspiration to help make a difference in their lives and others.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Gaurav Bhatnagar?

Gaurav and I worked well together, going back and forth. I gave him detailed instructions. We also met via Zoom when he needed help understanding. We are still working together on projects now.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

It was important that I told the story from Cassie’s perspective. It was also important that children were able to share their feelings and have adults who supported them. I wanted them to know that it was crucial, to be honest with themselves and others. It was my goal to incorporate social-emotional learning in every Cassie book.

What is the next book in Cassie’s Big Change Series you are working on, and when will it be available?

I am actually working on two books and don’t know which one will be published first. I probably will publish one later this year.

Author Links: Facebook | Website | Goodreads | Twitter

Cassie has been learning on a laptop at home due to COVID-19 but once again, things are changing. Vaccines are available and infection rates are declining, allowing schools to reopen. Going back into the school building means that Cassie, her family, and friends must readjust once more; while some things are the same, other things have permanently changed.

In this second installment of the Cassie’s Big Change series, Cassie and her crew transition from learning on the computer at home to once again sharing the educational experience in the classroom. Peek in on the first days back in the building, how COVID changed life for Cassie and her friends, and the tools their teachers give them to manage their thoughts and feelings during this big change.

The Fearless Dragon Heir

Hayley Reese Chow Author Interview

Odriel’s Heirs follows a sheltered young woman with the power of flame who has to learn to control her gift and save humans that have cast her out. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story? 

Odriel’s Heirs was my first book, so by the time I sat down to write it, I’d been thinking about the story for years. I’ve always loved chosen one stories, but I really wanted to show how the reality of a chosen one could be extremely difficult and burdensome. Honestly, I can see seeds of inspiration from so many of my favorite childhood books and TV shows sprinkled in this story: Sabriel by Garth Nix, X-men, and even Dragon Ball Z. I love the idea that Kaia has a gift that is difficult to use and, in a time of peace, made her an outcast instead of a hero. But then when she finally has a chance to become a hero like she always dreamed, it is more heart-breaking and nightmarish than she could have ever imagined.

Kaia comes into her gift as the Dragon Heir at a time when people felt it was not needed or wanted, till disaster strikes. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

As a teenager, I read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, in which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote, “A man who is warm cannot understand a man who is freezing,” and it really stuck with me. I think in times of peace, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to imagine what we would have to do or endure in times of violence or war. And, many times, I feel like rather than confront these scary or uncomfortable thoughts or possibilities, people would rather avert their gaze from reminders of those difficult truths. In the world of Okarria, Kaia is definitely one of these uncomfortable reminders, and her people spurn her for it, but I love how that doesn’t steal her desire to fulfill her role and protect those people. Although she often doesn’t feel like the fearless Dragon Heir she’s meant to be, the fact that she accepts this mantle on behalf of her people really shows her true strength and courage. 

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

One of the strongest themes in this book, and the series as a whole, is that even when we’re at rock bottom, at the end of our rope, we’re still capable of so much more than we believe. And though Odriel’s Heirs is full of danger and battles, it is the mental struggle with Kaia’s own confidence she must win if she wishes to survive. Kaia must come to terms with her shortcomings and her strengths and as such, she has to learn to have faith in both those around her and herself in order to come to her full potential. Although Odriel’s Heirs is an epic fantasy novel, Kaia’s coming-of-age underscores her every challenge, and it was so fulfilling to really watch Kaia grow from the self-conscious sheep-girl into a legendary Dragon Heir. 

Is this the first book in the series? If so, when is the next book coming out and what can your fans expect in the next story?

Yes! Odriel’s Heirs is a trilogy with stand-alone entries linked by two novellas. The first book, Odriel’s Heirs, follows the Dragon Heir. Burning Shadows, a follow-on novella, links the story to the second book, Idriel’s Children, which follows a Shadow Heir of the next generation. Then, Night of Ash, another follow-on novella, links the narrative to the final book, Time’s Orphan, which follows a Time Heir. Time’s Orphan will be released on Feb 8th 2023 and the series will be complete! It’s been such a joy to embark and complete this epic adventure, and I’m so thankful to all the readers who’ve joined me along the way! Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy Odriel’s Heirs!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Website

Winner of the 2020 Florida Author Project sponsored by Biblioboard and Library Journal.
5th place finalist in the 2021 Book Blogger Novel of the Year Awards.


The brave, burning with fire, harnessed the Dragon’s Rage….

As the Dragon Heir, seventeen-year-old Kaia inherited the power of flame to protect her homeland from a godlike necromancer’s undead army. But after centuries of peace, the necromancer has faded to myth, and the Dragon Heir is feared by the people. Persecuted and cast out, Kaia struggles to embrace and control her seemingly useless gift while confined to her family’s farm.

But when the necromancer’s undead terrorize the land once again, Kaia runs away to join the battle.

With the help of her childhood rival, the handsome Shadow Heir, and a snarky, cursed cat, Kaia must figure out how to control both her fire and her confidence in time to save Okarria. If she fails, she will sacrifice her family, her new friends, and the enchanting world she has only just begun to see.

And time is running out.
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