Eve of Darkness really puts the ‘dark’ in dark fantasy. Was this intentional or did this just happen organically while writing?
It was intentional. I wanted to take a time when we were at our cruelest to one another. Slavery, piracy, stations, disease, etc. I wanted to show that and then throw in a hell hound, demons, the walking dead, shapeshifters, and then some magic and see what would happen.
Eve of Darkness is really brought to life by Wesley Bruff’s narration. What was the collaboration like to convert your book to audio?
I was so very blessed to have found Wesley Bruff. Not only is he a talented narrator but he also just seems to “know” the characters and seems to understand what I want. He would do a character’s voice and then send it for me to review and it was so mind blowing how dead on point he was. He is AWESOME! He brought my book to life and made it seem real for me and the listener.
Do you see storytelling from a different perspective now that you’ve had your story read aloud?
Yes, now that I can listen I see how different it is then sitting down and creating that world.
Just hearing how the characters interact help me a lot more when I am writing.
Which of your other books do you plan to have in audiobook format?
Wesley Bruff is set to start on book two soon.
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Lefty Saves the Day follows Gracie as she tries to overcome her anxiety about an upcoming baseball game. What was the inspiration for the setup to this lovely children’s story?
From a personal experience, the first time I played baseball someone put the bat in my right hand. I swung and missed each time. Then, I switched hands, which felt natural to me. I swung. The bat made contact with the ball. I was told to run. I made it to the make-shift base which was a sweatshirt. I am left-handed. Ruth Craver, the illustrator, is left-handed. Neither of us had read much literature about being left-handed.
Gracie is presented with some unique challenges for being left handed. Why was this an important topic for you to discuss?
There are so many different approaches and mannerisms left-handed people adapt to such as reading the print on a pen (upside down if you hold in your left hand), measuring cups, rulers, and wall-fastened pencil sharpeners to name a few. Being left-handed is a different type of diversity and one that comes with some challenges but can be accomplished with awareness.
The art in this book is cute and lively. What was the art collaboration like with Ruth Craver?
Ruth and I have known each other for over twenty years. Ruth is a very creative illustrator. Our first work together was in N Is For Noah, then with the debut Lefty novel, Don’t Call me Lefty. We work well together even though distance makes it rare to discuss the books in person. We go over all of the artwork and placement of Ruth’s illustrations within the book. I really appreciate her timeliness, gift, and dedication.
Lefty Saves the Day is the second book in your Don’t Call Me Lefty series. What can readers expect from book three in the series?
Gracie Carter will address other challenges for being left-handed. The next few books in the series are a bit more humorous and of course, Scott and Gracie bump elbows. The exact book from the remaining four has not been determined so the precise lefty challenge cannot be revealed.
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Crimson at Cape May finds Darrel between a battle for his reputation and a battle against paranormal forces. What were some sources of inspiration that influenced this novels development?
Having lost his job—and maybe his love—in Wilshire, Darrell heads to Cape May (New Jersey) to help coach a summer football camp. With being forced to resign, he needs the money and hopes it will give him the time and opportunity to restore his reputation. When he arrives in Cape May, he finds a town almost frozen in time, surrounded by incredible Victorian mansions everywhere. But he also discovers the old seacoast town is flush with spirits who pester and haunt him to help out one of their own. Darrell has to balance both his “gift” for seeing into the spirit world with his efforts to get his old job back. In the end, he commits to help another young student whose sister has gone missing, which ties to all his problems.
There have been several times in my life where reputation, job and livelihood was threatened and I drew on these experiences and the reserves I used to meet these very real challenges to help sketch Darrell’s predicament and his way of navigating out of it. Because of my experience, my hope is the reader will find Darrell’s journey credible and something they themselves can relate to.
I enjoyed Cassie’s character and found her relatable. What were some ideas you wanted to capture in Cassie and Darrel’s relationship?
My choice of Cassie as a POV character was deliberate and carefully thought out. First of all, she and Darrell are opposites, or appear to be. Darrell is a traditional, successful (kind of) teacher and coach, from a good family and good upbringing. Cassie is none of those things. She has been abused and denigrated and runs away from her family, such as it is. Instead, she has had to learn skills to survive on her own, in her teens. But Darrell’s first instinct is to reach out and protect children and young people in trouble. As a teacher, it’s part of his DNA—a characteristic I witnessed for real in my many of my teaching colleagues. When he encounters Cassie, Darrell recognizes the vulnerability of the young woman, even through her hard-shell, street-smart armor she has wrapped herself in. Then as “sensitives,” they begin to check each other out and eventually learn to trust each other. Erin proves to be critical in their evolving relationship as she stands in almost as an older sister for Cassie. Darrell never stops feeling responsible for the younger Cassie—especially as her life is threatened—but in the end, he realizes they have to work together to solve the murder of the Haunted Bride. This fictional relationship reflects the very real dilemma that parents and teachers face everyday with teenagers. Adults who care for kids have to find a way to take care of them and try to keep them from the greatest risks, while at the same time allowing the adolescents to begin to make some decisions themselves, even though some of those decisions are unwise and even dangerous. It’s a tightrope that is not easy to navigate. Darrell, like parents and teachers, has trouble knowing when to let go.
I enjoyed the compelling mystery behind this story. Was the arc planned or did it develop organically while writing?
My approach to my stories fall some where between the “plotter” and the “pantser” mindset. Before beginning a novel, I will have completed a general outline of the story arc, of essential characters, of the crime itself and, of course, of the thematic issue. In addition, since each entry of this series is set in a new resort location (BLOOD on the Eastern Shore, CRIMSON in Cape May), I do a considerable amount of local research to ensure my setting is accurate and thorough, which in turn requires a considerable deal of planning including how the setting snd plot will interact. Layering over all that is where the ghost elements will intrude, another planning aspect.
I realize that sounds pretty far in the plotter camp, but there is much more. Then as I begin the actual manuscript, I find myself “pantsing,” more writing by the seat of my pants. As characters develop, I find myself adjusting the trajectory of the narrative and writing accordingly. There are elements of the plot and storyline that I deliberately do not plan in advance. For example, I don’t make a final decision on who the actual antagonist will be until I am well into the narrative. That way I make sure that several suspects are viable and keep my inner reader guessing until the reveal—as I hope I do for the actual readers of the novel. I do make some slight adjustments to this plotter/pantser balance for different novels but find overall this approach works well for me.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently completing the third book in the Haunted Shores Mysteries Series no title determined as yet), a Christmas ghost mystery set in Crystal River, Florida. I thought the idea of setting a holiday mystery in the warm climes of Florida’s Gulf coast to be an interesting challenge and decided to take Darrell and his new wife, Erin, on their honeymoon there. And number three will have a very different ghost twist—the ghosts are those of two young Hispanic children who have mysteriously disappeared. An added plus is this gave me an opportunity to explore another serious issue the nation is grappling with, the life of migrant workers and the fate of illegal immigrants. I hope I’ve come up with a mix that will make number three another interesting entry in the series. This third installment is scheduled for release for October 2021—in time for Christmas, of course.
Elizabeth Moseley’s The Garden and the Glen is a delightful fable with a timeless feel. The story, which follows a blue butterfly exiled from her home for being different, is simple yet poignant. With the help of her charming woodland friends, who take her in with gracious, open arms, blue butterfly finds the strength to overcome the tyranny of the bossy butterfly and once again turn the forest into a safe haven for all to inhabit without fear of discrimination.
The book is divided into sixteen chapters, including the epilogue. Each chapter is bite-sized and easily digestible by younger readers, while still remaining enjoyable and engaging to older readers. The delivery of this fantastic story is similar in style to Aesop’s Fables.
Maggie Green, the illustrator, does a superb job at capturing the idyllic imagery of the garden and the glen. Her use of soft pastel watercolors throughout makes both the woodland creatures and the scenery of their home appear magical and precious. The illustrations also help the reader follow along with the dialogue and happenings of the story.
The content is just as welcome in an elementary school classroom as it is to a contemporary adult audience. The author’s ageless message about the value of embracing our own differences, as well as the uniqueness of those around us, is particularly relevant at this current juncture of 2020. This is a read I would gladly pick up over and over again when I feel that I need the inspiration it provides.
Tags: author, book, book review, bookblogger, children, childrens book, ebook, Elizabeth Moseley, fable, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, inspirationa, kids, kids book, kindle, kobo, literature, nook, novel, picture book, read, reader, reading, story, The Garden And The Glen, writer, writing, young reader
Oink and Gobble have very little in common, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best of friends. No matter what others on the farm may say about either of them, they manage to ignore it and live happy-go-lucky lives. When Oink’s cupcakes go missing, the two best friends set out on a mission to find the culprit. With Gobble’s love for logic and Oink’s overactive imagination, the pair is bound to solve the mystery–with some light-hearted moments along the way.
Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Mohammad Shayan, is a children’s book filled with humorous moments between farm animals and best friends on their way to solving a mystery. Bright and colorful illustrations clearly convey the story line and further add to the plot. Included is a page with the names of each farm animal complete with labels.
I enjoyed this book, but I felt like the story line belongs in a book for children ages 2 to about 6 while the verbiage and some of the exchanges between characters I think might be above the heads of most children in that age group. I enjoyed the asides and the humor injected into the dialogue but found it more appropriate for older readers. I would recommend the plot of the story for young children, but the narrative is much more fitting for young adult readers.
Well-written and superbly illustrated this book will bring a smile to readers’ faces. I think this book is best read with parents or teachers as it presents many learning opportunities. Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes is a fun and funny picture book.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07YN4W37Q
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The Penitent: Part II introduces readers to Evangel. Rescued by a hermit and raised to embrace her powers. Although she tries to keep her powers a secret, fate has other plans for her. As she struggles with understanding her powers while keeping them hidden, one vision she has will change her life and the lives of countless others.
This is book two in A. Keith Carreiro’s Immortality Wars epic fantasy series. While I picked up the series at book two I was no less intrigued by the compelling world and lured in by the fascinating characters. Evangel is a character that is well accustomed to loss and pain. She’s a character I could easily empathize with and root for. The slow development, and evolution of her character, was something that kept me turning pages. The story is colored with base tones of faith and religion and I appreciated the subtly of its presence balanced with the far reaching effects it had on the characters. Evangel’s perspective of the world is a bit naive, but I found that to be endearing. In light of the dangerous world in which she lives I found it to be a welcome contrast that is well portrayed by the author. Her faith and beliefs are challenged, but what protagonist isn’t challenged in some way in a good epic fantasy novel?
I recommend starting the series with book one if you can, but otherwise this book is still intriguing. Pall is an interesting character that I would love to learn more about, especially since his story line seems to be so closely connected to my favorite character Evangel. Their relationship is intriguing and I wanted to explore it further.
A. Keith Carreiro has created an intricate world for some enthralling characters to inhabit. Things are rarely what they seem and I enjoyed the air of mystery that seemed to color everything coupled with a relentless sense of adventure. With deep world building and multi-layered characters, fans of epic fantasy will have much to appreciate in The Penitent series. I can’t wait for part three.
Pages: 256 | ASIN: B01MAZDG4S
Jimmy McGellan is known as Jimmy Crikey, a name he loathes and only serves to remind him of the bullying he has endured from children in his school. His aunt is raising him and caring for him the best way she knows how, but Jimmy needs a change–he wants to be rid of the hurt and begin again somewhere far from this place that doesn’t ever really feel like home. He has no way of knowing exactly how much his young life will change when he chooses to venture away from his aunt and out on his own. A new world awaits him–a world he could never have imagined.
The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Crikey: Worlds Beneath And Above The Stars, by Wallace E. Briggs, is a fantasy/science fiction adventure based on the main character Jimmy Crikey. Young Jimmy is relatable, lovable, and heroic. As his journey begins, he is clearly bullied, singled out for some glaring physical differences, and belittled to the point of despair. Young readers will find themselves identifying with his struggle and rooting for him from the very first chapter.
Briggs has created a beautiful world that meshes fantasy and science fiction for young readers. When Jimmy finds himself meeting one fantastic being after the other in Roombelow, readers will get an Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-The-Wizard-of-Oz feeling. However, Briggs’s work is original and departs from both story lines enough to make it into its own category. As the story began, I wasn’t taken with the science fiction aspect of Jimmy’s tale, but it grew on me, and soon I was engrossed in his mission and the plight of the unique characters.
Briggs’s lengthy list of secondary characters can at some points grow a little confusing, but many of them stand out in their own right. Gemma, for one, is a well-drawn character who provides important plot points and is just the right fit for a boy like Jimmy coming from a world of pain above. I was impressed with the vast array of characters and the unique traits given each.
Two notable elements of Briggs’s story deal with the obvious departure from violence and the rise of an otherwise weak character. As a teacher and mother of teens, I found it refreshing that characters in a book meant for school-age readers took a pointed turn from violence. The book does have some later scenes in which pain is inflicted, but the author is careful at the outset of the story to veer away from violent acts between groups of beings.
I found the heroism and the building up of a character’s self-esteem to be a refreshing and much-needed read right now. Young readers who look for science fiction elements in their chapter books will appreciate Jimmy’s discovery about himself and will find themselves lost in his world. I highly recommend Briggs’s work to any teacher looking for a long-lasting read aloud for students from ages 9 to 11.
Pages: 302 | ASIN: B08B34V4TN
Jack is stuck at home with the measles, but he is still up for adventure. When his mother insists that he rest and takes away his television and game privileges, he is stuck with books–his least favorite things. Imagination, however, is stronger than even Jack realizes, and soon he finds himself lost in one world after another as he gazes out his window. Will Jack put two and two together and figure out what his teachers knew all along?
Jack, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Nina Mkhoiani, stresses the importance of books and the impact they have on our lives without ever stating it outright. Whaler uses Jack to demonstrate the effect stories have on children and how, when instruction is administered effectively, they never truly realize how much they are learning. The way in which Whaler uses the changing clouds to spark Jack’s imagination is quite ingenious. The illustrations by Mkhoiani are vibrant and eye-catching and convey the story line well.
I recommend this short children’s picture book to any teacher in grades K-3 who wants to impress upon students the fantastic wealth of information that can be found in books. This quick read would make a wonderful read-aloud to kick off the new school year.
Pages: 24 | ASIN: B07B2DNQPX
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