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Am I Brave Enough To Conquer It?

Cynthia Kern OBrien Author Interview

Marky the Magnificent Fairy follows a young fairy who is teased for looking different and teaches the other fairies about acceptance and compassion. What was the inspiration for your story?

Writing Marky has been a very emotional journey. The book has always been about a Fairy who could not fly because she had a small wing, but she could still do so many other things. However, it began to evolve into much more as I started talking to teachers, doctors, families, and others who work with and/or live with special needs children.

I am so blessed and fortunate to have partnered with Linda Radke and the Story Monsters team on this book. The entire team fell in love with Marky as I did. It has been a passion project for all of us.

What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?

Marky the Magnificent Fairy is written with the intent of eliciting back and forth discussions with children at home or in the classroom. This book is about diversity, inclusion, bullying, disabilities, kindness, believing in yourself, self-love, confidence, acceptance, positivity, and compassion. No matter what age you are.

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

I always had a firm vision of Marky in my head, and I could not move on to any other illustrations until she was created. I knew once we captured the essence of Marky everything else would fall into place. During a phone call I gave Jeff the “backstory” of who Marky was and how she came to be. That was helpful to him in understanding her background and importance.

As a surprise Jeff added in the small yellow Japanese Caterpillar which you see throughout the story. I have since named that caterpillar “Tomo” which is short for Tomodachi which means friend in Japanese.

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

We are still busy rolling out Marky the Magnificent Fairy which is currently in Pre-Order. Tomo plushies are on the way and will be available for sale soon. We are currently updating my website to accommodate it all… However, there is a dystopian novel I started outlining a year ago, the question is, am I brave enough to conquer it?

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Believing in yourself isn’t always easy. Marky learns that firsthand when the other woodland fairies make fun of her. They laugh at her one small wing and say mean things about her fiery-red hair, her glasses and her freckles. It is hurtful, but through Marky’s determination, she helps them understand that everyone has exceptional qualities. Some are visible. Some are invisible. Through her kindness, Marky teaches her friends about self-love, confidence, acceptance, positivity and compassion. She reminds them they are magnificent. Readers of all ages learn to believe in themselves and the importance of treating everyone with respect and kindness.

I Wanted Them To Be Big And Scary

Matt Galanos Author Interview

Dane Thorburn and Nature’s Revenge follows a courageous hero who needs to find out why Dragons are invading their land and why they are after the Princess. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

[Matt Galanos]: It was based on a question I asked myself as a result of the ending of the previous book. In Dane Thorburn and the City of Lost Souls, Dane manages to rescue the Princess from an ancient, long-lost wizard prison that no one has ever escaped from in the history of the land (readers will know all the details, so I won’t say any more about it). The question I asked myself was, what would happen if the actual Ruling Elements of Nature themselves (Air, Earth, Fire and Water) – the underlying source of every living thing in the land, did not realise the Princess was innocent and should never have been imprisoned in the City of Lost Souls, and sent their own creatures after her after she was rescued.

The creatures in this book were very intriguing. How did you go about creating them for this book?

[Matt Galanos] I needed to have one creature from each of the Ruling Elements, and I wanted them to be big and scary. A dragon is terrifying enough and a creature everyone knows about, but with the others, I wanted them to have their own special characteristics that would make them unique to this story and difficult to kill. So, after giving it some thought, I created each one:

A dragon – from the Fire Element, with all the fire-breathing and terror that dragons are known for.

A giant kestrel – from the Air Element, much larger than an eagle or any other bird seen in the land before, so large ‘it blotted out the sun.’

A serpent – from the Earth Element, one that was able to blend with its surroundings and where its mouth could spring from its body like a harpoon firing and latch on to its prey.

A sarkoe – from the Water Element. This was my favourite of them all. A ‘sarkoe’ is actually a name taken from an ancient breed of crocodile. To make this one unique and more terrifying, I added the shape-shifting ability and the ability to be equally adept on land as it is in water.

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

[Matt Galanos] I liked all the scenes with the sarkoe – it was such a gruesome and fearsome beast, and if I had to pick a favourite, it was the scene where Dane, Will, Lord Frederick and the rest of the Brindabeare Knights have to fight it.

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

[Matt Galanos] I’m working on the next instalment in the Dane Thorburn series, and it should be available in the first half of 2023.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Dane Thorburn has rescued Princess Vanessa from the City of Lost Souls, but all is not well.
Four mysterious and mythical creatures are weaving trails of destruction and mayhem across the land,
and it seems there is little anyone can do to stop them.

Rieden Reece and the Broken Moon – Book Trailer

Everyone keeps secrets. And all kids keep secrets from their parents. But what if your secret were so big, so terrible, and so impossible, no one would believe you anyway?

Rieden Reece hides such a secret.

To an outside observer, Ri may seem somewhat average. A troubled kid from a broken home coping with his personal pile of problems. A snarky thirteen-year-old can only deal with so much.

The night the moon cracks changes him forever.

When the moon breaks, it starts a chain of events leading him on the greatest adventure of his life. By his side, a shadowy figure from another universe whom Ri calls the Shadow Man. Together they must fight the evil powers beyond Ri’s understanding. It forces him to muster up the strength, bravery, and grit he never knew he had.

And the countdown until complete collapse continues…

Will Ri be able to stitch the moon back together before his universe completely unravels? And can he reverse what is happening to his helpless mom…

Read and Read and Read Some More

Susannah Nilsen Author Interview

A Splash of Colour is a wonderful picture book introducing colours to children. What made you write a story about this topic? Did you pull anything from your life experiences?

For many years, I was a classroom teacher. I started writing in December of 2021.

My motivation in writing A Splash of Colour was the same as for all of my books.

Thus far, I’ve published two children’s picture books using a conventional format.

So, with a narrative structure and characters and with illustrations that reinforce and complement the written text.

I will write many more of these however thus far most of my picture books have had less a conventional narrative structure. They are much more an educational aid explicitly teaching maths and language concepts. These are aimed at early childhood albeit with the written text and the illustrations complementing and reinforcing each other and aimed to be read by children or to children.

There are many educational workbooks for younger children but these serve a completely different function to children’s picture books.

I feel passionately about the importance of having children arrive in a classroom setting for the first time, feeling confident and comfortable around words and numbers. Word and number intelligence are the bedrock of our educational system and its curriculum. Without feeling at ease in this environment, children start their formal schooling on the back foot.

And it’s so easy to make a difference in the life of a child. If as an adult you feel comfortable with words, then read and read and read some more to the children in your life. Some children will find the journey of learning to read harder than others. With support and strategies they will learn to read. For them to live in a

home environment where words and reading are a comfortable part of the atmosphere will be powerful. And I have never met a child who didn’t adore being read to.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun writing or illustrating?

I was gardening and the rhyming verses flew through my mind and the illustrations of colourful birds began to form. I enjoyed creating every page. I love the effect of water colour as a medium and I loved being able to have an entire book using watercolour elements to build up the illustrations. And I also so enjoyed writing in rhyme. If you can get the tempo right, then this style just flows from the mouth of the reader. It’s born to be read out loud and for young children, this is a very effective tool for learning.

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

I next published Numbers Come In Pairs and that’s up on my Amazon bookshelf. The explicit teaching focus of this book is that numbers can be written as words or as digits. Again, its written in a picture book style but without an explicit story narrative. There are characters however. Meet the ones, meet the twos, meet the threes and so on and we discover something that each of the pairs loves to do.

I’m almost ready to publish an educational workbook that fits hand in glove with the picture book. It’s tentative title is Numbers are Never Alone.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

I next published Numbers Come In Pairs and that’s up on my Amazon bookshelf. The explicit teaching focus of this book is that numbers can be written as words or as digits. Again, its written in a picture book style but without an explicit story narrative. There are characters however. Meet the ones, meet the twos, meet the threes and so on and we discover something that each of the pairs loves to do. I’m almost ready to publish an educational workbook that fits hand in glove with the picture book. It’s tentative title is Numbers are Never Alone.

I have just begun a book for primary aged children. The focus is on feelings, naming them up, describing their physicality and their impact. Having a language to speak about feelings is a powerful means of building emotional literacy and a strong sense of self. Books aimed for earlier school aged children and very young children will follow

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book? First of all, for it to effectively help colour recognition in young children. And for it to be enjoyed a book that children will want to revisit again and again. And then for the book to be the best that it could be. I felt very positive building up the book in my mind before putting ideas on paper. I wanted it to be as good as I my imagination had it. And I was really proud of A Splash of Colour. While I feel comfortable with words and can create stories on the fly, I’m new to creating and publishing books and I feel they are getting better each time. It’s so important for us humans to feel proud of what we do and if we can enjoy what we do to earn a crust, how blessed is that!

A goal that I have and I’ve had some limited success with, is using tools to get my books under people’s radars. I struggle with this, I’d happily not have to do it. I have a Shopify store, an Amazon author page and a Facebook page and they will mature with age. I’m excited about blogging because I can add so much more of interest and that’s useful for others and to learn from them.
The issue is that all of it is a tiger in the bushes. In the last two years, I’ve discovered that I’m autistic. This has been a profound and very positive paradigm shift. The downside of such a late diagnosis (Ive just turned 54) is that, as for so many others with late diagnosis is that anxiety and depression are my housemates. This interview took three weeks to sit down and write to as the thought of it brings on anxiety. So, blogging and promotion are tigers in the bushes. But they are tigers that need to be tamed somewhat if my books are ever going to be found by readers and listeners.

Author Links: Website | Amazon

Best friends, not so much or somewhere in the middle. Follow the adventures of some very colourful birds.
With its rhyming text and engaging illustrations, ‘A Splash of Colour’ is a must for young children learning to recognise colour.

Get On With The Business Of Living

Daphne Birkmyer Author Interview

Maiden Voyage follows the twins as their guardian tries to keep them safe among Marcela’s gender affirming surgery and Amadeus’s future in Alaska’s fishing industry. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

Maiden Voyage, the third book in the COMFREY, WYOMING series, finds the twins standing on the cusp of adulthood. At last Marcela Crow has the body she has been seeking since early childhood. Amadeus has always been his sister’s protector and advocate, but after her surgery he feels the loss of the little boy he learned to walk with and talk with—the little boy who once looked so very much like him. Unsure of the role he now plays in Marcela’s life, disillusioned with college and struggling with the illness that claimed his mother, Amadeus leaves Wyoming and family and strikes out on his own.

For Marcela’s story, I relied heavily on a family friend, assigned female at birth, who advocated for his authentic self from a very young age. Like Marcela, he had the support of a loving family, but it couldn’t protect him from painful bullying in school. He is now a successful young man living in another part of the country, where he can maintain his privacy and get on with the business of living. His experience in school was why I deemed it crucial for Heidi, the twins’ guardian, to move the family to Comfrey, where no one would know the children were born identical, and where Marcela would be accepted as a girl.

I had rich sources of experience to call upon for Amadeus’s journey north and his immersion in Alaska’s fishing industry. A woman who travels the Alaskan Canadian highway annually with her dog shared pictures, diaries and anecdotes of her trips with me. Another person, who has worked on fishing boats in Bristol Bay and the Bering Sea for years, spent many hours sharing his experiences and answering my questions. I was so grateful I named my fishing captain after him.

I am also indebted to a college friend, who witnessed and described the gruesome accident that ended the life of one of my characters at sea. For much of his career, my friend worked as a marine scientist monitoring fishing vessels in Alaskan and Arctic waters. He often worked with Inuit observers and remains a passionate advocate for Indigenous fishing rights.

Marcela and Amadeus are intriguing and well-defined characters. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

As babies, the twins’ physical appearance, personalities and precocity were derived from a very special little boy, who joined our family for a time. He is still at the edge of my consciousness when I write about the twins, but his influence has waned as the twins have matured and taken on lives of their own.

Despite being born physically identical, Amadeus and Marcela are essentially yin and yang, opposite but interconnected forces bound by a fierce loyalty. Where Marcela is academic, grounded and artistic, Amadeus is impulsive, competitive and intimately connected to the natural world.

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

People who can communicate with the dead have always intrigued me. Three very different characters in my series maintain strong ties with departed loved ones. Heidi, the twins’ guardian, continues to commune with her deceased child. Beppe, an Italian winemaker and one of the twins’ honorary uncles, hears his grandfather’s voice as he walks his vineyards at dusk. Amadeus is aware of his mother, Nara, in the wind and the sea.     

Despite my dive into metaphysics, however, a scientific current thrums in the background of my books, the legacy of my years of teaching science. In Maiden Voyage, that current includes the genetics of Sphynx cats, the mating rituals of elk and the effect of climate change on the distribution of fish in Arctic waters. 

Another theme in Maiden Voyage is the importance of representation—LBGTQ representation, and racial representation. I am blessed to be part of a racially and gender diverse family. I hope my complex and relatable characters capture readers who may be unfamiliar with the LBGTQ community. Heidi’s cousin, Karl, and his Italian husband, Beppe, have provided her with emotional support for years. They are the strong, loyal men she turned to when she lost her baby to genetic disease in Birds of a Feather, the first book of the series. In Maiden Voyage, Karl comes to San Francisco to support Heidi after Marcela’s surgery. Beppe is the person Amadeus seeks for comfort after he suffers trauma at sea.

My trans character was introduced in the series as a young child, to make her less threatening to those who believe they have never met a transgender person. I wanted readers to bond with Marcela. I wanted them to not merely tolerate her, but to truly appreciate her, her wit, her talent and her integrity.     

To peel back a layer of white privilege, I included a young black man in Maiden Voyage to illustrate the danger and stress of driving while black. My sons are black, my nephews are black, and on my most recent trip to Wyoming for research, I drove with a black friend. The hyper-scrutiny is real, and the hyper-vigilance a person feels under that scrutiny is exhausting. My black character drives from San Francisco to Wyoming alone, always on edge, always with a feeling of dread that he’ll disappear into what he perceives as a wasteland, and never be heard of again.

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

Black Sheep, Black Sheep, Book Four of the COMFREY, WYOMING series, will be released in 2023. People from Pennsylvania, California and the Philippines join the citizens of Comfrey, and at long last, that endangered and highly venomous Midget Faded Rattlesnake alluded to in the first three books, has a significant part to play.   

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

Maiden Voyage, Book Three of Daphne Birkmyer’s COMFREY, WYOMING series, finds twins, Amadeus and Marcela, on very different paths to self-discovery. As their guardian, Heidi Crow, attempts to weave a safety net as original and complex as the twins themselves, she prays it will hold through Marcela’s gender affirming surgery and Amadeus’s uncertain future in Alaska’s lucrative and dangerous fishing industry.

A richly diverse cast, including a Shakespeare-quoting street basketball player and a Chinese purveyor of pu-erh tea, joins characters already beloved by readers of the series in this transcendent tale of nontraditional family and steadfast friends. 

Masterly Misled

Masterly Misled A History of Deceit by Gregory Bathgate is a thought-provoking and intriguing book that explores the conspiracy theories floating around the circumstances of the clash between the Australian cruiser HMAS Sydney and the German auxiliary cruiser HSK Kormoran off the West Australian coast on November 19, 1941. In this book, the author has explored every bit of evidence present at the time of the clash, plus the committee’s rulings. Then, the author explores this case in great detail using these facts and some assumptions.

Author Bathgate provides a collection of data ranging from charts and images to interview snippets and records of the investigation, which I found to be interesting and almost like watching a documentary. However, I did feel that the author’s writing came off as a report conceived to state the facts in their basic form, making me feel like I was one of the investigating officers.

The data collected is arranged topic-wise and presents the arguments to the audience without much ornamentation. I would’ve liked a little more drama to the story and maybe have the investigation reports mixed with a particular form of storytelling or more narrative. However, many details and data are provided, allowing the reader to form their own opinion and try to solve the case alongside the author. This book comes off as a factual read, but I was captivated by all the data and evidence.

Masterly Misled A History of Deceit is a historical look at the mystery of what happened on that day, November 19, 1941. With detailed facts and evidence obtained by the author, readers will be able to come to their own conclusions as to what ruling is correct, if either. I recommend this book to those who enjoy watching detective shows where evidence is provided and the reader ventures alongside the investigator to solve the crime. For readers venturing into this book to search for an interesting conspiracy, this book is for you.

Pages: 351 | ASIN : B0BJ1SXSD3

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In Herschel’s Wake

In Herschel’s Wake by Michael Wohl is a memoir that recounts the author’s journey to his father’s burial. He is accompanied by his siblings on this trip. The style is very intimate, and the subjects are delicate as it deals with death, complicated father-son relationships, grief, and forgiveness. The author’s realization of who his father was might remind the reader of The Stranger by Camus, in which the main character only comes to understand his mother when approaching his own death. This memoir belongs to a larger group of works wherein complex parent-child relationships are only understood when it is too late. It also explores dynamics between siblings which can be tough to navigate as well.

The strength of this book is how honest it is and raw. The reader will feel as though they are reading the author’s personal diary, which might be uncomfortable but also makes it even more beautiful and easy to read. It is truly a page-turner. Although the subjects that are tackled may seem heavy, the tone is humorous at times and make it easier to read. This is an emotional and profound memoir; any reader will find elements that will resonate with them and that they might relate to.

In Herschel’s Wake is an eye-opening memoir about family and relationships. It should be noted that it might need a trigger warning for people with a challenging relationship with their own family that they have not resolved. However, it is definitely a book I would recommend to someone who has gone through grief and has come to terms with it.

Pages: 258 | ASIN : B0B8PCKNZG

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The Lost Siren

The Lost Siren by Hermione Lee starts out with one of the most beautiful settings I have read in a book so far! Aquila is a young, beautiful, and enchanting Siren of the sea. Unfortunately, she wakes up on an iceberg alone, scared, and without a memory of her past. She’s bruised and cut up but finds her way to an island, where she is rescued by a young sorcerer named Everard.

Everard and Aquila fall in love with each other quickly. He takes care of her and answers any questions she has. He doesn’t like it when she has questions about the palace or the royal family. Everard, however, is not the knight in shining armor we all thought at first. He hurts and abandons Aquila, and she is rescued by a handsome king. Aquila quickly falls in love with the king’s kind spirit, but as she starts to regain her memory of her past, she isn’t proud of who she used to be. Finally, war comes to the palace, and Aquila must write all her wrongs to end the war.

I really did enjoy the creative aspect of the book. The world that was created by the author was unique and painted a good picture in my mind. It was well written with great detail. I loved the characters and their development throughout the story. I enjoyed reading about the magical powers they had in this world. An island full of magic creates such a beautiful picture. What I didn’t like about the book was how the relationships developed when it came to love; there was no build-up. I like falling in love with the characters; in this case, readers are not given much to build on.

The Lost Siren is a captivating teen and young adult novel with elements of romance. While there is a love interest, the story focuses on how Aquila deals with her emotions and the realization of who she is. It is perfect for teen girls struggling with who they are and want fantasy novels that focus on more than battles and wizards.

Pages: 158 | ASIN : B0BGPV6LWN

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