Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview with Beverly McClure, author of 'A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat'

When Beverly Stowe McClure was in eighth grade, her teacher sent her poem “Stars” to the National High School Poetry Association, and she was soon a published writer in Young America Sings, an anthology of Texas high school poetry. Today, Beverly is a cum laude graduate of Midwestern State University with a BSEd degree. For twenty-two years, she taught children to read and write. They taught her patience. She is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices in her head tell her. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps photos of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. She also enjoys visiting with her family and teaching a women’s Sunday school class at her church. Her articles have been published in leading children’s magazines. Two of her stories are in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL ANTHOLOGIES, and she has nine novels published, two of them award winning novels at Children’s Literary Classics and other competitions.

Connect with Beverly on the net:


Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. What was your inspiration for it?

A: One summer, on a visit to our son and his wife in South Carolina, we went to Folly Beach, not far from where they lived, to watch the sun rise over the water and lighthouse. It was a beautiful sight. But what caught my attention more than the sunrise was the lighthouse sitting in the middle of the inlet. It was deactivated years ago, but was used during the Civil War. A lighthouse must have a ghost, right? My mind started chasing different scenarios as to who the ghost was and why he was a ghost. What kept him from finding rest? A blockade runner worked nicely, since the ships came into the harbor bringing supplies to the city. Other ideas popped up, too. Pirates were quite active in the area although in earlier years. But, if they were ghosts they could have been around for years. So I added a couple of pirates to the story. And what’s a good ghost story without a cat? My MG/Tween novel APirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat was born.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks is a typical young teen. He plays baseball and likes to hang out with his friends. When his dad leaves home, Erik’s life changes in ways he could never imagine. First, his mom takes Erik from Texas to South Carolina where they move in with her sister. Second, he meets the weird twins that live down the street and that claim they’ve seen a ghost ship in the harbor. Third, Erik doesn’t believe that ghosts exist. Fourth, he soon discovers he might be wrong.     

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: I had fun creating Erik and the twins, typical teens, if you count a girl who can read mind dreams typical. The ghost pirates are based on real pirates, and I did a lot of research to learn about them and their ships so the historical facts would be accurate. I am a slow writer and it took probably two years to write and edit the story. No major bumps along the way. I had visited some of the places in the story, like the lighthouse, and tried to remember what they were like.

Getting the pirate language just right took some research too, but was a lot of fun. Avast, matey. I discovered fascinating information about the two pirates that ended up in the story.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: I try to put the characters in exciting circumstances. In novels for MG readers, the kids like action. They’ll stop reading if they’re bored. Forget description unless it moves the story along. I let the characters get in trouble so the reader will wonder if they’ll get out of it. At this age, friendships are important. And they need trouble. Lots of trouble. Ghosts are just right to cause trouble, along with a cat that Erik hates, and the feeling is mutual.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Sometimes, I look at the blank screen on the computer and think, Okay, where do I start? Will anyone like this story? Can I even write it? The only way to deal with anxiety is to start typing. Yes, there will be many changes, at least for me. I usually rewrite the beginning a jillion times. If I don’t get those first words down, I’ll never have a story. So I go for it and hope I’m headed in the right direction.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I’m a morning person. Usually I work on my WIP from 9:00 AM to 11:30 or 12:00 noon. Then I take a lunch break and maybe check emails or look at blogs. (I’ve done some mail early in the morning before I started writing.) Around 2:00 PM I do edits if I have a manuscript that’s been sold, or else I check my blogs and post on other blogs. Evenings, I write reviews, do critiques for my critique groups (I’m in two), and whatever else needs to be done.

I’m retired from my teaching job, so I have no outside work to interfere with my writing. I’m a playmate for my cats, but other than that, my time is my own.

Q: How do you define success?

A: Success to me is writing novels that help young people enjoy reading, and if they take anything away from the story that makes their lives happier or more understandable, that’s an added bonus.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: It’s hard when your family doesn’t support you, but I feel we each have the right to pursue our dreams. I’m not saying neglect your significant others. Don’t neglect yourself either. Let them know how important your writing is to you. They may surprise you and understand. If they don’t, find time when you’re alone, or make time to be alone, even if it’s only 30 minutes or an hour. Maybe while they’re at work, or anytime they go out for whatever reason. Don’t give up. Follow your dreams. You only have one life.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: Oh, yes. A writer has to be driven; otherwise, why would we sit in a chair for hours a day, typing our hearts away, for pennies a day (at least in my case)? Perhaps we’re a little insane. And the beauty of it is we don’t care. We’re doing what we love.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Just thank you for hosting me today. Thank all you awesome readers for your comments and thoughts. You’re the ones that keep us writing, you know. If you have a chance, stop by my blog and see what’s happening. http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.



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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Interview with Katreina Eden, author of Bible Bands: Create Your Own Faith-Based Rubber Band Jewelry

Katreina Eden grew up in the Midwest, eventually landing in California, where she went to law school and then ran her own law firm for a number of years. She currently works as the Executive Vice President of Cedar Fort, Inc., in Springville, Utah. Katreina also owns and operates Organiwic, LLC, an all-natural candle company, with her sister. She enjoys being out in nature and spending time with family. Aside from being published in various legal journals, this is Katreina’s first trade publication.
It's  apleasure to have you on my blog, Katreina! How did you come up with the idea to write Bible Bands? The idea was actually suggested by the owner of our publishing company because the topic was a huge trend but we wanted to add a bit of a twist to what was already out on the market and we thought the Bible themes would also help inspire kids.

How was your writing process like? The hardest part about writing the book, aside from learning the art and then creating my own designs, was taking all the step-by-step images. Going into the project, I thought it would be difficult to come up with my own design ideas, but once I learned how to make the jewelry, coming up with my own designs to match scripture themes came pretty easy. I was surprised about that part. Some of the technical aspects of the designs were a little more difficult to create than others once I had a vision of what I wanted so it was a matter of trial and error until the design worked.

What do you hope children will take away from your book? Mostly I hope kids will learn that they can have fun while being spiritually uplifted as well. I want them to be able to embrace their spiritual beliefs, whatever they may be, through living life, not just when they happen to be in church.

This is your first book. Are there any more on the way? Maybe. I'd like to write more, but I'm also extremely busy. It will probably depend on if this one is successful.

You're also an attorney and vice-president of Cedar Fort, Inc. Tell us about that. Ever since I was little, I have been rather determined and let's say ambitious. I like learning. Going to law school and practicing law was just something I wanted to do at the time and I am grateful for the knowledge and training law school and the practice of law has provided me. I also enjoy helping good businesses succeed and being involved in that actual process. Cedar Fort is a great place to work and I feel we are trying to accomplish great things by inspiring the world through books.

What has been the most rewarding aspect of writing this book? I think the most rewarding aspect is seeing other's reactions to the book. I had no idea others would find it so enjoyable. Initially I took on the project because it made good business sense, but it has turned in to more than that.


Anything else you'd like to share with readers? I would just say live your dreams; nothing is impossible with God's help.
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Friday, September 19, 2014

Book Review: ‘Bible Bands: Rubber Band Jewelry’ by Katreina Eden


bible bandsBible Bands is a fun, educational how-to book for children who love making jewelry. Not only does it teaches how to make lovely designs, but it also strengthens children’s faith by combining hands-on creativity with Bible verses and stories.
Rubber band jewelry seems to be the hottest new craze, so Eden’s book comes at the right time. Though at first glance, when you look at the jewelry, it might seem complicated and difficult to make, especially for kids, the author demystifies it with simple step-by-step instructions accompanied by colorful photos. I found the language and descriptions clear and straight-forward, easy for most kids to understand, though the younger ones will need guidance from an adult, at least at first. There are over 12 designs, from the simplest to the most elaborate.
Eden incorporates faith with verses and symbols, such as a blue and white pattern to symbolize Christ’s baptism, a heart design to remind you of God’s love, and a multi-colored weave to match Joseph’s coat of many colors, among others.
Bible Bands doesn’t come with the looms or bands, but you can find these at most craft shops. This will make a lovely gift for any child, especially those who are into crafts. It is also a good book for those long summer and Christmas holidays, as it will keep children entertained for hours. Recommended!
Find out more on Amazon.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics.
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review: ‘Stolen Dreams’ by Christine Amsden (new adult fiction)


StolenDreams_med-193x300I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.
If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:
In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.
And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.
There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.
There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.
My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book review: Tanner Builds a Block Tower, by Anita Banks

Tanner Builds a Block Tower is an adorable picture book for ages 3-6 by debut author Anita Banks. It tells the sweet story of a little boy with big dreams:
"I'm going to build a tower. It's going to be bigger than the trees. It will touch the sky."
But as he carries his blocks into the garden and encounters different animals--ants, ladybugs, a chipmunk, a rabbit, and a cat--something unexpected happens and he will have to figure out where all his blocks have gone. Will he get to build his big tower, after all?
Anita Banks has created a charming, totally sweet picture book that will both educate and entertain. Young children will learn about animals and numbers as they follow Tanner on his adventures. The illustrations are lively and colorful and well suit the story. Anita Banks is a name to watch out for!

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Title:  Tanner Builds a Block Tower
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, ages 3-6  
Author:  Anita Banks
Website:  www.anitabanks.com
Publisher: Wee Creek Press




About the book:  Tanner is determined to build a tower with his blocks. Despite the distractions of the garden’s various animals and losing his blocks on the way, Tanner joyfully shows determination and perseverance.


About the author:  Anita Banks harbored her secret of writing since she was in junior high school where the desire took seed in a creative writing class. She still journaling, reading, running and traveling, but nothing compares to playing with her grandchildren.


Links to your site/blog/FB and Twitter:
@anitambanks

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Book Review: The Tooth Fairy Trap, by Rachelle Burk

Title: The Tooth Fairy Trap
Author: Rachelle Burk
Illustrator: Amy Moreno
Publisher: Wiggle Room Books
Format: Paperback
Pages: 69
Price: $8.09
Genre: Fantasy chapter book

Book description:

Bluma is a young tooth fairy who is allergic to her own fairy dust. She faces many problems during this night of tooth collecting, but her biggest challenge is Brian's fairy trap. Bluma can succeed in collecting his tooth only with the help of the boy's grouchy hamster, and a few things she has collected through the night. An illustrated chapter book for young readers.

My thoughts...

This is a charming, magical picture book about a super cute tooth fairy and her adventures as she does her duty visiting the various children's homes during the night. Children will be enchanted by the story as our young tooth fairy, Bluma, tries to come up with a clever way to get the tooth from Bradley without falling for his trap. To do so, she must come up with ideas and enlist the help of a furry friend. 

The language is simple, yet playful and lovely. The black & white illustrations by talented artist Amy Moreno complement the book perfectly. The Tooth Fairy Trap is a beautifully written tale that will delight children and adults alike. Highly recommended! 

Find out more on Amazon

Visit the author's website.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

On the Spotlight: Anita Banks, Author of 'Tanner Builds a Block Tower'


I'm thrilled to announce the release of debut children's author Anita Banks. Her picture book, Tanner Builds a Block Tower (for ages 3-6) was just published by Wee Creek Press. I had the pleasure of "virtually" meeting Anita when she took my "Walking on a Rainbow" picture book workshop on Savvy Authors two years ago. Major congrats, Anita! 

My review of Tanner Builds a Block Tower coming soon! 

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Title:  Tanner Builds a Block Tower
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, ages 3-6  
Author:  Anita Banks
Websitewww.anitabanks.com
Publisher: Wee Creek Press




About the book:  Tanner is determined to build a tower with his blocks. Despite the distractions of the garden’s various animals and losing his blocks on the way, Tanner joyfully shows determination and perseverance.


About the author:  Anita Banks harbored her secret of writing since she was in junior high school where the desire took seed in a creative writing class. She still journaling, reading, running and traveling, but nothing compares to playing with her grandchildren.


Links to your site/blog/FB and Twitter:
@anitambanks


www.tips-fb.com