Monday, June 30, 2008

Interview with Children's Author Jeff Clineff

A native of West Chester Pennsylvania, children's author Jeff Clineff now resides in Douglassville with his wife, two children, in-laws, eight cats, and two dogs. Though he has been writing all his life for various people and activities, Too Many Kitties is his first published work. In this interview, Clineff talks about his book, his cats, the difficulty of writing picture books, and he offers some good advice to aspiring authors.

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

My recent and, at the moment, only release is called Too Many Kitties. It is about a day in the life of a boy and his three kitties, Gracie, Skipper and Maxx. It is based on three cats my wife and I have owned in our marriage. Of course, you don’t really “own” cats; they just agree to share their living space with you.
At 15, Gracie is our oldest. She is very much a lap cat and will spend the evenings sitting on my lap and watching TV.

Skipper was an orange tabby stray that we took care of when we lived in Virginia. He was a big, heavy cat. In the mornings, when he wanted to go outside, he would climb up onto the bed, sit on your chest and stare at your face, waiting until you woke up. This didn’t take long given his weight and our need to breath. The minute you opened your eyes he would HOWL until you got up to let him out.

Maxx was a stray who found us in Virginia was well. He was a light tan color with beautiful markings but the oddest thing about him was he had too many toes. Each foot had an extra toe, the front paw toes looking like thumbs. It was our firm belief that the minute we left the house, the other cats would convince Maxx to use his thumbs to work the cat food can opener or dial out for pizza.
Currently, I share my house with my wife, two kids, our six cats, my in-laws, their three cats and two dogs.

What are you working on now?

I have one picture book manuscript that is going through final edits before submitting it to my publisher. I have one picture book I hope to have ready by fall for submission. There are two tween science fiction chapter books rattling around in my head that I need to start putting down on paper, as well as a comedic fantasy novel and Christian mystery book based on Revelations.

Where are your books available?

Too Many Kitties is available from Guardian Angel Publishing, Borders, or Amazon.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

My Website is I recently started blogging there, with each new update posted “when the spirit moves.”

Do you like to outline and plot ahead, or are you more of a stream-of-consciousness writer?

Most definitely I write in a stream-of-consciousness. Many times I have no idea what is going to happen next. It is as big a surprise to me as it is to the characters. Often, a scene or line will pop into my head and I will have to write it down. If it works, I send the story in that direction and if not, I put it away to use somewhere else if I can.

Once I was at work and wrote a scene where a party of dwarfs had set up camp in a clearing. Their bellies full, they were settling down in the swirling snow for the night when they were set upon by a pack of wolves. Unfortunately, I wrote it on a terminal and there was no way to save it anywhere. It ended up being accidentally deleted before it could be written down, but those who saw it thought it was great.

The funny thing was I wasn’t trying to write a story about anything at the time. I was bored and the scene just came to me. When that happens I have to write it down or it will bounce around in my head all day.

We hear again and again that picture books are incredibly difficult to write. Why is that?

When writing a “regular” book the author has at his disposal a myriad of techniques and, more importantly, space to work with. Describing a scene in detail is possible when writing a regular book. This is not the case with picture books. With picture books, the author is limited in the words they use as well as their length. For instance, let’s look at the following:

Bill stumbled into his bedroom. Sloughing off his filthy clothing he collapsed into bed, pulling the threadbare sheet over his aching body. He closed his eyes, the exhaustion of the day slamming into him like a tidal wave, pummeling him into an unconscious state of fitful slumber. This is fine for a regular book, but it is clearly not appropriate for a picture book. The words themselves are beyond the comprehension of the target audience of a picture book and the imagery is also most likely beyond their ability to understand.

Billy climbed into his bed...
pulling the covers to his chin.
“You are filthy” momma said.
“My Billy-boy, where have you been?”
Billy drifted off to sleep...
A smile on his dirty face.
Pirates, robots, men from mars...
Billy had been to every place.

This is more on the level of the target audience, provides the reader with almost the same concepts as the first paragraph, but also provides the reader with an idea that Billy has been somewhere really cool! Billy is tired, dirty, and going to sleep. But there is more. Where has Billy been, did he beat the pirates, escape from the men from mars, were the robots friendly? Hopefully this sparks imagination. You need to be able to convey ideas without taking up too much space or using words outside the reader’s level of understanding.

How do you see the future of children’s picture books?

Picture books are perhaps the most important of all books. Picture books introduce children to the world of reading and imagination. At first they attract the attention of the child through the colorful pages and illustrations, but soon the child realizes there is a story, characters, actions and activities that take place as well. A well worn picture book means there is a child that can recite the story, at first from memory, then by recognizing the words on the page.

The future of picture books may see more interactivity such as what has been done with the Leapfrog pads. E-books may become more mainstream as newer generations are being raised in the Internet and computer age. Distribution may change from brick and mortar stores to buying, downloading and printing over the Internet.

No matter what, picture books will continue to be the tools used to build a foundation of good reading skills and active imaginations for generations to come.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

Do not give up. Do not give up. Do not give up.

Find someone who loves you and will tell you the truth about your writing. Find someone who will tell you, “This should be changed and this didn’t sound right.” Better yet, find someone who hates you and will tell you, “This should be changed and this didn’t sound right, plus you smell funny.” Let them read it and be open to what they have to say. In your head you know exactly how it should sound and the images it should convey. When someone else is reading it, they may not see what you were going for. Listen, but more importantly, hear.

Don’t give up.

Get used to rejection. Remember when you asked the hot girl/guy to the prom and they reached into your chest, pulled out your still beating heart and stomped on it while laughing maniacally? That feels better then the rejection letters from publishers. After all, that was just your heart, this is your BOOK! Just remind yourself that the person who rejected your book was a mouth-breathing troglodyte who wouldn’t know good literature if it bit them, but just in case, look over the manuscript again.

Don’t give up. This is your dream. Only you can make it happen.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Latest review of CRASH!

**** Story

**** Illustrations

Giving a child the right to name his pet

Review by Douglas Quinn, Author of Blue Heron Marsh, etal

and Donna Higgins Colson, Professional Artist

With rights come responsibilities. Conversely, with responsibilities come rights. Crash! is a story that shows a child that if he or she is going to take on the responsibility of a new puppy, then he or she should have the right to name the pet. Fortunately, the parents respect this right and, while offering suggestions, allow the child to feel his way through the naming process on his own. Ultimately, by observing the new puppy, the child comes up with the perfect name that suits his new pal.

The illustrations are delightful. The red and green cover works well with eye-catching primary colors throughout the book. Composition and use of space are skillfully cropped and the space is nicely broken up with diagonals, creating motion with enough details to generate interest. The boy and the dog are well drawn in appropriate proportions for the target audience and support the story line. We were impressed how skillfully the illustrations were done by this young artist.

We enjoyed Crash! and recommend it for the targeted 3 to 6 read-to age range.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Interview with Children's Author Safari Sue Thurman

Safari Sue Thurman is a TV producer and author of Maybe We Are Flamingos, the first of a new series of children's picture books about animals. This delightful book, which offers a timely message for young minds, was richly illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier, a well-known artist with over 70 books to his credit. Currently Thurman is producing and directing a television pilot based on igniting children's imaginations with the best key there is--books. Watch the book trailer for Maybe We Are Flamingos here.

Thanks for being here today, Safari. Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

Absolutely. A favorite movie of mine is Christmas Story. When the teacher tells the class they are going to write a theme, most of the students groan, but Ralphie sees it as the ultimate opportunity.

This scene is special to me since these words were music to my ears in third grade, where the magic of writing began. My pen became a magic wand in creating stories and the love has continued. The only major difference today is that the creations come to life through my keyboard.

From my earliest memory my imagination was extremely active. I was always making up stories to share with my mother or playmates. In fact, my house became the most popular place to play due to the creative games that flowed from my thoughts. One of my favorite activities was drawing with chalk on the concrete floor in our garage. It was a giant blueprint brought to life. Once I learned to write that colorful chalk was replaced with words and I’ve been hooked since childhood.

Tell us about your recent release. What was your inspiration for it?

My current book, Maybe We Are Flamingos, was inspired by working at the Phoenix zoo, where I produced programs for children and their families. One day I noticed a bird that looked like a flamingo, only it was gray with some black feathers. When I asked a keeper what the bird was, she explained how flamingos are first white, then turn gray/black, then finally pink. They stay pink due to the foods they eat.

My imagination and sense of humor kicked in immediately. After explaining to a group why flamingos were pink, children were asked what they thought the birds would look like if they ate only blueberries. Amid lots of giggles, the idea for Flora and Fernando was born. Tell us about your children's books. The Safari Series of books include lots of animal stories and has started with my current release, Maybe We Are Flamingos. Others completed include, Monet The Smallest Ant, Sam The Tallest Giraffe, and the adventures of Dr. Zelda Zoolander Zocks, from the land down under. I also have a longer work in progress, Starshine, based on a character from live theatrical productions.

Starshine has appeared in a variety of venues and is from the planet Etheria, home to the largest library in the universe, where reading is magic. This galactic adventurer has many colorful friends, including a musical scientist named Logandy, her robot companion TC, and Palo, a silver weeper tree that teaches the forest of silver weepers their songs. My ultimate dream is to bring Starshine to life in a screenplay through Pixar.

Do you like to outline and plot ahead, or are you more of a stream-of-consciousness writer?

In writing fiction, stream-of-consciousness writing works well for me. Once the glimmer of an idea gets my attention, it lurks in my mind for a time before I write anything down. I’m a very visual person so after looking at the idea as the production comes to life, I play with a variety of ways things could go. It unfolds as images on a giant movie screen and I observe how the characters might act with each other.

What are you working on now?

Along with promoting Maybe We Are Flamingos, I’m developing a script for a television pilot, Emerald City Imagineers. The planned series will promote the magic of reading with humor, animals, children, and highlight some of the best children’s books currently available. We plan to shoot this summer and books from Guardian Angel Publishing will be featured in the pilot.

I’m also going to have a rhyming contest in July, to celebrate the release of Maybe We Are Flamingos. It would be wonderful to announce the rules here, and there will be a prize for the winner.

What was your favorite book as a child?

There were several, but if I had to select one, it would be Mother Goose. It was like reading hundreds of mini stories. The illustrations were great and it was also fun to imagine what happened in Mother Goose Land outside the rhymes. I wanted to have rings on my fingers and bells on my toes while riding a white horse. I wondered if Little Jack Horner ever got sick of eating pie, and if four and twenty black birds might one day attack a neighbor while they put clothes on the line to dry. Trying to figure out what was in the curds and whey of little Miss Muffet drove me nuts until in my version it became cottage cheese and the spider made Miss M flea, so it would rhyme. Due to the influence of Mother G, I love to make up rhymes.

Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers?

It’s been amazing to me when I’ve met many adults who were not read stories as children. This was a wonderful ritual with my mother when I was a child and more recently one my husband and I shared with our twin boys. Reading to a child is a special experience and time well spent. I loved story time at the zoo, and watching children's faces as they were pulled into the magic of a story is priceless. Watching an adult’s face when they are captured by a story is incredible. You can build warm memories with this special gift and nurture a lifetime love of reading. Please read to your child today and when they are old enough, have them read to you.

Remember the lyrics to our song:

Reading is magic, all you need is a really good book, it’s the key.

Thanks for the great interview, Sue!

Thank you, Mayra, for this interview opportunity. Your generosity is sincerely appreciated and the questions were great. Also a big thanks to Lynda at Guardian Angel Publishing, a wonderful and supportive publisher, and my friend and a wonderful author, Kim McDougall, for introducing us.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Book Review: The Secret of the Magic Cards by Ken Bottomley

The Secret of the Magic Cards
by Ken Bottomley
Illustrated by Karl Riley
ISBN: 9-780953-1804247
Ages 7-11, 133 pages, paperback
Note: All profits from the sale of this book will be donated to Airedale Breast Cancer Support Group.

The story begins at Benjamin's birthday party.

Benjamin--or Ben--is excited to have all his friends come over to enjoy the fun, but he's a bit worried that the party might turn out to be boring. Luckily, Ben's eccentric grandfather comes over to do some magic tricks. In the beginning, the kids seem bored with his common tricks... That is, until Grandpa decides it's time for some real magic.

A black magic hat and some magic cards send the children whisking away inside Grandpa's hat and a parallel world of live toys, fairgrounds, and an evil clown. The clown has an agenda--to destroy as many toys as he can gets his hands on, and it's up to Benjamin to save the toys and fight the clown.

Middle-grade readers who love fantasy with a light twist of horror will enjoy this tale of magic and adventure. The story isn't horror per say, but some of the segments with the evil clown--and the illustrations--may be quite creepy for some tender minds. The action doesn't let go and there are enough twists and turns to keep young readers interested.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Amazon and Illegal Animal Fighting


Amazon is selling books, DVDs and magazines promoting illegal animal fighting. There's a suit against them and you may learn more about it here:

If you're an animal lover and would like to do something about this, you can send a message to Amazon's CEO (using the link above) to stop him from selling material that promotes illegal animal fighting.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book Reviewing Month Continues...

Hi all,

Book Reviewing Month continues....

My two latest guests are Sharyn McGinty of In the Library Reviews and
Katie McNeill of Katie's Reading.

Sharyn McGinty is the Print Review Coordinator of In the Library
Reviews, a review site also featuring author interviews, spotlights,
and contests. Started in 2002, the site reviews books and ebooks in
most genres, including Christian and inspirational titles...

Katie McNeill writes reviews for Blogcritics Magazine and her own
blog, Katie's Reading. She specializes in what she loves to read,
paranormal books — from horror to dark fantasy to paranormal romance.
She also writes a weekly column for Blogcritics called "Beyond
Bounds: The Paranormal and Fantasy with Katie." If you'd like your
book reviewed by Katie, visit her blog and drop her an email. In this
interview, she talks about the influence of reviews and she also
compares reviewers who write nasty, mean reviews to playground
bullies seeking attention...

I invite you to leave a comment under the interviews for a chance to
win some great prizes on July 2nd.

1st Prize: a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour (Bronze
Package Plan, coordinated by book publicity guru Dorothy Thompson),
OR, as an alternative to a non-author winner, a $50 B&N gift

2nd Prize: a one-year subscription to ForeWord Magazine.

3rd Prize: a T-shirt with the cover art of The Slippery Art of Book
Reviewing on the front.

More details at Slippery Book Review Blog.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Interview with Children's Book Illustrator Kim Sponaugle

Kim Sponaugle is the illustrator of 13 children's picture books. When she was 8 years old, her grandmom entered her picture in a "color the bunny" contest. She won. The prize was a paint-by-numbers set. But Kim soon got bored with the numbers and began painting on her own. With time, her love for drawing and painting grew stronger, which led her to earning a degree at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. She has sketched hundreds of children as a cartoon pastel and mural artist. Many of her children's books are to be released in 2008.

Thanks for being here today, Kim. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?

I like to research projects before I begin. I like to develop character backgrounds, so I sometimes ask authors a list of questions about their characters likes, dislikes, backgrounds. It helps me know them better before I bring them to paper. I also like to go to auctions, flea markets and yard sales. You can be inspired by an old tin, beat up toys and stuffed dolls, or piece of pottery. I especially love magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle from the 40's and 50's. Great family images of moms, dads and children and I love the advertising.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

Yes, it's Picture Kitchen Studio, which is my main site along with a “display case” for Picture Kitchen Studio which features authors and the books we have worked on together, new releases, sketchbooks and helpful links for picture kitchen at my blog.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the first picture book in a series entitled “Randy Kazandy” that is a rhyming book about a little fellow who refuses to wear his new glasses! (wish I had that one for my son when he was five!) I have been working on a Tibetan folktale chapter book (The Little Swan) for Keene Publishing which I am really enjoying. The oriental patterns, faces and landscapes are so rich and far different than what I am usually illustrating and is a great challenge regarding the research. I try to be as accurate as possible, so good research is vital to make the story believable. I am also finishing A Very Dragon Christmas for Dragonfly publishing which will be out in September/October and have just begun sketches for a little Christmas elf book which looks like a lot of fun. Thanks to God for being able to do what I really enjoy and the great projects and great folks I have been able to work with.

Where are your books available?

I think they are all available on Amazon and there are links on my site for purchase.

What was your experience in working with an authors?

I have had mainly terrific experiences working with authors. I try to find out what they envision for their book, clearly define the project, have a good basic contract, honor deadlines and keep in good communication with authors. This helps to make a great working relationship.

What advice would you offer aspiring illustrators?

Keep working at your craft and do your best to be the best that you can be. Try to be teachable-- there will always be someone who knows more than you do and has a skill better mastered, so accept that and try to learn what you can. Be helpful and concerned for others – if you care for others, usually, God provides someone to help you. Don't take yourself so seriously, sometimes a good laugh helps when “it's hitting the fan!”

What was your favorite book as a child?

We did not have many books when I was a kid, but there were friends like Winnie the Pooh, Dr Seuss ' Green Eggs and Ham and the Little Wonder books were floating around our house. I don't know why, but I happened to love the Dick and Jane books when I was a 1st grader. What also enchanted me was when the book mobile would come to our school and I would walk into the trailer and see all the beautiful book covers, with princesses, fairies, monsters, trolls and bright Disney books.

What is the best advice on illustrating you've ever received?

Keep seeking, keep asking and keep knocking-- be persistent & work hard. I think that may make the big difference between dreaming about something and actually living out a wonderful dream.

Featured Blog: Jessica Kennedy, The Differently-Abled Writer

Jessica Kennedy calls herself The Differently-Abled Writer. She's had two children’s short stories, four Chicken Soup for the Soul essays, and several Christian essays published. Currently, she’s working on her Young Adult memoir, as well as on several picture book manuscripts. She’s a legally blind, ventilator dependent, quadriplegic, but she's making her dreams come true one story at a time. A graduate from the University of California, she has a BA degree in 20th Century European History. She's a guest speaker at classes for respiratory therapist and a writer of inspirational articles and children’s stories. She's a proud member of SCBWI and Grading Pens, a private online critique group.

I don't know about you, but I'm deeply inspired and humbled by her dedication and determination, as well as by her love for the craft of writing.

Jessica, I hope your dream to see your first children's book published becomes a reality soon! When I see your determination, that's bound to happen VERY soon!

Jessica has a website and a blog. I invite you to check out her links, which are full of resources for both writers and readers alike.

I wish you the best of luck with all your writing endevours, Jessica!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Review of Rattlesnake Jam, by Margot Finke

Rattlesnake Jam is a hilariously funny children’s picture book about an old couple who share an irresistible affection for rattlesnakes. There’s only one problem: While Pa would rather have the rattlesnakes turned into fritters or pie, old Gran prefers them turned into jam… disgustingly green, sweetened, gooey rattlesnake jam!

So no matter how cold the weather is, there goes brave Pa hunting after the snakes. And as he hunts them, he fantasizes about the various ways Gran could cook them—hot on a plate, fried, sliced on white rice, hmmm… But no way will his dreams ever become a reality, for as readers will learn “…snake cooked for Pa was not in Gran’s plan. She dreamed of them sweetened and made into jam.” Though Gran swears her special jam can cure colds, gout and wheeze, not to mention “troublesome knees”, everyone dislikes the taste of her ghastly creation. Will Gran ever stop?

Colliers’s colorful, wacky illustrations complement Finke’s humorous rhyme perfectly. Gran is grossly comical with her toothless grin, warts, and bell pepper nose. The book has 28 pages in all, and each story page has an illustration with a short text at the bottom—a two or four line rhyme. Whimsical and amusing, Rattlesnake Jam is one of those books young children will beg their parents to read to them again and again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Interview with Christine Verstraete, author of Searching for a Starry Night

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m an award-winning journalist, miniaturist, and now a novelist – a lot of “ists.” Ha!

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?
I think it was destiny that I became a writer! In my favorite baby photo, I’m holding a newspaper and have a pencil behind my ear.

Do you have another job besides writing?
I also freelance for newspapers and magazines, and if anyone needs a dynamite press release at a reasonable rate, they should contact me at my website,

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?
My mom always joked that the house could explode and I’d still have my nose in a book! I’ve always loved to read. I loved Nancy Drew and read every horse book there was.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
SEARCHING FOR A STARRY NIGHT, A Miniature Art Mystery, will be published June 15 by Quake/Echelon Press,

The book incorporates several favorites – dogs, miniatures and mystery! I’ve long written about collectors and their collections, so writing a story with the focus being the search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” (hence the title), seemed a natural.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?
I tend to outline as I need to figure out what comes next, although new ideas do pop up as I write.

Did your book require a lot of research?
I did do some online research about miniature art, but I’m also familiar with some artworks that I have seen firsthand at miniature and dollhouse shows.

What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?
Oh, I’m a big daydreamer. Ha! Or is that another name for procrastinator?

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
What really helps me is if I’m stuck on something, I sleep on it. Somehow, the ideas come to me in my sleep. The rest? I don’t know where they come from…

Do you get along with your muse? What do you do to placate her when she refuses to inspire you?
My muse is pretty accommodating. If I’m not inspired, I either switch to something else or just force myself to keep going. Deadlines don’t allow you to be uninspired for long.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?
It’s been over a year. I initially had written a shorter story and then added more ideas to expand it.

Describe your working environment.
I have a small room at home just big enough for a desk, small worktable, 2 bookcases and a couple file cabinets.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I’m a re-reader. That’s good, and bad. I tend to change things (then go back and change some more!). I’ve learned that even later after several read-throughs, I still see things to change or that need to be changed.

They say authors have immensely fragile egos… How would you handle negative criticism or a negative review?
I know, you have to accept the negative with the positive. I’m sure I’ll shed a few private tears and move on. You can’t please everyone, nor do I expect everyone to like the book though I hope most will enjoy it.

As a writer, what scares you the most?
Not being able to write because of physical injury or some calamity.

When writing, what themes do you feel passionate about?
I love animals and feel strongly about them being mistreated.

Are you a disciplined writer?
I do write every day. Is that disciplined enough? :>)

Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
Only that I hope that Searching For A Starry Night is the first of many.

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Mayra, thank you! I enjoyed visiting with you and your readers.

Readers can stop by my website, or my blog,, to get details on some contests and a chance to win a signed copy of Searching For A Starry Night and other prizes!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My virtual book tour continues...


Today I'm stopping at a very cool pet blog -- "Dogs Rule and Cats Drool".

Comments are warmly welcomed! :-)


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Another review of CRASH!

HI all,

Today on the 4th day of my CRASH! VBT I'm over at Beverly McClure'sblog, "Never Too Old".

She made my whole week with a lovely review of my book:

Thanks for letting me share!



Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Tour Stop Today

Hi all,

Today I'm at The Book Connection, where Cheryl Malandrinos has posted a lovely review of my picture book, CRASH!

Comments are welcome. I'll be drawing one winner for a $20 gift certificate from the Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary at the end of the month.



Sunday, June 1, 2008

Interview with Children's Author Grace Reddick

Do you consider yourself to be a born writer?

Yes, I truly believe this is my calling. Although I wasn't aware of it for many years.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I never gave it any thought. When I married and began journaling, the thought of writing a book on some of my experiences did occur to me. But I never actually grasped the potential. I did write poetry that was published in a local paper. Journaling became my escape from challenges I was facing. I've learned to overcome, with God's help, and to move forward.

Tell us about your recent release, Ashley's Unforgettable Summer. What was your inspiration for it?

This is my first children's book. The idea of writing a children's story, appealed to me after receiving great reviews from an essay I submitted to the Institute of Children's Literature. I knew I was capable of writing a complete story. I've always been fascinated with monkey's, so I began to create a story, populate it with characters, and act out the ideas that were buzzing around in her head.

This is a picture book, full of adventure. The illustrations capture the attention of the children and bring the story to life. The story is about two young girls and a baby chimpanzee. The girls are named after my granddaughters. Tina, the chimpanzee is mischievous and hilarious as she creates total chaos. She is always three steps ahead of the girls. It also teaches the girls responsibility.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your works?

Yes. My website is:

What are you working on now?

I'm writing another children's book, using the names of my two grandson's. My plans are to make this book a series. Logan, the main character, unknowingly wanders from the comfort of his backyard, to find himself in a "Forsaken Land." His journey takes him deeper and deeper into a jungle full of unforseen dangers and dinosaur's. As he seeks shelter, and tries desperately to find his way back home, he encounters mysterious obstacles along the way. That is, until he meets Brent.

Where are your books available?

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Educate yourself about the industry. You must have enthusiasm, passion and belief in yourself.

Knowledge is like climbing a mountain; the higher you reach, the more you can see and appreciate.

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing -- The Launch!

June is 'Book Reviewing' month at Blogcritics Magazine!

To promote the release of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, co-author Mayra Calvani will be interviewing 15+ reviewers and review editors during the month of June. Learn all about the business of book reviewing and what's in the mind of some of the most popular reviewers on the internet today.

Here's the lineup:

June 2 - James A. Cox, Midwest Book Review
June 3 - Irene Watson, Reader Views
June 5 - Magdalena Ball, The Compulsive Reader
June 7 - Carolyn Howard-Johnson, The New Book Review
June 9 - Rachel Durfor, Rebecca's Reads
June 11 - Beverly Walton Porter, Scribe & Quill
June 13 - Alex Moore, ForeWord Magazine
June 15 - Stephanie Padilla, New Mystery Reader
June 17 - Sharyn McGinty, In The Library Reviews
June 19 - Cheryl Malandrinos, The Book Connection
June 21 - Eveline Soors, Euro-reviews
June 23 - Andrea Sisco, Armchair Interviews
June 25 - Lea Schizas, Muse Book Reviews
June 27 - Linda Baldwin, Road to Romance
June 29 - Hilary Williamson, Book Loons
June 30 - Judy Clark, Mostly Fiction

Between June 1st and June 30th, stop by Blogcritics and leave a comment under the reviewer interviews for a chance to win a Pump Up Your Book Promotion Virtual Book Tour (Bronze Package Plan, coordinated by book publicity guru Dorothy Thompson), OR, as an alternative to a non-author winner, a $50 B&N gift certificate! The second prize will be a one-year subscription to Foreword Magazine. The third prize will be a T-shirt with the cover art of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing on the front.

The three winners will be drawn from the people who leave comments under the interviews during the month of June. The deadline to comment is June 30th, midnight, eastern time. The winners will be announced on The Slippery Book Review blog on July 2nd. I hope you enjoy the interviews! Good luck!