Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Guest post: "What Messages Do You Receive From Your Dreams?" by Donna McDine, author of 'A Sandy Grave'

I'm thrilled to have award-winning author Donna McDine on my blog today! She's currently touring the blogosphere to promote her latest picture book, A Sandy Grave. Let's give her a warm welcome and don't forget to enter her Rafflecopter giveaway!


Guest Post:

While working on your latest manuscript do you feel like you are living and breathing your characters? To the point where you can’t get them out of your head, even in your dreams. What do you think your dreams are trying to tell you about your characters? Do you think they are trying to relay specific messages to you to include in your manuscript?

I know the non-writers out there who are reading this may think the above statements are outlandish and should land me in the local psych ward, or at the very least to a therapist’s office. Please know I’m not delusional, in this case I’m practical. As an author, the creation of our characters is personal, and they do indeed become part of us. Making it often times difficult for us to shake our characters’ actions and moods even in the twilight state of sleep.

One particular instance when my dreams began knocking me upside the head about one of my characters was the slave Jenkins I created for my first children’s book, The Golden Pathway. Jenkins originally was created for the Institute of Children’s Literature book course, but for one reason or another I shelved this manuscript. Quite some time passed, and for what I thought was bizarre at first I began dreaming about the Underground Railroad and having dogs chase after me in the dark woods. When I shared this recurring dream with my sister, she was the one that connected the dots and brought up my long shelved manuscript. After her encouragement I “dusted” off this manuscript and resurrected Jenkins and David, hence the birth of The Golden Pathway.

I also had a similar experience with the creation of A Sandy Grave. After reading the news article of a washed up dead whale on a California beach I began dreaming about the ocean repeatedly. This time, I didn’t need anyone to put two and two together. I took my dreams as a positive force to get down to the nitty-gritty of the non-fiction research aspect and then create engaging characters and a storyline to be intertwined into one story.

I encourage you to keep pen, paper, and small flashlight (so you don’t wake your significant other) by your bedside for these often inspiring moments. This way you can write down your dreams immediately upon waking, or for the times you are jolted awake by your characters screaming at you. Don’t ignore these instances, instead grab these creative outcries and use them to your advantage.

I’d enjoy hearing about your experiences with your dreams, whether they are writing related or not.

Mayra, thank you for hosting me during my Pump Up Your Book virtual book tour!


The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures to be had--especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?


The lifeguards had their arms extended and attempted to move the crowd back. The tallest lifeguard said, “People, please stay back. The authorities will arrive to examine the whale to determine the cause of death within the hour. The whale must have died at sea and washed ashore.”


Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook

Donna McDine is an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.
Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership. 
Visit Donna online at or her blog at

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.
Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
  • This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
  • Winner will be contacted via email.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

On the Spotlight & Review: 'I Am Strong! I Am Smart!' by Fay A. Klingler


Luisa May, known to her family and friends as Lu, loves to play games with her Grandma. When she’s bullied at school, Grandma has a special puzzle for Lu to help her see how valuable she is—no matter what others say, or how much doubt she feels within herself. Soon after, Grandma has to go to the hospital, and Lu finds out Grandma needs help recovering. Then it’s Lu’s turn to help Grandma see how valuable she is—no matter how much doubt she feels within herself. It’s a beautiful parallel for young and old alike, as each age learns from the other.

Written and illustrated with loving hands, this delightful children’s story offers a heartfelt message that unites and bonds generations. From the award-winning pen of Fay A. Klingler, I Am Strong! I Am Smart! provides to women of all ages a reminder of the tremendous gift of “girl power.”

My thoughts:

This is a beautifully written and illustrated book I can whole-heartedly recommend to parents--and especially grandparents--to read with children. It has a vital message: the power of words and self language and the effect it can have on our self esteem. Also, how everything is a matter of perception and how words can only hurt if we allow them to. I Am Strong! I Am Smart! is a sweet, heart-warming story about an 11-year old girl and her grandmother, and how they each help each other at their times of need. A lovely addition to any library shelf. Since the girl in the story is eleven, and there's quite a lot of text, this picture book is geared toward older ages as well. The illustrations are beautiful and perfectly complement the story. Highly recommended!


Fay A. Klingler, author and illustrator, is an award-winning creative and technical writer, as well as a sought-after motivational speaker for women’s groups. Her expertise includes successful patterns for life, betrayal recovery, and effective grandparenting. Her previous publications include We Are Strong! Mothers and Daughters Stand Together; A Woman’s Power: Threads that Bind Us to God; Shattered: Six Steps from Betrayal to Recovery; Daughters of God, You Have What It Takes; The LDS Grandparents’ Idea Book; My Magnificent Mountain; The Complete Guide to Woman’s Time; Our New Baby; and A Mother’s Journal.

The Klinglers have twelve children and thirty-five grandchildren in their blended family. They reside in Draper, Utah.

Connect with Fay on the Web:

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Soon from Twilight Times Books: The Luthier's Apprentice (YA dark fantasy)

I'm thrilled to announce that my latest book, The Luthier's Apprentice, featuring 16-year-old violin student/luthier/amateur sleuth Emma Braun, will be out in May 15th (ebook) and August 15th (print).
Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840), one of the greatest violinists who ever lived and rumored to have made a pact with the devil, has somehow transferred unique powers to another…

When violinists around the world mysteriously vanish, 16-year-old Emma Braun takes notice.  But when her beloved violin teacher disappears… Emma takes charge. With Sherlock Holmes fanatic, not to mention gorgeous Corey Fletcher, Emma discovers a parallel world ruled by an ex-violinist turned evil sorceress who wants to rule the music world on her own terms.

But why are only men violinists captured and not women? What is the connection between Emma’s family, the sorceress, and the infamous Niccolò Paganini?

Emma must unravel the mystery in order to save her teacher from the fatal destiny that awaits him. And undo the curse that torments her family—before evil wins and she becomes the next luthier’s apprentice…

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Guest post: "The Story behind Diary of my Real Payne series," by Annie Tipton

My guest today is children's author Annie Tipton. She's here today to talk about the inspiration behind her middle-grade series, Diary of a Real Payne. She's currently touring the blogosphere with the National Writing for Children Center. Please give her a warm welcome!


I always knew I’d write a book someday. I just didn’t know this is how it would come about.
            I didn’t have a manuscript that I’d been polishing since I first penned it in college. I hadn’t gone through rounds and rounds of rejection letters from agents and publishers. No, what happened was that my boss came up with the concept of a series for 8–12-year-olds staring a lovable character named EJ Payne who lives in a small town but dreams of bigger and better things—Diary of a Real Payne, she called it. (Side note: I guess I can’t chalk the whole thing up entirely to fate. After all, I do work in the editorial department at a book publisher.) And when she pitched the idea in a meeting, I heard myself volunteering to write it. “Give me a chance,” I said. “I would love this opportunity.”
            And she said yes.
            So EJ and the rest of the Payne family started taking shape. And I knew they would be a family that looked a lot like mine: loving parents who “get” their kids; (mostly) good-natured sibling rivalry between EJ and her younger brother, Isaac; a deeply rooted faith that is the foundation on which the family to loves, lives, and grows. From the older sister/younger brother dynamic to the everyday antics of a girl who has such a vivid imagination that sometimes she doesn’t know what’s actually going on right in front of her, the stories are a slice-of-life that sometimes looks a lot like photos from my family albums.
            There’s something so refreshing and so encouraging about a family dynamic that, though not perfect, is good and bursting with love. I know I am blessed to count those things as a part of my upbringing, and it’s an important part of what I hope to leave with readers of the Diary of a Real Payne series.


Title: Diary of a Real Payne Book 2: Church Camp Chaos
Genre: Fiction – Children / Juvenile
Author: Annie Tipton
Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Purchase link:

ABOUT THE BOOK:  In this second fabulous release in the Diary of a Real Payne series for 8- to 12-year-old girls, young readers will find themselves ROTFL as EJ ismore than ready to be done with Ms. “Picky” Pickerington, CoraLee McCallister, and fourth grade in general. Hello sunshine, hello 11th birthday party, hello free time, hello. . .CAMP! It’s EJ’s first summer to spend an entire week at Camp Christian: friends, swimming, bunk beds, games, campfires, s’mores, hiking, and even a gigantic zip line. In classic EJ form, she dreams up even more fantastic adventures for herself. It’s colossal fun and Church Camp Chaos for EJ fans!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award-winning author Annie Tipton made up her first story at the ripe old age of two when she asked her mom to write it down for her. (Hey, she was just two—she didn’t know how to make letters yet!) Since then she has read and written many words as a student, newspaper reporter, author, and editor. A native of Wooster, Ohio, Tipton received a bachelor’s degree in Communications at Milligan College in Northeast Tennessee. She currently resides in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

Find the book on Facebook. Watch the trailer