I’m back from a productive break, and what a wonderful way to start blogging again. I’m delighted to host Miriam and her lovely new book! Take it away, Miriam…
Hi Diana, it’s my privilege to be here on your beautiful blog Thank you so much for your kindness to host my Book Release Tour and allow me to share my process from pen to publication with your readers.
The Making of Tina Lost in a Crowd, Part 7
Publish the Book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Amazon and Barnes & Noble have different formatting guidelines to publish picture books. I would have been happy to have the book on Amazon alone. But I wanted to have a hardcover version. It’s good to have a hardcover version for young children, for the school libraries and public libraries. I also wanted to have a hardcover version of this book for my library.
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) only publishes eBook and paperback but doesn’t have the hardcover option. Barnes & Noble publishes eBook, paperback, and hardcover. For this reason, I published the eBook and paperback on Amazon, and eBook and hardcover on Barnes & Noble. I may inquire if the local B&N would carry my book.
Will I Write More Children’s Books?
As I mentioned on the first day of this Book Tour that I took a writing course at the Institute of Children’s Literature and wrote many stories. Tina Lost in a Crowd was the first story among those stories I revised and published. I may revise some more to be the Tina stories.
There are new ideas for the children’s books. I’ll keep these options open.
Tina invited her friend Erica to attend a popular Tchaikovsky’s Spectacular concert on a summer evening with her parents. During the intermission, her dad left the seat to buy some snacks. Tina and Erica followed him wanting to use the restroom. The shoving crowd pushed them away, and they lost sight of him. It would be impossible to fight through the 18,000 people to find him or go back to Tina’s mom. What would the girls do?
This story tells about what happened to Tina and Erica after they got lost. Children can adapt to the learning from different situations they may observe or encounter. Adults could have discussions with the children about the situations to help them develop problem-solving skills.
Tina and her friend Erica go to the Hollywood Bowl with Tina’s parents to listen to a classical music concert and watch fireworks. During the intermission, on the way to the restrooms, Tina and Erica get lost. Thankfully, Tina remembers some words of wisdom and all ends well. This is a cute story appropriate for preschoolers and young readers, and it shares some excellent advice for kids if they ever get separated from their caregivers. The language is accessible and the illustrations are delightful. It made me want to visit the Hollywood Bowl!
Miriam writes poetry, short stories, memoir, and children’s books. She earned a Doctor of Education from the University of La Verne in California. After two years of rehabilitation counseling, fifteen years of public-school teaching and ten years in school district administration, she retired and enjoys life with her husband in southern California, and the visits to her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughters in Oregon. When not writing, she engages in blogging, gardening, photography, and traveling.
My 60-book Autumn Reading Challenge is progressing, even though I’m behind and probably won’t catch up. I’ve read 13 books so far – enough to warrant a mid-October review post!
This month, my offering of 4 and 5 star reviews includes a sentimental thriller, historical fiction, horror, short stories, poetry, and a children’s book. I hope you enjoy the browse.
Click on the covers for Amazon global links.
A Boy Named Rabbit by Marcia Meara
I fell in love with a little boy named Rabbit. OMG. This book is so wonderful, I can’t recommend it enough. Rabbit is ten years old, and for his entire life, he’s lived in the deep forest of the Blue Ridge Mountains with his grandparents. They took him there when he was a baby to keep him safe from the “bad people.” When his grandparents die, he starts a solo journey to find a place he belongs.
Rabbit enters the lives of Sarah and Mac Cole and what follows is a story of love, loss, and discovery as Rabbit learns about a whole new world. He’s never seen electricity in action or ridden in a car or listened to music! He’s an amazing character—inquisitive, funny, heartbroken, and wise beyond his years. As Rabbit transforms, the characters around him transform as well.
There’s danger in this book, a bit of paranormal “sight,” and kindness galore. My investment in Rabbit was intense, and I couldn’t stop rooting for him. Though Rabbit is the star of this literary show, the other characters are well-rounded and emotionally authentic. The writing is exceptional with spot-on dialog and an excellent pace. I couldn’t put the book down and got all teary with happiness at the end.
Though this is Book 2 in the Wake-Robin Ridge series, I’m not sure it’s necessary to read Book 1 first, though it wouldn’t hurt. I enjoyed that book too. Interested in something thoroughly original, engaging, and tender? A Boy Named Rabbit will steal your heart.
The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger
I just finished this amazing historical fiction, and despite its length (458 pages) I clung to every word. The story chronicles the true events of the Pilgrims’ journey to the New World in 1620, and then continues through 80+ years as the colony struggles for survival and contributes to the growth of a nation. The author deftly weaves two narrative threads from beginning to end: the historical events of the times, and the personal lives of those who lived them, as seen through the eyes of Mary Cushman.
One thread, about 50% of the narrative, focuses on the politics of the time—conflicts between the venture’s investors and the colony, friendships and wars with the Native Americans, and problems with governance, both civil and religious. This is primarily narrated through the eagerly prying ears of Mary Cushman whose family(s) are leaders in the Plymouth colony.
The other 50% of the narrative is Mary’s personal story of growth into a pioneer woman, wife, mother, and grandmother. Mary is 4 years old at the crossing and the book ends when she’s in her eighties. The story is told initially from the perspective of Isaac Allerton, her father, and then gradually shifts to Mary’s point of view alone.
One thing I found enthralling was how “true to the time period” she was in her thoughts and actions while at the same time demonstrating her innate intelligence and will. She’s a lively character, and the connection to her was instantaneous. All of the characters are 3-dimensional and beautifully written, and the themes of friendship, loyalty, faith, love, loss, and family are no different than today.
The author’s research was clearly extensive—of both the actual events and politics of the time but also of the daily lives of men, women, and children. Wonderful details brought the story to life, transporting me smack into the 1600s.This isn’t a glorified tale of colonization. The events are conveyed through the lens of those who made choices for the colony and their families. Some are disturbing to our modern sensibilities, but I thoroughly appreciated the authenticity.
Having grown up in New England, many of the places were familiar and I was captivated by the history. I highly recommend this novel to history buffs and readers of historical fiction.
Side Note: There was an interesting moment in the book when one of my notorious ancestors, Arthur Peach, was hanged by the colonists for murder. Arthur’s history has been well-researched by my family, and it was wild to read a few paragraphs about him in Noelle’s book.
Murder They Wrote
by Judi Lynn, C.S. Boyack, Mae Clair, Kathleen Palm, Julia Donner, D.P. Reisig, Rachel Sherwood Roberts
Seven authors, seven genres, seven murders. One of the things that appealed to me about this book was the blend of genres and authors, which guaranteed lots of varied entertainment. The stories offered a wide range of settings and characters from a 19th century courtroom to a medieval castle, from a modern sleuth with the ability to dissolve into a fog to a regency couple who solve a murder at a balloon launch while engaging in witty repartee.
Story length ranged from short story to novella, and together made a full-length book. I was impressed with the quality across the board. No weak links in this group. Well-constructed plots, three-dimensional characters, and expertly edited. Highly recommended.
We All Die in the End by Elizabeth Merry
This collection of loosely-connected vignettes offers glimpses into the lives of nineteen different residents in a small, seaside Irish town. For the most part, the stories are grim, the characters ranging from slightly off kilter to severely struggling. There are tidbits of humor and kindness here and there, but those are few and far between.
The writing is polished, and the characters are deeply rendered and distinct. My overall impression was that the characters are trapped in their lives, contributing to a sense of despair, sadness, madness, and violence. Despite the bleakness of the situations, the read is mesmerizing. Each story is unique. Highly recommended to short story readers and readers of literary fiction.
Brazos Wind by Jan Sikes
A wonderful western short story. Jack McClean finds Savannah Logan on the brink of death outside her burning farmhouse. In a nutshell, what follows demonstrates how kindness can not only save a life, but heal a soul. As Jack helps Savannah, he changes both of their futures.
There are no bad guys in this short story beyond chance and bad luck. Like life for many of us. The story is expertly crafted with well-rounded believable characters. It leaves off with a hint of more to come and I hope the author follows through. A lovely read.
Slices of Soul by Harmony Kent
I picked up this book after learning that the author spent 13 years in a Zen Buddhist Temple. I was curious about how her experiences influenced her poetry. The poems are divided into seven sections beginning with Shaved Head, Short Hair, and Long Hair, representing the journey from the monastery back into modern life.
Many of the poems read like koans, statements used for meditation. The poems are simply written and it’s easy to appreciate how they reflect of the author’s journey of change and discovery. Several favorites are Rebirth, Diamonds, Waterfall, and The Alchemist. A lovely collection that I read in less than an hour.
Molly Finds Her Purr by Pamela Wight
Molly is a stray who sees a pampered cat named Clara purring as she gets some loving from her owner. Molly wants a purr too, but has trouble finding it, since life on her own is pretty lonely. That all changes when she encounters Petey the squirrel and a couple of other friendly creatures who create a circle of friends.
This is a lovely story about friendship and belonging. As a rescuer of feral cats, I happen to know that inside every cat there’s a purr waiting to come out. How true for people too. The sweet message of friendship and kindness will resonate with children, young and old. Beautiful illustrations and perfect for preschoolers.
Nightmareland by Dan Alatorre (Editor)
Robbie Cheadle, Ellen Best, Kaye Booth, Betty Valentine, Alana Turner, Christine Valentor, more…
I haven’t read a horror anthology before, and with Halloween right around the corner, I thought I give this one a try. With 23 stories from 14 authors, I was bound to find something I enjoyed. I wasn’t disappointed.
The anthology offers a variety of stories from witches and hauntings to madness and murder. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, including human ones, and to me, those were the most frightening tales of all. “My Scared” was such a tale and my favorite in the collection. The variety of authors ensures a range of narrative voices and writing styles that I thoroughly enjoyed. A great read for anyone who enjoys suspense, thrills, spooky tales, and a few bone-chillers.
Magical Whispers by Balroop Singh
I’ve read a few of Singh’s poetry collections, and this one is my favorite. Each poem is a gem, and though this isn’t a long book, it’s worth taking a few leisurely days or weeks to savor.
The 73 poems are divided into two sections: Magical Whispers and Whispers of Life. The poems in Magical Whispers have a strong focus on Nature—the mysteries, solace, and magical connections the author has to Mother Earth. A few of my favorite poems are Dawn Whispers, Magic of Senses, and A Moon Fairy.
Whispers of Life is broader in scope, touching on love, growth, longing, memories, and other facets of human life. Though personal to the author, the poems are relatable and insightful. My favorites in this section are My Words, Only Memories are Mine, and Muted by Time. Highly recommended.
Actually, I’ve been super busy preparing for my launch and then dropping into bed at night, too tired to read.
This month, my offering of 4 and 5 star reviews includes fantasy, sci-fi, and a children’s book that my 7-year-old grandson reviewed. I hope you enjoy the browse.
Click on the covers for Amazon global links.
Coyote Summer by Laura Koerber
I really, really enjoyed this book. The story starts with a “boys will be boys” rape of a very drunk teenager at a party. The main character, Ben, doesn’t participate, but he also doesn’t take strong action. This story is about his loss of innocence as he grapples with his guilt and the disheartening cultural biases, including within his own family, that force the victim into silence and give the perpetrators a break.
The story, the attitudes, and the choices of all the characters felt authentic to me. I related deeply to Ben as his rosy, privileged world dimmed, and he was forced to grow up and consider his values and actions, to decide what kind of person he wanted to be. Though his situation was unique, the loss of innocence and the rite of passage into adulthood felt universal. He’s a great character that I liked a lot.
There is a paranormal thread to the story that complements the main one. I wasn’t sure the paranormal aspects were necessary, but they didn’t detract, and I appreciated Ben’s relationship with the young woman Puppy and how healing and defining that was for him. All of the characters were beautifully written. The pace is perfect, and the story moves along without a hitch. The ending felt important. Highly recommended.
Serang by C. S. Boyack
This is my first read from Boyack that wasn’t a madcap paranormal adventure, and I enjoyed the seriousness of this story. It’s described as an origin story about Serang who has a role in the Lanternfish books (which I haven’t read yet). I think that description is exactly right.
The story begins when Serang is 6 years old and progresses through her teens. As a child, she’s abandoned at a temple by her mother. The monastery becomes her home, its residents her family, until the Emperor has the monks killed. On the run, Serang finds a new master who continues her training as the two of them travel across the harsh land.
The characters are wonderfully 3-dimensional, and I enjoyed the way their relationship developed. The worldbuilding is exquisite. After I finished reading, I learned that the tale is a fantasy, and I laughed because I had assumed that the setting was a real place.
The plot consists of the journey as well as Serang’s training and mastery. As an origin story there’s no giant climatic conclusion, but there is a satisfying ending to the intriguing tale. The pace is steady overall with moments of exciting action. I recommend this book as a companion read/prequel to the Lanternfish books, which I’ll be reading soon.
Aftermath (Book 2 of the Shard Chronicles) by Ono Northey
Aftermath is the second book in the Shard Chronicles series. Any book that’s over 600 pages makes me a little squirrelly, but I enjoyed the first book in the series and dove in.
The main strength of both books is the wonderful characterization. Steve is an awesome protagonist and tough as nails. In this book, we get to know the bad guys who were rather nebulous in the first installment. These mages are so powerful that they almost don’t know how to function in the real world and the situations can get funny as well as outrageously weird. They also kill and destroy indiscriminately without the slighted idea that this might be wrong.
The writing is exceptional. Northey has a wonderful grasp of language, description, action, and dialog. It’s hard not to be impressed. The world-building is also outstanding. It’s broad and deep, and comes off as real science and psychology… and after reading, I almost believe that magic exists. Overall, I enjoy the long discussions of the power of perception and mind over matter, though some readers may find this too labored.
And that gets me to the challenge with this book. I think it suffers from a second book slump. As wonderfully as its written, there’s a long long stretch (about half of the book) where the plot stalls. Several characters from book 1 disappear while Steve trains his mind and the mages prepare for conflict within their ranks. The action is great when it happens, but much of this book seems like preparation for the third book. That’s a lot of preparation.
This is a hard book to rate. I love the writing and characters and didn’t skim any of the 600+ pages. But the lack of movement in the plot and long delivery were a disappointment. I’m going in the middle with four stars and a warning to readers that the “action” in this book is conceptual more than physical.
Brody Cody and the Stepmother from Outer Space by Toni Pike
I purchased this book for my grandson, and this is what he said about it:
I liked this book. It’s about this boy, Brody Cody, whose mom died. He and his dad live together and Brody doesn’t have very many rules. Then his dad goes away and comes back with a new mom. Brody doesn’t like her because she has rules, like eat vegetables and do chores. He thinks she’s an alien. The best part is when he thinks he sees the spaceship. I liked Brody, and he found out having a mom was pretty good. I read the whole book. There aren’t pictures, but it was good.
For her high school senior project, Kendra Stefan wanted to write, illustrate, and publish a children’s book, and I agreed to mentor her through the project. As writers out there know, a book is a lot of work. For Kendra, the challenge was over the top. She was suffering from heart failure.
We got an early start, working on the book between her other studies, her numerous doctor’s appointments, and rising fatigue. As we got her story down, her condition declined and her position on the waiting list for a donor moved up.
When the story was essentially done, but the illustrations just started, Kendra got the call. In July, she received her new heart.
Kendra’s work on the book continued while she recovered in the hospital – between rehab sessions, medication adjustments, and the hard and painful work of building up her strength.
When she was released for visits home, we worked on the book. Still unable to return to school, we inserted the artwork. Between her follow-up doctors’ appointments, we formatted. Between her naps, we uploaded and worked through the myriad of glitches that plague even seasoned authors.
And then Kendra hit PUBLISH. Jackie Moves to Bunsvill is live in print and ebook.
She’s running a sale today and tomorrow – the ebook available at the low price of $.99.
If you feel like giving this young writer a big smile, click this global link:
Now back to Kendra. She was kind enough to do a mini-interview with me.
Hi Kendra, so you hit the publish button on your first book! How does it feel?
It showed me that I really did write a book. I was so surprised that I actually wrote a book! It was an adrenaline rush.
What did you enjoy most about writing a children’s book?
I think the thing I enjoyed most was drawing the characters for the first time and coming up with their personalities and how all of those different personalities would mesh together. It gave me so much creative freedom… there was no limit.
What did you like least?
Working with [the formatting program] and fixing grammatical errors. Just because it was so tedious and time-consuming. Diana and I spent three hours just to fix two words.
Was there anything that surprised you about the process?
Yes. There was a lot that surprised me. I never knew it would take so much time and so many computer programs. I was surprised by how easily I would make mistakes.
What might you do differently next time besides not having a heart transplant in the middle of the process?
I would work more at lining up dates and setting up plans to do readings instead of doing it at the last minute.
Any advice for other young authors?
As soon as words start flowing through your head, write it down because you can always organize those ideas into stories.
Any other books in your future?
I think so, but I don’t know when. I think that my books in the future will be more targeted towards teenagers and adults.
Thanks to everyone for stopping by to learn about Kendra’s journey and her book! I was so honored to play a small part.