All Eyes On Alexandra by Anna Levine (Illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto) Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young Crane finds adventure and must learn to work cohesively with her family in author Anna Levine’s All Eyes on Alexandra. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting and distracting sights! When it’s time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel’s Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group? And might Alexandra discover that a bad follower can make a great leader?

The Review

This was a fantastic children’s book and contained a truly memorable theme. The illustrations done by artist Chiara Pasqualotto were phenomenal, creating warm water color artwork that beautifully illustrated the emotions of the story. The author perfectly conveys both an entertaining story children will love and a simple yet essential message that too often gets lost in our chaotic world. 

Highlighting the ease in which Alexandra explores the world and interacts peacefully with various other birds outside of her own family, the story mirrors our own world, teaching children (and sometimes adults as well), that it is possible to live in harmony with one another. It doesn’t matter how loud or chaotic the world may seem, peace and harmony amongst people of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds is possible, if you only seek it out.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic read that children and parents alike will delight in reading together. A fast read at 32 pages, the story conveys an important and heartwarming message in a beautiful way, and is almost poetic in the story’s approach. This is a great book to start out our new year, so be sure to grab your copy of All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine and Illustrated by Chiara Pasqualotto today!

Rating: 10/10

Book summary

 In All Eyes on Alexandra, young Alexandra Crane is terrible at following her family in their flying Vee. She can’t help it that the world is so full of interesting distracting sights! When it’s time for the Cranes to migrate to Israel’s Hula Valley for the winter, Alexandra is excited but her family is worried. Will Alexandra stay with the group, and what happens if a dangerous situation should arise? Might Alexandra—and the rest of the flock—discover that a bad follower can sometimes make a great leader?

Based on the true story of Israel’s annual crane migration.

Print Length: 32 Pages

Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Publisher: Kar-Ben Pub

ISBN-10: 1512444391

ISBN-13: 978-1512444391

All Eyes on Alexandra is available to purchase on AmazonBarnes and NobleTarget and Thrift Books.

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com

About the Author, Anna Levine

Anna Levine is an award-winning children’s book author. Like Alexandra Crane, the character in her latest picture book, she loves to explore new worlds. Born in Canada, Anna has lived in the US and Europe.  She now lives in Israel, where she writes and teaches.

You can find Anna Levine online at —

Author website: http://www.annalevine.org/

Twitter: @LevineAnna 

Instagram: @booksfromanna 

About the Illustrator, Chiara Pasqualotto,

Chiara Pasqualotto was born in Padua, in northern Italy, currently teaches illustration and drawing classes to children and adults, in particular in Padua during the summer at the Scuola Internazionale di Comics and in Rome. Since 2008 she’s been living in Rome and working with illustration professionally: her first picture book, Mine, All Mine! was published in 2009 by Boxer Books (UK), since then she published with Oxford University Press, Giunti, Terranuova and some American publishers (Paraclete Press, Tyndale, LearningAZ, Kar-Ben Publisher).

You can find Chiara Pasqualotto online at –

Artist website – https://romeartweek.com/en/artists/?id=1495&ida=1004

Blog: http://chiarapasqualotto.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clairepaspage/

– Blog Tour Dates

December 3rd @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Make sure you visit WOW’s blog today and read an interview with the author and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book All Eyes on Alexandra.

muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

December 5th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog where she shares her thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com/

December 5th @ Break Even Books

Visit Erik’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how to jog your inspiration.

https://breakevenbooks.com/

December 7th @ Coffee with Lacey

Grab some coffee and visit Lacey’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 8th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog today where he joins in the fun of celebrating and shares information about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 8th @ Christy’s Cozy Corners

Visit Christy’s blog and cozy up while you read her review of Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://christyscozycorners.com/

December 9th @ Coffee with Lacey

Visit Lacey’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about designing your ideal writing spot.

http://coffeewithlacey.wordpress.com

December 9th @ Christy’s Cozy Corner

Visit Christy’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about how she decided to use crane’s in her story.

https://christyscozycorners.com/


December 10th @ Thoughts in Progress

Visit Pamela’s blog where you can read Anna Levine’s guest post about how authors use anthropomorphic animals.

http://masoncanyon.blogspot.com/

December 11th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/


December 12th @ Author Anthony Avina Blog

Visit Anthony Avina’s blog where he interviews Anna Levine, author of All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

December 13th @ Read. Write. Sparkle. Coffee.

Make sure you visit Jeanie’s blog today and read Anna Levine’s guest post about building a theme day around a picture book.

http://www.readwritesparklecoffee.com/

December 13th @ Oh for the Hook of a Book

Visit Erin’s blog where she shares her thoughts on Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

www.hookofabook.wordpress.com

December 15th @ A Storybook World

Visit Deirdra’s blog where she features Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra in a spotlight post.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

December 17th @ World of My Imagination

Stop by Nicole’s blog today where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Cassandra’s Writing World

Visit Cassandra’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about naming your characters.

https://cassandra-mywritingworld.blogspot.com

December 19th @ Linda’s Blog

Make sure you visit Linda’s blog today where you can read her thoughts about Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog

December 20th @ Word Magic: All About Books 

Visit Fiona’s blog where you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com/

December 21st @ Bring on Lemons

Make sure you grab some lemonade and stop by Crystal’s blog today where she reviews Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

December 27th @ Linda’s Blog

Visit Linda’s blog again where you can read her interview with author Anna Levine.

https://www.lindaleekane.com/blog


December 28th @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog today you can read her review of Anna Levine’s book All Eyes on Alexandra.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/


December 31st @ Strength 4 Spouses

Visit Wendi’s blog and read Anna Levine’s guest post on learning about families and different cultures.


January 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog where he shares his thoughts about Anna Levine’s picture book All Eyes on Alexandra. 

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 3rd @ Beverley A. Baird’s Blog

Visit Beverley’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about getting into the head of your middle-grade characters.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

January 4th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit author Anthony Avina’s blog again where you can read Anna Levine’s blog post about using fiction to write non-fiction.

http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

January 7th @ Strength 4 Spouses Blog

Visit Wendi’s blog again where you can read her thoughts about the book All Eyes on Alexandra by Anna Levine.

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Best Books of 2018

Hello fellow readers and book enthusiasts. I can’t believe it’s the end of 2018 already. This year has both seemed to drag on and flown by way too quickly all at once. This year I really focused most of my energy on not only my day job, but on building this blog into the best possible writing and book related author website possible. I’ve gotten the opportunity to work with some truly amazing authors and publishing companies this year, and as a result I have been lucky enough to review over a hundred novels in total in 2018. 

With so many amazing books under my belt in 2018, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at the year and see which books shone the brightest. So here are my picks for the Best Books of 2018!

Zenith: The Androma Saga by Lindsay Cummings & Sasha Alsberg

As a longtime fan of both Lindsay Cummings and Sasha Alsberg on YouTube, I knew I wanted to pick up a copy of Zenith and give it a read, and boy was I not disappointed. As a fan of sci-fi the concept already drew me in, but the way the story was written allowed for some amazing character development. It felt like a modern day, YA version of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with a mostly female All-Star cast of characters. With shocking twists and turns and a good blend of YA character development and mature storylines, this novel perfectly set up the eager anticipation for a sequel, (which I cannot wait for Nexus, the second book in the series, to drop this year). 

Keeper by Kim Chance

Another amazing read for a YouTuber/AuthorTuber that I greatly admire, author Kim Chance’s debut novel Keeper was a fantastic read. I’m a sucker for anything involving the supernatural and fantasy in a modern setting, so this story of a young girl who can see a chilling sight of a ghost and learns she is part of something far greater and deadlier than she ever knew really stood out to me. The story felt raw, emotional and powerful in a very real sense, and as a result I am sitting on the edge of my seat for the next book in the series “Seeker”. 

The Fifth To Die by J.D. Barker

One of my all time favorite reads of the year, author J.D. Barker is quickly proving to be one of the next powerhouse horror authors in the industry. The Fifth To Die is the highly anticipated sequel to the thrilling horror read The Fourth Monkey, and the growing mythology of the 4MK killer and the detective obsessed with bringing him to justice takes so many twists and turns that you will be left breathless by the book’s final pages. Ending on a cliffhanger, I am as obsessed as the story’s detective to see how the third book turns out. 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

One of the more surprising hits of 2018 has to be The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. This year’s chart climbing hit thriller focuses on a woman who develops a fear of leaving her home, only to witness horrible crimes at her neighbors home. Battling a police department who fears her phobia of leaving the home is causing her to hallucinate strange events and a shocking mystery involving her seemingly perfect neighbors makes this the year’s “Gone Girl” type of story, and creates a narrative like no other that makes me feel as if author A.J. Finn has a long career in the genre. 

It Came From The Basement by M.R. Kessell

A mature illustrated book that screams of childhood memories, this novel showcases horror filled monster tales offering various horrific situations involving scary beats who emerge from the basement of this home. The illustrations and attention to detail in creating this adult themed illustrated novel make this one of the more unique reads I had this year. 

Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith

This unique read really stuck out to me, as it was unlike any other superhero book I’d read before. A non-fiction book that analyzes various superheroes in popular culture and reflects on who best represents what our world needs from an ethical standpoint, the author pairs various heroes against one another in various categories, from intelligence and brawn to animalistic natures and god-like power. It’s a profound read that will give superhero fans a new appreciation for the genre, while giving us a new perspective on the heroes we thought we knew. 

Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody

One of the most unique graphic novels I had the pleasure of reviewing this year was Boylord: Genesis by Nathan Peabody. I had the honor of meeting Nathan years ago at San Francisco Comic Con when work on this story first began, and I was sent a full hardback copy of the full story this year. The illustrations and artwork were breathtaking, and the blend of sci-fi, fantasy and horror felt less like a mashup and more of a natural progression of the genres. I highly recommend you grabbing a copy of this book. 

Scarlet Reign: Malice of the Dark Witch by R.D. Crist

A newcomer to the YA scene, this dark tale of witchcraft and a young woman who must grieve her mother’s untimely passing while trying to survive in this deadly new world really stuck out to me. The author had a rich command over the genre as we explored this young woman’s journey to discover who she really was, who her mother was and what dangers she was being hid from while grieving really made this a unique read. 

Dracul by J.D. Barker and Dacre Stoker

One of the highlights of the year had to be the highly anticipated prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, titled Dracul. Written by my favorite emerging horror author J.D. Barker alongside Bram Stoker descendant Dacre Stoker, the story put Bram himself in the seat of being the protagonist, exploring a “true” history of how this classic novel came to life. Discovering that the author had the first 100 pages cut from his manuscript and that he originally presented it as a true story to the publishers made this read all the more fascinating, and I highly recommend any fans of the Dracula lore to pick up this fantastic novel. 

Mermaids Are Real: The Mystiq Prong by Bo Wu

One sub-genre of the YA genre that I’ve always been fascinated by but have yet to tackle was the Mermaid mythology. While films like The Little Mermaid by Disney have showcased some aspects of mermaid lore, author Bo Wu created a whole new twist on the genre, creating a whole world under the ocean. The character development and coming of age element of the story was brilliant, and fans of the recently released Aquaman might be interested in this underwater adventure as well. 

We Are The Underground by Israfel Savid 

If I were to pick one book of poetry that I loved the most this year, it would be Israfel Savid’s We Are The Underground. Blending beautiful poetic imagery with themes from the astrological mythology, the author created a running narrative that people of all backgrounds could find themselves in.

One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins

The final novel I’ll recommend is the shocking and captivating horror novel One Night’s Stay by C.B. Collins. A blend of Salem’s Lot, Psycho and survival horror novels, the story finds several individuals drawn to this local motel outside of a mysterious town, only to be attacked by some unseen and monstrous force that will force them to fight for survival. It’s a wonderful twist on the supernatural horror genre that I highly recommend.

What do you guys think? Which of these books have you read in 2018? What was your favorite read of 2018? Let me know in the comments below, and check out all of my reviews of these novels by clicking on the buttons above! Have a wonderful New Year’s Everyone. I’ll see you in 2019!

Toni Cox “Elemental” Trilogy Book Blitz

elementalcoverrevealbannernew1 Toni Cox, author of The Elemental Trilogy series has decided to rebrand and here is what they look like Elemental Rising Elementalrising Maia, Elf princess of Elveron, has studied for almost a century to become a Prime Elemental but, when she finally completes her final test, which she had to take on Earth, something unexpected happens, and she brings with her the very thing she tried to leave behind.

Now she is faced with responsibilities she thinks she is not ready for, a love she does not reciprocate, and a threat to her people that might kill them all. Young, inexperienced, and unsure of her powers, she only has her desire to save her people that drives her into battle. But she is not alone. She has her mentor, Silas, and her dragon, Midnight, who stand by her side as she embarks on an adventure to save not just herself, but the rest of the nation of Grildor as well.

Amazon

Elemental Betrayal: Elementalbetrayal The nation of Grildor still reels from the War of Greystone. They spent the winter Moons mourning their dead. Now it is spring and time to drive the last of the enemy off their planet. Maia has sunken into a pit of despair during the harsh Moons of Winter, not only mourning the people that died, but also the absence of Blaid. Would he ever come back to her? Lord Longshadow, Lord Regent of Grildor, decides it is time to act and sends Maia and Jaik as ambassadors to the various cities within Grildor. The aim is to reassure the people that the Longshadow Clan is there to protect them, but as Maia and Jaik travel, they learn that the situation is far worse than they had anticipated.

They have been betrayed and their nation is threatened with war a second time. Desperately, she searches for the strength to save her people. And, although she has her dragon, Midnight to help her, the responsibility of being a Prime rests heavily on her shoulders.

Will her magic be strong enough to save them this time?

Amazon

Forbidden Elemental Elemental forbidden Two battles are behind them and now the true war with the Vampyres is about to start. Elveron will succumb unless the Prime Elementals can become as one. Maia deserts her people to find Blaid, for only as one will they have the power to defeat the Vampyres amassing at Greystone. It is Forbidden for them to be together and yet their connection is all that stands between victory and eternal defeat. With her dragon, Midnight, Maia sets off on a journey that will change the future for everyone. Lord Longshadow, the Lord Regent, invokes the Rule of Kings and travels to every country of Greater Grildor. He needs the Lords to pledge their armies. Jaik Longshadow rules in his father’s stead and faces the greatest test of his life, while Aaron Nightingale, believing he is the reason Maia left, races across Grildor to find her. The arrival of winter means the Vampyres will be less active. Amid snow and ice, it is time for Elveron to prepare. But the Vampyres have a different agenda and winter will no longer stop them. As desperation and fear takes hold, Maia understands that to save her people she needs a new plan.

Will Blaid help her? Will she have enough time?

Amazon

WHAT OTHER SAY ABOUT THE ELEMENTAL TRILOGY?

“Cox has created characters; a world; a story that is Tolkien worthy. She has developed something unique and rich in imagination.” Sian B. Claven (Author of The Butcher books)

“Maia is an incredible character to follow. Toni Cox has managed to bring something new, exciting, and seriously addictive to the fore.” Robyn Victoria Castles (TBB)

Elemental Trilogy Bundle: Elementaltrilogy

PURCHASING LINKS

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About Toni Cox

42849540_822472158144041_2683570900267171840_n Born in Germany in 1976, Toni Cox moved to South Africa in 1991. Although she has spent much of her working career in the timber wholesale business, she is also an accomplished horse rider, has a diploma in project management, photography, and nutrition, and has a passion for books and all things fantasy. From a young age, her dream had always been to put her imagination into words – give the stories life. When she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2013, she decided life is too short not to follow her dream. So, with the support of her husband and three children, she began writing book 1 of the Elemental Trilogy in January 2015. Toni Cox writes: Epic Fantasy – The Milky Way Chronicles (including The Elemental Trilogy), Young Adult Fantasy – (including The Elemental Short Stories), Sci-Fi Fantasy – The Andromeda Saga, Fantasy – The Dragonlore Series, Dystopian Fantasy – these are set on Earth, the first one (Resilient) will be released in 2019).

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The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Book Volume Book 1) by Dr. William Anderson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Dr. William Anderson dives head first into the complex world of medical examiners and the far too often injustices that our legal system fails to recognize or get justice for in the medical/crime drama, “The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1). Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

There was a day in the early times of the invention of the medical examiner where this esteemed doctor and pathologist held the job of declaring people dead. Nowadays it is much different. Not only does he affirm time of death, he is involved with the entire community of law enforcement officials, their politics, as well as the many different agendas they hold. 

The cases of Dr. Lyons will shows you the different hats a medical examiner must wear during a single case on the street, in his office, and in the court room. 

The Review

This was one of the most interesting, gripping and intense medical crime thrillers I’ve read in a while. Instead of focusing on a single case, the author does a brilliant job of highlighting the failure of law enforcement and state medical examiners to properly investigate the deaths of individuals who have had no justice done in their investigations. These three cases seem to mirror real life events, or at least speak to the current injustices we see plastered over the internet in this day and age.

In a time where racial violence is on the rise and distrust between people and the police is more and more evident, the author does a marvelous job bringing these issues into the novel. The cases are presented in a clear and concise way, with the author’s medical knowledge showing in every passage. The detail that goes into the examinations of the victims and the detailed account of what each finding means in regards to the victim’s death is fascinating to see unfold, and readers will be left breathless and on the edge of their seat as the investigations unravel before their eyes.

The Verdict

This is a must read novel! Filled with elements of thrillers, mysteries, and detailed medical forensics that give this novel an air of authenticity that few other medical/crime thrillers have, author Dr. William Anderson has created a remarkable novel filled with three heart-pounding tales that will fascinate, enrage and engage readers on multiple levels. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of The Case Files of Doctor Arthur Lyons: Medical Examiner (Volume Book 1) today!

Rating: 10/10

https://amzn.to/2Q6WCRQ

Interview with Author Israfel Sivad (December 2018)

1)      For any newcomers to my blog, tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

Well, the truth is I’ve pretty much always written. After my parents split up when I was in fifth grade, I started writing myself to sleep at night. I did that all through middle school. I wrote lyrics based on all the song structures in the liner notes to the heavy metal tapes I owned. In high school, I turned that talent into an opportunity to write lyrics for the punk rock bands I played in. I wound up collecting many of those lyrics in my book Soundtrack for the New Millennium. Then, when I went away to college, I started keeping journals, and eventually those journals evolved into stories, novels and poems.

2)      What inspired you to write your book?

We Are the Underground initially started as a project for a writing group I joined when I left New York City in 2012 to move back down to Richmond, VA for a little while. I met a group of guys and girls at a café, and they started giving me writing prompts. Eventually, after I had already written a handful of random poems, I decided I wanted a theme running through the work as a whole. The poems so far had been very personal to me. So, I decided to incorporate my childhood spirituality into the work. Having grown up in Southern California, that wasn’t quite the same as many of my peers. It was based on the mysticism and philosophies my grandmother studied. She called herself The White Witch. Those poems eventually turned into the “Zodiac Cycle,” and that determined the structure for the rest of the book.

3)      What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I really hope readers will be inspired by We Are the Underground to create for themselves, whether that be artistically, spiritually or simply in their day-to-day lives. In addition to that, I’d love for readers to go deep with these poems and find their own meanings in them. I believe I’ve left a lot of room open for interpretation with this book. I hope people will explore all those meanings.

4)      What drew you into this particular genre?

I started writing these poems as a break from another project I was working on (the novel you reviewed earlier, Anthony, The Adversary’s Good News). The poems were able to be jotted down quickly and then revised and modified slowly over time. That allowed me to feel like I was making progress when my novel was progressing so slowly. After finishing the novel, I kept working on the poems as breaks from a handful of other, larger projects I’d started.

5)      What major differences (other than genre) did you notice when writing this book as opposed to The Adversary’s Good News? Would you say it was more difficult or easier to write this book?

Writing The Adversary’s Good News was harder than this book. The Adversary’s Good News took me nearly ten years to complete. It was a massive undertaking. The plotting and wordsmithing was unbelievable. However, We Are the Underground surprisingly required a great deal more research, particularly for the Zodiac Cycle. The Adversary’s Good News was inspired by books I’d already read. Whereas, with We Are the Underground,I spent a lot of time researching astrology for the poems themselves as well as poetic structures so that I could vary the styles and tones of each poem while simultaneously finding forms fitting each one’s content.

6)      Since we last spoke, what social media site has grown to help you connect with readers the most?

Instagram has been garnering a lot of my social media attention. I find it to be a great medium for reaching readers and interacting with the world in general.

7)      What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or poets out there, or to anyone looking to expand and explore the poetry genre as a whole?

First, to aspiring authors and poets: Believe in yourself, and don’t give up. Nobody else can determine if you’re a writer. Only you know that. Don’t believe in artistic “gatekeepers.” Nobody else can tell you whether you’ve succeeded in accomplishing what you want to accomplish. As far as expanding and exploring the genre of poetry, I urge everybody to read everything from yesterday’s classics to today’s big press and self-published authors. Read everything from Instagram poets to The Epic of Gilgamesh. And while you’re doing all that, keep exploring what this world makes you think and feel. Write it down. Write it all down. The structures will come. You’ll discover them. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to live.

8)      What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I’m pretty much always working on new projects. What I’m most excited about right now, though, is the first draft of a new novel I recently completed. I hope to release this project in the next year or two. It’s currently called Pomegranate Sutra, and it’s the story of how to find love when you believe you’re too damaged to ever let that emotion take hold. I look forward to sharing it with you all when it’s finally ready for publication.

About the Author

Israfel Sivad is the founder of Ursprung Collective, which has been referred to as “fantastic brain food” on ReverbNation. His first novel, “Crossroads Blues”, has been compared to the work of Fyodor Dostoevsky (Palmetto Review). His second novel, “The Adversary’s Good News”, was a finalist for the 2016 Chanticleer Paranormal Book Award. His stories and poems have appeared in the Santa Fe Literary Review, The Stray Branch and Badlands Literary Journal. 

Website: www.IsrafelSivad.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/israfel_sivad/

Twitter: twitter.com/UrsprungCollect

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UrsprungCollective/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/ursprung-collective

Christmas Eve Dinner Cruise

Interview with Author T.L. Hughes

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I have been writing most of my life. When I was in the eighth grade, I had a teacher who encouraged us to use weekly vocabulary words in a paragraph that we had to recite aloud. It became a game for a few of us where we would use as many vocabulary words as we could, even using past weeks words. I began to write my own short stories and poetry shortly after that. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This book, like my first novel, Searching For Paradise, was inspired by my love of travel and meeting new and interesting people. When I travel, I always keep a road journal alongside me. The Sojourners is based upon a real life road trip through Europe in the 1980’s and had its basis in one of those journals. The characters and situations are fictional, although many of the characters possess the traits of some of the real life people I met along the way.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That life is an incredible journey and to never give up on your dreams. Every person we meet along this journey has something to teach us. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve loved the genre ever since I started reading the road novels of Jack Kerouac. Growing up in New England, Kerouac’s novels opened my eyes to the American west. In high school, I dreamed of traveling the highways of America (and Mexico) like he did. When I graduated from college, I finally realized that dream, always taking along a notepad and pen along with me.

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Good question. It would probably be Decky Brady. I would ask him about his own journey into Ireland. I’d want to know what ever happened to him? Where did he end up? A later novel of mine will take place in current times, where Luke Coppens and Michael Hogan attempt to return to Europe to ty to find Decky. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

I’m new to social media. At this point I would have to say Goodreads, where I am beginning to get followers. I also have a Facebook page. I’m looking forward to expanding my social media presence at some point with Instagram and Twitter, however, right now I am not on those sites.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

If you love writing and feel your best while doing it, keep doing it. Don’t be discouraged by naysayers and negative people. With platforms out there now like Kindle Direct Publishing and other services that assist Indie authors in publishing their work, this is a great time to be a writer. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

My next book is a novel that will be set in a New England mill town. It will be different than my road books. It centers around Mike Hogan in his early adolescent years. As Mike and his small group of friends move through childhood and adolescence, they encounter challenges and make decisions that will dramatically alter the course of their lives. I’m hoping to have this published within the next two years.

About the Author

T.L. Hughes was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and at a young age moved to Lowell, Massachusetts where he grew up, attending the local public schools through high school. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1980, he headed west to California. Today, he lives in Orange County with his wife and family.

Interview with Illustrator Courtney Huddleston

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing/illustration?

My name is Courtney Huddleston, and I illustrate children’s books for a living. Like so many others, I’ve had a fascination for good art and writing, since childhood. I was never the best at either, but countless hours of practice mixed with persistence, eventually lead to me becoming a professional. 

2) What inspired you to work on these books?

Whether it’s a kid in class daydreaming or a professional writer, everyone has ideas. I’m no different than either, and Audrey’s Magic Nine happened to be my latest idea. I started with the idea of bringing hand puppets to life. From there, I listed as many stories as I could in today’s pop culture with a similar vibe. Jim Henson’s creations, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, and Pinocchio are just a few that I listed. I tried to steer my story as far away from those iconic stories as much as I could, in hopes of putting a different spin on an old idea. And, that’s how Audrey’s Magic Nine came to be. 

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your books?

I didn’t initially try to establish a message or theme when I came up with this story. I was focused mainly on making it as unique and entertaining as possible. That said, the protagonist is a genuinely kind and selfless person from start to finish, despite having many  physical, mental, and emotional obstacles in front of her. 

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

As an elementary school teacher, my wife has no shortage of stories to tell. One of the more recurring stories is how much graphic novels motivate her students to read. Combine that with the fact that I’m a life long comic book lover, and the rest is history. 

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5) If you could sit down with any character in your books, what would you ask them and why?

I would sit down with Asa from Audrey’s Magic Nine, because he’s just one of the coolest characters I’ve had the honor of creating. But I wouldn’t ask him anything, because as his creator, I know the answer to any question I ask him. I’ve never been asked this question, but it made me feel very powerful for a moment. Ha. 

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Audrey’s Magic Nine was a webcomic before it went to print. The webcomic had a more followers than any of the social media outlets. 

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors/illustrators out there?

As cliche as my cliched answer may sound, the answer is to be persistent. The internet has leveled the playing field, making it easier to showcase your work, connect with publishers and agents,research industry trends, and much much more. All you have to do is always try to improve and never give up. 

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

I recently wrapped up Book 3 of Audrey’s Magic Nine, and it will soon go through the editing stages. I am also doing freelance work for another kids book series, while developing a new story that I plan to share in 2019. 

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