Guest Article: Signposts of Inspiration by Carol Es

Editor’s Note: This is Anthony Avina, and I wanted to personally welcome author Carol Es to my website. This insightful and honest article was something I wanted to share with you all, and I couldn’t appreciate it more that Carol took the time to write it for us. I hope you guys enjoy it. Now on to Carol’s article…


When people ask what inspires me, I never know what to say. Not because I’m lacking in the inspiration department—it’s just too general a question. “Everything,” I’ll say. If asked what my inspiration might be for something specific, you probably won’t be able to shut me up.

As both a writer and a visual artist, my work is predominantly autobiographical. I love anything with a narrative. Stories move me to create, they draw me in and take me on an escape, like a drug. When combining writing with art together, all the better. I have made many Artist’s books that mish-mash art and words, a genre unto itself, and it’s mostly what I’m used to working in.

However, I’ve been writing short stories and poetry since I was a kid. I wrote a screenplay when I was 17-18 that I never finished. (It was terrible.) Throughout my 20s, I made several attempts at writing novels, but had never been able to get more than 50 pages in. Most of the fiction I wrote was autobiographical. I’ve been inspired by authors Charles Bukowski since I was a young teenager, and later John Fante. It’s not that I wanted to write in either of their styles, but I wanted to be able to evoke a similar feeling from my writing.

Still working on that.

It was nerve-wracking writing in nonfiction, though I think it drove me to finish an entire book. At first, I didn’t write about myself much at all. I found the stories of people much more interesting, and so, I’ve written Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley several times over. It was hard to come to grips with, but a memoir is supposed to be self-indulgent. It just feels uncomfortable. I had to carve out an honest story and reveal my raw self to the world. It’s risky business.

Along the way, I probably couldn’t have finished it without bits of inspiration. My partner, Michael Phillips, also a writer pushed me and supported me immensely. I was also absolutely dazzled after seeing Jonathan’s Caouette’s documentary art film, Tarnation.

Caouette took 20 years of home movies, snapshots, and answering machine messages, stuck them into a blender and came out with a unique examination of his early life—his tumultuous childhood with his mentally ill mother. How could I not identify with that? My mother was bipolar.

This incredibly brave movie deeply inspired me to stop apologizing for my own dysfunctional family and embrace them as my muse. I also began to see the strength in vulnerability instead of viewing it as a weakness.

But I had been wanting to write this book in one version or another for a long time. At the start of it, I began to think back some 20 years when I lived off of Laurel Canyon—a winding road through the Santa Monica Mountains that connects the southeast San Fernando Valley to West Hollywood in Los Angeles. It was the most inspired time and place for me.

A few people in the apartment building I lived in donated books in the laundry room and we’d all give and take them. Once I found a big hardcover book that got me really into my Jewish genealogy (Finding our Fathers by Dan Rottenberg), which sent me on a wild and freaky ride to nowhere. Or maybe it sent me to a sad wasteland. I never quite got to the bottom of my family search, but I got a lot of stories from all the digging I did. Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley actually began with my parents’ backstories, but most of it wound up on the cutting room floor as they say.

Once I’d been working on the book for a couple of years, I found even more inspiration in Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season. I’d been living in San Pedro and picked it up at the free clinic, much in the same way I did Finding our Fathers.

Though Bee Season isn’t a work of nonfiction, it changed the way I saw memoir writing. It’s written from a young girl’s point of view looking back as an adult woman. She recalls the span of time in her life when she was able to win over her father’s love by excelling in national spelling competitions. Though I’m no good at spelling, I really identified with the character who was the youngest in a Jewish family of just four. She’s also been severely overshadowed by her older brother. More than her thoughts and desires to be loved, it was the way she was able to bring in each of her family members’ backstory so seamlessly. I loved that and wished I could have done that. Perhaps in the future.

I get wildly excited and inspired by other visual artists too. I’ll fall in love with painters, i.e.: Amy Sillman, or Lisa Sanditz. I’ll want their work to influence mine. Inevitably, it is nearly impossible to duplicate the same feelings or techniques because everyone has there own thing. My work always winds up looking like all my other paintings. It’s frustrating because I often like other artist’s work much more than my own. That happens. That’s life, I guess. We aspire to be better and are inspired by the beauty that surrounds us and keep on going.

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Author Bio

Carol Es

Carol Es is a self-taught artist, writer, and musician born in Los Angeles. Using a wide variety of media, she is known for creating personal narratives that transform a broken history into a positive resolution. Her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, and books have been exhibited nationwide in venues such as Riverside Art Museum, Torrance Art Museum, Lancaster Museum of Art and History, and Craft Contemporary in Los Angeles. Some of her works can be found in the collections at the Getty and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Her collaborative film was also featured in the 2015 Jerusalem Biennale. 

Awarded many honors, including several grants from the National Arts and Disability Center and California Arts Council, she is a two-time recipient of the ARC Grant from the Durfee Foundation, a Pollock-Krasner Fellowship, and the Wynn Newhouse Award. She has written articles of art critique for the Huffington Post and Coagula Art Journal, as well as having poetry published with small presses. She also received a writing grant from Asylum-Arts—a Global Network for Jewish Culture.

Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley

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Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah by Neil McKee Blog Tour & Review

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

A journey of self discovery leads to fascinating discoveries in author Neil McKee’s “Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

Finding Myself in Borneo is an honest and buoyant chronicle of a young Canadian man’s adventures during 1968-70, while teaching secondary school as a CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo). Travel with Neill McKee on his unique journey through vibrant Asian cultures as he learns the craft of teaching, the Malay language and local customs, and gains many friends in his small community. He climbs the highest peak in Southeast Asia–Mount Kinabalu, has a love affair, and navigates Borneo’s backwaters to make his first of many documentary films. McKee travels by freighter to Indonesia, where he discovers the scars of that country’s recent genocide, a contrast to his hilarious motorcycle journeys in Sabah with his American Peace Corps buddy. They make a hallucinogenic discovery–North Borneo is, indeed, J. R. R. Tolkien’s famed Middle-Earth of The Lord of the Rings! The enterprising duo establish the North Borneo Frodo Society, an organization Tolkien joins.

McKee’s second Sabah sojourn and other return trips offer the reader the opportunity to match the early anecdotes to what in fact happened to the land and people who touched his life, and he theirs.

The Review

What a fantastic read! The honest, personal and intellectual journey of a young man in the late 60’s, early 70’s leaving behind his life in Canada to travel to a lifelong dream location of Borneo was so unique and wonderful to read. The author does a marvelous job of painting a picture of the experience, from the first weeks and the personal experiences that came with it, to the students and teachers who he got to know in his teaching role within the country.

Political upheavals, spiritual melting pots and cultural barriers all play a central role in both the author’s life and the novel. Even book lovers and fantasy fans will love the psychedelic discovery of Tolkien’s real world Middle Earth. Rarely do fans of the genre get to experience moments like that, making this memoir feel personal to both the author and reader.

The Verdict

This is a fantastic read everyone can enjoy. Filled with a wonderful blend of history, various cultures and languages and a great story of self discovery, the author has created a reading experience like no other. If you haven’t yet be sure to get your copy of Finding Myself in Borneo by Neil McKee today!

Rating: 8/10

Neill McKee’s

WOW! WOMEN ON WRITING TOUR

OF

Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah

 Tour Begins January 28th!

 

 

 

 

·         Paperback: 260 pages

·         Publisher: Nbfs Creations LLC (January 8, 2019)

·         Language: English

·         ISBN-10: 1732945705

·         ISBN-13: 978-1732945708

Amazon Link:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1732945705/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0%20/?tag=wowwomenonwri-20

 

Finding Myself in Borneo is an honest and buoyant chronicle of a young Canadian man’s adventures during 1968-70, while teaching secondary school as a CUSO volunteer in Sabah, Malaysia (North Borneo). Travel with Neill McKee on his unique journey through vibrant Asian cultures as he learns the craft of teaching, the Malay language and local customs, and gains many friends in his small community. He climbs the highest peak in Southeast Asia–Mount Kinabalu, has a love affair, and navigates Borneo’s backwaters to make his first of many documentary films. McKee travels by freighter to Indonesia, where he discovers the scars of that country’s recent genocide, a contrast to his hilarious motorcycle journeys in Sabah with his American Peace Corps buddy. They make a hallucinogenic discovery–North Borneo is, indeed, J. R. R. Tolkien’s famed Middle-Earth of The Lord of the Rings! The enterprising duo establish the North Borneo Frodo Society, an organization Tolkien joins.

McKee’s second Sabah sojourn and other return trips offer the reader the opportunity to match the early anecdotes to what in fact happened to the land and people who touched his life, and he theirs.

 

 

 

 

About the Author:  

 

Neill McKee is a creative nonfiction writer based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. McKee, who holds a B.A. Degree from the University of Calgary and a Masters in Communication from Florida State University, lived and worked internationally for 45 years and became an expert in communication for social change. He directed and produced of a number of award-winning documentary films/videos and multi-media initiatives and authored numerous articles and books on development communication. During his international career, McKee worked for Canadian University Service Overseas (CUSO), the International Development Ressearch Centre (IDRC), Canada, UNICEF, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore; Academy for Educational Development, Washington, D.C. and FHI 360, Washington, D.C. He worked and lived in Malaysia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda and Russia for a total of 18 years and traveled to over 80 countries on short-term assignments. 

Finding Myself in Borneo: Sojourns in Sabah is Neill’s first Memoir.

 

Find Neill Online:

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1839945.Neill_McKee

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/MckeeNeill

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/neill-mckee-b9971b65/

 Website: https://www.neillmckeeauthor.com/

  

———-Blog Tour Dates

 

Launch Day – January 28th

 –Neill McKee launches his tour of “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” with an interview and giveaway at the Muffin!

 

Tuesday, January 29th @ Selling Books

Learn more about Neill McKee as he is interviewed by Cathy Stucker at Selling Books. You won’t want to miss this insightful interview about McKee and his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”. https://www.sellingbooks.com/

 

Wednesday, January 30th @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto couldn’t wait to get her hands on Neill McKee’s memoir about his travels and finding himself! This busy farmer seldom leaves the farm and enjoyed every moment she experienced reading “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”. Find out more in her book review at Bring on Lemons today! http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

 

Thursday, January 31st @ Breakeven Books

Don’t miss a very honest book review about Neill McKee’s “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” https://breakevenbooks.com/

 

Monday, February 4th @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina reads and reviews “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” – by Neill McKee. Readers won’t want to miss this adventurous and soul searching memoir! https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

 

Wednesday, February 6th @ The World of My Imagination

Nicole hosts a special feature with author Neill McKee about his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”. https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

 

Friday, February 8th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples

Fellow memoirist Madeline Sharples hosts Neill McKee today as he pens today’s guest post titled:  Living in and learning about a very different culture”. Find out more about McKee and his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”. http://madelinesharples.com/

 

Monday, February 11th @ Book Santa Fe with Elizabeth Hansen

Young reader and reviewer Elizabeth Hansen shares her thoughts after reading about Neill McKee’s memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.
http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

 

Wednesday, February 13th @ To Write or Not to Write with Sreevarsha

Shreevarsha reviews the insightful memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” by Neill McKee. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about McKee’s journey. http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

 

Friday, February 15th @ Bring on Lemons with Tricia Schott Baldwin

Avid reader, constant dreamer, and occasional traveler Tricia Schott Baldwin reviews “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” by Neill McKee. Tricia shares her thoughts with readers at Bring on Lemons – will this be a lemon or sweet sweet lemonade? http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

 

Saturday, February 16th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole discusses “3 Things on a Saturday” with Neill McKee. Learn more about McKee and his memoir “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah”.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

 

 

Tuesday, February 19th @ Jarry Waxler’s Memoir Revolution

Memoir expert and educator Jerry Waxler pens his review of “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” by Neill McKee. Readers and memoirists alike won’t want to miss this insightful post and review by Waxler. https://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/

 

Thursday, March 7th @ Kathleen Pooler

Neill McKee finds himself penning today’s guest post “Becoming a memoir writer after retiring from another career.” at Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey – don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about McKee and his exciting tale “Finding Myself in Borneo; Sojourns in Sabah” https://krpooler.com/

To Dream the Blackbane Blog Tour

ToDreamtheBlackbane

Congratulations to author Richard J. O’Brien, on the release of his latest novel, To Dream the Blackbane!

TDTB Book CoverTo Dream the Blackbane

Publication Date: December 29th, 2018

Genre: Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy

A cosmic event in 2015 fused Earth with the faerie realm. Scientists referred to the event as The Anomaly. A byproduct of The Anomaly was the advent of hybrid beings—people who became mixed with whatever animal or object was closest to them the moment the event occurred. Humans, or pedigrees, soon relegated fairy refugees and hybrids into ghetto zones in large cities.

Seventy years later, Wolfgang Rex, a second-generation hybrid—part human, part Rhodesian Ridgeback—is a retired police detective who runs a private investigation business in Chicago’s Southside. It’s a one-hybrid show; though Rex couldn’t survive without his assistant, the faerie Sally Sandweb.

One night, two vampires visit Rex and offer him a substantial reward for the recovery of a stolen scroll. Later that same evening, Charlotte Sweeney-Jarhadill, a pedigree woman from Louisiana, visits Rex and hires him to exorcize the headless ghost of a Confederate soldier from her home.

To complicate matters, the private detective ends up falling for Charlotte. Meanwhile, the vampires demand results in the search for the missing scroll. When Rex’s assistant Sally goes missing, he must stay alive long enough to find her. Charlotte and the vampires, however, have other plans for Rex.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

My name is Wolfgang Rex. I am a private detective. Once upon a time I’d been a police lieutenant. After twenty-five years of service to the city of Chicago, I retired in 2063 and opened up Chi-town Detectives, a private investigation firm.

I’m what they call in the medical books a second-generation Anomalous cross-breed. My father was a cop like me. One night he was out walking his dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Rex. My mother hated that dog. After she died I learned that she had always wished that Rex would meet some unfortunate demise. She got her wish on the night of The Anomaly. My father came home from his walk without the dog—in a manner of speaking. For lack of a better term, he and the dog had fused. And the result was a humanoid—with a hairy body, a tail, and the head of his old dog Rex. My mother was horrified, but my parents were both Catholic. So they stuck it out. I was born in the tenth year of The Anomaly. When I was a kid, my mother used to read me fairy tales. She died before I finished high school. So it goes, like Kurt Vonnegut once wrote. I turned out to be the spitting image of my father post-Anomaly. I lucked out with being born without a tail. My father had somehow managed to keep his human vocal cords. My face was less hairy than his, but our snouts were nearly identical.

Learning to speak with a dog’s mouth was tricky when I was coming up, but I eventually got the hang of it. And thank Christ I’d been born with opposable thumbs; otherwise, I would’ve starved to death a long time ago. Still, given that many people melded with inanimate objects—much like that poor bastard who became a stone gargoyle—I constantly considered myself lucky. My father cursed his lot for the rest of his life. Some people, like my old man, never learned to adjust.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Author Pic

Richard J. O’Brien is a graduate of the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA in Creative Writing Program. Richard’s novels include Under the Bronze Moon, Infestation, and The Garden of Fragile Things. His short stories have appeared in The Del Sol Review, Duende, Pulp Literature, The Dr. T.J. Eckleburg Review, Weirdbook, and other magazines. Richard lives in New Jersey, where he teaches at Rowan College at Gloucester County and Stockton University.

Richard J. O’Brien | Goodreads | Amazon

For your chance to win a copy of To Dream the Blackbane, click on the link below!

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ToDreamtheBlackbane

Tour Schedule

Jan 7th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://www.readsandreels.com

Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com/

Tranquil Dreams (Excerpt) https://klling.wordpress.com/

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/

Jan. 8th

On the Shelf Book Reviews (Excerpt) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Your Books, My Reviews (Review) https://yourbooksmyreview.wordpress.com

Jan. 9th

I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

The Voluptuous Book Diva (Excerpt) http://www.thevoluptuousbookdiva.com/

Rockabilly Spoonie (Interview) https://lauramorningstar.com

Splashes into Books (Excerpt) https://splashesintobooks.wordpress.com/

Jan. 10th

Anthony Avina (Excerpt) http://www.authoranthonyavinablog.com

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

The Return Cart (Review) http://thereturncart.com/

Didi Oviatt (Excerpt) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Jan 11th

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

Cats Love Coffee Book Reviews (Review) https://catsluvcoffeez.blogspot.com

Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Sammie Reads (Review) https://sammiereadsbook.wordpress.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

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R&R Book Tours

2019 Writing & Reading Goals

Welcome to the New Year everyone! With the beginning of a new year, it’s time to start planning ahead for what we hope to accomplish in 2019. 2018, as was the case for most of us, was a year full of turmoil and heartache. While there are no guarantees that the year ahead will be better, we can only hope. As an author and blogger, I have been planning out what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. That’s why I’m going to publicly outline my goals for 2019.

Build Website

I hope to continue building my website that you guys are currently visiting. While I want to get more viewers and followers, my ultimate goal is to provide more exposure for other authors, review and preview amazing books coming in 2019, and meet some new and amazing friends in the author community. 

Read 150 Books Or More

I will make this public on Goodreads as well, but I more than surpassed my goal of books read in 2018, and so I want to challenge myself to read 150 books or more in the coming year.

Enter 2-4 Writing Contests

Writing is going to become much more frequent and a part of my life. In 2018 my own personal writing took a step back. Between my day job becoming much more frequent and a priority, building my website and taking on more responsibilities in my personal life, my writing fell to the wayside. I did publish a short novella and began working on the third novella in that series. I also wrote the fourth book in my Nightmare Wars series. However most of that writing has fallen to the wayside, not edited or reworked or even getting a second draft. 

That’s why in the coming year, I want to further my writing goals and enter at least 2-4 writing contests. This will give me the motivation not only to write, but edit and rewrite these stories and put them out there for others to see and judge. 

Submit 2-4 Stories For Anthologies

Similar to the contests, I want to submit 2-4 stories for anthologies. I get notices all the time for publications putting anthologies together and I’d love to collaborate and work with other authors in this way. 

Edit 1-2 Books Previously Published

One thing that I’ve learned in my years as a writer and blogger/reviewer is that there is always room for improvement and more lessons to be learned. When I was first starting out, I definitely failed to edit and flesh out the stories I wrote as a young writer. I want to take some of the stories I still love that I published prematurely in my writing career, and go back and fix them. I want to bring the stories to life and edit them so that readers will appreciate them more the way that I do.

Write 1-2 Novels

I have so many series in the works and so many stories floating around in my mind, that it’s time to put some of them down to paper (or a computer screen). I hope to write at least 1-2 novels in the coming year. 

Write 2-4 Short Stories

In addition to the 1-2 novels, I hope to write 2-4 short stories (not including the contests or anthologies I plan to write stories for). 

Adapt First Graphic Novel

I would love to adapt one of my novels into a graphic novel. I plan to study and learn how to write a graphic novel, and hopefully will find an artist who is willing to collaborate on the project.

Research, Investigate and Write Book On Southern California Haunting Claims

This is a passion project I hope to pursue in the coming year. My mom and I are deeply passionate about the paranormal, more specifically finding the right science behind the paranormal (we are not religious and believe there is a science that has yet to be discovered in regards to the “spirit”). One thing we have dreamed of is going to places around the world, investigating and writing about what we found/discovered. Our goal in 2019 is to try and do this by writing our first book together on local haunts in the Southern California area. 

Monthly Vlogs on Author Anthony Avina Channel

This is not specifically a writing goal, but it is related. I used to have a vlog channel called Avina Vlogs, but after all of the turmoil and changes to YouTube, I left it behind. However I loved making videos, and want to do it again. So not only will I be filming and uploading a video each month to my new YouTube channel, Author Anthony Avina, but I will be uploading them to Facebook, Instagram and hopefully my website as well. I’m doing monthly vlogs as I have a full schedule and filming daily is not an option at this time. I may look into restarting my podcast again or creating a new one, but that is not confirmed at this time.

What are your writing goals in 2019? Any books you hope to tackle in the coming year? Leave your comments below, and to keep up on whether or not I hit my goals, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and here as I post my progress.

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. 

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com

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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Author Interview with Anna Levine

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

My great-grandmother came to Canada in the late 1880s. She shares a passport with my great-grandfather. Beneath his photo is written Issac Yaphe. Beside him, my great-grandmother, a stern looking woman, is frowning at the photographer. Beneath her photo the passport inspector wrote, “Wife does not write.” Some years later I ended up at a writer’s residence in Eastern Canada, a few miles from where my great-grandmother had settled and farmed a small piece of land. Though I’ve been writing since my teens, keeping journals (that crowd my office space) I have that photo of my great-grandparents on my desk to remind me that I’m the great-granddaughter of the woman who immigrated to Canada as the wife “who does not write.”

What inspired you to write your book?

Curiosity. I often think the topics I write about find me. I have a series of archaeological-themed picture books about a young girl who is fascinated by history. Archaeology is one of my passions and when I can, I join a dig. I have a book for middle-grade readers that takes place in an olive grove, and last year I spent a day raking olives off the trees onto mats and scooping them up into crates. My writing has been labeled ‘realistic fiction.’ Research is my way of discovering new experiences.

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

“Birds without borders.” I live in a country where there is a lot of conflict between people. And yet, when I visit the Hula Nature Reserve and I see all the different birds from all over the world swoop in to chat with each other (imagine a family dinner where everyone has to have their say), sharing food and finding a place to rest, I think of how we could learn from nature about living together peacefully even if the ‘peace’ can get quite noisy.

What drew you into this particular genre?

Writing a picture book is like writing poetry. I have published a few poems and when I’m stuck on a project I always reach for my poetry anthologies. I enjoy the challenge of finding just the right words to create an image. One of my favorite books growing up was Madeline. I loved Madeline’s independent spirit and the illustrations that accompany the text. The combination works for me.

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

I’d love to chat with Alexandra and ask her what it feels like to sail above looking down on us. She’s been to places I’ve always dreamed of going to see.

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

I’m really enjoying this WOW blog tour (and someone has already written me to ask how to join one). I use Facebook but the contacts I have all know me. This blog tour has allowed me to get in touch with people outside my circle. I’m on Instagram and Twitter but in truth don’t know how to use them all that well. I find that social media takes a lot of time and it’s time taken from my writing. I haven’t figured out the balance yet.

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

Perseverance! It’s less about ‘write what you know’ (the old adage) but write about what excites you and what you want to learn about. Challenge yourself and discover new experiences.

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

I’m working on a cozy mystery for adults that is set in Canada. It’s presently in submission through my agent. Lots of plotting goes into constructing a mystery and it’s a new genre for me, but I’m loving it!

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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.

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/

Explore the Best Books of 2018 at BN.com

– 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.

https://strength4spouses.blog/


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.

https://strength4spouses.blog/


Author Interview with Francis Moss

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

I’ve always written. I remember sitting at my parent’s Underwood and typing out stories, probably about dogs, cats or spacemen. In college, I wrote for the school paper and a couple of local papers, the Berkeley Barb and the San Francisco Express-Times. In 1979, a friend asked me what I wanted to do with my life. “I want to be a writer,” I said. She said: “Write for television. That’s where the money is.”

I took her advice and cranked out a few spec scripts for TV shows I liked. One of them got the attention of the producer of Buck Rogers, and I wound up writing two episodes, which got me into The Writers’ Guild. Then the Guild went on strike, and I, with a family to support, needed work. A local company, Filmation, was looking for writers for a new cartoon show, She-Ra, Princess of Power (cartoon writers were not in the Guild). I got on staff at the show, wrote and edited a bunch, and spent the rest of my TV career writing ‘toons, along with a few non-fiction books for kids.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

This sounds like a line from a bad movie, but it came to me in a dream. I was sitting in an office with – of all people! – Mindy Kalin, who was reading a script I’d written. In my waking life, I’d never have thought of pitching to her. She put it down and turned to me: “This is pretty good. Did you write it?” My dream self was offended, and I replied: “No. I got it from the Story Store.” (it’s a writer’s jokey answer to the question, “where do you get your ideas?”). My book, once called “The Story Store” came to me. Of course pretty much everything including the title, got changed.

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

I don’t think much about messages. I mostly write things I’d like to read. A reviewer pointed out a theme in Losing Normal  of “screen addiction.” So let’s go with that.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve always written for kids. I am a twelve-year old boy in an old man’s body.

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

My first thought was, I’d like to ask Sophie how she could think that adoration from mind-numbed people had anything to do with ‘perfection.’ That seems pretty tongue-in-cheeky, though. I ought to have a more serious answer.

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

None of them so far. I have some Facebook friends, a few Twitter followers. But I’m lousy at it.

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

Read a lot. Write a lot. Don’t wait for ’inspiration.’ Find other writers, either IRL on online, and share your stories. Do something for your writing life every day.

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

My current project is promoting the hell out of Losing Normal (hence this prompt reply to your questions).
Books: I’ve got more stories to tell than I have time to write. KillGirl  is my next one (currently 50K+ words in a 2nd draft): a teenage girl seeks revenge for the murders of her grandparents. After that, a middle-grade adventure (maybe a series), about a young boy in WW II England; and a science-fiction story about the multiverse.

Losing Normal is available at Amazon.com:
https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

I am available (more or less) at: https://www.francismoss.com
https://facebook.com/fcmoss
https://twitter.com/fcmoss

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About the Author

Francis Moss has written and story-edited hundreds of hours of scripts on many of the top animated shows of the 90s and 00s. Beginning his television work in live-action with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, he soon starting writing cartoons on She-Ra, Princess of Power, Iron Man, Ducktales, and a four-year stint on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, writing and story-editing more episodes than you can swing a nuchaku at. 

One of his TMNT scripts, “The Fifth Turtle,” was the top-rated script among all the 193 episodes in a fan poll on IGN.COM. A list of his television credits is at IMDB.COM.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Normal-Francis-Moss/dp/1732791023/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42746625

www.francismoss.com