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MEET THE AUTHORS: Richard and Mary Rensberry


“MEET THE AUTHORS”

Authors Richard Rensberry (GOBLIN’S GOOP ) and Mary Rensberry (I AM SPIRIT, the ABCs of an Ideal Spirit) are with us today to share a bit of their personal story and to tell us about their latest books. So, let’s get ready to meet the authors! ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author http://www.4writersandreaders.com

Welcome Richard and Mary Rensberry. It’s a pleasure to have you with us today. Tell us a little about your family life how it fits into your writing life.

Our lives have always been rooted deep in family. I was one of nine children born and raised on a farm in Northern Michigan.  I am an uncle, great uncle and great, great uncle many times over.  Mary was born and raised in Texas in the city and also on a ranch in the country. She is the mother of two morally sound and positive adult children.  Family values was one of the integral connections that brought Mary and I together. We now have three thriving grandchildren and can’t wait for more. Both of us believe that strong family values is one of the major driving forces in building strong and ethical communities. You will find strength of family inherently woven throughout our collaborative children’s books as well as our own individually authored books.

How long have you been writing and how do you work together OR do you?  

I (Richard) began writing at the age of twelve and had created my first poetry chapbook by the age of fourteen. Later in life my poetry appeared in small journals like the Midwest Poetry Review and Touchstone Press.  In 2013, Mary and I formed QuickTurtle Books®. We have since collaborated on writing and publishing several children’s books as well as offering editorial advice on each other’s independent works. Both of us value and respect each other’s critical input and helpful insight. Mary is definitely my muse and inspiration. For her, I am her editor and often times, color coordinator. She knows how to work the internet more than I and I know how the smaller parts fit into the whole, if that makes sense.

While we are both authors, passionate about writing, we draw from different backgrounds for the materials in our books. Mary’s background for years was teaching children and she tucked away her desire to write so that she could help others with the basics of learning. Her writing career began around 2009 with ideas of writing followed by a book self-published on Blurb entitled, Fowl Art in 2010 then Listen: Listen to YourSelf  in 2011. So Mary has been writing for a shorter length of time but is definitely just as passionate about the works we do not only together but on her own.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of the books we are featuring today? 

Mary’s current book, I AM SPIRIT, the ABCs of an Ideal Spirit, made its début the first of this year. It is about being “spirit-filled”and the capabilities and potentialities we all have as the divine lives within us. This was written on the heels of Christmas Christmas Everyday published in 2016 for children of all ages with the simple message that giving and sharing can be done each and every day of the year and not only during the Christmas season. Mary is actively following up the Everyday Series book with a children’s version of I AM SPIRIT for 6-9 year olds due to be out in less than a year.

Mary was prompted to write  I AM SPIRIT, a spiritual book with universal messages, due to the prevalent attitude in society that we are at the effect of life itself, that we are only a body. She adheres to the viewpoint that television and the media have capitalized on this erroneous idea of being a body with their prescription drug advertisements, sexual innuendoes & escapades, all materialistic in nature.

My brand new children’s picture book GOBLIN’S GOOP is a modern-day take on the Battle of Jericho. It is an environmentally friendly book swarming with bugs and goblins from the Evil Empire of Monsanto. Like most of our children’s books, GOBLIN’S GOOP, is thoughtfully illustrated and written in verse and rhyme. It is for children five years old and a bit older. Mary formulated the idea and I ran with it, being prompted by the GMO grains that have polluted our organic seed bank even here in the Amish Country. I guess I should add that adults should and could benefit greatly by reading it, too.

Can you give us a favorite line from each of the books? 

A favorite line from Mary’s book I AM SPIRIT, would be “I AM observant,”

This line is chosen out of the 26 simple messages because ‘LOOKING’ and being observant is a lost art in today’s world. People see what they want to see verses what is really out there in the environment. When you are able to really look and confront the environment, then that ’s when something can be done about it.

One of my favorite couplets from Goblin’s Goop, is “Crickets came screeching with fiddles and bows. Mosquitoes came blowing their notable nose.”

The rest of the book follows the same lively pattern and rhyme.

What’s the hardest part about writing?

The hardest part for Mary is writing words upon words. She likes a simple message as life  to her is simple and can be put down in simple language. Other than that…the hardest part about writing is the marketing aspect. It is difficult to get our books in front of enough people to create the effects we are trying to create. This interview is an opportunity and promotional avenue to help do so and we thank you, Bette and the readers, for the privilege to be here.

How can readers get copies of your books? 

Readers can find and get copies of all our books from Amazon by just typing one of our names into the search box. Links to our books are also available at:  http://richardrensberry.com and http://maryrensberry.wordpress.com. Autographed copies can also be ordered directly from us by contracting us at: maryandrichard@quickturtlebooks.com

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to new authors?

The best piece of advice we can give to new and unknown authors is to understand that writing is just a small part of being a successful author. We write for about three months out of the year and the remainder of the year is spent on the marketing and technical aspects of the business. Be prepared for not being well enough prepared to sell your books.

The best piece of advice Mary can give to new authors is don’t give up: Be persistent. Find out what you are passionate about and then find the audience for the topic being written about. Develop relationships with your family, friends, and those online, too.

What’s next on the agenda for authors Richard and Mary Rensberry?

I just completed my new adult travel book called CITY SLICKER’S GUIDE TO THE AMISH COUNTRY. It is a look into the nature and commerce of North Eastern Michigan’s Amish Country of Fairview, Comins and Mio, our home. I am currently at work on a new children’s book about the AuSable Railroad built and operated locally by a couple just down the road. I am seeking the help of a local illustrator to begin the project. We are also looking for someone to take over the marketing aspect of our projects.

What’s next for Mary is putting I AM SPIRIT into paperback and Kindle format while continuing with the children’s book on that subject. Look for our latest books at the beginning of 2018.

Richard and Mary, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better and to learn more about your writing and your books. It’s been a pleasure!

FIND THE BOOKS

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Author Spotlight—Meet Stephanie Collins


Happy Love Month! I can’t think of a better way of spreading love than by sharing my love of reading and writing with you.  So, today, I am sharing with you a fellow author, hard-working mother of four, loving wife, and the unsuspecting author of a true medical drama/unconventional love story called With Angel’s Wings.  Stephanie is a member of Rave Writers – International Society of Authors (RWISA). Join me in welcoming award-winning author Stephanie Collins and learn more about this amazing gal in our interview. ~Bette A. Stevens
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Stephanie Collins, author of award-winning memoir With Angel Wings

Welcome, Stephanie Collins. How long have you been writing?

I began writing therapeutically in 1996. It was sometime around 2010 when I started seriously considering turning those writings into a book.

How many books have you authored?

I never intended to be an author at all. As I said, I wrote therapeutically through some rough times in my life, and later turned that into my one and only book—With Angel’s Wings.

Do you have a writing schedule?

I’ve been asked a number of times to write a sequel. That project doesn’t feel right to me, so I “compromised,” and write a monthly blog that acts as something of a continuation to the book’s epilogue. Writing once a month feels like a comfortable pace. It’s fun, it’s therapeutic, and the length of time between posts gives me plenty of time to find a new, interesting subject matter to focus on.

You’re a member of RAVE WRITERS – INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS (RWISA). Why do you think you were accepted into this exclusive group?

I was accepted into RWISA because I didn’t have a lot to do with the writing process. I am in awe of REAL authors. I wrote a memoir. I didn’t have to come up with a plot or a storyline. I didn’t have to worry about character development or believable dialogue. Someone with a much higher pay grade (and apparently a rather twisted sense of humor) took care of all that for me. I just had to play my role, then honestly and accurately document what happened. Now, living it…THAT was a challenge. Writing it down was a relative walk in the park. Heck, I didn’t even have to have good grammar; I had a great editor for that!

Modesty aside, what separates your writing from the millions of other writers in the world?

In all seriousness, what sets our story apart is the story, itself; not my writing. It’s all about the content. I’m not the star of my book (as a character or as the author), it’s the circumstances I and the rest of my family faced. Having a compelling, intriguing and thought-provoking story that demonstrates humanity (at its best or worst…or, better yet, a little of both) and touches the reader’s heart—that’s what can make a story great. Like I said, I am in awe of fiction authors when they can create that for us readers. As an author I was “lucky” enough to have all of that taken care of for me. I guess you could say I had the best writer of all on my staff! I WILL take credit for finding a great editor before I ever shared our story with anyone. That’s advice I’ll give to EVERY author. Find. A. Good. Editor!

If you could spend a day picking the brain of one author, who would that be? Why?

There are a number of authors I’d love to sit and chat with. I’m a romance junkie, and something of a history buff, so I’d have a particularly great time talking with any historical romance author who has done extensive research. One that comes to mind (off the top of my head) is Pamela Clare, who wrote a historical romance trilogy that had to do with the origins of the US Rangers. The love stories were great, but I was fascinated by the history of the Rangers, and would love to chat further about all she learned in her research.

Are you a die-hard INDIE writer who loves having complete control of your work, or, if you were offered a publishing contract today, would you sign on the dotted line?

I’m a fan of being an indie author. I’m a bit of a control freak (and by “a bit” I mean JUST shy of obsessive/compulsive), so I guess it fits my personality. I started off with a small publisher (who was also my editor). We were a great team, I learned a lot from her, and was happy to begin my publication journey with her. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor about a year after we published, so she had to sell her business. The woman who bought the business was NOT at the same level as the woman she had bought the business from. To make a long story short, I fired her and went solo. I have LOVED being an indie author. I don’t know that I would have been so successful as an indie author without the lessons I learned from my publisher, so I’m thankful for that experience, but I can’t imagine ever accepting a publishing deal in the future.

As an author, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

In five years I hope to be pretty much where I am now as an author. I set out to educate people about some realities of special needs parenting. I think I’m rather successful in getting the message out there. If I’m still reaching new people in five years, I’ll be ecstatic.

What is the ONE tool that has been the most beneficial tool in the marketing of your books?

My marketing “plan” heavily relies on social media. It has been an AMAZING marketing tool…at JUST the right price! Twitter has been, by far, the most useful tool for me, but I try to keep up with multiple pages (mostly Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest).

Name one writer that you know of, member or non-member of RRBC, who you feel should be added to the RWISA Roster of elite members? Why?

I read Amie O’Brien’s “The Merchant’s Pearl” months ago, and I still find myself thinking about the story. It was a unique, memorable, and touching read. I can’t think of better qualifiers for mention, recognition, and addition to the RWISA library.

What is the one piece of advice that you could share that would be most valuable for those aspiring to not only be writers, but those aspiring to be great writers?

Write with your heart. If it doesn’t reach you it won’t reach your readers. Then find a good editor.

Do you believe that writers who churn out several books a year are really putting out quality work?

I’ve never paid too close attention to the publication dates of the series I’ve read (or multiple stand-alone books by a single author), so I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer that question. I’ve certainly read books that felt rushed (lack of editing, “shallow” plots, etc.), but I don’t know if that was due to rushing, neglect, or lack of writing talent (or some special combination of the three).

If you had promised your fans a book by a certain date only to find that your book wasn’t the best it could be, would you go ahead and publish your book just to meet that self-imposed deadline and deliver as promised, or, would you disappoint your fans and shelve the book until it was absolutely ready? No matter your reason, please explain why?

I wouldn’t want my name attached to anything that is less than the best I feel it can be. That has actually happened in the past, and I’m still horrified. I had my book translated to Spanish. It was a reputable agency and the translator had a good track record. The book was in Spanish, though, and I’m not fluent in Spanish. I just assumed it was fine and I published it. Not long after publication (and THANKFULLY before I made any sales) I had a friend from Madrid and another friend from Mexico City read a sample. Both women said it was a horrible translation. I immediately pulled the book off the market. After some legal intervention, the translation agency gave me the choice of a few new translators to re-translate the book. I chose a gentleman who I felt would do the best job. He finished the translation months ago, and—despite the fact both of the women who read samples from the previous translation have given it a thumb’s up, I hesitate to put it back on the market until I can find at least one more person to check it over.

In your opinion, what makes a book “a great book?”

A “great book” is one that the reader thoroughly enjoys reading. What might have been a “great book” to you last week might not be this week, because last week you were in a different mood. A book that you’re not enjoying today you may enjoy next month. There are things that, in my opinion, make books more difficult or frustrating to read (editing concerns, proofreading concerns, inconsistencies in the story, etc.), but I don’t think there’s anything specific that makes a story “great.” Reading is subjective—even to a single reader. I read “great books” as a kid that I’m sure I would roll my eyes through today, wondering what I was thinking to ever consider it a “great read.” So, I guess you could say what makes a book “great” is the perfect combination of content and current reader mindset.

If you received a review of your book which stated that there were editing & proofing “issues,” what’s the first thing you would do? And the second?

I have occasionally been alerted to typo’s in my book and I, of course, made the corrections as soon as I could. That process is much easier now that I’m independently published. With other issues mentioned, however, I carefully consider what is said. I recently received a review that suggested I get the book re-edited because the reader didn’t care for the amount of inner dialogue included. I respect and value the reader’s opinion, but I don’t think I will act upon that particular suggestion. I have received reviews that specifically commend the quality of editing, and others who specifically mention their appreciation for the inner dialogue. I think you have to balance out what is truly an editing issue and what is reader preference. Certainly, if you see a trend in reader feedback, you should seriously consider making adjustments. You can’t please everyone, though, so—to some extent—you have to follow your heart.

with-angel-wing-cover-for-rwisa-tourWhy You Need to Face Down the Fear of Publishing a Memoir by Stephanie Collins

In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There was suddenly an overabundance of OMG moments, WTH moments, and “Hold my head in my hands in utter disbelief while I try to just breathe through it” moments. I began writing therapeutically.

Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and urged me to share our story, insisting it would be helpful to other special needs families. I wanted to help others if I could, but my heart was laid bare over those pages, and I feared judgement—as a writer, as a woman, and scariest of all—as a mother. After years of similar feedback, however, I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and offer my exposed, bleeding soul to the world.

I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the generally supportive response from readers. Here is why I am thankful to have been talked into publication, and why others with important stories to share should work through whatever fears of judgement they may have: A mother in of a special needs, medically fragile toddler reached out to me via social media about 2 years ago. She said, “I recently stumbled upon your book. Reading it gave me hope that things will get better when hope is hard to come by. Also, before reading it, I never felt understood. I’ve ordered 3 more copies to give to family and friends. I’m hoping if they read about you, they’ll better understand me. Thank you so much!” Now, tell me; could there be any bigger reward for taking a leap of faith than that?

Find out more Stephanie Collins, take a look inside her award-winning memoir and follow her:

Thank you for supporting our RWISA (RAVE WRITERS-INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF AUTHORS) Members!  Please follow and support the entire tour by visiting 4WillsPub~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

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Meet #RRBC author Micki Peluso


Micki Peluso’s unique sense of humor sparkles like a fine gem even as she shares her journey through the tragic loss of her daughter in “And the Whippoorwill Sang,” a must-read memoir. ~ Bette A. Stevens, Maine author http://www.4writersandreaders.com

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MEET THE AUTHOR: Christina Steiner (children’s literature)


CHRISTINA STEINER author picChristina Steiner is an award-winning writer of two illustrated children’s books The Sad Tree and Pronuba and The Fantastic Travels of William and the Monarch Butterfly (Outskirts Press 2013, 2015). As a nature enthusiast, she likes to introduce children to the wonders of the living world around them. Steiner writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Other accomplishments include being featured in the Moorpark Review 2013, the West Winds Centennial, California Writers Club 100 year anthology in 2010, and an honorable mentioning in the 77th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition 2008.

Born and raised in Switzerland, Christina made Southern California her home and raised two daughters. When not writing or reading, she hikes with her dogs, rides her horse, makes wine with her partner and enjoys the beauty that nature offers.

It’s wonderful to have Christina Steiner with us today. I’ve fallen in love with both of her children’s books (outstanding children’s literature inspired by nature) and can’t wait to send copies to my youngest grandson to read and enjoy. Now it’s time to meet the author. Tell us more about yourself, Christina.

If I can be outdoors, I usually am. I prefer mountains to the ocean but living in California offers both. Nature in its bounty always amazes and enthralls me. A bad day gets whisked away after a walk on the beach or in the local hills.

How about your family?

My roots are in Switzerland. Growing up as the youngest of five, I learned from my siblings what was accepted and what not. Small town living has advantages and perils. Any misbehaving in the town usually reached my parent’s ear before I could make it home.

Living in America and raising my two daughters was different, everything seemed larger than life. I had the big advantage to live in a semi-rural area of Los Angeles at the time so I could instill the wonders of nature by exposing my children to the local wildlife and our domestic animals which included horses, sheep, goats, dogs, cats and even a llama. Now I live with my partner and four dogs in Ventura, California.

How long have you been writing and what type of writing do you normally do?

I always loved to write. My earliest competition was an essay for a newspaper in third grade. I did win second place. Later I wrote journals all through my teenage years which included poetry, at that time in German. My dream of writing my own book didn’t happen until much later when my children were grown. English became the language of choice as a writer. I joined local writing communities and profited a lot through critique groups and encouragements of follow writers. The dream became a passion.

SYNOPSIS OF BOOKS (Click cover images to find Christina’s books on Amazon  and take a look inside these beautifully written and illustrated children’s books.)

cover (1)The Sad Tree and Pronuba tells the story of the symbiotic relationship between the Joshua tree and the Pronuba moth.

The Fantastic Travels of William and the Monarch Butterfly is a chapter book. A North Dakota boy rides along with Anka, an eastern, fourth-generation Monarch butterfly to central Mexico and back. During the journey William learns the intricate life cycle of the Monarch butterfly, survival and friendship

What prompted you to write The Sad Tree and Pronuba

I visited the Mojave Desert and climbed Malapai Hill in Joshua Tree National Park. Fascinated by one of these strange Joshua trees, I wanted to know everything about them. The relationship of two different species, The Joshua tree and the Pronuba moth, show how exquisite and unique nature presents itself.

Favorite line: I must go—I’m so busy, I’ve got to blow. (Reminds me of our busy lives.)

Favorite character: Pronuba moth, she’s so upbeat and joyful.

William & the Monarch Butterfly CHRISTINA STEINERThe Fantastic Travels of William and the Monarch Butterfly was prompted by a suggestion from my partner. We live close to a grove that western Monarch butterflies choose for their winter quarters. Sadly the population of butterflies greatly diminished. After extensive research I decided to set the story for an eastern Monarch butterfly. For a small creature to fly the distance to the Oyamel fir forest and survive the winter in this unique environment to assure the continuation of the species is another example of the incredible natural world.

Favorite line: Anka speaking to William . . . “You and I share this world. We all have our purpose. I know mine from the get-go. You will have to figure yours out as you grow. But there is a reason why we’re here, why we’re alive.”

Favorite character: Anka, the Monarch butterfly. As she matures, she becomes incredibly sage.

What was the hardest part of writing your children’s books?

To write the stories so the readers, young or old, can see the grandeur of nature and be entertained while adhering to the facts.

Do you do anything in addition to writing books?

I assist my partner in making wine, two to four varietal per year. Together we take care of our dogs. In our household we have four large dogs, three champion Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Betsy, Harvard Girl and Boomer and Sentry, a 180 lbs. Hungarian Kuvasz. Every morning we take them to a leash-free park close by for training and exercise. Several times a week I ride my horse Xena, stabled in Moorpark. These outdoor activities balance out the time spent on the computer.

My two grandchildren, twins—a boy and a girl, spent most Sundays with me while my daughter is at work.

I attend a tutor-training workshop at the local library to become a volunteer tutor and help adults to achieve better reading and life skills.

My books are available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, outskirtspress.com and some local independent book stores.

What’s next for author Christina Steiner?

I finished a series of articles called Predators in the Backyard. Each talks about the intricate lives of insects or spiders commonly found in the backyard and the significance they have in mythology.

The first draft of a new novel is nearly completed. Untitled as of now. The middle-grade fiction deals with coming of age, loss, adjustment to inner city life and forming new friendships.

It’s been wonderful to have you with us today, Christina. I highly recommend both of your beautifully written and illustrated children’s books to our readers.

Visit author Christina Steiner and find out more about her books

Readers, thanks so much for visiting today. In invite you to join the conversation (comments below). Happy reading! ~ Bette A. Stevens 

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MEET THE AUTHOR: Ann Morris (author of bilingual children’s books)


Ann Morris (bilingual children's books author)

Ann Morris (bilingual children’s books author)

I met author Ann Morris on Facebook; and being a former ESL (English/Second Language) teacher in middle-school as well as a teacher to students from diverse cultures throughout the globe myself, I’ve had an active interest in following Ann. Today, I’m delighted to have Ann Morris join. She’ll  fill us in on a bit of her personal history and tell us about her latest book, Everything is Different. So let’s meet the author!

It’s wonderful to have you with us to day, Ann. To start off, tell us a little about yourself.

I am a small town Iowa girl (USA) and always have the mentality that I like to know people and try to make a difference in whatever I do. I was encouraged to write by my mom, who had always loved to write. She guided me with ideas, resources, and encouragement. My dad inspired me to appreciate the beauty in everything. I have learned from and continue to apply both lessons.

I was first published in a poetry magazine called Wee Wisdom when I was 10 and 12 years of age. I always enjoyed writing papers and essays.

In college at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, I had the opportunity to travel, study, and live in Pamplona, Spain. I was in Spain twice studying and living during those years, and it changed my life. I learned to see myself and my country from the outside in and experienced being a minority for the first time in my life. That was eye-opening and a valuable experience.

I taught High School Spanish for about 18 years of my adult life, including tutoring and adult education classes. I created the curriculum for an eight-week Spanish for the Workplace class that I taught for Iowa Workforce Development that was well received.

After teaching, I did some freelance translating for local businesses and began working for Iowa Workforce Development as the only bilingual advisor in the Unemployment Division. There was a lot of telephone one-on-one with Latinos from all over the country, and I learned many accents and localisms.

During this time, as well as teaching, I began to express many opinions about acceptance, diversity and inclusion, and education that were published as Letters to the Editor.

From teaching English to some young friends from Madrid in the summers and from working in the New Iowan Center, where I worked with people from all over the world seeking work and community resources to aid their employment and educational empowerment, I became interested in writing children’s books as a way to promote literacy for native speakers as well as for language learners.

How about your family?

My immediate family is local now, and all of my stories so far have featured experiences and/or characters from my family. This includes my extended family, which is spread across the globe.

How long have you been writing and what type of writing do you normally do?

I was encouraged to write by my mom, who had always loved to write. She guided me with ideas, resources, and encouragement. My dad inspired me to appreciate the beauty in everything. I have learned from and continue to apply both lessons.

I was first published in a poetry magazine called Wee Wisdom when I was 10 and 12 years of age. I always enjoyed writing papers and essays.

I now write children’s picture books in English and separately in Spanish. The stories are based on memories with a lesson. The teacher in me is alive and well! I also write posts for LinkedIn and other short pieces. I always have several projects in the works.

Can you give us a brief synopsis of your new book?

EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT by Ann MorrisTOTO ES DISTINTO by Ann MorrisEverything Is Different was inspired by a short trip taken to the Midlands in the UK for a daughter’s wedding. Through our sight-seeing and observations, I knew immediately that it was excellent material for a children’s book with an important message. Using my nephew Brett and brother-in-law Scott as the characters, Scott takes Brett with him on a brief business trip to the UK, specifically England.

Brett is amazed at how many things are different in a country that speaks the same language, and asks many point-blank questions as to why? His dad explains patiently why, and Brett continues to learn that different can be interesting, and it may not even be wrong. This is a message near and dear to my heart and especially relevant today and every day.

What prompted you to writeEverything Is Different‘?

Everything Is Different was inspired by a short trip taken to the Midlands in the UK for a daughter’s wedding. Through our sight-seeing and observations, I knew immediately that it was excellent material for a children’s book with an important message. It has received an amazing reaction from fellow children’s book writers and friends from the UK.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?

I have several favorite lines, of course.

One I like it: “Brett got quiet whenever he was thinking hard, and this trip was making him thing very hard.”

Another is short conversation between the two: “I have another surprise for you, Brett…We’re going to eat at a pub.” Brett’s response is priceless: “You’re going to take me to a bar?

The spoiler to it all is a response later by Brett’s dad: “You will learn that not everyone does things the same way we do. But if it works for them, that is what is important. Being different does not mean they are wrong.”

Who is your favorite character and why?

Oh, Bette! I can’t choose! They are both my favorites and for different reasons:

  • Brett is open and honest about his observations, as children are. He begins in the book by being startled and befuddled.
  • His dad is patient and ready to explain answers to Brett in a way that makes sense and puts things in perspective for a child. He is the key to Brett’s learning experience.

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

There honestly was no hard part in writing the book. Everything depicted in the book was experienced or observed, albeit from an adult perspective. It lent itself perfectly to a children’s story.

Do you do anything besides write?

Yes, I do. I share what I read with others on social media, in bookstores, at book and arts fairs, I make school visits, I speak at events, and I review other children’s books. I also do professional translating, including other children’s books.

Where can readers find your books?

Six book covers Etsy ANN MORRIS

Several local bookstores have my books on consignment, and several book websites have them available, too!

On my personal website, there are photos, examples of my other writing, information about me and a list of links where people can learn more about me and what I do.

What’s next for author Ann Morris?

I had another book ready to go, but I needed to write about my granddaughters first. There are so many stories and fun things we have done that this is going to really be a work of love…as they all are. I have a large collection of partially completed books that are merely awaiting their turns…There will be more from me!

Find out more about Ann Morris

Ann, it’s been wonderful having you with us today. And readers, thanks so much for stopping by to meet Ann Morris. Ann and I look forward to chatting with you (comments below)! ~ Bette A. Stevens

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MEET THE AUTHOR: Mary McLeary


Mary McLeary is the author of two Christian inspirational/devotional books.  Heart Whispers from the Old Testament is her latest—it’s great to have Mary with us today to tell us all about it.

Mary McLeary PICHi, Mary. Welcome to 4writersandreaders. I’ve just downloaded your latest book to my kindle and look forward to having some fresh inspirational readings on hand when I’m on the go. Can’t wait to find out more about you and your writing. First, tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in a family that loved music and good stories. We listened to my folks play music from the 1940’s and share stories of friends and family. From them we learned there is a lesson in everyone’s life. Some lessons teach you what to do and some teach you what not to do.

When I was in third or fourth grade, my most exciting adventures happened on summer afternoons in our local library. The children’s section contained all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books plus the classics that drew me into the author’s vision.

I grew up, married the love of my life, had three children, and taught school until a few years ago when I retired and began writing.

I live in Tennessee with my husband. Our daughters and their families are near so we can have frequent visits with our five grandchildren.

How long have you been writing and what type of writing do you normally do?  

I have been writing for over twenty-five years. About six years ago I began blogging. My genre is nonfiction/inspirational.

Can you give us a synopsis of “Heart Whispers from the Old Testament”?

Heart Whispers from the Old TestamentThe world has always been a hot mess, but God helps us if we will listen. Heart Whispers from the Old Testament, is a devotional book that gives readers a glimpses of people in desperate need of a Savior and then reflects biblical wisdom along with thoughtful entries from the prayer journals of the author’s mother.

What prompted you to write Heart Whispers from the Old Testament?

The Christmas before my mother passed away, she gifted me her prayer journals which were rich with her thoughts and observations written during her daily prayer and Bible study. They needed to be shared so I started a blog that lead to my first book, In My Mother’s Words. While doing a Twitter interview I was asked if I had any other projects in mind.

Until she asked, I had none. But I automatically said, “Yes, I’m going to write a devotional book and end each daily entry with a quote from Mother’s journal.” Heart Whispers from the Old Testament is that book.

Do you have a favorite line from the book?

Heart Whispers from the Old Testament is a devotional and all the scriptures, obviously, come from the Old Testament. After the book was completed, I realized I spent way too much time worrying about things I could do nothing about.

So my favorite quote is from Isaiah 41:10 along with this observation, “An antonym for fear is courage, and an antonym for dismayed is comforted. God doesn’t want us to be fearful or dismayed. He wants us to be courageous and comforted because He will be our help in every situation.”

What was the hardest part about writing your book?

The writing was going well. I was getting two or three entries done a day and saving them. One day I went back in and a big section wasn’t in my hard drive. My computer doctor found a virus that took what I thought I saved. I lost a lot of work, but actually wound up going a whole other direction with the book and what was a pain turned into a blessing.

Do you do anything besides write?

Heart Whispers from the Old Testament and my first book In My Mother’s Words took quite a bit of time, but there are many other things going on too. My husband and I love to travel and take frequent trips. Our latest was with long-time friends to Marathon, Florida in the Keys. While there, we visited Hemingway’s home in Key West.

Our children and grandchildren live close enough to attend their activities which we enjoy.

We are avid football fans. Our son-in-law is the head football coach at a local high school and my husband played for the University of Tennessee in “the day.” So fall weekends are pretty full.

We love being part of a church that constantly provides opportunities to go into the world and help others. For several years I tutored young adults preparing to take the GED.

I belong to two book clubs that challenge me to continue reading good books, and I love my card group.

I am grateful that I have plenty to do.

What’s next for author Mary McLeary?

Well, Mother’s prayer journals are full of more wisdom, and I enjoy studying the Bible so another devotional is probable. I also have a story that needs to be told, and when I figure out how to tell it, I’ll start writing my first fiction book based on that story.

Mary, it’s been great having you on my blog today. I look forward to delving into your  latest devotional book and can’t wait to find out more about your upcoming novel.

Find out more about Mary McLeary and her books

In My Mothers Words MARY MCLEARYHeart Whispers from the Old Testament

 

 

 

Readers, thanks so much for stopping by for a visit. Mary and I would love to hear from you.
Have a great day and Happy Reading, all!
~ Bette A. Stevens

 [Bette’s Blog]

Aside

FOLLOW THE TOUR: It’s Milele Safari by Jan Hawke


Author Jan Hawke is on tour with her novel Milele Safari and she’s stopped by to tell us a bit about her book today. Hawke has included a fascinating excerpt from her novel as well. Welcome to 4writersandreaders, Jan.  The page is yours and we’re looking forward to finding out more about you and Milele Safari, An Eternal Journey.

Part 5 – Zimbabwe

kariba photo for Jan HawkeIt’s almost a fairy tale really. Regrettably it’s mostly a Grimm one in terms of extremes of human rights, white on black and vice versa, black on black, economic, political affiliations—you name it, Zimbabwe’s most likely had a problem with it, or will have. From a safari point of view however, Zimbabwe’s almost peerless. A pearl of a tourist destination, even though it’s land-locked. Actually, scrap that— it doesn’t matter that it has no coastline, because Zimbabwe has the Zambezi and its ‘baby’ Lake Kariba. My third safari trip was to Zimbabwe and, a year after our hairy Tanzanian adventure, it was one that I had reservations with, which were more or less evaporated on starting out at Lake Kariba with our own private game guide. Harry Burton isn’t entirely based on that engaging young man, his backstory is an amalgam of several safari guides we met, as are his experiences, but the ethos for ‘high end’ quality safaris is right up there with only the decade being totally different. Our Zimbabwe holidays took place at the start of the 1990s ten years after the civil war ended and while there was still a reasonable amount of interracial amity about, before the program of white evictions began. To this day the safari trade still goes on regardless so ‘my’ Zimbabwe is still there, although some of the National Parks, like Gonarezhou remain mostly off the main tourist track (in the late 1980’s and 90’s it was still heavily mined and definitely a no-go area). Zimbabwe and its wildlife is truly beautiful though, and Harry’s Africa really needs no further embellishment from me in here. Lake Kariba remains high on the list of places I love most in this world and, if you’re prepared to live with the political exigencies and are careful who you travel with, I’d definitely recommend the country as one of those places to see before you die. From a wildlife perspective it’s still ‘last chance to see’ territory, as it’s one of the few countries to have black and white rhino in any significant numbers and, like other parts of southern Africa, it is enjoying some notable success with sustainable eco-tourism involving the indigenous people, and in running limited licensed hunting franchises to support conservation areas. Long may that continue…

Book Cover Meille Safari Milele Safari back blurb—Milele Safari – An Eternal Journey …twines around a single day, in an unremarkable border village that snuffs out the lives of four people and shatters many others, only to draw the survivors back to a different time and, perhaps, a hope of atonement and peace. Step out on the journey and discover an Africa that could have been, is and might one day come to be.

Excerpt from Trophies

It was money for old rope almost and the client paid through the nose for literally everything – the pro hunter’s fee being almost the least of it. Silly prices, and paid at source, where it did most good and everyone, including the precious animals, benefitted in some way. Gun hunting was just not something he enjoyed doing anymore, however great it was for easy money. It was too crude and if the client was a bad shot it could get very distressing, especially if they didn’t miss but botched the shot and hit a non-fatal area… … He was swearing under his breath as he tried to balance himself to take yet another shot at this bloody buff. Bloody client more like! Big Mr. ‘I am’, and he was ‘gonna git himself one of them big motherfuckin’ Cape bufferloes’… Flaming idiot! He should have listened to his instincts and refused to go out with Marjulies today – the amount the man’d put away last night it was a wonder he made it to lunch, let alone breakfast, but there were only two full days left of their stay here and the old dugga bull they’d found down by the river should’ve been feeling sluggish so late in the day… … ‘Shit!’  The blasted animal had literally charged and nutted the tree trunk so hard he’d nearly fallen out and his shot had missed by miles. Harry reloaded quickly, his face grim. He’d have to chance it and get back on the ground because he sure as hell wasn’t going to get a good killing shot in sitting up in a tree bole with this useless clot of a client, who’d managed to drop his weapon even before they’d both had to take shelter from the maddened buff in this ruddy tree.  He looked up at Marjulies, who was rustling the leaves on the next branch up he was so shit-scared.  ‘Stay put and try to be quiet – I’ll have to get down if it backs off again.’ Dear God, the man was actually crying now… ‘I mean it! Stay there.’ The old bull was puffing and blowing again. This one wasn’t going to let things lie and not because by rights it should be lying dead several yards off. All they’d done so far was get it so pumped up with adrenalin it was literally running on spite now. It had moved off a little at last, but was still glaring up at them in the tree. Harry raised his rifle and used the telescopic sight to assess the damage he’d inflicted so far. Despite himself he was impressed – there was blood everywhere down the forequarters, so he’d got it in the chest at least once and judging from the way it was spurting blood he’d hit a major vein, if not the heart. That was buffs for you – mean as hell and long on retribution. This old boy wasn’t too far past his prime either. He’d hate to meet up with the new guy who kicked him out – must’ve been bloody monstrous. Very, very slowly he put his weight on the right leg and slid his left down and behind the trunk until his foot rested on the stub of an old branch, still looking at the bull. Finally it turned away and trotted off for fifty yards or so, breathing hard now. He only needed those few moments to drop lightly to the ground with most of his body hidden by the tree trunk. The buff had stopped, its chest heaving with the effort of its final strength, but it looked back at them, angling around so he had a choice of a head shot or one more to the chest. He had four shots and those should do it he thought as he raised the Browning. ‘Burton! Behind us!’ Marjulies hissed at him loud enough for the buff to bellow out its anger and turn full on again. Harry slewed his head towards the slight movements from nearby mopane brush in time to see a battery bird fly away.  ‘Shut the fuck up!’ he growled viciously as he swung back and revised the low shot he’d contemplated in favour of the head. The wounded buffalo snorted aggressively and its muscles bunched in obedience to its final crack at vengeance.  Hold tight Harry… Keep your focus… but this had gone beyond rationality now. He let off two shots in quick succession and still it came, even though both times he saw skin and blood flying away and the white of bone between the buff’s eyes. Another shot, another hit, into the eye itself this time and at last it stumbled as he began to lower the Browning. There was a scream above him from Marjulies that joined the echoing gunshots reverberating in his ears as, unbelievably, the animal heaved itself back into the charge. Harry inhaled and held it in a mixture of fury and fear as he took careful aim with his last shot, knowing he’d need to be bloody lucky to have time to reload if it didn’t go down this time. Wait. Wait. Make it count. Let it get close. He fired. He breathed out and stood his ground as the old buffalo finally crumpled forwards onto its knees and slowly fell onto its side as the rear legs splayed and faltered and then were still. It was about two yards away from him. He could smell its blood and sweat, saw the ever-present flies rise up with a buzz, then fall back onto its face, feasting on fresh blood and brains. His legs were shaking now and he breathed in sharply, squatted down on his haunches and bowed his head, trying not to throw up. ‘Why’d ya shoot the bastid inna head! Ya could’ve spoilt ma trophy!’  The punch he landed on Marjulies’ ugly yellow mug smashed his nose almost to a right angle. It was worth breaking two of his own fingers and the mocking laughter back at the Lodge when the trackers asked him which one of them had really shot the buff’s tail off… ‘First rule in the Pro Hunter’s manual – follow up the client’s shot PDQ and be prepared to say yours was the one that missed, if you want your tip.’

Other Zimbabwean chapters

Perfect Day – Harry hosts a full day’s game excursion by boat and open land cruiser to view bathing elephants, threatened rhino, buffalo, not to mention a wealth of birdlife and crocodiles. The Gathering of Water – the group are dropped off at the lake and dam where they hear the strange tale, half myth, half mystery of Nyaminyami, the Spirit Guardian of the Zambezi and meet Harry’s nephew, Luey who explains the legend more prosaically.

MEET THE AUTHOR: Jan Hawke

Jan Hawke picI live near Launceston in Cornwall, UK with Toby and Benji the Springer Spaniels – it’s a tie between us all as to who’s maddest, but as I outrank them in being weird anyway it’s not open to debate really. I’m physically lazy with things that don’t hold much interest for me (so that’s mostly housework and, increasingly, cooking…), but I love where we live, mainly because I chose it for being so quiet and off the beaten track, very close to the moors and quite near to the sea. I also love books, both to write and to read, the latter of which can be very eclectic (I enjoy Julian Barnes, Kate Atkinson, Jeanette Winterson and will happily admit to Jilly Cooper too) but in the main I’m heavily into SF&F, particularly Tolkien, Terry Pratchett and Julian May, although I can pass on Zombie Apocalypses fairly easily… …how I’ve chosen to write about Africa for my first novel may be something of a surprise to my friends, but if you read it you may find that all of the above information manifests in there somehow! Future projects include a futuristic fantasy series, loosely grounded in Celtic myth – The Shadow Chronica (http://havenlands.blogspot.co.uk/), which is kind of stalled at present, but I’ll be dusting it off as summer gets in full flood with the first novel hopefully available at the tail end of 2016.

4WillsPublishing Link: JAN HAWKE’S AUTHOR EVENT Come follow the tour!http://4wills-hawke.chatovod.com/

“This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.”

banner 4WillsPublishing Thanks for stopping by, friends. Jan and I would love to hear from you (comments below). Milele Safari is now on my TBR list and I’m definitely looking forward to the read. ~ Bette A. Stevens at http://www.4writersandreaders.com

[Back to Bette’s Blog]

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