Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Judy Mastrangelo, @JMastrangeloArt

Hello everyone! This week, I’m thrilled to introduce you to an award-winning illustrator and author: Judy Mastrangelo. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE, which she did.

I’ve recently read and highly recommend Judy’s book, “Mystical Fairies.” You can read my review HERE. The illustrations and poetry transported me to another land.

Please meet my guest author, Judy Mastrangelo.

Judy Mastrangelo

Most of my life I’ve been drawing and painting in all genres, from Realism, to Impressionism and Abstractionism. I paint a wide variety of subjects, but various forms of Fantasy have always been the closest to my heart. This includes my Fairy Tales, Myths, and New Age Art.

All of Nature is alive to me, and I try to show this in my paintings. I love the Greek and Roman Myths in which they personify Spirits of Nature, and so I enjoy painting Deities of Trees, Water, Earth, Air, Gods and Goddesses, etc.

I have always been inspired by great artists throughout history and regard them as my teachers. Some of my favorites are those of the Italian Renaissance, the Pre- Raphealites (I like John W. Waterhouse the most), and the Hudson River School of Landscape Painters.

Maxfield Parrish is my favorite illustrator, and I feel that Sir Joseph Noel Paton is one of the greatest Fairy Artists. In my small way, I also enjoy continuing in the tradition of Beatrix Potter with her little animal people, and Cicely M. Barker with her lovely Flower Fairies.

I live happily with my Soul Mate and Husband Michael, a true Renaissance Man, who is a great inspiration to me. We live in a timeless Land of old-fashioned houses and gardens on the edge of a Mystic Woods, with trees that Arthur Rackham would have loved to paint.

I’ve taught Art, Modern Dance and Classical Ballet, and Drama to adults and children. I also created a Community Theatre Group, presenting classical literature, including Fairy Tales and Shakespeare, on stage. I have decided not to teach anymore and to devote myself solely to my Art Work. I always have been fascinated with the gracefulness of dancers and often ask them to be models for my paintings.

My Art has been licensed in many fields, such as for prints and posters, wall coverings, puzzles, calendars, greeting cards, and embroidery kits, etc.

I’ve illustrated several children’s books, including “Antique Fairy Tales”, “The Sandman and Other Sleepy Time Rhymes”, “Tales of Shakespeare”, and “Pollyanna.”

I both wrote and illustrated my book “What Do Bunnies Do All Day?”, published by Ideals. Currently, I am writing and illustrating several new books on Fairies, Elves, Angels, etc.

I daydream about my paintings for a while before putting them on canvas. This preliminary technique of “Mind Painting” helps me to develop an imaginative work of art.

Judy Mastrangelo – Amazon Author Page

Hi, Judy! Thanks for coming by to share your lovely fairy illustrations and books with us!

Hello. Thanks for the invite. I’m glad to be here.

Your book covers are works of art! What did you want to become when you were a child?

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a graphic artist.  The world was a magical and inspiring place for me then, and it still remains so now that I’m an adult. I wanted to paint the lovely faces I saw in flowers, the sparkling morning dew in the grass, and clouds reflecting the glorious colors of twilight. 

Animals have always had fascinating and unique personalities to me. And within my colorful imagination, my fellow humans seemed to evolve into gods, goddesses, and any number of otherworldly spirits.  So in a few words, the World was and still is my inspiration for my imaginative fantasy artwork that I love to depict in my paintings.

Even as a youngster, I would develop my art first in my mind as a picture rather than doing preliminary sketches.  Later on, as a grownup, I came to term this method “MIND PAINTING”. 

I always have an idea of what I want to create before I begin a project.  I use my method of “MIND PAINTING” in which I conceive of ideas and accompanying paintings in my mind as one total vision before I start.  It’s an exciting way to create, and I’m sure many other authors and Illustrators do the same. 

Another term that can be used for this method would be “inspiration”.  I don’t really labor over trying to think of an idea.  Concepts just come to me as “Visions”, and I dearly welcome them all gratefully.

What I wanted to become when I was a girl was a “Painter of Visions and Words”, and that is still my goal.  It is my spiritual passion. 

VIEW Judy Mastrangelo’s Portfolio

As I “daydream” about my “Visions” that I want to put on canvas, I often create words to go hand in hand with these images.  The creation of this form of “mixed media art” has been a great delight for me throughout my lifetime.  It has developed into books that I both write and illustrate, combining my love for the visual images, and the written word. 

I find the mixture of words and images very exciting. 

I suppose it harkens back to our experiences when we were young and the wonderful feelings we first had when visiting the Magical Land of Books.  It is similar to watching a movie that we love.  And yet reading a book is different in that we can add our own personal images and feelings to it in addition to the accompanying illustrations in a book or film. 

Entering into the exciting world of literature is a wonderful escape from our everyday world.  It gives us the opportunity to experience many adventures and to identify with various characters, which we wouldn’t normally have to the opportunity to do.  This art form is very fulfilling, as is all art in general.

Judy, where do you find your inspiration?

I love many forms of the Fine Arts, which constantly give me great inspiration.  These include music, dance, drama, literature, and painting.  I deeply feel that the great Artists of the past and present are wonderful beacons of light to Humankind to help guide us in striving toward our greatest potentials. 

I feel mostly inspired by the realm of Fantasy Art, in particular the world of Elves, Fairies, and a myriad of Nature Spirits.  All of Nature itself is “alive” to me, and I feel its “Soul” everywhere: within the Trees, Flowers, Mountains, Clouds, and Animals.  I am constantly amazed by the Beauty and Spirituality of the World around me, and I yearn to depict it in my Art.

Can you tell us about your current projects?

I’m currently working on an original Fairy Tale involving one of my favorite themes: the World of Elves and Fairies.  It’s a fantasy story about many Magical creatures, such as personified and whimsical little animals that I’m also very fond of depicting.  It’s a joy to illustrate this tale with colorful and imaginative paintings. 

 I’ve always had a deep love for the great Artists of the “GOLDEN AGE OF ILLUSTRATION”, who were at their height from 1850 to 1925, such as Maxfield Parrish, N. C. Wyeth, Beatrix Potter, and Cecily Mary Barker etc. 

They were classically trained, had tremendous skill, and their artwork still is extremely appealing to all ages today.  I’ve always been influenced by this type of artwork, and try to follow in the best way I can, to develop along the same lines. I have a tremendous desire to carry on in their genre.

I too have studied fine art techniques from the great Masters of the past such as these talented artists did, and I try my best to develop paintings that are well done.  I do appreciate the art of cartooning, which I know many children’s book illustrations are today.  But I’ve chosen to continue following in the steps of the great Golden Age Illustrators, since I love it so much, and prefer that style over others for myself. 

I feel a tremendous attachment to these classic children’s book illustrators.  It’s as if I am part of their circle – that I knew them personally and lived in their era, even though I live in a later age.  Their art is eternal, and I study it often.

I know my artwork is different from many of these Artists of the Golden Age.  One of my favorites is Maxfield Parrish.  But I know that my paintings are of a “softer and more feminine” style than his. 

My work has been described as both “sweet and childlike”, and that I excel in painting “lovely children and adorable animals.”  I’m always honored when I receive this type of compliment. When people say this about my work, I feel successful in my intentions.  We all have our own niche that we try to find, and I feel very comfortable in mine.

I also have a deep love for classic children’s book design. And so I enjoy designing my books with decorative borders etc., in order to make it appear like an “old-fashioned storybook”. 

I’m also very excited to have been given the opportunity to both write the text, and illustrate my own original “Inspirational Oracle Card Deck.” 

This is a set of 50 cards with my Artwork, plus a Guidebook which will be published by “RED FEATHER MIND BODY SPIRIT”, a division of Schiffer Publishing company.  I’m having a wonderful time writing the text for it as well.  It will be on the market in 2020.

I can’t wait to see your Oracle deck, Judy! Tell us a little about your current books.

I have quite a few books in paperback on the market now, and Kindle ebooks. They are published by “Imagination Books,” a division of “Dusty Saddle Publishing.” 

I’m developing a series I call “Come Play With Me” books.  The first book in this series is called, THE STAR, which illustrates the entire famous TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR poem, written by Jane Taylor.

In it, I’ve depicted her delightful poem in paintings as a fantasy adventure full of imaginary characters.  These include a whimsical Man in the Moon, and Little Twinkle Star, plus some sweet costumed animals, all playing in a dreamy starlit sky.

Two other books in this series center around a little bunny: The first one, entitled WHAT DO BUNNIES DO ALL DAY? is my original story of a young bunny’s first adventure in his quest to discover the world around him. 

I’ve also done a companion book called LEARN TO DRAW BUNNY AND HIS FRIENDS. In this book, I show easy and fun ways to learn to draw Little Bunny’s Animal and Flower Friends that he met in my story about his adventure.

My “Come Play With Me” paperback book series gives readers illustrated storybooks in full color, plus some delightful interactive bonus pages.  They include fun-filled things, such as How to Draw pages, coloring pages, and recipes, etc. 

I’m also excited that my two books are coming out in a new format. “THE STAR”, and “What Do Bunnies Do All Day?” can now be listened to and enjoyed as stand-alone audiobooks.

In THE STAR audiobook, the song “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is beautifully sung by “The Fairy Queen,” and my Bunny Book is also narrated in a lovely delightful way.

They are also available as Ebooks in Kindle and as paperback books.  It will be fun listening to the audiobooks and reading the Kindle ebooks or paperbacks at the same time.

Now, people can enjoy these books together for the full audio-visual experience!  I think the concept of an audiobook makes the story really come alive, and will draw people into it, as well as looking at the accompanying illustrations. 

How to connect with the author

Blog www.judymastrangelo.com

Twitter @JMastrangeloArt

Facebook Author Page at Judy Mastrangelo: https://www.facebook.com/judy.mastrangelo.9

Amazon Author Page USA: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001KI3S1Y

Amazon Author Page UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/l/B001KI3S1Y?

Dusty Saddle Publishing: http://www.dspublishingnetwork.com/imagination-books/

Thank you for stopping by to meet Judy Mastrangelo. Remember, books make for good retail therapy!

Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Darlene Foster, @supermegawoman

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my favorite award-winning children’s authors, Darlene Foster. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. This is Darlene’s second visit to my blog. We had so much fun last time, she couldn’t wait to stop around again!

Darlene Foster writes the kind of children’s books that I would have loved to read as a child. Pull up a seat and stay awhile. Let’s talk writing!

Darlene Foster and “Amanda in Holland”

Darlene Foster is a writer, an employment counsellor, an ESL tutor for children, a wife, mother and grandmother. She loves travel, shoes, cooking, reading, sewing, chocolate, music, the beach and making new friends. Her 13-year-old grandson called her “super-mega-woman-supreme.”

She was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She currently divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca in Spain, with her husband Paul.

“Amanda in Arabia-The Perfume Flask” was her first published novel. Once bitten by the travel bug, Amanda travels to other interesting places, sticking her nose in other people’s problems and getting herself in trouble.

Read “Amanda in Spain – The Girl in the Painting”, “Amanda in England – The Missing Novel”, “Amanda in Alberta – The Writing on the Stone”, and “Amanda on the Danube – The Sounds of Music” to find out the adventures Amanda has as she travels the world.

Amazon Author Page

What kind of research do you do for a children’s book, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do a lot of research for each book. I start my research during my visit to the country the story will eventually take place in. While there, I take many pictures and make copious notes, as well as collect brochures and articles of interest. I also talk to local people, taste local food and attend cultural events if possible to get the feel of the country.

Once home, I start writing the story and research as I go along. I use the information I gathered as well as check facts on the internet using several sources to be sure I get it right.

For instance, while working on Amanda in Holland, I found some YouTube videos on making wooden shoes which were very helpful when describing the process. If the writing is going well and I don’t want to stop to do research, I highlight the area and go back to it later. I do more fact-checking and research during the revision process.

I enjoy doing research and learn a lot in the process. I have to be careful that I don’t get carried away with my research as young readers don’t want too much detail.

Do all authors have to be grammar Nazis?

You don’t have to be a grammar Nazi to be a successful author, but you need to know some. I have grammar Nazis on my team and they find many things I miss.

You need more than one, as different people find different things. Some are good at finding missing or misplaced punctuation while others find spelling mistakes, sentence structure issues or tense changes etc. It is also worth hiring a professional editor, even if your grammar is quite good. A writer gets too close to the story to find mistakes. Those mistakes can be distracting and take the reader out of the story.

What do you think about the idea that people think being a published author is glamorous? How has that worked out for you?

I don’t believe being a published author is glamorous but it certainly is rewarding. One of my favourite things to do as an author is to visit schools where I read from my books and talk about writing.

I recently visited some schools in Canada. When I walked into one grade four class, a young man shouted, “She’s here! She’s here! I can’t believe she’s here!” For a moment I felt like I a rock star.

Most established writers I meet are very down-to-earth people. I recently chatted with Diana Gabaldon, author of the widely popular Outlander series, at a writer’s conference. I found her to be very pleasant and unpretentious. I just don’t think glamorous describes an author.

What does the word ‘retirement’ mean to you? Do writers ever retire?

Five years ago I retired from my day job so I could write more. I wrote the first four books in the Amanda Travels series while I was working full time and it was difficult. Having said that, I don’t feel I have much more time to write than when I worked!

The difference is I am in charge of my own time. I have managed to write and publish three more books since I “retired” and have the first draft of anther completed.

I don’t think writers ever retire. We are always on the lookout for ideas whether at home, walking the dog, socializing with friends or on holidays. I recently went on a book tour in Canada, promoting my latest release, Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action. I visited many schools, libraries, book stores and cafes. It was fun but exhausting. So much for being retired!

I follow your travels on Facebook, Darlene. You’re amazing. Please share your current projects.

Amanda continues to travel. Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action has just been released. In this book, intrepid traveller Amanda Ross is in Holland to see the tulips with her best friend, Leah. They travel the canals of Amsterdam, visit Anne Frank House, check out windmills, tour a wooden shoe factory, and take pictures of the amazing flowers of Keukenhof Gardens.  But, things are missing in Holland – rare tulip bulbs, a gardener, a home for an abandoned puppy and Amanda’s great-uncle who didn’t return from the war. Is Amanda capable of finding these missing things without putting herself in danger?

The first draft of book number eight, Amanda in Malta – The Sleeping Lady is completed and I’m about to start the first revision. Amanda’s best friend, Leah, is in trouble, in Malta. Amanda rushes to her aid, not knowing what she will encounter in this ancient and mysterious island country.

Ideas for other Amanda Travels adventures are bouncing around in my head. One reader asked me during a recent school visit, “How long do you plan on writing these books?” I answered without hesitating, “Until I die.” Or at least until I run out of steam.

Thanks so much for once again featuring me and Amanda on your wonderful blog.

How to Connect with Darlene Foster

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

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/supermegawoman

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/darlene6490/

Website: http://www.darlenefoster.ca/

Blog: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3156908.Darlene_Foster

Thank you for stopping by to meet Darlene Foster!

Conversations with Colleen: Meet Author, Eloise De Sousa, @mello_ello

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”

– JM Barrie, Peter Pan

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you one of my favorite children’s authors, Eloise De Sousa. I asked her to pick a few questions from my huge list HERE, so we could get to know her better.

The saying goes that children are our future and we should all encourage children to read and write. As a teacher, Eloise does that and more.

Eloise De Sousa in her favorite spot – reading to children

Please meet poet and multi-talented adult and children’s author, Eloise De Sousa.

Eloise De Sousa is a crime fiction writer with a penchant for penning poems and children’s stories.

Free to write about the dreams that keep me up at night, I sit at my computer some days, contemplating murder. Of course, there are moments of passion and adventure.

When I’m not in my bat cave creating new worlds, I transform into a mother of four rather large sprogs, four cats and a dog called Henry. If you don’t find me out in the forest walking the sprogs and the dog, or bent over at awkward angles photographing nature, you’ll find me tapping away at my keyboard coming up with my next nutty adventure.

E. De Sousa Author

Hello, Eloise. I’m so glad you stopped by for a chat. As a blossoming author, what does literary success look like to you?

When I look at the authors who have sky-rocketed to fame, my introvert self cringes and wants to run and hide. That sort of fame is definitely not what I am looking for, although I am aware that it is part and parcel of becoming a well read author.

Literary success is knowing that your reader has enjoyed your book and asks questions about the characters, where the plot could go in the sequel (even if there isn’t one) and how they pictured the character in the book.

I love the narrative driven by a good story and I hope that all my books have that special mix to encourage discussions about future stories. That is what literary success looks like to me: no bells and whistles but just pure enjoyment of those words on paper.

We’re going on a trip in Big Ox’s canoe. Watch the fire bears roar on Venus as pepper pot trees grow on the moon. As Big Ox steers us to the planets, Little One wonders if Mum will come home soon.

What makes this particular genre you are involved in so special?

Writing for children is an opportunity to involve moot subjects in our society’s culture, subjects that may not be openly discussed yet affect children in numerous ways. When I write stories for my young audience, I choose those subjects and implicitly tackle the social stereo types, making my characters act out their conflict and giving my readers a chance to figure out a way forward. Their take away from my stories would be an element of a moral code for the children to follow.

I think the influence of writing in this genre includes a responsibility to ensure that the moral code is implicitly in place with characters that can question the code, giving children the opportunity to explore their own self doubt and insecurities.

Children’s books by Eloise De Sousa: Amazon Author Page

Your children’s books always touch my heart. What inspires you to write?

The short answer to this is my love of story-telling. The long, boring answer is me telling you about my lonely childhood filled with books that sent me away to foreign places where I could be whatever I wanted and not have a care in the world.

Having the ability to share that same love of stories with others is something I cherish. Whether it’s writing for adults or children, creating a world of passion, suspense, or adventure where a reader can lose themselves for a few hours is my greatest wish. I can’t imagine a world without books and if I can contribute to that world, how lucky am I?

Thank you, Colleen, for inviting me to your blog and giving me an opportunity to chat with you.

It was a great pleasure to introduce your books to my readers, Eloise.

Check out my review of “Space Dust,” HERE.

Here’s Where You Can Find Eloise De Sousa

Blog: E. De Sousa, Author

Facebook Author Page: Eloise De Sousa’s Book Corner @eloisebookcorner

Twitter: Eloise De Sousa @mello_ello

Christmas is coming! It’s never too early to buy books for your children or grandchildren. ❤

Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Victoria Zigler

Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you an amazing author, Victoria (Tori) Zigler. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions. 

Tori is visually impaired but that didn’t stop her determination to write. When I searched Amazon for her books there was a large selection of poetry and children’s books, available in multiple formats from a variety of online retailers. Her creativity will inspire you!

I schedule many of these posts far in advance, so to keep you in the loop, Tori notified me that she is under the weather and will respond to comments as soon as she can. I’m sending lots of healing energy her way! ❤

First, please meet my guest, Tori Zigler.

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’swandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.
 
To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple ebook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Victoria’s Page: http://www.zigler.co.uk/victoria.htm

Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. 

Hi Tori. I’m glad you’re here. You’ve published a ton of books. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I ever spent as a writer has to be the money I spent on my computer chair.

It might sound strange to care so much about my chair; especially to anyone reading this who doesn’t work at a computer.  But a good quality chair is worth paying out for if you’re a writer. In fact, if you do any job that has you sitting down at the computer a lot.

Though I regularly get up to stretch my legs, play with the dog, or do something else for a bit, I spend a large amount of my day at the computer.  Having a good quality chair to sit on is a must if I want to avoid back pain.  If you don’t have one, I suggest you do something about that.  Your back will thank you for it! I know mine has been grateful since I invested in a good quality chair.

Tori, I know you’re an animal lover. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I have two actual spirit animals, who found me when I took my first steps on to my spiritual path in my late teens.  One is an owl, and the other is a tiger.  But I don’t use either of them for my writing mascot, or even talk about them to others much. In fact, I think this might be the first time I’ve mentioned them to anyone – besides my hubby – outside of groups specifically for those kinds of discussions.  It’s definitely the first time I’ve mentioned them in an author interview, that’s for sure.

Read about Tori’s spirit animal: The West Highland White Terrier

My writing mascot is a West Highland White Terrier.  Not just any Westie though.  He’s the West Highland White Terrier who was beside me as I started on my publishing journey.  His name was Castellan Keroberous, and “Keroberous Publishing” – the publisher name attached to my paperback and audiobooks – comes from him. 

Tori and Kero

He crossed over the rainbow bridge a little more than four years ago, and we have another Westie now.  Her name is Lilie.  But it’s Kero who you will see photos of all over my website, and Kero who will have his picture on my business cards when I finally get around to having them made.

Do it

(CLICK HERE to find your own spirit animal).

Your books are so creative. Do you base your characters on real people?

Kero the Westie, from my “Kero’s World” series, is based on my own West Highland White Terrier.  Yes, the one who’s also my writing mascot.  As mentioned above, his name was Keroberous, but I used the shortened form of his name since I figured children would be able to say Kero more easily; many people struggle to say his proper name, so he was often just called Kero anyhow. 

Each of his seven books is based on semi-fictionalized accounts of his own life.  Although, the second half of the final book, “Kero Crosses The Rainbow Bridge” is just what I like to think happened. 

Kero is also the inspiration for Yua the Westie in “Yua And The Great Wizard Hunt” and – less obviously –Cubby the polar bear in “Cubby And The Beanstalk” (I sometimes said he looked like a polar bear cub, and “Cubby” was one of the nicknames we sometimes used for him, if you’re wondering how a polar bear can be based on a dog).

Similarly, my latest release, “Where’s Noodles?” is based on the attempts of our Westie girl, Lilie, to find her favourite toy.  Well, she had to have a book too, didn’t she? *wink*

Click here for the Audible Audiobook, Unabridged (FREE with your audible trial)

Additionally, all four of my degu books contain characters inspired by my four degus. My “Degu Days Duo” books actually have them appearing as themselves: Jacob, Jasper, Jenks, and Joshua. 

Learn about the degu HERE.

In“Degu’s Day Out” Oscar is named after the brother of Luna, who was a female degu we adopted, though the character is based on my Jasper, who took any chance he could to go exploring. 

While the degu in “How To Trust Your Human” is my remaining degu, Joshua, under the name of Buddy (the name I used for all four degus if I wasn’t entirely sure which I was talking to, or wanted the attention of all four).

I have several stories I’d like to write containing some of my other past or present pets too.  In fact, the adventure story I’m currently working on contains my rats, Star and Skye, who joined Kero across the rainbow bridge almost two years ago.

Oh, and I also have three poetry collections containing poems written for, about, or on behalf of, various pets.  The collections “Rodent Rhymes And Pussycat Poems” and “Puppy Poems And Rodent Rhymes” are only about mine and my hubby’s pets, while “My Friends Of Fur And Feather” contains poems about a couple of pets belonging to other family members too, though the focus is on my own pets.

Your creativity knows no bounds. You have written so many great characters and books. I have to ask… Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?

Yes. My “Toby’s Tales” series is based on my own experiences after I lost the last of my sight.  Each book deals with a different aspect that I was struggling with.

I’d tried to write an entire non-fiction piece about it, but couldn’t, even though I felt like I needed to write about it.  Then a friend suggested I tried fictionalizing it to see if giving myself that little bit of distance would help.  It did, and I ended up writing a five book series.

In the first book, Toby learns he’ll never see again, and struggles with accepting this fact, as well as dealing with the frustration of doing things that seem simple, until you try to do them without sight.  I used examples like eating without getting food on yourself, figuring out which is your toothbrush in a cup full of identical brushes, etc.  He also learns some ways to make those tasks easier for him to manage.

In the second book, Toby struggles with being unable to check what sounds are, and the fear of imaginary monsters his mind creates to explain the sounds.  He then learns a way to deal with that fear.

In the third book, Toby struggles with feeling left out when the activity everyone else is enjoying is very visual, and his whole family learns how much difference it can make to Toby if people explain things so he can be included in some way.

In the fourth book, Toby learns about how losing his sight doesn’t mean he can’t still do the things he loves.  It just might mean changing the way he does them.

In the fifth and final book, Toby attends a school for the blind, where he learns about Braille, and that he’s not alone in his struggles.

The whole series was written as a way to help myself accept, and adjust to, my new situation, since I was finding it difficult to do, despite having known since childhood I’d one day lose my sight.  But, it also serves as a way to potentially help others dealing with the same issues, or to educate friends and family of the visually impaired, who may not understand the struggles their friends or loved ones are dealing with.

Tori, you are such an inspiration. Have you ever used the weather for motivation, in terms of bringing out your literary best?

I can, and do, write in any weather, as long as it’s not so hot my brain is melting. I don’t cope with hot weather very well in general.  But bad weather, like storms and snow, seems to inspire me most.  You can especially see this reflected in my poetry, where storms and snow are common themes.  In fact, I’m going to share one of those poems with you.

It’s an old one, which appeared in my collection “Mr. Pumpkin-Head And Other Poems” back in 2012, and was a few years old when that book was published since I wrote it back in 2006.  But, it’s one of the favourites of my older poems, so I’m going to share it anyhow, and hope you enjoy it.  Here it is:

Wolves, Waterfalls & Bears

Like wolves howling in the darkness
The wind howls outside my door
Like a waterfall flowing from the sky
The rain pours… then pours some more

And like a bear in hibernation
I cuddle up warm and snug
With a blanket wrapped around me
And hot cocoa in my mug

© 2006 Victoria Zigler

What a great poem. Thanks so much for the visit, Tori. 

You’re welcome. Thanks for the invite. 

How to contact Author, Victoria Zigler

Blog: www.zigler.co.uk

Twitter: @VictoriaZigler

Facebook: Tori Zigler

k luv u bye

 Thanks for stopping by to meet Tori. ❤

#Fairies, #Myths, & #Magic Author Spotlight Guest Post – “What Happened in the Woods,” By L. T. Garvin


Welcome to my Author Spotlight – Guest Posts feature. As you can see from the image above, I am looking for themed posts about fairies, myths, and magic. If you are an interested author and would like to be featured on my blog, please click HERE to find out more. ~Colleen~


Today, I would like to introduce you to Author, Lana Broussard who writes under the pen name of L.T. Garvin. Her short stories have appeared in print in the Texas Writer’s Journal. She has published poetry online via The Drabble, Poet’s Corner, Silver Burch Press and Wildsound Poetry Festival. L.T. writes fiction, poetry, essays, and humor that she publishes on her blog: L.T. Garvin @ WordPress. L.T. Garvin is the author of Confessions of a 4th Grade AthleteAnimals Galore and Dancing with the Sandman.

Today, Lana has an unusual tale to share with you. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and read on!

Author, L. T. Garvin

“What Happened in the Woods”

By L. T. Gavin

     I was headed out once and for all – gonna get away from Bob, my bipolar mistake. My plan was to get to Ashborough, another town, then from there, I wasn’t sure… Maybe call Eileen, ditch the car? One thing about it, the further north I headed, there was more trees. Maybe I could hide and get lost in them. I was still shaking, thinking about what Bob would do to my dog when he discovered I was gone. I couldn’t take him. I knew this, the one friend that I had where I might possibly hide, had told me she couldn’t take the dog. In a violent rage, in which he often was, Bob had threatened to shoot him in front of me. I had left the back gate opened, and told Beau to go, I remember him looking back at me like I had lost my mind, which apparently, I had.

I drove through the town, and outside of it, the number of trees increased like diametrically opposed soldiers marching to battle. I had grown up in the sparseness of the west Texas desert, so I appreciated the giant towering green tree lords, gateway to the wilderness. I planned to drive for awhile, and I was hoping there would be someplace to stop. I needed something to eat and maybe some drink caffeine to get my wits about me.

The evening shadows started creeping in, although I was still in deep drama, I wasn’t as panicked as when I started this journey. I noticed a convenience store up on the right, tucked into a fold of trees, “Kat’s Corner Store.” I pulled into an absolutely empty parking lot.

Inside the store, a middle-aged brunette woman greeted me. “Hello, how are you doing?”

I smiled quickly, I didn’t want to talk to anyone too much. I could smell burritos, something I was interested in after not eating all day.

“Oh, you have fresh food?”

“Yes we do, the food counter is back there to your left.”

“Thanks,” I said.

I watched her slow smile…

“You’re welcome darling.”

As I rounded the corner, I saw another woman also with brown hair cooking the food. As she raised up from putting utensils in the bin, I noticed that she also looked just like the other woman up at the front.

Oh, wow. You two ladies are twins!” I said, gesturing towards the front cash register.

“No, not at all,” said the woman, giving me a curt look.

“Oh, I mean, I think you two look so much alike,” I stammered. “I guess people tell you that,” I smiled.

“Nope, not at all,” she returned.

I felt foolish and too chatty at the same time.

“What would you like?” she asked.

“Are those BBQ sandwiches?”

“Yes, they are,”

“OK, I will have one.”

The seemingly offended woman put the sandwich in the bag.

“Have you ever tried our churros?”

“No, I’ve never been here,” I replied.

She scooped a serving of the cinnamon sprinkled sticks in a bag and placed with the sandwich.

“Lite dessert, delicately golden friend with cinnamon sugar sprinkles,” she said.

“Oh, well thanks,” I said.

“And on the house,” she responded.

“Thank you.”

I picked up a can of ice tea and walked up front to the woman at the front counter to pay.

“That’ll be $7.38. Oh wonderful, I see you are trying the churros, you’ll love them. Where are you headed?”

“I’m going to see a friend,” I said.

“That’s nice, it’s a lovely evening to drive. There’s a table outside if you like.” She smiled and touched a pretty Lapis pendant around her neck.

“Thanks again,” I took my food and went outside. It was rather nice out there, the large fir trees swayed in the breeze, my panic and my hatred of Bob had somewhat quelled. I ate the sandwich, then absently grabbed the churro sticks although I was trying not to eat sweets. They were indeed sugary, and the cinnamon was almost overpowering. I found myself to be in no hurry, although I did wonder why the store had no other customers, it was almost as though I had fallen off the ends of the earth.

At some point, I must have gotten up from the table and got into my car. Still feeling oddly calm and separated from my predicament, I was driving and watching the landscape become denser. I couldn’t even remember seeing all these trees before, they became even larger in an almost menacing sort of manner. The highway had given way to some kind of small road, and I knew I was lost. I pulled the car over – trying to punch in the GPS on my phone. Bob had called – 15 times. The road ahead resembled a trail, my phone wasn’t working all I could do, was turn back – I went to get into my car, and the door would not open, I kept hitting the unlock button.

“What the…..??” I screamed. My voice filtered upward, then vanished. Dusk was falling, what was I doing here in the middle of nowhere, how had I taken a wrong turn on the highway?”

I stuffed my keys into my purse and decided to walk. There was no choice. Bears? Madmen? Whatever was in the woods, I couldn’t think about it. Resolutely I trudged, jumping at the sound of birds screeching. Then I heard the sound of rushing water, some sort of river or spring. I walked toward it. I don’t know why, everything seemed hopeless, lost as if I weren’t already. I sat down by this river and looked into the water. I no longer felt I could walk, my legs were heavy, my thoughts deep. As I stared, a big splash came from the center of it, and all of a sudden, two men surfaced from the water, fighting with swords. I shook my head, behind them was an army. I shook my head again, what complete madness! I was bonafide crazy. The river and shoreline came alive right there in front of me.

Image Credit: Pixabay.com

A pale woman with ashen gray skin, and fine brown hair engulfing her face like spider legs, appeared in front of me in a forlorn mist.

“What do you want?” she said. She held her hand out toward me, then turned.

It was as if I was acting in a 3-D fantasy adventure. The war in the river raged on, the ashen girl now floated above the river. There was even a man screaming, “Plague!”

I turned and my heart leaped into my throat. It looked like Bob. Then he saw me, and stared at me with his red eyes, smirking while I sat there on the bank. A knight fell in front of me, and he was bleeding. The sound of death echoed, a heavy foreboding knell. Archers rose up, fired their arrows. The dead lady’s hands began to bleed. I felt sick, so incredibly sick.

“You there! Beware the battle! You linger too close to the edge!”

I turned, and there was the brunette woman from the convenience store.

“It’s you!…What are you doing here?”

She smiled. She wore a long, white dress, and her lips were red as Snow White’s poisoned apple. Around her neck was the Lapis eye pendant.

“It’s true, she who hesitates is lost.” Then she began to melt in front of me.

“No, wait! Where are you going? Don’t leave, I need help!” My words fell on hollow ears. She was gone. In the middle of the river, the Ashen Lady was motioning to me. I shook my head. Then, it was as if the bottom fell out of the convoluted world I was in and I must have fainted.

“Darlin’ are you ok?” I heard a voice. I looked into the eyes of the convenience store clerk.

“Now take it easy, you must’ve had a dizzy spell out here.”

“Where’s my car?”

“Well, it’s right here,” she said pointing. We were in the parking lot of the convenience store.

“But how did it get here?”

“You drove it to the store. Don’t you remember coming into the store? You need some coffee.”

“You are the same woman, and you are even wearing the Lapis necklace. You weren’t twins, there’s just one of you!” I shouted.

She just shook her head. “My shift is over,” she said and just like that, walked away.

I got up shaky but steady and walked into the store. A blonde woman was behind the counter now.

“How can I help you?”

© L.T. Garvin 2017


BUY ON Amazon


BUY ON Amazon

Nate, a 4th grader in West Texas, tells his story about life in Sportsville, USA.  The story will ring true to those of you in big football/baseball/basketball states.

Appropriate for all children, 4-10 and any adult who likes sports stories!

LT Garvin writes with a sly humor that will even make the most stoic adult laugh.

And of course, Corbin Hillam’s illustrations accurately portray those “sports moments.”

❤ CONNECT WITH L. T. GARVIN ❤

L.T. Garvin is a huge fiction fan and literature lover. She enjoys writing fiction, short stories, and attempts at poetry. L.T. has a particular fondness for Southern literature, possibly because they have such good food and bigger than life stories in the South. She currently has two books available, Confessions of a 4th Grade Athlete, which is a humorous children’s book about Nathan and his exuberant experiences in school and sports, and Animals Galore, and a novel. Dancing with the Sandman will be published in Fall 2017. L.T. Garvin maintains a blog where she writes fiction, poetry, and humorous essays.

L.T. Garvin WordPress Blog

L.T. Garvin Facebook

Twitter

Amazon

Goodreads

Thanks for stopping by to meet Lana. See you soon! 

#Fairies, #Myths, & #Magic Author Spotlight Guest Post – “The Fantasy World of Belinda Miller”

Welcome to my Author Spotlight Guest Posts

“I have started a new feature on my blog, called Author Spotlight – Guest Posts. As you can see from the image above, I am looking for themed posts about fairies, myths, and magic. If you are an interested author and would like to be featured on my blog, please click HERE to find out more.” ~Colleen~

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I met Belinda Miller on Facebook well over a year ago. We hit it off immediately because as you can see, she loves everything that is magical. Fairies, gnomes, elves… we both love it all.

I was so impressed with her children’s fantasy books that I asked her to read my debut novel and tell me what she thought. Her words brought tears to my eyes and I knew I was finally on my way to becoming an author. Belinda and I have shared many laughs since then. I know you will love her as much as I do.

Please meet my friend, Belinda Miller – children’s fantasy author extraordinaire!

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A story started in the land of Winterfrost in 2011, when a retired ex-teacher met an artist who drew amazing, fantastical illustrations for his children. The artwork reflected the games they played amongst the garden gnomes and squirrels where they lived.

The imagination of the children ran wild — a castle, gnomes, a squirrel, dinosaurs, a witch, goblins, trolls, a wizard — or two, dragons and, of course, fairies.

The teacher was fascinated by these wonderful drawings and asked the artist if he had any plans to write a book. “Maybe, someday,” he replied, “but I’m an artist, not a writer.”

Two years and one broken back later, the artist asked the teacher to write his stories. The first book, filled with some of these fantastical drawings: Phillip’s Quest, Book I: Winterfrost.

In the last four years I have managed to publish three books in the Phillip’s Quest series: Book I, Winterfrost; Book II, Above the Stars, Book III, Across the Elusive Sea, and two books in the Ragworts of Brokenfell trilogy, The Beginning, and Along the Way.

 

And so, began Phillip Tuber, the gnome’s quest to the land “unbelievably beautiful and unbearably cold,” Winterfrost. From the ice and cold of the land of Winterfrost, Phillip and his companions must face perils of cosmic proportions and villains of epic badness.

Another series evolved from Phillip’s Quest and was written based on a family of gnomes that Phillip met on his way to the fateful Farmer’s Market — a family from Brokenfell — the Ragworts. And so the Ragworts of Brokenfell found themselves in their own trilogy of the same name.

The second book, Along the Way, made finalist for two separate categories in the 2016 International Indie Awards.

In November 2017, the final book of the trilogy, the Ragworts of Brokenfell, The Reunion, comes to an end, but they start a new life in Twistedoak, the home of Phillip Tuber.

As a reading developmental teacher who started her career in the late 1970s in a distressed elementary school in Kansas, I was presented with a large, empty classroom devoid of books and materials.

“It was the work I did as a senior in college and my love of literature that enabled me to create a curriculum using classical literature from Little House on the Prairie to Shakespeare!”

Kids went crazy over books I could customize for their reading level and interest. Eventually, my curriculum was shared within the State with other reading teachers and utilized by many.

One topic that was always universally loved by the children was, and still is, fantasy. Through fantasy, children could lose themselves in other worlds, live with exotic creatures, and be whatever they wanted. They didn’t have to live in the turmoil of everyday life and could choose the role of hero or villain.

Because of experiencing that in my own world, as well as the world of those children I taught, I knew that my first books would be children’s books, and Winterfrost was born.

The third book, The Reunion, will be released this November.

Currently, my first adult novel is being submitted to publishers and another is a work in progress. These two books are my first attempt and writing thrillers, involving another quest — a quest for little known religious artifacts.

As Albert Einstein is credited for saying, “Logic will take you from point A to B, imagination will take you anywhere.”

Belinda Miller

Author, Belinda Miller

MEET BELINDA MILLER

A native New Yorker, I now make my home, with my husband and two entertaining felines, in Manassas, Virginia. I have had a full life — living in foreign countries and traveling all over the globe. As a child, my mom always called me the gypsy — always ready for a new adventure.

I guess that explains the vast diversity of my life and my great love of people –especially small people — children. After careers in the corporate and academic realm, degrees in literature, the language arts and education, and a bout with a broken back, I wrote and published my very first children’s book in 2013!

Based on the amazing illustrations of Dean Kuhta and the stories he fabricated for his children, while playing amidst a garden gnome, Phillip came alive in Phillip’s Quest, Book 1: Winterfrost.

My second book, a compliment to the Phillip’s Quest series,  The Ragwort Chronicles, The Beginning, was published the following year – and was re-released in May 2015. Of all my accomplishments, I am the proudest of my books!

An only child, I was born into a large Italian-American family. My mother was an incredible cook, but a more incredible woman. Like her, I love to cook and watch people eat! Because of her influence, each book contains recipes from the characters, themselves!

Even though I was diagnosed with FSHMuscular Dystrophy at age 22, a slowly degenerating disease, it gave me the opportunity to do a lot of living in a very short time. Now, I have time to do what I truly love. Write my books, and foster literacy.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and indoor

❤ CONNECT WITH BELINDA MILLER ❤

website: https://belindamiller.me/  Winterfrost Publishing

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/WinterfrostCastle/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bella772013/?hl=en

Twitter: @bella772013

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cowabungaThanks for stopping by to meet Belinda. Happy Labor Day! ❤