Saturday, September 9, 2017

Author Spotlight - Dorothea Jensen on her award winning book, A Buss from Lafayette



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I grew up in a large family in which word play was valued, and I learned early how to make people laugh. Eventually I developed the capacity to do this on the page, and I was off and running. I also was a voracious reader (mostly in my closet, because our house was always filled with noise and confusion). I especially loved historical fiction, and wanted to write such stories of my own.
WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING - PLEASE ELABORATE: Yes, my high school English teacher, Mrs. Ward. To this day, I hear her voice in my head when I write. She also nominated me for a national award program by the National Council of Teachers of English, and I was one of the winners - the first ever from my very small high school. (I can still picture her RUNNING down the hall to tell me I won. In those days, middle-aged ladies did NOT run, so I knew right away something extraordinary had happened.)
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? Twenty years ago, on a Jane Austen tour in the U.K., I met an elderly woman whose great-grandmother had been kissed as a child by Lafayette on his 1824-5 Farewell Tour. That kiss had come down in her family to her, and, of course, I immediately asked her to kiss me, so I can now say I've been kissed by someone who was kissed by someone who was kissed by someone who had been kissed by Lafayette. That piqued my interest in what Lafayette did for us in the American Revolution, and in his Farewell Tour, which brought him - I later realized - right by the house where I live in a small town in New Hampshire. I also had come across a family situation in my own family tree, in the early 1800s, in which a widower married his late wife's sister. I thought that might have been difficult for his children to understand or accept. I put these elements together and the result was A Buss from Lafayette.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
I reached up, took the rose out of my hair, and gave it to her. “I would like to call her Rose. Caroline Rose. Would that be all right, Mother?” This line brings together all the elements of the story - Lafayette (who gave her the rose, among other things), Clara's love for her late mother (Caroline), and her new understanding and love for her stepmother, Priscilla, whom here she calls "Mother" for the first time ever. (I ALWAYS cry when I read this line!)
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? Clara, of course, or at least I was like her when I was her age. She loves to make puns, she loves to learn, and she is somewhat tormented by her older brother. In addition, she is a rather late "bloomer," and feels awkward in social situations with her peers. My mother, like Clara's stepmother, also insisted I went to dances. I usually felt like a wallflower and mostly sat outside the gym in the hallway chatting with Officer Monk, the policeman there to 'keep order', or whatever.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD- WINNING BOOK? Sometimes things are quite different from what they appear to be on the surface.
TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Visiting a classroom in which the kids could see my author photo taken many years before when my first historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm was published. One student looked at that photo and said in obvious surprise, "You used to be pretty, Mrs. Jensen!" I replied, "Thank you. . .I think."
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? Elizabeth George Speare, who wrote The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
WHAT PERSON HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Obviously, meeting and marrying my husband, David, with whom I recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. Not only has he challenged my brain and appreciated my humor, but he has always given me the space to pursue writing.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED? I heard there was a small publisher near my house, so I walked three blocks down the street where I lived, gathered my courage, and gave them a manuscript of my story. It was not the pristine version I was saving to send to NYC, but one with coffee stains etc. It turned out that this place was a"packager" for a major publisher, and ended up publishing three books that I co-wrote with a friend. After that I started writing by myself.
IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Just do it.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Be yourself online in as many places as possible.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY HONOR? A rave review/A+ book report of my first historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, written by my oldest grandson, Stuart, aged 10.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I hope to sometime get the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for my historical fiction. (I read all her books in the early 50s, and finished the last one when I was in 3rd grade. My teacher told my mother I had cried all day because there were no more of her stories to read.) I also recently discovered that Laura and I share a 17th century ancestor (along with millions of other people), which, needless to say, delighted me!
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: For a number of years, I performed with amateur and professional theater/opera companies. As a contralto/mezzo, I almost always lose the hero to the soprano.
WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? (All can be found on my Amazon Author Page:  amazon.com/author/dorotheajensen 
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf
Blizzy, he Worrywart Elf
Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf
Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf
The Catherine Moorhouse Regency Trilogy (co-authored under the pen name Catherine Moorhouse): Adriana, Louisa, Dorothea
A Buss from Lafayette Teacher's Guide (coming out soon from BQB Publlshing)
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? Yes, three...
HISTORICAL FICTION: A Scalp on the Moon
In 1675, a teenaged boy who has trained his entire life for a career as an actor in Restoration London finds himself accidentally transported to Massachusetts Colony, where he knows the Puritans consider the theater to be a terrible evil. It is a time of great unrest and fear, as the Wampanoag and other Native American tribes are realizing that the English settlers are an unsettling, permanent, and growing presence in their midst. For their part, some of the superstitious colonists insist they keep seeing a scalp on the moon, a portent that something terrible is about to happen. With the outbreak of King Philip’s War this portent proves all too accurate.
HISTORICAL NON-FICTION:
The American Revolutions: By a Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant Historian
I wrote this short non-fiction work long ago and am polishing it for publication. In it, I tell the story of the American Revolutions (yes, the plural is deliberate) As I say in the preface: “In a way, then, it can be said that there were two American Revolutions. The first was the process by which a great number of Americans “turned away” (the literal meaning of revolution, as in “revolve" ) from the mother country, Great Britain, and came around to the idea that America should be an independent nation. The second was the Revolutionary War, that combination of bravery, bloodshed,and blundering which made independence a reality. “
ILLUSTRATED MODERN CHRISTMAS STORY IN VERSE:
Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf, Santa’s Izzy Elves #5
In this fifth installment of Santa’s Izzy Elves series, the Izzy Elves and Santa Claus decide to go on vacation. Bizzy, the self-proclaimed internet whiz, finds a place for them all to visit where they can blend in nicely with the rest of the crowd. Or so he thinks!

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Friday, August 18, 2017

Once You Know This, by Emily Blejwas, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval




Life doesn't hold much hope for Brittany, a disillusioned eleven-year-old who's seen her share of hardship. Her mother, who is stuck in an abusive relationship, can barely manage to feed Brittany and her baby brother. Even though Brittany's teacher, Mr. Mcinnis, encourages all his students to envision a bright future for themselves, Brittany knows better. She's pretty sure she and her classmates are all destined to continue on the same path of disappointment they've always known. But when she begins to focus on a plan, her goals propel her toward seeking a better life. And Brittany soon finds an inner strength she never knew she had.

Author Emily Blejwas' debut novel, Once You Know This, is an inspiring book for young readers with a powerful tale of courage, and determination. Insightfully penned, Blejwas offers a message of hope that is sure to resonate with young audiences. Recommended for home and school libraries, Once You Know This, has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Author Spotlight, Gary Schwartz on his award winning book, The King of Average



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? The easy answer is reading great books. It’s the same impulse that drew me to acting. I saw a fantastic performance and said “I want to do that…”
WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
 My 12th grade English teacher, Stephen Tessler, introduced me to James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I wrote an essay in Joyce’s style of stream of consciousness and he laughed at my audacity, but gave me an “A” after reading it. I also worked with Canadian children’s author Susan Hughes who mentored me with my first manuscript and helped me hone my style.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? 
True story. I came from a violent and chaotic family burdened with mental illness. My mother often wished I was never born and called me worthless. I suffered poor self-esteem. When I was eleven, I rebelled against that idea and had a conversation with myself on the way to school one day. “I’m not so bad.” I told myself. “Okay, I’m not very good, that’s true… but I’m not as bad as my mom thinks. ‘Right!’ I said. “I’m average!” That made me feel better. Then I thought, ‘what if could be more average than anyone else in the world? - Then I’d be SPECIAL!’ That paradox made me laugh. I was reading The Phantom Tollbooth at the time and thought of my story in those terms and came up with characters like Mayor Culpa, the scapegoat and Kiljoy, the professional pessimist. It would be 52 years later before I actually wrote it out.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY? Spoken by Monsieur Roget, the professional optimist. “…when he sees a glass of water filled halfway, a traditional optimist sees it as only ’alf full. But a professional optimist is also happy to see fresh, clear water to drink or wash with or to water plants and make things grow. Like food for instance! ’Alf-full or ’alf-empty? For amateurs!”
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I am the hero, James. His journey was my journey to be sure. The thought of being the MOST average propels him into the fantasy world called The Realm of Possibilities. There he explores the emotional landscape of Average, Above Average, Lake Inferior, Hearsay, Epiphany and Serenity, to name a few of the places he visits.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? I truly hope that kids who feel ‘less than’ get the message that imagination and perseverance and empathy for others are the key to escaping a poor self-image. There is salvation in helping others. In doing so, you save yourself.
TELL US SOMETHINGINTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: 
I was disappointed in the stage version of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth and wanted to write a new version for the stage. I contacted his representatives to ask permission to adapt his book for the stage. One morning, I got a call from NORTON JUSTER! We spoke for a long time but the upshot was his agent advised against a second stage version. It was like Lewis Carrol calling you up to say ‘hi!’
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? If you thought I’d say Norton Juster, you’d be wrong. I’d like to be compared to Roald Dahl. I want to be that prolific, imaginative and enduring. A big goal.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? 
The Phantom Tollbooth, the thought of being the most exceptionally average person saved me from a very different life, I think.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? 
Once I finished the manuscript I sent to over sixty agents and publishers. I got picked up by Booktrope (Seattle), now defunct. I am currently seeking representation.
IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? 
Stop talking about it and just do it! I waited over fifty years.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Send it to everyone you can think of. Get reviewed and don’t give up. Keep talking about your book and have some ready to give away. Read how others promote, but don’t let others do the work for you. You are your best promoter.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? 
This debut novel has gotten such a great reaction by being chosen as a Best of 2016 by Kirkus and IndieReader and the two gold medals from Children’s Literary Classics gives me hope, I have a future as a writer.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I want my book to enter the pantheon of Children’s classics alongside of The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. I would love my book to be a positive influence on children and adults who need this message for generations.
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I am the voice of Heavy Weapon’s Guy and the Demoman from the hit video game Team Fortress 2. I was also a children’s television actor in the 1980s as Bravo Fox on Zoobilee Zoo.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 
In the words of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I am working on a
Carl Hiaasen-like adventure story for kids called The Benji Loper Caper about a boy who hires a limo to take his school crush on a date in Hollywood. He gets mixed up with a movie producer, a limo driver who is an aspiring actor and screenwriter and an international jewel theft ring on the date. It’s “Get Shorty for kids.” I am also working on the sequel to The King of Average.
I hope to attract an agent and publisher for my next book, based on the reception of my first one. I want to have it ready for publication by 2018.
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Author Spotlight, Patricia Reding on her award winning book



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
This is an interesting question because I can’t think of a time when I first gave consideration to the thought. I’d always been an avid reader, and from early on, I wrote. But there isn’t a day I can point to when the clouds parted and the sun shone and an epiphany came unto me saying, “You should write.” Having said that, there was an event that served as the catalyst to my starting my first full-length work. Specifically, I was so inspired by a fantasy series I read, that I had to see if I could write one myself.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I came from a large family of all girls (eight, that is, count them!), back in the day when we weren’t encouraged to aspire to much of anything, really. Still, even as a child, I was intrigued by courtroom dramas. By the time I was finally able to articulate what I might want to do (practice law), I’d been conditioned into believing that such a venture was reserved for others—that it was not something for me. One day, I dared mention it to a friend. I remember being afraid to even say the words. Then, I quickly followed up with: “But I don’t think they’ll let me.” She responded with one simple question, a question that may well have changed the course of my future. “Who is ‘they?’” she asked. In that moment, something was born—a hunger for more and a belief that perhaps I, too, could have dreams and could follow them. As time unfolded, I found myself pursuing those dreams. I’ve now been practicing law for some years. In many ways, the same idea applied to my writing. I saw others create fascinating works and thought, “Why not me?”
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
My two daughters—my youngest two children—were in their early teens at the time that the Oathtaker story and title came to me. I was lamenting about things I saw going on around me. I had a vision of my children seeing the world I’d grown up in, at least for a moment. It was a world in which (to my young mind, at least, back in the day) people said what they meant and meant what they said. You could count on them to follow through on their word. I felt badly that my children were growing up in a world in which teachers don’t always follow through, spouses give up on marriages, religious leaders on occasion fall (quite publicly) from grace, and politicians are excused with the old adage: “Well, they all lie.” I wanted to make a statement that one’s word matters, and that words have a price. Yet I also wanted to express the great glory that can come with honoring one’s word. To do that in a manner that might be accepted by others, I chose to illustrate the concepts I had in mind through a fantasy story.
TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
For me, the most random and funniest events are those moments when in the midst of writing, something trips from the end of my fingertips that I never expected. Sometimes, it’s a funny or thought-provoking, line. For example, in Oathtaker, when a slave woman, Erin, reprimands another, Ginny, whom the reader already knows is slightly cross-eyed, Erin says: “I thought you were only cross-eyed. Now I see that in truth, you are blind.” It’s the kind of line a person would never express out loud in real life, but that a character can get away with saying—and that an author can get away with using. Other surprises have come to me when, for example, a character has shown up in a scene unexpectedly. In Oathtaker, to my delight, that happened at the end of the tale. I remember typing away that Mara (the main protagonist) looked up when the door opened. Then, I stopped, stunned, my hands hovering over my keyboard. I saw the person entering the room, but I was in shock. I had to ask myself: Is that possible? For quite some time, I refused to believe it, but eventually I did, and in the end it was completely right. In fact, it was as though my subconscious knew all along that it was coming, but decided to surprise me along with everyone else.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE OR HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
I can’t say that any one in particular has influenced my style, but as to impact, I have to go back to the classics. Perhaps my all time favorite is Les Miserables, which to my mind is sheer poetry. Moreover, it tells a tale of sacrifice. In many ways, my stories also suggest that sometimes there are things more important than “self.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Of course, there is the obvious of taking a story from start to finish. That may seem ordinary to many, but I suspect many writers would agree that it feels miraculous—particularly the completion of a first full work. Aside from that, both my books are award-winners and WindDancer Films asked to take a look at Oathtaker (Volume One). Not many new authors can claim that a major film production company has shown interest in their work. Even so, I’d have to say that it is the comments from readers that mean the most. I especially like when someone tells me that he or she didn’t read fantasy before, but because of my stories, has been “converted.”
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
The best advice for a new author seeking to promote her work would be the worst advice for her, in general. That is, if she wants to be great at promotion, she needs time to do it. This might suggest she should quit her day job. Please don’t! Instead, new authors should be active on social media—preferably before they first publish. (I wish I’d known this before I first published!) Also, I would encourage them to enter contests, but to be wary of them. They are not all equal. An author should look to enter those that are used to promote ideas with which the author agrees. For example, Literary Classics caught my attention because I discovered LC’s emphasis on works of quality.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Ephemeral and Fleeting: The Oathtaker Series, Volume Three went “live” on March 24, 2017.  I know there will be more to the series, so I suppose I should get started on the next one (post haste!). I’m very excited about Volume Three. Also, I’ve decided to take the plunge into audio books and have spent some time looking into them and doing some recording. You see . . . I want to read them myself. We’ll see how that all goes. It is daunting—and exciting.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Yes! If you are a blogger and would be interested in reviewing my works, I would love to hear from you. To all other readers, I very much appreciate getting feedback—particularly “in the moment” feedback. So, if you’re reading one of my stories, please feel free to contact me via Facebook and follow me there, or on my website www.PatriciaReding.com  and share your thoughts with me. Finally, if you’d like to know more about how my works came about, I’d be delighted if you would join me on Bublish. Just click on the “Follow on Bublish” button. Bublish is a great tool for authors to use to share with readers what they were thinking in the writing process, what things might have influenced their stories, and so on.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Author Jacqui Letran on her Lumen Award Winning Book, "I Would, but My Damn Mind Won't Let Me!"



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?  
It was not an aspiration of mine to become a writer; I am more of a practitioner at heart. I am fortunate that my practice has allowed hundreds of clients to realize life-changing breakthroughs, and that work always begins with teaching each new client some powerful secrets about their mind. It’s a lot to absorb, so many clients asked me to send them a written summary as a reminder. After so much client feedback, the obvious next step was to document that information in a book . As the writing began to take shape, I became more excited at the possibility of reaching so many more people through a published book -- to help anyone learn how to understand and control their thoughts and feelings.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a teacher. I thought it was wonderful to be so full of knowledge and to share that knowledge. As I got older, that aspiration faded, and my focus turned to nursing. I earned my degree as a Nurse Practitioner. What I didn’t realize is that as a Nurse Practitioner, I was really a teacher -- teaching my patients how to take care of themselves. Now I am a teacher. Through my books, interviews, group work, and one-on-one sessions, I get to help people overcome their mental and emotional obstacles and become happy, confident, and successful.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
The name of the book was given to me by my clients, just as the reason to write the book. When asked why they did not pursue the things they truly wanted, my clients would often respond with, “I would, but my mind fights me”, or “My Mind is too strong and I can’t do what I want!” or simply, “My damn mind won’t let me!” Thus, the current title was born!  
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
My favorite line is, “Whatever you are focusing on, you are telling your unconscious mind to give you more of that thing. So when you find yourself thinking about your negative feelings, know that it’s your thoughts that actually created those negative feelings in the first place. If you decide to change your thoughts and focus on something positive, you will in fact be taking control of your feelings."
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I hope that readers will embrace the fact that the power to create the life they want is really in their hands -- or in their head, to be more precise. Whatever they focus on will grow bigger. The power of choice, along with the guidance inside the book, can transform a hopeless situation into an opportunity for personal growth and happiness.
TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
This is not something that most authors would confess to, but I will. I’m not a great writer. English is my second language, and I struggle with proper tenses and grammar. However, because I believe in my message and the power of the mind, I wrote and wrote without editing. I knew that an editor could correct any errors and mistakes. This process reinforced for me the power of asking for help and being an open receiver.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I don’t have a favorite author, but I remember reading countless self-help books myself in my younger years. The writing style that spoke to me the most was simple and straightforward. In my own writing, I focused on making things as simple as possible.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
The book that has the greatest impact on my life is, The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman. I loved learning about the different love languages and understanding that people express themselves in different ways. This book taught me to be mindful of how I express my wants and needs as well as being mindful in how I show others I care. This has helped me tremendously in my personal life as well as my professional life.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
In 2016 I won the Literary Classics’ Lumen Award for Literary Excellence and the Gold Medal for Youth Non-Fiction. In the same year, I also won the Gold Medal from Readers Favorite. I feel so blessed and grateful that my work has been honored with such acclaimed recognition.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
I don’t have a writing ritual other than when I write, I write by hand and I keep writing without going back to edit. That way I’m able to flow with my thoughts and get the messages I need to get out. After I’m done writing, I go back and type it up, re-organize my ideas, and work through a few edits. After that, it’s sent to my husband for another review, before being sent to a professional editor.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I am self-published. I love learning so I’ve been taking a lot of seminars as well as researching and learning from experience as well as other self-published authors.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE PUBLISH DATE OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I am a believer in celebrating every accomplishment, whether big or small. Most of the time, I celebrate by going out for a good meal and spending quality time with my friends and family. I’m certain that I’ve screamed, “Wohooooo!!!!” and “YES!!!!!!!” at least a couple dozen times!
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
You have a message that only you can deliver, in a way that will connect with the people who need to hear it, in a way that only you can convey. Be brave. Stop thinking about it, and just go for it!  
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
I learned after my book launched how important it is to promote your book way in advance of your launch date. There are so many ways to do that -- from social media, to word of mouth, including a mention in your email signature and tons of other ways. This surprised me, but makes perfect sense in retrospect. You want to create a buzz so that there are eager readers waiting for your book. The movie and music industries have used these tactics very successfully, and we authors must do the same.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
5 Simple Questions to Reclaim Your Happiness! a 2017 Literary Classics Gold award recipient in the category of Young Adult Self-Help Books.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Yes, I’m currently writing the third book in my Words of Wisdom for Teens Series. This one is called, How to Unleash Your Inner Super Powers! and will teach teens just how powerful they really are and how they can harness and embody the powers they already possess.  Readers can sign up at:  https://ahealedmind.com/books/  to get sneak peeks, specials, and advance copies.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Monday, July 10, 2017

Teen Author, Sahana Kumar, on her award winning book The Rain of Blood



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY? I think I just picked up a pen in fourth grade and started scribbling and I was hooked. I loved the creativity of the whole process and the control I had over it. I love writing because I can make anything I want and no one gets to tell me what to do when I’m writing it, and I love character building most of all. As soon as I started, I knew I wanted to keep writing.
WHAT DO YOU ASPIRE TO BE SOME DAY?  I want to be a doctor or a bioengineer and also keep writing. One of my favorite things about writing is I don’t have to pick just that - it’s not an all or nothing kind of thing. I can choose to be an author along with whatever else I want.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE? The title I think came with the idea for the story - in the book, the heroes venture through a labyrinth called The Rain of Blood, so it was the obvious choice for a title. More broadly, I tried to pick three of the greatest human emotions and represent them in the three books in this series and they ended up being hope, pain, and fear. The second book centers around the idea of rising above pain, both mental and physical, and that’s where the, admittedly rather morbid, title came from - The Rain of Blood.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“He stepped out onto a sunlit grassy slope, slamming the door on the sound of the windows singing Scumbags in twelve-part harmony.”
Out of context, that quote probably sounds crazy but I love it because I think it really captures the sense of wild, untameable magic in Zairon. To give you a little bit of context, the main character steps from the top floor of a castle onto a grassy slope that shouldn’t exist after tricking a group of windows that sing - terribly. The magic of Zairon is one of my favorite parts of writing it, so that scene was incredibly fun to write.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I probably relate the most with Vicky, despite the fact she’s not a major character. She feels very out of place in Zairon, like she doesn’t fit in. She’s also a huge perfectionist, and hates it if anything she does isn’t good enough … something about a lot of the feelings her character has, I relate very strongly with. The development of her character that way was very subconscious. It took me a long time to realize I did that, my dad was the first one who noticed it and then when I reread Vicky’s sections I realized he was right.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? There are a lot of messages throughout the story of personal strength and sacrifice … overwhelmingly I hope readers take the message of friendship and the power that it can have from this story. Jason, Claire, and Zac share the kind of bonds that most people search for their whole lives and I hope the story inspires readers to search for that type of friendship, the kind that never dies.
TELL US SOMETHING RANDOM/INTERESTING/FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Okay something random … at school I write so much it’s become almost like an expected thing and my friends are very used to me doing weird things because of writing ... If we’re standing in line waiting for something and I have my laptop, nine times out of ten I’ll ask one of them to hold out both their hands, palm up, and I’ll put my laptop on their hands and use it to stabilize while I type and they just laugh and let me. They’ll also give me crazy, impossible challenges like write a 100 word story with every odd sentence being 6 words and every even sentence being 4 words - okay, go.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE? I’m going to go with the totally cliche but definitely true answer - J.K. Rowling. I grew up reading Harry Potter and I easily have read those books more than any others.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Other than my own? I want to say Cassandra Clare books and Christopher Paolini books have had the greatest impact on me. Again, they’re totally cliche pop culture type books, but both of them have absolutely amazing writing styles and their stories are the kind of books I want to write some day. Cassandra Clare, I think, does this beautiful job of making you question your entire life through her writing and the way she ties in all of the biblical references into her stories are seamless and beautiful. Her characters are absolutely amazing - flawed, but somehow still strong. They’re very human, very gripping, but somehow ethereal all the same. Christopher Paolini has been this huge inspiration to me since he was a teenager when he published Eragon. Reading that book in particular made me think maybe I could write something like that and maybe the idea of publishing before I hit thirteen wasn’t so crazy after all.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? I want to say just getting through the first book’s publishing process was my greatest accomplishment. At first it was just really exhausting. I was just a 12-year old kid and I loved writing the book and suddenly all these people were coming in and poking holes in my story and putting it under a microscope and pointing out every tiny flaw. Pretty much every night that year, my seventh grade year, I’d come home, do my homework, edit for two or three hours, do violin, singing, and science olympiad practice and then go to sleep completely exhausted and it was just rinse and repeat. It was all worth it though when that first book came out, and I learned so much from that process. After that, with the next book I started being able to make the changes on my own without someone having to hover over me.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS? Just my age I think keeps me from having too many writing rituals - I mean if I have a chem or a math test the next day, there’s no way I’m going to be sitting down and writing that night. That said, I like to have music going when I write, usually sad music, and I write the best between the hours of 10 at night and 2 in the morning.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION/PUBLISH DATE/OR OTHER OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?  I believe I went to school and took a history test, then went out for ice cream with my family after dinner.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? My promotion method was actually extremely unorthodox but nevertheless worked - I wrote fanfiction. I got on fanfiction sites and started actively writing stories and promoting them on message boards and after I got enough followers and people who liked my writing I sort of casually like slipped it in there, like hey I wrote a book and if you like this story as much as you say you do in the comments you should go read it and a bunch of people on the site went and bought the book and let me know what they thought of it. It was incredible and it’s a really fun way of both improving your writing, getting feedback on characters, and promoting your book all at the same time.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? I published the prequel to the Rain of Blood, the first in the series titled the Cave of Mystic Dreams when I was 12.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? Yes, I am working on the third book of the Champions of Zairon series. The second one is the one that won the Literary Classics Young Author Award. The 3rd book is called The Forgotten Elder.
The Forgotten Elder should be available hopefully in 2017 or 2018 on Amazon.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org