Thursday, July 25, 2019

Interview with Darlene Cannon, Author

accept yourself book, be yourself book, bepeacelove, darlene cannon, dollygal book, dollygal series, mystical fantasy series, long beach writer, peacock and serpent, be hope peaceWe are sharing some of our favorite inspiring interviews! This interview, from 2016, is with Darlene Cannon about her mystical fiction series, "Dollygal, Peacock and the Serpent."

Tell us about yourself.
I work with senior citizens in the long beach area and surrounding cities. This is my first time writing a book, and I have many more to come. 

Describe your new book series for us.
"Dollygal, Peacock and the serpent" are highly interactive mystical fantasy books. The trilogy series will challenge the reader of all ages, to be the best they can simply being themselves.

Who do you think would most appreciate your books?
Young and mature people will appreciate the series.

Tell us a bit about the main characters in the series.
Dollygal is the main character of the story representing  Love, Hope and charity. Brother Peacock represents nobility and brother serpent represents the opposite of good and Godfrey is a character that is very universal.

What inspired you to incorporate themes of Love, Hope and Charity into your writing? 
It just came to me.

Are there any aspects (e.g. character building, world building) of your writing that you've been working on?
Every book adds new characters, because everyone is the victor in self realization.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
I like them, but I still like the original feel of a book in hand.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
To bring forth more Love, Hope and charity.

An excerpt from "Dollygal, Peacock and the Serpent":

Dollygal says, "The rain is singing a song can you hear it?"
"I'm afraid not, honey," Peacock finally says.
"Sure you can, just like at the lake. Let's close our eyes, but no peeking, Brother Serpent,"  Dollygal replies.
"This is ridiculous. Rain does not sing tunes..." grumbled the serpent.
Suddenly, a big smile appears on Peacock's face, and he says, "Wait a minute, I can hear the raindrop song. So can you, serpent, admit it."
(Peacock slaps serpent on the back leaving him quite disturbed by the situation.)
"Ha, ha, ha, ha."   Peacock continues to laugh, as their carriage re-enters the castle gates.

His laughter is taken by the wind and carried out the back window...
down through the Garden, passing by the flowers and the weeds, tickling the water in the lake and finally swirling around the most magnificent tree in the Garden.

More Information
Visit the author's website 
Buy the book 

accept yourself book, be yourself book, bepeacelove, darlene cannon, dollygal book, dollygal series, mystical fantasy series, long beach writer, peacock and serpent, be hope peace,

Monday, July 15, 2019

Interview with Tutor Liesl Johnson

liesl johnson, word a day, vocabulary website, transience templeWe are sharing our favorite inspiring interviews from the past. This interview is from 2015; it features Liesl Johnson who is a self-employed private tutor as well as the founder of a word-a-day vocabulary email subscription, called Make Your Point.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
As a private tutor, I teach reading and writing to students one-on-one in their homes, and I love it! I’m always hauling in piles of books to recommend to kids and teens and helping them find topics that excite them to write about. Overall, my goal is to help each student I work with become an accurate, fast reader and a fluent, expert writer.  My favorite thing to teach is vocabulary, because you can always play games to review the words, and kids and teens are so proud of themselves when they use their new words.

Describe your vocabulary email subscription, Make Your Point, for readers unfamiliar with it.
Make Your Point is a fairly new project: it launched on January 1st of this year. It’s a free, daily email that goes out to anyone who wants it, and each email teaches you a useful, sophisticated word. The readers so far have told me that it takes about five minutes to work through each issue, and they’re happy with how I make the definitions really easy to understand.

Who is your target audience?
That’s interesting, actually! The target audience is practically everybody in the English-speaking world. My youngest reader is less than five years old. She’s highly precocious and is homeschooled by her mom. There are lots of ambitious, college-bound students who use Make Your Point to study. But I think most of the subscribers are just regular adults who care about being precise and colorful in their word choice, and they like to be reminded of nifty words that they knew before but have forgotten about. The oldest subscriber I know personally is a poet in her sixties who has sworn to never stop learning new things.

What inspired you to start a daily vocabulary email subscription?

Thank you for asking this! Ha ha. This is really important to me. Okay, two reasons: first, there are already several other word-a-day email services available, but I wanted to improve on them.  As a vocabulary teacher, I’m kinda critical of them. They tend to focus on really random words that you won’t be able to use in daily conversation—words like “perfervid” and “livery”—and they all just give some quick information about the word without actually teaching it to you. I felt like I could create a word-a-day email that would offer both practicality and research-based instruction. (My undergraduate degree is in English education, and my master’s is in educational psychology.) So basically, Make Your Point was created to help kids and adults focus on useful words and learn them well. 

And then the other reason I was inspired to create Make Your Point is that I love, love, love teaching vocabulary and I’m nerdy enough to want to gather up all the words worthy of being learned and share them with anybody who’s interested. The format and content of each issue are the result of about ten years of experience in teaching vocabulary.

So, what information do you include in your daily vocabulary emails besides just the word and definition?
So there’s that, of course, and the definition is always phrased in really plain language (as opposed to being reported straight from the dictionary.) Then you have:

•    The part of speech, with an explanation of how that helps us put the word into a phrase

•    Related forms (like “jerry-build,” “jerry-building,” and “jerry-builder”)

•    How to use it: the right phrases and sentence patterns

•    Two real-life, true, contextual examples

•    A prompt for you to explain the meaning in your own words without saying certain key words from the definition. (It forces you to think about the meaning of the word instead of just memorizing the definition!)

•    A template for making your own sentence with the word to describe something from your life, along with another example sentence in that template

•    A quick word game and a quote to ponder. These distract you for a moment so that when you try the upcoming review questions, you’ve temporarily forgotten about the word’s definition, and you have to call it to mind on your own. That strengthens your ability to remember the word.

•    Two review questions that get you thinking about the word

•    Answers to those questions

In addition to reading the daily vocabulary emails, do you have any other suggestions for people looking to expand their vocabulary?
Sure! Read, read, read. Read novels that take place in the 1800s when people did nothing but sit around trying to be witty. Read blogs and magazines about topics you know nothing about. Read the editorials and the reviews in the paper, because when those writers get mad, they spit out incredible words. And turn on the English subtitles every time you watch TV or Netflix and read what you’ve been missing.

Were you always interested in new words or is it something that developed through your education?
Always! One of my sharpest memories from elementary school was when I used the word “tangible” in class and my teacher, Mr. Cleek, let me share with the other kids what it meant. OMG, I was so happy. And to the other girls at my summer camp, I was that weird one who went everywhere with a copy of Kaplan’s Word Power, commented on people’s “exorbitant” canoeing skills.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Anyone who wants to get the vocabulary emails can sign up at And anyone who wants to nerd it up and chat about their favorite words can email me at Thanks so much!
Relevant Links

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

An Interview with Author A.S. Chung

as chung, a brand new day, diverse books, diverse children's book
We are sharing inspiring interviews from the past! This interview, from 2015, features A.S. Chung -- the author of the children's picture book, A Brand New Day – A Banana Split Story.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a mother of a young toddler with a very normal professional career in the service industry. The writing component of my personal career, whilst was always prevalent, didn’t become a reality until later on in life. A recent divorce sparked my need to put pen on paper as both an outlet for getting through difficult times and also borne out of a need that I found was lacking (see below for further details).

Apart from writing, I am a regular suburban mum with a great love for photography, travelling, event management and spending lots of time socially with my close friends. 
Describe your new children’s book in a few sentences.
A Brand New Day deals with the topic of divorce, without ever actually mentioning it. It details the life of a little girl who has to split her time between her parents throughout the week and during school holidays. The book highlights all the special things she does with each individual parent and how love can still provide the child with a very loving and engaging life, without the dramas of poor co-parenting. Essentially, the book is designed to highlight the positive, to give the child hope that the future can be bright.
Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
A Brand New Day is written for three groups of audiences. Of course, its primary audience is the young reader who is going through divorce. The beautiful illustrations and loving words are meant to sooth the pain and anxieties that come with it.

The book is also for the parent. A way to communicate what life could potentially be like. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Sometimes it’s hard for the parent to paint a pretty picture at the end of it all whilst going through a divorce. This is just to aid that process.

Lastly, the book is also a resource for families and friends of divorce. I know that my circle of friends at the time, who also have very young children, had great difficulty explaining divorce when their families were perfectly fine! It made for a challenging conversation and I thought perhaps this book could help them understand it a little more.
What inspired you to write a children’s book that helps children learn how to cope with life’s challenges?
I was unable to find written resources for my then 4 year old daughter about divorce. In particular, I was looking for positive children’s picture books about the subject matter. In its absence, I was inspired to create Pigeonhole Books, which is a gentle resource to deal with life’s challenges. It was a way for me to communicate with my daughter and show her that life continues despite initial difficulties.

I have a great desire to preach positive messages and the importance of love and family to young children. Therefore, Pigeonhole Books is a project very close to my heart. Apart from the topic of divorce, Pigeonhole Books also deals with same-sex, blended and multiracial families.
Did you do the illustrations for the book? What goals did you want to accomplish with the illustrations?
I commissioned illustrator Paula Bossio for A Brand New Day. I was very open to how she would interpret the book and I didn’t want to restrict her style by giving too many boundaries to work with.  Paula has an incredible knack for turning my words into beautiful illustrations. For this book, I hardly even made any changes. It was perfect from the start to the end!

Ultimately, I wanted the illustrations to be lovely and beautiful, understated and not boisterous and most importantly to convey a positive outlook.
In addition to being an author, you’re a parent. How has your daughter responded to A Brand New Day?
When I first introduced the book to her, I didn’t tell her I had written it, let alone written it for her. By the time the book had been published, she had already gone through a year of co-parenting.

This is the second book I had done so upon finishing, she had an inkling I had written it and she asked me if it was about her. She laughed at all the right spots, pointed to scenarios which she could relate to and instantly asked me to read it again. A year down the track, she still requests that we read it together, except, now she reads it to me.
Are there any children’s book authors who have influenced your writing style?
I read a lot of books when I was a child, mainly all the classics. No one author influenced my style but they all in their own way showed me that I am only limited by my imagination. My style is my own and my writing reflects my message and in the tone I wish to convey it in.
Can you tell us a bit about the creative process of creating A Brand New Day, from the initial idea to the finished book?
I wish I had a great story to tell about the process or a sudden epiphany I had which led me to write A Brand New Day. Truth be told, I had a bad day with my daughter’s father. I ended the day completely dejected, tired and just plain miserable. I was ever so worried about my daughter and how we had changed her life forever.

I turned on the computer, opened a blank word document and just started typing. Two things startled me when I finished it in a matter for 30 minutes. There was an actual story, from start to finish, not just random words on a paper and also that I had written it in rhyme! Within the next 2 weeks, I had written another 4 manuscripts. Of course, since the first draft, I have edited the manuscript a million times.
What do you have in mind for your next project?
I am in the midst of having my next book illustrated. It is entitled Wishful Wedding and is the first book in the Pocketful of Pride series. This collection features stories about children from families with same-sex parents and marriage equality. 

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
This book is not simply a children’s picture book to be enjoyed by all. It is a divorce resource. It is designed to help children and families alike. It is also about publishing diverse books. We don’t have enough of those!

Banana rhymes with my daughter’s name and is her adorable little nickname. Divorce is such a grown up, ugly, real word. To be honest, split isn’t much better but coupled with banana, it made for a cute series title! 

Relevant Links
Where To Purchase A Brand New Day
Barnes & Noble
Book Depository

Friday, July 5, 2019

An Interview with the Author of DESTINY

destiny, cornerstone deep, charlene a. wilson, fantasy romance novel

We are sharing our favorite past interviews! This interview, from 2015, features Charlene A. Wilson -- the author of the sci-fi/fantasy romance novel Destiny, book 3 in the Cornerstone Deep series.

Describe the plot of Destiny in a few sentences.
Destiny is the third book in the Cornerstone Deep series...

Angels, Gods, High Ones… Could anything else find its way into the prophecy caused by their father, Sylis Shilo, the renowned realm traveler? Vincent understands there were things in his father’s work he wasn’t privy to simply because his soul was too young, but how could this be kept a secret from even his brothers? The more he learns, the more he’s glad he hadn’t known.

The sentinels of Cornerstone Deep are in for their most difficult challenge yet. The portal to the Spectrum of the Realms must be sealed, and punishments must be carried out. Will the Gods take all that is dear to Vincent, James, and Cole Shilo?

In this book, Vincent discovers some of the things his father kept secret. Without giving too much away, how does his discovery impact his view of his father?
The Shilo brothers find that their father, Sylis, the renowned realm traveler, kept many secrets. It absolutely bashes the image of a loving parent seeking to do good in the name of humanity. In fact, Vincent is sickened by his father’s deceit. And now because of what he had done, the brothers must pick up the pieces in a foreign realm.

Vincent, James, and Cole have a very unique relationship with each other. Were you inspired by siblings you’ve met?

These three didn’t come from a pattern of siblings. This series developed around a dream I had long ago. The three “reapers” in the dream turned out to be my heroes in the story. How odd is that?

Who was your favorite character to write in Destiny?
I love all my characters but in Destiny I got to focus more on Vincent’s wife, Elaina, than in any of the other books. She’s sweet as they come, na├»ve, and discovers while prayers are answered, it might not turn out as we expect it to. Also, we have a new character in Destiny, the boys’ Uncle Rhune. He was a hoot to write. Bigger than life and charismatic, Rhune drags up much of the information the guys wish they didn’t need to know about.

Cornerstone Deep is a series that blends elements from sci-fi, fantasy, and romance. Do you try to keep these elements in balance or do you just let the story flow organically?
In this story, the elements blend naturally. I didn’t need to concentrate on making them level. It’s their world, it’s how things are. Magic, dimensions, rebirth, and soul mates are just part of it all. Oh and we can’t forget those Gods!

A fan said that Echoes, book 2 of the series, leaves the reader “reeling from the mind-blowing revelations and truly surprising twists of fate.”

Can fans expect the same level of twists and turns in Destiny?
Oh, yes! There are many twists that the Shilos face in Destiny and they’ll find this book fast paced… so don’t expect many potty breaks. (wink)

Do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you started the series?
Yes, I think we all evolve as we learn and apply what it to our writing.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of ebooks?
I think it’s a wonderful way to share our books. March on progress!

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?
I would love to have the rest of my other series, Aumelan, published. Also the next series that takes off from Cornerstone Deep, Midway Summit. Those are my base goals. I have several others waiting on the sidelines to see publication.

Have your family and friends been supportive of your writing?
The have been wonderful! My daughters are proud to have an author mom. And with Aumelan now on the market, they get to have that series in their school library.

Have you ever had writer's block?
Sometimes I just need to take some time off to regroup. So when writer’s block hits, I go to my bookshelf and choose a nice book to get lost in. It helps free my imagination!

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
Book two of my Aumelan series is written and in terrible need of revision. It’s a monster of a job I’m facing with that one, so it will be the one I spear head next.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?
Destiny is the third book in the Cornerstone Deep series. This series is best read sequentially. If you enjoy magic, true love, heroes that fight for the one they love at all cost, angels, Gods, rebirth, soul mates and… well… hot guys, there you have it. Enjoy!

Relevant Links