Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Won The Versatile Blogger Award!

Want to hear is some really cool news. Read it slowly, because at first I thought it said "The Versatile Booger". I was like, "Hmmm, is this a good thing?"  Seriously, I was awarded The Versatile Blogger Award!  This award was sent to me by my fellow blogger, author friend, Nickie Storey Bailey, whose blog can be found here: Thank you for this award, I promise not to let it go to my head!  

According to the rules, in order to receive this special award, I must:
1 – Thank the person who gave it to me and link  back to their blog.
2 – Share seven things about myself.
3 – Pass this award on to 5 other recently discovered blogs and inform them of the honor.

So here are seven things about me:
1.    I dvr everything! The last thing I watched on tv while it was actually on was Super
Bowl XLIV (Geaux Saints)!
2.    I have had 100 pgs of a psychological suspense thriller written on my computer for over 7 years.
3.    I can't stand to wash dishes and have been known to let them soak for days or throw them away ( I know, I am bad)!
4.    I am an undercover princess ninja warrior.
5.    I make up songs and like to sing at the top of my lungs.
6.    My friends say I am addicted to Mug Rootbeer.
7.    I wish I could draw because I have beautiful pictures in my head but unfortunately they do not translate onto paper.

I would like to send The Versatile Blogger Award to the following people (alphabetical order):

Karen Pokras Toz:

From My Bookshelf to Yours: Peter & the Whimper Whineys, The Magic Word & Santa's Birthday Gift

Peter and the Whimper-Whineys is the story of a young whiney, "selfish and cranky and cross," rabbit. After receiving a punishment he falls asleep and finds himself in the Whimper-Whineyland. He learns what the whimper whineys sound like to those around him. This story teaches having a positive attitude even when things do not go your way. Also that whiney is not the way to get attention or what you want. This book is a must for parents and teachers everywhere! The illustrations are cute and colorful.

The Magic Word is a wonderful tale that teaches manners. The words "please" and "thank you" are the magic words. Elisabeth is a very rude child who learns from her mother the lesson of common courtesy. She also learns how to be a good friend. This rhyming story flows from beginning to end. This is a great read aloud for little ones with beautiful illustrations to keep their attention.

I love the way Santa's Birthday Gift tie the stories of Jesus and Santa Claus together. In my family we know Christmas is about the birth of Jesus but the kids also anxiously await to see what Santa brought them. This adorable rhyming story shows Santa role in Jesus' birthday. It also teaches the lesson of giving. This story is bound to become a Christmas tradition with its simple, but beautiful retelling of the nativity scene. What a wonderful way to teach your kids the true meaning of Christmas!

*A free copy of these books were given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review.
You can find Sherrill' Cannon's Books at the following
My books (which are all also eBooks) are available at most online stores including and   They are also featured at Red Room: and there are signed books available at as well as on eBay.
Peter and the Whimper-Whineys is also an iTunes App:
Website and blog is 

Click here to read Sherrill Cannon's Interview

Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with Sherrill Cannon, author of Santa’s Birthday Gift

Tell us about yourself:

I am a mother of four and a grandmother of nine. I have written three published award-winning children’s books, as well as four published musical plays for elementary school children. I will have a fourth children’s book released in early 2012.  A former teacher, I have had varied careers including Varsity Coach, professional Newspaper Sports Photographer and Columnist,  Dinner Theatre Company Stage Manager, Talent Manager, and Business Administrator. My husband and I celebrated our 51th wedding anniversary in June!  We are now retired, and we travel in our RV from the east coast to the west coast each year to spend time with our children and grandchildren... sharing my books along the way!

Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you:

1.     I grew up (from 6-16) in the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, where my father was the manager.

2.     In 2011, I have been fortunate enough to win seven awards for my three picture books.
a.     The Magic Word:                                    Readers Favorite Gold Medal Award,
      NABE Pinnacle Achievement Award
Global  eBook Finalist Award.

b.     Santa’s Birthday Gift:                                    Readers Favorite Silver Medal Award
National Indie Excellence Finalist Award

c.     Peter and the Whimper-Whineys            Readers Favorite Bronze Medal Award
USA Best Books Finalist Award
3.     I sometimes think in rhyme.

What inspired you to write the book(s)?

Santa’s Birthday Gift was in response to my granddaughter’s question, after I read her the story of the Nativity.  She asked, “But where’s Santa?” (ISBN 978-1-60860-824-9)

Peter and the Whimper-Whineys was a story that my mother told me as a child, and shared with my children and grandchildren as well as numerous elementary school students in her long career as a substitute teacher.  With her blessing, I put it into rhyme. (ISBN 978-1-60911-517-3)

“What’s The Magic Word?” is something I always ask, whenever my children and grandchildren ask for anything without saying “Please”.  The book focuses on having consideration for others and trying to live the Golden Rule.  (ISBN 978-1-60976-909-3)

What are your favorite children's authors/books?

Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein, since all of my books are written in rhyme and meter.  I love poetry, and the music and rhythm of words.

What advice would you give other young aspiring writers?
Find your niche in the writing world, and then concentrate there for submissions as well as for marketing after publication.  Send out query letters to traditional publishers, but don’t be afraid to explore the world of self-publishing or “help-publishing” as I refer to my publisher Strategic Book Group.  I have been very happy there. It’s hard to break into the traditional publishing world without an agent (who isn’t interested in you if you’re not published) so I have been happy to put my faith in my writing and let the public decide whether or not they like my work.

What are you working on now?

My next rhyming children’s book, Gimme-Jimmy, is now in illustration and should be released early in 2012. It’s another book about manners and coping with bullies – only in this case it’s the bully who has a problem!

What do you hope your books will impart to children?
Consideration for others and good manners – thoughtfulness – the Golden Rule as in “try to treat others the way you would like” (from The Magic Word) – all are at the heart of my books.  I guess once a teacher, always a teacher; since I try to teach good manners, disguised as fun stories!

What obstacles have you experienced in your writing journey?
I have been writing all of my life, but my main obstacle has been lack of time – as it is for most authors who also have a day-job, not to mention child-care!   Now that I’m retired, I have been able to submit my manuscripts, and also have more time to market them (which is the other half of being an author!)

Where can people buy your books/.Do you have a web page or fan page?
My books (which are all also eBooks) are available at most online stores including and   They are also featured at Red Room: and there are signed books available at as well as on eBay.
Peter and the Whimper-Whineys is also an iTunes App:
My website and blog is 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies" by Donalisa Helsley Sneak Peek

So my next book is for the little ones.  "I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies " is very close to being done. We are shooting for February publication. Here is a sneak peek at two of the new characters in the story. For more diversity I decided to go with animal characters. What do you think?

How much do you love chocolate chip cookies? I love them a lot, but there is something I love even  better! I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies is an entertaining book that teaches what should really take first place in our hearts.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

From My Bookshelf to Yours: Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure by Kathryn Cloward

Kathryn feels that her parents love her siblings better than they love her.  After being sent to her room,  Maggie, the magical butterfly, and her rainbow charm bracelet show up and take Kathryn on an adventure. Where she learns about self esteem, self confidence,belonging and expressing herself.  On this journey she discovers the rainbow of colors inside her.

What an empowering book with a very positive message that all children need to hear. It offers practical examples and explanations. The illustrations are vibrant, colorful and beautiful.

*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review.

Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure can be purchased at the Kathryn the Grape website for $16.99.  It's also available on

Click here to read Kathryn Cloward Interview

Monday, December 5, 2011

Interview with Kathryn Cloward, author of Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure

Tell us a bit about you?
I am 37 years old and am native to San Diego.  I live less than a mile away from the home I was raised in, and where my parents still reside today.  Just like in the Kathryn the Grape books, I have three older brothers that I love very much, and who lovingly still tease me.  My five year old son is my greatest source of inspiration and joy.   

What inspired you to write “Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure”?
The idea for this particular book, which is the second book in the Kathryn the Grape series, came to me inNovember of 2009, as I was walking with my friend, Jennie Lapointe, around San Diego Bay.  We wanted to find a way to teach children about the energy points in their body, but in a fun and new dynamic way.  Jennie and I came up with the idea of matching the colors with particular symbols on a charm bracelet to help teach children that they are colorful.  

This story was developed before the first Kathryn the Grape book was illustrated, and the reason whyKathryn the Grape's sleeves are always rolled up is because her wrists needed to be exposed in the second book so the charm bracelet would be always seen.  One of my favorite parts about creating theKathryn the Grape series is all the "big picture" visioning it requires.  Many characters and concepts that are being introduced in the upcoming third book impact future books in the series.

What do you hope your books will impart to children?
The overall purpose of the Kathryn the Grape books are to help children develop authentic self love and self acceptance. Every story has an affirming message for children that help them feel good about themselves, be accepting, and compassionate toward others.  Children learn about themselves through the lessons that Kathryn the Grape is learning.  

What are you working on now?
I'm working on a lot of exciting things for Kathryn the Grape right now.  

"Kathryn the Grape's Magical Hour" radio show launched on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at Noon PST / 3Pm EST on VoiceAmerica Kids.  The show is for kids, and hosted by kids.  Audrey and Zara are co-hosting the show and they are both wonderful 10-years old girls who well represent the messages of Kathryn the Grape.  Everyone can tune in to the show on Wednesdays, or download the episodes for free from the show archives or iTunes.  We have details about the show on 

Another project I am super excited about right now is the upcoming Kathryn the Grape sing-along album.  I am co-writing the album with musician Astra Kelly, and we have already completed three of the six songs projected.  The album is a natural extension of sharing the messages of Kathryn the Grape, and will be available April 1, 2012.

The third book in the Kathryn the Grape series will be available by the summer of 2012, and it is a story that takes place in Kathryn the Grape's school classroom.  It is a story I created based on two conversations that I had with my son this past year.  Ginny Hornby is the co-author on this book, and Christine Winscott continues as the illustrator.

What do you do in your spare time when you’re not writing?
During the day I am quite busy running my companies, meeting with clients, and developing my radio show.  So when I am not working, I really cherish and nurture my spare time.   I find my greatest moments of joy when I am spending time with my family and creating memories with my son.  I also have come to nurture and cherish dedicated blocks of alone time, where I hike the mountain near my house or write in my journal in the meditation space of my home.  If you are wondering when I actually write Kathryn the Grape stories, I do 90% of that writing between 2am and 7am.  I just wake up and know what I need to write, which has been happening on and off for almost three years now.

Who was your favorite author when you were young?
I was not an avid reader when I was young.  I liked to play games with my brothers, or make-believe in my room with my dolls...I had a huge imagination!  I most loved story time with my mom, as she used to read to me with the most animated voice inflections.  That is how I now read to my son too.   When I started to really sit down and read on my own for pleasure, I was most drawn to the Judy Bloom books.  

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Trust your intuition and follow your dreams.  Don't allow self doubt or naysayers influence what you know you are meant to do.  

Describe yourself in 5 words

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? 
Well, if I had the vocal talent, I would pursue my childhood dream of being a country music singer/songwriter.  However, with the creation of the Kathryn the Grape sing-along album, I feel that I am in a way fulfilling that dream as I am creating original songs for others to enjoy, and I will be singing a little on some of the songs.

If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Oprah.  I think Oprah is a fascinating human being, and having the opportunity to sit and chat with her would be amazing.

Where can people buy your books? 
You can purchase autographed and personalized Kathryn the Grape books at our website store, at  $1 of every book sold on our website is donated to a non-profit organization through the Kathryn the Grape Fund.  Books are also available at all online book stores including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  We also have both books available for digital viewing on the Kindle and Nook Book   

Do you have a web page or fan page?
Yes, you can find out more about Kathryn the Grape at and we do a lot on our Facebook and Twitter pages.  

Anything else you would like to share?
I am a huge believer in the power of collaboration, and I am thankful for the amazing team of people who work with me on Kathryn the Grape. I trust that I will continue to be led to the right people who are meant to be part of this magical and colorful journey.

Click here to read   Kathryn the Grape's Colorful Adventure Review

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

From My Bookshelf to yours: The Many Adventures of Mortimer Crump: Mortimer's Sweet Retreat

Mortimer meets a monster who at first sight is scary, but he gets to know him and has a wonderful adventure. This is a beautiful story about friendship and not judging others based on their appearance. In an age where we are are dominated by computer generated images it was refreshing to see the hand drawn and colored pictures. My children LOVED all the beautiful sweets drawn as rides and things especially the chocolate commode. The sing song rhyming put the "icing on the cake" for me. A beautiful tale that should be shared with all children. Maybe the author can write a book about a vegetable land. If she does dedicate it to me!

*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview with Mandi Tillotson Williams, author of Mortimer's Sweet Retreat

Tell us a little bit about you: I am your average mini-van driving mama but I do have an imagination that is FAR from tame! (I may need to invest in tranquilizer darts just in case it happens to get loose) Often times when my kiddos and I are driving around in "Mandi's-Mini" we will crank the radio up and I will then proceed to make up new silly songs to whatever happens to be playing on the radio. The kids seem to think it's fun and often times a book idea will strike me right there in the mini! :)

How did you begin your writing career for children? I have always LOVED to write and draw since I was a young child. I would make up stories for fun and I was pretty convincing at times. I had several friends believing that I had actually traveled to Earth by way of a large bubblegum slide from an undiscovered candy-coated planet. I began my writing career after a person family tragedy-turned-miracle gave me the shove I needed to pursue my dream.

Was there someone or some event in your life that inspired you to write your book?  I wrote my first book about 10 years ago but put it aside because I had never even considered pursuing publishing it until several years later after my youngest child was born. He was very premature (only a 28 weeker) and the doctors said due to a grade III bleed on both sides of his brain he may not walk or talk. He faced many more complications while in the NICU and at that time, I prayed and made a promise to God that if he would just save my baby's life, I would share my miracle with as many people as possible. Well my little one is now almost 6 years old and has no trouble walking or talking and is actually a very smart little boy. He recently had to get glasses but I made up a What if question in my second book that made glasses COOL for him. I read it to his class and half of them wanted glasses too!! Lol. One little boy even wore sunglasses to school the next day! :o) In order to get my miracle spread to the world as I promised, I decided to publish my book and since then I have written a total of 4 but am working on illustrations for the other two. Good things can come from bad, I have living proof. 

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? A photographer of course. This actually is my other job when I am not writing. I love it because it lets me express my creativity.

What feelings or lessons do you hope your book leaves its readers? I want for those that read my first book, Mortimer's Sweet Retreat to come away with new outlook toward others. You can't judge someone by looks alone. Just because someone may look strange, it doesn't mean that they are any less of a person than you are.

Describe yourself in five words Mother, Photographer, Author, Illustrator, Creative

Is there a children’s book that you have read that you wish you had written?  Shel Silverstein's poems, I love those. :o) Also the froggy books are super cute.
Whats next for you? Right now I am working on the second book in The Many Adventures of Mortimer Crump series and also another series as well. The first book in this series is about Henrietta Hexagon - A happy little shape with six beautiful sides. :o)
Do you have any advice for others interested in writing books for children? I would say research is the key for sure! I have done a huge amount of research and you learn things every day. Also, I would say that if you are planning on pursuing writing go ahead and join communities such as goodreads, absolutewrite, or SCBWI. These boards are also wonderful places to find valuable information as well as make friends and gain fans.

Do you have a website or a fan page?  I do!! :o) and

Where can we find your books to buy? They are both available in ebook and print
Mortimer's Sweet Retreat on Amazon: Amazon
       on Barnes and Noble: 
Moritmer's Book of What-if's on Amazon: 
       on createspace:

I do want to also share my poem I wrote about my son's time in the NICU if that's ok.

My answer as to why?

I woke up this morning with a really clear view.
My answer as to “Why?” I hope you see it too.
Several years ago, I had a two pound baby boy
12 weeks premature… I felt anything but joy.
He wasn’t doing well, his life was hanging by a thread
Not knowing why this happened, my heart was filled with dread.
The doctors said he may not walk, his brain was full of blood
He wouldn’t learn, he may not talk, none of this was good.
I sat and wrote that very day, an email to my friends
Asking all of them to pray and then to please hit send.
Within a week, to my surprise, I had an inbox full of letters
Strangers sending hope our way, praying he’d get better.
They sent him home after 73 days but again, with not much hope
We had no clue of what may happen on this scary uphill slope.
On this day, he’s five years old and no one would never know.
He’s doing great, he’s really smart. He’s anything but slow.
As I said before, I woke today with an answer as to “why?”
I came to my desk to try and type and then began to cry.
My child was saved so I’d spread the word of what Jesus did for me.
I feel that’s why I rhyme so well. I want all the world to see.
Something big will come of this, I can feel it in my heart.
For now I’ll spread to my home town, but I know it’s just a start.

Click here to read Mortimer Book Review

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From My Bookshelf to Yours: Toonopolis: Gemini by Jeremy Rodden

Wow! What an unexpected and fun surprise this story was. It was an imaginative and original look into the world of cartoons. I found my self wanting more pictures. It was laugh out loud funny and kept me turning pages. I read this at the office in between clients and a couple of therapist poked their heads in to see what was so funny.

This is a story about a human, Gemini, who finds himself in a world full of toons were things are predictable but make sometimes make no sense. He is the supposed hero and is expected to save the toon world from a shadowy villian. I usually pride myself on being able to forsee the ending of a book, but I was taken by surprise by a certain revelation. I love how Jeremy, wove in facts about characters that will appear in his next books and left the readers with questions making them wnat more. I highly reccommend this for middle school and YA readers. and dad may want to take a peek (no shame).

*A free copy of this book was given to me for  a honest review.  No other compensation was provided for this review.

You can buy this book at:
Toonopolis: Gemini.
Amazon UK

Toonopolis Short: Anchihiiroo (it is currently free at Smashwords!)
Amazon UK: