#GIVEAWAY ~ Interview with Wanda Wyont, author of “Barkley’s Great Escape”!

Wanda WyontCOMMENT BELOW TO BE ENTERED INTO THE GIVEAWAY!

  1. When did you know you wanted to write a children’s book?

Annie, I have always been a storyteller. From the time I was a young girl, I wrote short stories. I use to say that I wanted to be an author. But with the demands of family and career, my dreams got put on the back burner. As a former college instructor, I taught Children’s Literature many times. During a class, I mentioned my own dreams of becoming a published author. One of my students challenged me to get my story published. I took her advice. A short time later my first book, Sunbeam, became a reality and it helped me get my second book published.

I knew that I needed to write Barkley’s Great Escape, after my daughter’s dog got into a neighbor’s swimming pool and nearly drowned. (The book is based on a true story). As a former early childhood instructor, I was aware of the high numbers of drownings among children. While I think the book is fun and entertaining, the message of water safety is not lost on the reader. For many young pre-readers, an adult will be reading the book. Hopefully, parents and teachers will use Barkley’s Great Escape as a tool to expand conversations about water safety. I shared the book recently with a group from the YMCA. The director told me that the story was right on target. It pleased me to hear that.

  • Are you planning any other books?

Yes. I have my third manuscript written. It is about several animals with special needs. As they adjust to their handicap, they discover rewarding jobs for their lives. The message in this book is for all children to recognize that a special need should not limit them from their goals.

I will submit the manuscript after my publicity period has slowed down for Barkley’s Great Escape. In addition to book signings, I am currently visiting libraries, colleges, schools, and child care centers. I have a presentation on the writing process that I share with elementary schools.

  • If yes, will they all involve a “safety lesson?”

I hope that all of my books have multiple lessons including safety. But, my third book will focus more on overcoming hardships. It is a positive story that I think children, parents, and teachers will like. One commonality of all of my books is that the leading characters are animals. I love animals and I think we can learn from them. Also, children identify with animals. They are uninhibited around animals. Recently, I was sharing Barkley’s Great Escape, at an elementary school. A second grader jumped up and announced that he had kissed his dog on the nose, too. I loved his spontaneity and the fact that he related to one of the characters.

  • What is your favorite children’s book, other than the one you wrote?

I love many children’s book. For young children, I like to read Mother Goose books. The rhyming words build phonetic skills. ABC books are important for young readers as long as the objects make sense. In other words, I like to see a picture of a rabbit to represent the letter “R” instead of using a picture of a rabbit to represent an “H” for hare. An adult should examine the ABC closely to make sure that the pictures coincide with the letter.

One of my favorite books is Miss Fannie’s Hats by Jan Karon. It is a great book and one that I love to share with a large group of children. It has a spiritual lesson about giving. I collect hats and this book provides a perfect opportunity for me to use my collection of hats. I take hats on and off throughout the story. This story gets the audience engaged!

  • Were you inspired by anything in particular?

In the case of Barkley’s Great Escape, I was inspired by Barkley to write about his experience. I felt compelled to write about water safety. I was hopeful that the adult readers would be reminded to keep gates locked and to be vigilant about other bodies of water. I use the opportunity to talk with groups of children about being safe around water.

After retiring from my position at Gaston College, I knew that I had the time to pursue my love of writing. My biggest inspiration was my grandfather. He lived to be 107 years old. He was driving his tractor and planting a garden at age 100. He visited the nursing homes in his area and shared stories. It never occurred to him that he was probably older than the residents. At age 65, I now have the time to write. I am inspired everyday by animals and people. I hope that I’m writing at 85.

  • How long did it take to write this story?

From the time I began writing until I was ready to send a proposal to the publisher, it took around three months. I write stories without regard to grammar or punctuation. After I get my thoughts down, I began the arduous task of cleaning-up and editing my writing. Once the manuscript meets my approval, it is time to share it with others. I like for others to read it for word flow and to begin looking for any errors. I read it to groups of children. I share it with librarians for their opinions. I make adjustments during this time based on other’s feedback.

One of the last individuals that looked over the story was a college English Instructor. She went through it looking for any errors..

There were some suggestions that I did not heed. For example, I have a few challenging words in my book. Several manuscript readers mentioned replacing the words with easier text. But, I don’t agree with the view. It is important for children to stretch their vocabulary. I would expect the adult reader to point out the words and clarify the meaning. As I read the story, I stop and say what you suppose the word “miffed” means? The children usually answer me correctly.

  • When and where do you do most of your writing?

With my laptop, I can be mobile. It is a luxury knowing you can work anywhere. I do have an office that provides a quiet space. I wrote Barkley’s Great Escape at my desk. However, the manuscript that I am working on now has required some research. I’ve visited several equine therapy facilities. I asked questions and take some pictures. Friends have invited me to stay overnight at their equine ranch in their bunkhouse. Hopefully, I can capture the feel of the environment as I add the finishing touches to the story.

It has been a pleasure responding to these questions. I hope that your readers will visit me on my website at www.wandawyont.com. I would love to hear from them. My book is available on my website BarkleysCompany, Amazon, and BarnesandNoble. (I will be glad to sign and inscribe a name for book orders coming from Barkley’s Company.)

Barkleys great escape

#SPOTLIGHT~”The Witch of Bourbon Street” by Suzanne Palmieri is available NOW!

witch of bourbon streetA series of murders in 1902 has left the Sorrow Estate abandoned by everyone but the ghosts of the dead. But Frances Green Sorrow was born with the “signs” that she can finally set them free. She lives an ordinary life, filled with its own struggles in the Louisiana bayou, but when her son goes missing, Frances is forced to return to her family’s haunted past, and finally learn the truth.

“The Lives Between Us” by Theresa Rizzo: You will be Moved!!

the lives between us

Take Jane Green and Jodi Picoult and mix them together, you would have Theresa Rizzo!!  Spectacular writer, Astounding story!!

“The lives between us” is about the controversial topic of Stem-Cell use, and creating embryos for the purpose of taking their stem cells.  I am always touched when an author can write about a tough subject with such heart and kindness.  Theresa Rizzo definitely has this talent.

We are introduced to Skye Kendell, a super loving Aunt to a child named Niki…right at the brink of Niki’s illness possibly taking her life.  Niki was desperately in need of a Heart Transplant.  The story begins with Niki in the hospital for a surgery to extract bone marrow, and Skye shows up to have a “sleep over” at the hospital.  I was so in love with Skye at this point; because like her, I do not have any children and my nieces and nephews are my true loves.  I could see that Skye loved Niki with the same fierceness I love my nieces and nephews.  It is about time I read a book where the Aunt is the main character.

Niki’s parents Faith and Peter are stuck with a few difficult decisions, beginning with saving their daughter, Niki.

Senator Hastings is against the use of stem cells for any use and Skye makes it her personal mission to take him down.  In the process Skye meets Mark Dutton who works for the Senator, and they begin a relationship that is going to change her life forever.

This story was very thought provoking.  Your heart will break.  You will be mad at certain things.

You will be moved!!

5 Stars.

Interview with Theresa Rizzo: Best-selling, award winning author that I had the pleasure to chat with!

the lives between us Theresa Rizzo

I connected with Theresa Rizzo, author of “The Lives Between Us”, and several other astounding novels.  She is simply amazing!  I know I need to read ALL of her books now.

Since this time, I have had the pleasure of reading her book, interview her and we will be doing an eBook GIVEAWAY of this book on Monday, July 13th, 2015.

As I work on the review, (You know I have a hard time when I really love a book)…Here is the amazing interview:

Q: When did you realize you were a novelist?
A: I always enjoyed creative writing. But when we had children, I wrote about them and    their escapades in my annual Christmas letter, and friends and family got such a kick out of my stories, I thought it was cool I could entertain them that way.

Q: Will all of your stories be hot topics, like in “The Lives Between Us”?:
A: Not all, but most. I like writing about things that fascinate me, but my stories always have a romance, because that’s what I enjoy. Love is the glue that holds relationships together.

My debut book, He Belongs to Me is a child custody battle story between parents and grandparents, Just Destiny revolves around a woman who fights for the right to have her dead husband’s baby. Just Beginning: The Prequel to Just Destiny is a straight romance requested by Just Destiny fans.

My next book, The Sound of Silence is a romantic suspense, but it also explores the disparity between the ultra-wealthy of Grosse Pointe and the poor/struggling neighbors next door in Detroit, right before Detroit declared bankruptcy.

Q: Do you find yourself compared to Jodi Picoult?
A: My books have been compared to Jodi Picoult’s. I think my writing style is less literary than hers, and I pretty much need to have a happy ending with my stories, and I’m not sure I would say Jodi’s books all have happy endings, but they do explore current issues and moral dilemmas.

Q: When do you typically write?  Where do you write?
A: I’m a binge writer, and I write in the mornings, afternoons or evenings or all three—or none. I write a bunch for many months on end to get a draft down, and then let it sit for a couple of weeks before going through numerous revisions.

I write all over my house. In my study, at my desk over my treadmill while I get my 10,000 daily steps in, on my family room couch, in my bedroom… pretty much wherever I feel like it. Not outside much… too many distractions.

Q: Then, I asked the “dangerous” question, that she was so kind to answer!  May I ask who your favorite authors are?
A: Oh, you ARE trying to get me into trouble aren’t you? There are so many, well, I can’t even name them all, but a few that come to mind are: Lisa Kleypas, Susan Collins—the Hunger Game series was pretty spectacular—Harlan Coban, Christine Feehan, Susan Wiggs and Jodi Picoult.

I would like to thank Theresa Rizzo for taking the time to answer these questions!  I am truly honored, and it was fun doing my very first interview with an author!

Jane Green delivers a message of hope with “Summer Secrets”

Jane GreenJane Green will never let me down.  Ever!

This review is difficult for me to write, because it was such a fabulous story.  I feel that most of us could relate to at least some of this story.  We are taken from England to Nantucket and back.  Both places are so magical to me, so that made it extra “delicious” for me to read.   Jane Green loves that word, Delicious!

We meet Cat, who will quickly grab hold of a special place in your heart.   Not because she is perfect, but because she is likable even though she isn’t.  But, who is perfect?

Cat is an alcoholic in serious denial, even stating that a “party didn’t get started” until she showed up.  She is very content with her drinking; believing that she really does not have a problem.  Until she meets Jason and thinks she can easily stop drinking to be with him.  Let’s just say it was not easy.  Her addiction was a lot harder to beat than she could have imagined, and watching the wake she left in her path was so devastating.

“Summer Secrets” was a great name for this book, because it was one secret after the next.  I found myself gasping often while reading this story, literally loving the twists and turns that this story took.  Jane Green is wonderful at weaving a story together, through many years and many secrets.

Cat’s addiction took away so many years of her life.  Watching it unfold almost makes you want to cry for her.  This is a remarkable story of redemption, family and love.

How far Cat falls before realizing she needs help, is terribly sad.

Jane Green delivers a wonderful message of hope.

5 Delicious Stars.

June’s Book Club Read ~ “Shelter Us” by Laura Nicole Diamond is Touchingly Brilliant!!

Shelter Us

“Shelter Us” by Laura Nicole Diamond

Touchingly Brilliant!!  I absolutely devoured this book!!  You know that means it is amazing!

No review I could write would do this story justice.  Few stories touch me in this way.  So, I will do the best I can….

Laura Nicole Diamond writes a truly evocative story.  Her words are so brilliantly weaved together, making this a gift for me to read.  I was enamored by each sentence.  Some people are meant to write, and Laura Nicole Diamond is definitely one of those writers.

“Shelter Us” is a story that will stay with you.  There are some things you will never look at the same, and things you will think about that may have once seemed “invisible”.

I felt such empathy for Sarah, because her daughter, Ella had passed away after only being alive for a mere six weeks.  Ella was found in her crib asphyxiated by her sheet, and Sarah believes she is to blame and cannot forgive herself.  Ella has been dead for three years, and the grief is still so strong that it is literally taking all of the joy out of Sarah’s life.  Sarah feels that her husband, Robert is getting along just fine.  He goes to work, takes care of the family, and he is an amazing father to their sons Oliver and Izzy.  Sarah is barely getting by and cannot fathom how Robert is managing so well.

I respected how both Sarah and Robert would both drop everything for their children.  Even if they were in the middle of a crisis, the boys came first.  They made sure that they did not need for anything. Maybe they were trying to make peace with losing Ella, by being “perfectly present parents” to Oliver and Izzy.  They had a lot of making up to do.

Sarah is barely getting through each day and beyond distraught about so many things.  Her marriage is crumbling without either noticing. An odd silence is building between them and it is certainly waning on their marriage.  Their relationship seems to be running on autopilot, and a lot of things go awry.  Secrets are kept, feelings are not discussed, and they are both dissolving.

She just tries to push through each step of her day, finally to go to bed thinking that “We have made it through another day”.  I must admit that I was exhausted just reading about how difficult simple everyday tasks were for her, I often felt like she was trying to get out of quicksand.

You know a story is good when you want to jump in and help save a character, or become their friend.  I felt awful when Sarah was able to get some time to herself and her first thought is, “I’ll finally get a break from holding my pieces together”.  She needed something.  Unsure of what that something was.

Then, one day she is driving downtown when she passes by a young woman named Josie with a child in a stroller, apparently homeless.  Sarah pulled over to give her Oliver’s lunch box filled with his meal for school.  Sarah was so drawn to help this girl and her child.  Will saving this homeless girl somehow fix the hole in her heart?  Or, would this whole thing be a bad idea? Who would be saving who, if she did help?  Who is the person that needs shelter?  Is it anyone in particular, or everyone?

Anyone that reads my reviews knows that I do not like to give the story away…so, I will stop here, so that you can truly enjoy each turn of the page of this wonderfully crafted story.

5 Stars.