Friday, August 26, 2016

The Whizbang Machine, by Danielle A. Vann, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Elizabeth is an extraordinarily mature fifteen year old girl.  Of course, her life circumstances have caused her to grow up faster than most kids her age.  An only child, her father passed away a few short weeks after her grandmother's death.  So when her grandfather, bereaving and heartbroken, escaped reality to travel the world, she and her mother were left to pick up the pieces of their lives on their own.  Now, eight years later, Elizabeth's grandfather has returned home with a mysterious typewriter which he believes is somehow connected to his family, and in particular, to Elizabeth.

The Whizbang Machine is an incredibly suspenseful book which will have readers of all ages eagerly turning pages with enthusiasm as they wait to see what will become of Elizabeth and her eccentric grandfather, Jack.  Author Danielle A. Vann displays rare talent as a story-teller in this thrilling book which will leave readers anxiously awaiting the sequel to this delightfully engaging read.

The Whizbang Machine is highly recommended for home and school libraries and 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

Author Spotlight - Lincoln Cole on his 2016 Award Winning Book



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
When I was about ten and reading Stephen King, I knew I wanted to do that when I grew up. I loved to read and I wanted to tell stories just like he did. I also loved Goosebumps and anything sci-fi or fantasy. 
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
I wanted to be a writer from pretty much as soon as I wanted to be anything. 
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
I wanted to contribute to the conversations dealing with social issues and the problems America is facing. 
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
I don't have a favorite line, but I do have a favorite scene, and that is when Richard and Jason are getting ready to close for the night and Richard confronts his brother. The way the conversation flips on him is something I worked hard on.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Jason is most like me because of the personality. Richard is more like my brother.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I wanted people who read the book to be able to take something away. I didn't want to stereotype anyone and to specifically avoid using gender or racial identifiers that are considered the 'norm'. This has actually caused a lot of readers to shy away from the story because they expect people to act like the ones they see in real life.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
Ripples Through Time (2015 Literary Classics Award Winning Book)
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
I get sidetracked easily and often have five-ten different stories in progress at a time. 
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
Stephen King. 
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
Stephen King's On Writing changed my entire style and helped me become a much better writer.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Right now I would say winning Kindle Scout to get a Kindle Press contract for Raven's Peak. I worked incredibly hard on the thirty day campaign and managed to win out over hundreds of other awesome books. 
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Not really. I just like to sit down and put the words on paper. I prefer rewriting. 
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?
I started out self-publishing and then moved on to trying out Kindle Scout to try and get a contract, but I still don't have an agent. 
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE COMPLETION/PUBLISH DATE/OR OTHER OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I went out to dinner with my wife and we had a nice evening together! 
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Just keep working at it. The biggest mistake you can make is thinking you're getting good at writing because you should always be improving. If each book is better than the last then you are doing something right. 
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Get it in front of people. No matter how good it is, if people never see it then it won't sell. Sometimes you might buy an advertisement and it won't sell any copies, but it's still getting seen, and maybe the next time or the time after that someone will buy it. It's a slow process, marketing. 
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
When you find an author you like, let them know that their books meant something! Positive feedback gives me the confidence to keep trying. 
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I'm working on my science fiction series right now and the sequel to Raven's Peak
Hopefully I'll have two new books from the Graveyard of Empires series and another Raven's Peak book out by the end of this year. That's the current goal! All of them will be up on Amazon! 

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Author Spotlight - J. Everett Prewitt on his award winning book, A Long Way Back



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY? 
When I was young, I didn’t read many positive books about black families. None of the books represented my experience growing up with a strong and accomplished mother, father, aunt and uncles. After videotaping my parents one year, I was inspired to write a fictional book, Snake Walkers, about a black family that overcame insurmountable odds because of their commitment to each other.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? 
I wanted to be businessman. I didn’t know what, but I majored in business and eventually became president of my own company.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE? 
Returning from war is both a physical and a mental journey. The title, A Long Way Back, relates to both.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? “It’s funny how just a few minutes in your life can dictate your whole future.” In a number of instances in the book, spur-of-the-moment decisions resulted in long term consequences and even death. In this particular setting, Colonel Bertram killed his wife in a fit of rage resulting in his imprisonment for life.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? 
Raymond Williams, a former army officer, plays a minor part in this story. He played a larger role in my first book, Snake Walkers. However, I had a war experience similar to Anthony Andrews.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
For a group to overcome obstacles, you must unite and agree on a plan of action that allows you to succeed.
TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: 
In college, I used to write compositions for my roommate. He received a B grade from the course; I received a C.
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE? 
The book that most influenced me was The Writer’s Journey, by Christopher Vogler. His influence was more about structure than style. I became so engrossed in the book that I missed a plane coming back to Cleveland.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? 
The African Origin of Civilization by Cheikh Anta Diop. This book encouraged me to read further about Africans and their accomplishments and enlightened me about Africa’s place in world history.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? 
I won a number of awards for Snake Walkers, but finishing behind Amy Tan in a literary contest was a highlight.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS? 
When I’m stalled, I read books similar to mine, or I read a book about writing. I typically write in the morning, but sometimes when an idea emerges, I’ll write whatever time it is.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I was never good at soliciting, so, I created my own publishing company and financed the creation and marketing of both my books.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE PUBLISHING OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
I’m pretty laid back, so I made an announcement to my family and friends, drank a few glasses of Pinot Noir and went to sleep.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS? 
Write because you are passionate about your story, not because you want to make money. If the novel is good enough, the money will come. If not, you have added another footnote to your legacy.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? 
An inordinate amount of time is required to promote. Create a website, blog, and e-mail; draw reader’s attention to your writing during the development of your book, be prepared to invest both time and money in continual promotion. Learn the art of promotion as you have the art of writing. Do not think that because you have a great book it will sell itself.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? Everybody has a story. The key to a good novel, though, is writing a story that others want to read.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?  My next book, Something About Ann, is a novella with short stories that pertain to each of the characters in A Long Way Back after the war is over.

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

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Author Spotlight: Award Winning Author, Dr. Bon Blossman, on her award winning book



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?: My father is a surgeon, but a poet in his free time. Being inspired by him, I took a stab at writing my first novel in the 1990's under his guidance. A few books later, I published my first one in 2007. I always said I would turn my hobby into my life, and I was able to quit my full-time job and follow my dreams almost ten years ago. 
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? An actress and a surgeon like my father. I'm a producer and am playing a role in my first short film (Dinner is Served), and I hope it does well in film festivals! I did earn my Ph.D. in physiology - my dad's a medical doctor, but that's close enough! Writing has always been a love of mine, but I never saw myself doing it full time. 
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?: This book is volume five in the YA Fiona Frost Murder Mystery Series. Fiona Frost is a seventeen-year-old criminal investigator who works in close collaboration with the crime lab as part of a grant-funded forensic training program. Each novel follows a murder case - which is often met with twists of the supernatural. The series builds energy in Fiona's life from the start, and it was time she gained a bit of federal experience. I worked closely in the planning stages with an FBI agent to ensure my story would be inspiring to young people, and not just purely fiction - as far as FBI procedures go and how they'd deal with younger interns. 
I like to think of Fiona Frost as a modern-day Nancy Drew but with more forensic science built into the criminal investigations as opposed to strict 'Sherlock Holmes-style sleuthing.' 
TELL US SOMETHING FUN ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: I am a murder mystery writer. I own a company (My Mystery Party) and have written over 100 murder mystery party games. I also write murder mystery novels. I am certain that with the hundreds of topics I research on the internet involving details of how to get away with murder - I am most likely on many government watch lists! Even though I may know best on how to get away with it - I'm harmless! I promise! 
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?: My father shaped my early writing experience, but in later years I would say my idol is J.K. Rowling (I am an enormous Harry Potter fan) and think she is a legend. 
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?: Other than the Harry Potter series, I would say the most impact a book has made is The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. Even though I read it over 30 years after the release, it was amazing to me, and I could relate to it. With my background in science, I enjoyed the mix of science, suspense and intrigue. 
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?: Winning the gold seal for volume 4, and now the silver seal for volume 5 from Literary Classics! I hope to win many more in the future, as well. 
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?: Write every day, never give up. Don't expect to publish your first novel. Write it, revise it, revise it ten more times and put it in a drawer (or hard drive folder) and move on to your next. With each novel you write, you improve and fine-tune what is coming from your heart and onto the paper. Don't let rejection letters get you down - the best authors have plenty of them. 
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Social media is the best way in today's world. There are many ways to promote your novel on Amazon such as free giveaways and signing up with Kindle Select. Amazon even has a Kindle Scout program where the readers decide if you get published. Also, you can offer your book as a free promotion to get readers. Hopefully, these readers will give you glowing reviews, and you'll get snowball action from there. 
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?: Don't give up on your dream. Even if you are just starting, and the end goal seems like it is on top of Mount Everest, and you're at the bottom of the mountain - keep your eyes on the goal and don't sweat the small stuff. You will fail. You will fail many times. But in the end, you'll succeed. 
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?: Taking a short break from the Fiona Frost Mystery Series (Blood Dolls was published the day of the contest deadline, so it's hot off the press). I'm currently collaborating with my son (Zakk Myer) on a YA thriller novel with a working title The Island. He's a student at The University of Texas and a gifted writer. We're going to see what a mother/son team can do! Then, it's back to Fiona Frost for another compelling murder case. 
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR NEXT BOOK, WHEN IT WILL BE AVAILABLE, AND WHERE IT CAN BE PURCHASED:
 We are still writing, but our publication schedule has the draft in the editor's hands by the time Zakk heads back to school - then, we're looking at a late winter / early spring release. 
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Author Spotlight: Edward Parr on his award winning title, Kingdoms Fall



WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
I can’t say that I ever decided to become a writer. As the centenary of the First World War neared, it became a subject that I wanted to learn more about and a subject that I wanted to translate into something that others could appreciate. The form of Kingdoms Fall, as an entertaining espionage, political, and military historical thriller came out of that objective. I really enjoyed writing the novel and am currently considering another subject to write about. They say everyone has one great novel in them. Perhaps when I complete my second novel I will consider myself a real writer.
AS A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU ASPIRE TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
A spy, thanks to James Bond, of course.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
When I first chose to write about the First World War, my intent was to write a trilogy in which each novel would focus on the disintegration of one the three great monarchies that existed at the time the war began: The Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire, and the German Empire. As I continued to conduct research, I realized that the story would necessarily involve the impact of the war on the rest of Europe, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, and the United States, as well. Still, the concept of the collapsing traditional systems of power and government remained a central theme, and when I accidentally discovered Psalm 46, I knew that “Kingdoms Fall” would express both the subject of the story and the destruction of war:
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
~Psalm 46


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
One of my favorite lines is character James Wilkins’ triumphant statement: “If there is a Hell, David, you will certainly be there, but you damn well won’t deserve it.” So much of what the protagonist spies do is morally ambiguous, in some cases outright wrong, but they are nevertheless compelled to do what they believe will serve their nation and win the war. In some instances, such actions have a personal cost; in others, they arbitrarily do not. I believe this expresses something about the amorality of war and the horrible toll exacted from soldiers and civilians.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
I would like to believe that I have in me a little of the more positive characteristics of both David Gresham and James Wilkins, even though I likely have some of the less positive characteristics as well.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
The First World War has often been labeled “The Forgotten War” since it was so quickly overshadowed by the Second. Yet I think it is important to place World War I, in context, as an unfortunate part of the long on-going evolution of human civilization, to understand where the conflict came from and the extent to which the combatant nations were left in ruins. It should come as no surprise that violent opportunists like Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin leapt in to fill the voids left by the war. But also the First World War made it possible for our more democratic civilization to arise from the autocracies of past centuries. I created a companion website, www.kingdomsfallnovels.com, as a source for readers to learn more about the war, and on my Facebook page, www.facebook.com/KingdomsFallNovel, I regularly post on the 100th anniversary of actual events that occur in the novel.
TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
It took me about four years to write all three volumes of the novel, and during that time a great many people shared with me their own family histories of the First World War, from families forced to flee the Armenian genocide, to great-grandfathers who served in the trenches in France. I myself learned for the first time that my great-uncle, William Parr, served in France tending wounded soldiers. It’s amazing to me how many people have personal connections to this enormous event that no one seems to talk about.




WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE?
By far the greatest writing influence for this work was Bernard Cornwell. I read and greatly enjoyed his series of “Richard Sharpe” novels set during the Napoleonic Wars which are light-hearted and enjoyable to read but also make it possible to understand major events and a whole period of history. I would also cite, as influences, Patrick O’Brian, John Le CarrĂ©, Ian Fleming, and John Buchan, the World War I era mystery and suspense writer whose style and language I attempted to bring into my own work set in the same era.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE?
George Eliot’s Middlemarch: “[T]he growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Perhaps my greatest accomplishment was just finishing the novel! More seriously, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the positive comments I have received in online reviews from total strangers; it makes the whole effort so worthwhile. And, of course, I am very proud of and grateful for my awards from Literary Classics.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS?
Writing is a surprisingly rigorous activity. It takes a great deal of concentration to keep all the threads of character, story and themes in your head as you write, and I found it best to write in the mornings after a hot shower and a strong cup of coffee, then focus on getting out at least one or two pages a day. Those pages quickly add up to a full length book.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
I made only a small attempt to find an agent, especially after I heard horror stories from a couple professional authors. In the end, I decided to focus more on writing and less on becoming a writer. I decided it was more important to get my novel out to readers than to sell myself. Self-publishing was a great alternative for me. I’ve found the process a great deal of fun, and I believe that a track-record of strong written work will attract new opportunities in the future.
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE PUBLISH DATE OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
A self-published author’s work is never done! I celebrated my publication by updating websites and emailing friends and colleagues.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS?
Having only published my original trilogy, I may not be qualified to answer this question, but I would say this: If you walk into any bookstore today, you will see countless professionally published books that are just awful, and the worst are the ones likely to sell the most copies. Honestly, anyone can do just as well or better on their own. We are privileged to live in an age when anyone can publish their work and make it instantly available to the entire world. Write what you love, get it out there, and let your work find its own audience.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
Three things have been especially successful for me in promoting my book: Identifying and targeting blogs and online groups with related subject matter interests, especially those that are willing to read and publish reviews of your work; Amazon’s KDP Select’s free book and price promotions are great for distribution; and network your friends, family and colleagues to find book clubs that will read your book.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
Writing and reading are truly rewarding activities, and I would encourage everyone to write, to publish, and to read as many books as you can.
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
I am now conducting research for a novel set in the United States about a progressive rock band. I plan to begin writing in the next year.

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

Monday, July 25, 2016

A Pigeon's Tale, by S.A. Mahan, earns the CLC Seal of Approval



Walter, a young pigeon, is thrust into a world filled with danger and excitement after fleeing his family nest which is attacked by a wildcat. Following his traumatic departure he finds friendship and support from a flock of city dwelling pigeons. Walter befriends a mentor, named Old Dude, who helps him learn to read (and eventually type), allowing him to talk to humans. When threat of a cataclysmic event arises Walter becomes a critical part of the solution to the world's imminent demise.

Readers will relate to Walter's struggles, and rejoice with him in his successes.  The characters have wonderfully engaging personalities and their conversations are simply enchanting. This is truly a wonderful story, one which kids will want to read and re-read. There is humor, love, adventure, drama and excitement.  The author introduces scientific concepts in a manner which educates while entertaining young readers.  The information presented about pigeons is fascinating.  A delightful character, Walter always strives to excel; he is a proud, but humble bird with great determination!

S.A. Mahan's A Pigeon's Tale is highly recommended for home and school libraries and 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

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Mystical Aria, Seeking the Gallion Queen, by Jean Neff Guthrie, earns the CLC Seal of Approval



Aria, a psychic preteen, has an incredible vision of another world. Using her tDiary (sort of a futuristic Ipad) she records her vision, as well as her desire to meet residents from that world.  To her surprise, her comment is responded to via communications through her tDiary, and eventually plans are made for Aria to visit the Gallions. The initial meeting of the two cultures does not go smoothly, but then Aria finally makes a pleasant connection with the Gallions only to find that her father has arrived on the scene while on an extraterrestrial  military mission.

Aria and her friends are given special gifts which allow them to interact with the universe in unique ways. Each child has a different gift with its own unique attributes.  There is a great moral to this story in which they must learn to overcome individual challenges on their own. The kids learn they are stronger and more capable than they had first believed.  A fabulous adventure, with elements of fantasy and science fiction, this book is sure to appeal to young readers.  The author's descriptions of the Gallion characters brings to life a charming, and entirely unique world. Her delightful sense of humor is shown in wonderfully imaginative scenes which add great depth to this terrific book for young readers.

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

Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories, by Eileen Stephenson, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval



Tales of Byzantium: A Selection of Short Stories, by Eileen Stephenson, offers three short stories of war, love and conflict in the Byzantine era.  Book one tells of a young girl whose rightful position on the throne is usurped by her father who desires the throne for one of his sons. Helena had been betrothed as an infant to her scholarly husband. It was a marriage in name only until Helena decides she will no longer be overlooked.

Book two concerns a commander of military forces who is sent to save a town about to be under siege. The men under his command are nowhere near sufficient to handle the enemy's onslaught. Comnenus devises a very creative plan to outsmart the enemy, which allows him and his men to abandon the city (which is now without food and supplies) and travel home safely.

In the third book, Anna Comnena is consigned to a convent (royal speak for imprisoned at a convent). To occupy her mind she documents the history of her beloved father. Her tales remain critical to historians, providing valuable information on Byzantium to this day.

All three stories are told in a pleasant, matter-of-fact manner --likened to how a parent might explain complex history to their child. Horror, death, betrayal and deceit are explained simply and factually. This book offers a unique perspective on a fascinating era.  This is the way history lessons should be taught. The stories are based on fact, yet are marvelously complex and enjoyable. Eileen Stephenson regales readers with delightful story telling. Anyone with an interest in ancient history will ravenously devour these tales.  With only three short stories, this collection leaves the reader wanting for more.



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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Author Jackie Minniti on Her Award Winning Title, Jacqueline


WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND WHY?
I’ve dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was a child, most of my friends idolized actors and singers, but I always admired writers and wanted to be one of them. As a kid, I “published” a little handwritten newspaper using carbon paper (truly old school!) that I sold for a nickel. I began writing stories in elementary school. In high school, I dabbled in poetry and was on the staff of the literary magazine. I minored in English in college and concentrated more on journalism after I graduated. But I never really had the time to pursue writing seriously until I retired and my kids were grown. I’m so blessed to have finally had my childhood dream come true!
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE?
Jacqueline was inspired by an experience my dad had while stationed in Rennes, France with the 127th General Hospital shortly after D-Day. A little girl named Jacqueline, who lived near the barracks, began following him to and from the military hospital where he worked as a pharmacist. A beautiful friendship blossomed, and when the 127th was transferred to another city, my father promised her that if he ever had a daughter, he would name her Jacqueline. This was the only war story Dad was willing to share, and it became part of our family lore.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? 
My favorite line is from the epilogue when a grown-up Jacqueline is reminiscing with Bernardo about the people they knew in Rennes during the war. Bernardo says, “We must never forget what they sacrificed to give us the world we enjoy today. Some, like your father, gave all, but all gave some.” This is one of the core concepts I want young readers to take from the story.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? 
I like to think there’s some of me in Jacqueline. We share a certain feisty quality, and we’re both a little stubborn. We want to do things our own way, and we’re both animal lovers. But I think she’s a lot braver than I’d be if I were in her situation. The thought of being in a dark cellar with bombs falling overhead terrifies me!
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
One of my primary reasons for writing Jacqueline was to help young readers learn about the sacrifices made by the veterans of the Greatest Generation to safeguard the freedoms they now enjoy. With the emphasis on “social studies,” history has taken a back seat. I believe that those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it, so I hope Jacqueline will help keep that from happening. I also wanted young readers to get a feel for what life is like in a country where freedom is limited by an overarching government. Maybe it will help them appreciate how fortunate they are to live in America.
TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: 
When I was in the process of submitting Jacqueline to publishers, I became very discouraged.After many rejections and a few near misses, I finally decided to let go and let God. Soon after that, I got the call from Anaiah Press offering me a contract. I was over the moon! I began researching Anaiah and was curious about the name. I discovered that Anaiah is Hebrew for “God answers.” That really gave me goosebumps. 
WHICH AUTHOR HAS MOST GREATLY INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING STYLE? 
I can’t narrow it down to just one, but I admire Stephen King’s mastery of story, J.R.R. Tolkien’s ability to create a sense of place, Ray Bradbury’s use of figurative language and Maeve Binchy’s warm, memorable characters. I like to think my writing has been influenced by all of them, but I think writers are influenced on some level by every book (good or bad) that they read.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? 
Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine. It’s a beautiful little coming-of-age story set in a kinder, gentler time. I first read it in middle school, and I fell in love. It was the first book that truly transported me to a different place. It was magical, and I wanted to create that kind of magic. I adored Bradbury’s lush, descriptive writing and started writing short stories in the Bradbury style. I reread Dandelion Wine every few years, and the story never gets old. Depending on where I am in my life, I see it in a new light.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? 
Even though Jacqueline is my second novel, I consider it my greatest literary accomplishment. It’s my first traditionally published book, and that means a lot to me. And since this was a story my dad had been asking me to write for years, putting the book in his hands on his 99th birthday was one of the proudest moments of my life. He passed away 7 months later, and I’m so grateful that he had a chance to read it and I have that moment to remember.
DO YOU HAVE ANY WRITING RITUALS? 
It's not really a ritual, but I’m NOT a morning person, so I get my best writing done in the evening when everyone’s asleep (including our macaws) and the house is quiet. This seems to be the opposite of what most writers do.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED?  
Since Jacqueline’s faith was an important part of her life and a subtext of the story, I decided to submit to faith-based and Christian publishers. I got a few nibbles, but when Anaiah finally offered me a contract, I knew Jacqueline had found the perfect home. My experience with them has been wonderful!
WHAT DID YOU DO TO CELEBRATE THE PUBLISH DATE OF YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? 
On the day Jacqueline was published, I received a gorgeous floral arrangement from my children and grandkids. That evening, my husband took me to my favorite restaurant for dinner with some close friends, and we toasted the event with champagne.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF BECOMING PUBLISHED AND ANY TIPS YOU MIGHT OFFER FOR OTHER ASPIRING AUTHORS? 
It took a full, grueling year of query letters, rejections, and near misses before I landed the contract with Anaiah. When I was going through the submission process, I’d often get discouraged and wonder why I was putting myself through this instead of walking on the beach. But it was worth all the frustration and stress to finally hold that published book in my hands. So don’t give up. Keep writing. Develop a thick skin, believe in yourself, and someday you’ll get there too.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? 
Never underestimate the power of social media. I spend a lot of time on the computer promoting both my books. It also helps to have a good publicist. Someone with contacts can open doors that you never knew were there.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 
Not many people know that the soldier on the cover of Jacqueline is my father, and the little girl is the real Jacqueline. Since we were unable to locate her to obtain permission to use her likeness, the cover artist photoshopped her face out and replaced it with mine from a photo taken when I was Jacqueline’s age. So the cover has a special meaning for me.


WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? 
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? 
I’m toying with the idea of a middle grade historical fiction set in Boston during the Revolutionary War. It’s currently in the planning phase. I’ve done some research, and have a very rough outline and some ideas for characters. I’ve been playing with several plot lines but that’s about as far as it’s gone. I plan to visit Boston to do more research. I’m hoping that will give me the inspiration I need to start writing.

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