Review of Penelope Anne Cole’s Magical Matthew

It is my pleasure to introduce Penelope Anne Cole and her picture book for kids ages 4-9, Magical Matthew.  This books is published by Guardian Angel Publising





Penelope Anne Cole is an observer. When she noticed a child moving into “double digits,” she wondered how she could put this aging process into a book for children. Magical Matthew is the result. She herself is much like Matthew; she has worked helping people as a Human Resources person and as a teacher. Ms. Cole has a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Jose State University and a Masters in Human Development Education from the University of Maryland.

What kid wouldn’t want to have special powers—like the one Matthew has? Matthew can magically fix things, but he keeps it a secret for a long time. It’s important that whoever learns about the secret can be trusted. Lily, Matthew’s good friend, helps him find things that need to be fixed. When she figures out about the secret power, Matthew shares everything with his grandma. Grandma wonders if Lily can be trusted and Matthew says he thinks she can. But suddenly Matthew no longer has his power. He lost his last baby tooth and this is a signal that he’s getting too old. At first he’s angry, but Grandma convinces him there are other ways to fix things, even though those ways take more effort. He and Lily will continue to do good deeds. But the power to fix things isn’t lost. When you read the book you will see how the spirit of helpfulness lives on!

Kevin Collier’s illustrations show just how excited and astonished Matthew is when he realizes he has this power and later, his disappointment when he outgrows it. It’s very interesting the way Kevin interpreted Penelope’s poem about the way Matthew sees himself. Together, Penelope and Kevin have created characters whom young readers will be happy to know and parents will find trustworthy.

disclaimer: I purchased a copy of Magical Matthew from Guardian Angel Publishing in order to review it. I enjoyed it and think it is a worthwhile book to  add to any child’s collection. The book is also available at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.

Guest author Kai Strand

Greetings to All,

You will remember the name Kai Strand because I reviewed her book, THE WEAVER, some time ago.


Kai has written another middle grade book, but this one is not of a fantasy nature. It’s about youngsters who could be students in any school in this country.  And actually, it’s all too true as to what can happen when a person becomes a nationally recongnized figure. The name of the book is SAVE THE LEMMINGS.

Kai, will you give us an overview of SAVE THE LEMMINGS? I think we’re all interested in how this typical American Girl’s life intersects with the legend we’re all familiar with. This brings up the question of legends and old wives tales that we would also like to hear more about.

Thanks, Barbara. I would love to tell you about my young inventor, Natalie, and how the lemmings help her get a grasp on the important things in life.

Eighth  grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. Will Natalie be able to overcome the lies being printed about her?

Well, Natalie uses the media to turn everyone’s attention away from herself to her pet project: saving the lemmings. As her arch enemy, Trudy, sarcastically said (even though it was true): “When life gives you lemmings, you make lemmingade….”

I think we’re now ready to hear what you have to tell us about LEMMING TRIVIA AND OTHER OLD WIVES TALES.  

First, about lemmings blindly committing mass suicide.

Lemmings are solitary creatures except during migration. They bunch up along cliffs and dive into the water to swim long distances. Unfortunately some lemmings die of exhaustion or hunger. But they are not committing mass suicide.

(Cute little critters, aren’t they?)

Some wives tales are ridiculously false:

Don’t cross your eyes, they’ll stay that way. How many of you tempted fate as a child and kept your eyes crossed until the optic nerves grew tender? Sure enough, you’re not staring at your nose today.

Others are thankfully false:

Knuckle cracking does not cause arthritis I’m happy (and relieved) to report. My hips crack loudly when I reach toward my toes. When I was a kid I got such a kick out of scaring people with the loud crack and then making a face as if it hurt. Their horrified expressions were so entertaining. Blessedly I’m not hobbling around on arthritic hips today.

Some wives tales are regrettably false:

Were you ever told that swallowing your gum was bad for you because it takes seven years to digest? If that were the case that would make for a great weight loss program! Just swallow enough gum to suppress your appetite.

It’s a shame that shaving your hair doesn’t really make it grow back thicker, darker and coarser. It would put Rogaine out of business!

But some are true:

Drinking a warm glass of milk really can help you sleep. Milk contains tryptophan and will indeed aid your trip to slumber land.

If you hold an aspirin between your legs, you won’t get pregnant. It’s true. Think about it.

A few wives tales have a kernel of truth to them:

Chicken soup is good for a cold. The veggies and chicken can mitigate the inflammation associated with a common cold. It won’t cure you, but it may offer some relief.

Thanks, Kai. Now lets hear a little about yourself.

I write fiction for middle grade and young adult readers. My debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale is set in the same storytelling village as The Weaver. I am a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in our household is laughter. The second most common is, “Do your dishes!” My family and I  hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where we call home.

 Kai, it sounds as if you lead an exciting life.

Thanks for inviting me to be on Stories a la Mode, Barbara. It’s been a pleasure.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.

Pick up your copy of Save the Lemmings here:


Interview with author Alyce Joy Rininger

Welcome All:

If you leave a comment, I will put your name in the hat for the drawing of a free hard copy of Alyce Joy Rininger’s book, KA-BOOM!




I made up verses for my little ones, while getting them ready for bed. At the time, they were two and three years old. They were so adorable trying to memorize them and pronouncing the words was just too cute. We thought we were having fun, but actually, it was the beginning of something not to be known, until many years later.

Eventually, I wrote the verses down on paper. In 1975, my husband, Arland, had them made into a booklet. He also had them printed on sheets of pastel colored paper. Soon I was making plaques out of scrap wood I had burned. The verses on colored paper were soaked in warm tea water and burned around the edges, then glued to the burned plaques and varnished. I sold them in my husband’s booths at the Sportsman Shows. The women liked coming into our booths.

 When my children turned into my grandchildren, I began writing them stories. That is when I seemed to be guided into writing books by my family and friends. After burning life-sized pictures of wildlife onto all the doors of my home, I decided to put away my burning tools and get serious about writing. I took a course by mail, at the Institute of Children’s Literature, to learn how to properly put my thoughts on paper.

Yes, I have writing quirks. Number one, when I’m making notes to myself, I switch from writing to printing, back to writing, then printing etc, etc. I don’t know why I do that. Another quirk is, sometimes when I’m writing, my mind starts working too fast and it gets boggled. I will stop and work on a Sudoku puzzle for a while. It works.

I’m into quirky words and names for my stories. The kids seem to perk up when they are learning something silly, weird or different. A lot of my quirkiness comes straight from the dictionary. One last quirk for now…my pens are always disappearing from every phone on the main floor of this house. I accused my husband of taking them, until I kept finding them in my office. No, I never accuse him anymore, since I pretty much know where I’ll find them.


KA-BOOM! is about a little fairy named Sprout who runs into trouble quite often. This little fairy is in the service of her queen, the beloved Splaminda Herminda, who rules Spritesville. The queen sends Sprout to different places to do whatever job needs done. Sprout meets a little girl named Taylor after blowing up Taylor’s dollhouse. Sprout doesn’t give up trying to get Taylor to trust her. She and Taylor finally become friends after Sprout shrinks Taylor and together they have a fantastic adventure. Taylor never thought she would be talking to Sir Leapsalot, let alone ride on his back and hopping lily pads. The message? Never give up.



KA-BOOM! is published by Halo Publishing International. Here is the link where you will find Alyce Joy Rininger’s page with the buy link to KA-BOOM!

Diane Kress Hower is my Guest Today

Today is special because my guest is a member of my Picture Book Critique Group—the Pens and Brushes. As the name indicates, the group is made up of both writers and artists. Diane Kress Hower is adept at both writing and illustrating and especially photography.

Diane reviews books on KKCO-tv Morning Show in Grand Junction, Colorado. Her humor comes across in the ratings she gives books; she uses apples, with the worst books being “rotten to the core.” Here is the address of her blog, Book Wisdom by Diane:

When Diane is not writing/illustrating or supporting others in her private practice, she volunteers as the Local Area Coordinator for the West Slope, Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and as a Commissioner on the City of Grand Junction, Commission on Arts And Culture.

Hi Diane, Welcome to Stories a la Mode. I’m happy to introduce you to my other critique group members, fellow Angels and Musers, and relatives.

Those are beautiful and impressive mountains behind you in this picture, Diane. You are understandably proud of them.

Diane, please share with us the way in which you became Passionate about Picture Books.


 I was put under a spell by picture books a very long time ago and the spell has never been broken.  I found myself absorbed in the art and text. There was a time where I would choose a book by the art.  Then when I was an elementary school counselor, I used literature, mainly picture books, in most of my classroom guidance lessons.  I worked in rural schools with many second language learners.  The pictures were often essential in my teaching concepts with children from different cultural backgrounds.  Whether I was in a kindergarten class or sixth grade, everyone loved the read-a-loud picture book.  I absolutely love reading picture books out-loud.  Since my husband will most likely not read this post, I will share that when we were dating, I asked him to sit and listen to me read through my favorite stack of picture books and then tell him why the book was so important to me.  He did not bat an eye or complain, so he passed the test!

When you are writing a pb manuscript, what area of the story do you get the most satisfaction in developing and exploring?


I love the idea that comes to me from what seems to be thin air.  I like playing with the idea and the main character.  A part of that is naming the character and is essential as it gives depth and life to him or her which then expands into the story.

What part of the story do you find the most frustrating or difficult to develop and why? 

 This is a tough question because I really love to write and am a perfectionist. I think the “perfect” beginning and the “perfect” ending to a story are difficult to develop.   Your first sentence either hooks the reader or not, and you can have an idea of what you want to happen at the end, but the last page has to bring the story full circle and have an “ahhh” to please me.  I actually like the challenge.

Diane, if you could choose one pb author, author/illustrator, or illustrator to spend a day with, who would that be and what would you want to receive from your time with them? 


This is hard to narrow down as I have so many illustrators and authors that I admire for very different reasons.  If it had to be just one, I would choose David Wiesner.  I love his books. My favorite is FLOTSAM.  His images are dynamic and move the story through with tightly crafted design elements. His ability to pace the story with the use of scale, point of view, imagination and humor is absolutely masterful.  I would want to pick his brain and understand where his ideas and creativity comes from. 


Finally, what was your favorite picture book as a child.  And is it still on your list of favorites?


My favorite picture/story book was the Little Golden Book, The Bremen Town Musicians.  I have always been very fond of animals, particularly dogs and horses. I enjoyed how the animals joined in the group and worked together and found happiness.  I was bullied a lot so I appreciated them “getting” the robbers, and I grew up in a musical family.    My second favorite sort – of- picture book was an early reader by one of my favorites P.D. Eastman, Go, Dogs, Go.  There is nothing better than a dog party.  Tire of dogs?  Never. Ever. Dog Tired.

Some of you might recall that I was a guest on Diane’s blog to talk about my Passion for Picture Books and show off my covers for Wounds and Fantastic Flight:

On that blog you will find interviews of other picture book writers who discuss their Passion for Picture Books.

 Diane, it has been a pleasure having you on the blog today. Thanks for coming and please come back.


Review of Marva Dasef’s Scotch Broom

Welcome, Marva Dasef, MuseItUp author, to Stories a la Mode. I’m excited to tell everyone about your latest accomplishment.

Hi Folks,

If you’ve already read the first two books of Marva’s Witches of Galdorheim series, then I’ll bet you’ve been eagerly anticipating the next book. Wait no longer.  Scotch Broom has arrived.










SCOTCH BROOM: Book 3 of The Witches of Galdorheim

A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.

Marva Dasef:

MuseItUp Buy Link: – Available beginning April 6th

Scotch Broom Trailer:

Here is an overlook of the exciting book:

Kat expects to have a great time on her graduation trip to Stonehenge. However, from the moment she leaves the witches’ arctic island, Galdorheim, she gets in nothing but trouble.  Her younger half-brother tries to horn in on her trip, she gets lost in the magical Otherworld realm, is led astray by a supposed friend, then she has to confront a Scottish goddess who’s fallen on hard times.

While dodging the goddess’ minions and trying to find her way out of the Otherworld, Kat soon learns she shouldn’t underestimate the old has-been for one second; the crone still has a few tricks that can drain a witch’s magic in a flash. To make matters worse, Kat’s brother secretly followed her into the Otherworld. Now he’s in danger too.  Kat has to go one on one with the goddess to save herself and her brother.

Watch Marva’s Blog at for announcements on giveaways throughout the Merry Month of May.

You will want to know about the Glaistig, a creature of folklore; this description will help you understand why Marva chose to include her in her amazing cast of characters:


In Scotch Broom, Marva present Glaistig as a vampire woman who has entered the Otherworld because she no longer wanted to live from the blood of humans. Within the magical realm, she can safely feed on the various magical creatures without killing them. Once Marva discovered her, she knew she had to be part of this story. While a vampire, she’s got a soft side that appeals to Rune. In other words, she’s not all bad; she’s just been fabled that way.

Marva discovered Glaistig at Monstropedia, a must-have link for paranormal and fantasy writers (

According to one legend the glaistig was once a mortal noblewoman, to whom a fairy nature had been given or who was cursed with the goat’s legs and immortality, and since has been known as The Green (or Gray) Lady.

In most stories, the creature is described as a beautiful woman with dusky or gray skin and long blonde hair. Her lower half is that of a goat, usually disguised by a long, flowing green robe or dress.

In the diverse and changing traditions of the Highlands, the Glaistig was seen as both benevolent and malevolent towards humans. In one aspect she even takes the role of the Banshee, wailing at the death of important people.

The glaistig may take the form of a beautiful woman, especially one already known to the male victim; after offering sexual favors like a camp follower, she leaves her male victim with his throat cut, every drop of blood sucked from him. Other such tales have her casting stones in the path of travelers or throwing them off course.

In some variant stories the glaistig may be seen as benevolent, fond of children and a protector of old people. Libations of milk were poured for her, especially on selected stones; this veneration may be linked with older fertility customs. The glaistig has been described in some folklore as watching over children while their mothers milked the cows and fathers watched over the herds.

The glaistig frequented the lonely lochs and rivers in the Highlands of Scotland, such as Ardnacaillich, Donolly Castle, Loch Fyne, Crathes Castle and in Wales at Caerphilly.

Excerpt from Scotch Broom:

Rune, Kat’s brother, is searching for his sister while Cailleach is searching for both Rune and Kat by sending one or more of her minions to find them. Glaistig’s job is to find Rune, determine whether or not he’s a vampire, and to bring the boy to the goddess.

As the sun eased down to hide behind a mountain range to the west, a movement to his left caught his attention. It looked like a tendril of smoke rising from the swamp. Since it was unlikely anything could burn in the bog, he watched the gray mist with interest. He notched up his vampire vision to watch. The smoky mist grew opaque then solid. A figure formed, but as if a statue made of granite, it was solid gray. Watching closely, Rune waited to see what this might be. He had studied all types of magical beings and couldn’t recall one like this 

The smoke woman, for he now recognized the shape as female, wafted toward him on the air. When it stopped a few feet away from him, it slowly gathered color from the moors. Heather green, water blue, dried grass yellow. The colors mixed and swirled and finally settled on the figure, giving her the approximate colors of a woman with blonde hair, a pale, gray face, and dazzling blue eyes staring at him in silence. She wore a long dress and cape, both the color of morning mist.

Rune ventured a greeting. “Hello?” The woman didn’t speak, but she moved again, this time circling him. Rune turned to keep her in his sight.

“I am Glaistig.” Her voice was as soft as the smoke from which she formed.

Without his vampire hearing, Rune wouldn’t have been able to hear the whisper. “Ahem. I’m Rune. Nice to meet you.” Rune wondered whether to offer his hand to shake and decided not to risk it. He’d heard some magical beings poisoned those who touched them.

The pale woman looked him up and down and then nodded slightly. “You are vampyr?”

“Um. Is that a problem?”

“Not at all. I am also.”

“Oh. I should have guessed. Night. Smoke. Oh! I remember who you are!” Rune snapped his fingers. “Glaistig, the Gray Lady. But you’re not a true vampire, are you?”

“It depends upon my mood and how a person treats me. If I meet a man on the road, and he tries to grab me, I dance away and let him follow. I lure him to my lair. Then, I take his blood. But if a man tips his hat and wishes me a good evening, I leave him with a smile.”

“That’s a relief. My name is Rune, and I’m here looking for my si—” Rune stopped and considered that if Glaistig was a vampire and thought he was too, he shouldn’t mention he had a witch sister. “Uh, a female friend. Have you seen a girl with black hair?”

“I have not, but Cailleach may be able to help you.” Something darker than the blackest shadow lumbered out of the night. Glaistig glanced at the giant coming up behind her. “It’s all right, Bodach. This man is a vampire.”

The giant halted by her side and glared down at Rune, who swallowed hard and craned his neck to look up at the ugly face on top of the nine-foot tall body. The giant sniffed. “As you say, Glaistig. We take him to Cailleach?”

“Yes, we do.” Turning to Rune, the Gray Lady beckoned with her index finger. “Come, Rune. We shall visit the goddess.”

“Well, that’s okay. I’ll just look over there,” Rune replied, pointing in the opposite direction of where Glaistig appeared to be headed.

Bodach took two long strides and grabbed Rune’s arm before he could react.

“Uh, since you put it that way.” He pulled his arm away from the giant and followed Glaistig.

The Gray Lady smiled at him. “I’m so happy you agree. Bodach is Cailleach’s very faithful servant. I doubt he would take no for an answer.”

Rune nodded grimly. It looked like he was stuck for now. Still, it might be a good thing. This Cailleach might be able to help find Kat. But why would being a vampire all of a sudden be a good thing? He could sense that if he had not been a vampire, Bodach the giant, would now be crushing his skull between his two gigantic hands. And who was this goddess Cailleach? The name didn’t ring any bells.

Rune followed Glaistig, with Bodach close on his heels. Over the thumps of Bodach’s heavy footsteps, he heard the skittering sound of a small animal in the grass as they walked away.

* * * *

About Marva:

Marva Dasef lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat. Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation. Marva has published more than forty stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with several included in Best of anthologies. She has several previously published books. Her latest pride and joy is the Witches of Galdorheim Series from her super duper publisher, MuseItUp.

Where to find Marva:

MuseItUp Author Page:



Twitter Handle: @Gurina

Book Trailers:

It’s so good to have you with us today, Marva. Best of luck with your new book

Review of Kathy Stemke’s pb Trouble on Earth Day

I’m happy to welcome Kathy Stemke to my blog today. Besides sharing the same publisher, Guardian Angel Publishing (who published my picture book, Fantastic Flight and Kathy’s Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep), we have another interest in common. And that is Earth Day. If you’ve read my novel, Wounds (published by MuseItUp), you might recall the character Nelson Ark. He was named in honor of the founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson. Kathy’s book, Trouble on Earth Day, is published by Wild Planes Press. The book was honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

The artist, Kurt Wilcken, illustrated the book. His amusing cartoons, er…Kurtoons, can be seen at:


Trouble on Earth Day opens in the cozy home of the anthropomorphic squirrel family. The little girl squirrel, Shelby, excitedly enters with the news that her poster won the Earth Day Poster contest.

The poster shows a vibrant green and blue earth on a red background. Highlighted around the earth are three examples of Rethink, Reuse, and Recycle.

Shelby and Mom and Dad do some rethinking. They go through the house finding things suitable for recycling and reusing.

When Shelby hears crying outside, she goes to investigate. She finds TROUBLE. A sad bluebird is homeless because someone cut down the tree his nest was in. Shelby gathers reusable items—such as cut up newspaper strips and bright pink yarn—and helps the bluebird build a new nest. They situate the beautiful new nest up high in another tree so it can be seen for miles around.

And it seems that the bluebird is quite musical. Together, Shelby and Charlie, the bluebird, “Danced and sang ‘Chur-lee, chur-lee,’ all day.”

Here is what Kathy says about her book:

With Earth Day Approaching on April 22nd it’s time to focus on educating our children about conservation. Trouble on Earth Day would be a great resource for this purpose and a super addition to any school or home library.

Learning how each of us can take steps to protect our environment is important for children and adults alike. It will take all our efforts to help improve the environment for a healthier tomorrow. Trouble on Earth Day is a great start for children.

 Here are examples of the games and songs found in the twenty-three pages of activities in the supplement.

Going Green Game

Have the children form a circle to represent the earth, then read each statement aloud.

If a statement is something good for the earth, the children jump up and down.

If the statement is something that will hurt the earth, the children squat down and touch the

floor, then shout out a better way. (ex: Sleep with your lights on will hurt the earth, children might yell out turn the lights off before you go to bed.)

Fix a leaky faucet.

Sleep with your lights on.

Join with your friends to collect trash in the neighborhood.

Throw the newspaper out every day.

Turn the lights off when you leave the room.

Catch rain in a bucket to water the garden.

Grow a garden.

Put a bird feeder in the yard.

Donate your toys to charity.

Let the water run when brushing your teeth.

Throw trash out of the car window.

Let your helium balloons fl oat into the sky.

Use both sides of the paper.

Throw your food away when you are full.

Plant a tree.

Throw your old clothes in the trash.

Fill your bath tub to the top.

Rethink, reuse, recycle.

The Fuzzy Squirrel

To the tune of I’m A Little Teapot

I’m a fuzzy squirrel, black and gray.

Watch me run around finding nuts today.

Won’t you help me look now, far and near?

We’ll find the big nuts, and hide them here

I’m a happy squirrel, big and strong.

Skip and jump with me, it won’t take long.

When the winter sneaks up, then you’ll see,

We’ll have some nuts for you and for me.

Another book by Kathy is Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep which is available through the publisher, and through Amazon, B & N, and other online stores.

Trouble on Earth Day is available at a discounted price on Kathy’s blog: and through Amazon, B & N, and other online stores.

Author bio:

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy Stemke has published over one hundred articles in directories, magazines and on websites. She is a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing and a former editor for The National Writing for Children Center. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. She is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U, a writing services company that includes ghostwriting, copywriting, editing, proofreading, critiquing, and resumes.

Award winning author, Kathy Stemke’s first children’s picture book, Moving Through All Seven Days, was published on Lulu. Her next two picture books, Sh, Sh, Sh Let the Baby Sleep, and Trouble on Earth Day were released in 2011. Both of these books have been awarded the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.  Visit her book blog at

Kathy offers great teaching tips and children’s book reviews as well as a monthly newsletter titled, MOVEMENT AND RHYTHM, on her blog.

Kathy Stemke
Award Winning Author/Educator/Freelance Writer


Trouble on Earth Day earned the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep won the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval

Sign up for FREE monthly newsletter, Movement and Rhythm:


I was provided with a copy of Trouble on Earth Day; my comments are given freely and honestly.


Tag, You’re It

One of my brilliant fellow picture book writer/colleagues at Pens and Brushes, Mirka Breen, tagged me on her blog to join in a blogging game. It was fun to answer the questions, so I’m passing them along to you.

I answered the questions and I hope you will also play.

Rules/questioned copied are in bold.

The Tag rules:
1. You must post the rules!
2. Answer the questions.
3. Tag eleven people and link to them.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.
Questions to answer:If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be? Just off the top of my head, I would say Camelot. I’ve been enamored of King Arthur for as long as I can remember: at least as far back as Junior High School. I have a good-sized collection of books about him and I have a story that’s been hatching since I was an undergraduate in college. Of course, there are many other fictional places I would love to live in; Hogwarts, Dodge City, any time period in London, among others.Do you read in noisy or quiet places? I usually read in quiet places, but noise does not bother me; when I get involved in a book, I can read anywhere.What was the first book you ever read? I don’t remember the first book I actually read, but I remember that The Raggedy Ann and Raggdy Andy were among the first books that I really loved. In school, I loved reading the Dick and Jane books and the Alice and Jerry books.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? My literature profs stressed that Western Literature is born of both Greek Literature and the Bible. So, I would have to insist that I get a copy of both the Bible and Homer.

Favourite author? Okay, this is like putting a pin in a map of the world. Charles Dickens.

Do reviews influence your choice of reads? I think I go more with word of mouth.

Fiction or Non fiction? Fiction.

Have you ever met your favourite author? I met Judy Blume at an SCBWI Conference a few years ago, and that was one of the highlights of my literary career. What a lovely person she is and a joy to listen to. And she continues to produce wonderful books.

Audio books or Paperbacks? I try to keep an audio book in the car most of the time, but I love nothing more than curling up with paper book.

Classic or Modern Novels? Both. I still haven’t finished Shakespeare, but as for modern, I prefer Young Adult.

Book Groups or Solitary Reading? I’ve only ever belonged to one book reading group. That was in Pensacola, Florida. I enjoyed listening to the opinions of the other readers and discussing some interesting books. But next to writing, solitary reading is my most favorite activity.

11 people to tag? Ah!

Join only if you think you could use this excursion in your life. And let me know if you do.

Sylvia Leontaritis

Cana Rensberger

Margot Finke

Holly Owen

Pam Maynard

J. Aday Kennedy

Marva Dasef

Barbara Ehrentreu

Brian Knight

Bill Kirk

Sue Perkins

Don’t forget YOU’VE BEEN TAGGED. I hope to hear from you soon with the link to your posting.

If your name isn’t on the list, and you want to play, join in and send me your link.

Thanks, Mirka, for tagging me and letting me play along.

Visit Donna McDine’s Blog

Hi Friends,

I’m passing along some information I got from Donna McDine. She has written an interesting interview with author,

D. Robert Pease, who wrote a middle grade time travel/futuristic novel, Noah Zark: Mammoth Trouble. If you go to Donna’s blog, read the interview, and comment on it, she will enter you in a drawing for a $50.00 Amazon gift card. Your comment will also help her; she needs lots of comments.

My Guest: Brian Knight

Would you believe that my guest, Brian Knight, a published author, did not like to read when he was a youngster? But I’ll let him explain and you’ll understand where his font of story ideas springs from.

Hi Brian, Welcome to Stories a la Mode. I’m so happy to have you as my guest. I’ve enjoyed reading about your journey to publication and I know my readers will, too. Take it away . . .

Who Needs An Imagination?

Not too long ago I was asked the question ‘at what age did you start reading.’ I must admit that I had to think about that question before I answered. You see, as a child I was not a big reader. In fact, books bored me. Right about now you may be thinking – how did he become an author if books bored him? Many people who knew me back then have asked that question many times. The truth is, writing found me but that is for another post.

No, reading wasn’t high on my to-do list for the first 12 or so years. I would read in school but after that torturous experience was over I would stay as far from books as my favorite bicycle would carry me. I think back on those days and I don’t regret not reading. Oh yes, I heard that deep intact of air from all of you but please allow me to explain.

In those days we did not have all these electronic gadgets and toys. Heck, cell phones were nothing more than ideas. Some would call me old while most would call me a young pup but what I just said still holds true. I was raised in the country. My dog, basketball, bicycle and favorite toy gun were some of my prized possessions. I can’t think of a time, growing up, when I wasn’t riding the country roads, playing ball or running through the forest. I look back on those days fondly now that I am grown with a son of my own. What does this have to do with writing? I’ll tell you.

Memories, thoughts and dreams follow each of us as we journey from child to adult but the one thing that I’m most grateful for is that my imagination carried through and is still vibrant to this day. Back when I was a kid my imagination took the form of cowboys and Indians while I ran through the woods or playing against Magic Johnson on the basketball court or racing down bandits on the mean streets. Of course I can’t do those things now or a strait jacket would be waiting for me so my imagination morphed and changed. It took on a whole new form and began to shape stories in my mind; stories I would soon write down and stories I will one day share.

 The imagination is such a wonderful thing. It can spark a new invention or set off a movement that can change the landscape of how we do things. It was imagination that brought to bear the Harry Potter books which opened the doors to reading for thousands if not millions of young people. Perhaps those young people are still reading. Who knows, maybe their imagination was sparked and they are now writing.

What finally sparked my love for reading? My imagination was there and I was using it regularly but books….not so much. It started with comic books. The perfect combination of pictures and words fed my imagination nicely until I grew older. Then it happened. My imagination was captured by the first Lord of the Rings movies and it ignited my desire to read. It was like a famished person being fed for the first time. I was ravenous. I would read books all night. I didn’t care that I had work the next day all I wanted to do was read that next sentence, that next chapter, that next book.

 My imagination merged with my desire to read and a fireball erupted inside. It was like a dormant volcano had been awakened but instead of a flow of lava, a flow of stories flowed forth. It was amazing to experience this and only now can I see and understand that it all started with Magic Johnson on the court, the bandits on the country roads, and the Indians in the woods.

Bio: SB Knight has seen his poetry and short stories published in both books and magazines. Now, with the publishing of his first novel, Born of Blood, he has achieved a goal and dream set many years ago. Currently he is working on the sequel to Born of Blood which will be the second novel for the Blood Chronicles series.

SB Knight is the creator of ‘The New Author;’ a blog that started as a learning tool but has since grown into a community of friends and peers. He is also co-owner of Premium Promotional Services where authors can find the help they need to promote their book(s) on the Internet.

You can find SB Knight here:



Twitter: @thenewauthor

Google+: +Brian (Brian Knight)

Facebook: (I would really like more Likes, thanks)

Thanks again for sharing with us today, Brian. I will tweet this post @ babs22582 . (I’m having trouble posting on facebook, but I’ll try).

My Guest: Chris Verstraete

I would like to welcome Christine Verstraete as my guest today on the Muse Blog Tour.

Christine is an award-winning author and journalist from Wisconsin. Her short stories have appeared in the anthologies, Steampunk’d, Timeshares, and Hot & Steamy: Tales of Steampunk Romance from DAW Books. She is author of a nonfiction book on miniatures, In Miniature Style II, and a children’s mystery, Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery.

You can read more about Christine at her site:

Here is a tidbit to tempt you into reading Searching for a Starry Night, A Miniature Art Mystery: Sam, her Bff Lita, and a mischievous Dachshund named Petey face a cranky housekeeper, a dog-hating gardener, and an ancient family curse as they search for a missing miniature replica of Van Gogh’s famous painting, “Starry Night.”

Petey sure is a cute dog. I’m always game to read a story that has a Dachshund in it.

This is the cover of Christine’s non-fiction book, In Miniature Style II.

Christine is going to talk today about Writing and Rejection.

Writing and Rejection

By Christine Verstraete

Get a rejection? It’s part of being a writer, right? You hear other writers say, oh well, suck it up, be a big boy/girl, resub that manuscript and move on to something else.

What they don’t say – (at least aloud) – is that after that email or letter is read, they, too, go through those horrific periods of self-doubt, self-flagellation, and fight the urge to throw the computer across the room when they’re not crying in the bathroom or gorging on ice cream.

C’mon, admit it. It’s not as easy as all that to just act like nothing happened.

Most writers put their heart and soul (and yes, hopes) into each project. And while you shrug your shoulders, move on to something else and do resubmit that manuscript, (eventually), it still feels like a part of you has died when someone says no or they’re not interested.

Even when you’ve been writing for a while, it still can feel like the universe is against you when that one place you thought was a good fit, well, isn’t. You can’t help but make it personal, can you?

Why does getting an answer on a manuscript feel so personal, especially when it’s a generic “not for us” answer? (And what does that really mean?  Is it: A. Not for us – it’s just as it says. B. It sucks but we can’t say that. (Lawsuits and all.) C. We already have something similar (why not say that?) or D. Yes, you really do suck?

As impersonal as a form letter or a rejection can be, and as good as we are at putting distance between ourselves and our work, you can’t help but take it to heart. Sure, you shouldn’t, but admit it, don’t you do that—sometimes?

So, cry, pout, get depressed, but send it out again.

There has to be someone else out there who also thinks, wow, great story!

That’s great advice, Christine. There have been times when I wanted to cry, pout, and get depressed. It’s not easy to pick yourself up and send it out again. But that’s what we do!

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