Category Archives: Activities & Reads for Kids during Pandemic Break

Interview with Eric DeSio


Eric DeSio is the author of the children’s book, The Social Distance King.

As we head further into summer, families are starting to emerge and take safe holidays. To help you with your quest back into the world, I found a great book to help with some of the new normals that are going to be part of our every day lives for a while.

A new book by author Eric DeSio helps to teach social distancing. It is called The Social Distance King. With school starting in the fall, teachers will also be interested in new class structure introduction books as we all take on dealing with the continued pandemic. This book will help in the quest for educators to find books to introduce these new topics to children.

I had a chance to interview Eric DeSio. He shared his love for story telling, and the need to teach lessons in his books. The Social Distance King by Eric DeSio helps introduce the topic of social distancing to children. In the interview, he shares his childhood reading memories, his favorite authors, and what projects he has in story for us.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child? 

My favorite childhood reading memory would be reading Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.  I remember feeling totally immersed in the imaginary world of that book. The characters and scenery were real and alive for me.

2) Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you? 

As a child I would say Dr. Seuss. I enjoyed and continue to enjoy the rhyming and visual presentation. I’m not certain about how Dr. Seuss influenced my writing exactly, but I appreciate that he seems to have lose rules if any. I love the originality of his stories.

3) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you. 

Often my writing starts with me singing about something. If I’m singing something, then I will usually write about it. And if I write about it, then I usually will start singing about it. I often write about stories or topics that intrigue me and that don’t “go away”. If the story and idea stay with me for a while, then I feel more naturally moved to write about it.

4) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects? 

Wow. So many but at the same time, there are actually very few specific subjects that I feel I must write about in the future. Recently, for the most part, if I want to write about something, then I write about it. In general, I can say that I would like to write about challenging subjects or subjects that are not often written on. Also, I can see myself writing some non-fiction in the future.

5) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Writing to me is expression, sharing and connection.

social-distance-king-frontThe Social Distance King is a book that introduces the sensitive top of kids and social distancing. It’s a kid-friendly way to introduce them to this new social norm, and to teach them about the reasons for its use to keep them safe.

For a limited time, a FREE copy of this book will be offered through the authors website at:

The Social Distance King is also available as a free Kindle Unlimited title. Printed hardcover copies are also available at and

Rebuilding Yourself After Trauma: What We All Need to Know to Survive the Pandemic


Tiffany Turner in the hospital ICU Dec. 2014

Four years ago, I had a heart attack. My last memory is feeling sick with what I thought was another bronchial infection while closing my classroom door, and thinking I’d try to kick it over the weekend. My next fleeting memory is sitting at the computer that night checking a writing board. The next memory is waking up in a hospital with a oxygen and feeding tube down my throat, unable to speak, and my mother sitting across in the corner of the room with the most saddest look I’ve ever seen on her face.

This was what happened to me in the first weeks of Dec. 2014. I was a full time public school teacher, looking forward to the soon to happen Holiday break, and was having a hard time with another bronchitis flare up. Like most good teachers, I was trying to teach through the sickness, make it through to Christmas. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in an ICU hospital bed, tube down my throat, with little or no energy to speak of. My first thoughts were, “What happened?” I was finally able to recall having the bronchitis and realized it all had probably gone down hill badly. But I couldn’t remember. I had been induced into a coma after the heart attack, and lost over twelve days of memory.

***For more on that personal experience, here is my post about it back in 2015.


My monitors in the hospital.

What I was told happened is I did tried to fight the bronchitis that didn’t get better. After three days of it getting worse, my husband took me to the emergency room and I was admitted with acute pneumonia. Later, I had a fight or flight response when I pulled out my IV and a nurse tried to keep me in bed. I struggled, and then my eyes rolled in the back of my head, I fell back, and flatlined. I was clinically dead for sixty seconds.


Mrs. Turner at the Sonora Celtic Festival playing the Gaelic Harp in 2015.

Luckily, they were able to save me. I do recommend if you have a heart attack, have it in the hospital where there is the most chance they can save you. But the road from that moment forward was not easy. I spent about two weeks in the hospital gaining strength back, doing physical therapy later at home and as an out patient. It took eight months to rebuild my life back to where I could physically cope on my own. I had to leave my career, give up classroom teaching, and start all over. I learned to walk, shop, participate in Renaissance fairs again. I essentially had to rebuild my life with a new normal with what the heart attack had left of me.

It was a challenge to start over in my mid forties with something I hadn’t planned. But the world still spun on. My friends and family supported me, and I slowly built a new life in which I tutored part time a few hours weekly, built up from once a week to three times a week over a period of a few years. I was teaching in after school programs, working at a tutoring center, participating and selling at Ren fairs, and writing full time children’s books and romances which has always been a life dream. I had rebuilt my life. I was finally feeling like myself again.

In the middle of March 2020, COVID19 shut down my county. I had already started to isolate, seeing that this disease was different from when I taught in schools with the swine flu almost ten years ago. I was being told I was high risk with a heart condition. I went grocery shopping in what I now call the “old normal world” for the last time on March 11. On March 13, the California Governor shut down all the schools in the state. By that Monday, he closed all the businesses. Most of the United States later joined my state a few days or even weeks later.

I started to have a strange deja vu. It seemed like EVERYONE had joined me in a new type normal. Essential workers helped deliver and ship food. Health workers fought the disease in hospitals, and everyone else was to stay isolated to slow the disease. Spring 2020 mirrored my isolation and healing of Spring 2015. Though I had energy and better health this time, I did a lot of the things I did had done then. I wrote a lot. I rested and took care of my health, watching my diet. I had even learned to cook more from delivered box meals back in 2015. I continued with those skills, cooking at home.

There were challenges, like being able to find food and supplies you could get online as opposed as in a store. It reminded me a lot of when people were rationed during WWII. I even read WWII memoir accounts to relate to how the people felt during those historic times.

Though there were some differences between WWII and the Corona Virus Spring Lockdown of 2020, I found myself being rationed on orders and finding other items hard to get. The first thing to run out was toilet paper, along with paper towels, hand sanitizer, and items to make home sanitizer. I adapted to what seemed was going to be a temporary state like working at home and ordering things online and through the mail. I followed what the state and local county health departments ordered us to do. Everyone thought it was a temporary new normal that was going to last three weeks which has instead lasted three months.

It is now the end of June 2020. Things have opened back up, but there looks like more outbreaks and more closures on the horizon. I know that we are going to need to build a new normal. I’m finding that a lot of what I went through, surviving my heart attack and building a new normal, is helping me now. To start thinking about this will put you ahead of what is to come.


Mrs. Turner wearing one of several owned home made masks.

Build a new normal for yourself. Accepting that the world has changed is a good start. I had to accept my body had changed to survive my heart disease. I had to built my new normal with what I could still do. I was told I might need a pace maker or even a heart transplant. They had to be honest with me in where my health could go. It helped me to face that I wanted to take the best care of myself and save my heart. So, I did what I could with what my body could still do.

For example: It helped to write a novel called “Saving My Heart” which I wrote on Wattpad. Writing was something I could do in my weakened health state. It is one of the adaptions I did while trying to find a new normal. I thought of what I could do still, and planned to switch my activities accordingly. I cut away all the old things I couldn’t do anymore. I accepted it was okay, because I had survived, and a new normal was something I could live with because I was still alive.

Through caring for my heart, I saved myself. We can do that now. Care for yourself, your loved ones, your own personal bubble of people right now. Create a new normal with them. We are not going to have the old world back for awhile. When it comes back, it is likely to differ some from what we used to do before. And it’s okay. That’s part of surviving. The human race has adapted through many tragedies and disasters. Just like you can recover from a personal crisis, we too can recover from this horrible world changing event.

Create a new normal for yourself. Create it with friends and family, whether you visit more online now, adapt it around your job if you’re an essential worker, or retreat and stay away from others. It’s all okay. What ever is safe for you to get through this will be the right choice. You can choose how to survive this pandemic. It is the one power you have to control what is happening to you. Choose how to face this virus. You can build a new normal to suit you, keep your friends and family safe, and hopefully, keep your community safe.

Take it from someone who has already built a new normal for themselves. It can be done. It just has to be accepted that we are all living through a time that is unlike any other, and we will build a new life to survive the virus. It’s the one thing that all humans share, and that is the amazing ability to adapt. Let go of those things that are not necessary at this time and do the things you can do. The rest will follow. Before you know it, you’ll have a new normal. And you’ll likely not want to go back. Especially if you survive. Because surviving is the bottom line.

I wish the best new normal for you. Get through it with the ones you love. And I’ll see you on the other side.


Interview with Tenile Carlos Bey

Tenille Carlos Bey bio pic

Tenille Carlos Bey wrote the girl’s journal “Mommy & Doodlebop: A Journal for Girls We Love” with her daughter, Aalani.

During the summer, it’s good to keep your child engaged with activities. With all the need to social distance, it’s even more important to look for activities that children can engage in and be safe while doing. What about journaling? This is a historical time, when first person resources will be documenting how children and people lived through the pandemic. Your child can be part of the moment, writing out thoughts, feelings and what life was like during these strange times. I have the perfect journal for you child to begin their writing journal. It is written by a daughter and mother team, Tenille Carlos Bey and Aalani Carlos Bey. It’s called “Mommy & Doodlebop: A Journal for Girls We Love”.

Written as a support for inclusivity for girls with African ancestry, this journal is for girls to write out their thoughts and feelings for good or bad days. It will be a companion to sort their feelings during the pandemic. I also had a chance to interview Tenille Carlos Bey in regards to her childhood reading memories, future writing subjects, and what writing means to her.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Tenille Carlos Bey: My favorite memory was sitting on my stairs engulfed in a good book.

2) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Tenille Carlos Bey: I would love to write about children & their experience from their eyes as often times they are voiceless.

3) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Tenile Carlos Bey: Writing to me is therapeutic.

Happiness Where Sun Shines CoverMommy & Doodlebop: A Journal for Girls We Love” is an interactive journal for all the little Brown girls loved. It’s developed to help a girl express herself daily engaging creativity and expression of ideas in words on a daily basis. Keeping a daily journal will increase writing ability and help your child work through daily problems and feelings. This will make a great gift or at home activity during the pandemic.

“Mommy & Doodlebop: A Journal for Girls We Love” is available at




Interview with Tiffany Watkins


This pandemic has made many of us become aware of those things to be thankful for. It may also be bringing on feelings of resentment of what your child might have lost out on. Help them deal with the loss and look at the positives of their new situation with a fabulous find, a “Gratitude Journal for Kids”.

Tiffany Watkins is the author of this book. She has a BSA in Sociology with a minor in Child and Family studies, and a master in Divinity Studies. She received a doctorate in Christian Counseling. She enjoys serving her community and working with the United Way Young Philanthropist Program. Through her book, she hopes to encourage children to look towards what they are grateful for each day and find the magic in a moment of their day. I had the chance to interview Tiffany about her childhood reading memories, favorite author, and what projects she has in store for the future.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Tiffany Watkins: My favorite memory from reading as a child was how fun it was to have your peers reading about the same thing and able to discuss it among them.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Tiffany Watkins: My favorite memory from reading as a child was “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret?” by Judy Blume. This book greatly influenced my walk as a middle schooler because it addressed the things I was experiencing at the time.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Tiffany Watkins: In the future, I would like to write about positivity for kids.

Gratitude Journal for kids front pic“Gratitude Journal for Kids” is a helpful tool to help children focus on the positive aspects of their lives. Written to encourage an Attitude of Greatness, the journal has daily entries so your child can write three things daily about what they are grateful for. Each entry also includes a “Magic Moment of the Day” in which they can reflect on something that was positive and memorable about their day. Drawing is encouraged in the entry to express their gratefulness and artistic abilities. This book will help your child get in touch with their feelings and cope with the loss of a daily routine and events during the COVID19 pandemic.

Gratitude Journal for Kids” is available at:

For more information on Tiffany Watkins, visit her Amazon Author page.


Fun Summer Activity for Kids: Build a Fairy Garden


I use crystals, small plants in pots, and fairy figurines to decorate my porch fairy garden.

I’ve been giving tips to parents for the last few months in how to help structure your child’s learning. Now that summer is here, we’re trying to find more at home summer activities to keep our children and families safe from Covid19. What a great time to take advantage of the outdoor space you have! Have you considered building a garden? This doesn’t mean you need a backyard. Gardens can be built on a porch or even a window sill. To make it extra special, create a fairy garden!

The first step is to choose small plants that you would enjoy tending. You can buy them in small planters and/or replant them into the places you would like, or plant seeds and watch them grow. Choose flowering plants or herb plants such as lavender, rosemary, or other favorite herbs your family may prefer. You get the extra bonus that you can eat them later. Small ivy or other small growing plants with flowers make lovely fairy settings.

Many cities and towns are starting phase 2 openings in which garden shops are starting to be allowed to reopen. Small starter plants can be purchased or order seeds online. You can pick and choose which plants you enjoy. Look to see where your plants will be. Consider if you have more shade or sun, since often plants can be purchased that fit those conditions. I have a shaded porch and I find plants that need a lot of sun tend to not do well. So, I’ve chosen more shade friendly plants for my porch fairy garden. Remember, stay safe and wear a mask when going back into stores and use hand sanitizer.

Garden Gnome

My garden gnome was purchased from the local garden center and is prominent in my fairy garden.

The second step is to order either small pebbles, sand or other decorative gardening accents to create paths and decorative areas for your fairies. You can use these items to decorate and create places for your fairies to gather. For example: I used old aquarium stones to make paths and a little gathering space to later place fairy figurines.

Accent items turn the garden space into wonderful scenes for fairy figurines. The added bonus is you get to watch the plants grow to fit. You can also order crystals to places through out the garden. Plants enjoy having the energy of these wonderful pieces among and around their leaves. Place stones and crystals in pots and in soil.

The third step is to order fairy figures. Many of the figures I have collected over the years have been given to me as gifts or I have purchased from gardening shops or other places. This can be a fun experiment in searching for the right fairies for your garden. You might find it is a wonderful time to start a new collection, and the garden will be a home for your new fairy figures.

When done, you’ll have a fabulous fairy garden to tend. Watering my garden is a great welcome relief from online working and tutoring. I enjoy having a cup of tea while smelling jasmine flowers or looking at my small Japanese maple tree. Other plants and flowers attract birds and butterflies from time to time. My porch may be small, but it is mighty in the positive fairy experience it creates for me to relax and enjoy some quiet time.

Enjoy building your own fairy garden with your children and welcome the summer weather in style. When you’re done, you’ll have a monument to the peace you can build at home.

summer1Plus: you can still continue summer reading with your child. I’ve made available an entire free online novel to go along with my first book in my fantasy children’s series, “The Lost Secret of Fairies”. The story takes place during the summer, and is a great addition to a child’s reading list to continue reading skills in these away from school months. There is nothing better to curl up with a good book in a garden. It’s something I did as a kid myself. So, can’t help but pass on the tip.

Here is the link to the full online novel:

Link to your copy of “The Lost Secret of Fairies”:


Barnes & Noble:



Enjoy your summer!

-Mrs. Turner

Picture Book Review: “Mozzi Presents: Love and Other Values”


“Mozzi Presents: Love and Other Values” is the first in a series of heart-warming picture books.

I always like to find the hidden gems that can brighten up anyone’s day. I think a book about a dog is a great way to do this, especially with the current pandemic. We are looking back to family values, nature and the best addition to any household, pets. The lessons we can learn from our pets starts when we are children. I think I’ve found a wonderful picture book that shows the values of pets, love and family in  “Mozzi Presents: Love and Other Values” by Merav Gamliel Boschan.

We meet a wonderful dog, Mozzi, and his family. From a puppy to growing up to full doghood, we read about all the different challenges of life and lessons learned by Mozzi the dog with help from his family. They also learn from him in turn. It’s a great read aloud during these hard times of lockdown and isolation. The one thing that always seems to help during these hard times seems to be sharing a book with the family. This will make a wonderful read-aloud at bedtime or shared as an activity.

“Mozzi Presents: Love and Other Values” is available at It is the first book in a series of four, and is a Kindle Unlimited title.


Interview with Jacqueline Stokes


For the next few weeks, I’ll be featuring authors and their books for your child’s summer reading list. It’s good to keep the academics going through the summer months to maintain reading levels and add to literature skills. My next summer reading find is a book by the author, Jacqueline Stokes. It’s got a great attention grabbing title, The Stinkies. This middle grade novel will be a treat for any child looking for a sci-fi/fantasy action adventure to read.

Jacqueline Stokes is an author and screenwriter. She’ll soon be starting her own publishing company to help other writers reach their dreams. In her spare time, she enjoys exercising, taking long walks, and broadcasting on her own podcast called “Champion”. I had the chance to talk to Jacqueline Stokes about her childhood reading memories, her writing inspirations, and what she has in store for us in future projects.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Jacqueline Stokes: My favorite book as a child was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Jacqueline Stokes: Dr. Seuss. I loved his imagination. His writing makes you feel like you’re one of his characters.

  • Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Jacqueline Stokes: When writing, I am usually inspired by an idea that will just pop into my head, and I write from there. I have no set routine. Routines can feel like “work.” Writing allows me to experience the adventure of the content that I am writing which never feels routine.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Jacqueline Stokes: I have another children’s book that I will be publishing in the near future. I am skilled in multiple genres.

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Jacqueline Stokes: Writing is an ADVENTURE.

stinkiescvrThe Stinkies is a sci-fi, action adventure that will take you out of this world. It’s filled with tons of action and most important, baseball. Spencer Cummings loves baseball, but his little league team is one of the worst teams in the league. Instead of being called the Meteorites, they’ve earned the name of “The Stinkies”. After making a wish for a better baseball field and to win at the championships one day at the county fair, Spencer and his whole family find themselves on a whole new planet.

Suddenly, he must blend in with these aliens or be revealed as an Earthling. Can Spencer and his family avoid capture and find out the secret to wishes that will allow them to go home? And will that secret help turn the Earth he once knew into something completely different.

The Stinkies is available at and Barnes &

Interview for L. A. Davis


Summer reading will be starting soon. I’ve got a lot of fabulous books lined up to add to your child’s reading list. My first author in the series of recommendations is L. A. Davis. She has written a fabulous coloring book called “AJ Learns Her Colors & Shades”. The character is based on her granddaughter and is the first in a learning series. Children can learn primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors, the colors of the rainbow, and shades with the help of their parents. It’s a great activity book for the summer days ahead. I had a chance to talk to author L. A. Davis about childhood reading memories and about writing.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?
L. A Davis: My second-grade teacher allowed each student to sit in front of the class and read a book from the “library” we had in the back of the classroom. I hate that I don’t remember the name of that book, but I do remember it was about snow and the child had on a red coat with a pointy hat. It might have even been a bunny suit, but it was red and the hood part was pointy. It stood out to me because I was born on an island and we don’t have snow. Another book I do remember is called “The Little House.” I got to read that one in front of the class also.

2) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.
L. A Davis: Usually when I write, I pick a song and play that song to inspire me. I haven’t found a routine in writing the coloring books, but give me time :0).

3) What is writing to you in one sentence?
L. A Davis: Writing is so much fun!

aj cover-pagefront“AJ Learns Her Colors & Shades” is a fabulous child’s coloring book that teaches the basics of colors and the rainbow. Fill summer days and weekends with this fun activity, and apply new artistic skills to decorate your home. This is a great activity book for distance learning and for the summer months ahead.

“AJ Learns Her Colors & Shades” is available at: Barnes & and

Interview with Jenny Wilson


Jenny Wilson is the author of the children’s fantasy book, The Lighthouse Keeper: A Story of a Soul.

I’m sure you are looking for a great fantasy book for your child to escape into while practicing reading skills. Not to mention, some of their teachers are likely still asking for children to keep up those twenty minutes of silent reading a day (D.E.A.R. Time). I’ve got a fantastic fantasy that will support any Harry Potter fan. The Lighthouse Keeper: A story of a soul takes you to the Vale of Aisenma where a lonely boy realizes that the world around him is full of magic and that he is not alone.

The author, Jenny Wilson, has drawn from her upbringing of growing up in Scotland to bring you a mystical tale. I had the chance to ask her about her childhood reading memories, how she got her story ideas, and what she has in store for us in future projects.

  1. What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Jenny Wilson: I read constantly as a child – I devoured books. One of my earliest memories is making a book called “The Adventures of Teddy” and giving it to my mum. She still has it now, nearly 40 years later!

2) Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Jenny Wilson: There were so many different authors but the one that stands out for me is Lucy M. Boston. The Children of Green Knowe is one book that I keep coming back to even now. I think I have read it about 30 times now and it is still as fresh and as magical as the first time I came across it. I love how a book can stay with you long after you’ve read it and show you things you hadn’t noticed before. Lucy M. Boston’s writing is enchanting. Words are like spells and a well-written book has the power to transport you to anywhere.

3) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Jenny Wilson: My writing routine is just to sit down and do it. Little and often is much better than big long stretches once in a while. If you get into the habit of dedicating a time and a space to do something it becomes automatic.

4) What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Jenny Wilson: I am working on a prequel to The Lighthouse Keeper at the moment. My aim is to show the world that there is magic all around and within us, and that our thoughts have the power to transform our lives.

5) When did you first become interested in stories about magic?

Jenny Wilson: Well, all stories are magical in some way, if the writer can engage the reader and transport them. So in that sense, for as long as I have been reading! But in terms of magical realism, I love the works of Italo Calvino. He makes the everyday seem extraordinary. I love how changing the way you look at something completely transforms that thing. In this sense, words can be like spells.

6) How did being born and raised in Scotland affect your stories?

Jenny Wilson: I think wherever you are born and raised, your environment will seep into your experience one way or another. Scottish weather is not exactly predictable and lends itself quite nicely to curling up with a good book, which suited me perfectly! There are parts of the country where you can feel the magic in the air as well. One of my favourite parts of Scotland is Stirling and the surrounding countryside. There, when you’re standing up on the top of a hill and looking down below at the rolling fields, you really feel that anything is possible and that you are part of something truly magical.

7) What subjects would you like to explore in your writing?

Jenny Wilson: I want to explore how our thoughts shape the world around us and that we are in charge of our thoughts and, therefore, our worlds. I aim to show how nobody is alone, that even though you may feel wretched and powerless, you are part of something and that if you listen carefully within, you already know what to do.

8) What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Jenny Wilson: To just sit down, take a deep breath and do it! I am very easily distracted and I know how easy it is to let other things take over and seem more urgent than they are. For a while, I had the tidiest cutlery drawer in Europe. Now, I am happy to say, I do some writing every day and my drawer has gone back to being a muddle.

9) Where do you see your writing taking you in five years?

Jenny Wilson: I’m working on the prequel to The Lighthouse Keeper: A story of a soul now and aim to have four more book titles in five years.

10) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Jenny Wilson: Writing is my soul mission.

The Lighthouse Keeper CVRThe Lighthouse Keeper: A story of a soul is a book that can show you how magic is all around, and how it can shape your life. The people of Aisenma live in constant fear. Wolves prowl around the Bay of Sevlow. The storytellers have been banished. But a lone boy discovers his inner magic and goes on a journey to save his home and all the people in Aisenma. Join in this fantasy adventure that will remind you that nobody is ever alone, especially if they have their true inner magic.

The Lighthouse Keeper: A story of a soul is available at: and

For more information on Jenny Wilson, visit her website at: Amazon’ Author’s Page.

Interview with Shirley Martin


Shirley Martin is the author of the middle grade novel, Kateri O’Leary and the Computer Mouse.

Looking for a wholesome, middle grade novel for your child? Want to bring them some stabilizing reading during this pandemic? Shirley Martin has a fabulous middle grade book called Kateri O’Leary and the Computer Mouse. It reminds me a lot of a cross between Judy Bloom and Beverly Cleary.

Shirley Martin lives in Canada along the rugged coast of Ucluelet BC. She’s taken some of her childhood experiences and created a relatable spitfire of a main character similar to her younger self. I had a chance to ask Shirley about her memories reading, growing up and writing, and what future projects she has in store for us.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Shirley Martin:  My favourite memory from reading as a child is that delightful sensation of being transported to a different reality. (I still love that about reading!) I was enthralled by ‘The Wind in the Willows’. I loved the adventures in the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ series by Arthur Ransome. I was one of those kids who read late into the night, flashlight under the covers, after being told to turn out the light and get some sleep. Once I was of school age, I’d rush home after school and dive back into a book.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Shirley Martin: One of my favourite authors was Lucy Maud Montgomery. I identified with Anne because of her red hair, and was inspired by her feisty spirit and sense of drama. I also liked the rich descriptions of her environment.

  • Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Shirley Martin: I have a specific writing area and try to work there for several hours every afternoon; that being said, I also wander around the house sporadically during the day, writing in various spots. And sometimes life gets in the way and I go for chunks of time without writing. Then I really miss it!

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Shirley Martin: There are so many subjects I would like to write about! I am working on a local history book, which is a subject I am passionate about. I plan to continue writing books for kids of varying ages, covering many different topics: friendship, creativity, the environment, adventure….the list goes on and on.

  • Did you have pets as a child?

Shirley Martin: When I was kid and we lived in a logging camp, we had two pets, a Calico cat named Judy and a Springer Spaniel named Punch. When we moved the five miles into town, Judy kept returning to the logging camp, so eventually we found her a new home there. It made me sad, but it was obviously what she wanted. Punch loved the water, and flourished in our new home on the bay. We later had another Springer Spaniel named Skipper; he also loved the water. Then I was given a Ginger cat named Gus and an Irish Setter named Belle. Pets were a big part of my growing up experience!

  • Did you have a best friend move away when you were younger?

Shirley Martin: I had a best friend named Penny who moved away with short notice when I was a little girl. Her family left to start a new life, and we never kept in touch. Years later we met up at an out of town Brownie camp, and were thrilled to be reunited!

  • How did you deal with bullies in school?

Shirley Martin: I was never bullied in school. I was teased a lot because of my red hair and freckles; sometimes it upset me, but mainly I just smiled and carried on.

  • What is your favorite thing to do at the beach?

Shirley Martin: My favourite thing to do at the beach is to just sit on a log and take it all in….calm seas or stormy, sea life and birds, boat traffic or silence, I love it all.

  • Do you plan to write more books for the middle grade audience?

Shirley Martin: Yes! I have already written a second book about Kateri O’Leary and plan to publish it later this year. Kateri has captured my imagination and inspired a series.

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Shirley Martin: Writing is a challenging adventure, and a path to fulfillment.

Kateri O'Leary Computer Mouse by Shirley Martin coverKateri O’Leary and the Computer Mouse finds an eleven-year-old girl trying to settle into a new home, school, and fitting into a new life. It doesn’t help she has red hair and freckles that make her a prime target for Clive, the school bully. Luckily, she has a pet mouse to confide in until he escapes at school one day. Can she ever get used to her new home, finish her school project, and avoid Clive? Can she survive the pressure of being the new girl? Can things get any worse?

Kateri O’Leary and the Computer Mouse is available at: and Barnes and

For more information on Shirley Martin, visit her website at: