Tag Archives: featured indie author

February Author Spotlight: Interview with Allison Holland

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bio_picFebruary Featured Author

I’m proud to introduce a fabulous writer. Allison Holland is a children’s picture book author that has left the 9-to-5 corporate world to write children’s books. Of course, her new bosses are brutally honest and a joy to work for. She is the author of the Raspberry Sassafras picture book series. In my exclusive interview with her, she reveals some inspirational authors from her childhood, memories of being an avid reader, and what it’s like in the new job she loves, writing for children.

What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

HeadAllisonBabyThat’s a tough one because I read voraciously as a child. I was like a little swarm of locusts devouring everything I could get my hands on. But the one thing that really stands out for me is when I was given Kay Thompson’s Eloise. Growing up in the late 1960s and early 1970s, feminism and the equal rights movement were undoubtedly in full-swing, but it didn’t seem to trickle down to little girls. We were expected to like dolls and tea sets and patent leather Mary Janes, and Girl Power was a concept on par with having phones you could carry around in your pocket. That is to say, it wasn’t even a consideration. But then Eloise came along, and unlike all the sweet, dainty little girls in my other books, she was a hot mess. Just like me. She was the first book character I could relate to, and I loved it. I loved her. That’s probably why I still have that book on my shelf today.

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

I think I was more drawn to a book’s characters than to its author. I loved Beverly Cleary’s Ramona for much the same reason I loved Eloise, but I don’t recall ever thinking, “I want to be a writer just like Beverly Cleary.” I liked Roald Dahl because he could be a bit dark and sometimes scary. I remember being a bit shaken up that James’ parents were killed in James and the Giant Peach. But, at the same time, it made the story much more interesting than all the typical fluff aimed at readers my age. But the first one that made me want to write like him was Shel Silverstein. Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout was my absolute favorite, and I remember writing long, terrible poems trying to emulate Silverstein. I don’t write poetry anymore (you’re welcome, world) but I feel that I still carry his influence. From him, I learned that every word matters and using the wrong one is like playing the wrong note in a musical piece. It’s noticeable, it stands out, it disrupts the flow.

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

I don’t, actually. I’ll make notes and write down ideas, but I don’t sit down and write for a certain number of hours every day. I write in waves and gushes. When an idea hits me, it hits me all at once. I was driving to meet a friend when the inspiration for Raspberry Sassafras: I Am A Cow struck, and by the time I arrived at my destination, I had the whole story figured out in my head. All I had to do was get it into my laptop when I got home. When I do write, when an idea blossoms in my brain, I can bang away at my computer for hours on end, editing, re-editing and tweaking it, first writing, and then endlessly tweaking it until I’ve taken care of all the sour notes.

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

I’ll definitely be writing more Raspberry Sassafras books … in fact, I’m pretty much done with the story for the fourth book, and I just need to crank out the illustrations. Which can take a while because I’m a terrible artist and I have to tweak my drawing far more than my writing. I want to cover essential things with Raspberry and Jane, things that matter to kids … bullying, being different, peer pressure, loneliness … but I never want to be heavy-handed. I hope that any message or lesson I’m trying to convey wafts gently into the child’s mind and easily sinks in. I never want my books to shout, “This is wrong!” or “This is scary!” Kids are smart, they can absorb a subtle message. I also want to break up the message-parade with some stories that are just for fun … Raspberry In Space, Raspberry Visits The Farm, Raspberry Confronts Her Irrational Fear Of Clowns … hahaha!

What is writing to you in one sentence?

Writing is the key to my identity, my self-confidence and, quite often, my sanity.

RS01_Raspberry_SassafrasAllison Holland’s Raspberry Sassafras picture books series has three darling picture books for children ages 4-9. The first in the series, Raspberry Sassafras, introduces the beloved cow Raspberry Sassafras as she moves from her farm to an apartment in the city. She learns to adapt teaching her friend to except her for who she is. The second book has Raspberry Sassafras exploring the city park, and her encounters with dogs. They learn that being different than others is okay. And in the third book in the series, Raspberry Sassafras, the Flying Cow, embraces her talent and shows it off to the world. All of these picture books can be purchased from Amazon.com and  Barnes and Noble.

For more information on Allison Holland and her other books, visit her website:

https://raspberrysassafras.com/

Buy Links for all three books:

Raspberry Sassafras

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Sassafras-Allison-Holland/dp/B01GLC0RAS

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raspberry-sassafras-allison-holland/1126574449

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The second book in the Raspberry Sassafras series.

Raspberry Sassafras: I Am A Cow

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Sassafras-I-Am-Cow/dp/1365956229

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raspberry-sassafras-allison-holland/1126575024

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The third book in the Raspberry Sassafras series.

Raspberry Sassafras: The Famous Flying Cow

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Sassafras-Famous-Flying-Cow/dp/1365989879

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raspberry-sassafras-allison-holland/1126575037

***Stay tuned for a book review of the Raspberry Sassafras series in the next couple of days! Hit the button on the left, and follow my blog to be updated on all of the new and exciting Indie Authors in Children’s Books!

 

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Back To School Blog Tour Day 4: Featured Author Tiffany Turner

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2017B2SchoolBannerWelcome to day 4 of the Back to School blog tour 2017. Today, I am a featured author and will give you some insight into why the last book in my series has been delayed the last few years, how the progress is going on the last book, and sneak peaks into my writing process.

Who was your favorite children’s author and how did they influence you?

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Tiffany Turner, author of the Crystal Keeper Chronicles

Tiffany Turner: I think the first time I really enjoyed middle grade novels was when I was given a Judy Bloom box set for Christmas. I read through two of the books just during the break. I discovered “Blubber”, “Then Again, Maybe I Won’t” and my favorite, “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?”. I think I copied that at night, talking to God by saying, “Are you there God, it’s me Tiffany” for awhile after that.

I loved her way of getting into your head, like she knew what you were thinking. I try to do that with my characters. Being a teacher helps since I’ve observed 18 years of children talking, and have been told my dialogue has been really realistic. Of course, if your job is talking to children all day, you’re going to pick up any catch phrases or interests that are current, But really, kids all have the same problems of similar generations. Growing up is still hard and an adventure. I love the way Judy captured that, and I try to put it in my books too.

What is your most memorable school moment?

Tiffany Turner: Believe it or not, I have several. There were times I really liked school and times when I didn’t. Some of my best memories come from Fifth Grade when I discovered that I was good at writing. My Fifth Grade teacher encouraged me and had all her students write in journals. That was the first time I kept a journal.

I remember discovering the ultimate power of explaining and telling a story when writing about Daniel Boone for a report. I found out about a personal connection; I’m actually related to him. I added that to the report and included the family personal story. Yes, I got an “A”. It taught me that stories were powerful, and I could have the ultimate power over them, and that was exciting.

Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.
Tiffany Turner:  Yes. In the morning, I do my business end of writing. I update blogs, check email, and work on any promotions I have scheduled. I would also mail books for promos or get that all ready. Then, I have lunch and will often write in the afternoon and/or evenings. I make myself sit down and write once a day. If I sit for at least an hour and write, I consider it productive.

I developed this from doing NaNo (National Novel Writing Month) in November for the last three years. I also started the routine of checking email and doing the business end of writing when I lived in Sydney for 6 weeks during the summer of 2011. So, there are ways to get you into the routine of writing everyday. NaNo helped me, and being abroad in a foreign country really helped me. The secret is to get yourself to focus on your writing once a day. So, isolation, going on a trip or retreat, can really help get you into the practice of doing this.
Was there anything in school that was difficult for you?

Tiffany Turner: Reading was more difficult for me because of my speech and hearing problems when I was younger. I had trouble with some blends, and would slur the middle of words when speaking. I also mixed up my “p” and “b” sounds. So, I think my teachers thought because I read a loud not so well that I didn’t understand what I was reading. Often, I did understand it, but just couldn’t say it right. I still was in an average reading group and highest Math group. But eventually, I did learn to overcome it.

What is writing to you in one sentence?

Tiffany Turner: Something I just have got to do. I would write no matter what. It is my therapy and keeps my sanity. I feel most alive when writing. (So, I cheated a bit. That’s four sentences.)

What projects are you working on right now?

Tiffany Turner: I’m currently working on the last book for the Crystal Keeper Chronicles. It’s called The Lost Secret of Time.  It’s been tricky since I’m winding up the whole series, and it has time travel involved. But it has been a lot of fun because of that too. I’m also planning a prequel in which Brewford will be the narrator and talk about some of his adventures as a cat sorcerer before he starts helping Wanda.

The other reason it has been delayed is that I got very sick at the end of 2014. In fact, I was hospitalized and had to go through physical therapy for 8 months. I did post a whole explanation here. The good news is that I’ve been recovering and getting back my strength, and have semi-retired from teaching. I am working at a tutoring center and teaching in after-school programs at local schools in my area. So, in the end, I’ve overcome this health obstacle and have more time to write now that I’m feeling better.

I’m happy to be finally able to be nearing the end of the Crystal Keeper Chronicles. It has been a 10 year journey, and I hope it brings happiness and adventure to generations of children to come.

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The first book in the Crystal Keeper Series is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

***Tiffany Turner has written three books in the Crystal Keeper Chronicles. Her first book in the series, The Lost Secret of Fairies, is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

spookystoryunitbkcvrPlus, Tiffany Turner has been writing down all of her lesson plans from teaching writing as an elementary school teacher. They are available at TeachersPayTeachers.com. You can get lessons on paragraph parts, Beginning of School writing activities, opinion paragraphs, book report ideas, and writing workshop units for writing mysteries and spooky stories. All are available in her “Making Writing Fun” shop.

**Plus, the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway is still going on. Be sure to head over and enter today!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/20834f9e16/?

 

 

Picture Book Review: Elijah and the Key of Knowledge & Elijah and the City in Danger

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Elijah and the Key of Knowledge starts this fresh take on exploring reading skills.

I had the pleasure of reading Elijah and The Key of Knowledge for this June’s featured children’s book to get your summer reading started. The author, Zachariah Rippee, does a masterful job of pulling readers into the idea that reading gives you knowledge. In fact, the whole Elijah series is full of themes to get kids reading.

The series begins with the picture book, Elijah and The Key of Knowledge. This book starts out with Elijah as an adventurer like in the Indiana Jones movies. He takes his animal friends, ie Calvin and Hobbes, on an adventure with many obstacles blocking the way. He has to enlist the help of his friends to best the things thrown into his path. It all ends when he finally discovers the secret to the key of knowledge. You guessed it, reading.

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Elijah and the City in Danger is the second in the Elijah series.

The second book in the series I liked better than the first. It has Elijah now using his imagination to become a superhero in Elijah and The City in Danger. In this picture book, Elijah is now a masked hero charged with the safety of THE CITY. He must fight giant dinosaurs, robots and aliens to keep the City safe all while using his imagination, the biggest super power of all.

I really enjoyed the spontaneous joy in these two picture books. Mr. Rippee presents a fun, playful world in which a child uses his reading powers to create big adventures and be the star of his own imagination. The series would make a great read-aloud for teachers wanting to emphasis reading skills, and parents wanting to motivate their little ones to read. The Elijah series would be a great way to start off your summer reading as well.

Elijah and the Key of Knowledge is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Elijah and the City in Danger is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

-Tiffany Turner

Head writer and editor of the Indie Children’s Authors Connection

*Tiffany Turner is the head writer and editor for the Indie Children’s Authors Connection and author of her own middle grade children’s fantasy adventure series, the Crystal Keeper Chronicles. She has taught elementary students the love of reading and writing for 18 years, and currently has moved to writing full time. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and cat. The cat, of course, is the center of attention.

 

 

Back to School Blog Tour 2015: Day 4 Featured Author Lee Winter

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2015 Back to School Blog Tour: DAY FOUR

2015 Back to School Blog Tour: DAY FOUR

Welcome to Day 4 of the Back to School Blog Tour 2015! If you haven’t signed up for the giveaways, they are all listed on the Back to School Blog Tour page. Plus, there are freebie ebooks available for download listed on the Blog Tour page as well.  Each day, new fabulous items are being added. So keep coming back each day.

Today’s featured author is Lee Winter. 

Lee Winter has just released her first novel in the Free-Range Kids Mysteries series, “Angus Adams: the adventures of a free-range kid”, for kids 9-12. Lee is the mother of two boys who keep her on her toes and provide plenty of material to write about. In addition to writing, Lee enjoys painting and cooking. Of course, she also loves to read but this doesn’t usually happen until she falls into bed in an exhausted heap each evening. Oh…and she somehow manages to squeeze in a day job as a research psychologist in parenting and child behavior.

Lee shares her school memories, writing inspirations, and what she’ll be up to with future projects.

Lee Winter is the author of the novel, Angus Adams: Adventures of a Free Range Kid

Lee Winter is the author of the novel, Angus Adams: Adventures of a Free Range Kid

1) Who was your favorite author, and how did they influence your writing?

Lee: When I was very young my mother would read Enid Blyton books to us at bedtime. I was completely hooked on the Magic Faraway Tree, the Famous Five, and the Secret Seven books. Reading those books allowed for escape into other worlds where adventures could and did happen. I’m now reading those same books to my 7 year old and am quite struck by how normal ‘free-range’ was in days gone by. This really was an inspiration for Angus. So much easier for a free-range kid to have an adventure!

 2) What is your most remembered Back to School memory?

Lee: I still remember my first day at school. Shiny new shoes and bag, clutching my mother’s hand as we all waited our turn for the teacher to greet us and invite us into the classroom. Around me, some children were crying and not wanting their mothers to leave. Me? I just couldn’t wait to get at the books!

 3) Did you have any subjects that were difficult for you in school?

Lee: I was lucky, I loved school and was quite academic so didn’t really encounter many difficulties. That said, once at high school I did find mathematics challenging. Perseverance, setting achievable goals and seeking support when necessary saw me through and I now encourage my kids to do the same.

 4) Do you have a writing routine?

Lee: When I’m not in the office, the kids are at school and hubby’s at work – I write. Housework, errands, and catch-ups with friends are all put on hold. I can do all of those things with the kids around but for writing I need solitude, so I don’t waste a minute of it. Either that or have to get up at 3am for writing time, which is not fun L

5) How would you summarize how writing is for you in one sentence?

 Lee: Writing is challenging, rewarding, terrifying, exhilarating, painful, and completely necessary all at the same time.

 6) What other projects or books are you working on right now?

Lee: I’ve just started the second Free-Range Kid Mystery – “Angus Adams and the Missing Pro Surfer”. I’ve also made the short list for a writing competition which involved submitting the synopsis and first chapter for a kids’ chapter book series (Lochie and the Magic Animal Doctor). Now I have to finish the book!

To find out more about Lee Winter, visit her at:

Her blog: http://leewinter.net/index.php/blog/

Her facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/LeeWinterAuthor

Angus Adams: Adventures of a Free Range Kid is the debut novel for Lee Winters available at Amazon.

Angus Adams: Adventures of a Free Range Kid is the debut novel for Lee Winters available at Amazon.

Lee Winter’s is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift card during the blog tour.
Angus Adams: The Adventures of a Free Range Kid is available for purchase on Amazon. On discount promo for $0.99 until Sept. 15.