That was my thought when my 13 year-old-daughter asked me to write her a story.
“You know, Mom. The good old-fashion type like Narnia and Lord of The Rings,” she said in a very serious tone.
I fought against displaying surprise at her request. I knew she didn’t like anything too dark or gruesome, and very opposed to vampires. Her desire was for a hero-quest adventure, daring-do and fun. What writer doesn’t like a challenge? And what mother wants to disappoint her child? So I agreed.
True, I wrote for children’s television back in the 1980s, which is one reason she asked. My true passion for writing lay with historical fiction! I was knee-deep in writing about swashbuckling musketeers, Roundheads and Cavaliers, not trolls, dragons and the like. Where do I start? The only place I could - I reread Tolkien and Lewis. I hadn’t picked up those books since childhood.
What I discovered with Tolkien is that he relied heavily on mythology and history to craft his world and the different people of Middle Earth. Suddenly things began to click for me about how I could mesh my love for history with fantasy to make a believable world.
I barely started writing, when my daughter shared with her school friends how her “mom” was writing her an epic fantasy. Really? I only completed two chapters! Next thing I know, my house is swarming with kids after school bombarding me with questions about the story. I barely knew what I was doing, but these kids were well versed in the fantasy realm.
However, after a few weeks, the conversations with the kids turned from the story to more personal topics. You see Nashville has a large immigrant/refuge population, a surprising fact many outside Tennessee don’t realize. Some of the kids either immigrated to the U.S. or where the first generation born in America. They came from Iraq, Laos, Kenya, Somalia, Egypt thus from various religious backgrounds. But they had factors in common – difficulty assimilating and discouraged about what they found in the U.S.
In their countries, America is seen as a Christian land of hope and opportunity. Hope is main thing these kids wanted. They knew our family was Christian and began asking hard questions. Why do Americans think this? Why do Christians believe that? I answered as best I could, while the conversations sparked me to illustrate their troubles, questions and desire. As a result, the original single fantasy book became an allegorical series with the aim of giving kids the hope they needed.
Each book in the series covers various topics, including different beliefs, cultural challenges, tension with parents and sibling rivalry. All this happens while testing the mettle, heart and courage of the characters. No matter how dangerous and bleak the situation becomes, there is always a message of hope.
I’ve seen a few of those kids since they graduated with my daughter nearly ten years ago. They marvel when I tell them how they helped to shape ALLON. The series has branched out to a children’s trilogy for ages 8-10 with the same theme.
Today, I carry that message of hope to conventions and events where I speak and sign copies of the books.
Adults, listen to children. It is the best thing you can do for them. And you may learn something along the way.
Born and raised in northern California, Christina has made it her life work to be of service through accountability in her communities. Christina understands people, local businesses, and their needs. She connects all through humanistic marketing as she creates an awareness of a need. She believes a community has the conscious choice to contribute or find avenues that can. In addition, Christina serves on the Vacaville Community Services Commission appointed by the mayor, is acting President of the Optimist club of Solano County and owns a public relations and marketing company, Little Wing Connections. Christina volunteers her time to Solano County Office of Education’s Career Technical Education high school program and facilitates a monthly business networking luncheon based on accountability and contribution, keeping local business owners informed of any community needs. Christina has highly endorsed her local Chambers of Commerce’s throughout the years by serving as an Ambassador for the chambers that she has been a member of and in the 2013-2014 term, she was awarded the KI Jones Award by the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce.
Recently, Christina has partnered with former Miss Vacaville, Hazel Payne on a quest to bring child sexual abuse prevention trainings to her community. Christina works with local non-profits, organizations, religious affiliations and legislation to deter predators from harming today's youth.
Her passion for running is in alignment for how she lives her life in a day to day environment. Creating a space to always go a little bit farther, accomplishing feats that were once thought to be unattainable, she appears to continually train for life’s marathon. This book is her journey as a committed student of compassion and growth, who loves and serves to the best of her ability.
Nicole Rickman currently lives in Lawrence County, Kentucky with her husband and their nine year old son Luke. He is a true blessing from God to them because Nicole gave birth to him nearly one year after she was told she would never be able to have children.
Nicole loves being a small town country girl and you can definitely tell this when you hear her talk. She was raised in West Virginia and has a large extended family she loves dearly. Her parents raised her and her siblings to love God and do his work above all things.
The most inspiring person in her life was her mother. The loss of her mother a little over a year ago was one of the hardest battles she has endured during her adulthood but at the same time being with her mom as she took her last breathe will be a testimony Nicole will never forget. The instant her mom’s heart stopped a peace was in the room and you knew she was no longer in pain.
It is losing her mother that inspired Nicole to put her life into prospective and follow her dreams, because we never know when our last day on earth will be. She wants to be found doing what God wants her to do and she feels writing Christian Fiction is a call from God.
Nicole writes Christian Fiction Novels and her first series is called Love’s Not Easy Series. Aimee Pittman is the main character in the series and is a very strong willed person who is confident in her Christianity. She doesn’t like to be told what to do which causes her trouble down the road
The first book of the Series is called Finding Me. Finding me will introduce you to most of the characters and the first mystery of the series. The loss of her mother and grandmother as a child and leads Aimee to their home country to find out more about them. When she starts studying at a college in Neahovia she learns that her mother and Gran’s life and death is a mystery. The journey Aimee takes with her friends is so exciting and keeps you wondering what is around the next corner.
The Second book is called Breakthrough and the title speaks mounds about the book. In this book Aimee makes many breakthroughs in her life when she learns about some unexpected details in her Gran’s Will. On top of adapting to a new role in life she finds herself in trouble when she gets involved in a bad relationship and finds even more mysteries in her mom’s diary. Can Aimee make the necessary breakthroughs to see the lessons God want her to learn. One thing for sure God has big changes in store for Aimee and her friends.
The third book is a work in process titled Missing Pieces. In this book, Aimee is faced with new challenges in her fourth semester of school as she discovers there is a Judas in her life who is trying to help destroy the things her mom and Gran worked so hard for. The diaries reveals a lot of missing pieces that show Aimee unless she finds a way to piece the puzzle together she was never going to know the truth to her mom and Gran’s secret life. In the midst of trying to piece her mom’s history together she is trying to assist in the plans of a friend’s wedding and maintain her straight A’s in school. Will Aimee miss what God wants her to learn because of her desire to find out the truth behind the missing pieces?
She is also working on a second series named The Mayleigh Lusk Series. The first book Beautiful You is in a work in progress. Beautiful You is a story about Mayleigh Lusk who is dealing with body image issues because she is a size twelve in a size 0-6 world. The question in Mayleigh’s life is can she accept herself as she is and realize that God made her beautiful.
Finding Me and Breakthrough are available on Smashwords, Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes and Noble.
If you have ever considered writing and publishing a book – my advice is to go for it.
I have always been a writer, creating stories as a teenager, using journaling to process my feelings, and 10 years ago I wrote a book of therapy techniques, so after some encouragement from my husband I recently decided to focus more on the writer inside me.
So far my books have been non-fiction, but I have plans to do some young adult historical fiction as well. Many years ago I co-authored a book about therapy techniques for women with eating disorders, based on my work as a recreational therapist. That book was published in 2001. I wanted to get back into writing/publishing ever since then. After a yearlong struggle with an incredibly mean spirited uterus, my husband said "Honey, you should write a book", so I did. Earlier this year, I released “The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus.”
My book is simply my story, told in a very honest way, with lots of truth and even more humor (because let’s face it – this stuff is funny). It helped me to deal with the crazy procedures and the uncertainty that I was facing. I decided to call my book, The Misadventures of Me and My Uterus, because it really explained the year that I had gone through.
My most recent book is “Fearless and Feminine, Raising Confident Daughters.” This book delivers a successful and practical approach to raising strong, confident daughters, helping them become the amazing women they were meant to be. As a recreational therapist and professional educator, I wanted to share my personal and professional experience to guide parents and other caregivers of girls, providing them the tools to help their daughters embrace being both Fearless & Feminine.
I love how accessible publishing is currently. As a later in life writer, I decided to take advantage of all of the publishing opportunities available today and not simply wait and hope for a publishing house to pick me up. I know it’s a gamble, but even if I am not on the NY times best seller list right away (which of course I should be – my books are fabulous), at least my books are out there and I know people are getting the chance to read them.
I think every writer has a unique voice and style of writing. In “The Misadventure of Me and My Uterus”, I kept the book very informal and tried to use humor as much as I could. In my newest book, I have tried to blend both personal and professional experience in an authentic and straightforward way to guide parents and give them the tools to help their daughters be as confident as they can be. My writing comes from a very genuine and honest place, I want to share what I have learned in order to help others. Hopefully, that comes through in my writing.
I really think there has never been a better time to write and publish a book. As the popularity of ebooks continues to grow exponentially, authors have so many choices for publication. There are unending technology tools and resources available for writers. No longer do authors have to spend days at the local library, trying to read old microfiche films, now just a few clicks on your lap top can yield the research needed for your latest book setting. If you don’t want to go the traditional route of an agent and a publishing house, Indie publishing firms abound. Once a book is written, authors have a plethora of marketing tools at their disposal through a whole host of social media platforms. The tools for writing have improved so much, anyone with a computer and enough motivation can become a writer – at any age.
In addition to writing, I love hanging out with my wonderful husband and my three big lovable dogs. If I am not reading or writing, you might find me getting lost on Pinterest, going swimming, travelling with my husband or watching sports. I am an avid fan of my alma mater, Arizona State University. My husband and I attend all the Sun Devil football and basketball games. My husband is from Green Bay, so of course we watch all of the Packer Football games too.
Author & Blogger
Looking on the Sunnyside
Author Kai Storm is a new face in the Urban Literary world, has brought us shining jewels called Alani’s Bigger Hustle & Alani’s Hustle Gets Bigger. Kai was born in Panama in 1972 and came to New York in 1981 with her mother. She discovered her writing gift as a junior at Boys & Girls High School when an English teacher gave her an assignment to develop a story from just one paragraph and since then, her pen was hot. Thru the years, Kai continued to write any and everything not only to keep her gift alive but also for therapeutic reasons, either way her pen and paper kept her sane. In December 2007, Kai was working at a hospital as a temp and even though the assignment was over the first week of December the hospital kept her on for two more weeks just so that she would have money for Christmas presents but there was nothing for her to do during those two weeks so she decided to pen the first three chapters of Alani’s Bigger Hustle. Only after she submitted the first three chapters did she decide to write the rest of the book “just to see what I would do with it”, and when she pushed this out, it was nothing but fire!
“This story literally lived inside of me since I was 12 years old, it grew up with me and I knew one day it would be out in the world for all to see, it just had too!”
Kai was first signed to a publishing house in August 2008 and because she was so excited about the whole venture she never fully researched the company and the works they produced and because Kai had her own personal life issues, she never fully pushed for the book to be released. Once things in her life calmed down and she was ready to be published, in October 2010 she discovered the company was not all ready to put out her book and thru Author to Author connections that she made on Facebook, she found a publishing company that was not only ready, they couldn’t wait to sign her on. This company was Twenty First Street Urban Editing & Publishing, LLC and they along with Kai, brought Alani’s Bigger Hustle to life.
When meeting Kai for the first time, you can see the excitement that she has about her book, the confidence and the great work ethic she exudes is intense and the best part of all is that it’s genuine to the core. Kai always has promotional information about her book, upcoming book signings and events and anything she is currently working on, and if you are an up and coming author seeking advice, Kai will go above and beyond to provide all the information you need because “If we supported each other more we could rule the world!”
Kai is not only a writer but also a mom. In 1997 Kai was blessed with her first daughter named Africa who taught her the real meaning of life and responsibility and the lesson was so overwhelmingly beautiful that she had another daughter named Agodess in 2009. All in all, Kai is a woman that is thankful for all her blessings and plans to continue writing as long as she can. Her third novel is promising to be hot thriller; it’s called You Just Don’t Know, it’s written under genre erotica kink and the best part of all….Miss Kai Storm is gracing the cover of her third book! Kai has recently been hired to write inspirational stories for Elation Magazine and because she brings a sense of ‘real’ to the Elation also gave her the responsibility of running their author feature section called Kai’s Corner and she wrote a contributing story for a group collaboration book called Sistah’s With Ink Voices. In the near future, you will hear about another anthology called Lipstick 3 where Kai will be dropping another jewel called “Love Vibe” as she continues to do book signings and events around the country and continues to write great reads. Recently because of her popularity online, Kai has been approached by all her fans to start blogging from her sites nattiekai.com and nattiekai.wix./kaistorm so she decided to go roll with the idea. Every week on her sites she features new authors and/or anything new going on with Kai Storm. On Facebook, Kai is nicknamed “The hardest worker in the business!” and when you meet her you know why, as soon as you see the hat with her book names on it and that smile, you know why!
ALANI’S BIGGER HUSTLE & ALANI’S HUSTLE GETS BIGGER BY KAI STORM
World Renowned Author of Urban Literature
Twenty First Street Urban Editing & Publishing, LLC.
Of the seven billion people currently living on this planet, there are probably thousands who yearn to be authors. Some are practicing their craft while others may be perfecting it. Even if one has the talent for articulating thoughts or weaving yarns, the problem arises in having it read by an audience. A few, if not most, author’s work would probably not see the light of day. Others who might have the guts or the persuasion might get in touch with publishers; sometimes, they get rejected. So, they proceed to another one. And another one. And another one.
Waiting for your work to be scrutinized often takes a lot of resources, especially with regards to finances. However, there are also ways where you give it a go even without a big publishing company’s help. Marketing-wise, you can join a book competition. If you even get on the long list, you’ve gotten some exposure. But if you make it as a winner, then you have gained exposure, visibility and credibility. Being recognized as a book awardee means that you are capable of producing a literary piece that is worth buying and reading.
As an independent author, you get far-reaching and often costly (if done individually) exposure through interviews, feature articles, newsletters or even just a list of authors. Those who look and read such articles and interviews are often agents, literary critics, publishers, librarians, book distributors and purchasers from bookstores. If you have the seal that indicates you have met the standards set by librarians and booksellers, other buyers – experts or not – are sure to purchase your work. That is why, entering book awards such as Foreword’s Book of the Year Awards is sought by independent authors.
The amount you expend to join the awards is less than the publicity you get when you make it as a winner or even just to the finalist round. There is a return on investment. The IndieFab Awards has 62 categories with 248 winners in all. Winners receive cash prizes and the possibility of increased sales as well as prestige. Prestige comes from the fact that entries shall be judged by a panel of librarians and booksellers according to editorial excellence, originality of the narrative, professional production, the value the title adds to the genre and author credentials.
For the IndieFab Awards, any independently published literary works, including ebooks, that were published this year, 2014, are eligible for entry. Independent literary works shall refer to self publishers including large privately owned publishers, university presses and literary presses. Such works must be published in the United States. New editions of books may be entered if extensive changes have been made to its editorial content and the said work has a new International Standard Book Number. The deadline for submission of entries is January 15, 2015.
Visit https://publishers.forewordreviews.com/awards/ to get a chance to win this prestigious award!
With a myriad of options and distractions available to children, getting their attention would be a heavy competition. There’s TV, video games, computers and gadgets. This puts on a burden for illustrators to grab the short attention span of children. Even if parents buy and tell their children to read books, they might not seem interesting to children especially if their covers look drab. It’s good if a peer has read a particular book and shares it with another because of how enjoyable the content is; the book just might have a following. Children are also more apt to read books when the characters are familiar to them or when the book is part of a series.
For new books and authors to break through and have a following, not just among children, but also among parents, teachers and libraries, they must be able to deliver what children want. At first glance, children want attractive covers. Among teens, they want fascinating blurbs. These are two points which authors, illustrators and publishers have to keep in mind. They, as well as parents, teachers and libraries, can get some help from books which have been adjudged as worth-buying from award-giving bodies.
One award-giving body which chooses books under several different categories is the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. It honors children’s books and their authors and illustrators. It is a book award targeted toward books written in English or Spanish and intended for the North American market. Books that have been released since October 1, 2012 or those with a copyright date of 2013 or 2014 are eligible to join the contest. Over 40 print book categories and six ebook categories have been allotted. Some of them are: board books/cloth books, alphabet/counting books, cut-out books, activity books, books with music, picture books, juvenile, young adult and pre-teen fiction, children’s poetry, non-fiction books, books on religion/spirituality, holidays and those with merchandise.
There are also categories for books written in the Spanish language, books about environmental issues, health issues, literacy and self-esteem. Awards for the best book series will also be given. As for ebooks, fiction, non-fiction, picture books and the best ebook on language shall likewise be awarded. Judges will look at a book’s content, design, originality and production quality with an emphasis on social relevance. Awarding of winners shall be done during the Traverse City Children’s Book Festival in Traverse City, Michigan sometime in November 2014. Therefore, all entries must be in by September 1, 2014.
Winners will receive a medal, certificate and 20 sample seals. These seals indicate that their books are considered as worthy of children’s possession. This, in turn, means increased sales and visibility for authors, illustrators and publishers. Once their names are familiar to buyers, they won’t have trouble reaching their audience. Children’s books become sellable once adults and children are already familiar with their names. So why not join the competition? Get entry forms at https://secure.independentpublisher.com/secure/moonbeam/entry.php
These days, you can find books that are attuned to your lifestyle and health in numerous bookshelves. There are also books on parenting, home and garden, including books on interior design that are targeted toward do-it-yourselfers. Such books save you dollars apart from imparting knowledge on what looks best for your home. Then there are cookbooks that not only enumerate ingredients and procedures but also give nutritional information. Some go as far as giving alternative ingredients for a special diet, like that of diabetics and celiac disease sufferers. There are also some that follow a diet plan for obese people or people who simply want to look trim and fit.
With the myriad of books out there, it may be confusing to buyers to pick which one suits them and which are worth buying. Luckily, there’s the Living Now Book Awards. Being chosen as a recipient of these awards gains you credibility since winning books are assessed by judges based on the book’s content, originality, production quality and design. Winning books must show creativity and innovation within its pages. When you do win these awards, you will be awarded with gold, silver or bronze medals along with foil award seals, certificate, program and marketing material.
You can use the foil award seals to signify that your book has been adjudged a trustworthy material that can contribute to the well-being of the buyer. The program is for the awarding ceremony. And of course, once you have been certified as a Living Now Book Awardee, you can expect a boost in sales given the honor and marketing material that comes with being an awardee.
There are 30 categories in which your book can qualify. Each book can even be entered more than once in different categories; each category has a corresponding entry fee even if it is the same book. Categories include: cookbooks, crafts/hobbies, journals/planner, animals/pets, green living (such as alternative energy and conservation), budgeting, social activism, personal growth, sexuality, relationships, spirituality, psychic development, exercise, wellness, meditation, healing arts and so much more. Aside from the 30 different categories for the Living Now Book Awards, there are also five categories for the Living Now Evergreen Book Medal.
Categories for the Living Now Evergreen Book Medal are: Living Now Evergreen Book Medal (LVEBM) for World Peace, LVEBM for Health & Wellness, LVEBM for Personal Growth, LVEBM for Spiritual Leadership and LVEBM for Nature Conservation. Entries for these categories are open for books published since January 1, 2000 until October 2012. For those who are unsure of which category to enter, they may notify the award-giving body along with their entry. The award-giving body is accepting entries until July 31, 2014 only.
To enter, please visit: http://www.livingnowawards.com/how_to_enter.php