Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Interview with authors Don and Cathy Rush

Don and Cathy Rush are the authors of Robby’s Quest Series: Robby’s Quest for Seed; Robby’s Quest: Ocean Bound; and Robby’s Quest: Return of the Cat. These books were Reviewed by Children's Book Examiner.

1.  In your research on birds, what significant information about birds did you discover?

We did a little research on a few things such as the type of birds that live in Ohio, how fast the birds actually fly, physical size and colors of the birds and what they might enjoy eating. However, we noticed something interesting:

Cathy and I love to sit outside in our back yard and watch the birds. To us, birds are graceful and wonderful creatures. We normally fill the bird feeder with seed every morning. We noticed that sometimes, after we have filled the birdfeeder, it would be empty just two hours later. We began watching a little closer and we noticed the smaller birds kicking seed to the ground for the larger birds to eat. We could see the seed flying all over the place. It was very amusing. While the little Sparrows were kicking seed to the ground, the Doves were beneath them packing it away. The remaining birds patiently waited their turn while sitting on the block wall in the back of the yard. There seemed to be some structure and teamwork involved in how the birds interacted.

2.  How were you inspired to write about the birds?

We wondered how the birds could actually fly all those miles, south for the winter, and what problems they might run into along the way. We decided to write a short story about bird migration. Soon we had a few pages, then a few chapters. Before you know it, our birds were taking us on a wonderful adventure. We made sure the birds traveled to places we have previously visited or lived so we would be familiar with at least some of the geography. Then, since the birds had to communicate with each other, we added dialogue to our stories. Were the birds speaking to each other, and if so what were they saying? We wanted to create an adventure story that children would enjoy reading.

After we finished the first book, we were encouraged to write the second then third books. We chose San Diego as the destination for the second book because the ocean is my favorite place to visit. Cathy came up with the idea of the birds traveling to Las Vegas to see the wonderful sights for our third book.

3.  Is there a particular reason you chose a Robin to be the leader of the pack?

Our original title was “Quest for Seed.” Our friends thought that there should be a main character in the book so we chose Robby. Robins are beautiful birds and are larger than most of the Doves and Sparrows. We thought Robby would make a very good leader.

Actually, Robby likes to discuss all decisions with his peers and have the birds vote on the critical issues. He flies at the front of the pack mainly because he is experienced and a very strong flyer. Robby does not have a problem listening to others for the overall good of the flock. Robby gives encouragement to others. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for his friends. This makes him the perfect leader.

4.  What do you want your readers to learn from your books?

First, we want the children to enjoy reading the books. We think they are fun to read and we hope the adventures will keep the children interested. Initially we did not have illustrations in our books. That was a mistake and we have since added some very colorful pictures. We would like children to enjoy watching and feeding birds. Birds are beautiful and graceful creatures we should all admire. Besides that, we want the children to learn a little about teamwork, leadership, democracy and especially friendship.

5.  Are there more books in the series of Robby's Quest?

We have the three titles now, Robby’s Quest for Seed; Robby’s Quest: Ocean Bound; and Robby’s Quest: Return of the Cat. All three books are available on eBook from Amazon and paperback from Createspace. We have just finished producing Robby’s Quest for Seed in audio book format. Tracy Elman, voice-over expert from Los Angeles, beautifully narrated the book. All audio books will be available at, and iTunes. Once we publish Robby’s Quest for Seed in audio format, we will publish the second and third books soon thereafter. 

We recently began our fourth book about the birds traveling north along the coastal highway from San Diego to San Francisco. This is a beautiful and scenic route. We expect the birds to make plenty of fun stops along the trip. We would expect them to stop in L.A., Big Sur, Carmel, maybe the Redwoods National Park and possibly even Alcatraz Island. We can see the birds playing on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. We just hope Joy and Josie don’t get themselves in trouble again.

Eventually the birds will make their way back to Ohio, where it all began.  In addition, Hershey the Cat will be searching for his siblings. His travels will take him to Minnesota. We wonder what will happen if Hershey crosses paths with the birds again? All together, we would like to write a total of five books on the series, but we’ll have to wait and see what the future brings.

Please visit us on our website for the latest information on Robby’s Quest.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Introducing Sarah Hill, author of Whimsy Wood Series

This is a guest blog post by Sarah Hill, author of Posie Pixie and The Copper Kettle - book 1 in her children’s series, Whimsy Wood.

Sarah Hill is a small animal Vet. Having studied Veterinary Medicine at Bristol University, she qualified in 1999 and worked in practice for 10 yrs. At that point, she had her second daughter and soon after decided to take a career break. She now writes her series of children’s books, the ‘Whimsy Wood’ series, at home in Wiltshire with her husband, two daughters, two dogs, two cats and ‘a partridge in a pear tree’! They are expecting their third child this July.

The books in her series are all based in a woodland setting called ‘Whimsy Wood’. The series is divided into five sets, each containing seven books, making a total of thirty-five books in the series. Each book is written for a specific month in the year, so the flora and fauna change accordingly as you read through the series. Finally, there is a proverb hidden within each story for the reader to find, giving the story a real meaning. The majority of characters within the series are woodland creatures, with the occasional pixie or fairy and a dollop of humour thrown in!

Book 1 sets the scene for the rest of the series and explains why Posie Pixie finds herself in Whimsy Wood. “How does the copper kettle come into it?” I hear you ask! Aaaah…. Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out! Please check out the Facebook page ‘Whimsy Wood Series’, where you can see some of the beautiful illustrations, done by the very talented Sarah Mauchline, which will appear in this book.

Posie Pixie and The Copper Kettle will be published by Abela Publishing by the end of July 2013.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review | The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake by Beryl Reichenberg

Written and illustrated by Beryl Reichenberg, The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake is a fun read for children ages 3 to 6.

The story begins with a birthday party for Freda the Frog and a yummy chocolate cake, but when all the animals were playing hide and seek, Freda noticed that her cake was missing. Soon everyone was on the hunt for clues that would lead to the missing cake.

Hunting for clues is an effective way of getting readers to interact with the story, and it’s also good to get their imaginations soaring. A good example of this is seen when Molly the Mouse imagined all kinds of wild monsters when they discovered the clue of the big footprints!
Reichenberg successfully brings out the typical (as we know it) character traits of the animals; for example, Molly the Mouse is timid, Jackie Jay has a sharp eye and is very observant, and Rocky the Racoon is very inquisitive - playing the part of the detective and leading the group to look for clues.  The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake encourages bravery, observation, friendship and kindness. It shows the importance of working together as a team and has a good lesson about kindness that can be grasped quite easily by readers of all ages. The illustrations of the animals are uniquely blended with photography of scenes of nature. This lends to the realistic imagery of the book.

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Birthday Cake can be used to teach sequence of events and it’s a great read-aloud story time book for pre-schoolers and kindergartners.
Connect with the author and check out other fun reads by Beryl Reichenberg on her blog!
Happy Reading!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Interview with Jeanne Rogers, author of The Sword of Demelza

Thanks again for an absolutely wonderful Review of my book The Sword of Demelza. I can tell you that I, and all my characters are thrilled!

1. Are you a first time children's book author and Australian born?

I am not an Australian, maybe a little in my heart. I was born in NYC, the Bronx to be exact, and raised in New Jersey. I received my degree from Western Connecticut State University, and now reside in Connecticut. It’s a far cry from Australia, but you can be sure Australia seems to have always been a part of me. There has been a strong connection since I was very young, and the theme seemed to follow me into adulthood. I will be visiting Australia for the very first time this month, visiting with dear friends in Melbourne. I hope to take many pictures of the creatures that are mentioned in my book!

2. What made you want to write about endangered animal species in Australia?

I must tell you that I have a sincere reverence for life on this planet, and I make a point to try to teach that it is we, the human population, which can either positively or negatively effect our environment. This includes the myriad species of animals on earth.  I was always very interested in animals. My mother was very tolerant. As a matter of fact, she didn’t mind too much when one day I brought home a snake. She didn’t even mind when he got lose for two days, finally slithering out from beneath the refrigerator! She liked the mice, and when I was in college she didn’t seem to mind the iguana, even after he grew to a length of about four feet from head to tip of tail. But, I digress; it’s Australia’s animals that you were asking about. The short answer is, what child doesn’t love, or isn’t fascinated by koala bears (they aren’t bears, by the way), and kangaroos? Oh, did I answer your question with a question? Oops, doing it again. Anyway, my fascination with koalas and kangaroos led to the discovery of the many other incredible animals that live in the land down under. Did you know that eighty percent of the world’s poisonous critters live in OZ? The fact that many of Australia’s animals are endangered just fueled my passion even further. This, my first book, is a vehicle to inform youngsters. I intend on ‘teaching’ in schools and libraries preparing an interesting and informative presentation that I hope will spark an interest in youngsters and maybe their parents as well. Wouldn’t that be nice!

3. In your Author's Note of The Sword of Demelza, I especially liked that you said, "The characters actually bugged me. They were alive in my head, and they wanted out...!" What was the research and writing process like for you?

Every animal, plant and place that is mentioned in the book was researched. The places are real, the animals are real, and the names of the trees and plants are real. I became familiar with the status of the animals as stated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN). However, not every animal in the book is endangered, some are actually not even indigenous to the country, and I did use some license in this respect. As to my writing process, I have been told that many writers create outlines. I don’t do that. I sort of dream the story. It runs through my mind like a movie, and then I write brief paragraphs, describing what is happening. The paragraphs become chapters, I’m constructing a skeleton, so to speak, binding them together to make the story flow. Then I build on that skeleton until the story is established, continually working and re-working until it all comes to life. Along the way, the characters are roaming around in my head. They talk to me, helping to point me in the direction they want to go. I don’t argue with them.

4. Tell me a little about Devon and why you left him hidden for the first twelve chapters of the book?

I left Devon out of the picture for a two reasons. First, I wanted to establish a link between Devon and my reader. After becoming invested in him, and he disappears, I am hoping my reader would pine a little for him, and his troubled character, thus reading on, turning each page in hopes that he would be in the next chapter. Secondly, I wanted to establish the clarity of the subplot, building the suspense with Erik and Emma. My hope would be that readers would be excited and thrilled to find that Erik and Emma would lead them right into Devon, which, of course, they do.

5. What do you wish to achieve in the minds of your readers?

What I would like children, and youngsters to take away from this book, are a few simple yet important moral lessons. The problem of endangered animals is truly a side issue from the story itself. I want young people to recognize that it’s not what you are that counts, it’s not how big or strong you are that counts, it’s the conviction of your heart, it’s the decisions that you make along life’s road, and the people that you meet along the way that make you what you are. I want them to recognize that there are so many different people in the world, and we may seem singular, but if we work together we can accomplish great things, and we have! Like Perry, the wolf spider says in the book to Erik, “…I am a part of the forest…you will see, young man, maybe sooner than you expect, that you too are a small piece of the whole, and will play your part accordingly.” Every life matters, no matter how small, every child matters. We adults need to impress this upon them. They need to know this, it’s very important.

6. What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on another Australian Fantasy Adventure. It’s titled, The Gift of Sunderland. This book will be very exciting, lots of fantasy, and sorcery. It will bring readers back to the beginning, the forging of the sword, and will introduce new characters. However, readers of The Sword of Demelza may recognize some characters. I’m very excited about it. It is well underway, and should be available this time next year. I also will be having more sketches produced by the wildly talented Guy Atherfold. It’s gonna be good! 
Follow and connect with the author on her blog.

Interview with Joanne Lécuyer, author and owner of Topsy Books

1.  You are the owner of Topsy Books and you currently have three books in print. What are the names of the books and what age groups are they appropriate for?

I’ve self-published three books The Witch, the Cat and the Egg, Kaptain Vamp, and The Tales of Anex and Bit. They are early chapter books for kids between the ages of 6 to 10.

2.  Your most recent publication is The Tales of Anex and Bit. If you were only allowed to describe the book in one sentence, what would it be?
A novice sorcerer and his amusing even slightly sarcastic cat roam the countryside, and beyond, learning about the meaning of magic.

3.  Do you recall your first idea on writing this book; were you inspired by anything in particular?

I can’t say that I recall anything specific. I really like everything that is magical, and Merlin is my favorite character.  I think the title of the book came first. My original plan was to create a short comic story that I could post on my website – one strip a week or a month.

4.  Tell me a little about the characters Anex and Bit. For instance, is there a special meaning behind the name Anexralis Plax?

Anex is a young sorcerer. He’s kind hearted, wants to help the peasants with his magic. But he’s a little awkward. His magic spells don’t always work out on the first try, but he’s determined. For his full name Anexralis Plax, I wanted something that sounded wizardly, that could be shortened and used also in French.

His companion Bit is kind of a strange cat. He’s going to be a more complex character. He can understand what Anex says, but doesn’t speak (at least yet!). We are not sure if he is real or magical? He’s kind of an observer in the first book, but will evolve throughout the series.

5.  Why did you choose to do The Tales of Anex and Bit as a graphic novel/comic book?
As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to do something short that I could post on my website. But I also wanted to explore another style of writing. It’s different writing mostly dialogue and thought instead to make the bubbles and the illustrations tell the story.

6.  Tell me a little about the illustrations and how they came into being?
My brother Seth is a graphic illustrator. I’ve always loved his work. I spoke with him about the idea for the story and he was looking for something to illustrate. I didn’t have a precise vision of what the characters would look like except that Anex should have a pointy hat and Bit would have a short tail. When I saw the first 2 pages of images, I remember thinking ‘wow I couldn’t have imagined that, but I love it’. He and I are also working on another book together and I trust his vision in helping me bring my characters to life.

 7.  What do you want readers to take away from this story?

I think that kids and adults are sometimes afraid to try something new and get discouraged. The take away from the story is to never give up. If you don’t succeed the first time, don’t get discouraged just keep trying – that’s what Anex would do.

 8.  What other books are you currently working on?

I’ve got a number of books in the works.  I’m planning to publish two books this fall. The Witch, the Cat and the Dragon is the sequel to my first witch book, and Shanlia and the Magic Pixie Dust is kind of an off-shoot of that series since it takes place near the same magical forest of Ennyar. I’ve given the manuscripts to some parents and teachers who are test-reading them for me. I like to get feedback from readers before I finalize the books. I’m also hoping to publish my brother’s first children’s book, Tess: A book about nothing, this fall.

My books are available on my websiteAmazon and Barnes and Noble.

You can also connect with the author on Facebook, Twitter, or by email:


DBR Books chats with author Robert Hanson about turning Bluey and The Great Spirit Moon into an animated feature film

1.  You are an artist and a musician. Is this your first time writing a children’s book?

Yes. This is my first children's book. It started off as an animated feature film project. Although I had some near success with some big time Hollywood Producers, I have not been able to secure a production deal, yet! With increasing natural disasters and so much conflict in the world I felt the urgent need to get Bluey's inspiring story and his encouraging message out there as soon as possible.   
2.  Your recent publication is Bluey and The Great Spirit Moon. Your book touches on determination, peaceful resolution and forgiveness. Tell us more about that.

I wanted to create a story that tackled the most serious global issues confronting us in the new millennium. It would offer positive, peaceful solutions on how to end conflict and war but it would also create a sense of complete escapism from our world and our troubles. The best way I could think to do this was through allegory. Bluey and The Great Spirit Moon is based on our violent history, our current global challenges and our hopes for peaceful, prosperous change. Bluey is a determined hero who inspires positive change on his home planet by ending their historical cycle of violence, through his example of unconditional love and forgiveness.

3.  Bluey and The Great Spirit Moon is also written as a screenplay. Has there been any progress made towards making it into a movie or series?
Yes! Rob Hemmings is a world leading supervising animator based in London. He was involved in the Harry Potter Series, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow and many other blockbusters. He and his team of experienced 3D animators are standing by, eager and ready to produce the film with an Academy Award Winning special effects company. Now I need finance and distribution. I'm hoping the publication of the book will lead to interest from producers, agents and investors. 
A noble idea but is it an impossible quest?                                            
I created every aspect of the pre-production package: the screenplay, the artwork and character designs and the soundtrack by composing and producing the music. I love what I do but the main reason I did all this was to maintain as much copyright as possible. Animated Features often earn hundreds of millions of dollars and that's just at the box office. Imagine how much money could be raised to empower poor communities throughout our world with a successful soundtrack and merchandise as well! I dedicated the past decade to my seemingly impossible mission, to create the World's First Charitable Animated Feature Film.

4.  The soundtrack recording on your website, was that made especially for the screenplay, or is it a part of an existing album?
The original soundtrack was created for the feature film. It has 23 tracks and goes from the beginning of the film until the final credits. The 11 track album on the website can be listened to with the book. The music is another way to be transported to another world. I play the piano, keyboard strings, drums, percussion, bass and character vocals. The guitar instrumentals were composed and performed by Matthew Collis. Matt is a brilliant guitarist and a close friend.

5.  Was the book illustrated by you and how did you decide on the appearance of each character? Were you motivated by anything in particular?
Yes. I created the illustrations in color pencil and then enhanced them on a Wacom tablet, all hand drawn. Each picture took anywhere from 16 hours to 6 days of intense, trance like focus. The theory was, meditate, go to planet Eternius and draw what you see. It was a real challenge to create surreal drawings of paradise and unimaginable characters. Between the backgrounds and characters there is every artistic element you can think of; jungles, water, clouds, spirits, hair, etc and all of it was self taught and experimental. Emphasis on mental!! Just kidding!
When I first created my style, Computer 3D animation hadn't been created yet and I didn't know how it would be animated, but now it can be thanks to George Lucas! Walt Disney has been my biggest inspiration when it comes to my art work. The original Snow White and Bambi had an emotional style that influenced me. When it comes to the look of the Trogotons I'll thank George Lucas again. A recent review described my book as The Land Before Time meets Star Wars. I like that description. 

6.  What do you want readers to take away from this story?
I hope the truth and emotion in this story sparks a light inside of them. I want to remind people, we are all connected and we are all on this beautiful journey of life, together. I also want to offer encouragement to people feeling lost or alone or in personal strife. By doing the right thing they can win the spiritual battle. Then they can be truly happy. And for those who have lost someone, I want them to know that nothing in this world can divide what love has bound together. I believe life itself has a happy ending. As does Bluey's enchanted story. 

7.  Is Bluey and The Great Spirit Moon a start to a new series of Bluey books?
Yes! There are many twists in Bluey 2. Let's just say Bluey did the right thing but Styx was right. It's assumed that all of the Bully Trogotons perished in The Salt Lakes of Morbid and that they would never make it back. But never say never! Bluey didn't find his mother. He assumed he would 'never' see her again in his life. There's that word again!  

Before I do the next chapter I'll be animating a short film to promote the feature. I hope to enter it in festivals. I plan to take the entire concept to a whole new level of 3D surreal awesomeness!

Connect with the author on his website!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Introducing Robert Hanson, author of Bluey and the Great Spirit Moon

This is a guest blog post by Robert Hanson, author of Bluey and the Great Spirit Moon.
Robert Karl Hanson is an artist, musician and author living in Tasmania, Australia. He has dedicated most of his adult life to the concept of ‘not growing up’ so he can pursue his childhood dream to inspire positive change through art, music and writing. More specifically, through his Children’s Book and Animated Feature Film Project, Bluey and The Great Spirit Moon.  This book is fully developed book with animated screenplay by author, artist, and musician, Robert Karl Hanson.

Focused on the benefits of compassion, determination, and peaceful resolution, Hanson’s book presents an entertaining and informative story for children through a wild adventure with unique creatures in a strange land.  
Follow along as Bluey and his friends explore a magical and whimsical world and learn about tolerance, peace, love, and determination. Bluey and the Great Spirit Moon is told in an engaging style that allows young readers, educators and parents to not only enjoy, but also to benefit from discussing the things they learn, while sharing the valuable life lessons of compassion, justice, friendship and responsibility.

Book Description: Bluey and the Great Spirit Moon is an out of this world adventure with engaging characters, breathtaking landscapes and a poignant story for the new millennium. It teaches love, tolerance and forgiveness. Bluey, an orphaned Rinothorus is on a quest to find his missing mother and lost tribe. But the light of the Great Spirit Moon is dying so time is running out. With help from his adoptive family he will set out on a wild adventure across planet Eternius guided by vivid visions. He'll discover millions of innocent creatures are being held captive inside Mt. Vulton by terrifying Trogotons. It is a David Vs Goliath mission but with help from a cunning Funkmonkey slave named Styx, Bluey will save his fragile planet in a way no one else could have imagined. Please visit the website for the music, merchandise and much more!
Connect with the author on Facebook and Twitter.