Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Veteran's Day Salute & Meet MG Author A. M. Luzzader

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages.

Today is Veteran's Day.

Before getting to our feature author interview, I want to take time to thank all the veterans and serving military for their service to our country.

In my family, my father and my younger brother both served.

My father in the Navy in WWII.

Donald James Woodward (1925-1975)

 My brother in the Marines during the Gulf War Crisis.

Timothy Louis Woodward (1968-)

Thank you all again.

And now,

Carpinello's Writing Pages

Welcomes MG Author A.M. Luzzader


Here's a bit about A.M. Luzzader:

A.M. Luzzader is the author of the middle-grade series A Mermaid in Middle Grade and other books. She is first and foremost a mother to her two energetic and intelligent sons, and from this role she draws much of her writing inspiration. Amanda was awarded the Writer of the Year award for 2019–2020 by the League of Utah Writers. She is a devout cat person.

Why did you pick to write books for MG? 

I’ve written books for an adult readership, and I’m very proud of that work. However, I’ve felt for a long time—maybe not even consciously—that I should direct my writing toward a younger audience. As I said, I’m a mom. Also, I worked for a long time at a nonprofit organization that helps families. So, with this acute interest in and a passion for the well-being of young people, I recently switched writing markets. Now I write stories and characters meant to resonate with the middle-grade age group. It’s been a lot of fun. I can be outlandish and even silly but still make meaningful points and write compelling stories. Every author has to find a genre and form that is challenging, fun, rewarding—for me, that’s middle-grade.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I read anything and everything—by design. Non-fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, young-adult fiction. I read inside my comfort zone and areas of interest, but then I purposely wander across those boundaries. Earlier this year I read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, both very cerebral and dark. Then I read Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman—a little bit less-serious. This year I also read a lot of Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling and Lucy Maud Montgomery. I love books on self-improvement books—books on how to be more creative, successful, and organized, though I don’t always take their advice.

When I’m not writing or reading, you can probably catch me watching a movie or binge-watching a TV series, especially now, during the pandemic. Just before the pandemic I took up knitting—that seems fortuitous now. I love to travel, and I’m very fond of tea, so wherever I go I’m eager to check out local tea shops and do tea-tastings or ceremonies.

Tell us about A Mermaid in Middle Grade and how the story came to be.

The conception of this book series was somewhat unusual. It started when I saw this really interesting book cover for sale online. It was created by a cover design artist that I like. It was this cute little mermaid against a backdrop of coral and shafts of sunlight filtering down through the blue-green water. And it completely captured my imagination. Nothing like this had really ever happened to me. I looked at this book cover and the story of this mermaid in sixth grade began forming in my head. I thought of scenarios with real-life middle-grade issues and friend politics, but it also had this undersea, mer-magical aspect to it.

So, I bought that book cover, and that made it real—now I had to write at least one book about this sixth-grade mermaid with lavender hair and aquamarine scales. So, the story really began with the imagery on that unsold book cover. A lot of the stories are based on things I struggled with when I was her age—self-confidence, jealousy, working through problems with friends and family. All merfolk in these books have magical abilities, which they use to help the ocean and sea creatures, and Brynn learns about that in her school classes, but it’s a little like calculus class or chemistry—it doesn’t come easy for everyone.

The Mermaid in Middle Grade series is a fantasy adventure and coming of age book series appropriate for preteens and all who enjoy middle grade books.  Educational topics: Ocean and marine life, environmental conservation, honesty, friendship, mindfulness, middle school, and interpersonal skills.

Here's a peek at A Mermaid in Middle School - The Talisman of Lostland:

A young mermaid. A sea witch out for revenge. 

Can Brynn Finley become a sea guardian and help humans in danger when she just barely started the sixth grade? 

Brynn Finley is the only mermaid in class who hasn't been able to learn mer-magic. Without it, she can't be a guardian of the sea with her parents and friends. On her quest for answers, Brynn encounters a loveable sea turtle, a pair of selkie sisters, and Phaedra, the great and terrible sea witch. 

Soon Brynn is over her head in trouble, and she must learn to ask for help if she's going to follow the merfolk oath to be a protector of the ocean and a guardian of the sea.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

When I worked at a nonprofit whose mission was to protect children, I received lots of training about childhood development and childhood trauma, and I put a lot of that to use in my books. For example, the merfolk in the books can do magic, but their abilities work best when they’re feeling calm and mindful. So, they practice mindfulness and certain meditation techniques to make their magic effective. Well, mindfulness is of course something that kids can practice in real life, to help them do well on a test or even manage tricky situations on the playground.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Before I began writing middle grade books, I was writing books for adults. Those are under the name Amanda Luzzader. I wrote a post-apocalyptic trilogy called Among These Bones, and I had written it long before COVID-19 came along, but, coincidentally, the series is also about a global pandemic. The one in my book wipes out most of the Earth’s human population. A cure is found, but it has to be taken once a year, and unfortunately, it also wipes out your memory. So, you have this population of survivors who are under the control of a medical agency with a cure that leaves you with only one year of memory at a time. The main character is a mother whose teenage son goes missing. If she can’t find him before it’s time to take the treatment again, she’ll forget she has a son.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’m in the editing stage Voices of Harmony, the third book in the Mermaid in Middle Grade series, but that should be wrapped up pretty soon. I’m also working on a new story called Hannah Saves the World, which is another middle grade book that should be pretty fun. Then, I’ll be back to finishing the rest of the Mermaid in Middle Grade books.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Being an author can be discouraging sometimes. It can be very challenging to reach readers to even let them know your book exists. My advice would be to not get caught up checking the numbers. Authors can spend the entire day checking what their book ranks are or how many books they’ve sold, but that isn’t productive. Focus instead on the work—do the writing and don’t worry about the numbers. Eventually the numbers will reflect the work you’ve done.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I love interacting with readers!

If readers write to me, I promise to write back! They can send a letter to:

Knowledge Forest Press
P.O. Box 6331
Logan, Utah 84341

They can also email me at:

Where can readers find you and your books?



A Mermaid in Middle Grade


My paperback and hardback books are available at most book retailers. If you don’t see it, just ask and it can probably be ordered in.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Exciting News, Writing Tips, and Meet MG Author Roslyn Muir

Before moving on to our tips and interview, I want to share my exciting news. My Guinevere trilogy (soon to be an eBook) received Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Bronze medal for Best Book Series-Chapter Book. Unexpected, I'm thrilled to receive this prestigious honor. The books in the trilogy are Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, and Guinevere: The Legend.

And Onward:

This month, Carpinello's Writing Pages introduces readers to two new authors. Both of the authors have Middle Grade books releasing in October 2020. It's always exciting publishing a new book, especially a first book. Please offer your support to each writer by congratulating them in the comments and maybe even visiting their websites and clicking on the buy link. Remember the holidays are fast approaching and few gifts are sweeter than a book. But, first, here's our writing tips from our authors:

Very simple:  write, write, and write. And don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning. Writing is a craft that you get better at with practice!Joe Gazzam, YA author of Uncaged

Don't let rejections detract you from your goal. Practice makes perfect and try to always work with a good editor who will really give you the honest truth. Not a friend but a business associateRanda Handler, children's author of The Boy Who Spoke to God.


And now,

Carpinello's Writing Pages

Welcomes MG author Roslyn Muir.


Here's a bit about Roslyn Muir:

Roslyn Muir is new to middle grade fiction fantasy but feels she comes by it honestly—“I still feel like a ten year old making up elaborate adventure stories in my head.” Born in Scotland and now living in Vancouver, Canada, she often uses the similar landscapes of both countries in her stories. Roslyn has another life as an award winning screenwriter who writes YA stories, family drama and thrillers. She was a writer on the Global/CBS one-hour drama Ransom created by Frank Spotnitz (Man in the High Castle). Roslyn has also written several movies that have aired on TV around the world: Washed Away, Stranger in the House, and Reluctant Witness to name a few. Roslyn also wrote and produced the dramatic feature film The Birdwatcher directed by Siobhan Devine. Her half-hour YA comedy, The Tutors, is in development with the CBC.

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

I’ve been writing TV & film for many years—drama and thrillers mostly. But I love to watch fantasy and sci-fi. My own middle grade years had a big impact on me as a reader: I discovered fantasy stories and started writing them in my head. The main character, Kyra, came to me as a middle grade girl so I ran with it. The great thing about middle grade books is that they really transcend age.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I’m actually a big thriller/detective story buff. I love female protagonist thrillers where the main character has to solve their own dilemmas. And plot twists. I’m a plot driven writer so I appreciate stories where I can’t figure out the end. I love to be surprised!

Tell us about The Chimera’s Apprentice and how the story came to be.

This story really started with the character Kyra. She was in my mind for quite some time, and I just kept developing her and the world. Then I was flipping through a book on Greek myths that I bought at a yard sale and came across the chimera. I was really intrigued by it—myths are stories that some writer made up thousands of years ago! So I was impressed by the variety of monsters that existed in the Ancient Greek psyche and decided to incorporate the chimera into my story.

Here's a peek at The Chimera's Apprentice:

The laundry room was eerily quiet. It was a small room: washers on one side, dryers on the other, and a gleaming white wall in the back. A creepy feeling overcame me like someone was watching me. I held my breath, threw the clothes in the washer, and shoved the coins in. To heck with the soap. Something went through me—a feeling, a shiver, like I knew I was in danger.

That’s when it happened. The craziest, weirdest thing ever.

I dropped the laundry basket and let out a squeak. At the door was a little man, but it wasn’t really a man, even though “it” was standing on two legs. He had a thick snout like a dog and long, long whiskers. His black nose was shiny and wet; a limp pink tongue hung out of his panting mouth. Goggles covered a worn leather flight cap, and he wore a too-tight army uniform with mismatched brass buttons about to pop open. A furry little paw with long, sharp black claws held up a smooth, milky-looking stone. Was it a weapon? 

“Kyra of Murch, I’ve come to take you home.” And then he laughed, an evil, maniacal laugh like the bad guys in the movies. 

“Uh, I’m not Kyra Murch. You have the wrong person,” I lied. I was talking to a RAT. A walking, talking rat-man. Impossible. But soooo amazing!

“I’d recognize a Murch anywhere,” he sniffed the air, advancing towards me. “I can’t believe my luck. You’re here! Ha! I’ve succeeded!”

This wasn’t happening. I was talking to a rat. It was real. And I was seriously trapped. He was smaller than me, about the size of a ten-year-old. I could do some moves on him. I’d seen Karate Kid. But I wasn’t much of a fighter; in fact, I hated seeing people get hurt.

“Are you going to throw that little rock at me, rat face?” I bluffed.

The rat-man was stunned. “Er, this is an ancient weapon. You can’t insult the Adularia. There are only two in existence, and the Raturro have protected them for eons. The Adularia is, er, all-powerful.” He held the weapon out towards me as if to show me. 

“I’m warning you,” I stood as tall as I could. “This is your last chance!”

The rat-man’s eyes went wide. He was scared of me!

“So shoot me! Get it over with already!” I bellowed, gaining some momentum.

“I-I’m not here to shoot you.” He lowered his weapon. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m Shale of the Deep Nestling Raturro.” He held out one of his paws for me to shake, then changed his mind. “I’ve come to save you. You’re in grave danger.”

“Deep what?”

“They’re coming for you.”

“They?” I asked, curious. “Who? There’s more of you?”

But he didn’t answer me. He only choked out a tiny squeak. Something on the wall behind me caught his attention.

“It’s the m-monster—” he stammered. “Run!”

How do you research your stories? 

I read a few books about rats, and I’m already obsessed with crows so it was a no-brainer to add them to the story. I do some general research but nothing too in depth. I like to use my imagination as much as possible and just make stuff up!

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I’m a screenwriter of film and TV and have written several thrillers and dramas that have screened internationally. The Chimera’s Apprentice is my debut novel. It is a trilogy, so there are more on the way.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’m currently writing Book Two of The Chimera’s Apprentice.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Your main job is to get better as a writer and, really, that’s the only thing that’s in your control. The only way to improve is to write. Every day. Even if you can only carve out half an hour, write something. Form a habit. I find it harder to not write than to sit down at my desk and work. When I was starting out as a writer I read as many books on writing as I could find. I think they’re helpful and inspiring.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Check out my website and join my newsletter:

Join me on social media:




Exciting News, Writing Tips, and Meet MG Author M. L. Tarpley

Before moving on to our tips and interview, I want to share my exciting news. My Guinevere trilogy (soon to be an eBook) received Moonbeam Children's Book Awards Bronze medal for Best Book Series-Chapter Book. Unexpected, I'm thrilled to receive this prestigious honor. The books in the trilogy are Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend, and Guinevere: The Legend.

And Onward:

This month, Carpinello's Writing Pages introduces readers to two new authors. Both of the authors have Middle Grade books releasing in October 2020. It's always exciting publishing a new book, especially a first book. Please offer your support to each writer by congratulating them in the comments and maybe even visiting their websites and clicking on the buy link. Remember the holidays are fast approaching and few gifts are sweeter than a book. But, first, here's our writing tips from our authors:

If you plan to publish, allow yourself to have big dreams. Writing is an incredibly difficult field in which to get noticed and most authors experience dozens of knock backs before getting anywhere. The skill is not in avoiding rejection, but bouncing back from it. Have a goal in mind and keep working at it. Big dreams will help you keep goingRosen Trevithick, children's author of The Trolls series.

Never give up and stick to your ideas. When I first wrote Fledgling Jason Steed (Book 1), I self- published it, and I had a huge success with it. An agent and publisher picked me up. They edited the novel, cut out 23,000 words and changed how an aircraft with damaged undercarriage landed. I had email after email of complaints regarding the aircraft landing and why it was changed. Many reviewers had actually mentioned the landing in the first edition. This is the largest regret I have. Never again will anyone tell me what to write. The editor ruined a good ending to a story, but when you are new and you get picked up by a big publisher, you think they know best. My advice would be stick to your gunsMark A. Cooper, author of the YA series Jason Steed.


And Now, Carpinello's Writing Pages 

Presents MG author M. L. Tarpley


Here's a bit about M. L. Tarpley:

Author M.L. Tarpley writes stories of adventure, friendship, and fun that transport kids to amazing places across the world. She is also an award-winning journalist and world traveler. Maylie and the Maze is her debut middle grade novel. She has also written Young Writer’s Kit, a non-fiction book that teaches kids how to write fiction. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and son.

Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers? 

I still feel like I’m 10 years old a lot of the time (ha!), so it's like ideas for stories geared to kids in middle grade and younger just pop into my brain. I wouldn’t have it any other way! I also have a toddler and over a dozen nieces and nephews, so I have plenty of first hand experience with kids too.

One of my favorite things to do is settle in at a coffee shop with a composition notebook and pen and just let my imagination run free! I love to scribble away while sipping on a latte.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I love to read middle grade fiction as well as chapter books and picture books. In adult fiction, I love to read split time fiction, which weaves contemporary and historical storylines together. I absolutely love history, which in turn fuels my love for researching genealogy. That’s one pastime I enjoy when I have time. I also really love to travel the world. I’m always dreaming of where I’d like to travel to next whether in person or in fiction.

Tell us about Maylie and the Maze and how the story came to be.

Maylie and the Maze is a lower middle grade realistic fiction book for grades 3-7 that will appeal to fans of the Middle School series by James Patterson, The Tapper Twins series by Geoff Rodkey, and the Melanie Martin series by Carol Weston. The book’s layout includes a variety of illustrations, doodles, and other media elements and tucked within the book are elements of creative writing, world geography, and classic literature.

It all started a few years ago with the idea of a young girl who travels around the world. Right away, I knew the first book would be set in England because the book had to feature a maze I visited there. Plus I love England! I love the countryside and manor houses and castles and the mix of modern-day and history in the city of London. My favorite place is the city of Bath.

I wrote Maylie and the Maze to show kids that you can go after your dreams no matter what roadblocks stand in your way. Throughout this series, I want kids to have a chance to travel the world through fiction and along the way learn a bit. I’ve tapped into my own first-hand experiences from traveling to over a dozen countries and filtered them through Maylie’s eyes. I also wanted to write a book that could be enjoyed by kids and grown-ups alike, especially as a fun bedtime read!

Here's a peek at Maylie and the Maze:

Will Maylie’s dream be crushed by her own imagination?    
Ten-year-old Maylie Montes’s dream is to become an author, but she has a problem. She can’t finish a story. Not a single one.

Her second problem is Camden, her annoying twin brother, who is determined to ruin their summer traveling through Europe with their famous photographer aunt and spunky grandma.

The first stop is England where a castle and maze, a new British friend, and a lot of weird words await Maylie—but the first item on her itinerary is to learn how to write, so she can finally finish a story. However, this goal may land her a one-way ticket home after her writing targets her brother in a spooky story involving a nighttime maze full of monsters. And Camden has his own plans, leaving Maylie to wonder if her imagination has actually become a reality.

How do you research your stories?

With the Maylie series, I have started with revisiting my trips to the book locations. That was the foundation of the series idea. To write about the places I had actually been. I have been to every country that will be featured in the series and the majority of the locations there. So I started with my photos and travel journal and the storyline started growing from there. I also ordered books about the locations to read up on the history as well as visited their official websites.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have written a non-fiction book called Young Writer’s Kit: A Guide for Young Writers that teaches kids how to write fiction and includes a fun genre matching game, writing prompts, and more. It’s currently available for purchase on Amazon.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’ve written the next book in the series and will start working with the illustrator soon on it. It will publish in Spring 2021. I am currently writing the third book, which will release Fall 2021. I am also working on a picture book series and have the idea for a chapter book series stirring in my mind.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Make sure to read the genre you are writing to get a feel for how it’s done. Also don’t talk down to kids. Tap into that kid that’s still inside of you and how you would have reacted to what you’ve written. Invest the time to learn the craft of writing. Read craft books like Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass or Writing Irresistible Kidlit by Mary Kole. Do writing prompts. Practice. To do anything well we have to put in the time and effort. Writing is no different.

Anything else you want readers to know?

To my kid readers out there, I would like for you to know that you can do anything you set your mind to. And you can travel anywhere in the world (or fictional ones) from the pages of a book. Happy Travels!!

Where can readers find you and your books? 





My books:



Young Writers' Kit:


Barnes & Noble


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Writing Tips and Meet Children's Author Sheikha Shamma

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you a special author interview, but before we get to that, here's writing tips from other authors we've interviewed.

Write as often as possible and release at least one title a year. Raymond Bean, children's author of Benji Franklin: Kid Zillionaire

Don’t give up, even if publishers or agents reject you. Write what you want to write and not what you think would sell. Don’t self-proof read. Get someone you trust to it for you. It is too easy to miss mistakes when reviewing your own work. Consider self-publishing. These days there is a lot of support and free marketing out here to resource. Use online media platforms to promote yourself. Converse with other authors, share books and reviews and get yourself noticed. Do book readings and signings if you can. It’s a great way to actually meet readers who might enjoy your work. Nicola J. McDonagh, YA author of Echoes From the Lost Ones.

Whilst writing I’ve learnt that I have to be self-critical and be prepared to edit and edit and edit. I read it out loud, just as if I was reading it to an audience – or a class. And I ask other people to read and criticise it. BUT I take heart from praise because we all need that! Rosie Morgan, MG author of The Golden Sword.


And Now,

Please welcome Children's author Sheikha Shamma

to Carpinello's Writing Pages.


Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and published author, Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan is the great-granddaughter of the UAE’s founding father, His Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

A graduate of the University of Cambridge, holding a Masters degree in Sustainability Leadership, Sheikha Shamma is a well-respected industry expert on sustainability, thanks to her business and academic endeavours in the field.

Her charitable foundation, Circle of Hope, has spearheaded a substantial number of local and international initiatives; these include Wanna Read? which has placed over 7,000 books for young patients in hospitals across the UAE; Beacon of Hope which has supplied thousands of children in developing countries with an important solar-light resource and which was recognised at the 2018 United Nations Solutions Summit; and MorEquity (formerly the Women’s Empowerment and Equality Board), created to promote gender equality in the workplace and the boardroom. The initiative comprises of over 150 women from the UAE’s largest organisations who meet regularly for workshops and collaborate on community projects driving change.

In addition to her children’s book, Skeikha Shamma is a regular columnist for The National newspaper and has coauthored two articles published in Future Governments – Actions and Insights.

Why did you decide to write books for Children? 

I had always felt that the character in my book, my dog Coustaud, would make a fun character in a children’s book. He reminds me of Garfield. He is a fun and humorous character, and it is very funny how he snores so loudly, grunts softly and sits sloppily. I wanted to share the happiness and fun that he brought to people who knew him.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I prefer non-fiction, and I stay away from science fiction.
As for what I do when I’m not writing, where do I start? There are not enough hours in the day! I have a sustainability-oriented company, and I work in the office most days, but I also have a charitable foundation – Circle of Hope Foundation – that works to improve the lives of women and children. I like spending time outdoors in nature and reconnecting with the world around me. In this day and age, when we are all very dependent on our electronic devices, we need time away from them to enjoy the many wonders of Planet Earth.

Tell us about The Tangled Tale and how the story came to be.

The Tangled Tale is my third book in the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. This  children’s series focuses on morals, values, and current issues to help encourage ethical behaviour. The stories aim to promote a love of reading via engagement with the central characters, a magical horse, Maxima, and her funny companion, a French bulldog called Coustaud.

Here's a peek at The Tangled Tale:

Maxima and Coustaud must save a dragon that is tangled in a mangrove forest. The Tangled Tale teaches children about how interdependent and connected we all are and about the importance of mangrove forests and bees. I believe that systems thinking is an important skill for children to develop.

It will be released next month (November 2020).


How do you go about researching for your stories?

My latest stories are sustainability-focused, a topic that I am passionate about, and an area that I am privileged to be working in. I try and simplify concepts for children, raising awareness while empowering children to be conscious of their decision-making. We all have a role to play to protect our planet for future generations.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have written two other books within the series The Adventures of Maxima and Coustaud. The first story, The Lost Princess, is about a princess who ends up in the hands of a wicked witch. I thought the witch would be very scary for children, but I have realised that they love her. The second book, In Search of a Global Solution, is about people working together to tackle one of the world’s biggest threats to humanity’s existence – climate change.

I have also written a stand-alone story – The Colour Thief. It is a cute story about two Jack Russells and a young boy called Zak, who go on an adventure. Imagine a world where all the colours disappear – what a sad place it would be. I hope children who read this book will take a closer look at the world around them and appreciate the many things we take for granted.

This year, I even wrote a short story to help children understand coronavirus called “Corona – The Story of a Virus that Stopped the World.” The short story is available for download on the following website

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

My latest project is a book for young adults, which is set in Cambridge where I studied for my Masters. I have fond memories of the beautiful and historic university town which often reminds me of Hogwarts. So I thought, why not create a story that takes place in Cambridge and bring in my love for the environment, innovation and discovery.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Do not let yourself be overwhelmed by all the books around you. Never compare yourself to other writers because you have a unique voice and a unique story to tell.

Anything else you want readers to know?

There is a whole world out there and many other galaxies to be explored, so never stop learning! Inspiration can be found in unlikely places – like in a type of book that you would not usually choose or by speaking to someone from a different country or ethnic group. So read a variety of books, explore different genres and make the effort to talk to people that you would not normally speak to. We live in a world filled with countless fascinating stories just waiting to be discovered.

Where can readers find you and your books?

My books can be found on Amazon and on my website

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Meet Jemima Pett & Her Newest MG Fantasy: Princelings Revolution

 Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to participate in the release of Jemima Pett's newest MG Fantasy  Princelings Revolution. I've know Jemima for many years, and her books are some of the best middle grade fantasy out there. If you haven't read her Princelings of the East series, you will be surprised and delighted to learn about her unique characters. So let's get on to it with some background on Jemima:

Here's a bit about Jemima:

Jemima Pett has been living in a world of her own for many years. Writing stories since she was eight, drawing maps of fantasy islands with train systems and timetables at ten. Unfortunately no-one wanted a fantasy island designer, so she tried a few careers, getting great experiences in business, environmental research and social work. She finally got back to building her own worlds and wrote about them.

Her first series, the Princelings of the East—mystery adventures for advanced readers set in a world of tunnels and castles—is now complete. Jemima has also edited two volumes of Christmas stories for young readers, the BookElves Anthologies, and her father's memoirs White Water Landings about the Imperial Airways flying boat service in Africa. She lives with her guinea pigs in the UK.

Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?

I think the genre chose me, or at least I wrote the Princelings books with the characters based on my guinea pigs, and that led to them being considered more children’s books. Looking into this, I decided that there really was a gap for complex stories for advanced readers of 8 and up, although I usually say 10 and up in print. I had some ten-year-old beta readers at the time, which helped.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I review a book on my blog every week, so sometimes I read things I’m not keen on, but mostly I pick science fiction and middle grade books, usually with a spec fiction aspect, maybe magical-realism. I also read science and environment-based non-fiction. But for a proper break, I read crime novels.

Tell us about Princelings Revolution and how the story came to be.

Princelings Revolution is the tenth and last book of the Princelings of the East series.  I never expected it to be a series. Originally I envisaged a trilogy: there is an epilogue in the first book which became the goal towards which my heroes were working. That theme ran through the rest of the books that followed. My world insisted on growing and showing other aspects to my readers.

In about 2014, I started planning the last book as number eight in the series and knew there would be unrest and changes in the way the castles are run. I started writing it in a file called ‘Topsy-turvy world’ but soon stopped because there was simply too much time that had to pass until the end, set for summer 2021. What developments would occur? It was easier to write other books to make them happen than to invent a roadmap for myself - and my readers. It gave me a target to reach in my writing, as well as one for my heroes Fred and George to attain. So this is the only book I’ve written to a deadline!

Here's a peek at Princelings Revolution:

George seems to have lost a phial of highly dangerous liquid. King Fred is battling politics, relatives and self-seeking dignitaries in his aim to give the people a better way of living. But can Fred keep the promise he made to an engaging chap from another time when he was just a princeling? Or will all their hopes fail?

Short excerpt 

Princess Jasmine, Fred’s daughter, and her cousin Liska, are on a treasure hunt at the edge of the marsh…

Liska stood quietly behind a large tree trunk, peering where Jasmine pointed. “Oh, it’s a small house. A shack, maybe.”

“I wonder if anyone lives there? I’ve not heard about a community over this way.”

“Maybe it’s just one person. What if…?” Both girls wondered if fairy tales of princesses abducted in the woods might actually come true. 

“Let’s just have a look. I think my father would like to know if there’s someone actually living here. It’s probably just a store, or a shelter for a woodman.” Jasmine walked forward, taking each step carefully, treading between twigs that might crack under her feet. Liska followed her, breathing loudly. “Shh!”

“I am shush-ing.” Liska whispered in response.

They crept up to the side of the building, listening for any indication of life. “I can’t smell a fire or anything.” Jasmine whispered. 

There was only one window, and one door, sheltered by a small veranda that ran the width of the shack. Logs were stacked neatly under it, along the front of the building. “Someone’s put those there for use.”

“As long as they aren’t inside.” Jasmine lifted the latch and pulled the door outwards to open it. 

Nobody was inside. 

What Jasmine saw was an apparatus that she was very familiar with, a duplicate of the one in the flyers’ laboratory. It was hissing gently, and a drip plopped from the final tube into a glass bottle at the end.

“What’s that?” Liska asked.

“It’s a still. It’s making something, and it smells like strawberry juice. Liska, we must leave. Now! I have to tell George!”

“All right, let’s go then.”

Liska left the shack, followed by Jasmine, but Jasmine overtook her at a run. Jasmine took the straightest route she could, back to the path that led to the lightning tree.

Suddenly she was falling through the earth. The light through the trees above swirled crazily as she fell backwards. Sharp things scratched at her, and knocked her from side to side, and the light disappeared. Her surprise forced a squeal from her, cut short as she landed hard on some uneven ground and branches. Then she screamed in fear as Liska landed on top of her.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

For the Princelings, it’s mostly world-building skills: making sure the world the people inhabit is consistent and has proper rules for law and order, commerce, education, all the background that we can take for granted in a story based in say, Colorado 2020.  

I once studied design and technology, and used that, and kept an eye out for specific information that would help George devise both a new electricity/power system and new flying machines. Fortunately my career in energy efficiency policy helped with the technical elements, and my father’s background in 1930s flying boats influenced me heavily.

Most of the political thought Fred has is based on theories I gleaned from proof-reading a friend’s thesis for him, and I owe him a huge debt.

This makes it sound like the book is all science and technology, but it isn’t! It’s people living in a castle a long way from anywhere else, in the middle a marsh, near the sea! And that was easy to research, because it’s in Norfolk (UK), where I lived!

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Apart from the ten books in the Princelings series—you can probably jump in at number 7, Willoughby the Narrator, if you insist on not starting at the beginning—I have a trilogy of a science fiction series (for grown-ups), the Viridian System series. The Perihelix sees my two heroes taking three women for a space holiday, only for them to be kidnapped. The women have to learn how to pilot the spacecraft, and the men have to deal with some very nasty aliens who want something found. In the second of the series, the women have become equal partners in the men’s adventures. I suspect in the third book they may end up taking over.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

So that third book in the Viridian Series, titled Zanzibar’s Rings (in a shameless bid to get on people’s A-Z title list), has a partial outline and several developed bits of plot that only hang together by a thread at present. It probably won’t emerge until late 2021 at the earliest.

And there are other ideas I discover when I look in my notes… a collection of short stories, the complete Dylan and Dougall adventures… I also hope to get more short stories accepted for other anthologies.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write down ideas for other books or stories when you get them.  You won’t remember them later.
Don’t give up. Take a break… but don’t give up.

Anything else you want readers to know?

If you don’t mind, I’d like to beg anyone who thinks they’d like a pet, or a new pet, to go to a rescue or rehoming centre, and not to a store or breeder.  There are so many loving, unwanted animals, some of whom have really traumatic stories, and others who were born in rescue. They all deserve a good loving home, so please give them one for life.  Rescues will also give you help and support if you need it, long after you take the animal home. Thank you.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Author website & blog
Twitter: @jemima_pett
Facebook either ‘princelings’ or ‘viridianseries’

Amazon US/Worldwide
Amazon UK
Book Depository

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Good News & Meet the Grandfather & Granddaughter Writing Team

I want to share with you the Good News about my latest book and the final book in my Guinevere trilogy: Guinevere: The Legend. Since being released in late December/early January 2020, the book has been honored with the following awards: From: Colorado Independent Pubishers’ Association 1st Place EVVY in Fantasy/Folklore/Mythology; 2nd Place EVVY in Juvenile Fiction Middle Grade; Readers' Favorite Silver Medal in Children's Mythology/Fairy Tale; and the NABE Pinnacle Book Achievement Award Winter 2020.

Finishing my middle grade trilogy of this amazing young lady and her loyal friend was a highlight of my writing career. Back in 2007, when I first conceived the idea of introducing young readers to this girl/queen, I never imagined that she and Cedwyn would soar to such heights. Throughout the trilogy, readers have experienced the two's highs and lows. While their decisions weren't always the best, each made those decisions with the best of intentions. And didn't (and don't) we all do that growing up? I won't tell you how their stories end, but I will tell you that you will be on the edge of your seat wringing your hands and wiping your tears.

 And Now,
Please welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages,
Oliver Eade and Lara Eade.

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you this unique interview with Oliver Eade, author, and his 9-year-old granddaughter Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, illustrator. Oliver is a fellow author at Silver Quill Publishing and a very prolific writer. I've posted the interviews together, so we get a better idea of how these two work together. Let's get to know these two!

Here's a bit about Oliver:

I was born a Londoner, but am now an adopted Scot. I retired in 2003 from a career in hospital medicine spanning England, Vermont, and Scotland. After waking up one night with a ghost story in my head, I took to writing adult short stories and joined the Society of Medical Writers (SOMW) and a local writers’ group, The Borders Writers Forum.

I fell in love with a Chinese girl at the age of 19 (we played piano duets together till the piano got in the way) and have never fallen out of love with her. We have a son and daughter and four beautiful granddaughters, two in Texas and two in Switzerland.


And here's Lara:

Illustrator Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade, aged 9 years.

I am Lara Isabelle Ruiz Eade. I am 9 years old. I live in Leysin in Switzerland. I like tennis, running, skiing, dancing drawing, reading. My favorite subject in school is French.




Oliver: Why did you pick to write books for MG?

Although my ‘default’ is to write for adults, having throughout my medical career focused on difficult correspondence about illness, and academic medical writing, I find that writing for young readers inspires me to look at this puzzling world we live in afresh as if through the eyes of a child. I do believe the children that we once were are still there, somewhere within each and every one of us.

Although not confined to any particular genre, I probably feel most comfortable in that magical space between reality and fantasy; the space into and out of which children slip so easily in their play; the place of dreams and myths and legends and deeply ingrained in many cultures across the globe. 

Lara: How long have you been drawing? Who or what got you interested in drawing?

Ever since I remember I like drawing. My mummy and my elder sister taught me to draw. 

Oliver: What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I mostly read adult real-life fiction nowadays. Not a great fan of crime or sci-fi, although I was hooked on these genres as a youngster. I am a great admirer of Isabel Allende’s writing. Each of her novels explores human experience in a way that makes me think very deeply about her characters, what they do and why. Perhaps this is because of my medical background. She suffered a lot of tragedy in her life, and I do believe that true life experience shows through in great writing.

My other passion is photography. I took a diploma in photography in 2005 and love street photography. With COVID-19 this is no longer possible, so I am focusing on close-up work… e.g. insects and plants… and local landscapes. I also try to keep fit with gardening, and my wife and I do ballroom dancing in the kitchen! Plus I still play the piano, sometimes accompanying a violinist. 

Lara: What was your process for completing the drawings?

I did the pictures softly in pencil at first, starting with the animals. Then I added the background before painting the picture with acrylic paints.

Oliver: Tell us about The Zookeeper's Daughter and how the story came to be.

The Zookeeper’s Daughter was ‘commissioned’ by my youngest, 9-year-old, Swiss granddaughter, Lara. Her elder sister had illustrated my collection of Short Stories for Children aged 7 to 77 years, and Lara asked if she could also illustrate one of my books. We sat together and discussed an idea I had. I knew she loved animals, and that she also had moments of frustration with rules and regulations, so I suggested to her that the zookeeper’s daughter, Isabelle (Lara’s second name), might magically escape from the tedium of parental control and live free like the wild cousins of the animals in their zoo. Lara decided on the names of the characters and the connection between Scotland and Switzerland. Then COVID-19 happened. I had to get on and write the story, and quickly, for being elderly, I feared I might succumb to coronavirus. Also, the pandemic encouraged me to focus on humans failing to respect our wonderful world, thereby endangering so many species. Lara agreed that we should use her novel to think about animals endangered because of what humans are doing to our planet.

Lara: Why did you want to illustrate The Zookeeper’s Daughter?

I wanted to illustrate a book because my sister had done one. Also, I love drawing animals.

Here's a peek at The Zookeeper's Daughter:



Isabelle Scott is devastated to learn she won’t be staying with her beloved Swiss ‘mamie’ (granny) that summer because Old Jamie who works in her daddy’s zoo in Scotland, where she lives, is ill in hospital and her ‘maman’ (mummy) will be too busy in the zoo to take her.

Summer vacation with Grumpy Gramps and her annoying little brother, Joe will be unbearable. But things change after a spider emerges from a white chamois, a present from mamie, and connects Isabelle via a magical golden web to the worlds of endangered wild animals in a book specially written for her by Jamie.



 Excerpt: The Bald Eagle that Isn’t Bald

Joe began to cry. At least, an adult jaguar would have called it crying, although to a human it would have sounded very strange. Isabelle licked him, as their mother had done before she got shot, and he seemed to get comfort from this.

“What are we going to do, Isabelle?” Joe asked.

“Florence won’t let us down. I know it.”

Far from going down, they began to float upwards. Together. If Isabelle had hands instead of paws, she would have held onto her little brother. Soon she realised she didn’t even have paws. She had wings instead. An angel? Had she and Joe been shot, without knowing, and turned into angels?

Up and up they went until they broke out above the forest canopy, spreading their magnificent dark wings. No fur, no spots… and no longer jaguars. Then Isabelle remembered the next chapter in Jamie’s book. The North American bald eagle, also sacred to Native Americans.

Never had Joe looked so happy as, soaring over the Chiapas jungle, with his wings spread wide, he sailed north like a big black kite, away from the forest-covered hills, and with his elder sister at his side.
He called out to her. She looked huge. Because of this, he assumed the sound he would make with his own yellow hooked beak might be loud and strong, but it came out high-pitched and squeaky like the twittering of a small bird.

“Where are we going?” he twittered. At least Isabelle understood.

“North,” she chirped. “We shouldn’t be here, so far south. Not as bald eagles, anyway.”


Oliver: How do you go about researching for your stories?

Mostly by searching the internet, although I also buy books relevant to the topic, e.g. ‘The Story of Roman Britain’ for my next time travel YA novel about Scotland under the yoke of Roman occupation. Sometimes, I simply ask an expert.

Lara: Do you have a favorite illustration from the book and why it is your favorite.

The American Bald Eagle. Because they can fly free in the air.

Oliver: Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have published over 50 short stories, many which appear in the collection Walls of Words.

My young readers’ books are Moon Rabbit, a magical journey to mythological China and the sequel, Monkey King’s Revenge; Northwards a dark fantasy set in Texas and the Arctic; and Rainbow Animal, a fun spoof on war also set in the US.

My debut adult novel A Single Petal is set in Tang Dynasty China. It explores personal loss for the main character and his journey towards spiritual enlightenment. Voices, about family love, intrigue, and deceit is set in London, whilst the dark futuristic novel The Parth Path is set in a post-apocalyptic Scotland run by women for women. The premise here is that when women abandon their true nature and try to become just like men, then they become as bad as men.

My young adult novel The Terminus is set in a London changed beyond recognition from the drab post-World War II era and which, in a post-apocalyptic world, gives humankind a second chance. My YA trilogy From Beast to God (From Beast to God, The Golden Jaguar of the Sun, and The Merging and Revelation) follows a Texan boy and Mexican girl, blending European and Native spiritual beliefs. The Kelpie’s Eyes was inspired by a visit to the famous Scottish waterfall, the Grey Mare’s Tale, and weaves Scottish mythology into a tale of sisterly love. Number Twenty-four is a coming of age romance about an unconfident Scots boy and a Chinese girl who end up together in Dogtopia, a land where dogs rule and humans are their pets.

Having a profound love of live drama, I also write plays. The Gap is about the coming together of a dysfunctional family following a natural disaster, inspired by being caught up in the Great Sichuan Earthquake (Richter 8, China) of 2008. The Other Cat is a darkly humorous take on Schrödinger’s famous feline.

Lara: Do you think that you will keep on drawing? Would you like to be an artist when you grow up?

I would like to keep on drawing but probably not be an artist for a living?

Oliver: What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story? 

Together with my eldest Texan granddaughter, Lucia, who also wants to become a doctor, I am writing an experimental book on the history of medicine. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, In the Blink of an Eye follows the events that led to a teenager called Larry being on life support with COVID-19 and re-incarnations of the same character over 7000 years, each highlighting a major medical advance. I have also written the The Fire Hills, a YA coming of age novel linking a futuristic Scotland, denied independence by a far-right UK government, to Scotland nearly two thousand years ago under the brutal control of the Romans.

Oliver: What advice do you have for other authors?

Write from experience and from the heart. Do not be put off. Write your own story, not a ‘me-too’ book!

Oliver: Anything else you want readers to know?

Our world has reached a turning point because of climate change. If humanity refuses to see the writing on the wall, civilisation and future of Planet Earth are under threat. I’m a scientist and believe what over 99% of climate scientists are telling us. Perhaps 100% now with the latest data from the Arctic.

Oliver and Lara: Where can readers find you and your books?

My website (

Silver Quill Publishing 

Amazon author page

The Zookeeper's Daughter 

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Writer's Tip and Meet YA Author Jess Frankel

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages. This week brings more writing tips from our authors in addition to introducing a new author this week. You be amazed at where this author has spent the last 30+ years! But first, our writing tips. As always, be sure to leave your favorite tip in the comments for our readers/writers.

Writing isn't easy! It takes time and dedication, sometimes pushing you to the very edge. Keep working and find something that helps keep your mind in the writing zone so you don't get off track.  For me, it's different types of music or just speaking to my sister so I can bounce my ideas off of her...Alica Rivoli, author of the MG fantasy Mere Enchantment.

I think the most important thing is to make writing fun. You must enjoy what you’re doing to do it well. So take a subject you adore and write about it. Every day. Until you know it’s right. On days I don’t feel like writing, I read over the last few chapters and immediate I start to edit and rewrite; since I’m a bit of a perfectionist, that always gets me in the proper mood...J.C. Whyte, author of Karmac.

It helps to have a very thick skin and learn not to take rejection personally.

Also, write for the correct reasons. You need to write because it is your passion, not because you think it is a path to riches.

Make sure that your book is ready before jumping into the publishing process. Self-published books need to be professionally edited and of very high quality if you wish to compete with the mainstream books on the market. The book market has been flooded with masses of books in recent years and you really need to deliver a good quality product if you hope to achieve commercial success...Louise Lintvelt, author of Diary of a Dancing Drama Queen.

And Now,
Please welcome YA author Jess Frankel
to Carpinello's Writing Pages

Here's a bit about Jess Frankel:

I was born in Toronto, Canada, a long time ago, and after graduating university with a BA (double major) in political science and English literature, I worked for a bus company for three years and then somehow ended up in Japan where I’ve lived for the past thirty-something years! I married a lovely lady from Osaka, we have two children, and I make my living by teaching ESL and writing at night. Some of my best known novels are the Catnip series, The Titans of Ardana, The Auctioneer, and Apocalyptia.

Why did you pick to write books for Young Adults?

I write both MG as well as YA, but stick to YA for the most part. I find that the genre itself is a very fast-moving one, something fresh and immediate, and it’s exciting. I can let my mind go free and travel anywhere. That kind of genre is practically limitless in what you can write about.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, I watch movies—big superhero fan—and listen to various kinds of music to relax. That’s about it.

Tell us about Apocalyptia and how the story came to be.

Apocalyptia is a YA thriller about the discovery of a computer code that could trigger Armageddon. I wrote it because these days, everything is done by computer, and while they don’t control our lives, they play an integral part in them. Cyber warfare is nothing new, and taken to extremes, it can spell disaster. That’s what I wanted to explore.

Here's a peek at Apocalyptia:

An unreadable code. A secret too big to keep. An idea people will kill for.

Ed Sawyer, seventeen, is one of those ignored types at his school. A nerd hopelessly obsessed with all things cinematic, he lives for his next flick. He’s matched by Linda Usher, a classmate who is also into movies, as well as computer coding and hacking.

On the last day of school before summer vacation, Ed is given a flash drive by a dying man. He sees a code on it, and Linda, for all her genius, can’t decipher it, either. They are soon pursued by not only domestic terrorists—ex-members of the Department of Defense—but also by Russian agents who are after the same thing.

It seems that the creator of the program, Harry Haskins, devised it as the ultimate smart bomb, the ultimate tool for controlling the internet and every single computer program around, including those of defense.

It’s a secret that the wrong people will kill for, and Ed and Linda have to go on the run from those who would capture and kill them—and that includes citizens as well!

Only Linda has the knowledge to prevent such a catastrophe from happening. The only question is whether the duo can remain alive long enough to deliver the goods to the right people.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

I read a lot of different articles on the Internet, and then, if I don’t know, I ask those who do. For fantasy, I rely on my own imagination, but for real-world things such as computer programs, medicine, certain diseases and their symptoms, research is integral. I’ve found that readers will forgive you for certain lapses in narrative or inconsistencies in plot, but if you make a mistake on something technical, they’ll definitely call you on it!

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I’ve written about thirty-five other novels. Many of them deal with aliens, alien worlds, have lots of action and some romance. I don’t see why a writer can’t combine action and romance in a story and do both aspects well.

Some of novels, as mentioned above, are Catnip, which deals with transgenics, monsters, mad scientists, and so on.
 Master Fantastic is all about elemental magic. The Associate, its sequels, The Sindicate, and Stand-In, are all about superheroes, but not written in a conventional way. A little twist here and there makes them special! Check ‘em out, please!

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Right now, I’m working on a story about a young man going blind who develops psychometric powers—the ability to ‘read’ impressions from objects he touches. I finished it the other day, and since it’s just the first draft, it’s all very rough, but I’m having fun with it.

What advice do you have for other authors?

As trite as it sounds, I’d say write with your heart, edit without one, and be as objective as possible. Also, don’t let rejection get you down. I was rejected over a hundred times before someone took a chance on me. I’m not famous or wealthy—darn—but I am productive, and I have hopes that my books will increase in their popularity.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Just that I’d like to thank you, Cheryl, for allowing me this interview. Also, I hope that readers will take a chance on someone who’s not a big name but who writes a good story that is entertaining as well as informative.

Where can readers find you and your books?


Amazon Author Page

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Writing Tips and Meet MG Author Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Welcome to Carpinello's Writing Pages. Before we get introduced to today's author, here are some writing tips from previous authors on my blog. As always, feel free to share your author tips in the comments.

You’re the only one with the ultimate vision of the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Join a writers' group, attend classes or workshops, and never stop reading. Exercise those writing muscles! Set goals and deadlines for yourself, and meet them. Persevere in your quest to become a published author, and enjoy the ridePat McDermott, author of the YA series Glimmer.

It is difficult to find time to write sometimes. However, you can always find the time to imagine or daydream. File those thoughts away in your mind, record yourself on a handheld tape recorder, or jot them down on a piece of paper for when you have time to writeCrystal Marcos,  author of the YA series The Cresecren Chronicles: Novus

Keep writing! If one idea doesn’t work out, go on and write the next bookMariko Layton, author of the MG multicultural story Ayumi’s Violin.

And Now,
Please welcome MG author Emily-Jane Hills Orford
to Carpinello's Writing Pages

I'm pleased to welcome Emily-Jane back to my blog. One of the greatest advantages of writing today is the opportunity to become friends with authors from all over the world. Emily-Jane is one of these friends.

Here's a bit about Emily-Jane:
An avid gardener, artist, musician and writer, Emily-Jane Hills Orford has fond memories and lots of stories that evolved from a childhood growing up in a haunted Victorian mansion. Told she had a ‘vivid imagination’, Emily-Jane used this talent to create stories in her head, allowing her imagination to lead her into a different world, one of her own making. As she grew up, these stories, imaginings and fantasies took to the written form and, over the years, she developed a reputation for telling a good story. A retired teacher of music and creative writing, she writes about the extra-ordinary in life and the fantasies of dreams combined with memories.

Emily-Jane can now boast that she is an award-winning author of several books, including Mrs. Murray’s Ghost: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 1 (Telltale Publishing 2018) which was named finalist in the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, Mrs. Murray’s Hidden Treasure: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 2 (Telltale Publishing 2019), Mrs. Murray’s Home: The Piccadilly Street Series Book 3 (Telltale Publishing 2020), Queen Mary’s Daughter (Clean Reads 2018) which won the 2019 N.N. Light Book Awards, King Henry’s Choice (Clean Reads 2019), and several other books.

Why did you pick to write books Middle Grade?

Actually, I write in several genres, but Middle Grade is my preference. I enjoy the idea of re-visiting my childhood memories. I think some of the best books I ever read were written for the Middle Grade audience: C.S. Lewis, Mary Norton, Gene Stratton-Porter and, of course, our blog host. Plus, I’ve taught music and creative writing to this age group, so I feel most comfortable writing for this age.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I like to read multiple genres (mostly the same as the genres I write): mystery, historical fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, animal stories. When I’m not writing, I’m doing something else something equally creative: collage painting, needle art, baking, gardening, composing music and playing the piano, and, most important, reading.

Tell us about Mrs. Murray's Home and how the story came to be.

Mrs. Murray’s Home is the third book in the Piccadilly Street Series, which has been compared to Harry Potter. Home is where the heart is, or so they say. It’s also been said that a home is a person’s castle. But home is also with family and friends. Mrs. Murray longs for home, the family home, a castle an ocean away. The Brownies also crave for home, the same castle Mrs. Murray considers home. And Granny? Mary’s Granny hasn’t been home since she was Mary’s age. It’s time to visit the homeland, Scotland. Mary’s excited to tag along with Granny, Mrs. Murray and the Brownies. And then there’s the witch. The one they thought they’d killed. And the treasure. The one they had found. And it all ties together, for better or for worse.

I started this series with the idea of re-visiting my growing-up years in an old Victorian Mansion that was haunted. Some of the things I write about in these stories really happened; some are mere fragments of what my grandmother described as my “vivid imagination”. Oh! And Granny (as we called her when we were younger) is one of the main characters in this series. Basically, these books are, in some ways, personal memoirs combined with fantasy and lots of adventure. The stories are set in the 1960s, when my family first moved into the haunted house, and it includes some of my childhood friends and nemeses, including the schoolyard bully whose memory haunts me to this day (moreso than the ghost).

Here's a peek at Mrs. Murray's Home:

“No, you can’t.”

“I can too.”

“Leave her alone.”

“Let her sleep.”
“Quiet!” Mary covered her ears, forcing her eyes to open. She shrieked when she did and slid backwards to the headboard of the bed, curling her legs in front of her, in a feeble attempt to protect herself.

“Now you’ve done it.”

“I have not.”

“She’s awake, isn’t she?”

“Should have let her sleep.”

“Who are you?” Mary looked around the room, crammed full of, what? Ghosts? No. It couldn’t be. Gathering her wits about her, she asked the only question that came to mind. “Where’s Mrs. Murray?” She was one ghost Mary trusted and with whom she felt safe.

“Here.” Came the chorus of ethereal voices. “We’re all Mrs. Murray.”

“No!” Mary shook her head vehemently. “It can’t be. If so, where is my Mrs. Murray?”

The response was so loud, Mary was forced to cover her ears. “Stop!” she shrieked. “One at a time. Didn’t anyone teach you some manners?”

How do you go about researching for your stories?

When research is needed, I make use of the internet. There are a lot of resources available at the tip of our fingers. I also read a lot of nonfiction and possess a huge collection of books. (When we last moved ten years ago, the movers complained about the 500+ boxes of books. I’m sure it’s more now.) I used to frequent the public archives, but with most of the resources now available online, I find it much more convenient, especially with lockdown restrictions still in place for accessing public spaces.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have written a lot. My genres include: historical fiction/fantasy (Queen Mary’s Daughter and King Henry’s Choice), creative nonfiction (It Happened in Canada Books 1, 2, & 3, Personal Notes, The Whistling Bishop, F-Stop: A Life in Pictures”, Ukulele Yukon, Amazingly Extra-Ordinary Women, and To Be a Duke), mystery (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter), and, of course, Middle Grade and Young Adult, which includes this series, as well as Gerlinda (another childhood memory story). I also have several unpublished books in each of these genres looking for a publisher, including, surprisingly for me, a couple of dystopian novels.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Always. Another dystopian novel – must be the lockdown, Corona virus conspiracy theories getting to me and affecting my creative output.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write. Don’t procrastinate. Just write. Even bad writing is better than no writing, and it’s a step in the right direction as the more we write, the more we improve.

Anything else you want readers to know?

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