Meet Children’s Author, Wanda Luthman!


Wanda and I met in an interesting, serendipitous way. First we connected on LinkedIn, which really isn’t that unusual. After that, however, we discovered we were both going to the Space Coast Book Lovers Conference in Cocoa Beach, Florida. We were looking forward to meeting in person and then, better yet, our tables were next to one another! What are the odds? I call that something along the lines of “meant to be.”

I enjoyed visiting with her tremendously and was so impressed by her and her adorable books I wanted to pass that along. Her background in mental health and guidance counseling show through in these uplifting stories. If any of you have young children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, are teachers, or whatever, take note! These colorful books will charm your socks off!

MF:  I grew up on Little Golden Books and fell in love with stories when I was a

preschooler. What was your favorite book as a young child and did it influence your writing?

WL:  My all-time favorite book was Charlotte’s Web. My third grade teacher read it to us at school over several days while we were waiting for the bus. I definitely believe this book inspires my writing today. While I had already started writing books by third grade, this book is one that I look to aspire to. I want children to feel something when they read my books, just like I did with Charlotte’s Web.

MF: What influenced you the most to decide to write and publish children’s stories?

WL: My daughter has been a source of inspiration for me to write. I saw the world through her eyes growing up and it got me back in touch with my inner child which is where I believe my creativity lives. But, what inspired me to actually publish was that my Pastor had written a book and something about knowing an actual person who published a book made me want to go for it. Plus, being 40 and finally over the fear of people saying ‘no.’

MF: How do you get your ideas? Are they based on experience or just come to you?

WL: My ideas bubble up from somewhere inside that I can’t really explain. However, when I look back on a story after I’ve written it, I can usually see that it came from a thought I had while riding my bike or enjoying the beauty of nature or sometimes from a song I hear.

MF: Which comes first? Visualizing the illustrations, creating the character, or the poetic rendition of the story?

WL: When I write a picture book, the words and rhyme come first. Sometimes when I’m

particularly stuck on a spot in the story/poem, that’s when a visualization will help. If I can see it, I can describe it. By seeing it, though, I mean in my mind’s eye.

MF: Do you ever do readings? If so, do you have any special experiences to share?

WL: Yes, I love to do readings. I have read at schools and libraries and once at a Barnes & Noble. What I love is looking at the children’s faces just listening intently. Afterwards, I usually take questions and I love the questions children come up with. Often they are the children that like to write themselves. I truly hope I inspire them to follow their dream of writing.

MF: Of your various characters, do you have one who’s your favorite? Why?

WL: I think my favorite character is Franky the finicky flamingo. He’s very colorful and wants to stay that way but doesn’t like any other birds’ food. He’s fun and unique. He also has a second book coming out where he’s trying to find his favorite drink. But, it’s not about what you think. This one has an earth-consciousness message.

MF: What’s your favorite part of writing? You least favorite?

WL: My favorite part of writing is the actual writing. When I have something inside that is pushing me to write it down and I sit down and it just flows out of me. It’s like I’m in a zone. It’s wonderful! My least favorite part is figuring out how to connect my books with readers. I love book fairs, craft shows, and school/library events but they are not always easy to find.

MF: If you could have dinner with any children’s author, living or not, who would it be?

WL: It would definitely be with Dr. Seuss. I love his writings. He is playful, yet has a message. I also love his rhyme and meter. He is my writing hero!

MF: What genre do you like to read for you? Do you have a favorite author?

WL: I read a lot of children’s books. I started reading them to keep my finger on the pulse of what was happening in the industry and then realized I liked them a lot. I guess it’s how my mind words so I connect with them. However, I read a lot of spiritual books. Ever since my Pastor’s book landed in my hands and it turns out it was a 28-day meditation book, I have become very interested in contemplative meditation which has an eastern feel to it. So, I read everything I can get my hands on about that. I find it so encouraging to meditate and soak in love and then I turn around and can give that away to help make the world a better place.

MF: Each of your books have a theme and a cleverly disguised lesson. Do you know what your next story will be about?

WL: I never know what my next story is going to be about. I have to wait for the idea to percolate inside me and then bubble up to the point I’m aware of it and have to write it down. I have already written three more picture books (one for Halloween, one for Christmas, and one for Easter). I have a full book written as the sequel to The Lilac Princess. I have an idea written as a sequel to Gloria and the Unicorn and an idea that’s been turning over in my mind for a sequel to A Turtle’s Magical Adventure. But, right now, I’m finishing up the sequel to Franky the Finicky Flamingo, the one that’s about Franky finding his favorite drink. I can’t decide between the title Franky Finds his Favorite Drink or Franky the Thirsty Flamingo. I love the alliteration of the first one but the second one sounds more like the first title. If any of your readers has input, I’d love to hear it!

Wanda’s books are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

The Lilac Princess

A modern fairy tale of a young Princess with too much responsibility and not enough freedom. She is an only child to an elderly King and Queen of a Kingdom in turmoil. Upon her rests the responsibility to rescue her Kingdom one day, but for now, she is held within the castle walls for her safety. She longs to go outside just for a moment, to smell the sweet lilacs growing in the meadow. Come along on her adventure when she dares to escape the castle walls and meets a cursed dragon. Little does she know that while the dragon has an evil plan, her sweet spirit may just unravel it.

Franky the Finicky Flamingo

Franky is a finicky eater or so it seems. He tries food that the other birds like to eat but nothing appeals to him. Finally, a friend helps him discover the food that is right for him. The message is about accepting our “finickiness” while also understanding our need for the “right” (aka healthy) foods.

Little Birdie Grows Up

A precious story about a bird’s hatching to leaving the nest. Be warned, adults, have a tissue handy!

A Turtle’s Magical Adventure

A Turtle’s Magical Adventure is a charming, heart-warming story of a turtle who doesn’t like his shell because it makes him too slow. Tad asks other slow animals if they also mind being slow. Each one gives an answer that helps Tad feel better, but, still he wants to be fast. He happens upon a snake who tells him there is a wizard that can make him fast. He goes on an adventure into The Magical Timberwood Forest to meet the wizard and hopefully get his wish fulfilled. He encounters delightful, magical creatures along the way but also meets with danger and choices. Will Tad get his wish or will the wizard turn him into turtle soup?

Gloria and the Unicorn

Gloria struggles with her facial disfigurement and wanting to fit in. Gloria’s mother died at birth and her father gave her to Miss Libby, the owner of a children’s home. Miss Libby loves the little girl and feels protective of her. But, it’s not until Sir Louie, the unicorn, shows up that Gloria starts to believe in herself. She has a conflict at school and never wants to go back and then she finds herself in an even worse situation; she encounters the evil Wizards of Malcadore who want to kill her. She must decide if she will face her fear of certain death to save her friend, Sir Louie, or lose him forever. Come along on Gloria’s marvelous journey with Sir Louie.

Connect with Wanda

Amazon Author Page


Facebook Fan Page







5 Parenting Tricks to Raise a Smarter Child


Children are born curious. That is why they drive their parents nuts. Even before they can talk, they’re into everything, whether it’s the kitchen cupboards or the catbox. Hopefully, the no-no’s are replaced by toys that are equally stimulating, though most parents have found that nothing can replace something as simple as a big, fort-sized box. When they learn to talk, then the questions begin. And for busy parents, these are often seen as a nuisance and distraction versus the opportunity they are to enhance your child’s intelligence and creativity. Instead, it’s usually squelched by sitting them in front of Netflix or a video game. I won’t even talk about the concept of going outside to play, since nowadays that seems as old-fashioned as rotary phones.

Most parents want their children to grow up to be successful, self-sufficient adults. With luck, maybe they’ll even take care of you someday. The question is whether your current parenting tactics will bring that result? What does your child’s diet comprise? Not just physical, either, though that’s the first place to start. Proper nutrition is important in too many ways to address in this blog, but if nothing else, it teaches healthy eating habits, even if you don’t explain why vegetables and fruit are healthier than cupcakes and soda. Proper nutrition contributes not only to a healthier body, but mind as well.

A healthy emotional diet is important, too. Lots of hugs, positive reinforcement and appropriate discipline are essential. If a child feels loved, overcoming other parenting mistakes is much easier.

learntothinkBut what about his or her intellectual diet? What’s feeding their little minds? Are you putting some thought behind it when they’re bored or just reaching for the easiest distraction? Here are a few tips for encouraging your child to love learning.

1. Answer their questions! In the past, unless you were a physicist, it was more difficult when a child asked “Why is the sky blue” or “What causes a rainbow” or “Why can airplanes fly?” In the past it required a huge dictionary and a bookcase of heavy and expensive encyclopedias. Now all it takes is a quick query on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Don’t dismiss any question as stupid! Face it, you probably think it’s stupid because you can’t answer it. That attitude will rub off, too! If your child sees you looking up answers, it won’t be long before they do, too.

2. Make learning fun! There are just as many educational games out there as mindless ones, most of which teach battle strategies and violence. Shop carefully, paying attention to what the story line comprises. If your child gets addicted to video games, wouldn’t you rather they be learning something?

3. Failure is not an option! Part of making learning fun is creating a love for challenges, which is what games do. Make learning something new exciting, not something to be feared. Encourage your child to confront challenges, head-on, by setting goals, then celebrate even small successes. Teach the concept that failure isn’t permanent, but only a learning experience that serves as a stepping stone along the road of life.

4. Identify his or her learning style! It’s great that there’s so much visual learning these days, which I wish had been the case when I was a youngster. There are numerous learning styles with the most basic audio, visual and kinesthetic (hands-on). Do you know which one your child favors? It’s best to introduce all three and see which one your child’s naturally drawn to.

As a visual and kinesthetic learner, I did poorly with teachers who did nothing but talk, which went in one ear and out the other. Visuals helped, but hands-on resonated. While it’s a good idea to introduce the other styles to build skills in those areas, be sure to use your child’s favored media for the most important areas. Once you know what it is, find out which method(s) your child encounters in school. If it’s not the favored style, then you’ll want to supplement learning at home in the style s/he’ll not only absorb but enjoy.

5. Music appreciation! Learning a musical instrument not only teaches discipline, it actually improves a child’s brain and concentration. If this isn’t possible, you can still control what they’re exposed to. What becomes familiar is what they’ll prefer. If a child never hears classical music, it’s unlikely to be embraced later.

If music programs the brain in some way, then what do you want your child to listen to? Pay attention to lyrics, too, which are absorbed at the subconscious level. Music is a powerful tool. Make sure it’s having the desired effect. Going on vacation? While you have a captive audience in the car is a great time to introduce classical music. Turn off the DVD player occasionally and have them watch the countryside, which can be used as an impromptu geography lesson. Visiting a National Park? What an excellent time to introduce the compositions of Bach, Beethoven or Brahms.

None of these take a lot of time, certainly a lot less than most sports programs, which have their place in a child’s upbringing. But if most of your child’s leisure time is occupied with sports, what priorities are you teaching? Think about it.

Once you make up your mind to focus on these simple tricks, they’ll become second nature, not only for you but your child as well. Children truly do learn what they live. The intellectual quality depends on you.

Fathers’ Day Musings

fatheranyI always approach Fathers’ Day with mixed feelings. There are great fathers and there are those who were present at the moment of conception but that was about it. My father fit somewhere in-between. He was there, at least physically, but not much of a father. No, he wasn’t physically abusive but he didn’t have a clue how to be a parent, or even a husband, for that matter. In his defense, his father died when he was two years old and his mother, my grandmother, never remarried so he really didn’t have any sort of example to follow.

When I was little he found me amusing but as I got older he nicknamed me “Nuisance” and by the time I was a teenager he ignored me completely. Ironically, he and my mother stayed married because of me. The three little words I remember him saying to her on a regular basis were “You’re never satisfied.” As a result I grew up with little respect for either of them whose relationship was somewhere between the Bundys and Bunkers or maybe Ralph and Alice Cramden, a.k.a. “The Honeymooners” of sitcom fame. This, of course, fueled his resentment toward the “stupid kid.” In retrospect, I can see that the sour marriage ruined us all. If my parents had been happily divorced we all would have been better off, especially me, since I felt I was to blame for the sorry situation.


A book I read years ago entitled “Getting the Love You Want” by Harville Hendrix did an excellent job of explaining why men and women marry the people they do. It’s quite simple. Each is attempting to complete a role that was lacking in some way regarding the parent of the opposite gender. I grew up feeling useless at best and a burden at worst, so when I got married I was out to prove that I could support myself and everyone else. That’s what happens when your nickname is “Nuisance.”

I probably sound bitter, but I’m not, just retrospective as once again Fathers’ Day approaches. It was a few weeks before Fathers’ Day when my father died. He was in his 70s and had suffered a major stroke with little to no hope of recovery. He was a Navy veteran so was going to be transported from the local hospital to the Veterans’ Hospital roughly a hundred miles away, so I knew I probably would never see him again. Thus, I went to the hospital that morning to say goodbye. He was unconscious as I took a chair at the foot of his bed, but shortly after I arrived he started to stir, opened his eyes, sat up far enough to make eye contact, then convulsed and was gone. As he left this life I had a strong impression that he’d apologized in passing for being such a lousy father. It didn’t change anything but for some strange reason made me feel at peace, recognize he did the best that he could and forgive him entirely for his deficiencies. The sense of loss I felt then and still is never so much that he’d passed on, but rather for the relationship we never had.


As time went by, my own children grew up, had children of their own, and their children likewise grew up. During that time I witnessed a wide variety of fathering or lack thereof. The older I got, the more I realized how many voids I had in my life because of my father’s inability to function in that role. I never felt as if I mattered one way or the other and that I had to prove my worth, to myself as well as everyone else. I never had anyone I felt comfortable going to for advice, mostly because of being told “you’re only a stupid kid” on a regular basis. Ironically, he had a 10th grade education and couldn’t answer some of the simplest questions I asked when I was a youngster. I don’t doubt now, as I look back, that he was simply echoing what he’d been told as a child himself.

When I got married and he “gave me away” it was an empty part of the ceremony since we’d never bonded. I’ve seen some beautiful interactions between brides and their fathers and sometimes grandfathers, both at the altar and then later when they danced together. Seeing them always brought tears to my eyes because it was an experience I’d never have. I never knew either of my grandfathers, either, but having a loving grandpa can definitely help fill this void.


Fortunately, in my life I’ve known some wonderful older men whom I adopted emotionally as a surrogate father. These were kind, educated and successful men who treated me like an intelligent and perhaps even interesting human being. I wept profusely when these worthy father substitutes passed away while never shedding a tear for my own.

The more children raised without a father’s positive influence, the more dysfunctional families will result. Boys need a loving and responsible male role model and girls need a positive relationship with their father to assure better self-esteem and higher expectations of the men in their future. If that sounds sexist, I don’t care. I wonder if my relationship with my father would have been better if I had been a boy, which he wanted as many men do. Maybe I got a physics degree and went into a career field predominated by men to try to make up for being a girl. My father was a mechanic and I remember when he’d work on our family car that I was curious and wanted to watch but was shooed away since that’s not what girls were supposed to be interested in. And sadly, now that I’m retired and single, I have this huge mental block about fixing things or performing even minor maintenance like changing the air filter on my lawnmower, probably because I was told as a child that girls don’t do such things.


If any fathers out there have stuck with me this long, please recognize how important you are to your children. If a child feels unloved by his or her father it’s highly likely a feeling of not being good enough will have a pervasive detrimental effect on his or her life. Every rejection will reinforce this negative self-perception and deter love, success and joy from every fact of their life. They may turn out to be a workaholic people-pleaser, forever trying to find the praise and acceptance they never got. A more negative spin includes gang membership or promiscuity. Note that well-intentioned but over-critical parents can have the same effect if a child feels unloved or unaccepted.


Fathers, your children possess half of your genetic material and have a natural affection for you, whether you deserve it or not. Why do you think adopted children will go to so much trouble to find their birth parents? Any failure on your part to fulfill your role will leave an empty place in their heart. And you adopted fathers are incredibly important. You don’t have the benefit of a genetic link yet have every bit as much influence and responsibility to fill that role. In some cases you’ll do far better than the natural parent ever could, especially if the natural father was in the “sperm donor” category. Unfortunately, my “surrogate” fathers entered my life too late to fill that void.


While numerous male parents in the animal kingdom are remiss in taking part in raising their offspring, humans are supposed to be better than that. Fathers, be the best person you possibly can and man up to your responsibilities. Be there for your sons and daughters. By doing so you can make an important contribution one child at a time to a better world. A world that needs all the help it can get.