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







A Beautifully Written Children’s Tale for All Ages



While technically a children’s story, this beautifully written and touching tale by award-winning author, W. J. Scott, demonstrates that a great story works for all ages. In fact, some parts of it were so suspenseful and heart-rending, I felt it could be a little scary for some young children.

The main character, Kywah, is a silvertail, a unique species with subtle, magical powers. Much of these abilities lie in their tail, which acts similar to an antenna to pick up information around them. Unfortunately, poor Kywah’s tail was severed by an evil hunter named Samsa, stunting his physical progression to maturity.

To make things even worse, Tullius, the local wizard acquires the severed tail and discovers it has magical properties that will help boost his own failing magical powers.  This leads to a bounty being placed on silvertails for their tails as well as their pelts, which motivates the local hunters to seek them out.

A silvertail from a neighboring pack brings ominous news that hunters are closing in. Subsequently, Kywah embarks on a treacherous mission to visit Rotarn, their species’s “Wise One”, to obtain the deep magic needed to protect them.

This is an outstanding, suspense-filled story with a multitude of messages addressing courage, dealing with disabilities, the bonds of friendship, and commitment to one’s mission, whatever it takes. As an animal lover myself, the plight of these sweet creatures really touched me, in view of the many species bordering on extinction today due to being hunted by cold-hearted, selfish men. I recommend it highly as an outstanding example of a great story with an equally great message. Fortunately, it’s the first volume of a series, allowing me to look forward to the next book.

Pick up your copy on Amazon here.

“Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon” by H.L. Burke: A delightful new fairytale you’re sure to love.


I won a print copy of this wonderful book in a Facebook event and I’m so glad I did. I’m convinced that we never outgrow a good fairytale and this charming book has the potential to be a classic. It has all the elements one expects in such a tale of make-believe including a sweet young princess, an evil wannabe queen, a somewhat ditzy king, an incompetent wizard, magic gone wrong, an adorable eternal kitten and, of course, a dragon.

However, don’t think that this is “just another fairytale.” This delightful story with its fantastic cover is even better than several classics in that the engaging characters draw you in and come alive. The dragon is delightfully complex, having his fire-breathing side coupled with a love for gold and jewels yet a tender place in his heart for a tiny, misplaced kitten. You love some, you wish really bad karma on others, and more than anything else you keep turning the pages as you navigate through a variety of surprises and plot twists in pursuit of the “happily ever after” part. The chapters are short and perfect for bedtime reading but don’t contain blatant cliffhangers. The suspense level is perfect, right in the “Goldilocks zone” of not too strong, not too weak, but just enough to prod your child into bed the following night to find out what happens next.

Of course any good fairytale includes a variety of archetypes which operate at the subconscious level and deliver a message cleverly disguised within the framework of the characters and plot. This one addresses several, such as the importance of not stereotyping who might be a potential friend when you’re down and out. There’s the usual concept that outward beauty does not assure goodness within as well as a few others such as innovative solutions at the hands of the most unlikely person can often unravel a problem. Inadvertent mistakes can hurt others as much as a deliberate blow, the smallest and most innocent deserve protection, dealing with homesickness and sadness when you miss a loved one, and the love that binds us to others are likewise incorporated skillfully into the story without being didactic.

Whether you’re a young reader, a child at heart, a parent or grandparent, pick up a copy of this book for a refreshing break you probably didn’t even realize you needed. And don’t forget to share it with a child you love.

Interview with Children’s Author/Illustrator, Donna McGarry


Donna McGarry is the author of several, brightly illustrated children’s books known as the “Zodiacts” series. It’s hard to say which is more charming, the delightfully original artwork, the poetic prose or the messages behind these clever stories. Her characters are whimsical with distinct personalities which children can relate to. The illustrations nearly jump off the pages with their dazzling colors presented in an original style guaranteed to make you smile and hold any child’s attention.

As you may expect, these stories all have an astrological theme. Whether or not you’re a fan of astrology the messages in these stories are applicable to life. Each astrological sign relates to a theme or archetype which Donna takes down to a child’s level with an entertaining story that illustrates an upbeat and insightful lesson. Each is not only enjoyable at face value but also useful for further discussion between a parent and child. Early education professionals and daycare providers could also find these books useful teaching tools.

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 MF: Your Zodiacts series of children’s books is unique in numerous ways. The stylistic artwork is highly innovative, most of the characters are shaped like stars while still maintaining different personalities, and your themes derive from astrology. How did you originally come up with this unique combination?

DM: When I was little I had those gorgeous Prismacolor pencils. I was always doodling dancing star characters with little hats, heels and sparkling eyes as well as flying fish type creatures. I became fascinated with astrology as a pre-teen. I used to sneak into the pharmacy and furtively read the Dell Horoscope magazine. My friends were interested, but didn’t care to learn more than their own or maybe a boyfriend’s Sun sign. They thought it was too complicated. Most of my twenties were spent studying acting. Later when I got into sewing, I was inspired to create star characters based on the zodiac signs. I thought if I could create memorable characters who embody the essence of a sign, or act out those qualities, Zodiacts- it might facilitate understanding.


MF: As is the case with most children’s books, your illustrations add another dimension to the stories in and of themselves. Your bright colors and stylistic artwork remind me of the psychedelic designs popular in the 1960s. Did you receive any formal art training or inspiration for your unique methods of blending your whimsical characters with realistic photographic accents?

DM: No formal training. I always loved museums, art and color. As a kid, I was a big Dr. Seuss fan and thought Peter Max and Saul Steinberg were very groovy.


MF: Is your artwork strictly digital or do you also employ more conventional methods?

DM: I started the books with my own cartoon drawings years ago but something was missing. Namely talent! When a friend suggested I make a fabric book I was befuddled. Then I realized I could use the plush dolls my friends and I had created as astro characters. It wasn’t until I accepted the computer (kicking and screaming during a Uranus transit) and Photoshop into my life that things started to fall into place and the Zodiacts were born.


MF: Your stories draw their themes from astrology. As an astrologer myself I recognize the great lessons inherent in the zodiac and its archetypes. Are you a practicing astrologer or simply knowledgeable in that ancient art?

DM: I’m a level one graduate of Steven Forrest’s Evolutionary Astrology Apprenticeship Program. I do love interpreting charts, and enjoying astro banter with my pals, but since I started these books back in 2007, illuminating the Moon’s antics through the signs has become my primary passion. I’m hoping to bring Moon signs into the mainstream.


MF: Would you mind sharing your own sun sign? Any comments on how your natal chart contributes to your work as an artist and writer?

DM: I’m a Cancer with four planets in the 9th house. As you know, the 9th is the house related to higher learning, philosophy and publishing. Leo, which represents children, hobbies and creativity is the sign on that house cusp. The sign Cancer is ruled by the Moon. I have always been mesmerized by the Moon, and feel more affinity with my Moon sign, Aquarius, than I do with Cancer. One of my compulsions is to encourage people who are not that familiar with astrology to learn more about their charts. That they have a Moon and Venus sign etc., as well as a Sun sign. My Aquarius Moon is in the 3rd house which, I feel, bodes well for writing quirky children’s books. I think my Cancer Sun has to do with creating my own family of stars.


MF: What advantages do you see for children learning about astrology at a young age?

DM: To my way of thinking, astrology is the study of the cosmos and human nature. I believe it fosters compassion, empathy and a sheer delight in the eccentricities of behavior. Is any age too young to appreciate and start a dialogue about the nuances of personality? Plus, it’s just plain fun!


MF: Are your characters based on people you know who belong to the different sun signs or are they strictly composites? Or would you rather plead the 5th Amendment?

DM: I jokingly stated in my 1st book that all resemblance to persons living, dead etc. were purely coincidental except in the case of Penelope Pisces who was the celestial incarnation of my sister Madeline! I love people and their fun, wacky quirks and yes, the characters are based on, and/or are composites of my favorite people.


MF: The majority of children’s book have both an author and an illustrator yet you have been able to fill both roles. Which talent do you feel predominates, writing or artistic? In other words, do you see yourself more as one or the other or simply a comfortable combination of both?

DM: I don’t feel particularly adept at either. Just hard-headed and determined. I have a lot of squares in my chart! People tell me that I’m an artist and I love to create so I’ll pick that.


MF: Which part of the creative process do you enjoy the most?

DM: Sometimes I fear that I won’t get any ideas or that the light will go off, so any time I get a spark it’s good! I also love getting an expression on a character’s face just right. So far I have turned two of the books into iPad apps and loved the process of animating the characters. Hearing people laugh and enjoy my work is great.


MF: Which part of your work is the most challenging?

DM: Rhyming! Finding the words with astrological connotations and then finding another one to match it can be challenging. Plus the nitty gritty of the book set-up. I don’t think I would have been able to do it if progressed Venus hadn’t stationed in Virgo. (An astro phenomena I deeply resented as a teen, hurling my Table of Houses across the porch!)


MF: There are numerous individuals out there who have negative feelings toward astrology and thus object to exposing children to its teachings. Is there anything you’d like to comment about that?

DM: As I’ve said before, to my way of thinking astrology is the study of people and human nature. Different signs have different energies. Of course we all encompass all the signs in our charts, but if a person has a preponderance of gentle Pisces energy, that person might not get along so well with someone who’s got a lot of Martian or Scorpio energy. With all the bullying and coercion the kids have to deal with these days, I think the sooner they start to identify different personality signatures the better off they’ll be.

I believe the stigma against astrology is beginning to erode and more people are starting to appreciate it for the self-knowledge tool that it really is.

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I absolutely love these books and have left reviews for all of them on Amazon and Goodreads. “Aries Adventure: Camp on Camping On” shows that different people enjoy different activities which reinforces an understanding of individuality along with the important concept of “me.” The lovable characters in “Taurus Treehouse” encounter difficulties which could help a child depersonalize his or her own unpleasant situation and alleviate feelings of isolation, self-pity or rejection that often accompany time wrought with trouble. “Gemini Jamboree” is saturated with Mercurial wit, joy of learning, and even a hint of the Trickster which will delight children of all ages. “Cancer Conundrum” can help children learn about their own emotions as well as how their moods can affect others. “Leo Limelight Lunacy” shows the need for balance as well as the benefits of working with others to achieve your goals. Her most recent episode, “Vinnie d’Virgo and his Veggie Vittles” addresses healthy eating in an amusing yet honest way.


Donna’s Amazon Author Page:


Twitter: @ariesadventure






Zodiacts: A Whimsical Introduction to Celestial Beings



Aries Adventure: Camp on Camping On!

Kindle Version:



Taurus Treehouse




Gemini Jamboree




Cancer Conundrum




Leo Limelight Lunacy: Dance of the Dueling Divas




Vinnie d’Virgo and his Veggie Vittles