Meet Children’s Author, Wanda Luthman!

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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

Website/blog

Facebook Fan Page

Twitter

YouTube

Instagram

LinkedIn

Google+

Goodreads

Meet Maretha Botha — RRBC Spotlight Author

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Maretha Botha is an Italian National, born in South Africa in a small Western Province town called Montague and grew up in nearby Worcester – a town reminiscent of living in Switzerland among the snow-capped mountains in winter. Worcester had a small library. At the time, the librarian limited young Maretha’s visits to three times a week, because “You spend too much time with your nose in a book and neglect your school work.”

Maretha Botha has remained a confirmed bookworm and constantly strives to raise more bookworms who will enjoy reading, not just as a pleasant past-time, but as an excellent tool to be used when grown-up. The area around her birthplace and hometown is often a source of inspiration. She had this landscape in mind when describing the Molodi valley “as an out-of-the-way place, somewhere in the grasslands of Southern Africa.”

flameandhopecvrExcerpt from “Flame and Hope: An African Adventure – Fauna Park Tales” 1, Chapter 1 – “Friends”.

MY FRIENDS LIVE ON A free-range cattle farm in Molodi, an out-the-way place, somewhere in the grasslands of Southern Africa.  Should you visit there and search carefully, you may well notice many of us.  Some are slippery and slithery; others are striped, snub-nosed, long-eared and short-tailed, long-horned and round- eyed, furry or feathery.  I think you’ll fall in love with us, no matter what we look like! On a frosty morning in May, Flame stormed through the doggy trapdoor with a loud bang.  He jumped up against my tree and yapped, ‘Are you still sleeping, Hope?’

Flame had startled me, but I whistled, ‘Not any more! I’m awake now, but you’re very early. Naka[i] is still hanging on the horizon.’ He woofed, ‘I have a brilliant idea which I want to bark to our furry and feathered friends, but for them to accept my plan, they must hear about my life as a puppy in the Kalughari, first.  It’s tough for me to bark about certain events, so would you mind telling my story? Besides, you’re very wise; knowing Faunalang and whistling to the birds in their own songs.  You even know some Humanlang too.  So, you’re just the one for such a story-telling job!  Perhaps you might even enjoy telling us more about yourself?’

I fluttered my pink eyelids and whistled, ‘Thank you for asking.  I suppose I can try.  After

dog

Flame – aka Jack Old Boy – has a promise to keep and a quest to complete.

all, not only humans like stories.  I’ve heard that animals and birds also enjoy them, whether they are eyewitness reports or hearsay.  Just like you, I find it difficult to talk about my life before coming to the farm, but when the time’s right, I’ll whistle all about it.’

[1] Naka = a bright early morning star which appears before dawn towards the end of May in southern parts of Africa.  It’s a sign of the onset of the coldest time of the year and signals the time for the goats to breed.

Maretha Botha has written a series of four books in the series, “Fauna Park Tales”. Featured here is Book 1, “Flame and Hope: An African Adventure”.

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Connect with Maretha via Social Media:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Maretha-Botha/e/B00MOORJAO/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarethMBotha

Fauna Park Tales Twitter: https://twitter.com/FaunaParkTales

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarethMB

Flame and Hope Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flameandhope.co.uk/

Maretha’s Blog: https://marethmbotha.wordpress.com/

Maretha’s Child-Friendly Blog: https://marethabotha2013.com/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/marethabotha/pins/

Linked-In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/maretha-botha-976191b8/

A Beautifully Written Children’s Tale for All Ages

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5stars

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.

Blog Tour Interview with Middle Grade Fantasy Author, L. R. W. Lee

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I’m excited to present this author interview as part of the blog tour for L.R.W. Lee’s latest book in the Andy Smithson series, “Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace.” Directed at middle grade readers, the author’s intent is not only to provide the reader with a fantasy adventure but likewise include an important lesson about life. Here’s your chance to learn a little bit about the person behind these remarkable stories.

MF: How did you come up with your main character, Andy Smithson? Did he just pop into your imagination or did you specifically develop him?

LRWL: Andy is patterned after my son. After our first child who was what I would call compliant and seemed to need little to no correction, our son arrived on the scene. As with most 2nd children, he was polar opposite and provided much fodder for an engaging main character.

MF: How did your experience with building a business help with your writing?

LRWL: It has been invaluable for I understand that writing is only 50% of the writer’s success equation. Unlike Field of Dreams, with so many good books available today, just launching it, even on a well trafficked platform like Amazon, does not get recognition. Because of my corporate background, from day one I began working to build a platform – Twitter and Facebook primarily and now also Book Nerd Paradise. As well, I understand the importance of the author community, for no author can succeed these days without the support of fellow authors. My background has also helped in understanding the need to optimize my books to rank well on the variety of sites they are listed on. There’s much more, but those are the biggest helps I would say.

MF: Was there any particular book or author whom you feel had the most influence on your work?

LRWL: I have to say JK Rowling. The imagination she revealed, the strength of her characters, the world building, the depth of plot over multiple books…she definitely shaped how I think about writing.

MF: What do you love the most about writing for young people?

LRWL: Young people are moldable. My passion for writing is to share with readers principles that from my experience can help them live more peaceful lives. A few of these principles include overcoming fear, frustration and impatience as well as understanding that true success in life is not from riches, fame or power, but rather responsibility, diligence and dignity. If they can finish any of my books closer to understanding these principles, I feel very fulfilled.

MF: Which part of the creative process is your favorite? Least favorite?

LRWL: Designing the story arc is my favorite part of the creative process for you can take a story anywhere your imagination can go. My least favorite part is editing/revising. Even though I know the narrative gets much stronger as a result, it’s still my least favorite part.

MF: How long does it usually take you to write one of your stories from when you get the idea to when it’s finished?

LRWL: Usually about 6 months.

MF: I know that most authors love all their characters but which of your many “children” is your favorite (besides Andy) and why?

LRWL: I have to say Mermin, the kindly old wizard who speaks with a lisp. I love him most after Andy because he’s so warm, humble and approachable. He’s fallible and he knows it, which is why he doesn’t apologize for his mistakes, rather he is comfortable in his own skin.

MF: Do you ever plan to branch out into other genres besides middle grade/young adult fantasy?

LRWL: Funny you should ask. Yes, I’m actually noodling with a story arc of a YA Sci Fi story.

MF: How do you feel your writing has evolved since your first novel?

LRWL: I can see how much I’ve changed and improved in showing rather than telling my readers what’s happening. I want them to engage and to show – providing sight, sounds, touch, smell, and taste cues is a big part of that. I was particularly thrilled when my editor came back a full week sooner than expected with this current book because I had improved so much between book three and four. My pocketbook also appreciated that. 🙂

Linda

CONNECT WITH L.R.W. LEE:

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/L.-R.-W.-Lee/e/B00CCFJ55W/

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047233.L_R_W_Lee

Also be sure to check out Book Nerd Paradise at https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/42629803-book-nerd-paradise hosted by L.R.W. and the Book Nerd Paradise YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/BookNerdParadiseYouTube

WEBSITE: http://www.lrwlee.com

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/lrwlee and http://twitter.com/booknerdparadis

FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/lrwlee

BLOG:https://lrwlee.wordpress.com/

BOOK BUY LINKS

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=andy+smithson&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aandy+smithson

Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=LRW+Lee

B&N http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/l.-r.-w.-lee

IF YOU ENJOY AUDIOBOOKS:

Prequel http://www.amazon.com/Power-Heirs-Passion-Smithson-Prequel/dp/B00TJ3EKHS/ref=sr_1_5_twi_3_audd?ie=UTF8&qid=1431443663&sr=8-5&keywords=andy+smithson

Book One FREE! http://podiobooks.com/title/blast-of-the-dragons-fury/

Book Two http://www.amazon.com/Andy-Smithson-Venom-Serpents-Cunning/dp/B00KTGJGBO/ref=sr_1_4_twi_3_audd?ie=UTF8&qid=1431443663&sr=8-4&keywords=andy+smithson