Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with Children’s Author Sherrill S. Cannon

Sherrill S. Cannon has published four children's books and six plays for elementary school. She graduated magna cum laude from The American University, was a teacher and coach for ten years, was a professional newspaper sports photographer and columnist, a Dinner Theatre Company Stage Manager, an Assistant Talent Manager, and a Business Administrator. She and her husband of 52 years are now retired, and travel in their RV from coast to coast each year to spend time with their children and grandchildren... sharing Sherrill’s books along the way!

All four of Sherrill’s children's books are in rhyme and all try to teach something such as good manners and caring for others. In less than three years, Sherrill has won a dozen National Awards for her books, The Magic Word, Peter and the Whimper-Whineys, Santa’s Birthday Gift and Gimme-Jimmy. Hello, Sherrill. Please tell us about Santa’s Birthday Gift.

My favorite book will always be Santa’s Birthday Gift – because it was the first to be published, and the one that I feel I was inspired to write. After I read the story of the Nativity to one of my grandchildren, she looked at me and said, “But where’s Santa?” I thought to myself, Yes indeed, where is Santa? That night the entire story came to me in a dream, and when I sat down to write it the story just flowed (in rhyme)… So to me it will always be a very special book. The book tells the story of the Nativity, and then skips to Santa seeing the Star at the North Pole and following the Star to Bethlehem, where he kneels before Jesus and gives Him his gift: his promise to bring gifts to children each year to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child. Christmas gifts are really Birthday gifts to Jesus.

What a wonderful message! What ages would enjoy this book?

Ages 2-7, for children who still believe in Santa. By the way, I also believe that Santa is the Spirit of Christmas…that desire to give to others. So the transition is much easier for children when you can point out that the Spirit of Christmas is real.

I, too, believe in Santa and the special joy he brings to children when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. You’re never too old to believe! Sherrill, all your books are set in rhyme. I love it. I feel this grabs my children’s and grandchildren’s attention quicker than in story form. What is your opinion on this?

I agree, because children love the music and the flow of the words. It’s also easier for them to remember lines when they rhyme – and you can frequently find small children “reading” along with the story! Of course I love it, because I love poetry - and have been writing poetry since I was a small child myself!

How do your grandchildren react to your books?

Reading Santa’s Birthday Gift is a Christmas tradition for my “grands” – along with their families. The older ones are my best “test read” for my new books, since they also give me nice feedback. The younger ones seem to love them all. When my granddaughter was 3, she had to sleep with The Magic Word; and then when Gimme-Jimmy was released, she decided she really liked it too because Elisabeth from The Magic Word was in it!! My 4-yr-old grandson really loves my newest book, Manner-Man, to be released in January 2013 – probably because he asked me to write one about a Superhero! After his mother read him the story (without illustrations) he immediately went out to the patio and drew me a picture of Manner-Man (with a little help from his Dad) so that I would know what he should look like! 

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, Sherrill. Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I have a new book giveaway each week, so visit my blog and see what is next.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Interview with Romance/Suspense Author Julie Coulter Bellon

Julie Coulter Bellon loves to write international romantic suspense novels because she gets to travel to distant lands to research and add an authentic feel to all of her books. Her favorite cities so far are Athens, Paris, Ottawa, and London. She's the mother of eight children and the author of eight books and isn’t sure what that really says about her. Julie graduated from college with an English teaching degree from Brigham Young University and taught journalism for 14 years. Her habit of reading multiple newspapers daily is where she gets a lot of story ideas - ripped from the headlines and twisted a bit.

Welcome back to my blog, Julie. Please tell us about your new book.

All Fall Down is my newest novel about a hostage negotiator, Claire Michaels who finds herself in the middle of an international incident when an American businessman is kidnapped by al-Qaeda. She has to use all of her training to try and get him back while preventing the man behind it all from compromising national security. 

Rafe Kelly, a Navy SEAL on leave to recover from an injury, never expected to be fighting terrorists on his home turf, but when his brother is kidnapped, it becomes a personal war. He teams up with a hostage negotiator, but the deadly game of cat and mouse takes an ominous turn when they realize what’s really at stake. Can Rafe save himself and his country without anyone he loves getting caught in the crossfire?

Where did you get your inspiration for this novel?

Well, I was watching a special about when SEAL Team Six penetrated bin Laden’s compound and killed him, but the thing that was most interesting to me was how they confiscated his ten computer hard drives and sent them to be analyzed. My mind kept asking, what if there was something on those files that would help al-Qaeda attack America again? Wouldn’t there be someone in that terrorist organization who would do anything to get it? And the story grew from there.

That is so interesting. What kind of research did you do for this book?

Since part of the book is set in Afghanistan I had to do a lot of research since I’d never been there. I also researched computer forensics, hostage negotiators, and Navy SEALs. It was quite enlightening and I am so grateful to all the law enforcement people, computer experts, and military personnel who helped answer all my questions and added a realism to my work.

I love it when authors add real life situations to their stories. Do you ever put real experiences in your suspense novels?

I do, actually. There are several events in the book that actually happened in real life with the computer forensics sections and the hostage negotiation chapters. And part of the inspiration of the book was that prisoners from Guantanamo Bay were released and went back to help terrorism. I also used several different personal Afghanistan experiences in the hotel to make that more real. If you’ve read my work, you know I base my characters after an amalgamation of real people and real experiences because I want it to feel like this is something that really could happen.

Thank you, Julie, for this interview. Your book sounds fantastic. For those interested, Julie has a blog where she posts book reviews and writer tips at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude Month: Thanksgiving Book Reviews

“One thing I admire about Linda Weaver Clarke’s writing is that she desires to put the reader right there with her characters by describing the setting so well that you are swept away. From page one Linda eloquently describes in interesting details the surroundings and the feelings of her characters. I love when I begin reading a book and am taken in! The relationships and the communication between the characters is top notch.” –Melanie Ski, Jubilee Reviews


Book or Ebook: Desert Intrigue: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans
Review: Romance, Mystery, and Regional History Collaborate to Create a Satisfying, Intriguing Story! It was difficult to put this one down. I cared about the characters, I cared about their ranch, and I was brainstorming right along with this delightful family, figuring out how to either remove the curse or solve the mystery that threatened to destroy their way of life. There are children flirting with romance, relational complexities, and a wedding in the works that just won’t seem to come together. The writing is clear and lively, never calling attention to itself or getting in the way of the story. The touches of humor and inclusion of regional history tie it all together to make a satisfying story all the more fascinating. Highly recommended! –Steve Miller, Author


Ebook: Writing Your Family Legacy
Review: It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Each of us has a story from our ancestors or even our own story to tell. It’s up to us to write these experiences down. Make your family legacy something your children will be proud of. “Many books are written about genealogy and how-to and give you templates, but this one is worth the time and effort to read and pass on to others. This one is a gem.” –Jimmy, Reviewer

Ebook: Reflections of the Heart
Review: Reflections of the Heart has 13 chapters of inspirational writings such as: The secret of Happiness, Laughter is the Best Medicine, Parenthood – A Great Responsibility, and Music Soothes the Soul. “The nuggets of wisdom are right-on, the quotes inspirational, and some of the stories moved me to tears. Goodness, what was the mysterious (and dreadful!) ailment that afflicted George as a boy? And my heart goes out to the author having had to bear a body cast at the tender age of 13... I now have a good idea of the kind of person the author is. You are a grateful, loving, sensitive, honest, courageous (not easy going to college at age 48!!!), giving woman – one I would love to meet. Reflections of the Heart reflects a beautiful heart and I was blessed by reading it.” –Evelyn Uslar-Pietri, Author

Monday, November 12, 2012

Interview with Christian Author Diane Craver

As the youngest in the family, growing up on a farm in Findlay, Ohio, Diane often acted out characters from her own stories in the backyard. She met her husband while teaching at an orphanage, and they married three years later. While raising their six children in southwestern Ohio, Diane started writing nonfiction. Later, she decided it would be a nice escape to write fiction. Diane has published through a variety of houses, but recently decided to try Indie Publishing. She writes fun and inspiring stories filled with memorable characters. Diane gives thanks “to God daily for all her wonderful blessings.”

Ms. Craver has a knack for pulling at your heartstrings with her endearing characters.

Hello, Diane. Please tell us about your novel, A Joyful Break.

Thanks for having me, Linda. Here is my blurb for A Joyful Break: “After her mother’s untimely death, a twenty-year-old Amish woman has a difficult decision to make: Make a break from the Amish church and her boyfriend…or live in the English world permanently.”

Rachel Hershberger wants to get away from her Amish home in Fields Corner, Ohio. For a year she’s been trying to fill her mother’s shoes by taking care of her father and siblings. She quit her job at the bakery so she could have more time to clean and cook at home. Before her mother died, Rachel was positive she wanted to marry Samuel Weaver, but now she can’t think about wedding plans. She blames her father for her mother’s death. If they had installed a phone in their barn or a shanty, her mother might have received medical help in time to save her life. Her mother’s death has made Rachel question if she should be baptized and join the church. She wonders if non-Amish women live longer and have less stress. Maybe her forty-four-year old mother would still be alive had she left the Amish lifestyle like her sister Carrie did.

When her Aunt Carrie invites her to go to the beach, Rachel decides the time away will help her to decide whether to join the Amish church or to live in the English world. She is conflicted because she loves Samuel and her family. Instead of a relaxing time away, disturbing events happen while Rachel’s in Florida. A photographer snaps troublesome pictures of Rachel because of her famous senator uncle, and a handsome and charming college student falls in love with Rachel.

Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

My inspiration for writing this book came from my sweet late mother, Laoma Oberly Wilson. She lived a long Christian life and enjoyed being a wife, mother and grandmother.  Her grandfather was a Mennonite minister, and she shared many stories about him. Also the Amish community in A Joyful Break  is fictional, but exists close to Wheat Ridge which is an actual Amish community in the southern part of Ohio where I live.

What kind of research did you have to do for this novel?

Before I started writing my Amish novel, I did extensive research to portray this wonderful faith as accurately as possible. However, there are differences between the various groups and subgroups of Amish communities.  This is because the Amish have no central church government; each has its own governing authority. Every local church maintains an individual set of rules, adhering to its own Ordnung.

What does your family think about your writing?

My husband and children are very supportive of my writing. My hubby is a nonreader so I was impressed when he read four of my print books. He doesn’t want to read from my Kindle. My daughters have proofread my manuscripts and given me constructive feedback about what I’ve written.

That’s awesome. Real family support! Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

When my daughter Christina was in San Diego on a conference, she booked a flight for me to join her. We ate lasagna at an outside restaurant and enjoyed walking on the beach. I thought I was the smart one keeping my shoes and socks on. Apparently a bug bit my big toe while it was trapped in my shoe. I ended up with cellulitis, which is an infection of the skin. Another daughter, Emily, thought I meant I had cellulite when I called home about my illness. LOL. My toe, foot, and leg were swollen and turned a nasty purple color. I was hospitalized in San Diego overnight and discharged. When I arrived home, I needed to be admitted and was in the hospital for five days. Pretty serious stuff. But my favorite vacation will always be to go to the beach. I love the ocean so it was especially fun to write about Rachel’s impression when she first steps foot on Cocoa Beach in my novel.

Man, I didn’t realize that an insect bite could do so much damage. I’m glad that you recovered. I’ll remember to take off my shoes when I go to the beach next. I live among the Rocky Mountains, but I go to the California beach once a year when I’m on tour. Thanks for being a guest on my blog.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Interview with Author Vanessa Morgan

Vanessa Morgan is known as the ‘female version of Stephen King’. Her screenplays, A Good Man and GPS With Benefits, are currently being turned into movies. She is also the author of Drowned Sorrow and The Strangers Outside. If she’s not working on her latest supernatural thriller, you can find her reading, watching horror movies, blogging, digging through flea markets or indulging in her unhealthy addiction to her cat. She writes in English, Dutch and French. Vanessa’s blog:

Welcome to my Family Friendly Blog! As you know, I have a weekly book giveaway and today I’m featuring a new author, Vanessa Morgan. Please tell us about your new book, Vanessa.

GPS WITH BENEFITS is a hilarious short about a GPS device with a mind of ‘her’ own. A womanizer purchases a new GPS device, but has no idea he’s buying one with a mind of ‘her’ own. It’s scheduled to be turned into a film in 2013.

Hilarious! Where did you get your inspiration for this story?

The inspiration for GPS WITH BENEFITS came to me when I was in the car with a friend. We made jokes about the GPS and imagined what it would be like if the device was aware of the driver and his thoughts. I immediately knew that this could be turned into a hilarious story. I won’t reveal more, but GPS WITH BENEFITS has some twists and turns that you won’t expect and that will have you laughing out loud.

What kind of research did you have to do for this book?

I observed people’s driving behavior, the small things that distracted them from the road.

This book sounds fun. What does your family think about your writing?

Most of them don’t speak or understand English. I’m originally from Belgium and my native language is Dutch, so they can’t read my books. But they’re proud when they see me on television or in magazines.

That is very interesting. Okay, it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget.

I probably know more about horror movies than anyone else. Also, I love languages. I speak Dutch, French, English, Spanish and a bit of German and I’ve written screenplays and books in three different languages. Even though I write stories about cars and GPS devices, I don't have a driver's license.

Wow! That’s 5 different languages. I’m impressed. I learned Spanish and enjoyed it very much but I don’t think I could learn anymore than two, which includes English. I’ve heard that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn so I should feel grateful that I grew up with it. Hahaha.