Saturday, October 21, 2017

Almost a Minyan, by Lori S. Kline, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval


Almost a Minyan is the lovely story of a young girl whose devout father visits the shul daily for public worship.  But if fewer than ten people are present, they do not have a minyan and are therefore unable to say certain prayers, or read the Torah.  The girl is not yet old enough to attend worship at the shul, but she looks forward to the day when she too, will be able to help reach a quorum.  Nothing makes her father happier than when they make minyan. But after her grandfather passes away, it seems nothing will make her father happy ever again. 

Almost a Minyan is written in rhyme and denotes the bonds of family and faith in a reverent and loving way.  Author Lori S. Kline has crafted a book filled with the warmth of time-honored traditions and unfailing devotion.  This book, with wonderful illustrations by Susan Simon, is a cultural gem that will connect with readers of all ages.  Almost a Minyan is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.

 

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Author Christina M. Pagés on her Top Honors award winning book



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER?
I first wrote poetry as a child, usually high up in a tree. The beauty of nature, and the mysteries of being human on this extraordinary planet inspire me to write, paint and play music.
WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING? 
The romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley, as well as the transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau showed me that I wasn’t alone in my feelings of connection with nature. Also, while studying for my Ph.D. in English, James Dickey, the well-known poet, was one of my professors who encouraged me to explore different ways of writing. He, other skilled teachers, and the works of literature helped me to expand my way of expressing myself on paper.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I first got the idea from Wordsworth’s poems about Lucy Gray, who is part-child, part spirit. When we read about her we are not sure if she is an actual child, or a spiritual presence in the grass, trees or stones. This idea also came from my own childhood. Sometimes I felt imprisoned indoors, either at school or at home, because where I grew up in Kent, England, was always so beautiful outside, regardless of the season. My house was surrounded by lush fields and magnificent oak-trees, and the garden was almost always filled with flowers. Luckily, my mother encouraged us to play outside most of the time, and we were free to wander for hours over the fields and farms. Farmers, cows, sheep, dogs, even the birds, rabbits, and foxes. seemed to recognize us as part of the landscape. I often walked alone in those woods and fields and imagined myself as part-child, part-flower, or tree. I was in everything and everything was in me. This gave me the idea of my main character, Lucy, in Lucy in her Secret Wood, an eight and a half-year-old child who was locked away indoors, for years, by her mean stepfather, and never knew the joys of being outside. When, one evening, her stepdad takes her out into the remote woods and abandons her there, Lucy wakes up to herself. By that, I mean that she recognized herself as part of the creation surrounding her. Having been deprived of life and beauty in her dirty little room, her awareness of beauty is much greater than for most humans. The animals, trees, flowers, and brook are all miracles for her, and because she feels the same magic within her, all her creativity and imagination is unleashed. Later, this manifests in the enchanting music she plays on a recorder.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
“But then [Lucy] remembered Alone [the deer], her body the colour of sunrise, her eyes full of the wood’s shadows that were saying, ‘Yes, shadows and darkness will come; night creatures will come, but light will always follow.”
Lucy is trying to settle down for her first night in the woods, inside the hollow trunk of Grandpa tree. She begins to feel afraid of the descending darkness, but then the doe, who she calls Alone comes through the trees and stares at her for a long time, as if trying to tell her that she has a friend and is not alone.
I like this passage because it shows how Lucy finds the courage to overcome her fears by connecting with her new family of woodland creatures who are beautiful, but also wise in the ways of survival.

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY?
Lucy is the most like me because finally, after almost nine years, she is able to experience the childhood I had in nature. As in my case, nature becomes her palette for wonder, her main comfort, inspiration, and teacher. Like Lucy, I became interested in music because of nature’s sounds, and also because my family played classical music. At the age of 11, I begged my parents to let me learn the piano, but in those days parents did not cart children to and fro. I had to walk across four fields to get to my piano teacher's cottage, often in rain, and usually through a great deal of mud. My piano playing became a primary way for me to express myself, just as Lucy’s playing on the recorder is her most important way of communicating her feelings when she is alone.

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK?
I hope they will be even more encouraged to see that we are surrounded by miracles and creativity, and happiness comes from experiencing life directly rather than through electronic gadgets and screens. Even city children can know a relief from playing outdoors, feeling the breeze, and seeing the sky, that can make them feel more alive than being enclosed inside a room. More and more cities are closing off streets so children can play outdoors, and schools are recognizing the importance of exposing children to nature in one way or another. The Children and Nature Network headed by Richard Louv, who coined the term “nature deficit disorder’ for children deprived of outside experiences, is doing all they can to increase children's connection with nature.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER:
As a child, I would climb trees with a piece of paper and a pencil so I could scribble out a ‘poem.’ I wanted to escape the scorn of my three older sisters who never took me seriously, but I also wanted a longer view over the tops of trees, into the fields beyond. I thought that view would make my poem more interesting. Often, I screwed up the poem in disgust, because I knew it was no good (and I certainly didn’t want my sisters to find it). At other times, I tore it as I scrambled down and lost interest in putting it back together. I don’t remember what I wrote in my tree-nooks. But I do remember feeling that pushing up higher through scratchy branches would make my writing more dramatic somehow.
I will continue to keep easing my way through leaves, hunting for a rise of ground that will give me a clearer view for my writing!

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY?
I cannot think of a well-known writer I would like to be compared with! I love the classics but I realize their writing can seem old-fashioned and verbose for modern readers! I’ll just say I want to write clearly, spontaneously, and with just a touch of poetry that will inspire!

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED?
I heard about Waldorf Publishing, a relatively new publishing house, through a friend. I contacted them directly, not through an agent.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM?
Tap into your inner voice. Write spontaneously without thinking about the effect of your words on an audience. Don’t try to be reasonable or logical. Just write a stream of consciousness about the idea/event/story you have in mind. Put it aside. When you come back, perhaps after a day, you will find the gems. There will be some nonsense, but stay with the gems and build outwards from those, making sure you stick with that authentic voice, which is YOUR voice, not the one you are supposed to have, or that your audience might demand. Don’t be afraid to throw out what you know is unnecessary. Don’t get attached to what you write. Be merciless and objective when you are editing.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK?
No. I am not a good marketer! This is the most difficult part for me. I would say that if you can afford it, find someone to market your book for you. Of course, there is always the social media – Facebook, Linked-in, Instagram, etc. These help a little. You should also make an Amazon Author page, and create your own website.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Winning the Eloquent Quill Award from Children’s Literary Classics for Lucy in her Secret Wood is a thrill! They have also given me a Gold Award. Several months ago, Readers Favorite gave me their Silver Award. All of these are a wonderful pat on the back. My first publication award was from The International Society of Poetry back in 2004 for my first poetry collection. That gave me the taste and the drive to keep writing.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS?
I would like my children’s writing to creep into the minds and hearts of children, and encourage them to look at their surroundings with wonder and excitement. I would very much like the Lucy Series – Lucy in her Secret Wood (Book 1), and The Woodland Adventures of Lucy and Will (Book 2) to become best-sellers and to be made into movies. (Book 2 will be published in 2018).

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING:
I was a terrible student in England from ages 11 to 16 (when I left school). I was always in the clouds, in my dream world, and I never studied until the last minute before an exam. Then I stayed up all night. The result was I was so tired when the exam came, that I had forgotten everything. I could not wait to leave school, and I began working in London when I was sixteen. Given how much I detested school and teachers, it is incredible to me, that I ended up getting a Ph.D in Literature and becoming a professor myself!

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?
For young readers: Remember that watching television, or a movie, or playing a video game, doesn’t require much imagination. The “pictures” are already given to you, so you don’t have to create them yourselves as you do when you read about characters and situations in books. Reading will keep your minds and imaginations lively and interesting, and books are the best friends you will ever have.

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Poetry:
Published in 2006 by Watermark Press
Published in 2013 by Summerland Publishing 
Children’s Books:
Published in 2007 by Summerland Publishing

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS?
Lucy Series Book 2 - The Woodland Adventures of Lucy and Will is already written and illustrated. It will be published by Waldorf Publishing in 2018.
Lucy Series Book 2 – The Woodland Adventures of Lucy and Will starts off a few seconds after Book 1 ends. Will, Lucy’s best friend, and kindred spirit, will join in her adventures, and I hope this will encourage more boy-readers to pick up the book. One nail-biting situation follows another, which makes this second book a page-turner. Now they are slightly older, Lucy and Will’s incredible friendship begins to become a little more like a childhood romance.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Author Spotlight - Author Gregory A. Fournier on his award winning book



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? When I was swept away to Shangrila--the Valley of the Blue Moon--in James Hilton's Lost Horizon. I was thirteen. 
WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
Many an author who was able to transport me from here to there. People who make magic with words impress me.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? There was a vacuum when it came to a non-fiction retelling of the State of Michigan verses John Norman Collins. The Washtenaw County court purged the trial transcripts from their records since the murders of seven young women in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, Michigan fifty years ago. My initial goal was to pay a long overdue debt to history.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? 
"What (Michigan) state police detective Sergeant Ronald Schoonmaker told the Fleszar family turned out to be more accurate: "If we don't catch this person within thirty days, he will kill again with increasing frequency within the next year or so." Sadly, his prediction would come to pass.
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I would say Eastern Michigan University patrolman Larry Mathewson. Larry and I knew John Collins. Before Larry became a campus cop, he was in a fraternity that competed against Collins, and I lived one block up the street from Collins. We were EMU contemporaries and acquaintanced with Collins.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? Young people should be aware of their surroundings and trust their instincts. If something doesn't seem right about a person, don't ignore that inner voice.
TELL US SOMETHING RANDOM ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Having standing-room-only book talks. It doesn't happen every time, but when it does, it is very gratifying.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Zorba, the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis. It is a profound treatise on humanity and life--the whole catastrophy.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? After being told my story about an unknown Michigan serial killer was regional with little commercial potential, I decided to self-publish. I built a nation-wide audience through my blog and took my book to number four on Amazon's Biography/Memoir/Regional category and became my publisher's top seller in under four months.
IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? 
When the muse comes looking for you, she better find you working. There is no substitute for commitment and perservence.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Create a blog, post regularly about your topic, and route your posts through social media to build or find your audience.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? Winning writing awards for each of my books. 
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I was walking around with this story for over forty years before I was able to have the time and resources to bring it to life.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? You can make a small fortune self-publishing if you start with a large fortune. There are easier ways to chase a dollar than writing. You must love what you do and be willing to open yourself to criticism--no matter how painful it is.
WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? My first book is entitled Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel (2011). More information can be found on my Amazon author page.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

2017 Literary Classics Book Awards Presentation Video



LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & ReviewsInternational Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approvalhttp://www.clcawards.org

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Author Spotlight - Dorothea Jensen on her award winning book, A Buss from Lafayette



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I grew up in a large family in which word play was valued, and I learned early how to make people laugh. Eventually I developed the capacity to do this on the page, and I was off and running. I also was a voracious reader (mostly in my closet, because our house was always filled with noise and confusion). I especially loved historical fiction, and wanted to write such stories of my own.
WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING - PLEASE ELABORATE: Yes, my high school English teacher, Mrs. Ward. To this day, I hear her voice in my head when I write. She also nominated me for a national award program by the National Council of Teachers of English, and I was one of the winners - the first ever from my very small high school. (I can still picture her RUNNING down the hall to tell me I won. In those days, middle-aged ladies did NOT run, so I knew right away something extraordinary had happened.)
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? Twenty years ago, on a Jane Austen tour in the U.K., I met an elderly woman whose great-grandmother had been kissed as a child by Lafayette on his 1824-5 Farewell Tour. That kiss had come down in her family to her, and, of course, I immediately asked her to kiss me, so I can now say I've been kissed by someone who was kissed by someone who was kissed by someone who had been kissed by Lafayette. That piqued my interest in what Lafayette did for us in the American Revolution, and in his Farewell Tour, which brought him - I later realized - right by the house where I live in a small town in New Hampshire. I also had come across a family situation in my own family tree, in the early 1800s, in which a widower married his late wife's sister. I thought that might have been difficult for his children to understand or accept. I put these elements together and the result was A Buss from Lafayette.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY?
I reached up, took the rose out of my hair, and gave it to her. “I would like to call her Rose. Caroline Rose. Would that be all right, Mother?” This line brings together all the elements of the story - Lafayette (who gave her the rose, among other things), Clara's love for her late mother (Caroline), and her new understanding and love for her stepmother, Priscilla, whom here she calls "Mother" for the first time ever. (I ALWAYS cry when I read this line!)
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? Clara, of course, or at least I was like her when I was her age. She loves to make puns, she loves to learn, and she is somewhat tormented by her older brother. In addition, she is a rather late "bloomer," and feels awkward in social situations with her peers. My mother, like Clara's stepmother, also insisted I went to dances. I usually felt like a wallflower and mostly sat outside the gym in the hallway chatting with Officer Monk, the policeman there to 'keep order', or whatever.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD- WINNING BOOK? Sometimes things are quite different from what they appear to be on the surface.
TELL US SOMETHING FUNNY ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Visiting a classroom in which the kids could see my author photo taken many years before when my first historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm was published. One student looked at that photo and said in obvious surprise, "You used to be pretty, Mrs. Jensen!" I replied, "Thank you. . .I think."
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? Elizabeth George Speare, who wrote The Witch of Blackbird Pond.
WHAT PERSON HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Obviously, meeting and marrying my husband, David, with whom I recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. Not only has he challenged my brain and appreciated my humor, but he has always given me the space to pursue writing.
HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED? I heard there was a small publisher near my house, so I walked three blocks down the street where I lived, gathered my courage, and gave them a manuscript of my story. It was not the pristine version I was saving to send to NYC, but one with coffee stains etc. It turned out that this place was a"packager" for a major publisher, and ended up publishing three books that I co-wrote with a friend. After that I started writing by myself.
IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Just do it.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Be yourself online in as many places as possible.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY HONOR? A rave review/A+ book report of my first historical novel for kids, The Riddle of Penncroft Farm, written by my oldest grandson, Stuart, aged 10.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I hope to sometime get the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for my historical fiction. (I read all her books in the early 50s, and finished the last one when I was in 3rd grade. My teacher told my mother I had cried all day because there were no more of her stories to read.) I also recently discovered that Laura and I share a 17th century ancestor (along with millions of other people), which, needless to say, delighted me!
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: For a number of years, I performed with amateur and professional theater/opera companies. As a contralto/mezzo, I almost always lose the hero to the soprano.
WHAT (IF ANY) OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? (All can be found on my Amazon Author Page:  amazon.com/author/dorotheajensen 
The Riddle of Penncroft Farm
Tizzy, the Christmas Shelf Elf
Blizzy, he Worrywart Elf
Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf
Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf
The Catherine Moorhouse Regency Trilogy (co-authored under the pen name Catherine Moorhouse): Adriana, Louisa, Dorothea
A Buss from Lafayette Teacher's Guide (coming out soon from BQB Publlshing)
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? Yes, three...
HISTORICAL FICTION: A Scalp on the Moon
In 1675, a teenaged boy who has trained his entire life for a career as an actor in Restoration London finds himself accidentally transported to Massachusetts Colony, where he knows the Puritans consider the theater to be a terrible evil. It is a time of great unrest and fear, as the Wampanoag and other Native American tribes are realizing that the English settlers are an unsettling, permanent, and growing presence in their midst. For their part, some of the superstitious colonists insist they keep seeing a scalp on the moon, a portent that something terrible is about to happen. With the outbreak of King Philip’s War this portent proves all too accurate.
HISTORICAL NON-FICTION:
The American Revolutions: By a Partial, Prejudiced, and Ignorant Historian
I wrote this short non-fiction work long ago and am polishing it for publication. In it, I tell the story of the American Revolutions (yes, the plural is deliberate) As I say in the preface: “In a way, then, it can be said that there were two American Revolutions. The first was the process by which a great number of Americans “turned away” (the literal meaning of revolution, as in “revolve" ) from the mother country, Great Britain, and came around to the idea that America should be an independent nation. The second was the Revolutionary War, that combination of bravery, bloodshed,and blundering which made independence a reality. “
ILLUSTRATED MODERN CHRISTMAS STORY IN VERSE:
Bizzy, the Know-It-All Elf, Santa’s Izzy Elves #5
In this fifth installment of Santa’s Izzy Elves series, the Izzy Elves and Santa Claus decide to go on vacation. Bizzy, the self-proclaimed internet whiz, finds a place for them all to visit where they can blend in nicely with the rest of the crowd. Or so he thinks!

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Friday, August 18, 2017

Once You Know This, by Emily Blejwas, earns the Literary Classics Seal of Approval




Life doesn't hold much hope for Brittany, a disillusioned eleven-year-old who's seen her share of hardship. Her mother, who is stuck in an abusive relationship, can barely manage to feed Brittany and her baby brother. Even though Brittany's teacher, Mr. Mcinnis, encourages all his students to envision a bright future for themselves, Brittany knows better. She's pretty sure she and her classmates are all destined to continue on the same path of disappointment they've always known. But when she begins to focus on a plan, her goals propel her toward seeking a better life. And Brittany soon finds an inner strength she never knew she had.

Author Emily Blejwas' debut novel, Once You Know This, is an inspiring book for young readers with a powerful tale of courage, and determination. Insightfully penned, Blejwas offers a message of hope that is sure to resonate with young audiences. Recommended for home and school libraries, Once You Know This, has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval.


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Author Spotlight, Gary Schwartz on his award winning book, The King of Average



WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? The easy answer is reading great books. It’s the same impulse that drew me to acting. I saw a fantastic performance and said “I want to do that…”
WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING?
 My 12th grade English teacher, Stephen Tessler, introduced me to James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I wrote an essay in Joyce’s style of stream of consciousness and he laughed at my audacity, but gave me an “A” after reading it. I also worked with Canadian children’s author Susan Hughes who mentored me with my first manuscript and helped me hone my style.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? 
True story. I came from a violent and chaotic family burdened with mental illness. My mother often wished I was never born and called me worthless. I suffered poor self-esteem. When I was eleven, I rebelled against that idea and had a conversation with myself on the way to school one day. “I’m not so bad.” I told myself. “Okay, I’m not very good, that’s true… but I’m not as bad as my mom thinks. ‘Right!’ I said. “I’m average!” That made me feel better. Then I thought, ‘what if could be more average than anyone else in the world? - Then I’d be SPECIAL!’ That paradox made me laugh. I was reading The Phantom Tollbooth at the time and thought of my story in those terms and came up with characters like Mayor Culpa, the scapegoat and Kiljoy, the professional pessimist. It would be 52 years later before I actually wrote it out.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK AND WHY? Spoken by Monsieur Roget, the professional optimist. “…when he sees a glass of water filled halfway, a traditional optimist sees it as only ’alf full. But a professional optimist is also happy to see fresh, clear water to drink or wash with or to water plants and make things grow. Like food for instance! ’Alf-full or ’alf-empty? For amateurs!”
WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I am the hero, James. His journey was my journey to be sure. The thought of being the MOST average propels him into the fantasy world called The Realm of Possibilities. There he explores the emotional landscape of Average, Above Average, Lake Inferior, Hearsay, Epiphany and Serenity, to name a few of the places he visits.
WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD-WINNING BOOK? I truly hope that kids who feel ‘less than’ get the message that imagination and perseverance and empathy for others are the key to escaping a poor self-image. There is salvation in helping others. In doing so, you save yourself.
TELL US SOMETHINGINTERESTING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: 
I was disappointed in the stage version of Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth and wanted to write a new version for the stage. I contacted his representatives to ask permission to adapt his book for the stage. One morning, I got a call from NORTON JUSTER! We spoke for a long time but the upshot was his agent advised against a second stage version. It was like Lewis Carrol calling you up to say ‘hi!’
IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? If you thought I’d say Norton Juster, you’d be wrong. I’d like to be compared to Roald Dahl. I want to be that prolific, imaginative and enduring. A big goal.
WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? 
The Phantom Tollbooth, the thought of being the most exceptionally average person saved me from a very different life, I think.
HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? 
Once I finished the manuscript I sent to over sixty agents and publishers. I got picked up by Booktrope (Seattle), now defunct. I am currently seeking representation.
IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? 
Stop talking about it and just do it! I waited over fifty years.
CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? Send it to everyone you can think of. Get reviewed and don’t give up. Keep talking about your book and have some ready to give away. Read how others promote, but don’t let others do the work for you. You are your best promoter.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? 
This debut novel has gotten such a great reaction by being chosen as a Best of 2016 by Kirkus and IndieReader and the two gold medals from Children’s Literary Classics gives me hope, I have a future as a writer.
WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I want my book to enter the pantheon of Children’s classics alongside of The Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, Narnia and Alice in Wonderland. I would love my book to be a positive influence on children and adults who need this message for generations.
TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I am the voice of Heavy Weapon’s Guy and the Demoman from the hit video game Team Fortress 2. I was also a children’s television actor in the 1980s as Bravo Fox on Zoobilee Zoo.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? 
In the words of Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I am working on a
Carl Hiaasen-like adventure story for kids called The Benji Loper Caper about a boy who hires a limo to take his school crush on a date in Hollywood. He gets mixed up with a movie producer, a limo driver who is an aspiring actor and screenwriter and an international jewel theft ring on the date. It’s “Get Shorty for kids.” I am also working on the sequel to The King of Average.
I hope to attract an agent and publisher for my next book, based on the reception of my first one. I want to have it ready for publication by 2018.
LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval http://www.clcawards.org