10 Questions: Author S M (Sandy) Spencer

Today I’m pleased to welcome author Sandy Spencer (pen name S M Spencer). Sandy lives in beautiful Australia with, as she describes, her “husband, horses, cats and dogs–not to mention the kangaroos that share the paddocks with the horses from time to time.” Sandy has written a variety of genres, including a young adult vampire/ghost trilogy as well as romance novels for adults and young adults that take place in Australia.

Linda Covella: Sandy, thank you for joining us today! When and why did you decide to become a writer?

Sandy Spencer: I wanted to be an author from in my teens, when I was reading books by inspiration authors such as Daphne du Maurier, Mary Stewart and Ray Bradbury. My first attempt at college was as an English major, however I soon realized that I’d need to earn money to live on so I changed to Business Administration and became an accountant. Hence, the late start at actually publishing anything!

LC: Having to make money always gets in the way, doesn’t it? 🙂

What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?

SS: I have a separate study where I write—it gets the sun most of the day and has a lovely outlook over our paddocks. I don’t stress about when I write, I just write when the muse calls me.

LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?

SS: I always wanted to live on a property and have horses and other pets. So, most of my romance books have that as an underlying desire for the main character. However how they get there, and indeed, if they do get there, all comes from my imagination!

LC: The characters’ desire for pets sounds like a fun aspect to your stories!

Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?

SS: I love all my main characters … they are like my children, and it’s hard to have a favourite. However I particularly enjoyed my small-town cop, Rob Andersen, who was the hero in my latest book, Murder at the Creek. It was fun writing the main story from the male’s perspective. My books are written in multiple points of view, but they are usually driven from the female’s perspective primarily, whereas this one was more from the male’s point of view.

LC: That must have been an interesting challenge writing from the male perspective.

Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?

SS: More than likely—friends who have read them tell me they see me in the female characters 🙂

LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.

SS: My first series, Absent Shadows, was primarily plot driven. It’s a YA vampire and ghost story done as a trilogy. With my romance series, Copperhead Creek Australian Romances, I try to make them character driven, with interesting plots that move the characters along. My latest book, the murder mystery, is probably more plot driven, as it’s a chase to find the killer.

LC: Did you read much as a child?

SS: Absolutely. Winnie the Pooh, Nancy Drew and EVERY BOOK EVER WRITTEN ABOUT A HORSE OR PONY, were some of my earliest favourites.

LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?

SS: I believe it is critical. And not just the genre you write in. I read a wide range of books, from fantasy to thrillers, and everything in between (although I don’t tend to read much non-fiction these days and I stay away from books with lots of violence). I learn about technique from reading other authors—both things I want to do, and things I don’t want to do or want to stop myself from doing.

LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?

SS: I have so many favourites: Jodi Picoult, J K Rowling, Paula Hawkins, Jane Harper, Ray Bradbury, Daphne du Maurier – they are some of my favourites but there are so many more as well. What I love about a book can vary depending on my mood. Sometimes, it’s fast pace. Other times it’s imagery. And other times it’s a mystery that needs to be solved. Aren’t we lucky to be so spoiled for choice?

LC: Yes, there are so many great books to read!

Do you have anything new in the works?

SS: Yes, I’ve just started working on a new series, set in the gold country of California. I live in Australia now, but I was born in San Francisco, and take many trips to California—it’s always in my heart and will now be the key in my newest series.

LC: As a Californian living in the Bay Area, I have to agree 🙂 I’ll look forward to your latest series!

Bonus question! Do you have anything you’d like to add?

SS: My romance books are Clean Romance, with a touch of spice. The characters are adults, and there are adult situations, but very limited foul language, and sex takes place behind closed doors. 🙂  From time to time I feature the books in my Copperhead Creek Australian Romance series books at special prices—some will be free for short periods, some will be $.99 for a time. You won’t miss a special if you follow my blog at   https://smspencer.online/books/

In fact, book 1,, is currently just $.99 US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018JNTALO

 All books can be read as stand-alone because each has a new couple as the love interest, however at the books are set in a small town, lives do tend to overlap and tangle.

Or you can follow me on Amazon –  https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B00PGE0G9U

LC:  Thank you, Sandy! Readers, thank you for stopping by. Feel free to comment or ask a question here for Sandy. I’m sure she’d love to hear from you! Until the next “10 Questions” interview, happy reading!

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10 Questions: Author Julie Gilbert

I’m very happy to welcome Julie Gilbert to my  inaugural launch of “10 Questions” author interviews, which will post every Wednesday (possibly more often). Julie writes in a wide range of genres, including Children’s and Young Adult, science fiction, fantasy, poetry, mystery and science fiction.

Linda Covella: Julie, when and why did you decide to become a writer?

Julie Gilbert: High school English class frustrated me because they wanted everything to have meaning, but I just loved stories. One day, the summer after high school, I sat down and decided to write a story. Since it was a fun experience, I decided to write another … and another. Eventually, I fumbled my way around the publishing process, settling on a self-publishing company. A few years later, Amazon’s program made it very easy to self-publish. Draft-to-digital joined the game a few years after that. I’ve been using both platforms.

LC: What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?

JG: My writing process varies with the time of year. During the 10 months school is in session, I try to write from 7 pm to 11 pm. Typically, I can accomplish 1 full chapter of about 2K words in that time. The last book I wrote had weirdly sized chapters though, so the pattern didn’t stick very well. In the summer, I try to write 2-3 times in a day. I’m working through a screenplay adaptation, so I’ve been fitting that in many smaller chunks because it’s a different kind of work than normal writing.

I’m a full-time teacher, part-time writer, though a few years ago I started doing it all year round. Before, I’d only done proofreading during the school year, not actually participated in the creation of new stories.

My stories start as a few random paragraphs describing the general gist of the story. The last one began something like: this is a story about a school shooting. I then started listing character names and wrote little profiles for who they are and what they’re like. Next, I wrote an extensive timeline that followed the events of the story as it should unfold. Finally, I started writing. The outline changed as I added details or veered away from certain plot points. That’s typically how it happens anyway, so I’m not disturbed by the fact that the outlines tend to be fluid.

LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?

JG: Inspiration comes from multiple sources. Many of my stories have specific themes. Beyond Broken Pencils, the new one, is about a school shooting. Several revolve around kidnapping. Other themes that have cropped up are cancer, human trafficking, siblings, family, duty, honor, duty vs honor, and using one’s gifts to the fullest.

LC: You write about difficult topics, and important themes!

Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?

JG: That’s a tossup between Jillian Blairington and Victoria Saveron. Truth be told, I love nearly all my characters to pieces. A few of the bad guys might not fall into that category, but I’d love to meet 90% of the characters. If forced to choose, I’d say Jillian is a favorite because she was one of the first characters who truly had a voice. That very clear voice shaped the first series of short stories about her and then led to the longer saga unfolding in the Devya’s Children series.

Jillian Marie Antel Blairington has the Gift of Dream Shaping. This leads to all sorts of issues, like her being kidnapped by the scientists who created her, so they can train her. She’s got a very well-defined sense of right and wrong and no fear of standing for what she deems right. At first, she doesn’t really understand the relevance of her Gifts, but she dutifully trains to protect her babysitter, Danielle, who later becomes more of a friend. Jillian’s wired with a very strong protective streak. There are little bits of practical wisdom she’s clung to for years, thanks to her Nana. Life hasn’t necessarily been kind to her, but she’s not the sort to complain about it. Jillian would much rather face the problem directly than run, but she will run and hide if doing so will better protect those under her care, which is practically everyone she’s ever met. She also has a charming Southern accent.

LC: Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?

JG: Probably. You don’t really see a character’s true personality shine until bad things are happening all over the place. Thankfully, I lead a much more mundane life (so far!), but yes, I do believe most of my characters share some of my beliefs and passions. I dislike confrontation and would much rather be inconvenienced than cause issues. While my characters tend not to seek out trouble, they won’t shrink from it either. They’ve also each got this dangerous self-sacrificial mode that kicks in when their friends and families fall under threat. I think there’s a certain quiet stubbornness in them that’s also in me. They’re flawed but they work really hard to uncover and cultivate the innate gifts given to them.

LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.

JG: Ha, that’s a really tough question, and I’m probably going to give you one of those “it’s a bit of both” answers. It’s a chicken and egg question. Plot and characters are inextricably linked. Let’s take Redeemer Chronicles as an example. Victoria (Vic) Saveron is the Chosen Redeemer. At the beginning of Awakening rumors are flying that she can save the world. She’s highly skeptical about it and isn’t afraid to say so. The notion that she’s been Chosen attracts lots of bad guys who draw her into a trap. In other words, something about her character drives others to act. Much of the plot is driven by people reacting to who Vic is and what she can do. On the flip side, Vic doesn’t truly embrace her gifts until well into the story after several key plot points have shaped her.

In all fairness, since you asked and you’re probably hoping I choose and defend one side, I guess I’d say characters. As I said, there’s a push-pull effect in stories as in real life. Events can help shape a person, but there’s also quite a bit already built into us. We choose how to react and that in turn changes the ways others perceive us. Their perceptions in turn affect their actions. Same holds true for story characters.

LC: Did you read much as a child?

JG: Believe it or not, I grew up in a time before ebooks, but yes, I read a lot. My mom used to read to me quite a bit. Poor lady. I think I made her read the same three stories over and over again. The library was a regular trip when I grew old enough to read on my own. Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, ND/HB Supermysteries, Star Wars expanded universe books, and historical fiction stories formed the backbone of my reading fare.

LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?

JG: I’m assuming you mean reading other people’s works. Pretty sure most fiction writers grew up loving fiction. I actually don’t read a lot of other people’s works anymore. However, I do still listen to a lot of audiobooks. Listening can be done at times when I’m walking or ironing or whatever. So, it comes down to this: I think stories are vitally important for writers. All stories, movies, video games, choose your own adventures, audiobooks, ebooks, paperbacks, hardcovers. The trappings matter less than the essence of the story. If you want to get good at crafting tales, you need to understand what works and doesn’t work for you. If a movie bores you, why does it bore you? If a game enthralls you for hours, why? What do you find compelling in each piece? Every medium has its ticks, but the key elements, character and plot, still drive the story forward.

LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?

JG: I guess the answer depends on which genre we’re talking about. Brandon Sanderson’s amazing at world-building. C.S. Lewis has charming, lighter fantasy tales. The collective writers who became Franklin W. Dixon and Caroline Keene held large parts of my childhood in their hands. They used a formula of course, but it worked. I still love The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as I knew them growing up. No matter how complicated or simple the plot, for me, character has always been important. There’s something attractive and charming about the good vs. evil fight, whether that manifests as the characters engaging in an all-out war to save the land or sacrificing their own safety just to find the answers to a mystery.

LC: Anything new in the works?

JG: This summer is an interesting blend of old and new. I just finished a short novel about a school shooting. That was a completely new genre for me. Some of the summer will be spent proofreading that project. The other new thing I’m working on is a script to novel adaptation. I can’t say much about that project, but it’s an interesting process I’d never tried before. That’s the old, now for the new. Kindle Worlds was an Amazon program that let writers craft stories within other people’s worlds. Amazon recently shut the program down, so I’m going to be rewriting every story I put out in Kindle Worlds and republishing it in the Fall and early next year. Also, I’d like to fix up some older projects, including a science fiction trilogy that I started way back when I first got into writing.

LC: You do have lots in the works! We look forward to seeing them. So, a bonus question 🙂 Do you have anything you’d like to add?

JG: I write in quite a few different areas. Check out my Amazon page (see link below) to see the options and grab the freebies. Hopefully soon, I’ll have some more traditional science fiction to add to the list. Thanks for having me. It’s been fun. I enjoy getting to know people better. Join my mailing list for exclusive giveaways, previews, updates, and more.

LC: Julie, thanks so much for sharing your writing with us! Readers, you can connect with Julie at the links below.

Author Bio:

Julie C. Gilbert is a writer and a chemistry teacher. She enjoys listening to audiobooks, taking nice walks, drinking tea, and building Legos.

Contact Links:

Email: devyaschildren@gmail.com

Website: http://www.juliecgilbert.com/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/l/B002BMB2LG/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JulieCGilbert2013

Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorgilbert

Newsletter: https://www.subscribepage.com/n7e8l8 (Get monthly updates and some free books.)

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My Passion for Writing and Cooking


I’ve always loved to write. I remember my “what I did for summer vacation” assignment in 3rd grade that turned into a multi-page story with illustrations. And from there, I continued to write in journals, take creative writing classes, and make up stories. Although I didn’t pursue writing as a profession until later in life, as you can see from my website, I finally funneled all that passion into published novels.

My other passion? Cooking!

Cooking, for me, is another way to be creative. I love to discover new recipes, make my tried-and-true dishes and, the most creative and fun of all, see what I can conjure from what I happen to have on hand in the cupboard and fridge, a la Chopped. And here I have to admit that I watch Food Network while I’m cooking. This has to be my favorite time of day.

I also subscribe to several cooking magazines. Every month I find a comfy place to relax, maybe in the summer on the deck with a glass of wine or in the winter inside with a cup of tea, and examine and imagine each recipe. The ones that excite me will end up either on the counter to try in the immediate future or directly into my recipe binder. I have quite a collection by now, and many of them have become some of my tried-and-true dishes.

I’ve been laid up the past couple of weeks from a foot operation (nothing serious, thank goodness), but it’s definitely kept me out of the kitchen.

I’m restless and anxious to get back to it. My husband’s been super about cooking and cleaning—oh, and serving me!

But I’m feeling a little better, so I thought tonight I’d surprise him with dinner. Something quick. Something simple. But something delicious. And from ingredients on hand, a Chopped moment.

What I came up with is also one of my favorites. And though hubby likes his meat, he also loves this dish: Pasta Pomodoro.

If I don’t have summer tomatoes yet, I use cherry tomatoes. I think for winter tomatoes, they have a lot more flavor. (Another trick with any winter tomato is to cut them in half, arrange cut side up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder, and roast in a 325 degree oven until browned. You’ll be amazed at the rich tomato flavor. Make a big batch and store packets in the freezer for later use.)

For the Pomodoro, quantities for each ingredient aren’t critical; add according to your taste. First sauté a couple cloves of minced garlic in olive oil just until softened. (The garlic can become bitter if overcooked.) Then add the tomatoes (either fresh chopped or the roasted ones) and more olive oil if necessary. Simmer those until they form a saucy consistency. To kick it up, I add a couple of chopped Calabrian chilies, which are hot but have a wonderful smoky flavor.

Next, stir in some of your reserved pasta water, which adds body. Simmer to reduce slightly and incorporate with the tomatoes. Finally, add a handful of chopped fresh basil. Add cooked angel hair pasta or linguine to the pan, toss, add salt and pepper to taste and serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan.

This makes a great meal when served with a simple green salad of mixed greens and herbs such as basil, mint and parsley tossed with vinaigrette.

Enjoy! And now, I have to get back to Iron Chef America…

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The Nameless Soldier by Annie Douglass Lima

The Nameless Soldier is book 4 in the Annals of Alasia young adult fantasy series. Haven’t read all (or any) of the others? That’s okay! The books can be read in any order, and each one can stand on its own.


What do you do when you’re the only survivor?

Nineteen-year-old Tarvic bears the name of a mighty hero from Alasia’s past. However, the young soldier feels anything but heroic when he regains consciousness to find himself the lone survivor of a brutal attack by invaders from the neighboring kingdom. 

Forced to leave his identity behind, Tarvic is thrust into civilian life in the role of protector to three war orphans. When the four of them encounter a mysterious stranger, he must choose between keeping the young girls safe and taking on a mission that could help free his kingdom. Can Tarvic live up to his noble name and find a way to balance his duty and his dreams?

Where to Get a Copy:

Click here to buy the ebook or paperback from Amazon. (The ebook is $2.99 just $0.99 through June 6th!)

Not sure if you’ll like the story or not? Take a look at the first chapter and see!

The Nameless Soldier
Chapter One


Tarvic woke to the sound of a distant yell, abruptly silenced. He pushed his blankets aside and sat up, puzzled, but heard only the light patter of rain on the canvas. “What was that?”
Drevel, his roommate in the barracks and tentmate out on campaigns like this, stirred and rolled over. “What?”
“I heard something. Someone shouting.”
“It’s probably just another drill.” But Drevel sat up too, shoving his own blankets away, as Tarvic crawled over and untied the tent flap.
A blast of wintry air and raindrops greeted him as he leaned out, peering across the tent-studded hillside. Clouds hid the moon and stars, and on every side the thick dark of the forest leaned in from the edges of the large clearing. But the telltale flickering light of distant torches sent shadows leaping over tents and across the open spaces between them. Why would someone be using torches out here? Any soldier in camp had easy access to lanterns among the supplies.
Something was wrong. Very wrong. Tarvic pulled back into the tent and yanked on his breeches and jacket.
They both heard the next yell, closer this time, and then the unmistakable clash of swords. Both men snatched up their own swords, jamming their feet into their boots and fumbling for shields. From all around them, shouts of alarm erupted as men in their company woke up.
And then the enemy was upon them. Horses exploded through the camp, trampling tents and the soldiers just crawling out of them. Riders leaned low off their mounts’ backs, swinging swords and waving torches.
Halfway out of his tent, Tarvic threw himself flat on his face to avoid a slash that would probably have decapitated him. He scrambled to his feet, only to be knocked off them again by a blow that he barely caught on his shield.
Light, shadows, horses, blades, rain. Chaos raged through the clearing to the sound of crashing metal, pounding hooves, shouts of challenge and desperation. Tarvic regained his feet and fought as best he could from the ground while enemy riders thundered around him. Dodging and ducking, he aimed for the men’s legs and tried to keep out from under their horses’ hooves. With no idea who he was fighting or why, his only goal to stay alive for the next heartbeat, he dodged and darted through the tumult looking for spots where horses and enemy swords weren’t. All around him, men fought and ran and crumpled to lie as limply as the trampled tents.
Slipping and stumbling in the mud, Tarvic felt a surge of satisfaction as his sword met flesh and an enemy yelled in pain. And then the man wheeled his horse and charged back toward him, and Tarvic turned to flee.
He tripped on something soft that groaned. Pain shot through Tarvic’s wrist as he caught his fall, and only a quick roll saved him from being trampled as the man’s horse cantered over him.
Its rider wheeled again, and Tarvic rose to his knees, barely raising his shield in time to protect his face. The force of the blow threw him backward, jarring his already sore wrist.
Another horse leaped over him, and Tarvic cried out in pain as a hoof struck him on the shoulder. He stumbled to his feet, ducking low to present as small a target as possible, and ran through the melee.
He saw fewer people on foot now, more obstacles in the mud. Was it cowardly to flee from a battle you couldn’t win? Nothing in Tarvic’s eight months in the military had prepared him for this. Not counting occasional minor border skirmishes, the kingdom of Alasia hadn’t seen an actual war in six generations. Besides routine patrols, city peacekeeping, and the frequent drills and training, the military’s primary duties involved escorting merchant wagons through robber-frequented stretches of rural highway and keeping an eye on the sections of coastline where seafaring raiders were known to attack. Tarvic had never fought in a battle that involved more than a handful of opponents at a time, and none of those opponents had been anywhere near this organized — or this deadly.
If we escape, we can regroup somewhere safer and — A hard blow to the back knocked him to the ground again as another horse pounded over him. Giving up all pretense of courage, Tarvic scrambled to his feet once more and fled for the edge of the clearing and the relative safety of the trees beyond. I can’t do anything here. They’re going to slaughter us all!
He was practically there when another rider appeared in front of him, leaning low with sword outstretched. Tarvic almost impaled himself on the blade, raising his shield just in time. He fought back frantically as the man slashed, swinging his weapon again and again. I need my horse! Military training had included nothing about how to fight a mounted enemy from the ground. But Lightning was tethered in the row of makeshift stalls on the far side of the camp, probably prancing restlessly under his blanket and wondering why his rider didn’t come to spur him into battle.
Tarvic didn’t even see the blow that almost killed him. His ears barely registered the thudding of more galloping hooves from behind, nearly drowned out by the rain and the sounds of battle. But the world exploded in light and pain as something struck the back of his head harder than anything had ever hit him before.
He lurched forward, feeling his sword drop from limp fingers. Managing two steps before his legs buckled, he was just conscious enough to recognize the urgent need to crawl. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Or they’ll kill you out here. That was the only thought left in his mind as he pulled himself toward the concealing shadows behind the line of tree trunks. And then even that faded, giving way to darkness.

Want to know what happens to Tarvic? Click here to purchase the book and find out!

About the Author:

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published seventeen books (four YA action and adventure novels, five fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

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Good News Blog Fest: A Reward for Kindness #WATWB

It’s time for another We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, started by Damyanti Biswas. In light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti Biswas asked bloggers to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

A simple, but heartfelt act of kindness brought a reward for this 18-year-old waitress, Evoni Williams. She noticed one of her customers couldn’t use his hands well, so she offered to cut up his meat. Evoni had always dreamed of going to college, but could not afford the tuition, books and other expenses. Well, her act of kindness was noticed by others, and Texas Southern University presented her with a $16,000 scholarship. Read the entire story here.

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Damyanti Biswas, Belinda WitzenhausenEric LahtiSylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein, Shilpa Garg

And you’re welcome to join the blogfest and “speak for peace.” Blogs are posted the last day of each month. Visit Damyanti’s website for details.

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Fictional Character ~ Theme #AtoZ

A great post for both readers and writers. What’s most important to you: character, plot, or setting?

Silvia Writes

Character is everything

We build character in kids from a young age, because real-life character is everything.

What about fiction?

The way I see it, fiction contains three elements that divide into many other, but three main components:

1.   Character

2.   Plot

3.   Setting

In my book — literal and figurative —  character is number one.

Sure, there are great plot-driven novels with little character development. Their success isn’t due to lack of character growth but excellent plot that is engrossing from the jump. The Maze Runner, a YA dystopian, is an example. Very plot-driven.

But back to my number one: character-driven fiction.

It’s advertised as a literary-fiction element. But, oh, how I disagree. Character-driven writing works superbly for genre fiction. Take Gone Girl, for one. Relationship drives the plot, sure, but the gradual revelation of characters, that’s what makes the story.

My kind of gig —…

View original post 141 more words

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Good News Blog Fest: Trust for Public Land

I missed Friday’s post for the We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB that was started by Damyanti Biswas to share good news around the world. But here, now, is my good news!

I didn’t know about the Trust for Public Land until I saw this article in Architectural Digest.

From the Trust’s website: The Trust for Public Land works to protect the places people care about and to create close-to-home parks—particularly in and near cities, where 80 percent of Americans live. Our goal is to ensure that every child has easy access to a safe place to play in nature. We also conserve working farms, ranches, and forests; lands of historical and cultural importance; rivers, streams, coasts, and watersheds; and other special places where people can experience nature close at hand.

This park in the Bronx is just one example of what they’ve done to bring community together and offer a safe and fun place for kids and adults to play and relax.

I hope you read the (short) article and check out the Trust’s website. I love learning about new people and organizations who take the time and effort and have the passion and compassion to make our world a better place to live!


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Guest Blog: Relevant History

Thank you to Suzanne Adair for inviting me as a guest on her blog Relevant History.

Issues at the forefront of the news today—immigration and race, religion, and the treatment of women—were also important factors that, in 1775, helped shape the future of California and even the United States.

Approximately 240 colonists joined the expedition from Mexico to California.

In the blog post, I discuss these issues in the context of a colonization expedition in 1775–1776 from Mexico to California led by Juan Bautista de Anza, which is the setting for my novel Yakimali’s Gift.

You can read my blog post here. Enjoy!


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Good News Blog Fest: The Unlikely Librarian

It’s time for another We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, started by Damyanti Biswas. In light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti Biswas asked bloggers to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

As a children’s author, this article about the Rainbow Reading Gardens really resonated with me. Well, more than that, Pak Baco’s story that he tells on YouTube made me cry. I cried because learning about people like him shows me there are good people in this world. Compassionate, caring people who are willing to step up and make a difference in others’ lives. In this case, Mr. Baco offered his house to be used as the local library. And instead of taking his afternoon nap, he became the “unlikely librarian.” I also have to give a big shout out to Nila Tanzil, the founder of the Rainbow Reading Gardens, which now has 29 libraries reaching 6,000 children in remote villages across 14 islands in Indonesia.

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Belinda WitzenhausenEmerald BarnesEric LahtiInderpreet UppalLynn HallbrooksMary GieseMichelle WallacePeter NenaRoshan RadhakrishnanSimon FalkSusan ScottSylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein

And you’re welcome to join the blogfest and “speak for peace.” Blogs are posted the last day of each month for the rest of 2017. Visit Damyanti’s website for details.

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Good News Blog: Plant It Forward

“My heart had been changed. And my life was probably going to change.”

I’m very excited about the We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB, and I want to thank Damyanti Biswas for inviting me to participate.

For the blogfest, in light of all the tragic, political, warring news we typically hear from around the world, Damyanti asked us to highlight a news story that “shows love, humanity, and brotherhood.”

The blogfest will take place the last day of each month now through the end of the year.

Today I’m highlighting this article about refugees and U.S. citizens coming together to “plant it forward.”

Please visit these other blogs for more good news, and let me know of any that you may have!

Belinda Witzenhausen Lynn Hallbrooks Simon Falk Sylvia McGrath Damyanti Biswas

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