Thursday, November 30, 2017

New interview with children's author Karl Beckstrand

Here is a new interview with children’s author Karl Beckstrand. We’re chatting about his newest book, a non-fiction children’s book titled, Muffy & Valor: A TrueStory.

You can read his interview about Butterfly Blink: A Book without Words here.

Karl Beckstrand is the bestselling and award-winning author of 19 multicultural/multilingual books and more than 50 e-book titles (reviews by Kirkus, School Library Journal, The Horn Book blog, ForeWord Reviews). Raised in San Jose, CA, he has a B.A. in journalism from BYU, an M.A. in international relations from APU, and a broadcast & film certificate from Film A. Academy. Since 2004 he has run Premio Publishing. His survival western, To Swallow the Earth won a 2016 International Book Award. A college media instructor, Beckstrand has presented to Taiwan’s Global Leadership for Youth, city and state governments, festivals, and schools. Beckstrand's nationally lauded Y.A. stories, e-book mysteries, ESL/ELL Spanish/bilingual books, nonfiction, and wordless books feature ethnically diverse characters—and usually end with a twist.

His work has appeared in: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Border’s Books, Costco, Deseret Book, iBooks, The Children’s Miracle Network, LDS Film Festival, the U.S. Congressional Record, Papercrafts Magazine, and various broadcasts. FB, Twitter,,

Welcome back to Reviews and Interviews, Karl. Please tell us about your newest release, Muffy & Valor: A True Story.
Muffy is a little dog who loves people. But after a painful injury she is wary of other dogs. Valor is a lost dog who gets hit by a car. When Muffy’s family brings Valor home to recover, no one is sure what Muff will do. This tender picture book teaches compassion, friendship, trust, and courage. (28 illustrations, 700 words in dyslexic-friendly font by award-winning author Karl Beckstrand. For children 4 – 7; hard, soft cover and e-book, Hispanic characters, illustrated by Brandon Rodriguez, ISBN: 978-0985398842)

What inspired you to write this book?
Muffy was really my dog growing up. She was badly hurt by another dog and REALLY didn’t like dogs. When my brother and I came across an injured German shepherd (that had been hit by a car), we had some hard decisions to make. You can read a detailed account of what happened on my blog.

What’s the next writing project?
The second in a series on immigrant children: Ida’s Witness. My previous book, The Bridge of the Golden Wood, was selected this summer by Vermont’s Treasurer’s Office for financial literacy curriculum.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book (or the biggest challenge with this book)?
Making the book reach readers visually—I spent a lot of time with the illustrator making sure the images of Muffy and the dog we rescued conveyed the emotion of the story.

If your books require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the book is complete and you fill in the gaps?
For true stories, I research as I go. I typically find new details all the way to the end of the writing and illustrating process. It was fun to interview my family about their memories of Muffy and Valor.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I write on my laptop at my desk at home. Before that, I’m constantly writing ideas on scraps of paper—since they come to me anywhere and any at time—day or night!

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I love history, so anything by David McCoullugh is ideal. Other authors I love: Tolkien, Harper Lee, C.S. Lewis, Clancy, Grisham, Shel Silverstein

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
The e-book of Muffy & Valor is free for Kindle Unlimited users.

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Interview with writer Dale R. Duvall

Writer Dale R. Duvall joins me today and we’re talking about his self-help stress management book, Imagine Harmony: How to Evolve from Stress to Gratitude.

After experiencing multiple debilitating stress-related health problems and a quasar burnout, he "dropped out" and set upon a 30-year quest to study, understand, and conquer the devastating effects of stress on the human body, and to find peace and happiness. He studied integrative medicine, psychophysiology and mind/body communication at the cellular level, psychoneuroimmunology and epigenetics as it relates to gene expression, energy healing, EFT and NLP, Eastern and Western religious and spiritual philosophies, metaphysics, stress management, guided imagery, the quantum physics of chi, tai chi, yoga, and multiple forms of meditation and hypnosis. 

Although he is now a Certified Stress Management Consultant specializing in PTSD and Therapeutic Imagery, a Reiki Master, Certified Meditation Instructor, and holds several other titles and degrees, he refuses to clutter his name with superfluous labels and initials. He wants his words and teachings to be appreciated for their efficacy, content, and meaning, not their academic origin. He wants people to use their own natural wisdom to evaluate their world. He wants us to know that human beings can not only fly and walk around on the moon, but we can take control of our health, happiness, vitality, longevity, and lifestyle with our Conscious mind. He wants to teach us to Imagine Harmony and to understand that life is not an emergency: it is a fun adventure, experienced in the present moment with curiosity and wonder, that existence is a universal symphony of dynamic pulsating energy, and that we can create our own song.

Welcome, Dale. Please tell us about your current release.
Imagine Harmony - How to Evolve from Stress to Gratitude is about stress management and conscious control of the mind/body and gene expression.

It is an enjoyable stress management program that begins with an explanation of stress, its devastating effects, and progresses through a series of six lessons (Part I through Part VI) beginning with relaxation and culminating in conscious control of physiological and psychological responses to daily life without the risks associated with pharmaceuticals.

Skills instead of pills.

What inspired you to write this book?
Personal experience with stress and burnout.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The evolution of peace.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I became aware of the need for effective stress management.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am a Certified Stress Management Consultant specializing in PTSD and Therapeutic Imagery. My purpose in life is to promote mental and physical harmony with Gratitude, Patience, and Kindness to as many people as possible, and when that requires writing, I write. I am, however, a student and spend most of my time learning all I can about my fellow humans and how to help them survive.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am not interesting and wear only blue dress shirts and black pants. I do not want to waste brain power trying to decide what to wear every day.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
If we can only teach one thing, it would be that an attitude of Gratitude, Patience, and Kindness is the key to happiness, harmony, and the next level of evolution. Please, please use it.

All things are possible when the Soul is willing to believe we can. It might require some adaptation, but all things are possible. When we truly believe we can do a thing that others believe is impossible, we find a way to do it. Nelson Mandela said, "It always seems impossible until it's done."


Thanks for joining me today, Dale.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Interview with novelist James W. George

Novelist James W. George joins me today and we’re chatting about his new historical novel, The Prophet and the Witch.

During his virtual book tour, James will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!

James W. George is a lover of history and historical fiction. He is a graduate of Boston University and a military veteran. He is currently residing in Virginia with his wife and children.

He published his critically-acclaimed debut novel, My Father’s Kingdom in January 2017. The novel described the prelude to King Philip’s War in New England in the 1670s. The Indie View gave it five stars: “This is high historical drama handled wonderfully…a tale that will fully engage you on every level.”

My Father’s Kingdom is a planned trilogy, and book two, The Prophet and the Witch, was published in September 2017. This is an epic novel that spans the entire conflict of King Philip’s War, and includes such notable historical figures as Josiah Winslow, Increase Mather, Metacomet, Benjamin Church, and Mary Rowlandson. The Literary Titan awarded it five stars and a gold medal for October 2017.

The author is looking forward to book three of the trilogy, and he can be found on Goodreads.

Welcome, James. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The Prophet and the Witch is a brand-new release. It is book two of a planned trilogy, but the book stands well on its own even without book one. The setting is New England in the 1670s, and the book explores the obscure but fascinating conflict known as “King Philip’s War.”

We’re all familiar with the tale of the Mayflower in 1620, and the first Thanksgiving. Even the most casual student of history is fairly knowledgeable about the American Revolution in the 1770s. But what, if anything, happened in the intervening 150 years?

The sad reality is, approximately fifty years after the first Thanksgiving, relations with the Native Americans of New England deteriorated so badly that they went to war with the Puritan English colonists. The leader of the rebellion was Metacomet, known as “King Philip” to the English. He was the son of the great Massasoit, who was instrumental in helping preserve and nurture Plymouth Colony in their early years.

The novel is extremely accurate from a historical perspective. It recounts the war through the eyes of major historical figures such as Josiah Winslow, Benjamin Church, Metacomet, Mary Rowlandson, Roger Williams, and Increase Mather. Additionally, a cast of fictional characters such as Israel Brewster, Constance Wilder, and Linto bring this chapter of history to life like never before.

It’s truly an epic tale, with Puritans, Quakers, Mohawks, Frenchmen, pirates, seventeenth-century drinking songs, romance, Elizabethan sonnets, witchcraft, militia marching songs, psalmody, a refined Scottish villain, riveting combat, erotic moments, witchcraft, a seafood feast, lacrosse, a treasurer you will love to hate, deep questions of faith, religion, and friendship, and a slow, insubordinate, flatulent horse. What else could you want?

What inspired you to write this book?
I love history and historical fiction, and I wanted to portray a chapter of history the average American was not familiar with. I’m not trying to be critical, but in my opinion, we’re kind of overdosing on WWII, the Tudors, and the Vikings, and I’d like to see some of the more obscure events in history brought to life. King Philip’s War was one of the most tragic and catastrophic events in American history, and too many of us have never even heard of it.

Additionally, the conflict has been the perfect vehicle to explore themes of religion, friendship, and courage in the face of evil.

Excerpt from The Prophet and the Witch:
This is from Chapter 29. Linto is a Native American Wampanoag, and his people have enlisted the help of New France to aid in their war against the English. Linto is remorseful, because he is convinced he has committed a grave sin during the prior week.

“Vous ĂȘtes malheureux?”
Linto morosely drew another card, and ignored Captain Alain Fontaine.
“Qu'est-ce qui ne va pas?”
Linto should have been using the opportunity, as Captain Fontaine expected, to study the language of their new allies. As the captain repeatedly conveyed, within a few years New England would merely be an extension of New France, and a working knowledge of French would be vital.
“Are you unhappy, Linto?”
The shift back to English stirred Linto from his dull torpor. He briefly made eye contact, played his card, and sighed. They were playing “one and thirty,” and this would certainly be the fourth consecutive hand Linto would lose. His three cards currently added up to a paltry seventeen points, and he knew Fontaine would capitalize on his discard.
“I will take your three, and…voila. I have thirty-one. Or better yet, I have trente et un.” Linto stared vacantly into space.
“Linto, speak to me. You miss your family, no? I miss my family as well. My daughter is named Madeline. She is with her grandmother in Lyons. Tell me, what are the names of your children?”
Linto blinked and stared at the table. “Will Father Jacques ever come back, Cahp-ee-tehn Alain?”
Fontaine remained cordial. “I do not believe so. I have told you before. He will spend the spring to the west of here, on the shores of the ocean lake. It is very far, but he will save many souls. But I can answer all of your questions. You wish to know more about the English heresies? How they revile the Holy Father?”
Linto reached absent-mindedly for the cards, and lethargically shuffled them, much to Fontaine’s surprise. “A fifth hand, Linto? Surely, your luck must be ready to change?”
Linto briefly ruminated on the concept of luck. “Cahp-ee-tehn Alain, do you confess your sins?”
“Father Jacques told me true Christians will tell a holy man all the things they have done wrong, and they will ask to be forgiven. Do you think people are punished if they don’t tell a holy man all the things they have done wrong?”
“You think of such serious matters all the time, Linto. The sky is clear, the English are on the run all over the land, and we are roasting ducks today. There will be a big lacrosse game to watch in the afternoon. I think we will also see at least thirty more warriors arrive this week, and they will bring muskets.”
Linto continued his ineffective shuffling. “How often do you tell the holy man your sins? What if you do bad things every day?”
Fontaine reached for the cards and took them. “Linto, you have been moping like a sad Puritan ever since you went to see the Nipmuc. Weren’t they overjoyed at the news? Aren’t they making preparations for two hundred new warriors?”
The reminder of deception and falsehood triggered an even deeper gloom in Linto. He sat silently, and was relieved when one of Cahp-ee-tehn Alain’s attendants came in with cheese and brandy. Linto hoped the subject would now quickly change.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Book three of the trilogy will move forward approximately fifteen years. There was another obscure but fascinating war that rocked New England during that time, and evidently, in 1692, there was some kind of kerfuffle in Salem that got everyone all excited.

Additionally, the audiobook for The Prophet and the Witch is in progress. My narrator, Mr. Angus Freathy, is phenomenal. He does all the accents, easily differentiates between dozens of characters, and doesn’t falter with any of the exotic names and places. He even does the tipsy singing.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always enjoyed the academic writing associated with school and work, but 2017 is the first year I’ve begun professionally writing.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
No, I’m not a full-time writer. Fortunately, my work schedule affords me time to write, especially when I’ve been working night shift, and I’m at home on my days off wide-awake at 2AM.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Things come much easier when I’m listening to classical music.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I remember a fifth-grade career project when I listed “aerospace engineer” and depicted myself standing next to an airplane with a clipboard. How geeky is that? I guess I was pretty close, as I did get an engineering degree and spent twenty-two years in the Air Force.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m extraordinarily proud of this book, and the initial reviews have been terrific. One review I’m very fond of came from romance author Shashane Wallace, who noted “The Prophet and the Witch is a book for everyone.” In other words, even if you’re not normally drawn to historical fiction, I’m confident you’ll enjoy this tale of love, war, courage, religion, friendship, and faith.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for having me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 27, 2017

Interview with novelist Justine Avery

Novelist Justine Avery joins me today to chat about her new urban fantasy, suspense, paranormal novel, The One Apart.

During her virtual book tour, Justine will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Justine Avery is an award-winning author of stories large and small for all. Born in the American Midwest and raised all over the world, she is inherently an explorer, duly fascinated by everything around her and excitedly noting the stories that abound all around. As an avid reader of all genres, she weaves her own stories among them all. She has a predilection for writing speculative fiction and story twists and surprises she can’t even predict herself.

Avery has either lived in or explored all 50 states of the union, over 36 countries, and all but one continent; she lost count after moving 30-some times before the age of 20. She’s intentionally jumped out of airplanes and off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand, scuba dived unintentionally with sharks, designed websites, intranets, and technical manuals, bartered with indigenous Panamanians, welded automobile frames, observed at the Bujinkan Hombu Dojo in Noba, Japan, and masterminded prosperous internet businesses—to name a few adventures. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree that life has never required, and at age 28, she sold everything she owned and quit corporate life—and her final “job”—to freelance and travel the world as she always dreamed of. And she’s never looked back.

Aside from her native English, Avery speaks a bit of Japanese and a bit more Spanish, her accent is an ever-evolving mixture of Midwestern American with notes of the Deep South and indiscriminate British vocabulary and rhythm, and she says “eh”—like the Kiwis, not the Canadians. She currently lives near Los Angeles with her husband, British film director Devon Avery, and their three adopted children: Becks, Sam, and Lia. She writes from wherever her curiosity takes her.

Avery loves to connect with fellow readers and creatives, explorers and imaginers, and cordially invites you to say “hello”—or konnichiwa.

Welcome, Justine. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The One Apart is the epic tale of one life of a man who’s lived countless lives. The story begins with his beginning: Tres realizes he’s about to be born, again, and with the conflicting memories of all his former lives. His struggle, as he impatiently waits for his body to grow to match his adult awareness, is to find his place in this life, at this time, while uncovering the reason for his singular situation and the strange entities who appear to him that no one else can see.

What inspired you to write this book?
For The One Apart, I woke up one morning with just one interesting sentence in mind as an idea for a brand-new story: “he remembered everything.” It felt really impactful, like the fact that this person remembered “everything” was a big deal, that it wasn’t supposed to happen, something went wrong, or maybe, someone would be really upset to discover this person did remember everything. That was it. And that’s my favorite part of writing. I love having no idea what the story is and just writing to uncover it. I wrote two scenes from that idea and set it aside because I was hoping to write a short story and I knew this idea was “a long one.” And two years later, when I sat down to start writing my first novel, I picked up this story idea again. I knew this one was the idea to run with.

Excerpt from The One Apart:
“He needs a name,” Maria said, pouring scrambled eggs onto the plate decorated with a face of bacon strips.
Sancha stared at her plate. “He has one,” she said.
The hot iron skillet slipped from Maria’s hand; she sighed her relief as it landing safely on the stove burner. “What... did you decide?”
“I didn’t.” Sancha prodded at her eggs, recovering her bacon art one eye at a time.
“I thought you—”
“He has one already. I just don’t know what it is.”
Maria’s subconscious almost recognized the truth in the statement before it was buried by her conscious again. “Don’t be silly. Did you choose a name? If not, I will have—”
“No, you will not,” Sancha ended the conversation.

* * *

In the fenced back yard Maria referred to as “the garden,” sat a rusting swing set for two: Sancha’s favorite spot in the whole world. Swinging there—in and out of the shade of the broad-reaching maple tree—seemed to slow time and shoo away all teenage troubles.
“I have to name you,” she called out to her bright-eyed baby resting in a basket nestled in the grass below her. She swung her pale legs to propel herself higher into the morning sunlight, her glittering hair swirling around her. “But you won’t tell me what yours is,” she pouted.
Her polka-dotted summer dress fluttered in the breeze as her legs scooped up another pocket of air. “I guess you can’t,” she concluded on a downswing. “Yet,” she shouted into the air.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a few short stories that belong in a collection full of tales of those moments in life when everything changes, when a new path is chosen, when we’re jerked right out of our old ways—all with twists and surprises, of course!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Like most, I fell in love with the idea of being a writer because I loved to read. When I was eleven or so, I started my first novel. It was essentially a retelling of the Cinderella story with a main character named Ella that—SURPRISE!—would be revealed as a secret Cinderella. It’s a good thing I never finished it! After that, I believed the folks that told me that writing is more of a dream and not really a career, so I only wrote sporadically when I was really moved to live my biggest dream, only for life and that “real career” to get in the way. There were so many detours—for decades—but now I realize they’re all really valuable experiences for the life of a writer. Finally, the urge to write, the feeling that you’re supposed to write, took over, and I finally gave my writing “dream” the priority it deserves.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
It depends on your definition… With my experience in technical writing, desktop publishing, and design, self-publishing, taking my writing career into my own hands like the many businesses I’ve distracted myself with over the years, was the natural route for me. And, with only myself in charge, that means a lot of time spent on the non-writing tasks of a writing/publishing career. But I still carve out my mornings, first-thing, for writing—just creating, not editing, not plotting. I found I’m most creative and able to “let go” to really get into the lives of others, my characters, when my mind is fresh from sleep, and I haven’t yet been exposed to the news of the day or any other distractions. If I get two hours of writing time in, I’m really happy, and then it’s time to move around again after sitting so long and let the world and all the other work in.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know that I have any quirky writing habits. I’m a minimalist when it comes to my writing environment: desk, comfy chair, tea, maybe a piece of chocolate, my laptop, a window with a view. I try to keep out all distractions, so I can focus solely on the story and imagine myself there. There aren’t even any cute desktop decorations or anything; those are on the “business desk.” I have to keep out all distracting noise too, so I wear noise-cancelling headphones and play a loop of beach sounds: crashing waves and the occasional seagull going by. It’s the only thing I can write with: something without words or music that would pull me out of the story but sound that helps drown out outside noises. Is that quirky?

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be so many things. I grew up traveling the world, playing alone, self-creating adventures, and loving the outdoors. I wanted to be an ecologist, just playing in nature all day, or a travel agent, or a detective, or a flight attendant, or a secret agent, or a paranormal psychologist hunting ghosts.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I write to explore ideas and satiate my own curiosity. I publish to share the story with others for your own enjoyment. When it’s in your hands, it belongs to you. There’s no intended lesson or meaning or ulterior motive; The One Apart is for you to interpret, for you to explore and discover. So, I hope you enjoy the heck out of the adventure of reading it!

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you for the fun questions and opportunity to share with your readers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway