Thursday, October 31, 2013

Interview with Alma Burkhart for Little Witnesses. A book about faith.

Come and join me as I talk with author Alma Burkhart about her children's book  on Stories From Unknown Authors at 1 pm EST today.

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Gypsy Publications (August 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938768248
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938768248

  • Summary:

    "Little Witnesses," are Endearing stories, full of understanding and faith. These refreshing fictional tales share religious experiences during a child's journey in life. However, not all experiences are easy. Jesus Christ is known for incredible doings, but teaching faith is a hefty task.

    Alma Burkhart has been married for 58 years. She has served as a pastor’s wife for 39 of those years, mothering one child, and has taught Sunday school for 43 years. She finds passion in religion, and wants to express it in her life and work. Her children’s book reflects this ideology. Alma resides in Troy, Ohio.

    Tuesday, October 29, 2013

    Book Review for Why? Answers to Everyday Scientific Questions

    Why? Answers to Everyday Scientific Questions by Joel Levy
    Zest Books
    October 29th, 2013
    ISBN-10: 0982732295
    ISBN-13: 978-0982732298
    Ages 12 and up
    192 Pages
    Young Adult Nonfiction    Science & Nature  General

    Reviewer: Renee Hand

    Many people wonder about answers to some of life’s most basic questions, such as “Why the sky is blue?”, which can be answered from textbooks and in science classrooms and seem geared to younger, middle grade readers. Yet there are many more basic yet complicated questions like, “Why does time only move forward?”, which need more of an in-depth explanation for understanding.  

    Why? Answers to Everyday Scientific Questions is an interesting book. It covers a range of topics from geology and psychology, to cosmology and chemistry from the mundane to the esoteric. Readers will find just as interesting as the questions how the author has decided to answer them—by using several layers of explanation to build comprehension bit by bit.  

    Each answer begins with a one-line explanation before giving more detail and, in some instances, challenging the basic premise of the question. Some answers also incorporate illuminating and fun trivia to help with understanding. There are also pictures and graphs where needed.   

    This 192-page book is for young adults. Readers who are curious and open-minded will enjoy reading, learning, and sharing the answers to many of these questions. Though the book certainly doesn’t cover every possible question and though some explanations are proximate, it does incorporate a variety of captivating information. If this book does nothing else it will encourage readers to ask the question “Why?” more often.

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013

    Guest Post by Joe Sergi author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures

    Rules of the Superhero Genre


    By Joe Sergi, author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures


    I would to thank you for allowing to come on your site and ramble about my favorite genre—superheroes. I am the author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures. The book is the sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy. The first book introduced DeDe Christopher, an ordinary teen with an extraordinary destiny to become Sky Girl. Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe, it is proving impossible. In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. When we last left DeDe, she had just adopted the mantle of Sky Girl at the end of her sophomore year of high school. In this book, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick. DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to SkyBoy--secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

    Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is technically classified as young adult. However, this book more correctly fits into what is known as the superhero genre. There are certainly challenges to writing in this genre. Traditionally, the superhero genre was limited to the comic book medium. Sadly, while the superhero genre has had great success expanding into movies and television, superhero prose fiction is a hard platform to sell. I find it amazing that while comics has gained exposure as a medium and is no longer limited to the superheroes genre, the superhero genre, itself, hasn't really been able to expand into novels or short stories. And while characters like Superman and Spider-Man tend to do well, original characters are a hard sell. But, I think it’s a great genre and believe it deserves a chance to thrive beyond licensed properties.

    When I was shopping Sky Girl around, several publishers were interested in the book but ultimately decided that the target audience for prose superhero fiction was too small. I do not believe that and hope that I can prove them wrong with my books. I do not believe that comic fans will avoid my book because it doesn’t have pictures in it. Similarly, I don’t think young adult, fantasy, and science fiction readers will avoid the book because it is about a superhero. There is a market for fun superhero stories and it does not matter what medium they are presented in, whether it be film, comics or novels. Someday, I hope I am remembered for trying to challenge industry norms in an effort to reach new readers and dispel these misconceptions. I hope Sky Girl is remembered for helping me succeed in that challenge.

    So what is the Superhero genre?

    Robert McKee, in his great book about screenwriting called Story points out that when writing genre fiction, there are certain rules that must be followed for each genre. For example, a mystery story must always have clues and a solution and, when writing a comedy, the cardinal rule is that the main characters can’t really get hurt. In the words of Mel Brooks, “tragedy is when I stub my toe; comedy is when you fall into an open manhole and die.” Similarly, superhero fiction has basic rules that apply and that make the superhero fiction genre unique.


    A superheroine needs an origin that begins in tragedy. Superman’s planet exploded, Batman’s parents were murdered before his eyes and Uncle Ben was killed through Peter Parker’s inaction. Very rarely does someone wake up and decide, “I have a well-adjusted life, I think I will put on a colorful costume and become a scourge of the underworld.” The catalyst of Sky Girl is featured in Chapter 0 of the first book, which sets up the main mystery for the remainder of the series. “What happened to SkyBoy?” The fate of DeDe’s father fits directly into that. Does this mean that DeDe is psychologically imbalanced? Of course not. I mean, Clark Kent grew up just fine despite being the last survivor of Krypton (if you exclude Supergirl, the Phantom Zone criminals, the city of Candor, Krypto and . . .well, you get the idea).


    Second, superheroes wear costumes. Generally, good guys wear primary colors and bad guys wear purples, green and black. Of course the primary reason for this is that in the early days of publishing, the printing process was not very good. So, it helped if the reader knew that the little red and blue blur was Superman and the purple and green one was Lex Luthor. In my book, Sky Girl’s costume is based on her male counterpart SkyBoy and is purple and black. That costume, and the color scheme, was a deliberate choice. Then again, the Phantom, one of the original pulp heroes, wore purple and black, so it could be an homage to him. Plus, the Hulk, himself, is green with black hair and wears purple pants and he’s a hero . . . Isn’t he?


    Superheroes have powers. Firemen, policemen and teachers are all heroes--but, they are not superheroes. This is because they do not possess that metahuman gene that gives them powers. (Except for my sixth grade English teacher, Mrs. Lucas--that woman had eyes in the back of her head!) Some, like Batman, get their powers the old fashioned way, through study exercise; but he is still the world’s greatest detective. Others get them through birth (the X-men), environment (Superman), radiation (Hulk and Spider-Man), or drugs (if you think about it, Captain America is the poster child for steroids). And of course, Batman and Iron Man have the greatest superpower of all time: more money than they know what to do with. Sky Girl has several powers, including flight, invulnerability, a skypulse, and sky vision, which she discovers throughout Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, the first book. In the second book, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, she discovers and trains to use even more of her powers. The mysterious origin of her ever-growing list of fantastic powers will be explored in the third book of the series.


    Superheroines also need a mentor. In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell explains the hero’s journey. Part of that journey involves a wise mentor who helps the hero with her destiny. Luke has Obi Wan (and later Yoda). Daredevil has Stick. Clark had Pa Kent. Billy Batson, on the Saturday morning show Shazam, had Mentor (Saturday morning shows aren’t very subtle). Over the course of the story, Sky Girl meets several potential mentors. Some have her best interest at heart, and others have selfish motives. Part of her journey is to determine who to learn from.


                A superhero must also overcome overwhelming obstacles. If someone overcomes adversity and defeats the villain, they are a hero. But, to be a superhero, a person must face super overwhelming odds to defeat a supervillain. Batman would just be a man in tights without the Joker. Stan Lee, in the early days of Marvel Comics, added to this by having Spider-Man not only face off against the Green Goblin, but he also needed to make enough money to buy medicine for his Aunt May. Sky Girl is no different. In the first book, she faced off against the villainous Commander Chimp and his Gorilla Army. The new book greatly expands her rouge’s gallery of villains. There is also personal challenge for a teenage girl growing up, such as whether to use her powers for personal gain or whether to accept her mother’s new boyfriend.


                Related to that, a hero is only as good as his or her villains. With a few exceptions (like Venom), Spider-Man’s major villains were all introduced in the first year of the book. They still plague him to this day. Batman consistently faces the same insane criminals month after month (as if Arkham Asylum has a revolving door). In fact, the Flash’s enemies actually refer to themselves as The Rogues. In Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, we saw that Sky Boy has his own rogues gallery called the Retallion Battalion, which Sky Girl inherits. These are some pretty tough characters and Sky Girl faces off against nearly a dozen of them in the second book. Each of these characters plays a large role in the overall Sky Girl story.


    Another aspect of the superhero genre is the existence of a confidant/sidekick. Batman has Robin, but what many people don’t seem to realize is that he also has Alfred. The Hulk had Rick Jones. Captain America had Rick Jones. Captain Marvel had Rick Jones. Rom had Rick Jones. (Wow! That Rick Jones gets around). Superman had Ma and Pa Kent, and then Lois, and then not Lois, and now only Ma Kent. Sky Girl has Jason, her comic geek friend. He helps her in her hero’s quest and would be proud to be known as her faithful sidekick. In the new book, he also gets a chance to shine.


    Although the ten-year-old me would never admit it, love plays a special role in the superhero genre, especially unrequited love. “If only I could tell Nurse Jane Foster how I feel, but I can’t because I am also the Mighty Thor.” This theme permeates almost all the silver age books, especially in early Marvel Comics. Daredevil loved Karen Page; Spidey loved Liz and then Mary Jane; Clark Kent loved Lois Lane who loved Superman and then they didn’t. I think DeDe (Sky Girl) is a little young for love, but she is certainly interested in Adam Berg, the star quarterback. Unfortunately, he is involved with Nicole Debis, DeDe’s rival in every way. The ante is upped when DeDe gets super powers. Given the change in modern heroic fiction, perhaps there is hope for DeDe to find true love. This is especially true after the pair get to spend so much time together in the second book. After all, Superman finally married his Lois Lane and Spider-Man eventually married Mary Jane. And then they didn’t.


    Another trope of the superhero genre is a superheroic code-name. “Look, up in the sky; it’s a bird, it’s a plane; it’s Clark Kent.” That just doesn’t have the same oomph. Much the way that criminals would not cower in fear from the Bruce Wayne symbol (even if they are a superstitious and cowardly lot). DeDe’s best friend, Jason, spends a lot of effort deciding what the right name should be for DeDe. In the end, there can only be one. In the second book, one of my favorite chapters to write is when Jason tries to teach someone the importance (and copyright ramifications) of a super villain code name.


    A super hero needs witty banter. Spider-Man is clearly the master of this. And then he wasn’t. But, every hero is responsible for learning how to crack wise in the face of danger. Perhaps these jokes provide a psychological advantage, throwing their adversaries off guard by making them angry. Maybe, the humor is their only weapon against the dark world of evil they inhabit. I did a panel at Balticon about humor in paranormal romance, and someone mentioned that humor is a subtle way to show the strength of the hero—so perhaps that is the reason. Sky Girl is still relatively new to the proper way to converse with the enemy. When the second book opens, DeDe has had the whole summer to practice and train with Jason. She’s actually gotten quite good at being a costumed adventurer—except for her banter. She still stumbles through quips causing her opponents to wince. Luckily, Jason is there to show her the ropes and help her with the comic timing. Hopefully, as her confidence improves, so will Sky Girl’s banter.


    Every superhero needs a catch phrase. Everyone knows that Wolverine is the best at what he does (even if what he does isn’t very nice). People know that “it’s clobbering time” when the Thing cocks his fist. Perhaps fewer are aware that Psylocke’s psychic knife is “the focused totality of her psychic powers” (even though Chris Claremont had her say it every five minutes in Uncanny X-Men). SkyBoy’s catch phrase is, “Good golly!” Sky Girl doesn’t have one yet, but Jason is working on it and will know it when he finds it. After all, GI Joe fans are aware that “knowing is half the battle.” (What they may not know is that the other half is comprised of equal percentages of red and blue lasers).


    Most importantly, good heroes always triumph over evil villains in superhero fiction. It is the never ending battle. Everyone who looks forward to their weekly Wednesday comic book delivery knows exactly who is going to win that battle. And no matter how dark the reign gets or even in the blackest of night, the heroes will fight the siege of that final crisis and ensure that they will have their brightest day and enter a heroic age. Things look pretty bleak for the world of SkyBoy at the beginning of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy. Hopefully, Sky Girl can save the day. Who am I kidding? Of course, she can. Can’t she?


    I hope this discussion has helped flesh out the world of superheroes in general, and Sky Girl in specific. Did I miss anything? Please let me know. And thank you for allowing me to come on and talk about a topic that I love.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2013

    Interview with Meaghan Fisher and Guiseppe's Famous Pizza Pies

    Come and join me as I talk with author Meaghan Fisher about her children's book Guiseppe's Famous Pizza Pie on Stories From Unknown Authors at 10 am EST today.

  • Paperback: 24 pages
  • Publisher: Gypsy Publications (July 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938768205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938768200

  • Summary:

    Giuseppe is a pizza chef in Rome, and customers come from far and wide to watch his antics and get a taste of his famous pies. But what will he do when his trusty vendor's cart breaks down? With help from a new friend, he might just find a solution!

    Other new release:


    Book Summary:
    Mousekabitz has it made. He's got a safe place to live, a comfy bed, and plenty of food. That is, until he's discovered by the human family he lives with. Now even the lazy dog, Merlin, is after him! Chased from his home, Mousekabitz runs into an unfamiliar hole, but he doesn't know where to go next. And where is that music coming from?

  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Gypsy Publications (October 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1938768310
  • ISBN-13: 978-1938768316

  • Bio:
    Meaghan Fisher is a substitute teacher and a former nanny. She has over ten years experience working with children. Meaghan has a BS in Psychology and a Minor in Women’s Studies.
    She is a published poet, owns her own publishing company, and is currently working on her first novel. Meaghan lives in Troy, Ohio, with her husband, and two children.

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    Beverly Stowe McClure's Guest Post for A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat



    Pirates, blockade runners, and cats. What on earth do they have in common? A lot, as it turns out. You see, they’re all ghosts in my latest tween novel A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. The pirates are also historical figures that actually lived. Anytime a writer uses real people and real events they must be accurate, especially when written for children and teens. Otherwise, the author loses his or her credibility and the reader will stop reading. So, let’s take a look at my novel and see if the story is true to history and also to the present, since my main characters are fictional, modern day teens.

    Most people have heard of Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard the Pirate. According to legend Blackbeard was one of the most frightening pirates that ever lived. Another pirate, perhaps not as well known as Blackbeard, is Major Stede Bonnet, AKA the Gentleman Pirate. Since these men, though not the major characters, play a huge role in the novel, I needed to make sure my portrayal of them was accurate. To learn the facts about the pirates, I went to the library, where they ordered books on interlibrary loan for me. Next, I searched the Internet for additional information and found interesting facts to include in my novel.

    Then there’s the ghost James, former navigator on The Hattie, a blockade runner. James is a fictional character, but the ship really existed. Blockade runners were light, fast ships that snuck past the blockades set up by Union ships during the American Civil War. Since they usually carried much needed supplies for the Southern states the ships played an important role in the war. I attempted to show both the blockade runner and the pirates as realistically as possible, allowing for the fact they were ghosts, instead of live beings, which brought me to the next bit of research for my story.

    Can a human see a ghost? Can a human touch a ghost? Can the living talk to ghosts? Can ghosts communicate with the living? Why are they still roaming the earth, instead of resting in peace? These were questions I needed to answer to make the story believable. Articles and books I read about ghosts, along with ideas my teen characters kept planting in my brain, helped me bring Bonnet, Blackbeard, and James to life (well, as ghosts anyway) and the reasons they were wandering as spirits in the between worlds. Thanks, Erik, Star, and Storm.

    “What about the cat?” you ask. Okay, you didn’t; I’ll tell you anyway. Many ships in the 1800s and perhaps in other times, too, carried cats onboard. Dixie is James’ cat, yes another ghost. She has unfinished business in her life, the same as Blackbeard, Bonnet, and James do.

    Research helped me establish the credibility of the historical characters and facts. Mixing history, fiction, and the supernatural wasn’t always easy. It sure was fun, though, and made for an exciting story. Just ask Erik, Star, and Storm. And don’t forget Dixie.

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    Interview with Greg Enslen for A Field Of Red

    Come and join me as I talk with author Greg Enslen about his novel A Field Of Red on Stories From Unknown Authors at 1 pm EST today.

    • Paperback: 296 pages
    • Publisher: Gypsy Publications (July 31, 2013)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 193876823X
    • ISBN-13: 978-1938768231

    Book Summary:

    Ex-cop Frank Harper doesn't want to get involved. Harper is visiting the small Ohio town of Cooper's Mill, trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter and a grandson he's never met. But he finds the town gripped in fear-two young girls have gone missing, taken in broad daylight from a busy street. And the police are coming up blank. But once Harper is drawn reluctantly into the investigation, he'll stop at nothing to find the girls. And he doesn't care who gets in the way.

    This book was, like my others, a collaborative effort. If it weren't for the immeasurable assistance of some amazing people, this book would never have crawled its way out of my brain and onto the printed page. This book took about two-and-a-half years to complete, going through several rewrites and revisions until something emerged that I could be happy with. Anything great in this book is probably as a result of a suggestion one of these people made, whereas all the mistakes and miscalculations fall squarely on my shoulders. I'd like to thank the following people for their hard work to help make this book a reality: 
    • My wife Samantha, who had to listen to me talk on and on endlessly about Frank Harper and the other characters; 
    • My parents, Mary and Albert Enslen, for reading and rereading this, along with my father's attention to timelines and details, and marking it up until it was perfect; 
    • My editor, Diana Ceres, who vastly improved the book by giving it a rigorous edit and bringing up a lot of questions that made me think; 
    • And the wonderful folks of Tipp City, Ohio, upon which the fictional town of Cooper's Mill is based.

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    Kapnick Orchards Apple Umpkin Festival This Weekend For Book Signing Event

    I will be at Kapnick's Orchard in Britton for their Apple Umpkin Festival this weekend to celebrate my new release in my Joe-Joe Nut Series, The Secret of the Missing Arch. This is a mystery for children in 3rd grade and above. Also, with every book purchase, readers will be able to enter into a drawing to have me come to their school for a free author visit. Here is the information for my new release. Hope to see everyone there.

    Book Summary:
    The town of Acorn Valley is a buzz with the news of an art fundraiser at the elementary school that will help local animals in need who lost their homes because of inclement weather. With the whole town getting involved, famous area artists like Claude Monet Mongoose, Georgia O’ Giraffe, Vincent Van Goat, and Pablo Picasso Peacock all attend so they can each auction off a weather painting coinciding with the fundraising theme. It isn’t until Dr. Ced E. Meant’s presentation at the Metropolitan Museum before the event where, during a presentation where he discusses his findings concerning the erosion of some area parks, he discovers his research has been stolen, which contains information the world would be interested in knowing. At the fundraising event, truth’s unfold that will baffle detectives Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill leading them to suspects they never thought could have committed the crime. Will they be able to solve the case before Dr. Ced E. Meant’s research goes global? Join the detectives on their journey in learning about the topics of weather, erosion and art. Look for various activities in the back of the book to enhance learning.


    34th Annual Apple Umpkin Festival is Saturday October 12th 9-6 p.m. and Sunday October 13th 10-6 p.m.

    Kapnick Orchards
    4245 Rogers Hwy.
    Britton, MI 49229

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

    Interview for The Gentle Elephant by Amy Kneisley

    Come and join me as I talk with author Amy Kneisley about her picture book The Gentle Elephant  on Stories From Unknown Authors at 1 pm EST today.

    Paperback: 24 pages
    • Publisher: Gypsy Publications (July 31, 2013)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1938768213
    • ISBN-13: 978-1938768217
    • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 8.4 x 8.4 inches
    • July 31, 2013


    "The Gentle Elephant" portrays an unusual friendship between a prince and an elephant. They become immediate friends, when everyone else shuns the elephant from the prince's home. The prince and elephant lead an adventurous tale while also finding each other in a time of need. However, the King has final rule, and when he returns home to his castle he will decide the fate of their relationship.

    Author Bio:

    Amy Kneisley lives in Troy, Ohio with her husband, two sons and a dog named LupeAs a busy mom, Amy still finds time for jogging, hiking and writing poetry. Currently, Amy is working on a series of easy reader books for children, along with a novel, and a book of poetry. Her poetry blog can be found at