Q&A With Author Diana L. Smith

One of my absolute favorite things about being a writer is having the opportunity to meet so many talented, hard-working authors, creatives, and artists. It has been sheer joy reading/reviewing some of the most original, imaginative, award-winning, unforgettable stories on the planet. Kind of like this recent book I’ve had the pleasure of coming across, Pete the Pancake by Diana L. Smith.

After reading this entertaining, heartwarming story, I just had to know more about Pete and the author behind this adorable, five-star tale! So, without further ado, let’s meet debut author, Diana L. Smith!

Welcome, Diana, thanks for stopping by! Please share a bit about yourself. 

My name is Diana L. Smith. I live in Florida with my husband and best friend, Kevin. I was originally an Ohio girl and moved in 2000 for work. I loved Ohio, and it was a wonderful place to grow up, but here in FL, you do not have to shovel sunshine!

Tell us more about Pete the Pancake. How did he come to be? What inspired the title? 

Well, Kevin and I were at our friend’s house (Colin and Michelle – yes, the same names in the book) and Michelle was making pancakes. Most of the pancake makers in the world know that the first one turns out a little wonky. Sure enough, that happened, and Michelle was getting ready to throw it out. I told her, “awww don’t throw it away. It’s cute. I will take him! We could even call him Pete.” And, so it began! What is really funny and may sound odd because I never really thought about it in this way but, I am Pete in a way! I have neurofibromatosis. It is a genetic disorder that causes nervous system tumors, so I look different than most people. So, I know what it feels like when people stare. It is just what I have and not who I am, which is an important distinction. I am a happy-go-lucky person and feel blessed in this life!

Very cool how Pete was created…and thanks for sharing why you relate to his character, and choosing to spread humor, positivity, and gratitude through books and reading. 

The illustrations are fabulous. Who designed/illustrated the book?

Max Alnutt is the illustrator. He is so talented and really brought Pete to life for me. I sent him my sketch of what I wanted Pete to look like (which was terrible) but he got the idea and voila – Pete!

Do you have a favorite writing/creative space?

When I was in 5th grade, we had an assignment to write a short story. I wrote, The missing 10-million-dollar stamp. I was so proud of that story. I somehow found that my favorite place to write was in the laundry room, sitting in front of the dryer with the lid down like some sort of desk! No idea why I chose that but, I was 10! Now, I enjoy sitting out on the pool deck writing.

Pool-side writing sounds very relaxing! What’s your favorite part about being a children’s book author?

I love to be creative. My husband always said that I should have been in marketing or advertising rather than IT, which I have been for years and years. I am proud of the message that Pete delivers to kids and adults alike. All too often, people shy away from people or things that are different probably for many different reasons. They fear someone that looks different. They may not know how to react. Some people are just judgmental.  

What’s next for Pete? What are you working on at the moment? 

I want Pete to make it to the buffet. I figure that he will be introduced to other foods and hear their stories. For example, I see Pete meeting foods that people are afraid of without even trying them. I remember being a little girl and my family and I were having dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. My father wanted me to try the octopus and I was scared, even brought to tears! I finally tried it and loved it!!!  It is really the same lesson but, in another way that kids can understand. I believe that people need to think about who they shy away from or ignore. They could be missing out on getting to know someone that was meant to be their best friend until the day that they die. You never know. Don’t make assumptions.

I couldn’t agree more. Do you remember the first book you read?

I remember being in love with the Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene. I could not get enough of those.

Who are your all-time favorite authors?

There have been so many different ones…that is a tough question. I have read so many different authors from Tolstoy to Gary Larson. All over the place, right? That is what makes it fun!

My favorite poem is by W.B. Yeats – ‘The Pilgrim Soul’ and Sidney Sheldon was a guilty pleasure for sure. I genuinely enjoy songs and consider songwriters as authors. Some of my favorite lines from songs are:

The Beatles – “In the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”

Rolling Stones – “You can’t always get what you want but, if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”

Any advice for new indie writers?

First off, believe in yourself. Don’t let fear hold you back. It is an incredible feeling to get your physical book in your hands for the first time!!!!  I cried.  It is a lot of work but completely worth every minute!

Great advice, indeed. What are your hobbies when you’re not writing?

My husband and I are travel nuts! We love exploring new places. We have been to six continents and are only missing Antarctica. The pandemic has kept us at home like everyone else, but we’re really looking forward to getting back out there. We love to cook and especially like to bring home the flavors and recipes of the different countries that we have visited. We love movies and are one of those couples that love different movie quotes!

Six continents! I’ll bet you’ve had some pretty amazing, unforgettable experiences. Thank you so much, Diana, for hanging out at the blog and for sharing Pete the Pancake with the world! I can’t wait to see what’s in store for him.

What would you like readers to know?  

I hope that they enjoy Pete and really understand the story. There are many feelings that are contagious. Chose kindness, acceptance, and love. And if those emotions and actions dominate our lives and outlook, just think what a wonderful world we could have!

Well said!

Where can readers find your books?

Pete is available on Amazon. Kindle Unlimited, Kindle eBook, and paperback. You can find Pete in every market that Amazon has all over the world.

Buy Pete the Pancake

Join Diana L. Smith and Pete the Pancake on social media

Pete on Facebook

Diana on Facebook

Thanks again and have a great summer!

For more information on Neurofibromatosis awareness:

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KRISTY JO VOLCHKO is an award-winning, multi-genre author, poet, blogger, book reviewer, and human rights activist. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to share her love of storytelling, all things 80s, and tries to stay out of trouble.

Love the 80s? Read award-winning young adult comedy, Mall Hair Maladies

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29 Rad Romance Movies of the 80s (That Branded Our Hearts Forever)

There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who channel surf right past Pretty In Pink or Dirty Dancing without flinching, and those who are compelled to stop and watch (even if only for a few minutes and the 1400th time in their life). The second group knows within seconds which scene of the movie it is, the actor’s next line, almost every song on the soundtrack, as well as the performing artist.

I am, without a doubt, the second kind. And if you grew up thinking that if a boy really loved you he’d be willing to ski the K-12 (on one ski), whisper, “As you wish” in response to whatever you ask, or surprise you at your prom by ditching his usual goony threads for a snazzy suit, you’re probably with me.

Yes, yes, I’ve heard the same kinds of comments you have. “This movie, again? Haven’t you seen Peggy Sue Got Married a thousand times already?” Or, “I don’t know how in the world you can sit through Dirty Dancing one more time.” And my favorite, “Ugg, I cannot watch Princess Bride again…you’re seriously stuck in the 80s.”

Blah, blah, blah. Some people just don’t get it.

What can I say? I love the 80s and have always been unapologetically super-romantic. Was I born this way or had I simply watched too many of the most romantic movies of all time? Probably both. But the awesome thing is, I’m not alone.

Millions of others share in the belief that these unforgettable movies are just as great today as they were in the 80s. Why else would they remake classics like Grease, Dirty Dancing, and Hairspray? And why is it that most of us still prefer the original versions? Because some films are created so perfectly the first time, attempting to replicate that magic will always fall short. We know and love them like we do old friends and they’ve become part of us.

Through the years, boyfriends/girlfriends, schools, jobs, careers, homes, and spouses come and go with the seasons, but music, art, movies, experiences, and relationships play a huge part in what shapes who we are. Whether you realize it or not, they’re embedded in our hearts, souls, and cells forever.  

For many, these quirky 80’s movies will always be a sweet reminder of that first kiss, high school dance, bogus journey, dream of traveling in a DeLorean time machine, becoming the next Rocky Balboa or the lead singer of one of the raddest metal bands of all time.

So, I say to my fellow 80s-loving, ultra-romantics who still sigh each time they hear ‘The Time of My Life’ or ‘Endless Love’ . . . we’re kindred. Let us continue having ‘the time of our lives’ forever and ever. To the ones who don’t get it, you’ll just have to tolerate our ‘Hopelessly Devoted’, ‘Endless Love’ of the best decade of all time—the 1980s!

You may also want to watch (over and over again) these totally adorable flicks:

The Princess Bride

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Dirty Dancing

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Sixteen Candles

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Endless Love

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Against All Odds

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Pretty In Pink 

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When Harry Met Sally

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Can’t Buy Me Love

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Mannequin

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Valley Girl

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Secret Admirer

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Mystic Pizza

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Some Kind Of Wonderful

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An Officer And A Gentleman

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Urban Cowboy

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Romancing The Stone

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Better Off Dead

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Peggy Sue Got Married 

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Footloose

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Private School

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The Secret Of My Success

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Purple Rain

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Overboard

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About Last Night

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Coming To America

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Say Anything

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Just One Of The Guys

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Blind Date

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Prelude To A Kiss

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Kristy Jo Volchko is the author of the award-winning tween 80’s comedy, Mall Hair Maladies. A child of the 80s, she lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to share her love of storytelling (and all things 80s) and tries to stay out of trouble. 🙂 Drop by and say hello! @KristyJoVolchko   KristyJoVolchko.com     

Mall Hair Maladies 

MallHair_CVR_SML

Q&A With Grant Leishman

Welcome to my blog! I’m so excited to introduce one of my favorite indie authors, the talented, brilliant, and (very) funny, Grant Leishman. I recently finished Leishman’s The Second Coming, which had me laughing, crying, and wanting to know more about the man behind the story, and creative force to be reckoned with. So, without further ado, let’s ask away!  

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Hello, Grant, thank you for sharing some time with us! Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Kristy, thanks for having me.

I’m not sure you have the space for me to tell you too much about myself, but if your readers want the full oil on my life, I strongly suggest they read: Just a Drop in the Ocean, which is a fictionalized (but essentially true) story of my life. The main character Nick’s story; is my story. I hasten to add that the other main character Teresa’s story is definitely not my darling wife Thess’ story.

So, what can I tell you about myself? I’m a fifty-nine-year-old New Zealander, who is now domiciled in the beautiful islands of the Philippines. After careers in finance and journalism, I decided to run away from real life to a tropical island and that’s exactly what I did. I live in Manila, with my lovely wife and two of my seven step-children. I am technically a full-time author now, but reality insists that I spend some time as an editor/proofreader to pay the bills. Let’s face it; it’s damn hard to make a living as an author.

That being said, I am doing exactly what I want to be doing – following my bliss and “living the dream”.

Reviewers have described your latest five-star book as, “fantastic, inspiring, original, comedic, thought-provoking, witty, a modern-day spin on an ancient story…” What inspired you to write The Second Coming?

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The Second Coming was my first book, and originally I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to write about, but I did know I wanted to write a novel, so I looked at Amazon and asked myself; what’s selling right now? As it happened, the number one book at that time was a little book by Mitch Albom called; The First Phone Call From Heaven. Aha! I thought – God sells! That got me thinking and being a good Presbyterian boy brought up in Dunedin, New Zealand, I had gone to Sunday School and learnt all the bible stories about Jesus. What if? I thought; what if one day God looked down from Heaven and despaired at the mess mankind had made of Earth? He decided to destroy Earth and write it all off as a failed experiment – start again from scratch, so to speak. If Jesus intervened and asked for one more chance to turn us around, what would happen? Thus, The Second Coming was born. Of course, it then went on to become a trilogy, with Rise of the AntiChrist and Holy War, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The freedom! I used to live vicariously through reading (still do – to a great extent) but with writing, I can not only live vicariously through my characters, but I can create them to be and do anything I damn well please. I am in control and if I want to use my characters to say something insightful, quirky, funny, or even downright controversial – I can, and for a naturally introverted person, that’s real freedom.

Who designs your book covers?

I’ve tried a few different ones, including someone I used from Fiverr, but the more books I’ve written, the more I’ve understood how important a professional cover really is to a book’s credibility. At the moment, I have two designers I use, depending on what I’m looking for. Rachel McGrath of McGrath House and Eeva Lancaster of The Book Khaleesi Both Rachel and Eeva are excellent at what they do.

What are you currently working on?

I wish I could say I’m writing, Kristy, but I’m not. At the moment, I’m busy editing and/or proofreading books for my clients. My editing business has certainly taken off this year, but sadly at the expense of my writing. Still, needs must come first and we gotta pay the bills – right?

I finished my latest novel; Love Beyond, about three months ago, but I have not even had time to edit it myself and get it out there. I will get there though. Love Beyond is a Historical Romance, set at the time of the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish Colonial rule – circa 1896. When a Spanish Officer falls in love with a Filipina maiden, who just also happens to be a member of the revolutionary army (the KKK), things are bound to be fraught with difficulty. I am really happy with the book and already have my cover made, so am excited to get it to market, since it is my first historical novel. I like to change things up when I write.

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What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Who am I to give advice to anyone? I am an author who doesn’t sell, like so many of us.

My only advice is this; don’t listen to the naysayers, believe in yourself and always, always, follow your dreams. If you want to write – then write, but don’t write because you want to be a famous, best-selling author – write because it is your bliss.

What kinds of things do you like do for fun? Hobbies?

My only real hobby apart from spending time with my family is reading. I read exclusively “indie” books and read between 175 and 200 books a year. I also have a bit of fun every December with the annual “Grunter Awards for Excellence in Indie Publishing” where I give out awards for the best books I’ve read in a number of genres, over the past year, culminating in the Supreme Grunter Award, for my book of the year. I’ve been doing that for the past three years now and get a lot of fun from it.

If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?

A Nipa Hut on the beach at Lagundian Bay, Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, the Philippines.
Why? Because it is “heaven on earth” and so incredibly beautiful, peaceful, and inspirational. Of course, I would need my darling wife there to inspire my writing and to kick me in the butt when I goofed off to go swimming in the pristine waters.

What would you like your readers to know?

The only thing I can say is; I write for you, so when you do choose to read one of my books, I am deeply humbled and pleased. It’s a bit like the tree that falls in the forest. If there’s nobody around; does it make a noise? If I write a book and nobody reads it – then did I really write it? Readers are everything.

Where can we find your books?

Almost all my books are exclusive to Amazon, except for The Second Coming and Rise of the AntiChrist, but all of them can be accessed from my Amazon author page

I love interacting with readers and fellow authors. All of the many ways of getting in touch with me are here: 

Website:  Author Support Services Website: 
Email Address: 
Facebook Author Page (Please Like): 
Facebook Personal Page (Happy to friend you): 
Twitter: 
Google +
Pinterest:
Goodreads Author Page
Instagram
LinkedIn

#FastFunFacts:

*Last movie you watched Little Big League (A Soppy Family One)

*Favorite place to write Staring at the Beach

*Three things you can’t live without Laptop, Real Coffee, and my Kindle

*Last book you read The Socratic Contract by D C Russell (Excellent!)

*Top three favorite bands of all time This is so embarrassing to admit: Abba, The Beatles, and Queen

*Favorite colors Pink and Blue

*A particular food you could eat every day for a one year and still love: Lumpiang Gulay (A Philippine Spring Roll, filled with fresh vegetables and deep-fried) OMG! SARAP!

Thank you so much for the candid Q&A, Grant! Wishing you much success on all your books and future projects~ Have a blessed, prosperous, and wonderful summer!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A With Soulla Christodoulou

Hello, and welcome to my blog! Today I’d like to introduce the delightfully charming Soulla Christodoulou. 

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Please tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Kristy and thanks for having me! I’m an adult fiction author and poet and a mum of three boys. I live in a North London suburb, very close to where I grew up as part of a big Greek Cypriot family. My aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents were a huge part of my life and they still continue to be. I was the first in my family to go to university and I have graduated three times with a university degree, a Post Graduate in Education and a Masters.

I’m a fun-loving, giggly person who has learned to accept who I am in my later years and since “letting go” of other people’s expectations I have found that life just gets better and better. Being older definitely makes you wiser and I look at the world and all it has to offer not just with my eyes but with my heart too.

I am passionate about my Greek Cypriot roots, love my family and enjoy eating, travelling and of course writing. I am an advocate of young people and entrepreneurship and put lots of energy into supporting and nurturing young people to make the right choices for them and to push outside the boundaries of their comfort zone; after all, it’s outside the familiar and the comfortable that we find our best selves and our best opportunities.

My mother’s illness a few years ago prompted me to support others with cancer and I write monthly letters to women, through a charity called Girls Love Mail, based in California. One of my original letters is featured in a book called Dear Friend. Writing the letters reminds me how lucky I am to have my mum, my health and how privileged I am to be able to offer comfort and hope and strength and love to women through my words.

When I’m not working on my latest book I teach privately, offer editing services, both fiction and non-fiction, and ghost blogging on a variety of subjects.

What inspired you to write Broken Pieces of Tomorrow?

I’d always enjoyed writing and kept a diary through my teenage years. Then my life situation, as an adult, forced me to look outside of my career and my home; I joined a creative writing class in January 2015 as a way to clench back some “me” time and some control over my life. The feedback I got from my fellow writers on the course encouraged me to look at my writing more seriously. Out of that came my first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow; a semi-biographical story based on my own experience of marital breakdown which translates as “my whole world and my future shattered into a million pieces overnight”. It is a “coming of age” story where the main character, Georgia, goes through a life-changing journey which impacts on her emotionally, intellectually and socially. It was a book, that looking back, healed me. It is a story that many readers, on many levels can relate to. Readers have contacted me to thank me for sharing Georgia’s experience and to say that reading the book gave them strength, hope and a new way of looking at their own situation. Many have laughed and cried with Georgia and it is the emotions her journey evokes in my readers that I am most proud of.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

I love the fact that I can write anywhere and at any time; it’s not a restrictive nine to five occupation. I like the way my day can be as long or as short as want it to be, that it can start as early as 6 am or continue long into the early hours as I tap away at my laptop when my house is cloaked in silence. It is also a way of expressing myself, my inner thoughts and ideas, without being judged. I can write down the words and emotions I have inside of me which would perhaps remain unsaid or which I believe might be received differently if I utter them out loud.

Who designs your book covers?

Both book covers to date have been designed and formatted by two students whose designs won a competition I launched across Instagram. One student lives in the UK and I have actually since met her and her mother at my book launch of The Summer Will Come. The second student lives and studies in Athens. I am hoping to meet him when I visit Athens in October later this year. Both designers have been acknowledged in my books for their creative contribution.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently working on a story about two people who meet across social media; their friendship blossoms and they quickly become ‘virtual’ lovers. It’s a story about crossing the line, about emotional connections, dependency, relationships, and trust. The title of the book currently, though this may change, is Trust is a Big Word.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

I would say go with your gut instinct when writing, when planning your journey. Write what resonates with you and fills your heart with joy. Writing is difficult and if you’re forcing yourself to write in a genre which doesn’t feel right or which interests you then it will become a chore and we all know what it’s like to be faced with a pile of ironing we don’t want to do!

Also, set yourself goals in a way that will motivate and encourage you to keep going…I tend to use SMART objective setting. This allows me to set my goals in such a way that they can be measured and achieved within a given time frame. Mostly this means a word count to be completed in a day or sitting or a chapter to be edited or, in the case of marketing, a set number of projects to be planned and executed.

Writing can be quite isolating (you can’t be writing if you’re chatting in a room full of people) so build a network of people who can support and advise; writers, authors, publishers, marketing experts, readers. I use my social media in such a way that the community I have built is one I can collaborate with and one in which I can seek help when I need it. I think, as in any career, it is the people who are in your “A Team” who can make all the difference. I have connected with some wonderfully generous, kind and insightful people many who I have met up with too. Social media, if used correctly, is a powerful tool and I wouldn’t be without it.

Reading and writing go hand in hand too so I would say read as much as you can and not only in the genre you’re writing in but push yourself to read books you may not usually read. Over time, it is the reading that will help to develop your own style and what is often referred to as “voice”.

Joining a creative writing class can help motivate you to write too. It means that you are accountable to someone else and so you will more than likely keep writing and reach those magic words “The End”.

I would also say when looking at publishing your work look at all the options and choose what suits you. I waited for a long time to be published traditionally but actually, I feel like my Indie publishing journey was meant to be. I’m entrepreneurially-minded, I have marketing knowledge and I’m a go-getter. Indie publishing has taught me so much about marketing, promotion, connecting with people and managing my time as a writer. Not all the options available suit everyone so it’s important to do what sits most comfortably with your personality, expectations and your instinct.

What kinds of things do you like do for fun? Hobbies?

I absolutely LOVE dancing and in the past have done belly-dancing lessons. I love to travel and in the past three years have travelled to seven different countries. Each time my writing has been inspired and new stories and story ideas have awakened within me. I also enjoy reading and watching video blogs relating to positivity, mindfulness, heartfulness and generally how to be in a constant state of “happiness”. My birth name, Anastasia, in Greek means the positive one and I am a positive person. That doesn’t mean I don’t get down but I always get back up by looking at the plus side of anything that happens in my life. EVERYTHING happens for a reason. I always believe that reason brings with it better understanding, an opportunity for growth and the ability to trust patience in my life to become the best I can be.

If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?

Oh gosh, that’s a tough question to answer Kristy. I suppose somewhere away from the constant barrage of media, the noise of city living and the demands of day to day life. I’d be happy anywhere as long as I know my family is safe and happy without me. I can quite easily lose myself anywhere but if I had to name a place, and based on one of my most recent escapes, I would have to say India. It was a place full of magic, deep spiritual presence, and color which touched me both emotionally and intellectually. The culture from the people to the food to the lifestyles and the landscapes filled me with absolute wonder; a wonder I don’t think will ever be satiated. If I had to choose somewhere closer to home then I would say Cyprus; the birthplace of my parents, grandparents and those before them. Cyprus pulls at my heartstrings and helps me understand the people my parents are and the person I am too. Cyprus is a country of contradictions; bustling cities and simple villages, mountains and seas, hot and cold, barren landscapes and green forests, modern and ancient, east and west, art and music, and a people who are as passionate about their culture and traditions as they are about their families and their food.

What would you like your readers to know?

I suppose that I’m an ordinary person who has made a conscious decision to write. It’s not a hobby or a pastime. I have chosen to write every day and to use my experiences and the experiences of those around me to weave fictional stories that will evoke real emotions and thoughts that will remain with the reader long after they have reached the end. I’m a “happy ever after” person and this reflects in my writing and the way I live my life. No sadness lasts forever, it fades, it changes, it lessens and we move on. I love meeting my readers and connecting with those in my community; without them, I wouldn’t have anyone to share my words with other than myself. I enjoy talking about my writing at book club events and local fundraisers and public presentations. As a mother, and former secondary school teacher and Middle manager, I look for opportunities to support young people.

Where can we find your books?

Currently, all my books, including my historical fiction novel, The Summer Will Come and my poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, is available on Amazon.

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

My books, Amazon

 

#FastFunFacts:

*Last movie you watched
Goodbye Christopher Robin – on a flight to India which left me bawling my eyes out.

*Favorite place to write
At my dining room table, in the summer, with the French doors open onto my back garden

*Three things you can’t live without
Music, laughter and green tea!

*Last book you read
The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Cherry Radford which I read sunning myself in Cyprus.

*Top three favorite bands of all time
I love dancing and I honestly cannot narrow it down at all.

*Favorite colors
Pinks, blues, and greys.

*Favorite season
Early summer when the days are not too hot and you feel the relief of the breeze through your hair, blooms colour the garden and the skies are blue.

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Soulla. Wishing you all the best! 

 

 

Summer Reading 2018

Summer vacation is almost here and that means lots of sunshine, campfires, baseball games, road trips, roller coasters, fireworks, barbecues, cannonballs into the pool, and Summer Reading 2018! Encouraging your child to stay on top of their reading maintains literacy, strengthens critical thinking skills, keeps them from falling behind, supports their reading development, builds vocabulary, and nurtures a lifelong love of books. All great stuff, right?

VISIT THE LIBRARY

Getting kids involved in their local library is important for many reasons. In addition to the various Summer Reading Programs, access to free books, magazines, audio books, music, and internet, there are opportunities to volunteer, find a reading buddy or tutor, and be in an environment where other kids are reading for fun. Most libraries have some sort of Summer Reading Program so stop on in and let the fun begin!

“A library card is the start of a lifelong adventure.” Lilian Jackson Braun

“I have found that the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.” Laura Bush

“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” Albert Einstein

“Getting my library card was like citizenship: it was like American citizenship.” Oprah Winfrey

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SUMMER READING GOALS

Whether kids are getting their books from libraries, bookstores, or online apps, setting aside 20 minutes or more for reading should be an essential part of their daily routine. Create a snazzy chart, graph, or poster to record daily, weekly, or monthly reading goals, use incentives, and reward progress. A promised shopping spree at Barnes&Noble or Half Price Books goes a long way!

INCENTIVES

Reward them with the key to a locked treasure chest filled with surprise goodies. The wonder and anticipation of what’s inside is a huge motivator. Fill it with stickers, baseball cards, bookmarks, ear buds, sidewalk chalk, crayons, markers, UNO, Crazy Eights, Old Maid, or Go Fish cards, Jacks, a journal, shiny marbles, colored stones, beads…the possibilities are endless!

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  • A magazine subscription for Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Story Monsters Ink, or any subject of particular interest (dance, science, sports, fashion, cars).
  • Tickets to an upcoming sporting event, concert, or movie they’ve been wanting to see.
  • A gift certificate to Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Half Price Books, or Record Exchange.
  • Something specific they’ve had their eye on (video game, skateboard, jewelry box).

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SUMMER READING PROGRAMS

 Your public library 
* Carnegie Library Summer Reading Extravaganza
* Barnes&Noble Summer Reading
* Half Price Books Summer Reading Program
* Scholastic Summer Challenge
* Sylvan Learning’s Book Adventure

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FREE BOOKS/STORIES

Let’s face it, reading lots of books can get pretty pricey. Luckily, there are a ton of places to score some free ones. School, online apps, and the public library are always great places to start.

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International Digital Children’s Library 

Oxford Owl

The Library of Congress

Freechildrenstories.com

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Free Kindle Unlimited Amazon

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REMEMBER:

  • Get them a library card.
  • Take them book shopping.
  • Take turns reading aloud, alternating pages.
  • Encourage them to donate/share used books.
  • Laugh! Reading should be fun.
  • Discuss the story and characters; encourage questions.
  • Prompt them to bring stories/books along for trips, car rides, waiting areas, and picnics.
  • Create decorative bookmarks together for every season.
  • Be an example! They need to see you reading too.
  • Do a Summer Reading Challenge with them.

HAPPY READING, HAPPY SUMMER!

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FREE for Kindle Unlimited! 

KRISTY JO VOLCHKO is a multi-genre author and blogger. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she continues to share her love of storytelling. 
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Q&A With Kathleen Harryman

Hello, and welcome to my blog! It’s my pleasure to present Kathleen Harryman, an author with an eclectic style and a flair for painting. I appreciate her taking the time to share a little about herself and her new release, Where Friendship is Made and Family Begins.

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Kristy: Please tell us a little about yourself. 

Kathleen: I live in the beautiful city of York, England, with my husband, two daughters, cat Leo, and dog Reilly. I’m a bit of a history buff, and York with its rich historical values, satisfies the historian within me. It is also a great source of inspiration, which is probably why both my first two books The Other Side of The Looking Glass and When Darkness Falls are set within the dark walls of York.

I’m a bit of a bookworm, and from a very young age I wanted to be an author. Life is a funny thing, and my writing came second when choosing a career and brining up my children. In 2015 I thought it was time to address my childhood dreams and began writing my first book. I have never looked back, and now cannot ever imagine not writing.

I’m still a mum, dog walker, cat looker-after-er, wife, and work full time, so things can be a bit of a jungle; however, I wouldn’t change them. I have so many ideas for new books that I feel very excited about my writing future.

Kristy: What inspired you to write When Darkness Falls?

Kathleen: When I wrote When Darkness Falls, I wanted to write a psychological thriller with a difference. Writing it from the killer’s perspective was an absolute must for me, as this gave me the chance to explore the criminal mind and test the boundaries of what we term as ‘normal’ behavior. Another twist to the normal psychological thrillers on the market today is that the killer is a woman. I’m not giving anything away here, as right from the first chapter the reader becomes aware that the killer is a woman, and her method of killing is not poison!

I’ve found it really interesting how readers have interpreted When Darkness Falls, and I simply love the fact that while the reader cannot condone what the killer has done, they do find themselves understanding her reasons for killing, which I think has created a seesaw of emotions for the reader, because you don’t want to like or understand someone like the Yorkshire Slasher!

There is a certain amount of freedom, when writing from the killers’ perspective that I find fun. It’s like the bad guy in a movie that you don’t want to like, but do. 

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Kristy: I absolutely loved reading the psychological thriller that has been described by reviewers as “ghoulishly fascinating” and “intense and gory”. Will there be a sequel?

Kathleen: I haven’t discounted a sequel to When Darkness Falls, and I do think it would be fun and interesting to write one, though at the moment I’m not thinking of doing so. My editor asked me the same question, as she found the complexity of the killer’s character to be additive, until she asked me about a sequel, I hadn’t really considered writing one, but now that the idea has formed I’m not prepared to never, just not right now.

Kristy: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Kathleen: The best thing about writing, is everything that I learn during the writing process, whether it’s all the research that gives credibility to the story, or the characters themselves as they develop. Even when I’m not writing, I’m still thinking about the story, and things continue to play around my head as new ideas form. I’ve even found myself laughing as I walk down the street as a scene in my book plays out in my head; I’ve had some odd looks, but it doesn’t bother me.

Kristy: Who designed your book covers?

Kathleen: I have always had a clear view of how I wanted my book covers to look. When I wrote my first book, I put forward the ideas I had in mind to the publisher. By the time my second book When Darkness Falls was due to be published I’d decided that I wanted to fully design the cover, I enjoyed this so much that for now I will continue to do so.

I actually painted the picture for the front cover of my latest book, Where Friendship is Made and Family Begins, which is a collection of poems and is on sale from the 7th May 2018. The poetry book is very personal to me, as it is dedicated to my dad and therefore it was important for me that every bit of the book meant something special to me.

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Kristy: What are you currently working on?

Kathleen: With my poetry book ‘Where Friendship is Made and Family Begins’ due to be released very shortly, I am working on a 1940’s book called ‘Forgotten Love’ with an actress friend of mine Lucy Marshall, who played the Yorkshire Slasher in my promotional film for When Darkness Falls. My grandfather fought in WW2 and died on D-Day and it is with immense pride that I am writing this book with Lucy, which will be based around the 5th Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders, which is the regiment that my grandfather fought under.

I am also in the final stages of writing another thriller The Gas Man, which I am hoping will be out later this year. I have so many ideas, which have been outlined for future books. I can’t ever imagine never having a story on the go.

Kristy: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Kathleen: I would say write, don’t look at other authors and compare your work. You are original, and so should your work be. I could never imagine adapting my writing style to try and be someone else. Each author writes different and we all go through different stages. I tend to know how I want a story to start and finish, the in-between bit is where all the fun happens. Writing should allow you to feel free, free to imagine, inspire, and to be you as the story forms. Each book is a reflection of the author, it was born in their mind and brought to life within a book, to be anybody but you, would stop the book from being an extension of you.

Kristy: What kinds of things do you like do for fun? Hobbies?

Kathleen: I love walking, having a dog that’s a good thing because he’s always ready to out and about. I also like to sketch and paint. I’m terrible because if you were to ask me about a TV program I would probably look at you blankly as I hardly ever watch TV. I would rather be sketching or reading a book.

Kristy: If you could choose any destination in the world to spend six months writing, where would you go and why?

Kathleen: I once went on holiday to the Isle of Sky in Scotland. I absolutely loved it. I could see myself in a small white stone-built house near the sea, with mountains as neighbors. The peace and tranquility would be blissful.

Kristy: Where can readers find your books?

Readers can find my books at:

Amazon: http://author.to/KH-AUTHOR-PAGE

Or at my website: www.kathleenharryman.com

Readers can also find out more about me at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KathleenHarrym1

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/httpstcoyo1g8QEBAq

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

 

Fantastic Q&A, Kathleen! Wishing you much success on your May 2018 release, Where Friendship is Made and Family Begins.     

Nurturing Your Future Bookworm-Inspiring Kids to Love Reading

Getting children to be enthusiastic about reading can sometimes be a challenge. Compared to the television, with all of its stimulating jingles, colors, and characters, reading may seem quite boring. That’s why the earlier they begin their lifelong love of books, the better. Books with vibrant art, rhyming, and lively characters is a great place to start. Soon they’ll be hungry for new words, worlds, and of course, special time with you.   

*Make sure to read with them daily. Although schedules get hectic, carving out 15 minutes for a story goes a long way.  

* Take turns reading aloud, alternating pages.

*Use funny voices or accents sometimes just for fun.

*Get them a library card and show them how to use it. Spend time there together and allow them to choose subjects of interest. You may also want to participate in some of the activities/programs that your branch has to offer.     

*Bring them to the used bookstore for new reads and encourage them to donate or share books they’ve outgrown.

*Make story time your uninterrupted one on one time together.

*Laugh! Reading should be enjoyable and fun.

*Discuss the story and characters- always encourage questions. Rouse their imagination by asking how they would’ve chosen the story to end or what happens afterward.        

*Have lots of literature at home and available to them. Make it a fun project to build and decorate a bookcase for their bedroom filled with favorite books.

*Prompt them to bring books along for trips, car time, waiting areas, picnics, etc. 

*Teach them to respect books, their pages, and to take good care of them. Allow them to develop a bond with reading in general.  

*Create decorative book markers together for every season for some craft time fun.

*Be an example. If kids see that reading is your norm, it’ll be theirs.

*Most of all, inspire them to make books and reading a part of their everyday life. Read signs, menus, games, flash cards, magazines, comic books, etc. Take them to libraries, bookstores, annual book sales, and flea market tables. Sound things out together, teach alternative meanings, challenge, and praise them often.

“What is another word for mommy?” Bibliophile. Bibliophagist. Logophile. Bibliomaniac. Bookworm. Happy.