THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Mermaid Tales A Titanic Friendship by Debbie Dadey

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book prolific author and my friend, Debbie Dadey, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Mermaid Tales: A Titanic Friendship”. Take it away, Debbie …

Do Kids Still Like Titanic Books?
By Debbie Dadey

When I was a librarian, kids practically fought over Titanic books in my elementary library. I had to admit I was also fascinated by the legendary ship that was like a floating palace. When the opportunity came to write a Titanic book of my own, I was ecstatic. As with any book, I did the research needed. My merkids were to visit the sunken ship as it is today which is slowly disappearing courtesy of the steel-eating bacteria, H. titanicae. When I presented the idea to my editor my heart sank at her words, “Pick another ship.”

Another ship? But the Titanic was the ship of all ships! How could I choose another one? My editor noted that many people died when the big ship went down. True, but unfortunately people probably died in any shipwreck. So, I did something I had never done before, I did it anyway. I’ve pretty much have always acquiesced to my editor’s big demands, but I didn’t this time. My librarian heart felt that kids would enjoy a Titanic ship above any other ship story. My goal when I began a writing career was to focus on writing stories that would appeal to reluctant readers. Would a Titanic story fit the bill?

As it might be the last Mermaid Tales book, I also wanted to write about a character I’d never been able to have before-a mermaid in a wheelchair. Yes, the librarian in me said that there are all kinds of diversity and kids need to see themselves in books. I’d tried with Twist and Shout. I’d written the whole book with Echo in a wheelchair and ended up having to rewrite it with Echo on crutches. A Titanic Friendship released a few years later than Twist and Shout and perhaps the timing was right. Diversity won and there’s a mermaid named Anita in a ‘wheelchair’ of sorts on the cover. She plays a huge role in the story. Yeah!

Do kids still like Titanic books? A large part of the Mermaid Tales audience is girls. So perhaps the question should be phrased, “Are girls fascinated by Titanic stories?” Let me know what you think. My librarian brain is curious, and my writing heart is hopeful that kids will enjoy A Titanic Friendship.

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Book Blurb:

Echo has always been fascinated by human inventions, so she’s especially interested when her class studies the history of the Titanic and the bacteria discovered there, Halomonas titanicae. When Mrs. Karp announces that the class will be going on an ocean trip to the sunken vessel, Echo is thrilled to have a chance to see it, since the ship is decaying and won’t be around much longer.

The ocean trip isn’t the only big news at school—a new merstudent, Anita, will be joining the class! But Echo and Anita immediately don’t get along. Anita is rude to Echo the first time they meet, and all of Echo’s friends seem to like Anita better than her.

As the trip approaches, the merfriends learn that the Titanic site isn’t wheelchair accessible, meaning Anita won’t be able to join the class. Her friends decide to boycott the trip, but Echo has been looking forward to it for weeks. Is Echo willing to look past her jealousy and give up the trip? Or can she find way for everyone to be included in both the ocean trip and her friend group?

Purchase Info:

A Titanic Friendship is Mermaid Tales #22 from Simon and Schuster/Aladdin

ISBN-13-‏978-1534457355.

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About The Author:

I used to be Debbie Gibson when I was a little kid growing up in Kentucky. I got in trouble for talking too much in school.  In fact, I learned Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address by heart because I had to write it so much in fifth grade (punishment for talking). My older brother still lives in Kentucky. If you’re ever in Henderson, KY.  stop by Thomason’s BBQ for the best beans and mutton you’ve ever tasted and say Hi to my brother Frank.

Now I live in Sevierville, TN with my husband Eric and our dog Carmen. I’m very proud of my husband-he’s a smart scientist. He worked in industry, but now he teaches pharmacy. Of course, he’d have to be special to put up with a kooky writer like me!  My kids are awesome too.  My oldest son graduated from Penn State and the University of Colorado and now I call him Dr. Nathan.  Hurrah Nathan!  My daughter attended Penn State, but now she is in graduate school.  My youngest son was the nicest guy I ever knew. He would have given you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Sadly, he died in 2020.

Some people think that the Bailey School Kids series was named after my dog Bailey, but that’s not so. My grandmother’s name was Lilly Bailey and I loved her very much. Marcia suggested using the name Bailey for our books and I liked it. Later, when my family got our new puppy we named her Bailey, too. Bailey was a wonderful dog and it broke my heart when she died.  Her buddy, Skippy, died just about a year later.  I like to think they are playing together in puppy heaven. Many years ago, we had Cleo and Comet. They died within months of each other as well.

I think my Grandmother had a lot to do with me being a writer.  She always kept a diary and I thought that was so cool.

I spend lots of time watching my kids do their activities, like soccer.  My youngest son was also into skateboarding and my daughter was really involved in the plays at her school.  I also like playing the piano, hiking, scrapbooking, fixing up my log cabin, tennis, reading, and writing of course!   

In 2023, Debbie’s newest series will debut with Mini Mermaid Tales for kids in first and second grade.

Website: www.debbiedadey.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/debbiedadey

Twitter: www.twitter.com/debbiedadey


THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Treasure Hunt by Stephanie Wildman

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Stephanie Wildman, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Treasure Hunt”. Take it away, Stephanie…

Treasure Hunt by Stephanie Wildman


Treasure Hunt is a book that started with rejection. I had written an early version of the
story, prior to the pandemic, for a “Green Story” contest – a contest that sought stories on
environmental themes. In that early version, a grandmother saved a big cardboard box and set up
a treasure hunt for her grandson. That story did not win anything.

But I clung to the idea that a story lay in those bones. I felt attached to the ideas because
during the pandemic I made a lot of puppets with my grandsons (out of toilet paper rolls and
scraps, just like twins Flor and Roberto do in the book) and we had planned a puppet show. I also
regularly prepare “treasure hunts” for the grandkids when they come to my house – looking for
the objects is the part they love best. And who doesn’t love figuring out uses for a gigantic
cardboard box from an appliance delivery? We had decorated one. I didn’t let the story go, even
as I worked on other books.

I did consult with my wonderful kidlit teacher Maxine Rose Schur. (If you don’t know
her work, you will want to take a look at her books.) I started writing picture books when I took
her class, which was aimed at middle grade and YA. When I told her a book idea I had, she said,
“It’s a picture book.” That’s the story that became Brave in the Water, my first book, which does
feature a grandmother/grandson relationship. But Maxine’s advice, when she read Treasure Hunt
was, “If you can take an adult out of a picture book, then you should do it.”

So, I imagined how the story would work without the grandmother and created a wise
older brother caring for his twin siblings after school. He watches an appliance delivery next
door and asks for the used box. The story just fell into place. The environmental theme remains
as former Senator Barbara Boxer observed in the blurb for the book: “Protecting the environment
has always been a priority for me so this wonderful story is very special. It shows how children
can enjoy doing something to actually make a difference!”

The Spanish language version Búsqueda del Tesoro (translated by Cecilia Populus-
Eudave) will be available in March.

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Book Blurb (coming November 1) :

In this light-hearted story, twins Flor and Roberto scamper through their house, hunting
for treasure hidden by big brother, Luis. Can these everyday objects really be treasures that offer
more fun than video games or TV? Join Flor and Roberto on their search and discover what fun
Luis creates with a gigantic cardboard box. Bonus content provides direction for creating your
own at-home fun!

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Hunt-Stephanie-Wildman/dp/1956357394/ref=sr_1_2?crid=3F84EWFW7AD4B&keywords=stephanie+wildman&qid=1663555644&s=books&sprefix=stephanie+wildman%2Cstripbooks%2C82&sr=1-2

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About The Author:

Stephanie Wildman served as John A. and Elizabeth H. Sutro Chair at Santa Clara Law
and directed the school’s Center for Social Justice and Public Service before becoming Professor
Emerita. Her books include Brave in the Water (illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar, 2021);
Privilege Revealed: How Invisible Preference Undermines America 2d (2021) (with
contributions by Margalynne Armstrong, Adrienne Davis, and Trina Grillo); Race and Races:
Cases and Resources for a Diverse America 3d (with Richard Delgado, Angela Harris, Juan
Perea, and Jean Stefancic) (2015); Social Justice: Professionals Communities and Law (with
Martha Mahoney and John Calmore) (2013); Women and the Law Stories (with Elizabeth
Schneider) (2011). She is a member of the Writers Grotto and loves to plan treasure hunts for her
grandchildren.

Find Stephanie at:

Website: www.stephaniewildman.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/SWildmanSF

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: The Existence of Bea Pearl by Candice Marley Conner

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Candice Marley Conner , is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “The Existence of Bea Pearl”. Take it away, Candice…

The Existence of Bea Pearl by Candice Marley Conner

One of my favorite pastimes growing up was reading Nancy Drew books by a swamp in the middle of the woods. That, and creating stories. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. The ability to see through other’s perspectives has always seemed magical to me. I wanted to turn the mundane into something new too. I grew up on a fish farm that had been a recreational spot from the 1930s to the1970s thanks to an artesian-fed pool, and heard stories from teachers and old men in front of the hardware store of how they met their soulmates out there as teens. I could trace my fingers over couples’ names etched in the heart-pine windowsills and hunt for glass marbles and silver bracelets when we drained the pond every Spring to harvest catfish and tilapia.


My family and I would find sand dollar and shark’s teeth fossils in the limestone banks from when the whole area was under a primordial sea. We had alligators eating out of the dog’s food bowls, ‘possums in the cat’s food, crawfish in the swimming pool, and had to check our boots for tadpoles or snakes before putting them on. It was an amazing swamp-wild childhood with both a nostalgic and natural history that I wanted to claim somehow. Let the past and present exist together somewhere. It wasn’t until my first child was born, and my husband urged me to stay at home with her, that I decided this was it—my time to put butt to chair, lifelong dream to the computer screen. Nap-times were specially reserved for perusing Writer’s Digest issues as I scrounged for how-to, inspiration and writing prompts. The idea-sparks that ignited the original inspiration for my young adult novel, THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL, were an amalgamation: a writing prompt from a 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest to write what scares you (losing a loved one), write what you know (the swamps and river I grew up in), my childhood adoration of Nancy Drew books, and wanting to explore a place that doesn’t exist anymore.


This story is my love letter to the swamp and river that shaped me. As one of the most bio-diverse river systems in the U.S., I want people to see through my perspective—past the mud and decay to the natural beauty and know it’s something valuable to treasure. With the talent of my artist friend, Erica Ross, I commissioned artwork that reflects this swamp and river-wild adoration. Her artwork, featuring native plants and animals, is now on the Threadless website with proceeds going to the Alabama Rivers Alliance to help protect the 132,000 miles of Alabama waterways. This story is also my ode to girls who search out the truth no matter how society tells them to behave. About believing in yourself and those you love. About existence and what kind of life you choose. I hope readers fall in love with Bea Pearl, her best friend Honey, and the mysterious Chatothatchee River as much as I have.

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About The Author:

Growing up between swamps, a river, and the Gulf Coast, Candice Marley Conner’s stories emerge from gnarled cypress knees, muddy water, and salty air. She is the kidlit haint at a haunted indie bookstore (but not haunted how you’re thinking), a Local Liaison for SCBWI, and an officer for her local writer’s guild. Her short stories and poems are in various anthologies and magazines including Woolgathering, Smarty Pants Magazine for Kids, Highlights Hello, Cabinet of Curiosities, Under the Full Moon’s Light, Babybug, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and more. She is the author of two picture books, CHOMPSEY CHOMPS BOOKS and SASSAFRAS AND HER TEENY TINY TAIL, as well as the YA Southern mystery, THE EXISTENCE OF BEA PEARL. She lives in Alabama with her husband and two children (one of whom is possibly feral, and definitely a velociraptor).

Candice is represented by Katelyn Detweiler at Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

She loves to connect with other writers and readers!

Website: https://www.candicemarleyconner.com

Instagram: @candice_marleyconner
Facebook: @cmarleyconnerauthor
Twitter: @candice_marleyc

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Book blurb:

If her brother could stop existing, could she too?

Sixteen-year-old Bea Pearl knows her brother isn’t dead. Even if her parents don’t agree. Even if the entire town doesn’t believe her. She knows it’s true. When orders came to evacuate Lake George due to rising floodwaters, Bea Pearl saw Jim head toward the river. She followed him. Only she returned. When her parents have Jim declared legally dead, Bea Pearl decides it’s up to her to figure out where her brother could be if he is alive, and so begins to unravel the mystery of his disappearance. But it seems like someone else wants to know what he was hiding when his bedroom is ransacked. More clues come together: a scrap of paper, mysterious numbers that may lead to swamp monkeys, Jim’s shoes turning up in unexpected places. Bea Pearl can’t figure out what connects them all until she’s stolen from her bed in the dead of night.

Bea Pearl’s insistence that Jim’s alive and her quest to figure out why he went down to a flooding river in the first place takes a toll on her shattering family. But she must unearth the truth surrounding her presumed dead brother. Otherwise, the rumors are true and she has killed him. Because if Jim can stop existing, could she too?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/ZKAqFwstL1A
Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Existence-Pearl-Candice-Marley-Conner-ebook/dp/B08WHTJSG7/ref=sr_1_1?crid=21CZTB5F1X9OM&keywords=the+existence+of+bea+pearl&qid=1662922018&sprefix=the+existence+of+bea+pearl%2Caps%2C83&sr=8-1

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Holding The Horse by J L Williams

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, J L Williams, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Holding The Horse”. Take it away, J L…

Holding The Horse by J L Williams

I began writing Holding The Horse in 2015. My dad and his brothers were getting older and frailer and I realized that their generation would soon be gone. Dad and his brothers told me about their happy childhood years. My gran told me about the tough times. I wanted to celebrate their lives and to record the courage and determination of post-WWII families as they faced emotional turmoil, financial hardship and the physical struggle of life.

After a while self-doubt crept in, and the research seemed daunting. My dad found out that he had cancer, and I put the manuscript aside. Looking back now, I think that writing break was necessary. While I thought I’d forgotten about the story, it was quietly growing inside my head and in my heart. In 2018, after my dad had passed away and family life had moved on, I recovered my drive to finish the story. The research now seemed easy and the emotional ride of writing was enormously satisfying. I sensed that I had an important story to tell, and not just for my family. When Storylines New Zealand announced a new award – the Janice Marriott Mentoring Award, I scrambled to put together an entry. I was chosen as the winner, and in 2019 I had the honor of receiving my award (by post, because Covid19 had finally reached New Zealand.)

Janice Marriott is an award-winning author of fiction and memoir who runs an international author tutoring program called Go Write Now. She set up the Storylines NZ mentoring award to encourage writers of junior or middle grade fiction in New Zealand. The experience of being mentored was truly life-changing. Janice gave me the confidence to complete the manuscript and assured me that my story was certainly an important story in terms of historical fiction and fiction that explores the relationship between fathers and sons, especially in times of difficulty and hardship.

In 2019 I completed the manuscript and entered it in the Storylines New Zealand Tom Fitzgibbon award for an unpublished junior fiction manuscript. I wasn’t the winner but I was shortlisted and attended the award ceremony in 2020. Holding The Horse was then placed with a children’s book agent for several months and then I was told that they were really looking for authors with ‘a body of work’ and not just one book. That was the beginning of my self-publishing journey. Holding The Horse is now available as both print and eBook through Amazon and through Kobo, Nook and many other platforms. My dream is to have my book available in libraries and schools.

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Book blurb:

A boy, a horse, a dream and a secret plan.

Set in rural New Zealand just after the second World War, Holding the Horse is the story of fourteen year old Sid, who dreams of becoming a famous jockey. Sid had expected everything to be easier after Dad’s return from the war, but now that his father is back, things seem to be worse in many ways. Dad is moody and unpredictable. And for some unknown reason, he is dead set against horse-racing. When Sid is invited to go to the races with his friend Rick, he has to invent other places he’s going to. And when he gets a job offer, working with horses, Dad refuses to let him go. Dad’s crazy friend Jack, his war buddy, agrees with everything Dad says. So does Mum, or at least she acts like she does. Sid’s family own’s a horse called Hugh, but he’s slow and steady, and very old.


A jockey needs to be able to ride fast, so Sid makes a plan to ride a fast horse. It involves telling lies, sneaking out at night, and riding a horse he doesn’t own. Can he achieve his dream? Or will his secret plan lead to disaster?

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About The Author:

J. L. writes stories that take you to another place and time, and another world, even though they’re set right here on planet earth. She believes that forgiveness is one of the greatest powers we can exercise, and that when our loyalties are tested, and we have the opportunity to forgive, it’s more than an opportunity. It’s a must. J.L. hopes her stories will make you laugh and keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as make you think about some of the deep stuff when you close the book.

Website: https://jlwilliamsauthor.com/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Holding-Horse-J-L-Williams-
ebook/dp/B0B9YNZHDR

Universal Book Link for wide publishing:
https://books2read.com/HoldingTheHorse
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jwilliamswriter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jwilliamswriter/

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: How Giraffes Found Their Hearts by Kathleen Macferran

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Kathleen Macferran, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “How Giraffes Found Their Hearts”. Take it away, Kathleen…

How Giraffes Found Their Hearts by Kathleen Macferran

Under the lilac bushes in my back yard lived a whole fairy village among the lily of the valley
plants. At least that’s what I imagined as I played for hours making homes, gardens and play
fields for my fairy friends. When I was inside my childhood home, I made marble animals with
jiggly eyes, clothes for my stuffed animals, and obstacle courses for our dog. I loved to create
and build worlds where everyone was happy and got along.

I also played a lot of music growing up, eventually becoming a music teacher in public schools
and then a music conductor of a professional music ensemble called the Rainer Chamber Winds.
In addition to multiple concerts designed for adult listeners, Rainier Chamber Winds also
performed for younger listeners inviting them to sit on stage with us next to their favorite
instruments while drawing on large sheets of paper as the music played. I had grown up listening
to Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” and was longing for stories set to music that Rainer
Chamber Winds could play for our young audiences. Over the years we commissioned and
recorded 7 folk tales set to music (CD named “Tales Told in the Winds”).

As music director, I wanted to create more stories set to music around the same time I started
studying Nonviolent Communication. The founder of Nonviolent Communication, Marshall
Rosenberg, playfully used a giraffe puppet in his teaching to represent the key principles of his
work since giraffes are one of the land animals with the largest hearts, and inside our hearts are
the things we most care about. Giraffes also have long necks so they can see the consequences of
their actions. Their necks are a sign of vulnerability. They stick their necks out for what they
believe in. I knew I wanted giraffes and all their wisdom to be principal characters in the next set
of children’s stories that we set to music. That meant I had to write them myself.

In How Giraffes Found Their Hearts, I wanted the theme to be about the power and the beauty of
authenticity that makes you, you, and me, me. I wanted to covey the aliveness that comes from
knowing and honoring our common human needs. In How Giraffes Got Their Ears, I wanted to
convey the importance of deep listening for the feelings and needs inside all hearts, even when
it’s hard to hear. I wanted stories that helped us remember and learn how to build a world where
everyone thrives and gets along, like my fairy villages under the lilac bushes. Those two stories
were set to music by Adam Stern and recorded by Rainier Chamber Winds (CD named “Giraffe
Tales”). The project was going to end there, but I was so moved by the CD cover that Kenneth
Schrag designed that I asked him to consider illustrating the stories so we could publish the
books to go along with the music. I will always be grateful that he agreed. The stories come to
life through his illustrations. Much gratitude also to Artisan Bookworks for believing in these
books and bringing them into the world.

I’ve come to realize that finding one’s own heart and deeply hearing the heart of others is
essential, though not enough. We also need to be able to speak bravely about what is in our
hearts, what we care about, what matters. Currently, the third book in the series is being written
about giraffes learning to speak courageously. The times we live in call for brave speech and
brave action. Maybe our giraffe friends can encourage us to honor the dignity in all hearts, to
speak truth about our diverse experiences, and to deeply listen to one another.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kathleen Macferran is a facilitator, author, teacher, Certified Trainer and Assessor for the
Center for Nonviolent Communication and the owner of Strength of Connection. She has
spent much of her life bringing harmony to communities through music, including two decades
as a classical music conductor and seven years as a public-school music teacher. Kathleen loves
children and believes music and giraffes (the main characters in her children’s books) have much
to teach us about interdependent social living. Central to Kathleen’s work is a vision for a
peaceful, just, and sustainable world. She is committed to co-creating a world where peace
replaces violence, love replaces hate, equity replaces inequity, and all people live meaningful
lives. She passionately believes safe and inclusive schools have a critical role to play in creating
that world. In addition to being a teacher for grades 5-12 and college level classes, Kathleen has
decades of experience in school visits including school assemblies, classroom visits and working
one on one with students. Kathleen travels and teaches internationally offering facilitation,
community building and conflict transformation, using practical skills that lead to reconciliation
with ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities. She has worked with schools, community
groups, businesses, colleges, faith-based communities, hospitals, families, prison inmates, and
correctional and law enforcement employees. Kathleen’s website
is www.StrengthofConnection.com where her TEDx talks, books, workshops and music can be
found.

 Author of How Giraffe Found Their Hearts and How Giraffes Got Their Ears,
children’s story picture books, and
 Conductor for Giraffe Tales, a children’s CD setting these stories to music
 Co-author with Jared Finkelstein of Choice: A field guide for navigating the
polarization of our world and living interdependently

 Certified Trainer for the Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC)
 TEDxTalks: Houses of Healing, TEDxMonroe Correctional Complex; The Art of
Listening, TEDxRainier; Fearless Women, TedxSeattle

 Conductor on multiple Rainier Chamber Winds classical music recordings

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Book Blurb:

Long, long ago yet not so far away, Jordan Giraffe was searching for something to fill the hollow, empty space in her chest. Acting on the advice of her friends in nature, Jordan tries to fill her chest with carrots, stars, and pond water. After several unsatisfying attempts, Jordan hears the song of a young boy and follows the sound until she meets him. The boy helps Jordan hear the song inside herself, and in doing so, she discovers her own heart, the very thing she was searching for all along.

Purchase Link…https://www.amazon.com/How-Giraffes-Found-Their-Hearts/dp/1735789100/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1BC152130OBGS&keywords=how+giraffes+found+their+hearts+kathleen+macferran&qid=1662342284&sprefix=how+giraffes+found+their+heats+kathleen+macferran%2Caps%2C68&sr=8-1

Website: www.strengthofconnection.com

Mail:

Kathleen Macferran
PO Box 10009
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-0009

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Tommy Turtle by Mary & Michael Schmidt

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Mary L Schmidt, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Tommy Turtle”. Take it away, Mary…

Tommy Turtle by Mary & Michael Schmidt

I always have a book or even three books that I read, in the same week. Books have always been my thing. It seemed like every time I turned around, I was obtaining a new library card due to the current one being stamped complete. Diving into a good book made any day perfect and you would be surprised at the number of books I read over and over.  I drew paper dolls and clothes for them, and using watercolor as my medium when painting scenes, especially flowers. I continued with art in high school exploring a wide variety of arts and I loved it! The creative side of me loves to be an amateur “shutter-bug” and we have an online art gallery. In college I went into the sciences of all things and received a bachelor’s degree in the Science of Nursing. My nursing career was highly successful, and I hung up my nursing hat in December 2012, due to disability.

Now that may not seem like a writer could be born with that background, but it happened. I have published 30 + books since 2015 – from memoirs to recipe, comical memes, and illustrated children’s literature.

Tommy Turtle is my new release. School will start soon, and this is the book I wished I’d read when school started when I was a child. Tommy Turtle is a shy land turtle who likes to hide inside his shell. Tommy represents children who are shy around other children and adults, and he is nervous to play or speak. Most children are shy from time to time and it’s important for children to understand shyness and how to act around others who are or aren’t shy. Children need to know that shyness is normal, and they need positive encouragement from peers, family, and teachers/adults in their lives. Tommy Turtle helps parents and teachers reinforce positive behaviors in an imaginative setting of a park and mud puddles as they learn about land turtles and shyness. Learning and sharing are essential for social development in all children. 

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Mary L. Schmidt writes under the pen name of S. Jackson, and she is a retired registered nurse, who won the coveted Leora B. Stroup Bachelor of Science in Nursing Award for outstanding clinical performance, community involvement and academic achievement in Nursing Award, while at Fort Hays State University. She is a member of the Catholic Church, and has taught kindergarten Catechism; she has worked in various capacities for The American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, Cub and Boy Scouts, (son, Gene, is an Eagle Scout), and sponsored trips for high school music children. She loves all forms of art but mostly focuses on the visual arts; amateur photography, traditional, and graphic art as her disabilities allow. Her husband, Michael Schmidt aka A. Raymond, rounds out this co-author duo
Together they have published thirty plus books and counting since retirement; the first a memoir, When Angels Fly, followed by an Art Picture book featuring her own works of art, one cookbook, and the rest for young children. Protecting children from molestation is important to her, and with that in mind she wrote Suzy Has A Secret. Seeing what bullies can do to a child inspired her to write the book, The Big Cheese Festival. Thus far, twelve books have been published in their “Shadow and Friends” series for children. Schmidt designs all of her book covers and illustrations. 

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Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Tommy-Turtle-Mary-Schmidt-ebook/dp/B09XNTKRDQ/

Website: https://www.whenangelsfly.net

Email: mary.mmschmidt@gmail.com

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Bianca The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess by Meg Welch Dendler

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Meg Welch Dendler, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess”. Take it away, Meg…

Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess by Meg Welch Dendler

When I wrote the first version of Bianca’s story, I was in 5 th grade. It received recognition from a contest the University of Illinois, and I was hooked on being a writer. The story changed over the years. It was even a sy-fy farce at one point in college. When I began selling my writing in the 1990s, my hope was to have it be one of those beautifully illustrated picture books I grew up with. But that’s not what publishers are up to these days. As I fussed with the story itself over the years, I started to wonder what exciting things could happen to Bianca between escaping her castle tower and finding the dragon. The more I fussed, the more the tale grew. Eventually, this brave princess book developed into a specifically crafted “hero journey” tale.

I was already several years into self-publishing when I realized Bianca’s story was going to be a chapter book, and branching off into fairy-tale land was not on my radar. My Cats in the Mirror series—about my rescue cats and their lives as important aliens from a spaceship hovering not far from earth—was well underway. I even had a dog-themed companion book (Max’s Wild Night). When I showed up for in-person events, folks knew me as the “cat book lady.” How would that branding suffer if I switched to a
princess hunting a dragon? I wasn’t sure, but I knew I had to try. Bianca’s story just wouldn’t leave me alone.

So, over 2016, I polished the manuscript, ran through nearly all of it with my critique group, and enlisted my artist daughter to draw the dragon for the cover. The book was finally published in November of 2017.

In 2018, Bianca: The Brave Frail and Delicate Princess was honored as Best Juvenile Book by the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, and the reviews were wonderful. I could breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, once the first Bianca story was out in the world, I’d already started making notes for a sequel. I was distracted for a bit by a Christmas book in the cat series and a syfy novel for adults, but Bianca: Journey to Ryuugito flew into the world in February of 2022.

It has been a weird time to publish new stories, but my view of books is that they are forever. It may take a while for Bianca to find her feet, but she’s not going anywhere. And yes, I have notes for Book 3 already.

One of the main things I share with kids who tell me they love to write is to save those stories. It doesn’t matter how silly they may seem. You never know what it might develop into.

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Meg Welch Dendler is the author of nine middle grade books: her Cats in the Mirror series and the
Princess Bianca series. She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her family and possibly alien rescue cats.

Book Blurb:

Princess Bianca had never set foot outside the castle walls. Not once in her over-protected, pink, fluffy life. But when a dragon was spotted in the land and fear spread that the monster had conquered the king and his brave knights, Bianca realized that it was her duty to protect her kingdom. She will have to prove that she can be braver and stronger than anyone believed because the threat outside the protection of her castle tower was more dangerous and magical than she ever imagined possible.Perfect book for fairy-tale fans and dragon-lovers alike!

Website: www.megdendler.com

Blog: www.megdendler.blogspot.com

Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/megdendler

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MegDendlerAuthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MegWelchDendler

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Baa Baa Tap Sheep by Kenda Henthorn

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week children’s book author, Kenda Henthorn, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Baa Baa Tap Sheep”. Take it away, Kenda…

Baa Baa Tap Sheep by Kenda Henthorn

The May 2022 publication of my debut picture book, BAA, BAA, TAP SHEEP (illustrated by the award-winning illustrator, Lauren Gallegos and published by Sleeping Bear Press) has been a life-long dream of mine, literally decades in the making!

I’ve always loved books and dreamed o writing my own stories! As a kid, I saved all my babysitting money, eager to race to the bookstore to buy all my latest obsessions. In middle school, my best friend and I began writing our own sill stories and in high school, I took my first Creative Writing class. Inspired and guided, the teacher had us each submit our more polished, original works and when my very first poems and articles were published, I was HOOKED!

But soon after that came graduation, then collage, marriage, careers, a couple of interstate moves, and kids. You get it. I set my writing aside for many years. Yet something stirred in me every time I read books to my young sons. I wanted to write sweet, fun and funny stories, too! But where was the time? How could I ever learn to write well? And really, whoever gets to be an author?!

I’d worked in Higher Education for d3cad3s but when my sons were young, I retired from that career and moved instead into public education, taking a job as a Middle School Librarian Assistant. It didn’t pay much but the hours were exactly what I needed and the joy and benefits of being around all those books? Yes, please!

Then in 1997, I attended my very first Librarian conference called “Encyclomedia” and there, I found all the answers to my questions. Every speaker there exalted the benefits of becoming a member of the Society of Children’s Book writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). So I joined!

Tami Sauer’s picture book, Cowboy Camp, caught my attention and kept it )it’s incredibly fun and clever)! So I aspired to also always capture fun and clever elements in my writing, too!

And I met Anna Myers, author of the MG novel, The Keeping Room, at Enclyclomedia that year, too. During her presentation, Anna said she hadn’t started writing until she was in her 40’s! Closing in on my 40’s then, too, Anna had, with that one statement, dispelled all my fears that it was too late for me. Instead, I felt a fire to get my writing career started…immediately! How inspirational and empowering to know I hadn’t missed out on being able to become an author ” at my age, and I told Anna that, as she signed my copy of her book. Inside, I watched as she wrote “One day you will sign a book for me!“, and now, after almost a quarter of a century, I finally can!

With my debut book, BAA, BAA, TAP SHEEP hokey-pokey prancing its way out into the world now, I can assure you that every step in this loooong path toward publication, planned and unplanned, is incredibly valuable! Every step helped me ensure a strong foundation on which to build a creative career!

As Anna Myers encouraged me, I hope “One day you will sign a book for me”, too!

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Kenda is originally from Pennsylvania and grew up behind the scenes on her parents’ western movie sets. Those dramas fueled her dreams since she was a kid on a pony.

She works in the aviation industry now, so it’s no surprise that her writing inspirations and aspirations are sky-high, too! Kenda resides in Oklahoma and when the winds aren’t sweeping down the plains, she enjoys flying, kayaking, and riding horses or her motorcycle. (Vroom-vroom!)

She has served as a Regional Coordinator for the Oklahoma SCBWI and a Best in Rhyme Award committee member and judge.

Book Blurb:

As a trio of tired tos settles into bed for the night, the sheep who should be helping them settle down to slumber kick up their hooves instead in an energetic dance performance. Starting with one little lamb and counting up to 10, these “sleep” sheep tap, waltz, tango, and even boogie as they get their nighttime groove on. But finally, after their energy is danced out, nap sheep lull everyone to sleep.

Amazon purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Baa-Tap-Sheep-Kenda-Henthorn/dp/1534111565/ref=sr_1_1?crid=9B411E0LI8TO&keywords=baa+baa+tap+sheep&qid=1659310459&sprefix=baa+baa+tap+sheep%2Caps%2C124&sr=8-1

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kendahenthorn

Website: https://www.kendahenthorn.net/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kenda.henthorn

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Twas The Night Before Christmas…A First For Gus by Sherry Roberts

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week my friend and children’s book author, Sherry Roberts, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Twas The Night Before Christmas…A First For Gus”. Take it away, Sherry…

Twas The Night Before Christmas…A First For Gus by Sherry Roberts

I have always enjoyed making up stories or re-writing stories. When my nephew and nieces were little, I would read to them and sometimes the stories were not what was actually written on the page. Later we began to make-up stories together.

Fast forward a few years and they are grown but I still felt compelled to follow a dream. I began writing down some of the stories from years past that I had written only in my head. One evening while watching a Christmas movie, I heard a character read a different version of Twas the Night Before Christmas. How could they do that and how many different ways had already been written? The research began.

I had tried writing a story about a little family of basset hounds. My family always had one growing up and now I had my own, who was the sister to my brother’s family dog and my sister’s family dog. How could I use the direction I was writing but use the story Twas the Night Before Christmas? Thus, the story began. The family of basset hounds changed to a little one living in a shelter. Once the story was written, I felt it was important to help children understand the responsibilities of having a pet. That’s where the backmatter came about. Working with, Clarissa Willis, my editor, it was her suggestion that instead of waiting for the second book to come out, it would be fun to add a “gift from Gus” by providing a QR code at the end. This QR code leads the reader to the story of what happens on Christmas morning when the family finds little Gus asleep under their tree.

This is my debut picture book and is a medal finalist in the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Book Awards (to be awarded July 30, 2022). The release date was 10 days after I turned 66, proving it is never to late to fulfill you dreams.

My second book, Sonnet, Sonnet, What’s In Your Bonnet? will release in late 2023. This book is a fiction-non-fiction book telling about different flowers in Sonnet’s garden with interesting “facts and tales” about each. I started to get serious about photography when I turned 64 and this book features my floral photography as the illustrations.

I have met so many wonderful writers along this adventure through critique groups, SCBWI, and social media. I encourage anyone to follow your dreams no matter your age.

Here’s is the book’s blurb:

It’s the night before Christmas and Gus just can’t sleep. He lives in a shelter and longs for a home of his very own. Suddenly, he hears a loud noise and looks outside to find Santa Claus. As they ride off into the night sky together, Gus has no idea that one of the houses he will visit is his new forever home.

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Sherry Roberts has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from the University of Louisville. She has taught 36 years from middle school to collegiate. Sherry has been instrumental in setting up technology camps for K-6 graders, providing educational workshops for K-12, and working with small businesses on social media. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as a member of 12×12.

Sherry comes from a creative family that filled her spirit with reading and music. When she is not teaching or writing, she fills her time taking photos or playing with her rescue dog, Gizzie.

Want to connect?

Website: Children’s Author | SJRobertsCreative

Email: sjroberts@sjrobertscreative.net

Instagram: Sherry Roberts (@sjrobertscreative) • Instagram photos and videos

Twitter: Sherry Roberts, author and educator (@SherryR17552573) / Twitter

Facebook: (1) Sjrobertscreative | Facebook

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Memory Trap by Linda Joy Singleton

When I started this new blog post series, I did it with the idea of sharing the WHY I created my stories, but then I thought…why not share OTHER authors STORY BEHIND “THEIR” STORY? I put the call out and soon I had tons of authors who wanted to share their backstories with my readers. This week my friend and children’s book author, Linda Joy Singleton, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Memory Trap”. Take it away, Linda…

Memory Trap by Linda Joy Singleton

The idea for my middle-grade futuristic mystery MEMORY TRAP stems from my fascination with memories. As a child, I realized that memories faded away. So my best friend and I created “Memory Boxes,” saving letters, postcards, photos, report cards, and other personal things. One unusual item in my box was a wax frog I’d won at a party. To preserve memories, I also kept diaries. I still have my first diary which was a gift when I was eleven.

 The first entry from my very first diary:

 June 19: Got up. Played, ate, and smashed Eddie’s finger. Went to coast. Had fun. Swam at beach. Eddie got into my diary—so he’s in for it now! Went to bed.

Disclaimer: I didn’t smash my brother Eddie’s finger on purpose—we got along really well and still do.

Keeping diaries and journals has taught me two surprising things.

  1. When I read about events I don’t remember, often the memory comes back as if my brain is a computer. The written memory connects me to forgotten data—like a Google link to the past.
  2.  My memories of past events are often wrong.

Thinking about memories led to questions that intrigued me: What would it be like to have someone else’s memories? How would it happen? Would you still have your own memories? Would you stay yourself or become someone else?  

The plot for MEMORY TRAP took shape. I imagined an island in the future created by scientists who cured all illnesses and controlled aging so no one appeared over 25. Death only happened by accident—or murder. And “Lost Ones” were replaced in “Families” by transferring their memories into youths. Jennza is one of these youths. Unlike her birth-mates, though, she doesn’t follow rules and yearns to explore beyond the fence. She fears gaining new memories that will tie her to a family in a role of sister/mother/daughter to strangers. “If I have someone else’s memories,” she worries, “will I still be me?” Jennza’s determination to stay herself leads her far from the life she expected—and into danger.

One morning an opening line popped in my head:

“Get down, Jennza—or you’ll die!” 

“Don’t be dramatical,” I call out to Lorelei, my fingers curling around steel mesh as I dangle midway up the Fence.  “No one dies anymore.”

I wrote two pages quickly but it had a long journey of rewrites and publishing challenges when its first publisher closed. Now I’m excited that for its release by Clear Fork Publishing. I especially love the gorgeous cover by talented artist, Dea Lenihan. I hope you’ll enjoy MEMORY TRAP!

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Linda Joy Singleton is the author of over 55 books for young readers, including the CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB series, and picture books SUN & SON, CRANE & CRANE, and CASH KAT. She’s a longtime member of SCBWI and Sisters in Crime, and a frequent speaker at conferences, libraries, and school. She lives in Northern California in the foothills where she and her husband enjoy a menagerie of animals including horses, cats, dogs, peacocks, ducks, pigs, and a family of Dexter mini-cows. For fun activities, free stories, writing advice, and the latest news check out her website: www.LindaJoySingleton.com.