THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Gracie and the Radar Girls by Karen J Moore

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, Karen J Moore, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Gracie and the Radar Girls”. Take it away, Karen…

Gracie and the Radar Girls by Karen J Moore

I’ve always loved story in any form, from theater to the written word. I was that kid who loved to read, especially anything with a mystery or twist that challenged my ability to figure it out before the end. With five published fiction picture books (traditionally published, hybrid published and self-published} I thought that was my niche, until I met Gracie.

I’d been attending a Writing For Publication class for sometime when Gracie accompanied her husband, Garner, to class one day. At the time, she was in her early nineties and spoke with eloquence as she related her story of service during World War ll. I was so taken with her memories of serving in Hawaii with an elite group of women known as the WOMEN’S AIR RAID DEFENSE (WARD}, that I wanted to know more. Many months later, I contacted her and asked if I could interview her and possibly write a historical nonfiction picture book about her experience. She quickly and graciously accepted.

I had the privilege of spending many hours with her as she answered my questions and shared her pictures, memories, and her personal writing on her time spent in an underground tunnel codenamed LIZARD. 

The Army began a clandestine recruitment of island women and officer’s wives shortly after the bombing on Pearl Harbor. They tested the women in math, science, technology and memory skills to ensure they would be able to train them in the top-secret field of RADAR. The WARD was the first organized group of women to take over for military men during World War ll in a war zone in defense of an American territory. 

In 1943, the military began a secret recruitment program on the mainland, as they needed more women to ensure the plotting room was fully staffed around the clock. While working at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, Gracie heard about their effort. She went to the Presidio in San Francisco and applied. She underwent extensive testing and a FBI background check.

At the age of nineteen, she boarded a Liberty ship and headed into the unknown.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed researching and fact-checking the WARD and how little was known about their service. Perhaps nonfiction is a new avenue of exploration for me.



Book Blurb:

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the army began a clandestine recruitment of intelligent, young women to be trained in the top-secret field of RADAR. In an unprecedented replacement of military men with civilian women, the WOMEN’S AIR RAID DEFENSE (WARD) was formed. 

Just sixteen when World War ll upturned life in America, Grace Hudlow (Gracie) could not imagine the part she would play working in an underground, bomb-proof tunnel at Fort Shafter on the island of Oahu with an elite group of women known as the WARD.

The last time I saw Gracie was on her 95th birthday, she died two months later in May of 2020.

Purchase options: GRACIE AND THE RADAR GIRLS is available on Amazon, Barnes and and in hardcover or softcover ISBN:9781952467110 or 9781952467103


About the Author:

Karen J Moore was born in a small town in Texas. She moved to California at the age of six, to an even smaller town. She worked as a Title I Instructional Aide for Sierra Unified School District, where she received Employee of the Year for the district in 2009. His titles include “Jurney of the Knight”, “Pen the Tale”, “Oogie”, “A Story For CleoCatra”, and “Drots the Dragobotosaurus”. She loves combining curiosity with imagination and creating word magic.

Want to connect:

email: [email protected]


Facebook: Karen Moore

Instagram: @karen_j_moore or @kcmonkeybug

Twitter: @KCmonkeybug

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Neverlore by Taya Okerlund

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, Taya Okerlund, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Neverlore”. Take it away, Taya…

Nevorlore by Taya Okerlund

“Neverlore” is my first middle grade novel. I have published and won awards previously, but I wrote this book for my daughter. She loves all things fantastical and is a very precocious reader, having taught herself to read at two years, before she could speak spontaneously. My daughter adores books, though she is also very particular. She doesn’t favor realism, and she loves dragons, but whatever the story, it had better be full of wonder. 

I had my work cut out for me, because not only did I have to satisfy her high standards, but I also had to satisfy mine. It wasn’t enough for me that this book should be magical–it also had to be honest. I wanted it to be morally bright without becoming patronizing. It’s taken years, folks, years of hard work. And it ultimately became a family effort. Naomi insisted on the inclusion of hyenas–at the time she was four-years-old and experiencing great sympathies with these less favored creatures. I wrote the hyena scene and then my husband got hold of it and lit that scene on fire! He and my daughter are mostly editorial support, but I take many of their suggestions and corrections. Naomi can read over my shoulder and catch spelling or grammatical errors. She’s nine, almost ten, presently. 

“Neverlore” is not yet published. I decided I wanted to do an audiobook for the project, so I have been honing my voice acting/recording skills, but it is freely subscribable on Youtube @bookerlunds, where you can listen to the story in chapter segments. I hope you will. 


Book blurb…

Warning: rebel boys and indomitable girls are a combustible combination in this Neverland spy thriller of unlikely friendships and swashbuckling adventure!

Annabelle Silvers is no Childerbridge orphan–her father is all-too-well-known, and she may never live down the shame of his incarceration–but she’s dead certain he is innocent–most of the time. She’ll have to go to the ends of the earth to find out the absolute truth…about Never, about her father, and ultimately, about herself.

YouTube Link…


About the Author:

Taya Okerlund won several awards for her adult Japanese mythological fantasy SHIN. She’s an author, a teacher and a homeschooling mom. In her youth she traveled through Asia extensively and speaks both Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.

Want to connect?

YouTube channel:


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, Bill Kirk, is sharing the WHY he wrote his book, “A Whale Of A Tale”. Take it away, Bill…

A Whale Of A Tale by Bill Kirk

Every book has a story, right?  I mean, sure, there’s the story that’s INSIDE the book.  You know which story I’m talking about—a story about bugs or kids or adventures that you can hardly wait to read because in some way the main character reminds you of YOU—or someone you can imagine being while reading every page and chapter.

But did you know there is another story that could be just as curious or engaging as the story in the pages and images inside the book?  Yep!  That’s right.  Before a story is ever written or a book is ever finally published, every author has a story idea, not to mention the images in his or her head.  That’s when the places and especially the characters in the story are just waiting for their story to be told—or, even better yet, written.

So, what about “A Whale Of A Tale”?  Are you wondering how a story about a boy and a whale came to be?  There had to be at least some ideas bouncing around my head in the “here and now”, right?  And surely those ideas must have taken me on an imaginary journey to a very different place or time or both.  Well, if you are wondering, you came to the right place!  So, let’s puzzle those questions out a bit, shall we?  The prose or rhyming thing can be sorted out later….

*  *  *  *  *

Once upon a time, my family and I went to the beach for a short vacation.  The California Central Valley isn’t very close to Pacific Coast beaches, mind you.  But we’re close enough to get there in a couple hours.  So, off we went, all packed and ready to stay in a quaint little beach house in Bodega Bay for a week—no school; no work; no troubles to get in the way of pure enjoyment, FOR A WHOLE WEEK!  ?

The first day, we settled in and checked things out.  But after that, each morning I would take an early walk on the beach before my family woke up.  Partly, I wanted to do a bit of exploring in the morning quiet and let my thoughts wander.  Doesn’t everyone?

The beach had plenty of sand, of course.  But there were also some perfect little rocky outcrops and small hilly overlooks with several winding paths leading down to the water’s edge.  On my walks, although tempted to shed my shoes, I was careful to keep them on until I reached the sand, mostly because I didn’t want to risk hurting my bare feet on sharp edges.  After all, that might have made for a short vacation, right?  Or, at least, I might have been hobbled up inside that cute little cottage—and I knew I could only stand so much of a good thing…. ?

Truthfully, my main worry about getting sidelined by an injury was possibly shortening my morning mental meanderings stimulated by the steady sound of surf washing ashore during my strolls along the strand.  Besides, who knows what curiosities the waves might carry in that I could very easily miss.  Perhaps even more importantly, what would my imagination miss by not actually being present for the incoming tides?

You guessed it!  Every morning, wispy waves washed over the sand before breaking amid those nifty little rocky convolutions.  And at the water’s edge, there was a treasure trove of sea life visible along the shifting, sandy boundary between sea and rocky outcrops.  Who knows what sea life might become stranded there, just waiting to be found and even helped back into the water…? 

Think of the possibilities:  Shells?  Why, they are everywhere.  Crabs?  They scurry around every morning, right?  Small fish now and again?  Sure, some can be seen flopping around in just the right spot to be carried out with the receding surf.  Others?  Not so lucky.  ?  But what about a porpoise?  And how about a baby whale?  Who knows?  Why not?  It could happen, right? 

And… that’s… when… the seeds of the story S-L-O-W-L-Y set their roots in my imagination, stimulated by sand, surf and sea life—and, yeah, just a few miles eastward—you know, New England?  Guess it’s time for a little whaling research. 

Oh, and it’s gonna be written in rhyme?  Hendecasyllabic!  Piece of cake….  ?


Book blurb…

A young boy (Artemus Zachary William McGill) lives in a fishing port with his mom.  His sea captain father passed away years before.  Although Will is only 11 years old, he longs to become a sailor as his dad had been.  He can hardly wait to reach his 12th birthday when he will be old enough to become a Cabin Boy.  One day while down by the shore, Will saves a beached baby whale, making a lifelong friend of the baby whale and its mother watching just off shore. 

In less than a year, the baby whale had grown up.  Just by happenstance after a huge storm at sea, the whale and its mother save Will and the crews of a pair of storm-damage whaling ships where Will is now a Cabin Boy.  This miracle changes Will’s life forever, along with the lives of all the sailors and others living in the whaling village.” 

Purchase Link: 


About the Author:  

Kirk’s writing has been influenced by his many years of traveling and two careers in the U.S. Air Force and the California Department of Social Service.  Married for nearly 53 years, he also notes that his children and grandchildren have given him loads of material to play with. 

In addition to his whale book, three of his 14 children’s picture books include one about a spider, another about a beetle and a third about a kitchen full of ants.  Now, don’t those books sound fun?!  Bill has also written poetry, fiction and satire.  His work has appeared in several magazines and journals over the years.  And, of course, there is the never-ending novel of political intrigue in perpetual revision….

Want to connect?


E-mail: [email protected] .

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Rescuing JFK by Alan C. Elliott & Anna A. Kwai

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, Alan C. Elliott, is sharing the WHY he wrote his book, “Rescuing JFK”. Take it away, Alan…

Rescuing JFK by Alan C. Elliott & Anna A. Kwai

The story behind writing the chapter book Rescuing JFK: How Solomon Islanders Rescued JFK and the Crew of the PT-109 started a long time ago. I’ve always been a fan of history books and read through The Outline of History by H.G. Wells (and similar books) while in elementary school. So, when I began writing, I tended toward that genre. The first book of history I wrote was a collection of short biographies of inventors, inventions, and how people became famous. (A Daily Dose of the American Dream) Later, I wrote a history of the area where I grew up in Dallas (Images of America: Oak Cliff), and another book that featured stories of famous Texans. (Texas Ingenuity) Then I partnered with a history professor and wrote a brief history of the United States. Of course, this text included the dramatic events of the Cuban missile crisis when John F. Kennedy was president. My other interest was in children’s books, and I’ve had two picture books published. (On Sunday the Wind Came and Willy the Texas Longhorn

Fast forward to a little over a year ago when I was talking to some friends who were missionaries in the Solomon Islands, (particularly Martha Matzke) and working with their Education Department of the Solomon Islands to help with literacy. 

One type of book they wanted for the Solomon Islands kids was histories told from the country’s perspective. They had in mind a particular story that is the pride of the Solomon Islands Coastwatcher Scouts history during World War II. By helping the US and Australian armies, the scouts were able to help free their Islands from invaders. One particular incident that changed the course of world history was when two Scouts rescued Lieutenant John F. Kennedy and the Crew of the PT-109 (Patrol Torpedo Boat) after it was rammed and broken in half by a Japanese destroyer.

So, I began the process of researching the story of the rescue. To do this, I partnered with a Solomon Island historian named Anna Kwai, whose expertise included Solomon Island history during World War II. After studying the oral histories of the Scouts, getting information from living relatives, researching documents from the JFK library, and other material, we wrote the story. Careful attention was paid to telling the story in a way that honored the country’s cultural heritage.  

An American illustrator, Evelyn Morgan, and book designer Cindy Rodella-Purdy also worked with Anna, Martha, and others in the Solomon Islands to ensure every leaf and canoe in every illustration was exactly right.  

The result was an illustrated chapter book that has been well received by people all over the country. It was even presented as a gift to JFK’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, at a World War II commemoration ceremony honoring the Coastwatcher Scouts in August, 2022. We’re hoping this book will not only provide Solomon Islands kids with a story that honors their culture, but one enjoyed by people around the world interested in this important story that changed the world by making famous a U.S. Navy Lieutenant who would later become the President of the United States.

Now, Rescuing JFK: How Solomon Islanders Rescued JFK and the Crew of the PT-109, is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and bookstores everywhere.

Photo credit; Stefan Armbruster


Book blurb:

Rescuing JFK is the story of the PT-109’s dramatic rescue in World War II – told from the perspective of the two Solomon Islands Scouts who saved the crew. In this story, future president John F. Kennedy’s patrol torpedo boat (PT-109) is rammed by a Japanese destroyer and sunk during World War II. Two young Solomon Islanders, Scouts for the Australian Royal Navy’s Coastwatchers, rescue the crew in a daring adventure that shaped Kennedy’s (and America’s) future. These heroic deeds (of Biuku Gasa, Aaron Kumana) had a long-lasting effect on American history.

Available at these links


Barnes & Noble


Sandman Books


About the Author:

Alan C. Elliott is an author of over 25 books and numerous articles on history, innovation, ethics, and computing – as well as two picture books and a screenplay. Alan served on the UT Southwestern Medical Center faculty for 30 years and at SMU for six years. In addition, he’s served on academic, civic, and community boards, including Executive Director of Baby Moses Dallas, a non-profit organization with a mission to prevent violence against infants. He also founded the Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG) to help writers achieve their dream of being published.

Alan’s latest books include Rescuing JFK: How Solomon Islanders Rescued John F. Kennedy and the Crew of the PT-109. (August 2022), Dreams That Built America (Thomas Nelson, October 2022), Willy the Texas Longhorn (Pelican, picture book, 2013), Texas Ingenuity (History Press, 2016)

Want to Connect?

Alan’s website is




THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: A World Beyond The Rainbow by Adrita Goswami

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, Adrita Goswami, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “A World Beyond The Rainbow”. Take it away, Adrita…

A World Beyond The Rainbow by Adrita Goswami

Inspired by the fairy tales I read as a child, I wrote my first book “A World Beyond The Rainbow” when I was thirteen. It was the idea of this book that made me realize I wanted to be an author. I am grateful to my parents for giving me the courage to pursue my literary dreams. My father also helped me with the illustrations and self-publishing process. I am glad we made the decision to self publish my first book on Amazon. It gave me some perks like creative freedom and being able to make changes.

I like colorful concepts so I chose the butterfly and the rainbow. The first title that came to my mind was “Beyond the Rainbow.” But I had no idea where it would lead me. I started writing down my ideas in a spiral notebook and eventually the story took shape. I also started sketching the characters and scenes. Some of the skeches were used as references for the final illustrations and some were altered. However, the title was changed to “A World Beyond The Rainbow” when it got published. I wanted the title of my first book to begin with the letter A.

While writing the story, I wondered if I should add an antagonist and some conflicts. But then I decided to create a simple, feel-good fairy tale. Stories full of action and adventure are undoubtedly fun to read, but sometimes we just want to curl up with a book that makes us feel happy and relaxed. I want readers to feel satisfied after reading the book. It can be read as a bedtime story, or on a rainy day or even a lazy day. It makes me really happy when I read reviews from parents saying that their children loved the book. 

The power of kindness and imagination is the main theme in this story. It shows how a small kind deed can change someone’s life in an unexpected way. I hope my book inspires children to discover the magic that is all around them in the form of sunbeams, butterflies, raindrops, rainbows etc. The natural world is no less beautiful than a Fairyland, although we can’t see fairies fluttering around. Magic can be found in the wings of a butterfly, in the glistening raindrops, and in the colors of the rainbow as well. I think the beauty of this story lies in how the different elements of nature are woven together to tell a fairy tale. The protagonist of the story, Iris represents the reader who discovers magic in the mundane, while the fairies represent the magic of nature. 

I personally like the rain, but most people, especially children, feel bored on rainy days as they can’t go outside. So I tried to show the positive side of a seemingly boring rainy day and added a list of ten fun activities to do at home. Some of the activities include making blanket forts, painting a rainbow in watercolor, fairytale scavenger hunting, and making paper boats. I still have many plans for this book and I can’t wait to share them with my readers!


Book blub:

On a rainy day, Iris saves a beautiful butterfly from the clutches of a spider. To her surprise, the butterfly turns into a lovely rainbow fairy. The fairy takes Iris to a wonderful world beyond the rainbow. Explore the magical world of fairies in this beautifully illustrated children’s book.

Purchase Link:


About The Author:

Adrita Goswami is a published author and illustrator of children’s books. She began spinning tales of fantasy and adventure when she was six, and wrote her first book “A World Beyond The Rainbow” at the age of thirteen. Her other books include “The Magical Garden,” “Little White Angel,” and “The Princess and the Golden Hart” which has been published by Ukiyoto Publishing. She also writes poems and short stories for anthologies. When she is not writing, Adrita enjoys reading, painting, listening to music, and spending time with animals. She is deeply interested in Literature, Psychology, and Art. She is presently working on her upcoming books.

Contact link:

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.


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



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.




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.


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:


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

Find Stephanie at:


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.


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!


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


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:
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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. 


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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Email: [email protected]

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.


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!