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:
Purchase Link:

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. 


Purchase Link:



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!






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!


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:




THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Georgia’s Far-Away Family by Marie Robert

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, Marie Robert, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Georgia’s Far-Away Family”. Take it away, Marie…

Georgia’s Far-Away Family by Marie Robert

When I was a little girl, I moved around a lot thanks to my father’s job. I loved being in exotic places, switching schools never bothered me and I still feel it was a wonderful way to grow up. I learnt about the world and its different cultures and people. The only problem was that I didn’t see my extended family that much when we were posted outside of Ireland. As I grew up, I continued to move around and I married a man from a different country. After moving around together we finally settled in France.

All that might not seem like it’s about writing but I assure you…it is.

I have always written; poetry, essays, the starts of novels I knew I would never finish. So when I had children, I started writing for them. I wrote stories, read them to my three little girls and then put them away. Until I wrote a story about a girl called Georgia and read it to my two elder children. Their eyes widened and my eldest said, “Hey, that girl is just like us!”. She was right. Georgia’s Far-Away Family is about a little girl who doesn’t live in the same place as her extended family, like me when I was young, and like my own children now. It struck me that in our increasingly global world, what was unusual when I was a child is now very common. Third culture children, multilingual families and people that move from place to place are EVERYWHERE. So, I decided to work on getting Georgia’s Far-Away Family out into the world. I also decided that since we are a bilingual family and we live in France, I should do it in two languages. The French title is Georgia et sa Famille Autour du Monde.

Over the next few months, I was in overdrive. During the day I treated my pediatric patients (I am a speech pathologist by trade), looked after my girls, and then after bedtime I edited and reedited, translated, met online with my illustrator, the fabulous Maryam FeyziChakab (she lives in a far-away place and has a far-away family too), and generally talked the ear off my very patient husband.

It was all so exciting but I was a novice to self-publishing and that meant it was not always smooth sailing. France is very strict about children’s literature in particular so as well as the normal tasks there were laws and rules to check as well. The translation was such an interesting process. We speak both languages at home and as I worked on it, I rediscovered how poetic French can be and got to appreciate how they do not ‘dumb down’ language for children. The turn of phrase was so beautiful that I even went back and fixed a few things in the English version.

Finally, it was all ready. I had the beautiful hard back copies in my living room and the paper backs for sale online.

Georgia had become a reality and I am so proud of all that represents to me, my children, and to the millions of children living in different places. Many parents who have read the book tell me their children really identify with Georgia and her family and that is worth its weight in gold!


Marie Robert is an Irish Speech and Language Pathologist and children’s author. Marie loves to travel and has moved around a lot! After living in Singapore for many years she finally settled in Paris where she currently lives with her husband and three daughters. In her day job Marie is passionate about improving the lives of children with language disorders and she is a firm advocate for bilingualism. Her children’s book “Georgia’s Far-Away Family” can be purchased in either French or English and is for ages 3-7.



Want to contact Marie about books for your children or a school? Write to her at

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Callabee’s Colossal Feelings by Courtney 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, Courtney Williams, shares the WHY behind her book, “Callabee’s Colossal Feelings”. Take it away, Courtney…

Callabee’s Colossal Feelings by Courtney Williams

I grew up feeling that I could never express how I was truly feeling, and I knew I wanted something different for my daughter. We openly discuss our feelings and how different events make us feel, and it’s so rewarding. So I wrote Callabee’s Colossal Feelings. It is full of sayings I often say to my daughter and illustrates our interactions when discussing these feelings. I always want to make sure she is heard and feels comfortable and safe expressing herself. 

Here’s the book’s blurb:

Meet Callabee! Many things make her unique! Her super incredible dog Gumbo, the art she creates, but the most special part of Callabee is her feelings! Take a trip into Callabee’s world and see that feelings big or small should be acknowledged and celebrated!
Callabee’s Co

lossal Feelings is a beautifully illustrated book created to acknowledge and encourage children to express how they are feeling.


Courtney Williams is a young mom who loves creating in various mediums. Whether it’s writing children’s stories, creating a new recipe in the kitchen, or hand-making accessories, Courtney is always creating. She is a first-time author and plans to continue on her journey to deliver stories to kids around the world. She is an avid reader and pet lover! You will often see characters inspired by her dogs or lizards in her stories.  

Purchase links:


Barnes & Noble…;jsessionid=EF1D90E3EF314FF9FC1A31519A9B627C.prodny_store01-atgap15?ean=9781088027424

Want to connect?


THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Did Dinosaurs Have Dentists: by Patrick O’Donnell

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, Patrick O’Donnell, is sharing the WHY he wrote his book, “Did Dinosaurs Have Dentists?”. Take it away, Patrick…

Did Dinosaurs Have Dentists? by Patrick O’Donnell

When I finally scratched up the courage to pursue my dream of becoming an author, there was a tiny voice inside of my head saying, “Really? Is right now the best time for this? Shouldn’t you wait until things calm down?”

It was 2015, and most days it felt like I was stuck in the grey fog of nightmares. After about 6 years as a stay-at-home Dad and freelance writer, my world was turning upside down.

Among other things, I was 1) in the middle of a divorce and custody battle 2) trying to reinvent my career with a full-time job in advertising 3) struggling to maintain a civil relationship with my adoptive parents, who were upset I’d discovered my birth family. Raised as an only child, it turned out I was actually the youngest of nine! It was quite a revelation after nearly 50 years — and Mom and Dad felt threatened.

My days went something like this: Wake, feed the boys, race them to daycare, race to work, juggle deadlines, snarkiness and stress for a shift, then race back to daycare before late fees kicked in. I’d get home, make dinner, and spend a little time with my guys before getting them to bed. Then I’d finish leftover work from my day job or catch up on freelance projects before stumbling off to bed myself.

Somewhere in all this, my younger son needed to have a cavity filled — and that’s what sparked the idea for Did Dinosaurs Have Dentists?

We were driving to the dentist, and he was scared, dreading the drill, and trying to convince me the cavity would fix itself if we just “let it go.”

Not wanting to delve into Disney tune territory, and unwilling to run all his food through a blender for the foreseeable future, I played around with alliteration to occupy his mind. He loved dinosaurs, and the image of a tyrannosaurus and a squashed tube of toothpaste popped into my head. Soon, we were laughing over questions like, “Did a brachiosaurus ever need braces?”

The distraction worked wonders for both of us, and I found myself jotting notes on a cell phone in the waiting room.

Over the next year, working on the book helped me to focus and stay positive despite the chaos around me. And when it was time to find an illustrator, my new-found brother said, “Do you know you have a nephew who’s an amazing artist?”

A few phone calls and emails later, and I was working with the incredibly talented Erik Mehlen — the adult son of one my sisters. By 2017, we were ready for the next step, and I sent our samples to Schiffer Publishing. In 2018, Did Dinosaurs Have Dentists? rolled off the printing press. Sadly, Dad passed away before he saw it — but Mom loved it, and it helped melt away some of her resentment.

Here’s the book’s blurb:

“What if a brachiosaurus needed braces? If a tyrannosaurus used toothpaste, would it squash the tube? A young child on the way to a dental checkup wonders if dinosaurs ever had cavities and if they had to brush their teeth, floss, get braces, and use fluoride or mouthwash. This whimsical picture book includes eleven common terms related to dental and oral health, along with a glossary of name pronunciations and fun, scientific facts about each of the eleven dinosaurs mentioned in the story. It takes an imaginative, humorous look at dinosaurs’ dental health and eases children’s fears about going to the dentist, while cleverly encouraging them to take care of their own teeth.”

After the success of Dinosaurs, Erik and I teamed up for our second Schiffer book, Do Penguins Have Pediatricians? which came out in 2019 — and was also inspired by my sons.

These days I’m working on two other projects close to my heart: A going-to-bed book for children on the autism spectrum, and the story of a young lady who rescues wild animals. Both were inspired by people in my life — and someday soon, I hope to tell the story behind their stories, too.


Patrick O’Donnell is a writer, editor and children’s book author who lives outside Boyertown, Pennsylvania with his two sons and their furred and feathered menagerie.

He has been writing stories since he was eight years old, and he’s only ever had two cavities. Patrick’s held many jobs, including copy editor, cook, landscaper, photographer, and even small-engine mechanic, but his favorite jobs are writer and father.

His boys used to be afraid of the dentist, but they love to visit now. They also love dinosaurs, spaghetti, story time … and leaving Legos on the floor.

Want to connect?


THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Spring! Time To Build A Nest by Barbara Renner

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, Barbara Renner, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Spring! Time To Build A Nest”. Take it away, Barbara…

Spring! Time To Build A Nest by Barbara Renner

As a little girl, I wrote silly mysteries because my favorite books to read were the Nancy Drew series. At the time, I never envisioned myself becoming an author, but my life took many turns that included some form of writing – newsletters, business education articles, website copy, a policy and a procedure manual. After graduating from college, I taught language arts, writing, English 101, to name a few. My life was a whirlwind of activity, especially raising two children and teaching. Then I retired from teaching, and the whirlwind stopped.

Life should have been idyllic. My husband and I bought a summer home in Minnesota to escape the Phoenix, Arizona heat, so I played golf, planted a garden, lunched with neighbors, fished; nothing could be better, right? But something was missing. I wanted to keep being productive in my life, be worthy, contribute to the world. While on the boat fishing with my husband, I was enraptured by the most beautiful creature, a Common Loon floating in front of us.

Now was my chance to write something different, children’s picture books, because I wanted children to read about loons. The teacher in me loves alliteration, so I named my main character Lonnie the Loon, and planned on having Lonnie be curious about his surroundings. I asked the Minnesotans questions, because they adore their state bird, I read books, I researched wildlife sites on the Internet, and learned all about the folklore and life history of the Common Loon. I started out with a hybrid publisher, but then decided to self-publish my four Lonnie the Loon books.

Another fascinating bird in Minnesota is the Trumpeter Swan. When I visited the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Rochert, Minnesota, I learned they were once on the endangered species list. One gentleman told me about a restoration project in the 1980s to reestablish the Trumpeter Swan population in the Midwest. Swan eggs were flown on commercial airlines from Alaska to Minnesota where they were incubated, hatched, and reared. Once again, I felt compelled to share Trumpeter Swans with children through picture books.

My plan was to write four books about a Trumpeter Swan family, beginning in Spring when they build their nests and continuing through the four seasons. I wrote SPRING! TIME TO BUILD A NEST and SUMMER! TIME TO SEARCH FOR FOOD, but stopped with those two because we sold our home in Minnesota and are now full-time residents in Arizona where the interest is more with quails and rattlesnakes. Even though Arizona doesn’t have the weather nor large lakes to provide the right habitat for loons and Trumpeter Swans, I visit schools to read my books. I facilitate a compare and contrast lesson so children can discover the difference between desert and lake wildlife. My books are not all boring facts. I write the stories so they are whimsical and entertaining.

I’ve strayed quite a bit from writing mysteries and newsletters, but my education background has helped me bring life science to students through my picture books. Maybe I’ll write middle grade mysteries someday; probably a series that includes animals.

Here is my book’s blurb:

“Did you know it takes Trumpeter Swans up to 2 weeks to build a nest? That’s after they are shooed away from a beaver lodge and a muskrat den.

Pen is the name for a female swan; Cob is the name for a male swan.

Pen knows she will be laying her eggs soon, so she urges Cob to find the perfect place for their home. Even though they work together, will they have time to build a nest for their new cygnets before it’s too late?”

All my books can be found on my website:

A special discount and a STEM-based lesson plan for SPRING! TIME TO BUILD A NEST can be found at this online bookstore:


Barbara and her husband have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for over 40 years. When not walking her dog Larry, Barbara can be found writing her new Grandparent series, hiking the desert foothills, gardening in her backyard, traveling, and occasionally attempting to play a round of golf.

Want to connect?


THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: I Am Enough by Sarah Hoskins

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, Sarah Hoskins, is sharing the WHY she wrote her newly released series, I AM ENOUGH. Take it away, Sarah…

I Am Enough by Sarah Hoskins

I don’t think of myself as an author, I’m very much a beginner. Writing children’s books was never really in my plans but something that really just fell into my lap.

One day I had noticed that my young niece was saying negative things about herself. “I’m fat” and “I’m ugly”. I was so shocked that she was saying those things about herself at such a young age. I’ve come to realize though that our internal dialogue starts earlier than we realize. Kids are very impressionable and with added pressures these days of YouTube and social media who wouldn’t feel less then.

The more I thought about it the more I felt just really sad. I wanted her to feel good about herself and to help her start to change the way she was talking about herself. So I started looking for a positive affirmation book for kids. I didn’t really find what I was looking for specifically for her age group 2-8 year-olds.

So I decided to write one myself. One of my first books I AM ENOUGH – Positive Affirmations for Girls.

Now if I told anyone that I was writing a children’s book they probably would have laughed in my face. It’s so different to anything that I have done before but I’m very resourceful and also creative which I’ve come to realize. The process of writing and creating the book has been very therapeutic and an enjoyable process for me.

When writing the affirmations for the book my focus was really on my niece. I thought about her age, her beautiful personality and what I thought would be important positive seeds to plant in her mind. I came up with many positive affirmations but decided to keep it to the 12. I wanted to keep it short and simple to remember. Affirmations are so powerful when repeated regularly.

I then had to find an illustrator. I knew that I wanted the book to have amazing pictures to help bring the affirmations to life especially considering the age group that I was writing the book for. The illustrations were important.

I was lucky enough to come across Mariia Luzina. An amazing Italian artist that I found on Up Work. She bought my vision to life better that I could have ever imagined. We worked so effortlessly together and managed to have the book ready to be published within a few weeks.

I had to decide how I would publish my book after all I had never done this before. After a little research I decided to self-publish my book through amazon KDP. I had already successfully been selling physical products on amazon so I was familiar with the company and decided that would be a good place to start, after all who knows how the book would turn out and if anyone would even be interested in buying it.

I was also lucky that Mariia had experience with publishing her own books on KDP so she helped in making sure I had the right files to upload. On 31st December 2021 my very first book was published.

After getting so much amazing feedback on my first book I decided to write I AM ENOUGH –
Positive Affirmations for Boys. This one written and inspired by my beautiful two year old son

Sarah Hoskins is a mom who lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband Ross and beautiful son Caleb. Caleb being the inspiration for one of her first books “I am enough – Positive affirmations for boys”. Before she started writing children’s books her life’s work had always been about helping people stay fit and healthy both physically and mentally. Now she enjoys spending her time cooking, creating and having wild adventures with her son.

Instagram: @sarahhoskins or @iamenoughbook