THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Cautionary Tales and Other Fables by A. T. Schultz

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, Angela Schultz, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “Cautionary Tales and Other Fables”. Take it away, Angela…

Cautionary Tales and Other Fables by A. T. Schultz

My love affair with the written word began at a very young age. 

Ever since I could remember, I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. During breakfast time cereal boxes were magical worlds with their colorful designs and prizes. The cartoon section of the daily newspaper was a treasure trove waiting to be explored. Nothing escaped my wide-eyed fascination—and when I didn’t find something entertaining, I grabbed a pencil and paper and created it myself. 

As a child, I aspired to be a cartoonist. I had created my very own Charlie Brown-ish series about siblings with a lovable dog named Rusty, but I quickly grew tired of the cartoon format when my stories grew and became much more elaborate and detailed. When I was twelve, I began to write an ambitious illustrated novel that later became the basis of an award-winning screenplay, The Obsidian Chronicle, of which my writing instructor, Arnaud d’Usseau, said was a “cautionary tale”. 

During my education to become an illustrator at the School Of Visual Arts in NYC, I became fascinated with screenwriting and instantly fell in love with the medium. I have written seventeen feature-length screenplays and many short films over the years, some of which have won awards, have been optioned, or produced.

In 2018, going back to art school roots, I wrote and illustrated a children’s picture book called Squeak! It’s a Dog Chew Toy World! which was based on characters from my screenplay, Rabble Rowsers. The Rabble Rowsers script was inspired by my dog who had stolen a stuffed toy from my baby niece’s stroller and inadvertently became the lead character of a story about doggy chew toys that don’t want to be chewed!

Over the course of thirty years, I had written a number of short stories and noticed that many of them had varying universal morality themes. I remembered what my screenwriting instructor had said, and thought that it would be a good idea to compile a book of my “cautionary tales”.  Thank you, Mr. d’Usseau!

For the collection of 37 stories, I wrote several new ones and ditched many others that were not good enough, (in my humble opinion). Many were underdeveloped scribbles on scraps of paper, while others were nestled together in the file cabinet of forgotten stories. 

I felt like an archeologist as I unearthed the treasures that I had buried so deeply in the cabinet beneath scripts and research papers.

I gathered all of the stories I had written over the years and even adapted several short film scripts as well. “Romancing the Shoes” was adapted from an award-winning script of the same name. Two of the stories, “Harry’s Portrait” and “Veni Vidi Vici”, had been published by the the School of Visual Arts Press in their Words anthology back in the 80’s when I was in college, so I included them as well. The coming of age story called “Daisy” was written for an Australian filmmaker friend, John Klaic, who sadly had passed away before he could make the film. I adapted it in his memory.

Finally,  over the course of three months, the book of Cautionary Tales and other Fables, was completed. I hired a amazing company of artists, MiblArt in the Ukraine, to design the swirling vortex of things on the cover. 

As to be expected in a story about people with problems, there is some profanity and gore, but nothing that the average teenager isn’t accustomed to seeing or hearing nowadays, but there are no “F” bombs.


Book Blurb:…

Be prepared to enter a world where strange and unusual things can happen.

This collection of morality tales is intertwined with an odd assortment of unique stories; some lighthearted and fun, while others delve into the darkest side of human behavior.

Be forewarned: not all of them have happy endings!

Desperation drives people to do unexpected, and sometimes crazy, things!

Purchase link…



A. T. is an award winning screenwriter who has authored numerous feature-length screenplays including the PAGE INTERNATIONAL SCREENWRITING AWARDS silver prize winning screenplay, ROBOMUTT, along with quarter finalists, RABBLE ROWSERS, and FAILSAFE.  A. T. graduated from the School Of Visual Arts in NYC with a BFA in Illustration and Graphic Design, and wrote and illustrated a children’s picture book called SQUEAK! IT’S A DOG CHEW TOY WORLD! based upon the characters of the RABBLE ROWSERS screenplay. A. T. is also the author of the upcoming Young Adult Fantasy series, THE DAEMONSPHERE CHRONICLES.

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TWITTERA. T. Schultz /@rabblerowsers

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.


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.

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Website: Children’s Author | SJRobertsCreative


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: Not So Scary Jerry by Shelley Kinder

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, Shelley Kinder, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “NOT SO SCARY JERRY”. Take it away, Shelley…

When I was young, I dreamed of having a children’s book published, but my fire for writing didn’t come to life until I started having children. As I sat and read to them, I began to have a deep love for picture books. I knew I had to write one. I dabbled in writing here and there, learned some things online, and took a local writing class. In 2015, I discovered Susanna Hill’s Halloweensie writing contest. I ended up getting first place with a T-Rex rhyming story called A Meaty Trick-or-Treat. I was elated!

I knew I had to keep writing, and I couldn’t get this one idea out of my mind – a monster who wants to be scary, but it’s not in his nature. So, one winter night, while my family slept, I sat on the floor of my boys’ room (because the downstairs was cold, and I didn’t want wake my husband by working in our room) and handwrote the first draft of Not So Scary Jerry. Much editing happened in the months after that, and in 2016, I submitted the story to Clear Fork Publishing. They loved the story, and it was published in September of 2017.

To be honest, I think I didn’t fully realize the depth of my story until after it was written. I was just writing from my heart and trying to create a fun story that kids would enjoy, but in the end, I had created loveable characters and a message of self-acceptance and unconditional friendship. My illustrator, Caryn Schafer, added an adorable pug to the story, which really helped to pull it all together. Caryn and I had connected on Twitter after Clear Fork asked me for illustrator suggestions. I think it was an exciting time for Caryn, as well, since it was also her first picture book. Both of us love the color green, so making Jerry green just felt right. And I absolutely love that she gave him a pink watch!

Here is the book blurb for “Not So Scary Jerry”:

“Monsters don’t hug. Or do they? With a little coaching, can a friendly monster learn to be mean and scary? Through fun and quirky dialogue, Boy and Monster discover a lot about each other, but perhaps even more about oneself. A delicious story of friendship and self-acceptance with hilarious twists and turns along the way.”

Soon after Not So Scary Jerry was released, I submitted a second manuscript to Clear Fork – The Masterpiece. This one was especially exciting because my mom agreed to illustrate it! It was published in the spring of 2018. The original 50-word version was written for Vivian Kirkfield’s 50 Precious Words contest in 2016. The book is about God painting the sunrise onto his canvas (the sky) while families make their way to school. The illustrations are breathtaking, and there are hidden paintbrushes on each spread.  

My third book, God and Me at the Sea, comes out this May from Kregel Publications. This is the first book deal I’ve gotten while working with an agent, and I’m incredibly grateful to Keely Boeving for negotiating the deal. She has been amazing to work with.


Shelley lives in Indiana with her husband and four kids. Besides writing, she enjoys family time, dabbling in art projects, 70-degree days, and sushi. Shelley has written three picture books: Not So Scary Jerry (Clear Fork, 2017), The Masterpiece (Clear Fork, 2018), and God and Me at the Sea (Kregel, May 2022). Her books can be found at:

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THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: How To Pick A Pet by Brooke Vitale

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, Brooke Vitale, is sharing the WHY she wrote her book, “How To Pick A Pet”. Take it away, Brooke…

How To Pick A Pet by Brooke Vitale

I still remember that day in my junior year of college when I said to a friend, “I wish someone could just pay me to read books,” and she replied, “You know that’s a job, right?

Honestly, no. As amazing as it seems, the idea of what actually went into making a book had never crossed my mind! But once that idea hit . . . well, I was done!

An internship at the University Press led to a graduate degree in publishing from NYU and an internship at Sterling Publishing (now Union Square & Co). Those first days were anything but glamorous. My days were spent mailing back images from thirty-year-old books. But as luck would have it, a job opened in the children’s department. I jumped at the chance and never looked back.

It’s been nearly twenty years since I walked through the doors of my first real job in publishing. Twenty years of learning how the business runs and what makes a truly great book. I’ve moved from Sterling to Penguin to Disney, and finally over to my own company, where I help aspiring authors make their books the best they can possibly be. And every day, I’m continuing to learn.

But about two years ago, something changed. With all those years of making other books great under my belt, and now a mom to two young boys of my own, I found myself teaching my own son how to read, I realized that many of the books out there for early readers just aren’t engaging enough. And many of them aren’t written at the level of a beginning reader. (And I get that, because having written tons of level 1 early readers for publishers before having kids of my own, I know that most people writing them aren’t truly educated in how kids learn to read.) So I started learning again. Learning about phonics, and how kids blend words, and what they are truly capable of when they are beginning readers. And then I started applying that learning to my own books. Which was when Charge Mommy Books was born.

My company has a heavy focus on literacy, as anyone looking at my newest level 1 early reader can see. Charge into Reading: How to Pick a Pet is the tale of a boy on the hunt for the perfect pet. Like many of my books, this one is drawn from a real life experience: taking my kids to the pet store only to have them ask for one of every pet they saw! But How to Pick a Pet is much more than just a story about pets. It also contains seven pages of literacy activities at the end to keep a reader engaged (as do all the books in the series). These are such a hit in my house that it’s not uncommon to hear my four-year-old running around shouting in his little voice, “Can I do the literacy activities?

He absolutely can, and it is my sincerest hope that other kids will love them—and How to Pick a Pet—just as much!

Here is the book’s blurb:

“Today is Tom’s big day: the day he gets to pick a pet of his very own. But as Tom looks around the pet store, he begins to worry: what if he can’t find the right pet? Join in the adventure as Tom meets a bird that’s too loud, a cat that makes him too sneezy, a snake that’s too squeezy, and a dog that’s WAY too big. With so many wrong animals, can Tom ever find his right one?”


Brooke Vitale is a children’s book editor, author, and proud founder of Charge Mommy Books, an independent publisher of playful, high-quality stories that children can really enjoy. She has written over a hundred books, including The Magic Is in You, The Mandalorian: A Clan of Two, Goonies: An Illustrated Classic, and her new Charge Into Reading Early Reader series, featuring Stuck Duck, Bug Hunt, How to Pick a Pet, and the forthcoming I Am Not a Rooster. Brooke spent nearly twenty years as an editor at prominent publishing companies, including Penguin Books for Young Readers and Disney Publishing. She now runs, a website dedicated to helping aspiring authors navigate the publishing and self-publishing industry. For more information on her newest venture and upcoming books, visit or head over to @chargemommybooks on Instagram to see a new piece of a story dropping every day.

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To learn more about Brooke, visit

See the full line of Charge into Reading books and find out what else we’ve got coming at

Instagram: @brooke.vitale@chargemommybooks


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 prolific children’s book author, Darcy Pattison, is sharing the WHY she wrote her newly released book, FEVER. Take it away, Darcy…

FEVER by Darcy Pattison

When I write a children’s nonfiction picture book, I am definitely catching a story.

I look for topics that will appeal to elementary kids, their teachers and parents. The story of a Nobel Prize winning scientist is a story of success! The perseverance needed to achieve remarkable results often adds a layer of character development.

But before I commit to a topic, I need to see and understand the story. For me, the narrative storytelling is important, even in a nonfiction book. FEVER tells the story of Tu Youyou, a Chinese scientist who worked under the Chinese Communist government of the 1960s and 1970s.

She was assigned to Project 523, so named because it was conceived on May 23. China’s ally, North Vietnam asked for help during its war with South Vietnam. The North Vietnamese soldiers were dying of malaria. In fact, more soldiers died of malaria than died in the conflict in Vietnam. If doctors and researchers could cure malaria, the war efforts would be more successful. It’s a strange beginning to a story of healing.

Youyou made many sacrifices to carry out the research. For example, at one point, she didn’t see her two young daughters for three years. Instead, she sweated over vats of plants and chemicals, trying to extract compounds to test against malaria. She volunteered to test the medicines on herself.

The research was fascinating. At one point, I had to look for reference material of the time period for the illustrator. I found an image of a poster of how to prevent hepatitis. It’s fascinating to see how the Chinese medical system was depicted at this time.

The story of Youyou’s discovery of artemisium, a drug that cures malaria, is a strong story of perseverance, survival, failures, new attempts and finally success. It inspires me to keep going when times are hard.

Here is the book blurb:

“People were dying! Malaria is a deadly mosquito-borne disease that causes fevers, chills and often death. In 1969, the People’s Republic of China created a task force to find a cure.

Working in the 1970s, Chinese scientist Tu Youyou reviewed the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) scrolls for ideas on where to start her research. She found 640 traditional treatments, and methodically started extracting compounds and testing them against malaria. Would any of them work?

Courage, resilience, and perseverance–follow the struggles of Nobel Prize scientist Tu Youyou as she works to find a cure to malaria.”


Fiction Notes blog has provided writers with tips, strategies and inspiration since 2007. Our motto is “Believe in Your Story.” Storyteller, writing teacher, Queen of Revisions, children’s book author and founder of Mims House publisher, Darcy Pattison has recently been motivated by zombies (which helped her meet a goal of running a 5K) and chocolate (which keeps her young). Always active, before her tenth birthday, she (almost) climbed the Continental Divide, turning back at the last 20 yards because it was too steep and great climbing shoes hadn’t been invented yet. This year, she biked in Poland and hiked the Rockies (her first 14-er! Made it to 13.). On her bucket list is kayaking the Napali Coast, eating curry in Bombay, and catching a glimpse of a puma in South America.






THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Hailey’s Hats by Donna L Martin

All the books I write for children and adults are special to me, but THIS book is extra special for a variety of reasons.

When my writer’s rights to my debut picture book, THE STORY CATCHER, was given back to me in 2018, it kind of left my writer’s ego a bit bruised. While I understood the business decision this traditional publisher made, it was done at a time when my fledgling book was barely born, and it didn’t really have a chance to make it in the big ol’ world of Kidlit publishing.

During those years, I continued to write my stories but struggled with how to move forward getting my picture book stories out in the world. It took me a number of years of soul searching, manuscript submitting to various agents and pitch contests, and revising, revising, revising to create stories as strong as I could make them.

I told you Hailey’s Hats is special for many reasons. One of them is because it’s a story all about hats and the fact how we dress sometimes influence how we…and the rest of the world…determine our own self-worth. When I was growing up, I always wanted to wear hats.

But I couldn’t.

My head has always been too large for most hats so the idea of one little girl being able to have all the hats she wants AND be able to wear all of them was very appealing to me!

Another reason I love this story is because it is the first of hopefully many more picture books where I take full control of the entire process. THE STORY CATCHER was basically a remake product (even if I’ve very proud of it…which I am!) But Hailey’s Hats was all me from the story idea down to the cover design, color scheme, illustration direction, and production issues resolved in order to give birth to Hailey’s Hats. It was truly my baby from start to finish and I proved to myself that even if a traditional publisher steps away from my work, that doesn’t mean I can’t still share my stories with the world!

The final reason, and probably most important one, is the subtle message I hope everyone discovers as they read this story. Growing up in a small bayou town in southern Louisiana where I was bullied and made fun of my entire time I lived there forced me to grow a thick skin. To learn to ignore the petty, demeaning words tossed my way and to dig deep inside to discover the person I wanted to be. Being poor back then also taught me to live without the pressure of the “haves” society because that was something I definitely DID NOT have.

Hailey struggles with identity in this story. She thinks the person she should be on any particular day is connected to the career hat she wears. But when she runs into a day when she doesn’t have a hat to wear, she struggles with self-worth. Who should she be? How will the world around her judge her?

Here’s the book blurb: “Eight-year-old Hailey loved wearing hats! She had a special hat for almost every adventure of the week! But what happens when she runs out of hats? Who will she be then?

HAILEY’S HATS celebrates one child’s imagination, while challenging ALL children to take another look in the mirror to see the fabulous person looking back at them!”


At the end of the book, I hope children (and the child in all of us) will see that the people we are inside is much more important than the clothes or accessories we wear. And what is inside of each of us lasts a lifetime…


Hybrid published author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna offers occasional BOOK NOOK REVIEWS of great children’s books and offers WRITERLY WISDOM to new and established writers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Alliance of Independent Authors, and Children’s Book Insider. Donna loves dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

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LinkedIn: Donna L Martin/Story Catcher Publishing

Goodreads: Donna L Martin

Mail: Donna L Martin

c/o Story Catcher Publishing

P O Box 27788

Knoxville, Tn 37927