Winner Announcement 9/27/21

Congratulations to Rondi Frieder, winner of THE MANY MEANINGS OF MEILAN, by Andrea Wang! Please email me so that I can connect you with your prize!

Don’t miss other amazing giveaways still available from Henry Herz, Alda P. Dobbs, Katelyn Aronson, and Denise Vega! Comment on individual posts to enter the giveaways for books, critiques, and more! Tomorrow’s special guest is Jason Gruhl.

Welcome Author Denise Vega – Giveaway Alert

I’m so happy to share my interview with author, writing professor, and generous force for literacy from picture books to YA, Denise Vega. I met Denise through our local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) where I’ve learned so much from her presentations. Denise is an inspiration to the writing community and I’m only one of her many fans. Her book, IF YOUR MONSTER WON’T GO TO BED, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora won the Crystal Kite Award, praise from readers, and glowing professional reviews. You haven’t read it yet? What are you waiting for? Go order it now!

Denise has generously offered a double prize! See, I told you she was generous. One lucky winner will get a copy of IF YOUR MONSTER WON’T GO TO BED and a Picture Book Fast & Lite Critique: Fast Full ($75 value.) Comment on the blogpost to enter the giveaway.

What were you like at the age of your target audience?

I remember being imaginative and creative. I played a lot of made-up scenarios with my sister and friends, everything from mermaids in the sea to wolves in the forest to pretending we had horses and galloping around the yard! And I drew and painted a lot. The picture of me is from an art class my parents enrolled me in when I was five.

What inspires you?

As a writer of children’s books, I’m inspired by the experiences of others and their kids. I’m also inspired by writing workshops. There’s something about hearing tips about craft or why an author/agent/editor/illustrator liked a particular book that gets my creative juices flowing. Even if the craft tip is something I already know, hearing it again gets me excited about working on new or existing projects. And when I hear someone point out something specific in a book that resonated with them, I wonder if my stories have that same something. 

What’s something you hope readers take away from your book?

Fun and laughter along with an ah-ha moment if possible. Years ago, I participated in a story time with two other authors, both of whom had rollicking, interactive books. I shared GRANDMOTHER, HAVE THE ANGELS COME? which is a lovely book but quite serious. I left there thinking: “I want to write a book that is really fun to read-aloud and creates interactivity with listeners.” It took a long time, but IF YOUR MONSTER WON’T GO TO BED was the result of that desire. And it’s also a story of perseverance!

What’s next for you?

I have a few picture books in various stage–one out on submission and others almost ready or in the drafting stage. I’m also writing the first draft of a new middle grade novel and it’s been really fun to return to that category! I’m also very interested in health and nutrition and have been immersed in some programs to educate myself. I’m excited to share my love for healthy eating and cooking with people of all ages, but especially kids, through books, classes and workshops.

To learn more about Denise, her books and her writing opportunities:

Website: Facebook:

Twitter: @denisevegabooks

Instagram: @denisevegabooks

Winner Announcement – 9/20/21

Congratulations to Marla Yablon winner of the giveaway from the multitalented Dow Phumiruk who has offered a winner’s choice giveaway of one of her books! I was at the launch last week for HELLO, TREE! written by Ana Crespo and illustrated by Dow and it’s magnificent.

Marla, please email me at ljrwritenow at Gmail to coordinate your prize!

If you haven’t already read the recent interviews with Andrea Wang, Henry Herz, Alda P. Dobbs, and Katelyn Aronson check them out and comment on individual posts to win the giveaways!

Welcome Author Katelyn Aronson – Giveaway Alert

I’m very excited to help celebrate author, Katelyn Aronson’s third picture book, CLOVIS KEEPS HIS COOL, illustrated by Eve Farb which released in August. My love for cows and bulls began in childhood so when I first heard this book announcement, I may have shrieked with joy. CLOVIS KEEPS HIS COOL is a delightful story about a bull in a china shop who needs to control his temper. Yes, I LOVED it! No, I’m not going to tell you how it ends, go order it from your favorite indie book store or library and find out for yourself.

Katelyn is generously offering one lucky winner a winner’s choice giveaway – you can choose any one of her books, PIGLETTE, PIGLETTE’S PERFECT SURPRISE, both illustrated by Eva Byrne or CLOVIS KEEPS HIS COOL.

What were you like at the age of your target audience?

Here is the only picture I could find in my computer of my “little” self. I think I’m about 5 here. At that age, I was very much into make-believe/drawing/creating in general, like most kids. I remember getting a much bigger kick out of decorating cakes (like this one) than actually eating them, though. Maybe I wasn’t your typical kid in that respect, ha. Little did I know that many years later, I’d publish a picture book on the theme of cake engineering: PIGLETTE’S PERFECT SURPRISE.

What inspires you?

Traveling around Europe! Which is why I left California to move here in the first place :). I’m not sure why Europe has always fascinated me more than any other continent. Maybe it just has to do with my ancestral ties here (I’m half Scandinavian). I currently live in France and Switzerland, but on vacation, my favorite escapes are Ireland and Italy—two very different landscapes/cultures that both enchant me. By the way, the idea for my very first book, PIGLETTE, actually came to me after visiting a perfumery in Bologna, Italy.

What is something you hope readers take away from your books?

I suppose both of my new releases this year (PIGLETTE’S PERFECT SURPRISE and CLOVIS KEEPS HIS COOL) have been about messing up, falling short of perfection. I hope that these stories are something of a comfort to readers—a reminder that, yes, we all mess up, but that there is still grace for ourselves and for others. We may need to learn to forgive our own mistakes before understanding how to extend forgiveness to others. Forgiving ourselves can sometimes be the hardest part!

Winner’s choice giveaway!

What’s next for you?

I have a new book (or two) coming out every year from now through 2024. The next one up is POO-DUNIT? A Forest Floor Mystery – a silly, rhyming, STEM story, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis and releasing from Candlewick in 2022. I hope the cover reveal happens soon, because it’s a doozy!

To learn more about Katelyn and her books:



Instagram: Website:

Winner Announcement – 9/13/21

Congratulations to Rinda Beach, winner of SNOOZAPALOOZA from author Kimberlee Gard illustrated by Vivian Mineker. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! It’s perfect for bedtime and getting ready for winter. Rinda, please email me so that I can connect you with the author.

Don’t miss out on other amazing giveaways from Dow Phumiruk, Andrea Wang, Henry Herz, and Alda P. Dobbs. Comment on individual posts to be entered in each giveaway. These talented, award-winning authors and illustrators are inspiring. Tomorrow, I’ll share my interview with Katelyn Aronson, who has a new book featuring a bull and since I love cows, you can imagine how excited I am. Tune in tomorrow …

Welcome Author Alda P. Dobbs – Giveaway Alert

I’m excited to share my interview with Alda P. Dobbs whose middle grade debut BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA exemplifies why I love reading middle grade books. Her writing is rich the story includes interesting details of the Mexican Revolution, and most importantly, it is a marvelous story that takes the reader on a ride that will stay with them for years to come. Alda was supposed to be in Colorado this week for an event and we had planned to meet in person, but it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully it will happen in November.

Alda is generously offering one lucky winner a signed copy of BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA and some fun book swag. Comment on the blogpost to enter the giveaway.

What were you like at the age of your target audience?

In my novel, Petra Luna is twelve years old and when I was twelve, I too was quiet and reserved. My mother was a single parent and, being the oldest of four girls, I found myself having to grow up quickly. Like Petra, I too had dreams, but instead of dreaming to learn to read and write, I dreamt of being an astronaut or a writer, or having a career that took me all over the world. I was, and still am very shy. My most favorite thing to do at that age was listening to baseball games on the radio while working on math homework in the tiny shed outside our tiny house. No matter what the weather was like, sitting on that concrete with the AM radio humming the ball game brought me so much peace, and if the Astros won – forget about it – it was pure joy. I also enjoyed listening to family stories from my mother about my grandmother and great-grandmother and the harsh poverty and prejudices they faced. I’d imagine them and wonder how their choices and actions impacted my life. 

What inspires you?

Music! Music moves my heart and my spirit because I believe that every melody carries a story within. To this day, music can change my mood instantly. I’m fortunate to have grown up listening to old Mexican folk music, or what we call “polka-corridos”.  I also enjoy all sorts of music, from jazz to rap to classical and rock. Nature also inspires me, probably because I feel everything in it also has its own melody and story. 

What’s the one thing you hope readers take away from you book?

I hope young readers see that they too have the power and determination to be a leader like Petra. Sometimes we adults don’t give children enough credit yet they are capable of so much if given the space and confidence to grow and figure things out on their own. I also want them to realize that no matter the circumstances, adversities like the ones Petra faces are not unique to any one single group of people, time, or place. Harsh poverty, prejudice, and migrating to a new land to escape violence have happened throughout history and continue to happen in our world today. It’s these histories that connect us all and should make us realize we are all more similar than we think.   

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on Book 2, the follow-up book to BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA ! Book 2, still untitled, will follow Petra and her family to a refugee camp in Eagles Pass, Texas and then to San Antonio where 30,000 refugees settled during that time. I’m also working on the Spanish translation of BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA and will soon help record the Author’s Note for the audio book. I’m also kicking around the idea of a picture book and a historical YA – stay tuned! Five years from now, I hope to have learned new ways to help bring literacy to disadvantaged communities and of helping young writers hone their craft.

To learn more about Alda and her books:

Website: Facebook: Alda P. Dobbs Instagram: @aldapdobbs

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