I have always been a writer and did freelance work all during my 13 year teaching career and the years of raising my family. One of my favorite jobs was writing a column called “Spiritually Significant Cinema” for the website http://www.religionandspirituality.com/. Through their movie promotions, I had the chance to interview Sylvester Stallone, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Kirk Douglas, Catherine Hardwicke, and many other interesting actors, producers, and directors involved in the indie movie business. I love movies, so this job was a perfect fit. Even now, I still watch over 150 movies each year and love to find hidden gems on the indie scene.
While I have over 100 articles in print and on websites, my love of writing books for children grew out of my work as an elementary school teacher and the books I loved from my own childhood and raising my two daughters. I wrote my first picture book when I was in 5th grade. “The Brave, Frail, and Delicate Princess” won a contest at the University of Illinois (though most definitely not for the art work), and I am hoping to develop it into a middle grade chapter book during 2015.
The award-winning Cats in the Mirror series has been my focus for the last few years. Book 1, “Why Kimba Saved The World,” began as an early reader style book, but it continued to grow and develop until I finally realized that it was not only a middle grade chapter book but a series with dozens of books to follow. The story revolves around my real crazy cat, Kimba, and the other cats in the house as they discover that they are really part of an alien race of cats. In Book 1, those space cats have designs on a big invasion of Earth, and Kimba has to decide where her loyalties lie.
After shopping the manuscript to a few large publishing houses and getting “very nice, but not right for our list” letters back, I decided to self-publish the book through Createspace and Amazon.com. Pulling on resources from my freelance writing years, I hired a formatter, editor, and cover designer to make sure the book looked 100% professional. It was released in April of 2013. Along with great reviews from adults and kids alike, “Why Kimba Saved The World” won a Bronze Moonbeam Children’s Book Award as “Best First Book” and was honored with a Silver Mom’s Choice award for excellence as a juvenile book series. That encouraged me to put all of my efforts into publishing at least the first three books in the series.
Book 2, “Vacation Hiro,” came out at the end of 2013 and follows Kimba and her sister, Hiro, as they learn more about their space traveling cat family and actually get to visit the ship and learn about their special destiny. It was also honored with a Silver Mom’s Choice Award. Book 3, “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge,” releases on September 12 and involves a bit of rebellion and jealousy among the cats in the Earth household. Kimba ends up being kidnapped and placed in mortal danger.
I love this book series because readers of all ages relate to my cats and see behaviors that make them wonder about their own cats. I have plans for several more books in the series over the next few years with working titles like “Slinky Steps Out” and “Max’s Wild Night” about the dog in the family, but first my attention is going to go to a couple of other projects.
This fall, I am putting all of my energy into the final revisions and edits of an adult book called “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main.” Set in my small town of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, this literary novel follows the journey of a woman who is stuck as a ghost and unable to move forward in her after-life. An agent and a regional publishing house have both expressed interest, so my focus will be on getting the completed manuscript into their hands before the end of the year.
My husband and I run a year-round guest house in Eureka Springs—performing wedding ceremonies, caring for the property, and running the web site, advertising, and social media. So between that and my writing, publishing, and book promoting there is not much spare time. Curling up with a movie or an episode of “Castle” are my favorite treats. I love reading—everything from old Anne McCaffrey to current indie books—but after a day of writing or editing it’s often not that appealing as a way to relax. I also serve as a docent at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge and have included this local attraction in both “Miss Fatty Cat’s Revenge” and “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main.” I am a member of SCBWI and the Ozark Writer’s League and love attending events at both the Village Writing School and the Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs.
From Today until 14th September“Why Kimba Saved The World” will be FREE on kindle and “Vacation Hiro” will be 99c / 0.77p, to promote the release of Book 3.
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