book award winner

Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, C.M. Huddleston

This year, C.M. Huddleston won Literary Classics Book Awards Gold in Middle Grade Historical Fiction for her book, Greg’s Second Adventure in Time. The first book in her time travel series received Gold in last year’s contest. I’m excited to feature her time travel tales! Read on for more about Huddleston’s award-winning books.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

I wrote my first children’s book in 1988 while between jobs as an archaeologist. I was bored, living in a new town, and decided to write a novel.

What’s the target age group for your books?

Middle grade, 4th to 7th

What inspired your award-winning books?

I am from Kentucky. My family has been here for ten generations. So I wanted to tell about our beginning, our part in the American Revolution. I wanted children to learn the true story of Daniel Boone and the men and women who stood with him for those two long weeks at Boonesborough.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

Motormouth Greg writes each story just like he talks.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

I don’t have any plans to do an audio edition at this time. Other than teaching accurate history with my books, I also want children to actually read.  I love audio books and know there is a place and a time for listening as well as reading; however, I would rather have parents read to their children than have them listen to a stranger.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

If I ever did an audio book I would ask my nephew Jake Anderson because I love his voice.

Do you illustrate your own books? If not, how did you find your illustrator?

I have illustrations in my books, but they are taken from nineteenth century books or are copyright free. I can’t draw anything!

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

I have recently read two books by Karen Stone, several by M.J. Evans, and three by Patricia Reding, all CLC winners.  I loved their books! I read, or at least start reading, several children’s books each week for my blog Monday Morning Indie. I then interview the author and review the book. I have to say that each week I find some really poorly written books and always a gem – a real diamond of a story.  I guess my favorite recently has been Beauty & the Beast by Rebecca Hammond Yager!  She won the Words on Wings award this year. I can’t wait for her next book.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?  

I have been told I am doing it all wrong. You see, each day I read from the beginning of the manuscript and edit as I go. Then I add on to the story. By doing this I think I find plot flaws, typos, etc. .  As the story gets longer, I might skip the first chapter or two so that I actually have time to write. Most creative writing teachers tell me not to do this, but with two gold medals, it just might be the way I need to write.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

Mondays!!! I write and post my blog, Monday Morning Indie on Monday morning and then do any marketing I need to do for the rest of the day. I might prepare things to post or send out later in the week, tweet, etc. . . I look for authors for my blog. I prepare press releases.  Then throughout the week, I have less to do for marketing and can write. Now, this doesn’t always work, because right now it is Friday, and I am answering interview questions. As for the rest of life, I work on my writing Monday through Friday from about 9 am to about 5:30 pm. I rarely work on weekends and never at night.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors? 

I firmly believe that we, as Indie and small press authors, can achieve our goals if we work together to promote each other’s work. That’s why I began Monday Morning Indie about one year ago. I met many talented, but under-recognized authors at my first Literary Classics award events and wanted to do something to help us all get our names out to our reading public. This year I have put together an anthology of eleven short stories from nine Indie authors based on characters in our books. It is entitled Winter Wonder and will be available in early October on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Many of the short story authors are CLC award winners!

Author Bio

C. M. Huddleston loved history and dreamed of writing a book even as a child. Instead, she became an Army wife, mother, elementary school teacher, archaeologist, and historic preservation consultant, before publishing her first book! In 2016, she published her seventh and eighth volumes, all dealing with her first love, our nation’s past. While three are written for children, her other works are histories for adults on a variety of subjects.

Connie resides in a log cabin in Kentucky, with her husband Charlie and their Australian Shepherd Katie. They all enjoy the quiet of rural Kentucky.

Connect with her on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, and her website.

Award-Winning Books

Greg’s First Adventure in Time: Twelve year old Greg mysteriously time travels 3,000 years into the past. Now a Native American boy has a spear pointed directly at his heart. Greg’s scared, worried, and hungry!  Can he trust this stranger, can he get home, can he survive? Join Greg on his first adventure where there are moose to hunt and wolves to worry about, along with loads of fun! Greg’s wild adventures will excite and enlighten all while telling a rousing story about a young boy’s intriguing encounter with Native Americans.

Greg’s Second Adventure in Time: Greg’s first adventure in time travel happened quite by accident, and now he’s time jumped once again, right into 1778. Still not understanding how to get back to his own time, Greg travels farther into rural Kentucky and right into an Indian uprising. New friends, American heroes, and famous battles fill Greg’s days as the months pass. How will Greg get home?  Will he survive an Indian siege? Enjoy a romp through history in this fast-moving story of our nation’s frontier during the American Revolution.

“Action and adventure abound in this deliciously entertaining read that is likely to spur a keen interest in young readers, as history takes center stage in the continuation of this delightful series.” Literary Classics Book Awards

In 2016, Greg’s First Adventure in Time won a gold medal for middle grade fiction from Children’s Literary Classics after receiving their Seal of Approval in 2015. In  2017, Greg’s Second Adventure in Time won a gold medal for middle grade historical fiction from Children’s Literary Classics. Greg’s Adventures in Time are available in print and ebook versions. Learn more and find lesson plans and activities for each book at www.cmhuddleston.com.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of award-winning author interviews as much as I did. Want to read more? Browse my blog’s interview page.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Stephan von Clinkerhoffen

The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham, by Stephan von Clinkerhoffen, won Gold for Best High School Series in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Stig’s Flight of Encounters, one of the books in the series, also received Gold in the middle school general category.

Congratulations on your achievements! When did you first start writing?

It’s a bit of a long story.

We were quite happily living in Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand, when I began writing.  About seven years ago Christchurch was hit by two massive earth quakes which destroyed our city and many thousands of homes. Surrounded by so much hurt and destruction I found it almost impossible to carry on my job as an artist painting beautiful landscapes.

I Googled “volunteering Christchurch” and soon found myself volunteering full time, first for the Civil Defence then for the NZ Red Cross. Assessing the worst hit areas and helping those most in need.

But the artist in me needed an outlet so I started to paint large images of a fantasyland with a few sentences describing each one in a short story, kids loved it. Then the stories grew and in no time at all I had started to write my first book Stig’s Flight of Encounters.  The title of the series comes from the twin cities of my home town Cheltenham in the United Kingdom and an imaginary city Drah-ham hence The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham. I found I could draw on the experiences that surrounded me; the poor living on a fractured land struggling to survive, and use it in the story of a young lad from a city of riches beyond belief where money was worthless. So the story developed book by book, painting by painting.

What’s the target age group for your books?

My series, The Hidden City of Chelldrah-ham, is in three volumes. When I started to write the first book I was targeting 12 years and upwards but with each new book the age group has matured as have Stig and Meg, my main characters. Many of my readers are adults of fifty plus who like escapism and to take a break from reality. Can I call “young at heart” an age group?

Chess’s ed. note: Young at heart is a most acceptable age group, in my humble opinion.

What inspired your award-winning books?

When I was about nine or ten years old I remember being inspired by a teacher.  He told me to follow my passion, and helped me a lot with my art which I loved more than anything else. He also enabled me to win an award at an art exhibition. I still have the prize, a dinosaur book. He is now a main character in my book, War of Chaos, playing a “Guard of Old”. My art and my writing feed from each other so I’m glad of his encouragement all those years ago.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

The main character in the book series is Stig who is a “Reluctant Hero”. I also describe him with an old word from the 16th century: “Younker” denoting a young nobleman. I love that word.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

This is something I would like to do in the future. Can I put it on the bucket list?

Chess’s ed note: Yes, absolutely!

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I think that someone like Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), but in his younger days, would be good as the main character.

Do you illustrate your own books?

Yes, I do all of my own illustrations, to me it’s a major part of my writing, because all of my wildest machines start on a sketch pad, to make sure that they are plausible, and potentially could work. I was in engineering, prior to my career in art and then writing, and because of this I don’t have magic in my books. I like everything to work as it should or could do, even if it is from another planet. I find this inventing of new mechanical wonders very exciting.

I always find myself looking at new machines and studying their mechanisms.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

I never read much at all, for several reasons, I like to be creative all the time, so I would rather be writing a book than reading one. Also, I would not want to plagiarise another author’s work so hopefully I will have a writing style of my own.

But that’s not to say I don’t hear of other authors or appreciate the work taken to write a book. I do love to watch a good sci-fi fantasy movie like Harry Potter, love that sort of thing.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I do like to put onomatopoeic words in italics. It seems to bring the sound of the word you are reading into the imaginative world of what you are seeing, in your mind’s eye. Early on my editors were in two minds about it, but now as it has progressed they have applauded it, many of my adult readers like it too.

There are a few images of my paintings in my books and at times my writing is an expression of these paintings in words.

I paint to music, but I write in silence.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

Thank God I have a wife (Sally) who is very computer literate, she was also a sales person for quite a while. She has more experience at marketing etc. which I loathe. We know we need to do more promotions.

Sally is also my first port of call for editing, prior to professional editors, and helps with all those rewrites.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

To all CLC winners I would like to say a big “Well Done!”

“Hats Off To You”, I know how hard and costly it’s been to get to this stage, so let’s all look to a bright future as authors, and as the ending of my first book says “My your beliefs travel with you wherever you are”.

Author Bio

Award winning author Stephan von Clinkerhoffen grew up close to the English Cotswolds, surrounded by nature and the region’s rich history. An engineer for twenty-five years, he spent ten years in the British aerospace industry.

Clinkerhoffen’s career influenced many of the inventions found in the Chelldrah-ham series, as did his time in New Zealand, where he served as a humanitarian volunteer in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

An artist for the last thirty years, Clinkerhoffen has returned to England, where he rediscovered his love of local history—a love that permeates Belas Rift.

He has received praise and numerous awards for his writing from Literary Classics Book Awards, Kirkus Reviews, Readers’ Favorite, and ForeWord Clarion.

Follow Stephan von Clinkerhoffen and his writing on Twitter, Facebook, Goodeads, YouTube, Amazon, and his website.

Award-Winning Books

Stig’s Flight of Encounters

Stig is eager to test out his Spiral Drive, a power unit built for his clockwork plane. He’s so eager that he ignores his fellow inventor’s words of warning. It’s a decision that changes his life and tests whether he has enough fortitude and skill to survive.

Stephan von Clinkerhoffen’s City of Chelldrah-ham: Stig’s Flight of Encounters takes readers on a journey to Chelldrah-ham, the city of riches Stig calls home. They travel with him to strange and beautiful lands as his test flight goes astray and crashes into a wooden pod.

Stig’s trip back home isn’t going to be that easy. Soon he discovers bat-like creatures called the Bach that threaten the pod’s homeland. He escapes the encounter but will have plenty more to face.

Stig must rely on what he finds in nature and the help of new friends like Meg, whom he meets on his trek. He’s got his clockwork skills and a map that his father gave him. But is that enough to help him get back home?

War of Chaos

Stig and his friends Arn and Baits head out of the city of Chelldrah-ham on a mission to Polandrea. Their task is to determine whether the battling Bach creatures still pose a threat.

Stig has his own plans to find and rescue his missing friend Meg in Polandrea. Baits, meanwhile, is tasked as a member of the Guard of Old to search for signs of their absent leader, Lillet. Little do they know the danger that awaits them.

Chelldrah-ham prepares for war when the trio finds evidence of recent battles, and Baits learns Lillet’s fate. Stig and his comrades must confront the Bach and learn their mysterious secret if he hopes to rescue Meg.

Stig, Arn, and Baits must rely on their inventions, each other, and their own ingenuity to survive on a harrowing journey through a magical fantasyland fraught with hidden dangers.

Mystical creatures, secret weapons, action, war, and romance—along with author’s own fantastical artwork—await in The Hidden City of Chelldrah-Ham: War of Chaos.

Belas Rift

After the ferocious battle in War of Chaos, Stig and Meg pursue the evil Anet through a swirling interdimensional rift—and straight into new trouble.

On the other side of this portal, the two Manna find themselves in a world of giants and strange, ominous technology—a world that seems as obsessed with greed and gold as Anet herself. They’ve pursued their enemy to her homeland, a country known as England.

Alone and hunted by a terrifying flying machine, Stig and Meg find allies in the unlikeliest places, and they come to realize other Manna have made this trip between worlds before.

When their frantic search leads them to a golden temple hidden deep beneath the earth, Stig learns that fate ties him to this mysterious shrine. Unfortunately, the two Manna have bigger things to worry about. Anet knows Stig and Meg are in England, and she’s using all her resources to hunt them down. Stig’s ability to devise disastrous plans isn’t helping matters, but the Manna can’t afford to give up now. Anet is breeding new creatures to unleash on Chelldrah-ham, and it’s starting to look as if the Manna simply can’t stop her this time.

“Each of the three books in this magical collection are full of wonder and imagination with delightfully multi-faceted characters and a plot which keeps readers enthralled throughout this dynamic series. With a background in engineering and art, author Stephan von Clinkerhoffen lends a unique perspective to this enchanting series which he both wrote and illustrated.” Literary Classics Book Awards

In addition to the above-linked titles, a color edition of Belas Rift is available for purchase on Amazon.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Patricia Reding

Author, Patricia Reding, won two medals in this year’s Literary Classics Book Awards contest. Her novel, Ephemeral & Fleeting: The Oathtaker Series, Volume Three, took Silver in both High School Fantasy and College Fantasy. Oathtaker: The Oathtaker Series, Volume One was a 2015 Gold winner, and Select: The Oathtaker Series, Volume Two, was a 2016 Silver winner, both for fantasy/young adult.

Congratulations on your achievements! When did you first start writing?

Thank you so much, Chess, for inviting me, and thank you for the well wishes!

I’ve always written, but for many years did not do any creative writing to speak of. Then about a decade ago, after reading a truly extraordinary fantasy series, I found myself floundering, trying to find stories that would live up to the level of that series in terms of the character development, the element of surprise, and so on. At the same time, I didn’t find myself attracted to fantasy stories that required a glossary to be able to identify what was happening, or that used names for people and places that were so odd that I was unable to pronounce them. For me, stories that do these things make for slow and tedious reads, as I find I must stop regularly to re-read and to do some figuring, just to get to the crux of the matter. After some time of frustration, I decided I’d try myself. I wanted to know if I could tell a full-length story that was of the type I would read—and that was in the nature of what I would/could encourage my (then young teenage) daughters to read. My intention was to illustrate life principles in a fantasy world, thereby potentially influencing young people in ways that would encourage them to do the best they could do and to be the best they could be.

What’s the target age group for your books?

The target audience is really young women 15 and up—but I’ve had readers as young as 13, and as old as 80. Those on both extremes have thoroughly enjoyed the stories. This is a difficult balancing act, as to reach young readers, you need characters young enough that they may identify with them, while to reach older readers, you need a story “real” enough for them not to feel that it is only for a school-aged audience.

What inspired your award-winning books?

The 2017 award winner, Ephemeral and Fleeting, is the third in a fantasy series (in which more installments are yet to come). In each story, I illustrate one or more life principles that I think are worthy of attention. In Oathtaker, Volume One, I addressed the importance of being true to your word, as well as the difficulty that one may experience to do so—and the glory that may come of making the right decisions. In Select, Volume Two, I addressed the importance of determining your life calling—identifying that thing that you and only you are called to do. Ephemeral and Fleeting, Volume Three, was my attempt at addressing the issue of the power people have over life and death. Sometimes the power comes from extraordinary circumstances (or to magic, even!), while in other cases, it is about life decisions that we make.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

Reigna (yes, this is spelled correctly, as her name is derived from the word “reign”):

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse . . . A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice—is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself . . .”

–John Stuart Mill

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your books?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I do have plans for audio books. I’ve wanted to do the audio myself and have been working on Volume One for some time!

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I guess since I’m working on the audio books myself, the answer to this question would be “me.” Notwithstanding, when Volume One first placed in a contest, WindDancer Films also chose it for further review. I gave some thought to what I would want to do if I had to consider the person to play Mara, the main protagonist in the series (if the story was to be filmed). Mara is a young woman who, for the most part, I did not describe in Oathtaker—with one notable exception. I mention that she has a spattering of freckles across her nose. Dixon finds them amusing—attractive. The “face” I chose for Mara on my cover is that of Mybelin Hernandez. She does not have freckles, but I imagine if she ever played the part of Mara, we could add them.

I find her quite lovely—and interesting. What I don’t know, is if she acts, as well!

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

As is true of so many, I thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter Series, which matured from mid-grade reads to YA reads with the last additions to the series. I also quite enjoyed (and especially loved the movies for) The Hunger Games. I liked Kristin Cashore’s Graceling when I read it some years ago, and Tamora Pierce’s Trickster books (Daughter of the Lioness Series) also are intriguing. For kids books, my choices will date me a bit . . . I love the Junie B Jones books (and OH, what fun they are to read out loud!), the A Series of Unfortunate Events series, and so many more!

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I don’t think so . . . except that I learned some time ago that I can most easily avoid that feeling of “writer’s block” coming upon me if I follow one simple procedure. That is, whenever I leave my writing for a day, I leave it mid-sentence or mid-paragraph—or at a minimum, mid-scene, if at all possible. The reason is because when I then sit down the next time, I can start right in with finishing that thought and it seems to move more quickly from there. If I do otherwise, too often I find myself staring a blank screen wondering where to go next.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

Ha! Not nearly as well as I wish I did. The hardest part for me is the promotion—not because I don’t have good ideas about what to do, but because efforts geared at the marketing/promotional end seem to take the most time. I still work a day job—and with two in college, continue to have significant added “living” costs. (Yes, there are tuition costs for them, but there are also living expenses, rent, groceries, cell phones fees, health insurance premiums, health costs, car insurance premiums, and so on, and so on, and so on!) Interestingly, I was just looking at some charts the other day that are supposed to calculate when you can retire. I’m not getting my hopes up, at this point . . . Still, I’d like to think that when the day comes that I’m not supporting so many others, I might be able to write on a more full-time basis. At that point, maybe taking time out for marketing endeavors will come easier.

While we are on the subject of marketing, I would like to mention an interesting program called Bublish. Whereas readers get to leave their thoughts by virtue of their reviews., etc., Bublish is a tool that allows authors to share the background to their stories—their reasoning, or whatever else might be interesting about their writing. Find examples of some of the book bubbles I’ve posted, see: (for Oathtaker) https://www.bublish.com/bubble/stream/12594; (for Select) https://www.bublish.com/bubble/stream/12631; and (for Ephemeral and Fleeting) https://www.bublish.com/bubble/stream/12688. Fun. Right?

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

Oh, but of course! (We authors always have something to say—especially if we can do it in writing!) I would like to say, “Thank you” for taking the time with me here. Thank you for reading and following The Oathtaker Series. I always love to hear from readers—particularly when they are in the midst of the story. It’s such fun to watch it unfold through their eyes. You see a reader’s experience with a story is so different from the author’s own. You might say that we never really get to read our stories “for the first time.” So, please contact me on my website, Facebook, or elsewhere, and let me know if you’re enjoying the journey!

Author Bio

Multi-award winning author Patricia Reding leads a double life. By day, she practices law. By night, she reads, reviews a wide variety of works, and writes fantasy. She lives on an island on the Mississippi with her husband and youngest daughter (her son and oldest daughter having already flown the nest), and Flynn Rider (an English Cream Golden Retriever). From there she seeks to create a world in which she can be in two places at once. She took up writing The Oathtaker Series as a challenge and re-discovered along the way, the joy of storytelling

Learn more about this author and her writing on Goodreads, Booklikes, Google+, Instagram, and Twitter.

Award-Winning Book

A Lost Freedom. An Ephemeral Existence. A Profound Mystery.

After Mara and her charges, Reigna and Eden—the ranking twin members of the first family of the Select—discover the twins’ unparalleled magic powers, they return to the City of Light. There they train with the Oathtaker forces, preparing a response to the ongoing threat from Zarek, the evil leader of Chiran. But when a traitor in their midst discloses their plans to visit the realm’s border for a closer look, they are captured and imprisoned. Stripped of her Oathtaker’s blade, Mara soon discovers that an unknown power bars her ability to use her attendant magic to escape, or to free the twins.

As Mara’s dreams endeavor to inform her of events to transpire, as her cohorts labor to decipher ancient prophecy, as the twins learn of the power of a magic artifact they carry, and as Lucy struggles to uncover the traitor in their midst, Dixon’s rescue attempt takes shape. Meanwhile, Zarek’s son—the twins’ cousin, Broden—seeks to assist his father’s prisoners. But before he can do so, Mara discovers that the loss of her charges is only one painful outcome that could come to pass.

Escape is impossible; survival, questionable; loss, inevitable.

And yet . . . things are not always what they seem.

Author Patricia Reding continues to engage readers with unexpected twists and a plot which sears with vivid details of events that will keep readers on the edge of their seats in hopeful anticipation of another installment in this fantasy series. Literary Classics Book Awards

Find links to all books in this award-winning series on Patricia Reding’s website.

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Carmela Dutra

Carmela Dutra, won Silver in the Early Reader (General) category in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Keep reading to learn more about this author and her award-winning book, Little Katie Goes to the Moon.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

Thank you, very much Chess. I started writing off and on throughout my school years, taking creative writing classes. My first book was published 2013.

What’s the target age group for your books?

Grades 3-6

What inspired your award-winning book?

I knew I wanted something that would encourage girls in STEAM, I wanted it to be something fun and exciting, I just wasn’t sure what. One day, I was looking at pictures online and saw one of a little girl stretching upwards that read Reach for the Stars! It’s like a switch was flipped, and all these ideas just came spilling out.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

Girls can do anything!

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?

I am currently in the process of finishing my audio book for Little Katie Goes to the Moon. I’m excited to see the finished product with all its sound effects, I hope to have it ready for release very soon.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character? 

My main character is a young girl, around 7-8 years old.  One of my best friends is the voice of Little Katie, I love the personality she gave her. If it were to be someone famous, I’m not sure to be honest.

Do you illustrate your own books?

Yes, I am the author and illustrator of all my books.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss influenced nearly every living American who ever learned to read, and I was one of them. He introduced millions of children to the joys of reading and the magic of wordplay. The way he was able to see things through the eyes of a child, teaching important lessons while you enjoyed tongue twisters. To this day I still say when I grow up I want to be like him.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?  

I cannot work if my space is even the slightest bit out of place. Before I can begin I have to clean and organize everything, after about 20 minutes of working, papers are all over the place and I don’t clean up again until I’m finished. When I’m illustrating it’s a must that I have 90s alternative playing the background. The music really helps set the mood for me and allows me to shut everything out around me.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

It’s not easy. I think most authors hate promoting their own work. I think all of us would love to create our magic, then just move on and have everything fall into place. Sadly, that doesn’t happen for the average writer. Being a work at home mom to a small toddler and a photographer calls for a lot of scheduling! I must admit, I am not the best at sticking to my schedules, but they really help me when I do.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

I want to thank all of my readers, family, friends, and fans. I wouldn’t be able to keep going without all your support. Writing can be very lonely, and you help to make it less so. I would like to give a big congrats to all of my fellow award-winning authors, I am so happy for all of you. I know firsthand how hard all of you have worked to get to this point. Enjoy it, you’ve earned it!

Author Bio

Carmela Dutra is an award-winning author, storyteller, illustrator, wife and mother. She is currently residing with her family in the California Bay Area.

Nothing is more magical for a child than being transported to a new world where they can explore and discover unknown things.  Carmela is very passionate about children’s literacy, which is the main reason she started writing for her niece and nephew. With no intention of her work ever going public, she wanted to create something fun and special for them to enjoy.

She is best known for her frequent visits to classrooms in her community, where she shares her series and encourages children to set free their own creativity through writing, and drawing.

In addition to writing and illustrating, Carmela Dutra is also a professional photographer. Working with children is her passion! Whether she captures their whimsical nature through the lenses of a camera, or with her stories, she hopes to encourage children to find their own passion for reading and writing.

Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Award-Winning Book

Use your imagination and take a walk on the moon side of things with Little Katie and Smudge!

Discover why satellites are so important, explore information about spacesuits, imagine flying in a rocket ship, uncover facts about landing on the moon, learn about who landed on the moon first, and much more!

“This wonderfully imaginative and entirely charming book is one that kids will love to read again and again as they discover fascinating facts along with Katie and Smudge.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Carmela Dutra’s website.

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, S.A. Larsen

S.A. Larsen is the author of Motley Education, the Gold medal winner in the Juvenile/Grade School category of the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

I began writing little poems and songs during my elementary and middle grade school years. That morphed into darker pieces during my high school years when I was figuring out where I fit into the worldor if I fit in at all. (My teenage therapy.) Plus, I’ve written my daily thoughts in a journal for most of my life.

What’s the target age group for your book?

Motley’s target audience is ages 8-13.

What inspired your award-winning book?

My youngest child was born with Apraxia of Speech—a neurological disorder where no pathways from the brain to the mouth muscles exist. (*Basically, CJ had plenty to say, but was unable to speak. Because of that he gained an endearing love of puzzles and books, in particular mythology. We’d read and explore those for hours. He began speech therapy at the age of 22 months. Today, he’s a thriving thirteen year old, who excels in athletics and school, which I attribute to his disciplined years of speech therapy.) So from that background information, I knew I had to include all the Norse myths and history CJ had introduced me to. And my main character Ebony is a kid who is misunderstood because she’s different, yet determined to be who she is. That’s CJ, and in there lies my inspiration.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

“The graveyards are full of people the world could not do without.” (Elbert Hubbard) This is for Ebony Charmed, Motley’s main character and misfit medium. Her favorite place to ‘hang out’ is The Boneyard, which is a cemetery on the other side of a woodlot between her house and Motley Junior High School.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?

An audio version of Motley is currently in the works by my publisher, Leap Books.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I’d probably go with Anna Sophia Robb (from Bridge to Terabithia & Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) in her younger years.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

She’s not a children’s author, but Jane Austen is my absolute favorite and biggest influence. Her ability to knit a story together with such complexity, yet so much flow and emotion fascinates me. Children’s authors that I consider my favorites are LJ Smith, Melissa Marr, Dr. Seuss, Cornelia Funke, Meg Cabot, and Rick Riordan.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I like to write to the sound of the rain or earth tones. Kind of weird, but it works for me.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

I wish I had a better answer for you, but learning to balance it all is still a work in progress for me. I can say that I have found taking time to step back and breathe is vital to keeping it all together. Live, experience, allow for a little crazy, and then return to work. Spreadsheets, calendar lists, and sticky notes are pretty helpful, too.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

To my fellow award-winning authors I’d like to offer a huge round of applause. I’m still in awe that I’ve been included with such an amazingly talented group of writers. And to my readers I’d like to offer up a huge Gouda Cheese thank you, as Ebony Charmed would say. I’m honored you’ve chosen to peek into Ebony and Fleishman’s world of ghosts, Norse beasts, a peculiar school, and of course The Boneyard. I hope you’re looking forward to book II as much as I am! And wait until you see it … think Sleeping Beauty, Sleepy Hollow, and crows. Lots and lots of menacing crows.

Author Bio

As a little girl, S.A. Larsen believed her closet held secret passageways to magical worlds brimming with all sorts of creepy creatures – her favorite kind. Sheri never did find a ghoul or a goblin in her closet, only a half-eaten fluffernutter that her brother repurposed as a hockey puck. Her debut novel Motley Education (Leap Books) is a multiple award-winning, fantasy-adventure for middle grade readers; this is the first book in the series. She’s written young adult stories, community interest newspaper pieces, youth athlete magazine articles, and Marked Beauty her debut YA contemporary-fantasy romance novel, releasing October 17, 2017 (Ellysian Press). She’s also a @MixedUpFiles contributor, #MGLitchat co-host, and writing mentor for First Five Pages under Adventures in YA Publishing. When she’s not chasing her characters around a cemetery or antagonizing them with the wonders of young love, she can be found in the land of lobsters and snowy winters with her husband and four children (yes, they all play hockey), a playful pooch, and three kittens.

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Award-Winning Book

Forget having a lively after school social life, Ebony Charmed is fighting to keep the entire afterlife alive.

Ebony’s less-than-average spirit tracking abilities are ruining more than sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically and Celestially Gifted. Her parents argue so much her dad’s moved out. And, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go, Ebony wouldn’t survive without her best friend, Fleishman.

When Ebony’s Deadly Creatures & Relics’ project goes missing she learns her missing project is one of the keys to saving the spirit world.

Now Ebony and Fleishman must battle beasts from Norse mythology to retrieve her project before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of reuniting her family. But someone lies in wait, and he has other plans…including creating a new world of spirits without them in it.

In addition to Literary Classics Gold, Motley Education has received the following awards:

First Place Winner, 2016 New England Book Festival for excellence in Children’s Literature

Bronze Award Winner, 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards for Best Juvenile/YA Fiction

Honorable Mention, 2017 Purple Dragonfly Awards; ebook

“Full of thrilling twists and an intense battle between good and evil, this fast-paced tale, replete with magical beasts and lovable characters is a must read for young fans of paranormal fiction.” Literary Classics Book Awards

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I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I have!

Read more about the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest winners on my Interviews page and the Literary Classics website.

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Interview: Literary Classics Award Winner, Luke T. Harrington

Author, Luke T. Harrington, won three awards in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! His novel, Ophelia, Alive (A Ghost Story), took Gold in High School Horror/Paranormal, and Silver in both High School Mystery/Thriller and College Horror/Paranormal.

Congratulations on your achievement! When did you first start writing?

Probably before I could technically “write.” I think my mom still has some of the construction-paper-and-crayon “books” I “wrote” as a kid—which, if memory serves, were mostly about me defeating alien invasions. She promised to embarrass me in front of all my high school girlfriends with them, but I’m not sure she ever made good on that threat. As far as I’m concerned, they’re still a ticking time bomb—my mom could still blackmail me with them at any moment.

I really didn’t get serious about writing until a few years ago, though—right around the time my first child was born and I realized I’d probably never be a pop star. (There was a whole quarter-life crisis involving a failed American Idol audition, which…the less said about that, the better.)

What’s the target age group for your book?

In my mind, I was writing my book for an adult-ish audience, but despite that, my good friend best-selling author K.B. Hoyle (name drop!) encouraged me to submit it to Literary Classics, who gave it two votes for “high school” and one for “college.”

I’d personally recommend it for a college audience, since that’s the life stage my main character, Ophelia, is at, and the themes are pretty “adult.” Mature high school audiences could probably handle it, though—my mom (there she is again!) donated a few copies to some high school libraries, and no one’s shown up at my door with torches and pitchforks yet, so I guess that’s a good sign.

What inspired your award-winning book?

Ophelia, Alive is a novel about how “the killer” might be lurking within each of us, which is a question that’s been gnawing at me for a long time. I’ve long been fascinated by stories of “homicidal somnambulists”—people who go through their lives as normal, upstanding citizens, but then, one night, just get up and commit a murder or three in their sleep. Assuming the stories are true, are those people really different from conscious, deliberate killers? And are any of us? Or are we all just waiting to have that particular “switch” flipped?

What inspired me most directly, though, was an article I read about a stop-smoking pill called Chantix. It’s a psychoactive drug that, for most people, just prevents them from enjoying cigarettes; for a handful of people, though, it triggers symptoms analogous to paranoid schizophrenia. It kind of blew my mind—both that it exists and that it’s FDA-approved—and it seemed like way too good of an idea for a story to pass up.

Then I threw in some ghosts and Shakespeare. And poop jokes. Every good novel needs poop jokes.

Describe one of your characters with a cliché or a famous quote.

“Poor Ophelia / Divided from herself and her fair judgment, / Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts.” —Gertrude, Hamlet Act IV Scene 5

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released an audio edition of your book?

That’s the sort of thing I’d love to do, but my publisher would have to give the greenlight to it. Actually, I’d love to just record the audiobook myself (“record an audiobook” is def on the ol’ bucket list), but my narrator is female, so…eh. No one wants to listen to twenty hours of me trying to sound convincingly female.

Who would you cast as the voice actor for your main character?

I’m going to say Kristen Stewart, mainly because I just watched Personal Shopper (another good ghost story), and her performance in that was beautifully understated. Also because I’m sure there’s a ton of money to be made off of Twilight fans.

Who are some of your favorite YA and/or children’s book authors?

Louis Sachar is the one who immediately comes to mind here. He was essentially the author I grew up with, and who grew up with me—he got me early as a kid with his wacky Wayside School books, but my jaw dropped when I read his thoughtful coming-of-age novel Holes as a high school student. Sachar taught me, indirectly, that it’s possible to be funny while still pursuing insight and depth.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I only type by smacking my laptop keyboard with a dead fish.

But for real, not really, I guess? I get up before sunrise to write every day, and I use my kitchen island as my desk. Are those things weird? They’re kind of weird.

How do you balance writing with book promotion and everything else there is to do in life?

I have no clue. I was hoping you’d tell me.

Do you have anything special you’d like to say to your readers or fellow award-winning authors?

You all should buy a Nintendo Switch. Those things are more fun than an explosion of rainbows and puppies.

(Chess’s Ed. Note: Remember the line above about being funny while pursuing insight and depth? Yeah, me too. Pretty sure it applies here.)

Author Bio

In addition to three Literary Classics medals, Luke T. Harrington’s debut novel, OPHELIA, ALIVE (A GHOST STORY) also snagged itself an Independent Publisher Book Award for horror. Luke’s writing has also appeared in publications such as Cracked, BuzzFeed, Christianity Today, and also the back of a napkin once.

Luke lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife and two young daughters, where he’s a stay-at-home dad, a freelance editor, and basically a pro at Nintendo Switch.

Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Award-Winning Book

Trapped in the fifth circle of state university hell…
…flat broke…
…and then the bodies start piling up.


I should have sensed something wrong when my mortician sister offered me a job. And I should have known something was up when she talked me into taking those pills. At the very least, the hallucinations should have been a red flag.

But now, here I am, standing over a half-eaten corpse.

I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming.

“Horror meets literary fiction in this unique novel in which Shakespeare, Poe, and the like join efforts to create a surreal montage of thoughtful introspection.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon.

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