middle grade

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, 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.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website | Blog | Goodreads | AmazonAuthorPage

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

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads

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, Gary Schwartz

The King of Average, written by Gary Schwartz, won two Golds in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest, placing in Tween (General) and Middle School (Fiction). Schwartz will be attending the book festival in South Dakota this September.

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

I’ve written skits and sketches to perform in and kept a journal from the age of thirteen into my forties. During my career in Los Angeles as an actor, I tried my hand at screenplays and scripts but it wasn’t until my fifties that I attempted to write a book.

What’s the target age group for your book?

I’ve always enjoyed entertaining children, but I try to write for adults at the same time. It’s like Rocky and Bullwinkle. I loved the cartoon as a kid, but as I got older I realized it was adult political satire. I watch it today and still enjoy it. That’s my goal to write for kids but aim something at grownups.

What inspired your award-winning book?

To be sure it was The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. It was one of my favorite childhood books and I came up with the idea of trying to be more average than anyone else when I was eleven. That idea made me want to tell the same kind of story with great puns and wordplay.

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

“Every cloud has a silver lining.” Spoken by Monsieur Roget, the professional Optimist. I named him Roget, because I got tired of looking up synonyms for optimist in Roget’s Thesaurus.

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

I have already released the audio book this year and I will have special CD copies for sale at the festival.

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

Me, of course! 🙂 It’s no secret that my story’s hero, James, was me at age 11. Actually, my other career is as a voice actor in movies, TV and video games. (I am the voice of Heavy Weapons Guy and The Demoman in Team Fortress 2, Langus Tuno in Star Wars, The Old Republic, The Pilot and the “Tank” in Left 4 Dead 2 and several other games as well. Here’s a link to my IMDB profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0777229/.)

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

My illustrator was a friend of a friend. She was a concept artist at Walt Disney Company and I gave her ideas on how I imagined each character. Her name is Nicole Armitage.

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

J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank L. Baum, Roald Dahl, Norton Juster and C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I write in bursts. I procrastinate a lot, but when I get going I can sit for ten or more hours at a time. I love when that happens. I re-read a lot and vacillate between hating it and thinking it’s not so bad. I would like to be more disciplined, and am trying to be more scheduled, but to date, I have not been super successful. I hired a writing mentor to keep me accountable. That is how I got to finish my book after five re-writes.

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

I use book promotion as a way to procrastinate on my current writing project. It’s actually fun to promote, as that is what an actor essentially does his whole career. Promote yourself and work on your craft. I’m coming late to the writing game, but I want to achieve a level of success, if I can.

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

I am glad my first book was so well received and I’m thrilled to know ‘real working authors’ and learn from them. This is a new world for me and so far, the writers I’ve met have been smart, hard-working and really interesting.

Author Bio

Gary Schwartz is an actor, director, and master improvisational acting coach.

He has appeared in numerous film and television projects, including the Oscar-winning feature film Quest for Fire. Schwartz has written for two children’s television series in which he co-starred: Zoobilee Zoo as Bravo Fox and the Disney Channel’s You and Me, Kid. As a voice-over artist, he’s lent his voice to hundreds of film and television projects and is the voice of several well-known video game characters, including Heavy Weapons Guy and Demoman in Team Fortress 2.

The King of Average is his first novel. Learn more at gary-schwartz.com.

You can also follow him and his writing on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Award-Winning Book

This delightful, pun-filled allegory tells the story of a neglected boy who is convinced he has no worth.  Inspired to become the King of Average, he undertakes a journey to a fantasy land filled with interesting characters that have strong personalities while also being archetypes. The book is fast-moving and funny, with a touch of sadness. It will appeal to adults as much as young readers, reminding all that average is not easy since everyone is special in his or her own way.

“This book has incredible depth with a delightfully engaging plot, threads of humor throughout, and a resounding underlying message that is truly inspired.” Literary Classics Book Awards

Amazon ~ Barnes&Noble ~ Audible

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Beacon (Lantern, #2) Cover Update!

I’m excited to share Beacon‘s new cover, featuring the main character, Serah Kettel.

When Serah’s life in Havenbrim becomes unbearable, she accepts an apprenticeship with a celestial mechanic and glazier. Her master assigns her the task of opening a globe framed in copper. But the glass and seal are unbreakable. The solution to the puzzle traps Serah inside the globe, and transports her to a world where she longs for home.

Download Beacon for: Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, and more! (Only 99 cents through the end of March!)

I hope you enjoy the Lantern stories. You can sign up for my newsletter to get a message when Torch (Lantern, #3) comes out!