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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, Lynne Stringer

Stringer’s novel, Once Confronted, won Silver in College Fiction in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Learn more about this author and her award-winning book below.

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

I started writing when I was about eight, penning a little book called Goldie the Pony. It was written in felt-tip pen and I remember loving the experience of writing a book. I tried to write a few novels in my teens but didn’t manage to complete a full-length manuscript until I was in my twenties. Interestingly, the book that became Once Confronted was the third full-length original story I ever wrote.

What’s the target age group for your books?

Seventeen years and up, although I think teens of any age would enjoy it and I know many adults have!

What inspired your award-winning book?

Once Confronted was first written seven years after I was the victim of an armed robbery. I’d been exploring the storyline in my head for some time, and I think it came from the desire to be more like my protagonist, Madison Craig. She’s far braver than me and I wished I had that kind of bravery myself.

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

Be the change that you wish to see in the world.

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

I’d like to but considering the level of quality I’d want I daresay I wouldn’t be able to afford it!

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

Emilie de Ravin, especially since she’s Australian. She wouldn’t have trouble with the accent. 🙂

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

Enid Blyton inspired me to write as a child. I’ve also loved LM Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Veronica Rossi and Stephenie Meyer.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

I differ from many other authors in the fact that I hate writing outlines and refuse to use them. The only outline I have is in my head and often the characters take control once I start writing.

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

It’s hard to find a balance, that’s for sure, especially since I need to have a job that earns money and writing doesn’t often do that! Fortunately, I work as a professional editor so that keeps my writing skills honed.

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

Never give up.

Author Bio

Lynne Stringer has been passionate about writing all her life. She was the editor of a small newspaper (later magazine) for seven years, and currently works as a professional editor and proofreader.

Lynne wrote her debut novel, The Heir (Verindon #1), in 2010. It was quickly followed by two sequels to complete the Verindon trilogy, a YA sci-fi romance series. Her latest book, Once Confronted, is a contemporary drama set in Australia and was released in October 2016.

For more information on Lynne, her books and her writing, visit her website: www.lynnestringer.com. You can also connect with her on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube, and Pinterest.

Award-Winning Book

After a normal day turns disastrous, Madison Craig tries to put her life back together. She’s jumping at shadows and finds even familiar places terrifying. Can she forgive the men who hurt her? Her friend Evan Mansfield sees no need to do anything but hate their assailants. He struggles with bitterness, but Maddy wants to move on. What will she do when one of the men asks for forgiveness?

“Once Confronted is a moving story that sheds light on the trauma experienced by victims of assault.  Author Lynne Stringer has crafted a powerful book with an important message of healing and forgiveness.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon.

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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, D. G. Driver

D. G. Driver’s book, No One Needed to Knowwon Silver for Preteen Fiction in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! Learn more about this author and her writing below.

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

I began writing very young as a hobby, creating my first picture book stories while still in elementary school. I started writing professionally a couple years after I graduated college, selling my first story to a magazine and having my first play produced in 1994.

What’s the target age group for your books?

I primarily write middle grade and young adult novels. The majority of my readers tend to be kids in middle school. No One Needed to Know is targeted at kids 8-13.

What inspired your award-winning book?

No One Needed to Know is based loosely on my own experience as a younger sibling of a brother with Developmental Disabilities. My brother is four years older than me and was starting high school when I was in 6th grade. He wasn’t diagnosed as Autistic, because that wasn’t a well-known disorder back then. We figured it out later on. Still, my brother and I were great friends and played together a lot. When I was reaching puberty, I became less interested in playing pretend or having adventures, and that’s when it dawned on me that my much older brother should have stopped wanting to play that way years earlier. I based the novel on this turning point in my life and also on the bullying that my brother and I both dealt with as kids.

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

“I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is” Forrest Gump – works a little for Donald, Heidi’s brother. He’s a true sweetheart.

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

I would like to do an audiobook, but I haven’t made any solid effort in that direction yet. I welcome all the suggestions.

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

I don’t really follow any audiobook narrators. If I were to find a studio here in Nashville to record it, I might hire my daughter who is 16 and a talented actress. I think she would sound great as Heidi.

Do you illustrate your own books?

My book isn’t illustrated, but I did the cover myself. I found an image from stock art for Heidi. Then I ran it through a program to make it look like a drawing instead of a photo. I used a background image of the iconic Autism puzzle pieces and changed the color to a more muted tone. The book takes place in the fall at school, so I wanted the puzzle pieces to appear a little like falling leaves. I put it all together on Canva.

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

I have many and the list grows. I have to admit I was inspired to write by Judy Blume and Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy – my favorite book in 6th grade). Current authors that blow me away consistently are my Nashville SCBWI friends: Tracy Barrett, Ruta Sepetys, Kristin O’Donnell Tubb, and Sharon Cameron, (among others).

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Not really. When I’m really under a deadline, I have to get away from the internet, so sometimes I’ll drive somewhere and write at a park or in my car, so I don’t have the option of going online.

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

It’s very difficult. I have a full-time job as a teacher, and I’m a parent and wife. Writing time is precious. I tend to do promotion stuff on weeknight evenings after work (and sneak in a tweet or two during the day at work), and I do my writing in sprints on the weekends. For this reason I’m a little slower than most indie authors at getting new work out.

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

Congratulations to all the 2017 winners. It takes a lot of courage and determination to write a book and then just a smidge more to enter a contest. I think an award for a book is a nice validation for hard work and effort. I hope for readers, it is seen as a marker that these books are worth their time. For my part, I feel certain that if the issues of bullying and special needs are dear to your heart, you will enjoy the story and message of No One Needed to Know.

Author Bio

D. G. Driver likes to write about diverse people dealing with social or environmental issues, but she likes to include a touch of fantasy or fun, too. She primarily writes middle grade and young adult fiction. She is the award-winning author of the YA eco-fiction series The Juniper Sawfeather Novels, which includes Cry of the Sea, Whisper of the Woods, and Echo of the Cliffs. She has stories in a variety of anthologies, and her newest book is a middle grade story about bullying and Autism awareness called No One Needed to Know. When she isn’t writing, she is teaching, performing in a local community theater musical, or probably watching TV.

Connect with D. G. Driver on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads, and her website.

Award-Winning Book

Heidi was trying to keep a secret. Her brother, Donald, is 16 and Autistic. She has always loved playing with him, but now she’s 11 and her life is changing. She’s embarrassed to have Donald around and tries not to tell anyone about him. High school boys bully him. When the kids at her school find out about him, she starts getting bullied, too. It’s not fair. No one seems to understand what she’s going through.

But Heidi needs to understand, too. She can’t change her brother, but she can change how she feels about him, and she can get people to see why her brother is special.

“Author D.G. Driver’s No One Needed to Know touches on many of the issues encountered by siblings of special needs kids. A book which will appeal to a broad audience, readers of all ages will appreciate Heidi’s story.” Literary Classics Book Awards

This book is available on Amazon (print ed.) and the Schoolwide Inc. Zing! Digital Library (ebook ed.). Learn more at www.dgdriver.com/no-one-needed-to-know.html.

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, Danielle A. Vann

Two of Vann’s novels won awards in the 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards contest! The Whizbang Machine, Book 1, won Silver in Preteen (11+), and Tunney’s Curse, Book 2, won Gold, also in Preteen.

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

I’ve been writing since I was a child—seriously! I was the kid that stayed up all night reading and writing. I started writing intensely in high school. I had an English teacher that pushed me to write more, be better, focus. She submitted one of my pieces to a contest called Wings of Freedom. It won and was displayed in the White House and then the later in the halls of Congress. It inspired me to keep writing. I selected journalism in college so that I could write daily. I knew that being an author was ultimately where I would finish my professional career. Roughly ten years ago I shifted my focus and started to write for the commercial market. Since then, I have five traditionally published books to my credit.

What’s the target age group for your books?

I’ve been very fortunate to not be stuck in a genre. I have two children’s picture books series, a non-fiction Christian book with friend and celebrity carpenter, Brandon Russell, and then the Young Adult series, The Whizbang Machine, book 1 and The Whizbang Machine, Tunney’s Curse, Book 2, that placed silver and gold in the CLC awards. I’m the mother of three children ranging in ages from 12 ½ to 5. I began to notice that my older daughters were struggling to find engaging, clean series for their age groups. I wrote The Whizbang series free of sexual content, extreme violence, etc. I wanted to give them a book they could read without being exposed to questionable behaviors. I too wanted it to be a series that children from ages 10 to college level could read as a part of classroom materials.

What inspired your award-winning books?

This is an easy one, and honestly something I like to refer to as serendipity.

One month before I was given the pleasure of signing my contract with the Waldorf Publishing team, my dear friend Erin snapped a photograph of an old Royal typewriter, seated in a beautiful tan and maroon case, which her family had been gifted. Knowing my affinity for antiques, especially those that deal with writing and literary works, she sent me a text one early Sunday morning with the words, “Look at what David’s father gave us.”

I hadn’t yet made my way out of bed as it was still very early. Hearing the familiar chime of my phone, I wondered who was texting me at that time. As the photo came through, with it came the idea for the first book. I sprang from bed and began outlining. Unbeknownst to Erin, that single photo became my muse. In honor of this gift, her oldest daughter became the basis for the character of Elizabeth Yale. The rest of the series has honestly taken on a life of its own. I write as it comes and once I start, it’s impossible to get the characters to stop finding their through my fingertips.

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

Oh, I’m cringing but it’s true: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen!” HA!

Elizabeth Yale tries to get out of the drama, but well, sadly, she’s a drama magnet.

Do you have plans to, or have you already, released audio editions of your book(s)?

I’m very lucky to have had Audible buy into the rights for Book 1 and Book 2 very early in the game. In fact, they were sold before book 2 was nothing more than a single chapter. The Whizbang Machine is available on Audible.com and it is also can be purchased in physical copy through Audible, Barnes and Noble, Target, and other select retailers. We are hopeful that Audible will continue supporting the Whizbang series and buy into book 3 and 4 soon.

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

Bailey Carr is my voice actor for book 1 and book 2. She is an INCREDIBLE! She has many award-winning books to her credit. Working with her is easy and pleasurable. The exciting part is both Whizbang books are full of Dutch words as they are set in Leiden, the Netherlands. She has been amazing to make sure she brings to the table all she can in the way of correct pronunciation and inflection. Truly, Bailey is a star in her own right.

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

One of my favorite writers is Garth Stein. He is amazing. He brings a simplicity to the page that I would be so lucky to employ. I can’t help but marvel at his talent. My favorite book of his is called, The Art of Racing in the Rain. I loved the fact that they moved it over into YA and republished it. The minute they did I purchased a copy for my oldest daughter and forced her to read it. I’m happy to say she loved it as much I do and did.

Clearly, there are so many other masters of the craft such as J.K. Rowling. I love that she refuses to back down from long, somewhat complicated text and gives it her all. Readers, whether reluctant or not, are pulled into her spell. That, to me, is her true gift of magic.

Lastly, I’m a fan of Ridley Pearson. His Kingdom Keepers series is something I’ve read with my children. They eat up everything he writes. He, too, works to keep the scenes clean and accessible to the young and old. That is something we need more these days. I’m no prude, mind you, but I do believe in the magical time of childhood. There is plenty of time to muck it up later, both in life and in fiction.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

Actually no. I don’t think so. I am a straight from the book kind of girl. I work from a detailed outline. I stick to deadlines. I love quiet and no music while writing. If I am not feeling it, I walk away and come back. End of story. Kind of boring if you ask me. The scene is all the noise I need. Oh, I guess I do bounce my legs like I’m running a timed marathon when the action is happening. That’s quirky, I guess.

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

Oh boy, this is the million dollar questions, isn’t it?! Well, since I’m traditionally published the weight of promotion doesn’t fall directly on my shoulders. I have a wonderful team that backs what I do. Don’t get me wrong, I do a ton of my own. I write in the morning between 5 a.m. and roughly 10 a.m. every single day except for Sunday. I work for a publisher as the marketing specialist so I do my day job after that, and make sure I’m available to my family when and where they need me. That is, if I’m not traveling. However, they have been very lucky to travel with me as well.

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

Absolutely! To the readers, thank you! I truly know that without someone to read my work what I do is meaningless. Truly, it is. I am always thrilled to hear from readers. I love it when they attend my events and speak about different scenes or even about the impact one of my books had on them. That truly is amazing to me. Oftentimes I feel that they know my work better than I know it! And for that, I’m so grateful. I welcome anyone to reach out through my social media sites and open a productive and positive conversation.

To my fellow award-winning authors, CONGRATS! Congrats! I recently was in Paris at another awards ceremony and while I was speaking I was able to say something that I truly believe in. And that is, writing is the intersection of determination and passion. I didn’t say talent and luck. I said determination and passion. Because, you see, I believe that once you have placed your intention and goals on what you love, passion sparks talent and luck is nothing but hard work in the making.

Author Bio and Award-Winning Books

Danielle A. Vann started her career as a television news writer at the tender age of 18. With a passion for writing Vann committed to learning every aspect of the newsroom as she worked her way up to reporter and anchor within two short years. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma she took an anchor position in Louisiana. Her career as a reporter and anchor earned her an Associate Press Award. Her book genres span a wide-range from children’s books with two highly reviewed series, award-winning YA fiction, and five star non-fiction title. Danielle lives in Texas with her husband and three children.

Connect with Vann on Twitter, Facebook, and her website.

After years of running from his tragic past, Jack Yale books a flight home. With him is a typewriter that is intended to be a gift for his granddaughter, Elizabeth. The minute Elizabeth’s fingers cradle the large black and cream keys the machine responses: popping, sizzling, and roaring to life with a Whiz-Whiz-BANG!

Elizabeth quickly discovers the typewriter has powers beyond anything she has ever seen. The more she types, the more the machine spells out guarded secrets. Each secret leads them deeper into a haunted past. Each secret must be revealed in order to set history straight and remove a curse that has been on their family for centuries.

To solve the mystery, Elizabeth Yale, alongside Jack, will have to crack the code of the Whizbang Machine. What they find challenges their most basic assumptions of their family, the history of the typewriter, and even Elizabeth’s father’s death. The ultimate goal is to remove the curse. The question is: will Jack and Elizabeth be able to carry out their mission?

“The Whizbang Machine is an incredibly suspenseful book which will have readers of all ages eagerly turning pages with enthusiasm as they wait to see what will become of Elizabeth and her eccentric grandfather, Jack.” Literary Classics Book Awards

Amazon ~ Target ~ Barnes&Noble

“The Whizbang Machine, Tunney’s Curse” finds Elizabeth Yale clinging to life. Her plan to save the Whizbang machine has backfired. As her grandfather, Jack, feverishly works to save her, the Whizbang factory begins to topple down around them. Narrowly escaping, the pair realizes the Whizbang machine is missing. Jack and Elizabeth must follow the clues Elizabeth’s deceased father, Jesse, left behind to unravel the secrets of Tunney’s Curse and stop it once and for all. This must be done before Elizabeth’s mother’s 40th birthday—which is mere days away. As they dig, they are sent on a wild chase into the dark underbelly of the Netherlands, into the city’s canals looking for a sunken ship, and through the private chambers of a Queen. Each new secret exposed only deepens the mystery of Jack and Elizabeth’s family’s past. The ultimate questions remain: will they gather the clues and stop the curse in time? Or will someone fall to the curse once and for all?

“Recommended for home and school libraries, The Whizbang Machine: Tunney’s Curse is a dynamic fantasy adventure with mystery, action, suspense and intrigue.” Literary Classics Book Awards

Amazon ~ Target ~ Barnes&Noble

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, 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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