Blog Archives

A Magical Theme

S. Jackson Author Interview

S. Jackson Author Interview

Uncle Stubby Gets Married takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together into a fantastic story of kindness and cheer. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a kids book about this subject?

First – wild squirrels. We have them in our backyard and the neighbors do as well. They are truly wild but they also come up to eat nuts and seeds my husband puts out for them, as well as the water. We watch their funny antics and many have names such Stubby due to his short tail, Sparkles because she is a juvie squirrel with a radiant white tummy, Foxy – well she is a mama squirrel and has had litters in two years. Cutter has a tear in his ear, Nibbler has a small tear and a hole in his ear, and so on. Shadow is our daughter’s small dog and one day we thought the squirrels and Shadow would make for a good children’s book. Shadow and the squirrels had just spent Christmas in New York City and Central Park when the idea of Uncle Stubby Gets Married hit us. We love to teach kindness with all the animals in our books, and to have them be friends no matter what the animals were like in the real world. We also figured it was high time Uncle Stubby got married.

What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

Friendship and kindness are very important and those elements are always added in our children’s book. We teach safety and learning about animals in our books, and we like to have everything colorful and eye catching. Having the animals work together in the wedding illustrates how children can work together in the real world, also.

I felt that the art in the book was well conceived. How did you decide on which images and themes to use?

Theme wise we knew if the wedding was held in a magical fairy forest, that no animal could even remotely get hurt, or preyed upon by hawks and other predators. In keeping with a magical theme it was only proper to use magical animal characters and a magical forest as the setting.

Uncle Stubby Gets Married is book 5 in the Shadow and Friends Series. What is the next book in the series and when will it be available?

Book 6 is a work in progress, and the title is Shadow and Friends Circus Adventures. Not only will the squirrels, Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, be a part of the circus; plans include many different animals and the the acts will also be done in a magical theme. We are planning on releasing in early May, 2017. We also have book 7 as a work in progress and Shadow and her friends will help the town of Ellsworth, Kansas, celebrate it’s 150th birthday August 2017. This will be a fun book, too, with all the old west built in, and it should be available early to mid July, 2017.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Uncle Stubby Gets Married (Shadow and Friends Series Book Five 5) by [Jackson, S., Raymond, A., Schmidt, M.]“In this children’s picture book, and sixth book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Uncle Stubby Gets Married, a fox squirrel named Uncle Stubby has fallen in love with a girl squirrel named Sparkles. Squirrel family and friends, including a small dog named Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, are invited to attend the wedding in a special Valentine Fairy Forest. Uncle Stubby thinks Sparkles is the most beautiful girl squirrel in the land. Uncle Stubby’s twin, Shorty, flies in from New York City with his family, and Shorty is best man for his brother. Foxy is matron of honor for Sparkles. The Valentine Fairy Forest is truly a magical land, the illustrations show how this dream forest looks, and all the animals are safe in this forest both day and night. Along the way, we meet mouse fairies, and Minister Mouse conducts the wedding. Sparkles’ wears a crown, and Uncle Stubby is dressed in a cummerbund. Various other animals are present, including one unicorn, and the bride and groom spend their wedding night in Walnut Forest, a special part of the Valentine Fairy Forest. Children will love seeing how magical the forest is, with abundant sparkles thrown in for good measure. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-11, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. This story illustrates how beautiful the Valentine Fairy Forest looks, produces pure imagination in children, and the illustrations will fascinate children and adults.”

Buy Now From Amazon.com

The Jinxed Pirate

The Jinxed Pirate (Graylands, #2)5 Stars

Adventures like these don’t come very often. Riddled with intrigue and building up a world The Jinxed Pirate by M. Walsh is a definite read. We have a delightful cast of characters from the mercenary to the tragic warrior princess with a splash of other-worldly beings as well. All of their lives and paths will come together in an excellent adventure where you might find yourself rooting for the bad-guy without realizing it. Each character is on a journey of sorts and where it leads them is anything short of ordinary. What happens when the warrior princess can’t save her people? What about the mercenary who doesn’t seem all that interested in what he’s doing? Our title character himself even seems to shift his shape depending on what his needs are. The carnal animal driven only by his desires. These all come together with fantastic story-telling and riveting action to create a beast of a tale.

The language in this book is intellectual without being dry; descriptive without being desperate. Walsh knows how to craft a tale and the way the narrative flows demonstrates an excellent grasp of a writer’s tools. Our prologue and epilogue are written in the first person, yet we don’t know much about who is showing us this world. The rest of the tale is told from the third person and that effortless transition really speaks to how well Walsh has command over the story. Some authors can let the tale run away from them and it ends up becoming nonsense. Walsh takes on a large task, and delivers.

While this book appears to be part of a series, it can stand alone just fine. It is rare to find an excellent book that is part of a larger tapestry that can be enjoyed on its own. The Jinxed Pirate achieves that sense of completion without discounting the possibility of the world being expanded either before or after the events we read about.

In the first few chapters we are introduced to our cast of characters. The descriptions that Walsh provides enhances the image in the mind of the reader. The reader is also not overwhelmed by excessive information. There is a delicate balance to be struck here and Walsh appears to be no slouch with his craft. The imagery and information flow effortlessly together.

If you’re looking for an excellent read with the potential to be wrapped up in a bigger world, The Jinxed Pirate by M. Walsh is a must-read. Too often writers attempt to create worlds that span multiple books but rely to heavily on the audience consuming every single volume in order. Enough backstory is explained in this edition that prior knowledge of the world is not required. This only proves to intrigue the reader and assist in capturing their attention and desire to know more. This is not a book to be underestimated. Readers will not go wrong adding this to their ever-growing pile of ‘must-reads’. This reviewer suggests that, perhaps, you place this one near the top.

Pages: 494 | ASIN: B06VWKX52Q

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Lucy Finds a Home

Lucy Finds a Home (Lucy's Tale #1)5 Stars

Lucy Finds a Home by Rolynda Tassan features an adorable little grey kitten who got lost in the forest after climbing out of the basket she shared with her siblings. It is a short and sweet tale about a lost animal searching for it’s place in the world, and comes across many different animals and struggles as it looks for a family and a home to call it’s own. It rings true to classic children’s stories that revolve around discovery and identifying animals, and the kitten Lucy goes through a series of emotions as she tries to find a family with the forest creatures.

This book is good for children because you can show them that hard-work will always bring in good results. Most children books have simple meaning to them, and the story about Lucy is the same. You can teach a lot of different easy to understand life lessons by following Lucy’s quest for finding a home in the world. When the story begins, Lucy is in a basket with her other siblings, and the picture shows that the kittens are free and available to be taken in by a good home. Of course Lucy doesn’t read the sign, and wanders off to go explore.

In her exploration, Lucy comes across animals like turtles and deer, whom all welcome her into their lives. Unfortunately, Lucy finds out that she doesn’t quite belong with the woodland animals as she tries out their different food and living situations. This can be a great way to help children learn more about animals and their habitats, while also encouraging them to be brave and try new things.

The plot of the book is centered around the lost kitten Lucy and her struggles to find a home. You can get your children involved with the storytelling by asking them who they think Lucy should live with and why. As the story gets closer to the end, Lucy has to deal with scary parts of the adventure like a rushing river and losing her dry place to sleep. Remind your children to be brave, just like Lucy was in the story!

This is an adorable, sweet little book that children will love. I liked the adventures that Lucy went on, and how it showed she wasn’t afraid to try new things, but was also brave enough to admit when something didn’t work out. My favorite thing about the story, and that I hope to see featured in the rest of the line of books that Lucy will be featured in, is that she never gave up. This is a great thing to see in children’s books, and as a mom personally, I’m always encouraging my kids to stay strong. Having a kitten like Lucy to remind them of when times get tough is a great thing, and I love that it is shown here!

Pages: 28 | ISBN: 0998331805

Buy Now From Amazon.com

As Wild As All the Squirrels

S. Jackson Author Interview

S. Jackson Author Interview

In The Big Cheese Festival, we meet Stubby Mouse who is being bullied by because his tail is short. Why was bullying an issue you wanted to tackle in this kids book?

I see bullying all the time and it just makes no sense to bully another child, or adult for that matter. This is a serious problem that needs to be addressed in childhood. Cyber bullies come into play and one reads about another child taking their own life due to being bullied. If I can help children be a little kinder to one another then this book was worth writing. Kindness breeds kindness. Bullying must stop. Children need to take a stand against bullying and their families must do the same, as do the educators in our system. It is bad when ones parent actually cyber bullies another child and that child ends up taking their own life. Parents need to be held accountable.

Do you think children struggle with confirmation of their self worth? How do you think kids seek that out?

Of course they struggle. Self worth and self esteem are huge issues as a child grows up and I, for one, still have self esteem issues at my age (56). Not all children grown up in a loving or supporting home. As a mother, and as a registered nurse, I have seen the dark side of life and it is ugly. Many things are preventable, and if parents aren’t willing to step in and assist in a positive manner then educators need to step in. Kids seek confirmation in many ways and most are a sacrifice, that is, some seek out sex to feel worthy, or eating disorders to help with body image issues they perceive as having or have at that moment/time span in time. Others over medicate and some over dose, others try their hardest to please their parent/parents/adult care provider, etc. and many don’t measure up or they simply give up. They lose hope, and we all need to have hope. Society in general needs top help foster self worth in troubled kids and teens.

There are lots of wonderful images in this story. What was your favorite image to use and write for?

Stubby Mouse is my favorite. The idea for him came about from one of our backyard squirrels who only has half a tail, and partly crippled due to meeting up with a vehicle and living afterward. We named him Stubby (his tail) and he has a different scamper than the other squirrels but he is determined. Stubby is just as wild as all the squirrels are and he loves to play chase. From one little stubby tailed crippled squirrel a book was born. I purposely presented all of the characters to dress the same, and for the girls to have different hairstyles. Stubby is the only one who is different and I knew that his short tail would be noticed by keeping the other characters similar. This worked quite well. Stubby is favorite for the preschoolers and kindergarten kids as well as first graders. The kids latched onto Stubby and they all defended him. Once the kids settle back down after a reading and discussion, then I will point out various differences in the kids in front of me such as hair color, etc. and I explain our uniqueness to all, and how that makes us special.

What are some themes of future books that you would like to write about?

I have many yet my time is limited due to health. I will say that we put out a book last year that speaks about molestation/sex abuse. It’s titled “Suzy Has A Secret” and it includes an adult/educators part in the back of the story. I used characters that do wear different colored clothes but facial expressions are the same. My mantra here is good touch/bad touch and children are innocent/predators are not.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Big Cheese Festival“In The Big Cheese Festival, we meet Stubby Mouse and his family and friends. We learn that Stubby Mouse has a secret, that he is being bullied by another mouse, simply because his tail is short. Read how Stubby Mouse stood up for himself, and how he ended the bullying, in this delightful story for children. Targeted at ages 4-8, the book is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. Children learn how bad bullying is, and what they can do to help stop bullies! Stubby Mouse encourages children to take a stand against bullies, and always be kind to each other. This story illustrates how everyone is different and unique, and it is a delightful read with cute illustrations for both children and adults. Take a stand against bullying today!”

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Uncle Stubby Gets Married

Uncle Stubby Gets Married4 Stars

You need to be able to tap into a certain flavour of whimsy in order to write a good children’s book. Let’s not forget that the illustrations need to be catchy and colourful to hold the attention of the little ones either reading or being read to. A children’s book is most entertaining when it spins a different point of view on something that children have already been exposed to. Uncle Stubby Gets Married by S. Jackson and A. Raymond takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together. This book is part of a series with other animals and their lives. Perfect for children, this book draws out the marriage between Uncle Stubby and his betrothed Sparkles as their friends and family travel to help them celebrate it. The story is full of kindness, cheer and all the good feelings weddings are supposed to elicit.

The language in this book is very simple. It may be difficult for a child who is learning to read but it is perfect to read to a child. The pictures are bright and interesting, which should help keep the attention of the audience. At the beginning of the book there is a comprehensive breakdown of the entire story so parents or teachers can determine if the book will suit their needs or themes. As it takes place in the Valentine Forest, this is a good book to read around Valentine’s Day, if you are looking for theme-specific books.

The images are, for the most part, real photographs of various animals manipulated to be posed or displayed in a certain way. There are little additions like a crown or the plethora of sparkles and these add to the story. It is interesting for children to see ‘realistic’ pictures of animals they are familiar with engaging in very human activities. It allows them to have a sense of imagination and wonder just what exactly squirrels get up to when humans aren’t looking. The one downside to using manipulated photographs is that when a character appears that is either created by hand or through computer graphics they stand out a fair bit. This occurs with the Mouse Fairies in the Valentine Forest. Their appearance is a stark contrast to the other characters in that they are fully clothed with added hair. They are more anthropomorphic than a photo-enhanced squirrel with a sash around its waist.

Nitpicking aside, Jackson and Raymond know how to craft an interesting children’s tale. The story is cute and even though it is part of a series, it can stand alone quite well. Readers do not need previous knowledge of the characters to understand the story in Uncle Stubby Gets Married. For children, and maybe even adults, who have a fantastical view of the world this is a lovely tale of romance, happiness and friendship.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B01MY5NJF0

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Our Pets Transmogrified

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

Terry Tumbler Author Interview

The Inlooker follows Thomas as his life changes when his daughter’s cat dies and he realizes that the dead cat’s soul inhabits the body of another cat in the house. This is one of the most unique story setups I’ve read in a long time. How did this idea develop into a story for you?

It is an event that actually happened. We had three cats at the time, each of which died in quick succession and had a unique personality, unlike those of the others. It was a wonder to behold, as each of our pets transmogrified into another way of behaving, which only lasted a couple of days before reverting to the original personality. That was over 30 years ago, but it led me to believe that animals possess spirits like we do.

Thomas works to enhance his powers, not just reading souls and manipulating his own, but taking control of other people. What was the biggest challenge you faced in developing the character along with his powers?

Dispassionate research was needed into reincarnation, spiritualism, poltergeist activity and the possibilities of bodily possession by others. I could not even begin to start this monumental task until retirement. The most profound findings were actually in reincarnation, where much evidence exists and has been documented, especially involving children.

I enjoyed the narrators voice, it’s humorous, dark, clear, and ironic. Was this an intentional part of the story or just a facet of your natural writing style?

It was deliberate and based on the style of an old-time English actor called George Saunders. I can’t honestly say if it reflects my style in general. There’s a touch of Terry Pratchett in there too, plus the zaniness of P.G.Wodehouse.

What is the next story you are working on and when will that book be available?

I’ve recently issued The Sightseers Agency and am working on another in the Sci-Fi vein that will be ready by June 2017. All my books are near-future speculative and most of the contents are based on what is possible in key areas of science.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website | GoodReads | Blogspot

The Inlooker: Full LengthThe magical World of Science Fiction is dominated by stories about individuals with outlandish costumes, fantastical skills and superior strength. They compete energetically for attention, and capture our imagination in the most unbelievable of ways.

But what if in real life, there were to exist a force that could take on any of these mythical beings, without needing to possess similar or opposing strengths?

Thomas Beckon wields that force, in much the same way that a contagion can wipe out most of humanity, from within. For Thomas is an Inlooker, perhaps the only one as far as he is aware, and is truly capable of invading any person’s soul that he chooses.

Luckily for those around him, Thomas is a benign individual who chooses a path through life that barely creates a ripple in his wake. At least, what he does is so undetectable that any malevolence in his actions is hardly ever recognized, even superficially.

Pity those who cross swords (or should I say souls?) with the Inlooker, for he can take anyone down, or initiate a chain-reaction of catastrophes, regardless of a person’s super abilities, or position in life.

Then he becomes less benign, and begins to focus on changing the society in which we live. Thereafter, he focuses on the world.

Buy Now From Amazon.com

Oliver and Jumpy

Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 10-125 Stars

Oliver and Jumpy: Stories 10 – 12 is a collection of children’s stories featuring Oliver the cat and Jumpy and Joey, the kangaroos. Written by Werner Stejskal and illustrated by Maycee Ann Reyes and Marvin Alonso, the stories are geared toward young children and early readers. There are three stories in this collection: “Unhappy Dog,” “Kite High,” and “Butterfly Trouble.”

In “Unhappy Dog,” Oliver meets a dog who barks all the time. Instead of being angry, Oliver strikes up a conversation and learns that Barky is lonely and bored, and he can’t get out of his yard to play. Oliver enlists Jumpy and her son Joey to help Barky get over the fence, and they play games to help Barky feel less lonely.

“Kite High” is another adventure where the three friends get swept up into the sky while riding a cart with a parasail attached. They talk to seagulls, and meet some pelicans, too. There’s danger ahead for Joey, but the friendly pelicans help them land their craft.

“Butterfly Trouble” starts when Oliver meets a butterfly named Bluey. Bluey needs Oliver’s help because a boy with a butterfly net is trying to catch him. Jumpy and Oliver stop the butterfly hunt, save the day, and free Bluey’s friends from captivity.

I shared these stories with a three-year-old girl, and she declared that her favorite story was “Butterfly Trouble.” The illustrations are vibrant and full of expression, inspiring her to take the time to point out the little details as we read. The book looked wonderful on the tablet computer – the colors and images were perfect, and it was easy to read.

All the stories emphasize friendship, helping others, and they include a bit of mischief. There is one potentially scary scene in “Kite High” prompting my young friend to exclaim, “Uh oh!” she also pointed at the pelicans helping our heroes. Every story ends happily, and no one is hurt.

One thing I noticed is that the author is clearly aiming for a global audience. Readers in the U.S. may notice a difference in words or usage, but they aren’t incorrect. It’s just the subtle difference between US and European English.

If you’re a parent, you can’t go wrong with this delightful book. It’s perfect for reading aloud to toddlers or a fun addition to your early reader’s digital library. All the Oliver and Jumpy stories are available on Amazon and several are on YouTube, narrated by the author.

Pages: 25 | ISBN: 9781625174079

Buy Now From Amazon.com

%d bloggers like this: