Back in March, I posted this blog renaissance mission. I have had a few guests and have plans for more. Would you like to be included? See contact info at the end of the post.
Years ago, I produced week-long, special-event, promotional blog articles in collaboration with others.
Over those years, I featured artists, writers, bloggers, other editors and proofreaders, photographers, sculptors, potters, graphic designers, jewelry makers, furniture makers, chefs, cooks, crafters, and more.
The good feels
I felt good doing that. I am doing that again.
Any time I can lift someone’s spirits – show their art or photos or jewelry or sculptures and share their passion with others – it gives me a warm fuzzy.
It also helped me grow – in my perceptions and with creatives around the country and around the world.
Resurrecting these partnerships
I would like to resurrect those special moments. Not in week-long events (man, that was a lot of work!), but with special events for anyone who has a book, artwork, or food truck launch or for creatives who simply want to share their special talents with my audience.
All these blog features will be shared to my FB, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
If you are interested in a special-event feature on my blog, use the Contact Form or send an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
I write children’s books. Actually, I should correct that. I write books suitable for children. But they are books any age can read and enjoy.
Recently I listened to an interview with Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning novel, TheBook of Negroes.He discussed his latest release, Beatrice and Croc Harry, which he describes as a story for children and adults. He mentioned there should be no separation between children’s and adults’ books. He mentioned that as authors, we should not shy away from including serious and painful issues in children’s stories as they can handle them. He also mentioned, and I agree, many adults enjoy reading from a child’s point of view.
As a young reader, I devoured everything in the children’s section of our small prairie library, so I started reading from the adult section. I read Gone with the Wind in three days when I was twelve years old and loved it. Obviously, some books are not suitable for children. I recall my mother hiding books like Peyton Place and Tropic of Cancer, because she knew I would read anything I could get my hands on.
Recently a neighbour mentioned that he was sad that his daughter was now able to read on her own, as he could no longer read all the wonderful children’s books, including my Amanda Travels series. I replied, “Why not? You can still read them on your own and then discuss them with her.”
There are no reading police that watch out for adults reading children’s books. If there was, I’d be in jail or fined heavily as I read a lot of novels written for children. I just finished reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin. Although it was written over a hundred years ago and the writing might be difficult for modern day readers, it was wonderful to follow the delightful Rebecca as she adapted to her new surroundings. I re-read Anne of Green Gablesevery few years.
Reading is how we learn and grow, at any age. Children’s books often explore themes such as identity, injustice, misunderstanding, family crisis, friendship, disappointment, and death, among other contemporary issues. Things adults confront on a daily basis.
I am always pleased when adults read my books and comment on how much they enjoyed them. One adult reader, planning a trip to New Mexico, got ideas of things to see and do on an upcoming visit by reading Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind. I am delighted to have many wonderful reviews from adults who have read my books.
Once on a crowded ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, I sat with a family of five. Two adults and three elementary-aged boys. Each one of them was reading a different Harry Potter volume. I commented on how nice it was to see a family reading the same series together. The mother explained they purchased one complete set and share the books amongst them. She said they didn’t mind reading the series out of sequence. I can only imagine the lively discussions between the kids and the parents.
Much can be learned by reading children’s and young adult fiction and non-fiction. When adults say they don’t understand young people today, perhaps they should read more from a young person’s point of view. Children’s books written by C.S. Lewis, E.B. White, Enid Blyton, and Kate DiCamillo, to name a few, can be life changing for readers of all ages.
I don’t believe children’s books are just for children. I think I need to change my tag line to—I write books for everyone to enjoy!
Because, let’s face it, we are all children at heart.
“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children
is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”― C.S. Lewis
1. Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask 2. Amanda in Spain: The Girl in the Painting 3. Amanda in England: The Missing Novel 4. Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone 5. Amanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music 6. Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind 7. Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action 8. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady
Darlene Foster grew up on a ranch in Alberta, Canada, where her love of reading inspired her to see the world and write stories. She is the author of the exciting Amanda Travels series featuring spunky Amanda Ross, a twelve-year-old Canadian girl who loves to travel. All ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in unique destinations. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, Darlene enjoys spending time at her house in Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia.
Dragons, definitely. When I was barely knee-high to a Vilnius Windwalker, I fell in love with Dragons. I mean, what kid wouldn’t? I read about them and wrote about them; I wandered with them through the wilds of Dragon Country. (On a particularly stormy day I even met Tennessee Williams there.) I’ve even collected a few, though it is not always easy to find a good Dragon these days.
Working with the Tarot came later. I didn’t get my first deck until just after college—a classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck given to me for my 23rd birthday. That was forty-plus years ago, so you could say I’ve been living with both Dragons and the Tarot for a long time. With Tarot of DragonsI had the pleasure—and challenge—of being able to combine my knowledge and passion for both in one place.
How did the idea for a Dragon Tarot come about?
Tarot of Dragons was a gift from my publisher, Llewellyn Worldwide. Three years ago, almost to the day, my third book for them, Llewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons,was being presented at a sales conference. Barbara Moore, Tarot editor supreme, was there and liked what she saw. And she just happened to be looking for someone to do a Dragon deck; so, she asked my editor to reach out to me, see if I was interested.
Now, over the years, I’d often looked for a Dragon Tarot that spoke to me, only to be disappointed. The decks out there were, to my mind, pale or too human, with the Dragons often little more than props or decorative arm-candy. I never thought—nor had the resources—to create my own deck. To have the chance to fill the Dragon void. To create a full-fledged, intensely Dragon-centric Tarot. A deck that would merge the power and wisdom of Dragons with the mystical energy of the Tarot. On a note closer to home, Spring of 2019 was a particularly dark time for me and I desperately needed a new project. So, for reasons both personal and creative, Tarot of Dragons was an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse.
The joy of collaboration.
The one thing that gave me pause moving forward was the artwork. I could design the deck, conceptualize the cards, and write a book about them, but the actual art was lightyears beyond my capabilities. Seventy-eight cards in two-year’s time, not an easy ask. Fortunately, finding an artist was in Barbara’s hands (subject to the approval of myself and our art director), and she found the perfect person: Firat Solhan. Firat is a freelance artist from Turkey (bless the Internet!) who specializes in fantasy and sci-fi art.
For this solo Dragon Country traveler, it was both a little daunting and very exciting to be collaborating with someone. That Firat, for whom English isn’t his first language, was able to take my (very) rough sketches and often intricate descriptions and bring them to life–what a pleasure! He would send me sketches, then I would send back comments, adjustments, notes. He would then do the final card.
While Firat worked on the cards, I wrote the companion book, Wisdom from the Dragon Realms. A brief history of Tarot, interpretations for all the cards, some basics of Tarot reading, and Dragon-related layouts. Words—my comfort zone.
When all was done, one final check to be sure the cards synched with my text. Since Firat was working digitally, if there were any corrections to be made even at this point, they could be done without too much trouble. A far cry from the days of hand-painting. In the end, we had 78 exquisite cards. Just as I imagined them.
Not to mention a beautiful full-color book to go with them.
So, here we are, three years later with a launch just around the corner.
The Tarot of Dragons will hit bookstores in June and is currently available to preorder from Llewellyn, Amazon,Barnes & Noble, and bookstores and occult stores, large and small, everywhere.
Shawn MacKENZIE (Southern Vermont) is a life-long student of the strange and mysterious—myths, arts, religions, sciences, the occult—as well as all creatures, seen and unseen, real, cryptic, great, and small. In addition to Tarot of Dragons, she’s the author of TheDragon Keeper’s Handbook (OP), Dragons for Beginners, Llewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons, as well as numerous essays and fictions. Minnesotan by birth, she now lives in the shadow of the Green Mountains with nine cats, two rats, and an Amazon parrot. They are a constant inspiration. Working with the Tarot has been an integral part of her life for more than forty years.
I started my writing career with children’s literature, writing for kids as Chris Eboch and MM Eboch. My first published book is The Well of Sacrifice – historical drama set in ninth-century Mayan Guatemala. It’s been in print for over twenty years and is used in schools when they teach the Maya. I’ve written over 100 educational work for hire books, and I’ve been a ghostwriter for some popular children’s mystery series starring your favorite young detectives.
I write for adults under the name Kris Bock. I’ve written romantic suspense and a sweet romance series based around a cat café. I have a humorous mystery series coming out this year, with four books scheduled. The first is:
Something Shady at Sunshine Haven: The Accidental Detective Book 1
War correspondent Kate Tessler has followed the most dangerous news stories around the world. But can she survive going home?
Injured in a bombing, Kate returns to her hometown in Arizona to recover. For the first time in her life, she’s starting to feel her age (49), even though she’s living like a teenager again: staying with her father, trying to understand why her sister resents her so much, and running into people who still think of her as Kitty.
Seeing her mother in an Alzheimer’s unit is the hardest part – until an old friend asks her to investigate suspicious deaths at that nursing home. Is a self-appointed “Angel of Mercy” killing patients to end their suffering? Are family members hastening their inheritance? Is an employee extorting money and removing the witnesses? Kate uses her journalism skills to track clues, but the puzzle pieces simply won’t fit.
If Kate can’t uncover the truth, her mother could be next on the killer’s list.
What inspired this mystery series?
Kate spent thirty years traveling the world as a war correspondent. Now back in Arizona, she finds turning fifty as difficult than the mysteries she solves. This character was inspired by my own experiences. Okay, the part about turning fifty, not traveling the world as a war correspondent. I traveled a lot when younger, but not to war zones. But as I faced fifty, I wanted to create a mystery lead dealing with some of the same issues: aging parents, concerns about financing retirement someday, and a body that doesn’t recover like it once did. I also wanted to give Kate a reason to be adventurous and fearless, thus the background as a war correspondent.
I didn’t necessarily intend to write humor, but both my agent and my editor said they laughed a lot. That comes from how Kate sees the world, which is how I see the world. Laughter helps with the pain.
Why did you set the series in the Southwest?
I’ve lived in New Mexico for over twenty years, three times longer than I’ve lived anywhere else, so this is home. We live in a small town, but I wanted to set the mystery series in a big city. In Arizona, I could create a fictional city within the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. That allows me to use this fictional city government for political issues, and make the mayor an old friend of Kate’s, without stepping on any real toes.
Arizona also provides tons of mystery opportunities. The large senior population attracts scams and abuse. You have the potential for arguments over inheritance (or even murders to get that inheritance sooner). The border with Mexico creates anxiety over immigration and various kinds of trafficking. Plus you have all the usual potential crimes in any large population. I’ll be able to keep Kate busy for years.
Where can people learn more about the series?
Book 1, Something Shady at Sunshine Haven, released April 7.
You can get a free short story and bonus material when you sign up for my newsletter. This collection starts with a humorous ten-page mystery short story set in the world of “The Accidental Detective” series. It includes information about the books in the series, with the first chapter of book 1. After that are three fun, short stories originally written for children. Newsletter subscribers will also get a 35-page novella set in the world of my cat café sweet romance series, and “22 Recipes from the Cat Café,” if they choose.
Why did you write the cat café sweet romance series?
I’ve noticed lots of sweet, small-town romance series involving dogs, but few with cats. I think it’s because dogs clearly bring people together – think dog parks, walking your dog, obedience training – while cats don’t.
Until you consider cat cafés. These are a relatively recent trend, but you can now find a few hundred cat cafés all around the world. Typically they partner with a shelter, so all the cats you can visit are available for adoption. This gives visitors a chance to spend more quality time with the cats before they choose one. Those of us who can’t keep a cat in the home for whatever reason can at least visit some.
I’m writing a series with my brother, scriptwriter Douglas J. Eboch, who wrote the original screenplay for the movie Sweet Home Alabama. These are prequel novels set when the movie characters are teenagers. Follow the crazy antics of Melanie, Jake, and their friends a decade before the events of the movie.
Sign up for our romantic comedy newsletter and get Felony Melanie Destroys the Moonshiner’s Cabin. These first two chapters from the novel Felony Melanie in Pageant Pandemonium stand alone as a short story. In the future, you’ll get fun content about upcoming Felony Melanie novels and other romantic comedy news and links. Or find book 1 at Amazon US or All E-book retailers.
Kris Bock writes novels of mystery, suspense, and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. She has lived in ten states and one foreign country but is now firmly planted in the Southwest, where many of her books are set. Kris writes for children under the names Chris Eboch and M. M. Eboch. She has published over 100 books for young people, including ghostwriting for two children’s mystery series.