Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview with Author Linda Weaver Clarke About Her New Book, Montezuma Intrigue

It is my pleasure to have as my guest on the blog today, author Linda Weaver Clarke.  Her newest G-rated adult/young adult book, Montezuma Intrigue, has just been released by American Book Publishing.

(NS)  Linda, what led you down the path of writing books?
(LC)  It all started when I began writing my own ancestor’s stories. After I finished, I couldn’t stop writing, so I turned to historical fiction. I write because I love to use my imagination and entertain people. I love to develop my characters and bring them to life and see them interact with one another. It’s fun to describe the scenery and see a new world open up, for everyone to imagine. That’s why I call my website “Make Believe.”

(NS)  Is there a certain way you arrange your day for writing?
(LC)  I write in the mornings and early afternoons. It’s important to write when my mind is fresh. I can’t write when it’s cluttered with worries or thoughts of duties I have to do. So, I try to arrange a schedule for myself. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t.

(NS)  I love the array of topics you use for your books. How did you come to your new book, Montezuma Intrigue, which is the third of your Intrigue books?
(LC)  Well, at the beginning, I got my ideas from a TV show called Hart to Hart, which featured a married couple investigating and solving crimes. It was one of my favorite weekly shows. You laughed at the humor, sat on the edge of your seat with suspense, and sighed at the romance. I wanted to create something similar. In this series, The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, Julia is a reporter for a daily newspaper and John is a professional knife maker. Because of her curiosity, Julia gets herself into a bunch of trouble. There is one more thing I add to my story. This couple has three daughters. I feel this makes the story have more appeal to a larger audience.

Not only that, I have always been interested in artifacts and the ancient American Indians and their way of life. The subject intrigues me. That’s why I call it my “Intrigue” series. We learn about the Anasazi Indians in Anasazi Intrigue and the Mayas in Mayan Intrigue. In Montezuma Intrigue, we learn about the Aztecs and Montezuma’s treasure. This is a mystery/adventure series. So, you’re probably wondering what this book is about.
Montezuma Intrigue is about the search for Montezuma's treasure, family secrets, and a good-looking rogue! Everyone loves s good rogue in a story. Right? While cleaning out the attic, the girls come upon a mysterious old chest. As they search through it, they find a leather parchment of a treasure map, which belonged to their great-grandfather Evans. As you can tell, the girls want to search for the treasure but their father is against it for some mysterious reason. With their mother’s help, the girls convince John to go on a treasure hunt. Now the adventure begins.
I have 2 plots developing in this story…something that makes the readers think. So…in the meantime, April, the oldest daughter, is gradually learning about her grandparents and why they have kept a certain “secret” all these years. As you know, I firmly believe in teaching our children about their heritage. So in this story, April gradually learns something from her grandfather that he had never told a soul. It’s a secret that helps April in her own life. To read sample chapters from each book, you can visit my website at

(NS)  You tour the US giving seminars on the importance of Family Legacy.  Tell us a bit about this aspect of your professional life and how it may dovetail into your writing.
(LC)  I believe it’s very important to teach our children their heritage. We are the people we are because of our ancestors. Our traits, our genes, our beliefs, our courage, our temperaments! Where did we get that red hair? Why am I so tall? Why is music part of my life? Did I inherit these traits from my grandparents? We must learn about their traditions. If they fought for a cause, then what was it about? Each of us has a story from our ancestors or even our own story to tell. It’s up to us to write these experiences down. Our children can learn from their ancestors’ experiences.

In my workshops, I teach people how to write their family history or their own autobiography. Leon Garfield said: “The historian, if honest, gives us a photograph; the storyteller gives us a painting.” What I’m teaching people to do is how to paint their story, to be the storyteller.

(NS)  Please tell us something pivotal about your life that you feel has made you the author you are today.
(LC)  If it weren’t for my husband’s support and love, I wouldn’t be the author I am today. It was his encouragement, his trust in my talents, and his devotion in helping me to get this far. He set up a beautiful website for me. He comes home from work and tells me about something new I can do to promote my books. When I feel discouraged or I’m stumped about something I’m writing, he listens and then helps me figure out what I should do. Yes, I’m the writer I am today because of my husband’s faith in me.

(NS)  What is next for your readers to expect? 
(LC)  I’m hoping to make this series into 4 books, where we can learn about Superstition Mountain and the great Thunder God that makes everyone stand up and notice with every thunderstorm that happens in Phoenix, Arizona. It’s a very intriguing subject. But first, I have to promote my first three books in this series. I need to get people to notice what John and Julia Evans are doing. A reviewer gave the first book in this series, Anasazi Intrigue, the “Socrates Great Book Alert Award.” I was excited about that. Every author know that it’s a slow road to getting people to notice an our books. We just have to work hard.

Thank you so much, Linda, for this interview.  You have a rich bibliography of books, and your new one looks like a winner.  I appreciate your taking the time to be here.
Linda Weaver Clarke

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Farmyard Beat--A Happy Book for the Young Child

Take a look at a lovely picture book for young children, Farmyard Beat,written by Lindsey Craig and illustrated in cut-out collage by Marc Brown.

Farmyard animals are supposed to sleep at night, but no one on this farm wants to go to bed.  They want to catch the beat!  Farmer Sue can't seem to sleep either, so she comes out and joins the dancing.

This is an appealing book, and young children will take to it immediately.  From the “peep-peep” of a yellow chick emerging from its egg on the first page, through the entire cast of  singing farmyard friends, to a heap of animals who finally fell asleep, youngsters will want to sing along!

In fact, everyone will want to sing and dance and sing some more.  A happy book!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kenya's Green Belt Movement

Because I received so many comments and questions about Wangari Maathai and The Green Belt Movement of Kenya, I've decided to expand upon the entry I recently posted. 

 Ecologist Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her years of work with women to reverse African deforestation.  After attending college in the US, she returned home and received a Ph.D. from the University of Nairobi. 

She began the Green Belt Movement by planting nine trees in her backyard.  From that seedling grew the Kenyan and International Green Belt Movements. 

In 2002, Ms. Maathai won a seat in the Kenyan Parliament, and in 2003 she was appointed by President Mwai Kibabi to the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Wildlife.

She is a powerful voice for women in Kenya and was the first African woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.

                    Wangari Maathai - Planting Trees for our Children's Future.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Press Here--A New Children's Book by Herve Tullet

Here is a new book from Chronicle Publishing, aimed at helping kids use their imaginations.  It was written by Herve TulletPress Here has received much attention thus far and is said by some reviewers and bloggers to be the new generation in picture books. 

The book has no characters other than the reader.  It is comprised of dots in primary colors with scant instructions at the bottom of each page. 

“Rub the dot on the left . . . gently”  is on each white page. The tasks then set in motion the “action” on the following pages: A rubbed dot on Page 5 changes color on Page 7; a tapped dot proliferates into multiple polka dots; a shaken book scatters the dots across a two-page spread.  

This is a book that can certainly help a child build cognitive skills and have fun in the doing.  Herve Tullet, who is French and lives in Paris, has written several other children's books and concentrates on the pre-school age child.

Take a look at the trailer Press Here, and make up your own mind!    

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Guardian Angel Publishing Ezine for Kids

Have a look at the June edition of Guardian Angel Kids, the ezine for kids.  So much to see and do.  There are games, activities and all kinds of free stuff--even free books! 

Every month there is more and more to do on this site.  The editor-in-chief is Donna McDine, Guardian Angel author of the noted children's historical fiction book, The Golden Pathway

Please take a look at the Mission Statement of Guardian Angel Publishing.  This is something my publishing house lives by and lives up to as well:

Welcome to Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., a fine children's book publisher, where our publishing goals are to lovingly create fun, affordable and educational print books and ebook computer experiences for your preschoolers and primary age children.

Guardian Angel Publishing believes we can change the world by investing in children one child at a time. Our hope is that the seeds of the influence from our books will live longer than we do. Our goal is to build a harvest of knowledge and vibrant faith in kids to help transform a time in the future that we may never see.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Go the F---K to Sleep: A Bedtime Book for Parents

No matter what side of the discussion you fall on, this children's book for parents is a sensation and has caused a stir!  Unless one is under a literary rock, s/he knows of it by now.

If you are not familiar with Go the F--K to Sleep by Adam Mansbach,  permit me to fill you in a bit on it.  The controversial book will be published in October, 2011 by Akashaic Books. 

The well-know author wrote the book for frustrated parents of young children after a friend suggested he do it.  The rest, of course, is history.

Amazon's teaser says:  "a bedtime book for parents who live in the real world, where a few snoozing kitties and cutesy rhymes don’t always send a toddler sailing off to dreamland. Honest, profane, and affectionate, Adam Mansbach’s verses and Ricardo Cort├ęs’ illustrations perfectly capture the familiar—and unspoken—tribulations of putting your little angel down for the night, and open up a conversation about parenting in the process.”

Here is a sample of one of the stanzas:

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You're cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the f--k to sleep.

Please make up your own mind on this one.  I think Mr. Mansbach has found a one-off niche, and it will be bountiful for him.  And maybe fun and stress-relieving for the rest of us!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Encounter with Crocodiles--and a Great Children's Book on Kenya

Linda Weaver Clarke posted an interview with me on her blog yesterday. In it, she asked the requisite questions about my bestselling children's book, One Pelican at a Time.  Then she asked a thought provoking question:

Lake Turkana, Kenya
"Now it’s time to tell us something about the real you that we’ll never forget."

Something about the real me…hmmm. A tough one, but here goes. When I was in Kenya with my family, we were up in the Rift Valley at Lake Turkana. I try to run several times a week and wanted to run along the sandy shore. I noticed many crocodiles on the shore, sunning themselves.

Our friend, a native Kenyan, had flown us up there in his small plane. I asked him about the crocs, and he assured me they were well fed on Nile Perch in the lake and wouldn’t bother me. So I did it, and he was right. They simply slithered into the water as I ran. Would I do it again today? Probably not. But in the moment, with the sun shining and the birds calling…Well, I was in Africa, after all.

A lovely children's book on Kenya:
Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai by Claire A. Nivola
Wangari Maathai, winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and founder of the Green Belt Movement, grew up in the highlands of Kenya.
When she returned home from college in the US, she found Kenya much changed.  She helped restore it, but how?
The book, by the way, is printed on recycled paper.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

WEDU (PBS) Tampa Bay, One Pelican at a Time and Me

I had quite an interesting day on Friday.  WEDU Tampa the PBS station came to Clearwater Beach to do an interview of me about One Pelican at a Time.  I was questioned about what it's like to write books and, I can still surprisingly say, be a best selling author.

The producer, cameraman, my husband and I walked the few minutes to the beach and began.  We recreated the sand heart containing the single word, Bella, in the center. 

We put it near the surf, as the tide was ready to take it away the day I saw one similar in the sand and was inspired to begin the Bella and Britt Series. 

After the beach filming, I was interviewed at our condo about the life of an author.  What is my work day like?  Do I do much marketing?  How often do I speak with my editor?  How has being an author changed my life?

This feature was provided by a grant administered by Louisiana Public Television.  It will be available to public television stations and will begin to be aired in the Tampa Bay area next week and continuing through the month of June.

Thank you WEDU-Tampa, the Public Broadcasting Stations, Bella, Britt and Mr. Pelican.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Big Cats of...Tampa?

A full moon. A sultry breeze. Rustling in the underbrush.  Dozens of pairs of eyes, glowing in the dark. A night safari in the Masai Mara, Kenya? No. Actually, it's the Wild Eyes at Night Tour at Big Cat Rescue, Tampa.

Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to abused and abandoned big cats. The sanctuary is home to more than 100 exotic big cats including, tigers, lions, leopards, cougars, bobcats, lynx, severals, ocelots, caracals.  Many of these cats have been threatened or endangered in the wild. 

There are several great tours from which to choose, including a trainer's tour, kid's tour and feeding tour, to name a few.  For a bit more money, a private tour can be arranged as well.

This place is as close as one can get to the Mara or Serengeti.  The cats are well cared for and are engaged in their environment.  They have received a new life and are thriving.

Go and see it for yourself.  You'll be wild about it!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

And Speaking of Mermaids..

Isn't she a beauty?  My husband and I came across her on our early morning walk today.  
This mermaid is special.  She was sculpted from the finest white sand Clearwater Beach has to offer. 

Then her beautiful tail was formed by tiny chards of broken shells.  They gleamed in the morning sunlight.  Around her slim waist was a circlet of the finest shells, pink, tan and white. All perfect. 
None broken. 

The mermaid's hair, was made of seaweed, long and thickly applied.  It spilled onto the sugar sand exactly as hair does, still wet from the sea. 

We wondered what artist created her?  Or did a storm deposit a flesh and blood mermaid on the warm sand, and there she turned into sand itself?  Whatever the answer, she is a magical mermaid.  I hope you think so, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Manatee Reprise

We were having dinner on  our balcony this evening when we noticed something large and dark swimming in the bay.  It swam very close to the boat in the picture and then headed to the docks under our balcony. 

It was, of course, a manatee.  A very large manatee.  It grazed all around the docks at its own pace and eventually swam to the center of the bay and disappeared. 

These are the most laid back of creatures.  They remind me of gentle hippos, a contradiction in terms I know, swimming in the Ewaso Ngiro River in the Samburu National Park, Kenya.

These are the creatures called sirenians after the centuries-old belief that sailors mistook them for mermaids.  Singing mermaids, actually, called sirens.

I was reminded of all this as we watched this mammal make its way around the bay.  Slowly, peacefully, quietly.  What a perfect way to spend an evening in Florida.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Manatee Alert!

Manatees are gentle and slow moving mammals.  They are wonderful, caring parents to their young.  And they are in danger.

Twenty five percent of all manatee fatalities are related to boat encounters.  Since manatees stay close to the surface where they must breathe, boat propellers harm them regularly.

Save the Manatee Club does amazing work in aid of these animals. Take a look at their homepage, and support this worthwhile cause.

The closest relatives of the manatee are the elephant and hyrax. Manatees can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas — particularly where sea grass beds or freshwater vegetation flourish.

Manatees are a migratory species. Within the United States, they are concentrated in Florida in the winter.

Many of the Florida manatees make their home in the waters around Homosassa, which is about forty five minutes north of Tampa.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

And What a Book Nook it Was!

Wow.  What a day it was at Book Nook by the Bay.  Lots of kids, lots of music, lots of sunshine! 
Book Nook at The Pier (St. Petersburg, Florida)

I want to thank Emily Stehle of The Pier Aquarium.  It was a marvelous day, a perfect Saturday. Everyone was out enjoying sea and sun. 

Many thanks to those who bought copies of One Pelican at a Time:  A Story of the Gulf Oil Spill.   It is gratifying to see the interest in Pelican, Britt and Bella.  The book, in hard cover and soft cover, may be purchased in the gift shop at the Aquarium.

Emily has agreed to do a guest post on this blog, so watch for it in the next weeks.  She will tell what exciting things are ahead for the aquarium and its new location at John's Pass, Madeira Beach.

Thanks again, St. Petersburg!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

One Pelican at a Time is available on Kindle!

An announcement!  One Pelican at a Time is now available on Kindle!  It is in full color and is gorgeous.  Check it out.

It's great for your children, grandchildren and/or your students.  This is the future of books, whether or not we are ready. 

Whichever form you wish, hard cover, soft cover or eBook from Kindle, I hope you enjoy the book!

If anyone wishes an autographed copy, it can be purchased through my web site:
or this blog site:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Guardian Angel Publishing Family Blog!

I would like to share with you a topic that is close to my heart.  And with good reason.

The Guardian Angel Publishing Family Blog is informational and relevant.  Here one may find an overview of books published by this house.  Authors are spotlighted, nominations and awards are provided and photos of your favorite authors are included as well. 

This publishing house is a powerhouse.  All one has to do is take a look at places such as Amazon, Fictionwise, and Barnes & Noble to name a few.  There one can see the best of children's books--from zany laugh-out-loud fiction to non-fiction that can inspire kids to change the world.

Have a look at this blog maintained by Cheryl Malandrinos.  It just may change your world, too!