Monday 29 December 2014

Ring in the New Year with this Devilishly Chocolate Mousse Cake...

In my recent time travel yarn, Legend of the Timekeepers, the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, I give you an up-close-and-personal look at Belial, the nasty antagonist of the entire series. Love him or hate him, Belial is the foundation that cements this middle grade/young adult time travel series together. Face it, without a villain to fight, a hero has no purpose, no goal. And the Timekeepers need a quest in Earth’s past to stop Belial from changing history, or all hell will break loose. Which, by the way, is exactly what Belial wants to happen. Bahahaha!

The following recipe will make you look like a hero in the eyes of your family and friends. It takes about 25 minutes prep time, and a total of 5 hours (including refrigerating) to create. And it's a perfect choice to serve on New Year's Day! Can you say chocolate?

One Devilishly Charming Chocolate Mousse Cake

½ cup chocolate syrup
1 package (2-layer size) chocolate cake mix (we use Betty Crocker® Double Fudge)
1 cup water
⅓ cup oil
7 eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 package (250 g/ approx ½ lb) cream cheese brick, softened 1 cup sugar
1 can (370 mL/12 oz) evaporated milk
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted (we use Baker’s®)
1 cup thawed whipped topping (we use Cool Whip®)

PREHEAT oven to 375°.

SPRAY 3-L (12 cup) fluted tube pan (Bundt) with cooking spray. Pour in chocolate syrup; tilt pan to evenly cover bottom with syrup.

BEAT cake mix, water, oil and 3 eggs with mixer for 2 minutes or until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Pour over syrup in pan.

BEAT cream cheese and sugar with mixer until blended. Add remaining eggs; mix well. Blend in evaporated milk and melted chocolate; gently spoon over cake batter. Cover with foil sprayed with cooking spray, sprayed-side down.

PLACE Bundt pan in large pan (like a lasagna pan). Add enough water to larger pan to come at least 2 inches up side of Bundt pan. Bake 1 hour 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool completely in Bundt pan on wire rack. Refrigerate 2 hours. Invert cake onto plate; remove pan.

SERVE with whipped topping. Makes 24 servings.

NOTE: To unmold cooled cake, use a long thin spatula to loosen the cake from the sides of Bundt pan. Place plate over pan; invert cake onto plate. Spoon any chocolate syrup remaining in pan over cake.

Now while you’re waiting for this devilishly good chocolate mousse cake to cool, how about making a date with Belial and the Timekeepers? After all, better the devil you know, than the one you don’t!

Happy New Years to all my readers! May 2015 bring you much love, happiness, blessings, and contentment! Cheers!

Monday 22 December 2014

Candy Cane Cookies compliments of Romance Author Sara Daniel...

My favorite holiday recipe is for Candy Cane Cookies. I love these festive cookies for their hint of almond flavor and the crushed candy canes on the top. I only make them once a year, and I double the recipe below.

 I will warn you to make sure that you only use peppermint candy canes (or peppermint candies). A couple years ago, I went around our family Christmas tree, plucking off all the red and white candy canes. I crushed them into the topping, which I then sprinkled onto the cookies. Well, you can imagine my dismay when I took a bite and discovered mixed in with the refreshing mint flavor was also the not-so-refreshing taste of watermelon candy. Yes, unbeknownst to me, one (or more) of the candy canes I crushed was watermelon flavored, not mint, and I can NOT in good conscience recommend it to anyone! This year I used round peppermint candies to ensure there was no mix-up!

Candy Cane Cookies

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1½ tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cups flour
1 tsp. salt ½ - 1 tsp. red food coloring
1 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candy

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Combine butter, shortening, and powdered sugar. Mix in egg, almond extract, and vanilla. Continue mixing as you add in flour and salt.

Divide dough in half. Place in separate bowls. Blend food coloring into one bowl of dough.

Shape one tablespoon of dough from each color into a rope. Place ropes side by side on a cookie sheet. Press together lightly and twist. Curve down the top third to form a candy cane.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle cookies with crushed peppermint candy.

Wait until cookies are cool to prevent breakage when removing them from the pan.

Enjoy the tastes and smells of the season. Happy holidays! ~Sara

Learn more about Sara Daniel on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Be sure to subscribe to Sara’s newsletter for updates on her latest books and contests.

Friday 19 December 2014

YA Book Blast: Disenchanted by Leigh Goff

Welcome to the Release Day Blast for Disenchanted,
a new YA Fantasy novel by 
Leigh Goff

About Disenchanted:

A dark curse, a forbidden love.

Orphaned sixteen-year-old Sophie Goodchild is an outcast among the ordinaries and her coven, but not because she’s untalented. Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, her spellcasting gift is awkwardly emerging, but that’s the least of her worries. The boy she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang, carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. 

Suspenseful, dark, romantic, and brimming with old magic, Disenchanted captures the intrigue of New England’s witchlore.

Book Details:

Title: Disenchanted

Author Name: Leigh Goff

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Musa Publishing, LLC

ISBN: 978-1-68009-045-1

Release Date: 12/19/2014

Read an Excerpt:

I sat, soaking wet, shaking from the adrenaline. Whoever he was, he rescued me from the would-be thief who bore the symbol of the Leos, a breath-saving nickname I gave Judge Mather’s Law Enforcement Organization. I strained to see, but the rain drops clinging to my long eyelashes blurred my vision. I wiped them away as my heart settled to an even pace.

With his back to me, he watched the thief disappear into the stormy night. He ran his hands through his thick, wavy, wet hair. His broad shoulders relaxed before he turned to offer me assistance. He extended his long arm to help me to my feet. I hesitated for a second, unsure of him, but as he reached for me, our fingers brushed together. A shock of electricity bolted through my hand. I froze as I caught the surprised reaction on his face, telling me he felt it, too. His fingers clasped firmly around mine and, with no effort, he pulled me to my feet. Unsteady, I pressed my hands against his firm muscled chest that showed through the drenched white shirt. A dizzy, swirly sensation swept through my head as if I were on a merry-go-round spinning around at one hundred miles per hour.

He had to be six feet tall.

“Are you okay?” he asked in a smooth British accent. His deep voice vibrated with tension, sending warm chills inside me.

I balanced myself and brushed my wet hair behind my ears, swallowing hard. A British accent that could make a girl melt if the girl didn’t have alarm bells going off in her head. There were no Brits currently living in our small part of Wethersfield, which meant he had to be one of them. My wide eyes flitted around, looking for a clue to make sense of why the statuesque Mather boy with his soaking wet shirt and black tailored pants left the comfort of his father’s manor house to brave the storm.

He stepped closer, breaching the already slim gap between us and forcing my eyes up. The streetlight illuminated his handsome features. His ivory complexion, dappled with raindrops and a shadow of thick stubble, revealed a hint of blush as if it were wintertime and the cold air had plucked at his cheeks.

I followed the perfect straight line of his nose to his brooding, dark eyes full of mystery. His eyes wandered over the details of my face and settled on my own, waiting for me to reply. A warm, wet breeze swirled up from behind him and wrapped his alluring scent around me; clean, floral and woodsy and thoroughly masculine. I inhaled again and again, unable to exhale. With all the plants and flowers I had smelled in my lifetime, he smelled better than any, alone or in combination. I wavered slightly, side to side, feeling dazed. I gulped a mouthful of air, trying not to breathe him in. What was wrong with me? I shook myself out of the stupor.

“Did you know that man?” he asked.

“Did you?” I said in an accusatory tone, but at that moment, I didn’t care about the attacker.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He drew back like I was crazy for suggesting anything.

He was the enemy. Say something, I thought. “What…what are you doing out here anyway?”

He furrowed his eyebrows inward. “Saving you, obviously.”

I threw my hands on my hips, shocked by the irony. A Mather helping a Greensmith? Hell was freezing over somewhere beneath our feet and every kind of farm animal was sprouting wings to fly. “That’s impossible.”

“And why is that?”

“Because…because you’re a Mather,” I said, not meaning to sound disgusted, but I struggled to contain my feelings. Fact was, the Mathers had Greensmith blood on their hands, as well as my coven’s blood. Through Wethersfield’s history, they were known as witch-hunters and with each generation, they changed only to appear more politically correct, but their intentions remained unchanged.

Add Disenchanted to your GoodreadsShelf:

Purchase Your Copy at Musa Publishing:

About the Author:

I love writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what I like to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, I now live in Maryland, where I enjoy the area's great history and culture.

I am a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. I am also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. My debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and will be released by Musa Publishing in December 2014.

For review copies or to arrange an interview, blog visit, or event with the author please click the Sapphyria's Book Promotions banner or you may contact her at

Monday 15 December 2014

In the Limelight with MG Author: Derek Thompson…

I want to thank magnificent middle grade author, Derek Thompson for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Derek’s book Superhero Club can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: For a chance to win an ecopy of Superhero Club please check out the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

Welcome, Derek! How long have you been writing?

I loved writing stories as a young child, and the way you could start to create a world or a situation that then, somehow, pulled you into it. My interest in novel writing really took hold in my teens. Writing became a way of exploring ideas, making sense of the world around me, and finding out who I was.

Very inspiring for younger writers! Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Superhero Club?

Generally, I start with the central character and what I learn about them takes the story forward. In the case of Jo, once I understood her that gave me the main challenges and relationships.

I was an exam invigilator at a local school, which also included one-to-one support for children with additional educational needs (reading, handwriting or explaining some key words and terms). Being back in a school environment allowed me to see how real children behave with one another, and it also made me think about my own schooldays.

Putting all that together, I wanted to create fully realised, living, breathing characters that readers would care about enough to share their journey.

Sounds like you’ve done a top-notch job! What sets Superhero Club apart from other books/series in the same genre?

That's a good question! Superhero Club is set in the present day and touches upon some of the issues that young people face: self-image, bullying, fitting in at school, food issues and modern families. All that said, the book also deals with the importance of friendship, creativity, transformation and self-acceptance. It's written with humour and, first and foremost, is an entertaining read that will have you rooting for Jo, the main character. My hope is that it will also stimulate discussion about the issues raised and encourage anyone who is having any of Jo's challenges to talk to someone about it.

Hmm…I bet a readers’ guide for this book would be a great investment! As a middle grade author, what is your writing process?

The character came first and once I 'heard' her voice clearly it as a case of allowing her to tell her own story. I didn't have a fixed idea about where the story was heading until about halfway through the writing.
How long did it take for you to start and finish Superhero Club?

Once I understood Jo and her situations it was a fairly smooth process - I'd say around a month to put it together and then refine it. There were some ideas I had originally that, on further reflection, were too ambitious for this book. However, they may reach the page in some other form in the future.
A month? Wish I had your typing fingers! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Derek?

The most important thing is to understand the lives of young people, as well as what they are reading. Stories need to be relevant to your readers, and emotions need to be authentic. One aspect of fiction that's largely overlooked, I think, is its capacity for enabling and encouraging us to feel. Emotional literacy is as important as literacy itself.

Above all, write! Worry about all the other stuff later - the editing and pacing can all be worked on, but only if you have a completed story to work with. I'd also say that it's important to have fun with it. Make your readers laugh, cry, think differently and even gasp with surprise.

Get feedback from young people and school staff if you can - it will give you valuable insight into how your ideas and your writing are received.

Truly, it’s all about how you make readers feel. Wonderful advice! So, what’s next for Derek Thompson the author?

I've written two contemporary adult British thrillers (I'm a Brit) that are under review by a UK publisher - best described as an updated British noir. I've also written a standalone transatlantic comedy drama, loosely based on a year I spent living the American Dream in New York and California.

As regards writing for children, I have some early draft books that need dusting off, and I'm now thinking about another adventure for Jo and the Superhero Club.

All things considered, 2015 is going to be an exciting writing year!

Wishing you all the best in 2015, Derek! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

Well, having grown up with Dr Who, time travel has always held a bit of a fascination for me. I'm going to be greedy and choose three journeys through time:

I'd like to go back into my own timeline (always tricky!), to see myself as a child and to see my family again at that time. Part curiosity and part therapy!

Next, it would have to be Ancient Egypt. I've been on two trips to Egypt and felt a real sense of connection with the Egyptian history and culture. In particular, Karnak temple at Luxor at the height of its influence and the wondrous Nile would be an amazing sight.

Lastly, I'd love to see a glimpse of Victorian London, when the railways were the lifeblood of the nation and the London Underground was developing. I would walk along cobbled streets and read about the adventures of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
Mini synopsis for Superhero Club:

You only find out you're a butterfly if you spread your wings.

Twelve year-old Jo has never fit in at school, what with being overweight and over-sensitive. Since Dad moved out, Mom forgets who's who in the whole mother-daughter relationship. Jo has one ambition in life: to be normal. Not gifted, or gorgeous, or even particularly popular. Just normal.

When Jo's counselor offers her a lifeline, there's a bunch of other misfits sharing the rope. Group sessions could help them to help each other, but Chris doesn't like speaking and Alistair's a self-confessed geek. Like Stevie, the joker, says, “Oh yeah, right bunch of bloody superheroes we are!”

Sometimes the most heroic thing is to trust a group of strangers, who also have a lot at stake. Jo may find the unlikeliest of friends, and a way to transform her life from the inside. The Superhero Club could give her all that in the blink of an eye. Well, maybe a double-blink!

Sales links:

Connect with Derek:

Pinterest link showing covers and sales link for my books, ors book that contains some of my writing:

Twitter: @DerekWriteLines

Author Bio:

Derek is an adventurer with words, creating fiction, non-fiction and comedy material. He believes in the power of the imagination and the magic of 'what if' to open our eyes to possibility. He is also a magazine columnist and freelancer - see his blog for details.

Added Bonus: Comments made after the Rafflecopter draw will be considered up until December 21st, 2014. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday 13 December 2014

Holiday Buffet of Free Ebooks compliments of Musa Publishing…

Holiday season is upon us, and with it comes some wicked-awesome deals! Anyone who has an ereader or tablet will benefit from this wonderful opportunity to score 40 fabulous reads for the holidays. Musa Publishing is offering 13 Days of Free Ebooks starting December 13th—whoa that’s TODAY folks! Below is a list of ebooks and authors on board with this promotion, but you better act fast, as their ebooks are available for free download for only ONE day. BTW—I’m on the list too, and anyone who gets an ereader or tablet for Christmas will benefit from my free download day! Ho Ho Ho…

December 13th, 2014:
The Rhesus Factor by Sonny Whitelaw
Return by Lynn Rae
Struck by Clarissa Johal

December 14th, 2014:
Tournament of Chance by S.G. Rogers
Obsession by JoAnne Keltner

December 15th, 2014:
Bridge to Desire by Alice Cross
Saving Hope by Liese Sherwood-Fabre
The Grimm Legacy by Addie King

December 16th, 2014:
Spire City: Contagion by Daniel Ausema
Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick
Time Will Tell by Mary Palmer

December 17th, 2014:
Guarding His Heart by Carolyn Spear
An Unstill Life by Kate Larkindale

December 18th, 2014:
Hunter’s Find by June Kramin
Five Golden Suitors by Jen Coffeen
First Frost by Liz DeJesus

December 19th, 2014:
The Reluctant Bridegroom by Arabella Sheraton
Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis
The Glass Sealing by Andrew Leon Hudson

December 20th, 2014:
The Exile of Elindel by Carol Browne
Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore
Pantheon by Josh Strnad

December 21st, 2014:
Only a Hero Will Do by Susan Lodge
Prentice and Desiree by Brita Adams
The 13th Guest by Rebecca Royce

December 22nd, 2014:
Silhouette of Darkness by George Wilhite
Long Haul by Tom Olbert

December 23rd, 2014:
DEAD series by Lizzie T. Leaf
Looney Dunes by Anne Skalitza
Her Name by Alicia Joseph

December 24th, 2014:
Regarding Eliza by Viki Lyn
The Sun God’s Heir by Elliott Baker
Hard Pressed by Sharon Maria Bidwell

December 25th, 2014:
To Catch A Fish by Mary S. Palmer & David Wilton
She Dreamed of Dragons by Elizabeth Walker
Identity Crisis by Elizabeth Ashtree

I hope you take advantage of this wonderful offer from Musa Publishing. There’s a book for every taste on the list from romance, science fiction, horror, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, speculative fiction, and young adult, so please help yourself to this buffet of ebooks! Wishing you, and your family, a safe and happy holiday season! Cheers and happy reading!

Friday 12 December 2014

In The Limelight with MG/YA Author Cheryl Carpinello…

I want to thank magnificent middle grade/young adult author, Cheryl Carpinello for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Cheryl’s book Sons of the Sphinx can be purchased from Amazon, and other major on-line bookstores. Welcome, Cheryl! So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Cheryl?

Probably around 20 years, but I started writing for MG/YA readers about 10 years ago. Nothing I wrote in those first 10 years will ever be published.

Never say never, Cheryl! Wink. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Sons of the Sphinx?

We had visited Egypt in 2008 and that started me thinking. However, it wasn’t until 2010 when the Tutankhamen exhibit was in the US that I thought seriously about writing a book set back in ancient Egypt.

Egypt is definitely on my bucket list. What sets Sons of the Sphinx apart from other books/series in the same genre?

I believe it is the fact that this isn’t just an historical adventure story full of action and danger. It is also a story of a young teenager trying to come to grips with who she is and how she fits in the world around her. Ages 14-18 are stressful years for kids, more than most people would think. Any trait that sets a teen outside of the norm can be devastating, and Rosa, the main character, has just such a distinction. She can hear dead people, and her classmates know this. This makes for some tough times for Rosa.

Hear dead people? Now you’ve got me hooked! As a middle grade/young adult author, what is your writing process?

I do a lot of brain work before I start a story. Once I have a basic idea and outline in my head, then I write that out—when I say write, I mean in long hand. Then it’s back to mulling the idea over in my head for a while longer until I can sit down and write out a chapter by chapter outline. Once the outline is finished, I start writing the story. My goal is always to write the first draft without worrying about changes or omissions. Each day before writing I do type the previous writing on the computer without making any edits. If I find that something is not working, then I change from that point on. I don’t go back over previous entered material. Once the first draft is done, I start rewrites and do any additional research. From that point on, it’s a breeze! Just read, rewrite, edit, rewrite, and so on. My story always goes through my personal editor at least three times. Then a professional editor goes through another three or four rounds with me.

Wow, I don’t think readers realize the leg-work authors must do to write a book! Thanks for sharing your process, Cheryl. How long did it take for you to start and finish Sons of the Sphinx?

I started working on the idea in May 2010. Sons of the Sphinx was released in October 2014.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Cheryl?

Do your homework: research the time period you are writing in. While I saw Egypt firsthand, I did a ton of book research, and I went to the Tutankhamen exhibit three times. Even if you are creating your own story’s history/background, you need to know everything about it.

Good advice! What’s next for Cheryl Carpinello the author?

Right now I’m working on sequel to my first Arthurian tale Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend. I’ve also got the first book in my new trilogy series Feathers of the Phoenix over half finished.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I don’t even need to think about this—the Ancient World 1000BC to 400BC. I love the Greeks, Romans, even Egyptians of that time period. I’m also keen to see Atlantis! Those eras gave modern man and society so much in the way of philosophy, government, art, science, that it had to be fascinating to be a part of those worlds.

Blurb for Sons of the Sphinx:

Armed with what she considers her grandmothers curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Though Hesenas ba inhabits part of Rosa, finding the whole spirit of Hesena so that she and Tut can be together for the first time in over 3300 years proves to be a harder task than Rosa first thinks. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemhebwho crosses mortal boundaries using Seths evil magicif she is to stay alive to make it back home.

Buy Links for Sons of the Sphinx:

Cheryl Carpinello’s Author Sites:

Author Bio

I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more through my Quest Books. Please follow me on this adventure. Hook up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google.

Also please visit my other sites: Carpinello's Writing Pages where I interview childrens/MG/Tween/YA authors; my home website Beyond Today Educator, and The Quest Books where I've teamed up with Fiona Ingram from South Africa and Wendy Leighton-Porter of England/France/Abu Dhabi to enable readers to find all of our Ancient and Medieval quest books in one place.

Monday 8 December 2014

Book Blog Tour: Endless by Jaclyn Weist...

Thanks for letting me take part in your blog!

Recently I had the opportunity to teach a class on coming up with story ideas. I had a great time sharing all the different options that I’d asked for from fellow authors. The class interacted well and I even got a few of the people to read their prompts out loud.

Ideas come from all over and I’ve learned that if I come up with a story plot, I need to write it down immediately or the idea will be forgotten. I’ve lost a couple when I thought I could remember later, so now I write it down on my phone as soon as I get it.

The concept of this story came from a few places. I’d had dreams of stairs that I couldn’t get out several times over my life. I would just sigh and start trying to find a way out, even though I knew there was no way out of there.

The second part of the story came while I was waiting in the temple and I was thinking over a few things about the plot. Suddenly the idea came that I should add Cinderella into the story. She ran the stairs to get away from the ball and I could see her fitting so perfectly into the story.

Never give up on your story ideas. They may not work right that second, but they can fall into place with other stories as you go along.

Thanks again for letting me take over. Happy reading and writing!

Endless Blurb:
Sydney lives her nightmares every night. While other teenagers are dreaming of boys or traveling to exotic places, she must run a staircase with no beginning or no end, or a terrible debt will never be paid. 
Just before her seventeenth birthday, the dreams change. She is no longer alone.
But her nightmares don’t end when she wakes up. Her stepmother and stepsisters threaten to ruin everything she holds dear. She must protect the secret that both she and her father have magic or they will use it to their advantage. 
As Sydney learns to control her magic, what seemed impossible before—escaping her stepmother and those ever-present stairs—is now at her fingertips. When she learns the ultimate plan of her evil captor, Sydney must stop her at all costs, or she will forever be trapped inside her nightmares.

Buy Link:

Author Bio:
Jaclyn is an Idaho farm girl who grew up loving to read. She developed a love for writing as a senior in high school, when her dad jokingly said she was the next Dr. Seuss (not even close, but very sweet). She met her husband, Steve, at BYU, and they have six happy, crazy children who encourage her to keep writing. After owning a bookstore and running away to have adventures in Australia, they settled back down in their home in Utah.

Jaclyn now spends her days herding her kids to various activities and trying to remember what she was supposed to do next. She has published six books in a year, and her mind is still reeling from the awesomeness. Her books include The Princess and the Prom Queen; Magicians of the Deep; the Luck series--Stolen Luck, Twist of Luck, Best of Luck, and Just My Luck, a novella; and the upcoming YA fantasy, Endless.

Follow Jaclyn . . .

Monday 1 December 2014

In the Limelight with MG Author: S. J. Henderson...

I want to thank and welcome magnificent middle grade author, S.J. Henderson for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. S.J.’s book DANIEL THE DRAW-ER can be purchased from Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: Stay tuned for a chance to win an ecopy or audiobook of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Jen?

I think I learned to write just about when everyone else did… kindergarten. Which is funny, because I remember sitting down at my desk the first day and being told to do something—I didn’t hear the teacher because I was probably talking. So I peeked over at my neighbor and copied his work (I know, I know!).When I was done, I looked down and discovered I’d written “Nathan” on top of my paper. We were practicing writing our names! I still struggle with putting the proper name on my papers. Just kidding.

But, seriously, I’ve been writing stories since elementary school. I used to fill hundreds of wide-ruled notebook pages with my nonsense, then the nonsense would make its rounds in my classroom when all of us were supposed to be listening to lectures. I let writing go for a while in favor of family obligations, but one day the absence of words really got to me. That was about 3-1/2 years ago, to make a short answer very long…

I see. So, Nathan, er S.J., where did you get your idea and inspiration to write DANIEL THE DRAW-ER?

I got the idea for DANIEL from my kids. Last fall I participated in an online writing course called The Story Cartel Course (, and one of our assignments was to write something for our audience. At the time, I didn’t really have an audience besides myself, so I decided to write a story for my three youngest boys. In fact, my seven-year-old son sat next to me while I wrote the very first draft of what would eventually become chapter one of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER. He picked out the name “Daniel” and laughed at all of the funny parts. He was the best beta-reader. Haha.

Kids are the best critics! What sets DANIEL THE DRAW-ER apart from other books in the same genre?

Wow, tough question, Sharon! There are so many fantastic books in my genre. But, if I had to try to pinpoint it, I think my book is unique because it awakens the imagination of the reader. I’ve had so many people tell me their child picked up a pencil after reading my book just to see if their drawings would come to life. Another person sent me a photo of two pages of ideas her son had written down for my next book. That’s not exclusive to my book, but, as someone who reads a lot with my own kids, it’s few and far between.

It would be awesome if you helped shaped the minds of a few future artists, S.J.! As a children’s author, what is your writing process?

Writing process? What writing process?

Basically, I just sit down and write. Some people know how to outline and take neat and orderly notes, but not me! I write down messy notes including any ideas I might have before I start writing, but my creative process doesn’t work quite as well when I plan each step of the story out in advance. It’s hard to outline allllll this weirdness, ya know?

Once I have a good first draft I like to have a couple of friends read it and offer suggestions, which I may or may not follow depending on how much coffee I’ve had that day. I repeat the revision/critique process about a gajillion times until someone begs for mercy (and it’s usually me).Then I release the monstrosity to the world, ready or not.

If, by “process”, you really mean what gets me into the writing mood… then the simple answer for that is coffee and super mellow music. And being by myself. Do you know how hard that is to achieve with four kids and a husband? Ugh.

Four kids and a hubby? Kudos for getting the book written! How long did it take for you to start and finish DANIEL THE DRAW-ER?

The original concept for DANIEL (what is now the first chapter) took shape within a couple of weeks last October, but I didn’t really add to it until March of this year. I spent two weeks eating, sleeping, and breathing this book until it was ready for publication. Just so you know, I wouldn’t recommend that particular strategy to most people.

Amen. Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, S.J.?

Kids are the ultimate litmus test for authors. They won’t beat around the bush or lie to save your feelings because they’re still developing those filters. So have fun with your story. If you don’t enjoy it, it’ll show, and your young readers will call you out faster than Gordon Ramsay in a McDonald’s drive-through. (Gosh, I hope everyone gets that joke!)

LOL! Got it! What’s next for S. J. Henderson the author?

I hope to have the sequel to DANIEL THE DRAW-ER published by the end of the year. Then I’ll dive into editing and releasing my many Young Adult novels. Ridiculously excited about my YA paranormal, which is next in line.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

Probably back to the Garden of Eden so I could make a pair of cowboy boots out of that darn serpent.

One last thing!  I’m so excited to share with you that DANIEL THE DRAW-ER is now an audiobook, available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. My narrator for the book, Jay Prichard, did a great job bringing the characters to life. I think kids will really enjoy listening to Daniel’s adventures on long car rides or at bedtime.

As a thank you to your readers, I’d love to offer a chance for one of them to win a copy of either the Kindle ebook version or the audiobook of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER.


"This is no ordinary pencil,” says the cat sitting on the end of nine-year-old Daniel’s bed. "It's magic." 

Everything Daniel draws with his pencil--flying dragons, Octobears, and pizza-loving aliens from the planet Beezo--comes to life. It’s pretty awesome until the pencil draws a line between Daniel and his best (and only) friend Annie. 

Come along with Daniel and his fantastic creatures on this fun-for-the-whole-family journey as he discovers that friendship is the greatest magic of all.


S. J. Henderson is the author of the children’s book DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, as well as several
not-yet-published Young Adult novels.
S. J. lives in Michigan with her husband and four wild boys. When she is not writing about talking cats and magic pencils, S. J. can usually be found riding one of her family’s horses or drinking a little bit of coffee with her creamer.

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