Thursday, October 27, 2016

Q&A with Bianca Schulze: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up

Now that you have had your debut as a children’s book author, what would you say is your favorite part about being a writer?
101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up: The must read book list for kids (Walter Foster Jr. 2016) is my first published children’s book, so I’m still such a newbie! However, I would say that the highlight, so far, has been seeing how much family support I have. Knowing that I have a husband that has my back when I need to meet a deadline and seeing the excitement of my 10-year-old daughter as I put this book together has been personally rewarding. My daughter’s so proud of me (I’m sure the little ones are too in their own special ways) and it makes my heart grow when I see her enthusiasm for this project—my family are my biggest advocates and that’s a great feeling. I’m incredibly lucky!

What is the secret to managing your work and family-life balance?
It’s a constant juggling act! I have built myself a specific daily routine with time carved out for everyone in the family, as well as time for myself. With 3 kids (ages 1, 4, and 10), the secret is to be prepared to go with the flow. Having a routine allows me to manage my time and also set my own expectations as well as the expectations of my family members. However, being ready to go with the flow allows me to stay present and adapt to the multitude of unexpected daily happenings.
What would you say was your favorite behind-the-scenes part about working on 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up?
My favorite part? Hmmm ….  I’d have to say the collaborative process of a book’s life from idea conception to published book in hand. Writing the book itself can be a solo effort, but I think the most rewarding part is seeing the finished product. So many people play a part in having a single book published: editors, illustrators, book designers, printers, publicists … and it’s so fun being a part of a team who’s goal is to bring your words to life in the best possible way.

Did you always aspire to be an author?
To be completely honest, growing up I wanted to be a film star! I got as far as a being an extra in 3 different TV commercials (Cocoa Puffs, Pizza Hut, and a Korean cosmetic ad), as well as being featured in a commercial for the Australian Tourism Commission.  The latter helped me purchase my first car, an old maroon mini with gold painted mag wheels.
However, eleven years ago, something hit me out of nowhere and I decided that I was going to be a children’s book writer. I started out by working part-time as a children’s bookseller in an independent bookstore in Washington, DC. And soon after that, my husband encouraged me to start a blog where I could write about all of the great kids books I was discovering and being inspired by—I’m still writing away on The Children’s Book Review. I’ve been immersing myself in the world of children’s literature for quite some time now and my eleven-year dream has officially come true.

About Bianca Schulze
Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, a resource devoted to children’s literature and recognized by the American Library Association as a ‘Great Website for Kids.’ She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s bookseller, Bianca’s goal is to share her passion to help grow readers. 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up is her first book.

Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children in Boulder, Colorado.  

You can visit her at

Pinterest: tcbr

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Support An Indie Author: C.L. Lynch

A common complaint from new authors, especially indie authors, is that their friends and family have hurt their feelings by not buying or clamoring to read their book. It's important to remember how awkward it can be for people when their friend is a writer. There’s a sort of underlying expectation that if they're really your friend, they should read your book. After all, haven’t you been pouring my heart and soul into it for years? Isn’t it one of your favourite topics of conversation? In some ways, not reading your book is sort of like not wanting to see your new baby, right? Many people feel hurt when no one seems interested in their magnum opus.

But here’s the thing – not everyone is a reader. Some people love to read, and can't imagine a life without books. Some people devour a new book every day or two. But many others - in fact, I would say the vast majority of people - read only a few fiction books a year, if that. Many people claim to love reading but will go months or even years without actually reading a book from cover to cover. Chances are that you have friends who love things that you aren't into. Do you attend every sports event that your friend participates in? Do you buy from your friend's curling store, even though you don't curl? We can love our friends without having to participate heavily in things that they love, which we do not. And if your friend expected you to take up curling just because she opened a curling store, and was hurt if you didn't, what would you think?

Even when people are readers, they won’t necessarily enjoy your genre. Can you imagine being someone who loves children’s fiction and Disney, but is friends with George RR Martin? No one should have to read that if they aren’t into it. The fact is that if your friends and family aren't into science fiction, they aren't going to be drooling to read your new space opera, and nor should they have to.

I don’t need every one of my friends to buy and love my book. I already have friends who are readers, and do enjoy my genre, and several of them have already become what authors call “super fans.” In fact, one of them, who insists on being given the title of Howie’s Number One Fan, arranged a whole tea party where she and I got dressed up and drank tea and did nothing but talk about my book, because she is that enthusiastic about it. I love knowing that when I need to talk to someone about a plot twist in the story, she is always ready to be my sounding board.

Is she a better friend than the ones who will never read it? Not necessarily.

There are tons of ways to be a good friend, and my friends have been there for me and helped me out through very difficult life circumstances. They have been shoulders to cry on. They have dropped everything to come to my aid when I needed them. They just aren’t all into feminist zombie YA fiction, and that’s okay.

If you’re an author who is hurt by a friends’ lack of interest, remind yourself – there are lots of ways to be a friend. Look for the people who are interested, and find yourself a superfan friend. They’re great. But they aren’t better friends. They’re just better fans.

Author Bio:
C.L. Lynch is a socially awkward introvert. She wrote her first novel, Chemistry, because she wanted to write a book which was “the exact opposite of Twilight,” featuring an assertive heroine and a respectful love interest. She lives in Vancouver with her husband, two kids, and far too many unwashed dishes. She enjoys reading, writing, and hiding from adult responsibilities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The ink may fade, but never the message.

For graduation from college back in 1975, my parent's bought me a stunning sterling silver fountain pen engraved with the date and my initials. It remains one of my favorite possessions and sits on my desk where I can see it every day. It's been through every milestone in my life. I used it to sign my marriage license, addressing the envelopes announcing the birth of my children and grandchildren. It's sleek and elegant and reminds me of another time, when we actually made time and didn't rush- we couldn't even if we tried. You have to write slowly, thoughtfully. You have to give the ink a chance to dry. My mother loved the written word, so it was a fitting gift from her. She used one her entire life and now when I pull out a postcard or a note from her and see her graceful hand, her cherished letters, I enjoy both her words and the pen that shaped it. The ink may fade, but never the message. 

Carole P. Roman

Monday, October 17, 2016

Guest Post: Disney World and Allergies by Michael Phillip Cash

I took my wife and kids to Disney World last week. We traveled with my brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew. We had a ball, an absolute blast. The last time I was at Disney, I was 16 years old, and I drove with my parents & brother. I remember loving it but making a mental note that I don’t have to come back here for 22 years – which is exactly what I did.

Disney has changed, for the better. We stayed at the Animal Kingdom. My kid’s scream made my tinnitus worse when they saw giraffes and an array of animals, just feet from our hotel room. I really can rest at ease that I will never have to go on an actual safari for the rest of my life. I’m OK with this. I always have Disney.

One thing that really stood out during my trip was the strides Disney has made at their restaurants. For my entire life, I have been severely limited to food. I am highly, HIGHLY allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, tomatoes, avocado, eggplant, and chickpeas. My niece is allergic to dairy, eggs, and chickpeas, and my nephew is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and eggs. We’re allergic kids, what can we say?

I have always been uneasy walking into a restaurant. Any restaurant I have ever been too, ANY restaurant, I have to repeat my order to the server a few times and stress that no nuts or tomatoes (or any other foods I can’t eat) touch my plate.  So far, I have a pretty good track record and have never gone into anaphylactic shock in a public place, which I intend to keep that way.

We got to the Rainforest CafĂ© and ordered. The server stopped me in my tracks the minute I said, “I have an allergy too…” She said the chef would come out and take my order, and that’s exactly what he did.  AT EVERY SINGLE RESTAURANT I ATE AT DURING MY DISNEY TRIP. Even The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Every chef, no matter where we ate, came out and assured my family and me that my food would be prepared on a brand new table that was not cross-contaminated with any food from the rest of the kitchen. They even had allergy-free menus!

It was one of the biggest sighs of relief I have ever had in my life. Disney takes allergies seriously, and they want you to feel comfortable.

I only hope this spreads to other restaurants around the country. Not just for me, but for my niece and nephew, who have rarely, if ever, ordered food in a restaurant due to possible cross contamination.

Disney will have my business for decades to come. I felt safe and knew that my food was not cross- contaminated. I certainly won’t be waiting another 22 years to visit. My kids are already begging to go back for President’s week vacation.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Vivid Picture Of A Different Era

Mary Davenport is her father's favorite. Petted and indulged by him, she is beloved by everybody in the house except her mother and brother. She can't understand why her mother appears to resent her. Together the family lives a privileged lifestyle in their mansion Davenport House, surrounded by trusted servants and secrets. 

Servants may seem to be invisible working to keep the great house running, however, they have a keen understanding of the dynamics of the family.

Tragedy strikes when Mary's father dies mysteriously making the upstairs life of the wealthy inhabitants collide with the downstairs servants, driving the family down a twisted path.

Simply written, Marie Silk draws a vivid picture of a different era, patiently recreating the glamor that hides a tarnished past. Mary may start the saga as a child, but ends it as a woman. An entertaining read that's easy to spot the heroes from the villains.

Happy Reading!
Carole P. Roman

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Circus Run By Dream Travelers


When a stranger joins the cast of Vagabond Circus—a circus that is run by Dream Travelers and features real magic—mysterious events start happening. The once orderly grounds of the circus become riddled with hidden threats. And the ringmaster realizes not only are his circus and its magic at risk, but also his very life. 
Vagabond Circus caters to the skeptics. Without skeptics, it would close its doors.

This is because Vagabond Circus runs for two reasons and only two reasons: first and foremost to provide the lost and lonely Dream Travelers a place to be illustrious. And secondly, to show the nonbelievers that there’s still magic in the world. If they believe, then they care, and if they care, then they don’t destroy. They stop the small abuse that day-by-day breaks down humanity’s spirit. 

 If Vagabond Circus makes one skeptic believe in magic, then they halt the cycle, just a little bit. They allow a little more love into this world. That’s Dr. Dave Raydon’s mission. And that’s why this ringmaster recruits. That’s why he directs. That’s why he puts on a show that makes people question their beliefs. He wants the world to believe in magic once again.

Get it HERE and prepare to get lost in Sarah's magical world!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Children's Book Review: If You Were Me And Lived In... Poland

"Are you ready to explore beautiful Poland with renowned author Carole P. Roman? If you answer yes, get ready to wander through an underground city completely carved from rock salt, discover music from a world famous composer and legends about mermaids, and eat potato filled pockets of dough known as pierogi. If You Were Me and Lived in … Poland: A Child’s Introduction to Culture Around the World is a wonderful blend of daily activities and histories, providing a multi-faceted look into how a child’s life could be if they were to live in this culturally rich European nation."

Click HERE to read the complete review!