Mymcbooks’s Blog Interview

MyMcBooks Interview with Dr. Sylvia Hawkins

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Dr. Sylvia Hawkins Little penned Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai as a present for her granddaughter’s third birthday. She was inspired by her granddaughter’s love of books, motivated by her son’s foreign language expertise, and challenged to find relevant learning materials for gifts. Family, friends, and colleagues subsequently asked her to share her gift; Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More English · Español · Français is her gift to you

Along with writing, editing, and co-authoring numerous consultative reports, educational manuals, guides, and handbooks, Dr. Little’s poetry was featured in the McDill Officer’s Wives Magazine. Her first children’s book, Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More English · Español · Français, won an She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Austin/Central Texas Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Chapter, and the Writer’s League of Texas.

Dr. Little holds a Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters of Education from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Currently an independent education consultant, Dr. Little has been teacher, principal and school district assistant superintendent during her career; her work has concentrated in multi-ethnic school districts. She understands that today’s young people must speak multiple languages to succeed in today’s diverse, high-tech, information-oriented global society.

Interview with Sylvia Hawkins Little, PH.D. Author of Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and more English· Español · Français. A Tri-Lingual Book.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read?
This question has two answers. I habitually read more than one book at the same time and usually finish them both about the same time. I just finished reading Keli Goff’s “The GQ Candidate” and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

What were your earliest memories of writing?
My earliest memories of writing are from my high school days. I wrote a monthly column for aChicagomagazine on the “happenings— sports, academics, social events, who doing what, and etc.” atParkerHigh School.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I wouldn’t say that I was encouraged or discouraged to write. My parent’s philosophy was that you could do anything you want if you just put your mind to it. Writing was just something that I decided to do and just did.

For example, when I noticed my high school wasn’t included in the Chicagomagazine that I mentioned earlier, I called, set up a meeting, met with the editor, and got the assignment. The same thing happened when I decided to write for Fair Force Times, MacDill Air Force Base’s Officers Wives Magazine. I called, offered my services, and agreed to write a poem each month. I created a new poem each month until my family left MacDill Air Force Base.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes. I’m editing several books. A children’s book that uses prose to delineates examples of Black’s ingenuity that make life wonderful for you and me.

It is said that history repeats itself, but we are only doomed to relive our past if we fail to learn from it. The past is not a map to where you are going, it’s a record of where you have been. Its purpose is not to drag you back through emotional muck, but to serve you best by reminding you of lessons learned so you can avoid them in the future.

~Kimberly and Tom Goodwin~

The second book uses humor to look at a critical need, more parental investment in their child’s education, for some areas of our country and suggest parents  [a] remember the self-fulfilling prophecy—a statement that alters actions and therefore comes true and [b] raise their children as if they were geniuses.

Some superior minds are unrecognized because there is no standard by which to weigh them. ~Joseph Joubert~

You were inspired to write Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai as a presentfor your granddaughter could you tell us a little about it?
Yes, I can. It was happenstance. My three realities converged. I have [1] a granddaughter who loves books, [2] a son who is fluent in three languages—English, Spanish and French, and [3] a burning desire to give appropriate entertaining instructional materials as gifts.

Before I realized it, the gift search had turned into a conceptual design for a book manuscript, just as quickly went through various stages, and finally was a bound book, Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai. After prodding by family friends and colleagues, it was revised and published as Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More   English · Español · Français.

You also write poetry, would you be publishing a book of poetry soon?
I hope so.  As previously mentioned, I’m editing a poetry book about Black’s ingenuity that makes life wonderful for you and me and plan to turn a couple of those poems into Children’s e-books.

What was your favorite children’s book?
“The Black Emperor” It is about Toussaint L’Ouverture’s life [1743-1803]. He won international renown in the Haitian fight for independence. I can’t remember the author’s name.

L’Ouverture’s life story is impressive. It is a testament to the human spirit, ingenuity, and determination while providing an in-depth account of race relations during that time period.

Briefly, he was born inHaiti, the son of an African slave, taught to read and write – fled to join the Spanish army in the Spanish half of theIslandofHispaniola. He returned, beat the colonial French, saw off the Spanish in their half, beat a British, American and French blockade and created the first black republic in the World. When he was betrayed and captured he was taken toFrance, imprisonment and death. It is said that French soldiers lined the route from the port to the prison saluting a man they recognized as a great general.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Editing – for me.  I have been accused of being wordy. So I edited to decrease words. I can never seem to let it go. There is always another read through, a few words to change, to add, or eliminate.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

Reading, family, technology, and volunteer work are my favorite pass time activities.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I received suggestions on edit needed to the 1st edition and was eternally grateful that they were made. When you write a book such as my trilingual alphabet books, I learned that word usage varies according to where you live. Hence, what one individual sees as an incorrect word another sees it as correct.

On writer’s block, I do something for pleasure, a project around the house, or volunteer activities. I get the best ideas when I am doing other things and don’t have a tonsil or paper in hand.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
As an author, I hope that readers of my children’s books enjoy them, want to read them over and over, and recommend them to others.

As an educator, I hope that readers of my children’s books learn something, feel inspired or challenge, and most of all, continue if they haven’t started on a never-ending journey in their quest for knowledge.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
Suzanne Collins and Trenton Lee Stewart:
My granddaughter has told me it’s time to write a real book.  I would ask her favorite authors what mechanism they use to ensure that their characters actions are consistent with the role they are given in the book.

Keli Goff: My questions for Kelli are on introducing characters into the story line. Her introduction methods make it easy for the reader to learn their background, idiosyncrasies, and relationships to the main character.

Neil Lozano: I would want to know about the reaction his grandkids had when they discovered he had written a book for them and would my tri-lingual alphabetic book sell to his audience.

Monica McKayhan: I would ask Monica what caveats that I should observed when writing teen romance novels.

Maurice Sendak: I have often wondered what he was concept or theme he had in mind when created his illustrations for Where The Wild Things Are.

What author inspires you the most and why?

Maya Angelou. Why? Sheis an author, poet, activist, and a philanthropist. I think of her as a national treasure. Numerous others also agree. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and wrote inauguration poems at their request for two presidents, Clinton in 1993 and Obama in 2009.  Specifically, she has used her time, talent, and treasure to improve the lives of others.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I used to be very regimented. Last year, I decided not to schedule what, when, and how I would do things. I now know that I function best using a schedule.

I believe that goals give meaning to one’s purpose in life. Hence, I always have long and short-term goals.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
For this question, I’ll give my educator not author answer. The parents, hopefully, will have spent time reading to their children and have a sense of what subjects and type of books they like.  If they haven’t, I would suggest spending time with their children browsing the shelves of their public library—the best bargain in town, or a large bookstore to get an idea of their preferences. The first Saturday in December is “Take You Child To A Bookstore Day”.

If their children should select book(s) that they find inappropriate, then hold discussions that carefully lead their children to making other choices. Never, ever place a value judgment on their child or their child’s selection. Remember, as an adult you have had many years to develop your views and your child has lived only a few years and hasn’t had that luxury. It is time for the parent to reflect on what Juvenal once said, “A child is owed the greatest respect; if you have ever have something disgraceful in mind, don’t ignore your son’s tender years.”

Apart from the subject matter, I would suggest that parents select books that address at least four of the points below:

  • Create a desire to learn
  • Stimulate intellectual curiosity,
  • Celebrate diversity,
  • Enhance strong character development,
  • Build upon prior knowledge,
  • Increase vocabulary,
  • Challenge ability,
  • Instill a quest for knowledge.

What advice you would give to new writers?
There are five areas I would touch upon when talking with new writers.

Learn as much as possible about the group that you intend to write for that includes their idiosyncrasies, preferences, tribulations and etc.

Research the subject or areathat you intend to write aboutuntil you know it like the back of your hand. If you decide to construct a new world, then use technology to help you learn more about the possibilities and limitations of your new world. In short, do your research before you begin writing, it will save time in the long run.

Organizations & Support Groups for authors are available at local, state and national levels. I would suggest that you first join the Society For Children Book Writers And Illustrators at the national level. They will put you in touch with your local organization where you can learn about all of the support groups.

Publish Options include getting an agent, looking for a publisher or self-publishing. Note that within these options are numerous choices. This is where research and technology should be used to the fullest

Marketing is one area that cannot be overlooked. You might write an outstanding book, get outstanding reviews, and sell very few. Need I say more about the value of marketing?

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thank you for this interview.


MyMcBooks Interview & Review w/Author Donalisa Helsley

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Donalisa lives inTulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, David, her daughters, Jadyn and Genesis and their miniature schnauzer, Shadow. She is Wild About Reading. Donalisa has written many stories since she was a child. She is a social worker and has worked with children for over 12 years. Donalisa is finishing her Masters in Social Work so that she can be a therapist for children and adolescents.

Interview with Donalisa Helsley, author of The Day No One Played Together.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on MyMcBooks Blog

What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben. I’ve already read it before but didn’t realize it until I got it home from the library. I read it again anyway because I could not remember the ending!  Also, I usually read more than one book at a time! I’ll have one on the night stand, one in the office, one in the car and some on the ipad, and my iphone. That way I always have a book wherever I go!

What were your earliest memories of writing?
I remember typing on an old typewriter at the kitchen table at nine years old. I completed my first book when I was 11. It was about 250 typed pages and it was a Christian version of “Sweet Valley High” I gave it to a friend to read and never got it back! It still frustrates me to this day!

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I believe it was something that came natural. I was encouraged to read and loved to. I would think of stories I wished I could read and would write them instead.

What was your favorite children’s book?
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was my very favorite as a child. I also loved George and Martha and Amelia Bedelia books.  I  read all of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Laura Ingall’s Wilder books over and over. Growing up I was so thirsty for books I read any book that I could find in the house (even the hidden ones). So I read a lot of non fiction and A LOT of  historical romance novels (shhh don’t tell my mom!) Another of my all time  favorites is Oh, The Places You Will Go! by Dr Seuss. Which I didn’t read until I was in high school.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I have quite a few already written. I am currently finishing up two. One is about a big bad bully and the other is a silly mixed up fairytale. I don’t know when I will be sending any of them out to be published. “I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies” will be out in January.

What inspired you to write ‘The Day No One Played Together’ and how did you come up with each character?
I promised my oldest daughter that I would write a story about her when she was three. She is multiracial (black, white and chinese). She wanted to see someone that looked like her in books. So the characters are based on my two daughters, Jadyn (9) and Genesis (4). I am always trying to help them figure out how to work through conflicts on their own. I  helped them learn to compromise and they loved doing it so much that I thought that maybe other children would enjoy the lesson also.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I hope that they learn that they can brainstorm creative solutions to their problems. My goal with the Jadyn and Genesis series is that children learn life and social skills in a fun way.

What do your kids think about your book?
My kids are estatic! They want to show everyone and they can’t wait for the other two books that I have written about them to be illustrated. They have told all of their friends that they can be in the books too.

Tell us about your website ‘Wild About Reading’
My website is a place you can go to learn more about me, my mission and also buy my books. It is a work in progress. I want to add links to places you can donate books for children who can’t afford them and also some tips for parents. My Wild About Reading facebook page is a page where I share tips, encouragement, book reviews, interviews of other authors, book give aways and trivia. Stop by and visit! The goal is to re-ignite a love of reading in parents and encourage it in children.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
The most difficult part is actually setting aside time to write. It seems every moment of everyday is filled with something to do. Once I have the time the words seem to flow right out.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I am a mother, a student, and a therapist. So most of my time is spent studying, taking care of my family and of course reading. Oh yeah, and Facebook!

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, James Patterson, Iris Johansen, Tami Hoag….I have so many. I love reading true stories of people who have survived. I would also love to dine with people like Corrie Ten Boom, Elie Wiesel, Langston Hughes….the list could go on and on.

What author inspires you the most and why?
I am not sure who inspires me the most. I am inspired by any author who puts their work out there for the world to see. What people don’t understand is that when we write we are sharing a piece of our heart and soul. Its scary. Anyone who is brave enough to share their work and let the world see a piece of them inspires me.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Procrastination is the only rule I follow consistently. Sadly, in my writing I do not impose schedules or even goals upon myself. If it comes to me I jump up and scribble it on a scrap piece of paper or I type into my ipad or whatever is handy. Once I have graduated “I have a dream” (said in a Martin Luther King Jr. voice) that I will be able to devote a more consistent and structured time to write.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
One of my favorite quotes sums it up: “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children that have not found the right book.” ~Frank Serafini  Let your child chose what they like. Take them to the library, the bookstore and let them wander around. If you notice they have an interest in dinosaurs or princesses find all the books about dinosaurs and princesses you can find.

I have also learned that just because I liked a book that doesn’t mean my daughters will like it. So I watch and see what they enjoy and then try to find other books like it.Readingshouldn’t be a chore. If all they want to read is comic books be happy they are reading. I do suggest checking out what they read so that you can be aware of what is going on. I try to read every YA book that comes out and is a fad because it helps me engage with my child and adolescent clients and also I figure one day my kids will be reading them.

What advice you would give to new writers?
1. Read, Read, Read. How can you be a writer if you don’t even read? 2. Find people that you trust to share your thoughts with. 3. Never stop believing in magic, the impossible and the unbelieveable. Some of the greatest books I have ever read were written by people who remembered what it was like to be a child and to dream. 4. If you are a children’s book writer I believe that there is a part of us that never grows up. Tap into that!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thanks for reading this. It is very humbling to think that anyone would want to read about me! By the way when I grow up I would like to be a ninja. Random? That’s me!

Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me and review my book!



MyMcBooks Interview & Review w/ Sonya Kimble-Ellis

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[learn_more caption=”Click To Read Review”]
The Sandcastle Kids: A Mayan Adventure written by Sonya Kimble-Ellis and illustrated by Matthew Hebert.

The Sandcastle Kids: A Mayan Adventure tells the exciting journey of Rosa, Kamal Richard and Daisy. In this, the first book of the series, the Kids are whisked away to Central Peten. The year is 420 A.D.

My Review:

Four friends Rosa, Kamal Richard and Daisy decided to go to the beach to make sandcastles and came across a hung sand dune. As they poured water onto the dune, the sand began to swirl and spun round the kids like a tornado taking them to another time and place in history. When they were brought down to earth they found out that they were no longer at the beach but in Central Peten and the year is 420 A.D.

They met Chamula, a friendly villager who took the four friends to his village and teaches them about life in Mayan village. They joined the villagers to help build their bridge. The author did a great job taking us on a journey to Central Peten learning about the Mayan culture in a unique and exciting way and learning about the hieroglyphic writing, their system of trading, the Mayan food and their kind of unique animals.

The message in this book is about teaching the children about history, other cultures and helping others. The last page of the book contains discussion questions. Recommend for classroom teaching. Want to find out how the kids got back to the beach?

Click to purchase your copy.

Ages: 6 and up

FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion in any way.[/learn_more]



Sonya Kimble-Ellis is a freelance writer, author, and editor who writes about business, education, entertainment, human interest, beauty and interior design. Her work has appeared in Scholastic’s classroom magazines, Black Enterprise, The New York Daily News, Celebrity Hairstyles, Kitchen Solutions, Matters, Upscale and other publications and Web sites (,, and She has worked as an editor at NYFA, Scholastic, and Short Styles magazine. She is the author of the children’s activity books Math Puzzlers (Scholastic) and Traditional African American Arts & Activities (John Wiley & Sons). She also recently authored a biography for teens titled Bill Cosby: Entertainer & Activist (Chelsea House).

Interview with Sonya Kimble-Ellis author of The Sandcastle Kids: A Mayan Adventure
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog.

What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was “This Year You Write Your Novel” by Walter Mosely. I have written a few chapters for a novel but haven’t finished it, so I’m hoping this book will help me get it done.

What were your earliest memories of writing?
I started writing poetry when I was about ten years old. We had a school journal that students could submit poems to and I got started that way.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
Writing has always come natural. But as I started to get into the journalism business, I had to work at learning how to write different styles and for different age groups and audiences. Writing a business article is different from writing a how-to piece for children.

Are you working on a new book?
I am working on an idea for another picture book, but because the concept belongs to someone else, I can’t say what it is right now. I do plan to write more Sandcastle Kids books as well.

What inspired you to write Sandcastle Kids: A Mayan Adventure and how did you come up with each character?
The Sandcastle Kids is an idea I came up with ten years ago. It was turned down by several publishers at that time. I re-worked the story a little and decided to self publish the book. I wanted to do something that was multi-cultural and educational, but I also wanted it to be fun and something that kids would want to read. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded in doing that.

What was your favorite children’s book?
I don’t know that I had a favorite but there were always the classic Cat in the Hat books andCharlotte’s Web. There weren’t many multi-cultural children’s books around when I was a child.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
It seems as if I’m always writing. I do have an interest in interior design and creating products for the home, so hopefully one day I can put more energy into that.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Fortunately, I haven’t read any bad reviews but that’s something you always have to prepare yourself for. It’s part of the business. As far as writer’s block, every writer gets it. It’s frustrating but sometimes it’s good to step away from the work for a few days if possible and then go back to it. When writer’s block happens, it’s always good to use that time to read. Writers have to read.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
The importance of learning about other cultures and of helping others.

What author inspires you the most and why?
James Baldwin because I just admire his work and the fact that it reflects the period of time that he lived in; his passion about the civil rights movement; and his willingness to create a living environment that allowed him to live and work with less stress and craziness. I am also inspired by Gordon Parks because he was multi-talented and did many things well (photography, writing, filmmaking). I was fortunate enough to meet both men before they passed away. I also love Maya Angelou, Ernest Hemingway, and lots of others. It’s hard to mention just one author.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I’m constantly working at getting better with that. Life always seems to get in the way. Writing to make a living also sometimes gets in the way. So finding time to write for your own creativity can be difficult. I write best in the evening or at the library, where there’s no distractions. I’m still working on that discipline thing.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
Choose books with your child. If it’s a book that visually appealing to them and about a subject he or she is interested in, then they’ll want to read it. As a parent, you can make sure that their choice gels with what you want for your child.

What advice you would give to new writers?
Write, write write. Read, read, read.

Thank you for this interview.


MyMcBooks Interview w/ LaNiyah Bailey

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Author Bio: LaNiyah Bailey is a 6‐year‐old author with a message for children like her – just because you are bigger than other kid, that doesn’t mean that people have the right to bully you.

In her debut book, Not Fat Because I Wanna Be, LaNiyah details the struggle of Jessica, a fictional girl who has an underlying medical issue that causes her to gain weight. Bullied by her peers, Jessica learns to accept her body and eventually opens up about her condition to her classmates.

LaNiyah is not only speaking to other children through her book, but has become an advocate for anti‐bullying organizations. With a message that words can hurt and that not all weight gain is due to an unhealthy lifestyle, LaNiyah hopes her book will enlighten and entertain her young readers.

Interview with LaNiyah author of Not Fat Because I wanna Be.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on MyMcBooks Blog.

What inspired you to write? I was inspired to write because I’ve been teased and bullied a lot. I decided that enough was enough; I wanted to use my voice to tell people what happened to me and how it made me feel. Hoping it could make it better for another kid that was getting bullied or teased because they were different.

Do you consider yourself a born writer? I would say yes, to that because I am only six and have written a book already.

Have you had any training to become a writer? No, I never had training. It just came about in my mind and because it something that happened to me it was a little easier.

What type of books do you mostly write? Truth-based; fiction

Can you share with us a little about your current book? It is a story about a fictional girl named Jessica, who had an underlying medical condition that caused her to gain weight. She was being teased and bullied all the time because she was different. Then one day she had the courage to stand up for herself.

What type of book promotion works for you? Any special strategies you’d like to share? My mother and her team promote the book all over the internet. But, we have been going out a lot to places where children are and giving away the book for free, just to get the story out there. Then people come to the website and purchase the book.

What like most about writing? I like that I get to share my feelings and that I can possibly be helping other kids share their story.

Do you find it hard to balance your personal writing time with your other job(s)? I am in kindergarten so it’s not hard to write and go to school. I write when I get home.

Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them? Well, I am trying to come up with another story right now for my 2nd book. I am working with my mom on putting together a TV cooking show that we want to do with me and a celebrity.

Tell us about your writing space? We write all over our house. Paper and pens are everywhere. hahaha

Do you do first drafts on a computer or by hand? My mom wrote down my story with a pen and paper then she typed it up to do the editing.

What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write? Well, I imagined my story in my mind, along with the true things that happened and that’s how I created it.

Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards? I haven’t been in any contests or anything for my book.

What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone? You should use the courage from inside you and share it with others because you may be helping someone else with your story.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us? Yes, I plan on writing more books soon and I hope this book helps a lot of kids and inspires them to stand up for themselves and stops bullies from bullying others because of their differences.

I thank you for taking the time to share with my readers about being an author. And I thank you, for having me today. I had a great time and I really appreciate you helping share my message and my book “Not fat because I wanna be”. Please visit my website at:

Author Website / Blog Address:

Facebook Fan Page


Product Description: Not Fat Because I Wanna Be by LaNiyah Bailey

In her debut book “Not FAT Because I Wanna Be” 6 year old, author/youth advocate, LaNiyah Bailey, details the struggle of Jessica, a fictional girl who has an underlying medical issue that causes her to gain weight. Bullied by her peers, Jessica learns to accept her body and eventually opens up about her condition to her classmates.

My Review: It’s important to take bullying seriously and not just brush it off as something that kids DO. Looking different do not give anyone the right to be picked on.  If you or someone you know is bothered by a bully, talk to someone you trust. This is a great book for parents to read to their children and for teachers to share with their students, to educate them about bullies and the signs of bullying.  Highly recommend this book.


MyMcBooks Interview w/ Cherese A. Vines

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Novelist, Cherese A. Vines was born into a military family in the late 1970s. She has lived in a number of different cities and states throughout her life. Although she has a background in Journalism, her love of reading fiction led to creative writing pursuits. She has incorporated her experiences and travels into her stories, which include young adult fiction, science-fiction, and fantasy. She has self-published two young adult novels, Countercharm and Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams and is currently working on her third novel, Elan Vital. Cherese currently resides near Atlanta,GA with her husband and two

Interview with Cherese A. Vines author of Countercharm.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog


What is the last book you read?

The last book I read was Pendragon: The Merchant of Death by DJ MacHale. I found the book at my local thrift store and saw that there was a series so I bought all the Pendragon books there. Thrift stores and libraries are good places to take a chance of an author you don’t know. I had never heard of the Pendragon series, but it seems like a pretty good series so far.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I wrote a story in second grade for a project. We made our own books with wallpaper and cardboard and wrote our stories inside. I still have the two that I made some 27 years ago. It’s amazing to see your words in a book that everyone can enjoy. It was not until I was 24 that I was able to see my words in a professional, glossy book when I self-published my first young adult novel, Countercharm. It was only a little more exciting that those first ones in second grade.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

A little of both. But I was definitely nurtured as a reader first and then a writer. I love reading and that’s where writing starts. Once I discovered that I could make up my own stories and write them down, it became a fun thing for me to do and to escape into a new world. But it wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 years old when I got typewriter as a present that I started typing up my first book. It was about a young girl who’s parents were going through a divorce. I guess it was therapeutic because my parents were divorcing at that time. I think a lot of children could relate to the story today, but I never published it I think because it was so personal to me.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes. Elan Vital is my next book. It is a fantasy adventure story. It takes place on the same world as the one mentioned in my first book Countercharm and the sequel, Countercharm 2: Of Stars and Dreams. In Elan Vital two sisters are being trained as priestesses to protect their world by maintaining the balance of energy when they are orphaned by an attack on their village by semi-immortal beings. Afterward, the girls must complete their training on their own so that they can prevent the semi-immortals from further disturbing the balance and subsequently destroying their world.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I am a stay-at-home mom, so I have plenty to keep me busy with two young children. I also help other writers by critiquing and editing their work.

How did you come up with each character?

A lot of my stories come from dreams I’ve had so the characters come to me pretty well rounded already. Other characters come in to support my central character. In Countercharm, Sydnie Knight is 16, so she needs a guardian. Since her mother is not there, Aunt Sandra becomes the mother figure. So most of my characters evolve because my protagonist needs them. They all add something to the protagonist’s transformation.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

Oh definitely. When I put too much pressure on myself to produce something spectacular on the first draft, I end up blocking my creativity. I usually write without outlines and so most of the time I’m working from a general idea. As I write the inspiration for characters, settings, plot come to me without much planning. But when I try to be too specific and rigid with the direction of my story, it stifles my creative flow. The best thing for me to do is to put the story down for a few days or start on another part of the story and then I can usually work around the writer’s block. It’s always better to keep writing than to have a perfect first draft.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Editing is the most difficult part of writing for me. I’m really all about getting the story out and going along on the adventure. This is the fun part for me. But when I start to edit, it becomes work. I’m no longer riding along, I’m checking the gears to make sure it’s working right and replacing parts: Work. However, it’s something that must be done to give my characters and the story the respect they deserve. Spending all that time on editing makes me feel like I’m really invested in this story and that I really want it to be heard. There have been some stories that I didn’t think deserved editing, and so they’re in the bottom drawer somewhere. That’s not to mean that I will never revisit those stories again, it just means not now. They may get a second try because I may feel differently about them a few years from now. Another reason why editing is my least favorite task is that it tends to be a “forever” activity. As the author, I will probably always find something to change or make better, even when the book is in print.

How do you react to a bad review?

It can hurt a little, but if people only say “I liked it” when they really didn’t, this does me no good. How can I fix something so my reader can enjoy the journey if I don’t know something is wrong? With a bad review, I can take it and use it to make my stories better. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I take critiques seriously and I make sure I don’t repeat the mistakes that brought that type of review.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

It would have been great to sit down with Octavia Butler who passed away in 2005. She had such a phenomenal imagination. Before reading Octavia Butler’s books, I didn’t know African-Amercian women read or even wrote Science-Fiction and Fantasy. I thought I was a little strange for liking it when I was younger. Anne Rice is another writer I would like to meet. The way she writes is so beautiful. The words flow almost without effort, taking you into new worlds that although seedy at times, still sound pleasing just because of the way she puts the words together. J.R.R. Tolkien is another creative author. The world created in Lord of the Rings is amazing. The history is what drew me. The attention to the details of each character’s history and the worlds’ history is so appealing because Tolkien knew these worlds as if he really lived there. That’s what I like about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series as well. The characters are not just thrown in there. They are well thought out and have their own history that is just as real and important as Harry Potter’s because it made them who they are in the story.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?

Well, as a mother of two young children, I don’t have much time to write. But what I do make sure to do is to have a notebook and pen nearby at all times. I can get inspiration while driving or getting the kids ready for bed. Ideas come at such strange times for me. I also make sure I participate in the National Novel Writing Month each November ( It’s where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. It’s very ambitious, but I have finished three out of the four years I’ve done it. I like the challenge, it gives me the added discipline or push I need to make sure I write. It also gives me a sense of comradery with other others and a sense of accomplishment which is really a motivator in itself.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

I would tell them to talk to people who work with children like teachers, caregivers, librarians. Also, try different types of books to see what your child likes. Libraries and the internet are good resources as well. The best resource, however, is other parents. See what they are reading their children. What works best for me is letting my daughter choose her own books. I found that if I chose her books, they were more to my tastes and did not always interest her. But allowing her to choose the books actually was amazing. She seemed to pick the right books for her, for the time and message that we/she needed at that particular moment. She gets some sense of independence and responsibility as well which promotes positive emotions about reading.

What advice you would give to new writers?

My advice is to read widely, even genres you don’t like. Write daily. Take an English class. Interact with others who like books, whether it’s reading or writing. I like the idea that you write, write, write and then edit later. My focus is on getting the story out of your head and on paper. It’s so rewarding to see those words, your words, in print. Experience life as much as you can because every story has come from some bit of reality. Use all your resources and get positive support for your writing. Most important for me would be to write because you love to write not because you want to be a bestseller. I believe when you start writing to please others, your writing loses that sincerity and heart that makes it worth reading.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I believe everyone has a story in them, fiction or non-fiction, it doesn’t matter. Some people may not believe they are “writers” but if you can speak, you can write. And there are so many resources out there to make what you write, glossy and print ready. So write, because your story needs to be heard, read and enjoyed.

Thank you for this interview.


Cherese A. Vines Blog


MyMcBooks Book Review/Giveaway: Countercharm by Cherese A. Vines

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Countercharm by Cherese A. Vines

Sydnie Knight never knew how much her life would change when her mother sent her toSeattleto stay with her aunt. Upon her first meeting with a strange young man named Ron Andres, she has a foreboding feeling about him. After a series of dreamlike visions, bizarre behavior, and a near-fatal drowning accident, Sydnie is sent to “talk things out” with psychologist Dr. Neal Vaughan. From the doctor, Sydnie learns frightening realizations that only get more fantastic as time goes on. Who can she trust when she finds out her mother is missing and everyone seems to think she’s gone crazy? Including herself.

My Review: I love a good book that you can’t put down and Countercharm is that book. This story reminds me of sitting with my brothers and sister listen to my grandmother tell a good story where you can’t wait to know what happened to the main character. A story full of fantasy and imagination as you wonder what Ron is up to, and why Sydnie felt so strange every time he is around. Great story line and I recommend this book to family.

Age: 9 – 12

Pages: 111

For Giveaway information visit: MyMyBook Blog

To read an excerpt of chapter one click here.

For Cherese A. Vines blog visit:

MyMcBook interview w/ Jacquitta A. McManus

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All my life, I’ve gravitated to fantasy stories. Stories that I felt I could be a part of and completely immerse myself in … in my imagination.” – JMcManus

A little girl from Kentucky, Jacquitta A. McManus was always drawn to fantasy stories. It was a way for her to immerse herself into exciting adventures in faraway lands that she otherwise wouldn’t experience. As she got older she would find that immersing herself into those fantasy stories was just the beginning of a journey of writing children’s books.

With nothing else interesting her, she headed off to college to pursue a degree in digital animation. She took art classes along side animation classes and of course her basics. If you asked her she didn’t have a need for the basics.

“ I was one of the students who hated taking the basic courses. I was there for animation and that was all I wanted to do. Math… uhhh could have left it. Spanish… uhhh could have left it. English… well… was never a strong subject for me. Grammatics, (I know, it’s not a real word… but it sounds good.), just didn’t sink into my brain. I didn’t get it. Therefore I didn’t even consider being a writer of stories. My focus was getting into my animation classes.”

By the end of her college experience she started developing an interest in film. She also had a son, and although her grandmother was concerned that she wouldn’t finish, she did with a Mass Communications degree with an emphasis in Digital Animation and minors in Art and African American studies.

Married with a son, she moved to Atlanta. And not too long after had another baby, a girl. With a daughter growing out of watching Sesame Street and Blues Clues, Jacquitta realized that there were not a lot of stories, with protagonist that look like her, out there for her daughter to get into. And this bothered her! And although this didn’t immediately start her down the path of writing children’s books, it did spark the idea of writing children’s books.

She went on to produce and direct her first short film. Picked as one of the top five finalists in a film festival she was very happy with what she had accomplished. Shortly after, she began writing a series based on her short film. It was during this time that she realized that she didn’t like writing dramas that much, but preferred the fantasy adventure genre. And then she remembered all those movies she was able to escape into when she was a child. So like any storyteller she picked up some paper and a pen and began to outline her first trilogy. Six legal pads later she was hooked.

And now with two published books and one coloring book adventure she is on the path she had been on all her life. Writing fantasy adventures stories for children around the world to enjoy.

Interveiw with Jacquitta A McManus author of Anyia: Dream of a Warrior and Talee and the fallen Object.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was, The Septavalent Stone. I read it for my site The last book I read just for fun was, Septimus Heap – Flyte. And now I’m currently switching between a couple of writing books.

What are your earliest memories of writing?
I didn’t write a lot as a child as far as I can remember. I preferred daydreaming. But I do remember writing a story in middle school and reading it out loud in class and later having my teacher tell me it moved him. That’s the earliest memory I have of having someone commenting on something I wrote in that way.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
As I think back on it, I did have some teachers over the years tell me I had a way of bringing out stories. But I didn’t think much of it. What brought me to writing was my love of storytelling and my desire to one day create a series that I hopefully will have animated. Writing isn’t something that comes natural but storytelling does. So I’m encouraged to write by my desire to tell stories.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I’m working on a couple of books. I’m editing the second book in my Anyia series as well as editing a chapter book titled Ava Brooks. And in between those two books I’m working on my first novel, which I would love to have in a rough draft by the end of the year.

What inspired you to write Talee and the Fallen Object and how did you come up with each character?
I was inspired by the world. I wanted to create a story on a gas planet, which is what the concept of the planet Gala is based on. Once I had a rough idea of the world I had to create a character that would fit into it and that character came to be Talee. Talee is actually not the first character I created, but since the first character was much older and didn’t fit the age group, I created Talee. The inspiration for the Calpa’s came from the need to have a fantasy animal that could fly but still be friendly enough for a young age group. And since Talee was going to need a companion on her adventures I created Nola. And although Nola is Talee’s Calpa they are best friends and will go on a lot of amazing adventures together. I see them having lots of fun together.

Anyia: Dream of a Warrior is a great book about African Tradition, what inspired you to write it and have you visited any African country or plan to?
I have been to Africa. I did a study abroad course in Africa when I was in college and had a great time. And I’m sure that experience had some influence on me as a writer in general as well as specifically for the Anyia series. The story itself came to me in a very unusual way. I never set out to write a story with Anyia as the protagonist. Her series came about when I was working on my novel and Anyia, which is a character in the novel, wasn’t coming to me like I wanted her to. So I started writing a back story on her and from there grew her series. And I must say, Anyia and her story has greatly impacted the story of my novel … for the better.

What was your favorite children’s book?
The Secret of Nimh. I use to read a lot when I was a child and for some reason that book always stood out to me. I even drew the cover of the book when I was in middle school, which came out really good! I remember someone telling me that they thought I had traced it. I wish I had kept it.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Turning the worlds in my head into words. When I write I visually see it happening in my head, good imagination! Which is why it’s easier for me to write screenplays. What is hard for me is to transform those images and scenes into words that flow into chapters and ultimately a book.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
Creating the worlds. I love creating worlds and I love working with illustrators. I even like designing the clothing.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I haven’t really had a bad review. I did have someone give me 3 stars on Labyrinth’s Door but the review itself wasn’t bad. From what I can tell of their review is that they thought the book was cumbersome for their 7-year-old niece at times do to names and characters, which I can understand. The book is targeted at ages 9 – 12. So … I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
Adventure! I would love for children to read my books and escape into an adventure that they would want to return to over and over again. To feel like they met new friends and, if only for a moment, be able to be part of their world. That’s what I hope to do when I read a book so I hope to be able to create that for others.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
If I could have a dinner party of authors, screenwriters and songwriters I would invite: Jane Austen, J.K. Rowling, James Cameron, Rebecca Keegan, Philip Pullman, Angie Sage, Joseph Campbell, Salif Keita, Regina Spektor, India Arie and Will Jennings just to name a few. Oh, and Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy. I would love to know how he forms his jokes.

What author inspires you the most and why?
More than books, I’m inspired by storytelling. And for me, that mostly comes through the visual media. So I really find a lot of inspiration in the Star Trek series as well as series like Rome. I really don’t have a favorite author. I do have authors I will always read like J.K. Rowling and what I love about her writing is her ability to immerse me into her fictional worlds without distraction. I don’t like it when the author distracts me when I’m reading.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Okay, I’m laughing because I wish I were more disciplined. My goals are to keep writing and creating worlds and the only discipline I have right now is to write when the muse hits me, regardless if that means I’m writing at 3:00 am or 3:00 pm.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
As long as the language and content is appropriate I don’t think there is a wrong selection. What we as parents might like our kids to read might not be what our kids like to read. So my advice is to just let them read what inspires them. As long as they’re reading they are learning/practicing reading comprehension, which will be a great asset to them. And as they grow they will also find other books that will interest them and know they can read them and not be intimidated by them.

What advice you would give to new writers?
I would tell them to make sure they get their books line-edited before they publish. It’s part of the final polish and well worth the time and money.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, If they would like to know more about my books they can visit my website, or the can find me on Blog, Facebook, Twitter and GoodReads.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know a little more about me.