Marissa Meyer, bestselling author of Cinder, prepares to launch Scarlet!

Bestselling author of Cinder and Scarlet

Bestselling author of Cinder and Scarlet

We met at a Barnes and Noble author event in October where I picked up a copy of Cinder. I became an instant fan! With the launch of her sequel Scarlet due out next month, I was able to get Marissa to sit down for a few moments before her next book tour to share her thoughts.

What first inspired you to write Cinder?

I’d been trying to write a novel since I was sixteen, but had never found an idea that I could stick with to the end—I always got bored of the stories I was working on. Then at one point I wrote a short story that was a futuristic retelling of the fairy tale “Puss in Boots” – it was so much fun that I wanted to try to write a longer futuristic fairy tale retelling, maybe even a whole series of them! A few months after I had that idea, the vision of a cyborg Cinderella popped into my head and immediately began to fill me with ideas for her world and story. I knew as soon as I started writing it that it would be the first novel I finished.

 Why fairy tales?

I’ve always loved fairy tales—since those first Disney movies when I was a kid. There’s something very universal about them. We all know the stories, we can all relate to their underlying themes, and yet they still offer so much potential for twisting and re-imagining them. I don’t think we, as a species, will ever grow tired of fairy tales.

Tell us how you came to create your world of New Beijing.

I chose to set Cinder in futuristic China because I wanted to pay homage to the original Cinderella story, which was written by a 9th-century Chinese scholar. But as I wasn’t able to travel to the real Beijing for research, it allowed me more flexibility to create a made-up city, so I decided that our current Beijing was destroyed in a horrific war, and New Beijing was built to replace it. I had a lot of fun envisioning what that new city would be like—full of high-technology, towering skyscrapers, and lots of flashing advertisements and experimental architecture. But at the same time, I figured the people of the new Eastern Commonwealth would want to embrace their history, so there are also traditional zen gardens, sculptures, and art everywhere.

Are your characters molded after particular individuals? If so, who?

Nope—they’re all straight from my imagination.

 Tell us a little about Cinder and what her conflicts are. 

16-year-old Cinder is part-human and part-machine, making her a cyborg. Unfortunately, she lives in a society in which cyborgs aren’t largely trusted or understood, so she’s considered a second-class citizen and a piece of property to her adoptive stepmother. This obviously creates a lot of problems for her in general—questions of her worth and freedom—but it’s further complicated when she meets and begins to fall in love with Prince Kai, who has no idea she’s cyborg.

 Your next book, Scarlet, is a twist on the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood right? What’s next after that? How many books in this series?

 That’s right! There will be four books in total. Book 3: Cress will be based on Rapunzel and Book 4: Winter will be based on Snow White, but Cinder will continue to be a main character throughout all four books.

 Your writing is extremely tight with no slow moments or extraneous passages. Tell us about your editing team and how they molded your revisions to come up with this beautifully written book.

Thank you! While I did have a copyeditor who graciously caught a number of typos and consistency issues, I don’t really have a team that focuses on the writing like you’re talking about. That’s just my voice, I guess. Although I do at least one editing round, when a manuscript is almost completely final, where I’m only looking for unnecessary words or phrases. I often cut anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 words during this round, and don’t lose a single bit of the plot.

 Could you share with other aspiring writers your story of how you navigated your journey from concept to publication?

The first step, of course, was to write the best book I could. Cinder took almost two full years to write, revise, and edit. After that, though, my path to publication went very quickly. I queried about a dozen literary agents and two months later signed with the first agent I’d queried. She and I worked together for a couple weeks to compile the submission package, including summaries for all four books in The Lunar Chronicles. She then sent it to editors on a Friday and we had our first offer the following Monday. It was all very dizzying! But again—the important part of this story is all that time I spent upfront trying to craft a strong, engaging story.

Who are your personal heroes? Why do they inspire you?

J.K. Rowling—because she’s J.K. Rowling! Her story of hardship and persistence is so encouraging, and I admire her so much for how well she knows the world she created. She is an absolute genius.

 What’s next for Marissa Meyer? Please plug any of your upcoming events or marketing here so that we can get the word out! Please also give me the website and facebook (and twitter) address that you want me to plug for you.

Scarlet: Book Two of the Lunar Chronicles will hit bookstores on February 5 (and I’m so excited!!). I’ll be going on book tour (the schedule can be seen at so I hope some of your readers can come out and see me! Besides that, I’ll be diligently plugging away on Books 3 and 4.

I can be followed at:

Blog & newsletter:

Twitter: @marissa_meyer


Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog, Mikko!

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 17, 2013 in Uncategorized


I Honor the Greatness Inside You



Winning a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award was very exciting news. I bought my ticket to Traverse City, MI where I would receive my award at a banquet at the Top of the Park, an elegant restaurant in the tallest building in town. I was thrilled! Then I learned that I would be expected to make a 2-3 minute acceptance speech. Ok, a little less excited, but still…I know I can do this, just go in prepared. I spent several days hammering out a lively and amusing little speech that was guaranteed to whip the crowd into a frenzy of excitement for Askari. I practiced in my head on my drive, in the airplane and in the shower (I can’t look in the mirror and take myself seriously!). When I got dressed up and ready to receive my medal, I was confident, sweating only moderately, and praying that I wouldn’t sound like a blithering idiot once I’d stumbled my way to the stage.

However, as I sat in the auditorium listening to the other recipients, a theme of most speeches became apparent. They were all driven to write their stories, compelled by something beyond themselves; a passion to make whatever sacrifices were necessary to get their stories into the world. I started to squirm in my seat. That was not what I was prepared to talk about. I started to sweat more profusely. Then a beautiful woman stood up and accepted her award and gave a speech that pulled into focus everything that I had worked to hard to try and convey yet still managed to miss the mark. I knew in a split second how I was going to recover my speech. In essence, her message was this:

I have a friend who was, for most of his life, a Sherpa in Nepal. He moved to the United States and, after some time here, called me for some advice. He said, “Miss Rebecca, (the author was Rebecca Braden Nordeman who wrote Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer) I don’t understand Americans. They stop to ask you how you are doing, but never stay to listen to your answer. In my country, when we greet someone, we put our hands together (she demonstrated both palms out like expecting two high-fives) and we say ‘I honor the greatness inside you.’

In that moment, I realized what my book Askari was really  about. It is about honoring the greatness inside. I wrote it in honor of my eldest son Dale, who still has trouble finding acceptance. There are those kids (and adults) who don’t have obvious, measurable talents. They aren’t gifted athletes, musicians, intellectuals or whatever. For many, they are given labels and lumped together with all the other undesirables. For Dale, who is extremely handsome and intelligent (no, that’s not just my bias) but suffers from a learning disability and personality disorder, finding and keeping friends and finding an identity when so much focus is on what people can define you by other than your label, it was extremely tough and he is still working through, successfully, those challenges.

I began the story of Cedron Varkaras with Dale in mind. A boy who doesn’t fit in because of his differences. Although for fantastic fiction, I had to blow the issues way out of proportion and up the stakes to make a compelling novel. So Cedron is tormented and bullied because he’s different, but once it becomes known that the Varkaras freak has magical powers, taboo in Askari-Barre, his life becomes forfeit. He has to escape the throngs of terrified Askari who want to destroy him, the evil forces who want to exploit him and discover for himself that his perceived failings are truly the only gifts that Muralia has for her salvation. The gifts that Cedron has are the same as Dale’s and are not his phenomenal magical powers, but something much more significant. Without giving away the ending to the third book in this exciting trilogy, I’ll just say that both Dale and Cedron have to learn to embrace their true natures, redefine what is valued and find the courage to move forward, honoring the greatness that resides within each of them.

Leave a comment

Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards announced…Askari won a bronze medal! (#17)

2012 Moonbeam Childrens Book Awards Results

Celebrating Youthful Curiosity, Discovery and Learning through Books and Learning

Jenkins Group is proud to announce the winners of the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards. A total of 144 medalists have been chosen from nearly 1,000 entries. This year’s winners are a very geographically diverse group: medals went to books from 35 U.S. states, 7 Canadian provinces, and 3 countries overseas.

This year’s Moonbeam Awards medal ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 3rd annual Traverse City Children’s Book Festival, to be held on Saturday, November 10, 2012. All medalists and their guests are invited to attend.

Listed below are the 2012 Moonbeam Awards results, listed by category, followed by the Moonbeam Spirit Award winners.

Creating books that inspire our children to read, to learn, and to dream is an extremely important task, and these awards were conceived to reward those efforts.

Each year’s entries are judged by expert panels of youth educators, librarians, booksellers, and book reviewers of all ages. Award recipients receive gold, silver and bronze medals and stickers depicting a mother and child reading and silhouetted by a full moon.

Congratulations to all the winners!

2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards – Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists listed by category

1. Board Book/Cloth Book
Gold: 1,2,3, Sí! A Numbers Book in English and Spanish, by San Antonio Museum of Art (Trinity University Press)
Silver: Counting Wild Bears of the Native Northwest Coast, by Gryn White (Native Northwest)
Bronze: Black Bear Babies! by Donald M. Jones (Farcountry Press)

2. Alphabet/Counting Book
Gold: Zahra and Coco Alphabet, by Fatima Akilu; illustrated by Mustapha Bulama (Mockingbird Books)
Silver: Over in the Forest: Come and Take a Peek, by Marianne Berkes; illustrated by Jill Dubin (Dawn Publications)
Bronze: The Zigzag Zebra: A Rhyming Alphabet, by Marie Rippel and Donna Goeddaeus (All About Learning Press, Inc.)

3. Books Arts/Pop-up/Cut-out
Gold: Alphabet Everywhere, by Elliot Kaufman (Abbeville Kids)
Silver: My Secret Scrapbook Diary: Little Red Riding Hood, by Kees Moerbeek (Child’s Play International)
Bronze: Portrait of Spain for Kids, by Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art (Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art)

4. Activity Book 1 – Games, Arts & Crafts, etc.
Gold: Denise Logan’s Amazing Art Projects for Children, by Denise M. Logan (Dynamic Art Projects, LLC)
Silver: Super Simple Sumi-e, by Yvonne Palka (HeartRock Press)
Bronze: How to Draw Your Own Graphic Novel, by Frank Lee (PowerKids Press)

5. Activity Book 2 – Educational, Science, History, etc.
Gold (tie): Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering, by Donna Latham; illustrated by Jen Vaughn (Nomad Press) and Explore the Wild West! With 25 Great Projects, by Anita Yasuda; illustrated by Alex Kim (Nomad Press)
Silver: Arizona, Way Out West & Wacky: Awesome Activities, Humorous History, and Fun Facts, by Conrad J. Storad & Lynda Exley; illustrated by Michael Hagelberg (Little Five Star)
Bronze: Inference Jones: Using Higher-Order Thinking to Improve Critical Reading and Comprehension, by Robert E. Owen, M.A. (The Critical Thinking Co.)

6. Book with Music/Theatrical
Gold: Lil’ Chucky Charlie & His Country Bug Friends, by Chris & Ron Surrey; illustrated by Mike Litwin (Surron)
Silver: Pirate Santa: A Pirate Adventure, by Clay Clement and Mark Summers; illustrated by Juan Alvarado (Studio City Tattoo)
Bronze: Evangeline! The Dancing Holstein, by Cheryl Kirking; illustrated by Jason Jolda (Mill House Press)

7. Picture Book – Preschool 
Gold: Picture my Day, by Séverine Cordier; illustrated by Cynthia Lacroix (Owlkids Books)
Silver: Little Seeds, by Charles Ghigna; illustrated by Ag Jatkowska (Picture Window Books/Capstone)
Bronze: David, Fish & Penguins…, Written and by illustrated by TURCIOS (Cuento de Luz)

8. Picture Book – 4-8 Year Old
Gold (tie): Little Lamb, Have You Any Wool? by Isabel Minhós Martins; illustrated by Yara Kono (Owlkids Books) and My Mama Earth, by Susan B. Katz; illustrated by Melissa Launay (Barefoot Books)
Silver (tie): No! written and by illustrated by Marta Altés (Child’s Play) and KokoCat, Inside and Out, by Lynda Graham-Barber; illustrated by Nancy Lane (The Gryphon Press)
Bronze: A Moment in Time, by Jennifer Butenas;  illustrated by Charlotte Cheng (The Perfect Moment, LLC)

9. Picture Book – All Ages
Gold (tie): My Hands Sing the Blues, by Jeanne Walker Harvey; illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon (Marshall Cavendish Children) and Good People Everywhere, by Lynea Gillen; illustrated by Kristina Swarner (Three Pebble Press, LLC)
Silver (tie): A Box Story, written and illustrated by Kenneth Kit Lamug (Rabblebox) andThe Gift, written and illustrated by Christina Vagenius (Heart Box Studio)
Bronze: Dromedary and Camelot, by Ruby M. Harmon;  illustrated by Eric Hamilton (Poetic Moves Publishing)

10. Juvenile Fiction – Early Reader/1st Chapter books
Gold: Zeke Meeks vs. the Putrid Puppet Pals, by D. L. Green (Picture Window Books/Capstone)
Silver (tie): Zanda Humphrey’s Operation Nice, by Kristy Short; illustrated by Pam Duplacey (Moore Publishing) and The Computer’s Nerd, by W. Royce Adams (Rairarubia Books)
Bronze: Pidgy’s Surprise, by Jeanne Mellin (Willow Bend Publishing)

11. Pre-Teen Fiction – General
Gold: Run Marco Run, by Norma Charles (Ronsdale Press)
Silver (tie): Summer Dance, by Lynn Swanson (Createspace) and Calling Him Dad: The Summer My Father Appeared Out of Nowhere, by Viginia Kamhi (WPR Books: Para Los Niños)
Bronze: Earthquake Surprise (A Bailey Fish Adventure), by Linda Salisbury (Tabby House)

12. Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy
Gold: The Moon Coin, by Richard Due; illustrated by Carolyn Arcabascio (Gibbering Gnome Press)
Silver: Archibald and the Black Knight’s Ring, by Shermay Loh (Epigram Books)
Bronze (tie): The Curse of Captain LaFoote (Caribbean Chronicles #1), by Eddie Jones (Port Yonder Press) and Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel (Amarias Adventures #1), by Amy Green (Warner Press)

13. Pre-Teen Fiction – Mystery
Gold: The Adventure of Maisie Voyager, by Lucy Skye (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
Silver: Chase Against Time (Chase Manning Mystery #1), by Steve Reifman (Brown Books Publishing Group)
Bronze: Diary of a Social Detective, by Jeffrey E. Jessum, Ph.D. (AAPC Publishing Company)

14. Pre-Teen Fiction – Historical/Cultural
Gold: Outcasts of River Falls, by Jacqueline Guest (Coteau Books for Kids)
Silver: Day of the Cyclone (Disaster Strikes #7), by Penny Draper (Coteau Books for Kids)
Bronze (tie): Someone Talked! by R. Conrad Stein (ChironBooks) and Huntsville, 1892: Clara, by Wanda Vaughn (OnStage Publishing)

15. Pre-Teen Fiction – Mature Issues
Sanjaygawa and the Yak Whisperer, by Rebecca Braden Nordeman; illustrated by Cloe Shaw (Tashi Deley Press)
Silver: Kendall’s Storm, by Janet Muirhead Hill (Raven Publishing)
Bronze: Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept, by Jayneen Sanders; illustrated by Craig Smith (Upload Publishing)

16. Young Adult Fiction – General
Gold: The Green-Eyed Queen of Suicide City, by Kevin Marc Fournier (Great Plains Teen Fiction)
Silver: Locker 572, by L. T. Kodzo (WinePress Publishing)
Bronze: Shanghaied, by David Paul Collins (iUniverse)

17. Young Adult Fiction – Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Gold: Edge of Time, by Susan M. MacDonald (Breakwater Books)
Silver: The Twelfth Stone, by Jana Laiz (Crow Flies Press)
Bronze (tie): Drake’s Story Stone, by T. F. Pumphrey (Tons of Imagination, Ink) andAskari (Child of Muralia Book 1), by Mikko Azul (AuthorHouse)

18. Young Adult Fiction – Horror/Mystery
Gold: Immortal Longings: A Vampire Novel, by Diane DeKelb-Rittenhouse (Tiny Satchel Press)
Silver: Mystery of the Tempest (A Fisher Key Adventure), by Sam Cameron (Bold Strokes Books)
Bronze: Secret of the Scarab, by Jay Roudebush (Lulu Publishing)

19. Young Adult Fiction – Historical/Cultural
Gold: No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie (Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner Publishing Group)
Silver: From Where We Sit: Black Writers Write Black Youth, Edited by Victoria A. Brownworth (Tiny Satchel Press)
Bronze: Freedom Bound, by Jean Rae Baxter (Ronsdale Press)

20. Young Adult Fiction – Religion/Spirituality
 YaYa & YoYo: Sliding Into the New Year, by Dori Weinstein (Yotzeret Publishing)
Silver: Ori’s Amazing Purpose: Faith in God’s Plan, by Mike and Carol Wyrick (WinePress Kids)
Bronze: The Fight, by Taylor S. Joseph (Four Star Publishing)

21. Young Adult Fiction – Mature Issues
Gold: How to Tend a Grave, by Jocelyn Shipley (Great Plains Teen Fiction)
Silver: wish i could have said goodbye, by Shari A. Brady (Createspace)
Bronze (tie): Girl Fight, by Faye Harnest (James Lorimer & Company Ltd., Publishers) and Girl Unmoored, by Jennifer Gooch Hummer (Fiction Studio Books)

22. Children’s Poetry
Gold: The Doorstep Orphan: Eugene Field and a Trilogy of His Best Loved Poems, by Jean A. Lukesh (Field Mouse Productions)
Silver: Lizard Lou: A Collection of Rhymes Old and New, by Marie Rippel and Renée LaTulippe (All About Learning Press, Inc.)
Bronze: And the Crowd Goes Wild! A Global Gathering of Sports Poems, Edited by Carol-Ann Hoyte & Heidi Bee Roemer; illustrated by Kevin Sylvester (FriesenPress)

23. Non-Fiction – Picture Book 
Gold: World Atlas, by Nick Crane; illustrated by David Dean (Barefoot Books)
Silver (tie): Adventures with Jonny: Road Trip to the Parks, by Michael A. DiLorenzo; illustrated by Jenniffer Julich (Running Moose Publications) and 1st and 10: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Football, by the Editors of Sports Illustrated Kids (Time Home Entertainment Inc.)
Bronze: Baking with Friends: Recipes, Tips and Fun Facts for Teaching Kids to Bake, by Sharon Davis and Charlene Patton; illustrated by Coleen McIntyre (Goops Unlimited/Home Baking Association)

24. Non-Fiction – Young Adult 
Gold: Little Rock Girl 1957: How a Photograph Changed the Fight for Integration, by Shelley Tougas (Compass Point Books/Capstone)
Silver: The Spy with the Wooden Leg: The Story of Virginia Hall, by Nancy Polette (Alma Little)
Bronze (tie): Gabby Douglas: Golden Smile, Golden Triumph, by
Christine Dzidrums (Creative Media Publishing) and The Flavor of Wisconsin for Kids, by Terese Allen and Bobbie Malone (Wisconsin Historical Society Press)

25. Multicultural – Picture Book
Gold: I Came From the Water: One Haitian Boy’s Incredible Tale of Survival, by Anita Oelschlager; illustrated by Mike Blanc (VanitaBooks)
Silver (tie): The Unfortunate Tale of Kachuva the Tortoise (As Told by Chukwa Sulcata), by Reshma Sapre; illustrated by Jayme Robinson (Hathi Chiti Books for Kids) and The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World, by Shahrukh Husain; illustrated by Micha Archer (Barefoot Books)
Bronze: Ojibway Clans: Animal Totems and Spirits, written and illustrated by Mark Anthony Jacobson (Native Northwest)

26. Multicultural Non-Fiction – Young Adult
Gold: Raven Finds the Daylight and other American Indian Stories, by Paul M. Levitt & Ellisa S. Guralnick; illustrated by Carolynn Roche (Clear Light Publishing)
Silver: Where We Once Gathered: Lost Synagogues of Europe, written and illustrated by Andrea Strongwater (Eifrig Publishing)
Bronze: The Story of Mexico: The Mexican-American War, by
R. Conrad Stein (Morgan Reynolds Publishing)

27. Comic/Graphic Novel
Chillax! How Ernie Learns to Chill Out, Relax, and Take Charge of His Anger, by Marcella Marino Craver; illustrated by Amerigo Pinelli (Magination Press/American Psychological Association)
Silver: Egghead (An Aldo Zelnick Comic Novel), by Karla Oceanak;  illustrated by Kendra Spanjer (Bailiwick Press)
Bronze: Rudyard Kipling’s How the Elephant Got His Trunk: The Graphic Novel, by
Blake A. Hoena; illustrated by Pedro Rodriguez (Stone Arch Books/Capstone)

28. Religion/Spirituality
Gold: I Want You to Know the Wonder of God, by Kirk Jackson; illustrated by Gwynne Simmons (Going Home Stories)
Silver (tie): Beliefs & Religions Around the World, by Judy Kirton; illustrated by Val Lawton (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing) and My First Sikh Booksby Parveen Kaur Dhillon; illustrated by Brian C. Krümm (Lohgarh Sikh Educational Foundation)
Bronze: My Whole Self Before You: A Child’s Prayer and Learning Guide Modeled after the Lord’s Prayer, by Susan Case Bonner (Kid Niche Publishing)

29. Holiday
Gold (tie):
 The Little Big Book of Christmas: Carols, Stories, Poems, Recipes, edited by Lena Tabori; designed by Timothy Shaner and Kristen Sasamoto (Welcome Books) and Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. Moore; illustrated by Elena Almazova & Vitaly Shvarov; edited by Santa Claus (Grafton and Scratch Publishers)
Silver (tie): Lucky: The Tale of a Tree, by Richard C. Hawkins; illustrated by Deb Hoeffner (Worldways Productions) and Visiting the Visitors, by Patrick “Packy” Mader; illustrated by Andrew Holmquist (Beaver’s Pond Press)
Bronze: Emma’s American Chinese New Year, by Amy Meadows; illustrated by Soon Kwong Teo (Outskirts Press)

30. Book with Merchandise (plush toy, etc.)
 The Fabulous Adventures of Olly Oogleberry: Mission to Save Earth (plush characters), by Lou Hughes; illustrated by Jonathan Ball (Tickle Me Silly)
Silver: Care for Our World (punch out play set, by Karen Robbins; illustrated by Alexandra Ball (Compendium Kids)
Bronze: Santa’s Glee (plush reindeer)by David and Catherine King (Indigo Beach House)

31. Spanish Language Book
 Júkiti-Túkiti-Tá (Hookitty-Tookitty-Tah), by Antonio Mugica; illustrated by Hermann Mejia (Multiple Personality Entertainment)
Silver: Hijito Pollito (Little Chick and Mommy Cat), byMarta Zafrilla; illustrated by Nora Hilb (Cuento de Luz)
Bronze: Comida sana de la A a la Z (Healthy Foods from A to Z), Edited by Stephanie Maze (Moonstone Press LLC)

32. Environmental Issues
Gold: 101 Ways to Save the Planet, by Deborah Underwood (Raintree/Capstone)
Silver: The Young Birder’s Guide to Birds of North America, by Bill Thompson III (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Bronze (tie): Relatives with Roots, written and illustrated by Leah Marie Dorion (Gabriel Dumont Institute) and Moon Over Bioko: Sea Turtles of Bioko Island, by Heidi Rader; illustrated by Holly Smith (Wildlife Conservation Publishers)

33. Health Issues
Gold: Grandpa Monty’s Muddles, by Marta Zafrilla; illustrated by Miguel Angel Diez (Cuento de Luz)
Silver (tie): The Secrets to Quieting Butterflies, by Susie Baretz; illustrated by Amy J. Wulfing (Maple Leaf Center) and The Gathering Tree, by Larry Loyie with Constance Brissenden; illustrated by Heather D. Holmlund (Theytus Books)
Bronze (tie): Eartha Gets Well, by Kristi Falk and Dr. Daniel Falk; illustrated by Rob Peters (Boutique of Quality Books) and When Billy Went Bald, by Julie C. Morse with Greg Mikrut; illustrated by Alexandra Higgins (Skyscraper Press/Windy City Publishers)

34. Mind-Body-Spirit/Self-Esteem
Gold: Knees: The Mixed-Up World of a Boy with Dyslexia, by Vanita Oelschlager; illustrated by Joe Rossi (VanitaBooks)
Silver: The Hero In Me, by Susan Fitzsimonds; illustrated by Jeff Covieo (Nelson Publishing & Marketing)
Bronze (tie): Bee Yourself, by Kerry Sather; illustrated by David Mark (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing) and And Still They Bloom: A Family’s Journey of Loss and Healing, by Amy Rovere; illustrated by Joel Spector (American Cancer Society)

35. Reading Skills/Literacy
 Adventures of Dingding and Damien, by Tim Gourdon and Xiaokang Zhou (Peking University Press)
Silver: I See the World (Yo veo el mundo), by Tom Luna; illustrated by Christina Song (Lectura Books)
Bronze: Queen Infinity, by L. Kobie Wilkerson; illustrated by Aaron J. Ratzlaff (Love II Learn)

36. Best First Book – Picture Book
Gold: The Ice Cream Hotel, by Jack Johnston; illustrated by Annette Cable (Norwen Publications)
Silver: My Grama’s Garden, by Pat Drummond; illustrated by Denise Drummond (
Bronze: Bernice, by Rob Adamowski; illustrated by Kellee Beaudry (OctiRam Publishing)

37. Best First Book – Chapter Book
Gold: Grounded for Good, by Dawn Daria (Flow Circus Press)
Silver: Pig & Toad: Best Friends Forever, byDayle Quigley; illustrated by Sara Weingartner (Beaver’s Pond Press)
Bronze: Missing: Mrs Cornblossom, by Colleen Anderson (Quarrier Press)

38. Best Illustrator
Gold: Enrique Quevedo, for The Great Magician of the World (El Gran Mago del Mundo),by Fran Nuño (Cuento de Luz)
Silver (tie): Rebecca Harrison Reed, for Only Cows Allowed! by Lynn Plourde (Down East Books) and S.D. Nelson, for Greet the Dawn: The Lakota Way, by S. D. Nelson (South Dakota State Historical Society Press)
Bronze: Yuko Green, for Tales of Tūtū Nēnē and Nele, by Gale Bates (Island Heritage Publishing)

39. Best Book by Youth Author (under 18)
Gold: Freddie Loses His Game (Freddie and Friends #1), written and illustrated by Dorian Clay (ARIVA Publishing)
Silver: Ava (The Dream Rings Series #1), byHanna Hoffmeister (Buttonwood Press)
Bronze: Wacko Academy (Wacko Academy Series #1),by Faith Wilkins (Arundel Publishing)
Moonbeam Spirit Awards – For dedication to children’s books and literacy and for inspired writing, illustrating and publishing. This year we chose five books in five different areas. All recipients will receive gold medals.
Mentoring: Your Stories, Volume 1, selected and edited by Taylor S. Joseph (Four Star Publishing)

Peacemaking: The Sky of Afghanistan, by Ana Eulate; illustrated by Sonja Wimmer (Cuento de Luz)

Imagination: Pirate & Hoopoe, by Diarmid Cammell; illustrated by Karima Cammell (Dromedary Press)

Preservation: Saint George & the Dragon,by Jim Forest; illustrated by Vladislav Andrejev (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press)

Compassion: Operation Marriage,by Cynthia Chin-Lee; illustrated by Lea Lyon (Reach and Teach)

1 Comment

Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized


Askari wins bronze medal at Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards



I’m thrilled to be headed to Traverse City, MI to accept my third place award! What a great honor!


Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


Guest Blog from Death Drop author Sean Allen

Writing, Criticism, and Honest Words

August 31, 2012 in The D-Evolution

As far back as I can remember I’ve always been one of those “I don’t care what you think about me” types. I did what I thought was cool and if folks didn’t like it, that was just too damn bad. Well, all that changed when I published Death Drop. Suddenly, I was reading critiques about my book from complete strangers, and I found myself on this weird emotional roller coaster that, as far as I was concerned, was not my style. Compliments about great action and well-developed characters had me grinning like a crazy person (and turning my wife into one of those bobble head dolls from continuous head shaking) one day, and quips about heavy-handed description had me slumping on the couch, eating buckets of chocolate ice cream and watching Lord of The Rings for the 600th time the next.

Why this sudden sensitivity to what others think? Because over the course of writing the book I became attached to the characters and their struggles. I’m not a parent, but I can imagine that publishing your first book and then hearing that it sucked is like sending your child off to school for the first time and then receiving a call from the principal saying that little Jonny is the spawn of satan and should never be allowed around other children. After a couple of consecutive low-rated reviews, instead of heading for Middle Earth via my remote, I Googled some of my favorite authors to see if I could glean some wisdom. It was kismet that led me to this little gem from one of the authors that I look up to most in the speculative fiction world.

“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it the best you can. I’m not sure there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”                      —Neil Gaiman

I love this. It appeals to my rebellious side, while providing comfort against poor opinions of my work (which I know is bound to happen, but I don’t think I’ll ever reach a point where it doesn’t bother me at all). I found myself asking, “Did you write your story honestly, and did you tell it the best you could at the time you wrote it?” And my answers were and always will be a resounding “YES!” This quote now resides in the little notebook I carry with me for writing down any authorial epiphanies that come to mind, and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it many times over the years to come, not just for writing but for everything I endeavor to accomplish. I don’t think you can really go wrong with doing everything honestly and the best you can. It’s simple advice, and I find that more often than not, that’s the best kind. Thanks, Mr. Gaiman!




Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Uncategorized


Askari is a local best-seller!




Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


Verisimilitude and Escapism

My debut novel Askari has been out for nearly a month and the reviews are starting to trickle in. I am pleased to find that my book has been well-received by my readers, yet the inevitable questions are beginning to arise. Who are the inspirations for the characters? Do the places in Muralia really exist? And my personal favorite: Am I a devil-worshipper because I write fantasy? Really?

I write fantasy for the same reason that I read it – escapism. It is the same with all fiction, whether it’s fantasy, romance or mystery…readers want a sense of transportation into something or somewhere other than where they are. It’s fiction. However, it has to be believable fiction or it won’t capture the imagination of readers. 

Verisimilitude is defined as having the appearance of truth. Characters have to be believable, situations have to appear as realistic as possible or they ring hollow and readers have to be able to see, smell and feel where the author has placed them or they’ll put the book down and rent a movie. However, there are dangers inherent to creating lifelike characters and situations…sometimes readers think that they’re actually real.

Like most authors, I am first an observer. I try to see everything and note what makes something interesting or memorable. People are wonderful because they have so many facets to their personalities. There are the physical characteristics that make individuals unique, then there are the quirks, turns of phrase, voice inflection and gestures that stick in my memories. To be immortalized in the written word can be a blessing or a curse and I wouldn’t be the first spiteful author to have taken such liberties with folks who have annoyed me or had a significant impact on my life.

I have to be honest, there are a few characters in Askari that are modeled after certain individuals. Cedron, my hero, is modeled after my oldest son Dale. Others who have made an impact on characters were a friend from my time as an exchange student in Germany, one of my Marine Corps drill instructors and an exceedingly annoying professor from college. Otherwise, characters have been created using images from magazines or loosely fashioned after people I’ve known or imagined with no conscious efforts at recreating anyone intentionally.

The land of Muralia, as far as the book has explored in this first novel, is very similar to the Pacific Northwest where I’ve lived most of my life. It’s beautiful here – mountains, streams, ocean, plains. We have it all and it makes for an impressive locale for any armchair adventure. My day hiking in the Ape Caves near Mount Saint Helens inspired one chapter significantly…coupled with my love of skiing and the idea that surfing and snowboarding should be as fun as they look.As a SCUBA diver, I’ve encountered amazing creatures in the deep that have made it into my writing.

Again, it’s all about creating a venue for escape that has the appearance of realism. Magic and mystery can transport us from the challenges or boredom of our everyday lives, but they have to appear plausible. Because I write fantasy, about magic and demons, does that make me a devil-worshipper? Sorry, it’s hard not to grin here. I have researched a lot of Wiccan tradition, satanic rituals and read a lot on paranormal activity, magic and mythologies in order to represent these things with verisimilitude. Despite the risk of offending my readers whose faith may be challenged by my work, please remember one thing: it’s fiction! 

Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass was a cautionary tale for me. In his trilogy, His Dark Materials, of which The Golden Compass was the first book, the heroes effectively kill God. This book had the appearance of a criticism of Christian theology…Catholicism in particular. The movie sparked a movement among the churches of our nation to boycott the film as a result of the theme. It was very important to me not to offend anyone in the creation of what I hoped would be pure reading enjoyment. I created deities from polytheistic traditions and creations myths from around the world so that they would ring authentic without appearing to challenge the validity of any one religion or faith. My personal beliefs have no bearing on or in my writing.

Dear readers, I am not a satanist or pagan nor do I feel the need to have my beliefs labeled. They aren’t relevant. Again, it’s fantasy…fiction…pure escapist enjoyment. Besides, I haven’t sacrificed a virgin in my back yard in years.


1 Comment

Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Uncategorized