Marit Menzin – Guest Illustrator/Author

Today we have Marit Menzin who is an illustrator and author of young adult books. Marit stopped by to answer a few of my questions and discuss her latest book, Song for Papa Crow.

When did you first decide you wanted to write?
Once I learned how to read, I couldn’t stop reading. So, the seed of wanting to become a writer was planted when I began reading books written by classic authors, such as Lucy Maud Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and Emily Brontë.

What is your favorite genre to write and why?
My favorite genre to write is picture books for children. In college, I majored in biology and chemistry. Later on, I studied computers and worked as a programmer. I view a picture book like a chemical equation, or like a program; a chemical equation has to be balanced. In a picture book, the text and the illustrations must complement each other well. A computer program has in its beginning a definition of constants and variables. A picture book has in its beginning a definition of the main characters, a setting, and a problem/conflict that the main character struggles with. The functions in the middle of the program are supposed to achieve its goal; whereas in a picture book, the protagonist tries to overcome his obstacles. The tension builds up to a climax and, finally, the protagonist solves his problem, and the story concludes with a satisfying reader-friendly ending.

Please tell us about your upcoming book.
Song for Papa Crow is a fiction picture book that I both wrote and illustrated for pre-K to 2nd grade aged readers. This is a story about a young crow who loves to sing, but the singing birds tease him for his raspy voice. With the help of Mockingbird, the bird’s idol who comes to visit the town, Little Crow becomes the best singer in the choir. But with his new singing voice, when danger strikes, Little Crow loses the most important thing – his father’s support.

My story concludes with fun facts about North American birds, and their sounds. I gathered many interesting as well as bizarre facts about birds to stimulate the young minds’ intellectual curiosity.

I have a little confession to make: Song for papa Crow is a book about diversity. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to write a multi-level story. When I found out that the crow often mates for life, and it takes care of its offspring longer than any other animals do, I had to write this book, thinking that just like Little Crow, every child is special and unique, and every child should be comfortable being himself without being afraid!

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely imagination?
My book is based purely on my imagination.

How did you come up with the cover?
I’m a collage artist. I designed the cover myself and illustrated the main characters of my book.

When and where will your new book be available?
My book was recently released for world-wide distribution. It is available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and many other stores.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve written about so far?
My favorite character is Papa Crow because he’s loyal and caring.

Does the character reflect on anyone you know?
Papa Crow should be a role model to all parents. It is amazing to me that crows take care of their offspring longer than any other animal, and even longer than some humans. Papa Crow reflects on the great fathers everywhere who take amazing care of their children.

If you could meet one character from a novel, who would it be and why?
I recently read the book “Timeless” by Alexandra Mounir. I would like to meet the main character, Michele Windsor, and travel with her to New York City in 1910.

Who is your favorite author?
How can I answer this question? There are so many authors that I admire! Since I have to choose, I will mention two authors who are also Illustrators — Maurice Sendak and Chris Van Allsburg. The reason that I chose them is that their books are like magic in action!

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read as many books as you can. Join a writer’s critique group. Create a space at home that is only yours. Make the time to write and to revise. For me, every morning, as I wake up, I read my book and I revise it. Then, at night, I read my story again and I revise it even more.

Spaghetti or Lasagna and why?
Another difficult question! Well, in my family, spaghetti is the common denominator that we all agree upon.

Anything you’d like to share with your readers and fans?
My second favorite genre to write is paranormal for young adults.

You can learn more about Marit and her books at her Amazon Author page.  And be sure to check out her outstanding illustrations on her website. I’d like to thank Marit again for stopping by my blog.

Jerri Drennen – Guest Author

Today I’d like to welcome a good friend and author to my blog, Jerri Drennen has agreed to answer a few of my questions and discuss her book, Dark Moon’s Magic.

About Dark Moon Magic…
Practicing wiccan Regina Moon is starting over in the tiny town of Groves, Arkansas, hoping her New Age shop will succeed despite her friends’ objections. A ritual-type killing of a local man transforms the quiet little community into 1692 Salem, with all eyes on her, and has the sheriff, Trace Langston not only trying to solve a murder but disbanding a mob of angry townspeople hell-bent on burning her at the stake. In all the upheaval, a cold case, sealed within a circle, is unearthed and an evil no one knew existed revealed.

Now let’s get to the questions…
When did you first decide you wanted to write?
It was about 12 years ago when my youngest daughter was 3. I was home all day with kids and needed something to keep me from going crazy. The first book was 400 plus pages of fan fiction about a boy band member, total crap, but it gave me the writing bug.

What is your favorite genre to write and why?
Romantic suspense. I love to throw characters into a perilous situation and see how they manage to overcome while falling in love.

Please tell us about your upcoming book.
Dark Moon Magic is about a practicing Wiccan, who moves to a small town to get away from an ex-lover she hiding from. Almost immediately strange things start happening. Dead birds, a rock being thrown through her window, and then a neighbor is found murdered and evidence at the scene point to her.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely imagination?
I tell you, I got this idea from when all those dead birds were found down in Arkansas and no one knew what happened to them.

How did you come up with the cover?
I was going through stock art pictures and found these. They fit the story so well and the most talented cover artist of all time, Elaina Lee, put them all together.

When and where will your new book be available?
Right now it’s only available on Amazon Kindle. I will have it in print soon.

Do you have a favorite character you’ve written about so far?
Yes. Nicholas Trent from my book Agent in Training. I think he’s my youngest hero, has the smartest mouth, yet I totally love the man.

If you could meet one character from a novel, who would it be and why?
This one is easy. That would be Rob Mackenzie from Laurie Breton’s, Coming Home. Read the book and you’ll know why.

Who is your favorite author?
Right now it’s Laurie Breton.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Just keep honing your craft. I’m still learning and I’ve been at this for a long time.

Spaghetti or Lasagna and why?
I love them both, but I’d have to say Lasagna is my favorite.

Anything you’d like to share with your readers and fans?
Just that if you read and like an author’s book you should give them a review or comment on their website. You have no idea how much that means to a writer.

About Jerri Drennen…
Jerri Drennen was raised on a farm in a tiny town in Minnesota where the winters were long and being stuck inside awarded her the opportunity to read and tell stories. Years later, after moving away from family, marrying her husband of now twenty-five years and having their four children, she started writing when her youngest was three. Eleven years and many manuscripts later, she has one contemporary romance and three romantic suspense novellas with Samhain Publishing, a category romantic suspense at The Wild Rose Press and two action-adventure romances at Liquid Silver Books. Now, she’s trying her hand at self-publishing.

You can learn more about Jerri’s books on Amazon. See her Amazon Author page.

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