Growing Bookworms – Meet children’s book author, Darlene Foster, and learn about her Amanda travel series and a review #childrensfiction #bookreview #growingbookworms

Today, I am delighted to introduce Darlene Foster, author of the Amanda travel series of books for children aged 9 to 12 years old. I have read several of the Amanda books and enjoyed them all.

Your Amanda stories appeal to me as they take me back to my own childhood readings days of The Famous Five and Adventure series. Was there any particular children’s author who influenced the style of your Amanda series?

That makes me very happy to hear this since the Enid Blyton books were very popular. I didn’t read the Famous Five series growing up in Canada, but I enjoyed The Bobbsey Twins by Laura Lee Hope as they travelled to interesting places, encountered danger and solved mysteries. I also enjoyed Trixie Belden, Donna Parker, and Nancy Drew because the main character in each series is a young girl who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries. The author who influenced me the most was Lucy Maude Montgomery. She created a character I totally admired. Anne Shirley is spunky, caring, positive and resourceful. Her relationship with her best friend, Diana Barry, is described incredibly well, as is the setting in the charming province of Prince Edward Island.

Are the characters of Amanda and Leah based on any particular person or people?

Amanda is the twelve-year-old me I would have liked to have been. I felt my life was boring living on a farm and dreamt of travelling the world. So there is a bit of little me in Amanda. The great thing about being a writer is that you can recreate your childhood and be whoever you want to be! Leah is a combination of some of my closest friends as well as a dear aunt who is my age. Leah is Amanda’s, Diana Barry.

When you visit schools and chat to the children, how do they react to the travel element of the Amanda books? Do they find it exciting and exotic or do some find it scary and overwhelming?

I am always amazed at how many of the students have done a lot of travelling already. One of my first questions at a school presentation is, “How many of you have travelled to other countries?” There is always a sea of hands. Then I ask if they have been to the country in my most recent book. There are usually some who have travelled there. The classrooms are very diverse these days and many of the students were born in a country other than Canada or the US. The international schools I visit in Spain contain students from all over the world. Children are much more well travelled these days for various reasons. They always suggest I write a book that takes place in their or their parents’ original country. I would say that most children today relate to the travel element of my books. If they haven’t been to the countries I’ve written about, they plan to visit them someday.

What comes first, the setting, characters, or the plot idea?

For me, the setting always comes first. I choose a place that I find intriguing and go from there. The two main characters, Amanda and Leah are always the same, but I have fun coming up with a few new ones for each story.  The plot is the last thing I work on and the part I find the most difficult at times. It usually evolves as I write the story.

What are your goals for the Amanda series? Are you planning to make it a long-term series like The Famous Five?

As long as people continue to want to read these books, I plan to continue writing them. There are so many more places Amanda could visit. I’m currently working on book number ten, Amanda in Scotland: The Standing Stones.  There are twenty-one Famous Five books; I’m not sure I’ll write that many but you never know!

Books for children are harder to market than books for adults. How do you go about marketing your books and what works best for you?

This is true. Word of mouth is always the best; getting the books in the hands of children is vital so they can spread the word. Visiting schools, libraries, and book stores is effective but not always possible. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing virtual visits to schools all over the world. This has been great for getting the students, teachers and school librarians to know about my books. I have learned that I need to market the books to adults as well since they are the ones who actually purchase the books and write the reviews. Being part of a blogging community has worked well for me as everyone is so supportive and helpful in getting the word out about my books. I have also learned a lot from other bloggers/writers. Marketing is ongoing, and there is a huge learning curve.

Thank you, Robbie, for the opportunity to talk about my books and writing in general.

You are a delightful guest, Darlene, and I am thrilled to host you here and discuss your books.

My review of Amanda in France

Amanda in France is the latest in the adventure series of books by Darlene Foster. I have read several of the books in this series, and enjoyed them all. The author has a marvelous way of integrating historical and environmental landmarks into her works in a natural and interesting way that is appealing to young readers.

Amanda and Leah are fortunate enough to accompany Aunt Jenny to Paris, France. Paris is a fascinating location and Amanda is completely bowled over by the sights, sounds, and foods on offer. The threesome are staying in a dormitory attached to the Shakespeare and Company book store, where they will work a couple of hours each day. Amanda, a great lover of books, is delighted and can’t wait to share her book knowledge and enthusiasm with others and promote reading.

Naturally, the girls meet a wide spectrum of new people, including the fascinating but mysterious, Phillipe Lawrence, an older man who is doing research for a book; Jerome, a young man who has become involved with some dodgy friends; and Pierre, who works at the Paris Opera House.

The new characters and fabulous sites set the stage for another exciting and interesting Amanda adventure that includes their visiting famous gardens, graveyards, and helping to save works of art during the fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Congratulations to the author on another exciting and well written adventure story.

Purchase Darlene Foster’s books

Darlene Foster’s Amazon Author page

Amazon UK

About Darlene Foster

Growing up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada, Darlene Foster dreamt of writing, traveling the world, and meeting interesting people. She also believed in making her dreams come true. It’s no surprise she’s now the award-winning author of Amanda Travels, a children’s adventure series featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places. Readers of all ages enjoy following Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another. When not traveling herself, Darlene divides her time between the west coast of Canada and the Costa Blanca, Spain with her husband and entertaining rescue dogs, Dot and Lia. www.darlenefoster.ca

Darlene has a blog where she shares here stories and adventures here: https://darlenefoster.wordpress.com/

About Robbie Cheadle

Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.

Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.

The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews. https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/


Growing Bookworms – Teaching children about nature and conservation

Teaching our children about the natural environment and conservation is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. There are a few good ways of making sharing about nature and conservation with children, as follows:

  1. Reading books about nature with your child;
  2. Exploring nature with your child;
  3. Art and play; and
  4. Watching documentaries

Reading

There are a number of wonderful children’s books that subtly teach children about the wonders of nature. One is The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett when Dicken shows Mary how to care for the locked garden and plant new flowers. Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson is another. Set along the Amazon River in Brazil, this book has a strong theme about the importance of nature to the human spirit. A few other wonderful children’s books about animals are White Fang by Jack London, The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford, Charlotte’s Webb by E.B. White, Jock of the Bushveld by Sir James Percy FitzPatrick, and The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling.

This is the song, The Bare Necessities, from Disney’s The Jungle Book, when Baloo, the Sloth Bear, meets Mowgli, the human boy.

There are also some excellent non-fiction books that explain a lot about nature. One of my favourites is Nature Cross-Sections by Richard Orr which includes wonderful picture spreads of cross-sections of, amongst others, a beehive, a tide pool, a termite mound, and a beaver lodge.

This is a cross-section of a beehive from Richard Orr’s Nature Cross-Sections. I referred to this picture when I wrote a piece of my book, Through the Nethergate, about a queen bee and the workings of a beehive.

The Disney Mickey Wonders Why series is also terrific for young children. Laid out as a series of questions such as Why is the sky blue? and Why is the grass green? these books include comprehensive, yet simple, answers and lovely illustrations. You can find the Micky Wonders Why series on Amazon as a set of books or as single books.

Do you have any wonderful books for children about nature that you can recommend?

Exploring nature

There are numerous ways to explore nature and its bounty with your child from nature walks to visiting places of interest like aquariums, bunny parks, and game reserves.

Cooking or baking with your child is also a wonderful way of teaching your child about natures bounty and the products the animal kingdom contributes to our lives including eggs and fresh milk. I was surprised to discover that some city children don’t know that milk and other dairy products generally come from cows.

Art and play

When my sons were younger, we used to play games that included animals. We built a game reserve in the sand pit and set out all the toy animals. We learned about the natural habitat of different animals and that some animals live in rocky terrain, some in savannah areas and some in the forest. We created the right habitat using pot plants and garden rocks and put the correct animals in the correct areas. We also played a water game with a large plastic shell full of water, rocks and a few plants. The water animals lived in the pond. Small children love playing in sand and water and it has many benefits for them. It was amazing how the boys and their friends learned to work together with these games.

I also did a lot of art with my children. We made a swamp from an old cardboard box, paper and paint and learned about the animals that live in a swamp including, of course, Shrek and Fiona. We made centipedes from parts of egg boxes and pipe cleaners and built a volcano from paper mache. When it comes to art, the options are limitless for learning and lots of tactile fun.

Watching documentaries

There are numerous amazing documentaries available that parents can watch with their children. It is always fun to discuss the details of these shows with children afterwards and explore and develop their thoughts and impressions from the information and visuals provided.

Conservation

It is not enough just to talk about conservation, you have to lead by example and demonstrate through your own choices and actions the importance of helping the planet and all its creatures and forms of life to thrive. I will expand on conservation and leading by example in a future post.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with thirteen children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have recently introduced the first book in the Sir Chocolate holidays and high days book series. Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas harp is available on Kindle Unlimited and as an ebook and paperback from Amazon. This series is illustrated with Robbie Cheadle’s gorgeous cake and fondant artwork and includes themed activities and recipes for adults to make with children.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is also beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines as well as one micro read with a Christmas theme.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com/, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to embrace learning, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com/ called Dark Origins: Nursery Rhymes and Fairy Stories.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – Some wonderful Christmas books for Children #readingcommunity #childrensfiction #growingbookworms

Christmas is fast approaching and this year’s will be the first normal Christmas many of us will be experiencing since 2019.

Last year, South Africa had an outbreak of Covid-19 round about now and we all went back into hibernation. My cousin and his family were here from the UK and they got trapped for an extra 2 1/2 weeks because of the quarantine requirements in the UK.

We are looking forward to a lovely family Christmas this Saturday before my family and my mom leave for the UK for just over two weeks. We are looking forward to seeing our extended family for the first time in three years.

The run up to Christmas is a wonderful time to read books with your children. There are numerous books that celebrate the Christmas story and also a significant number of books that share the message of kindness and sharing without any specific religious affiliation.

These are a few of my favourite Christmas stories and I’ve slipped in my own two newly released Christmas books for children at the end. These books are my first attempts at publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing and I am pleased with how they’ve turned out.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss

What Amazon says

The timeless Christmas classic from the iconic Dr. Seuss is now available in ebook. Read this favourite story of joy, love and acceptance anytime, anywhere!

(This ebook is optimised for Kindle tablets and the Kindle App. It is not suitable for e-Ink kindle devices, such as the PaperWhite. We recommend you download a sample to your device before purchase if in doubt.)

“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason…”

With a heart two sizes too small, the Grinch is the meanest creature you’ll ever meet. He hates Christmas and the whole festive season. But when he hatches a dastardly plot to steal Christmas, he’s in for a big surprise!

This classic seasonal story has become a favourite for good reason. Through hilarious rhymes and beautiful illustrations, Dr. Seuss teaches readers the true meaning of Christmas.

With his unique combination of hilarious stories, zany pictures and riotous rhymes, Dr. Seuss has been delighting young children and helping them learn to read for over fifty years. Creator of the wonderfully anarchic Cat in the Hat, and ranked among the UK’s top ten favourite children’s authors, Dr. Seuss is a global best-seller, with over half a billion books sold worldwide.

A few quotes

“Packed it up with their presents, their ribbons, their wrappings, Their snoof and their fuzzles, their tringlers and trappings! Ten thousand feet up, up the side of Mount Crumpet, He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!”

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Purchase How the Grinch Stole Christmas here: https://www.amazon.com/How-Grinch-Stole-Christmas-Seuss-ebook/dp/B077BM5NVM

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

What Amazon says

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”

Late one Christmas Eve after the town has gone to sleep, the boy boards the mysterious train that waits for him: the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives, Santa offers the boy any gift he desires. The boy modestly asks for one bell from the harness of the reindeer. The gift is granted. On the way home the bell is lost. On Christmas morning, the boy finds the bell under the tree. The mother of the boy admires the bell, but laments that it is broken—for you see, only believers can hear the sound of the bell.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, ‘The Polar Express ‘has sold more than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, and been translated into stage productions that take place across the United States during the holiday season.

Purchase The Polar Express here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0395389496

Mr. Men and Little Miss Christmas Books by Roger Hargreaves

Roger Hargreaves has an array of different books in the Mr. Men and Little Miss series of illustrated books for children. Among his many amazing books, he has a few dedicated to Christmas.

https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Christmas-Men-Little-Miss-ebook/dp/B00AEBCTG8

One day Mr. Christmas receives a call from his uncle, Santa Claus, asking for help. Can Mr. Christmas help Santa deliver presents to all of the Mr. Men?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HQLB7AI

Mr. Stingy is a stingy old miser who hates Christmas. But one night he is visited by three ghosts who show him that heÕs been living his life badly and needs to mend his ways! In this lighthearted adaptation of DickensÕs A Christmas Carol, Mr. Happy plays Bob Cratchit and Mr. Nosey, Little Miss Wise, and Little Miss Bossy play the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O2BS3LQ

Little Miss Christmas spends all year wrapping presents for Santa Claus. But when the wrapping isn?t done in time, Little Miss Christmas has to call on her Mr. Men and Little Miss friends to help out!

The Christmas Bird by Robbie Cheadle

The Deanne family is having a difficult time financially. Mr. Deanne’s business has failed and there is no money for Christmas presents and other luxuries. The family’s undernourished dogs discover a bird’s nest on Christmas Day and attack and kill the chicks. All except one tiny ball of fluff with luminous bright eyes like drops of oil. The baby bird is in shock, but the four Deanne girls try to save it. Will the Christmas Bird survive?

Purchase The Christmas Bird here: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Bird-Robbie-Cheadle-ebook/dp/B0BMMB2H75

Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas Harp

The Christmas Fairy’s harp has gone missing. Without it, the parents and children won’t sleep on Christmas Eve and Santa can’t deliver Christmas presents. Can Sir Chocolate help Santa find the missing harp and save Christmas?
Includes five fun related limericks and five Christmas themed creative activities and recipes that caregivers can make with small children.

Purchase Sir Chocolate and the Missing Christmas Harp here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BNHX8XGC

I made a video for this book and I would be delighted if you would view it and let me know what you think of it here:

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing Bookworms – The importance of colour when illustrating children’s books #childrensfiction #readingcommunity #growingbookworms

Many children’s picture books make use of brightly coloured cartoon style illustrations. Children are attracted to  bright colors such as red, yellow, green, blue, and pink. These colors create a sense of energy and playfulness and also emanate happiness. Colour impacts on children’s moods, behaviour, and educational performance.

Part of the reason children prefer bright colours is because saturated colours are easier for young, developing eyes to see. Bright colors and contrasting colors stand out more in a child’s field of vision than feinter shades.

Colour effects the way the brain functions and can be used by illustrators to encourage pattern recognition, memory, and the ability of young readers to absorb new information.

Here are a few examples of colours and how they can be used for learning:

RED – a powerful and attention-grabbing colour, red stimulates alertness and excitement. It encourages creativity and can also increase appetite.

BLUE – provides a sense of comfort by exuding calmness, loyalty, peace, serenity, and security.

YELLOW – encourages positive feelings and improves concentration by promoting creativity, clarity, and optimism.

GREEN – symbolises nature and the natural world. Green relieves stress and provides a sense of healing. It also represents balance, growth, tranquillity, cleanliness and calmness.

ORANGE – like red, orange is an energetic colour that promotes alertness. Orange creates a sense of passion, warmth, excitement and encourages communication.

PINK –   symbolises love, romance, nurture, warmth, calmness, and imagination.

It is also important for illustrators, or writers engaging an illustrator, to note that colours can also overstimulate children, instead of inspiring them, so a balance of bright and neutral colours is required for illustrations.

I illustrate my own children’s books and I try to apply these principles in my own work. This is a collage of a selection of my fondant and cake art illustrations.

My illustrations have proved popular with children so I think I am getting the colour coding right.

These are some examples of famous children’s books and illustrators:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon US

What do you think? Do you like bright colours? Have you written a children’s book and illustrated it yourself or engaged an illustrator? Let me know in the comments.

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour

Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour

For Day 5 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Haloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour, we’re over at “Zigler’s News” with a guest post from Robbie Cheadle​ and a review by Tori Zigler​. Come join us and don’t forget to comment to enter in the giveaway!

https://ziglernews.blogspot.com/2022/10/wordcrafters-book-blogtour-for-haunted.html


Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour

Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour

For Day 3 of the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour, we’re over at “Patty’s World”, with a guest post by author, Robbie Cheadle and a wonderful review from Patty Fletcher. Won’t you join us to learn more about this deliciously delectable children’s book by Robbie and Michael Cheadle.


Welcome to the WordCrafter “Haunted Halloween Holiday” Book Blog Tour

Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour

Welcome to the WordCrafter Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour, in celebration of this delightful new children’s Halloween adventure by Robbie and Michael Cheadle. This is going to be a wonderful tour with a guest post from author Robbie Cheadle and a review at every stop. Today will be a real treat with not one, but two tour stops, but you may comment on either stop here. Instead of making Robbie sit through another tedious interview, we will have each tour stop host ask her two questions, so you can learn more about her at every stop if you follow the tour, and she also has a great giveaway.

Tour Schedule

(Links won’t work until the post goes live.)

Monday – October 3 – Double Stop Day! – Guest Post & Review – Writing to be Read

– Guest Post & Review – Undawnted

Tuesday – October 4 – The Showers of Blessings

Wednesday – October 5 – Patty’s World

Thursday – October 6 – Carla Loves to Read

Friday – October 7 – Zigler’s News

Saturday – October 8 – Annette Rochel Aben

Give Away

For a chance to win one of three US$10 Amazon vouchers or one of three paperback copies of Haunted Halloween Holiday just leave a comment to show you were here.

Follow the tour and comment at each stop for more chances to win.

The prizes will be given away in a random drawing.

About Haunted Halloween Holiday

Count Sugular is delighted when the Sugarpop Bats invite his family to a Halloween party at the Haunted House. He and his wife, Witch Honey, decide to hire a caravan and enjoy a weekend away with their family.

Includes some fun limericks to introduce the various characters.

You can find the book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fr5OxyUfd4

Purchase links:

TSL Publications: https://tslbooks.uk/product/haunted-halloween-holiday-robbie-and-michael-cheadle/

Lulu.com: https://www.lulu.com/shop/michael-cheadle-and-robbie-cheadle/haunted-halloween-holiday/ebook/product-vd5778.html?page=1&pageSize=4

Robbie’s Questions

Question: You illustrate your children’s books with elaborate fondant scenes, with buildings and characters which are very detailed. How long does it take you to create a whole fondant scene for illustration in one of your stories?

Answer: The fondant and cake illustrations are time consuming. The amount of time required depends on the number of flowers and figurines I include and their complexity.

Each figurine takes, on average, between 4 and 5 hours to complete. I always start with the heads. Some of the figurines have detailed facial features including teeth, lip detail, and layered eyes and these take a lot of time and effort to make.

Hair is also time consuming, especially curly hair, as each strand is wound around a cocktail stick and allowed to partially dry before it can be attached to the head. Timing is important because if the fondant hair strand dries to much, it wont stick to the head.

My next step is usually the body and shoes, and that is followed by the arms and legs. Attaching arms and legs can be tricky as you have to keep them in the correct positions until they dry. Standing figurines are much more difficult to make than seated ones. The legs have to dry completely before you can attach the weight of the head and body to a standing figurine or the legs collapse.

Flowers are also made in layers. I start with the centres and leave them to firm up before adding the second layer of petals. Flowers are also tricky from a timing perspective as the petals must firm up enough to hold their shape but not dry so much they crack or break.

From a cake perspective, sponge cake assembly is not that difficult for me. The carving and assembly of shaped cakes isn’t that difficult if you have an eye for proportions which I do.

The gingerbread caravan that features in Haunted Halloween Holiday was difficult to make because I had to bend the gingerbread to make it harden in a curved shape. I did have to make adaptions to my initial plan and I created the sides and top of the caravan in two parts instead of one as I’d originally planned. I did have to redo that piece of gingerbread. You have to bend it while it is still hot but not so hot it collapses (or burns you) but before it starts to harden or it cracks. Another tricky timing situation.

The windmill was complex to make because of the blades which I made separately from fondant and attached to wooden kebab sticks. The entire bladed structure had to then be attached to the gingerbread windmill structure. It was a great challenge and I was delighted at how both of these structures came out.

Question: You have done many collaborations for anthologies, and you also co-wrote a book with your mother. Do you have more fun collaborating with your son Michael on the children’s books than you do with your adult collaborators on adult themed works? Why or why not?

Answer: The children’s books are fun to write and illustrate. The text for the Sir Chocolate and other children’s books is much less, 600 words or less for the Sir Chocolate picture books in line with the industry standard, than books for older children or adults.

My collaboration with Michael involves conversations and chats about characters and ideas for story lines as well as the illustrations. This makes the entire process fairly easy and companionable.

Writing While the Bombs Fell was a more difficult collaboration because I was writing my mother’s memories. I had to coax the memories from her, research the details and historical context of the time period and lay them over her personal timeline. It was an interesting and rewarding process and I learned a lot more about my mom’s early life and my own family.

There were some difficulties, especially around the structuring of the story and the fictionalised elements. My mom didn’t always agree when I filled gaps in her memory with information based on historical research to give the book a little more meat. In the end, we came to a meeting of minds and were both happy with the book. The difficulties with writing someone else’s memories is one of the reasons why the sequel, After the Bombs Fell, is not finished. My own writing process has changed and it’s more difficult for me to work with someone else now.

Thank you, Kaye, for these great questions and for hosting my post.

About the Authors

Michael Cheadle is a student at a high school in South Africa. His favourite subjects are IT, and History and he enjoys creative writing, especially writing poetry. In his spare time Michael enjoys computer games, boxing, tennis, and sleeping.

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugular and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

Robbie Cheadle Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

TSL Publications Robbie Cheadle Author Page: https://tslbooks.uk/product-tag/robbie-cheadle/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bakeandwrite

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SirChocolateBooks

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

My Review

Haunted Halloween Holiday is a ‘just a little scary but lots and lots of fun’ kind of story. Fans of the Sir Chocolate books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle will not be disappointed as the mother and son duo write and bake their way into reader’s hearts with this delightfully delicious story. Stuffed full of delectable fondant illustrations, highlighted with lovely rhyming verse to tell the story of an unique holiday celebration.

This book is a bit longer than previous Sir Chocolate formats, and contains less verse, but it’s a delightfully fun adventure to please readers both young and old. Who could resist all the colorful characters who attend this festive holiday party? Count Sugular; Baby Howler; Skelly the Skeleton; Teddy the posessed teddy bear; the Trolls – Tar and Liquorice; Toot, the clown who smiles upside; Witch Goody; and Jack Frost all help to make this Halloween celebration one to be remebered, and enjoyed over and over, every time you pick up the book.

I give Haunted Halloween Holiday five quills.

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That wraps up this stop on the WordCrafter Haunted Halloween Holiday Book Blog Tour, but be sure to drop in to Undawnted for another great review of the book. Join us tomorrow over at The Showers of Blessings, for another guest post by Robbie and a review by Miriam Hurdle.


Growing Bookworms – Interactive books for children – Part 2: Digital books

Last month, I discussed physical interactive books for children and their benefits. You can read this post here:

This month, I am sharing the pros and cons of digital interactive books for children.

Firstly, what is an interactive eBook?

An interactive eBook is an ebook that has elements with which the reader can directly interact. This type of ebook has a lot of touchpoints where the reader can interact with videos, audio recordings, links and other content.

I read several articles about the benefits of eBooks for children and the experts believe that reading print books to toddlers and small children results in a better reading experience for the child. Research shows that children and parents/caregivers interact more frequently with one another when they are reading a paperback book and turning pages, and the quality of their interactions are better. This translates into better language development, literacy and bonding with caregivers.

The above being said, there are benefits to eBooks. Enabling children to learn new words and improve their fine motor schools are two of the more obvious benefits. The ability to engage with the storyline and possibly make choices, teaches children to weigh up options and improves their decision making abilities.

For reluctant readers, animated sounds, actions and special effects in books makes them more interesting and helps develop an interest in books and reading.

For economically disadvantaged children or children in settings that do not allow for borrowing books from public libraries, eBooks are a cheaper option. Parents can accumulate a digital library for their children at a fraction of the cost of a physical book. eBooks are also a more environmental friendly option as they do not use as many natural resources.

Children whose parents work long or unusual hours and can’t read to their children, benefit from having stories read to them by a digital reader. eBooks also provide for parents to read to their children when they are not in the same location. Parents and children can synch their ipads or iphones so they can interact on their screen in real time while holding an audio conversation. This is beneficial for parents whose jobs involve travel.

The down side of eBooks in this context is that to many sounds, actions and special effects can distract the child from the story as they don’t focus on it, but rather on the interactive features. There is a concern among experts that many eBooks available commercially are targeted towards amusement and emphasis multimedia, colours, sounds and other interactions and do not encourage literacy and language development. Studies have concluded that multimedia elements that enhance an understanding of the text benefit children, while those that draw the child’s attention away from the story, are non-beneficial.

If you are interested in having a look at what is available for children in the eBook line, Amazon does stock them. Here is a link to one such book called Another Monster at the End of This Book…Starring Grover & Elmo! https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B7S5FDG. There are a number of interesting reviews for this particular book.

What do you think about eBooks? Have you tried them? Do you think they are the future of children’s books?

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.

Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com. where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVyFo_OJLPqFa9ZhHnCfHUA

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


Growing bookworms – Interactive books for children Part 1

Interactive books for children are those books that allow for active participation from, and interaction by, the child as part of the reading process. There are two categories of interactive books for children: those that incorporate modern technology and provide for digital participation by children, and those that are not digital.

Today, I’m going to chat about the non-digital interactive books for children. There are a myriad of non-digital interactive books for children, aimed at a variety of different age groups.

Touch and feel books are aimed at very young children. They are wonderful for helping children to associate their sense of touch with a word or words. For example, a picture of a duck could include soft, fluffy feathers and a picture of a tree could have rough bark. Most touch and feel books are very simple and only teach one word at a time. I had a few books like this for my sons when they were babies and very young toddlers and they loved them.

Interactive books for older toddlers and pre-school children include pull-tabs, flaps, pull-downs, and pop-up books. Pop up books work by literally popping up a 3-D picture when the child turns the page. These were hugely successful with my boys but I did have to teach them not to pull on the pop-ups and break them. I also had to teach them not to pull tabs, flaps, and pull-downs too hard, but they learned quickly and my instruction ensured they treated their physical books with respect.

This is a link to a pop-up Alice in Wonderland book on Amazon US. It’s not the same as the one I had for my sons but it looks equally fun: https://www.amazon.com/Alices-Adventures-Wonderland-Pop-up-Adaptation/dp/0689847432

Colouring books speak for themselves and allow children to colour in the pictures that relate to the stories. There are also sticker books that allow the child to dress the characters.

Usborne has an amazing selection of sticker books. You can find out more about them here: Amazon US Usborne sticker books

Hidden object books are those that hide various objects within pictures for the child to discover. These books are available for a variety of age groups, and my boys loved the Where’s Wally books.

This is the blurb of the Where’s Wally Amazing Adventures and Activities 8 Books Bag Collection Set: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Activities-Collection-Fntastic-Hollywood/dp/9123888113

Where’s Wally?:
The original book which kick-started the worldwide Wally phenomenon! Search for Wally and his friends as they hike round the world.

Where’s Wally Now?:
Wally and his friends travel through time in this second best-selling classic adventure. Search for them as they visit the Stone Age, Ancient Egypt, the Vikings …

The Fantastic Journey:
Hidden in every intricately-detailed scene are Wally and his friends – so let the hunt begin! Search for them in the land of the unfriendly giants, the watery world of the deep-sea divers.

Where’s Wally? In Hollywood:
Wally visits the land where dreams are made in this classic activity book! He meets directors and actors, walks through the crowds of extras, and sees behind the scenes.

Where’s Wally? In Outer Space:
Play tangle line teasers, find your way out of a space race maze, unscramble muddled up words, crack alien codes, match and spot the differences in busy picture puzzles.

Where’s Wally? At Sea:
Untangle fishing lines; solve a boat race riddle; match seaside silhouettes; track down pirate treasure on a map; join up words in a message in a bottle.

Where’s Wally? Across Lands:
Scale castle walls and ancient Aztec temples as you complete games, crack written riddles, get creative by drawing your own Egyptian city and doodling inside speech bubbles.

Where’s Wally? Takes Flight:
Work your way out of a busy airport runway maze; match up dragons to their race day medals; solve birdy word searches and visual snap; colour in a nighttime dragon scene.

My sons both spent hours pawing through these books.

The last type of interactive book I’m mentioning in this post are game books. These are middle school children’s books where each section ends with a decision. The child makes a choice and is directed to the next section on a specific page. I managed to obtain a big pile of the Choose Your Own Adventure books when I was a girl, and I absolutely loved them.

This is the link to the Choose Your Own Adventure series on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Alices-Adventures-Wonderland-Pop-up-Adaptation/dp/0689847432

What Amazon says: Widely commended for its appeal to reluctant readers, Choose Your Own Adventure is the 4th bestselling book series for children of all time. Written in the second-person, the reader is the hero of the story, and at the bottom of each page, there is a decision point: If you go in search of the yeti, turn to page 11. If you think it is safest to stay put and call for help, turn to page 25. By reading and choosing, kids become more engaged, making the Choose Your Own Adventure series a stealth reading program for reluctant readers.

About Robbie Cheadle

IMG_9902

Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with ten children’s books and two poetry books.

The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.

Robbie has also published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.

Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.

Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.

In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.

Robbie has a blog, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com where she shares book reviews, recipes, author interviews, and poetry.

Find Robbie Cheadle

Blog: https://www.robbiecheadle.co.za/

Blog: robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com

Twitter: BakeandWrite

Instagram: Robbie Cheadle – Instagram

Facebook: Sir Chocolate Books

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Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Growing Bookworms” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.


The Rewards of Running a Bird Sanctuary

Bird Skirmish at the Bird Sanctuary

I started watching the birds which visited my yard about fifteen years ago. My property is densely forested and the early morning chatter in the trees was difficult to ignore, so my gaze would naturally go up to the trees around me, and I was amazed at the number of different types of birds that were dropping by. So, I began to sit out in the yard to write on summer days, and that first summer, I kept a journal of the different birds that I saw,

When winter came around, I bought a bird feeder and some seed. I wasn’t sure how many birds were stick around during the cold months of Colorado winter, but I was pleased to learn that, although many birds migrated south for the winter, birds such as Chickadees, Nuthatches, and Blue Jays were year round residents and the Juncos appeared. When summer roles around, the winter birds clear out and various other species of birds take up summer residence or stop by on their way through.

I even have a group of resident Ravens, originally two pairs until one was taken out by a BB gun by a neighboring child. Now there are only three, but they are always around, and we talk back and forth to each other. (I don’t really speak Raven, but I fake it well.) Watching birds has brought me inspiration, and I have a whole children’s book series, in which the characters are birds and there is a moral lesson to each one, but I haven’t yet been able to publish it for lack of an illustrator. If you’re interested, you can read the story of how I had and lost both illustrator and publisher for the first book in the series, “Heather Hummingbird Makes a New Friend” here.

Little by little, I’ve added feeders and water features, provided habitat conducive to birds and wildlife. I now put out several types of seed feeders as well as suet feeders in the winter, and in the summer I add Hummingbird Feeders, as well as planting a variety of flowers, water features and bird baths in order to create a bird sanctuary. Over the years, I have viewed bird species in the double digit numbers: American Robins, Red Crossbills, Western Bluebirds, Western Tanangers, at least three different types of Hummingbirds, Juncos, Evening Grosbeaks, Cowbirds, Owls, Mountain Doves, Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-Shafted Flickers, I don’t know how many types of Sparrows and Finches, Gray-breasted Blue Jays, Red-tailed Hawks, and even Turkey Vultures. No matter what time of year, the birds who dip into my feeders always appreciate the plentiful bird seed and suet feeders that I put out, and they line up on the tree branches for their turn at the morning baths in the summer.

By this winter, word had gotten out and the bird sanctuary has become a busy place. I put out my Moultrie Digital Game Camera, which is motion activated, for a day and got thousands of photos of birds at one of the feeders. The feeder they are using is a birdbath in warm weather, but I filled it with Sunflower seeds during the cold spell we had recently, and it is obviously quite popular. Among the birds in the photos below are Evening Grosbeaks, Casin’s Finch and several small Sparrows at the feeder.

I get a lot of joy from watching the birds that visit my bird sanctuary. They are so much fun to watch as they wait their turn to grab a bite. Of course, at times they don’t wait. They just jump right in squawking and pecking to get their share whether it’s their turn or not, and mid-air skirmishes are not uncommon. Just the other day I watched as a Gray-breasted Blue Jay swooped in a broke off a very large piece of suet, then he turned to take off with it, making a quick get-away. The piece that he had in beak was so large that it weighed him down and he took an unexpected dive, almost to the ground, before catching himself and swooping off into the trees with his bounty. Blue Jays are known around here to be big bullies, so it was really kind of comical to watch as he struggled due to his own gluttony.

It is true that birds of a feather flock together, as Evening Grosbeaks swarm in on the feeders as a yellow and black mob, temporarily chasing off any little guys and interrupting their meal. The Blue Jays flock in too, but the Grosbeaks are the only ones who won’t back down from them. Juncos gang up on the ground, catching the seed others knock down from above. Birds like Mountain Chickadees, Nuthatches and American Robins, usually visit in smaller family groups, and the bird sanctuary has seen a lot of families raised, but even the Hairy Woodpeckers usually visit in pairs.

It’s been a busy place this winter, but I’m looking forward to the coming of spring and the arrival of a new batch of birds, especially the Hummingbirds, which never fail to keep things buzzing around the bird sanctuary. I always look forward to their spring greetings, as they actually come and say hello, hovering right in front of my face upon arrival as the weather warms. But Hummingbirds are a whole other post. If you’d like to hear about them, comment to let me know, and maybe I’ll write about them later in the year.

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Kaye Lynne Booth lives, works, and plays in the mountains of Colorado. With a dual emphasis M.F.A. in Creative Writing, writing is more than a passion. It’s a way of life. She’s a multi-genre author, who finds inspiration from the nature around her, and her love of the old west, and other odd and quirky things which might surprise you. She has short stories featured in the following anthologies: The Collapsar Directive (“If You’re Happy and You Know It”); Relationship Add Vice (“The Devil Made Her Do It”); Nightmareland (“The Haunting in Carol’s Woods”); Whispers of the Past (“The Woman in the Water”); and Spirits of the West (“Don’t Eat the Pickled Eggs”). Her western, Delilah, her paranormal mystery novella and her short story collection, Last Call, are all available in both digital and print editions.

In her spare time, she keeps up her author’s blog, Writing to be Read, where she posts reflections on her own writing, author interviews and book reviews, along with writing tips and inspirational posts from fellow writers. She’s also the founder of WordCrafter. In addition to creating her own imprint in WordCrafter Press, she offers quality author services, such as editing, social media & book promotion, and online writing courses through WordCrafter Quality Writing & Author Services. When not writing or editing, she is bird watching, or hiking, or just soaking up some of that Colorado sunshine.

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Sign up for the Kaye Lynne Booth & WordCrafter Press Newsletter for and book event news for WordCrafter Press books, including the awesome releases of author Kaye Lynne Booth. Get a free digital copy of Kaye Lynne Booth’s paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, just for subscribing.