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Category: children (Page 1 of 4)

Bumbling Bea – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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Deborah Baldwin

In Deborah Baldwin’s Bumbling Bea, Beatrice is an eighth-grade student who is excited to audition for the lead role in her school’s annual play, “John Smith and Pocahontas.” However, the new student, a girl from Japan named Michiko, lands the coveted role of Pocahontas, leaving Beatrice fuming. That’s when “Bumbling Bea,” her alter ego that makes her say and do mean things that she wouldn’t ordinarily do, appears. Beatrice and Michiko struggle to get along and settle their differences – especially when “Bumbling Bea” comes out to play.

Frankly, a lot of Beatrice’s behavior in Bumbling Bea is downright cringe-worthy, particularly when it comes to her brazen comments about Michiko and her Japanese heritage. There were many times where she toed the line between nervous babbling and unacceptable bullying, which was seldom addressed. That may not be the best way for the protagonist in a children’s novel to behave. Also, there were a few important themes that, although they could have been used to teach young readers valuable lessons, were barely touched upon in passing; these included divorce/parental separation, racism, and death. In some ways, not discussing these topics in more depth seemed a lot like Deborah Baldwin dropped the ball.

However, there are several aspects of Bumbling Bea that are wonderfully executed. One of these is the detailed introduction to theater that Deborah Baldwin provides for young readers. It serves nicely in giving children a new means of expressing themselves, one that is seldom focused on in children’s literature. Also, Bumbling Bea is a good tool to use to start a discussion with children about how their words have an impact on others. Bumbling Bea is off to a good start; however, if there are future sequels, perhaps Beatrice’s attitude should be readdressed.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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The Kingdom of Oceana – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Mitchell Charles

The Kingdom of Oceana by Mitchell Charles is an enchanting story that transports its readers to a mythological age of Hawaii. The story follows Price Ailani as he sets out on a quest to save his island from an evil curse. There are adventurous sea quests, magical shape shifters, family infighting and a blossoming young love.

Charles is a talented writer, and his simple yet descriptive style brings to life the world of sea creatures and magic. The mythology is well researched, and the inclusion of Hawaiian words brings a sense of realism to a story steeped in mysticism. The Kingdom of Oceana is well paced, and readers will be quickly drawn into the action and the development of Ailani, his relationship with his ill-fated brother Nahoa, as well as the over-arching plot.

The story flows like ancient story-telling, and this quality makes it special in modern literature. The shape-shifting magician and dark magic are coupled with landscapes that bring the real Hawaii to life. The success of this story stands comparable to the recent Disney hit Moana, and there is no doubt that Charles has created a spectacular hit with this story.

The one minor let down of the novel is the cover because the artwork seems clichéd for a book set in a tropical location. While the tiki head (depicted on the cover) holds significance in the story, the overall power of the book is lost with the stereotypical cover.

That being said, The Kingdom of Oceana is a timeless story that readers of all ages will enjoy. It is easy enough for young readers to read and holds enough literary power for any adult to appreciate. There is an enduring wonder to The Kingdom of Oceana and being the first in a series, there is no doubt that what comes next will be just as imaginative.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Jorie and the Magic Stones – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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A. H. Richardson

In A. H. Richardson’s Jorie and the Magic Stones, Marjorie Weaver, who prefers to be called Jorie, is a spunky almost-nine-year-old with a personality as bright as her long red hair. After going to live with her aunt in the intimidating Mortimer Manor, Jorie discovers a mysterious book about dragons under the floorboards of her room. Soon after, she finds herself magically transported to the mystical land of Cabrynthius. There, Jorie discovers that she is the prophesied “Child with the Hair of Fire,” who must locate the three Stones of Maalog and return them to the great dragon, Grootmonya. She returns with her friend, Rufus, and the two children then embark on an imaginative adventure, full of dragons, magic, and peril around every corner.

Jorie and the Magic Stones is a wonderfully creative chapter book for children, similar to classics like The Chronicles of Narnia in depth and content. It’s full of complex magic and an alternate world detailed enough to satisfy adult readers, while narrated by the innocent, age-appropriate voice of a child. While Jorie and the Magic Stones does contain themes of darkness and/or evil, it never feels too scary. Rather, it promotes kindness, intelligence, creativity, and perseverance in a manner that is both straightforward and thought-provoking.

A. H. Richardson’s descriptive writing style and pure creativity made Jorie and the Magic Stones a pure joy to read. It’s exciting and immersive, and chock full of humor, adventure, and magic that will thrill readers of all ages. Although it is meant to be a children’s book, Jorie and the Magic Stones is the type of exhilarating fantasy book that the whole family will enjoy.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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There’s a Goat in My Oatmeal – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

4 Stars

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Jeff Whitcher

A classic perspective on humorous children’s poetry, There’s a Goat In My Oatmeal: Poems and Drawings by Jeff Whitcher is quite delightful.  Throughout the book, readers will discover whimsical concepts interwoven throughout the poetry.  More often than not, the author writes with a rhyming cadence.  However, the reader will encounter a few oddities tossed in along the way.  Those ”interesting facts” pop up only a time or two, but they seem somewhat out of context and break the flow of the rest of the book.  That shouldn’t deter potential readers though.  If those feel incongruent with the rest of the book, just skip over them.  Beyond the comical approach to the poetry, author Jeff Whitcher has also included a number of entertaining sketches that will grab the reader’s attention and bring a smile to his or her lips.

Some of the poetry seems to come from the view of a child whereas other poems seem to come from the view of a parent.  That can be a bit confusing initially, but many of them will still bring a giggle bubbling to the surface.  There’s a Goat in My Oatmeal as a whole and the poem with the same title as the book’s title are great to read to one’s children outloud, and they are great poems for younger readers to explore on their own.  Witcher looks at things and events through a very interesting lens.  For example, he writes about “The Old Woman and the Shoe”, and yes, she is the old woman from the traditional nursery rhyme, but reading about her from Witcher’s view is very cute and as mentioned above will likely bring a smile and giggle if not a full belly laugh from young readers.  There’s a Goat in My Oatmeal would make a nice addition to one’s family library as well as local libraries’ children’s sections.

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Difference Between Middle-Grade, Young Adult, New Adult and Adult Books – Guest Post

Difference between middle-grade, young adult, new adult and adult books


Guest Blogger: Chris Weigand

I recently gave a presentation at an online conference about the differences between middle-grade, young adult, new adult and adult books.  After doing my research and sharing the information at the conference I realized that the information was probably something that could be shared with a wider audience. I know I usually take this space to share something of the characters in my books and this won’t be completely different, because I will explore each of my books in the examples. So on to the differences.

Defining the different categories by age groups

Middle-age (also known as middle grade): 8-12 year olds

Young Adult: 12-16 year olds 

New Adult: 16 and beyond.

Adult: 18 and beyond

These age groups are more guidelines than set in stone rules. Also you will note that middle-age or middle grade is not middle schoolers. While this category includes low end middle schoolers it also includes high end elementary school.  And the young adult category can include high end middle school (junior high) as well as high school. I also feel that the YA category can be bumped up to eighteen years old, but once the characters is out of high school and heading to college or independent living they definitely fall into the new adult category. 

Expand the definitions with word counts

Middle-Age: 20-55,000

Young Adult: 55-80,000

New Adult: 70-90,000

Adult: 70-110,000

One thing to note about these word counts is that some genres like science fiction/ fantasy tend to defy these rules and have higher word counts, because the author is creating a world instead of using the known world.

Differences in writing

Now you can see the older the reader the longer the word count, but it still doesn’t tell us what the differences are in the actual writing of the category. So I will go on to supply a more fleshed out definition. I have learned in making the transition from YA to MG, writing for each category is different. Each has its own nuances that can be overcome, but not without some learning curve.


  • the story features pre-teen and teen characters, 10-13 year olds
  •  is often told in third person. 
  • usually a single inciting event
  • no profanity, graphic violence or sexuality (May include romance, crush or first kiss)
  • readers and characters are focused on friends and family 
  • outwardly focused on the character’s immediate world
  • characters react to what happens to them with minimal self-reflection
  • material can’t be too mature
  • generally end on a hopeful note 

Middle grade: Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully:

  • characters are 12 and 13 years old
  • Paul and Nate are bullied by Billy
  • Paul reacts by disobeying his superiors and striking out on his own to learn about Billy
  • Lives with parents
  • reacts without thinking about consequences or how others will be affected
  • story ends with Billy and Paul resolving their differences
  • fantastical creatures can serve as alternatives or helpers in conjunction with parents 

Young Adult: 

  • stories feature 14-18 year olds not yet in college
  • often told in first person
  • presence/absence of parents add a wrinkle in characters story arc
  • like real teens- emotionally volatile wanting independence but needing parental guidance
  • more easily tempted by the present while developing a more mature long range view
  • profanity, graphic violence, romance and sexuality allowable
  • discovering how they fit in the world beyond friends and family
  • more reflective and analyzing the meanings, more inwardly focused
  • endings can be less optimistic
  • romance often an element
  • the world can be weird and scary, complex place
  • complexity in text and theme 

Young Adult: Palace of the Twelve Pillars

  • Brandan and Joachim 15 years old
  • parental influence limited, still living with family at beginning of book
  • both struggle with independence: forced on Joachim, Brandan strives to find it without parental 


  • Both are tempted and led by the situations they find themselves in; Joachim would rather things stayed the way they are, Brandan wants to rush into the future with no regard for the past
  • Both have definite ideas about their faith and their decisions show what their beliefs are
  • know what is right and wrong
  • focus inward to make choices based on what they have learned
  • at the conclusion the future is not so bright or clear 

New Adult: 

  • stories feature 18-25 year olds in the real world or college
  • story lines include being on your own, college, jobs, dating, figuring out how to adult
  • can steam up the pages, no limit on sex, foul language
  • characters are independent, facing adult responsibilities
  • physical and emotional focus in intimate scenes 

New Adult: Palace of the Three Crosses

  • Brandan and Joachim are in their late teens 
  • They are living independently of their families and figuring out how to be kings and husbands
  • Each will marry; there is some courting and the loss of a child and later the birth of a child
  • there is consideration of the world beyond their own as they learn how to be husbands and kings 


  • implies more about the characters thoughts and reactions
  • adult characters interact with other adults
  • little difference between NA and adult that I could find

Adult: Sanctuary of Nine Dragons

  • Brandan and Joachim are in their 20’s
  • Their interactions are with other adults
  • Brandan and Joachim’s faith is tested as each confronts their beliefs
  • They face adult situations like marriage and parenting 


Some authors like Rick Riordan, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and Veronica Roth have novels spanning more than one category. For instance, I would have thought Rick Riordan’s books were YA and yet they are read by Middle-graders, New Adults and Adult. Even the Palace of the Twelve Pillars series that I wrote, I would have never said I was writing that it was Middle grade, yet I know middle graders that have read it. I thought it was YA and even possibly New Adult, although at the time of publication NA was just coming on the scene.

Anyway I guess the point here is; yes there are guidelines and it would behoove a writer to explore and learn where hers/his story fits. That being said I would only worry about the category after the book is written. The one thing I haven’t talked about is your personal preference. Each category has its own unique set of parameters and while there is a little fluidity between the categories you must remember that just because you can write one transitioning to another may not be as easy as it sounds. I remember thinking when I took on the Middle grade project; how hard can this be? What I discovered is that those differences I mentioned before can be challenging. Younger or older audiences have different needs, different levels of comprehension and just because they are only a few years apart the writer really needs to consider those parameters when making the shift. The results can be rewarding when you find your niche. Just make sure to follow the guidelines while following your heart.

Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of four and Nana to three. Through her writing she strives to share God and help people realize His love and mercy.

Nathan and Paul have a bully problem. Billy, the school bully, has chosen them to be the target of his aggression. Paul, along with Sir E. Robert Smythe of the Galactic Safety Council, discovers the root of Billy’s issues and strives to convince the bully to change his ways.

When Billy runs away from home, Paul goes after him. Billy’s dad, the cause of Billy’s anger, finds the boys and threatens them. They are rescued but not before each are injured and Billy’s dad escapes.

During their recovery they learn more about each other and face Billy’s dad once again. Can they overcome their differences and confront the bullying going on in their school before someone gets seriously hurt?  Click here for your copy.

*Guest posts are NOT edited by ATAI.

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Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

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Christina Weigand

Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully, written by Christina Weigand and Ricci Moore, is a children’s book that tackles the issue of bullying. Paul and his friend Nathan are being relentlessly bullied by a boy much bigger than them, Billy. After a particularly awful day, Paul wishes he has someone to talk to about it. Shockingly, he’s greeted by the curious Sir E. Robert Smythe, a strange creature claiming to be the Senior Safety Ambassador for the Galactic Safety Council. Together, Sir E. Robert Smythe, Paul, and Nathan band together to end Billy’s bullying once and for all, all while discovering that there’s more to Billy than meets the eye. 

Right off the bat, there are a few aspects of Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully that are a bit alarming. The first is the unrealistic portrayal of bullying, represented by Billy. He’s the stereotypical beat-you-up-and-take-your-lunch sort of bully; while this is often seen in fiction, it’s not necessarily accurate to what real-life bullying is like. That may not be as relatable to children as the authors might have hoped. Secondly, the actions taken by Billy’s father are a bit much. It may have been necessary to show how him bullying his son led to Billy’s own bullying actions, but many of the scenes with his father tended to be upsetting, almost to the point of being disturbing. That would likely end up being more distressing to children than it was meant to be. 

Aside from that, Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully was an interesting children’s book. Christina Weigand and Ricci Moore tackled this important issue with humor and creativity, resulting in a science-fiction adventure with a moral. It was especially nice that the “villains” of the story came to see the errors of their ways and redeemed themselves, to some extent. It was also a lovely touch to add discussion points at the end of the book, as this is a topic that should be discussed in depth with children. It may have gotten off to a rough start, but Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully turned out to be a unique and beneficial children’s book, and a handy tool to use to break the ice with kids before discussing a heavy topic like bullying. 

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Ornaments of Love – Holiday Contest Winner

Holiday Book Contest Winner

Today’s Featured Author and Book

Ornaments of Love


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Book Description:

A touching Christmas story with glowing illustrations, Ornaments of Love is a story to cherish for years to come. A beautiful tale of Ayana, an endearing ten-year-old who excitedly anticipates that special time of year when the entire family joins together to decorate and admire the Christmas tree. But sadly this year is different. Ayana realizes that her mom and dad are far too busy with everything else to enjoy the tree with Ayana. Then, something unexpected happens and the family is brought together with tenderness and joy. Filled to the brim and overflowing with charming moments, gentle humor, and timeless illustrations, this beautiful story is a wonderful reminder of what’s important not only during the Christmas season, but every day of our lives. Ornaments of Love is destined to become one of your favorite holiday stories. One that will remain in your heart forever.

Coloring Book Description:

This beautifully designed coloring book is a companion or stand-alone book to the original Ornaments of Love picture book. It contains not only the complete story of Ornaments of Love, but also provides 21 full-size coloring pages for artists of all ages. The Ornaments of Love coloring book was created to bring families together at Christmas time. It provides families a perfect way to reduce holiday stress by spending quiet time coloring pages that showcase angels, bells, stars and much more. Coloring pages range from easy to difficult, perfect for all family members! Additional complimentary coloring pages are available to print online with the purchase of the coloring book. Make this a special gift for your loved ones by also purchasing the original ‘Ornaments of Love’ picture book with full color illustrations.


Sharlin Craig’s Ornaments of Love is a heartwarming children’s book about one family’s Christmas, illustrated by Helen Monwuba. Ayana is a young girl who is very excited about decorating the Christmas tree with her parents, but they seem to be too busy to help her. Disheartened, she is left to put the ornaments on the tree herself. Ayana then watches from afar over the next few weeks as her parents rush to do everything to prepare for Christmas, except spend time with her. Then, the family dog knocks the tree over and breaks all of their precious ornaments, leaving Ayana and her parents to piece together their fond memories and experience true Christmas joy together.

Despite being a bit sad at first, Ornaments of Love is an adorable book for children. Sharlin Craig’s story is simple and straightforward, but still manages to tug on the heartstrings. It exhibits the importance of spending time with family around the holidays, and also includes some touching memories that any family or child could relate to. Helen Monwuba’s illustrations are very nice as well; they are simple and not overdone, but are still expressive and have a very classic look to them. Paired together, the story and illustrations are just delightful.

Ornaments of Love is a great book to read together as a family, whether it is Christmastime or not. It is a charming little story with a great moral behind it, and may even inspire the readers and their families to take their own little strolls down memory lane together, too.

Originally critiqued by the Authors Talk About It team.

Sharlin Craig

Sharlin Craig, a Detroit native who now resides in southern California with her husband and daughter, is dedicated to writing inspirational children’s books that touch the spirit of her readers. A graduate of Oakland University, she’s taught music to children for several years while also writing music and lyrics. She’s combined her love for children and writing into authoring her debut children’s Christmas picture book, ‘Ornaments of Love’.

Sharlin believes that with the right surroundings and daily encouragement, children are boundless. She’s passionate about helping children feel understood and empowered through her books and hopes that her stories make them smile.

Learn more at


If you enjoy these author interviews be sure you subscribe to Authors Talk About It via iTunes or follow on Podbean and get your copy of Ornaments of Love.

Peace and Love,

Rob and Janelle


Doors are open for the 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest! Deadline is 9/30/17

Book awards give you clout and credibility!


You get more than just an entry into a contest!  All entries that earn at least 3 Stars get promotion, too!

Are you ready for the chance to be an award-winning author?  

Yes!  Excellent!

Click here to learn more and enter!

Authors join our Creative Author Marketing Facebook group

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.30.22 AM

A place to share tips, advice and wisdom about marketing your book. Ask for advice. We’re here for you!

Traveling entrepreneurs, Drs. Rob + Janelle Alex, Ph.D. share a wealth of knowledge and info with authors all over the world.  

We help you develop 3 key things you MUST have to gain success with your book.

Your Mindset
Your Tool Set
Your Skill Set

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Truls and Trine: A Christmas Story – Entered in Holiday Contest

4 Stars

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Anita Hager

An adorable Christmas story by Anita Hager, Truls and Trine – A Christmas Story is the 16th book in her Be the magic you are series.  With full-color images throughout, parents and young readers alike will enjoy a cute tale of two trolls and their Christmas Eve adventure.  Truls and Trine are a brother and sister pair, who enjoy a sweet friendship with their human friend, Jenny.  Though the pair are friends with Jenny, they were unsure of what Christmas was.  Jenny explained to them why people add colorful lights to their Christmas trees and about Santa Claus.  Truls didn’t want to believe in Santa Claus, but Trine was quite willing to believe in the fanastical story of a jolly man in a red suit delivering presents to children around the world.  Before the night was over, Truls discovered the truth about Santa and his reindeer.  

Overall, Hager’s Truls and Trine – A Christmas Story is a nice little holiday story – even one that could easily be read as a bedtime story.  There were definitely a few cliche moments from Truls not believing in Santa and having to experience it for himself to him, Trine and Jenny ultimately saving Christmas.  At the same time, the storyline offers a few twists and turns to a basic plot that has been nearly overdone.  Truls and Trine – A Christmas Story is a quick and fun read that places a focus on friendship and family without any religious undertones.  It could use another round of proofing and readers may wonder what happened with the snowball at the beginning, but overall it’s well worth grabbing a copy and sharing the young trolls tales with a young reader. 

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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Becoming a Stay-at-home Mom Again Led to Writing


Guest Blogger: Christina Weigand

First I’d like to say hi to all of Janelle’s and Rob’s followers. Second I want to take this first post to introduce myself to you.

My name is Christina Weigand (Chris). I could tell you my whole life story, but it would probably bore you, so I will just pick up where my writing journey started.  Fifteen years ago I gave birth to my fourth child, a baby girl. Her siblings were already in college or finishing high school. I was seconds away from the empty nest syndrome when we discovered I was pregnant.  I was married and would celebrate my twenty fifth anniversary when my fourth child was two years old. I had pretty much finished raising my three children, gotten my BS in Interior Design and worked at a couple of jobs in and out of the industry although for the most part I had been a stay-at-home mom for most of my adult life. 

So here I was, having a new baby almost seventeen years after her older sister, and my husband and I decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom again. The problem with that plan, although it really wasn’t a problem, was that I was a little restless. I had spent the previous years going to school and then working while raising and juggling family life and now the work and school were gone and all that was left was the family life, not that I have anything against it, but I needed something more. So after some soul searching I took an online writing course.

Ancient letter written by beautiful handwriting and an ink feather

Over the next few years I did the exercises and took care of my baby while watching the rest of the family grow and continue on with our lives. I started out writing for small children, but my stories were always too long for the younger read-to-me’s. Then I played around with writing inspirational articles for women, and although I enjoyed that I still didn’t feel satisfied. It was then that I started writing Young Adult.  I found my niche and the stories flowed out. Fast forward a few years and a few books and it was time for a new challenge. So while continuing to write Young Adult I decided to try my hand at Middle Grade. Passion expanded.

So now that you know how I got here, I’ll tell you a little bit more about me and my books. When I started writing my YA trilogy it was at the time when the Twilight series was all the rage. My youngest daughter and oldest granddaughter were hovering near the tween years and all the girls were reading books like Twilight. I read them and while I do not fault any author for writing their passion, because I would not want someone to do it to me, I wasn’t impressed with Twilight and some of the other books for young adults that were being published at the time. I didn’t like the ideas and images that were being promoted to our young people through those books. Well if I didn’t like the choices being presented to our young people then I had better see to it that there was something else for them to choose. So I wrote the Palace of the Twelve Pillars trilogy.

My mission statement that can be seen in its entirety on my blog  states:

To provide to middle-grade and YA readers

a balanced reading palette. While they may be

reading vampire books and the like I also want them

to see God’s side and to have a fuller, more well-balanced

vision of what is out there, so they can make

informed choices in their lives.

To help young writers explore and embrace their God given talent.

Something for my blossoming teenage daughter and granddaughter…

I wanted something that my blossoming teenage daughter and granddaughter could read that showed positive relationships, young people not afraid to stand up for what they believed and there were consequences to the choices that you made be they good or bad.


Like I previously mentioned I recently started writing Middle grade for the 8-12 year olds and my goal has stayed the same, to give them options, something different from the books that are out there for them to read. In my MG books, since the audience is a little younger, my stories are not as sweeping or as complex as the YA books. They tend to focus a little more on a single issue with a few minor subplots that support that issue. 

It is a challenge to write for these two age groups in that they are still molding and developing the ideas that they will carry into adulthood and they turn to peers more and more as they rely less and less on their parents ideas about things. So the goal is to show them the way to grow without turning them off.

Inspiration for Adults

I also still write inspirational things for adults. Here is the part of my mission statement that addresses that:

To promote hope and encourage women and men in their faith journey. Show that in spite of all the darkness in today’s world that we can still find the light of God’s love to guide us through the darkness into His glorious love.

So that’s me.

I am a daughter of God, a mother of four, a wife to one and a writer/author. I have a YA Fantasy Trilogy; Palace of the Twelve Pillars, Palace of the Three Crosses and Sanctuary of Nine Dragons.

Recently the first book in a six book MG Series The Galactic Safety Ambassadors was published; Sir E. Robert Smythe and the School Bully.

And finally Women of the Bible: A Study that explores how twelve women’s lives are still relevant in today’s world.

As time goes on and for as long as Rob and Janelle will tolerate me I will explore my stories and my writing process. Thanks Rob and Janelle for this opportunity.

Christina Weigand’s a writer, wife, and mother of four and Nana to three. Through her writing she strives to share God and help people realize His love and mercy.

Nathan and Paul have a bully problem. Billy, the school bully, has chosen them to be the target of his aggression. Paul, along with Sir E. Robert Smythe of the Galactic Safety Council, discovers the root of Billy’s issues and strives to convince the bully to change his ways.

When Billy runs away from home, Paul goes after him. Billy’s dad, the cause of Billy’s anger, finds the boys and threatens them. They are rescued but not before each are injured and Billy’s dad escapes.

During their recovery they learn more about each other and face Billy’s dad once again. Can they overcome their differences and confront the bullying going on in their school before someone gets seriously hurt?  Click here for your copy.


*Guest posts are NOT edited by ATAI.

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Treasury of Bizarre Christmas Stories Entered in Holiday Contest

Click here to get your copy!

Fiza Pathan

Treasury of Bizarre Christmas Stories by Fiza Pathan is a collection of original short stories with Christmas as their focus. Pathan has tried to bring old Christmas charm to stories that are a little different from the usual light-heartedness we link with the festive season. She has included references to popular hymns, Christian stories as well as nods to traditional Christmas tales which would make it a great read this festive season.

However, the main problem with Treasury of Bizarre Christmas Stories is that they are not bizarre. While there are some unique stories like “Island of Christmas, “where Jesus flies a helicopter to save a man from a deserted island; they are not memorable. There are ghosts, witches, and murders, but only because Pathan was trying to give us something new. She was able to bring strong Christian values throughout the stories, and that will ring well with readers. However, the target audience is unidentifiable, and the stories are very formulaic.

 Treasury of Bizarre Christmas Stories is written in a very ‘old style’ with the use of phrases such as “poppycock “and “mammy” throughout the stories.  While this could be a nod to Charles Dickens (who Pathan quotes in the beginning), it adds a heaviness to the text drowning out the imaginative stories. This is a real pity as Pathan has some great stories hidden among the stylistic issues which make this collection almost difficult to finish.

Overall, Treasury of Bizarre Christmas Stories tries to give us a twist on what a Christmas story should be. There is a blend of Christmas cheer with bizarre circumstances that trickle across the 14 stories.  It is a nod to the old while bringing new stories forward. Sadly, the stories are not “exciting “enough to make their way into your Christmas stocking this year.

Originally critiqued by the Authors Talk About It team.

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