Interview with author Candice Zee

Book: The Munchkins

Q1. Hello, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

Hi, I’m Candice Zee. I’m a teacher and early childhood educator and I’ve worked with Pre-K, Kindergarten, and school-age children for over 12 years. Also, I’ve been vegan for over 23 years and I’m a long-time animal and social justice advocate. I love to read and I’ve written most of my life, mostly essays and articles for organization newsletters, and The Munchkins is my debut novel. I’m from Wilkes-Barre, PA and I currently live with my wife Dana and our dog companion Solstice in Cleveland, OH.

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘The Munchkins’ book?

Without a doubt, my key challenge was keeping the word count down. When I wrote the first draft of The Munchkins, I actually wrote the first and second book together. Then I took a look at the word count and it was over 300,000 words! That’s when I decided to split it up into two different books. But just getting the word count down to a reasonable level for the first book was very hard, and I spent countless hours editing. I think editing is much harder than writing because you have to make some tough decisions about cutting material you really like and want to keep, but you can’t save it all.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

I read a lot of nonfiction in the social sciences genre, but when it comes to fiction I’ve been a huge fan of horror and thriller novels since I was a teenager. Two of my favorite horror authors are John Saul and Dean Koontz. My favorite author of all-time is probably Stephen King. I’ve read many of his books and short stories, and he’s definitely influenced my style of writing. The Munchkins is filled with elements of suspense, and Big Boss is like a villain straight out of a horror novel.

Q4. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I would say anywhere near a large body of water, like a beach by the ocean or a cascading waterfall. I live by Lake Erie and I love to go there and just look out into the waves and the open sky. It’s a good reminder of how vast and majestic the universe is, and that humans are just a tiny part of it. It helps you instantly see the much bigger picture.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

Not really. When I wrote The Munchkins, I felt like something was writing through me. I had the words typed out before I could even think of them. I’ve had the idea in my head since I was a kid so I guess in a way I was preparing to write this story my whole life. The only thing to do was open my laptop and start writing it.

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘The Munchkins’ book?

Oh boy, it took me years. I think I started writing it in 2012. At first I wasn’t too serious about it, and was unsure if I’d even publish it, so it was just a little bit here and a little bit there, then a long period of time would pass before I’d go back to it. Once I finally decided I was going to publish it and write a series though, I banged it out rather quickly. I’d go into a zone and spend whole weekends doing nothing but writing, staying up all hours of the night, only coming up for air to eat (and sometimes I’d forget to eat). And remember I originally wrote the first and second books together, so I would have been done a lot sooner if I just wrote the first book. But on the plus side, now the second book is already written, so it shouldn’t take me nearly as long to publish the next one.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘The Munchkins’ book to buy?

The ebook and paperback are available to buy through a number of different sites and stores. There’s Amazon of course, but in addition you can find the ebook on Apple Books, Google Play, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, Scribd, and other digital retailers. If you visit books2read.com/themunchkins you will find links to all these stores. You can get the paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Target, Indiebound and Bookshop.org, and local book stores. You can also go to my website munchkinsbooks.com and find a link to order it there. I also want to encourage readers to sign up for the Munchie email newsletter list at https://www.subscribepage.com/p3s1g5 where you can stay updated on news about the book series and receive perks like book chapters, sneak previews, author Q&As, and book giveaway contests.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘The Munchkins’ ?

When I was a kid, my brother and I would make up our own make-believe stories and play pretend, acting them out. Our favorite one we made up was about kids with magic powers who never grow up and the bad guy who wants their powers named Big Boss, and we called it “Munchkins.” I can’t even remember now how we decided on that name. The idea has been in my head since I was a child though, and I always thought to myself I should turn this story into a book someday, until finally one day I decided to just sit down and write it. I also had a vision for what I wanted the book cover to look like. It was really important to me to feature the Four Musketeers (Capricorn, Allie, Breezy, and Hazy) on the cover, to show how close they are and then also to have light coming off of them to represent their powers. I originally wanted all of the kids on the cover actually, but quickly realized they wouldn’t all fit. Then I also envisioned Big Boss’s silhouette standing in the background as this ominous figure. I love the cover of the book and I think my cover designer, Jeff Brown Graphics, did an amazing job depicting the Four Musketeers and bringing the story to life.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I guess I’ll find out when I start revising and editing the second book. I’ll say this though: The second book is much much darker than the first one. It actually dives more into the YA category than middle-grade because of the very grave subject matter. So expect more of a YA novel for the second book in the series, titled Capricorn’s Journal: My Family’s Fight for Survival.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

There are major limits to the Munch children’s powers. The biggest limit is that once they use a power, they have to wait for a certain period of time before they can use a power again. Their powers work almost like a battery and they have to recharge their energy after using them. This point becomes very important to the plot. Also, pay attention to Allie, a favorite character with readers. She is incredibly witty and has some of the best lines in the book. When things start to get too tense, Allie will make a sarcastic remark and bring instant comic relief.

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Book Is Available On Amazon

The Munchkins

Interview with author Sumaiya Matin

Book: The Shayṭān Bride

Q1. Hello Ma’am, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

I’m a writer, therapist, and public servant living in Ontario, Canada. I emigrated here when I was about six. My memoir, The Shayṭān Bride, speaks to my migration experience, among other themes. When I am not writing or working, you can find me exploring different towns and cities, trying out different recipes, hiking, or spending time with family.

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘The Shayṭān Bride’ book?

One challenge I faced was the “Islamophobic gaze.” I was very aware of the climate of hate crimes, especially toward Muslims. I often couldn’t help but feel the heavy onus of not misrepresenting my faith, ethnic or cultural background. I was overall quite anxious about my writing being misconstrued in some way to perpetuate irrational fears or stereotypes. I had to trust myself to speak about the topics I needed to and from my social location and experience, in a way where I remained as honest as possible, and also mindful of the impact of words. It was an interesting position to be in. Another challenge I faced was my schedule. I was working a full-time job while writing, so I had to find any and every opportunity to write. I had to balance all of my commitments.

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

Well, I have always appreciated literature about the South Asian diaspora or Muslim experience. When I was younger, if I stumbled across a book with such content, I would feel so excited, as I’d feel seen in some way. I looked forward to books by authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Arundhati Roy, and Michael Ondaatje. I also read a lot of classical works by Rabindranath Tagore, which was always refreshing. As a literature student in a Canadian university, I often picked up books by Margaret Atwood for analysis – I was drawn to her gothic style. I also appreciated reading thrillers and suspenseful stories, for example, books by Dan Brown. These days I am reading a lot more memoir, and I continue to be drawn to books about Islamic spirituality (Imam Ghazali’s classics, Yasmin Mogahed) and female, Muslim protagonists. These topics, and these authors and their styles have probably influenced me.

Q4. What’s your favourite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

I don’t believe I have a specific, special spot in Canada that I like to visit. I generally enjoy stumbling upon small forests or woods that are tucked away in the most unexpected places. I find them so mystical and peaceful.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

It depends. I’ll usually create a really loose outline of the entire book that I’ll use as a reference when starting to write the individual chapters. I like to make my writing area cozy, homely, grounding – once I’ve achieved this, it’s easier for me to begin writing. Once I do, my writing tends to flow and I keep going.

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘The Shayṭān Bride’ book?

For years, I thought about writing it. It took me about three months to write the full first draft that I submitted for editing.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can readers find ‘The Shayṭān Bride’ for purchasebook to buy?

The Shayṭān Bride can be purchased through Amazon, Book Depository (for international orders), Chapters Indigo and independent bookstores (Bookshop, Indie Bound) as well as the publisher’s (Dundurn Press) website.

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title of ‘The Shayṭān Bride’?

The amazing design team at Dundurn Press (publisher) used content from the first chapter to guide their selection of the cover image. The actual image is a painting by Rebecca Massey. This painting is an adaptation of the 1781 oil painting “The Nightmare,” created by Anglo-Swiss artist Henry Fuseli. After the cover image was presented to me, I made some recommendations to customize it more to the story and the protagonist, myself. For example, I asked for the skin tone of the woman in the image to be a little darkened, and for a ta’wiz to be added around her neck. I also asked for changes to the clock face. This process of creating and editing the cover was collaborative and I really appreciated the publisher working with me in this way.
“The Shayṭān Bride” was originally the title of one of the chapters. My editor and I decided to make it the book title as well because it best encapsulated the essence of the story, and on so many levels.
What I love about both the cover and the title is the sense of mystery, intrigue, suspense, evocativeness – and there is opportunity for subjectivity. The image and the title speak different things to different people; it’s hard to put your finger on what they are really trying to communicate. I love that. Readers can revisit the image and title and think about whether their original impressions have changed or not.

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I love to read. Constantly reading and processing ideas, including those that are new and different from mine, keep my own thinking and creative processes flowing. I also like to travel, and often ideate and write while I travel. I find that being in new places, and exploring them with a sense of openness and wonderment keeps me engaged with the world, which in turn, inspires me to share my findings with others through writing.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

The process of uncovering a secret is probably more interesting than being told one. So, I’ll leave it to readers to determine if there are secrets and what they are

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Book Is Available On Amazon

The Shayṭān Bride

The Four Harmonious Friends by creator Awa Books

Book: The Four Harmonious Friends

Creator: Awa Books

Available On: Amazon

Language: English

Rating: 5/5

“The Four Harmonious Friends” is a Children’s book created by Awa books and illustrated by Tenzin Tendhar. Story features a big tree in a beautiful forest. An elephant, a rabbit, a monkey, and a bird live under the shadow of the tree. They all fill their stomachs from the tree. One day they were discussing who is the owner of the tree. Read this beautiful story to find out who among the four animals owned the tree.

Story is well written. Illustrations are pretty. Kids will definitely love this colorful picture book. This book is written in two languages: English and Tibetan. Language used in the book is easy and kids could understand it well. I enjoyed reading this story and loved the beautiful message that this book gives.

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Book Is Available On Amazon

The Four Harmonious Friends

The Munchkins by author Candice Zee

Book: The Munchkins

Author: Candice Zee

Available On: Amazon

Language: English

Rating: 5/5

The Munchkins penned by the author Candice Zee is the first installment in the series. It is a middle-grade fantasy book that children would definitely love.

The story is about thirteen kids. Capricorn is one of the thirteen kids and she has narrated this story. One day, thirteen kids appeared in front of the children’s home. When Casey Munch went to the adoption center to adopt kids, he adopted all the thirteen kids. At the age of ten, these kids developed special powers and Casey asked the kids to keep their powers secret. Also, he set some ground rules on how the kids can use their powers. Their powers can heal people.

There is an evil next-door neighbor Big Boss whom the kids don’t like a bit. Once when they were playing baseball and their baseball went into Big Boss’s yards, he squeezed Becky’s wrist and hurt her badly. So, their father CC asked them to call him next time they see Big Boss. What is the motive of Big Boss? Why is he keeping an eye on the kids?

This is an intriguing story that I loved a lot. I enjoyed every bit of this story. Cover photo of the book looks nice and the title is suitable. Language used in the book is simple so middle grade readers would enjoy it.

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Book Is Available On Amazon

The Munchkins

Interview with author Sierra Clark

Book: Finding Sierra

Q1. Hello Ma’am, can you please introduce yourself? Readers would love to know more about you.

My Name Is Sierra Clark I’m a native yet only second generation, of St. Petersburg Fl Author, Host of HeratsTalk Podcast, Creator of It’s A Heart Thang, Model, Motivational Exhorter, Coach & Mentor, Photographer, Daughter,

Q2. What were the key challenges you faced while writing ‘Finding Sierra’ book?

*Choosing purpose over fear, *Doing unto myself as I’ve done unto others. *Breaking my own limited beliefs *Telling myself I can when the feeling of can’t is present,

Q3. What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

My list of authors are not long, at this point. I’ve probably only ready a total of 5 books from cover to finish. Although I’m excited about increasing that number. Now that I understand my reading challenges. (being dyslexic) I’m excited to USE this as an opportunity to go beyond my discomforts and read more . If you include me listing to an audio book then three’s Chris Gardner, W.E.B Du Bois, N.K. Jemisin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ana Reyes

Q4. What’s your favorite spot to visit in your own country? And what makes it so special to you?

St. Augustine, Pensacola, and Key West. These are three of the 10 places in Florida with Lighthouses. These structures are not only mystical but very important. In the book I call them the traffic lights of the sea. They are reminder that I never have to feel lost at the sea of my own thoughts. My light within will always guide me from the danger. Or guide me safely home, when I’ve lost my way. I’ve became aware of self throughout my interactions. The ability to tap back into my experiences. At the junction of opposing forces light- dark, safety- parallel, calm-chaos navigating myself through life. Which has allowed me to recognize my strengths and choices. Making me the lighthouse of my power.

Q5. Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing a book?

I’d say no it’s not a lot to do before. My suggestion is be patient, forgive and true to yourself during the process. The key is to JUST start, and don’t stop until you’re finished. My book writing experience was divinely orchestrated. I had been told I should write a book. Yet I had no intentions on doing so. It was the best opportunity I could give myself..

Q6. How long did it take you to write ‘Finding Sierra’ book?

From start to finish my book journey was 8 months.

Q7. On what all platforms readers can find ‘Finding Sierra’ book to buy?

It’s currently on Amazon paperback and an E book. Finding Sierra: A Journey to a Better Me, the Only Way Out is In https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09C19363L/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_8PC7ZDKXGCHXQ2Y7F513 It can also be purchased on my website https://www.sierraclark.life/products/book-for-an-appointment And found in a local store Gulfport Beach Bazaar (727) 381-8548 https://goo.gl/maps/NnRbR5YA1wxzDgr87

Q8. Tell us about the process of coming up with the book cover and the title ‘Finding Sierra’ ?

Its funny that you would ask this question because the final to get to the final book cover was definitely a process I think it was a total of five covers that I went back-and-forth with the first one my publishing company came up with I had a big smile on my face and I didn’t want to deceive the reader to thinking that the book was only about happy moments so I detoured away from it actually for several reasons. The other reason was I was being complacent with myself and I didn’t want to draw direct attention to me as far as the title of the book finding Ciara it almost was elementary because I was truly discovering new parts of me that I did not even know existed and that the revealing of who I was becoming

Q9. When writing a book how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

I’d say that if you speak authentically bringing clarity and truth together. You can’t go wrong. It always catches the attention of others.

Q10. Are there any secrets from the book (that aren’t in the blurb), you can share with your readers?

Oh yes they are definitely secrets in the book that are not mentioned in the blurb. I’ll reveal two. You learn the secret to exactly what’s love has to do with it…. In my Tina Turner voice you also discover the secret, to how and why blue isn’t just the color it’s an attitude!

Book Is Available On Amazon

Finding Sierra

Interview with author Lisa Pontzious

Book: Brothers Born A Month Apart: A Surrogacy Story


Q1.Please introduce yourself so that the readers will get to know you better.

My name is Lisa Pontzious. I am a cardiac sonographer, meaning I do ultrasounds on the heart. My real job though, is being a mother. I am a mom to two beautiful boys who are four years old. I always knew I wanted to be a mother, it was just one of those things that was a must for me. After eight miscarriages, countless heartbreaks, and hundreds of shots, my dream finally came true, times two! My fiancé and I were doing IVF and had several embryos. We finally decided to turn to a gestational carrier- a surrogate. But I didn’t want to give up on my dream to carry a child to term, so I suggested that I try again and have an embryo transferred to me a month after our surrogate. Month after month I could sense my dreams coming true, until they finally did!

Q2. What is your inspiration behind your book “Brothers Born A Month Apart: A Surrogacy Story”?

While in the surrogacy process, we had to see a psychologist to have any of our questions answered and make sure we were ready for this big adventure. One of the questions that was posed to me was, “When will you tell your son his was carried by a surrogate?” I initially thought I would wait and see, figured it would know when it was time and when he was ready. The psychologist insisted that I tell him when he turned four. When the boys were around 3.5 years old I started hearing her voice saying, “tell them when they’re four….” I scoured the Internet for the perfect book to read and open up the conversation but couldn’t find the right one. So I decided to write my own!

Q3. When did you realize you want to be an author of Children’s Book?

This was never a dream of mine, the book was initially written for the boys and I was not even going to publish it. It wasn’t until the woman I had hired to do the illustrations said that I should get it published as this would help many other people.

Q4. Are you planning to release your next book soon?

I don’t have any other plans to write another book. I might see how they do with this one and if something else comes up, I would consider it as this was a fun process, but for now, nothing in the works.

Q5. For which age group your books are suitable?

This is a book for young children, ages 4-8.

Q6. What is your favorite Quote?

“Mommy told Gavin he was going to be a brother. Gavin smiled. Mommy couldn’t help but smile too.” I love this quote because it really happened and I caught it on video! I was holding Gavin and got my phone out and told him he was going to be a brother the next day. His eyes were closed and he just smiled. It was so precious.

Q7. What do you like the most about your country?

We are so fortunate to live in california where the surrogacy laws are fair for both the intended parents and the gestational carrier. It’s not like the everywhere, so we were thankful that we could use our doctors, local hospital and stay close to home to do this.

Q8. What suggestion you want to give to parents of little readers regarding a reading habit?

Start young! Reading is so important as kids brains develop so rapidly. One minute you think they don’t understand, the next they are reciting the books or the facts you tell them. Kids are so amazing!

Q9. What does literary success look like to you?

I think that finding a book that you can read, understand and most of all, enjoy, you have found success. It’s not how thick the book is, or the material that you are reading that makes you a successful reader. It’s just about enjoying what you are reading.

Q10. Lastly, who is your inspiration in life and why?

I am inspired by my boys everyday. I think we can all learn a lot from children: how to see people for who they are and not their skin color, or what they can get from that person. They just love with their whole hearts and have the best energy.

Author’s Profile

Book Is Available On Amazon

Brothers Born A Month Apart: A Surrogacy Story

Finding Sierra: A Journey to a Better Me, the Only Way Out is In by author Sierra Clark

Book: Finding Sierra: A Journey to a Better Me, the Only Way Out is In

Author: Sierra Clark

Available On: Amazon

Language: English

Rating: 4/5

I love reading self-help books. Recently I got my hands on the book “Finding Sierra: A Journey to a Better Me, the Only Way Out is In” penned by the author Sierra Clark. In this book, Sierra has shared about many incidents of her life that she remembers. Some of those incidents helped her to learn a lesson from them.

Sierra was shocked to learn that the person whom she calls mom is not her biological mother. After the death of her grandparents, many things changed in her family. Her grandparents were the people holding the family together. Sierra started her self-realization journey after her marriage with Gregory fell apart.

The most important thing that I realized while reading this book is we should be selective in where we are spending our time. Language used in the book is simple so even beginners could understand it. Cover photo of the book looks wonderful. This is a self-help memoir in which Sierra has shared about her life and the lessons she learnt in her journey.

Book Is Available On Amazon

Finding Sierra: A Journey to a Better Me, the Only Way Out is In

Moving Parts: A Memoir by author Jason Hill

Book: Moving Parts: A Memoir

Author: Jason Hill

Available On: Amazon

Language: English

Rating: 4/5

“Moving Parts: A Memoir” written by the author Jason Hill is the first book by him that I have read. In this book, the author has shared about different phases of his life: childhood, adulthood, etc. When Jason was five years old, he lived in the suburb of Chicago called Matteson with his family. He had attended lily-white elementary school and once for a white girl, he broke his teeth while he was pretending to trip.

One day, Jason’s mom woke him and his siblings saying that they are moving to Maryland and their daddy will join them later. But later she made the confession that their daddy won’t be coming. Jason was going to miss Matteson, Illinois and his friends there. Read this book to know more about the family issues, the suicide in the family and more about Jason’s life.

Story is well written and Jason has narrated it smoothly. He is bold in narrative and honest too. I am glad to get my hands on this memoir as I love reading about life stories of someone. By reading someone’s memoir is the best way to learn from someone’s experiences. Cover photo of the book looks nice. Don’t miss to get your hands on this.

Book Is Available On Amazon

Moving Parts: A Memoir

Staying Grounded: 12 Principles For Transforming School Leader Effectiveness by author Michael J Hynes

Book: Staying Grounded: 12 Principles For Transforming School Leader Effectiveness

Author: Michael J Hynes

Available On: Amazon

Language: English

Rating: 5/5

“Staying Grounded: 12 Principles For Transforming School Leader Effectiveness” penned by the author Michael J Hynes is an insightful read. As the title of the book suggests, it has twelve principles that are divided into three categories. Author has also shared with the readers how he has implemented these principles and how it benefits students.

This book will guide you towards how you can serve children at a higher capacity. There are various thought provoking questions within the book. Various leadership stories mentioned in the book are interesting to read. Cover photo of the book looks nice and the title is suitable.

Through this book, readers will get appropriate tools and information that could make a difference in the school system. It is an insightful read. This book is not just meant to be read. School leaders should apply the principles explained in this book in their professional life to become more effective. A well written book that I like to recommend highly to everyone.

Book Is Available On Amazon

Staying Grounded: 12 Principles For Transforming School Leader Effectiveness

The Runaway iPad by author Farzana Osman

Book: The Runaway iPad

Author: Farzana Osman

Available On: Amazon

Language: English

Rating: 5/5

“The Runaway iPad” is a children’s book written by Farzana Osman.

Story features a stubborn boy Tommy who was begging his mum to excuse him from Grandma’s afternoon tea as he wanted to complete his game on iPad. Give a quick read to the story to know why Tommy’s iPad suddenly ran away from him. Children will have a great learning from this story. This book focuses on encouraging children to have limited screen time. Will Tommy’s iPad come back to him? Find out by reading this book.

The story is fast paced and exciting. Beautiful artwork, fun and easy to read story. The illustrations tell a story themselves. A wonderful story that I will surely share with my friends. Great addition to the children’s bookshelf. The book clearly depicts how children are getting addicted to screens and avoiding rest of the activities. The author has written this book well.

Book Is Available On Amazon

The Runaway iPad