Articles for the Month of March 2018

Coming Soon – The Staircase of Fire by Ben Woodard


Can Tom overcome his secret demons, and use his strength to help others?

In writing this exciting adventure story, the author takes his reader back to Kentucky in 1923, a time when racial prejudice was rampant and the Ku Klux Klan were very much at large…

The main character in the story is a fourteen year old boy called Tom. He lives in Shakertown in Mercer County with his granddad, and is an orphan. The tragedies of his life so far, and the memories associated with this have left his mind tortured with guilt and regret. Tom is an Irish catholic and as such is subject to some of the racial hatred which is so apparent against the Negro’s in his town. Perhaps this is why he feels so sorry for the way Rose and her son James are treated when they go to the courthouse to enrol to vote. Rose knows she has the right to vote using the 19th Amendment, however not in Shakertown, here Negro’s are not yet equal to white folk. Watching the mother and son being ridiculed and taken back to their wagon by the town’s deputies, and not helping them, makes the guilt burns deep into Tom’s soul, he is so ashamed of his cowardliness. This shame turns to absolute horror when days later he is waiting to say goodbye to Rose and James as they head off for a new life elsewhere. Instead of escaping the hate, he witnesses a horrific incident which they are subject to, and the memory of it changes his life forever!

He is just starting high school, and life must go on. The only way he can cope is to supress what he witnessed, and being your typical young lad he has a mind full of girls, and football. However the recent guilt and past memories remain in the back of his mind and haunt his dreams. He knows he must find the legendary Shaker gold, hidden somewhere in the town during the Civil War, and escape the town forever. But can escaping a place mean you can escape the memories too?

Fired with determination, and with the help of his cousin Will, Tom begins his search to find the map to the treasure, but it was hidden so long ago and so much has changed since then. Will the boys find the treasure?

If they do, will the money be answer to everything, or will it bring its own demons, after all money is sometimes known to be the route of all evil.

So many questions, and the answers can be found in this exciting rollercoaster of an adventure. Through Tom, his friends, family and the townsfolk we discover what life was really like during this period of time for people of color in America.

An inspiring adventure where the reader discovers that strength of character, the belief in what is right, and facing your demons, is the only answer to true inner peace – Highly recommended.

About the Author:







A spellbinding storyteller of high adventure, Ben has walked the Great Wall of China, hiked in Tibet, and climbed to 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest. And recently learned to surf in Hawaii.

Ben is active in SCBWI and a member of a local children’s writing critique group. He is a former Marketing Manager for a major corporation and ran his own marketing consulting business. He started writing children’s stories in 2008 and has written picture books, middle grade and young adult. Stories of adventure and wonder. Stories that inspire and educate, and, most of all, entertain.

Ben lives in Kentucky with his wife Lynda.

Author’s Website:


About the Book: 

A quiet town in Kentucky explodes from a racial incident and fourteen-year-old Tom Wallace is in the thick of it. His past haunts him and now he’s witness to a horrific event leaving him devastated and afraid.

Along with his cousin, Will, he searches for lost gold he believes can help him escape his town and memories. But leaving has consequences. He will lose his friends and his new love.

On a fiery staircase Tom finally realizes that he must face his inner demons and his horrific nightmares. To do so requires him to take a stand that could change his life … or end it.

Kentucky author, Ben Woodard, relies on personal experience and family history to tell this moving story of personal tragedy and racial hatred set in the rolling countryside of Kentucky in 1923.

The Staircase of Fire will be released on 25th May 2018 – it is available for pre-order now

Amazon in Hardcover


Barnes and Noble in Hardcover

as a Nook Book


Everything is Different by Ann Morris


Exciting times are ahead when Brett visits England.









Brett and his dad visit England where so many things are different, and in this lovely book he learns that different is not necessarily wrong.

From the moment Brett stepped onto the plane he knew he was in for a great adventure. He and his dad had been invited to England, and that was a long way away from his home in America.

There are lots of things for him to discover, and the first was that the clouds were under his feet, not over his head.

Then he discovers that the English drive on the ‘wrong side of the road’ and not only that, they ‘speak funny’ too. Whatever next?

Arriving in the Midlands Brett is in for a treat when dad tells him that they are going to visit Bolsover Castle, and he immediately looks it up on his laptop to find out more.

“Wow, this big stone castle definitely looks like a great place to explore, but why aren’t they made of wood like ours are?” He asks his dad.

He soon discovers the answer to this question and many more when he arrives at the castle. Everyone can dress up, and Brett decides it would be cool to become a knight for the day. And wow what a fantastic day he has as he steps back in time and relives history. He has learnt so much in just one visit!

However the day is not over, there are other places to see, and different food to try.

Sadly, soon it is time to go home, their brief holiday is finished. Brett has had a wonderful time and has learnt a very important lesson from his trip, which is that different definitely isn’t wrong, and having an open mind to new experiences opens a world of wonderful opportunities to you.

I loved the way that this book highlights positively the differences between England and America. I found its message to children inspiring, because like the author, I feel is very important for our children to be able to experience new things, and realise that things are very different in other places.

This book is beautifully illustrated by Melissa Wright.


About the Author:









Ann Morris believes that life experiences are big teaching moments for children. The more adults foster positive attitudes and learning methods, the better communicators and more resourceful adults our children will become. Fluent in Spanish, she encourages others to learn as many languages as possible. The more we understand each other on an individual basis, the fewer stereotypes there will be.


About the Book:

Brett and his dad visit England in the United Kingdom. Brett observes many things new to him. His dad patiently explains why different things work where they are and that Brett should not be alarmed. Brett learns that different does not mean wrong and enjoys his experience, including a visit to a castle.

Available from Amazon in Hardcover

and Kindle format


Barnes and Noble in Hardcover

and as a NOOK Book


Everything is Different can also be purchased in Spanish in both Hardcover and Kindle from


Brett y su padre visitan Inglaterra donde muchas cosas son distintas, y en este libro bonito aprende que lo distinto no significa equivocado.

Desde el momento en que subió Brett al avión sabía que entraba en una gran aventura. Les habían invitado a su padre y a él a Inglaterra, y eso quedaba muy lejos de su hogar en América.

Hay muchas cosas para que descubra, y la primera fue que las nubes quedaban bajo sus pies, no sobre la cabeza.
Entonces, descubre que los ingleses conducen en la vía «equivocada» del camino y no sólo eso, hablan «raro» también. ¿Qué más habrá?

Llegando en las tierras «Midlands», la parte central de Inglaterra, Brett está para experimentar algo especial cuando su padre le dice que van a visitar el castillo Bolsover Castle, e inmediatamente lo busca en su portátil para saber más.

–Guau, este castillo enorme seguro que parece gran lugar para explorar, pero ¿por qué no están hechos de madera como los nuestros?– Le pregunta a su padre.

Pronto descubre la respuesta a su pregunta y a muchas más cuando llega al castillo. Todos se pueden disfrazar y Brett decide que sería bonito hacerse caballero para el día. Y guau que día tan fantástico lo pasa al retrocederse por los años y revivir la historia. ¡Ha aprendido muchísimo en sólo una visita!

Pero el día no ha terminado, hay otros lugares que ver, y comida distinta que probar.

Con pena, dentro de poco se les acaba la visita breve. Brett lo ha pasado fenomenalmente y ha aprendido una lección importante de su viaje, la cual es que distinto seguramente no significa equivocado, y que ampliarse la conciencia a nuevas experiencias te abren un mundo de oportunidades magníficas.

Me encantó la manera en que este libro recalca positivamente las diferencias entre Inglaterra y América. Me inspiró el mensaje a los niños, porque como la autora, Yo siento que es importante que nuestros niños puedan experimentar nuevas cosas, y darse cuenta que son muy distintas en otros lugares.

Este libro es ilustrado de una forma muy bonita por Melissa Wright.

Mumbai Matinee by Ajay Kaul


The magical lure of Mumbai







Ajay Kaul is an Engineering Manager who received his degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, and his master’s degree in business administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He loves travel and world history, and in this, his memoir, he has used the substantial time he has spent in Mumbai, to gives his readers the chance to see beneath the surface of this city, the financial capital, and Hollywood of India.

His story begins in February of 1993 when he leaves his home in North India, to accept an internship at Tata Consultancy Services, in the impressive Air India Building, an attraction in the Nariman Point business district of Mumbai. Very quickly he falls in love with the city and so when he graduates the following May as a Chemical Engineer he is happy to return to TCS to work.

Through Ajay the reader is treated to a real glimpse of his life in Mumbai. On his first day he has to forget his mother’s warnings not to eat the food cooked by street vendors, after all he reasons, everyone does so, why shouldn’t he? Just outside his office at his first lunch time he is introduced to Patil, by his mentor Venky. Patil makes pav-bhaji’s at his stall, and Ajay becomes a regular visitor.  Patil’s food is delicious, and soon Ajay discovers that the tale he has to tell about how he became a pav-bhaji seller demonstrates the true entrepreneurial spirit which thrives in Mumbai

Throughout the book the importance of family, and the support the network of family members provides is clear. However, with the passing of the years, the world becomes a smaller place, and the restrictions with strict religious beliefs put on the younger generations can begin to cause problems. There is so much more free will in the modern world, and inter religion marriages are becoming less common. This problem, along with death, crime, and others, are prevalent in today’s society, not only in India but other countries throughout the world. In the telling of this memoir they all have a place.

As we journey with Ajay on the adventure which is his life, we travel to other parts of Mumbai and then farther afield, to the USA when he is accepted into Arizona State University. However, even when he lives in America he is still very much in touch with his family and friends in India, and he loves to visit his beloved Mumbai to catch up with them and watch cricket of course!

In this interesting book, Indian culture, taboos, traditions, food, cricket, and many other things are brought alive by the author, and through his writing we celebrate the amazingly vibrant city which is Mumbai.


About the Author:

Ajay Kaul is an engineering manager, writer, and blogger based out of Orange County, California. His work led to him spending a significant amount of time in the city of Mumbai, India, and his stories in Mumbai Matinee show the many different sides of the colorful city.

Kaul received his degree in engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee, and his master’s degree in business administration from the Thunderbird School of Global Management. He loves traveling and studying world history.

About the Book:

Ajay doesn’t know what to expect when he moves to the bustling city of Mumbai. He himself hails from North India, and the culture shock of the dynamic city takes a bit of getting used to. He’s captivated, though, and Ajay falls in love with the colorful metropolis and its many inhabitants. In the city, he will find love, friendship, and community—but also danger and the threat of disaster.

It all begins in 1993, when Ajay comes to Mumbai on a short internship assignment. He is caught in the shock wave of the 1993 serial bombings. Despite this brush with death, Ajay is determined to learn the secrets of the city.

After graduation, he comes back and finds new stories in the city’s streets. Ajay meets an interfaith couple who teach him about the power of love, a local labor leader who is more than he seems, and a dynamic acting teacher who could become something more. He also suffers another close call more than a decade after the bombings. Still, for every troubling experience, there’s one that pushes Ajay beyond his comfort zone and spurs him to embrace all his adopted city has to offer.

Available from Amazon in Paperback

and Kindle format


Barnes & Noble in Paperback



Surprise in Auntie’s Garden! by Ann Morris


Erin makes a wonderful discovery in her auntie’s garden.









This beautiful book is a wonderful way to teach children about nature, and the main characters in it are the author and her niece and God-daughter Erin.

Erin and her auntie have shared a special enjoyment of the garden since Erin was a baby, when looking at the lovely flowers settled her.

.A little older now, Erin discovers a ‘worm,’ and quickly calls her auntie over take a look. There sitting on some milkweed is not in fact a worm but a caterpillar, and the milkweed is its food.

Eagerly they look at the bright and colorful caterpillar and wonder which sort is it.

Well, when they look it up, and find out, they are so excited! What’s more, they learn that the milkweed, although a weed in human eyes, is very important to the caterpillar, indeed, the reason it can be so brightly colored, is because it eats it!

As the summer goes on, and autumn sends the butterflies to their winter feeding ground, Erin’s caterpillar remains, yet it has changed into something else.

What could it be, and why isn’t it a butterfly yet?

Well through Erin’s experience, children learn that that circle of life, and evolution can take time. It is the following spring before Erin and her auntie finally watch a beautiful young butterfly emerge and spread its wings for the first time. However the wait is worth it because the butterfly it becomes is one of the most beautiful and well known.

To discover which type it is, you will have to read this beautiful story with its bright and wonderful illustrated by Heather Varkarokas.

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. I read it with my granddaughter and the look of wonderment on her face was priceless. I am sure it will be a firm favourite for many years to come. Highly recommended.

About the Author:









Ann Morris lived most of her school days in Humboldt, Iowa, USA. She graduated from Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, which included over a year of living and studying in Pamplona, Spain, where she attended la Universidad de Navarra.

Morris has loved to write since she was young, inspired by her mother. In different capacities through work and volunteering, she realized that there was a need for healthy learning stories for children that would also have a message for any adult sharing those books with them.

Ms. Morris remains in Iowa, where she has dedicated her talents to writing children’s books in English under the name of Ann Morris and a Spanish version of the same story under her Spanish name of Ana Morris. She also writes poetry and was published as early as ten and twelve years of age through a children’s magazine called Wee Wisdom.

She is equally proficient in English and Spanish and visible in the city of Des Moines, Iowa. She champions various minority causes, especially those that involve education. Her contribution in two languages serves a dual purpose. It provides reading material and positive interaction potential for young readers of each native language and it provides a reading challenge for those learning the other language.

She has participated in many author fairs and readings, has read to and addressed numerous elementary and junior high school students, which she enjoys dearly.

Her ultimate goal is to provide a positive adult role model for a curious child and a learning experience, which may be a learning process or a new outlook for the child in the story.

Mommy and Mikel Go for a Walk/Mikel y Mami dan un paseo was her first pair of books released by AuthorHouse Publishing. It has been republished by Mascot Books and is a wonderful improvement to the original.

Her second pair, illustrated by Heather Varkarotas, was published by Mascot Books. Surprise in Auntie’s Garden!/¡Sorpresa en el jardín de la tía! adheres to the same goal as her first pair.

Her third pair, recently released, Everything Is Different/Todo es distinto is illustrated by Melissa Wright and deals with a young boy from the USA visiting the UK with his father. She has several more books in various stages of drafts, editing, and rewriting the Spanish version.


About the Book:

Surprise in Auntie’s Garden!/¡Sorpresa en el jardín de la tía! is Ms Morris’ most recent publication. The digital illustrations are by Heather Varkarotas, a children’s author in her own right. Auntie ̣(the author) and her niece Erin spend much time observing Auntie’s flower garden. One day, Erin discovers a colorful “worm” in the garden, which turns out to be a Monarch caterpillar. Auntie shows Erin how to use the Internet to learn what the caterpillar is and to see it’s life cycle. It is a book of discovery, of learning, of beauty, of adult-child bonding, and of learning how to find information.

Surprise in Auntie’s garden in available from Amazon in Hardcover

and Kindle format;


and Barnes & Noble in Hardcover

and as a NOOK Book



Surprise in Auntie’s Garden!

Este libro bello presenta una manera magnífica de enseñarles a niños sobre la naturaleza, y los protagonistas principales del libro son la autora y su sobrina y ahijada, Erin.

Erin y su tía comparten un gusto especial del jardín desde que Erin era bebé, cuando al mirar las flores bonitas le calmaba.

Un poco mayor ya, Erin descubre un «gusano», y rápidamente llama a su tía para que lo vea. Allá en el algodoncillo hay, no un gusano sino en realidad una oruga, y el algodoncillo es su comida.

Con curiosidad, miran la oruga de colores vivos y se preguntan ¿a ver qué tipo será?

Bueno, cuando lo buscan y se enteran, ¡se quedan entusiasmadas! Aún más, aprenden que el algodoncillo, aunque sea hierba mala del punto de vista de los humanos, es muy importante para la oruga, hasta ¡el hecho de que pueda ser de tantos colores vivos, porque lo come!

Al pasar el verano, y el otoño les manda a las mariposas a su tierra invernal de comer, la oruga de Erin se queda, aunque se ha cambiado en otra cosa.

¿Qué pudiera ser? y ¿Por qué no es mariposa ya?

Bueno, por la experiencia de Erin, los niños aprenden que el círculo de la vida, y la evolución cuestan tiempo. Es la primavera siguiente antes de que Erin y su tía por fin observan que una mariposa hermosa emerge y se extiende las alas por la primera vez. De todos modos, la espera merece la pena, pues la mariposa que sale es una de las más bellas y bien conocidas.

Para descubrir qué tipo es, tendrás que leer este cuento bonito con los dibujos estupendos y de colores vivos de Heather Varkarokas.

Recibí una copia de este libro de la autora de intercambio por una crítica sincera. La leí con mi nieta y fue de lo que no se puede expresar la mirada de maravilla que apareció en su cara. Estoy segura de que será favorito definitivamente durante los muchos años que llegan. Altamente recomendido. Tapa dura



Absurdimals: Lola Goes to School by Gwendolyn Javor


Lola the Belephant says be different, be an Aburdismal!

The author of this amazing children’s book, Gwendolyn Javor is on a mission, and the mission is to reach out to children and through her wonderful storytelling teach them that it is okay to be different. Her passion for the subject has led to the birth of the amazing Absurdimals.

So what are Absurdimals? Well, they are animals who are a mixture of two others, like Lola, the Belephant who is the star of this, the first book in the series. Lola is half bunny and half elephant and this makes her very special, as we can see through the beautiful illustrations of Melissa Spears.

Today is a very special day for Lola, she is very excited because she is going to school for the very first time.

At school she realises they are many different types of animals, but none like her. Rejected by the others because she is different, her happiness turns to sadness as she is told firmly that she is absurd, and just doesn’t fit in.

However, wise Principal Hooves comes to the rescue, he sees her distress and gently explains that people call absurd those things which they don’t understand, or which are different. He shows her examples of things which seemed absurd years ago but which are accepted now, and explains that deep down all animals are the same.

Emboldened by the principal’s words Lola goes back to school the next day determined to embrace who she is. When the other animals see that she is proud of this, and courageous enough to stand by it, they realise that she is right, and that it is okay to be different. Which is good because they are all about to meet some more, very different new friends.

This book contains in its lovely story important messages to children which will help them to gain self-confidence in themselves, and be more understanding when they meet others who are not the same as they are.

About the Author:









Gwendolyn Javor was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary. After attending university and law school in New York City, she realized that practicing was not her life’s purpose. Instead, she began working on projects focused on promoting love and acceptance of individuality. The idea of helping others learn to cherish their uniqueness became her passion that soon developed into a mission. Inspired by paintings she made in high school, she saw an opportunity to share her message with children; and so, the Absurdimals were born. Gwendolyn believes in the goodness of children, and in their power to make for a better tomorrow. It is her hope that with the help of the Absurdimals, we can teach children to appreciate and respect one another, regardless of differences, while learning to love themselves, absurdities and all.

About the Book:

The Absurdimals are a group of hybrid animals here to shake up our perception of normal! They represent the changing faces of our society and encourage children to embrace individuality. In this book, Lola the Belephant goes to school for the first time and finds out she’s not quite the same as the other animals. After feeling like an outsider, Lola learns that there is no such thing as being too different, there is only new-different. In accepting and loving herself for who she is, Lola inspires other “normal” animals to come forward, and embrace their own perceived absurdities, too!

Absurdimals: Lola Goes to School is available from amazon in Paperback

and Kindle format