Announcing No-Fee November Book Contest special

 

2018-BookContest-graphic-NoFeeNov-web.pngIf you haven’t entered the 2018 Write Place Book Contest yet, ramp up your writing and get the job done this month! For the entire month of November, we are waiving the contest entry fee.

When submitting your manuscript, follow the instructions on how to enter—but skip the entry fee step! Remember, we are accepting entries through December 15, 2017. The Book Contest winner will receive free publication of their manuscript as both a print book and an e-book. Up to nine finalists will be offered a choice of a $200 discount on the quoted publication cost of their manuscript or a $200 discount on the creation of an author website.

You can find the 2018 Book Contest entry form, submission guidelines, and rules here. If you have any other questions, please email bookcontest@thewriteplace.biz.

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10 tips for writing a star manuscript

book-contest-2018

As you may have heard, the Write Place Book Contest will return in 2018!

Every two years, we invite authors across the country to submit their manuscripts to us. Our team of judges reads them and awards one deserving author with free publication of his or her manuscript as a print and e-book.

This time around, we’ll be accepting manuscripts from August 1, 2017-December 15, 2017. Even though that winter deadline may seem far away, it’s always a good idea to get a head start on a writing project. So, to help all you authors out there get started on a new book project or polish an existing one, I’ve put together this list of 10 tips for writing a star manuscript.

Tip #1: Write a book you want to read

As you write, make sure to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. When you read a book, what hooks your attention and entices you to keep reading?

Also, be sure to pick a topic you feel passionately about. As Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” If you love your story, it will shine through and make your writing stronger.

Tip #2: Make a game plan

Before you get started, jot down a brief summary of your book. Keep it short, but be sure you cover the central conflict and its resolution. From there, draft a rough outline of events. Along the way, make note of any particular scenes you want to include. When you’re finished, you’ll have a timeline of events to use as a roadmap for your manuscript.

Tip #3: Lock down your character list

Whether you’re reviewing a complete manuscript or drafting a new one, creating a detailed character list or family tree will help you keep track of who’s who in your story. Be sure to include details like character ages, physical descriptions, relationships, and name spellings. These details are easy to forget or accidentally change. Having a character guide handy will help you guard against those mistakes.

Tip #4: Flex your cartography skills

To keep track of the places your characters visit, sketch out a map of your setting. You’ll get a clearer picture of the world you’ve created, plus you may end up catching errors or inconsistencies.

Tip #5: Establish a writing routine

One of the best ways to stay on track while writing a book is to set a regular writing routine. What time of day do you feel most inspired? Are you a pen-and-paper author, or do you prefer your laptop? What about location? Do you like writing at home, at coffee shops, at the library?

Once you’ve nailed down those details, commit to blocking out a certain amount of time each day or week to devote to your project and stick to it!

Tip #6: Join a writing group

Feedback is a crucial part of the writing process, and local writing groups are a great way to test your book and get live reader feedback. They’re also a great source of inspiration, motivation, and accountability. There are writing groups all across the country. Do a little Google research today to find the one nearest you!

Tip #7: Don’t fear writers’ block

Every author experiences writers’ block, so don’t get discouraged if you find yourself in a slump! Try stepping away from your book for a day or two. Sometimes the best ideas come when you’re doing something other than writing. If that doesn’t work, try talking out the problem with friends, family members, or fellow writers who are familiar with your book. They might just have the key to unlocking the next chapter.

And the absolute best thing about writers’ block? It always passes!

Tip #8: Silence your inner editor

When working on a new manuscript, it can be very tempting to go back and “fix” what you’ve already written. Resist! This will stall your progress and keep you from meeting your deadline. If your inner editor had its way, you would spend hours and hours rewriting what you’ve already done rather than advancing your story.

Remember: your job is to write a finished manuscript. So don’t worry about tweaking your prose or perfecting your dialogue just yet! (That’s what second drafts are for.) Instead, focus on telling the story from beginning to end. Once you’ve done that, feel free to set that inner editor loose!

Tip #9: Read, read, read

William Faulkner once said, “Read, read, read . . . Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write.” Sometimes, other authors are the best source of inspiration. Get your hands on as many books as you can. Immerse yourself in the genre you’ve chosen to write. Study the conventions of the genre and think about them critically. Discover what you like and dislike. You’ll be a stronger writer for it.

Tip #10: Have fun!

Writing a book is a journey—one that is, admittedly, full of ups and downs. But in the end, there’s no feeling in the world like the sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with putting down your pen or hitting “Save” for the final time. So as you write, make sure you take some time to step back and enjoy the ride!

 

Feeling inspired? I hope so! Remember, the Write Place will begin accepting entries for the 2018 Book Contest on August 1. If you have any questions about the contest, please visit our website or email bookcontest@thewriteplace.biz.

 

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Megalobibliophobia, Part II (Writers’ Edition)

writing-table

In January, we tackled the topic of “megalobibliophobia” (the fear of large books). Specifically, we covered some helpful tips and strategies for reading a long, intimidating book. But as I wrote, I had an epiphany: many of the same fears that come with reading a long book also apply to writing a long book. So, as promised, here it is: “Megalobibliophobia, Part II (Writers’ Edition).”

Most authors ask two questions at the start of every new project: How do I go about writing this book? and Will anyone read it?

These questions become even more daunting when you have a gut feeling your book is going to be . . . long. Suddenly, you have to worry about organizing tens if not hundreds of thousands of words into a coherent whole without getting overwhelmed. You need to keep your characters, settings, and timeline of events straight. And, somehow, you need to stay steady and motivated through it all.

It’s not easy, but it can be done! If you’ve got an idea for a long book, I’ve put together a few tips on getting started, staying motivated, and seeing your project through from page one to the end.

Make a game plan

One of the trickiest things about writing a long book is making a clear game plan. Before diving in to Chapter One, you need to prepare by making sure you have a thorough understanding of the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story you’re telling.

Start by writing a brief summary of your book’s premise. Keep it short, maybe four or five sentences, but be sure you cover the inciting incident of the story, its central conflict, and its resolution. From there, draft a rough outline of events that will carry you from that inciting incident (Point A) all the way to the conclusion (Point B). Along the way, make note of any particular scenes you want to include. When you’re finished, you’ll have a timeline of events to use as a roadmap for your manuscript.

If your story includes a large cast of characters, you may also want to create a detailed character list or family tree to help keep track of them. Sketching out a map of your setting can also be helpful, especially if your story is geographically complex.

Once these tools are in place, you’re ready to start drafting!

Establish a writing routine

One of the best ways to stay on track during any writing project is to set a regular writing routine that complements you and works with your schedule. Are your creative vibes strongest in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening? Do you like writing at home, or are you more of a wanderer? Do you prefer a laptop or pen and paper? How much time can you commit to writing each day?

Once you find the writing niche that enlivens your creative spirit, commit to blocking out a certain amount of time each day or week to your project. You’ll be amazed at how much progress you make, no matter the length of the book.

Set manageable goals

At the start of a writing project, it can be very tempting to think, Oh sure, I bet I can write three, four, maybe even five chapters a day! When you’re excited, your project is new, and your motivation is at its peak, it’s easy to imagine sitting down and whipping out your manuscript in record time.

Yet, the painful reality is that at some point, especially if you’re tackling a long and complicated subject, you will experience writer’s block. There will be days when you sit down at your desk and stare at a blank screen or page without a clue of where to go next. The important thing to remember is that all writers experience slumps like this, and they do pass eventually.

There will also be days when, no matter how hard you try to sit down and follow your writing schedule, life gets in the way. Don’t let frustration set in—life happens! If you aren’t able to return to your regular schedule after things settle down, work to find a new writing schedule that fits..

The moral of the story is that while goals are great for keeping you motivated and productive, they must be realistic and achievable. There’s nothing more discouraging than consistently missing your goal.

So don’t beat yourself up if you do happen to fall short; instead, concentrate on the progress that you did make. And, pat yourself on the back and celebrate the days when you exceed your goal!

Join a writing group

When it comes to writing, two, three, four, or five heads are almost always better than one. One thoughtful comment can break through writer’s block or spark the key idea you’ve been searching for to complete your book.

Sometimes, we can get this feedback from close friends or family members, but local writing groups are another great resource for testing your book and getting authentic feedback. Writing groups are also a great source of inspiration and motivation. Your fellow members will help keep you accountable to your writing goals and provide moral support when you find yourself in a writing rut. There are writing groups all across the country; do a little research today to find the one nearest you!

Partner with a professional editor

When your manuscript has made it through this gauntlet, partnering with an editor is often the next step toward publication. A good editor will offer a fresh perspective and can catch the little details that you, as the creative engine behind the project, may not have been in the right frame of mind to catch. At the Write Place, we offer several levels of editing to fit each author’s budget and preferences.

Writing a book is hard; at times it can seem almost impossible task, especially when you find yourself writing a particularly long book. However, in spite of the challenges, it can also be a rich and rewarding experience. So don’t be afraid to become the author of a 500+- page book! With planning, determination, and support from friends, family, and fellow writers, you can make it happen.

 


“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” – Ray Bradbury


 

Photo credit:

“The Chipped Table of Dakar,” – noodlepie, http://www.flickr.com/photos/87585644@N00/9817006646, via http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

 

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Megalobibliophobia (the fear of large books)

War_and_Peace

Tolstoy’s War & Peace is 1,296 pages long, weighs over 3 pounds, and contains 587,287 words.

Okay, maybe I made up the term “megalobibliophobia.” But the fear of reading large books is very real!

Take for example those “big books” sitting on your shelves at home. You know the ones I’m talking about: 500-plus pages, impressive-looking covers, never-been-cracked spines. In my library, that book is War & Peace. I have every intention of reading it . . . someday. This will be the year, I always promise. And yet there it sits—all 1,296 pages of it—unread.

There’s just something very intimidating about a hefty book. You worry that it’ll take you weeks, months, maybe even a full year to get through it. What if you get bored? What if you don’t understand what’s going on? What if you reach page 700 and forget what happened 300 pages ago? What if your eye begins to wander to the other, shorter books on your shelves? Is all this work even worth your time?

Well, despite my reluctance to take on Tolstoy’s masterpiece, there’s a reason that David Copperfield by Charles Dickens (768 pages) and The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss (respectively weighing in at 736 and 1,321 pages) hold places of honor on my bookshelf. Daunting as they looked at first glance, these books drew me into their worlds as I read page after page after page. I spent so much time with them that they feel more like dear friends than massive piles of paper, ink, and glue.

So, if there’s a big book in your life you feel intimidated by but you have a sneaking suspicion might be worth the effort, here are a few tips for getting started and staying motivated to read!

Copperfield

My favorite scene from David Copperfield: David “makes himself known” to his Aunt, Betsey Trotwood

Make a schedule

Blocking out 20-30 minutes of reading time a day or setting manageable goals like reading a certain number of pages a week is a great way to tackle a hefty book. I first tried this technique with David Copperfield by setting a goal of reading 100 pages per week. By following that schedule, I knew I could make it to the finish line in less than two months, which was a great motivator. Sticking to it felt a little bit like a chore at first, but by the second or third week I was so engrossed in the story that I exceeded my weekly goal on a few occasions.

Hide the page numbers

If the visual part of reading a long book is putting you off, try using an e-reader. It’s portable, and it takes away the temptation to count exactly how many pages you have to go. Some e-readers even give you the option of turning off the page counter.

Take notes

If the plot of your book is complex and you worry about losing track of characters or important plot points, try making a character list, family tree, or timeline as you read. These tools can help you keep the who, what, when, where, and why of your book straight.

If that sounds too much like homework, try searching online. Sites like SparkNotes can be a great resource for character lists and chapter summaries. If it’s a long book, I guarantee that somebody, somewhere has published a reader’s guide online.

Find a book buddy

Is there someone you know who’s interested in reading the same book? Or perhaps several someones? Creating your own book club is a great way to stay motivated and engaged in reading a long book. You can set goals together and discuss the plot, characters, and what you think is going to happen next. Plus, book club meetings are a great excuse to grab a coffee with your friends!

Take a break

This tip can be dangerous, but if you’re really struggling with a book, try taking a break to read something else. A short break can refresh your brain and renew your motivation. Just be sure to make a commitment to come back to your big book by a certain date if you are truly committed to finishing it.

 

Reading a long book can certainly be an adventure. There may be times when you can’t put it down, and there may be times when you feel tempted to give it up altogether. But no matter what happens on the journey, there is no denying the sense of accomplishment that you’ll feel when you finally reach THE END.

Do you have a big book we should make sure we add to our reading lists? Want to know our team’s favorite big books? Head to our Facebook page!

 


“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C.S. Lewis


 

P.S. As I was writing this blog post, I realized that a lot of the fears that go along with reading a big book also apply to writing a big book. So, stay tuned for “Megalobibliophobia, Part II (the fear of writing big books)”!

Photo credits:

“War and Peace” – Sarah Elizabeth Altendorf, July 7, 2011, http://www.flickr.com/photos/46732441@N06/5917704508, via http://photopin.com, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/, accessed January 9, 2017.

“I make myself known to my Aunt” – Hablot Knight Browne, 1849, http://charlesdickenspage.com/illustrations-david_copperfield.html, accessed January 9, 2017.

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Bestow On Us Your Grace – Chapter One

Tomorrow is the day! Join us at Thistles in Pella from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. to celebrate the release of Bestow On Us Your Grace with Jean De Vries and the Write Place team. You’ll also be able to grab other Write Place titles—our entire inventory is on sale just in time for the holidays!

To get you excited to pick up your signed copy of Bestow On Us Your Grace, here’s a sneak peek of the first chapter of the book!

 

Mary leaned far over the table, stretching to place the bowl of steaming mashed potatoes in the center. Footsteps sounded on the wraparound porch just moments before the screen door screeched its own announcement, then slammed shut. Following closely behind, louder thudding footsteps sounded against the floor boards and the door screeched open again. Her young daughters quickly finished setting the silverware on the dining room table and sat down, looking so small in the high-backed chairs. The sound of boots being peeled off and thumping to the floor was soon followed by water splashing down over what she knew would be dirty hands and forearms.

She stood upright when Daniel came in the room, his face already smiling above his beard, his eyes glancing from the table to her and meeting her gaze. Even after all these years, she found it impossible not to smile back into his dancing eyes, crinkled at the corners. Caleb slipped quietly behind his father and sat eagerly in his place between the wide window and the table that stretched along it. Mary was giving Caleb a disapproving look as he pulled the platter of fried chicken close to him when she saw a shadow fall across the table. Silas walked around behind her, his silhouette stretching far across the kitchen and into the living room.

She watched him lower into the ladder-back chair across from Caleb and shook her head in wonder. It never ceased to amaze her how one day they went from looking so small, as four-year-old Anna Mae did now, to growing up so quickly that they towered over their parents. All of her sons had passed her up. Three of them now stood every bit as tall as or taller than their father’s six feet. Only Caleb still looked up to speak to Daniel, though it wouldn’t be long before even that would change. At the age of fourteen, he was following in his brothers’ large footsteps.

Mary turned to Amy, her eldest daughter, as she set the plate of freshly sliced bread on the table and took her place next to Caleb. Mary quickly sat and looked across the table to where Daniel was waiting. With a nod, they dropped their heads simultaneously in silent prayer. At her husband’s intake of breath, their heads raised and Caleb began eagerly filling his plate.

She’d heard of some Amish families who ate in silence, spending their mealtime eating instead of talking. But she’d always been thankful for Daniel’s love of storytelling and conversation. The chatter around their table whenever they were gathered was boisterous and lively. Though there were many times she had to remind the little ones to keep eating, she’d never minded much. The reward was hearing about their day and getting a window into their minds and hearts. Tonight, the discussion was about the frogs Caleb had discovered down at the creek that afternoon. It wasn’t long before he had his three sisters excited about a trip to the creek after supper. Silas, ever the quiet one, listened and smiled at their excitement but said little. Nothing unusual there. His older brothers, David and Michael, had been and were still so unlike him. Silas was an ocean of perfectly still water while they were bubbling brooks.

Anna Mae and Shelby Jo were bouncing in their chairs while Caleb quickly shoveled mouthfuls of sour cream chocolate cake into his mouth. With a smile and a nod from Daniel, their chairs scraped back across the floor and four of her children went racing outside. Even seventeen-year-old Amy followed, the bottoms of her bare feet flashing white beneath her dark blue skirt as she ran. Silas calmly sat and slowly ate his dessert. “Joseph King was asking me why you haven’t been at the Singings lately,” Daniel said to Silas, who was seated close to him.

Mary stood and quietly worked at clearing off the table and doing the dishes. Her ears were carefully tuned to listen for Silas’s response. They needn’t have been. He gave none.

“Yer brothers were building houses and planning weddings by your age,” Daniel said with a smile. It could have been taken as a cruel statement, but Daniel’s easy way and gentle smile showed his lighthearted intention.

Silas simply stared at the patterns in the wood grain of the handmade table in front of him and shrugged.

David and Michael had both taken wives at the age of twenty. Silas would be twenty-one within the week. Certainly not a cause for concern but for the fact that he did not seem at all interested in such an endeavor. For the past several months he hadn’t even been going to Singings on Sunday nights, as was typical for single boys his age. It was how the Amish young people socialized and found marriage partners. That Silas wouldn’t go was…a puzzle to her.

Daniel was undeterred by Silas’s lack of conversation. “Joseph’s daughter, Emily, seems a nice young woman. She’s about your age, isn’t she?”

Silas only nodded. Though now, Mary observed, he looked visibly uncomfortable. Mary knew Emily King. And though she was nearly twenty years old, she was still unattached and a sweet girl. Emily was a fine baker, famous for her coffee cakes, and Mary had noticed at several quilting frolics how fine her stitching was. She had a quiet, gentle, and shy way about her, much like Silas. She’d make a gut Amish wife.

“Oh well, perhaps she’ll wait for our Caleb,” Daniel teased and smiled at Mary. She watched as Silas’s mouth tried to grin, but he gave up. Silas caught her watching him and quickly averted his gaze out the window.

“Perhaps Silas has his sights set on someone else,” Mary lightly reminded Daniel.

Daniel turned his gaze back to Silas, his brow raised in a question.

“No,” Silas answered.

“Amy would appreciate yer going to Singings again. She doesn’t like to drive herself, especially when it’s a long ways,” Mary encouraged.

Silas was again silent, staring out the window with a determined
set to his face.

“Speaking of Amy, I should go down to the creek and fetch her and the children back. They and their muddy, frog-filled pockets.” Daniel winked at Mary. His boots made loud, slow stomping sounds down the front porch steps. Silas stood to follow him.

“You’d like being married, Silas,” Mary called to him, stopping him at the door. “Someone to help ya with yer work. Someone to talk to, raise a family with.”

She watched his shoulders rise and fall in a silent sigh. “Yes, Mama,” he said without turning to face her. Mary watched Silas walk slowly away to the refuge of his workshop.

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Bestow On Us Your Grace – Prologue

There are less than two weeks to go until the book signing for our 2016 Book Contest winner by Jean De Vries! To tide you over until December 3, here is a sneak peek at the prologue of Bestow On Us Your Grace. Check back on December 2 for an exclusive look at Chapter One!

Prologue

Kirsten stood in the doorway of her mother’s room, barely able to make out the shape of her body huddled beneath the blankets. Despite the dark, it was only 6:30 in the evening, the winter sun having gone down an hour ago. Kirsten listened and was relieved to hear only the sound of her mother’s quiet breathing. Last night her mother had woken her with her sobbing, and Kirsten had crawled into her parents’ bed, wrapping her eight–year-old arms around her mother. Suddenly, strangely, their roles had been reversed.

She turned from the door and went to the dark living room, picking up an overdue library book and flicking on the lamp beside the couch. She grabbed a box of cereal out of the cupboard and sat down, crunching through the Fruit Loops as she slowly turned the illustrated pages. Turning on the television was out of the question. Nothing was worth waking her mother. Even worse was the pain of watching commercials and sitcoms full of happy children with their fathers.

A strange clattering outside brought Kirsten to the living room window. No headlights or sound of an engine. Only the black form of a horse shifting slightly, a shadowy buggy behind it. The doorbell’s piercing chime startled her, even though she was expecting it. Ever since that police officer rang the doorbell just days ago, the sound had become an ominous source of fear. Kirsten’s mother shuffled around the corner and turned robotically to the door, her face void of expression. It was either all emotion or none the past few days.

“Hello, Mary.” Her mom’s voice sounded hollow and wooden as she stood in the doorway, one hand still clutching the doorknob for support. Kirsten silently stepped beside her and wrapped her arm around her mother’s leg, staring wide-eyed at a woman in a long dress who was standing on their front step holding a covered basket.

“Elizabeth,” the bonnet-headed woman said, blinking slowly. “We are so very sorry for yer loss.”

Her mother nodded. Why was she nodding? Daddy wasn’t lost. Kirsten knew precisely where he was. In a hole in the ground at the cemetery in town.

Kirsten’s mother accepted the basket from the woman. She’d seen others dressed like her before, of course. They lived all around. In fact, it was Kirsten and her family who were the oddity in this particular area of the county.

The woman turned to look for a long moment at Kirsten, who stared back up at her. Kirsten saw there the same expression all the grown-ups gave her lately. No one smiled at her anymore.

“May you find comfort and strength in the Lord,” the woman said, turning her attention slowly back to Kirsten’s mother.

“Thank you,” Elizabeth mumbled. Kirsten could feel her mother’s leg tremble and gripped tighter. Slowly, Elizabeth shut the door and turned to stumble back toward her room, pulling away from Kirsten’s grasp. She carelessly dropped the basket in the middle of the living room floor. Kirsten went to watch out the window as the woman climbed back into the buggy. The horse started forward in a slow circle and left the yard.

“Mom?” she said, turning to see that Elizabeth had nearly reached the doorway to her room. “Why don’t they drive a car?”

Her mother stopped and spoke over her shoulder. “They don’t have one.”

“Why not?”

“They’re Amish.”

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Interview with an author: Victoria Laird

LairdCover-webIn Retrieving Adventures! Lincoln and Nicholas Go to Alaska, the latest children’s book by author Victoria Laird, two Golden Retriever brothers travel to Alaska and have many exciting adventures. In this interview, Victoria discusses her favorite children’s illustrators, what makes Golden Retrievers so great, and much more. Retrieving Adventures! can be purchased at the Write Place online bookstore or from the author’s website.

Tell us a little about your background as an artist. What mediums do you work in? How did you develop your skills? What is your favorite subject matter and why?

I primarily work in pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, and pen, although I occasionally work in oil or acrylics on canvas. I have a BS in art from West Liberty State University 1977, with a minor in journalism. I have been selling my portrait art since 1971 and teaching art most of my life. I have been teaching at William Penn University since January 1992. Demonstrating art techniques and helping students with their projects has also helped me figure out new techniques. My favorite subject matter is animals of all types, but I also paint people, flowers, and landscapes.

Is this the first children’s book you’ve created?

No, I wrote and illustrated children’s books back in the 1980s, but they were mostly written for my children. I loved reading books to my four children, and loved good illustrations. To me the pictures are a huge part of what makes a children’s book a success. I illustrated children’s books for author Dr. Nancy Frakes in the 1990s. A natural foods cookbook I wrote and illustrated, America’s Favorites, Naturally, was published by Melius and Peterson Publishing in 1986.

Did you have to teach yourself to write for children, or did it come naturally? If research was involved, how did you go about it?

I think writing and illustrating came naturally after reading hundreds, probably thousands of children’s books to my kids. Some books could be read daily and always were wonderful with beautiful, colorful illustrations. I loved illustrations by Jan Brett, Maurice Sendak, William Steig, and others. I did take creative writing classes in college, but mostly I wanted to write stories that made children smile, giggle, imagine, and feel optimistic about life.

The two Golden Retrievers who are the stars of this book are based on your own pets. How long have you had Golden Retrievers, and what do you particularly like about the breed?

We have four Golden Retrievers, getting our first in 2003. My husband and I have owned dogs our entire lives, of assorted breeds, but the Golden’s temperament seems to us to be uniquely wonderful. They are very intuitive, very easy to train, love to please, and make wonderful therapy dogs. When they look into your eyes, it feels like they connect in a soulful way, unlike any other breed we have owned.

Why did you choose Alaska as the setting for your book?

We took a trip to Alaska in 2010, which had been a lifelong dream of mine. I enjoy painting places and animals I find beautiful, and Alaska is an incredibly scenic place with such diverse wildlife, it seemed the best place to start. All the illustrations are based on photos that I took. Lake Keomah in Iowa is also featured on the last illustration of the book, as we have beauty here as well.

What’s in store next for Lincoln and Nicholas?

In 2016, they will take a trip to Africa, again chosen for the beauty and diversity of wildlife there. A friend of mine, Bob Barnes, has graciously granted me permission to use his African photography to base my illustrations on. In the years to come the brothers will visit Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, the rain forest, Scandinavia, and many more places I hope.

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