Showing posts with label middle grade. Show all posts
Showing posts with label middle grade. Show all posts

Friday, July 31, 2020

PINTO! by M.J. Evans

Join us for this tour from July 27 to August 7, 2020!

Book Details:

Book Title:  PINTO! Based Upon the True Story of the Longest Horseback Ride in History by M.J. Evans

Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  243 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Dancing Horse Press

Release date:   October, 2019

Content Rating:  G. This
book is taken from the actual journals that were kept by the men on the
journey. There is no bad language or explicit scenes.

Book Description:

In 1912, four men, calling themselves the “Overland Westerners,” decided fame and fortune awaited if they embarked on the longest horseback ride in history. Their goal was to visit all forty-eight state capitals over the course of three years and complete their journey at the San Francisco World’s Fair on June 1, 1915. Facing rugged roads, raging rivers, thieves and near starvation, the men went through seventeen horses. Only one horse completed the entire journey…Pinto, a little horse with a heart as big as the whole country! This is Pinto’s account of his arduous adventure.


Book Details:

Book Title:  In the Heart of a Mustang by M.J. Evans

Category:  YA Fiction (Ages 13-17),  359 pages

Genre: Contemporary Coming of Age

Publisher:  Dancing Horse Press

Release date:   October, 2017

Format available for review:  print, mobi file (for Kindle), gifted Kindle copy, ePub, PDF, NetGalley download

Will send print books out:  USA

Tour dates: July 27 to August 7, 2020

Content Rating:  PG. Some suggested violence but not explicit

Book Description:

boy is told that his father was a brave and virtuous man, a soldier who
traded his life to save the lives of countless others. He was the man
that Hunter needed to emulate. The only problem is the whole story is a
lie, all of it. The truth, which Hunter discovers as he begins his
sophomore year of high school, is that his father has actually spent the
boy’s entire life in jail, paying his debt to society, but not mending
his ways. A wild mustang mare, is rounded up by the BLM. The spring
rains had been sparse, the forage on the plains even more so. The mare
and her herd are rescued from certain starvation and placed for
adoption. In a sandy corral at Promise Ranch, a home for troubled
teenage boys, the boy and the mare meet. A weathered, old cowboy brings
them together – a mentor for one, a trainer for the other. The bond that
forms between boy and horse becomes one that saves the lives of both.

Buy the Book: ~ B&N ~ Books-A-Million
Book Depository ~ IndieBound
Add to Goodreads

My Review:
Wow what a book. Yes this is a middle grade aged book but even this Grandma got into it. I love how M J Evans gives Pinto a voice. Pinto is a horse. This book is a true story that I have never heard of.  With the twist of giving you the story by the horses point of view
 you also get an account of a historical event that took place between 1912 and 1915 in the USA. This book is taken from the journals and community records such as newspapers. 

The story covered in the book is about 4 men who decide to cross the country stopping at the Capitals of 48 states and end up at the San Francisco Worlds Fair in 1915. Along the way they come across many hardships, weather, bandits, starvation, and more to complete the Longest Horse Ride in History.  Along the way all of the horses they rode on except Pinto were hanged out at different places. Pinto hung in there and is the only horse to complete the full journey of 3 years and 20,300 miles. 
Meet the Author:

Award-winning author M.J. Evans grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Upon graduation from Oregon State University, she spent five years
teaching high school and middle school students. She retired from
teaching to raise her five children. Mrs. Evans is a life-long
equestrian and enjoys competing in Dressage and riding in the beautiful
Colorado mountains. She has published fourteen books, most of which are

Interview with M.J. Evans :

1. Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story? This was a new writing experience for me as the story didn’t come out of my head. Rather, it is based upon a true story…the experience of others. It is a historical fiction mainly because it is told from the horse’s point of view. Nearly all of the events depicted in the story really happened. I had to create some filler when things were missing from the actual accounts related in the journals. For example, one newspaper article from the time said that a couple of horses died on the journey. Some journals are missing, but of those still in existence, the men made no mention of a horse dying. So, I made up the stories of one horse dying of colic (very common and believable,) and one dying of a rattlesnake bite. My vet gave me the details of how that would happen. So, to answer your question, the characters ran this story and Pinto just told it for the men.
2. Convince us why you feel your book is a must read. I think the lesson that people can take away from this story is what makes it so valuable. Too many of us just give up when things get hard or don’t go the way we want. The Overland Westerners never gave up. They carried on and actually completed the arduous task they began, seeing it through to the end. Yet they didn’t get the fame and fortune they expected. How would any of us have reacted? Probably not well. We can all learn from what they did even though they faced tremendous disappointment.
3. Have you written any other books that are not published? Well, if you count the book that is now in process, yes. However, I am just now awaiting the print proof on my next book: “Mr. Figgletoes’ Toy Emporium.” It is a fantasy for middle-grade. It is supposed to come out in October.
4. Pen or type writer or computer? When I am home, I compose on my computer. If I am traveling, I take along a legal pad and a pen.
5. Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? I want you to know that I appreciate the time you invest in reading my books and I try very hard to make your reading experience both enjoyable and inspiring. I want to leave something good in the world. Writing can be a lonely job, especially for an extrovert like me. So, when I get a letter (email) from you I am encouraged and motivated to keep going. I also appreciate those who take a few minutes to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Goodreads. Those reviews really help. 

A dog in a field

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Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter Facebook  ~ Pinterest Instagram ~ Goodreads
Tour Schedule:

July 27 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review of PINTO! / guest post / giveaway

July 27 - Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

July 27 - My Journey Back – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / guest post / giveaway

July 28 – Splashes of Joy – book review of PINTO! / author interview / giveaway

July 28 - She Just Loves Books – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

July 29 – Svetlanas reads and views – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

July 29 - Adventurous Bookworm – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

July 29 - Krisha's Cozy Corner - book review of PINTO! / author interview / giveaway

July 30 – Splashes of Joy – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / guest post / giveaway

July 30 - My Reading Journeys – book review of PINTO! / author interview / giveaway

July 31 – Literary Flits – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

July 31 - T's Stuff - book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

Aug 3 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

Aug 3 - T's Stuff - book review of PINTO! / author interview / giveaway

Aug 3 - My Journey Back – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

Aug 4 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

Aug 4 - She Just Loves Books – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

Aug 5 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

Aug 5 - Adventurous Bookworm – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

Aug 5 - My Reading Journeys – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

Aug 6 – A Mama's Corner of the World – book review of In the Heart of a Mustang / giveaway

Aug 6 - Blooming with Books - book review of PINTO! / giveaway

Aug 7 - Svetlanas reads and views – book review of PINTO! / giveaway

Enter the Giveaway:

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Blurb Blitz Dwarf Story by Professor W. W. Marplot

Dwarf Story
by Professor W. W. Marplot


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Professor W. W. Marplot will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

GENRE:   Middle Grade Fantasy

For Arty to miss a day of school, either he is very, very sick or a fairytale-character turf-war has begun in his backyard — such as what begins this particular Wednesday. First, he finds an ax-swinging, bearded, sweaty warrior Dwarf scaring his dogs. Soon enough, Emma, Cry and other middle-school friends also find fairy creatures — Elves, Spriggans, Pixies, and a hoped-for Dragon — crashing into their normal homework-doing, backpack-carrying, phone-charging schooldays.

Why are these magical beings here? What should be done? Is that axe sharp? Can Pixies be given aspirin?

Arty with his friends — and spying jerks, and questionable strangers with long names — follow the clues and try to find out, even as things turn dark and dangerous.

The mythical beings are taking sides. The Gwyllion, that legendary Old Woman of the Mountains, has a sinister plan, turning the neighborhood into a fantasy battleground. One that awaits young heroes.

Read an Excerpt

I can’t be sure about everything Arty just told you. I wasn’t there. Our stories will join soon, and it’ll be fun to see Professor Arty try to use black-and-white, Courier-font science facts to make sense of a fantasy realm character landscaping his backyard. He’ll have to admit that he’s just a kid and was awfully afraid during that whole Dwarf-in-the-woods episode, even though fear is not part of the “scientific method” that he brags about all the time. I’m much more normal than he is and much more unique at the same time. And more popular. So, my version will be different, more colorful, more alive, and more imaginative—which is the way fantastic things deserve to be treated. They need to be drawn, believed, written about in long poems.

Especially with what happened next...

About the Author: Professor Welkin Westicotter Marplot, of Coillemuir, Scotland, is a collector of esoteric tales of global wisdom and curator of ancient manuscripts. He is a recluse and, as he claims, has been collecting and collating adventure and fantasy stories for over a century.


Professor W. W. Marplot will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Grim and the Fantastic by Marissa Miller

The Grim and the Fantastic 
by Marissa Miller 
Genre: Children's / Middle Grade Fantasy 

The Grim and The Fantastic tells the story of Merton Clarke, and his journey battling a major illness, when a magical realm--filled with splendor and danger lurking in the shadows-- reveals itself to him. There, he must face some terrible beasts in a battle to rid himself of his sickness. Along the way, Merton makes two new friends who must fight their own monsters alongside him. If they can defeat their beasts from the realm in battle, just maybe, they will win the battle against their sickness in the real world too. Together, they test their limits, and their understanding of friendship, grief, bravery, and, above all, the power of hope.
A story of marvel, battles, and hardship, The Grim and the Fantastic takes a serious subject and seeks to breathe color back into the lives of those affected. The fantastical tale truly provides a whimsical place for children with troubles to escape to. 

The Grim and The Fantastic Chapter Three Excerpt

It was another stormy night in December, with rain hammering against the window, and
lightning flashes casting shadows around the hospital room where Merton lay.The shadows
appeared to snarl at Merton with dripping jaws ready to bite. He had his back pressed as far
back against his pillow as possible, his little hands gripping fiercely at his covers. He was alone
for the moment as his mother had gone to the cafeteria to get some coffee, and his father had
gone home to grab some of Merton’s things while he was in quarantine.
Merton closed his eyes and summoned up every ounce of energy he could muster to will
the scary shadows away. When he opened his eyes again he blinked a few times to try to make
sense of what he was seeing.The shadows were gone and the gray screen of rain drumming
against the windows had turned to drops of sparkling color bouncing softly against the glass—
not the least bit threatening. It looked magical. But, no matter how much Merton blinked and
rubbed his eyes, this time the color splashes beading down the window didn’t go away.
“Are they real?” He breathed to himself, throwing his legs over the edge of the mattress
and hopping out of bed to approach the window. The color continued to drip shining light in front
of his face. He reached out a hand and placed it against the inside of the glass, wishing he
could touch the water rolling down the outside.
“It’s pretty magnificent, isn’t it?”Merton whirled around at the sound of a voice behind
him. He looked up at the face of Doctor Jankins, standing in the doorway.
“You… you can see the color? I thought I was seeing things that aren’t there.
Hallucinating?” He scrunched up his nose in confusion, wrinkling his freckles as he did so.
“Yes, hallucinating is the word you’re looking for. But, I can assure you, that you aren’t
seeing a hallucination.”
“What is it, then? And what about the other splashes I saw?”
“I definitely noted what you were seeing when we first met, Merton. If you’d like to take a
seat, I would like to explain some things to you, now that we have your diagnosis confirmed,
and you’re officially an in-patient for treatment.”
“Um, ok, I suppose.” Merton agreed warily. He hopped back up onto his bed. “Should my
mom or dad be here for this if it’s medical information?”
“This information is a little different, and I’m afraid I am only permitted to share it with the
children.” Jankins answered, sitting in the recliner chair beside the bed. “Alright, this is going to
be a lot of information to take in. Are you sure you’re up to it?”
Merton glanced back at the colorful rain cascading down the windows and nodded. “Yes,
I can handle it.” He answered seriously.
“Well, Merton, first things first; all of the children always have a choice. There are two
options— two paths, if you will— that each child can choose to embark on.” Jankins began

Marissa Miller is an up and coming author, who has spent the last few years working on novels and children’s books. She currently resides in northern California with her husband, two little dogs (Alice and Diggory), and two cats (Burt and Winry). 

Miller has been an aspiring storyteller since she was a young girl and began more seriously pursuing the art of writing in her teens. After a happy accident with miscommunication in 2017, Miller began producing illustrations to accompany her work; she now attempts to incorporate in her illustrative style with all of her works. 

Miller’s first published work is the wonderfully imaginative children’s book, Chasing Figments. Following her picture book, Miller published an illustrated young reader’s book, The Grim and The Fantastic. Both books embody Miller’s brand, which is finding the splendor in one’s life, no matter the circumstance, and using imagination to overcome obstacles. 

Interview with Marissa Miller 

Who is your hero and why?
I know it might seem a little cliche to be a children’s book author, and then say how much I
admire Walt Disney, but it is very true. Since I was two-years-old, I have wanted to be a
storyteller in some way. Originally, I wanted to be a one-woman production team of my own
cartoon creator (writing, drawing, voicing, etc.), which was a career choice I had decided after
watching Disney movies. As I got older, that transitioned into writing and dreaming of being an
author. However, I still deeply admire the empire that Walt Disney built from the ground up, and
his trials and tribulations along the way are a reminder to me that even the greats had to start
somewhere, and not everything was smooth sailing along the way. I love watching all the
behind-the-scenes footage of the creative process behind the movies, like the inspiration/artwork,
storyboarding, machinery, and filming. Beyond that, the wonderful content that he and his
company created--- to foster such imagination and magic in the lives of countless children and
adults--- that is what I hope to be able to create and share with others someday.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
It took me a long time to feel like I could call myself a writer, even though I had been writing
since early childhood. I fell subject to that idea a lot of us get when we get in our own heads, and
think, “Who am I to think I deserve to call myself that?” Then, I had someone tell me that a
writer is someone who writes, an author is what a writer calls themself after publishing. After
that, it became easier to call myself a writer because it took a little of the self-imposed pressure
off. Once I published my first book, it was very surreal to finally say I am an author. I still
struggle with validating myself, but I try to focus on the fact that I have two children’s books
published (both written and illustrated by me), and no matter what, that is something to be proud
of myself for. I am a writer and I am an author, and I am pleased to be able to put little chunks of
my imagination out there for others to happen upon.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was in town visiting family, fast asleep in the guest room at my mom’s. I was dreaming, and, in
the dream, I was standing in a hospital. But, the walls and floor were breaking apart to spill away
to this gorgeous and magical place full of color and magic. There were these kind of blurry slow
motion actions taking place around me, and I remember either hearing, or just “knowing,” that
there were Cancer Beasts, and children who were Cancer Warriors. I woke up, at like 3 am, with
the very groggy thought that this was a story I needed to write, so I made a note in my phone
(that I still have) saying “Story Idea: hospital imaginary setting fighting the cancer beast,” and
went back to sleep. I came back to it later to create The Grim and The Fantastic.

Are these characters based on real-life or imagination?
The characters in this story are special to me because most of them have some form of homage to
someone in my life. Merton, the main character, is named and physically based on my late
grandfather. Cathy is named after my aunt who passed away from cancer a few years ago. Dr.
Jankins is a nod to an inside joke with my mom, and Dr. Jackson is named after my uncle. Dr.
Tes is a nod to a friend who allowed me access to her personal experiences to help authenticate
the story. Rosie’s character is one that I felt I connected with, myself. Lastly, I put my dog,
Alice, in the story just as she is. I got her when I was twelve after being very, very sick and she
helped/still helps bring some light back into my life.

How did you come up with the name of this book?
I had a really, really hard time coming up with the name of this book. It was basically the last
thing I did before publishing. I had the book written, edited, illustrated, and I still couldn’t figure
out a name that felt right for the story. I made countless lists of different names. The Grim and
The Fantastic was on an early list, but didn’t work for me at first. Then, I was reviewing old
lists, read it, and something just clicked. I knew it was the perfect name for a story that focused
on some serious and sad subject matter, but took it to a hopeful and magical place to overcome
the bad--- thusly grim and fantastic were perfect descriptors.

Is there anything you want readers to know?
I felt very nervous about really putting out there that this book deals with cancer. I think there is
a bit of a stigma around books that have cancer in them as being either really jarringly sad, or a
romance novel. Also, from what I have seen, cancer books are typically for an older audience, so
I worried that a child might see “cancer” and be put off, or a parent might think the subject too
heavy for a young reader. I didn’t want to pigeon-hole myself, but, at the same time, I didn’t
want to hide it either. I have been more open about it though as I continue to market it.
Ultimately, I believe it is a unique story that will help children with any illness or difficulties find
escapism and a bit of splendor. I hope that readers will give it the chance it deserves. It really is
an uplifting story of finding hope overall.

How is your writing process?
When I write, I have an “organized chaos” approach. I will have an idea and make a rough
outline. Outlines generally consist of broad overviews of things to happen or a specific character
element I would like to show, with the occasional note that something specific must happen in
this chapter. Otherwise, I look at the overview for the chapter as a guideline/starting point, and
then I free-write from there. Sometimes I get too off track and end up having to cut out segments,
and sometimes it helps me break out of a sticky plot point by not staying within too strict of

Do you prefer to write in silence, or with noise, why?
I much prefer to write with music playing. I find great enjoyment in planning playlists that
remind me of what the soundtrack for my book would be if it were a movie. It is fun to play into
those dreams. I have one for every major project I work on, though I have a general playlist I
listen to for writing. For The Grim and The Fantastic , a song that is sort of the anthem to me for
this book is “We’ll Be The Stars” by Sabrina Carpenter. You know how there is always a song
that plays for the credits of a movie that sort of encompasses the whole film? That song is this
book’s ideal credits-song. It actually makes me teary-eyed when I hear it. If I ever had a wish
granted and had a movie made for this book, I would have to have that song incorporated as a

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
A major trap for aspiring writers is largely getting in one’s head and telling yourself you aren’t
good enough. It is easy to belittle ourselves, and while we should be very clear cut with creating
a quality end product, you won’t get there if you beat yourself up along the way. On the other
hand, it is good to be receptive of constructive criticism, because no matter how amazing you
are, no one ever pumps out a perfect first draft, devoid of any errors whatsoever. Finding the
balance between your inner critic and resistance to changing your drafts is important.

Do you write one book at a time or several at a time?
I have several projects going at any given time. Writer’s block can be a very real thing, and
sometimes when I am blocked on one story, it helps to pop over to a completely different project
and completely switch gears to refresh. Some of my projects are illustrated too, so if writing just
isn’t working out, I can switch over to art and reset completely.

Did you know?
I created this book from scratch, from beginning to end. I wrote the book, edited, illustrated,
formatted/layout, and made the front and back cover. I used a hybrid publishing company,
Gatekeeper Press, for distribution and printing only. Everything else is all my own creation. I
made the whole thing and saved it as a print-ready PDF, and sent it off! It isn’t perfect, but I feel
good about knowing that I was able to do every step up to printing by myself.

Something you are proud of with this book?
I really tried to keep this story very authentic. I am proud of that. Even though it has a fantasy
element, I believe the characters are very real, and their thoughts and feelings are also very real. I
wove in a lot of details from my own life so I know they are true to me. I believe authenticity
woven together with fantastical escapism is very important in writing this type of story.

Pen, typewriter, or computer?
I outline and world-build in pen, and I write on my computer. So far, I illustrate on paper and
edit on my computer too.

Do you read for yourself, and if so, which genre?
I love to read for leisure. It took me a little longer for learning to read to click, but once it did, I
took off with it--- no training wheels needed! I try not to be too limited by genre and really just
look for good stories. But I do primarily read fiction for pleasure.
If I had to narrow it down, I tend to lean towards fantasy, and children’s books. Personally, I find
it such a wonderful experience to read a book with some fantasy to escape into from the real
world. Take me to Hogwarts, Narnia, or a secret garden any day! I love that feeling of
suspension of disbelief, when you feel, for a moment, like magic, grandeur, and fantasy are
possible---and, ultimately, they are! They are always tangible in your imagination. Books are
merely the portals to connect the two.

How do you view reading?
As an author, I know the kind of effort and soul-pouring that goes into creating a finished book.
Though I know not every book will flow for me, or the writing style might not click or be my
favorite, I sincerely try not to be unnecessarily snobby about my reading preferences. Instead, I
look at reading like a treasure hunt of others' imagination and creativity. I get to have the honor
of venturing into the creative mind of another person everytime I crack the spine of a new book.
Sometimes you get pretty seashells, and sometimes you get a diamond in the rough that will be a

treasure for life.

Gift basket with: Signed copy of book, bookmarks, custom illustration for winner, and a $10 amazon gift-card. 

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