Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Peter Doerfler

One Tooth Tim with Brag Med

I’d like to welcome Peter Doerfler to Layered Pages today to talk with me about his B.R.A.G. Medallion book, “One Tooth Tim and Pirate Jim.” Peter grew up in Millburn, NJ. There he spent many afternoons playing football and war with his neighborhood friends and many evenings reading books and watching the Mets. He considers his first book, “One Tooth Tim & Pirate Jim” to be a mash-up of two of his favorites: “The Lord of the Rings” and “Winnie the Pooh,” with Pooh Bear carrying the donkey’s tail into the evil darkness of Mordor. Well, not quite. Actually, his work is an attempt to channel the courage and peril of Tolkein alongside the gentleness and humor of Milne. The story began sitting on the pier of Salem, Ma., looking out at the tall ships and telling his then 3 year-old son, Theo, a story about two fictional pirates: One Tooth Tim and Pirate Jim. From there, the stories and characters kept coming until he found the strand to tie them together.  Peter has since moved from the North Shore to Chester County, Pennsylvania, and he and his wife have added two younger pirates-in-the-making. He is currently a pastor at a local church and loves pizza, songwriting, storytelling, Jesus, the N.Y. Giants, shrimp and more shrimp.

Hello, Peter! Please tell me how you discovered indieBRAG.

My wife, Jamye, discovered indieBRAG. She was helping me by researching PR options for self-published titles and thought they would be a great fit to review the book, and hopefully (if they liked it) add credibility to a story we both believed in.

Tell me a little about your story.

“One Tooth Tim & Pirate Jim” is primarily a story about friendship and courage—with some doses of humor and peril. Pirate Jim is the more serious of the two main characters, but both young pirates have a willingness to go straight into danger when duty, gold, or candy calls! The book is also playful in its approach to history, setting and other details. Blending fictional and real geography and deciding where to establish those “boundaries” was a fun part of creating the world they inhabit.

What is one of the adventures Pirate Jim and One Tooth Tim have?

Saving their hometown of Ipswich is the first major obstacle of the story. With the Pirates of Kendor bearing down on them, they needed to react quickly to their attack if Ipswich is to have a chance of not being over-run by the Pirate Princess and her hordes. Pirate Jim is set to become the hero, before other things happen …

Please tell me a little about, The Backwards Man and how did you come up with that name?

I don’t remember the exact origins of the The Backwards Man, creatively speaking, but I think he developed out of giving myself the challenge of occasionally speaking backward while telling these stories to my son, and watching him think as hard as his four-year-old brain could, to try and decipher the sentence. I learned several things, but the most important was: keep the sentences short! It’s no fun for the readers if they can’t actually figure out what was said without totally breaking the rhythm of the story. The name was simply shorthand for the character—a bit like The Man with Green Boots (another character in the story). I felt, based on Curious George and “The Man with the Yellow Hat,” that I could have some fun with that type of naming convention, as long as I didn’t overdo it.

Why did you chose North Shore of Massachusetts for the setting of your story?

I feel more like the North Shore chose me! I had lived there for three years while studying at Gordon-Conwell seminary in Wenham, MA, so I was fresh from that setting when I started to tell these stories. I had gone back to visit some friends, and as you mentioned earlier, was sitting at the Salem Pier and needed to pass some time with my son when I came up with the original characters for the story. I set them in the North Shore because it is the only coastal area I have lived in, and actually had pirates at one time in its history. Being able to draw on real places and landmarks made the storytelling both simpler and more interesting.

You mentioned to me that the time period for your story is early 1700’s, which is roughly the time when pirates were still active off the coast of New England. What is some of the research you did for your story and what fascinated you the most about that?

Well, sad to say, my pirate “research” can be summed up in one trip to the Salem Pirate museum and the consumption of child-level nonfiction and fiction books on pirates! That’s primarily because One Tooth Tim and Pirate Jim are “pirates” in some ways (i.e. Treasure hunting and sailing), but not in other more fundamental ways (i.e. Actual criminal activity!)

I believe stories like this help children get excited about the past. What do you hope readers gain from reading your story?

Honestly, I would hope that they gain an appreciation for how to be a true and loyal friend and how to respond to enemies with mercy. From there, I’m counting on parents to explain why a nice Virginia college (Randolph Macon) is not actually an evil villain, that Ipswich was never ruled by a local monarchy, and that you can’t really find Kendor on the map!

Please tell me a little about the legacy and practice today, of witchcraft in Salem. And how much of witchcraft plays a part in your story?

I always found it ironic that a rather shameful part of Salem’s history has now become fundamentally part of its current identity, and commercially linked to its promotion and endorsement. As for the story, witchcraft plays two small, but important roles: one in establishing the backstory of the Backward Man, and another in establishing the role of the main villain. That said, as I work through what I hope to be the next “One Tooth Tim & Pirate Jim” story, witchcraft has essentially fallen out of the storyline.

How much time did you spend writing your story and where in your home do you like to write?

I spent almost two years writing the book. I really wouldn’t have started without the encouragement of my wife, and certainly wouldn’t have finished with the story I did without her providing strong feedback and editorial guidance along the way. (It helps tremendously when one’s spouse has an MFA in Creative Writing!) I like to write in our finished attic. It’s very sunny, and the quiet snoring of my cat, Zorro, reminds me of the ocean. Okay, that was a lie, but I thought it sounded very poetic.

What is your writing process?

First, I tell the story verbally to my sons at bedtime. Then, if need be, change and re-tell the story. Having an at-home “focus group” of three young boys keeps pushing me to develop stories that are compelling, scary, funny, interesting, and hold together. It has also been a key way for me to develop each character’s voice—both literally (you can hear me reading OTT&PJ here) and literarily. Once I have a sense of the story, as such, I move into writing. I went through multiple drafts, chapter by chapter, and then going through the book as a whole over two years. I believe you have to leave gaps of time within the revision process so you can forget what you first thought was brilliant, and then proceed to edit the manuscript with as unbiased a perspective as possible.

Who designed your book cover?

Andrea Landerl provided all the illustrations for the book and frankly blew me away with her gouache paintings. I loved her sense of expression and the richness she captured in both the colors and details throughout the book. Definitely recommend her services.

Where can readers buy your book?

Glad you asked! They can buy the ebook on Amazon, Nook or Apple’s iBookstore. A link to each of these is available through my website.

Thank you, Peter! It was a pleasure talking to you today.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Peter Doerfler who is the author of, One Tooth Tim and Pirate Jim, one of our medallion honoree at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, One Tooth Tim and Pirate Jim, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Author Nancy Lucas

Nancy Lucus-BRAG

Nancy Lucas lives in Charleston, SC. Scout is her favorite Springer Spaniel and she insists on writing silly stories about his capers. Stay tuned for the third tail in the Springer Spaniel Mystery series, “The Missing Tulip Bulbs”, in which Scout and his friends search for tulip bulbs that mysteriously disappear night by night. And Scout suspects one of his best friends is the culprit!

Hello Nancy! Thank you for talking to me today and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, A Ghostly Tail: A Springer Spaniel Mystery (#2).

How neat to write stories about your Springer Spaniel! Please tell me a little about your story.

A ghost dog bully lives next door to Scout and taunts him rudely. Then, when Scout spends the night in that house, the ghost dog bully, Hamish (an Irish Wolfhound), tears up a box of cheese crackers and scatters it all over a room. The guy housesitting cannot see Hamish and therefore might think Scout had done it. So Scout and Chisolm quickly clean up the mess before the housesitter-friend wakes up in the morning. And that’s not all. The ghost dog bully is mean to everyone and when Scout asks why, he confesses his people moved away without him. Scout and Chisolm hatch a plan to return him to his people.

Do Scout and Chisolm get into some mischief?

Scout does, of course. Chisolm usually looks on and offers very polite advice. They met in the Charleston sewers when Scout was looking for some missing Boston Terriers in the first book. Chisolm was distracted by food lying around and Scout had to keep him focused on their mission. Also, Chisolm knew how to calm Hamish and make him help clean up the cheese crackers since he knows Hamish is terrified of Possums and Palmetto Bugs.

A Ghostly Tale

I love how your story is set in Charleston, SC and you use real street names that are well known. Could you name a few?

Montagu Street (our neighborhood), King Street (shopping), Meeting Street, Wentworth Street

What age group would this a good read for?

This is a good introduction to chapter books for 8 year-olds and up (and some of my friends have been reading a chapter per night to their very young children). I use all the big words in context so young people can be exposed to as many large words as possible. The dogs and possum all have an amazing vocabulary!

Who designed your book cover?

I drew all the illustrations and designed the book cover. I laid out the book for printing and Kindle in Adobe InDesign.

Charleston is such a great place and an inspirational place to write stories. Will you write stories that are set there other than children books?

Yes, I have finished a novel called “Courage of a Vampire” that I will self-publish next month. I sought an agent, but did not have any luck. This book follows a teen girl as she graduates from high school in South Carolina and moves to Richmond, Virginia where all her real vampire problems begin, and then she finds herself living and working in Charleston, pining after the lost love of her life and pondering immortality.

The second novel I’m working on right now is satire about the Charleston real estate market called “The Big Deal, A Charleston Real Estate Caper”. A UFO appears in the harbor one day, blocking the shipping channel and the whole city must evacuate. Chaos, of course, ensues!

So, I like to write about different things, as you can see.

Where do you like to write and how long does it take to write your stories?

I wrote my vampire novel in three months in my kitchen and dining room. I tend to work on the Springer Mystery books once a month, making up conversations in my head as I walk my Springer around my neighborhood, which is how it all started.

Will there be more in this mystery series?

Absolutely! The third book, “The Missing Tulips” is already available at Amazon in print and Kindle. The printed illustrations are in black and white, and in color on Kindle. I have started working on the fourth book, “The Curse of the Carriage Mule” and hope to have it published later this year. A NEW PUPPY is introduced in the “Tulips” mystery.

How did you discover indieBRAG?

I was doing research on marketing and it was suggested that I submit my books for reviews and awards to gain credence and exposure. indieBRAG has been extremely helpful with all their marketing tips and shout-outs. Many thanks to you and indieBRAG!

Where can readers buy your book?! This link leads to a page that shows all 3 books.


Scout’s Blog

Thank you, Nancy!

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Nancy Lucas, who is the author of, A Ghostly Tail: A Springer Spaniel Mystery (#2), our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, A Ghostly Tail: A Springer Spaniel Mystery (#2), merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Interview with B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Author Adrienne Austermann


Stephanie: I would like to introduce B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, Author Adrienne Austermann. She is an accomplished artist, writer and art educator. As a graduate of the School of Visual Arts in NYC, her career has crossed multiple disciplines which include graphic design, advertising, art direction, writing, and photography. She is an independent blogger for the Huffington Post, and now adds author/illustrator to her resume with the release of her new children’s book The Sleepy Star

Please tell me about, The Sleepy Star and what genre it falls under?

Adrienne: The Sleepy Star is a hardcover children’s bedtime book. It is about a little star who stays asleep while all his friends are playing and has an incredible underwater “dream” adventure. The book was written to promote a positive bedtime routine while maximizing parent/child interaction. The Sleepy Star is as educational as it is entertaining. It is written in rhyming verse with text to visual connections which help to promote word recognition for early reading readiness. The nice surprise in all my feedback to date is how much a book which is categorized as the Juvenile fiction is being enjoyed equally by adults.

Stephanie: Is this your first children’s book?

Adrienne: Yes! However it is designed to be a series. Every time the star falls asleep he has another adventure.

Stephanie: What inspired you to write this book?

Adrienne: Actually, the initial seed of the idea came from a school assignment when I was studying art education at The School of Visual Arts in NYC. We had to create a visual story without words, and I kept imaging a star falling from the sky splashing into the ocean and becoming a starfish, it fit perfectly. The written story came a bit later when my daughter was two years old and I wanted an engaging bedtime story for her. I was working as an advertising art director at the time and pictured this fabulous world of The Sleepy Star things such as the pillow doll, bedding, wall covering and nightlights!

Stephanie: Who designed the book cover? Did you create the illustrations? 

Adrienne: I designed the cover and created all the illustrations. This was the most daunting task for me, as I never considered myself an illustrator.  I was everything but, a graphic designer, a painter, writer etc…Illustration was a specific discipline that I was never comfortable with and avoided like the plague.  As an art director I always hired the perfect illustrator for various projects and always imagined doing that with this book when I landed a publishing contract!  However as a single working mom, that became a daunting task, querying publishers was a full time job in itself, and anything that put my kid’s needs on the back burner got shelved.  I unearthed the project 20 years later and decided to finish it after realizing the story had completely withstood the test of time. I dedicated it to my daughter and published it in time for her 22nd birthday.

Stephanie: What is the age group for this book?

Adrienne: Although it was written as a child’s bedtime book making it appropriate for birth though the pre and early primary grades, I am finding readers of all ages are enjoying it.

Stephanie: Will you publish more children’s books? 

Adrienne: Yes!  As I mentioned earlier, The Sleepy Star is designed to be a series and The Sleepy Star Goes to Heaven is in the works hopefully to be released this holiday season. It is designed to be a comforting and uplifting “must read” story for anyone who has lost a loved written in the same style as the original book. It address a difficult subject in a positive and inspiring way.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Adrienne: I discovered indieBRAG when a friend was telling me about her neighbor who was a self published author and when I looked up the book title I saw it was an indieBRAG medal honoree.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Adrienne: Readers can find my book online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

More information and some interior illustrations can be found at The Sleep Star

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Adrienne Austerman, who is the author of, The Sleepy Star, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Sleepy Star, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.



Interview with Author Barbara Ann Mojica

Barbara Ann Majica

Today I am featuring award winning Author Barbara Ann Mojica….

Barbara is a historian who holds graduate degrees in history and multiple New York State certifications in education. Now a retired educator and principal, she is staying busy by writing historical pieces under the banner of “Passages” for The Columbia Insider, a biweekly news magazine and developing her series of children’s books featuring the Little Miss HISTORY character. Marrying her love of history and teaching, Barbara hopes that her Miss HISTORY character will inspire children and adults to learn more about historical people and visit these landmarks. Barbara also finds time to read and review books twice weekly on her blogging page.

Little Miss HISTORY is a funny, whimsical character invented by the author and her illustrator/husband. The character is based on a younger version of the author. She looks like a wannabe park ranger with pig tails and hiking boots three sizes too big. In the first book of the series, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to MOUNT RUSHMORE, she presents the evolution of this monument as well as its connections to Native American history and human rights. When she arrives at her second destination, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to The Statue of Liberty, she helps the reader discover the planners, the process of building, and why Lady Liberty remains a promise and symbol of the hopes and aspirations of people around the world. Both of these books have been awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion and Reader’s Favorite Five Star Reviews. On her third trip, to be completed and released in spring, 2014, Miss HISTORY will visit SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK, pointing out its history, beauty and environmental concerns.

Statue of liberty book

About Book:

Since her last trip to Mount Rushmore, Little Miss HISTORY has journeyed more than 1700 miles over land, sea and air to reach her second destination, The Statue of Liberty. This national treasure stands proudly in New York Harbor welcoming all people to the land of freedom and opportunity. In this second book of the series, Little Miss HISTORY will help you discover who thought of the statue in the first place, the values she symbolizes, the architects and engineers who built Lady Liberty, and the little known individuals who contributed their pennies to make her debut in New York’s harbor possible. You will learn about why she remains a promise and symbol of the hopes and aspirations of many people around the world and not just to immigrants coming to America. Come now and follow Little Miss HISTORY as she enlightens you about The Statue of Liberty!

Stephanie: Hello, Barbara! Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G. Medallion for a second time. That is wonderful and I am delighted to be chatting with you again. What is the message in your story?

Barbara: All my books are nonfiction. They do not relate traditional stories but are a collection of knowledge from the past. My intention is to make learning about historic events and places a fun and interesting experience by using a whimsical character who sees things from a unique viewpoint.

Stephanie: When did you start to write children’s books?

Barbara: I began writing children’s books about three years ago, shortly after I retired from a long career as an educator. At first, I started writing historical articles for a local news magazine, but then I decided I wanted to marry my love of history with teaching so I developed the picture book series that would be appropriate for a wide variety of ages.

Stephanie: Who designed your illustrations?

Barbara: My husband Victor is an artist and writer. He conceived the idea of the Little Miss

HISTORY cartoon character based on a younger version of myself. I had already written the first four or five first drafts of books in the series. We began working on illustrations together as we worked through the manuscript. Illustrations are worked and reworked until we are sure that they fit perfectly. That process takes about three months.

Stephanie: How long did it take you to write your story?

Barbara: The first two books have taken about the same amount of time to write. I write the story, put it aside and then go back to take another look. There are several revisions, which take about three months to complete.

Stephanie: What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Barbara: There are so many rewards in writing. My first objective is to eliminate the boring textbooks that I had in school and to make learning fun. When I see children reading

Little Miss HISTORY books and enjoying the learning experience, that is really satisfying! In addition, I have met many wonderful authors online and in person. Sharing and caring with fellow authors, parents and readers is another avenue to expanding all our horizons.

Stephanie: What is up next for you?

Barbara: Right now I am in the final stages of my third book, Little Miss HISTORY Travels to

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK to be released in a few weeks. Her next journey will be to

FORD’S THEATER, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. I continue to write my local history articles and plan a book about the local history of Columbia County, New York.

Stephanie: Do you work with an outline or just write?

Barbara: That depends on my project. All my work involves research of some sort so I start with doing the research. I sift through my research and mentally divide things into categories, but rarely outline the whole article or book. Because I have been a historian all my life and write a lot about local history, I do have a large personal experience base on which to draw. For the Little Miss HISTORY series, one of the greatest challenges is to experiment and find just the right illustrations to convey the points in a funny, interesting and educational milieu.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Barbara: I discovered indieBRAG by surfing online while investigating book promotion, but I had also heard about it through some of my author friends online. That made it a top priority for me to investigate.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Barbara: The series is available at CreateSpace, amazon, and Barnes & Noble as well as my website. It can be ordered by any local bookstore if you do not find it on their shelves!






Barnes & Noble

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Stephanie, for the opportunity to share my work with the indieBRAG community.

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Barbara Ann Mojica, who is the author of, Little Miss History Travels to the Statue of Liberty, one of our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. MedallionTM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Little Miss History Travels to the Statue of Liberty merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Interview with Author Angie Harris


Stephanie: Hello, Angie! Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G Medallion! Please tell me a little about your books, Momma’s Little Helpers and Monster Feet.

Angie: Thank you very much. I am still reeling about the news! Momma’s Little Helpers received the Medallion first so why don’t we start with that one.

Momma’s Little Helpers is a story about five young girls who embark upon an adventure to rally support for their sick Mother. They turn to Santa to help obtain help from many mystical characters such as the Sandman. It holds several messages for young children including the importance of teamwork and giving support to those in need. It truly is surprising how much support the young girls are able to rally.

Monster Feet is about a young girl named Sue who experiences recurring nightmares. Each night she wakes up to find she has different feet—animal feet! Sue comes up with a prayer which she recites every night in an effort to deter her dreams. But each night the nightmares return.  Sue eventually overcomes her fears and learns to embrace the new feet. It is a very fun book and children absolutely love it!

Stephanie: Is this your first Children’s’ book and will there be others?

Angie: Momma’s Little Helpers was my first children’s book. Monster Feet was the second. And yes, there will be more to come!

Momma's little feet

Stephanie: Where there any challenges you faced while writing your story?

Angie: I write most of my children’s stories in verse so sometimes managing to relay a message within the confines of structured poem can be difficult. Finding words which express what I am trying to tell as well as rhyming together is not always easy. But it also has to be simple enough for a young reader to understand. Then there is making certain that the story maintains its tempo and does not fall off beat anywhere too much. I also find it difficult sometimes to be grammatically correct all the time when writing in verse considering that most times the verse consists of fragmented sentences.

Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?

Angie: I designed the cover of Monster Feet and used Createspace’s Design software to help me design the cover for Momma’s Little Helpers. I used their template and inserted my own imagery.

Stephanie: What is the moral to your story?

Angie: Both books encourage selflessness, courage, teamwork, helping others, caring, and much, much more.

Stephanie: Do you have illustrations in your story? If so, who created them?

Angie: Both of these books are picture books. I cannot draw so I had to do my research and find many clipart images online which were in the public domain to help paint the picture which I envisioned in my head. Once I had the clipart that I wanted to use, I relied on my technical skills to manipulate the art in a manner that suited my needs. Sometimes, I left pieces of art untouched and blended it with the backgrounds and other characters that I was using, and other times I changed the art dramatically to get the outcome that I was looking for. It is most definitely a skill that I have sharpened since writing my children’s books.

Stephane: What do you like most about story telling?

Stephanie: I love being able to express myself creatively; but I enjoy making people smile and taking them on an adventure which screams fun! And if we have a few chuckles along the way… Great! Then, I have achieved all that I set out to do when I began writing.

Stephanie: What is up next for you?

Angie: I am proud to tell you that Monster Feet was received so well that I was easily convinced to turn it into a series. Monster Feet: Sue’s Deep Sea Adventures will be released next week on Valentine’s Day! My seven year old niece, Kelsey More, contributed many fresh ideas and gave feedback for the new story. She is being named as a coauthor to the book and has now become engrossed in story telling too.
I am also currently writing two novels, Before the Storm for my YA fantasy series Gates of the Realm and The Caverly Hotel which is based off of a Vermont Urban legend. I expect, Before the Storm to be released late this summer and The Caverly Hotel to be released on Halloween.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Angie: I was researching marketing ideas online. I did a search for medallions and it did not take me long to find you.

Stephanie: Where can reader buy your book?

Angie: You can buy Momma’s Little Helpers and Monster Feet at the Createspace store and at Amazon. I have also enlisted them into the extended channels so they will be available at most online retailers soon as well as some book stores.

Thank you, Angie!

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Angie Harris, who is the author of, Momma’s Little Helpers and Monster Feet, one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Momma’s Little Helpers and Monster Feet, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Author Bio:

Angie Harris

I was born in Burlington, Vermont and  graduated from C.C.V. with an AS in Technology. I work days at a high school with titles from IT Tech to Media Lab Supervisor. I love family, music, and writing.

Interview with Author Mariana R. Silva-Buck

Marianan Silva Buck

Mariana R. Silva-Buck is a photographer, a writer and a mother who has worked with children since she was a teenager, from teaching summer camp to volunteering at the orphanage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she was born and raised. She received her B.A. in Communication from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and currently lives in Wales, MA with her husband, her daughter and their big bud Zandor. She is a SCBWI member and has also earned the title of International correspondent from the Brazilian Sovereing Academy of Arts of Rio de Janeiro EstateHer passion for children, literature, multiculturalism and learning inspired her to write the children’s book, The Adventures of Zandor. 

Stephanie: Hello, Mariana! Congrats on winning the B.R.A.G Medallion. Please tell me about your book, The Adventures of Zandor.

Mariana: Hi Stephanie.  Thank you so much for interviewing me. Well, The Adventures of Zandor is the story of a little dog who teaches us to believe in the power of imagination, the importance of overcoming our fears and what can happen if you simply try.

Zandor is a dog who loves to play in the yard, however his biggest dream is to go on a real adventure. One day he goes on a trip with his family to explore nature and everyone is thrilled, but what he didn’t realize is how quickly the unknown can become overwhelming when it is right in front of you. Although the little dog is afraid, he doesn’t give up, instead Zandor transforms into a super hero (because super heroes can do anything) through the power of imagination, overcomes his fear and have the adventure of his dreams.

Stephanie: What inspired you to write your story?

Mariana: My inspiration to write this book came after seeing so many kids, especially young kids, like my 4 year old nephew being so caught up with new technology and not spending time to be creative with play time. Some of my best childhood memories are building forts, climbing trees and playing pretend. 21% of today’s kids regularly play outside, compared with 71% of their parents’ generation at their age. I certainly want to inspire children to have those experiences too. I thought to myself “what has happened to playing outside, using your imagination?” I felt I should do something about it. During my 2 years observing my friends and family’s children and teens I notice many of them didn’t have an interest in playing and being creative because they didn’t know what to do and quite honestly they were afraid to try or afraid to fail, it was much easy to play a game that was telling them what to do and how to play.

Soon after my other nephew was born and the following year my daughter was born, then everything changed. I felt it was the right time and I had a purpose, I was looking with the eyes of a mother and an artist, I truly believe that made the perfect combination, beside I had all the ingredients of good kid’s story, our awesome dog who has been to all kinds of crazy adventures with us, a focused message and a child.

]The adventures of Zandor

Stephanie: Have you written in the children’s genre before?

Mariana: No, I have never written in the children’s genre before but I am a bit of a story teller (giggles), I write articles for a whole different target group but children’s genre is my passion.

Stephanie: Is there a message or a lesson you would like your readers to come away with?

Mariana: Although I believe technology is very important, I also believe that learning problem solving skills and being creative is extremely necessary for child development. Some of my best childhood memories are playing pretend, building forts with sheets and chairs, making paper swords or playing with my dolls, I do understand things have changed but I want to at least try to inspire kids to use their imagination, believe in themselves and overcome their fears. According to experts, a lack of outside time can have a great impact in a child developmental growth. This unwanted side-effect is called Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD), a term coined by the writer Richard Louv. “Kids who do play outside are less likely to get sick, to be stressed or become aggressive, and are more adaptable to life’s unpredictable turns.”

Stephanie: How long did it take for you to write your story?

Mariana: It took me about 3 months and 8 drafts to figure out how the story should go.

Stephanie: Did you work with an outline or just write?

Mariana: I just started to write and let my imagination take over based on the message I wanted the book to have, the story kind of took its own direction, it is very different from what I had originally imagined.

Stephanie: Who designed your book cover?

Mariana: Her name is Marissa Perna, she is an amazing illustrator who really understood what I wanted and what tone the illustration should have, it was a perfect marriage, she did all the art work and I did the layout of the book and the cover title. I couldn’t have done it without her.

Stephanie: What is up next for you?

Mariana: I have just finished writing the second book from Zandor’s series, I am working on my publishing company Pink Boto Publishing and I am also the new editor in chief at CBP Magazine, an online luxury magazine. (

Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?

Mariana: Always believe in yourself, if you want to do something but you are afraid do it anyways. Try, dare to be brave and if you fail that’s ok, you get up and try again but don’t let fear stop you from doing your best and most important of all, have fun while doing it.

Stephanie: How did you discover indieBRAG?

Mariana: I spent a lot of time online researching for ways independent book authors were getting support and connecting, I came across IndieBRAG and as soon I saw the organization’s commitment to promote indie authors I knew right away I had found the right place.

Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?

Mariana: My book is available as a hardcover and e-book on,, on my blog
My book was also published in Brazil, so the portuguese version is available on my blog also and on

Author LINKS:



A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Mariana R. Silva-Buck  , who is the author of, Adventures of Zandor, one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Adventures of Zandors, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.

Interview with Author Clarice Williams


Clarice Williams whose pen name is C. JoVan Williams, was born and raised in Chicago, IL, but now resides in New Jersey as an Air Force spouse, with a blended family of six. She credits her writing inspirations from her experiences as a military spouse, mother, college graduate, Government worker, silly daughter, and an overbearing older sister to many.  She also writes for Military Spouse Magazine. Her books are available on Amazon. Email:

Stephanie: Hello Clarice! Congrats on winning the BRAG Medallion. Please tell me about your book, Veggie’s Bully.

Clarice: Thank you! It’s the second book in my Chef ReCee Jay & Friends book series. This story is different from other bully books where everyone is shaking hands and becoming friends in the end. Veggie’s Bully children’s book shows the anger Veggie feels about being bullied, her friend who wants revenge, and the voice of reasoning who helps them see her situation a bit differently. For some events, I also sell Uncle Bear and Carb Monkey plush toys along with the book. I’m still searching for a vendor to help me with Veggie Bunnie.

Stephanie: I really admire the premise of your story and find it inspirational to many. You touch on a subject that is a serious problem in our world. When did you decide to write your book and to use the idea of animals for your characters?

Clarice: There were a series of stories that popped in mind when I began this series and I knew since the beginning I was going to touch on bullying. It’s not just happening in a children’s playground or a high school anymore. Social media has made bullying easier than ever, even in our adult lives, it continues to occur.  So, it’s my hope that, whoever picks up this book, will remember to value how they feel about themselves, versus obsessing about how others think of them. I’ve seen children gravitate towards animal stories and wanted to reach as many readers as I possibly could.


Stephanie: Have you written other children’s books with important themes and morals?

Clarice: My first book, Our Picnic Surprise, talks about trying to balance life and really hits home with me, because I’m still trying to balance it! But the story focuses on Veggie Bunnie introducing healthier foods to Carb Monkey and Chef ReCee’s already sugar filled lifestyle! The third book in the series talks about another character in the series, Uncle Bear, who received a gift, but does not have any money to reciprocate his appreciation. So his friends help him make something for his mystery Valentine. I hope some readers can relate to having to be resourceful when you can’t afford to buy presents for everyone you would like too.

Stephanie: How do you promote your book and what are some of the ways you discuss your book to others? Such as, do you visit schools, libraries, bookstores and so forth?

Clarice: Currently, I’m in a few indie and professionally published author groups who travel and promote books at various fairs, bookstores, and libraries. Right now I’m putting myself out there to visit schools, whether it is in person or on Skype in the classroom, I’m available! So put it out there!

Stephanie: Have you had any reviews on your book? What are some of the positive things people have said about your book?


Clarice: I’ve gotten great feedback in person and from reviewers on Amazon. After winning the BRAG Medallion, the company sent me a letter with multiple reviews from a classroom who read the book, and it was very humbling. There were comments about what the story meant to them and also what they are currently dealing with now.

Stephanie: What book project is up next for you?

Clarice: I have a few in the works now. The next one in the series will be about Carb Monkey on a search to find the Tooth Fairy! There is an unexpected twist at the end about the mystery and magic behind the Tooth Fairy. I also have another children’s book, titled What IF…that is coming out and Miley Cyrus was my inspiration. It deals with questions my daughters had after witnessing a few things that has been popular on social media lately.

Stephanie: Will you self-publish again?

Clarice: Yes! It’s not for the faint of heart though!

Stephanie: What advice would you give to a writer who wants to write a children’s book?

Clarice: Join author/writer groups. Use the internet as you would an all-night open library. Read the kinds of books that you would like to publish. Read the author’s bios too. Look at their editors, publishing companies, and agents to get an idea of how they built their platform. Create a plan for yourself. Learn to accept criticism and apply it. I’d like to bring up something, Daymond John, the CEO of FUBU, said, When looking at trends I always ask myself basic and timeless questions about business, and the one I seem to always come back to is, ‘How is this different than anything else in the marketplace?

When I came up with Veggie’s Bully, I didn’t want to tell a story of how they all became friends at the end, because life doesn’t always happen that way. I wanted to talk about what to do when the Bully keeps teasing you and all you have left to figure things out is just you.

Stephanie: Before I forget. Does your book have illustrations and who was your cover artist?

Clarice: Jen Chappell is an amazing illustrator, who did the art for Veggie’s Bully, Uncle Bear’s Mystery Valentine, and also does my comics for my website and Facebook fanpage. She helped me out when the illustrator of Our Picnic Surprise could no longer illustrate for me. Her professional email is

Clarice, thank you so much for chatting with me today. I have one more question. How did you discover indieBRAG?

Clarice: I’m always looking at other self-published children’s books that are doing well and stumbled upon ‘Bellyache: A Delicious Tale’ by Crystal Marcos with the BRAG Medallion on it. I was truly honored to receive the recognition from BRAG, especially after reading this book by Crystal Marcos. I appreciate what BRAG does for indie authors!

To contact the author, please visit:


“This is a book I thoroughly enjoyed and I recommend it to anyone
who has small children. The bully situation has always been and always will be,
and having a book like this one will surely help children love themselves more
and have more confidence in what they do. And I can’t leave out the
illustrations; they are awesome and wonderful and fit so well with the story.
The vivid colors and adorable people will capture your children’s hearts and
keep them choosing this book over and over.” – Reviewed by Joy Hannabass for
Readers’ Favorite

A message from BRAG:

We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Clarice Williams, who is the author of, Veggie’s Bully, one of our medallion honorees at . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, Veggie’s Bully, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.