Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Little Treasure by Jiana J. Z.

Little Treasure is a sweet and lovely short tale about a generous king, Leon, who has every treasure in the world but lacks something essential: happiness. One day, while he’s taking a stroll through his forest, he hears laughter coming from a little shabby shack. He wonders how someone could sound so happy living in such a poor house. He wonders why he can’t be as happy, even though he has everything there is to have. Will King Leon find the source of joy? You will have to read it to find out, but I’m sure the answer will please both parents and children alike.

I like the author’s simple and uncomplicated story telling; it just makes it easy for beginner readers to read by themselves or perfect for those kids who still enjoy being read to. And don’t get me wrong, the prose might seem simple but the message is deep: it doesn’t matter how many material things we have, because the joy they bring will be short-lived. Little Treasure will remind us of what is really important in life.

The illustrations are beautifully done; they complement the story in a way that makes it feel like a fairy tale. Jiana J.Z., who authored and illustrated this book, is a talented artist, and I can’t wait to see more of her work!

Mariana Llanos

Friday, January 3, 2014

5 Authors to Look Out for in 2014

Last year was a great one for the self-publishing industry. While numbers are not out yet (at least not that I know), there's a notable increase on self-published and "Indie" books and authors all across the Amazon Universe.  This is great news, of course, as it put us, indie writers, right under the spotlight. We don't HAVE to publish the traditional way anymore. We can have control over the whole process, and with lots of effort and tons of luck, be successful.
But with so many books out and so many hopeful authors, 2014 will also be a competitive and challenging year for most of us, and, just like anything in life, only the strongest will survive. Only a handful of books will get to the top, and it is our human nature to try even if the odds aren't in our favor.

I am a believer that, if we work in community, we'll be better at our attempts to get to the top. Building a network with other authors is just as important as having a well-written, presentable book. I have interacted with several authors in this past year and I've met truly wonderful people, but today I'm going to reveal the ones I think we should keep an eye out for in 2014.

Now, I didn't call for a contest; this is just an arbitrary list: my opinion. These authors are not really aware that I'm writing a blog post about them. I have been reading their work and learning from them. In some cases we have forged friendships through our social media sites, in some others I've been just watching from the sidelines. Some have helped me, reviewed me and shared their gift with me. With some others I have just worked through blogs, but whatever our contact was, they left a positive impact in me as a writer. I consider them determined, creative, generous and self-motivated souls.

1. Aviva Gittle of Aviva Gittle eBooks: I've had the honor to "meet" her and help with some of her projects. She has helped me lots, as well. I like to tease that she has a plan to dominate the world by eBook. She is publishing quality children's eBooks in English and Spanish ... she published six titles in 2013!  Not only she writes and produces everything, she also co-writes with other authors to create fun and creative stories like Bagel Boy, The Boy Who Bounced to the Moon (English) (Aviva Gittle "My First Chapter Book"),  Mort the Fly,  among others. On her dynamic website, she runs contests, features authors and shares her own experience in the self-publishing industry.

2. Sealove: I met Sealove, through Goodreads and was immediately drawn to their kind and sincere spirit. Sealove is a couple, soul mates, who live, create and compose from Hawaii. They are producing digital books with integrity and a strong commitment with the environment. There is a good vibe about these guys, and what I find most remarkable is the consistency of their message. Their children's series "Ayla Speak"  is a wonderful way to connect us with the mysticism of Hawaii and appreciate the natural beauty of our world.

3. Paul G. Day of PIA: Paul is an Australian teacher and writer with a vast experience in the field of publising. He has recruited a group of authors to create an awesome site called PIA (Published Independent Authors), a community for writers where they can share resources, promote their works and read articles on writing and publishing.  Paul selflessly gives his time and effort to this project, all while working on his own children's and YA books, like The Black Fairy and the Dragonfly and The Girl Who Kept Secrets . On this site, he is candid and honest about his own personal struggles and to me that just makes him a better person and a great communicator.

4. Tammi Booth: Tammi is an elementary teacher and author of the book The Time Travel Storm. She has an amazing blog, The Balanced Classroom, with tons of articles about writing and activities for elementary children. She also has a virtual store with creative resources for teachers. You can breath her love for children, writing and reading through her blog. I don't "know" her that well, other than she interviewed me a few months back, but I've been following her posts. She's the kind of person you want to get inspired by her entrepreneurial drive and passion for education.

5. Jo Ann V. Glim: The author of "Begotten with love" is a veteran freelance writer with an accomplished career of 40 years. Just last year she launched her first book, a memoir that tells the story of five generations of family. In the personal, she's kind and generous, I can tell from experience. What I admire the most about Jo Ann is her drive to keep on learning and taking on new challenges. She's releasing the eBook version of "Begotten" and working on her second book; she's blogging, active in social media and just building a network of friends and fans all across the web. To me, Jo Ann is an example that it doesn't matter at what point in life you start chasing your dream: starting is what matters.

And now, my honorable mention will go ... to
This is me, and my
"I own the new year"
me! Take these as my resolutions for 2014 ... and once you make them public, you just have to honor them. Keep an eye out for me because:
-I'm going to publish the second book on my series  Tristan Wolf , "A Planet for Tristan Wolf", which is already in the works.
-I'm going to publish two children's eBooks (not part of Tristan's series).
-I'm going to keep on writing and improving the craft.
-I'm going to keep this blog, network with authors, do review and interviews. I will be as helpful as others have been to me and I will always pay it forward.
-I'm going to keep on inspiring children with books that touch the heart, instill values and are true to the world I want my children to live in.
-I'm going to have fun while doing all that!

I surely hope you will go out and look up the authors listed above and their work. Please, keep up your  encouragement to self-published authors and artists. We depend on your support (on each other's support) to survive in the jungle!

Mariana Llanos