One Writer's Journey: Donna J. Shepherd, Ava's Secret Tea Party, plus #giveaway

Would you like to win a copy of "Ava's Secret Tea Party"? Click the link below! 

One Writer's Journey: Donna J. Shepherd, Ava's Secret Tea Party, plus #g...:

AUTHOR: Donna J. Shepherd BOOK TITLE: Ava’s Secret Tea Party PUBLISHER: Guardian Angel Publishing

Coloring Page - Santa and Ava

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.

Connie Wilson, Author, Visits Topsy Turvy Land

It's December and the start of the December showcase at the National Writing for Children Center. Today my guest is Connie Wilson. Day 2 of Connie's virtual book tour sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center. 

The Writer's Life with Children's Author Constance (Corcoran) Wilson
I am a "streak" writer, and proud of it. It was music to my ears to learn at ITW (International Thriller Writers) conference last July in New York City that Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire) is a streak writer, as well.

I do like to focus when I'm "in the zone". I cannot have distractions, or I procrastinate. My best (and longest) streak on one of my 4 novels (the first was a science fiction novel from Lachesis) took place when I couldn't leave the condo because of a blizzard---if that tells you anything.

After retirement, I purchased a 2-bedroom, 2 bathroom "Writer's Lair" in Chicago, where I  hole up to write when I really need to meet a deadline. Since 2003, I have written 15 books  and contributed to a couple of anthologies, as well as continuing to "write short."

That means that I still do such fun things for online blogs as cover the 2008 DNC and RNC and the Chicago Film Festivals, for Yahoo and other online clients. (I was named Content Producer of the Year for Yahoo in 2009 and just yesterday I went out to photograph a tugboat that is sinking in the Mississippi River near LeClaire, Iowa, and spilling fuel oil into the water.) Google Connie Wilson and sign up to follow my articles on Yahoo or on my own blog,, where I review film and books and write about interesting things.

It is true to say that I also bought the Chicago condominium because my son and his wife and granddaughters live in Chicago, and I thought my daughter was going to attend college at DePaul (she ended up in Nashville, TN!), but I do force myself to go to Chicago and isolate myself to finish projects that are "on deadline." Otherwise, I live on the border with Iowa in the Illinois Quad Cities (350,000 people).

I have 3 ongoing series (plus some random titles). The Christmas Cats books ( are for my granddaughters and the girls are integral to helping me plot new books. They can't write yet at only 4, but, this way, I know that they will learn how to write well, by assisting me.

Another series I write is a novel series for adults and YA readers entitled The Color of Evil, with the second book (Red Is for Rage) named a Pinnacle Thriller winner in spring, 2013 by NABE (National Association of Book Entrepreneurs) and soon to be featured (December, 2013) on Shelf Unbound online magazine as a Page-turner Winner. Khaki = Killer will be out in February.

I was named  Midwest Writing Center Writer of the Year (March 20, 2010) and Illinois Women's Press Association Silver Feather Winner (June 6, 2012) by the Chicago chapter. I've written for 5 newspapers and 11 blogs.

Since 2003, I have averaged 4 books a year. I have an agent, and I've had 6 small publishers, but, with the advent of POD printing and self-publishing, I'm enjoying publishing my own works as Quad Cities' Learning, Inc.,  doing business as Quad Cities' Press (

You can read more about my adult works at 

Be sure to learn how to follow the rest of this tour by going to

Oodles of Fun Thanksgiving

Liz Ball shares a Hidden Picture Puzzle for Thanksgiving. Hidden Pictures Publishing released the first book in Mama Donna's Topsy Tales Series, Topsy Turvy Land. Enjoy!

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.

Topsy Turvy Moment and Blog Tour with Giveaway with Cheryl Malandrinos

We've all had moments when our life, career, or writing journey turned topsy turvy. Things change - many times for the better, although it might not seem so at the time.Today my guest is Cheryl Malandrinos. Let's read about her life-changing moment when I asked, "Have you had a time in your life, career, or writing journey where everything turned ‘topsy turvy’?"

Have there been times when everything turned ‘topsy turvy’? Gosh, do you have a few hours? I guess when you’ve chosen a career that consists of pouring out your heart and soul for days, weeks, months, maybe years and then hoping others find it worth buying, you’re bound to have some ‘topsy turvy’ moments.

Perhaps the most challenging moment was when I realized I couldn’t count on my husband to support my writing career. When he declared writing was akin to a figure skating competition—no matter how good you are, it’s up to the judges—I knew it meant trouble. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a wonderful man. But he’s also a numbers guy. And when it comes to writing, the numbers don’t often add up. With two young girls at home, living mainly off one salary can be hard. 

The reality is I can spend weeks fine-tuning a project and it still gets rejected. I’m in the middle of it right now. I wrote a fractured fairy tale that I absolutely love. So far there’s no love coming from the agent end. Good thing quitting isn’t in my genes.
Writing has been my dream since I was around six. It took until I became a stay-at-home to pursue that dream; I can’t turn my back on it now. Though my husband has suggested putting my writing on hold several times, selfishly I rarely contemplated it. When I sat down to write an article about my less-than-supportive spouse for a potential anthology on the topic, God gently reminded me of something I told my son and daughter-in-law on their wedding day: 

“Compromise isn’t about grudgingly giving up what you want. It’s saying I love you so much that I want to do this for you.”

Our compromise: I wouldn’t stop writing, but I would look for part-time work outside of the house. This way, I can keep writing and still help to alleviate my husband’s financial concerns. I’m also trying to submit more often in the hopes my writing income increases. That would be a win for both of us. 
Cheryl is the author of "Little Shepherd" (Guardian Angel Publishing).Since 2007, Cheryl has been an online book publicist specializing in virtual book tours. She is a member of the SCBWI, a book reviewer, and blogger. Visit her online at or

About Little Shepherd:
Obed is in the hills outside Bethlehem when the angels appear to announce the Savior's birth. Can he trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his flock safe while he visits the newborn King?

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Little Shepherd Virtual Book Tour Schedule
Nov 4
Book spotlight at The Story of a Writer
Nov 5
Book review and interview at Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews
Book trailer reveal at 4 the Love of Books
Nov 6
Nov 7
Guest post at Topsy Turvy Land
Nov 8
Interview at Between the Covers
Nov 11
Guest post at Marilyn’s Musings
Guest post at Authors and Appetizers
Nov 12
Guest post at Bookingly Yours
Book review and giveaway at Mom Loves 2 Read
Nov 13
Book review at Maureen’s Musings
Nov 14
Nov 15
Guest post at Paperback Writer
Book trailer reveal at Broken Teepee
Nov 18
Book review at Blooming with Books
Nov 19
Book review at Nancy Stewart Books
Radio interview at Stories from Unknown Authors at 1 PM.
Nov 20
Guest post at 4 the Love of Books
Book trailer reveal at Thoughts in Progress
Nov 21
Guest post at Literarily Speaking
Nov 22
Book review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Nov 23
Book review at Freda’s Voice
Nov 26
Book trailer reveal at CelticLady’s Reviews
Nov 27
Nov 29
Book spotlight at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Coloring Page: Trick or Treat from Poodle and Doodle!

Jack Foster, illustrator of Poodle and Doodle, shares this wonderful coloring page. Enjoy!

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.

Coloring Page of Chizzy for Trick or Treat

Where's Chizzy? Dotty sure looks scared, doesn't she?

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.

Poodle and Doodle say, "Trick or Treat!"

Jack Foster, illustrator of Poodle and Doodle, shares this wonderful coloring page. Enjoy!

*Click on the picture, then print! It will print out full size ready to be colored. If that doesn't work with your printer, right click on the picture, and then 'save picture as...' and then you can print it out using your photo program.

Parody of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" and "Nighthawk" in Ava's Secret Tea Party

I Won a Book! - "The Spy Game" by J.D. Holiday

You know the contests you see on blogs all the time? Be sure to enter when you have time (and of course - if you're a child, ask your parents first!). I won a book by J.D. Holiday called "The Spy Game." It's a lovely story about a little boy who wants a puppy, but instead gets an older dog. As he feeds and walks the dog, he gets to know and appreciate the uniqueness of his new friend - and he gets involved in a mystery, too! I hope you'll check out "The Spy Game."

A Star in the Night by Jennifer Gladen, illustrations by K.C. Snider

"A Star in the Night" by Jennifer Gladen is a sweet story about thinking of others during the holidays. The illustrations by K.C. Snider are beautiful. My favorite one has young David with a Nativity and colorful blankets and is so pretty. At Christmas or any time of the year, this book would be a great way to gently help children to look at others in a different light and find ways to share their blessings.

Blog Hop! with Donna J. Shepherd

My friend, Diana Jenkins, invited me to participate in a “blog hop interview.” Diana sent interview questions to answer on my blog. I then tag writers who will answer questions on their blogs. 
Diana posted her interview on her blog at DJ's Thoughts. If you get a minute, drop by to get to know Diana better and leave a comment letting her know you connected to her through my link.  

Now on to the interview!   

What are you working on right now? 

I’ve spent the last few weeks promoting “Ava’s Secret Tea Party,” but I am always cooking on several burners with both children’s and the inspirational writing. The very talented JackFoster and I plan to release an eBook soon. I have another children’s book under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, but not sure of a date for that one. I signed the contract two years ago!

What experiences have influenced you?  

I experienced many happy hours with my children teaching them to read and scouring the library for new books. Both of them liked the rhyming stories the most, so I ended up writing in rhyme and loving it. I sing and play the piano, so the rhythm and flow of rhyme soothes me. I work on every word, every syllable, every beat, until I’m satisfied. And then I work on them some more.

What is the hardest part about writing? 

My problem is never finding things to write, but finding time to write. And focus! I have such varied interests that it’s difficult for me to focus. Any author today must find time to market, too.

What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet? 

I’ve been dabbling in romantic fiction. I have a follow up novelette to “Love Under the Bubble Wrap” that will be up on Amazon soon. It’s novella length – a bit longer. I would love to write a full length novel one day, and never really had that desire until lately. Isn’t there a saying that everyone thinks they have a novel inside? So far, mine hasn’t made it to the surface.

I tag these children's authors. Be sure to check out their blog posts! 
Monday, July 22: Nicole Weaver
Friday, July 26: Penelope Anne Cole
Monday, August 12: Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Review for Ava's Secret Tea Party - Nicole Weaver

I'm humbled by Nicole Weaver's review of Ava's Secret Tea Party. Here's a snippet and you'll see why! 
All I can think after reading Donna Shepherd’s newest book, Ava’s Secret Tea Party, is wow! Little girls from all cultures will enjoy reading this delightful book. I read the book 10 times before writing the review because it is such pure delight...What a magical ride reading this book gave me. It transported me back to when my three children were young. The special times I would snuggle next to them and read over and over again their favorite book. Ava’s Secret Tea Party has that type of appeal. It will be many a child’s favorite bedtime story.
Read the rest of Nicole's review on BlogCritics.  Thank you so much, Nicole! 

Review for Ava's Secret Tea Party - Nancy Stewart

It's wonderful to be getting such positive reviews for "Ava's Secret Tea Party." Everyone is raving about the beautiful artwork by Bella Sinclair, and the storyline has been embraced by every reviewer. It's so gratifying to have the book accepted and endorsed after such a long wait. Here's what Nancy has to say:

Sometimes at night when stars shine bright,
Visitors come to call.
Snuggled in bed and sound asleep,
Ava never sees them at all.

This lovely verse begins the magical children's book Ava's Secret Tea Party, written in true rhyme by Donna Shepherd and brimming with sumptuous illustrations by renowned illustrator, Bella Sinclair....
Donna's talent shines through in this marvelous book. The story is enchanting and will warm every little girl's heart. Bella Sinclair's illustrations enhance the story to make a joyous experience for the child and her adult reader as well.
Read the rest of the review on Nancy's blog: Nancy Stewart Books

Review for Ava's Secret Tea Party - Susan J. Berger

From Susan J. Berger:
I read this lovely fairytale to my six year old granddaughter. She loved it. Ava invites The Tooth Fairy, The Sandman, The Easter Bunny and Santa to a tea party. The illustrations by Bella Sinclair are a perfect match for the whimsical text. This is a great read for the younger set. Can't wait til my 17 month old granddaughter is old enough to join in the fun.
Visit Susan on The Pen and Ink Blog:

Review for Ava's Secret Tea Party - Susan Hornbach

Here's what Susan Hornbach wrote about Ava's Secret Tea Party:
This is a beautiful little book to entertain and occupy young children. Ava's Tea Party has brilliant color that pops from the page. The delightful illustrations created by Bella Sinclair are sure to grab a child's interest.

Ava's Tea Party written by Donna J. Shepherd is a winner and I'm sure will become a favorite in a young child's library. I must say it's well deserving of five ***** stars.

Review for Ava's Secret Tea Party - Penelope Anne Cole

A new review has been posted on Amazon for "Ava's Secret Tea Party." 
"Donna J. Shepherd's new book, "Ava's Secret Tea Party," illustrated by Bella Sinclair, is every little girl's secret dream! Who wouldn't want to invite the Sandman, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Santa Claus to come for tea? This is another one of those books that children's book writers see and say, "Now why didn't I think of that?" It's also one of those delicious little books that children will scoop up and demand for a bedtime story again and again." - Penelope Anne Cole
Read the rest of the review on Amazon by clicking the book cover. Check out Penelope's blog here:

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