What a delight to have my friend, an author, poet, Latin and writing teacher, preacher’s kid, and Navy wife,Liz Gauffreau, to be on my blog today. She is a contributing author of Distant Flickers, an anthology by 8 accomplished authors.
~ 8 Accomplished Authors ~ 10 Memorable Stories ~ Compelling Characters at a Crossroads ~ What Choices Will They Make?
The emotive stories in this anthology take readers to the streets of New York and San Francisco, to warm east coast beaches, rural Idaho, and Italy, from the early 1900s, through the 1970s, and into present day.
A sinister woman accustomed to getting everything she wants. A down-on-his luck cook who stumbles on goodness. A young mother who hides $10 she received from a stranger. The boy who collects secrets. A young woman stuck between youth and adulthood. Children who can’t understand why their mother disappears.
The distinct and varied characters in Distant Flickers stand at a juncture. The loss of a spouse, a parent, a child, oneself. Whether they arrived at this place through self-reflection, unexpected change, or new revelations—each one has a choice to make.
Title:Distant Flickers: Stories of Identity & Loss
It smells like what it is, a hospital room cleaned with some serious chemistry.
A window with a bit of a view, a rolling cabinet with a box of tissues, pitcher of water, paper cups and a vase holding some daffodils. A gaze pans to the main attraction, Sophia Marquez, lying on a bed center stage. The woman I married twenty years ago, inspiring poems about bringing candles of love into the cavern of a lonely life.
“A distant flicker reaches us like a star, a distant flicker of light. A sharp, quick spark.” I enjoyed reading this anthology and finished it in one sitting. I love every one of the stories.
Where Secrets Go to Hide by Keith Madsen tells the story of a six-year-old boy. He collects secrets like others collect dolls, coins, stuffed animals, or seashells. He refers to it as some secrets are chosen for him when people start telling him things or he starts observing things he later finds out he is not supposed to observe. He refers to keeping the secrets as storing them from head to toe inside of his pajama with feet that have no way to escape. It must have been a burden for a little boy to carry the secrets into his adulthood.
Norfolk, Virginia, 1975 by Elizabeth Gauffreau is a time capsule of East Ocean View before urban renewal in the1980s. It’s about a young girl who is married, living in a dirty town with her husband and the baby. They rent an apartment with a shower stall but no shower curtain. Her husband falls on the slippery floor and wants her to get a shower curtain. The next day, she walks a long distance trying to buy a cheap shower curtain. She meets a stranger on the way. This encounter opens her eyes to her life and her situation.
A Spoonful of Soul by Rita Baker is a story about a homeless person, Otto. He sits next to a restaurant, waiting for the chef to give him a cup of coffee and a roll. A customer’s comment brings back his memories. This story reminds me of a homeless person who used to be a radio broadcaster with a golden voice. Every homeless person has a unique story.
The stories are based on real situations in the past or the authors’ personal experiences. Each story focuses on a person’s event or situation and infuses it with a spark. It sheds the light on what people “are capable of doing to cope, to recover, to heal, and what we can become as a result-good or evil.” I find the stories insightful, reflective, and sensational. I highly recommend this beautiful book to any reader to enjoy.
Contributing Author Elizabeth Gauffreau
About Elizabeth Gauffreau
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University and an M.A. in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. She is currently the Assistant Dean of Curriculum & Assessment for Champlain College Online, where she is an Associate Professor. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published by Adelaide Books in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband.
It’s my great pleasure to host this virtual book blast for Natural Selection (Dawn of Humanity Book 3) by Jacqui Murray. Jacqui and I followed each other on an exercise app Strava, and give kudo to each other. When her son was in Japan, he signed up for the app also. It was wonderful to watch her son’s walking trails!
In this conclusion to Lucy’s journey, she and her tribe leave their good home to rescue former-tribemembers captured by the enemy. Lucy’s tribe includes a mix of species–a Canis, a Homotherium, and different iterations of early man. In this book, more join and some die, but that is the nature of prehistoric life, where survival depends on a combination of our developing intellect and our inexhaustible will to live. Each species brings unique skills to this task. Based on true events.
Set 1.8 million years ago in Africa, Lucy and her tribe struggle against the harsh reality of a world ruled by nature, where predators stalk them and a violent new species of man threatens to destroy their world. Only by changing can they prevail. If you ever wondered how earliest man survived but couldn’t get through the academic discussions, this book is for you. Prepare to see this violent and beautiful world in a way you never imagined.
A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!
Title and author: Natural Selection by Jacqui Murray
I asked Jacqui to share some insight about the early man with us. This is the topic I asked her to share.
Was Early Man Spiritual?
The answer to this question—was early man spiritual–is complicated. There is no obvious evidence that our earliest ancestors—like the character Lucy in my novel—was spiritual. They didn’t bury their dead. They didn’t draw on cave walls or carve statuettes of creatures that looked nothing like those who inhabited their environs. They didn’t write on rocks or tablets, sing songs or tell stories that were passed on to children and tribe members. If Lucy prayed, she left nothing behind to prove that to scientists and researchers. The limited artifacts available from earliest man indicates nothing about activities pursued other than those of their prime instinctive directive–to procreate and survive. It would be over a million years before scientists got the first hint of religious behavior from evolving man–he began to bury his dead, sometimes with flowers to ease his passage.
So, if we can’t find proof in artifacts and cultural remains, how about in their growing brain. Scientists tirelessly study what skulls they have available to see if they provide proof of a belief in something spiritual. Lucy’s brain and those of her kind is larger in different places than other mammals, portions that in modern man we believe is engaged in problem solving and critical thinking. These skills arguably differentiate our genus Homo from the prior genus Australopithecus. As man’s brain continued to evolve, those portions continued to grow as did man’s skill with symbolic and critical thinking, and maybe—or maybe not—spiritual belief.
None of this says the early man was or wasn’t spiritual. All it says is, whichever it was, we can’t prove it.
In Natural Selection, Book 3 of the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Garv found Lucy and started their own tribe, separate from Raza. Raza’s tribe members were captured by Xha’s former tribe. Lucy traveled a great distance to track down the captors in order to rescue the captives. The temporary new leader, Advak, and the leaders in Xha’s tribe captured Raza and his tribe members to be their slaves. Some slaves did as demanded, feared of being killed. Xha joined Lucy and her tribe to search for his former tribe and claimed he was a more capable leader of his tribe. Lucy confirmed Xha was not among the captors.
During the journey, Lucy showed her communication skills through facial expressions, hand gestures, and vocal sounds. Lucy had the skill of healing using honey and leaves. There was plenty of action in the wild along their way such as a large pack of hyaena killing a gazelle, nipping at their legs, faces, and chests.
Lucy’s group finally caught up with the captives and realized they had settled into the camp’s routine, complied with demands, and accepted this life as their new reality. Raza survived, but many of his tribe members didn’t. Xha suspected that this home base was where Advak settled and proclaimed to be their new leader. Lucy wanted Xha to take her to the camp as a new captive. When they got there, Xha discovered the warrior Vex was ill. Lucy healed him and established herself as a healer. Lucy wanted Vex to help the captives to escape. In the epilogue, Ms. Murray shared some research and interesting findings about Xha.
This is the first prehistoric thriller I’ve read. Jacqui Murray’s glossary, names of the tribes and their members, questions & answers prior to the first chapter, was very helpful for me to follow the who, where, how, and why. I appreciated her extensive research to create this wonderful fiction.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to the United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.
The Canis’ packmates were all dead, each crumpled in a smeared puddle of blood, Upright killing sticks embedded where they should never be. His body shook, but he remembered his training. The killers’ scent filled the air. If they saw him—heard him—they would come for him, too, and he must survive. He was the last of his pack.
He padded quietly through the bodies, paused at his mate, broken, eyes open, tongue out, pup under her chest, his head crushed. A moan slipped from his muzzle and spread around him. He swallowed what remained in his mouth. Without a pack, silence was his only protection. He knew to be quiet, but today, now, failed.
To his horror, a departing Upright looked back, face covered in Canis blood, meaty shreds dripping from his mouth, the body of a dead pup slung over his shoulder. The Canis sank into the brittle grass and froze. The Upright scanned the massacre, saw the Canis’ lifeless body, thought him dead like the rest of the decimated pack. Satisfied, he turned away and rushed after his departing tribe. The Canis waited until the Upright was out of sight before cautiously rising and backing away from the onslaught, eyes on the vanished predators in case they changed their minds.
He had planned to descend into the gully behind him. Sun’s shadows were already covering it in darkness which would hide him for the night, but he had gauged his position wrong. Suddenly, earth disappeared beneath his huge paws. He tried to scrabble to solid ground, but his weight and size worked against him and he tumbled down the steep slope. The loose gravel made gripping impossible, but he dug his claws in anyway, whining once when his shoulder slammed into a rock, and again when his head bounced off a tree stump. Pain tore through his ear as flesh ripped, dangling in shreds as it slapped the ground. He kept his legs as close as possible to his body and head tucked, thankful this hill ended in a flat field, not a river.
Or a cliff.
When it finally leveled out, he scrambled to his paws, managed to ignore the white-hot spikes shrieking through his head as he spread his legs wide. Blood wafted across his muzzle. He didn’t realize it was his until the tart globs dripped down his face and plopped to the ground beneath his quaking chest. The injured animal odor, raw flesh and fresh blood, drew predators. In a pack, his mate would purge it by licking the wound. She would pronounce him Ragged-ear, the survivor.
Ragged-ear is a strong name. A good one.
He panted, tail sweeping side to side, and his indomitable spirit re-emerged.
But no one else in his pack did.
Except, maybe, the female called White-streak. She often traveled alone, even when told not to. If she was away during the raid, she may have escaped. He would find her. Together, they would start over.
Ragged-ear shook, dislodging the grit and twigs from his now-grungy fur. That done, he sniffed out White-streak’s odor, discovered she had also descended here. His injuries forced him to limp and blood dripping from his tattered ear obstructed his sight. He stumbled trying to leap over a crack and fell into the fissure. Fire shot through his shoulder, exploded up his neck and down his chest. Normally, that jump was easy. He clambered up its crumbling far wall, breaking several of his yellowed claws.
All of that he ignored because it didn’t matter to his goal.
Daylight came and went as he followed White-streak, out of a forest onto dry savannah that was nothing like his homeland.
Why did she go here?
He embraced the tenderness that pulsed throughout his usually-limber body. It kept him angry and that made him vicious. He picked his way across streams stepping carefully on smooth stones, their damp surfaces slippery from the recent heavy rain, ignoring whoever hammered with a sharp rock inside his head. His thinking was fuzzy, but he didn’t slow. Survival was more important than comfort, or rest.
Ragged-ear stopped abruptly, nose up, sniffing. What had alerted him? Chest pounding, breathing shallow, he studied the forest that blocked his path, seeking anything that shouldn’t be there.
But the throbbing in his head made him miss Megantereon.
Ragged-ear padded forward, slowly, toward the first tree, leaving only the lightest of trails, the voice of Mother in his head.
Yes, your fur color matches the dry stalks, but the grass sways when you move. That gives away your location so always pay attention.
His hackles stiffened and he snarled, out of instinct, not because he saw Megantereon. Its shadowy hiding place was too dark for Ragged-ear’s still-fuzzy thinking. The She-cat should have waited for Ragged-ear to come closer, but she was hungry, or eager, or some other reason, and sprang. Her distance gave the Canis time to back pedal, protecting his soft underbelly from her attack. Ragged-ear was expert at escaping, but his stomach spasmed and he lurched to a stop with a yowl of pain. Megantereon’s next leap would land her on Ragged-ear, but to the Canis’ surprise, the She-cat staggered to a stop, and then howled.
While she had been stalking Ragged-ear, a giant Snake had been stalking her. When she prepared her death leap, Snake dropped to her back and began to wrap itself around her chest. With massive coils the size of Megantereon’s leg, trying to squirm away did no good.
Ragged-ear tried to run, but his legs buckled. Megantereon didn’t care because she now fought a rival that always won. The She-cat’s wails grew softer and then silent. Ragged-ear tasted her death as he dragged himself into a hole at the base of an old tree, as far as possible from scavengers who would be drawn to the feast.
He awoke with Sun’s light, tried to stand, but his legs again folded. Ragged-ear remained in the hole, eyes closed, curled around himself to protect his vulnerable stomach, his tail tickling his nose, comforting.
He survived the Upright’s assault because they deemed him dead. He would not allow them to be right.
Sun came and went. Ragged-ear consumed anything he could find, even eggs, offal, and long-dead carcasses his pack normally avoided. His legs improved until he could chase rats, fat round ground birds, and moles, a welcome addition to his diet. Sometimes, he vomited what he ate and swallowed it again. The day came he once again set out after what remained of his pack, his pace more sluggish than prior to the attack, but quick enough for safety.
Ragged-ear picked up the female’s scent again and tracked her to another den. He slept there for the night and repeated his hunt the next day and the next. When he couldn’t find her trace, instinct drove him and memories of the dying howls of his pack, from the adults who trusted their Alpha Ragged-ear to protect them to the whelps who didn’t understand the presence of evil in their bright world.
Everywhere he traveled, when he crossed paths with an Upright, it was their final battle.
It’s my great pleasure to welcome my friend, the author, poet, and artist, Diana Wallace Peach, to my blog. I had a delightful time meeting with Diana, Terri Webster Schrandt, and Marsha Ingrao in Portland, Oregon, in September. We chatted. We laughed. We shared about the latest in our lives. I was happy that Diana’s husband was recovering well from his surgery. We’re in the process of selling our house in Southern California. It may take a while since people may not want to move during the major holidays. It’ll be exciting to see her more often after our move to Portland.
It’s my privilege to host Diana’s blog tour to share her new release, The Necromancer’s Daughter.
A healer and dabbler in the dark arts of life and death, Barus is as gnarled as an ancient tree. Forgotten in the chaos of the dying queen’s chamber, he spirits away her stillborn infant, and in a hovel at the meadow’s edge, he breathes life into the wisp of a child. He names her Aster for the lea’s white flowers. Raised as his daughter, she learns to heal death.
Then the day arrives when the widowed king, his own life nearing its end, defies the Red Order’s warning. He summons the necromancer’s daughter, his only heir, and for his boldness, he falls to an assassin’s blade.
While Barus hides from the Order’s soldiers, Aster leads their masters beyond the wall into the Forest of Silvern Cats, a land of dragons and barbarian tribes. She seeks her mother’s people, the powerful rulers of Blackrock, uncertain whether she will find sanctuary or face a gallows’ noose.
Unprepared for a world rife with danger, a world divided by those who practice magic and those who hunt them, she must choose whether to trust the one man offering her aid, the one man most likely to betray her—her enemy’s son.
A healer with the talent to unravel death, a child reborn, a father lusting for vengeance, and a son torn between justice, faith, and love. Caught in a chase spanning kingdoms, each must decide the nature of good and evil, the lengths they will go to survive, and what they are willing to lose.
I’m a huge fan of Diana Peach’s fantasy books. I admire her poetic writing. Her vivid description of the characters and well-developed world engages my imagination and takes me through an unforgettable journey from the beginning to the end.
The Necromancer’s Daughter is a heart-wrenching yet beautiful story of love, politics, power struggle, and prejudice. The story grabs the reader’s emotions from the beginning. King Aldring loves his wife, the Princess of Blackrock. He summons Barus, the necromancer, to resurrect the queen and the infant should they die. In her last breath, the queen pleas to save the child. When the king learns the queen is dead and the baby is a girl, he sends Barus home. Barus is in love with the infant and hides her under his garment to take her home.
Barus follows the recipe in her adopted mother, Olma’s book, to awaken Aster from the dead and raise her as his own. Aster grows up as a passionate and gentle soul with silvery flowing hair, practicing herbal medicine and resurrecting animals. She is natural to connect with a dragon emotionally. The king knows she is his daughter and visits her every year on her birthday. As the king’s health declines, he summons her on her nineteenth birthday to return to the palace as his successor.
The vicar Tamus Graeger denies Aster and condemns the resurrection as evil. He orders the soldiers to kill Barus and Aster. Once captured, he wants to hang Aster. Aster helps her crippled father flee when their home is burned to ashes. She ensures Barus’s safety at Rebeka’s home and continues to run to get help from her uncle, the Blackrock King. Tamus’s son, Joreh, accompanies Aster’s escape and believes she deserves a fair trial.
The journey of escape through the forest is full of danger from the wild creatures and the tribes’ attacks on each other. After being raised from the dead, the funny character Teko at Cattieut forest, with one green eye and one blue eye, joined in escorting Aster to Blackrock.
To ensure Aster’s claim as his niece, King Atrayal of Blackrock wants her to show her ability to connect with dragons, the trait her mother queen possesses. King Atrayal is pleased with the test. He wants Aster to claim the throne of Verdane and serves as an ambassador for the peace of all the tribes.
I listened to the book with the text-to-speech feature on my iPad. The story was engaging with vivid descriptions of the characters’ interactions and scenes. Each chapter ending hooked me on to the next. I was emotionally connected to the characters and wished for the safety of Aster and Barus. The genuine friendship between Aster and Joreh warmed my heart. Diana Peach created believable characters. Aster and Barus were humans practicing healing. They didn’t possess magic or superpower to defeat their enemies. They went through struggles and suffered ill-treatment from their attackers. All they could do was use their wisdom to survive the adversaries understanding that “every time you choose one path, you must live with the possibilities of the other.”
This is a masterpiece and a wonderful creation. I had my secret wishes for the ending, but it came as a surprise. The book ended, but my emotions linger. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of this beauty.
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life when years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books. She was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
It’s my pleasure to host Day 3 of the new anthology Visions, compiled and edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.
Five digital copies will be given away in a random drawing at the end of the tour. Each stop visited earns an entry. Let me know you were there by leaving a comment.
An author’s visions are revealed through their stories. Many authors have strange and unusual stories, indeed. Within these pages, you will find the stories of eighteen different authors, each unique and thought-provoking. These are the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, and horror stories that will keep you awake long into the night.
What happens when:
An inexplicable monster plagues a town for generations, taking people… and souvenirs?
A post-apocalyptic band of travelers finds their salvation in an archaic machine?
The prey turns out to be the predator for a band of human traffickers?
Someone chooses to be happy in a world where emotions are regulated and controlled?
My guess today is one contributor, DL Mullan. This is her inspiration behind The Reality Hackers.
The Reality Hackers is one of those once-in-a-lifetime stories that combines complex ideas rather seamlessly. From quantum reality, spirituality, science fact, and genealogy, this short story is not only a good genre but much of the narrative is based on fact as well as personal experience. There is plenty of reality in The Reality Hackers that has far-reaching implications in our daily lives.
As part of my Legacy Universe on Undawnted, I incorporate my family’s genealogy into my creative writings. John and Elleanor Chisum were real people and my ancestors from the 1700s. Gillespie and Isham (pronounced: EYE-som) are family surnames as well. I enjoy immortalizing my pedigree in my stories because I like how this aspect grounds the spiritual and fantasy elements of the material world.
Personal experience along with science and military facts also helps to keep this story established in the realm of possibility. For example, the explosion and implosion described at the beginning of the story are a real-life scene that I had witnessed in the Sonoran Desert on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona circa 2005. From what has been explained to me by a private government contractor, this device is next generation military technology. Another researcher confirmed that the phrase: Special Access Project is real. These projects are under Black Operations Budgets and managed by private military and industry contractors. There is little Congressional or Presidential oversight of these programs, which makes them unconstitutional and therefore illegal to fund and operate, yet many exist under these conditions.
Organic consciousness appears in this genre tale through the Intelligence Community’s released support documentation. The Central Intelligence Agency, along with the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences, experimented with human consciousness known as the “Analysis and Assessment of Gateway Process.” The Hall of Records is really the Akashic Records, which many in the spiritual community have discovered through various meditative techniques, and corresponds to the government’s own controlled studies. The Looking Glass is a real technology hidden by the government and military that uses quantum mechanics, consciousness, and the dynamic universe model’s principles of electromagnetism that fuses intentions, imagination, and the human brain to create, maintain, and influence reality. The Looking Glass is a black cube that only a few people have ever seen and in 2012 stopped working, according to a private government contractor who once held it. As a consequence, we are living in a convergence of realities due to the overuse and abuse of consciousness processes and that predictive technology.
There is more to these hidden mechanisms than is observed by the average person. For instance, the Gateway Process is technical psychological jargon for quantum reality. A quantum computer is a device that every human owns. The brain we possess is that subatomic manipulator. In The Reality Hackers, the characters learn that if you believe in a concept, that a person’s intentions and imagination can make that notion real. Except the quantum assertions discussed as fiction, are indeed based on scientific fact. You can change your stars, as the movies say, and manifest your destiny through your conscious thoughts and living imagination. Trust the science. Actually, trust yourself.
The Reality Hackers is so much more than a good short story; it’s a guide to living your best intentions. With a firm foundation in the material world through genealogy, military programs, intelligence experiments, and spiritual principles, this narrative is a timeless tale of enduring love, good winning over evil, and the power of the human mind. In decades to come, our ideas about life may change, but The Reality Hackers’ lessons in believing, intending, and imagining a positive future through the use of our personal quantum computers will remain science fact.
Dawn has created a page on her site dedicated to her story. Please visit her at:
A writer at heart, Undawnted’s own creative spark, DL Mullan, began writing short stories and poetry before adolescence. Over the years, Ms. Mullan has showcased her literary talents by self-publishing several collections of her poetry. She also writes novels, designs apparel, and creates digital art. Ms. Mullan‘s creative writing is available in digital and print collections, from academia to commercial anthologies. As an independent publisher, she produces her own book cover designs as well as maintains her own websites. She is an award-winning digital artist and poet. This year, DL Mullan has begun sharing her knowledge via A Novelist Idea Newsletter. If you too want to become a Fearless Phile, then subscribe to her newsletter at www.undawnted.com.
Learn. Grow. Master… with Undawnted.
Monday – October 17 – Guest Post – Billie Holladay Skelley & Intro. & Winning Story Interview with Roberta Eaton Cheadle – Writing to be Read
Tuesday – October 18 – Guest Post – Michaele Jordan – Patty’s World
Wednesday – October 19 – Guest Post – D.L. Mullan – The Showers of Blessings
Thursday – October 20 – Guest Post – C.R. Johanssen – Robbie’s Inspiration
Friday – October 21 – Guest Post – Patty L. Fletcher & Review – Zigler’s News
Saturday – October 22 – Guest Post – Jeff Bowles – Writing to be Read & Interview w/ Kaye Lynne Booth on SaraWesleyMcBride.com
Sunday – October 23 – Guest Post – Stephanie Kraner – Roberta Writes
Monday – October 24 – Guest Post – Joseph Carabis – Writing to be Read & Review – Undawnted
I’m delighted to welcome Robbie and Michael Cheadle to my blog today. They have a new book for your trick-or-tricking fun read with delicious recipes for the activities.
Haunted Halloween Holiday WordCrafter Book Blog Tour
For a chance to win one of three US$10 Amazon vouchers or one of three paperback copies of the Haunted Halloween Holiday, just leave a comment to show you were here.
Follow the tour and comment at each stop for more chances to win.
The prizes will be given away in a random drawing.
Robbie has been writing children’s books with her son Michael for years. It’s an admirable project between mother and son for such a long time. I invited Robbie to talk about Michael and their children’s books.
Hi Robbie, how did you begin writing children’s books with Michael?
Thank you for this question, Miriam. Michael and I started writing together when he was six years old and learning to read and write in Grade 1 at school.
We discovered that year that Michael has a processing learning barrier, and this made reading and writing a little more challenging for him. He is very imaginative and came up with the idea of a little man made of chocolate who lived in a world where you could eat everything. I started helping him develop his ideas, which always started with characters, into rhyming verse stories, and encouraged him to write them down. That was the beginning of the Sir Chocolate series of books.
As time passed, Michael’s enjoyment of sculpturing and baking came to the fore, and we started making 3-D illustrations for the books from fondant, cake, and biscuits.
My brother-in-law suggested we include the recipes and turn our story ideas into a series of first cookbooks for children. We did that and I was fortunate, the third small publisher I sent our ideas to loved them and agreed to publish the books.
That was a steep learning curve at the time for both Anne Samson, director of TSL Publications, and myself. The Sir Chocolate books were among the first children’s books Anne published, so we learned together. My photography and design skills have improved significantly over the past six years since Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream berries story and cookbook were published in August 2016. Of course, my fondant and cake art skills have also improved year-on-year.
The haunted Halloween Holiday came about through discussions with Michael about acceptance of difference and depression. Generation Z is a lot more attuned to social and cultural issues than my generation was, and I learn a lot from him.
I have always enjoyed the concept of Halloween, which doesn’t really feature here in South Africa, so I had been making Halloween-related cakes and figurines for a few years. I put several of these creations into this book, and I think they are my best illustrations to date. I particularly like Jack Frost and his white wonderland.
It’s wonderful to hear that, Robbie! What you did with Michael has been empowering his growth and deepening your relationship with him.
Do you see your personality traits in Michael? What are they?
I see personality traits of both mine and my husband’s in both our sons.
Michael has a lot of my artistic characteristics. He is good with color and sculpture and has a good eye for detail and proportion, which is important for this type of art. He also has an amazing imagination. My favorite of his character ideas is the Ice-cream Rainbow Fairies which represent all sorts of different flavors of ice cream. We made up that story together when we were in New Zealand in August 2016. New Zealand is known for its dairy products and has superb ice cream and chocolate. The fairies’ idea developed after a visit to a local ice cream shop which had the biggest array of ice cream flavors I’ve ever seen.
Michael has always read a little slower than Greg and I, but I read every day with him until he was twelve years old. He has an average reading speed for his age group now, which I consider a great achievement.
Michael has suffered ill health all his life and during his long periods of illness, he listened to a lot of audiobooks. I had the entire Roald Dahl series, Enid Blyton Famous Five series, and several classic children’s books like The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat and E Nesbit’s books including The Railway Children, Five Children and It, The Carpet and the Phoenix, and others.
I think both my sons’ love of reading comes from me. Terence isn’t a big reader.
Michael also enjoys writing poetry and has written some good pieces recently.
Michael also has my ability to completely disengage from anything that doesn’t interest him. This is also one of my less admirable characteristics, and I never learned to speak Afrikaans as well as I could have as a result. Thank you, Miriam, for these great questions and for hosting my post today.
You’re welcome, Robbie. It’s my pleasure to have you.
About Haunted Halloween Holiday
Count Sugar is delighted when the Sugarpop Bats invites his family to a Halloween party at the Haunted House. He and his wife, Witch Honey, decide to hire a caravan and enjoy a weekend away with their family.
Includes some fun limericks to introduce the various characters.
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.
The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions that children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9. Count Sugar and his family hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.
Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.
In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.