Tell us about yourself!
Tell us about your chapter books.
The contemporary stories are sometimes humorous and sometimes dramatic, but always action-packed. They are secular but model good, old-fashioned values.
There are usually a few story lines going on which weave together by the end! This helps different age groups and genders find someone they can relate to. The books appeal equally well to boys and girls.
The ideal age group for the books is K-5th grade. This level of reading is technically called early middle grade: a step above chapter books in vocabulary and sentence structure, but a step below standard middle grade in both length and the maturity level of the content.
(Standard middle grade is for ages 8-12).
I most often tell people the books are for an advanced younger reader who’s 6 or 7, or for an on-level reader who’s 8-10.
What kind of child are you trying to reach with your books?
I like to appeal to a wide audience with my books, and I think they do just that. Boys and girls. Animal lovers (especially dog lovers!). Children who wish they had a dog but it’s not feasible for their families.
I also like to include a bit of mystery in the books – not an actual whodunnit, but just a touch of mystery to keep the reader guessing.
The books are evergreen titles, meaning they were written not to reflect current trends or popular topics, but to be general enough in their themes that they’d be relevant year after year.
I also really enjoy writing books set around holidays! This is kind of a hallmark of the series so far. I have a book for Halloween, Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and a collection of short stories.
I also have one book for each month, which includes holidays such as Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. I started writing these because my kids and I really loved getting books from the library that focused on the holiday at hand, and there were never enough in the chapter book and middle grade section for our liking!
Incidentally, I focused on getting my books into libraries because they were so important to me growing up. They still are to my children, from the time they were toddlers–wonderful, curious students–to now at ages 15 and 18.
Fun fact: Rosco the Rascal books are in 300 libraries across the US. Please request the books, available in hardcover, from your local library if you don’t find them at yours.
Give us a little flavor of some great characters or the setting.
My bestselling book is my third book, Rosco the Rascal Goes to Camp. (The books can be read in any order!) I give away this book entirely for free in ebook form if you sign up for my newsletter.
Here’s the blurb for the book:
Ten-year-old James and his seven-year-old sister, Mandy are off to summer camp with their loyal German shepherd, Rosco.
While Mandy struggles with homesickness, James’s week is threatened by a prank-playing bunkmate’s antics. But, during an unexpected thunderstorm in a game of capture-the-flag, the troublemaker finds himself lost, alone and injured deep inside the forest.
Rosco must play the hero and save the boy, but not before he teaches him a hard-earned lesson about friendship.
Join Rosco and the gang in their third adventure, this time, out in the woods!
Here’s a wonderful review from Story Monsters Ink magazine:
“The author’s personal love for summer camp and her great German shepherd dog flows through the story loud and clear. The daily details so orderly laid out will make children hopeful for such a fun summer experience.
This is a great bridge book that will carry young readers further into their literary journey. The theme is pertinent, the characters relatable, and the outcome substantial. It will carry a love for reading into a more personal focus, developing an interest for novels.
A young girl accompanies her older brother for her first big sleep-away adventure at Camp Hickory Ridge. Timid and unsure, her brother comforts her with the assurance she will enjoy herself so much that she won’t be able to wait until next year comes again.
Many may fondly remember the growth, the development, and solidifying of our sense of self that came in those times of a peer society. Challenges, victories, even failures, that brought us home champions.”
Darleen Wohlfeil, Story Monsters Ink magazine, June 2016
What inspired you to write this series?
I have always loved reading and children’s books. I was inspired to write the series when my son was in first grade. He tore through all of the early reader chapter books by mid year. They had to send him up to the second grade room to find more books!
I wanted something that was completely G-rated in content but a little more challenging for those hungry, little minds who love to devour books. So I turned what had been a partial picture book manuscript into an early middle grade series.
Once I’d written and published the first one, I was hooked!
How did you know you wanted to be an author?
I majored in writing and journalism in college. English classes were always the easiest and favorite of my studies. I’m weird because I love grammar, vocabulary, spelling, and editing!
However, I also loved art. I went on to become a graphic designer, which I worked in for about 10 years. I think it was just a matter of time until I got into writing fiction once I became a stay-at-home mom. I still use my design skills to create graphics and build websites for myself. I can no longer even imagine not writing any more books!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice is to go for it! There aren’t any better jobs in the world if you love writing.
But a word to the wise: An author today who’d like to make it in the business has to wear a lot of hats–whether traditionally or self-published. No matter how great a book is, it won’t sell on it’s own just because it was published. To sell it, your book must be marketed. This can be done using some of the following: a newsletter, social media, direct advertising, content marketing, blogging, or by curating reviews.
Then, for children’s authors, there are book signings, school visits, and book festivals to attend if you can (although in-person events aren’t a must if you can learn to advertise and have the funds to do it).
Don’t forget networking, researching, bookkeeping, and other training. It can also take years and LOTS of books to build a name for yourself. But it can be very rewarding, and I love it.
What formats are your books available in?
Find them all here (affiliate).
If you’re in the market for more animal-based chapter books, I’d love to share my series with you! Collar Cases is a Christian mystery series for readers 7-12.
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