Alana Dorrell

Meet Featured Indie Author Alana Dorrell!

Join us for a Meet the Author Story Time on Saturday, February 24 at 1:00pm.

The author asks to bring a grandparent to this special story time!

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Florida with my two sisters, Amy and Allison.  We lived with our mom and grandparents on their farm in the Redlands, FL while our mom went to school and worked after she and our father were divorced.  I was a tomboy growing up on the farm riding horses and playing outside most of the time with the neighborhood kids and my sisters.  I went to the University of Florida and earned my degree in Education.  In college I was chosen, along with nine other students, to teach at Benjamin Franklin International School in Barcelona, Spain.  I taught Kindergarten for a summer to children who were from all over the world.  After college I had the travel bug and decided to become a flight attendant, as my two aunts and mother had been when they were in their twenties.  I still work as a flight attendant today for the same great company that my grandfather and uncle worked for.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?

I fly during the week and I’ve recently been working on a goal setting curriculum for women entrepreneurs. I travel for fun a few times a year with my love, John and our families. We enjoy being at home cooking and entertaining with friends and family.  We have a ten-year-old rescue lab named Jackson who is the love of our lives.

3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In college.  The idea for my book was part of a class project and I remember working on it and wanting it to be perfect.  I felt so strongly about how I wanted people to feel after they read it, and I knew when I was finished that the message was great and the subtle humor was exactly what I wanted to come through. It was a pretty basic story and I have always wanted to turn it into what it finally is today. I still have the original book that I wrote, illustrated badly, and bound myself when I was twenty-one.

4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

When I write, I try to write for both adults and children.  In Grandpa? I Wanted to Ask... I want children to laugh, and show them another way to “see” Grandpa. For adults, I hope that I can spark some of their own innocent, warm memories of being a child and inspire them to share their stories with their children.

5. Do you have an upcoming book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes, I hope to write several books in the series titled “Wondrous Days of the 3A’s”.  I’m currently working on the second book about Grandma.  Readers will get to know her and start to see more of Alana’s two sisters, Amy and Allie, and their friends.  The message of the series is paying attention to the people in our lives and the importance of investing time in relationships. 

6. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

The main characters in my book are real and the scenes are based on my childhood experiences and how I felt about my grandfather. We were lucky enough to grow up on a farm playing outside all of the time with our friends making up games, building forts, or just going for a long rides on our horses.

7. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I love the ending of my book when little Alana comes to a sweet realization about her Grandpa.  I wanted to tie everything together and stay true to the message of the story, which is paying attention.

8. Who is an author that you look up to today?

Harper Lee.  I think her style of writing is so heartfelt and honest from the perspective of Scout.  She brings in the truth of love and innocence with her details in descriptions.

9. What is your favorite genre of book to read?

Historic Fiction.  I love being pulled into characters’ lives while they navigate through the times they live in.  I like to know how they felt and how they were affected by the events that surrounded them.

10. What is your favorite book?

Right now, it’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  I’m currently reading Go Set a Watchman to find out what happens to Scout!

11. Is there any particular authors or books that influenced you growing up?

I read a lot of Marguerite Henry’s books about horses which was my entire life when I was a little girl.  Anything that was about them made me happy.  I used to go out with a book and just lie on my pony’s back and read for hours.

12. Who is an author that has inspired you?

Dr. Seuss.  I love the messages in his books that are both smart and humorous.

13. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write about you.  What you know, who you love, and what fills you with happiness.  When I sit down to write and I create an atmosphere that is conducive to putting my mind in a calm and happy place.  I’ve finally learned to just write and not edit until I’m done.  If I can’t figure out how to get my message across I just stop.  I don’t force it and typically a day or two later it comes to me.  Sometimes I’ll be at work and the idea hits me out of the blue.  I write it down immediately so I can work on it later.

14. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?

There are many types of families.  Ours is ours.  And when we take the time to pay attention, interact, and invest our time with them we learn, as we get older, that nothing that happens in the world will make us feel better than them.  

 

The Joys of Rereading

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There are all sorts of readers in the world. Escapists, discoverers, arm-chair travelers, and so on. Readers may find themselves in one, or several, of these groups.

There is one small subgroup of readers, however, that you either belong to or you don't: rereaders.

Those who are not rereaders may be baffled that some spend precious minutes that could be used to read something new perusing a book for a second, or even fifteenth, time. Rereaders may feel just as baffled that others wouldn't want to immerse themselves in a beloved or remarkable story multiple times.

But with all of the books out there, who has the time to reread?!?

Rereading usually happens around the holidays (oh, the nostalgia of the holidays) or when a reader is in a certain mood. Rereading also helps readers out of reading slumps.

But still, why reread? There are other ways to cure reading slumps, other ways for a new book to satisfy a mood.

There is nothing like the joy of reading a book for the first time; however, first-read thrills can't always compete with the joys found in a well-loved story. There is joy in the comfort of revisiting a story, joy in better understanding a book, and joy in deep familiarity with a world found between the pages.

Those who reread for comfort simply feel at home in a certain book's world. These are the books we return to when we're stressed out, overwhelmed (or underwhelmed), or just need a lift. They help us grapple with disappointed hopes or difficult times. They remind us that the world contains both sorrow and beauty, pain and joy.

Those who reread for understanding reread in order to grasp the nuance or details of a book. These books usually hold a significant place in the life of the reader. They've caused paradigm shifts or made the reader look at the world in a wholly new way. These kinds of revelations, of course, require deeper thought and a careful understanding of the journey on which these books take the reader.

Those who reread for familiarity can quote from these beloved books, they know them so well. People who are fans of a book can recite the most famous parts, but those with true familiarity can call up lines or whole passages for fitting situations or as a way to connect with others who share the same love for that text. 

What do you reread and why?

Books that Feel Like Winter

Whether unconsciously or intentionally, we often gravitate toward books that evoke the season that surrounds us. Winter reads are the coziest of all seasonal reads. They are often deeper and more meaningful than those which echo other seasons, speaking to themes that we may not feel drawn toward during the brighter months, but which seem to invite us as we hunker down out of the wind and cold. 

Picture Books

An ode to serendipity & belief that is destined to be a new Christmas classic. Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each another again. Luckily, it's just the season for miracles.

From Matt Tavares comes a heart-tugging story combining the cheer of Christmas, the magic of New York City, and the real meaning of the holiday season: how important it is to be surrounded by love.

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Far to the north by the great Arctic Sea, where the winter sun barely rises above the horizon, live the People Who Fear the Winter Night. On the long winter nights the People huddle around their hearths, fearing visits from terrible Blizzard, who can destroy anything with its icy winds and snow.

Among the People lives a young girl named Teune -- the finest robemaker they have ever known. One night while Blizzard rages outside, the sparks from Teune's fire accidentally set fire to Blizzard's magnificent robe and consume it. But while the People Who Fear the Winter Night rejoice that Blizzard is no longer a threat, Teune sorrows that Blizzard's mighty robe is destroyed and sets out to make amends.

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Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues, and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird.

But there is no answer.

Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don't need words. You don't need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn't an owl, but sometimes there is.

A beautiful story that puts you in the winter mindset, snow or no snow.

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Middle Grades Books

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Our story begins on a frosty night…
Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair. But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.

A darker tale for the upper middle grade readers, this companion to Mafi's Furthermore is perfect for winter.

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Lily refuses to believe what everyone else accepts to be true: that her father has died while climbing Denali, the highest mountain in North America. Lily has grown up hiking in the Alaskan wilderness with her dad. He's an expert climber. There's no way he would let something like this happen. So instead of grieving, Lily decides to rescue him. Her plan takes her to Denali and on a journey that tests her physically and emotionally.

In this powerful debut, Hannah Moderow has written an authentic Alaskan adventure that crosses terrain both beautiful and haunting—and ultimately shows the bond of family and the wonder of wild places. (And what could be more wintery than the frozen Alaskan wilderness?)

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Harry Potter lives with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But a mysterious visitor tells him the truth about himself: he's a wizard. Harry is taken to his new school, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry finally feels like a normal kid, but even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the Boy Who Lived.

Though Harry's first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it's his responsibility to prevent it

from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces darker than he could have imagined.

Full of sympathetic characters, wildly imaginative situations, and countless exciting details, the first installment in the series assembles an unforgettable magical world and sets the stage for many high-stakes adventures to come. It may just be me, but Harry Potter always feels like Christmas.

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Welcome back to the irresistible world of Greenglass House where thirteen-year-old Milo is, once again, spending the winter holidays stuck in a house full of strange guests who are not what they seem. There are fresh clues to uncover as friends old and new join in his search for a mysterious map and a famous smuggler’s lost haul.

We're back to the mysteries of the Greenglass House and it's unusual guests in the second installment in this series. It's perfect for an intriguing read during the holiday break.

 

Early Young Adult & Classics

A charming and suspenseful tale based on "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it's taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation:

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

Christmas is a key element in this retelling, and much revolves around the snow and the cold, making it a perfect winter read.

 

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In a house haunted by memories, the past is everywhere … As darkness falls, a man caught in a snowstorm is forced to shelter at the strange, grim house Wuthering Heights. It is a place he will never forget. There he will come to learn the story of Cathy: how she was forced to choose between her well-meaning husband and the dangerous man she had loved since she was young. How her choice led to betrayal and terrible revenge – and continues to torment those in the present. How love can transgress authority, convention, and even death.

The bleakness of this classic is perfect for the coming icy winter months. The wild dark of the moors (and a few of the characters) mirrors the dark and cold outside our windows.

 

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Anthony & Jeremhy Cesar

Meet Featured Indie Authors Anthony and Jeremhy Cesar!

Join us for a Book Signing on Saturday, November 18 from 1 - 2pm.

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Anthony (A): My name is Anthony Cesar and I have been writing this book since I was nine. Also, I have Asperger's, and this book is about my perspective on the world.

Jeremhy (J): My name is Jeremhy Cesar, and I am Anthony Cesar’s brother. I assisted in the creation of Molly and Mousey: The Idiotic Husband. I started high school at the age of 12, and I help Anthony to write books from my experiences in English at school.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?

A: When I am not writing, I watch TV or read a book because it gives me ideas for my next story.

J: When I am not writing, I am studying because I love intelligence, playing some sort of puzzle game (e.g., Chess, Monopoly, Sudoku), or on leisure time. Sometimes there is an overlap between studying and leisure.

3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I first realized I wanted to be a writer when I started watching a lot of cartoons. Watching those cartoons made me want to make my own show and write my own episodes.

J: When Anthony and I started playing toys at a young age, Anthony realized that he wanted to write a book about the episodes we played. When we drafted the first story, it underwent many edits and changes. At that point, I realized I wanted to help Anthony become a writer and also become a writer myself.

4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A: I can type very fast.

J: If you consider breaking all the lead in a pencil within a day, then yes, I do have an interesting writing quirk. Funny story actually: I bought a six-pack of mechanical pencils
(never buy just six pencils if you’re out), and while I was studying math, I went through all of those pencils, I kid you not, in two hours.

5. Do you have an upcoming book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

A: Yes, there will be an upcoming book. The next book is going to be much crazier than the first story, while giving everyone a good laugh and keeping them on the edge of their
seats.

J: Yes, there will be an upcoming book and hopefully more to come after. Introducing more characters, setting, and plot twists, the next book is going to be even more chaotic than the first story, while giving everyone a good laugh and keeping them on the edge of their seats in suspense.

6. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

A: Our book is mixed some real life experiences that happened to me in the form of imagination.

J: We added real life experiences that have happened to us in the story, so our imagination of this whole Molly and Mousey trilogy is based on real life events.

7. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

A: My favorite chapter to write was when Mousey was speeding while driving and Mousey going to clothes store because of the chaos and madness Mousey caused.

J: There were so many fun chapters to write, but I think my favorite part to write come up with the whole Mrs. Blitey scenario. I had tons of fun with Anthony brainstorming the things that could’ve happened in place of Mrs. Blitey being a robot. Making the whole plot twist about Mrs. Blitey being a robot was a great experience for me. My favorite Mrs. Blitey scene was when she threw the stapler at the hen.

8. Who is an author that you look up to today?

A: An author that I look up to today is Jeff Kinney.

J: An author that I look up to today would have to be J.K. Rowling. Her story is just incredible and I still admire her to date.

9. What is your favorite genre of book to read?

A: My favorite genre of book to read is teen fiction.

J: My favorite genre of book to read would have to be Action and Adventure. I also love a good Mystery book.

10. What is your favorite book?

A: Of course, my favorite book would have to be Molly and Mousey: The Idiotic Husband.

J: Of course, my favorite book would have to be Heroes of Olympus: The Blood Of Olympus by Rick Riordan. It is an epic conclusion to the Heroes of Olympus trilogy.

11. Is there any particular authors or books that influenced you growing up?

A: Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and some teen fiction books have influenced me growing up.

J: As aforementioned, Riordan and Rowling’s book have done a number (in a good way) on my choice of books and my reading style.

12. Who is an author that has inspired you?

A: Jeff Kinney is a author who has inspired me because he made many great books and is still writing books today.

J: There are so many amazing authors out there, but one who stuck out to me would have to be Rick Riordan. His books are amazing, and those books inspired me to read and write
more.

13. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

A: Here’s some advice: take your time writing your book and don’t rush. Also, get honest opinions from people who read your book so it can help you next book improve.

J: Writers! From me to you, never lose sight of your goals, whether it be long-term or short. Pursue your dreams and never give up. Perseverance ALWAYS pays off. Passion is an ever-burning fire, so LET IT BURN!
- Jeremhy Cesar

14. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?

A: To my readers: enjoy this book because it is very funny and heart warming.

J: To my readers: Enjoy this book and never stop reading.

Amy Gelsthorpe

Meet Featured Author Amy Gelsthorpe!

Meet our featured author in person at the shop on Friday, November from 6:00-7:30pm for a release party that is open to the public. Amy will participate in a Meet the Author Story Time during the event at 6:30pm, where she will read her new book Star Fishing.

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1. A little about Amy:

Amy Gelsthorpe is the author of Star Fishing (MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, releasing Nov. 7, 2017), a children’s picture book about creativity and using the imagination. As a full time children’s book author and stay-at- home mom, Amy was inspired to write by the adventures of her family and her children’s imaginations. Amy has always loved writing, having written and kept her first book of poems from the fifth grade.

Amy seeks to inspire children to love to read from an early age. Not only is she focused on providing stories for avid readers, but she also has a special place in her heart for children with learning differences as one of her children has dyslexia, a learning disorder marked by difficulty in understanding written language. Amy was pleased to find a publisher, MacLaren-Cochrane, which offers books in both traditional and dyslexic fonts.

Amy has another picture book, I Love Outside, which her publisher will release in 2018. She lives outside Atlanta, Ga. with her husband; three amazing, talented children; and two adorable dogs.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?

I enjoy reading—children’s picture books, spiritual devotionals, and quirky, fun, fiction—writing, spending time with family and friends, yoga, and…Christmas! I am a passionate Christmas decorator and my Christmas adornments have been featured on the national news, social media sites of major retailers, and numerous blogs. I have lost count of my Christmas trees. Every room has at least one!

3. Tell us about your new book: what inspired the story or led you to write it?

I was inspired to write Star Fishing as it metaphorically honors my dad Billy. He passed away with pancreatic cancer 9 years ago and the story is dedicated to him.

4. Who is an author that you look up to today?

I love Judy Blume, Dr. Seuss, and Carmela Coyle. 

5. What is your favorite genre of book to read?

Children’s picture books

6. What is your favorite book?

Currently, The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak.

7. Do you have an interesting writing quirk?

Yes! I have a beautiful office with a lovely desk and comfortable chair- BUT I prefer the floor sitting criss-cross applesauce with my laptop in my lap! Sometimes by the fire :) 

8. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

If you want to become an author do it because you are passionate and have a story to tell… Everyone seems to think it’s an easy task but those of us who have accomplished the task know the obstacles it took to arrive. 

9. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?

To my readers: Thank you! Thank you for your support and my dream is to provide you with many books for many more years to come! 

Find out more about Amy and her books on her website.