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October 2022 New Releases

As October begins, we are welcoming many new titles from three different imprints—Mascot Books, Mascot Kids, and Subplot Publishing. With a wide variety of books to choose from, it might be time to cozy up and add these books to your autumn “TBR” list. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on our latest releases!

Subplot Publishing

A Knock on the Door is the exciting October release from our newest imprint for contemporary fiction, Subplot Publishing! When the protagonist’s husband dies in a tragic accident, her life is turned upside down. What unfolds is a thrilling investigation that leads to one of the most powerful men in the country. But who will believe her story? And how many more will die before they do? Now, she must decide if she has the courage—and the ability—to finish what she started.



Mascot Books

Our nonfiction Mascot Books titles this month share hard-hitting stories that may change how you think about the world around you. Whether you’re trying to live a more stress-free life, coping with a life-changing discovery, or curious to learn about a slice of American history, this selection may have something for you. 

      

Meanwhile, the latest Mascot fiction releases take readers around the world for a series of exciting plots that will sweep you off your feet—from a stunning action thriller with impossible stakes, to an emotional and raw story about love in the face of grief, to tales of faith and devotion from the Buddhist tradition. 

         

Mascot Kids

Our newest children’s books share age-appropriate lessons about facts of life, friendship, and even financial literacy while engaging young readers through memorable stories and colorful characters. 

   


   

 

   

    

   

   

    
 


   

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September 2022 New Releases

We are proud to announce the newest books from our Mascot and Mascot Kids imprints. Full of helpful advice, thrilling action, and important life lessons, these books are sure to inform and entertain readers of all ages. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on all of our latest releases!

Mascot Books

Our nonfiction Mascot Books titles this month are all prepared to offer you great advice. Whether you need help processing emotions, improving your business acumen, or eating healthier, these books will help you live a happier and more fulfilled life.

     

 

Meanwhile, our fiction Mascot Books release this September takes readers on an exciting adventure to fight a powerful evil force. Don’t miss this rousing, action-packed novel! 



Mascot Kids

Our latest children’s books feature characters who are daring, loving, helpful, and confident—each sharing life experiences and lessons with young readers in an age-appropriate and fun way!

 

 

 

  


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August 2022 New Releases

We are happy to announce the newest titles from our Mascot and Mascot Kids imprints. Full of creativity and ingenuity, these books will tug at your heart strings, inspire your imagination, and renew your self-confidence. We look forward to hearing your opinions on all of the newest releases. 

Mascot Books

Our Mascot Books title this month is one of overcoming obstacles and persistence. Twenty-five years before Jackie Robinson, Spottswood Poles was poised to be “the one” who shattered baseball’s color barrier. But, WWI and racism in America denied him this dream. The new book by local Northern Virginia celebrity Wayde Byard is the story of Poles’s life before the War as a baseball player and after as a mentor, leader, and entrepreneur.

Spottswood Poles 

Mascot Kids

This month’s new releases for children cover topics such as self-confidence, inclusivity, and imagination, in addition to teaching children about life experiences in an age-appropriate way. The stories may vary, but these life lessons aim to help children grow in a positive way.

We Have The Same Heart    Peace by Peace   

Brother and Sister: Summer Adventures    Embrace Your Skin Embrace Yourself   

I Am A Great Work In Progress    Emerald the Green Dolphin   

Kangaroo Sue and Her Baby Roo    Mr. Toad's First Dental Examination     


 

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July 2022 New Releases

Readers of our blog will remember that last month’s new releases touched on themes of introspection and nostalgia. This month, our new titles continue on that path and focus on meaningful reflection. Whether on the past, relationships, world choice, or actions, the midway point of 2022 is the perfect time for contemplation. 

As always, please leave us comments below or review this month’s books on your favorite platform; we love to hear from readers, and our authors do too!


Amplify Publishing

We’re kicking our July titles off with Reimagining Blue from Amplify Publishing. Written by former Aurora, Illinois, police chief Kristen Ziman, this captivating memoir shares details of Kristen’s life and upbringing, her time in the police force and the many challenges she faced, and her thoughts on the way forward for policing. 

Reimagining Blue Kristen Ziman


Mascot Books

At Mascot Books, we’re releasing four new nonfiction titles. From a multigenerational story about a legendary Hungarian family, to one man’s account of his bond with his dog, to the life story of renowned NFL coach Mike Westhoff, this month’s memoirs are insightful, heartfelt, and incredibly honest. And topping things off, we’re releasing a guide that helps readers improve their writing and learn how to make words shine. No two stories are the same, but these four books show that we can always learn from each other’s journeys. 

Dreams Nightmares and Reality Helga Hatvany Figure It Out Mike Westhoff

Mornings with Uncle Frank Don Rose Wordshine Man Tom Madden


Mascot Kids

As always, our new releases from Mascot Kids include several engaging and beautifully illustrated picture books. This July, several of our titles center around mindfulness and self-awareness to help children grow and learn to respect themselves and others. 

But of course, we haven’t forgotten summer adventures! With stories like The Swimming Pugs, in which two puppies explore the Bahamas, and Big Daddy and Rico’s RUFF Decision, which follows Big Daddy and Rico as they search for a new puppy, new adventures are all in a day’s work. 

Big Daddy and Rico's Ruff Decision Mary Jacobs The Swimming Pugs Gabriella Suighi

Sofi's Not So Very Happy Day Lina Afzali Mickey on the Move Farming Michelle Wagner

Picky Patrick Eleni Fuiaxis Healthy Me Marla Kennedy

Mindful Moments with Maude Pamela Cappetta Circle of Sun Corinne Luck

Wilbur and the Hare Morgan Leary How Does Your Garden Grow Therese Guldan

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August Book Releases

Check out our new August releases just in time for the dog days of summer! Enjoy one of these titles while soaking up the last of the summer sunshine.


August’s Featured Title: Helping Them














By Yashavi Upasani

As his life seemed to grow more boring, Mr. DeRenzo gets thrown into a plot that gives him more excitement than he ever dreamed of. Dominic Frost, the cousin of Charles Markson, has been pronounced missing and Charles, as well as his friends Antonio, Samantha, and Emily, are worried sick about the poor boy. Hearing about the kids’ plans of taking action to find Dominic, Mr. DeRenzo offers his assistance in the search. From daily lunch meetings to breaking into hotels, the five of them go to extraordinary lengths to find the missing child. As the kids and Mr. DeRenzo strive to find Dominic, they realize that they might learn a little bit about friendship along the way as well.



The Adventures of Kiko and Pez













By  Jane Jimenez  

Raising twins is not easy by any stretch of the imagination—and raising Kiko and Pez, two super competitive boys, is even harder when you’re a single mom. Their mom made sure they were raised to be best friends so they would always have each other (and a built-in friend). As close as they are, they grew to be very competitive and challenged each other at every turn. The Adventures of Kiko and Pez relates a series of challenges which spill into every activity they encounter. Oscar, their best friend, adds to their daily adventures and provides them with constant material to egg them on.

This book is published in memory of author Jane (Cookie) Jimenez, whose family felt it was important to finish what she started. We hope you like the characters—they are loosely based on her children and other family members. Half of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be made in Jane’s memory to the American Cancer Society, and the other half will be shared equally between her twin boys, Josh and Randy, for their education and well-being.



Euphrates Yield 













By David H. Hanks

The third and final installment in David H. Hanks’ Carson Griffin series takes Griffin outside of the INWA’s jurisdiction to investigate a hidden nuclear reactor site along the banks of Syria’s Euphrates River. The Jihad Terrorist Symbol joins forces with Doku Umarov, a well-known Chechen terrorist, to smuggle parts and nuclear material into the region supplied by a rogue North Korean general with the goal of creating the most powerful weapons of mass destruction on Earth.

To save the world from nuclear annihilation, Griffin has to stop the technology from falling into JTS’s hands—all while battling the grief of losing his wife. Can he put his need for vengeance aside and stop the radical terrorist cell before it’s too late?



Freckle-Faced Foodie: Journey of a Young Chef













By Marlin Adams with Ariel Fox

Fourth-grader Ariel’s weekend is turning out to be a disaster. Her friends are coming over for a sleepover on Saturday night and a movie on Sunday, but she can’t get it together to write her homework essay about heritage and cultural traditions that is due on Monday. Her two best friends know everything about their cultures, but Ariel knows nothing about her own. As she reflects on the maze of changes surrounding her after her parents’ divorce and her mother’s remarriage, she reminisces about her early years in Colombia, her summers spent in Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest, and her current life in the Monterey Bay beach town where she now lives with her mom and her new dad. From her Caribbean grandma’s patacones to her Pacific Northwest grandma’s blackberry pie, Ariel discovers that food keeps emerging as a theme in her life. It’s a theme that helps her gain a stronger sense of self, and one that just might save her before the Monday morning deadline.



The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits













By Howard M. Shore

“Howard has distilled his vast experience, identified the key levers for acceleration, and conveyed them through real-life stories that are interesting and illuminating.” Brad Smart, author; president and CEO, Topgrading™️ Inc.

Sooner or later, every business owner finds themselves working too much “in” the business rather than “on” the business. Despite working harder than ever, they know their organization could be growing faster and generating greater profits. To stimulate the traction and significant growth that leaders seek, they need strategies to create and sustain a successful business as well as ways to break through the invisible barriers that prevent forward movement.

In The Leader Launchpad, growth expert and master business accelerator Howard M. Shore offers a five-step, clear-cut, actionable plan to help leaders feel in control of their professional destiny. Packed with practical information, The Leader Launchpad includes profit-actualizing and scale-enhancing systems for:
• Identifying mindsets essential to creating great companies
• Recognizing the crucial steps to increase employee engagement
• Developing a strategy that leads to faster growth and higher profitability
• Aligning teams with priorities to significantly impact results
• Ensuring the right people are in the right seats doing the right thing
• Building a culture of accountability

Engaging and compelling, The Leader Launchpad is a must-read for any leadership team looking to create a massively successful and enjoyable business.



My Hair Went on Vacation













By Paula Quinn

This story is about Rosie, who lives in Chicago.

Within three weeks she lost all of her hair and asked, “Where did it go?”

Rosie loved to rock the bald, without even skipping a beat.

She happily wore sunscreen—not even a hat!—in the summer heat.

At bedtime, Rosie would tell her own stories with a smile on her face.

She’d imagine her hair going on magical adventures all over the place.

From a young age, Rosie loved herself and was not phased by her look,

So her mother decided to share her spirit to teach others through this book.

Come on this adventure with a confident bald girl,

Who tells us ”Bald is beautiful!” as she smiles with a twirl.

We hope this book can inspire you to love others as they are,

And to love yourself every day, whether your hair is near or far.



Pivot & Go: The 29-Day Blueprint to Redefine and Achieve YOUR Success













By David Nurse

PIVOT PERSPECTIVE. CHANGE YOUR LIFE. 

Most of us run on an endless string of vague goals and should-haves, with true, empowering change always just out of reach. Many of us feel stuck in our day-to-day routine, without the proper tools to break the mold and live our best lives every single day. David Nurse, a renowned life optimization coach of more than 150 NBA players and CEOs, knows it doesn’t have to be that way.

Pivot & Go is a compelling, hands-on blueprint to changing course and leading the life you want to live—today. In this energizing, adventurous, and actionable guide, David outlines a clear 29-day plan—not to living the life, but to living your absolute best life. His key is to make mindful mindset pivots that allow you to shift your perspective by incremental yet powerful degrees. Focusing on success, failure, passion, joy, and confidence, Pivot & Go is here to help you find your genuine rhythm—one that will carry you through each chapter of life with the energy and ability to make the most of every day.

Punctuated with stories from his own journey to leading a full and rewarding lifestyle, as well as featuring never-before-told stories of triumph from some of the top NBA athletes in the world, David has delivered a book like no other. Not only will it give you the power to change your life, it will give you the strength to do so. Get ready to banish negative thoughts, live to the max, and become energized and ready to tackle each and every day.



The Opportunity Agenda: A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class
opportunity agenda












By Winston Fisher and Sly James

On paper, New York business and civic leader Winston Fisher and former Kansas City mayor Sly James seem to have nothing in common. They come from different generations, backgrounds, geographies, and professions. Despite their apparent differences, they share one central belief: the Democratic Party is overdue for major disruption.

In The Opportunity Agenda, Fisher and James propose a new path forward that focuses on what really matters: appealing to the people. The 2016 presidential election revealed the extent of the deep economic anxieties felt by working- and middle-class Americans across the country—an insecurity that reshaped American history with the election of Donald Trump. Democrats failed to make a compelling case to promote their vision for the future. Equipped with a refreshing arsenal of bold ideas to expand the middle class, Fisher and James offer a plan to grow the party’s base, win over moderates and independents, and explain in no uncertain terms what Democrats will do for you, the American voter.

In this era of increasing political turmoil, old habits, stale messaging, and a “get even” mentality, any momentum the Democratic Party once had has stalled. It will take innovative solutions to shake up the Democratic establishment and energize voters across the political spectrum. That’s where The Opportunity Agenda comes in. Insightful, accessible, and compelling, it outlines tangible strategies the Democratic Party needs for long-term success. This is a must-read for anyone invested in the future of our country and the forgotten middle class.



Voices of LGBTQ+: A Conversation Starter for Understanding, Supporting, and Protecting Gay, Bi, Trans, and Queer People













By Lynda Wolters

Why do so many in our modern society reject those who are different?

Though the mainstream acceptance of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Queer community has made leaps and bounds over the past few years, many pivotal groups within our modern society still respond to the LGBTQ+ community with an overwhelming, knee-jerk reaction of “us” vs. “them.” Despite the progress that has been made, misunderstanding, hatred, animosity, aggression, and violence still affect this community on a deep level. Lynda Wolters knows firsthand: a strong ally, she has come to know, understand, and have a deep respect for the community through her son, who is gay.

Including highly personal, real-world anecdotes, Voices of LGBTQ+ helps outline some of the most critical challenges the community faces today, with topical insights into:

  • Homelessness
  • Hate crimes
  • Suicide
  • Economic challenges
  • Discrimination and lack of equality
  • Religious and biblical conflicts

Though judgment and divisiveness still run deep in our society, Wolters highlights the first key distinction, among many others, that will help eradicate bigotry: those who are different are not choosing to be, they simply are, and it’s our differences that make us stronger. Voices of LGBTQ+ helps educate, dispel fears, and start positive conversations about what knowing, loving, or simply peacefully and positively coexisting with someone in the LGBTQ+ community really means. After all, there is no “us” vs. “them.” We are all human.



What Color is Love?













By Lou Spaventa

Does love have a color? That’s what Katie the chameleon wants to know. She asks her mother, and together the two chameleons explore the many colors of love we find in the beauty of nature. Can you guess all the colors that Katie and her mother find?



The Secret of Sondra Byer’s Second Grade Class













By Susan Schwartz 

Everyone knows the legend of Ms. Sondra Byer, the enigmatic teacher who returns to Cory Hall every five years to teach one group of second grade students, and then disappears again, leaving magic and mystery in her wake. When the longed-for letter arrives on crisp, white school stationary announcing their placement in Ms. Byer’s class, her students think they know what lies ahead, but none of them could have anticipated the enchantment that awaited…

The Secret of Sondra Byer’s Second Grade Class follows the adventures of a group of  second grade students as they discover parts of the world, and parts of themselves, they never could have imagined. 



When the Day Ends and Dreams Begin #3













By Don Rose & Javier Lopez

When the Day Ends…and Dreams Begin 3 is the final book in the When the Day Ends…and Dreams Begin trilogy. Books 1 and 2 have been Amazon Books best sellers. Continue the journey with Rocky the Rock. Two Sides to a Story 3, is back. Uncle Frank, the red headed dog, is back having more adventures. Meet Willy, a very interesting guy. The Best Job will have you laughing. Who is The Boss? We’ll let you decide. My Culture, a poem we all fit into. Meet Barry the Brick: what a life he has! Grandparents are the best.



Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door













By Nadine Haruni

In Freeda the Frog and the Two Mommas Next Door, Freeda and her family meet some new friends: Jessica and her two mommas, Morgan and Irene. The tadpoles have never had a friend with two mommas before, but they soon learn that it makes no difference. By getting to know Jessica’s parents, the tadpoles discover that families do not have to all look the same, and that all you need is love.



The Spinner Sagas: The Heir 













By KJ Moullen

She did not understand where she was, who she was, or why she was a prisoner. However, there was one thing she had discovered: she could do magic.

Entrusted with the safekeeping of the Book and the wickedness contained in it, Blaine and Elian embark on a journey filled with unusual creatures and a looming prophecy in the unfamiliar and ancient land of Vestia. First, they have to find their way back to each other, trusting new allies and befriending old foes along the way.

With time running out and the fate of the universe resting squarely upon their shoulders, Blaine and Elian face an unknown foe who will stop at nothing to unleash the evil soul trapped in the Book. But Elian knows a secret about Blaine’s destiny. Will the secret prophecy divide their pathways, letting doubt and fear sabotage all they have accomplished?

The Spinner Sagas: The Heir is the second book in The Spinner Sagas series.

Please note this title will be released on August 25th 2020.


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July Book Releases

A new month means new releases! Check out our July releases below and maybe find your new favorite book.


July’s Featured Title: Stillwater

By Mary Jo Hazard

UNDER THE SURFACE, DANGER LURKS…

Twelve-year-old Grace believes that all adults are trustworthy and good. So begins a coming-of-age story full of laughter and tears that takes place one hot summer in upstate New York in the 1950s.

On the surface, Stillwater seems an idyllic place, but danger lurks underneath. Grace and her best friends, Maggie and Louanne, grapple with divorce, domestic violence, and mental illness. Grace is devastated when she finds out her father committed suicide when she was eight. Several suspicious fires break out in the area, and Louanne’s schizophrenic uncle Tony, the town bogeyman, is accused of setting them. Grace believes he’s unfairly targeted because he’s mentally ill and convinces her friends to help her find the real arsonist.

Hazard weaves themes of loss and recovery in a story filled with quirky characters and invaluable lessons about love, life, and survival.



Buffalo Football: A Game-by-Game Summary of the Glory Years

By Chris Stucchio

Buffalo Football includes interesting statistics, facts, and scoring information for every meaningful game the Buffalo Bills played from the beginning of the 1988 NFL regular season until the day they lost their fourth consecutive Super Bowl in January 1994. Additionally, it contains insightful postgame quotes from some of the coaches and players involved in those contests, including Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith, Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Darryl Talley, Marv Levy, Bill Parcells, Steve Tasker, and Don Shula. Other than a Super Bowl victory, what more could a Buffalo Bills fan want?


Emily and Lucy to the Rescue

By Phyllis Ershowsky

Emily and her dog Lucy are one unstoppable duo, but when a loved one faces a serious illness, their lives are turned upside down. The best friends soon become worried, unsure of what to do. Will they be strong enough to save the day?

A portion of proceeds will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


Extra Innings: Fred Claire’s Journey to City of Hope and Finding a World Championship Team

By Tim Madigan

Fred Claire served 30 years as an executive with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was the team’s Executive Vice President and general manager from 1987 until 1998. During his tenure, Claire earned a reputation for his integrity and for his fighting spirit that built what ultimately led to the team’s last World Series championship in 1988. His drive and determination in the face of opposition and doubt from all sides became a defining trait not just of his time with the Dodgers, but of who he is as an individual. In the spring of 2015, Fred would again tap into his fighting spirit after being diagnosed with skin cancer that later migrated to his jaw. Again, the odds were against his survival, but Fred was determined. This time, he found his championship team at City of Hope National Medical center in Duarte, California. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, frontline research, and staffed by top oncologists, City of Hope was the perfect home base for Claire’s treatment. Extra Innings highlights how both the landmark career of Fred Claire and the remarkable rise of City of Hope exhibit mutual endurance and give promise to those facing cancer diagnoses.


Find a Way: Three Words That Changed My Life (Second Edition)

By Merril Hoge

When Merril Hoge talked about his dream of playing in the NFL, he was constantly told it was impossible, he’d never beat the odds, but he refused to be discouraged. As a twelve-year-old, inspired to overcome the challenges ahead, he wrote, ‘Find a Way’ and put it on the wall above his goals. This mantra would become a life-long philosophy that helped him cope with the near loss of his hand as a you boy, the untimely death of his mother, being diagnosed with and defeating cancer, and ultimately achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.

In this Second Edition of Find a Way, Hoge candidly discusses the obstacles he has faced and how he has consistently found a way to move forward. This updated edition includes three new chapters with information on where Hoge is now, and how he continues to ‘Find a Way’ a decade after the original release.


Finding Om

By Rashmi S. Bismark, MD, MPH

Finding Om is an illustrated children’s book that shares the story of Anu, an Indian African girl who explores the mantra Om with her beloved grandfather, Appuppa. Through this story, she begins to uncover techniques of mindfulness that readers can explore along with her. This wonderful multicultural, inter-generational story is sure to become a staple in classrooms and homes across the world.


Guess This Ginger Cat’s Name

By Carroll Lutz

All cats have nine lives, but this ginger cat has even more names. Follow along on his adventurous travels. Each stop along the way suggests a new name for him. Try to guess other rhyming names that fit the story!


In Pursuit of Science and Technology

By John Kim

In this robust, thoughtful memoir, John Kim shares his life’s pursuit of science and technology, and expands outwards by diving into his personal thoughts on his faith, personal economy, problems with race issues as a minority, discrimination in the workplace and in the world at large, and his medical odysseys. In this straightforward narrative, John elucidates his formative years in Tokyo, Japan until the 1940s, when the dark cloud of World War II began amassing in East Asia. John’s father chose to move the family to Pyongyang, North Korea. This put his family on a potentially disastrous path as the family was unable to leave the country for four years. But, John Kim and his relatives fled from North to South Korea and avoided the yoke of a dictatorship. In 1950, he became embroiled in the Korean War, and in 1958, his parents sent him to the United States to receive a college degree in North America. He completed a doctorate in Electrical Engineering at Michigan State University. His autobiography maps out Kim’s journeys in the U.S., and all of the wonderful accomplishments he achieved while there.


Jurni

By Nikos Cox

In this heartfelt story, the readers discover that lessons about life and death can be found in the unlikeliest of people. In Jurni, a young girl with a love for all things math, science, and space shows us how we can all deal with grief and death.

The pain and fear of tragedy affects us all, no matter our age. After losing her mom, Jurni’s dad encourages her to look up at the night sky, and explains that her mom will always be with the stars above. From that time, Jurni’s goal is to become an astronaut so that she can be close to her mom again. The only obstacle in Jurni’s way is a regional NASA space competition that could clear the way for her most important dream.

Join Jurni as she journeys on a quest that will give her a closer knowledge of her own capacity to get through the pain of loss.


Kibby the Space Dog

By Andrea Cassell

This delightful tale is told about a dog named Kibby, who looks different from other animals. Young and old alike will be warmed by the important things that Kibby learns on his journey. Kibby’s adventures, and emotions brought to life, is told to show how dogs experience the famed “cone of shame.”


Kibby Gets a Little Sister

By Andrea Cassell

This lush and imaginative children’s story is a whimsical tale that delves into Kibby’s thoughts and reactions to getting a new, younger sister. Kibby’s sweet demeanor will be amusing and special for readers of all ages. Watch how Kibby changes his life to accommodate his brand new sibling.


Kibby and Olive Move to Georgia

By Andrea Cassell

Kibby goes on a new and unanticipated journey when his owners move away to a different home and removes him from his best friends. Join him as he learns to cope with these life changes. Kibby’s tale is a new classic!


No Such Thing As Off the Record: A Survival Guide for Media Interviews and Appearances

By Andrea Devaux

From the boardroom to the newsroom, nearly every job requires speaking in front of a group. In this age of political correctness and viral social media moments, “winging it” can be a risky business. It’s no wonder that three out of four people suffer from speech anxiety.

No Such Thing as OFF the Record is your survival guide for effective public speaking. It will arm you with the skills to navigate tricky Q&A scenarios and avoid unexpected pitfalls—like commenting off the record to a trusted source.

Whether you’re just looking to improve your elevator pitch or preparing for a national media campaign, No Such Thing as OFF the Record’s step-by-step coaching provides a complete checklist for how to say what you came to say and not be led off-topic…even under fire.


O is for Oil: The ABCs of Odessa

By Adrian Vega

Odessa, Texas lies in the heart of the oil patch of West Texas. In O is for Oil, learn about how one community’s art, culture, education, energy, and more contributes to their spirit. Featuring well known images, places, and activities, you’ll see why Odessa is a great place to live.


Objects in the Mirror: Thoughts on a perfect life from an imperfect person

By Stephen Kellogg

Life—if you’ve ever thought you might be doing it wrong, you’re not alone.

Objects in the Mirror: Thoughts on a Perfect Life from an Imperfect Person is a collection of essays that explores what it means to be alive. Like Polaroids framing the experiences of a troubadour and family man with an excess of self-awareness, these are stories without any clear good guys or bad guys. Instead, in each of these vignettes you will find dysfunctional, imperfect humans trying to do their best and bouncing off each other in the process.


Pearl River Mansion

By Richard Schwartz

Detective Jack Kendall and his assistant, Stacy Young, receive a disturbing call that opens the door to an infamous missing persons case. Jack and Stacy now hold the key to the most complex, shocking, and emotional case of their careers, and they are all in!

As the only heir of Joan Chandler, Tyler stands to inherit everything one person could want, including Pearl River Mansion—a sweeping post-Civil War estate that sits at the end of one of the many fingers of the Pearl River. Tyler’s mother controls people by trading on her wealth, but Tyler refuses her money—which always comes at a price—and struggles to make it on his own, trading instead on his intelligence and good looks. But he’s not as good at the game as she is and finds himself trapped in a marriage that infuriates his mother.

Just when Tyler believes he’s winning in the destructive battle of wills with his mother, fate intercedes… And for the second time in her life, Joan finds a purpose for the alligators that have kept her well away from the water’s edge—and the stakes keep rising.


Philip T. Basher is Imperfectphil

By Sue Steinhardt

Hi! My name is Philip T. Basher, and I love life!
In book one which you are holding in your hands, you will learn the story behind how I came to be known as Imperfectphil. I won’t let you down because I’m perfect…I’mperfect…imperfect. (I’ll tell you more about this later.)

Imperfect. Just. Like. You.


Plant a Seed

By Maritza Oliver

Have you ever wondered about the journey our food takes to get to our dinner tables? What about how our eating habits affect the environment?

As stewards of the Earth, it’s important to challenge ourselves to become more aware of our food choices and why they matter. It’s time for us all to understand that we have the power to make changes in our life to protect the health and well-being of our planet and its many inhabitants. The future of all life on Earth is in our hands!


Santa Fe Tom

By Rachel Bate

Desert Box Turtle Tom is as shy as can be / Even when his critter friends plan a surprise birthday party full of glee.

Poor Tom yearns to sing his heart out / But he has to learn to outshine his doubt.

When Tom begins to sing in a nervous voice / All of his friends are enamored and rejoice!

Could standing in the spotlight / Help Tom conquer his stage fright?

Join Tom and the rest of the desert critters / In facing fears and overcoming jitters!


Sophia

By AJ DeMarest

Sophia’s life started pretty regularly: she grew up happy and liked to help others. She loved her family and had many friends. Living in New York City, she always got to visit her favorite location—the Statue of Liberty!

But one day, something unbelievable happened to Sophia. She grew and grew until she was as tall as the skyscrapers around her! Suddenly, the entire city was scared of her.

What people couldn’t understand was that Sophia was just as afraid of her new body as everyone else. Sophia quickly realizes that she has to accept herself even though the entire city is terrified of her. Ultimately, she becomes an unlikely hero, teaching everyone that good deeds come in any size.


The Adventures of Veggieman: Book I Food Fight

By Karla Farach

When Niko starts a new school,
he has no idea that he’s going to find
himself in the middle of an epic battle
between the forces of good and evil.
Good, nourishing food and evil junk
food, that is.

Things are looking chaotic until
Niko gets help from Veggieman,
a super-cool superhero. Together
with his awesome army of fruits
and veggies, he helps save the
school and all the kids in it. But
the most important thing he
does is show kids that they each
have their own superpower—
one we all have and can all use.


The Last Christmas Tree

By Deborah Hoffman

How could anyone know that a simple tree farm would be the home of a miraculous event? Only one person knew: Mr. B… With a plan rooted deeply in his heart and mind, he plants a scrawny little tree amid all the other trees (the residents of Mr. B’s Famous Tree Farm). The trees and the birds all wonder who this “stranger” is — the one who is so unlike them. The traditional trees nickname him Twig. This little tree, with almost zero chance of survival, is encouraged by messages carried in the wind and sometimes repeated by the birds. The soft words and caresses of the gentle tree farmer always bring strength to Twig. One day, Mr. B shares two secrets with Twig. The wind overheard the first secret and carried it throughout the entire tree farm. Only Twig heard the second secret. Twig makes the decision to stand tall and honor the second secret. This simple decision eventually brings Mr. B’s plan into full view for the whole world to see. Twig becomes a revelation of the impossible and belief in things not seen, but hoped for! A TRUE MIRACLE!


The Vanishing Trial

By Robert Katzberg

Trial by jury has historically been the citizenry’s protection against prosecutorial and judicial overreach. However, jury trials have been disappearing as criminal defendants in federal court are more often than not pleading guilty instead of testing the legal system.

In The Vanishing Trial, accomplished lawyer Robert Katzberg explores why trials have become rarities in today’s federal courtrooms, and examines the consequences of a justice system without juries.

With reflections from his four-decade courtroom career—first prosecuting federal criminal cases in New York, and then defending high-profile cases across the country—Katzberg recreates a time when trials were commonplace, when average citizens played a key role in the administration of justice, when young lawyers honed significant trial skills, and when veteran courtroom stars performed their craft at the highest level.

Precise, thorough, and compellingly honest, The Vanishing Trial describes the realities of a courtroom world known only to insiders, one that cannot exist without jury trials. Finally, it provides readers with a roadmap to reclaim their role in preserving justice in America.


Without Excuses: Big Gifts for Little Gamecocks

By Neka Alston and Jon Alston

Selecting a few of the University of South Carolina’s most-loved sites and locales, this delightful children’s story is filled to the brim with a mixture of vibrant illustrations and whimsical rhyming, dispensed through the use of lyrical text. Without Excuses promotes positive emotional development and underscores the fundamentality of partnership for young people to practice with.


The Ruth Adventures: Life on the Farm

By Nancy Youngdahl

Ruth, raised on a rural farm in North Carolina, speaks like any girl from the South—you can almost hear her accent as she voices her story, as only a true Southern child would speak. Ruth’s life growing up on a farm is described in her own special way: being tucked into bed every night, playing with and feeding some of the farm animals, and getting to ride on her dad’s big tractor. Ruth loves her father for all the ways he shows his love, even with calm discipline. Read the story of how Ruth learns to be truthful to keep others from being wrongly punished, as well as discovering that she can be whatever she wants to be!


White People Really Love Salad

By Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler

Everyone has a story and those stories are worthy of being revisited as insight into who we are today. If you can revisit even one childhood story, good or bad, it is likely to provide valuable information about your thinking, your ideology and even your behavior today. “If you care to fully understand your world view as you move forward in your life, take some time to look backwards,” states Dr. Nita Mosby Tyler. Our childhood experiences give us valuable clues about ourselves. Using her own childhood experiences, Dr. Mosby Tyler discusses the imprint that social climates, race relations, stereotypes, education systems and parenting had in shaping her perspectives. Ultimately, she shares, “those perspectives have been the source and muse for many of my adult successes…and missteps.” No matter what your childhood story is, it is an important ingredient in the formation of the very best you! White People Really Love Salad will inspire you to learn, laugh and leverage your key experiences as a part of a journey in understanding how you got to be who you are today.


Precious Boy, No Matter What

By Katie Didit

Sometimes, boys need to be reminded of how precious they are–no matter how different they feel, where they are from, or what unique things might make them happy. This book was written so that every Precious Boy could find joy and comfort in who they are, no matter what.


Precious Family, No Matter What

By Katie Didit

No matter where your family comes from, or what it may look like, it is special and perfect just the way it is. This book was written to let children know that there is more than one way for a family to look and be. May each and every family, regardless of its origin or form, receive comfort and joy from this book.


Secrets of the Tally

By Halie Fewkes

Meet Allie: she’s just woken up in an empty forest with blood on her hands and everything she’s ever known wiped from her mind. In her survival-oriented world, people are hunted by vicious predators, and it quickly becomes clear that they are specifically hunting her.

Allie quickly finds a list of tally marks detailing all the lives she once saved and the deaths that were her fault, which must be the reason she’s now a target. When she discovers that flashes of her past will resurface to save her from life threatening danger, she realizes she has an opportunity to recover her missing identity.

Allie will have to risk narrow brushes with death to recover who she used to be and discover why she was so important. Fortunately for her, an attractive new stranger shows up who’s both charming and eager to help her. Between him, the monsters, and the list of lives and deaths, can Allie survive long enough to figure out which is most dangerous?


Catching Epics

By Halie Fewkes

Ebby didn’t know she was the new Human Epic until the day she was captured, stuck with the new Escali Epic, Vack, and told to be friends with him. They’re the two most powerful kids in the world, destined to be enemy combatants like every Epic before them, but they’ve been imprisoned together in hopes they might resolve some of their differences. Unfortunately, Vack would rather push Ebby out a window than befriend her, while Ebby thinks Vack is a barbarian who might eat her, and the result is chaos.

Allie and Archie are thrown into the fray when they’re asked to help a team of brutal hunters find and rescue Ebby. Archie makes recovering the Epic a priority, but Allie couldn’t be pulled any harder in the opposite direction. Rescuing a little girl sounds like the right thing to do, but leaving Ebby in the hands of the Escalis has a different appeal. If Ebby and Vack existed to do more than fight one another, they could change the course of the entire Human Escali war.


A Deal for Three

By Halie Fewkes

People say it’s impossible to find an Epic in hiding, which is why Ratuan has hired the cruel Zhauri Brotherhood to catch Allie, Ebby, and Vack, who have all but vanished. They’re the three most elusive individuals on the continent, but the Zhauri haven’t let a target escape in the brotherhood’s history – and they’re not about to start.

To pay for a hunt of this magnitude, Ratuan has promised Maverick far more than money. He’s brought the Zhauri a three way deal that will wreck the Escalis, declare independence from Tekada, and crown Maverick as ruler of their new kingdom. All Maverick has to do is capture his three targets, and Ratuan will take care of the rest.

Unfortunately, the Zhauri know Archie has ties to all three runners, and he is not only coerced into joining the team, but given great motivation to take part in their hunt. Because while Allie is slowly dying from the curse that now plagues her, Maverick holds the key to breaking it. To save his best friend, Archie will have to lead the effort to find and catch her, all while trying not to become one of the Zhauri himself.


To Wear the Cloak

By Halie Fewkes

On the newly-named continent of Ria, the Human-Escali war is about to reach its thousand year conclusion. Tekada is preparing to join the fight in retaliation for Ratuan’s recent uprising, and Humanity can’t possibly survive a war against the Escalis and Tekada at the same time. Since peace with the Escalis can’t be negotiated, the impossible task of keeping Humanity alive falls to those with the best record of accomplishing the impossible – Maverick and the Zhauri.

With only a short window of time, the king announces their one hope of survival. A united force of Humans and Escalis might be able to fend off the foreign invaders, but Humanity would have to defeat the Escalis in mere months to stand a chance of uniting in time. The war will either conclude in a joining of the nations, or it will end as Tekada arrives and decimates Humanity.

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June Book Releases

Dive into summer with our June book releases! From fun children’s titles to nonfiction, our new releases have something for every summer reading list.

June Featured Title: Becca’s Feat on Feet

By Becca Pizzi

Becca has been running since she was only six years of age. She completed her first run with her father at her side—and she’s never looked back! After many years of competitive running, including more than ten years of participation in the Boston Marathon, she’s determined to up the ante and run in one of the most challenging races on the entire planet: the World Marathon Challenge. 

Running in this extreme test of strength will push Becca to the max. From frigid landscapes to sweltering desert sands, Becca must face the elements and run quicker and harder than ever before. Will she become the first American woman to finish all seven marathons? Join Becca on this amazing, almost unbelievable journey that demonstrates to all readers just how much they can do with commitment and perseverance.

This title will be released on June 23, 2020.


By Becky Carlyle

What’s happening to me?
Should we go to the doctor, Mommy?

I’m not sure if I’m sick or well.
I’m a baby, so it’s hard to tell!


By Phil Mills Jr. 

Spending her summer on the western ranch of her grandparents was a new and thrilling chance for ten-year-old Mary Andrews. Used to living in the city, Mary discovers that being around horses and cattle every day was a vastly new experience. Having to do routine farm chores like gathering eggs and keeping track of her dog Princess was also a revelation. She found it difficult to just make her bed and keep her clothes picked up, let alone caring for an entire menagerie!

But Mary’s life takes a major turn when she is given her first horse. Mary, having never ridden before, finds that there is a lot she still needs to learn. Luckily, Bandit, the ranch cow dog, is there to help her. Bandit may be retired, but he still loves herding foul and trying to contain the ranch cats. Mary will soon find that having a horse is extremely different from having a dog, as horse ownership comes with important responsibilities that she will soon discover along with her new friend, Bandit the cow dog.


By Allie Lang Rolling

When choosing between fitting in and being 100% herself, Demi the Donut always chooses to be confidently unique. She challenges others to reject the status quo, and encourages those around her to dance in the chocolate syrup drizzles of life, pile on the whipped topping, and throw rainbow sprinkles around like confetti. In Demi the Different Donut, readers are dared to stand out and be themselves – because how boring would life be if we were all the same? 


By Rob Angel

Game Changer is the story of how a twenty-three-year-old waiter from Seattle had the outrageous dream of beating industry giants Milton Bradley and Mattel at their own game. With no experience, Rob Angel used his guts, drive, and intuition to create one of the most beloved board games of all time: Pictionary. Rob did it his way. He produced the first 1,000 games by hand in his tiny one- bedroom apartment, disrupted the market by selling to nontraditional retail outlets, and did countless demonstrations at the bottom of the escalator at Nordstrom—a store with no game department. Anything to succeed.

Getting there wasn’t easy; Rob had to navigate his way through production mishaps, cash flow troubles, and countless copycats trying to scratch their way past Pictionary. Still, within three years, Pictionary became the bestselling board game in North America, and shortly after, the world. When Mattel acquired Pictionary in 2001, a staggering 38,000,000 games had been sold in 60 countries.

In Game Changer, Rob shares the remarkable inside story of taking Pictionary from simple idea to iconic global brand by breaking rules and breaking records, never giving up or giving in, and working harder when most would walk away all while having the time of his life. Candid and compelling, Game Changer is as much a captivating memoir as it is a blueprint to personal and professional success.


By Tracie Main

Hailey Unicorn knows she is special, but being special isn’t always easy! When she meets an unlikely friend, she realizes that her special gift doesn’t only help her stand out–it helps everyone embrace their special gifts. A must-have for every parent or teacher. This book helps kids of all ages to accept and love themselves as they are, so they can do amazing things! Follow this fairytale adventure and chant along: “I am special, one-of-a-kind, and born to shine!”


By Bill Kiley

Hope, a white-tailed deer, and her spotted fawn, Freckles, are facing hunger and danger in their forest. Hope decides that they must leave their home and go in search of a better place where they will be safe. When they arrive at a new forest, Hope and Freckles face unexpected challenges that will force them apart. Will they be reunited?

After you have read the story of Hope and Freckles, continue to explore the stories of people all over the world who have to leave their homes because of danger or hunger. Let the tale of Hope and Freckles begin to teach you about the millions of people who face the same difficulties that this mother deer and her little boy face as refugees.


By Matthew E. Bass

In Mommy’s Tummy is a rhyming, simple story told from the perspective of expecting parents. Meant to be read to a young audience, it takes the reader through the phases of pregnancy. From the excited moment of discovery, through the extensive plans of clothes and nurseries, to sonogram pictures, debating over names, and the hopeful anticipation of birth, it is meant to help a young child process how they entered their parents’ lives before they came into the world. It is also meant to help young siblings understand what goes on before their baby sibling arrives. Artist Ashley Bittner brings this world to life with stunning, vibrant, expressive illustrations. The combination of short text and luscious art helps children conceptualize their parents preparing for birth, while evoking the heart and love with which we anticipate the newest additions to our homes.


By Paula Warner

When Sandy is ready, she’ll learn how to fly with the Sandhill Cranes, spiraling into the sky.

Meet Sandy, a young Sandhill Crane who is embarking on her first migration, and learn about the importance of wetlands and wildlife preserves for our native migratory birds.


By Leslie Bains

The island of Nantucket, 30 miles out to sea, is full of undeveloped land that visitors and residents alike can explore. Over half of this land has been conserved, and the seven hikes in this illustrated guide were chosen to highlight historical significance, topographical beauty, or natural habitats found on the island. The hikes are between half a mile and three miles long, and each includes simple directions, a history of the hike and its landmarks, and questions about nature and the island of Nantucket.


By Andrew and Adam Peeples

While Blaze and his friend, Ashley, explore a submarine at the Science & History Museum, Blaze’s lunchbox does something unexpected. It magically transports them to the middle of the ocean! Read about their first adventure where they meet a dolphin, help an octopus, get chased by a shark, and find treasure!


By Rocky Snyder, CSCS

The traditional approach to strength and conditioning has been all about getting bigger and stronger, but at what cost? Joint pain, tendinitis, bursitis, non-contact sports injuries, and lower back pain are just a few of the potential by-products. In Return to Center, Rocky Snyder takes a refreshing approach to improving human performance without the drawbacks of pain and reduced mobility. This new methodology bases each program on the individual, their posture, and their unique gait pattern. No two people have identical lives, so why should they have identical programs?


By Lynne McGlothlen

Gunner is a special poodle. He’s what you might call “amazing,” even! Gunner can do all kinds of tricks, but his most important job is to help others when they are sick or sad. When Stella’s grandmother is sick in Hospice, Gunner is there to comfort her.


By Sarah Lanier

What began as just another fun day at the park for Wyatt and his dad quickly turns into a rescue mission for a tiny bird in need. Meet Jax, Wyatt’s new best friend and the newest member of Wyatt’s Second Chance Ranch. Will her new home help Jax start a new beginning?

colic cure gas monster
By Joe and Jessie Supervielle

How do you cure colic??

The Gas Monster has attacked Togo the fox! Join Mama fox and their forest friends on a quest to discover a treatment for colic and defeat the Gas Monster in this inspiring children’s book of love and support.


By Wayne Lopes

Every week, Carlitos and his family make the journey from their farm to the local village to sell their crops. One day, Carlitos decides to do something other than sell crops: he begins designing Mexican blankets, also known as serapes. Parting with the traditions of his family’s lineage, Carlitos must figure out how to follow his heart while also upholding the values of his community.

As word of the serapes makes its way around the village, will his family allow Carlitos to continue to make his unique blankets? Or, will Carlitos have to give up his passion in order to commit to his duties?


By Brandon Allen

Have you ever felt lonely and completely alone in the world? The boy in this story feels the same way. The boy wanders into a forest and shouts his feelings of loneliness to the sky. To the boy’s surprise, the sky responds back to him. Find out how the sky helps the boy feel a little less alone.  


By Mark Hsu

Imagine your plane is going down. Prayer is useless. Fiery death awaits.

Now imagine your children. The hours spent feeding, giggling, teaching, changing diapers, soothing tantrums, gazing into eyes…all will fade from their memories until you’re just a name. What are the stories—from “unabashedly sentimental” to “exceedingly age inappropriate”—you would want to preserve? What advice would you give them, the hard-earned wisdom to prepare them for life’s challenges?

Well, Mark Hsu was never in a plane crash, but his crippling fear of being in one led to Please Open in the Event of My Death

A litigation partner in New York City, Mark remembers hearing the refrain that having kids meant “your life is over”…and how he welcomed it. He recalls the night he first met his Italian wife and decided that the Japanese-Chinese guy needed to go for broke and show off his Roman-accented Italian. He describes his lonely, peripatetic youth in Japan, Italy, and all over the East Coast as the only child of a deep-cover CIA spy. Drawing inspiration from a range of sources, including the Japanese concept of omoiyari, Charles Barkley, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Prince, and a Nike print ad, Mark offers astute advice—not saccharine or blindingly idealistic—for modern times.

Succeeding at work, navigating social waters, overcoming fear, surviving heartbreak, raising kids—this and other life advice, applicable to anyone, is in Please Open in the Event of My Death, just in case something horrible happens…which hopefully it won’t.


By Steven Shafarman

There’s a consensus today that people are divided, polarized, nearly tribal, and our government is broken, paralyzed by partisan conflicts. That has to change.

In this conversational, thought-provoking, carefully researched book, Steven Shafarman invites us, unique individuals, to think about what we want for ourselves, our families, and our communities. And he presents a viable plan to unite us, We the People, for real progress toward solving our problems and achieving the country we deserve.

The key is basic income, also called universal basic income or UBI, Citizen Dividends, guaranteed income, negative income tax, or Freedom Dividend. Shafarman is a leading proponent, and has been talking and writing about it since the mid 1980s. Our Future shows us that basic income is more than money. With any amount, version, or variation, everyone will have monthly reminders that we – each of us, all of us – are equal citizens, with a direct personal stake in working together to make our government trustworthy, effective, and accountable.

Liberals support it as a solid floor beneath the tattered social safety net. Conservatives promote it as way to cut other programs. It’s imperative, many say, because people are struggling and jobs are disappearing. Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine proposed related ideas, as did Abraham Lincoln and Martin

Luther King Jr. The House of Representatives passed a similar plan in 1970 with a bipartisan vote of two-to-one, but the Senate blocked it. Alaskans have a small basic income, the Permanent Fund Dividend, since 1982, and researchers have verified the benefits. (Appendix 1 is a comprehensive history of related ideas, proposals, advocates, and efforts, and is crafted to be an enduring resource for academics and activists.)

We, individuals and our country, have been trapped for decades in the dysfunctional politics of left versus right, liberals versus conservatives, Democrats versus Republicans. Our Future presents a powerful alternative: We the People versus special interests and the status quo. We can end hunger, homelessness, and extreme poverty. We can succeed at reforming healthcare, immigration, education, etc., and can slow then stop global warming. We can have a government of, by, and for the people, with liberty and justice for all. We just have to start with basic income. Here’s the plan, with strategies and tactics. This is Our Future.

This title will be released on June 16, 2020.


By Louie Gravance

In Service is a Superpower: Lessons Learned in Magic Kingdom, Louie Gravance uses his signature combination of humor and personal experience to narrate his journey through the realm of customer service. Part memoir, part self-help manual for businesses big and small, Gravance interweaves his tales of life at Disney theme parks with practical guidance gleaned during the course of a thirty-year career in the service and entertainment industries.

Gravance teaches us that the importance of delivering the finest service experiences possible is not just crucial for the livelihood of a company—it also leads to developing a culture of respect and responsibility that is so coveted in the corporate world today. Throughout the book, Gravance crafts an intriguing tale that demonstrates how working at Disney theme parks changed the way he viewed customer service, and elucidates the transformational effects it can have on those who provide it. 

Service is a Superpower is a personal history and guidebook of best industry practices, offering a unique spin on a tale as old as time, all presented in the tone and style that only Gravance can deliver. From entertainer to training designer for the Disney University in Orlando, Florida, he shares the stories and lessons that inform his central philosophy: great service serves the server first!


By Ed D’Agostino

Have you ever felt discriminated against? 

You Belong Now chronicles the life of Todd, a man who experiences discrimination due to a disability. When a trip to the hospital with his wife leads him to encounter Gavin, a gay youth, the two realize the way discrimination affects their very different lives in similar ways.

 A call to arms for inclusivity and open-mindedness, You Belong Now challenges readers to question assumptions, embrace who they are, and live in more accepting, loving ways. 

By P.S. Dickson

Join Baggy and his family as they travel and camp in New Mexico, stopping at National Parks and Monuments along the way. Families can plan their next trip to White Sands and Oliver Lee State Park with Baggy’s helpful traveling tips and resources, and readers of all ages can experience the journey through Baggy’s eyes before they go!


By Nijaah Howard

Raising John’s Boy is a raw, honest approach to how the author raised her son. The hope is that you take away practical tools to alleviate any concerns of successfully raising your boy into a good man, while aiming to change the stereotype that places limits on both of you.

A woman can only do but so much as she hears the silence of the loud dismissive cries from a young man raised without his father. Can you imagine how much easier it would be on the mother and the son if we STOP SAYING that “Women cannot raise boys into productive men” or “Only a Man can raise a Man”? What message are we sending young men who are growing up in a single parent household when they hear that? 

It sounds like our mothers and boys are trying to fight a losing battle. This could be the very negative seed planted that is telling them both that they are not enough (and they will never be enough), which contributes to low self-esteem and an inability to perform at their greatest potential. 

I can only imagine what the world would look like if more mother and son teams actually believed they were ENOUGH! Raising John’s Boy confronts these issues – and more – in this personal, essential book.

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April Feature: Making It Delicious

Our April featured title is Making It Delicious by Chef Jamie Daskalis, a cookbook with an emphasis on Southern food, but with a twist! From fun spins on the classics to indulging your sweet tooth, Chef Jamie’s recipes star simple and fresh ingredients that encourage creativity in the kitchen. We promise you’ll find a new favorite dish within these pages! 


Chef Jamie Daskalis
is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America with a degree in baking and pastry. She has worked in the restaurant business for more than fifteen years, and was recently awarded Chef of the Year by Grand Strand Magazine and The Myrtle Beach Hospitality Association. Chef Jamie is the owner and head chef of Johnny D.’s Waffles and Benedicts, one of the hottest breakfast spots in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. A working mother of a child with special needs, she understands the importance of fast, affordable, and family-friendly food, and hopes that she can help families through this cookbook. 

An Interview with Chef Jamie

  1. When creating recipes, what is the brainstorming process like? Is there a trial and error? 

When I create new dishes, sometimes it is something that I really think about, but more often than not, it is opening the refrigerator and pantry and grabbing a few things. I tend to cook every dish with the same attitude, simple. By simple, I mean, simple ingredients and simple techniques but never simple flavors. Cooking at home should not feel like a job in itself. Many of us work all day or are taking care of the kids and by the time it is time to eat, we are exhausted. That’s why when I put together the collection for Making It Delicious, I kept that in mind. I did not want my recipes to exhaust anyone. Some of the recipes are a little more time consuming and have more steps then others but sometimes you have more time and energy. I tried to give it a good balance. 

When I am doing a dish for a competition or event, I do tend to brainstorm a lot, sometimes too much.  If I am cooking for a special event, I always make a round of whatever I am going to serve to adjust any techniques or seasoning before getting to the main event. I need to know exactly what it is going to look and taste like before the event. I always try to make sure I have a salty, sweet, and crunchy component with all the dishes I make in competition. I find that I receive the best feedback if I can get all three on a plate. And of course, I always put together a little research and development team to give me feedback beforehand.  

  1. Food tends to bring people together. Do you have a favorite moment of people bonding over a dish you made?

When I first moved to South Carolina, I met my friend Stephanie, who at the time was living across the street from me.  The first time I invited her and her husband over for dinner, I felt the need to show off a bit. So I prepared fresh homemade fried pork dumplings for an appetizer, a stuffed flank steak with veggies, and a fresh fruit tart for dessert. The rest was history and we have been best friends ever since. I am not saying we are best friends because of the food I cook, but it definitely gives me the edge!

  1. Which of your recipes do you think is the easiest to make and which one is the most advanced?

I think that the breaded pork chops with the sauteed apples and risotto is the hardest.  Only because the risotto needs to be watched closely and at the same time you need to prepare the pork chops and apples. Now when I say hard, I don’t really mean hard, like you need a special skill set to prepare this recipe.  You just need to take a minute, read the recipe and get yourself ready to cook. I would have to say that one of the recipes I think is the easiest and is a favorite is the shrimp tacos with corn salsa. The shrimp cook up in a matter of minutes, and have great flavor because of the seasoning, and the jalapeno ranch can be prepared quick as well. The corn salsa takes a few minutes to prepare because of the chopping but it is easy and you end up with enough for 2 dishes.  There are a few other recipes that use corn salsa, so you can plan a second meal, or a snack with some chips.  

  1. Which recipe is your favorite?

My favorite recipe in Making It Delicious is the Mediterranean meatball hero. It wins big over the rest for me because it reminds me of my mother. Throughout the years, she has made us these Greek meatballs and we ate a lot of them. When I was preparing for a big event, I decided I wanted to make a “gyro.” But since it was a tasting size serving, I decided to make a deconstructed “gyro” with meatballs  that mimicked my mother’s. I served it with a little dressed cucumber pico, but with Mediterranean flavors, a couple slices of pita bread, and my mother’s Tzatziki sauce. Needless to say the guests and the judges LOVED it and I took home the judges choice for my Mediterranean Meatballs. The best part of the night was that my mom was at the event to witness the win.   

  1.   Cooking can be fun and creative, as you’ve shown. What advice do you have for people who now have more time on their hands and are looking for new ways to improve their cooking skills? 

I would tell them to keep it simple. You do not need to have fancy or specialty ingredients. Good quality proteins, fresh fruit and veggies, some salt and pepper, lemon and butter go a long way. You would be surprised how often I just use lemon to add a burst of acidity and freshness when finishing a dish. Cooking does not have to be complicated. If it is complicated it is not fun to me. I do not want to sit down to eat and be exhausted from cooking. 

I would also suggest picking up a few fresh herb plants and keeping  them by a window. And don’t forget to water them. Fresh herbs, to me, are the best way to add big flavor to any dish. If you always have them sitting on the window or in a garden you will be more inclined to use them. Purchasing them each time could be costly, and because of this you may pass on the opportunity. I always have basil, dill, rosemary, thyme, and mint growing at my house to use as I wish. 

Making It Delicious is a great kitchen tool to help you learn and understand that ingredients can and should be utilized in many different ways. This will help save you money and time at the grocery store. It has different recipes for sauces to keep handy, tips and tricks throughout the book, a quick red meat cooking guide, a temperature guide, tips to setting up a breading station and 98 recipes to help and teach you some new dishes. This cookbook was designed for the home cook in mind. I hope you love it!



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September Book Releases

Summer may be winding down, but our newest titles are hot! Whether you’re heading back to school, gearing up for football season, or just looking for a new read, our latest releases have something for everyone.

Featured Title: L.A.  Football Confidential 


By:
Wayde Byard

In this definitive guide to the history of Los Angeles football, Wayde Byard spotlights the Rams and the transients (Dons, Chargers, Sun, Express and Xtreme) who have made SoCal football unique. He recounts stories of the city’s teams, heroes, and most infamous players—the true legends of Hollywood. Click here to purchase this title.


By: Arthi Gokarn

This is a story of unconditional love, hope and healing, depicted through a glimpse of Sai Baba’s life on earth. The artist’s illustrations lead the reader on a journey through India, witnessing key events in the amazing life of this great saint. Follow along as he’s abandoned at birth and compelled to become a foster child with unconventional customs, ultimately growing to be a gift to his community. Click here to purchase this title.

By:
Sudio Sudarsan

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a calligram is worth a million.

A Word to the Eyes is a revolutionary mnemonic tool used to boost vocabulary development and retention. Enhance your lexicon starting with the visuals within, which serve as an introduction to thousands of associated words and meanings. Click here to purchase this title. 

By: Jennifer Hughes

‘Twas the night before Halloween,

And all through the house,

Not a creature was stirring, except the mad mouse.

Read on to learn of tricks that deceive

Children seeking treats on All Hallow’s Eve!
Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Doug Reynolds

What is a family? Is there only one kind? Are they all just like yours? Are they all just like mine?

An Actual Family tells the story of Agatha, an otter adopted by two penguin dads who starts to question whether or not she fits in. After being teased for being different than her parents, Agatha sets off with her best friend to find her “actual family”. On her journey, Agatha meets animals of every type, in families of every sort, and begins to re-think her idea of what a family must be. Perhaps she will discover that her actual family has been right in front of her the whole time…

From the author and illustrator of A Normal Turtle comes another modern-day fable for children in the queer community! Written as a flexible allegory, An Actual Family is a story applicable to every child who feels that their family might be a little “different”. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Carrie & Katie Weyler

When a squirrel-chasing adventure takes a turn, Pickles winds up getting into the neighbor’s garden and digs up some of the plants. Now, Charlie must learn how to clean up his dog’s mess. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Brendan Leonard

In this collection of his charts and drawings, Brendan Leonard simply illustrates the funny and strange things we do as humans: how we can confidently navigate in the wilderness but get lost in suburban parking lots, how long-term romantic relationships are a few months of trying to act cool and then slowly revealing how uncool we actually are, and how every day is the best day of our dog’s life. One or more pages will remind you of a friend, spouse, relative, or your dog, and most will remind you of how ridiculous we all are. Click here to purchase this title. 


By:
Joyetta Murphy

As long as you have close friends at heart, you will never be apart.

Join Pig, Zebra, and Mouse on their second adventure together in karate class. They’ll need to work together to master all the moves and impress Master Cat. Click here to purchase this title.


By: Candice Pyfrom

Could anyone ever have imagined that pigs could swim? Inspired by the luxurious, blue waters of The Bahamas, an elusive group of island pigs have decided that swimming isn’t just for the fishes.

Combining local island expressions and way of life, Miss Cocoplum takes you along on her unique journey to meet the famous Bahamian swimming pigs. What will it take for Cocoplum to take her first plunge into the magical blue waters of The Bahamas? Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Beverly Pennington

Join us on our newest adventure

To learn about different creatures!

From where they play, sleep, and move around,

To whether they live in trees, on land, or underground.

Pictures, activities, and other attractions

Help us learn through interactions!

Oh, what fun this is going to be—

Come and share this journey with me!
Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Mindy Porter

Piper and Tara are best friends! But when Piper accidentally hurts Tara, Tara gets upset. Piper doesn’t understand why Tara’s feelings are hurt, and that makes her sadder. Will they be able to make up? Follow along as Piper and Tara learn about friendship and forgiveness! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Angel L.J. Aranha

What do you do with a butterfly who can’t paint flowers?

Try as she might, Dot the rainbow butterfly can’t paint flowers like the rest of her butterfly friends. Even Miss Benditwig doesn’t know what to do with Dot and all her colors.

Come along with Dot as she learns that being different isn’t necessarily bad. Who knows what beautiful surprises may await you! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Mark Walter

At last, the perfect book for proud Golden Bears of all ages!

Golden Bears A to Z is filled with fun facts about the people, places, and traditions that make Upper Arlington such a special community.  Keep an eye out for a hidden bear paw in each beautiful watercolor illustration. After you read, explore the city with the activity hunt in the back of the book. Happy reading, and Go Bears! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Bella Weidman

Hedgie’s Nantucket Dawn poetically depicts some of the island of Nantucket’s ethereal beauty through the eyes of a washashore artist, Hedgie the hedgehog and his island native friend, Bluejay. The characters as well as the playful watercolors familiarize readers with some of Nantucket’s beautiful botanical landmarks. The scrub oak trees, daisies, and Queen Anne’s Lace flowers always seem to float through the memories of anyone who experienced Nantucket even once. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Erik Kincade

Ralphie is a little bulldog who dreams of exciting adventures. His imagination takes him on many journeys, but Ralphie soon decides that nothing could be cooler than becoming a tiger. Join Ralphie as he finds out what it takes to earn his stripes. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Aaron Fox

Every True Son and Daughter knows the University of Missouri and its lovable mascot, Truman the Tiger. However, few know the story of how Truman found his roar… until now. Follow a young Truman on his journey across Tiger Country in search of his roar and learn how he became the mascot he is today. Plus, look for Mizzou and Columbia landmarks along the way! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Denise Tobin

Hydro the Raindrop is the first in a series of the adventures of the Raindrops, a group of fun droplets who live high in the sky. Hydro’s determination to grow up too fast gets him into a serious situation, and he soon wishes he had listened to his mama. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Mickie Kraatz

When Matty hears his mommy whistle, he sets out to master the skill for himself! But he just can’t seem to get the hang of it, even as he tries and tries. His mommy gives him hints and explains how it’s done, but he still can’t do it like she does.

Follow along as Matty goes through the ups and downs of learning something new, and discover that as long as you never give up, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! Experience the power of determination with Matty, and earn with him the reward that follows when you persevere. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: John Barrows

Follow Charlie as she makes a plan to sell cookies around her neighborhood. Sales isn’t as easy as it looks, but with some practice, Charlie is on her way to making a difference and learning the true meaning of what sales is all about. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Jackie Meyers

Loving an Older Dog by Jacqueline A. Meyers, PhD, is a book about guidance on living with senior pets. Dr. Meyers runs her own animal rescue, which specializes in taking care of senior animals, with her husband. She knows that older animals have a lot of love to give and are still great pets, and this collection will give you an insight as well as advice on taking care of older pets. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Perry Anderson

Mr. Green and Mr. Blue are at it again on their spontaneous trip to Farmer Brown’s farm. They can’t resist playing with all the animals and throwing a little party for them, but will the animals on the farm take advantage of the opportunity to horse around? Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Perry Anderson

Mr. Green and Mr. Blue had always loved animals, so one day, they decided to treat the animals at their local zoo to a party. But what will happen when the caged creatures are left to their own devices, free to roam? Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Elizabeth McKinney

Carson narrates the story
With a simple moral in the end.
We need to accept other’s differences
So we don’t miss out on a friend.
Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Karen Márquez Morales

Follow the Pac-12 Mascots as they share their game plan of life’s most important lessons. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Lucia Hur

NEVER NEVER GIVE UP! This is not just a true personal story of brain injury. This is a story that brings new meaning to the adage never give up. In her debut book, Lucia Hur chronicles how she made a miracle happen by actively engaging and participating in the aftermath of a car accident that changed her son Bobby s life and her family forever. When Bobby was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury that medical professionals knew little about, Lucia began chronically their life-changing journey of recovery from his comatose state to becoming a functioning, independent adult. In this inspirational memoir, Lucia narrates the trials and tribulations she faced, and shows that being a part of every aspect of Bobby’s recovery was essential to connecting with and caring for her son in navigating the confusing world of TBI. An absolute testament to the power of faith, perseverance, and hope, Perfect Love explores how love in various forms allowed Lucia to transform and adjust to a more productive meaning of life, doing her best always, and constantly enriching her soul along the way. Click here to purchase this title.


By: Phyllis Bordo

Have you ever had a special pet you love to the moon and back? Quincey the Chinese crested dog is Lilly Esther’s best friend. His big ears and even bigger heart have always cheered her up and helped her conquer her fears. So, she is terribly sad when he passes away. Can Lilly Esther learn how to remember and celebrate Quincey after he is gone? Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Claire May
Christmastime is here and Santa’s Fairies have taken flight. They’re looking for good girls and boys all day and all night.

What can you do to make Santa’s Fairies happy as can be? Read this book before Christmas and you’ll surely see! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Mark Corallo

It’s another day at School La Ootie where all the little Ooties go to learn how to make wishes come true for children throughout the world. One little Ootie named Spootie needs your help. You see, he takes things literally and misunderstands the true meaning of many words. Will Spootie be able to make a wish come true? Join Spootie, Hootie, Rootie, Tootie, Miss Patootie, and Magic Toy Box as they all learn lessons about social skills, words, and the true meaning of friendship. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Jessica Shrum

Got problems? We can solve them!

Squeak and Jumbo will guide you through the problems that might be conflicting you. Are they teeny, tiny mouse problems or big, enormous elephant problems? The dynamic duo is just getting started! Join along in their problem-solving adventure and see if you can help them unravel the mysteries troubling their community! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Quinn Buffandeau

“There’s been a thief on my boat!” T-Rex O’Hoolihan shouted as he prepared his ship for a new adventure. “I’ll cross every ocean if I have to!”

Follow T-Rex O’Hoolihan on his quest to find the mysterious backpack thief and get back what’s his in this high-flying adventure across the ocean. Set sail for a story filled with twists, turns, and excitement! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Cynthia Hartman

In a dream world of tooth decay, gingivitis, and devilish bacteria, there’s only one hero who can save the day—Doc Molar! When a gang of bad bacteria besieges the town, can Doc Molar and his trusty sidekick Bristles save the day? Brace yourself for this oral health adventure! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Jewel Sweeney

Join Bugaboo and Ladybug as they face a ferocious dragon! As the dragon roars through Buggleland, Knight Bugaboo has to get Princess Ladybug to safety. Will Knight Bugaboo be able to defeat the dragon and save the day? Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Trent Grundmeyer

Join Eli and Lincoln as they learn and play on their geode adventure! While you learn about geodes, keep a sharp eye out for the special pick ax hidden on each page. Will you find them all? Read and find out! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Cathy Ghattas

When Zar overhears his mom complain about not having anything besides corn, rice, and potatoes for dinner, he’s determined to hook her the biggest fish in the lake. But each fish he catches promises that a bigger fish awaits—will Zar find the biggest one?

A story about being grateful for the truly important things in life and remembering that what you want is not always what you need. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Jennifer Cheek

After the sudden and unexpected loss of Griffin’s Papaw, moving on was difficult and hard to understand. Griffin couldn’t stop wondering where Papaw went or why he didn’t get the chance to say goodbye. After saying a special prayer, Griffin may finally find the peace he was looking for. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Edie Delp

If you could have one wish, what would it be?

Bella and her dog, Walker, decide to set off for an adventure in the park. What they don’t know is that they’ll meet a very special someone along the way who will grant Bella one wish, if only she can decide what to wish for…

Follow along with Bella and Walker as they discover the magic of dreaming BIG and learn the true secret of a wish. Click here to purchase this title. 

By:  Michel Zajur & Lisa Zajur

**Please note: this title will be released on September 17, 2019.

Today, piñatas are sold to celebrate holidays and birthdays all over the world. Do you know what the piñata and the candy inside really represent and why it was broken?

The Piñata Story is an interactive bilingual book written by Lisa and Michel Zajur that transports its readers on a cultural journey, which highlights a story about the meaning of the piñata while teaching Spanish. Plan to interact and engage on a bilingual path within The Piñata Story through:

  • Tips to Sounding Out Words in Spanish
  • Bilingual Glossary
  • Making a Piñata
  • Piñata Song
  • History of the Piñata

The Piñata Story offers the gift of language by sprinkling Spanish words that enrich the story onto its pages. Children learn by seeing and doing, and The Piñata Story offers the combination of reading with interactive learning.

Continue the language and cultural journey by visiting CasaMosaic.com. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Joe Bunting

Everything you thought you knew about the story of Hansel and Gretel is WRONG. Come along the exciting journey and experience what really happened. Deep in the enchanted forest, you will find the truth about who the REAL hero and victim of this tale is….
Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Joan C. Yingling

Can’t feels like there’s nothing he can do. But when he meets a wee little elf, all of that changes. Can’t soon discovers that with a little confidence, he CAN do so much! Follow along on his journey to becoming a Could! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Scarlett Hayes

When Hayden and Avery’s parents take them on an adventure to Italy, they discover how magical the country really is! Follow along with the traveling children and their dog Max as they experience Italy and its history firsthand. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Sandie Knox

Imagine a school where the ZOO visits YOU! A streak of tigers, a parliament of owls, and many others invade the classroom in this light-hearted modern classic that teaches your child animal group names in a fun and creative way! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: John McEveety Woodruff

In the third and final volume of The War at Home series, author John Woodruff sees the Prescotts off as they maneuver into adulthood during an era in which the Vietnam conflict seems endless. And as some of the family continue to navigate the material world, so do two of their own in the afterlife. Patiently waiting to be accepted into the Elysian Fields, Emily and Bartholomew Prescott explore Metacosma, the space and time held in between mortal death and eternity. Working toward an ending that crescendos with every passing page, Woodruff weaves together the earthly and otherworldly with searing prose and cutting imagination. The War at Home: Skirmish for the Upper West Side is a masterful conclusion that will leave you breathless long after the last page is turned. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Emily Chabot

What happens when light and dark collide?

I couldn’t live with myself knowing she was no longer here because of me. It’s why I did what I did. Sacrifice, selfish cruelty—call it what you will. I couldn’t let them win. Damian Cauldera lived a simple, albeit miserable life, until the day he decides to seek sanctuary in Paris…and before he knows it, everything he has ever known has suddenly, dangerously changed. He finds himself held captive by a group that calls themselves Hunters and, at first, Damian laughs at their outrageous take on the world. But as time goes on, he realizes they’re not as crazy as they seem, and he’s quickly thrown into a fantastical world he never knew existed.

As he sinks further and further into his new life, a strange and dangerous power begins to emerge from within him. With a threatening darkness looming on the horizon, Damian is forced to find the meaning behind his unnatural existence and reckon with both the man he is meant to be and the man he wants to become. As he works to conquer his demons and quell the darkness that is fighting for control, he must remember to have faith in his own strength…or risk casting the world in Shadows. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Carol L. Huston & Pamela Pittman

When little girls dream, anything is possible! Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Erin Morris

Ever wonder what a soldier actually does? Why does he dress that way? Could I be a soldier one day?

Private First Class Sam Smith is a soldier in the U.S. Army. Come along with Sam as he tells all about what it’s like to live, work, and (even) relax like a soldier. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Bonnie Mackey

When Beau Bear receives a special present from his aunt ShaSha for his birthday, Nana Bear knows just how Beau Bear can thank her. Follow along as Nana Bear teaches Beau Bear the importance of kindness. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Jerome Jones

Abby and Tommy are back for another adventure to promote healthy living and fun for kids of all ages. Today, they are having a debate about what the best part of P.E. class is. Will Abby and Tommy agree, or are there too many fun P.E. activities to decide? Click here to purchase this title. 


By: George A. Isaac

**Please note: This title will be released on September 17, 2019.

You’ve spent the majority of your career building your family business. You’ve learned what works, endured lean years, enjoyed booms, and watched your company grow, but now it’s time to think about what’s next. Consultant George Isaac has been helping families start, build, and maintain their enterprises for more than forty years. Whether you’re getting ready to retire, about to assume a new leadership role, or are looking for ways to run your business smarter, Your Business, Your Family, Your Legacy is the comprehensive guide you need to build a family business that lasts. Using real-world, experiential examples, Isaac introduces:

  • Seven essential initiatives for business survival and growth
  • Techniques to navigate family dynamics and prevent conflict
  • Strategies for establishing effective governance
  • A road map to forming and executing a workable succession plan
  • Practical approaches to multi-generational wealth management

Avoid the pitfalls and traps that keep most family businesses from surviving past the current generation. Build a multi-generational business legacy that lasts with this indispensable guide. Click here to purchase this title. 


By: Anita B. Adhikary

Get ready for lots of laughter and fun with these three folktales set against the colorful backdrop of Nepal. From gliding with balloons, rascally radishes, and one very big bear, there’s all sorts of good times to be had in these timeless tales children will want to read over and over again! Click here to purchase this title. 

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August Featured Title: When You Lived in My Belly

Our August featured title is a special children’s book that teaches kids about the pregnancy journey. When You Lived in My Belly by Jodi Meltzer Darter debuted as the number one new bestseller in the Children’s Sexuality category on Amazon. Jodi kindly answered some of our questions about her inspiration and writing process, as well as life as a mom.

 


A Q&A with Jodi Meltzer Darter

  1. When You Lived in My Belly explains pregnancy to children. Why do you think this is such an important journey for children to know?

I never quite understood the depth of my mother’s love until I had a child of my own. I loved my son beyond compare before I ever laid eyes on him, and that shed light on my mom’s feelings about me during my pregnancy. I finally understood, at age 37, the depth of our innate bond.

There’s an indescribable connection between mother and child that is not always explored or celebrated. I wanted to bring it to the forefront of children’s minds, so they could better comprehend the incomparable journey they went on with their mom, and how those precious foundational months informed their relationship and shaped their lives.

  1. The book chronicles your own pregnancy with your son, Alex. When did you know you had to write this book?

I knew I had to write a children’s book after my beloved mom died of ovarian cancer in 2013. It was always her dream to publish a children’s book, though I don’t think she made any real attempt to realize it. I scoured through half-written journals and miscellaneous scraps of paper filled with her perfectly passé cursive handwriting, and I didn’t find any evidence of brainstorming or sketches.

I do vividly remember fleeting late-night conversations when she would discuss her love of children’s books—she was an animated storyteller who delighted in reading to my son—and how much she would want to contribute to the genre. She just didn’t take that first step, so I knew I had to take it for her.

Still, I was trying to wade through the dense fog of crippling grief, which diminished by ability to come up with ideas. I spent countless hours thinking and researching possible children’s book angles, but I was stuck for months.

When my son finally gave me the winning idea by randomly asking, “What was it like when I lived in your belly?”, I devoted every minute of my free time to answering his question.

  1. What was writing the book like? Do you think writing in verse made the process more difficult?

My son was a toddler when I began writing When You Lived in My Belly. At that age, he was positively enamored by books written in verse. When he discovered one, he would run over to me triumphantly, with his arms outstretched, and offer the book as a temporary gift (he’d always want it back). “It rhymes, Mom!” he’d say, with a spotty-toothed grin on his face. He regularly quoted Dr. Seuss rhymes. It was a no-brainer that a book based on his question had to be written in verse.

I broached the idea of writing in verse to some in the industry and they advised me against it at the time. Verse was “out of vogue”, but I went with my gut—and my son’s preference—regardless of popular opinion. I am so glad I did.

Writing in verse was definitely more challenging. I not only had to research and synthesize a lot of information about fetal development and pregnancy, but also make it rhyme in digestible and intriguing couplets for young readers. It took a long time to get it right.

  1. Your illustrator is a longtime friend. Was working on a book together easy or did it present some challenges?

I wrote multiple drafts at various coffee shops, between nursey school drop offs, pick ups, and work projects, before I got the book to a place where I felt others could read it. The first person I called was my best friend since kindergarten, Jody King Camarra. Jody is not only an incredibly talented illustrator, but she is also a mom extraordinaire. I knew she would be a perfect second read, and she would see my vision better than anyone else.

I asked Jody to illustrate the book and she readily agreed. I didn’t have any money to offer her. I didn’t have anyone backing me or believing in me. I had no guarantee the book would ever be published. All I had was my word—a mutual trust earned through more than 40 years of friendship–and that was good enough for her.

We effectively worked together despite multiple obstacles, zero funding, and almost daily tests of patience, perseverance, and emotional fortitude to bring this book to life. There were some differences of opinion and some strain caused by illustration delays but, mostly, there was synergy, shared commitment, and resolve to see it through. I am immensely grateful she lent her talents towards illustrating my book alongside her mom, Caryn King. Both of them knew and adored my mom and they cherish my son, so this truly was a collective labor of love.

  1. You’re a prolific blogger and writer and have quite a following. Do you consider yourself an Influencer? What responsibilities do you feel to your readers?

I have a commitment to myself to be honest, and that effortlessly resonates with my readers. I don’t sugarcoat my life one bit. I have endured multiple heartbreaks, from illness to death to divorce, and I bare the unfiltered ugliness of it all to connect with others who may need to hear my truth.

I can’t adequately express how much it means to me when someone reaches out to tell me a post I wrote gave them hope or made them feel heard. It’s the reason I peel back the protective layers and expose my most vulnerable thoughts through writing. It’s often cathartic for me and healing for them at the same time.

I feel so fortunate that I have bylines on Huffington PostScary MommyThe Stirand The Mighty, and Swaay, among others, because they help expand my reach tremendously and better position me as an influencer.

  1. What is the best part of being a mom?

It’s surreal to me that my son once lived in my belly, that I had anything to do with the little masterpiece of a man he’s becoming. Of course, if I take a look at my belly I am quickly reminded that he did, in fact, take up residence there—I am not one of those celebrity snapback queens, even nine years later!

I have choked back tears during all of his immunizations, agonized over the smallest of decisions, and spent every waking minute trying to achieve the artful balance of keeping him safe while giving him the space to spread his wings. I have laughed and loved harder than I ever imagined, all because I have been blessed as his mom.

My son is genuine, kind, personable, hilarious, and loving despite the occasional attitude or eye-roll. He is my greatest contribution to the world; living proof I am doing something right.

The best part is savoring the gift of time to experience his growth, as it is a gift denied to many (including his father). It’s amazing to me that he came out of the womb utterly defenseless and can now stop a hockey puck with force and precision. And I get to witness it all.

 I love watching my bonus children mature, dream, and achieve alongside my son.

  1. Your son loves to ask questions. What are some of your favorites?

“Do you think Dad is hanging out with JFK in Heaven? I hope he tells him he’s one of my favorite presidents.”

“Why is the letter “T” in Home Depot silent? Wouldn’t it just make sense to spell it the right way?”

“What makes a swear word a swear word? And who decided we shouldn’t be able to say swear words?”

“Mom, Do you think Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins goalie) will give When You Lived in My Belly to his girlfriend? What about [insert celebrity name of the day here]?”

 

 

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