Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Author Spotlights

I had the great pleasure of meeting these two upcoming authors and asking them some questions.

Mrs. Nan Whybark


My real name is Nanette, not Nancy. I like the informality of Nan though; as my grandpa always called me Nan Louisa (Grandpa pronounced it Loo-eye-za).  I had a golden childhood, and sadly I hear that is rare these days.  My grandparents were a huge presence in my life. From them I learned sewing, bread making, quilting, piano skills, how to ride a bike and play marbles, and the wonderful taste of homemade root beer on a hot summer day.  I learned to love the smell of roses, crisp, ironed linen sheets, fresh bread and warm apple pie. There’s so much I could tell about my grandparents!

I had lots of pets too. Hamsters, mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, ducks, snakes, lizards—all wonderful in their own way. But I’ve always wanted a dragon. I have a room full of dragons now, but still none of them are truly alive. Maybe someday!

.  I have lived in Washington State all my life and truly love the Pacific Northwest. For almost 45 years I’ve been married to my eternal companion, Harold. We have five children and 21 grandchildren. This year I will complete my goal of making a quilt for each one of them.

I taught reading for 25 years in the public school system. I also got to teach art, writing, and theatricals. I love teaching, learning, nature, swimming, writing, reading, art, music, and dragons, of course. Lunch and recess aren’t too bad either.

I write plays, poetry, short stories, chapter books and I’m working on a young adult novel and a poem book, as well as my Earth to Irth fantasy series. I fell in love with language when I was quite young while my mom read poetry and stories to me. I love the sounds of rhymes and descriptive words! They are magical to me. I feel like a wizard sometimes when my words flow forming pictures in my mind.

My father first got me interested in drawing when he drew tiny pictures for me during church. I loved how he could use just a few lines to make something marvelous appear. I asked him to teach me and he did. My first drawings weren’t very good, but I kept trying! Of course, art classes really helped too. I got an art degree later in life and would still like to pursue more art education.

Now my dreams of being a book author and illustrator have come true! Never give up on your dreams!

1)    What inspired you to become a writer?

When I was a child, my grandmother and mother read to me often. I loved the sound of rhyming words and the sing-song rhythm of poetry. Stories carried me away to fantastic places. As I grew older, I wanted to create some of those rhymes and rhythms myself. I have a good imagination, and so I started writing poems, puppets shows, and plays for the neighborhood children. My friend and I even started a street newspaper when I was about 12.

My father is a wonderful writer with an immense vocabulary. I love the sound of big words as they flow so easily from his mouth. He has always challenged and encouraged me to write and learn more about words and how to use them.         

2) What kinds of books were read to you as a child?

My mother read classic poetry to me, along with other poetry for children. I loved the illustrations! Both she and my grandmother read animal stories to us, simple picture books with memorable characters and plots. Some of my favorites were “Jelly and George”, “Katie No-Pocket”, The Elephant’s Child”, McElliot’s Pool, and “Scuppers the Sailor Dog”.

3) What makes a good writer?

Imagination and the ability to accurately build mind-pictures with words. In picture books, the illustrations create the story scenes. As one advances into chapter books, the scenes and characters must be built and created in the mind. It doesn’t have to be the same mind-picture for everyone, but the words must stimulate some scene and sense of character in the reader’s mind.

Story weaving is important too. Taking individual characters, places, and events and weaving them together in an interesting way. Some of those threads, when twisted or turned produce wonderfully different outcomes.

4) Who are your favorite authors?

Some of my favorite authors are David Shannon, Shel Silverstein, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Diana Wynne Jones, Karma Wilson, Steven Kellogg, Colin McNaughton, Dr. Suess, Ray Bradbury, Jules Vernes, Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, C.S. Lewis, and Elizabeth Keatly Speare, and many, many others!

5) How did you come up with the idea for your book?

When my youngest daughter was in 4th grade, we had to drive to the school where I worked. She would get bored and soon asked me to tell her a story. So, I began a story and continued it a little more each day. I realized one day that this was becoming a really great story, and I had better write it down. My first chapter book was created! Of course, then she asked me, “Well, what happened after that?” Pondering that question led me to continue the story in a series. My Earth to Irth fantasy series for middle grades began in earnest.

 “Mr. Weasel and the Wizard” was published in 2011, more than 20 years after it was first told to my daughter. In 2016, my fourth book in the series, “Thairyn and the Thieves” was published. The other two books in the series are Book 2- “The Serpent and the Sorceress” and Book 3- “The Matriarch and the Magic”.

6) Describe an inspirational event in your life that encouraged you to go into the children's books business?

As a young mom I took a writing course through the mail. (This was before computers were common place!) When I started, it didn’t think I would ever have enough ideas to be an author. However, by the end of the course, I realized I had more ideas for stories than I could ever write in my lifetime! I was amazed and encouraged to pursue my dream. I was able to write many short stories based on my own and my children’s experiences, several of which were published in an e-mag in the early 2000’s. This was even more encouraging and I continued writing and looking for more ideas in everyday life.

7)  Talk about the process you go through to put a story together?

My writing process is much like that taught in school. Brainstorm, outline, rough draft, edit, edit, edit, and final draft. I go through these steps several times during the writing of a book. Each chapter is like a smaller story in itself. I often move chapters around or take parts of one and move it to another. I have to make sure the time-line works when I jump between scenes. Creating characters is challenging. I don’t want them to be stereo-types or boring. Coming up with names for them is fun though.

The plot is usually outlined, but the details are filled in as I write the rough draft, and even more filled in though the editing process. Sometimes I get stuck and have to do more brainstorming. I ask myself, “What could happen here?” I try to think of several possibilities, and then select the one I like best that is consistent with the story line.

8) Do you think that children's books will become extinct or will they grow? Please explain why you think this way?

I don’t think children’s books will ever go away completely. The format might change to e-books, but children need the imagination stimulation that books offer. If they don’t have stories, they will create their own. It has been so for centuries. Our language is based on words with meaning. Reading and writing those words are inseparably connected, and form the basis of our communication. Using those words to create and share things only imagined is part of our growth as a society. If this type of communication were lost, that would be tragic indeed.

9) What are your future plans as a writer?

            I am currently working on Book 5- “Jewl and the Jinx” in my Earth to Irth series. I hope to finish my Earth to Irth series with Book 6- “Phyre and the Phoenix” by 2020. I have also started a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel, and would like to publish my illustrated dragon poem book for children called, “I’d Rather Have a Dragon Than a Dog”.

              I have a idea for a realistic fiction series based on my adventures as a child living in a neighborhood on a dead-end street. I have many others ideas brewing, so I’m sure I’ll keep busy with my writing.          

10) What are your dreams and goals? How will you achieve them?

            I would love to be picked up by a traditional publisher! My current books are self-published through a you-pay-for-it publishing company. I am working on publicity, getting my books into the hands of children, and establishing a more visible presence on the internet. I have an author page on, an “Earth to Irth Series FAN CLUB” page on Facebook, and I am working on several other venues. Perhaps I can find an interested agent as well!

            One of my goals is to sell books in all 50 states and eventually Europe. So far, I have sent books to or sold books in 15 states and Canada. My writing goal is to create fun, adventuresome books that are free of swearing or other things inappropriate for young audiences, and to have characters that have strong traits worth emulating. Also show that both boys and girls can do hard things.

11) Tell us about your newest published book and where it can be found?

My newest book is “Thairyn and the Thieves”, Book 4 in the Earth to Irth Series. It is available through me ( for signed copies),, or It is available in soft cover or e-book.

The story is about Thairyn, young, crown patriarch of en’Edlia on the world of Irth. Everyone there is born with inherent magic, but Thairyn’s has not surfaced. As he is past the age of showing, his parents fear he will have no magical birth-gift.

The rebellious Xens of Irth are against rulers without magic, and so plan to kidnap Thairyn to rid the realm of that possibility. A ransom message demands the family’s exile, while other internal crises are threatening both the ruling family’s safety and the order of the realm.

In the clutches of his kidnappers, Thairyn steals a secret that will change all their lives, if there is time for it to unfold before the kidnappers execute their vengeful plan completely.

I hope you enjoy this book, as well as the rest of the Earth to Irth Series!

Mr. Will Holland


William K. Holland is a freelance writer from Lake Jackson, TX. As an avid artist and a creative thinker who wants to inspire children, he self publishes children’s books and cutting-edge articles about families who game together. He graduated from Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, KY. He learned about God’s purpose for himself and about using his gifts to help children live lives that would bring honor to their Creator.
So if your kids have ever
Dealt with being bullied
Been made fun of
Swept away with the media attention on police and violence
Or just need a funny song to sing
He is your guy.


Other Titles Include:

Fight Breast Cancer: THE COLORING BOOK: A Coloring Book for all Ages

Pencil Ninja Presents: The Shark Song and the Secret Origin of the Pencil Ninja: Pencil Ninja Adventures: Volume 2
Time to Play the Game: The Ten Year Anniversary
Hero Needed
1)      What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve written and or told stories of some kind as long as I could write. In elementary school, we used to have to write stories and do small books every year for the local young author’s conference in my hometown. I wanted to become a writer to create stories to help kids learn life lessons. Whether you are trying to teach kids about how to deal with bullies, thankfulness, how to deal with the police shootings, or a song to help them giggle more in life; I want to help kids learn how to be great people. I pray that I can inspire kids to grow closer to God and their families.
2)      What Kinds of books were read to you as a child?
As a child, I read Curious George, Charlotte’s Web, books about Folk Legends, Bible stories, and as many comic books as possible.
3)      What makes a good writer?
A great writer has to have creativity. They have to be able to see the characters as living beings. They must be able to see the beginning and the end of the story.  Once you get that part down, then you can work out how to get there. A good writer must be able to engage the person and connect with them. The most important thing that a good writer must have is the heart to stick with your writing plan. If you plan to write for an hour a day, then follow through with that.
4)      What are your favorite authors?
Dr. Dana Carson, Max Lucado, Frank Peretti, Tony Evens, Brad Meltzer, and Steven King are a few of my favorite authors. They either speak to spiritual ideas and how to live or they feed my imagination.
5)      How did you come up with the idea for your book?
For my first book, I had to look at my life. When I was growing up, I was bullied by multiple kids. I was taught to deal with them in various ways. Physical altercations were always a last resort. I wanted Pencil Ninja, the main character in most of my stories, to help the picked on kids to see how they could help win the game. I wanted to have the hero, who is a sugar-powered robot  boy, help the other kids find the hero in themselves as they stand up to the group of bullies. It is the most intense kids football game ever.
6)      Describe an inspirational event in your life that encouraged you to go into the children's books  business?
I was in a season of prayer. I was searching for some direction. As I was doing this, I was asked the question, “What do you have that you can use to share what you know? I was also challenged by a publisher to see if I could write a book a month for the rest of the year. So I wrote my first book in June of 2016. I wrote a book a month until November. I just released the newest book this week.
7)      Talk about the process you go through to put a story together?
I draw a lot of pictures first. Then I write the main story out. Once I do that I send it to my editor to get it looked at for grammatical errors and layout.
8)      Do you think that children's books will become extinct or will they grow? Please explain why you think this way?
Children, in my experience, always love a story. The genre may be different, but kids want to be told stories. “Mommy, read me a story, please…” I heard it growing up and I heard many stories myself. I want to be a part of that tradition.
9)      What are your future plans as a writer?
I am, slowly, working on a series of stories about folk heroes and Bible stories. I am also working on a series of short stories based on cartoon ideas I have for Pencil Ninja to watch.
10)  What are your dreams and goals and how will you achieve them?
My dreams and goals are to be used by God and teach children in some sort of way. I will continue to build a devoted audience to show children, from all walks of life how to treat each other.
11)  Tell us about your newest published book and where it can be found?
My newest project is entitled “Pencil Ninja Presents: Captain Fluffypants Tries to Take Over the World”. It has alien invasion, robots fighting, and ice cream. This is story about thankfulness and friendship. It is currently available in print at for $7 . It is also available in e-book form here at for $4 preorder.  It will be sent out on the 27th.  The print version will also be on Amazon around the same time.
Thank Both for answering my questions. It has been a pleasure to interview both of you.