Tag Archives: children

Author Interview: Saoirse O’Mara

Author Saoirse O’Mara tries to follow her heart with her children’s stories. Her goal is to make her readers smile, laugh, guess, and be entertained until the end, and to think about her intriguing stories for a long time. A goal worthy of any author! Please welcome her here to No Wasted Ink.

author-photo-saoirse-omaraI’m Saoirse O’Mara, also known as Theresa Berg. I write under two different names because I write in two different languages. Books written as Theresa Berg are originally German, books written as Saoirse O’Mara are originally written in English. I live in Berlin, Germany, with my American husband and our two cats, Tüte and Kami. Our household communicates in fluent Denglish (mix of German and English) of course. When I’m not writing children’s books or mystery, I’m studying languages and linguistics, currently Sanskrit and Latin. So yeah, I’m a complete language nerd. I’m also a gamer; I love playing pen and paper RPGs like The Dark Eye and Pathfinder, but also video games like League of Legends, Titan Quest, and others.

When and why did you begin writing?

I think I started writing as soon as I was able to write coherent sentences. I just had so many stories to tell, and a very creative mind (teachers may have called me out for daydreaming). I also loved reading, and when I was still in kindergarten and was finally able to read books on my own (my parents taught me to read before I entered school), I decided that when I grew up, I wanted to be a writer too.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

This is a difficult one. I actually don’t remember, but it was probably after finishing my first manuscript. I was twelve or thirteen, and the story was a lot like Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. This manuscript is still hidden away somewhere at home, and I even revised it a few years later, but it’s nowhere near publishable. It did show me, though, that I am able to tell a story from beginning to end and write it down.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The book shown here, Miro the Dragon, is a children’s book about friendship and courage. In four stories, the tiny and scared dragon Miro has to learn essential dragon skills like flying, breathing fire, swimming, and hunting. He befriends a human girl who helps him believe in himself and later befriends one of his classmates at dragon school, the big dragon Botsch, who teaches him to swim. The book has fans ranging from three years old to over sixty years old, but the recommended age range is four to eight years old.

What inspired you to write this book?

I was at a medieval market in my home town and started talking to the storyteller, who complained about a lack of dragon stories for young kids, and who, after learning that I am a writer, asked me whether I could write her a story. I agreed, but after I had written Miro’s first story, she never responded to my email about licensing and payment, so I decided to instead turn it into a book. Miro told me a few more stories, which I faithfully wrote down, and once I had four stories written, I looked for an illustrator to capture him and his friends.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I actually don’t know. I rather think I have several writing styles, depending on what I write, and in which language I write. I do tend to avoid long descriptions and story “padding”, though, which is probably why my books are all rather short.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

That was actually pretty easy; Miro told me. What was more difficult was coming up with fitting titles for the individual stories. I sometimes wrote the whole story before the right title came to mind, and at other times, the title was the only thing I had and the story followed.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

It is okay to be afraid. And if you are too afraid to even try something new, maybe a friend can help you overcome your fear. Sometimes, all it takes is to finally try it.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Two of my greatest influences were Enid Blyton, whose books I devoured as a child, and Agatha Christie, the queen of British mystery. I love the stories they told, and the characters they created.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

The cover and illustrations for Miro were done by the amazing artist Svenja Liv, who is also a friend of mine. We met in a writer’s forum online and I simply fell in love with her style. She was able to bring Miro and his friends to life with her drawings. She also did the covers for my middle-grade mystery/fantasy series A Rogue’s Tale. A few years ago, we finally met in person.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t give up. Try out different things. Follow your heart. Listen to your characters (they’re always right, you know). But most importantly, have fun.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for all the feedback you’re giving me, either through reviews or personally. Thank you for letting me know that you (or your kids) fell in love with my characters. Thank you for spending your precious time with my books.

Miro-Cover-web (2)Saoirse O’Mara
Berlin, Germany


Miro the Dragon

Cover Artist: Svenja Liv


Author Interview: Lillian Nader

How would I describe Author Lillian Nader? For one, she is a writer for fun and profit. Expect the unexpected! Please give her a warm welcome here on No Wasted Ink.

author-lillian-naderI am Lillian Nader, an author, dreamer, freelance copyeditor, retired special education teacher, and part-time tutor. My name originated with my cousin, Lillian Ann, who asked my pregnant mom to name me after her when the Ouija board said I would be a girl. Weird things have happened to me ever since. My favorite poem is “Find Your Own Voice” by Jayne Cortez. I prefer outdoor walks for exercise, especially at the beach or in beautiful parks with large shade trees and small squirrels. My favorite people are other writers, metaphysicians, and my family. I have a lot of cousins and two older siblings but no spouse or children of my own. I rely on close friendships of extended family and confidantes. I participate in dream work with a small group called Sacred Dreamers and I frequent writers’ groups all over Orange County, CA. My professional memberships include SWCA, Southern California Writers Association; PWOC/PWSD, Publishers and Writers of Orange County and San Diego; and IBPA, Independent Book Publishers Association.

When and why did you begin writing?

I grew up in Marshall, a small town in East Texas and moved to California to pursue a writing career in 1981. While I was taking a script writing class, I met a lyricist, Larry Marino, who was in search of a cowriter for his musical, Pandora. We embarked upon a successful collaboration to the completion of the script with me as the librettist. It was my love for the theater and Larry’s incredible talent that spurred me on.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I became a published author of instructional workbooks with two California publishers of educational materials for the classroom, I considered myself a writer. One workbook, Native Americans: A Proud Heritage became a best seller for the classroom several years in a row.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

Thanks for asking about my newly released sci-fi book for young readers, Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space. Jonathon Curtis is the fourteen year old narrator of the story. He has the ability to manifest objects out of nowhere, but he doesn’t know how to control his gift. His emotions take over and get him into trouble, landing him on Planet Staruus. The planet houses troubled kids from an overpopulated Earth and is thought to be uninhabited, but it isn’t. Theep and Thorpe are enlightened space beings who establish telepathic communication with Jonathon, and the fun begins.

What inspired you to write this book?

My artist friend, Angelo Divino, created two colorful and friendly looking space beings, and I was inspired to write about them. Their names came to me first, based on the concept that each of us has a unique sound frequency as well as fingerprints to distinguish us from one another. It occurred to me that space beings would use their sound frequencies in place of names. The names, Theep and Thorpe, are approximate sounds to the actual frequencies, which cannot be spoken with our voices. Years later, the actual story began to take shape in the form of a novel.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I am a character driven writer, which means I start with characters that interest me, put them in weird situations, and figure out the plot from there. In Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space, I chose the narrative style of a troubled teen and used both internal and external dialogue to advance the story. His encounter with space beings is entirely from his point of view. I like to insert humor using a sprinkle of sarcasm and a bit of irony as part of my show, don’t tell strategy.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Since the book is about space beings and I am a character based author, I naturally gave their names, Theep and Thorpe, in the title to go with their images on the cover. I came up with the subtitle to give the reader more information about the story, and to distinguish it from other books in the series.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

“Thoughts are things” is the overall theme of the story. Jonathon has the power of manifestation, and Theep and Thorpe teach him how to control his gift by choosing positive, productive thoughts.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes, I drew upon my experiences as a teacher in a juvenile court school for part of the setting although it changed drastically as soon as it became housed on the fictional Planet Staruus.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

I was influence by J D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye for the narrative style of my book and J K Rowling’s Harry Potter for motivation. As a special education teacher working with reluctant readers when the Harry Potter books were released, I noticed my students were choosing those books of their own volition. This made a big impression on me;

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Oh, yes. I have at least two writing mentors. One is Marjorie Miles, author of Healing Haiku: A Poetic Prescription for Surviving Cancer, who teaches a class I’ve been taking for the past four years. Dr. Miles encourages creative expression through free writing activities. The other mentor is Dr. Heather Friedman Rivera, author of the Prism Walker fantasy series for young readers along with nonfiction and fiction for adults. Heather is my weekly writer’s check-in partner. We email each other once a week with our writing goals, successes, and encouragement for one another. She is also a revered beta reader and writing coach.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My book cover was designed by Laura Gordon Moyer at The Book Cover Machine. She was referred to me by Heather Rivera, and I loved the design she did for Heather’s books. She worked with the original artist/creator of the space images and me for the design. Laura is responsive, cooperative, extremely talented, and reasonably priced.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Listen to your inner voice. Study the craft of writing, consult experts and peer readers and writers for their opinions, but always stay true to your inner voice. Each of us has a unique voice that only we can express. Dream big and don’t give up on your dreams. Surround yourself with positive people and energy. Participate in professional groups with other writers. Build an author’s platform to express your own voice. Have fun.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for choosing Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space for your reading pleasure. Always remember, thoughts are things! ***

custom-book-cover-lillian-new-small-fileLillian Nader
Yorba Linda, California


Theep and Thorpe: Adventures in Space
Cover Artists: Laura Gordon Moyer
and Angelo Divino


Book Review: The Little Prince

Book Name: The Little Prince
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
First Published: 1943

Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste Roger, comte de Saint Exupéry, more popularly known as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was born to an aristocratic family in Lyon on June 29, 1900. He was the third of five children of the Countess Marie de Fonscolombe and Count Jean de Saint Exupéry. His father died of a stroke in Lyon’s La Foux train station before his son’s fourth birthday. This left the family in poverty.

When he was 17, his younger brother succumbed to rheumatic fever. Saint-Exupéry remained at home to care for his brother Francois, but it was to no avail and his brother died. This left Saint-Exupéry in the role of being the sole “man” of the family and caused him to become the protector to his mother and sisters. Later he would write of his brother’s death “…remained motionless for an instant. He did not cry out. He fell as gently as a young tree falls”, this imagery would much later serve to create the climactic ending of The Little Prince.

Saint-Exupéry had difficulty in deciding on a career path. He failed his final exams at the Naval Academy and then studied architecture at École des Beaux-Arts for over a year, but did not graduate. He fell into a habit of accepting odd jobs until he began military service in the French Army during 1921. After taking private flying lessons, he was transferred to the French Air Force. He received his pilot’s wings in Casablanca, Morocco and posted to the 34th Aviation Regiment at Le Bourget on the edge of Paris. It was then that he had several aircraft crashes, endangering his life.

Saint-Exupéry was engaged to future novelist Louise Lévêque de Vilmorin at the time and due to pressure from her family, he quit the air force and flying to take an office job in the city. He was not happy in this choice and in time the young couple broke off their engagement. He returned to working odd jobs and had little success over the next few years.

He began flying again in 1926 and became an airmail pilot. His routes included Africa, Europe, and South America. He became one of the pioneers of international postal flight, in the days when airplanes had few instruments and pilots flew by the seat of their pants. He worked for Aéropostale and became the airline stopover manager for the Cape Juby airfield South Morocco, in the Sahara desert. His duties included negotiating the safe release of downed pilots taken hostage by enemy Moors, a task which earned him his first Légion d’honneur from the French Government.

In 1929, Saint-Exupéry was transferred to Argentina, where he was became director of the Aeroposta Argentina airline. He surveyed new air routes across South America, negotiated agreements, and even occasionally flew the mail as well as search missions looking for lost fliers. This period of his life is documented in the IMAX film Wings of Courage by French director Jean-Jacques Annaud.

In 1931, his first book Vol de nuit (Night Flight) was published and gained widespread acclaim. He also married the Salvadoran artist and writer Consuelo Suncin that same year. She was a twice-widowed Salvadoran writer and artist. A true bohemian spirit with a “viper’s tongue”. While Saint-Exupéry was bemused by his diminutive wife, their marriage was a stormy one. She was both his muse and the source of much personal angst. Saint-Exupery would engage in many affairs during their marriage, usually with a Frenchwoman Hélène de Vogüé. She would become the author’s literary executrix after his death.

On December 30, 1935, Saint-Exupéry and his mechanic-navigator André Prévot crashed in the Sahara desert. They had been attempting to break the speed record in a Paris-to-Spain race and win a 150,000 francs prize. They survived the crash and wandered the desert for four days, with little water or supplies. Both saw mirages and experienced hallucinations and came close to death. They were found by a passing Bedouin who saved their lives. The near brush with death would figure prominently in Saint-Exupéry’s 1939 memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars. Saint-Exupéry’s classic novella The Little Prince, which begins with a pilot being marooned in the desert, is also a reference to this experience.

Following the German invasion of France in 1940, Saint-Exupéry joined the French Armée de l’Air to serve his country. After the armistice with Germany, he went into exile in 1940 to New York City. He had the intention to convince the United States to enter the war against Nazi Germany. It was there that he belatedly received his National Book Award for Wind, Sand and Stars won the previous year while he was fighting the Germans. His wife Consuelo followed him to New York a few months later.

It was soon after Saint-Exupéry’s arrival in the United States that the author adopted the hyphen within his surname. It was due to his annoyance of Americans addressing him as “Mr. Exupéry”. It was also during this period that he authored Pilote de guerre (Flight to Arras), which earned widespread acclaim, and Lettre à un otage (Letter to a Hostage), dedicated to the 40 million French living under Nazi oppression.

The French wife of one of his publishers helped persuade Saint-Exupéry to produce a children’s book, hoping to calm the pilot’s nerves and to compete with the new series of Mary Poppins stories by P.L. Travers. Saint-Exupéry wrote and illustrated The Little Prince to answer this call. It would be first published in early 1943 in both English and French in the United States, and would but only later appear in his native homeland posthumously after the liberation of France. This novella has been translated into more than 250 languages and dialects and is one of the top three selling books in the world.

In 1943, Saint-Exupéry rejoined with the Free French Air Force. He was eight years over the age limit for being a pilot and his previous crash injuries was causing his body pain and limited mobility. His last assigned reconnaissance mission was to observe German troop movements in and around the Rhone Valley before the Allied invasion of southern France. He took off in an unarmed P-38 from an airbase on Corsica. To the great alarm of the squadron members who revered him, he vanished into that long night without a trace.

“A saint in short, true to his name, flying up here at the right hand of God. The good Saint-Ex! And he was not the only one. He was merely the one who put it into words most beautifully and anointed himself before the altar of the right stuff.” -Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

When he was a young boy, the narrator drew an elephant inside a boa constrictor. However, all adults who saw the picture thought it was a hat. He tried to explain but was told to take up a more useful hobby instead of drawing. The lack of creativity of the adults frustrated him and made him stop drawing.

He is now a pilot but his plane has crashed in the Sahara desert. There, he encounters a golden-haired young boy he calls “the little prince”. The prince asks him to draw a sheep and when he shows him his childhood drawing, the boy correctly guesses what it is. The narrator fails to draw a nice-looking sheep then out of frustration just draws a box and says that the sheep is inside the box. Much to his surprise, the prince tells him that the drawing is exactly what he wanted.

The two are stranded in the desert for eight days. The pilot tries to repair the plane and the boy tells him his life story. The prince describes his life on his planet, which is an asteroid as big as a house. The planet has three tiny volcanoes and several kinds of plants and the boy wants a sheep to eat the unwanted plants. He also loves a mysterious rose growing on his planet and is on a journey to see what else is in the universe.

The boy has been to six other asteroids and has met a foolish adult inhabiting each of them. One of the inhabitants, a geographer who only concentrated on theories but never explored the area he was mapping, told him that the planet Earth would be a good place to visit.

The prince landed on Earth and when he saw rosebushes, he was sad to learn that his rose was not unique. He doubted himself and felt bad about his small planet. However, he met a fox who convinced him that his rose was special because of his love for it. He and the fox eventually separated and the prince met a railway switchman who told him how adults were oblivious and never satisfied with their situation.

Back to the present time, the very thirsty narrator and the prince find a well. The pilot later sees the prince talking to a poisonous snake who has previously claimed to be able to return the prince to his home planet. The prince wants to go home.

“People have forgotten this truth,” the fox said. “But you mustn’t forget it. You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose.” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The Little Prince Book CoverWhile The Little Prince is considered a children’s book, there is much commentary about living as an adult and seeing beyond what our eyes tell us. It is a book about love, respect, and home. Much of the author’s life went into this small volume that has influenced billions of children to this very day. It is a book that should be part of every child’s bookcase.

Kidding Around at the OC Children’s Book Festival

People at the Book Festival 1

When I arrived at the Orange Coast College campus, I was not sure what to expect. I had heard of the Orange County Children’s Book Festival for years, but because I did not have children, I had never gone. I decided that this would be the year I changed that. It was a beautiful southern California day of bright sunshine, a cool breeze and temperate temperature. I discovered ample parking in the campus lots with signs clearly stating that I was free to park without a permit or a charge.

It was a short walk between buildings to find the fair, which was free of charge to enter. There were large canopies everywhere, each one filled with authors, exhibitors and educational vendors. There were booths with tutoring services, illustrators, and plenty of authors that specialized in children’s books. A large main stage dominated the open area with a few smaller stages for other child friendly entertainment available. One popular booth had a kitchen and cooking demonstrations. Many of the Moms stopped there to catch a cooking show and relax in one of the shade covered chairs.

Wow. All The Children!

For every adult there were at least two to three kids running about. Most were between the ages of 3 to around 12 years. There was plenty for them to do; from having their faces painted, to making bookmarkers, listening to live storytellers on the stage, or stopping to pose for a photo with various “monsters” in bright costumes. The trackless train that wended its way through the festival seemed to be popular with the little ones. The ride was full every time it passed me while I was there. I did not see many children thumbing through books, they had far too much energy for that, but their mothers did seem to stop and look over the book booths with an eye toward purchasing. I liked that the Children’s fair was enclosed by the college buildings, so even if the little ones were running about, there was no danger of them running off too far.

There were dozens of authors with tables promoting their YA or children’s books and there was no way to review them all. However, a few struck my interest.

Nikki White - Author and BallerinaNikki White’s table was not far from the main stage. For an author, this might prove to be deadly since you are off the walkway, but in Nikki’s case, her booth decor and striking ballerina costume drew people over. Her book is called Prima: The Ballerina and it is a book designed to teach ballerina dancing to children who might not have access to instructors.

The illustrations in her children’s instruction book were created by her husband Ethan White who created a posable doll that the couple later photographed in the various dance positions being discussed in the book. It created a colorful and friendly character for children to relate to.

Dani Dixon - Illustrator and AuthorDani Dixon is an artist connected with Tumble Creek Press. It is a website of comic books, webcomics, trading cards, and more. Dani had several portfolio books of her artwork on display at the children’s book festival which was quite intriguing.

Dani-s artwork

My last highlight is a small press that had booked a double table and featured a full stable of children and YA books. Ink Smith Publishing is a small independent publishing house with big aspirations. Their authors and editors work together to develop books, marketing plans, and sales. They have only been around since 2012, but they are growing steadily. Their books sell internationally, including Canada and the UK.

Ink Smith Publishing

I enjoyed my time at the Orange Country Children’s Book Festival. I found it well attended by several hundred people, the majority of them small children with their mothers or fathers. There was far more there than books and authors, the exhibitors offered a great deal for parents and homeschoolers to learn from. It was a comfortable event with plenty of restrooms available, a food truck court and wholesome entertainment on the various stages. All of the authors had full tables and professional style canopies to protect them from the sun.

If you are a YA or children’s book author, it is an event you should consider attending. Authors of adult books might want to think twice. While there were people of all ages at the event, it did attract children the most.

Main Stage at Book Festival

Storyteller Booth

People at the Book Festival 2

Cooking Pavillion