Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Halima Sahar Muhammad

I am admittedly biased about today's featured author on The Writer's Block! She is none other than 12 year-old author Halima Sahar Muhammad, my daughter. After successfully completing 2 NaNoWriMo challenges (2010 & 2011), she decided to publish Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe. Today is the official release date! 

Please watch her video, book trailer, read her interview, visit her website, read an excerpt from her blog, and visit her Facebook fan page. It would be a wonderful thing if you bought the book! All of the links are listed below. Leave a comment for Halima. She has been a disciplined and determined young lady throughout the process. She is living proof that if you put in the work, results will come. 

(I love you , Halima! You did it!)

Riley Interviews Halima Sahar Muhammad on The Writer's Block!

Book Trailer for Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe


Halima's Official Website:

Halima's World Blog:

Riley Facebook Page:

12 year-old author Halima Sahar Muhammad interviewed on Lakefront Muse blog!

Buy your copy of Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe:

My Website (Get an autographed copy!)


Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Thank you for your support! It means everything! 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Sheri Fink

(Sheri Fink's second children's book, The Little Gnome, is now available on for purchase on the Kindle market! This adorable book explores the concept of change in a way that both parents and children can appreciate! Get your copy today for the special price of $4.95!   Read my review of The Little Gnome.)
1) Tell us a bit about yourself and where you live and work.

I grew up in a small town in Virginia and moved to the west coast after grad school. I had a successful career in online marketing before deciding to make a change in my life. Despite the outward signs of success, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was meant to do something more. With a lot of courage and the support of my amazing husband, I left the corporate world in 2010 and starting writing and publishing children's books. Although some folks thought I was crazy two years ago when I started off down this path, I'm so grateful that I did it. I'm living my dream and it feels incredible!

2) How did you start writing for children?

I wrote The Little Rose when I was going through a difficult situation. I didn't even let my husband read it at first. I put it in a desk drawer and left it there until fall of 2010 when I attended a transformational conference. I met a woman there who encouraged me to share my story and insisted that her grandchildren needed its message. When I got home from the conference, I shared the story with 20 people that I respected and trusted. Eighteen of them told me they got goosebumps when they read my writing. At that point, I started considering publishing my first children's book.

After seeing my first book in print, I was hooked. Ideas flow to me and have to write them. It's fun to make stuff up and write it down for a living. I began writing The Little Gnome a month after The Little Rose debuted. Now that I've experienced the joy of sharing my stories with kids, I want to create more goodness in the world for them. I want them to believe in themselves and lead happy, successful lives. I find children to be very charming and I love it when they say that I make a positive difference to them.

3) Tell us about The Little Gnome. What inspired you to write it?

The Little Gnome
is a charming story about a garden gnome experiencing the wonder of the four seasons for the first time. At first he doesn't understand and resists the changes in his environment. That just makes him grumpy. Once he begins to understand the seasons, he finds something good in every change. The book helps kids ages 5-10 learn to embrace change. Published in March 2012, The Little Gnome debuted at #1 on the Amazon best-seller list.

I'm inspired by my experiences and how I feel about them. I love taking something that feels like a negative and helping kids discover a way to see it in a different light, one that can be truly positive and beneficial.

The idea for The Little Gnome came about when I was thinking about moving from Virginia to California. My husband and I moved to Southern California 9 years ago and the seasons are much milder here. I was wondering what it would be like for a kid who's only known SoCal to live in Virginia and what that first year might be like. And, there are things that I miss about each season. Those are the things that are highlighted in the story.

4) Describe your path to publication. Has this experience met/exceeded your expectations?

When I was considering publishing my first book, I talked with lots of authors. After learning about the traditional publishing industry and the independent publishing possibilities, I chose to self-publish. I'm an entrepreneur at heart and I believed in my book enough to invest and bring it to market much quicker than would have been possible going the traditional route. There are advantages and disadvantages to both paths, but independent publishing was the right one for me at the time.

I'm very happy that I chose to independently publish my books. I hold the rights and get to make the decisions about my books and my brand. I learn new things every day and enjoy the journey.

5) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

I find that a lot of people hear about my books through word-of-mouth. People who read The Little Rose and The Little Gnome tend to tell their friends and it just takes off from there. A lot of sharing takes place on Facebook and Twitter. I'm very accessible and I think people really like that. I also find in-person author events to be very rewarding. It's a lot of fun for me and it helps spread the beautiful messages of my books to lots of children who need them. I feel so fortunate for all of my fans who have made this a wonderful journey for me!

6) Please catch us up on what you have been up to since you released The Little Rose.

Published in March 2011, The Little Rose has been a #1 best-seller on Amazon for over 45 weeks. The Kindle edition is also a best-seller and became the #1 top-rated children’s eBook on Amazon. Having the courage to write and publish my first book has completely changed my life.

Since that time, I've launched a children's brand, "The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink," with the mission to create books, toys, merchandise, and life experiences that inspire and delight children while planting seeds of self-esteem. I've been working with a playwright and we've co-written a stage adaptation of The Little Rose that will debut later this year. I also wrote and published the second book in "The Little Series," The Little Gnome, and have plans for 8 more books in the next 5 years.

In 2011, I was selected as one of the top “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.” I was featured in several inspirational non-fiction books, including two international best-sellers, Self-Esteem Doesn’t Come in a Bottle by Kelly Falardeau, and Dare to Dream: This Life Counts by Debbi Dachinger. This month, I'm delighted to be featured the cover of Conversations Magazine, in an issue that's focused on books for the young and the young at heart.

Earlier this month I completed my first book tour. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun. I've also had the privilege to travel and speak with thousands of kids and share my stories with them. In the past six months, I've spoken for the Girl Scouts, UCLA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, Reading is Fundamental, schools, libraries, and writing conferences. I really enjoy it!

7) Describe a typical day in your life.
A typical day for me includes breakfast with my husband, working out at home, meditation, media/PR (interviews, writing press releases, etc.), spending some time connecting with fans on Facebook and email, updating my websites, business calls, planning upcoming author events and book launches, writing thank you cards, dinner with my husband, cuddling with my two kitties, reading, and writing in my journal.

I set aside time on two days a week to focus on writing. I’m not always writing my children’s books during that time. Sometimes I’m writing an article for a magazine, blog, etc. I try not to be too hard on myself if I don’t stick rigidly to the schedule. Once an idea has come to me, it’s only a matter of time before I can no longer resist writing it. Lately I've been very focused on my upcoming books and have been writing 1-2 drafts a week. I have a lot of travel coming up this summer and want to have the books already in motion when I leave.

8) What projects do you have in the works?

My next book, Exploring the Garden with The Little Rose, debuts in October 2012 and takes 2-5 year-olds on an educational adventure learning the alphabet and identifying the plants and animals of the garden while exploring our natural world alongside The Little Rose.

I'm also writing the next book in "The Little Series," The Little Firefly, about a late-blooming firefly who learns about friendship and acceptance. The Little Firefly will be published in March 2013. I'm very excited about both books!

9) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

My advice is to continue writing and keep dreaming. There are so many opportunities now for writers to get their work out into the world. I’m living proof that independent authors can be successful and make a positive difference for their readers. It’s a great time to be a writer!

Author Bio

Sheri Fink is a #1 best-selling children’s author, the creator of “The Whimsical World of Sheri Fink” children’s brand, and an international speaker. She writes books that inspire and delight children while planting the seeds of self-esteem that can have lifelong benefit.

In 2011, Sheri was selected as one of the top “50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.” She is featured in several inspirational non-fiction books, including two international best-sellers, Self-Esteem Doesn’t Come in a Bottle by Kelly Falardeau, and Dare to Dream: This Life Counts by Debbi Dachinger.

Sheri is a founding member of the Evolutionary Business Council, an international, invitation-only council of speakers and influencers dedicated to teaching the principles of success in order to make the world a better place, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

Sheri is a proud supporter of organizations that make a difference in the lives of children, especially Reading Is Fundamental and the Girl Scouts of America.

In her free time, Sheri enjoys adventure traveling, writing and reading, scrapbooking, and spending time with family and friends. She spent her childhood in Culpeper, Virginia and now resides in beautiful Southern California with her husband, Ryan Fink, and their two kitties.

Contact Sheri




Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Laurie Cameron and Laura Meagher

1) Tell us a bit about yourselves and where you live and work.

I was born and raised in Plainfield, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and still live there today with my husband, Joe, and three beautiful children. With my bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master of arts in teaching, I taught for eleven years before taking a break to stay at home with my children. But it was a luxury that we just couldn’t afford and I returned to teaching two years ago.

Laurie Cameron was born in Montana and moved to the Washington, D.C. area after finishing college. There she met her husband and took up the nomadic life in the U.S. Foreign Service. For more than twenty years, she has lived and traveled throughout many parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Laurie is currently residing in Honduras, but is packing out to move the States as we write this.

I am Laurie’s husband’s sister’s daughter (phew!). In other words, I am Laurie’s niece. We began writing together in 2007.

2) How did you become writers?

I caught the writing bug early -- in about the 4th grade. I got serious about wanting to publish a great mystery for kids in about 2004. Then Laurie came along in 2007, looked at my most recent manuscript, and proposed that we team up. Our first book, The Ghost at Old Oak Way, caught the attention of a publisher in 2008 and was published in 2009. We continued to collaborate and are now launching our second book, The Ghost at Judy Creek Station. Our third book will be launched soon.

3) Please share the background and dynamic of your writing team. How do you make this work? Have you/will you consider independent writing projects?

First, it's important to mention that, throughout the course of our writing, we have never lived in the same country! All of our collaborating was done via email. Sometimes, I would write a chapter and send it to Laurie, who would edit it and add the next chapter. At times, we would outline the storyline and decide who was interested in writing what. Then, we'd piece it all together and edit, edit, edit until we had a great manuscript.

It helps that our interests and personalities are very different. Laurie travels and lives throughout the world; I live a block away from the house where I grew up. Laurie grew up with three brothers and has two grown sons; I grew up with a sister and had two daughters before our son was born six years later. Laurie is a computer wonk; and I, well, I know where the keyboard is!

But the most important thing is that we keep each other going. Writing can be a lonely experience where self-doubt is one’s greatest enemy. Rejection letters from publishers and agents are difficult to receive. When one of us falters, the other takes up the charge.

Although we have plans to work together on future projects, independent projects are not out of the question. In fact, we would likely be of great help to one another!

4) Tell us about your recent release, The Ghost at Judy Creek Station.

We are really excited about this book! It takes place in the hometown of my grandparents, which is where my mother and Laurie’s husband grew up. We heard stories of a haunted house and couldn’t resist. Our hero Simon, a computer nerd with a bright red afro, was a support character in our first book. Mixing old with new, it has a ghost and a cyber-spy, a long ago crime, and some very current Chicago thugs.

5) Why write mysteries for young people? Will you collaborate in a different genre?

We love mysteries. As kids, we used to devour Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. We decided on middle grade because there is just something about that age, when kids are fully engaged, thinking little beings, but haven’t yet begun to acquire that edge that comes with the teen years. The plot of the middle grade novel can be just as complex as adult novels without the angst of the young adult novel.

After three middle grade mysteries, we are toying with the idea of writing a young adult novel. We have been tossing around an idea for a plot.

6) How do you promote your work? What methods have worked best for you?

The trouble with middle grade is finding ways to reach our audience. How much do kids at this age use the internet and can we reach them there? We have a website,, and a Facebook page Laurie does a lot of social networking to reach parents on Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads. In the past, we have used the tried and true methods of school and library visits. You can reach a lot of kids in one school visit! But now that I am back to teaching, I can’t do school visits. We are exploring the possibility of doing virtual classroom visits. Meanwhile, we have launched a major campaign in the region where the book takes place, with press releases, author visits at public libraries with summer reading programs, marketing our book through local bookstores, etc. We hear that there is a lot of buzz out there about our book.

7) Who are your favorite authors? What is on your respective reading lists right now?

Great question! I don’t have any one particular author that I'd consider my favorite, though when I read a great book, I try to read anything else that that author has written! On my summer reading list is a mystery, a love story, and a nonfiction book about the ocean. Laurie devours books. She reads both kids’ and adult books. Although she would love to read only mysteries, for kids, this is not possible because there aren’t a lot of new books in this genre out there. She posts reviews of good kids’ ebooks on our blog,

8) When you are not writing, how do you spend your time? Describe a typical day in your life.

I am a full-time working mother of three children. Need I say more? Now that summer break has arrived, I am looking forward to playing with my kids, taking a walk, and drinking a mocha. Oh yes, and reading... I relish a bit of time to curl up with a great book! But Laurie has other ideas for me, like starting our next novel.

Laurie really has no idea how she will be spending her time. She is moving to Arizona for a year while her husband undertakes a year of duty in South Sudan. She has joined a hiking group and a gardening club there by way of Meet Up. She will no doubt join the very sizable quilting guild. A job? Maybe…

9) What projects do you have in the works?

We are currently polishing up our third book, The Ghost at Cavern Lake Hollow, and preparing for its release. After that, well, as I said, we've got a few ideas up our sleeves!

10) What advice would you offer to aspiring authors?

Don't give up! Write because you love to write, and explore all possibilities. The industry is ever changing, and it's important to think outside the box!

Authors' Bios

Laura Meagher was born and raised in Plainfield, Illinois, and continues to reside in that same Chicago suburb today with her husband, Joe, and three beautiful children. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master of arts in teaching. Laura has just wound up her thirteenth year of teaching in the public school system.

Laurie Cameron was born in Montana and moved to the Washington, D.C. area after completing her advance degree in Economics. There she met her husband and took up the nomadic life in the U.S. Foreign Service. For more than twenty years, she has lived and traveled throughout many parts of Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America. She has two sons who are both in the Peace Corps.She currently lives in Sedona, Arizona.

Laurie and Laura co-authored The Ghost at Old Oak Way, published by Untapped Talent, Inc in 2009 and are now launching their second book, The Ghost at Judy Creek Station.

Contact the Authors



Twitter: @laucam57

Facebook page:



Monday, June 4, 2012

Guest Post: The Best Book Clubs Out There by Tyler Jones

When most people read a good book, they want to be able to share it with others. Furthermore, people generally like suggestions about what to read. So, what’s the perfect solution for both of these issues? Join a book club! Here are the best options out there.


Amazon has an online book club that is free to join. Each month, a different book is selected. The book description is given as well as customer reviews. At the end of the month, people can post their own review, comment on others’ reviews and communicate freely. This can be a great way to learn perspectives from all over the world!

Book Movements

Book Movements is another online book club. A person must register with the site, but it is free of charge. Each month, a new book is picked. Members can blog about the book and also share a review of it. This book club has special events too, such as live chat sessions with authors. There are also reviews on over thirty two thousand different books, so the suggestions are very copious.


The Bookworms book club is great for people who LOVE to read. The topics of these books are mainly light-hearted, but enjoyable. One great feature is that Bookworms provides chat rooms to discuss with others, so it feels like you’re in a real life book club, even if you don’t have the time for that.


For those that want to meet in person, Books That Make You Go Hmm is a great place to find some unique writings. This book club is based out of New York, but is expanding throughout the country. This club chooses books from various authors that can be considered eclectic. Some people go there for deep literary conversations, others to simply socialize. If there’s not one in your area, you can always start your own chapter. The biggest complaints people have about book clubs is that people can’t commit and/or they can’t decide on a book, but if you’re part of a national club, you’ll have the book chosen for you and you’ll know exactly what the terms of commitment are up front.

The Tattered Club

The Tattered Book Club meets the first Monday of the month to talk about different books that have not hit main stream crowds yet. These books are by mostly independent authors writing about various subject matters. This club has locations throughout the country at many different locations, but you’re more likely to find chapters in urban areas.

1001 Meetup

“1001 Books and Movie Meetup” reviews many different types of books, art work, and movies that they believe everyone should see or read at some point in their lives. Each meeting, a new book is discussed, from classic literature to modern writings. If you consider yourself artistic, cerebral or aesthetic, you’ll likely enjoy this club.

Book clubs not only offer insight about many different types of books, but a chance to socialize as well. If none of these strike your fancy, remember that libraries and book stores often have meetings to discuss a book of the month. If you love to read but have never tried out a club, I would highly recommend it. You’ll gain a whole new perspective on your favorite titles!

Tyler Jones writes about literature, finance & saving money at

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe Will Be Released Thursday, June 7, 2012!

Greetings, All!

My 12 year-old homeschooled daughter, Halima, has just wrapped another school year and will be entering the 9th grade this fall. For her third consecutive year, she was a Texas State Finalist in the Letters About Literature Writing Contest. One of her most exciting accomplishments is that Halima participated in National Novel Writers Month 2011 (NaNoWriMo) and will be publishing her middle-grade novel, Riley and the Kitchen Katastrophe, on June 7th, 2012! She is doing a few interviews, putting together a book trailer, doing cooking videos, and planning a small release party. She has worked really hard and I am so proud of her!

I am asking you to support and encourage Halima in any, or all, of the following ways:

1)  Visit/follow her blog and leave a comment at

2)  Read an excerpt from Riley and leave some feedback:

3)  Visit, "like", and leave a comment on her Facebook fan page at

4)  Buy the book, read it, and then review the book on, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, etc.

5)  Visit her author website at

6)  Share this news with your friends and recommend the book! ;) winking

Thank you for all of your support!

Available on CreateSpace,, Amazon Kindle, and Barnes and Noble NOOK!