Sleepy Animals


Please welcome Suzy Davies to my blog reading friends. Take a seat, Suzy, and we shall begin. 

Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

My name’s Suzy Davies, and I’m a multi genre author. I’ve written one romance novel and the rest of my books are for children and young adults. Thank you, Mary, for inviting me to be your guest.

Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book? 

I started writing when I was six years old – short stories and poems. Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed doing. As a child, I had work published in a children’s magazine, “Pictorial Knowledge,” in the “Letters to The Editor” section. My poem, “Chess Board World,” was published in Nuneaton High School For Girls’ School Magazine. I realized people enjoyed reading my work. In the 1990s, Forward Poetry published my poems, “Crystal,” and “Love in Autumn.” However, I didn’t become a professional writer until 2014, when I wrote and published my debut novel, “Johari’s Window,” published by SilverWood Books. My very first children’s book came out in 2016, traditionally published by Snow Leopard Publishing. Getting my work published as a professional writer was a natural progression for me.

How difficult was it writing your first book?

Since my focus is on children’s books, I’ll talk about “Snugs The Snow Bear,” my first book written for kids. I was very lucky that after only 10 submissions to publishers, this book was chosen and published traditionally. Writing Snugs was like a breeze, to be honest. I think I had the first draft out in about 2 weeks. I was so excited – it felt so right! The challenge in this book was giving children insights into Green Issues without letting the facts detract from the entertainment value of the animal characters.

Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

I have never thought about giving up, really! Why would I? Writing makes me feel happy!

Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

There are so many people who have helped me.

Apart from my late parents who always read to me at bedtime and encouraged me to read and to write, the first person ever to help me was a teacher at Nuneaton High School For Girls called Mrs. Pontefract. She admired an essay I had written, and told me I was a talented writer. I listened to her, but I didn’t really know much about what being a writer involved. I knew I could write, and that was all. But I think it made a big impact on me at a subliminal level. I always felt confident when I had essays to write. Writing is like a continuous thread in my life – the one thing I knew early on I could do well. The writing habit carried on into adulthood, and I went from strength to strength.

Among people who have helped me recently are Helen Hart, my first publisher, who is always very positive and supportive.

Sheila Graber, award-winning world-acclaimed famous artist, (known for drawing Paddington Bear for the British Broadcasting Corporation,) animator, educator, movie-maker and writer, who collaborates with me, has compared my work  in “Luna The Moon Pig” to that of Beatrix Potter. I feel honored and humbled.  I’m so thrilled to be working with her. She always tells me “keep going” and I will. We often chat on the phone or via email, and we love talking about creative ideas together. We share a deep love of the sea, art, cats, education, nature in general, and books.

Laurie Shanholtzer is great fun to work with and she is very supportive of me and my writing. Working with Laurie on “Sleepy Animals” was a joy. Laurie and I both enjoy the outdoors and the wildlife we encounter very near our homes. We share a love of art, wild animals, books and travel.

I’m currently also working with a self-taught artist who creates colorful paintings and illustrations. I’m super-excited about our first book together which is top secret at the moment. Already I have discovered we have much in common – we are both David Bowie fans, love flowers and animals!  She has a very upbeat approach and she creates her work, which has fabulous colors, at lightning speed! Her identity will be revealed when our upcoming young adult/children’s book is ready to be launched.

My husband, Craig, encourages and supports me a great deal. He is a very good sounding board, and listened to my “Sleepy Animals” bedtime story poems all the way through. He has great ears, and, as a writer, he knows what works.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

A huge thank you for your support. Thank you for reading my work.

What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

Craig, my husband, has advised me to give my writing my all, and regard it as a long-term project. I understand that this is very good advice, and that instant results never come. Hard work, focus and dedication get there in the end. A bit like the tortoise, right? I write from the heart, and I think my readers can feel that in my words.

What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

For my children’s picture books, my target audience is 4-7. Children at this age are inquisitive about the world around them, and they love animals. They also like to have something to read that is simple, but with a few challenges to help them develop and grow as readers. I feel that my picture books, “Sleepy Animals,” and “Luna The Moon Pig,” match  the interests and needs of my target audience.

“Snugs The Snow Bear” is aimed at middle-grade readers, and the language is more sophisticated in this book with “chapters” at just the right length to hold their attention. The world of the book has an equal emphasis on family and peer group. The green issues theme in this book ties nicely in with what children are learning. Children at this age begin to take in the wider world even more and there is less of a “me” focus. They grow increasingly curious and aware of the world around them. They are beginning to form their own opinions about things, and like to chat about what they read with their peers. My book offers them a way to engage with what is happening in the world that is non-threatening and informative. The illustrations by Peter Hall are a little more grown up than those for my picture books to reflect the ideal readership for Snugs which is 6 to 8 years.

Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

The cover for my new picture book release, “Sleepy Animals,” is illustrated by notable artist, Laurie Shanholtzer. Laurie is a third generation artist, whose family members include the nationally recognized Vincent Maragliotti, Aunt Iris Guarducci, a Pulitzer Prize winner in portraits, and her mother, Gina Tetzlaff, a prominent New York dress designer. Laurie is former President of the Tri State Arts Association, and has been juror for numerous exhibitions in West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. Laurie presented extensive lectures and workshops including the Armand Hamer Collection, area school workshops for students and teachers, and various civic groups. She is a member of the American Society of Portrait Artists, The New York Society of Portrait Artists and the Tri State Arts Association. Laurie’s focus is now on doing what she loves most – art for children and their grown-ups. All of the pictures for “Sleepy Animals” were originally for children’s bedrooms, and they are available on Laurie’s Etsy shop site. Laurie has adapted them as the cover art and illustrations for our book. Laurie’s whimsical artwork was a great inspiration for my little animal poems which tell each wild animal’s bedtime story.

What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I’m just putting the finishing touches to another book of narrative poems called “Celebrating The Seasons.” This book is the follow-up book to “Sleepy Animals” and it is aimed at children a little older who are 7-9 years. Laurie Shanholtzer’s illustrations in pastels are wonderful! It will be coming out later on this year so look for the cover reveal!

I’m also working on a young adult story which is a reimagining of a classic fairy tale. Sorry, I can’t reveal any of my secrets about this upcoming book yet.

I continue to work on the adult novel, “The Blue Talisman”  about a ring with magical powers.

Any last words before we wrap things up?

Thanks, once again, Mary. And thank you to all those lovely readers who support me and my work.


Suzy Davies, Author – Author Profile and Social Links.


“Sleepy Animals,” on Goodreads:

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This entry was posted on July 17, 2019. 3 Comments

7 Tips to Writing Factions in Fiction — Legends of Windemere

Many stories have a ‘faction’ part of their world. It can be obvious with feuding guilds or opposing armies. Other times, you can miss it because you’re only introduced to one of the groups and merely hear about the others. You can even have factions turn up in a more modern setting in the form […]

via 7 Tips to Writing Factions in Fiction — Legends of Windemere

Last Gasp

front cover

Please welcome Howard Levine to my blog. Hello Howard, welcome to my blog,, take a comfy seat and then we shall chat. 

Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

I’m a retired teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages and special education, in public schools in New York City and Prince George’s County, Maryland.   Before beginning my career as a public school teacher, I taught Transcendental Meditation (TM) in the Bronx. My wife and I now live in the metro Washington DC area, where we volunteer and hike together.  I spend a fair amount of time on my bike, and a greater amount writing.

Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book? 

I developed an interest in writing in college, but got serious about it at roughly age 30, with a novel that would have to be largely rewritten before I would allow it to see the light of day.

How difficult was it writing your first book?

My first published novel, Leaving This Life Behind, came out in October 2000 from an indie press in California.   I presented some of the TM-related understandings I have about the nature of life—and death—in a fictional context.  Having those understandings emerge within the flow of the novel, rather than suddenly reverting to non-fiction, giving a mini-lecture, was a challenge.  Based on the reviews and responses it received, it at least appears that I met the challenge.

Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

I never seriously considered giving up, although the frustrations involved in getting published traditionally (as opposed to self-publishing) can be difficult at times.  Over the years I’ve managed to attract a number of literary agents, a few fairly prominent, but have been published only by two different indie presses.  Promoting a novel after it comes out is not a wonderful experience either, and it’s gotten harder.  Still, the writing itself is very absorbing, and the story takes on a life of its own.

Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

My wife, who is also my editor-in-chief.  I trust her reactions to what I read, and I know that she tells me exactly what she thinks.   I think most writers need honest feedback a great deal.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

Last Gasp, my current novel, is very topical politically.  And, I’m told, the pages turn quickly.

What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

“If your characters don’t seem like real people, nothing else about your fiction will seem real either.”  This advice was given to me by a professor of mine at City College of New York, and proved valuable when I got hooked on writing years later.

What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

My target audience is any reader who enjoys an engrossing novel.  Last Gasp is a not only a thriller but a family drama.  I feel that I write in an accessible style that favors momentum over excessive description, and features characters and situations that most people can relate to.

Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

The cover was designed by the illustrator at Black Opal Books.  He designed a cover based on the content of the novel.  I was very pleased with what he showed me, and we went forward with it.

What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I’m currently working on an as-yet-untitled novel about a retired couple who rescue two undocumented minors from the Arizona desert.  They attempt to reunite the boys with their undocumented father, who lives in Maryland.  An excerpt follows below.

Levine                                                                                                                         1

                                                            Chapter 1 

            Jose thought that it might be another mirage.  A dust devil without the benefit of wind, as if the desert—thus far unable to take Miguel or himself down via scorching heat, freezing nights, a flash flood, the sole-piercing chollo pods, or rattlesnakes, serpientes venenosos—had decided to rise up and swallow them, finally be done with them.  If they weren’t so young, this could almost be seen as an act of mercy.  Gracia, as their devout mother would have put it.  But if it wasn’t a mirage, at a closer look, then it could be a car in the glimmering distance.  Which would probably mean la migra.  Jose knew very little about the United States, but he doubted that most Americanos drove their big fancy cars around in the desert.  Getting picked up by la migra meant a return trip to Salvador, one way, he was pretty sure of that.  Death in the desert might be better.

            Miguel, his normally rooster-ish voice thin and frail, said, “Mira.”  Look. Shielding his eyes from the sun with his left hand, he pointed with his right index finger (which back in Salvador had doubled as a “gun,” complete with unnervingly realistic sound effects).  Okay, a mirage it was not.   As it came closer, it began to wink, sunlight glinting off of metal and glass.

            Even as Rich Anson got closer, he was unsure as to what he was looking at.  They could have been saguaros, albeit scrawny and wilted, their outlines blurred by the dust kicked up by Rich’s Jeep Wrangler—a mini-desert storm that was surely visible from where the kids stood, if kids they were– a distance that was difficult to calculate in the

Levine                                                                                                                        2

open, undulating, expanse.  He could’ve been the border patrol, come to ship them back to Mexico or Central America, maybe slap them around first, or even kill them, save the expense and hassle of deportation.  Two more skeletons in the desert.  Actually, they were halfway there already—or so it seemed, as their outlines finally became clear enough. The boys made no attempt to run.  There was no place for them to hide anyway, especially since Rich had wheels and an engine.  Besides, as he drew nearer, he’d have laid odds that running was no longer a physical option for either kid.

Any last words before we wrap things up?

I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed on When Angels Fly, and invite readers to take a look at Last Gasp.

Howard Levine hedshot 4

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This entry was posted on July 15, 2019. 7 Comments

New Cover! Fresh Look! New Content!


.99 cents!

This is my shameless plug for letting all the world know that “When Angels Fly” in now out in a 3rd Edition! It is on pre-order right now for 99 cents! Is my new cover awesome or what? I love it and is shows my son as the true angel he is and this memoir is a keeper. Link is here and please take a look. 

“After surviving the cruel rage of tyranny from her mother and ex-husband, Sarah Jackson traveled a new path; a journey of loss, heartbreak, and ultimately strength. How do we survive the unthinkable, our child suffering from a terminal illness? Sarah Jackson’s life will teach you that despite all the hardships, you will survive, even if at times it feels like you won’t. They say there is no greater loss than that of a child; I say losing a child is the King of Loss. Sometimes the thing that helps us survive it, is knowing we are not alone.”

Top 10 FAQs About Book Publicity and Promotion  — CKBooks Publishing

Some good information about promotion by Joan Stewart. I particularly like the list of free press release distribution services. I have not tried any of these but will definitely look into them. Joan also lists a couple paid services that she prefers, though one would have to wonder if she says The main reason you’re […]

via Top 10 FAQs About Book Publicity and Promotion  — CKBooks Publishing

This entry was posted on July 9, 2019. 2 Comments