Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Crystal Allen


I met Crystal during one of Houston’s SCBWI monthly meetings. When you listen to Crystal or have a conversation with her she is the real deal. She is definitely a people person with a vivacious personality. I originally thought she was a New Yorker, because of her honesty and openness. It’s quite addictive.

My first glimpse of Crystal’s writing style was when I read her first novel, How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy. The characters were so authentic and believable. Call it crazy, but I got a lesson on “tags” while reading this novel. Meaning, she mastered narrative lines. You knew who was talking when, no confusion. Besides that the writing is captivating.

Crystal is currently working on a series for Balzar and Bray featuring a young, African American girl named Mya Tibbs.  She may put you in mind of “Ramona.”  Mya’s sassy, yet funny, with a cast of family and friends that will keep you in stiches! Crystal is having a wonderful time getting to know Mya and all of the other characters.  She hopes Book 1 will be out in the Winter of 2016.

Crystal is married, has two sons and lives in Texas. She enjoys a good bowling war with family and uses some of Lamar’s bowling techniques. You can find more information about her and her books at http://www.crystalallenbooks.com.

Below, we learn a bit more about Crystal.  I hope you enjoy it and don’t forget to share!

ME: Do you have a nickname?

CRYSTAL: Yes, my family calls me Chris.

ME: Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you?

CRYSTAL: Before writing, I ran a home-based word processing business and employed women in the neighborhood to work for me. You would not believe the enormous amount of talent that, for whatever reason, was at home.  A few of those women typed over 95 words a minute! Accurately! My client list consisted of doctors, lawyers, hospitals, oil companies and news anchors.

ME: Describe your writing style.

CRYSTAL: My writing style is called “wide-open.” Characters come into my brain unannounced, fully dressed, with an idea of the story they want told. I’m not “creating characters” so, I write “wide open” allowing them to be free to act and talk in a way that represents them the best.

ME: Are you a Pantser or a Plotter?

CRYSATAL: I’m a bit of both.  I’ve tried outlining, and sometimes it’s a good idea for me to do one, but many times, I don’t follow it because usually my story ends up going in a different direction.  And that’s okay.

ME: If you could sit in a donut shop with anyone of your characters who would it be and why?

CRYSTAL: I would love to sit in a donut shop with Grandma from The Laura Line.  She is so funny, versatile, and full of knowledge and history.  I’d want it to be a Dunkin Donut Shop because they have lots of flavored donut holes and good coffee because I think Grandma and I would be there awhile!

Thanks so much Crystal for being part of my blog. I foresee a big future in writing a head of you. I look forward in learning more about Mya in your coming novel. See you at the next Houston meeting.



Aragorn goes up to the counter, looks quizzically at the menu, and then turns around and takes a seat in the corner. He pulls up his hood and stares intently at the group of rowdy, short men sitting at a table near the counter. Everyone in the shop grows increasingly uncomfortable, especially when they notice the plethora of knives and swords that he has hidden (rather poorly) under his cloak. ~Literary Starbucks

Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Jennifer Larson

I had the pleasure of meeting Jen, for the first time, at the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles this past August. Our personalities clicked and we hit it off right away. You can’t help but be drawn to her personality and drive.

Jen had been teaching for 14 years before she decided that she wanted to focus her time on her writing. This path led her to not only write, but also self-publish her 1st children’s picture book, Lost Soles. Jen gave me an advanced copy. The pictures were vibrant and held a great little story about the emotional journey of a lost sandal. Lost Soles will be available on Amazon in the next few days. You can find Jen here, http://www.authorjenniferlarson.com, @authorjlarson, and http://www.authorjenniferlarson.blogspot.com.

Since August, we still  keep in contact. I’m getting to know more about Jen and her self-publishing journey, while also earning a sweet new friend from the Carolinas. Below, we will learn a bit more about her. Enjoy and feel free to comment.


ME: Tell us something that has been in the vault. Something hardly anyone knows about you.

JEN: Not everyone know this, but I photograph lone shoes I find along the sides of roads, on the sidewalk, in medians, and in other random places. I then use these “lost soles” as writing inspiration and for my blog every Monday.

ME: I love it.


ME: What is your greatest fear?

JEN: My greatest fear, as it relates to writing, would have to be the fear of rejection and possibly hearing that my writing isn’t any good.

ME: I think all writers can relate.


ME: Describe your writing style.

JEN: I’d say my writing style is lighthearted around, of course, an underlying message. Oh, and I like to throw in the occasional  playful pun.

ME: I can second that.


ME: If you can spend a day with a book characters who would it be, and why?

JEN: Hmmm…what character and why? It’d have to be Mary Poppins. She is a sweet, nurturing, and gentle soul. And it doesn’t hurt that she can also create a little magic. 🙂


ME: If you were left on a deserted island forever, which book would you bring with you and why? 

Jen: Glass Castle spoke to me on so many levels. What a phenomenal memoir! I learned that all things are possible, no matter the circumstance.

ME: Sounds wonderful. I’m going to add that to my list of reads.


Thanks so much Jen for participating in my Tiny Talk. I look forward to our next meet up at another SCBWI event. I wish you great success with Lost Soles. I’m sure it’ll be a shoe in for greatness. I beat you to the pun!

Tiny Talk Tuesday with Angela Sunde

G’day Mate. I’m talking down under today!

My tiny talk this morning is with Angela Sunde. I read about this Aussie author from another blog site. She loves to inspire the imaginations of children by showing them how to uncover magic and humour in daily life. Her light-hearted fantasy novel, SNAP MAGIC, caught my attention. It’s a bewitchingly funny coming-­of-age story about secrets, bullies and pumpkin soup. What 9-12 year olds wouldn’t want to read about that? The story idea came from Angela’s own recollections as a tween. This book is being released at the end of this month. I’m sure my niece will love it.

It was a pleasure interviewing my new Aussie friend. I wish her much success with this novel.

Angela Sunde

ME: Tell us something that has been in the vault. Something hardly anyone knows about you.

ANGELA: I’m bilingual from birth (English and Croatian) and learnt three more languages at school (German, French, Spanish), going on to study them at university. I ended up speaking five and have spent most of my working life as a teacher of German in secondary and elementary schools. Becoming a children’s author and illustrator has been a change of direction in my life. I’m loving it!

ME: Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve . . . 

ANGELA: . . .sleeping in till I am ‘all slept out’; followed by a breakfast of smoked salmon and poached eggs hollandaise at my favourite beach cafe ‘The Beach Shack’ at Currumbin, Gold Coast; a walk with my husband along the esplanade watching the surfers at The Alley; and then curled up with a book on the veranda in the hammock.

ME: Australia is on my bucket list. I hope ‘The Beach Shack’ will still be there, sounds yummy.

ME: Are you a Pantser or a Plotter when you write a story?

ANGELA: I do both. I write a skeleton plot after mind-mapping ideas, then begin to write the first draft. When I get stuck, as I inevitably do, I stop and plan in more detail, writing scene summaries. I find these keep me on track, without hindering my creativity. Perhaps that makes me a plotter.

ME: If you can spend a day with one of your book characters who would it be, and why?

ANGELA: It would be Mrs. Swan, the old witch who lives next door to my main character Lily (12 years). Mrs. Swan is sprightly for her age, very wise and old school. She likes to potter in her magical permaculture garden, though her magic skills can be a bit rusty at times. You just know that if Mrs. Swan’s involved, something will invariably go wrong for Lily. And it does.

ME: She sounds like an interesting character. Someone I’d like to meet.

ME: What genre have you not written in, but would love to try?

ANGELA: Perhaps Young Adult, though it might be difficult for me to return to this time in my life, to find my young adult voice and dig up memories. My father died when I was 18 and my optimism and joy for life was buried with him for many years. I have written some YA short stories recently and hope to write more.

ME: Well, I’m sure if you wrote one it’d be wonderful. Thanks so much for being part of my blog. Maybe someday you can come back and we can chat some more. Good luck!


I’m not a nail biter, but I was a wee bit nervous making my first post that will hit the writing world, friends and family.

When I decided to create “Tiny Talk Tuesdays” I wanted to make it simple, lighthearted and fun. I hope you enjoy my interview with Tara. Please don’t hesitate to post.

I stumbled on Tara through Facebook. My first connection-she’s a writer. Secondly, she’s an east coast native like me. Through social media, I got to know Tara and her successes as a writer and about her handsome family. Tara and I have never formally met (hopefully, one day). She’s one of those people, like me, that see no person is too small to talk to. I try not to burden her with my writing questions, but even with her busy schedule, she somehow finds the time.

Tara created PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) as the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). She’s a member of SCBWI and speaks at conferences and events regarding picture books, brainstorming techniques and social media for authors. She also teaches for The Writer’s Circle Workshops.

Tara writes quirky, humorous picture books featuring magical places that only kids can create. Her adorable debut picture book, THE MONSTORE, will handful more in the next two years. Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf has an post today about her newest book announcement.

Tara is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She writes her way to success in New Jersey.

To get to know her a smidge more, I asked Tara a few simple questions.


ME: Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.

TARA: I remember details from my first birthday party. I have a very keen memory. That’s probably why I’m a children’s writer. My mind still lives in the past.

ME: Do you have a nickname?

TARA: No. because Tara is short enough. But I wanted a nickname as a teen because many friends were known as something other than their given first name, something cool. A friend called “Loop” came up with “Merit” for little-known reasons, but that (thankfully) did not stick. Then a friend in college invented “Tarot-card Dawn-of-the-Dead Mahonaise”, a nickname for my first, middle and last names. He was the only person who called me that, so I don’t think that qualifies as a real nickname. Plus, it’s too darn long.

ME: What is your greatest fear?

TARA: Sharks! My grandmother took me to see “Jaws” when I was five years old. That should explain it.

ME: What motivates you in life?

TARA:  The people I love, the things I love, and making others happy in any way I can.

ME: If you could have lunch with any book character, who would it be and why?

TARA: Willy Wonka. I want to know all his sweet secrets.

I want to thank Tara for taking the time out of her day to be part of my blog.