Monday, April 30, 2012

New Children's Book Gets Five-Star Review

The following is a review from New York book reviewer, Fran Lewis. I'm so glad she liked the story, Mystery at the Phoenix Festival! It's a departure from my historical novels that I write, but it was still a lot of fun to work on it with my niece and nephew -- both are very talented and creative!


Mystery at the Phoenix Festival by novelist Laura S. Wharton, with Jake and Nicole Spanton
Uprooting an entire family is difficult but not when the reason is to share the love of their family, children with those in hospitals. Jake and Nicole Rivers love having their two sets of grandparents living nearby. Who wouldn’t when they nurture you, bake great cookies, enjoy your company and love having family fun with you while your parents are away or working? Grandparents are special but when Jake and Nicole leave their home to travel across country with their parents and two dogs Dolly and Zena little do they know they would be in for an adventure of a lifetime. As most kids often ask that famous question while traveling: “ARE WE THERE YET? OR HOW LONG BEFORE WE ARRIVE AT OUR DESTINATION?”  Jake and Nicole learn from Cari, their mom about the place they are about to visit, the people they might encounter and the history behind the campsite. Imagine meeting Native American Indians and learning more about their culture and their lives.

Arriving at the campsite Jake and Nicole decide to explore the area, take the dogs for a walk and forget the do not talk to strangers rule when they unleash their dogs and they run free having to chase after them. Meeting two adults named Eddie and Joan they hope to enlist their help to find them before it’s too late. Returning to their campsite they leave out the part of losing the dogs but not about talking to the strangers and receiving a strong lecture from their mother. Taking the dogs to work children with autism and other learning difficulties was rewarding and hoping to take them to the cancer hospitals their primary goal for the trip. But, along the way they would meet many people, learn many lessons and hopefully learn who to trust keeping their faith in God.

Children are special and as they meet the many residents at the cancer hospital Nicole befriends a girl named Anna and a bond forms in more ways than one. Learning about her family’s animal shelter and the lack of funds to maintain it send Nicole on a crusade to not only safe these unwanted animals but prevent them from a terrible fate. Meeting the children at the center was uplifting for the patients and for Jake and Nicole. Reading and telling stories made them forget their illnesses as they bonded with not only the children but the dogs, too. Nicole was determined to find a way to help Anna and her parents by enlisting the help of her friends back home who supported her and wanted to help. The power of technology is great as she listened to the suggestions that her friends made, asked her parents for help and made some great choices and decisions on her own beginning with creating a website for the shelter and putting the information on her blog. Added in let’s not forget that both children are being home schooled and were required to complete a day’s work and homework too. Each day would be a learning experience for both Nicole and Jake plus they would be required to record their day on their blogs. So, just how were they going to save the animal shelter and what role would the Festival in Phoenix play?

The authors teach many important lessons in this book dealing with family values, friendship, loyalty and trust. What is really special and makes this book perfect for children of all ages is that teaching of respect to adults and others, the importance of helping people and giving of yourself for the sake of just making others happy. Jake and Nicole are learning that there is more to life than just money and things.
Nicole and Jake were passionate about helping the shelter and set to work enlisting the help of the kids from the Cancer Center making each one of them feel special, especially a wonderful girl named Samantha. But, something happens to change it all and their world falls about when Jake allows the dogs to go out alone one morning and the dogs do not come right back.

Devastated, shook up and understanding he was totally responsible, Jake fears the worst for Zena and Dolly. But, with the support of his family, prayers and the other campers they search and hope for the best.

With a mission to complete and their focus on helping to keep the animal shelter open they create an amazing fundraiser while still praying for their dogs to be returned. Word spread throughout the campsite that the dogs were missing but one note left on their RV would enlighten everyone and create more fear in their hearts for the missing dogs. With the help of the police and yet moving forward with the fundraiser the fate of the dogs was in the hands of God, their prayers and hopefully the police.

Money can do strange things to people and the lack of it even more. As the Festival started and the activities began two young children and their friends said silent prayers for their dogs.

The power of faith and prayer: Did it work? Did their efforts safe the shelter? Who was responsible for kidnapping the dogs and why? Just what other miracle happened? Why is helping others so important and what impact did they have on the kids and their families at the Cancer Center? Nicole and Jake promised they would not tell what happens to the shelter or the dogs to anyone.  Mystery at the Phoenix Festival can only be solved if you read the book for yourself or along with your children to discuss the many themes and lessons to be learned and how young readers might handle each one. Child authors Jake and Nicole Spanton along with author Laura S. Wharton teach the reader so many lessons in this special book hoping more families and their children will learn and understand the power of prayer and the importance of helping others.

Let’s dedicate this review to all those children who are in Cancer Centers and let’s send them our love and prayers for a speedy recovery. This book gets: FIVE GOLDEN SUNSHINES FILLED WITH PRAYERS FOR FINDING THE CURE!

Fran Lewis: reviewer

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dog Lovers Beware! New Children's Book Out

Mystery at the Phoenix Festival is out now. It's a book for children ages 6-12 I wrote with my niece and nephew, and it's a fun story about a family traveling with their service dogs across country in an RV. The adventure is moving along nicely, until their two dogs are dog-napped, and the children's faith is put to the test.

The two service dogs, Zena and Dolly, are based on real dogs, and the story is based on a mission trip the children and their parents (my brother and sis-in-law) really want to take some day. The funny part is their house wouldn't sell, the RV they nearly purchased turned out not for sale, and the dogs flunked therapy dog training.

Still, we wrote the story the way the children envisioned it would be, and it's a fun read for families.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

50 Shades ... E-book to Sensation

I love to read stories of successful authors. So when I read a piece about the author of 50 Shades of Grey, I had to delve deeper. This book has become a best-selling phenomenon, and the buzz is appearing in uncommon places. Have you read this book? If so, what about this book hooked your interest?

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Pirate's Bastard is getting a facelift

We should all be so lucky. 

I mean about getting facelifts of the non-surgical kind. The Pirate's Bastard, my debut novel, is going to get a new cover and a new look (plus a thorough editing) when it is reprinted in May. Originally released in 2010, the book has garnered award nominations and wonderful reviews; but still, I wasn't entirely pleased with the presentation of a story that took me six years to research and write. It also has international distribution now, something that was unavailable by the first publisher of the book. If you're looking for something fun to read this summer, I invite you to look for the new-and-improved version of The Pirate's Bastard coming out in May. It will still be available for e-readers of every kind as well as in paperback version from my new publisher, Broad Creek Press.

Debut Novel, released October, 2010:The Pirate’s Bastard

Reading lists aren’t complete without one good pirate story. This book fits the bill perfectly. It’s titled The Pirate’s Bastard, and it is the debut novel by North Carolina writer Laura S. Wharton.

Set primarily in coastal North Carolina in the 1700s, this story follows Edward Marshall on his mission to free himself of his past while weaving fact and fiction about the coast’s rich boat-building heritage and social mores of colonial life. When Edward sets sail for the Caribbean islands, a high-stakes battle at sea changes his life’s course, and forces him to confront his heritage – and his dead father’s choices.

Exciting: First Review of Children's Book is Positive

There's a certain nervousness I feel when I hunt for reviews of books -- maybe all authors feel that sense of insecurity.

I was especially nervous, because Mystery at the Lake House was my first children's book. I co-wrote it with my son, making an impression on him at least. He now wants to write one all by himself. (His summer project, he assures me. Good thing, because school, karate, and homework tend to take up most weeknights, and now that it's warmer, I have the anywhere-but-here syndrome on the weekends. I truly need to live at the coast, given the ever increasing cost of gas!)

Fortunately, I shouldn't have worried with this first one that's out now. The review is positive, so I guess that means we're off to a good start with the series. You can read it here, if you like.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

At it again: Another children's book is about to be released

I admit it: I love to tell stories. Not lies, exactly. Fiction isn't quite a lie, is it? In every fiction there's a grain of truth, it's said. And while we're saying, let me tell you that a book I wrote a few years ago with two adorable children (who are now in preteen stage) is about to be released.

It's called, Mystery at the Phoenix Festival, and it's about two children and their parents who are traveling cross-country in an RV with their service dogs. Life is good, they are having fun, and then ... the dogs are dog-napped. The story puts some hard questions in front of the children, to be sure. The sub-plots are unnervingly timely, and I have to say that while it was fun to take their outline and develop the characters and the story, I wondered if the timeliness of the message would be lost by the time the book was actually released.

Well, as fate would have it, some things never change. People remain people, some helpful, some cruel. So the story is just as strong as it was when I wrote it two years ago. It's odd that it's release comes on the heels of my other children's book, Mystery at the Lake House. They are not part of the same series. They are not related in subject matter or even style. I do like the idea of helping children tell their stories, though -- kids are wonderfully imaginative.

If I ever run out of stories to tell, I know exactly who to ask for ideas.   

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Site is up! Jock Avery Adventures

It took a few calls to tech support, but I finally got the site up and running for the new children's book! Take a look and let me know what you think:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Children's Mystery Now Available: Sailors, Grandparents, Parents Searching for Clean, Fun Adventure Book Kids will Enjoy

I'm excited to share that my new children's book is out! What's unique about Mystery at the Lake House#1: Monsters Below is that I wrote it with my 10-year-old son, and he’s so excited at the results, he’s tackling another one by himself! That’s the encouragement I was hoping to give him, and the same kind I hope to pass along to other children (and adults): creativity is a precious gift, after all. 

Mystery at the Lake House #1: Monsters Below (April 2012)
By Laura S. and William L.B. Wharton (age 10)
ISBN: 978-0-9837148-2-8   

Summary: Ten-year-old Jock Avery and his two new friends have a noisy mystery to solve in their lakeside community. An unusual screeching sound has everyone on pins and needles, except a sinister neighbor. Some say it’s a lake monster, but Jock’s not convinced. Can he and his two friends find the answer before trouble finds them?

A summer adventure readers will relish, Monsters Below is filled with fun, sail boating, and quirky characters. Mother and son authors, Laura and Will Wharton, have created a mystery to keep readers turning the pages. It’s the first book in the Mystery at the Lake House series, which is destined to be a favorite of young readers and parents alike. To involve readers, there is kid-friendly project, a birder’s list for young nature detectives, and favorite kid-friendly recipes from the characters’ tables.  

Like my other books, this one is available in paperback and e-book format for all e-readers. If you're interested in reviewing it, let me know and I'll send you a copy. Thank you all for your continued support!