Art Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Written by Marin
34 Pages | Publisher: Fontreal
ISBN-13: 9781989661215

Publisher’s Book Summary: Art is autistic and artistic.

Art has just one friend – his teddy bear.

Art does not speak, but he makes art. Art that dismisses gravity.

The publication crowns the artist and turns royalty into a mere audience. The sophisticated illustrations inspire readers to express their emotions, verbalize their feelings, and create their own stories.

Available for purchase here.


Marin is proud to be a self-published children’s book creator. He writes his stories, illustrates the books, designs the covers, formats the pages, and publishes the volumes. He even creates new fonts for his publications to make them one-of-a-kind. To achieve a world-class status for his books, Marin “marinates” them in a special creative compound.

Marin lives with his family on the Canadian East Coast. He is very thankful that the weather there is often bad and gives him more chances to sit in front of a computer and create. His works are available in several different formats:

HARDCOVER: books are cataloged and can be ordered in any bookstore or library in North America. A book title, author’s name, or ISBN is needed for placing an order.

SOFTCOVER and EBOOK: available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Books, Barnes & Noble, and other big and small book retailers.

AUDIOBOOK: obtainable from Audible, iTunes, MagicBlox, and other vendors.

For more information, visit


Life Is What It's Called - What is your background in illustrating and writing?

Marin - I try to marry all the necessary ingredients for picture books – text, visuals, and design. Preparing all of them by myself allows me the opportunity to create a cohesive work of art. Also, because my name is Marin, I "marinate" my creations in a special concoction that helps them become one-of-a-kind. 

Life Is What It's Called - What do you want the readers to know about you?

Marin - I have yet to experience so-called writer’s block – I can create a good story if you give me just one word to start with.

Life Is What It's Called - What inspired you to write and illustrate ART?

Marin - I have always been interested to learn more about people living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), savants in particular. I have been fascinated with the incredible abilities they possess and in my eyes, the challenging lives they have. My goal was to create a book like no other – to match the uniqueness of a non-verbal person on the spectrum. 

Life Is What It's Called - Can you tell us about your art style and influences for this book?

Marin - I can’t really tell you about my art style as I do not have a particular manner of illustrating my books. I find that my protagonists dictate the technique I apply in order to portray them as perfectly as possible. Regarding ART: I wanted to make simple, yet sophisticated illustrations with 3D etching effects. The thought behind it was that it would encompass the simple, yet sophisticated social behavior of an individual manifesting savant skills. 

Life Is What It's Called - How do you think the art in this book will inspire the readers?

Marin - People with ASD often have poor social skills and the public at large knows very little about them. I wanted readers to see the world through the eyes of an individual with the disorder. As you know, extraordinary abilities are more common in autism than in any other social group. I am sure one day our society will learn how to utilize the unmatched expertise of people living with ASD.

Life Is What It's Called - What lessons do you hope readers will learn from reading ART?

Marin - I want my readers to learn that savants have unparalleled abilities and their minds are wired in ways other than ours. Therefore, they are different from the rest of us and they can do magical things.

Life Is What It's Called - How do you see ART being used in homes, classrooms, and libraries?

Apart from a few introductory lines, ART is a wordless book - many savants are also non-verbal. I created the publication deliberately this way with the hopes of representing silent persons and to encourage children’s imaginations to continue the story on their own. If used in homes, classrooms and libraries, the publication will have numerous epilogues while kids learn creative writing and language mastery.

Life Is What It's Called - What creative projects are you working on next?

Marin - My next book is titled BEMBE’S HEART. Bembe is an ancient Mayan name meaning “son of a prophecy”.

It is a book that every mother should read to her child. Without spilling the beans, I will tell you one thing about the publication: it is a whimsical story about the only child in the world born without a heart...


Enter the giveaway for the chance to win an autographed hardcover copy of Art and $50 sent via PayPal! A complimentary download of Marin's book The Smile is also available to everyone right now on Amazon.

ART: Book Giveaway

This post is sponsored by Fontreal. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.

One Small Secret Book Review

Monday, November 13, 2023

I grew up with him and bested him in practically everything we did together–debate, grades, mini-golf, you name it. So, I’ve built an immunity to his boy-next-door charm. Sure, sometimes I might accidentally type his name into my search engine, but his dimples, hotel empire and thirst-trap photos don’t tempt me. I’ve got my sights set on earning my way to the top of the Palmer Hotel empire, and nothing is going to get in my way.

Until my stepsister leaves her secret toddler with me before skipping town for three months. Now suddenly everyone thinks he’s mine, and instead of powering my way to the top, I’m struggling to not get fired. And instead of Ruben staying on the executive floor where he belongs, he’s invading my apartment, breaking dates with starlets, and looking disappointed that I decided to settle down with anyone except him.

But I know Ruben, and Ruben doesn’t settle down. So, there's no way I’m giving him my heart. Not even for Christmas.

**One Small Secret is inspired by the classic films, Bachelor Mother and Bundle of Joy, and is part of the Gift-Wrapped Romance series. Gift-Wrapped Romance Series:

Esther Hatch grew up on a cherry orchard in rural Utah. After high school, she alternated living in Russia to teach children English and attending Brigham Young University in order to get a degree in archaeology. She began writing when one of her favorite authors invited her to join a critique group. The only catch was she had to be a writer. Not one to be left out of an opportunity to socialize and try something new; she started on her first novel that week. Visit her at

Life Is What It's Called - What do you think your readers will like about One Small Secret?

Esther Hatch - I hope they fall in love with Ruben, and I think all the books in the Gift-Wrapped Romance series are the perfect length to keep you turning pages right until the end.

Life Is What It's Called - How is One Small Secret similar to your other books?

Esther Hatch - I think all of my books have some playful banter, some crazy situations, and great kisses. Even though I switched genres, those things are all still there!

Life Is What It's Called - How is One Small Secret different from your other books?

Esther Hatch - It's MODERN! Hooray! I've been wanting to write a contemporary romcom for a while, I started a couple a few years ago, but they were mostly for fun, and I kept going back to my historical work projects. It has been so much fun to have text conversations and a little bit more freedom on the kissing front.

Life Is What It's Called - What are you working on next?

Esther Hatch - I'm currently editing a book for my publisher. It is the forth in my Proper Scandals series, and I'm so excited to have another book in that world release.

Life Is What It's Called - Where does your humor in your writing come from?

Esther Hatch - All over the place. My kids, and my husband all have great senses of humor and in general, humor is really important to me. I work hard on the jokes and funny situations, reading them over and over to make sure they are hitting just right. Often, a lot of humor comes from either people feeding off each other in dialogue, or internal thoughts that are very different from what a character might be saying out loud. Humor was the very first thing that attracted me to my husband, and because of that I can't help but write humor into my romances. To me, it is an important part of falling in love.

Life Is What It's Called - What should readers know about you? 

Esther Hatch - I love reading and I'm so grateful to be a part of the book community. I'm still thrilled that I get to make writing my career. My hope with all my books is to put smiles on the faces of those reading them, and hopefully make them impossible to put down.

In One Small Secret, Cadence Crane returns from working on a new hotel in Vietnam. She finds that the Palmer Hotel empire has had some changes since she left. On top of that, her stepsister leaves a small bundle for her to take care of. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and hilarious circumstances emerge in this fun new romance from Esther Hatch. I love the fun dialogue and chaotic situations that the characters find themselves getting into. This is a fun and enjoyable Christmas read. It was a cute, clean, and cozy romance that's perfect for the holiday season. To learn more, click here.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links that support this blog. I was given a complimentary ebook to read, however, this is my honest opinion. 

The Body on the Beach Virtual Book Tour, Author Interview, and Giveaway

Tuesday, November 7, 2023


The Body on the Beach: A Kat Dylan Mystery
Written by Chris Wieland
Illustrated by Leanne Franson
Ages 9+ | 360 Pages
Publisher: The Smart Aleck Press (2023) | ISBN-13: 9798985701326

Publisher’s Book Summary: In this sequel to 2022’s The Crabtree Monsters, thirteen-year-old girl detective Kat Dylan and her little brother, Alec, are back!

Even after cracking the case of the century, Kat and Alec are still stuck in Crabtree, Michigan, and suffering through a long, cold Midwest winter. When Gabby, a middle school “mean girl,” approaches her with a problem, Kat can’t imagine it’s worth her time—or that there’s a chance Gabby’s problems will lead to the next big mystery. But when Gabby becomes the focus of the local police, especially Kat’s Grandpa Nick, her interest is piqued. Before Kat can get to the bottom of things, she finds Gabby lying dead on Crabtree’s frozen beach.

Suddenly, Kat is awash in questions. Who killed Gabby? Could Kat have saved her if she’d paid closer attention to the mean girl’s troubles? From there, Kat, with Alec in tow, sets out to find answers and bring the murderer to justice. Along the way, she learns that Gabby’s case is tied to another investigation: the kidnapping of a rich kid from Chicago whose family is intertwined with the people who own most of Crabtree.

As she and Alec dig, they find themselves at odds with kidnappers and killers, private eyes and cops, and more than a few kids and adults who would just like them to go away.

Available to purchase here.


Chris Wieland is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is also the father of two fierce children, including a tough, smart tween who helped him find the voice of his protagonist, Kat Dylan. He lives in Southern California with his family.

For more information, visit:
Life is What It's Called - You seem to have vast writing experience, including filmmaking; how has your background helped you write The Kat Dylan Mystery series?

Chris Wieland - I’m someone who has always wanted to write fiction, and from a young age, I focused on accumulating the kinds of experiences that would give me fuel to write the kinds of stories I wanted. Filmmaking helped me focus on visualizing action and character, knowing how to create a world for my reader. It also helped me sharpen my dialogue-writing skills and realize that you need conflict on virtually every page to keep the reader going.

In the case of The Kat Dylan Mysteries, when I first came up with the idea for what would eventually become The Crabtree Monsters (the first book in the series), it was for a screenplay. I wrote the script, which then was about two teenaged crime-fighting brothers, and I shopped it around in Hollywood. It eventually got optioned for production, and then re-optioned several times, and at one point, it looked like it might get made. But it didn’t, and eventually the rights reverted to me. I still believed in the characters and the story, but I decided to write it as a book so that I could have control over the vision (the look of the town, the twists of the story). When I started doing that, my own kids were starting to read middle grade chapter books. When I read with them, I was surprised at how few tough, smart girl heroes I found – unless they were living in a fantasy world or had survived the apocalypse. My kids wanted girl heroes who lived in a world like theirs, but could still have adventures and face danger around every corner. So I made my older detective a 13-year-old girl, and I took direction from my kids. But I kept so much of what had gone into the original scripts – the pacing, the action sequences, the splashes of color, and so on.

Life is What It's Called - Will readers need to read The Crabtree Monsters before reading The Body on the Beach?

Chris Wieland - Of course, as their writer, I’d like readers to get them both!

Having said that, I’ve written them so that they stand on their own. When characters from the first book show up in the second, I try to encapsulate what’s happened to them so far (anything that you need to know going forward). This is meant to be a series of Kat and Alec’s adventures, not a three- or six- or eight-part story with one plot across multiple books. Each book is its own mystery. The characters grow and develop over time, but you’ll be able to follow the twists and turns of The Body on the Beach without knowing anything about the Monster Gang (the villains of The Crabtree Monsters).

Life is What It's Called - How would you rate the scariness of The Body on the Beach for kids?

Chris Wieland - The books are meant for ages 8-13, although I’ve heard from kids (and adults) outside that range that like them. They’re not horror stories, but there is some violence that might be a bit much for some kids younger than 8. What’s important to me is that the violence and the action of these books have consequences – people get hurt or are in danger. I don’t make light of it, which I suppose could be tough for a younger reader.

Likewise, the puzzles that Kat and Alec solve are usually pretty twisty and turn-y, and I spend a lot of time walking through how they figure out the solution. I think if you’re much younger than 8, that might be hard to follow, but if you’re in that age range or older, I want to keep you guessing.

Life is What It's Called - What scene was your favorite to write and why?

Chris Wieland - In The Body on the Beach, there are two big action sequences that I really loved writing – one is a chase that begins on an el train in Chicago and spills out into the city’s Loop neighborhood. The other is an attempted rescue on a not-completely frozen Lake Michigan. In both cases, I wanted to write something that was exciting and that kept my audience on the edge of their seats, wondering how Kat and Alec could possibly get themselves out of trouble.

But also – and this was true in The Crabtree Monsters, as well – I love writing Kat and Alec’s dialogue and banter. It doesn’t matter if they’re just annoying each other, or if they’re doggedly trying to solve a puzzle together. Either way, I love creating the rhythm of their back and forth, and also creating the layers of this sister/brother team. Writing those scenes makes me smile. 

Life is What It's Called - How many books will you write for this series?

Chris Wieland - I’ve plotted out through the sixth book right now, so I’ll definitely do at least that many. One of the things that’s been important to me is creating a series of books where the key characters don’t just “go back to normal” at the end. Each adventure changes them forever because they have to face serious dangers and because they occasionally have to make decisions that will resonate for a long time. So Kat and Alec in the second book are different people than they were in the first. I’m writing the third book now, and they’ve continued to grow and evolve.

So what’s exciting is that is that once I’ve gotten to the end of the sixth book, I’ll be writing about two characters who have grown and changed enough that it’ll feel like a new series, even if it’s the same girl detective and wise guy skater brother.

Life is What It's Called - What do you hope kids will enjoy and take away from reading The Body on the Beach?

Chris Wieland - Most of all, I hope they have a great time reading this book. I want them to be on the edge of their seats, and to think that they’ve enjoyed a great thrill ride with some laughs and mind benders mixed in. I also want them to feel like they can be like Kat and Alec – tough and smart kids who save the day because they work hard, they don’t give up, and they protect each other. I would love it if readers also take away a sort of moral value from the book – that it’s heroic and admirable to do the right thing, to do what you believe, and that’s it’s not always easy. There will be people and obstacles standing in your way, but you can still succeed and be true to what’s right. If kids come away thinking like that, maybe they’ll do something heroic in their own lives. It may not be rescuing someone on the ice, or figuring out the identity of a murderer, but maybe they can make a difference to the people in their lives for the better. If Kat and Alec can inspire that kind of heroism, I’ve done my job well.


Enter for the chance to win signed copies of both Kat Dylan Mysteries (The Crabtree Monsters and The Body on the Beach) and a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • A signed copy of The Crabtree Monsters
  • A signed copy of The Body on the Beach
  • A $50 Barnes & Noble gift card.
Four (4) winners receive:
  • A signed copy of The Body on the Beach

The Body on the Beach Book Giveaway 

This post is sponsored by Smart Aleck Press. The review and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view.
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