Welcome to the blog, Lynn! Now, tell me about yourself.
I write under the pen name of Laya Brandt for children. I am a new author, having written my first book over several years and publishing it with Jurnee Books, an Imprint of Winged Publications in 2021. The second book came out on May 18, 2022 (my birthday) and is a prequel to the first. It supplies the background to the story of the first book.
Tell me about your first two books.
Book 1, Evod and the Children of the Star is about a mysterious bird, Evod who shows up at a school in New Hampshire. There, he finds the Children of the Star, David, and Julia who are fifth graders. David is a shy, awkward boy, and Julia is a scruffy, streetwise girl. Evod leads them down a strange tree and outside into numerous adventures. What they encounter is an intriguing tent, a scary whirlwind, a treasure chest that tests them, and a comforting fire.
Evod also leads them to a glass star in the basement of their school. David takes it to Mel, the janitor, and Mel gives him a book written by his great-grandfather. Assuming they are doing the right thing, David and Julia give the star to their principal, Mr. Aark. That turns out to be a mistake because, he and Mrs. Barrey, the secretary, are plotting against David, and his parents, and they hide the star!
David and Julia are interrupted from solving the mystery of the star’s disappearance when a nearby school has an explosion. Mr. Aark is arrested. Evod continues to lead, protect, and comfort them.
After the star disappears. David, Julia, and JJ trace it to a millionaire who doesn’t want to share it. The kids take it upon themselves to return the star to its rightful place.
The second book, Evod and Moishe, describes the history of the star featured in the first book. We learn who made it, why, and its importance to the school.
Evod and Moishe is a historical-fiction prequel to Evod and the Children of the Star. In other words, its action takes place before the action in Evod and the Children of the Star. The reader is taken back to a real-time in history, although the characters are fictional.
Evod again reveals unsolved mysteries and even future events. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself crying, laughing, and gasping with surprise while reading this story.
What do you hope children, and their parents, will take away from your books?
I hope that children and parents take away the idea that there is HOPE. There are unseen helpers that guide and protect us through life. What may seem to be a terrible disaster can become a launching pad for something wonderful through love, friends, faith, and family.
What are your favourite scenes in Evod?
My favorite scenes are when the supernatural dove first appears to the main characters, David and Julia (and Moishe, in the second book.) I love the surprise and curiosity that draw the kids to follow and befriend the dove, Evod. I also love it when Moishe escapes death in the second book and is reunited with his father.
Where do you get your ideas?
My stories generally come from my imagination. I see pictures of scenes and write them down. Then I meditate on them and they are connected somehow to develop a story. Some experiences from my own life were seeds to sprout the plot, but most things just develop from the pictures I see.
What advice to you have for aspiring children's book authors?
My advice to writing children’s books is to have fun. Try to go back into your childlike mind and live adventures through your characters. Your themes and plots will appear and develop themselves as you allow yourself to think of your readers. Marketing is a difficult job for me. I would much rather write, but I know it’s important to get my books out there so people and kids specifically can hopefully enjoy them. So, I market in a way that makes sense to me. I was intrigued by your book launch of Dog Band, which was so exciting, and after that, I followed you. That’s how we got in touch. It’s really been fun.
Did the pandemic change how you write, or sell your books?
The pandemic didn’t really change how I wrote my books, it just gave me more time to do so. I work as a substitute teacher, and I had a lot of time off before I started substituting online and then in person again. Limited in person marketing opportunities caused me to do online book launches and readings of my book on the Laya Brandt, Author page with Facebook Live. I was not able to sign books in person until this past May. I’ve now had two book signings and I can tell you I really prefer meeting potential readers one-on-one!
What are your future writing plans?
I will continue writing the Evod Series under the name of Laya Brandt. I’ve contracted for five books in total, so I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me. I also started an adult book, which will be written under the name Lynn Shortman, that is sort of auto-biographical.
Tell me something about yourself that people may not know.
People might not know that I traveled across the entire US with my husband, from the East Coast to the West Coast, looking for a new place to live. It was our own personal trek on the Oregon Trail. We finally settled in Oregon.
Find Laya Brandt on her website, and Facebook. You can email the author, too.
The Evod books are also sold on BookBub and giftsofthespiritpdx.com
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