4 New Book Announcements from the Author of The Man in the Box

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It’s been a busy year for us Toys. Aside from bringing our beloved foster daughter into our home, having some major job changes, helping one of our pups recover from back surgery, I’ve also been very busy writing my next few books.

Many of you may have read my debut novel The Man in the Box, and may be excited to know that a bigger, more suspense-filled revised edition is due sometime down the road. But in the meantime, I’m excited to share with you brief details about my next four books.

I Am the Lion (2014) fiction

The story of a young girl, Lydia, raised by her widowed, bipolar father who struggle to find common ground. Only when Lydia’s fourth-grade teacher steps into their lives do they slowly build a connection, but that bond is threatened when a secret comes out that threatens to scar Lydia for the rest of her life.

Purchase I Am the Lion for your Kindle

Oskar (2015) young readers

Meet Oskar, a dachshund who lives in Germany in the year 1940. He aspires to be a Nazi like his role models, but when he meets a young Jewish girl, he learns what the Nazis’ agenda really is, and changes course.

Untitled Ghost novel (TBA) teen 

A boy and a girl are best friends until he dies in an accident. He visits her as a ghost, living life vicariously through her, laughing with her, playing with her, singing with her, and falling in love with her.

Tomorrow’s War (TBA) fiction

Several families struggle to survive as unknown forces affect the earth’s weather from above.

Leave a comment below. Which book are you most looking forward to? And happy reading!

Which First? The Book or the Movie?

1210313935_210420770_121299238_books_movies_xlarge_xlarge_xlargeI recently spoke with someone who walked out of The Fellowship of the Ring when it was in theaters and never bothered with the other two Lord of the Rings movies. His reason: Because Arwen had speaking parts and wasn’t just sitting on a throne like she does in the book.

I thought this was a little over the top, and quite frankly, I pity the guy for missing out on some of the greatest movies ever made. I tried to convince him to give them another try, but alas, some fish just won’t bite.

It’s said that the books are usually better than the movies, and generally that’s true. But in the case of Lord of the Rings and Forest Gump, I’d have to disagree. (Yeah… bet you didn’t know Forest Gump was a book — and I couldn’t finish it. It also has a sequel.)

However, when a book and the movie come out almost hand-in-hand, sometimes it’s hard to decide  what version of the story you’re going to expose yourself to first.

To me, if you watch the movie first, it’s kind of like reading the Cliff Notes. But on the flip side, if you read the book first, then you’re likely to be disappointed by the movie.

So I want to open up a discussion about this. Let’s hear your thoughts. What do you do, story-lovers, when you’re presented with both options. Share you’re ideas, pros, and cons.

Seeking Artist for Children’s Book

0842.StickFigure_StandingI wrote a children’s book complete with stick-figure drawings, which you’ll have a chance to look at in a moment. I’m seeking a publisher or agent to get it printed and published, but in order to really sell it, I need an artist to do the artwork. If anyone is interested (publishers, agents, artists), please email me at adoptingjames@aol.com.

Below I have pasted the manuscript which you are all welcome to look at. Please feel free to leave some feedback, keeping in mind that I might send publishers to this post to see if there is enough interest built up to make this book marketable.

The Giving Tree was one of my favorite picture books growing up. So it makes sense that if I’m going to make my own children’s book, it would be inspired by Shel Silversteen’s masterpiece. I’m not much of an illustrator, so stick-figures is really the best I can do. But since we’re all about stories here, this little story can’t be told without pictures. Check out A Warm Cup of String by Andrew Toy.

[Image Credit]

The Questions Teen Books Ask

Teen books seem to be the fad today. From Twilight to Pretty Little Liars, kids, teenagers, and adults alike are pouring into this up-and-coming phenomenon of young adult fiction novels. Many, like the aforementioned are damaging to young hearts and minds and serve as nothing more than gateways into the darker territories of adult romance books, which also are on the rise.

9781416912057_custom-s6-c10But then there are other teen books on the other side of the pendulum that may prove to be more worthy of youngster’s attentions. Books like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Neal Shusterman’s Unwind trilogy can cause readers to decide what kind of world they would like to live in, and how and if to ever challenge authority.

Books like these can really cause bright minds to analyze the world in which we live and how to best respond to the inevitable social issues we may find ourselves engaging with.

Shusterman’s Unwind trilogy – though I haven’t read the final two in the series – deals with, in some underhanded ways, the topic of abortion – or more accurately – the value (or lack of value) of a human’s life. It’s set in a future world after the Second Civil War has been fought. That war, like its predecessor wasn’t about unification or freedom, but about reproductive rights. The outcome of the war: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until the age of thirteen.

9780439023528_custom-49e9c33a338d97f0abb78402bcdee9b1103f33a0-s6-c10The phenomenal and nearly-flawless Hunger Games trilogy also deals with the value of human life, set in a dystopian future America, where the government – or Capitol – celebrate death as entertainment. The hero of the trilogy – and ultimately author Collins – does a superb job at causing her audience, both the Capitol and her readers, to squirm at our own acceptance of our desensitization of human loss.

Sadly, one needs not look any further than our own American government where the abortion fighters are loosing ground almost on a daily basis. Hollywood – and especially TV – are continually pushing the envelope to create the most violent, bloody, and – scariest of all – realistic  forms of entertainment they can get away with.

Many people may be appalled that teen fiction asks kids if they are willing to stand up against authority and – in the cases of these books – cause uprisings if need be. I assure you, I am not in favor of people refusing to give allegiance to the flag because they don’t feel like it. But we are entering into a world where each day, the lines between good and evil are blurred more and more in the eyes of our authority figures, and ultimately to those who are under their authority.

Books like these, I believe, are good for kids – and anyone, really – to read especially as our governments grow more corrupt, citizens are swayed by evil ideas and acceptances, and I believe there will be a day when standing up for what is right, and true, and honorable, may be the difference between life and death.

Books like these ask you: Are you ready?

Please share your thoughts below. Are these books just causing unnecessary paranoia? Are we really headed toward a dystopia? Should teens be exposed to such questions? Is the government and America as a whole still relatively clear on what’s good and what’s evil?

[Image Credit: 1 and 2]

Summer Books for Your Kids (Part 2)

I consider myself to be a treasure-hunter. Part of that means storing up treasures for my kids to inherit in the future. This is one of the reasons why I read children’s books on occasion. Buried somewhere under all the Harry Potter and Captain Underpants influenza is a Tuck Everlasting , or a Charlotte’s Web. Stories that carry on into people’s lives. Stories that stick with you forever in some way or another …are treasures. Here are some finds I have come across over the years that you can feel safe having your kids read, or that you can read to them, no matter how young they are.

Special Note: I have listed the following books on the right of this page. If you purchase any through those links you’d be supporting our sponsor and helping us reach our goal with adopting James.

Little Women

As a 28 year old male, I am comfortable enough in my masculinity to admit that this is one of my all-time favorite fictional books. I love it as a storyteller, a dreamer, a prayer, a hoper. It has the most wonderfully optimistic view of life – a great remedy for prone pessimists like myself. I’ve read it a couple of times (it’s so long… but not long enough), and it never ceases to bring me to tears. A tougher read for kids under 9, but a great bedtime story to build lasting memories, I’m sure.





Little Men

For people with boys running around the house. Here’s the alternative (and sequel) to Little Women. It’s about Jo’s married life and the orphan boys she and her husband take into their school. It’s full of sin, repentance, and great lessons for parents on why discipline is so absolutely necessary for the nurture and care of children and how it can bring about a redemption in their lives at a young age. Yes, I am saying that this is an excellent parenting book.






Around the World in Eighty Days

This is one of Jules Verne’s shorter books, so it can be read quickly, depending on your child’s interest in world travel and reading. I read this a few years ago, and was honestly on the edge of my seat for most of the book. It’s about a man who makes a rather large bet that he can travel around the globe in just 80 days or less, but he is often delayed, which causes the blood to rush a little faster, and the heart to pound a little quicker. Lots and lots of good fun.






No Wonder They Call Him Savior

No, this is not an intended children’s book, and I don’t recommend Max Lucado for mature Christians who are past the need for milk and honey but desire meat and heavier nutrition. But I read a lot of Max Lucado as a junior higher, this one being the first, and to this day, I can sense a lot of his imprints on my thinking process in terms of relating spiritual matters to everyday life. A great start for spiritually hungry children.






Back in the days of yore (the 90’s), my parents paid for my subscription to the Disney Adventures magazine (which I mistakenly called “Disney Afternoon” magazine because I never took the time to read any of the covers). But for a good year or so, they published snippets of the first of the Bone story, and I was hooked. Yes, it’s a graphic novel, but it’s family friendly …think Lord of the Rings meets Mickey Mouse. The books (there are 9 of them) have reemerged and are now finding their way into the hands of kids of the ipod generation. Just good old-fashioned fairytale fun. The only graphic novel I ever read, and if I had them in my possession, I’d read them again today.