Cover reveal for Cadence and Kittenfish: A Mermaid Tale

Illustrator: Jaclyn Sinquett; Designer: Mina Chung; Publishing Company: Starry Forest; Editor: Allison Hill

I’m so happy this story is finally coming out!

The earliest notes I can find on this mermaid are from April of 2012. That’s more than a decade ago! And the first line, apparently a possible premise, cracks me up–[The danger of having a pet who would like to eat you….] Oh my. That’s a little dark.

Further on, after I was playing with the story possibilities, I wrote–[theme: something about getting along with another who is supposed to be your enemy]. That didn’t end up being one of the themes. Because who could call an adorable kitten one’s enemy? A closer theme to the finished book is “Pay attention to the blessing that’s right below your nose.” A practical reality theme is that not all pets fit in with all life styles.

There were many revisions of this manuscript over the years. Some major. Some minor. Some from suggestions from editors who showed interest. Some from grit and brainstorming. The last revisions were from working with wonderful Allison H. Hill at Starry Forest as she helped form the story into the final text. Some changes came from too much happening on one page. One favorite moment that had to be cut was Cadence’s daily routine of photo-bombing scuba divers.

Perhaps that will be put to use another time.

Meanwhile, I can’t wait to share this book with you all, beginning August 30, 2022. It’s available for pre-order now at the indie link, Bookshop; at B&N; and on Amazon. Crabcakes! I forgot to say that Jaclyn Sinquett did such an amazing, gorgeous job with the illustrations! You are in for a treat.

Hiding Baby Moses song


In the back of the book of Hiding Baby Moses is the notation for the song Moses’ mother sings as she and Miriam walk through the marketplace with Moses in a covered basket.

“The Shelter of God’s Wings” is an original song I wrote with some help from my husband. I wrote the words and the melody with the exception of one note that Marc thought could be changed. He added the guitar chords and background arrangement. In the Youtube “video,” that’s him playing the guitar.

In the original draft, Moses’ mother sang a few lines of Scripture from Genesis. My editor, Jeannette Larson, thought a refrain throughout would improve the story, so the few lines became a song focused on a main theme of the book–God’s protection.

I searched for verses in the Old Testament that spoke of that protection. Some beautiful verses came to light. Psalm 27:5 said, “he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent…set me high upon a rock.”

Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with his feathers…under his wings you can hide.” I used these two verses as the inspiration for the first two lines of the song.

Isaiah 25:4 had two lovely lines that I used exactly as they stood: “a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat.” The last line brings the first two lines together.

God will hide us in the shelter of a rock.

God will shield with holy feathers, hide us ‘neath strong wings.

A refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat,

God will hide us in the shelter of strong wings.

Marc and I listened to some Hebraic songs to try and get a feel for what a song in that culture might sound like. Of course, Moses lived thousands of years ago. Who knows how much the music might have changed? But our hope is that the flavor of the song hits the right note for the modern reader.

Here’s a link to the song as we’ve recorded it. The notation is written in C minor, a key that should be better for most children’s voices. I sing it a few steps lower (A minor) because that is better for my vocal range. The guitar chords are easier to play if you capo it on the third fret and use the alternate chords. If you prefer to sing it lower, you can use these alternate chords without the capo or on a keyboard. (The notes on the staff would then be obsolete. Start instead on an A.)

Cover Reveal for Hiding Baby Moses

(Flyaway Books, 2021)

Hiding Baby Moses, my first Bible story retelling, is due out from Flyaway Books on April 27th, 2021.

It’s not as easy writing about this book as it was to write about Venetian Lullaby. I can’t just post pictures of Venice and gush about the city.

I was asked recently on a podcast how I came up with the idea to retell this story. It was a bit of a buzzkill to say that I don’t remember. I wrote the first version of the story way back in 2005. Who knows what was going through my mind at that time? I certainly don’t.

So this is my educated guess: When I was in seminary, one of the memorable classes I took was “Women in the Bible.” It was really interesting to look at the women who were so often behind the scenes and then dig to find out about them. A project I did for that class was to write poems about different women in the Bible from a first person point of view, imagining how they might be feeling about the things that they were doing or that were happening to them. Writing while imagining remains one of my favorite ways to interact with the Bible.

I imagine this is what I was thinking when I decided to write about the story of baby Moses. I imagine that’s why I told it from Moses’ sister’s viewpoint. What a cruel situation to be in. How would your heart survive, knowing your precious baby brother was going to be left out in the river weeds to give him perhaps his only chance for survival?

Or maybe I was happy to write a story where the plot had already been decided. Plotting remains the most difficult part of writing for me. But I like the first answer better.

Cover Reveal for Venetian Lullaby


VenetianLullaby_CVR (1)

Venetian Lullaby, my picture book love letter to Venice, is due to release on January 19, 2021 with Page Street Kids.

Here’s a quick rundown on my history with Venice:

I first met La Serenissima when I went on a five-week educational tour of Europe with several high school friends after graduation. We had three days in Venice and I knew for sure I’d have to come back and spend more time there.

Venice gondal

Eventually I did. I’ve visited several times with my husband and once with my younger sister. Venice georgie

For three days of that visit, I was on my own. I learned I do not like traveling alone.


On that visit, I also took a private art lesson ( with a Spanish Venetian (above) who has become a friend. My husband and I stayed in her apartment for one of the visits.

Three of my favorite general loves about Venice:

  1. Water, water, everywhere. I love water! Venice water 5
  2. Cars are only allowed in one tiny parking lot section at the edge of the city. The rest is carless. So much quieter and slower! So serene! Venice water 2
  3. Beautiful buildings everywhere you look. So much history! venice st marks

Venice locks

I love this city.

Interview with Mary Ann Steinke-Moore



My friend and critique group buddy has a debut book out! It’s called Mandy’s Song, published by Watershed Books.

Here’s the teaser: High school senior Mandy Thorpe has two great hopes: to nudge her friendship with Erik Andersen into romance, and to step up her singing dreams by winning the lead in a musical. She has other dreams, too. Since childhood, Mandy’s prophetic dreams have called her to action. When those dreams become nightmares about Erik that grow ever more terrifying, Mandy is determined to do something about it. With God’s help, she must find the courage to make a difference in Erik’s life before her nightmares become reality.

I asked Mary Ann a few questions about her writing journey, especially with this book.

Could you please give a brief overview of your writing journey?

 A brief overview of 50 years is challenging!

The first book I remember making was for my older brother, who was hospitalized for traction on the elbow he broke playing basketball. A long palomino horse starred in the illustrated, 3 by 4- inch, stapled booklet. I was about eight years old. During grade school I had a lot of vivid daydreams, but didn’t write them down. In high school, for fun, I turned children’s books into plays for the neighborhood kids, and for one dressed my pet guinea pig up as Jiminy Cricket.

In college I majored in English because I wanted to become a writer. One professor noticed that when I wrote about memories, my language would simplify to the age I was in the memory. She wondered if I might be good at writing children’s books. This felt right to me, because Children’s Literature had been one of my favorite courses.

After college I took the Institute of Children’s Literature Writing Course. When my children were young, I wrote Christmas programs for our church and wrote short stories for the annual Highlights for Children magazine contests. In the middle of this, I started researching and brainstorming a novel.

I began attending Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conferences. On my third try I won a scholarship to the Highlights Foundation Children’s Writing Workshop at Chautauqua, which was one of the most joyful weeks of my life. I continued working on the novel, getting critiques from editors at SCBWI events and from a Highlights Foundation young adult novel workshop. When discouragement derailed me, I’d remember the scholarships from Highlights, and try again.

After an Indiana SCBWI conference in 2005, a group of us formed a critique group, which we later named the Taleblazers. Having writing friends helped when rejection made me despair, and the meeting deadlines helped push me into writing when no editors were interested and it all seemed pointless.

In 2007 I won a Midwest Writers Workshop Fellowship and had an intensive revision weekend that renewed my hope for Mandy’s Song. Here and there, editors began writing nice things about the novel on their rejection letters. While sending out Mandy’s Song, I began work on a middle grade novel.

After major revisions, where I updated Mandy’s Song, changed it into first person, and emphasized the Christian aspects of the story, the novel finally found its home at Pelican Book Group: Watershed Books, and was released April 3, 2020. During the Covid 19 pandemic. It figures.

Do you remember what prompted you to write Mandy’s Song?

I kept seeing headlines in the paper about how teen suicide rates were increasing. This touched a chord in me, because at a low point when I was nineteen, suicide was a tempting option. I wanted to show that there is a path away from despair to a better time, that while “weeping may endure for the night, joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5)

What is your history with singing and musical theatre?

 I’ve loved singing as far back as I can remember, and enjoyed church and school choirs all through grade school and high school. In 4th grade I started playing the violin, and my first experience with musicals was playing in the pit orchestra for West Side Story and Finian’s Rainbow in high school. When I was a senior, I auditioned for a singing part in Fiddler On the Roof. The drama teacher asked us to scream as part of the audition. Apparently I screamed well, because I got the part of Fruma Sarah, the screeching dead wife of Lazar Wolf. Yelling “Pearls!” into that auditorium and singing at the top of my lungs was so much fun! I also got to ride on a rolling ladder swathed with white cloth, pushed by another student, with my hair frizzed out.

In college I took five semesters of voice lessons, even as an English major, because Indiana University let you take ten credit hours outside your school.

Once I married and had children, church choir was my main outlet for singing—except that after lullabies I would continue on warbling show tunes to our daughters.

When I was almost 40, I took part in a group that studied Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. One of the exercises helped me rediscover old passions, and I remembered how much I’d loved being part of those high school musicals. A local civic theater met less than a mile from my house, and I summoned the courage to audition for a revue they were having. I got a couple of solo parts and more fun chorus parts, and was hooked. I did several musicals with them, and a few more with other groups after that troupe disbanded. The funniest one I did was Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? as a gym teacher nun, and the last one I did was Fiddler on the Roof, again, as one of the mamas, in 2015.

Is Mandy’s Song the original title of the book? Or did you have a different working title?

For the first few years it was titled “Song of Sorrow, Song of Joy.” At one of my SCBWI critique sessions, the editor said, “No, no, no! You do not give away the ending of the book in its title!” So I came up with Mandy’s Song.

What do you find to be most challenging about writing a novel?

Sticking with it when it feels like it’s a big mess—like cleaning out the basement after years of hoarding. And like the basement, you have to choose one corner and start. I’m excellent at procrastinating on both of these projects, which is why I’m not an author with 20 novels, and why I have a cluttered basement. Somehow by tackling one scene, or one technique, like changing it over to first person, at a time, I eventually got the whole book in shape. Overall plotting strategies, like the hero’s journey, or thinking how the character’s weaknesses and strengths move the story forward, can help with untangling the mess.

Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on next?

I’m working on a middle grade novel, titled “The Secret of the Forgotten Chapel.” Twelve-year-old Deirdre’s life is disrupted by her parents’ separation and the resulting move away from her dad in Chicago to rural Indiana. She finds refuge in a deserted chapel in the woods, but struggles to discover any friends who truly understand her loneliness.

It’s currently in the “big mess” stage, so I’m happy to avoid working on it while ordering bookmarks for, or answering blog questions about Mandy’s Song. Is it primarily a family story, a friendship story or a mystery adventure? Or all three? That’s what I’m trying to sort out.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your writing?

In mid-March I planned to go to a Chicago museum to research, and be inspired by, Tiffany stained glass memorial windows, to help move forward with “The Secret of the Forgotten Chapel.” The day I planned to go, the museum closed for the lockdown, and I’d already realized traveling on the train was probably not a wise idea. The exhibition was supposed to end March 21st, but I’m hoping it might be extended into a time when travel is possible—and safe—again.

For the first week my thinking was scattered, with the usual structure of teaching school, going to choir, attending church, gone. The next week I got the email that Mandy’s Song was being released in eight days, and I had to regain focus, fast. In the middle of learning to do selfie videos and zoom meetings for school, I had to finish my website, answer marketing questions for my publisher, and ask people to help announce the release, etc.  I actually forgot to eat until my stomach growled, quite unusual for me.

I still have times of being foggy, sad, and disoriented, watching too much T.V. or Facebook, but this week some hope and energy has returned, and I’m feeling more organized. Between school projects and marketing projects, it may be another couple of weeks before I return to “Forgotten Chapel,” but I’m starting to note ideas for it again, which is a promising sign.

What are some of your favorite books from your growing-up years?

Little Women. In 6th grade I knew the first chapter by heart. I was middle-aged before I realized, “Duh, Jo was a writer. No wonder I liked it.”

A Christmas Carol. My mom read it to us many times.

A Wrinkle in Time. The Lord of the Rings. Heidi. Black Beauty. The Black Stallion.

I didn’t read The Secret Garden until I was grown up, but I would have loved it. Mary Ann Portrait small 2.jpgMary Ann Steinke-Moore




Book Blitz and Giveaway/ The Fever King


The Fever King
Victoria Lee
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: March 1st 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

About The Author:
Victoria LeeVictoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She’s been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She’s also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey.

Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.

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