Author: marciaallyn

COMING SOON! When Maddie Feels Jealous

I’m pleased to announce another children’s book author, Laura McJannet-Brogan! I’ve known Laura for many years–we worked together in educational publishing and became fast friends–but I didn’t know until recently that she’s a writer. Laura has used her experiences with her own children as her inspiration for her first book, When Maddie Feels Jealous!

There’s so much more information and attention given to managing emotions now than when I was growing up. I often feel inadequately prepared to help my children with their emotions when I’m still learning about my own. Laura has created a book that helps children identify their feelings and understand them. Maddie describes what the emotion feels like in her body, and then she models for readers how to effectively use positive emotions to overcome negative ones.

I know I would have felt more comfortable talking to my parents about my emotions if I had this book as a child, and I hope my children feel the same. Congratulations, Laura!

And a big thank you to Cory Cole for the beautiful illustrations for this project, her third children’s book!

About the Book

Whenever Maddie sees other kids, she always wants what they have: presents, toys, ice cream, candy! This big FEELING comes over her and she doesn’t like it. It makes her say things like, “I want that!” What is that feeling and why does it make her feel so yucky? It’s JEALOUSY and it can only be conquered with GRATITUDE and KINDNESS. Learn with Maddie as she identifies and deals with her big emotions.

Follow Laura

Follow Cory

cursive handwriting

Dear Body:

Where do I start? I haven’t always been good to you and for that, I’m sorry. I have even taken you for granted at times. I have put crap in you and still expected you to function. I have pushed you beyond your limits and cursed you when you fail me. I have neglected the signs of damage. We’re not in bad shape, don’t get me wrong. It could be much worse. And we’re still here.

COMING SOON! Frank the Fish Finds a Friend

Meet Phoebe! In this second book about a plucky betta fish, Frank meets Phoebe, a shy but curious mystery snail. Frank and Phoebe take the time to learn about each other and, in the process, discover the importance of acceptance and the true meaning of friendship.

One of the things I love about this book is the beautiful imagery created with different angles and viewpoints inside and outside of Frank’s tank. I also love the many faces of Frank in this book. His personality shows more and more through his facial expressions and body language. Another thing I love is that like the first book, Frank the Fish Finds a Friend is based on a true story and a portion of all proceeds will be donated to a non-profit organization supporting friendship.

But most of all, I love the message. This book is a wonderful tribute to friendship, acceptance, trust, sharing, and humility. I try to teach my own children about friendship and while there are many books, shows, and movies about friendship, once again, Frank’s unique perspective gives the reader insight into both the complexity and simplicity of friendship.

The second book in a series is infinitely more challenging than the first. It’s important to maintain consistency in the characters and the world that’s been created. I am grateful to Sarah Burnett-Murray and Cory Cole for pouring their blood, sweat, and tears (of joy) into this project! Congratulations on this second publication!

set of coloring pencils forming heart

Love is all you need.

I have been struggling with anger for some time now. I get frustrated easily and sometimes overreact to small-ish things. I thought part of it was post-concussion syndrome, and perhaps that is still a factor. I also have anxiety and sometimes my anxiety comes out as anger. I have been trying to figure this out, not for myself, but because I don’t want to set that example for my daughters. I am trying to teach them to manage their emotions, but in truth I’m still learning to manage my own.

a field of round hay bales at sunset

Thank You to Paramedics Everywhere

One of my favourite scenes in the summer is the hay fields, with their bails (round or square, it doesn’t matter) all spread out in neat rows. It’s picturesque and beautiful and reminds me of my country upbringing. I have had seasonal allergies, or “hay fever”, since I was young and have taken some form of medication nearly every year from about May to October. The exception to that was when I was vegan–I didn’t seem to suffer from pollen enough during that time to warrant medication, which is interesting. Growing up, I had many friends with farms. I used to help with haying and would sneeze, itch, and get hives, but it didn’t really stop me from doing much. It was manageable.

COMING SOON! A Brush With Reality

I am pleased to announce a second fiction title for Twin Horseshoes, A Brush With Reality by Roger Sheehy! Roger is a self-proclaimed Renaissance man and I can attest to this claim. He brews his own beer, does woodworking, writes, travels, cooks, barbeques, and is in the process of learning Portuguese. Roger has a vivid imagination and a great sense of humour.

A Brush With Reality is his first published novel, but he has others in development. He also has a collection of writing on his website: Roger’s Rhapsody – The Journey of a Renaissance Man (

It is difficult to describe this book without giving too much away. I was intrigued by the idea from the first time Roger and I spoke. We’ve spent a significant amount of time with beta reviewers and fine tuning the story. There’s even some material that has been excluded from the book, but may appear in a spin off! What I will say is that this book has full and interesting characters, an detailed plot, and includes evidence of Roger’s wide body of knowledge from his life experience. All of this combined creates a page turner with a unique flavour. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys a little bit of mystery and a great deal of creativity. Congratulations, Roger!

About the Book

An ancient curse or a family legacy? A scourge or a gift? What is that old saying…be careful what you wish for?

Things are rarely what they seem. Sean didn’t care. He just wanted a simple life, a normal life. He wanted his family back. Somewhere off the coast of Somalia, he made his decision. It was time to stop running, go home, and set things right. And when survival is on the line, a curse becomes a gift. But some things do not like to be ignored and a price must be paid.

There is a fine line between self-defense and excessive force, between justice and revenge. When you realize the power you have, do you choose to use it…or not?

Praise for A Brush With Reality

“Sean is running away from a secret. Roger Sheehy masterfully develops Sean, a relatable and interesting character, over this page-turner of a book. At the beginning, the author seems to be telling a simple but engaging story. We follow Sean’s adventures around the world, through New England and the Southeast, to the beaches of Mexico, and the Red Sea off the Somali coast. Along the way, Sean meets interesting and caring characters and develops lasting friendships and memories during his journey.

Eventually, Sean decides to return back to his family and to face his guilt and reveal his dark secret. But Sean’s secret has a twist. For the next several chapters, we find ourselves suspended between belief and disbelief. At this point, it was extremely hard to put the book down. The author continues to grab our attention until the last page. A Brush with Reality’s plot is really gripping. A joy to read, highly recommended. Five-star rating!”

– Mohamad Hindawi

“Sean has a tale to tell. One that, in Roger Sheehy’s debut, takes the reader along a path of discovery and disbelief, tragedy and humor, and with exquisite attention to detail that puts the reader in the moment. I had to laugh at Sean’s remedy to boarding Somalian pirates, but I also felt as I was there. At its base, the story is a classic tale of reward/payment due, and Sheehy even makes light of the manner in his work, but it is the character development that drives the reader to turn each page well past the time of normal sleep. Jumping in immediately with a grab-you hook, Sheehy then jumps to introducing the protagonist Sean in a classic yet ‘horrifying’ familial manner while hinting that Sean has a secret. A secret that even Sean doesn’t know in its entirety. And one that takes its pound of flesh when used. But power corrupts.

A page turner that is easy to read, the author obviously knowledgeable in his details, with an interesting protagonist and dark secret, I found Roger Sheehy’s A Brush with Reality to be a quality read and an author that I will definitely add to my list of must follow authors.”

– R. Robison

“Just finished A Brush With Reality from Roger Sheehy. This book is an easy-flowing page turner, perfect for a lazy Sunday by the beach, or curled up by a fire. Roger strings the past and present narratives together without overcomplication, and weaves them together into an imaginative story that subtly pulls you into its premise and locks you in. Balancing between playful and sobering moments, with characters to match, this tale will hold your attention from beginning to end. A Brush With Reality is a refreshing respite from the actual reality of our day-to-day world, and I highly recommend it for the reader in search of something ‘a little different’ for their collection.”

– Carl Scarborough, Blogger, Speaker, Cranky Old Man 

“Roger Sheehy’s novel, A Brush with Reality, is an intriguing story about a young man named Sean who is running from the secrets of his past.

The story is filled with rich detail that brings the reader into Sean’s world from the very first page. A wonderful first novel, and I look forward to many more titles from this author!”

– Angelica Shaw

room with 7 white doors to choose from

What’s the Difference?

One of the things that I always tell the authors I work with is that print on demand has changed the self-publishing landscape. Previously, self-published authors had to source a printer, negotiate a contract, purchase hundreds (if not thousands) of books, and store and ship the books themselves. Instead, print on demand is when book copies are printed only as they are ordered, in the specified quantity, and shipped directly to the customer from the printer. For a relatively small piece of the royalty pie, self-publishing companies handle the orders, printing, and shipping and you get representation on their website. But, there is no huge up-front fee to buy thousands of books and no warehouse necessary.

COMING SOON! The Ember Stone

I have known Shari Marshall since grade six. We both loved reading and writing from a young age. For that reason, this announcement is a special one. I am honoured to help Shari publish and launch her first novel, hopefully one of many! What I will say about this book, first and foremost, is that I’m amazed at the creativity and imagination produced from Shari’s mind. I know her well, but the world and characters she has created are truly incredible. A reader knows the mark of a good book when they don’t want it to be over.

Luckily, The Ember Stone is just the first book in a series called The Ember Files. I was drawn to several elements in this urban fantasy novel. The characters come to mind first, the depth involved in each one, but also the relationships between them. They seem to have special bonds that make you want to be part of the group. Books with magic always appeal to me and this one has it in abundance. It’s magic that makes logical sense though, it’s believable, almost natural. Finally, there are broader themes of good and evil, of right and wrong, of then and now. These themes help the reader make sense of a world that isn’t entirely familiar, but is intriguing in its own way.

The Ember Stone is an engaging read that sucks you in–don’t be surprised if you are still turning pages at three in the morning. There are plenty of surprises, lots of action, a healthy dose of drama, and much more to come!

Read the advanced reviews below…

“I was privileged to be offered an advanced reading of The Ember Stone, an urban fantasy book featuring shapeshifters with magical abilities and other supernatural characters. Being an avid reader and having read several other authors with books in this, and similar genres, I eagerly accepted Shari’s offer.

The Ember Stone opens with the main character Kori Ember. She is a complex female lead who over the course of the book gradually discovers and embraces her magical abilities and her importance in the supernatural world while she searches for her sister. Shari takes her time to thoroughly develop and bring the characters to life, their unique shapeshifting abilities, and their differing magical powers. The pace of the plot at first appeared to be slower with all the character development, but I quickly found this allowed me to create deeper connections with many of the secondary characters. Some of my favourites became Kori’s witty and sarcastic friend Fin, the mysterious and brooding Alaric who becomes Kori’s mentor in all things magical, Grama Pearle’s comedic, sidekick-friend Birdie, and, lastly, Belamey one of the perceived enemies. Shari had me utterly absorbed in guessing at all the characters’ supernatural abilities and their various roles in the ever-evolving magical world as the plot unfolded and the supernatural political issues begin to reveal themselves.

There is just the right amount of comedic relief set sporadically throughout the book including some penile humour, that does not come off as crass but instead provides a good belly laugh at just the right moments. In addition, Shari does a good job of maintaining the tension and pace of the book, so as a reader you quickly turn pages to uncover the mysteries she threads throughout the plot. I found her subtle development of key relationships between the characters kept me guessing for signs of a heated romance. I was delightfully entertained with the dynamic and spectacularly explosive action scenes, the unravelling plot twists, and the introduction to the various shapeshifters. Shari has created something truly unique. The end of the book foreshadows the possibility of a series with Kori which I look forward to visiting.

Shari captures a magical world interwoven within our own reality, a reality that is deeply imagined and utterly absorbing. I can not wait to return.”

Lianne Bilodeau, Avid Reader, Mother of Four, and Police Officer

“I was fortunate enough to be in the same virtual room when Shari Marshall announced she was looking for people to complete advanced reads of her debut novel, The Ember Stone.

Kori Ember is a conflicted young woman. She’s looking for her place in the world and has moved away as a rejection of a large part of her family heritage and history – the world of urban magic. She knew it to be a potentially dark side of life and preferred to live some undefined but normal existence.

Her path was less than satisfying and she was not finding a place of comfort when she heard that a group back home, active practitioners in both magic and of taking from others what they wanted for themselves, had decided that she, Kori Ember, had something they wanted, something powerful. They wanted it badly enough to take her family hostage and thus drew Kori into a fight she had not asked for but, with her young sibling and parents in danger, was resolved to finish.

For all her strengths, Kori had rejected what should have been her best weapon, her heritage, and innate skills in using magic.

The story unfolds as she worries about who she can trust, what magical tools are at her disposal, who her enemies are, and ultimately, what her comfortable place in life might look like.

Shari employs a unique voice to bring the reader into the room with Kori as she works through the challenge. There are surprises and humor and vivid imagery on every page as Kori learns quickly how to mount a rescue and fight the battle coming her way.

This was one fun read and I applaud Shari for such an engaging first novel.”

Gary A. Wilson, Gary A Wilson Stories

two newborn babies in swaddle blankets, twins

Mom’s the Word

Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate our own mothers and all they do for us. I am close with my mom and she deserves to be celebrated every day. I always say that she sets the bar high, as a person and as a mother. But it’s also a day to celebrate the other women in our lives who might be mothers, aunts (real and chosen), grandmothers, friends, or otherwise. These are the women that form the village helping to care for and raise our children. I am grateful for all the strong female role models that my daughters have in their lives.

unrecognizable climber ascending climbing wall during practice

Literally Climbing the Walls

I used to do a fair amount of indoor rock climbing when I was in university. In fact, that was one of the reasons I chose Guelph–they had an indoor rock climbing facility on campus. When I attended, they had converted two squash courts in the basement of the athletic centre into climbing space. Even after university, I continued to climb when I could. It was more difficult because there really wasn’t anywhere close. Then I had kids. And even though you’re supposed to somehow find time for your kids, work, and self care, my adult interests were shelved for a time.