CROCODILE FLINT is now on Snippet and MORE


While I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, I’d been too busy with other stuff behind-the-scenes to formally share here. My first e-publication, Crocodile Flint, is available on Snippet for $1.99 USD-

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Enjoy the OFFICIAL Trailer!

I hope to have another update on GABRIEL (my debut novel) in the coming weeks.

Speaking of Gabriel, you can now chat with him and his “frenemy” Rum (featured in my debut novel) via Twitter! (@GabrielandRum) so give them a shout-out.


That’s all for today. But we’re always active on Facebook, Twitter, Google=and of course our YouTube Channel!

“The Literary Rat” Taurean J. Watkins and “Writerpreneur” Katie Davis




As promised, T.A.A. fans, yesterday I did my first LIVE video interview with Katie Davis, in celebration of her expanded and updated ebook guide “How to Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller“, now available ONLY on Amazon, which you lit. rat HIGHLY recommends picking up! It’s already reached #1 status in “Marketing” category after only a few days on the market! See the reviews (many beyond mine), read a preview and judge for yourself.

You can watch the video via our YouTube channel, but you can also watch it here-

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Forgive my nervousness (in the video) there were tech issues on my end. I will do more “Hangouts on Air” and will work at being more natural and less nervous.

That’s it for today, but I’ll have more cool stuff planned for next week, in the meantime, I hope you’ll check out T.A.A’s YouTube channel for more fantastical fauna goodness. Have a great weekend, All!

How To Promote Your Children’s Book (Even BEFORE it’s Published!)


I know I’ve been a bit quiet on T.A.A. lately (As far as the blog goes) but I can now share why, and how it can help writers build platform before and after releasing your book, whether you do it the traditional way or take on the challenge and opportunities open to indie publishing-

I know that writers at all levels face the increasing challenge of building platform (I prefer “Community”) but unpublished, debut and emerging authors face unique challenges that more experienced authors don’t, or they have options to combat the challenges of today’s publishing landscape that only experience, luck, and some degree of success can provide.

Everything from building mailing lists, creating videos (NOT just book trailers people!), offering other services to diversify our skillset and help supplement our income,  engaging in social media, the list goes on…

While many writers today need to do more than just write their stories or articles, the fact is we can all to easily forget we are HUMAN and we JUST CAN’T DO IT ALL! Period. We also can’t always afford to take classes, go to conferences, and even our local library may not have the resources we need because nationwide budget cuts to public services like libraries cut deeper each year. The last time I went to library to check out some market guides (at a time when I couldn’t afford to buy my own copy as in years past) the most recent edition of CWIM (Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market) was 2007, and it was 2012 at the time!

I often have to buy my own market guides and other craft books I needed when they just weren’t in my library’s collection, even through inter library loan.

I’m not whining but stating a fair fact, and writers do each other no favors pointing fingers or making light of their struggles. What’s easy or straightforward for me is just plan HARDER for someone else, and vice versa.

The business of publishing on it’s own is more than hard enough to navigate. We don’t need fellow writers making it harder than needs to be. 

But one way to make it easier is to share the load, authors helping other authors band together.

For authors who’ve FINALLY turned that iconic corner to selling their first novel or nonfiction book, one way is by participating (and eventually FORMING) launch teams for soon to be published books

Some launch teams are formed around a , such as the “Class Y2K” initiative that began in 2007 and every year since that a diverse group of debut children’s/YA authors team up and combine their creativity, time, and some money, to make promoting that all important first book easier and less alone

Authors are also reaching out to other writers, either those releasing books around the same time, or asking potential readers/customers of their book to spread the word, send review copies (Be they PDF files or old-school paper ARCS [Advanced Reader Copies] or Galleys of the book pre-publication) and review it on Amazon, on their blog if they have one, and share the news on social media platforms like Goodreads, one of the most prominent ways authors can connect with avid readers, not just other writers, and this distinction is hazy at times, but important.

I’m taking part of a launch team for”How To Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks and Secrets to Create a Bestseller – 2nd Edition” an upcoming ebook guide by author Katie Davis, she’s written and illustrated 8 picture books, two novels (1 Middle Grade and her upcoming YA debut “Dancing with The Devil” which you can preview  now on Wattpad:, and let me tell you, she knows marketing backwards and forwards!

I received a review copy for this book and am working on the review to upload on Amazon and here on T.A.A. I can tell you right now, I’m ALREADY using many of the tips and resources from this book, but you’ll have to wait for my final review this Tuesday (3/25/14) to find out more.

The 1st edition of “How To Promote Your Children’s Book” (which released in 2012) had given many writers at all levels hope, and renowned former editor at Simon and Schuster, Emma Dryden, has given advance praise of the soon to be released 2nd edition, saying “EVERY WRITER should use this tool!”

But here’s the kicker for the writers out there, to celebrate the launch of the expanded, updated, 2nd edition. From 3/25/14-3/31/14, the second edition will be on SALE for $4.99 USD, HALF the price of the first edition, but THRICE the content, and if you send the sales receipt to (BEFORE 3/31/14!) you’ll receive a slew of bonuses to further super-charge and streamline your marketing efforts, pre and post publication. Finally, I’m also interviewing the author herself, Katie Davis live via Google+ Hangout on T.A.A.’s YouTube Channel, Thursday, March 27th, 2014, and you can get your marketing questions answered!

Even if you can’t make it live, just post your questions in the comments and Katie and I will get to as many as we can.But the deadline for submitting your questions is Sunday, March 23, 2014 BEFORE MIDNIGHT EST (Eastern Standard Time) I’ll share the easy access link info here at T.A.A. next week!

I hope to see some of you there, and if not, they’ll be a replay available on our YouTube channel. Please share this with your writer friends this weekend, they’ll thank you for it later, trust your lit. rat on this one! (~Wink~)

Weekly Readings IV


It’s been longer than I intended, but it’s time for another edition of Weekly Readings!

For those new here, Weekly Readings is when your lit. rat reviews picture books I’ve read here and there. While T.A.A. focuses on animal stories, we do give humans their due now and again, and one of the books this week does feature one, more on that later…


by Elizabeth Rose Stanton (@PenspaperStudio)

Publisher: Paula Wiseman Books (An Imprint of Simon & Schuster)

Pub. Date: January 7th, 2014

In the spirit of Dumbo and the works of Todd Parr, along comes Henny, a chicken born with unusually long arms and hand-like wings!

A great “Okay to be Different” story without getting hokey about it. 

While I often lament the minimalist movement in picture books these days, this book makes great use of minimalism in both words and illustrations. Zeroing in on our heroine and how she makes the most of her unique physique features!

The picture book answer to R.J. Palacio’s middle grade novel “Wonder” with a fantastical fauna twist!

Elizabeth Rose Stanton: This is a debut to be proud of. 


Here Comes the Easter Cat




Written by Deborah Underwood (@underwoodwriter )

Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

Publisher: Dial

Pub. Date: January 28, 2014

It seems dogs aren’t the only rivals for this cat given the title of the latest from author Deborah Underwood, best known for The Quiet Book” and it’s companion “The Loud Book.” Despite the dominance of cats on YouTube and elsewhere, the “Cat” of this story wants fame that’s beyond the confines of the internet. Cat wants the Easter Bunny’s job, even though its a high maintenance ordeal (the ending will further hammer this home, which I won’t spoil here)

As a dog lover through and through, I found this book charming in my self-made feline rehabilitation program. (That’s a whole other blog post so I won’t elaborate here!) 

The spare and charming illustrations by Claudia Rueda don’t get too cute beyond the expected, and provides warmth and substance to orchestrate this tale that’s simple to read, but HARD to pull off as the author, as a newbie in the picture book landscape from an author standpoint, trust me, it’s harder to pull off than it is to read in this stellar book!

One thing I get concerned with picture books is can the author branch out of the books that made them well known. I haven’t yet read Debroah’s earlier books (yes, I’m in kidlit, but I was mostly focused on novels until couple years ago) but I can say this book safely avoids the dreaded sophomore slump as far as I’m concerned. 

Like Mo Willems “Pigeon” series, this book has great kid-participation appeal and gives pre-readers the chance to “Be the Parent” as the narrator is written like you’re speaking directly to Cat, and he responds via facial expressions and holding up various signs (think Wile E. Coyote of Looney Tunes fame)

For those of you who’ve seen the “Maisy” animated television series (based on the books by Lucy Cousins) you’ll see a similar vibe here, and it just so happens Deborah plans to have future adventures of Cat, and this rat can’t wait (this is the post-mouser era, folks, at least for some of us…)


Easter may be some time off (At the time this review is being written) but it never hurts to plan ahead with seasonal titles.




Written by Jenny Offill 

Illustrated by Chris Appelhans

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade (An imprint of Random House Children’s Books)

Pub. Date: March 11, 2014

I promsied some human love at the start of this review merry-go-round, and now I can deliver, for while Sparky the sloth, his story would not be possible without the girl who ordered him by mail and gave him his name. Like many kids REALLY wanted a pet, but her (seemingly workaholic) mother insists it has to be low-maintenance, and on a trip to the library, she learns about sloths, a furry creature (that’s the basis for many of the “Bigfoot” legends, that’s just my personal theory) that meets all the criteria-

-Low Maintenance 

-Doesn’t Need to be Walked

-Can’t cause various mischief

(Which one neighbor in the book appreciates)


While Sparky can’t do what other pets do, his girl learns to see the best in him in ways no one else can. When you give a dog treats, they’ll eat them all, but with Sparky, you share a cookie, meaning he gets half, than you get the other half!

While first person narration is common in YA and some middle grade fiction, it’s RARE to see first person narrator in a picture book when most often the reader is an adult (or an older tween or teen sibling), but Jenny pulls it off with noticeable skill. Not only from a technical standpoint, but also sounds like the kid narrate this story.

The impressionistic, clay/watercolor hybrid illustrations by Chris Appelhans bring quirky warmth to the experience, and if this style seems familiar for some reason, it might be because Chris did work on “Coraline” the 2009 film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. 

Kids with nontraditional pets will get a kick out of Sparky, a sloth that despite being slower than turtles, and more sedate than your eccentric cousin thrice removed after Thanksgiving has more to offer than what the cover image above leads you believe. 

That’s it for Weekly Readings, check back next time!


NOTE FROM THE LITERARY RAT: If my ramblings convinced you to buy one or more of the books mentioned above, please support T.A.A. by clicking on the affiliate cover images above or links within the review.


World Book Day 2014 Twitter Chat Transcript




Yesterday was “World Book Day” and T.A.A. celebrated by bringing together some of our partners and letting them borrow the official T.A.A. Twitter feed (@TAA_Editor) for a Twitter chat.

If you missed the chat live, you can now read the transcript below-


ME: It’s Noon EST, and now #TheLiteraryRat Signs off and my special guests take over!


Swinebert: Yo Chicks ‘n Chickies! Dempsey and I will be the moderators for this special #WorldBookDay Twitter Chat on T.A.A.’s Twitter Feed.
Dempsey: Are the others here yet?

Swinebert: Bonnie and Guido just got here, Gabriel and Rum, too.

Dempsey: Okay, than let’s get started. First up, we’ll each share our most special book/reading memories. Who wants to go first?


Guido: I’ll start! My fave book/reading memory is when Graham (My master’s son) read me “Dominic” by William Steig. Dominic-Steig-William-9780374418267












Bonnie: My favorite book/reading memory is when Andrea  read me “Pippi Longstocking”









Swinebert: My turn! Swinebert: My best book/reading memory was the first time I read to me nephew, Trug, “Olivia”



Dempsey: My favorite book/reading memory was first discovering poetry by Emily Dickinson.






Swinebert: Last but far from least, Gabriel Crisping and Rum Wheatland (From @Taurean_Watkins’ GABRIEL) share their top book/reading moment.


Gabriel: I have two greatest book/reading memories…The first is reading “Martin’s Mice” by

24178Dick King-Smith. I wish more cats could be like Martin. The second was reading “Charlotte’s Web” with my Dad…Though I didn’t care for Templeton at first. No wonder humans have issues with rats if he’s the sole model they look to.

Rum: My favorite book/memory was reading the first “Redwall” to my sisters, because they always screamed at the scary parts. (They LIKED it)
Swinebert: Great picks, everyone, now we’ll move on to the next roundtable question: What’s everyone reading at the moment? Rum, why do you go first this time?
Rum: Right now I’m reading “Nightshade City” by Hilary Wagner.
Nightshade City (Nightshade Chronicles #1)
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the last one coming out soon!
Gabriel: I’m reading “Firmin: Adventures of a Metropolitan Lowlife” by Sam Savage.
ME: #TheLiteraryRat‘s interjecting a quick sec to say I just bought this recently can’t wait to read it. Carry on, guys, you’re doing great!
Bonnie: I’m reading “Comfort Food” by Kate Jacobs. Quite a story.
Guido: I’m reading “Wolf Story” by William McCleery.
Dempsey: I’m reading “Toes” by Tor Seidler.


Swinebert: As for me, I’m reading “Welcome to the Bed and Biscuit” by Joan Carris. Great picks again, everyone!
Now before we head to the next roundtable question, let’s chat about what we plan to read next.
Gabriel: I’m planning to read “Junkyard Planet” by Adam Minter. 
Rum: Next on my list is “Manhood for Amateurs” by Michael Chabon.












Dempsey: Next up for me is  

“The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

(Discworld #28) by Terry Pratchett.

4313522Bonnie: Next for me is “The School of Essential Ingredients”

 by Erica Bauermeister 

    Guido: My next read is “The Daring Adventures of Penhaligon Brush” by S. Jones Rogan.
Swinebert: As for me, I’m looking forward to
“Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson” by Mark Siegel.

The Pelican Chorus

Swinebert: Okay, now for the next roundtable question…What’s your favorite book to re-read? This time, I’ll start us off, mine is beyond doubt “The Pelican Chorus: and Other Nonsense” by Edward Lear.
Dempsey: For me, “Around the World in 80 Days” by Jules Verne.
Melrose and Croc (A Christmas to Remember
Guido: “Melrose and Croc: A Christmas to Remember” by Emma Chichester Clark. It reminds me of the day my master adopted me. (Whimpers)
Swinebert: You okay, Guido?
Guido: Yeah, just got a bit overcome there. It was a happy memory, you know?
Bonnie: I know what you mean, Guido, I remember Andrea adopted me several years ago. Other girls passed me by because I looked “Old.” Andrea was the first soul apart from my mother who said I was beautiful. We clicked instantly.
Anyway, my favorite book to re-read is “Oscar, Cat-About-Town” by James Herriot. Had I not met Andrea, I’d be a bit like Oscar.

Gabriel: My favorite book to re-read is “How to Save Your Tail” by Mary Hanson. How To Save Your Tail (Hardcover)



15799039Rum: “Hickory by Palmer Brown” because my sisters love my reading to them and it’s not too cutesy for me…

Swinebert: Way to dig deep, folks, especially you, Guido. Our next roundtable question is…If you could hang out with any literary character, who would it be and why?
51ZV5S69Z9LDempsey: For me, it’d be Martin from “Martian’s Mice” since neither of us care for eating mice and we’d be a great foster dad team.
Guido: I’m a bit torn. Part of me would want to spend time with Sam the Cat Detective…327702 (1)

But he might not tolerate a canine sidekick… So, I’d then go with #Clifford
Bonnie: I’d love to spend the day with the “Bed and Biscuit” crew. It’s clearly rarely boring there!
Gabriel: I’d love to spend the day with Montague Mad-Rat from
Tor Seidler’s “A Rat’s Tale” as we both like to work with our paws.

Rum: Not to mention you both have dames you’d do anything for.

Gabriel: Rum, please!
Rum: Hey, what’re you blushing for?
Gabriel: …Just go next, please…
Rum: Okay…well, I’d love to spend the day with Bingo and J’miah from “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp.” 
16074339 (1)
It’d be like having the adopted little brothers I never had for real. I love my sisters but I always wanted a brother.


Swinebert: For me, I’d have to say Piglet since he reminds me a lot of my nephew Trug, only Trug’s FAR less timid.
Swinebert: Okay, now for our next roundtable question…What book’s world would you most want to visit and why?
Dempsey: I’d visit the world of “Catwings” if I could get wings!
Swinebert: I’d go to the world of “Dragon Rider” if I got the chance to meet a dragon, either Firedrake or someone else, if he/she were nice.
Bonnie: I’d inhabit the world of Narnia if I could be friends with Lucy, she reminds me a lot of Andrea when she was little.

Guido: I’d go to the world of Doctor Doolittle and have him be my doctor so my human would finally know how I really feel without him guessing.
Gabriel: I’d go to the world of “Redwall” because they’d be swords my size to wield. 

Rum: Interesting choice coming from you. Well, like Bonnie, I’d go to Narnia, too. I’d be the big boss of a band of vigilante forest warriors.
Swinebert: Interesting choices, folks. Okay, on to the next roundtable question…Our last question is: What’s the one bit of advice you’d give to a literary character?
Bonnie: I’d advise Oscar from “Oscar, Cat-About-Town” to not give up finding a forever home too easily.
Rum: I’d tell Skilley from “The Cheshire Cheese Cat” by Carmen Agra Deedy, “We need more cats like you!” Cats who LOVE cheese and are willing to strike bargains with rodents…Like a feline “Pied Piper.” (WITHOUT sending rats or mice to a watery grave…)

9822Gabriel: I’d warn Jasper from “Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH” that he’s ruining a friendship with Nicodemus needlessly.

Gabriel: Given my own story, I’ve got personal experience on the matter…

Guido: Being co-host of an upcoming pet advice show, I’d advise the naughty cats from “Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation”-
Guido: Watch yourself! What humans overlook, we pets in the know will remember.
9780689829536Dempsey: I’d warn Oliva from “Olivia” to not tease Ian too much. Being a “Little Brother” myself, trust me when I say this…
Dempsey: Vengeance (like a boomerang) is Karma!
Swinebert: As for me, I’d just let Wilbur from “Charlotte’s Web” know that the day will come when some some humans see us as more than food. I’m glad my human does.
Swinebert: That’s it for roundtable questions, everyone had such great answers, but before we wrap things up…For those new to T.A.A. and have no idea who some of us are, we’ll share a bit about ourselves. We would’ve done intros first, but we wanted to dive right in. Anyway, I’m Swinebert, and my pal Dempsey and I star in our own show to debut on #TAAFM later this year-
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Guido: Bonnie and I also have a show on #TAAFM
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Bonnie: We hope pets (and their owners) send us questions that can be answered on the show. You can even tweet us your questions-
Gabriel: My friend (Or at the time, “Frenemy”) Rum and I in the upcoming release “GABRIEL” by Taurean J. Watkins (@Taurean_Watkins) You can learn more about me here-
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Rum: And me here-

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Gabriel: Thanks to Mr. Quint (my toymaking mentor) and @Taurean_Watkins for setting up our Facebook page and creating our book trailers.
Guido: Me and Bonnie also want to thank @TAA_Editor for letting us borrow T.A.A.’s Twitter account for this chat in honor of #WorldBookDay!
Swinebert: Dempsey and I third those thanks to @TAA_Editor (aka #TheLiteraryRat) and thanks to all of you who followed along with us! Well, this pig’s signing off, for Dempsey and all our guests today, goodbye and have a acorn-tastic day!