Books I Grew up on with Bailey Gumm – Miss Nevada

Books I Grew up on is a blog series featuring guest bloggers who discuss reading in their childhoods: the books they loved, the paths they found to developing a love for reading, and how reading helped them become who they are today! Today’s Books I Grew up on guest is Miss Nevada 2016, Bailey Gumm. 

img_1604Where did you grow up? What was it like growing up there?

I was born and raised in Minden, Nevada. Minden is a small town known as the heart of the Carson Valley which is located in northern Nevada. Minden had a huge influence in my upbringing. Being from a town of about 3,000 people creates a close knit community.

What role did books have in your childhood?

Both of my parents are teachers and from an early age they instilled in me the importance of reading. Not only did they encourage me to read because it is a valuable skill, but they encouraged me to find joy in reading by reading books that were of interest to me. My grandparents would take me to the library to pick out books and attend read alongs, every night my dad and I would read part of the Harry Potter book series together, and when the book fair came to school my mom would walk me around and let me pick out the new Junie B. Jones book (that was one of my favorite series).

img_1605How did you first develop a love for reading?

My grandma would read to me when I was a baby. Between my parents and grandparents I learned to love reading really quick. I had my favorite books that I would read over and over again, or ask my parents to read to me.

What was your favorite book as a child?

  • Goodnight Moon
  • Those Terrible Town Breakers
  • Amelia Bedelia books
  • Magic Tree House series
  • Junie B. Jones series
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events series
  • Harry Potter series









What is your favorite book now?

Any Robert Munsch book.  We Share Everything is one of my all-time favorite books for children!

What advice would you give to young readers?

  1. Be involved in the book choosing process. Pick out books that look interesting to you.
  2. Reread your favorite books while mixing in new ones.
  3. Never lose the joy of reading.


My community service platform is ‘Autism through a different Lens’ promoting autism acceptance. I am working with state and national organizations to being acceptance to the autistic community through sibling advocacy. Currently I am traveling the state of Nevada attending fundraising events, speaking to schools, promoting my platform, and encouraging young women to get involved in competing in our Miss Nevada Scholarship Organization.


Books I Grew up on with Steve Guscott

Books I Grew up on is a blog series featuring guest bloggers who discuss reading in their childhoods: the books they loved, the paths they found to developing a love for reading, and how reading helped them become who they are today! Today’s Books I Grew up on guest blogger is UK-based science fiction and fantasy writer, Steven Guscott. 

Author picHi! My name is Steven. I’m thankful to Thunderstone Books for inviting me to write a little bit about the books that I loved when I was younger.

There are a few stories/series that came to my mind straight away when thinking about my childhood and what books had an impact on me. They are The Puddle Lane series, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Horrible History series. I do remember some story-tape books (younger people, you might have to internet search what ‘story-tapes’ were) to do with classical music, and there’s also one series of books I think is for younger teens and younger children called The Edge Chronicles.

I don’t remember much about the Puddle Lane series except it had a wizard and a cat, and perhaps a dragon in it. What I do remember is that I loved having them read to me. I have little doubt that the reason I enjoyed these books was because they were weird and magical. Anything like that captures my imagination and in time my love for stories that are unique and magical would grow and grow.

I also remember being at my lower school, aged about six/seven, and when we had reading time I would find a bean bag in the painted castle part of the library and often choose a Horrible History book by Terry Deary. My favourite was Dark Knights and Dingy Castles; I certainly had an affinity for knights and castles.

In my young teens I read the first of the edge chronicles, Beyond the Deepwoods, by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell. This story really captured my love of the unique and creative. I then went on to read a few others of the series before my reading tastes moved on to the likes of Sabriel by Garth Nix, The Black Magician Trilogy by Trudi Canavan, and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien.

Those are all the main stories I actually remember from my early childhood, but in truth I did spend more time making things or playing football. It wasn’t until my mid teens I really came to appreciate a good story.

P.S. I wish I had had the Gruffalo as a child, now that is an incredible children’s story.



As Steven has said, he loves unique stories and favours fantasy and science fiction. He especially loves stories that have characters he can learn things from or relate to. The first time he really found the value of such characters was in his last year at High School when his English Class studied Shakespeare’s, Hamlet.

Steven also likes to spend time with his family and friends, draw, and keep fit when he can. Under the name of Steven J. Guscott, he also writes stories. He has published two books with Kristell Ink:  The Book of Prophecy and The Diary of Frankenstein. Check out Steven’s website to learn more!

CoverBoP Cover

Challenging Stigmas with Deborah Malcolm

Today’s blog post comes from Deborah Malcolm, author/illustrator of Meh, a wordless picture book about depression. Deborah gives us an inside look into her experience presenting at Edinburgh Book Festival about challenging stigmas.



Ticket to Deborah’s event (Photo credit Laura Malone)


I believe it was close to the end of last year that I received the news that I had been invited to speak at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016. As a somewhat unknown novice author/illustrator, being invited to present at such a well renowned festival was both a great honor and fantastic opportunity for me. In a sense, it was as if the journey of Meh had come full circle. It was at this very festival that I was initially inspired to create a picture book (by my favorite author Neil Gaiman) and now it was my turn to potentially inspire others.



I felt fairly confident of how I imagined the event would be structured as I had experience of telling the story of Meh to the public before. The most important points I wanted to cover were why I created the book, why I felt it was important to talk about mental health from a young age and also why I believed picture books were a useful tool to encourage this kind of discussion. In previous presentations I had used PowerPoint to share images of initial sketches and concept development, and felt using this technique again would be beneficial in getting my ideas across to the audience. In June I received the official festival programme in the post, and suddenly reality kicked in. I had a very important event to prepare myself for, and I desperately wanted it to be a success.announcement

Thankfully I was not alone in this journey. I always had the support of ThunderStone Books whenever I needed advice or reassurance, and the appointed chairperson for my event, Cat Anderson, quickly got in touch to go over the finer details. However it was during this time that I had discovered a potential problem. I hadn’t specified in my event information form that I would need a projector, screen and computer so that I could show a PowerPoint presentation. This resulted in my event being scheduled in a room where it wasn’t possible to use these pieces of equipment. Of course at the time I became very anxious, but over time I realized this wasn’t as big an issue as I felt it was. I had presented without the aid of computers and projectors before. I just had to revise my preparations a little to compensate. Cat and I decided that an informal discussion between us on stage (whilst covering the key points I mentioned) along with some audience participation would be the best solution.

Deborah at the Author’s Yurt (Photo credit Marcus Buchanan)




The Event
Finally the day of my event arrived, and I was eager to have it be over and done with. Although excited and delighted for having this opportunity, I had been so stressed about the event that I was exhausted before I had even done anything. This stress seemed to dissipate somewhat as soon as I entered the Author’s Yurt (a place for authors to relax and prepare). Cat and I sat and made final preparations whilst finding out a little more about each other.





Deborah and Jonny Duddle (Photo credit Marcus Buchanan)

As we waited I was introduced to the glorious author/illustrator Jonny Duddle (the man behind J.K. Rowling’s latest Harry Potter book cover illustrations). He wished me luck and congratulated me on my work before taking off for his own event. Cat then introduced me to author/illustrator Chris Riddell (who’s work I know from his illustrations for some of Neil Gaiman’s books, such as Fortunately, The Milk and The Sleeper and The Spindle). I was thrilled to hear that he remembered Meh from when I showed it to him at a signing the year before. He mentioned that I appeared incredibly calm, and also congratulated me on my achievements. Unfortunately our chat was brief as he was quickly whisked away for press shots, but I was very grateful for his kind words. Soon it was my turn to be escorted from the Author’s Yurt to the Writer’s Retreat where an audience waited for my event to begin.



Balloons and negative thoughts (Photo credit Laura Malone)


The story of “Meh” (Photo credit Laura Malone)










The Writer’s Retreat was a long red room that had glass doors to allow natural light in. This was perfect as the weather was lovely outside, but it also gave me other areas to occasionally glance to when I felt looking at the audience a little overwhelming. There were moments of distraction when children outside tried to open the doors to get in, but it wasn’t anything to stay concerned about. Cat guided the conversation with questions influenced by things I said and we ended the event with everyone blowing up balloons with their “negative thoughts” and releasing them into the air (and also creating an amusing noise).



Signing copies of “Meh” (Photo credit Laura Malone)

The event was received well, and people in the audience had many questions and ideas to discuss. We then moved to the children’s book store where I signed a bundle of copies of Meh and had more time to have one on one discussions with some of the audience members. (I would also like to mention I was signing next to Axel Scheffler who has illustrated many of Julia Donaldson’s books, such as The Gruffalo, which was very exciting!). As soon as the book signing was over, so was my time at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. After a quick break back at the Author’s Yurt I reluctantly made my leave and travelled back home feeling relieved, exhausted, proud, a little sad, but most of all thankful for the experience.

I would like to thank the Edinburgh International Book Festival for the fantastic opportunity, to Cat Anderson who really helped me feel at ease and provided a lot of support throughout the event, to everyone who attended and purchased a book, to my friends and family who also showed a lot of love and support, and of course to ThunderStone Books who have been a fantastic publisher and without them this opportunity would not have been possible.


Interested in reading Deborah’s book? Buy a beautiful special, limited edition copy of Meh today!

Books I Grew up on with Megan Gneiting

Books I Grew up on is a blog series featuring guest bloggers who discuss reading in their childhoods: the books they loved, the paths they found to developing a love for reading, and how reading helped them become who they are today! To start off the Books I Grew up on series is Las Vegas photographer, Megan Gneiting. 

IMG_9731 (2) copyWhere did you grow up? What was it like growing up there?
Having been born and raised in Las Vegas, I can honestly say that I love this city! When I was a child, my parents were always questioned as to how they could effectively raise children in a place known for its many vices. Their answer is the same as mine, seeing as now I am a mother in Las Vegas: everything is black and white here and there isn’t much gray area. The good and the bad are very obvious. I think because I was exposed to both extremes, I was inspired from a young age to seek out the good things in the world. Come to find out there is a lot of good to be found in Las Vegas communities!

How did you first develop a love for reading?
My grandma lived right around the corner from my family, and she taught us how to read at a local elementary school. She had a huge collection and especially loved “pop-up” books of which she had many. I used to love going to her house and seeing what books she would read to me that day. When I began Kindergarten and started reading, my grandma really helped me learn to read. She taught me quickly and really pushed me to develop my reading abilities. I attribute my love of reading to her, and I am so grateful to have inherited a small portion of her book collection to read to my daughter.

What role did books have in your childhood?
Reading was always a hobby my parents encouraged. I remember one year for Christmas my parents gave me the entire Nancy Drew collection. Throughout the year my dad would read to me every night before bed. Before next Christmas came, we had finished the entire series. Being able to say I had read an entire series instilled a lot of confidence in me and and inspired me to read other book series!

What was your favorite book as a child?
My favorite book as a child was The Doll People by Ann M. Martin. The book is all about toys that come alive at night and have crazy adventures all over the house. It stretched my imagination and was completely magical to me. I read it several times and I can’t wait to read it to my daughter.

What is your favorite book now?
My daughter is almost 1 so our reading is very light, but I especially enjoy the Sandra Boynton books.

What advice would you give to young readers?
Find your local library and join their reading programs! They can help you set goals and recommend different kinds of books you may not choose on your own. It’s a good way to motivate yourself to read and you never know what you might discover. Also, they might have some fun prizes!


Megan Gneiting is a photographer based in Las Vegas. She takes professional photos for all occasions – family pictures, engagement photos, wedding pictures, senior pictures, and more – but her latest project is in photographing “Home Life Sessions”. Home Life Sessions allow for un-posed pictures of your family life to capture all those little moments, from reading books to to playing together, that make your family special. Check out Megan’s blog to learn more about it!


Small vs Large Publishers: The Upsides and Downsides


How do you know if you should submit your manuscript to a small publisher or a large publisher? Here is a list of upsides and downsides for both to help you make the right decision for you and your manuscript.



Small publishers are more personal. They have fewer members of staff and publish fewer books each year than large publishers do. Typically because small publishers publish fewer books each year than larger publishers do, small publishers are very invested in each book.

Small publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. This is not true of all small publishers, but generally, small publishers are more likely to accept unsolicited manuscript. An unsolicited manuscript is a manuscript that does not have an agent attached to it. This means that it is often a much simpler process for authors to submit books to small publishers because the authors do not need to find an agent first.

Small publishers are more flexible and willing to try new things. The great thing about being small is that it takes less effort to move, to change, to shake things up. Large publishers are complex with infrastructure and many balls to juggle, so it becomes much more difficult for a large publisher to try new things.

Small publishers give higher royalty rates. Again, this is not true of all small publishers, but without the huge infrastructure and overhead costs, coupled with a more personal relationship with the author, small publishers are often able to give higher royalty rates to authors than large publishers can.

Small publishers continue to market and promote your book, even after it has been out for a year. It is common with large publishers to push hard for the first year and then let a book slip away into oblivion. Small publishers are much more likely to take on a book and keep promoting it.



Small publishers have limited resources. With fewer staff members and books published each year than the large publishers, small publishers are stretched thin. The main downside for authors in this regard is that small publishers do not have the money to spend on marketing that a large publisher would.



Hello_my_name_is_stickerLarge publishers have large marketing budgets and specialized staff. The biggest reason that going with a big publisher could be beneficial to you is that large publishers have large marketing budgets and specialized marketing and rights-selling staff. Smaller publisher often do not have designated marketing and rights departments, and they certainly do not have the same kind of cash that a large publisher would have to market your book upfront.

Large publishers are big names. There is something to be said for being able to tell your friends that you signed a book deal with Simon and Schuster. However, you have to discover for yourself just how important a big name is to you.

Large publishers can offer larger advances. While a small publisher is more likely to give higher royalties, the author advance (money you get up front) is higher with a large publisher.



Large publishers are not as ‘author-friendly’. What I mean by ‘author-friendly’ is that large publishers are not as personal with their authors, everything is done through an agent, and often large publishers are more about getting to business and less about making sure the author is getting something out of the relationship too.


In the end, as you decide whether to go with a small or large publisher, you need to consider what your goals are with your book. How important to you is the environment and closeness to your editor? How important to you is having a big marketing budget? How important to you is having the publisher be a big name that all your friends would know? How important to you is having a literary agent? How important to you is having more ownership (and possibly royalties) for your book? These are the questions that, once answered, will determine which publisher size is right for you.

Mental Health Awareness Week – Relationships

A post from Deborah Malcom, author of Meh.

Disclaimer – I am not a mental health professional. This blog is based on personal experience, and not to be taken as medical advice.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, with this year’s theme focusing on relationships.  I decided I would write about my own thoughts and experience building and maintaining relationships between friends whilst suffering from long-term poor mental health.

Marcus and I (2)

For as long as I can remember I have suffered from social anxiety.  This has made it difficult for me to make and maintain strong friendships. There is a constant fear in my mind that friends that I make will soon realise how “boring” and “stupid” I am, and will do everything in their power to avoid me.  Even after socialising with friends I will quickly convince myself that I said something wrong, or acted awkwardly, and that those friends (who were more than happy to be in my presence) now despise me.


katy and I (2)Since I can’t rely on believing that just being myself is enough to retain friendships, I sometimes buy small gifts for them.  I understand that material goods are not the way to making and keeping friends, but when your mind tells you that you need to if you want people to like you, then you do it.  (If you have ever received random gifts from me, it’s my way of saying I really like you and enjoy your company!).  Of course, the positive feeling from random acts of kindness can only go so far if you don’t treat yourself as kindly as you do others.

This anxiety grows, and I begin to believe that sending a short text message or a message on social media will be an inconvenience to them; that I’ll appear desperate for their attention. So more often than not, I leave it to them to initiate conversation. You can probably imagine how well that decision goes…

Martin and I (2)


Every relationship is a two-way commitment. Most of the time it’s fairly straightforward, but when one or both of them have issues with their mental health it becomes a daily struggle.  Talking about how you feel is incredibly difficult, especially if you feel that revealing your problems will only burden those you care for. However in my experience it is far better to try than to keep your worries to yourself. You don’t have to announce it to the world, just to those you feel you can trust. In turn they may come to you when they are in need of someone to talk to, showing their trust in you.



Laura(sis),Kate(mum) and I-1 (2)Although I can’t provide any advice on how to maintain healthy relationships, I can make a “resolution” on what I feel may improve my own. My Relationships Resolution is to build on my current friendships by initiating conversations, arranging days to socialise and not to shy away when I’m invited out by others.


What’s your Relationship Resolution? You can make your “pledge” on the Mental Health Foundation website.





chemystery cover small


What if two kids became superheroes and set out to save the world through chemistry? In a new exciting and educational graphic novel from ThunderStone Books, two kids do just that!

ThunderStone Books is proud to officially announce that in March 2017, CheMystery, the tale of science and superpowers, will be hitting the shelves.

Today we welcome author, Christopher Preece, who is going to introduce himself CheMystery, his upcoming graphic novel.



I hail from the foothills of Appalachia in Pilgrim, KY. I have an extensive background in chemistry with a B.S. from Morehead State University and many graduate chemistry credits from the University of Kentucky, where I will be continuing my education to obtain a Ph.D. in Science Education. I have been teaching high school chemistry for the past 5 years, which has been a blast, literally and figuratively. I enjoy reading comic books, traveling and eating. We all have to eat, why not make it an adventure? I love all things science, especially physical science and applying those concepts in different ways to educate others.

How did you get the idea for CheMystery?

The idea for a comic that teaches chemistry started to manifest after reading 3 comics: Solar: Man of the Atom by Jim Shooter (Dark Horse series), Suspended Language by Jim Ottaviani, Howtoons by Fred Van Lente and Think Tank by Matt Hawkins. I read all of these around the same time and each contributed a little more to the idea of a chemistry comic to teach being a possibility. Each contributed a unique idea to the melting pot from how to present heavy educational materials along side a narrative to how to integrate it into a narrative.

Do you have a favorite element?

Yes, 2 in fact. Mercury (Hg), which I did my graduate research on how to remediate it from coal burning power plants. How cool is it that it’s the ONLY liquid metal? Antimony (Sb) is the other favorite. Initially it was my favorite because of the obscure name and name and symbol mismatch but it has a lot of interesting chemistry and uses, like in cosmetics to provide luster!

What first got you interested in comics and graphic novels?

My uncle, Dan, was in the comic industry while I was growing up and his love of the medium spilled over to me. My passion for the medium has continued to evolve into incorporate my passion for science education. Firestorm is one of my favorite characters and his ability to transmutate matter always fascinated me.

Why do you love science, especially chemistry?

As a high school student I gravitated toward chemistry. The concept of atoms and subatomic particles really captivated me. To think that we are made of trillions upon trillions of atoms, and that a single one is invisible to the naked eye, is wild. To think that electrons orbit the atom and move to make light is intriguing and to think about how an electron is both a particle and a wave is mind-blowing. There are so many things in our world that are unknown and science helps us explain those things.

What comic books and graphic novels would you recommend for science lovers?

There are more out there than you would think!

Jim Ottaviani has written several great science graphic novels, which take us through the lives of great scientists like Neil Bohr. Suspended Language is my favorite, but all his books are very enjoyable.

Think Tank by Matt Hawkins, which has a science section in the back explaining all the science he researches and uses in his book.

Howtoons by Fred Van Lente. This is a comic geared toward engineering. It has a captivating narrative and shows how to make cool contraptions that are used in the story.

Most things that captivate me I discuss on my blog.

What are your favorite comic books and graphic novels?

As for non-science comics some of my favorites include: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW), Princess Ugg (Oni Press), Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press), Solar: Man of the Atom (Dark Horse), Captain America by Ed Brubaker (Marvel), Inhumans by Paul Jenkins (Marvel), Firestorm by Gerry Conway (DC) and Legion of Superheroes by Mark Waid (DC).


Chemystery page 3Chemystery page 2Chemystery page 1


Thanks, Chris, for introducing yourself and your upcoming book! You can look out for CheMystery, coming March 2017. Check out more at his website!

The Inspiration for Elements of Evil

A blog post from the author of Elements of Evil.

Note from ThunderStone Books: The road that led to the publishing of Elements of Evil was paved from a young age by those who got us excited about science. These taught us that science is more than a class at school, it’s a way of looking at the world. Through authors like Brooke Arnold, Bill Nye and Ms. Frizzle not only live on but continue to reach and inspire new generations.


When people hear that I wrote and published a book, usually their first reaction is “Wow! Really?” followed by “What’s it about?” I get mixed reactions when they hear that it’s about a girl who wants to become a supervillain by using science. Most kids get a big grin on their face. Most adults do a double-take, usually accompanied by either an appreciative laugh or a quizzical smile. “Where on earth did that come from?” they seem to be asking. To me, it just makes sense.

Bill Nye

When I was little, even while I dreamed about becoming a “draw-er” or “professional horse rider,” I also loved watching shows like Bill Nye the Science Guy or The Magic School Bus and learning about how things work. I’ve always discovering the “how” and “why” about life, especially things that seemed particularly mysterious.

The curly hair and love for science are just a few of the things that Brooke and Ms Frizzle have in common!

I feel that way about books too–hand-waving should be used judiciously. You should always be able to explain why and how something happens. So when I grew up and decided to write a story about a child supervillain, I realized I had a challenge to overcome. Superheroes and supervillains aren’t “super” without an extra something to make them that way (like Dr. Horrible’s freeze ray or Superman’s x-ray vision). Rather than trying to create my own magic or use fake inventions, I realized I wanted my super-person to use something that already exists: real-life science. To a little girl like Bernice in my story, and to a grown-up girl like me, that was by far the most sensible thing. After all, the reality of life is as magical and powerful as anything imaginary.

Elements of Evil is available now from,, Barnes and Noble, or our website here!

The Meh App: A Visual Storybook

Meh, the beloved wordless picture book about depression by Deborah Malcolm, is the inspiration for a new app. Using the same boy and white cat characters in an interactive storybook, the app allows the user to become part of the story.


Screenshot_2015-11-04-18-29-42 (2)


The app, like the book, is particularly appropriate for children but can be engaging for all ages. Objects in the visual storybook light up and when users tap those objects, the boy moves through the story and sounds of scribbling, tweeting birds, and cat “meows” can be heard.


Screenshot_2015-11-04-18-32-17 (2)


The app allows for scrolling to move side to side or upwards with the boy and discover what is lying just around the corner.


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One of our favorite parts of the app is when cracks begin to appear in the boy’s gray world. By tapping on the white cat (who is getting bigger and bigger) the cracks appear more frequently, and make sounds of the gray world crumbling. Tapping on the cat repeatedly, with the cracks appearing more and more often, is an empowering feeling as the user helps the boy to find his strength and return to the colorful world.

The app was created by a team of talented developers and animators from the Computer Arts Programme at Abertay University, Dundee. The team consists of Ewan Duncan, Michael Philp, Alan Hunter, Stephen O’donnell, and David Ferguson. We owe thanks to this team, to Lynn Parker (Computer Arts Programme Tutor at University of Abertay Dundee), and as always to Deborah Malcolm, who created this beautiful story in the first place.


Download the app for free for Android and don’t forget to leave a review!


Elements of Evil Launches!



Brooke Arnold, author and scientist, announced Bernice and Bunsen to the world on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at Provo Library in Utah.







IMG_2028 IMG_2014











There were activities such as coloring, code-cracking, playing with oobleck and seeing the world through a microscope to entertain all the young scientists in attendance.



And don’t forget delicious veggies, “worms” and Bunsen cupcakes: food fit for a hedgehog!




Congratulations to Brooke on her brilliant debut, with many more Bernice and Bunsen adventures to come in the future.




You can get your own copy of Elements of Evil here.