Author Spotlight C.L. Fails-LaunchCrate Publishing

Author Spotlight C.L. Fails-LaunchCrate Publishing

  1. Founder of LaunchCrate shares her story.

2. C.L Fails writes children’s, teen, and adult books.

3. C.L. Fails writes to honor her mother and family.

In a small university classroom, Cynthia and her mother sat through hours and hours of lectures together. She quietly pretended to take notes while her mother participated in the classroom discussions. Once class ended, she and her mom walked to the humming copy machine. Her mother made copies for class, and Cynthia made copies too. Following her mother’s shadow, off to the university’s library, they checked out books. At a young age, Cynthia witnessed her mother being an adult learner who later earned her Master’s Degree and then a Ph.D. “Superpowers” is what Cynthia described her mother as having.

Later she witnessed her mother as an educator and worked professionally. “It struck a chord, I watched how she rephrased things. Put the power back in her court and made people appropriate or inappropriate in how they said things. I was fortunate for this experience.”-C.L. Fails


C.L Fails and Mother

Today, Fails writes stories inspired from her mother’s aptitude, strength, and superpowers. Her mother’s superpowers are honored in her book series with a main character named Ella. Fails was an educator herself and is currently an author, editor, copywriter, publisher, business owner, podcaster, and illustrator. In most of the stories that she writes, she places parts of her own experiences or individuals that she knows in her books. For example, one can find elements of her niece in her Ella books as well.

Fails self-published her first book in 2012. She had a 5-month gap in between jobs to create her first story. She wrote, The Christmas Story, because it was a story that she needed at the time. “Having faith in something you cannot see yet; A Christmas cookie waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve,” Fails explained. This book is a stocking stuffer.

Self-publishing was the option because the service that she was using profited from her work but she was not compensated for the work that she did herself. She learned through this hurdle that self-publishing had more opportunities for her. Later on, she began to write more and started her full-time job again. Juggling 40 hours of full-time work and 40 hours of writing books for herself, and others, did not make sense in her mind. This is why she developed LaunchCrate.

“The goal with LaunchCrate is to create ripples of change throughout the publishing industry. Trying to flip the publishing where it favors creatives author or the illustrator. We want to make sure they are receiving fair compensation for their work.”-C.L. Fails

LaunchCrate publishes books for children and adult audiences. Fails publishes her work under her company and has released not one but two series. Ella is her first, and Raine the Brain is her second series for teen audiences. Raine the Brain is also based loosely on her brother for preteen audiences. Fails expressed that her books and LaunchCrate had community support from the beginning, “When people believe in you then they believe in your work,” Fails shared.

Ella was the first series of books that LaunchCrate published. “Superpowers-the stuff you have in you that you are starting to develop are powerful tools that can help you be whoever you become. I saw how she navigated the world as a black woman. They are superpowers we all have within us. But I got to observe the way she navigated life in general. I wanted to make sure I highlighted those areas.”

“My hope is that people can see us as agents of hope for the publishing industry.” C.L. Fails

Fails juggles so much but is creating change within the publishing industry. She wants creatives to know there are different paths to success, and they have other options now that we have different multimedia tools in her hands.

“You know this title will be a ripple in the seed that creates change.” C.L Fails

Fails shared that everything that she has done has led to where she is today. “The good stuff and not so good stuff. Me choosing to self-publish that first book. Had I not chosen the path that I chose, I would not have learned what I learned today. Everything that I have experienced has propelled me.”

Fails exhibits those same Superpowers her mother exhibited-strength, high aptitude, creativity, and more. “I want people to know there are other options that exist. You don’t have to follow the same models as the big 5. Just because things have been done one way for decades doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way. Growth is the way things continue to evolve for communities and nations.” Her company LaunchCrate is publishing creative’s work that plants the seeds of knowledge in different communities.

Click Here if you would like to connect with LaunchCrate.

Author Spotlight-María García Esperón

Author Spotlight-María García Esperón

 María García Esperón is a researcher, historian, and writer of ancient Greek mythology. Her inspiration for history also comes from her research and visits to the ancient city of Teotihuacan. As a young woman, she discovered stories about her ancestors by her nanita, grandmother. Her nanita orally told her about the way that her people lived and is a writer because of the stories that her grandmother told. Esperón shared that many people in Mexico tell their history through oral traditions.

Esperón described that she is, “an expert in Aztec art and also in the ancient culture of Teotihuacan. Teotihuacan is like the Egyptian Pyramid-a complete city. The name means where men are formed into gods.” For Mexico, Teotihuacan is important because it has preserved landforms of how the people lived before the Spanish arrival.

In her newest book, Esperón wrote stories about the experiences of native people from the Americas. Each story was orally told and is found in, The Sea-Ring World, Sacred Stories of the Americas are oral mythological stories told from ancient people and tribes. It is a mythological book for children. It was first published and written in Spanish, in 2017 but published in English in 2020.

My books are raising the mystery. It is the story of our road, pilgrimage.

Esperón is a steward of literature and knows that through stories you can discover stories of humanity, “Travel back in time through literature.”-María Esperón

Her work started when she met a Spanish poet-Aurelio Gonzalez Ovies -Latin professor in Asturias. They became close friends because they both share a love for Greek and Roman literature. María explained that, “We were in Spain presenting one of my books, Dido for Aeneas (Female character). Once we said our goodbyes, he said, “Why don’t we write a book of Greek & Roman myths books for children?”

The book that she wrote with Ovies was a success called Dictionary of Classical Myths.

Years later, on a beautiful day in September 2017, Esperón was writing a poem. Her friend, Aurelio Gonzalez Ovies, emailed her proposing to write another book with her. She pressed “SEND” agreeing to the message, minutes later her floor shook, and she was thrown back into her chair. “Ahh,” she screamed. This was the 2017 Mexico City earthquake. This was not the first earthquake that  Esperón lived through. “I lived the earthquake of 1985 as well. For the first time, I realized the earth was alive. I thought it was concrete. I heard the earth, and I changed.”

She connected her life-altering experience to the myths of the Aztecs. Her studies of the Aztecs who inhabited Tenochtitlan and the people that lived in Teotihuacan shared prophecies of the world. She knew that these earthquakes and myths were predicted on the Aztec calendar.

“Coming here in 2017, when I felt the earthquake I felt that I must write a book of myths that define our America.”-Esperón

3 months later, after the 2017 earthquake, Esperón started writing the book. Her colleague designed the poems, and Esperón added additional flair to the text. In Spanish, this book is called “Dictionary of Myths in America.”

“This is the book of ethnicities, different people, and different cultures. The English title is due to the translator. He is a man who speaks nahuatl, the original Aztec language.”-Esperón

We have the power of our roots to speak aloud and become one. We are the same. The great spirit is mentioned in the book.

María’s work with the collaboration of Amanda Mijangos (illustrator) and David Bowles (translator) created a body of work that shares stories about the ways of life and beliefs of people who lived in the Americas. There are many ways to read. Esperón shared that, “Use the book and retell it in your own way, your own tradition, your own way of being.”

It is a book to play with. It was originally organized alphabetically in Spanish. You can learn about people from Andes, Guarani, Nahua, K’iche, Maya, Mexica and so much more.

In the English version, she suggests that you can read other myths in a different order, find connections. One can use this book to retell, perform, and to build on other stories. María García Esperón has lived through many experiences and has a joy for taking her readers into the past. María’s desire to write about ancient people comes from her lived experiences and from reading and hearing their stories. Discover stories about our ancestor’s belief, thoughts, and way of life in her book, The Sea-Ring World, Sacred Stories of the Americas.





Toni Morrison Wrote Children’s Stories

Toni Morrison Wrote Children’s Stories

Toni Morrison built a legacy on writing about women and Black people in her novels. Morrison challenged the Black experience and brought up topics that made mainstream media question and create a large discourse. With her efforts, Morrison earned the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1993. She also co-authored children’s stories with her son Slade Morrison. Morrison lived from 1931-2019.

Below are a few narratives written for children. 

Who’s Got Game? Three Fables 

A book of three stories inspired by Aesop’s Fables for Children. Morrison’s spin on using stylistic vernaculars and free verse language making this old fable more contemporary for youth. This story utilizes rhymes such as “Got to split, Foxy. The summer’s been fun. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

The colorful language and use of vocabulary shifts the moral of the story.

The Ant or Grasshopper

Ant and Grasshopper enjoy the high times of playing music. But when winter comes, Ant prepares and Grasshopper gets stuck in the snow. Morrison gives personality and timbre to each character where they cannot agree on who is right and who is wrong. 

Original Story Here

The Lion or Mouse 

The Lion is all talk, but once a thorn got caught in his foot he needed help. No one but a little mouse did. Morrison flips the story around where the mouse is given a voice. He believes he is a Lion and everyone laughs at him. You will see an ending that is unexpected.

Original Story Here :

Poppy or the Snake

In this story, a grandfather tells his grandson on how he befriended the snake. Then in the end the snake and Poppy’s relationship changes. Morrison personifies the snake as a character with rhythm and jazz. Poppy likes to stay to himself. Morrisons shift the narrative where revenge occurs over a petty attitude from the snake saying, “Why did you break your promise?” “Hey man, I’m a snake.”

Original Story Here:

Penny Butter Fudge

A grandmother treats her grandchildren like gold. Instead of following mom’s schedule, grandma takes them on potato sack races, dancing, storybook, and then makes a recipe called Peeny Butter Fudge. This book reminds you of the times that children spend with their grandparents and the family recipes being passed down. 

The Tortoise or the Hare

A different version on the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare.” Jimi Hare wants to win the race off of his speed. Jamey Tortoise wanted to compete because of his intelligence. Jamey Tortoise strategizes how he will win the race. Jimi Hare stretches and exercises before the race. 


Author Spotlight: Crystal Allen

Author Spotlight: Crystal Allen

Crystal Allen and Mya Tibbs

Crystal Allen gives life to a nine-year-old character named Mya. She is bold, fun, and free-spirited. Mya wears cowgirl boots, uses her braids to help her remember the date, and loves her friends. This nine-year-old girl’s personality was inspired by Ramona Quimby. The idea came from Crystal’s team, and they asked her “to write a story about Mya because they could not find another author to bring her to life.” Crystal took the charge and wrote “Spirit Week Showdown” in 2016. This is the first book in this series where Mya must overcome difficulties in order to get her best friend back. In 2017 she published her second story in this series, “The Wall of Fame Game.” In 2018, “Maya in the Middle premiered. 

“In book one, SPIRIT WEEK SHOWDOWN, Mya is boot-scootin’ excited for the best five days of the whole school year – Spirit Week! She and her best friend, Naomi, even make a pinkie promise to be partners and win the big prize, VIP tickets to the Fall Festival! But when the partner picking goes wrong, Mya gets paired with Mean Connie Tate—the biggest bully in school. And she can’t get out of it. Now Naomi is mad, and Mya has to figure out not only how to win the VIP tickets, but also how to win back her friend—and of course she learns that maybe, just maybe, the rumors about Connie are wrong.”

All of Crystal’s characters originated from her own creative mind. She said that the biggest challenge in creating was that Mya was not thought about on her own, “I did not see her. This character came from someone else’s head and she had to bring her to life.” Despite the challenge, Crystal loves Ramona Quimby. “An African American Ramona could be a lot of fun to create.”

The way that Crystal builds her characters is that they come to her mind at random times. For Crystal, her character’s actions, and personalities filter through her thoughts before she is able to write about them. “One of my characters was walking in my brain and I knew that it was him because his laughs and phrases just came to my mind. For other stories, my characters show up and come to me and give me time to figure that out. With Mya, I did not have that relationship and I did not see her because she had not come to me in the normal way.”


How did Crystal become a writer?

Crystal’s is an author because she comes from a family line of storytellers. When she was growing up she was surrounded by stories. For example, she remembers when her mother told her stories about her own childhood. “Mom was an amazing storyteller such as drinking coffee from her grandfather’s cup. She could mesmerize a group of people about when she was sitting on her grandfather’s lap and waiting for it to spill on the floor. That was my creative gene. Everybody in my family has sat around and talked about stories.” She also draws from the stories of her brothers or her sons to create her characters. Where their jokes and pranks influenced the young men in her first book. You will also find stories from her childhood of when she grew up in Indiana.

So how did Crystal end up creating Mya into the spunky character that she is?

She thought of her relationship that she had with Fern from Charlotte’s Webb. That was one of her favorite stories because “it almost mimicked my life.” When she thought about her own reader-relationship experience then she was able to create Mya.

“Mya Tibbs and Connie Tate are reflections of my life in elementary school.  Mya’s strong, funny, personality reminds me of my ‘know everything’ self.  But, I was also the new kid and the only student in my class who lived on a farm.  Because of that, I was teased by my classmates. When I fought back, I was labeled a bully. I needed a friend. Our librarian gave me a copy of Charlotte’s Web, and I found exactly what I needed.  Fern was just like me.  She lived on a farm, didn’t have many friends, and I was so proud of her for saving Wilbur.  I would have done that, too! Fern and I have been friends forever.”

Crystal knew that Mya was a special and unique character.

“I wanted to create someone special for today’s young girl – that’s when Mya Tibbs showed up in my mind, fully dressed in western wear, walking and talking like a cowgirl, and ready for work. Halfway through finishing my first draft, I realized Mya was becoming a modern day Fern!”

Just like Crystal built her relationship with Fern, she hopes that her readers will develop the same relationship for cute Mya. Every child needs a friend.

Visit to learn more about Crystal Allen







Stories by Jacqueline Woodson

Stories by Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson is an award-winning author who has written stories for young people, teens, and adults for over 20 years. Woodson writes so that “children will see experiences, they will gain empathy and their world will become bigger.” Woodson’s books can be cherished by so many young hearts. We chose stories that display young women’s: courage, resilience, and handling differences in their society.

The Day You Begin-Woodson

Highlights the experiences of children where they do not see themselves on the outside, but through those experiences they learn.

This is the Rope
A Story from the Great Migration

A story about a family’s connection on migrating from the South to the North. A rope that had significance to the little girl’s grandmother living in South Carolina, to the rope being used to tie luggage on a car, and then used to hang a sign on a family reunion. This story highlights how something as small as a rope is passed down to different generations as a family “heirloom.”


Show Way-Woodson
Woodson shares a family story. Patches from quilts reminded the slaves in her family who were sold about home. “Show ways” were quilts which once served as maps for freedom-seeking slaves. Today Woodson writes stories to youth about their own paths for resilience and family.

Brown Girl Dreaming

Woodson writes in free verse about how her life transformed. Her family is from South Carolina, but like many other Black people they moved to the North. Woodson’s experiences with spirituality, Civil Rights Movement, her friends and family, and connection to writing. A young reader will enjoy the humanity and sincerity that Woodson shares in her book about the changes in her life during her adolescence.

Coming On Home Soon

A story about a little girl who has to live with her grandmother because her mother was hired to work in Chicago. This story occurs when a war occurred and the men were fighting so they hired women to work. A story of how the little girl and grandmother miss her mother.

The Other Side
Two little girls are separated from one another because of a fence that separates their land. Even though they are neighbors, their parents do not allow them to play together. Eventually the girls learn about one another and state for the fence to come down.

How To Tell A Comedic Story & Love Literacy

How To Tell A Comedic Story & Love Literacy

I loved it when Mr. Clarence Lomax cupped his right hand around his nose and pointed towards the wall saying, “Mr. Lomax, to my office. I am going to call your mother.” At that moment he was taking me back to his days as a teenager at his school. I imagined brick walls painted white, and beige flooring that he trudged down towards the principal’s office. I thought of his six foot tall principal, dressed in a dark blue suit, with an abnormally long nose pointing at Clarence. Lomax’s story created images in my mind, and I wanted to know more so I could visualize other comedic moments.

Storytelling is an oral literary art form that provides messages and new ideas for audience members. Every day in some way, all people tell stories, and it is important to gather the right framework for the message. 

“We all are storytellers who have the ability to tell great detailed stories. Whenever I meet someone that says “I could never speak in front of people” or “I could never tell a great story” I tell them to think about the last conversation they had with the closet person to them. Speaking in a way that makes the person on the receiving end vividly visualize what you are saying is not as challenging as some may think. It’s all about first becoming comfortable then allowing people in your comfortable space,” explains Lomax.

Storytelling is a literacy framework that can shape someone’s understanding to love reading and stories1.  Storytelling gives listeners the ability to hear and see vocabulary, expression, story elements, and parts of a narrative. Storytelling has a message along with emotions and characters. It is an oral art that gives meaning to experiences and perspectives. With storytelling, it can be used as an entrypoint to help readers. I will share three examples on how storytelling can be connected to advancing a youngsters reading skills.

1. Details

When telling a story, it is best to know the details of why you are telling that story. Is the purpose of your story to inform, to entertain, to sell, or to persuade? Once the purpose is decided, then it is important to decide the emotion whether it is joyous, sad, furious, or more. Afterwards, give details and descriptions on what happens, or even what does an object look like or feel like. Clarence Lomax gave the example of selling a phone. He laughed and smiled to show that he was going to be funny. During his story he said, “We have this black, shiny, phone. It actually has two camera, and is about 6 inches long. It is pretty big, and you can even text on it.” He suggested that having details about the story helps the listener “visualize the story better.”

2. Visualize

Storytellers use hand motions, facial expressions, or even different voice intonations to give the listener the ability to see what is being spoken to them. If the teller has a really important moment within his or her own story, then the listener could imagine a relatable moment in their own mind. In this personal experience, students have the ability to retell what was spoken and even see how vocabulary was used within their own experience. As an example, Mr. Lomax provided a visual when he swiped his hands from left to right pretending to be his principal scolding young Lomax. Then he tilted his head towards the ceiling and slowly cried, “Why?” 

3. Sense of Story

Having a sense of story can reinforce a student’s reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is vital to a student’s understanding. Being able to comprehend is where a listener can explain the characters, setting, plot, beginning, middle, and end. A story can have simplicity or depth where the “the use of descriptive oral language, students are able to have an enhanced experience with literature.”

To learn about storytelling, visit your local library and see if they have connections to artists within your community. Visit the National Storytelling Network. Study your favorite actor and pick through their phrases. Connect with Clarence Lomax visit here.

1-Miller, S., & Pennycuff, L. (2008). The Power of Story: Using Storytelling to Improve Literacy Learning. Journal of Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives in Education,36-43.