The Ink Splat is our monthly activity letter filled with inspiration sparking challenges and resources guaranteed to inspire your creativity. In this Ink Splat, the book and author spotlighted is Lara’s Gift By Annemarie O’Brien along with an author interview! Submit a response to a challenge and you may have a chance to be published online! What are you waiting for?

The Challenge: World Citizen

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? Write a story set in this place.

Try using this new word in your writing:

Do you know what the adjective obscure means? Obscure is a word meaning difficult to understand or unclear. For example: Mr. Gold’s lesson on grammar was very Borzoiobscure.

Submit your response HERE!

Lara’s Gift By Annemarie O’Brien

Travel around the world to Russia with Annemarie O’Brien’s new story, Lara’s GiftYoung Lara is being groomed in the family tradition to take over as Count Voronstov’s next kennel steward, breeding borzoi dogs worthy of the Tsar. But then Lara’s baby brother is born and she finds herself supplanted as her father decides to make her brother the next kennel steward. Going against her father’s wishes and becoming increasingly sure of her special gift of understanding these incredible dogs, Lara risks everything when she reveals the truth about her visions. Now she must save Zar, her favorite borzoi and the one she raised from birth, from a hungry pack of wolves. Only then can she find her own, extraordinary destiny.

Check out the book trailer here!

Interview with author Annemarie O’Brien:


Q: You lived in Russia for some years. What was that like and in what way did it inspire you to write Lara’s Gift?

A: Russia is a magical place. It is rich in music, literature, the arts, science, and history. My first visit was during the cold war when the United States and the former Soviet Union were at odds politically, socially, and economically. And while our governments didn’t see eye-to-eye, I found that I connected with Lara'sgiftcoverRussians easily. I couldn’t understand why our countries were “at war” on so many issues when the people I met were warm, welcoming, and highly intellectual.  Living and working there forced me to open up my mind and question so many things. Especially since many of my family and friends had funny notions of what Russia was all about. I wanted to change those kinds of perceptions and felt that Lara and Zar’s story needed to be told to show another face of Russia.

I consider myself a citizen of the world now and can find a piece of home in many of the countries where I have lived, as well as in those countries where I have friends or have spent a good chunk of time. My work abroad has taken me around the world from neighboring countries like Canada and Mexico to places as far away as Thailand and China.

Q: Is there a theme in the book that especially excites and interests you?

A:Yes. One theme in particular mirrors something my father instilled in me as a kid. He always told me that I could do whatever I wanted, if I put my mind to it. He also told me to follow my heart, and I would find happiness, and he urged me to trust in the gifts  I have. So if there’s one thing I hope my readers walk away with after reading LARA’S GIFT, it would be a newfound sense in themselves to pursue life following their hearts and passions.

Q: What made you want to be a storyteller? Who inspired you?

A: As a kid I enjoyed reading stories about dogs and/or characters living in other countries. The cultural differences between the world in which I lived and the ones these characters lived in was fascinating to me and helped me have a wider outlook on the world beyond my little world. Sadly, this type of “world” book was hard to find when I was young. So I felt there was a need for books that introduced readers to new worlds, and this is one of the big reasons I write the kind of stories I write. It’s also why I set up World Reads, a blog that features interviews with authors who have written a story set overseas. The more kids step out of their comfort zone and explore the world beyond their own, I do believe the world will become more open, understanding, and tolerant of other cultures and the things they hold important.

Q: Do you have any advice for young writers? 


  • Try to write every day.
  • Tag the things you like and try to refer back to them when you hit a brick wall.
  • Take as many writing classes as you can!
  • Attend workshops.
  • Follow your favorite writer’s blogs and reach out to them if you like their work. 
  • Don’t take constructive criticism personally. 
  • Never give up! Stay the course, because persistence will pay off if you follow your heart.

Thanks Annemarie O’Brien!

Lara’s Gift is available at Amazon!

For more about author Annemarie O’Brien and her books visit her website here.