Archive for the ‘Beyond the Dust Jacket – Author and Illustrator Interviews’ Category

Introducing illustrator François Thisdale

Posted on January 26th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Illustrator François Thisdale For nearly thirty years, François Thisdale’s has worked as an award-winning illustrator creating images for children’s books, news magazines, annual corporate reports, and book covers for several clients in Canada, United States, Korea, China, Colombia, Spain and France. His trademark multi-textured images are the product of a unique blend of traditional drawing, photography and richly textured painting techniques interwoven with digital imagery that creates particular atmospheres. He is the illustrator of Missing Nimama which recently won the TD Award and The Stamp Collector, which is on the International Board on Books for Young People’s Honor List. He has also won a Notable Books for a Global Society Award and the Crystal Kite Award; been a TD Children’s Book Award Finalist; an OLA Best Bet; an Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award finalist; and a Willow Awards finalist. François lives near Montreal, Quebec.

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

French Toast written by Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrated by François ThisdaleMy latest release is a picture book for age 4-7 entitled French Toast, a text from Kari-Lynn Winters published by Pajama Press.
This is a great story about difference, about colour of skin, about identity. Phoebe—half Jamaican, half French-Canadian—hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” Her grandmother uses descriptions of favourite foods from both of Phoebe’s cultures to celebrate the varied skin tones of her family. This is a great book for all ages and all colors.

For that book, the challenge was inspiring. I’ve worked around different atmospheres to match colour of food described in the story. I wanted to create poetic moods and incorporate food elements, like banana bread, tea, maple syrup or peach yogurt to buid special images. I think I’ve succeeded to create a surreal world that helps to dive into this dialog between Phoebe and her grandmom. Each spread becomes a special place to observe these characters. I’m very proud of the result. I particularly like the tenderness of this little girl and the natural tones of the illustrations.

French Toast at Amazon.com

French Toast at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

As far as I remember, I’ve always been attracted by drawing and art in general. At the age of 4 or 5, my favorite series of books was Tintin and Snowy, by Hergé. I’ve been moved deeply by one of these books, Tintin and the Blue Lotus. All Tintin and Snowy books were very special to me but this specific book haunted me by the beauty of images, the strange architecture, its colourful exoticism. It was great to be able to follow the story without knowing how to read. I had the impression of traveling far, far away. This is the moment where I have started to draw for the rest of my life. Later on, I saw a photography of Hergé’s studio in a magazine for kids. I’ve been very impressed by that shot. I wanted to do that, to draw all day long!

When I left for China in 2003 to adopt our daughter, I admit that I’ve thought about my childhood, about that precious book and remembered how it inspired me as a kid. I didn’t know that China would give me the chance to become a father. I did lots of sketches in China and The Blue Lotus was still resonating inside of me.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like? THISDALE Studio

I’m working from home, an antique farmhouse, my studio is a luminous space with two large windows. Every single day starts almost the same, a good teapot of Oolong tea. I need lots of music and life is good!

When I work on a picture book or on a book cover, I’m very passionate.

A picture book project starts with the reading of the manuscript. That’s the moment where everything is possible. Each text brings different challenges to face. I need to understand characters, to learn from their stories and to find a link with my own life. I’m very grateful about authors, this is a real gift to share the world of other creators during months.

The work begins with pencil and watercolour sketches, far from a final illustration but enough to give a direction to the book. I love to work on a sketchbook. I feel the same as when I’m traveling.

From there, with comments from my editor, I start to work on images. First off, I build the skeleton of my illustrations with photographic references, part of painting textures, different details taken here and there, and I create a collage of photographies and paintings details, in Photoshop. I print that proof on my wide format printer and I paint over with acrylic and different mediums. Then, I scan this image to work it again in the computer. I add textures, collage, elements painted aside like skies, painted textures and adjust contrasts, levels, saturation. This is a long process, a kind of alchemy. And I love it!

Thisdale Bike Riding I usually take an hour or so during the day to keep the shape and get my head cleaned. From April to November, I’m cycling around 35 kilometers a day. I love the sensation of the wind and the contemplation of landscapes. I alway carry my cell phone to take pictures that could improve the quality of my illustrations.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

My work, as a freelance illustrator, asks me to be well organized and disciplined. I see illustration as a language where I need to “say” things differently, regarding the text. When I’m doing a picture book, I want to create a dance between words and images and to enhanced some parts of the story by creating specific moods. This is a link, a bridge between the text and the reader. An illustrator must dive into the story and search to understand characters, to feel the story from his guts. Obviously, this is a great way to express myself and I think that I became an illustrator for that reason: the easiness to communicate that way, to “tell” things differently without having to say a single word, to understand and share someone’s world.

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Yes! I’m listening to music all day long. This is a great part of my inspiration. Music is something essential for me, something natural. As long as I remember, music has always been present in my life. My father was a pianist, I’ve played guitar a lot and composed music for shortfilms in a period of my life, music is an extension of my sensitivity. I like a wide variety of styles, depending of the moment. Today’ I’ve listened to Andy Stott, a londonian DJ, Yussef Kamaal, Ray Lamontagne and Radiohead and ended my working day with John Dowland solo lute music. Music is a great chance to discover different cultures and to admire creativity.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Hard to choose… Let me give you three names.

First, Eugene Delacroix simply for talking with him about his Moroccan sketchbooks. These sketches are still moving me. I visited Delacroix’ studio in Paris on place Furtenberg and had the chance to see some of these drawings.

I would have liked to meet Carl Beam, who died in 2005, an Ojibway painter who worked on large format paintings that incorporates photo-imagery. I love his work and his attachment to his roots. I would have liked, for sure, to discuss about his technique of blending photo and painting as well as knowing more about the true meaning of some pieces of art I love.

And finally Binette Schroeder, this wonderful German illustrator, to hear from this woman about her great career and to learn about this passionate person.


Meet Author Kelly Santana-Banks

Posted on October 27th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Kelly Santana-BanksKelly Santana-Banks is a writer of nonfiction and children’s books, and a former early childhood teacher and caregiver. When she was young, she loved to play teacher with her sister, cousins, and neighbors. As a young adult, she never considered teaching as a career, but little did she know that her childhood make-believe would pave the way to what would become her passion. With more than ten years of experience working with children—five of those years were dedicated to research in the area of child development as well as implementing best practices inside and outside of the classroom and a strong background in child development, she is an advocate for education, especially in early childhood. She writes fun stories to entertain and teach children as well as help parents find simple solutions for their little ones’ lives.

You can find more about her or connect on her website

You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @ksantanabanks, Instagram and Pinterest.

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?Dinosaur Adventure a Field Trip to Remember by Kelly Santana Banks

My latest release is called Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember, the second book in the series Let’s Learn while Playing. Different from my first book, which was a short nursery rhyme geared towards two, threes, and fours, Dinosaur Adventure targets more the older group of children (3–7)—given its amount of text and the vocabulary explored. This book is a product of my working experiences with children inside and outside of the classroom, including fun field trips. And I’m happy to bring to life a subject that children love (dinosaurs) in an entertaining and educational way.

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember at Amazon.com

Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Growing up, I loved the stories of Mauricio de Souza, a famous Brazilian cartoonist and creator of the children’s comic series, Turma da Monica. But at that point, writing or even thinking of becoming an author was never on my radar. Throughout my teenage years, I became an avid reader, devouring my mom’s library of books, including Sidney Sheldon’s novel, of whom I became a big fan. And later on, I also added Danielle Steele and Jenifer Weiner to my list. Every one of those authors left an impression on me. Either it is in the way I create the characters in my mind and get them to paper or how I develop the plot. This is only my second children’s book, so I cannot measure precisely their impact on my writing, but I can tell for sure that their work let me see my characters with more of a critical eye.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I have worked with children for more than ten years now. Here in the US, I started as a caregiver, but not too long, I realized my love and enjoyment working with the little ones. I went back to graduate school for early childhood education (I previously received a graduate degree in hospitality) and started working as a teacher. My desire for writing started to naturally blossom. The more engaged with children, their experiences, and teaching I became, the idea of writing children’s books emerged. But at that point, it seemed far fetched to me. Life went on with many surprises and changes of scenario, including professional ones. Three years ago, I saw an opportunity to help authors with their craft, at the same time learning about it myself, and I started writing reviews for Reader’s Favorite. From reviews, I moved to resume writing, content writing, and now, books. I need to add, though, that I’m thankful for the support from my parents, dear sister, and husband, as well as some close friends, who have been strong supporters of my work.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries, or bookstores?

I connect with my readers through social media, especially Twitter and Instagram, and my website. I have been planning some book tours, but I haven’t started that yet. As you know, it requires a lot of preparation with book release dates, websites logistics, and the readers’ needs as well. But I’m excited to start with this one. The same goes with libraries, schools, and bookstores. I haven’t explored those venues yet, but I would sure consider a children’s read aloud session.

What are the joys of being an author/illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

There is no better satisfaction than to really bring your character to life. The creating process is one of my favorites. Besides having the pleasure of getting the character onto the paper, I love the back and forth with the illustrator, the discussion of ideas and experimenting with colors, materials, and senses to make the character relatable and loved by children.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author/illustrator?

To me, as an indie author—and I imagine that some fellow indies might relate—the real challenge comes with the marketing. In order for us to reach a broader readership, we need to put a lot of effort into marketing.

I constantly see myself on a tightrope trying to balance out writing with the marketing aspect. And for the most part, this is not easy.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

This is a no-brainer: Sidney Sheldon. As I mentioned previously, I grew up reading his novels and became a super fan. I would love to learn about the thought process for his plots, his writing habits, and where he gets inspiration for his characters.

Meet Author Darla Woodley

Posted on October 13th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

D Woodley author of  Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is Darla Woodley’s first book. Darla is a self-proclaimed shutterbug, with her camera never far from arm’s reach and a goal of capturing the many activities of her two boys, she is always on the lookout for how to capture magical moments. Many of these special moments are recorded in this book.

AuthorTwitter account @RedAnything

Instagram redsockswithanything

Facebook page www.facebook.com/RedSocksGoWithAbsolutelyAnything

Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
My book is entitled Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything. It is a Children’s Picture Book but I actually think it is a good read for all ages. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is based around our family tradition of wearing red socks as an unspoken method of support and encouragement for friends, family or anyone that may just need a lift in spirit. The story sees the character going through a number of “firsts” and intimidating moments and shows the reader that sometimes words are just not needed to show that someone is thinking of you or cheering you on. The main character’s gender is ambiguous on purpose so as to allow the reader to develop a more personal connection to the story. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything

I am most proud of the impact that the story has on its readers. I love hearing how someone is heading out to purchase a pair of red socks for themselves and/or their family members. I am especially thrilled when a reader tells me that they are looking forward to initiating their own unspoken method of support and tradition based around the idea of red socks.

Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.com

Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
I am not sure if I would say it was difficult to publish my first book. Challenging? Yes, definitely challenging. I chose the self-published route and being new to the book industry I found myself constantly on the computer or my phone doing research. I cannot tell you how many links I emailed myself to read and check on and how many tabs were open on my desktop at once on a regular basis. I was extremely fortunate to have a few connections that I could contact, bounce questions off of and verify information that I had found through research. The entire process can be a rather lengthy one when opting the self-published route as there are many services, options and research that should be done to ensure that you end up with an end product suitable to your standards.

To aspiring authors/illustrators I would suggest that they do their research regarding the publishing process and what it takes to ensure that you end up with a polished and very professional book. I would also explain how it is a never-ending process of promotion and self-promotion. For a new author it is a constant challenge to get your name out there in the literary world.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I have such great memories and experiences of sharing Red Socks with children. They are such a wonderful and inspiring group to share the story with!

I have shared the story with children in grades 1 through to grade 6 and was very pleasantly surprised at the comments and discussions with the grade 6 individuals. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be too “big” for the story but they were an awesome group of kids with insightful questions and comments. With that particular group I have great memories:
- I had a couple of girls approach me and tell me about a book they are writing together and how they were inspired to keep their project going and not give up.
- One child came up and told me how great he thought the story was and then secretly handed me a piece of his favorite gum by way of a handshake. He then gave me a wink to confirm the passing of the forbidden gum. (we were all sitting in the library)
- Another child was so inspired by the story that he suggested that they have a wall in the school dedicated to Red Socks displaying the book’s lines “I feel strong. I am ready. I can do anything.” I am so proud of him as he later inspired so many others at a local track competition with his determination to run and finish in a relay match.

I always have fond memories of visiting and reading with the younger grades. I experienced my first “heckler” when I was reading to a grade 2 class and she was in the front row asking me why the socks were not blue. I love the little discussions (that sometimes turn into battles) when I ask the class if they think the protagonist is a boy or a girl. I enjoy the fact that we get off course during the reading as our discussions take a different direction at times when they all want to share their version of the character’s experience.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
I use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a website) in an effort to stay connected with readers and those who might be interested in learning more about Red Socks. I have done a few book signings and look forward to doing more. (The book signings are something that I need to push myself to do as I am usually very much a “behind-the-scenes” type of person.) I do thoroughly enjoy visiting classrooms and look forward to those in the coming school year.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
I am a first time author so it is so very thrilling to see the book displayed in a bookstore or to hear from someone else that they spotted Red Socks in a bookstore. My greatest pleasure is having someone tell me that they enjoyed the story and are looking forward to initiating their own tradition based on the idea of Red Socks. I have it set up so that when books are purchased an additional copy is printed and then donated to a local school, charity and/or organization that can benefit from the message within the story. I am so happy to say that books have been sent to Australia, Maui, England, Northern Ireland, Toronto, various States, Saskatchewan, BC and throughout Alberta so far.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
Being a first time author and one that is self-published, the biggest challenge is actually getting the word out about the story. The entire experience is new to me and full of challenges and unknowns and I find myself constantly having to do research regarding the industry and push myself out of my comfort level at times in an effort to bring Red Socks to new readers. I am thankful though as this challenge offers me an opportunity to be an example to my two boys of how one should never give up and always be willing to put themselves out there.

Meet Author Rebecca Lynn Morales

Posted on October 6th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Rebecca  Lynn MoralesRebecca Lynn Morales grew up in Northern California. She graduated college with a degree in theatre arts from California State University, Northridge. She now pens the theatrics in her mind to paper. Rebecca recently moved to Texas. She loves living there with her supportive husband, Gabriel, and spunky Jack Russell terrier, Carson. She gives glory to God for all that is good in her life.

Twitter account: @ArtisanRebeccaM
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/RebeccaLynnMorales
Instagram:@rebeccalynnmorales

Website URL: Walter Plume and the Dehydrated Imagination
Rebecca Lynn Morales

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Walter Plume and the Dehydrated Imagination is a fun adventure through a dried-out, rule-bound land. The lead character, Walter Plume, is the wittiest, most imaginative, and just plain real kid you will ever meet. He is an eleven year old foodie, with taste buds that like both cranberry-glazed salmon and a plain ol’ corn dog. I know kids (and probably a lot of adults, too) will relate to Walter and his desire to use his imagination. (Middle grade novel, 7-12 years) Over the years, I have battled people and situations determined to dehydrate my imagination. But, I’m fully re-hydrated now!
I am most proud of the creative imagery and world building. It takes a big imagination to bring other people’s imaginations back to life.Walter Plume and the Dehydrated Imagination
Walter Plume was newly released last February and is available in paperback and as an eBook.

Walter Plume and the Dehydrated Imagination at Amazon.com

Walter Plume and the Dehydrated Imagination at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
Miraculously, my first novel was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to. It was meant to be. However, I took the time to read about numerous publishers and what they were looking for, in order to make the best match. Not everything comes so easily, of course. I encourage any aspiring author to persevere no matter what and continue to grow as a writer.

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?
I knew I wanted to be a writer from childhood. My dad gave me a thick (in size and language) classic novels to read. I plowed my way through those books page by page, not fully understanding all the words. However, the characters in those novels and the drama of their lives led me to attempt my first novel in the seventh grade. I only wrote three pages. But that was the start of an idea for my life that has never left me.

I knew I would be a writer after I was married because I finally had the support and encouragement I needed. My husband has a good editorial eye. He is the first person to read my work and give me feedback. And I chat his ear off every time I have a new idea or element for a story. He also helps me with the technical side of things: my website, marketing materials. He is my greatest support!

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing process look like?
I need to write in a quiet place, which is usually my office. Sometimes I sit at my desk, but mostly I write sitting in my favorite blue chair. It’s comfortable without being too cozy. I used to write sitting up in bed, but no matter how wonderfully my tale was unfolding I would eventually slide down in the bed, my head resting on the soft pillow and doze off. My brilliant writing tip: Write sitting up. I’ve also found that a cup of coffee or tea is inspiring somehow. They sit on the desk next to me for quick sipping access. The writing process itself varies. I have tried and tried to make a complete chapter-by-chapter outline before I begin a book and follow it closely with only a few detours. This doesn’t work for me. The things I know before I begin writing are: 1) How the book will end 2) My characters 3) I’ve created about ¾ of my world. The rest unfolds from there. I outline a few chapters at a time and then write them out. I get super excited about the ideas I come up with while typing. I also set daily word count goals to keep me motivated. (Usually, one thousand words per today).

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
I enjoy staying connected with readers. I did a Barnes and Noble book tour last spring, where I did author signings at six stores. I love being able to answer young readers’ questions and encouraging kids to read and write themselves. When kids have the courage to come up and talk to me, I’m so proud of them because I was so shy as a child and I know how difficult it can be. I am active on social media and have two websites. You are welcome to contact me there if you have any questions. I also make weekly encouraging vlogs that I post on Facebook.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?
If I wasn’t an author I think I would be a counselor of some kind. I’m a developer at heart and I see great potential in people. Whatever I can do to help someone realize and live out their potential is a joy to me.

Do you do school or library presentations?

I speak at schools and libraries. With encouragement and fun games, I teach kids about various techniques I use to develop characters and write stories. My overall message is that we are all truly unique people with dreams, and those dreams will become reality if we remain true to ourselves.

Areas: Central Texas

Meet Author Michael Samulak

Posted on September 29th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Michael SamulakMichael Samulak has almost twenty years of experience teaching, mentoring, and engaging youth both in and outside of the classroom. Mr. Samulak visits schools, learning centers, and daycares to read and present his stories and world adventures. His goal is to inspire youth to dream big. Michael’s teaching and classroom experience help him to fill his award-winning picture books with fun opportunities for learning.

Michael resides in the City of Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four children.

He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Michigan State University (’96) and finished his Master’s in Education at Cleveland State University (’12). He has been working as a full-time youth minister and educator for close to 20 years.

Author Facebook Page

Author website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

A Wonderful Day! is my latest picture book about going to the zoo. This is actually my first traditionally published title and I am so excited to be able to share it with everyone! It is an early reader, great for emerging readers, or those who are working toward fluency and need that extra support from a fun book that can reinforce those early sight words and phonics skills that they have been working on.A Wonderful Day! by Michael Samulak

I generally recommend a target audience to be 3-6 years old, but as many of the educators and parents will tell you, this totally depends on your reader. My nephew is 2 and he loves to make all the animal sounds as he flips excitedly through the pages. My brother sent me a picture of him sneaking a read after he had “thought” he put him to bed. He was “reading” under the covers, flashlight and all. I couldn’t have been more happy to see someone getting that kind of joy from one of my books.

I am probably most proud of the way the book has been put together with little learning moments laced throughout the manuscript. Besides being written with a gender-neutral text, you also have a good amount of questions and statements that can be thought-provoking and interactive. This kind of anticipatory exercise is very important for young readers as they are learning and beginning to understand that text has meaning. I love that the book helps young readers make text-to-self-reflections; putting their own experiences and prior knowledge front and center while reading in order to develop and expand the whole experience of reading. We all do this as accomplished readers, and generally forget that somewhere along the line we were helped to understand and realize that reading is so much more than decoding and applying the known rules of phonics.

A Wonderful Day! was recently Awarded the Gold Medal for Children’s Picture Books (Animals) by the Mom’s Choice Awards.

A Wonderful Day! at Amazon.com

A Wonderful Day! at Amazon.ca

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

This would have to be when I would ask my mom if I could stay home from Jr. High school, maybe about 6th or 7th grade so I could keep working on my first chapter book.

I think that it is safe to say that I still consider myself to be a work-in-progress, and so it is crazy to think that my books can now be found in libraries, schools, and peoples’ homes.

For those still-aspiring writers I always have the same words, “Don’t ever give up!” That choice has a guaranteed outcome. Don’t stop. Keep going, keep writing, keep up the inquiring: There is story that you have that the world needs to read. Keep putting yourself and your work out there and it will happen, even if it seems that things are tough or impossible, as long as you are moving and working on your dream, something can happen.

A is for Africa by Michael Samulak

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing process look like?

Generally speaking, one of my five children climbing on my back or sitting in my lap. Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the kids. They are a big source of inspirations for many of my books, so I can’t complain, but finding that quality, uninterrupted time is tough.

I am always writing, or at least thinking about writing. My note app on my phone is filled with bits and pieces, lines, thoughts: unpublished titles, I’m always trying to think of what may be a good title for a book. I think that has replaced a lot of my early days of notebooks, scrap paper, napkins from a dinner table, whatever was there really: Crayon, pencil, that piece of fruit my daughter had finished with…whatever worked to get that word down before it was gone. I’m sure some out there can relate.

I suppose once it is time put all of those bits and pieces into something “final” that I then print out or send to an actual human being, my laptop and a local coffee shop are where I land. But, the process, yeah, that’s a lot messy for me.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

What hasn’t happened? Tears, fears, in appropriate laughing; farting, burping, teasing, and a lot of smiles and wide-eye stares that keep me coming back for more.

I love reading my work and interacting with the children at schools and learning centers the most. I think it is the father and educator parts of me. I have come to expect the unexpected and it is this color and variety of the trip that make it so worthwhile.

If I had to pick one particular event I am particularly found of, it would be that one I often remember this one time when I visited one schools and one of the students in the sea of faces piped up matter-of-factly after I held up my book, “Hey! I have that book at home! I love that book! Oh Boy!, this is gonna be awesome.” I had to take a moment to hold back the tears on that one. It was one of the first times that I really felt accomplished as an author: Like my dreams of being able to write for children were coming true.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

Everything goes when it comes to connecting, networking, and staying engaged with readers. So, yes to all!

I love to network and feel that it is so important to staying relevant to my audience. I often will bring “finished” works to the schools and classrooms that I visit to get fresh feed back from the audience that I feel matters most – the one that I am writing for. I try to stay active on social media platforms, but since I write for a younger audience, like, they aren’t quite there yet when it comes to literacy fluency, let alone responding to a FaceBook post; I generally am reaching out and interacting with parents, other writers, educators, etc. on those platforms. With that in mind, I am generally looking for opportunities related to a visit or to network, or generally showing off my beautiful family and our recent life adventures together.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Juggling work, family, wife, kids — oh yeah, and then there is writing. I would have to say time – quality time to get to the end part of that process of writing in order to cross that finished line where an actual tangible piece is produced that then can be reworked, critiqued, rejected, reworked again…really, do I need to go on.

I know others may have other struggles, and I’m not at all saying that those aren’t real or deep, but for myself it would have to be finding the time to “gett’er done”.

“Just keep swimming” often does become my own encouraging theme song on those days when I feel like throwing in the towel. And so I try to just keep moving, even if it is just one sentence or phrase that I can work on; not even finish per say, but to mark progress. Yes, seeing progress helps to keep me going and eventually cross that finish line.

When I go to schools or libraries I love to read my picture books and share my inspirations and experiences that they are based on. Generally speaking, this makes for great laughs as I share my adventures with my children. I also have brought back some native items from Africa and do a sort of “Show and Tell”. The kids love to see and feel these native artifacts. The African Drum is usually the biggest “hit”.

Meet Author Illustrator Loraine Kemp

Posted on November 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Meet Illustrator Loraine KempLoraine Kemp, born in Kelowna, B.C., grew up loving the outdoors on acreage with her horses. Her other favorite pastime was reading fantasy novels. After she graduated from high school, she took two years of Fine Arts. Later, she married an amazing man and had two sons. When her two sons were growing up, she discovered her passion for reading and telling children’s stories. Her sons have grown, but her passion remains.





Many writing courses later, her writing accomplishments include being selected by jury twice to attend the Literary Arts Program (Children’s Writing) of the British Columbia Festival of the Arts. Her short stories also won first place in the following contests: The Willamette Writers Society conference contest in Portland; Byline Magazine contest; Bard’s Ink Writing Contest; and The World Guild’s 2013 Fresh Ink writing contest.

Loraine has written two juvenile novels, and her children’s fantasy Orion’s Sword, won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ 2013 Genesis Contest.

Other accomplishments include illustrating three books. One of them called Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon, was written by Lyn Hancock and published by Sono Nis Press. She toured to schools and libraries with the Lyn doing illustrating workshops and presentations. The other two books will be published by Webb Publishing. Loraine has just been commissioned to illustrate a picture book called Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon, written by good friend, Karen Autio, and published by Sono Nis Press. She now continues to write and illustrate, and enjoys giving illustrating presentations to schools.

Loraine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Canscaip, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Illustrator website

Illustrator Facebook page

Twitter Account @loraine_kemp

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon written by Lyn Hancock and illustrated by Loraine KempTabasco the Saucy Raccoon is my latest published children’s book, aimed at kids, 9 – 12 years of age. It is a true story about a raccoon that was taken around by author Lyn Hancock on her writing tours. The crazy escapades Tabasco gets into will entertain kids of all ages. I am most proud of the fact the I engaged a whole school in the process of illustrating the book. I used Ann McClymont Elementary in Kelowna, B.C. as my home base for all my illustrations. I used the kids, teachers, secretary, principal and the vice principal as my models for the book. I had a blast and so did my models!

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon at Amazon.com

Tabasco the Saucy Raccoon at Amazon.ca

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I visit schools and do illustrating workshops for now. When I’m published as a writer, I will do both writing and illustrating workshops. I have gone on book tours to B.C., and Ontario and had wonderful times with the author as we toured together to libraries and schools. Now I do them by myself, although in 2016 when my book Growing up in Wild Horse Canyon is published I will again tour with an author, Karen Autio, doing presentations and workshops. In my workshops, I entertain kids by demonstrating my drawing techniques when I draw popular animated characters. I also invite them to display their work on my website. I take copies of their drawings or ask them to send me more. They love to see their work and others on my website. There are many very talented kids out there!! Have a look on my website. You will be astounded!! I also engage on twitter, and would love to see more kids!

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I derive the greatest pleasure when I engage the kids in the classrooms with my drawings and show them that they too can draw as I walk them through simple and fun drawings. Their presents of pictures they drew are my treasures!! My greatest pleasures of being an author is escaping into my fantasy worlds and playing with my characters on paper!

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

My biggest challenge is that I love both illustrating and writing and it is hard to be away from either for any period of time. Although both take a lot of time. I feel like I’m being split down the middle when I have to decide which to do in a day!

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I would dine with Kenneth Oppel. He writes such amazing stories and has such a great imagination, that I would love to know him better!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

Yes I do library and school presentations. I do presentations right now on illustrating to elementary and middle schools, but when my book is published, I will do both presentations and workshops for both as well. My topic for illustrating is discovering details around you, and incorporating them into your drawings. I show them how to use special techniques to be better drawers. I would be happy to go anywhere, although I live in B.C. Canada.

Meet Author Neil McFarlane

Posted on September 25th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Author Neil McFarlaneNeil Roy McFarlane is from the UK. He lived in Asia for over ten years and speaks passable Chinese. He writes in his spare time.








Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

When You Were a Worm by Neil McFarlaneWhen You Were a Worm is a collection of short stories written in the second person (as is my previous book A Month of Bedtime Stories). Both books are aimed at parents who enjoy reading to/with their children. In each story of When You Were a Worm, ‘you’ (i.e. the listening child) change into an animal and embark on a rather silly and fantastical adventure. For example, in one story you change into a flea and become the star performer in Professor Heckler’s World Famous Flea Circus; in another you change into a caterpillar and go back in time to teach prehistoric caterpillars how to change into butterflies. As to what I’m most proud of, the question tempts me to be serious and claim it’s educational – the kids are going to learn some zoology and get an insight into the lives of these creatures. It’s true that was something I kept in mind when I wrote the stories, but I have to admit that was secondary. What I really wanted to do was entertain and delight.

When You Were a Worm (and Other Stories and Creepy Crawlies!): Funny, Creepy Crawly Short Stories for Parents to Read to/with Children Aged 6 to 11 at Amazon.com

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

I graduated through three authors as my childhood progressed: Enid Blyton (The Faraway Tree series), Tolkien (Lord of the Rings), and Ray Bradbury (The Illustrated Man). The Faraway Tree series and The Illustrated Man (and the Narnia series which I also loved) all involve traveling through a magic portal into other worlds. Lord of the Rings just was another world, no portal required. The common thread – of fantasy and escapism – is obvious, but I’m not sure why I was so desperate to escape. Maybe my childhood was worse than I remember it, but I think I just enjoyed such wild flights of imagination.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?A Month of Bedtime Stories Thirty-One Bite-Sized Tales of Wackiness and Wonder for the Retiring Child

Hmmm. Well, I don’t consider myself as having been published. I have signed a deal with a ‘proper’ publisher, but the book (a language learning textbook) isn’t finished yet. So far, with these storybooks, I’m ‘only’ self-published and have sold very few copies to boot. At which point some people might wonder: “Why are they interviewing this nobody?” Well, maybe I’ll end up becoming the new Dickens, but if on the other (more likely) hand I remain rather obscure and unknown, it still wouldn’t be a great tragedy for me personally, because writing is something I love to do. Fame or obscurity, I just really enjoy the experience of writing and being creative. So in terms of offering encouragement to other aspiring writers, I’d just say: do it if you love it.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was about 8 years old. I just fell in love with reading and thereby living in other worlds. It was a way to have a(n admittedly one-sided) conversation with the greatest minds both living and dead. I admired writers more than anyone. I quickly realized that when I was watching a movie, the actor was just mouthing the words, and the director was just directing the story, that the writer had written. The writer was the great puppeteer who pulled the strings. It’s kind of like being God. An engineer can make a vacuum cleaner; a builder can make a house; but as a writer, you can make a whole world. Wow wow wow!

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

With A Month of Bedtime Stories, I would usually wake at 5am on weekdays to write for a couple of hours before going to work. Then I would write some more on the train to and from work, usually on scraps of paper, sometimes even on train tickets and till receipts if I’d run out of paper. Then at weekends I’d go out walking on the coast path and have more ideas and stop to jot them down on more scraps of paper. Everything would then be typed out at night. Writing this way, it took me two months to complete at the rate of about one story every two days or so. If you were to look at all those bits of paper, it would be pretty indecipherable owing to my terrible handwriting, edits, deletions, insertions, and a multitude of geometric symbols which would be meaningless to anyone but me.

I thought the title A Month of Bedtime Stories was catchy, but really thirty-one stories was a bit ambitious. The hardest part was clawing my way across the finish line without losing focus or feeling my standards were slipping.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

The first person to read A Month of Bedtime Stories was a lady at work. The next day after reading the first couple of stories to her 7-year-old daughter, she came up to me at work and proceeded to tell me about how much they both enjoyed it. It was such a big effort writing that book and therefore such a relief to know it wasn’t all some vain exercise in self-delusion, that tears welled up in my eyes. So I was trying to turn away and pretend to scratch my cheek to wipe away a tear without her noticing. It was kind of embarrassing. I am British, after all. (Stiff upper lip and all that jazz.)

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Several characters sing songs in A Month of Bedtime Stories. At one point a red Indian hedgehog sings this song while communing with the spirit world to discover a way to steal caster sugar from a herd of evil deer witches:

Ho yay hicky yicky
Ho yay hakka chakka
Yanna wanna holy no
Hi yay ho yay

Hicky chicky cha cha
Yanna wanna ha ha
A-tishoo a-tishoo
We all fall down!

And in another story, a platoon of marching crabs, who act like a kind of Greek chorus presaging the events to come, sing this song:

Yo ho ho and a bucket of suds
Ethel wait no baby go slow mo
Ring-a-ding nocerouse, sparrow, bee, eek-a-mouse
Chop like a chop chop, crow like a crow!

And in another story an old lady called Mrs Teasel has a finger which sings a magic song, but I can’t reveal the lyrics because it would be a total plot spoiler.

Meet Author Lisa Manzione

Posted on September 18th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Storytime Standouts interviews author Lisa Manzione





Author Website

Author Twitter account @BellaAndHarryGo

Author Facebook page

Book Series Website

The Adventures of Bella and Harry Lets Visit Maui by Lisa ManzioneTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

The latest book published is Let’s Visit Maui!. The book series is perfectly suited for ages 5-10. I am most proud of the fact the series has been very well received by parents, librarians, teachers, but most of all, children!

Let’s Visit Maui!: Adventures of Bella & Harry (The Adventures of Bella & Harry) at Amazon.com

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

It was extremely difficult to get the first book in the series published. As a matter of fact, I had one publisher tell me the books were “too educational” for US children. Once I heard that comment, I was even more determined! I found a small publisher in South Florida and the first book was published. After attending Book Expo America, I realized I could publish the books on my own. I created my own company, hired a staff, and 14 books later, we are very pleased with our success.

As far as words of encouragement…Don’t give up! If you truly believe in our product, the right opportunity will come along. It just takes time and persistence.Bella and Harry Lets Visit Athens by Lisa Manzione

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I think the greatest joy is seeing how much children enjoy reading and learning about the world. I am just thrilled every time I speak to a youngster and they can tell me what Bella & Harry have taught them. I really love it when the child tells me they know even MORE about the cities/countries than Bella and Harry because they have done research on their own or with their classroom.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

I believe the biggest challenge is keeping a child’s interest in a story. In the Bella and Harry series, the stories are educational. I think it is necessary to keep the story fun (which holds their attention), but to also have a significant amount of educational content which can be a huge challenge because I don’t want the book to feel like a history book.

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?

Yes, the books have been published electronically through Reading Rainbow Kidz. There is an option with RRKidz…the book can be read aloud to you or you can turn that option off and read the book yourself.

The process with RR Kidz was a lot of fun! We have received tremendous feedback from readers, especially early readers who enjoy the narration option initially.

We plan to have additional e-books available in the fall, 2014.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

If I could dine with anyone it would be James Patterson. I love his “women’s murder club”series!

Additionally, James Patterson lives in South FL and is very active in children’s literacy programs, which I just LOVE!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I love to do library and school presentations! Generally, I read one book during the presentation, followed by a question and answer session. Those that answer the questions correctly are given a prize…sometimes another book, a Bella plush stuffed animal, back pack, etc. At the end of the presentation I give each child a book from the series that we did not read. Depending on the age of the children, sometimes I autograph the books individually as well.

As far as limitations, if I have advanced notice, there really are no limitations. If advance notice is limited, I can always Skype. In this instance, I would send the book ahead, so we can still do most of the above.

Meet Author Illustrator Ruth Ohi

Posted on September 4th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Meet Author illustrator Ruth Ohi (photo by AnnieT)Ruth Ohi is the illustrator of over 50 children’s picture books (17 of which she is also the author). She lives in Toronto, Canada and is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Her books have been selected for the Pennsylvania Centre for the Book’s “Bakers’ Dozen”, the Canadian Toy Testing Council’s “Great Books”, the Ontario Library Association’s “Best Bets” and the Toronto Public Library’s “First & Best”. They have been shortlisted for awards such as the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book, Amelia Francis Howard-Gibbons, Shining Willow, Blue Spruce and Rainforest of Reading awards.





Ruth Ohi’s Facebook page
Ruth Ohi’s website URL
Instagram: @RuthOhi
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ruthohi/

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend created by Ruth OhiMs. Ohi’s latest published children’s book is Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend (Scholastic Canada/Sept 2014)
Genres:
Social Issues/Friendship
Social Issues/Emotions and Feelings

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it?

My hope would be that “Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend”(Fall 2014/Scholastic Canada) could be enjoyed by anyone who is a friend, would like a friend or wishes to be a friend. Fox and Squirrel’s first story, Fox and Squirrel (Scholastic Canada, Fall 2013) showed that despite their differences, the two could find enough in common to be friends. Their second story came from looking out my studio window and admiring how squirrels could hang out in the highest, teeniest tree branches and thinking, “Hm, Fox couldn’t go there.” And I wondered what if Squirrel met someone else way up high and forgot all about Fox for awhile and how that would make Fox feel.

Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

For chapter books it was Lois Darling of the Beverley Cleary original releases. She drew Ramona and Beezus in a way that was so satisfying for me. I very much empathized with Ramona about apples and marshmallows. For picture books, there are too many to list. I think the combination of artists like Leo Lionni, Maurice Sendak, Ezra Jack Keats, Dr. Suess and Robert McCloskey resonated with me because their words and pictures made me want to linger on the pages. They made me care about their characters.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?Storytime Standouts looks at Shh! My Brother's Napping by Ruth Ohi

Making stories with pictures has always been incredibly satisfying and I’ve always loved picture books, but it wasn’t until university that I seriously considered art as a career. It just took a little while for me to realize it could be an actual full time job! My family was amazingly supportive and that was huge for me. It still is. My sister, Deb (who writes and illustrates under the name of Debbie Ridpath-Ohi) is my guru for all things internet. Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend is dedicated to my first Great Nephew, Ian who is truly a bundle of joy.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I do have a website where I post preliminary work sketches, my portfolio, and news that made me happy. It’s also where you can find a listing of my upcoming public events, info about booking visits, activity sheets and everything you will ever need to know about my books. Hm, except where to buy them, what their ISBNs are…okay, my website needs work! I’ve also just joined Instagram where I’ll be posting personal illustration and story projects.

Oh, and I’ve made two booktrailers for “Fox and Squirrel Make a Friend”! The first is only 21 seconds and is the result of my experimenting with stop motion photography. The Second is 56 seconds and includes a snippet of a live drawing demo. I’m the one filming the live demo—it’s truly tricky drawing and taping at the same time! Both trailers can be found on my website and YouTube.


What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

Just doing the work—writing, revising, scribbling, painting. Finding the perfect balance between the words and the drawings. But I honestly don’t think a picture book really comes into being until a reader finds it. Seeing or hearing about someone who enjoys the book—that’s an incredible source of pleasure for me.

Seeing students use my books or brainstorming tips for their own stories and pictures is super awesome. One of the greatest letters I’ve ever received was after a presentation from a young child, which read:
“Now I love to right.”

Clara and the Bossy by Ruth OhiIf you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

In the summers, as a teen, I’ve worked as a florist, a daycamp counselor, a city special events co-ordinator. As an adult I’ve been fortunate enough to illustrate and write full time. If I wasn’t an author/illustrator, I’d very much love to work with young people in the creative arts.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I have enjoyed presenting to many schools, libraries, conferences and family festivals across Canada. It’s definitely one of my favourite aspects of this job—sharing words and pictures with adults and kids. And my presentations are easily adapted to suit any age group.I'd Know You Anywhere

Presentations typically include a digital slideshow demonstrating where I get my ideas from. I show character sketches, storyboards and how I draw to brainstorm new ideas. Also included are Q&A, some original artwork and an interactive drawing demonstration. The last 10-15 minutes may be a hands on workshop where participants are very keen to try a brainstorming activity that I tailor especially for that audience. I enjoy speaking one on one to as many as possible about their work during this time. Typically a school or library visit is 45-60 minutes. A maximum audience size of 120 works well for JK/SK through Grade 8. Numbers may increase for older audiences.

Meet Author Laura Thomas

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Storytime Standouts introduces Laura Thomas AuthorLaura is married to her high school sweetheart, has three wonderful children, and an adorable English bulldog. Born and raised in England and Wales, she immigrated to Canada in her mid-twenties, and now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, where her authoring dreams have become a reality.

After completing thirteen years of home schooling her children, she is now able to focus on writing, and treasures the privilege of sharing her heart in the form of her published Christian teen fiction novels Tears to Dancing (2012) and Tears of a Princess (2013), numerous short stories and articles published in children’s magazines and online, her recently published marriage book Pearls for the Bride, and on her blog. Laura’s strongest desire is to provide wholesome reading for children, challenging books for teens, and encouragement as well as entertainment for her adult readers.





Twitter account: @Laura_Thomas_
Facebook page
Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Tears of a Princess by Laura ThomasMy latest published children’s book is a Christian teen fiction novel, Tears of a Princess. It was published last year as the sequel to Tears to Dancing, and I’m currently finishing the third book in the series, Tears, Fears and Fame. As you might guess from the titles, these books are rather emotionally charged! They are written for female readers aged eleven-plus, and press into some topical issues for teen girls, always offering hope amidst challenges and tragedies. I have thoroughly enjoyed creating believable, vulnerable characters, and have been incredibly encouraged by readers requesting sequels— that’s the best complement!

Tears Of A Princess at Amazon.com

Tears of A Princess at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

As a child, I was a total bookworm, and my favorite book was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. She brought the characters of all four sisters to life, and I particularly resonated with this, as I am one of four girls! Even though I had no grand illusions of being an author back then, and I was more of a reader than a writer, there was something incredibly inspirational about the sister Jo. In the story when Jo’s book was finally published, Alcott showed all her readers (especially girls!) that we should never underestimate ourselves, and that we can accomplish even our widest dreams. I am proof of that, as being an author was my pie-in-the-sky, all-out crazy dream!

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

I have never met an author who found it easy getting their first book published. I started out writing short stories for children’s magazines, and the rejection was unbearable at first. In time, I learnt to develop a slightly thicker skin, and practiced the art of sending a story off and forgetting about it, rather than constantly fretting over it. My first novel took several attempts until it found my current publisher, Dancing With Bear Publishing. I can’t begin to explain how excited I was to receive an acceptance email— I had to re-read it several times, as I was so used to reading the rejections, and I’m pretty sure I stopped breathing for way too long! I still have numerous manuscripts out with potential publishers— picture books, middle grade, even Christian romantic suspense. Originally, I desperately wanted to be a Beatrix Potter clone and write purely adorable picture books, but here I am with teen fiction novels published. I would encourage aspiring writers to avoid boxing themselves into a specific genre— spread the net wide, don’t give up hope, and just keep writing.Tears to Dancing by Laura Thomas

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

To be honest, I was not that child who wrote essays for fun and penned wannabe books at the age of seven. I adored reading, and somewhere deep inside I dreamed of writing a children’s picture book one day, but I buried that secret desire for many years. It wasn’t until 2006 when I was having a coffee date with my husband, that I exposed my secret dream. He urged me to start the ball rolling right away (even though I was homeschooling my kids and volunteering and had zero spare time), so I enrolled with the Institute of Children’s Literature to take a correspondence course. I knew right away I had found my sweet spot, and haven’t looked back since. My husband has been my encourager, supporter, and number one fan every step of the way, and thanks to him I have been able to pursue my passion. What a guy!

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

If you watched me working on a book, you would probably be amazed at how bad my typing is! I am painfully slow for a “real writer”, but I always say it’s the speed my brain churns out the words, so it works perfectly for me! I like to work at my desk in my study, which is the only room where I can enjoy some hot pink accents (I live with all boys!) I start a novel with a chapter outline before diving into the actual writing, and I enjoy having some visual inspiration on Pinterest. Once I have written the whole story, I go back and revise and edit and add chunks and get rid of the stuff that doesn’t make sense— a somewhat painful yet rewarding process. Lastly, I send it off and wait to see if anyone else thinks it’s wonderful and worth publishing.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

Being an author is rather surreal. Weird hours, poor income, wild imagination. But that moment you see your name on a shiny book cover containing words you wrote— it’s absolutely priceless. All writing is a joy to me. I love writing for little children, curious middle graders, searching teens, and for adults like myself journeying through life. I love that I can share my faith in written form, to weave it into novels or mold it into good morals in a young child’s short story, or encourage readers in my blog. A writer’s life is an unpredictable, exciting, sometimes tumultuous privilege, and I intend to live it to the fullest for as long as I am able.

Do you do school or library presentations?

I gave a school presentation with Raise A Reader, where I presented my first book Tears to Dancing, described my writing journey, and held a Q & A session with grade 5’s. I have also held book-signing events in various locations in the Okanagan Valley, B.C. but would be willing to go further afield.

-

Meet Young Adult Lit Author Catherine Egan

Posted on August 21st, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Author Catherine EganCatherine Egan grew up in Vancouver, Canada. She thinks it is a glorious city and there is no good reason ever to leave but, she left anyway. Since then she has lived on a wee volcanic Japanese island (which erupted during her time there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now-husband), Tokyo, Kyoto, Beijing, an oil rig in the middle of the Bohai Bay (she still misses her little bedroom there), New Jersey, and now Connecticut, where she writes books and hangs out with her kids.

Shade and Sorceress won a 2013 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award (Gold) in the Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. It was also named an Ontario Library Association Best Bet for 2012 in the Young Adult Fiction category.




Author website

Author Facebook page

Author Twitter @byCatherineEgan

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star by Catherine EganBone, Fog, Ash & Star is the third and final book in The Last Days of Tian Di series. It will be published by Coteau Books on September 1, 2014. The trilogy follows my hero Eliza from the age of twelve in the first book, when she is kidnapped by magical beings who want to train her to be a Sorceress, to the age of sixteen, when she sets out on an impossible quest to gather four ancient objects in the hope of saving her loved ones and changing the world.

As for who should read it: certainly anyone who has read the first two books – you want to know how it all ends, don’t you? It is a fast-paced adventure that should appeal to fantasy-readers from the age of around ten and up. I am most proud of my villain, the mostly-evil-but-sometimes-not Sorceress Nia – and perhaps more generally the ambiguity surrounding the ideas of villain and hero in the story.

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 3 at Amazon.com

Bone, Fog, Ash & Star: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 3 at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

There are too many favourites and resonances to name here, but I think the first time I was really aware of an author’s writing and how the style, the descriptions, the insights and turns-of-phrase could draw me in as much as the plot was when I read Louise Fitzhugh’s The Long Secret. I was eleven, and it changed my idea of how I wanted to write, or what it might mean to write a book. I wouldn’t have used the word genius then, but I think I was experiencing a brush with it, and it gave me shivers. It was also a very unsettling, uncomfortable read for me, because I recognized so much of my own childhood anger and self-absorption in Beth Ellen and Harriet.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

Once I knew that books were written by human beings, that was the sort of human I wanted to be. I wrote my first novel when I was six years old. It was about a bunch of kids who lived on a farm (I had never been to a farm) and ran races. The heroine was called Cathy, and every chapter ended thusly: “Cathy won the race again!” I showed my book to my grandmother, who had been married to a writer. She read it very seriously, and told me it was a good first draft.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?The Unmaking by Catherine Egan

The writing itself is a tremendous joy. I have occasionally felt a bit insecure about how much I enjoy it, having come across so many quotations by famous, brilliant writers describing writing as torturous. I wondered if my enjoyment of it might be an indication of my mediocrity, but now that I am a little older, I don’t care. It is frustrating when a story isn’t clicking, or when I feel that I am writing badly or stupidly, but all the same, there is nothing I like better than thinking of stories and writing them down.

If you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

Shade and Soceress by Catherine EganI have no talent at all for anything else, and no real desire to do anything else, but I have of course had a number of jobs. I taught ESL for many years. I don’t think I was a very good teacher, but I really enjoyed meeting so many interesting people from all walks of life, and it was a great way to support myself while living abroad. The job I think of the most fondly, however, was my stint as a waitress in a sushi restaurant. Waitressing goes very well with writing. You sit at a desk alone and write during the day, and then in the evening you are up on your feet, rushing around and talking with people. It gives you the human interaction that I think writers really need so that they don’t go crazy. I miss the people, and I miss the sushi.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Nancy Mitford. Or maybe Oscar Wilde. Imagine dinner with Oscar Wilde! That’s probably a very unoriginal answer, but both of them had a reputation for social brilliance as well as literary genius, and if I’m going to have dinner with someone, I want to laugh a lot.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I am open to doing school or library presentations but I live in New Haven, CT with small children and so my availability is limited.

Meet Author Karen Autio

Posted on August 15th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Storytime Standouts interviews author Karen AutioAfter growing up horse-crazy and book-loving in Nipigon, Ontario, Canada, Karen Autio now lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, only a little less horse-crazy and far more book-loving. Karen graduated from the University of Waterloo and worked as a software developer for several years, then decided to pursue her long held dream of writing for children. She signed up for a “Writing Fiction for Children” course at the local college, joined a writers’ group, and began writing—and re-writing—her stories.



Karen is the author of a trilogy of historical novels for readers ages 10 and up: Second Watch, Saara’s Passage, and Sabotage. She loves to interact with students, sharing her journey to becoming an author and her passion for research and the resulting “jigsaw puzzle” of transforming historical facts into a fascinating story.

Author website

Author Facebook page

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Sabotage by Karen AutioSabotage, enemy aliens, paranoia, and German spies… in Canada? Sabotage is the third book in my trilogy of Canadian historical novels for young readers (all standalone reads) in which the courage and wits of siblings Saara and John Mäki are put to the test. The trilogy tells the adventures and mishaps of this Finnish-immigrant family living in Port Arthur (now part of Thunder Bay), Ontario, in 1914-15. From travelling on the palatial but doomed Empress of Ireland steamship, to tuberculosis sanatoriums, to the compelling untold stories of the home front in Canada during the First World War, these books bring history to life. Readers discover both how much has changed since the early 1900s and what remains timeless, such as fickle friends, new-immigrant experiences, the struggle to do the right thing, and family dynamics.

Sabotage is suitable for any age of reader from grade 4 up and is of equal interest to boys and girls. Partly that’s due to the story being told by both Saara and her younger brother John, in alternating chapters. I’m delighted that through doing research I learned the truth behind what I thought was a made-up story I’d heard growing up in Nipigon, Ontario. There actually were German agents at work in my hometown in 1915 plotting to destroy the Canadian Pacific Railway bridge.

Sabotage is a 2014 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Juvenile/YA Crime Book Finalist and is shortlisted for the 2015 Manitoba Young Readers’ Choice Award.

Sabotage at Amazon.com

Sabotage at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Rosemary Sutcliff. Her historical novels drew me into their time periods. The characters and settings seemed so real, I felt like I was living the story. After immersing myself in one of her books for several chapters, I’d look around me, puzzled. Where am I? In particular I remember enjoying The Eagle of The Ninth and The Lantern Bearers. I’m not surprised that her writing resonated with me because of how historical fiction has become my favourite genre to read and write.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?Second Watch by Karen Autio

Two experiences come to mind. At a recent presentation to elementary school students in an Ottawa public library, the majority of them had read my book Second Watch in which my characters are involved in the Empress of Ireland shipwreck. After my presentation, a boy handed me a piece of paper. He’d been so affected by the story and the tragedy, that he’d written and illustrated a poem for me about the Empress of Ireland. What a special gift.

The other experience resulted from my presentation in a school where I did a reading from Second Watch. Afterward, the librarian told me a student who hated reading informed her he just had to get my book and read it. A couple of weeks later I received an email from the librarian saying the boy’s attitude had changed from hating reading to “I can read this!” What an honour to have been part of that transformation.

How do you stay connected with your readers?

I have a website and an author Facebook page where I regularly post information relevant to children’s book publishing and writing, my book news, and photos from my book tours. I’ve had the privilege of going on several book tours, in B.C., Alberta, and Ontario. I love meeting readers whether at school or library presentations or at signings in bookstores or at book clubs. My grade 5 student editors for Saara’s Passage became friends with me on Facebook and I still keep in touch with them that way (both just graduated from high school). Whenever a reader emails me, I’m happy to reply.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

There is certainly joy and satisfaction in the writing, but I’d say my greatest pleasure as an author is to hear from readers about how they’ve connected with my characters and stories. One of my favourite emails from a young reader included her describing my books as “real page turners” and then sharing her response to my character Saara: “I think we would be friends if she was real.” Also, it’s such a delight whenever my books and presentations inspire writers of all ages and get kids reading who were reluctant or infrequent readers.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

As a kid, my future dream job alternated between children’s book illustrator and jockey! Although I still enjoy drawing, writing has become my passion. And before entering high school I’d already grown too tall to be a jockey. For several years I worked as a software developer, and since 2004 when I’m not busy writing I’m editing other writers’ manuscripts as a freelance copyeditor.

Saara's Passage by Karen AutioDo you do school or library presentations?

I welcome the opportunity to present to intermediate students in schools and libraries across Canada. I love sharing my passion for researching history and writing historical fiction, and talking about the writing process. During my 60-minute interactive presentation, I:
• engage students in Canadian history with a lively, visually appealing presentation
• spark enthusiasm for writing
• focus on the immigrant experience with curricular tie-ins
• read a brief excerpt from one of my books
• reveal how family stories inspired me to write novels
• unravel the process of publishing and book design
• include time for students to ask questions

Teacher resources are available for all of my historical novels and can be downloaded from my website. For more information, please visit www.karenautio.com/SchoolVisits.html
and www.facebook.com/KarenAutioAuthor

Meet Author Lana Button

Posted on August 7th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Storytime Standouts interviews author Lana ButtonLana Button is a children’s author, freelance writer and early childhood educator. She has enjoyed working with young children for over twenty five years. As a freelance writer, Lana has contributed to national magazines including Today’s Parent and Parents Canada. But Lana’s passion is picture books! Her first picture book, Willow’s Whispers (Kids Can Press, 2010) was nominated for a Blue Spruce Award, and a Shining Willow Award. Both the Canadian Children’s Book Centre and the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee listed it as a ‘Best Book for Kids’. It was also listed as an Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities IBBY winner.



Lana’s picture book, Willow Finds a Way (Kids Can Press, 2012) was a Blue Spruce Award finalist, a Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Best Book” and was listed on Publisher’s Weekly’s ‘Bullying Resources: A Selected Listing’. Most recently, Willow Finds a Way has been shortlisted for the Rainforest of Reading Award.

Twitter account @LanaButton
Author Facebook Page
Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Lana Button's Picture Book Willow Finds a WayWillow Finds a Way is the second book about Willow, who is the quietest child in the class. The story, which is intended for children from pre-k through primary grades, begins when Kristabelle comes to class with a list of all the children invited to her birthday party. Everyone is invited! But in order to stay on Kristabelle’s birthday list, the children must follow her every command. Willow struggles to find a way to stand up for her friends and speak up to Kristabelle. In the end Willow discovers that actions sometimes speak louder than words!

I am so very proud that Willow Finds a Way has been recognized as an anti-bullying book. Although the terms ‘bullying’ and ‘bystander’ are never used within the story, it was my hope that it would spark this type of conversation!

Read our post about Willow Finds a Way

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.com

Willow Finds a Way at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

I submitted and resubmitted my Willow’s Whispers manuscript for 6 years before finding an editor who was willing to work with me. So my strongest word of advice is- Don’t give up! And also keep in mind that ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no forever’ it just means ‘no, for right now’.Lana Button's picture book Willow's Whispers

I recommend to any aspiring author struggling to get that story published to find ways to get other material published, whether that be a short story in a children’s magazine or a freelance article for a magazine or local newspaper. Editors are more likely to take a chance on you if you’ve been published elsewhere before.

Writing groups and organizations can also be very helpful. I found lots of inspiration and great practical advice from the CAINSCAIP organization (check them out at www.canscaip.org) when I first started out and I still look forward to their terrific Packaging Your Imagination Workshop in Toronto every fall.

Read our post about Willow’s Whispers

Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.com

Willow’s Whispers at Amazon.ca

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

The best feedback I’ve had from my books have been conversations children have had with each other! After hearing Willow Finds a Way, a group of girls were overheard in the playground making a pact that they would be “Willows” and not be “Kristabelles”.

And at a different school a young girl nudged in front of another girl so she could be first in line. A third little girl was overheard saying, “Hey, don’t push in front of her! She hasn’t had a turn to be line leader yet. Don’t be a ‘Kristabelle’!”

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I visit children and read my books whenever the opportunity presents itself! It is one of my greatest joys!! I have visited many bookstores and libraries, and jump at the chance to visit classrooms. Scheduling weekday classroom visits has been a challenge lately, as I am currently in my own kindergarten classroom as an Early Childhood Educator, but I have made room for a few visits each school year, and have scheduled evening visits during school ‘open houses’. My favorite is when we schedule a ‘pajama party’ evening where everyone (including myself!) comes to school with pajamas and cuddly toys and we gather in the library for a story time chat!

I schedule book tours during the summer months whenever possible, and have toured throughout Ontario, into the Maritime Provinces and in different parts of the United States. I also love connecting with students and teachers through Facebook and Twitter.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

To be able to read my story aloud to a child is my greatest accomplishment. To know that the stories have inspired others is my greatest joy! I have been so fortunate to talk with children, parents and teachers who share their experiences regarding their personal challenges in finding their own voice, or helping a child find their voice. To hear that Willow has given others inspiration to dig a little deeper, take a brave breath, and speak out for themselves has filled me with overwhelming joy!

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I have been so very fortunate to actually meet some of my favorite Canadian children’s authors over the past few years. I found myself completely tongue tied when coming face-to-face with Paulette Bourgeois (author of the Franklin series) and was totally awestruck when trying to discuss the weather with the incredible Barbara Reid!

If I could dine with any author, it would probably be Maurice Sendak, as his Where the Wild Things Are is my all-time favorite picture book. I’d love to hear all about how he came up with such incredible characters and how he managed to create such a rich and vivid story with so few words!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I love doing presentations!! During my 45-minute presentation I discuss the unique writing process involved in creating a picture book. I read both books and discuss the importance of speaking up and speaking out. Both books are strongly based on empathy and self-assurance and I open us discussion around ‘the bully’, ‘the bullied’, and ‘the bystander’. I live in Southern Ontario (Canada), but have presented across Ontario and into the Maritime provinces. You can contact me through my website for more information.

Meet Author Karen Scheuer

Posted on July 24th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Meet Author Karen ScheuerKaren Scheuer is a wife, mother, and teacher. She lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and has been married to her high-school sweetheart for 29 years. The author and her husband have a 23-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son. She enjoys calligraphy, knitting, making jewelry, traveling, reading, and never turns down an offer to dine out. She currently teaches second grade in the Council Rock School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Karen knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was four years old. When she was in high school, she wrote her first children’s book. She hopes to publish that book someday too. She has been teaching elementary-aged children for 25 years.

Twitter account @KarenScheuer1

Facebook page

Author Website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

A Bug and a Wish by Karen ScheuerMy book is about teasing and bullying. Here is the summary:

When Tyler is teased by the other boys, his good friend, Danae, encourages him to give the boys A Bug and a Wish. When Tyler finds a ladybug and a dandelion seed, he is convinced that this is what Danae means. As his friend helps him learn the true meaning of her advice, Tyler soon discovers the solution to his problem.

This book teaches kids to use the “bug and a wish concept.” This subject is dear to my heart because bullying affects how children view themselves. When they view themselves poorly, it can then affect their schoolwork and home life. I hope my book, A Bug and a Wish, will help children stand up for themselves, and encourage bystanders to get involved. It’s a great read aloud for teachers to get their students to discuss this subject. It’s also a good book to read at the beginning of the school year.

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.com

A Bug and a Wish at Amazon.ca

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I actually wrote my first children’s book in high school when I was in a “future educator” class. I am hoping to publish that book next. My husband, Bob, has encouraged me and supported me, and he is the one who suggested I should publish the book I wrote in high school, next.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

The students in my class knew I was in the process of publishing a book this school year. I would update them when I received the illustrations, or when the cover was ready, etc. When I finally brought the finished book into school, I started to read it to them. I showed them the dedication page, and asked what authors put on that page. (I was trying to present the book as a teaching lesson). The students were all wide-eyed, but one student just put his hands on his cheeks, and excitedly screamed, “Just read it already!” It was so cute.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

Since this is my first children’s book, I haven’t gone on book tours yet, but I definitely want to. I did my first ever Meet and Greet book signing at a Book shop in Peddler’s Village, Bucks County, PA, on June 14th, and I was very excited. I have a Facebook page dedicated to my book, and people have posted photos of kids reading the book, and one of my friends even posted a photo of tea towels she sewed for my book signing.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

Something unbelievable happened with my book. My son and daughter’s names are the names of the characters in the book. In the story, Tyler finds a ladybug, and puts it in his pocket because he thinks this is what Danae means by “A bug”. The day AFTER my son, Tyler, read the book, a ladybug landed on his hand! This has never happened to him in his life. He quickly took a photo of it, and sent it to me. I actually thought it was a “God thing,” and I that it was so cool!

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I would LOVE to do school library presentations, but I am currently a classroom teacher, so I cannot do that at this time. My goal is to retire from teaching in a couple years, have two published books, and then travel to schools to read my books to kids! I would definitely be interested in doing library presentations in the summer months. I live in Bucks County, PA.

The Name of your publisher Strategic Book Publishers

Meet Author Jacqueline Guest

Posted on July 17th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Storytime Standouts interviews author Jacqueline Guest Jacqueline Guest is an international award winning author with eighteen published novels. She has presented across Canada and in the United States to audiences of all ages including the University of Calgary; Manitoba Association of Teachers of English; Alberta Association of Library Technicians; MASC Conference Ottawa; University of Victoria; Cultural Diversity Institute North Central Teachers Association; Young Alberta Book Society; Wordsworth Writing Camp; Dreamcatcher Aboriginal Conferences; Saskatoon Reading Council Teachers Conference; Batoche Historical Site; the Edmonton Young Offenders Centre; Mamawenig; Back to Batoche Days; Fort Calgary’s Metis Cultural Festival, the American Indian Library Association, plus a host of other conferences and engagements. Jacqueline is the current Creator in Residence for the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. She has been Writer in Residence for the Marigold Library System and is the proud recipient of the 2013 Indspire Award for the Arts. With her experience in writing, editing, promotion, touring and the business aspects of being a writer, Jacqueline feels sharing her expertise can help new authors achieve their goals faster and with better results.

Twitter account @JacquelineGuest

Author website

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

The Comic Book War by Jacqueline GuestThe Comic Book War is a great novel for readers of all ages. It tells the story of how one teenaged boy discovers a cosmic link between his comic book superheroes and his three brothers fighting overseas in WW2. It all starts when a meteorite falls from space in front of his eyes and he is able to find it…

This novel will make you believe in ‘What if?’, the biggest question in the universe. What if cosmic links do exist? What if we are all connected? What if we can tap into those connections to protect our loved ones?

This story is more than a coming of age novel, it shows us how we all cope with stress in different ways.

The Comic Book War at Amazon.com

The Comic Book War at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Mark Twain was, is and always will be my favorite author. I have many other stars on my book shelves too numerous to mention, but Twain’s stories continue to entertain and resonate with me even after all these years.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

First books are always hard, but don’t give up! Learning to write at a professional level is just like learning how to perform an athletic event at an Olympic level – it takes years of practice and dedication to achieve your goal, but it is so worth it. We will always need new books to inspire and entertain, and new writers coming up now will provide those wonderful books.

Outcasts of River Falls by Jacqueline GuestWhen did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but was afraid to say it out loud when I was growing up in case I was ridiculed. After all, published authors don’t come from a small village like Turner Valley, Alberta, they come from New York, or Toronto, or Vancouver- big cities with fancy schools. Well, I’m here to tell you, authors do come from small towns everywhere and you don’t need an agent or fancy letters after your name. You just have to believe- and be willing to pay your dues.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

Writing a novel is like running a marathon. It is hours of grueling practice, then many more hours honing your skills, and finally putting all that practice to work as you sit in front of your computer for hours on end, creating a world where not only your characters can live, but your readers too. I sit for long hours writing, oblivious to everything around me, eating chips with one hand while the other hand juggles a cup of tea as I pound on the keys. It’s not magic, it’s hard work. ;)

I call the room where I write a ‘Scriptorium’, (I even have a sign on the door!). People who have 9-5 jobs work in an ‘office’; a writer doesn’t have such nice tidy hours, which is why I like ‘scriptorium’ better.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?Rink Rivals by Jacqueline Guest

One of the coolest experiences I have had was working at a First Nation’s school when a young boy in Grade 5 came up to me and told me he read Rink Rivals, a hockey novel about twin boys who scrap on the ice and off. I said that was great, and he became excited, telling me he read all the pages, right to the end and he was going to read another book now and that it was the first book he had ever read in his entire life! That was the ultimate compliment.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I love travelling to share my excitement about reading with students everywhere. To see a student’s excitement when they tell me about one of my books that they are reading and how the characters are so real, the adventure so exciting and the story so compelling, now, that’s worth the time, expense, long hours and effort. I wish I was better at social media and keeping my website up to date, but I’m not a tech type, and if anyone out there would like to work on my website for me, let me know!!!

If you weren’t an author / illustrator, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I have worked every job under the sun to support my writing habit: house cleaner, retail clerk, waitress, day care worker, core analyst in the oil industry and about a million more jobs I shudder to remember. I know how fortunate I am to have this dream job of being a writer.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I would pay to dine with Mark Twain. Not only handsome, but the most talented writer ever!

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

When I write, it has to be absolutely quiet. No music, no TV, no distractions. (I even shut the chimes off on my wall clock because it was driving me nuts!)

Do you do school or library presentations?

I travel extensively to schools and libraries everywhere. I recently was at two schools in Tanzania while there volunteering to teach an adult writing class. I have various presentations geared to tandem with curriculums. Here’s some information:

Belle of Batoche by Jacqueline GuestThe Era of the Fur Trade explores Canada’s past with a session that includes over fifty artifacts such as beaver pelts, bone fishing hooks, horn sewing needles, plus we learn the uses of the Metis Sash, and the laws for the buffalo hunt. It is very interactive with students from the audience assisting me as we paddle down the river with our canoe laden with furs or demonstrating how old fashioned aboriginal toys worked. Belle of Batoche and Outcasts of River Falls are great companion reads for this session.

Dinosaurs! This is geared for students in Kindergarten and grade one/two who dig dinosaurs. The PPT session includes fossils of bones, trees, dino poop and an actual dinosaur egg and comes complete with a coloring handout.

Ghost Messages: A Voyage with the Author, a sixty minute PPT session, tandems with my novel Ghost Messages and deals with laying the transatlantic cable in 1865,an event which changed the world for all time because it changed the way we communicate. Those texters in the audience need to know how this communication explosion we live in today started. Students see an actual piece of the first transatlantic cable, plus students can win a prize by decoding and answering a secret Morse Code question.

The Comic Book War: WW2, Meteorites and Comic Book Superheroes involves my new novel The Comic Book War. Students learn about the home front war effort including savings stamps, rationing, victory gardens and a host of other helpful facts. Plus, we explore the possibility that we are all connected on a cosmic level. Could a meteorite found by our hero connect comic book super heroes here in Canada with three soldiers fighting overseas? ‘What if?’ the most powerful question in the universe!

Jacqueline Guest’s books are published by Coteau Books, Orca Book Publishers and James Lorimer and Company. She also works with Scholastic, Pearson Canada and Rubicon for short stories and levelled reading.

Meet Author Aldo Fynn

Posted on July 10th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Aldo Fynn enjoys writing wacky, fantastical stories. Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer is his debut novel. It’s the first book in the Adventures of Prince Iggy Series. He’s also written two wacky, laugh-out-loud picture books. He lives under his desk and promises he won’t come out until Book 3 in the series is complete. Which is a shame because his desk is based in Los Angeles, where it’s sunny and 70 degrees most of the year.

Twitter account – @AldoFynn

Facebook page

Author Website

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer written by Aldo FynnTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer is an over the top-fantasy adventure where a lost-now-found prince learns that believing in himself pays off when battling evil bullies. It’s a quirky and fast paced story with 30+ black and white illustrations ideal for middle grade readers (ages 8+) and adults looking for a different kind of hero.

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer (The Adventures of Prince Iggy) at Amazon.com

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer (The Adventures of Prince Iggy) at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Mark Twain. Because he’s one of literature’s greatest humorist.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

Staying focused and finishing the work.

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?Waldo Battles the Fly by Aldo Fynn

All my books have actually been published electronically first. Since I’ve partnered with a small-indie press, we decided that going digital first would enable the books to get to readers more quickly. BOA Press has internal resources to produce the digital format whereas as print production required working with third parties. The feedback I have received on the e-book format and illustrations has been very positive. Some of my readers still rely on print so we planned for that once digital was completed. There is something special about holding a book in your hands with your name on the cover.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

Again Mark Twain because his life was as colorful as his books.

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Music is a big part of my life. I listen to music everyday before and after I start a writing session. I listen to everything from classical to electronica to jazz.

Meet Author Elizabeth MacLeod

Posted on July 3rd, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Author Elizabeth MacLeodElizabeth MacLeod is one nosy author, which is why she loves writing non-fiction. She’s very curious about why people do what they do, and she likes sharing with kids the amazing facts and secrets she uncovers.





As a kid in Thornhill, Ontario, the idea of being a writer never crossed her mind — she figured most authors were already dead and they definitely weren’t Canadian. Besides, it was science that interested her.

But writing was already part of her life. After dinner on school nights, she and her two brothers would trudge up to their rooms, close their doors and start to do their homework — or so their parents thought. A few minutes later, a piece of paper would come sliding under her door. One of her brothers had drawn a picture, usually of some weird creature.

She really couldn’t draw (she still can’t!), so the only way she could respond was to write a short story, often about a mad scientist or space alien. she’d slip the story under her brother’s door and — well, not a lot of homework got done.

At university, she studied sciences — there was hardly any writing involved at all. After she graduated she had a number of jobs, but none of them had anything to do with writing. She wanted to be an author but she was too scared to admit it to anyone, especially herself. However, one day she gathered up her courage, phoned a newspaper and sold an article she’d written. Wow!

Soon after this she attended a publishing workshop in Banff, Alberta, which led her to a job as an editor at OWL magazine. After a few years she switched to book publishing and became an editor at Kids Can Press. Meanwhile, in her spare time she began writing non-fiction books for kids. Then she became a part-time editor and writer. Now she’s a full-time writer, working for a number of different publishers.

One of the things she especially likes about writing for kids is that she gets to investigate so many interesting topics. She’s written articles or books on subjects such as weird breeds of dogs, Marie Curie, hoaxes, the northern lights and many, many more. Did you know that some dinosaurs were as small as chickens? Or that Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, got tired of having his work interrupted by his invention?

She’s written many biographies about such people as Helen Keller, Albert Einstein and Samuel de Champlain. One of her favourite things is discovering how inventors and writers come up with their ideas. She’s written a series of biographies for readers ages 6 to 8, and one for kids aged 8 to 12.

More recently she’s written about royalty, and the mysteries and crimes that surround them. Monarchy has always fascinated her. She loves going behind the scenes with monarchs from Cleopatra to Dracula to find out just what they would do to hold onto power or protect their families. These books have also let her research forensic techniques, ranging from DNA testing to crime-scene procedures.

Secrets Underground North Americas Buried Past written by Elizabeth MacLeodTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past is for readers age 10 and up. This is a great book for anyone who likes spine-tingling mysteries and eerie surprises! I think kids will be amazed to read about these buried secrets, including the top-secret equipment that lies deep below Grand Central Terminal in New York City and the network of abandoned tunnels below Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

The book also tells about the ships that were abandoned in San Francisco harbor during the Gold Rush. I travelled to the city and found numerous plaques and displays about the forgotten, buried ships. Many people who lived in San Francisco knew nothing about the ships but I’m proud of the fact that I was able to track them down.

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past at Amazon,com

Secrets Underground: North America’s Buried Past at Amazon.ca

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

I’ve had a different writing career from most other writers. I started as an editor at OWL Magazine, so I was on the inside of the publishing world from the beginning. The first few books I published were books that publishers asked me to write.

It can be really tough to get a publisher to accept a book proposal so I’d suggest aspiring authors prepare themselves as much as possible. Colleges and universities offer great writing courses, and so do organizations such as CANSCAIP and SCBWI. These are wonderful opportunities to meet other writers, have your proposal assessed by an expert and improve your writing.

I think it’s important for all authors, aspiring and published, to remember to never give up. If you really believe in a book idea but a publisher turns it down, revise the proposal as necessary, then send it out to another publisher. From being on the inside of the publishing world, I know there are lots of reasons why one publisher will turn down a book idea that will work very well for another publisher.

If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like?

I work at a large desk with a keyboard and good-sized computer monitor. I’ve got piles of papers and books, as well as a ceramic vase full of pens, a pewter pot holding paper clips, a grapefruit-scented candle (I read somewhere it helps with creativity) and a few other bits and pieces.

But you probably wouldn’t notice any of these things because you’d likely be focusing on our cat Cosimo. While I work, he’s usually stretched out under my desk lamp. Even on the hottest summer day, he seems to like the warmth!

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?

In my presentations, I ask a lot of questions, so you’d think I’d be used to receiving some amazing answers, but kids always surprise me. I was talking once about the biographies I’ve written and telling kids about magician Harry Houdini. One boy shot up his hand and offered to share a magic trick with the group. How could I say no?The Kids Book of Canada at War by Elizabeth MacLeod

I also wrote The Kids Book of Canada at War, so I talk to students about John McCrae (author of the poem In Flanders Fields) and other brave Canadians who served in World War I and II (including my dad). I often get teary-eyed when I think of their courage and kids usually notice this. I wish I weren’t quite so emotional, but then the kids always want to share their stories about relatives who served in wartime. I guess I help them form a connection that makes them proud.

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I’ve taken part in a number of book tours, in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and throughout the Maritimes. I write about such interesting people and topics, so I love sharing the incredible facts I’ve uncovered. I visit classrooms, libraries and bookstores and have also done interviews on radio and television.

If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

I’d choose Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables books. I still re-read those books and I’ve written two biographies about her. Maud (as she liked to be called) had a tough life, so I’d ask her where she found her inspiration. I’d also like to know if she’s surprised that Anne is still so popular, what Maud thinks of all the books written about her and how she feels about Anne’s incredible fame in Japan.

Do you do school or library presentations? If so, please briefly describe topics/ geographical limitations.

I’ve written a series of biographies for first readers as well as a series for 8 to 12 year olds. So I can bring some of the world’s most incredible people to life for kids of many different ages. Kids are drawn into the wonderful stories about these well-known personalities with the many photos and artifacts that I use to illustrate my talks. I ask questions, request opinions, involve students in activities, etc.

Bunny the Brave War Horse by Elizabeth MacLeodFor students up to grade 2 or 3, I can also speak about my latest picture book, Bunny the Brave War Horse (Kids Can Press). This is a World War I story and is based on a real horse and rider. I can talk about the war as well as about horses; I also discuss World War II and show artifacts that belong to my father, who was a navigator with Bomber Command in the Royal Canadian Air Force.

As well, for older students I can look at the mysteries of history and how we’ve used modern technology to solve many of them. Using images and artifacts from my books Secrets Underground, Bones Never Lie and Royal Murder, I look at historic events and show why they matter, how they affect us today and how we can learn more about them. I also explore the forensic techniques used to solve crimes and mysteries and encourage kids to consider how to use deductive reasoning and other investigative methods in their own lives.

I’ve worked as an in-house editor, so as part of my presentation, I can also talk about the publishing process, from initial idea to final book. I discuss the team of people needed to produce a book, and again show artifacts to illustrate the various steps and to involve the audience.

As well, I have given many presentations to adults. One of my most popular talks is about how to get your children’s book published, including writing the best query letters, avoiding first-timers’ mistakes, etc. Since I have worked as an in-house editor, I can provide the view point of both an insider and a freelancer. I’ve also given presentations to many teachers and librarians about why biographies are important (for instance, they’re fun, they make history come alive, they can boost self-esteem and more) and how to interest children in biographies. I can provide handouts to participants for both of these talks.

I live in Toronto and I’m very willing to discuss travelling with anyone who would like me to speak in their classroom or library.

Meet Author Crystal Vaagen

Posted on June 26th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Storytime Standouts' Interview with Author Crystal VaagenCrystal Vaagen is an educator and author of the children’s book, Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero. In her free time, she likes to read French poetry, go on nature hikes, and bake cookies. Her latest project includes writing the second book in the Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero series which will be published this year.





Twitter account: @robbiezero
Facebook page:
Website URL

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
Robbie Zero Supergirl Hero written by Crystal VaagenMy latest published book is Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero. It’s an anti-bullying book and the first published book in the “Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero” series. The book is about a girl, Robbie Zero, who gets constantly picked on by a classmate named Tommy, but when Tommy needs help, it is Robbie Zero who ends up saving the day. It’s a book about turning situations that are negative into something positive and about empowerment. It also delves into the psychology of why some people are bullies. Children of all ages should read it and as well as their parents. It is important to start a conversation about issues that children face at school. What I am most proud of is when my book is read to children in classrooms and they can relate with the characters. I’m also pleased when I hear people tell me how much it meant to read it to their families and how it started a discussion that might not have otherwise taken place.

Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero at Amazon.com

Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?
I have a few authors/illustrators that resonated with me. Peggy Parish (author of Amelia Bedelia) was a favorite in my youth. I always thought her stories were funny because of the constant play on words (i.e. draw the draperies where the phrase was taken literally by Amelia). Looking back, her books were very well-written. Misunderstandings are a part of everyday life and her books allow her readers to get involved, something I try to create with “Robbie Zero” books. One illustrator/writer who I have always admired is Charles Schulz. I’d have to say he’s my all-time favorite. I connected with his work because the themes were adult like, characters didn’t have to talk to make a statement, and there were no adults ever shown, to my knowledge, in any of his comic strips.

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?
The first time I ever wrote anything was in 2nd grade. I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Fields, who allowed us to create. She basically told us that we could put on plays for the class when our work was finished. Inspired, I went home and wrote a small play, grabbed a few classmates to help with the characters, and we put on a fabulous play. I thanked her recently for allowing us to use our imagination, when I happened to met her some 30+ years later.

I wrote my first book when I was nine years old, which I thought was fun. It’s still sitting in a box somewhere. It was about the Lewis and Clark expedition because I was fascinated by how two people could change the face of the nation. It was a small book. In my high school years, I wrote for the school newspaper. After I graduated high school, I ran into my journalism teacher and told her how imperative it is in the real world to know how to write and communicate effectively. She asked me to come back and speak to her class. I never did for some reason. I wish I would have. I kept my writing on the backburner, writing mostly poetry, but decided that there needs to more morally themed children’s books available.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
I have donated Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero to a few schools, especially when I find out that they have limited access and cannot afford them. There was one school in Mobile, AL that received my book. A 5th grade teacher read it to her class and said that some students in her class “wanted to cry because they felt bad” for one of the characters. I didn’t know how to react. The topic of bullying is touchy, but it needs to be discussed. I felt like the story reached her kids, but felt bad that they wanted to cry. It IS a feel good book, after all.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
I like to share my experiences to help others. When you go through things in life, sometimes you wonder, “Why me? Why is this happening?” But when you look back, you realize that it was a lesson learned. This is what I hope to bring to my books, not to necessarily prevent someone from experiencing the issue, but to help them overcome the issue.

Have any of your books been published electronically? If so, what was that process like? What sort of feedback have you had from readers?
Yes, Robbie Zero, Super Girl Hero has been published electronically. The process was easy. Before even writing the book, I watched a video on how to publish it via Amazon, and basically taught myself everything else on other publishing pages. When you have the curiosity to learn, you can do almost anything. The feedback I have received from readers and fans is great. Most people find it easy to download a book on their ipad, iphone or pc. I have been asked by a few people to print my books because there are those who like to actually hold a book. It is something I am still considering, but the demand is not as high as it is for books published digitally, it seems. We’ll see.

Meet Author Illustrator Alisha M. Risen-Kent

Posted on June 20th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Author Illustrator Alisha M Risen-KentAlisha M. Risen-Kent is working toward her BA of Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University. She lives at home with her four children and cat in Texas where she loves working in her garden. Her passions are reading, writing, drawing, and photography and she often creates the artwork for her books.





She is an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons© and she comes up with most of her story ideas from the campaigns she plays in. She also loves Renaissance festivals where she can dress up as the characters she creates. She’s an advocate for conservation efforts, volunteering where she can to help rehabilitate injured animals and she donates to good causes. She is also strong in her faith and she believes that God has a plan for everything.

Author Twitter Account @Skydancer792007
Facebook page
Website

Timber's Gambit by Alisha M. Risen-KentTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
My latest book is about a grey wolf named Timber who decides to leave his pack and find one of his own. On his journey his meets friends, and foes, including an annoying coyote who becomes a priceless friend, an old badger that keeps him from starving, and a she-wolf who completes his pack. During his journey he faces many challenges, including human hunters. After being shot, he is rescued by wolf conservationist who eventually returns him home. While this book, as well as the rest in the Nature’s Guardians series is targeted at children 8-12, readers of all ages can enjoy this coming of age story. Each book contains a section on conservation that talks about where I gathered my information, the current plight of endangered species, such as the American grey wolf, and how readers can help. I have several things I am proud of: One, the illustrations; Two, how I was able to capture the true essence of the wolf while allowing children to “be” the wolf; and Three, the connections I made while doing my research, such as the Wolf Conservation Center.

Timber’s Gambit: A Nature’s Guardian Novel: Book Two at Amazon.com

Timber’s Gambit: A Nature’s Guardian Novel: Book Two at Amazon.ca

When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?
I knew I wanted to be a writer from the moment I could read. Despite the odds, and my family and friends discouraging me, I persevered. I wanted to tell stories and did so whether they had publishing potential or not. In fact, most of my short stories can be found for free on websites like FictionPress.com and DevianArt. Many people have inspired me along the way, to include friends (mostly D&D partners or fellow writers from DeviantArt) and published writers, like Margaret Weis and Stephenie Meyer.

Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
Children are the most interesting people on the planet. They are like sponges that soak up everything around them. When I read to children, I accompany the story with a collectible plush, a wolf in Timber’s case. Children’s eyes light up when they see that animal and are able to associate it with the story. I remember at my first book signing, I had a two year old sitting in the audience. At the time, I was reading my first book, Haji’s Fight for Freedom, and I had a plush falcon that made noise when you squeezed it. That little boy took the falcon and squeezed it the entire time. In the end, I let him keep it.Haji's Flight for Freedom by Alisha M. Risen-Kent

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
I stay connected with my readers in several ways. One: most of them are local. Two: A have a website a website and social media site. I’m also very active on DeviantArt and FictionPress. Three: I make donations for every child who buys a collection set and, since I keep their information, I am able to inform them when new books are available. I also have book signings and readings at schools and libraries.

What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
My biggest enjoyment of being a writer/illustrator is the joy I bring to readers of all ages. That’s why I submit most of my writing on free sites. In my Nature’s Guardians series, it is my goal to do what I can to help conservationist protect our wildlife. My greatest pleasure is being able to make those donations.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
My biggest challenge is finding a publisher or agent. Because of the importance of my topic, I didn’t want to wait to find someone willing to publish my book. However, I am still on the lookout while bringing my books to the most readers I can.

Meet Author and Painter Claudine Gueh Yanting

Posted on June 12th, 2014 by Carolyn Hart

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinrssmail

Claudine Gueh YantingClaudine Gueh writes about children stumbling into the circus at night, rowing out into thrashing streams, and transforming into sea monsters, none of which has physically happened to her. She appreciates characters and stories with layers, written lyrically with a down-to-earth tone. Her favorite children’s literature authors include Karen Hesse and Sharon Creech.

Claudine’s works have been called “gloriously bittersweet,” “brilliantly creative,” and which show “the power of a child’s heart.” They have received 5-star reviews from Readers’ Favorite, and Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble has also been nominated for the Global Ebook Award.

Besides writing and painting, Claudine tutors Korean and Singaporean kids, and blogs about children’s books over at her small, warm house ~ CarryUsOff Books.





Twitter account – @CarryUsOffBooks
Facebook page
Author Website

Little Orchid's Sea Monster Trouble by Claudine Gueh YantingTell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble is a middle-grade story about a girl trying to prove to her Ma that she hasn’t been spouting nonsense – that the Giant Cuttlefish really exists. Yet when she finally meets the giant face-to-face, Little Orchid isn’t brave enough to save it from being killed for dinner. That night, she finds boils all over her body, and her fingers stretched into creature-like arms. With an unexpected storm approaching, and without a proper goodbye to her family, Little Orchid must now leave home and start a new life as the Giant Cuttlefish …

I think mothers should read this. I think daughters should also read it. I hope all children who secretly think they aren’t brave enough, and those who secretly wish they are, will read this, and discover surprising things about themselves.

I’m very proud of how the story has turned out, how Little Orchid’s voice has remained authentic. And I’m proud to include the three paintings (and the cover) I’ve done for this ebook.

Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble at Amazon.com

Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

My sisters and I always had an Enid Blyton book around. It was that sense of imagination and the permission to go on grand adventures and meeting kind or nasty creatures that kept us hooked. We would talk about the stories and play-pretend ~ from fantasy stories to her boarding school series. Enid Blyton played a great part in our childhood!

How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?

I have a website and a blog featuring picture books, middle-grade fiction and picture-quote inspirations, so those two are my main connections with readers. Social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook have also been relatively effective for staying in touch with followers and welcoming potential readers. I recently wrapped up a children’s book giveaway hop and that was refreshing. As for book tours and classroom visits, I haven’t tried them.My Clearest Me by Claudine Gueh Yanting

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

The joy ~ I get to do something I truly love, and this lifetime hasn’t been wasted. The biggest joy is in telling the stories as honestly as I can and hearing how they have stirred something in readers. My greatest pleasure has, for long, been from stories (books, films and recollections from family).

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

Besides being a writer, I am a private tutor in Singapore. I teach English to local and Korean kids. If I weren’t any of those, I’d like to be a detective seeking justice for children. (Yea, I’m a bit of a crime show-fan.)

Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

Oh yes, I love having a bit of music around when I write or paint. It’s either contemporary piano pieces or acoustic folk music.

More News

Storytime Standouts shares quotes from Children's Books including Gypsy

Storytime Standouts shares quotes from Children's Books Including Mary Poppins

Storytime Standouts shares quotes from wonderful children's books including Vera B. Williams

Storytime Standouts shares quotes of children's books including The Cricket in Times Square

Storytime Standouts shares quotes of children's books including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all." - Jackie Kennedy

Oh, magic hour when a child first knows she can read printed words!

Storytime Standouts shares quotes from children's books including Treasure Island

She-turned-to-the-sunlight-And-shook-her-yellow-head,And-whispered-to-her-neighbor Winter-is-dead

Learning the Alphabet

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia Lam

Awake Beautiful Child written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Gracia ...

Classic Picture Book: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom written by Bill Martin Jr. and ...

Alphabet Recognition Game for Preschool

[caption id="attachment_16404" align="alignleft" width="300"] Diecuts With A View Alphabet Scrapbook ...

Phonemic Awareness

Storytime Standouts Tips for Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Storytime Standouts Tips for Getting Ready to Read While in the Car

Some of the keys to learning to read are noticing ...

Developing Phonemic Awareness: How’s Your Nose, Rose?

You won't regret using wordplay to support your child's phonemic ...

Phonemic Awareness – Questions for Your Child (2)

The focus of our last few posts has been phonemic ...

Spring Children's Books, Learning Games and Printables

Spring Themed Picture Books Will Help Young Readers ‘Blossom’

Spring Themed Picture Books Will Help Young Readers ‘Blossom’

Engaging and fun, these three Spring themed picture books feature ...

St. Patrick’s Day Picture Books

For each petal on the shamrock this brings a wish ...

St. Patrick’s Day Fun for Preschool and Kindergarten

Sharing some fun Prek and Kindergarten St. Patrick's Day Learning ...

Translate »