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Author Interviews

 

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We welcome Award-winning Author Donna M McDine to Mymcbooks Blog

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications and her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna has two more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, The Hockey Agony and Powder Monkey. She writes, moms and is the Publicist Intern for The National Writing for Children Center and Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Musing Our Children.

Learn more about Donna at: http://www.donnamcdine.com Sign the guestbook, you’ll receive a FREE e-Book Write What Inspires You: Author Interviews, http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com and http://www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com

Donna McDine, children’s author – interview with Ella Johnson (Mymcbooks Blog)

Interview

What is the last book you read?

 Abithica by Susan Goldsmith – I had the privilege of reading and writing a media release for Ms. Goldsmith’s debut novel due outJune 15, 2011 by Twilight Times Books

What were your earliest memories of writing?

Looking back on it, every September when returning back to school my elementary school teachers would ask us to write about our summer vacation. At first I disliked the same old assignment over and over again, but I eventually started making up stories of my summer which seemed much more exciting.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

As a student I was always encouraged to write and when I thought outside the box of an assignment it came natural to me.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I’ve been working on a historical fiction middle grade manuscript entitled, Images of the Past. I’m finally at the editing stages and I’ve been concentrating the majority of my writing time on this when I’m not working on book marketing for The Golden Pathway.

Synopsis:

Two young girls separated by 200 years, experience similar traumas of unspoken abuse. The long ago occupants find the strength to fight against negative forces with negative results. Will the current day occupants have the same outcome? Images of the Past takes you on a unique journey across time as each attempt to break free from the shared experiences which bind them.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I am the Editor-in-Chief of Guardian Angel Kids Ezine and Publicist for the National Writing for Children Center. I also work as a virtual assistant for International Business Leaders Forum, which is sadly coming to an end with the closing of our office in the United States.

What inspired you to write ‘The Golden Pathway’?

I’ve always been interested in American history and when the opportunity arose to write an outline for a children’s book for an Institute of Children’s Literature assignment I jumped on the chance of the Underground Railroad. Especially, since I live in Rockland County, NY where there is history of the Underground Railroad and the American Revolution.

How did you come up with your characters?

Many times my characters are based on people from my life and are usually a blending of different personalities and traits from each.

How do you react to a bad review?

I’ve been lucky so far and have received only bad review. At first I took it really personal, but my husband told me that not everyone is going to like your style of writing and it has nothing to do with you personally, it’s an opinion and what people prefer.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?

Hmm…this is a tough question. Off the top of my head since I love to be scared I’d have to say Stephen King.

And now that I write for children I’d go with:

Jacqueline Woodson

J. Aday Kennedy

Beverly Stowe McClure

Kevin Scott Collier

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Read book reviews and the book itself before selecting for your child to make sure it’s a topic they would enjoy reading and that it is of appropriate age.

What advice you would give to new writers?

Read, read, read constantly in the genre you want to write in. Many times people think writing for children is a snap, but it is quite the opposite. Children are in tune if someone is speaking down or preaching to them, and many times it turns them off immediately.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I’d be delighted if you would visit me at:

www.donnamcdine.com – sign my guest book and receive myFREE e-Book “Write What InspiresYou! Author Interviews and opt-in to subscribe to myFREE newsletter, “Write What Inspires You! which is published quarterly. Here you will find author, illustrator, editor, and publisher interviews, book reviews and articles on the writing life.

www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com – visit and become a follower to stay up-to-date of the latest happenings of my historical fiction storybook, The Golden Pathway – a story of the Underground Railroad.

Ella, thank you for interviewing it has been an honor and privilege.

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We welcome Kathryn O Galbraith to Mymcbooks Blog.

Kathryn O. Galbraith is an award-winning children’s book author with more than a dozen picture books to her credit, including Boo, Bunny!Arbor Day SquareTraveling Babies; and Laura Charlotte. She teaches writing for children at the University of Washington.

Interview: We welcome Kathryn Galbraith the Author of Planting the Wild Garden to Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read?

I just finished The Fences Between Us by my friend, Kirby Larson.  This novel is part of the new Dear America series and is about the World War II Japanese internment in the Pacific West Coast from the point of view of a minister’s daughter, very moving. Another new favorite is Epitaph Road,a YA novel set in 2097 by David Patneaude.  I also read lots of adult fiction and non-fiction.  I’m deep into The Great Burn right now by Timothy Egan. 

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I started writing in the second grade.  I wrote dreadful poems in a small brown spiral notebook (which I still have) and shared them with my mother who always kindly said, she loved them.

Where you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

I was such a passionate reader from very early on, that no one had to encourage me.  I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t sure how you went about it.  It was only when I was living in New York Cityand took a class on writing for children that I met other writers.  Being surrounded by peers once a week for two hours was heaven. Today you don’t have to live in New York to find kindred souls, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has chapters in every state where you can attend conferences, workshops, meet other authors,  editors, art directors and agents.  SCBWI is such a valuable resource that I recommend its membership to every aspiring or experienced writer I meet.  There are also some wonderfully encouraging books on writing, but being in a class or attending a conference is by far the richest experience.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I’m working on a couple of new ideas — one for another non-fiction picture book and also one for a new chapter book.  I find working on two ideas at once is really helpful.  When I get stuck on one, I can work on the other. 

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

As you might guess, I read  every day just the way I take my vitamins  — fiction, history, biography for both adults and children. I especially love picture books.  When I am working on a picture book, I tend to read stacks of new ones.  It helps keep my mind focused on that very short, yet poetic format.  I  try not to limit my life, though, to writing and reading.  Writing springs from action, interest,  new experiences, family and friends.  I think it’s important for all of us– not just writers -to keep stretching ourselves.

How did you come up with your characters?

I don’t come up with them so much as I find their voice.  When I can “hear” them, then they become real to me.

What inspired you to write ‘Planting The Wild Garden’?

The idea came quietly while I was at a writers’ retreat at Fort Worden Park here in Washington state.  Every morning I’d go for a walk and I’d see rabbits nibbling on the wild grasses and goldfinches feeding on the thistles.  I wrote those images into my notebook and it was only years later that I found a way to put those ideas together in a satisfying way.

How do you react to a bad review?

Bad reviews are like a blow to the heart.  When I first started to write and publish, a bad review could stop my work cold, sometimes for days.  Now when I get one, I read it, see if there is anything I can learn from it and then file it away.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with? 

There are so many!  I would love to sit down with Karen Cushman, Laura Ingalls Wilder,  Natalie Babbitt, Jennifer Donnelly, Mem Fox, Jane Yolen, Katherine Paterson, Barbara Cooney, Patricia McLachlan, Barbara Berger, George Shannon,  Kathy Applet, Karen Hesse, Michael Morpurgo, Hilary McKay, Charlotte Zolotow, Kate DiCamillo, Arnold Lobel, Eve Bunting, Patricia Riley Giff, and that’s only the beginning. 

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Rather than guidelines, I think the parents who are willing to share books with their children with a sense of fun and discovery, to be there to answer and ask questions, to listen and to laugh is the most important way to foster good reading for an entire lifetime.

What advice you would give to new writers?

First step would be to join their local SCBWI chapter and get involved with it as a volunteer as well as a member.  As you meet new writer friends, see if there is anyone whose work you admire and/or works in the same genre.  Try exchanging manuscripts with them.  If all goes well, consider starting your own writing group. Writing groups can be a life line — a reason to finish a chapter or picture book by a certain date, a place to exchange info on the market, a place to celebrate every piece of good news, a place for encouragement and hugs.

And throughout all of those steps, keep writing whatever story/genre catches you. Don’t write with perfection or publication as your immediate goal, but write to get the story out, write and see where the story takes you.  Remember you can’t play your way to Wimbledon after your first tennis lesson.  Write, keep a journal of ideas, write, read deeply in your field, and write some more.   

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Writing can be such a joy.  Sometimes you fall in love with your characters and the story so much, you feel giddy.    At other times you can feel discouraged and blah.  All of it – the joys and the disappointments is part of the process.  Your job is to write.

Author’s website: http://www.kathrynogalbraith.com/home/

 

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We welcome Award-winning author Mayra Calvani to Mymcbooks Blog

Award-winning author Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults. In addition, she is co-editor of Voice in the Dark ezine and a reviewer for The New York Journal of Books, Blogcritics Magazine‘s “Kiddie Corner,” and SimplyCharly.com. She’s had over 300 reviews, interviews, stories, and articles published in print and online. Mayra is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and the Children’s Writer’s Coaching Club. Visit her website at www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com

Interview:

What is the last book you read?  

Diamond Dogs, by Alan Watts. Fantastic novel. I highly recommend it.

You started writing stories at 12 years old. Do you remember your first story?

Actually, I do. It was about a young and beautiful journalist who investigates a series of killings. The serial killer would leave a red rose by the side of each victim. The serial killer turns out to be the protagonist. Not what you would call children’s book material! But I didn’t start writing for children until my mid thirties.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

It was something that came natural. My mother began to encourage me when she saw I had the inclination and the talent, but I would have continued no matter what. I was a quiet, shy teen, and my favorite activity was to submerge myself in the world of my stories. I would stay in my room and write instead of going out to a party. I had an old typewriter, and I would put it on the edge of the bed, sit on a chair in front of it, and write. I would write hours at a time. I loved the process, the journey. 

Your first picture book earned you an Honorable Mention Award at the 78th Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. How did you feel winning that award?

 It was a surprise! I received the award in the mail months after I had submitted the story. I had totally forgotten about it! I felt a wonderful feeling of validation. By the way, that story, The Doll Violinist, will be coming out soon from Guardian Angel Publishing.

 You mentioned that you have been a book reviewer for the past 12 years. Have you ever given a bad review and why?

 I have given bad reviews. I have given them because I had to. When you review for a publication or a review site, you have to honor your commitment to the editor. However, when an author or publisher sends me the book directly and that book ends up being poorly written, I usually turn down a review. I rather spread the word about good books than bad ones. I’m also an author, so I understand the love, time and effort an author puts into writing a book. I’m sensitive to it. But in the end, my duty is to the reader, not the author or publisher. I always try to be tactful, though, and to find something positive about the book.

Are you working on a new book?

 On several! I’m always working on new picture books. I have about ten in line I need to submit. I’m also working on a young adult novel and on two nonfiction books for teens.

 How did you come up with your characters?

 It depends on the book. In the case of Frederico, the Mouse Violinist, I chose a mouse because, first, there must have been a lot of mice in a violin workshop inCremona in the 1700s; and also because I’ve always found mice incredibly cute. But it wasn’t really a conscious decision. I just knew it had to be a mouse. Later, when I thought about it, I realized that the idea was very logical. Sometimes when you create stories things just fall into place. I love when that happens. It doesn’t always work that way, though.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

 It’s important to pick books that are age appropriate for the child. 

It’s also great to choose among various categories: classics, bestsellers, traditional, holidays and those fitting with the values and beliefs of the family. Some books are meant to educate; others are meant for the sheer joy of storytelling and beautiful artwork. Go for both types! Finally, let the child choose the books with you and respect her/his choices. This will boost the child’s self esteem from an early age. 

What advice you would give to new writers?

Writing is a never-ending learning process. New writers should do what they can to improve their craft and hone their skills. This usually means reading a lot, writing a lot, and taking part in courses or workshops. It also means getting objective feedback from other like-mind writers. It’s also vital to enjoy the process without obsessing over the publishing side of the equation. If they work hard, write with passion, and enjoy the ride, the publishing side of things will come in time. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I’d like to invite them to check out my website, www.mayrassecretbookcase.com, and also my blog, www.mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.com. I love new followers and I also love hearing from readers. If you leave a comment on my blog, I’ll make sure to follow you back.

Also, for those interested, I’ll be offering a 2-week workshop on the art of picture book writing on Savvy Authors this coming June. Details can be found here: http://www.savvyauthors.com/vb/showevent.php?eventid=1021

In addition, I offer picture books critiques and one-to-one courses and mentoring. I can be reached at mayra.calvani@gmail.com

Thanks for having me as your guest today, Ella!

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We are glad to welcome Aileen Stewart Author of Fern Valley – A Collection of Short Stories 

Biography

Aileen resides in lovely Shelby, Ohio with her beautiful daughter and wonderful husband. Currently she is a SAHM, but she does have a degree in Business Administration and a certificate in Sales/Marketing from North Central State College. Besides writing she loves to bake, quilt, craft, take pictures, garden, travel, bird-watch, and volunteer at her daughter’s school.

Interview:

What is the last book you read? I read quite a bit with my six year old daughter, so the last book I read was Poppleton and Friends by Cynthia Rylant. Poppleton is an adorable, if not too bright, pig that has great adventures with his friends Hudson the mouse and Cherry Sue the llama. I heartily recommend this book for children just starting to read short chapter books.

What were your earliest memories of writing? My earliest memory of writing is the poetry contest I entered in fourth grade. I won honorable mention and was definitely bitten by the writing bug.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? Writing just seemed to come naturally to me. Even in school when I had to do book reports or write papers, it was never the chore for me that it appeared to be for so many of my friends. As a youngster, I was always encouraged to read and the fact that my parents were natural born story tellers and that my father was a free lance writer for hunting and fishing magazines probably helped.

Are you working on a new book? Yes, I am currently working on the sequel to Fern Valley. I am also trying my hand at a children’s mystery.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books? I like to volunteer. Once a week, I help out at my daughter’s school and I am unofficially in charge of the children’s display case at my local library.  I also love to cook and bake especially if the recipe involves chocolate. I love to read and review Children’s and YA books, I love to travel, I love to craft with my daughter, I love to flower garden, and I love to attend auctions in the summer.

How did you come up with your characters? My characters, which are all farm animals, stem from my childhood and the frequent times I spent at the farm where my best friend and her family lived. One of my favorite things to do was to help gather the eggs. There was one chicken in particular that was like a pet to my friend’s father. He would stand in the yard and call that crazy chicken, and it would come running and jump up onto his outstretched arm.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? If the children are old enough to read, I believe a parent should choose books that involve something in which their child is interested. For example, my daughter loves animals of every kind especially dogs. So I try and choose books that have interesting animal characters such as Harry the Dirty Dog, Frog and Toad, or Minnie and Moo. 

 What advice would you give to new writers? Understand the power of persistanace. The power of persistence is about more then just not giving up. The power of persistence is about not letting a little two letter word like “no” intimidate you. Sure, nobody likes to hear no, especially when it comes to your book. After all, your book is like your child, you gave it life, you nurtured it, and now you are trying to send it out into the world. But no is a word you will hear often in the publishing business. You will be rejected many times when you send out your manuscript; and if you are blessed enough to finally hear a yes we love it, don’t think that is the end of hearing no.

When you begin to market your book you will probably hear no over and over again, but don’t think of no as a negative. Each time someone tells you no, that just means you have not yet asked the right person. The world is full of billions of people that you have not yet spoken with, people that might just be waiting for what you have to offer. It would be a horrible thing if the very day you decided you had heard no enough and threw in the towel, unbeknownst to you the next person you would have spoken to would have said yes. So turn no into your own personal motivator, thinking of it as a challenge to be overcome, a wall to be scaled, a channel to be swum across. Eventually if you persist long enough the odds in your favor will increase.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Yes, I would like to share my motto ~ Kids who read can do anything! This is a concept I learned from my father and one I truly believe in with all my heart.

http://aileenw4bobbyg.tripod.com/aboutaileen.html

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We are glad to welcome Author Ann D. Koffshy to Mymcbooks Blog

Author and illustrator of  Noah’s Swim-A-thon

Biography

Sometime back in Kindergarten, I realized that I wanted to be an artist. I knew this for a fact all through high school. But in college, I realized how very impractical that was. I began a minor in art (just for fun, of course), and considered law, teaching, advertising, communications…you name it. By junior year, however, I realized I just couldn’t escape art. I changed my minor to a major, and got an internship at DC Comics (those are the guys who make Superman). When I graduated, I worked for Scholastic Books (those are the guys who make Clifford). That combo of Superman and Clifford gave me a great start in learning how to make things look fun and interesting for kids.

Since then I’ve illustrated and authored over 20 books for children, including “Eight Lights for Eight Nights” (Barron’s Educational Series),  and My Cousin Tamar Lives in Israel (URJ Press) which was given a Notable Book designation by the Association of Jewish Libraries.

I also enjoy creating products of all kinds, and have designed everything from toys (Alma’s Designs) to calendars (Tide-Mark Press) to formal Ketubot. Many greeting card companies such as Hallmark, Papyrus and Great Arrow Graphics have featured my work. I work in two styles: Bold, graphic paper cuts, and whimsical inviting paintings.

Interview:

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We welcome Sherry Ellis Author of That Mama is a Grouch and That Baby Woke Me Up, Again

Biography

As an author, Sherry has written children’s books as well as articles for parenting publications.  Her book, That Mama is a Grouch, was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards.

Sherry is also a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  She has appeared as a soloist in Germany, and was a semi-finalist in the 2005 International Viola Competition held in Paris, France. 

Sherry is a lifetime member of Cambridge Who’s Who and was honored as a 2010 VIP of the year.

Interview:

What is the last book you read? 

I just finished reading a fabulous book called, A Dog’s Way Home, by Bobbie Pyron.  It’s the story of a dog named Tam and a girl named Abby.  The two are separated by a tragic accident that occurs on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Poor Tam encounters one mishap after the other as he tries to make his way back to the girl he loves.  The book is a real page turner.  It’s not yet available to the public (I’m an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, so I got a sneak peak.), but when it becomes available, I recommend that you check it out.

What were your earliest memories of writing? 

When I was about eight years old, I wrote my first “book.”  It was called, The Kingdom in the Clouds.  I was so proud of it!  In fact, I still have it amongst all of my special treasures.  I wrote a lot of stories throughout my childhood.  As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed reading and writing.

Tell us how you felt when you heard that your book, That Mama is a Grouch, was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards? 

I was really excited!  It was such an honor to have my book recognized like that.  I think it also gave me a little boost to move forward with my writing career.  It’s nice to know that people like what you write!

Being a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano, does this helps with your writing? 

It does.  I think I have an innate sense of rhythm and flow that comes from being a musician.  When I read something aloud, I am usually able to pick up if something sounds good, or if a few words need to be changed.  I also think that my involvement with music has helped nurture my artistic, creative side.  Creativity is a necessity if you’re an author!

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? 

Writing does come naturally, but I have to say, I never intended to make a career of it.  My daughter was the one who encouraged me to get my first book published.  That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN  was a poem I created in my head when my five-month old son kept me up during the night.  I didn’t sleep much when my kids were babies.  I suppose the lack of sleep somehow got the creative juices flowing.  Anyway, I shared the poem with my daughter.  She liked it and thought other kids would like it too.  The rest is history.

 Are you working on a new book?    

 I’m working on a series for middle grade readers.  I call them the “Bubba and Squirt” books.  They are similar to Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series in that a couple of kids travel via magic to different countries.  My books are all set in the present, though.   The kids have an adventure while experiencing the culture and language of the countries they visit.  I have recently completed the second draft of the first book in the series, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Hole to China.  I still have more work to do before I’m ready to send it to the editor, though.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?   

When I’m not doing “author stuff,” I’m either running around like a maniac with my kids, or I’m doing something with music – playing, teaching, or writing songs.  I like to hike and do outdoor things too.  So on occasion you might find me roaming around in the woods somewhere.

How did you come up with your characters? 

The characters in my first two books were based on personal experiences.  So it’s fair to say that my kids were the models for the characters in those books (although my daughter really does not like to have people think she was the messy kid in That Mama is a Grouch).

What connection does the mouse have with the stories of both books? That Baby Woke Me Up, Again! & That Mama is a Grouch.

The mouse was an idea I had when the first book was being created. It came after reading the book, Good Night Moon.  There’s a small mouse that can be found on each of the pictures in that book.   My daughter loved trying to find the mouse, so I thought it would be fun to have a mouse character in the illustrations of my book.  I asked illustrator, Don Berry, what he thought, and he said it was a great idea.  He had a lot of fun with the mouse character!  I’ve gotten some good feedback about it too.  Kids seem to love the mouse! 

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? 

First, make sure the books you choose are age-appropriate.  Kids have to be able to understand what’s going on in the story.  Second, read books about things they enjoy.  This helps to hold their interest.  I think good pictures help too, especially with books written for younger children.

What advice you would give to new writers?

Read a lot of books that are similar to what you want to write.  This will give you a good feel for what publishers want to see, and an idea of what kind of stories people want to read.  Then research publishers to see which ones might be interested in your work.  Last but not least, always submit your best work!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Reading books is such a wonderful thing to do with your children.  I’m so glad my parents read to me!  I hope you’ll take the time to read about some of the other wonderful books on this blog.  Thank you so much for having me as a guest!

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We are glad to welcome Award-winning Author Renee Hand – Author of the Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill Series

Biography:

Renee Hand writes because it is a passion in her heart. She is a home school parent and likes to create books that educate and inspire the children of today. She was born in Michigan and still lives there with her husband and two children. She has a degree in Zoology with a minor in Chemistry. Renee is the author of the amazing mystery series known as the Crypto-Capers series that encourages children to read by incorporating several topics of interest.

 Interview:

What was the last book you read?

I just finished reading Psion Beta by Jacob McGowan for a book review.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I’ve been writing for over 25 years. I started writing when I was around 9 or 10. Writing for me was a way to express my feelings and ideas.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural? Writing was something that came naturally to me. I was always good in my English and Language Arts classes and I spent most of my time as a child writing and reading books, just like I do now.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I am currently working on book 5 of my Crypto-Capers Series, The Peacock Diaries, which will be coming out in the fall. In this story the Crypto-Capers are going to England in search of a missing inventor who leaves them clues about the true identity of the Panther, who is the main villain in the series. Many obstacles are thrown in their path, and a truth is revealed that will haunt them all. 

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I am homeschooling my children, tennis coaching and working.

How did you come up with your characters

Well, I was at my uncle’s birthday party and my cousin, Joe, came up to me telling me about this great idea he had. He had an idea for a character named Joe-Joe who goes on all of these different adventures. Joe-Joe goes skiing, and so on. Throughout the entire night he kept coming up to me and telling me and my family about his idea and that we were going to make millions. Well, at the time I was already thinking about creating a younger mystery series because of the many requests I was receiving from my fans with younger children whose children weren’t ready for my older Crypto-Capers Series yet.  For me, it is all about education, so I knew that I wanted to have school themes, but who were going to be the characters? The more I thought about it the more I thought that my cousin was on to something with Joe-Joe. As crazy as it sounded I could make this work. So I began to think of a story. But, Joe-Joe has to have a partner. The question was—who? It just so happened that I was spending time with my uncles who, for some reason, always call each other Biscuit. Biscuit head, everybody’s a biscuit. Well, from that I got Joe-Joes partner, Biscuit Bill. So Joe-Joe Nut is a squirrel and Biscuit Bill is a duck. One inspired by my cousin, the other my uncles. That is how I came up with my characters for my Joe-Joe Nut Adventure Series.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

I think parents should pick books that they think will interest their child, benefit them in some way, and is appropriate for them. I am very picky about what my children read and they are big readers. It usually involves us reading the books together or me first. If I don’t find it appropriate, they don’t read it. If I love it, I’m buying every book that author writes. There are many great books out there by known and unknown authors. But there are so many books out there, especially certain chapter books, where the content is questionable. I designed all of my books so that they educate the reader, inspiring them in wanting to learn more about a topic and to think more for themselves about why things happen the way that they do, so problem solving, really. I write children’s mysteries so I always try to involve the reader, challenging them. I love doing that. My books are science and history based in some way and do fit many national standards, so they can be used to supplement discussion in a classroom. 

What advice you would give to new writers?

If writing is a passion for you, keep doing it. Writing is a way of expression. Let it surround you and bathe you in its challenges. Even though I’ve been writing for 25 years, I’m not perfect. I have grown much over the years as a writer. The more you write the more you will improve and the more you are open to what you are doing wrong, the stronger your writing will become.   

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I am going on a blog tour this month as well as in June. Readers can visit my website at www.reneeahand.com for my tour schedule during those months. It is under my blog tour page. I am also doing giveaways for my new release. Information about the giveaways can be found there as well. Readers who have children who love to collect rocks or minerals or if you are a teacher wanting rock collections for your classroom will enjoy what I am offering. I am offering some great stuff. I also have a blog at http://thecryptocapersseries.blogspot.com where I review children’s books as well. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I greatly appreciate it. It has been a pleasure.

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We are glad to welcome Susan K. Marlow to Mymcbook Blog Author of Circle C Beginnings

Biography:

I started writing stories when I was ten years old. I never planned on becoming a published author. I just liked writing stories. But eventually others found out about my secret “writing” and encouraged me to submit.

I love to teach. I taught in Christian schools before I home schooled. After twenty years, I finished home schooling but find myself “back in the saddle” as I help other home schooling families, including my grandchildren.

Interview:

A lot of your books are based on horses and the Old West. Why is that? Horses are always a popular topic for middle-grade readers and young teens . . . especially girls. The Old West brings in the historical aspect, so the books can include more than just the usual fluff. And I always liked old westerns growing up. The horse idea draws readers in, but realistically the books are about people . . . kids making choices, learning about life, and figuring out their place in God’s universe as they romp through exciting, nail-biting adventures.

How did you come up with your characters? For the main character, I just imagined that some of those westerns would be greatly improved if a younger character were included. So I went from there. I named a number of recurring characters after family and friends. It is fun seeing a character in my head and visualizing who I knew might be similar. For example, my oldest son, Chad , is very much like Andi’s older brother Chad : kind of bossy, knows everything, has a temper, yet really does have a tender heart.

For specific stories, I caught snatches of things I heard from friends and family. I thought, “She/he would make a good character in one of my books, with a little polishing.” For one book, I read a biography on the missionary, Donaldina Cameron, who rescued Chinese girls from slavery in San Francisco in the late 1800s. She wrote journal entries relating the daily life of the girls in the mission home and how they had come to be rescued, so I created a little Chinese girl of about seven years old, based on those excerpts, for Andrea Carter and the San Francisco Smugglers.

You started writing stories when you were about ten years old. Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came naturally? Nobody encouraged me in those days. There was no encouragement at school, either. No young author day, no emphasis on the creative writing process, but I wrote anyway. Rainy days, sunny days, weekends. I watched TV during the “golden age” of the 60s, where I learned excellent dramatic story techniques, without even knowing I was learning them. They really knew how to tell a weekly dramatic story in those days, and I picked it up effortlessly. For example, techniques I now teach in writing courses, like “the hook,” were easily absorbed when I saw the “teaser” for the beginning of a Star Trek episode. Of course my stories had to have “teasers,” too! I didn’t know what they were called back then, but I modeled the technique. It was better than any creative writing class.  

Are you working on a new book? Right now I am finishing up books 5 and 6 of the early readers: Andi’s Lonely Little Foal and Andi’s Circle C Christmas, due to come out in August. I’ve tossed around a few ideas for writing an historical, gold-rush kind of series aimed at boys, but that is only in the beginning stages right now.

What is the last book you read? I just finished reading Robert Heinlein’s old, old book, Podkayne of Mars. It was on my Kindle, and I had a hankering to slip into the past and enjoy the book. I find very little time to read for fun. Usually I’m reading for other purposes, like researching for my books. Even the books for younger readers take a lot of work to make sure anything historical is accurate. I might read for hours, take notes, and then use maybe 10% of what I’ve gleaned.

If you were to pick five Authors to have dinner with, who would they be? I think I’d like to talk to John to discuss Revelation, and maybe Paul, to hear about his adventures in Acts, and then C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkein, because those two authors had imaginations that never quit! I know that’s only four authors, but I think together they would not give a fifth author a chance to get a word in edgewise.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?  I’m hanging out on our 14-acre homestead up near the Canadian border in North-Central Washington . Or I’m spending time with my nine grandchildren. My daughter homeschools, and since I homeschooled for twenty years, I can give her advice and help with curriculum selection and scheduling. And encouragement to keep on keeping on!

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? Until you feel your kids have some discernment and can choose their own books, I’d try to at least skim the books the younger kids bring home . . . back cover, a chapter or two . . . just to get a feel for the book. If nothing else, the children know you are interested and concerned with what they are interested in. By the time they are in upper grade school, this gets difficult and time-consuming, but by then—hopefully—there is open discussion (in an interesting and non-confrontational way) about books and life in general. The kids can then begin to spot “red flags” in books on their own and make wise choices.

What advice would you give to new writers? Learn all you can about the writing process, especially the five elements that every good fiction story needs to include: character, setting, problem, plot (events), and solution. For kid and teen writers, don’t be afraid to write stories about your favorite movie characters (make up new stories for them). Write sequels to your favorite book series . . . anything to let your imagination roll out. Eventually, you will write your “own” stories, but to become a good writer is a lot like becoming a good reader: the more you read, the better you read. The more you write, the better you write, especially if you are modeling your writing after good stories.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers? Sure! I would encourage any readers interested in learning more about my books to go to www.circlecadventures.com. There are a lot of free downloads: first chapters of all the books, enrichment/literature study guides for the older books, learning activities and free coloring pages (of the illustrations) for the younger books. On-line puzzles, a blog (written by Andi . . . sort of), and even some old stories I wrote as a kid. For any budding writers out there, I have also written a fiction workbook. The first 25 pages are free to try out from this site: http://rftswriting.homestead.com/writing.html

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We welcome Sharon Lester Author of The Boy Who Would’nt Sit Still!

Biography

 

Sharon Lester lives in Santa Monica, CA with her husband and two young sons. When she’s not running after her boys she works as Director of Distribution at Rainbow Releasing, an independent film company.

Interview:

What is the last book you read?

I just finished reading The Descendants, by Kaui Hart Hemmings.  It’s a really beautiful book about love and loss but it’s also very funny. I highly recommend it.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I have always loved to write and I always carry around a notepad for thoughts and ideas. 

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

I’ve always loved the written word and children’s books in particular. For The Boy Who Wouldn’t Sit Still! my son, Samuel, and I created each of the scenes in the book (with himself as the model) which I photographed and then sent to the artist, Jeff Smith, who created brilliant art to match each of the story points. 

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I am working on the next adventures of The Boy Who Wouldn’t Sit Still! and also have another idea for a children’s picture book.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

I work as director of distribution for Rainbow Releasing and we handle a wide array of films for theatrical distribution—from documentaries and independent films to Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

How did you come up with your characters?

The Boy Who Wouldn’t Sit Still! was definitely modeled after my youngest son, Samuel, who at the time was four years old. But I see that character everywhere!

My hope was to take behavior that is pervasive but endearing and put it into a character that both children and adults could relate to, and be amused by. 

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

Go to the library and get everything in a wide array of styles and formats. You never know what will grab the attention of your child and become their favorite book.  And it is so fun when they find a favorite book and want to read it over and over and recite the words. I know my younger son needs a lot of movement and color and bouncy words but every child is different. When I was little my Mom bought me all the Joan Walsh Anglund books which I still have and love. “A Friend is Someone Who Likes You” and “What Color is Love?” are my favorites. They should not be out of print! I found a website once where I was able to stock up on these books and I bought out the whole lot to give to my friends’ children.

What advice you would give to new writers?

Absolutely go for it! It’s a different world out there now and now writers have the ability to do a short run of a book in hardcover format and then they can take it from there to either find a publisher or agent or do it themselves!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

If you or anyone you know has a boy who is a wiggle worm or won’t sit still I hope you will think about looking at our book – http://www.theboywhowouldntsitstill.com. If you like the book we would love to hear from you on the website!

 

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MCGB will like to welcome to R M Smith Author of Rudy and Cirrus of Karma to Mymcbooks Blog

 

Biography
R. M. Smith is an illustrator, author, graphic designer, occasional blogger, drummer, aspiring guitar player, mountain biker and wannabe golfer. He thinks the idea of creating something tangible like a book, which hopefully will be read by kids, is pretty cool. He is the author and illustrator of An “A to Z Walk in the Park” and “Rudy and Cirrus of Karma.” He shares a home in Northern Virginia with Mary, along with two odd cats, a hungry lizard, and a tank of fish.

Interview:

You are an illustrator, author, and graphic designer. How did you come about being all three…lol!?
Since I work as a graphic designer by profession and drawing is a natural
element of graphic design and with different projects requiring
illustrated elements it was just a matter of study and applying myself
through numerous works and mediums until I ended up illustrating and now I
do just about all of it on a computer using Photoshop. Outside of
digitally created art I like working in acrylic paints. I wanted to write
picture books because I like creating storyboards and children’s picture
books seemed like a natural progression. I discovered it’s quite a tough
thing to write for kids. I certainly could not have written alone without
a lot of help.

You mentioned that you are a wannabe golfer. What professional golfer would you love to play golf with?
I think it would have to be someone that didn’t take their game too
seriously. I don’t know if he plays professionally anymore but David
Feherty would be entertaining. A lot of wisecracks for sure. The guy is a
nutcase and I mean that in the best possible way. Laughing is important
the way I play the game.

What is the last book you read?
Lost and Found by Shaun Tan. He does some absurdly imaginative
illustrations. I’m currently stumbling through Confederacy of Dunces.

What were your earliest memories of writing?
Not so early like some people. I’ve read in places some people have
memories writing when they weren’t even five. That’s pretty amazing. It
had to be sometime in mid-to-late elementary school for me.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
Encouraged only some much as my former college English instructor would
say “stretch your minds.” Writing was never natural for me. It did seem to
get a little better with practice and age.

Are you working on a new book?

I am. It’s pretty simple as far as the writing and concept is concerned.
It’s a counting book titled “Peep in the Deep,” featuring creatures of the
sea. Kind of a companion book to my animal alphabet book An A to Z Walk in
the Park.

What inspired you to write Rudy and Cirrus of Karma?
That’s a good question. I wanted to write a story but I didn’t have a
clear outline in mind. I can’t really say I was inspired by any particular
instance. I would say it was from pieces of my childhood melded together
along with occurrences involving family, friends, enemies, teachers, etc.
It certainly didn’t stem from a single family dynamic since my oldest
brother was nothing like Rudy.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
Go with their instincts. Think of what they liked when they were young. Of
course reading reviews is pretty helpful as well.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thanks for reading! Stay safe and have a great summer!

 

 

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We welcome Author F Zia

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji by F. Zia  and illustrated by Ken Min

Biography

F. Zia is a writer and an elementary school teacher who grew up in Hyderabad, India. Her stories blend humor and tradition, memories and contemporary moments. Zia, who believes writing—like roti making—requires persistence and practice, wrote this story as a gift to her grandchildren. Zia lives in eastern Massachusetts with her husband. This is her first picture book.

Interview with Author

Your book Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji is about family and food, if you were to invite any 3 people to dine with, whom would you invite and why?

Three very special people come to mind right away.  I would want my mother there to reassure her that I have learned to cook after all, albeit reasonably, if not masterfully.  I would like my daughter there to relieve her of a day’s cooking and to (joyfully) answer process related questions, such as: How much of this, or that, did you put in this, Mom? And I would want my grand -daughter, especially to feed her, to my satisfaction, with my hand, even though she can very well eat on her own!  Four generations together at a table…priceless!

What is your favorite India food?

This is a hard question to answer. Indian cuisine is not only extensive, but it is also very regional.  The common thread is the spice or the combination of spices that is used in varying proportions.  I can safely say that I like something from each region.   A well made Hyderabadi biryani with heaps of tender, luscious  goat/lamb chunks and a dahi ki chutney (yogurt sauce with onion, green chilli and coriander leaf) on the side, is hard to beat. Fluffy puffy puri with spicy potato saag from the north; crispy rava dosa (crepes made with lentil/rice flour) with sambaar (lentil soup) from the south;   syrupy rasgolla ( homemade cheese balls in sugar syrup) from the east and  soft, tangy Khamman dhokla (made from fermented chickpea batter)  from the West.

Did your grandparents inspire you to write Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji?

Ammi, my maternal grandmother, was the story teller.  I remember resting in the crook of her arm and listening to her tales. Even today, I feel the comfort of her body and the warmth of her voice. My inspiration to tell stories comes from my need to create a similar bond with my own grand children.  Whenever we traverse the continent to be with each other, I intend to place them on my lap and read them the stories. I hope this will create a memory for them too.  

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I did composition writing (a lot of!) in grade school but I can’t say I enjoyed it so much.  I do have memories of leaping into the summer assignments on the first day of summer vacation, just to get them done and put away.   I began to love the act of writing, when I loved what I wanted to write about and that happened more recently in my life.

What is the last book you read?

The Bone Setter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Who’s your favorite Author?

I can’t say that I have a particular favorite.  I like anyone who tells a good story in a compelling manner.  I want to read Linda Sue Parks and Sara Zarr because I heard both speak at the winter 2011 SCBWI conference in New York and because they were both inspirational.  I want to know their technique.  I would love to go back and read Jane Austin and the Bronte sisters for linguistic command and richness of expression.

Are you working on a new book?

I have several projects under way.  I have signed a contract with Peach Tree Publishers, Atlanta, Georgia for a chapter book that is intended for the upper elementary-middle grade span.  I have several other picture book manuscripts that are waiting for my own revision.  My agent just reviewed something she says she likes a lot and that is very encouraging.  Now, more than ever, I feel the urgency to write and to keep my fingers  dipped in the process.  I am constantly searching for that one good idea to write around.  When I have something to say, I sit myself down and I write.  Sometimes, as most writers do, I wake up in the middle of the night to jot down a word or a phrase on a scrap of paper. Sometimes this word or phrase leads to somewhere and sometimes it doesn’t.  There is not a lot of time when I am not either writing, or thinking about writing. I am grateful that my husband lets me do this without guilt.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

As a grandmother now, I can see that the greatest gift I can impart to my grandchildren is the conglomeration of values that were imparted to me.  I would suggest that parents look for books that complement perennial values — such as importance of family, friendship, trust, mutual dependence, respect etc.  Books for children should be captivating and fun or else the profound message will be lost and the book, forgotten.  In addition to a good story, I would heartily say that a good book is also one that honors language (this is the teacher part of me talking).   

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji was written with a lot of love.  I wish the readers, “Happy Reading” when they pick it up for their special little one.

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 We welcome Sherry Rossman Author of The Miracle of Rain to Mymcbooks Blog

Biography

Rabbits, javelina, snakes, skunks and the occasional raccoon were all a large part of my childhood where I grew up in the small town of Rimrock, Arizona. I used to roam the countryside with these critters, my two older brothers and a neighbor friend, which is where my imagination had plenty of space and inspiration to bloom. I currently live in Prescott Valley, Arizona with my husband, two children and three cats

 Interview:

What is the last book you read?

“90 minutes in Heaven” by Don Piper. Excellent!

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I remember writing a poem about ice cream in Elementary School. This was the first thing I wrote that won an award and an opportunity to read it to a group of locals at a luncheon. This experience was what sparked my passion for language arts and also gave some insight into who I was.

You wrote that Little Women influenced you as a child, why Little Women?

Little Women is truly a work of art. It addresses adversity, human strengths vs. challenges and how all of these things can shape a person into being who they were designed to be.  The insights I have gained from reading this book have resonated in my mind and heart ever since, and have proven to me the value of a well written story.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes! I am continuing the adventures of Nora and Molly in my next book! I can’t wait to complete their next mission!

Who’s your favorite Author?

I don’t think I have any one favorite. I love the works of Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, Dr. Seuss, Laura Numeroff, and Lucy Maud Montgomery…….

Were you afraid of thunderstorms growing up?

Yes, I was afraid of the noisy thunder and claps of lightning! I also lived on a dirt road that would literally wash away in a big storm. That is why I chose this subject to write about because I relate to it.  But I still liked to go outside after a storm and squish my bare feet into the mud!

You have a love for painting what was the last thing you painted?

The last thing I painted was a seascape for my son’s room. It is a large boat splashing through the water, where it is being guided by some icthus.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

I think a combination of books is always a great idea. Some to challenge, some to teach, and some just for fun to encourage a love for reading.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Keep on encouraging your children to read! A person who only listens to the world around them will only know what people want them to hear, but a person who reads, will learn how to find answers (truths) for themselves!

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Mymcbooks Blog will like to welcome Ron Hirschi, Author of Adventure in Alaska. 

Biography

Ron Hirschi (Ocean Seasons) lives on a small island in western Washington and walks the beach most days of the year. As a biologist, he also spends much time on the water, learning about and helping salmon and other aquatic fish and wildlife. As an author, he brings the excitement of what he learns onto the pages of books for young readers. Ron has written over 50 children’s books. His books have been listed as Best Science Trade Books of the year, and won the John Burroughs Nature Book among other awards. Several of his books have been featured on Reading Rainbow. In addition to writing, Ron enjoys working directly with kids and takes them outside during his many school visits. They net fish to study water quality or search for frogs and salamanders in small ponds. They also study ocean life and it was on a trip to the beach with a group of elementary students that he got the idea for this book. Ron helped to raise the funds to purchase a tidal wetland that is now an environmental learning center and critical habitat for endangered salmon. His book, Salmon, remains a fund raiser for this (Nick’s Lagoon) project. Visit Ron’s Website

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read……well, actually, I generally have several at one time but the one just finished is THE COMFORTS OF A MUDDY SATURDAY by Alexander McCall Smith.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

My first attempt at writing didn’t last long……….I grew up hunting and fishing and after reading Twain at about age twelve, I started my own story about growing up on the water with endless forests……..I guess I spent way more time actually being in the outdoors and dropped the writing until I was about 30. It was at that time I started writing without stopping. I didn’t really begin writing until I saw my childhood woodlands, streams, and ocean coasts being destroyed and I took up the pencil to attempt to share my love of that land and waterscape.

 What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

Hmmmm. The book that most influenced my life……That’s a tough one, but I think Wind in the Willows. I loved reading it, many times, to our daughter. It was in sharing books with her that truly led me to become a writer. 

You have written over 50 Children’s books, which book is your best book?

 Yes, I have written more than 50 books and the best one is my next one!

What inspired you to write Adventures in Alaska and use postcard format?

The postcard format in the Alaska book evolved from earlier books, especially Whalemail. I have used postcards in my work with kids, hoping that a simple writing format such as postcards might encourage them to write. I write for many reasons, one of the most important being just that – to help kids write. I loved getting postcards from my Grandparents when they traveled. I also love to write with kids and when I came up with the idea of exchanging postcards with them, I began by writing back to them as an animal they cared about. And so, there was “Bear Mail”, “Dolphin Mail”, and eventually, Whalemail became a book. In the Alaska book, the postcards are almost real since the fictional boy and girl are writing to two teachers I have known since they started their teaching careers!

Did you have to live in Alaska to write this book?

I have never been in Alaska which makes the Alaska book different from just about all my other books. I usually write with a lot of personal knowledge of place as well as subject. In the Alaska book, I had a lot of help from Alaskans. Also, I live on an island off the Olympic Peninsula in Washington Sate. This is sort of like Alaska and we definitely have many of the same animals. My training and experience in cultural resource protection also helped with what I hope is a respectful portrayal of Native Alaska.

 Are you working on a new book?

I am currently working on several books. My first major contribution in an adult book is just one chapter, but I am proud to be a co-author of THE STRONG PEOPLE, A History of the Port Gamble S’Klallam. I wrote SEYA’S SONG for the S’Klallams many years ago. I am also working on a few children’s books, including DON’T SIT UNDER THE KOA TREE WITH ANYONE ELSE BUT ME.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read? 

My experience as a parent and as one who works with many young readers tells me to encourage parents to allow their children to explore books on their own, allowing them to browse the library at will. But I also think kids appreciate our sharing books we love and choose because of values we hold dear. When our daughter was young, I read to her every night. We both spent a lot of time in libraries and the University of Washington Bookstore’s children’s section. Stacks of books came home from the time she was born and to this day, many of her first books sit right above where I now type…….Lionni, Hoban, and a silly little book she loved so much called JIM JUMP……..I think her Great Gramma gave that one to her! I really disliked it and maybe she just played me…….but, she sure loved me to read it to her!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I hope your readers will spend time searching out the wonderful world of nonfiction. When I started writing, there were so few books available that were written by people who knew what they were writing about. I hope I might be counted as one biologist who attempts to share what i know about and love in hopes kids have a better future due to knowledge they gain by reading, studying hard, and acting on important issues, no matter how old they might be.

Thank you for this interview.

_________________________________________________________________

Interview with Janet Halfmann Author of Seven Miles to Freedom.

We will like to welcome Author Janet Halfmann to Mymcbooks.

Biography

Janet Halfmann (Fur and Feathers, Fall 2010, and Little Skink’s Tail) is the award-winning author of more than thirty children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction. Other recent titles include Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, Good Night, Little Sea Otter, Little Black Ant on Park Street, and Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story. Janet is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Before becoming a children’s author, Janet was a daily newspaper reporter, children’s magazine editor, and a creator of coloring and activity books for Golden Books. She is the mother of four and the grandmother of four. When Janet isn’t writing, she enjoys gardening, exploring nature, visiting living-history museums, and spending time with her family. She grew up on a farm in Michigan and now lives in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more information, visit her website: http://www.janethalfmann.com

Interview:

What is the last book you read?

The last book I read was a novel for tweens titled Saint Training, by Elizabeth Fixmer, a member of my Wisconsin group of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). The novel is about a young girl growing up Catholic in the turbulent 1960s. I just had to read this book because I grew up Catholic just a decade earlier. I found that some of Mary Clare’s struggles and triumphs were similar to my own. The book is a page turner, and hard to put down.

What were your earliest memories of writing?

I’ve liked to write as long as I can remember. In elementary school, I wrote a story about a black cat, but I can’t remember the details now.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?

Writing always came natural. I even liked writing research papers. And to this day, I enjoy doing research.

Are you working on a new book?

Yes, I’m working on a picture book biography similar to my book about Robert Smalls, which I talk about a little later in this interview. The new project is about an amazing African-American woman who was a slave in Civil War times. I’m just about finished finding primary source material about her, which has been difficult and has taken a long time.

I’m also participating in the month-long picture book writing marathon which takes place worldwide each February.

This May, I also have a new nonfiction picture book, Star of the Sea, coming out from Henry Holt. It is a Junior Library Guild Selection, which I am very excited about.

Many of your books are on animals and nature why is that?

I grew up on a farm in mid-Michigan, and I think my love of animals and nature developed from that. I am constantly amazed at the wonders to be found in nature. Each time I research a new animal or plant, the details of its makeup and behavior leave me in awe. I especially try to find out the little details about an animal’s life, such as how does a baby bat practice to learn to fly, to make the story come alive for the reader.

What inspired you to write Seven Miles to Freedom? Was it a break from writing about animals and nature?

No, it really wasn’t a break. I’ve always been interested in history and I wanted to write about a minority person who had done something amazing but was little known. In my research, I kept seeing little tidbits about Robert Smalls. So I researched further and found this amazing escape story that I was sure kids would love. And at the same time, they would learn the story of an important African-American hero who spent his life trying to make the world better for all people.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?

There are many ways for parents to find good books for their kids. Blogs like this are one good way. There are also many lists put out by organizations that specialize in reading, such as the Bank Street College of Education list and the Children’s Choices Reading List. Parents also can browse through the “New Arrival” shelf found in most children’s sections of the library. I think it’s good to choose a wide variety of books, as well as both new and older books. I also think it’s important to let kids, even very young ones, do some of the selecting from the library shelves.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

I have two new fiction picture books out now that I am very excited about: Fur and Feathers (Sylvan Dell Publishing) and Good Night, Little Sea Otter (Star Bright Books).

Fur and Feathers, which recently won Gold in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards, is a fun story of creativity, friendship, and animal coverings. When whipping winds whisk the clothes off Sophia’s animal friends in a dream, she shares her clothes with them. But the animals can’t walk or fly in the kid clothes, so Sophia comes up with a creative plan, thanks to her grandma’s huge sewing box.

Good Night, Little Sea Otter is a soothing and fun bedtime story featuring a baby sea otter who stalls going to sleep by saying “good night” to each and every one of his ocean friends. It seems like he’ll never close his eyes! But finally he settles down to sleep cuddled in his mama’s loving arms in a cradle of kelp.

I try to make all of my books come alive for the reader. I hope that I am successful and that my books are wonderful experiences for children.

Thank you Janet for this interview.

5 Comments »

  1. All such talented writer’s and illustrators.
    All of these books are so valuable in the teaching of our kids. Looking forward to reading them to my grandkids.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750@aol.com

    Comment by Carol L. | April 20, 2011 | Reply

  2. Hello, I just became a member of the John316 group and learn about your program. I would love to donate our books to your program. Let me know how. Thanks

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