Interview with Barbara J. Kurtz Author of A Hummingbird’s Story: How I Came to Be
Barbara Kurtz was born in Colorado, raised in Illinois, and graduated from high school and college in Tucson, Arizona. After graduating from the U of A, Barb married Ken, a professional baseball player. They both loved the sunshine and didn’t mind the heat so it was Tucsonwhere they settled and raised two children. With a degree in Education (K-12), she taught a variety of life skills classes at the high school, her favorite being Child Development. Her first camera, a Kodak Brownie was a birthday present when she was six. She was thrilled with it and slipped into the role of family historian. When she retired from teaching, photography then developed into a serious hobby. She recently combined photography and writing to author her first children’s non-fiction book, A Hummingbird’s Story: How I Came to Be.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog
What is the last book you read?
The last children’s book I read was Toulouse the Moose, written by an artist/writer friend of mine, Monique F. Rea. I read it to my grandchildren. I just finished An Accidental Woman by Barbara Delinsky.
What were your earliest memories of writing?
My earliest memories of writing were in 7th grade. We had just gotten back from summer vacation and we were given a choice between writing a story about something that happened during our vacation or standing up in front of the class and giving a speech on that same topic. Since I was terrified at the thought of standing up and speaking to the entire class, I chose to write my first short story. I’ll never forget the first sentence: “I will never get on a horse again.” And to this day, I haven’t!
Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I was a tomboy in my youth and would much rather have been outdoors playing baseball with my brothers than writing. Actually I never thought of doing any creative writing until I took a class in children’s literature during my freshman year in college.
Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I am just about finished with my second book. It’s called Sebastian’s Neighborhood: A Hummingbird’s Story. The story is told by Sebastian, the main character. It’s about life in the aviary in which he lives. Children learn about the traits unique to hummingbirds and those traits they have in common with most other birds. It has been an exciting and colorful book to write and photograph! It should be available in a few weeks.
What type of book promotion works for you?
Since I am a new author, I am trying out different types of marketing and promotion. Because I am a non-fiction author and I write about the desert and desert animals, I am having success with gift shops and book stores in the southwestern states including the state and national parks. One such bookstore is located at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum. It was there that I photographed the book. My next endeavor is to introduce A Hummingbird’s Story: How I Came to Beand to parents who homeschool their children.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your book?
Photography is a passion I developed after I retired from my teaching career. My camera goes everywhere with me. I love traveling. Years ago we traveled Europe extensively and now I enjoy vacations within the States with our children and grandchildren.
What inspired you to write A Hummingbird’s Story?
My most significant inspiration came from photographing one of nature’s miracles. I was fortunate to have witnessed a tiny mama hummingbird preparing a nest for the little ones soon to come. Almost every day I would photograph the newest developments of this tiny little family. First the eggs were laid. Then the chicks hatched. Each day I was there, I would take hundreds of photos. By the time the little ones had left the nest, my computer was filled with thousands of photos. I was committed to presenting this extraordinary event in such a way that children and their parents and teachers could experience this miracle as though they had been there in person.
What is your creative process like?
Being a non-fiction writer makes the creative process easier. My photographs trigger my creativity and my urge to write. Being a retired Child Development educator, I’m convinced that the more a child connects with the main character, the more fun he will have learning. What better way to engage the child then to have Samantha, the female hummingbird chick, tell her story. I use photographs instead of other types of artwork in my books. Studies have indicated that babies learn faster if photographs vs. illustrations are used in books. (This study is mentioned in my web site.) My goal for each non-fiction book I write is for children to be engaged and have fun while learning. If I constantly focus on my goal, the creative process comes automatically.
Have you ever suffered from Writer’s Block?
I really haven’t suffered from writer’s block as my characters and ideas are all in the computer waiting to be used in a story. I do, however, need to do research which for me is intriguing.
How do you react to a bad review?
Since I am a new author, all of the reviews have been positive. A few days ago, I received 32 notes from third graders in California. They had read the book in class and sent notes and drawings describing their favorite parts of the story. These children and their notes inspire me. I’m still smiling! The day will probably come when I receive a negative review. If I can see a valid issue that someone has with the book, all I can do is make sure that I heed the criticism in future books.
Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
Shel Silverstein has always been one of my favorite authors. I could learn so much at dinner with three excellent non-fictions writers: Fiona Bayrock, Jennifer Armstrong, and Wendie Old.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
This may seem old fashioned, but I suggest that you take your child to the library on a regular basis. Get to know the librarian. His or her job is to help with book selections. Start taking your child to bookstores. Many times bookstores have places where you and your child can look at some possibilities together. Usually the staff persons who work in the children’s section love what they are doing and are anxious to help. Give your child a few acceptable choices and let him make the final decision. You both feel good in the end. Don’t automatically rule out non-fiction. I think parents sometimes under-estimate their child’s need for reality. Get in the habit of reading reviews.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Identify your passions in life and then write about them. It will be easier for you and your readers will benefit in lots of ways.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Use reading to enhance your relationships with your children. Start reading to your child when he is young. Then involve him by having him read to you or tell part of the story to you. As he gets older recommend books and discuss them with each other. You will have a common interest you will both cherish.
Thank you for this interview.
Thank you Ella for giving me this opportunity to share my book and my thoughts with your readers.
Visit Author’s website http://www.photographedstorybooks.com/index.html
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My name is Ella Johnson. I started Mymcbooks to promote reading. As a former teacher, I know that making basic education fundamentals interesting to children can be challenging. Education can be fun, exciting and captivating for children with the right learning tools. So my goal is to “make learning interesting and fun” for the children while they learn, by introducing them to fun books with colorful and captivating illustrations.
In 2009, I start the giveaway program giving away free school supplies at random to 2 winners each year. I also started a monthly free giveaways for books and gifts.
August 2010, I extended the free school supplies from 2 to 5 winners at random on my blog and also give away 20 bags full of school supplies to familes in need at Chick-fil-A in Brandon, Florida during their family nights. And in 2012, I beat my that number and gave away a lot of school supplies to needy families. Hopefully, I can continue to do this each year.
In 2011, I started writing reviews on children’s books then giving these books away free on Mymcbooks Blog. I increase the number of books we giveaway free to help support parent. My goal is to give away as many as I can each year. This is also a great way to introduce parents to new books.
Mymcbooks blog is always looking for other ways to give kids free books. So I started Mymcbooks Birthday Library http://mymcbooksbirthdaylibrary.wordpress.com/
My goal is to giveaway at least 300 books to children each year.
Books Given in 2011: 315
Books Given in 2012: 380
Books Given in 2013: 330
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Read Interview about Ella Johnson, http://melangeofcultures.wordpress.com/2011/07/31/interview-with-ella-johnson-founder-of-memorable-children-books-gifts/ Interviewer: Nicole Weaver
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