Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Author Spotlight 2017

      As the trees and plants are coming back to life many new authors are starting to get books out. In this update I would like to introduce everyone to two new writers.

Please take a look at my new book called "The Portal"

Mr. Daniel Jude




 
   Much like the main character from Monsters in Manhattan, Daniel Jude started out as just a regular kid from Queens, NY. A kid who began filling countless notebooks, school projects and any and all bare paper with ideas and creations. Lucking, he always seemed to get a box of fresh drawing pads from Santa every Christmas.

   After graduating from The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan he embarked upon a career in editorial Illustration, only to find it far less fulfilling than I had anticipated. Something was missing. Sure, he loved doing the drawings, but there had to be more. Daniel found himself with a head full of characters and no way to get them out. So, that's when he learned to write.

   As both an author and illustrator Daniel has written about odd monsters, like in Earclaw & Eddie, loud little girls like in Everybody Wake Up and a whole city of Monsters in Manhattan.
 

1)      What inspired you to become a writer?

   I had gone to art school to become an editorial illustrator, and was working at a company in advertising. It turned out that after many years, I found myself feeling extremely unfulfilled drawing cartoons for someone else. So, writing became the only logical next creative step for me.

 

2)      What Kinds of books were read to you as a child?

   What’s interesting is that I wasn’t actually read to that much as a child. I remember being allowed to watch a lot of movies though, all different kinds of movies. I think that affected

 me as a writer because I tend to see stories very cinematically. To me stories are usually big, with a lot of characters and an arching plot, even if they’re simple picture books.

 

3)      What makes a good writer?

   I’ve always considered myself more of a storyteller than a writer. So, for me the most important part of putting a book together is how strong the story is. And usually a story’s strength can be determined by how interesting the ending is. There’s been a million books written, so it’s a real challenge to create an ending that will really set your book apart.

 

4)      What are your favorite authors?

   Chris van Allsburg. I know that’s only one name but it’s definitely one that I have always gravitated towards. Chris’s work can be so varied, with every book he releases having its own separate feel. He never seems committed to any one writing style and that’s what I hope to do. An author that can work in rhyme, short-form or long-form, never tied down to a single concept of being a writer, is my goal.

 

5)      How did you come up with the idea for your book

   I was working in Manhattan at the time when I passed a manhole cover billowing with smoke. It appeared like a dragon was living right there under the city street.  That made me wonder if possibly the entire island if Manhattan was crawling with gremlins, ghouls and creatures. As well as other even scarier things.

 

6)      Describe an inspirational event in your life that encouraged you to go into the children's books business?

   One of the greatest things that could have happened to my career was getting fired from my job. Like I said, I was at a job that was going nowhere even though it was very comfortable. Being let-go from your employer usually creates panic, but for me it instantly produced freedom. I owe a humongous debt of gratitude to my former employer for releasing me. I just wish they had done it sooner!

 

7)      Talk about the process you go through to put a story together?

   My process can be sort of odd at times. Strangely enough I usually write my books backwards, writing the ending first. Then I’ll fill in all the beginning information as I continue on. I’ve always thought that for me writing was more of a mad scientist type event. It’s not a very fluid process, more of a formula that gets mixed together and usually produces a complete story.

 

8)      Do you think that children's books will become extinct or will they grow? Please explain why you think this way?

   No way! Children’s books aren’t going anywhere. In fact, I think that the market is expanding faster than at any point in history. Only a few years ago, big publishing companies controlled the entire market. But now, with the advent of self-publishing, it’s possible for writers and artists and creators to get their ideas out to the world without any barriers or restrictions. If you have a great book, and are willing to work hard to market it, you can! That’s exciting.

 

9)      What are your future plans as a writer?

   The future for me looks very busy. After just completing Monsters in Manhattan 2, due out this summer, I have already begun working on a whole slew of new projects. Aside from two new children’s books, I have decided to take on some new challenges as well. I’ll be writing a chapter book for slightly older readers, a trading card game and also a comic strip.

 

10)  What are your dreams and goals and how will you achieve them?

   I’ve found that my dreams have been constantly evolving, and that’s no different now. I love writing, and drawing will always be my passion, but recently I have noticed that getting the opportunity to speak at schools has become the greatest part of my job. I jump at any chance I get to be in front of a humongous room full of kids and hopefully inspire them to become monstrous!

 

11)  Tell us about your newest published book and where it can be found?

   Monsters in Manhattan is about is a kid named Mike from Queens, NY. He’s super-psyched for the start of his Christmas vacation and has all sorts of awesome plans for his week off from school. Snowball fights, sledding, snowmen and lots of fun! Unfortunately, it all goes south when he finds out that his horrible cousin Mary Lou from Kalamazoo is coming to visit NYC for the holidays. She’s rude, disgusting and totally going to ruin all of Mike’s plans. His only hope is to scare her away by introducing her to all of the creatures, goblins, and monsters that lurk at famous Manhattan landmarks. Maybe, just maybe he can save his Christmas vacation!

This book, along with the sequel Monsters in Manhattan 2 are available through my website www.djudemiller.com

Mrs. Nancy Churnin


 
Nancy Churnin is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News and author of THE WILLIAM HOY STORY, HOW A DEAF BASEBALL PLAYER CHANGED THE GAME (Albert Whitman & Company), now in its third printing, has been picked for the 2016 New York Public Library Best Books for Kids list, the 2017 Texas Library Association's 2X2 and Topaz lists, the 2017 Bank Street Best Books List and the 2018 Illinois School Library Media Association's Monarch Award Master List. It was named a 2017 Storytelling World Resource Award Honor Book and a finalist for the North Texas Book Festival’s Best Children’s Book. MANJHI MOVES A MOUNTAIN (Creston Books), will be out in September 2017. Coming out in 2018: CHARLIE MAKES HIS SHOT: HOW CHARLIE SIFFORD BROKE THE COLOR BARRIER IN GOLF (Albert Whitman) in January; IRVING BERLIN, THE IMMIGRANT BOY WHO MADE AMERICA SING (Creston Books) in Spring and THE PRINCESS AND THE FIRST CHRISTMAS TREE (Albert Whitman) in September. A native New Yorker, she's a graduate of Harvard University, with a master's from Columbia University School of Journalism, who is happy to call Dallas her home. Between shows and deadlines, she and her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, are raising four boys and two cats.
1)                 What inspired you to become a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t live in a world of books. My favorite room in my house was our library where we had books on shelves that went up to the ceiling.  My favorite outing was to the public library and I was thrilled when I graduated from the little kid card, which only allowed two books, to the big kid card when I could carry home 12 books at a time. I always had a notebook in which I was writing stories and poems.
2)                 What Kinds of books were read to you as a child?
The first book my mother read to me every night was The Wizard of Oz. She would read one chapter a night and two on Saturdays so she could take off on Sunday. I loved the way she read it so much I kept it a secret when I learned to read, so she’d keep reading to me longer!
3)                 What makes a good writer?
A good writer loves to write – you’ve got to follow your passion. A good writer also loves to read. It’s part of living in the world of stories, you give and receive stories, you become part of the larger fabric of storytelling, continuing some ideas, taking others in different directions, adding something new and wonderful to the mix.
4)                 What are your favorite authors?
Kate DiCamillo astonishes me with her versatility, her ability to move so easily from fairy tales to realistic stories. I love the way J.K. Rowling created a world that was at once fantastic and morally probing, extending some of the spiritual and ethical ideas that C.S. Lewis explored in Narnia. I am in awe of how Charles Dickens made us laugh and cry and question our role in the world while using some of the most beautiful language and rhythms ever written: “'It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
5)                 How did you come up with the idea for your book
I wrote The William Hoy Story because of talking to Steve Sandy, who is a friend of the Hoy family. Steve is deaf and has spent decades trying to get Hoy in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The more I talked with Steve, the more I realized he was right. That’s when I got the idea of writing a book that would inspire kids to help support efforts to get Hoy into the Hall. Steve agreed to help me with the research and then all I had to do was learn how to write a picture book! It took me a long time to realize how much I needed to learn. But it was worth the journey.
6)                 Describe an inspirational event in your life that encouraged you to go into the children's books business?
I love and am inspired by children’s books and I have loved sharing them with my children. Also, my mother was a teacher and I had opportunities to observe her at work and see how much she was able to light up the thrill of learning in children. I would see those lights go on in their eyes (and my own, because she was always teaching, even at home), and I thought I would love to do that. I am too solitary by nature to be a teacher, but being a writer who gets to share special reading time with kids – that’s been a dream come true for me.
7)                 Talk about the process you go through to put a story together?
I’ve learned that one of the keys to a successful picture book is for your main character to have a clear dream or goal. I need to get to know my character so well that I feel what the character feels. I also need to stay focused as I take my character on his or her journey through struggle, disappointment, renewed struggle, disappointment, brainstorm and breakthrough.
8)                 Do you think that children's books will become extinct or will they grow? Please explain why you think this way?
I believe in the future of children’s books. Children will always need and want stories to accompany them on what can be a challenging journey through life. They will need stories that inspire, educate and make them laugh.
9)                 What are your future plans as a writer?
My next book, Manjhi Moves a Mountain, comes out in September. Next year I have three picture books coming out: Charlie Takes His Shot, How Charlie Sifford Broke the Color Barrier in Golf; Irving Berlin,  the Immigrant Boy Who Taught America to Sing and The Princess and the Tree. I plan to continue to write children’s book biographies and hope to try new things, too, including middle grade books and, who knows, maybe some fiction and lighter fare.
10)            What are your dreams and goals and how will you achieve them?.
I want to keep writing the kinds of stories that inspire children to believe in themselves and appreciate the unique wonders and gifts that a diverse group of people have to offer. I want to keep writing about little known people that deserve to be heroes and heroines, each with a Teacher’s Guide that extends the learning and a project that gives kids an opportunity to make the kind of difference that this special person did.
11)            Tell us about your newest published book and where it can be found?
My next book, Manjhi Moves a Mountain, is the true story of Dashrath Manjhi. Manjhi lived in a poor village in India that was separated from a village that had a doctor, a school and good soil by a 300-foot mountain. Manjhi could climb over the mountain but not everyone in his village could. He didn’t think that was right. All he had in the world was three goats. He traded them for a used hammer and chisel, climbed to the top of the mountain and began to hit the mountain with the chisel. People thought he was crazy, but 22 years later there was a path through the mountain. Manjhi is famous in India and I’m looking forward to kids getting to know him here in America. The book will come with a free Teacher’s Guide that will teach words in Hindi and include a recipe for roti, a flat bread that is popular in India. I’m also starting a program, Move Your Own Mountain, that will celebrate kids who embark on a project to make their school or community a better place. You can find Manjhi online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Creston Books, and I hope in your local bookstore! I hope anyone who wants to know more will contact me at nancychurnin.com.
 
 

 

 
 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

New Author Spotlights

I had the great pleasure of meeting these two upcoming authors and asking them some questions.

Mrs. Nan Whybark

 


My real name is Nanette, not Nancy. I like the informality of Nan though; as my grandpa always called me Nan Louisa (Grandpa pronounced it Loo-eye-za).  I had a golden childhood, and sadly I hear that is rare these days.  My grandparents were a huge presence in my life. From them I learned sewing, bread making, quilting, piano skills, how to ride a bike and play marbles, and the wonderful taste of homemade root beer on a hot summer day.  I learned to love the smell of roses, crisp, ironed linen sheets, fresh bread and warm apple pie. There’s so much I could tell about my grandparents!

I had lots of pets too. Hamsters, mice, rats, rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, ducks, snakes, lizards—all wonderful in their own way. But I’ve always wanted a dragon. I have a room full of dragons now, but still none of them are truly alive. Maybe someday!

.  I have lived in Washington State all my life and truly love the Pacific Northwest. For almost 45 years I’ve been married to my eternal companion, Harold. We have five children and 21 grandchildren. This year I will complete my goal of making a quilt for each one of them.

I taught reading for 25 years in the public school system. I also got to teach art, writing, and theatricals. I love teaching, learning, nature, swimming, writing, reading, art, music, and dragons, of course. Lunch and recess aren’t too bad either.

I write plays, poetry, short stories, chapter books and I’m working on a young adult novel and a poem book, as well as my Earth to Irth fantasy series. I fell in love with language when I was quite young while my mom read poetry and stories to me. I love the sounds of rhymes and descriptive words! They are magical to me. I feel like a wizard sometimes when my words flow forming pictures in my mind.

My father first got me interested in drawing when he drew tiny pictures for me during church. I loved how he could use just a few lines to make something marvelous appear. I asked him to teach me and he did. My first drawings weren’t very good, but I kept trying! Of course, art classes really helped too. I got an art degree later in life and would still like to pursue more art education.

Now my dreams of being a book author and illustrator have come true! Never give up on your dreams!
Questions

1)    What inspired you to become a writer?

When I was a child, my grandmother and mother read to me often. I loved the sound of rhyming words and the sing-song rhythm of poetry. Stories carried me away to fantastic places. As I grew older, I wanted to create some of those rhymes and rhythms myself. I have a good imagination, and so I started writing poems, puppets shows, and plays for the neighborhood children. My friend and I even started a street newspaper when I was about 12.

My father is a wonderful writer with an immense vocabulary. I love the sound of big words as they flow so easily from his mouth. He has always challenged and encouraged me to write and learn more about words and how to use them.         

2) What kinds of books were read to you as a child?

My mother read classic poetry to me, along with other poetry for children. I loved the illustrations! Both she and my grandmother read animal stories to us, simple picture books with memorable characters and plots. Some of my favorites were “Jelly and George”, “Katie No-Pocket”, The Elephant’s Child”, McElliot’s Pool, and “Scuppers the Sailor Dog”.

3) What makes a good writer?

Imagination and the ability to accurately build mind-pictures with words. In picture books, the illustrations create the story scenes. As one advances into chapter books, the scenes and characters must be built and created in the mind. It doesn’t have to be the same mind-picture for everyone, but the words must stimulate some scene and sense of character in the reader’s mind.

Story weaving is important too. Taking individual characters, places, and events and weaving them together in an interesting way. Some of those threads, when twisted or turned produce wonderfully different outcomes.

4) Who are your favorite authors?

Some of my favorite authors are David Shannon, Shel Silverstein, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Paolini, Diana Wynne Jones, Karma Wilson, Steven Kellogg, Colin McNaughton, Dr. Suess, Ray Bradbury, Jules Vernes, Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, C.S. Lewis, and Elizabeth Keatly Speare, and many, many others!

5) How did you come up with the idea for your book?

When my youngest daughter was in 4th grade, we had to drive to the school where I worked. She would get bored and soon asked me to tell her a story. So, I began a story and continued it a little more each day. I realized one day that this was becoming a really great story, and I had better write it down. My first chapter book was created! Of course, then she asked me, “Well, what happened after that?” Pondering that question led me to continue the story in a series. My Earth to Irth fantasy series for middle grades began in earnest.

 “Mr. Weasel and the Wizard” was published in 2011, more than 20 years after it was first told to my daughter. In 2016, my fourth book in the series, “Thairyn and the Thieves” was published. The other two books in the series are Book 2- “The Serpent and the Sorceress” and Book 3- “The Matriarch and the Magic”.


6) Describe an inspirational event in your life that encouraged you to go into the children's books business?

As a young mom I took a writing course through the mail. (This was before computers were common place!) When I started, it didn’t think I would ever have enough ideas to be an author. However, by the end of the course, I realized I had more ideas for stories than I could ever write in my lifetime! I was amazed and encouraged to pursue my dream. I was able to write many short stories based on my own and my children’s experiences, several of which were published in an e-mag in the early 2000’s. This was even more encouraging and I continued writing and looking for more ideas in everyday life.


7)  Talk about the process you go through to put a story together?

My writing process is much like that taught in school. Brainstorm, outline, rough draft, edit, edit, edit, and final draft. I go through these steps several times during the writing of a book. Each chapter is like a smaller story in itself. I often move chapters around or take parts of one and move it to another. I have to make sure the time-line works when I jump between scenes. Creating characters is challenging. I don’t want them to be stereo-types or boring. Coming up with names for them is fun though.

The plot is usually outlined, but the details are filled in as I write the rough draft, and even more filled in though the editing process. Sometimes I get stuck and have to do more brainstorming. I ask myself, “What could happen here?” I try to think of several possibilities, and then select the one I like best that is consistent with the story line.


8) Do you think that children's books will become extinct or will they grow? Please explain why you think this way?

I don’t think children’s books will ever go away completely. The format might change to e-books, but children need the imagination stimulation that books offer. If they don’t have stories, they will create their own. It has been so for centuries. Our language is based on words with meaning. Reading and writing those words are inseparably connected, and form the basis of our communication. Using those words to create and share things only imagined is part of our growth as a society. If this type of communication were lost, that would be tragic indeed.

9) What are your future plans as a writer?

            I am currently working on Book 5- “Jewl and the Jinx” in my Earth to Irth series. I hope to finish my Earth to Irth series with Book 6- “Phyre and the Phoenix” by 2020. I have also started a YA sci-fi/fantasy novel, and would like to publish my illustrated dragon poem book for children called, “I’d Rather Have a Dragon Than a Dog”.

              I have a idea for a realistic fiction series based on my adventures as a child living in a neighborhood on a dead-end street. I have many others ideas brewing, so I’m sure I’ll keep busy with my writing.          

10) What are your dreams and goals? How will you achieve them?

            I would love to be picked up by a traditional publisher! My current books are self-published through a you-pay-for-it publishing company. I am working on publicity, getting my books into the hands of children, and establishing a more visible presence on the internet. I have an author page on amazon.com, an “Earth to Irth Series FAN CLUB” page on Facebook, and I am working on several other venues. Perhaps I can find an interested agent as well!

            One of my goals is to sell books in all 50 states and eventually Europe. So far, I have sent books to or sold books in 15 states and Canada. My writing goal is to create fun, adventuresome books that are free of swearing or other things inappropriate for young audiences, and to have characters that have strong traits worth emulating. Also show that both boys and girls can do hard things.


11) Tell us about your newest published book and where it can be found?

My newest book is “Thairyn and the Thieves”, Book 4 in the Earth to Irth Series. It is available through me (nw.toolsofcreation@yahoo.com for signed copies), amazon.com, or iUniverse.com. It is available in soft cover or e-book.

The story is about Thairyn, young, crown patriarch of en’Edlia on the world of Irth. Everyone there is born with inherent magic, but Thairyn’s has not surfaced. As he is past the age of showing, his parents fear he will have no magical birth-gift.

The rebellious Xens of Irth are against rulers without magic, and so plan to kidnap Thairyn to rid the realm of that possibility. A ransom message demands the family’s exile, while other internal crises are threatening both the ruling family’s safety and the order of the realm.

In the clutches of his kidnappers, Thairyn steals a secret that will change all their lives, if there is time for it to unfold before the kidnappers execute their vengeful plan completely.

I hope you enjoy this book, as well as the rest of the Earth to Irth Series!

Mr. Will Holland

 

 
 
William K. Holland is a freelance writer from Lake Jackson, TX. As an avid artist and a creative thinker who wants to inspire children, he self publishes children’s books and cutting-edge articles about families who game together. He graduated from Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, KY. He learned about God’s purpose for himself and about using his gifts to help children live lives that would bring honor to their Creator.
So if your kids have ever
Dealt with being bullied
Been made fun of
Swept away with the media attention on police and violence
Or just need a funny song to sing
He is your guy.
 

 


Other Titles Include:


Fight Breast Cancer: THE COLORING BOOK: A Coloring Book for all Ages

Pencil Ninja Presents: The Shark Song and the Secret Origin of the Pencil Ninja: Pencil Ninja Adventures: Volume 2
Time to Play the Game: The Ten Year Anniversary
Hero Needed
Questions
1)      What inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve written and or told stories of some kind as long as I could write. In elementary school, we used to have to write stories and do small books every year for the local young author’s conference in my hometown. I wanted to become a writer to create stories to help kids learn life lessons. Whether you are trying to teach kids about how to deal with bullies, thankfulness, how to deal with the police shootings, or a song to help them giggle more in life; I want to help kids learn how to be great people. I pray that I can inspire kids to grow closer to God and their families.
 
2)      What Kinds of books were read to you as a child?
As a child, I read Curious George, Charlotte’s Web, books about Folk Legends, Bible stories, and as many comic books as possible.
 
3)      What makes a good writer?
A great writer has to have creativity. They have to be able to see the characters as living beings. They must be able to see the beginning and the end of the story.  Once you get that part down, then you can work out how to get there. A good writer must be able to engage the person and connect with them. The most important thing that a good writer must have is the heart to stick with your writing plan. If you plan to write for an hour a day, then follow through with that.
 
4)      What are your favorite authors?
Dr. Dana Carson, Max Lucado, Frank Peretti, Tony Evens, Brad Meltzer, and Steven King are a few of my favorite authors. They either speak to spiritual ideas and how to live or they feed my imagination.
 
5)      How did you come up with the idea for your book?
For my first book, I had to look at my life. When I was growing up, I was bullied by multiple kids. I was taught to deal with them in various ways. Physical altercations were always a last resort. I wanted Pencil Ninja, the main character in most of my stories, to help the picked on kids to see how they could help win the game. I wanted to have the hero, who is a sugar-powered robot  boy, help the other kids find the hero in themselves as they stand up to the group of bullies. It is the most intense kids football game ever.
 
6)      Describe an inspirational event in your life that encouraged you to go into the children's books  business?
I was in a season of prayer. I was searching for some direction. As I was doing this, I was asked the question, “What do you have that you can use to share what you know? I was also challenged by a publisher to see if I could write a book a month for the rest of the year. So I wrote my first book in June of 2016. I wrote a book a month until November. I just released the newest book this week.
 
7)      Talk about the process you go through to put a story together?
I draw a lot of pictures first. Then I write the main story out. Once I do that I send it to my editor to get it looked at for grammatical errors and layout.
8)      Do you think that children's books will become extinct or will they grow? Please explain why you think this way?
Children, in my experience, always love a story. The genre may be different, but kids want to be told stories. “Mommy, read me a story, please…” I heard it growing up and I heard many stories myself. I want to be a part of that tradition.
 
9)      What are your future plans as a writer?
I am, slowly, working on a series of stories about folk heroes and Bible stories. I am also working on a series of short stories based on cartoon ideas I have for Pencil Ninja to watch.
 
10)  What are your dreams and goals and how will you achieve them?
My dreams and goals are to be used by God and teach children in some sort of way. I will continue to build a devoted audience to show children, from all walks of life how to treat each other.
 
11)  Tell us about your newest published book and where it can be found?
My newest project is entitled “Pencil Ninja Presents: Captain Fluffypants Tries to Take Over the World”. It has alien invasion, robots fighting, and ice cream. This is story about thankfulness and friendship. It is currently available in print at https://tsw.createspace.com/title/6952511 for $7 . It is also available in e-book form here at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06WVPMKPG?ref_=pe_2427780_160035660 for $4 preorder.  It will be sent out on the 27th.  The print version will also be on Amazon around the same time.
 
Thank Both for answering my questions. It has been a pleasure to interview both of you.