Thursday, January 12, 2017

Author Spotlights

I welcome you all to this new update. We all know how the Children's book publishing has grown. I had the honor of interviewing two new artists that are starting to become popular in the industry. please enjoy.  This month's update will spotlight them, Thanks

Mr. Stan Yan


Stan Yan is a Denver-based writer/illustrator, caricature artist and instructor. Growing up in Denver, Yan, a self-taught artist, went to school at the University of Colorado in Boulder where he got his bachelor’s degree in accounting, where Yan’s life took the tragic turn into sales for the securities industry, where he wallowed in ethical poverty on-and-off for thirteen years. Yan takes his frustrations out by penning graphic novels such as The Wang. In 2005, Yan has gave up on financial security and become a full-time freelance cartoonist, illustrating SubCulture for Ape Entertaiment and Action Lab Danger Zone, creating comic strips for the financial and sales industry, drawing zombie caricatures, and picking up odd illustration and teaching jobs when folks are feeling agonizing pity for him. Stan teaches Summer camps, after school programs, workshops, and helped to develop a degree program in graphic storytelling as an adjunct faculty member at the Community College of Aurora. His recent credits include art and colors for Show Devils (Mother Mind Studios), writing and art for Vincent Price Presents (BlueWater Productions / Storm Comics), and writing and art for There’s a Zombie in the Basement (Squid Works Kids). But, he’s probably best known for doing zombie and pony caricatures. Upcoming projects include development of a graphic novel about his best friend’s battle with cancer.

1) What inspired you to become a writer/ illustrator?

It wasn't really an active decision that I made. For as long as I can remember, I've been a writer and illustrator. Some of my earliest memories of my childhood were of me holding a pencil and drawing series of images of the same character doing things. I was drawing comics before I even knew that's what I was doing.

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

I remember being read a lot of Dr. Seuss and "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak. Those were the most memorable of the many stories I was read as a child, and they definitely informed the writing of my own book, "There's a Zombie in the Basement."

3) What makes a good writer/ illustrator?

In my own mind, a good writer/illustrator connects with readers in some way and knows how to marry image to text so it's not redundant and communicates what it needs to quickly and effectively.

4) What are your favorite authors?

Currently, I'm loving J.K. Rowling, Raina Telgemeier, Jeffrey Brown, Dav Pilkey, David Wellington, and Robert Kirkman.

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

Every book I've written has a seed of truth from my own life or those close to me. So, while most of the things I've written can be described as slice-of-life books, even my more fantasy-based stuff tends to borrow a lot from real life events or people.

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

My son was 3 years old when one day, he refused to come down to my basement studio. When his mom asked him what was wrong, he replied that he was scared. When she asked what he was scared of, he pointed at all of my zombie caricature artwork (which is what I'm primarily known for) decorating my walls. Over the subsequent hour, I drafted the fast draft version of my manuscript for my book, "There's a Zombie in the Basement," my first picture book. I'm happy to say that he's no longer afraid of my artwork, and in fact, he has been writing and drawing his own zombie comic books, and as of last August's Denver County Fair, my now-6 year-old son has authored and sold his 3rd book at my event booth.

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

My process has evolved over time. For the most part, my current process focuses on developing a compelling character and building a story around them. Then, I will plot out story threads and then develop dialogue, text and panel or page direction. If I haven't already, I'll come up with character designs. Using the script, I plan out my rough page layouts and insert text in Photoshop and import them into spreads on InDesign so I can look at how the spreads connect. After making layout adjustments, print the pages out, light box them onto watercolor paper in pencil, ink the text and line work, erase the pencils out from under the inks and add the watercolor washes and colored pencils. I then scan the finished watercolor pages back into my computer and import them into my InDesign file.

You can see a lot of my process via my YouTube tutorials channel:

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

Amongst the turmoil in publishing, the one area that seems to continue to grow seems to be children's books. I think this is because children's books are a timeless medium that utilize the magic of storytelling entertainment to feed children's learning minds. Parents are more than willing to purchase books for their children because of the educational aspects as well as the fact that we parents don't want our kids messing with our phones and iPads, so we're going to do our best to delay their interest in these electronics, and books are a good option. Plus, they're something tactile, especially for young toddlers who are still trying to learn to master use of their hands.

9) What are your future plans as a writer/ illustrator?

Since my son's interests have brought me to read him middle grade novels and graphic novels for bedtime stories, which we seem to enjoy equally, I'm likely to try to push my career in the direction of middle grade and young adult graphic novels as something that will be much more satisfying to me as a storyteller. This will allow me to explore more complex story lines, and get back to my roots as a purveyor of toilet humor. I'm also finishing up a graphic novel about my best friend's battle with cancer.

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

My near term goal is to complete 3 manuscripts and submission artwork and have them submitted to agents and/or publishers by the end of 2017. I dream of being a well-established writer/illustrator in kidlit, sharing my stories with more people than I ever envisioned, which is my true passion. Where that might take me is less relevant, since my ability to elicit a reaction with my work has always been my primary interest.

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

My newest published book is the LitPick 5-Star Review Award-Winning, "There's a Zombie in the Basement", a whimsical, rhyming bedtime picture book, which I describe as, "If Dr. Seuss and Tim Burton got together to write a book, this would be it." It's available at among many other places online.

Mrs. KW Penndorf

Mrs. KW Penndorf


Story time had always been KW Penndorf’s favorite ‘subject’ in school. 
But when her second grade teacher opted to read from a tattered old 
diary, KW’s view on books changed forever. Books were now alive, with 
adventures, dilemmas, far away locations, heroes, villains, drama, and 
quite frankly, story. Everything was so real, well at least in her 
imagination at any rate. She wanted to live in those stories… and she 
In her senior year of high school KW interned at CBS three days a 
week, making sure to keep her grades up or the gig would be off. By 
sheer nature of the job, stories surrounded her there. In college, she 
spent a semester abroad living with her sister and brother-in-law in 
Denmark – where, yes, one can only imagine the crazy stories two 
sisters conjured up! Then after college, she moved to Germany and at 
the age of 25 she opened her own company – a language school, full of 
(you guessed it) stories abound. At 29 she moved back to the States, 
bringing home with her the greatest story and souvenir ever – her 
On a train ride into NYC, a vision came to KW’s sleepy commuter mind: 
a girl finding a dragon egg in the middle of a Viking graveyard. 
Presto! The premise for her debut novel was born. A story, which KW 
hopes, will change a child’s view on books forever.

KW Penndorf
Freya and the Dragon Egg


1) What inspired you to become a writer?

I have always loved story-telling. Not “lying” lol, but the art of entertaining others through narrative. Honestly, I wanted to be a news reporter when I was younger because I loved writing and grammar.

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

I’m the youngest of four, and I think I got shafted in the ‘read to your kid at night’ department. Perhaps my older siblings stole that time away from my parents hahaha. I do remember my parents reading books with me and teaching me to read though.

3) What makes a good writer?

I think a good story makes a good writer. If a writer can get the reader involved in the story through emotion, memory, or some other connection, then I feel that makes them a great writer.


4) What are your favorite authors?

       Oooh, that’s easy: L.M. Montgomery and J.K. Rowling. For me, both authors excel in their ability to world-build. Yes, I understand Anne of Green Gables isn’t quite the ‘fantasy’ world building as in Harry Potter, but seeing how Anne’s world is 100 years away from mine yet I’m able to visualize it perfectly makes L.M. Montgomery amazing. When I open her books, I can feel the soft summer breezes from the ocean surrounding Prince Edward Island, and I am transported into the world of Anne Shirley.

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

       I was commuting to work by train when an image flashed in my mind. In it, I saw a young girl holding a round oval object. The girl was in the middle of a Viking graveyard – a graveyard I had visited in my travels to Denmark some thirteen years prior. Sleepy and bored on my way to work, I decided to roll-play in my head who the girl was, why she was in the graveyard, what the object was, and so on. Then I worked out how to make it a Viking story, since I just knew it had to be due to the vision’s setting.

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

       Basically the vision above is why I chose to go into children’s writing. I had tried dabbling in writing a historical fiction and a family memoir, though neither project ever got completed. Then came the Viking vision. Once I figured out how its storyline and plot, I couldn’t let it go.

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

       My process is a little bit all over the place. I do a lot of research for my series which sometimes helps drive storyline and build character backgrounds. Other times, it helps me simply visualize the world Vikings lived in so I can build my own world. I then turn to outlining my series, book by book. My favorite form of organization is using over-sized sticky notes. I lay out 15 of them to represent a potential number of chapters for the book I’m currently working on. At the bottom of each, I write “cliff-hanger.” This helps me focus on how to wrap up my chapters. Afterwards, I jot down ideas on each sticky note of how to get from point A to point B (ie the cliff hanger). While I’m coming up with ideas involving plot and the addition of the research I’ve found, I make sure to bridge everything together through ‘character-driven’ storyline. If the action doesn’t build my character, then it doesn’t build my story and therefore it’s out.

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 book will ever become extinct. The imaginations and creativity of young kids thrive when hearing and reading stories. Aside from energizing and feeding their brains through this freeing form of education, I also believe books bond parents and their children. Reading to a child, or having a child read to an adult builds a long lasting and rewarding relationship.

9) What are your future plans as a writer?

       I’m still working on my current series and plan on getting those out to a growing number of readers before starting a new series or book.

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

       I write with the dream of others reading my words, and as my adventure into publishing grows so too do my goals. Each event I do, I network with other vendors, authors, customers, you name it. This is how I learn about new and exciting opportunities. It’s really amazing how events can shape the direction of one’s path. For example, a friend had told me about the Viking Exhibit at the Field Museum, so I called and asked two things: 1) if I could meet and talk to a curator (my series has a character who works at a museum and this would be awesome research on the ins and outs of being an archaeologist) and 2) if they would be willing to sell my book in their gift shop. They granted me both requests! Now I’m able to use these experiences to build my resume. As a result, my book is currently up for consideration at other museums across America. If they say yes, who knows what door will open next? Hopefully the one to a movie deal lol.

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

       My newest published book, FREYA AND THE BATTLE AT THE AAL THING, is the second in my FREYA series and is actually set to release this May. My local Barnes and Noble is super supportive by willing to hold the launch where fans can buy it in store or online. Readers can also buy it on Amazon and are always able to follow the adventure at

Thank you everyone and please enjoy this update.


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