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

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




david said...
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