Category Archives: General

Interview with Justin Melquist: Author of “God Is In Your Pizza”

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I found another great book to help teach spiritual awareness and presence to your child. “God Is In Your Pizza” is a children’s picture book for kids 3-7 years old. It helps to explain what God is. Justin Melquist is the author and loves to write children’s books that explain spiritual concepts to children. I had a chance to ask Justin Melquist about his writing process and what he wishes to write next.

  • Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Justin Melquist: I find it’s easiest to write about something you’re passionate about or write for someone rather than picking a topic from a list that sells.

  • What subject would you like to write about in future projects?

Justin Melquist: I really enjoy writing books that educate or inspire kids. I will let the universe decide my next project!

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Justin Melquist: Writing is allowing the message to come through you.

GodIsYourPizza“God Is In Your Pizza” is a picture book that helps parents introduce kids to what God is. God isn’t just a bearded man that lives in the sky. God is in us all and all situations, even the silly and fun instances. This book is available in paperback and as an eBook on Amazon.com.

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Interview with Jon Smith: Co-Author of Campus Explorers Series

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I found a unique way to introduce children to colleges. Many have rich traditions that alumni consider part of the experience. What a great way to introduce children to the idea of going to college than to create a children’s book series teaching those traditions.

The first book in the series, Campus Explorers: The Search for Osceola and Renegade by Jon Smith and Stuart Santos, introduces children to the traditions of Florida State University. They got the idea sitting on the steps of their fraternity house, and wrote the book ten years later. Of the two authors, I had a chance to speak with Jon Smith about his childhood memories, subjects he’d like to write about, and what he has in store for us.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Jon Smith: I remember the vibrant colors of children’s books and the amazing environments the characters would travel through and experience. In a way, I guess it set the table pretty well for the idea behind Campus Explorers – a journey!

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Jon Smith: From a children’s book perspective, Shel Silverstein was a master in building depth out of simplicity.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Jon Smith: Campus Explorers is a children’s book series using college mascots, campuses and traditions to tell a unique story and teach the children everything you may love about your school. Florida State University is the first school in this series to be featured but many more are on the way!

campusexplorersCampus Explorers: The Search for Osceola and Renegade is a children’s book series that uses college mascots, campuses and traditions to introduce children to colleges around the United States. The first in the series is Florida State University.

“Where are Osceola & Renegade? That’s the question every Seminole fan is asking today. Become an explorer as you discover the traditions of Florida State University. Search through campus landmarks to locate the missing pair again so they can lead the Noles on to another win!”

This first book in the series is a great way to start introducing children to the college experience. It can easily be used as an elementary read-aloud, and it will make a great addition to any school library’s “College Week” display.

Campus Explorers: The Search for Osceola and Renegade is available at Amazon.com.

Interview with Elsa Joseph: Author of “Dylan’s CosyDoze”

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valentineclipartLooking for a cute Valentine’s Day gift for your little reader? Here’s an adorable book that I found called “Dylan’s Cosydoze” by Elsa Joseph. A graduate of South Bank University in London, Elsa has pursued her love of writing with a passion. She combines her interests of travel, art, and theater to build interesting plots and develop memorable characters. I had a chance to interview Elsa about her favorite childhood memories and authors, what inspires her and what upcoming projects are in the works.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Elsa Joseph: When I think back to what spurred my undying love for reading, I can date it back to the classic children’s book, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carie. I remember being introduced to this book by my reception teacher and studying the life cycle of a caterpillar. I can recall joining in discussions of what the caterpillar ate each day and being amazed when, at the end of the book, he becomes a beautiful butterfly.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Elsa Joseph: Paulo Coelho is my favourite author. I read The Alchemist two years ago and at first I didn’t like it. However, over time this book has grown on me. The book uses words and storytelling in their simplest forms as a means of portraying something so profound, divine and spiritual. It does it in a way that dissolves all attempts at classification or recapitulating. It is a quick read (at only 170 pages) and the plot is relatively a straight forward one. The style of prose is also clean and an uncomplicated, a-tune to that of a religious parable or childhood fairy tale, both of which this could be likened to.

  • Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Elsa Joseph: Yes, I do indeed! My alarm starts to ring. It’s 7am. I swing my legs out of bed, stretching as I walk into the bathroom. I splash some water on my face, and head to the kitchen and gulp down a refreshing glass of warm lemon water.

Then I take it back to my desk, where I read for half an hour and jot down some notes that will be important for today’s projects. Once I’m done, I shower and put on my clothes, ready to start the day.
I don’t work well at home, so after eating breakfast I grab my laptop and head on down to the local coffee shop. There, I’ll sit and drink coffee and make a start on the to-do list I wrote out the previous evening.
The day is spent busily tapping away at my keyboard, with the occasional break to eat something or gaze out the window at the busy shoppers as they rush by. Around 5pm I’ll go home, make dinner, chat with my family for a while, and then hit the gym.

I come back fully exhausted but satisfied. The gym is great for clearing your head. Then I’ll shower and watch a movie, read a book, or browse the Internet for a while. I take a few minutes to reflect on the day and write my to-do list for tomorrow. Then I’ll turn the lights out and drift off to sleep at around 10:30pm. I wake up feeling refreshed the next morning, pumped to do the whole thing all over again.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Elsa Joseph: I have so many! I have an author blog (http://www.elsajoseph.co.uk) which I am in the process of re-organizing. I would like to write more about some of the things related to my hobbies which are travelling, cooking, health, etc. I am toying around with writing another children’s book — something about disability, something about acceptance, something about how children with conditions such as Spina bifida and Down Syndrome are normal and talented and not abnormal like how the media can sometimes portray.

  • During all your travels, what was the most place that was inspirational and why?

Elsa Joseph: That’s a tough question because each country I have visited is special in its own way. If I had to pick a place it would be Venice. I love the uniqueness of the city, especially its watery canals. I love the architecture, the Grand Canal, the beautiful Rialto Bridge. I love the fact you don’t see cars but boats and gondolas.

So many things make Venice unique from any city in this big world. It’s truly a magical city.

  • With your background in theater, are you planning a series or book?

Elsa Joseph: Last month I made my debut as a playwright at the Young Vic Theatre in London. As much as I enjoy writing books, at the moment I want to solely concentrate on my playwriting.

  • What teacher inspired you when you were younger and why?

Elsa Joseph: When I went to Sixth Form College I was taught English Language & Literature by Lisa James (Ms. James to me), and it was as though she walked into my head and turned all the lights on.

She lent me poems, plays and books she liked. I showed her poems I had written, which weren’t really poems but more an explosion of words. But she took me completely seriously. She introduced me to Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Henrik Ibsen, Eugene O’Neill– all people who have meant more to me than anyone else. Her way of teaching was very searching but also very passionate and scrupulous. She definitely inspired me to write.

  • What do you do to research your books?

Elsa Joseph: It depends on the kind of book I am writing. It also depends a great deal on what topics I am researching, and why I need to research those topics for that book.

For example, let’s say I want to write a novel that has a lawyer as the primary character and don’t know any lawyers. Right away, the kind of book I am writing is fiction — so I would ask myself what’s important to my story. Am I going for technical accuracy, or sensory? Do I want the reader to feel like I know what I am talking about when it comes to the details of the law or am I trying to convey the analytical and judgmental skills of being a lawyer because I want a realistic character? These are some of the questions I would ask myself.

  • How does living in London influence your writing?

Elsa Joseph: It influences my writing a lot. London is one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world. For my book Best Kept Secret which is set primarily in London, I drew inspiration from the cities ethnically diverse population.

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Elsa Joseph: “Writing” is the process of using symbols (letters of the alphabet, punctuation and spaces) to communicate thoughts and ideas in a readable form.

Dylan's Cozydoze“Dylan’s CosyDoze” is a younger reader’s rhyme book that delves into that toddler problem of losing your favorite toy. On a visit to grandma’s, Dylan’s blanket or “CosyDoze” gets lost. Can Mum and Dad find it? Or will he have to find another way to get to sleep? Delve into this real life problem that many toddler’s can relate with. A great example of problem solving as a family, “Dylan’s CosyDoze” will be a read-aloud to help any child fall asleep.

“Dylan’s CosyDoze” is available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com.

For more information on Elsa Joseph, please visit her website at: http://www.elsajoseph.co.uk.

Interview with John D. Zomer, Author of “Jesus Loves You More Than You Possibly Imagine!”

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If you would like to share the joy, love and happiness of Jesus with your child, here is a great picture book for you. John D. Zomer is the author of “Jesus Loves You More Than You Possibly Imagine!” He is a former college basketball bench rider, avid golfer, and jack-of-all-trades. Recently a father in 2018, John had his life changed dramatically a few years ago and wants to share the grace and love he found through Jesus. I had a chance to talk to John about his childhood reading memories, favorite authors and books, and what he is planning for future projects.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

John D. Zomer: I remember the excitement of learning new words and seeing new pictures and just enjoying the many stories I read as a child.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

John D. Zomer: Dr. Seuss “The Cat in the Hat”. I appreciated the rhyming and story aspects and looking at the peculiar illustrations and colorful characters.

  • Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

John D. Zomer: I actually have four more books in production. I usually like to jam out with some music and get my mind stimulated, and it usually flows pretty naturally somehow.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

John D. Zomer: I have a series in production that is going to be topical with grace, love, forgiveness, and giving as the story lines, with cool rhyming aspects and awesome illustrations!

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

John D. Zomer: Words hold such power. I love expressing Jesus in and through me.

book cover“Jesus Loves You More Than You Possibly Imagine!” is a picture book that allows parents to share the power and teachings of Jesus. This heartwarming presentation of Jesus and his message of endless love will make the perfect read-aloud before bedtime for any Christian child.

“Jesus Loves You More Than You Possibly Imagine!” is available at Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Billie Kelpin, Author of Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy

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Billie Kelpin is the author of the picture book, Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy.

I have found a great addition to any read-aloud library, and had to talk to the author, Billie Kelpin. She is a former teacher of the deaf/hard of hearing, sign language interpreter, and worked as a college writing tutor. Billie currently has written this fabulous picture book, Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy. Set in Hollywood, this adorable story helps children learn about differences being strengths. In my discussion with the author, Billie Kelpin shared her childhood inspirations, what she enjoys about being a children’s author, and what writing means to her.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Billie Kelpin: My mother loved to memorize poems and stories and she would recite them to me at bedtime rather than read them to me. She’d tell me the story of “Wonderful Tony”, a rooster who couldn’t swim. The repeating rhythm of the words was especially appealing to me: “Tony became thinner and thinner, and sadder and sadder.” This story was actually a tale of altruism. When Tony got “outside of himself” and helped a little robin, his life turned around. I think of that story often.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Billie Kelpin: No one famous was ever my favorite author instead, I loved reading Father Francis Finn’s books. He was a Jesuit who wrote twenty-seven young people novels that resembled “The Hardy Boys” and Dickens stories a bit. His books influenced me with the high-minded morality. (You could only find them in our school’s library). The main character was “Tom Playfair” who was always challenged to do the honorable thing and always won out over his impetuous nature. Then, when I was around eleven or twelve years old, the Milwaukee Journal featured a Sunday Magazine section that featured essays from “The Art of Living” by Wilfred Peterson. While these essays seem quite dated now, reading them each week made me fall in love with the creative non-fiction genre.

  • Do you have a writing routine?

Billie Kelpin: I wish I were the kind of writer who could wake up at five in the morning and write; I can’t. I find routines in any aspect of my life difficult. I think I would be more productive if I were more disciplined. I tend to simply write when life doesn’t interrupt me.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Billie Kelpin: I tend to have several projects going on at once. I’m not sure if this is characteristic of being left-handed or not. I plan to continue to write pieces on being left-handed. I’m presently attempting to finish my first novel, a coming of age story set in the Vietnam era. Another ongoing project is an app I created called, “The Perfect Husband App” which consists of a list of phrases every spouse loves to hear along with short excerpts that explain why those phrases are helpful in everyday relationships. I want to add more personally narrated stories and essays to my “Stories to Go” app and hope to convert a short story called “Sylvia” that appeared in the Lost Coast Review into a screenplay.

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Billie Kelpin: To borrow from Walt Whitman, writing to me is simply acknowledging that ‘the powerful play goes on and we can contribute a verse’.

luckycvrLucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy is a read-aloud for children ages 4-8. With adorable illustrations by artist Julie Parker, we are drawn into Lucky’s self-discovery journey. As a follow-up, matching games, online flashcards, and narration of the story can be found at the website: www.leftpawedpuppy.com. Parents and teachers will love this as an addition to their library. It is a great book for teaching understanding of differences that all children can appreciate.

Lucky lives under the “H” of the Hollywood sign with his owner, Mrs. Poppyset, and his two puppy brothers. But he has a problem. He often does things the opposite direction of others. While his brothers lead with their right paws, he leads with his left.

Things change when William T. Stagent, the Hollywood agent, books them for a Bow-Wow-Chow-Now commercial. But Lucky has trouble following Hector the Director’s cues. Lucky turns left while his brothers turn right. Leslie, a famous dog trainer, is called in to look over Lucky and discovers he is left-pawed. Just as she is showing what to do be done, an earthquake hits the studio. Lucky saves the day, and it is all thanks to his left-pawed ability of naturally turning left.

Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy is on sale at Amazon.com and through the website, www.leftpawedpuppy.com.

Link here for my recommendation of Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy. 

A Great Picture Book About Differences Becoming Superpowers: Lucky, The Left-Pawed Puppy

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luckycvrHere is a must for your read-aloud library. It’s a heart-felt story that was written by left-handed author, Billie Kelpin, to encourage children living in a right-handed world. Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy is a picture book that looks at being different as an asset in life. Teachers and parents can use this book to teach a lesson in how to embrace our differences and challenges, not as obstacles, but as superpowers.

Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy lives under the “H” of the Hollywood sign with his owner, Mrs. Poppyset, and his two puppy brothers. But Lucky has a problem. He often does things the opposite direction of others. While his brothers lead with their right paws, he leads with his left.

06Things change when William T. Stagent, the Hollywood agent, books them for a Bow-Wow-Chow-Now commercial. But Lucky has trouble following Hector the Director’s cues. Lucky turns left while his brothers turn right. Leslie, a famous dog trainer, is called in to look over Lucky and discovers he is left-pawed. Just as she is showing what to do be done, an earthquake hits the studio. Lucky saves the day, and it is all thanks to his left-pawed ability of naturally turning left.

11Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy is a read-aloud for children ages 4-8. With adorable illustrations by artist Julie Parker, we are drawn into Lucky’s self-discovery journey and into the world of Hollywood with puppies center stage. As a follow-up, matching games, online flashcards, and narration of the story can be found at the website: www.leftpawedpuppy.com. Parents and teachers will love this as an addition to their library. It is a great book for teaching understanding of differences that all children can appreciate.

Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy is on sale at Amazon.com and through the website, www.leftpawedpuppy.com.

Link here for an interview with the author, Billie Kelpin.

 

 

Interview with Fantasy Children’s Writer: J. Edwards Holt

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J. Edwards Holt is the author of the children’s epic fantasy Little Men, Big Treasures.

I’m a total fan of Tolkien. So, when I find a story that is a worthy fantasy adventure, I like to recommend it and talk to the author. J. Edwards Holt has written a children’s fantasy epic adventure called Little Men, Big Treasures. After getting a degree in education, he followed his dream to be a children’s author. Now a full-time writer, illustrator and blogger, Mr. Holt spends his time spreading his Christian message through his passion of telling stories.

I had a chance to talk to J. Edwards Holt about his inspirational stories from his childhood, what he liked to tackle as subjects, and what writing is to him.

  • Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?
  • J. Edwards Holt: C. S. Lewis has always been my favorite author. From the very first time I opened “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”, I fell in love with his style. After that, I read the remaining Narnia books and, of course, enjoyed all of them. As a Christian author myself, I appreciate the messages that Lewis communicates in his novels. While there are many authors that I like (J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Rick Riordian are just a few examples), C. S. Lewis is the one that I mold myself after the most.

 

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?
  • J. Edwards Holt: Both of my current books are fantasy-themed (“little Men, Big Treasures” and it’s sequel “The Summoner’s Gem”), so in the future I hope to write more fantasy fiction, and maybe even some science fiction at some point. I also wouldn’t mind writing at least one non-fiction book as well.

 

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?
  • J. Edwards Holt: If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would say that, for me, writing is a way of teaching and spreading a message.

 

littlemencvrLittle Men, Big Treasures is a fantastic epic tale of grand adventure, incredible battles, and sacrifice. O’Balin, son of Blorn is an eager young dwarf and native to the mysterious Mountain Realm. He’s been a treasure hunter his whole life. So, when he hears that the King of the Mountain Realm is offering a reward for whoever finds the Lost Treasure of Undur, he’s ready to take the challenge. Going against warnings from his family and friends, O’Balin gathers a company to go on the journey of a lifetime. What sacrifice will it take to find the treasure? Get lost in the battles, talk of kings and dwarves, and dive into this tale of adventure.

Little Men, Big Treasures is available at Amazon.com and is a Kindle Unlimited title.

Interview with Tracy Kauffman

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Tracy Kauffman is the author of the book “Captain Honey Bear”.

Here is a sweet, caring fairy tale story to start off the year, and I’d like to introduce you to the author, Tracy Kauffman. Tracy has written a beginning chapter book called Captain Honey Bear. It’s an adventurous tale in which Papa Honey Bear learns to be the superhero of the forest. I had a chance to talk to Tracy about her favorite memories reading as a child, her writing routine, and what future projects she has planned for us.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Tracy Kauffman: My favorite memory was reading Alice in Wonderland. I loved the characters and the way they seemed to come to life through this book.

  • Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.

Tracy Kauffman: My writing routine is pretty much that I have a basic idea of what the book will be about and brainstorm ideas before writing.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Tracy Kauffman: I would like to continue a series of books started from this first book: Captain Honey Bear.

captainhoneybearcoverCaptain Honey Bear is caught stealing honey from a bee’s nest and is sentenced to start helping as the forest superhero. His first assignment, find Squirrel Goldie Locks that has been kidnapped. Captain Honey Bear is off to the rescue, having to face challenges that will turn his grumpy self into a superhero.

Captain Honey Bear is available at Amazon.com.

 

Interview with Family Traditions Children’s Book Author Margaretta James

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Got someone in the family with tattoos? Well, here is a great gift idea! Plus, it’s a great way to share something that is becoming more of a passed down tradition. I was able to interview Margaretta James, the author of the book “Mummy and Daddy Have Matching Tattoos”. Margaretta is a teacher and writer. She likes to focus her writing on contemporary family issues. I had a chance to sit down and talk with her about her memories of reading as a child, subjects should would like to explore in her writing, and what writing means to her.

  • What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Margaretta James: I loved it when my mother would spend all afternoon reading traditional tales to us.

  • What subjects would you like to write about in future projects?

Margaretta James: I am currently working on my novel set in the Australian outback. It is slowly taking shape; however, I keep getting new ideas for children’s picture books!

  • What is writing to you in one sentence?

Margaretta James: Writing is a compulsion and a joy. I become so immersed that days fly by!

bookcovertattoos2amazon“Mummy and Daddy Have Matching Tattoos” is a rhyming book about the weird and wonderful tattoos in a little girl’s family. Where is Aunt Sue’s secret tattoo? And of course, it all ends up with the little girl joining in the tradition and getting her own tattoo. But what will it be?

“Mummy and Daddy Have Matching Tattoos” is available at Amazon. It will also be on sale for FREE this weekend only, January 19-23.

 

First Interview of 2019: Helen Gibbs Pohlot

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I enjoy a good pet or animal story. Here is a good one for you to start your child’s 2019 reading list. Lucky’s Will is an inspirational book based on a true story. The author of this extraordinary tale is Helen Gibbs Pohlot. Helen was a reporter for more than fifteen years before she started writing children’s books. She uses telling stories to her son as inspiration and lives with her family in Pennsylvania. I was able to interview Helen about her writing process and what writing means to her.

1) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works with you.
Helen Gibbs Pohlot: My routine is to write at least 2000 words a day. Consistency works.

2) What subject would you like to write about in future projects?
Helen Gibbs Pohlot: I want to write a fabulous series with interesting characters involved in thrilling situations as they travel around the world.

3) What is writing to you in on sentence?
Helen Gibbs Pohlot: Writing to me is an expression from the heart that informs, entertains and comforts the reader.

a new luckys willLucky’s Will tells the story of a dog who is stranded outside their rural home in the bitter cold and snow after her owner dies suddenly. Lucky survives for 18 days guarding her beloved Will. When rescue arrives, Lucky faces an uncertain future until a young boy stands up and fights for her life.

Lucky’s Will is available at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07LGFZYFV