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The Greatest Gift

Diane Hull Author Interview

Diane Hull Author Interview

Be Happy to Be You is a cute children’s story about being happy with who you are. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?

Children are the inspiration for my stories; the children I have taught and my three grandchildren. Joe (6 years), Harry (4 years) and George (10 months). Children are individuals and they are all different with their own characteristics and strengths. I strongly believe that they should be happy to be themselves.

The art in this book is well done and very cute. What was the art direction and collaboration like between you and Jan Dolby?

Having submitted my book to MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing, I was introduced to Jan Dolby as a possible illustrator for my work. I was delighted with her drawings; her pictures were a perfect match for my story and her designs for my Baby bird were exactly as I imagined them. I hope that she and I will continue to work together on future Baby bird books.

This story did an exceptional job of driving home the idea of being happy with yourself. Why was this an important book for you to write?

As an Early Years teacher, I understand how important it is that young children are instilled with a sense of their own worth. A positive sense of self is, in my opinion, the greatest gift we can give any child. They need to be proud of their own unique achievements and embrace their strengths. This message is at the heart of my book. Using picture books, we can provide children with strategies to cope with possible problems they may face and offer them opportunities to discuss their feelings with a trusted adult.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My second book, “On Our Way to School,” is due to be published later this year by MacLaren-Cochrane. This is the story of Joe’s journey to school with his mother. Unfortunately for Joe, he forgets things that he will need for the day; his bag, his book, his coat etc. Each time he realises that he has forgotten something, he has to return to his house and set off for school again.

I have recently completed a second book featuring Baby bird, “The Lonely Bird”. In this story, Baby bird is lonely and he sets out to find a friend. Baby bird is unsuccessful it seems…. or is he? I have written quite a few stories but these have not yet been submitted for publication.

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Baby bird wasn’t happy.
He longed to be like other animals.
He wanted to swim and run and jump.
But he had to learn to be happy as he was…
He had to learn just to be himself!

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Be Happy To Be You

The title of the book itself is encouraging enough for one to start reading. Be Happy To Be You takes a simple idea and drives it home with a lovable character, cute art, and an entertaining story.

The art in this book is beautiful. The images are appealing and match the tone of the story. The very first sentence in the book reads “Baby bird wanted to swim. He looked at the fish in the river.” “I wish I could swim in the river like the fish,” says the bird. “You can fly high in the sky,” replies the bird’s mother. This is a good example of the message this story carries throughout the book. Even with everything the bird wishes for, he is always reminded of the things that he does have.

Reading on, one can conclude that the bird feels inadequate with the things he has. Just like humans, the bird wishes for more. The bird’s mother plays a big role in making the bird understand that he can’t have everything he wants. I think kids will be able to make the connection with the animals on the page and easily see the parallels in their own life.

The bird keeps wishing for more throughout the book. He sees the horses and wants to run around the field like they do. He sees the frogs on the lily pad and wants to jump like the reptiles. In every situation though, mother bird shows how caring she is and reminds the bird of the things he can do, that other animals can’t.

Like most guardians, mother bird was always concerned with the bird and tried to make him feel better any time he felt low. A loving and caring mother is what every offspring wishes to have. I appreciate the author’s use of animal characters to bring out habits that are often seen in people. I think this is an important lesson that children of any age should learn.

Be Happy To Be You is not only entertaining, but also informative. The coloring and stunning drawings make the book both entertaining and fun to read. The images of the frogs were my absolute favorite. I wish I could put them in a frame. Every young person who struggles with not being satisfied with what they have will find this book educational.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: 1387596985

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The Day That A Ran Away

The Day That A Ran Away by [Fegan, B.C.R.]The Day that A Ran Away is an adorably witty story about the letters of the alphabet just deciding not to report for duty one day. Master Jet is trying to write the alphabet and he just can’t do it with all the letters on holiday. Each letter has either decided not to show up or has had something that prevented it from showing up. Understandably, it’s hard to write the alphabet without even one of the letters. Master Jet may think he is fooling his teacher, but Mrs. May is way too smart to fall for his creative tricks.

My kids are much older now, but they would have loved this book when they were little. The writing is catchy and flows well for reading aloud. The rhymes are cute. The colors are bright and eye-catching. This was especially always a hit with my own children. The illustrations are beautiful. It is very visually pleasing. It is also funny. It made me laugh a couple of times. I actually think it would be fun to read aloud. Any parent who has had to read the same book one hundred times can tell you how important it is to have a story that flows well verbally.

My favorite part of the book is the beautiful illustrations. They are by Lenny Wen. As with most children’s books, the illustrations are a huge part of whether the book is a hit or not. Since most kids are being read to at this stage, the illustrations have to really appeal to them. A nice touch was adding a few “hidden” images within each letter’s page—having the kids match the letter with the object. My kids would have loved trying to find these little gems. Overall, the artwork is beautifully done.

Together B.C.R. Fegan and Lenny Wen have created a catchy, appealing story for little kids and their parents. I really enjoyed it. I believe kids and parents everywhere would enjoy it as well.

Pages: 33 | ASIN: B07DMN4VVP

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Burnt Face: Scarred for Life

Burnt Face: Scarred for Life by [Swann, Annette]

Burnt Face is an outstanding contribution to the world delivering truth, reality and, emotion. Right from the beginning, I was left feeling an array of emotions which demonstrate the author’s ability to create an emotional story that brought tears to my eyes. Burnt Face: Scarred For Life is a true story about the author (Annette Swann) and how her life was changed in a heartbeat. This incredibly moving, thought-provoking, and true-life story really does get the reader feeling a range of emotions, making this one of the best reads for me.

The story is written in first person narration which means we are instantly drawn into Annette’s thoughts, experiences and way of life. This harrowing story highlights how one person’s life can dramatically change. Annette’s childhood was unlike any other. Having to face typical childhood problems and bullies, but she also had to face a world where people would stare and make comments about her looks.

Annette’s face suffered third degree burns at the innocent age of 9. That being said, Annette shows in her writing that she can demonstrate more courage, passion and life-experience than many of us put together. At times, I felt it difficult to read. Not because of the writing, but because of how emotional the whole story is. I think Annette Swann has done a remarkable job with regards to sharing her life experiences, and pure admiration is felt throughout the novel.

The story allows the reader to see what life for Annette was like before and after the tragic third degree burns. This helps to really get the reader feeling all-sorts of emotions, including how life can be unexpected, and unimaginable events can happen to the best of us.

One of the great things that Swann articulates in her writing is the importance of real-life issues and experiences. The author reinforces her personal experiences, which really makes this book different from others. I can honestly say that I felt privileged to read such a heartfelt novel that really does make you question all of the important things in life. The novel is great for anyone who loves biographical stories.

Although Annette Swann may not be the strongest and most articulate writer, what she does really focuses on is personal experience, in order to engage with her readers, and I think she does this exceptionally well. This is by far one of the best biographical novels I have read in a long time. The author’s optimism and spirit shines throughout her writing.

After reading this book, I left feeling a sense of admiration for Annette Swann. Despite all of what she has been through, she has been able to turn a tragic event into something positive. This is an emotional and harrowing story that is drawn from personal experiences. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a lover of personal experiences, personal journey’s, biographies, and real eye-opening true stories.

Pages: 173 | ASIN: B077Z7WDGP

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The Troubling Designs of their Lives

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Arnold Holtzman Author Interview

Neurotic Children as Adults is a guide to help parents understand themselves and in effect become better parents. Why was this an important book for you to write?

After several decades of professional experience with clients who had been overtaken by serious neurotic disturbances in both their social and intimate partner relationships, along with damaging perceptions of self-worth, and with lives simply going nowhere, it was as clear as the noonday sun how maternal deficiencies and abject parental failures, often from day one, determined the troubling designs of their lives as adults. Inasmuch as I had written this book for young parents whose intentions were essentially very positive but whose own histories perhaps lacked bonding experiences, the experience of worthiness, and a recognition of their most fundamental security needs, it was also written for the adults who might identify with people described on these pages and grasp what had so mangled their own lives. True, genuinely absorbed awareness of what was responsible for the neurotic designs in their personalities offers, in effect, the only leverage permitting lasting therapeutic adjustments.

What do you feel is one common misconception people have about parenting?

Parents rarely grasp the degree to which a child is powerfully molded by just about everything that defines its earliest home environment. Up until about the age of eight the parents are seen as the life models with which they must identify and emulate. Later they may insist that the very opposite is true, but the patterns are effectively ingrained.The early experience of an unstable home environment, grievous emotional scarring, serious and prolonged parental discord produces children who, as adults, are without the capacity to experience true joy in any area of their lives.

I thought you showed a solid grasp of psychology and behaviorism. What background in education or experience do you have that helped you write this book?

A Ph.D. in the behavioral sciences, many decades of private clinical experience and almost as many decades lecturing on these experiences. The last decade included laboratory work in psychiatric hospitals and papers on biometric diagnostic procedures published in academic psychiatric journals.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

When therapy fails it is largely because the therapist has no idea what may be at the root of his, or her, client’s distress. The therapist is entirely without access to the history of the client’s earliest pre-conscious experiences – information that is almost always vital in grasping the very reasons why that person had been moved to invite professional intervention. What sets this book apart from every other in the genre of child development and parenting issues are the perfect links it presents between very specific infant/child stress experiences, and equally specific disturbing attitudes and behaviors in the adult. Nothing is ever lost to memory even such as transpired in the earliest development phases. This work is intended, in the main, as a guide for the genuinely devoted parents of infants and young children. At the same time it delivers clear answers to adults weighed under by lives going nowhere and suffering anxieties of an unforgiving nature.

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Faithful to Egyptian Style

George Neeb Author Interview

George Neeb Author Interview

Pharaoh’s Arrow is a picture book that tells a fascinating story using authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings. What was the inspiration that made you want to put this book together?

I have taught elementary school for over 25 years. I have always found that using picture books is a great way to teach subjects like history and art to students. Picture books bring history alive. I found in teaching about Early Societies that there was an abundance of information books but not picture book narratives. I wanted to create a resource that teachers or any Egyptology fan could use and enjoy that included factual information but was also entertaining. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought this would be a great way to break into writing and illustrating picture books.

Each piece of artwork in the book was done by you on papayri. What was that process like?

The illustrations are actually done on paper to replicate the look of papyrus. I included directions in the back of the book, so readers can create similar drawings. The secret is to colour with pencil crayon, as this medium will resist paint. Then I painted over the coloured illustration using brown and yellow tempera paint. I used a large paint brush and painted both directions leaving the brush strokes showing. Last, I covered the wet paint with a disposable cloth and rubbed the cloth then removed the cloth. That is how the look of papyrus is achieved. It is simple yet works. I hope readers will try it out. I made a Youtube video to demonstrate the technique and colouring pages are found on my website https”//georgeneeb.ca

I felt that you did a great job of getting the facts of ancient Egypt correct. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?

I spent months researching how the Egyptian drew everything. I looked through lots of information books about Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians had a distinct way of drawing. Their style is simple yet graceful. I’ve heard the Egyptians described as the first graphic artists. People were drawn in profile but with forward facing eyes and shoulders. It is almost a contorted look. I also researched how trees, homes, palaces and animals were drawn. Egyptians didn’t uses perspective and size differences were usually due to importance, so sometimes the Pharaoh was drawn larger than everyone else. This made illustrating the book challenging because I couldn’t draw a lot of varied perspectives, such as a bird’s eye or an ant’s eye point of view. I really could only do some close ups in order to keep faithful to Egyptian style.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is totally different. It is a story about an overweight girl that longs to be a super hero, but her mother and aunt really pressure her to act like the other girls and try to be pretty and popular. When some bullies befriend her, she has to decide if this is the person she wants to be. I did the illustrations using cut paper and also dyed paper backgrounds. The book is in the editing stage, so I hope it will be ready by late summer. I am also writing a book about an Emperor and a dragon in Ancient China. It will be illustrated to look like Chinese silk paintings have come to life to tell the story.

Author Links: GoodReadsTwitterFacebook | Website

Pharaoh's Arrow by [Neeb, George]Akia loves living in an oasis far from the Nile River with her father. But when she is faced with another family tragedy, Akia embarks on a plan of revenge that takes her to the ancient capital of Memphis and to meet Almighty Pharaoh. She quickly learns that vengeance isn’t as easy as it may seem! Come visit Ancient Egypt through a tale told in rhyming couplets, authentic hieroglyphics and historic papyrus paintings come to life. Ages 8 – 11 or any Egyptology fan!

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My Broken Heart

Hannah R. Goodman Author Interview

Hannah R. Goodman Author Interview

Till it Stops Beating is an emotional but fun novel that follows young Maddie as she struggles with anxiety and following her heart. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this novel?

Maddie came to me when I was 15 and at a creative arts summer camp, recovering from an awful break up with my first real boyfriend. So, I created “Maddie” to help heal my broken heart. I went on to write my first novel, My Sister’s Wedding, which is a (highly) fictionalized version of that “bad romance”.

This book, TILL IT STOPS BEATING, was inspired by that same theme of heartbreak…but not only romantic heartbreak, but also the heartbreak of growing up and becoming aware that not everything lasts or is permanent and not everything can be fixed or solved.

My students, clients, and my own children and my position as a parent/teacher/therapist were major influences in shaping this novel. Specifically, my own struggle with anxiety and panic attacks were things that helped me to flesh out Maddie’s own mental health problems. It was therapeutic to write about her struggle to understand herself.

Maddie is a character that I felt I could relate to; we were all young once. What were some themes you wanted to capture while writing her character?

I wanted to capture and normalize the mental health issues that tend to come up during adolescence. When I had my own bout with anxiety and agoraphobia my senior year of high school, no one talked about this and it was lonely and isolating. I feel like this book is a conversation starter about anxiety.

This novel deals with the stress and anxiety young kids feel today. What do you feel is different about the challenges teens face today that is different from your generation?

I actually feel there is only one major difference—access to information and social media—and both of those things are double-edged, meaning there are positives and negatives to them. The stats around social media use and depression in teens pretty much says it all! However, access to information about mental health has also increased the awareness and possibly save lives. There is good and there is bad.

Teens have always and will always deal with the stress and struggle of growing up, no matter if you are a boomer, Gen-X-er, millennial, or a teen today, in 2018. As a Gen-Xer with a teenage daughter, I see so many similarities in terms of the angst and feelings; she and I are able to connect on that deep level because the feelings are epic, classic, and constant!

 What is the next book that you are writing and when will it be available?

Though I thought TILL IT STOPS BEATING would be the last Maddie book (there are 4 in total), I have more stories to tell about Maddie’s life as she becomes an adult and navigates college and even beyond.  I’ve outlined both books and am planning to pitch them to my publisher. Hopefully the first of these two will come out at the end of 2019 beginning of 2020.

 Author Links: GoodReadsTwitter | FacebookInstagramLinkedInAmazonWebsite

Till it Stops Beating by [Goodman, Hannah R.]Seventeen-year-old Maddie Hickman’s senior year begins with the good (the reemergence of The One That Got Away), the bad (a cancer diagnosis, not hers, but it might as well be) and the WTF (an anxiety attack that renders her writhing on the floor like an upside down crab). 

Adding to her spiraling anxiety is Senior Project, in the form of I’ve Decided To Write A Book about The Other One That Got Away (And Crushed My Heart). Compounding it all is applying to college and keeping up with her friends. The ever mounting stress eventually rips her tight grip on all that she holds dear.

Her break down leads to an unexpected road trip where she is forced to listen to her wildly beating heart. It is only in the back of a convertible with pop music blasting, that she discovers she must risk everything in order to really live.

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Freedom Justice Are Both

This book will hopefully bring the justice that should have been done in the first place. It has been a long ride of being hungry and lonely for the author. I really hope justice will come, and he will finally be happy and be with his kids again. It’s been so long I wonder, do his kids even know him anymore? I know it’s been a long battle for him. But we all know God got him.

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The Mansion Book Trailer

Murder and revenge set the stage for a twenty-five year old conspiracy ignited by a lie. Charles Whitney is a man whose unbridled lusts and passions eventually brings his family to their knees.The fictional town of Avondale, Connecticut provides the backdrop for delicious retribution and intrigue.

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Blindsided (Dear Grief Series)

Blindsided (Dear Grief Series) by [Gilbert, Dr. Chenee' L.]

Blindsided opens on a breezy, summery note; twelve-year-old LaTrell attends summer camp where she is thrown into a new group of friends and she wants to make a good impression. But this means defying her father and avoiding his suspicions. Soon it’s clear that she and her family are still dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s death. It shows how the family copes with the changes and react to the events following her death. The book also shows the relationships between LaTrell and her father Luis, and her nine-year-old brother Daryl.

The book is written in a simple way with a positive tone. This allows it to be aimed at families, not just young teenagers. Older children, (like Daryl) would be able to read this book with parents. The book explores a lot of difficult issues, mainly grief, but incorporates cyber-bullying and the general problem of fitting in. The positive tone encourages discussion and leaves the reader with the impression that experiencing these issues is okay.

There are questions at the end of each chapter – such as ‘What would you have done if you were in LaTrell’s shoes?’ These questions are a little unusual in a fictional book, but their purpose is evident. The questions encourage interactive reading. Older children who can read alone may use the questions to reflect on what they have read, or it may allow them to bring thoughts to their parents. For younger children, parents can raise these questions with them to encourage them to discuss their feelings.

The main theme of the book is dealing with grief and it is explored in conjunction with other childhood issues. Throughout the book the children are encouraged to discuss their feelings and any hardships with appropriate adults. This then shows the positive aspects and importance of good family relationships. LaTrell’s friendship with Peaches (who focuses on the relationship with her father) shows how friends can support positive relationships to develop within families, even at a young age and highlights the importance of childhood friends.

Through the strong bond between LaTrell and her father, the importance of mutual respect, compromise and communication is shown. For LaTrell it is important that she has freedom to make her own choices, looks cool and has a good reputation with her friends. So, it is key, that her father listens to her and though he does not always agree, he allows her to express herself in ways appropriate for her age. Through this, it highlights the importance of balance in the parent-child relationship.

Although Blindsided by Chenee’ Gilbert is a book that encourages communication and positive relationships, there is a lot of different events that occur in the book. Each of these is explored but there is room to go into a lot more detail with each one. The book has mostly positive outcomes, but we know that this is not always the case in real life – therefore if each issue was explored in more depth, then perhaps parents would be a little more prepared if their children are not as co-operative as LaTrell. Overall, I thought this was a very good book.

Pages: 206 | ASIN: B077YVWM8C

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